Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wine Wednesday - Born in the USA

With as much wine tasting, drinking, assessing that I do...I'm kinda embarrassed to say that I don't do too much with American wines outside of VA and MD in my leisure. What's up with that?! Knowing that as a 'wine professional' I probably need to do better about that going forward and Zola Wine & Kitchen was going to help. They were taking me on the Grape American Road Trip.
For the Grape American Road Trip, ZWK had Andrew Stover (Chief Wino) of Vino 50 and Rachel Martin of Boxwood Winery on hand to pour a few American wines that weren't from California. Perfect! Especially to have the chance to chat with Rachel Martin for a bit, I was just at the Boxwood Winery Tasting Room last week and bought a bottle of the dry Rose. Great stuff, but we'll save that for another blog post. I was at a tasting table with wines from Idaho and Colorado! With 4 whites and 2 reds on the table, I started with a Pinot Gris.

Jack Rabbit Hill Organic Pinot Gris

North Fork Valley, Colorado

Certified Organic, this Pinot Gris used no commercial yeasts or additives and was fermented in stainless steel. Slight minerality on the palate but definitely an essence of lemon and floral notes too. This wine had a great balance between its dryness and acidity. Crisp and refreshing, perfect for the heat of the day. I would love to sip on this alone or pair with some grilled tilapia.

Red Tail Ridge Unoaked Chardonnay

Finger Lakes, New York

Chardonnay is a grape that can take on many flavors, most of them coming from the oak if it’s used. Without the use of oak in this wine I was able to notice aromas of apple and pear. And the flavor, kinda like whip cream and apples…very creamy mouthfeel with the apple flavor on the finish.

Sawtooth Chardonnay

Snake River Valley, Idaho

Back to the oak! I personally like oak in my wines, the rich flavors of wood, toast, oak, tobacco…. I tasted all of that and more in my glass. Flavors of wet stones, tropical fruit and apple pushed through the oak and exploded in my mouth. Crisp acidity and the lingering tropical fruit flavors left a finish that I could taste long after the wine was gone.

Six Prong Red Blend

Columbia Valley, Washington

A blend of 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Zinfandel, 17% Malbec, 17% Syrah, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc (all the reds I like), I doubted this wine would disappoint. It didn’t. Rich berry aromas swirled in my glass, my mouth salivated before I took a sip. On the palate - strawberry, cherry, raspberry, every rich, ripe, red berry you can imagine with such a silkiness in the mouth…OMG! To finish up, this wine provided spice and a subtle oak.

Boxwood Topiary

Middleburg, Virginia

I was fortunate enough to have visited this winery during the Drink Local Wine Conference. What a beautiful place! They only make 3 wines, all reds and produced in the style of French Bordeaux. This one, Topiary, is a blend of Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc and is reminiscent of the Saint-Emilion style of wines. Aromas of black fruit, but the palate showed spicyness and an herbal quality. A hint of strong tannins right now, not enough to stop me from drinking this now…but wondering how smooth and silky this wine will taste in 3 years.

The wines tasted are definitely ones that can contend with some of my fav French and Spanish wines. The prices are reasonable as well, the least expensive wine on the table was $14. But for people to begin to drink more American wines, outside of CA of course, we need more tastings, more restaurants and retailers offering the wines. You know Americans aren't going to buy an American wine they've never tasted before at a certain price point. As for me, not a bad start as I begin tasting my way through the good ole US of A. Next up, Willamette Valley, Oregon. I've heard I'm sleeping on their Pinot Noir...

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