Celebrating the Grgich Hills Estate 40th Anniversary Chardonnay: Founder Mike Grgich, Co-proprietor Violet Grgich and winemaker Ivo Jeramaz. Photo courtesy Grgich Hills Estate
Community Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: The ‘Great Eight’ from quarter one 2017

The first few months of any wine year are always fun and exciting, as road shows and other grand events are presented, with a multitude of new wine releases to become familiar with.

Aside from a few rainouts and a bout with a severe virus, I attended and tasted most all of the invites that came my way.

Every few months I open all the wine notes and share my picks with the column faithful. This time there are four from Napa Valley, two from Oregon, one from Paso Robles and one from Argentina. There are two blends, two Pinot Noirs, a Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Malbec and a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Prices are best available and the list is alphabetical. All are equally excellent values.

Acumen Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Calif., 2013; $60.  Inhale violets and fresh rosemary.  Catch the fresh turned earth tones. Must be the Rutherford dust in this part of the valley. There were 2,500 cases produced. Visit acumenwine.com.

Argyle Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Ore., 2013; $27.  This reserve is classic Burgundian powerful Pinot with a silky texture.  Willamette Valley is more Old World than New World.  Small batch handling and gentle aging for 16 months in French Oak. See argylewinery.com.

Biale Vineyards Black Chicken Zinfandel, Napa Valley, 2014.  $46. Dark, ripe aromatics and juicy acidity.  Muscular with 15.3% alcohol. Vibrant cherry berry flavors and aged 14 months.  Black Chicken was a secret code from the Depression days.  Read about it at biale.com.

Conundrum Red Blend, Napa Valley, Calif., 2014; $20.  A scent of alluring German chocolate, rich berry and lavender. Lush flavors of candied cherries fit nicely in the front palate.  The finish is that of cocoa. Serve more chilled than a normal red.  conundrumwines.com.

Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Calif., 2014; $50.  A special bottling from a key vintage, that celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the founding of Grgich Estates in Rutherford, Napa Valley in 1977. It showcases Mike Grgich’s style that made him famous at the 1976 breakthrough Paris Tasting. View more at grgich.com.

San Simeon Stormwatch Blend, Paso Robles, Calif., 2013; $70.  A rich, mouth-filling wine of dark cherry and raspberry. French oak barrels add a sense of elegance to the presentation. This is a Bordeaux style blend prominently Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with touches of Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cab Franc. Made by the renowned Riboli family, well known for their stewardship of San Antonio Winery in downtown L.A. since 1917.  Visit sansimeonwines.com.

Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec, Mendoza Argentina, 2012; $21.  Grapes from the Lujan de Cuyo vineyards planted in 1912.  This is very high altitude viticulture from over 3,000 acres. Look for more at excelciorwines.com.

Willakenzie Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley Ore., 2013;  $16.99.  Here’s a low-ball price from another lovely Pinot from the Willamette Valley. Ruby red and purple with a juicy raspberry flavor. Should even get better with some age. Pairs great with salmon and roasted poultry.  WillaKenzie.com.


Ramona Valley Wines Awarded Gold in San Francisco

The 2017 San Francisco Chronicle competition, judging over 7,000 entries, awarded two silvers to the Ramona Ranch winery for its 2012 Reserve Sangiovese and a Tannat 2013.

Altipiano Vineyard and winery co-Owner Peter Clarke, left, pours a Super Tuscan for columnist Frank Mangio. The wine was a recent gold medal winner. Photo courtesy Frank Mangio
Altipiano Vineyard and winery co-Owner Peter Clarke, left, pours a Super Tuscan for columnist Frank Mangio. The wine was a recent gold medal winner. Photo courtesy Frank Mangio

Two bronzes and a gold medal were awarded to Altipiano vineyard and winery. The bronze medals went to its 2014 Petite Sirah and the 2014 Estate Sangiovese. The big prize of gold went to the 2014 Super Tuscan made with the Estate Sangiovese Grosso, Brunello clone of Montalcino.

Denise Clarke is the winemaker.  She also makes Baerbera, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Zinfandel and Pinot Gris.

Details at altipianovineyard.com.


Wine Bytes

Tasting Room Del Mar has an Ole’ Imports Spanish Wine Tasting, March 29 from 6 to 9 p.m.  Everything from the bubbles of Cava to the fortified Sherry will be tasted. Cost is $25 for seven wines.  Call (760) 212-7826.

Brews, Beats and Eats is the theme at Chandler’s in the Cape Rey Resort in Carlsbad March 24 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the poolside beer garden. Brews from Stone Brewing, beats from the Ottopilot band and eats from the Cape Rey Taco Bar, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to the California Surf Museum. Tickets range from $15 to $35.  See eventbrite.com.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading commentators on the web.  View his columns at tasteofwinetv.com and reach him at mangiompc@aol.com.

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