Oh Stepping Stone Corralina, how I adore you. You guessed it, it’s rose weather! Here in San Francisco, summer comes, summer goes. The fog is here, the fog isn’t here. We’re decidedly schizophrenic this year. That said, one of my favorite things about the warm weather is rosé! No longer the sweet wines of the 70s and 80s, these dry summer sippers are made from Syrah, Pinot, Cabernet – even Sangiovese. Rosé comes in all hues, and all flavor profiles. This one, however, is special. I have tasted several vintages of the Stepping Stone by Cornerstone Corralina Rose of Syrah in the past, and this by far is my favorite. The delicate strawberry notes are surprising in a Syrah rose, and if I didn’t know better I might have mistaken this for a Tavel or Bandol wine from the south of France. This bone dry wine also has hints of lemon, nutmeg and rose petals, which carry over to the long watermelon filled finish. Love occurs at first pour, when the fruit aromas jump out of the glass and gracefully fall down your palate in a watercolor wash of fruit. This is a perfect summer wine, and would go well with fish, grilled chicken, or burgers. $20 and well worth it! Happy sipping! Google
In land far away, on a hill steeply above the valley, lies a secret place in Capay Valley called Casey Flat Ranch. Located at 2000 feet above sea level in the Vaca Mountains, between Napa Valley and the Central Valley, the area was originally settled in the late 1850s during the Gold Rush. Now, a new rush is on – both for sustainable organic produce, and wine. The Capay Valley AVA was established in 2002, which is somewhat surprising with only two vineyards: Casey Flat Ranch and Capay Vineyards. The 150 square miles of Capay Valley has only 100 acres under vine, with it’s primary resource being agriculture. The produce from Capay is legendary, and many an urban CSA gets it’s offerings from this area. While Capay Valley has had wineries since the Gold Rush, the pressure from neighboring Napa all but killed the wine industry out until recently. With Casey Flat Ranch being established in 1987 as a Texas Longhorn cattle ranch, vineyards were only added in 2004, initially as an experiment. Why not? If Napa could have all that success a mere 22 miles away, why not here? Lucky for us, this experiment yielded beautiful results! Focusing on Bordeaux and Rhone varietals, Casey Flat Ranch produces Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah Rose, Viognier, and an Estate Red blend. It’s sister label, Open Range, produces Sav Blanc and a red blend as well. Winemaker Laura Barrett is an exciting, young women winemaker, who started her career in New Zealand. Receiving her Masters in Enology from neaby UC Davis, Laura joined Casey Flat Ranch in 2008. When you arrive at the base of the mountain, it is clear that you are not in traditional wine country any more. This is cattle country! Expecting cowboys to come meandering down the hillside, we were greeted by the 2013 Estate Syrah Rosé instead. This bright and fresh rosé is a lovely alternative to pinot noir rose, and is bursting with blood orange, red berry, and fresh, juicy peaches. It’s got a lushness and fullness of body that just makes my heart go pitter patter! I love a Syrah rose, and this was no exception. At $18, it’s a great front porch sipper, and perfect for barbeques. Once at the top of the mountain, at the luxe ranch house, we were eagerly waiting for our lunch, prepared specifically to pair with the wines by Thomas McNaughton, executive chef of SF cult hotspots flour + water, Central Kitchen, and Salumeria. Swoon! Our first course of a Spring Vegetable Salad was perfectly paired with the 2013 Sav Blanc. The crisp, tropical refresher with strong floral and herbal notes. Fermentation is started in tanks, and neutral barrels and stainless steel barrels age the wine sur lie. Next up, King Salmon with the 2013 Viognier. On a warm day, the light and refreshing Viognier has stone fruit up front, Golden Delicious apples, and beautiful minerality under the fruit. This was Casey Flat Ranch’s second single varietal bottling, and I think they did a wonderful job with the 50% neutral […]
Happy August! Yesterday, I woke up to a sun soaked downtown San Francisco view, and today the fog is blowing in like a mist off Captain Jack Sparrow’s Black Pearl, scourge of the seven seas. Ah that is the life of a Bay Area wine drinker. These week, I’m pleased to remind my readers of a an old tradition here at Luscious Lushes. Wine Blogging Wednesday, which has been on life support in a coma, is officially welcomed back with a summer sipper’s favorite: Dry rose. From pale pink or barely blush, to deep and brooding, rose comes in all colors and hues. Yes, it can be sweet, much to my chagrin, but more often it is dry, crisp, and refreshing. Here are some of my perennial favorites! 2012 Rose of Pinot noir – $21 On my list for the second time, this beauty is always in my fridge. The palest salmon pink, this rose has bright red fruit, cherry, and floral notes. Finish of crushed raspberries and watermelon. It’s way to easy to drink a bottle of this on a warm day! Mounts Family Winery – 2012 Rose of Grenache – $16 – How can you beat an affordable, light, beautiful rose? Get some, get some today! 2012 Corralina Napa Valley Syrah Rose – $20 he delicate strawberry notes are surprising in a Syrah rose, and if I didn’t know better I might have mistaken this for a Tavel or Bandol wine from the south of France. This bone dry wine also has hints of lemon, nutmeg and rose petals, which carry over to the long watermelon filled finish. Ellipsis 2011 Rose of Pinot Noir – $22 – This rose shows the love they have for the region. Darker in color but not in flavor, this lovely summer sipper is full of red berry, pomegranate, and a touch of vanilla cream. I could sip this every day this summer and not get sick of it! Perfect for an afternoon, or perhaps with some salmon, it’s great on it’s own or also with food. Go check out some of these winners! Google
I’ve been a long time friend, and fan, of the wines of Cornerstone Napa. With a wide range of both classic Napa Cabernet Sauvignons, as well as the newest addition, Cornerstone Oregon, they have made their mark on the wine business producing distinctive wines with style. In comes the renegade second label, Stepping Stone. Every bit the equal of Cornerstone, Stepping Stone gives room to play, both with styles, but varietals. Producing single varietal wines like my favorite Cabernet Franc, as well as blends like the delicious summer sipper Corralina Rose, these wines are affordable, tasty, and fun. One of the best things to come out of Stepping Stone is the Cornerstone Rocks! series. Created to be a fun, irreverent, and everyday enjoyers, these two unique blends take a detour to the North Coast, creating two distinctive blends that literally do, rock. The 2011 Stepping Stone White Rocks is a fascinating blend of Chardonnay and Gewurtraminer. When I first opened the bottle, the unexpected floral notes of the gewertz floated up with honeysuckle, nutmeg, and musk melon. On the first sip, the tropical lushness and citrus of the chard pokes it’s head out with a crisp, clean finish. At only $18, this is a great bottle to bring to that BBQ or dinner party. The slight honey sweetness from the gewertz would make it great pairing with Indian or Thai as well! Yum! The 2010 Stepping Stone North Coast Red Rocks is a fun little blend of Zin, Syrah and Merlot. Something you don’t see often, this zippy little number is a spice cone of cherries jubilee, with cracked black pepper on top. The syrah lends itself to some meaty notes hiding under the fruit of the merlot and zin, but they blend together beautifully. This is a playful wine, and is an easy quaffer. Another steal at $18, this wine got better and better as the night (and the next day) went on. The fun with this is that it goes to show you – if you don’t like a wine, wait a while. Let it breathe. Run it through a Soiree. Decant it. You will be surprised at the results! Another trick I have learned is that the glass makes a difference. Yes, there are glasses and there are glasses. I really only have two main types: Pinot Noir glasses and everything else. That said, a small, inexpensive tasting glass collected from one of a dozen or so events will not do every wine justice. Invest in some affordable Bordeaux glasses. I personally love the Connoisseur Series from Cost Plus, which are made by Spiegelau (owned by Riedel). Through this tangled chain, these $5 stems are the right shape and the right thickness. Bonus – if you break them like I do, you won’t cringe! Both of these blends are unique every year, and are only made in limited quantities. The blends and the flavor profiles are only limited by the creativity of the winemaker. These wines are pure fun. You don’t need to study them, you don’t need to […]
It’s summer! Full fledged, off the hook summer. Even here in San Francisco, where it’s often foggy and cold on the 4th of July, we have sunshine . While the f-o-g is threatening to blow in and spoil the fireworks, you can enjoy these summer sippers as you celebrate. Think pink! Rose has gone All American and is no longer just from Provence (though they make some fantastic ones there too). Rose of Pinot noir – $19 (tasting room only but I highly suggest you buy a cold bottle and sit on their patio). Palest salmon pink. Beautiful bright summer strawberry, stone fruit, and floral notes. Finish of crushed raspberries and watermelon. It’s way to easy to drink a bottle of this on a warm day! Grenache Rose – $18 Ridiculously delicious. I first tasted this as the 2012 Pink Out, an all rose tasting event. 100% Grenache, this Dry Creek gem is the color of a baby’s lips, with fresh watermelon, strawberries and cream, and 100% yum! Corralina Napa Valley Syrah Rose – $20 coppery pink in color, a syrah rose is a beautiful thing! A bit more meaty than a Pinot Noir Rose, the Corallina tastes of ripe peaches and blood oranges, with spicy notes, and rose water. Ruby Red grapefruit covered in cream rounds out the palate with a nice round finish. Great for BBQs and burgers! Rose of Pinot Noir OGV Endless Crush – $30 A special wine that is made only every other year, the Endless Crush is a purpose made rosé, separate and distinct from Inman’s award winning Pinto Noir. Purpose made rosés can have more complexity and intensity, since they are not the byproduct of another process, and this gorgeous example is perfect for a hot day with a classic delicate pink color. Like most Pinot Noir rosés, there is a beautiful strawberry flavor profile, but also some crisp and refreshing grapefruit and tropical notes. I love this wine because it’s such a crisp and refreshing wine, with lovely minerality and citrus acid. 2010 Lazy Creek Rosé of Pinot Noir – $20 Another dry, crisp wine, there are lots of juicy tangerine flavors, with watermelon and orange juice. The salmon color is a bit deeper than some Pinot Noir Roses, but the flavors are great. Fresh strawberries and raspberries, with floral notes on the finish with a touch of bitter orange. Archery Summit Vireton Rose – $29 Love at first sip! This delicate rosé of Pinot Noir is full of tropical fruit, watermelon and Hood River strawberries. I absolutely loved this wine. The bright fresh raspberry juice was clean and crisp, and is a perfect summer sipper. Pale pink and delicate. Happy 4th! Please don’t drink and drive, and NO fireworks in the dry red flag areas!