Weekend Wine-ing with the BrixChicks!

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 Store, we sipped on such tasty treats as

  • 2006 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Peters Vineyard
  • 2006 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Windsor Oaks Vineyard
  • 2005 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Perotti Vineyards
  • 2006 Cuvee”Bela”,Sonoma County

Thanks Shana for showing us such great hospitality! Sitting on the porch at the Dry Creek Olive Oil Company, eating a really good sandwich, drinking really good wines. How bad can it be!

Go out, taste, and enjoy your life. You might get hit by a bus, or be in an earthquake tomorrow.

Cheers!

 

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Quote of the Day…and why I love Twitter

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 the
Twitter
Word
Of
The
day!

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!

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!

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

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!

 

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Wine Blogging Wednesday Anniversary Edition!

You know the drill. Once a month, your fellow wineaux and bloggers are handed a theme from the heavens above, and we drink. Then we write.

This month, it is the 4 year anniversary of Wine Blogging Wednesday, started by our Fearless Leader Lenn Thompson of Lenndevours.

For this anniversary edition, Lenn is asking us to go back to our drinking roots, and find that wine that got us to fall in love with Bacchus, or something you used to drink a lot of when you were young and impressionable. Please try to avoid the Boone’s Farm or Sutter Home however!


Come over, do it alone, find a Meetup, but do it!
Post your replies on the WBW site, email Lenn or Twitter it by August 13th, and you can share your notes with the other bloggerati out there.
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GREAT Wine under $20


In homage to Dr. Debs (the real Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 fame), I am happy to report that I had a fantastic evening last night at the Cameron Hughes wine reception hosted by Cornelius of Wine 2.0 & RadCru.

Most impressive were the Alexander Valley & various Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon selections, poured from the new Lot releases by Cameron himself.

Cameron Hughes Wine has made a name for itself as premium quality budget priced wine, widely available at Costco warehouses everywhere. These premium wines average $15 and under, with a few of the more unusual selections hovering around $20. I don’t have to tell you, that $15 for a stellar Cabernet from Napa is like having someone forget to add an item on your bill at your favorite restaurant. It almost feels like stealing candy from a baby!

How do they do it? Well it’s actually a fairly old story of the negociant, a wine merchant who buys grapes or finished wine and slaps their own label on it. IN this case, which amazing results that are different with every lot and every year. Cameron Hughes Wine focuses on buying bits & pieces of leftover super premium wine. Sometimes, wineries don’t want a large case production, to create the illusion of scarcity. Sometimes, they just aren’t happy with the results. And sometimes, well sometimes I just can’t understand dhow they can give up such wonderful elixirs but I”m happy I reap the financial benefits!

My highlights from the tasting are:

This was my outstanding wine winner of the night, both because of the killer dusty cocoa, tobacco and richness, as well as the stupid cheap price. I pre-ordered 2 bottles of it, but now am kicking myself for not ordering more. $15 (not released yet)

A very close 2nd to Alexander Valley, I had a hard time picking my favorite. So I tasted more. And again. And often. Oy the joys of a cab ride home! $16 (not released yet)

  • Lot ? 2006 Yountville Cabernet Sauvignon

This was the first cab we tasted last night, and I thought it would be my favorite. But as we moved down the line, Alex and Chalk just kicked Yountville’s little butt. But it was still good, and a screaming value. Hell, all of them are. It’s young, and needs to be decanted & held, but for $15? Seriously!

  • Lot ? Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

Silly me, I didn’t keep my tasting sheet because I turned it in to order, and now can’t remember the lot numbers. But this was a tasty tidbit too! I admit, at this point, i sort of lost count because they were so tasty.

For me, a typically non Merlot drinker, this wine blew me away. It is a rich & powerful merlot, coming from an area that i wouldn’t expect and yet didn’t’ have that overpowering manipulated feel of most commercial wines.
$15

A very minty syrah, with a lot of spice. It was a bit tannic for me, and could use a bit more balance but I expect great things in the future. $15

This was a surprise, and a really interesting blend that caught my attention quickly as we tasted the large array of wines on the bar. Grenache & Carignane come together to give a taste of Spain in a classic meritage. $20

The moral of the story? Don’t prejudge! I have had some of the other CH Wines, and wasn’t terribly impressed. However, with the variety of Lots and the amazing Cabernets, I will certainly not shy away in the future.

Thanks to RadCru and Cameron Hughes for a great time at Varnish!

 

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My Favorite Wine Shops

So, I buy wine. I buy a LOT of wine. I buy a lot of GOOD wine.But where do I buy it you ask?There are so many great sources, it’s hard to narrow down my favorite, but here are my top choices (other than winery direct):

  1. Wine Q – my new favorite source for unusual, small production yummy wines. Their prices are fair, and there is no shipping if you spend over $35, which is easy on 2+ bottles. It’s basically Netflix for wine, where you create your own queue, and dictate how many bottles per timeframe you want shipped. 2 bottles a week? 6 bottles a month? No problem!Plus, Brittany and Marshall are just nice folks who go out of there wayt o find really tasty treats for us.
  2. The Wine Mine – a tiny shop located under hwy 24/580 in Oakland, where the prices are truely like mining for gold. The last time I was in, I asked the owner for some “weekday wines under $20” and he went one better, offering me a ton of options under $10-15. There is always something new here, and it’s right on my way home!
  3. The Wine Club – SF was my old stand by before I found #1 & #2. I still venture in here from time to time since it’s on my way home, and they are a good source if you are looking for something specific. You can find their inventory on Vinquire.com or on their website, and they have 2 other locations.
  4. Bottle Barn – an old Santa Rosa standby, is hidden in an industrial park behind Piner St. They are THE source for Sonoma County wines at a discount, most of which can’t be found outside of the tasting room. Plus, they have an annex in Headlsburg, and they just redesigned their website!

I’m still learning about new areas, especially the northwest. I’m looking forward to trying some of the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman’s offerings int he very near future.

The Wine Spies posts a new deal daily, and
Wine.Woot.com has new deals every Monday so be sure to check them out. I recently got a 3 pack from Twisted Oak at wine.woot for about 25% off of MSRP!

 

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Monday blues…


It’s Monday, and I feel it. Yawn.
A slow week this week, but Wednesday, Cameron Hughes will be pouring their wines at Varnish Fine Art on Natoma in SF.

Cameron Hughes is known for it’s value priced wines which are widely available, such as found in this search, and they are pretty tasty too. It’s free wine, so why not break up the BART ride and take a sip or two.

I’m planning on being there, are you? It’s a private tasting, so if you are interested please email
paul dot jenson at chwine dot com to RVSP for the event, from 6-10pm on Wednesday July 16th.



Saturday is Santa Cruz Passport, and this year since there are a number of wineries pouring north of the Santa Clara county line, I plan on hitting

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Wine Blogging Wednesday #47 Brought to you by the Letter S!

So I’m a day behind – I totally forgot that Wine Blogging Wednesday has come and gone!
The regular posse was assembled for a truly Stupendous tasting.

You can see all the details here, but suffice it to say that Syrah won our little “S” hearts.

thanks everyone for participating, and next month we’ll pare down the craziness. I hope.
Maybe.

 

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BreastFest 2008 is Saturday!

No, it’s not an opportunity for you to see boobies.

Officially known asMicrobreweries Fighting Cancer, this festival brings together good food, good people, of course, good beer, and a great cause.

Take the ferry on over to Larkspur, and participate in the cause!
Tickets are $35 at the door, and give you a commemorative glass as well as all the beer you can drink. Food is available for a small charge as well.

Participating breweries include:

  • Marin Brewing Company
  • 21st Amendment, (one of my favorite brew pubs in the city)
  • Anderson Valley
  • Beach Chalet another of my favorites
  • BJ’s Brewery
  • Black Diamond
  • Broken Drum
  • Drakes Brewing
  • Fox Barrel Cider
  • Half Moon Bay
  • Iron Springs
  • Lagunitas Brewing Co
  • Magnolia Pub
  • Moon Light
  • Moylan’s
  • Mateveza
  • Mount St. Helena
  • North Coast
  • Rubicon
  • Russian River
  • Santa Cruz
  • Seabright
  • Stone Brewery
  • Third Street Aleworks
  • Triple Rock
  • Two Rivers Cider

 

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Who is Gary V?

Gary Vaynerchuck, VAY NER CHUK, is the rambunctious, loud, opinionated host of Wine Library TV, a video wine blog that tries to change the wine world by getting people to ignore those big critics and discover their own palate with some heavy encouragement.

Take him for what you will, he is celebrating his 500th episode at our local custom crush facility Crushpad tomorrow, July 10. Come on down and celebrate!


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Happy Monday!

OK so Mondays aren’t my favorite day of the week and I’m trying to psych myself out.
Had a mellow 4th, stuck in the fog and cold, so I decided that on the 5th I needed to seek some sun.
Little did I know that it would be in the 90s in Dry Creek! PHEW. Thank god for air conditioning.

I stopped by Peterson to kick off my warm day, and enjoyed some zin and tasty sausages while chatting with some friends who happened to be there. From there, I zoomed on in to Rued (rhymes with Druid), but I have to admit, it was so hot outside, and they didn’t’ have any ice buckets, so I didnt’ really enjoy my bathwater wine.

From there, I moved on to Family Wineries of Dry Creek, a coop tasting room where 6 – count em up folks – 6 wineries ply their wares. The line was kind of long for the zin event I had a wristband for, so I popped in to Kokomo which was cool, dark and on my Visa Signature list. Boy! What a good choice that was! I had only been to Kokomo once, at barrel tasting, but they blew me away then and blew me away this weekend. I somehow ending up with a bottle of Sonoma Zin, Cab, and Peters Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Literally next door, I stumbled over to the zinfest at Family Wineries. My standout there was the Meitz Cellars zinfandel which I can still taste.

After loading up on brownies, I headed over to the other side of Dry Creek to pop in to Mounts Family Winery‘s open house. Since Mounts is only open on special occasions, I was happy to have the chance to taste some of their wares. I loved the Rose, Syrah and Petite, and bought one of each. Unfortunately, they packed a Rose, Syrah and Zin. The zin was good, but the PS just blew me away. Oh well.

Finally, I just had to stop at my favorite zin shop, on the north edge of Healdsburg, Manzanita Creek. Brothers Jack & Bill do amazing things with their grapes, and you can look for some of their offerings, like Lower Block, a Mendocino County zin, in a Costco near you.
I have been a huge fan for a long time, and I love having an excuse to stock up on more zins.

All in all, it was a lovely, wine and sun filled day!

 

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Wine Map-o-Matic!

A few months ago, I was introduced to

at the Wine 2.0 event at Crushpad.

Mapovino is a wine-mapping website incorporating GoogleMaps to showcase geographically distinct wines and the stories behind these wines.

Why is this cool? Because it allows you my technonarti friends, to use Google Maps, a tool most of us know and love, to integrate with the wine regions of the world. While I don’t have a Crackberry or an iPhone (yet) I can see the application of this tool going mobile, while crusiing around Dry Creek looking at an interactive map.

With Mapovino, users can add comments, photos, link to maps in their blogs, and even add blog links on the map. It will also wine and geography information from Wikipedia to expand on your knowledge interactively.

Why do I bring this up you ask? Well they are doing their 2nd beta “tasting” in San Francisco next week, and I plan to go to learn more about hte tool and mingle with my fellow wine geeks.

July 7th 7-9pm
Please RSVP by registering here

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Happy Zindependance!

It’s the last day of June, and as summer wears on, there are more and more wine events filling my calendar. Even though I try to pick events that are new and exciting, sometimes you just can’t resist.

I am looking forward to the long weekend which is only…um four more days away. Now that the smoke has cleared and the fog is back, i can actually breathe and will probably be looking for a BBQ or two. As luck would have it, there are some new events to choose from so I won’t be bored.

Pinot Days was nice, but I didn’t find anything new that knocked my socks off, sadly. Maybe I’m just becoming jaded? Or maybe it’s just that I didn’t swallow as much wine and I could / should have. There is something in the ceremony of spitting that loses some of that delicious pinot flavor.

Other than the Urbano open house this weekend, Mounts Family Winery is also having an open house up in Dry Creek. This is a great opportunity to taste their small lot wines, since they are not open to the public every weekend.

Mounts will be hosting a BBQ and Wine tasting on Saturday & Sunday, while they will be open for tasting on the 4th itself.

If you’re in to beer, and let’s face it, who isn’t! Around the World in 80 Beers is having it’s July installment at O’Neill’s pub in Ghiradelli Square on Saturday. Goldstar hGoogleas half-price tickets if you are interested.

 

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