Rare find! – Ancient Peaks Winery

Picture owning a large cattle ranch in central California…and one day some big wine conglomerate comes by and wants to buy patches of your land to grow grapes. Three years later, the grapes are finally ready to be turned into wine, but the conglomerate wants to leave – What luck! Buy the land back, and now you have perfectly managed wine fields that are yours for production. This is the lucky story of Ancient Peaks Winery at the Santa Margarita Ranch.

Don’t worry: they are still a cattle ranch too,but now produce a line up of over 8 different wines each growing in 5 different kinds of soils. Each bottle specifies which soil the grapes were grown in the back label. Did I mention that one of their soil types in an ancient sea bed? Picture massive fossilized oyster shells popping up among the grape vines!

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Why is this winery a rare find? The inside scoop is that only 6 different wine shops in the whole state of MA have been presented with the Ancient Peaks wines. We don’t have any information about other states, but so far the number of places to possibly purchase this wine is limited.

So stay on the lookout! If the search doesn’t prove fruitful, check out their online store to see if they ship to your state. Kristen was lucky enough to try their Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Zinfandel.

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Cabernet Sauvignon  

It’s a rare day where I enjoy all of the wines that I try in one sitting. This cabernet was a perfect balance of everything we love about the grape. It wasn’t overly fruity or tart, it was smooth with softer tannins with medium body weight. Showing flavors of dark berries and even very subtle hints of cocoa on the mid palate. Perfect for dinner or just stand alone drinking.

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Merlot 

Now, Merlot I am very skeptical off because normally it is not my favorite grape. But this bottle was wonderfully produced.  It was velvety, rich, with black cherry and plummy notes and it included that signature mocha smell that you can expect from the grape. This bottle advertises that it was grown in the ancient sea bed, which might have something to do with its subdued quality. It’s a must for red meats or even game meats if you want to take the flavor up a notch.

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Zinfandel 

This has to be one of my favorite zinfandels yet. It was juicy, refreshing, quenching, and yet the fruit flavor was controlled in a way that made it enjoyable sip after sip. With bright berry notes in the front and a slight tart and pepper zing at the finish, this wine is a fun ride for your palate and I hope you get the chance to nab this bottle.

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Just in case giant sea shells wasn’t enough of a draw, the next time you are in CA I would recommend stopping by their site. Not only are there cows, a cafe, tasting room, and tours but they now host a 2.5 hour long zip line experience across their property!

Happy Wine Hunting!

Vineyard Header Photo from ancientpeaks.com

A Summer Blush You Can’t Resist!

Hey Wineos, it’s Kristen here!

I want to share a fun wine I found for these last few weeks of summer. I know so many of you red wine lovers out there are counting down the days until rosé season is over, but I have an exciting red summer wine find for you!

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Introducing Tess, the first red wine that can handle the hot summer. Technically, Tess is classified as a ‘blush’ or ‘rosé’ wine. However, it has a much darker hue of red than other wines in its category.

This is because Tess is a blend of red and white grapes, crafted to bring the best characteristics of white grapes and the flavorful aspects of red to the table. THis bottle shouts “Crisp like a white, complex like a red.”  It is even meant to be served chilled!

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Tess, meaning ‘harvest,’ is from a winery founded by two Napa Valley natives who loved experimenting with wine blending as kids on their family’s vineyard. Now the sisters have grown up and started their own winery using their unique wine blend that they invented back in 1987. Check out their website or facebook to learn more.

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I recommend red wine lovers try this label or bring it to parties that are a bit heavy on the traditional rosé craze. The wine is juicy but not heavy on the palate. It bursts with cherry and watermelon flavors but still flirts with the white grape typical apple flavor and light acidity. Tess can range a bit in price depending on the store but traditionally ranges from $18 to $20 a bottle.

Let’s all raise a glass to those fleeting few days of summer. Don’t worry – we here at half past have got you covered in the wine department for the seasons to come.

Cheers!

Tess wine picnic image credit from Tesswine.com

Tess bottle and glass image credit from Tess Winery Facebook or https://www.facebook.com/tess.winery/photos

 

Rosé All Day – Summer Rosé Reviews

Summer is finally here and that means it is the ever confusing, hit or miss season of pink wine aka rosé.

Don’t panic! We have a discovered a few general rules for rosé hunting and we have tried many different styles which we will review below to help you narrow down sea of pink bottles at the liquor store.

Rule #1: 

PINK WINE DOES NOT MEAN IT IS SWEET!!!!!

Rosé got a bad reputation from the California White Zinfandel craze that swept the nation in the US’s early wine making years. Most rosés actually aren’t sweet at all! This is why summer is so hard to work with; most wine store displays have the sugar-sweet rosés mixed in with the traditional dry style wines.

Rule #2

The lighter pink in color, the dryer the wine.

And that means what? If the rose looks barely pink at all and looks more like a tinted Instagram filter, then chances are the wine is made in a dry style. Dry means that nearly all of the sugar in the wine was converted to alcohol and it WILL NOT be sweet. However, there are always some rosés that break this rule, so pick wisely.

Rule #3 

France – the Rosé king of the liquor store- tends to make a lot of rosé, but just so you all know nearly all of them are made in the dry style.

We have tried a few that have hints of sweetness which we will list below but if you like that crisp dry rosé on a hot summers day then turn to France.

Wine Reviews:

Now we have been tasting many rosés this summer so far in order to give you a variety of rosés to choose from at the store. Here are a few winning rosés we found so far.

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Name: Globerati Rosé

Country: Italy

Vintage: 2015

Style: Dry style but hint of sweet

Tasting Notes: Berry blasts of flavor but had a light and smooth mouth-feel, aka ‘body.’

  

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Name: Logis de la Bouchardiere Chinon

Country: France

Vintage: 2015

Style: Dry

Tasting Notes: Refreshing and fruity, just slightly over what I would ‘light body’, slightly tannic.

 

Name: Cote des roses

Country: France

Vintage: 2015

Style: Dry style but hint of sweet

Tasting Notes: Obviously the cute bottle is for cliche pun lovers but the wine inside is actually pretty amazing. It’s the first Dry style rose we have ever loved enough to drink the whole bottle in one sitting. It was a mix of being strawberry fresh and almost grapefruit citrus. It’s a unique flavor that you have to try!

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Name: North by Northwest

Country: USA

Vintage: 2014

Style: Dry style but hint of sweet

Tasting Notes: Soft pops of watermelon and strawberry flavors with a refreshing acidity!

 

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Name: Lila Rosé

Country: France

Vintage: none listed

Style: Dry style

Tasting Notes: There are many ‘wine in a can’ producers out there now but we highly suggest you buy Lila over the others. Why? They have engineered their cans so that the wine is not exposed to metal which prevents that terrible metallic taste. The rosé inside is light and when cold from a cooler its the perfect secret beach drink that leaves after tastes of berries and watermelon but goes down like zesty water. Each can contains 8.4oz so that means the four pack is more than one bottle of 750ml wine!

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Name: Plum Island Rosé

Country: USA

Vintage: none listed

Style: Light Sweetness

Tasting Notes: This MA local Vineyard has mastered the rosé art. Their rosé is a new batch each year and a very limited production but WORTH the drive to vineyard to get it or if you are lucky you might be able to find it at Kappy’s. Its falls in the middle of sweet and dry styles and if full for strawberry and light cherry flavors with hints of watermelon and citrus. The wine will fill you up after a while but its so refreshing that you won’t care.

 

Name: Rosatello Sparkling Rosé

Country: Italy

Vintage: none listed

Style: Sweet!

Tasting Notes: The Italians come in first yet again with their sweet and refreshing spritzy wines. This wine is sweet but not sickeningly so. The flavors are bold ripe dark cherries, raspberries, and wild strawberries. The bubbles reminded us of raspberry gingerale and helped keep the wine crisp on the palate. It’s perfect for that summer bubbly by the water or paired with fresh fruits. Sweet wine lovers we have found the rosé for you!

 

Keep Hunting!

We will continue to post winning rosés on our facebook page throughout the summer so stay tuned for other winning bottles. Reach out to us via facebook or the comment area on the blog to update us on any rosés that you love!!

 

 

 

 

City Wines: Brooklyn Oenology

When you think of Brooklyn, wine isn’t likely to be the first thing to pop into your mind. You’re probably imagining busy city sidewalks, a community of urban culture, or a land of creative writers and artists. Well, Brooklyn Oenology manages to combine all of these things into their vibrant wine collection, representing the local culture of Brooklyn through their variety of NY-grown wines.

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We had the pleasure of meeting BOE at the Boston Wine Expo, and later sampling two of their wines: their 2014 Cabernet Franc Rosé and 2014 Social Club Wine (both perfect for the spring and summer!). We were intrigued by the idea of a wine from the center of a city – and the way the wine labels represented the local culture.

The BOE Story

BOE’s wines are like a love song to New York: the grapes are all grown in the Finger Lakes and Long Island (yes, Long Island makes wine – who knew?) regions, and the labels feature artwork from local Brooklyn artists. The labels are not only gorgeous representations of local talent, but also provide information on the artist and the medium they used, serving to promote local creative work.

 

But now let’s talk about the wines!

Social Club White

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We had the pleasure of tasting BOE’s popular white blend, coming in at around 50% Chardonnay, 15% Riesling (there’s that Finger Lakes taste we love!), and 35% other assorted whites. Stainless steel barrels maintained the body and taste of Chardonnay without the buttery flavors that could possibly overpower the other whites. The wine offers a delicious experience on the pallet, transitioning from a slightly sweeter taste to a medium-acidic finish.

The wine was named for its “easy-drinking,” making it a wine you can sip on socially with friends either with or without food. Social Club White boasts flavors of pear, pineapple and light citrus. We recommend this wine for exactly what its title suggests: casual, social drinking!

Cabernet Franc Rosé

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This rosé has an interesting story: the unusually cold weather of 2014 caused a much lower yield of the Cabernet Franc grapes than anticipated. These bottles are the surviving grapes! The rosé is light, crisp, and dry, proving to be an ideal drink for the warmer days to come. This salmon-colored wine gives a sweet berry aroma and is fruit-forward.

We detected flavors of watermelon and lime, proving to be a perfect pair for a summer BBQ. Don’t forget to chill it for that refreshing acidic pop on the palate.

Want to learn more about BOE and their wines?

Check out BOE at facebook.com/pages/BrooklynOenology or on Twitter @bklynoenology.

If you’re wondering where to find BOE near you, you can contact BOE at 718-599-1259 or info@brooklynoenology.com

Cheers!

 

 

Award Winning Rosé: Mill River Winery

Looking for a sweet and calming way to start or end your day? Take a trip down to Mill River Winery, a quaint and rustic winery with well-priced wine tastings and – most importantly – an adorable black lab/pitbull mascot to greet you at the door.

Last week, the girls from Half Past Wine-O-Clock decided there’s nothing wrong with a wine tasting before work as they traveled to Mill River Winery in Rowley, MA. The winery is the perfect mixture of a nick-nack store and a wine tasting room, offering two experiences worthy of both short and longer visits.

The store was positively adorable, featuring several different sections including fall-themed drinks and wine-related trinkets, homemade pastas and jams and – of course – a great holiday display complete with wine-themed tacky sweaters and winter stocking stuffers.

However, our main interest was in the wine.

The wines were lined up on one wall, while the tasting bar featured a synthetic, uneven block of wood to add the rustic feel. For $7 each, we tasted two flights: the Mill River and Plum Island (the sweeter of the two).

You can see the color difference in the Mill River vs. Plum Island wines in both whites and reds:

Would you believe that pale white on the right is an unoaked Chardonnay, while the darker yellow is a Riesling? The reds feature their Petite Shiraz (left) and Plum Island Red (right). One is both visually lighter and physically sweeter than the other.

Our favorite had to be their very own award-winning rosé, from the Plum Island flight. It had enough body and flavor to stand on its own, yet was sweet enough that it still represented its rose genre well. After months of searching for a rosé, that was neither watered down or sickeningly sweet, this wine was the perfect match for us!

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We look forward to the great things soon to come from this winery as well, especially the new wines soon-to-be-released with their very own, home-grown grapes! Check out the image below of their vines:

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Kristen spotted these on our way in, and was very impressed.

Anyone local to the Northshore Massachusetts area is encouraged to check out Mill River Winery, if only to peek at the shop or try a taste of their Gold Medal Rosé!

 

Cheers!

 

 

How Ros(é) Can you Go?

A few days ago, we had an epic Rosé showdown between two wines we found at our favorite local wine store, Pamplemousse. One wine, La Cuvée des Annibals, was selected by a helpful worker. In an odd pitch, he insisted we should buy it because he didn’t like it. “It was too sweet,” he said, “but if you prefer sweet wines, it’s perfect for you.” Paula, who is newer to wine, was especially excited by the word sweet. Kristen decided to select Buttonwood, a Syrah Rosé wine that included her favorite grape. As you can see in the picture below, there was a visual disparity that revealed which of the two was the sweeter rosé. Both, however, featured appealing bottle design, which we warned about in this previous post. 11651035_10207137044610393_1755615613_n Despite the color and design of our cute elephant wine, it is based in California and merely mimics French labeling and style. Either way, it wasn’t as sweet as advertised. Rather, it tasted a bit like…water. At least, enough that we ended up feeding more of it to the bushes than to ourselves. All three of us found it to be flavorless, and Kristen couldn’t even justify using it for cooking. On the other hand, the Buttonwood had a bit more flavor. We could taste the fruity Syrah flavor and appreciated the medium-light body of the wine. This Rose had a smooth finish that left the aftertaste of red fruits like berries and red apples. It was refreshing and tangy which made it a great summer heat pairing. rose-wheel http://vinepair.com/wine-blog/10-shades-of-rose-wine/ This wine adventure revealed to us that we as a group prefer wines that have distinguishable body and stronger flavors. Lighter Rosés are definitely someone else’s cup of tea, but Kristen is a strong believer that a wine can be great if paired with the right food. Perhaps all we needed was tasting snacks with our lighter elephant wine but for now, we are definitely leaning towards a wine that has something to say.

Kristen: 1

Briana: 1

Paula: 1

Average rating: 1

A Journey to a Wine Castle: Kristen’s Italian Wine Tour

Our team’s designated wine expert, Kristen, spent several weeks of her spring touring Italian vineyards and sampling
various authentic Italian wines in their very own home villages. Her favorite was Castello Banfi, home to the vineyards that supply this New York-owned wine company.

Giant barrels lined the inside of the winery, filled with wine, gracefully aging before it would be transported to a smaller barrel moved out. Inside the winery, Kristen observed several art installations that complemented the old-age, artistic vibe that the winery exudes. The halls presented mosaics made of broken shards of wine bottles, and promiscuous marble statues that drew a giggle from the students’ inner child.

Kristen and her wine Soldiers in the Banfi Basement
Kristen and her wine Soldiers in the Banfi Basement

Afterward, the students were led to the Banfi Castle for a six course meal. Yes, I said six course. And each course was served with wine – a full glass of wine. Kristen and her chefs joked about sneaking their food home (wondering how to transport a bowl of soup via purse, for instance) and were – for perhaps the first time – unable to finish all of their wine.

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But at the end of the day, Kristen found Aurora, and that’s what matters. After touring and dining in the castle, Kristen found a wine reminding her of a favorite Disney princess called Rosa Regale (Royal Rose).

Her Highness
Her Highness

So, of course she had to buy it. And thank goodness she did; we’ve since bought several bottles of it in American liquor stores because it’s so good. Made from 100% Brachetto grapes, it’s sweet and fizzy but not heavy on the palate and (at least for me) difficult to savor through small sips because it’s so delicious. The wine has such a unique flavor that it is fabulous on its own but can be paired with food that can hold up to sweeter wines. For example, it makes tomato sauces taste sweeter and compliments spices. Typically, a bottle of Banfi Rosa Regale goes around $18.00-$22.00 in the US. It is sold in four sizes, from small to large we have 187ml, 375ml, the standard 750ml, and the larger 1.5L. If you click the Rosa Regale link above, the website offers wedding deals, cocktail recipes, many pictures, and even a link to the official Banfi blog.