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- n144mann - 03-13-1999 10:54 AM

Hello Guys, I have the opportunity to taste a few wines and wanted to know if any of you can give me a little more info about the wines,winemakers, consistancy,etc. Our local shop has an informal tasting on the weekends, and this weekend the wines include two from Quivira. Their Zinfandel '96,Quivera Dry Creek Cuvee '95, Also, Zaca Mesa Chardonnay'97, Zaca Mesa Syrah '96 and a Nautilus SB '98 from New Zealand. All retail between $11 and $21. I have basic descriptions of the wines themselves, and a few reviews from RP etc. wanted more background/past performance type info.
Your help is always appreciated.
Nancy

[This message has been edited by n144mann (edited 03-13-99).]


- Jerry D Mead - 03-13-1999 03:50 PM

Quivira has a strong track record for Zin, and it's in the style I prefer...the claret style as opposed to the big overripe, jammy, pruney, high-alcohol style that's in vogue at the moment. As I recall, it sees French oak (a little unusual for Zin...most wineries use American, comes from Dry Creek Valley (best place on the planet to grow Zin). So this one should be a winner.

I have less experience with the Cuvee...but it has always been a better than average Cab blend.

Zaca Mesa has been around for a long time...and the winemaking has generally been better than the marketing. I haven't had one of their Chards in years, but the ZC Syrah often kicks butt...Santa Barbara/Santa Maria/Santa Ynez seems to be a good place for that grape. I'm betting on it being the better of the two.

I haven't had the Nautilus...but NZ SBs in general are very stylistic (they talk about gooseberries, but I haven't the slightest idea what a gooseberry tastes like)they do have their own pleasantly agressive herbaceousness...kind of a minty grassiness, with lemon grass and grapefruit and often a little not-unpleasant "cat pee" quality. I know it sounds awful, but it's adjective that gets used in the trade a lot, and once you associate what's being talked about when the term is used you'll find it very descriptive.

JDM


- n144mann - 03-13-1999 05:36 PM

Thanks for the info WC.


- Jason - 03-14-1999 01:09 AM

Quivira DC Cuvee is a Rhone style blend.Grenache, Mouvedre and Syrah.


- Jerry D Mead - 03-14-1999 06:21 AM

Re the Cuvee...forgive me...lost my head...must have been thinking of Cain Cuvee

JDM


- Kcwhippet - 03-14-1999 08:55 PM

The Nautilus SB is one of my favorites. It has a bit more grapefruit than most of the others, but I like that style. Enjoy.

Bob


- n144mann - 03-14-1999 09:29 PM

Hey guys, thanks for the info. Went to the tasting, all the wines were quite good, no real stinkers in the bunch. Favorites were the Quivera wines, both quite good, and the SB was close behind, IMHO better of the two whites! The cuvee had the grapes listed above by Jason, plus a little zin. Pretty nice wine. The syrah was as you expected WC, good, and the better of the two from ZM. ZM chard was fruity, with a little viognier added, 2% I think, actually nice for a change from other Cal chards. [Image: smile.gif] Will be more descriptive when I get better at it, still learning!



[This message has been edited by n144mann (edited 03-14-99).]


- Randy Caparoso - 03-24-1999 06:58 PM

Hey, Nancy -- want a few extra choices to consider? Re:

The original winemaker for Quivira was Doug Nalle, who's gone on to do his own Zins under the Nalle label. While Grady, the current Quivira dude (I believe), has carried on the tradition, I have to confess that I like the Nalle label Zins better. I believe Doug has a special touch with Dry Creek Valley fruit; and producing Zin that is as lush and buoyantly fresh, yet elegantly, finely textured, is a feat difficult to duplicate (it's almost an intuitive matter of knowing how to tend them, and the exact moment when old Dry Creek vines need to be picked). So if you see a Nalle Zin, try it and you'll discover what the original Quivira style was like.

Other vintners who have that rare ability to make a more elegant style of Zin (in other words, who seem to resist the compulsion to make them into huge, thick monsters) in the tradition of people like Nalle and Louis Martini: Lolonis, the Francis Coppola Family's Edizione Pennino label, Makor (done in Santa Barbara's Au Bon Climat compound), and Robert Sinskey (his low priced "Adventures of Zinskey" is a wonderfully smooth, yet zesty fruit bomb).

Moving on -- if you like white varietal bottlings with fragrant touches of Viognier, I advise you to look into the Kunde Sauvignon Blanc (very fresh and fragrant), Iron Horse Fume Blanc (bigger, more perfumey nose), Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc (creamy, silky smooth and lush), the Francis Coppola Family Chardonnay (quite big, with just light vanillin oak shadings), and the Beringer Alluvium Blanc (an exotic, smooth, medium-full blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chard, and of course, Viognier). There are more, but I like these best.

Finally, re NZ SBs: To me, the "cat pee" and cut green bellpepper aromatics tend to get out of hand in this country's style. Only so much anyone can take. However, they are almost always laudable in, say, fresh oytser/cracked crab contexts. Wonderful, zesty, crisp acid qualities without being overly sharp and green. In my experience, both Nautilus and Morton makes a richer, creamier, more voluminous style of NZ SB; sort of like the Cloudy Bay, but much more reasonably priced. At the opposite end of the scale, the Giesen SB from Marlborough is more minerally, lemony, just light-medium weight on the palate, and subtly grassy; not to mention very reasonably priced ($11-$13). The most recent hit in the U.S., however, has to be the Villa Maria "Private Reserve," which is creamy smooth, also very subtle in grassy/weedy/peppery qualities, fresh, and finely balanced on the palate. Almost irresistable. If you find the Villa Maria, trust me -- you can't go wrong.

Good luck on your shopping for your oak-intolerant husband and yourself!


- n144mann - 03-26-1999 10:05 AM

Thanks Randy. Will write down the names and keep my eyes open while I am shopping. As for shopping for my hubbie, he is a challenge indeed!

I am going to try and make it to the tasting tomorrow.( at our retailers) Some of the wines being offered that I am not overly familiar with are Perrin Reserve Rouge '96 and Reserve Blanc '97. A Martin Vouvray '97 and a Capezzana Chianti Montalbano '96. Also have a Spanish red.....Conde de Valdemar Crianza'95. I am going to do some research on these before I go.....any info or opinions any of you would like to offer is appreciated.

[This message has been edited by n144mann (edited 03-26-99).]


- Kcwhippet - 03-26-1999 01:15 PM

Nancy,

We've had the Conde de Valdemar on a few occasions, and we have found it to be a generally agreeable Spanish red, though we haven't had the 95. It's always been a smooth, easy to drink wine - no real rough edges. If I recall, it was quite inexpensive, as well. In fact, I think I'll probably pick some up this weekend.

Bob


- n144mann - 03-26-1999 01:32 PM

Hi Bob!! Thanks for the info!! Cheers!
Nancy


- Randy Caparoso - 03-27-1999 05:45 AM

Nancy, I agree that you just can't go wrong with the Conde de Valdemar for around $7-$8. Year after year, a genuine value -- simple, but soft, a little earthy, satisfying. There's a good Central American style restaurant in Eugene, OR (Cafe Navarro) where it is always my wine of choice -- the wine's earthy tones go great with the earthy flavors of the food.

I wish I could say something about the Martin Vouvray; except if it's demi-sec, it's slightly sweet (2%3% residual sugar), and if it's sec it's pretty much dry (less than 1%) but a little tart (since even in good years, Vouvrays can't hold down their acidity too well). So you should make your food adjustments according to that (i.e. use lively vinaigrettes, as in antipasto's and fruit/nut salads, to balance sec styles, and creamy or slightly sweet reductions with demi-sec style Vouvrays). Personally, I consider the most reliable Vouvrays to be those by Clos du Bourg (labeled "Le Haut Liu", and truly the most refined), Champalou (a house with an intense, minerally, lively style), and the ubiquitous (but decent) Chateau Moncontour.

Regarding the Perrin's -- wish I could strongly recommend them. But I find them to be rather weak, almost unpleasant. Cast-off cuvees, if you want my opinion. Here's an inside scoop: look for the new red wines (haven't tried the whites yet) from the Perrin project in Paso Robles called Tablas Hills. The '95 Tablas "Cuvee Rouge" is a soft, plush, highly drinkable blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre; for around $14-$15!

Finally, Villa di Capezzana -- a house that truly brings a smile to my face. Few Tuscan estates are as consistent across the board -- even those from the more famous Chianti Classico region. In other words, if you drink Capezzana, I would stick to those of the Carmignano (as opposed to Chianti) district, which is made up of slightly warmer lower riding hillsides that give the Sangiovese grape a warmer, fuzzier texture, and make them nearly perfect for blending with 8%-20% Cabernet Sauvignon (which has been the custom in Carmignano long before the advent of "Super Tuscans").

Some recent notes:

1996 Villa di Capezzana, Carmignano ($15-$18) - lush cherry with minty herb and smoky leaf in the nose; suave, round feel supported by soft, moderate tannin.

1995 Villa di Capezzana, Carmignano Riserva ($23-$26) - Deeper, more intense red cherry Sangiovese nose; muscular, medium-full feel and tannin, yet nicely rounded in the finish.

1997 Capezzana, "Barco Reale di Carmignano" ($9-$12) - A real steal, with sweet red cherry fragrance tinged by light leathery qualities; easy, medium body; has less fruit intensity than the two previous wines, but has gentle, satisfying, glove leathery flavors.

1995 Capezzana, "Ghiae della Furba" ($38-$45) - This is not a Sangiovese based wine, but their 40% Cabernet Sauvignon/30% Cabernet Franc/30% Merlot version of a "Super Tuscan." But unlike most wine of this genre, Capezzana's house style makes it elegant, round and plush. Yet it's plenty powerful -- luscious, concentrated black cherry aroma with suede leather nuances; gripping, slightly chewey full body and tannin; smoky (cigar-ish) and succculent in the finish. Big bucks, but quite an experience!

Enough? Hope so.


- n144mann - 03-27-1999 08:57 AM

Thanks guys!! Randy your info is very helpful!! Well it sounds like there will be some interesting tasting, and I am glad you are comfortable saying some of them stink....that is what I like to hear. (esp when it is a type of wine I am not familiar with) I don't completely trust the guy who handles the tastings, even tho I trust the manager of the store, the tasting guy and I have had our problems in the past. I guess it is his job to put the best spin on whatever he is showing. Anyway, I find it helpful to know as much as I can about the wines before I go. Thanks again!
Nancy

[This message has been edited by n144mann (edited 03-27-99).]


- n144mann - 03-27-1999 03:38 PM

Randy, thanks for the info. Went to the tasing and came home with the Capezzano Barco Reale di Carmignano. Really liked it. They were not offering it at the tasting, but got Doug to open a bottle of the Barco Reale for me. We were so generous, we even shared it with the others who were there.

Also asked him to open a Bonny Doon Rousanne '97, but he told me not to push my luck. [Image: smile.gif] The way he said it, had the idea if it hadn't been so busy might have gotten him to do it. Maybe next time.....??

Bob, also liked the Conde de Valdemar! And picked up the Nautilus SB which I fought off last time. This time it just leaped into my basket and there was no getting it out. [Image: smile.gif]





[This message has been edited by n144mann (edited 03-27-99).]


- Randy Caparoso - 03-27-1999 11:07 PM

Well, Nancy, now I can't resist relating some inside info on the Bonny Doon Roussanne. The '97 is a big one, alright -- last fall showing honeyed, dripping apricot pit and floral intensities, but finishing slightly rough and alcoholic. Would definitely need substantial food (roasted chicken, squab, or freshly herbed pork loins) to absorb the size. It was Grahm's second picking from seven year old vines, and so subsequent vintages will be even better. Am I overkilling you with info? If you'd rather I'd let you be surprised, please let me know.


- n144mann - 03-28-1999 08:36 AM

Overkill??? No way! I enjoy your info. If you step on my toes....I will let you know!
Thanks
Nancy