2017 Kalfu Kuda Pinot Noir ($19)
This Pinot Noir from Kalfu is from the Leyda Valley in Chile.
Leyda Valley is a sub-region of the San Antonio Valley wine region in Chile, just 55 miles west of the Chilean capital, Santiago. This region by the Pacific Ocean produces bright, vibrant wines made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Kalfu means ‘blue’ in the language of the Mapuche, the indigenous inhabitants of Chile, and for the Mapuche, Kalfu is synonymous with the magnificent Pacific Ocean that boarders Chile’s western coastline. A coastline blessed with an exceptional cool climate, constant refreshing breezes and early morning fogs that lead to a slow, steady ripening period for grapes, helping to create balanced, elegant wines.
This Kalfu Pinot Noir is pale ruby in color, has very soft and delicate aromas and bright red fruit flavors on the pallet. It finishes very easy with some notable acidity.
This 100% Pinot Noir is aged for 12 months in French oak with 10% in new barrels, 20% in second use barrels and the remaining 70% in third and fourth use barrels. This oak adds some wonder earthy character to the bright cherry, cranberry and raspberry flavors.
Kalfu winemaker, Alejandro Galaz, is an advocate for Chile’s cool climate wine regions. “From the vineyard to the bottle, producing cool climate wines can be challenging, but I enjoy a challenge – always striving to produce wines that are a sincere expression of elegance, distinction and subtlety of the grape varietal.”
I’m a huge fan of Pinot Noir and this one stands up well against the competition. And, at this price, it’s a perfect example of an attainable, affordable Behind the Cork™ wine of the week. You won’t be disappointed with this wonderful offering from Chile.
2017 Toad Hollow ‘Eye of the Toad’ Rosé of Pinot Noir ($12)
This is certainly the time of year when a cool, crisp and refreshing rosé is just perfect. And this Toad Hollow Rosé of Pinot Noir is a good one. This ‘Eye of the Toad‘ rosé is made from 100% Pinot Noir from Sonoma County.
Toad Hollow picks their grapes at lower sugar levels which results in their rosé being lower in alcohol (11.5%) and bright, mouth-watering acidity.
And, while this rosé has flavors of watermelon, strawberry and white peach, its sweet flavors are all from the fruit with very low sugar (0.18 Residual Sugar).
So, when you’re looking for a nice refreshing wine to enjoy on a hot day, look for this Toad Hollow. Like all Behind the Cork™ features, this wine is widely available and affordable. Cheers!
2016 Thomas Allen Generations Red Blend ($7)
This was a new one to me. I’d previously tried the Thomas Allen Cabernet Sauvignon, but wasn’t aware of their red blend.
Thomas Allen is owned and operated by third generation wine grape growers, Thomas Michael Stokes and Allen Lombardi, who grown their grapes in Lodi, CA.
This Thomas Allen Generations is a blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Tannat that makes for a very full-bodied wine. Bright fruit aromas and a hint of pepper hit your nose while its flavors include dark fruits, plum and sour cherry. The oak also gives this red blend nice vanilla and mocha flavors.
It’s an easy one on the palette, low tannin and a light finish.
This is yet another wine that fits the Behind the Cork™ mold being a great value that you should be able to easily find. Enjoy this one. Cheers!
2016 Pagos de Galir Mencía ($17)
This 100% Mencía (men-thee-uh) is from the Valdeorras region which is located on the eastern-most fringes of Galicia, in North-Western Spain.
It was cold macerated, went through malolactic conversion and aged in French and American oak barrels for six months.
This Mencía exhibits some herbal notes of mint along with the dark fruit aromas. On the palette its got black cherry and plum, some moderate acidity and tannin yet finishes with light notes.
This medium-bodied Mencía from Pagos de Galir is a wine that would pair as well with turkey or pork as it would with beef or lamb.
2017 Pagos de Galier Godello ($17)
This Pagos de Galier Godello is a product of the Valdeorras region of Spain which is located on the eastern-most fringes of Galicia, in North-Western Spain.
This 100% Godello is cold pressed and kept below 65 degrees F during fermentation. It then spends five months aging on lees.
On the nose it has nice tropical fruit, pear, melon and some floral hints. On the pallet it has nice apple and pear flavors and just a bit of honey with a smooth, creamy texture and a long finish that displays its wonderful, fresh, acidity (3.6 pH).
Godello is not a varietal that is seen as much in the U.S., but this is one to keep your eyes out for. It’s definitely one that you should experience. Serve it chilled and enjoy!
2017 Artezin Old Vine Zinfandel ($16)
This handcrafted Old Vine Zinfandel from winemaker Randle Johnson comes from northern California’s Mendocino County.
Johnson has been the man behind Artezin’s wines since their inception in 2002. The vision behind Artezin is to honor the art of crafting Zinfandel from old vine plantings and to work with family owned, sustainable farms throughout Mendocino and Sonoma Counties.
This Zinfandel is blended with 15% Petite Sirah to yield a wine with nice fruit and subtle pepper notes. It is 100% barrel aged in one to two year old French oak. This results in soft tannin, and an easy finish.
The Hess Family Wine Estates portfolio is comprised of The Hess Collection, Hess Select, Artezin, Lion’s Head Collection all of which are from California as well as Colomé and Amalaya from Argentina.
This Artezin Old Vine Zinfandel fits right in with the Behind the Cork™ featured wines that are affordable and attainable. Look for this this one in your favorite wine shop and enjoy! Cheers!
2018 Left Coast White Pinot Noir ($24)
I’ve been looking forward to trying a white Pinot Noir for some time. I’m a big fan of Pinot Noir but have never gotten an opportunity to try the white version.
This Left Coast White Pinot Noir is produced from 93% Pinot Noir and 7% Pinot Blanc. It is fermented and aged on lees in stainless steel to capture the true fruit flavors of the Pinot Noir grape.
Fruit flavor indeed! This white Pinot Noir has big bright fruit flavors with green apple being most prominent along with pear and honeydew melon and some minerality. The finish is long with good acidity.
I find it amazing that a grape that typically produces red wines with cherry, cranberry and raspberry fruit flavors can be so entirely different when done in a white-wine style. It really demonstrates that including those grape skins along with the seeds and stems in the wine making process can make a completely different wine.
As they state, “What began in 2011 as a small experimental wine quickly blossomed into one of Left Coast’s most unique and popular wines.” I’m really glad I finally got to try this white Pinot Noir and experience the ‘other side’ of Pinot. You’ll enjoy this one too. Look for it and give it try! Cheers!
2017 Left Coast Queen Bee Bubbly ($36)
This bubbly from Left Coast Estate winery is 100% Pinot Noir but it gets its name from the fact that it uses their own estate honey to feed on the encapsulated yeast at the bottom of each bottle. Thus, producing the bubbles right in the bottle!
This Queen Bee Bubbly is 12% ABV so its got a hint of sweetness to go along with the nice Pinot Noir fruit flavors. The short amount of time that the skins are left in contact with this wine give it the nice salmon-orange color.
This Left Coast Queen Bee Bubbly is first fermented in 100% French oak and then aged 10 months.
But, unlike a varietal Pinot Noir, the initial limited skin contact results in this bubbly having bright fruit flavors along with crisp acidity.
This was my first sparkling Pinot Noir and it won’t be my last. It’s delicious and refreshing whether being enjoyed for a special celebration, with brunch, hor d’oeuvres or any other light fare. Cheers!
2018 Left Coast Estate Rosé ($24)
Left Coast Cellars produces a bunch of nice wines from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. And, this Rosé is another fine example.
This blend of 76% Pinot Noir and 24% Pinot Meunier is fermented and aged in 100% neutral French Oak. The six month of neutral oak aging softens this rosé into a very delicate offering.
The Left Coast Rosé has light distinct aromas of rose pedals, white cherry and some interesting herbal and wood notes. On the palate, there are delicate fruit notes, low acidity and a creamy smoothness.
If you’ve been turned-off in the past by rosés that are like drinking fruity soda pop or pink lemonade, this rosé from Left Coast Cellars is one you should try. At 13.7% alcohol it’s completely dry (no residual sugar) and the red fruit flavors of the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (two of the primary grapes in the production of French Champagne) just peek through for some very nice delicate flavors.
As the weather warms up, rosé is always a perfect choice. Give this one a try with fresh feta or chévre cheeses that really accentuate the creamy character of this Left Coast Estate Rosé. Cheers!
Tió Pepe Fino Sherry ($20)
Tió Pepe’s Fino Sherry is from the city of Jarez in southern Spain's Andalusia region.
It’s made from the Palomino grape, fermented to the 11-12% ABV range, fortified to 15.5% and then enters the Tió Pepe Solera. While it spends four years in the Solera, a layer of yeast, known as the ‘flor’ forms on the surface of the Sherry within the cask. This protects the Sherry from oxygen and gives Tió Pepe it’s unique aroma and character.
The aroma is notable for its yeast along with notes of toasted almond. This Sherry is a pale golden yellow in color and light in flavor (hence Fino). It’s completely dry and, when served very chilled, makes for a wonderful aperitif.
Sherry can also be used to make cocktails. And, Javier Ortega Diaz of Las Vegas NV recently used this Sherry to make the ‘Sophia’ cocktail that won the U.S. Tió Pepe Challenge in New York City and moved him on to the recent International Tió Pepe Challenge Final in Jerez.
The award winning ‘Sophia’ cocktail included 2 oz Tió Pepe Fino Sherry, 3/4 oz Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, 1/2 oz Fresh lime juice, 1/2 oz homemade kumquat, rosemary & thyme syrup and 1 oz homemade sparkling hibiscus water and is served over ice. Sounds amazing!
So, whether you enjoy Sherry straight up or mixed in a cocktail, try this one from Tió Pepe. It’s quite nice. Cheers!