Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cupcake Vineyards Central Coast Merlot 2009

Sourced from vineyards in the Central Coast region, Cupcake Vineyards brings this California Merlot to the table for a mere $10 price tag but it's definitely worth way more. Good body weight and texture express aromas full of gusto, blueberries and red cherries, while on the palate smooth cassis and smoky flavors influenced by the oak and hints of coffee and dark chocolate. Supple tannins but smooth and attractive with a matching finish. Really like this as an every day Merlot.

The grapes were cool fermented with a serious regimen of pump-overs in the early stages of fermentation to extract the soft tannins and color during the aqueous phase. The grape skins were then pressed before the fermentation reached dryness to maintain the wines lush tannin structure. The must was kept cool during fermentation to help create a slower fermentation and allow the wine to retain more aromatic properties as well as complexity of flavor and body. The wine was aged in premium American oak barrels — adding richness and complexity.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Les Terroises Corbières 2008 AOP

From the French AOP of Languedoc, here is a blend of Carignan, Grenache Noir, Syrah, and Cinsault. Full bodied red, deep garnet colors, with aromas of dark fruit, blackberry, raspberry and spices, and some barnyard, dry on the tongue with medium plus tannins, more spice hints and a decent finish. SRP $10 and 12% alcohol. Recommended with sliced Serrano and Manchego.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Il Borro Lamelle Chardonnay 2006 IGT

The first time I tried this wine in 2009, this Chardonnay from the Ferragamo family's Tuscan vineyards, Il Borro had a pale yellow color... now after a few years in cellar it's a deeper golden. The fruity rich aromas of apple and peach are still present with notes of floral & lemon, but the oak has mellowed considerably. Flavors of pear and slight vegetal notes under citrus layers of grapefruit.

 Finishes long but smoothly.

Notes - The Chardonnay grapes for ‘Lamelle’ are carefully selected from vineyards within the Il Borro Estate in San Giustino Val d’Arno in Arezzo. The hand harvested grapes are immediately transferred to the winery and sorted manually. 50% of the wine is fermented in new French oak barriques & 50% in stainless steel for about 10 days.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Moderate Red Wine Drinking May Help Cut Women's Breast Cancer Risk, Cedars-Sinai Study Shows

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 6, 2012) – Drinking red wine in moderation may reduce one of the risk factors for breast cancer, providing a natural weapon to combat a major cause of death among U.S. women, new research from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center shows.

The study, published online in the Journal of Women’s Health, challenges the widely-held belief that all types of alcohol consumption heighten the risk of developing breast cancer. Doctors long have determined that alcohol increases the body’s estrogen levels, fostering the growth of cancer cells.

But the Cedars-Sinai study found that chemicals in the skins and seeds of red grapes slightly lowered estrogen levels while elevating testosterone among premenopausal women who drank eight ounces of red wine nightly for about a month.

White wine lacked the same effect.

Researchers called their findings encouraging, saying women who occasionally drink alcohol might want to reassess their choices.

“If you were to have a glass of wine with dinner, you may want to consider a glass of red,” said Chrisandra Shufelt, MD, assistant director of the Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and one of the study’s co-authors. “Switching may shift your risk.”

Shufelt noted that breast cancer is the leading type of women’s cancer in the U.S., accounting for more than 230,000 new cases last year, or 30 percent of all female cancer diagnoses. An estimated 39,000 women died from the disease in 2011, according to the American Cancer Society.

In the Cedars-Sinai study, 36 women were randomized to drink either Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay daily for almost a month, then switched to the other type of wine. Blood was collected twice each month to measure hormone levels.

Researchers sought to determine whether red wine mimics the effects of aromatase inhibitors, which play a key role in managing estrogen levels. Aromatase inhibitors are currently used to treat breast cancer.

Investigators said the change in hormone patterns suggested that red wine may stem the growth of cancer cells, as has been shown in test tube studies.

Co-author Glenn D. Braunstein, MD, said the results do not mean that white wine increases the risk of breast cancer but that grapes used in those varieties may lack the same protective elements found in reds.

“There are chemicals in red grape skin and red grape seeds that are not found in white grapes that may decrease breast cancer risk,” said Braunstein, vice president for Clinical Innovation and the James R. Klinenberg, MD, Chair in Medicine.

The study will be published in the April print edition of the Journal of Women's Health, but Braunstein noted that large-scale studies still are needed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of red wine to see if it specifically alters breast cancer risk. He cautioned that recent epidemiological data indicated that even moderate amounts of alcohol intake may generally increase the risk of breast cancer in women. Until larger studies are done, he said, he would not recommend that a non-drinker begin to drink red wine.

The research team also included C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, director of the Women’s Heart Center, director of the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center and the Women’s Guild Chair in Women’s Health, as well as researchers from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and Hartford Hospital in Connecticut.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Gabbiano Moscato 2010 DOC

100% white Moscato grapes from Piemonte are gently pressed within 4 hours of harvest and vinified in stainless steel for 5 days. Fermentation is arrested at 7% alcohol, and after primary fermentation the wine goes through micro-filtration and then to bottle.

Straw colors, and nice effervescence. The nose? It's as if you just walked into a bakery, then there's vanilla and fresh fruit. Flavors of sweet ripe golden apple, pear and even some orange. The finish is long and delicious.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Castello di Gabbiano Alleanza 2008 IGT Tuscany

In 1124 the seeds of a house of wine were planted. According to legend a Knight on horseback, or Cavaliere, was charged with the protection of The Castello Gabbiano in 12th century Tuscany. The Cavaliere graphic on the label today represents the Tuscan region combining age old traditions of Chianti with modern winemaking techniques led by winemaker Giancarlo Roman.

The handpicked fruit from the excellent 2008 vintage (warm days, cool nights) are from estate vineyards and consist of 83% Merlot, 12% Sangiovese and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Crushed and fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, next pumpover techniques are used to maximize color and flavor extraction, then the juice transferred into French oak barriques and left on the lees for two months. This also adds richness and texture. The wine is then racked (lees removed), and it's into new French oak barriques for 18 months before bottling.

Thick ruby purple color in the glass along with verdant aromas of licorice, clove, spice and black pepper, complemented by flavors of ripe cassis and mild vegetal notes. Provides a very near perfect balance of tannins and acidity and pleasantly long finish. 14% Alcohol and $35 SRP.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Rasciatano Malvasia Bianca 2009 IGT

From Puglia Italy, made from hand selected Malvasia grapes fermented in stainless steel and oak, then aged for 4 to 6 months in stainless steel tanks before bottling.

Clear and clean lemon colors with medium acidity and body, medium intensity on the nose showing ripe floral aromas and baked apple. Complex flavors reflect floral notes, baked apple, toast, ginger and a vegetal edge of roasted green pepper, followed by a good long finish.

Paired well with baked salmon, butternut squash and kale.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Marques De Riscal Tempranillo Reserva 2005, Rioja Spain

In 1858 Herederos de Marqués de Riscal became the first winery in the Rioja to produce wines following the Bordeaux method of slow fermentation and careful blending. This 2005 is hand picked using only the best grapes of the vintage made from 90% Tempranillo with a 10% blending of Mazuelo & Graciano, and aged in American oak barrels for 2 years before bottling for a year before release, thereby softening the tannins a bit.

Deep purple rose colors, with beautiful swirls of umami, tobacco, dark black cherry, spice and a balsamic note on the nose. The palate echoes its spicy nature along with the cherries, but now the cherries are showing a smoky earth, violets and ripeness, and spreading the finish evenly to the back of the tongue in a wave of warmth. And the finish goes on for a good distance.

Depending on where you live you should be able to find a bottle for between $15 and $20 and it can be cellared for at least another 10 years. Alcohol by volume: 13.5%

Winemaker's notes:
A dark cherry color with good depth. Balsamic aromas with hints of ripe fruit, complex and spicy. The attack is fresh and light, with soft, rounded tannins. The finish proves persistent with some reminders of toasted oak. Its passage through the mouth is pleasant and elegant, fresh and easy to drink.