Saturday, April 19, 2008

Winecellar of Silene: SpringFest 2008

Last Saturday, I led a group of the North Shore Winers to the special SpringFest 2008 Wine Tasting at the Winecellar of Silene in Waltham. There were about 28 wines available for tasting, mostly from California with a few others from Oregon and Washington. All of the wines were discounted, about 10-20% off.

Overall, this was an enjoyable tasting with some excellent wines. The attendees I spoke with all liked the tasting and many bought some of the wines. There were some standard types of wines, such as Chardonnays and Cabernets, but there were some more unusual wines as well, such as a Charbono and a California Sangiovese. Prices, after the discount, ranged from $9.99 to $49.99.

Here are the wines that especially impressed me, with their usual prices.

2006 Summers Estate Winery Charbono ($26.99): Charbono is a less common grape that is only grown in California, though there are few producers. Summers claims to produce the most Charbono wine of any other winery, about 2000 cases a year. Summers has vineyards in Knights Valley as well as Napa Valley. The Napa Valley property has a vineyard designation of Villa Andriana Vineyard, named after Summers' daughter. It is this vineyard that produces the Charbono.

This Charbono only has an alcohol content of 13.2% and is moderately red in color. It has a fruity nose and on the palate you get dark berries, plum and a bit of spice. The taste is also dry and dusty which enhances the taste of the wine. It definitely presents a more unique taste. It is a smooth wine, with mild tannins, and a moderately long finish. Definitely a wine to try, especially if you are seeking something a bit different.

2006 Belle Glos Pinot Noir, Clarke & Telephone Vineyard ($52.99): The famous Caymus Vineyards produces renowned Cabernets as well as one of my favorite white blends, Conundrum. Now the Caymus family has begun to produce Pinot Noir. The wine maker at Belle Glos is Joseph Wagner, who chose the name to honor his grandmother, Lorna Belle Glos Wagner, a co-founder of Caymus Vineyards. Belle Glos produces single-vineyard Pinot Noirs from some of California’s top wine-growing regions. Based on the wine I tasted, I believe Belle Glos is soon going to become very famous for their Pinots.

The Clark & Telephone Vineyard is located near the corner of Clark Avenue and Telephone Road in the Santa Maria Valley. The vineyard is about 35 years old and was planted “own root” to the Martini clone. This heirloom clone of Pinot Noir, one of the first to grace the California coastlands, has become something of a lost treasure.

This was an exceptional Pinot. It was light red in color with an intriguing nose of dark berries and spice. On the palate, there was a complex melange of flavors, plum, blackberry, raspberry, cinnamon and other subtle spices. The whole wine was more subtle, more Burgundian in style. It was very smooth, with well integrated tannins and a delightful lingering finish. Just an amazing taste that mesmerized me and I knew I had to buy a few bottles. I will definitely seek out their other Pinots too.

2004 Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County ($51.99): Arrowood Vineyards are located in Sonoma County and Richard Arrowood is the wine maker. He has been involved in wine making for over 40 years. Interestingly, the winery is modeled after a New England farmhouse.

This Cabernet is a blend of 89.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7.2% Merlot, 1.6% Malbec and 1.3% Petit Verdot. It was aged for about 24 months in French and American oak and is unfined & unfiltered. It has an alcohol content of 15.2% and about 6,043 cases were produced. The 2004 vintage was considered exceptional.

This wine was a dark red in color with a nose of blackberry, spice and cocoa. On the palate, the wine is lush with ripe plum, blackberry and blueberry flavors mixed with spice, leather and cocoa. It was a rich, muscular wine yet well balanced. The tannins are integrated well and the wine has a very long and delicious finish. An opulent wine with plenty of character. An exceptional Cabernet, especially at this price. I had to buy this wine as well.

2005 Il Cuore Rosso Classico ($12.99): "Il Cuore" means "the heart" in Italian. Located in Mendocino County, the winery makes Cabernet, Chardonnay, Barbara, Rose, and the Rosso Classico Tuscan Style blend. This wine was a blend of 47% Zinfandel, 24% Merlot, 21% Malbec and 8% Barbera. It has an alcohol content of 14.3%.

This wine was a light red in color and was a relatively light wine on the palate as well. It was a smooth, easy-drinking wine with lots of good fruit flavors and a touch of spice. Cherry, plum, and blackberry. Good acidity and a decently long finish. A great everyday wine, and a good value, which has some character. This wine would go well with pizza, BBQ or even a burger. Probably the best value wine of the tasting.

Here are some other good wines from the tasting.

2005 Newton Chardonnay "Unfiltered" $59.99
2005 Talley Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande $39.99
2006 Matanzas Creek Chardonnay $28.99
2006 Luna "Freakout" $19.99
2005 Luna Sangiovese $26.99
2004 JM Cellars Columbia Valley Cuvee $42.99
2005 Larkmead Cabernet Sauvignon $59.99

Winecellar of Silene
475 Winter Street
Waltham, MA
Phone: 781-890-2121

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