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Picking the rich, ripe summer tomatoes from the backyard this morning, posting a picture of it to my FB wall, I was inspired to write this post in anticipation about what I would have for lunch today. It was my good friend, Shawnof Wandering-Winofame who helped me with this quick and impromptu brain storm.
What could be better than a simple lunch with simple ingredients and fab bottle of wine to compliment that effort, one with bubbles no less. The wine is a sample I received earlier this summer in a three pack from the great folks at Domaine Chandon just north of me[a few hundred miles]in the Napa Valley. A great place to visit, easily found on the famous route 29 corridor in Yountville. This folks is one tasty bottle of bubbly, it's simply a party waiting to be uncorked and inexpensive to boot. Boat loads of fresh summer strawberries, resting on a flaky croissant crustawait the first slurp of the thirsty vino-sapien, you’ll find it very easy drinking and plush. There is nothing to not like about this great lunch time partner, a wine which I scored 90 points, a sparkling wine you can find most places for a SRP of $20
If you want to make this simple yet delicious lunch for yourself, then run off to the store, farmers market or even your basic grocery outlet, grab some [if you don't have these items already] basil, tomatoes, a couple baguettes, EVOO, fresh garlic,and a block of Parmesan cheese. Now it's time to put together some Italian style bruschetta (pronounced "brusketta"). There are many variations on this recipe, sofeel free to adjust as needed.
Honestly there is no need to turn the oven on to make this easy-breezy lunch time delight, you'll just need a skillet. Dice the tomatoes to the size you're going to be comfortable with and set aside. Cut the entire baguette in half and then cut into pan-size pieces. Add butter to skillet and melt over high-heat, then add the bread, cook until golden brown, pressing down as needed. The bread cooks quickly and leaves it crispy on the outside, but soft inside
Now using the same skillet [one pan operation], add some cooking olive oil, then toss in the tomatoes, again cooking on medium-high heat. You'll know they are ready when you see them start to soften. Now throw in the spices, garlic tooand add the basil at the very end. Now it's ready to be plated unto the baguette, sprinklesome freshly shavedParmesan Cheese over the top, pop the cork on the Chandon and enjoy. Until next time folks remember to, sit back, relax, slurp long and prosper cheers!
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Does anyone remember that song "Love and marriage"
sung by Frank Sinatra, which introducedAmerica to the concept of dysfunction in the form a of a sitcomin the late eighties called Married... with Children
.? While this wine has nothing to do with that show, it does have something in common with that theme kind of, because what is true in marriage is true in wine as well. The marriage of or the bringing together two different varietals toform a blend thatin many cases rival the mono varietal based wines. See even wine is okay by itself as a single entity, but when correctly brought together with other varietalsto form a single but multi-layered thing of beauty, let the quaffing begin.
The song goes, "Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage,"
but in this case it's love and Meritage
, that could make for the operative phrase in your life, Married with Children. What do I mean my that, well the biological imperative could be absolutely enabled by a good Meritage typewine and this easy drinking wine could put you in the right frame of mind rather easily if you get my drift. "wink~wink"
According to good old Wikipedia:
Um what the bleep is a rubric anyways? Survey says, "A rubric is a word or section of text which is traditionally written or printed in red ink to highlight it. The word derives from the Latin: rubrica, meaning red ochre or red chalk."
Little did I know that therubric method is one I've been usingon my blogsince I started writing over two years ago.
The Winery:Blackstone WineryDanger, Will Robinson:
has had some ubiquitous selections on store shelves formanyyears now. Their everyday priced offerings have [thankfully]recently been augmented with the addition of a Sonoma County "reserve"
series of wines.This winery lays in the heart of Sonoma, I drove past it twice just a couple weeks ago but didn't goin as my travels had other destinations in mind.Fornearly 20 years, they’ve cultivated close ties with grape growers and viticulturists throughout Sonoma County
.Sonoma istheir inspiration andtheir home, Sonoma remains the heart of Blackstonewines.
Okay wine-rangers this is a warning, a shot across the bow if you will. Even though I loved, loved
, don't read into my review as a blanket endorsementfor their other cellar dweller wines. Meaning the wines with the brown label selling for $7
just about everywhere are no where near the same quality as their Sonoma Reserve wines, you've been warned. Step up to just $9.99
[at TJ's] and you've hit pay dirt! I'm not like many wine-bloggers, I don't "gush" over every wine that comes across this desk, in fact there's mucho amounts of vinothat will never see the light of day on this blog.Composition:
This red blend
is Blackstone winemaker Gary Sitton's take on a Meritage
-based blend which leads the way at 55%. The winemaker really threw in the proverbial kitchen sink with this blend. So rounding out the blend the other varietals in the mix are Malbec
; Cabernet Franc
; Petit Verdot; Tannat; Merlot
; and Petite Sirah
. The fruit was sourced from the following areas,Dry Creek Valley (59%
), Sonoma County (20%
), Sonoma Valley (15%
), and Alexander Valley (6%
). Treatment and Case size:
Oak [most likely 2nd useFrench]aging occurred over 20
months in combination of new and older barrels. 7,000 cases of this wine were produced. The reason I mention the case size is that while the case size is large the quality is also large and readily available.What's a Meritage:
Well according to theMeritage Alliance "red meritage wines historically have been among the world’s most highly rated wines."
Very true, think about Bordeaux, which isthe model for Meritage wines here in the states.And why are meritage wines so good? Because of "their smooth, silky texture and complex, robust structure coupled with the ability to age beautifully"
— often for decades, while most are also very drinkable in their younger years. Like theBlackstone Winery Sonoma Reserve Rubric Sonoma County 2007
I will be reviewing today. Another word of advice,
for god's sake don't pronounce it like a French word, folks will just roll their eyes and shake their heads in disbelief, it's Mer-it-tige! I really don't mind how you say it, as long as you find yourself of these wonderful wines. Blend Rules:
According to theMeritage Alliance
, "a red meritage is a blend of two
or more of the red “noble” Bordeaux varieties — Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot and the rarer St. Macaire, Gros Verdot and Carmenère." The kicker
, "If the blend includes any other grape variety, it is, by definition, not a Meritage!" Also, to qualify as a Meritage, no single grape variety can make up more than 90%
of the blend. So technically this wine broke the rules and like Reggie Bush, will have to hand in its title or trophy status, sadly it's not a meritage. But it is darn close!Full Disclosure:
Hey FTC and anyone who may care, this wine wassent as a sampleto Cuvée Corner Wine Blog for the review process over 4
weeks ago and has a SRP
.Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score:
Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored92
points on the Cuvée Corner 100
pointscale. The QPR
is off the charts, stupid good for the $9.99 price tag.First Swirl:
I did decant this wine, frankly it didn't really need it [contrary to what you've read on other blogs
]. Sorry Gabe, you're just wrong
. A bright shiny clean purple core, most likely the Malbec kicking in some blue tones and a pale cerise colored rim. First Sniff:
Bold dark and red fruits dominate the pronounced but wonderfully clean nose, while subtle well integrated notes of oak and vanilla dance delightfully together, while wafting gently from the glass. Isn't that a pretty scene? First Slurp:
Holding the goblet up to my mouth, I gave this wine a good [proper technique and all] swirl in that large cavity, sometimes called my mouth.This exerciseconfirmed the impressions I had upon putting my fat half Irish wine loving nose into the glass. This wine taste freaking fantastic, I was utterly amazed at its complexity and the overall flavor profile, dark red fruits, leather, mocha and trace minerality. The tannins were smooth as a babies ass [ohh, he said a bad word]and glided about nicely into a rather nice finish. Good Job, Blackstone!Price and Where to Find:
Okay Chula Vista this is your opportunity, I found a huge cache of this vino at my local Trader Joe's
in East Lake and they are selling it for $9.99
each. You can also buy it from the Blackstone Winery website for a suggested retail price [SRP]of $22
each.C'mon this wine is juststupid goodat the TJ
price, so why would ya get it anywhere else? My Recommendation:
This wine is already sold out at a few TJ's
around town, but you folks in the South Bay obviously need to put down that Two-buck upchuck
and step up to something truly palatable for a few dollars more, your liver will thank you. I'm telling you once this review is posted it will not last long, I've called the over to this store and inquired about the status of this wine, they have something like twenty cases leftand at this price you have myrun don'twalk recommendation
. So hustle your buns down there now, buy a case or twoand please
tell them the Cuvee Corner Wine Blog
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My wife and I just took a wonderful trip to Sonoma and Napa, where we tasted some fantastic wine, made some new friends, met up with folks I only knew through Twitter and talked with winemakers, growers and the folks who meet and greet ya in the tasting rooms.
These are the stories I've been waiting to write, since I returned late just this last Thursday. The first winery I wanted to bring to your attention is Anaba Wines
in Sonoma, in the heart of the Carneros Appellation
. This winery is a new kid on the block relatively speaking. One of the wineries in Sonoma with some very nice Rhone
varietalsin their line up.A visit to this winerywas recommended to by a fine gentlemen [cork-dork]who really has his finger on the pulse of the Sonoma Valley,
his name is William Allen andyou can read his excellent work over at Simple Hedonism,
whichI highly recommend youdo before you plan your next trip.
So Anaba Wines is just down the street from Gloria Ferrer [who I will write up soon]. One reason I wanted to talk about this winery so soon is that their Chardonnay, which I totally loved is heading over to the big wine publications [theglossy page folks]for review, so I wanted to scoop them. This is the power of the Wine Blogging Community, we don't have to wait for "our" articles to come out in print, there's no editor standing over my keyboard telling me what or who to write a story about. Could I use an editor to go over my work before I hit the the big "publish button", umm without a doubt.
But that's beside the point I'm attempting to make, which is Wine Blogs
are your key to finding the best values and where to purchase it, before the big boys get their grimy mitts on it. So the bigger point is this, all youpoint seeking lurkers out their in my audience who love a great California Chardonnay that doesn't have Chateau Two by Four on the label and is one I know will score big with folks over at WE or WS, this wine is one you will want to grab before it's all gone. Because once theyreview the wine, it will be gone in a flash.About Anaba:
Interesting name huh? Curious, I asked where the name came from? The answer, "The windsof Sonoma lentus our name" [my first thought, um okay]. Check out their landing page, where you can betreated to a sample of theAnabatic winds
which are a blessing to the grapes. Their description ofthe prevailing winds, "Wafting softly, with some gusts and gales, they glide through the vineyard rows. As they encounter steeper slopes and drift upward, they become anabatic winds."
The Japanese word Anaba, means "hidden spot" or "special place", but their wines and the quality they have achieved cannot be hidden any longer and with the other reviews I've seen it looks like the cat is out of the bag! By they way they have a lap-top
set up in the tasting room, showing exactly how these winds flow through the area.Why Anaba:
According to the website their were a few contributing factors that drove John Sweazey to open the doors at Anaba, "I created Anaba Wines
because, quite simply,I justlove the wine business."
He never wanted to become a winemaker. John explains, "My desire to get into the business was fueled by my long-time interest in production, making the best possible wine from the finest grapes, then marketing and selling it. To me, that's the romance of wine." and his answer to the question what is wine?Why Sonoma:
According to Anaba Wines
, in 2003John Sweazey [Proprietor] was finally able to begin his search for a premium winegrowing property in Sonoma, finding a serendipitous spot in Western Carneros, where cool winds temper the summer heat, allowing for a longer growing season for his chosen grape varieties.
John explains further, "Sonoma is more attuned to my personality — and is the best place to grow the Rhône Blends and Burgundian varietals that I love."
To that I say, you made a brilliant choice the wine is quite fabulous and although they've ripped up all the Pinot Noir plantings they previously had on their small 10 acre property, they've contracted with none other than Gary Pisoni to continue their Pinot Noir program. If you're at all familiar with Pisoni fruit, than your mouth should be watering just about now.The Wine Maker:
At Anaba, Jennifer Marion
is director of both winemaking and vineyard operations, enabling her to put her [their words]distinct fingerprint on the wine. Anaba winemaker Jennifer Marion believes the art of winemaking finds its soul in the vineyard. When asked about her winemaking approach she said, "I've always said you cannot trust a winemaker with clean shoes and soft hands,"
which is similar to thewell known saying,"You can'ttrust a skinny chef"
and she went on to say "My winemaking philosophy is defined by attention to the details in the vineyard as well as the winery."Full Disclosure:
Hey FTC and anyone who may care, yes my tasting fees were waived and I did receive a discount on my purchases
, but I was given no samples or other special treatment. Just another bloke stopping by the tasting room to see what was new.
I had the opportunity to try many of their wines last week when I visited, butthe one that really caught my attention [and came homewith me]is the wine I will highlight in this review.2008 Anaba Sonoma Coast Chardonnay:
This is wine I was referring to earlier, which is on its way to be reviewed and I predict will be one of those run don't walk recommendations, just remember you saw it here first. Fruit Source:
The fruit was sourced from Sonoma growers: Bacigalupi, Fallen Leaf, Sangiacomo, Bonneau, and Haddad.Treatment: 60%
of the fruit was fermented in stainless steel tanks at 50 degrees without malolactic fermentation. 40%
of our wine was barrel fermented for 11 months in new French oak.First Swirl:
In the glass just brimming with a near golden core and apale rim.First Sniff:
Pronounced aromas of bright crisp pear, green appleleaps from the glass, with a dollop of custard wafting about.First Sip:
Had the taste of crème brulée, lovely Carneros Fruit,a fresh clean wine with a good backbone of acidity, and I picked up some rich tropical notes, threaded through toasty oak notes.Price and Purchase:
This wine can be purchased online through their website or in the tasting room for $28 and in my mind represent a great value for the caliber of wine in the bottle.Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score:
Hey point seekers here's my score if you're interested: Thiswas really good juice andscored 93
points on the Cuvée Corner 100
pointscale, please tell them the CCWB sent ya!2007 Anaba 'J Mc K' Carneros Pinot Noir
This Pinot was fantastic, highly recommended. But this is the last of it, they ripped out this vineyard so get these while you can. $32 and 91 points 2008 Anaba 'Coriol' White, Sonoma Valley
A wonderful Rhone blend, 30% Viognier, 12% Marsanne and 10% Grenache. Very delightful! $28 and89 Points2007 Anaba 'Coriol' Red, Sonoma Valley
Here's another wine from the Rhone Zone with 38% Grenache, 27% Mourvedre, 25% Petite Sirah and round it out with 10% Counoise. $28 and 89 PointsAnaba Red "Aero Port" Wine, Sonoma Valley, NV
A ruby stlye port made with 100%
Syrah grapes and fortified with the same grapes. Anaba goes the extra step and takes their grapes to be distilled, so the spirits added is from the very same Syrah grapes. $28 and 90 PointsAnaba White "Aero Port" Wine, Sonoma Valley, NV
Made from 100%
Viognier grapes and fortified with distilled from their Viognier Grapes. This was one the very best White Ports that I've had the pleasure to taste. Alcohol: 18.4% ABV
and the residual sugar: 9.4%
selling for $28, 89 Points.
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We all know someone who is in the ABC club, who knows it may very well be you. The ABC club, what's that you may ask? If you are in it, then you already know, but for those of you are not familiar acronyms it stands for Anything But Chardonnay. Yes I know some of you may love Chardonnay and can't get enough of it, but many folks are in the the ABC camp, in fact just the other day I wastwittering with someone about what they were imbibing on that evening and I queried [rather tongue in cheek], "not Chardonnay is it?" and received a rather blunt response, not only "no" but "Oh Hell No!". I had to laugh to myself a little, because truly folks this response is the mantraof folks would characterize themselves as part of the ABC camp.
Many do feel this as strongly in their disgust for former President Bush as they do in not having anything to with Chardonnay. Some folks feel this way about all white wines in general, I've personally seen this many times. If you go to any tasting event, you'll definitely find white wines tend to be the wine that is left over at the end of the day, next time you throw a party for a bunch of cork-dorks [technical term], check for yourself I believe you'll see that the white wines will be the last to go or still brimming with a nearly full bottles compared to the red counterparts.
I'm sure everyone is familiar with the phrase "Variety Is The Spice Of Life"which is one of my favorite quotes, and one I subscribe to myself.Isnot life much better when it is filled with a "variety"
of the things we like? Of course it is. It is inevitable that somewinesin your life will become boring and your palate will crave new tastes, new experiences, so it is nice to have otherwines that you still enjoy to fall back on.
Now there's is nothing wrong with with not liking Chardonnay, it's is very plentiful and you can find it on just about any grocery store shelf. But when you've got to the point, that many seasoned wine drinkers get to, the last thing you want is Chardonnay. Especially when the world is brimming over with a virtual cornucopia of other white winesWine with Depth:
Think the Miami heat has depth on the bench? Uh no not compared to this champion with roots in the Northern Rhone Valley of France. It's with the idea of "depth" that I bring to your attention a white wine [that'sNOT Chardonnay
]with somedepth, complexity, intermixed with bold flavors and floral characteristics, sure to please even the most discriminating palates, yes maybe even you lurkers out there.
I present to you Viognier [pronounced vee-oh-nyah].
Which hails from France's Northern Rhone Valley. In fact, according to wine expertRemington Norman
who has identified two
distinct strains of Viognier an "Old World"
strain, most common in Condrieu, and a "New World"
strain, which is found in the Languedoc and other areas. Although made from the same grape, the two strains produce distinctly different wines and Viognier from Condrieu tends to be on the expensive side of the equation. So with that said, you will mostly find the NW strain here in the states, although if youstretched yourself and did some research you could find yourself some of the Old World style. Personality Disorder:
Uh, huh so you thought only people and maybe even your pets were the only ones with personality disorders, even your wine can have the same dysfunction. There are a couple styles of Viognier to be found and the style you chose depends on whether it has been aged in Oak
or Stainless Steel
. If the wine has been aged in Oak, it will give a creamy nuances along with its floral expressions you can also look forward to an in heady bouquet of nectarine, lemon peel and lychee complemented by floral notes of lime blossom and honeysuckle.Butif you prefer the more traditional stainless steel approach, look for more clean flavors, higher acid, a somewhat more restrained styleand but at the same time more elegant, meaning more pronounced on the nose and less on the palate.Pairing Champion:
Viognier's are food pairing champions and can stand up nicely rich creamy dishes and butter based sauces. It is especially good as an appetizer pairing wine, would go beautifully with lightly toasted French baguette cut in small bite size slices covered with a base blend of goat cheese, topped withfig paste, orange rind, just fantastic. Viognier also pairs nicely with soft and semisoft cheeses: Fresh chèvre [goat cheese], gruyère, aged gouda, and double and triple creams, give it a swirl, you won't be disappointed.Other dishes:
Foods that I've found pair best with Viognier quite nicely include but are certainly not limited to, Chicken Cutlets based in an anise, tarragon butter sauce, Roasted Salmon covered in a creamy yogurtherb sauce and will also go nicely with any number seafood dishes, shellfish Scallops, lobster, crab, and shrimp.Shopping Tips:
I've gathered together below some great choices that I've run across myself in Viognier, that I'm sure will please a broad range of palates.K Vintners Viognier 2007
(Columbia Valley; $20
). Edgy spices and minerals under honeyed white peach, orange blossom, and apricot. Itasted this one at the 2010 Walla, WallaWine Bloggers conference this past summer and it's just fantastic.Miner Simpson Vineyard Viognier2007
[Napa Valley, CA $20]
Nice minerality and citrusy yet lush, with white peach and apricot nectar. I've tasted and purchasedthis wine on many occasions and is for sure one of my go-to labels. Year after year, it's a well made wine.Cold Heaven Viognier 2007
[Sta. Rita Hills, CA $24]
Earthy, restrained style, with stone-fruit blossoms, juicy citrus, and white peach notes. I've had this wine a few times and for folks who likethe "dry"approach this would be a great choice, look for the blue label.Les Jamelles Viognier 2007
[Languedoc-Roussillon, Vin de Pays d'Oc France $10
] In the glass you have lovely pale gold color core and watery rim.Nose: A rich, very aromatic wine, with lots of characteristic fruity scents, and typical varietal aromas, such as apricots and fresh white peaches a small bit of white pepper. This wine represents a great value.Fess Parker Viognier 2008
[Santa Barbara, CA $20
] Fess Parker Viognier's like many othersdisplays great fruit focus, offering peach, apricot and pear notes that are ripe and well-structured, with a supple texture. I've had this wine also on many occasions and folks I'm telling ya it is just fantastic California representative style of Viognier. ServingTips:
I recommend tasting this wines chilled, but not so cold as you will lock in many of the wonderful perfume like aromas escaping from the glass, but served too warm and it may resemble more of a petrol profile and you may be thinking about putting it the gas tank instead of your wine glass.
From the wonderful folks atWine Dine TV
I present to you the Viognier as the anti-Chardonnay word of the day!
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Getting a cab in some cities and some situations can be down right difficult, but to be honest gone are the days of showing some leg, or waving umbrellas to grab a cabbies attention. But there you're standing on the sidewalk, facing traffic and . . . nothing. Geez what do have to do to get a "Cab"
? Many folks on that same crowded cornermaybe looking at you wondering to themselves, what are you doing flailing about? Perhaps you're thinking, "duh,I'm obviously waiting for a Cab
". But why won't they stop?
With everyone [clamoring masses] standing ona corner next to youit can bedifficult to find a goodCab, one that isclean, with good structure, paneled with well integratedFrench Oak, plush leather accents bound around some dark fruits, with a bouquet of cedar, cigar box, and currant,which is ready to drink now but will develop further with age. You have to figure out a way to flag this kind of Cab [talking vino now]
down, what to do, wave your hand at them or something or should you whistle, jump up and down scream "hey cabbieeeee?" A possible solution for you just maybe to read a blog like mine or one of the many others out there, see my blog roll
down to the right. Blogs
are a great source for getting the skinny on great tasting juice at reasonable prices.
Most of those methods mentioned above may or may not be effective for hailing a cab to your next destination, however when you're are looking for a wonderful Cab
ernet Sauvignon you have no further to look than the one I'm reviewing for you today. But if you'd like to do more shopping,youwill ultimately have toread some great blogs, walk down many wine store aisles,go to myriad tasting, do some spitting, pouring outand yes even drive or fly out to wine country [called a vacation]in search of a good "Cab"!
That is what I will be doing shortly myself, making another trip up the coast to Napa and Sonoma Valley.
I must have flailed my arms correctly because this time Ihave flagged one downthat's reasonably priced and will definitely take your palate where it has always wanted to go, that place is happy land! I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. You can be too, just get your "happy" little self down to Jonathon's or the San Diego Wine Company, pick up a few bottles, get together with some friends and tweet away the evening about Cabernet Sauvignon the King of Wine.
In keeping with the joys of opening a fat Cabernet Sauvignon
,just before firing up your grill tomake something tasting,I present to you the concept
of one Mr.Rick Bakas
the Social Network Marketing Guru forSt Supery"Cabernet Day"
onThursday Sept. 2nd
which will be on all social media sites. So if you're reading this today, you still have time to join in on thecelebration. The celebration of what you maybe asking, the "king of grapes". There two ways you can participate; either in person or online by joining the 50+ tweetups around the globe and the people who have all joined in on via Twitter with the hash tag
Well the fast approaching InternationalCabernet Day
is on the way and I wanted to participate by providing the review of this wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon hailing
from the brand spanking new “Happy canyon of Santa Barbara”
AVA, with no further ado, I present to you the 2006 Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon
, Santa Ynez Valley.First Swirl:
In the glass, this was bright and clear despite it not being filtered, the core was a dark ruby to purple in color and opaque, while the legs were reflecting the core.First Sniff:
The opportunity to put this wine through it paces occurred during my WSET
Advanced Certification class, where learning "proper"wine evaluation is the fun part of the instruction. This wine had a clean, pronounced nose, brimming with dusty mocha, cigar box, black pepper and currant. First Sip:
I found this wine to have mouth watering balanced acidity and well integrated tannins, which obviously aged on French Oak, appealing flavors of cocoa, blackberry and cherries swirling about to lithe long coffee type finish. Plush elegance!Aging:
months in 75
% new French oak and a light fining with 3 fresh egg whites per barrel, the 2006
Star Lane Cabernet was bottled unfiltered. Composition and ABV:
A blend of four different grapes, with 78
% Cabernet Sauvignon leading the pack, followedby18%
Cabernet Franc 3%
Petit Verdot and just a drop of Malbec, presumably to add color and body. The ABV on this wine is hardly noticable 15.1%.Price and Where to Purchase:
You can purchase this wine from their website for $42
or you can buy it, here in San Diego at Jonathan's Market
in La Jolla or Del Mar for [I assume] under $40
each, but when I called they didn't know the price or you can pick it up at San Diego Wine Company
who's selling it for $36.95
each or if you want to buy 3 cases or more they will sell it for $33.95
The grapes are harvested from three different blocks, in fact they're the warmest and the highest elevation vineyard in the Happy Canyon AVA
[American Viticulture Area]. Backing up to the lower slopes of the San Rafael Mountains which loom high above the ranch, Star Lane features a unique range of weathered sand, gravel and alluvial cobbles over a clay/loam subsoil.My Recommendation:
Oh boy this cab ride should cost you a lot more, good thing the meter isn't still running. I would run down and grab some today if you are planning on this for the Cabernet Day, then I would grab at least 3 one to open that night, and two to open later. You won't be disappointed, definitely well built solid wine that is drinking excellent now, but is built to age a few more years. For some the price of the wine most likely knocks it out of the "everyday" drinker category, however you don't want to missing grabbing some of this wine and storing them as a weekend wine or as one to give as a gift. Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score:
Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored91
points on the Cuvée Corner 100 point and would have scored a little higher if the price point was a bit lower, but since availability is high and the quality is quite amazing it received 91
points. The Point System:
I know there's a lot of discussion going around on the point system, and how unfair it is and blah, blah, blah. But nothing in this life will ever be completely fair or completely just. So argue against it if you like, but I believe it's here to stay, just accept it.The point system islike any other great tool, if used correctly and I believe it can be, than it will reward your palate over and over. One rule is get to know your reviewer, try to find out if they have a New World Palate or an Old World Palate and match it up your own. Some will say I have neither, but c'mon on the majority of us gravitate to onestyle or the other if we just admit it.
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Their seems to be a resurgence of the Merlot [as a single] varietaland for that my heart is very glad, because I do love this varietal very much, but there has just been so little of it that I've been impressed with over the years,whichhas had an impact on my 200
hundred bottle wine cellar, I recently removed the tag from the shelf where I use to store my Merlot [very sad state of affairs, indeed
]. I have a pretty simple filing system in my personal wine vault, I label most of the shelves by varietal and mark the bottles with prices I paid and the date of purchase and if it's a sample I bust out my big black sharpie and write sample over the UPC code and the date.
Having recently visited Washington State and having had the opportunity to taste much of the great Merlot being made there, has rekindled my interest and passion for these wines. In the coming months you will continue to hear about other wonderful examples of this great varietal.
Funny the only Merlot I have in my wine vault are the samples I've been sent from different PR companies who work on behalf of many different wineries to get the word out about their wines. I've recently been sent a number of Merlot under the $10
price point, however I found many of the wines were undrinkable, flat out plonk
. Sorry no other way to really put it, other than that.
You have to know that Isample
and [sometimes drink]thousands of wines from all over the world in a years time, but mostly New World wines, likely a ratio of anywhere from seventy tothirty, New to Old.I travel to wine regions, I speak with wine makers, I go to wine trade shows and attend local tastings and spit or pour outlots of wine thatwill never see the light of day on this blog[and the majority ofwhich is at myown expense]. So what I'm trying to say here, I think I've narrowed down a good majority of wine that is well made,tasteswinetastic andthe best partthey have what I believe are reasonable prices.Why you may ask, because I am crazy about vino and love to bring these stories to you my readers and hopefully you can feel better about making an buying decision [an informed decision
], on your next bottle of vino and maybe you don't have to ask "what's in the box?".
So when I tell I've come across this Merlot
from a relatively new label [design], brought to you by Concha y Toro
in partnership with Banfi Vintners
, that I am this excited about, you just may want to pay attention. Because in my [not-always] humble opinion, this Merlot that was sent to me for the review process is just wine-tastic. The Scoop:
This wine currently is not on anyone's radar [yet], nope I could not find another single review of this wine anywhere on the net, what does that mean to you? That means to you my readers that I just gave you "the scoop"
on one of the best values in wine, that has come across this desk in quite a while. While I have not opened all the Xplorador series of wines which were sent to the Cuvee Corner Wine Blog
, as a sample for review purposes, thisMerlothas really caught my attention the most amoung the samples I've opened and evaluated.Goodbye Miles:
Like in baseball, when the announcer says the guy touched all bases, meaninghe knocked it out of the park and so did this Merlot. So my days of me yelling [not really] like Miles did in the movies Sideways, "I'm not drinking any focking Merlot" are over. To me Merlot can be very desirable and this Merlot is all of that for me, especially when you consider the price point, how can a wine this low in price deliver so much for so very little, I don't know and I don't care! Sorry Miles, but I will be drinking somefocking
The label you see on the picture I took aboveis new,butbrand has been around awhile, I have seen the old labels and the wines before, butnever tasted them.They could bejust fine if there's still some laying about, but it won't have my seal of approval.However, this new label and the wines in the bottle are very good and ata price point under $10
, you just can't go wrong. Full Disclosure:
Yes okay, I received this wine as sample that was sent to me for the review process. They also sent me the other wines below, that I've had an opportunity to review.Other Wines in the Portfolio:
points, Carmenere 88
points, Malbec 87
points and the Sauvignon Blanc, well I have not opened it yet. But you can see a trend here, well made wines at very reasonable prices, what more could you ask for?Wine in Focus: The 2009 Xplorador MerlotFirst Swirl:
After busting this wine of out of the cellar and popping the cork, I let it sit a half hour while I cooked dinner and poured it into my decanter [Riedel
, don't settle] and small portion into my glass, holding up against the screen door with sunlight streaming in, I found a very polished core of ruby and a touch of garneton therim. No really!First Sniff:
It took some time to ferret out the nose, but after the wine warmed a little it started to release a fresh mix of berries, toast and mocha. Even after the wine was gone, the nose just kept giving and giving.First Sip:
The moment you've all been waiting for, it showed excellent depth of fruit [in a word, plush
], mixing dark fruits, black cherry and cassis, with a subtle smokiness. It rounded out nicely in the mid-palate tapering off to a crisp, pleasing finish.With/With-out Food:
I first evaluated this wine before dinner and also had it during dinner, I took a risk and paired it with a "Beef" Teriyaki Stir Fry and this wine shone through like a champ. It will most likely pair with just about anything in my estimation. The Winemaker:
From the Xplorador website, "Over the past 20
yearsHector “Tito” Urzua,
Chief Winemaker for Xplorador, has dedicated his life to searching out the absolute best vineyard sites for his wines. Having studied vineyard practices and winemaking in some of the world’s leading countries including France, Australia and of course Chile, Tito now merges excellence of tradition with today’s fresh, fruit-forward character."Fruit Source:
The creation of Xplorador Wines starts from sourcing the fruitinthe Central Zone of Chilefrom theblocks in Villa Alegre. Aging and ABV:
Ninety percent of this wine spent four months in stainless steel and 10
percent in French Oak barrels for anotherfour months. Many of you, myself included won't believe this wine is only 13.1%
abv, normally to achieve this much extraction in a fruit forward wine, you see much higher ABV's but not in this case.My Recommendation:
Okay folks, not sure how much of this wine will beavailable on the market, however because of its small price point and the fact that distribution of this wine is being sold to large retailers, I believe you can safely assume that there is a large amount of it available. That said, I'm still giving this wine my, "run don't walk recommendation"!
Believe when I tell you, the folks at WS
, the bigwine pub's will have this featured on their top ten wines under $10
next month or as one of their wines featured in the "Buying Guide"
listed as a "BEST-BUY". You saw it here first
, no one else has the scoop on this winelike I do and now so do you, so whatthe bleep
are you waiting for get your buns overtoyour favorite wine storeand buy a few cases.Price and Where to Find:
Okay this is perhaps the best part, because what you find on this blog is exactly what you will never find
in the "big boys"Vino Publications or many other blogs for that matter. So what's that you may ask,everyone wants to knowwhere can you find the juice? This is one of the key points many forget to tell you, as you maybe reading about it on those other wine publications, so instead ofsearching for a wine you just read about,with this blogya don't have to google it, I've already done that for you and or taken the next step and called the distributor directly to get the skinny on a particulars wines status.
Nowmany of you're saying, ok so this wine is fan-freaking-tastic, so how much does it cost and where the bleep do I find it? Great questions, are you ready for this? This wine will mostly likely sell for between $7.99
Now I have it on very good authority, that this wine and it's companions are being sold into Bev-Mo
, Cost Plus
[in East Lake]and The San Diego Wine Company
. If they don't have it already, it's available through the distributor, just tell them to order it. Don't let them give ya the run-around, I did my due diligence, meaning I did my homework and this wine will be hitting store shelves soon. For you Military folks
this wine will be available in the PX and or Exchanges near you. Oh by the way, please tell them that theCuvéeCorner Wine Blog sent ya, just so they know why they're getting all this business.Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored92 points on the Cuvée Corner 100 point scaleand is a top performer on the QPR side of the equation. If you are at all curious how I come up with a score, please take a look over to your right and click on the tab review process.Other Voices:
Okay just in case you need a second opinion, a certain "wine~guru"
who lives right here in San Diego, has his own highly rated wine-talk-show and is a wine judge, had this to say on twitter in response to my post about Xplorador
wines in general, "Xplorador isvery good for the price andat those prices they should be everybody's favorite tailgate & bbq wines".Robert Whitley of Whitley on Wine
If you have not seen this movie yet, I highly recommend it to you, cheers! Please take a look at the trailer, I just love it and I'm sure you will as well!
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We've all most likely experienced this little dance [ordering a bottle of wine]with the wait staff or the Sommelier when ordering wine in a restaurant, the rituals of presenting the bottle, opening it, and the first pour and the waiting for your approval or disapproval.
Often thislittle dance between you and the service stafftend to givesome folks a bit of angst in the process.When folksdine out, it's precisely the angst-factorthey would like to avoid and isa big part of thepurposefor dining out in the first place.When most folks are dining out they're attempting to escape the everyday chore of preparing a meals at home, when folks encounterobstacles ordering a bottle of wine, well this is preciselywhy some folks would rather avoidthe ritualall together, by simplyordering wines by the glass or having cocktail instead. The point is to make the customer to feel comfortable when ordering wine in the restaurant, most customers expect to be treated like a guest in your home and not an interloper here to spoil your day.
I’ve long saidto as many folks as will listen, that manyeating establishments or other relatedbusinesses need to do more, a lot more, to make this process more friendly to the consumer if they collectively expect to capture a larger share of the market and turn more of their clients into what every restaurant or eating establishment wants, the "repeat"
I recently took a poll on my Face Book page to see if wine service issues were the "HOT" button issue I imagined it to be and oh boy did I ever get comments, far more than any other topic I've brought up to date. Now you maybe saying, hey I thought this was a "wine-review" site, yes and no. You see I called it Cuvée Corner Wine Blog for a reason, my blog is a blend of all things vino, thus the topics here can vary greatly.
What you have below is alist some of the "TOP"wine service pet peeves, that we as consumers face in restaurants across the country and around the globe for that matter.Many of these I've encountered on my own and many were added as a result of the poll I took. But please if you have one of your own not addressed here, please feel free to make a comment. My apologies in advance, I have to use the "moderation method" in my comment section because of spammers, keep gumming up this page with theircrazy messages.
So below are some the answers I got to the question I posed: "I want to know your TOP TEN Wine Service pet-peeves, so please don't hold back, just let it all out here and now." Thanks to everyone that participated.
- Customer Service: Not listening to the customer; making recommendations based on what the wait staff thinks they understand or is a wine they are attempting push.
- Stemware: tiny "old world" wine glassesor justbad stemware, that would serve better as a tool for taking down muggers, but for drinking wine it's not so great. Amazing how many restaurants with $30 entrees that don't offer nice stems. Please don't only give nice stems to people who order a bottle;some folkslove to pair a glass with each course and we shouldn't have to ask for nice stems.
- Not Wine Savvy: Servers who know nothing about wine, this one is really "bugs" c'mon you're running a business and if you expect a"return" customer then it would behoove you to train your staff to be a little wine savvy. You can get your distributors to do this for you, with little or no cost.
- Italian restaurants: with no Italian wines on menu - just Merlot and Chardonnay. Howard Hewitt~ "yes, I've had that experience more than once" Italian restaurants with no Italian wine, just a shame.
- Inconsistent pours: this one can really create distrust and dissatisfactionwith customers and I've personally experienced this on more than one occasion.
- Restaurant mark up: Most folks don't mind paying retail prices, but paying three times the retail that's is beyond the pale in terms of respect to the customer of whom many know what "real prices" are, which is why so many folks love to BYOB and skip being taken over the coals with ridiculous mark-ups.
- Pouring: more wine into theglass before asking. I could be the driver, I could want something else, or maybe I just think that last sip in the glass is the best because it really had time to aerate....none the less...don't just...sneak behind me and pour me more wine.
- Bottle Purchase: Pouring too much wine in the glass is a serious faux pas in wine circles, "PLUS I HATE HATE HATE when purchasing a bottle, that I get this big ass pour in my glass, so much so I can't swirl and let the wine breath, just offer a decanter instead." ~Amanda Hagood
- Champagne: served by the glass, huh? If your restaurant is doing this please stop. Just order splits, it's better for the customer and for the reputation of the restaurant.
- Wine List: Out dated wine list and oh leave the wine list on the table, unless the table is really small.
- Corkage Fees: Unreasonable corkage fees. More than $20 is highway robbery!
- Proper Storage: Wine not stored properly [bringing me warm red wines]
- Ice Buckets: No ice buckets for Champagne or having to ask for it in the first place.
- Wine Flights: where the same wine is served in each glass, but is supposed to be different.
- Decanting: If you decant the wine, make sure you do it table-side and leave the bottle on the table.
- Thank You: There seems to be a lack of politeness in the service industries today, thanking the customer is paramount in delivering good customer service and cannot be overstated.
Well that's it, if you could think of anyotherWine Service Pet Peeves
that I didn't cover please feel free to leave a comment and I will get them posted as soon as possible.Check out this video from WS
, who talks a few different Sommeliers about their thoughts onWine~Service, good stuff.Until next time, stay thirsty my friends, cheers!
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I know that this title is a mouthful, but it came out of a mini conversation on Twitter
with horror writing phenomRain Graves
regarding the picture of the Zinfandelin my glass and the tenderloin on my plate.
Truly nothing was in a paper bag and there were no tenderloins scurrying about in hood. Just thought it would make for a quirky little title.
That said, speaking of mouthfuls I had the great pleasure of sitting in on a Wine and Food pairing Seminar hosted by the Culinary Council
, this past Saturday with none other than Andrea Robinson, formerdean of Wine Studies at the French Culinary Institute, where she graduated with honors from its professional culinary program, a master sommelier, and a chef.Sheis also one of only 16
women in the world to hold the title of Master Sommelier and the first woman to be awarded the Best Sommelier in America distinction, impressive resume for sure. That is why I was thrilled to be invited down for the food and wine pairing demonstration. The talkand live cooking demonstration was just fantastic, her presentation skills, rapportwith her audience and command of herwine and food pairing was undeniably spot on.It wasconducted ina completely disarming fashion and what I would characterize as afirst-class
event all the way, filled with fun, learning andwrapped up withnice afternoon snack, paired with tasty wines and I could sense nothing but good vibes from the crowd.
I've been asked to give a talk on food and wine pairing myself and the tips and techniques I learned this day were just fantastic, inspiring and incredibly helpful and I plan on incorporating some of these concepts into my own talk. I'm not sure why she's not the Next Food Network
star, be that as it may, you can still catch her older programs onYou Tube
and she will soon be launching here own series of videos.
During her talking on Wine and Food paring, she also introduced her new stemware collection - “The One”
– which is a line created to take the guesswork out of choosing the proper wine glass. It comes in a set of four,eitherfour stems forRed winesfour stemsfor White wines and can be found for sale at Macy's Home Store or Andrea Wine Stemware Shop
. They are selling for $49.95
andare said to be dishwasher [I recommend hand was only]safe and break resistant.Review of the One:
In reviewing the stemware here at Chez Eyer using my own informal comparison and having full knowledge of which glass was which I still came to one [pun not intended] conclusion; that it's very hard to avoid the conclusion that something real is involved with this technology, but exactly what that is indeterminable.Clarity:
First, let me preface my remarks about my results; noting that I did not overtly prefer the wine out of the "One"
rather, I was able to identify which glassof wine was in the "One"
stems, because the wine seemed more expressive to me. But that difference was not as appreciable as I expected it would be. While I didn’t always like what was being expressed by the "One"
glass better, I did however find more aromas and diversity of flavor in the overall expression on the palate and the bouquet. I know that seems likesquishy-land
talk, but truly I was unable to have that "aha" moment.Compared to What:
This is a phrase I ask many folks, especially after someone has extolled their praise or condemnationfor a particular product or service. Because if there's really nothing tomake a comparison against, then what's the point, you're just performing an exercise in futility. That said, I put some Reidel Stemware
up against the "One"
and put both sets of stemware through their paces.Conclusion:
More importantly what you have with the "One"
is stemware which can be used for a large variety of red or white wines without having to purchase expensive separate pieces and this point should not be missed. If you purchase thistype of glass youdon't have the need for many types of stems any longer.Think of it this way if you purchase a number of them [the One] and when you have guests over everyone can drink from a similar glass. Because if you are like me and already have many different types of stems and let's sayI have more than a few guests overmyhome,I'm oftenforced into givingthem a variety of stems andit does seem little awkward, but with this concept in stemware your life can be so much easier.Full Disclosure:
Hello FTC and anyone else interested, yes I received a set of the "ONE"
stemware as a SAMPLE
and in part because of my involvement in the WBC or Bust
wine blog contest as the prelude to the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla, Walla Washington.
If you're just starting out on your own wine loving life-style, youhave the opportunity to acquirestems that are all of the same profile [meaning same size and shape
],making itmuch easier to stow them in your cupboards and without the difficulty of trying to remember which glass goes with what. With the "One" there's only thing you need to remember is this, the big glass for red wines or the small glass for white wines, as a result your guests will most likely think of you as a little more prepared.
I would definitely recommend these glasses to you to provide you with somestemware sanity
and they also make a great gift for the wine lover who perhaps seems to have everything. I liken my conclusions to what Morpheus told Neo in the Matrix: "You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe and if you take the red pill -- you stay in Wonderland." the choice is yours of course.The Pairings:
was paired with St Supery Sauvignon Blanc
which exhibited grapefruit zest, floral, green lime and tropical fruits which are typical of California style of Sauvignon Blanc. The pairing of these two items complimented each other flavorprofiles nicely. The Edamame Pesto
, I thought could have used a little more something [but hey what do I know], as it was a bit monolithic, maybe a little more cilantro, not sure but I did enjoy both those flavor profiles together. The St Supery Sauv. Blanc
was very good and I scored it 88
points and can be purchased most places for $16.99
and be found at your local Bev-Mo
or favorite grocery outlet and really good with a little chill on the bottle.
Prosciutto-Sage Crusted Pork Tenderloin
was paired with Ravenswood Old Vine Zin
adensely packednose which exhibited rich black raspberry notes, accompanied by the scents of freshly made summer fruit jam, creating a nice mouth feel. This wine can be purchased again from your local Bev-Mo
from $9.99 to $14.99
and most likely can be found at many local grocery outlets as well Iscored this wine 87
This pairing was pulled off wonderfully, the half cup of sherry andsage called for in the recipe really tied to these two elements together. I heartily recommend this pairing and it of course doesn't have to be with this Zinfandel, but I believe any "old-vine" zin would work with this combination. Old vines are typically vineyardswhich are typically30
years orolderand you will find more concentrated juice being derived from these vines.
converted to the role of appetizer in the blink of an eye. This item was also paired with the Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel and I thought it was a good pairing and enjoy the interactions of the sweet characteristics of the Zin, the chocolate and zesty notes from the Chorizo. You do need to have one of those long thin baguettes and is really just regarded as the blank slate for the yummy goodness that can be piled on top. Regarding the pairing, I believe if you had a few ounces of after-dinner Tawny Port, that it could be equally winetasticorpossibly aeven be a better pairing, either way I did totally enjoy it.
Remember wine and food pairing is an adventure, but if you would like a basic outline or guide here's a link
to the Basic Principles of Successful Food-Wine Pairing
, click here.
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Hello, hello to all the wine lovers and wine collectors of the world! If you are as passionate about wine collecting as I am, you have surely run into the problem of how and where to store all these precious gems. Where are your fabulously famous bottles stored? In a hall closet, in the basement, don’t tell me… under the bed?!Arrgh, Wine, Wine Everywhere:
I know many of you have dreamed of owning your own customized wine cellar or wine storage area, a place where you could add some personal touches and caters to your particular specification for keeping and storing your wine collection. And thank goodness, there's actually a wide variety of options readily available to people who aspire to construct their very own customized wine cellar and lack the do-it-yourself skills and desires.
With all the well accounted for options available out there for wine storage,wouldn't you like yourownwine cellar to surely be a placewhich reflectsyour good taste, and your personal style as well? After all, you put so much personal preference intobuilding yourwine collection why shouldn’tthe place you store your vinoreveal it? With that said, below I've put together a couple thoughts on how you can approach building the cellar of your dreams or just something to get by on until then. I've also included a video presentation below featuring Joe Roberts
, known to many as the1 Wine Dude
, who takes his out of control collection [including samples]and with the help ofGrotto Cellars
makes it into a workable cellar space.An Easy Solution:
Modular wine racking arrangements are the simple remedy to designing and building your wine racks from scratch and still achieving a completely customized look and feel. Modular wine racking is available in various, sizes, grains and finishes. In general, the least costly of those made from pine. Many folks [purchasers] of modular
wine racking systems looking for a more personal feel tend to prefer finer woods species like mahogany or premium redwood offered by Grotto Cellars.Why Modular:
The beauty of using a modular wine cellar is it takes the guess work out of the design. The wall configurations are contrived by someone else, a wine storage expert, and they tend to mix and match individual bottle cubicles with bulk wine storage. And because many companies make kit racks that have a similar look and feel, the racks you may already have can be easily combined with several varieties adding to its personality and customized feel.
Beyond that there are numerous wine rack companies that go a step further and offer crown molding, trims and radius curved corners to really complete the look of a wine storage area. Recent designs that I have stumbled across even include built-in stemware storage and table top systems within the racking scheme. By adding this feature it creates character and ambiance, as well as adding to the functionality of the space.Bang for the Buck:
The most cost-effective kind of wine storage is the dozen-bin, or bulk racking system. This type of racking can accommodate a dozen or more wine bottles in one compartment. This can be extremely useful for wine fanatics who buy their favorite wines in bulk. But the main drawback of this type of storage is the bottles stack directly on top of one another restricting air flow and possibly damaging the integrity of a wine label.
The second most efficient way to store your wine in bulk is through the employment of case racking. Case racking is a unique and efficient way to store wine bottles in their original packaging. This preserves the look of the bottles, and creates an easy way to locate each variety.Entry Ways:
If you have the luxury of turning an entire room into a wine cellar, you can’t forget the most visually important aspect of your wine storage area will be the entry door. Wine cellar doors come in numerous looks and finishes, with glass inserts, and wrought iron options the possibilities are endless. Be creative, this will be first thing your guests will experience when entering your cellar and you want it to be a preface of what lies inside.Wine Shops:
Maybe your a wine shop owner reading this and you're wondering what's available to you? Good question, check outthe Grotto’s Commercial racking line which is designed to provide maximum storage and brand exposure in minimal spaces. Some features include top shelf displays, double isle storage, horizontal shelf displays and toe kick to ensure no bottles touch the ground andare available in four different types of wood to blend with a variety of decors.
Where are they:Guest Contributor and Author:
There are many ways that you can contactone of ourfriendly design consultants in your area to help you choose the perfect products for your wine cellar.We are located in Laguna Design Center
, 23811 Aliso Creek Road, Suite #105Laguna Niguel, CA 92677 or give'm a call at 1 (877) 5-GROTTO or catch them online at Grotto Cellars
Christy Bonner can currently be found in the offices of Grotto Custom Wine Cellars sorting through wood wine rack samples and feel free to visit their page on You Tube
. She is married with two kids, lives in Southern California and can be found on many warmevenings sipping her favorite Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio.
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Ahh yes who doesn't like a good old fashioned Smack-Down, [are they really old fashion
?]. Anyway, I forone love the idea or the premise of seeing different wines
go head to head, like some steroid induced freaks in tights, talking trash and hurtling themselves toward each other and throwing chairs [sorry I'm no fan of WWF
] and no I'mnotinsinuating the wines were juicing. This isn't major league baseball you know and Barry Bonds trainer was no where in sight.
Part of the fun of being a wine
-blogger is theopportunity tosniff,swirl
through avoluminous amount of different vinoeach and everymonthand the added bonus,you get toparticipate in events with the producers and rub elbows with the decision makers [wine-makers], no longer a spectator
or even a garden variety consumer.Igetto watch the unfolding of the wine-biz from behind the scenes and take a look under the hood,sometimes even theso-called "romantic"
world of vino things candevelop intoproverbial“fisticuffs”
[figuratively speaking]bruised knuckles [bruised egos more like it] smack-down.
In Red Mountain wines I found what some have called “enlightened traditionalism:” or the ability to marry the best of the old and new while producing wines true to their origins, but stay tuned and see for yourself, the fight is on!Throwing Down the Gauntlet:
In"smack-downs" and life there's an art form which canbe reallyinformative and it doesn’t always involve snarky language or trash talking. No my friends, sometimes the best smack-downare the ones that take each and every part of what is argued against [for example some folks believe only old world wine styles are best]the backdrop of a head to head, a Mano a Mano showdown pitting enlightened traditionalists in a war between traditionalists and modernists.If you want my two cents, you'll find itbetween the two, this where you find the ideal balance.
I really wasn't expecting anything like this and neither were many of the other bloggers [of whom some I could hear grumbling about this set-up]. To me what this "smack-down"
didwas takethe debateout of the realm of conjecture,and let the wines speak for themselves.Many folkshave pre-conceivedideas about what New World and OldWorldwines represent, but in this smack-down I think many quickly found out, "what itis or isn't"backed up with the facts in the glass [via a little tasting contest
What are the rules of any good smack down
? This is a good question,as I had no-idea and had to do some research myself to come up with the rules. First
mustline upthe target which is what Hedges did, by havinga differentRed Mountainwine in a direct face off with another well know wine, whichwere of a similar weight class. With the target set, time for shot number two
, know yourproductand in this case know your wine to greatlyincrease thechance for success.Time for the killshot
, show you know something about the other wine’s home turf or the terrior, vineyards, winemakeretc and you may just end-up selling a few cases of vino, instead of a just a few tastings.So yep, all in all it was a smack-down
, one as good as you would see on the WWF
oron a typical episode of Jerry Springer,but it was a lot more fun and the only trash talking was done by a few unhappy campers. The Setting:
Okay to be honest Hedges didn't refer to it as any kind of Smack-Down, that was just how I viewed it,so as Iwalked into their barrel room I saw itwas filledwith red carpets, bigred wines,Wine Bloggers andthe ambiance of a candle lit room and the combatants[open wine bottles
]were ready for the face off. As we entered through the heavy towering doors ofHedges Family Estate Chateau and moseyed into theirbarrel room[arena
] on theRed Mountain AVA,
in eastern Washington, located just east of the Yakima Valley AVA, and just north of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA and is thesmallest of Washington's AVA's.This part of the trip was for me wasthe "icing on the cake"
I've had some familiarity with their winery before and had written a review of their 2007 Three Vineyards, but never had a full appreciation for all the wonderful wine being made and their Three Vineyards as wonderful as it is, is just the tip of the iceberg.
This tour was part of the optional
post Wine Bloggers Conference agenda and as I'm sure you are familiar with the saying, "saving the best for the last"
well this trip to Red Mountain certainly summed up for me exactly what that familiar phrase engenders.
In the first match in one corner we had the 2008
Descendants Liegeois Dupont "Cuveé Marcel Dupont" this powerful lip-staining Syrah from Red Mountain weighing in at 14.2% ABV
versus the Kaesler Stonehorse Shiraz 2008
an assemblage of six different sites of inky darkness weighing in at 15% ABV
and both in the $20 - $30
price range. Winner:
While I like both wines, I picked the Hedges, even though their individual score cards were very close, Hedges gave that final kick to win the match.Round Two:
In the second match up we have the 2006
René Rostaing who's the closest thing to a true cult star that Côte-Rôtie has yet produced, this wine is very difficult to obtain and sell for $70
and up most places, weighing in at a mere 13.5
% ABV. While in the other corner we havethe 100%
Red Mountain 2006 Goedhart Family Bel' Villa Syrah
an elusive and somewhat exclusive wine with a very small production. Selling for $50 or more. Winner:
Since I found both wines were so evenly matched on their respective score cards, it was just too difficult to call, and the match ended in a draw. Both wines wererich, velvety, deep wines with subtle smoky, bacon fat, floweringaromaticslapping over an opulent base of roasted blackberry and plum fruits.Third Round:
In one corner we had the 2007 Obolisco Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain
weighing in at 14.1% ABV
and amazing Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (with a bit of Merlot and Malbec) selling for just over $60
and sold out at the winery. In the other corner, the2007 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon
, from Napa Valley, selling in the neighborhood of $60
described as"Ripe and fleshy, dressed to impress and freshly bathed in the lime-light of a 92
points Wine Spectator and weighing in at 14.8% ABV
Checking over the score card, hmmm both wines appear to be mostly sold out and are unavailable, minus points for that, but in the flavor profile category Oblosico Estate got the nod. Both wines were equally matched in weight, color and complexity with lingering finishes and similar price points. This one is tough to call, but if you want to drink a great Napa Cab, there are many on the market, but for it's uniqueness alone the Oblosico Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
is the winner on points.Round Four:
Pitted the 2007
andtheir 2006 Hedges Family Estate, Red Mountain
, Three Vineyards, a monster of finesse and layers of flavor, weighing in at a mere 13.6% ABV and selling in the neighborhood of $15 - $25
a lot of wine for the small price. The competitor was the 2006 Chateau Talbot, St-Julien
, a savoury and even considered a little juicy in character, weighing in at a flat 13% ABV
and selling between $40
a formidable foe with a rich heritage of distinction, but with limited availability.The Winner:
But alas the poor 2006 Chateau Talbot
was no match for the Hedges 2006 Three Vineyards as itlured it in with the old "Rope-a-dope". Sorry Chateau Talbot fansbut reading scorecard was even necessary, this decision was madeby knock out
! The Hedges 3 Vineyards 2006
clearly dominated the entire match, with its great price, clearly layered and nuanced flavor profile, it said Bordeaux even more loudly than its opponent. I left the Chateau [arena] with six bottles of this wine in tow. I could not pass up such a great deal and I would recommend you give their 2007
a swirl as the winery is near the end of the 2006
with only a few cases remaining. Decision:
Well that was a great match up and the in my [not always so humble] opinion Red Mountains wines really won the day
and showed the wine-blogging world that, "it's not always the size of the dog in a fight, it's the size of fight in the dog."
Well done Red Mountain and congratulations, you really turned some heads this day, as I know many others were very impressed by your wine-making efforts there, in making great juice for reasonable prices and not letting points monster get in your way.
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Well how's every ones summer going thus far? I know for many of you it'shot, hot, hot which is not the most comfortable of situations to be in and maybe you're notembracing thesummer thus far, but for many it's "grilling season"
and to me and manyother wine lovers, thatmeans one thing will be coming out of the cellarand being uncorked in more plentiful numbers than anything else, what's that you may ask, Zinfandel.
Some of you will thinking uh-no,Rosé is my go-to wine of choice during the warm summer months and I agree it does have its place as well but, it can't stand up to charred delights the way a goodZin can.
What you have when you open a bottle of Zin is powerful dark fruit flavors, distinctive spice, pepper and cinnamon notes, swirling around hard to define floral undertones, all culminating in an effort to balance the high alcohol, resulting in the what many will call the perfect BBQ
wine. I've described Zin this way to friends willingto listen to meblather on,as the ultimate party wine, because it requires no decanting or coaxing it from its shell. Zinfandel just jumps up out of the bottle and into your glass, ready to impresseventhe mostfinicky of palates, cooling, sweet fruitflavors and good acidity combine to create the classic complement to whatever charred and smokey item you may cook up this summer.
Just the other day I posted the "live" version "summer breezes" on my FB
page as I was reminiscing [cause that's what you do when approaching the half century mark
] aboutmy days as a youth growing up here in San Diego, hearing"Summer Breezes" playing on the radio in seventy two, whilst on my way to the beach.It's asong which to me succinctly says summer is here, it's time for beach-side, backyard barbeque's, and longer sun-lit days filled with sand, surf, sun and most of all fun.Here are a few lyrics from the song, which speaks so much eloquently than my own words could possible convey and please watch the video to be fully transported to the past."Sweet days of summer, the jasmine's in bloom, July is dressed up and playing her tune, When I come home from a hard days work, And you're waiting there, not a care in the world, See the smile a-waiting in the kitchen, Food cooking and the plates for two, Feel the arms that reach out to hold me, In the evening when the day is through, Summer breeze makes me feel fine, Blowing through the jasmine in my mind".....Seals and Croft 1972
But for me, its not jasmine blowing through my mind, its a wine-tastic Zin I just encountered still swirling about my palate, reminding me of summers quintessential [love using that word] quaffer and that's why today I want to introduce to everyone my thoughts on a wine which you may have previously encountered where you shop. As it can be found just about everywhere you look and that is the Ravens Wood Vintners blend ablend in more ways than one as you will see when I break it down for you below.First Swirl:
Once I uncorked the bottle and poured myself a glass and tilting it down to examine the color, I found it to have typical, zesty red berry colored core and lightly colored cranberry rim.First Sniff:
After giving it a few good swirls in my glass and sticking my fat half Irish nose against the rim, I found a not too impressive array of cherry, cranberry, tar, and fruity floral scents. Meaning it didn't jump out at me, right away, I had to give more thought about what I was smelling. First Sip:
Okay maybe my first slurp, no really I just sipped it at first to get a general feel for this wine. I would say it lacks a tight focus, but offers wild berry and blackberry fruit that's supported by tangy acidity, firm tannins, with a undefined finish.Aging and ABV:
This wine was aged 12
months in 100%
French oak, with 25%
of those barrels beingnew. The ABV
A blend of 77%
Petite Sirah and 5%
Carignane, with the fruit sourced from 3
different areas inLodi, Amador and Mendocino. Price and where to Purchase:
This wine is selling for the SRP
and on sale some places for $7.99
depending on where and when you shop. It can be found just about anywhere wine is sold, but typically at a grocery outlet near you, with massive availability.Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score:
Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored87
points on the Cuvée Corner 100
point scale. Full Disclosure:
Hello FTC and everyone else, yes this bottle was sent for reviewto the Cuvée Corner Wine Blog, by Ravenswood Winery in Sonoma.About Ravenswood:
One of the more interesting aspects of whoRavenswood
is exemplified is their a rally cry which states, "No Wimpy Wines"
and has defined them as a winery for decades, in fact formore than three decades, according to their website, " it has been the mission of Ravenswood Winery in Sonoma, California to embrace the bold and avoid the bland."
I've had a chance to visit this winery myself about 5
years ago and I was very excited then about what I tasted, brought back home and look forward to giving some of their other wines a swirl once more. [It has been far too long]. Other Voices:
I've looked around the web and many other wine bloggers like myself have given this wine good marks overall, but I was not able to find anyone from a major print publication who had reviewed the wine. With/Without Food: Okay as is so often the question, oh my what to pair? Well as I've gone over in this review, this wine or this type of wine and that being Zinfandel is your go-to wine which will pair with whatever is you fave charred food of choice may be to create a seemingly endless variety of grilled dishes.My Recommendation:
Okay first of all let me say, even my dog liked this wine. He normally only likes white wines, but when he tasted this wine he lapped it up. Now that you have the endorsement of this little Mini-Poo here's what I think, this is a readily drinkable little quaffer that will delight most BBQ crowds and would be great for impromptu entertaining. It's easy on the wallet and just fantastic valuefor the money. You can find this wine any where and really any time you could need it, but do yourself a favor, buy a case, to compliment your next backyard cookout! Until next time stay thirsty my friends, cheers!
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Well the first ever San Diego Twitter TasteLive, has come and gone, it was fantastic. This was the first time I actually met some of the folks behind their respective twitter icons and all were as genuine, knowledgeable and gracious as their "tweets"
indicated, despite the understandable misgivings of meeting folks you've only known online. Just real everyday folks with a genuine passion for sharing their love of great vino.
It was a great event and we are already planing the next one and in the words of Beau's Barrel Room it's going to be epic. We opened a little over 15 bottles, ranging from Sauvignon Blanc to Grenache and beyond. It was quite the eclectic collection.
There was 6 different wine blogs represented in this group, with widely different approaches to reviewing wine and the vino lifestyle.Here'sline-upof bloggers who participated: Wine Harlots
, Beau's Barrel Room
, Brain Wines
, Wine for Blondes
, and myself and a big shout out to La Jolla Mom
who knows her way around a wine bottle.
Thanks to the folks at Santasti
who provided their fizzy palate cleansing beverage for us to sample and as they are fond of reminding us, "we at Santastiknow that a clean palate is vital to a full sensory experience"
and to that point I say mission accomplished and well done to team Santasti. This was my second time using their product and used it in cleansing my palate and my glass. Please check out the link above to find where you can get this product for yourselves.
We had a lovely line-up of wines to sip and sample, many of which I had never tried before, I brought the lovely Marqués de Riscal 2004 Reserva
and we did indeed decant it, but didn't really open it till near the end of the tasting, so it was one of the last wines we examined. Which means for it to show this well after all our palates were exposed to, is quite impressive. I found it to have a fading medium-cerise core. vague cherry-vanilla, earthy tobacco and dried raspberry aromas on the nose, with subtle baking spices, a nice cedar box and herbs adding to its overall complexity, there was also an underpinning of suave red fruit, playing a fleeting vanilla from its contact with oak. I think it was Keith of Brain Wines who dubbed a it, "a dirty sexy wine with anEn-Fuego
type brashness" and Beau of Beau's Barrel Room concurred and was surprised at the brimming quality of each quaff, slurp and sip. I was as well quite amazed considering how little it cost and having found it at Trader Joe's
for only $14.99
which is a great price and makes this bottle a QPR
Cabernet Sauvignon: Keith from Brain Wines provided two exciting samples, which were both a pleasure to sample. This wine comes from the Stags Leap area of Napa Valley and if you are familiar with the area you have some idea already just how wonderful these wines were to experience first hand.
These 100% Cabernet
Sauvignons are produced by Malk Family Vineyards,
we sampled their 2006
and the 2007
and both are currently available as of the moment, selling for $65
each. Both were well built, good structure, layered and multi-faceted wines worthy of your undivided attention and just screamed Napa Valley Cab, [does anyone do it better?] They both exhibited sleek, rich layers of mocha scented oak, currant and coffee notes bouncing around the long and complex finish, drinking great now but both exhibited aging potential for years to come. If had to choose, I would give the 07 the nod over the 06, and this was the conclusion of a number of us, but clearly not all. Some of the others didn't want todubone better than the other.Both wines were deftly balanced, butI thought the 06 was just a bit chunkier, the 07 was money!
The Wine Harlot brought two Pinot Noirs, which were really great examples of California Pinot. One from Sierra-Madre-Pinot-Noir-2007
from the western edge of the Santa Maria Valley, in northern Santa Barbara County and selling from $39
depending on where you shop. Light in body and appearance, burst of crushed berries and earthnote aromas, melding nicely withsoft and silky mouth feel and nice underpinning of freshly crushed berries and dried herbs, I would hold onto this another year before opening, to give it a chance to come into its own. The other Pinot Noir we sampled was theFoppiano "Estate" Russian River Pinot Noir 2008
wonderful aromas of raspberry jam with an added suggestion of sweet spices; nutmeg and clove and a mouth feelwhich evoked a sense ofcherry cobbler, a touch of leather andwrapping itself around some mellow toasty oakin the long and fruity finish with trailing remnants ofwhite pepper. This wine sells for an amazing price $23
most places and represents what I think is a screaming deal in Pinot Noir from the RRV
, an uncommon luxury at near a paupers price, well done. Folks if I were you I would buy a case of the Foppiano, considering it myself. Reviews:
Now I'm not going to cover all the wines we drank or sampledthat day, just some of the highlights as I saw it and I'm sure if you look on eachone of ourrespectivesites you will get a few different view points of views and take aways, these notes I've shared here are just from my perspective, recalled from my Vincellar note book. I won't be reviewing the Torres Celeste Crianza
in this post, but instead review it on its own.I think it deserves a whole page.Grenache:
Okay last but certainly not least, we reviewed two different Grenaches which Katie the La Jolla Mom wasnice enough to bring along with the wonderful home-made Chocolate Chip cookies [thanks they were so good
]. She brought alongHerman Storyand I confess [and I'm embarrassed to say] to never having heard of him or his wines before, I am a huge fan of Grenache and love, love Paso Robles with their incredible wine scene going on there. Now speaking of Herman Story Wines
and the beautiful expression of their grenache [although it needsdecanting] in the glass expressesan inky dark core, on the nose ofdecadent plummy fruit and hint of well worn saddle leather. It can come off very tight if poured directly from the bottle [please decant first]. Once decanted I'm sure there it will reveal, what Ionly suspect could be its true character, what's that you ask?A New World style Grenache showing off ripe cherry, blackberry, tar and smoke with subtle floral framed around the mocha notes, it would do well if it had a place in your cellar and not be open for another year or two. Oh btw in case you need extra persuasion some guy named Robert Parker really liked it, gave it 93
points and the wine sells for $36,
great price for a big wine.
The other Grenache was from Core Winery
is a family run winery located in Santa Maria Ca. Our primary vineyard is the Alta Mesa vineyard, located in Eastern Santa Barbara county and they are selling this wine for about $20
through the wineries website, most likly it will sell between $14.99 to $16.99 in a retail shops, btw just found it at the San Diego Wine Company
, if they still have it in stock [geez can I pick prices or can I pick prices]. The whole group was curious about this wine, while some thought it to be very un-Grenache like, with the appearance and flavor profile of a over extracted Pinot Noir, while looking up it later at home, I found that this style of Grenache is not A-typical at all, instead this style is thee most common [according to the Wine Lovers Companion]. It was a bit hot and the RS [residual sugar] seemed to be a little high side, but again consulting my copy of the Wine Lovers Companion [3rd edition] high RS
are part of the equation when it comes to Grenache, wines which tend to be sweet, fruity and low in tannins.
Someone who goes by the handleUltraMarathoner
rated this wine 92
points and had this to say about this wonderful wine, "A fantastic Grenache and could be myQPR
of the year so far. Pop and pour. After an hour the wine became something completely different. The texture added weight and has a smooth, round feel. Nose has crushed rocks and floral\lavender tones . Deep red raspberry flavors with an orange-liqueur and red/dark fruit. Mouth watering acidity and firm, but ripe tannins that shorten a what could be a longer finish. Well balanced. Complexity well beyond the price point. I'm getting more of these
." I couldn't agree more with the majority of thesetasting notes or the score, my palate was nearly blown by the time we reached this very last bottle, that said I still highly recommend it to you. If this wine still had this much to say after I had tasted so many different wines, that's is quite impressive.
For our next event, it will be something far more focused and we will follow some general guide lines to make this a more authentic event. I've been talking it over with Beau and I think we have the makings of a new bigger and better event, which will pit Red Mountain Syrah vs Paso Robles Syrah in a face to face [blind tasting] smack-down of epic proportions. It should be winetastic and of course stay tuned here for the blow by blow results. Until next time stay thirsty my friends and cheers!
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Well the Walla, Walla winebloggers conference has come and gone, Iwas sad to see it go, butvery appreciative of thisopportunity toget reacquainted withWashington State Wine scene as I like to call it [don't think anyone else is calling it that].It wasfantastic tomeetmany of theother bloggers who've I've only known through Face Book
, [as there was over 300 folks it was hard to meet everyone] it was great to make those connections in person and get achance totalk a little shop live. TheWashington Wine Commission
in conjunction with the Open Wine Consortium,
Producers andZephyr Wine Adventures
put on a fantastically well organized conference. The number of different wines we were able to encounter over the three day periodwas just incredible [a virtualtsunami
] of red and white wines, even bubbly made anappearanceandthe fantastic folks behind the labelwere equally winetastic.
Just speaking from my perspective, my sense of theof the overall satisfactionfrom other wine bloggersis that,the conference was a huge hit with all attendees, it would seem that no one can stop talking about the wonderful Washington Wine Scene [of course therewere andstill area few dissenters].Taking a look aroundand across the netand you can still see it's stilla huge trend [with plenty of buzz]on Twitter and many of my FB friends arestill talking about theirexperiences. As for me, my overall impression was very good and I have a lot to write about in the coming months and I would say further that the, [please feel free to quote me
], "Washington wine is a force to be reckoned with"
and the bloggers [myself included] are going to get that message out, not just in the few weeks afterward,
but continuing on like aripple on the proverbial pond once a few
[huh, what? I mean a fewasteroids striking the surface] causing waves to crash onbeach andfloodcoastal communities
stones a thrown into the still surface
, sorry thatpap I just typed outsounded a bit too reflective.
That said, I thought I would just share a few"leftovers"
[as some are fond of calling this blog] with you about the Washington State Wine Scene, that I didn't know before? Apparently there's is plenty, as I discovered for myself in more ways then one, through our variousexcursions and speed tastings. As I travel from wine destination to wine destination, meeting producers, winemakers, vineyard workers, wine bloggers, PR professional and others behind the label, I continue on my quest to learn all I can about this wondrous love affair with the Vitis Vinifera
or the "wine-bearing" grape.Think about this statement the next time you pour yourself a greatglass of vino,"In waterone sees one's own face; but in wine, one beholds the heart of another"....
an old French proverb.
thing I learned that they [producers in WA
] make some fantastic Merlot in Washington State, single variety Merlot and or Merlot dominated blendswhichare not flabbyor soft,wines that actually has some very nice structure and nuanced flavors. I will admit this openly, I'm not a big "Merlot Fan" just look at my many reviews and you will be hard pressed to find even one or take a look in my 200
bottle wine vault, there's noMerlot. It's not that I dislike the grape andI won'thaveMerlot-Meltdown
like Miles expressed to the character Jack in the movie "Sideways"
regarding his hatred for the grape [or as some suggest his loathing of having loved and not being loved in return].
No, no nothing like that, I just have not come across a lot of Merlotswhich have impressed me enough to say, um I wanna buy thator not enough to want to recommend it someone in a review. Typically I love Merlot when it is blended, and not the lead grape. So yep that makes me a "Left-Bank"
kinda guy and speaking of blending and I hope I get this quote correct, in Washington State, "they [producers] don't add Merlot to a blend with Cabernet Sauvignon to soften the Cab, no instead they add Cabernet Sauvignon to the Merlot to tame its massive structure."
as I was sampling Merlot after Merlot, I said to myself, "wow that statement is right on" and has me leaning to the right
in the context of Washington Wines.Check out this trailer belowfor the movie Merlove, which features manyproducers from Washington state.
thing I learned is Walla, Walla Washington
is a great place to to go for a wine tasting adventure.If you're like me and there's a chance that some of you are, then this one of those great wine destinations that you will want to make plans to stay there for a least a week and explore everything they have to offer. This was my first time in this particulararea and I must say I was really impressed with atmosphere in Walla, Walla. Fantastic people,charming accommodations [many great B&B's],inviting little restaurants, and many downtown tasting rooms, I really got a great vibe being in their downtown late at nite, strolling through their city. Walla, Walla reminds of downtown Paso Robles quite a bit, with the very welcoming atmosphere and down to earth feel,I am sure you will be just delighted by the experience as I have been. This pictureto your leftis the oneI took inside the B&B I stayed my first night in Walla, Walla and to me exemplified everything you will experience when you stay here, Stone Creek Manor.
or anywhere else in town as there a number of B&B's in Walla, Walla.Third
I learned, the wines I encounteredcould becharacterized as a Bordeaux blend, I found thisis a very common thread during my tastings and you'llmost likely find the same at manyWashington State Wineries. Ipersonally was thrilled with manyBordeaux inspired blends I foundbeing poured at the conference and during our forays into thevino landscape that is Washington Wine. It was not just the red blends either, there were a good number of white-Bordeaux being poured as well. Now of course one of the better, if not best thee known producer in the state is Bob Betz of [Betz Family Winery]
, known to many as Washington’sfavorite boutique winemakers and a very familiar figure invino circles for creating Bordeaux inspired blends. It was also my great privilege to meet him and his daughter during the Willows Lodge hosted, "Woodinville Grand Tasting".In the line-up therewas also some other favorites of mine at this tasting,DiStefano Winery, Sparkman Winery,
Baer Winery, Northwest Totem Cellars and Des Voigne Cellars who stunned me with their Meina Flor, a Rhone inspiredRousanne and Viognier blend, excellent!
If you'renew tothe world of vino, youmay very be scratching your head thinking, "what’s a Bordeaux Blend
?" Okay here's the typical text book answer, it’s a blended red wine that contains two or more of the varietalswhich are authorized for use in the red wines of France's Bordeaux region which is divided left and right. Typically you'll find these varieties in the blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere. A typical Bordeaux blend will have Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot as the primary grape (up to 85%), with other grapes making up the remainder. On the lesser knownside of the ledger, if you are talking about "White-Bordeaux"
then of course you speaking of Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadellecomposing the most typical blends.
Ah the perfect segway to my fourth
thing I recently learned about the Washington State Wine Scene, is the fact thatSémillon
is a widely planted grape variety in this North West Wine Region. In factWashington Wineries areknown fortheir Semillon, and while this wine is most often enjoyed young or blended with its companion Sauvignon Blanc, WashingtonSémillons are known to age beautifully into rich, honeyed, nutty wines.In their youth they offer a broad spectrum of flavors, ranging from crisp citrus to melon and fig, and fresh pears to vanilla. A winetypically lower in acidity than Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon is luscious, yet light and the two blend marvelously together.Semillon beinglower acidity makes it's more susceptible to botrytis [or Noble Rot],
resulting in a fair number of late-harvest bottlings, which make for a nice after dinner quaff with some paired cheeses in place of dessert. My favorite was is the one pictured to the left here, Chaleur Estate Blanc from Delille Cellars, it was fantastico!
The fifth and final thing was something I learned so much more about, than I had previously known or experienced and what isthat you may ask? Well it's the AVA
called Red Mountain
,itfreaking rocks and is one of the smallest in thestate.The Red MountainAVA has becomethe epicenter ofWashington StatesBordeaux blends, thus raising the caliber of Washington wines to a whole new level.
It all started with Tom and Anne-Marie Hedges of Hedges Family Estate,
who took a chance buying acreage on this obscure little hill and produced their first vintage in 1987.See my review of2007 Three Vineyards Get Over Hedges Red Mountain Three Vineyards
which I wrote before my trip and whichI recently re-tastedin their barrel room, alongside the 2006, which I gave the edge to over the 07, perhaps its still a bit too young, but since they hada few cases of the 2006left, I grabbed [paid for with cold hard plastic
] 6 bottles of the 2006 and will be here shortly via Fed Ex [btw, the Chateau Talbot in that pix above, didn't hold a candle to their Three Vineyards]. The Hedges Family Estate Chateaugave us a first class head to head match up of some of their wines versussomeother heavy hitters [eye opening experience]and wow I was blown away by their entire operation and want to thank them for literally rolling out the red carpet for me and many other lucky bloggers who got to be there on thisoptional part ofconference. Thinking back to my time I spent with the folks at Hedgesand hearing the passion about their vision expressedby Chris Hedges,you can’t help but reflect on how rapidly the region has grown from those humble beginnings to become a behemoth of quality well made and yet very diverse wines, cheers to Red Mountain!
I must say I was very happy to visit this region for the second time, as I've been through the Woodinville Winery loop before and this second time through I refreshed my palate and understanding of the great things going on in WoodinVille, Walla, Walla and Red Mountain, the opportunity to visit great places like Cave B on the Columbia Gorge, Col Solare on Red Mountain and see the Wallla, Walla Wine Scene first hand was just a fantastic trip and one I would highly recommend as a way to expand your palate and your mind in relation to finding and consuming world class new world wine. I have much more to say on this subject so please stay tuned, until next time cheers everyone!
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Hey folks sitting here at the airport and with a few hours in between flights I thought I would blab alittle about the WBC 10 [Wine Bloggers Conference] as it's being referred to in the twittershpere and on FB. The Cuvee Corner Wine Blog is but one of over 300 wine bloggers who are about to descend upon the wonderful little town of Walla, Walla Washington, which sits in the warmer south east part of the state. Many folks associate a trip to Washington state as rainy and over cast adventure, but the part of the state I will be visiting is forecast to clear blue skies and sunny warm temps in the eighties.
Okay so maybe you are wondering okay, you have a wine blog and that's a great hobby, but flying off to a conference about wine blogging, what is that all about anyway? Good question, it's something I gave some thought about the first time I went last year to the event in Napa/Sonoma, which was fantastic. We get together talk about how the our genre is unfolding, how to improve, make it profitable and have more fun doing it. We get together and learn, network and make new friendswith other like minded professionals and amateurs alike.
That, said I've had the opportunity so far to taste some great wine here in the state of Washington and I wanted to tell you about some of the great finds, that I've come across. I don't expect everyone to agree with me, we all have a different take on what's great and what's not so great. Since my time to depart to the conference is drawing near I just wanted to highlight this one winery in particular, they are called Baer Winery
please give them a swirl you won't be dissappointed!
These are the two wines I sampled the Arctos and Ursa and found them both complex and compelling!
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