Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

Tasting My Way through #ZinFest2013 from A to Zin

February 6, 2013

Zinfandel gets a bad rap.

People who aren’t much into wine often think that Zin is supposed to be white… and that’s disrespectful.

Some folks who say they are way into wine think that Zin is just a high alcohol fruit bomb.  They won’t even touch the stuff… and that’s hella disrespectful.

Luckily, the fine folks at ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) have made it their mission to give Zin the love and respect that it deserves.  For the last 22 years, they have been putting on the annual Zinfandel Festival in San Francisco.  It is currently the largest single-variety wine festival in the world.  This past Saturday, I got to attend the Grand Tasting at The Concourse event center as a member of the media to see what was up with America’s Heritage Wine…




The Concourse is a HUGE event center… and the Zinfandel Festival is a HUGE event.  With just around 200 of the best Zinfandel producers in one place, you’ve got to have a plan.  My plan is a three-parter…

Step One: Eat.



Eat a lot.

Say Cheese!

Say Cheese!

Step Two: Spit.


Step Three: Pick one winery for each letter of the alphabet.

Start with A, and work your way to Z.


Let’s Begin!

A is for:


Adelaida Cellars from Paso Robles: This 2010 offering from Michael’s Vineyard brings some delicious blue and black fruit.

B is for:


Bedrock Wine Company from Sonoma Valley: Winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson made a delicious, high-toned wine with this 2011 Saitone Ranch juice.

C is for:


Chateau Montelena Winery from Calistoga: Probably better known for their Cabs, and a certain Chardonnay that won the Tasting of Paris in 1976, the magnum of their 2009 Estate Zinfandel brought almost a Bordeaux like quality to the palate. Mad earthy tobacco. Nice!

D is for:


Dashe Cellars from Oakland: This was the first of many urban wineries from the East Bay that I had the pleasure of tasting. This 2009 Louvau Vineyard Zinfandel had some tasty tomato and tobacco notes to it.

E is for:


Edmeades Winery from Mendocino County: The 2009 Shamrock Vineyard had a nice balance of bright and dark fruits.

F is for:


Frank Family Vineyards from Calistoga: Tomato. Tobacco. Plum. Soft tannins. A great Zin from the Napa Valley.

G is for:


Grgich Hills Estate from Rutherford: From the winery of the winemaker from Croatia that made a certain Chardonnay for a certain winery that won the Tasting of Paris in 1976, Grgich Hills makes a bright leathery 2009 Zin…


They also know their history. Plavac Mali is the Croatian Godfather of Zinfandel. This 2008 PM is super clean up front with dry, tart tannins.

H is for:


Hunt Cellars from Chatsworth: The 2007 Rocket Man Zin is super jammy and raisin-like with bright acidity.  It’s $75.  It’s also the cheapest Zin they listed in the tasting program.  Most wineries were bringing quality juice at half that price.  Just sayin’.

I is for:


Ironstone Vineyards from Murphys: This 2009 Reserve Rous Vineyard was very bright and balanced.

J is for:


JC Cellars from Oakland: Another great urban winery. The 2010 Impostor had these great dusty tannins to round out its tasty cranberry fruit. Fantastic! JC Cellars was one of my favorite producers of the tasting.

K is for:


Klinker Brick Winery from Lodi: Bright fruit. Powdery tannins. Not bad.

L is for:


Lava Cap Winery from Placerville: Even some of the better Zinfandel makers can go a little overboard.  Lava Cap did a great job showing how tasty a Zin can be when restraint is used.  Good cranberry fruit.  Tasty minerality.  Vibrant.

M is for:


Mauritson Family Winery from Healdsburg: This barrel sample of the 2012 Rockpile Jack’s Cabin Zinfandel brought some beautiful notes of orange zest and chocolate. Yum!

N is for:

20130206-185952.jpg from The Internet: These guys sell wines for a bunch of small producers. I didn’t like any of the wines they brought, but you may find some gems on their website.

O is for:


Ottimino from Occidental: The 2009 Rancho Bello Vineyard brought some good dark fruit and tomato flavors. Really good.

P is for:


Pech Merle Winery from Rohnert Park: The 2010 Treborce Vineyard has an oily raspberry type of feel. Very interesting.

Q is for:


Proulx from Paso Robles: Look… There weren’t any Q wines. Another P is close enough. I’m glad I hit up this winery. The 2010 Reserve Black Label Willow Creek Farm Zin is big, but has mad balance. This is a confident wine.

R is for:


Rock Wall Wine Company from Alameda: Another fantastic urban winery, Rock Wall makes some killer, single vineyard Zins. The 2010 Harris Kratka has some delicious bright berry fruit.



Rosenblum Cellars from Napa: The 2009 Monte Rosso Reserve has some massive bright candy fruit. Hella concentrated. Hella delicious.

S is for:


Saldo by Orin Swift from Napa: The 2010 issue of this Zin blend is loaded full of concentrated dark candy.

T is for:


The Prisoner by Orin Swift from Rutherford: Another Zin blend from Orin Swift, but so different. The 2011 Prisoner has bright red fruit with a rich body. Nice. Yes… This wine should be listed under P… But if you don’t like it, you can sit on a tack.

U is for:


Turley Wine Cellars from Saint Helena: The 2011 Hayne Vineyard Barrel Sample is super deep and lovely. I’d love to taste this when it’s finally released.  Yes… U is the second letter of Turley, and that’s close enough for me.

V is for:


V. Sattui Winery from Saint Helena: The 2012 Crow Ridge Vineyards Zin is packed full of bright fruit goodness.

W is for:


Wine Guerrilla from Forestville: The 2010 Monte Rosso is a fantastically reserved interpretation of a typically concentrated vineyard. I loved it.

X is for:


Mazzocco Winery from Geyserville: X marks the spot, and everyone in Northern Sonoma County knows that this is the spot to try a ridiculous amount of tasty Zins. The 2010 Maple brings some massive fruit. Very nice.

Y is for:


McNab Ridge Winery from Ukiah: Y? Why not? The 2009 Zinister had a great contrast between bright and dark fruits.

Z is for:


Zin Alley Winery and Vineyards from Templeton: These guys are a super small producer in Paso Robles. The 2010 Zin is big on fruit, acidity, and alcohol.

And that’s the Zinfandel Festival from A to Zin.

After tasting through 27 wineries and 74 wines…

I needed a drink.


Ridge Vineyards


Stay Rad,


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Fantasy Baseball 2011: Halfway to Glory!

June 20, 2011

I’ve been playing fantasy sports since 2001.  It started as a way to keep in touch with one of my long time high school friends when he was living in another state.  It did not take long, however, for this hobby to become an obsession.

The first league I took part in was of the fantasy football variety.  I’ve always been a San Francisco 49ers fan, but I never really paid attention to the rest of the NFL.  In that first season, I had a horrible draft, I didn’t win a game until week 8 (Thank you Trung Canidate!), and I got hosed in the worst trade of all time (I traded Steven Davis for Doug Flutie and Larry Centers!).  In a word, I was UNPREPARED.

In the seasons to follow, I learned the value of watching more games, reading injury reports, and listening to “experts”.  I realized that the more time you put into the game, the better your team would perform.  Don’t get me wrong.  Luck plays a HUGE role in the success of your team, but hard work is what puts you in the position to win it all.  It was not long until I won my first Fantasy Football Championship.

Football is the perfect sport for an introduction into fantasy.  Most people already watch it.  Each team only plays 16 games in the season.  There’s a limited number of players on each team that can earn you points.  And let’s be honest… Football is just RAD.

I have played other fantasy sports.  I did fantasy basketball for two seasons, but gave it up after I lost out on the championship because of a tie-breaker.  For the last two seasons, I’ve played fantasy hockey.  I hate hockey, but my buddy asked me to play, so you know…  I won the championship my first year, and came in second this last year.  If I had to choose my favorite fantasy sport though, it would have to be baseball.

My first season of fantasy baseball was in 2004.  Much like with my first football league, I came into baseball being unprepared.  My draft was horrible, and my team sucked ass for the first half of the season.  Since the baseball season is so long, I did have time to improve my situation through trades and free agency.  Although I finished 9th out of 12 teams, I knew that if I worked hard enough, I could eventually master fantasy baseball.

Here’s how I’ve done over the years in my hardcore fantasy baseball league…

Year:       Team Name:                                              Place:

2004       The Sweet High Heat                               9th of 12

2005       Tha Team Builders                                   6th of 12

2006       A Dumb Owner                                         3rd of 12

2007       The Vampire Bats                                     4th of 12

2008      The Mythical Beasts                                  8th of 14

2009      The Witty Retorts                                      4th of 14

2010       Big Papa Shango                                        4th of 14

Before the 2010 season, we decided to turn our league into keeper league, in which you can keep up to 3 players by drafting each player a round earlier than you got them the year before.

My keepers going into this season were Andrés Torres (12th round), Nick Swisher (13th round), and CJ Wilson (20th) round.  Midway through the season, Here’s what my current roster looks like…

Chris Iannetta – C

Carlos Pena – 1B

Ben Zobrist – 2B

Alex Gordon – 3B

Troy Tulowitzki – SS

Logan Morrison – OF

Nick Swisher – OF

Shin-Soo Choo – OF

Bobby Abreu – OF

Andrés Torres – Util

Jayson Werth – Util

Raul Ibanez – Util

Ryan Roberts – Util

Edwin Encarnacion – Bench

Ryan Dempster – SP

David Price – SP

Derek Holland – SP

Carlos Marmol – RP

Rafael Betancourt – RP

Leo Nunez – P

Tyler Clippard – P

Chad Qualls – P

CJ Wilson – P

Eduardo Sanchez – DL

Brad Lidge – DL

I have 3 other roster spots that I use to stream pitchers.

So here’s the deal.  My team does not look good.  There’s nothing sexy about it.  I’m middle of the pack in home runs and runs batted in.  My batting average is horrible.  My most dominant statistic is walks, for crying out loud!

With all that said, at the halfway point of the season, guess whose team is in first place?

I’ll give you a second…

That’s right!  Mine!

Big Papa Shango is in first place by a game and a half!

I’ve been asked what the appeal is with fantasy sports.  For me, the answer is simple.

I pride myself in being right… ALWAYS.  If I am beating you in fantasy sports, what it means is that I am RIGHT.  I’m running my team the right way.  I’m making the right decisions.  I picked up the right pitcher on the right day.

If I beat you, that means I’m better than you.

The problem with fantasy baseball is that I haven’t won a league yet.  I’ve been in first place before.  I’ve dominated all season long.  The playoffs, however, are a different story.  When it comes to the playoffs, that’s when my team usually lets me down.  As much as I get a kick out of winning, it’s the losing that sticks with me.  Losing is Hell.  Until I win a championship in fantasy baseball, I will never be able to have peace.

Fantasy baseball is my Mount Everest.  Halfway done, I’m feeling good.  Just half a season more ’til glory.  Glorious glory.

Wish me luck… and stay rad,


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