Archive for the ‘Wine Blog Wednesday’ Category

Robert Biale Vineyards – 136 & WBW!

Monday, August 8th, 2005

Sign_4This is a truly exciting post for me. To start, it is Wine Blog Wednesday where Brother Lenn has asked us to Drink Local. The assignment this month is to go and find the winery closest to your home. To my knowledge, I am the only blogger who actually lives in Napa so I have a distinct advantage over say, someone living in Utah… But in a way it was actually a bit difficult. My initial thoughts were that I was either in close proximity to either Laird or Trefethen. I initially posted on Lenn’s site that at least I didn’t live next to Screaming Eagle, which would have been decidedly expensive! I started perusing GoogleMaps and asked winemaker Karen Culler about a suspicious plot of vineyards that I had never noticed before and it is truly fabulous to have access to great people who can help answer questions…

Logo_on_woodA phone call or two later and some time spent on GoogleMaps and I see that a mile-and-a-half (as the crow flies) or 2.8 driving miles away from my humble abode lies a winery about which I knew nothing, Robert Biale Vineyards. So here I get to kill two birds with one stone — a brand new entry in my ongoing blog as well as a really cool installment to WBW! Serendipity was definitely at play here, as the Biale tasting room has been open a whopping two weeks!

Bldg_1The facilities are brand spanking new, but these guys are hardly the new kids on the block. Robert Biale’s family started growing Zinfandel grapes in Napa in the 1920s and now specializes in local historic vineyards. A third generation Napan, Robert has a reliable and dedicated crew (if Jayme, whom I met during my visit, is any indication).

WinemakerAlong with producing vineyard-specific zinfandels (some from 100+ year-old vines), with Al Perry heading up winemaking, additional very cool varietals now carry the Biale moniker; Petite Sirah, Syrah, Barbera, and Sangiovese. Al works closely with the growers from whence Biale’s grapes are grown and feels passionately about these grapes which are distinctly Californian.

Tasting_room_2As indicated, Jayme was the host for the day in the newly-built tasting room. It is an appointment-only establishment, but one worth seeking out, if only to hear the story of the black chicken… But go and taste and buy these wines. They are astonishing in their character and distinct disposition; worthy of aging as their depth shows, but astonishing young.

2003 Grande Zinfandel – This was the second vintage from the Rossi Vineyards produced under the Biale name. The wine is slighty cloudy dark garnet in color and at first demonstrates rich blackberry and boysonberry liqueur aromas, immediately giving way to aromas of freshly-cracked black pepper, sweet and aromatic. The mouth entry is smooth and continues the blackberry tones, but expands to reveal hints of herbs and rich, complex finish. $40.00

2002 Monte Rosso, Sonoma Valley Zinfandel – Sweet cherry nose that is distinctly berry in structure. Developed with deep floral qualities and a long, spicy finish thatis not biting or hot. The Monte Rosso is specifically 110-year old vines and the wine certainly shows its pedigree. $46.00

2002 Thomann Station Petite Sirah – From famous vineyards in St. Helena near Sutter Home, this wine is inky black red and produces a bouquet of elegant licorice, blackberry liqueur, and faint hint of ground coffee. The wine coats the tongue in a supple and velvety fashion showing some brighter acid on the front with a tease of coffee on the finish. $50.00

2002 Gaudi Carli Barbera – Very enticing dark garnet red color. Floral notes that are rustic, spicy, and elegant with a touch of candied cinnamon and a whisper of sweet anise. The entry is at first smooth, silky, and touch sweet. There is more spice on the nose than on the tongue. The acids brighten on the mid-palate and develops into a long, structured finish. $35.00

Robert Biale Vineyards ~ 4038 Big Ranch Road ~ Napa ~ CA 94558 ~ 707-257-7555

WBW #9 – Rosé

Wednesday, May 11th, 2005

Saintsbury_vdgThis is my second Wine Blog Wednesday which was instigated by Len Thompson at Lenndevours. This installment is being hosted by the very essence of pinkness, Becks and Posh. (I had to fight the temptation to post this entire entry in a pink font…)  Their selection this month is the much-maligned Rosé and I can certainly attest to having had my share of horrid, over-sweet, mediocre pink wines.

It was with some trepidation that I approached the Rosé theme but back in January, a friend of mine, Marc Reyes, joined the ranks of the cellarcrew at Saintsbury. Barely a week into the job, he stopped by my office with an offering from one of his first assignments; the bottling of a pink wine! I had to express surprise as I have long been a fan of the Saintsbury line of Pinots but had no idea they produced a Vin Gris, the French name given to a Pinot Rosé. I thanked him and added it to the rack of wines waiting for a hot summer day, but little did I realize that a more opportune moment would arise!

After a few days of hail and rain, the sun came out here in Napa and the perfect weather accompanied the opening of my 2004 Saintsbury Vin de Gris of Pinot Noir. With a Vincent van Gogh-like painting as the label, there is a "signature" on the artwork in Vincent’s script claiming Vincent Vin Gris as the artist. Knowing the Saintsbury love of art, I found the label quite appropriate. The color of the wine is decidedly the dark, rich tone of a good quality pink tourmaline gemstone, with salmon colors to the edge. Not too fluorescent at all.

The aroma was a bit of an enigma. Having taken the wine straight from the fridge, its chill was obviously masking any potential smells. Very hard to detect, but ultimately, some faint strawberry began to appear and then an aroma that exists in a freshly washed plum that is just beginning to enter your mouth.

At very well chilled, the mouth entry is decidedly clean and crisp, not the sickly sweet or white zin-like saccharine, sugary sensation many affiliate with Rosés. The distinct flavors were almost as illusive as the aromas, however the strawberry pronounced itself with delicacy and charisma. An insinuation of rose, floral, and lavender qualities appeared on the finish. I was pleasantly surprised, finding the wine balanced and easily quaffable, but at 13.5%, realized I could drink it way too fast for my own good. Slowing down, the wine warmed up and more classic Pinot qualities of fresh fruit came through, but not necessarily in a beneficial manner. I really, really liked this wine and at $10.99 a bottle, I will definitely buy more for summer barbecues. But I will make sure that it is very cold when served.

WBW #8 – Sicilian Reds

Wednesday, April 13th, 2005

Nero_davolaI’m coming a little late to the game… Len of Lenndevours started started Wine Blog Wednesday where a bunch of wine bloggers get together and blog the same theme. If you are terribly interested, I’ll let you read Len’s site as I jump into my first foray…

LovelySicily is the host of this particular installment, choosing Sicilian wines as this month’s theme and having a California-centric cellar, I had a moment of panic — could I even FIND a Sicilian wine in Napa??? Well, when I got home last evening, I discovered Shawn was busy preparing a lovely roast chicken to finish out an open bottle of Capiaux Pinot. "I forgot I was going to stop and get a Sicilian wine!" I lamented… Shawn, remembering what’s in our cellar far better I do, pulled out a Morgante 2001 Nero D’Avola, Vendemmia that we bought several years ago.

Surprising me, it went with the herb-covered chicken, steamed asparagus, and Bhutanese red rice very nicely. Inky and almost black in color, it was like a beginner’s Syrah in jamminess. Interesting persimmon notes were prevalent in its fruitiness and the tannins and acids were easy, smooth, and extremely pleasant. A hint of spice on the end complemented to chicken more than I thought it would. Considering its dark color and complexity, I anticipated it fighting the food but it was quite lovely (especially at $11.99!). Good call, Ron – you’ve got a new convert!