A Friendly California Trio from Vinum Cellars

Brand: Vinum Cellars was founded in 1997 by first generation, California family winemakers, Richard Bruno and Chris Condos in Napa Valley. The duo met while students at UC Davis, and bonded over their love of Chenin Blanc. “Committed to experimenting and learning new winemaking methods while preserving an old world approach”, they combine unique methods such as experimenting with yeast strains, and using old French barrels for ageing.

The V Series is a line of “unique wines from classic regions for the every day”. All three wines are certified sustainable, small lots and hand crafted.

Philosophy: Winemaking begins in the vineyard, so they value their strong relationships with great grape growers, in order to develop the best fruit in the vineyard.

Vinum Cellars ‘V Series’ Chardonnay Monterey 2015

Winemaking: Grapes are from the famed Santa Lucía Highlands district. Fermented [full malo-lactic fermentation in barrel] and aged in 2 year old French oak barrels.

Tasting Notes: Deep gold in colour with aromas of fresh lemon tart, buttery toast and wildflowers. Vivid lemon and mango flavours are framed by bright acidity. Vanilla and traces of caramel linger on the long, creamy finish.

100% Chardonnay
13.5% Alcohol
$14 [average price]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winemakers: A fine aperitif wine, but really shines with grilled wild caught Salmon/Halibut/New England lobster, with a mango cilantro salsa and dusted with a pinch of cayenne. Serve it with steamed broccoli rabe with a squeeze of Meyer lemon, dust with sea salt along with roasted fingerling potatoes with rosemary.

Vinum Cellars ‘V Series’ Rosé Paso Robles 2016

Winemaking: grapes were grown by Tony Domingos at Seashell Vineyard in Paso Robles’ Geneseo district. Cold fermented for about 30 days to “capture the natural floral, strawberry and berry aromas of these varietals”.

Tasting Notes: Coral pink in colour, very aromatic, with prominent floral notes complimented by strawberries, dusty earth and light peppery spice. Delicate strawberry and watermelon flavors are given a squeeze of fresh lemon acidity. Soft spice and earth notes compliment the dry, fruity finish. Wonderfully gluggable, versatile at the table.

Blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre
13.5% Alcohol
$14 [average price]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winemakers: An excellent sipper on its own, however the acidity will stand up to most any dish. Try with roasted beet salad dusted with roasted almonds and goat cheese, seafood and fresh fish dishes.

Vinum Cellars ‘V Series’ Pinot Noir Monterey 2015

Winemaking: Grapes are from Monterey near King City, on the West side foothills of the lower Santa Lucia Highlands. Malo-Lactic fermentation and 9 months aging in used French barrels. Not racked, “because we like our Pinot Noir to ride the wave between oxidation and reduction”.

Tasting Notes: Transparent red-violet in colour with aromas of cherry, black cherry, earth and toasted oak. Cherry, strawberry, black cherry and a shake of white pepper glide atop silky tannins, wrapped in food friendly acidity. Vanilla, oak and baking spices linger on the dry, fruity finish.

100% Pinot Noir
13.5% Alcohol
$14 [average price]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winemakers: Drinks excellent on its own, or with cheese plates including Morbier, aged white cheddar, Stilton and Chèvre. Pairs well with wild mushroom risotto and shaved Reggiano with or without truffle oil. It’s a natural with duck breast, cassoulet or brick oven chicken. Earthy greens work well such as mustard, collard and beet greens as well as kale.

 

 

Samples submitted for review purpose.

Château des Charmes ‘Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard’ Pinot Noir St. David’s Bench VQA 2014

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Estate: Paul Bosc, a fifth generation French winegrower who holds degrees in Viticulture and Oenology from the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France, founded Château des Charmes in 1978. Paul brought his young family to the Niagara on the Lake region of Canada in the 1960’s “with the idea that growing our own grapes was the best way to make fine wine”. The estate consists of 280 acres of vineyards in four locations all within the Niagara-on-the-Lake region.

Paul established himself as a pioneer in the region, from planting traditional French varietals to employing cutting edge techniques such as installing wind machines to protect the vines from the cold. In addition to being recognized for their progressive, groundbreaking work with traditional French grapes and methods, their wines have garnered accolades for their balance, finesse and quality. Paul Sr still has an active role in the vineyards, his son Paul Jr is President of the estate, and Paul Jr’s wife Michèle is the Director of Marketing.

Philosophy: “We are custodians of the land.” Crafting wines that are “food friendly and age worthy. We hope you will call them delicious”.

Winemaking: Committed from the very beginning to sustainable practices, the family is a charter member of Sustainable Winegrowing Ontario. Chemical treatments are never used, and sustainable methods such as hedge vine canopies, and under drainage are utilized. Naturally occurring yeasts are used for the majority of the wines. All by-products from the winemaking process [stems, skins, seeds] are returned to the vineyards as natural fertilizer. Their extensive cellars are geothermal and do not require any heating or cooling, especially impressive considering how cold Canadian winters can be.

Grapes were sourced from estate vineyards in the St. David’s Bench sub-appellation, the appellation taking its name from the name of the Bosc’s vineyard [St. David’s Bench]. The vineyard is dedicated to single varietal bottlings. The area is unique for its limestone rich runoff water from the escarpment that contributes to the minerality found in all the wines that come from that vineyard.

Tasting Notes: Transparent garnet in colour, very aromatic, with black cherry, black pepper, mushrooms, forest floor and hints of truffle radiating from the glass. A delightful cherry bomb, with all the cherries [red, black, sour] supported by silky tannins. Black pepper and forest floor return on the earthy, mineral driven finish. Lovely on its own or with a wide variety of dishes.

100% Pinot Noir
St. David’s Bench VQA
Canada
13% Alcohol
$36 [Canadian Dollars]
Enjoy now thru 2018

Mud House Pinot Noir Central Otago 2014

Winery: Established in 1996, with a focus on the earth and environment, the Mud House name reflects their “origin and link to the earth, where the wine begins”. Mud House has vineyards in 3 different regions of New Zealand’s South Island; Marlborough, Waipara Valley and Central Otago, along with two wineries, one in Marlborough and one in the Waipara Valley. Employing a combination of innovative technology along with the “passion and artisan skill of the winemakers” they strive to capture the essence from where the grapes come from, “ensuring the unique complexities of each region travelled through the earth through the vineyard to the glass”. The Mud House range of wines are crafted to be “everyday wines to enjoy at any occasion”.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from sustainably farmed vineyards planted in 2003, with free draining sandy loam over schist glacial gravels rich in minerals. Fermented with a combination of wild and cultured yeasts. A portion of the wine was aged in French oak barriques, while the balance was aged in stainless steel “to retain fruit character”.

Tasting Notes: Highly aromatic with cherry, sour cherry, raspberry, woods, black pepper and a trace of wildflowers. Bright cherry, tangy pomegranate and red currant are enveloped in silky tannins and baking spice. Earth, peppery spice and a wisp of oak linger between each sip.

100% Pinot Noir
Central Otago
New Zealand
Produced and Bottled by Accolade Wines
13.5% Alcohol
$15
Enjoy now thru 2019

Rated 90 points by Wine Spectator

Walla Walla Meets Wairau: The Expressive Single Vineyard Wines of Hillersden

Hillersden is located in the Upper Wairau Valley in Marlborough, New Zealand. The estate takes its name from the now long forgotten settler’s town of Hillersden, which was one of the country’s largest sheep stations. Owned today by the Forlong family, the winery is known for being the first family owned, single estate, wine label in the Upper Wairau Valley. Passionately committed to sustainability, solar energy, irrigation technologies, innovation in frost management and repurposing vineyard waste for productivity are just a few of the many methods and approaches they utilize in creating a fully sustainable vineyard. The entire family is dedicated to the honoring the rich history of the land and “creating a new legacy and home for the modern wine lover”. The 3 sons now each have a role in managing the estate, from creating the label art to marketing and vineyard and farm guidance.

I had the pleasure of a guided tasting with their passionate and friendly winemaker, Adam Kubrock. Adam began his wine journey crafting single vineyard Syrah and red wines in Walla Walla, Washington State. Enamored with the cool climate winegrowing in Marlborough, he spent the past 6 years at Indevin, New Zealand Wineries and Mahi “learning the heart and soul of Marlborough wine”.

Winemaker Adam Kubrock.

Hillersden Single Vineyard Legacy Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015

Winemaking: Fermented in stainless steel, aged on light lees.

Tasting Notes: Light on its feet with sweet apple, peach and honeysuckle flavours balanced by bright acidity and an herbaceous streak. Fun, perky fizz carries thru to the clean mineral finish. Refreshing and light, a fun change of pace from Prosecco or Cava.
13% Alcohol
$18 [average price]

Hillersden Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Wairau Valley Marlborough 2016

Winemaking: Fermented in stainless steel, aged on fine lees to give the wine a refined texture to compliment the exuberant flavours. The wine was blended from 4 different vineyard parcels each contributing their own character.

Tasting Notes: Radiating with aromas of lemon, yellow apple, lime and grass. Apple, apricot, lemon and herbs are given a quick shake of white pepper, accenting the crisp, refreshing finish. A gorgeous balance of intense fruit and savoury elements.
13% Alcohol
$15 [average price]

Hillersden Single Vineyard Riesling Wairau Valley Marlborough 2015

Winemaking: Sheep chew the leaves to open the grapes up to the sun, grapes were picked young as they were not looking for the bell pepper flavours. Fermented in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes: Subtle petrol notes are ensconced with bright citrus, apple and honeysuckle flavours. The zippy, flinty mineral driven finish completes the refreshing character. Light, lively and changeable, it will disappear from your glass rather swiftly.
12% Alcohol
$15 [average price]

Hillersden Single Vineyard Pinot Gris Wairau Valley Marlborough 2016

Winemaking: Fermented in stainless steel, aged on light lees to build a refined texture and full palate.

Tasting Notes: Juicy and fresh, with vivid apple, pear and nectarine flavours. Cinnamon and ginger dusted pear linger tantalizingly between each summery sip.
13.5% Alcohol
$15[average price]

Hillersden Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Marlborough 2014

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from high elevation terraced vineyards, wild fermented and aged just shy of 10 months in 25% new oak. Only 300 cases produced.

Tasting Notes: Light and elegant, with layers of blackberry, plum, cherry and raspberry spread across a floral core, accompanied by bright acidity and silky tannins. Traces of earth and baking spice linger on the fruit and floral finish.
13.5% Alcohol
$21 [average price]

 

 

Media event hosted by New Zealand Wine.

 

 

Eat Drink and be Merry: The Dreaming Tree Trio

Winery: Dreaming Tree Wines is the creation of legendary musician Dave Matthews along with New Zealand winemaker Sean McKenzie. The duo is passionate about crafting accessible wines that express “the unique characters and rich flavours” of California’s wine country. The portfolio currently consists of 6 wines, all sourced from various sustainably farmed vineyards in California.

A Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing winery, they strive for sustainability in all facets of wine production, including sustainable methods in the vineyard, bottles that are a quarter pound lighter and manufactured with clean-burning natural gas, 100% recycled paper labels, along with natural corks sourced from sustainable farms. The winery also utilizes solar energy, having the largest solar footprint in the US wine industry.

Philosophy: To make “wines for people to drink. I don’t make wines for people to put in their cellar.”

The Dreaming Tree Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County 2016

“We think this wine hits all the right notes. No matter what your journey may be. This is the perfect wine to share along the way.” – Sean McKenzie

Winemaking: Aged for 3 months in stainless steel tanks, bottled immediately in order to maintain the youthful characteristics of the fruit.

Tasting Notes: Pale gold in colour with bright, fresh aromas of melon, grass, clean minerals and citrus. Juicy, summer cantaloupe and honeydew flavours meld with pineapple and a hint of pink grapefruit. Tingly acidity and clean minerals shine on the citrus zest finish. A fantastic summer sip.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: A great sipping wine that also pairs well with classic fish and chips, fresh shellfish and spicy Mexican dishes.

100% Sauvignon Blanc
13.4% Alcohol
$12 [average price]

The Dreaming Tree Pinot Noir 2015

“This is something I feel good about inviting someone over to share with me. It’s something I can be proud of. It’s creation.” – Dave Matthews

Winemaking: 70% of the grapes were sourced from Central Coast AVA. Aged in oak barrels for 10 months.

Tasting Notes: Transparent bright garnet in colour with inviting aromas of cherry, strawberry, vanilla, white pepper and toasted oak. Tasting similar to the aromas with ripe cherry and strawberry dusted with crushed pink peppercorn. Silky tannins and an engaging savoury streak fuse with vanilla, cherry, spice and traces of oak on the lengthy finish. Easy drinking and well balanced with food friendly acidity, wonderful on its own or with a wide variety of dishes. [It was fantastic with gnocchi covered with rich fontina/parmesan sauce and roasted broccoli.]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Roast chicken or pork, grilled fish, mushroom risotto.

100% Pinot Noir
13.8% Alcohol
$13 [average price]

The Dreaming Tree ‘Crush’ Red Blend 2014

“I swallowed it before I put the glass down.” – Dave Matthews

Winemaking: 79% of grapes were sourced from North Coast AVA. Wines were periodically racked [siphoning the wine off the lees or sediment] to clarify and to develop the smooth tannin structure. After aging for 16 months in oak, the individual varieties were blended.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of cranberry, raspberry, black pepper, vanilla and toasted oak. Velvety tannins along with hints of vanilla and leather accent cherry, raspberry and plum jam flavours. Crushed black peppercorn, toasted oak and a trace of rich black cherry comprise the plush finish. Full bodied with ripe fruit and silky smooth, don’t be surprised how swiftly your glass will empty.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Barbecue, vegetarian stuffed poblano peppers, Vietnamese pork sandwiches.

64% Merlot, 20% Petite Sirah, 13% Zinfandel, 3% Other
13.7% Alcohol
$13 [average price]

Samples submitted for review purpose.