Chronicle Wines with Mike Hengehold

by Henry Barrow

Mike Hengehold

I met Mike Hengehold, owner of Chronicle Wines in Sonoma, for breakfast at the Viceroy Hotel in Miami for a conversation about his wines and a tasting. Early morning is a great time to taste wine because your palate is fresh and so is your attitude.

Mike is Vice President of sales for Luna Vineyards, but this is his own project. You know this classic car collector is an optimist. He’d have to be to start an a wine company during a depression.

After a “get to know each other “ period of time, Mike poured me the first wine of the morning::

2007 Chronicle Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
By now you all know that Pinot Noir is my favorite grape and I am more critical of this grape than any other. I remind you of that, because I was seduced by this wine. First the color was true Pinot, light and shimmering. Then the nose of cherry, strawberry, some floral and spice notes led to soft, elegant, velvety flavors. There are enough tannins to give great balance and suggest that the wine wants to be served with food. I immediately thought of smoked salmon. I was wondering why Mike served me the best wine first. That thought was erased when the second wine was poured.

2007 Chronicle Cerise Vineyard Pinot Noir
When you think of Anderson Valley you think of Pinot Noir, and this beauty shows you why. After thinking the first wine I tasted would be the ultimate wine of the tasting, I was suddenly faced with absolutely the best pinot from Sonoma Coast I have ever tasted. This wine introduces itself with great Pinot color, a nose that leaps out of the glass and draws you inside. Black cherry and even some blackberry fruit embraces your senses. This is a Pinot Noir for the ages. The nose, the flavors, the underlying ripeness of the grapes, the elegance, the great balance, and the overall beauty of the wine have placed me under its spell. Alas, only 556 cases of the wine were made. Not all of us will get to taste this wine.

2006 Bacigalupi Vineyard Zinfandel
The Bacigalupi Vineyard was planted in the heart of the Russian River Valley basin in 1950 and is one of the most famous and coveted areas for old vine zinfandel grapes. With that in mind I was expecting something really good, and I got more than I expected. Here the color is what you expect from old vine grapes, deep, dark, rich looking. That leads to the nose of dark berry and cranberry and some spice. Blackberry and dark cherry fruit fill your mouth at first taste and then vanilla and spice come into play. This is what you want when you open an old vine zinfandel.

If these three wines I tasted are an indication, Chronicle will soon be listed on the Honor Roll of Sonoma Coast wines. If you can find them, get them. If you wish to learn more, the web site is   www.chroniclewines.com. Check it out.

Exploring Wines from Argentina

Silvina Astegoamp

The tasting panel was invited to hold this session at Splitsville, a very upscale bowling alley in the Shops of Sunset Place in the city of South Miami, Florida. Splitsville is an enormous establishment that is beautifully decorated and has three different lounges. The wine list is above average and the drinks are wonderful. Silvina Astegiano, proprietor of Oyikil Wines from the Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina, presented four of her wines. They were not tasted blind. That was followed by several other wines from Argentina. Panelists had access to three different cheeses and Carr’s water crackers if they desired. Now to the tasting:

2008  Oyikil Viognier You are greeted by a light golden color. The nose is of peach blossoms and honeysuckle, with hints of vanilla and flavors of Pink Lady apples, honey, lemon cream and a suggestion of citrus peel. 90 points

2007 Oyikil Malbec The panel loved this wine with its Bright ruby color and its smoky nose of black fruit, chocolate covered cherries and vanilla. Then came rich flavors of red and black fruit, rosemary, black pepper, and coffee. The wine is 95 percent malbec, 3 percent Cabernet sauvignon, and 2 percent syrah.   93 points

2007 Oyikil Cabernet Sauvignon This beauty is 95 percent Cab and 5 percent syrah. The color is dark ruby to the edge. The nose was of black currants, cigar box, pepper, and boiled beef. Dark berries dominate the softy tannic taste, with chocolate, pepper, cardamom and a feeling of light elegance to warp the flavors together. The beef in Argentina is leaner than beef in the USA and thus less acidity is needed in the Cabs. 90 points

2008 Oyikil Uamen Uamen is an Argentine name for Condor’s nest. It is a blend of 50 percent Malbec, 25 percent Syrah, 15 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10 percent Petite Verdot. The ruby color of the wine appears to sparkle. Aromas are headed by violets, black fruit, milk chocolate and a hint of black pepper. The taste tends to black cherries, spice, and chocolate with a hint of pepper.  The wine is still young and developing.  91 points

2003 Opalo This soft, silky Malbec has never felt oak. The color is deep, the nose is of Cassis and leather, and the soft earthy taste is of black fruit, minerals, and dried plums. Maurico Lorca made this light-hearted beauty.  89 points

2005 Calligori This  organic wine is 60 percent Malbec and 40 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a very light color and a shy nose of cooked black cherry, bacon, slight green pepper and licorice. The slightly herbal flavors include light red fruits, some minerality. It is a light, simple wine. 87 points

2005 Bodega Antucura Barrandica This Estate wine from the Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina, is 50 percent Merlot, 40 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10 percent Malbec. It’s spicy, dark fruit aromas lead to similar flavors. This is an elegant, complex, balanced wine that cries out for Coq a Vin, or roast turkey. 90 points

2003 Calvulcura This attractive Argentine blend of 60 percent Merlot and 40 percent Cabernet Sauvignon is a pleasant wine with aromas of cherry, licorice and black pepper. The taste is of cherries, licorice, pepper, chocolate and a strange hint of rubber.  89 points

2003 Antucura Our tasting ended with this 50-50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It has elegant aromas of dark fruit, cinnamon, cloves, licorice, and bell pepper. The well-crafted flavors of ripe black fruit, chocolate, toffee, cedar and pepper and perfectly balanced. 90 points

Dr. Konstantin Frank wines

by Henry Barrow

Brian Page hard at work

The late Dr. Konstantin Frank arrived in New York in 1951. He found that the general belief was that vitis vinifera grapes could never be successful in New York state. So what did he do? Dr. Frank planted Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon and Rkatsiteli grapes. More about that last grape when we taste and rate it. The tasting was held at the bar at J J’s American Diner in Coral Gables, Florida. We thank JJ’s for the use of their facilities. When you are in the area, stop in and try their food. The tasting was on April 11, 2009.

Now the wines:

2002 Ch. Frank Brut “Champagne:” This sparkling wine is made in the methode champenoise, using Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. It is light straw in color with a buttery, creamy texture. Aromas and flavors of soft lemon, pear, quince with nice minerality and light yeast. Serve with American caviar, or salty canapes. The panel liked this and gave it an 89.

2007 Salmon Run Riesling:A typical inexpensive riesling with sweet apple flavors and just a tiny hint of citrus. A simple wine but the lack of complexity is a good thing if you are looking for a wine for guests to sip while sampling things like chips, onion dip, soft cheeses, even Li’l Smokies. The panel thought the wine delivered what was expected.  Rating 85

2007 Dr. Konstantin Frank Semi-Dry Riesling: A wonderful German-style riesling with hints of petrol on the nose, along with tart, crisp pear. Flavors of pear, lemon, and minerals. This is a WOW! wine that would go well with chicken wings, soft shell crabs, grilled pork, spicy Asian dishes, barbecue ribs or potato salad. Rating: 90

2007 Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling: Typical German aromas of petrol, flowers, and citrus. The flavors include citrus, pineapple, minerals and good, balanced acidity. A very elegant dry wine that more Americans should include in their wine drinking routine. Serve this with Grilled Trout, Sole Meuniere, Stone Crabs, Chicken Kiev, Venison, and any number of German meat dishes. Rating: 90

2006 Rkatsiteli: Seashore aromas( panel member Bryan Page thought of oysters). Flavors of sweet grapefruit, orange peel, iodine, light acidity. I have never encountered a wine like this, but would love to do it again. It begs to be paired with calamari, shrimp, smoked or fresh oysters, stone crabs, spiny lobster, cracked conch, black skillet mussels, or abalone. Rating: 89

2007 Dr. Konstantin Frank Cabernet Franc: Aromas of black fruit leads to black fruit and vegetal flavors with assertive acidity. The color is light ruby with violet edges and looks as good in the glass as it tastes. It is still very young and could use some aging. It is very good right now and would go well with red meat, especially lamb,or ribeye steak, baked ziti, and hamburgers. Rating: 89

Fleur de Pinot Noir: (non-vintage)- Despite the promising wild berry nose, this wine does not deliver any interesting or attractive flavors. The panel could not recommend this wine.

2007 Salmon Run Pinot Noir: Light cherry aromas with a Volnay-like lightness of color and a burgndian minerality highlight the light cherry flavors. This is a wine just made for lightly spiced pork dishes, grilled red snapper, lightly spiced pate on baguette slices, or with gouda cheese. Rating: 89

2007 Dr. Konstantin Frank Pinot Noir: Savory black cherry aromas in the way that umami is savory, without being sweet, sour, or salty. There is none of the barnyard aroma that we have come to know in Pinot. In the mouth we find flavors of black cherries, crabapple, minerality and wonderful acidity. This is a first class wine that goes well with cedar planked salmon, grilled tuna, anything with mushrooms,bleu cheeses, triple cream cheeses, smoked turkey, boeuf Bourguignon, Paella, and mild enchiladas. Rating: 91

Overall, Dr. Konstantin Frank’s winery offers wine of good to very good quality at reasonable prices.

Cheese and Chardonnay

by Henry Barrow

Chardonnay & Cheese

There are more bottles of Chardonnay sold in this world of ours than any other grape. Chardonnay serves so many purposes it is no wonder that it is so popular. It is a sipping wine, a food wine, a cooking wine, and an ingredient in champagne. We love a good chard, whether it comes from Burgundy, Oregon, California, Washington State, New York State, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Italy, or Spain. We like the sometimes buttery citrus and tropical fruit flavors.

When the wine comes from Burgundy, we love the mineral flavors that go with the citrus notes, some of us even love the over oaked flavors that some winemakers use to coverup some flaws. I love chardonnay when it is aged on the lees and develops the richness of the natural flavors of the grape. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of chard is a nice wedge of Brie de Meaux cheese. That aged, creamy, rich cheese is a perfect match for chardonnay. The next thing that comes to mind is hot buttered popcorn. You can do all kinds of variations on the theme with popcorn. For instance: add some truffle oil to the popcorn. Or, try sprinkling herbs like tarragon, cilantro, Italian parsley, thyme.

When it comes to cheeses you can load your cheese board with Manchego from Spain, Asiago from Italy, Camembert from France, Mountain Gorgonzola, the soft Gorgonzola from Italy, Cambozola from Germany, Reblochon, St. Andre, the fabulous Basque cheese Idiazabal, and Taleggio from Italy with its pungent aroma and runny texture when mature. I also like chardonnay with shrimp, lightly sauced fish, and with pork.

You should also get creative and try chardonnay with hot dogs, tuna fish salad, chicken salad, and it is great with fried chicken. Basically, chardonnay is fun so enjoy it, don’t study it.

Bridgeview Vineyards

by Henry Barrow

Bridgeview owners Lelo and Bob Kerivan

Henry loves the wines of Oregon, but not too many people know of or care about the wines of southern Oregon. We’re talking about wines from the Rogue and Applegate valleys. The major player in both of those areas is Bridgeview Vineyards. Bridgeview is in Cave Junction and owners Bob and Lelo Kerivan are among the nicest people in Oregon. They had a dream and made it come true. If you are in Southern Oregon you must visit Bridgeview. Sandy and I list it as one of our favorite places in the entire world. You can order wines from their web site. Some of our tasting panel members recently tasted several wines from Bridgeview and had these opinions:

Bridgeview Cabernet Rose: A wonderful surprise greeted us when this salmon pink rose was poured. The wine is made in the dry style with aromas and flavors of strawberries, good acidity and is a throughly enjoyable wine. It goes very well with wild Alaskan smoked salmon, steamed mussels, gorgonzola and brie cheeses and with sunset on your terrace. Rating: 88

2005 Bridgeview Blue Moon Merlot: Southern Oregon grapes go into this beautiful sparkling ruby red, medium-bodied merlot. Rich flavors of cherry, some blueberry and light spice make it a wonderful wine for some wild salmon on the grill, grilled chicken, seared tuna, and most of your favorite soft cheeses.  Rating: 88

2006 Bridgeview Blue Moon Oregon Chardonnay: This was not the panel’s favorite Bridgeview chardonnay.* It has very light color and the flavors and aromas of lime, lime zest, honeysuckle and a tiny bit of sour orange. A pleasant hint of minerals saves this very lightly-oaked wine.  Rating: 86

2005 Bridgeview Blue Moon Southern Oregon Cabernet/Merlot: Very nice for everyday drinking. Aromas include cherry and cloves. This is followed by plummy raspberry and licorice flavors with a hint of black cherry. Serve this with pork, grilled ribeye steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, lamb, swordfish, fried chicken, spicy wraps and Cape Cod Parmesan & Roasted Garlic Potato chips. Rating : 88

2007 Bridgeview Blue Moon Oregon Pinot Gris: This is a very nice wine that proves the value of Pinot Gris from Oregon. Crisp, bright melon and pear aromas and flavors with some lemon notes. Very good with shrimp, salads, some spicy Oriental dishes and with, believe it or not, hot wings.  Rating: 88

 2007 Bridgeview Southern Oregon Viognier: Wow! Nice floral notes on nose. Flavors include honeysuckle, lychee and a refreshing minerality. The panel loved this wine. Too bad there is very limited quantity.  Rating:89

2007 Bridgeview Southern Oregon Gewurztraminer: There is nothing very complex about this pleasant wine. There is, of course, a floral nose with flavors of lychee, pear, and cinnamon. It will stand up to Chinese foods, Mexican favorites, and Jalapeno poppers.  Rating:88

2004 Bridgeview Southern Oregon Black Beauty Merlot: A mature nose of black cherry and spice and then comes the surprise; this is a big wonderful wine. It would go well with lamb, salmon, beef, veal, pork loin, grilled chicken, gorgonzola cheese, Brie de Meaux, and English chedar cheese.  Rating: 90

1996 Bridgeview Red Cedar Pinot Noir from Southern Oregon: Henry had this bottle in his wine storage unit and was not sure it would be any good. None of the panel could believe this wine was still as fresh and flavorful as it was. Mature flavors of dried cherry, mushroom, and forest floor. I doubt that there is any of this wine left anywhere, but if there is, get it.  Rating:91

Four Italian Wines

Cellar at Sant' Elna Winery

by Henry Barrow

Julie Mushett of our tasting panel and Henry had the occasion to taste four Italian wines on a Friday afternoon last week. They tasted the wines at JJ”s American Diner in Coral Gables, Florida. We’ll list the wines and their comments.

2005 Sant’ Elena Pinot Grigio from Venezia: Julie found tropical fruit and melon notes on the nose and liked the creamy texture. Henry noticed a golden green tint in the color of the wine and also picked up the tropical fruit flavors along with some unripe peachiness. Both thought the wine, priced at about $17.99, was better than many of the better known brands.

2007 Sant’ Elena Sauvignon: First, Henry wanted you to know that Sauvignon in Italy does not have the word Blanc following it. Henry liked the sparkling green color and the aromas of citrus, tropical fruit and flowers. The flavors carried over to the taste. He thought it was an excellent example of an Italian Sauvignon and highly recommends it. Julie found aromas of carambola and pineapple sage. She also thought this was a fine Italian Sauvignon. It is priced at around $21.99.

2003 Icardi Pinot Nero: Julie found notes of raspberry jam and tobacco on the nose and a nice smooth taste that reflected the nose. Henry with impressed with the rich, earthy aromas of berry and black tea. He thought this was a perfect party wine priced at $23.99.

2007 Brigal dara Valpolicella de Verona: Julie found dried plums, dates and allspice on the nose. Henry, who loves Valpolicella, found notes of currants and spice. At $15.99 both thought this would be a perfect wine for everyday drinking.

Miami Tasting of Gems Portfolio

by Henry Barrow

On November 19, I attended a trade tasting of wines in the Gems Portfolio of distributor Southern Wine and Spirits. It was held at Brosia restaurant in Miami’s Design District and I’ll have more to say about this fun place at another time. The Gems Portfolio is a selection of only excellent wines that are not readily available because of small production or of strict allocation. It’s always a pleasure to taste this collection of excellent wines because of the real “gems” that you find.

Some of the wines I tasted came from Jim Clendenen, the guy who put Santa Barbara wines on the map, and is a very good tennis player. I’ll tell you some more about my favorite of his wines that I tasted. Other wines I tasted included those from Emmy Award winning chef Michael Chiarello, whose winemaker is Thomas Brown, formerly of Turley, Micheal is a star on both The Food Network and Fine Living Network. Others I tasted included Cloud View,Daedalus Cellars, more about this Oregon gem later, Freeman Winery, Gary Farrell, Loring Wine Company, Matthews Estate from the Columbia Valley in Washington, Mauceri, which only grows Pinot Noir, Pali Wine Company,Quintessa, the Agustin Huneeus project in Rutherford, Roessler Cellars, one of my favorite sources for pinot and for chardonnay, Rubicon Estate, which makes a great white called Blancaneaux, the always in demand Schrader cellars, Scott Paul in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. It’s owned by former DJ and music business executive Scott Wright, Starlight and I’ll expound about their Viognier later, Vineyard 29,Donum Estate pinot noir, and Dyer Vineyard Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.

In this first installment of a tasting that deserves a lot of space, I want to tell you about a wine that you should have for holiday parties, when you are serving a lot of wine with appetizers and want something that tastes great and has a recession-era price. It’s called Jezebel and it’s made by one of my “YCACOT” wineries, Daedalus of Oregon. By-the-way,  YCACOT lets me save time when talking about a winery You Can Always Count On This to be good. I tasted their Gruner Vetliner from Oregon. To tell the truth, I had no idea anyone was growing Gruner in Oregon. If I had any complaint about this wine it would be a little lack of acidity. That did not diminish the nice flavor of this Austrian native. I also tasted their Pinot Noir. It was very light in color, which is not a bad thing with pinot noir. I know many people judge a red wine by how dark it is, but that’s not really important in pinot. The flavor in this wine was typical cherry and cola with just enough acidity to make it balanced. It was good and at around 15-dollar a bottle, it’s a winner. I’ll do some capsule reviews of some of the other wines in a couple of days.

On November 19, I attended a trade tasting of wines in the Gems Portfolio of distributor Southern Wine and Spirits. It was held at Brosia restaurant in Miami’s Design District and I’ll have more to say about this fun place at another time. The Gems Portfolio is a selection of only excellent wines that are not readily available because of small production or of strict allocation.

Some of the wines I tasted came from Jim Clendenen, the guy who put Santa Barbara wines on the map, and is a very good tennis player. I’ll tell you some more about my favorite of his wines that I tasted. Other wines I tasted included those from Emmy Award winning chef Michael Chiarello, whose winemaker is Thomas Brown, formerly of Turley, Micheal is a star on both The Food Network and Fine Living Network. Others I tasted included Cloud View,Daedalus Cellars, more about this Oregon gem later, Freeman Winery, Gary Farrell, Loring Wine Company, Matthews Estate from the Columbia Valley in Washington, Mauceri, which only grows Pinot Noir, Pali Wine Company,Quintessa, the Agustin Huneeus project in Rutherford, Roessler Cellars, one of my favorite sources for pinot and for chardonnay, Rubicon Estate, which makes a great white called Blancaneaux, the always in demand Schrader cellars, Scott Paul in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. It’s owned by former DJ and music business executive Scott Wright, Starlight and I’ll expound about their Viognier later, Vineyard 29,Donum Estate pinot noir, and Dyer Vineyard Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.

In this first installment of a tasting that deserves a lot of space, I want to tell you about a wine that you should have for holiday parties, when you are serving a lot of wine with appetizers and want something that tastes great and has a recession-era price. It’s called Jezebel and it’s made by one of my “YCACOT” wineries, Daedalus of Oregon. By-the-way,  YCACOT lets me save time when talking about a winery You Can Always Count On This to be good. I tasted their Gruner Vetliner from Oregon. To tell the truth, I had no idea anyone was growing Gruner in Oregon. If I had any complaint about this wine it would be a little lack of acidity. That did not diminish the nice flavor of this Austrian native. I also tasted their Pinot Noir. It was very light in color, which is not a bad thing with pinot noir. I know many people judge a red wine by how dark it is, but that’s not really important in pinot. The flavor in this wine was typical cherry and cola with just enough acidity to make it balanced. It was good and at around 15-dollar a bottle, it’s a winner. I’ll do some capsule reviews of some of the other wines in a couple of days.On November 19, I attended a trade tasting of wines in the Gems Portfolio of distributor Southern Wine and Spirits. It was held at Brosia restaurant in Miami’s Design District and I’ll have more to say about this fun place at another time. The Gems Portfolio is a selection of only excellent wines that are not readily available because of small production or of strict allocation.

Some of the wines I tasted came from Jim Clendenen, the guy who put Santa Barbara wines on the map, and is a very good tennis player. I’ll tell you some more about my favorite of his wines that I tasted. Other wines I tasted included those from Emmy Award winning chef Michael Chiarello, whose winemaker is Thomas Brown, formerly of Turley, Micheal is a star on both The Food Network and Fine Living Network. Others I tasted included Cloud View,Daedalus Cellars, more about this Oregon gem later, Freeman Winery, Gary Farrell, Loring Wine Company, Matthews Estate from the Columbia Valley in Washington, Mauceri, which only grows Pinot Noir, Pali Wine Company,Quintessa, the Agustin Huneeus project in Rutherford, Roessler Cellars, one of my favorite sources for pinot and for chardonnay, Rubicon Estate, which makes a great white called Blancaneaux, the always in demand Schrader cellars, Scott Paul in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. It’s owned by former DJ and music business executive Scott Wright, Starlight and I’ll expound about their Viognier later, Vineyard 29,Donum Estate pinot noir, and Dyer Vineyard Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.

In this first installment of a tasting that deserves a lot of space, I want to tell you about a wine that you should have for holiday parties, when you are serving a lot of wine with appetizers and want something that tastes great and has a recession-era price. It’s called Jezebel and it’s made by one of my “YCACOT” wineries, Daedalus of Oregon. By-the-way,  YCACOT lets me save time when talking about a winery You Can Always Count On This to be good. I tasted their Gruner Vetliner from Oregon. To tell the truth, I had no idea anyone was growing Gruner in Oregon. If I had any complaint about this wine it would be a little lack of acidity. That did not diminish the nice flavor of this Austrian native. I also tasted their Pinot Noir. It was very light in color, which is not a bad thing with pinot noir. I know many people judge a red wine by how dark it is, but that’s not really important in pinot. The flavor in this wine was typical cherry and cola with just enough acidity to make it balanced. It was good and at around 15-dollar a bottle, it’s a winner. I’ll do some capsule reviews of some of the other wines in a couple of days.