Friday, March 3, 2017

Boston Wine Expo: Wines of California & New York

"We need to speak up on behalf – this is maybe a little self-serving here, forgive me – of those who are innovating new styles, or preserving something precious: an old style, an old variety, respecting the authority of a great terroir."
--Randall Grahm

Randall Grahm (pictured above), the founder and winermaker at Bonny Doon Vineyard based in Santa Cruz, California, produces a fascinating range of intriguing and delicious wines. He is also willing to experiment with different grapes and styles. Aesthetics are important to Randall, from the labels on the bottle to the wine inside. When you taste his wines, you know that it is going to be an adventure for your palate, and you eagerly await the wonders you will experience. When I saw Randall at the Boston Wine Expo, I needed to stop by his table.

I began tasting two of his Rosé wines, the 2016 Vin Gris de Cigare and the 2015 A Proper Pink. You can check my previous article on these wines, though the Vin Gris was the 2015 vintage. They are both wines I heartily recommend.

My #3 Top Favorite Wine of the Expo was the 2014 Clos de Gilroy “Cuvée Particuliere" ($19.99), which is produced mainly from Grenache with a little bit of Mourvedre. It was more of an Old-World style wine, with bright red fruit flavors, some peppery notes and a mild earthiness. It was complex and intriguing, an elegant and delicious wine that calls out for lamb or wild boar, or a hearty Italian ragu. The wine easily seduced my palate and it was hard to refrain from draining the bottle on my own. Highly recommended!

The 2013 Syrah Le Pousseur ($26), made from 100% Syrah, was also an impressive wine. It possessed an intriguing earthy nose, with black fruit aromas, and on the palate, it was rustic and earthy, with blueberry, plum, and black cherry flavors, with a hint of licorice and spice. Plenty of complexity, restrained tannins, and a lengthy finish collaborate to elevate the quality of this wine. It too has more of an Old-World style and is also highly recommended.

Halter Ranch, located in Paso Robles, is dedicated to sustainability and produce some excellent wines. Check out my previous article about Halter Ranch for more basic information about the winery and reviews of some of their wines, including their 2011 Halter Ranch Rosé. As I enjoyed their Rosé so much, I needed to try their newest vintage.

The 2015 Halter Ranch Rosé ($24) is a blend of 67% Grenache, 22% Picpoul Blanc, 8% Mourvedre, and 3% Syrah. The 2011 vintage was produced from the same grapes, except the proportions were different, with less Grenache and much more Syrah. It was fermented in stainless steel, did not undergo malolactic fermentation and was aged for two months in stainless steel. It saw no oak at all and has an alcohol content of 13.6%. The Rosé was dry and crisp, with subtle red fruit flavors, including cherry and strawberry, and with a nice backbone of minerality. There is a mild floral element to the wine as well, and it would be a perfect wine year-round, with or without food. This is the style of Rosé I very much enjoy and highly recommend this wine.

At last year's Expo, I tasted a number of wines from the Brooklyn Oenology Winery (BOE) and you can read my previous post about those wines. Alie Shaper (pictured above) is the owner and winemaker of BOE and she returned for this year's Expo. Alie has created a new label, the AS If Wines, with the "AS" standing for the initial of her name. Her website states: "“If” has been the guiding principle in my career. By examining all possibilities and opening myself up to all the answers “if” summons, I have been led to places that I never imagined, but were exactly where I should be."

Currently the label has three wines, a White blend called Serendipity ($45), a Rosé blend called Courage ($35), and a Red blend called Persistence ($40). The first vintage was 2014 and I got to taste all three wines at the Expo. My favorite was the AS If Courage, a wild fermented wine that is a blend of 50% Cabernet France, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 10% Syrah and 10% Petit Verdot. It was a full-bodied, dry Rosé with crisp acidity, and a pleasing melange of bright cherry, raspberry, and herbal notes with a hint of spice. It has a good complexity and is nicely balanced. It should be excellent on its own or paired with food.

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