A Wine for Tonight: 2014 Domaine Saint Aix Rosé



By Kori ~ July 22nd, 2015
2014 Domaine Saint Aix Rosé paired with grilled salmon

2014 Domaine Saint Aix Rosé paired with grilled salmon

Would you like a quick suggestion for a good wine to drink tonight (or this weekend) that won’t break your budget and is widely available? If so, you might want to check out the 2014 Domaine Saint Aix Rosé from the Provence region of France.

Our selection criteria include:

  • A very good Quality rating of >=3.5 stars (out of 5)
  • A price tag of <=$20
  • Must be widely available

Maison Saint Aix, a 130-year-old winery, is situated in the south of France, just an hour northeast of Aix en Provence. Their Domaine Saint Aix Rosé is easy to find across the United States, especially this time of year. It is great as a sipper and gets even better with food. We especially enjoy pairing it with grilled salmon.

When the sun is shining and you’re looking for a refreshing beverage to enjoy on the deck or in the backyard, don’t forget to give rosé wine a shot and this 2014 Domaine Saint Aix Rosé is a great place to start.

2014 Domaine Saint Aix Rosé (Provence, France): 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault. Pale salmon color. Very aromatic with strawberry, orange peel, and floral notes on both the nose and palate. Dry and light-bodied with crisp acidity and a long finish. Well-balanced, food-friendly, and very refreshing.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle, Washington), $14.99; Available elsewhere, $14 to $20



Filed under: A Wine for Tonight, Food & Wine, French Wine, Rose Wine, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25
 

Campo Viejo: Where Wine and Art Come Together



By Kori ~ July 10th, 2015

Okuda and Remed sculpture in the Campo Viejo vineyard

Spanish artist Okuda and French artist Remed are renowned in the urban art scene for their colorful creations. Okuda was born and raised in Santander, Spain. He started painting in 1997 and began producing urban art on a larger scale in 2002. Okuda specializes in street art, illustrations, paintings, murals, sculptures, and installations. Remed grew up in Lille, France. He specializes in walls, canvas, prints, drawings, and sculptures. Today, both artists are based in Madrid.

Campo Viejo brought Okuda and Remed together in 2013 to collaborate in the creation of a sculpture at the Campo Viejo vineyard in Rioja, Spain, which aims to convey the modernity, expressiveness, and vibrancy of the Campo Viejo wines. Since creating that vineyard sculpture, Okuda and Remed have continued to collaborate with Campo Viejo to bring their art and wine to cities around the world through the Streets of Colour project.

“The creative process of winemaking and art is more similar than most people think. Both of us start with a blank canvas and a vision of what we want to achieve. The process then takes us on a journey of experimentation—be it flavours or colours—until we are satisfied with the final outcome.” –Elena Adell, Campo Viejo winemaker

2009 Campo Viejo Reserva Art Series

2009 Campo Viejo Reserva Art Series

During my recent press trip to Rioja, I got to see the Okuda and Remed sculpture in the Campo Viejo vineyard up close and personal. It is beautiful and has become an enduring symbol for the Campo Viejo brand.

In addition to the large-scale urban art projects, Okuda and Remed have also collaborated with Campo Viejo to create eye-catching, contemporary label designs for the Limited Edition Campo Viejo Reserva Art Series. The second Reserva Art Series, the 2009 vintage, was recently released. Campo Viejo gave each of us on the press trip a bottle of this wine in a personalized box. I brought it home and tasted it in one of our blind tastings. Not only does it come in a beautiful package, but it is also an excellent wine.

2009 Campo Viejo Reserva Art Series (Rioja, Spain): Deep, ruby red in color. Gorgeous nose with chocolate and cassis aromas. Red cherry, raspberry, and a touch of chocolate come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and smooth tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $18; Limited Availability

“We are truly excited to be able to work with Okuda and Remed to reflect the exquisite taste of Campo Viejo Reserva 2009 through their designs. Okuda and Remed are such talented artists and we knew they would be able to bring to life the taste and feel of the wine and its Spanish heritage.” –Elena Adell, Campo Viejo winemaker

Salud!



Filed under: Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Spanish Wine, Tempranillo, Wine Travel, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25
 

2012 Kennedy Shah Merlot



By Kori ~ June 18th, 2015

2012 Kennedy Shah Merlot

The Woodhouse Wine Estates is a boutique winery located in Woodinville, Washington. Owners Bijal and Sinead Shah founded Woodhouse Wine Estates in 2004 along with Bijal’s uncle Tom Campbell. Winemaker Jean Claude Beck comes from several generations of French winemakers and has worked at various wineries in California and Washington. Woodhouse produces three tiers of Washington wines: Marketplace, Reserve, and Wine Club Exclusive.

Recently, we had the opportunity to taste their 2012 Kennedy Shah Merlot in a blind samples tasting. In addition to being a very good wine, it also delivers serious bang for your buck. It is named after Bijal and Sinead’s daughter and is one of the staples in their Marketplace tier of wines.

The Woodhouse Wine Estates Tasting Room is open daily. If you find yourself in Woodinville, I encourage you to visit.

2012 Kennedy Shah Merlot (Columbia Valley, Washington): 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. Deep, dark purplish red in color. Aromatic with red cherry, plum, and a touch of evergreen on the nose. Cherry, licorice, and vegetal notes come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $14; Available elsewhere, $16



Filed under: American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Merlot, Red Wine, Washington State Wine, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25
 

Spotlight On: Campo Viejo



By Kori ~ June 5th, 2015

Campo Viejo in Rioja, Spain

Campo Viejo was founded in 1959 by two winemakers from Rioja, Spain, Bernardo Beristain and Jose Ortigüela. The winery name, Campo Viejo, was inspired by the land in El Villar de Arnedo where Jose Ortigüela spent his childhood. Directly translated from Spanish to English, “Campo Viejo” means “old field”. Situated in the heart of Rioja in the Ebro Valley on a high plateau near Logroño, the winery offers beautiful panoramic views of the vineyards and nearby mountain ranges. After 56 years, Campo Viejo is still going strong, producing accessible and approachable wines in Rioja. Campo Viejo is the #1 Rioja producer in terms of sales worldwide with annual production at 2.1 million cases. Many of the Campo Viejo wines are widely available in the United States.

Elena Adell has been the chief winemaker at Campo Viejo since 1998. Born in Logroño in 1958, Elena has over 30 years of experience in the wine industry. In 2001, Campo Viejo built a new state-of-the-art winery. Elena was very involved with the plans for the new winery from the beginning and was able to work with the architectural team to design a facility with tradition and sustainability in mind. The production facility is underground and utilizes gravity in their winemaking processes. When the grapes come into their production facility, they are separated by variety, region, and so forth. The way Elena and her team works allows them to make wine on a large scale but in the manner of a smaller producer. In 2012, Campo Viejo became the first Spanish winery to achieve Carbon Neutral certification.

Elena Adell, Campo Viejo chief winemaker

Recently, I had the pleasure to visit Campo Viejo on a press trip to Rioja. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Elena and getting a first-hand look at the Campo Viejo operation. The attention to detail in both the vineyards and winery is evident and quite amazing for a winery with such a large production level.

Rioja, located in north-central Spain, is probably the most well known wine region in Spain and one of the most prominent in the world. Red wines from Rioja are typically Tempranillo-based and may have some Garnacha (Grenache), Mazuelo, or Graciano blended in as well. Tempranillo is not particularly a fruit-driven wine, often showing aromas and flavors of wood and leather up front. Given this flavor profile, Tempranillo wines often seem older than they actually are. Taking its name from the Spanish word “temprano” which means early, Tempranillo tends to ripen early.

“I adore working with Tempranillo. It’s such a versatile grape. I love seeing the many different ways it can express its character in such a diverse range of wines.” –Elena Adell, Campo Viejo chief winemaker

Kori in the Campo Viejo vineyard

During my visit, we toured the vineyard located at the winery with Campo Viejo’s vineyard manager Mario Ezquerro. Rioja has diverse soils, geography, topography, and climates in its three sub-regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, and Rioja Baja. The winery is located in Rioja Alta, but Campo Viejo sources grapes from all three sub-regions. They are committed to sustainability and traceability and require each of their 800 growers to keep detailed records so Mario, Elena, and their team at Campo Viejo can make important decisions such as when to pick the grapes during harvest.

Elena’s attention to detail and emphasis on controlling every aspect of the winemaking process in order to produce consistently high quality wines at affordable prices is remarkable. While many winemakers stress the importance of vineyard practices, blending decisions, and the like, Elena is the first winemaker I’ve met who has talked to me about her involvement in selecting the wood to be used to make the barrels in which her wines will age. Obviously, I’ve talked to winemakers who are particular about their barrels and have distinct opinions about their barrels with a preference for oak from a certain country, i.e. American oak vs. French oak vs. Hungarian oak. However, Elena and the Campo Viejo team take it even one step further by traveling to France each year to personally select the wood from certain forests which is then brought back to Spain and made into barrels by their coopers.

Campo Viejo’s barrel room

We had the opportunity to taste a number of samples of the same wine, aged in barrels made by the same cooper, but whose wood came from different forests in France. We also tasted samples of the same wine, aged in barrels whose wood came from the same forest, but was produced by different coopers. The differences were noticeable and remarkable. Elena has studied those differences and uses them to create the blend she wants in each of her wines.

Campo Viejo produces a broad product range including a number of Tempranillo-based red wines, Garnacha, two white wines, and Tempranillo Rosé as well as two sparkling wines.

In the coming weeks, I will be writing more about the Campo Viejo wines. And if you are planning a trip to Spain anytime soon (which I highly recommend), feel free to ask me any questions about the area in the comments below or via our Contact Us form. I’m happy to help if I can.

Salud!



Filed under: General Wine Information, Spanish Wine, Spotlight On, Tempranillo, Vineyards, Wine Travel
 

A Wine for Tonight: 2014 Ponzi Pinot Gris



By Kori ~ May 12th, 2015

2014 Ponzi Pinot Gris

Would you like a quick suggestion for a good wine to drink tonight (or this weekend) that won’t break your budget and is widely available? If so, you might want to check out the 2014 Ponzi Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

Our selection criteria include:

  • A very good Quality rating of >=3.5 stars (out of 5)
  • A price tag of <=$20
  • Must be widely available

Ponzi Vineyards, located in Sherwood, Oregon, has been one of Oregon’s most consistent Pinot Gris producers for over 30 years. Dick and Nancy Ponzi founded Ponzi Vineyards in 1970. They first produced Pinot Noir in 1974. Then, the Ponzi family began planting Pinot Gris, a varietal virtually unknown in the United States at the time in 1978. In 2012, sisters Luisa and Maria Ponzi took the reins from their parents as the winery’s owners and operators.

“This inviting nose has floral notes of meadow flowers, chamomile and rose hip entangled with brighter aromatics of tangerine, lychee, sweet mint and hints of vanilla and lemon cream throughout. The lively mouth and vibrant acidity are wrapped around hints of quince, kumquat, starfruit and orange zest balanced by a touch of sweetness.” –Winemaker Luisa Ponzi

2014 Ponzi Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley, Oregon): Pale straw yellow in color. Aromatic with lemon and floral notes on the nose. Citrus fruit, melon, and a touch of minerality come through on the palate. Dry and light-bodied with lively acidity and a long, refreshing finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $17; Available elsewhere, $17



Filed under: A Wine for Tonight, American Wine, Oregon Wine, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, White Wine, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25
 

Fielding Hills’ Best Wine Yet: 2009 Estate Barrel Select Syrah [Wow! Alert]



By Kori ~ April 30th, 2015

Fielding Hills Winery, a small, family-owned winery in Wenatchee, is one of the top wineries in Washington State. Owner/winemaker Mike Wade and his wife Karen are longtime apple and cherry growers who turned a middle portion of their orchard near Mattawa into a vineyard. Their RiverBend Vineyard, planted in 1998, is in the Wahluke Slope AVA and is their sole source of grapes. We have tasted their wines from their inaugural vintage in 2000 through their current 2011 vintage and continue to be impressed. They are so consistent; it is not a question of whether their wines will be good but where they will fall on the quality spectrum between “very good” and “Wow!”

Well, last weekend, we were “wow”-ed once again. In my opinion, the 2009 Fielding Hills Estate Barrel Select Syrah is the best wine that Mike Wade has ever made. Beginning with the 2009 vintage, Mike held back his best barrel of each variety to make, in essence, a reserve wine.

“One vineyard, one variety, one barrel, and one vintage. With pinpoint purity and razor-sharp exactness, the rich and full bodied character of this unique varietal is revealed. Enjoy the truth.” –Mike Wade, owner/winemaker

The bad news is that this wine is all sold out. However, I encourage you to keep an eye out for future releases from the Barrel Select program.

Last fall, Fielding Hills opened a beautiful new tasting room in Chelan and also moved their winery production facilities there. If you are ever in the Lake Chelan area, Fielding Hills is a stop you do not want to miss.

2009 Fielding Hills Estate Barrel Select Syrah (RiverBend Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, Washington): 100% Syrah. Dark, dense purple in color. Gorgeous nose with black cherry, blackberry, and earthy aromas. More blackberry, black cherry, and a velvety creaminess explodes on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity and smooth, silky tannins. Extremely well-balanced with amazing complexity and a very long, lingering finish. Wow!
Quality: 5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $60 [Sold out]



Filed under: American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Five-Star Quality Wines, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25
 

Chateau Ste. Michelle Delivers Serious Bang for Your Buck



By Kori ~ February 11th, 2015

Chateau Ste. Michelle is Washington State’s founding winery with its roots dating back to the repeal of Prohibition. In 1976, Ste. Michelle built a French-style chateau in Woodinville, just northeast of Seattle. While all of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s vineyards are located on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, all of their white wines are made in Woodinville. Their red wines are made at Canoe Ridge Estate in eastern Washington.

No matter where you live in the United States, you are probably familiar with the wines of Chateau Ste. Michelle, particularly their Columbia Valley line. While those wines enjoy national distribution, Chateau Ste. Michelle also produces a number of other reserve and limited release wines that are not as widely available.

We recently had the opportunity to taste a number of the current releases from Chateau Ste. Michelle, in a blind samples tasting. The seven wines featured here, five whites and two reds, are all very good and, most importantly, deliver serious bang for your buck. Six of these wines received a QPR rating of 4 or 5. When it comes to good quality at an excellent value, the Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley line is hard to beat.

And, for those of you who generally stay away from white wines in the middle of winter when it is cold and/or wet, I encourage you to “let it go”. Especially when paired with the right foods, these wines can be enjoyed year-round.

2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle Horse Heaven Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (Horse Heaven Vineyard, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington): 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Pale straw yellow. Aromatic with citrus, particularly orange, and floral notes on both the nose and palate. Dry and light-bodied with racy acidity and a long, refreshing finish. Food pairing suggestions: mussels, halibut, chicken, goat cheese.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $15; Available elsewhere, $11 to $19

2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle Harvest Select Sweet Riesling (Columbia Valley, Washington): 100% Riesling. Pale to medium, greenish straw yellow. Nice nose with apricot, peach, and a touch of honey aromas and flavors. Medium-sweet and medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a long finish. Food pairing suggestions: fresh fruit, crab, Asian dishes, mild cheeses. Residual Sugar: 4.3%
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $10; Available elsewhere, $7 to $12

2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling (Columbia Valley, Washington): 100% Riesling. Pale, greenish straw yellow. Very aromatic with apple, apricot, and melon on both the nose and palate. Off-dry and light-bodied with lively acidity and a medium to long finish. Food pairing suggestions: fresh fruit, crab, mild cheeses, chicken. Residual Sugar: 2.01%
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $10; Available elsewhere, $7 to $12

2012 Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot (Columbia Valley, Washington): 92% Merlot, 3% Syrah, and 5% blenders (Malbec, Grenache, Mourvedre and Petit Verdot). Deep, dark purplish red in color. Nice nose with black plum, black cherry, leather, and smoky aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied with lively acidity, smooth tannins, and a long finish. Food pairing suggestions: beef, lamb, grilled salmon, hearty pastas.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $15; Available elsewhere, $12 to $19

2012 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 4% Syrah, 2% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot, and 2% Mourvedre. Deep, dark purplish red. Beautiful nose with red and black fruit aromas and flavors as well as a touch of eucalyptus. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, silky tannins, and a long, smooth finish. Food pairing suggestions: beef, hearty pastas, dark chocolate, blue cheese.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $15; Available elsewhere, $12 to $16

2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle Gewurztraminer (Columbia Valley, Washington): 100% Gewurztraminer. Pale yellow in color. Aromatic with floral notes as well as green apple and citrus on both the nose and palate. Medium-sweet and light-bodied with lively acidity and a medium to long finish. Food pairing suggestions: crab, Asian dishes, chicken. Residual Sugar: 1.7%
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $10; Available elsewhere, $8 to $12

2013 Eroica Riesling [Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen] (Columbia Valley, Washington): 100% Riesling. Pale, greenish straw yellow. Beautiful nose with white peach and honeysuckle aromas. Granny Smith apple and floral notes come through on the palate. Off-dry and light to medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a long, refreshing finish. Food pairing suggestions: Asian dishes, Indian curries, crab, scallops. Residual Sugar: 1.55%
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $20; Available elsewhere, $14 to $26



Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Merlot, Red Wine, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wines Under $10, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25
 

Happy 7th Birthday to Wine Peeps!



By Kori ~ January 9th, 2015

Today marks seven years since we started sharing our wine adventures with you here on Wine Peeps. What an exciting seven years it has been! We have written 1,269 posts and tasted over 6,500 wines. We have had the pleasure to meet so many wonderful people in the wine industry as well as fellow wine enthusiasts. This past year, we welcomed the many opportunities we had to expand our palates and taste wines from all around the world through our tasting dinners, private tastings, samples tastings, trade tastings, and other events.

Thank you so much to all of our readers! We love wine and love sharing that passion with you through this blog. We are humbled that you care to read what we write. Here’s to another great wine-filled year together.

Cheers from your Wine Peeps,
Kori, John, Colby, and LaGayle



Filed under: Birthday
 

Happy New Year!



By Kori ~ January 1st, 2015

Happy New Year! Best wishes for a happy, healthy, prosperous, and wine-filled 2015!



Filed under: Holiday
 

Merry Christmas from your Wine Peeps



By Kori ~ December 25th, 2014

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’” (Luke 2:10-12)

Merry Christmas!



Filed under: Holiday