Sunday, March 27, 2011
By Chris and Sherry Hardie Chardonnay continues to be far and away America's most popular wine, representing more than 20 percent of all wine sales. With nearly 95,000 acres planted in California, chardonnay represents 27 percent of all wine shipped from that state. This Central Coast chardonnay thrives in the climate that features sunny days and cool nights. The wine features tropical flavors and a buttery finish, thanks to the malolactic fermentation that converts malic acid to lactic acid. There's also a hint of vanilla, courtesy of being aged for nine months in oak barrels. This is probably the best value chardonnay we've sampled in a while. Sherry: "Lemon flavor and a trace of butterscotch on the finish." 3 stars Chris: "Floral aroma, pear and a creamy finish." 3-1/2 stars Available locally for about $9. Coming next week: Seven Hawks La Crescent Reserve
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Sometimes too much emphasis is placed on the precise
pairing of food and wines, but there's no mistaking what this sweet wine is meant for: dessert.
This non-vintage California selection was a favorite of Georges de Latour, Beaulieu Vineyard founder. It's made with the ancient grape muscat, known for its aromatics and complexity.
Grape brandy is added to the wine early in the fermentation to produce the sweetness and an 18 percent alcohol level. Some of the wine is aged in oak, which adds richness and depth. It's a sweet, thick wine influenced by the brandy with flavors of honey and stone fruit.
This is definitely a sipping wine.
Sherry: "Honey, apricot and brandy with an apple and pear finish." 3-1/2 stars
Chris: "Honey and pear with notes of brandy." 3 stars
Available locally for about $8.
Coming next week: Cupcake Chardonnay
Nelson is one of New Zealand's smaller wine regions, comprising the top portion of the country's southern island. This vintage comes from vineyards on a wide river flat.
The proximity to the ocean helps moderate the temperatures, which is key to growing this finicky grape, which is picked in late March and April. The wine was stored in French barrels for a year before it was bottled.
Pinots are generally soft and delicate, but this wine has a strong, tannic backbone. The wine opened up and displayed some of its berry fruit flavors and cinnamon spice when accompanied by food.
Sherry: "Very dry, acidic raspberry with a vanilla finish." 2-1/2 stars
Chris: "Cinnamon and beefy bouquet, cherry flavor and a bit of vanilla at the end of a dry finish." 3 stars
Available locally for about $15.
Coming next week: Muscat de Beaulieu
Sunday, March 6, 2011
By Chris and Sherry Hardie
Perhaps it's fate that we tried this California wine with a French label that translates into "delusions in two persons who are closely related" or "double madness." This Amador County zinfandel is just the medicine for our vinifera malady.
The winemaker uses a blend of 80 percent zinfandel, 15 percent petite sirah and 5 percent barbera to create this wine, which undergoes daily racking in early fermentation to soften the tannins. The zinfandel juice is aged in a combination of French, American and Hungarian oak for 14 months.
The wine unfolds with notes of blackberry and spice and has luscious red berry and dark fruit flavors. It's high in alcohol at 14.5 percent, but not hot on the finish.
It's easy to be mad about this wine.
Sherry: "Smooth and fruity raspberry and cherry with floral notes on the finish." 3-1/2 stars
Chris: "Cedar notes, with flavors of cherry and blackberry." 3-1/2 stars
Available locally for about $15.
Coming next week: Nelson Bay Pinot Noir
La Crosse Tribune wine of the week archives
Wine of the week reviews are property of the La Crosse Tribune. All other views on this blog are the opinion of Chris and Sherry Hardie