Tag Archives: Wine review

An Evening With Winemaker Stephanie Cook and Wonderment Wines

This is the story of an evening with Stephanie Cook and Wonderment Wines.

Sharing gourmet food and great wines with a beautiful talented winemaker is a hard life…

But someone has to do it!

Stephanie Cook of Wonderment Wines
One of the most exciting things I get the opportunity to do on occasion is meet Winemakers in person. I enjoy as they share their passion with me  on how and why they make this beautiful nectar of the gods called wine. I enjoy this, well… mostly because I am a wine geek deep down inside.  I love talking wine, and I get to pick their minds about their theory and process of making wine. Mostly I admire them greatly for doing what I secretly would love to do myself; grow grapes and make wine. However most meetings with Winemakers and producers of wine are short and to the point. Rarely do I get to spend time with them and get to know what really makes them who they are.
And then there are exceptional evenings like this!

About 6 weeks before this fun evening my good friend Samuel  shared a bottle of  Wonderment Bacigalupi Vineyard Petite Sirah, and quite frankly… It blew me away.

Samuel Rickords has a Wine Distributorship based in Dallas by the name of Redoux Wine. He specializes in boutique wines from small talented producers. He is also a member of the wine group I started many years back called the Dallas Wineaux. I had asked him to let me know if the Winemaker for Wonderment was ever in the Dallas  area. So, ever the idea man, Samuel put together a tasting menu at Jaspers Gourmet Backyard Cuisine in Richardson, TX and arranged for Stephanie Cook to fly in to join several of us from the Dallas Wineaux group.

Jaspers Richardson. Photo by Swan Photography

First let me start by saying Jaspers Richardson is brand new, state of the art, high tech, and absolutely beautiful. You can see and read more on Jaspers Richardson and the location by clicking here! Most of the restaurant is bar area, with high top seating and upscale area that would be perfect for a small groups of 4-8. It sure makes me want to grab the Dallas Wineaux group and head to Happy Hour. The Chef Evan Tanner had a terrific spread of appetizers, charcuterie, and small plates to nibble on. Everything was scrumptious.  And I assure you we will be back to Jaspers soon!

Gourmet plates courtesy of Jaspers Richardson!
Dallas Wineaux Wine Group At Jaspers Richardson

I had done a little research on Wonderment Wines and about Stephanie Cook beforehand.  So I had an idea she was a beautiful woman. But when she walked in you understand immediately she is even more lovely than her pictures. Her beautiful smile and stunning looks are dramatic. But after a few moments you realize she is also very intelligent, talented, extremely gracious, and very engaging. And her passion for Wonderment Wines is evident immediately.

After a quick meet and greet with the other Dallas Wineaux including Kelly Nolan of www.winedowndallas.com and Lori Sullivan of www.loristwistedcork.com Stephanie started pouring her wines and telling her story.

Talking wine with Stephanie Cook! Photo by Swan Photography

Stephanie is a very driven woman and is not one to take no for an answer. I loved as she told fascinating stories of traveling the world as a Fashion Model in Milan, London, and more. Then going back to school where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University. Soon after turning her sights to winemaking. She literally informed Bob Biale of Robert Biale Vineyards that she was coming to work for him and furthermore, he was going to teach her how to make wine! After stints at Spottswood and in New Zealand for Spy Valley Wines and then at Staglin Family Vineyards she felt like she was ready to make her mark in the glorious world of winemaking.

The rest as they say is history… or as she likes to say a “balancing act!”

Balance and terroir is the key to everything Stephanie does when it pertains to wine. She makes 7 wines, and about 1500 cases per year total.

She insists on getting only the best fruit available from premium sites, and so every wine she makes is a “vineyard designate”. So…No Blending!

Wonderment Wines. Photo by Swan Photography

Any real wine enthusiast will recognize these incredible vineyards that Stephanie is sourcing her fruit: Oak Knoll, Dutton-Campbell, Dr. Stan’s, Bacigalupi, Rockpile, and Burton Ranch just to name the few that she brought for tasting!

Tasting Notes from Wonderment Wines at Jaspers Richardson. Photo by Swan Photography

Tasting Notes:

2015 Oak Knoll Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Stainless steel fermented. Floral on the nose with a citrusy lemon, grass, Asian pear, and a terrific saline quality. Floral, grapefruit, and saline/stone  finish. I like this wine, and I really need a few bottles for this summer at the pool!

2013 Dutton-Campbell Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Very juicy fruit forward style from Green Valley AVA. Floral notes and black cherry dominate the nose.  Supple silky tannins. Black cherry, strawberry, cranberry, current, with touch of oak  and spice. This is a very sexy and sensual  style of Pinot Noir. Trust me when I say “you will like it”.

2013 Dr Stan’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Carneros. Dr. Stan’s Vineyard only has 1-1/2 acres of Dijon Clone 115 that was grown primarily for a certain well known sparkling wine producer (I promised not to tell for whom). Translucent in the glass, but definite tannins give a good to great structure.  Juicy bing cherry and slight cola on the palate turn to mushroom and earth. This earth & mushroom character gives the wine somewhat a Burgundian feel that I was not expecting. Very nice wine!

2013 Bacigalupi Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel Russian River come from 40-50 year old vines. It is a “Feminine Zin” if you can have such a thing, in that it is very floral  zinfandel (Lilac). Integrated silky tannins, incredible acidity. Red & black fruits such as black cherry, strawberry, blackberry,and slight white pepper with a LONG finish. Outstanding.

2012 Rockpile Zinfandel was more of what most people would think of when you think Sonoma Zin, but it has a very restrained edge. Very balanced with black cherry, cola, and a long spicy finish that goes for days. Impressive.

2013 Burton Ranch Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel Lake County. This is a BIG wine, but plenty of finesse as well. Truly “old vine” from plantings from Lake County dating back to 1890’s.  Tannins are evident in this young wine so plenty of structure and a real aging potential in my opinion. Sweet cherry compote, Asian spices and white pepper. Classic Zinfandel in every way except only 14.5% alc (most big zins are closer to 16% alc). If you are a Sonoma Zinfandel fanatic this Old Vine Zin fits the bill!

2011 Bacigalupi Vineyards Petite Sirah Russian River Valley This was my favorite. I am a sucker for a great Pitite Sirah, and this one hits all the marks from the nose to the long finish! Deep Dark Devilish of a red wine that isn’t for wanmby pambies! Full bodied with black fruits and a spicy finish that just keeps going and going in your mouth long after you have swallowed. Absolutely stunning wine from start to finish!

Across the board these wines from Wonderment are very good to outstanding. It is exciting to think what the wines from Wonderment will be when Stephanie has decades of vintages behind her.

You can find Wonderment Wines in select restaurants and order direct here. They are very fairly priced, especially considering the quality of the wines and across the board ‘Vineyard Desinate” only wines.

Pictures of the event are all courtesy of Asher Swan and Swan Photography.  If you would like to contact him click here or call him at 707-217-4381.

Wonderment Wines. Photo courtesy of Swan Photography

Wonderment Wines Mission Statement

“Wonderment Wines represent intelligent effort, value and balance which create a sense of ‘Wonder’. Our wines are focused on specific terroir where each wine represents the vineyards distinctive style and expression. Thru artisanal methods and minimal intervention in both the vineyard and the cellar along with a focus on environmental and social consciousness we look forward to providing each customer no less than exactly what they desire.”

Every Wonderment cork has a great message! Photo by Swan Photography

Go to her web sight and buy her wines. And tell her the Texas Wineaux sent you!

 

Savour South Australia Wines

Savour South Australia Wines: Old Vines, Classic Wines, Family Lines made it’s way through Dallas, Texas this last week. I was luck enough to be invited to attend the Seminar in Downtown Dallas located at Café Momentum.

Savour South Australia Seminar!
Savour South Australia Seminar!

About the time I think I actually know a lot about wine, I quickly realize there is an immense amount of information about the wonders of wine and the production of grapes that I have yet to learn. This is why I have such a passion for the grape;  just as many of you reading this now do as well. It is a never ending journey discovery and love for this thing called wine.  So when I get invited, I feel very fortunate to get to attend these types of seminars. I always learn so much, and is very humbling at the same time, and I start my journey of discovery all over again.

Savour South Australia Wines Seminar was no exception!

Savour South Australia Lineup. A great way to start Lunch on a Tuesday!
Savour South Australia Lineup. A great way to start Lunch on a Tuesday!

Australia’s wine story is long and storied.  The South Australian wine story is even more exciting and historic.

I discovered some of the oldest living grape vines in the world are in Australia!

The Barossa and McLaren Vale Regions of South Australia are the only one of the world-famous viticultural area in the world NOT to have been ravaged by Phylloxera. Therefore it remains home to some of the oldest continually producing vineyards in the world.

The first Colony  was founded in 1836 in Australia, with McLaren Vale area founded by John McLaren 2 years afterward. The first grape vines were planted at this time in 1838 by John Reynell and Thomas Hardy. Soon the Seaview Winery and Hardy Winery were in operation by 1850!

The Barossa was settled in 1842 with some of the first European Settlers. First came the British as farmers and landowners, and then the Lutheran German speaking Silesian farmers and craftsmen, who brought also brought in the grapevines to the Barossa, and the rest is history!

Wine Regions of Australia
Wine Regions of Australia

The State of South Australia is one of 6 total and 2 Territories. To get an idea of the size, the State of South Australia is 1.4% bigger than the size of the State of Texas. With a population however of only 1.3 million, or about the population of Dallas, Texas alone. Most of these residents live in the City of Adelaide.

Map of South Australia
Map of South Australia

The cool winds blow from West to East across South Australia coming from the Antarctica, so even though the summer temperatures can be very warm, the cool winds are ideal for cooling the grapes at night and keeping humidity from being much of an issue in viticulture. Cool wet winters and warm, dry summers are ideal for grape growing.

Temperatures are only slightly warmer than that of the Bordeaux region of France in the Barossa Valley. The makes for lush wines more similar to the Napa Valley in California. Riesling, Semillon, Chardonnay are the favored white wines for Barossa, but you will also find Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz (Syrah), and Mataro (Mourvedre) are king here. In fact some of the oldest Grenache vines in the world are still thriving today, dating back to 1848, and 1843 for gnarly old Shiraz grapevines!

Barossa

The Eden Valley depends on the higher altitude and the slope of the hills, as well as the more shallow and rocky soils to produce more acidic wines such as world class Riesling!

McLaren Vale is located about 40 minutes south of the capitol of South Australia, Adelaide. The climate is Mediterranean and characterized by warm summers, moderate winters dominated by rainfall, low relative humidity, and relatively high evaporation. The climate can be very diverse between the Gulf of St Vincent to the south and Mt. Lofty to the north. This climatic diversity helped producers embrace Spanish and Italian varieties such as Barbera, Fiano, Tempranillo, Mouvedre, and Moscato, as well as re-emerging varieties such as Viognier, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and Verdelho. Having said that the Key Varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, and the crown jewel of McLaren Vale; Shiraz!

We tasted through the 12 wines listed below, and each were very different, yet very reminiscent of the “Aussie Styles” that I have been familiar with from top quality wines I have been accustomed too in the past.

Savour South Australia Wine Seminar
Savour South Australia Wine Seminar

The intense Grenache, Mouvedre, and GSM (Grenache, Shiraz, Mouvedre) can be very tannic when young, but the aging potential is outstanding. The young wines tend to be full bodied, lush ripe & rich dark fruits, chocolate, licorice, and complex. The Aged Wines lend more to mocha, earthy, prune, savory meats, cigar box.

The 2010 Cirillo Estate 1850 Grenache was produced from Grenache vines dating back to 1850. Bright Cherry, intense and seductive palate.

My favorites were the Shiraz’s (6-9 on list above). The Dark fruits such as blackberry, blackcurrant, and plum dominate with floral qualities, and long finishes. Aging potential should be outstanding. I would love to taste through these Shiraz again in 20 years just to see how it has evolved.

My absolute favorite was the 2010 Angove The Medhyk Shiraz. The fruit was hand-picked with only the best, then hand selected with only the best barrels to insure the absolute best the winery can offer! This is a wine I will be looking to add to my collection.

Another favorite of the day was the 2006 Elderton Ode de Lorraine Barossa Valley. This is a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Shiraz, and 12% Merlot. This was a very lush wine with black and red fruits, current, vanilla, and fresh leather. Still plenty of tannin structure remaining  after 10 years in bottle, really shows how well this wine was structured. I will be looking for this bottle as well!

Elderton Ode To Lorraine
Elderton Ode To Lorraine

Most unusual wine of the year for me? The 2012 Shingleback Black Bubbles McLaren Vale! This is a SPARKLING SHIRAZ made in the “Methode Traditionelle” of the Champagne Region of France with the secondary fermentation in-bottle! Yes you read right… A sparkling red wine! I understand in McLaren Vale Region it is traditional to open a sparkling shiraz at Christmas Dinner. I was amazed and cannot wait to find more here in Texas. The body of a red wine with the cleansing palate of a sparkling wine would be perfect for a spicy Chinese dish including Peking Duck.

As I said I learned so much, and I got to spend time with my Dallas Wineauxs Wine Group I started a few years ago, so a fun time was had by all.

I have gotten a new-found respect and admiration for the Wines of South Australia!

So next time you are out looking for a terrific high quality wine remember the Wines of South Australia!

Thank you for reading my ramblings and thoughts. Please leave a comment of any kind, I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, or anything relating to the Wines of South Australia and any other article included.

Terry Hill is the Texas Wineaux!

’10 Dylan’s Ghost “The Beast”

Dylan’s Ghost Wines

Dylan's Ghost Wines
Dylan’s Ghost Wines

I am revisiting a tasting and review of Dylan’s Ghost wines from June of 2014. Joseph Carr is the producer and the Winemaker is Aaron Potts. Aaron was named Winemaker of the Year for Napa Valley in 2012. Pretty great resume if you know wine and the incredible folks that make this nectar of the gods!

“I hold a beast, an angel and a madman in me… and my effort is their self-expression.” -Dylan Thomas-

I am a big fan of Joseph Carr, and he has an exciting portfolio of wines from easy to drink Rose’ to big bold reds that really get your attention. I am an even bigger fan of Aaron Potts.

Aaron Potts has worked with the true legends in Bordeaux including Michael Rolland. He was Winemaker for Château Troplong Mondot and Château La Tour Figeac Grand Cru Classé St. Emilion. In 2001 he returned to Napa to become the Winemaker at St. Clement and later in 2004 as GM and Winemaker at Quintessa. I love his thoughts on winemaking;

“I think I’m looking for what existed in Napa before the late ’90s,” he says. “All these artificially concentrated, superfruity wines are a bit boring. I’ve tasted so many great, older Napa wines, and I always wonder, why aren’t we making these wines anymore?” -Aaron Potts-

2010 Dylan’s Ghost Stags Leap Vineyard

“THE BEAST”

2010 The Beast from Joseph Carr
’10 The Beast from Joseph Carr

This is a deep dark and brooding wine in the glass. In fact it is bordering on inky, most likely because of content of Petit Sirah. The blend is 1/3 each of Cab Franc, Merlot, and Petit Sirah.

The Beast is a BIG WINE, so if you are looking for an easy to drink pinot noir this is not your wine!

Aromas of sweet raspberry, plum, vanilla, mushroom, bacon, and hints of cinnamon.

The Beast is a full body red wine with immediate notes of rich plum and blackberry, rolling into black fruits and raspberry. The flavors seem to change again as I swish it back and forth in my mouth, with flavors evolving into a long finish of crisp apple-smoked bacon and raw cinnamon that go on and on after swallowing.

Med heavy tannins that will mellow in the coming years.

Though lacking somewhat in acidity, it is still a real quality wine that I feel will improve with 2-5 years in bottle, and should age well in the next 10-15. In fact, I wish I had another bottle to compare notes in 10-12 years.

This wine would match perfect with Grilled red meats such as Pork Chops, Steak, Smoked Brisket, or especially Pulled Pork!

The Beast retails for around $48 and can be found at Wine Seacher here

NOTE: Check out my review of the Hell Hollow and the incredible Rose’ Angel from older post dated June 2014.

Thank you for following and reading the ramblings of the Texas Wineaux!

I would love to hear your comments!

 

Dylan’s Ghost Wines

“I hold a beast, an angel and a madman in me…
and my effort is their self-expression.”
-Dylan Thomas-

Dylan's Ghost Wines
Dylan’s Ghost Wines

I haven’t been this excited about a wine shipment in some time as when I got the notification the Dylan’s Ghost shipment was FINNALY being shipped!

I have known about the winemaker Aaron Potts for many years. In fact he was recently named one of Food & Wines “Winemakers of the Year for 2012”.

When I read that Joseph Carr was producing a few cases of very select wines in the Staggs Leap District in Napa Valley with Aaron, I had to check it out! Joseph started this project 3-years ago, and Dylan’s Ghost Winery has recently released it’s first wines in very small lots.

Aaron Potts has worked with the true legends in Bordeaux including Michael Rolland. He was Winemaker for Château Troplong Mondot and Château La Tour Figeac Grand Cru Classé St. Emilion. In 2001 he returned to Napa to become the Winemaker at St. Clement and later in 2004 as GM and Winemaker at Quintessa. I love his thoughts on winemaking;

“I think I’m looking for what existed in Napa before the late ’90s,” he says. “All these artificially concentrated, superfruity wines are a bit boring. I’ve tasted so many great, older Napa wines, and I always wonder, why aren’t we making these wines anymore?”

Dylan’s Ghost “Angel”
Rosé  Napa Valley 2013

Dylans Ghost Angel

  • Cuvee: 100% Cabernet Franc
  • Appellation: Napa Valley; Oak Knoll District, with clay soils underlaid by gravel
  • Wine Facts:
    Alco-hol: 13.3%
• TA: 0.66 g/100ml
• pH: 3.33. Bottling Date: January 24, 2013

  • Production: 200 cases

Beautiful bright Salmon Pink in the glass. The  nose of fresh strawberry and floral are the first to jump from the glass. First impression is this will be a slightly sweet Rosé, but NOTHING could be farther from the truth. You understand this immedeatly upon the first sip and swirl in your mouth; this is no wimpy Cali Rosé!

This is a bone dry, acidic, even slightly tannic wine very reminiscent of the Rosé of Tavel, France!

Rose in glass
Rose in glass

Notes of Strawberry, watermelon, spices (cloves?), and minerals dominate. This wine coats your mouth and lingers on long after you have swallowed, making you quickly glance to the glass to make sure there is more to enjoy. This is a perfect wine for the hot weather in Texas. And, as this wine reminds me so much of the Tavel Rosé, it should be very food friendly! BBQ’s, Picnics, or simply sitting on the patio is perfect.

These wine s retail (while it lasts) for $25 for the Angel and $50 each for the Hell Hollow and The Beast This is a steal at that price! Go to:  dylansghostwinery.com for more details. These wine s will NOT be available in stores.

2010 Hell Hollow

Deep Crimson in the glass. Blackberry, Black Cherry,  Hibiscus, cedar, plus a slight old leather & olive on the nose.

Full bodied with medium tannins  after an 1:45 decant. This bottle will benefit from a year or two on its side. In fact, I bet this wine will age effortlessly for 10-15 years. Acidity is damn near perfect.

The palate boasts black fruits, vanilla,  nutmeg, floral, and a spicy black pepper that lingers on and on after you swallow. This is a quality wine.

60% Cabernet Sauvignon with 40% Cabernet Franc. The rustic nature of the Stags Leap / Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon is mellowed and refined by the Cab Franc nicely.

Terry Hill is the Texas Wineaux