Posts Tagged ‘kara’

When the Wife’s Away, Jeff Don’t Play

February 27, 2016

A few weeks back, Kara was out of town for a get-together with some old friends. As much as I love spending time with with my wife, I don’t mind the occasional nights alone… It gives me a chance to get together with some old friends of my own…

“Hello, Cornerstone Cellars! Hello, New York Strip! It’s been a while!”

Cornerstone 2012 Black Label Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and a New York Strip

You know that I love me some Cornerstone Cellars. I’ve been sitting on this sample of their 2012 Black Label Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for a while, and have been dying to taste it, but with Kara being pregnant, I have not had a chance to open as many bottles around her as I normally would (considering she doesn’t get to share it with me).

You should also know that I love me some beef. I’ve been dreaming of this juicy cut of grass-fed goodness a lot lately. My wife, however, has a “no mammals” policy when it comes to our meals. As a result, I don’t get a chance to indulge in as much red meat as I wish I could.

With Kara away, I had my chance to play…

Let’s get into this wine.

Cornerstone Cellars 2012 Black Label Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Sample provided by Winery):

Formerly known as the Stepping Stone series, these “second label” wines from Cornerstone bring some serious chops at a serious value.

Color: Inky deep purple.

Nose: Fruits of plum and blackberry up front, with secondary notes of leather, allspice, menthol, and pencil shavings. This is a nose a teacher can get behind (I’m talking about the pencils, not the Kool cigarettes, silly).

Palate: A nice, medium plus weight to this wine. Fruits of ripe plum, cassis, and high-toned red cherries on the front palate. There is solid structure here from the chalky fine tannins and long acidity. I love the transition of fruits to tobacco leaf and rich forest soil on the long, Earthy finish.

Score: This wine is friggin’ lovely! 93+ all the way. Kara should get out of town more often (Just kidding, girl. I love you).


While this wine would do perfectly fine as a stand-alone drink, the fine folks at Cornerstone believe strongly in treating wine as part of a meal. I could not agree more.

Here’s what I paired with it…

Pan-Seared New York Strip with Blue Cheese, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and a Baked Potato

What did I say?

Jeff. Don’t. Play.

Stay Rad,


Be sure to listen to Jeff every week on the We Like Drinking Podcast (available on iTunes), and leave a comment below about your favorite Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and food pairing.



The Wine in My Glass

March 28, 2015

I’ve been drinking a lot of my wine out of tumblers these days…

Case in point.

For me, the tumbler represents a relaxed vibe.

Yes.  I know that there is a difference in your abilities to perceive aromas and flavors when drinking vessels are switched up, but sometimes wine ain’t about all that.

Sometimes you just want to sit back on your patio with some good food, wine, and company… and just enjoy the moment.

Ferrari-Carano 2013 Fume Blanc

Ferrari-Carano 2013 Fume Blanc

Thank you for the food, Safeway.

Thank you for the wine, Ferrari-Carano.

Thank you, Parker, for going to bed early so your mom and I could enjoy this beautiful evening.

Tumble on, baby.

Stay Rad,


 What’s your spring time patio wine?  Who are you sharing it with?  Leave a comment, and let us know.

Back to the Castle

June 5, 2013


Kara made some amazing Macaroni and Cheese tonight, and I just happened to have another wine sample to review, so I figured I’d pair the two.

Check out the wine…


Castello di Amorosa 2012 Mendocino County Pinot Grigio

And the Mac and Cheese…


Kara used Gruyere and Cheddar in this bad boy. Yum!

The Castello di Amorosa 2012 Mendocino County Pinot Grigio consists of 100% Stainless Steel Tank-Aged Pinot Grigio.  It comes in at 14.5% alcohol, and is available at the winery (as well as in their extensive online store) for $21.

Color: Very pale yellow.  Think of the color of hay.

Nose: Massive amounts of honeysuckle (maybe due to the 3.8 g/L of residual sugar) create a nice backdrop for the green apple and honeydew fruits.  The nose isn’t overly sweet.  There are plenty of wet rocks to balance everything out.

Taste: There is a surprisingly nice petrol note to this wine which provides for a very fun, viscous mouthfeel.  As with most Pinot Grigios, there is a brightly acidic backbone to this wine that delivers a variety of citrus fruit flavors of lemon and lime zest.  There is a nice combination of honey and minerality at play here too.

Score: I get it.  Castello di Amorosa makes wines consisting of mainly Italian varieties of grapes, and no self-respecting “Italian” winery would ever label a bottle as “Pinot Gris”, but… This is not one of those ordinary, 20-dollar, flat-lemon-lime-soda-tasting, Italian Pinot Grigios that have been taking over your local super market in recent years.  This drinks like one of those rich, subtle, and intriguing Oregonian Pinot Gris that I have been grooving on in recent months.  Stylistically, these guys have done everything right with the grape they call the “Grey Pine”.  At 87+ points, you may want to introduce this Pinot Grigio to your favorite housewife.

With the Food: Kara’s Mac n’ Cheese is killer!  Creamy.  Cheesy.  Zesty.  And the combination of the soft pasta and the crunchy bread crumbs makes it a textural sensation.  When paired with the Pinot Grigio the flavor of the dish transforms to that of a pear, walnut, and gorgonzola pizza.  Fantastic!

Stay Rad,


What’s your favorite Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio?  Leave a comment, and tell us about it.

Napa Fun Time 1.1: In The Cave, Man

October 16, 2012

This past weekend, Kara and I took a trip up to Napa Valley in celebration of ten years together…

If you’re keeping track, that means we were dating for eight years before we got married.

If you’re wondering what took me so long to pop the question, you’ve got to know that I’m not the brightest crayon in the box.


We had such a great time on Saturday, I don’t think there is any way that I could fit all of the awesomeness into one post.


I present to you…

Napa Fun Time 1.1: In the Cave, Man:

Our first stop on Saturday was the Del Dotto Historic Winery and Caves on Atlas Peak Road in Napa.


From the outside, the Del Dotto tasting room is very unassuming…


Once inside the tasting room, it’s easy to see that this is a classy joint. Upon check-in, we were served a tasty pour of the Del Dotto 2010 Cinghiale Vineyard Chardonnay. Class in a glass.

Our host explained to us at the beginning of our tour that Del Dotto likes to focus not just on showcasing the vineyards which grow the wines, but also the oak in which the wine was aged.


Here he is showing off the different toast levels of a wine barrel.

Next, we took a stroll into the cave to do some barrel tasting.


Into the cave…

Our host did a great job of showcasing the types of wines that were popular among members of the tour.  We mainly focussed on Cabernet Sauvignon in both American and French Oak barrels.


The Wine Thief. I’ve gotta get me one of those.


Here’s a cool looking oak barrel with hecka grooves carved in to add more layers of flavor to the wine. Our hoast called this one a “barrel on steroids”.

The wine was fantastic, but the highlight has to be the fact that you get to throw your wine up against the wall of the cave when you’re done.


Hey wall. Meet my wine.

The Del Dotto tour is one of the funnest, and most informative, tours I’ve ever experienced in Napa.

This was definitely a great way to start the day.

You’ve gotta visit the cave, man.

Stay Rad,


Be sure to tune in to the next installment of Napa Fun Time, when Jeff and Kara visit the tasting room of Cornerstone Cellars in downtown Yountville.

Getting Over It

August 20, 2012

I’m a wine blogger.

I also happen to be a teacher.

Last year, around this time, I wrote a post about how I feel about making the transition from summertime back to school.

You could read the post by clicking here, or you can just trust me…

The end of the Summer makes me sad.

That being said, last week was the first of the new school year, and my first back in the classroom.

It came and went… And I felt just fine.

This was quite possibly the smoothest transition back to school I’ve ever had.

I’ve been searching my memory banks as to why I don’t feel the same way I normally do, and I just couldn’t come up with any reason why it’s been so easy…

Then I took a peek at some of the pictures I took the week before school started.  They reminded me of the day when Kara and I decided to do a little weekday wine tasting at two of my favorite Santa Clara Valley wineries…

Our first stop was Clos La Chance, where I got to taste this bad boy…


Clos La Chance 2008 Lila’s Cuvee Rhone Blend

This is a beautiful Rhone style blend that consists of 36% Syrah, 34% Petite Sirah, 28% Grenache, 1% Mourvedre, and 1% Carignane.  It retails for $50.

Color: Inky dark red.

Nose: A really fun play between deep blueberry and chocolate with hints of graham crackers and mint.

Taste: Cranberry and raspberry fruit.  Cocoa powdery tannins, and mad tobacco flavor.

Score: This is a silky smooth wine that everybody can enjoy, but it’s got the kind of complexity that will make some of you geek out hard core.  This one is great!  91+

Later on, we hit up Sycamore Creek to try this one…


Sycamore Creek 2009 Flagship Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Sycamore Creek makes some really good Bordeaux style wines.  This Flagship Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon has a touch of Petit Verdot.

Color: Dark burgundy red.

Nose: Plum and cassis fruits up front are rounded out by mint and tobacco.

Taste: Dark and dense plum and tobacco dominate this wine.  The mid-palate transitions from cocoa and mint to black pepper spice and coffee notes on the finish.

Score: This is a super solid and fun wine.  I would plant my flag on this wine too.  91+

I’m glad that Kara and I live so close to a bunch of really cool wineries…

And with juice like this, it’s hard to feel blue about going back to school.

Stay Rad,


Stay Rad Wine Blog TV Episode 60: What it B?

August 18, 2012

In this episode, Jeff tries another wine in a brown bag.  What could it be?

To view the score of this wine, click here.

Stay Rad,


This Post isn’t About That…

July 30, 2012

Yesterday, my Aunt B. and Uncle J. took Kara and me wine tasting at Domenico Winery in San Carlos…


Domenico Winery

Domenico is an Urban Winery found just off of the 101 on the San Francisco Peninsula. I am always intrigued by the quality of wine coming from Urban Wineries like Domenico. I could do a whole series on just Urban Wineries…

But this post isn’t about that.

Although the winery is not located within the boundaries of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, Domenico is considered to be a Santa Cruz Mountain Winery because they do make some wines with fruit sourced from that appellation. Here’s a few that we tasted…


Domenico 2009 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay


Domenico 2008 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

I do love me some Santa Cruz Mountains fruit. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the Santa Cruz Mountains…

But this post isn’t about that.

Domenico is more well-known for their wines made from Italian varietals. We got to try the follwing wines which are recommended by yours truly…


Domenico 2006 Dolcetto


Domenico 2007 Montepulciano

Although I was into both of these, I am not usually a fan of wines made of Italian grapes grown in California (with the exception of Primitivo aka Zinfandel, which technically has origins in Croatia)…

But this post isn’t about that.

Domenico also makes a fine Bordeaux style blend from Napa…


Domenico 2005 Napa Valley Meritage

I was also very impressed with their dessert wines…


We picked up the 2009 “White Cashmere” Malvasia Bianca Dessert Wine, thanks to my aunt and uncle.

Yup. Domenico is a pretty cool place. You should check them out the next time you’re in San Carlos…

But this post isn’t about that.

On the way home, after saying our goodbyes to Aunt B. and Uncle J., we decided to swing by Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello Tasting Room… Since it was on the way, and all…

As always, the entire lineup at Ridge was fantastic. We were hella stoked by the following…


Ridge 2010 East Bench Zinfandel


Ridge 2007 Syrah/Grenache


Ridge 2006 Lytton Estate Grenache

Those wines were very good. I mean… Ridge is ALWAYS good…

But this post isn’t about that.

There were two wines that we got to taste that were just amazing…


The Ridge 2010 Buchignani Ranch Carignane is unreal. The nose is this crazy combination of beef jerky and cake frosting. I know that sounds weird, but trust me… That smell is beautiful. The palate brings some legit blueberry and blackberry fruit. Pick it up! 92+


Behind the counter, they had open a Half Bottle of Ridge 1993 Monte Bello, so we had to have a taste. It’s hard to believe that this wine is 19 years old. Considering that half bottles age more quickly than those that are full-sized, it was neat to see how young it still behaved. The color was a dark reddish-purple with just the slightest rustiness near the rim. The nose had this fantastic spice that Kara and I were having trouble putting a name to. Kara settled with chai tea. The spice to me was more that of nutmeg and carob. There was also a generous aroma of plum. On the palate, this bad boy brought it all. Black tea, green peppers, clove, mint, ginger, blackberries, cranberries, and leafy tobacco married perfectly. This wine, right now, is in a sweet spot. It is F-ing great! 95

Since Kara and I joined Ridge last year, I’ve probably visited the winery about 20 times (Yikes!), and I am always surprised by all the neat little gems that show up every time…

But this post isn’t about that.

After we got home, I took our dog, Angel, for a walk…


What’s up? Dog.

While on our walk, Angel stepped on a bee.

My dog is a bad ass. She is maybe 15 pounds, and talks trash to the local pit bulls whenever she sees ’em. But, when she stepped on that bee, I’ve never seen her in more pain… Ever. She began to limp and cry, and would not stop.

Kara and I took her to the vet to get her paw checked out. They gave her a couple of shots to ease the swelling and pain, and by bedtime she was back to her bad ass ways…

But this post isn’t about that.

When I woke up this morning, I saw that my ol’ buddy, Nick TheDrummer, had created the following logo for me and posted it to my Facebook page


Stay Rad Wine Blog: The Logo

It’s pretty cool, huh?

But this post isn’t about that.

This post is about the kindness of people…

It’s about my wife coming on wine adventures with me.

It’s about my aunt and uncle inviting us to lunch, treating us to a wine tasting, and buying us a bottle of wine… Just because.

It’s about the people at Ridge Vineyards always making fantastic wine, and bringing a great wine tasting experience every single time. I would continue to love their wine even if they were jerk faces, but they are far from it… And that’s just keen.

It’s about my dog, showing me nothing but love… Always.

It’s about perfect strangers showing nothing but love for my dog, even when she tries to bite their faces off.

It’s about Nick taking the time to make a logo for me just because he thought I would like it.

It’s about people taking the time to read what I have to say just because…

It’s about how much I love and appreciate you all.

That’s what this post is about.

Stay Rad,


Valley Girl

June 12, 2012

Does this conversation sound familiar to you?

“What do you want to do for dinner?”

“I don’t know.  What do you want?”

“I don’t know.”

That was Kara and me the other night.  For a good ten minutes, it seemed, we lazily volleyed back and forth.  Each of us hungry, and yet very content to just lay there on the couch, zoning out with the TV on in the background…

And then it hit me…

“That’s it!” I proclaimed as I jumped out of my seat, “We need to make something happen!”

I dragged Kara to the kitchen, where I pulled out two glasses and a bottle of wine.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“We need inspiration.  Let’s just hang out in the kitchen and drink this wine.  I guarantee that eventually we’ll make something to eat.”

And so we did.

Here’s the wine…

Kara and I picked this up at the Rodney Strong winery in Healdsburg last summer, while celebrating our one year wedding anniversary.  It was 25 bucks.

Color: Dark reddish purple.

Nose: Raspberry, blackberry, and plum fruits are all present on the nose.  There are subtle hints of tobacco leaf as well.

Taste: Nothing subtle on the palate.  This wine is ALL TOBACCO!  I mean… Big time!  There a good plum fruit to this, and some nice lavender notes, but what you will remember is the big leathery tobacco structure.  The website says to enjoy this over the next 3 – 6 years, but I think the Rodney will still be going Strong (See what I did there?) for the next 10.  The tannins were a tad bit astringent on the finish, but one would expect that to fade over time.

Score: A fantastic 92 point effort from Rodney Strong.  I highly recommend the Alexander Valley, girl.

I got so mesmerized by the wine, that I didn’t even notice that Kara was fixing up something proper in the kitchen.  The next thing I knew, she slid this over to me…


Rosemary, spinach, and walnut pesto pasta with crusty bread. Mmmmmmmm…

There was a very pleasant piney mintiness to the pesto.  When combined with the tobacco flavors of the wine, there were some really neat chocolate notes that came out of the Cabernet.

What a great dinner.

Sure, Kara made the meal, but I like to think that my drinking wine had something to do with it.

Stay Rad,


Noble Eats (And That’s No Bull)

May 12, 2012

Saturday was a good day.

At 8:00am, Kara and I ran the OGSD SLUG Run 5K.

Not only did each of us come in second place in our age group, but I actually placed 3rd overall.

Here’s some proof… Granted, it is also proof that most of the race participants were elementary school kids trying to raise money for science camp… But still…


I won me a $25 gift card to a local running store for beating them kids.


It’s my Bib in a Box!

Earlier in the week, my buddy Cheeto mentioned that there was gonna be a BBQ competition in our neighborhood, so as soon as Kara and I returned from the race, we showered up and headed over to the Morgan Hill No Bull BBQ Cook-Off

This is the third year in which Morgan Hill has held this competition.  It is a national event that is part of the Pacific North West BBQ Association.  In the competition, teams camp out over night to make the perfect brisket, chicken, pork, and pork ribs for a select group of judges.

As a spectator, you can purchase tickets to taste some of the items from the BBQ teams.  Along with a booklet of five tickets, you also receive a vote in the “People’s Choice” competition.  You know I’m never one to not let my opinion be heard, so I had to get my taste on.

You know that BBQ styles can range all over the place, so to limit the variables in play, I elected to compare pork ribs.

First up…


Porktera BBQ


Porktera Rib

The thing that really stuck out to me about Porktera was the richness of the pork.  The sauce was nice and tangy.  Not a bad start.



Smoke Slayers

Before I had my rib, I just had to take a peek at what Kara was trying…


Pulled Pork Taco? Nice!

On to the ribs…


Smoke Slayers’ Rib Tips

You’ve gotta love a rib tip.  A little bone.  A little cartilage.  A textural sensation.  Fun and delicious.



Canyon Riders BBQ

You gotta love it when you get to choose your sauce…


I chose the Sweet N’ Mild.


Canyon Riders BBQ Rib with Sweet N’ Mild Sauce

This rib was big and meaty.  I usually opt for the spicier style of sauce, but the Sweet N’ Mild created a good contrast with the smokey rib meat.

When we rounded the next corner, we saw a big ass line…


Big Ass Line

With a line that long, it’s gotta be good… Right?

So Kara and I jumped on in…


Kara and Jeff in Line

Once we got to the front of the line, we were stoked on what we found…



This is what I got…


Bad S Rib

See the carmelization on that rib?  See that rich ass sauce?  See how juicy that meat looks?

That was one Bad S Rib!

Kara’s food looked pretty good too…


Firecracker Shrimp

Now, it was time for my last rib of the day…


Big Ed’s Buzzard BBQ


Big Ed’s Rib

Great sauce.  Great meat.  Great presentation.  Just great.

Kara still had one more tasting ticket, so we lined up next to this smoker…


The smoking section…

And ended up here…


Epiquerean Social BBQ

And Kara got this…


Chicken Wings

Lucky for me, Kara was full… So I got to eat ’em.

Super smokey and delicious.

The only thing that was left to do was drop off our votes for People’s Choice…


People’s Choice

For me, it was a toss-up between Big Ed’s and Bad S, but in the end…


Bad S gets my vote!

So I ask you…

What’s your favorite BBQ?

Stay Rad,


“Where have you been all my life?”: A wine and food pairing at Bubbles

April 17, 2012

As far as wine bars go, you’ve got to know that Bubbles in Morgan Hill is one of my favorites.

If you don’t belive me, just click here.

This past Thursday, they became my most favoritest.

If you don’t believe that “favoritest” is a word, just click here.

Here’s why…

"Where have you been all my life?"

Once a month, for $10, Bubbles offers a wine and food tasting.

Kara and I had been planning on going to one of these events for a while.  Since we had last week off, and our ol’ friend John Terra Savia was in town, we all met up to get our taste on.

This tasting included six wines, and tons of food…

Tons of food: Prosciutto Wrapped Prawns w/ Spicy Chili Oil, White Bean Stew, and BBQ Pork Sliders w/ Blue Cheese Cole Slaw

To start, we walked over to the Beauregard Vineyards table…

Beauregard 2009 Metalique Chardonnay and Beauregard 2008 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

Beauregard 2009 Metalique Chardonnay:

This is Beauregard’s version of the unoaked Chardonnay.  Admittedly, I’m starting to get kind of bored with that style (That gives me an idea for a post!).  There is nothing boring, however, about the 2009 Metalique.  Crisp, lemon acidity, stone minerality, and smoke… Lots of smoke!  It’s an odd finish.  Then again, I’m a little odd too.  It gives me character.  It does the same to the wine.  Give it an 87+.

In talking to John, we began to speculate as to how an unoaked Chardonnay could get that smokey.

My guess was that it was rouge bacteria.

John just kept saying, “It tastes like smoke taint to me… Like there must have been a wildfire that year.”

Sure enough, the next day John sent me a link to an article about another Chardonnay from 2009  (Pelican Ranch) that was grown in the same area (Bonny Doon) and had also been affected by a wildfire.  Check it out!

Beauregard 2008 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay:

This Chardonnay is more my style.  Crisp, lemon acidity (like before), but with the addition of vanilla bean from the oak and malolactic fermentation.  I tried the spicy prawns with this wine, and the heat really went well with the creaminess of the Chardonnay.  88+

Next, we tried out Tank House

Tank House 2009 Syrah and Tank House 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Tank House 2009 Syrah:

On the nose, this Syrah was loaded full of tomato.  The palate, conversely, gives flavors of caramel and cranberries.  This was an awkward, but interesting little wine.  The white bean stew did a good job of marrying the flavors.  86+

Tank House 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon:

Tomato (again) and smoke on the nose, with a touch of tea leaf.  On the palate, this cab brings a good balance of clove spice, plum fruit, Earthy black tea flavors, and nice acidity.  This one also went well with the white bean stew, but it can definitely stand on its own.  89

The last stop on our tasting journey was Alderese Vineyards (Note: I’d provide a link to their website if they had one.  Let me know if you can find it.  I had no luck)…

Alderese Vineyards 2009 Westside Zinfandel and Alderese Vineyards 2008 Late Harvest Zinfandel

Alderese Vineyards 2009 Westside Zinfandel:

This is a new winery in Amador county specializing in Zinfandels.  The 09 Westside Zin has a touch of Petite Sirah in it.  The flavor of this wine is quite candied.  Fruit-forward plums and dark raisin flavors dominate the palate.  Though I give it an 86, this was the perfect wine to go with the pork sliders.  The pork brought out a nice, green pepper flavor.

Alderese Vineyards 2008 Late Harvest Zinfandel:

The gentleman pouring the wine told us that 2008 was the first Zinfandel vintage for Alderese.  I asked him if they did a regular Zinfandel that year too.  He said they did not.  John and I both speculated that they probably messed up harvesting the first year.  This wine was super candied and sugarfied.  Hella concentrated raisins for days.  Another 86 that still went very well with the pork.

We had a great time at Bubbles, as we always do.

I’m looking forward to going to more of their tasting events in the future.

Stay Rad,


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