Thursday, January 8, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: A Pair of Wente Reds, A Few New Wine Words

Wine words. If you spend any time around wine (ahem), you'll get your fill of them. Tannic. Varietal. Dry. Off-dry. Sweet. Vineyard. Estate. You get the idea, right? Sometimes, it's good to know them. For instance, you don't want to buy a wine that's described as "off-dry" if you don't like sweet wines. But what about some of those other words and phrases that get bandied about, mostly on wine labels? I recently got the chance to study up on estate grown and single vineyard wines, courtesy of my very good friend (and fellow West Point mom) at Wente Vineyards.

Wente Wine Charles Wetmore Estate Grown Cabernet SauvignonWente is currently celebrating their 130th harvest. Think about that one. 130 years of picking grapes. And making wine. Let's just ponder that wonderful job.... Back to reality now. My latest Wente sipping came from the estate grown and single vineyard offerings of the winery. And I got to try them with The Winey Son, who was home for the Christmas holiday and has developed into quite the red wine lover. Win-win!

The first wine we tried was Wente's Charles Wetmore Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon (2012, 13.5%, CA). The nose on this Cabernet Sauvignon pops out with cherry and new oak. The flavors are some of my all time favorites when it comes to Cabernet: chocolate cherry and mocha that finished long oakey. The tannins were well behaved and full of flavor and it felt supple in my mouth. Here comes the educational part: “Estate grown” on the label means that the winery and the vineyard where all the grapes are grown are located in the same viticultural area. The winery owns or controls the vineyards, and the wine was made by the winery at its facility on the estate. 1 Wente owns and cultivates over 3,000 acres of "sustainably farmed" estate vineyards. This one came from the...Charles Wetmore vineyard (well, duh). Wetmore was California’s first agricultural commissioner and a Livermore Valley pioneer. Buy this wine if you like smooth reds that have a ton of flavor but not so much oak.

Wente Wine Single Vineyard Riva Ranch Pinot NoirNext, we tried the Riva Ranch Single Vineyard Pinot Noir (2012, 14.5%, CA). This is an estate grown, single vineyard offering, meaning that in addition to being grown on the Wente estate, 95% of the grapes come from the single property listed (the 95% thing...it's US law if you want to call it single vineyard). In this case, it's the Arroyo Seco vineyard in Monterey. Unfortunately, The Winey Son was unable to sip this one with me, due to a horrendous stomach flu that hit him and The Winey Daughter. I was the one who sipped this after tending to them and let me tell you, sitting down with a glass of wine after caring for your sick kids (I don't care how old they are) all day is a treat. If you've been there, you are nodding right about now. Anyway, the nose on this Pinot is spicy smoke, boysenberry and cranberry. The taste was round, with flavors of smoke, dark green herbs and spices and cherries. It finished on a toasty oak. I think I can best describe this Pinot Noir as an herb garden in Autumn. Think of fire pits with woodsmoke, the last of the herbs in your garden and how good they smell when you brush by them, dark ripe fruits and that lively Autumn feeling you get on a crisp fall day.  This wine is for you if you like your red wine tart and full and less fruit forward.

Two more wonderful reds to get me through the winter. And we all got to learn some new wine words, too.

Cheers!

I was given this wine for review purposes. The opinions and the friendship are all my own!


1"The Wine Institute." Lifestyle Release: Fascinating Facts About California Wine -. Wine Institute, n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2014.
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