Get yourself sorted!

Rockabilly Red is a racy little number that comes from Sort this Out Cellars, a new Twitter friend, based in Buellton, CA, part of the Santa Ynez Valley growing region and made famous for certain OTHER varietals in some movie they made there that went upside down and backwards <wink wink>.

Sort This Out Cellars is one of those fun, irreverent producers that I love – and love to promote.  While I don’t personally go in for critter labels, different labels and some that are fun tend to draw my attention.  Rockabilly Red is one of those wines that has a fun label, with a flaming guitar that really makes you want to sing some Buddy Holly while you drink it!

STOC is a small producer that makes wine from several regions in California.  They like to be different, and explore varietals and appellations all over the state that are indicative of our variety.  Since they don’t own any vines, they are free to buy the best and brightest fruit that shows off what California does best.

The Rockabilly Red is a saucy number made from Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  On the first day, I found it chewy, with cherries, smoke, leather and tobacco followed by coffee and bittersweet chocolate.  It came on strong, but I let it sit overnight, and tasted it again the next day.  After 24 hrs, it was starting to show off it’s dark blue and red fruits, and softened up a bit to reveal a lot more chocolate and blackberry.  YUM!  I would definitely decant this sucker again after a nice visit with the decanter, and really enjoyed the strength.  It would pairs well with hearty beef and pasta dishes, and retails for $25.  STOC is winery direct, meaning you can’t find it elsewhere, so talk to Felicia and order yours today!

Check it out for yourself!  You can also follow them on Twitter and check out their blog here!

Playing with balls…


Second labels are hot right now.  They are one way for a winery, who might be struggling with the economy, to use some of their juice and develop a lower price point wine.  or they might just be a way for the winemakers to have a little fun with their wine.

Pétanque wines are made by Michel-Schlumberger, a leader in California premium wines, specifically for enjoying BBQ season, picnics, and Pétanque, the French game of lawn bowling.  recently, I had the chance to attend their opening party at Michel-Schlumberger, where the wines were being poured, the balls were being thrown, and band was swinging.  for $25, we got to eat the yummy food, dance with the Brother Cat Band, and drink all the wine we could!  In fact, Judd kept coming around to refill our glasses.  Probably to keep us, the riff-raff out of the rest of the crowd  😉

At the party, I was able to taste the line up of affordable, easy drinking quaffers that are value priced between $12.95 and $16.95  At these prices, you can enjoy a bottle every night!  part of the fun of these wines, is that we were outside in the garden, drinking from tumblers instead of glasses, and playing with balls as we drank and danced all afternoon long.  What a fun day!

First, I tasted the 2007 Sav Blanc.  On a warm spring day in Dry Creek, this hit the spot.  The grapes for this citrus driven white were from Paso Robles, and it was aged in stainless steel  It’s a nicely balanced low alcohol wine at 13.^%.

Next, even though I generally run screaming from Chardonnay, I had to give this one a try.  Most because my friend Judd was pouring it, but hey, what the hell  this is actually an unoaked chard, which made me smile.  I am not a huge chardy fan, and this was was decent, even if it wasn’t my favorite.

My favorite of the lineup, and the one I drank all afternoon over and over, was the 2006 Syrah.  It was a big soft syrah, that came from right there in Dry Creek Valley.  It was very easy to drink and I did.  A lot!  I wasn’t really taking notes, but I just remember this was a fantastic BBQ wine.

Next, came the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.  This came from the Sierra Foothills, and I was surprised about that since I don’t generally associated that area with Cab.  It was ok, but not really my cup of tea.  I found it too woody.

The moral of this story is, if you find a winery that makes a second label, and you really enjoy their first, give it a shot!  There are great values out there and you might just have some fun trying them!  I’m big on the budget wines, and while I appreciate a special bottle and drink lots of that too, I love that there are tasting treats out there that are prime priced for a party.



Twitter turns a corner

And dies.  So much for Twitter Taste LIVE right?  Although we didnt’ get to tweet and share our tasting notes in real time, I was very happy to be able to share the Cornerstone Cellars Napa wines with my group of blogger friends anyway.

So there we were, surrounded by friends, sipping on some amazing Cabernet and eating some tasty treats provided by The Winehiker.

We worked backwards from 2005 to 2002, and while we probably could have let these air more, time did not allow.  If i were to taste them again, I would decant them all for at least 2 hours before the first taste, and periodically taste them over 24 hours to give them their full potential.

Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2005$65

This is 100% Cab Sav, and comes from three areas of Napa:  Howell Mountain, the western edge of Oakville, and the Southeast corner of Napa Valley.  The blending of these three distinct areas really created something special here.

Wow!  What a big boy.  I immediately smelled dark fruit, cherry and blackberry.  Upon first sip, it was like drinking blackberry cider, with some baking spice to top it off.  This was a full but soft wine, with some earthy spice on the backend.  It’s ready to drink now, and is full and lush with very little noticeable tannin.  What I love about this cab is that it is not overpowering, both of fruit and on oak.  Nicely balanced.

Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain 2004 – $100

This 2004 Howell Mountain came from a high elevation vineyard, which shows off the complexity of the Howell Mountain District.

I tasted a lot of cocoa powder, followed by soft rich fruit, baking spices and evergreen.  The dark fruit was nicely ripened, and the bits of earth really balanced out the rich fruit.  It’s a big, bold, but soft wine with a great backbone.  I found that the 2004 had more structure than the 05 Napa, and it showed with tons of blackberry and meaty characteristics.  it was a full wine, and one you could chew on.  I found the 05 Napa was fruitier and plusher than this wine, and the Howell Mtn could stand up to a good pice of meat.



The 2004 was definitely my favorite of the night.  It had the power of a classic Napa cab, but was not overwhelming.  At the same time, it had a nice balance of fruit and a good.

Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain 2002 (Library Release) – $125

This is the Library Reserve selection of the Howell Mountain, and it was very interesting to taste them side by side.  I found it to be a bit lackluster for my taste, with flavors of stewed fruit.  It had a very meaty flavor profile, but was a bit muddy.  I enjoyed all three of these wines, and even enjoyed the 2002 Howell Mountain, but preferred the 2004.

Thanks for another fun event!

Spotlight on: Chile

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 Pinot Noir, and has often been compared to the Carneros region of California, which is one of my personal favorites.
  • Valle Central, has four separate smaller regions.  Some of the most well known are the Maipo Valley and the Rapel Valley.  These smaller sub regions are Chile’s most prolific wine regions, and have a large export program, primarily becuase it is very close to the city of Santiago.  The Maipo Valley and Rapel regions are known for Cabernet Sauvignon.

Recently, several major wine houses in the US and Europe have planted roots in Chile to globalize their efforts.  Some of the efforts are more successful than others, but it’s a good indicator of an up and coming region!  I hope you have learned something and are going to go out and buy some Chilean wines.  With most price points being under $20, and may hovering around $10, you can afford to experiement!  If you’re interested in my Chilean reviews, you can find them here:

Secrets revealed! Lose weight with wine!

It’s a well kept secrret!

The North, vs. The South – a WBW Adventure

Red Hot Chilean Wine!

Is it Chile in here, or is it just me?