It’s the PINOT stupid!

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Recently, I was lucky enough to attend the 7th Annual Passion for Pinot Summit.  This was an opportunity for the Pinot Noir lover, Press & Trade to get together and have a Pinot Noir Taste-Off. This is a unique event that really pulls the lid off of wine judging, and allows the average Josephine to become a wine judge for a day.  While the officially judges taste 32 wines each day for an eternity until the contenders were whittled down, the attendees at the Summit were given the top 44 wines to taste blind in The Final Showdown.  Additionally, the attendees at the Pinot Summit got to vote on our top 3 wines, in a Girls vs. Boys challenge, that shows us that there really is a difference in biological palates. Below are my tasting notes from my favorites, plus the group winners by gender, and the over all judges winners for kicks.  I’ve also included some tasting notes, just cuz, well, they help! Here are my 90+ pointers. Color Points Tasting Notes Wine Name Lilac 92 Rich spices, black raspberry. Dr Pepper, lavender. Herbs Fort Ross 2005 Estate Reserve Black 92 Brick color. Cherry, chocolate, black cherry Sonoma Coast Vineyards 2005 Freestone Hills Red 92 Deep dark rich red. Bright red fruit, cherry cola. Brown sugar, raspberry jam. Black cherry. Baking spices. Left Edge Winery 2007 Bodega Rdige Vyd Chartreuse 92 Pale, light, cola. Very light, dried oranges. Bargetto 2006 Dark Red 91 Pomegranate, red zinger tea, strawberry jam RN Estate 2007 Fiddlestix Vyd Khaki 91 Cherry cola, slight barnyard that blew off. Pomegranate, bright cherries, bark, mushrooms Segue Cellars 2007 Filligreen Vyd Coral 90 Back cherry, dark earth. Roses & lavender. Herbaceous. Zesty. Heart O’ The Mountain 2006 Estate Blue/Green 90 Light juicy, cloves & spice, mince meat Adobe Road Winery 2006 Blue 90 Big spicy fruit. Dr Pepper. Vision Cellars 2007 Coster Vyds Deep Purpple 90 Bronze red. Rhubarb pie, spicy smoke Londer Vyds 2006 Paraboll Periwinkle 90 Very light. Nice balance, light spice. Cherry. Claiborne & Churchhill 2006 Twin Creeks Pumpkin 90 Raspberry, cranberry, hibiscus, great with food. Brutocao Cellars 2006 Estate Bottled Purple 90 Big rich syrah like. Blackberry Jam. David Brucie Winery 2005 Reserve Once the business was out of the way, the wines were unveiled, and we were invited to the Grand Tasting reception.  This was when we matched our favorite wines, previously only identified as colors, to their names.  This was also when we could see the medal winners from the official competition, as well as try some other offerings from the participating wineries. Here’s how my top three compared to the rest of the attendees: Summit Men Panel Men Summit Women Panel Women Purple– David Bruce 2005 Reserve Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast Red– Left Edge Winery 2007 Bodega Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noit, Sonoma Coast Red – Left Edge Winery 2007 Bodega Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noit, Sonoma Coast Turquoise – Bohemian Vineyard 2007 Freestone Estate Pinot Noir, Russian River Periwinkle– Claiborne & […]

Show me your juice, and no one gets hurt.

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PINOT!  PINOT!  PINOT! Pinot Noir, the heartbreak grape. It’s a picky little woman, but when you get it right, you get it SO very right!  Pinot Noir is also a very seductive grape, and one that I go back to over and over again.  The beauty of this wine is that it is extremely susceptible to the local terroir, and I can really taste the differences between Carneros, Russian River Valley, and Santa Lucia Highlands.  Each growing area has tell tale flavor profiles, while adhereing to the beautiful baseline of earth that drives Pinot.  After the release of Sideways in 2004, a huge resurgence in Pinot lovers emerged.  Now, there has been some backlash against that, but I still love it.  Pinot Noir seems to be a more mature wine in many ways, and for me – a more experienced palate can appreciate it.  I still love Zin, but more often than not I reach for a bottle of pinot. Affairs of the Vine is once again presenting the 7th Annual Passionate about Pinot Noir Summit.  This year’s event takes place on April 5th, at the Marin JCC. The 7th Annual Pinot Noir Shootout will showcase Pinot Noirs from near and far, including Chile, France, Australia and of course, California and Oregon. The Summit is our unique opportunity to taste the top 40 finalists in the shootout blind.  We then get to compare our results to the judges results!  After the Shootout – Final Showdown, attendees are invited to attend Pinot specific seminars such as Food & Pinot Pairings, A Question of Style, Discovering New Stars and more.  Finally, at the end of the day, there will be an unveiling of the blind tasting, as well as an award ceremony. Having attended this event last year, I can tell you it was not only extremely enjoyable, but VERY educational.  In fact, this is where I first met, and inspired my friend Liza (@brixchick_liza) to start her illustrious blog, BrixChicks! If that wasn’t worth it, I don’t know what is.  I hope you can join myself, Valerie (@winedog), and Shana (@sharayray) for some Pinot Passion! Tickets are $100, but discounts can be obtained HERE.  You can purhcase tickets HERE. For complete details about this event, please see the Affairs of the Vine webiste. Happy Drinking and I look forward to a full post event report!   Google   PINOT!  PINOT!  PINOT!

I’ve got it! Passion! For Pinot that is…

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Wow!  It’s that time again.  Twitter Taste Live!  This time, the good folks at Twitter Taste Live & Wilson Daniels are bringing us a delicious trio of Pinot Noir.  This TTL is dedicated to the love of Pinot, particularly since Jordan Mackay, the author of Passion for Pinot, will be in attendance at The Jug Shop to show off the book. “Jordan Mackay has devoted the last eight years exploring, understanding, and writing about wine. Formerly a writer for Texas Monthly and wine columnist for the Austin American Statesman, he became Wine and Spirits editor for San Francisco’s 7×7 Magazine, and a contributing writer to Wine and Spirits. He has written about food and wine in publications ranging from Food and Wine, Gourmet, Decanter, and Wine Enthusiast to the New York Tim   es, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle.” For this event, we have several groups getting together.  I will in Healdsburg with a posse of wine bloggers, including Matt (@mmwine), Shana (@sharayray), Amy (@winewonkette) & Joe (@houstonwino).  After enjoying a day of Barrel Tasting in Dry Creek, we will settle down for dinner and pinots.  Having been one of the elite pre-tasters with Agent Red at Wilson Daniels in January, I am anticipating this live tasting event more than others. We will be tasting the following line up on Saturday, March 14th at 5pm PT: WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Noir 2007 Gainey Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2006 Sonoma Coast Vineyards Pinot Noir 2005 If you have any trouble finding the “official” wines, just grab your favorite pinot and taste along!  Hope to see you in the Twitterverse. Google  

Pinot Pinot Pinot!

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Yes it’s true.  It’s another post about Pinot Noir.  What can I say?  I love it!  Recently, I was invited to participate in a tasting selection committee for an upcoming Twitter Taste Live.  The illustrious Wine Spies, and the luxury wine company Wilson Daniels were our hosts, as we tasted our way through 6 premium Pinots from California and Oregon. Since this tasting was blind, I will review them blind and then reveal the secret at the end including what we will be tasting on March 14th, for the Passion for Pinot TTL. I hope you will join us as we taste wines A, D, and E live across the country! Wine A – I love Pinot Noir.  I mean i REALLY love pinot.  This 2005 Sonoma Coast example was no disappointment.  This juicy little number had a bright cherry nose, with hints of Jolly Rancher, a bit of spice, and characteristic cherry cola aroma.  I also found a slight vegetal & herbaceous quality, which had a touch of mint & ceder on the initial sniff, but opened up in to bright fruit and mushrooms.  I tasted bright strawberries, cherries, and raspberry juice, and really liked the long lingering finish with baking spices tingling my tongue.   A tasty delight that I will seek out and buy again!  I gave this wine an A-, high praise from this lush since I am a picky pinotphile. Wine B – Pale ruby purple color, with candy apples and strawberries on the nose.  A floral, spicy wine that tasted a bit hot, with a ton of pepper and spice on the finish.  I detected a hint of smoke, and black raspberries along with dusty earth.  B+ Wine C – Minty fresh, like toothpaste, on the nose.  The palate seemed to have less fruit than A & B.  Lots of evergreen and eucalyptus aromas.  Earthy and forest floor, with a sweet note on the finish.  Finish was not as long as the others, but still enjoyable.  It seemed a bit sharp.  B Wine D – Nose had a classic cherry cola and baking spice smell.  Almost like a mince meat pie at Thanksgiving.  The palate tasted slightly flat to me, with dust and earth.  A lot of dusty pepper.  There were tons of dark baking spices in the palate, which I normally like but this had a lot of alcohol that was obvious in the taste.  There was a bright berry profile underneath.  C Wine E – Cherry co la, strong berry and cheery flavor with strawberry and raspberry.  White pepper and spice, with a slightly dull finish like dusty nutmeg.  B+ Wine F – Deep reddish purple color, with rich spices and black cheery aroma.  The palate has rich black cherries and bark in the background, with notes of Dr. Pepper and oaky spice.  I detected a slight sour cherry finish but mainly enjoyed the dark cherry cola.  B In our crew of tasters, wine A came in first place, followed closely by […]

Bacon Fridays are here!

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  It’s no secret that I love bacon.  Bacon on pizza, bacon by itself, bacon bacon bacon.  To this end, I am starting a weekly wine & bacon pairing feature, which was inspired by two recent events. First, Wine Blogging Wednesday #53 had us pair wines with breakfast foods.  The BBLT paired with The Spaniard was heavenly. Second, I was put in touch with The Bacon Freak, who declares that bacon is meat candy. Since i happy to agree with this statement, we discussed my featuring his delicious dry cured & season rubbed bacons with some wine selections.  Sign me up! First up, I made an easy weeknight supper of Apple Cider Brown Sugar Chicken, which is wrapped in Cinnamon Apple Bacon. To prepare this dish, take two boneless skinless chicken breasts.  Rinse them off, and pat dry.   Add the breasts to a glass baking dish.  This is important because you don’t want the next ingredient reacting with the metal. Pour 1/2 cup Apple Cider vinegar over the chicken.  The vinegar keeps the chicken moist, and gives it a lovely apple flavor. Now, take 4 strips of Baby Bubba’s Butcher Block Bacon – Apple Cinnamon, and lay 2 over each breast.  you might need to tuck the ends under, so they stay on the chicken while baking.  I chose the Apple Cinnamon bacon because it enhanceds the apple flavor of the chicken dish, and the Cinnamon is a natural companion for the brown sugar in the sauce. Spread 3 Tablespoons of brown sugar over the chicken and bacon.   The brown sugar will melt in to the vinegar, and create an amazing sauce.  The bacon and vinegar will keep the chicken moist. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, depending on the size of your pieces.  Just check after that time to make sure the chicken is done and the bacon is cooked.  I serve this dish with a refreshing spinach salad, with a tangy dressing. Now for the wine pairing!  Because the chicken is a sweet dish, I needed to find a wine that would play off the sugar and apple flavors.  I chose a Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, because they tend to be big wines.  This area also produces a bold fruit flavor in the Pinot Noirs, which pairs nicely with the apple and Cinnamon flavors in the Chicken.  The fruit forwardness can be perceived as sweetness, which works in this case because when you pair a sweet with a sweet, they cancel each other out and you can realy taste the flavors in the food and the wine. I forgot to take a picture before I ate it so next time, I’ll try to get that to you! I hope you enjoy this dish and I  look forward to hearing your experiments! Next week:  Jalepeno Bacon Cheese Popovers with Zinfandel, in celebration of ZAP!  The Zinfandel Festival Google  

What happens in Napa, stays in Napa. And the blogesphere. And Twitterverse.

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This past Sunday, I was fortunate enough to have my Luscious Lush self and my big mouth invited to a blogger panel discussion, hosted by Lisa de Bruin (@winedivergirl) of Hahn Estates.  At this discussion were several fellow bloggers and industry folks, as well as a large contingent of the Hahn team, who were on hand to discuss their wines as well as how they can more effectively interact with us wine blogger types. First, let me get this out of the way.  I am going to talk about some wines.  I am going to talk about some Hahn Estates wines.  These wines were tasted at a hosted event, but these comments express ONLY my opinions.  I am choosing to write about the wines that stood out in my memory as being exceptional or noteworthy, because i like to share things I like.  Moving right along then! In attendance, we had the following bloggers: JJ Bagley and Alan Kropf of Mutineer Magazine Laura Wagren of 1000 Corks Xandria & Liza of The Brix Chicks (@lorzandra & @brixchick_liza) Ward Kadel of WineLog (@drxeno) Shana Ray of Shana; not out on VHS yet (@sharayray) Chris Butts of the The Kilted Blog (@chrisbutts) Sam Ackman of 1000 Corks Chris Oggenfuss of Vintuba (@vintuba) Russ Beebe of California Wine Hikes (@winehiker) Additionally, we had two wineries represented, which added a unique perspective. Jeff Stai, Owner Twisted Oak Winery and winery blogger on El Bloggo Torcido (@eljefetwisted) Judd Wallenbrock of Humanitas Wines and Michel-Schlumberger, winery blogger of Drink Charitably (@humanitas) From Hahn, we had: Andy Mitchell, Director of Vineyard Operations Adam Lazarre, Winemaker Bill Leigon, President Evelyn Pool, VP of Marketing Lisa Adams Walter, PR (@lisaadamswalter) and of course, our illustrious hostess herself – Lisa de Bruin, Director of New Media Marketing (@winedivergirl) This event was envisioned by Lisa de Bruin, with a lot of input from various bloggers and industry folks, as an opportunity to open the dialogue between wineries and bloggers.  This has been something of a challenge in recent weeks, and has incited some rioting (friendly fire only!).  Before the lively discussion started, however, we were treated to a tasting of some of the Bin 36 and Lucienne offerings.  Below are my notes from my favorites: 2006 Lucienne Pinot Noir, Lone Oak Vineyard Rich ruby color.  Rich without being sweet or overdone.  Black cherry, earth.  Strawberry fruit rollup, cherry and plum.  Tastes slightly salty. The Lone Oak Vineyard is in an area of the Santa Lucia Highlands that produces world class pinot noir.  Case in point, Lone Oak actually sits between Gary’s Vineyard and Rosellas Vineyard, which are both well known in pinot circles for producing some cult pinot noirs. We also tasted the 2006 Lucienne Pinot Noir, Doctors Vineyard This had a much chewier mouth feel, with black raspberry and Bing cherries, followed by plums and earthy spice flavors. I enjoyed both of these pinots very much, and would say that for drinking along, Doctors is a great choice.  If you […]

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

June Already!

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So you’ll have to forgive me for not doing this sooner, but I decided to migrate my email list to a blog. Mind you, I am not an experience blogger, so please bear with me! I’ll be adding things here as I think of them, or as they come up, so be sure to bookmark me and check back regularly.  How is it June! Well, as shocked as I am, June is the month for wine. And birthdays. And vacations. So many things, so little time!  With the global climate shift causing strange and unusual weather patterns, I decided that I better drink as much good wine as possible to stave off the bevy of new illnesses we will probably get. No no, I’m not a pessimist. Just looking for an excuse! Thanks to Gabriella from Catavino, who’s doctor told her to drink more and eat more meat, I am following suit.  Open House  Saturday June 21 Happy Anniversary to Crushpad! http://applications.crushpadwine.com/event/50.3   S an Francisco Wine Enthusiasts Meet the Winemakers Wednesday June 25 I really enjoy these meet the winemakers sessions, because it gives us a chance to get to know some very small producers that you might not otherwise get to know.This month, it might be our final episode because we have had a hard time attracting crowds. Please take a moment, find a friend, and come on down to see and try: Sterling Albert Winery Concord’s only winery and winemaker, will be pouring wines sourced from grapes grown on Mt. Diablo where many of the state’s more respected vineyards grew before Prohibition. You’ll also enjoy his Lake County Cab Franc from 35 year old vines that will produce no more, having recently been pulled out to make way for progress. Pietra Santa Winery Pietra Santa, located next door to Josh Jensen’s Calera winery, will be sampling estate wines from Cienega Valley including their Super Tuscan Blend Sassolino as well as their SangioveseDolcetto. and Vin Nostro The winemaker of Vin Nostro, Dario Zucconi, whose family owns Tomasso’s pizzaria, will join us to pour his double gold medal winners, the 2004 Alexander Valley Cab and ’05 Syrah from the Red Hills AVA (Lake County) and his ’05 Dry Creek Valley Zin. Harvest Moon Winery Among its wines, Harvest Moon Estate & Winery will be showcasing several Zins from the Russian River appellation.http://wine.meetup.com/321/calendar/8055401/ A weeklong extravaganza of Pinot Noir! Tuesday June 24 Ottimista Enoteca Pinot Pairings $25 reservations required. Six pinot producers will pour their finest to those interested in tasting and celebrating pinot noir, as paired with pinot-centric foods. Ottimista Enotecca-Cafe is known for its pairings; this is a tasting you do not want to miss. Churchill Cellars Handley Cellars Olson Ogden Wines Philo Ridge Vineyards Hirsch Vineyard and Winery Kanzler Vineyards Thursday June 26 Table Hop Dinners Isa Jack Fallstaff Saturday June 28 Focus Tasting Series This year we are offering three Focus Tastings, each with a regional focus. Each of these tastings will feature 16 of the […]