Showing posts with label Mendocino. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mendocino. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Wines That Give Back

During this time of self-isolation and quarantine, there are many stories coming out about how people cope with the "new normal."  Restaurants are dishing out their fare as take-out at the curb to masked drivers who speed back to the safety of their homes.  Gathering with friends at a bar is a memory.  Winery tasting rooms are silent and producers from small to large are trying to stay afloat by going online with their sales efforts.

One story caught my eye this week, about a wine company that strives to give something back to the health care community, the people we all depend on to get us through the pandemic.

Ripe Life Wines has a special going on concerning their line called The Clambake.  For every case of wine purchased (12 bottles), the company will send two complimentary bottles of wine to the customer's  health care worker of choice to thank them for their service.  They are also offering free shipping to everyone. 

Ripe Life founder Mary McAuley says the thrust of the special offer is to keep people home and out of the stores to help flatten the COVID-19 curve.

McAuley claims she was inspired to make The Clambake wines after failing to find exactly what she wanted for her friends' annual clambake on the Jersey shore.  She did what anyone would do if they had the talent - she made the wines herself the next year.  She used Mendocino grapes to fashion an unoaked Chardonnay and a fresh and floral Carignan rosé.  McAuley says both are perfect for clambakes or any type of seafood, whether you are on the shore or landlocked.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Cinsaut And Counoise - A Great Idea

This is not a regulation Bonny Doon wine, but rather one produced for their DEWN Club, according to head man Randall Grahm. He says it “really shows the potential great elegance of Cinsaut,” a grape that doesn't get nearly enough time in the spotlight.  Neither does Counoise.

In a world where "a great idea" often sounds like "get some cheap Cabernet grapes," it is nice to have a Randall Grahm around. When he has "a great idea" it is usually something like this wine.  Much like musician Ry Cooder’s early ‘70s work seemed to abhor the mainstream like nature abhors a vacuum, so does Grahm march to the music in his own head.  And we are richer for it.

The 67% Cinsaut grapes are blended with 33% Counoise, making it a blend that I have never personally enjoyed - or even heard of.  The wine gets a “California” label designation since the grapes come from all over - Paso Robles, Mendocino and Lodi. 61% of the grapes hail from the esteemed Camp Four Vineyard, with 20% from Alder Springs and 19% from Michael David. 280 cases were produced, it hits 13.7% abv and it retails for $30. Label art is by Grady McFerrin.

The wine looks like it’s trying to become a rosé, but not getting there. It’s on the pink side of red. The medium-ruby hue looks like a light Pinot Noir. The nose of this wine puts me in mind of a Provençal rosé. That may be due to the fact that most of the time when you get to taste either of these grapes, it is in a rosé. Stemmy herbal notes play off the cherry and strawberry aromas, just like in the pink stuff - only more intense. There is a smoky element hovering around the top of the glass. The palate shows wonderfully dark cherry flavors with a smattering of savory spice and an herbal edge. Could this be what Cabernet Franc rosé would taste like? Would someone make one so we could find out?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Sweet And Gorgeous: Lula Gewürztraminer

Lula Cellars, a small production winery located in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley, spent the summer pouring the inaugural release of its 2014 Sauvignon Blanc and the latest Rosato effort. The Rosato is delightful, while the Sauvignon Blanc has yet to grace this space - it will soon, though. They do have another wine perfect those summer days - or, as we are still saying in Los Angeles, these summer days.

2014 is the sixth vintage of Lula’s Dry Gewürztraminer. The wine is made from grapes grown in several Mendocino vineyards. Mendocino is gaining more recognition lately for its cool-climate Alsatian varieties. It's a $22 wine, and only 200 cases were produced.

The Lula Cellars Dry Gewürztraminer for 2014 has a gorgeous nose - honeysuckle with sweet peaches and pears. That floral aspect is dominant, by the way. On the palate, full frontal fruitity and a mild pepper component play together quite nicely. The acidity keeps the sweetness in check, which is a big job. This wine, despite "dry" on the label, is extremely sweet.

The spiciness is interesting and opens up additional pairing possibilities. This is a natch for Thai food or spicy tacos. The wine also pairs well with seafood and shellfish. The winery recommends Dungeness crab, halibut and lemon risotto with asparagus.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Avalon California Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Avalon Winery makes two Cabs - and that has been it until recently.  They say they have now released a new Merlot.  There is already a Napa Valley Cab and this one, the California blend.

The notes from winemaker Alex Cose indicate that Avalon mixes 81% Cabernet Sauvignon and 19% Merlot grapes from different vineyards in Mendocino, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, Alexander Valley, and Lodi.  The wine shows a restrained 13.8% abv.  Aging occurs during 18 months in French and American oak with malolactic fermentation occurring there.

The color of this Cab is medium dark, with light showing through even at the core.  On the nose - after a swirl - the dark cherry aromas immediately give way to a cherry cola aspect.  There is a slight smokiness and some spicy notes come through as well.  I guessed there was Merlot involved from the moment I smelled the wine.

The taste is juicy and fairly tannic.  It’s nice and dry without too much puckering of the mouth.  The wine is dark and earthy on the palate, with a touch of graphite accenting the dark cherry and plum fruit flavors.  After a little time in the glass, flavors of cassis become the dominating profile.  This is particularly true two and three nights after opening.  The finish is a little shorter than I would like.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Il Fornaio Chardonnay

It’s about time for another Friday Wine Treat.  Let’s go to a restaurant you can find in a lot of places, and have a nice white wine that can probably be found at all their locations.
At Il Fornaio, the Italian chain, I went for the lowest priced glass of wine on the list - the house label Chardonnay.  At $7, it’s a steal.  It’s an especially good price considering I had it at the Beverly Hills location.  There may not be another $7 glass of wine in the 90210 zip code.
Il Fornaio Cellars is named on the back label - in Ukiah, CA - and the grapes are sourced from Mendocino.  It’s a little odd that it’s listed on the menu as a Sonoma wine, but I’ll go with the information on the bottle’s label. 
The wine is quite pale in the glass and the fruity nose carries just a bit of vanilla.  The mouthfeel is soft and full, but it’s no big, buttery California Chardonnay.  The oak is not overworked.  In fact, a crisp green apple flavor dominates the palate and the acidity is just right.
I paired it with the simple insalata al balsamico and was quite pleased.  Even with no wine and no salad, the olive bread placed on the table would have been worth my while.  I hope your Friday Wine Treat is as good, and as affordable.