Posts Tagged ‘Morgan Hill’

Happy #MerlotDay

November 7, 2014

Hey!

Hey!

Hey!

It’s #MerlotDay!

Kara and I just came back from Bubbles in Morgan Hill, where we had a couple of glasses of this bad boy…

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Trentadue 2012 Merlot

And, of course, there was food to be had…

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Hummus

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Warm Brie Crostini

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Pork Sliders

How could you go wrong?

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What did you have to celebrate #MerlotDay?  Leave a comment, and let us know.

Lovin’ That Sake

August 31, 2013

Yesterday was a great day.

Yesterday was pay day.

Yesterday, Kara and I got our Sushi on at CreAsian in Morgan Hill.

Normally, when we go out to sushi, I just get myself some beer or some hot sake.  You’ve seen me bring my own wine out to sushi here and here.

But…

Yesterday I was feeling luxurious!

At least… a little more luxurious than normal.

Peep this cold sake I ordered up…

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Yaegaki Filtered Sake

Like most sakes that you order up in the U.S., this rice wine was made in America.  Now, while some of us may be bummed to find that our sake isn’t Japanese, you should be happy to know that this particular sake was made by Kushibiki Reiko… The first female sake master in these United States.  This split of sake cost me eight bucks.

Color: Not much color at all.  Pretty clear.

Nose: The nose on this sake is more floral than anything else.  There’s tons of lavender here, but it is quite fruity.  Think dried apricot and a bit of plums.

Taste: This wine is very viscous and oily on the palate.  Again… it’s very fruity.  More of those plums, along with a bit of juicy fruit gum.  At its core, the sake is earthy and hearty, with just a touch of white flowers.

This is some good, crisp, lively, and exciting sake.

Now, let’s get to the food…

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Sashimi Salad

I’ve always been a fan of sashimi.  Just give me some raw slices of fish, and I’m good to go.

But…

Sometimes, I want to eat a little bit more than what is offered up on a traditional sashimi plate.

This is where the sashimi salad comes in!

This thing has just as much, if not more, tuna than the normal sashimi plate, plus a ton of lettuce, seaweed, and rice.  Add the fact that they give you a huge squeeze bottle of sriracha to go with it, and you’ve got a fantastic bowl of Japanese comfort food.

Man!

I was lovin’ that sashimi salad…

Almost as much as I was lovin’ that sake.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

When was the last time you had some sake?  Leave us a comment, and tell us about it.

Fetzer and Falafel on a Friday

April 12, 2013

It’s Friday.

I picked up a bottle of Fetzer.

I got me a Falafel wrap.

Let’s have some Fun…

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To the left of the Fetzer 2011 Shaly Loam Gewurztraminer, you will find a bomb ass Delux Falafel Wrap from Morgan Hill’s own Mr. Falafel. You could come to Morgan Hill to get the wrap, but you’ll find the wine EVERYWHERE… or at least Trader Joe’s.

Color: The wine is what I like to refer to as apple juice yellow.  You will see a few bubbles in the glass.  You will notice them more as you taste the wine.

Nose: Nice, subtle peach and mineral on the nose.  Not overly complex, but enjoyable.

Taste: The bubbly frizzante action gives a fun, dancing component to the acidity and minerality.  There’s a nice hit of lemon and peach fruit to go along with some residual sweetness.

Score: At $7, this wine will not change your life, but it is quite enjoyable.  A solid 87.

With Food: I like my hearty, crunchy Falafels with a lot of heat.  I always order them spicy.  The acid on this wine takes the heat from the wrap on a fun little ride.  The sweetness gives a cooling effect, so you are never overwhelmed by the heat.  This is a mad dope pairing.  That’s a good thing.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

Sushi and Wine for my Valentine

February 15, 2013

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.

You knew that already.

Did you also know what Kara and I drank to celebrate?

If you followed @JeffIsRad on Twitter, there’s a chance that you did.

For the rest of you, here’s what we had…

This wine was given to us as a wedding gift from Jan and Dr. Jan Krupp of Krupp Brothers and Stagecoach Vineyard way back in 2010.  We decided that Valentine’s Day was as good a day as any to break this puppy open and see what it had in store.

So… we took the bottle down to our favorite sushi restaurant, CreAsian, to have a taste…

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Here it is. Black Bart’s Bride.

The wine is a blend of 70% Marsanne and 30% Viognier from the L2 and 14B blocks of Stagecoach Vineyard.  The wine was barrel fermented on its native yeast, went through 100% natural malolactic fermentation, and was aged sur lie for 9 months in 85% new French oak.  It has an awe-inspiring 14.9% alcohol.  The Wine Enthusiast gave it a 93.  Needless to say, this is a wine geek’s dream (Do you hear that, Wine Geek?).

Color: Super yellow golden straw in color.

Nose: White flowers, honeysuckle, and dried apricots.

Taste: This wine is ridiculously big in its mouthfeel.  In spite of its big, oily viscosity, the Bride has a nice, crisp acidity to go with it.  The palate is all flowers, honey, petrol, and mineral.

Score: I really like this wine, but I’m not one to slap a 93 on it like the Enthusiast.  I’m going 89.

Now…

The write-up in the Wine Enthusiast warns that this wine may be a difficult one to pair with other foods, and I agree…

But…

If it’s gonna work with anything, it’s gotta be Asian.

My feeling was that the oiliness of the fish would bring out secondary flavors of the wine.

Sure enough… as we got into the meal, it’s the crisp acidity that continued to be highlighted in the Bride.  It’s that same acidity that helps make the flavors in the food just pop.

Speaking of food…

Here’s what we ate at CreAsian…

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Seaweed Salad

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Sashimi Tacos. My favorite!

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My Soy Sauce, Ginger, and Wasabi. You gotta dip your sushi in this, but I’ll show you what I like to do in a little bit…

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Clockwise from top left: Mount Fuji Roll, Lemon Drop Roll, and Morgan Hill Roll

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Miso Soup. Me so happy!

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Godzilla Roll. The Bomb Dot Net!

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I always like to finish my meal by dumping my Soy Sauce, Ginger, and Wasabi over a bowl of rice. Mmmmmmmmm!!!!!

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Of course, Ice Cream ain’t a bad way to finish things either. *Warning: Do Not Pair this With the White Wine! Yuck!*

And that was Valentine’s Day!

Of course, if you followed @JeffIsRad on Twitter, you probably already knew that.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

Leave a comment below, and tell the world about your Valentine’s Day Food and Wine Pairing.

Find wine and wine-related products on Amazon.

Wine on Tap

September 15, 2012

Look…

I love San Jose.

I love it.

It’s where I went to college.

It’s where I work.

It’s where I lived for my entire 20’s.

In late 2009, Kara and I moved to the neighboring city of Morgan Hill.

As much as I love MH, it’s a world away from SJ.

Unlike other bordering cities like Los Gatos, Campbell, and Santa Clara, Morgan Hill has a good stretch of country between it and San Jose.

Consequently, outside of going to work, I don’t spend as much time in San Ho as I used to.

Luckily, there are plenty of places that keep calling me back to my favorite city.

About a year ago, my buddy Dave introduced us to The San Pedro Square Market.  It’s a collection of shops and eateries in downtown San Jose where you can meet up with friends to get a bite to eat, some dope drinks, and just hang out.

Last night, Kara and I decided to hit up a wine bar inside the Market called Vino Vino.

The slogan of this place is “Wine Without Attitude”.  The idea is that they focus on serving good wine and food in a laid back “neighborhood bar”-type of environment.

While they do offer wines by the bottle, most folks tent to gravitate towards the local wines that they offer on tap for eight dollars a glass.

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Wines on Tap

Before I get to the wine, I wanted to show you the dope Panini I had for dinner…

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Italian Meat and Cheese Panini and Seasonal Mixed Greens in Lemon Vinaigrette

A textural and flavorful sensation…

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But that wine looks good too…

I was very familiar with the majority of the local wines that they had on tap, so I was stoked to see that they carried a few wines from Nottingham Cellars of Livermore… A winery that I’d never heard of.

My first glass was the Nottingham Cellars 2010 Awakening GSM.  This Rhone style blend is made of 57% Syrah, 28% Mourvedre, and 15% Grenache.  I was very happy with its balance of juicy red fruit and racing acidity.  It’s a perfect wine to pair with (you guessed it) an Italian Meat & Cheese Panini.

Next up, I tried the Nottingham Cellars 2009 Aguirre Vineyard Malbec.  This one showed much more restraint in its red fruit… While present, the juice gave way to a nice, earthy herbaciousness.  This is not an Argentinian fruit bomb.  It’s much better.

I recommend trying either of these wines on tap.  For eight bucks a glass, you really can’t go wrong.

In fact…

I kind of wish I had one right now.

Yet another reason to take a quick trip to San Jose.

Good thing I know the way.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

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…

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

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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…

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Porktera BBQ

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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.

Next…

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Smoke Slayers

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

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Pulled Pork Taco? Nice!

On to the ribs…

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Smoke Slayers’ Rib Tips

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

Next…

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Canyon Riders BBQ

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

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I chose the Sweet N’ Mild.

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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…

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Big Ass Line

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

So Kara and I jumped on in…

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Kara and Jeff in Line

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

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Bad S BBQ

This is what I got…

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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…

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Firecracker Shrimp

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

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Big Ed’s Buzzard BBQ

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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…

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The smoking section…

And ended up here…

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Epiquerean Social BBQ

And Kara got this…

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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…

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People’s Choice

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

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Bad S gets my vote!

So I ask you…

What’s your favorite BBQ?

Stay Rad,

Jeff

Port-Land (See what I did there?)

May 2, 2012

You know how I feel about Bubbles Wine Bar in Morgan Hill

I love it.

Check the food I had there last Friday…

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New York Crostini with Rare Steak, Horseradish, Peppers, and Capers. Mmmmmm…

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Only the dopest of the dope Oysters. Mmmmmm to the hella…

When you’ve got great food, great wine, and a great atmosphere, you don’t want the afternoon to end…

And yet…

It must.

So Kara and I decided to have one more round before we walked back home.

For me, there’s only one choice when finishing of a nice evening…

Port!

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Graham’s Six Grapes Port

Graham’s Six Grapes Port is referred to on their website as “the everyday Port for the Vintage Port drinker.”  Considering I don’t drink Port every day, and have yet to consume a Vintage Port, you can take this review how you like…

Color: Dark inky purple.  I mean… c’mon… What did you expect?

Nose: Nutty grape and plum juice.

Taste: The Six Grapes comes in at 20% alcohol.  And let me tell you… You can feel that heat.  Beyond that, it’s goopy grape juice with a nice nutty backbone.

Score: This is not a very complex Port, but it’s not really meant to be.  What is undeniable is that it is tasty.  For that, Graham’s, I’ll give you an 86.

You know…

The Six Grapes got me thinking.

Dessert wines are always going to have residual sugar.  They are always crafted to be tasty, sweet treats.  The delicious factor is always going to give dessert wines an edge, so I’m wondering…

Should there be a different scale for rating dessert wines?

What do you think?

Stay Rad,

– Jeff

So long, Sam Wo: The Best Little Secret Everybody Knew About

April 22, 2012

My dad grew up San Bruno, California. It’s a little city just south of South San Francisco. So, pretty much, my dad grew up in San Francisco.

He’s told me plenty of stories about growing up in The City.

When the Giants moved out to San Francisco from New York, my dad and his friends would ride their bikes to Candlestick Park to see Willie Mays play. This bike ride, I am told, involved riding across the freeway… That’s crazy!

When the Giants were out of town, he and his buddies would play at the airport. The friggin’ airport! That’s crazy!

When the Fourth of July was coming up, they would head over to the back alleys of China Town to buy firecrackers. That’s crazy!

In a word, my dad is CRAZY!

As a kid, I was so jealous of all the crazy stuff my dad was able to do with his friends just due to his proximity to The City.

I grew up in Ben Lomond, California. No baseball team. No airport. No China Town.

When I was in junior high, I mentioned to my friends about how my dad used to get firecrackers in China Town. A few of them suggested that we get my dad to take us up to find some. When I asked my dad, I was a little shocked when he said yes.

“Sure I’ll take you guys. And while we’re up there, I’ll take you to the coolest restaurant you’ve ever seen.”

So one Saturday morning, I jumped into my dad’s car with my ol’ buddy Dave Thevegetarian and my neighbor K.T. to get us some firecrackers. We got to China Town around noon.

We spent about an hour roaming from shop to shop and alley to alley, with my dad asking around about firecrackers. My dad, who at the time looked like Ned Flanders from the Simpsons, figured out that if there were firecrackers to be sold nobody was going to sell them to him. So… we gave up our search.

Next on the agenda was lunch.

“This place,” my dad told us, “is my spot. I’ve been going here since I was in high school. Nobody knows about it.”

We came up on a skinny little storefront that read, “Sam Wo”. When I peeked through the front door, all I saw was a dirty old kitchen.

“Where’s the restaurant?” I asked my dad.

“Follow me, boys!” My dad just walked right into the kitchen toward a set of stairs in the back. Feeling a bit weird about it, we stepped into the kitchen along with him and began to walk up the stairs.

Once we reached the second floor, we walked into a narrow dining room and were seated right next to the window overlooking the neighborhood. As far as the decor or the dining room, there really wasn’t much to speak of. It was your typical run-down Chinese restaurant. Then my dad pointed out the dumbwaiter…

“Since the kitchen is on the first floor,” he told us, “the chef will put our food on that elevator in the wall, and it will come up to us.”

What!?!?

First we walk through the kitchen, now there’s an elevator for my food?

“This place is the bomb!” I exclaimed.

Dave and K.T. high-fived each other and said, “Word!”

I don’t remember what the food tasted like that day…

I don’t even remember what I ordered.

What I do remember is that I went to this totally bad ass Chinese restaurant called Sam Wo, and nobody knows about it.

Let’s fast forward…

When I was finishing up college at San Jose State University, my good buddy from high school, JR Fromgirls, moved up to San Francisco from Santa Cruz. When he first moved to The City, my buddy Sue and I would often go up to hang out with him.

Each time we came to visit, JR would take us to a hip new place to eat that nobody had ever heard about.

So one night, after drinking a few soda pops at JR’s apartment, we hopped into a cab to go get some food. “I’m gonna take you to the coolest Chinese restaurant in The City,” he told us, “… and nobody knows about it.”

After we stumbled out of the cab, I looked up at the sign on the restaurant.

“Sam Wo?” I read aloud, “I’ve totally been here!”

“No you haven’t,” JR responded, “Nobody knows about this place. You have to walk in through the kitchen.”

Let’s fast forward one last time, shall we?

Last Friday morning, while I was getting ready to go to work, I spotted that familiar Sam Wo sign on the morning news. I turned up the volume in time to catch the anchorman reporting that Sam Wo would be closing up shop.

Here’s a report about it.

It felt weird hearing the news. I’ve only been to Sam Wo twice in my life, and yet I felt really sad about it.

If anyone were to ever ask me where to eat in China Town, I would always tell them about Sam Wo… You know… The place where you walk in through the kitchen.

Nobody even knew about this place… You have to walk in through the kitchen!

It was my dad’s spot.

It was JR’s spot.

It was my spot.

It was Conan O’Brien’s spot…

Apparently… It was everybody’s spot.

But…

It made you feel like you were a part of it.

So…

This weekend, I figured that I would pay tribute to Sam Wo by getting me some Chinese food.

To pay tribute to my readers, I figured I would try to pair my meal with a wine.

Chinese food is not an easy thing to pair wine with.

There’s so many different flavor profiles that you are working with…

Sweet.

Sour.

Spicy.

Earthy.

Salty.

Chinese food has it all.

My suggestion is that if you are going to pair a wine with Chinese food, try to stick with one flavor theme.

When I called up China Palace in Morgan Hill to make my to-go order, I decided to go with Earthy and savory flavors.

Here’s what I got…

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Tea Smoked Duck w/ Dumplings and Duck Sauce, Pork Chow Mein, and Steamed Rice w/ Mad Soy Sauce

If you’ve never had Tea Smoked Duck before, get on it!

The duck is very Earthy, and smokey, and just plain dope.

As far as pairing, I had a couple of wines in mind.  I think a well-made, balanced Zinfandel would work well.  I would also like to try this meal with a spicy Merlot.

In the end, I felt like a Rioja would be the way to go.  I often get a minty, tea-like quality from Tempranillo (the main grape from Rioja).  Why wouldn’t it work with a Tea Smoked Duck?

Here’s what I chose…

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I got the Campo Viejo 2006 Rioja Reserva for 13 bucks from Safeway. You can find this in most grocery stores.

Campo Viejo 2006 Rioja Reserva:

This Rioja is made of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Craciano, and 5% Mazuelo.  It spends 18 months in the barrel and another 18 months in the bottle before it is released.  The Campo Viejo comes in at 13.5% alcohol.

Color: Dark brick red.

Nose: This nose is a fun one.  There’s a nice balance of sun-dried tomato and raspberry.  There is a minty aroma, along with tea, smoke, and cedar.

Taste: Raspberry and blackberry fruit up front.  There is a long finish of tea spice and acid.  There are pretty, supple tannins in this one.

Pairings: The duck has these rich, Earthy, and gamey notes.  The wine makes the tea smoke pop.  The chow mein has bright pork flavors and Earthy noodles.  It brings out the blackberry notes in the wine.  The buttery and starchy flavors of the rice lift up the oak notes of the Rioja.

Score: I’ve got to say, this was a great pick.  I’m a genius.  Give it a 90.

Oh yeah…

I almost forgot…

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The fortune cookie brings out a creaminess in the wine that is just rad.

Now that’s what I call good fortune.

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... in bed.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

“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,

Jeff

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.

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Morgan Hill Cellars 2007 Sauvignon Blanc

Sure, the Sauvignon Blanc was okay…

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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!

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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.

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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…

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Guglielmo 2008 Private Reserve Syrah from the bottle.

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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.

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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…

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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).

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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…

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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.

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

They do also make a very legit Syrah…

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Jason-Stephens 2007 Estate Syrah

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

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.

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Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in a San Jose Sharks glass.

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Boxcar Burger and Fries

Mmmmmmmm…

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,

Jeff


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