by Sandra Crittenden

by Sandra Crittenden

Saturday, January 2, 2021

The (Wine) Road Less Traveled

 As seen in the January 2021 issue of Galveston Monthly magazine.

Surprising grapes and some lesser known places were the source of this month's recommendations in Galveston Monthly. 




Wednesday, November 4, 2020

A Time for Beaujolais

 As seen in the November 2020 issue of Galveston Monthly magazine.

Some thoughts on the Gamay based wines from the Beaujolias region of France along with Beaujolais recommendations that were found on the Island. 


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Merry Edwards "Meredith Estate" Pinot Noir 2017

Merry Edwards "Meredith Estate" Pinot Noir 2017 - Robust, yet elegant, with fresh aromas of black raspberry, cherry, and cocoa with floral notes of violet and a slight hint of forest floor. The full bodied wine is dry and beautifully structured with smooth fully ripe tannins and bright acidity with juicy flavors that mirror the nose throughout the persistent white pepper laced finish. Lovely to drink alone and even better with food. 14.5% ABV.

I served it with Moroccan braised lamb shanks, a recipe that came from the Merry Edwards website, this rich and savory meal was a perfect pairing for this beautifully layered wine. Find the recipe at MerryEdwards.com.

This wine was sourced from a 24 acre vineyard site that Merry Edwards and her husband purchased in 1996. It is located on the southern edge of the Russian River Valley in a cooler area where summer fog covers the area until the afternoon. The vineyard was planted in 1998 with Dijon clones on Goldridge sandy loam soils and has been maintained with sustainable vineyard practices.

This wine was part of the Somm Con Geographical Digest series, Domestic Bliss, which featured some of the special vineyard sites in the United States. Current winemaker, Heidi von der Menden was one of the featured speakers. This highly recommended wine has an SRP of $68.00.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Wente Wetmore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

This was one of the featured wines on last week's episode of the Somm Con Geographical Digest series. Aly Wente was on and spoke about the family’s five generations of winemaking in Livermore Valley, the region's coastal influences, and the Charles Wetmore Vineyard from where this wine was sourced.

The Wente Wetmore Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petite Sirah, 8% Petit Verdot, and 2% Malbec. It is grown in the Charles Wetmore Vineyard which is named after one of Livermore’s most prominent early wine pioneers who is believed to have brought vine cuttings from many of Bordeaux’s top Châteaux to the Livermore Valley. It is located between the two major arroyo’s, or steep gullies, in the Valley Arroyo del Valle and Arroyo Mocho and ranges in elevation from 460 to 735 feet. This vineyard site was primarily planted to Cabernet Sauvignon because of its climate and gravel soils which allow for a later harvest and help the vines to fully ripen while encouraging intense dark fruit flavors to develop. 

Wente Wetmore Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 - Pronounced dark fruit aromas with floral violet and dried herb notes, dry, and beautifully structured with a full body, velvety tannins and bright acidity with flavors of blackberries and hints of tea and earth. (14% ABV) SRP $35.

Aly Wente described it as a yummy wine with a strong sense of place.

Pasta Bolognese was one of the recommended pairings for this wine so I cooked that to serve with the wine for dinner and I do agree that the pairing was delicious.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Geographical Digest - A Wine Education Series


I registered to participate in SommCon's live educational series Geographical Digest last Thursday which focused on some of the top American wine regions in the western United States. That week's webinar was called Domestic Bliss: The West Coast - California, Oregon and WashingtonThis wine tasting series is in conjunction with The SOMM Journal and National Geographic Books who publishes The New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia.

I tuned into the Zoom webinar to watch it live but the monthly series is also available through an on-demand streaming platform, SommGo. This is a new service that provides year-round training and education for both beverage professionals and wine enthusiasts. It can be watched live one Thursday a month or it can be viewed at a time that is more convenient. Wines for each seminar are also available for purchase from BottleTribe.

Sarah Quider with Chalk Hill Estate Winery and Heidi von der Menden with Merry Edwards in Russian River Valley, Aly Wente with Wente Vineyards in Livermore, Miles MacDonnell from Round Pond Estate in Napa Valley, Damien Grindley with Brecon Estate in Paso Robles, Guillaume Large with Résonance Wines and Wayne Bailey from Youngsberg Hill in Willamette Valley, and Dennis Cakebread with Mullan Road Cellars in Columbia Valley were the guest speakers for the Domestic Bliss webinar. 

I was given media sample bottles of two of the wines that were discussed to taste while I watched, I will be sharing my tasting notes in a separate post. 

The remaining schedule is listed below:

  • November 19, 2020: Burgundy and Bordeaux: Choose your Passion
  • December 16, 2020: The Southern Hemisphere: From Down Under to the Top of the Andes
  • January 21, 2021: A Exploration of Renowned Single Vineyards
  • February 18, 2021: Technique or Terroir: Is it Production or Nature That Make These Wines Great?
  • March 18, 2021: Italy: North to South
  • April 22, 2021: Luxury from Remarkable Sites
  • May 20, 2021: A World of Bordeaux Blends
  • June 24, 2021: Western Europe
Sign up for the series at Geographical Digest.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

A Fine Wine Tasting

These wines were sent to me from the Texas Fine Wine Group as part of an online group blind wine tasting. They were bagged and taped to conceal their identity. My husband uncorked them for me so I did not see any branding prior to tasting. Tasting notes were written before the reveal. Afterwards, winery representatives discussed each via zoom.

The Texas Fine Wine group is comprised of five well respected wineries who have set the goal of making high quality, benchmark wines from 100% Texas grown grapes. They make estate wines as well as source from some of the top growers in the state. All of the following wines are recommended and are excellent examples of the caliber of wines that Texas can produce.



Bending Branch "Lost Pirogue Vineyard" Texas Hill Country Picpoul Blanc 2019 - Clean, fresh, and dry with notes of honeydew, pear, and lemon zest on the nose. The wine is medium bodied with medium+ acidity and flavors that echo the aromas with the addition of a grilled pineapple note in the lingering mineral-laced finish. The wine was fermented and aged in barrel giving it a more rounded texture,  it is very balanced and easy to enjoy.  (12.7% ABV) Only 250 cases were made of this wine but Bending Branch does have several other Picpoul Blanc options, $32 

Brennan Vineyards Comanche County Texas Dry Rosé 2019 - Beautifully aromatic, the floral notes distinguish this wine immediately on the first sniff quickly followed by orange zest and red fruit aromas. The wine is dry, medium bodied, and refreshing with medium acidity and ripe raspberry and red plum flavors in the lively finish. Crisp, elegant and pleasing. An unusual blend of 70% Mourvèdre and 30% Muscat of Alexandria.  (12.1% ABV) $22

Spicewood Vineyards Texas Hill Country Estate Tempranillo 2017- Vibrant black cherry and dried leaf aromas with a full body, smooth, integrated tannins, balanced acidity and flavors of blackberry with hints of sage and red pepper continuing through the persistent and slightly spicy finish. This wine was sourced from the estate vineyard which sits on sandy loam soils and was planted in 2008. About 50% of the wine was aged in new French oak barrels for 18 months. (14.9 % ABV) $40 

Duchman "Oswald Vineyard" Aglianico 2016 -  Rich and dark with black cherry, plum and sweet spice aromas, the wine is full bodied, dry and well-structured with high acidity and smooth, ripe tannins and matching flavors of black plum, black cherry, and white pepper with a slight savoriness in the long finish. (14.5% ABV) $40

Pedernales Texas GSM Melange 2017 - A blend of more than the GSM would imply, the mix is 43% Mourvèdre, 10% Carignon, 14% Cinsault 25% Grenache, 4% Syrah, and 4% Petit Sirah which creates a very complex and layered wine. Robust yet approachable with blueberry, chocolate covered cherries, baking spice, and hints of leather and smoke, this wine is medium+ bodied with smooth tannins and medium acidity and a lingering finish. (13.3% ABV) $35 

Monday, October 5, 2020

Sangiovese Wines for Fall - from Galveston Monthly

In the October 2020 issue of Galveston Monthly magazine, I talk about the Sangiovese grape, its home in Italy and some of the places that make magnificent wine from it. I also talk about how Sangiovese is doing in Texas.

As seen in Galveston Monthly magazine - on the stands now.

 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Spicewood Vineyards and Ron Yates Wines - From Galveston Monthly

 As seen in the September 2020 issue of Galveston Monthly magazine

This month, I talk to Ron Yates, owner of Spicewood Vineyards and Ron Yates Wines. He shares some thoughts on the 2020 Texas wine grape harvest and gives a few recommendations for wines to drink now and some that collectors may want to hold.


Saturday, August 1, 2020

Summer Sips from Spain - from Galveston Monthly

  In this month's issue of Galveston Monthly magazine, I write about a few of the wine growing regions of Spain along with some history and wine recommendations. Top picks include an Albariño from Rias Baixas, both a red and a rosado from Rioja, and a pair of Cavas. 

  Read the articles here as they appeared in the printed version or check at the on-line issue at 

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Tastes of an Independent America - From Galveston Monthly

As seen in the July 2020 issue of Galveston Monthly magazine

  This month, I wrote about the drinking habits of the Founding Fathers with suggestions on the imported wines that we know they enjoyed drinking from Bordeaux, Champagne, and Madeira. While no one should consume as much as they apparently did, we can all take tips on the best wines to enjoy on Independence Day, read the printed version below or follow the link to the online magazine spread. Galveston Monthly - The Tastes of an Independent America



Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Recommended Rosé from Oregon for Summer


Over Memorial Day weekend, I attended the "4th Annual Largest Blind Tasting of American True Rosé". This is an event hosted annually by wine writer/blogger, Jeff Kralik of The Drunken Cyclist. Texas had already begun to reopen after the Covid-19 Stay Home order had been lifted but this was my first day to go out since it had begun. In addition to Jeff and I, two other brave souls, also writer/bloggers ventured out to join us as well, Katrina René from The Corkscrew Concierge and Rebecca Castillo from My Vino Rules.

Jeff defines a true rosé as an intentional rosé, a wine in which the grapes have been grown, harvested, and vinified with the plan of making a rosé versus the Saignée method which is bleeding off from a planned red wine and vinifying the juice as a white wine.

He had accumulated seventy-four sample bottles of American-made rosé wine for this tasting. Virtually all were more than acceptable ranging in the very good category of an 88-89 score or the excellent category of 90 and up, we did have one corked bottle. I would be delighted to accept a chilled glass of any of these wines this summer.
Jeff Kralik - After the unveiling.

The rosés that were Pinot Noir-based tended to be more highly-rated by me at this tasting though their were exceptions. Many of my highest scores were  wines from Willamette Valley though my highest was from California. I decided to write this event up in two posts featuring my top picks from both states, I'm starting here with my top scorers from Oregon. I brought the leftovers of some of my favorite wines home, I did not get them all as some of my fellow tasters were quick to take their favorites as well. I re-tasted these wines with my family with barbecued ribs as part of our holiday celebration the following day. I will include their top picks along with my original notes from Jeff's house.

Big thank you to Jeff Kralik for inviting me to all your great tastings!

Top wines from Willamette Valley:
Willakenzie Estate Rosé 2019 - Light pink with fresh berry and melon aromas and flavors with a hint of minerality in the lingering slightly pithy, crisp finish. 93 points with a $28 SRP. 
Adelsheim Pinot Noir Rosé 2019 - Complex mix of floral and fruity aromas with red cherry flavors with lime zest in the fresh, citrus-filled finish. 93 points with a $28 SRP. 
This was my husband's favorite from the lineup.
Gran Moraine Rosé of Pinot Noir 2019 - Fresh watermelon and grapefruit aromas and flavors with tangy acidity in the lingering citrus-laced finish. 92 points with a $28 SRP. 
My daughter who has taken the WSET-2 and Texas Wine Specialist course and now tastes with me on the Houston Chronicle Tasting Panel crowned this as her favorite, her note was that it tasted like watermelon and joy.
Lange Pinot Noir Rosé 2019 - More deeply hued, this wine was a bit weightier and had sweet ripe raspberry aromas and flavors with a pleasant slightly tart persistent finish. 92 points with a $28 SRP.
My son loved this one, he tends to prefer darker rosé and lighter red wines.
Winderlea Pinot Noir Rosé 2019 - Floral notes of red rose with beautiful acidity and more subtle lingering flavors of apricot and citrus. 90 points with a $35 SRP. 
Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir Rosé 2019 - Light and fruity with aromas and flavors of fresh strawberry, a bit softer on the palate with a fresh grapefruit note in the finish. 90 points

From elsewhere in Oregon:
Troon Vineyard Rosé - This Tempranillo-based blend was a very different wine in the line-up. It had a yeasty sour beer note, great acidity and grapefruit aromas and flavors with a lingering fresh citrus finish. 92 points with a $25 SRP. 
Fullerton Three Otters Pinot Noir Rosé - Crisp and lively, very Provencal with notes of lavender and a mineral laced finish. 92 points and a $20 SRP.
Division Winemaking Company Gamay Noir - Sweet fruit aromas with a floral note and a lingering fresh, fruity finish. 90 points with a $ SRP.
A to Z Winework Rosé - Composed of Pinot Noir, this one had an interesting sweetart candy note with a rounder feel and a fresh finish. 90 points with a $16  SRP.

Honorable mention to these wines who scored in the 87-89 point range.
Brooks Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Rosé 2019
Montinore Estate Pinot Noir Rosé 2019
Saffron Fields Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé 2019
Yamhill Valley Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir Estate 2019
Erath Pinot Noir Rosé Oregon 2019
Furioso Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé 2019
Tori Mor Pinot Noir Rosé 2018

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Restocking Your Wine

As seen in the June 2020 issue of 
Galveston Monthly magazine,
on the stands now.

  After the stay home orders depleted all supplies kept on hand, its time to restock and rethink what are the necessities really needed to stay home for a long time. For wine lovers, there are other pressing needs than just food, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. As hurricane season arrives and you think about restocking freezers and pantries again, think about what wines you will enjoy most while staying at home.