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The Honest Pour with John Lenart

Taking you beyond the bottle.

Ep. 37 Diego Cusumano, Cusumano

The wines of Sicily get more exciting by the vintage. In the past few decades the fiercely independent Italian island on the Mediterranean has transformed from a bulk wine growing region to one producing many outstanding wines of distinction.  One of the best things about Sicilian wines is that they offer an amazing value and will rarely break the bank.  Such is the case with Cusumano, a group of brothers who invested heavily in creating high quality vineyards around Sicily. Taking their time, they eventually started making a variety of outstanding wines.

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DiegoGrapexDiego Cusumano Photo Credit Cindy Rynning grape-experiences.com

CusamanoNero2016 Cusumano Nero D’Avola

Kind of like a Bruno Mars song, poppy, fun, has wide appeal and a bit of an adult side. Bright ruby red color. Bold aroma of cherries followed by notes of violets, spice, and earth. Flavors of black plum, and blueberries are backed by hints of tobacco, cocoa, nice acidity and round tannins. The unique glass closure will have your guests talking. A solid value.

SRP:  $10

 

 

cusumano-noa-2010-bot_1

2014 Cusumano Noa

This blend of Nero d’Avola, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon shows that Cusumano is about a whole lot more than value wines. A big wine at 15% abv, this wine shows rich aromas of blueberry jam, and purple flowers. This is quite full bodied for Nero d’Avola, but it’s getting serious backbone from merlot and body from the cabernet sauvignon.  Flavors of fresh dark berries are balanced by moderate acidity and fine tannins. Complex and enjoyable, Drink now through five years.

SRP:  $35

Ep. 36 Patricia Ortiz, President and Owner Tapiz, Zolo and Wapisa

 

Argentina is the worlds fifth largest producer of wine. Known primarily for Bordeaux varieties, the wines of Argentina pair wonderfully its meat driven cuisine. Patricia Ortiz is the president and owner of Tapiz, Zolo and Wapisa in Argentina, who is dedicated to making wines of distinction that express not only the unique terroir from a variety of growing regions around Argentina, but is also producing wines of outstanding quality and value.

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Patricia Ortiz, President and Owner, Tapiz, Zolo and Wapisa

tapiz_espumante_torrontes

NV Tapiz Sparkling Torrontes

Pale yellow to a touch green in color. Aromas of white flowers, citrus and a touch of salinty.  Nice tropical fruit flavors finishing off with a balanced savory note.

SRP: $21

 

 

 

Wapisa-bottle2016 Wapisa, Sauvignon Blanc, Coastal Patigonia

Pretty aroma of citrus, herbs and a hint of ginger. Bright acidity is balanced by a nice weight of fruit on the palate.  Pleasant, balanced, and delicious.

 

SRP: $15

 

 

WEB__Blacktears_MB_2012

2011 Tapiz, Black Tears, Malbec

Deep purple in color. Wonderfully spiced nose with great earthiness, combined with beautifully balanced aroma of blackberries. Grippy youthful tannin and bright acid balance out wonderful g=fruit flavors of blackberry and black plum. Gorgeous structure will help this wine age gracefully got the next 10 years or more.

SPR:  $48

 

 

tapiz_granreserva_lasnotas_2012

2012, Tapiz ‘Las Notas de Jean Claude’, Merlot

Elegant aromas of toasted oak and deep dark berries with hints of coffee and earth. Stunning weight and complex mouthfeel tell you right away that this wine is a classic. Deep dark cherry and blackberry flavors are backed by assertive tannin and mouth watering acidity. This wine screams for food, steak in particular. Amazing structure will let this wine age beautifully for 10 or more years.

SRP:  $120

Ep. 35 Josh Phelps, Grounded Wine Co.

Over the past few years California wines often go to one of two extremes. They tend to either be sweet, high alcohol jam bombs that meet the likes of a few well regarded and powerful wine critics, or they tend toward the reactionary “new” school style of being intentionally low in alcohol, lean and under-ripe. Josh Phelps, a native of Napa Valley and son of a well regarded winemaker, is a millennial winemaker with a new brand called Grounded Wine Co. who is marching to his own beat. The initial release from Grounded Wine Co., a Bordeaux blend called Steady State is a truly balanced beauty. Phelps plans other new releases from growing regions in Washington State as well as Paso Robles which will be priced to be accessible to younger wine drinkers. But don’t let a low priced wine from a young winemaker fool you. If  the wines to come from Grounded Wine Co . are as good as Phelps’ inaugural  release, this is a guy you’ll want to follow.

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Josh Phelps, Grounded Wine Co.

gwc-trade-steady-state-436x12802015 Grounded Wine Co., Steady State, Bordeaux Blend

This deep ruby wine is a blend of 73% cabernet sauvignon, 8% malbec, 7% cabernet franc, 6% merlot, 6% petit verdot grown in some of Napa Valley’s most priced appellations. Great Napa fruitiness with a nod to the earthiness of Bordeaux. Flavors of black and red fruit are kept in check by earthy notes and highlights of cocoa, espresso, and pleasant minerality. Youthful grippy tannins and mouthwatering acidity will help this beautifully balanced wine age gracefully for the next 5 to 10 years.

SRP: $65

 

Ep. 34 Andy Erickson, Winemaker, Favia

While working with some of Napa Valley’s most influential wine producers in some of the best vineyard sites in all of California, Andy Erickson and his wife Annie Favia started a small project in their garage. That single barrel blossomed over the years to what has become Favia. Erickson and Favia are now producing outstanding wines from premium California growing sites in their small winery located on their historic Coombsville ranch. While these wines are hard to find, due to small production, and are on the pricier side, you can be sure that they are absolutely outstanding wines which showcase the best of the vineyards which they are grown.

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Andy Erickson, Winemaker, Favia

2013-cerrosur12014 Favia Cerro Sur

This Cabernet Franc is grown high in the Vaca Mountains east of Napa. It’s expressive nose boasts lavender, cherry and plum. The body is beautifully balanced with silky tannins and mouthwatering acidity showing flavors of cherry, cocoa, lavender and cinnamon. A stunning wine that will improve with age for the next 10 to 15 years.

SRP:  $175

 

2013-coombsville1112014 Favia Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon

The somewhat shy nose of this deep purple wine elegantly reveals notes of pencil lead, licorice and dark berries. On the palate flavors of blackberries and black cherry are balanced by cigar box, chocolate and some savory notes. This wine will mature and continue to improve for decades.

SRP:  $175

Ep. 33 Randy Snowden, Snowden Vineyards

Randy Snowden’s parents purchased what is today The Snowden Ranch in 1955. The 160 acre property lies on the eastern slopes of Napa Valley looking down at Rutherford and St. Helena. This unique site isn’t part of either the St. Helena or Rutherford appellation, yet it produces fruit that shows some distinctive characteristics of both St. Helena and Rutherford.

Everyone knows Napa wine isn’t cheap. With land costs that can approach a million dollars per acre, how could it be? Yet, while many Napa wines work their way well into the 3 figure price points relative value still exists. Perhaps there’s no greater example of value from Napa than Snowden Vineyard wines.

A testament to the quality of fruit grown here is the list of world class wineries that, prior to the launch of the Snowden label, purchased their fruit; Silver Oak Wine Cellars, Frank Family Vineyard, David Ramey, Viader, and Caymus Vineyards.

I sat down with Randy Snowden to talk about the history of the site, look at the family’s wine making philosophy and of course to taste some delicious wine.

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ScottRandyWithTractorRandy (left) and Scott Snowden (Right), Owners, Snowden Vineyards

RANCH 14 FINAL 5880

2014, Snowden Vineyards “The Ranch” Cabernet Sauvignon

Harmonious nose showing blueberry, violet and a hint of dusty minerality. Gorgeously integrated flavors of blueberry, leather, lavender and a dustiness. Silky tannis and balanced acid lead to a long complex finish. An amazing value from Napa.

SRP:  $50

BROTHERS 2014 924

2014, Snowden Vineyards “Brothers Vineayard” Cabernet Sauvignon

Very floral nose highlighted with fresh blueberry aromas. Amazing texture. This wine is all about finesse. Bright acidity, balanced fruit, and silky tannins integrated throughout finishing with a distinct spiciness. Quality that compares to Napa wines at three or four times the price.

SRP:  $80

RESERVE 08 8112008, Snowden Vineyards “Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon

A library release this wine is elegance in a glass. A touch restrained, revealing itself over time. Typical of a cool vintage the fruit is a bit lighter in character allowing this wine to be pretty without being showy. Flavors of red berries, are backed with minerality, mushroom notes, cigar box and baking spices. Classic mature Napa Cab!

SRP:  $80 (A STEAL!)

Ep. 32, Victoria González-Gordon, International Marketing Manager, González Byass

Sherry took me a long time to get to know. My friend, sherry guru Elizabeth Mendez, tried to show me the light for years. Somehow I just couldn’t see it. But finally, on a trip to Spain, hosted by González Byass, maker of Tio Pepe fino sherry, I was able to put context to the ethereal fortified wine of Jerez. It happened while eating tapas, a simple grilled shrimp on a skewer, and sipping Tio Pepe sherry, that it all came together.

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A Solera of Tio Pepe in the González Byass Bodega, Jerez Spain.

The flavors of the food and wine danced together in a harmoniousness tango of flavor. I’ve been a slave to sherry’s siren song ever since.

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Master Blender Antonio Flores of González Byass showing Flor in the Bodega.

Of course, visiting the González Byass Bodega in Jerez and tasting with Master Blender, sherry legend Antonio Flores didn’t hurt. It was this trip that linked me forever with not only sherry, but with the wines of González Byass.

When I got the opportunity to sit down with Victoria González-Gordon, International Marketing Manager of González Byass, I jumped at the chance. The business has been in her family for five generations. When I found out we’d be tasting the extraordinary sherry of the “Palmas Range” of  González Byass I was even more excited. These extremely rare wines are hand selected by Flores and released just once per year.

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A cask hand selected and marked by Flores for Tres Palmas

Throughout each year Flores samples from barrels in various Solera in the Bodega and selects the very finest for the Palmas Range.

The four Palmas sherries are:

Una Palmas, only three casks are made with an average age of six years.

Dos Palmas, two casks with an average age of eight years

Tres Palmas, one cask with an average age of ten years.

Cuatro Palmas, just one fifth of a cask with an average age of 51 years.

You can see why I was excited to sample these wines and talk some sherry basics with the charming Victoria González-Gordon.

 

 

Vicky Gonzalez Gordon

Victoria González-Gordon, International Marketing Manager of González Byass

EnRama2017Tio Pepe en Rama, Fino

Pale golden color. A quite yeasty nose showing aromas of almond and green apples. A creamy texture gives way to almond flavors, apple, and some lemon zest with a good bit of salinity.  Great acidity. Pair with grilled shellfish. You can thank me later.

 

SRP: $20

 

UNA PALMASGonzález Byass Una Palmas, Fino

Light golden color. Nose almond and walnut skins with dried stone fruit. A savory wine with complex flavors of nuts, a bit earthy with a sea-like brine and luxurious acidity.

 

SRP: $25

 

DOS PALMASGonzález Byass Dos Palmas, Fino

Medium gold color. A salty approach leads to aromas of green olives and marzipan. Flavors of dried apple and almonds dominate finishing with a distinct salinity and bright acid. Serve with roasted fish or wild game.

SRP: $50

 

 

CUATRO PALMASGonzález Byass Cuatro Palmas, Amontillado

Elegance. Stunning and classic. Words fail me in describing this amazing wine, but I will try, certainly I won’t do it justice. Aromas of cedar, spice box, salt and a touch of cigar smoke. Flavors of dried fig, orange zest, and nuts, yet still a lively, dare I say young complexion. Not bad for 51 years on average. If you  are interested in sherry, seek out this classic. It will be worth your search.

SRP: $110

 

Ep. 31, Manuel Louzada, Winemaker, Propiedad de Arínzano and Achaval–Ferrer

Manuel Louzada is a thoughtful well spoken winemaker. A fourth generation winemaker his family’s commitment to quality winemaking has been passed down through the generations and today he maintains that commitment on two continents. Chasing harvests between South America and Europe his wines are distinctive and terroir driven. The wines I tasted in this episode are no longer the current releases but the tasting notes below will give you an idea of the style of wines Louzada makes and what you can expect from the current releases.

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IMG_1536_color02Manuel Louzada Winemaker, Propiedad de Arínzano and Achaval–Ferrer

LaCasona2008 Propiedad de Arínzano La Casona

Dusty Ruby in color. An earthy nose backed by aromas of fresh blackberry and plum. The velvety texture supports flavors of black currant, plum and blackberry followed by notes of cedar, milk chocolate and cherry cola.

SRP:  $40

 

 

achaval-ferrer-finca-bella-vista-20132013 Achaval–Ferrer Finca Bella Vista Malbec

Bright Ruby in color this wine shows aromas of blueberry, plum, leather and spices. Flavors of blueberry, cocoa and violet are backed up by silky tannins and bright acidity in this beautifully integrated wine with a long bright finish.

SRP: $140

Ep. 030, Eleonora Marconi, Winemaker, Frescobaldi, Castello di Nipozzano Estate

In Episode 12 of The Honest Pour I interviewed Marchese Lamberto Frescobaldi, owner of Frescobaldi. In this episode I interview a winemaker from one of his estates, Eleonora Marconi, winemaker at Frescobaldi’s Castello di Nipozzano Estate. Built in the year 1000 as a defensive fortress, today Castello di Nipozzano houses the wine cellars. I spoke with Marconi about her dedication to making wines for this historic estate her close working relationship with the Marchese.

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foto Eleonora Marconi

Eleonora Marconi, winemaker, Frescobaldi Castello di Nipozzano Estate

 

NIPOZZANO-RISERVA-2013-12013 Frescobaldi Nipozzano Riserva

Earthy nose with notes of red berries and leather. On the palate bright acidity is balanced by fresh red berry flavors accented with hints of cocoa, purple flowers  and silky tannin.

SRP: $20

 

 

 

 

NIPOZZANO-VECCHIE-VITI-2013-Nuovo-Logo2013 Frescobaldi Nipozanno Vecchie Viti

A restrained, elegant nose that slowly let’s you get to know it.  This ruby red wine starts with aromas of a bouquet of purple flowers and ripe berries. The texture is well balanced with flavors of luscious berries and coffee. A bit lean through the mid palate. Silky tannin and forward acid make this wine scream for food.

SPR: $27

 

 

2013 Frescobaldi Montesodi Chianti Rufina MONTESODI-2013

Extremely elegant nose. Gorgeous integration of fruit, earth and floral aromas. Velvety texture. Restrained flavors of red berries backed by subtle notes of cocoa, mushroom and earth with a fresh long finish. Pretty now, but will age fabulously for 5 to 10 years.

SRP: $42

Ep. 029 Chris Brundrett, Winemaker, William Chris Vineyards

When you think about drinks from Texas what first comes to mind might be Lone Star beer or Tito’s Vodka. But for the wine lover, look to Texas Hill Country. Here lies a burgeoning wine industry. The arid land and gently rolling hills there brings to mind the south of Spain. It’s in the hill country just outside of Austin that William Chris Vineyards is located. The Chris of William Chris, is Chris Brundrett, the native Texas winemaker winemaker who studied at Texas A&M. Brundrett is making some really delicious and  intriguing wines that express the terroir of the lone star state.

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William Chris Wine Team_Miguel Lecuona copy.jpg  Chris Brundrett (Left, front) and  Bill Blackmon (Right front)

 

2016 Malbec Rosé, Hye Estate Vnyd, Texas Hill Country, Concrete Aged2.png

2016 William Chris Vineyards, Hye Estate Vineyard Malbec Rose

Pale peach in color. Nose of orange cream and wet stones. Bright on the palate with super-fun mandarin flavor combined with solid acidity and strong minerality.

 

SRP: $25

 

2015 Tempranillo, High Cross Vineyards, Sutton County.png2015 William and Chris Vineyards, High Cross Vineyard Tempranillo

Super bright garnet color. Nose of red fruit, spices, and cola notes. On the palate flavors of red cherry and mixed red berries are backed up by silky tannin and medium acid all building to a long finish.

 

SRP: $40

 

 

                        2014 Petit Verdot, La Pradera Vnyds, Texas High Plains.png

2014 William Chris Vineyard, La Pradera Vineyard Petit Verdot

Deep, brooding color. Very floral nose of violets backed up with a good hit of limestone. Flavors of dried dark fruit, a bi candied but balanced by spiciness with bold tannins and complex acidity. Give 3 to 5 years for optimal drinking.

 

SRP:  $60

 

2014 Tannat, Hye Estate Vnyd, Texas Hill Country 2.png

 

2014 William ChrisVineyards, Hye Estate Vineyard Tannat

An earthy nose of light purple flowers. Plum and cherry flavor predominate backed by hints of cocoa, cola and good minerality backed by bright acidity and grippy tannins.

 

SRP:  $60

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