by Sandra Crittenden

by Sandra Crittenden

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.