Wednesday, July 1, 2015

3 Fantastic Kim Crawford Wines Ameliorate Summer Heat, New Zealand @kimcrawfordwine


New Zealand Wine Rocks!

Another hot day on the sunny SE side of Washington state is wearing. The forecast is continued triple digit temperatures. With weather like this my favorite go to wine is Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Today, I recommend you seek refuge from the heat from a selection of refreshing New Zealand white wines: Kim Crawford Pinot Gris, Unoaked Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. In my part of the world Kim Crawford has become synonymous with quality New Zealand wine. After enjoying these three wines I can confirm it is a well deserved reputation.

*Note: Regular readers know that in 2011 I started a New Zealand wine blog with my friend Juli Crompe,, because of a mutual fixation with wines of New Zealand. Sadly, our New Zealand blog has lost steam, so I will post my New Zealand wine reviews to this blog. Juli is well and keeping busy. I had a pleasant visit with her earlier this year in Seattle at the Washington State Wine Awards. A visit to New Zealand is still on my list and long overdue. I'm still Kiwi Daydreaming! Mauriora! (Good Health/Cheers!) 


Kim Crawford Wines
Station Road
Huapai, Auckland, New Zealand

Tasting Notes


1. Kim Crawford 2014 Pinot Gris, Marlborough, New Zealand

Color: Pale gold.
Nose: Toast, nuts, marigold, apple, petrol.
Palate: Creamy, honey, stone fruit, edgy tingle across tongue, nutty apple on fluid finish.

At 15 minutes: Floral nose, rose and peach petals, orange blossoms, mineral note, focused. Medium body, textured, mandarin orange, super fine tannin, tingle tip of tongue, acid roof of mouth, focused to front, ripe, juicy pear, fresh finish.

At one hour: Mineral wow, floral, powdery, vanilla, pear, quite feminine. Textured, focused mid-palate, nutty, crisp, pear/apricot, tingle back-palate, with toast, honey, pear, hazelnut on finish.

Day two: Yum! Integrated, creamy, delicious, honey-pear, viscous, wonderful slide down the palate, my speed.

Thoughts: Fragrant, floral wine. Pair with salads, cheese fondue and good friends. Recommended.

Closure: Screw Cap
ABV: 13.5%
RS: 5.0g/L
SRP: $16.99
Sample provided by winery
Winemaker, Anthony Walkenhorst


2. 2014 Unoaked Chardonnay, East Coast, New Zealand

Color: Straw.
Nose: Fragrant, funk, mineral, almond shell, pear, focused.
Palate: Tasty, almost creamy, silky, nuttiness, pear, apple, textured, pie spice, medium body, fresh into the fluid medium finish. Very good.

After 15 minutes: Lovely nose, Brioche, pear, mineral, nutty, funk, hint of lemon. Appealing. Cream, pear, vanilla, hint of Meyer lemon, smooth medium body, fresh edged, focused to front, almost herbal note on medium finish. Like.

At one hour: Nutty nose, mineral, mandarin, pear. Juicy, cinnamon, pear, crisp and almost tart, action mid-palate, a lot of flavor, light nuttiness with spicy pear/apple on medium-long finish. Like.

Day two: Appealing nose, nutty, chamomile, apple skin, drink me I am Chardonnay. Rounded palate, apple, pear, mango, action back to middle of palate, fresh on edges and back of tongue, hint of lime and pineapple with light herbal touch into finish. Lovely and glass emptied quickly. Big like.

Thoughts: Character driven wine. Seafood, Lobster, crab, trout, appetizers and pork. Recommended.

Closure: Screw Cap
ABV: 13%
RS: 3.0g/L
SRP: $16.99
Sample provided by winery
Winemaker, Anthony Walkenhorst


3. 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

Color: Shiny Straw, some effervescence.
Nose: Tropical party, papaya, mango, lime, dry grassy notes, herbal component.
Palate: Crisp, fresh, focused mid-palate, ZING, tropical, lime zest, mango, grassy note into flavorful medium-long finish. Think fish tacos and Ceviche.

After 15 minutes: Broader nose, toasted tropical, lime, mineral oil, grass. Dry on the gums, crisp on the tongue, grass, lime, hit of lemon, focused mid-palate, tingle on gums, pineapple on the medium finish.

At one hour: Appealing nose, lime, kiwi, light toast. Tropical, lime zest, bright, papaya, mid-palate focused, kiwi and lime zest into crisp finish. Like.

Day two: Tropical party on the nose, papaya, mango with hint of guava and white pepper. Wowzer, party in the mouth! Flavor everywhere, lime dominant, tropical notes, slightly grassy, sour into crisp, dry finish. Bang! Big wine.

Thoughts: Classic tropical expression of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Big hang time on the finish. Pair with foods benefiting from lime, but not spicy foods. Strongly Recommended.

Closure: Screw Cap
ABV: 12.5%
RS: 5.5g/L
SRP: $17.99
Sample provided by winery
Winemaker, Anthony Walkenhorst



Kim Crawford Wines was established in 1996 by Kim and Erica Crawford. By 2003 their Sauvignon Blanc was recognized with tremendous acclaim. Today they have become the number one New Zealand wine in the United States. In 2005 Anthony Walkenhorst joined the Kim Crawford team. It is his talent which guides the production of Kim Crawford wines. Well done Mr. Walkenhorst! Lovely wines and especially enjoyable this summer.

There's a reason I have become such a fan of New Zealand wines. Because they are so good. Kim Crawford white wines should be at everyone's table. Enjoy alone or with food, create new memories featuring a taste of New Zealand with these wines and good friends. Thank me later.

Vineyards in Marlborough, New Zealand.

About New Zealand

New Zealand is divided into two main islands, North Island and South Island. New Zealand has a long 15,000-kilometre coastline which has its own unique diversity. The West Coast is rugged and untamed while the coastal highlights of the East Coast are its gentle sandy beaches and harbors dotted with islands. Straddling two tectonic plates and sitting on the Pacific Rim of Fire has resulted in geothermal areas and volcanoes, some of which are still active.
  • As of 2011 there are 698 New Zealand wineries, with 33,600 hectares in wine grapes, the largest being the Marlborough region with 19,024 hectares. 
  • Sauvignon Blanc is the largest varietal produced, making up 50% of total production, with 16,758 hectares, followed by Pinot Noir at 14%, with 4,803 hectares planted. 
  • Exports by country are lead by Australia 31%, the UK 27% and the USA 21%.
  • There are 8 main New Zealand wine regions: Auckland, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, Marlborough, Nelson, Canterbury, Central Otago. 
  • Source: New Zealand Winegrowers
Location of Marlborough, New Zealand.

New Zealand Wine Resources:
Keep cool out there and stay hydrated.

Mauriora! (Good Health/Cheers!)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Tasting the Best of Virginia, Early Mountain Vineyards via #VAWinechat @earlymountain


30th Edition of #VAWinechat 

On 25 June 2015 I participated in another fun #VAwinechat twitter wine tasting featuring Early Mountain Vineyards of Madison, Virginia.

My friend Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like is the host of #VAWinechat. He started Virginia Wine Chat to bring wine bloggers and consumers together via a virtual gathering to discuss the wines, winemakers, wineries and regions of Virginia. I have been fortunate to participate in several Virginia Wine Chat wine tastings. Quality is strong in Virginia. Thank you Frank for the invitation and thank you Early Mountain Vineyards for sharing your lovely wines.

A conversation with Early Mountain Vineyards
​Twitter: @earlymountain
Follow the twitter discussion #VAWineChat​

(L to R) Frank Morgan, Jonathan Hollerith, Ben Jordan. 

Frank Morgan hosted the wine tasting with Early Mountain Vineyards' new Winemaker Ben Jordan and exiting Vineyard Manager and Winemaker Jonathan Hollerith. Ben Jordan is from Virginia and officially becomes the new winemaker this week. Jonathan Hollerith, who grew up in Virginia and the Virginia wine industry, is from a winemaking family. 

Over the years Jonathan has traveled to Germany to help his grandfather make wine. A UC Davis graduate, Jonathan has decided to move to Germany to take over the family winery. Of note, his dad was an important pioneer in the foundation of the Virginia wine industry.

Best of luck Jonathan and Ben!

Early Mountain Vineyards is located in the heart of the central Virginia wine trail, a short 25 minute drive from Charlottesville, Virginia, and not far from Washington, DC or Richmond, Virginia.

Early Mountain Vineyard
6109 Wolftown-Hood Road, Madison, VA 22727


Tasting Notes

Ben and Jonathan along with Frank, led us through a tasting of three Early Mountain Vineyards wines: The 2014 Rosé, 2014 Pinot Gris, and 2013 Foothills Red. 


1. 2014 Early Mountain Vineyards Rosé

*Note: Used native yeast. Mostly intentional rose', with 15% saginee added for body.

Color: Pale, shiny orange-pink. Wedding wine.
Nose: Pretty. delicate peach blossom.
Palate: Layered. Light on palate, nice tingle on tongue, creaminess, elegant, watermelon candy and chocolate? (basil?) on the dry finish. Well done. Big like. Terrific finish.

Day two: Creamy strawberry, lemon background, slate on the nose. The palate was textured, medium body, smooth, watermelon, cherry, focused mid-palate, fresh, grassy finish with lingering watermelon, herbal tang reminded me of chocolate. Went down easy on a very hot summer afternoon. So did the perspiration down my back.

Thoughts: Lovely wine. Perfect for a hot summer day or evening. Pair with diverse foods, brunch, salads, chicken and pork. Your friends will enjoy sharing this wine. Recommended/Strongly Recommended.


Blend: 75% Merlot, 20% Malbec, 2% Cab Sauv, 2% Cab Franc, 1% Syrah
ABV: 11.5%
RS: 0.3%
Closure: Screw Cap
Cases Produced: 640
SRP: $22
Sample provided by the winery


2. 2014 Early Mountain Vineyards Pinot Gris

*Note: I'm not a big Pinot Gris drinker, however, this wine was so well done I would make an exception for this wine. Surprised and impressed. Excellent wine. 

*Note: Both Ben and Jonathan agreed that Pinot Gris is the most underrated/under appreciated grape in Virginia. I agree completely. 

Color: Straw, green highlights.
Nose: Focused, vanilla, lemon, mineral, pear skin.
Palate: Crisp, tingle on tongue, focused to mid-palate, citrus, lime zest, green apple, dry, textured, lively finish. Hanging out with lemon on the finish. Lovely.

Day two: On the nose was fresh lemon slate, almost steely, focused. Awesome drinking on a hot day. Creamy smooth, lemon custard, salinity at front, herbal tang in the middle, dry on the cheeks, white grapefruit and lemon rind into the finish. Lovely, lovely wine. So my speed. 

Thoughts: Wow - fantastic white wine. Held up in the fridge over three days and still delivered a lot of tasty refreshment. Thinking mussels, scallops, sushi, sashimi, oysters and green salad. Or go with something salty like fried chicken. Strongly Recommended.


Malolactic with fermentation, inoculated malolactic starter with native yeast.
Block1: Wild fermented in stainless.
Block9: Fermented w/ 58W3.
A few wild fermented barrels and partial malolactic fermentation.

Blend: 100% Pinot Gris
Closure: Screw Cap
ABV: 12.5%
RS: 0.2%
Cases Produced: 500
SRP: $24
Sample provided by winery


3. 2013 Early Mountain Vineyards Foothills Red

*Note: The winery has this wine available under both cork and screw cap. Purchase with screw cap for drink me now buyers or with cork for cellaring. First time I've observed this option.

*Note: Spontaneous fermentation (Wild Yeast), pulled back on extraction. Had the goal to capture elegance, and lightness of body.

Color: Plum.
Nose: Spicy sweet, stewed plums, root beer barrel candy, cherry candy, clove, focused, lavender, herbal note, intriguing nose.
Palate: Smooth wine, gently dry, cherry/plum, spicy, medium body, focused to front, gentle finish with chocolate, pepper and red fruit. Exotic wine. Unexpected treat.

Day two:  Spicy sweet nose with plum, cherry, tar. Drank soft and round, with ripe plum and cherry, gentle tannin, spicy black tea, a note of chocolate on the fruity finish. Fresh drinking.

Thoughts: Drank young and fruity and remained tasty over three days. Think burgers and ribs on the grill. I am curious how this young wine will age. Recommended.

*Note: Foothills spent 12 months in barrel (35% new French oak) and was blended January 2015.


Blend: Merlot 64%, Cabernet Franc 36%
Closure: Natural Cork
ABV: 12.5%
Cases Produced: 438
SRP: $27
Sample provided by winery

About Early Mountain Vineyards 

Owner Jean Case is an actively engaged philanthropist and investor; and a pioneer in the world of interactive technologies. Jean spent more than two decades as an executive in the private sector, where she led marketing and branding efforts for AOL, before she and her husband, Steve Case, created the Case Foundation in 1997.

A 30-year Virginia resident, Jean believes strongly in the potential for the state to be among the world’s top wine regions. Jean and Steve opened Early Mountain Vineyards in 2012 to showcase their passion for the best wine and food that Virginia has to offer.


About Virginia Wine

The original colonies were mandated by England to grow vinifera and to make wine. They failed miserably. Even Thomas Jefferson struggled for 30 years to grow vinifera, without success. After a great deal of hard work and experimentation that has all changed.

Jefferson’s vision has been realized by the success of 255 Virginia wineries. Virginia is now the fifth largest wine producing state in the United States. Quality is strong. Producing 500,000 cases annually, Virginia can't produce enough wine to meet demand.

The Virginia wine industry employs 4,700 people and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy each year. Virginia is well on its way to becoming a world class wine producing region. It may have taken a couple hundred years for Virginia to reach this point, but they are now making wines I like and wines which should be coveted and collected.
Virginia Wine Resources:

Virginia wine country should be on every wine enthusiast must visit list. It goes without saying that when you see a Virginia wine, you should buy it. These wines would be wonderful wines to show off and enjoy at your home.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

An Introduction to Trump Winery and Wines - Monticello, Virginia @trumpwinery


trump [truhmp] noun \ˈtrəmp\
  1. Trump a card of a suit any of whose cards will win over a card that is not of this suit - called also 'trump card'
  2. A decisive overriding factor or final resource - called also 'trump card'
  3. Trump a dependable and exemplary person

As I prepare for another Virginia wine tasting courtesy of #VAWinechat, I want to address a previous Virginia wine tasting featuring Trump Winery of Monticello. Yes, that Trump, the Donald owns a Virginia winery.

Today I will share with you the origin of Trump Winery as well as reviews of several Trump wines. We will not discuss politics on this post, only wine.

Sparkling wines are thriving in Virginia. Of the 253 Wineries in Virginia, at least 21 are making sparkling wines. You may know that I am a big fan of sparkling wines. They are tasty, fun to drink and pair with almost any kind of food or occasion. The Trump Wines tasting was especially enticing because it started with two bottles of sparkling wine. Two bottles!

Jonathan Wheeler (left) and Frank Morgan (right).

For this tasting of featured Trump Wines from Monticello, Winemaker Jonathan Wheeler was our guide and Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like hosted the tasting.

History of Trump Winery

In 2011 Donald Trump purchased the former Kluge Estate winery and vineyard in Charlottesville, Virginia. Due to financial difficulties, the 776 acre property with a 195 acre vineyard planted in 1999 was in foreclosure. The Donald knows a good deal when he sees one and snapped up the property well below the appraised value. He purchased the remaining Kluge Estate properties the following year. Source: Washington Post, April 2011

"It appears Mr. Trump has taken the first step toward making Virginia wine," Todd Haymore the state secretary of agriculture said. "We believe if he’s successful, he’ll help take Virginia wines to greater heights." Source: Washington Post, April 2011

Has Mr. Trump remained committed to Virginia wine and is the wine any good? Yes, decidedly yes.

The Winery Today

Eric Trump is president of Trump Winery, he oversees the winemaking, marketing, global distribution and sales. He is also the Executive Vice President of Development and Acquisitions for The Trump Organization, and responsible for all aspects of real estate development and deal flow, nationally and internationally. His is the guiding hand leading Trump Winery.

Jonathan Wheeler is the Winemaker of Trump Winery. Jonathan was with the original estate and has worked at the winery since 2006. He leads the sparkling wine program. Jonathan has worked as winemaker in Sonoma and Monterey, California, Marlborough, New Zealand and his home of Fingerlakes, New York.

Trump Winery is located in the foothills of the blue Ridge Mountains on a nearly 1,300 acre estate, miles from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. Planted to 195 acres of vinifera, Trump Winery is Virginia's largest vineyard.

The winery has over 50,000 square feet dedicated to state of the art winemaking, 100,000 gallon tank capacity and a 750 barrel wine cave. This is a true wine country destination with views of rolling hills, vines, a charming tasting room and outdoor terrace.

New for 2015 is the recently renovated Albemarle Estate Bed and Breakfast at Trump Winery. Situated on a truly gorgeous property, with five guestrooms inside the house, amenities include the Jefferson master suite with his and hers bathrooms, a pool house and a cabin. Guests share the well appointed living room, library, bar, and manicured gardens all within view of the estate vineyard. Director of hospitality Derek Hunt said, “...we just want them to feel like they're at home.”

Albermarle Estate Bed and Breakfast
355 Albemarle House Dr. , Charlottesville, VA , 22902, US  434-977-4001

Trump Winery Tasting Room
3550 Blenheim Road
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902

Tasting Room Hours
Open year round 11am-5pm daily. Closed Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day. Patio closes 30 minutes after close. Full menu is offered until 5pm


And the wines, what about the wines? The wines have been well received and awarded. See my tasting notes below. I was impressed by these four lovelies and recommend them. I love a wine tasting that begins with sparkling wine.

Tasting Notes


1. Trump 2009 Blanc de Blanc $24

Fresh, foamy bubbles, saline with yeast attack followed by lovely crisp green apple and citrus. Big tasty crisp finish. With air a Creamy honey on finish and toasty note on the nose.

Thoughts: Very good and Great value. Versatile for many kinds of food. Drink now and over the next 10 years! It was lovely with fried shrimp and salmon. Recommended + Great Value.

100% #Chardonnay, Estate
36 months on lees
ABV: 12%
RS: 0.6%
SRP: $24
Production: 8,000 cases
Sample provided by the winery


2. Trump 2008 Reserve Sparkler $45

Wow - Granny smith apple! Fine perlage, saline, toasted yeast, tingle on the gums, creamy, nutty background, lemon custard, slate action back palate, dang lovely finish. Yum.

Thoughts: Sophisticated. Not over done. Well made Jonathan. Strongly Recommended.

100% Chardonnay, Estate
5 years on lees
ABV: 12%
RS: 0.7%
SRP: $45
Production: 550 cases
Sample provided by the winery


3. Trump 2013 Viognier  $24

*Note: All 195 acres hand picked for 555 tons hand picked. Great harvest

Color: Light gold.
Nose: Toasted lemon, mineral, peach fuzz.
Palate: Creamy. Vanilla, lemon, nutty, acid in the background, biscuit, peach skin into the finish. Nose really opened up after 30 minutes added mandarin orange/citrus to the finish. Nice aromatics at 35 minutes.

Thoughts: This wine needed air - give it at least 30 minutes or decant. Virginia Viognier "It speaks at open but sings with air" Frank Morgan. Recommended.

100% Viognier, Estate
ABV: 12.5%
RS: 0.05%
SRP: $24
Production: 525 cases
Sample provided by the winery


4. Trump 2012 Red Wine New World Reserve $28

Color: Dark purple.
Nose: Standout at open. Blackberry, sour background, candy spice, root beer, oak.
Palate: Dry, medium body, great grip on teeth and tongue and cheeks. Soft plum, cherry, dry, grippy. A little light mid-palate, apple tannin with violets into the finish. Needs food. Dry baby!

Thoughts: After 1.5 hours the finish was grooving with me. Wine filled out, dark fruit and tobacco with a cinnamon friend. Big like at this point. Strongly Recommended.

Blend: 42% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Franc, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot.
ABV: 13%
SRP: $28
Production: 2,000 cases
Sample provided by the winery


I was impressed by these wines. They are beautifully made and delivered a great deal of pleasure. My wife and I have even ordered the Trump Sparkling wines for special occasions at home. Yes, they are that good and they shipped them to us quickly and securely. I strongly encourage you to add Trump wines to your list of go to and must try wines. When in Virginia, add the Trump Albemarle Estate B&B and Winery to your wine country destinations.

Sincere thank you to Trump Winery, Jonathan Wheeler and Frank Morgan.