Conventional Varietals But Unexpected Results

Each wine offers vibrancy and life that reflects these winemakers’ passion and respect for terroir.

Some weeks we’re in for a bit of adventure when it comes to our wine tasting. Adventure doesn’t necessarily mean trying unusual varietals or tasting wines we haven’t had before. Instead, adventure is all about exploring the efforts of younger wine makers, different continents or pure, soft expressions of grapes that can be particularly robust, flabby or unexciting. For this week’s adventure, we review a Cabernet Franc from the Russian River Valley, an Australian Syrah from the Hunter Valley north of Sydney, and a Chardonnay stunner from Auvergne in central France. Each wine offers vibrancy and life that reflects these winemakers’ passion and respect for terroir.

Methode Sauvage Alegria Vineyard Cab Franc (2016)

A rich purple in color, this wine has initial very fresh pepper and spice notes. It’s quite dry on the palette but still has a lot of acidic dark red fruit, earthy forest floor notes and the slightly complex herbal notes that round out the finish. Quite a delight in terms of the lively harmony between fresh acidity and more vegetal, earthy qualities. On the second day, fresh pepper aroma remains on the nose but it’s much rounder upfront while still capturing the earthiness and the herbal lift on the finish. Though winemaker Chad Hinds has only been making wines since 2013, his commitment to Cab Franc across California vineyards shows great understanding of the grape varietal.

Harkham Wines Aziza’s Shiraz (2013)

When the temperatures plummeted on Friday and Saturday, we know we needed to pick out a wine with some heft, and this 2013 Syrah from Australia did not disappoint. When we first poured the wine, we noticed a deep ruby color. The first aromatics were quite robust and smoky with flint and pencil shavings standing out. Over time, we noticed how the aromatics tended to get more relaxed and mineral forward the day after opening. Initial tasting notes were that it was quite broad driven by a touch of oak and tannins, with sweeter dark fruit, like blackberry. Despite this heavier initial taste, we were happy to taste an acidity that builds through the finish, which is quite long and lively with some peppery spice and floral notes.

Tricot Escargot Chardonnay (2016)

Of our tastings this week, the Tricot Chardonnay is one of the our favorite Chardonnays we’ve tasted in 2017. Unlike most Chardonnay, it is unfined, unfiltered and without SO2 and really a wholly unique take on the grape. It is a very light yellow in color, and though the nose is rich and buttery like a more classic Chardonnay, the wine itself drinks very pure, decidedly mineral and saline forward, silky, with a lovely bracing acid that structures the wine. Particularly notable is the long finish with building flavor notes of pear, citrus and white flowers. The soft finish is so pleasant that it would pair so well with most foods but has the ability to really stand alone and delight the palette. Priced in the low 30s, this wine is also a great value if you’re looking to impress dinner guests.

Join us next week as we celebrate one of our favorite wine drinking holidays of the year: Thanksgiving! Bring on the light reds, Pet Nat sparklers and energetic, acidic whites.

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