Everyone say it with me!


Albariño (
/ˌal.baˈɾiː.ɲo/Galician) or Alvarinho (/ˌal.vaˈɾiː.ɲo/Portuguese) is a variety of white wine grape grown in Galicia (northwest Spain) and northern Portugal, where it is used to make varietal white wines.

I’ve decided recently to refocus my efforts on my Century Club application, and really expand my international knowledge of wine as well as tasting more California varietals.

Last night at dinner, we opened the 2007 Bokicsh Albariño (Mokelumne River), which was a sample provided to me by my friends at Wine Q.


This Albariño is produced in Lodi, a hot growing region in Central Californian which has recently become a hot bed of Spanish varietal production. While Lodi has long been known for producing some of the States most prized Zinfandels, the Spainairds are invading this hot dry growing region, with some amazing results.

Bokicsh also produces another Albariño, as well as Garnacha and Tempranillo, two classic Spanish varietals, among others.

This Albariño was a lovely aromatic white wine that had a lot of citrus aroma. It was a rich golden straw color, that really shone in the glass. I smelled lemons, lime leaves, and a touch of earth. I tasted a burst of citrus flavors, like grown up lemonade, with a twist of lemon rind, followed by an interesting hazelnut character. Because it is 100% stainless steel fermented, you don’t see any oaky or toasted notes like you would in many other California whites. The nutty flavors are a component of the wine itself.

We all really enjoyed the mouthfeel of the Albariño , which was not light but not heavy. It coated the palate with the rich flavors, and had a long finish.

While i really enjoyed this wine, i think it could have been even better if we served it with the spicy Middle Eastern fish dish we were having with dinner. The bright acidity and citrus flavors would have cut through the spiciness nicely, and really complimented the fish.

 

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88…89…90! Ready or not! Here I come!

What’s the point? What IS a point?

10 point scales, A-F Grades, 5 star systems. How do we rate wine? Is it right? Is it accurate? Could it be, *gasp* subjective?

Dhonig, our illustrious host of 2 Days Per Bottle, has kicked off the 89 Project, a community blog where wine bloggers everywhere can contribute their notes on 89 point wines.

Are they undervalued? Are they amazing Are they crap?

Head on over and read my first contribution!

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In South Australia I was born

Heave away, Haul away!
In South Australia ’round Cape Horn,
We’re bound for South Australia!

As you might have guessed, this post is about Aussie wines. A week ago, I was able to attend a fantastic tasting presented by South and The Jug Shop in San Francisco.

South is a wine bar in SOMA that specializes in wine & food from Down Under, and I love it. I’ve picked out my favorites (ok, fine, the wines I purchased) to write about, since there were so many to drink that night and I lost track of my tasting notes at the end! The Traveling Winemakers of the Country Vintner is a road show of Aussie offerings (with one New Zealand host for good measure). This wine event gave us Yanks an opportunity to taste some smaller production and country vintner examples in a fun format, at a small venue.

We tasted a large variety of wines, from five wineries from all over Oz – Pemberton and Denmark, way out Western Australia-way, over east to South Australia’s Adelaide Hills, a few clicks north to the Barossa Valley, then across the Tasman to NZ’s famed Marlborough district.

  • LOOSE END – Barossa Valley, South Australia

Loose End gets my Gold Star winner of the night award. Rob’s GSM blend was stunning and RIDICULOUSLY affordable! The 2005 Loose End GSM Blend retails for $16, and is a smooth ripe blend of 43% Grenache, 30% Shiraz, and 27% Merlot. For a full bodied red with dark fruit and spice, you cannot beat this for the money.

The other wine that Loose End poured was a classic Aussie Shiraz. Typically, I am not a huge fan of the Barossa Shiraz that we get here in the states, mainly because I find them over oaked and over manipulated. This was the exception to the rule. The 2005 Loose End Barossa Shiraz Viognier blend is fermented on 4% of Viognier grapes which gives this wine a beautiful aromatic quality and softens the hard edges you can sometimes find in Shiraz, and shows blackberries, chocolate and and earthly backbone.

  • Vinaceous Wines & West Cape Howe – Denmark, Western Australia

Vinanceous wins for Best Label Design. In addition, the content of those bottles were AMAZING!

The 2006 Vinaceous Red Right Hand blend of Syrah, Grenanche and of all things Tempranillo, was unusual. It showed as a juicy red, with some interesting spice and great body. I also enjoyed the Snake Charmer Shiraz. While more expensive than the Loose End, at only $24, this was an affordable wine as well.

The other label produced by this winemaker, West Cape Howe, had a lovely Unwooded Chardonnay that was really creamy and delicious without having that overpowering oak characteristic. I don’t drink very much white, but I really enjoyed this wine with its crisp & juicy flavors, topped with some mineral and citrus. For less than $20, you can drink this at a Barbie, a picnic, or at the beach.

I could go on for days here, but these were my favorites. Thanks so much to South & The Jug Shop for their hospitality and great wines! Please stop by The Jug Shop to pick up your own Down Under in a Box and if you’re in San Francisco, check our their tasting eventsHERE!

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Tweeps, Eats, and East Bay Drinks!

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 good rest! After all, I needed to be perky for my next few wine activities!

Stay tuned for reports on those. Happy drinking!

 

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Where has the summer gone?

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!

  1. Eric Ross Winery
  2. Family Wineries
  3. Kenwood
  4. Kaz Winery & Vineyards
  5. Loxton Cellars
  6. Muscardini Cellars & Ty Caton Vineyards
  7. The Wine Room
  8. 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:

 

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Pinot Envy indeed!

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!

 

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A Rosé By Any Other Name is…

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:

The moral of this pink story? Go out and try some pink!

 

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And speaking of Roses…

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!

 

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Pretty in Pink

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!

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To Infinity, and BEYOND!

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

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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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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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