Tasting Notes: Palmaz Cabernet

Happy Favorite Friday! I don't think I will ever NOT be amazed at how quickly a month goes by. August's Favorite Friday is particularly special to me and I can't wait to share why with you!

First, Palmaz is a splurge. No way around it. I started Favorite Fridays as a way to showcase my go to bargains, but also some wines that are on the pricier end for special occasions. This is definitely one of the latter. Palmaz has a lot of sentimental value because it's where Kevin and I got engaged in August 2014. Well, it actually was the winery we visited right before we got engaged, but semantics. 

Because we felt it played an important role in our engagement story, we also had it featured in our wedding. The Palmaz family was generous enough to send me corks for placecard holders, and we also borrowed some wine boxes from the local wine shop in Highlands.

Finally, Palmaz is just a cool place. I will tell anyone and everyone going to Napa that they MUST do a tour here. Nice people, awesome wines, and a winery unlike any other I've visited because there's so much science behind it. You can read a little bit about it in this WIRED article. Anyway, long story short, we love this winery and its wine. For this tasting, I actually used my Coravin so we could save the bottle for our actual anniversary!

The Facts

  • Producer: Palmaz Vineyards
  • Region: Napa Valley, California
  • Vintage: 2010
  • Variety: 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot
  • Where I purchased: Palmaz. You can find it at small wine shops, too.
  • Price: $100+

I'm not going to do my traditional tasting notes setup because, to be honest, I was enjoying my small pour too much to focus on taking extensive notes. The wine is definitely what you'd expect for a Napa Valley Cab color-wise. It's a deep reddish purple color and much more opaque than what we've been drinking lately! The primary aroma was raspberry, and that came through in the first sip too. It's velvety with very smooth tannins. Kevin mentioned it was less spicy or had less pepper flavor than other Cabs we've had from there, and I'd agree. I think this wine is so well balanced with the alcohol, tannin, flavor, and body all being in proper proportion to each other. I would say it's less bold than what some might expect from a Napa Cab, but I think that also adds to its charm. I highly recommend as a splurge, and DEFINITELY check out the winery if you're ever in Napa!


Tasting Notes: Honoro Vera Garnacha

I probably say this at the end of every month, but I can't believe another month is over! How is it almost JUNE?! That just blows my mind. For this "Favorite Friday", I went with one of our favorite values. We had asked for good "every day" choices one time when we were in Total Wine and the girl pointed us toward this Spanish grenache. Since it's part of the series, it's no surprise that we enjoy it, but read on to find out more about its flavor profile!

The Facts

  • Producer: Bodegas ATECA
  • Region: Calatayud, Spain
  • Vintage: 2014
  • Variety: Garnacha (Grenache)
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $7.99
  • Eyes: This wine is a nice garnet color and was "medium clear", so not quite translucent or opaque. The bottle indicates it is 14.5% ABV which shows through the legs of the wine.
  • Nose: This wine smells of red berries and jam. Think raspberry compote or cherry pie. There is also a tinge of alcohol which is not surprising given the ABV mentioned above. Beyond the initial aromas, I also picked up on hints of vanilla. This plays in nicely with the fruit aromas. 
  • Mouth: The first thing I notice on this wine is the acid. There's a tartness to the first sip, but not in an unpleasant way. There were also notes of cherry and raspberry jam, as mentioned above. I would not say that it has a lot of spice to it like some Grenache I've had, but there's some and the acidity helps give it some oomph. 
  • Thoughts: At $8 a bottle, this is a GREAT find! It's got enough pizzazz to appeal to drinkers of the heavier and bolder stuff, but isn't so heavy that it can't appeal to those who like lighter wines too. It's easy to drink and doesn't linger too much, so I think it'd pair nicely with meals. Plus, beyond the random model's face, the bottle has a colorful label (you can't see it all in the photo above) and who doesn't love a nice label?! We like to pick up a bottle or two to have on hand if we want something drinkable and good. I highly recommend you give it a whirl the next time you're at your local Total Wine!




Tasting Notes: Schramsberg Brut Rosé

I am super excited to talk about April's "Favorite Friday" choice! This bottle of bubbly holds a very special place in my heart for three reasons: (1) It's delicious and I LOVE sparkling wine, (2) Kevin and I visited Schramsberg two days after getting engaged in Napa, and (3) Kevin and I toasted with the bottle we bought in Napa on our wedding day. Another fun fact is Schramsberg has been served at all official State functions by every US Presidential Administration since Nixon used it in his 1972 "Toast to Peace" with China's Primer Zhou Enali. This sparkling wine is special, and I am so happy to share it with you!

The Facts

  • Producer: Schramsberg Vineyards
  • Region: North Coast
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Variety: 61% Pinot Noir, 39% Chardonnay
  • Where I purchased: This particular bottle was a Christmas gift from my brother, but I know our local Harris Teeter carries it.*
  • Price: $35-40+

*Total Wine carries the Schramsberg brand, but my particular one does not carry Brut Rosé. If you'd like to try out the presidential and famous Blanc de Blanc, head to Total Wine!

  • Eyes: This sparkling wine is a orangeish pink color, and as expected, has lots of bubbles! They are small bubbles, which I've found to be characteristic of "Méthode Traditionnelle" sparkling wines.

    For those that don't know, the traditional method, also know has the méthode Champenoise, is what the winemakers in Champagne, France, use. The base still wine is made into sparkling wine by inserting sugar and yeast into the bottle with the base wine and capping it. The yeast eats the sugar and releases CO2, but since there's nowhere for the CO2 to go, it carbonates the wine. For more information on the different methods of adding bubbles to wine, check out this great article on Wine Folly.
  • Nose: The only thing I really noticed was that this wine had a biscuity aroma. I've heard you can (and should) decant sparkling wines for a bit to really help develop the flavor, so maybe that'd help get more aromas out of the wine. For me, though, I am usually not too concerned about sparkling wine aromas... I'm just anxious to drink it!
  • Mouth: The Brut Rosé is delicious! It's got flavors of citrus and strawberry with notes of dough, which is not abnormal in sparkling wines. I tend to lean toward the fresh and fruity sparklings over biscuit, but this bottle has a good balance of both. It's tart and acidic and refreshing and I love the fruit notes in the wine. 
  • Thoughts: You already know I love this wine. It's part of my "Favorite Friday" series and with my emotional tie to the wine, it's really no surprise. This wine evokes nostalgia and happy memories!
Photos by Lauren Rosenau Photography 

Photos by Lauren Rosenau Photography 

Even for those who didn't have this bottle at their wedding, I think it's a great choice for celebrations, especially if you want to add a little color to the bubbly! Kevin and I always stock up when it goes on sale at Harris Teeter. It's our bubbly of choice (although we also do love their Blanc de Blanc too), and I don't foresee that changing any time soon. If you're ever in Napa, I highly recommend Schramsberg's tour. It's a nice change from all the Cabernet you're inevitably drinking. 


Tasting Notes: Piazza Del Dotto Pinot Noir

I may have missed February, but I did not forget "Favorite Friday" for March! To celebrate the end of our "busy seasons", K and I treated ourselves to a delicious meal at a popular Charlotte restaurant called Barrington's. It is a fantastic little place with absolutely delicious food and a cozy atmosphere. We typically bring a bottle there every time we go, and since we weren't sure what we were having, we wanted something a little lighter on the red side. We both loved this Pinot Noir the first two times we had it, so we felt like it was a good choice to take with us on our celebratory meal.

The Facts

  • Producer: Del Dotto Vineyards
  • Region: Sonoma Coast 
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Variety: Pinot Noir
  • Where I purchased: Local wine shop
  • Price: $38-$40

As a little more background on this wine, Del Dotto is a famous winery in the Napa area. Their website features their most prominent feature... the beautiful house that mirrors Italian architecture and lavishness. They have several vineyards around the various towns in the valley, and Piazza Del Dotto, where this wine is from, is the most recent addition. It is located in Oakville, Napa Valley. 

  • Eyes: Immediately upon pouring this wine out, you can tell it's more of a "masculine" Pinot Noir. Ever since our Pinot Noir tasting (discussed here), I have always divided Pinots into the feminine and masculine pools. The color was deeper and the wine was more opaque. There were distinguished legs, which implies high alcohol. This was confirmed by the label which indicated it was 15% alcohol!
  • Nose: This wine smells AMAZING. I know those "Rewined" candles exist, but this wine's aroma should definitely be made into a candle. It smelled of red fruit like strawberry and raspberry with the slightest hint of vanilla. Seriously, I think this wine has had my favorite aroma so far.
  • Mouth: If this wine smells good, it tastes even better. It is more medium bodied and is heftier than a lot of Pinot Noirs out there. The wine is fruit forward with the berries and the there is a hint of spice. It is so smooth and just so pleasant to drink. If you aren't a fan of tannins, I think this wine would be for you. 
  • Thoughts: I think it's pretty clear that I love this wine. It has officially brought me over into a lover of Pinot Noirs, and more specifically, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs. It is just so delicious and the depth of the flavor is amazing. For people who typically drink fuller bodied and fuller flavored wines, I think this would be a great option if you ever needed something lighter. The only downside? Outside of the tasting, I'm not sure how to get it. I know that somewhat defeats the purpose of sharing my tasting notes... if you can't buy it anywhere, then what's the point? Let me tell you, I'm going to find a way to get this wine. I will be checking out all the wine shops around, and at the very least, I know you can order it from the winery via the link above. At this price point, it's definitely not an every day bottle, but for a special occasion, why not have a stunning $40 choice?!

UPDATE: If you live in Charlotte, I did find it at Reid's Fine Foods for $39.99. 



Tasting Notes: Black Cabra Malbec

This is the first in my new "Favorite Friday" series. On the last Friday of every month, I will do tasting notes on some of my existing favorite wines. I have a stash in my pantry of my favorites and I very rarely open them because I'm so concentrated on trying new things! This will be a great way to showcase them. 

Since I had a Malbec earlier in the week, I thought it'd be interesting to compare two from the same region, so the first one up is the Black Cabra Malbec.

The Facts

  • Producer: Black Cabra
  • Region: Mendoza, Argentina
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Variety: Malbec
  • Where I purchased: Mountaintop Wine Shoppe in Western NC
  • Price: Around $10
  • Eyes: This Malbec is a medium red color. It is opaque just like the other Malbec I had this week. I never noticed that before about Malbecs, but I now associate that with fuller bodied wines. There were some defined and slow moving legs, which as I have mentioned before means higher alcohol level. I actually remembered to look this time and noticed that the wine had 14.0% alcohol, so the legs of the wine make sense.
  • Nose: The first aroma I smelled was blackberry jam. Not overly sweet, but a little more sweetness than what I associate with the berry alone. The one thing I didn't notice? Any smoke! Since this was already on my favorites list, I guess that could be inferred, but it's been such a long time since I've had this wine, I thought maybe I'd be surprised! There was also some other non-fruit aroma, but I couldn't 100% decide on what it was, but my instinct was vanilla.
  • Mouth: There is definitely a blackberry flavor to this wine. I didn't notice any of the bitterness that I picked up on in the wine from earlier in the week, which was relief. There is a hint of pepper, but it's not as spicy as I remember it being or as spicy as some of the other wines that I've had recently.
  • Thoughts: This wine will always have a special place in my heart because I had it on one of my first dates with my now husband. Even with the sentimental association, this wine is a great every day choice! It is so easy to drink because it's in the sweet spot of flavor for me to have with whatever we are eating for dinner... not too overpowering to outshine the food or too boring to drink on its own. If you like really full bodied, bold, and spicy wines, this probably won't be on your favorites list, but if you're looking for something a little more mellow, affordable, and "every day", then I think this is a great bottle to have on hand!