New Wines (to Spirits) from Spain, California and Washington

This week we will sample six wines that are new to the Spirits selection- from Spain we will try a red and white (both blends) of excellent value made by Bodegas Virgen del Aguila called Las Valles; from California we will sample a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir made by Ancien’s second label Definitive (or as they call it, DE-FIN-I-TIVE); and from the Columbia Valley in Washington State a Riesling and red blend (of 8 grapes!) made by Milbrandt Vineyards.

We hope you will join us this Thursday to sample some outstanding wines! Plus, the Spirits Christmas Tree is up and decorated- come check it out!

“Las Valles” is produced by Bodegas Virgen del Águila, a modern, progressive cooperative near the town of Paniza. The bodega offers a wealth of vines (nearly 5,500 acres) planted in prime terroir (more than 2,500 ft above sea level) nestled against the Iberico mountain range.

We are in Paniza, a land of wine. Our vineyards are located in Denomination of Origin Cariñena, a land which has produced wine since ancient times and which brings together a series of conditions, such as the quality of the soil and the particularities of the climate, which ensure hugely successful wine production.

Cariñena is the second Denomination of Origin of Spain. Its tradition in the production of wine dates back to Phoenician and Roman times. Cariñena took its name from Carae, a Roman settlement from the year 50 BC, whilst the variety Cariñena (Carignan) originates from this region. Cariñena wines have been around since ancient times, making Aragon a land of great wines. The regional capital, Saragossa, halfway between Madrid and Barcelona and just two hours from France, is 53 km from Paniza.”

Las Valles Viura-Chardonnay 2011– Carinena, Spain. A blend of 70% Viura and 30% Chardonnay. Produced from old Viura vines grown at more than 2,300 ft above sea level. Cool fermentation. Unoaked. “Nearly 5,500 acres of prime vineyard land at elevations averaging more than 2,500 feet above sea level! This includes a wealth (nearly 190 acres) of old, 50+ year-old Garnacha, Tempranillo and Macabeo vines, as well as newer plantings of international varietals. Offers aromas of citrus fruit, pineapple and wild flowers. Dry and extremely refreshing on the palate. Ideal as an aperitif, or paired with salads or delicately-flavored seafood or white meat dishes.” Tasting $8.99

Las Valles Tempranillo-Garnacha-Syrah 2011– Carinena, Spain. A blend of 40% Tempranillo, 40% Garnacha, 20% Syrah. Produced from old vines grown at more than 2,300 ft above sea level. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Unoaked. “Nearly 5,500 acres of prime vineyard land at elevations averaging more than 2,500 feet above sea level! This includes a wealth (nearly 190 acres) of old, 50+ year-old Garnacha, Tempranillo and Macabeo vines, as well as newer plantings of international varietals. This smooth, well-balanced red blend offers aromas of blackberries, blueberries and cassis, with intense fruit on the palate and a slightly peppery finish. Enjoy on its own, or paired with mild cheeses, simple pizza, pasta or red/white meat dishes, and more.” Tasting $8.99

“”DE-FIN-I-TIVE” is a special project created by Ken and Teresa Bernards [owners of Ancien] whose combined experience is moving into its 3rd decade. Their trips to Burgundy filled them with inspiration drawn from the ancient history and tradition of winemaking. While the techniques have constantly been refined, they have been using the same principles of winemaking for generations.”

The Ancien Philosophy: “Our wine making philosophy can be summed up in two words, “balance” and “expression.” We do not make wine by recipe, looking instead at each new harvest, at each new batch of fruit as a unique challenge, with its own unique set of possibilities. Arriving at these possibilities requires constant experimentation and constant attention to detail. To do this right, we work with the fruit on a small scale. As much as technology has to offer us, we find that it can never replace the personal attention that a wine maker can give. So we prefer to keep the scale of operations small. We ferment our chardonnay and pinot gris in barrels and our pinot noirs in one ton, open-top fermenters. The extra work involved delivers a difference that we can taste and smell and see and enjoy.”

DE-FIN-I-TIVE Chardonnay 2011– Napa Valley, California. “Definitive Chardonnay is opulent and layered fruit: green apple, pear, figs, lime, tangerine zest, freesia, ripe apple and lemon cream aromas layered above creamy yeast notes and creme brulee. Exceptional richness with mineral notes framing the lushly textured palate. The finish is long and focused with nicely balanced acidity. The wine will continue to develop beautifully in bottle over the next 3 – 4 years gradually showing more minerality and even more concentration in the the finish.” Tasting $18.99

DE-FIN-I-TIVE Pinot Noir 2011– Santa Lucia Highlands, California. “Definitive Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2011 is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir. Racy cherry cola, raspberry and strawberry fruit flavors are layered upon denser brooding flavors with spice smoke slight meatiness and darker blackberry and black cherry flavors. Dark chocolate, sandalwood, violets and a slight earthiness add layers to the rich fruit. Nuances of smoke toasted wood and baking spices linger in the finish. The wine will continue to develop in the months and years ahead. Drink now or age 5 – 9 years.” Tasting $20.99

Milbrandt Vineyards– “In 1997 Butch and Jerry Milbrandt planted their first grapevines in Eastern Washington’s Columbia Valley AVA. At first glance, Eastern Washington is not your typical wine country. It’s a remote, windswept, high desert dotted with sagebrush and tumbleweeds. But it also holds some of the most breath-taking terrain, ranging from deep river gorges to vast mountain ranges and undulating hills formed by Ice Age floods and ancient volcanoes.

The Milbrandt family has been farming in the area since the mid-1950s and they believed the region’s moderate temperatures, low rainfall and sandy soils were ideal for wine grapes.”

Owned by brothers Butch and Jerry Milbrandt- “When we planted our first vines in 1997 we were entering uncharted territory. Today, we farm 12 distinct estate vineyard sites totaling nearly 2,000 acres. Our grapes are purchased by some of the most prestigious wineries in the state [including Charles Smith of K Vintners]. Our own winery, launched in 2005, produces highly-individualistic wines from our estate and neighboring vineyards. Jim McFerran, one of the foremost viticulturists in Washington, joined us back in 1997 to help with the intricacies of planting. We were very careful about matching the right variety to the right site. Our goal was to be the best growers in the state. From the start, demand for our grapes was immediate and overwhelming.”

Milbrandt Vineyards “Traditions” Riesling 2011– Columbia Valley, Washington. 100% Riesling; stainless steel fermentation and aging. “Our Riesling brims with aromas of summer fruits, such as nectarine and white peach. Balanced and refreshing, the peach and spicy jasmine flavors, combined with a subtle sweetness, play out smoothly through the off dry palate to a crisp, lingering finish.” Tasting $11.99

Milbrandt Vineyards “Brother’s Blend” Red Wine 2010– Columbia Valley, Washington (Vineyards: 35% Clifton Bluff, 28% Wahluke Slope, 24% Northridge, 10% Katherine Leone and 3% Sundance). A blend of 23% Mourvedre, 23% Merlot, 18% Tempranillo, 13% Petit Verdot, 7% Petite Sirah, 6% Grenache, 6% Syrah and 4% Barbera. Aged in French and American oak for 16 months. The Brother’s Blend “offers enticing aromas of fresh blueberry, cherry, plum and vanilla. The palate is robust yet supple with generous flavors of dark berry, dense cocoa, vanilla and a hint of spice that is beautifully framed by polished tannins and a long, toasty finish.” Winemaker Joshua Maloney says of the Brother’s Blend- “Our vineyards on the Wahluke Slope have developed a reputation for being some of the best sites in the Columbia Valley for growing red varieties. I made our Brother’s Blend to showcase the depth and complexity we are getting from our fruit.” Tasting $12.99

“Individually we’re just Butch and Jerry. But when we’re working together we’re like one really talented person.” -Butch and Jerry Milbrandt

Las Valles whiteLas Valles redMilbrandt Bros BlendMilbrandt Riesling

definitive chardonnay


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