Twigs Organic Wine | Malbec | Cabernet | Merlot

Twigs Organic Wine’s 2008 releases feature a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Merlot and a Malbec.  All are certified Organic by the OIA, an organization which is accredited with the USDA.

Organic WineAlthough the Twigs name is new, the family behind the wine is not.  The Cecchin family has been farming grapes for 100 years, in the traditional way- with horse tilled fields and without the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

Originally from Italy,  the Cecchin family put down roots in the Maipu region of Argentina and in 1959 they founded the wine company Bodega Familia Cecchin.

Twigs 2008 Malbec is 100% certified Organic Malbec from Maipu, Mendoza.  The alcohol content is refreshingly light at 13.5%.  This is an unoaked, fruit forward wine.  Though it is not terribly complex, it is well balanced and quite approachable, and should satisfy a wide range of palates.  Retail price is $14.99

Twigs 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% certified Organic Cabernet from Maipu, Meondoza.  Once again the alcohol content is 13.5%,  the wine is unoaked and fruit forward.  This wine has a slightly peppery finish.  As with the Malbec it is approachable.  Retail is $14.99

Twigs 2008 Merlot is 100% certified Organic Merlot also from Maipu, Argentina. Alcohol is 13.5%, the wine is fruit forward and unoaked.  Retail is $14.99

All three wines are almost identical in style.  Uncomplicated, fruit forward, light on the alcohol and unoaked.  At $14.99 the wine is a decent value.  I think if it you can find it for under $10 it would be an exceptional value.

Twigs Wine is distributed by Potluck Wines

Twigs Wines

*This wine was received as a sample

Two amazing wines from Pomerol, France

You may  have heard of Bordeaux, but what about Pomerol?  Where is it? What is it?  For the average American wine consumer French wine remains a mystery, with classifications, and first growth and Chateau’s and regions.  Not to mention the wine is not labelled as Cabernet or Merlot.

First, lets locate Pomerol.  There it is!  Not far from the city of Bordeaux, the tiny commune is less than 3 square miles.  Pomerol is a sub-region of the “right bank” of Bordeaus but Pomerol differs from Bordeaux in that there is no official classification system. Read this Wikipedia article about wine classification in France if you don’t already know what it is.

The wines of Pomerol are typically less tannic and rely more heavily on Merlot.  The other two varieties of grape used are Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Over the past year I have managed to get my hands on some hard to find, and amazing examples of Pomerol produced wine.  First let me say that these wines are not cheap.  If you are looking for an affordable summer sipper these are not them.  But if you are looking for a serious wine for a special occaision these two wines are worth considering.  I have tried several bottles of each wine.

$90 93 points

Chateau Nenin 2005 Pomerol

Blend: 74% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc

Alcohol: 14.2%

Most reviews of this wine suggest big fat tannins, monster tannins and a rich concentration of black fruit.  I didn’t taste this earlier on, and in fact the wine had a few years in the bottle by the time I tried it.  I found the tannins to be a lot more subtle than I expected.  The fruit was deliciously integrated with a Thyme like spice to it.  Very smooth. Pair this wine with Prime Filet Mignon (tenderloin) Wine Enthusiast 91 points, Wine Advocate 92 points, Wine Spectator 93 points. Weekly Wine Journal rating…93 points

Price: $90.  Pricing on this wine is all over the map, but generally if you were to walk into a retail store you could expect to pay around $90.  Online prices vary.

$125 91-93 points "La Reserve"

Clos l’Eglise 2006 “La Reserve”

Blend: 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc

Price: $140.  Once again prices vary, generally between $90-$150 online

Production: 2,300 cases

“The wine is made according to traditional methods. It is for this reason that Sylviane Garcin-Cathiard chose wooden vats for Clos L’Eglise. Each batch is treated separately in a thermostat-regulated vat of 60 hl. Manual pigeage has been re-introduced; the pulp and mass of skins, known as chapeau, floats to the top during fermentation and is punched down manually several times a day. The wine is left in fermenting vats for a long time, and malolactic fermentation is carried out in 100% new barrels. Ageing lasts between 16 to 18 months depending on the vintage.” -Winemaker

VERY interesting thing to note about this particular wine:  This wine is the result of a collaboration between the winery and Gary Vaynerchuk.  He helped with the blending and as a result wine library is the exclusive retailer of this wine in the United States. This is not the exact same wine as the regular Clos l’Eglise Pomerol as evidenced by the difference in labelling.

"Regular Clos l'eglise pomerol"

This wine is the bigger and bolder of the two.  Right now, it is still fairly young.  The tannins are edgy and grippy, like cinnamon but there is definitely a great concentration of fruit and terroir to pull it through.  Cedar spice and black currants and the finish goes on forever.  Pair this wine with a Prime New York Strip.  The tannins will work well with the texture of this particular cut of meat. Weekly Wine Journal rating: 93 points

While both of these wines are well out of the budget for the average casual consumer of wine, I think that once you make the decision to go deep, to spend some big bucks and take your wine to the next level, these are two wines that won’t disappoint.

Wine Review | Cameron Hughes Lot 197, 2008 Merlot, Napa Valley

Disclaimer:  I was given a signed bottle as a gift, by Jessica Hughes, who clearly states that I ROCK!

Alrighty then, with that technical matter out of the way lets get down to business.

Napa Valley Merlot

It's official: I rock

Lot 197 hails from the Carneros area of Napa Valley, although it does not state this on the label, Cameron mentions it on his website.  Production for this wine is a miniscule 518 cases and the wine retails for $12 a bottle.

Though I would not call myself a big Merlot drinker, this is definitely a Merlot I could get used to.  It is a big monster of a Merlot, with alcohol coming in at a whopping 15.3%.   A big whiff reveals a bit of an alcoholic burn in the nostrils, but that is nicely evened out by the aromas of red berry fruit.  On the palate this wine is ripe, which has more to do with the alcohol % than sugar.  The palate consists of ripe black cherry and chocolate.   The alcohol content is certainly going to be an issue for some people, and it usually is for me, but this wine is an exception.  The fruit and the smooth tannins, really play well with the alcohol which enhances the aromatics as well.  And for $12 it’s definitely a deal.  I paired this wine with a tomato based pasta sauce seasoned with cayenne.  The heat of the sauce really played well against the ripeness of the wine.

Rating: 89 points

Wine Review | Blackstone Winery | 2007 Sonoma Reserve | Merlot Rubric Cabernet

Blackstone Winery Sonoma Reserve Merlot 2007, Sonoma Countywine label

The blend: 85% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Ruby Cabernet and 2% Petite Verdot

Alcohol: 14.5%

Production: 27,000 cases

Suggested Retail Price: $20

The grapes for this wine were sourced from vineyards in 6 out of the 13 A.V.A’s in Sonoma County, predominantly Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley.  This wine is a powerful representation of what Merlot can be.  It’s a big Merlot, not for the faint of heart.  The fruit is decent but it takes significant decanting to really be enjoyed.   After only an hour of decanting I found the alcohol to be quite dominant.  The next day after some of the alcohol had evaporated off I was able to enjoy the fruity side of this wine.  The fruit is predominantly Cherry enveloped in a layer of toasty oak.

Blackstone Winery  Sonoma Reserve, Rubric 2007Rubric label

The Blend: 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Malbec, 8% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot, 7% Tannat, 5% Merlot and 3% Petite Sirah.

Alcohol: 14.5%

Production: 7,000 cases

Suggested Retail Price: $22

The fruit for this wine was sourced from 4 vineyards located in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Valley and Alexander Valley.  The wine was aged in seasoned French Oak for 20 months.

On the nose I detected a light tobacco aroma, the palate was quite interesting with a mix of caramel and coffee.  Although the blend is reminiscent of Bordeaux blends, the wine is definitely more of the California Meritage style.  Higher alcohol and riper fruit dominate this wine once again and I would recommend decanting.

Blackstone Winery Sonoma Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Sonoma County2007 Sonoma reserve Cabernet

The Blend: 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec

Alcohol: 14.5%

Production: 17,000 cases

Suggested Retail Price: $20

This wine was by far my favorite of the three.  The nose is subdued but you will find hints of spicy oak and chocolate.  The palate is where this wine really shines.  Classic Sonoma Cabernet fruit.  This wine reminds me a lot of Cameron Hughes Lot 140 from Chalk Hill Sonoma.  Plummy and juicy with lighter tannins than many Napa valley Cabernet’s.  I decanted this wine for an hour before tasting which was sufficient, unlike the other two wines this one does not need significant decanting.  Of the three wines tasted here I would put this one as the best value and worthy of spending the $20 on.

*disclaimer* These wines were received as samples

Wine Review: 90 Plus Cellars Lot 17, 2007, Merlot, Napa Valley

90 Plus Cellars is a relative new comer to the negociant business.  Their niche is centered on buying up the excess finished wines which have scored 90 points or more, and reselling them at a discount under their own label.  Which brings us to…

90+ Cellars Merlot (Lot 17)

Blend: 81% Merlot 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc

Aging: 12 months in 1/3 New French Oak

The wine retails for $13.99.  It was made from 100% Napa fruit.  That is a good start in my books.  I popped the cork, and let it breathe in the decanter for an hour.

On the nose I detected black currants and subtle oak.

The palate revealed black cherries and at first it was a pretty straight forward wine.  Nothing special, nothing off putting, just okay.  I let it breathe more.  It was worth the wait.  After about 3 hours the richness  opened up revealing plummy tannins.  It reminded me a little of the Bordeaux style, especially later on.  The Rich chewy and young tannins were nice but not overpowering.  At first I thought this was more of a pasta Merlot, but later on  it could have paired well with meats aswell.

The verdict:  A good value at $14.  The wine benefits from a little patience and decanting

This wine was received as a sample

Check out my interview with 90 Plus Cellars here

Visit 90 Plus Cellars website here

Wine Review: Grgich Hills Estate, 2005 Merlot, Napa Valley


Alcohol: 14.7%

Blend: 98% Merlot, 2% Petite Verdot

Aging: 18 months in 30% new French oak

Grgich Hills 2005 Merlot

Production: 5,372 cases plus 835 cases of the half bottles (375ml)

Price: $38.99 at AZ Wine Company

The nose:  Not much going on with the nose, but for me that seems about right with a Merlot.  Little bit of black fruit, little bit of oak.

The palate:  The palate explodes!  The subdued nose is very misleading.  Full bodied bright plum. Not quite ripe plums.  Solid chewy tannins ala black tea, strong black tea.  Squeaky teeth tannins.  There is a little bit of heat on the back-end, not enough to be off-putting for me, but enough that this Merlot would pair well red meats.

The company literature describes this Merlot is a Cabernet lover’s Merlot.  I agree.  And I LOVE big powerful Cabernet’s.  I tasted this wine at a wine tasting, so the sample that I made this review from was rather limited.  My reviews usually consist of consuming the whole bottle…half one night, and then the other half 24 hours later…Tim.