Posts Tagged ‘Stay Rad’

Rosemary, Spinach, and Walnut Pesto: A Recipe By Request

June 16, 2012

The other day, the fine folks at Rodney Strong Vineyards came across my post in which I paired their 2008 Alexander Valley Cabernet with Kara’s Rosemary, Spinach, and Walnut Pesto Pasta and Crusty Bread…



After sharing the post on their Facebook page, there was quite a response from the fans of Rodney Strong.

They wanted the recipe.


Screen grab from my iPhone. Looks like I forgot to charge it last night.

Who am I to deny such a devoted fan base?

Keep in mind that this dish was whipped up on the spot after a few glasses of wine, but this is pretty accurate (as far as we remember).


Ladies and gentlemen…

Kara’s Rosemary, Spinach, and Walnut Pesto:

Get out a big pot of water and bring to a boil.  Salt that water, and add in your favorite dry pasta (or fresh, if you’re a baller).  Cook according to instructions.

While the pasta is doing its thang, get out your food processor.  Throw in a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach, two coarsely chopped cloves of garlic, a handful of chopped walnuts.  Get yourself 5 big twigs of fresh rosemary from your garden, the grocery store, or your neighbors hedge and pull the leaves off of the stems by pulling against the grain.  Scoop up all that rosemary and toss it in the food processor as well.  Drizzle in about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and top it off with fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt.  Put on the lid, and pulse the food processor until the pesto reaches the consistency that you desire.  If it’s too chunky, you can add more olive oil or even a bit of water.  Be sure to taste the pesto along the way, and add more salt or pepper if needed.

Once your pesto is looking, feeling, and tasting right, pour half of the pesto into a large serving bowl.  Once the pasta is ready, drain it, and dump it over the pesto in the serving bowl.  Scoop the rest of your pesto over the top of the pasta, and mix everything up until the pasta is evenly coated with pesto.

Serve in a soup bowl, and garnish with a big slice of warm crusty bread.

Eat it with a fork.

Though it paired very nicely with the big tobacco flavors of the Rodney Strong 2008 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, I could also see this working well with a minty Rioja or a well-balanced Merlot.


Stay Rad,


Matt Cain and the Perfect Game

June 13, 2012

Stop what you’re doing.


It’s what you must do when history is in the making.

It’s what you must do when history has been made.




Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants

In the 130 years of the franchise, no Giants player has ever pitched a perfect game.

Tonight, Matt Cain made history.

Tonight, Matt Cain faced 27 batters over 9 innings.

Tonight, none of those 27 batters reached first base.

No hits.

No walks.

No nothin’.

Tonight, Matt Cain pitched a perfect game.


He didn’t do it alone.

What’s a perfect wine without bread and cheese?


Cheese. Bread.

What’s a perfect game without perfect plays?

Gregor Blanco and the Perfect Catch

Tonight, everything came together.

Tonight, there was balance.

Tonight, Matt Cain was the Ridge 2001 Monte Bello…


Ridge 2001 Monte Bello

Tonight, Matt Cain was perfect.

Perfect. Cain.

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,


Groovin’ in the House of TheVegetarian

June 7, 2012

The other day, Kara and I went up to visit the TheVegetarians (Kara and Dave).

Earlier in the day, we did a blind tasting at The Wine Club in San Jose (technically Santa Clara)… But you already knew that… ‘Cause you read it here.

After the tasting, we went back over to the TheVegetarians’ house, so Dave could cook us up some dinner.

But if you’re gonna have dinner, you gotta have wine.

We started with this Chinon I picked up from The Wine Club…


Domaine Fabrice Gasnier 2010 Les Graves Chinon

Color: Dark lava rock red.

Nose: Nice blackberry fruit and leather.  Big notes of green bell pepper.

Taste: This wine is all grip.  The tannins coat your entire mouth with goodness.  The taste is predominantly that of green bell pepper.  There is a good acid to this, with some nice black and blue fruits in the background.

Score: Every time I have a Chinon (Cabernet Fran from the Loire), I walk away happy.  This one was about 16 bucks at The Wine Club.  While some folks may be turned off by the green-ness of this wine, I think the majority of you would be stoked on how interesting it is.  90+

The first course was a big bowl of Torrontes Braised Artichokes…



If I learned anything from my wine and chili experiment, it’s this:

Green plus Green = Fantastic!

The flavors of the Chinon and the artichokes married perfectly.

While Dave started making some pizza, we cracked open a Cotes du Rhone…


Paul Jaboulet Aine 2007 Parallele 45 Cotes Du Rhone and Pizza.

This Cotes du Rhone was like 9 dollars at BevMo.  It’s good.  I know it’s good.  I’ve reviewed it before.  Check it out!

But let’s talk about this pizza…



It looks like Dave has been taking a lesson from Gordon Ramsay and Girls… He’s keeping it simple!

The only thing that is really seasoned here is the dough that he made.  The topping is just fresh mozzarella, basil, and pureed tomatoes.

That’s it!

And it was f-ing delicious!

We ran out of the Cotes du Rhone (and the pizza) pretty quickly, so we uncorked one more wine…


Los Vascos 2009 Cochagua Cabernet Sauvignon, a Chilean wine from the folks who brought you Chateau Lafite Rothschild.  It was like 10 bucks, or something.

Color: Dark ruby-red to purple.

Nose: Blackberries, raspberries, and oak.

Taste: This wine is definitely oak-driven.  The tannins are good, but have a slight astringency to them.  There is a good mix of cranberry fruit and green bell peppers.

Score: All in all, a good wine.  88

Good wine.

Good food.

Good friends.

That’s how you get your groove on.

Stay Rad,


Stay Rad Wine Blog TV Episode 45: Chardonnay, Chalk, and Chips

June 5, 2012

In this episode, Jeff tries a 5 dollar Chardonnay from the Chalk Hill region of Sonoma County with some potato chips…

Wine Tasted:

VINTJS 2009 Chalk Hill Chardonnay

Stay Rad,


It should always be this way… Always.

June 3, 2012


Kara and I were browsing wines at BevMo in Gilroy on Saturday, when Dave TheVegetarian sent me a text inviting me to a Blind Wine Tasting at The Wine Club in San Jose


Cattivera is Italian for “Vegetarian”.

The Wine Club is a sweet wine shop real close to the San Jose International Airport on Coleman Ave…


The Wine Club is technically in Santa Clara, but only by a matter of inches.

It’s been about 2 years since the last time I’ve been there (Kara and I moved out of San Jose in 2009), but getting to do a blind wine tasting of 10 wines for 10 bucks with some good friends was the perfect excuse to head on up to The City.

That’s right…

I just called San Jose “The City”.

The moment we walked into the store, we were warmly greeted by a few of the employees.  After paying for our tasting, and getting our glasses at the front register, we headed over to the corner of the store to check out the lineup…


10 Blind Wines (Note: The wines were poured into used bottles, so as not to give away anything. The four whites at the beginning of the row, for example, are in used Pinot Noir bottles.)

We were each also given a sheet to take notes on, with a list of the 10 types of wines that were to be served…


The Grapes

Armed with our palates and pencils, we were ready to get our taste on…


Wine One

Color: Light straw yellow.

Nose: Peach and lemon, and a tiny bit of grass.

Taste: This wine is all about lime acidity and minerals

My Guess: The touch of grass lead me to think of Sauvignon Blanc.  This had to be a Sancerre (a Loire wine made from Sauvignon Blanc).


Wine Two

Color: Straw yellow.

Nose: Peaches and cream.

Taste: Peaches and limes with a very creamy and viscous mouthfeel.

My Guess: Although we were told that the Chardonnay used would be unoaked, the creaminess lead me to believe that they still used malolactic fermentation.  It has to be Chardonnay.


Wine Three

Color: Light straw yellow.

Nose: All minerals.  Very vibrant.

Taste: This wine is all about acid and rocks.

My Guess: This is Reisling… The way it should be.


Wine Four

Color: This is the lightest straw color of the whole bunch of whites.

Nose: Peaches (I’m noticing a theme here).

Taste: Lemon custard with a good acidity.

My Guess: I’ve got to be honest with you.  The only white that was left on the list was Torrontes… A wine from Argentina.  I’m certain that I’ve had one in the past, but it was before I paid much attention to my wines.  By process of elimination, I had to go with Torrontes.

Let’s get into the reds…


Wine Five

Color: This is a very light burgundy red color.  You can see your fingers through it.

Nose: Awesome!  Think smokey dried ham and tobacco.  Just Awesome!

Taste: There is some cherry fruit up front, but this wine is more Earthy, leafy, dirty, and tobacco-like.

My Guess: Before this wine was even poured, Dave and I were joking around that it has to be a Pinot Noir (since they are typically the lightest reds on a flight).  Sure enough… The color and the nose leave me no other choice than to go with the Pinot.


Wine Six

Color: Really purple.  Like, really.

Nose: Cranberry and blackberry bushes (Note: If you’re not sure what a blackberry bush smells like, please go shove your nose in one).

Taste: Bacon with blueberry and blackberry fruit.  Smokey.  Is that a little black olive on the finish?

My Guess: Because of the smokey components, I originally pegged this one a Syrah… But that black olive got me thinking about Merlot.  After tasting the next wine, I eliminated Syrah and went with Merlot.  This has to be Merlot, right?


Wine Seven

Color: Really.  Dark.  Burgundy red.

Nose: Toffee and coffee.  This nose reminded both Kara and me of the 2011 Monte Bello in an instant.  Very nice.

Taste: Unlike the 2011 Monte Bello, the toffee and coffee smoke on the nose is also present on the palate.  The smoke on this wine is overwhelming.  There is some good dark fruit underneath the smoke.  I just can’t look past the smoke.  It’s smokey, man.

My Guess: The nose made me think of a Bordeaux Blend, but the smoke on the palate screams Syrah to me.  I’m going Syrah.


Wine Eight

Color: Dark burgundy red.

Nose: Boysenberry.  Blackberry.  Plum.  Toffee.  Really nice!

Taste: Tobacco up front gives way to blueberry, blackberry, and plum fruits.  The tannins are chalky, but mildly astringent.

My Guess: This wine had a very velvety mouthfeel.  It just tasted expensive.  It had to be either the Cabernet Sauvignon or the Bordeaux Blend.  After tasting the Ninth wine, I decided that this must be the Bordeaux Blend.


Wine Nine

Color: Dark ruby.

Nose: Plum and blueberries.

Taste: Plum fruit.  Chalky tannins.  Tastes like a Cabernet Sauvignon.

My Guess: This wine is unmistakably Cabernet Sauvignon… Or is it?


Wine Ten

Color: Dark ruby-red.

Nose: Cranberry and raspberry.

Taste: Raspberries, blueberries, and black pepper.  Very ripe.

My Guess: I’ve got to tell you that this totally tastes like a very ripe Zinfandel.  Zinfandel is also the only grape left on the list.  It also didn’t hurt that early on in the tasting, another costomer was overheard saying, “I can’t believe that last wine was a Zin!”

Now that I had my notes…


My Notes

It was time for the reveal…


And the wines are…

1. 2010 Mathias & Emil Roblin Sancerre “Origine” – My Guess of Sancerre was Right!

2. 2010 Pircas Negras Torrontes – My Guess of Chardonnay was Wrong : (

3. 2008 Dr. Nagler Reisling Trocken Rheingau – My Guess of Reisling was Right!

4. 2011 Saracina Chardonnay Unoaked, Mendocino County – My Guess of Torrontes was Wrong : (

5. NV JK Carriere Pinot Noir “Provacateur”, Willamette Valley – My Guess of Pinot Noir was Right!

6. 2009 Halcon Alturas Syrah, Yorkville Highlands – My Guess of Merlot was Wrong : (

7. 2009 Chateau Fizeaux Vieilles Vignes, St. Emilion (Bordeaux) – My Guess of Syrah was Wrong : (

8. 2008 Whitehall Lane Merlot, Napa Valley – My Guess of Bordeaux Blend was Wrong : (

9. 2008 Stone Edge “Surround” Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley – My Guess of Cabernet Sauvgion was Right!

10. 2010 Opolo Summit Creek Zinfandel, Paso Robles – My Guess of Zinfandel was Right!


In the end, I went 5 for 10 in the blind tasting.  In case you were wondering, Dave also went 5 for 10.  Our wives did not write down their guesses, but they probably would have crushed us if they did.

What is significant is how awesome the experience was at The Wine Club.

For 10 bucks, we got to taste some great wines in a fun way.  During the event, plenty of the employees there were checking in with us to compare their tasting notes with ours.

The store itself is totally legit too.

After our tasting, we spent quite a bit of time checking out all the buys to be had.  All of the folks working there were very knowledgable about the wines on the floor, and the prices were some of the best I’ve seen in the bay area.

What counts the most to me is that you can tell every person in the store if passionate about wine.

They taste it.  They live it.  They talk it.  They know their stuff, but they’re not snobby about it.

They just love wine.

It should always be this way at a wine store… Always.

Stay Rad, Wine Club.

I’ll be back.


Whining about Chili

May 28, 2012

Last week, I made the best chili in my entire life!

Veggie chorizo, diced onions, and diced chilies were all sauted in some olive oil and deglazed in Lagunitas IPA.

I added diced tomatoes and let it simmer down for about 10 minutes.

Pinto, black, and refried beans were mixed in, along with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, carne asada seasoning, and habanero sauce.

I let it all do its thang over low heat for a couple hours, then served it up with cilantro and avocado.

You know I had to take a picture…



I was so stoked on this one, that I challenged all my friends on Facebook to chili cook-off.


In the wine world, a different challenge is presented when it comes to chili…

What do you pair with it?

In my mind, beer seems to be the beverage of choice to go with this hot and hardy dish.

I have some ideas for wine pairings, but have never actually tried them (’cause beer is always there).

So I ask you…

What wine do you pair with chili?

Leave a comment below, and let me know.


Take a picture of your wine and chili pairing and post it on the Stay Rad Facebook Wall.

I’m gonna try my own pairing later this week.

Stay Rad,


To the Gills: Scenes from the Gilroy Wine Crawl… Er… Stroll

May 25, 2012

If you’ve never been to a wine stroll before, you’re missing out.
Here’s what it looked like in Gilroy last Saturday…























It’s all a blur…

Stay Rad,


Cabernet Sauvignon’s Got Class

May 23, 2012

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

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

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


Guess who won?


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


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

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


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

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


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

We started with the Estate Cab.


Here are some facts about the wine.

And my take…

Color: Purplish red.

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

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

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

Up next…


Clos La Chance 2009 Whitestone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Color: On the red side of purple.

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

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

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


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

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

Now, can someone call me a Cab?

Cabernet Sauvignon, that is…

Stay Rad,


(Plastic) Cup of Wine

May 22, 2012

Just when you thought I was done talking about the wedding we were at in Phoenix, Arizona a few weeks back…

I realized that there was a big wine moment that happened the day before the wedding…

Since Kara was a bridesmaid, and had to go to the rehearsal during the day, I spent the morning lounging around the hotel at the “Largest Pool in Phoenix!”


Yeah… I guess it was pretty big.

Come the afternoon, however, we headed over to a BBQ at the home of the groom’s parents…


The food was in full effect! Pulled pork, pulled chicken, mac n’ cheese, potato salad, and beans.

I had been looking forward to this BBQ for a while.  Not so much for the food (which was fantastic, by the way), but for the wine that was gonna be served…


This requires a little explanation.

The night before the BBQ, I went out with the groom and his buddies for a bachelor party.  At one point in the night, the groom asks me if I’d ever heard of Copa Di Vino.

When I told him I had not, he proceeded to tell me that the owner of the company was on the TV show, Shark Tank, pitching his idea to investors.  Apparently, it’s a wine that comes in its own plastic cup.  The idea is that it allows you to drink wine on the go without having to deal with the complications of a bottle.

“That sounds cool,” I told him.  “How does it taste?”

“I don’t know,” he replied, “but I ordered a couple of cases for the BBQ tomorrow, and I want you to review it.”

Never one to turn down a wine sample, I was more than happy to oblige.  As soon as we got to the party, I tracked down the cooler, and picked out my samples…


Copa Di Vino NV American Riesling and Copa Di Vino NV Columbia Valley Merlot.


First I want to talk to you about the packaging…

Each (Plastic) Cup of Wine is 187.5 ml.  A standard bottle of wine is 750 ml.  You can do the math, or just trust me when I tell you that each plastic cup is a quarter of a bottle (a pretty healthy pour).

Online, you can buy a case (12 Cups of Wine) for $36.  That breaks down to $3 a cup… or $12 a bottle.

As far as the packaging goes, Copa Di Vino reminded me a lot of a cup of yogurt.  Remove the plastic lid, peel back the aluminum seal, and it’s go time!


Let’s get into the wine!

Copa Di Vino NV American Riesling:

Nose: In retrospect, I should have poured my Cup of Wine into a glass.  Without having much of a lip to guide the aromas to my schnoz, it was tough to analyze.  The nose to me was extremely tight, with hints of lemon mineral water.

Palate: The palate lacked any sort of complexity to it.  Really, it was kind of like water, with a squeeze of lemon and a drop of latte foam.  I do give the Riesling props for not being sweet.  I would have expected it to be overly sugarfied to appeal to the masses.

Score: Not a whole lot going on here, but I will give it extra points for being a cold white wine on a hot day in Phoenix.  76

Copa Di Vino NV Columbia Valley Merlot:

Nose: A faint hint of buttered blackberry.  Aside from the blackberry, the nose is almost Chardonnay-like.

Taste: There’s that butter again.  Look… I know that all red wine goes through malolactic fermentation, but usually (since there are so many other things going on) they’re not so in-your-face with the butter.  There is still this blackberry fruit going on, but it’s unripe blackberry.  There is a touch of black olive on the end.

Score: This isn’t a horrible Merlot, but that butter is throwing me way off. 79

I went to the Copa Di Vino website to try to get a glimpse into their winemaking philosophy, and I found this video…

I guess the product speaks for itself.

Apparently, the investors on Shark Tank passed on the Copa Di Vino.  Based on the price, and the quality of the juice, you should too.

I guess that’s what you get when you spend more time dreaming up the cup you’re serving your wine in than you do the wine you’re serving in the cup.

Stay Rad,


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