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Cheryl Hunt
June 9, 2024 | Cheryl Hunt

June 2024 Wine Club Wines

Messina Hof Muscat Canelli – Texas High Plains (Gold)

Our friends at Messina Hof have crafted a wonderful wine from the Muscat Canelli grape, also known as Muscat á Petits Grains in France or South Africa’s Hanepoot (what a great name!). While you might automatically assume this is going to be a sugar bomb, it’s surprising how well-balanced it is in the glass, with floral aromas and prominent apricot, peach, and tangerine notes emerging well before the 9 g/L of residual sugar hits the palate. The fruit counteracts the sweetness, making this a thirst-quenching porch pounder. No other Texas winery grows more Muscat Canelli grapes than Messina Hof, and along with other Texas wineries we have featured, Messina Hof is a preeminent presence in pushing our state’s wine industry forward. Currently, Texas is in 11th position nationwide, just after Virginia, for wine production. Give it a little more time, and Texas will be way up there with California! Pour yourself a glass and savor it with a lovely seasonal salad from Greenhouse.

J. Bäumer Riesling – Rhein, GER (Gold)

The perfect food wine, especially when the cuisine is spicy or hot, Riesling is often an underappreciated variety. Germany’s signature grape, it was vastly popular in the 1850s, and it became almost as renowned (and expensive) as Champagne and Bordeaux. However, there was so much devastation to Germany’s vineyards during both world wars that Riesling fell out of favor. Always a favorite among connoisseurs and sommeliers due to its versatility, many now acknowledge Riesling’s primacy. A mid-to-late ripening grape, it can retain some (or a lot of) sugar, so it is the winemaker’s choice whether to cultivate it dry or keep some sweetness. The J. Bäumer Riesling has some observable residual sugar (RS) and would be described as “halbtrocken,” or off-dry. This wine’s naturally high acidity balances the RS, making it pleasant and not overwhelmingly saccharine, and  this Riesling conveys fruits like lime, apple, kumquat (a small citrusy fruit from China), and honeydew. It would be a shame to not pair this with your favorite dish from Thai Square.

Nals Margreid 'Galea' Schiava – Alto Adige, IT (Platinum)

Schiava is a grape that is home to the Alto Adige region, an area that borders Austria to its north and has some German influence (Schiava is also called Vernatsch locally and Trollinger in Germany). The clusters themselves are very large, pyramid-shaped bunches with large, dark blue grapes, and they are trellised using a pergola system, which protects the grapes from sunburn (!) and mild hail. An interesting fact about the Schiava grape is that the leaves turn bright yellow in autumn, which is very unusual for red grapes. The Nals Margreid ‘Galea’ is a light, chillable red that would please Pinot Noir and Gamay lovers alike. With extra strawberry on the nose, but surprisingly dry at just 1.7 g/L of residual sugar, a sip also conveys raspberry, pomegranate, some almond, and a kiss of spice from its time spent in wood. This wine would match so well with many foods, but treat yourself to a glass alongside a Falafel Vegan Wrap from Fatima’s Grill.

Palafox Pionero Tinto – Baja California, MEX (Platinum)

Eighty percent of the wine from Mexico is made in Baja California. Unlike the stringent rules of France, Italy, Spain, and even California, Mexico does not have aging requirements and grape percentages governing their viticulture. Thus, Mexican vintners are concocting the best combinations that convey ripeness of fruit, acidity, and body. An emerging star on the Mexican wine scene, Aldo Cesar Palafox founded his estate in 1997, in Valle de la Grulla, 25 miles south of the town of Ensenada. He uses only estate fruit and practices sustainable farming. Despite very warm days, the grapes at Palafox are encased by morning fogs and cool sea breezes, which slow down the ripening process, developing more complex flavors. This tinto, a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Merlot, is both juicy and well-structured and has little residual sugar. A fragrant nose gives way to blackberry and black cherry, plus subtle caramel, vanilla, black pepper, and tobacco. Order some beef fajitas from La Laguna Meat Market & Kitchen and pop open a bottle of the Palafox Pionero Tinto!

Château Courac Côtes du Rhône – Côtes du Rhône, FR (Platinum)

From the southern Rhône comes this delicious red blend consisting of 55% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 15% old vine Carignan. The Château Courac was partially sourced from the village of Laudun, which was promoted to Cru status in 2023. The viticultural legacy of the estate has been in place since 1941 when the Arnaud family settled in Tresques, which is on the right bank of the Rhône River. Right bank Rhônes are usually very concentrated and fruit-forward as there are cool nights, sandy soils, and longer hang times for the ripening grapes. Frédéric and Joséphine Arnaud have been the winemakers since 1995, and their style brings a masterful elegance to the wines. With violet on the nose, raspberry and red plum flavors transform into darker fruits and spice. At just 2 g/L of residual sugar, the wine is a balance of fruit and earthiness. Enjoy it with the Linda Lou, a chicken sandwich platter from Cartwright’s Ranch House.

Sadler’s Well Cabernet Sauvignon – Paso Robles, CA (Gold)

The name ‘Sadler’s Well’ is an allusion to Richard Sadler who, in 1683, opened a theater (then called a ‘Musick House’) in London. Two men, who were digging a garden on Sadler’s property, struck something that they mistook for buried treasure, but alas, it was a well. But this well was not ordinary; it had iron-rich mineral water that was believed to have health benefits, which Mr. Sadler then turned into his own treasure. He claimed that drinking from his well would heal a multitude of illnesses, and aristocrats and emissaries from around the country came to drink from Sadler’s well and go to his theater. Vintner partners Bill Leigon and Billy Spear were inspired by Sadler’s success and decided to name this Paso Cab in his honor. It will entice you with ripe blackberry, cassis, baking spices, toasty oak, and some tertiary leather notes. With a touch of residual sugar, it is well-balanced but juicy. It deserves a proper hamburger like the Double Trouble from RG Burgers and Grill.

Quivira Zinfandel – Dry Creek Valley, CA (Platinum)

Quivira Vineyards has produced a bit of a catch-22: winemaker Hugh Chappelle believes in ‘vin sauvage’ (wild wine) or doing little to influence the finished grape juice, in line with a brand that focuses on sustainable and organic farming. But on the other hand, there is this juicy, brambly Zinfandel with a touch of Petite Sirah, making it a luscious and almost sinful Zin. A combination of American, Hungarian, and French oak also contributes to the luxurious nature of the Quivira. With just a touch of residual sugar, raspberry, cherry, blackberry, and marionberry take over your senses, punched by some white pepper, nutmeg, and dried herbs. A wild boar on the label is an example of the unique ecosystem to this part of Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma Co., but is also a perfect food (sorry, not sorry!) with California Zinfandels. Relish a glass of the Quivira alongside a three-meat BBQ Plate (with some pork, of course) from Brisket Burger.

Cataclysm Red Blend – Columbia Valley, WA (Gold)

Born from the idea that cataclysmic events, like the ice age floods that blanketed and later carved out the valleys of the Pacific Northwest, Cataclysm Wine Company has embraced the idea “things don’t always go to plan” and that “great upheaval is an opportunity for a new beginning.” Brilliant in branding, this mostly Bordeaux blend of 40% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, and 5% Syrah spotlights fruit first. Awarded a gold by the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, 90 points by James Suckling, and 89 points from Wine Enthusiast, this wine is certain to please. Furthermore, Cataclysm partners with the disaster relief organization “All Hands and Hearts,” and every bottle sold contributes to their cause. This red blend charms with chocolate and dark berries, gratifying the palate with stewed cherries, fig, cassis, blueberry, and vanilla. A well-rounded wine with no significant residual sugar, the Cataclysm will hold up to earthy foods and creamy cheeses, so the Stuffed Mushroom dish from Graffiti Pasta will be an awesome accompaniment. 

Time Posted: Jun 9, 2024 at 6:50 AM Permalink to June 2024 Wine Club Wines Permalink