Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2013 Inspiration Vineyards Inspiracio Sonoma Valley

Tucked in beautiful Sonoma County on 6 acres in the Russian River Valley Appellation, we find Jon Phillips owner/winemaker of Inspiration Vineyards. I tasted a few of Jon's wines several years ago and have been a fan ever since. Very excited when this 2013 was offered on Cellar Angels a few months back giving me the opportunity to sip and give back.

The 2013 Inspiracio is a blend of 55% Marsanne, 18% Viognier and 27% Roussanne. Harvest started Sept 19. 2013 and completed Oct 15, 2013. The wine was fermented in stainless steel in 3 lots with Viognier being blended to achieve balance.Only 111 cases produced.

On the nose tart green apple with hints of apricot, tropical fruit and a burst of floral notes. Love the aromatics and freshness of the wine. The mouth is full of apple and apricot with a hint of the tropics. Refreshing citrus notes on the finish. My palate screamed more on each empty glass. I paired this wine with chicken stir fry as well as some Havarti cheese. What a pairing. Well done Jon. Fans of Rhone wines I highly recommend this gem.

Swing by the tasting room on your next visit to Santa Rosa located at 3360 Coffey Lane Suite E Santa Rosa open Friday-Sunday 11am to 4:30pm. Meet the winemaker who has a passion for pleasing your palate with his wines.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

2015 Peter Zemmer Rollhutt Pinot Noir

*Sample Received*

This wine tonight comes from Northern Italy's Alto Adige region which sits on the border of Austria and Switzerland. Harvested from the southern slopes of the Dolomites, the region is well suited for growing these aromatic grapes for the wine. The vineyards themselves are situated in the middle of the valley floor and the farming is all herbicide free. Organic fertilizer for these grape vines which is why you will find wild flowers, grass and clover growing in the vineyard.

The nose shows nicely with bright red cherry, red berry clusters and red currents with a hint of wild flowers. 70% of the wine was barrel aged 12 months in french oak after 2 gentle rackings, with the remaining 30% in small casks of french oak (barriques) which were 2-3 years old. The wine is blended, bottled then aged an additional 6 months before release.

The mouth is soft and elegant with the cherries, sour cranberries and currant spice. The flavors flow beautifully in the mouth. Ripe mature fruit. SRP $18 a nice price point for this wine. Cellar up to 8 years.

Thanks Jane for this solid sample of Italian Pinot Noir


Saturday, December 10, 2016

#GreenValleyWine Tweet up With Robert Larsen, Sedition, Camlow & Scherrer Wines

*Samples Received*

First this was a very fine tasting start to finish and so grateful to be chosen with such an esteemed line up of bloggers. Tonight's focus was on #GreenValleyWine. Located in Sonoma County specifically the southwestern corner of the Russian River Valley, it's one of the coolest appellations due to the close proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Varietals which thrive on this climate include chardonnay, pinot noir and syrah. The wines in our line up included the 2013 Sedition Chenoweth Vineyard Pinot Noir, a 2013 Camlow Magna Porcum (Big Pig) Vineyard Pinot Noir and finally a 2012 Scherrer Calypso Vineyard Syrah.

Up first we started with Sedition. Only 230 cases produced and aged 16 months in 33% new french oak. Made from 3 clones (Pommard, 667 and 828) the nose and mouth are rich and lush. Ripe cherry with a beautify earthy baking spice on the nose. The mouth is elegant with juicy cherry, cola and spice. The finish is long and juicy and I completely agree with the winemaker your glass begs for more. Absolute perfection!

Second wine of the evening was the Camlow Magna Porcum. 211 cases produced from 4 clones (Swan, Pommard, DRC & Calera) grown in the Big Pig Vineyard. Aged 15 months in new and used french oak barrels.I found loads of rich dark fruit and spice on the nose which screams drink me now. The mouth was both juicy and soft with the dark cherry and plumb with a long finish. Loved too the spice on the finish as this baby warmed me up. Another excellent over the top pinot!

Final wine of the evening was the Scherrer Syrah with a case production of just 67. The very small vineyard for these grapes are a tad higher in elevation and warmer which will give this wine a slight different profile year to year. The minute I pulled the cork the aromas raced from the glass. Blackberry, mocha, chocolate intertwined with floral notes and a peppery spice. The mouth big yet soft almost regal like with the dark rich fruit followed by a splash of red fruit leaving you craving more. The pepper spice gives the wine a sassy kick. I may have just tasted one of the best Syrah's produced.

Thanks to our owners and winemakers for treating us to this wonderful tasting this evening. Please visit their websites by clicking the links to purchase and taste these wines. I promise you will love them.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Martin Ray Winery Trio Part 1

*Samples Received*

It's been a while since I sat down and sipped the juice of Martin Ray Winery wines, and after tasting these fine white morsels it will not be that long again. Their philosophy to create artisan wines which "far outshine other bottles on the shelf," and in my opinion their price points in the "affordable I can buy this everyday" range definitely contributes to their popularity. Current owner Courtney Benham initially as a career farmer, one day found 1500 cases of Martin Ray library wines and promptly bought the label. Since then he has molded the business into his own vision and that continues today with winemakers Bill Batchelor and Lindsey Haughton.

Up first the 2015 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Price point $20, screw cap closure,  100% Sauv Blanc clocking in at 13.8% alch. The grapes for this wine were sourced from warm sunny vineyards in the central part of the valley along with those from cooler/foggy vineyards in the Green Valley. The results are a harmonious mix of tropical and citrus notes. The grapes are hand picked and whole clustered into the press. The nose is full of ripe apple, pear and tangerine notes with a splash of lime citrus and minerality. The mouth is crisp and refreshing with loads of tropical fruit and the finish has nice acidity. Found this wine very refreshing and pleasing. Paired with fresh white fish and oh so good.

Second wine was the 2015 Russian River Valley Rose Of Pinot Noir. For the record I love rose wine! Price point $20, screw cap closure, 100% Pinot Noir clocking in at 13.8% alch. Grapes for this wine are sourced in small amounts from all the premium RRV and Green Valley Vineyards to maximize complexity and bouquet. Produced in the saignee method, the ripe grapes were crushed into stainless steel and allowed to remain in contact with the skins 6-8 hours to maximize color and flavor. On the nose strawberry, watermelon with hints of orange zest and cherry. The mouth exhibits strawberry, watermelon, cherry and a hint of orange. Absolute palate pleaser and enjoyed with my wife (she loved it as well).

Final wine the 2015 Russian River Valley Chardonnay. price point $20, screw cap closure, 100% Russian River Chardonnay clocking in at 13.8%. Like the pinot grapes, the chardonnay grapes were also sourced from the premium vineyards throughout the region with long established relationship with the growers. A few of the grapes which contributed to this vintage comes from Bisordi, Mill Station and Dutton Ranch. The grapes are gently pressed, cold settled for 2 days then racked in 30% new french oak. Malolactic fermentaion adds a rich mouthfeel to the wines while still showcasing the beautiful floral aromas. Classic aromas of apple, pear and melon with wild flower notes and creamy vanilla. So aromatic. The mouth is rich with apple and pear followed by a creamy silky vanilla with a slight hint of oak on the finish. Another beautiful wine and this paired with an herb chicken dish.

When visiting wine country swing by their tasting room at 2191 Laguna Road in Santa Rosa Ca where you can taste or have a beautiful garden picnic. Either choice you can't go wrong.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

For the Love Of Australia Two Hands Wine on #Winestudio

*Samples Received*

What a treat in October as I participated once again on #winestudio with this series focusing on Two Hands Wine an Australian Winery. In all I had the pleasure of learning and tasting 5 different wines showcasing the Picture Series and Garden Series. Before we talk about the differences let me tell you first about Two Hands.

In September 1999 Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz decided at a friends engagement party that they would pool their resources and start making their own wine. Their original vision was to make the the best Shiraz -based wines from the very best regions and vineyards in Australia. That focus still exists today. "Quality without Compromise" and as Michael will tell you he has walked every vineyard and tasted every barrel of his wines to ensure the quality of his wines. That takes personally to all all new perspective. To have that much passion for perfection is why these wines are cherished around the world.

Earlier I said we tasted the Picture Series and the Garden Series. The Picture Series has inspiration and a take on pop culture. These wines are are meant to be fun and approachable. Think of what fun you will have telling your friends you are sipping "Sexy Beast, Gnarly Dudes or even Angels' Share" just to name a few. The Garden Series consists of top fruit from six of the absolute best Shiraz growing regions in Australia. These wines you will find showcase each regions soil, climate and unique vineyard profile. It was my pleasure to have sipped Bella's Garden and Lily's Garden.

Enjoyed the month speaking with winemaker Ben Perkins and a host of bloggers/winelovers across the country learning about Two Hands from bottle closure (screw cap and cork) to soil, climate and vineyard specifics. Also amazed at the daily tasting of the winery barrels to ensure quality and consistency.

We started with the Picture Series and me in particular went straight to Sexy Beast (no not the name my wife gave me). This Cabernet Sauvignon from the McLaren Vale Region was named for Ben Kingsley and his 2000 British crime scene role where he was named Sexy Beast. The nose was quite aromatic with rich plum, raspberry, a hint of dark cherry intertwined with dried herbs, earth and a faint dust nuance. The mouth was beautiful with the plum and dark cherry surrounded by a nice splash of raspberry along with spice and earthy tones. As the wine opens a lovely hint of dark chocolate. I found myself having a hard time letting go of this wine!

The second wine Gnarly Dudes (again not named for me but damn close) was 100% Shiraz from teh Barossa Valley and truly was named for the gnarly old vines which produce this tasty juice. The nose was full of lush blackberries and plum with hints of lavender, pepper spice and smoky cedar. The mouth nice ripe plum and blackberry with pepper and spice and cedar notes. Watch this open in the glass over the course of an hour and various intervals and you will be amazed at how the profile changes.

Final wine of the picture series was the Angels' Share named for those up above who watched over the wines and had a sip or two. This wine is 100% Shiraz from the McLaren Vale Appellation. Blueberries and plums oh my along with floral lavender notes and baking spice. Gave me the sensation of a warm baked pie! The mouth is rich with blueberry and plum followed by wild violets and black licorice. A hint of oak on the finish. Anything with blueberry makes me smile

On to the Garden Series and up first Lily's Garden named after Michael's daughter. The wine is 100% Shiraz from the McLaren Vale Vineyards. Loads of blueberry and plum on the nose with baking spice and a hint of smoke. The mouth was luscious with warm blueberries and plums. The spice complimented the fruit and the finish was so soft and elegant. I had opened this an hour before drinking reconnected day 2 and my how this wine opened up. My comment on the interaction on the program was "this wine is like a sweet innocent daughter" and my favorite of the wines tasted.

Finally I ended with Bella's Garden the more masculine of the wines. 100% Shiraz from Barossa Valley, Deeper notes in the aroma and on the palate. As soon as the cork is pulled a puff of smoke hits the nose. I also opened this an hour before sipping and upon the pour blackberries, floral notes, leather, dark chocolate and spice. The mouth is meaty with rich blackberry, choclate and spice with a kiss of floral herbs on the finish. The smoky oak nuances subside the longer you taste and allow the wine to open. This by far was the biggest wine of the 5.

Thanks #winestudio for another superb session of wine knowledge. A huge thanks to Tina, Ben, Michael for allowing me to sip and chat about Two Hands wines. Loved the wines and my first serious session on great Australian juice.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

2013 Passaggio New Generation Grenache Paso Robles

My friends chirp at me all the time about being spoiled drinking small production wine. All I can say is "guilty as charged!" Today we sip the 2013 Passaggio Wines Grenache. The grapes for this gem came from Paso Robles and really showcases Cindy's versatility as a winemaker. Give her great grapes and she will make great wine.

I've watched and sipped her wines for better that 9 years now and the growth of her brand is inspiring. From the early days of Crushpad, to the excitement of increased production at Dogpatch and now her own winery close to her tasting room in Sonoma (picture caption "I have to make a lot of wine to fill this place up"). Today, the smile is big and the popularity of her wines is ever increasing. Just recently her tasting room was full of fans tasting and purchasing some recent new release wines. The pick up parties are a gathering of old and new friends of Passaggio in an inviting warm tasting room. A must stop when in the Sonoma Square.

The first thing I notice is how light the color of this wine is in the glass. Aromas of raspberry, strawberry and cherry with a nice white pepper spice treat the nose. The flavors are soft and elegant with juicy cherry, raspberry and a nice tart cranberry. The white pepper spice is faint on the finish. An all around delicious wine from Cindy's portfolio and drinking so well right now. I would say this is a 90+ rated wine!

Purchase your very own bottles of Passaggio Wines online or by visiting the tasting room. Either way you are in for a real treat.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Dynamic Duo Concha Y Toro Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Carmenere and Sauvignon Blanc

*Samples received*

Always solid wines from this producer and tonight's offerings are no exception. We sipped the 2014 Carmenere from the Peumo Vineyard and the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc from the Ucuquer Vineyard. Both wines are grown near the rivers of Chile formed by the rushing meltwater of the snow on the peaks of the Andes Mountains. The result is rich soil perfect for growing grapes.

The Carmenere is my favorite for its rich aroma and equally elegant flavor. The nose showcases dark fruit with ripe blueberry with a hint of blackberry and plumb. A subtle pepper spice with a hint of earthiness round out the wine. The mouth is dominated by blueberry, cherry, blackberry, raspberry and plum followed by a hint of vanilla. A quick splash of pepper spice on the finish with ultra soft tannins. I could drink this all day.

The Sauvignon Blanc is another equally delicious wine. Loads of lime citrus and tropical grapefruit with hints of stone fruit. The mouth is vibrant with lime citrus and fresh squeezed grapefruit and tangerine.Crisp with a nice long juicy finish. I paired this with chicken on a bed of lime cilantro rice. Excellent pairing

These wines are ideal on the pocketbook yet flavor packed. If you like wines of Chile then these are a must.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

2014 Achaval Ferrer Malbec Mendoza Argentina on Winestudio

*Scholarship sample received*

Interesting to learn the wine making philosophy and techniques of other regions along with soil makeup and climate interaction with the vineyards. It was fast and furious tonight with questions coming from all directions. I learned that bud break was a couple weeks early which is very interesting considering the same thing has happened here as well. Do we have an overall climate change in the world? Maybe too early to tell but sure seems that way. I like many had heart failure when 2 weeks ago a heavy 2 day frost hit the region. Thankfully the vines were dormant or this would have been disastrous. I also learned they taste barrels daily up to 1100! Sign me up I'll help with the "breakfast of champions" task.

The wine has some very nice aromas of wild flowers, dark cherry and raspberry with hints of blackberry. Nice smoke and spice notes along with a dusting of cocoa compliments the fruit on this complex gem. The mouth is fantastic with the raspberry, cherry and plum fruit so juicy. A pepper spice with a nice oak influence provide balance into the long silky finish. Loving this Malbec tonight and it was even better night 2!!!!

Tune in Tuesday for another edition of wine education at it's finest #Winestudio and see what we are sipping and talking about this week.


A Trio Of Troon The Journey Continues

*Samples Received*

Back in July I posted my first tasting of Troon Wines  Troon Vineyards A New Journey Has Begun  where I gave a little history on the vineyard and winery. Today I wanted to focus on the wines but if you would like to read more about the winery and team, check out their new website  Troon Vineyard by clicking the link.

First wine was the 2013 Troon Blue Label Malbec, Rogue Valley with a SRP of $29. The fruit for this 216 case production wine originated in the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon from the Varner-Traul Vineyard in Talent as well as Troon's Vineyard. While the juice was fermented separately, the wine was then blended together and aged in oak barrels. A wonderful expression of both vineyards in aromatics and taste. The nose expresses the ripe fruit of raspberry, black cherries and blackberry enveloped by a rush of violets and herbs. As the wine continues to open in the glass spice notes, vanilla with a hint of plum appear. The mouth is beautifully layered with tart cherry, juicy raspberry and blackberry with an earthy/dusty nuance followed by toasted vanilla and herbal spice. Soft on the finish. Beautiful wine.

Second wine was the 2013 Troon Black Label MT Reserve co-fermented 55.67% malbec and 44.33% tannat with a SRP $50. Just 195 cases bottled the grapes were harvested in mid September of 2013. The winemaker comment "Co-fermented a unique blend of Malbec for it's intensity of fruit, and Tannat with powerful embracing tannins." When first pulling the cork and pouring my nose quickly picked up this beautiful floral, spicy and smokey aroma followed by rich cherry and raspberry with a hint of vanilla bean. Continuing to swirl a touch of mocha and dark chocolate make a quick drive by. Really nice layers and aromatics. I loved the mouth on this wine with its wild cherry, strawberry and raspberry complimented by the vanilla notes and a quick splash of allspice. This will age nicely in the bottle for several years.

The final wine tonight 2013 Troon Blue Label Estate Tannat Applegate Valley with a SRP $29. With just 213 cases produced, the fruit was harvested from the vineyard high above the Applegate River near the snowfields of the Siskiyous Mountains. Cool Pacific winds provide the perfect climate for these Southern Oregon Tannat vines and allow the fruit to perfectly ripen. On the nose big red and dark fruit notes with spicy undertones and forest floor. Reminded me of swirling wine among the morning dew in the vineyard. The mouth was very nice with black and red raspberry complimented by dark cherry giving you a jammy/chewy sensation. Spice and earthy notes on the elegant finish. I did take Joe Powers lead and tasted this wine with some smoked gouda cheese. Perfect combination.

The Applegate Valley is becoming very popular for wines produced in Southern Oregon. Planning a wine trip then a stop by Troon is a must. Nicely done Craig!


Monday, September 5, 2016

2015 CannonBall Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County Quick Sip

*Sample received*

I had to chuckle when receiving this sample because I wondered if they looked into my childhood when we would "cannonball" off the high dive to get the female lifeguards soaked. But Cannonball Wines is serious about their wines which they feel should be affordable and enjoyed by all. While they may not take themselves to serious, they do have a passion for spreading the word about their fun wines and you should always "share a splash" with friends. Now lets open and enjoy.

On the nose nectarine and grapefruit with a touch of floral and citrus rind. Definitely crisp on the nose. The mouth shows the acidic character of the wine. Loads of grapefruit, nectarine, pineapple, melon and lemon/lime with a clean finish. This wine will work well as a patio sipper. Remember to share a "splash" with a friend and then head for the diving board!


Winestudio Our Finale The Wines Of Marche and Umbria Castello Di Magione

*Wine Scholarship Samples*

As we participants bid farewell to the wines of Marche and Umbria, there were still facts to share and 3 amazing wines to drink from Umbria. Special thanks tonight to Fritz Winery and Giulia Luccioli for all the insight into the region and wines this evening. From the Order Of Malta to the history of the land and philosophy, I would love to now visit and ingrain myself with the culture. I always feel a sense of emptiness when our hour concludes.

The first wine was the 2013 Grechetto a crisp offering which is typically served as an apertif but I also see this as pairing well with a nice shrimp scampi. Excellent floral and mineral notes, tropical fruit along with lemon citrus making this start to the evening spectacular.

What Italian wine tasting would not be complete without this 2014 Sangiovese. The aromatics are beautiful with red fruit notes, a hint of spice and black tea. The mouth is luscious with sour cherry, strawberry with a hint of spice and dusty earth. Elegant juice. My absolute favorite of the night although all wines were very good. If someone told me I could have this wine everyday at every meal both hands would be up.....yes please.

The final wine of the evening the 2008 Morcinaia a blend of 40% Cabernet, 40% Merlot and 20% Sangiovese.The nose exhibits rich ripe dark fruit with currants and dried herbs.The mouth is soft with blackberries, plum, cherries with a hint of raspberry and well complimented by the currants and dried spice. Rich and so screamed for a nice pepper crusted grilled beef filet.

A trip to Italy is on my bucket list. A stop in Umbria and Marche is a must. Thank you Tina for this educational series and our guests Clay, Jonathan, Giulia for all your knowledge of the regions and especially the wines. I have a new love of Italy and you introduced me to some beautiful wines. Grazie!


Sunday, August 28, 2016

2014 Attune Wines Pinot Noir Rose Sonoma County

Something magical happens when you fall in love with small production wines. Once the nectar touches your lips the quest to find the next gem consumes you. I can tell you this is one of the reasons I look forward to the showcased wines on Cellar Angels but more importantly it allows me to Sip, Save, Donate. Many of these wines are not distributed outside their wine region so without the drive of Young Martin Cody and the rest of the "Angels," we would never know about these beauties. He found a great one in Attune Wines and their 2014 Pinot Noir Rose.

Attune was just a flat piece of land until the arrival of Mike and Nancy Scribner. Once discovered the property was transformed with the planting of Pinot Noir and the estate was taking shape. Along came Ken and Debbie Venner who loved wine and headed for their own quest in wine country. After meeting Mike and Nance they too joined the business. Notice the pattern here. Passion, love of wine it's a natural migration to wine country. Add winemaker Kenneth Juhasz and his obsession for Pinot (my kind of winemaker), along with David Povlak as managing director,  Attune produces "wines of perfect harmony and balance that honor their source and all those who have a hand in their creation" Jason Campbell Sales Director has been there since the first bottle was produced. Great group.

Let's pop the cork. From the moment you pour the wine the ripe fruit races from the glass. Loads of red fruit in cherries, raspberries and strawberries with a kiss of floral notes (fresh cut rose pedal and day lillies). The mouth is lively with the strawberry, raspberry and cherry fruit so juicy. Wonderful clean refreshing finish and when the glass was empty my palate screamed more! This is 100% pinot noir and aged 5 months in neutral oak barrels. Only 130 cases produced.

If you would like to taste these offerings in the future then click the Become and Angel link and enjoy exquisite wines delivered to your door all while donating to worthy causes. It's easy, it's free to sign up, it's rewarding.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Winestudio Presents Rio Maggio Discovering Italian Wines Of Marche

*Wine Scholarship Samples*

We continue tonight again with guest Jonathan Zeiger and the wines of Rio Maggio and Centanni. Don't let the bottles fool you thinking 2 wines were sweet dessert juice. Not at all but yes I was fooled prior to pulling the corks. More beautiful views from the region and impressive juice. I asked Jonathan how they keep the costs down while maintaining such high quality. "The region being still undiscovered, low land costs and artisan traditions that have carried on through generations." Affordable for all wine drinkers anytime.

We started the evening with the Rio Maggio Pecorino. The grape is native to Marche and shows nicely on the nose and in the mouth. Toasted almond, honey, melon with floral notes and lime citrus. Grab your favorite seafood dish and pair this wine.

We made our way to the Rio Maggio Rosso Piceno as the second wine of the evening with it's lush fruit and spice. Rich dark berries with plum, raspberry, oak/smoke and a big spicy finish to start but as you allow the wine to warm in the glass the tannins calm ( I found this to be very true on the last wine as well). Just a tad young maybe but would I love to taste this again in 5-10 yrs. How good would this be with a rustic stew!

With the event 3/4 done we moved to the final wine the Centanni  Rosso Piceno and a glass cork (so much easier to replace in the bottle should you not drink all the wine in one evening). You feel like a king sipping this wine with its deep dark cherry notes, intertwined splashes of ripe raspberry, a smokey richness along with hints of leather and tobacco. Mature when you first open but the longer it remains in the glass we move right to elegance. I believe as I saw some of the tweets flash by one of the comments "Ooh this is good" might just need to be incorporated in your write up LOL.

Sadly the night ended but next week we have 3 final wines as we taste out way through Marche and Umbria.
Join the convo and gain wine knowledge from one of the best educational series on social media!

As many of you already know Italy was hit with a massive earthquake in the very region we are tasting. So many deaths and unbelievable destruction. This weekend was a time for celebration with many families traveling to the area. Kudos to Mike Madaio for providing a link Undiscovered Italy where you can donate, cook Amatriciana and open a bottle of Central Italian Red and show your support. Please consider helping!


Monday, August 22, 2016

Undiscovered Italy on WineStudio Sipping Colli Ripani

*wine scholarship samples*

Jonathan Ziegler of ZRG Imports and Wines Of Marche talked to us about this undiscovered region of Italy.Rustic regions of rolling hills, olive groves, small intimate towns with green pastures and tree groves is what you will find on your visit.Colli Ripani was born out of a cooperative of farmers back in 1969 which has now grown to over 300 small local growers. Plots are small mostly 2-4 hectares but let me tell you these growers know everything about each of their vines.You will find this in the quality of their wines and the best part so inexpensive. Pair with a multitude of dishes from root veggie to coastal seafood dishes.

Each wine tonight was an adventure starting with the 2014 Trebbiano and it's wild floral notes and citrus bonanza. I loved that kiss of lemon on the finish. Moving to the Verdicchio there was more stone fruit and minerality notes throughout the taste with a hint of melon/grapefruit. Pair this with chicken or seafood. We finished with the Rupe Nero Rosso Piceno a blend of 50% Montepulciano and 50% Sangiovese. I smelled this wine and immediately started talking like the Godfather. Jammy plum with hints of cherry, earthy notes and black tea this wine screamed Italian. While robust in the beginning the tannins were soft on the finish. Naturally I paired with a rich meat sauce over angel hair pasta. Makes you want to jump on the first plane to visit the region.

A huge thank you to Tina and Jonathan for introducing me to these three "new" wines and I look forward to next week and more Italian gems.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Balletto Vineyards An Evening Sipping Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

*Samples Received

Imagine graduating high school, giving up playing sports to help support your family due to the death of a parent. What John Balletto accomplished from a small 5acre plot growing vegetables with his mother to a highly successful winery today is truly inspirational. Today, they have over 600 acres in the Russian River Valley harvesting 10% for their own wines and selling the remaining 90%. The grapes they do harvest are the top 10% and allow them to produce consistent and quality wines. The Balletto Family Vineyards  philosophy "Our goal is that you enjoy drinking our wines as much as we enjoy making them."

Up first the 2013 Balletto Chardonnay Cider Ridge Vineyard. The clones picked were a combination of Wente and Robert Young, whole cluster pressed and barrel fermented with no commercial yeast. The wine was then aged in the barrel 18 months to soften the acidity. The vineyard is located 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean with the vines on the west facing slopes. the conditions are perfect for growing Chardonnay. The aromas on this wine are exceptional with a blast of cream and tangerine followed by pear, wild flowers with a kiss of honey/ginger. The mouth is lively and refreshing with green apple, honeydew melon and grated ginger. Lovely layers of flavor and so soft on the finish with a nice touch of acidity. Nicely done!

Second wine was the 2014 Balletto Pinto Noir BCD Vineyard. The grapes for this wine were specifically harvested to showcase the unique qualities of the estate vineyard while maintaining the natural acidity and keeping alcohol levels low. Fermented with indigenous yeast in open top tanks, the wine was then aged in French Oak Barrels with small amounts of new oak used to enhance the wine. The end result is a wine with "depth, structure and finesse".  The vineyard is located on rolling hills leading up to the Coastal mountain range. Cold fog flowing from the Pacific Ocean blankets the vineyard providing an ideal climate. The aromas are wonderful and music to my nose. Cherry, earthiness with orange peel, violets and a healthy spice. The mouth is juicy and classic RRV Pinot with bright cherry, wild raspberry, cloves and earthy tones. Serious great pinot!

Headed to Santa Rosa then a stop by the Balletto Vineyards Tasting Room is in order. Located at 5700 Occidental Road and open 10am to 5pm daily. Swing by for your tasting of their award winning lineup.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

2014 Ceja Vineyards Bella Flor Rose Wine Sonoma Coast Sonoma County Quick Sip

Tonight's wine is the 2014 Ceja Vineyards Bella Flor Rose from my wine club shipment. The Latino family owned winery was the first I met as I discovered the world of wine. I have always held a special place in the cellar for their juice.

The nose is full of ripe red berries and fresh cut rose pedals with a hint of spice. The aromas are so pleasing with the fruit and floral notes.

The mouth is superb with tart cranberry and plum. As the wine warms in the glass the tartness is replaced by this wonderful hint of cream followed by a juicy crisp finish. The complexity of this cool climate rose is outstanding. I'll give the winemaker an A+.

If you are considering joining a wine club I highly recommend the Ceja Vineyards Wine Club where you have the choice 3, 6 or 12 bottles shipped 4 times per year. Ceja Vineyards winemaker Armando Ceja selects the wines for each shipment and can I say he never disappoints my palate. Sign up today and start receiving this premium wine at your doorstep.

Headed to wine country then make sure your itinerary includes a stop at the Ceja Vineyards Sonoma Wine Tasting Room located at 22989 Burndale Rd in Sonoma. Here you will learn about the family and story behind the wines plus sip some mighty fine juice. And if you are lucky these 2 beauties will be your guides to a great tasting experience.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

2015 Campesino Cellars Chiquis Grenache Blanc Sonoma Coast Ceja Farms Quick Sip

Another excellent purchase from Campesino Cellars and winemaker Macario Montoya. Our 100+ degree days called for a refreshing sip and this bottle was perfect. Love the label drawn by daughters Isa & Alina for mom Griselda. The flowers represent what they think of when hearing her name....special pretty and happy. Mom you should be so proud and Dad you as well.

The nose is a tropical delight with apple, lemon/lime, honeydew melon and cantaloupe. The fruit is crisp and fresh racing from the glass.

The mouth I'll call this on a scale of 1-10 10+++. Juicy pear and ripe melon treat the palate with a hint of citrus zest. The finish is long and I would agree with the winemaker definitely "mouthwatering". Nicely balanced and highly recommended to be in your glass. Well done Macario. I'm a fan of Grenache Blanc!

Grab your bottles before this vintage is all sold out. Click the Purchase Campesino Wine link and order yours today.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

2014 Passaggio Pinot Noir Hook Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands

I opened this purchase to celebrate with winemaker/owner Cynthia Cosco as she moved to the new winery location in Sonoma. Passaggio Wines born in 2007, has grown quickly in popularity and quantity. From the early white wine program to the over 12 varietals produced today, she captures the beauty of each vineyard and grape in every bottle.

The 2014 Hook Vineyard Pinot Noir shows a beautiful nose of ripe cherry and fresh sliced strawberries. Hints of rose pedals with a touch of damp forest. Simply beautiful.

The mouth superb with ripe red fruit. Fresh cherries, strawberries and raspberries with a hint of vanilla. A faint hint of spice on the elegant silky juicy finish. One of my top rated Pinots tasted this year! Nicely done Cindy.

Swing by the tasting room in the beautiful Sonoma Square to pick up your bottles of Pinot and be on the lookout for winery visits coming soon!


Sunday, July 10, 2016

2012 Bonneau Cabernet Sauvignon Moon Mountain District Caton Vineyards Sonoma County

*Sample Received*

Always a great discussion when John Bambury vintner of Bonneau Wines visits Cellars Of Sonoma for an evening on TV Tuesday Live. His insight into the winemaking process from vineyards to barrels is straight forward and to the point. There is no mediocre in his philosophy and he has perfected his wine making craft.

The Cabernet grapes for this wine were grown at the Caton Vineyards located in the Moon Mountain District. The vines were located on the eastern foothills of the Sonoma Valley in rocky clay soils with a southern exposure ideal for growing these grapes. The wine was aged 22 months fine french oak barrels.

The nose is intense aroma packed with dark fruit consisting of black raspberry and cherry. Hints of cocoa with cloves compliment the fruit. One thing I find with Johns wines is that I have just as much pleasure swirling and sniffing as I do tasting.

The mouth is luscious with the red and black raspberry so juicy followed by vanilla bean and coca powder. A slight hint of clove but faint. When I taste the fruit it takes me back to my younger days when my friend and I would harvest raspberry for his mother to make jam and pie. Funny thing those berries rarely made it back up the hill like this bottle which didn't last long either. The finish is soft, silky and elegant begging you to drink more. One excellent Cabernet John!

Thanks to Scott and the crew at Cellars for inviting me to this tasting series of boutique wines. Thank you John Bambury for sharing your wines with me. Always a great tasting with you and Scott.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Troon Vineyards A New Journey Has Begun For This Historic Winery

*Samples Received*

Imagine my surprise hearing Craig Camp was moving from the Napa Valley to the Applegate Valley AVA of Oregon. It was 6 years ago when he introduced me to the wines he represented but knowing him this new venture was an opportunity to showcase distinct wines from a new growing region.

Historic Troon Vineyards was first planted in 1972 by Dick Troon so as you can see the vineyard has been around for some time. The addition of winemaker Steve Hall (2014 his first full vintage) along with Craig the journey has begun. How these wines will evolve in the next year, two, five and ten is very exciting. Steve is moving toward a more natural wine making process. Craig comments "Our wines are almost all trodden by foot, fermented with indigenous yeasts and go through natural malolactic fermantations." He goes on to say that only small fermenters are used and no pumpovers just good old punch downs by hand. You will find these wines "clean, elegant and refined with bright, fresh fruit flavors."

First wine was the 2014 Blue Label Vermentino/Sauvignon Blanc Applegate Valley. This wine is 80% Vermentino and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Right out of the gate (no pun intended) lemon, pear, fresh sliced almond and some nice herb and floral notes. The mouth was a citrus blast with lemon curd, lime zest with dried herbs intertwined. The finish showed a touch of honey with a quick splash of orange peel. If you love citrus this crisp refresher is for you. Well done!

Second wine is the 2014 Longue Carabine Applegate Valley. Named after the rifle used by the pioneers who traveled across the country, this wine is a unique blend of 3 lots marsanne/viognier, vermentino/sauvignon blanc and a vermentino/muscat. On the nose ripe peach and apricot with a hint of coconut and chopped thyme. Mouth is full of juicy peach and apricot with a hint of ginger and herbs on the finish. A nice crisp hot summertime wine!.

Last up the 2014 Red Label Zinfandel Applegate Valley.  The nose is big with blackberry, cinnamon and dark chocolate aromas. The mouth is luscious  raspberry, dark berries with milk chocolate and a nice pepper spice. Classic Zinfandel and I paired this with my spaghetti/meat sauce. For a big aroma wine once allowed to open there was this subtle softness. Really nice Zin Craig!.

Keep this winery on the radar. Producing some very fine wines which will only get better!