“No Reservations” Wine Tasting in Paso Robles – Tablas Creek Vineyards

My wife and I do more than our fair share of wine tasting.  We’ve hit all the major wine regions in California (and a few minor ones too;-), along with some tasting in Oregon and Spain.  From time to time we have a wine tasting experience that stands above the rest, and is everything we’re looking for – great wine and commendable service in a relaxed unpretentious environment. It’s those such experiences that are the focus of this “No Reservations” series.  Why “No Reservations”? Because I can honesty say I have “No Reservations”  about recommending the winery anyone who is looking for a great wine tasting experience.  The latest in this series features Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles.

My complete review of Tablas Creek Vineyard, including history, a recap of the tasting experience – including reviews of wines tasted may be found at the American Winery Guide’s website.

Founded by the Perrins (Chateau de Beaucastel) and importer Robert Haas, Tablas Creek produces estate-grown, internationally recognized Rhone varietals and Chateauneuf-du-Pape style blends from grapes including Syrah, Mourvedre, Viognier and Roussanne.

Tablas Creek Vineyard Tasting Room

Tablas Creek Vineyard Tasting Room

Tablas Creek is operated in much the same way as Chateau de Beaucastel, with a certified organic vineyard, an emphasis on wines of elegance and minerality, and an ongoing spirit of experimentation. However, for all its reliance on the expertise and experience of the French vineyard, Tablas Creek Vineyard is not trying to be a clone of its older cousin. According to Winemaker Neil Collins, “when people taste Beaucastel, they know it’s Beaucastel. I would hope that people will taste Tablas Creek and know it’s Tablas Creek.”

Tablas Creek Vineyard Sign Haas and the Perrins knew the Rhone varietals they wanted to focus on: Mourvedre, Syrah, Grenache and Counoise for reds, and Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc for whites. However, they felt uneasy about the quality of Rhone grapevine stock available domestically and decided to import fresh cuttings of all eight varietals from Chateau de Beaucastel. The cuttings spent three years in a rigorous U.S.D.A. quarantine program before being released to the property in 1993. Over the next decade, Tablas Creek’s grapevine nursery (the only on-site vine nursery of any vineyard in California) would provide millions of cuttings of high-quality Rhone varietals to Tablas Creek, and, eventually, hundreds of other producers around the West Coast.

Tablas Creek Domaine de Beaucastel

My wife and I have been making an annual trip from our home in Northern California to the Central Coast for the last 4 years, and Tablas Creek is at the top of our list for wineries to visit.  Highly Recommended!

Related posts you might enjoy:
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

A Taste of Fields Family Wines

From time to time I receive samples from wineries.  It’s mostly been from large wineries represented by public relations firms.  So it was a bit of a surprise when I received an email out of the blue from Ryan Sherman, Winemaker for Fields Family Wines, asking if I would mind if he sent over some samples.   

Is the Pope Catholic?

The Winery

Fields Family winery is a small family owned and operated winery is owned by Russ Fields(an Attorney by day) and his wife Melinda.  Winemaker Ryan Sherman (a Realtor by day) and his wife Jaylynn are partners in the winery.  The two first met around 10 years ago when Fields was looking to purchase a vineyard, and Ryan helped him with his search.

Fields purchased a certified organic vineyard planted to Syrah in 2005 and immediately got to work on the restoration of the property,  and construction of the Winery, the Main House and second residence.

Sherman is self-taught and self-trained as a winemaker,  but had the luxury of growing up in Lodi and seeking the advice and guidance of some of the area’s best growers and winemakers.

Our goal is to craft wines that showcase the vineyards from where they come and employ a minimalistic approach to winemaking. Grape growing and winemaking should go hand in hand – as winegrowers we seek to enhance this relationship.

Their first release was the 2008 vintage (released in 2010).  It was only 350 cases. Over the years they have gradually increased production. They produced 1,600 cased in 2013.  According to Sherman..that’s just about max of what we can do while keeping our day jobs and not getting divorce papers in the process….

So the plan for now is to continue to focus on small lots ( 125 to 200 case production) mostly from local vineyards the east side of the Mokelumne River AVA.  Working in small lots enables Sherman do most of the work himself and keep quality high.

In addition to the wine sample tasted, Fields also produces Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, a red blend (one of their most popular wines), and a Rosé.  Most of the wines are priced between $20-30 (the Mt. Veeder Cab is $59).

Fields has two tasting rooms – one of the estate and the other in Downtown Lodi.

photo (55)

The Wines

  • 2011 Fields Family Wines Syrah Estate - Dark ruby color with mixed red and black fruit, white pepper, vanilla and violet aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied and fresh, and well-balanced with soft well-integrated tannins. It’s shows lovely black cherry, raspberry, and vanilla flavors. Drinks like an elegant cool-climate style Syrah. Long finish. (A-)

100% Syrah from organic vineyard. Aged about 16 months in French oak, less that 25 percent new barrels.  Let the wine breath for 30 minute or so, and you’ll be amply rewarded for our patience! 14.2% alcohol; $22 retail; approximately 175 cases produced.

photo 1 (2)

  • 2011 Fields Family Wines Tempranillo - Dark ruby color with ripe cherry, baked raspberry, damp earth, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh, and harmonious with a silky texture. It shows ample cherry, black raspberry, vanilla, and spice flavors. Long finish. (A-)

100% Tempranillo from the Kirschenmann Vineyard (which has been generating quite of bit of buzz for producing great Zinfandel) Fermented on native yeast.  Aged around 20 months in neutral French Oak.  Let the wine breath for 30 minute or so, and you’ll be amply rewarded for our patience! 14.4% alcohol; $22 retail; 100 cases produced.

photo 2 (4)

  • 2011 Fields Family Wines Il Ladro - Dark ruby color with appealing fresh cherry, black currant, and black tea aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-full bodied with lively acidity, a velvety texture and dusty tannins. It’s shows rich black cherry, plum, black currant, vanilla, and spice flavors. Medium long finish. This one is a charmer! (B+)

Fields’ homage to Italian Super Tuscans.  It’s a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot from Lodi (90%) and Napa Valley. Aged in used 225 litre French and American Oak.  14.4% Alcohol; $25 retail; approximately 175 cases produced.

photo 3 (2)

  • 2011 Fields Family Wines Zinfandel Old Vine Sherman Family Vineyards - Nearly opaque garnet color with appealing aromatic kirsch, baking spice, white pepper and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate it’s full-bodied with a very supple texture, soft well-integrated tannins and solid acidity. Flavor wise, it’s opens with delicious ripe red currant, plum, mixed berry and spice flavors. Medium-long finish.  (A-)

The fruit for this wine is sourced from 55-60 year old vines on Winemaker Ryan Sherman’s vineyard. The wine was aged in French and Hungarian oak barrels, less than 35 percent new(for how long wasn’t specified).  This wine was better on Day 2 – let the wine breath for 30 minute or so, and you’ll be amply rewarded for our patience! 14.8% alcohol; $24 retail; Approximately 200 cases produced.

photo 4 (2)

I immensely enjoyed all the wines, and all offered a lot of “bang for the buck”.  My favorites were the Syrah and the Tempranillo.  They both showed a surprising elegance that I didn’t expect from wines produced from the Lodi AVA.  But here’s the thing – Lodi has various micro climates and the Mokelumne River AVA has a classic Mediterranean climate that is moderated by the river and the Sacramento Delta.  The cooler evening allow a longer ripening season and allowing the grapes to develop their full fruit character while maintain their acidity.  And that certainly is reflected in the Fields Family Wines.

Next time my wife and I are in Lodi, we’re definitely going to stop by…and you should check them out too!

Samples submitted for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
Related posts you might enjoy:

__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Naked Sparkling Fun for Valentine’s Day or Singles Awareness Day!

Sure everybody knows about Valentine’s Day, but did you know there is a “Singles Awareness Day” (S.A.D.) too? It’s celebrated tomorrow, or the 14th, or the 15th.  Makes sense too…there are plenty of folks who are single and not involved in a romantic relationship.

I say celebrate either way!  And nothing says celebration like a bottle of bubbly! So whether you’re looking to add a little “je ne sais quo“, a little “pop”, to your Valentine’s Day  or Singles Awareness Day celebration, think sparkling wine!  Better yet, think sweet pink sparkling wine! It just screams “It’s party time” – solo, duo or otherwise!

This sweet pink sparkling wine is brought to you by the good folks at Naked Rebel Winery.  Naked Rebel winery was started by two brothers Chip (“Winemaker and Professional Cuddler”), and AJ Forsythe (“Sir Money Bags”) who made wine while they attended Cal Poly.  Aside from this wine, sold under the Pink Panda Cellars label, they also produce a Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah blend for “the young at heart”

glow in the dark bottle

Pink Panda Bottle Glowing in the dark

Every bottle we make is printed with glow in the dark ink, so you and your loved one can find them in the dark.  You’re welcome.

There’s some clever marketing in full effect at Naked Rebel aimed straight at Millenials, and other casual wine drinkers who want to get their drink on without feeling compelled to be intellectually stimulated.  In fact, I suspect the good folks at Naked have another type of stimulation in mind. I think there are droves of folk who’ll they Naked hits the nail on the head when they say…

It is Pink, it is supposed to be fruity!

Because despite the ever-growing trend toward dry pink wines, there’s a big market for consumers who think pink and think sweet.  And they like it like that!

This one is worth checking out too because  behind the glow in the dark, cute Panda packaging you’ll find a good pink sparkling pink made from Pinot Noir.

Pink Panda Sparkling

Pink Panda Sparkling

My tasting note follows:

Pretty pink color with ripe fresh strawberry soda aromas.  On the palate, it’s fruity, and sweet with a moderately creamy mousse and strawberry and raspberry flavors.  

If you like your sparkling wine fruity and sweet, this is a fun quaff I recommend!  Proceeds from the sale of this Pink Panda supports  a good cause too.  For  every bottle you buy, Naked Rebel Winery makes donation to the Susan G. Komen foundation.

Pair with: Chocolate covered strawberries, strawberry shortcake, creme brulee, or for the young or young at heart celebrating V-Day, get naked and pair with your sweetheart! And for those celebrating Singles Awareness Day? I say you deserve to celebrate too!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 11% alcohol.
  • Closure: Cork
  • Where it’s from: > California> Sonoma>Alexander Valley
  • Grape varieties: 100% Pinot Noir
  • Production method: Charmat Bulk
  • Dosage: Demi-Sec
  • Retail: $18
  • Cases produced: 400
  • Drink: Now – 2014
  • >>Find this wine<<

Sample provided for review by Naked Rebel Winery

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff!  . Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Lompoc Wine Ghetto;Central Coast Wine Touring-Day 2

After a great day of tasting mostly Rhône and Bordeaux varietals in Paso Robles on Day 1 of our trip to the Central Coast, we decided mix it up and head south to the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, which is  between 1.5-2 hour drive south of Paso Robles.  While Paso is mostly known as home to Rhônes, Santa Barbara, in which the Lompoc Wine Ghetto is located, is mostly known for Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay.

We were introduced to the Lompoc Wine Ghetto (“Ghetto”) a couple of years ago  to when we made a side trip there from the California Wine Festival at Santa Barbara to visit  Palmina.  We also visited last year after a private tasting at Loring Wine Company.  We enjoyed it so much we decided to return this year!

Here’s a quick 411 on the Ghetto…

  • Loose collection of wineries located in the Sobhani Industrial Park in Lompoc
  • 18 Tasting rooms representing 20 local brands
  • Great place to go wine tasting due to the proximity of the tasting rooms to one another – the wine version of “One-stop shopping”
  • While there’s plenty of Pinot, and Chardonnay being poured, there’s a wonderful diversity of wine being offered in the tasting rooms, including cool-climate Syrah, and Italian varietals.
  • The place exudes the passion and energy of the winemakers, and the folks staffing the tasting rooms are knowledgeable and friendly.

I like what the Lompoc Wine Ghetto website says…

You won’t find great estates with rolling hills here, nor opulent tasting rooms with soaring ceilings. What you will find is world-class wine, presented in a laid back atmosphere.

Day 2 – Saturday; April 28th

Before we hit the road, we enjoyed a great breakfast at Panolivo - a family bistro in Downtown Paso for breakfast.  Think French country inn meets California.  Definitely recommended.

Lompoc Wine Ghetto Wine Tour Breakfast at Panolivo

Panolivo Egg Torta – Yum!

After breakfast, we were off to the prosaic landscape of the Lompoc Wine Ghetto…

No bucolic scenary…It’s definitely substance over beauty.  But a gun shop in the midst of all those fine wines?

It’s not everyday you find a gun shop next to a winery…Now that’s Ghetto! ;-)

Our first stop was Evening Land Vineyards:  

Address: 1503 East Chestnut Ave, Lompoc CA
Phone: (805) 736-9656
Open Hours: Friday-Sunday 11AM-5PM
Tasting Fee: $10
Food Available: No
Picnic Area: No

Evening Land was established by Mark Tarlov in 2005.  It specializes in producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from their organically farmed estate vineyards.  The vineyards are located in three regions renown for great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay fruit,  the Eola-Amity Hills of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the Sonoma Coast AVA, and Santa Barbara County’s Santa Rita Hills.

Their wines are organized into four tiers – Blue , Silver, Gold, White label. Each tier has a specific geographic focus.  The blue label wines have the broadest focus, and the white label wine have the most narrow focus.  For example, there is a blue label “California” Pinot Noir, whereas the white label Occidental Vineyard Pinot Noir is a vineyard designate.  The wines are priced accordingly and range from $30-$120. Production is 5,000 cases annually.

Here’s what we tasted:

  • 2010 Evening Land Vineyards Chardonnay Arroyo Grande Valley
  • 2009 Evening Land Vineyards Pinot Noir Blue Label
  • 2010 Evening Land Vineyards Pinot Noir Spanish Springs
  • 2009 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir, CA
  • 2009 Evening Land Vineyards Pinot Noir Memorious

My favorite was the 2009 Evening Land Vineyards Pinot Noir Memorious, which I scored 92 pts.  All the wines manifest a more European style – lower alcohol, higher acidity, and more minerality.

My two cents? – Recommended, especially if  you enjoy more Old World style wines.

Lompoc Wine Ghetto - Evening Land Wine Tasting Lineup

In addition to the aforementioned wines from Oregon and California, Evening Land also offers wines from from Burgundy.  We purchased this one…

Lompoc Wine Ghetto - Evening Land Burgundy wine

2009 Evening Land Vineyards Beaune 1er Cru Bressandes

We weren’t able to taste it,  but I picked up a bottle because I’ve never had a Burgundy, and I think Evening Land is a great place to start!  Now if I can only hold onto it for a few years!

Our next stop was Zotovich Cellars:

Address: 1500 E. Chestnut Ct.; Suite D, Lompoc CA
Phone: (805) 736-1600
Open Hours: Thursday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm or by appointment
Tasting Fee: $10
Food Available: No
Picnic Area: No

Zotovich Cellars is a family operated winery producing 100% Santa Rita Hills Estate Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay & Viognier.   The partners in the winery are the owner Steve Zotovich, and his nephew Ryan Zotovich who is the Winemaker.  We had the good fortune of Pete Zotovich pouring for us.  According to Pete, they produce about 1,700 cases of wine annually.

Here’s what we tasted:

  • 2009 Zotovich Cellars Chardonnay
  • 2011 Zotovich Cellars Rosé
  • 2009 Zotovich Estate Pinot Noir
  • 2009 Zotovich Estate Reserve Pinot Noir
  • 2009 Zotovich Syrah

Pete Zotovich showing a bottle of their Estate Pinot Noir

My favorite wine, hands down, was the  Syrah, which I rated 92 pts.  I very much enjoyed the Pinot Noirs as well.

My two cents? – Recommended. 

Next up? – Arcadian Winery

Address: 1515- B East Chestnut Avenue, Lompoc CA
Phone: (805) 737-3900
Open Hours: Daily – 11AM-5PM
Tasting Fee: $15 (For 5 wines)
Food Available: Yes
Picnic Area: Not exactly, though there is a small area with tables and chairs outside.

Arcadian is owned by Joe Davis.  He is a  believer in Old World (Burgundian) methods of crafting Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.  He has been making Arcadian wines in the Central Coast since 1996.  They are a true “urban” winery in the sense that they own no vineyards. Their wines are released after extended barrel aging.  They often lag the market by one or two vintages. For example, the most recent available vintage we tasted was 2007.  Production is 8,000 cases annually.

Here’s what we tasted:

  • 2006 Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay – Santa Lucia Highlands
  • 2007 Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Pinot Noir – Santa Lucia Highlands
  • 2006 Arcadian Jill’s Cuvée Pinot Noir – Santa Maria Valley
  • 2006 Arcadian Westerly Syrah – Santa Ynez Valley
  • 2006 Arcadian Purisma Syrah – Santa Ynez Valley

It was a challenge to pick a favorite because they were all outstanding (90+ point) wines.  But if you twist my arm, it would have to be the 2006 Arcadian Jills Cuveee Pinot Noir, which I rated 93 pts.

My two cents? – Highly Recommended

Up next…Loring Wine Company

Address: 1591 East Chestnut Ave, Lompoc CA
Phone: (805) 742-0478
Open Hours: Friday-Sunday 12PM-5PM
Tasting Fee: $10
Food Available: No
Picnic Area: No

Loring has been a darling of Wine Spectator (“WS”) for a few years now, consistently earning 90+ point scores for their wines.  That’s actually how I came to know about Loring.  When I subscribed to WS a couple of years ago, I was reading an issue and amazed at how many high scores Loring received.  I found out who they were, and purchased a bunch of wines from their vaunted 2008 vintage.  Subsequently, when my wife and I went to the Wine Festival in Santa Barbara in 2011, we made it a point to arrange for a private tasting on our way to Santa Barbara.  We had a great private tasting hosted by co-owner Kimberly Loring who is the sister of owner/winemaker Brian Loring, who was also on hand.  They were very gracious hosts,and we came away impressed.  Back in 2011 they hadn’t opened their current wine tasting room in the Ghetto, so we were looking forward to checking out the new digs and of course, the current releases.  Like Arcadian, Loring is an urban winery in that they own no vineyards. While they focus primarily on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, they also produce a Cabernet Sauvignon/Mourvedre blend called Divergence which has also received critical acclaim.  It’s expensive though at $100/bottle.

Loring’s wines can be polarizing. They tend to be unapologetically “big” ripe wines (I vividly recall Brian describing one of his Pinots as a “steak Pinot”…and you know what?…it’s true!) that some believe to overly ripe.  They have little in common with the Evening Land wines.  It does appear though, the alcohol levels have tapered off a bit the last couple of years.

Here’s what we tasted:

  • 2010 Rosella’s Vineyard Chardonnay
  • 2010 Durrell Vineyard Chardonnay
  • 2010 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
  • 2010 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir
  • 2010 Russell Family Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • 2010 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir
  • 2010 Rancho La Viña Pinot Noir
  • 2008 Divergence

My favorite wine was the Rancho La Viña Pinot Noir which I rated 92 pts.  And you’d be hard pressed to find a better value in Pinot Noir than their Appellation series Pinots (Russian River Valley, Santa Lucia Highlands, and Santa Rita Hills), which I highly recommend.   

My two cents? – Highly Recommended, especially if you prefer the big, bold Pinot Noir

Last stop? -Longoria Winery

Address: 1700 Industrial Way, Unit A, Lompoc CA
Phone: (866) 759-4637
Open Hours: Friday-Sunday 12PM-5PM
Tasting Fee: $10
Food Available: No
Picnic Area: No

Longoria is an “artisanal” family winery established in 1982 by Rick and Diana Longoria.  It was the first winery located in the complex now know as the Lompoc Wine Ghetto.  Their estate vineyard is the Fe Ciega Vineyard, which is located in the western portion of the Santa Rita Hill AVA.   The vineyard is planted mostly to Pinot Noir.  It was planted in 1998.  Production is about 3,500 cases annually

Here’s what we tasted:

  • 2011 Pinot Grigio
  • 2008 Pinot Noir – Fe Ciega Vineyard
  • 2010 Pinot Noir – Bien Nacido Vineyard
  • 2009 Tempranillo – Clover Creek Vineyard
  • 2009 Evidence

My favorite wine was the 2009 Tempranillo – Clover Creek Vineyard, which I rated 91 pts.  The 2010 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir was also outstanding!

My two cents? – Recommended

My winery of the day was Arcadian!  

All in all, it was a great day of wine tasting. After sampling 28 wines, all I can say is thank goodness for spit buckets (well at least for me because I’m the D.D….um my wife and her friend were a different story…let’s just say it was a quiet ride back to Paso;-) The Ghetto is a must stop destination for wine tourists in my book.

We did make one final stop after a full day off wine tasting…Surf Beach, which features a stop for the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner…very cool!

Surf Beach - just down the road a bit from the Lompoc Wine Ghetto

Surf Beach – just down the road a bit from the Lompoc Wine Ghetto

We’re already planning our return trip next year – Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise!

Wine Of The Week – 2009 Bedrock Wine Co. Syrah T-Block Hudson Vineyard

My Wine of the Week (“WoW”) for July 28-Aug 4 is the 2009 Bedrock Wine Co. Syrah T Block Hudson Vineyard.

The Winery

I previously did a post on the winery entitled Bedrock Wine Co: Where Old Vine Love And Transcendent Wine Making Come Together back in January, wherein I focused on the sources of Bedrock’s grapes.   Morgan Twain-Peterson, the winemaker/owner of Bedrock.  You can check out his full bio here, but suffice it to say he’s been making wine since he was “knee-high to a bug”.  Here’s what the “About” section of the Bedrock website says about the winery…

Bedrock is an itsy-bitsy winery making wine in a converted chicken coop. Fruit from only the most excellent vineyard sites is hand pitch-forked into the destemmer, fermented in open top redwood and stainless vats using only native yeasts, and are manually basket pressed by winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson into the sexiest oak from the coldest French forests.

In terms of the wine making process itself at Bedrock, it’s surprisingly Ole Skool (or as Morgan might put it “Cro-magnum”).  Grapes are pitch-forked into a small Zambelli destemmer, the punch-downs are manual, after fermentation the wines are basket pressed in an Italian press that is manually operated.   It’s a very manual and time-consuming process, but I can vouch for the results.  Peterson is making some spectacular wines!

The Wine

The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Hudson Ranch Vineyard.  According to the Hudson Vineyard website…

Hudson Vineyards produces 10 different varietals of fruit, all of exceptional quality in the distinct Los Carneros AVA of Napa, California. With 160 acres planted, we sell fruit to over 30 wineries throughout Napa and Sonoma Counties. Of particular note are those wines that receive vineyard designation status. While Hudson Vineyards sells grapes to over 30 wineries, only a handful of producers have vineyard designation status.

This is not only a vineyard designate wine,  the grapes are from a specific “block” within the vineyard  which takes the concept of  terroir to the next level of varietal distinctiveness.

The wine was fermented on native yeast with 33% whole clusters.

 

My tasting notes follow:

Inky opaque purple color with very aromatic meaty, smoky, white pepper, dark fruit and violet aromas. On the palate, it medium-bodied, and round with a velvety texture, and beautifully balanced cassis, black raspberry, dark chocolate, and spice flavors. Long finish 92pts

 

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Details:  14.8% alcohol.

Closure: Cork

AVA: Napa Carneros.

Varietal(s): 96% Syrah, 4% Viognier.

Production: 160 cases

Suggested Retail: $39 USD

Wine Of The Week: Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Merlot

My Wine of the Week (“WoW”) for July 21-July 27 is the 2009 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Merlot.

The Winery

The Robert Mondavi Winery was established in 1966 by Robert Mondavi, one of the most influential and esteemed winemakers in California history (Click here for his story).  It was the first major winery built in Napa Valley, and for decades was California’s most famous winery.  It was acquired by Constellation Brands in 2004.

It’s a beautiful property with classic California mission-style architecture, with the expansive archway and bell tower.  I must confess, I haven’t been in a long time.  I recall visiting one of my first trips to Napa.  Nowadays, I tend to visit the smaller wineries.  But after tasting this wine, and their Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (see post below), I’m going to have to drop by next time I go to Napa!

The Wine

The grapes for this wine are sourced from vineyards throughout Napa Valley including a couple of Napa’s iconic vineyards, To Kalon, and Wappo Hill ( 73% Stags Leap District (including 38% Wappo Hill Vineyard); 15% To Kalon Vineyard; 12% Napa Carneros)

What struck me most about this wine is  how well-balanced it is.  That’s the exception rather than the rule at its price point of $23!

2009 Robert Mondavi Winery Merlot

My tasting notes follow:

Deep garnet color with cassis, cedarwood, and hints of tobacco aromas. On the palate it’s light-medium bodied,well-balanced with fine-grained tannins, cassis, black cherry, blueberry flavors. Medium finish – 88pts

Recommendation: Highly recommended. It’s a nice value at $23!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Alcohol: 14.9% alcohol.

Closure: Cork.

AVA:  >CaliforniaNapa Valley

Varietal(s): 93% Merlot; 3% Cabernet Franc; 2% Cabernet Sauvignon; 2% Malbec

Cooperage: Aged in French Oak for 14 months

Retail: $23

Cases produced: Unknown

Media Sample

Many thanks to Folsom & Associates for providing the wine.

T.G.I.F. Champagne And The Like…NV Domaine Carneros Cuvée de la Pompadour Brut Rosé

Domaine Carneros was founded in 1987 by Champagne Taittinger of France in partnership with Kobrand Corporation. It is located in the heart of Carneros in Napa Valley, along with Gloria Ferrer. The Carneros terroir is ideally suited to producing Chardonnay,and Pinot Noir, typically the backbone of both Champagne, and California Sparkling wine. Domaine Carneros sources 95% of their fruit from organic estate vineyards, and all of their wines are labeled with the Carneros appellation.  Eileen Crane is the winery’s first and only sparkling winemaker.

Domaine Carneros is housed in a beautiful Chateau that was built in 1988. The building was inspired by historic Chateau de la Marquetterie in Champagne France, which is the estate home of the Taittinger family.

For my vegan friends, to my knowledge, Domaine Carneros is the only sparkling wine producer in the U.S. that makes vegan-friendly wines. And their entire 350 acre estate is all certified organic. 

From Domaine Carneros…

The Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé Cuvée de la Pompadour, celebrates the life and times of Madame de Pompadour (the great courtesan and mistress of Louis XV) who is credited with introducing Champagne to the court and was an influential tastemaker in the matters of art, architecture and philosophy–famous for her comment, “Champagne is the only wine a woman can drink and remain beautiful.”

NV Domaine Carneros Cuvée de la Pompadour Brut Rosé

Where it’s from: California>Napa Valley>Carneros

The grape(s) Pinot Noir (58%), and Chardonnay (42%)

Production method: Traditional Method 

Alcohol: 12.%

Dosage: Brut

Retail: $36

My tasting notes follow:

Pretty pink-orange color aromas of wild strawberries, sweet yeast, and a slight floral note with a persistent bead of tiny bubbles. On the palate, it’s displays a creamy mousse, is medium-bodied and fruity, yet dry with fresh wild strawberry, cherry, and a bit of citrus peel flavors.  Medium long finish – 90pts

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). This one would be wonderful as an aperitif , and also with appetizers and lighter fare such as watermelon-goat cheese bits, cheeses like Brie, or Fontina, or try with a  Nicoise or Cobb salad.  It would make a great wine to bring along on a picnic!

Highly recommended! Would purchase again!

Cheers!

Petite Sirah Smack-down – Round 2; 8 More Petite Sirahs…1 Winner!

The most recent Pacific Point Wine Tasting Club meeting was a continuation on our exploration of Petite Sirah (“Pets”), more affectionately know as “Round 2 of the Petite Sirah Smack-down” (In case you missed it, the results of the first P.S. Smackdown under “Related Articles” below).

It was warm evening so we decided to do an alfresco tasting.  It was the perfect day for this fantastic 100% Petite Sirah Rosé from Field Stone Winery…

2011 Field Stone Petite Sirah Rosé Heritage Block – Image courtesy of Field Stone Winery

My tasting notes follow:

Lovely pink-red color with cherry, plum. On the palate its full-bodied for a Rosé, and dry, with good acidity and bountiful cherry, raspberry, and mineral flavors. Medium finish. 100% Petite Rosé from old vine (100+ y.o) 13.5% alcohol. – 90pts

After some food, drink and lively conversation it was time to get to down to tasting.  We blind-tasted a diverse selection of  8 Pets.  Paso Robles lead the way with 3 wines, followed by 2 each from Sonoma and Lake County, and  1 from Lodi.  There were 10 tasters, a smaller – but more experienced group than the first P.S. Smackdown, when we had 18 tasters.

I snuck in a ringer for Round 2 – The winner from Round 1 – the 2010 Redtree Petite Sirah – to see how it would do…

The lineup + one more that arrived later!

The wines were blind-tasted in the following order (Click on the link for my detailed Cellar Tracker reviews and ratings):

And the winner was…

Yes, indeed the least expensive wine wins again!  No wonder Kermit Lynch said “Blind tastings are to wine what strip poker is to love”!

The order of finish for the runners-up were as follows:

After we compiled, and announced the scores for the Petites, we tasted this Rhone blend, which one of our wine club member plucked from his cellar…

  • 2001 Patrick & Christophe Bonnefond Côte-Rôtie - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie
    Garnet color with slim meniscus, and earthy dark red fruits aromas. On the palate, it approaches medium-bodied is smooth, and well-balanced with good acidity, and muted earthy cherry, raspberry flavors. Short finish. (88 pts.)

It was a fabulous evening filled with wonderful friends, wine,  and food!

Conclusion:  After 2 rounds of blind-tasting 22 Petite Sirahs (20 dry, 1 Rose, and 1 dessert)  what are my takeaways you ask (OK so you didn’t ask..but it makes for a nice lead in;-)?
  1. It was a very diverse group of Pets from throughout California, that reflected a variety of styles, though I think Petite too, is part of a trend we’re seeing toward lower alcohol, less jammy wines.  About a third of the wines were under 14% alcohol.
  2. If Zinfandel is America’s grape, then Petite Sirah is California’s grape!
  3. and last but not least…

Image courtesy of psIloveyou.org

Wine of the Week: 2008 Hawk and Horse Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

My Wine of the Week (“WoW”) for July 7-July 13 is the 2008 Hawk and Horse Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Winery

Hawk and Horse Vineyards was founded in 1999 by the Boies and Hawkins families.  It is located in Lake County, which is north of the Napa Valley. It is a family-owned and operated  1300 acre ranch that includes an 18 acres of vineyards  (15 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon planted in 2001, and 1 acre each of Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah, and Petit Verdot planted in 2009).  The vineyard soil is rocky, red volcanic soil that are a natural product of volcanic activity from nearby (now dormant) Mt. Konocti.

Their first release was the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon.  In addition to this Cab, they also produce a port-style dessert wine.

The Wine

The grapes used to produce this wine are estate-grown biodynamically farmed, organic grapes grown at elevations up to 2,200 feet.

This is a great Cab! What stood out for me was how well-balanced it was.  Initially, when I realized it was from Lake County, I expected  it to be priced lower.  However, this is a Cab that can hold its own with anything produced in Napa in my book, and is a good value when I think about Napa Valley Cabs that go for 2-3x, the price of this one.  It’s drinking beautifully now, but will easily age another 7-10 years. Highly Recommended

Hawk and Horse Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

My tasting notes follow:

Dark nearly opaque carmine color with beguiling dark fruits, cedar wood, cacao, and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, round, elegant, vibrant and persistent with black cherry, cassis, vanilla spice and a hint of cacao. Medium long finish.  - 91pts

Details:

Alcohol: 14.1% alcohol.

Closure: Cork closure.

AVA:  CaliforniaNorth CoastRed Hills Lake County

Varietal(s): 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot

Cooperage: 18 months in 50% new French oak; 50% 2-yr old French Oak

Retail: $65

Cases produced: 1,150

Media Sample


Petite Sirah Smackdown! 12 Petite Sirahs – 1 Winner!

The most recent Pacific Point Wine Tasting Club meeting featured Petite Sirah (“P.S.”).  There was a diverse selection of P.S.  from wine regions throughout Northern, and Central California.  There were three from Sonoma, 2 each from Napa, Mendocino, and Paso Robles along with Livermore, the Sierra Foothills and Santa Clara Valley.  It was big night in that not only were there 12 P.S. to taste, there were also 18 tasters!  The taster’s experience with wine was a diverse as the regions.  There were a few hardcore “winos” who have lots of experience with wine, but the majority of the tasters are less experienced.

As always, before we got down to the business of  tasting the wines, we had plenty of good eats,  thanks to our gracious host who served up all manner of grilled meats.  Additionally, everyone was asked to bring a dish that would pair well with P.S., so there was a bit of everything!   It’s always a pleasure to get a bite to eat, and catch up with everyone before our tastings!

The wines were blind-tasted in the following order. My tasting notes follow (click on the link for my detailed Cellar Tracker reviews and ratings):

The wines bagged and tagged. A couple of more were added later!

2008 Guglielmo Family Winery Petite Sirah Private Reserve - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Clara Valley
13.2% alcohol. $25 Retail 405 cases produced

2008 Clayhouse Vineyard Petite Sirah Estate Show Pony Red Cedar Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
14.2% alcohol. Retail – $35

2008 Concannon Vineyard Petite Sirah Conservancy - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Livermore Valley
13.5% alcohol. $15 Retail. 6,000 cases produced

2008 Pedroncelli Petite Sirah - USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
13.8% alcohol. $16 Retail.

2009 Kent Rasmussen Petite Sirah Esoterica Chavez-Leeds Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford $40 Retail

2009 Rock Wall Wine Co. Petite Sirah Gamble Ranch - USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
15% alcohol. Retail $35 291 cases produced

2008 Field Stone Petite Sirah Staten Family Reserve - USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
15.5 % alcohol. Retail $35. 636 cases produced.

2007 Barra of Mendocino Petite Sirah Mendocino - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino
Retail $22. 390 cases produced

2010 Redtree Petite Sirah - USA, California, Sonoma County  12.5% alcohol. $8 Retail. 3,416 cases produced.

2009 Viña Robles Petite Sirah Estate - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
15% alcohol. $26 Retail.  3,352 Cases produced

2009 Lava Cap Petite Sirah Reserve Granite Hill - USA, California, Sierra Foothills, El Dorado
Alcohol 14.8% Retail $30. 447 cases produced

2009 Artezin Petite Sirah Garzini Ranch Mendocino County - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County
14.2% alcohol. Retail $36.

Group results:

Photo courtesy of Jojo Ong

After the scores were tabulated here’s the winner!…

Yes…an $8 wine bet out all the rest!  By now, the results don’t surprise me, especially when a blind tasting is involved.  This wine is a great value, and at $8 it could make a great everyday wine!  I’ll definitely be looking for this one!  You should too!

The order of finish for the runners-up was as follows:

  1.  2008 Field Stone Petite Sirah Staten Family Reserve
  2. 2007 Barra of Mendocino Petite Sirah Mendocino
  3. 2009 Lava Cap Petite Sirah Reserve Granite Hill
  4. 2009 Viña Robles Petite Sirah Estate
  5. 2009 Rock Wall Wine Co. Petite Sirah Gamble Ranch 
  6. 2009 Kent Rasmussen Petite Sirah Esoterica Chavez-Leeds Vineyard 
  7. 2008 Pedroncelli Petite Sirah
  8. 2008 Concannon Vineyard Petite Sirah Conservancy
  9. 2008 Clayhouse Vineyard Petite Sirah Estate Show Pony Red Cedar Vineyard 
  10. 2009 Artezin Petite Sirah Garzini Ranch Mendocino County
  11. 2008 Guglielmo Family Winery Petite Sirah Private Reserve
NOTE:  All wines were media samples

The “Bonus” round!

After the main tasting was finished, we paired this “Port-style” dessert wine with two blue cheeses, Castellano Creamy Blue Cheese, and Trader Joes’s Aged Blue Cheese…

and two types of dark chocolates (one with 72% cacao, and one with 85% cacao) to see which pairing we preferred.

The wine was a hit! Here are my tasting notes:

2008 Barra of Mendocino Petite Sirah Bella Dolce Mendocino - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino
Deep dark garnet color with dark fruit, roast coffee aromas. Jammy decadent blackberry/blueberry cobbler and vanilla flavors. Long finish 18.5% alcohol. Made with organic grapes. Retail – $28 (87 pts.)

It was a toss-up between the Castellano creamy blue cheese, and the Valrhona Le Noir Extra Amer 85% cacao chocolate as to which of the chocolates and cheeses it worked best with.  I can tell you that both disappeared rather quickly.  For many it was their first time trying a blue cheese with red wine, and they found it to be a surprisingly delightful pairing!

All in all, it was a great tasting – with purple teeth all around! P.S. We Love You!

Look for Part 2 of the Petite Sirah Smackdown – Coming soon!