Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Good Wine, Good Cause, Just Need Your Support!

I'm a sucker for wines that support a good cause. Such is the case that there are some wineries out there doing great work raising money and building awareness for any number of issues. I've talked already about Cleavage Creek and their work funding breast cancer research. Recently I learned of another wine built around the notion of wine and people plus charity equals results. The Charity Case Foundation is based up in Napa California and operates entirely on donations. Literally everything from the grapes and equipment time to the corks and bottles is donated by winemakers and other industry people.

All the net proceeds go to local non-profit organizations that focus on providing services to children in need and their families. I was impressed (obviously) and jumped at the chance to sample the two current releases, a rosé and a sauvignon blanc.

2008 Charity Case Rosé 

The first of the two Charity Case wines that I tried, I was just in a rosé kind of mood. It's when you want a wine with some body, a bit of oomph yet you desire a lightness too. There's a middle ground to be struck and for me, rosé can hit that spot perfectly.

Right off the bat the nose smelled of many grapes, which gave me the impression that this rosé was made from a lot of different wines . While the exact blend wasn't available, the website does suggest that this is a blend of varietals and regions within Napa Valley. A bit riper than I had anticipated, perhaps some more residual sugar than I am used to. My nose easily picked out ripe strawberry and herb-garden aromas and I could taste the red cherry, raspberry and acidity. While a 14.1% abv rosé doesn't usually make me happy, the wine-making team led by Jayson Woodbridge (yes, that Jayson Woodbridge) did a very nice job avoiding any heat or bite. This has to be one of the most food-friendly rosé's that I've tasted in a long time. Solid B and you really should buy this wine because it supports such a wonderful cause. For $12 a bottle, come on! This is going to be a wonderful spring sipper, something to pair with pizza or a fresh mixed-green salad.

2009 Charity Case Sauvignon Blanc 
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The Sauvignon Blanc came from all fruit originating in St. Helena, just up Highway 29 from the city of Napa. What makes it rather unique amongst New World examples of this grape is the barrel fermentation it underwent. That tends to soften the acidity and add a lush, velvety texture versus a crisp, clean edge to a steel tank fermented Sauvignon Blanc. France produces some amazing barrel fermented examples from Graves, outside Bordeaux. The connection here is that Charity Case used new French Oak barrels, which can avoid adding a vanilla note, instead just rounding out the wines.

I smelled loads of lemon custard, rising bread dough and apricot which surprised me. That's because I hadn't looked at the press materials yet. There's a simple reason for that, to avoid any bias that might creep into my initial impressions. Once I recognized those tell-tale signs of barrel fermentation though, I was able to put this wine into context. If you like your Sauvignon Blancs on the lush side, soft and almost luxurious, you'll thoroughly enjoy this wine. For my palate, it felt too flabby and heavy-handed. I will say that I think a fettucine alfredo dish would pair beautifully, but alas that night I ended up eating reheated leftovers. I still love the cause, but not the wine. B- from me, but if you like richer, plumper Sauvignon Blanc, do yourself a favor and check out the 2009 Charity Case Sauvignon Blanc. 

One bit of information I gleaned from the fact sheets I was sent is that Charity Case makes their wines in the spring. Despite the appearance of snow across much of this country, especially the "snowpocalypse" taking place in New York, we have spring to look forward to and some upcoming Charity Case Chardonnay that will be released. I suppose if I've been a good boy this year, I'll get a bottle to sample and share with you.

Beau Carufel

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