Baby done a bad bad thing…

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Where is my John Wayne Where is my prairie son Where is my happy ending Where have all the cowboys gone Apparently, they are in Napa!  there is just something about a cowboy.  In this case, it’s the Bad Boy on the 2007 Bad Boy Red, by Rcca Family Vineyards in Napa.  This little baby is 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Cabernet Franc, 17% Merlot, and 10% Petite Verdot, but the only thing that is Bordeaux about this is the blend itself.  This is a big, bold, California Cab, with blackberry and plum notes up front.  There is a lot of baking spice in the nose, and the palate has juicy blue & black fruit.  I also found leather, tobacco, notes of cinnamon, vanilla, and dense chewy blackberries followed by cherries. The Bad Boy Red forms its base from the Cabernet Sauvignon grown at the Collineetta Vineyard stie in Coombsville, which departs from a classic Napa cab and makes it a great choice for a BBQ or a big steak.his wine is a from the Rocca vineyards in Yountville and Coombsville, and area that is well known for producing some of Napa’s best Cabernet.  The Coombsville climate is unique in Napa, since the fog from San Pablo bay breezes in and cools down the fruit.  The further east you go, the warmer you will get, which has a big impact on the terroir of the area. This Bad Boy was sent to me by Rocca Vineyards.  i’m sorry to say he is married, and a doctor, and he was not in the bottle.  the juice was good though!

Jumping off a Clif

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See that little logo to the right?  Notice the CLIF name and image?  That’s right, those crazy people that essentially created the energy bar are back and they are in bottle!  I was so excited when I recieved these wines, because several blogger friends had already had the opportunity to sample them and were raving. First, a little back story.  The Clif Bar Company began in 1992 for the passion of Gary Erickson & Kit Crawford, who were striving to create nutritious, organic foods & drinks.  I personally love Luna Bars, and spent many a breakfast in my car with a very large coffee and a bar as I battled traffic down to Silly Cone Valley in years past.  From this passion for food, a natural progression was made to a passion for wine in 1997 when Gary & Kit bought a farmstead in Napa where they could raise animals, and maybe plant a few vines.  Fast forward to 2010 (or 2009 if I were more effective at timely drinking) and we have Clif Family Winery & Farm. I love the message that the Clif Familyprojects, one of balance and joie de vivre, as we are reminded to slow it down and enjoy life.  Their goal, and one very close to my heart, is to create unique, regionally specific wine and foods that use careful management of the land, including organic growing techniques.  on the farm, locally gorwn foods and the support of family farms raises turkey and chickens as well as fruits and vegetables.  There are some historic 85 year old olive trees on the farm, and recently more were planted.  Soon, we will have delicious extra virgin olive oil to pair with theh wines!  The farm runs 100% on bio-diesel, and all of the produce is 100% organic, with a CCOF certification. While the wine is currently not made from estate fruit, the future plan is to be 100% organically sourced fruit from the Farm.  Meanwhile, the wine is made from sourced fruit by Sarah Gott, who rose to fame at Joseph Phelps and Quintessa, before starting her own label with her husband, Joel Gott.  Being  a rockstar winemaker has its perks, and she is now a consulting winemaker at several NapaValley wineries. The first wine i am trying from Clif Family is the 2006 Gary’s Improv Syrah.  On the nose I found black pepper, blue and black berries.  In the mouth, the rich aromas are followed by a juicy mouthful of ripe plums, dark red fruit, and currants followed by bittersweet chocolate and espresso.  It’s medium body is a refreshing style of syrah, in the French tradition, as it is not a big meat grinder, but rather a juicy, nicely balanced, food friendly wine.  On the finish, there is a touch of black licorice, and just a hint of smoked meat.  This is a great syrah for dinner and at $35 I suggest you go find some.  that is a BUY in my book.  Like now. These wines were graciously […]

Can I ask you a personal question?

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Why are you so in to pinot!  I mean it’s like a thing for you. Yes, that is a line from the movie Sideways, in which Pinot Noir played a central character, and yet, it is so true in my world.  For me, Pinot Noir has a certain j’ai n’est c’est quoi, that certain something that you cannot put a name on.  It has an allure, a mystery, that cannot quite be explained with worlds. Pinot is so diverse.  Yes, you can probably say that about many varietal(as my friend Randy pointed out recently) but Pinot in particular has such a wide variety of styles, even within a small growing area.  There are hundreds of micro climates that influence pinot, just as the fog influences the weather.  Pinot Noir is grown around the world, and varies greatly.  And yet, it’s made from the same grape.  Are these wines different?  Are they the same?  Is there a commonality you can find?  All of these things inspire me to seek out new pinot noirs. This Passion for Pinot, leads me to return to my favorite stomping grounds in the Russian River time and time again.  It also leads me to spend a LOT of money on Pinot noir, and to attend every Pinot tasting I can including Pinot Days, the huge tasting at Ft. Mason, and the Pinot Noir Summit.  This year, I was delighted to be invited to be a judge for the Pinot Noir Shootout, which is where we, the panelists, tasted literally hundreds of entrant wines for final voting and inclusion in the Finals at the Summit.  BOY oh boy were there some interesting wines during the judging!  There were good, there were bad, and there were down right scary.  OF course, there was also the sublime and the occasionally off wine, which is to be expected in any large tasting. The time has come to put our judges hats (and taste buds) to the test at the 8th Annual Pinot Noir Summit, presented by Affairs of the Vine, on February 27, 2010..  As a wine consumer, you can bring your taste buds along to taste what we taste and make your own decisions on the winners and losers. This is a rare opportunity for you to taste the top wines blind, and vote for your favorite.  An added feature is that we tally the votes by male / female, in an effort to see if gender effects taste. If you saw my post on last year’s summit. you will see that not only do the gender of the tasters matter, but the judges and the public also had different opinions. That is part of the fun of these events – you can fancy yourself a wine judge for a day!  In addition, the Pinot Noir Summit offers some world class seminars on Pinot Noir.  This year, some of the topics are: When Pinot Sparkles! Sparkling wine is traditionally made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and / or Petite Munier.  Taste some examples […]

B is for Bottle

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In this case, a bottle of Broll Mountain Vineyards 2004 Syrah from Calaveras County.  I first discovered Broll Mountain through a chance meeting at a ZAP volunteer event, where @brixchick_liza and i met Roger & Ginger, who are retirees who work part time at Broll Mountain.  As chance would have it, the winery is in Murphys, which is one of my favorite wine getaways.  you might know about my addiction to all things twisted and rubber.  Rubber CHICKENS that is. This wine is deep and dark, with an earthy blackberry nose, with a touch of cherry syrup.  It drinks quite dry, and evokes flavors of vermouth, with smoked meats.  After a few sips, I’m finding it has quite a floral note to it, and I am almost drinking liquid violets and rose petals, with some great dark fruit behind it.  It’s quite tannic but i think it would be awesome with food, and it has a lingering dark chocolate was only $19, so I definitely buy this again if i came across it. “Nose is earthy, brambly attack with plums and black cherry.  A classic Syrah, meaty black fruit with olives and raspberries, cherries and rhubarb.  Tannins and dark chocolate finish.  Excellent paired with meats, cheeses and hearty food.” Google

Over the river and in to the Pinot

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Davis Bynum has quite a history to live up to, as the first winery to produce a single vineyard pinot noir from the Russian River Valley.  Now, three decades later, the winery was sold to the Rodney Strong family of wineries, through Klein family, who has farmed here for 4 generations. One of the things that strikes me about this winery is that the focus is on nature, and how they can best make world class wine with a minimal impact.  Additionally, the careful management of the vineyards pull out the local qualities in the grapes without homogenizing the fruit to a generic style. The 2007 Russian River Pinot Noir is a blend of several vineyards, which gives the winemaker the ability to create the best concoction.  It was a big pinot, which is somewhat indicative of the RRV these days.  I found it bold, dark and full of black cherries and strawberry jam, followed by dusty bark, dried cherries and craisnes on the palate.  After leaving it open for a while, I started to taste rose hips, hibiscus and rhubarb with those bright berry flavors that are so yummy.  The juicy finish on this wine lasts a long time, and I found just a touch too much oak make the end a little bitter.  The very last note I tasted was a Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry soda, which is pretty high praise since when I was a kid and we got to go tot he Holey Bagel, it was my sweet treat in a Coke-Free household. For $35, I feel it is just a little overpriced but still tasty.  I would also say that if you did buy this, hold on to it for another year as I think it will settle downand become amazing, and therefore well worth the price point. This wine was a sample provided by David Bynum winery. Google

On a mountain top

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Haber Family Vineyards, which sits high atop Howell Mountain, near the village of Angwin, was founded in 2004 by Ron and Sue Marie Haber, a couple of summer refugees from the East Coast. My blogging friend Melissa Dobson, of Melissa Dobson PR & Marketing, was kind enough to arrange a bloggers tasting day up on the mountain.  Sue Marie and Ron were gracious and welcoming, and the usual suspects (Randy, Michael, Marcy, and Ashley) made our way out of the Napa Valley for an unforgettable experience. The estate on Howell Mountain is a lean 5.5 acres, which was painstakingly developed 1 acre at a time due to local zoning laws at the time.  My personal opinion is that slow and steady wins the race however, and this turned out to be worth the slow development.  The Howell Mountain AVA was the first sub-appellation in Napa Valley to be officially recognized, and is known for it’s Cabernets.  The rocky red volcanic soil sits above the valley fog, which creates long mellow growing days.  The estate vineyard is between 1550 and 1650 ft, which is smack dab in the middle of the Howell Mountain vertical AVA. While the fruit grew, and the estate developed, the 2006 Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon was released earlier this year . This bottle was decanted the night before our visit, and it was simply stunning.  Those of you who know me well know that I don’t like the typical overblown overdone overextracted Napa Cab, and this wine was the elegant, silky antithesis of that.  I tasted chocolate, smoke and salami in the wine.  Or was that the nibbles I was chowing down?  Sue Marie put on an amazing spread for us.  The wine continued with pepper and subtle blackberry, with juicy plum notes.  As the wine opened up further in the glass, and as we ate lunch and drank more, the rich mocha flavors came out to play and evergreen notes teased me.  At one point I had an overwhelming aroma of Earl Grey tea, which was followed by fig, black cherry and root beer.  I really enjoyed this wine, and for $80 it is worth it.  I would certainly buy another bottle to hold for a special (or not so special) wine drinking occasion. If you have an opportunity, try to catch Sue Marie and Ron while they are in town and make it a point to taste their beautiful wine.  The Howell Mountain Estate Cabernet will be released next year, and I look forward to going back and tasting that offering as well. Happy drinking! Google

I smell a Rat!

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A Cellar Rat!  When I first met Alan Baker, aka @thecellarrat, I was in my first year of making a mess wine at Crushpad.  What I didn’t know, or rather, the connection I failed to make, is that he was the same Alan Baker who was the voice behind this crazy podcast that I had become addicted to over at Cellarrat.org.  Mind you, this was before I was a wine blogger, before I was the “glue that holds the twitter wine universe together”, and before I was Wine Biz Radio’s #1 fan.  Ahhh the olden days. The months past, and I would see Alan every now and then around Crushpad, like a mad scientist on a mission to create the world’s best wine for himself, and other clients at the same time.  Enter Cellar Rat wines.  I first tasted the Cellar Rat syrah at one of Crushapd’s infamous tasting events parties, where Alan was pouring a touch of pinot and a smattering of syrah.  WOW!  I was blown away by this wine.  Both the pinot and the syrah were outstanding, and somehow, I was lucky enough to get a door prize (thanks Alan!) in a bottle of syrah that I took home and squirreled away for safekeeping and later drinking. Fast forward 3 years, and Alan is now working with Arista Winery where he can both hone his winemaking craft and work on his social media and broadcasting skills.  I somehow convinced, cajoled, and begged him to let us come up and taste his pinot noir in progress, and so a blogger’s binge was born. On a recent cool and foggy day, we met up at the picnic grounds of Arista, off of Westside Road in Healdsburg to talk wine, blogging, and fun.  Amongst the hoards were Patrick Llenra (@oenophilus), Marcy Gordon (@marcygordon), Hardy Wallace (@dirtysouthwine ), Ashley Routson (@thebeerwench), Shana Ray (@sharayray), Paige Granback (@thesnarkhunter), Danica Sattui (@danicasattui), and of course Alan & Serena.  Cool and foggy but happy, we set out to taste the latest and greatest. First, we started out with a barrel sample of the 2008 Two Pisces Vineyard.  This vineyard is located just west of Petaluma, and has a wide variety of soil types, giving it a lot of diversity.  With 5 clones planted, I tasted sour cherries in this rich and spicy pinot, with bright raspberry flavors and classic Russian River Valley character, with cranberries and cinnamon.  33% new French Oak gives the wine just enough structure and spicy without going overboard.  Though I rather enjoyed this wine, Alan says he’ll definitely add some bigger fruit pinot in to the final blend, since it already seems to be falling off a  bit.  Tasty tidbit about this vineyard:  This is where our Bus 4 Cellars 2009 Sparkling Wine is coming from!  I’m excited about hte potential in this pinot, and what it means for my fledgling bubble enterprise. The 2008 Split Rock (also known as Gap’s Crown, but they don’t like us to say that) […]

3 and Twenty Blackbirds

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I was recently lucky enough to be invited to sit in the presence of wine royalty.  Joel Peterson, the founder and driving force behind Ravenswood Winery, hosted an intimate wine dinner where he poured and discussed his single vineyard designate wines.  What a treat! Ravenswood is a formidable force in the zin world, and Peterson is one of the few men that can be called the Godfather of Zinfandel.  In the early 70s, he challenged the going jug wine mentality and tried to create wines that tasted of the place and rivaled European wines. Single vineyard designates aer Joel’s passion, where you can work with small lots reflective of the European heritage of winemaking.  Zinfandel is still somewhat of a mystery in terms of growing and manipulating, and experiments with Native yeast, open top fermentation and oak treatments have yielded some beautiful examples. Most of these wines have very little manipulation, and are reflective of their terroir.  These wines allow the land to speak for them selves..  Zinfnadel is one of the few wines that is very unique to the area it is grown, and might be the most indicative varietal of terroir in the U.S.  there aer so many regions that produce zin, and each region is different in terms of sytle and flavor profile.  If you further refine that to vineyard blocks, you can start to see how the wine takes on the earth it is grown in.  The wide ranges of climate and terroir produces a higher quality over a wider growing region than any other varietal. Over the course of the evening, we tasted 9 wines, paired with delicious foods from Spruce.  I wish I had saved a bit of each wine to taste with the food, but it was all so tasty!  Each vineyard has it’s own character, and each is from a different corner of Napa and Sonoma.  2007 Dickerson – 1000 cases of this single vineyard were made of this 100% zin from Napa valley.  I found it light and bright, with juicy raspberry and hibiscus flavors.  I also found apple jolly rancher, with a tiny touch of evergreen.  This vineyard had an issue with leaf roll virus, which caused the grapes to have high acid and low sugar levels, somewhat mimicking the coastal environment of other vineyards.  The second taste I took of this showed black cherry and bosenberry.  My favorite sneaky little tidbit about this wine, is that the same wine, bottled under a different label, actually received different scores by certain influential critics.  How’s THAT for marketing!  This vineyard is located in Napa Valley, and was planted in sections between 1930 and 1985.  It is a classic example of an old, dry-farmed and head pruned example of Zinfandel in a valley dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon. $35 This was the first zin of the flight and I would definitely BUY. 2007 Big River – also 100% zin, this vineyard was planted somewhere around 1880.  I tasted cracked pepper, dusty plums and […]

Corison, Kronos, and Cathy!

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When Megan and I first drove up to Corison, smack in the middle of busy Highway 29 in the Napa Valley, I was struck by the charm of the little yellow cottage in front.  The unassuming winery behind the cottage was bustle with the frenzy of the mobile bottling line, but Cathy Corison welcomed us in anyway and took us on a walk around the Kronos Estate Vineyard. Cathy Corison has been working in wine for more than 20 years.  She honed her craft at Napa Valley staworts like Chappellet Vineyard, Staglin Family Vineyard, York Creek Vineyards and Long Meadow Ranch.  While making wine for other people, she kept wanted to express her own wine voice, and so in 1987 the first Corison Cabernet was born. The location of the winery is on the benchland between Rutherford and St. Helena, and is known to produce world class Cabernet.  The soil here on the Rutherford Bench is stony alluvial, and it is the best kind of growing condition for Cabernet.   The old vines produce a bold, powerful and elegant wine with red and black fruit showing through with grace and satin luminosity. The estate’s Kronos Vineyard is in fact one of the oldest Cabernet vineyards in the region, and therefore is a rare treat.  At a time many in the wine business were ripping out old vines to replant and go with the modern technologies, this vineyard stayed put.  These granddaddies aer 37 years old (give or take), and are farmed organically.  Corison has owned the land since 1995 and the first vintage was 1996. These meaty vines are thick as tree trucks, and yield such small numbers that you would think you were at a fruit stand and not a winery.  That said, the resulting juice holds a terrific array of flavors with concentrated fruit and refined structure. As we heard the story of the winery and Cathy’s career, we tasted through 4 of the Cabernets, each with their own style and flavor, but each an amazing treat. 1996 Kronos Cabernet – this was the first vintage produced after Corison bought the property.  This wine is alive with grass,  green pepper, plum, spice and blackberry.  It still has a lot of fruit for a 12 year old wine, and I could really pick out the cherry.  It is in the European style, and is powerful but still elegant. 1997 Kronos- Dark, deep, difficult to get nose.  More tannin and less fruit.  Firmer texture.  Slight flavor of grape bubble gum  More spice, less fruit, subtle.  Violets, dried roses, floral, nice acidity with a lot of spice. 2003 Corison Cabernet SauvignonPicking the delicious 2003 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon was a challenge, but luckily I had my last picking scheduled just as the long, wicked late September heat spike hit. The fruit got to the winery in excellent shape and without the sugars going through the roof. The otherwise even ripening season from veraison through the middle of September delivered complex flavors and inky […]

Don’t cry for me Argentina!

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The truth is, your wine is AMAZING!  I have been drinking this or that from Argentina for several years, since it’s a great value, but I must admit, I didn’t love it.  That is, until the good folks at Benson Marketing and VineConnections put together a blogger tasting to introduce us to their selections from the Mendoza and surrounding areas.  yum! First, a bit about Argentina in general.  Argentina is the world’s 5th largest wine producing country.  When you compare that to France, Italy, Australia, and the U.S., considering the size of the country, that’s a lot of juice!  There are many varieties that are produced, but the most well known is probably Malbec.  The primary growing region of Mendoza has four sub-appellations:  Lujan du Cuyo; Maipu; Uco Valley; and Eastern Mendoza.  While there is very little natural rainfall, most of the vineyards are between 2000 and 4700′ in elevation, and there is natural drainage from the snows off the Andes above.  I was excited to taste some Argentinian wine that I wasn’t guessing blind at, since most of my prior experiences had been mediocre mass market options form Cost Plus and Costco. The first wine we tasted was the Celestina Rose of Malbec, a sparkler that was a surprising treat.  I have tasting Sparkling Shiraz before, and was happily surprised at the interesting flavors, but the Malbec was amazing.  This was 100% Malbec, and the low 12.8% ABV was a nice reminder that not all wine needs to be over the top and  punchy.  Since Argentinians in general drink a lot of bubbles, something like 35 liters per person per year.  This wine was a blood rose color, with a yeasty nose and flavors of hibiscus, pink grapefruit and wild strawberry.  It is bottle fermented and aged for 14 months in the bottle, and retails for a low low price of $20.  Buy Next, we moved on to the Crios Torrontes.  I found jasmine, honeysuckle, honey and wildflowers in this white which reminded me of Muscat.  It was interesting as it was the only wine that wasn’t from Mendoza, but I loved it.  It had a ton of tropical fruit, musk melon, and a lovely perfumey nose.  At $15, it’s a great white for any occasion,especially seafood and salads.  I would love to have this with a nice fruit salad, or even a green salad with a citrus dressing.  Strong Buy From the whites, we moved in to the red wines of Mendoza. Malbec is Argentina’s signature red wine grape and one of the Bordeaux grape varieties.  Malbec was brought to Argentina by the French in the mid 186s, where it found a new home in Mendoza and thrived in the long growing seasons.  Since Mendoza gets over 300 sunshine days a year, the grape took off.  An interesting point about Argentinian Malbec is that there are now 22 distinct clones, which they plant on their own rootstock.  Most wine in Argentina was produced  for domestic consumption but as […]

Oh these hallowed Halls

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It’s the day after the WBC, and my trusty drinking buddy Megan (@sonadora) were wandering around Napa Valley, eager to make some new discoveries.  As luck would have it, we were personally invited to a Bloggers Day at Hall Napa Valley, a fairly large production facility, in St Helena.  Little did I know, I would leave that day with a much kinder view of that “other” valley, as well as a profound respect for an established winery who opened their doors and barrel room to a posse of renegade bloggers. Hall is most well known for it’s Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons.  They are also the first GOLD LEED Certified winery in California (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).  They take their environmental responsibility seriously, and employ a variety of methods to ensure that they are eco balanced and green in all senses of the world.  Some of the tools they use to achieve this are bio-diesel powered farm equipment, solar power, radiant cooling & heating, and sustainable farming practices.  In fact, the solar power provides approximately 35% of Hall’s total reneger needs, and they are successfully selling back power during the strong sunny moths in the summer.  The LEED certification process is a complex multi-year undertaking, and Hall will be the first winery to achieve this. We met up with Joe, Amy, Liz, and the team from Hall at the St. Helena tasting room at production center.  Here, we were greeted with a taste of the 2008 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, which retails for a very affordable $20.  I found the Sav Blanc very fruity, and crisp without being sharp.  It is fermented in 100% stainless steel, and has delicious citrus.  The vineyard manager explained to us that thinning the canopy and dropping some of the grape clusters actually helps bring out the citrus characteristics, more so than say a grassy Sav Blanc.  That brought up a good point – is that grassy flavor profile a flaw or a style?  The intimation was the the grassiness can come from over shading the grapes, which doesn’t allow the natural sunlight through.  I personally prefer a more well rounded Sav Blanc, so whatever the technique, this was a strong buy. After we tasted some of the juice, we headed out to the winery to learn about how Hall practices green wine making and learn more about their winery.  On the catwalk, we learned from winemaker Steve Leveque about their gravity flow winery, which they can expand in the future.  Three sections in the barrel room allow the winemakers to store wines in independent temperature controlled rooms, which allows for better aging and separation. The St. Helena winery sits on the grounds of one of Napa’s oldest structures, where the historic distillary operated in teh 1940s, making brandy and wine.  The original structure was built in 1885, and that structure transformed in to the Coop winemaking facility in Napa, which was somewhat of a local eyesore.  Fortunately, Hall has plans to restore the […]

Forgive me, for I have zinned! A WBW Post

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For this month’s adventure in the themed blogging topic known as Wine Blogging Wednesday, our hostess @sonadora from Wannabe Wino, is hosting us for the 5th Anniversary.  This time, Megan goes back to her love of Zinfandel, and encourages us to taste our favorite zins paired with some yummy BBQ. As luck would have it, this post coincided with the annual ZAP Summer Celebration, which is famous for it’s BBQ and plethora of zins.  To start out, we took a little tour of some of the ZAP producer vineyards, starting out with Pete Seghesio at Saini Vineyards.  Saini was planted in 1946, and is now run by the 4th generation of Sainis.  Prior to being farmed for grapes, it was planted with apples, pears, and prunes, as was much of the Dry Creek Valley where this vineyard is located. You may not have known this, but dry farmed zin can be one of the most difficult grapes to grow because it can rot from the inside out; the cool fog that drifts in to the valley over the western mountains cools down the fruit and can make it damp, and prone to botrytis.  Now, if you’re in to Sauternes, this is a good thing.  In red wine, not so much!  Dry farming also can have a 1pt increase in the over all brix (measurement of sugar) a day, in the summer heat. From Saini Vineyard, we went over to Lytton Springs, where Ridge has 175 acres planted next to their straw bale winery.  One of the most interesting things we saw was a newly planted field on the drive in, which is a purpose ffield blending of Zinfandel, Charbono, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Mataro, Cinsualt, Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Palomino and pretty much everything else in the kitchen sink.  This is an old school Italian field blend, and should be some interesting stuff.  Ridge will be harvesting this vineyard block by block, and while this will allow them to harvest depending on each varietals individual ripening, it will undoubtedly have some cross over. The Lytton Springs Vineyard is planted on old river rock, and you can really see the red soil coming through.  This vineyard is on a small bench, that seperates the Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys, and is between 80-100 feet in elevation.  The red river rock holds those 100 year old Zin vines in the cool morning fog, with hot summer afternoons.  This will give it a district flavor profile from the Saini Vieyard, which is on the more fertile flood plain of the Russian River. Ridge purchased fruit here since 1972, and bought he property in the early 1990s, making it part of their estate portfolio.  There has been zin planted here since the very early 1900s, when the old Captain Litton (spelling changed later) owned the land and had a large variety of grapes growing here.  That history of complementary varitals is show in that new field blend I mentioned above. But enough about the grapes, what […]

Chile is HOT!

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I’ve been talking a lot recently about value wines, and where you can find good value and good wine.  Chile happens to be one such place.  I’ve written about that here, here, here and here.  Oh yeah, and here too. Recently, RF Binder and the Wines of Chile people put together a premier tasting for bloggers, where we had the winemakers, the wine players, and the wine bloggers participating in an online tasting including a video uplink to Chile.  I have to say, this was one of the most enjoyable live tasting events I’ve done in a while. We blew threw them extremely quickly, but here are my tasting notes: Emiliana Natura Sauvignon Blanc 2008 – this wine is from the Casablanca Valley in Chile, which is one of the fastest growing areas for viticulture in Chile, especially for Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.   These varietals thrive in the cool growing region, which is known for high acidity and fresh fruit aromas.  The proximity to the ocean make the climate mild, with no extreme temperature extremes. I found this wine very enjoyable, and a GREAT deal at $10.99, and even better deal for less.   It was grassy on the nose, reminiscent of New Zealand sauvignon blancs, but was followed by crisp citrus fruit and green apple.  My Aussie friend who was tasting me is normally a NZ Sav Blanc drinker, but she said “super yummy!” which is high praise indeed!  This bottle did not last the night, because we kept going back to it.  Emiliana has two lines, and the Natura is from the Organically grown line.  They are certified organic grapes, and this is one of the best examples of a successfully made organic wine that I hvae had in a while.  Run, don’t walk to stock up on this summer sipper. STRONG BUY Cono Sur Visión Pinot Noir 2008 – say what you will about California Pinot Noir, this wine was NOT good.  I don’t find it old world, and I don’t find it good.  I’ve had several Pinot Noirs from Chile to see if I can find ONE that I like but alas, I still have not. The Colchauga Valley region is the 2nd largest appellation in Chile, and is typically known for Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Malbec and Syrah. I did not find much complexity in this wine, and found it flat and dusty.  It had notes of sour cherries, and I found it muddy.  It was decidedly better at the end of the evening in a 2nd taste, but even at $15, I’d have to give this wine an avoid. AVOID if you like New World Pinot Los Vascos Reserve 2006 – interestingly, this is one of the wines I tasted a while ago and found to be terrible.  It goes to show you, that anything can happen in transport, and I can clearly say that the previous bottle i tasted was off because I really enjoyed this wine. It is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Carmenere, […]

Spotlight on: Chile

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With the economy in the state of panic that is is, and my wine budget being usurped by silly things like groceries, I have been spending a lot of  time recently seeing out budget friendly wines that are tasty alternatives to their North American counterparts.  Chile is one such place.  With a plethora of not so good wines on the market, you have to seek out the good stuff, but there is plenty of good stuff to be had! Before I became a wine blogger, I used to by Chilean wine at Cost Plus or Costo when I was feeling the penny pinch.  One of my favorite brands was Montes, and in particular the Montes Alpha Cabernet.  At $15 for a very rich and smooth cab, I thought this was a steal.  Now that i am blogging, I am lucky enough to have made friends with Rob Bralow, who works for the Wines of Chile PR folks and has given me different samples to try as well as a ton of information.  Armed with this knowledge, I can now go forth and shop for Sauvignon Blancs and Cabernet Sauvignon blends and feel confident that I can find a tasty treat under budget! First, a little geography lesson. Chile is a long, narrow country that hugs the west coast of South America.  It is widely known for its stunning Andes mountains, but is increasingly known for it’s wines.  Wine grapes in Chile are primary grown between the latitudes of 32 and 38 degrees south, which is similar to southern Spain and parts of North Africa.  The differnece between these European regions and Chile is the climate.  Chile is a more temperate zone, with mild summers and winters.  It has a Meddi9terrain climate, and is similar to Calfornia in that way. Chilean wine has a long winemaking history, which began in the 16th cnetury wwhen the conquistaor brought their European Vitis Vinifera grapes with them.  Later on, i nthe 1700s, the fighting varitals of Cabernet Sauvignona nd Merlot were planted. Carménère is relatively new to Chile, but was often mistaken for Merlot in the younger days of their wine industry.  In the 1990s it was finally recognized as it’s own varietal, which was broght over from Europe before it was wiped out there frm teh phylloxera epidemic. Carménère is hard to produce in cooler climates becuse it is a late ripening grape, but it was well suited to Chile’s temperate cilmate.     Chile has many different wine regions and they can produce vasty different wines.  This is mostly owing to the fact that Chiles geography is NOrth to South, so you have roughtly the distance of Seattle to Los Angeles to deal with.  As we all know, Los Angeles ain’t no Seattle!  Some regions that you may have heard of are: Aconcagua, which includes two smaller regions.  This is one of the newest regions, and is one of the cooler micro climates in Chile.  It has had  success growing Chardonnay and […]

A Folio of wines!

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There is something so alluring about a tasting room that offers several different wineries tasting in one convenient location.  Folio Winemakers Studio is one such place, and I popped int here one afternoon to do some tasting, since I happened to be stopping by. First, a little history on Folio.  Folio Winemakers Studio pours many brands, and is home to I’M (Isabel Mondavi), Oberon, Hangtime, Medusa, Spellbound and Mayro-Murdick wines.  It was founded by the Michael Mondavi family in 2004.  If you’re not sure which branch of the family tree Michael is on, it is the Robert Mondavi tree that sprouts these roots.  Michael is Robert’s oldest son, and it was together that they founded the Napa Valley dynasty known as Robert Mondavi Winery.  Now, five years after the sale of that winery, Michael has this new venture.  Folio houses the Michael Mondavi home brands, but they are I have been to Folio on a couple of occasions, but none of them compare to this trip.  My Twitter friend, Lessley VanHoutan (@foliowinemakers) kept asking me when I would get up there to visit, so I finally took advantage of her offer and was treated like royalty!  I arrived with Russ the Winehiker and The Brix Chicks in tow, and proceed to spend the better part of an afternoon relaxing and chatting away as we tasting through most of the reds. I started with a flight of pinots, being my passion, but then couldn’t stop and kept moving down the list.  It just got better and better, so without further ado, here are my highlights: 2005 Mayro Murdick Santa Lucia Highlands – Rich, cloves & spice.  Bright cherries and cola. 2004 Trinitas Mataro – blending with Petite Sirah, and a touch of Black Malbesie (I’m sure I spelled that wrong since I can’t find it on Able Grape!)  This was one of my faves.  Blueberries, blackberries, dark bark.  Dark chocolate.  I had to take one home. 2005 Hangtime Mounts Vineyard Syrah – Because it came from one of my favorite small vineyards in Sonoma, I just HAD to try this syrah.  Of course, I was not disappointed.  Inky rich, cocoa deliciousness.  Also came home with me. 2005 Oberon Oso Vineyard Pope Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – aged in 100% new French Oak, this was not my favorite cab, but it was a good value and tasty. 2006 Embelem Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon – Rutherford cabs are my weakness!  This is a new label, and was generously poured pre-release.  WOW!  Chocolate, deep rich sipping wine.  Classic Napa Cab but not overpowering.  Very appellation specific and clearly showed the Rutherford dust.  I will be back to buy this baby. 2005 Medusa Old Vine Zinfandel – easy drinking, smokey, food friendly zin.  This was not a fruit bomb but was simply lovely. With over 30 wines to pour, I highly recommend you stop by and try a few for yourself!  I am headed back up there this weekend, and plan to try some of the whites, […]