Red wine makes up the vast majority of production in Tuscany, with white wine (dry or sweet) making up a tiny fraction. Furthermore, many white varieties grown in Tuscany have a reputation for being inexpensive, middling quality grapes such as Trebbiano Toscana and Malvasia. However, there is one Tuscan appellation producing white wines that holds a significant place in both Tuscany and Italy at large. Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a dry white wine made of Vernaccia that holds the distinction of being the very first DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) wine in Italy and the only DOCG dedicated to white wine in Tuscany. More than a historically interesting wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano is simply an interesting wine in the context of Tuscany. For such a warm growing region, Toscolo’s rendition is strikingly cool climate in nature. The nose offers pleasantly green notes of fresh lemongrass and citrus and the palate offers zippy acidity supplementing gentle tart citrus and stonefruit cut by delicious minerality.
For many, knowledge of white wine from the Loire Valley stops at Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume. Just as much love should go the remaining standouts, particularly dry Chenin Blanc from Saumur. Even entry-level examples such as this offer delicious complexity and food-pairing versatility. This is a minimalist approach using multiple soil types, no oak, and noted sur lie (on lees) aging. The nose offers peach, beeswax, lemongrass, and slight salinity. The palate offers bright acidity with a light, but creamy texture supporting ripe orchard and stone fruits.
If you have been a customer of Steve’s for some time, you have likely heard one of us claim that Languedoc is the “value region to end all value regions”. There are more reasons for this that can be listed, but know that if you enjoy Bordeaux and Rhone variety-based wines at fantastic price, the Languedoc as a whole is your region; particularly the Corbieres and Minervois AOC’s. Chateau de Caraguilhes has been making wines in the Corbieres since the late 50’s, and the Cochon Volant series is their entry-level take on a Corbieres red. This blend of Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah offers aromas of red and black fruits cut with earth and herbs de Provence. The palate offers some grip, restratined acidity and bright, spicy red fruit flavors.
Alright, what does gros rouge qui tache mean? Literally: Big Red That Stains- intrigued yet? This roughly half-half blend of Alicante Bouschet and Syrah from Languedoc delivers exactly that. Though Syrah is certainly big and inky on its own, it cannot hold a candle to Alicante Bouschet, which is one of the few vitis vinifera grapes with red flesh (also known as a teinturier). These two together result in an impossibly dark and inky wine with some balance to it! The nose is fairly savory, with black pepper and bramble-laden black fruits. The palate offers surprisingly restrained tannin, which allows for delicious cherry, plum, and blackberry to shine.
Alexana Pinot Gris- Willamette Valley AVA-OR
Though Oregon is currently more well-known for Chardonnay when it comes to white wine, Pinot Gris used to be king and is still one of the best things that Oregon has to offer. For an area so well known for its pseudo-Burgundian characteristics, it only makes sense that the Pinot Gris would be delicious. Alexana’s example is notedly decadent, using a substantial amount of both neutral and new French oak in addition to 4 months of sur lie aging. These add a richness to both the nose and palate, with aromas of granny smith, honey, and herbs supplementing a clean, steely palate with hints of orchard and citrus fruits. This wine is screaming for crab with drawn butter.
If anyone had delicious kitchen-sink white blend from Northwestern Italy on their January bingo card, they’re lying. This peculiar blend of Chardonnay, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Muller-Thurgau comes from the Valle d'Aosta, a region in Northwestern Italy that, like many successful wine regions, benefits from a rain shadow formed by the neighboring Alps. This results in warm, dry summers, cooler (but still dry) winters and diurnal shifts abound! The Anselmet winemaking tradition in the Valle d’Aosta stretches back to the 16th century, with the family being noted for their innovations in winemaking. This blend offers a complex, but restrained nose with orchard fruits, noted minerality, and a bready character. The palate offers luscious honey crisp apple, thyme, sleek minerality, and high acidity.
Natural wine can be a bit of a contentious topic in the wine industry. On one hand, many champion low-intervention wine in the name of ecological responsibility and to minimize the addition of sulfites. On the other hand, many point out that sulfites help maintain the quality of wine long-term and that wine faults such as ‘brett’ and volatile acidity should not be tolerated. However, one argument stands above all: is the wine good? In the case of the Dido, the answer is a resounding yes. This blend of Garnacha, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot is a delicious wine with an extremely involved production process. Winemakers Sara Perez and Barbier age this blend in a combination of concrete tanks, neutral oak, and amphora (clay pots). The result is a bold, extracted wine with aromas of earth, bittersweet chocolate, and garrigue-tinged plum. The palate offers balanced tannins and acidity with refreshingly juicy red and blue fruits.
Bias out of the way, Brian might or might not have fallen in love with this winery while visiting over the holidays. Though the Cuvee la Bec is Beckman’s ‘entry level’ wine, it more than stands tall among their amazing catalogue of Rhone-based wines from the general Santa Barbara region. With crop sourced from one of the warmer regions of Santa Barbara County, this blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Counoise is rich, ripe and crowd-friendly. The nose offers peppercorn, black cherry, chocolate, and hints of vanilla. The tannins are silky and well-integrated, supplementing rich macerated red and blue fruits. This is quintessential steak wine and something to sip on as we enter allegedly cold weather.
When creating a list designed to be user-friendly and approachable, it is difficult to make the list “balanced”. While some might thoroughly enjoy a tasting composed of rich, extracted red wines, there are many that want some iota of grace thrown in: Enter Pinot. Both the Gold and Platinum lists this month feature Pinot’s designed to break up the monotony that can sometimes come from a ‘red-only’ tasting. Joliesse’s take is user-friendly, with aromas of cherry sauce, vanilla, and aromatic baking spice. The palate features soft tannins and medium acid with straightforward, but well done, red fruits throughout.
Food wines are always important, but they are crucial during the holiday season. Though an ambiguous term, ‘food-friendly’ wines are usually termed as such due to tannin and acid playing an elevated role in the flavor profile of the wine. This typically allows the wine to enhance certain characteristics of certain foods and vice-versa. This term can also be used in somewhat of a derogatory sense, for wines that need food to hide flaws. You will find all the prior and none of the latter here with the ‘Augusta’. This Rhone blend from the Roussillon is vibrant, with aromas of dried herbs de Provence, and tart red berries. The palate is medium bodied, with drying tannin and mouth-watering acidity, with Black cherry and tart plum accented by black pepper and a subtle earthiness.
Perhaps no other variety in the New World sparks discussion about the effect of ‘terroir’ quite like Zinfandel. Ask anyone, and you will have differing opinions on which regions makes the best; from Dry Creek (my personal favorite) to Lodi to Mendocino and back. However, true Zin lovers know that Amador County makes some of the most unique and delicious examples in the state. Terra D’Oro (Literally Land of Gold) embraces all the savory accents the Amador terroir can offer to Zin. This rich, ruby-hued wine gives off aromas of macerated raspberry, cigar wrapper, and an intense sunbaked earthiness. The palate offers medium, spicy tannins and low acidity. The rich red fruits from the nose carry through with hints of dark chocolate, bramble, and sweet baking spice.
It wouldn’t be December at Steve’s Wine Bar without a rich, extracted ‘kitchen-sink’ blend. It has been quite some time since we featured Peirano at the bar, so we are happy to bring them back in via the ‘Sea Enchantress’. This eclectic blend of Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, and Syrah pours a rich purple color with blue and black hues. The nose offers sweet blueberry, pipe tobacco, tar, and cassis. The palate features RIPE blue and black fruits with hints of dark chocolate and anise.
Never has the name of a wine been so on theme for Steve’s (ask your waiter for more on that); and it also turns out it’s good! The knockout Willamette Valley PN’s keep coming for Steve’s, with this month’s edition coming from EIEIO. This EXTREMELY small-production winery is among the most cultish and well-respected among Burgundy and Pinot hounds. Though this is their ‘entry-level’ wine, it still shows off what makes Oregon Pinot Noir unique. The wine pours a pale ruby color and offers aromas of potting soil, rhubarb, and bing cherry. The palate offers slight woody tannin and quaffable acidity enveloping bright red fruits, aromatic potpourri, and slight boysenberry notes.
Nestled within the hubbub of Barbera and Nebbiolo, there is Dolcetto; reliably being one of Piedmonts hidden treasures. Combining the structure of Nebbiolo-based wines with readily available fruits has always been the calling card, and G.D Vajra’s example follows this faithfully while introducing some of their ingenuity. This completely unoaked rendition offers bright aromas of red and blue berries, fresh herbs, and star anise. The palate offers medium, drying tannin, medium-high acidity and a plethora of mulberry and plum.
We cannot have a big red month without Australia’s primary (wine) contribution to the world; beautiful, ripe, powerful Shiraz. While Shiraz is susceptible to being flabby and hot, Hewitson’s ‘Ned & Henry’ is a masterclass in balance. It offers aromas of plum, licorice, toffee, black pepper, and grilled meat. The palate is full bodied, with well-integrated tannins and restrained acidity supporting a plush, luxurious combination of sweet black and blue fruits.
Putting a Napa Cab on the list is not quite the slam dunk a lot of people make it out to be. Napa Valley is such a saturated area in terms of Cabernet production, that there’s a lot of very expensive wines with varying levels of quality. Knowing where to start can be difficult. Thankfully, that’s what you have your friendly neighborhood wine bar for! Galerie wines are portraits of place, showcasing the dramatically different features of Northern California’s most prized winegrowing appellations. Napa Valley is well known for its abundant sunshine and rich, fruit-forward wines. Knights Valley at the base of Mt. St. Helena to the north has even cooler temperatures, and volcanic soils that produce slower-ripening fruit with distinctive minerality. Spring Mountain is perched high on the steeply terraced slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains along the western edge of Napa Valley, where marine layer influence brings cooler days and warmer nights than on the valley floor. The name refers to the French painters' method of painting outdoors (en plein air), which developed around the same time as Napa's first European-style vineyards in the 1800s. Fruit from vineyards with diverse soil types brings complexity and depth to the finished wine, which shows rich black fruit, spice and floral notes with a firm tannin structure and balanced acidity.
*-Baby Big Dog, you may take one of these as part of your club and one of the other non-Big-Dog wines.
When you’re starting out the day of Thanksgiving, there is a hilarious amount of preparation to do; mostly involving food. At some point, you might want something to sip on, but not something that will put you out of commission. Crisp, refreshing Gruner Veltliner, particularly THIS Gruner, is an excellent candidate. This is a landwein (country wine) from the Osterriech, which encompasses three of the four Austrian quality wine regions. Despite its “lower” standing, this has all the fun varietal notes you expect from Gruner, starting with a pale straw color with pale yellow hues. The nose offers lively notes of citrus, green apple, white pepper, and snow pea. The palate features a light body, high acidity, and a little bit of leftover SO2. Notes of lime and peppercorn bounce off the palate, making this a crisp wine to enjoy while preparing for the big feast.
You’ve had Grenache Noir (Or just Grenache). You have probably Grenache Blanc in a blend, you might have even had a variety-labeled Grenache Blanc, but have you had Grenache Blanc (Garnacha Blanca in this case) from its original home? It’s true; even though France (particularly the Languedoc and Rhone) accounts for most Grenache Blanc plantings now, it is a Spanish variety (or clone if you prefer to look at it that way). Like it’s red counterpart, Garnacha Blanca thrives in continental wine climates, like Navarra, and tends to ripen with plenty of sugar; which leads to moderate-plus to high levels of alcohol. In this case, we are dealing with a “light” version, but one that delivers all the same. The wine pours a light yellow, and offers aromas of citrus, pear, and tart stone fruit. The palate displays a light + body, with high acidity and a slightly creamy texture. Lemon, peach, and bread-y notes dominate the palate. Try this with creamy cheeses and bright salads to try out contrasting and complementing pairings respectively.
Like Rioja, Navarra’s climate supports delicious, food-friendly versions of Tempranillo and other red varieties. Though we generally think Tempranillo as a wine that reacts favorably to lots of oak and time in bottle, you can also find fresher, quaffable versions. The ‘Ars in Vitro’ is an excellent example of that, displaying a medium ruby color with some garnet hues. Aromas of strawberry, red pepper, and cinnamon compose the aromatic profile, with the 10% of Merlot offering some tart plum and floral notes. The palate displays a medium body, with light tannins, and medium + acidity. The bright ripe strawberry on the nose dominates the palate while being supported by pleasantly green notes of black peppercorn. Try this as a Turkey wine alternative or with some roasted ham.
Carignan, like many varieties, sees most of its action as a blending variety. Whether it’s in the Southern Rhone under Carignan, in an old vine field blend in Lodi under Carignane, or in Rioja under Mazuelo, Carignan is a true 6th man in the world of wine. However, true to the analogy, Carignan has had issues standing on its own as a varietal wine. It generally displays high yields, intense tannins, and abundant phenolic compounds, which makes it tricky to work with. There are ways around this such as carbonic maceration, but that brings up its own issues regarding complexity and quality. Undaunted, the winemakers at Domaine La Manarine, an amazing winery located in the Southern Rhone Valley, have come through with an excellent example. This wine pours an intense ruby color with purple hues. The nose offers red and blue fruit, black pepper, and cured meat. The palate is full bodied with medium + tannin and medium acidity. The palate is full of ripe, opulent fruits accented with intense savory baking spices. This is a quintessential food wine and should be paired with the richest meats you have the table.
This is the first of two wines we will be featuring from the Cherry House line. Though we generally try to avoid featuring two wines from the same producer on the same list, sometimes a producer just fits the theme so well that we cannot help ourselves. The Cherry House white is modeled after Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc which is, albeit less popular, modeled after the same model of richness laid out by their red counterparts. This wine is a 50/50 blend of Clairette and Grenache Blanc, with the Clairette going through 100% malolactic fermentation and time in 10% new French Oak and the Grenache Blanc through partial malolactic fermentation and time in neutral oak. The result is an opulent, but balanced delight. The wine pours a medium gold color. The nose offers baked apple, Bosc pear, and spicy and sweet oak-derived notes. The palate features a medium – body, and medium acidity. Big ripe pear and other orchard fruits explode onto the palate with a balanced richness brought on by the oak. If you are feeling white but need something to stand up to the richer fare on the Thanksgiving table, this is the choice.
I am generally apprehensive about bringing Burgundy (white, red, or anything in between) into the bar. It can be a difficult region to understand, and great examples across the various appellations can often be prohibitively expensive. However, it’s a treat when we can expose everyone to the truly great wine regions of the world without annihilating their wallet, and I am happy to report that this wine does just that. As 2018 was an uncharacteristically warm year across Burgundy, the wines are showing incredibly out of the bottle and can be enjoyed as soon as it’s in the glass. The Dubreuil Hautes-Cotes de Beaune comes a village within a larger region (Cotes de Beaune) more well known for it’s Chardonnay, but this is quintessential Burgundy Pinot Noir. The wine pours a pale ruby color, and offers aromas of black tea, bing cherry, star anise, and hints of cola. The palate is medium - bodied, with silky tannins and medium + acidity. The bright red fruits continue to the palate and get riper and riper as the wine finishes. This is as “turkey wine” as wine gets, so stock up!
As Pinot Noir is generally considered to be the apex of “turkey wine”, it seemed only fitting that our marquee wine for the club be a special Pinot. Martin Woods is Willamette Valley producer that specializes in single vineyard Pinot Noir in addition to limited bottlings of varieties that are not commonly planted in Oregon (Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Gruner Veltliner, etc.). The Havlin Vineyard is located towards in the Van Duzer Corridor AVA (established in 2019) and is among the latest ripening vineyards that Martin Woods sources from. This provides stress on the vines, which leads to structure-driven cool climate PN. This wine pours a medium ruby color, and offers aromas of cherry, boysenberry, and rhubarb accented by fragrant potpourri notes. The palate displays a medium body with medium acidity and gorgeously seamless tannin. The fruit and spice notes on the nose continue to the palate and develop as the wine aerates, which makes for an unequivocally exquisite-feeling wine. This wine will elevate anything on the table and is a can’t-miss bottle.
To round out our main list, we return to Cherry House, who happens to have an excellent red modeled in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape style. This is a blend of Grenache, Carignan, and Mourvèdre that sees time in neutral oak, opting to let the fruit shine. This wine pours a rich ruby color with purple hues. The nose features dark chocolate, rich red fruits, savory baking spice, and slightly smoky notes. The palate is full-bodied, with medium + tannins and lower acidity. Rich, ripe red fruits are accented by star anise and floral notes, making this an excellent pairing for the heaviest Thanksgiving fare.
The bonus wine tradition returns! We all need something sweet and fun to enjoy with desserts and to appeal to those in the family that prefer their wine on the sweeter side. For those purposes, we brought in an excellent, off the beaten path wine from Lombardy. Sangue di Giuda, also known literally as "Blood of Judas" or more simply Blood Wine, is a DOC and wine sourced from the Oltrepo Pavese region in Pavia, which is one of the largest production regions of domestically consumed Italian wines. This wine is most often a blend of Barbera, Croatina, and Rara Uva, and goes through the partial fermentation method used in the production of other sweet wines such as Moscato d’Asti. The result is an easy-drinking, semi-sweet, aromatic frizzante red that can be paired with dessert or enjoyed with an aperitif. This wine pours a ruby color with purple hues and offers aromas of cherry, plum, bubblegum, and banana. The bubbles on the palate are soft and fun, with juicy red fruits and licorice. This is the perfect end to a large wine tasting OR a large meal.
When someone mentions Tuscany in the context of wine, many things may come to mind. Maybe it’s the blue chip wines of Maremma and Bolgheri. Maybe it’s the sunbaked terroir hosting countless chateaus specializing in made from Sangiovese to Vernaccia to any number of Bordeaux varieties. What might be most interesting however, is the sheer longevity and history associated with many of the operations. We are happy to be able to showcase one of these truly historic estates: Il Borro.
Located in the larger Valdarno de Sopra region near the city of Arezzo, Il Borro specializes in complex, but rich renditions on the classic ‘super tuscan’ formula. Additionally, they are responsible for some of the most elegant Tuscan white wines the staff has ever tasted; most notably the ‘Lamelle’, which you might remember as a strikingly Chablis-esque, but approachable, Chardonnay.
We will be hosting Darrell Gibson, Mid West Il Borro Brand Manager as our presenter. Darrell wowed us Steve and I with these wines months ago, and I’m glad we are able to share them with you on 10/24!
Do you like Sauvignon Blanc, Gruner Veltliner, or Muscadet? Do you wish the wines were more bone-dry and had some more weight flavor and body-wise to them? Look no further than Friulano from Fiuli Colli Orientali. This DOC is located in Friuli-Venezia Giula, a large northeastern Italian growing region that borders the Veneto region, Slovenia, and Austria. This region generally displays a mild Mediterranean climate with a cool influence from the Alps to the north. This screams for both structured white wines and lighter styles of red wine. The styles displayed here are varied, from bone-dry whites to plush Bordeaux-based wines (see the Bortoluzzi Cabernet Franc) to the rich dessert wines of the Colli Orientali del Friuli Picolit DOCG (Which gets a shoutout in the Sopranos!). So, what can you expect from the Vinsintini? The wine displays a light yellow/ pale straw color. The nose is complex and savory, with almond, apple skin, and white flowers. The palate displays zippy acidity, subtle stone and citrus fruits with herbaceous and almond accents. While you might think to pair this with lean white meat or delicate fish, try pairing this wine’s high acid with cured meats and salty pork!
Even when thinking explicitly of popular white varieties in Washington, Pinot Gris probably does not come immediately to mind. To be fair, the typical portrayal of Washington doesn’t display the typical climate associated with Pinot Gris. However, the rainy, green pastures on the West of the Cascades are a far cry from the generally sunny and dry valleys on the East (Where virtually all of the wine production for the state occurs). In fact, comparisons could be drawn between Columbia Valley and what is likely the premier non-Italian Pinot Gris-growing region, Alsace. Though the Nine Hats displays some fundamental differences from Alsatian Pinot Gris, it does display the potential for Pinot Gris going forward in Columbia Valley. This wine pours a light straw to light yellow with some light white hues. The nose offers an intense combination of flowers, wet stone, and tart orchard fruits. The palate is less intense, with soft honey crisp apple and green pear cut with some honey. If there’s a “light” wine on the list, it’s this one, and would go best with some charcuterie or sashimi.
Recently, we’ve been bringing in lighter renditions of Australian reds in order to display the versatility of various regions. It’s time to get back to the rich stuff, if only briefly. This is a partially-barrel fermented rendition that experiences roughly 18 months in American oak following fermentation. The Mrs. Q Shiraz is a faithful version of the style, pouring a rich purple color with blue and black hues. The nose is intensely rich, with macerated red and blue fruits, black pepper, and sweet baking spice. The palate is heavy with much of the same fruit characteristics being enveloped by rich sweet tannins and hints of chocolate and coffee.
Although they are genetically identical, Primitivo is generally associated with lighter, more structured wines while Zinfandel is known for the being the posterchild for hedonistically rich wines. In this case, we have an instance of mistaken identity, as the Retro is a decidedly new world rendition of Primitivo. This wine pours a medium ruby color with purple hues, offering aromas of raspberry, bramble, vanilla, and pipe tobacco. The palate is rich, with soft tannins enveloping soft, juicy red fruits and sweet baking spice.
We all know about Sancerre, which is arguably the most famous region in the Upper Loire and the Loire Valley itself. For the most part, Sancerre is going to be the primary representative for the Loire Valley in the US market. However, it isn’t the only phenomenal Sauvignon Blanc-based wine from Loire you should be paying attention to: cue Pouilly-Fume. As Sancerre’s proverbial little sibling, Pouilly-Fume is generally produced in a rounder, softer style. This provides a great backdrop for certain winemaking techniques that result in a richer, more new world product; such as malolactic fermentation. Domaine Chavet’s Pouilly-Fume is a great example of how ‘malo’ can benefit Sauvignon Blanc. This wine pours a pale yellow color, offering aromas of citrus, light stone fruit, and ripe vegetal notes. The palate is light-plus bodied, with a slightly creamy texture and (comparatively) lower acidity enveloping stone and citrus fruits.
Though this might be the lightest red on the platinum club, it’s only by comparison. This is quaffable, but rich take on the classic GSM formula from Southern Rhone. In this case, a majority of Syrah is blended with Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and multiple white Rhone varieties. A rich ruby color belies bright aromas of raspberry, vanilla, and black pepper. The palate is medium-bodied, with medium tannins and medium acidity accenting notes of bright cherry and plum cut with black pepper, grilled meat, and sweet baking spice. Inquire with your server about the story behind the label!
A bit of an oddity and a first for SWB, we have a DOC ‘Super Tuscan’! What is likely one of the most ambiguous terms in wine originated in the 1970’s when high-quality, typically Bordeaux variety-based, wines were not eligible for classification under the Chianti DOC. This ended up resulting in the creation of the Bolgheri DOC in 1983 and the famed Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) category in 1992. Both of these appellations/categories were created to allow for these ‘Super Tuscans’ to have a denomination greater than the base vino. Grattomacco’s rendition is very style-appropriate, being composed of a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Sangiovese. This wine pours a medium ruby color with garnet hues. The nose offers fresh herbs, graphite, and tart red fruit. The palate offers a medium + body, medium dusty tannins, and medium acidity. The flavor profiles offers ripe red fruits, balsamic reduction, and savory baking spice.
‘Kitchen Sink’ blends have been an unstoppable New World phenomenon ever since Dave Phinney unveiled the Prisoner in the early 2000’s under the Orin Swift line. Due to over-saturation, many of these blends are susceptible to manipulation and a complete lack of balance. The Chronology, conceptualized by famed Burgundy producer and portfolio savant Jean Charles Boisset, is an excellent example of the potential these types of wines display. This is a true ‘blend’, with Petite Sirah occupying the majority, followed by Syrah, Merlot, Grenache, Malbec, Carignan, Mourvedre, Mission…and Petit Verdot. Despite the relatively little oak this wine sees, the color is representative of Petite Sirah, with a near impenetrable dark ruby with purple hues. The nose offers reduced figs, mocha, cherry-berry flavors and blackberry bramble. The palate is rich, but balanced with soft tannins and surprisingly quaffable acidity. The fruit is the star of the show here, shining brightly through with cedar box and dark chocolate.
Domaine de Sahari Vin Gris- Beni M’Tir, Meknes-Fes, Morocco
We’re starting this club off with a bang: Moroccan wine. French colonization was the primary catalyst for Moroccan viticulture, but the country’s independence in the mid-20th century gave way to an influx of influences from other prominent regions. This is a blend of Grenache and Cinsault, but one that more resembles Spanish Garnacha Rosado, in taste, than any prominent rose-producing region in France. This wine pours a pale pink/ pale copper color, which is indicative of the vin gris style. The nose offers citrus peel, white flowers, and tart neutral fruit flavors such as cantaloupe. The palate offers subtle stone and citrus fruit, high acidity, and a surprisingly full body for the style. This is a quintessential grilled veggie or raw seafood wine.
Montinore Estate Borealis NV- Willamette Valley AVA- Oregon
When you think of Oregonian white wine, you likely think of Burgundy-adjacent Chardonnay or richer styles of Pinot Gris. However, much like some other cool climate growing areas, off-dry whites can be an immense success. The Borealis is a blend of Muller-Thurgau, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris. Don’t be dissuaded by the NV designation; this is done intentionally to yearn different levels of ripeness and intensity from each individual grape. This is certainly an off-dry wine, but the level of expression from step to step is amazing. The nose offers a plethora of tropical fruits, lychee, peach, and the slightest hint of petrol. The palate has a fun, slightly oily texture, showcasing mouthwatering acidity and deliciously ripe fruit. Pair this with your next Thai meal or anything with a noted level of spice.
Lulumi Pinot Noir- Pays d’Oc IGP- France
When you think of the Languedoc, you likely think of spicy red blends made from Cinsault, Carignan, and Syrah; but probably not Pinot Noir. Pinot’s ubiquity is not limited just to Burgundy, as notable plantings can be found virtually anywhere outside of Bordeaux (And that’s just in France). This version is the epitome of easy-going, with aromas of brambly red fruit, earth, and potpourri. The palate displays light, spicy tannins, quaffable acidity, and a restrained medley of red berries. This is incredible versatile in terms of food and could even be the accompaniment to heavy seafood-based fare.
Pizarras de Otero Mencia- Bierzo D.O.-Spain
Spain might be the poster child for underappreciated, mostly indigenous, varieties. Chief among the red varieties might be Mencia, which can be compared to other medium-bodied aromatic reds like Pinot Noir and more delicate Cabernet Franc. Generally, Mencia showcases juicy, tart red and black fruit intermixed with earthy and spicy aromas. The Pizarras de Otero is very style-appropriate, pouring a medium ruby color and offering aromas bursting with juicy red and black fruits cut with anise. The palate is medium-bodied with mildly-gripping tannins and balanced acidity, which again accentuates the juicy fruit on the palate. This is an extremely versatile food wine and could be paired with just about anything.
Il Borro ‘Lamelle’- IGT Toscana- Italy
Frankly, I had not had a Tuscan Chardonnay that wowed me until this one; and did it ever wow me. The Lamelle, completely unoaked, strikes the perfect balance between Chablis-esque structure and focus and the beautiful fruit found in new world examples. The nose is clean and fragant, with green apple, citrus oil, and a slight flinty character. The palate shows off mouthwatering acidity cutting through a surprising amount of fruit for this style of Chardonnay. If you are a California Chardonnay-lover looking for an introduction into the wide, intimidating world of Burgundy, this is an excellent steppingstone.
Pedernales Viognier Reserve- Texas High Plains AVA- Texas
Viognier, unlike some of the other notable white varieties, can thrive in warm climate growing regions. Though some of the most noted Viognier-growing regions like Condrieu and Chateau-Grillet suffer from adverse conditions such as the Mistral, they rely on warm summers in order to facilitate optimal ripeness. Though no one will be mistaking the Pedernales for its Northern Rhone companions, the Pedernales shows off the grape’s potential for richness and affinity for warm climates. This is made with richness in mind, as some amount of new French oak is used. The nose offers subtle orchard fruits cut with citrus peel, beeswax, and aromatic floral notes. The palate is quintessential Viognier, with a creamy mouthfeel and comparatively lower acidity enveloping ripe, spice-accented tropical and orchard fruit.
Tenuta della Terre Nerre Etna Rosso- Etna Rosso DOC- Sicily
Though not necessarily an unknown wine for the region, Sicily as a wine-producing region remains a fairly large enigma in the US market. One of the gems of Sicily, well-known among those in the profession, is Etna; a small viticultural region (On an active volcano!!!) producing incredible red and white wines. The reds are made primarily from a grape called Nerello Mascalese; whose closest analog would be an incredibly savory Pinot Noir. This wine pours a medium red color with some garnet hues. The nose offers aromas of tart red berries, dried herbs, and a slight hint of ash (variety-typical for Nerello Mascalese). The palate is medium-bodied, with woody tannins and zippy acidity accenting a mixture of fresh and dried red fruits. High-acid red wine pairs with equally acidic foods, so a tomato-based dish would be excellent with this.
Stella Bella Shiraz- Margaret River- Australia
Shiraz from Australia? What’s weird about that? When we think about the premier Syrah-producing regions in Australia, we likely think of South Australian regions like Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, or maybe some of the areas in the Limestone Coast. We probably don’t think of a region that is most well known for Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Margaret River is the westernmost wine growing region in Australia, and as such experiences the most maritime influence of any region. This is a characteristic that makes for unique expressions of Australian Shiraz, which the Stella Bella displays extremely well. This wine looks the part, with a deep ruby color with purple hues. The nose offers plum, red currant, black cherry, licorice, and hints of oak via baking spice and cedar box. The palate is medium-bodied, with light-plus acid and medium tannin. The fruit profile is fresher than you would expect from Australian Shiraz, with bright plum, cherry, and orange peel notes. The finish is toasty and lengthy. This is a much more quaffable style of Shiraz for Australia and dispels the notion that Australian is only known for massive, alcoholic expressions of various red varieties.
We looked back on the last two years of our wine club wines and found several wines that were heavily favored on certain months. As we are in our Anniversary Month (5 years) since Steve's Wine Bar opened, we thought it would be fun to pick a few of these wines and revisit them with our club members. Since the re-opening back in March, our club has regained many members and grown with many new faces. We hope these wines will be equally as liked by all of our new members as well as those who had a chance to taste these wines in the past.
Cheers to a fun month of wine tasting!
Once maligned for being a style known for an abundance of asparagus and other unsavory green flavors, Marlborough is the undisputed king of Sauvignon Blanc in the US market. Orchard Lane provides an approachable style showcasing delicious soft citrus and herb aromas. The light body is carried by bright acidity and quintessential peach and grapefruit flavors.
A longtime staple of Steve’s, Aviary is a great representation of California’s most popular white variety made in its most popular style: oaked and rich. It pours a medium yellow with gold hues and offers aromas of baked tropical and orchard fruits cut with vanilla and butterscotch. The creaminess of the mouthfeel blends well with the rich baked, but bright, apple and sweet baking spice notes.
Argentina is currently acknowledged as the Malbec capital of the world, but there was a region focusing on this Bordeaux-afterthought well before. The ‘black wines’ of Cahors date back to the Middle Ages, and have long focused on rich, elegant concoctions of Malbec supplemented by Tannat and Merlot. Chateau Nozieres is a modern example that pays homage to traditional wine-making methods (No oak and extended maceration). As the vernacular would suggest, the wine pours a rich, opaque purple. The nose is filled with lovely fresh blue and black fruits, with pepper, roasted coffee, and cured tobacco. Supple tannins and acidity balance well with the tart plum and other black fruits on the palate.
Though not quite as famous as its counterparts in McLaren Vale or Barossa Valley, Langhorne Creek has merit all its own when it comes to style-appropriate Australian Shiraz. The oppressively hot and dry climate suits Shiraz well with its hardy nature and high amount of anthocyanin (The compound that gives red wine a purple tint when exposed to sun). Heartland’s example displays all of the quintessential notes of AU shiraz sans the sky-high ABV. The wine pours a medium ruby with purple hues, and offers a medley of plum and reduced cherry accented with a slight hint of leather brought on by the age. The palate is medium-plus bodied with time-softened tannins lower acidity. A plethora of plum jam is accented by notes of cinnamon, black pepper and tobacco.
Once made from fruit sourced from Provence, the LVE has shifted its focus to Languedoc. This has resulted in a fresh, but fruity style that is sure to pair well with the Texas summer. Pouring a light pink hue, this wine offers aromas of cherry and cotton candy. The high acidity cuts through bright notes of watermelon, cherry, and strawberry.
This wine draws its name from both the range of the range of the Mayacamas the vineyard overlooks, and the two beautiful Newfoundland’s roaming the Dearden Estate. It pours a rich ruby with purple hues. The nose is intense, with black cherry, boysenberry, cola, and Chinese five spice. The palate is equally as intense, with the same rich fruit cut with vanilla; all being housed within velvety tannins and a silky texture. This has the heft to be put away for a couple of years, but it is delicious now.
This is a 100% single-vineyard Syrah from the Red Mountain AVA; an area producing some of the highest quality red wines in both Washington and the US. While being heavily-oaked, this wine showcases characteristics of both the New and Old worlds. The dark ruby color gives way to an inviting medley of red and blue fruit aromas cut with vanilla, smoked meat, and black pepper. The palate is full-bodied with robust tannins supplementing macerated blackberries, plum, and toasted oak.
No favorites list would be complete without arguably Steve’s most prominent cult classic. The Trainwreck is a classic rendition of a California Cabernet. This wine pours a medium ruby color with purple hues, offering aromas of red and black fruits, toasted oak, and crème brulee. The palate is velvety and creamy, with notes of crème de cassis, blackberry, and vanilla enveloped by medium, woody tannins and restrained acidity.
*="Baby Big Dog" - If you choose this wine you are able to pick one other non-"Dog" wine as a second bottle.
**= "Big Dog" - If you love it, it's the one you can pick to take home for your club wine. It's that special!
Family-owned, Certified Sustainable and 100% estate grown wines from beautiful and diverse Monterey, California.
CALIFORNIA HAS 17 GRAPE GROWING DISTRICTS; MONTEREY COUNTY IS DISTRICT 7
Surrounded by coastal beauty and rich farming heritage, Monterey is recognized as one of the most beautiful and diverse winegrowing regions in the world.
Monterey County is a good place to call home for District 7. Their wines are thoughtfully crafted to reflect the best of what Monterey has to offer: vibrant fruit, complex flavor and excellent structure. We are serving their Cabernet, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. And what’s additionally special is that we are doing a raffle in the near future on a special guitar hand painted guitar. More details on the instrument to come in future communications, but for every bottle, or 5 glasses you consume of District 7 wine, you will have a ticket put in for the drawing. We plan to sell 40 cases of District 7 wine before we will do the drawing. So stop in and enjoy by the glass or buy a few bottles.
Cabernet - A big, fruit-packed wine with aromas of blackberry, raspberry and cassis. Smooth and balanced with a lingering black fruit finish.
Pinot Noir - Smooth and silky, with aromas of raspberry and cherry, a palate of bright red fruit and subtle notes of toast on the finish.
Chardonnay - A bright wine with a lively array of melon, passion fruit and citrus flavors and refreshing, crisp acidity.
District 7 Wines
This month we decided to stay close to home and choose wines made in Texas. We have a fun line up from 8 different wineries with some great summer sippers, wines for your summer BBQ, and we'll show off a little of what Texas has to offer.. We tasted through a broad selection of wines from a variety of wineries to choose these 8 select wines. We hope you will enjoy them as much as we do.
This blend of Cinsault, Carignan, and Mourvèdre is a dead ringer for the quaffable, playful roses of the Languedoc and Roussillon. It pours a light pink with white hues, and offers aromas of ripe cherry, cherry blossoms, and a hint of cotton candy. The body is just above light, with medium acidity with a clean medley of cantaloupe, red berries, and a touch of minerality. This would be beautiful with an array of light charcuterie and fruit.
McPherson’s Chenin Blanc draws inspiration from the coastal-influenced version of the Western Cape. Seeing slight skin contact, this wine pours a light yellow to medium straw color and offers aromas of orchard and tropical fruits with fun tertiary notes of honeycomb and honey blossom. The palate displays a light-plus body, high acid, and an approachable medley of similar fruit as the nose accented with slightly yeasty notes and a tart finish.
Tempranillo typically is not vinified and bottled this young due to the famous tertiary flavors that are often developed with extended age in the bottle. This is not to say, however, that Tempranillo cannot stand on its merit as a younger wine, and Becker gives a great example of what that looks like. This pours a medium red color with slightly purple hues and offers a very ripe nose filled with red berries cut with a slight dill and brown sugar influence from the American oak. The palate is medium bodied, with medium acidity and features a medley of macerated red and blue fruit.
Pedernales truly leans into a decadent style of Malbec with the ‘Six Generations’ line. This wine pours a dark ruby with blue and black hues, and offers aromas of mocha, plum, and baking spice accented by sweet oak. The palate is full boded with low acid, and features supple, soft tannins enveloping ripe blue and black fruits followed by a sweet finish.
We are so excited to finally have a ‘pet nat’ at Steve’s. For the uninitiated, petillant naturel is made via methode ancestrale, one of the oldest and minimalistic styles of sparkling wine production. The key difference from other styles of sparkling wine (Champagne, Crémant, Franciacorta, etc.) is that ‘pet nat’ does not go through a second fermentation. Rather, the first fermentation is interrupted, the wine is transferred to the bottle, and the fermentation is allowed to finish in bottle. While this sounds slightly volatile, ‘pet nat’ generally features half the bottle pressure found in Champagne. This style of bubbly is made from Australia to Slovenia to, as it happens, Texas! This version features Mourvèdre, Sangiovese, Cinsault, and Trebbiano Toscana. This pours a medium pink hue, with aromas of mineral-laden red fruit, fresh blossoms, and a trademark yeastiness. The bubbles in ‘pet nat’ are less refined and wilder, making for a fun, quaffable beverage featuring delicate flavors of red berries, bread, and a refreshingly mineral quality.
This easy-drinking blend of Cinsault, Syrah, and Grenache is reminiscent of the red blends found in the Corbieres and other areas of Languedoc and Provence. The color is a pale ruby, and offers very delicate aromas of bing cherry, bramble, and earth. The body is medium minus to light, with mouthwatering acidity and little to no tannin. The flavor profile centers around juicy red fruits and earthy, herbaceous accents. Try this at cellar temp or below.
This blend of Malbec and Ruby Cabernet (ask us about this grape!) features Boredaux-esque structure with the approachability of the warm-climate reds we associate with Texas viticulture. Following time in 100% new French oak and extended maceration post-fermentation, it displays an inviting rich character that permeates everything. This wine pours a dark ruby with mulberry hues, and offers mocha, black pepper, and vanilla-enveloped red and blue fruits. The palate is rich, with dense but well-integrated tannins and medium minus acidity. This all supports a plethora of ripe blue and black fruits accented by oak-driven notes of crème brulee; all followed by a lengthy finish.
Aging wine in spirit barrels is a dangerous game. Though complimentary, the bold flavors of your favorite spirit can quickly overshadow any redeeming feature of the wine and turn it something closer to a dessert beverage than a balanced glass of wine. However, there are more than a couple successful examples, and we definitely have one here. This Tempranillo pours a medium ruby with purple and blue hues, and offers macerated cherry and strawberry accented tastefully by notes of brown sugar, vanilla, and malt. This understandably rich-bodied wine features soft tannins and low acid, doubling down on a rich, ripe combination of red fruits, bourbon-driven notes, and notable vanilla.