Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bordeaux Bound

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I'm writing this from the airport here in Portland, awaiting my departure to Amsterdam and then Bordeaux. For the next six days I'll be in Bordeaux, courtesy of Balzac Communications and Planet Bordeaux. Since I cannot speak for my fellow bloggers (Joe Roberts and Jameson Fink), I'll say that my goals for this trip are perhaps more personal in nature.

Visiting Bordeaux and posting numerous tasting notes would be missing the point, because I've been fortunate to try quite a bit of wine from the region over the past couple of decades. What I want to find out now is where exactly Bordeaux wines fit in the American Wine Conversation. Can I accomplish such a lofty sounding goal in a mere 5.5 days? At this point I would say no, but I can maybe start to get an idea of  how we can talk about these wines in the greater context of continual exploration. By drinking more wine from the area (which is incredibly diverse, as the map above shows), the answer or answers to my question will become more apparent.

A peculiar region, Bordeaux. Nearly everyone agrees that the top-tier wines are incredible (thought not always worthy of the price), but what about the more reasonably priced tiers? Have you had a great $25 Bordeaux? I've had some stunning wine from Spain, Italy, France, Oregon, and California for $25, but never from Bordeaux specifically. Can the region, who's heritage rivals that of almost anywhere else in the world when it comes to wine production, produce compelling wines and stories? That's how I frame the question of where Bordeaux fits into the greater discussion now going on in the United States.

Stay tuned, I'm going to attempt to post while in-country, and of course will still post the tasting notes on any outstanding wines I discover. Our group will be traveling throughout Bordeaux, visiting many Chateaux as well as historical sights and even a little seaborne excursion. Similar to my trip in Navarra last September, this trip will be full of great food and wine, great people, and a great education. Am I excited? You bet!

Beau Carufel

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Live Twitter Tasting with Kunde Winery

This post is admittedly tardy, and for that I apologize. Several months ago I participated in another virtual-Twitter-tasting with Kunde Family Estate, called KundeLive. My previous experience with the brand was positive, for the most part. I'd sold the Kunde wines in various retail settings going back nearly a decade and they have consistently represented good quality wines at very fair price points. Unfortunately the wines did tend to blend in with so many other California producers who also make good wine at reasonable prices.

Kunde has been around for a long time, with the fourth generation (Marcia and Jeff Kunde) taking the lead in a sort of re-branding effort. I suspect part of that involves some significant social media outreach, as evidenced by the Kunde Facebook Page and their very active Kunde Twitter Account. I should disclaim at this point that my friend Ed Thralls runs the social media for Kunde, among others.

The KundeLive event was led by Marcia and Jeff along with winemaker Zachary Long. A group of socially-active/influential bloggers got together virtually to taste and tweet about each wine while the Kundes and winemaker answered our questions.

In any case, the tasting was a success, and I think you'll see from my tasting notes that the wines were delicious and of high quality. If you spot any of these on the shelves of your local wine store, pick up a bottle or two and see for yourself.

2011 Kunde Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County: 95% of this sauvignon blanc was fermented in steel tank, the rest in neutral French oak barrels. Aromas of tropical fruit, cut grass, and citrus are all there in the right proportions. It smells freakin' delicious. What's even better is that it tastes freakin' delicious too. Lots of bright acidity highlights the lemon/lime flavors that help to contrast against sweet tropical fruit - think papaya and hints of mango flowers. Perfect for summer and autumn sipping on these still-warm days. SRP $17. 13.7% abv.

2009 Kunde Red Dirt Red Sonoma Valley: This gem is a blend of 30% Barbera, 26% Petite Sirah, 22% Syrah, 15% Zinfandel, and 7% Sangiovese. Winemaker Zachary Long crafted a wine that literally smells like dirt, in the most awesome way. Lots of dark, red-earth aromas are paired with tart cherry, plum, and a dollop of black pepper. This was my favorite wine of the tasting because it had so much going on, and on day two, three, and four it was even more expressive. The Red Dirt Red practically begs to be paired with barbecue or a meat-lovers pizza. Make that two pizzas. SRP $30. 14.8% abv.

2009 Kunde Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Valley: The winemaker says: "This wine is the finest representation of what our Estate and Sonoma Valley is capable of." For all you California cabernet sauvignon fans, buy a bottle and see for yourself. It's pure California and pure hedonism. There is ample black fruit, dried herb, leather, and oak on the nose. This follows through to the palate, where a seriously delicious mocha note comes into play. The tannin is well integrated but this wine is young, give it a few more years and you're in for a treat! Bacon-wrapped filet mignon please. SRP $45. 14.7% abv.

Thanks to Ed and the folks at Kunde for inviting me. It was nice to reconnect with a familiar brand, and even nicer to see that the wines have gotten better. California is full of great brands, and I'm glad Kunde is now on my radar once more.

These wines were samples for media.

Beau Carufel