Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas and a Happy Prosperous New Year!

It's been quite a year and I have many of you to thank. Building friendships on twitter and facebook has introduced me to so many wonderful winemakers, winery owners, bloggers, wine public relation social media folks, and friends just as nuts about wine as myself. Your friendship, insight and encouraging words are so much appreciated that saying thank you doesn't seem enough.
Over the past year having the opportunity to travel to Napa/Sonoma and meeting Amelia & Dalia Ceja of Ceja Vineyards, Rick Bakas formerly of St Supery, Christophe Smith of Titus Vineyards, Cindy Cosco of Passaggio Wine, Eric Luse of Eric Ross Winery, Jason Deloach of Hook and Ladder Winery, Craig Camp and the staff at Cornerstone Napa, the staff at Cuvaison in beautiful Carneros your kindness and generosity I will always cherish.
I am very excited about 2011. Using technology I hope to meet many more of you this year and look forward to live tastings online. So many ideas, so much energy around promoting great wine its going to be an awesome year for The Iowa Wino.

May all of you and your families have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

2007 Sharecroppers Pinot Noir Owen Roe

Once having the opportunity to meet David O'Reilly of Owen Roe Winery (located in beautiful St Paul Oregon) on both his visits here to Iowa, taste an outstanding portfolio of wines I was blown away and became an immediate fan. Each bottle that I purchase at the event tends to be consumed at an early age (wine is meant to be enjoyed right!) but this particular bottle aged a few months. Having my discussion with David he said it will be even better 3-5 years down the road. Guess I better locate a few more!

Honestly I could smell this wine all day long. Wonderful red cherry aroma as you first stick your nose in the glass. Cola as I swirl a second time followed by a wonderful spice and a hint of earthiness. Beautiful color on the wine and it's screaming "drink me now"!

Excellent Pinot Noir. The cherry and red raspberry fill your mouth like an explosion of fresh fruit. The hint of cinnamon spice warms the mouth and a slight touch of pepper at the end begs you to drink more. The finish is long and smooth. I purchased this bottle for $17.99 but it drinks more like $25.00.

Folks if you have an opportunity to partake in an Owen Roe wine tasting do not pass it up. Even better if David O'Reilly is there to sign your bottle and chat about his philosophy on wine making. Cool winemaker outstanding wines.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Charity Case Wine 2008 Napa Valley Rose and 2009 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Imagine my curiosity when a box arrived a few weeks ago with 2 bottles of wine produced for the Charity Case Foundation. Who are these folks behind the scenes and what kind of wine do they produce? Before I get into their story may I just say the individuals involved have a heart as big as California and wines that are outstanding.

Jayson Woodbridge of Hundred Acre, Layer Cake and Cherry Pie wines had an idea to create wines which could be sold to benefit Napa Valley Charities. As I learned that vintners were more than happy to contribute juice to produce these wines, it reminded me of my own travel this past June and the wonderful folks of Napa. Pat Woodbridge, Jaysons mother gathered the info to form the foundation. Add in Helen Mawson, Sheila Daugherty and Peggy Garcia. All services volunteered, the wines donated to the foundation are produced throughout Napa Valley and labeled with the Charity Case logo. Isn't it wonderful to know that all monies received are distributed to the charities ( The Wolfe Center , Cope Family Center, Aldea Children and Family Services and Foster Kids Fund). Yes generosity and good will still exists!

I chose to start my tasting with the 2008 Charity Case Rose' which is 100% pure Napa Valley. Lovely strawberry aroma hits the nose first. As a kid we grew rhubarb and I will never forget how pleasant the smell and the wine reminded me of being young again. The taste is to die for. The ripe berry flavors of cranberry, strawberry, raspberry are so juicy. I loved the little hint of white pepper at the end. Outstanding!

Wine 2 was the 2009 Charity Case Sauvignon Blanc which again was 100% pure Napa Valley. Nice citrus aroma of lemon zest, melon and apricot. Really smelled crisp and full of wonderful fruit. Pineapple and melon combine perfectly to start your taste off. The finish is a wonderful creamy coconut. Loved this wine as well. So refreshing!

Please visit their website CharityCase Foundation to order great wine and support a wonderful cause not only during this holiday season but all year long. To the folks at the Foundation, volunteers and all the vintners I applaud you for donating your time so that those less fortunate have opportunities to live happy successful lives. Special thanks to Laura Kirkham for introducing me to these wonderful wines.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

2009 Wente Vineyards Chardonnay Morning Fog

I knew the Wente Vineyards name but for some reason had never tasted their wines. My choice to serve with the Thanksgiving Turkey was their chardonnay which I purchased at my local wine shop.

Located in Livermore Valley which sits east of San Francisco, the winery founded over 125 years ago was the first California winery to produce a wine labeled as Chardonnay. The description of the vineyard on the bottle "Our Morning Fog Chardonnay is Estate Grown in the Livermore Valley, a region where the vineyards are cooled by morning fog that rolls in from the San Francisco Bay, resulting in longer hang-time and enhanced varietal character." Sounds like a beautiful place doesn't it!

The wine looked perfect as I poured it in the glass. Clear and crisp, the aroma of green apple and pear filled my nose first. Vanilla and fresh melon followed by a very slight hint of oak. Wonderful aromas and very pleasing to the nose.

The wine was a great pairing with the seasonings in the stuffing and the bird. I loved the apple melon combination at the beginning of the wine. The middle features a creamy vanilla along with a hint of pear and citrus. The layers of flavor are so well balanced and the finish crisp. Awesome bottle of wine and one I highly recommend if you love chardonnay.

To learn more about Wente Vineyards and the wonderful wines they produce click on the link to visit their website.

Cheers and Happy Holidays

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Three Sticks, Three Ways For the Holidays Tastelive Event

Another great TasteLive event which I was honored to participate in was live from Cellars Of Sonoma in beautiful railroad square downtown Santa Rosa California (as my buddy Scott Jordan can only say) hosted by award winning radio host, journalist and wine judge Ziggy "The Wine Gal" Eschliman. Loved the format via ustream because also in attendance was winemaker Don Van Staaveren who the panelists were able to bounce questions off and hear first hand his thoughts on the wines, winemaking and how well the foods paired with the evenings dishes. Chef Duskie Estes also in attendance provided some wonderful recipes for all of us to cook. Special thanks to Cailyn McCauley Tastelive's Managing Partner for bringing such a wonderful event together and my fellow bloggers for a wonderful evening talking wine (Grace Hoffman, Craig Drollett, Douglas Trapasso, Amy Corron Power and Joe Power).

As I said before loved the live visual of seeing Ziggy and Don along with Chef describe the wines and pairings making you feel as if your right there and not a million miles away :). We started the evening off with the 2008 Durell Vineyards Chardonnay and the pumpkin soup. The wine with the wonderful aromas of baked apple, pear, melon, butterscotch (yes as the wine warms) and vanilla. The texture of the soup combined with the creamy finish on the wine was outstanding. Apple, pear, melon and vanilla are a perfect balance of flavors so beautifully layered. Love this chardonnay!

Next up and you all know how excited I get any chance I taste awesome Pinot Noir was the 2007 Durell Vineyards Pinot Noir paired with duck. Because I was unable to find the main ingredient I substituted pork tenderloin. Wonderful nose on this Pinot with juicy black cherry followed by a fresh rose pedal. Black raspberry and spice round out the aromas. Great pairing pork and pinot. The juicy cherry, raspberry and spice was so smooth and drank like velvet. Officially the bottle did not make it through the night!

The final wine of the evening was the 2006 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Black cherry, blackberry, raspberry and plumb aromas filled your nose with a slight hint of oak. The fruit smells so ripe and fresh. The wine is a fruit sensation in your mouth exploding with flavor. The plum really comes to the front followed by layers of boysenberry, black cherry and black raspberry. Awesome cabernet!

Well folks as we fast approach the holiday's where we share good food and wine with our families, Three Sticks Wines are an excellent choice. Elegant, balanced, exceptional fruit in each wine Mr Van Staaveren creates. Thank you Bill Price and all the staff at Three Sticks Wine for treating us to some special juice. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

2003 Chateau St Georges Bordeaux St Georges St Emilion

If you have never treated yourself to a bottle of bordeaux its probably time you spoil yourself. Mine happened to be a gift from a good friend 3 1/2 years ago. Why did I cellar for so long? Cause it said best to consume in 2010 and 2011 is about here so now you know :)

Prior to even thinking about taking a drink the cork was removed for well over an hour to allow the wine a chance to open up. Once in the glass a wonderful dark fruit aroma of blackberry and plum followed by raspberry, a hint of tobacco and oak. Nicely layered and very pleasing to the nose. The wine is 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc.

Classic taste on this beauty. The combination of rich plum, juicy black raspberry, ripe blackberry was a palate pleaser. Earthy with a slight hint of oak but definately full bodied yet a soft silky finish. Excellent wine.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2006 Z-52 Zinfandel Lodi

I received this sample a couple weeks ago as I have been experimenting with Zinfandels. Still trying to find my way and it seems hit or miss with my palate.

The nose on this wine I thought was very nice. The plum and raspberry seemed to flow very well. Add in the black pepper spice and the wine has a pleasant aroma.

While I will start off with this wine was not one of my favorites it's only my opinion. I researched the web and found multiple reviews which showed folks were really impressed and liked the wine. Plum was dominant at the beginning with a hint of dark berry along with the raspberry. The black pepper spice was a little too much for me at the end. I'm more for wines with subtle spice vs bold spice.

I encourage you to try a bottle of the Z-52 Zinfandel for yourself. You have my permission to email me afterwards and tell me I'm nuts especially for those Zinfandel fans who love the wine.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

2006 Cambria Julia's Vineyard Santa Maria Valley

My first ever taste of Cambria was courtesy of my oldest child and her gift "Happy Belated Birthday Dad". Still trying to figure out how she knows good old pops is a Pinot Lover!

I knew very little about the winery before I tasted so naturally I headed to their website Cambria Wine to learn more about them and the wines they produce. Located 3 hours north of Los Angeles in Santa Barbara County, Cambria has been producing estate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah for 20 years. I guess I must have been living in a fog for all these years missing out on this wine.

When this wine hits the glass there is no doubt its great Pinot. The ripe cherry aroma fills your nose first. Next the combination of the strawberry and the cinnamon spice followed by a slight hint of vanilla is absolutely perfect. Nice bright color I am ready for a taste.

Silky smooth and full of ripe fruit this wine will not disappoint. Cherry was dominant on the aroma and its no different when you first taste. What was really nice is the cinnamon spice combines with the cherry giving you a warm feeling. Next the strawberry and vanilla appear and really completes the wine. All I could say when the bottle was finished WOW! Yes Cambria you have a new fan and now I must visit and taste more of your wine.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

2006 Ceja Vineyards Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Pondering when to drink the last bottle of wine purchased from my June trip to the beautiful wine country of California (which feels like a lifetime dear Napa and Sonoma), I could not think of a better pairing than pork medallions and pinot noir. The 2006 Ceja Vineyards Pinot Noir handcrafted in beautiful Carneros, was the perfect wine to serve. The berry flavor of the wine combined with the dried cherry pomegranate sauce over the pork was heaven.

In each bottle of Ceja wine, the fruit aroma is very intense and it's what I love about their wines. The 2006 Pinot Noir starts with the cola and the earthy raspberry aromas. Next I get a rich dark berry aroma and floral notes. Wonderful combinations of fruit and spice.

The wine in your mouth is elegent and rich. The flavors are very intense yet the wine so smooth. The raspberry and blackberry come right to the front as you first taste the wine and lingers long. Slight hint of dark cherry towards the middle of the taste. The spice while not overpowering compliments the fruit perfectly.

In talking with Amelia Ceja owner of Ceja Vineyards I asked her how she would describe the 06 Sonoma Coast wine. "Fresh and floral with hibiscus tea scents aromas. A savory medley of Jamaican tea, dried berry, herb and spice flavors."

My introduction and visit to Ceja Vineyards will always hold a special place in my heart. Trademark words the family lives by Vinum, Cantus, Amor......Wine, Song, Love. Found in each bottle of wine and any time you visit Amelia and her family. Stop by and visit their tasting room at 1248 First Street in Napa open daily at 11am.


Friday, October 29, 2010

2007 Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel Sonoma County

My next entry was a sample received the 2007 Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel from Ravenswood. A nice wine I paired with roast, vegies and a hearty gravy. Aged 18 months in French Oak the wine can be opened now or in 5 to 7 years.

Once in the glass the oak really game to the front and bold. Time in the glass opened the wine up with the black cherry and spice combination. Now comes the blackberry and a slight hint of vanilla. Outstanding berry aroma.

Surprised how juicy this wine is. The blackberry and black cherry start at the beginning and are present all through the long finish. Little oak, slight vanilla, spice but the ripe fruit is the star. Overall a very good wine, nicely balanced, concentrated ripe fruit. One I think you should drink if you're thinking Zinfandel tonight.


Friday, October 22, 2010

2008 Salvatore Principe Malbec Cafayate Valley Argentina

Another bottle break away from my norm was a wonderful Malbec from Argentina. Having tasted this varietal on a few occassions, I found that they are either hit or miss with my palate. The Salvatore was a wonderful wine.

Once in the glass the aroma of ripe plum followed by a wonderful spice really sets the wine up nicely. A hint of chocolate as I continue to swirl.

Nice silky wine. The juicy plum really starts you taste off. In the middle the spice really warms you and the finish is a wonderful juicy raspberry. I am excited to taste other Malbecs if they are as good as this one.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

2007 Cardinal Zinfandel Beastly Old Vines

Zinfandel was a wine I knew very little about and frankly I tasted rarely if ever. Some followers of the blog said Zins are great wines, full of flavor and enjoyable. Just happened that I was headed tailgating and picked up a Zin to go with the BBQ. Great pairing so it was definately time to try more of this great wine. I received the Cardinal Zinfandel 2007 as a sample and wow what a wine.

The first aroma once in the glass is an awesome spice. I really think it actually warmed my nose! Next the blackberry, plum, red berry round out my swirl smell swirl smell. Nice color on this wine as well.

Ok I now know why Zinfandel lovers get excited. The juicy plum begins your tasting pleasure. The spice appears in the middle of the wine and warms you. The blackberry follows up the spice and the finish is long and juicy with the plum/blackberry combination. Seriously good wine and one I will continue drinking. A big thank you to the folks at Cardinal Zin Cellars for a wonderful opportunity to taste their wine.


Monday, October 18, 2010

2008 Spanish Tempranillo and 2007 Cabernet from Chile

Yes you read correctly I have gone outside the box and tasted wine from Spain and Chile. A good friend nicely pointed out that I tend to migrate to the American wines and particularly the regions of California, Oregon with a splash of Washington. It's time to branch out and find some gem's from other parts of the world.

The first wine I tasted was the 2008 Senda 66 Tempranillo from Spain. The aroma of plum, red berry, spice, a hint of leather and mocha. Excited to taste this one.

Nice intense flavor. The plum comes right to the front at first followed by the red berry flavors (cherry and strawberry). Mix in the spice and what a great wine. The finish is juicy and long with the cherry/strawberry combination.

Next up a wine brought over to the house from Chile the 2007 Los Vascos Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Really nice wine here as well. The aroma of the red cherries and raspberry combined with a smokey tobacco started the senses off. A hint of pepper as well.

Luscious flavor on this wine. The cherry/raspberry combination along with the pepper and clove spice really made this a nice wine. The smokey tobacco in the aroma vacated the glass the longer the wine was open. So far 2 for 2.

The final wine another brought over was the 2007 Ecos De Rulo Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile. The aroma of the spice on this one to me overpowered the fruit with black pepper, currant and cloves. Some plum and redberry evident towards the end.

Definate full bodied cabernet but again didn't really excite me. The spice in the aroma carried over to the taste with the pepper and currant overpowering the red raspberry and plum. Nothing wrong with the wine but just not one I enjoyed.

Overall a very good experience with these wines offered from the regions of Spain and Chile.


Friday, October 15, 2010

2008 Toad Hollow Pinot Noir Goldies Vines

I can always count on recommendations from my wine friends when it comes to great wine. Toad Hollow wine at a price tag of $12.99( 1st Avenue Wine House) was in my opinion an absolute steal! Before you drink the wine though you need to understand "The Legend Of Toad Hollow"

The story of Dr Toad and The Dancing Badger who retired to the hollow is hilarious with or without a glass of wine. As you read the story you can really picture these 2 fine gentlemen and their friendship. Now before you proceed any further I am requiring you to click on the link Legend Of Toad Hollow but first a glass of wine. I would agree Toad Hollow creates some seriously great wine.

In the glass the aroma of black cherry and spice really treats the nose. Earthy leather, some red berry...... we have a good one here!

Talk about some great fruit used to create this wine. Black cherry very dominate at the beginning of the taste. In the middle the spice warms your mouth. The finish showcases the raspberry and the black cherry with a long juicy finish. Outstanding wine Toad Hollow!

If your planning a visit to the California Wine Country then Toad Hollow is a must stop. The tasting room located at 409A Headlsburg Ave in downtown Healdsburg, is open everyday from 10:30 to 5:30. Treat yourself to great wine.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Three Sticks Tastelive Panel Tasting 08 Durell Vineyard Chardonnay 06 Cabernet Sauvignon

What an absolute honor to be chosen as a panel member for the release of Three Sticks Vineyards 08 Durell Vineyard Chardonnay and the 06 Cabernet Sauvignon. Luscious fruit, complex flavors this wine will spoil you with each taste. Sharing the stage with the likes of twitter friends DrinkwhatULike, HoustonWino, SwirlGirls, Cellarmistress, WineWonkette, MyVineSpot, CailynQ, and Three Sticks owner Bill Price was truly an experience I will never forget. Highly recommend all wines from Three Sticks!

We started this evening with the 2008 Durell Vineyard Chardonnay. First I found the aroma of butterscotch followed closely by pear. Others were just the opposite. As the wine warmed I really saw the pear aroma come to the forefront. Lemon zest/citrus along with the tropical fruit/melon.

I paired this wine with an iceberg lettuce salad and Cesar dressing and how wonderful. The flavors of apple, melon, peach along with a creamy vanilla flowed perfectly. A wonderful lemon zest finishes the wine which lingers long. A wine which truly spoils the Chardonnay lover.

The second wine of the evening the 06 Cabernet Sauvignon I paired with an Amana Beef Fillet grilled of course. Another spectacular pairing but then great cabernet and beef are a marriage.

The aromas of black cherry and blackberry explode once in the glass. Excellent nose on this wine. In the middle juicy plum. Another wine I could smell all night.

Wow was my first reaction. Boysenberry and plum with spice was so very good. Very smooth, juicy and as I commented drinks like a wine well above $100. The flavors flow nicely together and neither overpowers the other. A blend of 82% Cabernet, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec this lush wine spoiled me.

I know your excited to try your own bottle. Please visit their website Three Sticks Wine and sign up for their allocation list or to learn more about their wines. A big thank you to Owner Bill Price, Head Winemaker Don VanStaaveren, Assistant Winemaker Tracey Bledsoe, COO Prema Behan and all the fine folks at Three Sticks. Superb wine, great people. You spoil me with each bottle I enjoy.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

2008 William Hill Chardonnay Central Coast

A new wine at my friend Traci's wine shop and a winery which I've never tasted before I chose the 2008 William Hill Chardonnay Central Coast. Great price point at $12.99 and a very nice wine.

Once in the glass a wonderful vanilla aroma hits my nose first followed closely by pear and melon. Love how the aromas blend together and anytime vanilla is present to me its a great one.

Excellent flavor on this wine. Pear and melon start the tasting pleasure. Next a creamy vanilla enhances the middle of the wine and the finish is a lime citrus. Long finish outstanding chardonnay.

Learn more about William Hill Winery by clicking the link to their website. "Renowned for crafting elegant Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot wines due to its exceptional location just off the Silverado Trail in Southern Napa on the Silverado Bench", I will be tasting many more William Hill wines very soon.


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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

2009 Dutcher Crossing Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek Valley

The second purchase at the all popular "meet the owner, winemaker" tasting event at First Avenue Wine House featuring Deb Mathy and Kerry Damskey was the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc. Up till this year I actually would "shy" away from Sauv Blanc due to the overpowering grapefruit flavor which I felt flat ruined the wine. Funny how your opinion changes when you find some folks who make great Sauv Blanc and now I really enjoy them.

Both at the tasting and home the combination of floral notes and crisp citrus on the nose really excited me. Some melon, grapefruit, slight pineapple along with a citrus zest rounded out my aromas. The wine is a blend of 79% Sauvignon Blanc, 4% Roussane, 10% Viognier and 7% Semillon

Excellent Sauvignon Blanc. The melon/grapefruit flavor was very mellow and combined with a lemon zest that lingered long. I pick up a hint of pineapple in the middle. No one flavor or aroma was dominate and I think that really makes the wine. Crisp refreshing I enjoyed this with some baked cod with a lemon zest in the coating and the wine paired nicely. I also enjoyed after dinner and found the wine alone smooth. I've found a Sauv Blanc I will always keep on hand! Matter of fact I found Dutcher Crossing to have outstanding wines which I will always have on hand for friends to enjoy.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cindy Cosco Owner Of Passaggio Wines Winemaker Interview

Talking with owner, winemaker, marketer and how ever many other titles placed upon her, you get a friendly perspective of the world of wine from none other than Cindy Cosco of Passaggio Wines and Crushpad. I have known Cindy now for about a year and after being introduced to her Pinot Grigio and Unoaked Chardonnay, you can't help not loving her wines. Visiting with her, you see the passion and excitement as she describes her wines, philosophy behind their creation plus the love of her job. I hope you enjoy learning more about Cindy and her wine.

Iowa Wino : Cindy you are always using the phrase "follow your passion". Where did this come from and can we say this is your motto?

Cindy: Wine has always been a passion of mine...I decided in 2004 to follow that passion and move to California to pursue it.  Here I am today living that dream.  I would say yes, it is my motto.

Iowa Wino: You were in law enforcement before wine making. Was it an easy transition?

Cindy: Law enforcement was a great career.  I thought it would be a difficult move but following what I loved made it easy.  The excitement of getting to do what I dreamed of doing made the transition a great one.

Iowa Wino: Can you give the readers some backround on the name Passaggio and your winemaking philosophy? What characteristics do your wines showcase.

Cindy: Passaggio means Passageway in Italian - it is a tribute to my great grandfather who came over from Italy to pursue his dreams.  My winemaking philosophy - all great wines are made in the make awesome wines that are balanced and that go great with food.  I believe that wine brings people together and that is what it's pair well with food and to drink with family and friends.  I believe the Passaggio Unoaked Chard and the Pinot Grigio are great food wines although they can stand on their own as great drink alone wines.  They are fruit forward - balanced - and really showcase the varietal in which it is intended.

Iowa Wino: You produce a Pinot Grigio and a Chardonnay currently. Why did you choose those varietals and will you be expanding the portfolio any time soon?

Cindy: Unoaked Chard and Pinot Grigio - two great white label is "New Generation" - I wanted to showcase these two varietals in the California style without the oak.  To create a fresh, crisp, clean, wine so that you could enjoy it just sitting out back watching the sun go down.  I am hoping to expand the label Passaggio and want to produce a Rose in 2010.

Iowa Wino: You juggle a lot of hats at Crushpad being the lab manager along with winemaking and pouring/promoting your wines. What's happening now? Is the harvest in full swing or has the weather delayed the process?

Cindy: Juggling lots of hats is what I do...I manage the lab at Crushpad and in charge of over 1500 different barrels of wines. I also am in charge of the white winemaking in which we have about 80-90 clients that make white wine. I also have my own brand that I try to promote. I wear different hats for that too. I do the sourcing of the grapes, make the wine, marketing, selling, blogging, twittering, name it I do it...

Harvest is underway but at a slow start. Grapes are coming in anywhere from two - three weeks later than last year. I do believe it will be a great year for the white wine maker. Sugars are at great levels, acids are high, and you will see lower alcohols.
Iowa Wino: What time of day are the grapes for your wines typically harvested? How far are the vineyards from the winery?
Cindy: The grapes for my wines are hand picked very early morning.  This year we picked on Sept 15th at 0630.  The vineyard is about an hour from the winery.
Iowa Wino: For readers who are unfamiliar with the winemaking process can you explain what happens with the grapes once they are received at the winery until they become "heaven in a bottle"?
Cindy: Typically for my white wines, the grapes are brought in and weighed first (I pay the grower by the ton) - they are then whole cluster pressed and put into tank to cold settle.  The next day they are racked off the lees and put into stainless drums.  I add the nutrients and different yeasts to each drum.  The fermentation period, hopefully, is about 14 days.  I prevent malolactic fermentation.  I do leave some lees in each drum for stirring.  They are then stirred each week.  I like to test for SO2 once a month and taste them then too.  I will do trial blends and at some point along the way they will be racked off the lees and will get ready for heat and cold stabilization.  Once they are stable they are ready for bottling...
Iowa Wino: You probably meet many different folks tasting wine from the beginner to the advanced taster. What's the best advice you have given to a beginner who may be trying to find wines they enjoy?
Cindy: I would say to the beginning wine drinker - taste as many wines as you can and find what you truly like. Everyone's palate is different so find the wines that you enjoy and stick with that. The fun part is tasting, tasting, tasting....
Iowa Wino: Final question as we wrap up the interview: Now that folks are interested in Passaggio wine (hint hint) where is it sold?
Cindy: You can find Passaggio in the tasting room at Crushpad 3105 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA - you can buy it at the Valley Wine Shack in Sonoma, CA - it is also available at the California Wine and Cheese Shop in Monrovia, CA - and of course on my website
There is even a link upper left side of the Iowa Wino blog to the website.
A big thanks to Cindy Cosco for taking time out of her busy schedule to speak with us as I showcase her awesome "boutique" wines on my journey of wine. If you have not tried Passaggio wine I highly encourage you to pick up a bottle today. Crisp, clean and the flavors of fruit so well balanced. Mouth watering yet?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

2007 Hook & Ladder Third Alarm Reserve Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

Ever had the chance to visit Hook and Ladder Winery located at 2134 Olivet Road in beautiful Santa Rosa California? Make time on your next tour of the Sonoma wine country and request a visit with the winemaker Jason Deloach. Passionate, full of energy and ready to answer all your wine questions the visit will be memorable. Plus he makes some very nice wines especially the 07 Third Alarm Reserve Pinot Noir which I enjoyed tasting at the winery and opened yesterday watching college football.

Huge black cherry aroma while I was pouring the wine into the glass and after my usual monster swirls. Next a slight hint of vanilla but the spice aroma is wonderful. Smells almost too good to drink (like that will ever happen in my glass).

Taste? Outstanding top notch Pinot Noir. Black cherry very juicy which lingers long into the finish. Slight raspberry flavor in the middle which is a very nice compliment followed by the spice and hint of vanilla. Nicely done on the oak its very mild in my opinion.

If you love wine don't miss your chance to enjoy wines produced by Jason Deloach at Hook & Ladder Winery by visiting the fine folks on location or via a retail location near you. No distributor in your area, the winery will be happy to ship directly to your door. Nicely done Jason.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

2008 Sharecroppers Cabernet Sauvignon Owen Roe

Well some neighbors stopped by the other night and he being a cabernet fan, my choice that evening was the Owen Roe Sharecroppers Cabernet. I picked this bottle up when winemaker David O'Reilly made his second trip to the ever popular meet the winemaker event at First Avenue Wine House. Naturally I had an opportunity to chat with David and have him sign the bottle.

On the nose the smokey aroma hit me first but the longer the wine was opened it relaxed. Next the aroma of blueberry followed by what I thought was blackberry but after further review was a deep dark cherry aroma. Some really nice spice at the finish.

Tom really liked this wine as he is a fan of washington cabernet and merlot. The first flavors we both picked up were the blueberry, cherry, strawberry combination. The spice and smokey flavor finished the wine off nicely but we were both fooled by the flavor in the middle of the wine. Hence the trusty laptop fired up, we noticed the tasting notes mentioned licorice and it was like a light bulb went off. Excellent flavor and being a fan of David O'Reilly wines, they do not disappoint. I really think this wine will get even better with age.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Promoting Boutique Wines and the Great Folks Behind Them

I bet you all thought by reading the title the post would introduce small production wines from passionate wine makers. You're partly correct. Exposing readers to wines which I enjoy, some which have been sent to me as samples ( I thank you wine makers because without some of your samples I would have never been introduced to them), some I have not tasted or had the pleasure of meeting it's time to add more material to the Iowa Wino blog. Boutique wineries to me are very small family operated, limited production, concentrated varietals from passionate friendly winemakers. The fruit to make these wines are some of the best grown and the winemaker uses what the fruit gives them to produce "heaven in a bottle".

A blog promotes the author's thoughts and ideas on a particular subject mine being wine tasting. My passion also includes promoting the small or boutique wineries where these excellent wines are produced. If you notice towards the top left of the blog you will see 2 wineries who are worthy of promoting.... Passaggio Wines produced by Cindy Cosco and Eric Ross Wines produced by Eric Luse. There is still room for more and hence the passion. Sure I may have received a sample from the wineries I am promoting or my visit with them on my trip to the wine country was enjoyable, but their logos and links to the respective websites are included in the blog because of the wine they produce and they have passion/character. No there was no "side agreement" that if a particular winery sent me a sample they were expecting a great review. Not the way I work folks. Why? I also have character and a reputation to uphold.

So here is how it works. Wineries could choose to list their logo with us for a period of 6 months (but there will be no minimum/maximum months just my recommendation from a good friend) there won't be any listing fee but more importantly exposure to readers across the country. Wines that I have tasted and absolutely loved will be extended and invitation to list because as I stated above, I am promoting these wineries! Upcoming interviews will also be posted on the blog. All that is asked of readers and wineries would be to let me know when they have ordered wine via the logo/link. There is more to the program but giving you the highlights was important. If there are wines you feel are very good which I have not tasted or should taste let me know. Wineries can feel free to email me for specific details.

We should all be enjoying these fine wines even if you do not live anywhere near where these beauties are produced. It's my job to make sure you know who they are and how you can be introduced to them.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

2006 Selene Dead Fred Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Thursday September 2 was Cabernet Day on twitter with people from around the world coming together to taste and share their thoughts on a bottle or 2 of Cabernet Sauvignon. Arranged by Rick Bakas of St Supery in Napa, I found by participating some new friends and some wine I must drink.

The bottle I chose for the evening was my last sample from Mia Klein owner and winemaker of Selene Wines and her trusty sidekick Tracy Hall. One very special cabernet I had the pleasure of enjoying this evening. Rest in peace Fred and watch over these wonderful grapes :)

Once in the glass the aroma of blackberry hits your nose first. Next the hint of blueberry, and on night 2 I picked up a slight raspberry aroma. The wine finished with a wonderful spice note. Nice concentrated fruit smell and a wonderful deep dark color.

Awesome wine to taste and enjoy. The blackberry very dominant throughout but not overpowering. Blueberry is evident in the middle followed by the spice finish. Very smooth for a wine with such intense flavor. Yes Mia it's a keeper but then you already knew that :)

Folks please check out the link to Mia's website Selene Wines for more information on all her varietals. Pick up a bottle or 2 and let me know how you enjoyed them. Mia and Tracy thank you again for introducing me to your wonderful wine.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

2008 Dutcher Crossing Saralee Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay

Deb Mathy owner of Dutcher Crossing Winery is an absolute hoot. Having the opportunity to meet her and winemaker Mr Kerry Damskey on their visit to First Avenue Wine House Cedar Rapids Iowa was a real treat. One of my purchases for the evening happens to be my next review the 08 Saralee Vineyard Chardonnay. While this wine is only available to wine club members (website shows wine club exclusive) I knew that having the opportunity to purchase this outstanding wine was a must. Heaven in a bottle is how I describe this wine.

Classic chardonnay aroma of juicy pear to begin your sniffing pleasure. Next baked apple followed closely by a crisp fresh citrus aroma.

Awesome smooth wine, elegant and rich. The flavor of creamy baked apple combined with the pear is perfect. Rounding out the wine is a finish of lemon zest so juicy and lingers long. I felt completely spoiled drinking this fine wine.

Kerry, you and Deb have created an absolute jewel in this chardonnay. I encourage you to read more about Dutcher Crossing Winery by visiting the link to their website and don't forget to order yourself a couple bottles of wine. I am anxious to hear how you enjoyed them.


Monday, August 23, 2010

2008 Eric Ross Saralee's Vineyard Pinot Noir

When my wife and I headed West to Napa/Sonoma for our June vacation, a must stop was to Eric Ross Winery in Glen Ellen to visit a native Iowan Eric Luse (owner, winemaker, photographer and head BS'er). My friend in DesMoines who had the pleasure of visiting Eric at one of the blogger conferences, said I would love his Pinot and all his other wines. Magic word wine and I am all ears.

The wine I chose tonight was one I purchased after a taste at the winery. The 2008 Pinot Noir Saralee's Vineyard exhibits the characteristics of a great wine produced from the russian river valley in california. First aroma once in the glass was that of spicy cola. I would have bet anything before I swirled we were going to get cherry but noooo it was the cola first then the wine opened up to reveal the dark cherry. Finally a hint of cranberry at the end and a slight hint of vanilla.

Could I hug the vines that produced this fruit please? Your first taste is the juicy dark cherry followed quickly by the slight cranberry. Impressed how the fruit stays juicy all through the finish and lingers long. Towards the middle to end the plum flavor appears and finally a slight hint of vanilla. The flavors compliment each other very well and really showcase the fruit used in creating this masterpiece. I would give this wine 5 thumbs up but I only have 2 :)

Visit Eric's website Eric Ross Winery to purchase some of his award winning wines for yourself. Would love to hear if you enjoy them as much as I do. Eric I will be placing my order shortly!


Monday, August 16, 2010

2005 Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Cathy Corison

This was the second wine we opened on Wine Wednesday courtesy of Wine Maker Cathy Corison and my last sample of her award winning to die for cabernet. My wine buddy Brett had the opportunity to taste the 02 and 06 cabernets and was equally impressed with this wine. Brooke who tasted Corison for the first time was very impressed. Myself..... I was sad when the bottle was dry :)

Right away we each commented on the aroma of the fruit. The dark fruit of blackberry, blueberry and dark cherry combined with the spice really set you up for what was to come when tasting the wine. I was amazed how both my wine buddies were swirling and smelling vs tasting. A compliment to the wine!

Just as impressive as the first 2 cabernets, the wonderful flavor of blackberry treats your palate first. Second I really like the dark juicy cherry flavor and how it complimented the blackberry. Brett and Brooke could taste the blueberry and Brett picked up the licorice and spice at the end. I picked up the warm spice at the end and loved how the flavors flowed together perfectly.

Cathy another amazing cabernet and I (we) could drink your wines all day! I can't thank you enough for the opportunity to taste and blog your wines.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

South Florida Food and Wine Interviews The Iowa Wino

I had an absolute blast answering these questions for Christine at South Florida Food And Wine. For those who may miss it have fun reading! Hey does this make me famous?
Sunday, August 15, 2010 The Iowa Wino, a Great Wine Blogger in the Spotlight

This week’s blogger in the spotlight, The Iowa Wino is endearing, amusing and very entertaining. I found the Iowa Wino on another blogger’s blogroll; I was completely intrigued by the name “The Iowa Wino “ and had to find out more about the wine writings behind this rather comical name. True to form as one would expect from America’s Heartland The Iowa Wino is real and true giving his readers wine information in a story format, (only in the way a Midwesterner can) that always seems to be shared with friends making you absolutely “feel the love” for his experience as if you are right there with him. With all the exotic wine dinners and fancy food pairings I go to the unfussiness of The Iowa Wino’s experiences puts the true definition of enjoying food and wine into perspective; a good bottle of wine + a good meal with good friends = a great evening. Blogger in the Spotlight readers, I present to you The Iowa Wino

South Florida Food and Wine: How did you start wine writing?

The Iowa Wino: The company I work for at all our functions would offer wine. Course I thought wine was for snobs but I really enjoyed the taste. Well a wine club started at work at 5pm on Fridays and each week you were required to bring 2 bottles to share. One day one in the group said "Who the heck is keeping track of the wines we tasted so we don't repeat" And so the blog was born, some of my own tastings and some of the groups. With the help of my new wine friends on Twitter and Facebook, they helped me create The Iowa Wino and have guided me along the way, good and bad. Some harassment too.
South Florida Food and Wine: Do you do anything else other than write about wine?

The Iowa Wino: I work in Finance for one of the largest independent office equipment leasing companies in the country. Wine relaxes me at night and cooking is relaxer. Golf a few times but I used to be an avid 5 times per week player. Once married with kids more like once a week 4 hours of silence.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most challenging thing about writing?

The Iowa Wino: Keeping it interesting. I try to crack a few jokes, hope to god I don't bore readers where they stop reading and think "This bum is about as interesting as watching a walnut rot".

South Florida Food and Wine: What is the greatest opportunity that has come from writing for you?

The Iowa Wino: Having the opportunity to sample some pretty awesome wine and getting this nice interview! Brownie points! Seriously, having a chance to taste Ceja Vineyards, St Supery, Cleavage Creek, Dolan Wine, Three Sticks, Selene, Lynfred Winery, Cathy Corison, Owen Roe, Passaggio and many more. These owners and winemakers believed in the blog, loved the audience following me and I am forever grateful to them.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your most memorable writing moment?

The Iowa Wino: There are so many it’s hard to pick one. Having your blog entry reposted by the winery on twitter, facebook and their own site is the best reward. Also when someone actually buys a wine you reviewed, sends me the email "hey it tasted just like you said." No kidding you think I would lie?
South Florida Food and Wine: It's your last day on earth, what would your final meal be?

The Iowa Wino: A Russian River Valley Pinot Noir would start the evening off. A nice bacon wrapped beef filet, baked tater with butter and chives, green beans with bacon and olive oil. With the meal a Napa Valley Cabernet.
South Florida Food and Wine: What super-action-hero would you like to be and why?

The Iowa Wino: As I have gotten older I more resemble a Teletubbie or the double for Tim Allen in Santa Claus. I'd love to be Santa and bring a smile to the kids face. As you can tell I'm not super hero material.
South Florida Food and Wine: Do you have any wacky cooking habits?

The Iowa Wino: Yes stay the hell out of my kitchen. I'm cooking. I don't need your help. I once had an apron which someone has hidden from me which said "Skinny Cooks Can't Be Trusted". My family refers to me as Chef Loui cause I'm always creating something.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the best wine advice you have to share?

The Iowa Wino: Drink lots of wine and experiment. I've learned so much about flavor and quality by tasting/gulping all varietals and regions. Don't be scared wine is fun. Attend tastings at your local wine shops, travel to the wine country and have a blast.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one obsessive wine habit?

The Iowa Wino: My wine must always be at the correct temp. I'm on my second thermoelectric silent cellar which by the way is on the fritz. The last one got chucked into the yard and his brother is right behind.
South Florida Food and Wine: If you could choose to be any wine, what would it be?

The Iowa Wino: Pinot Noir without a doubt. I'm high maintenance just ask my wife.

South Florida Food and Wine: If looked in your refrigerator, what would I find?

The Iowa Wino: 4 kinds of juice and so many leftovers from the weeks dinners we could invite the neighbors over for a feast. They get water to drink not my good wine. My really good friends drink the good stuff.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the one "staple" food you always have in your cupboard?

The Iowa Wino: Pasta. You can create any meal with pasta.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your beverage of choice?

The Iowa Wino: Duh Wine. No actually I do love my Caribou Breakfast Blend coffee each morning, freshly ground. You don't want to see me without coffee.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your favorite comfort food?

The Iowa Wino: I love roast, taters (notice second time I used this and family hates it) carrots, celery and lots of gravy. In the winter its cold and nothing better than a great meal. Port afterwards too.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your wine claim to fame?

The Iowa Wino: I'm one of a handful of folks here in Iowa who blog and is absolutely nuts about wine. Here you think of corn, cattle and hogs. About all you get here too if you have ever driven through for a visit. We have casino's too. I never win but that's another story. We also have a growing wine industry.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is in your kitchen junk drawer?

The Iowa Wino: Coupons which I cut out and forget to take to the store. God knows how many cell phone chargers for phones we haven't used in years. Some of my tools which I need when I'm in the garage and can't find. My cork screw is in the silverware drawer because it's considered essential. A phone book we never use and pens that won't write.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the best wine gift you ever received?

The Iowa Wino: I will never top this one in a million years. My wife behind my back and with the help of our oldest and most devious child booked a getaway for the 2 of us in Napa the first week of June. I knew something was up cause the paycheck deposits in the joint account were smaller yet she was working longer. Well on Valentine’s day she hands me an envelope and said here is some money I have been saving to invest. Still didn't add up but I'm playing along. Next she wheels out our suitcase and inside is a map of Napa and Sonoma, 2 of my empty wine bottles and a sign that said "We are going to Napa." All prepaid and I had to plan the stops. Mouth dropped couldn't believe it. Well the visit was more than I could ever dream of. Cuvaison, Amelia Ceja, Rick Bakas & St Supery who by the way put our name on the marquee as we walked in, Titus, Passaggio, Hook & Ladder and Eric Ross Winery were the stops I had the chance to thank folks for samples and chat about wine. Scenery, food, climate is so spectacular. I wish I was there right now!
South Florida Food and Wine: What kitchen chore do you dislike the most?
The Iowa Wino: Cleaning all the pans I make dirty when I cook. Food is worth it though.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most exotic food you have ever eaten and where?

The Iowa Wino: If pig cheeks are considered exotic then that would be it. In Virginia on a business trip. Mouth watering
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most extravagant food or beverage item or culinary tool you spent money on?
The Iowa Wino: My silent cellar but the next one will be bigger.

South Florida Food and Wine: Where was the best wine you ever had? And why?

The Iowa Wino: Tough to pick one here. Many great Pinot’s, Chardonnay's, Cabs etc. I did have a 1983 Bordeaux a good friend brought over which he picked up on a business trip to France. Sadly I forgot the name.
South Florida Food and Wine: If you could share a bottle of wine with anyone who would it be and why?

The Iowa Wino: I would love to share it with you (more brownie points) for hopefully enjoying this interview. Really I think sharing a bottle of wine with all my winery owner/ wine maker friends would be the best. Without them we would never have great juice to enjoy. Salud!
Follow the The Iowa Wino on his blog and on Twitter @Dangod1or on facebook networked blogs facebook/dangoderis

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

2008 Owen Roe Chapel Block Syrah

How many times does one receive a 97 point sample from a very fine winery? Considering this is my first I would have to state rare! Well count my lucky stars Happy Wine Wednesday,  I was able to share this great wine with Brett and Brooke a couple of wine buddies from work. Both by the way are big Syrah fans and loved this beauty.
You have read in a few prior posts how much I enjoy the wines of Owen Roe and their winemaker David O'Reilly, even having the opportunity to chat with him about his wine philosophy. For the record this wine is worth every penny!

The grapes for this wine were harvested from one of the premier sites for Syrah in the Pacific NW the Red Willow Vineyard. Based on the aroma and flavor I would agree. I know...... time for the review.

The aroma of the ripe blueberry hits the nose first which we all 3 agreed and enjoyed. Next the smokey cedar was evident followed by the lavender. Nice combination and can't wait to taste.

After the first taste you can quickly determine why this wine scored so well. Juicy blueberry carries from start to finish. Vanilla and smoke round out the flavors with a touch of spice at the end. Definately full bodied and a big hit with all of us. One comment from the group "This is one of the very best Syrah's I have tasted". Served with the wine this evening was smokey cheddar and swiss cheese which complimented the wine perfectly.

Zoe a big thank you for the opportunity to taste an amazing Syrah. David you have outdone yourself once again. Readers and Syrah fans your mission is to track down a bottle of this fine wine and taste for yourselves. When you find one let me know. I need another bottle.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

2002 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

I had big plans for Wine Wednesday having a couple of the "work wine club" members stop by on their way home to enjoy a couple samples. Unfortunately a last minute family dinner was scheduled and one had to reschedule. Fortunately Brett was able to stop by and I thought what better to share than the 02 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon which I received as a sample from wine maker Cathy Corison.

I served the wine with some smoked gouda and a nice fontina cheese. Both went very well with the wine. In the glass you could really identify the blackberry right from the start. I got a slight hint of plum and the end was a wonderful spice aroma. Brett even commented on the color of the wine for an 02 looking as if it were a recent vintage.

Really nice dark berry flavor on this wine. Blackberry and spice are very dominant but flow nicely together. Slight plum towards the end of the taste and the finish lingers long. We were both very impressed with the wine. I even had a tad bit left of the 06 from my earlier post so I could allow Brett to compare vintages. He was amazed how both wines showed the same characteristics and were 4 years apart. Great fruit combined with a great winemaker produces great wine. I'm glad I had the opportunity to share.


Friday, August 6, 2010

1st Avenue Wine House Welcomes Dutcher Crossing Winery Dry Creek Ca

 Had this date penciled in the calendar for awhile because I love the events my good friends Traci & Ron Weber owners of 1st Avenue Wine House host. Another benefit was owner Debra Mathy and wine maker Kerry Damskey made the trip from CA to Iowa to pour some of their award winning wines. While I was in Napa/Sonoma for a visit in June, Deb and I could not get our schedules to coordinate but she made me promise I would come out again and we would barrel taste. If you have never barrel tasted I highly recommend! So cool!

Interesting how Traci and Ron were introduced to Dutcher Crossing wine 3 years ago over a bottle of their Zinfandel at a dinner party. After a visit to the winery and no doubt a few bottles later over great conversation, 1st Avenue Wine House is the only retail shop outside the winery to sell Dutcher Crossing Wines.

So you wonder how the tasting went? 8 very exceptional great wines this evening. I loved them all and actually because of the hot weather chose a couple outstanding whites for purchase the Sauvignon Blanc and the Saralee Chardonnay. The prices tonight ranged from $22.99 to $43.99 and all definately worth the price.

On the deck we started with 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek. Nice crisp refreshing wine which is a blend of Semillon, Viognier & Roussanne. Nice citrus but not overpowering. Off to a great start.

Courtyard station 1 was next and this is where owner Debra Matheny was pouring. Wine 1 was the Costello Chardonnay from Alexander Valley. Very nice pear on the nose with a slight hint of vanilla. Loved the taste with the pear, vanilla combination and nicely not over oaked. I would drink this baby every day. Wine 2 was their Saralee Vineyard Chardonnay. Really nice and as stated before a purchase and signed by Deb. Wonderful pear and baked apple aroma so creamy and rich. The taste to die for. Pear, apple, a hint of butterscotch (only after the description did I figure the butterscotch) and the finish a touch citris. Wine 3 was the Proprietor's Zinfandel. The juicy cherry, spice and plum really blend well together. Nice full flavor. So far 4/4.

Courtyard station 2 where wine maker Kerry Damskey was pouring,  I started with the Proprietor's Syrah. My pick for the silky wine of the evening. Black cherry, blueberry, vanilla and a nice spice finish. Loved this wine with a finger food of bbq meat topped with what I think was cole slaw. Next up the Maple Vineyards Zinfandel. Big wine here and for good reason. Flavors of blackberry, juicy cherry, vanilla and nice spice finish. I'll have this one on hand come fall. Finally the Proprietor's Cabernet which Kerry stated has a blend of 25% Syrah. Nice dark berry, cherry and a hint of oak. Really smooth cabernet. Another wine I will need to keep on hand. Last wine was let's call the grandaddy of the evening the The Taylor's Reserve Cabernet. Great dark fruit, dark cherry, I also picked up some red raspberry. Again not a lot of oak and another of my favorites this evening.

What a wonderful tasting event. Great flavors and aromas on each wine and I absolutley love the fact each was not overly oaky. Debra really worked the crowd and made sure folks were educated on the wines. I think I even got a couple "extra pours". Kerry also was educating many of us the complexity of his wines. I would have loved to chat with him more about his philosphy on wine making from fruit to oak.

Traci and Ron thanks for another great evening. I almost forgot congrats on being named #1 wine shop on KCRG's A-List. Well deserved!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

2006 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Imagine yourself having an opportunity to indulge in a bottle of cabernet from one of Napa Valleys top wine producers. I had just the pleasure, courtesy of the winemaker herself Cathy Corison.

In 1987, after many years of producing wine for others the first vintage of Corison Cabernet was born. I love her quote on the website Corison Winery Story "There was a wine inside me that needed to be made". The winery located on St Helena Highway with tasting by appointment, is open 7 days per week 10-5. The wines are produced from vineyards located between Rutherford and St Helena where Cathy feels "the vines produce some of the most concentrated and superbly ripened fruit anywhere". I couldn't agree more because these wines are special.

I chose to serve this wine with my grilled bacon wrapped beef filet. Nothing better than amana beef and cabernet. In the glass the aroma of boysenberry comes right to the front. Next I get a slight chocolate/plum combination and finish with wonderful spice.

One of the finest cabernets I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. The berry jam at the beginning of the taste absolutely makes the wine. Juicy from start to finish. The back of the wine has just the right amount of spice to compliment the dark berry flavors. Silky and rich you feel like royalty enjoying this cabernet.

When in Napa spoil yourself and set an appointment to visit and find out for yourself how good Corison Cabernet tastes. I hope you enjoy the wine as much as I do. Cathy thank you for allowing me to taste your awesome wine.


Monday, August 2, 2010

2008 St Supery Oak Free Chardonnay

Tonights selection was a very nice chardonnay which I tasted and purchased on my trip to Napa in June. Amazing visit to the winery which included a tasting and tour courtesy of social media guru Rick Bakas. I paired the wine with a skillet chicken dish consisting of fresh roasted veggies, fresh thyme, chicken stock and last but not least chicken well seasoned. Perfect!

In the glass the aroma of green apple is very evident. Next fresh cantaloupe and pear round out this wine. Ripe fruit sensation is outstanding.

Beautiful pear/melon combination on this wine. Crisp, clean and the fruit flavor so balanced from start to finish. I would say more but the wine speaks for itself.... so darn good. Nicely done St Supery! I'll take a refill :)

Folks make sure to include St Supery as a must visit on your next trip to Napa. Right off beautiful highway 29, the winery is very picturesque, the tasting room staff so courteous and knowledgeable plus you may even see Rick educating visitors.


Monday, July 26, 2010

2007 Cuvaison Pinot Noir BlockF5 Carneros

I had the pleasure of visiting the tasting room of Cuvaison in Carneros to start my Napa visit back in June. What a wonderful experience tasting great wine, relaxing on the patio overlooking the vineyards. My purchase was the 2007 Pinot Noir Block F5 a truly awesome wine.

In the glass the aroma of raspberry and cherry are very pronounced. Slight hint of vanilla and spice. Beautiful color.

Classic Pinot and absolutely love this wine. Juicy cherry starts your taste off followed by strawberry and finishing with a nice warm spice. Perfect balance of flavors and they flow nicely from start to finish. You will feel spoiled drinking this Pinot, it's that good.

Bravo Cuvaison for a wonderful Pinot Noir! Folks stop by the tasting room in Carneros and enjoy the beautiful scenery, the friendly tasting room hosts and some outstanding wine. Tell them hello!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

2007 Ceja Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma Coast

I'm guessing the readers of the Iowa Wino can tell what a big fan I am of Ceja Wine. Meeting Amelia and Dalia on our trip to Napa, spending quality time talking with them and tasting Ceja's offerings, you come away impressed with their story and a love of their wines. What a great family and I am proud to call them my Carneros friends.

Tonight I chose the 07 Sauvignon Blanc (which I purchased on our visit) wanting a crisp wine to enjoy during what feels like our endless humid season. In the glass the aroma of the key lime fills the nose on each sniff. A slight hint of peach and grapefruit compliments the lime nicely. The wine smells very crisp and time for a taste.

What a great citrus flavor from start to finish. The lime, grapefruit, peach combination really tickle the taste buds. A little minerality along with the lime showcase a nice long finish. Very crisp and refreshing and just as good when I tasted this wine in California.

On any trip to Napa you must stop by Ceja Vineyards tasting room in downtown to enjoy great wine, conversation and a chance to purchase your new favorite wines. Once you're finished, stop by Amelia's sons new restaurant Bistro Sabor and enjoy great food and wine to complete your visit. Gracias Amelia para hacer grandes vinos and I can't wait to visit again. Friends tell the folks at Ceja hello for me on your next visit.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

2009 Titus Sauvignon Blanc

Since the weather had been hot here in the Midwest it was a perfect time to enjoy a crisp white wine and what better than my Titus 09 Sauv Blanc. I picked this beauty up while on my trip to Napa and my stop visiting Christophe at Titus Vineyards tasting some amazing wine.

Once in the glass, a wonderful aroma of lemon and lime starts your senses craving more. Next the citrus/nectarine refreshed the nose. So crisp I'm ready to taste.

First flavor is the lemon which carries throughout the taste start to finish. The nectarine enhances the middle of the wine perfectly and the finish is the lemon/lime combination. Refreshing wine and some amazing fruit in this creation. Perfect balance of flavor and acidity. Sad the bottle is gone but that just means I'll need to order more Christophe.

Wine friends I encourage you to pick up a bottle of Titus Wine today. Outstanding quality wines from Eric and Phillip Titus will treat your palate!


Sunday, July 18, 2010

2007 Hartman Lane Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

While visiting Jason Deloach at Hook and Ladder Winery tasting some very good Pinot (and many other varietals), I had the opportunity to purchase this gem. What amazes me is the enthusiasm of Jason and his passion for creating over the top wine. The 07 Hartman Lane will not dissapoint.

Just as it did in the winery, the aroma of ripe cherry fills your nose. Sniffs 2 and 3 yield the perfect blend of spice with a slight oak/vanilla character at the end.

Classic elegant Pinot Noir. Cherry starts your taste off and lasts from start to finish. The spice starts warming the tongue slightly and quickly moves to a hint of vanilla. I'll describe this wine as "liquid silk" so smooth and rich. I served this wine with a grilled pork tenderloin seasoned with olive oil, fresh cracked pepper and thyme. I also chose this wine to start my night off for the Pinot Noir Twitter Tweetup sharing my thoughts with other Pinot fans.

Jason kudos on a great Pinot Noir. You have a big fan of your wine here in the Midwest.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

2005 Selene Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Another of my very excellent samples from Selene Wines was this 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet. I chose to enjoy this wine with beef filets I grilled one night and felt it would pair very nicely. Right on the money with this beauty.

I opened the wine an hour before I poured. Once in the glass the aroma of fresh blackberry tickles your nose followed closely by raspberry, slight hint of vanilla and oak at the end. Nice deep color and you can really smell the ripe fruit.

Wow! Great wine Mia. The blackberry is very pronounced in the beginning of the taste. Jammy raspberry blends nicely with the blackberry and both carry long into the finish. Vanilla and oak round out this very full bodied cabernet. The flavor of the steak complimented the wine perfectly or the other way around take your pick. I'm a great cook but the wine was the winner by a long shot!

Mia and Tracy thank you for sharing this wonderful cabernet. Folks next time your serving steak grab a bottle of Selene Cabernet to serve to your friends. They will thank you!


Thursday, July 8, 2010

2007 Eric Ross Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Poules D'Or

Wine Wednesday as the wine drinkers of twitter and facebook proclaim each "hump day", I decided it was a night for Pinot Noir. Watching Top Chef and listening to Wine Biz Radio I chose the Eric Ross RRV Pinot Noir which I purchased on my recent visit to see owner and winemaker Eric Luse. My wife loved the picture on the bottle which incidently was a photograph taken by Mr. Luse, and said either we buy the bottle or a print of the picture. Yes dear but the picture doesn't hold 4 glasses of heaven :). Guess who won and the bottle is signed!

Pouring this baby into the glass the aroma of cherry fills your nose. Sniff again and pick up some spice and even a hint of coffee but cherry is the dominant aroma as it should be. Nice hint of oak not overpowering.

Just like it tasted at the winery this Pinot is everything you want and more. Bing cherry fills your mouth followed by the suttle spice finish with the hint of oak. Little coffee flavor in the middle. Juicy but so elegant and smooth. Silky from start to finish. Eric relies on great fruit to produce his wines and this one must have golden fruit, its that good.

If you are not a fan of Eric Ross Wine then you should definately taste their award winning wines. Excellent, affordable or damn good take your pick. The winemaker is kind of a nut :) but visit their tasting room and say hello to Diane, Eric or both for me. You will have a blast and get to drink some awesome wine. Thanks Eric for producing some very outstanding juice. I'll always have your wine on hand.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

2009 Passaggio New Generation Unoaked Chardonnay

You have to love the motto of owner and winemaker Cindy Cosco when it comes to her Passaggio Wines: "Drink all you want, I can make more". Keeping true to her Italian roots, Cindy is continuing the family Italian winemaking tradition by producing award winning wines. The 2009 Passaggio New Generation Unoaked Chardonnay will impress you.

I love the aroma's this wine produces and each sniff encounters a different combination. First the nose picked up the pear/lemon-lime aroma followed by the tropical fruit and pineapple. Second sniff was opposite with the pineapple/lemon-lime finishing with the pear/tropical fruit. The concentration of fruit and crispness on the nose told me this was going to be one tasty wine.

I told Cindy my first reaction was WOW. So much fruit in the front of this wine starting with the ripe melon. Middle of the wine produces the lemon which carries through to the finish and beyond. Right before the finish is the hint of red grapefruit and the minerality combines nicely at the very end. Each flavor flows perfectly in every glass. Never wanted this bottle to empty. Just means I must order more!

Cindy has a great talent for making amazing wine. I cannot thank her enough for introducing me to her Chardonnay but more important I have gained a friend in her. I will continue to keep her wine on hand in my cellar. Incidently as we were talking about wine regions on my visit, she informed me at no time has she ever tasted an Iowa wine. Well this week Cindy will be receiving a bottle of Cedar Ridge Vineyards Geisenheim grown and produced here locally.

Cheers my friend.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Stepping Stone Wines by Cornerstone Cellars TasteLive

What an awesome opportunity in conjunction with WBC 10 to taste excellent wine with attendees and other fellow bloggers around the country.While it was a late night honestly the wine was well worth the wait. Tonight we will enjoy 5 wines from Stepping Stone: 09 Sauvignon Blanc, 09 Corallina, 08 Syrah, 08 Cabernet Franc, 08 Cabernet Sauvignon. Stepping Stone is a sister label to Cornerstone, "conceived from the beginning to be wines that weave elegance, complexity and a more forward character into wines you don't have to wait to enjoy".

First wine of the night was the 09 Sauvignon Blanc. Fresh melon and tropical fruit aroma. Crisp and the smell of citrus. In the mouth what a nice melon fresh fruit flavor. Juicy lemon on the finish that lasts long. Flavors are well balanced refreshing. Excellent wine to start the night off.

Second wine of the evening was the 09 Corallina Rose. Strawberry and rose pedal on the nose with a hint of spice. All I can say is wow. Strawberry at the beginning, cranberry in the middle and the finish is a cinnamon spice with heat. Nice long finish and a flavor packed wine. I'm a big fan of the Corallina.

Wine three was the 08 Syrah. Nice deep color with the aroma of dark berry and an earthy spice. Getting a little pepper on the nose as well. Can you say keeper and from tonights comments the winner and a steal at $20. Dark cherry, dark berry, pepper spice and a long finish. A hint of plum in the middle. Flavors flow perfectly start to finish. Grapes are from Carneros one of my favorite places in Nappa Valley/Sonoma. I had a friend who is a big fan of Syrah also taste and the big thumbs up from him as well.

Wine four was the 08 Cabernet Franc. A wine which I have the least exposure, I really enjoyed the wine this evening. Raspberry and cherry are the first aromas followed by a blackberry/blueberry combination. My curiosity grows as I taste this wine. Cherry, raspberry, blueberry, a hint of blackberry and a nice finish of spice. Why the hell haven't I been drinking this wine before.

Final wine of the evening was the 08 Cabernet Sauvignon. Definate dark berry and spice aroma and to me a classic cabernet. Black raspberry, dark cherry and spice/oak. Finish was silky with a little bite. Very good cabernet and one where I would like to hold onto a bottle for a couple years and compare the taste. I think it will get even better over time. One of my "wine group" buddies also was impressed with this wine and loved the flavor. There will be a purchase from the folks in Iowa shortly.

Five tremendous wines this evening and a must in your cellar. Craig thank you very much for the opportunity to taste and enjoy Stepping Stone Wines from Cornerstone Cellars. You have 4 new fans here in Iowa and I'm sure more to come across the country. Thanks to TasteLive for allowing us to participate as well. I had the opportunity to hook up with some great bloggers during this event.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

2008 Ceja Vineyards Bella Flor Rose Sonoma Coast

One of my favorite stops recently on our trip to Napa, friends bragged that Ceja Vineyards produced a knockout Rose which sells quickly. Having the opportunity to taste this wonderful Rose wine with owner Amelia Ceja, it took approximately 2 seconds to determine the wine would be purchased and headed back to Iowa.

Love the aroma on this wine. First a hint of fresh strawberries followed by juicy cherry. Next fresh cut roses so elegant. I caught myself continuing to swirl and smell without tasting.

Wonderful fruit and so many refreshing flavors. Cherry started the wine off nicely followed by a hint of what I identified as cranberry. Nice combination and so crisp. In the middle the strawberry appears and lasts through the finish with a hint of red berry. I enjoyed this wine alone and also with some turkey taco's, cilantro, lime juice and a touch of salsa. Loved how it complimented the food and highlighted the cilantro.

Another excellent wine from the folks at Ceja Vineyards. Check out your favorite wine shop for Ceja wine. Join their wine club or order directly from the winery website. Don't miss an opportunity to enjoy these wonderful wines from Amelia and the fine folks at Ceja Vineyards in Carneros.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Three Sticks Wines TasteLive Event June 17

Imagine my excitement having the opportunity for the first time to participate in a tastelive event featuring Three Sticks Wines in Sonoma California. Once chosen, I visited the Three Sticks website to learn more about the winery, winemakers and the wines produced. What an awesome chance to taste wines produced by Head Winemaker Don Van Staaveren who for over 30 years has been creating award winning wine. His 1996 Chateau St Jean Cinq Cepages named Wine Spectators No 1 Wine in the World 1999. I'll admit goosebumps. Tracey Bledsoe Assistant Winemaker has 8 years experience recently with Artesa Winery producing world class Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Kudos as well to Vineyard Manager Steve Hill and Durell Vineyards Owner and Founder of Three Sticks Bill Price. Picture a kid opening up a christmas present thrilled to death and that would have been me when the wines arrived for the event.

Participating with my fellow tasters from across the country and even my wine friend Grace in DesMoines Cellarmistress, the excitement built as we all logged on. Winemakers and winery staff were online to particpate in the tasting offering advice on the wines as well as answering question about the winery and the wines produced. How cool is that!

First up the 2006 Three Sticks Pinot Noir Durell Vineyards. I decided to taste this wine with a hand tossed sausage pizza on the advice of Don. The aroma of this wine was an excellent ripe cherry and and perfect balance of spice. Wonderful color. I could smell this wine all day. My comments along with other tasters were a big thumbs up on this first offering. I love the juicy cherry/spice combination and the finish is long but silky smooth. Amazing fruit flavor on the front of the wine. Perfect Pinot Noir!

Second wine of the evening was the 2007 Three Sticks Pinot Noir Durell Vineyards. Different than the 06 this Pinot on the nose exhibited dark fruit. First aroma was the dark cherry followed closely by the black raspberry. Wonderful spice finished off the wine. My first taste as I anticipated with the aromas was a more full bodied Pinot Noir. Definate rich flavor from the dark cherry, black raspberry and spice but when I reached the finish is was so smooth just like the 06. I commented about buying a bottle of the 07 and drinking it one year from now to see how the wine may change which I love to compare. Both wines the flavors marry together and a seamless transition flavor to flavor. At this point I am blown away at the quality of these wines. We were enjoying the Pinot's so much we lost track of time and up next the Cabernet.

Last wine of the evening was the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Valley. I opened this wine well before the tasting to allow it to breathe. Excellent nose on this wine as well. Huge red berry aroma with raspberry coming to the front. Spice and a hint of earth rounded out my aromas. The flavor combination on this wine is perfect. I believe my comment "This is liquid heaven" describes this wine. The black cherry/chocolate combination (and I also had a piece of chocolate with my wine) along with a hint of oak was harmony in the mouth. Unlike many Cabernets I have tasted, the finish was so soft for a wine with huge fruit at the front. 

I asked a couple of my friends to taste the 07 Pinot and the 05 Cabernet to see what they thought of the wine without any of my comments( call me selfish but the 06 I drank all by myself). As anticipated they had the same thoughts with respect to aromas and flavors as I tasted and smelled. Once I told them these were the wines I tasted for the event all suggested Three Sticks Wines were excellent choices to drink. Couldn't agree more with their thoughts except amazing would be my description.

Thank you TasteLive and Three Sticks Wines for allowing me an opportunity to be introduced to wonderful wines. Bill, Don, Tracey and Steve along with all the staff at Three Sticks thank you for producing some of the best wine I have ever tasted. I loved being able to bounce questions off you all during the event and just tell you how much I enjoyed the wines. You have a new fan here in Iowa.

Dan "The Iowa Wino"