Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2008 Ceja Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

The holidays are perfect for pairing great food with delicious wine. Nothing better than serving Ceja Vineyards Cabernet with a sharp cheddar cheese and succulent roast beef. Knowing the wines Armando Ceja produces, no doubt in my mind this would be another beauty.

The nose is full of excellent ripe fruit. Plum, blackberry, red raspberry followed by herbal notes and a rich spice. Aged 28-32 months in french oak, you can listen to the winemaker Armando by clicking the link Ceja Cellar. A wine you could swirl and smell all evening.

Outstanding bottle of wine. The dark fruit is showcased with blackberry and plum followed by a hint of red raspberry. Towards the middle of the taste black raspberry and red raspberry set you up for the finish of a soft warm spice which lingers long. The fruit is still dominant on the finish as well. The longer in the glass the wine becomes so silky. Cabernet + Napa Valley+ Ceja Vineyards = handcrafted greatness. Well done Armando!

Taste Ceja Vineyards fine portfolio of wines at their downtown Napa tasting room located at 1248 First Street Napa Ca 94559 from 11am -6pm Sun thru Wed and 11am-8pm Thur thru Sat.

Happy New Year Everyone.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Wines of Vinho Verde Casa De Vila 2009 Alvarhino Portugal

A new varietal for me this evening from Portugal a 2009 Alvarhino and my first from Vinho Verde. Located in northwest Portugal, they produce wines of light alcohol and balanced acidity. The region produces blends from varietals Loureiro, Trajadura and Alvarinho which are crisp and refreshing.

On the nose a definate tropical influence. Melon, pineapple, lime and lemon citrus with hints of peach

The flavor was crisp with melon and lemon dominant. Hints of fresh pineapple and peach with a nice mineral finish. Nicely priced at $7.99 and a good starter wine for your guests. I look forward to tasting and learning more about the Wines of Vinho Verde.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sparkle with Freixenet & Gloria Ferrer Tastelive Event

Great event with the holidays upon us and what better way to celebrate than tasting some bubbles from Sonoma and Spain. A distinguished well respected panel of bloggers and honored I had the opportunity to join in the fun. 3 great wines treated our palates this evening.

First up Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava produced in Penedes Spain. Nice pear, citrus zest, melon and warm ginger aromas. The flavor was nice with fresh crisp apple and pear. Toss in lemon, lime citrus zest and a nice hint of ginger spice on the finish. A nice starter to the evening.

Second offering of the evening is an old favorite of mine Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut. Pear, a hint of fresh cut rose followed by warm roasted almonds. Paired with green apple slices the lovely citrus in the wine complimented the tart apples and the creamy vanilla/almond softened the finish. By itself the apple flavor and citrus compliment each other perfectly. Gloria Ferrer never disappoints the palate.

The final wine of the evening Segura Viduas Brut Rose Cava. I'm a big rose fan so this sparkler was a treat. Strawberry, spice and candied cherry on the nose. The flavor was crisp and refreshing. Cherry with hints of strawberry and spice. I commented how wonderful this wine would taste sipping on the back porch preferrably on a warm day. I sense a few agreed.

Another great holiday tasting this time we celebrate with bubbles. Cailyn, Joel and Cindy it was a super evening. Thank you all for including me and the introduction to some awesome bubbles.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

2008 Robbins Vineyards Big Alibi Red Merlot Napa Valley

Tonight's wine is a gem from a well stocked wine store Napa Valley Wine and Cigar in one of my favorite places Napa Valley. Carrie said I would love this wine and naturally she was correct. Just adore these small production wines carried at her store and Phil Robbins created a beauty with this Big Alibi Red.

On the nose I get a nice herbal note followed by deep dark cherry. Hints of plum and fresh spice with just the slightest aroma of red raspberry. Lovely nose on this wine.

Easy drinking flavor packed red wine. Plum and dark cherry are very dominant in the beginning of the taste. Spice in the middle with a juicy raspberry finish. Silky throughout the taste. Bottles like these are why I love drinking wine. Phil absolutely outstanding juice.

Stop by and grab a bottle from Carrie and see for yourself what a great wine Phil has created. I recommend sipping by the fireplace too.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

2009 Eric Ross Marsanne-Roussanne Russian River Valley Saralee's Vineyard

My last bottle purchased from the summer wine collection was this beauty from my good friend Eric Luse winemaker/comedian at Eric Ross Winery. Opened before thanksgiving dinner, my daughter who typically drinks little if any wine really enjoyed this refreshing white (see Dad still knows best). What I truly enjoy about Eric's wine is that each bottle showcases the fruit of the vineyard. One of our long talks one evening the winemakers wisdom was bestowed on me "Danny, take what the vineyard gives you because great fruit will make great wine!"

In the glass the aroma of pear and melon come to the front. Toasted almond and rich vanilla with orange citrus notes throughout each sniff. The wine smells crisp and fresh. Many times with Eric's wines, I find find myself swirling more than drinking picturing myself standing surrounded by the vineyard's fruit.

Eric another excellent flavor packed wine. Ripe pear and fresh melon wrapped around nectarine citrus notes. Apricot on the finish with a touch of honey and a nice minerality. Crisp and refreshing just as the aroma's showcased. Perfectly balanced with ripe fruit and acidity. Bravo Eric.

Wine drinkers new and old, Eric Ross Winery has one of the finest portfolios of wine and a must for your cellar/glass. Don't miss the opportunity to visit while in Glenn Ellen on your next wine country visit. Eric I can't wait to pop in again for some of that good juice and the Luse stories!


Friday, November 25, 2011

2009 One Hope Wine Chardonnay California

A wine I opened while preparing the thanksgiving day feast was a chardonnay from One Hope Wine. 50% of profits from each bottle of chardonnay sold are donated to fight breast cancer. A cause close to my heart.

Wonderful nose of fresh apple with hints of honey. Fresh crisp melon greets my nose along with a blast of citrus zest followed by vanilla notes. The aroma is fresh and lively and screams "drink me."

A very nice chardonnay. Ripe pear and apple treat the palate from the start of the taste. Fresh picked melon with lemon zest towards the middle followed by a creamy vanilla/butter finish. I also get a slight hint of oak but only as an accent. Refreshing with a great balance of fruit and acidity.

I encourage you to visit their website One Hope Wine to order wine and check out all the worthy causes each bottle sold supports. Excellent juice for great causes.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2010 Cline Cellars Cashmere California

Really excited to taste tonights wine the 2010 Cline Cellars Cashmere a blend of Mourvedre, Syrah and Grenache. The label on the bottle is very fitting proudly showing their support for Living Beyond Breast Cancer. Admire folks who give to worthy causes.

In the glass a wonderful ripe cherry aroma followed by rich plumb. Clove and pepper notes with the slightest hint of oak. Love the balance of the ripe fruit combined with the perfect amount of spice. Pleasant on the nose.

Flavor is excellent. My taste starts with the ripe plum and then hints of cranberry. Next juicy cherry, raspberry and a wonderful peppery spice finish. Silky and soft absolutely delicious. Quality wine in every bottle from the folks at Cline Cellars. My sincere thanks for introducing me to your wines. Don't miss your chance to stop and see them while in the Sonoma Carneros California wine country. You can thank me later :)

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tastelive Rodney Strongs "Down Home Downtown" Holiday Food and Wine Pairing

Rodney Strong wine tastings rank right up with my favorites for their food friendly quality juice and excellent price points. Robert Larsen picked a wonderful selection of wine for the evening with a couple tasty recipes. Throw in 8 of my blogger friends and bingo its an event.

Wine one was the 2009 Chalk Hill Chardonnay paired with a Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup from Josh Silvers, Syrah Bistro & Wine Bar. Aromas in the glass of fresh apple, vanilla, butterscotch and tropical citrus notes. The taste was fruit forward with ripe apple and pear, a nice lemon zest in the middle and a creamy vanilla finish. The creamy texture of the soup paired perfect with flavors in the wine.

Wine two this evening was the 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. There was no doubt where the grapes were grown on this beauty when the mushroom and earthy notes grabbed my nose from the beginning. Cherry, hints of spice and cola with fresh cut rose filling out the aroma's. Lovely red fruit with cherry, strawberry and raspberry very dominant. Towards the finish nice juicy strawberry followed by a touch of spice. Very nice Pinot for $20.

Wine three was the 2009 Knotty Vines Zinfandel a nicely balanced Zin. Aromas of raspberry, spicy pepper notes, ripe blackberry with a slight hint of oak. The flavor started with a awesome raspberry jam followed by pepper notes, fresh blueberry and a nice warming spice. I struggle with this varietal but really enjoyed this one.

The final wine of the evening the 2008 Symmetry Red Meritage Alexander Valley. A blend of 65% cabernet sauvignon, 25% malbec, 7% merlot, 2% petite verdot and 1% cabernet franc. The wine was paired with Jeff Mall's Zin Restaurant and Wine Bar recipe Applewood-Smoked Porkchop With Fresh Applesauce, Braised Rainbow Chard, Corn Bread Stuffing. The aroma of rich plumb, ripe blackberry, baking spice and cloves was so pleasing to the nose. The flavor was outstanding with the dark fruit coming to the front followed by hints of chocolate, molassis and spice. Big flavor yet elegant and silky. I did not have all the ingredients for the recipe but I did have a boneless pork country rib with applesause and stuffing (and no time to really cook that evening) what a nice pairing.

Cailyn and Joel it was another excellent tasting. I highly recommend Down Home Downtown Seasonal recipes from Two Sonoma Wine Country Restaurants. Click the link and you can purchase your own copy. I have mine sitting on the end table so visitors can see the beautiful wine country pictures and cool recipes from Jeff Mall and Josh Silvers. To my wine blogger participants I enjoy each time we get together to taste and chat about wine. Let's not forget the fine folks at Rodney Strong Vineyards who deserve a big thank you for tonights selections. Grateful for the opportunity to taste and enjoy!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

2009 Campesino Papi y Chula Vineyard Pinot Noir Los Carneros Napa Valley

When my friend Carrie from Napa Valley Wine and Cigar  asked if I would like to taste their most popular turkey day pinot my answer quickly heck yes (remember I am referred to as Pinot God or Miles depending on who you speak with).

Campesino is a very small production pinot (50 cases) owned by Macario and Griselda Montoya. Mrs Montoya coincidentally grew up around the grapes of Carneros and her brothers and their wives are the founders of Ceja Vineyards (another of my Carneros favorites). Macario educated at Notre Dame in South Bend Indiana (Go Irish), is the winemaker with a very simple philosophy: "Wines are an expression of the earth and are made in the vineyard. It's the job of the winemaker to finish the process." Well said Macario! The hands on the beautiful label are those of Pablo Ceja (Griselda's father) a man who worked the vineyards tirelessly so that his family could have a better life.

Carrie and I commented how wonderful the aroma's were straight from the bottle. Carneros wines tend to have a eucalyptus aroma which is a dead giveaway to the region. I don't find that in this wine but what I do is pure perfection. Beautiful cherry followed by cola and finishing with a lovely spice. Simple and elegant.

Heaven in a bottle! A delicious ripe cherry with slight hints of fresh strawberry and finishing with the perfect amount of spice. Silky smooth and soft as velvet. Macario you have created one of the finest bottles of Pinot Noir I have ever tasted.

Please stop by their website by clicking the link Campesino Cellars to learn more about their story and ordering wine. Carrie I can see why this wine is a favorite with your customers and thanks for letting me taste this with you. Folks in and around the Napa area support your local wine store by stopping in to see Carrie for a bottle or 2.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tastelive Bacchus Selections Stock Your Cellar Holiday Tasting 11/8/11

Excited to taste this evening selections with the first 3 wines being french and this mammoth magnum of cabernet. French wines are rare in my cellar mostly due to my lack of knowledge of the wines. I found the first wines very different and concluded my palate was the issue (majority of wines consumed are california). Grateful for the opportunity to be taste them and I personally enjoyed them better on day 2. Bacchus Selections is a members only site for excellent wine offerings. Highy recommend signing up so you can enjoy great wine.

The first wine of the evening was the Maison Champy 2006 Premier Cru Hospices de Beaune and my favorite tonight. Huge wood, mushroom and spice aroma with hints of mocha and cherry. The flavor was plum dominant along with hints of expresso and dark cherry. I opened the wine 2 hours early and amazed at the difference from first uncorking till tasting time. Aromas and flavors are very appealing.

Next up the Chateau Pontet-Caillou 2008 Pessac-Leognan. The consensus by some of the tasters was "funk" smell. The aroma of fresh tobacco, leather, dusty earth, roasted herbs, hints of violet and clove with blackberries. Completely different on day 2 with the roasted herbs very mild. Plum, blackberry and earthy leather in the mouth. Many said the wine needs to age and will be even better. I am going to let a second bottle age at least 5 years and see if there is a difference.

Wine 3 was the Chateau Moulinet-Lasserre 2003 Pomerol.  Big dark chocolate aroma screams from the glass followed by dark jamy fruit, spice and a faint touch of oak. Juicy cherry along with fresh blackberry and a nice earthy spice. Little hint of cocoa in the middle. Decanted and aerated which greatly improved the wine.

The final wine of the evening Ridgeline Mountain Vineyards 2005 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (magnum). Aromas of milk chocolate, raspberry, creamy vanilla and blackberry. The wine was both juicy and chewey. Big blackberry in the mouth along with a huge spice. Hints of red raspberry and vanilla along with a powerful oak flavor.

I liked these wines much better on day 2 when they were allowed to open even more than the 2 hours before tasting. Many thanks to Cailyn at Tastelive, Kathleen at Baccus Selections and Joel from Creative Furnace for an opportunity to taste these french wines. For those readers who have tasted these wines I would love to hear your thoughts.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

North American Wine Bloggers Conference 2012 Portland Oregon Aug 17-18-19

August 2012, wine bloggers from across all walks of life will converge on Portland Oregon and the beauty of the states wine country. Ask any wine blogger the importance of this event and you will quickly see its high on their wish list. The opportunity to meet many industry leaders in the local wine community and social media, expanding their blogging knowledge and meet individuals just like themselves with a passion for wine are huge benefits.

Why donate? Well ask any of the wine blogging attendees and you will quickly find out many of us make little if any money. We all have regular jobs and wine tasting/blogging is our passion. Sponsors enable the conference organizers to provide scholarship money helping worthy bloggers attend. In fact in 2011, donors provided enough funds to help 14 bloggers participate. How cool! To the sponsors many thank you's.

Here is your chance to bring a smile to a bloggers face (Thea too) and support a great conference. Click the link North American Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship today to make your donation.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Kunde Family Estates KundeLive Wine Tasting

Impressive production last evening with Kunde Family Estates presents KundeLive wine tasting. Winemaker Zach Long with 4th generation winegrowers (brother and sister) Jeff Kunde and Marcia Kunde Mickelson, the hour long program included a ton of wine knowlege from grape growing to wine production and even food pairings. The interacting between the bloggers/tasters and the esteemed panel was by far one of the best live tastes I have participated in. 3 Excellent wines were on this evenings menu starting with the 2009 Sonoma Valley Chardonnay next the 2008 Sonoma Valley Red Dirt Red and concluding with the 2008 Reserve Century Vines Zinfandel. If you would like to view the program click the link KundeLive and watch all the fun.

First wine the 09 Sonoma Valley Chardonnay which set the tone for a great evening. A beautiful toasty oak when first poured in the glass followed by ripe pear, fresh apples and hints of vanilla. When the wine warmed slightly tropical fruit notes of melon and pineapple. Love the fruit aroma! The taste is amazing. Crisp apple, juicy pear, hints of pineapple/melon with a buttery/creamy finish. The flavors explode in your mouth and the wine is so well balanced. Bravo!

Wine 2 this evening was the 08 Sonoma Valley Red Dirt Red a wonderful blend of 37% Barbera, 29% Syrah, 25% Zinfandel and 9% Sangiovese. In the glass a big jammy red fruit sensation. Cherry, raspberry, hints of spice and pepper with a touch of blueberry. Excellent aroma. The taste is so juicy with the raspberry and cherry filling your mouth. Little peppery spice but not overpowering with a quick appearance of blueberry towards the finish. The fruit is so ripe throughout the taste and the combination of flavors perfect. I can see why this is a favorite in the tasting room!

The final wine of the evening the 2008 Reserve Century Vines Zinfandel created from vines over 130 years old. Unlike any other Zin you will smell or drink because its so soft and silky. Jeff commented if your looking for that huge alcohol, big bold heat zin then this wine isn't for you. Absolutely correct Jeff and I love the lower alcohol wines due to them being more versatile with food. In the glass nice dark fruit aroma of blackberry with a hint of earthiness. Some raspberry, pepper notes, slight hint of cocoa. The mouth feel is so lovely. Dark ripe juicy fruit of blackberry followed by hints of raspberry and cherry. Nice subtle spice which slightly warms the mouth. The finish is smooth with the flavors married perfectly together. Hands down one of the best Zinfandels I have ever tasted.

Truly spoiled drinking theses selections from Kunde Family Estates and I encourage you to stop by the winery and taste these exquisite wines. Jeff, Marcia, Zach and Ed I can't thank you enough for the opportunity to participate. I will see you in 2012 on my next visit.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2007 Block 7 Sonoma Coast Clone 667 Pinot Noir

What a cool opportunity to taste some wonderful Pinot Noir small production (only 100 cases produced) along with my friend Carrie from Napa Valley Wine and Cigar in beautiful Napa California. By the way you can purchase this wine from her store at 161 Silverado Trail or online at the link above. Great wine knowledge, excellent selection of boutique wine and darn friendly just what I like when shopping for my favorite juice.

It was Halloween night after the candy was handed out to all the little ghosts and goblins, Carrie and her husband Randy in California myself here in Iowa tasting the 07 Block 7 Sonoma Coast Clone 667 Pinot Noir. Allow this wine to open up in the glass swirling often before sniffing. Huge roasted herbs and earthiness until the wine opens. Now the red fruit really shines with the bright cherry, raspberry and spice. Day 2 its all ripe fruit on the nose and very beautiful.

Once the wine mellows it's classic pinot noir. Ripe cherry, fresh red raspberry with a nice warming spice. Hints of earthiness, herbal notes and a slight touch of oak. Nice finish of juicy cherry. Loved how our comments to each other were dead on with each smell and taste. Enjoyable Pinot! A nice pairing for your turkey this holiday season.

Carrie I had a blast tasting with you and your husband. Lets do this again soon.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

2010 Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Mourvedre Contra Costa County

Tonights post was an awesome pairing with a chicago style deep dish pizza. My first time tasting wine made from the mourvedre grape, the flavor was rich and elegant. The grape originally found in France, Spain and Australia, once was very popular in California but now little is planted. Based on the taste of the wine I vote for planting more.

The aroma was very nice starting with black raspberry and plum. Continuing to swirl up pops some herbal notes, hints of cocoa and finishing with a nice smokey oak. Pleasing to the nose.

Great fruit so ripe and juicy. Cherry, raspberry and plum are just awesome when you first taste the wine. As it warms the cherry really comes to the front with plum evident on the finish. Hint of spice and chocolate in the middle followed by a slight smokey oak. Speaking of the finish its long and juicy. Amazing wine!

Folks if you have not tasted this wine hurry before it's all gone. My thanks to my friends at Cline Cellars for another excellent offering. Your wines spoil us every time.


Monday, October 24, 2011

2009 Stepping Stone By Cornerstone Rocks Red Wine Napa Valley

Tonights post another tasty selection from the portfolio of Stepping Stone by Cornerstone wines. Always flavor packed, food friendly easy drinking wines, Rocks Red Wine will treat your palate.

Nice complex aromas on this wine starting with the dark fruit of blackberry and blueberry. Next hints of cherry followed by white pepper and spice. The wine finishes with a nice touch of oak. Allow the wine to warm in the glass and enjoy the aromas switching places.

Paired with a comfort dish of meatloaf and yukon gold potatoes (yes I tasted the wine while cooking like every good chef would), the juice and dish worked well together. Blackberry with ripe cherry starts the taste off. Peppery notes greet you in the middle followed by spice and a long juicy finish. Excellent red wine I could drink everyday.

Craig a big thank you for allowing me the opportunity to taste another great selection. Folks you must stop by Cornerstone Cellars and taste the entire portfolio. Great wine, great price, great people.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

2010 Cline Cellars Marsanne Roussanne Sonoma Coast

Cline Cellars located at 24737 Arnold Drive/Highway 121 in Sonoma CA (the tasting room is an 1850's farmhouse), produce award winning wines Rhone style. Zinfandel consistently scores 90+ with Wine Spectator and Robert Parker Jr. commented in 2011 "this is the finest portfolio of value-priced wines from Cline Cellars that I have tasted to date." Compliments like those reinforce and drive each of us whether a winery, winemaker or blogger.

I chose the 2010 Marsanne Roussanne first to sample from Cline Cellars because of my limited exposure to these two grapes. Less than 250 acres of the 2 grape varietals are grown in California, yet they are the most important white wine grapes for Rhone style wine. Wine lovers will experience a crisp refreshing white wine loaded with citrus and tropical ripe fruit.

In the glass the fruit really explodes with peach starting your smelling pleasure. Ripe nectarine with hints of fresh peeled melon greet your senses as well. When the wine warms in the glass notes of honey appear. Wonderful crisp citrus on each swirl.

Love this wine. The minerality finish is awesome. Pear/peach combination at the start of the taste is so good. Hints of lemon and orange zest flow in the middle of the taste. Ripe fruit, crisp, and citrus all make this wine delicious. I can tell you the bottle didn't last long!

On your next visit to Sonoma make sure you stop and taste the excellent wine being produced at Cline Cellars open daily from 10am -6pm. Kudos to winemaker Charlie Tsegeletos and thank you to the folks at Cline Cellars for allowing me the opportunity to taste.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

2009 Hook and Ladder Third Alarm Reserve Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

Well it was birthday week and I just knew one of the wines to be opened naturally a Pinot Noir. The post comes courtesy of Mr. Jason Deloach Winemaker at Hook and Ladder Winery in Santa Rosa California. I've been a big fan of Jason and the winery long before my visit, his passion for making great wine is evident in each bottle. Ripe fruit, perfectly balanced and in my opinion food friendly enjoyable wines.

Wonderful bright aroma starting with my favorite ripe cherry. Red raspberry follows with hints of strawberry and rose pedal. Cola, spice and that RRV trademark mushroom earthiness. After each swirl and right before the smell close your eyes picturing yourself among the vines. Amazing isn't it!

Fantastic flavor. Juicy cherry starts off your taste followed by ripe strawberry. Hints of red raspberry greet you in the middle along with spice, leather and a mild earthiness. The finish is so long and juicy. Jason this may be your best Reserve Pinot that I have tasted (folks his others were absolutely delicious too).

When you're visiting wine country you must stop for a taste at Hook and Ladder Winery located at 2134 Olivet Road Santa Rosa Ca 95401. Jason thank you for allowing me to taste this awesome pinot. Each of your wines never disappoints the wine lover.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Luscious Hedonism Small-Lot California Cabernet Tastelive Event

Tonights post comes to you courtesy of Tastelive and another awesome tasting Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon from California. The wine was very impressive and matched the esteem tasting panel of yours truly, Bean Fairbanks @WineBeerWa, Katie Pizzuto @gonzogastronomy, Dezel Quillen @myvinespot, Beau Carufel @UCBeau, Megan Kenney @Sonadora, Grace Hoffman @Cellarmistress, Lain Bradford @winereview, Pamela Heiligenthal @Enobytes, Amy Corron Power @Winewonkette, Joe Power @HoustonWino and lets not forget Cailyn McCauley and Joel Quigley our hosts. We enjoyed 4 quality cabernets this evening all with their own distinct characteristics.

We start the evening with the 07 Chateau Felice La Craie American Celebration Chalk Hill $50. What a wine to start the evening taste off with this blend of 73% Cabernet, 23% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc (75 cases produced). The aroma is full of dark berry, cherry, herbal notes and a wonderful spice. The flavor is so silky smooth with huge fruit nuances of ripe blackberry, cherry, hints of raspberry and a nice spice finish. The juicy fruit lingers very long into the taste. Amazing starting wine.

Next the 07 Krutz Family Cellars Stagecoach Vineyards Napa Valley $75. My 3rd tasting of this exceptional cabernet and the wine impresses me each time. Aromas of black cherry, spice, smokey oak, sweet vanilla, currents and herbal notes. The flavor showcases the ripe fruit perfectly. Cherry, blackberry, raspberry all wrapped around a touch of oak. Wonderful hint of spice.

The third wine is the 08 Rodney Strong Alexanders Crown Alexander Valley $75. Big bad boy here clocking at 15.5%. Aromas of green pepper, clove, blackberry, hints of leather and oak. The flavor is bold and elegant. The raspberry intertwined with the dark berry flavor finishing with a touch of spice and oak. Would love to taste another bottle in 5 years and compare.

Our final wine of the evening the 07 Wente Vineyards The Nth Degree Livermore Valley San Francisco Bay $60. Aromas of herbal tea, blackberry, hints of cocoa, slight raspberry and earthiness. The longer in the glass this wine really opened up. Once again another awesome tasting cabernet with raspberry, blackberry, plum, spice, oak and finishing with some earthiness. This wine is another I would love to taste in 5 years.

Descriptions of tonights tasting range from exceptional to epic (ucbeau)among the comments from the blogger panel. I won't disagree and we were all very spoiled by these wines. My kudos to all the winemakers for your hard work and talent. Special wines indeed! Cailyn and Joel another great event and my thanks for including me.

Cheers everyone!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

2009 Sequana Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

Located in Sebastopol California, Sequana Vineyards Pinot Noir by winemaker James MacPhail is tonights post. Classic Russian River Valley pinot both in aroma and taste.

Once in the glass cherry filled my nose. Next spice, cola, and fresh cut rose pedal were very pleasing. One of those Pinots I could smell all night long!

Awesome flavor rivaling a bottle tasted 2 months ago. Ripe cherry combined with hints of fresh raspberry treat your mouth. Spice and that familiar RRV earthiness round out your taste. Handcrafted perfect Pinot.

Thanks to the folks at the winery for introducing me to your wine. Love it! Folks to order your own Pinot and to taste award winning wine click the link Sequana Vineyards and Wine


Saturday, October 8, 2011

2009 The Slammer Syrah Big House Wines

My first offering from Big House Wines is the sample I received The Slammer Syrah. A unique winery located next to the Soledad State Correctional Facility in Monterey County, each label has a prison theme (The Slammer Syrah, The Birdman Pinot Grigio, The Usual Suspect Cabernet just to name a few). The head of all this wine well it's none other than The Warden Georgetta Dane.

On the nose this wine has a big dark fruit aroma. Blackberry is very evident from the start followed by ripe blueberry, some dark cherry, big currant and some smokey oak.

Definately a full bodied wine and very fruit forward. Blackberry and juicy cherry really come to the front with rich blueberry towards the middle of the taste. Hints of raspberry towards the juicy finish with spice and oak. I paired this wine twice once with burgers and then with bbq and I thought it worked well with each. Thanks Big House! To learn more about their wines click the link Big House Wine Company


Thursday, October 6, 2011

2009 Flora Springs Barrel Fermented Chardonnay Napa Valley

Today's post comes courtesy of the fine folks at Flora Springs who introduced me to their delicious barrel fermented chardonnay. I know what you're thinking "Hey Dan didn't you say you liked stainless steel fermented chardonnay?" Congratulations you are very attentive but I also said I like all chardonnays and this wine from Flora Springs ranks right up with my favorites.

In the glass my sniffing pleasure starts with ripe pineapple followed by hints of butterscotch. Next pear, some green apple and lucious tropical notes round out the aromas I identify (soft and not overpowering).

Awesome flavor of ripe pineapple to start. The peach/pear combo greets the middle of your taste and finishes with a nice hint of crisp minerality. The finish is long, juicy with pineapple and a nice buttery sensation. Well done!

Thank you Margaret for introducing me to these wonderful wines from Flora Springs. Readers the next time you visit the Highway 29 wineries make sure in St. Helena you don't miss these great folks!


Monday, September 26, 2011

2009 Flowers Winery Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Located just 2 miles from the Pacific Ocean rugged cliffs at elevations ranging from 1150 to 1875 feet, there sits a gem Flowers Vineyard & Winery. Cool breezes and coastal fog, it's a perfect setting for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes which produce award winning wines.

Flowers Vineyards were first born in 1990 with the purchase of 321 acres by founders Walt and Joan Flowers. In 1991 they planted 23 acres on what is known as Camp Meeting Ridge which grew to 33 acres. June of 1997 brought the construction of a gravity flow winery specifically to produce chardonnay and pinot noir their two favorite varietals. Soon a neighbor offered an additional 327 acres and Flowers Ranch was born. 47 acres of Pinot Noir were planted from 98 to 01 which is known as Frances Thompson Vineyard and Sea View Ridge Vineyard. The pictures of the vineyards, winery, coast are just breath taking and can be seen by clicking the link Flowers Vineyard & Winery Pictures

My first bottle two months ago was so aromatically pleasing and this bottle as well. Fresh ripe red fruit, cherry, hints of rose, touch of blackberry, a perfect hint of spice and finishing with orange peel. A wonderful wine which becomes even better the longer it releases in the glass.

Pinot Noir made right and perfect. Cherry with hints of raspberry and strawberry really showcase the red fruit. The spice compliments the fruit with the finish long and juicy. So silky and soft. Tastes like heaven in a bottle. My compliments to the staff at Flowers. If you have never tasted one of their fine wines, you're instructed to purchase and taste for yourself. Trust me!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Charity + Wine = Cellar Angels

Many great companies give back to their communities and charities as a way to help those in need. One such company located in Chicago Illinois called Cellar Angels , introduces wine lovers like myself to boutique wineries and wonderful charities. A group of wine loving friends determined to change the world, I admire and applaud their mission.

So how does it work you ask? Cellar Angels for starters partners with small family wineries offering exceptional wine at attractive prices. The wines purchased are shipped directly from the winery to your home or business. In return, a portion of your purchase directly supports one of the fine charities you get to choose such as "The V Foundation For Cancer Research, The Ounce promoting helping children, Soldiers' Angels helping our armed forces and their families, Seathos Foundation which promotes education about our impact on the seas of the world, Auction Napa Valley providing support for healthcare, youth services, housing in the Napa Valley communities. You're asking yourself "What am I waiting for can I join?" The answer is yes by clicking here Join Cellar Angels

Who are the participating wineries? Some past offerings include Cornerstone Cellars 05 Cabernet Sauvignon, Passaggio 09 New Generation Unoaked Chardonnay, Stein Family Wines 09 Gewurztraminer, Michel-Schlumberger 08 Dry Creek Valley Syrah just to name a few. Wouldn't it be great to have tasty wines delivered to your home to enjoy and you in return support worthy causes. Sounds like a win win to me.

Martin and all the folks at Cellar Angels are true angels introducing us to fine wine and allowing us to help worthy charities. Support those who support others!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

2010 Stepping Stone By Cornerstone Riesling Napa Valley

Last hot day in the Midwest for awhile I'm afraid so a great time to open my sample from Stepping Stone Wines the 2010 Napa Valley Riesling. Fermented in stainless steel, I absolutely love how the fruit shines both in aroma and flavor. For the past two years I have tasted the the Stepping Stone portfolio of wines and each vintage is solid, consistent great wine and very affordable.

In the glass the tropical melon, hints of flower and honey, lemon zest, lively citrus were so appealing to my nose. The wine smells exceptionally crisp and I'm excited to taste.

Outstanding flavor with grapefruit at the forefront. Tangerine and lemon zest greet you in the middle and a wonderful minerality on the finish. So clean, crisp, refreshing and dry. I tend to shy away from Riesling because others I have tasted were sweet, but this one is remarkable.

Craig many thanks for the wonderful wines you allowed me to taste. Kudos to the staff and keep producing these awesome wines. Fans make sure you check out Cornerstone Cellars to order some of your own Stepping Stone Wines and taste for yourself.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

2009 Ceja Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma Coast

Butterfly jumbo shrimp sounded so good for dinner and I knew the cellar had a perfect wine to pair, an 09 Ceja Sauvignon Blanc. Beautiful acidity, fresh fruit flavors, complimented the seafood dish drizzled with fresh lemon juice.

In the glass the fruit is really showcased. Grapefruit, melon, lemon and lime zest, hints of peach fill your nose. Crisp and refreshing, the aromas make your senses race wild.

Outstanding flavor on this wine and Ceja Vineyards never dissapoints the wine lover. The ripe grapefruit combined with hints of melon followed by the lime/lemon zest is perfect. The finish is long and juicy with a slight minerality note. One of my favorite sauvignon blanc's and Ceja Vineyards produces some of my favorite wines as always. Make sure you grab a case or 2 now because this tasty treat won't last long.


Friday, September 16, 2011

2006 Bonneau Napa Valley Meritage Epos

My last bottle from the wine club shipment courtesy of Scott Jordan for the TV Tuesday tastings at Cellars of Sonoma. John Bambury from Bonneau Wines was the evenings guest. I have read many great compliments about John's wines so I was very excited to have a taste. Today's offering is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stagecoach Vineyards, 20% Malbec and 10% Petit Verdot.

Just an unbelievable nose on this wine. While Scott was asking me "Do you smell this wine" I was trying to type the same. The fruit is amazing with the dark cherry, blackberry and blueberry so fresh. The allspice compliments the fruit perfectly and the swirl/smell finishes with a hint of sweet oak.

The flavor on this wine is so delicious and perfect. Ripe dark cherry combined with the rich blackberry and softened by the silky blueberry treats your taste buds. Towards the middle the allspice arrives and then the finish is a juicy raspberry. Kevin Jordan and I commented how outstanding this wine is and grab as many bottles as you can there are only 10 cases left.

Well Scott it's been a great 4 weeks of wine tasting with each bottle as tasty as the next. My thanks to you for introducing me to amazing wines and winemakers.


Monday, September 12, 2011

2007 Joseph Drouhin Vero Pinot Noir

My first Joseph Drouhin Pinot and slightly different than my normal selections most likely a plus to expand my knowledge. Wine from Burgundy France is somewhat scarce in my parts so the online purchase was a bonus (Lot 18 normally $35 per bottle but the deal was 2 bottle for $35).

Once in the glass I really picked up on the cherry followed by a pepper spice. Only after the wine opened up in the glass could I find the red raspberry. Some licorice in the middle as well.

Ripe juicy red raspberry greets your palate on each taste. Traces of the blackberry are evident throughout, hints of pepper and licorice round out the finish. Not used to pepper nuances in my pinot but I'm glad I tasted a style which I'm not accustomed to drinking. If you have tasted this wine would love to know your thoughts.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

2007 Krutz Family Cellars Stagecoach Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

I was introduced to Krutz Family Cellars wines a few months ago and having a couple wine friends who are fans of cabernet, it was only fitting to share this great bottle of wine with them. Served along with the wine, slices of beef and smoked gouda. Excellent finger food for this outstanding wine.

The comment from both my friends was how amazing the fruit aroma came across. Dark cherry, ripe blackberry, hints of leather and tobacco, sweet vanilla finishing with a smokey oak. The longer in the glass the oak subsides with the fruit coming to the forefront.

When I think of drinking cabernet the first thing that comes to mind is a nice piece of red meat perfectly seasoned and grilled to perfection for pairing with a bold red. What I find with this 07 Krutz Cellars cabernet is how the finish of this wine is so silky smooth. Your taste starts out with fresh blackberry followed by ripe cherry. Flavors of vanilla, molasses and a slight spice greet you in the middle. The finish a mild oak and soft. Ranks right up there with some of the best cabernets I have enjoyed. Buy now before it's all gone by heading to their website Krutz Family Cellars


Thursday, September 8, 2011

2010 Amorosa Bella Russian River Valley Chardonnay & Cellars Of Sonoma

Wine number 3 for the TV Tuesday series with Cellars of Sonoma was another beautiful wine. Scott's guests for the evening were Chef Christopher Greenwald and from New York Uncle Dean Jordan brother of Scott. Loved the intro music "The Boys Are Back In Town" along with the featured wine from Amorosa Bella. A special treat for viewers was a segment on NY wine courtesy of Dean and included some excellent facts on regions and wines produced. Awesome show and the upcoming wine dinner with Chef's creations along with tonights featured wines will be delicious.

The aroma on the wine was magnificient. Ripe crisp apple, fresh melon, pear, creamy vanilla and the slightest hint of oak. Refreshing and love the absence of the heavy oak nose.

The fruit flavor explodes as you taste the wine. Pear, lemon citrus, green apple and a small accent of oak is perfect. I find myself migrating to these types of Chardonnay's as they showcase the wonderful fruit and are very food friendly. I enjoyed the wine along with Chef, Scott and Dean including a fresh green salad with a drizzle of ceasar dressing. Nice acidity on the wine as well.

Charlyn the wine was amazing. Scott it's fun being able to compare the characteristics of the wine as we both taste miles apart from each other. Truly spoiled drinking this juice.


Monday, September 5, 2011

2007 Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

September 1st 2001 was the 2nd annual Cabernet Day where wine lovers across the globe tasted and tweeted about the wine they were drinking. I was fortunate to receive a sample from my friends at Flora Springs the 07 Napa Valley Cabernet.

Flora Springs Winery was founded in 1978 and is located in the heart of Napa Valley at the base of the Mayacamas Mountains. Over 3 decades of family wine making with over 90% of the red wine made from the grapes organically farmed estate vineyards on their 650 acres. The winery is named after mother and grandmother Flora along with the natural springs that run throughout the property. I highly recommend stopping by on your next visit to see the beauty and taste the wine.

On the nose a wonderful aroma of ripe dark fruit, dark cherry, vanilla, smokey oak and rounding out with a beautiful spice. As the wine opened up the oak faded slightly showcasing the beautiful fruit.

Excellent flavor on this wine. Blackberry, ripe dark cherry, hints of raspberry and vanilla, nice currant spice finishing with oak. I drank this wine with Beef Taquitos and loved the pairing. Beef and Cabernet are always a hit at my house. Yes I tasted while I cooked and the wine can easily be enjoyed on its own.

Margaret thank you so much for allowing me to taste this wonderful Cabernet. Kudos to Paul, Pat and their entire staff at Flora Springs! To learn more about their story click the link Flora Springs . Order wine, schedule a visit I think you will agree the wine is exquisite.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

2008 TR Elliott Three Plumes Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

TV Tuesday was the setting for today's blog post as Scott Jordan of Cellars of Sonoma hosted winemaker Ted Elliott and his Pinot Noir portfolio. Regular viewers know that Scott sent me the wine club shipment so I could taste along with them and comment during the show. Mr. Elliott is always a very informative guest and you really get the sense for his passion of making the best wine possible. Three Plumes will not disappoint the Pinot Lover and I even dubbed him on the show "Pinot King".

The aroma on this wine I feel is the best of all 3 Pinots Ted creates. On the nose you first get a rush of cherries, raspberry, followed by fresh rose pedals, spice and that RRV earthiness. Talking with Scott's son Kevin, he asked how the wine tasted and I had to admit tasting was the farthest thing from my mind. I wanted to swirl and smell all evening.

The flavor is stunning! Fresh raspberry, cherry, with the spice evident in the middle of the taste. Towards the end a quick hint of the orange peel and finishing with a beautiful earthiness that screams guess where I came from. The fruit/spice is intense yet the wine silky and smooth. I asked Ted what advice he would give someone wanting to make Pinot and to no surprise the answer revolved around the fruit and vineyard. You have a true gift Ted!

Scotty it's 2 for 2 on delicious wines you sent. Thanks I am having a blast. Check out Scott and the gang at Cellars of Sonoma the next time you visit "Beautiful Railroad Square Downtown Santa Rosa California." Pinot lovers I highly recommend you start drinking TR Elliott wines.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

07 Chimney Rock Elevage Blanc & Mango Gaspacho #ColdSoupWeek

Always a perfect experience when you're introduced to great wine paired with fresh food. Today's post I get the chance to drink a fabulous wine from Chimney Rock Winery and winemaker Elizabeth Vianna (my first) while creating a cold soup from the famous amazing Chef Robin White..... Mango Gaspacho. Highly recommend the pairing.

The soup was delicious with citrus of the orange juice, lime juice and mango with the right touch of heat from the jalapeno/onion dice. Toss in some fresh cilantro and the flavors explode. Yum was all I could say.

The wine Elizabeth was amazing. Aromas of peach, melon, lemon peel, vanilla with a hint of butterscotch. In the mouth fresh fruit with melon, nectarine, grapefruit, and citrus zest pleasing your palate. Vanilla on the finish really completed the wine for me. I loved how the citrus of the wine complimented the citrus in the soup. The pairing was magical.

Chef I'm honored to have sponsored night #3 of ColdSoupWeek. Elizabeth thank you for allowing me the opportunity to taste your wine. I hope you all had as much fun as this wino! Looking for the recipe click here Mango Gaspacho and to learn more about Chimney Rock Winery check out the link to their website.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wine, Cold Soup & the Amazing Chef Robin White

When my good friend Chef Robin White asked if I would sponsor a night for her upcoming virtual dinner week appropriatley named "Cold Soup Week" it didn't take long to say yes. Fresh ingredients to pair with great wine and you have a wonderful evening talking to others around the world. I asked if my audience could learn more about Chef,  she graciously agreed to an interview only if we both drank Pinot (her favorite) while I compiled the info. Again didn't take long to say yes :). Hope you enjoy!

The Iowa Wino "Growing up did you always want to be a chef"?

Chef: "Growing up Chef was the furthest thing from my mind, but maybe not really. I remember running home from school as fast as I could so I would not miss one minute of Julia Child and right after that Streets of San Francisco. Not because I like the show so much, I had to see the city scenes and the Golden Gate Bridge. I love that bridge and to this day I refer to it as "My Bridge"  I remember very early on saying to myself and close friends that I would one day live in San Francisco."

The Iowa Wino: "Give us a little background on the life of Chef Robin"

Chef: "I was really great at and and fascinated with science. I also loved fashion, still do, but science won. Over my first summer out of high school I worked  in the lab at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, MA. I was a Phlebotomist, (a person who draws blood from you ) I learned the craft very well from a woman who gave me great confidence that I could do it and be great at it. Gloria Cartwright was her name and she to this day was and is a inspiration in my life. When I went to school that Fall I landed a job at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital, now Dartmouth- Hitchcock Medical Center. I worked in the lab and in the Pathology lab, doing some small testing and assisting in autopsy's. I was completely fascinated every time . That was going to be my path. I was going to be a Forensic Pathologist. As time went on I was on my path, with many bumps in the road. I had no money to keep going all the way to Med School, but I was really good at Phlebotomy and I continued working in labs and teaching phlebotomy. I even worked on the study that found the gene that causes Colon Cancer. Was a big day for sure.

I eventually made my way out to San Francisco FINALLY my dream come true. I still get goose bumps when I think about my first drive over "My Bridge." I was surely where I wanted to be. I went to Stanford for more classes off and on. I got more and more into wine and food and cooking and experimenting. All that science paid off for sure. this was about 1980 I was working in SF at a lab and becoming more and more bored as the days went on, but its what I knew and thats what we do. zoom ahead to back on east coast 1985. My Dad got sick, I came home to help Mom. I couldn't take the lab stuff anymore, my friend had started a cleaning business. We grew the cleaning business into  a huge business after only 2 years. One day I was at a clients home checking on the team and the homeowner was crying at the kitchen table. I thought one of the girls had broken something of value. So I asked her what was wrong, she looked at me and she said , " My daughter's engagement party is Saturday night, My caterers father just dies and he cannot do the party. I've called the other 3 caterers in the area they are all booked. She was crying again, I said " people tell me I'm a really good cook, I'll do it for you."  the party was for 50 people, Hors d'oeurvres  and cocktails. I opened Martha Stewart's entertaining books and got cracking on making every single thing that resembles a Hor  d'oeurve in the books. With a few twists of course. The food was great, I was a hit. People asked me for my card over and over and of course I had none. The party cost me $2000 dollars to do after I was paid, it was my cooking school in one night fee. The people at that party were high up in politics, all the way to the Governor of MA at the time. Needless to say I was busy and in a new career from that night out to this present day. I figured out how to make money doing it and my level of food and wine knowledge went to a whole new level and fast. There have been 2 bakeries, a Gourmet Cheese and Fish Market, 3 catering businesses, 2 coffee shops, a Saloon and 6 restaurants since that faithful night. My expertise now is on Fresh and Local, Slow Foods and anything New England and California Cuisines, and Jamaican. I am self taught and proud of it. I have worked with some of the best in the business and not for them, with them. I guess it was in the plan all along. Some chef go to Cordon Blue, I did it the hard way, Ivy League to Chef."

Iowa Wino: "You currently are known as Sonoma's "Virtual Dinner Queen" pairing great dishes with great wines. Where does your inspiration come from?"

Chef: "I hope it's not just Sonoma. I hope I am the worlds virtual dinner Queen,  I've always wanted to be Queen of something, My friends will agree with me there.
My inspiration usually comes with the seasons as far as the food goes.  The wineries started getting involved from day one with my events. I love introducing people to new wines they cannot get in their area. But they can order them to be shipped over a month before the event and try something new. I have also been trying to find a way to get families back to the table. In this economy we need something to look forward to, a party, a event. This is a great affordable way for people to get involved with HUGE events and learn more recipes and more about different wines they can get their hands on and still have it not be a event that will cost $250-300 a person plus the outfit.  LOL!  It's a stay home event that you attend with hundreds of thousands and the family can be involved. This event does not run out of food and wine half way through the night."

Iowa Wino: "August 21-27 is Cold Soup Week which is 7 nights of fresh soup and wine. How did you pick those and the wines to pair with them?"

Chef: "#coldsoupweek actually came from a demand of what happened after #soupweek last November . My twitter audience didn't want to wait a year before it happened again. The recipes take the longest time to invent and test and narrow down. Once that is done I begin the process of choosing the right varietal of wine to pair, not so much a specific winery. This #coldsoupweek my original posting was soup and a suggested varietal. It still is the wineries and sponsors hoped in and there we have a event.
I really want people to understand and not be afraid of wine. I hope I am making it easier to pair and drink for any occaision. Wine doesn't have to be $100 a bottle to be considered good anymore. There are some lovely wines out there now for $15-$40 that are delicious and taste a lot more expensive than they are. I am hoping to expand the number of people who drink wine but understanding the food tastes so much better with a nice glass of wine, a table full of friends and it doesn't have to cost more than $10 a person, wine included."

Iowa Wino: "We both love Pinot Noir but what fascinates you about the grape/wine? Do you have a few favorite recipes to pair with Pinot?"

Chef: "Pinot, Ah my favorite word these days. Pinot to me is a challenge, a grape who needs tender, loving care but it cannot know your giving it to them. It is the grape most affected by anything that can go wrong with Mother Nature. and thats just while it's hanging on the vine. After it's picked the real work begins. You cannot mess with it to much, but it needs to be messed with.  It's a varietal of your damned if you do and your damned if you don't. I have a bunch of really great friends who make pinot. Their personalities range from Crazy Ass Winemaker to quiet more subtle type, but passionate to the bone about Pinot.  I have tasted Pinot made by these different winemakers side by side. Same vintage, same vineyard, picked same day, released about the same time. The differences blow my  mind every time. One is big and bold and HUGE flavor, the other is soft and supple and balanced and you want to "jump off a bridge cause there is nothing left to live for" flavor you don't want the bottle to ever end pinot.  Thats what gets me.  Yes Cab, big bold fruity sometimes, but a cab you know is going to taste like a cab every time. Whatever, I like cabs, don't get me wrong. But if 2 people make a cab the way I described before they will come very close to tasting very close to each other. Pinot is a wild child, a good child, a crazy fun loving child and a bad child all in one.  You can lead and teach the child right? there are still plenty of ways that child can go wrong. Thats how I feel about Pinot. Maybe I like a challenge, I think I do. When I open a bottle of Pinot I anticipate every single time, my mouth waters I get all excited wondering what it will taste like. It's the ever changing bottle of wine to me.  I like the ever changing things very much.  Pinot is not at all like food, usually 99% of the time if something cooking smells good it ends up tasting great on the plate. With Pinot it can be a crap shoot right up to the end. You can open a bottle of pinot, Put it in the right glass, swirl it, sniff it, taste it, all the right things to do with wine. But pinot can have a nose that will know you into next week. Dirty socks, my favorite, little fruit, raspberry, strawberry, vanilla, has it all going on. Then you can taste it and on the front end it's nice , its got structure or so you think, the back end it just falls off. My world explodes, the disappointment and the oh crap that usually comes out of my mouth. You shake it off and you hope for the best as the nose changes to nothing and the wines fades into nothing. You open another bottle and it starts all over again. And the weird thing is with Pinot, you can open a bottle from the same case and that one will be AMAZING!!!  I think it's the challenge, the thrill of the end product, the nerves, the excitement. I love all wines but none other since I have discovered Pinot I get that feeling every time. It's my drug, my high. Knowing what it takes to get it to be great is the story to me.  I Love Pinot!!!!!!
This year I am branching out in my life and making my first Pinot Noir ever. Along with my dear friend and winemaker Cynthia Costco, @passaggio and my other friend who is a GREAT Pinot maker, Peggy Ryan, @Noir1, who will be consulting on our little project.  Your hopes and prayers that the 1st try at this little project is a great success would be greatly appreciated. 

Iowa Wino: "What upcoming projects involving wine and/or food will we see from Chef Robin?"

Chef: "OOh great question. I see more virtual dinners in the future with more video. I have several projects in the pipeline that will take up a major amount of my time next year, but i'm not a liberty to talk about them yet.  When I can you will all know. It's going to be SUPER when it all comes together. My book is completed and sitting on my desk. I have editing and few more recipes to test. Who knows this is going to be a big year ahead I think."

Iowa Wino: "What words of advice can you give us all as we try to pair fresh ingredient dishes with wine?"

Chef: "When pairing food with wine the age old advice still works. White wines with white and light and reds with heavier dishes. Of course I have a lot of science in my background and I like to think out of the box a lot. Wine is great, it good for your health heart and soul.  I say drink what you like, the pairing doesn't always have to be perfection. What I love about wine is you open a bottle you pour a couple of glasses with friends and spontaneously a party happens. you end up in the kitchen putting a cheese plate together, some crackers, bread, nuts. You talk, you laugh and you live all because you popped a cork. Cheers!!!!!!!!"

Well I hoped you enjoyed reading about "My Favorite Chef" and learned something along the way. Please follow along this week on twitter as we celebrate #ColdSoupWeek. Check out all the recipes by clicking the link to her website Chef Robin White and have a great time creating these dishes. Robin my dear friend thank you for taking time out of your busy social schedule to give us this interview. By the way the Pinot bottle is empty LOL!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

2006 La Sirena Syrah Santa Ynez Valley Skype Taste With Scott Jordan & Heidi Barrett

Love technology and excited about tonights post. Scott Jordan of Cellars Of Sonoma and I have been working on a Skype tasting where I sip the current wine club shipment to coinside with each Tuesday Live show featuring the respective winemaker. Yours truly was projected on the TV in the tasting room (no they didn't run for the exits after seeing this wino from the Midwest) and enjoyed the wine along with the evenings guest Heidi Barrett. Having the opportunity to taste her wine and ask questions was a blast. The wine amazing!

What a great nose on this wine. The ripe plum combined with the spice is perfect. Hints of cranberry and strawberry are evident as well. Excellent red fruit aroma.

Scott and Kevin told me I would be in for a treat and they were correct. Cranberry and cherry followed by clove/spice with a slight hint of smokey oak on the finish. So smooth and silky. Heidi I see why your wine making is in such demand! Truly an awesome wine.

Scott I'm glad we were able to skype taste and can't thank you enough. Looking forward to the next 3 weeks and those wines. Folks tune in each Tuesday at 6pm pacific by clicking the link TV Tuesday Live which can also be found on their website. It's a ton of fun and full of knowledge. You get to meet winemakers, pick their brains from philosphy to production to farming techniques. Oh and buy some wine if you stop by the tasting room especially tonights portfolio from La Sirena


Sunday, August 14, 2011

2006 D'Argenzio Zinfandel Russian River Valley

Couple weeks ago I did a Tastelive event and the 06 Zinfandel was to be part of the tasting. Due to some delays in shipping the wine arrived a few days late for the event.

The winery located in beautiful Santa Rosa California (plus a tasting room in Burbank California) has won many awards with their portfolio of wines. Grapes are grown in Sonoma County and the family stays true to it's roots producing hancrafted wines Old World style. Three varietals are their main focus Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. They still hand press grapes with a 100 year old press, age wines in french and american oak ranging from 12-22 months. Quality wine from a wonderful Italian family.

On the nose the rich dark fruit was front and center. Ripe blackberry followed by hints of red raspberry, pepper and spice. Pleasant aroma with a nice balance of fruit and spice treating your senses.

Jamy blackberry starts your taste off. Pepper and spice compliment the blackberry in the middle. The finish is long and juicy with red raspberry lingering. I paired this wine with pasta & italian sausage and found the combination pleasing. I also enjoyed a few sips on its own (some things are just a given) relaxing on the porch.

Ray thank you for the opportunity to taste your Zinfandel. I look forward to enjoying your wines in the future. Check out their website by clicking the link D'Argenzio Winery to learn more about their wines and history.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

2010 Stepping Stone by Cornerstone Corallina Syrah Rose Napa Valley

About a year and 1/2 ago Craig Camp Managing Partner of Cornerstone Cellars introuduced me to the portfolio of wines by Stepping Stone and I have been a fan ever since. Consistent, food friendly, fruit forward wines which are easy on the pocket book and great tasting. Todays post was a sample received the 2010 Corallina Rose` which is produced from the Syrah grape. Crisp, refreshing and I found myself unable to put the glass down it was that good.

Beautiful aroma on the wine with ripe strawberry very dominant in the beginning. Hints of ripe melon, allspice combining with fresh cut rose pedals is very pleasing to the nose. A wine you could swirl and smell all day!

As I said above so crisp and refreshing. Juicy fresh strawberry starts your taste followed by a hint of tart cranberry. A ripe melon citrus greets your palate in the middle and the slight hint of spice at the end compliments the juicy finish. The layers of fruit were in perfect balance and the wine very easy drinking.

Craig a big thank you for allowing me to taste this wonderful wine. My compliments to the winemaker Jeff Keene for creating a gem. Stop by their tasting room in Yountville on your next visit or click the link Cornerstone Cellars to order online.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

2008 Ceja Vineyards Carneros Pinot Noir

Selecting a bottle of wine to enjoy on any particular day is exciting to me and especially when I choose one from Ceja Vineyards. Each varietal pours nicely, the aromas are consistently pleasing to the nose and the taste is outstanding. The Ceja family takes great pride in producing some of the finest wines in Carneros and considers each fan an extension of their family. Armando the 2008 Carneros Pinot Noir is awesome.

In the glass that wonderful familiar herbal spice greets my nose that tells me right away it's Carneros. Different regions have that special characteristic that sets it apart from others. Next the aroma of cherry, a hint of rose pedal and red berries. I found myself swirling the wine more than usual admiring how the layers of aromas were absolutely perfect.

The taste spoiled me with so much flavor yet the finish was soft and elegant. Deep dark cherry with hints of red raspberry and strawberry. The spice had a slight earthy/herb flavor and finished the wine nicely. Just like the aromas before them the balance of flavors were heaven. Amelia this might be my new favorite Ceja wine but then again all your varietals make that list :)

Visit their website by clicking here Ceja Vineyards and order your own bottles to enjoy. I highly recommend stopping by their tasting salon in downtown Napa on you next visit to wine country.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Flowers Winery TasteLive From the Sonoma Coast

What a great tasting this evening with Jason Jardine Winemaker and Christopher Barefoot Estate Director overlooking the Flowers Winery Vineyards on TasteLive via Ustream. We were truly spoiled this evening with 5 outstanding wines starting with the 2009 Flowers Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, the 2008 Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Chardonnay, the 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, the 2008 Flowers Sea View Ridge Pinot Noir and finishing with the 2009 Flowers Perennial. While the terrain may be rugged the wines are pure elegance. View their website by clicking Flowers Winery to learn more about their wines, history and georgeous views.

We started with the 09 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. Lovely nose of pear and fresh lime. Others said it smelled like fresh key lime pie. I have to agree. The feel in the mouth was fresh pear, again the key lime, vanilla cream and mineral. Wonderful citrus and acidity. Really excellent wine both in aroma and taste.

Next up the 08 Camp Meeting Ridge Chardonnay. Slightly different than the Sonoma Coast with vanilla, carmel, pear and oak aromas. The citrus lime/lemon were softer, pear and a hint of melon and the finish a full vanilla/oak. Loved the style of this chardonnay as well.

On to the Pinot Noir starting with the 2009 Sonoma Coast. A very pleasing nose of bright cherry, red ripe fruit, floral notes, the slightest hint of spice and orange peel. I like others could smell these wines all evening they are that aromatic. Outstanding flavor of strawberry, raspberry, cherry with a touch of spice on the soft juicy finish. The red fruit lingers long at the end. Heaven!

The second Pinot Noir of the evening was the 2008 Sea View Ridge. Earthy aroma followed by cherry, cola and a heavier spice. The flavor is amazing with a jammy dark cherry, warm spice, hint of red raspberry, chocolate finishing with earth and oak. From the comments this may have been the fan favorite of the evening. I can tell you in my house this bottle never made it to midnight. Amazing pinot.

The final wine was the 2009 Perennial a blend of Pinot Noir, Syrah and Pinot Meunier. Normally there is a splash of Chardonnay but I believe the winemaker Jason said he omitted from this vintage. Floral aromas along with cherry, dark berry, a hint of pepper but very light, toasty oak. The flavor was more full bodied than the other 4 wines and the red berry was chewy, blackberry, cherry traces of plum all were very nice.

Well another successful TasteLive event showcasing the amazing wines of Flowers Winery. Cailyn and Joel a big thank you for organizing the event. Jason and Christopher I can't thank you enough for allowing me to taste these awesome wines and learning about your winery. You have a new fan.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rootstock Festival Tastelive July 16th

Ok I have to admit this was one of the more interesting Tastelive events I have participated in. Chef Bob Blumer cooking 5 wine paired dishes from his newest cookbook and the segment was correctly named "Eat the Clock. The hilarious part was poor Bob having issues with the butane burners staying lit while good natured Ziggy Eschliman (ZiggyTheWineGal) was just hammering him "Come on Bob tick tock tick tock). So while my fellow wine bloggers and I are watching the first half hour we are tasting the wines paired with todays meals. Today's wines were the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Benziger Family Winery, 2008 Reserve Chardonnay Russian River Valley Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2009 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Sequana Vineyards, 2007 Stagecoach Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley from Krutz Family Cellars. The 5th wine due to shipping issues never arrived so the 2006 D"Argenzio Zinfandel Russian River Valley will be a post all its own. The wines were all very tasty and I was definately spoiled drinking them.

Thinking I was a tad off this evening because on a couple of the wines my fellow bloggers seemed to identify a couple flavors and as well a couple aromas which I didn't. We started with the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Benziger Family Vineyards. Initially the aromas of lime/lemon zest, grapefruit were dominant for me with the juicy lemon, mineral and grapefruit once in my mouth. I went back though as my fellow bloggers were picking up some tropical fruit notes and I could sense some melon towards the middle of the taste. Crisp, refreshing and perfect for this heat wave we are having. I commented I think this wine would pair well with a pan fried tilapia I make crusted in panko with lemon thyme. A nice start to the evening.

Next up the 2008 Reserve Chardonnay Rodney Strong Vineyards. A perfect chardonnay. The aroma of baked apple, spice, vanilla was as if my grandmother was here baking her famous apple pies and apple crisp. The pear, apple were layered with a creamy vanilla and the oak finish terrific. Elegant wine and one that will be in my cellar for the future. Definately spoiled me with this wine.

The third wine of the evening the 2009 Sequana RRV Pinot Noir. As my buddy Dezel (MyVineSpot) would say "How was that Pinot Miles" LOL. I really enjoyed the aroma of the earth/dust combined with the ripe cherry and fresh cut rose pedal finishing with spice. The flavors flowed nicely from the juicy cherry to the red raspberry/strawberry followed by the warming spice and finishing with the classic earthiness. I felt like I was in the vineyard smelling the soil and vines as I tasted the wine.

The final wine of the evening the 2007 Krutz family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Stagecoach Vineyards. I opened this wine an hour before tasting, decanted and my fellow bloggers were identifying a couple different aromas. Trust me when I say this was an outstanding cabernet. When I first opened the bottle the smoke and oak came racing out. Once in the glass the rich dark fruit aroma of blackberry, a hint of tobacco, leather, smokey vanilla and oak. The flavor of blackberry, some dark cherry, a hint of molasses finishing with a touch of smoke and oak. A perfect prepared steak would be awesome with this wine. I am keeping another bottle in the cellar and want to in a month revisit and taste to see if I identify additional aromas.

What a great week of wines. The opportunity to taste Krutz Family Vineyard wines for the first time, Sequana, Benziger, to the old friends of Rodney Strong Vineyards and Gloria Ferrer Winery all having outstanding portfolios, each glass was a treat. Cailyn and Joe thank you for allowing me to participate. To the wineries again my thanks for allowing me to drink exceptional wine.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

July 12th TasteLive California Chardonnay & The Summer Grill

Its been awhile since I was on a TasteLive panel but very honored to be part of  California Chardonnay & The Summer Grill featuring the wines of Gloria Ferrer Vineyards, Krutz Family Cellars and Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards. It was an excellent lineup of chardonnay and one I really enjoyed with many of my blogger friends from across the country.

The first wine we opened the 2008 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Chardonnay. I thoroughly enjoy each bottle from their winery as the flavors and aromas are well balanced and the wine is easy to drink. Once in the glass a very nice citrus and pear aroma. Next ripe apple and an excellent spice which tickled my nose. Green apple starts your tasting pleasure with a long juicy lemon citrus finish. As the wine warmed in my glass tropical fruit appeared. Love Carneros Chardonnay and a big thanks to Steve & Gloria Ferrer.

The second wine we opened was the 2008 Krutz Family Cellars Chardonnay Sleepy Hollow Vineyards Santa Lucia Highlands. Excellent wine and one I thought was much better the longer the wine opened up. This would be my first bottle of the Krutz Chardonnay and definately not my last. The aroma of pineapple, spice and creamy vanilla were very pleasing to my nose. The flavors were awesome with spiced apple, pear, pineapple and as the wine warmed the citrus and creamy vanilla. Patrick thanks for allowing us to taste this beauty and I will have to try this with maple syrup for breakfast!

The final wine was the 2009 Rodney Strong Vineyards Chardonnay Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards. I have tasted Rodney Strong wines a good number of times and always find them excellent and very food friendly. Right away there is a big pear aroma that hits your nose followed by apple. Spice and oak are present towards the end of the smell. Ripe fruit (pear, apple and a slight hint of melon) with a creamy finish of vanilla and toasty oak are a perfect combination. Justin thank you as well for an awesome offering.

Well there you have it another successful Tastelive event with 3 very good Chardonnays. A big thanks to Cailyn McCauley and Joel Quigley for an excellent evening. Thank you to the wonderful winemakers for creating the juice we all enjoyed this evening.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

2007 Boedecker Athena Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Oregon

Today's post comes courtesy of the Oregon wine country and a purchase of the 07 Boedecker Athena Pinot Noir. Founded in 2003 in Carleton Oregon and then 5 years later a move to their own winery in Portland, the winemakers Stewart and Athena, are committed to producing small lot, naturally crafted, small production Oregon wines. The wines they produce have minimal intervention as many a great winemaker will tell you its all about the fruit. Interesting is from the creation of the winery the closure on the bottle has always been a screw cap. Their Pinot Noir is aged 18 months, bottled then held for an additional 6-9 months before being released.

Nice aroma on this wine with black berry and dark cherry at first. Spice and earthiness greet your senses next with a slight hint of smokey oak at the end. Classic Pinot aromas and gets me excited for the taste.

Wonderful fruit flavor, well balanced just a joy to drink. The begining brought the ripe lucious cherry followed by raspberry and a hint of strawberry. The combination of spice on the finish and that touch of oak/earthiness was excellent. As I continued to taste the flavors changed places with raspberry and strawberry taking their place at the front. Quality wine and one I highly recommend. Another bottle of the same sits in my cellar and I will age it one year and can't wait to see how the wine gets even better.

If you're visiting Portland stop by 2621 NW 30th Ave for a taste. You can also visit their website Boedecker Cellars to learn more about them and purchase wine.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

2010 Stepping Stone (By Cornerstone Cellars) Rocks White Wine Napa Valley

Cornerstone Cellars tasting room located at 6505 Washington Street in Yountville has a very relaxed/friendly setting to taste some very good wine. Visitors have the opportunity to taste both Cornerstone and Stepping Stone wines at their leisure. Craig and the staff do a wonderful job and its a must stop for me on my visits to Napa.

Tonights wine a sample received was the 2010 Napa Valley Rocks White Wine. In the glass the multiple fruit aromas were awesome. The wine started with a lemon citrus zest, a hint of grapefruit, a blast of tropical fruit all on day one. The next day pear, green apple and peach were the dominant aromas. Loved how this wine evolved from one day to the next.

I served the wine first with grilled yellow squash and zucchini drizzled with olive oil plus a garnish of lemon thyme. The meat was grilled chicken. The lemon citrus flavor was perfect at the beginning. A hint of grapefruit in the middle followed by the fresh tropical fruit. Great pairing. The next day I tasted the wine green apple and pear were present and the finish ripe peach/nectarine. Crisp, clean and refreshing love the versatility.

To learn more about Cornerstone and Stepping Stone wines visit their website today.