No Reservations Wine Tasting – Stage Left Cellars

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, Spain and Champagne.  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 an East Bay urban winery Stage Left Cellars.  My complete review of Stage Left Cellars, including history, a recap of the tasting experience, reviews of wines tasted, and insider tips may be found on the American Winery Guide’s website

No Reservations Wine Tasting - Stage Left Cellars

Melinda Doty of Stage Left Cellars

Here’s a profile from the East Bay Vintner’s Association:

Stage Left Cellars’ backstory:

Melinda and her husband Rich Williams collaborate to make wine for Stage Left Cellars. When they first met he was a wine collector and she just tasted the wine. Eventually she drank through his collection and said, “We need to start making wine”. They began commercially in 2004 in Paso Robles. When they began looking for a new space in 2009 they chose the urban setting of Oakland.

Their fruit sources:

They work with 10 different growers to bring in fruit from Santa Maria, Russian River, Napa, Mendocino, Santa Ynez, Paso Robles, Russian River, Napa, Mendocino, Rogue Valley (Oregon) and Del Rio. Melinda says that one of the greatest things about the business is being able to use different vineyards and having a choice.

That first wine:

It was a Spanish-style wine called the day job made in 2004. Following that they are currently focused on Rhone varietals and on single vineyard designate varieties as well as blends: Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Carignane, Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne.

There are no shortcuts at Stage Left Cellars:

Their wines aren’t found on every grocery shelf or every wine shop. Visits (by appointment) are encouraged in order to really understanding and enjoy the breath of what they do. They are so passionate and don’t take shortcuts; they sort clusters, de-stem, do tons of berry sorting. They barrel ferment their whites with meticulous temperature control. Each wine is developed to bring out different characteristic and to naturally build complexity. 

What is behind the name?

“Stage left is our exit strategy! We believe life is about balance. What’s keeping you from doing what you want? Where are the answers? They think if you keep drinking it’ll come to you.”

What they love about Oakland and the East Bay:

They live in Jack London Square, and feel Oakland is the perfect setting for them and their winemaking. Oakland is a little gritty but super diverse and has so many great restaurants. It is a place to discover little pockets of greatness. Often visitors to the winery will come in from an East Bay wineries bike tours. After growing up in Indiana, Melinda wanted to live in a big city, and together they wanted to raise their daughter in a diverse communal place.

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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. 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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

 

Wine of the Week; 2010 Stage Left Cellars – The Emcee

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  My Wine Of The Week is the 2010 Stage Left Cellars – The Emcee.

The Winery

Stage Left Cellars is an urban winery located in Oakland, California not too far from Jack London Square. By urban winery I mean their winemaking facilities are located in an urban setting, rather than in a rural setting near the vineyard.

The winery is owned and operated by Melinda Doty and her husband, Rich Williams who is the winemaker.   Melinda and Rich both had corporate gigs before they decided to exit “Stage Left” and pursue their dream of opening a winery.  Like so many winemakers, they were making wine in their garage before taking the plunge into commercial winemaking.  Their first commercial effort was the 2004 “Day Job” a blend of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Mourvèdre.

Stage Left is focused primarily on Rhone varietals and Rhone blends.  They source their grapes from throughout California and Oregon. Case production is about 1,200/year.  The wines are available by signing up for The List.

Stage Left is open the first Saturday of each month, and by appointment.  The tasting fee is $5.  Stage Left was voted the “Best San Francisco” area winery for 2011 on the ABC 7 “A” List.  I highly recommend visiting.  You’ll enjoy the wine and they’re great hosts!

The Wine

The fruit for wine comes from the Vogelzang Vineyard in the Happy Canyon AVA, in the extreme eastern part of the Santa Ynez Valley.
It is called The Emcee because it was the 1st time Stage Left made a stand alone Mourvedre (so it finally took the stage on its own). They typically use Mourvedre as a blending wine in other bottlings such as The Breadwinner, The Day Job, The Globetrotter, The ExPat, etc…
Don’t let the alcohol % fool you. There’s enough acidity here to keep this wine from being flabby or jammy….

100% Mourvedre – 14.9% Alcohol; Retail – $26

photo (59)

My tasting notes follow:

Nearly opaque black red color with very appealing mixed black and red fruit, eucalyptus, leather, spice and lavender aromas. On the palate,  it’s medium bodied and well-balanced with very good acidity, a velvety mouthfeel and blackberry, red plum, red currant, and a bit of spice flavors that is underscored with an appealing minerality and earthiness.  Long satisfying finish. Drink now, but can age

Rating: A:  Every time I have a bottle of Stage Left Cellars, I ask myself why I don’t have more of their wines. This is an outstanding example of a refined, nicely balanced Mourvedre.   Wish I had more!

Pair with: We enjoyed this with a weeknight burger, but as fall approaches this wine would pair well with grilled and roasted meats, stews, root vegetables, mushrooms and dark fowl such as duck.  Step away from the Cab and into Mourvedre!

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
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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 BlogAll rights reserved.

Wine of the Week; 2010 Stage Left Cellars Go Getter

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out. For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2010 Stage Left Cellars Go Getter

The Winery

Stage Left Cellars is an urban winery located in Oakland, California not too far from Jack London Square. By urban winery I mean their winemaking facilities are located in an urban setting, rather than in a rural setting near the vineyard.

The winery is owned and operated by Melinda Doty and her husband, Rich Williams who is the winemaker.   Melinda and Rich both had corporate gigs before they decided to exit “Stage Left” and pursue their dream of opening a winery.  Like so many winemakers, they were making wine in their garage before taking the plunge into commercial winemaking.  Their first commercial effort was the 2004 “Day Job” a blend of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Mourvèdre.

Stage Left is focused primarily on Rhone varietals and Rhone blends.  They source their grapes from throughout California and Oregon. Case production is about 1,200/year

Stage Left is open the first Saturday of each month, and by appointment.  The tasting fee is $5.  Stage Left was voted the “Best San Fransisco” area winery for 2011 on the ABC 7 “A” List.  I highly recommend visiting.  You’ll enjoy the wine and they’re great hosts!

The Wine

The fruit for this wine was sourced from vineyards throughout California. The Viognier is from Alder Springs (Mendocino), the Roussanne is from Catie’s Corner (Russian River Valley), and the Grenache Blanc hails from the Russell Family (Paso Robles). The grapes were fermented separately, and were even allowed to sit on skins for a short period of time,  That add a bit of tannins to the structure, which not only should enhance ageability.

sl go getter 2

My tasting notes follow:

Aromatic honeysuckle, tropical, pineapple citrus aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied with a great mouthfeel, and crisp acidity accompanied by white peach, honey, and citrus flavors. Long finish.

Rating: A-

This wine was great at the table thanks to its crisp acidity. We enjoyed it with a variety of tapas from Rumbo al Sur, including Shrimp and Scallop Enchiladas, Mussels Moqueca, and even Chile Rellenos, for Mothers Day.

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 14.1% alcohol.
  • Closure: Cork.
  • AVA: > California
  • Varietal(s): 57% Viognier, 29% Grenache Blanc, 14% Roussanne
  • Retail: $34 (It was on sale the day I purchased for $26)
  • Cases produced: 290
  • Ageability: Drink now, or hold for 3-5 years

Other Related Posts:

Wine purchased 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

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.

Wine Of The Week: 2007 Stage Left Cellars Syrah

My Wine Of The Week for October 6 – October 12 is the 2007 Stage Left Cellars Syrah. 

The Winery

Stage Left Cellars is an urban winery located in Oakland, California not too far from Jack London Square. By urban winery I mean their winemaking facilities are located in an urban setting, rather than in a rural setting near the vineyard.

The winery is owned and operated by Melinda Doty. Her husband, Rich Williams is the winemaker.   Melinda and Rich both had corporate gigs before they decided to exit “Stage Left” and pursue their dream of opening a winery.  Like so many winemakers, they were making wine in their garage before taking the plunge into commercial winemaking.  Their first commercial effort was the 2004 “Day Job” a blend of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Mourvèdre.

Need a bit of inspiration? Check out the tagline that is etched on their bottles…

“What is the one idea you just cannot shake? Do you have the juice to pull it off? If not, why not? You time is now. The world is waiting”

Stage Left is focused primarily on Rhone varietals and Rhone blends.  In addition to this wine, they produce a Viognier, a Viognier/Roussanne blend, a white Rhone blend composed of Viognier/Grenache Blanc/Roussanne (it’s called the “Go Getter; I tasted at the Family Winemakers event last month.  It’s an outstanding wine, I rated it 90pts), Grenache, Petite Sirah,  and a nice variety of red blends.  They source their grapes from throughout California and Oregon. Case production is about 1,200/year

Stage Left is open the first Saturday of each month, and by appointment.  The tasting fee is $5.  Most recently, Stage Left was voted the “Best San Fransisco” area winery for 2011 on the ABC 7 “A” List.  I highly recommend visiting.  You’ll enjoy the wine and they’re great hosts!

The Wine

This was a bottle of wine I’ve had for a couple of years.  I’d love to tell you I meant to do that, but the truth is, I simply  overlooked my stash of Stage Left wines.  I still have a few bottles.  I won’t repeat that mistake with my remaining bottles of Stage Left!

The grapes for this wine were sourced from four different Central Coast vineyards;  Watch Hill Vineyard (Los Alamos – Santa Barbara County, McGinley Vineyard (Happy Canyon – Santa Ynez), Fralich Vineyard (Templeton Gap – Paso Robles) and Rancho Encino (westside Paso).  According to Stage Left…
Each vineyard adds a different element but it seems the westside Paso fruit really shows off with the black pepper on the nose and on the palate. Great acidity – really balanced – and lovely with food. This wine is drinking well now but we expect this to be fantastic in 3-5 years.
The wine was fermented with a combination of native and commercial yeasts.

2007 Stage Left Cellars Syrah

As good fortune would have it, the fact I held on to this bottle was fortuitous.  The wine is drinking beautifully now.  It’s got great balance and is definitely food friendly!

My tasting notes follow:

Nearly opaque black red color with beguiling aromas that changed as the wine opened up. I picked up roasted meat, dark fruits, and green olive notes, On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, smooth and fresh, with velvety tannins and black raspberry, blackberry, and spiced vanilla flavors. Medium long finish. 14.4% alcohol. – 91pts

Highly recommended!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Alcohol: 14.4% alcohol.

Closure: Cork.

AVA: > CaliforniaCentral CoastPaso Robles

Varietal(s): 100% Syrah

Cooperage: 20 months in French and Hungarian Oak (25% new)

Retail: $28

Cases produced: 195

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