Archive for the ‘Wine Events’ Category

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

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.

Find wine and wine-related products on Amazon.

Barrel Tasting in the Santa Clara Valley

February 15, 2013

Last Saturday, the Wineries of the Santa Clara Valley put on their first ever Barrel Tasting Day event. For $12.50, ticket holders were given the opportunity to get a sneak preview of some soon-to-be-bottled wines from “The Valley of the Heart’s Delight”.

So…

Considering that all these wineries are a quick drive from our house, Kara and I scraped up some change and bought us some tickets.

Here’s where we went…

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Guglielemo Winery

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Up Next…

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Clos La Chance Winery

Sycamore Creek Vineyards and Winery

Sycamore Creek Vineyards and Winery

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A guided tour with Jason Goelz (center) of Jason-Stephens Winery

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Trying some Charbono at Fortino Winery

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Thomas Kruse Winery

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Satori Cellars

Not a bad day, if you ask me…

The wine was good too.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

Have you ever been barrel tasting? What’s your favorite barrel tasting experience? Leave a comment and let us know.

Find wine and wine-related products on Amazon.


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