Tweeps, Eats, and East Bay Drinks!

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Wow what a busy week this has been! Where have the last two weeks gone? I can’t find them. Have you seen them? Hmm might have to look under my chair, or in my stair, over here, over there. In recent happenings, fellow wine bloggers met to taste through several delicious wines. From left to right: Marshall & Brittney of WineQ, (@wineq, @wineqt), Ward of WineLog (@drxeno), Farley, late of Behind the Vines and currently of Rosenblum Cellars (@WinePoet), Megan of Wannabe Wino (@sonadora) and Russ of California Wine Hikes (@winehiker). Togeter, we had some great wines and great dinner and talked blogs, politics and wine! The following day, Brittney, Megan and I headed up to Michel-Schlumberger in Dry Creek Valley, where we were treated to a tour of the vineyard and an amazing tasting afternoon. Judd led us through the organic garden out back, before taking us up the hill to admire the grapes as well as the view. After scrambling down a few hills (yes I’m a girl, and wasn’t wearing hiking shoes), we headed in to the luxe Club Room to taste through their current offerings. Highlights for me were the Pinot Noir and the Syrah, but the library reserve vertical of Cabernet Sauvingnons was amazing too! I confess, I was being lazy, somewhat induced by a cold, so i didnt’ take great notes. Head on over to Wannabe Wino for a complete report shortly! Amazingly, we spent over 2 hours enjoying our day, and were somewhat remiss in keeping our lunch date with Patrick of Iridesse Wines (@oenophilus) at Bovolo in Healdsburg. Once there however, we were all drooling over the multiple forms of bacon offered. Three of us ordered the decadent Carbonara, which was served with black pig bacon. And of course, we had a side of bacon to go with that! After lunch, the girls and I headed across the street ot Stephen & Walker, before heading to the south end of town. After Stephen & Walker, we headed south to Longboard Vineyards, where we were fortunate enough to hit a clearance sale on their 2005 Syrah which was only $15. For a daily drinker, I really enjoyed this wine with a rich & earthly character, balanced by dark fruit and spicy cola. I also picked up a bottle of the Dakine Syrah, which is the reserve offering. I especially enjoyed the Dakine for winter sipping in front of the fireplace. After Longboard, we continued to the south end of town to the Front Street Five, a collection of small wineries. Here we stopped at Huntington and Camelia Cellars. I have always enjoyed Huntington’s Petite Sirah, but this time I purhcased a reserve Merlot for fall sipping. At Camelia, they had a lovely soft Sav Blanc called First Kiss, so I brought some of that home too. You can find all of these wines by using Vinquire my favorite search tool! After two full days of tasting and laughing, I was ready for a […]

My Vie en Rosé

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Even though I’m really a red wine girl, the weather has been so sweltering recently, I have been enjoying quite a bit of cold white as well. Today, I am cracking open the Ceja Bella Rosa Rosé, which is a beautiful clear deep hibiscus color. This lovely bottle was a sample sent by my friends at WineQ, with no deadlines or strings attached 😉 Upon opening, I smelled strawberries, as if I were running through a field of wild ones. The first taste reminded me of those strawberry sodas from when I was kid, but in a good way! It also had a ton of tart cranberry and juicy ripe fruit, with a crisp finish touched by raspberries. Perfect for a still warm summer evening! Find this wine now on Vinquire or Wine Q!   Google

Where has the summer gone?

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Gracious what happened to the summer months? I feel like a kid who’s summer vacation has been cut short. Fortunately, we get a late summer out here in San Francisco, but it is amazing that it is already September 1st. Yesterday being the Sunday before an extra day off, I took the opportunity to cruise up to Dry Creek with some wineaux friends. Little did we know that Trentadue was having a 50% off sale, and my friend stocked up! Their La Storia line has always been a favorite of mine. This being a new month, I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell you about a few evetns coming up: September 13/14 Spotlight on Zinfandel in Kenwood Seven Heart of Sonoma Valley wineries are participating. Enjoy wine tastings, verticals, barrel sampling, select discounts, educational seminars, and more! Eric Ross Winery Family Wineries Kenwood Kaz Winery & Vineyards Loxton Cellars Muscardini Cellars & Ty Caton Vineyards The Wine Room VJB Vineyards & Cellars September 14 Country Vintner tour at South, brought to you by The Jug Shop Rob “Gibbo” Gibson with LOOSE END Nick “Kilo Man” Stacy with WEST CAPE HOWE Barbara “The Law” Lawson with LAWSON’S DRY HILLS Peter “The Adelaide Longhorn” Saturno of LONGVIEW VINEYARD George & Liz “The Country Duo” now on tour with PICARDY Sept 20th Release the Spaniard Dinner -at Twisted Oak Winery Being a recent convert to the Twisted Few wine club, I decided this would be a fine opportunity to visit the Murphy’s area to do a little wine reconnaissance. Since I haven’t been there since I was prospecting for gold in high school, I am looking forward to a grown up tour of the area. Some other wineries in the area that we will try to taste at are: Black Sheep Winery Bodega del Sur Winery Brice Station Winery Broll Mountain Vineyards Chatom Vineyards French Hill Winery Frog’s Tooth Winery Hatcher Winery Indian Rock Vineyards Ironstone Vineyards Laraine Winery Lavender Ridge Vineyard Milliaire Winery Newsome-Harlow Wines Solomon Wine Company Stevenot Winery Tanner Vineyards Twisted Oak Winery Vina Moda Winery Zucca Mountain Vineyards   Google

Pinot Envy indeed!

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Last night I had the opportunity to attend a New Zealand Pinot Noir tasting of Calvert Vineyard wines at The Jug Shop. Being a pinot-phile, and planning a trip to NZ next year, this was a terrific opportunity for me to hone my Pinot tasting skills. NZ is pumping out some amazing Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs these days, and the Central Otago region, located on the southern end of the South Island has been cranking out some amazing examples. The tasting offered three wines produced from the same vineyard, in a variety of styles, all from Calvert Vineyard. For you wine geeks, you can see a block map here. Calvert Vineyard Block Plan 2006 Felton Road This was the first wine we tasted, and right off the bat I tasted red fruit, cola, and cherry. It had an earthy backnote, with a hint of violets. This was a fruit forward wine, and did not show immense oak. 2006 Pyramid Valley This wine was ever so slightly different than the Felton Road, with it’s woody flavors and increased chewiness. The difference was in the handling of the fruit, which was 100% destemmed and whole cluster fermented for 15 months in French Oak. This extra time in the oak added the texture and complexity. 2006 Craggy Range Calvert Vineyard This is an example of an over extracted Pinot Noir done well; yes, it was a rich and bold wine, and not a delicate flower, but we all loved it and it clearly has a cult following if only 2 cases are imported in to the US. These wines are difficult to find in the States, and I was happy to be able to take advantage of The Jug Shop’s tricky negotiation skills to taste these gems. I even left holding in my hot little hands, a promise of delivery for a three-pack of these treats. How could I ressit? With only 2 cases imported of the Craggy Range, it is an excellent opporutnity to do a horizontal tasting of some of the world’s hottest new growing regiosn. Hey, if your wines were this good, woudln’t you keep them for yourselves? I know I would!   Google

A Rosé By Any Other Name is…

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A Cabernet! This is not your mother’s Rosé. You will not find any sweet pink punch here my Luscious Lushes. Yes, it’s true. My favorite Rosé at last night’s Pretty in Pink tasting, hosted by my friends at Bottlenotes, was the 2004 Croze Vin d’Une Nuit, Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was a stunning deep rose red color, and really stood out from the lineup of 6 different Rosés. I found intense flavors of strawberry, blood oranges and pink grapefruit with a nice tang. I loved this rose because of its juicy red fruit flavor, but also because of its beautiful color. It was magic in the glass. Croze gets its amazing color from Cabernet Sauvignon, which is an unusual variety to make rose with. This wine is made in a traditional French style, and the name Vin d’une Nuit means “wine of one night” because the the juice & skins are only soaked for a single day. This is what gives the Croze the amazing color and undertones of a big Cab. This wine is best enjoyed ice cold, since it releases more flavors and aromas as it warms in the glass. I also particularly enjoyed the 2006 Pretty Sally Rosé, an Australian concoction that was also a deep pink color, although not as ruby as the Croze. The flavors exploded with raspberry & watermelon, with a tinge of strawberry. Other wines that were being poured were: 2006 Sullivan Pink Ink from Napa 2006 Wild Rock Vin Gris Rosé, a really lovely rose of Pinot Noir from Central Otago 2006 Two Wives Rosé, from Napa The moral of this pink story? Go out and try some pink!   .Google

And speaking of Roses…

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As I sit here and have my morning dose of Twitter, the illustrious Agent Red of The Wine Spies pointed out that their deal today is a delectable little number by Chandon. Since I do love my Blanc de Noirs, and pretty much anything with bubbles, I will have to give this one a try. Which reminds me. This Thursday, August 14th (that’s tomorrow folks!) is Pretty in Pink at Jovino in San Francisco. Hosted by BottleNotes, this is your chance to taste some lovely Rosé wines paired with foods for the occasion! What are you waiting for? Sign up and join us! For details, please click HERE!   Google

Wine Blogging Wednesday #48, Back to our ROOTS!

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It being the Olympics, when I think of Roots, I think of those silly berets they made us wear the last time around. That said, I was looking forward to this WBW because Lenn asked us to “get back to our roots”. When first reading the theme, one might think I was going to go to the grocery store and stock up on Sutter Home White Zinfandel (and no Lenn, that is NOT really wine it is Cool Aid for mommies) or Almaden Chablis, but no! I strongly protest! For me, my roots are in Sonoma County. Growing up in the Bay Area, my family would often take weekend drives up the coast, or in to Petaluma to look at the chickens. Yes, we city girls know what chickens look like. When I got older, I decided to go to college in Sonoma, since it was just far enough away from home for me to not kill my parents, but close enough to the city to have some fun. That being said, I was first exposed to wine when working for Windsor Vineyards one summer. Granted, it was only in the office and was not terribly exciting since I was the receptionist in their corporate sales office, buy hey – we had weekly wine tastings! Since I wasn’t a huge drinker in college, this was eye opening for me. What better way to prompt the sales team to sell custom labels for corporate gifts than by getting them liquored up! Poor fools didn’t know what they were in for. Once I started drinking wine, I never stopped; as my parting gift at the end of the summer, they gave me a case of wine to go. Not bad! When I moved back to the city, I was broke and making $10 an hour. Needless to say my habit for Long Island Ice Teas was not supported on such a meager income. I ask you, what can you do that is free, but allows you to enjoy the fruits of nature? Wine tasting of course! Thus began my weekly forays in to Sonoma Valley and Dry Creek Valley to imbibe in the good juice. In the 90s, Sonoma was still up and coming and no one, I mean NO ONE charged for tasting. Since my friends and I were all broke, there was nothing finer than a free glass of wine-a! One of the first wineries that stole my heart was Peterson, nestled between Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley. Before it moved in to it’s current digs on Dry Creek Road, Peterson would occasionally open it’s barn doors and share it’s wine right out of the barn door. I instantly fell in love with it’s “I’m going to make wine my way and I don’t care” attitude, as well as the rich, jammy zinfandels Peterson produces. As a newly minted wine drinker, the full bodies and slightly sweet style of red wine is easy to love. Many of these wines […]

Pretty in Pink

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Summer is here (in some parts of the world) and the weather is heating up. This is particularly true in the East Bay, where I happen to spend my weekdays. Some things I love about summer are: -Peaches -Tomatos warm from the sun off the vine -BBQs -and sitting outside on a warm afternoon, sipping a nice dry Rosé wine! Since there are so many different types of Rosé, I have started to drink more to explore different territories. One of my strategies this year at Family Winemakers is to taste some new ones to add to my cellar list. As it happens, my friends at Bottlenotes are hosting an event here in San Francisco next week all about Rosé. If you’re not familiar with Bottlenotes, they are an online wine club that you can customize to suit your tastes. Each time you recieve a wine, you can rate it, and you get future selections based on these. It’s kind of like your suggestions list on Amazon. Pretty cool! Rosé wines and paired appetizers from the The Little Black Apron Cookbook (purchase from Amazon.com below) will be served on Thursday, Thursday, August 14 at Jovino on Union. Click here for details and to make reservations See you there! Google

Bottle Shock REVIEW

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Last night I was lucky enough (OK, so I paid) to attend the San Francisco premier of Bottle Shock as well as a modern day interpretation of the Judgment of Paris. Prior to the screening, we convened at Crushpad to taste 5 chardonnays and 5 Cabernet blends, to see if the current results would match or best the original 1976 tasting. At the same time, i wanted to present myself with a personal challenge and see if I could (accurately) guess which wines being tasting were French, and which were from California. First, my tasting results, as compared to the crowd’s popular vote at our recreation, and the results in 1976. First, my results: Chardonnay My Place Wine # Popular Vote Origin? 1st Wine 2 2nd France 2nd Wine 5 CA 3rd Wine 4 1st CA 4th Wine 3 France 5th Wine 1 2nd tie CA Cabernet My Place Wine # Popular Vote Origin? 1st Wine 6 but it was a very close battle with my 2nd place winner 2nd CA 2nd Wine 10 1st CA 3rd Wine 7 France 4th Wine 9 CA 5th Wine 8 3rd France   Now that you’re wonder what the hell these wines were, here are the actual bottles we tasted (and if they were tasted in ’76, where they placed: Wine # Wine Crushpad Result 1976 Result Origin Wine 1 2005 Gustavo Thrace 2nd (tie) – CA Wine 2 2005 Girardin Meursault Charmes Du Dessus Premier Cru 2nd France Wine 3 2005 Puligny-Montrachet Clavillon Domaine Leflaive Premier Cru 8th France Wine 4 2006 Chateau Montelena 1st 1st CA Wine 5 2006 Freemark Abbey Winery 2nd 6th CA Cabernet Wine # Wine Crushpad Result 1976 Result Origin Wine 6 2004 Freemark Abbey Winery Bosche Vineyard 2nd 10th CA Wine 7 2004 Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2nd France Wine 8 2004 Chateau Montrose 6th France Wine 9 2004 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars SLV 3rd 3rd CA Wine 10 2004 Ridge Monte Bello 1st So now that I’ve completely confused you – a question: Are palates demographically and attuned? It it in our genes to like particular wines, or is it what wines we have been given as we are training our palates? Now! On to the movie! First, let me tell you how important it is to be able to bring wine in to the movies, particularly if the movie is, well, about wine. Fortunately, the Sundance Kabuki has a wine bar with balcony seating, that allows you to order wine and food for your enjoyment in the theater. You might think that this is sacrilege, but what better to go with a campy soap opera treatment of the wine wars than a nice glass of wine & a nibble? They have done a great job revamping this San Francisco institution, and include soft liek seating with cocktail tables every two seats int he balcony. For all this cozy atmosphere, you only pay $1.50 plus food, which brings the ticket price to $11.50. Doesn’t seem like […]

To Infinity, and BEYOND!

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The Wine Century Club was developed for all adventurous wine lovers. Have you tasted 100 different grape varietals? I know what you’re thinking: I drink a lot. A lot of wine. Surely I must be a charter member! But It’s not as easy as you might think. The most common varietals are some variation on the Big Six: Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot (does anyone actually drink this stuff?) Pinot Noir Chardonnay Sauvignon Blanc Riesling The Wine Century Club is made up of people that enjoy tasting new wines, and have an adventerous streak. Sounds like me! With Family Winemakers coming up, and the Wine Bloggers Conference shortly thereafter, what better way to challenge myself to learn about new varietals. Here is a challenge to all of you Luscious Lushes out there. See if you too can earn one of these fancy certificates! My goal is to have it completed by the time Rhone Rangers rolls around next year. Download the Century Club application here: Excel PDF Google

Weekend Wine-ing with the BrixChicks!

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This weekend, I was lucky enough to have a full wine schedule with each of the Brix Chicks, that fun filled wine duo also known as Liza and Xandria. Saturday, Liza and I atteneded the Rosenblum 30th Anniversary Open House courtesy of the Blogger Extrodinaire, Farley of Behind the Vines. With over 40 delicious wines being poured, it was fantastic to be able to park our rears in beach chairs, and munch on fresh cheese and Zinfandel ice cream. Yummy! I am sad to report that we missed out on the Anniversary Edition of the Rockpile Road Zin, because we were attempting to go in a reasonable order from everyday to extraordinary. C’est la vie. My highlights of the tasting day at Rosenblum were: England-Shaw Vineyard Syrah, Solano County – 2005 Harris Kratka Vineyard Zinfandel, Alexander Valley – 2005 Planchon Vineyard Zinfandel, Contra Costa County – 2006 Rockpile Road Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley – 2006 Rominger Vineyard Syrah, Yolo County – 2006 Maggie’s Reserve Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley – 2005 Monte Rosso Vineyard Reserve Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley – 2006 Rockpile Reserve Syrah, Fran’s Vineyard – 2006 St. Peter’s Church Vineyard Reserve Zinfandel, Sonoma County – 2005 Can you see a theme here? First, I am a Zin girl. Always have been, always will be. While I love Syrah and really enjoy Pinot Noir these days, Zin is where my heart is. Sunday, Xandria and I headed up to Dry Creek. I have to add a disclaimer here, because I did not take any tasting notes. I was just enjoying myself too much to think about it! So, these recollections are just the wines that stuck out in my mind as tasty without any deconstruction. I had originally wanted to head up to Vinify Solutions in Santa Rosa because I got an invitation to their open house where Kethcum Estates was pouring there fabulous Pinot Noir. I first discovered Kethcum last year at Pinot Days, and have been a fan every since. Little did I know that Vinify, a custom cursh facility, had over 10 labels pouring that day! Pinot, Syrah, Chardonnay oh my. Some of the offerings we tried were: Ketchum Estate Bjornstad Cellars Suacci Carciere Baker Lane Sojourn Cellars Dry Stack Cellars Super Sonoman Lattanzio Wines Cinque Insieme Bevan Cellars I did not have a bad wine among them, which is truly dangerous since my garage is running out of cellaring space! Do I see a wine locker in my future? After that luscious pitstop, we zipped on up Dry Creek to go visit @ShaRayRay (Shana to you non Twitter types) at Kokomo. Bermuda, Bahama, baby don’t you wanna? I would if I were you. For a new winery, Kokomo is producing some amazing things. My first trip to Kokomo was this year’s Barrel Tasting, when I fell in love with the Carignane. Sadly, I have to be a patient Wineaux, since it won’t be released for a while. While we were enjoying our lunch from the Dry Creek General […]

Quote of the Day…and why I love Twitter

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As I spend time on Twitter keeping up to date with my wine buds, Randy Hall of Wine Biz Radio fame started an new trend in microblogging. Call it boredom, call it random silliness, but Randy has started the TWOT. No, it’s not a disease, it’s theTwitterWordOfTheday! Given Randy’s recent daddy-hood, I decided to pitch in today and offer up today’s TWOT: Sempiternal Sem`pi*ter”nal, a. [L. sempiternus, fr. semper always: cf. F. sempiternel.]1. Of neverending duration; everlasting; endless; having beginning, but no end. –Sir M. Hale. 2. Without beginning or end; eternal. To which Patrick of Iridesse Wines, aka Oenophilus offered up the following quotable quote: Until we recognize our codependence on natural corks, TCA contamination will be sempiternal. Cheers to the best TWOT of the day Patrick! Perhaps this will inspire you to join the Twittersphere. Good times, good times.And perhaps given the impending film debut of Bottle Shock, we had better read George Taber’s other book, To Cork or Not to Cork.

Bottle Shock UPDATE!

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As promised, here are the vital stats for the Bottle Shock! Premiere Party. The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 turned established perceptions of French and California wines on their heads. So what better place than Crushpad — known to challenge convention ourselves — to celebrate the release of Bottle Shock, the new feature film that dramatizes this famous tasting. Tickets are $75. Yes I know, it’s a lot. BUT think of what you get. You get Bo & Heidi Barrett and Gustavo Brambila, who won first place among white wines at the Paris Tasting with their Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. We’ll also be joined by folks from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, whose Cabernet Sauvignon captured first place among red wines. Bottle Shock producers, Brenda & Marc Lhormer will even be on hand to give you a behind the scenes account of the filming. You’ll be part of the judging too, tasting four French wines and four American wines, then casting your vote for best red and best white. After the winning wines are selected, we’ll hop aboard chartered buses for a short trip to the theater to view a private screening of the movie. You’ll also get entry to the opening night screening of Bottle Shock with, more wine! Please buy your tickets early here: Bottle Shock Tickets

Bottle Shock!

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Bottle Shock is about to be released! Picture it. Paris. 1976. Scions of the wine industry gather in Paris for the annual Judgment of Paris wine competition. In a blind tasting, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from France and California were pitted against each other, where, shockingly California won and changed the wine world forever. On August 6th, the film adapted from the book Judgement of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine by George Taber, opens to audiences here in the heart of California wine county. To help celebrate the 22nd anniversary of this epic victory for American wine, Crushpad is hosting a premier party to celebrate our victory over the French. Come celebrate with us by tasting a recreation of the Paris competition, and then join us at the Kabuki for a screening of the movie. Details to follow soon. You can watch the official trailer below for your entertainment!

A Passport to New Discoveries

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Yesterday was the quarterly Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association Passport day. This is a time when the participating wineries open their doors and invite you to taste this exciting region, while enjoying many tiny wineries that are rarely if ever open to the public. With the explosion of boutique wineries recently, it was no surprise that there were several new offering on this year’s list, and I aimed to stay north and try the new offerings instead of fighting beach traffic and heading over the hill to the tried and true Santa Cruz destinations. In particular, there were some new urban wineries located in the mid-Peninsula, which makes it a great short day trip. My first winner for the day were Domenico Winery, located on Industrial Road in San Carlos. Domenico started as the Bacchus Winemaking club, a make you own shop similar to Crushpad. In a large warehouse space on an industrial lane, Domenico has a large open space which has tables set up. On summer Sundays, they host jazz & other musical guests in this space, where you can enjhoy wine and a picnic to the tunes of whoever is playing for the bargain price of $5 entry. The absolute winner here was the 2006 Santa Cruz Mountain Pinot Noir, $35. While many Pinots I have tasted from the 06 vintage were uninspired, Santa Cruz seems to have bypassed this disappointing year and is producing stellar examples of my favorite vino. Another winner was down the road in Redwood City. Tucked away in a working class neighborhood of run down houses and auto shops, La Honda is a re-purposed warehouse, redone in a slightly gaudy fake Tuscan Villa style. That said, the owners were genuinely happy to see us, and were happy to let us wander in the small art gallery whiel we sipped our wine. Again, the winner here was the Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir, Black Capsule North, $26. This is a full bodied Pinot Noir, but is not overdone, and is a nice rich blend from several wineries in the northern Santa Cruz Mountain appellation. Go forth and buy locally, and enjoy your Santa Cruz wine!   Google