Sunday, December 29, 2013

Vinho Verde Arca Nova Loureiro Colheita 2012 Quick Sip

My quarterly sample taste from Vinho Verde was another enjoyable inexpensive sipper from Portugal. Digging the tropical character of the wine.

On the nose lime citrus, honeydew melon, tangerine with a hint of lemon zest. Crisp and fresh. The mouth is full of mineral notes, tangerine with a dominant lime and honeydew melon emphasis. Hints of white peach and apricot as you continue to taste. The finish is nice and juicy.

The wines of Vinho Verde are fun enjoyable everyday wines that won't break the bank. Sold at most retail wine shops. Give them a taste!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

LaCrema Monterey Chardonnay and Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir on Snooth

My first Snooth.Com tasting and really impressed with the live video feed and interaction between participants and hosts. Great conversations about distinct variations in regions, climate and it's affects on the grapes. Plus some pretty nice wines this evening from LaCrema Wines and from the comments I think folks enjoyed the evening. I know I did!!!

Up first the 2012 Monterey Chardonnay which I dubbed the tropical beauty. On the nose loads of citrus, butterscotch, fresh lemon, pineapple and orange zest. The mouth carried the tropics and made me feel the coastal breeze in every sip. Pineapple and lemon citrus with hints of green apple. Slight hint of oak on the finish. Sitting here in this cold climate my heart warmed with this wine. I felt like I was sipping on the beach.

The 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir our second wine of the evening was another excellent selection. Big fan of sonoma coast juice. Bright cherry notes with a deep cola and cinnamon spice. Strawberry and creamy vanilla as the wine opens. Jammy fruit in the mouth with cherry, red raspberry and cranberry. Sweet toasty vanilla, cola and warm cinnamon finishing with a long juicy red berry finish. Beautiful.

Great holiday tasting and a huge thanks to Greg Dal Piaz and LaCrema for including me. Really enjoyed myself this evening.

Happy Holidays

Saturday, December 14, 2013

2009 La Sirena Le Barrettage Napa Valley by Winemaker Rockstar Heidi Barrett

I had the pleasure of tasting this full bodied red wine over the course of 2 days discovering a wine which revealed it's character with each glass and breath. Heidi has been known as one of the premier winemakers which is nothing new to many of you who visit these posts or wine lovers across the globe. Her attention to detail from the harvest of the fruit to the keen sense of knowing the progression of each wine in the different stages of aging (vine to barrel, to bottle) it's why she has been so successful in her career and sought after as a winemaker. Let's call it the "Golden Touch" of winemaking.

Pouring my first glass after just opening the bottle I noticed a young wine on the nose.  Remember above when I said time revealed the character? Initially the aromas of earthy herbs, pepper, smokey notes, leather and molasses didn't flow and I remembered when speaking with the winemaker she talked about allowing her wines to open in the glass instead of decanting. About every 5 minutes I revisited the swirling sniffing process to have my eyes opened to this amazing bouquet. The plum and blackberry jammy notes start to appear along with licorice and a hint of wild flowers followed by cloves. Every visit revealed this magical inner child coming out and each glass did the same. By the last glass you absolutely fell in love with this wine and it's balance of lush fruit complimented with these amazing spice notes.

The mouth is full of rich dark fruit and becomes more pronounced on the later pours and glass time. The harmony between the layers of fruit (plum, blackberry) and spice (anise, toasty oak,  cloves, molasses) coupled with the silky finish is superb. I found it difficult to let the wine sit so long but so worth the wait. Ironically I enjoyed a lasagna dish with a couple glasses and loved the pairing. How amazing will this wine be in another 3-5 years?

Visit La Sirena Winery website to secure a few bottles for your cellar or stop by Cellars of Sonoma where you can taste and buy a bottle or 3. You're going to love it.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2007 Gann Family Cellars Alexander Valley Merlot TV Tuesday "In My Glass"

Merlot the wine many say was ruined by the movie Sideways yet remains as a staple in Bordeaux Wines. Can anyone name the wine Miles sipped from a paper cup after the wedding? Actually I think the popularity of merlot was decreasing long before the movie based on the huge supply of marginal juice in the marketplace. There was still some very good wine being produced I was just having a hard time finding them. Now lets fast forward to tonight's wine from Gann Family Cellars and you have merlot A+. Michael allows the vineyard to shine in each bottle and creates a wine which is rich, silky and elegant.

Awesome nose with the ripe plum and dark cherry followed by a fresh poultry spice (thyme, sage and rosemary).  Allowing the wine to breathe adds a nice cinnamon, cocoa and toasty oak character to the aroma. All throughout the fruit is very dominant and the balance of fruit and spice is refreshing in this merlot.

Wonderful silky mouth feel with layers of fruit and spice so well rounded. Juicy plum and cherry followed by cinnamon, dried herbs and light chocolate notes. Soft tannins even though the fruit is big and the spice bold. Michael was meticulous with his barrel aging and this wine rewards him  and us with this beautiful elegant juice. Price point of $28 is "grab all you can pricing" before its gone. A couple of months ago when the winemaker was a guest the consensus was the wine showed very well. Still does Michael.....well done.

Tune in tonight at Cellars Of Sonoma  TV Tuesday Live and watch a special telecast of all 8 Vintners in the house pouring and talking wine. 6pm pacific.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

2010 Joseph Jewell Appian Way Vineyard Pinot Noir RRV for TV Tuesday "In My Glass"

Excited for this weeks Gala at Cellars of Sonoma featuring all the Vintners who's wines are poured in the tasting room. As part of the festivities it is my civic duty to taste some of the featured wines Scott chose for the wine club shipments. I'm adding Joseph Jewell Wines to my "In The Glass" holiday series but feel free to drink this Appian Way Pinot Noir anytime. From the first vintage tucked away in a garage in Windsor Ca 2006,  Micah and Adrian have made a name for themselves by creating wines "with distinct noses and finishes that reflect their unique style of winemaking."

As you pour this wine in the glass I couldn't help but smell this wonderful rich earthy mushroom aroma. For a moment I felt like I was deep in the forest harvesting fresh mushrooms. Bright cherry and fresh cranberries, dried herbs and cloves with hints of red raspberry and cinnamon. The layers of fruit and spice are complex and compliment each other. Wonderfully aromatics which evolve and change with each swirl. Well done gentlemen.

Each sip reveals a distinct red fruit quality of cherry, tart cranberry and fresh picked raspberries. Layers of crushed cloves, green tea and earthy notes treat the palate mid taste with the finish long and reintroduces the tart cranberry/cherry. Elegant with a masculine kick. Pair with your holiday pork or turkey dish and have your guests smiling. Price point $45 and every bit delicious

 Micah and Adrian you have a delectable Pinot Noir from the Appian Way Vineyard. Scott always spoiled when I open these wines. Tune in Tuesday at 6pm pacific to speak with all the vintners. We will have a great time and you might just hear Scott "This is where you discover wine one sip at a time"


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

2010 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon "In My Glass"

Welcome to a new little twist for the blog called the "In My Glass" series of wines for the holidays. These promise to be tasty treats like tonight's Cabernet from Cornerstone Cellars which kicks off our fun. My friends in Yountville are knocking it out of the park with this wine. Classic complex juice which they describe as "Showcasing the authentic varietal character of this incomparable cabernet sauvignon is an important part of the Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon legacy."

Great nose with deep rich dark cherry, fresh plum and raspberry, soft blueberry notes, cinnamon spice and dried rosemary. Day 2 and 3 the spice/herbs open even more and compliment the dark fruit aromas. A level of elegance only the finest cabs can achieve.

Each sip fills your mouth with dark fruit (cherry, black raspberry, creamy blueberry and plum) followed by a warm cinnamon spice. Hint of cocoa as you head for the finish which is soft for a cab with loads going on. Sipping heaven for me with the layers of fruit and spice treating the palate. Tasted 3 straight days and the wine was even better on day 3. I would rate this a must for the holidays but plan to carry it in your cellar all the time. Price point $65 and a value.

Whether you pair with a meal or sip by the fire like I have, Cornerstone Cellars is a great choice to spoil you or your friends. So what are you waiting for ....get over to see them today. Well done my Yountville family,  happy to kick off the holidays with you.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Kramer Vineyards Single Block Pinot Noir Virtual Wine Tasting

Kimberley Kramer winemaker periodically holds virtual tastings showcasing Kramer Vineyards Wines. A 2 hour block was scheduled to discuss 2 of her 2010 single block Pinots.....Rebecca's Reserve and Cardiac Hill with several wine lovers across the country. Kim in my opinion is one of the best when it comes to engaging her audience. We talked at great length about soil characteristics, vine spacing, climate, harvest, location of the vineyards and the evolution of the wines. You can really tell she loves her job and understands the technical aspects of wine making. Not a dull moment in the whole time slot.

We started with the Rebecca's Reserve a 100 case production from vines planted in 1992. The spacing on these vines are 4x4 and with the increase in vine density comes stress resulting in unique characteristics in the wines.  The wine was aged 18 months in french oak prior to bottling. A nice lively nose on this wine that kept changing as the air opened the wine up. We commented how the fruit to spice dominant aromas kept reversing over the 2 hrs of tasting. As I first opened the wine earthy characteristics along with the bing cherries fills the nose. Continue to swirl and raspberry, plum with a big cassis notes followed by cloves/cola. Like I described before 30 minutes into the taste the aromas flipped and the spice was dominant and wait another 30 and back to the fruit coming to the front. The wine was very delicious. Cherry, raspberry with hints of earthiness along with the cloves. Towards the middle even a hint of herbs (thyme) along with plum. Nice long finish. I kept going back to this wine and like the aromas the flavors also flipped more towards spice dominant. The wine is good now and you can cellar for 10 years (I'm lucky to let wine age a year due to no patience) and lets see how many of you can allow that to happen. Great start to the evening.

Hour 2 brought us to the Cardiac Hill another 100 case production wine with the vineyard named for the steep clay hillside where the grapes are grown. The wines from this site tend to be floral and elegant. I would agree with my fellow participants that this wine was the more aromatic with the ripe red cherry and wild violets notes. As the wine was introduced to more air fresh cut rose pedals and hint of forest along with  red raspberries/dark licorice made an appearance. The floral and fruit character of this wine was so pleasing and then toss in some spice and you could swirl and sniff this baby all night. The flavor was equally outstanding with loads of fresh cherry, raspberry followed by cola and spice notes. Still get a little hint of the earthiness with this wine as well but the finish with all that is going on complexity wise, is soft and elegant. Really beautiful bottle of wine. Guess what.... this one can age for 10 years too (insert again Dan has no patience).

Great wines start in the vineyard and these 2 bottles this evening were no exception. There is a lot of handcrafted love in each wine and bravo to Kim both in her wine making skills and customer engagement. Her passion comes out loud and clear as she talks about the wines produced and the vineyards which allow these super delicious wines. I believe my comment "Kramer Vineyards produces drop dead delicious wines" was very appropriate for this evenings taste. Or as my buddy Dezel Quillen would say "It's OMG juice" Kim thanks again for including me in tonight's discussion. I learn so much from these sessions and instills my love of small production wine. Stop by and visit with Kim and the staff and see for yourself what many of us are enjoying.


Monday, November 18, 2013

2002 Eric Ross Russian River Valley Saralee's Vineyard Pinot Noir

Just what the doctor ordered to bring me out of the fog I was in. Over the last couple months I've just been drinking wine, not giving much thought to the grapes or the winemaker, how the wine aged or even where it originated. One email I received asked if I had given up tasting and sharing my thoughts. No inspiration maybe, or just a chance to step back and evaluate why I started this blog, who reads it and why. So I surfed the cellar and grabbed the oldest bottle of Pinot Noir I owned a 2002 Eric Ross RRV.

I imagine your asking yourself how can a Pinot be 11 years old and still drinkable. After all shouldn't one drink them up to 4 years past their birth? When you know the winemaker and the quality of the wine they produce, opening an aged bottle is a treat.

First thing I notice is the color. Deep maroon as if the wine was just bottle 6 months ago. Black cherry and cranberry with huge cola and cinnamon notes treat the nose. Hint of dried herbs and plum. Amazing how the fruit and spice blend so well together to create this beautiful bouquet even after all these years.

Eric Ross is why you should drink small production wine. Cherry and tart cranberry with crushed clove and cinnamon. Plum and cola notes round out the soft finish. Still shows an elegant character and a nice complexity. The wine has aged nicely Eric. Well done.

I want you to open the oldest bottle you own and treat yourself this week. Let's see who wins the "I drank the oldest bottle this week" contest. Make it a small production wine will you.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

You Picked A Fine Time To Drink Me Pinot

How many times have you tasted a wine and said "Damn I wish I could taste this again in a year?" The exact reason I purchased multiple bottles of the wines I tasted tonight. Over the past year both have evolved into this elegant bouquet of fruit and spice and gives you the sensation of standing in the vineyards surrounded by beauty. Maybe that's why I just go nuts over pinot noir. Rose pedals, earthy dew laden forest floor, cherries, raspberry, strawberry, cloves, cinnamon and cola. How can you not love those aromas and flavors dancing across your senses/palate.

Up first the 2011 Code Seven Passaggio Wines Pinot Noir Fagan Creek Single Vineyard. Right from the bottle rich dark cherry and clove with hints of fresh cut roses. The herbal notes really calmed with aging and a faint hint is evident today. The mouth is full of rich ripe dark cherry and clove with juicy strawberry. A soft silky finish awaits you as this lovely wine ages. I have 1 more bottle to sip next year. Oh so good! I would rate this an 88-89

Another outstanding Pinot is the 2010 Campesino Los Carneros Papi y Chula Vineyard. A beautiful dark cherry with cinnamon, light red berries and hints of wild violets on the nose. The eucalyptus and earthy notes are mild and really compliment the layers of fruit and spice. Much like the first time I tasted this wine the red fruit is abundant (cherry, strawberry, raspberry, cranberry) with a cinnamon/clove spice that warms you. Elegant long finish. Aging has taken it from an A to A+. I would rate this a 93.

Cindy and Macario choose exquisite grapes for their superb wines. Their fans get to spoil themselves with each bottle. Try them both today if you love small production handcrafted pinot noir. Special juice from gifted winemakers.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Boxwood Winery on Virginia Wine Chat hosted by Frank Morgan

Frank Morgan is a huge promoter/advocate of  Virginia Wines asked me if I would like to participate in his wine forum called #VAWineChat featuring Boxwood Winery. I jumped at the chance to taste my very first Virginia wine which I have heard so much about.

Located in Middleburg Virginia, Boxwood Estate Winery produces wines from the varietals Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Malbec in the Bordeaux traditional style. A beautiful state of the art facility to produce boutique wines, the vineyards supplying the grapes were first planted in 2004 with production commencing in 2006. I mentioned the next time I'm in VA I should really stop by for a visit.

First wine of the evening was the 2011 Topiary a red blend of 68% Cabernet Franc and 32% Merlot. How ironic we were drinking this on National Merlot Day. I enjoyed the silky elegant nose of fresh cut violets with rich ripe red fruit. Cherry, raspberry and strawberry dance across the nose in harmony. If I didn't know this was a blend on a blind taste I would have bet a Pinot. Love the delicate mouth with the cherry and strawberry front and center. Little earthy notes and a nice touch of dried thyme on the finish. Well done!

Now comes Mr. Bold The 2010 Boxwood a red blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot. Pair this wine with a big juicy steak or hearty beef stew and you will be in love. The nose shows tons of dark fruit, white pepper, clove, tobacco and licorice. I get some earthy herbal notes as well as the wine opens. In the mouth big dark fruit continues with blackberry, plum, raspberry and blueberry followed by the clove and herbs. I enjoyed how the wine softened with air time. Excellent!

A big thank you to Boxwood Winery for introducing me to their wines. I never knew VA made this variety of juice. Frank Morgan as well for including me in this weeks #VAWineChat. Love being introduced to new wines and I had a blast. The more people who discover Virginia Wines the more folks will be drinking this mighty fine nectar of the gods.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

2010 James Family Cellars Chardonnay Sonoma Coast Sonoma County on TV Tuesday Live

Love fall because we start tasting some amazing or as my buddy Dezel would say OMG juice. That's right the winemakers are back at CELLARS OF SONOMA and tonight was all about JAMES FAMILY CELLARS Jeff James was Scott's guest and we bloggers were on virtually to help taste the 2010 Chardonnay. What a great way to spend an education at it's finest.

Four years ago Scott introduced me to Jeff's wines. Rock solid, balanced award winning gems with each bottle showcasing the story of the vineyards. During the the show Jeff offered his perspective on the recent rains and it's effect on the unharvested grapes. We talked about style, balance and proper cellar temperature for wines. I asked Jeff his thoughts on the new stainless steel chardonnay's vs the oak/buttery versions and he prefers his 2010 which is a balance between both. He did though offer you should choose varietals which best pair with the food you are serving.

Rich elegant nose of pineapple, gala apple, fresh pear with butterscotch caramel notes and creamy vanilla. Day 2 showed some nice toasty oak and baking spice. Very pleasing and the aromas flow beautifully in harmony.

The mouth is full of fruit with sweet ripe pear, juicy lemon and crisp apple with intermittent pineapple notes. The finish is very long and brings a slight hint of toasty oak to the palate. Easy to see why this wine was a Gold Medal Winner at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Well done Jeff.

Folks tune in each Tuesday at 6pm pacific at Cellars of Sonoma website get your wine education on. Scott does a great job of teaching guests all they need to know about the world of wine appreciation. Remember to stop in and take a shot at the blind tasting so you can have a chance at winning a bottle of wine for $1 each. You must be tuned in to win! We are up to 10 bottles which my bets on Brad to win. I have to thank Scott for another excellent hand picked selection for the wine club. Jeff as always you're an excellent guest and provide us with tons of wine knowledge.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

2011 Juslyn Vineyards Bella Rose Napa Valley

Spring Mountain District located in the northwest portion of Napa Valley above and behind St Helena is where today's wine originates from. Perry and Carolyn Butler who sold there computer business to jump head first in the wine business is another success story of the Napa Valley. 1998 was their first vintage with purchased grapes but fast forward to the year 2000 and they were able to harvest enough grapes off their own estate to produce 80 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon. Awards have followed and this team of wine aficionados from Salvadore and Oscar Renteria in the vineyards to winemaker Craig Maclean and  general manager Stephanie DeMasi, Perry and Carolyn must be beaming with pride!

You will notice on the label a pink bow symbolizing Juslyn Vineyards commitment to breast cancer research. 100% of the profits of these 150 cases will be donated to the Emma Jacobs Breast Cancer Foundation. These bottles are dedicated to the fighters and survivors of breast cancer. Many of you may know that I am a spouse of a survivor and people like CELLAR ANGELS and JUSLYN VINEYARDS hold a special place in my cellar and heart. With support and donations made by fine folks like these, may you or anyone you know never have to suffer as many women do. It's their determination and will to beat this terrible disease that I admire and applaud. Lend a helping hand and help them beat this horrible disease.

I absolutely  love the nose with its fresh strawberry, cherry, raspberry and cranberry notes. The fresh red berries are so pleasing. Hints of cloves and creamy vanilla with fresh rolled dough as the wine really opens up. I'll call this a sophisticated rose`!

The red berry aromas carry right through to the tasting of the wine. Strawberry, cherry a tad tart cranberry and red raspberry treat the palate. The flavors flow nicely and the finish is quite long and juicy. The wine is soft and elegant. A delicious rose` which I feel falls in the 90 point range.

Perry and Carolyn I am so glad this wine was featured on Cellar Angels and thank you for supporting Breast Cancer Research. Martin Cody another awesome wine showcased by Cellar Angels. Juslyn Vineyards has a new fan. I'll be making another purchase.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Loire Valley Wines Touraine: Setting The International Standard for Sauvignon Blanc on Tastelive

Kicking off my tasting week was the wines of Loire Valley on Tastelive with several of my fellow bloggers. Co-Hosts Ziggy The Wine gal and Tim Gaiser took us through 5 very different affordable wines showcasing Touraine the Centre Loire and its soil which sets the standard for Sauvignon Blanc.

Touraine is known as the Garden of France and one of the most popular tourist areas. It is here where you will find the standard set for Sauvignon Blanc, the grape is perfect for the ever changing climate. Fruity, tart and lively acidic are just some of the characteristics of these wines.

First wine of the night 2011 Jean Francois Merieau Hexagonals Sauvignon Blanc priced at $13.99. Nice floral nose with hints of sweet pear and pink grapefruit. Minerality in the mouth with some tropical fruit, citrus zest (lime/lemon). More fruit forward with loads of acidity. Great starter.

Up next the 2011 La Garreliere Le Blanc Sauvignon Blanc Touraine priced at $16.99. On the nose Dried herbal notes with allspice, pear and carmel, earthy tones, grapefruit and apple. The mouth is full of stone fruit, citrus, dried herbs, pear and grapefruit with lime notes. The herbs really give this wine an earthy character and I thought this would pair well with a mushroom dish.

Wine 3 is the 2011 Xavier Weisskopf Sauvignon du Touraine priced at $13.99. Here on the nose again the earthy forest floor with apricot, lemon/lime zest, pear and hints of grapefruit. Loads of lime and grapefruit with again a nice mineral finish. I believe my comment "limeade" was spot on.

Wine 4 the 2011 Domaine de la Charmoise Henry Marionnet Sauvignon Blanc Touraine priced at $13.99. Sweet pair, apricot, lime on the nose and a wonderful creamy soft start to the taste. Lemon citrus, grapefruit, stone fruit and mineral note. Zesty is a great description of this wine.

The final wine of the evening the 2011 Ricard Les Trois Chenes Touraine Blanc priced at $14.99. This wine was the fooler of the evening and the farthest from Sauv Blanc one could imagine. Ripe peach, apricot, tangerine, pineapple with a hint of vanilla. In the mouth I really had more pineapple and peach with a lemon citrus finish. If tasting blind I would have never guessed this to be a Sauv Blanc.

Ziggy, Tim, Cailyn and Joel thanks for treating my palate to some lively delicious wines. Affordable quality wines from the Loire Valley I highly recommend. So honored to be a part of tonight's great event.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

2010 Dutcher Crossing Costello Vineyard Alexander Valley Chardonnay

Opening tonight's wine takes me back to owner Deb Mathy and winemaker Kerry Damskey visiting Cedar Rapids and my favorite wine store First Avenue Wine House Its always a great time when these 2 visit from the beautiful views of Geyserville and Dutcher Crossing Winery

Deb treats you like family regardless if she is at an event pouring or greeting you at the winery with the help of Dutchess her Golden Lab. She and Kerry will take the time to discuss aromas, flavor and texture regardless of your wine knowledge. You love wine and they love to talk about it. Simple some of the best tasting juice should be enjoyed.

On the nose loads of fresh pear with warm apple pie notes. Lemon zest with creme brulee and soft oak aromas. Allowing the wine to open releases a wonderful baking spice and vanilla bean. Beautiful nose then and now. So glad I stuck this in the cellar for a year.

The mouth has tart green apple followed by the lemon citrus. Hints of pear with a definite oak influence but not overpowering. Carmel and vanilla cream round out this very balanced wine. Rich, elegant juice.

I spent a considerable amount of time chatting with Deb and Kerry and asked them each to sign a bottle I purchased. Deb the Chard and Kerry the Maple River Vineyard Zin which will be uncorked soon. You know Deb you're one of my favorites too. I enjoyed the wine a year ago and it might just be even better today!


Monday, September 2, 2013

Casillero del Diablo Reserva wines of Chile

Tonight's wines were media samples and categorized as value wines under $10. I have had multiple requests as to why I drink wines in the $25 plus range but never value wines. I would rate this evenings wines as decent if your looking to spend $8.00 on a bottle and looking for a Chilean experience.

First up was the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc  originated from the Casablanca, Limari and Rapel Valleys. I found a huge citrus nose and mouth. Lime and grapefruit with hints of tart green apple and pineapple. A little coastal feeling to it.

Up next the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon  from the Central Valley. Raspberry, blackberry with spice and cherry. Vanilla, plum and smoke notes. More berry on the mouth and I was a little disappointed with the absence of spice and oak which I am expecting in a Cab.

Final wine was the 2011 Merlot also from the Central Valley. Tons of plum, dark cherry hints of cocoa and vanilla. On the mouth cherry, raspberry and plum combine to make the wine very juicy with an oak spice finish.

I do like Chilean Wines and suggest you try these if your new to wine and Chile.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

2010 Inspiration Vineyards Chardonnay Russian River Valley Sonoma County Estate Reserve

Wine making is in the genes or in my own mind it must be. Jon Phillips owner/winemaker of Inspiration Vineyards who's family long ago owned vineyards in San Martin, is another success story in California's wine industry. A passion to do something he loved, a desire to succeed in his heart and make people feel is his story.

Flash back to 1999 as he and wife Barbara were producing wine for family and friends in their home. The first barrel Contra Costa Zinfandel which was a huge hit among them. Prior to this day Jon knew he wanted to to make wine and with the blessing of Barbara and her nudge to have Jon develop a business plan, well the rest is in the bottle.

Medals and accolades followed and now it was time to move the wine operation from home to a facility allowing them to sell commercially. 2001 saw the purchase of 6 acres in Sonoma County with an already planted vineyard of 4.5 acres. The dreaded process of obtaining permits and waiting period in 2002 they contracted with another facility in order to start producing their wines.

2003 the first release of 500 cases was both exciting and rewarding. Over the years the operation grew both in size and popularity with 2009 bringing a 2000 case production. To expand even further, 2010 brought a move to Pinecreek Business Park where along with many other wineries, a tasting room and winery facility was erected. Open for tastings and tours without an appointment Thursday through Monday 11am to 4:30 located at 3360 Coffey Lane, Suite E, Santa Rosa, CA 95403. Great wines and a wonderful story behind them.

Today's wine was a purchase and featured a couple weeks ago on Cellar Angels Check out the clip Video Clip Inspiration Vineyards  The nose on this chardonnay is so pleasing and takes me back to my younger days as the apple trees would blossom in grandmas backyard. Warm vanilla with hints of creamy butterscotch and lightly toasted oak. A faint hint of baking spice as the wine opens up. Soft elegant aromas makes this wine royal.

Wonderful mouth with ripe green apple, baking spice, a touch of sweet juicy pear, creamy vanilla and butterscotch. The wine is so crisp and the flavors last long into the taste. Beautifully balanced fruit and acidity. My first Inspiration Vineyards wine but definitely not my last. Jon I really enjoyed each glass and you will be interested that I paired this with margherita pizza topped with smoked chicken. Excellent pairing.

I rate this chardonnay A+. Stop by the tasting room and taste the award winning wines of Inspiration Vineyards.



Art & Wine: Napa Rhone Tasting With the North Coast Rhone Rangers

Art & Wine: Napa Rhone Tasting With the North Coast Rhone Rangers

Rhone Rangers - North Coast Chapter

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM (PDT)

Yountville, CA

Art & Wine: Napa Rhone Tasting With the North Coast Rhone...

Ticket Information

Ticket Type Sales End Price Fee Quantity
Rhone Ranger
Entry and tasting
Aug 27, 2013 $20.00 $0.00

Who's Going

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Event Details

The members of the North Coast Chapter of the Rhone Rangers are joining together to offer wine afficiandos a chance to taste Rhone wines from 15 wineries.
The event is from 3-7 p.m. at the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville.

Taste Through Rhone wines, Red, White, & Rosé

This is your chance to taste wines from a wide range of wineries, from veteran icons to new and emerging wineries that make very small productions and 100 case lots.
Wineries include: Anaba, Maclaren, Cornerstone, Two Shepherds, Meyer Family Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, Kale, Kieran Robinson, Wesley Ashely, Carica, Euclid, Truchard Vineyards, Petrichor, Donelan Family Wines and Campovida.
Taste multiple wines from 15 producers for less than the price of most Napa tasting rooms, $20 in advance. ($25 at the door.)
Please note: If you are a qualified member of the Trade (wine buyer for restaurant, retail) or Media (actively publishing writer or blog.) there is a seperate tasting available, please email

Enjoy Art, Cheese, Wine & More
Enjoy art on display from the Napa Valley Museum, sample cheese from Oxbow. Other artisans in the works.

Have a Date With The Devil
The tasting will be held in the Museum’s main gallery where visitors will be surrounded by Date with the Devil, a juried exhibition of new work by 19 regional artists based on the legend of Faust, the man who sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for riches, power, youth and wisdom. Date with the Devil reminds us that who we are is ultimately defined by the choices we make. Also on display are 26 devil-inspired prints by late Calistoga artist Earl Thollander. The History Gallery on the first floor will also be open free of charge. All galleries are free of charge. 

Have Fun, Compare, & Vote For Your Favorite
Similar to our smash hit Grenache Day and Rosé tastings - attendees get a clipboard of information with detailed notes on each wine, and walk around to interact with each winery. 
Attendees will have a chance to vote for their favorite wines. Help pick the top wine of the day!
Details on the event and wines willH be updated shortly.

Participating Wineries Include: (more detail to follow soon)
  •  Maclaren
  •  Cornerstone
  •  Two Shepherds
  •  Meyer Family Vineyards
  •  Ridge Vineyards
  •  Kale Wines
  •  Kieran Robinson
  •  Wesley Ashely
  •  Carica Wines
  •  Euclid
  •  Truchard Vineyards
  •  Petrichor
  •  Campovida
  • Anaba (new add!)
  • Donelan Family Wines (new add!)

Many Thanks to Our Host - Napa Valley Museum!

Wesley Ashley


Two Shepherds

Have questions about Art & Wine: Napa Rhone Tasting With

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Raza and Hera Vinho Verde Portgugal

A short hiatus from vino tasting due to some heavy work requirements we tasted a couple of nice Vinho Verde wines today....appropriate for our return of heat.

Vinho Verde is not a grape varietal. It means "green wine" meant to be enjoyed young and tends to have sparkling characteristics in each glass. Also the wine is lower alcohol and easy drinking. These wines originate from the Minho region in Portugal and I find them very refreshing.

Up first Raza and my favorite of the night. Aromas of lemon lime, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, orange peel. Tons of tropical citrus mist. Excellent nose. The mouth was full of lime, honeydew melon, grapefruit, nectarine and a lemon mineral finish. Love the little sparkling effect on these wines.

The Hera had much less going on with nectarine, lime, cantaloupe and orange peel on the nose. In the mouth I tasted the cantaloupe and lime with a nice straw mineral finish.

Always a treat when these quarterly samples arrive. Taste a glass or 2 of Vinho Verde today!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Inaugural Cellar Cast Broadcast

Well readers I finally fixed all the technical issues and we launched the first broadcast of Cellar Cast on Blogtalk Radio. Jitters and butterflies my heart raced as we were 10 minutes from show time. I talked about wine clubs and social media both of which excite this wino. As a social media consultant, I find others process/engagement very interesting and the pro's and con's on why they choose to interact with their customers. Virtual tastings which are great events and a perfect way for small producers to reach an audience and build their brand. Here is the link to the show:        Cellar Cast

Karen Troisi owner of Jean Edwards Cellars was my special guest. Karen and her husband produce premium Cabernet Sauvignon who believe "You should only make wine you love to drink." Actually I asked the question Why Cabernet and Karen informed me they love to drink great cabernet. Other varietals are enjoyed too but their love is definitely a nice rich full bodied red. What a perfect guest who loves to talk wine. I think you will agree. Please check out her website and join the mailing list to get the latest on wine they will release and your opportunity to purchase.

Special thanks to my wonderful friends Carrie and Randy Bowman owners of Napa Valley Wine and Cigar for their sponsorship. These 2 are great folks and have a wonderful knowledge of wines. The small production gems you find in their store are priceless. Don't forget about the primo cigars they carry!

After you listen to the show I would love the feedback. Ideas for topics on upcoming shows give us a hollar.


Monday, August 5, 2013

The Coach To Remember Amazon EBook Short Story

I always reserve this space for wine tasting so forgive me for being a little selfish trying to promote my first ebook short story "The Coach To Remember." The story is about a fun time in my childhood when playing baseball was all that mattered.

Many of my friends have read, provided feedback and enjoyed this short little story about a group of little league players who eventually became overachievers. Thank you for your kind words. Our coach, my dad believed you should learn to play the correct way....integrity, honor, fundamentals and fun. Each player regardless of ability should have the same opportunity to learn and participate. No one person was bigger than the other, we win or lose as a team. Maybe more coaches should be like him.

Looking at old pictures as I put the words together brought back a lot of emotions and memories. How simple and carefree life was at that time. I miss hearing my Dad's goofing daily calls even after a year and a half of him being gone. Cleaning out an old closet one day we ran across some of the pictures. We laughed for what seemed hours, lost endlessly in time. Writing this was my way I guess of keeping his memory alive. Even when I stop by the old park, I can hear his voice. One time I was standing at home plate as this little guy rolled up on his bike. He had his baseball bat, 2 gloves and an old ball. "Hey mister my dad had to stop and get a couple new bats for our team. I am supposed to pitch today. Can you warm me up?" Crouching behind home plate I offered words of encouragement "Not to hard, loosen that arm up before you start throwing heat." After about 15 minutes I said "Alright lets hear that glove pop." He stopped and looked at me so funny. "My dad says that same thing when I warm up." "So did mine." It was one of my former teammates youngest boys. How funny.

I would be honored and humbled if you purchase and read my first short story. Once your finished, please review it on Amazon so others can view how you enjoyed the story. Here is the link The Coach To Remember for only $0.99

Thank you and I hope you enjoy.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

2008 Terlato Family Vineyards Russian River Valley Chardonnay

Stopped in my local wine store First Avenue Wine House and scouring the shelves I found a Terlato Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2008. I actually was in there to purchase a couple birthday presents for the daughter but hey Dad could use some juice too. This bottle is pouring very nicely for a 2008, crisp yet creamy and worked well with my sauteed veggies over angel hair pasta. Shout out to my friend Traci for pointing it out. She is enjoying a well deserved Oregon wine country vacation as I write this post (checking out new wines to bring back to the shop).

Beautiful nose of warm sliced green apple pie with a nice baking spice. Hints of ground cinnamon and vanilla bean. As the wine opens fresh white peach treats the nose.

First sip is full of granny smith apple and creamy vanilla. Toasty oak notes with nectarine and white peach layered in between the apple/vanilla combination. The wine softened as it opened in the glass and as it warmed a little cinnamon on the finish. I thought it was better on day 2 after breathing. A lobster pairing with this wine would be delicious as well.

Great recommendation Traci. You will never go wrong when drinking California Russian River Valley juice.


Monday, July 15, 2013

2012 Passaggio Unmarked Probable Cause Sauvignon Blanc Lake County

Cindy Cosco nailed Sauvignon Blanc with her 2012 Unmarked Probable Cause offering from Lake County CA. Beautiful layers of fruit both on the nose and in the mouth. A winner of the Silver Medal in the San Francisco International Wine Competition, you will find a wine both smooth and elegant. I told Cindy this may be the finest Sauv Blanc I have tasted. It's selling fast so you better visit the website Passaggio Wine before the juice is gone. Even my novice wine drinking daughters loved it.

On the nose fresh pineapple and grapefruit with a beautiful blend of lemon grass. Tropical melon and lime citrus round out this crisp little devil. Excellent light straw color.

On the mouth tart grapefruit with fresh cut pineapple. Fresh squeezed lemon from start to finish with a nice splash of lime and melon. Powerful fruit yet a soft clean finish. Don't blink or the bottle will be gone.

Priced at $18 per bottle but if you join the Passionistas Wine Club you get each bottle for $14.40. A steal for this award winning juice. Now if you will excuse me my glass needs another splash!


Monday, July 8, 2013

Sleeping Bear Winery Bear Lake White Wine Michigan

I drove by the winery on I94 many times on my way to and from Ann Arbor Michigan but the winery was never open (my trip was always mornings before they opened). Moving child #2's personal items home I arrive to find she had stopped at this cute little Michigan Winery and purchased a couple bottles for Dad. Now I add Michigan to the lists of wine tasted by the Old Iowa Wino.

Bear Lake White Table Wine is a blend of  Chardonnay, Chardonell, and Seyval Blanc. Nice tropical nose with vanilla cream, pear, pineapple, tangerine with a hint of pine straw. Cute little sniffer.

Fresh pear and pineapple on the mouth with a lemon/granny smith apple finish. Served well chilled, the wine was a nice semi dry Midwest white. Definitely enjoyed my first ever Michigan juice.

Sleeping Bear Winery located at 2110 N Concord Rd, Albion, MI 49224 right off I94 you can't miss it. Daughter said it's a cute little stop and recommends to everyone passing by. Drink local and when in the state of wolverines Drink Michigan!


Saturday, July 6, 2013

2012 Stepping Stone By Conerstone White Rocks

White wine + hot weather + grill full of chicken = one happy wino! Today we sampled the 2012 Stepping Stone White Rocks North Coast wine from the folks at Cornerstone Cellars. One should always taste the wine while cooking to validate the pairing and always remember to leave some for dinner :). You know from many of my previous posts how much I enjoy these everyday sippers from Stepping Stone. Crisp, vibrant fruit which is versatile to serve with dinner or as a conversation juice with friends on the patio. The 2012 is just flat out delicious.

Your nose starts with cantaloupe and pineapple giving you a tropical sensation. Red delicious apples followed by honeydew melon and a hint of allspice. Picture yourself on the beach with the coastal breeze blowing in your face and this wine in your hand. I did too!

The first sip is full of fresh sliced pear and pineapple. Spiced apple sauce with the tropical melon notes and a nice finish of lemon zest complete the wine. Wonderful flow with the layers of fruit and spice. One of my daughters who is experimenting with the fermented grape juice said " I'll take the rest of the bottle thank you". Great wine Craig! We will take a truck load :) before it's all gone.

Cornerstone Cellars tasting room located in Yountville Napa Valley is a perfect place to kick back with friends and taste some excellent juice. Restaurants and shops nearby make for a perfect afternoon. Eat, sip, shop, Napa Wine as it should be.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

2012 Passaggio Rose' "Rose Colored Glasses" Napa Valley

Rose' a versatile wine not just for warm days but anytime. Tonight's wine from Cynthia Cosco winemaker/owner of Passaggio Wines was her 2012 Rose' from the beautiful Napa Valley . Created from 65% Carneros Merlot and 35% Napa Cabernet, the wine exhibits layers of fruit with a wonderful minerality on the finish. Big fan of Cindy's wines!

Ripe strawberry with fresh pomegranate treat the nose. Swirl some more the juice releases raspberry and cherry with a hint of fresh tea. Crisp and refreshing....time for a taste.

Love how the flavors flow naturally on the tongue and mouth. Strawberry and cherry followed by sun tea with a spritz of pomegranate. Hints of cranberry the more I sip. The finish is long and juicy with mineral notes. Complex and so refreshing! Well done Cindy!

Visit her website plus check out Cindy's blog Here to keep up on the latest Passaggio wine news and release information. Next time your looking for that friendly sipper think Rose....Passaggio Rose.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Kramer Vineyards Virtual Taste 2102 Rose of Carmine and 2009 Carmine Big Red

Always stoked when I have the opportunity to taste a new wine and tonight's were both special from Kramer Vineyards a 2012 Rose Of Carmine "Little Red" and the 2009 Carmine "Big Red". The event dubbed #TasteKramerWine on Twitter encompassed my friends from all across the country including the winemaker who answered many of our questions while we tasted/tweeted. These are super fun events and a great way to compare your thoughts with others and really see how different our palates react.

Carmine is a hybrid (yes I used the term don't shoot me) of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carignane originally developed as an alternative Cabernet in the California cool coast regions. Known as a late budder and ripener, these grapes offer wines which are intense in color, aroma and ample tannins. Name 2 states who plant a good amount of these grapes for wine production. If you answered Oregon and Michigan then treat yourself to a glass.

First up I tasted the 2012 Rose Of Carmine which offered a luscious strawberry nose sprinkled with peach notes and fresh cut rose pedals. Allowing the wine to open slightly more in the glass hints of watermelon and dried herbs. Aromatic rose we have here!

My buddy Dezel had to laugh when I commented I'm in "Rose' Heaven" after my first sip. The strawberry/watermelon is so juicy and lingers long while the peach and white pepper splash complete the wine. I love the layers of flavor and how well this grape works in a rose'. Pairing this wine with a nice bbq rib dinner would be awesome!

Next the big boy 2009 Carmine "Big Red". Excellent fruit aromas of blackberry, raspberry and plum. The spice notes are big (cloves, pepper, herbs) with a nice hint of vanilla and toasty oak. Absolutely pleasing to the nose!

Wow is the word when I tasted. Ripe fruit with raspberry, blackberry, plum and even cherry. The spice and vanilla greats your palate the longer you hold the juice in your mouth while the finish is elegant and somewhat silky. Little bit of tannin on the finish. I paired this wine with my porcupine meatballs slathered in marinara sauce and what a pairing. I believe our esteemed winemaker proclaimed "Carmine loves red sauce". I couldn't agree more. Dezel commented if this were a blind tasting he would have thought the wine was "Barbera". Mr Beau always has to one up all of us and said "This is the best carmine I have ever tasted". Little bias there as he is about to be family LOL.

Kim thanks for including me and introducing me to a grape I knew nothing about. Once again spoiled by your wines. Maybe the next virtual taste hashtag should be #alwaysdrinkkramerwine LOL. Folks make sure you check out Kramer Vineyards website including their story and wines which they produce. If you happen to visit Oregon wine country stop in for a visit......they will be more than happy to pour you a few glasses.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

2011 Garnet Vineyards Pinot Noir Monterey County

I was asked to participate in a Wednesday forum discussion lead by Bill Eyer aka Cuvee_Corner featuring winemaker Alison Crowe and her 2011 Garnet Vineyards Pinot Noir Monterey County. So honored because this is a very nice Pinot for under $20 ($15 to be exact).

Garnet is known for setting the standard, value and style for New World Pinot. Alison carefully nurtures the grapes from vine to bottle allowing the vineyard character to be front and center in each sip. Carefully selected small lots produce elegant affordable wines which taste well above their price point.

Big ripe cherry with cinnamon spice and a nice earthy mushroom. Vanilla bean with hints of faint toasted oak. Excellent combination of fruit and spice makes for an inviting nose.

I had 2 profound comments when tasting this wine "Best Damn Pinot Under $20" and "I'm in Heaven" The mouth is full of rich velvet cherry and creamy vanilla. A warm spice on the finish lingers long with the fruit. A touch of toasty oak completes the wine. Juicy and elegant....pour me another glass please!

Alison my thanks to you for the opportunity to participate in this tasting. Bill your a great host of #Winechat. Looking for quality juice then look no further than Garnet Vineyard Wines I guarantee you will love them.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

2011 Stepping Stone by Cornerstone North Coast Red Rocks

I have been tasting Cornerstone Wines for the last 4 years courtesy of Mr Camp, who I must thank for introducing me to this juice. Stepping Stone wines were created from the same barrels and vineyards as it's mother Cornerstone. Rather than age for many years, Red Rocks is meant to enjoy now with friends or paired with your favorite dish (as all Stepping Stone Wines). Each vintage has a different flair and character which is what I enjoy most. Tonight's wine doesn't disappoint!

Tons of jammy dark and red fruit. Blackberry, cherry, raspberry and strawberry with white pepper and wild violet notes. Very inviting nose with just the right touch of sassy.

Soft yet packing tons of fruit flavor. Juicy raspberry and cherry with a blackberry/strawberry blast. The finish lingers with the pepper spice bringing everything together. Let the wine sit in the glass and it opens to this beautiful silky elegant juice. This may just be the best Red Rocks vintage of all time!

Stop, sip and enjoy your own Stepping Stone by Cornerstone wines the next time you visit Napa and Sonoma. They are definite palate pleasers.