Posts Tagged ‘Santa Clara Valley’

Happy #ChardonnayDay!

May 23, 2013

 

Today is #ChardonnayDay!

I ain’t gonna lie…

This mofo snuck up on me this year.

Luckily, I had this bad boy on hand…

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Jason-Stephens 2012 Estate Select Chardonnay

100% of the grapes from the Jason-Stephens 2012 Estate Select Chardonnay come from their vineyard in the back woods of the Santa Clara Valley.  Jason-Stephens does two Chards.  The Estate Chardonnay is 100% Stainless Steel fermented and aged, while the Estate Select sees a fair amount of oak and goes through secondary malolactic fermentation.  It’s 14.5% alcohol, and retails for 30 bucks.

Color: Bright straw yellow.

Nose: Very clean nose of green apple, lime, pear, and wet rocks.

Taste: There’s a good weight to this wine.  It’s got a big initial hit of toasty oak up front, which quickly gives way to buttered green apple, minerals, and lime zest.

Score: This wine is pleasant, but the finish is a bit awkward.  All-in-all, it’s a solid effort from one of my favorite local wineries.  86+

While tasting the wine, I put together a quick little Indian dish for dinner…

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Basmati Rice with Curried Chickpeas and a Samosa that One of my Students gave me for the Last Day of School

Pairing: The acid of the wine plays well with the lemongrass of the curry.  It really makes the spices pop.  What a great pairing… I rule!

Stay Rad,

Jeff

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Barrel Tasting in the Santa Clara Valley

February 15, 2013

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

So…

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

Here’s where we went…

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Guglielemo Winery

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Up Next…

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Clos La Chance Winery

Sycamore Creek Vineyards and Winery

Sycamore Creek Vineyards and Winery

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

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Trying some Charbono at Fortino Winery

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Thomas Kruse Winery

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Satori Cellars

Not a bad day, if you ask me…

The wine was good too.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

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

Find wine and wine-related products on Amazon.

I’ve seen the View, and I like what I see.

June 18, 2012

Creekview Vineyards is a family owned and operated winery in San Martin, California.  I’ve been aware of their wines for a while.  They usually participate in local wine events, and I’ve even been to their tasting room in Downtown San Jose.

However…

I’ve never been to their actual winery.

They, like many Santa Clara Valley wineries that are located in residential neighborhoods, are only open for tasting on the third weekend of each month.

This past Saturday, Kara and I realized that they were open (thanks to our friend Barrel Bill), so we headed on over to the winery…

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Creekview Vineyards Winery / House

The winery is also the home of the owners, Greg and Teri Peterson.

After parking on the street, we followed the signs to the back of their house.

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This way…

As we walked up, we were greeted immediately by Teri and Greg, and were poured a taste of sparkling white wine…

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What a way to start the day.

After our first glass, the hits just kept on coming…

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Creekview 2010 Chardonnay

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Creekview 2010 VCR Merlot

While enjoying the Merlot, I took a peek around their backyard, which they have set up perfectly for wine club events…

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Creekview’s Kitchen, complete with a pizza oven.

When you’re there, it’s almost impossible to recognize any evidence that their house is a fully functioning winemaking facility…

Until you take a look beyond their outdoor kitchen…

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Yup… They make wine here.

Back to the wine…

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Creekview 2009 Melodious is their Bordeaux Blend.

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Creekview 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

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Creekview 2009 Old Vine Mourvedre

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Creekview 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel

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Creekview 2009 Syrah

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Creekview 2008 Zinfandel

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Creekview 2007 Late Harvest Zinfandel

I’ve gotta say that all these wines were really good.

Kara and I picked up a bottle of the 2008 Zinfandel.  It’s probably the best Santa Clara Valley Zin I’ve ever tasted.  Where many tend to be overly ripe and hot on the palate, this one is very reserved.

Do yourself a favor the next time you find yourself free on the third weekend of the month…

Head on down to the Santa Clara Valley and hit up some of the smaller tasting rooms.

You’ll be glad you did.

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

Where did everybody go? A lazy Sunday at Sarah’s Vineyard.

January 16, 2012

I know.  I know.

Sundays tend to be pretty quiet… for many a reason.

Fridays and Saturdays are meant for staying up late.  For going all out.

I get it.

Sundays are all about rest… recovery… relaxation.

You’ve got to recharge for the work week.

Sundays are meant for TV’s and burritos.

But not this Sunday.

Not in the middle of the weekend when we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Not when we have Monday off.

Not all of us.

Not most of us.

But many of us.

At least more than usual.

Not on a clear day in the mid sixties in the middle of January.

On days like this, you must go wine tasting.

You must.

How else are you going to celebrate life… That, and a Forty Niner victory.

So, when Kara and I showed up to Sarah’s Vineyard in Gilroy, I just had to wonder…

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Where did everybody go? A lazy day at Sarah's Vineyard.

When we walked through the doors of the tasting room at Sarah’s Vineyard, we were shocked to discover that we were the only guests there.

At one o’clock.

On a Sunday.

During a three-day weekend.

When the wine is this good!

Here’s how it went down…

Sarah’s Vineyard 2010 Jour de Joie:

This is a very clean white Rhone blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc.  Nice floral notes, with a touch of oak.  A bit oily, but in a good way.  Give it an 86+.

One thing that’s neat about the location of Sarah’s Vineyard is that straddles both the Santa Cruz Mountains and Santa Clara Valley appellations.  Both growing their own grapes, and sourcing from nearby vineyards, they have the ability to display the microclimatic influences of fruit that is grown just a few miles apart.  This is never more true when we were able to compare two of their current Chardonnays.

Sarah’s Vineyard 2009 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay:

This Chardonnay has some good red apple and asian pear fruit, rounded out by lemon-flavored acidity and custard.  A food-friendly wine that can stand on its own.  87+

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Sarah's Vineyard 2009 Central Coast Chardonnay

Sarah’s Vineyard 2009 Central Coast Chardonnay:

In contrast with the Santa Cruz Mountains effort, this Central Coast Chardonnay is a citrus-driven wine.  Think grapefruit juice and orange zest.  There is a beautiful, creamy finish to this one.  Give it a solid 88.

Sarah’s Vineyard 2008 Cote de Madone:

A Silver Medal winner in the 2011 SF Chronicle Wine Competition, one could consider the Cote de Madone Rhone blend to be their flagship wine.  This blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignane, and Counoise brings a dark red to purple color to the glass.  There is a huge nose of cherry and leather.  The palate is loaded with dark fruit, spice, and a rich, meaty finish.  Good stuff!  89

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Sarah's Vineyard 2007 Fifty Fifty

Sarah’s Vineyard 2007 Fifty Fifty:

Sometimes, you don’t have to over-complicate wine.  Sometimes you just do an even blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and let the fruit speak for itself.  This wine is simple.  This wine is reserved.  This wine has depth.  Cherries and blueberries up front give way to a long finish of leather and spice.  The subtle use of oak allows the Santa Clara Valley to speak to your palate.  My palate likes what it hears.  89+

Sarah’s Vineyard 2007 Santa Cruz Mountains Merlot:

A great nose of soil and chocolate.  The palate is dominated by juicy dark cherries and fine tannins.  A very nice cool-climate Merlot.  89

To finish off our flight, our server poured us something special…

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Sarah's Vineyard 2007 Nuits d'Enfer... Yeah... It's special.

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Say it with me... "New-Ee Dawn-Fair!"

Sarah’s Vineyard 2007 Nuits d’Enfer:

Have you ever “painted the town red”?  That’s what it means when a French dude talks about the “Nights of Hell” (the literal translation of Nuits d’Enfer).  This red wine is mainly Merlot, with a touch of Charbono and Cabernet Sauvignon.  There is a BIG hit of blue and black fruit on this nose.  On the palate, the wine is powdery fine with its tannic structure.  Good blueberry fruit gives way to tobacco and spice.  At 20 bucks, this is a great wine if you plan on tying one on… Or… if you just wanna taste something really good.  You should get this.  90+

We had a great time as Sarah’s Vineyards, and you will too.

Lazy Sundays be damned.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

Everything’s coming up Rosés: A three bottle throwdown.

June 16, 2011

Yesterday, Kara and I did a little tasting at Guglielmo Winery.  I originally went there with the intention of tasting and scoring EVERY wine we tasted.  Things did not go as planned.  The problem was that a tasting room is not an ideal space to score wines.  Too many people.  Too many wines.  Too many distractions.  That, and it’s embarrassing to write down a score in front of people working for the winery you are scoring.

I will say that I had a great time there.  None of their wines felt like must-haves, but Guglielmo is a fun place to be.  All of their wines fall in that 83 – 89 point range for me.  All of the people that work there are more like 92’s.  Great, great folks and a neat place to visit if you are ever visiting the Santa Clara Valley.

The wine that stuck out the most to me was the 2010 Estate Grown Rosatello.  It was an interesting rosé wine made from the grignolino grape (a super nerdy varietal from Italy).  Guglielmo claims to be one of only two wineries in California to grow the grape in any significant quantities.  The wine seemed food-friendly enough, so I purchased a bottle for $16.

I’m not a HUGE rosé drinker, so it is a tough category for me to score (It’s tough to type too.  Alt + 0233 = é).  Part of this blog experience is to try new things.  So how do I transition from a novice into an expert on pink wines?

THE THREE BOTTLE THROWDOWN!

This morning, I picked up two more bottles of Rosé from Trader Joe’s to compare against the Rosatello.  One from the Rioja of Spain ($6.99) and one from the Rhone of France ($4.99).  I know what wines I have purchased, but I will not know which of the three I am drinking until after I take my notes.  I had Kara pour the wines into three different glasses…

The three Rosés were labeled with wine charms: "Red", "White", and "Blue". In the battle between Spain, France, and the USA, I think we all know who should win... or do we?

After I taste the wines, I’ll see which one is which.  Wish me luck…

Wine #1:

"Red": You know what time it is!

Color:  This is the darkest wine of the bunch.  It haa a cool blood-orange type of color.

Nose:  There is a really pretty nose to this one.  Peach skin, oranges, and licorice dominate the nose.  There is a strong minerality that is rounded out with a hint of strawberry.

Taste:  This is what I would expect a Rosé to taste like.  Very dry.  There’s a nice orange and peach fruit to this, but the wine is much more driven by its minerality and acidity.  There is a long rubbery finish that I really like.  My guess is that this is the French Rose.

Wine #2:

"White": More like orange! Heyohhhhhh!!!!!!

Color:  The color is a very dull, very light, orange tint.

Nose:  The nose is very tight.  There are hints of sugar and salt.  There’s a subtle touch of peach.

Taste:  The first second of the taste was salty minerality.  This flavor gave way in an instant to a beautiful mouth full of cream and licorice.  It has some oak notes that remind me of a California red wine.  I really like this!  I’m thinking that this is the Spanish Rose.

Wine #3:

"Blue": The candle is for Evan.

Color:  The color on this wine is almost identical to that of the second (“White”) wine.  Light, dull, and orange.

Nose:  The nose is giving subtle hints of peach and minerals.

Taste:  All I can think of when tasting this wine is the viscosity.  This wine is the thickest of them all.  There’s a light acidity and minerality.  This wine would go well with food, but mostly because it would not get in the way of the food.  I doubt, however, that it would do anything to enhance the food experience.  This wine confused me.  It’s not bad.  It’s pleasant.  It just doesn’t bring much to the table.

Now…

The scores have been tallied, and the I’ve seen what’s what.  Here are the results from worst to first.

In last place…

Marques de Caceres 2009 Dry Rose Wine. Rioja, Spain. This wine made me "Blue".

I originally gave the Marques de Caceres an 85+, but the more I thought about it, the more I disliked it.  Again, it is not bad.  The problem is that for 7 bucks, I can find at least two wines that are significantly better in a similar price range.  Give it an 82 with shrugged shoulders.

In second…

Cellier du Rhone 2009 Cotes du Rhone Rose. "Red" and Rad!

The Cellier du Rhone is a steal at 5 bucks a bottle!  Give it an 86.  This is what I want from a summer time rosé.

And in First Place…

Guglielmo Private Reserve 2010 Estate Grown Rosatello. Santa Clara Valley, California. In spite of the look, this is NOT a crappy "White" zin.

The Guglielmo Rosatello is not your typical rose.  I am, however, in love with the creaminess of this wine.  Give it an 88 and save it for a hot summer afternoon.

So, there you have it.  I don’t know if I’m an expert yet, but I think I learned a lot today.

Take it away, Ethel.

Stay Rad,

Jeff


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