Saturday, August 29, 2015

Principles of Enjoying Wine at Family Camp

Scattered around the United States are hundreds of generally wonderful establishments called "family camps".  For those uninitiated, these are sessions, lasting typically from several days to a week in length, where families come together with other families for activities and meals in an interesting, attractive, usually rustic environment.  Sometimes they are sponsored by YMCA or YWCA, sometimes by private camps, sometimes by universities or nature centers.


We've enjoyed a couple of varieties of family camps over the years, and have been regular attendees for over 30 years at a singular camp based in the Berkshires, Massachusetts.  Our four grown children make regular pilgrimages back.

Family camps sometimes welcome wine, and sometimes frown upon it.  As both a wine and a family camp aficionado, I thought I would offer here a few general principles with respect to wine at family camp:

Discretion is ALWAYS welcome.  There are children everywhere; and their parents will sport all different perspectives on alcohol.  My coffee mug is opaque, thermal and ubiquitous (it's a "Bubba" brand).  It's with me from morning to night.  Folks wonder how I can  drink so much coffee all day and night and still sleep!  (The truth is, sometimes, especially late in the day, my coffee mug isn't sporting coffee.)

It is not about the quality or quantity of the wine, it is about the company.  Pinot schmino, cabernet schnabernet.  Are these good people and are you enjoying the conversation?  There's a time for quality and a time for simple joy.

It's about the setting, not about the stemware.  C'mon - a cheap cab from a plastic cup while overlooking some of the most spectacular scenery you've ever seen can beat even a 94 point cab, served in a Riedel in a busy midtown restaurant.

It's definitely not about the quantity.  Many family camps separate sleeping from rest areas by quite some yardage.  At 3:40a.m., that distance can seem infinite as you dodge trees and raccoons.  You may want to pass on that last glass of wine before bed and simply enjoy the conversation.

(c) Copyright 2015 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: **+ $ Fish Eye Shiraz, South Eastern Australia, 2013 = PRACTICALLY FREE

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Fish Eye Shiraz.

Original tasting and review : This is Fish Eye Shiraz, South Eastern Australia, 2013, finished at 13.5% alcohol and first sampled 2 years from vintage date, in August, 2015.

Inspired by this wine:  Enjoying an "old school" day of fun with your buddies:  puffing on a smoke and makin' plans.

In the glass: Dark ruby.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows light, shy red berries.  From the aroma, seems like this will be simple and generic.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact richer with fruit and tannins than anticipated.  Clean red berries turn to grippy tannins after a couple of seconds.  Bright acid wash to clean things out at the finish.

In summary: Overall, rates two stars with a plus for liveliness on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Fish Eye Shiraz.

(c) Copyright 2015 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Review: **+ $ Rex-Goliath Giant 47 Pound Rooster Pinot Noir, America, non-vintage = PRACTICALLY FREE

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Rex-Goliath Giant 47 Pound Rooster Pinot Noir.

Original tasting and review : This is Rex-Goliath Giant 47 Pound Rooster Pinot Noir, America, non-vintage, finished at 12.5% alcohol and first sampled in August, 2015.


Inspired by this wine:  Throwing on an oversized purple shirt, going to blow some  big bubbles in the breeze.

In the glass:  Magenta/ruby.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows bright red berries, quite generic. From the aroma, seems like this will be light bodied and bright toned, yet sweet.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact bright red currants and light but sweet merlot fruit.  Enjoyable sip that fades and finishes fast.  Fun experience, but not one to share with your pinot-loving colleagues.

In summary: Overall, rates two stars with a plus for pleasantness on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  Not too bad at its "practically free" price point!

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Rex-Goliath Giant 47 Pound Rooster Pinot Noir.

(c) Copyright 2015 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Spirit of Wine Review & Rating: **+ $ Bixler Vineyards Union Island White, Delta Region, California, 2009

Find prices and retail availability for Bixler wines.

By way of background: The Delta Region of California is tucked between San Francisco Bay and the Sierra Mountains.  Bogle Vineyards and Winery is probably the most widely known of the small contingent based in the area.

Initial review , May, 2011: This is Bixler Vineyards Union Island White, Delta Region, California, 2009, a blend of white grape varietals finished at 12.3% alcohol. This is part of the Wine Insiders collection California Wine Club Selection, with review sample provided by Wine Insiders. 

In the glass:  Bixler White is medium yellow with a definite golden tint.

On the nose: Poured cool with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, shows sleek and deep citrus with a penetrating pineapple element.  From the aroma, seems like this will be full, lush, yet with layers of brightness and sleek fruit.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact quite sweet and somewhat sleek attack. Carries a light butterscotch as its primary flavor element.

In summary: Overall, rates two stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.

Following long decant, two days kept cool in partially-filled bottle:  Consistent aroma, deeper now.  Intriguing.  Balanced lemon acids, butterscotch fruit and sleekness on the palate.  Gains a star for this balance.
----------

Inspired by this wine, August, 2015:  Enjoying a sweet lemon ice at the county fair.  Balanced and fun now - easy three stars with extra time in the bottle.

(c) Copyright 2011, 2015 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  (If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.)  


Find prices and retail availability for Bixler wines.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review: **+ *** ***+ $ The Pepi Winery White Wines of California, 2011

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Pepi wines.

By way of background, opening thoughts:  Today we are tasting across the white wine line from Pepi Winery, which has been producing value-priced California white wines for over 40 years and which has provided the tasting samples - all from the 2011 vintage.  First sampled in August, 2012.
----------------------

Tasting and review : This is Pepi Sauvignon Blanc, California, 2011, finished at 13% alcohol, and produced from grapes grown in the Clarksburg and Lake County regions.

In the glass: Clear with very light hints of yellow and gold.

On the nose: Poured very cool and swirled vigorously, shows bright and substantial grassiness, with slight hints of pea soup.  From the aroma, seems like this will be tangy yet full.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact grapefruit and citrus in tone with a clean, quick finishing wash. 

In summary: Overall, rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, making this a best value selection.
----------------------

Tasting and review : This is Pepi Pinot Grigio, California, 2011, finished at 12.5% alcohol, and produced from grapes in the Monterey and Sacramento regions. 

In the glass: Clear with light vanilla and yellow overtones.

On the nose: Poured very cool and swirled vigorously, shows soft, slightly funky lemony citrus.   From the aroma, seems like this will be crisp and clean.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact a bit of funky yet crisp pear.  A bit of sugar grabs the back of your palate and becomes the finish.

In summary: Overall, rates two stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale with a plus for pleasantness in its styling.  Good value.

----------------------


Tasting and review : This is Pepi Chenin Blanc Viognier, California, 2011, finished at 13% alcohol and blended from grapes grown in the Clarksburg and Central Valley regions.

In the glass: Clear, light yellow in tone.

On the nose: Poured cool and swirled vigorously, shows bristling, white-flower aromatics.  From the aroma, this is quite beckoning and seems like it will deliver a bright but layered experience.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact soft, floral and seductively layered in style, showing soft peach, apple and pear, with sparkling sugar crisp coating.  The crispy sugar cleans up entirely on the way to the finish, however, yielding a lengthy but clean apple compote to contemplate.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars with a big plus for layers on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, yielding an easy best value recommendation.
----------------------


Tasting and review : This is Pepi Chardonnay, California, 2011, finished at 13% alcohol, with grapes sourced entirely from California's Central Coast.

In the glass: Clear light yellow, with little hints of green olive overtones. 

On the nose: Poured cool and swirled vigorously, shows robust fruit salad on the nose.  From the aroma, seems like this will be fresh and easy-going.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact softer, more layered with caramel and butterscotch than anticipated. The candy is clean, though, only lightly sweet, with underlying acidity pushing its way through to keep things on an upbeat note.  The finish is not long, but the sweet fruit fades gently and with appealing cleanliness.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a plus for its friendly depths.  Best value and beyond.

Inspired by this wine, August, 2015:  Skipping rocks for fun on the swift-flowing river.
----------------------

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Pepi wines.

(c) Copyright 2011 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Updated Review: *** $$ Chateau Sainte Colombe, Cotes de Castillon, France, 2004

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Chateau Sainte Colombe.

By way of background, opening thoughts: Here is a French red wine blend from the appelation called Cotes de Castillon.  This edition is a mix of 70% merlot and 30% cabernet franc and already has eight years of age since vintage date.  It also happens to hail from a property of Chantal and Gerard Perse, the pair best known for certain other chateaus: Pavie, Pavie Decesse and Monbousquet. 

Inspired by this wine, August, 2015: Hiking slow, thickets and brambles everywhere; you can even taste them!

Original tasting and review , September, 2013: This is Chateau Sainte Colombe, Cotes de Castillon, France, 2004, finished at 13.5% alcohol.

In the glass: Deep brick, not opaque anywhere in the glass.

On the nose: Poured cool with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, shows bold red fruit, surprisingly fresh and peppery for the age. A little hint of mature fruit seeps in around the edges.  From the aroma, seems like this will be bright and tangy - but hard to tell if there will be fruit there or only taut tannins.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact a full and balanced red sip.  Dry red currants are the primary note, with a touch of iron filings. Bright acids bring up the edges.

In summary: Overall, rates two stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.

Following long decant, full day kept cool in partially filled bottle: Still a bright red and peppery nose.  More balanced dry red berries. A plus added with the decant for its potential with food that will complement its sturdy red dryness.  Not a stand-alone sipper, however.
-----------------

Updated review, a year and a half later, now nine years from vintage date, October, 2013:  Still deep brick red in the glass.  Red pepper notes on the nose, less fresh than last year, but with the same elements.   The palate is rounder and better balanced now, with the currants softer and the iron filings having disappeared.  Still bright on the finish.  Edges up to three stars.

(c) Copyright 2011 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Chateau Sainte Colombe.