Sunday, December 30, 2007

WCWC Adventures Thanks you for your Support this Year

If you've stopped by this site and found it helpful, interesting, irritating, fascinating, or at least readable . First of all, Thank You for reading and commenting! Second if you'd like, vote for us here. Its relatively painless :) We'd love the feedback. Think of it as virtual clink of the wine glass. Its the cheapest present you could get us... ok, please, please vote for us.

Anyway, in other news, I got a great present this year. Click here to read it. WCWC Adventures was mentioned as one of the notable new wine blogs for the new year. Head over to Dr Debs site Good Wine Under $20 to find some great wine recommendations in a reasonable price range. It can be done! Our favorite quote "they offer a wonderful perspective on California wines with a particular emphasis on Santa Barbara and the Central Coast. You can spend hours on their site following all the links and threads, and I encourage you to take some time and do just that." -Dr Debs

We also thank Domaine 547 for the wonderful encouraging words on their site here Take some time on their site, they have a great wine selection and make shopping for wine fun. I love their talking wine bottle web ads. Very clever and fun.

I also had a great time participating in Wine Blogging Wednesday for the first time and appreciated the work done for the Petit Sirah roundup over at Wannabe Wino.

Our other favorite toast of the year came from Richard Sanford of Alma Rosa Wines. Here's the quote that keeps me going on this blog and continuing to work towards finding a way to make my own wine someday. "Thanks for your visit. I appreciate your comments about our Pinot Gris, you have used great descriptors. I appreciate so much the introduction to your site. I especially like "what wine means to me." As you know I have spent the last 37 years winegrowing and I have had similar spiritual and philosophical experiences with winegrowing, wine, and food complemented by human interaction...your prose is beautifully written." - Richard Sanford

Most of all I'd like to thank my husband for supporting me in this new endeavor.

Thank you everyone for reading this year. Share your comments often on what you'd like to see more of in 2008. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Tis the Season for Sparkling: Argyle Wines

Just got back from a day of tasting in the Willamette Valley. Great day, tons of dramatic cloud breaks and hills and even snow up at some of the higher elevations. I promise to write up my recommendations from the trip soon. Here's a celebratory taste.

Our favorite Sparking of the Day:
Argyle 1999 Knudsen Vineyard Brut
A blend of 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay sourced from Knudsen Vineyards
Nose: Apples, notes of vanilla creme
Taste:This sparkling is rich with lovely bracing apple acidity and a creamy mid palate. Lovely persistent creamy finish
Other peoples scores:
Wine Spectator - 91 points , in case you didn't believe me;)
Buy it
at the tasting room : ($35) Less other places ~ $28

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas from WCWC Adventures

Merry Christmas Everyone. We wish you all the best for the holidays and the New Year

Christmas Snow in Portland, Oregon

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas: Melville Estate Pinot Noir

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season. Our last wine recommendation for 2007 is the 2004 Melville Estate Pinot Noir. (Buy here $28) This wine is still young and will continue to develop for the next few years.
Tasting Notes:
Color: Ruby red. Nose: dark cherry, currants and leather and a bit of Santa Rita spice
Upon Tasting: It lays across your palate like velvet..So elegant. You can't help but smile as it crosses your lips. It starts off with dark cherry, tart pomegranate followed by a lingering finish of leather and spice. The tannins in this wine lend it a nice support. Lovely to see stem inclusion executed well in Pinot Noir to add structure. This should help this wine age longer than some other styles of California Pinot Noir.

Wine Making Notes from Melville's Site

  • 100% Melville fruit from our Santa Rita Hills Estate, this bottling is a representation of all 11 pinot noir clones currently in production.
  • Yields were 2.5 lbs/plant, in our tightly spaced vineyard equating to 1,815 vines per acre, and were selectively hand-harvested over a three week period giving us 75 different fermentation lots.
  • 67% of the fruit was gently de-stemmed with 33% fermented as whole-clusters in small (1.5 ton) open-top fermenters. Total skin and stalk contact averaged 30 days (7 day cold soak, 2+ weeks of fermentation and 1+ week extended maceration.)
  • From the press, the wine was transferred directly into barrel (25% new French oak: Sirugue, Marsannay and Mercurey),where it remained sur lie with no sulfur until the waning moon cycle of April, when it was gently pressure-racked for the first time and prepared for bottling in July. 14.9% alcohol
Read about the influences of the above choices on Pinot Noir here

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Have Wine will Travel: Bottlewise Wine Bag

Looking forward to heading up to Portland,Oregon to visit the parents for the holidays. My new post Christmas tradition is to take some time to head over to the wineries in Willamette Valley. Even with or because of the clouds and the rain this time of year, I am amazed at how much natural beauty had been available to me only about 30 minutes from my parents house. I look at those steep hillsides that most of the wineries grown on and have a moment of empathy for when it comes time to harvest. Harvest workers in Oregon must get quads of steel compared to some of their California compatriots. Somehow I think there's an odd reality show in there. Survivor: Harvest. One team has to restart a stuck fermentation before .. Anyway, so far I 've made my way to and can WCWC recommend Erath, Carlton Winemakers Studio, Cuneo, Argyle, Domaine Drouhin, Torii Mor, and probably a few more that don't come to mind. This time I'm hoping to strike out and explore some more while stopping by some favorites.

The dilemma that seems to occur often is that I find good wine and then feel this need to buy it but then fret over how I'm going to get it back with me and find unusual ways of packing it in with my clothes and hope for the best. I recently got wind of this product and thought it might be just the thing for traveling wine tasters. This bag has two removable padded pouches that hold two 750ml bottles and will fit right in your suitcase. Each pouch has a resealable liquid liner to protect your other stuff in case of bottle breakage. It also just looks handy overall to carry you wine with you while traveling. Head over to Bottlewise to check it out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Its not you it’s me": How to know when to dump a wine


You've scanned the wine list to find the perfect match. One of them catches your eye. The description sounds perfectly delectable and you know this varietal is your type. Your waiter presents the bottle to your table. Your friends all nod in approval. The wine is poured; you lean in to your glass hoping to catch the lovely aroma and instead get a whiff of something that reminds you of when it rained on that pile of newspapers you were going to recycle or your grandmother's old musty basement. Your wine has a flaw that will not pass muster with you or your friends. It seemed like the perfect choice. How did this happen?

Despite the winemaker’s best efforts, occasionally you will run into a wine that is flawed. There is a practical reason for why you try the wine before you commit to the bottle. In the case above, your wine had been infected with trichloranisole or T.C.A. Your wine is "corked", meaning a fungus has managed to set up camp in your unsuspecting wine’s cork. However, simply saying "This wine is corked" to your waiter will be sufficient. Despite the best sanitary processes this is a common flaw that can impact anywhere from 5- 15% of wines that use cork closures. This percentage depends on whether you are talking to wine tasting experts or cork producers.
Other flaws you may encounter are brettanomyces and volatile acidity. Depending on your own sensitivity, you may or may not find this offensive. At low levels, both can contribute to the “complexity” of the wine. Brettanomyces, commonly referred to as Brett, is wild yeast that can get into wine and leave its calling card. At more noticeable levels, your wine will smell like a barnyard and not the good earthy aspects. Specifically, it will smell like a horse's stall or even a manure like scent. Brett will also tend to have a sour acidity upon tasting. It is a flaw that typically impacts red wines.
Your chosen wine does not smell like a dank basement or a barnyard but instead reeks of vinegar or nail polish remover, blame Volatile Acidity (V.A). Acetic acid bacteria can contaminate a wine and produce vinegar in the wine. Wines impacted by VA can taste vinegary and will have an unpleasant lingering aftertaste. If the acetic acid, (vinegar), has reacted with the alcohol in the wine, the wine will smell of acetone or nail polish remover and will be very unpleasant to drink. This smell is hard to miss if you have ever gotten a manicure.
Some things you might notice about your wine are perfectly acceptable. If you notice that the end of the cork that was exposed to the wine is crusty, there is no reason to be alarmed. The crust is tartrate crystals that formed from the tartaric acid in the wine. Sediment in wine is perfectly natural as well. Don't dismiss your wine if you notice these things. Wine is alive and evolving and sometimes it leaves evidence.

This concludes the WCWC PSA for the season. Back to our restaurant scenario. You could not help but notice one of the above flaws with your wine. The self doubt kicks in and you start to dread having to make a fuss. It is time to have "the talk" with your waiter. Life is too short to drink bad wine. Do you want to celebrate with Moldy Merlot or Cuvee Barnyard Blend? If the wine is flawed, you should feel comfortable sending the wine back or returning it to the store. If you still feel unsure ask your server to taste the wine to confirm. There is no reason to feel guilty. The restaurant gets reimbursed from distributor for flawed wines. Wine stores also get reimbursed from the wholesaler so just be sure to bring back the wine and not just a receipt and a great story.

If you want to learn more or find examples of these flaws, visit Copia in Napa Valley. They have an interesting twist on the wine automat machine. One machine's theme is "Finding Faults with Wine" The machine will dispense for you examples of TCA and Brett and other common flaws in wine. Amazon also has this kit, for "entertaining" sniffing Le Nez du Vin Wine Flaws The Nose of Wine Essence Kits

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday : Fruili White Wines

Thank you again to Sonadora over at WannabeWino for hosting WBW #40. Please see the link to read all 52 posts. An amazing turnout. If you love Petit Sirah, check out the hard work done by for you by my fellow wine bloggers. January's WBW looks to be pretty interesting. Fork & Bottle is weighing in with white wines from Friuli. This will be an adventure for me since my expertise lies in wines from the West Coast of the US. I love AuBonClimat Tocai Friuliano ($18) and Palmina's Malvasia Bianca ( $25-$30) . Its worth every penny. Please, if you can, try the Malvasia Bianca. Its one of the most memorable white wines I've had from California. These wines are great examples of Italian white varietals in California but not from Friuli, so I'll be on the lookout for the holidays of a worthy candidate.

If anyone knows of a great wine shop in Southern California or Portland,Oregon where I will be during part of the holidays, let me know. Otherwise, I'll be using Fork & Bottle's list of recommended producers to start my hunt. Also if you have tasting rooms that you can recommend in the Willamette Valley, send them my way.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Pape Goes my Heart: Pape Star Kunin Wines for WTDOMN


Seth Kunin has been making wines since 1998. In his homage to the wines of Châteauneauf-du-Pape, he has made the Pape Star since 2003. I recently had the 2006 Pape Star Larner Vineyard and its now on my rebuy list. Predominately made of grenache (50- 60 %), Mourvedre and Syrah , this wine can be purchased at K&L for $17.99.
Great bargain for a lovely wine, bright red fruit flavors from the Grenache that is balanced with the spicy notes from the Mourvedre and Syrah. A delicious easy drinking wine that's sure to please. For the correct pronunciation of Pape, I'll refer you to Hugh Grant's best work to date.

Friday, December 14, 2007

2004 Tritono Malbec: The Triumvirate from Another Down Under, Argentina

I admit, I'm a huge fan of Palmina wines which is why I picked up this bottle. Plus, the label is just so beautiful. According to the site, "When local artist Bernudez learned of Tritono, he immediately created the devilish musical image used on the label". Steve Clifton along with Joe Bastianich, and Argentine winemaker Matias Mayol came together to create the 2004 Tritono Malbec sourced from Mendoza, Argentina. Before writing this post, I serendipitously read Eric Asimov's post on Ike Turner and wine while sipping the Tritono Malbec and it perfectly describes this wine. In fact Tina Turner for the opening of "Proud Mary" spells out the tasting notes for me.. Nice and easy and then the finish is rough. Fitting since Tritono is a musical interval of three whole tones and is the gap between two notes played in succession or simultaneously. Examples given include the opening of Black Sabbath's "Black Sabbath" and the two note intro for Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze".

Tasting Notes:
On the nose: savory earthy almost meaty essence with plum and black cherry, followed by a herbal note that I'd describe as if parsley, thyme and cilantro became one herb called "parsthymantro"( you saw it here first) and then tobacco and hickory on the finish. Upon tasting; delicious velvety texture. I love the elegance of a velvety mouth feel in wine. I noticed dark cherry and plum fruit but there was also a earthy savory characteristic that was downright meaty and is so reminiscent of a grilled rib eye that it won't be hard to figure out what to pair with this wine. The wine is almost a meal onto itself with a hickory, smoky finish. Again easy velvety fruit on the entry and a bit rough and savory on the finish. Tina Turner would approve.

Buy this wine at K&L or from Palmina directly. ( Prices vary from $35-$40)
For more information on the vineyard sources and winemaking go to Tritonovino.com

This article has been featured at Green Faucet in their Lifestyle section. Click here to check it out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

WBW: Que Sirah Sirah: Hey Bud it's Waltzing Bear Petit Sirah

Thank you Sonadora over at Wannabe Wino for this weeks' topic. After much deliberation and tastes of not so recommended Petit Sirah's , WCWC Adventures can fully endorse the 2004 Waltzing Bear "Bud" Petit Sirah for Wine Blogging Wednesday. This wine is sourced from French Camp Vineyard in San Luis Obispo County and retails for around $28- $32.

I got to catch up with the winemaker, Brad Lowman, at the Wine Wonderland Event at Chef Rick's recently and loved the Pinot Noir that was pouring, but that's for another post. We picked up a bottle of "Bud" Petit Sirah after the event. Talking with Brad had reminded me how much I loved his Petit Sirah at the ABC Open House Day over at Tantara earlier this year.

Bud is named after Brad's father who is a big Petit Sirah fan, so what better wine for Que Sirah Sirah. We opened up a bottle of the Waltzing Bear Bud 2004 Petit Sirah this week and we were not disappointed. Lovely mouth feel, sumptuous fruit and a nice velvety finish. Passion inspiring wine.

Tasting Notes:
The wine was dark but not as inky as many Petit Sirah's. This is a plus in my book, since this wine was well rounded wine on the palate and not flabby with an abrupt astringent finish akin to some Petit Sirah's I've had in the past. Lovely nose of black cherry and a touch of vanilla. Upon tasting, a lovely velvety mouth feel with a judicious amount of juicy cherry fruit and vanilla. A sumptuous, seductive wine meant for a great occasion. Pair with red meat or dark chocolate. This wine was aged in French oak and babied like like it was Pinot. Fantastic tannin management for a sometimes challenging varietal.

If you are in Los Olivos, CA on 12/15( 1-4pm) , Brad will be pouring at Wine Country. Try this Petit Sirah for yourself and let us know what you think.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bug Juice: Moscato Di Asti : Liven up your Party Palate!

Another holiday party and your funds are running low yet you want to bring something festive... Pick up a bottle of Muscato di Asti. ($10-$15) Its the new hip thing to do. ( Rose is so last season!) I really like the Rinaldi Bug Juice from Piedmont, Italy. It has a lovely aromatic nose and is sweet but not too sweet on the palate. Reminds me of Peach Nectar. It is quite refreshing and fun. This will go down easy but you can drink it relatively guilt free since it clocks in at 6% alcohol. Liven up your Party Palate!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Make it a Merlot Monday: Argyle 2003 Reserve Merlot

Oregon may be known for Pinot Noir and Argyle is a great producer of pinot and sparkling wines. However, on our last visit to their tasting room, I fell in love with the Argyle 2003 Reserve Merlot. Juicy fruit, great balance and nice touch of pepper. Delicious Merlot. WS rated this wine a 90.
I'm picking up the 2004 Argyle Reserve Merlot ($30) this year. It sounds like a winner from the winemaker's description of the 2004 vintage. Looks to be even better than the 2003 vintage.





Saturday, December 8, 2007

Rusack's John and Helen Falcone make SF Chronicle's Winemaker to Watch

Makers of fantastic Syrah's from Ballard Canyon, Rusack and their winemaking team,John and Helen Falcone, got some great recognition in the SF Chronicle. Check the article out here. Congratulations. We couldn't agree more! Rusack's tasting room is a great stop. The drive along Ballard Canyon to get there is one of the more picturesque in the area.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Good things come in Three’s: Trio Tasting Room in Solvang, California

I recently got the chance to visit Trio’s Tasting Room in Solvang on Thanksgiving weekend. I know what you’re thinking, isn’t Solvang the place that has Aebleskivers, (or as I like to call them: evilskeevers), and various other Danish foods. Luckily for Santa Barbara County wine lovers, Solvang is getting to be a hot spot for wine tasting. You don’t believe me? What if I told you that the winemaker behind the famous Sea Smoke Pinot Noir would be pouring her very own wines in a tasting room, you’d be interested right? Not enough. How about I add wines from the winemaker who was behind some of the greatest vintages from the Sanford Winery and the famous Sanford and Benedict Vineyard... You’d be interested right?

You get my point, Trio packs, not one, but three labels under one roof for you to taste right in the middle of Solvang. Curran Wines from winemaker, Kris Curran and Dibruno and Badge Wines from winemaker Bruno D’Alfonso.

Here’s the rundown and some short tasting notes for each. Amazing what you get to taste for $10!

Curran Gewürztraminer 2006
I can’t tell you how much I love this wine. It’s so lovely on the nose, spicy, floral, feminine, and inviting. Kris had been making personal supply of Gewürztraminer for her and friends so she’d have something appropriate to drink when she went out for Thai or Indian food. Thankfully now we can all share in the Curran Gewürztraminer. If you think you don’t like Gewürztraminer, because you've found them to be too sweet, this wine is for you. This wine is not sugary sweet. It was fermented to dryness and is an elegant example of the varietal. Buy this wine.

DiBruno Pinot Grigio 2005 (Library wine) $18
Golden hue, lots of fruit (stone fruit) on the palate balanced with the right amount of minerality and a lot of complexity for a Pinot Grigio . The finish is long and the wine has a wonderful well rounded mouth feel. This wine is a winner. It was fermented and aged in 100% stainless steel and malolactic fermentation was inhibited. It is an excellent Pinot Grigio and the grapes are sourced from Sanford and Benedict Vineyard, a little known source of excellent Pinot Grigio as well as Pinot Noir.

DiBruno Pinot Grigio 2006
This wine was not as golden as the 2005 and the fruit was much more zingy and fresh in this wine. I imagine it will age as well as its predecessor.

Curran Grenache Blanc 2006 ($24/ bottle)
I loved Kris’s first vintage of this wine, and this one is just as good. The wine is the color of pale straw, and the interplay of fruit tones combined with a crisp finish make it such an easy wine to sip. This wine was whole cluster pressed and fermented in stainless steel tanks; malolactic fermentation was inhibited to preserve the crisp fresh fruit on the palate. I will be doing an upcoming story on the Grenache Blanc and a behind the scenes peak at next year’s Grenache Gris which will be part of a new label for Kris Curran.

DiBruno Sangiovese 2004 ($24)
This wine is composed of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Nebbiolo sourced from Stolpman Vineyards. Bright Cherry on the nose and palate, nice chewy tannins and a lovely dry finish. This wine demands and Italian dish. Delicious!

Badge Pinot Noir 2005 (~$39)
Ripe cherry on the nose and palate a well crafted Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir.
Bruno’s first wines made under the Badge label were in 2003. He has been making wine under the DiBruno label since 1997.

Curran 2004 Black Oak Syrah ($30)
This is a great syrah. Dark, smoky, blackberry fruit, notes of anise and tobacco. The complexity is what one expects in a great syrah and this wine delivers. Aged in 25% New French Oak for 18 months and sourced from Black Oak Vineyard.

Curran 2004 Black Oak Reserve Syrah ( to purchase email sales@CurranWines.com)
This wine is the same as the previous Syrah except that it was aged for 33 months in 100% new French Oak. Kris explained that while some people shy away from 100% new oak for a long period of time that from her experience there is a point where the wine may taste over oaked but as you continue to age the wine in the barrels, equilibrium is achieved resulting in less oak influence and better oak integration into the wine’s profile. I managed to slip some wine science there but it wouldn’t hurt you to learn a bit while sipping a great syrah. The best part about science and wine is that you get to taste the wine to prove the hypothesis, which is much more fun than organic chemistry lab. But I digress. We concur with Kris Curran’s hypothesis after performing our own sampling analysis. The Reserve wine was lovely and yes, had a more velvety mouth feel than the previous and was in fact more fruit forward. An amazing syrah, we highly recommend picking this one up even if they aren’t pouring it. Trust us, if you like the Black Oak Syrah you will love this one as well.

Bonus Syrah: Curran Four Dog Blend Syrah 2004 ( to purchase email sales@CurranWines.com)
This wine is 72% syrah and the rest is a mix of Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Carignane.
Kris said she will be making this wine every year and it will always have around 72% syrah but the rest will be unique blend of three other grape varietals each year. A lovely syrah blend, we highly recommend it. We got to meet three of the four dogs who inspired the name for this blend. Roland was in the car nursing a broken leg but we got to meet Badge, Gunnar, and Breaker. I love German Shepard’s and these dogs were so mellow that one of them curled up by our feet during our tasting.

Trio is a great addition to Solvang and the Santa Ynez Wine Trail. They are located right next door to the Chef’s Touch on Mission Drive so you can pick a bottle of wine from your tasting and take it over to enjoy with your lunch. Trio will be getting a permit for their outdoor area soon as well. Wonderful staff, very friendly, and we got to meet both winemakers and their beloved dogs. Trio also chills their red wines to their proper serving temperature, which is still a rarity in most tasting rooms. A great inclusive atmosphere, and considering it’s the holiday season, a great place to stop to get some of the best wines in Santa Barbara County for friends and family.

1/19/08 Updates to Post: Link to Trio Wine Club and Website

If you enjoyed this post, Vote for WCWC Adventures here.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Buttonwood Pomegranate Fest Report: BW

Lots of Changes at Buttonwood. We stopped by the Pomegranate Open House and sampled the BW. BW is a tribute to Buttonwood founder, Betty Williams, and is a blend of four varietals from her farm. Its a blend of predominately Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. We enjoyed this blend immensely and for $48 a magnum this month for wine club members its a great gift.

Karen Steinwach's, their new winemaker, was in attendance and we found out about a lot of new varietals that Buttonwood will be offering in its portfolio next year. They'll be bottling a new style of Sauvignon Blanc early next year, and there's Grenache and Pinot Noir in barrels in the cellar. I am really looking forward to the 2007 vintage.

During our visit we also enjoyed the Buttonwood Trifle. Here's the recipe
1 pound cake cut in 1/2inch slices
Buttonwood Late Harvest Semillon
Sweetened and condensed plain yogurt
Pomegranate Jelly
Pomegranate seeds
Toasted chopped almonds

Put a layer of pound cake in a deep dish or bowl. Sprinkle it with Buttonwood Late Harvest Semillon. Spread the layer with yogurt. Thin the pomegranate jelly with a little Semillon and spoon over the yogurt. Dot with pomegranate seeds. Repeat layers. Top with almonds before serving.

Monday, December 3, 2007

WTDOMN: Fiddlehead Oldsville Reserve Pinot Noir

A wonderful wine from Kathy Joseph. Made in California from Oregon Pinot Noir. A great fit for WCWC Adventures and a great selection for "What to drink on Monday night"

Like a velvet glove on your palate. A nose of cherry and spice. Upon tasting: dark black cherry, plum and spice, some herbal notes, possibly sage or thyme. Find out for yourself by checking out this outstanding food friendly pinot. I'd highly recommend treating yourself to some Pacific Northwest salmon and opening a bottle of the Fiddlehead Oldsville Reserve Pinot Noir. I have enjoyed each vintage year of this wine so I'm recommending all of them. You can find this wine for around $40

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Buttonwood Pomegranate Festival Dec 1st and 2nd

Another great wine event up in Santa Ynez. Stop by Buttonwood this weekend and check out the Pomegranate Festival. It looks like they will be pouring " BW" a new signature wine for Buttonwood Farms. Betty Williams, the owner and "BW" herself will there to sign bottles and chat. Say Hello to Graham, their tasting room manager, for us before he's becomes a famous rock star with his band, Kinothek.

Out of the current Buttonwood lineup, I really enjoyed the 2004 Buttonwood Merlot. A blend of Merlot and Cab Franc, this is a lovely Medoc inspired wine. The dry gravel/ minerality reminds me of Chateau Greysac. Its dry, with earthy,i.e. dirt notes, tobacco, leather, and cedar. Our favorite Buttonwood wines in the past have been the incredible 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 1999 Trevin. I'm really looking forward to the new winemaker, Karen Steinwach's vision for Buttonwood. She's definitely a winemaker to watch.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

WCWC Wine Bargain: Pillar Box Red Table Wine

Big bold, fruity Australian Shiraz. For about $9-11.99 its a great mid week wine or bottle #2 with guests. You might like it so much it becomes bottle #1. This is a fun fruity wine.
I had this wine first at Paradise Wines Saturday tasting in Ventura, CA. Downtown Ventura has quite a few notable wine bars to check out on a lazy Saturday. We also enjoyed our visit to Westside Cellars.
Back to to the Pillar Box Red. I ran into it again at Bevmo and couldn't resist picking it up for $11.99. I just checked and its even cheaper at K&L ! ($8.99) Dang Bevmo! Robert Parker gave the 2005 Pillar box 91 points and the previous vintage 90pts. For $9 bucks, its worth checking out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wine Events for Sat Dec 1st: Wine Wonderland

I found out more scoop on this Saturday's Wine Wonderland in Santa Maria. Amazing Stuff for $30 a person. Fax in your order here for tickets.
Each winery will be featuring some unique activities:

  • Costa de Oro- Pouring Library Wines, live music, light snacks
  • Cambria- holiday snacks and special discounts
  • Ken Volk- snacks & special discounts
  • Cottonwood Canyon is pouring their 2000 Blanc de Blanc Sparking Wine and 2005 Dessert Syrah and having a book signing by Janet Penn Franks.
  • Rancho Sisquoc is having an art show featuring local artist Betsy Jones and offering special discounts.
  • Chef Rick's is not only pouring a bunch of great( and hard to find) wines, he's also making his famous Fried Chicken! Not to be missed, you'll know why when you have it.
  • The Wine Cottage will also be serving up some food samples and having a BBQ (for purchase) and live music.

Monday, November 26, 2007

WTDOMN, Alma Rosa Pinot Gris 2006


We took a trip up to Santa Ynez Valley for Thanksgiving weekend and stopped by the Alma Rosa Tasting Room on Santa Rosa Road. It is beautiful, a fantastic place to stop for a picnic. Alma Rosa Winery is the source of our chosen wine for "What to drink on Monday night"(WTDOMN). The 2006 Alma Rosa Pinot Gris: Lovely floral nose, crisp acidity, an eclectic mix of ruby red grapefruit, meyer lemon, with a touch of pear on the finish, and a nice well rounded mouth feel. All of this for $16. A wonderful food wine. We recommend pairing with Thai food & enjoy something besides turkey for dinner tonight.
side note: the bottle & label are lovely, great packaging: A thoughtful holiday gift.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. The Navarro Edelswicker( $12) was a big hit and I used some to deglaze the roasting pan for the gravy. A blend of Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris it has lovely floral aromatics and was quite pleasing with our meal. We went with the J Wilkes 2005 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir Hillside Blend to pair well with the more earthy elements of the meal. This Pinot is one of my favorites and is well balanced and more reminiscent of a french red burgundy than a California Pinot. Our turkey came out great. We used a blend of sage and thyme in butter and worked it under the skin of the turkey. We also basted our turkey with the rest of the blend. We never did get to the EOS Late Harvest Muscato but it is a delicious dessert wine.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday Edition #39

I'm about to head into the kitchen for a day of baking and prep work for thanksgiving. I think baking activities will pair well with a bottle of local Laetitia Brut de Noir we still have leftover from our wedding.
I
did manage to procrastinate this morning and read the WBW roundup over at Brooklynguy's Wine and Food Blog. Its a good read and you might find some bargain burgundy. I 'm taking some notes and going over to my local wineshop to try some of these finds. I hope to participate in the next WBW at Wannabe Wino. I'll start looking for a Petit Syrah or I will be durif...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

We're Jammin: 2005 Brochelle Zinfandel

Continuing the Mountain terroir theme but in a different AVA. The Westside of Paso Robles brings us another wonderful Zinfandel. Brochelle Vineyards, 2005 Zinfandel is Zintastic. Score 1 for the westsiders in the east vs westside Paso debate.
This wine hails from the Brochelle Vineyards. A 20 Acre steep mountainside vineyard with head pruned zinfandel and dry farmed vines. The commensurate lower yield from these techniques pays off in the intense flavors of this wine.
Tasting Notes: Ruby color. Lovely nose of spice, strawberry, cherry, dark chocolate and a touch of vanilla. Taste: Jammy strawberry and cherries, dark chocolate, a bit of a zing, and a nice note of vanilla on the finish. I suppose what you smell is what you get with this wine.
This wine definitely benefited from decanting. The mouth feel developed beautifully and was pleasantly well rounded. Prices for this wine vary in the $20-$30 range, see Winesearcher or K& L
Wine Geek Facts from their website :

  • Harvest date 9/1/05 Brix 25.8 • Alcohol 15.6%
  • • 1590 cases produced
  • • Aged Seventeen months in 80% French (10% new), 20% American oak barrels
  • • Appellation: Paso Robles, Estate Grown
  • • 98.5% Zinfandel, 1.5% Syrah

Monday, November 19, 2007

What to drink on Monday Night: St Francis Rockpile Red

In honor of the number of people who arrive at this site by googling the exact phrase " What to drink on Monday night", I think we may start a new tradition and recommend a new wine each Monday. I am a bit concerned about how many people are so despondent about going to work on Tuesday that they are googling the phrase "What to drink on Monday night" but hey working for living can really be a grind. A friend of mine and I used to call it " Avoid Tuesday" and predictably after "Avoid Tuesday" revelry we would be a bit tired for work on Tuesday.

Anyway, in honor of the all of you who got through Monday, WTDOMN 's (what to drink on monday night) recommendation is : St Francis Rockpile Red 2004. I opened this bottle and before I even got a chance to pour it, the room smelled like banana bread. Pretty amazing for a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. After letting the wine sit for 15-20 minutes. ( I only have so much patience), it was quite satisfying. Great acidity for pairing with food, lovely fruit that was reminiscent of plums and currant, on the nose... banana ( so cool!) and a nice bit of spice on the finish. So if you are looking for " What to Drink on Monday Night" look no further...

Cool Facts:
Rockpile is an actual AVA , that was recognized in 2002. Its located on a mountainside in the Northernmost corner of Sonoma County by Mendocino County. 2000 Ft above sea level therefore too far from the fog in Sonoma, these grapes see lots more sunshine and are sourced from Rod & Cathy Park’s Rockpile Vineyard. The 2005 vintage sells for $45 dollars on the St Francis website.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations

Over at Domaine 547, they are selling wine blogger selected wine packs. I loved the idea so much, I decided to put a local Santa Barbara county spin on Brooklynguy's Loire Valley selections. I'm recommending two wine bargains for thanksgiving.

White: Foxen's 2005 Chenin Blanc Ernesto Wickenden Vineyard "Old Vines"Santa Maria Valley ($20). Lovely acidity, notes of pear, and nice touch of honeysuckle on the palate.

Red: Carr Vineyards 2004 Cab Franc Santa Ynez Valley($22) I just had this recently at Bellavino and it is just delicious. Lots of cherry, chocolate and just yummy. Hopefully they are selling it at their shop by the bottle. I need to pick up a bottle or two.

These two wines are a bargain and great local finds. I hope our turkey comes out as good as last year. ( see picture) We seasoned him up with salt, pepper and shoved, I mean massaged gently, a blend of thyme, sage, and butter under the skin before roasting. This way I don't have to bother basting. To keep it moist,the secret is to use aluminum foil on the turkey breast till the last hour of cooking.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tasting Room Recommendation: Domaine Chandon Napa Valley

A big surprise for us on our Napa tour was how much we loved Domaine Chandon's Tasting room. Champagne or Sparkling made in the Méthode Traditionnelle.. (don't want the french cracking down on me), is a great respite from red wine tasting. It wakes your palate back up and gets your brain enjoying something different. The grounds here are of course beautiful but we really loved the tasting room. Ground to ceiling windows showing off the grounds, lots of different sparkling tastings, small bites to order, and table where you and your group can enjoy a bottle of champagne. Very knowledgeable staff, great small bites menu, and the food order arrived quickly and was delicious. The fleur de sel on my sandwich's crust was such a nice touch and really paired well with the wine. We would have hung out all day if we didn't have a food and wine pairing appointment at St Francis.

We've vowed to come back to check out this place in the evenings when they serve champagne cocktails and it turns into a lounge. Bubble Hour features 1/2 off Chandon wine and $5 sparkling cocktails from 6-7 pm. The lounge is open till 10pm. Considering how quiet wine country is a night, this would be a great place to unwind in the evening. Hwy 29 Yountville.

Coturri Winery: Tasting at Wade's Wines

Stop by Wade's Wines in Agoura Hills this Saturday Nov 17th from 2- 6ish to try Coturri Wines. We went Friday night and it is worth the trip. I'll will update with a full report soon. The Sangiovese is something to meditate over... Amazingly thought provoking. What more can you ask for in a wine. Tony their winemaker will be there for questions.

From Wades' site:"Coming from a long history of winemakers, third generation Tony Coturri has been making organically farmed wines since 1964, including CabernetSauvignon, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Albarello, and a Cabernet Port."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Grgich Hills Tasting Report


We managed to head over to the Wineyard and it was crowded!
They were pouring the new releases. Overall, I 'd recommend the Grgich Chardonnay but I have to say I have some concerns about their price points these days. As I browsed the back of the store with my glass, I noticed that Chard's I enjoy, like Domaine Alfred's Chamisal vineyards, were priced at $23.99 while the Grgich was running for $38.99.. Of course it depends on your preference. I do admire the Grgich style of inhibiting malolactic fermentation to allow the varietal to come through, but their price is starting to become a bit inhibitory for me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Grgich Hills Estate Wines Tasting Thursday Nov 15th

The Wineyard in Thousand Oaks will have Grgich Hills pouring their new vintages of the chardonnay, merlot, cabernet and zinfandel this Thursday. I've missed this tasting before when it came into town. Hoping to go tommorrow.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Santa Maria Wine Wonderland December 1st 2007

Wine Wonderland in Santa Maria, CA is Dec 1st and its only $30/person for all of these options! If you don't have plans for Dec 1st this is a great way to get some holiday shopping done on the wine trail.

Chef Rick's will be pouring : Ambullneo Vineyards,Waltzing Bear,Native 9,Alta Maria,Tantara

Wine Cottage Bistro will feature: Casa Torres Vineyards,William James Cellars,Vaquero Cellars,Wildhorse Vineyard, Riverbench Vineyard

Participating wineries are: Foxen, Addamo Vineyards,Costa de Oro,Kenneth Volk Vineyards, Rancho Sisquoc,Cottonwood Canyon,McKeon-Phillips,Cambria

Monday, November 12, 2007

Linne Calodo The Outsider

We enjoyed a bottle of the 2005 Linne Calodo Outsider. The name refers to the limestone soils on the west side of Paso Robles. Within Paso there appears to be some sort of wine gang war between the east side and the west side with both claiming superiority. Since I have enjoyed wines from both sides of the 46 I'm not going to weigh in on that argument.

As for the Linne Calodo Outsider, a blend of 70% Zin, 27% syrah, and 3% mourvedre it is quite pleasing. At 15.6% alcohol, be wary of drinking too much less you become the Outsider.

Tasting Notes: Dark Ruby Color. Nose of black cherry, anise, with a touch of vanilla. The vanilla makes me assume it was aged in American oak.

Taste: juicy fruit, smoky, a touch of pencil shavings. Nice plush mouth feel and it lingers nicely without any bitter aftertaste. Despite the higher alcohol content, it is simultaneously light as a feather in your mouth and feels full and well rounded. This is one of my favorite qualities in well made wine.

Take a look at Linne Calodo's site for some great harvest pictures In some of those pictures they showed perhaps why their wines have such a great mouth feel and a good tannin balance. They are using a techniques called délestage to aid in tannin management. Délestage involves draining the fermenting tank out the bottom through a screen to remove some of the seeds. The juice is then held in an intermediate tank. It is then pumped, and thus aerated, into a second tank. During this time the cap is left in the first fermenting tank. Finally the juice is pumped back over into the first tank without breaking up the cap. This technique is meant to aerate the must which should enhance the final aroma profile. It also should allow for greater color and flavor extraction from the cap ( skins, seeds). This process also removes some of the seeds which tend to impart bitter or harsh tannins in wine.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Oregon Pinot Noir Riedel Glass: Great branding or a real tasting improvement?

Score 1 for great branding of the Oregon Pinot Noir. See the second glass pictured on the right. Its so special it gets its very own Riedel glass. From reviews I read, people swear it does make a difference.
If you want to try it out for yourself, you can buy it here.

I wondered why its specific to Oregon Pinot so I looked up the info at the Riedel site and the low down on the original burgundy glass:"The Riedel Vinum Burgundy/Pinot Glasses, Set of 4 is excellent for full-bodied red wines (more than 12.5 percent alcohol) with high acidity and moderate tannin. " So perhaps, the implication is that fine oregon pinot's have less alcohol or are not as full bodied and are enhanced by having the aroma concentrated by the new tulip shape.

I've seen this tulip style used years before in Domaine Alfred's tasting room and I was a big fan of their 2002 Estate Pinot Noir.
Anyone out there tried out these glasses yet and seen a difference?

I actually love these for the price

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Small Big Wineries: Why small winemaking styles are taking off at big wineries

Wines and Vines has an interesting Article on how big producers like Louis M. Martini and Rodney Strong are setting up boutique wineries within the winery or WWW. A great scientific experiment to show why certain winemaking methods while not scalable are preferable for the more sophisticated consumer.

Some Highlights from Tina Caputo over at Wines and Vines


  • "Small-production winemaking is driving the growth of the U.S. wine industry.
  • Half of the wineries in North America are producing less than 15,000 cases per year.
  • Today's more sophisticated wine drinkers are seeking out limited-production labels.
  • Louis M. Martini and Rodney Strong wineries have created smaller wineries within their main facilities for making higher-end, limited-production wines."


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

J. Daan: Bargain Oregon Pinot Noir

This was a great find during our tour of the Willamette Valley. After tasting this pinot at the Carlton Winemakers Studio, I was shocked to glance down and see that it was only $22 bucks.

J Daan 2005 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley is a lovely well balanced pinot noir with a lighter burgundian style. Amazing pinot for the price.

The Carlton Winemakers Studio is a great place to stop in Oregon Wine Country. Check out the "green" construction" and the diverse selection of wine. Wine cooperatives are a great place for winemakers to get their start without all of the overhead of building their own winery. The camaraderie and cross pollination of techniques makes cooperatives incubators for the next up and coming winemakers for the region. Get the wines now while they are still a bargain. A great example of an alumni is Scott Paul Wines now making fabulous wines nearby.

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