Friday, September 28, 2007

Cruising the Ghetto Harvest Style

On my weekly day off from wrangling grapes at Star Lane Vineyard, I decided that I really needed to check in with some of my former colleagues in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto to see how harvest was shaping up for them. The only people I found in the cellar today were the fellas at Longoria Winery, where they'd just finished crushing 2 tons of Pinot Noir from the Bien Nacido Vineyard. the fruit looked pretty funky, but Rick Longoria says it always looks that way and makes great wine every year. After 30 years of making wine in SB County, I suppose he is as good an authority as there is on that subject. BTW, the 2007 Fe Ciega crop came in last week. The fruit looks and smells great and will probably be pressed off sometime next week. Most of the fermentations were finished or close to it. Can 't wait to taste some barrel samples in a few months.

Monday, September 17, 2007

What to drink with Monday Night Football: Zaca Mesa 2005 Viognier

I had to watch my team lose tonight. Donovan and the Eagles just haven't seemed to get it together yet.. The packers and now the redskins.... The biggest cheers tonight were for Reno Mahe and that's because he managed to receive punts from the Redskins.

At least the Zaca Mesa 2005 Viognier was up to the task. I'd highly recommend this wine with a cream sauced dish or perhaps Pad thai. The pinapple and mango fruit notes also would contrast nicely with salty items, like nacho chips and football.

Its very crisp and has a plenty of minerality. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks. The time in the neutral oak gives it a wonderful rounded mouthfeel. Highly enjoyable food wine. Eagles not as enjoyable today.

* Double Gold Best in Class - San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Central Coast Wine Services: Feed the Yeast 2007

Today was a great learning experience. I'm volunteering at CCWS in Santa Maria and helping out winemaker Jeff Wilkes. I got to check out the 2007 Solomon hills Pinot cold soaking in the vats today. Right now they smell of blueberry and earl grey tea with Jasmine floral notes. After the punch down , we got the fermentation started with two different yeast cultures. I.E. "pitch the yeast". It will be fun to go in tomorrow and hopefully see the yeast in action.

Besides the copious amounts of water used to wash everything, searching your brain for liter to gallon to ton to yield conversions, watching yeast make bubbles, the best part is getting to taste the 2006 barrels. The 2006 Solomon Hills pinot noir just tastes spectacular right now in the barrel. Silk smooth, rich fruit, sweet but not sugar sweet. Its a jewel. The 2006 Bien Nacido block Q pinot noir also amazing. Big black cherry cola nose . I loved it. I'm very much looking forward to having a bottle someday.

We also tasted a small amount of chardonnay ( same lot 2 different barrels) the first barrel had a great rounded mouthfeel.( maloactic fermentation). The second was more green and earthy( in a good way) with a real pretty fruit and an astringent finish. It will be interesting to taste the finished product.

Can't wait for tomorrow!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Why Disney's Club 33 is better than StarTours

Thanks to some special people, I got to enjoy Club 33 at DisneyLand last night. The food was great and the service was wonderful and very friendly.

I had a glass of the Pine Ridge 2006 Chenin Blanc Viognier with my salad and it paired very well with the peaches and stone fruit amongst the field greens. It was crisp with light fruit and a nice finish. I'm pretty sure you should be able to find this for around $10 online or even at your local BevMo. A real bargain white wine.

The wine chosen for dinner was the 2003 Quivira Zinfandel - Dry Creek Valley It paired amazingly well with the profilteroles filled with duck.

The dessert wine was really delicious Lillypilly Estate 2002 Noble Blend. Our sommelier noted that is was a blend of four varietals( sauvignon blanc, semillon muscat and riesling grapes) infected with noble rot. A beautiful golden hue with a lively tropical nose with nice support of spice and floral notes that convinced me it was worth trying. Great balance on the palate.

As far as StarTours: I beg Disney to update this ride. My plasma tv has better resolution. I would have been more entertained if someone had shook my couch while I watched Star Wars. At least The Indiana Jones ride made up for it.

Friday, September 7, 2007

J Wilkes Tasting at Wades Wine: If you like Pinot Colada's & ...

Always a pleasure to meet up with Jeff Wilkes. He was pouring his new wines at Wade's today.

I was personally looking forward to tasting these wines since I had gotten to taste the 2006 pinot blanc while it was still fermenting. Back then it was so tropical it tasted alot like a pina colada. Upon tasting now, it was fun to pick up on the notes of pineapple and creaminess that are still present.

The newly released 2006 Pinot Blanc, Bien Nacido Vineyards has a lot more fruit in the nose than the 2005. Huge notes of pineapple and meyer lemon. Plenty of crisp acidity that just begs for food. I can imagine how well this would go with chicken picatta. The 2005 Pinot blanc while have less fruit forward characteristics,exihibited plenty of wonderful minerality and note again of meyer lemon with a long finish. I was reminded why I served it at thanksgiving last year. For $18.99 at Wade's you can afford to try it.

My favorite for the price ( $39.99) 2005 J. Wilkes Hillside Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Pinot Noir . Not your typical big fruit california pinot. This one reminded me of a great burgundy. A deep sensuous complexity with a wonderful spicey, herbal bouquet. The notes of strawberries and cherries typical to pinot are there but they are just one of the many that will overwhelm your senses. I loved it.

2005 J. Wilkes Solomon Hills Block 3 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir $39.99
This was a wonderful more fruit forward Santa Maria Pinot. A bit more rustic than the previous offering but depending on your taste you might prefer this.

2005 J. Wilkes Block Q Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Barbara Pinot Noir $59.99

Compared to the 2004 from the same vineyard you can really taste the different harvest conditions. 2004 was hot compared to when these grapes came in. This was far more subtle than the 2004 counterpart and had much more complexity in the bouquet and a more rounded mouth feel. Very elegant and feminine the fruit, herbal, earthy notes all came through immediately up sipping. Its a wine that might make you raise an eyebrow like Mr. Spock.
The thyme on the finish really make me want to pair this with salmon with thyme and carmelized shallots. I would put this one down if I had the patience and try it again in 2 yrs. It probably could age up to 8 years.
Robert Parker gave the 2005 Bien Nacido Block Q pinot 90 points.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Wild about St Francis Syrah

Just cracked open a 2004 Wild Oak Syrah. Fantastic acid balance,strawberry fruit and notes of chocolate. Have with some warmed fig and goat cheese.
This picture is from our visit last time to St Francis. My favorite purchase was the 2005 Chardonnay, Behler Reserve, Sonoma Valley . Great fruit without going too tropical. Well rounded mouth feel akin to nougat with hints of toasted nut flavors and good acidity. Amazing with Mt Tam Cheese.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Firestone Vineyards bought by Foley Vineyards: The Buellton Brewery Is Safe

Well, this could work out quite well. Their two wine brands are not in the same price space and I do love the Foley 2005 Pinot Noir, Rancho Santa Rosa . It will be interesting to see the changes brought to the Firestone wines.
And according to the Santa Maria Times

"the family will retain ownership of Curtis Winery, Firestone Walker Brewing Co. and a new family winery in Paso Robles, as well as the Jarhead Red and Rock Hollow wine brands."

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

What to pair with Beer Can chicken: Darioush

After using the spice rub from this recipe and assaulting a whole chicken with a beer can because its way to hot to cook in side in Southern California. (See food network recipe by Bobby Flay) we paired it with a fantastic 2003 Darioush Signature Chardonnay Napa Valley , which cost way more than the organic chicken from Costco :)

I can't wait to really class things up around our house and open that amazing 2003 Darioush Signature Shiraz Napa Valley and pair it with some tri tip. If you are in Napa, their tasting room is a pretty spectacular site.

Monday, September 3, 2007

New Riedel glass; Can you handle it?
It could serve as a training wheels for your less wine enthused friends.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Brian Loring's Rhone costs lots of bones

I acquired a while back one of the rare Loring 2005 Gary's Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah. 1 barrel was made and hence there are only 20 cases made and therefore the high price.. supply and demand... so annoying when it comes to paying for the wine you want.

It was all purchased by Lorraine Alban at the Hospice Du Rhone auction. Apparently Brian Loring swears he will never make another syrah. Yes and Cher's farewell tour was her last. But this wine is rare and if you are interested in tasting a new world style pinot maker's interpretation of syrah you may want to acquire a bottle.

The cherry fruit and anise notes are overall very nice for a syrah. The finish is a bit abbreviated but the velvety mouthfeel makes up for it. The astringency and earthy notes should lend this wine to pairing well with a nice steak and mushrooms.
If you like Brian Loring's Pinot's, you should look into this wine.

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