Stellekaya Cabernet Sauvignon

Vintage: 2012 Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon | Region: Stellenbosch| Price: $30

If you don’t know about Stellekaya Wines then you’ll definitely want to take notes. They produce one of the best collection of affordable red wines that I’ve ever tasted. Every label is unique and overwhelming good. Stellekaya is a privately owned boutique wine producer located in the heart of the Cape Winelands in South Africa. All of their grapes are sourced from the town of Stellenbosch. And guess who is the winemaker behind these wines? A woman by the name of Ntsiki Biyela, who just happens to be the first black woman winemaker in South Africa.

Biyela studied viticulture and oenology at Stellenbosch University. After graduation, she was hired as a winemaker for Stellekaya Wines in 2004. Her first red wine won a gold medal at the Michelangelo awards. Five years later she was named as South Africa’s Woman Winemaker of the Year.

For the last couple of years, Biyela has come to Houston to host tastings and private dinners. In 2016, I was fortunate to meet her in person (see photo below) and try all of her amazing red wines. One of my favorites is her Cabernet Sauvignon, which I’m sharing on the blog today.

Ty’s Takeaways…

First, I want to start with the production of this Cab. The grapes are hand harvested in granite-rich soil in the cool climate of Stellenbosh. Then, they are cooled and go through the maceration process to extract the color and capture its fruit flavors prior to fermentation. This wine was matured in french oak for 24 months before it was bottled in March 2014 and then bottle-aged for another year before its official release.

This full-bodied red is 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. It has aromas of red fruits with a little bit of cocoa. The flavors are bold and intense. You taste berries with some earthy undertones of smoked cedar. There is a nice balance between the fruit flavors acidity, and wood character—making for a very mature wine.

Rating: 4 Corks

Sip, Chug, or Cork It? 

Definitely a wine that you want to sip and enjoy. This wine is not to be rushed. If you live in Houston, Stellekaya Wines are available at the Kroger on Westheimer near Briar Forest and are also sold at various restaurants in the city. For those not in Houston, check your local wine retailer.

Today, Biyela has her own wine business called Alsina Wines. Alsina is the name of her grandmother who remains her inspiration today. She currently has three wines available:

  • 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon,
  • 2015 Umsasane (a Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc and petit Verdot blend)
  • 2015 Sauvignon Blanc

I can’t wait to try her new wines, but in the mean time check out Stellekaya if you’re looking for a good red. You won’t regret it! Until next time….glasses up!

Arterberry Maresh Pinot Noir

Oregon Pinor Noir

Vintage: 2015|Varietal: Pinot Noir | Region: Oregon | Price: $25

Baby, it’s cold outside! I can’t believe that it’s snowing in Houston for the second time in literally a month. I’ve lived in Houston for almost six years now and this is pretty exciting for the California girl who has only experienced snow three times now in her lifetime. Nothing says “snow day” like curling up on the couch in front of the fireplace with your favorite glass of wine. Now, I may not have a fireplace anymore, but definitely found this new Pinot Noir to get me through what some are deeming snowpocalypse. I purchased this bottle at 13 Celsius’ end-of-year sale last month. I love Oregon Pinot Noir, so it was only right that I bless this cold, frigid night with the best.

Ty’s Takeaways…

Now this Pinot Noir is from the Dundee Hills of Willamette Valley in Oregon. I wasn’t familiar with the Dundee Hills, but found out that it’s actually located south of Portland and encompasses 6,490 acres. Apparently, the Dundee Hill is where Oregon Pinot Noir won its worldwide reputation for greatness.

With this Pinot, you’ll find ripe, dark red, fruit on the nose with accents of citrus fruit and a subtle smokiness. True to its form, this Pinot is light and silky smooth in structure. On the palate you’ll get dark cherry and plum fruits with very little tannins. That’s why if you’re opposed to reds, I always recommend Pinot Noir as a good transition red. It’s boldness in fruit flavors always outweighs the dryness you get with other reds like Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots.

Rating: 4 Corks

Sip, Chug, or Cork It? 

I’d definitely sip this Pinot Noir, whether it was a cold or warm day. This Pinot gets my vote all year long! It’s so light and refreshing. Once again, Oregon definitely knows how to make a great Pinot Noir. Thank you for never letting me down!

It’s an Italian Wine Kinda Week

PerbaccoThis week, I visited an Italian restaurant called Perbacco in downtown Houston. Their food is actually really good if you ever get a chance to stop by. For this occasion, I was actually there doing some research for next week’s post, but decided to review some of their wines as well.

I must say that I haven’t really explored Italian wines much. I read that Italy is home to some of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world and grapes are grown in almost every region of the country. Plus, there are more than one million vineyards under cultivation. Italy is definitely on my list of countries to visit this year (hopefully).

So, what did I drink? I decided to try a Pinot Noir (pictured center) and a Chianti (pictured right). Two very different wines that are worth discussing.

Ty’s Takeaways…

2016 Cavit Pinot Noir
It’s no secret that Pinot Noir is my favorite red wine! I normally go for Pinots that are from the Willamette Valley region of Oregon, so I was looking forward to trying this one. This has 100 percent Pinot Noir grapes that were harvested in the hilly areas throughout Provincia di Pavia in Italy. It was hard to get a good sense of the aromas because they filled the wine practically to the brim (which I’m not mad at), but it does make it hard for the aromas to open up. Like you really care about that though. Anyways, to say that this Pinot is light-bodied is an understatement. It felt like air on my tongue. The flavors carried very well on the palate too. I found it to be very fruit forward with its red cherry and berry flavors. Its velvety smooth texture makes it appealing and easy to savor.

Rating: 3.5 Corks

2016 Rigoletto Chianti
This Chianti is made with 90 percent Sangiovese grapes and 10  Merlot grapes. It is a well-balanced wine of medium weight with jammy flavors of ripe plums, cherries and red fruit. It has a deep crimson color and is a lively wine with a soft mineral finish and a bit of a tannin flavor that lingers for long, peppery finish.

Rating: 3 Corks

Sip, Chug, or Cork It?

I’d sip the Pinot Noir and cork the Chianti. I really enjoyed the Pinot, although it wasn’t one of my favorites. It was everything a Pinot should be…light, vibrant, and full of fruit flavors. The Chianti on the other hand, I could do without. It was too dry for my liking. I’d need to try a couple more Chiantis before I officially remove it from my wine list. 

You want to know something that’s kind of annoying? Both of these wines are under $15 a bottle AND I probably paid about $7 for the glass. Talk about a real mark-up! I probably wouldn’t add any of these into my real rotation, but if you’re looking for a quick pick-up and something less expensive for a Friday night or small gathering, I’d recommend these. Until next week…glasses up!

 

 

Altra Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

Altra

Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon | Region: Rutherford | Price: $44

Day three of the new year and I have to admit that I’m a little very nervous about writing this post. Feeling a bit rusty in my writing after my hiatus, but here it goes…

So, what am I drinking? I have a bunch of new wines that I purchased at 13 Celsius’ End of Year sale, but decided to go with a red that’s been nestled in my wine rack for a while now. The Altra cab was actually a gift from one of my cousins. I remember being surprised when I saw the price. Most people I know don’t gift that high. Even I’m not buying $40 wines unless they’re rare and I know that I can’t find it at a local wine store. Anyways, I assumed this cab had to be good and decided to hold on to it for a special occasion. What better occasion than my blogging comeback. Oh, and it’s the three year anniversary of YGOM. I’ve been holding on to this red for about three years as well, so I feel like all my reasons for selecting this wine are aligning. Let’s see if I was right.

Ty’s Takeaways…

Altra is a boutique winery in Napa Valley, California. This red is 100 percent cabernet sauvignon. Upon opening the bottle, the aromas jump out immediately. I smelled hints of blackberries and red cherries. The flavors also packed a powerful punch. When I took my first sip, I was greeted by these overbearing tannins.

giphy-2

Whew! I wasn’t ready for that.

Now, I’m not opposed to reds with a little tannic aftertaste, but this cab gave it all away in the first sip. That’s why I recommend letting this cab “relax, relate, release” just a bit before drinking.

Just let it breathe!

You can do this by pouring the wine in a decanter to let the wine aerate and open up the flavors. If you don’t have a decanter, just pour the wine in a glass and let it breathe for about 15 minutes (experts say 1-2 hours, but nobody has time for that). Once I let the wine sit for a minute, the tannins weren’t so off-putting and I was able to give the cab a fair try.

The Altra cab is full-bodied and very smooth on the palate. It’s a bit oaked with hints of peppery spice coupled with rich, dark berry flavors. This time the tannins were more noticeable on the backend (where they belong).

Rating: 3 corks

Sip, Chug, or Cork It? 

I didn’t love the Altra cab nor did I hate it. It was kinda meh to me.

It was a little too bold for me. I prefer more light-to-medium bodied reds. And the mix of flavors really didn’t leave a lasting impression with me either.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to finish the bottle. But, I’d say this red is more for easy drinking around the house. It’s a nice cab to curl up on the couch with and read a book.

The Altra cab that I tried was from 2010. So, they may not have this vintage anymore if you decide to go out and buy it. Altra actually makes a white and red blend that I’d be interested in trying. Anyways, let me know if you happen to pick up this red. I’d be curious to know your thoughts. Until next time…glasses up!

Suite Four Sparkling Wine

Varietal: Unknown | Region: California | Retailer: Suite Four | Price: $19.99

Having a week off before I start my new job has been pure heaven! It has afforded me long overdue “ME TIME” and allowed me to catch up on much needed reading (sike!) wine drinking. I finally got a chance to try the new Suite Four sparkling wine. Last summer, Suite Four was founded by Cyrina Yarbrough, a Cali native now living the D.C. life, in an effort to create an unpretentious wine that millennials could drink whether it’s in a fancy flute or in a red solo cup.

And that’s what initially drew me to Cyrina’s story when we first connected a couple of months ago. She get’s it! Everything about wine doesn’t have to be formal. With Suite Four, Cyrina has created a universal wine that anyone can enjoy no matter what stage you’re in on your wine journey. I applaud her determination to break into the wine industry and re-define the preconceived notions of how wine should be experienced. Let’s keep it real…you don’t have to travel to every wine region or be well versed in wine lingo to appreciate good wine.

Ty’s Takeaways…

I honestly didn’t know what to expect with this sparkling wine. I was just praying that it wouldn’t be sweet! I decided to save Suite Four for a special occasion. So, when I got my ah-mazing, new job offer, I knew it was time to pop open this bubbly.

First off, I was in a rush to drink this wine after an unsettling week at work, so I put it in the freezer to chill for a minute couple hours…oops, my bad. I accidentally left it in too long, so it had a bit of a slushy consistency to it, which turned out to be super delicious! So quick side note, Suite Four is also good slightly frozen :) But, I digress…let me get back to my review.

The moment I took a sip, I knew that Suite Four and I were going to be best friends. Yessssss!! It was an instant connection. That Pam and Gina, Meredith Grey and Christina Yang closer than close type of friendship. I immediately wanted to celebrate!

Maybe it was because I had over-chilled the wine, but I found it to be very crisp and refreshing. Suite Four may also work for a nice summertime spritzer this year. Anyways, after drinking this wine, I felt like I had been invited in on a little secret and wanted to share with others. I wanted someone else to feel what I was feeling in that very moment.

The aromas of this sparkling wine are soft and sweet. It reminded me of Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider. On the palate, you get flavors of green apple and peach, with hints of honey and vanilla. I was happy to discover that this was not a sweet sparkling wine, but it also wasn’t completely dry either. It has the perfect balance, with the bold fruit flavors taking center stage. Plus, the wine gives off this nice effervescence, that turns this wine into a great dance party in your mouth. Hence, why this sparkling wine was the perfect choice to celebrate this next season in my life!

Rating: 4 Corks

Sip, Chug, or Cork It? 

Cyrina has definitely accomplished her goal of creating an affordable wine that millennials can truly appreciate! But, please note that you don’t have to be in your 20’s or 30’s to enjoy this wine! Suite Four is double-fisting sip-worthy.

If there was ever a wine anthem for celebrations, Suite Four would be the official representative. Trust, you won’t want to put this wine down. It’s that good!

**I received a complimentary bottle of Suite Four sparkling wine. All opinions are my own.