Wines At Our Table; January 31st 2016

Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  It features my pick for Wine of the Week (WoW) – a  wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out for the week ended January 31st 2016

2013 Sato Pinot Gris; Retail – $25  This fascinating wine pours pink tinged orange color. Initial aromas of spice apple gives way to a complex and appealing cherry, spice, wet stone, rose petal, aromas with a hints of earth, menthol and a slightly oxidized note. On the palate, it’s fresh and savory with a wonderful texture, and dusty well-integrated tannins with spiced cherry, a bit of apple flavors with a bit of minerality. Lingering finish with a bit of natural, harmless sediment. Outstanding; 90-91pts

2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Cuvée Karatas – Retail $38 – Deep golden-yellow color with aromatic, perfumed floral, spiced citrus, pear nectar, and honey with a hint of wet stone aromas. On the palate it’s show surprising weight. It’s focused, and well structured showing lively acidity and great mouth feel with melon, spiced orange, tangerine, and honey flavors. Long finish. Blend of 60% semillon from vines in the Monte Rosso vineyard that were planted in 1886 and 40% sauvignon blanc from Kick Ranch; 50% new oak. Outstanding; 91-92pts

2012 Carlisle Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard – $38.50 – Purple/violet color with aromatic aromas. initial aromas that brings to mind truffles gives way to black cherry cobbler, chocolate, with hints of orange rind and strawberries. On the palate it’s round, with a great texture, wonderful acidity and well-integrated tannins with black cherry, blueberry, chocolate flavors with an intensely spicy long finish. 94% Zinfandel/6%Grand Noir Outstanding; 91-92pts

2010 Carlisle Syrah James Berry Vineyard – $40 – Shows beguiling blackberry, baked blueberry, black olive, licorice and, with some time in the glass, violet aromas.  On the palate its elegant,and fresh with an alluring texture with focused blackberry, blueberry compote , and vanilla flavors. If you’re thinking Paso means it’s not cool climate you’d be wrong. The James Berry vineyard is actually quite cool thanks to a considerable marine influence. 15% alcohol. Outstanding; 92-93pts

– Wine of the Week

It’s been a great week for wine in my book when I’ve enjoyed a few wines from Bedrock Wine Co. and Carlisle Winery and Vineyards!  We don’t typically drink this well throughout the week (I rated all the wines as outstanding), but we’ve been laying down Bedrock and Carlisle wines for years.  Now it’s time to start drinking them!.  Besides, I’ve featured the wines more than a few times as my Wine of the Week (“WoW”).

That makes the 2013 Sato Pinot Gris my WoW.  It’s a “natural” prolonged skin contact (3 months) “orange” wine of Pinot Gris. Yoshiaki Sato and his wife Kyoko have quickly made a name for themselves producing some of the most highly talked about and sought after wines in NZ. Yoshi sources only from organically farmed sources. He refuses to use any added yeast, enzymes etc. The wines are not fined or filtered.

This was my first wine classified as “natural”.  Natural wine can be controversial, in part because there is no universal definition of what, exactly, is a “natural” wine.

Wine lingo these days is full of references to “crafting” wines, and expression of place or terroir. It’s seems to be that a natural wine is the purest expression of place possible. I like that!

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I’m a huge fan of “orange” wines and this was one of the best I’ve had.  The fact that it’s a natural wine is a bonus for me.

More About Sato Wines from K&L Wine Merchants:

If there was a boutique producer in New Zealand that resonated with the micro-production, experimental, semi-hipster, natural, “culty” wines that have taken California by storm in the last few years, Sato would be it. Yoshiaki Sato and his wife Kyoko have quickly made a name for themselves producing some of the most highly talked about and sought after wines in NZ. While travelling in NZ last year many other winemakers I met were really quite jealous that I had managed to pry a few cases of each wine away from Yoshi (whose wines have very quickly become highly allocated and available only to mailing list customers). The wines are essentially “natural wines”…The only thing these wines see is a tiny addition of minimal Sulphur pre-bottling. They are pure expressions of place and season. They are made in miniscule quantities (often just a couple barrels – 100 +/- cases). 

Not for the faint hearted….this is almost entirely natural wine with just 10ppm of sulfur (about a tenth of most wines). The fruit is carefully selected and juice stays in contact with the skins for 3 months. The wine is allowed to slowly macerate in a pretty oxidative environment with very gentle pigeage for light extraction.

Here’s a video of Yoshiaki Sato discussing his approach to making “natural” wine…

If you’re looking for a natural wine that doesn’t compromise on structure and flavor, I highly recommend checking out Sato Wines!

The wines are hard to find, but K&L Wine Merchants has a stash (a couple are on sale too – I paid $25 for this wine, but it’s now on sale for $17. Check here.

Have you tried a “natural” wine? What was your favorite wine last week?

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wines At Our Table; January-17-2016

Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  It features my pick for Wine of the Week (WoW) – a  wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out for the week ended January 17th, 2016

After a bit of a hiatus, I’m happy to be back blogging about the wines we enjoyed over the course of a week.  Life, work and unfortunately a death in the family got in the way for a while.

2014 Dashe Cellars Rosé of Zinfandel-Todd Brothers Ranch – Retail $20; Strawberry red with red berry, rose petal, and peppery spice aromas. On the palate, it’s fresh with very nice weight, especially for a rosé, with strawberry, cherry, spice and a hint of guava flavors and a wonderful minerality. Lingering finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-90pts

Pierre Brigandat Champagne Rosé – Retail $30; Strawberry red color with perfumed rose and ripe red berries aromas, and plenty of active tiny bubbles. On the palate it’s juicy, and well structured offering focused cherry, tart strawberry, and raspberry flavors with a subtle, but very appealing minerality and a lingering finish. 100% saignee Pinot Noir Outstanding; 90-91pts

2012 Giornata Gemellaia – Retail $40; Violet color with aromatic cherry, cassis, anise, roast coffee,with hints of violet and dried herb aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, with a velvety texture and well integrated dusty tannins with dark cherry, cassis, a bit of plum, roast coffee, black licorice, and a hint of caramel flavors with an appealing savoriness on the back end. Long finish. 14.3% Blend of 60% Sangiovese, $30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Petit Verdot. – Outstanding; 91-92pts

2012 Domaine Bart Fixin 1er Cru Hervelets – Retail $40; A subtle touch of pencil shavings sets off ripe and relatively elegant notes of black and red cherry, earth, warm spice with pretty floral notes. On the palate it’s medium-bodied and layered with intense mixed red and black cherry, raspberry flavors with ample minerality, and a subtle rustic character wrapped around dusty well-integrated tannins and bright acidity. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-90pts

– Wine of the Week

After spending a week in the Philippines with my wife to attend my mother-in-law’s funeral, I’m happy to be back in good old U-S of A and the wonderful selection of wine we have here!

There was much to like during my first week back.  The Dashe Zinfandel of Rosé is very good and very food friendly as well.  It’s a bottle I took to the Philippines.  I enjoyed it with some grilled chicken there as I taught my twenty-something nephew a little bit about how to taste wine.  He’s way ahead of where I was, in terms of drinking wine, than I was when I was in my twenties! The 2012 Domaine Bart Fixin 1er Cru Hervelets was my first Premier Cru red Burgundy(and a nice value at $40 for Preimier Cru). And it part of an other worldly pairing with a double cream Fromager d’Affinois Truffle cheese! The best deal of the week though was the Brigandat Brut Rosé!  I purchased the wine via Cruzu.com, which is sort of crowd sourced wine buying.

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I found about the deal from fellow food/wine blogging buddy Jeff Burrows of FoodWineClick (check out his website for some great food and wine pairing idea/tips).  It was part of a mixed half-case which I purchased for under $30/bottle! It’s rare you find Champagne this good for under $30!  My WoW is the Giornata Gemellaia. It’s an outstanding Super Tuscan that I picked up on a weekend trip to Paso Roble/Cambria for my wife’s birthday back in November.  I found out about Giornata after reading Jon Bonne’s New California Wine last year.  We stopped in for a fantastic tasting and picked up this bottle and a few others.

About Giornata

From the Giornata website:The journey in creating Giornata started with a dream to create wines from Italian grapes grown in California employing the sensibility and philosophy of Italian winemaking. We work with the same grape vines (clonal material) as the best producers in Italy. The Central Coast of California posseses many of the attributes of the top wine growing regions of Italy. Our winemaking style leans more Italian than Californian in that we favor wines with balance and subtlety rather than intensity and extraction. We pick our grapes at lower sugar levels and handle our must gently in the cellar, thus resulting in wines that belong on the Italian dinner table possesing both ample acidity and tannin. Traveling to Italy on a regular basis, we continue to receive feedback on our efforts while researching Italian winemaking and viticultural methods.

Inspired by Italy - Crafted in California

giornata

The winery is owned by Brian and Stephy Terrizzi. Here’s what Bonné says about the couple…In addition to her vineyard work and his efforts with the Broadside label, Stephy and Brian Terrezzi have taken on the most frustrating of California pursuits: interpreting Italy’s grapes in the New World.

If this wine and the other we tasted are any indication, they’re doing just fine!

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

A #SundayFunday in Sonoma Valley

Last weekend my wife and I decided, spur of the moment, to head up Sonoma to go to the Fremont Diner and then do some wine tasting.

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We got off to a later start than we hoped for.  When we arrived at the Fremont Diner we were told it would be a 90 minute wait for a table.  Given its popularity (deservedly so – the food is straight up delicious!) – not a surprise.

We opted to get our food to-go.  We ordered a couple of favorites: Shrimp & Grits, and an Oyster Po Boy.

We recalled that near-by Cline Cellar has a wonderful picnic area.  We called over to be sure it was OK to bring in outside food.  We were told “No problem”.

IMG_3914 IMG_3915We picked up a chilled bottle of their Farmhouse White Wine – a Sauvignon Blanc lead blend, and settled in for an impromptu picnic…

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The wine was a perfect partner for our food!

After our picnic, we decided to hang out in Sonoma Valley rather than heading over Dry Creek Valley or Russian River Valley.  Beside, we haven’t done very much tasting in Sonoma Valley, so it was a chance to try some wineries we’d not visited before.

We didn’t have a plan beyond going to the Fremont Dinner to eat.  So we winged it (while we had a wonderful day , I recommend you do some planning via the very helpful Sonoma Valley website)

Our first stop was Tin Barn Vineyards.

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Inside the tasting room at Tin Barn Vineyards

Tin Barn Vineyards produces single vineyard wines highlighting the true character of Sonoma County vineyard

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All the wines were wonderful!  We picked up a bottle of their 2012 Sonoma Coast Coryelle Fields Syrah, and 2012 Ricci Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Our next stop was Schug… which was on my mind.  It a winery I’ve wanted to visit for years, but never did.  A day before, I learned that founder Walter Schug has passed in an article by Linda Murphy entitled Walter Schug – Sonoma’s Subtle Superstar

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The estate vineyards at Schug

The tasting room has an old school feel to it, and we tasted some a couple of Schug’s very good Pinot Noirs, a Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and this lovely sparkling Pinot Noir..

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We decided to check off another winery that has been on my list for years – Gundlach Bunschu Winery and Vineyards (“GunBun”)

The family has been in Sonoma since 1858!

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It’s the oldest family-owned winery in California.  They offer daily tours and tasting.  We decided to do a $20 reserve tasting that included 4 wines of our choice and the 2012 Vintage Reserve ( 94pts WA)

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The caves were closed when we arrived, but we plan to come back and do the cave tour…

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A cool mural on the Gundlach Bundschu property

My favorite wine was their 2012 Vintage Reserve –  a Bordeaux Blend

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After GunBun, we headed over to the Sonoma Plaza to do some window shopping, visit another winery, and maybe grab a treat before heading home.

After some window shopping, we visited Hawkes Wine.

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Hawkes is not new to us.  We’ve visited their other location in Alexander Valley a few times.  We really enjoy their wines, so we were glad to see their tasting room in the plaza.

I thought all the wines were memorable….

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But the treat of the day was when they poured their 2006 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from magnum!

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After Hawkes, we decided to grab a coffee, and for my wife, a cookie at Basque Boulangerie Cafe.

I was in the mood for some ice cream, so stopped at Sweet Scoops Homemade Ice Cream.

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After trying several samples, i settled on “A-Lotta-Choco-Lotta”.  It’s some of the best chocolate ice cream, I’ve ever had!

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It was a sweet ending  to an awesome day in Sonoma Valley! On our drive home we asked ourselves why we don’t visit the area more often.  We will…and I recommend you do too!

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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.

Wines At Our Table; September 6th, 2015

Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  It features my pick for Wine of the Week (WoW) – a  wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out for the week ended September 6th, 2015

2011 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel Old Vines Todd Brothers Ranch – Retail $35
Ruby color with appealing brambly dark cherry, blackberry, candied strawberry, cassis, and rose aromas. On the palate it show an elegant harmonious character with well integrated fine tannins and mouth-watering acidity with fresh cherry, tart strawberry,blackberry, cassis and spice flavors and a lingering spicy finish. 14.5% Outstanding; 90-91pts

2014 Two Shepherds Grenache Rosé Ceja Farms – Retail $22
Cranberry color with red apple, strawberry, and red grapefruit aromas that suggest a savory character. On the palate it’s light-bodied, and well-balanced with vibrant acidity, and tart strawberry, raspberry, a hint of cranberry, and spice flavors and a lingering, mouth-watering finish. 12.1% alcohol The grapes bespoke for Rose were picked at 21 brix, were then pressed into both neutral French barrel and stainless steel, and fermented with native yeast. Atypical for rosé, the wine went through malolactic fermentation (ML), allowing it to be bottled, both unfined and unfiltered, the latter also extremely rare for rosé. imminently quaffable, yet contemplative. Killer stuff! Outstanding; 90-91pts

2010 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Grown Napa Valley – Retail $57
Garnet color with aromatic, appealing black cherry, plum, cassis, dark chocolate, and leather aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, concentrated, with well-integrated dusty tannins and a plush texture with black cherry, cassis, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla and a touch of oak flavors. Long finish. Drinking well! 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot Outstanding; 90-91pts

2014 François Chidaine Touraine Rosé – Retail $15
Pretty pink color with fresh red fruits ands hint of citrus rind aromas on the palate its medium-bodied, and fresh with strawberry, cherry, and a hint of citrus flavors. Pinot Noir and Groulleau Very Good; 87-88pts

2013 Hatzidakis Winery Assyrtiko Santorini – Retail $18
Pale green color with gold highlights and apple, lemon zest, chalk aromas with a dusty note. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with zesty acidity. It shows apple, lemon, white peach, and mineral flavors with a dusty grip and a lemony mineral driven finish.Very Good; 86-88pts

Wines At Our Table; September 6th 2015

Wine of the Week:   I always consider it an especially good week in wine if I have the opportunity to “taste the world”.  Even, though vast majority of our wines are from California (mostly because I tend to prefer to “try before I buy – I also make a conscious effort to drink local), I still find myself very curious about, and wanting to taste wines from around the world.  If I had to do it over again, I’d definitely diversify my cellar more.

For example, I tried a two delightful wines – a Rosé from the Loire Valley in France, and an Assyrtiko driven blend from the Greek island of Santorini.  The 2014 François Chidaine Touraine Rosé was very good, and offers great value for $15. Chidaine has been a favorite producer in the past, and definitely one whose wines, in general terms, I’d recommend.  The 2013 Hatzidakis Winery Assyrtiko is a wine I’m featuring for a Greek themed wine and food posting for #winePW this week.  It was fantastic with Grilled Branzini with Ladolemono!

Heading back to Cali, the Dashe Todd Brothers Old Vines Zinfandel is a perennial favorite Zinfandel.  And, the Joseph Phelps Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, which I served to friends for #CabernetDay last week was among the favorites of our group.  But my WoW is the 2014 Two Shepherds Grenache Rosé Ceja Farms.  Two Shepherds is the labor of passion of William Allen (a.k.a. “Sonoma William”), a well-known Rhône enthusiast and former wine writer, blogger. He was a garagiste for years before moving into commercial production in 2010. 

I used to follow William when I started this blog in 2010. His was one of the blogs I “looked up” to.  Not only do we share a passion for Rhone wine, we also share a passion for Rosé Each year I look forward to his Rosé. They’re always well crafted, and especially food friendly!  If you’re a fan of Rosé or Rhone-inspired wines crafted with an Old World aesthetic, I enthusiastically recommend Two Shepherds!

More About Two Shepherds

From the winery:

“Two Shepherds” does not refer to two individuals, instead its a literal and figurative representation of two focal points:

“Shepherd of the Palate” represents  winemaker William Allen’s desire as a wine enthusiast and blogger to “shepherd” palates back to old world style wines, as well as a name suggested by local Sonoma County friends for his work and leadership to Sonoma County and Rhone wines. Wiliam’s palate and recommendations are widely followed on Social media, and he is regularly helping introduce wine enthusiasts to other wineries.

“Shepherd of the Grape” represents William’s wine making philosophy of minimal intervention and manipulation.  As a winemaker his job is to protect the grapes from harm, such as contamination, but gently guide them from grapevine to barrel to bottle, so that you can experience them as an authentic representation of the grape variety and each years unique vintage.

His wines have been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, Press Democrat, Wine & Spirits Magazine, 7×7 Magazine, Edible, Terroirist, Vinography, and numerous online publications.  Two Shepherds was named as a Top Ten Hot Brand by Wine Business Monthly in 2012. Recently, Two Shepherds was one of the 125 wineries profiled in Jon Bonné’s new book, “The New California Wine: A Guide to the Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste.”

Follow my reviews on Vivino and Delectable

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated

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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.

#WineWednesday Review; A Taste of Silver Trident Winery

From time to time, I receive wines samples from wineries or their public relations agencies for review.  I feature such samples on here on #WineWednesday Review. This week I’m featuring two distinctive wines from Silver Trident Winery.

The Winery

Silver Trident Winery is a Napa Valley based winery located in Yountville that offers a completely different and singular wine tasting experience. Its Tuscan style “tasting home” offers a sit down tasting in a setting featuring Ralph Lauren furniture, home decor, and other accessories. In fact, it is the only Ralph Lauren outlet combined with a winery in the world!  Not only that,  but everything in the tasting room, which is one of a kind (not sold in any Ralph Lauren shops or their website), is for sale.

I had a chance to visit a couple of months ago. It truly was a one of a kind, marvelous experience.  Certainly the Ralph Lauren furnishings, decor and accessories were alluring. And you can’t beat the combination of comfort, style and hospitality offered.

But I’m more about the wine.

I’m pleased to report the wines are on par with the rest of the experience!

#WineWednesday Review; A Taste of Silver Trident Winery

L-R; 2014 Symphony No. 9 Sauvignon Blanc and 2014 Apollo’s Folly Rose of Pinot Noir

In addition to the two wines tasted here, Silver Trident also 2012 Playing With Fire (A Napa Valley Red Blend, $45), 2013 Benevolent Dictator (Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, $55) and the 2010 Twenty Seven Fathoms (Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $90)

The Wines

2014 Silver Trident Sauvignon Blanc Symphony No. 9 – USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
Very pale straw color with appealing grapefruit, lemon peel, tropical fruit and a hint of chalk aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied with a great texture, depth and bright acidity. It shows grapefruit, lemon peel, and white peach flavors with a mineral note and a lingering satisfying finish. Fermented in 70% Stainless steel, 30% Neutral French oak. 14.2% alcohol. Retail -$28 Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2014 Silver Trident Pinot Noir Rosé Apollo’s Folly – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
Pretty salmon color with strawberry, raspberry, stone fruit, and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with juicy strawberry, raspberry, stone fruit, and a hint of savory spice with a mineral element and a lingering finish. 14.1% alcohol. Barrel fermented in 80% stainless and 20% neutral French oak. Retail $28 Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

If you’re looking for a one of a kind Napa Valley wine experience, check out Silver Trident!

Follow my wine reviews on Vivino and Delectable

Wines provided as a sample for review.  Many thanks to Bob Binder of Silver Trident Winery  and Julie Ann Kodmur

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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.

No Reservations Wine Tasting – Heitz Wine 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 Napa Valley icon Heitz Wine Cellars.  My complete review of Heitz Cellar, including history, a recap of the tasting experience, reviews of wines tasted, and insider tipes may be found on the American Winery Guide’s website

Here are a five things to you need to know about Heitz

1. Believe it or not…The tasting is free…gratis..nada..zip…zero!

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© Bill Tucker; Heitz Wine Cellars

2. It all starts at Gallo

Joe Heitz got his start in industrial winemaking. During World War II, he was an army mechanic at a base near Fresno, and he got a part-time job at Italian Swiss Colony, a maker of bulk wines. He then went to UC Davis and got bachelor’s and master’s degrees in winemaking, which scored him a job at E&J Gallo. In 1951, he moved to California’s best-regarded quality winery, Beaulieu Vineyards, working for André Tchelistcheff. “They wanted Joe to replace Tchelistcheff when he retired,” his daughter Kathleen Heitz Myers says. “Joe realized that wasn’t going to happen for a while.” (Tchelistcheff didn’t retire until 1973.) Heitz left to set up the enology program at Fresno State until he got restless to make wine again. (Source)

Heitz Tasting Room Food and wine

Image courtesy of FoodandWine.com

3. A piece of the dream

In 1961, Heitz bought an eight-acre (3.25-ha) vineyard south of St. Helena on Napa Valley’s main drag, State Route 29. That land is incredibly valuable now, but then it was planted mostly to Grignolino and Heitz estimated he could earn $4500 a year from it. Joe and his wife Alice put in a lot of sweat equity in the small winery on the property, where Heitz’s tasting room is today. The winery still makes a red wine and a rosé from the Grignolino. Alice Heitz, now 90, loves the rosé. “It’s my mother’s favorite,” says Myers, now president and chief executive. “Sure, we’d make more money if we replanted with Cabernet. But if we just produced Cabernet, life wouldn’t be as interesting. It’s not all driven by the money. It’s keeping a variety alive.” (Source)

Heitz Winery

© Heitz Wine Cellars; Bill Tucker

4. Underselling the dust

Heitz is quietly one of the largest certified organic grapegrowers in Napa Valley. “Three-quarters of our vineyards are certified organic,” Myers says. But the labels don’t reflect that, nor do they all reflect prestigious sub-appellations. Trailside Vineyard, for example, is in Rutherford, but the label just says “Napa Valley”. (Source)

David Heitz is the winemaker; the tasting room is at the original Heitz vineyard on Highway 29.

© Heitz Wine Cellars; Bill Tucker | David Heitz is the winemaker; the tasting room is at the original Heitz vineyard on Highway 29.

5. Buy an instant vertical!

Heitz Cabernets are older than others in the market. “Joe always wanted it to be a finished product, so you can see what it is,” Myers says. Most wineries introduce a vintage, sell it until it’s gone, then sell the next vintage. Heitz keeps five vintages on sale at one time for Martha’s Vineyard and Trailside Vineyard Cabernet. The most recent vintage of both wines is 2009, but restaurants and wine shops can also buy the previous four vintages. “Restaurants love it because they can have an instant vertical,” Myers says. Heitz raises the price for older vintages, but seemingly not enough to make up for the cost of storage. “I don’t care, because it builds the brand,” Myers says. “It’s our belief that wines age.” (Source)

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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.

 

No Reservations Wine Tasting – Smith Madrone Vineyard and Winery

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, 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 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 to anyone who is looking for a great wine tasting experience!

The latest in this series features Smith Madrone Vineyard and Winery in the Spring Mountain District of the  Napa Valley. 

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

From the winery…At Smith-Madrone our goal is to make artisanal wines which are distinctive and are an expression of both the vintage and us, as vintners, but above all else, are wines which bring pleasure to the senses. Every year our wine is made from the same vineyards, pruned by the same people in the same way, cultivated in exactly the same manner and harvested at similar levels of maturity, yet Mother Nature stamps each vintage with a unique set of flavors, senses and character. Vintage dating is a celebration of that uniqueness and diversity.

 All wines made entirely from the winery’s estate vineyards surrounding the winery on top of Spring Mountain in the Napa Valley. Stuart Smith chose specific slopes with different exposures for specific varietals when planting the vineyards: eastern exposure for Riesling, southern and western exposures across flat stretches for the Cabernet Sauvignon and the coolest north-facing slopes for the Chardonnay. There are numerous historical sights on the ranch, as well as the huge array of natural beauty and wildlife.

The vineyards sit at elevations between 1,300  and 2,000 feet, on steep slopes which range up to 34%.

Current Releases

The current releases and my tasting notes follow:

2011 Smith Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 83%, Merlot 7% & Cabernet franc 10% from 39 year-old vines. Aged 19 months in French oak barrels; 1,070 cases produced; 14.3% alcohol

No Reservations Wine Tasting - Smith Madrone Vineyard and WineryDark Ruby color with exuberant cassis, tobacco, cedar, plum, spiced black cherry, and a bit of eucalyptus aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied and well-structured with ample cassis, black cherry, tobacco, and a bit of mineral flavors. Medium-Long finish  Outstanding; 92-95 pts

 2012 Smith Madrone Chardonnay

100% Chardonnay from 40 year-old vines.  Aged 8 months in 100% new French Oak.  779 cases produced; 14.2% alcohol

No Reservations Wine Tasting - Smith Madrone Vineyard and Winery

Pale lemon yellow color with promising green apple, pear. lemon cream, and limestone aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, fresh and harmonious with a creamy texture, and apple, pear, lemon zest, vanilla, a kiss of tropical fruit, and subtle spice flavors. Lingering finish  Outstanding; 92-95 pts

2013 Smith Madrone Riesling

100% Riesling from 41 year-old vines; 1,288 cases produced; 12.6% alcohol

No Reservations Wine Tasting - Smith Madrone Vineyard and Winery

Very pale green color with wet stone. lime, stone fruit, quince and a hint of lychee aromas. On the palate medium-bodied, elegant, and harmonious with mouth-watering acidity and a great texture with very appealing white peach, lime, melon, a bit of lemon and apricot flavors and a complementary minerality. Lingering finish.Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

I highly recommend these wines and a visit to Smith-Madrone!

Samples provided for review. Many thank to Julie Ann Kodmur!

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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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

 

Top 25 IPOB San Francisco Tasting Favorites

Last week I attended the In Pursuit of Balance (“IPOB”) San Francisco consumer tasting held at City View at Metreon.  IPOB is a non-profit organization founded in 2011 to promote dialogue around the meaning of balance in California pinot noir and chardonnay.

This growing group of producers is seeking a different direction with their wines, both in the vineyard and the winery. This direction focuses on balance, non-manipulation in the cellar, and the promotion of the fundamental varietal characteristics which make pinot noir and chardonnay great – subtlety, poise and the ability of these grapes to serve as profound vehicles for the expression of terroir.” (You can check out their manifesto here)

This tasting came to my attention a couple of years ago. At the time, I was on the verge of becoming an ABCer (Anything But Chardonnay).

Then I was invited to a Chablis tasting that change the way I viewed Chardonnay.  And Burgundy.

I loved the wines, and have since purchased a few bottles here and there. But, generally prefer supporting local (California) wineries.

As I began to research stellar California producers that vinified Chardonnay in stainless steel and/or take a more light-handed approach to use of oak, I keep coming across names like Failla, Littorai, HanzellMount Eden, and Varner (plus some newer kids on the block like Liquid Farm,and Knez)  

The same could be said for Pinot Noir.

I soon discovered the challenge with buying the wines of  most of the aforementioned producers is that their sold wines exclusively through mailing lists.  And most of the mailing list have wait lists.

Since I tend to be a “try before I buy” kind of guy, IPOB was the perfect opportunity to taste wines from the “rock stars” of California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Would they live up to the hype?

Here’s a list of the wineries that poured:

Au Bon Climat – Big Basin – Calera – Ceritas – Chanin – Cobb – Copain – Domaine de la Cote – Drew – Failla – Flowers – Hanzell – Hirsch – Knez – Kutch – LaRue – LIOCO – Liquid Farm – Littorai – Lutum – Matthiasson – Mindego Ridge – Mount Eden – Native9 – Ojai – Peay – Red Car – Sandhi – Twomey – Tyler – Varner – Wenzlau – Wind Gap 

According to the top-notch tasting booklet provided when I checked in, there were over 135 wines available for tasting.

I knew there was no way I was going to be able to taste them all in the 3 hours allotted for the tasting.

I decided to focus on Chardonnay first, then taste the Pinots if I had time and/or my palate wasn’t too fatigued.

IMG_1876

I tasted 46 Chardonnays.  My favorites (in alphabetical order) were:

  • 2013 Copain Chardonnay Dupratt Vineyard
  • 2013 Failla Chardonnay Fort Ross – Seaview
  • 2013 Failla Chardonnay Haynes Vineyard
  • 2013 Hanzell Chardonnay Sebella
  • 2013 Liquid Farm Chardonnay Golden Slope
  • 2013 Lutum Chardonnay Durell Vineyard
  • 2011 Mount Eden Vineyards Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains
  • 2012 Ojai Chardonnay Solomon Hills Vineyard
  • 2012 Tyler Chardonnay Sanford & Benedict
  • 2013 Varner Chardonnay Spring Ridge Vineyard Home Block
  • 2012 Wenzlau Chardonnay Estate
  • 2013 Wind Gap Wines Chardonnay Gap’s Crown

After powering through the Chards, it was time to take a break and grab a bit of food and water before diving into the Pinots.

The list of food vendors was nearly as impressive as the wines! More than a few of my favorite upscale restaurants were serving small bites. Check it!

Aziza – Bar Tartine – Cavallo Point – Nopa – Passionfish –RN74 – Scopa – SPQR –St. Vincent Tavern & Wine Merchant

Yowza!

IMG_1879

Nom, nom, nom…Wish I didn’t have to choose between noshing on a few more of these but the Pinots were calling me! (sorry didn’t get the name, or who made them, but trust me they were delicious!)

I came for the wine, but the food was quite delectable, and on par with the wines!

And as food friendly wines go…well I was in heaven!

IMG_1877

Porchetta Sandwiches with shaved fennel, arugula

After a short break, where I seriously considered not rating and tasting the Pinots (I certainly never considered not tasting the Pinots…are you effin’ kiddin me?)

I would have been quite content to put down my pen, hit more food tables, and simply savoring the plethora of fine wines.

Alas, my inner wine geek prevailed, and I willed myself onward to the Pinots!

IMG_1887

I tasted 32 Pinots.  My favorites (in alphabetical order) were:

  • 2012 Copain Pinot Noir Monument Tree
  • 2012 Drew Family Cellars Pinot Noir Valenti Vineyard
  • 2005 Drew Family Cellars Pinot Noir Ashley’s Vineyard
  • 2013 Failla Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch
  • 2013 Failla Pinot Noir Savoy Vineyard
  • 2013 Hanzell Pinot Noir Sebella
  • 2012 Hirsch Vineyards Pinot Noir Reserve
  • 2012 Knez Winery Pinot Noir Cerise Vineyard
  • 2013 Kutch Pinot Noir McDougall Ranch
  • 2012 Neely Pinot Noir Spring Ridge Vineyard Hidden Block
  • 2012 Neely Pinot Noir Spring Ridge Vineyard Picnic Block
  • 2012 Neely Pinot Noir Spring Ridge Vineyard Upper Picnic Block
  • 2012 Wenzlau Pinot Noir Estate

In my previous “favorites” recaps of events like this, I’ve listed my “top twenty” wines.  However, this tasting boasted a such a multitude of stellar producers, I added five more to my usual format.

Simply put, the wines lived up to the hype for me.  IPOB is the best wine tasting I’ve been to in terms of the overall quality of the wines.  Nary a dud among the wines I tasted. Though admittedly, there were a few wines I found to be elegant and complex that were a bit too austere for my palate.  Of course, as the saying goes ” your mileage may vary”.

Cheers!

Follow my reviews on Vivino 

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a 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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

 

Wine Tasting Club Blind Tastes 18 Merlots!

I can barely believe it, but the Pacific Pointe Wine Tasting Club (“PPWTC”) is 5 years old!  When my wife and I started the community-based wine-tasting club in 2010, there were only 3 folks who showed up for our first tasting – a neighborhood couple and a friend. The PPWTC has since blossomed into vibrant community of wine-loving friends with a strong core of 20, and probably another 20 folks who attend from time to time.

We celebrated our 5 year anniversary by choosing Merlot for the tasting, since that was the theme for our very first meeting!

Here’s how our tasting went down:

  • Merlot priced between $10-$35
  • All wines are tasted blind
  • Tasters are required to score all wines
  • The wines are scored based on 4 criteria (aromabody, taste, and finish) – each on a scale of 1-5 (1-low; 5-high). Therefore minimum score = 4 points and maximum = 20 points
  • Both average and median scores are calculated.  The winner determined by highest average score.  The median score used as tie breaker.

We tasted a total of 18 Merlots  Most (11) were from California, with France (4) and Washington State (3) rounding out the lineup.

This was our biggest tasting yet! There were 30 tasters.  Since a bottle of wine only holds 25 ounces, we split the tasters into two groups.  Each group tasted 9 bottles of wine.

Group 1 included 18 tasters with a diverse blend of “newbies”, sporadic tasters and “hardcore” tasters.

Group 2 included 12 tasters, and was heavily skewed toward more “hardcore” experienced tasters.

 The Group 1 winner was...

1. 2010 Guardian Cellars Confidential Source – $35

Guardian Cellars is a Washington State based winery owned by the husband and wife team of Jerry Riener and Jennifer Sullivan, a police-officer and reporter respectively.  The winery is based in Woodinville. Most of the wines have law enforcement inspired names like Confidential Source, Entrapment and Gun Metal. 

IMG_1462Here are the runner’s up….
2. 2011 Wente Vineyards Merlot Sandstone – $14
3. 2012 Markham Merlot>Napa Valley – $24
4. 2011 L’Ecole No. 41 Merlot Columbia Valley – $24
5. 2010 Hall Merlot – $20
6. 2009 Château Arnauton – $19
7. 2010 Mauvais Garçon (Bad Boy) – $14
8. 2010 Château Haut-Mazeris – $20
9. 2010 Jean-Louis Denois “Chloé” Limoux – $14

  The Group 2 winner was..

1. 2011 Cafaro Merlot – $35

Cafaro Cellars is located in St. Helena in the Napa Valley.  It was  founded in 1986 and is owned and run by Joe Cafaro. He has a long history in Napa Valley (since 1969) of making wine at select well-known wineries including Chappellet, Keenan & Dalla Valle, among others. Initially he made wine from purchased fruit but in the mid 90’s he acquired a 15-acre hillside vineyard right next to the southern boundary of the famous Stag’s Leap District. All fruit for Cafaro’s wines come from this vineyard. It is in a beautiful location slightly elevated over the valley floor set among rolling hills. He planted this with several varietals and manages all aspects of the growing and winemaking. His total production is about 3000 cases.(Source)

IMG_1471Here are the runner’s up….
2. 2012 Francis Ford Coppola Merlot Director’s Cut – $27
3. 2006 Turning Leaf Merlot Reserve – N/A
4. 2000 Markham Merlot Reserve – N/A
5. 2013 Hobo Wine Company Merlot Camp – $16
6. 2012 Charles Smith Merlot The Velvet Devil – $10
7. 2010 Curvare Merlot Carneros – $17
8. 2012 Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot – $15
9. 2012 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot Decoy Sonoma County – $35

The tasting was was a rare victory (well actually double victory) for the most expensive wine in each group.  That’s the exception rather than the rule for our blind-tastings.  The winner of Group 1 – Guardian Confidential Source edged the 2nd place wine, Wente Sandstone Merlot, which offers very good value at $14.  One the other hand, the Cafaro Merlot scored a solid victory in Group 2.  There were two surprises in Group 2 for me.  The first was that the  2006 Turning Leaf Merlot Reserve came in third. Turning Leaf is a value brand and I was surprised it did as well as it did with the more experienced tasters. The other is that that Decoy Merlot came in last.

After the scores were tabulated and winners revealed each group had a chance to taste most of the wines from the other group. The Cafaro and Guardian didn’t last long…

It was an exciting night full of fun, food, fellowship and a bit of wine education! And isn’t that what a wine tasting club should be about!

Cheers!

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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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

 

 

 

2015 Slow Wine Tour Coming to San Francisco

You’ve probably heard of the “Slow Food” movement, which was emerged from Italy’s Piedmont region more than 25 years ago in 1989. The slow food movement’s mission is… good, clean and fair food for all.

What you may not know, at least I didn’t until recently, is that there’s also a “Slow Wine” movement.

Slow Wine Logo

In 2010, Slow Food International began its independent Slow Wine project with the release of a Slow Wine Guide(1)The guide adopts a new approach to wine criticism and looks at a variety of factors to evaluate wineries in their entirety, taking into consideration the wine quality, typicity and adherence to terroir, value for money, environmental sensitivity and ecologically sustainable viticultural practices.

“We have abandoned the very easy-to-understand, but ultimately also trivializing, method of awarding points and sought to look beyond the glass…What matters is a wine’s soul” – Giancarlo Gariglio and Fabio Giavedoni

Next week more than 50 winemakers from 15 Italian wine regions will bring their bottles across the pond for the annual Slow Wine tasting in San Francisco. An afternoon trade tasting will be followed by an evening consumer walk around tasting where you’ll have the chance to taste the wines about 100 wines!  Admission includes a copy of the 2015 Slow Wine Guide .  Here are the details!

When: January 29, 2015 – San Francisco

WhereTerra Gallery 511 Harrison St. – San Francisco, CA 94105

Times:

12.30 pm – 4.30 pm: open to industry Register here

6 pm – 8.30 pm: open to the public Get your ticket here

Discounts: Enter promotion Code ENOFYLZ for a $15 discount! 

Remember, in order to maximize your enjoyment and learning at public tastings:

  • Wear dark, comfortable clothes
  • Hydrate
  • Spit
  • Skip the perfume and cologne

Hope to see you there!

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(1) About Slow Wine
The Slow Wine Guide, published by Slow Food Editore (the publishing arm of Slow Food Italy**) adopts a new approach to wine criticism and looks at a variety of factors to evaluate wineries in their entirety, taking into consideration the wine quality, typicity and adherence to terroir, value for money, environmental sensitivity and ecologically sustainable viticultural practices. Slow Wine was conceived to give a realistic snapshot of the current Italian wine landscape. The guide features reviews of 400 different wineries, each one visited by Slow Food experts. It is available for purchase on Amazon.com as well as in select bookstores.

Related Post You Might Enjoy:

The Slow Wine Way – The Washington Post

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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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.