Chile is HOT!

Published on :

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

Published on :

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 […]

All in the family!

Published on :

France!  Varietal labels!  Two levels!  Oh boy oh boy!  I can’t tell you how excited I was when I got the invitation to taste two labels, Robert Skalli and Fortant, in a wine bar that I have been dying to check out, CAV. Since I have not had a lot of exposure to old world wine, and Old World wine that I enjoy, I was excited to learn about these two labels with the winemaker, Laurent Sauvage. Robert Skalli began his career in southern France in the 1970s, where he earned his stripes before setting the French wine world on it’s ear in the 80s by throwing the establishment to the wind by producing France’s first single varietal wines.  Until he came along, France was dominated by centuries of classic blending techniques.  The upstart Skalli wanted to showcase the quality of the fruit while simplifying the wines for the new wine drinker.  The second label, Fortant, was created to showcase premier wines at a price that anybody could afford.  This was a foreign concept in the mid 1980s.  The introduction of varital specific wines to the South of France was an interesting prospect, since there was a lot of unexplored territory in wine growing regions.  This was a revolutionary idea that was quickly adopted by many wine growers.  It’s interesting to note that the Skalli family also owns St. Supery, located in the Napa Valley – which I recently wrote about HERE. I have a greater appreciation for producers that have multiple houses, because I think it gives them a full understanding of the different styles of wine that are produced in the wide variety of physical locations. Here in the States, we are used to having varitally specific wines.  I think this is one of the reasons why old world wine can be intimidating to the average American consumer, because we don’t’ know what goes in to the detailed AOC labeling process.  Producing single varietal wines makes it easy to showcase the stars of a region, while simplifying the buying process for the consumer. Skalli and Fortant wines are creations of the Languedoc.  This is the largest of the growing regions in the south of France, which is rich in micro climates and terroir. The Languedoc wine region is included in the much larger Vin de Pays d’Oc.  This region overs the southeastern coastal Gulf of Lion, from the border of Spain to the famous South of France region of Provence.  The total production is approximately 700,000 hectares (1 729 737 acres).  It is the largest wine producing region in the world, and produces more than a third of France’s total wine production. While historically, the Languedoc has been known for producing many of France’s bulk wines or Vins Ordinaries” there are increasingly, new stars being discovered in this region. All of the wines we tasted were value priced, ranging in price from the steal of $6.99 to the moderate $18.99.  While I enjoyed all of the tastes, I […]

Just say no to OAK!

Published on :

WOW!  What a day.  The mercury has reached 90 degrees, in SAN FRANCISCO.  IN APRIL!  Mother Nature is sure ticked off.  The saving grace to this terrible heat wave is that I have been enjoying some very nice white wines of late.  Now, you probably know that I am a red girl through and through, and have been known to drink Pinot with my fish, but there is something so relaxing about a cold white on a red hot day. When I got home from work, my house was an oven, and the last thing I could think of doing was opening a red.  So I made myself some cold chicken salad, and cracked open a bottle of Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay that I have had stashed in my fridge for a while.  The unoaked version of the classic white is my cup of tea.  I have long held the belief that we have destroyed a perfectly lovely white wine varietal by turning it the color of pee and adding oak essence to it.  I personally prefer the minerally citrus inspired dry and crisp light whites from France.  While this was by no means a light white, it was a refreshing change of pace. While it goes through 100% malolactic fermentation, which gives it a rich and creamy mouthfeel.  Then, this wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and never sees oak barrels, hence the unoaked label.   I tasted butterscotch, vanilla pudding, and tropical fruits as well as crisper citrus notes.  This was like eating a juicy green apple, and it was very refreshing on a hot hot day. I know i’ll be buying it again if i can find it!  The Kim Cracford Unoaked Chardonnay retails for around $15-18, and can be found at BevMo and Wine.com among other places.  Examples of Chardonnay of this quality and style are why i have permanently cancelled my membership int eh ABC Club (Anything But Chardonnay).  I hope too will give some of these a try! Google

A Folio of wines!

Published on :

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, […]

It’s a well kept secret!

Published on :

Recently, the good PR folks from The Wines of Chile (@RobBralow) sent me a surprise box of wine samples. In this box, held a treat for the sense, and an 89 pointer. Ok fine, really it was 88 points by the Spectator but it was voted a Best Buy. The 2006 Viu Secreto Malbec hails from the Colchagua Valley region of Chile. The Colchagua Valley lies about 80 miles southwest of Santiago, and has a moderate climate. It has often been compared to Napa in many ways, but I bet you won’t find a Napa Malbec at this price point! This Malbec is priced at a fighting $10-15, and is worth every penny in my opinion. I immediately smell a smokey richness, with fennel and herbs. It is a rich and chewy wine, which one would expect in the over $20 category, but is a treat at this price point. On the palate, there is heavy plum and herb, with an earthy richness. I also taste lavendar and a nice pepper overtone. Chile has become my go to region for budget minded wines. I have personally tasted several Cabernet blends that are priced around $10 and are a STEAL. Particular varietals that do well in Chile are Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Sauvingnon Blanc. I’m still exploring other varietals, so please stay tuned! Walk, don’t run to your local shop for this gem! Cross posted to the 89 Project   Google  

I’m going to hell in a handbasket!

Published on :

thirst⋅y ɜrsti/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [thur-stee] –adjective, thirst⋅i⋅er, thirst⋅i⋅est. 1. feeling or having thirst; craving liquid. 2. needing moisture, as land; parched; dry or arid: the thirsty soil. 3. eagerly desirous; eager: thirsty for news. 4. causing thirst: Digging is thirsty work pa⋅gan /ˈpeɪgən/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [pey-guhn] –noun 1. one of a people or community observing a polytheistic religion, as the ancient Romans and Greeks. 2. a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim. 3. an irreligious or hedonistic person. –adjective 4. pertaining to the worship or worshipers of any religion that is neither Christian, Jewish, nor Muslim. 5. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of pagans. 6. irreligious or hedonistic. Thirsty Pagan Communion Red: This little gem of a red blend was sent to me as a sample to the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman’s Smooch Club, which, if this is any example, promises to WOW you. Upon first glance, you might think this is an average wine, with it’s stevlin closure.  Thirsty Pagans pride themselves on the fact that they only produce a minuscule 250 cases a year, so they didn’t want to risk cork taint.  I’m all for it, as screw caps provide easy access for this Lush. Then, you notice the label.  See?  Over there to the left?  Yes, that is the label.  Three monks drinking with a wench.  It got you to look right?  Of course, they have had their share of controversy, and if you ask a certain Catholic from Idaho, we are all going to hell for supporting them.  Clearly, if I can have this wine in hell, i’m happy to go there for admiring the religious iconography on the lable. Now, about the wine.  This 2005 red blend comes from Horse Heaven Hills.  Where the HELL is HOrse heaven Hills you ask?  HHH is a part of the much larger Columbia Valley AVA in southeastern Washington state, and is one of Washingtons newest AVAs.  This appelation is known for it’s award winning cabernet sauvignon, and this blend is 75% cab, the shining star. Additionally, the Communion Red has 15% Merlot, 5% Malbec, and 5% Petite Verdot.  I taste delicious dark fruit, particularly cherries, and blackberries, with a back end of  smoke, tobacco and mincemeat spices.  I also taste a hint of plum in there.  Even though i don’t taste bacon, I can taste smoked meats, and I bet this would be a treat with bacon & caramelized onion pizza as well as a BLT.  This is a big boy, and shouldn’t be taken lightly.  It’s big, bold and spicy, but with a smooth finish.  Kind of like an Isaac Hayes song. I absolutely LOVE this wine!  Thank you Catie for turning me on!  To the wine.  Now, I know you all want your own Thirsty Pagan so head on over to Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman and pick yourselves up a few!  $26 is a small price to pay for this much sinning. If you haven’t checked out her Smooch […]

Life ain’t a barrel of monkeys, but it’s sure a Barrel (Tasting) of wine!

Published on :

The weekend before last, I spent my 2nd weekend up in Dry Creek & Russian River Valley, searching for some new wines and trying to impress my blogging buddies Matt, Robbin, Joe & Amy.  Also along for the ride were Shana and Liza, my regular drinking buddies. Everything started out innocently enough, with a requisite trip to Truett Hurst to pick up our glasses.  From there, we headed over to Pappietro Perry, who is making some mighty fine pinot noirs that I really enjoy.  Jim, the up and coming wine social media man about town, joined us, and we wandered in to Amphora with our winemaking blogging friend Patrick of Iridesse Wines.   Now, I have not been to Amphora in quite a long time, and as luck would have it, another favorite Lush, Patrick had an inside scoop.  We headed in to the VIP tasting, and were given a whirlwind tour of their offerings.  I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of wine now being presented and will have to go back. From Amphora, the posse invaded Michel-Schlumberger, and availed ourselves on Judd’s hospitality once again.  At this point, we were a bit of a mixed bag, since we kept losing cell reception and Amy & Joe were meandering around the countryside somewhere north of Occidental trying t meet us.  Shana and her crew were sidetracked at Kokomo, so we just continued on our way, drinking through the amazing Dry Creek Pinot that MS has.  Additionally, their Bordeaux blend in barrel as well as the finished versions were stunning. After MS, it was across the driveway to Mounts Family Winery where we had to give Lana a big shout out.   Since Shana and I were there the weekend before, we had some idea of what they were pouring, but after tasting the Malbec again, I decided to split a case of futures with Liza.  The malbec is something Mounts has only done once before, and it was delicious.  I am SO excited to taste the finished thing! Since it was getting late, and we had a date in town for Twitter Taste Live, we hightailed it to the Front Street Five, where Patrick’s wife Genevieve was pouring at Camelia.  Since it’s a collection of smaller wineries, I dragged my friends in to Holdredge, where John treated us to a barrel room raid.  I have been going to Holdredge for years, and really love their pinots – but this was my first secret taste of Strawberry Fields and The Other One; these are John’s special blends that are mostly for personal consumption, but he was offering a few futures for special customers. Next to Holdredge, we had a few minutes, so we went back to Hudson Street Wineries, a new coop tasting room that I talked a bit about here.  Sine it was last in the day, we had more time to chat and drink. Saturday ended with a drinking fest at Palette Art Cafe, who warmly welcomed a VERY […]

Up and Coming producers you should know about

Published on :

I have long been an advocate of shopping locally, while thinking globally, and I think the same can be applied to wine.  I have always thought that I would rather spend $30 on a bottle that was produced by a small time operator that was locally owned, then $15 on a corporate wine that will get lost in the economies of scale. Particularly in this time of economic distress, I think it’s more important than ever to support the little guy.  I am in a unique position to be able to afford the luxury of wine, and I do what i can to support the small retailers and producers. This past weekend, my social media and wine friend Shana (@sharayray) and I took off for parts well known, but wineries not as well known, for Weekend 1 of Russian River Barrel Tasting.  Along the way, while I admit we ducked in to old favorites, we also discovered new favorites among the list of some 100+ wineries pouring their wares for this annual event.  Here are some of our favorites from the first weekend, with more to come next weekend! Truett Hurst (@truetthurst) yes ok old fave but have to plug it!) Who is making amazing Petite Sirah as well as Pinot and several zins on their bio-dynamic property on Dry Creek Road. Mounts Family Winery (@mountsfamwinery) – While I have been going to Mounts for several years, their hidden location off of West Dry Creek Rd. makes them a gem that is just starting to be discovered.  The family atmosphere and the delicious Rhone focused wine is worth a visit even on your most hurried trip.  I really love their Syrah and Zin, and we got to taste their 2nd ever Malbec, which will be released in another year or two. Michel-Schlumberger (@m_schlumberger), an historic winery but well off the beaten path, next to Mounts.  Boy what a visit we had!  After meandering through the cellar to taste some barrels, we tasted current releases which were being offered for a great deal.  Furthermore, they were having their annual Stash Sale, and Shana and I scored a case of 2001 Pinot for a song.  YES, I know we were in Dry Creek, but the 2005 & 2001 pinots were exquisite!  The property is up against the ridgeline, and the cool fog and Russian River influence provide a morsel of pinot passion here.  Oh did I mention their Cabs were phenomenal too?  Judd, the President and Chief Blogger Ambassador, kept us entertained with the libations and we were hard pressed to leave.  We’ll be back next weekend! Copain Wine Cellars (@copain) – This was my first visit to Copain, but I have been hearing about it from my friends in the wine community for several months.  With expansive views of the Russian River valley from it’s perch above Eastside Road, the wine and the views will keep me coming back for more.  Their Rhone varietals were representative of the region and I […]

Jumping frogs, Twisted wines, and Sneaky Syrah

Published on :

Who needs romantic candlelit dinners?  Who needs chocolate and sweet nothings?  Not me.  I had a much better Valentine’s Day weekend, spend slurping the good stuff in one of the hottest new wine regions of California, Calaveras County. My first visits to this area were whizzing by Douglas Flat on the way to go skiing at Bear Valley or Dodge Ridge.  Then, as I got older, we would take summer trips to Sonora and Jackson to learn about the Gold Rush history.   Last fall, however, my eyes were opened when I took my first trip to Murphys to go wine tasting.  I had my first taste of wine from this area, and fell in love. First, a little history, just so I can shake off all of you lurkers and get the real readers in here.  OK just kidding!  The name Calaveras is Spanish for “skulls”, which is probably from the bones found by the Spanish Captain, Gabriel Moraga.  Calaveras County also gained notieraity when Mark Twain wrote the short story“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County“.  The area was settled The town of Murphys, with some 15 tasting rooms on Main Street, was settled during the Gold Rush by – spoiler alert – brothers Daniel and John Murphy.  They ran the local supply store, where they became rich off of the prospectors who needed supplies. Now, with it’s cluster of tasting rooms on a short meander, Murphys’ tasting rooms take you on a history walk through town, while enjoying some fabulous wine. Wine has been made in these parts since the late 1800s, to supply the growing towns and miners with their elixirs.  Much like Amador County, immigrants brought the wine making techniques with them.  While certain other areas of the state are more well known, I think that Calaveras County will continue to grow (but not too much) and develop in to a wine power, while maintaining it’s small town charm.  This area is idea for growing Spanish and Rhone varietals, as it is very hot and dry in the summer, with snow and true winter in the later months.  As such, we tasted several Viogniers, Grenaches and Syrahs.  There is also a long history of Zinfandel being grown in these parts, and the oldest known zin planting is a 110 year old vineyard producing some potent juice!  Part of the allure of Murphys is that the tasting rooms are intimate, it’s rarely crowded (except for a bad experience with a bus of retirees from Modesto), the people are genuinely happy to see you, and there are great wines at amazing prices.  Have I mentioned that most wineries do not charge a tasting fee?  If they do, it’s rarely more than a few dollars and worth every cent. Some fothe highlights of my weekend were: Twisted Oak Presidents in Lust Dinner – This dinner, which humorously combines Presidents Day with Valentines Day, offered scrumptious treats by Sugar & Spice Catering in Jackson, paired with the best of Twisted […]

Free the Grapes! The New Zealand grapes!

Published on :

Sunday, February 8th, is Waitangi Day Tasting at South Food & Wine Bar in San Francisco. Since February 6th is the anniversary of the treaty of Waitangi, where the Maoris and the Brits agreed to British rule and create “New” Zealand.  Why it’s a British colony is slightly amusing, since “Zeeland” is Dutch for lands by the sea.  Oh well! While there is clearly controversy over occupied lands, much like our Native American history, we can celebrate this day for giving us the lovly wines of New Zealand. As such, The Jug Shop, my favorite Down Under importer here in SF has teamed up with South Food & Wine Bar, to present an afternoon of New Zealand New Releases, paired with delectable treats like the cheeses of New Zealand. The soiree is from 2pm to 4pm, Sunday, February 8th at South, which is south of Market, and costs  the mere sum of $30.  I know what you’re thinking.  It’s a recession!  That’s too much!  Trust me on this – if you have never been to a tasting at South, it is well worth the cost of admission.  The quality of the food pairings and the amount and quality of the wines poured are worth more than the cost of admission, and the fun you will have with me, The Jug Shop, and the Kiwi producers is unmatched. Hope to see you there! Oh yes, if you are going, it’s Cash Only at the door so please RSVP to South Food & Wine Bar by phone or email phone at 415.974.5599 email to info AT southfwb.com   Google

Where has the summer gone?

Published on :

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

Weekend Wine-ing with the BrixChicks!

Published on :

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 […]

A Passport to New Discoveries

Published on :

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