Sunday, April 27, 2014

Meet The winemaker Byron Dooley Of Seven Of Hearts Wine At First Avenue Wine House

Last Thursday I got to hang with the cool kids Byron and Dana Dooley of Seven Of Hearts Wine at my equally cool friend Traci's wine store 1st Avenue Wine House It was another meet and greet the winemaker and since I purchased a bottle a few weeks ago a big fan of Byron's wines and was really looking forward to meeting him. The weather was rainy so all the tastings were inside. I felt like we chatted for hours about his wine philosophy, vineyards and you could tell the passion he has for producing delicious wine.

We started with the 2011 Seven Of Hearts Gran Moraine Chardonnay. Really nice with apple, pear, melon, baking spice and creamy butterscotch. Well done! I loved this one so much it was a purchase and I had Byron sign the bottle.

The 2012 Seven of Hearts Viognier/Rousanne was an equally refreshing and delicious white wine this evening. Pineapple, pear, lime zest with hints of wildflower, honey and ginger. Crisp and clean with a little kick. I was immediately craving a spicy Asian dish to go with this wine.

The 2012 Seven Of Hearts Pinot Noir was the 3rd wine of the evening and a wine I have tasted the prior vintage. This wine is produced from all 5 of the Willamette Valley Vineyards and is classic Pinot Noir in my opinion. Ripe cherry and strawberry with an earthy character. Nice cinnamon, clove, cola notes with a hint of floral. Even a small hint of dark plum. Very nice flow to this wine and yes another purchase of the evening. Talking with Byron I was surprised you could lay this down for another 12 yrs. Byron while I believe you there is no way this tasty morsel will make it 12 years in my house without this wino pulling the cork :)

Up next the 2012 Estate Grown Luminous Hills Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir. Deep rich dark cherry flavor with a subtle hint of black licorice. Raspberry, cranberry and strawberry followed by cloves and earth. Dried herbs were present as well. Little more spice and richness to this pinot which I love. We talked about pairing this with my grilled pork loin with a pomegranate/cherry reduction sauce and suddenly I was extremely hungry.

The 5th wine of the evening and forgive me for not writing down the vintage was the Seven Of Hearts GSM a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. While a big wine I thought it showed some elegance. I would pair this with a nice beef dish. Blackberry, raspberry, some pomegranate and cherry with a wild violet note. Cloves, sweet vanilla, leather and smokey oak on this dark inky wine. Wonderful flow and I really enjoyed the layers of fruit and spice.

The last wine or what I thought was the last was the Seven Of Hearts Tradition Blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Cab Franc. Another rich wine with loads of dark fruit. Plum, blueberry, blackberry with smokey oak and spice. Another wine where the layers of fruit and spice compliment very well.

Finally Byron whips out this Pinot Noir Port which he does not make every year. All I will say is I need to buy some and talk about a blast of pinot in your mouth. Something about the warmth of port with the rush of of lush cherry. Oh how I want this to sip after dinner or sitting by my fireplace this winter.

Byron and Dana what a pleasure it was to meet you and chat about the wines of Seven Of Hearts. I could have spent the whole night listening. Thanks for signing the bottles Byron. They will become part of the "bottle shrine" in the near future.Traci you always put on a great event. Sorry the weather was rainy and dreary but the flow through the shop with the light snacks was tasty.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

An Evening With Deering Wine on TV Tuesday From Cellars Of Sonoma

*Samples received for the show*

The newest addition to the tasting room at Cellars Of Sonoma is Deering Wine with an award winning lineup. Scott is very particular when it comes to bringing in new wineries to the tasting room and I knew when he reached out for me to gather some friends to help taste, he was excited to tell everyone about Deering. Todd and Blair Maus owners were there to kick off the show along with Scott and the chirping bookends of Al Kaplan and Hans Dipple (the latter 2 were intent on taking over the show). By the way my "wine group" who I share wines like these with were all very complimentary and enjoyed the many sips offered to them. Scott informed me after the show that these wines have been a huge hit in the tasting room since there were introduced.

Up first the 2012 Camp 4 Vineyard Grenache Blanc Santa Barbara County. I'll admit I've never tasted a grenache blanc and knew little about the wine but boy am I a fan now. Green apple on the nose with kiwi fruit and a hint of allspice. In the mouth the green apple and kiwi are such a wonderful refreshing sensation then you get some allspice and juicy pear. Crisp and clean. If blind tasting you would guess this wine incorrectly I might add as an unoaked chardonnay (I'm just assuming). Beautiful nose, mouth and a steal at $27 per bottle for this small production gem.

The 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir was next and another hit with the tasters and yours truly (remember all those folks who referred to me as a pinot snob well they are in for a surprise). The nose is just awesome with red ripe cherry, fresh roses and rhubarb, a nice splash of cola with hints of black tea and forest. The wine evolved and took on it's own life the longer it remained in the glass and likewise on day 2. The mouth was classic with the rich cherry and tart rhubarb and followed with cola and tea notes. The earthy character was still present along with a pleasing wildflower accent. Quality Pinot Noir and priced at $50. Can you see the smile on my face yet?

Wine 3 was the 2010 Maus Vineyard Zinfandel and my #1 of the night (see I told you above). The nose is very nice with smoked blackberry and plum with a nice little white pepper spice. I also get some red berry nuances as I continue to swirl. The mouth was a fooler and honestly my first comment was "Are you sure this is Zinfandel?" The softness of this wine is downright amazing. Plum and blackberry with raspberry and pomegranate is just beautiful. The pepper spice warms the mouth and belly and the creamy caramel gives it the elegant feel. My wine friends felt the same way and chose this as the favorite.Best In Class Winner at the 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Priced at $42

Up next the 2010 Ideal Sonoma Valley Red Wine. A blend of cabernet, syrah, petite sirah and zinfandel with the blend percentage changing every year. On the nose plum, raspberry, blackberry with hints of dark cherry. Dried herbs of thyme, oregeno and rosemary along with floral notes. The mouth is rich with  juicy cherry, raspberry and plum. Violets and dried herbs with a hint of pepper. Nice flow to this wine and I anticipated a big chewy wine but again elegant and soft but with a little kick. I would love to pair this with a nice rustic veggie and beef roast dish. This wine was a Double Gold Winner and priced at $45.

Last wine of the evening the 2009 Nelligan Road Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Valley. On the nose dark cherry and plum with cinnamon clove spice. Hints of leather and green tea with the slightest smokey oak note. Very pleasing to the senses! The mouth blackberry, raspberry, dark plum with a nice juicy cherry flow from start to finish. The cinnamon spice is a very nice compliment to the fruit and I get an earthy character on the end. I craved a nice beef filet after tasting this excellent cabernet. Priced at $65 and well worth the money.

Many thanks to Blair and Todd Maus for introducing us to their wines and letting us hear their story and passion for winemaking. Special thanks to Mr Scott Jordan who includes me in these special tastings and expands my palate with these small production boutique wines. Hands down one of the best TV Tuesday tastings. Scott my wine group thanks you as well and asked when I will be ordering.

*Samples received for the show*


Sunday, April 20, 2014

2010 Pali Riviera Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Pali Wine Company Pinot Noir was a purchase on Lot 18 a few weeks ago. The winery located in Lompoc Ca was created in 2005 by Tim Perr and Scott Knight as both were passionate about producing small lots of artisan Pinot Noir.

On the nose ripe cherry and cranberry with a huge clove note. As I allowed the wine to open cinnamon spice and a hint of earth. There is this amazing level of richness with each sniff.

The mouth is full of dark cherry, tart cranberry and blackberry. The earthy cinnamon warms me and compliments the fruit perfectly. As I continue to taste the blackberry becomes more pronounced. Wonderful flavor and very appealing. $22 and well worth the money and a screw cap closure.

To sign up for great wine deals on Lot 18 click this link and start receiving these special wines.


Friday, April 18, 2014

2010 Wine By Joe Pinot Noir Oregon Winemaker Joe Dobbes

A real palate pleaser for a Pinot I purchased under $20 from winemaker/owner Joe Dobbes. Enjoyable easy drinker which has some nice character and flavor. Joe by the way is the sole owner of Dobbes Family Estate (Luxury Wines) and Wine By Joe (Really Good Wine).

Excellent nose of ripe cherry, raspberry with cinnamon and white pepper spice. I get some earthy tones as well when I allow the wine to sit and open in the glass.

The mouth is wonderful with cherry and strawberry both very juicy. Cola and pepper spice which really warms the mouth with a hint of cranberry on the finish. Tastes more like a $30 + Pinot. I'm headed back to the store for more of this hidden Oregon gem. Well done Joe!

 I enjoyed while helping whip up a sausage zitti bake and then paired with the dish.No problem sipping this wine everyday!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cornerstone Cellars Sauvignon Blanc vertical 09, 10, 11 Napa Valley

*Tonight's wines were samples received from the winery*

I can honestly say when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc I have never in my dreams ever considered allowing it to age. Like many my first thought is drink white wines young and let the reds age. Craig Camp of Cornerstone Cellars opened my eyes and I have a new found love for this grape. All 3 wines were paired with fresh crab cakes and creamy risotto drizzled lightly with fresh lemon juice and a dusting of parsley.

I started the evening off with the 2009 and all I can say is wow! On the nose a nice lemon/lime citrus with cantaloupe and fresh melon. Hints of creamy vanilla and grapefruit notes followed by minerals. There was this richness on the nose that carried over to the taste. Loads of lemon citrus and melon with rich creamy vanilla. Slight hint of grapefruit and mineral and the finish is lingering. Amazingly soft wine and I almost forgot I was drinking Sauvignon Blanc. The food pairing was superb with the creamy crab/risotto complimented by the richness of the wine.

The 2010 was equally nice with a bit more acidity and fruit. On the nose lemon, grapefruit with some white peach and orange zest. This one too had the stone fruit/mineral character but the fruit was bigger than the 09. The mouth was full of lemon, lemon and lemon citrus. White peach, creamy vanilla and the orange citrus along with more of the grapefruit notes. Mineral character on the finish which again lingered. Well balanced. The dish paired equally as well with this wine and more with the risotto seasoned with saffron. My palate is singing.

The 2011 was the green wine of the three and to me with the fresh cut grass notes and big huge grapefruit notes. Lemon citrus and melon. As I tasted this wine it was by far the more acidic of the group. The mouth was very citrus with lemon, melon and grapefruit. Would love to see how this wine softens over the next 2-3 years but was very good. Great with the crab cakes!

I'm convinced great Sauvignon Blanc can be laid down for a few years courtesy of Craig and Cornerstone Cellars. Quality wine making from these folks and I'm really impressed with all 3 wines this evening. Stop by their tasting room in beautiful Yountville next time your in the Napa Valley. First class hospitality and exquisite wines. What a great way to spend an afternoon. Craig as always thank you for treating me to these delicious gems.

Save on Travel To Napa

 *Tonight's wines were samples received from the winery*


Sunday, April 13, 2014

2012 King Estate Pinot Gris Signature Collection Oregon

It's been way to long since I've had King Estate wine in my cellar and after tonight's sipping it will always be in there. Pinot Gris has become one of my go to white wines along with Oregon varietals. A nice purchase from my local wine store for $16.99.

On the nose honeydew melon, cantaloupe, with fresh grated lime zest. Wild flowers and grapefruit notes with a kiss of honey. Nice little pleaser.

In the mouth lime and grapefruit dominate with a hint of tart apple. Peach and apricot with allspice in the middle finishing with the juicy grapefruit. Nice spring time sipper paired well with my fresh shrimp dish.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

2011 Ceja Vineyards Chardonnay Napa Valley Carneros

Springtime has finally arrived and I chose to celebrate with one of my favorite family wineries Ceja Vineyards. Sitting at the vineyard sipping the varietals while listening to Amelia tell her family history from those humble beginnings in Mexico to the success they enjoy today, you can easily see why they are so well respected. Each visitor is treated as one of the family, and you become an extension of the Ceja's where ever your home. The wines are elegant and reflect the region and vineyard where the grapes were born.

The moment I pulled the cork from the bottle there was a rush of sweet creamy vanilla racing from my glass. Ripe apple and pear with fresh chopped mint. Crisp citrus notes almost give the wine a tropical feel. Just a beautiful nose.

The mouth is creamy and rich yet full of ripe bright fruit. Sliced pear and green apple with hints of creamy vanilla and caramel followed by a citrus kick on the finish. I thought for a moment I was standing in the vineyards of carneros sipping while cooking a baked chicken/wild rice dish. Armando another vintage another beauty. Well done and an excellent wine club selection.

Check out Ceja Vineyards Tasting Salon and Art Gallery in downtown Napa on 1st Street. For those Giants fans did you know Ceja Wines are now poured at the ballpark? A great way to watch a baseball game. Family, wine and food Ceja style!