This is from the American sparkling wine outpost of Taittinger. Green gold in color with a nice mousse of very small bubbles. The nose has pears, slight lemons, toast and a hint of vanilla. Full bodied. Good acidity. On the palate, the pears with underlying char. Some lemon notes on the finish. Good finish. This is nice on its own and should be very food friendly. A great wine to share with popcorn when streaming a movie. Drink over the next three to five years.
This estate Pinot is a lively compilation of black cherry, strawberry, plum, blackberry compote, with back notes of rhubarb, huckleberry and black tea. The acidity drives the fruit. This is not a shy Pinot, but an overt celebration of expressive fruit. The wine spent 10 months aging in French oak, 33% of which was new, therefore the fruit is more dominant. Using a variety of Pinot Noir clones, winemaker Steve Rogstad, has decades of experience working with his vineyards, and knowing how best to use the excellent fruit that grows on their property. ORIGIN: Napa Valley, Los Carneros.
Light golden in color with some green hues. The nose is nice with slight tropical fruits, granny smith apples, and hay. Full bodied. On the palate, this has a nice crispness. Lemons, green apples and slight grassy note. Slightly oily texture. Nice finish. Overall, this is a nice California chardonnay that drinks well on its own and would be nice with chicken salad or other lighter meals. Drink over the next five years.
Green/gold in color, clear and bright. The nose is very tight and took some time to open. With air it shows butterscotch along with peach. Full bodied. On the palate, this has a hint of sweetness along with peach and slight lemons. Long finish. This needs a bit of air at the moment so maybe hold for a year and drink for five to eight years after that. Nice on its own, this would work well with Tuna steaks.
This is one of the best selling Chardonnays out there but does seems to be a love it or hate it wine. Count me as a fan. Green/gold in color, clear and bright. The nose has peach, apple and spices. Full bodied. On the palate, this has a bit of sweetness with tart grapefruits to balance it. Also some oak spices come thru. Pretty much a poster child for Napa Chard these days, but it did not seem overblown. Better on its own, though it should work well with fried foods. Drink over the next few years.
Yellow/green in color, clear and bright. The nose is nice with Meyer Lemons, slight peach and just a hint of oak. Medium bodied. On the palate, crisp acidity with lemon candy notes. It drinks easy but has some stuffing too. A bit different from the "typical" Napa Chardonnay. This is nice on its own and should be very food friendly with lighter foods but even poultry and seafoods. Drink over the next five years.
Cuvaison is best known for their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir but in 2012 they launched a sparkling program. Comprised of mainly Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay, this brut was made in the traditional Champagne method. Using Pinot Dijon clone 115 planted in 1998, winemaker Steve Rogstad says these 25-year-old vines bring a “precocious beauty” to the wine, and I have to agree. This is a delicate wine with minimal sweetness, using the grace of the Pinot and the acidity and light salinity of the Chardonnay to make a very balanced, almost shy wine.
The devil is in the details and with Cuviason’s Diablo Syrah, the details are key to an exceptional wine. Syrah often is mis-treated and most Syrahs on the market are fairly benign. But winemaker Steve Rogstad coaxes much out of these 21-year-old vines grown is less than optimal soils. A smooth viscosity leads to plum, huckleberry, black cherry, red currant, and light pomegranate notes, with back notes of young tobacco leaf and new leather. This is not a timid wine, but a sensuous one that is definitely meant to work with food, as it’s a little heavier on the alcohol.
Though Cuvaison is best known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, they have an impressive overall portfolio of wine that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Case in point, their 2019 Merlot is nothing short of outstanding. This is a medium bodied wine that drinks like a full-bodied wine with lots of swagger. Black cherry notes dominate along with plum, blackberry, light blueberry, cocoa powder and fresh sawed cedar wood. This is 100% Merlot and shows that with excellent fruit, you can make a Merlot that doesn’t need the addition of other grapes to make it better.
This wine has always been one of the outstanding performers in the Cuvaison portfolio and year after year is a wine that never ceases to impress. It is also one of those Chardonnays that makes you rethink Chardonnay because it is so beautifully balanced, so definitely handled, that it surpasses what most of us know about Chardonnay. Yes you’ll find light lemon-lime, green apple, kiwi, guava notes, but also viscosity and minerality. It also possesses a slight resin and stone fruit quality and maturity of fruit. That these vines are just 20 years old suggests there are great vintages ahead.