Recent Tastings

Greenhough Vineyard 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand, 2 Stars, $15.00 per bottle.
Robert Mondavi 2005 Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 4 Stars, $11.00 per bottle.
Louisvale 2006 Unwooded Chardonnay, South Africa, 4 Stars, $8.99 per bottle.


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Published in: on March 25, 2007 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

D.C. Food and Wine Festival: Wine Makes Everything Better

Last weekend I attended both days of this year’s Food and Wine Festival in Downtown D.C. I missed last years Festival, but had attended one two years ago that was held at the new Convention Center. I was sad to find out this year that the Festival is not what it used to be. First, it was held at a smaller venue (The Reagan Building). This led to not only less room for the vendors — and less vendors — but less room for the attendees. On Saturday in particular wine lovers were packed in like sardines doing their best to enjoy themselves while barely able to move. By the time you fought your way to a table to get a tasting you would have been just as happy to get some water as another Napa cabernet. If it is back at the Reagan building next year, I will only go on Sunday. The second day was a bit less crowded, which made it a much more enjoyable experience.

All criticism aside, wine makes everything better. While the focus of the Festival was clearly California, there were quality wines from other regions of the United States as well as a few standouts from a less-than-stellar international selection. Given the environment and the severely limited hours (okay, I am really done whining now), there was no way to take complete tasting notes to share with you. What I was able to do, is write down the names of the standouts. I will list them by region along with any notes that I can remember. Links are provided to the winery sites to learn more on topics such as distribution.

Before reciting the comprehensive list, however, a few wines and regions are worthy of special recognition:

1. Best Syrah and Petite Syrah in Show: Lodi, California:
Michael-David Vineyards 2004 Sixth Sense Syrah.
Peltier Station Winery 2005 Petite Syrah, $18 per bottle.

2. Best Rieslings in Show: Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars, Finger Lakes, New York (is anyone surprised?):
2006 Dry Riesling, $17.99 per bottle.
2006 Semi-Dry Riesling, $15.99 per bottle.

3. Best Viognier in Show: Horton Vineyards (Congrats, Virginia, you did it!):
2006 Viognier, $20 per bottle.

4. Best Dessert Wine in Show: It’s a tie!
Rockbridge Vineyard 2005 V d’Or (Vidal Blanc), Virginia, $20 per bottle.
Standing Stone Vineyards 2005 Vidal Ice (Vidal Blanc), Finger Lakes, New York, $24.99 per bottle.

5. Best Up-and-Coming Winery of the Show: Joseph Carr Wine, Napa Valley, California:
Portfolio includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. The Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc are the strongest of the three, but all are high quality. Mr. Carr is personable and knowledgeable about his craft.

Now as promised, the comprehensive list of Honorable Mentions:

United States
Abundance Vineyards
2004 Abundantly Rich Red (Zinfandel, Carignane), $14 per bottle.
Acacia Vineyard 2005 Pinot Noir, $28 per bottle.
Alexander Valley Vineyards 2005 ‘Sin Zin’ Zinfandel, $20 per bottle.
Andretti Winery 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $38 per bottle.
B & E Vineyard 2003 Merlot, $20 per bottle.
Calistoga Cellars 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, $30 per bottle.
Dynamite Vineyards 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, $17.25 per bottle.
JanKris Winery 2004 Picaro (Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon), $17 per bottle. Honorable Mention: JanKris Winery 2004 Riatta (Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon), $17 per bottle.
Louis M. Martini 2004 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Opolo Vineyards 2005 Late Harvest Zinfandel, $34 per bottle.
Barboursville Vineyards
2005 Rose, $14.99 per bottle.
Horton Vineyards Lot 06 Eclipse Red, $10.00 per bottle.
Rockbridge Vineyards 2006 Riesling, $14.00 per bottle (pure apple).

Alice White
2006 Lexia (Muscat).
Houghton Wines 2005 Semillon/Sauvigno Blanc.
McWilliam’s Wines 2004 Hanwood Estate Shiraz.
Yarraman Estate
2004 Barn Buster Semillon-Verdelho, $9.99 per bottle.

Hofkellerei des Fursten Von Liechtenstein
2006 Clos Domaine Riesling.

Mouton Cadet
2004 (Bordeaux).

Italy (Sadly, I did not make it through most of the Italian tables.)
Voga Quattro (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir).

Greystone 2005 Pinot Grigio
Greystone 2005 Traminer

New Zealand
New Haven 2006 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
, $9.99 per bottle.
Whitehaven Wine Company 2005 Sauvignon Blanc, $12.45 per bottle.
Whitehaven Wine Company 2005 Pinot Noir, $17.38 per bottle.

South Africa
Sebeka 2006 Shiraz/Pinotage
, $7.99 per bottle.


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Published in: on March 18, 2007 at 8:25 pm  Comments (4)  

A New Way to Spread the Word

Do you like what you see on this blog? Want to help more people see it? Well then, vote for Wine with Dinner at Local Wine Events and help spread the word. You can vote once per day, so vote early and vote often!

Upcoming posts: Round 3 in New Zealand: Martinborough; D.C. Food and Wine Festival 2007; Winslow Wines, Martinborough, NZ and Omata Estate, Bay of Islands, NZ.

Published in: Uncategorized on March 7, 2007 at 8:49 pm  Comments (3)  

Round 2 in New Zealand: From Waipara to Kaikoura

After tasting the wines of Central Otago and finishing our stay in Queenstown on the South Island, Mrs. Wine with Dinner and I drove north toward Marlborough, Motherland of sauvignon blanc. Sadly, due to a scheduling snafu, we had no time to actually tour in Marlborough and had to rely on our tastings at various restaurants and wine shops for our sample of the region. We did, however, get a chance to stop at a few wineries on the way through Waipara as we drove toward the whale-watching town of Kaikoura. I managed to find time to snap a few pictures and take a few notes as we sped down the left side of the road in our rented Ford Falcon.

Rosebank Vineyards
The Grounds at Rosebank Vineyards

Our first stop on the road to to Waipara was Rosebank Estate Winery. Rosebank Estate has beautiful grounds and is located very close to the main drag, which makes it a nice place to stop for lunch and a nice glass of wine on a drive out of Christchurch. The standouts here were the 2006 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and 2005 Pinot Noir. Nearly colorless, the white presented aromas of citrus and a hint of lychee and flavors of grapefruit and lemon. While a solid example of Marlborough sauvignon blanc, it was a little thin (the Mud House 2006 is still the best that I have had), 3 Stars1/4, $8.73 per bottle. The Pinot was ruby red in color with streawberry, cherry, and red berry aromas complimented by a touch of dark chocolate, with a flavor of red berries and limited spice notes, 3 Stars1/4, $9.70 per bottle. Sadly, their website has know distributor information, but you can contact them directly.

Pegasus Bay Winery
Pegasus Bay Winery

Our next stop in Waipara was one of my favorite wineries in New Zealand. Pegasus Bay is owned by the Donaldson family and was one of the first vineyards to establish that high quality wine could be made from grapes grown in Waipara. Everything we tasted was delicious, but the winery’s Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend and its Late Harvest Riesling, Aria, were the best of the class. The 2006 Sauvignon/Semillon has a light yellow hue with aromas of lemon, honey, peach, and passion fruit. The palate is fruit-forward and lemony with hints of peach and spice on the back of the tongue, 4 Stars1/4, $16.32 per bottle. The 2006 Aria has honey and floral aromas with a fruity, sweet peach flavor. This is a very good dessert wine, 4 Stars1/2, $24.25 per bottle. I highly recommend anything that you can get from Pegasus Bay; fortunately, their distributor is right down the road in Alexandria, Virginia.

Pegasus Bay 2006 Sauvignon-Semillon
Pegasus Bay 2006 Sauvignon/Semillon

Finally, just before reaching our hotel, we happened upon Kaikoura Winery. This is one vineyard that could survive simply on the view out of its tasting room windows. Fortunately, they have not settled for being a tourist trap. Kaikoura has several quality wines that you can enjoy while looking at the bright blue Pacific stretching as far as your eyes can see. Their best offerings are whites, their 2006 (Off-dry) Riesling and 2004 Noble One Late Harvest. The Riesling is pale yellow with orange, honey, pear, and whitewater aromas (thanks to Mrs. Wine with Dinner for that last descriptor) and a fruit-forward palate with a hint of ginger spice that finishes clean, 4 Stars, $12.00 per bottle. The Late Harvest is a Riesling/Sauvignon blend with aromas of fig, ginger, honey, and apricot. It is decidedly sweet, with a syrupy honey, apricot, and fig palate, 4 Stars1/4, no price presently available. Also of note is that Kaikoura winery makes a wine-based creme. A curiosity, but it was delicious enough for me to lug a bottle back to the States. I am uncertain if they ship to the U.S., but inquiries can be made here.

Mrs. Wine with Dinner at Kaikoura Winery
Mrs. Wine with Dinner at Kaikoura Winery

Rosebank Estate
Rosebank 2006 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 3 Stars1/4, $8.73 per bottle.
Rosebank 2006 Canterbury Pinot Gris, 3 Stars.
Rosebank 2004 Estate Riesling, 2 Stars.
Rosebank 2005 Pinot Noir, 3 Stars1/4, $9.70 per bottle.

Pegasus Bay
Pegasus Bay 2006 Main Divide Sauvignon Blanc, 3 Stars1/4.
Pegasus Bay 2006 Sauvignon/Semillon, 4 Stars1/4, $16.32 per bottle
Pegasus Bay 2006 (Semi-dry) Riesling, 4 Stars.
Pegasus Bay 2004 Pinot Noir, 3 Stars3/4.
Pegasus Bay 2004 Merlot/Cabernet, 3 Stars1/4.
Pegasus Bay 2001 Merlot/Cabernet, 4 Stars.
Pegasus Bay 2006 Aria, 4 Stars1/4, $24.25.

Kaikoura Winery
Kaikoura Winery 2005 Chardonnay, 2 Stars1/4.
Kaikoura Winery 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, 2 Stars3/4.
Kaikoura Winery 2006 (Off-dry) Riesling, 4 Stars, $12.00 per bottle.
Kaikoura Winery 2006 Gewurztraminer, 3 Stars.
Kaikoura Winery 2005 Pinot Rose, 2 Stars1/2.
Kaikoura Winery 2006 Select Rose, 2 Stars3/4.
Kaikoura Winery 2004 Pinot Noir, 3 Stars1/2.
Kaikoura Winery 2004 Noble One Late Harvest, 4 Stars1/4.

The View from Kaikoura Winery’s Tasting Room
The View from Kaikoura Winery’s Tasting Room

Published in: on March 4, 2007 at 9:21 pm  Comments (1)