Posts Tagged ‘clos la chance’

Stay Rad Wine Blog TV Episode 162: Wine Tasing at the Dionysus Dash

May 3, 2015

In this episode, Jeff explores the effects of running on how we taste wine…

Wine Tasted:

Clos la Chance 2014 Reserve Chardonnay Pure

Clos la Chance 2014 Reserve Viognier

Clos la Chance 2012 Reserve Merlot

Clos la Chance 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

And here are some pictures from the race…

Jeff and Kara Before

The View from the Starting Line

The Prize Table

Your 3rd and 1st Place Divisional Champs

Stay Rad,


Alright athletes, tell us what your favorite wine and sports pairing is.  Leave a comment, and let us know.


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”.


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…


Guglielemo Winery


Up Next…


Clos La Chance Winery

Sycamore Creek Vineyards and Winery

Sycamore Creek Vineyards and Winery


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


Trying some Charbono at Fortino Winery


Thomas Kruse Winery


Satori Cellars

Not a bad day, if you ask me…

The wine was good too.

Stay Rad,


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.

Cabernet Sauvignon’s Got Class

May 23, 2012

In April, Clos La Chance Winery in San Martin named Chardonnay their Wine of The Month.

Some of you may recall that I reviewed some of their wines after visiting the winery.

When I shared my post with CLC on Facebook, it entered me into a contest to win a bottle of their 2008 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay.


Guess who won?


A cold bucket of Chardonnay on a hot day. You can’t beat that with a bat, foo.


This past Sunday, we took a trip over to the winery to enjoy this beautiful bottle of Chardonnay on their patio.

While we were there, we also hit up another class with Estate Sommelier, Roy Froom, to learn about May’s Wine of the Month…


Yeah… Cabernet Sauvignon’s got class. It’s taught by Roy Froom.

During the second half of the class, we got to enjoy two fantastic wines by Clos La Chance…


Clos La Chance 2009 Whitestone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and Clos La Chance 2009 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

We started with the Estate Cab.


Here are some facts about the wine.

And my take…

Color: Purplish red.

Nose: Blueberry and plum fruit with a hint of oak and chalk dust (You know I love chalk!).

Taste: Fruits of blackberry, dry cherries, and red currant.  There is a great acidity to this one, but the tannins are a bit too astringent for me.

Score: In spite of the off tannins, if given time, I see this wine hitting it’s groove very soon.  91+

Up next…


Clos La Chance 2009 Whitestone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Color: On the red side of purple.

Nose: Blueberry, lavender, and rubber balls.  Yummy!

Taste: There is a great chalkiness (Yes!) and acid play to this wine.  I love the herbacious finish of rosemary and menthol.  Good cherry fruit and tea leaf.

Score: If you love blueberry, chalk, and tea leaf notes to your wine… You will love this… As do I.  93.


You have to know that I would totally go back to school if all the classes I took were like this one.

Thanks for the wine and the class, Clos La Chance.

Now, can someone call me a Cab?

Cabernet Sauvignon, that is…

Stay Rad,


The rain and the sun, and a whole lotta fun!

April 15, 2012

Since Kara and I had this last week off, we decided to do a little wine tasting.

On Friday we headed over to Clos La Chance in San Martin.

Some of you may know that this is the winery where Kara and I got married.

Here’s some proof…

The Happy Couple

See… I told you so.

As it turned out, Friday wasn’t the most beautiful day (weather-wise) to go tasting.

It was a bit wet…

Actually, even when it's soaking outside, this is one of the most beautiful wineries in the area.

Inside, there was a perfect wine on the menu to compliment the weather…

Clos La Chance 2009 Reserve Petit Verdot

Color: Dark purplish red.

Nose: Big dark mocha notes, with a hint of green bell pepper.

Taste: True to the varietal, this Petit Verdot has a fantastic grip on the palate.  Tons of dancing black pepper spice along with powdery tannins.  Great mocha, plum, and green bell pepper flavors.

Score: I have to admit that I am not a big fan of cigars, BUT this is a great cigar wine.  Perfect for a lounge chair, under a covered patio, on a rainy day.  Give it a 90-.

This Sunday morning (two days later), Kara and I headed back up to the Clos La Chance estate to take advantage of the more Spring-like weather…


Spring has sprung!

This time, it was perfect weather to take a Chardonnay class…


Pulling up a chair in the Grand Salon.

As part of Clos La Chance’s Chardonnay month, Estate Sommelier Roy Froom lead a 20 minute presentation on the golden grape.

Here’s the two Chardonnays we got to taste…


Clos La Chance 2008 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay and the Clos La Chance 2009 Liebeler Vineyard Chardonnay

Clos La Chance 2008 Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnay:

Sourced from 6 different vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains, this Chardonnay is steel fermented and barrel aged.  The SCM Chardonnay is the flagship wine of Clos La Chance.  It goes through full malolactic fermentation.

Color: Typically golden-yellow in color.

Nose: Green apple.  Pear.  Lemon zest.  Vanilla.  Nice.

Taste: Good, vibrant, lemon acidity.  There is a nice integration of oak that gives this Chardonnay a neat little brown sugar flavor.  This wine has a light to medium viscosity and a good, creamy finish.

Score: A solid effort.  Give it an 88+.

Clos La Chance 2009 Liebeler Vineyard Chardonnay:

The Liebeler Vineyard is one of the six vineyards providing fruit for the SCM Chardonnay.  This vineyard is pretty high up in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  This cool-climate Chardonnay is oak fermented and aged.  It goes through partial malolactic fermentation, and is aged on its lees.

Color: Same as the SCM.

Nose: This brings a big oaky aroma up front.

Taste: Big oak and spice on the palate give way to a very crisp, acidic finish of green apples.  Good, medium viscosity.

Score: The Liebeler just barely edges out the Santa Cruz Mountains for me at an 89, though I would say the SCM is more of a crowd-pleaser in flavor and price.

Thanks for the memories, Clos La Chance.  We’ll probablly come back tomorrow…

Stay Rad,


I’ve got my Passport. How ’bout you?

March 25, 2012

Kara and I have lived in Morgan Hill for almost three years now.  It’s a neat little city of thirty thousand folks that borders San Jose to the South along Highway 101.  Having lived among the million or so people in San Jose for the better part of my adult life, at first it was a strange transition to the small town feel of Morgan Hill.

At times, I miss that big city life.

This is not one of those times.

This, my friends, is Santa Clara Valley Passport Weekend.

Two weekends (the last of March and the first of October) every year, 24 Wineries of the Santa Clara Valley open their cellar doors and some of their barrels to the public.  For thirty bucks, you get a glass and a passport that allows you to taste wine from each of the participants.  One passport is good for both the Fall and Spring weekends.

The Southern Santa Clara Valley (where most of these wineries are found) is a relatively warm climate compared to the rest of the Bay Area.  As hot as it can get during the day, nighttime gets pretty cold in a hurry.  In general, this is a place where Rhone varietals (like Syrah and Grenache) can flourish, but you will find pockets where Bordeaux and Burgundy grapes show very nicely.

As with any wine region, there are a few turds sprinkled in with some gems.

On Saturday, we hit up our fair share of each category.

Without further ado… the bad, the great, and the fantastic!

Morgan Hill Cellars:

We got started tasting a bit early on Saturday.  Though most tasting rooms opened at 10:00 am, many of the wineries weren’t going to bring out their passport specials until 11:00.  Since we had some time to kill, I figured we’d head over to Morgan Hill Cellars.

Unless you like fruit wine (their specialty), you should not go there.


Morgan Hill Cellars 2007 Sauvignon Blanc

Sure, the Sauvignon Blanc was okay…


La Fenice 1997 Sangiovese

And their 1997 Sangiovese is both old and nasty…

But I am never a fan of wineries that don’t use oak on anything, and tell you it’s so they can have more control over the flavor of the wine.  That is a line of B.S.  The reality is that steel is cheaper than oak.  If they cared about making a quality product, they would never say no to oak across the board.  Never.

I really wish they put more effort into making good red wines, instead of mixing in blackberries or cherries with their Bordeaux grapes.

Guglielmo Winery:

Now, this is my jam!


The Barn at Guglielmo

By the time we arrived at Guglielmo (Gool-yell-mo) Winery, the passport festivities were in full effect.  These guys have been making wine in Morgan Hill since 1925… and it’s good.


A little Sangiovese

Along with some good wines, they gave each passport holder a bomb ass tri tip sandwich.  Lucky for me, Kara doesn’t eat red meat… I got two.

The highlight of Guglielmo was tasting two vintages of their Syrah…


Guglielmo 2008 Private Reserve Syrah from the bottle.


Guglielmo 2009 Private Reserve Syrah from the barrel.

Mann Cellars:

While driving through downtown Morgan Hill, we stopped by Rosy’s at the Beach where Mike Mann was pouring his wine.


The lineup

Although Mann Cellars does not have a tasting room, you will find their wine at most wine events in Santa Clara County.  You can also buy their stuff at their website.

The entire lineup of wine was very nice, and relatively inexpensive ($10-$20).  The highlights for me were the 2006 Merlot and the 2007 Malbec.  All wines are estate grown and worth a try.  Hit them up.

Clos La Chance:

Heading South off of Watsonville Road in San Martin is the beautiful Clos La Chance Winery.

Here’s a fun fact:  Kara and I got married at Clos La Chance in 2010.

The wine was beautiful too…


Clockwise from the top: My glass with a little bit of Clos La Chance 2008 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay, My passport, My pen, and the Clos La Chance tasting list.

I was really happy with their 2008 Estate Grenache, but the highlight for me was their Mountain High, Mountain Low 2009 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir.  As part of their cellar sale, this Pinot Noir is selling for $6 a bottle.  The wine is available online right now!  You know what to do.

Sycamore Creek Vineyards and Winery:

Sycamore Creek is at the beginning of Uvas Road just off of Watsonville Road in Morgan Hill.  I’ve got to say that the first time I ever visited them (about 4 years ago), I was not that impressed.  Now, however, I’ve got to say the winery is really putting out some quality Bordeaux varietals (including a great Petit Verdot).  I was hella stoked on their 2008 Mosaico (Bordeaux style red blend).


Sycamore Creek 2008 Mosaico Red Wine

Stoked to the hella!

Aver Family Vineyards:

I bit further South off of Watsonville Road is Aver Family Vineyards.  You know how I feel about this place (click here to be reminded).

This winery is everything that is right about the Santa Clara Valley.  Big, bright, and balanced estate fruit.  Though they do make some fantastic Cabernet Sauvignons, the focus of this family run vineyard is making amazing Rhones… like this one…


Aver Family (I forgot to check the vintage) Family Album Red Wine - Rhone Style Blend

Jason-Stephens Winery:

Just accross the street from Aver is Jason-Stephens Winery.  Kara and I are huge fans of this Gilroy spot that specializes in Bordeaux grapes.


A big ol' block of Cabernet Sauvignon outside of Jason-Stephens Winery.

They do also make a very legit Syrah…


Jason-Stephens 2007 Estate Syrah

And it looks like Kara and I aren’t alone in our fandom…


Folks getting stoked to the hella.

Sarah’s Vineyard:

Near the corner of Watsonville Road and Hecker Pass in Gilroy is Sarah’s Vineyard.  This is another place that you know I’ve been stoked on for a while (check it out).

I’m way into their reserved style of winemaking.  Nothing is over the top.  They just let the grapes speak for themselves.  This Grenache is a great example of that…


Sarah's Vineyard 2009 Grenache

Fortino Winery:

We finished up at Sarah’s Vineyard at 4:45 pm.  Since the passport events end at 5:00, we decided to swing by one last winery before dinner.

Fortunately, Fortino is right next door…


Fortino 2010 Black Muscat Blush

Unfortunately, they make horrible wine.  If you’d have read this post from a while back, you’d have already known this.

Fortunately, they did give us some pasta to make up for their crappy wine…


The payoff.

After a long day of tasting, spitting, and dumping… I needed a drink.

I needed something to take my mind off of how bad Fortino was, so we headed back to Huntington Station in Morgan Hill for dinner.


Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in a San Jose Sharks glass.


Boxcar Burger and Fries


I almost forgot how much I hated Fortino.

All in all, I was very happy with this round of the passport weekend.  I’m looking forward to trying more places come the fall.

I’ve got my passport.

How about you?

Stay Rad,


Eggs in Tube Socks, and Beat Downs: The Perfect Halloween Pairing

October 30, 2011

Easily, Halloween has always been my favorite holiday.

I think that part of it is because it’s so close to my birthday.  Imagine, as a kid, how awesome your birthday was… feeling like you’re the most important person on the planet… knowing that you could do or eat whatever you wanted… It was your day.

Some of my favorite memories, growing up, were centered around my birthday.  Having it so close to Halloween, many of these memories involved the sights and sounds of the season…

The heat of the Summer giving way to the cool winds of Fall…

The turning of the leaves from green, to yellow, to orange, to red, to brown…

The decorations…

Indian corn, gourds, and pumpkins…

Front lawns converted into grave yards…

Garages becoming haunted mazes…

It all meant the same thing to me…

My birthday was coming up!

That… and so was Halloween… my favorite holiday.

Remember how awesome Halloween was when you were in elementary school?  Everyone showed up dressed in their costumes… Everyone.  The more unique… the more strange… the better.  The first ten minutes of class were spent walking around and figuring out what everyone was dressed up as.

The teacher would give you activities that vaguely resembled lessons…

She would read you a “scary” story…

You would count how much candy corn was in a jar for math…

As an art project, you would wrap a white napkin over a Tootsie Roll Pop and draw a face on it to make a ghost…

On the real… the “lessons” were just a way to kill time before the big Halloween parade.  You remember the parade… It would start when one class would begin to walk through another… That class would follow the original class, and they would walk through the next class… The next thing you knew, every class was now parading as a giant snake throughout the entire school.  As a result, you got a chance to see EVERYBODY’S costumes.

Upon the parade’s conclusion, everyone would go back to their classrooms and have a Halloween party…




A movie…

And hella more candy!

Once school was over, there was just one more thing on your mind…


How magical is the idea of trick-or-treating?  It’s amazing, right?  You, and a group of friends, walk up to a stranger’s door and ring the bell.  When they answer, you shout at them, “Tick or treat!”  And they give you candy.  It’s pretty awesome.

Now, trick-or-treating definitely changes as you get older…

When you’re in elementary school, your folks will take you out for about a half hour.  As soon as your little plastic pumpkin-shaped bucket is full, you’re done.  Your parents will take you home, inspect your candy, and eventually let you eat your earnings…

As you get to the latter years of elementary school, and the early years of junior high, trick-or-treating begins to change…  Your folks begin to put a little more trust in you…  You head out with a big group of friends.  You’ve graduated from pumpkin buckets to pillow cases.  You’re not just gonna go out for 30 minutes… You’ve got hours!  The goal is now simple…  Collect as much candy as you can.

If you think about it, trick-or-treating is a lesson in capitalism.  Candy is the currency, those houses are your customers, and your costume is your sales pitch.  At the end of the night, it’s those that put in the hard work… it’s those that pound the pavement… it’s those that out-hustle… Those are the ones who bring home the most candy.

There’s this weird thing that happens as you get into high school…  As you continue to trick-or-treat, many of your peers begin to drop off.  Maybe they don’t think it’s cool…  Maybe someone told them they were too old (and they believed it)…  Maybe they don’t want to hustle…  Whatever the case may be, when you take a moment to look around… People stop trick-or-treating.

Or as the Goodie Mob would say…

“People don’t dance no mo.  All they do is dis.”

This idea was never more apparent to me then when I was a sophomore in high school.  The year was 1994…

Back in the day, on Halloween, we used to roll 10 kids deep… but sophomore year was different…  As Halloween came around, most of my friends did not want to trick-or-treat.  Instead of the usual 10, our group had narrowed down to three…

Just three…

Zach DeLawyer, Morgan Lumber, and yours truly.

In planning out or trick-or-treating route, we quickly realized the advantage of having a smaller group…  Having fewer people with us meant that we could move more quickly from one house to the next.  We realized that we would be more efficient.  We could hit more houses in less time.  What we had in our small group was opportunity…

We had an opportunity to do something that had never been done before…

We were going to hit every single house in our small town of Ben Lomond in a single night!




Okay… Not every house, but a whole lot of ’em.  Here was the plan…

Zach lived on one end of Ben Lomond, and I lived on the other.  At the end of the school day, I would ride the bus over to Zach’s house to meet both him and Morgan.  We would begin trick-or-treating there, and work our way over to my house (on the other end of town).  My dad would then drive Morgan and Zach back home.

The plan was solid!

We even mapped our route!  (Click Here to See the Plan)

The only thing left was execution.  And THAT is when things got interesting…

We began trick-or-treating around 4:30pm.  Now, I know that many folks would call that too early, but when you’re planning to go to every house in the town (or at least a lot of them) you cannot wait.  At first, there were a few houses that would not answer the door, or were not ready to accommodate trick-or-treaters…  But most of the folks were very nice, and were excited to hear of our plan.

About an hour into our mission, the streets began to fill up with packs of younger kids screaming as they bounced from one house to the next.

As night began to fall, more and more ghouls, goblins, and ghosts emptied into the streets.  We would come across groups of kids our age who wanted to stop and hang out with us, but we could not be bothered…

We were on a mission!

For those that didn’t look at the map (How dare you?!?!), the complete trip consisted of an ominous 6.66 miles with an elevation gain of 397 ft.  With each house, and each contribution of candy, our pillow cases got heavier and heavier.  It got to a point were we were literally dragging our pillow cases behind us.  The entire trip took about 5 hours.  This was not an easy task for a group of 15 and 16 year-olds.

But, sure enough, we did it!

We hit the last house on our map at 9:30pm (What?  Too late?  Don’t judge us!).  As we hit the straight-away on Glen Arbor Road, the joy of a hard day’s (night’s) work was about to pay off.  My house was half a mile away…

All we had to do was get home…

That’s all we had to do…

But then, it happened…

As far as roads go in a small mountain town like Ben Lomond, Glen Arbor is a busy one.  About once every minute, a car would come racing by us.  On a quiet night, the sound of a car coming is something you get used to.  A low moan, transitions to a high purr as the car flies by at 40 miles an hour.  They vary slightly, based on the size of the car, but the sounds are usually quite similar…

So when a low and slow rumble starts to creep up behind you, you notice… And we did.

We turned our heads to find a 1975 VW van passing us at about 10 miles per hour.  As the van pulled even with us, we saw heads in the van turn… and the eyes attached to them staring us down.

There was a bus stop about 30 yards ahead of us.  The van pulled over right there.

What were we supposed to do?

We were almost home.  The only thing between my house and us was this van.  We weren’t going to hike 6 miles back to Zach’s house.

We decided to keep walking toward the van.

And then, it happened…

The doors of the van flew open, and out jumped five dudes.

Five seniors from our high school.

Five football players.

My heart sank.

Four of them hung back, while one of the young men approached us.

“Give us your candy,” he muttered calmly in our direction…

Now, in times of stress our body responds.  It starts when our adrenal glands release a hormone called adrenaline.  The hormone causes our heart rate to speed up and our blood vessels to constrict.  That, coupled with the instantaneous release of glucose into our blood stream, contributes to our fight-or-flight response.  As a defense mechanism, we will either fight or we will flee.  I am always more inclined to do the latter…

“Give us your candy!” he repeated.

I grabbed tight to my bag of candy and began to cautiously step backwards.

Morgan stood still.

But Zach…

Zach had a different response…

“I ain’t giving you my f-ing candy!” he yelled back at the football player.

“That’s a shame,” the football player responded, “I guess I’m just gonna have to take it!”  He grabbed on to one end of Zach’s pillow case, but Zach would not let go.  The two of them began to play tug-o-war with the candy in the middle of the street.

Several cars drove by us, but not a single one stopped to help.

After about a minute, I looked over at Morgan (who had been a statue up to this point).  His face began to change.  Zach and Morgan, though not related by blood, share a mutual cousin.  They had been the best of friends almost their entire life.  They were as close as brothers.  Morgan’s momentarily frozen face began to change to one of anger.  I could see the fire inside him beginning to build.

In a moment, I watched Morgan drop his candy.  He cocked back his right fist, and began to run toward the football player who was tugging on Zach’s candy.  With a high-pitched scream, he jumped into the air and punched the dude in the back of the head.

The football player immediately let go of Zach, and turned toward Morgan.  He grabbed Morgan by the collar and began to shake him.  In one motion, the football player picked up Morgan’s 120 pound body and threw him into a bush.  He then grabbed Morgan’s candy, jumped back into the van with his friends, and took off…

We were almost home…

We almost made it…

But there we stood…

We were shaken…

We were defeated…

At the end of the day, you have to know that our mission was not about the candy.  Zach and I still had ours, and of course we shared what we had with Morgan.  It was about the journey.  We had made a plan.  We put in the hours.  And we did what we set out to do.  In the face of our peers who had said that we were too old to trick-or-treat, we were gonna show them that we were not.  This was our night to shine…

In an instant…

In one action…

Those bastards took our Halloween from us.

They took our innocence.

Living in a small town, word gets around fast.  The next day at school, we didn’t have to tell anyone what had happened to us… They already knew.  We didn’t expect any sympathy from anyone.  And sure enough, we did not get any.

A lot of our peers reacted to the story with laughter.  Some even had the balls to tell us that we deserved it, since we were too old to be trick-or-treating in the first place.  I don’t think any of them would be laughing as much if they realized what was going to happen the following year…

Again, Ben Lomond is a small town.  It was not just students at the local high school who knew what happened…  Parents heard of it too…  Parents of younger children…  Parents who were now afraid to let their kids trick-or-treat.

The next year, when we were Juniors, nobody trick-or-treated.  Not just me, or Zach, or Morgan…

Nobody trick-or-treated in Ben Lomond in 1995…


Maybe a few people did, but Halloween was not the same that year.  Those guys that jumped us for our candy did not just ruin our Halloween.  They ruined it for an entire community.

The idea of not celebrating Halloween (my favorite holiday) just made me sick.  Something had to change.  So when we were seniors (in the Fall of 1996), we committed to make that change…

In the Fall of 1996, we made it happen…

When you become a senior in high school, you begin to gain perspective.  You understand that for some of your classmates (many of whom you’ve known since you were in kindergarten), senior year is the last time you will see some of them… for the rest of your life.  You know that this prom and this homecoming will be your last.  And as for Halloween and trick-or-treating, you know that after your senior year it will never be the same.

It all started with Morgan Lumber…

He was the one who was the most affected by the events of that faitful Halloween night.  He was the one who got tossed in a bush and lost his candy.  While eating lunch, he brought it up…

“Who’s trick-or-treating with me this year?”

That one question gave us licence to jump on board.  Zach was all in, and so was I.

I fired up the computer, and used this brand new site on the internet called google to print out a map of our route.  That Halloween, at school, I gave copies to Zach, Morgan, and several other friends in an attempt to fire people up about trick-or-treating.

As stoked as we were on Halloween this year, other folks had different responses…

“I’m too old for trick-or-treating.”

“Why would I trick-or-treat, when I can go to a party?”

It was just more of the same stuff from two years prior.

A small group of friends had a different response all together…

My buddies Nick TheDrummer, JR FromGirls, A Boy Named Sue, and Morgan DaChef got a hold of our map, and decided to have a little fun.

“Thanks for the map,” JR smirked, “We’re gonna be looking for you tonight.  And when we find you, we’re gonna jack you for your candy.”

With that threat, I looked JR in the eyes and responded, “You know where to find us.  Bring it, bitch!”

That night, just as in the past, we got started early.  We came prepared with two pillow cases each, and a map of our route.  But that Halloween, we weren’t just getting ready to trick-or-treat…


We each grabbed two long tube socks.  In the bottom of each sock, we carefully placed one raw egg.

Maybe they would find us…

Maybe they wouldn’t…

Maybe they would take our candy from us…

But one thing was sure…

If they were getting our candy, they were gonna get wet.

A couple of hours had gone by in our trick-or-treating mission.  Our pillow cases were starting to fill up.  And with our senior-sized bodies, they didn’t seem as heavy as they did in years past.  We had almost forgotten about the threats of our peers…

But then, it happened…

The sound was that of a car horn repeatedly being honked.  We looked back to see a brown 1982 Toyota Tercel hatchback creeping up along side of us.  It was Nick’s car.  A car I had known all to well.  All of the windows were rolled down, and a head peaked out of the passenger side.  It was JR.

“We’re coming to get you, bitches!” he threatened.

As they slowly continued down the road, Zach was the first to respond.  “Oh Hell nah!” he exclaimed as he reached into one of his tube socks.  He pulled out an egg and fired it at Nicks car.


It was a direct hit on Nick’s rear windshield.

Immediately, Nick slammed on his brakes and jumped out of his car.  “What the f–k, bro!?!?” he yelled out as he raised his arms up.

“What are you gonna do?” Morgan Lumber yelled back.

“You’ll see!” Nick responded as he jumped back into his car and peeled out.

What were they planning?

We just shrugged it off, and continued trick-or-treating…

About a half an hour later, we had reached a stretch of road that didn’t have many houses.

It was dark.

It was flat.

It was quiet.

As we turned a corner we saw Nick’s car parked on the side of the road.

We approached with caution.

We approached prepared.

I quickly hid my pillow case of candy behind a bush.  I then reached back into my belt loops and pulled out my egg-filled tube socks.   Morgan and Zach pulled out their tube socks as well…

When we were about 20 feet from the car, the doors flew open and Nick, JR, Sue, and Morgan D. stepped out.

“Give us your candy!” they all yelled in unison.

Zach raised the middle finger of his free had and shouted back, “Go f–k yourself!”

“Let’s get ’em!” Morgan DaChef called out as he charged straight for me.


You should know that Morgan DaChef and I had a bit of an awkward history.  He, along with Nick and JR, was in a band with me for about a year.  He was a really fun guy to hang out with.  He also hated me for a quite some time… and for good reason.  The summer before, I had started dating his ex-girlfriend of about 4 years.  It was an awful… awful thing that I did to a friend.  It was a stupid thing to do, and I will forever be sorry.

Back to the story…

So Morgan D. came charging right at me.  Though he was bigger than me, I stayed calm.  My candy was hidden, and I had a plan.

When he was about 10 feet away from me, I held my egg-filled tube socks out to my sides and began to swing them like nunchakus.  When he saw me swinging something in the dark, Morgan began to slow-up.  Before he could fully react to what was happening, I hit him with the eggs.



I caught him on the top of the head with the left, then the right.

Now look… It was dark out.  He didn’t know what was in those socks.  For all he knew, they could have been rocks.  The only thing that he was certain of was that he got hit with something… That, and now something was oozing down his face… For all he knew, it could have been blood (not egg).

Morgan DaChef grabbed his head and yelled, “What the f–k did you just do, Jeff?!?!”  In a rage he picked me up over his head, and body slammed me on a sand dune.  He then grabbed his head again and ran off toward the car, shouting to JR and Sue, “I’m bleeding!”

Slowly getting back to my feet, I looked over at Zach.  He was on the ground, wrestling for his candy with Nick.

From out of nowhere, I then saw Morgan Lumber run up and smash two eggs on the back of Nick’s head.



Nick let go of the bag and clutched his head just long enough for Zach to roll back to his feet.  With an upper-cutting motion, Zach delivered the final blow to Nick’s chest.


Crying, Nick ran back to his car where everyone else was waiting, and jumped in.

As they drove off, an arm stretched out of each window of the Toyota Tercel… each with a middle finger raised high.

In return, each of us grabbed our pillow cases of candy and lifted them high above our heads as symbols of victory.

We did it!

We won!

We avenged our Halloween nightmare of two years past!

The rest of the night was a blast.  We were amped up.  We were happy.

We brought Halloween back to Ben Lomond!




When I got home that night, I threw my candy on the scale…


I was shocked!

We did it!


You know…

Back then, I was hella stoked to have that much candy at once.


I wouldn’t know what to do with it.

I’m not really a huge candy guy,


I am a big wine guy…

Today, a lot of wineries have gotten into doing candy and wine pairings around Halloween time.

This past Saturday, Kara and I decided to stop by a few places to see what they had.

Check it…

The first stop was Kirigin Cellars in Gilroy…

When we showed up at Kirigin, we started with a glass of sparkling wine to cleanse the palate.

The first pairing was Chardonnay with Kit Kat. The wafer of the Kit Kat brought out the butteriness of the Chardonnay.

Up next... Pinot Noir with Whoppers. The light milk chocolate of the whopper was a good choice.

With the Zinfandel, we had Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Jammy Zin + Peanut Butter Cups = Liquid PB&J

Hershey's Kisses with Syrah was a nice one. It was kind of refreshing to have milk chocolate (instead of dark) with a wine.

Before leaving Kirigin, you have to try their Vino de Mocca. It's a fortified dessert wine, made with grapes, oranges, chocolate and coffee. I would be stoked to get that in my pillow case when I trick-or-treat this year.

On the way back toward Morgan Hill, we stopped by Clos La Chance in San Martin…

I'm liking this wine flight!

Up first... Viognier and Candy Corn Pumpkin. Not a good choice. The butteriness of the Candy Pumpkin makes the Viognier taste like a crappy Chardonnay.

Now the Hershey's Bar with Almonds and the Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay was rad!

Let me just say that I've never had a Take 5 before I did this pairing... Now I'm obsessed! Pretzels. Chocolate. Caramel. Peanuts. Peanut Butter. Legit! Oh... and the SCM Pinot Noir was good too.

Estate Syrah and Snickers really satisfies.

The final pairing of the day was a Kit Kat and a Meritage. Not bad, though I think Kirigin had it right by pairing Kit Kat with a Chardonnay.


There you have it!

Here’s hoping that your Halloween is filled with GOODIES… and you don’t get MOBBED!

Take it away, boys…

Stay Rad,


Love/Hate or The proof is in the off-putting.

August 5, 2011

Wednesday was a free day for Kara and me… It was our last free day of the summer, so we decided to hit up a few local wineries.

You’ve got to know that we had an amazing day.


The amazing 2007 Lila's Cuvee Rhone Blend paired with an amazing view at Clos La Chance.

I could tell you about how much fun we had at Clos La Chance

2008 Biagini Vineyard Pinot Noir side-by-side with the 2008 Erwin Vineyard Pinot Noir at Clos La Chance. Both wines were hella RAD!

I could tell you about our awesome pre-dinner visit to Bubbles Wine Bar


Hella to the yeah, son!

The only thing better is bubbles and oysters. Dope!

I could even let you know about the Rad Mexican feast we had at Sinaloa Cafe

Come for the margaritas. Stay for more margaritas.

So please forgive me if I don’t.

I’ve been dying to write about some wine that I hated…

I mean HATED.


Please alow me to present Fortino Winery

Fortino... unfortunately = (

Fortino is a neat looking venue on the corner of Watsonville Road and Hecker Pass in Gilroy.  We hit it up after Clos La Chance because it was one of the few wineries in the area that was open on a Wednesday afternoon.

Now, you should know that I’ve been to Fortino twice before.  Once was about two years back before I was as passionate about wine as I am today.  It was also well before I would take notes on wine.  The other time was after a long day of tasting during the Santa Clara Valley Passport Weekend, so my palate was shot.  You even read about me having their Almond Champagne at the Garlic Festival.  But this time… This time, I was gonna take it seriously (Not so fortunate for Fortino).

Here’s the breakdown…


2009 Chardonnay ($16.95):  Nose of honey, pineapple, apple, and flowers.  Not bad.  The palate was a thick and sweet version of lemon/lime soda.  Not good.  Score it a 75 and trust me… You don’t want it.

2010 Black Muscat Blush ($16.95):  Tropical fruit (mango and guava) on the nose.  The taste was of ridiculously sweet flowers.  This wine is obnoxious.  I’m mad that they served it at the beginning of the tasting, because it’s basically a crappy version of a desert wine.  78.  Pass.

On to the Reds:

2008 Carignan ($18.95):  Here’s where I start to get angry.  Carignan, when done right, is one of my favorite varietals.  Fortino makes a big deal about their estate carignan coming from 80 year-old vines.  The only way you could mess this up is if you don’t know how to make wine, or don’t care how it turns out.  My guess is that Fortino falls into the latter category.  There was this nose of green bell pepper that gave me some hope, but it came with this over-the-top sweet red fruit that destroyed it.  The taste was sweet red cherries with just a little bit of tires and nice acidity.  The problem with this wine was there was no balance.  It was all sweetness.  If I want a sweet red wine, I’ll hit up 7 Eleven.  This is a 79.  In a better mood, maybe I’d give it an 80-.

Non-Vintage Maribella ($16.95):  The bar menu reads, “This off-dry blend named after Marie Fortino offers hints of cherry and raspberry.  Blended from Cabernet, Sangiovese & Carignan”.  Here’s what it should say, “We threw a bunch of leftover grapes from a bunch of different vintages together and came up with this nasty sweet red wine.  We named it after our grandma to guilt you into buying it.”  This wine smelled like sugarfied sweetness with tires and fruit.  It tasted like cherry syrup.  This wine, more so than the others, sucks ass.  58.

2008 Zinfandel ($22.00):  The bar menu reads, “Aged in vintage oak barrels for 20 months, these Santa Clara Valley grapes go great with chocolate”.  It should say, “We went to our local nursery, picked up a few wine barrel flower pots, superglued them together, and were all like, ‘We should put some Zin in here!’  So we did.  It doesn’t taste good, unless you have it with a brick of chocolate.”  The nose is big and chocolatey, with a bit of plum.  It showed some promise, but then I tasted it.  Imagine taking a jar of canned cranberry sauce and spreading it over a dirty ass chair that had been left outside for years.  Now wait for the hottest day of the year, and take a bite of that dirty cranberry covered chair.  Doesn’t sound good, does it?  The wine wasn’t good either.  60.

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($28.00):  Cured ham, blackberry and oak on the nose.  Blackberry, black olive, and oak on the palate.  I’m giving it an 81.  The good news is that it’s not horrible.  The bad news is that for $28, I could buy half a case of something better.  What a shame.

Sparkling Wine:

Non-Vintage Almond Champagne ($16.95):  You’ve heard me say it before.  The almond tastes very fake, but the wine is still nice and refreshing.  It’s made from 100% French Colombard.  In making conversation with our server (who was very nice), I asked her where the French Colombard was from.  Her response, “Well… I’m not sure.  There’s this other company that makes it for us.  We just put the label on it.”  That makes sense.  No wonder I’m giving it an 84.  This is worth trying.

Fruit Wine:

Apricot ($16.95):  How can you dis fruit wine?  It’s delicious.  It smells like a bag of dried apricots.  It tastes like apricots.  I would try it with some vanilla ice cream (I gots ta get me some of that).  But, at the end of the day, it’s fruit wine.  I have a physics teacher friend that makes stuff like this for fun.  Take some fruit.  Crush it.  Throw it in a vat.  Add some yeast.  Let it sit for a few weeks.  Bottle it.  83.

Here’s the thing that gets me mad.  There are tons of vineyards in this area.  Tons!  Please check the map.  The fruit, from one vineyard to the next is essentially the same.  And the fruit is good.  There are plenty of wineries in the Santa Clara Valley that are making great wine with their grapes.  The problem is that there are almost as many wineries in this area that just don’t care enough to make good wine.  They use cheap methods (like using “vintage” barrels), and have no problem pushing a crappy product on their customers.  That’s just what Fortino is doing… and it’s off-putting.

If you look at their website (which looks worse than this blog) or their Yelp Page, it becomes apparent that they are much more into pushing events and weddings than making good wine.  In fact, the only other people in the tasting room that day, were two different couples that were planning to have their weddings at Fortino.  I overheard one couple say, “We don’t normally like Cabernet, but this stuff is great.”  On the other end of the bar, the other couple was all, “This Maribella is great!”  Kara and I just shook our heads.  I could not imagine having to serve that kind of garbage at my wedding.

Now look…

Fortino has a loyal following.  Many more than I have.  If you’re a big fan of them, all the power to you.  You’ve got your own palate, and you should trust it.  I’m sure they put on great events.  I’m sure the weddings there are beautiful.  And hey… The Almond Champagne and Apricot Wine ain’t bad.


I’ve got a message for Fortino…

I love wine.

You make bad wine.

I hate it.

You can do better.

Step it up.

Get Rad,


The House of Thevegetarian: A Bordeaux Vertical w/ Enough Food to Make a Man Grow Horizontally.

July 10, 2011

Remember when I asked you to pick which wine I should drink?

Fine then!  Go here to refresh your memory.

One of the wines I featured was this guy…

Chateau Ballan-Larquette 2006 Bordeaux

At the end of the post, this guy (the winemaker for Chateau Ballan-Larquette) asked me to let him know what I thought about it.


The other day at BevMo, I was checking out the wines for the 5 Cent Sale (again… a total scam), and I found that they had the 2007 and 2009 vintages of the exact same wine I already had.  I decided right then that I had to purchase those other vintages and do a vertical tasting.

The problem is, 3 bottles of wine is just too much for one man to drink alone (1 bottle is too much).  So I needed to make an event out of it.

That’s where the Thevegetarians come in.

Dave Thevegetarian has been my best friend ever since we were in third grade.  Third grade, man!  If you want to figure out how long we’ve been friends, take the age that you are supposed to be when you’re in third grade (I’m too lazy to ask my Kara.  She teaches third grade.) and subtract that from 33.  That’s about how many years we’ve known each other, or something.

Dave and his wife, Kara Thevegetarian, both happen to be vegetarians, coincidentally.  They love throwing dinner parties.  I would invite the Thevegetarians over for dinner at my house more often, but I doubt they would eat my Blue Cheese Burgers.  They had us over for dinner last Friday.

“You bring the wine,” Dave told me, “and I’ll make some dope food for you, home boy.”  In spite of Dave Thevegetarian’s odd choice of words, I pulled my three bottles from the old wine fridge along with a little bubbly, grabbed Kara by the hand, and headed over to the House of Thevegetarian.

“It’s on!” I shouted.

“Oh brother!” Kara responded.

We arrived at 6:30 pm to a table loaded with vegetarian hors d’oeuvres and a cork screw.  I opened up the three bottles of Chateau Ballan-Larquette and arranged them thusly…

Chateau Ballan-Larquette 2006, 2007, 2009, and vegetarian goodness.

While waiting for the wine to breathe a little, Kara Thevegetarian poured us each a glass of this…

Clos La Chance 2009 Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc. Why it was kept in the vegetable crisper is beyond me.

I’ve always been a fan of Clos La Chance.  So much so, that KaraIsRad and I were married there.

See! I told you!

The Clos La Chance 2009 Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc is a grassy lemon/lime machine.  The perfect aperitif on a hot summer day.  I’m not giving you a score for this one, ’cause I didn’t take any notes on it.  Let me just say that I recommend it.

On to the vertical tasting…

The Cateau Ballan-Larquette is a “value” Bordeaux.  The list price for this one is $19.99.  At BevMo, you will pay that much for it during the 5 Cent Sale, but when it’s not on “sale” you should be able to get it for about 15 bucks.  This wine is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc.  It spends 12 to 18 months in steel and cement tanks.

Up first…


Color:  Ruby red with a little rust.

Nose:  Chalk (I love chalk), Cola, Green Bell Pepper.

Taste:  This wine is GREEN!  Bell peppers for days!  There is also a spicy black pepper component.  Good acidity.  There is a little bit of bacon fat in this one which really brings the whole thing together.

Score:  A solid 88.  Solid!

How about some food?

Roasted Asparagus Soup by Dave Thevegetarian.

Up next…


Color: Same ruby color as the first.  Maybe a little darker.

Nose:  Bright Cherry.  A little wood shop action too (Strange, since to my knowledge this wine is not oaked).

Taste:  Very green with some SHARP tannins.  Sour Cherry.  Acid.  A little rubbery bike tire thing.

Score:  I originally gave this one an 87, but after the tasting was completed I gave it a retaste.  It just doesn’t hold up to the other two wines.  I now give it an 86-.

Note:  I bought this wine two weeks ago at the 5 Cent Sale.  All of the vintages at Bev Mo were 2009, but I found this one tucked in the bin.  At Bev Mo, they display their wines upright at room temperature.  There is a strong possibility that this bottle was sitting around the store for two years before I bought it.  Not being stored properly, this bottle may not represent the 2007 vintage properly.  Two questions:  A) Have any of you tried the 2007 Ch. Ballan-Larquette and have notes to share?  B) Would any of you ever buy an odd-vintaged wine that was not stored properly?

What?  You want more food?  Okay…

Stuffed Zucchini Crumble. It tasted WAY better than it looks.

Alright.  More wine…


Color:  Same as the rest.

Nose:  Blueberry.  Cocoa.  Chalk (I love chalk).  I’m looking at my notes from Friday.  It says “DOPE!”

Taste:  Bell Pepper.  There is this sweet lacquered wood taste to it.  See that table in the picture above.  Imagine taking a bite out of that, but in a good way.  There is also a cranberry and white pepper component.

Score:  The 09 was my favorite.  It edged out the 06 because it was a little more complex.  Give it an 89+.

For fun, I also had the other folks rank the wines before I revealed my scores.  Here’s what they said…

KaraIsRad: She liked the 07 the best.  It was followed closely by the 09 which barely edged out the 06.

Kara Thevegetarian: She also thought the 07 was the best, but she liked the 06 better than the 09.

Dave Thevegetarian:  He was very much in my camp, scoring the 09 as the top wine (followed by the 06 and 07).

The takeaway for me was that this is a wine that can be consumed young.  If you are going to hold it for a while (I had mine for 3 years), make sure that you store it properly.  Put it in a cool place if you do not have a wine fridge, and keep them on their sides.  Decanting for 15 minutes to a half and hour is a good idea.  The 07 did start tasting off after a few hours, but again… I think it was doomed from the start.  I am looking forward to tasting more wines from Ch. Ballan-Larquette.

What?  MORE FOOD?!?!?

Baked ziti of smoked mozzarella. Like a circus, this dish was "in tents"!

After the business of the night was done with, we had a really fun time hanging out.  We even had a dance off.

Here is what my camera saw…

Sparkling white wine paired with sparkling bon fire.

Emile's California Champagne by Guglielmo.

Croatian Fig Brandy. Yikes!

Good times, but now I’m hungry…

Dave called my bluff and brought me some fruit. What a sweetheart.

Stay Rad,


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