A wine-full month!

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It’s January, and for me, that means a busy wine month.  First, Winter Wineland is next weekend – January 16-17.  At Winter Wineland, over 100 wineries in Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valley throw open their doors and show their best wines and nibbles. There are some wonderful themes at wineries, including my personal favorite, The Winter Wineland Olympics at Michel-Schlumberger.  I heard tell that there will be an Elvis sighting at Hanna as well!  Now, I normally avoid the wine country on event weekends, but with the list this year including some 5-10 new additions, this is a great opportunity to taste the wares of many wineries on a single weekend, where they show their best bottles.  Thickets are $40 online until 9pm TONIGHT January 11th, and are good for both days.  You can buy 1 or 2 day tickets at the door, but the price increases. That same weekend, Santa Cruz Mountain Wine Assocaition’s Password Weekend allows you the unusual opportunity to visit some of their terrific wineries, many of which are only open on special occasions.  I have enjoyed this event every tiem I’ve gone, and your $40 passport is good until you have every winery stamped.  The passport event is every January, April, July and November, so it’s actually a great way to see all of the Santa Cruz area wineries over the course of a year! Finally, at the end of the month, ZAP!  The Zinfandel Advocates and Producers week long tasting extravaganza hits the town in San Francisco.  nter is January 15th, and this year’s theme is Zinfandel in Paradise, and it promises to be a great event as always. The event weekend kicks off with Thursday, January 28th’s Good Eats & Zin, where noteworthy restaurants and award-winning wineries turn the art of food and wine pairing into an entertaining and approachable affair. Talented chefs present the ultimate combination of distinctive tastes, while winery proprietors offer delectable Zinfandels to match. Friday has two events, starting with Flights! A showcase of Zinfandel, where you can immerse yourself in the hitory and diversity of Zinfandel. Friday evening is Evening with the Winemakers which is your chance to hobnob with famous winemakers and wineaux alike at the intercontinental. The weekend culminates in Grand Tasting on Saturday, where you can taste over 200 zinfandels from around the state, as well as a few from lesser known regions. As luck would have it, my friends at Vintuba are giving away 2 pairs of tickets to the Grand Tasting for some lucky viewers.  You’ll hav eto meander over to their site to find out how to win, but let’s just say , some great words, and facebook are involved.  Deadline to enter is January 15th, so don’t miss out on this great contest! Just Grapes is also giving away 2 tickets to ZAP.  You have until January 23rd to tweet the following to be entered to win: I want to win 2 tickets to the ZAP Zinfandel Festival in San Francisco […]

A Plethora of Pinot

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  Early in September, my friend and fellow blogger, Chris Oggenfuss of Vintuba and also Benziger Family Winery tweeted something about a day of pinot up at the farm (winery).  Far be it for me to miss a pinot party, so off I went to Glen Ellen to visit Benziger, something I hadn’t done in many year  s.I must say, in the past I had been somewhat disappointed in their winemaking efforts, being one of the stops I’d always take out of town visitors.  Sure, the tram tour was cool adn the garden was delightful, but there was something just off about the wine.  Fast forward 10 years and WOW!  I had NO idea that they were up to some awfully good tricks up on that hill past Jack London State Park! The Spotlighton Pinot Event focused on 5 premier offerings of pinot from Benziger, paired with some simply divine cheeses.  Chris generously comped me my tasting tickets, and the staff were gracious and welcoming and poured and poured and poured! The star of the event was Signaterra, Benziger’s new project headed by Rodrigo Soto, a Chilean import who is working wonders. Signaterra wines are the next step for Benziger’s farming philosophy (more on that in another post) and new journeys in wine from premier Sonoma-appellation vineyards.  Signaterra’s magna carta is about integrating the right resources of the Earth, the inescapable forces of Nature, and the attentiveness of Man into a distinctive wine. 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – The cool climate of the Sonoma Coast and Carneros vineyards kept sugars low and complexity high, while a long growing season stretched the harvest over three months.  The net yields were lower, with more concentrated flavors of bright juicy raspberry, dark spicy notes of cola bark and spicy earth with stewed figs.  There were also lovely flavors of deep dark cherry.  I also felt a slight spritz that needs to mellow slightly, and it looked like it was unfiltered.  I really enjoyed this wine and for $26 it has fabulous QPR and is an absolute BUY. 2007 Signaterra Giusti Ranch Pinot Noir – is from the Russian River Valley, and earned my #1 spot in this tasting.  It was rich and luxurious, with dark figs and black fruit, followed by black cherries, black raspberries and cola syrup.  The rich fruit had a back note of cinnamon, and a hint of mushroominess forest floor.  It was $49, but wroth every penny and is a STRONG BUY. 2007 San Remo Vineyard Pinot Noir – is another Russian River example.  This vineyard is in the heart of the Russian River region, and this area is known for it’s bold and elegant pinots, and the cool climate is perfect for Pinot.  The granite soils offer excellent drainage, and is currently practicing sustainable farming techniques.  The winds that sweep through the valley reduce the vigor of the vines, and keep the yield low, producing intense clusters.  This wine had a lot of bright cherry, earthy mushrooms, […]