Archive for March, 2013

Works of l’Art

March 31, 2013

Here’s the thing about wine…

From the outside, looking in, it can seem quite intimidating.

People making reference to grapes you’ve never heard of… using a bunch of French and Italian words in a show-offy type of fashion… talking about years that appear to be randomly produced…

I get it.

But…

When you take the time to show interest in wine, people love to share.

They love to share their knowledge.

They love to share their experience.

They love to share their wine.

Today, we visited some family for Easter at my Uncle Art and Auntie Ann’s house.

Uncle Art (l’Art for short), an avid oenophile since the 1970’s, is about to turn 70.  Since a bunch of family was in town, we decided to celebrate his birthday as well.

A few months back, l’Art mentioned to me that he had an old bottle of Ridge that he wanted to share with me the next time we got together.  As you’d imagine, I was pretty stoked when he broke this puppy out…

Normally I don’t show you pictures of the back label, but you gotta check this out…

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Bottled 30 years ago, Paul Draper recommended this wine be laid down for 5 years.

And normally I don’t show you what the cork looks like in the bottle, but…

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Look at the fully-saturated bad boy!

A cork like this definitely requires an Ah So, but left mine at home.

Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!

So…

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I got into surgery mode. Only a few small chunks of cork fell into the bottle.

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The cork chunks, along with some dope sediment, are why this wine must be gently decanted.

Now…

This wine has been slowly oxidizing over the last 30 years, so there’s no need to let this puppy aerate.

Let’s take a look, and dive on in!

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Here’s what it looked like in the glass.

Color: As older wines go, it has still retained a lot of its red color, though it does get brownish orange near the edges.

Nose: Beautiful notes of menthol and tobacco leaf with one of those dried out oranges decorated with cloves.

Taste: On the palate, this wine is straight herbaceous.  Forest floor and tobacco leaf for days.  There’s a nice note of dried cranberries that gives an impression of sweetness to this dry wine.

Score: What is most impressive about this Petite Sirah is that 32 years later, the grapes are still bringing these massive tannins.  My feeling is that the wine has the structure to go another 10 years.  This wine is massive, yet subtle in its complexity.  Does anybody else have one of these bottles they’d like to share with me?  94, fa sho!

Almost as impressive as this wine, was that l’Art followed it up by grabbing another bad boy from his cellar…

Color: Light rusty burgundy red.

Nose: Bacon and mushrooms up front, followed by a juicy strawberry component.

Taste: Ripe strawberry on the front palate gives way to leather and mushrooms.  There’s a nice touch of black pepper that is sprinkled throughout.

Score: We were all impressed by the longevity of this wine.  There’s a great acidity to this wine that, along with the balanced backbone of 14.5% alcohol, that kept this wine quite fresh some 15 years after bottling.  93, y’all!

I can’t believe how great these wines were.

They were definitely works of l’Art!

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What’s the oldest wine you’ve got in your collection?  What’s the best wine somebody else has ever shared with you?  Leave a comment and let us know.

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Stay Rad Wine Blog TV Episode 90: It’s Wednesday. Chardonnay.

March 27, 2013

In this episode, Jeff pairs a value Chardonnay with some leftover pasta.

Wine Tasted:

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What wine is in your glass this #WineWednesday?  Leave a comment, and tell us about it.

Find wine and wine-related products on Amazon.

Organized Chaos: A wonderfully mad tasting at Rhone Rangers San Francisco

March 25, 2013

More and more, I find myself gravitating toward Rhone wines (made of grapes typically grown in the Rhone Valley of France). California gets a lot of love for it’s Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) and Burgundy (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) grapes, but it’s the Rhones (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Petite Sirah) that I really think are bringing it these days.

Power.

Balance.

Structure.

Elegance.

Value.

I’m loving me some Rhones!

This past Saturday, Kara and I took a quick trip to the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco to attend the Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting as members of the media. Needless to say, we were hella stoked.

You may recall from my ZinFest post, that when you come to these events, you’ve got to have a plan.  We thought about going alphabetical.  We thought about just focusing on Petite Sirah.  We thought about doing a Syrah vs. Grenache showdown.

But…

After entering the  Festival Pavilion, and seeing all the wonderful wines to taste, we decided to bounce around to as many tables as possible…

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Inside the Pavilion

I know that this may seem like a chaotic approach to wine, but the goal is to get a good overall picture of what these Rhone varietals (Take that 1 Wine Dude.  You just got Frogged.) have to offer.

So…

Let’s grab our glasses and go.

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Take your pick.

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Zenaida Cellars 2010 Syrah from Paso Robles brings some bright red fruit, leather, and herbs.

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I love me some Wrath! The 2010 San Saba Vineyard Syrah brings some of that big tobacco that I love. Let me say love a few more times. Love. Wrath.

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VINTUS Wines brought a bunch of French Rhones from E. Guigal to compare against the American wines. I’ve gotta say that they were all killer. The 2009 Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde was clean and elegant. It had nice cherry and tobacco notes.

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I was lovin’ all of the wines from Villa Creek Cellars. I really liked the 2010 La Boda, a 50/50 blend of Syrah and Mourvedre with delicious dark plum notes, spice, and rubber. Mad tasty.

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Terre Rouge brought plenty of delicious single-vineyard Syrahs from Amador County. The 2008 DTR Ranch Syrah was big and lovely. By the way, their white Rhones are killer too.

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When I think of American Rhones, I think of Tablas Creek Vineyard. The 2010 Espirit de Beaucastel, with its reserved, yet powerful, cherry fruit and tobacco flavors was fantastic, as always.

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Skylark Wine Company is an urban winery in San Francisco that does some great single-vineyard Syrahs. You know I love Stagecoach Vineyard fruit, so I jumped at the 2009 Stagecoach Vineyard Syrah. 32 months on oak gave the wine a nice, vanilla flavor matched up nicely with the tobacco notes on this Syrah.

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Rosenblum Cellars showed up to the party with the 2008 England-Shaw Syrah. The wine was super clean with bright plum fruit.

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Yeah… I write about Ridge Vineyards a lot. That’s because they f-ing rule. Take the 2008 Lytton Estate Syrah… Actually… Give it back. Those blueberry and blackberry fruit notes are just great.

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Eric Kent Wine Cellars offered up two vintages of Kalen’s Big Boy Blend Syrah. The 2010 vintage was loaded with red fruit, tobacco, and jerky. The 2011 barrel sample had a gamey flavor with touches of blueberries. Just thinking about this wine makes me want to give them a visit real soon.

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Not only was the Folin Cellars bringing some tasty 2009 Estate Syrah from Oregon, but look at their glass closures! This wine has some super legit red fruit.

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I was a big fan of the Hug Cellars 2008 El Grande Syrah. It’s a bit of a fruit bomb, but so tasty.

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JC Cellars was my favorite winery at ZinFest, so I had to see what was up with their Rhones. The 2010 Rockpile Vineyard Syrah was loaded with big, bright, red fruit, tires, and chalk. You know I love chalk.

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This is the 2009 Peasant (MGS Blend) from Cypher Winery. It’s a big, ripe, dark, fruit bomb. Not bad.

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The 2010 Stepping Stone Syrah by Cornerstone Cellars has some good cranberry fruit.

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Here’s a couple of big, inky Petite Sirahs from Clayhouse Wines of Paso Robles. Both were quite tannic and concentrated.

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This is the 2008 Cigare Volant from Bonny Doon Vineyard. You know I love Bonny Doon. This Rhone Blend has the perfect balance of fruit, tobacco, herbs, and acid. I love this wine.

After tasting through 50+ wines from 17 wineries, our palates were getting a bit burned out, so I put the notebook away, and we strolled around the Pavilion and tried whatever wines looked appealing.

What follows are my pictures from what Martin Redmond of Enofylz Wine Blog would call the “freestyle portion of the program.”

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Prospect 772 Wine Company 2010 “The Instigator” Syrah

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Landmark Vineyards 2011 Steel Plow MGS

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Chateau Ste. Michelle 2010 Wahluke Slope Grenache

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Miraflores Winery 2009 Estate Syrah

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Two Shepherds 2011 Saralee’s Vineyard Syrah and 2011 Saralee’s Vineyard Grenache

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Martian Ranch 2011 “Red Shift” Syrah

Yup…

I dig Rhones.

How ’bout you?

Stay Rad,

Jeff

We Interrupt Stay Rad to Hype Up the Wine Blog Awards

March 25, 2013

It’s award season.

Namely, it’s Wine Blog Award season.

Specifically, the nominations window for the 7th Annual Wine Blog Awards has just opened up.

When I first started this blog in 2011, I found myself inspired by several of the nominees, finalists, and winners listed on WineBlogAwards.org.

I was overwhelmed by the number of folks who took the time to nominate this blog for those same awards in 2012.

Well…

Here we are in 2013, and it’s time to nominate again.

So…

If you like this...

If you like this…

Or this...

Or this…

Or this...

Or this…

Or this...

Or this…

Please consider checking out the list of nominees for the Wine Blog Awards.  There are some amazing blogs there.

If you feel compelled to nominate this blog for Best Original Video on a Wine Blog, Best Wine Reviews on a Wine Blog, Best Writing on a Wine Blog, or Best Overall Wine Blog, please click this link to make your nominations.

If you’re hardcore, check out the Stay Rad Archives, and nominate your favorite post for Best Blog Post of the Year.

Happy Blog-Surfing!

Stay Rad,

Jeff

PS – The nominations window closes on March 31st.  What are you waiting for?  Go nominate!

Stay Rad Wine Blog TV Episode 89: Let me be Franc

March 21, 2013

In this episode, Jeff tastes a Colorado wine sent to him from Jeff Eckles of TheLonelyVine.com

Wine Tasted:

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And here’s the bottle top.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

Ever had a wine from Colorado?  What’s your favorite?  Leave a comment, and let us know.

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Stay Rad Wine Blog TV Episode 88: Talkin’ ’bout Chard’

March 20, 2013

In this episode, Jeff tries a not-so-typical Napa Chardonnay…

Wine Tasted:

Stay Rad,

Jeff

How often do you drink Chardonnay?  How much do you usually pay for it?  Leave a comment, and let us know.

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Chowder

March 14, 2013

Sometimes, you just want some clam chowder…

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Chowder

I’ve been eying these samples from Smith-Madrone, and decided to try one with the soup.

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Smith-Madrone 2011 Riesling

Founded in 1971, Smith-Madrone only makes wine from their Spring Mountain District estate vineyards.  The 2011 Riesling rolls in at 12.6% alcohol, and has just a touch of residual sugar (0.70%).  The wine costs $27.

Color: Pale yellow with a golden tint to it.

Nose: There are massive amounts of green apples on this nose.  There’s a good balance of lemon and minerals with a hint of peach skin.

Taste: In spite of the touch of residual sugar, this wine is quite dry.  This wine has big acidity on the palate.  Green apples are the core of this wine.  Flavors of lychee, apple skin, lemon, lime, petrol, and rubber balls play very well together.

Score: This is a pretty tasty wine.  I’m giving it an 89.

Let’s try it with the soup…

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Clam Chowder with Crusty Bread and Sriracha

Originally, I was thinking about drinking a Chardonnay with the clam chowder.  I figured the creaminess of the soup would work well with the creaminess of the Chardonnay.  Now here’s the crazy thing… When I tried the soup with the wine, the acid of the Riesling played well with the fat in the chowder.  What I’m left with is a really nice flavor of creamy lemon custard.  Essentially, the chowder made the Riesling taste like a Chardonnay!

Riesling and clam chowder… What a great pair!

Stay Rad,

Jeff

It’s Saturday. Why not celebrate?

March 12, 2013

Saturday night, Kara and I just had a hankering for sushi.  We’ve been fans of CreAsian in Morgan Hill for a while, but recently learned that their corkage fee for wine is only 8 bucks.

I’ve been meaning to do a sparkling wine and sushi pairing for a while, so we picked this up at Trader Joe’s just before we hit up the restaurant…

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Domaine Chandon NV Brut Classic

It’s funny… you know…

Domaine Chandon makes a solid California sparkling wine at $15.  Great lemon and mineral characteristics.  Festive and lively color and effervescence.

But…

At the end of the day, it’s just a $15 wine.

And yet…

When you walk into a restaurant with a bottle of sparkling wine, heads turn.

The family sitting next to us mentioned that we must be important people if we were rolling into the place with “Champagne”.

Our waitress asked us if we were celebrating anything special.

I told her that of course we were… “It’s Saturday!”

Here’s what we ate…

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Seaweed Salad

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Sashimi Tacos… A must!

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From Kara to Jeff… Lemon Drop, Fuji Mountain, and Godzilla Rolls.

The truth is, as food-friendly as sparkling wine is… as good a job as these wines do with elevating the already sky-high flavors of sushi… and with as many good-quality California sparklers as there are in the 10 to 20 dollar range…

Why wouldn’t you drink sparkling wine more often?

Let’s all celebrate Saturdays more often.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What’s your favorite sparkling wine and food pairing?  What’s your favorite sparkling wine in the 10 to 20 dollar range?  Leave a comment, and tell us about it.

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Prospecting and Mining for Gold: The Component Tasting at Ridge Vineyards

March 9, 2013

You know I love me some Ridge Vineyards.

In 2011, Kara and I became members of their Monte Bello Collector program.

Along with being able to purchase their epic Monte Bello Bordeaux blend at a deep discount, as members, Kara and I get to go to some pretty awesome events.  Saturday, we went to the First Assemblage and Component Tasting at their Monte Bello estate in Cupertino.  It’s a chance for prospective Monte Bello buyers to taste the individual varietal components of the blend, as well as a sneak peek at the 2012 vintage before it gets bottled up.

Here’s how it all went down…

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At check in, we were treated to a glass of the 2011 Estate Chardonnay. It’s loaded with lemon and minerals, all wrapped up in a cloud of creamy goodness.

Onto the components of the Ridge 2012 Monte Bello…

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This is the 2012 Petit Verdot. It’s got coffee and cocoa on the nose. The mouthfeel is mad grippy. Some initial green flavors transition to fruit of cranberry and orange zest.

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Here’s the 2012 Merlot. Super mocha and espresso on the nose. Big fruits of cherry and cranberry, with just a touch of grapefruit. Wow.

While sipping on this killer Merlot, we took some time to check out the food…

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Charcuterie from Fatted Calf, Bread from Gayle’s Bakery, and Cheese Selections by Kirstin Jackson (Author of It’s Not You, It’s Brie)

More components…

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The 2012 Cabernet Franc had a super espresso and toffee nose. The wine was bright and fun, with a whole lot of raspberry and cranberry fruit.

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On the nose, the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon gave notes of chocolate candy oranges. The palate was super bright with orange and raspberry fruit. Hella tasty!

After tasting the components, I was excited to be among the first civilians to taste the primary assemblage of the 2012 Monte Bello.

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Here it is. This is the Ridge 2012 Monte Bello, poured by one Paul Draper. I asked Paul if he was excited about this vintage. He said he was very happy with the big fruit notes on this wine. According to Paul, this wine will rival the 1997 and 2001 vintages of Monte Bello (That is a REALLY good thing). The wine is composed of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Petit Verdot. Of course, this young Monte Bello has espresso on the nose from the toast of the American Oak. There is some massive bright red fruit on this wine, evened out with notes of tobacco and menthol. This wine is great.

The Component Tasting is also the first chance for the public to taste the 2010 Monte Bello.  If you bought futures for this wine in 2011 (like we did), this is also an opportunity to pick up your wine.

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The 2010 Monte Bello has aromas of blackberry and plum. The wine has a great acidity, tasty cranberry fruit, and herbaceous tobacco notes. Mad sophisticated.

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Kara and I took our time enjoying this one.

Back in the tasting room, Ridge had more treats for us…

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The 2010 Estate Merlot shows aromas of bright red fruit and baking spices. The palate has bright cranberry and raspberry fruit with some nice herbs.

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Here’s the 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Big. Bright. Great mouthfeel. Pound for pound, this is one of the best Cabs around.

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The 2007 Monte Bello has menthol and tobacco herbs, along with tomato and cranberry fruit. Very good.

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The 2008 Jimsomare Zinfandel is a rare treat. Bright and concentrated fruits of cranberry, blackberry, and raspberry, with an earthy balance. Good stuff.

What a great event.

I even brought some gold back from the mountain…

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This magnum of Ridge 2010 Monte Bello fits perfectly in my wine fridge. Check back in 2035, and I’ll tell you how it turns out.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What’s your favorite wine event?  Have you ever purchased wine on futures?  Leave a comment, and tell us what you think.

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Stay Rad Wine Blog TV Episode 87: Petite Shiraz?

March 6, 2013

In this episode, Jeff tries a Shiraz and a Petite Sirah from a well-known Zinfandel producer…

Wine Tasted:

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Ravenswood 2010 Vintners Blend Shiraz and Ravenswood 2010 Vintners Blend Petite Sirah

Stay Rad,

Jeff


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