Pinot pinot pinot!

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A while back, I expressed my frustration at the lack of a Press & Trade portion of the Annual Pinot Days Celebration in San Francisco, coming up on June 28th.  I am happy to be able to eat my words, sort of.  Even thought they producers of the event were not willing to participate in an additional session, the event organizers were able to convince the some odd wineries pouring that the trade should be allowed to attend gratis. Thankfully, I will be attending Pinot Days this year, cost or not cost – so I am happy to be able to feel good about announcement it again. Pinot Days San Francisco Assembles Hundreds of Pinot Noir producers, and even more wine, for an exclusive wine tasting experience in San Francisco.  Over 600 pinot noirs will be poured at the 5th Annual Pinot Days, a four day event that takes place from June 25th to June 28th. Kicking off the week of festivities will be a tasting at The Jug Shop, focusing on Sonoma and beyond.  The Tour de California will showcases pinots from some of my favorite producers, including Eno Wines, Fort Ross, Kendric and Olsen Ogden.  This tasting is $10, and is from  6-8 on Tuesday, June 23rd.  The Jug Shop is also offering 10% off Pinot Days Grand Tasting tickets, which is a great deal if you can get it.  Just enter promo code JUGSHOP for your discount when buying tickets. On Wednesday, June 24th, Ed Kurtzman will be spotlighted in a producer tasting at Ft Mason from 7-9pm.  The cost for this is $100. Also on Wednesday, 16 16 Young Turks of the pinot world will show of their hard work at the Golden Gateway Room in Ft. Mason. Come hear their stories and enjoy the fruits of their labor. You will taste 16 different pinots in flights of four, and you will taste them blind. This is a rare chance to discover the next great pinots, and to spend time with these winemakers as they ascend to great heights. On Thursday, June 25th, there is a Winemakers Table Hop Dinner at Pres a Vi, where over 20 producers will be pouring Pinots paired with Chef Kelly Degala’s  wine-friendly cuisine, infusing each dish he creates with flavors and from around the world, including Spanish, Filipino, French, Italian and Latin American influences. The table hop dinner is $150. On Friday, June 26th, C. Donatiello Winery in Dry Creek Valley is hosting a Pinot Days Summer Concert at their winery. They specialize in premium single vineyard pinot noir, and you can enjoy a day of exquisite pinot along Westside Road, culminating in a concert, tasting and barbeque. Your bus tour will include special tastings at Arista, John Tyler, Gary Farrell, and the new Thomas George (at the spectacularly remodeled Davis Bynum Winery). You will then enjoy a special tour and tasting at C. Donatiello Winery, followed by a barbeque and concert. During the barbeque you will enjoy the wines […]

Open that Bottle already!

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Have you ever wanted an excuse to open a special bottle of wine you have been holding on to, but just can’t quite bring yourself to crack?  Now is your chance! Saturday, February 28th, marks the annual Open That Bottle Night celebration, an event started by that wine writing couple from the Wall Street Journal – Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher. In the late 1990s, OTBN was born as an opportunity encourage their readers not to be intimidated by their wine, and to open a significant bottle and share their stories. Since wine blogging has exploded int he last year or so, I am partnering with Vinquire (my other wine obsession) and Wilson Daniels, along with twitter Taste Live, to open some tasty treats and share with you.  Wilson Daniels is a full services sales & marketing company, which represents brands from throughout the US as well as internationally.  Having worked with them on Passion for Pinot as well as this event, I am impressed by their quality of product as well as service.  Check them out! I will be blending wine earlier in the day, but around 6pm PT / 9pm ET, please join me on Twitter (@vinquire) to hear about the following wines, generously provided by Wilson Daniels.  If you can’t play along, check out The Jug Shop or your favorite retailer, and participate from your sofa, easy chair, or corkage free restaurant!  If you are having trouble locating the wines, please click the links below, which will take you to our Vinquire search page. 2005 Marc Kreydenweiss Kritt Pinot Blanc "Les Charmes", Alsace, France 2006 Domaine Pierre Morey Aligoté, Burgundy, France 2005 Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Perrières, Costières de Nîmes, France 2006 Tenuta di Biserno Insolgio del Cinghiale, Toscana IGT; Italy Hope you can all join us!  By the way, I found out about a nifty new Twitter tool.  Have you tried Tweet Grid?  This cool little app lets you follow along with hashtags like #ttl.  It auto refreshes too!   Google  

G’day mate! Drink for a cause.

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Wow it’s been a wet weekend.  Fortunately we have been catching up on our drought ravaged region’s rain consumption, but Australia has not been as lucky.  If you haven’t heard, there are over 13 separate out of control wild fires (called bushfires in Oz) burning as we speak.  With Victoria being one of the most prolific wine producing regions in Australia, many well known names have been catastrophically affected. Some of the many fires have been intentionally set, and many lives have been lost.  To benefit the Australian Red Cross, which is assisting with those 7000 people left homeless and over 300 people that have been killed by these fires, The Jug Shop has partnered with Crushpad to host a benefit this Friday, Feb 20th, at Crushpad in San Francisco.  for those of you that remember our own wildfires here in California, please try to make this event where several of Victoria’s greatest wines will be poured for your $30 donation. Please RSVP HERE.  Advanced registration is essential.  No tickets will be sold at the door. http://www.advance.org/en/cev/reg/744/ The event takes place on Friday Feb 20th at Crushpad – 2573 – Third Street in San Francisco If you would like to donate additional funds or items to a fundraising auction, please email Dawn Lillington at ozchamber@aol.com   If you’d like more information regarding the fires and information on how to donate directly to the Australian Red Cross, please visit: http://www.advance.org/en/art/?3541 Google  

Sparkeling…Shiraz?

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Whodda thunk it! a couple of weeks ago, I went to The Jug Shop’s annual Sparkling Shiraz Extravaganza. While there, I tasted through 11 examples of sparkling shiraz, a very interesting red quaffer that I’d only tasted once before. In Australia. When I was drunk. Even though I went in with preconceived notions, I was pleasantly surprised at the variety and flavor these sparking reds provided. They are a great accompaniment for meat dishes, and I think I may even serve one at Thanksgiving! Here are my results, which you can compare with The Jug Shop’s official notes here. I have used a 5 star scale, to test it out but I have a lot of middle of the road notes so bear with me as I expand my palate here. 2004 Paringa Sparkeling Shiraz – Blood red color. Musty pomegranate & berry flavors. Lots of cherry & berry, very fruity and refreshing. 3 Stars Hardy’s Sparkeling Shiraz NV – dark and brooding, with earthy cherry cider and a bit of couch syrup. 3 Stars Black Chook Sparkling Shiraz NV – funky. Acidic and vinegar. Strange! Did not rate. Bleasdale Sparkling Shiraz ‘The Red Brute’ NV – Sweet red fruit and ripe berries. Meaty and sweet red fruit, oak on finihs. Tannic end. Juicy. 3.25 Stars 2005 Majella Sparkeling Shiraz – Cool climate with minimal oak, no cork! Dry, oaky nose. Very dry, best served with rich meats. Lots of cherry. Tasted a lot like a classic champagne, with pepper, smoke, and earth. Very good. 3.75 Stars Trevor Jones Sparkeling Shiraz NV – A lot of wood and funk. Very dry, excellent food pairings. Underripe cherries and juicy pomegranate & cranberry. 3 Stars Charles Melton Sparkling Shiraz NV – Dark red with brick hues. Earthy nose, with a lot of oak. Lighter body than the others. Refined pepper & spice, with a brandy finish. 3 Stars Wild Duck Creek Sparkling Shiraz NV – Very rare example of sparkling shiraz. Dry savory meat flavored with cranberry jice and pomedrantie. Earthy with finish that dissipates quickly. 3.5 Stars 2002 Barossa Valley Estates Sparkling Shiraz – Smells like a classic Barossa shiraz, huge, rich, coffee notes with molasses and plum flavors. 3.5 Stars I did not review the last two wines, so I apologize!

In South Australia I was born

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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 […]

Pinot Envy indeed!

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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!   Google