Paso’s Robles’ Zinfandel Man

Here’s a parody on the Old Spice commercial for Paso Robles’ Zinfandel festival.   A little background on Zinfandel from Wikipedia may help give some color to the clip:

“Zinfandel is a variety of red grape planted in over 10 percent of California vineyards. DNA fingerprinting revealed that it is genetically equivalent to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kaštelanski, and also the Primitivo variety traditionally grown in the “heel” of Italy, where it was introduced in the 18th century. The grape found its way to the United States in the mid-19th century”

It is now widely known as “America’s”  vine and wine.

p.s. Paso Robles is a wonderful wine tasting region….worth the drive!

Petite Sirah Paradise…Dark and Delicious!

Last Friday, the 5th annual Dark & Delicious (“D&D”) Food and Wine Tasting was held at the Rock Wall Wine Company in Alameda. D&D, a showcase for Petite Sirah, is put on by P.S. I Love You. There were 47 wineries (click here for list) pouring at Dark and Delicious 2011, along with 30 food vendors (click here for list). It’s an event that first came to my attention in 2010, but I’d just missed it, so I’ve been waiting about a year of so for it to come back around.  I’m so glad I did.  The sell-out event delivered on both the wine, and food fronts.

On the wine front, it was my intent that this would be first event where I would attempt to taste like a pro.  That is taste “x” number of wines (and “x” was definitely an unknown for me), and write detailed tasting notes on each wine tasted.  Well, as Colin Powell once said “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy”.   Such was my experience “D&D” in terms of memorializing my tastings with tasting notes.  My plan?  I decided it would be best to prioritize the wineries because there would be no way for me to taste at them all.  I did so by cross-referencing the list of D&D wineries to the P.S. winners in 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (“SFCWC”), which was bifurcated into P.S. up to $19.99, and P.S. $20 and above.  There were 15 winners from the SFCWC at D&D, and probably 20 or so wines to taste.  Plus I figured, I’d throw in a few more since that wasn’t even half of the wineries representing at the event.  Alas, the crowd, and my lack of preparation (My hands weren’t free to easily take notes, but I think mostly I underestimated the challenge in tasting so many wines and keeping detailed notes – my hat goes off to the professionals that do this, it’s very challenging – I’m not there yet) conspired against me.  I was forced to abandon my plan, take the night off and simply enjoy the bounty of wine, and food. I ended up tasting at 27 of the 47 wineries (liberal use was made of dump buckets).  My favorites were as follows (there’s not in order of preference):

Robert Biale - 2008 Thomman Station P.S.(Napa Valley/St. Helena) -$36, and 2008 Royal Punisher P.S.(Napa Valley) – $36

Tercero2007 “The Climb” , 50/50 blend of Syrah and P.S. (Central Coast/Santa Barbara)-$28,  and 2007 P.S.(Central Coast/Santa Ynez Valley) – $28

Miro Cellars, 2008 P.S. – (Sonoma/Dry Creek Valley) – $23

Harney Lane 2007 P.S. (Central Valley/Lodi)- $24

Stage Left Cellars2007 P.S.(Central Coast/Paso Robles) – $36, and 2008 Ex-Pat a blend of 51% Mourvedre blend/49% P.S. (Central Coast/Paso Robles) – $24

For value(<$20), my favorites were:

Turkovich Family Winery 2008 “The Boss” P.S.

Michael David  – 2008 Petite Petit (Central Valley/Lodi)  85%  P.S./15% Petit Verdot – $18.

On the food front, what I really appreciated about this event,(besides the fact I came very hungry, and left very full) was that adjacent to most of the wineries were food vendors with foods that paired beautifully with the various styles of P.S. It was great to see that P.S. pairs well with so many foods other the oft recommended grilled steak, sausages, and chocolate.  My favorite food samples that demonstrated the versatility of P.S. as a pairing partner were Spicy Bacon Almond Caramel Corn (an interesting combination of savory, slightly sweet, and slightly spicy was a ), Pork Tartlet (Slow cooked pork with Pecorino cheese and pears), Paella, and Grilled Pork with Chayote, and Plantain with a smoky tomato sauce.  The most unusual pairing for me was Berry Tiramisu with a jammy P.S. from Ehrenberg.

Yes, indeed this one goes on my calendar as a recurring event!

Let me know what some of your favorite P.S. is from either D&D, or a recent tasting, by posting a comment.

Sensational #Syrah Day Tasting

I went to my first “Meetup” for #Syrah Day yesterday. I’d done another cyber-event prior to this one (#Zinfandel Day – We had friends come by the house for a glass or three of Zinfandel), but I’ve been looking forward experiencing a meet up at a winery. As it so happens,  JC Cellars, an urban winery in Oakland, CA, fresh off a boatload of 90+ scores from the Wine Advocate, hosted a meetup for #Syrah Day.  According to Joe Czerwinski of Wine Enthusiast:

The idea behind these sorts of events is to get a large number of people cyberbuzzing about a topic and hopefully increase knowledge and engagement levels on a larger scale than if there were no particular focus.

It seems as if Syrah has got a bit of an image issue. It could use some love. Some predicted years ago that it would be the next “big thing” in wine, but reality has fallen short of expectations. Personally, I’m not sure why. Sure, a great glass of Cab is a treat, but I happen to find Syrah to be a much more versatile food wine, that generally cost less at comparable quality levels.

Besides bringing particular wine into focus, following such a cyber-event can be a great way to get recommendations about that type of wine!

Here is last night’s tasting menu:

#Syrah Day Tasting Menue @ JC Cellars

Overall impression: This one exceeded my expectations!  It was a wonderful showcase of Syrahs with fruit from diverse appellations, including a couple that had a combination of both French and California fruit.  It was a treat to taste through Syrahs (2001, 2003, and 2005)with some age on them to experience first-hand how well these Syrahs have aged.  If the 2001-2005 wines are any indication, all 2006-2008 vintages will age quite well.  I wish I could tell you the best part was that it was all at  no-cost, but the best part were the sensational wines!

My tasting notes follow:

2005 Ventana Syrah; Appellation-Arroyo Seco; Deep garnet color.  Nose offers dark fruits, spice and oak. A tad warm on the nose. On the palate blackberries, significant minerality, refined tannins.  Medium bodied with nice balance of fruit, acids, and tannins.  Short finish

2006 Stagecoach Syrah; Appellation-California/Napa Valley; Deep garnet color.  Nose offers dark fruit, spice and minerals.  On the palate, ripe blackberry, coffee, and a bit of earth.  Full bodied with very good balance, and medium finish.

2007 Caldwell Syrah; Appellation-California/Napa Valley; Deep garnet color. Nose offers dark fruit, spice, anise, mocha. On the palate, medium full bodied. Complex, balanced blend of blackberry, spice and dark chocolate.  Leathery tannins at this point.  Long finish.

Pour Quoi Pas; Appellation-California/Sonoma/Rockpile and France Cote-Rotie; Dark ruby color.  Intriguing nose offers dark fruit, spice box, and a distinct floral note (lavender?). On the palate approaching medium bodied, round with berries, spice, dusty tannins, and a long finish. My #3 wine of the evening.

2008 So Rerine Rockpile Syrah; Appellation-California/Sonoma/Rockpile; Inky purple color; Reluctant nose offers dark fruit, spice, a touch of smoked bacon, and floral notes.  On the palate blackberry/dark cherry cobbler, and spice. Some youthful tannins I expect with resolve with time.  Medium finish.  I’d love to get me taste this on 3-5 year down the line.  This one was interesting because the budwood is from Cote Rotie.

2008 Buffalo Hill Syrah; Appellation-California/Sonoma/Rockpile; Inky purple color; Nose offers blackberry, dark cherries, spice and a faint floral note.  On the palate blackberry, cassis, minerals, and bacon fat. Bold, yet showing wonderful balance. Long finish.  My #1 wine of the evening.

“Jeff Surprise”  was wine from Jeff Cohn, the winemaker’s cellar – 2001 Cuvee Gaillard; Appellation-California/Monterey & France/Rhone/St. Joseph; Dark ruby color.  Nose offers floral, and spice notes along with dark cherry fruit. On the palate black cherries, white pepper, minerals, and vanilla. Balanced, elegant wine with a long finish. Great example of how well Syrah can age! This wine had offered the best aromas for me. Many inquired if the wine was available for purchase.  Unfortunately, it’s not.  Jeff said he only has 6 bottles left in his cellar.  My #2 wine of the evening.

Have you participated in a wine-related cyber-event?  What did you think?

Other reading your might find interesting :

Happy #Syrah Day! And other Hashtags

What’s the problem with Syrah? (Steve Heimoff)

Syrah is Awesome! Now how Do We Sell It? (Drink the Good Stuff)

Que Syrah Syrah (ENOFYLZ wine blog)