Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Paul Dolan Wines

Paul Dolan was one of the pioneers of organic and biodynamic winemaking. His family lineage includes well-known names like Carlo Rossi and Concannon, and he honed his winemaking skills at Fetzer Vineyards in the early days of the California wine boom.

Although Dolan is no longer connected to the winery that bears his name, the winery still sources organically grown grapes from vineyards in Mendocino County and Potter Valley. The winery stresses the importance of careful vineyard management and strives to express the unique terroir in each of their wines. 

Paul Dolan Vineyards Zinfandel Mendocino County 2015 

100% Zinfandel, 15% ABV, SRP $16.99 

Dark red with aromas of blackberry, cherry preserves and pepper, this is a wine that definitely needs time to open – especially considering its youth and alcohol content. The flavors are a mix of red and black fruit, complimented by notes of cinnamon, pepper and allspice. This is a big, plush zinfandel with soft tannins and a lingering finish. 

Paul Dolan Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Mendocino County 2015 

98% Cabernet Sauvignon/3% Cabernet Franc/1% Petite Verdot, 14.5% ABV, SRP $22.99 

The 2015 vintage was overall pretty kind to California winemakers, but particularly good for cabernet growers. The light, early harvest produced wines of depth and richness, and this wine is no exception. The aromas are classic: black cherry, cedar, cassis and a hint of cinnamon. The deep color hints at the full-bodied and lush layers of flavor: cherry, black currant, red licorice and vanilla. The bracing tannins suggest this wine could use some more time in the bottle or some time in a decanter (which is what I did). 

Paul Dolan Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Mendocino County 2015 

100% Sauvignon Blanc, 14.5% ABV, SRP $16.99 

I have one word for this wine – delicious. I have a weakness for big, ripe sauvignon blanc – especially when it’s done in stainless steel.

Earlier I mentioned that 2015 was a good vintage for California, and this wine shows the bright, deep flavors that come from really good fruit. The nose is rich with aromas of melon, citrus and lemongrass. The flavors are a mix of tropical fruit, honey and baking spice with enough acidity to balance the richness. 


(These wines were provided as samples.)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

McPherson Cellars Tre Colore 2015

One of the things I’m most interested these days in regard to wine is wineries outside the states that a lot of people associate with U.S. wine production – California, Oregon and Washington.

I'm talking about wines from Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Mexico and North Carolina, just to name a few states that are producing great wines.

I like buying these wines for a couple reasons. First, I like supporting the wineries themselves, since most are small, independent operations – as opposed to the giant, corporate-owned wineries whose products take up the bulk of shelf space in many wine retailers. Second, I want to encourage retailers to put more of these wines on their shelves. 

Wines from Long Island or Virginia don’t exactly leap off the shelves. People tend to buy what they know.

So, when I discovered a local retailer carrying wines from Texas, I immediately picked up a few bottles. I'll admit I was not familiar with Texas as a wine producing state, but I should have known better.

Texas was the site of the first North American winery established by Franciscan monks around 1662. Today, Texas has 4,000 acres of vineyards, eight American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), 350 bonded commercial wineries and ranks fifth in U.S. wine production.

There will be more Texas wines in my future, but here are my thoughts on one.

McPherson Cellars Tre Colore 2015 Texas Red Wine 

50% Cinsault/50% Carignan/10% Viognier, 13.9% ABV, $12.99 @ Bottles

Tre Colore is bright and fruit forward without being cloying. It’s light-bodied with notes of cherries, raspberry, cinnamon and hint of floral/honey owing to the small amount of viognier. It’s food friendly and would pair well with so much. It would definitely be the perfect red to pack for a picnic.

The McPherson family has a history in the Texas wine industry that goes back over 40 years. Kim McPherson started the McPherson label in 2000 and opened McPherson Cellars in 2008 in a converted Coca-Cola plant in downtown Lubbock.

All the grapes for McPherson wines are sourced from the Texas High Planes AVA, which is in west Texas – south of the panhandle region. The grapes for the 2015 Tre Colore came from the Castaño Prado and Lost Draw vineyards. 

This is the kind of wine I want to drink more of: small production (1988 cases), from a family-owned winery and full of character.

Eric Asimov recently wrote about buying wine like you would food. It’s worth a read.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

New Wines From Adler Fels

It’s probably been 20 years since I opened a bottle from Adler Fels Winery. Granted, I don’t drink as much California wine as I used to. But if my memory serves me correctly, it was a chardonnay, and it was quite good.

Alder Fels has been around since 1979, and more recently has produced lots of wine under other labels. These two new wines are part of a refresh/rebrand of the flagship label.

Adler Fels Chardonnay The Eagle Rock 2015

50% Sonoma County/50% Monterey County, 14.4% ABV, SRP $19.99

This is a classic California chardonnay with notes of peach, honeydew melon, and a touch of vanilla, finishing with balanced acidity. I’ve always had a soft spot for well-crafted Monterey County chardonnay, and the addition of Sonoma County fruit gives this wine added complexity.

Adler Fels Pinot Noir The Eagle Rock 2014

76% Santa Barbara County/24% Sonoma County, 14.4% ABV, SRP $27.99

This lovely, subtle pinot noir leads with notes of tart cherries, olive, licorice and tobacco. The finish is long and supple. Give this wine a little time to open up, as it really developed over the course of the evening.

The winemakers for Adler Fels are Linda Trotta and Aaron Bader. They’re a well-known winemaking team, who among many, many other previous endeavors are the duo behind the official wines of The Bachelor TV series. Yes, such things do exist.

If you’ve got a few minutes and need a mindless chuckle, here’s a video review of those wines. Trust me, it’s worth it.