Sunday, July 31, 2016

Happy National Mutt Day.

Dogs, vines and wines - just a few of my favourite things (in that order, actually).  I have been posting a lot on Vinsanity about vines and wines lately, but not enough about dogs.  Or one dog in particular. So what better way to celebrate that today is National Mutt Day than by posting a photograph of the best poochie in the nation, Vinodog 2.
V2 has had a bit of a rough time the past 5 weeks - far too many trips to the vet - but she is on the mend now.  She's a great dog, very clever, bright and endlessly entertaining.  I could live without vines and wines, but I seriously could not live without dogs.
Happy National Mutt Day to every furry canine-companion in America!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A charming Riesling.

I love this wine (sorry, loved - it's all gone).  The Chateau Montelena, 2014 Riesling (Potter Valley AVA) was surprisingly moreish.  This Riesling had a beautiful, but subtle, nose of lemon and rose Turkish Delight with the faintest waft of petroleum.  The wine had a lemony-loveliness with the first palate-pleasing sip, which was followed by something decidedly tropical, then finished with a whisper of key lime. Oh, and the merest trace of residual sugar which gave the wine a wonderful mouth-coating appeal. Great balance, just delicious.
I have steered clear of Chateau Montelena wines for the longest time because I found them somewhat thin and uninteresting.  But Matt Crafton, Chateau Montelena's new winemaker, has crafted (sorry, I couldn't help myself) a really, really nice domestic Riesling.  I am looking forward to see what Mr. Crafton does with the reds.
I am really starting to appreciate wines made from the Riesling grape.  It's taken me a while, but I am beginning to understand why most wine connoisseurs consider Riesling to be the greatest of all wines.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Hello, veraison: Part 2.

Besides Syrah, Vinoland's Pinot grigio vines are also well into the process of veraison; berry colour is changing, sugars are accumulating, acid is decreasing.  This photograph also shows that lignification is taking place, another indicator of physiological ripening, as the shoots are changing from being supple and green, to woody and brown.  It'll very soon be time to apply the bird netting to Vinoland's white grape varieties.
On a related note, the Napa Valley's grape harvest for 2016 began yesterday at dawn.  Not as early as last year, but still early.  Just over 20 tons of Pinot Meunier were harvested at a vineyard in the southern end of Napa County which are destined to become Mumm Napa sparkling wine. I do hope that the folks at Mumm take these grapes and produce a 100% varietal sparkling Pinot Meunier with them (as they have in past vintages).  Pretty, please? Yum, yum, yum.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hello, veraison.

Whilst I was away; travelling, working, quaffing rosé, the Syrah vines have been busy doing their thing.  Veraison, the onset of ripening in the grapevines, is well on its way.  Valley wide, everywhere there are black grapes growing, grape clusters are increasingly conspicuous among the grapevine's canopy.  It's an exciting time.  Harvest 2016 is just around the corner.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Frequent Filler Program.

The title of today's post is not a typo.  I did actually intend to type the word 'filler' as opposed to the word  'flyer'.  (However, I do take exception to the American spelling of programme.  Just sayin'.)
I haven't had a drop of wine for over two weeks now because I have been dealing with a nasty summer cold.  But on the way home from work tonight I stopped at the Napa Wine Company (NWC) to pick up a growler of something to pair with dinner.  My nose is better.
After an initial investment of $10.00 for the bottle, an ever-changing selection of wines-on-tap can be had for a mere $10.00 per refill.  The NWC growler-programme also comes with a 'Frequent Filler' punch-card: for every five refills the sixth is free.  To pair with tonight's chicken dinner I chose a rosé of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault.  Very, very nice.  And fun. And a truly genius idea.  Growl on.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Where in the US of A is Vinogirl: 2016?

I recently decided that I didn't know nearly enough about the history of viticulture in the United States, so I have been making an effort to find books that will give me a better understanding of how American winegrape-growing arrived at where it is today.  Not just the genesis of grape growing in California (think Saint Junipero Serra), but in other states also. Thomas Pellechia's Over a Barrel was a fabulous introduction to the homegrown wine industry in New York's Finger Lakes.  Of course the winegrapes grown in the northern part of the state of New York were not the European winegrape-bearing Vitis vinifera that I am familiar with.  No, in the early days, the native grape species grown in vineyards around the Finger Lakes region for wine production were predominantly Vitis labrusca and Vitis rotundifolia.  I have tasted wines produced from these two American Vitis species (anybody remember my Wines of the World class?) and at best the wines produced from those grapes provided entertainment value only.
So where am I going with all of this?  Well, I am travelling at present visiting family members in the Beehive state - yes, I am in Utah once again (and have been since last Thursday).  But I could be forgiven for thinking I was actually in Pennsylvania as I spent some time today hanging out in an Amish store.  And it was in the Apple Creek Amish Market, in Provo, where I spotted some bottles of grape juice made from native American Vitis species.  Yes, an Amish store in this bastion of Mormonism.  But it's not wine, it is just juice made from V. rotundifolia, the Muscadine juice, and V. labrusca, the Concord juice - from Arkansas. Very convoluted. Just thought finding these two juices in an Amish shop was amusing (not amusing enough to buy, though).  Besides, I would have thought I'd have found some mead in the Beehive State.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Overachievers in Oakville.

No sight of veraison in Vinoland yet, but up in Oakville (at TWWIAGE) the onset of ripening in the Cabernet Sauvignon vines has definitely begun.  It's not a question of commercial farming over amateur farming (me, being the amateur), it is quite simply a matter of climate - it's quite a bit toastier 15 miles north of Vinoland in Oakville.  The first signs of veraison in Vinoland is usually in the Syrah vines, so I will keep an eye on them.  It's an exciting time of year if you're a grape because Mother Nature has decided that you need filling up with sugar, yum!
Posts have been a bit scarce on Vinsanity as my family arrived from England last Thursday.  I have had 5 fun-packed, but tiring days.  I intend to do some wine related outings with Thud, so hopefully I will have some fresh material to write about.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Home Winemakers Classic 2016.

I have only ever had a wine made from the Sagrantino grape just once before (Jacuzzi Family Vineyards), and I remember quite enjoying it.  So imagine my surprise when I spotted a homemade version at the 33rd annual Home Winemakers Classic which was held yesterday at the Charles Krug Winery.  Made from grapes grown in the Dunnigan Hills AVA, it was very nice wine (I believe it won best of show).  I also like the label.  Well, the 'Friendly Lion' on the label.
There were a couple of other reds I liked; a Nathan Cellars, 2013 'Beth' (Napa Valley AVA) and a Bunnell Family Vineyards, 2013 Cuvée (Atlas Peak AVA).  The white wines were all pretty dreadful.
As is our wont, Vinomaker and I bid on a wine-lot in the silent auction (which is always a feature of the event.  All proceeds go to the Dry Creek-Lokoya VFD).  We limited ourselves to just one lot, and we won it; four 750ml bottles of Pott, 2013 '20M3' Stagecoach Vineyard, Viognier (Napa Valley AVA).  Haven't tried it yet - that's a future post, perhaps.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Pine Ridge in my fridge.

This Chenin blanc-Viognier from Pine Ridge Vineyards is a wine that I have always found to be a pleasant tipple.  Well, nearly always.  I seem to recall that I really didn't care for the 2007 vintage (or, was it the 2008?) as it was simply just too sweet for my liking.  A mere $10.00 at my local supermarket (actually, I paid $9.89) this wine is great value.  As a matter of fact, this wine is cheaper to buy at the supermarket than it is at the winery with my inter-winery discount.
A blend of 80% Chenin blanc and 20% Viognier, the lovely floral-honeyed-citrusy-peach characteristics one would expect from these two grape varieties marry well in the bottle (and even better in my mouth, tee-hee).  A slight hint of residual sugar gives the wine a little bit of oomph in the body department and serves to lengthen a crisper than one would expect finish. The 2014 is a nice, very reasonably priced wine for summer.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Independence Day, 2016.

Happy 240th birthday America!
Never one to miss an opportunity to be festive, Vinodog 2 says, "Put on your glad rags, get some meat (lots of it) on the barbeque, pour yourself a nice glass of something red and party like it's 2016." Clever poochie.
God bless America.
Oh...and God save the Queen!

Friday, July 01, 2016

Midyear report.

It's the 1st of July already, wow!  Everything in the vineyard looks good. Fruit set in the Syrah, Cabernet sauvignon and Pinot grigio vines looks normal.  The berries are small and hard - still more than a full month away from the onset of veraison.  The past 12 days of toasty weather were not quite hot enough to end the risk of infection from powdery mildew. High temperatures can harm the fungus, but only two days got over 95° F, so sulphur applications will still be necessary for a little while yet.  All in all, I'm pretty pleased with this growing season.  So far, so good.