3 Merlots & a Bertolli

Merlot: Columbia Crest, 14 Hands, Bogle

Merlot: Columbia Crest, 14 Hands, Bogle

I was gifted a bottle of Merlot in the $10 price range & asked if I wouldn’t mind reviewing it…of course not!

So this is for you, Dominick…Thank you!

I decided to compare it with 2 other Merlots in the same price range and see how they stood on their own and up to food.

#1) 2011 Columbia Crest Grand Estates, Columbia Valley, Washington.

Smell: dried cherries, green herbs, vanilla.

Taste: cedar, dark chocolate, vanilla with a hot, dry tannic finish that lasted awhile on the palate. This wine was made to go with food.

#2) 2012 14Hands Vineyards, Columbia Valley, Washington.

Smell: very faint cedar, vanilla, cranberries.

Taste: assorted dried red/black fruit & smoke with a round mouth feel and soft tannins and short finish. Very drinkable on its own.

#3) 2011 Bogle Vineyards, California.

Smell: dirt, dark chocolate, dried cherries.

Taste: cherry, eucalyptus, with some earthiness in the soft, short finish. I was ambivalent about this.

I paired the wines with Bertolli’s Chicken Marsala & Roasted Redskin Potatoes. I love Bertolli! It’s so convenient to cut open a bag, pour the ingredients in a pan and heat it on the stove top. You are done in 15 minutes. Very good “sporkable” food.

Bertolli: Chicken Marsala & Roasted Redskin Potatoes

The Columbia Crest went well with the dish. The wine actually made the Marsala sauce a little sweeter (what’s not to like about that). I think that was from the vanilla aspect I kept tasting from the wine.

The 14Hands really did nothing to the food. I was a bit disappointed.

Bogle was a good pairing because it give the food a more earthy, robust flavor.

Overall, I would take Columbia Crest &  Bogle to a pizza party and everyone would like them.

The 14Hands, I would just enjoy on its own. It’s definitely for relaxing. I would even consider this a good Summer red wine.

Cheers Y’all!

Lori – Your Twisted Sommelier


I Love This Texas Wine!

2010 Calais Tailleur Zinfandel/Sangiovese Blend

2010 Calais Tailleur Zinfandel/Sangiovese Blend

When my friend Benjamin Calais said he was working on a blend of Zinfandel & Sangiovese, I thought that this was going to be an interesting fun wine to drink, but I didn’t think it would be so sublime and food friendly.

Most of the time when I think of Zinfandel, it is the bold, dark fruit with lots of pepper and high alcohol wine that I can only have with food because I feel like my mouth is on fire. But this is different because of the blending with the Sangiovese. Benjamin really knew what he was doing with this wine.

The Sangiovese gives the wine a soft earthiness and a brightness of cherry. It has a wonderful finish and it is relatively low in alcohol 13.4% so it is very drinkable on its own.

I did an experiment with different foods:

Fried black-eyed peas (yes I brought them home from the Texas State Fair). The peas were nutty, earthy and spicy. The dark fruit of the wine tempered the spiciness of the peas, but the peas kept their nutty flavor. It was a fun pairing.

This wine also went well with salmon in a maple peppercorn glaze. Again, the dark fruit tempered the spiciness of the peppercorn, and the bright cherry aspect of the wine helped keep the sweetness of the maple. Because this wine is medium bodied, it did not over power the fish.

Pairing this wine with meat sauce and spaghetti was a no-brainer. All I can say is that I wish I could have had more of both but being bloated and drunk ain’t pretty…

So here’s the snap shot:

100% Texas grapes from the High Plains AVA

75% Zinfandel 25% Sangiovese

Aged 15 months in French oak

13.4% alcohol

Smell: black cherry, nutmeg, plum, caramel Taste: plum, licorice, bright cherry,raspberry, earth, with soft tannins.

This wine was opened for 3 days (I kept it in the door of the fridge & used a rubber stopper) and it was still good to drink.

October is Texas Wine month and I can’t think of a better wine to celebrate with!

Cheers Y’all!

By the way, for those who are lucky enough the be in Dallas Nov. 3rd; it is the Dallas Wine Trail. Go to the site to get the low down and hopefully Benjamin will be pouring this wine.

Stolpman Vineyards

A couple of years ago, I stumbled across a tasting room in Solvang, California for the Stolpman Winery and I fell in love with everything they had to offer. This was before I got really serious about wine. I now use some of their wines to compare with others and I still feel that Stolpman is still producing a top quality product.

Stolpman is known for their Syrah, of which they have several variations. Each Syrah, whether it is the “Estate”, “Originals” or “Hilltops”, has its own character depending on where in the vineyard it was grown. A personal favorite of mine is the “Hilltops” and I really don’t care which vintage…it’s all good.

Stolpman is also where I became fanatical about Grenache. I love the spicy aspects of this wine and the soft tannins it can have. I also discovered Roussanne here. Stolpman calls it “L’Avion” which is French for “The Airplane” because the grapes are planted close to an old air strip. This wine is very full bodied with rich fruit and honey with a little oily texture.

Another thing I like about Stolpman is a training/ownership program for “La Cuadrilla” (Spanish for “The Crew”). A block of the vineyard is given to the crew to maintain and proceeds from the sales of the wine from that block are given as bonuses.

By the way, the tasting room has moved from Solvang to Los Olivos. And they have added a tasting room in Lompoc.

My last visit which was in December ( I know! I’m sorry I’m JUST getting around to writing this!) I went to the Los Olivos location and was throughly entertained and impressed with Kari, who I could tell loved the winery she was representing….Thank You Kari!

Stolpman Website:http://www.stolpmanvineyards.com/

Cheers Y’all!