Sunday, June 25, 2017
My first thought as this juice danced around my mouth, "Am I in Pinot Heaven?" It's these small production gems that Cellar Angels unearth which makes me smile as a devoted "angel."
Waxwing Wines founded in 2006 by Scott Sisemore ironically during a period when he chose to be a stay at home Dad. He wanted to focus on small lot wines as well as favorite varietals Pinot Noir and Syrah from the beautiful Sonoma Coast. This was not Scott's first rodeo as he was already making wine for some highly respected California producers. He has even made wine in Chile and India. As you can guess yes the name of the wines has a direct correlation with the north american songbird who can be seen eating berries in spring or winter.
Grapes were harvested from the Lester Family Vineyards located just 2-3 miles from the Pacific at an elevation of 600 feet. Sandy, loamy soil (sand particles with clay and sediment which provides structure and fertile growing) greet these Pinot vines along with that cooling fog so key to cool climate wines. The vineyard has never seen a herbicide so kudos to vineyard manager Prudy Foxx.
The nose so exquisite with ripe red cherries and a bouquet of fresh cut roses followed by an attractive aromatic spice note. The mouth is so bright and juicy with inviting red fruit. Juicy cherries and raspberries with hints of spice and a touch of strawberry. Classic pinot character and I especially love the finish. If you love cherry and you love pinot then by the wino power vested in me buy this now! Well done winemaker.
Thanks Martin for finding this gem and allowing we angels to purchase. Scott you keep making these wines and I'll keep treating my palate.
Saturday, June 17, 2017
National Drink Rose Day a day devoted to drinking a wine that many think should only be sipped in hot months or on sweltering days. Wrong on all accounts. Your mentality should be "Rose Any Day Anytime" including cold holidays. Have you ever tasted rose with turkey or ham? How about with pork? Yes it's very versatile my friends and this one from Martin Ray Winery is one to grace your table. I'll bet you didn't know that when they moved the operation to the Russian River Valley the new home is one of the "oldest continually working wineries in California."
The 2016 Rose Of Pinot with it's price point of $25, is definitely a keeper. The grapes were harvested from vineyards in the RRV and Green Valley which coincides with the winemaking philosophy "wines of place." Both in aroma and palate you immediately sense the ripeness of the berries and how this fruit must have been harvested at the perfect time from some well kept vineyards. The wine is produced by the saignee method where the winery "bleeds" off the juice with limited contact with the skins. In this rose, the winery allows skin contact for 6-8 hrs which gives them the beautiful color and an abundance of flavor on each vintage. Once completed, the juice finds it's home in steel tanks where it's allowed to ferment until bottled.
The nose is inviting with red cherries, strawberry, a splash of fresh sliced melon with a hint of orange peel. The mouth is so crisp with red berries, strawberry rhubarb, hints of peach and melon giving this refresher an almost tropical feel. Love how the flavors intermingle as they roll across the palate and keeps you filling the glass with more juice!
Swing by for a tasting, tour or even a picnic with friends by booking a reservation HERE. A place where you and your friends will enjoy.
Monday, May 29, 2017
Located in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County, this small production boutique winery is a hidden gem. I was introduced to Viszlay Vineyards through my affiliation with Cellar Angels. The winery produces these small lot estate wines with grapes harvested from their 10 acres of vineyards. Varietals grown on the property include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir (yes after this blend I can only imagine how good their pinot is), Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Alicante Bouschet and Prosecco which is the only vineyard in Sonoma County growing this grape.
Not a large operation by any means, you will find owner John Viszlay wearing the hat of wine maker and winery operations head honcho. Son Tony handles the marketing and finance aspect of the business. I can tell you both you brought a smile to my face as soon as I tasted this beauty.
The mouth is silky and juicy with cherry showing off throughout the taste. Plenty of dark ripe fruit with each sip but the cherry makes another appearance so you don't forget about her. The spicy currants with a slight kiss of creamy vanilla lead to a long soft finish. I tasted this at various stages over the course of 5 hours and it was tight when first opened but with each passing hour it reached a point where my only thought was WOW. I have a second bottle to let age for another 5 years and can only imagine how good this will be.
Tasting at Viszlay Vineyards is by appointment only and I highly recommend making one. This my friends is some special juice. Don't miss another opportunity like this and sign up to become an Angel on Cellar Angels. It's free so don't wait.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
*samples provided & recipe*
Its always fun to help celebrate milestones with wineries but even better when the fun lasts all year. Happy 90th Pedroncelli Wines and to many more. Tonight's festivities included tasters from the east coast, midwest, south midwest and west coast. Ed you need to stop inviting Thea....she tries to show off LOL
The family has farmed for 90 years in the Dry Creek Valley with many generations learning the family craft. They take things a step farther preserving the land for their future generations. Yes you guessed correctly sustainable farming.
It all began back in 1927 with the purchase of 25 acres planted on a hillside outside of Geyserville. In 1934 the family applies for a winemaking license and starts selling wine to stores and families. Think about a bottle today and tell me if you would trade by going back in time, driving up to the winery, and filling a gallon bottle for $0.45. Pick me pick me. Then in 1949 the first Zinfandel is bottled under the Pedroncelli label. In 1954 they were one of the first wineries to use the Sonoma County Appelation. Over the next several years more varietals are produced, more acres purchased and the sons purchase the winery and begin their journey. We will continue this section on our next post.
We started the evening off cooking the recipe provided Feta and Kalamata Lemon Chicken paired with the first wine of the evening Pedroncelli Eastside Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. I on the other hand became wrapped up in the wines and burnt the dish. I remade the following evening (still not my best effort) and thought the wine worked really well. The melon complimented the lemon and feta on the chicken nicely even on day 2.
Up first was the 2016 Eastside Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. Pressed, cold soaked and fermented in stainless steel and bottled shortly after harvest to showcase the fruit of the vineyard. Bright and crisp the succulent melon intertwines with a subtle tart grapefruit and lemongrass. You had me at melon my friends.
I was honored to taste and help celebrate with a group of tasters who are rockstars in wine. Ed and Robert thank you for including me in this stellar tasting. Folks check out all the twitter chatter at #ped90th and enjoy.
Sunday, April 30, 2017
This wine club shipment of the 2010 Ceja Vineyards Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast sat in the cellar awhile winelaxing until just the right time to pop the cork. One of my first winery visits to Napa (yes another is planned this fall) and a personal tasting in their home I could not help but fall in love with their wines. I have watched them grow their success over the years and have remained a loyal fan.
I admire this family for their humble beginnings but big dreams of making a life in America. Starting in the vineyards and cellars and eventually to purchasing land, growing grapes and today making ultra premium wine. Their children are part of the business and what a wonderful opportunity for them. Passion, working hard, desire to succeed and values are how I would describe this family of wine.
The 2010 is showing nicely on the nose with these beautiful earthy notes racing from the glass. As you swirl, fresh mixed berry notes of strawberry, cherry, raspberry, plum and blackberry. Once the fruit is released a nice cola and herb finish treats your senses.
The mouth is rich and elegant with the dark fruit dancing across your palate and dominate, but there is that splash of red fruit for balance. On the finish the dried herb/cola spice compliments this pinot perfectly. At first it appears as this big pinot but the longer this remains in your mouth the softer and more beautiful she becomes. Muy hermosa Ceja's!
I encourage you to try any of the multiple Ceja varietals today. I think you will agree the wines will be inviting and delicious.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
I bought this wine a few years ago and just found it buried in the cellar. A fan of Cindy's wines since I was first introduced to them a little over 10 years ago. The name of her label Passaggio means passage way in Italian and falls in line with her roots and family winemaking.
The 2014 Passaggio Unoaked Chardonnay was fermented and aged in 100% stainless steel. The nose shows nicely with fresh sliced apple, pear, lemon citrus and white floral notes. The mouth is very fruit forward with tart pear and apple followed by lemon citrus. The finish is crisp and begs you to drink more.
Visit Cindy at her tasting room located at 25 East Napa St Suite C in Sonoma. A huge congratulations are in order as she has now also moved into her own production facility a testament to her continued success. Swing by for a sip.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
First Avenue Wine House and it just happened to be open for tasting. This happens a lot on the weekends and so fun to stop in and get harassed (maybe I might add fuel to the fire) and taste what Traci has pulled for her customers to sip and buy. Not a huge Zin fan but when I find some like this Michael Pozzan Winery I become one very quickly.
The 2013 is a single vineyard production with grapes harvested from the vineyard located in Oakville next to the home of Michael and Mary Ann Pozzan and aged 18 months in French and American Oak.
The nose shows a nice rich red raspberry aroma with hints of vanilla bean and an accent of black pepper with a puff of smokey oak. The mouth is lush and elegant with the juicy raspberry and combination of caramel/vanilla creme followed by the slightest hint of pepper and oak. The finish is long and seductive. I paired this with slow cooked pork loin and a slam dunk. A keeper for sure.
Saturday, March 11, 2017
A wonderful 3 bottle tasting of Davis Bynum Wines consisting of the 2015 Virginia's Block Sauvignon Blanc, the 2014 River West Vineyard Chardonnay and finally the 2014 Jane's Vineyard Pinot Noir. First though a little background on the winery.
Going back to 1951, Davis Bynum started experimenting making wine at home with his first 2 batches drinking very well to his amazement. Fast forward to 1973 (there were many more gallons produced during the time span for friends and family), for the first time a single vineyard Pinot Noir was ever produced in the Sonoma County Russian River Valley. He knew back then what we all know today, the climate and soil are perfect for growing one of the most delicate grapes in winemaking. Today, while Mr. Bynum has retired from the day to day grind of winemaking, his vision for quality lives on. The philosophy is simple the wines "should be shaped by the land from which they come."
Up first the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc price point $25. The 5 acres from which these grapes are grown and harvested is named after Mr Bynum's wife Virginia. Whole cluster pressed and fermented with natural yeast in french oak and stainless steel and aged 4 months. Loads of tropical fruit with complimenting peach, grapefruit, lemon zest on the nose with the palate showing grapefruit, white peach and juicy lemon long into the finish. Crisp and clean I paired this wine with panko breaded white fish and the pairing was spot on. A really nice wine.
Second wine is the 2014 Chardonnay with a price point of $25. The grapes for this wine come from the River West Vineyard consisting of eighty seven acres of 6 different clones. 100% malolactic fermentation and aged 10 months in french oak. From the moment you pour the wine the baking spice races from the glass with warm apple and pear with hints of fresh cut daiseys. The mouth is rich and creamy with apple, pear and vanilla creme. Well done elegant chardonnay.
Finally the 2014 Pinot Noir with a price point of $35. The grapes from Jane's Vineyard were hand picked, de-stemmed and cold soaked in steel tanks. The wine was aged 10 months in french oak. The nose is classic RRV Pinot with cherry, spice and earthy tones. The mouth is full of ripe cherry, tart cranberry, warm spice and earthy forest. I'm a pinot fan and this is a keeper.
Swing by your local wine store or if in the RRV swing by the winery for a taste. 3 solid delicious wines
Saturday, January 28, 2017
All sorts of excitement when Robert Larsen owner of the highly regarded pr firm The Larsen Projekt came calling asking ( I keep telling him don't ask just tell me you're going to do this lol) if I would be interested in joining a tweet up featuring Pedroncelli Wines 90th Celebration and a dish (Parmesan Polenta with Sausage Ragu) paired with their Mother Clone Zinfandel. For those who know me you 1. Know I love to cook and 2. Drink wine with just about any dish. I would be honored was my answer but all of you knew that already from the title of the post.
The Pedroncelli Family has been growing grapes in the Dry Creek Valley since 1927 and making wine since 1934. Over the years the acres expanded with additional purchased land which then led to expanded winery operations and a creation of varietals that everyone could enjoy. Today it's still a family winery with 2nd and 3rd and now 4th Generation family members working side by side to ensure the best possible wine is produced and the family legacy lives on.
The family farms 105 acres of vineyards in Dry Creek Valley and then has sought out growers in their region for additional grapes. These vineyards also share the Pedroncelli beliefs that the grapes need to be "perfectly balanced and varietally correct." Wines are created to be shared with friends and family as well paired with your favorite dish. What I really enjoy in these wines is the versatility of sipping for enjoyment or paired with food the results are dead even....so good.
First wine while cooking was the 2015 Chardonnay Sonoma County Dry Creek Valley. The grapes were sourced from 3 vineyards in the southern end of Dry Creek Valley and picking was completed over 10 days. 89% of the wine was fermented in stainless steel highlighting the fruit flavors while the remainder in American oak for 6 months and then blended giving the wine it's creamy character. The nose is refreshing with tangerine, lemon, hints of peach and a refreshing floral note. The citrus fills my mouth followed by tart apple, peach, juicy lemon and a hint of tropical fruit. Crisp, clean and your glass begs to be refilled. Lovely chardonnay.
Second wine was the 2014 Mother Clone Zinfandel Sonoma County Dry Creek Valley along with our signature dish Parmesan Polenta with Sausage Ragu. The original Zinfandel vines are located on the hills surrounding the winery which is part of the property originally purchased in 1927 by John Sr. Some of the grapes used were from these 100 yr old vines with other fruit harvested from Home Ranch, Bushnell and Buchignani Vineyards. The wine is aged 12 months in American oak with a touch of petite sirah added for color and structure. Loads of dark fruit on the nose with plum, blackberry and blueberry with hints of baking spice and wild violets. The mouth is is all about the fruit and spice with blackberry, blueberry and plum with a pepper spice and a touch of smoke and vanilla. Opened nicely the longer it sat in the glass. When paired with the dish the fruit was pulled from the wine and the spice and alcohol were absent. Outstanding!
The final wine of the evening the 2014 Petite Sirah Sonoma County Dry Creek Valley. Some of the grapes were harvested from vines planted on the property in the 1900's with the remainder harvested from the Bushnell Vineyard. The fruit was crushed in stainless steel with multiple pump overs to enhance the flavor of the wine. Aged for 12 months in new oak (about 1/3) with the remaining in seasoned barrels. Zinfandel was also added for enhancing the fruit in this wine. The nose was full of plum, toasty oak and vanilla with hints of pepper. The mouth was robust with blackberry and plum followed by a pepper spice. Dark chocolate and mocha notes compliment a long warm finish. I also paired this with the dish and it worked equally well.
If your in the Dry Creek Valley swing by their Tasting Room for a taste and a bit of history. Want to see what others talked about Thursday then check out the tweet up using hash tag #Ped90th. Julie, Ed and Robert thank you for including me in this tasting and getting to know more about Pedroncelli Wines. More of these fine recipes too please!
Monday, January 16, 2017
Glasshaus Wines is the exact reason why I am a devoted angel on Cellar Angels. Martin and his staff find these small production wineries who like Cellar Angels have a philosophy to give back. I like other angels get the opportunity to purchase these wines and support charity.
Owner/winemaker Rodney Gagnon gave birth to Glasshaus Wines upon his move to Petaluma in 2011. He had one simple goal "to make great wine for the greater good." He built his winemaking knowledge in Bordeaux France, Boston University Wine Appreciation and Business studies and UC Davis.
The grapes for Glasshaus Pinot were harvested from vineyards located in the Petaluma Gap. The vineyards heat during the day and the cool coastal air flows from the ocean inward to the San Pablo Bay. For the 2013 vintage, the grapes used were clone 115 from the Frederick Vineyard and the Pommard clone from the Roberts Road Vineyard. Fermentation in open top stainless steel tanks and the wine was then barreled in french oak both new and used for 14 months. Case production 203.
The nose screams pinot noir with a wonderful earthy tone, ripe cherry with hints of raspberry, wild violets and vanilla cream. The mouth luscious and majestic with dark cherry, tart cranberry that explodes on the palate with dusty earth on the long juicy finish. Rodney this Pinot is amazing!
Supporting Glasshaus wines allows them and you to give back to the community. Plus you enjoy some outstanding wine. Cellar Angels is free to become an angel and gives you a sense of purpose. Sip Save Give what a wonderful concept.
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Born from Ponzi's Live Certified Sustainable Vineyards, a selection of grapes from all vines become the Tavola 2014 Pinot Noir. The price point of the wine is a fooler coming in around $20-$25.
The 2014 Tavola Pinot Noir is an aromatic burst of lush dark cherry with hints of dark fruit, cola and vanilla. The mouth is juicy and rich with dark cherry, cinnamon spice, cola, a hint of earthiness and a creamy vanilla caramel on the finish. The quality of this wine at this price point is a steal.
Swing in for a visit on your next venture to Oregon wine country and enjoy the beautiful scenery and tasty wine!
Saturday, January 14, 2017
A dip into the cellar and I pulled these two gems from a couple previous Ceja Vineyards wine club shipments.One of my first wineries I had the opportunity to visit on my initial trip to wine country several years ago. Tonight's lineup includes the 2013 Carneros Chardonnay and the 2013 Metzli- The Aztec Goddess Of the Moon a rich round red blend.
The 2013 Carneros Chardonnay is showing beautifully with mouth watering fruit and acidity. Aromas of apple and pear with hints of wild floral notes, lemon citrus and honey. The palate is bright and succulent loaded with ripe fruit, honey and hints of vanilla. There is a beautiful richness and texture to this wine. Excellent when paired with food or just sipping with friends.
The 2013 Metzli was a wine club exclusive. A wonderful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The nose exhibits layers of cherry, raspberry and plum with intermingled notes of black current and rich vanilla.The mouth shows luscious character with the red and dark fruit giving way to anise and mocha. Soft finish for a wine with such character. Beautiful blend Ceja's.
For their available wine visit the Buy Wine Page on the Ceja Vineyards website by clicking the link.
Sunday, January 1, 2017
I was asked by the publisher if I would be interested in reading a revised version of Vertical by author Rex Pickett. This is the official edited version. I definitely enjoyed reading the book naturally with a Pinot Noir in hand. How else does one read about Miles Raymond?
I'm a big fan of Miles and Jack and their childish yet most of the time crazy behavior. Miles with his crazy idea of kidnapping his crooked finger chardonnay drinking mom from the assisted living center, taking her with him as he headed to Oregon Pinot Country. Taking his mothers nurse who mom says is always off smoking her "mary jane" and is "no good" along with yep his side kick Jack who is now divorced and broke. Mom was on her way to Wisconsin to live with her sister.
Naturally as the journey started with a stop on the old "shameless wine tour" the book which put Miles on the map yielded additional autographs, women tossing phone numbers and business cards and a couple of women who would head to Paso Robles with the adventurers. Mom rocketing down the hill toward the vineyard full speed ahead with a wine bottle and glass never spilling a drop. A bad tooth pulled by a vet because Mrs Raymond refused to go to the hospital because you die there, Jack with his organ problem and finally Snapper losing a leg because he ran off and got whacked by a car. Even Miles in Oregon being dunked in a vat of Merlot but not before a fowl language laced protest with his agent.
The money and fame though never really made Miles happy and he was as lost before the fame as he was with it. Eventually moms nurse could no longer deal with her and Jack after having to help clean up Mrs Raymond up one night bolted as well. What Miles found was someone really needed him and he needed her...his mom. Finally arriving in Wisconsin she suffers another stroke and Miles helps her "go home to be with Dad". How fitting that he and Snapper are sitting in the chair on the beach that she used for the remaining 5 years of her life feeling as if they were with her. "Come on Snapper let's go home."