theCorkHead.com

theCorkHead.com

The online home of Mark “The Cork Head” Stuart, Certified Wine Professional, speaker/educator, judge, and columnist.

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June 2017
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2012 Dry Creek Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Review

2012 Dry Creek Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Review

Ok, I’ll say it.  I’m not shy…well generally.  Here it goes.

Without any doubt, the 2012 Dry Creek Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc from Dry Creek Valley is the best USA-born sauvignon blanc I’ve tasted in the fruit forward style. And, at $14.99 with this discount link, it just may be the best wine value of the year, period.

Powerful aromas of lime, tangerine, and lemon attack the nose from every direction. Similar flavors persist on the palate with a strongly delineated pineapple finish that lasts seemingly forever, all complimented by a terroir driven minerality found in the best wines from Dry Creek Valley. Typical of the varietal, the acidity has a laser focus on the tongue adding to the shockingly potent overall affect. Make no mistake, there is nothing thin or light about this stunner either.
In reality, my description above isn’t doing this wine justice. One could spend an our picking out its delineated complexities in a glass and not document them all.

I’d love to have it alongside anything from a cilantro-laced carnitas burrito to smoky sauce-slathered baby back ribs.

Quite simply, this will be the wine I give as gifts this holiday season.

I continue to be blown away by the value and quality of most all Dry Creek Vineyards offerings, but this one truly tops them all.

There.  That’s it!  There simply is nothing more to add.

2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling

Wow, has it been a warm start to the fall season or what!?!

When dinner time comes around with weather like this, the last thing on my mind is a giant plate of lasagna or some other heavy duty dish. I’m more likely to think Chinese food, Thai, or maybe a spicy grilled chicken salad.

My go to wine for dishes and weather like this is the Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling. Riesling??? Yep. Sorry chardonnay fans, riesling is easily the most important white grape in the world of wine, and it is much more food friendly as well.

Year in and year out, the Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling is one of the best wines for the dollar produced in the United States. It hails from the Columbia Valley region of Washington State, where the sun shines long in to the evening and ripens grapes fully, while the cool breezes off the nearby river help the grapes maintain a strong balance of acidity.

I just love this wine’s lime, peach, and overall purity of fruit. Also, the wine is not fermented to full dryness, leaving a small amount of sweetness in there to counterbalance spicy foods in just the right way. As an added bonus, the alcohol content is only 8.5%, so go ahead and enjoy a little extra to cool down after the sun sets on the dog days of summer.

Best of all, it is widely available between 6-9 bucks at Costco, Bevmo, and just about every grocery store in the cooler case.

Honestly, a little CSM Riesling and Chinese food is one of my all time go-to pairings. Give it a shot. You’ll write to thank me.

Salut!

2007 Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

So I was wasting a little time at the Vons grocery store in Pacific Beach last week and came across the 2007 Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley.

Like most winos I know, we are all suckers for a fairly priced Napa wine, and get especially excited when it is from the famed 2007 vintage.  So, I plunked a couple of them in my 10% discount 6 pack carrier and headed for self checkout.

It isn’t often I use the word “lovely” when describing cabernet sauvignon, but in this case it absolutely fits.  It offered a sound structure for mid-term cellaring, but was soft enough around the edges to please right now.

Over the 2 hours I tasted it, the wine  provided twists and turns as to what it predominantly offered…all I can ask from a bottle priced under $20!

I guess my palate still has it, as I see Wine Enthusiast gave it 93 points.  Certainly one of the best deals around.

Quality, complexity, and varietally correct.  Pick some up and confidently enjoy!

2007 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs

Founded in 1862 by Jacob Schram, Schramsberg Vineyards is not only one of the great sparkling wine houses in the United States, it is also among the most storied. The California Historical Society designated it as an Official Historical Monument in 1957.

The winery is one of the great tours in The Napa Valley where hand stacked bottles line natural caves dug by Chinese laborers over a century ago. Schramsberg Winery stands proud as a romantic marriage of then and now.

The 2007 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs, meaning “White from Reds”, is a limited production wine made from pinot noir and pinot meunier, two of the three traditional varietals which make up Champagne. Flavors of strawberry, cashews, and bread dough ooze from this very special wine made from perhaps the greatest vintage in Northern California history.

I absolutely love this wine for a few reasons.  First, every time I open a bottle I remember the first time I visited their historic property.  The indelible visions of their Victorian home and more than a century old history come flowing back with every sip.  2nd, the processes Schramsberg uses harken back to a different era of Napa…one before limousines and publicly traded companies…err..wineries.  As someone who has spent plenty of time in the Napa Valley, I’ve grown to love the wineries with true character, and ignore those who simply spend money in an attempt to create it.

So, the next time you are in the mood to sit back and relax with a sparkler, grab a 2007 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs.  You’ll thank me for it.

Most important to remember, it is not what is in your glass, it is who you share it with. Great wine always pairs best with friends and family.

2009 Franciscan Estate Sauvignon Blanc

So I know it has been a while since I posted a wine review.

Honestly, I’ve just been incredibly busy with my job that pays the bills, being a La Jolla real estate agent. Actually, most of my business recently has been in UTC, North Park, and Pacific Beach. Anyway…

I’ve been dying to write about the 2009 Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc since I received the sample early this year.

Clearly it is not the grass bomb of New Zealand, nor does it have the piercing minerality of a Sancerre. What it does offer are aspects of both of these sauvignon blanc stalwarts while offering the distinctly Californian touch of ripe fruit and the most pure streak of lime since you licked the saltless rim of a margarita.

This will be one of the top 5 California whites I taste all year.

Though I won’t be offering a point score for this wine, ( it clearly doesn’t need it) I know I will buy it, drink it, and give it as a gift with confidence!

2008 La Follette Sangiacomo Vineyard Pinot Noir

Words such as complex, concentrated, and elegant are thrown about in the wine world like balls in a McDonald’s play pen enclosure.

Well, I’m here to tell you that no 3 words could be more accurate than when applied to the 2008 La Follette Sangiacomo Vineyard Pinot Noir.  A wine that is nothing short of magnificent.  Read More

2007 Dry Creek Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

Wow. 

I really wasn’t in the mood to blog tonight, but when I opened and tasted the 2007 Dry Creek Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay I just had to sit down and pound out  a few paragraphs!

I must admit that I’m a RRV chardonnay honk, as I much prefer the characteristics that come out of this AVA’s best vineyards over her sometimes more heralded Napa and Carneros bretheren.  However, I’ve had more than my fair share of really bad RRV chards before too. Read More

2007 Bonterra Viognier, Organically Grown

2007 Bonterra Viognier:

If the sensual texture isn’t enough to make you smile, the beautiful perfumed nose of orange blossom, apricot, and beeswax certainly will. A strong impression of stone minerality comes forward on the palate, making this wine act like a squeaky clean “old world” viognier.

Die-hard chardonnay fans typically find a bottle of viognier in front of them at some point and are amazed at how delicious they are.  Bonterra consistently produces a superb quality example, and an organic one to boot.  Read More

2006 Kenwood Zinfandel, Jack London Vineyard

2006 Kenwood Zinfandel, Jack London Vineyard:

Characteristic ripe and under-ripe red berry aromas come together with the subtle use of oak and seasoned with a hint of clove spice. Tannins and acids are slightly elevated, but in balance contributing to a fuller body style.

Zinfandel ranks only behind cabernet sauvignon among red varietal plantings in California, with single vineyard Sonoma zins among the most important.

Try with a honey glazed ham dotted with clove and be very, very happy.

14.5% alcohol, 92 points.

I’ve seen this wine a number of places, including BevMo and Costco, priced between $15-$20.

2007 Girard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley

2007 Girard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley:

When chardonnay stays away from the heat of the Napa Valley it retains an entirely different character. Acidity, oak, and fruit harmonize into a beautiful example of why the Russian River Valley is arguably the most important region for this varietal in the United States. Read More