Earth Day Wine Selections

Earth Day is April 22 and it's time to start thinking of ways to celebrate.  What better way to enjoy the sustainable fruits of our Earth than with wine?  I have four wines for you, each from a distinct place which represent a deep commitment to environmental stewardship and community care, the essence of Earth Day!

- Protea Chenin Blanc ($14.99). I hate to start with my favorite but here goes.  This wine is amazing as both an easy drinker and possessing some mid-weightiness.  It has some acidity, making it great for food pairing, but the flavors are lush with honey and tropical melons.  Even cooler, the grapes are grown without training on "bush vines", sprawling about Franschhoek Valley all natural-like and growing some amazing fruit.  To take it one step further, the packaging is made to be upcycled and you'll be sure to argue not only who over who gets to keep the bottle but what to do with it later!

- Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Chardonnay ($21.99).  Made entirely of estate fruit on the Chilean Coastal Range just 15 miles from the Pacific, bathed in sunshine and buffeted by cool ocean breezes.  Certified organic and biodynamic farming capture all the site has to offer.  A fabulous example of what the varietal can do when made in a classic style with preserved natural acidity and light oak.

- Loveblock Pinot Noir ($35.99).  The fruit is grown in the furthest southern reaches of the world of wine on the Someone's Darling Vineyard, which is accredited through New Zealand Winegrowers' Sustainable Winegrowing program (SWNZ).  Five clones of Pinot Noir are combined to make lovable, smokey and floral aromatics along with ripe berry and herbal notes.

- Tangley Oaks Merlot ($14.99).  This winery has a partnership with Lamanda Joy (Master Gardener) and is on a mission to preserve and strengthen communities across the US through community gardening.  That, along with the fact this wine is a great bargain from Napa Valley, makes it an Earth Day no-brainer.

Tangley Oaks Wines

home11I have been a fan of Anthony Terlato and his company, Terlato Wines International (TWI), for my entire wine career.  I have respected him as a member of the Italian American community, a wine enthusiast, his business savvy, and am currently reading his memoir entitled "Taste".  It is also great to see one of Chicago's own on the international wine scene.  I recently contacted TWI, hoping for an interview with Mr. Terlato, and I was informed he is staying at his estate in Napa Valley, but will be available in the spring (stay tuned for the interview!).  In the meantime, they wanted the Windy City Wine Guy to review their Tangley Oaks wines.The Tangley Oaks wines were created to give wine newcomers a "luxury" line of wines from select vineyards in Napa Valley and Santa Barbara County at an affordable price ($15-20).  They are name after Mr. Terlato's Tangley Oaks Estate  in Lake Bluff, IL., and meant to offer value and reflect the terroir of their respective regions.  TWI offers three different varietals, and here is how they rate:

  • 2005 Tangley Oaks Chardonnay Lot #3.  A light golden color gives way to smells of honey cream and golden apple.  Flavors of ripe pears and apples, slightly charred oak, cinnamon and vanilla spices.  A full body and a medium length.  This is a very nice chardonnay for the price, without all the typical California oak.  88 pts. WG

  • 2005 Tangley Oaks Merlot Lot #7.  Very light ruby color with a very cherry bouquet: cherrywood, cherry pie, cherry cough syrup, cherries!  The tannins are very light, making an extremely easy drinking wine.  The texture is smooth with a flavor profile consistent with the bouquet, but with a touch of cocoa.  I like a bit more from my Merlots, and the length was lacking.  82 pts. WG

  • 2005 Tangley Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon Lot #9.  The color was a bit more intense on this red, with purple on the meniscus.  Smells of sugar plums, cedar, and potpourri were clearly evident.  Medium tannic grip on the gums gave way to juicy plum and cherry flesh, along with some tobacco on its medium finish.  Another easy drinking wine, but with a bit more structure and body.  85 pts. WG

These wines offer some definite value, as it can be hard to find vineyard specific Napa Valley reds in this price range.  The chardonnay was my favorite, and can see myself having it with some lemon marinated grilled bass.  Overall, a pleasing experience.  A hint from the WCWG in regard to Terlato wines: you have to try Terlato & Chapoutier Shiraz- Viognier.  The winery itself is a joint effort by the Chapoutier (of French Rhône fame) and Terlato families in Australia.  The grapes for the Shiraz (95%) Viognier (5%) come from central Victoria, and the wine exhibits excellent dark fruit flavor, spice, and body to go with its rich, dark color.  It retails for around $19, making it a great buy.  

Try one of these wines, or some of the many in TWIs portfolio- over 13% of all wines priced over $14 in the US are marketed by Terlato!