Showing posts with label wine event. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine event. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Laura Catena Comes To Los Angeles

I am not often invited to the Consulate General of Argentina Residence in Los Angeles, so when I am, I try to amble over that way.  With pressed shirt, the "nice" shoes - the ones I don't wear for walking all the time - and hair arranged semi-neatly, I made the nine-minute drive east, to a street a little past Larchmont.

The occasion was a wine-tasting event and theatrical performance hosted by Argentine winemaker Laura Catena.  She brought her roadshow to L.A., "As Wine Flows By," a short original play which tells the tale of the Malbec grape through the perspectives of four women who embody different landmarks in the variety's history.  Catena commented that for years the wine world has been overloaded with Y-chromosomes.  "Men made the wine. Men wrote about the wine. Men collected the wine. It wasn't until the 1980s that women's contributions began to be noticed and acknowledged."  London actress Tina Baston worked wonders as the storyteller.

Laura Catena
At the event, I rubbed elbows with other wine writer types and wine sales types.  Several of the wine writer types recognized me, and I made a few new friends.  One of the wine sales types commented to me that that there were worse ways to spend an overcast afternoon than by drinking wine in some rich person’s back yard.  I had to concur.

Laura Catena is a winemaker, medical doctor and all-around gracious woman who has labelled one of her wines with a visual representation of the Malbec story.  She also has a new book to push, Gold in the Vineyards, the story of her family's involvement in wine and a look at a dozen of the world’s most famous vineyards.

Tina Baston
Catena uses four female figures on the label.  Eleanor of Aquitaine - one of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages - represents the birth of Malbec.  Madame Phylloxera personifies the near-death of the French wine industry in the late 1800s.  The Immigrant represents the pioneering women leaving Europe for a new continent.  Catena's sister Adrianna is the fourth, symbolizing the modern-day renaissance of Malbec in the new world.

Wines poured:

The 2018 Catena Appellation Tupungato Chardonnay is an elegant white made from grapes grown on high mountain vines.  The barrel fermentation and nine months aging in French oak shows, with sweet oak spice and tropical citrus on the nose.  The palate is only slightly oaky and has a very pleasant earthy note.

For the 2017 Catena Alta Chardonnay, the grapes came largely from the mineral-laden Adrianna Vineyard.  There is a bit more oak here - 14 months - but the fruit shines through and the wine is all the sweeter for it.

The 2017 Adrianna Vineyard White Bones Chardonnay bears the floral expression for which the vineyard is known.  The wine is earthier and leaner than the previous pair and reminiscent of Chablis.

The 2015 Nicolas Catena Zapata is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.  It shows dark fruit and oak spice on the nose and is dark and brooding on the palate, a perfect match for steak.

The 2017 Malbec Argentino is a blend of two vineyards, Nicasia and Angélica.  The expansive nose is  fruity with white pepper and perfume along for the ride.  Easy tannins lead to a beautiful finish.

The 2015 Nicasia Vineyard Malbec is perfumed as well, and shows cherries on the nose and palate.  Firm tannins beg for a meat pairing.

You may know how hungry a person can get while tasting a half-dozen or so wines.  Fortunately, we were served food from the capable hands of Chef Ricardo Coghlan, executive chef at the Consulate of Argentina in Los Angeles.


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Saturday, July 6, 2019

New Mexico Wine Toasts Feminist Artist

A New Mexico winery is toasting feminist artist Judy Chicago with a wine bearing her name.  Jaramillo Vineyards is releasing the wine this month in New Mexico's Middle Rio Grande Valley.

Owners Robert and Barbara Jaramillo met when he was stationed with the Navy in Long Beach, California.  After a career as an airline pilot, Jaramillo decided to grow grapes and make wine, continuing a family precedent.  His father was a home winemaker, but his grandfather had been the largest producer of wine in the area before Prohibition.

Jaramillo Vineyards has plantings of the Norton Cynthiana grape, which has reportedly not been grown west of Missouri until now.  Norton is considered to be "America’s grape," and was championed by Thomas Jefferson.

Judy Chicago's art will be shown on July 20-21, 2019 at the opening of the Through the Flower Art Space in Belen, New Mexico.  Chicago and her husband have lived in Belen for a quarter century, and the town is also the home of Jaramillo Vineyards.  The art space is right across the street from the tasting room. 

The winery plans to release the Judy Chicago red and white wines on July 21st.  Both will feature a label and bottle design conceived by the artist herself.  She chose a cobalt blue bottle which she feels compliments her label design.  Chicago was personally involved in selecting the final blend for each wine.  I haven't tasted them, but I'm told the Judy Chicago red will be a Petit Verdot blend and the Judy Chicago white will be a dry blend of Chenin Blanc and Arneis. 

You can read more of the Now And Zin effort to taste wine from all 50 states in the Wine Country series.

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Expect Great Zin At Rancho Mirage Wine, Food Fest

There's a great wine event coming this weekend for residents of California's desert communities and all of Southern California.  The Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival is this Saturday, February 17th 2018.  The organizers have kindly invited me to be an ambassador of what looks to be a fantastic event.  More than 200 handcrafted wines will be poured and you'll sample cuisine from 15 of the area's top chefs.  The event is put on by David Fraschetti, a full time resident of Rancho Mirage and the creator of the VinDiego Wine and Food Festival held in San Diego each April.

You can find the event and follow the #RMWineFest2018 on Twitter: @rmwineandfoodfestFor a discount, use the Now And Zin Wine promo code: NZWine.

Tickets to the Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival start at $70 and are available on the fest's website.  The all-inclusive General Admission and VIP ticket includes a crystal souvenir wine glass and unlimited tastings of the wines, a variety of gourmet appetizers, cheeses, artisan breads and olive oils.  Early Entry VIP tickets allow attendees to arrive one hour earlier than General Admission.  You must be 21 to attend.

Barlow Vineyards is one of the wineries that will be attending, and I can't wait to sample the rest of their line.  Their Zinfandel is a knockout.  Located in Napa Valley’s Calistoga area, Barlow Vineyards was purchased by Warren Barlow Smith in 1994 and it's a family affair still today.  They were farmers initially, selling the fruit of their labor.  They began selling the vinified fruit of their vines at the urging of a previous winemaker.

They made fewer than a hundred cases of this wine and it retails for $35.

The Barlow Calistoga Unfiltered Zinfandel 2012 is a real crowd pleaser, very dark and aromatic.  A blackberry and licorice nose gets a savory whiff of smoke and a shot of vanilla on the side.  It's had some time in the bottle and it’s getting very smooth and silky as it ages.  On the palate, good, dark fruit stands a little on the tart raspberry side.  The oak influence shows in a touch of spice and vanilla, but it doesn't overwhelm.  The acidity is nice, and the tannins are good.  This can pair with a pork chop, but it's a great sipper, too.


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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Big Wine, Food Fest For Greater Palm Springs

Denizens of the desert will have a new reason to celebrate in a culinary way.  The Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival will happen on February 17, 2018 at the Rancho Mirage Amphitheater and Community Park.  Attendees will be able to revel in more than 200 handcrafted wines and cuisine from 15 of the area's top chefs.  The event is put on by David Fraschetti, a full time resident of Rancho Mirage and the creator of the VinDiego Wine and Food Festival held in San Diego each April.  I'll be there, and not just because they're giving me tickets.

 Find them and follow on Twitter @rmwineandfoodfest for the #RMWineFest2018.

Wineries from California and Washington State will be showing their stuff, with Justin and Navarro among those planning to pour.  The wines are enough to get me there, but they'll also have some of the top chefs in the desert offering culinary experiences from restaurants like Acqua California Bistro, Blue Ember and Haus of Poke.  16 of Rancho MIrage's best Chefs will compete for the title of "Chef of the Fest." Guests can also enjoy a steady stream of live music throughout the event.

Tickets to the Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival start at $70 and are available on the fest's website.  The all-inclusive General Admission and VIP ticket includes a crystal souvenir wine glass and unlimited tastings of the wines, a variety of gourmet appetizers, cheeses, artisan breads and olive oils.  Early Entry VIP tickets allow attendees to arrive one hour earlier than General Admission.  You must be 21 to attend.

The Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival will also support local charities with 100% of Silent Auction proceeds going to the Desert AIDS Project.


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Friday, August 11, 2017

Discovering Wine At The Garagiste Festival

The Garagiste Festival is coming to Paso Robles in November, so save the date. The event features boutique wineries, small producers, with some extremely great California wine to pour for you. The festival's "Urban Exposure" was held recently in Santa Monica, and I was delighted to accept their invitation to attend.

Garagiste, in case you are wondering, is a French term (gar-uh-zhee-stuh) which originated in Bordeaux.  It described mavericky small-lot winemakers who didn't care much for following the rules.  These passionate vintners often whipped up their wine in the garage, or whatever space they had available to them.

What was once just a pejorative is now a movement.  Not that California winemakers operate under the burden of the sort of rules found in France, but these folks are considered renegades simply for daring to make their wine their way.

Nearly four dozen wineries which produce less than 1200 cases per year poured wines that people may not get a chance to taste very often.  Most of these small producers don't have tasting rooms, and their distribution is often spotty, if not non-existent. I didn't get to taste from every table, by a long shot. Here are the wines I sampled.

Ann Albert Wines - Santa Barbara winemaker Eric Johnson poured two first-vintage 2015 Chardonnays that both spoke to their origins. The one from Zotovich Vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills had lemon-lime fruit aged in new French oak, $44. The one from Bien Nacido Vineyard showed the touch of earth and savory salinity I love so much from that farm, $44. He excitedly told me of the efforts of the Bien Nacido vineyard manager and crew that may have spared the vines from being damaged by a recent wildfire.

Brophy Clark Cellars - This Santa Barbara winery makes a 2014 Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay with restrained alcohol and just the right touch of new French oak, $22.

Burning Bench Cellars - A Marin County boutique producer, winemaker David Mease poured a 2006 Pinot Noir from Moon Hill Vineyard that showed some lovely browning and savory tea notes. More recent vintages are big and fruity without knocking people down, $45.

Carucci Wines - Santa Barbara winemaker Eric Carucci's 2013 Viognier from the Sanford and Benedict Vineyard has a big floral nose and a savory/fruity palate, $30. His 2014 Grenache comes from a lovely warm-weather site, Murmur Vineyard, located between Santa Maria and Los Alamos, $38.

Chenoweth Wines - Sonoma producers Charlie and Amy Chenoweth concentrate on Russian River Valley Pinot Noir that are big and fruity, $65.

Cholame Vineyard - This San Miguel winery has Andres Ibarra making the 2014 Summer Shade Grenache Blanc, a standout at this event. Super salinity, super savory, huge nose and brilliant acidity, $24.

Coruce Vineyards - The Antelope Valley, north of Los Angeles, is not the first place one thinks of when Southern California wine regions are bandied about.  Winemaker Bob Balentine works magic with warm-climate estate grapes like Semillon and Symphony, $21, and Viognier, $25.  Big florals mark these appealing whites.

D. Volk Wines - Dana Volk was quick to point out that she's no relation to Santa Barbara County winemaker Kenneth Volk. I think her actual words were "Yeah, I wish!" On her own, she has made some wines to be proud of. Her 2016 Camp 4 Vineyard Grenache Rosé is a savory beauty, $22. Her 2015 Duvarita Vineyard Pinot Noir is lovely and elegant, $42. Her 2014 Syrah from Hampton Family Vineyards is a great warm-climate version of the grape, $24.

Tao Vineyards - Michael and Nikki McRory say they actually do have a few grape-growing neighbors in Agoura Hills, just over the crestline from the Malibu AVA. Winemaker B. Alan Geddes makes a 2016 Syrah Rosé that’s very good, $22; the 2015 Awakening Sangiovese that’s beefy, $26; and the amazing 2015 Mindful Merlot, that’s magic in a bottle, $38.

Theopolis Vineyards - Theodora Lee has to wake up feeling like the Maytag repairman sometimes. She's a female, African-American winemaker in the Anderson Valley, and she plays that role to the hilt. "Now, don't you walk away without tasting my Petite Sirah. That's my baby!" But, she's also proud of her 2014 Pinot Noir, unfiltered and elegant, $42, She calls her richly-colored 2014 Rosé of Petite Sirah a "summer red," and it's a great one, $24. Her 2014 Symphony makes one realize what a cool climate can do for that grape, $22.

Two Shepherds - Sonoma winemaker William Allen poured his 2014 Grenache Blanc from "down south," the Saarloos Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. Graceful savory notes, $25. His 2016 Rosé of Grenache from Mendocino's Potter Valley is extremely pale and elegant, $25. The Two Shepherds 2014 Pastoral Melange Rhone Blend is an incredible North Coast mix of Mourvèdre, Carignane, Syrah and Roussanne. Unorthodox, but tasty. It’s light enough to take a chill well and would make a good BBQ wine, $24.

Vinemark Cellars - Thousand Oaks producer Mark Wasserman uses mostly eastside Paso Robles grapes for his remarkable wines. His 2016 Chardonnay is beautifully oakless, $24. Another great pink wine at this event, the Vinemark 2016 Grenache Rosé is awesome, full and earthy, $24. He does a nice Cal-Italian turn with the 2015 five-grape Buono Miscela, $35, and the light and breezy 2014 Mezzanotte of Primitivo and Syrah, $32. He says his 2014 Cab is his best ever, and it has the mark of Paso Robles all over it. $32.


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Friday, April 15, 2016

Three Nights Of L.A. Rosé

Rosé wine is more popular than ever now. Even the guys are getting into the pink. There's a good reason for rosé to be popular. It's delicious, it's refreshing, it's festive and it's food-friendly, not to mention pretty.

So, it’s great that there is a fantastic rosé wine event coming to Los Angeles in May. It's also coming to New York and London in June. It was just in Miami, and the winter event was held in New York.

It’s called La Nuit en Rosé - French for Rosé Night - and its organizers say  it is the world’s first food and wine tasting festival specializing in rosé wines. La Nuit en Rosé's founders contend that rosé wine is not just an emerging trend, but rather a movement that is here to stay. This culinary experience will highlight the diversity of rosé wines from all around the world.

The festival will span three big nights at Mondrian Los Angeles, May 13th-15th. Tickets are available by logging onto their website.

  • Friday night  is a VIP Rosé Wine Pairing Dinner Under the Stars at Mondrian's Ivory on Sunset.
  • Saturday night it’s a Rosé Sunset Soirée poolside at Skybar.
  • Sunday afternoon, wrap up the weekend with a Rosé Pool Party, also poolside at Skybar.

May is thought to be "just right" for rosé, but don't forget that it's always a good time to drink pink.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Margerum Wine, Whole Foods Market Go To Dogs... And Cats

An event is coming to Santa Barbara that animal lovers will want to put on the calendar.

Pet Adopt-a-Thon & Barbeque at Whole Foods Market, Santa Barbara

Saturday, September 26th 11-2pm

Volunteers from Cold Nose Warm Heart of Goleta and ASAP Cats of Santa Barbara will be on hand with pups and kittens hoping to find humans to rescue, while Margerum Wine Company's David Moorman will be grilling up hot dawgs to benefit cool cats and dogs!

Raffle
Prizes include dinner at the Wine Cask, Whole Foods Market gift cards and gift baskets, winery and brewery hats, Tshirts and other goodies!

Tickets can be obtained in several ways: 

 $5 CASH ONLY per ticket, 100% of ticket sales will be donated. Tickets will go on sale Saturday, September 12th at the Buzz Hive, inside Whole Foods, Santa Barbara.

 Buy a Dawg to Save a Dog - Purchase one of David’s Dawgs and receive a raffle ticket, too!

 Feed The Homeless - Purchase a large bag of Whole Paws dry dog or cat food ($18.99) or a case of wet cat or dog canned food ($24), receive FIVE raffle tickets. All Whole Paws food will be donated to ASAP & CNWH.

 Drink Up For the Kits & Pups! Attend the beer & wine tasting events, $6 CASH ONLY, raffle ticket included with flight. $5 will be donated to ASAP/CNWH.

Flight times: Friday, 5:30-7:30pm, Saturday 11-2pm

100% of proceeds donated, winners need NOT be present to win!



Brooks Van Wingerden, General Manager at Margerum Wine Company, writes that Doug Margerum and Gina Cook (the wine specialist for Whole Foods) were tasting together a few months ago, not long after Doug had lost his beloved dog, Patches

Margerum and Cook are doing a series of private label wines for Whole Foods. As they were "patching together" a Pinot Noir blended with fruit from some of the best sites in Sta. Rita Hills AVA ( La Encantada Vineyards, Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, and Radian Vineyard ), a Merlot blend from the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA and others they bantered about their pets, past and present and thought, "what can we do to help more cats and dogs find furever homes?"

Just like that, the idea to give a donation for each bottle sold from two of these new wines was formed. 

One dollar from every bottle sold of Rapporte (French for "fetch") Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills (retail $34.99) will be donated by Doug Margerum to Cold Noses, Warm Hearts.

Fifty cents from every bottle of Chaton Heureux Cuvee (French for "Cat, Happy Blend") Merlot blend (retail $19.99) will be donated to ASAP Cats. 

Both are volunteer-run rescue groups that work to save cats and dogs destined for euthanasia at the Santa Barbara county shelter.

The labels were designed with pets in mind and both the labels and the wines are stunning.

The wines will be available exclusively at select Whole Foods Markets from SLO to San Diego and at Doug Margerum's tasting rooms in El Paseo – downtown Santa Barbara.

For more information, please call 805-686-8500 or email Brooks@margerumwines.com



Friday, September 26, 2014

Wine Event: Rhone Rangers Los Angeles 2014

Early September held a great treat for Los Angeles lovers of the Rhône style of wine.  The Rhône Rangers convened for their annual SoCal event at Vibiana in downtown L.A.  The repurposed church is a great place to hold an event for those who worship the grape varieties of the Rhône Valley.  A more irreverent reverence you will not likely find, church or no church.

For the unordained, the Rhône Rangers are an organization formed solely to celebrate the grapes of Rhône, especially as realized in California terroir.  Bring on Syrah, bring on Grenache, bring on Viognier, yeah verily, bring on Roussanne - and plenty of it.  Our prayers have been answered.

Cornerstone Cellars’ managing partner Craig Camp (right) poured a single vineyard Syrah rosé, the 2013 Corallina by Stepping Stone.  It's one of my favorite California pinks.  The Napa Valley vineyard from which these grapes come is west of the Oak Knoll district, almost in Carneros.  The aromas and flavors, while fruity, are more complex than those generally found in pink wines.  This is one Syrah rosé in which the Syrah really shows up for work. It's deeply-colored and richly textured.  It looks pink, but it drinks red.

Camp had been in Maine the previous week on a sales trip.  He noted that "the sales of whites and rosés just fall flat there after Labor Day,” which is a shame, considering how much lobster there is to be consumed there.  Camp says his Corallina rosé does hit it off with lobster, but it will really go great with the Thanksgiving turkey, so there is no need to retire it until spring.

The Stepping Stone 2012 Syrah comes from a vineyard “right at the top” of Atlas Peak in Napa.  It’s beefy and rich with a brilliant acidity.

The Crux Russian River Valley GSM rosé was the next stop.  Terribly warm day out, so plenty of great rosés were more than welcome.  In this one, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre blend to make a bright and vibrant wine.  Very nice acidity marks this fruity but dry pink wine.  The Crux Viognier has a five percent splash of Sauvignon Blanc.  Floral and fruity, this was another real refresher.

When I told Zaca Mesa’s Dane Campbell of an upcoming Now And Zin series on holiday wines, he said, "Rhone wines go great with Thanksgiving."  The Zaca Mesa Roussanne fits that bill, with a great nutty flavor and bright acidity.  The Zaca Mesa Viognier throws pear and peach flavors into the acidity and comes up with a lovely, savory finish.

Tercero WinesLarry Schaffer (left) always seems to be going for the title of “Hardest-Working Wine Man in the Santa Ynez Valley.”  At every event - and he’s at them all - Schaffer is always pouring.  One more taste for one more potential customer.  It's why my pictures of him always feature one blurry arm.  He pours his reds from huge flasks, which is always an attention-getter.

The Tercero Mourvèdre rosé is “foot-stomped, with only an hour of skin contact,” he says. Great fruit is on display here, with only a slight funkiness.  It’s the funky part that makes this another of my favorite rosés.  Tercero's Grenache Blanc has a bold savory note and great acidity.  The Tercero Roussanne shows complex aromas and flavors, led by almonds and apricots.

Paso Robles producer Summerwood Winery makes a Grenache Blanc which is fermented half in concrete and half in neutral oak.  It's great nose has bushel baskets of peaches and a fabulous savory component on the palate.  The grapes were grown at an elevation of 1,800 feet, and the cool nights makes for wonderful acidity.  It's a really beautiful wine.

Pomar Junction's Rosé of Syrah has a very deep color, quite like a Spanish Rosado.  It is loaded with fruit and flavor.  The Pomar Junction blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier is a natural choice for the holiday table.  It has great body, yet it's fresh and crisp.  The spicy palate is a treat.

The Kenneth Volk table is the one to which the genuine grape nerds always gravitate. Volk was not present at this event, but his assistant filled in ably, chatting with the tasters about vineyards and clones and proper ph levels.  The Volk Grenache has a very nice, light color.  It looks like it may be trying to slip by as a rosé. Fantastic acidity will make this a hit at the dinner table. An unbelievably savory note gives way to a bright cherry flavor in one of the most dramatic start-to-finish changes I have experienced.  Of the few wines time allowed me to taste, this was my favorite.


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Monday, July 28, 2014

Zinfandel Gets A Moment In The Summer Spotlight

It’s not like the Zinfandel grape doesn’t get its fair share of time in the spotlight.  Zin festivals abound in California, the state which can justifiably claim Zinfandel as its heritage grape.  As the person who came up with the name of this wine-stained little corner of the worldwide web, I think there is always room for one more.

The folks at ZAP! - Zinfandel Advocates and Producers - are behind this new event.  ZAP’s Simply Summer Celebration will have its introductory splash on Saturday August 16, 2014 from noon to 3:30 p.m. at Ridge Vineyards’ Lytton West Vineyard, 1040 Lytton Springs Road in Healdsburg.

“The inaugural event will be held in Dry Creek Valley, a traditional home for great Zinfandels,” according to Mark Vernon, president, Ridge Vineyards and the 2014 ZAP president.  “The occasion is for consumers looking for a fun, casual and unique experience to taste among the vines. It’s Zin‐revival—a rustic ZAP tasting under the tent—mingling with the wineries, munching on authentic wood‐fired pizza and mixing it up with the people who share our passion for Zin,” he continued.

ZAP’s Executive Director Rebecca Robinson expects the Simply Summer Celebration to be a new “must-attend” event, as the Zinfandel Experience in January has become.  “New traditions are rare. Thatʹs what makes ZAPʹs Simply Summer Celebration so special,” says Robinson.  “On August 16th, some of the worldʹs highest quality Zinfandels will be served in the heart of Northern Sonoma.”

Tickets for ZAP’s Simply Summer Celebration are $45 for ZAP members and $60 for the public. Tickets can be purchased at ZAP ‐ Simply Summer Celebration.  ZAP members receive early bird pricing - an additional $10 off per ticket - through June 30.  Participating wineries will receive special pricing for their winery club members.  You may contact ZAP directly by phone at 530-274-4900 or email at info@zinfandel.org.

Robinson points out that ZAP is in this wine thing just for the wine.  “As a non‐profit 501(c) (3) educational organization, ZAP’s focus on cultivating our advocate base at higher levels of giving is translating to effective consumer engagement for our wineries.  This new summer event features the historic spirit of Zinfandel and builds on the work already begun to reposition Zinfandel as a quality varietal with historic significance to our culture and society,” said Robinson.

Participating wineries include:

Artezin Wines, Barefoot Cellars, Ballentine Vineyards, Beltane Ranch, Carol Shelton Wines, Chacewater Wines, Charter Oak Winery, ChaseCellars, D‐cubed Cellars, Del Carlo Winery, Dry Creek Vineyard, Dutcher Crossing Winery, Easton Wines, Edmeades, Elyse Winery, Fields Family Wines, Four Corners,
Gamba Vineyards & Winery, Hartʹs Desire Wines, J. Rickards Winery, Jerome Winery/Cellar 433, Klinker Brick Winery, Kokomo Winery, Lava Cap Winery, Limerick Lane Cellars, m2 Wines, Mazzocco Winery, Mike & Molly Hendry, MoniClaire Vineyards, Murphy Goode, Novy Family Wines, Pedroncelli Winery, Pezzi King Vineyards, Proulx Wines, Ridge Vineyards, Rock Wall Wine Company, Rombauer Vineyards, Rued Winery, Scott Harvey Wines, St. Anneʹs Crossing, St. Francis Winery & Vineyard, Three Wine Company, Trentadue, Turley Wine Cellars, Valdez Family Winery, Wilson of Dry Creek, XYZin and Zin‐Phomaniac.


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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Virtual Wine Tasting: Casey Flat Ranch

Virtual wine tasting events are popping up more and more often on Twitter.  Maybe a virtual wine tasting event has been held on Facebook, but it probably spiralled into a gun control rant within ten comments.  Twitter is where one can usually find a virtual tasting event that stays on topic - for the most part.

This evening (Wednesday April 30, 2014) at 5:00 p.m. PT, the fine folks at San Francisco publicity house Charles Communication are set to host another virtual tasting event, this time featuring wines from Casey Flat Ranch, located in the mountains of California’s Capay Valley AVA in Yolo County - as opposed to YOLO county.

The vineyards of this historic longhorn cattle ranch are nestled 2,000 feet high in the Vaca mountains, overlooking the Capay Valley to the east and bordering Napa county to the west.  I am told that the high elevation produces terroir-driven  wines, “serious, elegant wines, packed with fresh fruit and stunning minerality.”  I can’t wait until we find out for ourselves.

Hosting the virtual tasting event will be Casey Flat Ranch Managing Partner Alison Garrett and winemaker Laura Barrett.  Four Casey Flat Ranch wines will be tasted and tweeted about:  the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2013 Syrah Rosé, the 2012 Viognier and the 2011 CFR Estate Red Blend.

If you are new to the virtual wine tasting scene, here’s how you do it.  First, sign into your Twitter account.  The tweets can be searched by hashtag - #CFRBrandLive - so be sure to use that when you jump in with comments.  If you can get a bottle of one or more of the wines, that’s great.  Even if you can’t, join in and learn a bit about Casey Flat Ranch and their wines.

You can also access the live stream of the event by using this link.  Once you click on the link, you’ll see a box on the right hand side that says ‘Questions from the Audience.’  Fill in your name and location and type up your comment or question, which will be viewed by all who are following along.

We’ll look for you in the hashtag.  You can use the rocking chairs, but please clean up your Twitter shavings.



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Friday, April 11, 2014

Bordeaux Wine: Grand Cercle Des Vins De Bordeaux

The subtitle of this tasting event was "from barrel to bottle," and it described the focus on young Bordeaux wines - actually barrel samples - of the 2013 vintage.  Most of the 2013s won't be released until 2015, so this was an opportunity to try these wines in their formative stages.  Most tables also had samples of previous vintages to pour.

The Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux is founder Alain Raynaud's effort to bring together the wines of the  Left and Right Banks of Bordeaux.  What is meant by Left and Right Banks?  Bordeaux is divided into two main areas by the Gironde Estuary, which is formed by the convergence of the Dordogne (Right Bank) and Garonne (Left Bank.)  The area in between those rivers is called Entre-Deux-Mers, "between two seas."  Left Bank wines are predominately Cabernet Sauvignon-based, while the Right Bank wines are typically centered around the Merlot grape.

This traveling road show shows the high quality of Bordeaux wines in general.  Courtesy of Ian Blackburn's Learn About Wine, I attended the trade and media tasting event this week, held in Santa Monica's Casa del Mar hotel.  It was an awfully hot day in L.A., so the chance to get about 15 degrees cooler at the beach was welcome.  And, since I don't generally drink a lot of Bordeaux, it was a great opportunity for me to expand my palate a bit.  Here are some highlights of my trip around the ballroom.

Château Dalem, AOC Fronsac - The 2013 vintage shows the deep, rich texture of Merlot while the 10% splash of Cabernet Franc gives a spicy tartness to the finish.  The 2010 vintage is an 85/15 split of those grapes, with an alcohol content of 15%, quite high.  Blackberry, anise and plum adorns this wine, which displays terrific tannic structure.

Château Croix Cardinale, AOC Saint-Emilion  Grand Cru - The 2011 Croix Cardinale - 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon - is floral and fresh on the nose with big, dark fruit flavors, great acidity and a long finish.  The 2011 Château Fleur Cardinale has 70% Merlot, 15% Cab Franc and 15% Cab Sauvignon.  It has a more savory appeal.

Château Godeau, AOC Saint-Emilion Grand Cru - The nose of the 2013 is very dark, and there is a nice, tart edge to the fruit on the palate.  This wine is nearly all Merlot, with just a five percent dollop of Cabernet Franc.

Château Pindefleurs, AOC Saint-Emilion Grand Cru - Merlot-heavy with ten percent Cabernet Franc, this wine has a surprisingly funky nose, both in the 2013 and 2010 vintages.  The '10 is a little smokier, with wonderful acidity and big tannins.  A standout.

Château Faizeau, AOC Montagne Saint-Emilion - Also leaning heavily on Merlot, the savory tartness of the 2013 is lovely, while the 2010 shows coffee and blackberry.  Delicious.

Château Ramafort, AOC Medoc - This wine is only half Merlot with the other half Cabernet Sauvignon.  Minerals lead the way here in the 2010, with big fruit and tannins to match.  The 2013 is youthful and vibrant with a bit of smoke on the finish.

Château Malescasse, AOC Haut-Medoc - The 2011 has slight smoke and coffee on the nose, with beautiful cherry flavors and acidity.  It's made from 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and a five percent splash each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.  The 2012 has no Cab Franc and a bit more Petit Verdot, showing an even more savory angle.  The Château has no 2013 vintage, as they elected to sell the grapes instead.

Château Haut-Bacalan, AOC Pessac-Leognan - 55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and five percent Petit Verdot, this 2013 is still fresh, beautiful, fruity fun.  The 2010 is silky smooth and well integrated.  The aging is showing extremely well in this standout wine.

Château de Myrat, Sauternes - This white dessert wine is just unbelievable.  The 2013 is fresh and herbal, with a slight grassiness on the nose that belies the sweet, floral palate.  The 2011 vintage is displaying its oak influence, with a smokey nose and a caramel sweetness on the palate. 88% Sémillon, eight percent Sauvignon and four percent Muscadelle.  Another standout.


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