Friday, March 7, 2014

Wines that take the cake, are as easy as pie, or sound like something else spelled out.

There are all sorts of cake and pie-themed wines on the market these days, like those from Cake Wines, Birthday Cake Vineyards, Cakebread Cellars, Cupcake Vineyards, Cielo Woodstock Collection's HoneyPie, and Trader Joe’s Suagr Pie Red Wine. 

In addition to this list of cake/pie wines are a few noteworthy selections from Hundred Acre owner Jayson Woodbridge and partner Chris Radomski. They have cake and pie names too--Layer Cake and Cherry Pie.  And then there's the cleverly named "if you see kay" wine.
I just sampled these wines and although I'm probably not in the right demographic for the labels and names, the wines were very interesting and enjoyable. Some of them may be poured at the upcoming Simply Wine Festival in Westlake Village.  I'd be interested in tasting Layer Cake's 2011 Primitivo too.
I'm generally a fan of red wines, so I enjoyed tasting this selection of reds, and then re-tasting them!  Eventually, I ranked them as follows:

1) 2011 Cherry Pie Pinot Noir, Stanly Ranch, Carneros, Napa Valley
2) 2011 If You See Kay, Cabernet Sauvignon Blend, Lazio, Italy
3) 2012 Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon, California
4) 2012 Layer Cake Shiraz, South Australia
5) 2012 Layer Cake Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
6) 2012 Cherry Tart Pinot Noir, Napa Valley


And this was before considering their prices!

Creative label graphics can be fun, like those from Brian Benson Cellars, but in my view, the Cherry Pie label looks like Betty Crocker gone bad, the Layer Cake label is sort of B&W generic looking, and the 'if you see kay' label looks a little toxic. These labels are probably appealing for the Millennial market or for anyone else who shops for wine by labels.

Winery notes and my observations after I tasted these wines are ...

2011 Cherry Pie Pinot Noir, Stanly Ranch, Carneros, Napa Valley
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Appellation: 100% Carneros, Napa Valley
Cooperage: 100% French Oak, 30% New
Alcohol: 14.5%

Like it says in the tasting notes, the Cherry Pie Pinot Noir is deep and concentrated and has a prominent flavor of dark Bing cherries. 
I thought this was a real winner! Yes, there were definitely cherry flavors in this Pinot Noir, and if you're OK that, then this is the wine for you.
$49.99

2012 Cherry Tart Pinot Noir, Napa Valley
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Appellations: 49% Sonoma Coast; 43% Monterey County; 8% Santa Barbara County
Cooperage: 100% French Oak, 20% New
Alcohol: 14.3%
Winemaker Jayson Woodbridge uses a “micro fermentation” technique on Cherry Pie and he applies it to three vineyards for this wine. The majority of grapes are from Rodgers Creek Vineyard in Sonoma Coast and the others are from the Alta Loma Vineyard in the Monterey County and the Los Alamos vineyard in Santa Barbara County.
I found the Cherry Tart Pinot Noir to have aromas of cloves and flavors of cherry and red plum, with a noticeable level of acidity. 

$19.99

2012 Layer Cake Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina 
Varietal: 100% Mendoza, Argentina
Appellations: 100% Malbec
Cooperage: 100% French oak, 40% new
Alcohol: 14.2%
Layer Cake Malbec is grown at the base of the Andes and ripens four to six weeks longer than other vineyards which improves the wine’s quality. The flavors I picked up on included blackberries, tar and leather. I usually like Malbec, but I'd have to taste this side-by-side with a few other Malbecs to tell if it is a good example of this style.
$16.99

2012 Layer Cake Shiraz, South Australia 

Varietal: 100% Pure Shiraz
Appellations: McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley
Cooperage: 100% French oak, 40% new
Alcohol: 14.9%

I enjoyed this Shiraz with its very rich blackberry and dark cherry flavors from the McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley vineyards. And it's a great wine for pairing with BBQ!
$16.99

2012 Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon, California
 
Varietal: 100% Pure Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellations: 100% California appellation (Paso Robles and Alexander Valley)
Cooperage: 100% French oak that has been air dried for 36 months; 30% new
Alcohol: 13.5%

This cab is a nice blend of Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley with its flavors of chocolate-covered cherries and the rich, dense black fruit aromas from Paso Robles. I can vouch for the fact that the wine's complex flavor combined with its tannins allows it to pair well with blue cheese. Yum.
$14.99


2011 If You See Kay, Cabernet Sauvignon Blend, Lazio, Italy   
An Italian IGT red blend that is rich in color and body this wine combines Cabernet with some Primitivo and Petite Verdot.
And although Chris' wife is named Kay, I'm not sure whether the person on the label is supposed to be her or not. Despite the strange label this Italian wine was a very good blend!  Read more about the label here.
$14.99

So, what does all of this mean? I give these labels a great deal of credit, the wines taste very good and are generally not very expensive.  Spring for the Cherry Pie Pinot Noir if you like a prominent cherry flavor, try the Layer Cake Shiraz with BBQ, and buy a case of the IYSK red for any time you want an Italian Cab  blend (as long as it's not for some church event).

If these wines are anything like what I'll be tasting at the Simply Wine Festival it should be a great time.  See you next Friday!

WHERE:
Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village‎
2 Dole Drive
Westlake Village, CA 91362
(818) 575-3000

WHEN:
Friday, March 14, 2014
7:00-11:00 pm


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