Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2009 Ceja Vineyards Brut Sparkling Wine Napa Valley Carneros

Happy New Year! Apparently Ceja Vineyards is my go to sparkler for saying goodbye old and welcome new because another bottle was enjoyed saying hello 2013. I think you may have me hooked Amelia or the fact this was a great wine club selection and I had to buy more. My final bottle and a perfect night to open.

The wine is made from 2 of my favorite grapes 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir. Bubbles should be enjoyed anytime not just for celebrations. Offer this wine as a starter with your guests with light cheese and fruit platters. You will be popular trust me on this.

The nose has loads of lemon citrus, fresh apple a touch of vanilla along with spiced ginger. A crips nose tickler along with pleasing aromatics. I believe this sparkler became better with age.

The mouth is refreshing with apple, pear and a kiss of lemon on the finish. This wine is why I love sparklers! The only way this would taste better is if Amelia and Dalia were sipping with us.

If you're in Sonoma stop by the tasting room at 22989 Burndale Rd Sonoma on the same property as their sister business Carneros Brewing Company. If you would like these wines shipped to you direct click here Wine Club and sign up today.

May 2015 be prosperous, healthy and full of great wine.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

2013 Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

*Sample Received*

50 years ago the vision began and what is known as Rodney Strong Vineyards when Mr. Strong settled in Sonoma County. The passion to make exceptional wine is a key driving force among every winemaker. I am amazed with the notion many walk away from a career to start producing wine and the success they achieve.I raise a glass to you all.  In 2013 RS Vineyards was named Wine Enthusiast Winery Of The Year.Cheers to RS Vineyards Tom Klein, head winemaker Rick Sayre and the entire staff.

Tonight's wines come from the Sonoma Coast Appellation known for its cool climate and higher than average rainfall. The vineyards are above the fog line allowing the sun to fully ripen the fruit to ensure quality wines.

Up first the 2013 Pinot Noir. The nose is full of bright cherry, strawberry and hints of cranberry jam. Fresh cut pine needles with a hint of cloves. The mouth is very nice with tart cranberry and juicy strawberry and a little bing cherry. The finish is long and juicy. Classic Sonoma Coast character!

 Second wine was the 2013 Chardonnay. The nose is greeted with tropical pineapple, sweet pear and ripe apple. I love the vanilla creme aroma when the wine first pours along with a hint of baking spice. The mouth has loads of juicy apple and pear with a hint of lemon zest. A touch of pineapple and toasty vanilla round out the wine and enhance the long finish. This was a holiday favorite and I could drink it everyday. Well I could drink both of them everyday.

Stop by for a visit and taste at 11455 Old Redwood Highway Healdsburg from 10-5 daily. Schedule a tour or have a picnic in the relaxing atmosphere. Great times and great wines.


Friday, December 26, 2014

2012 Fields Family Wines Old Vine Zinfandel The Century Block Lodi

*Sample Received*

Fields Family Wines are small lot handcrafted gems which showcase the vineyards character. The relationship between winegrower and winemaker makes for the production of high quality wines with little intervention to the wine making process. Russ Fields owner has maintained the property as California Certified Organic Farming Certification.

The nose exhibits intense blackberry and dark cherry with hints of clove, fresh chopped herbs and white pepper. Inviting aromatics definitely perfectly harvested grapes.

The mouth is full of ripe juicy cherry, raspberry and blackberry with a touch of spice on the finish. Soft, silky elegant Zinfandel. The wine paired nicely with my pulled bbq pork sandwiches. Well done Fields Family Wines and great price point under $25.

Stop by the tasting room at 3803 E Woodbridge Rd Acampo CA open 11-5 Thursday to Monday. Enjoy a tour, picnic and even barrel tastings (which is a must if you want to see how wine evolves).


Monday, December 22, 2014

2013 Seta Nera Trebbiano D'Abruzzo Italian White Wine "Quik Sip"

The jury may be out on the red but the white wine from Seta Nera was a house favorite and below $15 per bottle at Lot 18. Tasty little beauty and you'll be singing Amore'.

The nose was full of tropical melon and crisp granny smith apple with hints of lime. The citrus explodes with each swirl from the glass.

The mouth is crisp and refreshing with the honeydew melon, fresh lime and juicy apple. Our evening conversation wine which went quickly.

Sign up for free and take advantage of all the great deals from Lot 18 by clicking the Free Sign Up link and start saving and sipping today. Remember $10 off your first order.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

2013 Seta Nera Montepulciano D'Abruzzo Italian Red "Quick Sip"

A Lot 18 purchase for under $15, I was a little unsure about the wine. Maybe it's more rustic than I am used to or the pairing wasn't quite right. Improved after it was open a few minutes.

The nose was dominated by plum with hints of raspberry and cherry. Earthy notes, vanilla bean and a dash of cocoa. Bold on the nose.

The mouth saw the plum and cherry with a little vanilla and cinnamon. I sipped while cooking and then paired with spaghetti and the sauce and wine seemed to clash. The wine was much better on its own. Jury is still out on this one.

Sign up for Lot 18's free membership by clicking the Free Sign Up and receive $10 off your first purchase. Great deals.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

2012 Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Stepping Stone Cuvee Artist Series

*Sample Received*

Cornerstone Oregon came to fruition as a result of the passion of Craig Camp (Cornerstone Cellars) to produce cool climate pinot noir and chardonnay. Created to drink young and very food friendly you will find these wines have an elegant personality now with the ability to age. What you will discover in tonight's wine is bright fruit, aromas found in classic pinot noir which please the senses and a mouth feel that is fruit forward.

2012 was a great year for fruit in Oregon with some saying a perfect growing year. Aged 14 months in french oak the vineyards selected for this offering were from regions in  Eola Hills, Chehalem Mountain, Ribbon Ridge and Yamhill Carlton. Screw cap closure and priced at $30, the wine delivers a great "pinot experience" without breaking the pocket book.

The nose is very nice with bright cherry and strawberry with spicy cloves. Continue to swirl and a hint of toasty vanilla with a slight earthy herbal tone. Wonderful aromatics.

The mouth is superb with the strawberry and cherry so juicy followed by cloves and a little cinnamon. The velvet silky finish is long and your palate craves more with each finished glass. Craig this may be the best vintage yet.

"Vineyard, Vintage and Variety" the expression in each bottle of Cornerstone Oregon and Cornerstone Cellars wines. Stop by the tasting room in Yountville for a sip or two. I think you'll agree these folks are producing delicious wines that are a must in your cellar.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

2012 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

*Sample Received*

Faust Cabernet Sauvignon created by Agustin Huneeeus who also owns Quintessa, is recognized as a leader in how wines are produced and marketed. With an entire career devoted to the wine business he believes that great vineyards make great wines. Impressive he has produced wine in 15 countries.

The fruit for this wine was hand picked and double sorted to ensure the utmost quality. 80% Cabernet, 16% Merlot, 2% Cab Franc and 2% Petit Verdot make up this big bold wine. The Cab came from Agustin's family vineyards in Rutherford and Coombsville with the other varietals harvested from vineyards in Atlas Peak, Mount Veeder, St. Helena and Oakknoll. The wine was aged for 19 months in french oak.

The nose is big with blackberry, dark cherry and plum fruit. Toasty oak, vanilla with hints of molasses and clove. Allow this wine to open in the glass and smell the rich elegant aromas. Really nice.

The mouth is full of layered dark fruit (blackberries, dark cherry, plums, blueberries) with a hint of red raspberry followed by cocoa, cloves,  a hint of tobacco and a faint hint of oak. Complex yet a long beautiful velvet finish. Great pairing with my shredded beef dish.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2013 Keith M Webster Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek Valley

Imagine your first wine created from your garage. Many winemakers across the country got their start this way and Keith M Webster Cellars is no exception. A trip to UC Davis and the wine production course, the move to California and presto a talented winemaker is born who produces balanced elegant wines with depth and character. Keith will tell you there is a journey in each glass which pleases the palate and senses.

The winemaker is meticulous when selecting the grapes from the vineyards knowing both the growers and the correct time to harvest. He tastes the fruit and examines it for perfection. Each vintage is only as good as the fruit from which it is derived. Exactly why I love small production handcrafted wines and Keith is producing some beautiful juice. Thanks to Cellar Angels for showcasing tonight's winemaker and allowing us non-Californians to purchase, discover and give back by donating to charity.

Spectacular nose full of ripe peach, fresh sliced apple and orange zest with hints of stone fruit. The citrus explodes from the glass and as the wine warms, a hint of fresh cut grass. I could swirl this wine all night but then what fun would that be.

The mouth is wonderful with the bright apple and peach fruit followed by a nice crisp tangerine. As the wine warms, a lemon zest spritz. Crisp and refreshing with a nice balance of acidity and fruit. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc Keith!

If you want to taste and meet the winemaker you will need to fill out the form found Here and he will get back with you on his availability. Did you know wine always tastes better with the winemaker present? Well worth the visit.

Consider becoming an Angel by signing up for free at Cellar Angels and allow them to introduce you to small boutique producers. Enjoy these hand-selected award winning artisan wines picked by Martin Cody himself while receiving exclusive pricing, an opportunity to select a charity to donate and receive $10 shipping right to your door or office. The videos are pretty cool too.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

2012 Luminous Hills Pinot Noir Estate Grown Oregon

I would have to say this was one of my favorite shop and sip meet the winemaker visits to my local wine shop 1st Avenue Wine House when Byron and Dana Dooley stopped in Cedar Rapids. They are the owners of Seven Of Hearts Winery where their motto "a special place, The pursuit of a dream, A little luck, And a lot of heart" is so true. They forgot down to earth loveable couple too.

Like many it was Byron and Dana's early tasting days while attending college in Oregon, that drove the passion you sip in every bottle today. As an added bonus Dana owns a successful chocolate business and we all know how fun chocolate and wine pairings events turn out! More so I gained a deep appreciation for who these two are as we talked about the wines, philosophy and life in general. As I said above there may not be a nicer couple in the wine business.

Luminous Hills Vineyard is the source of Byrons estate Pinot Noirs,  known for it's 2 distinct soil types Willakenzie sedimentary and Jory volcanic. The clones are Pommard and Dijon with yields kept to a minimum to ensure high quality fruit and wine. The character of the vineyard shines in each bottle and is captured perfectly. It all starts with amazing fruit.

The nose on this wine is luscious with ripe cherry, sliced strawberry with hints of fresh mint, dried herbs, cloves and cinnamon. Continue to swirl and layers of wild flowers and toasted vanilla add to the layers of fruit and spice. The aromatics on his wines..... amazing.

The mouth is pure elegance with the juicy cherry and strawberry with a hint of clove/mint. The finish is long, juicy and oh so silky smooth. An expression of perfect Pinot Noir. I purchased for somewhere in the $30-$40 range over a year ago. Well worth the price and more!

When in Oregon stop by the tasting room at 217 Main Street Carlton OR. Thursday - Monday 11-5. A tasting you won't want to pass up.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

2011 Harney Lane Old Vine Zinfandel Lizzy James Vineyard Lodi

*Sample Received*

Love. Laughter. Family. The three main ingredients in every Harney Lane bottle of wine. A proud family heritage of farming dating back to 1907. The family in 2006 developed their talents as winemakers. Each visitor that ventures by for a taste at Harney Lane is greeted by family and treated like one of their own. From Kathy "the matriarch" to Kyle the farmer and don't forget Ranger the beloved winery dog. I'm told he demands a lot of visitor attention and might just tucker you out playing a game of fetch. It's family wineries like these that I have so much respect for and enjoy tasting their wines.

Today's wine is the 2011 Lizzy James Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel. Handpicked  and hand sorted fruit, fermented in small lots and barrel aged you will find nothing but quality juice in these wines. A wise winemaker once said never put my wines in a decanter or run through an aerator. Always let them open up naturally in the glass and that's exactly what I did with this wine. The results are stunning with a first opened bottle yielding a powerful cinnamon, red currant and pepper aroma almost masking the fruit yet when you let the wine open just 5 minutes this beautiful bouquet of raspberry, blackberry and dark cherry released from the glass. Absolutely beautiful on the nose.

The mouth is bold yet subtle with raspberry, blackberry and pepper notes as you first taste while later on dark juicy cherry notes with currants and a nice long finish which warms the heart. Love that little kick of cinnamon on the finish which by the way was perfect on this cold Midwest night in front of the fireplace. My first bottle of Harney Lane and yes you have a new fan.

Next time you plan a trip to California wine country consider a visit to Lodi and a stop at Harney Lane!


Friday, November 28, 2014

2011 Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

*Sample Received*

By now Thanksgiving Day has passed and many bottles have as well. For our feast one of the wines opened was the 2011 Cornerstone Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir a perfect pairing with turkey. Aged 14 months this wine is 100% Willamette Valley with the grapes being harvested from Yamhill-Carlton, Eola-Amity, Dundee Hills, Chehalem Mountain and Ribbon Ridge.

The nose is lush with strawberries, wild violets and dark cherry. The spices of cinnamon, cloves and white pepper are soothing. Wonderful aromatics on this classic pinot.

The mouth is so good with juicy cherry and a slightly tart strawberry rubarb. Wonderful bright fruit followed by a hint of clove. The finish is elegant with soft tannins. Perfect pairing with the fresh herb poultry rub on the bird. The wine was a huge hit with this pinot lover and his guests. Well done Cornerstone!

I highly recommend on your next trip to Oregon you give Craig Camp a call and set up a tasting. Quality juice well worth the price plus they are great people!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

2013 Adelsheim Rose' Willamette Valley Oregon "Quick Sip"

Known as one of Oregon's founding wineries, Ginny and David Adelsheim shared a dream that one day Oregon could produce serious wines. I would say they have accomplished this dream. Tonight's wine was a purchase from 1st Avenue Wine House and one for my wife even though the weather outside is frigid.

The nose has loads of fresh strawberry and red raspberry. Creamy vanilla with a kiss of citrus. Crisp and refreshing. The mouth is full of ripe juicy strawberry and tart red raspberry. Nice balance of fruit and acidity. Well priced at $18.

The holidays are approaching and don't be afraid to serve your guests rose with turkey. A versatile wine and an excellent choice for guests.


Friday, November 14, 2014

2012 Campesino Pinot Noir Mis Ninas Los Carneros Sonoma

The release email from Campesino Cellars is always one of my favorites and gives me the opportunity to pick up some very nice wine from an outstanding producer Macario Montoya and his wife Griselda. Tonight's wine is another beauty and priced well at $38.

The grapes are harvested from the Green Acres Ranch owned by the Sangiacomo Family farmed by third generation brothers Michael and Steve. Located in Carneros overlapping the Sonoma Coast, the vineyard has both well drained soils and cool climate breeze which makes it perfect for growing pinot. I'm a huge fan of wines produced from grapes grown by the Sangiacomo Family as the winemakers in my opinion receive some of the best product available in the valley.

The nose is full of ripe fruit with fresh cherry, cranberry and sliced strawberry. Cloves with hints of dried eucalyptus and mint. Such an inviting elegant nose.

The mouth exhibits candied tart cranberry, juicy strawberry with hints of bright cherry. Perfect balance of cloves on the long toasty juicy finish. I'll add this to my list of favorite Pinot's. Nicely done Macario nicely done.

To purchase Campesino wine visit their wine page by clicking the link Buy Now and hurry before it's all sold out. Looking for boutique producers with sophisticated elegant wines then look no further and choose Campesino.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2011 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon White Label

Today's Quick Sip

*sample received*

I opened this wine very early because the plan over the next 5-7 years is to taste and watch the cabernet evolve. In reality you should lay it down and open in 5 years and then every year thereafter another bottle. Purchase a few and let them relax says this wino.

Cornerstone Cellars where their mission is to craft wines that are both exceptional and memorable is located in cosy Yountville California. A warm welcome awaits along with many shops and restaurants close by to make your tasting experience one to remember. The staff is so knowledgeable guiding you through your tasting experience and making sure you know the story behind the wines.

The nose is still young and green with big dried herbs and earthy notes. Raspberry, blackberry and plum fruit aromas dominate with hints of dark cherry. Slight hint of white pepper tickles the senses as the wine opens.

The mouth is layered with blackberry and plum surrounded by raspberry notes. I get the green herbs in the middle with sage, oregano and rosemary. A touch juicy on the end with raspberry but loads of tannins. I anticipate this wine will as many Cornerstone cabernets soften with age and show a beautiful complexity. Howell Mountain Cabs are age worthy showing a beautiful balance for big wines. Fire the grill up and pair with a nice juicy ribeye.

Stop by the tasting room in Yountville and sip a glass of this delectable cabernet. Tell Craig hello for me.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

2009 Kramer Vineyards Carmine Big Red Oregon

I first tasted a bottle back in mid 2013 and wanted to revisit the wine after allowing it to age over the past year. What I found after popping the cork was just amazing. Now for those of you who have heard little of the varietal, carmine is a hybrid of cabernet sauvignon, carignane and merlot. Ripe fruit with intense juicy character is what you will encounter with each savory sip.

The nose is still intense with blackberry and plum followed by an herbal/white pepper spice. As you swirl the herbs dissipate leaving this beautiful soft aroma of dark and red fruit. Blows me away.

The label says "Big Red" but the mouth says silky smooth. Red raspberry, cherry and plum with a slight hint of cloves. The finish is juicy and long but so soft with raspberry, vanilla and plum.

Celebrate 30+ years of grape growing in Oregon with Kramer Vineyards  and their amazing wines. Stop by the winery at 26830 Northwest Olson Road Gaston OR open daily 11-5.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Italian Wine Continued on Winestudio with Justin Gallen of Rinascimento Wine

The final night with Justin Gallen brought us 2 delicious wines in the GD Vajra Barbera and Barolo. The conversation this evening focused on growth, popularity and future of Justin and his journey. I enjoyed his comment he buys 3 bottles each time in case one is bad. Sound advice from an expert in the industry.

I started with the G.D Vajra 2011 Barbera. Born from the vineyards Fossati, San Pietro, Passau and Fontani where the soils are rich in white marl. This type of soil produces aromatic wild berry notes which are very delicate. We also find grapes from Piedicucche known for dark soil which gives the wine body and structure. From the Bricco Bertone Vineyard we find the character of deep dark fruit.

The nose on this wine is full of dark cherry, rose pedals, violets,  raspberry with hints of spice and leather. The mouth is so juicy with raspberry and cherry followed by  floral notes and a slight hint of spice and vanilla. Bright and elegant. Loved this wine.

Up next the 2009 G.D Vajra Barolo. The wine is crafted from 100% Nebbiolo grapes. While considered young by many in the group this evening this wine needs to open up well before drinking to fully appreciate it's quality. Beautiful aromas of red fruit, fresh cut pine needles giving the wine a woodsy character with cracked pepper. The mouth is wonderful with red raspberry and juicy plum. The woodsy character is still evident throughout the taste with a nice hint of peppery spice. Amazed at how this wine calmed after 40 minutes in the glass and became this silky elegant juice.

Justin thanks for letting us into your world of Italian wine and Rinascimento Wine Company. Protocol Wine thanks for including me in this wine education program. I had a blast.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WineStudio Rocks with Rinascimento Wine Company Italian Style

My first time participating on the ever popular wine education show #WineStudio. This month we are enjoying the wine knowledge of Justin Gallen Owner of Rinascimento Wine Company a fine wine brokerage. The 2 Italian wines chosen for this week are the 2013 Agricola Cirelli Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo and the 2010 Aglianico. What impresses me about Justin is his passion for bringing quality Italian wines to California, his knowledge of the landscape of Italy and his drive to success. You can listen to his interview by clicking the following link Justin Interview

So the first wine sipped tonight was the 2013 Agricola Cirelli Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo a nice little tasty wine. Produced from the grapes of Montepulciano the berries were harvested hand picked from young vineyards following the principle techniques of organic farming. The nose is bright and fresh with cherry cluster bursts, rose pedals, citrus and vanilla notes. Allow the wine to open and the cherry is replaces with strawberry creme. The mouth has nice acidity along with fresh strawberry and cherry with a soft vanilla and citrus finish.

Second wine of the discussion the 2010 Aglianico. Aged in steel and cement vats for up to 10 months then bottled as the wine aged naturally. The aroma changes dramatically from popping the cork till 30 minutes after opening. Dark fruit, black licorice, forest dew, floral notes with spicy pepper when first opened. Pour through an aerator and fresh red berries with anise and licorice are front and center. The mouth is lush with berries and spice with a good amount of tannins on the finish. My pairing for this wine would be a beef roast with a rich broth and root vegetables.

Great conversation this evening and even better wine. Stay tuned for next week.



Friday, September 12, 2014

2012 Rodney Strong Knotty Vines Zinfandel North Sonoma Sonomy County

*Sample Received*

Rodney Strong Vineyards  family owned,  committed to producing quality wines and protecting the environment. They are Sonoma County's first carbon neutral winery. Special year at the winery as they are celebrating 25 years Of Family Ownership.

The 2012 vintage was an early harvest with mother nature provided near perfect growing conditions. Warm and dry, little if any rain with zero storms or heat spikes and cool nights. The grapes were picked from the vineyards 16 days ahead of the prior year. The vineyards supplying the fruit for this offering come from the Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Dry Creek.

On the nose red raspberry with lush plum. Hints of blueberry, black pepper spice and cloves. As the wine warms toasty oak notes with a hint of fresh herbs. Solid!

The mouth exhibits fresh raspberry jam with subtle hints of blueberries and plums. Nice little spice of pepper and cloves compliment the fruit. The tannins are soft on the finish. I sipped this for #sonomachat on Wednesday and paired with country style barbeque pork ribs. Delicious.

If you are in the area check out the Events Page and see what's happening at the winery. Help them celebrate their 25th Anniversary and enjoy sipping their award winning wines. Give Robert and Rachel a big hello!


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

2010 Poggiotondo Rosso Toscano

Amore! Somebody please tell me why I don't drink more Italian wines. Affordable, delicious quality wines from regions rich in history and beautiful settings. This particular wine I purchased for under $25 and is a blend of 40% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot, and 30% Syrah.

The nose is full of rich dark cherry aromas with soft plum notes and and a kiss of spice. Red berry notes as you continue to swirl. Rich and ellegant.

The mouth is wonderful with the red fruit and soft tannins on this juicy wine. Ripe cherry and juicy plum with a faint hint of spice on the finish. Such an easy drinker! I paired with a nice big plate of spaghetti and it was an excellent pairing.


Friday, September 5, 2014

2011 Seven Of Hearts Gran Moraine Chardonnay

I finally broke out my last cellar selection of Seven Of Hearts Chardonnay and happens to be my signed bottle when Byron and Dana stopped by for a visit at First Avenue Wine House We poured this wine while relaxing on the back porch and both my wife and daughter are now fans of Byron's Chardonnay. She who I must obey has requested more bottles on hand. Great price point range $25-$29.

The nose is absolutely beautiful opening with a warm apple and cinnamon aroma. The next layer gives the wine a scent of the tropics with pineapple and peaches. Faint hint of sweet vanilla. So inviting to the nose. This is my 3rd bottle of this wine and it really improves each time.

The mouth is full of ripe crisp apple, pear and fresh sliced peaches. Excellent ripe fruit with a kiss of cinnamon spice. Allow the wine to warm a touch and the peach becomes dominant. Well balanced with the perfect amount of acidity. Pouring really well Byron!

I highly recommend all of the Seven of Hearts portfolio of wines and hope that when you are in Oregon you stop by the tasting room 217 West Main St Carlton OR. You will hear the passion Byron has for making wine and his philosophy. I could listen to him for hours and sip his wines everyday.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

2009 Ceja Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

I've had this bottle in the cellar for sometime as this was a wine club purchase and opened for #CabernetDay2014 celebrating Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ceja Vineyards was founded in 1999 by Amelia, Pedro, Armando and Martha Ceja. Today you will find many of the family members having key roles in the business and success. The vineyards they farm are located both in Sonoma and Napa providing the grapes for the multiple varietals the family produces.Special recipes created by Amelia and Dalia provide unique pairings with each varietal. I love to cook and enjoy making them along with my wine.

The nose shows nice dark fruit with rich blackberry, plum and dark cherry. Dried mint herbal notes and cloves with a hint of smoke. The aromas marry together nicely as the wine opens up.

The mouth is full of juicy blackberry, cherry, plum with a hint of raspberry. Cocoa and herbs with soft tannins on the finish. Very nice on day 2 as well with the fruit becoming more pronounced. Always one of my favorite Cabs to open and sip. For the first time I paired this wine with minestrone soup and it worked very well.

 If your a regular at the downtown Napa tasting room stop by early this month as the tasting room is moving near the family venture Carneros Brewing. Stay tuned for updates on their new winery being built. Its going to be beautiful and so customer friendly.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

2013 Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc Charlotte's Home Northern Sonoma

*Sample Received*

Old favorites never get old do they? One of my all time favorites is the Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp and lively with beautiful fruit and acidity. Harvested from vineyards in the Russian River Valley and Alexander Valley, the growing season was a perfect year. Dry,  frost free spring, warm summer absent of heat spikes which allowed the grapes to mature nicely and harvested between Aug 21st and Sept 17th.

The nose is full of bright tropical fruit. Pineapple, melon with lemon lime hints. Orange zest with cut ripe peach. Lovely refreshing scents and a real pleaser.

The mouth is crisp with pineapple, white peach, melon and tangerine. Lemon with lime zest and a little grassy note. Paired with shrimp and fresh squeezed lemon as well as enjoying by itself on this 100 degree day. Just what the wino ordered. My palate is smiling!

Stop by for a visit, tour and taste at 11455 Old Redwood Highway Healdsburg from 10-5 daily. Always an enjoyable experience and the staff goes above and beyond to ensure you have a memorable one.

Let's not forget to take a moment and keep the folks in Napa and Sonoma in your thoughts and prayers this evening. The pictures from the earthquake shows the devastation for both wine and non wine related business in the valley. It will be a long recovery and they could use all the help they can get.


Monday, August 18, 2014

A Trio Of Bila Haut

*Samples Received*

Purchased by Michael Chapoutier in 1999, this site was one of the first planted by Greek Mariners and has continuously produced top quality wines. Cotes du Roussilon is the area and the hill of the Agly Valley is where you will find 40 yr old vines producing the wines we enjoyed today.

I started with the Bila Haut Les Vignes Rose 2013. The nose was full of red berries (raspberry, strawberry, cherry) with hints of vanilla and rose pedals. The mouth was crisp and creamy. Strawberry, raspberry fruit with a creamy vanilla and floral mineral finish. Nice $13 Rose.

Second wine was the Bila Haut Les Vignes White 2013  a blend of Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Macabeo. The nose exhibits tropical fruit notes of pineapple, grapefruit, melon with hints if lime citrus. The mouth has a nice acidic balance which was perfect with my fish dish. Tropical fruits grapefruit, mandarin orange, melon and lime zest with a crisp minerality on the finish. Another inexpensive tasty wine for $13.

The final wine of the night is the 2012 Bila Haut Les Vignes Red a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. The 2008 and 2010 vintages were ranked in the top 100 in Wine Spectator. The nose is full of blackberry, plum, dark cherry and blueberry. Earthy with herbs and black pepper spice. The mouth is blackberry and plum dominant with a hint of sweet black cherry. Mocha and dark chocolate on the finish. $13 on this wine as well.

Great tasting of the french wines.

*Samples Received*


Saturday, August 9, 2014

2013 Gorgorito Verdejo Rueda Spain

*Sample Received*

Tonight's wine comes from Bodega Copaboca and is Spain's most popular white wine Rueda. Known for it's refreshing distinct flavor (herbs, minerality, acidity, crisp tropical and stone fruit). Widely accessible and versatile, you can pair this wine with light salads, seafood and pasta. Easy everyday drinker and priced at $7.

On the nose lemon citrus, grassy notes with aromas of gooseberry. The mouth exhibits grapefruit and lemon citrus notes with good acidity and length while showing a nice dry finish. Enjoyable little wine.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

2011 Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Black Label Stepping Stone Cuvee

*sample received*

On my journey to find that perfect bottle of juice I get to taste some pretty nice wines. Tonight's post is another beauty from the gang at Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Black Label Stepping Stone Cuvee. The wine is composed of 88% Cabernet and 12% Merlot. Priced at $45 per bottle I would recommend grabbing a few bottle and tasting them at various age intervals and watch this wine evolve. Definitely a very nice young wine today and pairs nicely with an amana ribeye.

The nose is full of ripe raspberry with deep black currant spices. Cocoa powder with a combination of dried spice (thyme, oregeno and rosemary) along with a touch of oak and plum. Pleasing aroma and love the layers of spice and fruit.

The mouth at times is both juicy and jammy. Juicy raspberry and rich plum treat the palate. Mid palate introduces the herbal notes and a hint of chocolate and where it tasted a little jammy which I loved. The finish is plum with a little tannin. Revisiting the wine over a 4 hour period I really enjoyed it's complexity and how the wine changed with the flavors marrying nicely and interchanging. Elegant with a little attitude.

Check out the Wine Club to have these wines delivered right to your door or make plans to stop by the tasting room at 6505 Washington St Yountville on your next wine country trip. Open 7 days a week 12pm to 6pm. Experience the beauty of Cornerstone Cellars Wines.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Home Wine Storage

I'm asked from time to time about home wine storage whether I prefer the quiet thermoelectric units or those with a compressor. I can say that both serve their purpose of keeping your wine collection properly stored but I tend to lean towards those with a compressor like the NewAir AWC-330E 33 bottle compressor wine cooler with digital temperature. Thermoelectrics are just fine it's the preference of the buyer.

The design of the AWC-330E is very user friendly. Sleek design which fits under your counter, in your home wine bar or kitchen. the unit is free standing and not a build in which is another huge plus. Your friends will be able to view the wine collection through the insulated smoked glass door with interior light to illuminate the bottles. The lock is another great feature to ensure if you have children the bottles remain safe. Big bonus stainless steel (everybody seems to want this now) with black accents. The digital temp control is very easy to use and the unit keeps the temp very consistent.

The one drawback is if you are a pinot and sparkling wine drinker then it will hold slightly less than 33 bottles. I have the same problem and because I receive so many bottles like these I have 2 units....1 for standard bottles and one for over sized. I'm not advocating you purchase two I merely want you to understand it will hold less.

I receive favorable feedback from wino's who have purchased as a result of a fewof my referrals:

Aaron K Columbia Missouri- Dan this by far is the best wine cooler I have owned. My wine is always safe and served at the correct temp. Thanks for the tip.

Sue B Des Moines Iowa- My husband bought the cooler for my birthday. I can't imaging how I lived without it. Thanks for telling me about Air N Water

Darren S Dallas Texas- Thanks for the tip on the cooler Dan. Love the look and performance. Now my wife and I go through twice as much wine.

You can save 20% by using the code Prime at checkout  though this direct link to Air N Water Save on coolers  and then click on coolers. Save big today from Dan's Cellar Sips.

*Cooler owner and advertiser for Air N Water


Friday, July 18, 2014

2012 Seven Of Hearts Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Oregon

Picked this beauty up when winemaker Byron Dooley and his wife Dana from Seven Of Hearts Wine stopped by for a meet and greet at my friends wine store First Avenue Wine House I had tasted Byron's wines prior to the visit and looked forward to chatting with him. By the way $20 for this wine is an absolute steal and if you find some buy it all. Yes the bottle is signed by the winemaker and will be added to my shrine.

The wine is a blend of all five Willamette Vineyards Eola-Amity Hills, Yamhill-Carlton District, Chehalem Mountains, Ribbon Ridge and Dundee Hills. Byron captures the character of each vineyard to create a wine with layers of complexity.

On the nose dried cherry, tart cranberry with hints of cinnamon and cloves. Mild earthy character with herbal notes and a touch of oak. Beautiful aromatics.

The mouth is full of ripe cherry and sliced strawberries. Cranberry with the earthy notes and barrel spice. The finish is long and juicy with touch of clove. The layers of fruit and spice compliment each other nicely. The wine is aging perfectly Byron.

Seven of Hearts - A special place, The pursuit of a dream, A little luck, And alot of heart. Stop by for a visit with Byron and Dana the next time your in town. Taste wines that are elegant with loads of character.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

2010 Ceja Vineyards Vino de Casa Red Wine Napa Valley

Tonight's wine is the latest club shipment from Ceja Vineyards their Vino de Casa Red Wine a blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah. Amelia Ceja President and matriarch of the family calls this juice "our breakfast, lunch and dinner wine." She is undoubtedly one of the hardest working women in the wine industry logging many miles promoting Ceja Vineyards and the Napa Valley. You can find her in the tasting room greeting and pouring tasting samples to customers who are treated as if they were family or preparing food to pair with the latest released wines when she is not traveling to industry events. Armando Ceja is in charge of both the vineyard and wine making at Ceja Vineyards. You will find his wines to be full of bright fruit which stay balanced and are very versatile with food pairings. Pedro Ceja better known as Amelia's husband and founder of Ceja Vineyards is the practical and analytical eye of the business. Dalia Ceja is Director of Marketing and Sales. She takes after her mother with an energy level and passion that rivals Amelia.

Wonderful aromatics on this wine with plum and black pepper spice followed by dark cherry. Earthy dusty soil notes with hints of cocoa powder. As the wine opens red raspberry fruit becomes apparent. Beautiful on the nose.

The mouth is plum dominant with dark cherry and cranberry. Creamy blueberry and chocolate  notes in the middle of the taste with a spicy pepper juicy finish. Love the layers of fruit and how well balanced the wine. I paired with pizza and then with spaghetti and marinara sauce night 2. So delicious Armando!

If you are looking for quality wine from a winery who believes wine should be shared with family and friends then choose Ceja Vineyards. To the Ceja Family Happy 13 years of producing award winning wines and I raise a glass to the next 13 years. I can't wait till the new winery is complete.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

David Pack's Napa CrossRoads A Collaboration Of Beautiful Wine Songs

I'm always looking for easy listening music and I'm really impressed with David Pack's Napa Crossroads a collaboration with Silver Oak, Far Niente, Pride Mountain Vineyards, Gargiulo Vineyards & Casa Piena. I can honestly say I've sipped the grape juice while listening and I love to play it in my car on the way to work.

David's quote "Wine is important to culture and civilization. It's used Biblically in sacraments and miracles and for me Napa Valley has been a source of infinite inspiration and wonder"

The lyrics in each song have a special meaning and there is an inspiration message in the words. A booklet inside takes an in depth look into each song and lyric giving background on the winery. I learned new facts about each winery and vineyard and how each song relates to it. Every song is awesome but my favorites include O' Blessed Vine, Full House Full Heart, Every Time I Look At You, April Born In May just to name a few.

The cover captures the beautiful Napa countryside as well as the cast involved in the creation both at work and play. Well done to each of the collaborators and especially you David. You have reinforced my love of Napa! Check out the link Napa CrossRoads to learn more and purchase your own copy. You won't be disappointed I promise. "Crossroads Bound" and happy listening.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

2010 Ousterhout Dry Creek Bradford Mountain Zinfandel Sonoma County

Drawn to the wine country and it's relaxing beauty, Dr Doug Ousterhout and his wife purchased their dream property in Healdsburg with 5 acres of planted vines. Meeting Micah Wirth winemaker was key as he and the good Dr. both shared a common passion for wines in Alexander Valley. The result is a portfolio of balanced and elegant wines from Ousterhout Wine and Vineyard

The nose is rich with dark cherry, raspberry, and plum fruit. Spicy currant, forest pine with dried herbal mint. Love the layered aromatics which are so pleasing to the nose.

The mouth is complex with a sophisticated elegance. Juicy dark cherry and spicy dark currant with jammy raspberry. Slight hint of pepper and clove. The finish is silky soft. Beautiful bottle of Zinfandel and pouring amazing Micah and Doug.

Carried in fine restaurants and shops link or direct from the Ousterhout Website Hurry before they sell out!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

2013 Campesino Chiquis Rose Sonoma Coast

A few years ago I was introduced to Campesino Cellars wines and I immediately became a huge fan. Every varietal and vintage is absolutely amazing and Macario Montoya has a gift for making wine. He owns the winery with his wife Griselda and  they are one of the nicest families in the valley.  I highly encourage you to join the mailing list so that you have the opportunity to purchase these wines before they are sold out and yes they do quickly. Tonight's Rose was a great deal at $16 per bottle and I took full advantage of the offer.

On the nose strawberry rhubarb, fresh sliced watermelon, and a subtle spice character. As the wine opens tropical citrus notes. Wonderful aromatics and pleasing to the nose.

The mouth is beautiful with tart rhubarb cobler, fresh raspberries, strawberries and juicy watermelon. Nice balance of fruit and acidity. The finish is long and juicy. Definitely a dry rose` but oh so good. My grandmother was the best at making strawberry rhubarb cobbler and the first sip reminded me so much of her dessert. Macario and Griselda the bottle went quickly :)

Order direct from the winery at the link provided above but don't wait too long or you will miss out. One of the best Rose` wines of the year.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

2011 Cornerstone Napa Valley Cabernet Franc, Black Label Stepping Stone Cuvée

*Sample Received*

Big fan of Cabernet Franc and tonight's wine from Cornerstone Cellars in beautiful Yountville. I love the area of the tasting room with the many shops and restaurants sprinkled in the relaxed atmosphere. The wines are not about statistics or points, but the vision of Jeff Keene, Michael Dragutsky and Craig Camp. Its about the vineyards and capturing the balance and character of each with every glass. Always a special time when a guest're treated like royalty.

Really nice nose with ripe cherry and raspberry. Floral notes of wild violets and lavender. Spice is dried herbs of rosemary and thyme. Beautiful layers of aromas and as you sniff you picture yourself on a bluff overlooking the vineyard with a crisp breeze in your face.

The red fruit really shines in the mouth. Raspberry and cherry intertwined with each sip. Wild violets, black tea with hints of blueberry and vanilla. The finish is so soft and silky. Complex yet elegant. Seriously great wine and a steal for $45.

A trip to wine country is an experience you will never forget. Tasting exceptional wines at Cornerstone Cellars is a must.

*Sample Received*