Sunday, June 28, 2009

A few notes

Rheum rhabarbarum leaves and shaftsImage via Wikipedia

We have ordered way too much wine of late, but how could we resist? Here are some impressions of wines mentioned in recent posts.

A four-pack of wines from Bodhichitta arrived (we paid for them), and we popped the Radiant Rhubarb straight into the fridge. Hands up all of you who have had a rhubarb wine before. We thought not. This was really wild. Radiant, indeed, it positively glowed with a color comparable to pink lemonade. The winemaker followed a 50-year-old recipe he got from his grandmother, and we were pleasantly surprised that the wine was truly dry. We shared the wine with friends, who liked the wine more or less based on how much they like rhubarb. So the wine truly captured the essence of the source material. We think this bodes well for the rest of the wines we ordered, which we will report on in due time.

We ordered a full case of wines from BevMo, taking advantage of the 5-cent sale mentioned a few posts back. Our first wine disappointed. Renwood is a well-respected Amador Foothills winery famous for Zinfandel and perhaps best known for its Grandpere and Grandmere vineyards. We snapped up two bottles of the 2005 Grandmere Vineyard Zinfandel, but found it cloying, with a pronounced buttery note that we do not appreciate in our red wines (or whites, for the most part). Beyond that, there was little varietal Zinfandel character, and not much else to get us excited. We paired the wine with lamb gyros made by a friend. The combination should have been stellar, but instead only the gyros were. Oh, well.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Wine, Freedom and Justice Part 3—Bodhichitta Winery

Here at last is the final installment in our series on world-changing through wine profiling three non- (or not for-)profit wineries. Ehlers Estate, profiled in the first post, donates its proceeds to the LeDucq Foundation, which conducts research on heart disease. The New Clairvaux Vineyard's wine profits fund the owning monastery's activities, as well as a number of charitable organizations and caretaking of their neighbors.

We managed to find one other non-profit winery. The Bodhichitta Winery is located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Profits from the winery go principally to the Central Asia Institute, which promotes “community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.” Bodhichitta also supports Alzheimer's Foundation of America, Autism Society of America, the Humane Society, The Nature Conservancy and Oregon Trout.

Bodhichitta’s lineup of wines is intriguing. In addition to Pinot noir (de rigeur in the Wilammette Valley, they produce a Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Chenin blanc, and a Pinot gris they call “Giggling Gris” for some reason. More interesting still, they produce a mulled wine, and a wide range of fruit and honey wines. They even have a wine blended from Cabernet and blackberries. We are very intrigued by the latter and by the straight blackberry wine, which they claim is dry. Prices range from $20-38, about average for the Willamette Valley.

Bodhichitta’s owner and winemaker, identified on the site only as Mark, says "Bodhichitta Winery was founded to do my part to ease the suffering in this world while fueling two of my passions--wine and service to others. It answers the two questions I ask myself everyday: 'What can I do to help?' and 'What can I do to serve?'"

We have purchased a sampler of the Bodhichitta wines and will report in here once we have tasted them.

What are your thoughts on the winery as non-profit? What do you think of joining winemaking and service?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We interrupt this PSA...

Beverages & More is running its 5 cent sale again. Buy a bottle at the regular price, get a second of the same for 5 cents more. So, essentially, a 2-for-1 deal. Here are a few sale bottles that piqued our interest:

Fort Ross Pinot Noir Sea Slopes 2006: $28.04 for two. We have not had this wine but have heard great things about it. The 2006 vintage on the Sonoma Coast was tricky, but we have enjoyed the vintage very much.

Rosenblum England-Shaw Syrah 2005: $25.04 for two. Rosenblum does a great job with Syrah, and this is from an interesting spot in Solano County, of all places.

Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes-du-Rhone 2007 white or red: $14.04 for two. Chapoutier is a big producer but these should be great bottles for the price. 2007 is a knockout vintage in the Rhone.

Testarossa Syrah Subasio 2007: $30.04 for two. Another one we have not tried but have heard great things about.

As usual, we would love to hear what you find and how you like it.

And don't worry, we will be posting our write up of the third and perhaps most interesting non-profit winery shortly.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Wine, Freedom and Justice Part 2—New Clairvaux Vineyard

As the situation in Iran begins to look less hopeful, we continue our musings on wine making as a tool for world betterment (see below for the first entry on the subject).

We imagine that the New Clairvaux Vineyard, owned by a Cistercian Abbey, is non-profit. The "Our Vision" page of the website states that their goal is to "create a memorable wine experience" and to "produce extraordinary wine." Laudable, and please see the Monastery's Abbot's comments, below, for a description of their mission and the many projects the income from the wine supports.

The winery is in Vina, California, not far from Chico. Reds range from $13-$36, and whites from $15-16. Aimee Sunseri, a former classmate of ours from the UC-Davis Viticulture & Enology program, is the winemaker.

The lineup of wines is quite interesting, and their prices attractive. Whites include AlbariƱo, Vigonier and Trebbiano, and the reds are Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo, Syrah, and a blend that includes some Cabernet from Napa Valley. The principal vineyard is located on the site of Leland Stanford’s ambitious but failed effort, which was the largest vineyard in the world in 1890.

We have not tried the wines but look forward to doing so. We welcome your thoughts on winemaking and world changing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wine, Freedom and Justice Part 1—Ehlers Estate

Our minds have been focused on Iran of late. Despite our theme of revolution and our fervent belief that wine can bring happiness (and no one should have to pay too much for that), inexpensive wine seems to have little to do with promoting freedom. Watching developments in Iran, we wonder how wine can have a broader positive impact.

A Google search for non-profit wine turns up mostly links to wine being poured or auctioned for non-profit events. Not a bad way to turn fermented juice into cash, but can wine do more?

The profits from Ehlers Estate, which the Napa Valley Wine Blog calls the only non-profit winery in California, go entirely to the LeDucq Foundation, which funds cardiovascular research (a very popular cause among older, wealthier wine consumers, and seemingly a long way from freedom struggles in Iran and eleswhere). Ehlers wines come from the heart of Napa Valley, so it is no surprise that they are not cheap. The Sauvignon Blanc is $25 and the reds range from $45-$90.

Descriptions of two more non-profit wineries will follow. In the meantime, please share your thoughts on wine, freedoms and justice. Is non-profit status a sensible way for a winery to achieve humanitarian goals, or is it better to simply donate wines to non-profits for their events? Is there another way wine producers can work toward humanitarian ideals?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wine Recommendations

Here are some wine recommendations to get you through the weekend. These wines are widely distributed so you should be able to find most of them wherever you shop. These may not lead to jaw-dropping epiphanies, but we think you won't be disappointed. All prices approximate.

Sparkling
Cristalino Brut Cava, $8

White
Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc, $9
Yalumba Y Series Vigonier, $10

Pink
Crios Rose of Malbec, $9

Red
Alamos Malbec, $9
Borsao Campo de Borja, $8
Finca Luzon, Jumilla $6
Cline Ancient Vines Mourvedre, $13
Guigal Cotes-du-Rhone, $13

Have you tried any of these? We would love to hear your thoughts.
 
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