Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sparkling Sunday Brunch

Sunday is game day and the best way to start your day is a good breakfast right? Lets lay out a nice morning plan for Superbowl Sunday. Grab your favorite sparkling, some good recommendations across different price points are

  • Korbel Brut Rose $9.99 Its inexpensive but always is pleasing. One of the better values out there. You can find this wine in your local supermarket.
  • Gruet Methode Champenoise, Blanc de Blancs ( $24) A sparkling from New Mexico, their line of sparklings are great bargains and delicious.
  • Laetitia Brut de Blanc $24 I always enjoy stopping at this tasting room on the way to Paso Robles.
  • Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne $37 We visited their tasting room last year and its worth the stop. You get to compare aging differences in Magnum's vs the 750ml. The sparkling ages slower in the magnum. This wine is inexpensive considering these are the people who make the much hyped Cristal.
Chill the sparkling, and lets start to make Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes w/ Maple Syrup Pecans. Preheat oven to 400 F and drink your coffee.
Toast 4oz of pecans for 5 mins on a cookie sheet at 400 F. Take 1 cup of maple syrup and heat in a saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in toasted pecans and 2- 4 tbs of unsalted butter. Set aside. Melt 4 tbs of unsalted butter and let cool for the next step. Toss fresh blueberries in Freezer chill slightly and reduce chances of burning later.

In the larger bowl, (this will be where all your final ingredients end up) put in 2 egg yolks, reserve the whites for later, 1 cup of sourcream, 2/3 cup of milk and 4 tbs of cooled melted butter. Beat this mixture well.

In a smaller bowl sift 1 1/2 cup of flour , 2tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 cup of sugar. After sifting ingredients together add this to your first larger bowl all at once and beat until smooth.

Take the reserved egg whites and beat until soft peaks form. Fold them into the batter. Then fold in 8 oz of blueberries. Mix but don't over mix. That is , don't concern yourself if there are a few lumps. You can use frozen or fresh. I used fresh and put them in the freezer when I started to chill them a bit so they'd hold up to cooking better.

The recipe says to heat griddle over medium heat and then reduce to low to avoid burning the blueberries. I used a 1/4 cup measure to add batter to the pan and cook in batches. My stove cooked them fine using medium heat the whole time. It took too long to cook them on low and I was hungry. Experiment with the first batch and adjust heat as necessary. Turn pancakes when bubbles appear on the surface and/or peak under to see if they have turned golden brown. Cook on other side for a minute or so. Serve with the maple syrup or if go over the top like I did and serve them with a dollup of rice pudding , fresh ground nutmeg, and then the maple syrup pecans. It was divine with the sparkling. Enjoy and add a few fresh blueberries to the champagne. This recipe is adapted from Pancakes & Waffles.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

2002 Arcadian Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard

I just had another bottle of 2002 Arcadian Pinot Noir from the Fiddlestix Vineyard ($52). I knew that I really liked this wine, but I had forgotten how much. I may have tasted every wine made from this vineyard in this vintage, about 20, and this is one of the two or three best. It has all of the trademark Fiddlestix components: dark fruit, surprising earthiness, some cool spice notes. But whereas most of the Pinot Noirs from that vineyard are big and fleshy with incredible depth, the 2002 Arcadian is sexy and complex. I've described it as a symphony before and I think it's true. The wine starts with bright cherry notes that immediately become darker almost to plum. The mouth-feel and flavors increase in the mid-palate with tones of soft mushroom and other earth note mingling with the fruit. The finish is long and complex with hints of black and green tea, rhubarb, and cherry cola. It is a very silky wine as well.

I wish there was more of this wine to be had, But I've been told by winemaker Joe Davis that it is almost gone at the winery. Joe will be making an appearance at Wine Country in Los Olivos on February 17th and perhaps he will still have some with him.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Spotlight on Jaffur's Tasting Room in Santa Barbara

I'm thankful that Craig Jaffur's quit the aerospace industry and followed his passion for wine. Starting out as a cellar rat at the Santa Barbara Winery, Jaffur's first commercial vintage was in 1994. They've been successful ever since. Craig Jaffur's passion for Rhone varietals shows in his always enjoyable Viogner and Syrah. Jaffurs moved to their Santa Barbara Facility in 2001 located on Montecito Street just off of Milpas. We stopped there on our way to the Santa Barbara International Film Fest. Its going on till Feb 3rd and has some pretty interesting movies showing all throughout the week.
Jaffurs 2006 Viogner $24
Color: Pale straw Nose: perfumed flowers, touch of spice. Taste: well rounded and floral, pleasant mineral finish.

Jaffurs 2006 Grenache $34 -New Release
Color: dark ruby red. Nose: bing cherry, leather, plum, and pepper
Taste: Delicious ripe cherry, distinct notes of tellicherry black pepper and some nice soft tannins supporting the fruit. Lingering finish that fades out to a faint note of cherry.

2005 Cane Felice Sangiovese $25
This is a project by Jaffurs' assistant winemaker, David Yates and features Kava the winery dog on the label. Notes: Lovely garnet color with aromas of raspberries and spice. A simply delicious wine. The nose on this wine is amazingly vibrant.

Jaffurs 2006 Syrah Santa Barbara County $23-$25
Aged for 10 months in oaks this wine was silky on the palate with lots of dark fruit. A tasty Jaffurs syrah with good QPR. This wine is blended from several vineyard sources throughout SB County.

Jaffurs takes the best barrels from each vineyard and lets them aged for 18 months in oak. These barrels are the source for the vineyard designate Jaffurs Syrah's from Bien Naciedo, Thompson, and Verna's Vineyard. The best of these barrels will contribute to their 2005 Upslope Syrah $75 . This wine is built to last and would be one to lay down. Sorry, no tasting notes for this one.

Jaffurs 2005 Thompson Vineyard $30-$34
On the nose there were hints of mint and chocolate. This wine is big & a bit thick on the palate, reminiscent of glycerin. Notes of tobacco and vanilla adding to the dark juicy fruit. Very decadent heady stuff.

Jaffurs 2005 Late Harvest Syrah
This was Jaffurs first red dessert wine. During our tasting, Matt Brady told us how Jaffur's has always made a different dessert wine every year. I think he was pulling for a late harvest Grenache some time soon. The only other one I'm aware of is the Core "Candy Core". This late harvest Syrah was quite enjoyable. Lovely fruit with the right touch of sweet and tannins. I'd recommend serving this with raspberries and molten chocolate cake.

The wines I couldn't bear to leave the tasting room without were the Viogner, Grenache, and the Sangiovese. Stop by next time you are in Santa Barbara and let us know what you think.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Time for Winter Whites and Comfort Food

Winter weather is a great excuse to cook. The oven gets your house warmer and who doesn't love comfort food in the winter. It was Sunday and there were 2 NFL Football playoffs on... I figured it was time to roast a chicken and make Portabella Mushroom Lasagna. Of course I needed a wine...

St Francis 2005 Behler Reserve Chardonnay ($26)
We first had this wine during our reserve wine & food pairing for two at St Francis. The pairing of this wine with the Mt Tam and La Tur cheeses was sublime. This Chardonnay was barrel fermented and went through malolactic fermentation. The Behler estate that provides most of the fruit for this bottling was named in honor of the Behler Family who cultivated the vineyard back in the 1900's. It became St Francis's original estate in 1971.

Tasting Notes:
Color: Pale Golden
Nose: Floral notes akin to gardenia and honeysuckle and green apple. Not as tropical as the first time I had it.
Taste: Crisp green apple, a touch of creamy vanilla and well rounded. Being a barrel fermented Chard, this wine had a fuller body that paired great with the Roast Chicken and the Portabella Mushroom Lasagna. Just enough oak influence to impart some more texture and roundedness without blighting out the varietal. It was heavenly with this meal.

Recipe for Roast Chicken

  • Get a whole Chicken
  • Get your husband to rinse him and get rid of the neck:)
  • Pat the chicken dry inside and out ( this makes a huge difference in flavor)
  • Place in a glass dish and season inside and out with Northwoods Seasoning, garlic salt, and fresh ground tellicherry pepper.
  • Cut a whole garlic in half and place(shove) inside the chicken
  • Roast Chicken at 425 for 1hr -1.5 hrs or till internal temp is 170. In this case I roasted at 425 for about 30 mins and then turned it down to 375 to cook the lasagna with the bird.
  • Remove chicken from Roasting rack
  • Make Gravy with browned bits.
  • Make use of the DVR to pause the game to ensure good gravy
  • Add chicken broth & some of the white wine and a diced shallot to the pan and let it come to a simmer while scraping the browned bits off the pan. Add 1 tbs flour and Add 1- 2 tablespoons of butter, add a bit more flour if its not thickening. Stir whole time :) Salt and pepper to taste.
Modifications to Barefoot Contessa Recipe:
  • I mixed shitake and baby portabella's and sauteed them with a clove of diced garlic.
  • I used 2% milk instead of whole and it was still very good.
This made Monday nights dinner easy (leftovers) & we got to pair it with a different wine. The J Wilkes Pinot Blanc, while good with the chicken, paired much better with the portabella lasagna. This Pinot Blanc was more crisp since it was fermented in stainless steel. It went great with the Parmesan in the lasagna.

The J Wilkes 2006 Pinot Blanc ( $18) had really changed quite a bit since the last time I had it. Instead of tasting Meyer lemon, it was now showing softer more complex tropical tones. I tasted mango, guava, cantaloupe and floral notes. The wine also opened up more on the nose and had a ton of floral and spicy notes. I have enjoyed watching this wine evolve.
Disclosure: I worked with Jeff Wilkes for the 2006 & 2007 harvest and have fond memories of tasting this wine while it was still fermenting.
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

2005 Foxen Sangiovese Volpino is good Vino

It has been a flurry of sports watching in our house with the NFL playoffs and Bruin Basketball. The Foxen Sangiovese wine paired great with friends, UCLA basketball, and Pizza. A big hit with everyone.

Tasting Notes:
2005 Foxen Sangiovese Volpino Red Table Wine($30)
78% Sangiovese from Faith Vineyard and 22% Merlot sourced from Volgelzang Vineyard
Color: Dark Garnet
Nose: Cherry, thyme, rosemary, blueberry and a touch of something that kind of reminded me of being a kid. It was like Play dohbut in a good way. Lets take that up a notch and call it earthy, perhaps clay.
Taste: Juicy cherry and raspberry up front, leathery tannins and a nice compact finish.

For those of you reading along with the Wine Book Club know.. you'll notice Vino Italiano peering out from behind the wine. I know this is a Cal Italian wine but hey this WCWC Adventures :) ...Anyway, just a subtle reminder that there are only a few more weeks to finish before the First Edition of the WBC in 2008!

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Monday, January 21, 2008

WTDOMN: Rosenblum Vintners Cuvee XIXX : Recession Proof Wine

Continuing with the inexpensive wines for Mondays this January and considering the predicted impending doom in the stock markets, this one probably can't be beat for the amount of flavor and fun you get for around $8.99 at many stores or K&L. Rosenblum Vintners Cuvee XIXX was a bargain I discovered while perusing the wine list at PF Chang's. It was a rich, fruity Zinfandel that I was later shocked to find in stores for 9 bucks. That's about what I paid for the glass in the restaurant, which is why we often pick up dinner so we can have our own wine. But for a bit of inexpensive wine tasting fun, PF Chang's will let you pick three wines for a wine tasting flight off their menu for $12 bucks. Its a pretty good deal and make dinner a bit more fun. I enjoyed my flight of this wine, the Buena Vista Carneros Pinot Noir, and the Rioja Reserva Marques de Riscal 2000. Check out their wine list here. Apparently I'm the only one who likes the Rioja, the bartender there told us it was the least frequently ordered wine. Which is kind of funny because the more commonly ordered wines, I didn't think very much of or found them downright offensive. My husband always finds it funny when I don't like a wine. I guess you could say I don't have what you call a poker face.

Back to the Zin, I find this wine consistently appealing and far more complex than it needs to be for the price. Rosenblum is a consistently good producer and their pride shows even in a lower priced wine. Great delicious fruit, touch of vanilla and enough acidity to make it wonderfully balanced on your palate. If you want a satisfying wine but don't want to dig into some of your pricier stash that night, this wine is a pleaser.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Kris Curran moves on from Seasmoke to....

Looks like 2008 is going to be a big year for Kris Curran. After working to make Seasmoke probably one of the most successful names in Pinot Noir from the Santa Rita Hills, she's moving on to help Bill Foley develop a new project. This project will be the transformation of the previously named Ashley's Vineyard,(when Fess Parker owned it) to Las Hermanas under Foley. Just to keep track, this vineyard was sold by the Parkers to John Zahoudanis and known as Gaia for a time. Read more here on that deal.

I know this vineyard can make great Pinot Noir based on my experience with wines sourced from there. Las Hermanas is only 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean on Highway 246 near Lompoc. I believe this makes it the westernmost vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills. It certainly will provide lots of cool nights for some exciting Pinot in the future. Considering her track record, we are looking forward to what Las Hermanas will bring in 2008 and beyond.
Kris Curran will also be continuing her work on her own label which you can taste at Trio in Solvang. We also look forward to her further investigation of Spanish Varietals including the still fermenting Grenache Gris we got to taste at Trio.

Since it was still fermenting, it was still cloudy. The color reminded me of guava juice. On the nose, it smelled of melon and spice and it tasted of mango and guava fruit. This is my impression of a still fermenting wine and thus not representative of the final product but it has some pretty exciting fruit and spice already. I’m pretty sure that this was the first time I had any Grenache Gris from Santa Barbara County or from anywhere for that matter. The varietal is also known as Garnacha Rosa or Grey Grenache. Grenache is like Pinot in that there are three color related varietals. ( Noir, Blanc, Gris) According to Kris, this fruit came from Tierra Alta on the top of Ballard Canyon above Stolpman Vineyards and the rootstock was sourced from an 83 year old vineyard in Mendocino. Kris stressed to us that the overwhelming positive reception from her Grenache Blanc indicated to her that wine drinkers are no longer content with ordering a house cabernet or chardonnay. She believes that wine drinkers have a more adventurous spirit when it comes to wine and her new label Santanyana is going to focus on Spanish varietals to continue to encourage the exploration of new wines. We here at WCWC Adventures couldn’t agree more with her assessment. Fun Fact: Santanyana is named for George Santanyana known for his famous quote: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it” A useful lesson to remember and an exciting future for Santa Barbara County wines.

WCWC Adventures would also like to congratulation Kris and Bruno for getting married in December. Just to let you know they will be having a Valentines lovers of the vine Winemaker Dinner Event on Feb 8th at Los Olivos Cafe. Wish them well if you get to attend.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Vinum Populi: Enomatic Wine Tasting is better than playing the slots

Awhile back I checked out Vinum Populi in LA and had a great time. If you haven't run into these Enomatic tasting machines yet, they are pretty fun. I first encountered them at Taste in San Luis Obispo. You lay down some cash for a card that you insert in the machine and pick the wine you like and the machine dispenses a 1-2 ounce pour. It's a great pre-dinner activity sure to spur on conversation with a group and way better than losing at slots. Vinum Populi also has a nice selection of food so if you have too much fun, stay and have some yummy small plates among friends.

My favorite part of the wine slot machine is discovering new wines in a pretty inexpensive way. That and not having that Vegas casino sound in my head for at least a day after I get out of town. I bring along a camera and take pics of anything I really enjoyed. Here are the wines I found that really interested me. I don't have tasting notes for you all since I was having too much fun to break out a pen. Here are the finds and the photos to help you track them down.

2004 Domaine de la Ferme Saint-Martin Beaumes de Venise Cuvee du Diaper from Cote du Rhone. It's a blend of 90% Grenache and 10 % Syrah

2005 La Mirande Chateauneuf du Pape Blend of 70% Grenache 15% Syrah 7% Mourvedre 5% Cinasault
If anyone can point me a place to pick these wine's up, I'd much appreciate it.

My favorite and recommended by the poor girl running around refilling the stations was the 2004 Cenit 100% Tempranillo. The winemaker's name is Amy Hopkinson so I had to love that since I hope to be a winemaker someday soon and my name is already Amy. I loved this wine so much I tracked some down after the visit. Its pretty pricey so a great alternative is the 2003 Cenit for a bargain price from Domaine 547. I do think the 2004 was a bit better but considering that its selling for about $50-$100 bucks a bottle, the 2003 packs so much of what is good about 2004 for the bargain price of $19.99.

Tasting notes for the 2003 Cenit Tempranillo from Domaine547

  • Color: Deep garnet
  • Nose: lots of vanilla so I'm guessing there was a lot of new oak used making this wine, black cherry and licorice
  • Taste: black cherries, anise, hint of rosemary and a bit of leather on the finish.
This wine is very enjoyable for the price. Tempranillo is my new Zinfandel. Good Zinfandels are usually fun and unpretentious. Good Tempranillo steps it up a bit by having better acidity. I've been loving Tempranillo since 2005 when I had Rick Longoria's first 2004 Tempranillo. Often you can find great bargains if you stray outside the safe/standard varietals( Cab, Merlot, Chard and now Pinot Noir thanks to Sideways)

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wine Blogging Wednesday: Friuli Whites

WCWC Adventures is bringing you not one but two different wines for Wine Blogging Wednesday. Thanks to Jack and Joanne at Fork & Bottle for making me stretch a bit into Whites of Friuli. I'm sure tons of my fellow bloggers will opine on the region of Friuli. I will just refer you to the Wine Book Club's selection of Vino Italiano for more information on the region.

Friuli #1 Italo Cescon from Grave Pinot Grigio 2006 DOC for about $15 dollars at the Wineyard. I know they said it would be tough to find a good wine for this price but I did enjoy this wine. Very pretty packaging. Features a wooden branch they call a Tralcetto around the neck. According to their site "The Tralcetto is the piece of vine located on the neck of Italo Cescon bottles. This vine signifies where the wine came from and the hard work that was involved in making the wine. "My translation is that the Tralcetto means "marketing stick" in Italian, but I fell for it anyway.

Tasting Notes: Pale yellow color. 12% alcohol. Nose of lemon, pears, and pomelo. Crisp acidity braced with lemons and grapefruit and a nice full mouth feel. This wine was much bigger and quite well balanced for the price.

Friuli #2 2004 Russiz Superiore Tocai Friulano that was $22 bucks at Izo Wine. This wine was from the much more renown Collio region of Friuli and had no discernible "marketing stick". This wine was much more full bodied and complex. The color was a rich golden yellow. The nose had strong notes of rosemary with a touch of thyme, some hints of bitter almonds, and lots of minerality. To be clear on the wine term, minerality, it literally smells like wet slightly salty rocks and shells. Also I detected notes of Meyer lemon, papaya and pomelo...A lempapmelo. There also was a bit more oak on the nose than I typically prefer. Upon tasting, lots of citrus fruit( pineapple, tart blood orange, lemon), herbal tones akin to rosemary,and a sleek mineral finish that lingers and lingers. This is a wine meant for food. I had it with some Cyprus Grove Truffle Tremor and it was a wonderful experience. With food, the finish that overstayed its welcome disappears, and the wine becomes more focused in flavor. That being said, while I liked this wine, parts of it reminded me of the sour lemon tart aspect I tend to dislike and encounter often with Roussanne. I would probably prefer a less sour lemony, more brightly acidic Tocai Friulano in the future. But of course in the future, it will just be known as Friulano.
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Monday, January 14, 2008

WTDOMN: Andrew Murray Tous les Jours

After a hard day Monday back at work and the harsh reality of the week looming ahead of you, you can treat yourself with an everyday inexpensive wine with dinner. This week, I'm recommending Andrew Murray's 2005 Tous les Jours Syrah. This wine can be found for $14-$18 bucks a bottle. I love that it has a screw cap closure so you can seal it up for another day. (Hint, screw caps on certain wines from one winemaker are often a sign that a wine should be consumed early.)

Tasting Notes:
Nose: smoky dark fruit and some mango notes as well. A finishing touch of graphite and shoe leather. Nice mouth feel with notes of blackberries and spice. A little hot at 15% alcohol but it calms down in the glass as it sits. This wine might benefit by being slightly chilled. ( Red's should be served at 65 degrees) Its standing up great to my takeout Pizza. Now, if I could only get ready for Tuesday.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dark Horse Wines in the Spotlight

Back in Nov 2007, I tasted the Dark Horse wines over at Wade's Wines, which means I tasted them before James Laube who posted today about the Dark Horse 2005 Dry Creek Zinfandel Treborce Vineyard. Now that I feel a bit special, I'd love to share with you my tasting notes for the wine I had to buy from Dark Horse.

2005 Dark Horse Zinfandel Russian River Valley ( $28)
Tasting Notes: Smooth velvety mouthfeel, jammy dark fruit with lovely spices coming into play on the nose and palate. I actually wrote down Zinalicious ( an ode to Fergalicious) so this wine must be good.

Here's a photo of the winemaker, or the cowboy himself, pouring his releases last November. Mike Loykasek got his start in Paso Robles, then moseyed on up to Sonoma County to Meeker Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley for seven years. Then on to Armida and finally after 13 years of winemaking in Dry Creek Valley he let his personal project out for public consumption. Read more about Dark Horse here. Wade's Wine's also sells these wines online. Here is a link to their tasting notes. Thanks to Jamie from Hollywood & Wine for pouring for us at such a busy event.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Adam Tolmach's Change of Heart at Ojai Vineyards

Adam Tolmach of Ojai Vineyards is in the LA Times today. It looks like Adam has gotten tired of serving the dark Sith lord Darth Parker and decided that his own Jedi palate should rule the day. That may be a geeky over simplification of the LA Times article but its simply astounding to hear a successful winemaker be honest about how he feels he may have compromised his own vision in order to attain certain scores from a certain someone. But then if you ask Adam himself, he says the LA times misquoted him and he has never made wines to please critics. Check the thread on Mark Squires Board at However, Adam states plainly that he plans on picking even earlier for next years harvest in order to make the wine he loves, even if it means these wines may not garner as much praise.

"The goal is to produce 14%-alcohol wines with nuance", Tolmach says. He wants to avoid overripe prune and jam flavors and preserve acidity to allow the more delicate floral and herbal qualities to emerge. "I want to take the Eurocentric sense of balance and apply it in California. We add no acid. No water. It's about picking at the right time and from cooler climate vineyards," he says." -Quote & photo from LA Times

"Tolmach thinks that other wine critics are beginning to get the attention of wine lovers. "-La Times. Is Tolmach perceiving a new trend in the wine industry? There has been plenty of talk about moving away from high alcohol wines all over the place. Even to the point of some wine shops deciding not to sell wines above a certain alcohol percentage. I think Adam Tolmach is right. Wine blogs like this are part of a wine blogging community that are already providing an alternative to the monopoly of a few palates. Perhaps the next generation won't be so beholden to one critic's scores and will instead have the confidence to disagree and rely on multiple sources for wine recommendations. I've met plenty of people who get turned off by wine after only drinking Parker recommended wines. This especially seems true with women who think they don't like red wine because of the hot fruit bombs they've encountered. I 've suggested what I consider more elegant, balanced wines and they are so happy to find that there are red wines out there for them. Considering women are making around 57% of wine purchases, there is additional support for more elegant wines in the marketplace. Keep in mind I don't mean making wines that are heavily marketed, generic chick lit girlie wine. I agree with Kris Curran who said "I find it demeaning, It's implying that women don't have as sophisticated a palate."- quote from International Herald Tribune Patricia Leigh Brown.
In the end I am not saying that Robert Parker is evil, even if the jokes are fun. He, like everyone else, has every right to his or her own palate preference. If you love only Parker wines, then he is the wine critic for you to follow. However, it is unfortunate consequence of Parker's success, that 28 brix(at harvest), watered back/micro oxed, high residual sugar, high alcohol wines are what it takes to get the 90 plus point scores and therefore to sell wine. Its time to bust up this Monopoly of taste. The consumer deserves to be able to choose a bottle of wine at dinner that does not overwhelm their food and is not so high in alcohol that its actually splittable on a date. High alcohol wine = TMI ( too much information) for a first date... Lets hope they start voting with their dollars. I applaud Adam and look forward to trying Adam's new wines in the coming years and hope you do too.

Check out some of the comments over at on this topic... Drama!

Monday, January 7, 2008

WTDOMN: Pacific Star 's Dad's Daily Red 2002

It's the new year and we are all a little lighter in the pockets and dragging ourselves back to the office. So for this week's "What to Drink on Monday Night", I'm recommending Pacific Star's Dad's Daily Red 2002. If you can scrape $12 bucks together you can have a great wine that's a blend of predominately Carignane,with Petit Sirah, Merlot, Grenache, Charbono, and Zinfandel all from Mendocino County. I can probably guarantee that most people haven't tasted at least one of these varietals and you can have them all in a wine for under $20. In fact with a case discount...

Dad's Daily Red is a blend made by Sally Ottoson in honor of her father's prescription of one glass of red a day to aid his digestion ( that's her Dad on the label). It has nice supple tannins to support the enjoyable dark fruit and spice inside. I'd pair it with casual Italian foods, like Pizza or spaghetti & meatballs. See, Monday's not so bad. Buy direct from the winery here

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Are you down with the WBC? Wine Bloggers Unite to Bring you ..

The Wine Book Club 1st Edition. Inspired by Lenndevours' Wine Blogging Wednesday, wine bloggers and hopefully you the reader will read a chosen wine text every other month. Dr Debs is the mind behind this initiative and has set up space at Shelfari and Facebook. As with WBW, you can post your thoughts on the chosen book on your blog. No blog, well then add to the discussion at Shelfari or get involved in the discussion at your fav wine blog in the comments section.

Every other month you ask? well, its baby steps in the new year, and if there's a push for more frequency, Dr Debs at Good wine under $20, has promised to shift to a monthly format in 2009.

Now without further delay, McDuff's Food & Wine Trail is the host for the First Edition of the WBC. Hailing myself from the Philadelphia area, still mourning the Eagles season, and anytime I hear this little snippet, I'm transported back to my childhood, apparently I watched a lot of Action News.. anyway I consider it fortuitous to have someone from Philly bringing us our first edition.

Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy By Joseph Bastianich, David Lynch

The book reviews are due Tuesday, Feb 26th 2008. McDuff's Food and Wine Trail will be posting reminders and key questions for everyone to focus on. Happy Reading.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

California Chardonnay Done Right : Lioco

If you think California can only produce Chardonnay's without real varietal character, think again. The 2006 Lioco Stuhlmuller Vineyard is not your buttery over-oaked chard of California's past, it is more reminiscent of a fine French Chablis. Its graceful style combined with judicious acidity makes this wine meant for food. I found this wine in my local wine shop for $25 and its a bargain. This wine is a revelation and I cannot wait to pick up more of it. I believe Lioco is proving that California wines can in fact demonstrate a sense of place.

This wine is sourced from a designated block of old vines on flank of russian river. On the foggy bank just north of the chalk hill gap lies the Stuhlmuller vineyard. It sits at confluence of Alexander Valley, Chalk Hill, and Russian River Valley appellations. Sometimes terrior can come off as just great marketing or wine snob wonkery, in this case there is a real sense of place with this wine. It's truly unique and worth your investment.

2006 Lioco Chardonnay
Stuhlmuller Vineyard
AVA : Alexander Valley

Tasting Notes:

  • Nose: I detected notes of lemon, ginger, crushed seashells, and chalk. As it warmed in the glass, more complex floral tones also became apparent.(Jasmine tea and honeysuckle). This wine continued to reveal itself as it sat. To me this is one of the hallmarks of a great wine
  • Tasting: Rounded on the palate while possessing a crisp, lively acidity. Tastes of lemons, pears, candied ginger with a lovely crisp mineral finish reminiscent of calcareous rock and seashells.
Lioco Wines are the brainchild of Matt Licklider (a seasoned wine import specialist), and Kevin O'Connor (wine director at the esteemed Spago-Beverly Hills). LI-cklider + OCO-nnor = LIOCO, in case you were wondering. The 2006 vintage is the first with their winemaker, Kevin Kelly and according to Matt and Kevin O, it' s the vintage year they will put their belief to the test, " that California can produce wines with a sense of place" Try it for yourself, and see what you think.

If you want to learn more about Lioco, start with their Brand Overview here. It's amazingly well focused. These guys have a clear vision about what want to do with wine and I think they'll be one to watch in 2008 and beyond.

Wine Making Style Choices
old-vine Wente clones
hand picked and sorted on 9/21/06
whole cluster pressed
cold fermented in stainless steel tanks using a wild yeast
malolactic fermentation began naturally
3-month fine lees contact. bottled without fining or filtration
Wine Stats: I really wish all winemakers would put these on their labels. This way the consumer could learn more quickly whether they prefer their wines dry or have been drinking much more residual sugar than they thought..
ph 3.41 TA .76g/l Residual Sugar .07g/l Brix 25.4

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