Saturday, May 18, 2019
Found this beauty in the bottom of the cellar hanging around waiting to be sipped. I've known the winemaker a few years ( we were both much younger at that time) and always enjoy Passaggio wines. It's been one heck of a journey for her from law enforcement to having her own winery and tasting room. The result, small lot handcrafted juice which showcases the vineyard and region from which the grapes are harvested.
The 2016 Pinot Grigio from the Windsor Oaks Vineyards is still pouring very nice. Once the screw cap closure was opened (no corkscrew needed so great for a travel companion) the aromas of sliced pear and white peach along with a hint of honeydew melon, lemon/lime citrus and floral notes race from the glass. The mouth shows excellent acidity and bright fruit. Cantaloupe, white peaches with a splash of papaya, zest of lime and honeysuckle. An easy sipper for the patio with friends or pair this with a nice white fish or pasta with white sauce dish.
Swing by the tasting room and visit Cindy and the staff located at 25 East Napa St Suite C in Sonoma. I have a hunch you will enjoy the experience.
Sunday, May 12, 2019
Consider being a farmer and planting fruits and nuts but then having the vision to partner with a wine historian/winemaker to develop a grapevine rootstock nursery business. Now let's say you sell those rootstock all around the valleys and beyond. Say hello to Martinez Orchards who continues today to not only sell their rootstock around California but that same rootstock is responsible for the grapes grown at Coble Ranch (Dan Martinez Jr and Santiago Moreno purchase this land together and co own the winery) home to Berryessa Gap Vineyard wines. What Nicole Salengo winemaker does with these grapes is phenonominal. Fruit, spice, floral notes it all comes together showcasing these rolling vineyards which become Berryessa Gap Vineyard wines.
We had the pleasure of tasting 4 wines this evening. Starting with the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc. Harvested from the Coble Ranch in Yolo County, then aged for 5 months in stainless steel. Price point on this wine $24. Aromas of green apple, pineapple, peaches, melon, lemon grass, wild daffodils race from the glass. The mouth is oh so tropical with tartness of the green apple, a splash of crushed pineapple, sliced ripe pear, lemon zest, and apricots. Mouth watering acidity. Not your average Sauv Blanc..... it's so much better!
Second wine of the evening the 2018 Rose. A blend of Zinfandel, Barbera and Grenache , the grapes were again harvested from The Coble Ranch in Yolo County and aged 5 months in Neutral French Oak. price point on this beauty $19. Aromas of cherries, strawberry, raspberry with a hint of lime zest. The mouth is delicious with juicy strawberry and watermelon followed by tart cherry, a hint of white peach and fresh lime. Slight hint of spice on the finish. Great Rose'.
The third wine of the evening the 2018 Chardonnay. Harvested from the Antonio Mountain Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap, this wine was fermented and aged in new and neutral French oak Barrels. Price point $27. The nose is outstanding with apples and fresh split vanilla bean followed by fresh honey and a hint of lemon. The mouth is creamy and vibrant with lemon custard, juicy peach and sliced apple splashed with pineapple and a puff of toasted vanilla/oak. Excellent expression of chardonnay.
Final wine of the evening comes from a can!!! Yes a can and if you were like me no good wine comes in a can. Guess what I found one the 2018 Tempranillo Rose' Alegria. Fruit was harvested from the Coble Ranch and aged 7 months in neutral French oak and stainless steel. No price point yet as it is not yet released. The aromas of dark cherry and raspberry with a hint of orange peel and cocoa powder. The mouth is juicy with cherry and raspberry followed by olives and dark chocolate. When this is released I'm ordering and taking this wine to the pool and those places that frown upon glass bottles.
Thanks to the team at Berryessa Gap Vineyards for allowing me to taste these gems. Nicole you are making some very fine juice. Thanks also to the Larsen Projekt for including me in tonight's tasting. And for those who wish to taste these wines swing by the tasting room at 15 Main Street in Winters CA from 11:30-8:30 Tuesday through Sunday.
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Never like to miss an online tasting but a last minute conflict caused a snafu on this one. The good news is I had the opportunity to taste these 4 wonderful wines over the course of several days. 4 wines 3 varietals and just exquisite amazing juice being created by Montagu Wines and Silver Ghost Cellars.
Westin Eidson founded Montagu Wines in 2012 producing wines which are balanced and complex. His production is limited and the grapes are from some of the very best vineyards in the valley. Really enjoyed reading his family "royal" history.
I started with the 2017 Montagu Pinot Noir Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley. I've tasted some great pinot from this vineyard and this one is near the top. Pop the cork and cola with dark cherry notes, red raspberry and strawberry finishing with a hint of forest floor. The mouth is loaded with warm cherry preserves, cranberries, strawberries and a splash of cola and vanilla. Intense ripe fruit yet so silky smooth. Love this wine Westin.
Next the 2017 Montagu Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley. In the glass aromas grannie smith apples, sliced peach, orange peel and lemon zest with a hint of allspice. The mouth is lush with sliced peach and pear, a hint of orange peel, lemon pudding and caramel cream brought altogether by toasted vanilla. Paired well with lobster ravioli from my favorite local Italian restaurant.
The 2016 Silver Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley comes from grapes harvested in Rutherford, Calistoga and Yountville. This wine is ridiculously good for $35. Red, black and blue fruit race from the glass once you pop the cork. Aromas of dark cherry, plum, blackberry, raspberry and blueberry mingled with sweet spice and vanilla. The mouth is full of lively fruit. Juicy cherry and blackberry followed by blueberry jam with hints of plum, thyme and faint mocha notes. The flavor just outstanding and such a soft long finish.
Finally we pull the cork on the 2016 Montagu Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Napa Valley correctly named The Baron. Aromas of raspberry, blackberry, plum, cocoa powder, black licorice and spice. The mouth is elegant and rich with blackberry, juicy plum and dark cherry notes followed by a hint of earth and spice. This wine tastes big at the start but so regal and elegant on the finish. Where is that beef filet to pair with this glass?
Weston a big thanks for sharing your wines with me and again my apologies for missing the tasting. I would like to hear more about your story and success. Robert as always thank you for including me. For the readers, above I have links to the winery websites. Buy these wines and sit back and enjoy some of the finest juice your palate will taste.
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
These are fantastic tastings when you find diamonds in the rough and these 2 are no exception. Janu and Jason Goelz the wife and husband team of Alara Cellars and Jason Stephens Winery, were our hosts for the evening along with Robert Larsen of the Larsen Projekt.
Janu who is a Bay Area Native has had quite the career. Commercial films to a corporate career, to fashion, weather and now wine. It was meeting Jason that lead to her becoming a wine professional and eventually a winemaker. The labels on her wines are an expression her love of fashion and very cool I might add. Jason who worked in the business world focused in finance, started Jason Stephens Winery in 2008. His cutting edge cellar technologies allows him complete quality control from vineyard to bottle and produce exquisite wines.
First wine of the night the 2017 Alara Cellars Pinot Noir San Benito Central Coast. From the first pour to the last the nose shows wonderful red fruit of strawberry, cranberry, candied cherry with hints of cinnamon spice and a splash of cola. Allow the wine to open and a bouquet of fresh cut roses circle the nose. Such a beautiful aromatic wine. Love the mouth with juicy strawberry, crushed cranberry and cola. This one is a keeper Janu!
Second wine of the night the 2016 Alara Cellars Tempranillo San Benito Central Coast. Pop the cork and notes of cherry and raspberry followed by dark berries, a hint of earthiness and herbal notes with a pinch of white pepper. The mouth shows clusters of dark fruit with an influx of red berry, dusty earth and a peppery herb finish. While I do not drink much Tempranillo I really enjoyed the complexity of this wine.
The third wine of the evening is the 2014 Jason Stephens Merlot Santa Clara Valley. The wine is 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet and 5% Malbec. In the glass chocolate and raspberry aromas race from the rim with fresh sliced plum and crushed herbs yelling drink me. The mouth is silky with cherry, blueberry jam, a hint of plum and vanilla bean with a dusting of cocoa. Top shelf merlot here folks.
Final wine of the evening the 2014 Jason Stephens Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Clara Valley. The wine consists of 77% Cabernet, 11% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 4% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc. The nose is rich with dark fruit (blackberry, dark cherry) with splashes of raspberry, cloves and licorice. The mouth is lush with layers of fruit blackberry, cherry and blueberry followed by cloves and a hint of toasted almonds. While a full bodied wine the tannins were soft and the wine so appealing. One solid cabernet!
If you are looking for small production hand crafted wines which reflect the vineyard and grapes, then I highly recommend the wines of Alara Cellars and Jason Stephens Winery. These wines do not disappoint. Well done Janu and Jason! Robert thanks for the introduction to these fine winemakers and their juice.
Sunday, February 3, 2019
A fantastic evening sipping and talking Steele Wines with a few wine friends across the country, Robert Larsen of The Larsen Projekt and Jed Steele of Steele Wines.
Steele Winery is located in Lake County which is north of Napa County and east of Mendocino County. It has the designation of being one of the least populated grape growing regions with a population of 65,000 residents in this mountainous area, of which you will find 32 wineries and 8,800 acres of wine grapes. While the Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes are varieties most popular to the region you will find Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo, Chardonnay, Barbera and Riesling.
Owner/Winemaker Jed Steele has been making wine in California for over 50 years. His longevity in the wine business has allowed him to develop key relationships with some of the very best growers and work with many different varietals. His varietal production is limited to around 1000 cases so that he can continue to produce small batch hand crafted wines.
We started the evening off with the 2017 Shooting Star Sauvignon Blanc. The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Dorn vineyards in Kelseyville and has been the source for the past 25 years. Fermented and aged in stainless steel, I loved the clean crisp character of this wine. Tropical on the nose, you get guava, grapefruit and loads of citrus zest. The mouth was vibrant with crushed pineapple and fresh squeezed grapefruit. The wine reminds me of the tropics of Hawaii or was it the guava aroma. Either way a great start to the night and $15.00
Wine 2 of the evening was the 2016 Steele Chardonnay Cuvee. The chardonnay is a blend of grapes from six different vineyards (Bien Nacido and Goodchild in the Santa Maria Valley, Sangiacomo, Durell and Parmelee-Hill in Carneros and finally Lolonis Family in Mendocino. Barrel fermented with the Lolonis steel fermented. The nose shows wonderful character with pineapple, mango, baked apple and spice. The mouth is rich with apple, pear and pineapple followed by baking spice and a hint of cream on the finish. Excellent expression of good chardonnay. $24 seems like a steal (no pun intended).
The third wine of the evening was the 2016 Writer's Block Cabernet Franc and I'll declare my favorite of the night. These grapes are from the Shannon Ridge Vineyards in the High Valley where you will find sandy soils with steep slopes at 1900 feet. The nose is solid with black licorice, plum and red berry clusters and cloves. The mouth is killer with juicy cherry and raspberry followed by a soft plum and dash of white pepper on the finish. At $17 per bottle buy it by the case folks it's that good.
Final wine of our hour tasting was the 2016 Steele Styme Syrah. The grapes for the Syrah come from the Jacobsen Vineyard on Jed's property which he planted in 2002. Additionally Jed gathers some fruit from Fiora vineyard. Aged in oak 22 months in oak prior to bottling, you can age this wine for the next 10 years. The nose shows dark fruit, spice with a dusting of cocoa powder and a hint of smoke. The mouth fantastic with red berries and blue berries surrounded by chocolate and barrel spice. Only 175 cases produced and a great price at $38.
Thank you Jed and Robert for including me in this excellent tasting. Folks stop by the tasting room at 4250 Thomas Drive Kelseyville Ca. I highly recommend you taste their portfolio.