Monday, December 25, 2017

2014 Concha Y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere Chile Quick Sip

*Sample Received*

Lovely sample from Chile the 2014 Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere. Aged 16 months in french oak, the wine exhibits dark fruit notes of plum and blackberry with intense black currant, black pepper and a toasted vanilla nuance. The mouth is structured with dark fruit bounding through each sip. Dark chocolate and vanilla bean compliment the warm spice finish. While rich and intense gives way to lush and elegant, the round tannins provide balance. A sipper to keep on hand.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Pedroncelli #PED90th The Final Taste Up Celebration 2017

*Samples Received*

A sweet Taste Up (port and desert) greeted us on this #5 and final tasting in the year long celebration of Pedroncelli Winery and their 90 Years of growing and producing award winning wine. Each wine tasting session included history on the family and wines along with a wonderful recipe to be paired with the offerings. What a great way to spend an evening.....sip eat and learn all things Pedroncelli. These wines will be a staple in my cellar for years to come.

We learned the Pedroncelli's have been farming the Sonoma Dry Creek Valley Vineyards since 1927 with generation after generation joining this Italian family business producing exceptional quality wines which are easy on the pocket book. They are committed to sustainable farming and now over 70% of the ownership of the business is held by women. Did I mention they also have a female winemaker?

Hearing the history of the vines and soil while tasting the various varietals and how the flavor profile mirrors the character of the vineyard is super wine geeky. I love it. Mother Clone Zinfandel with polenta and sausage ragu, Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, Sauvignon Blanc with lemon chicken, Rose, Sangiovese, Friends White Blend, Merlot, Wisdom Cabernet with a beef filet smothered with mushroom, lasagna paired with Zinfandel all just spoiled us. Which leads to our final wines Sonoma Classico and Four Grapes Vintage Port along with Port fruit bars.

The evening started with the 2015 Sonoma Classico. A beautiful red blend of Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Syrah. The nose is a wonderful mix of fruit, spice, earth and oak. Rich plum, cherry, dark berry clusters followed by peppery notes, a hint of dusty earth with a touch of oak. The mouth is elegant with intense berry clusters bursting with flavor followed by a nice warm pepper nuance and a drive by of toasty oak. The tannins were soft but do not go unannounced. The amazing part of this wine is when I paired with the port fruit bars the tannis flat disappeared. I picture the Pedroncelli's at a family gathering with classic italian food and this wine on every table. Ed I'll look for my invite because any chance missed to drink this wine well is a terrible thing.

On to the 2012 Four Grapes Vintage Port (for those Mash fans in the voice of Charles Emerson Winchester III) LOL. Living in the Midwest, Port is a wonderful wine sipped after dinner by the fireplace or anytime near the fireplace with a good book. I have never baked with it until today with our pairing of Port Fruit Bars. The 4 grapes for this wine include Tinta Madeira, Tinta Caio, Touriga Nacional and Souzao. The 4 acre vineyard was first planted in 1995 and each grape varietal matures differently but they are harvested together. 2012 is the 21st vintage produced. Port on the nose is an intense majestic work of art with rich fruit, dark chocolate and caramel notes. The mouth is lush with plum and red berries intermingled with creamy caramel, dark chocolate and a beautiful warm spice on the finish. Absolutely delicious paired with the fruit bars and a cap off to the evening. I'll need to grab a couple more bottles and let them age the 10 years to see how this wine evolves.

To Julie, Ed, Robert and the entire staff at Pedroncelli Wines a tip of the fedora to you all for including me in this year long celebration. It's been fun discussing with others across the country and helping you celebrate 90 Years of growing grapes and making wine. Plus I love being spoiled with great wine and food! Raising a glass to the next 90 Years!


Saturday, December 2, 2017

2014 Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Quick Sip

*Sample Received*

I do enjoy wines from Chile and tonight's offering is no exception. From the northern banks of the Tinguiririca River, you will find the vineyards which produce the grapes for these balanced Cabernet Sauvignons. The grapes were harvested late April and aged 12-14 months in American Oak. Chilean wine is also very economical and tastes more expensive than its shelf price.

The nose shows nicely with blackberry, plum, cherry with hints of earthiness and currants. The mouth so good with red raspberry and cherry followed by plum and rich blackberry. Hints of currant, dusty earth and toasty oak round out the mouth. I could sip this wine every day

Time to explore more wines of Chile.



Sunday, November 19, 2017

2013 Luminous Hills Estate Grown Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton Oregon

I had the chance to meet the winemaker a few years back and have become a huge fan of his wines since that day. Luminous Hills Wines show the character of the vineyard with balanced flavors, aroma's which depict the unique climate and soil along with concentrated ripe fruit. There is this regal elegance in ever barrel that Byron produces.

The Luminous Hills vineyards are located in the southwest corner of the Yanhill-Carlton district. The elevation of the vineyard is rather high but you will find both typical sedimentary soils along with Jory volcanic soil. These distinct soils along with the careful nurturing of various pinot clones lends to the complex and mature wines we love that Mr. Dooley creates. Yields are managed so that the limited yet most intense perfect fruit can be harvested.

The nose tonight shows nicely with dark rich cherry, fresh pine needles along with dried herbs, cola and cinnamon. Allow the wine to open and hints of smokey oak and blue fruit clusters circle the senses. Each swirl paints a vineyard picture from which this juice was born.

The mouth oh yea with juicy ripe cherry, tart cranberry, a splash of blue fruit  followed by a hint of herbs, forest and oak. The finish is long and lush as it rolls across the tongue with layers of fruit intertwined. A wonderful expression of Pinot Noir Byron!

Enjoy your own Luminous Hills wines by clicking the following order wine link from this page. Trust me your going to love this wine.


Saturday, October 28, 2017

2013 Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Franc

A quick blast of cold winter air called for a nice red wine to kick off the season (wine, fireplace and a good book) so the cork was pulled on this Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Franc.

It all started in 1962 as the Wetzel's purchased their first section of land from the heirs of Cyrus Alexander with the intent to be successful in the agriculture business. Fast forward to today and you continue to have the Wetzel family involved in all aspects of the business. Winemaker Kevin Hall joined in 1998 and has utilized his vast winemaking knowledge to place Alexander Valley Vineyards on the radar of wine lovers near and far. These wines show the character of the vineyards and exhibit a silky elegance with each glass poured.

The nose shows nicely with blackberry, blueberry and white pepper followed by hints of chocolate and toasted vanilla. Lush and aromatic.

The mouth is so good with blueberry followed by a nice splash of dark berries. The pepper spice is calm and the kiss of vanilla on the finish compliments the layers of fruit nicely. Soft, regal, elegant finish on this small production 100% Cabernet Franc. Damn fine wine and one which will be sipped again.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

2014 Attune Wines Chardonnay Sonoma County #SonomaStrong

Sipping and sharing this wine last night, I wondered what I could say about Attune Wines I've not already written. As I posted a pic Martin Cody at Cellar Angels (who introduced me to this label) might have stolen the words right from my mouth. Exquisite fruit, impeccable wine, amazing chardonnay and under the radar, I could not have said it better myself. Definitely why I'm drawn to Attune and Cellar Angels.

The nose is full of beautiful layers starting with fresh sliced apple and warm pear wrapped around hints of pineapple and lemon citrus zest. Baking spice along with toasted vanilla caramel cream please the senses. It's as if I'm standing in my grandmothers kitchen just after she pulled a fresh pie from the oven.

The mouth is crisp yet creamy with juicy apple, spiced pear, a kiss of lemon and vanilla butter cream. The finish is long and lush with the lingering fruit and the cream notes. We paired with baked chicken and a side of green beans with smoked bacon. Perfect pairing with a perfect wine. Well done as always Attune.

I'll say it again order direct from the winery at Attune Wines  and then head to Cellar Angels and sign up for free to become an angel. Here is where you will find these hidden gems just like I and many of the loyal angels. I would have never known this winery existed without Denise and Martin Cody. Until next time......


Friday, October 20, 2017

2012 Elkhorn Peak Cellars Pinot Noir Napa Valley #NapaStrong

Sitting high atop Jamieson Canyon on 10 acres of pristine vineyards in South Napa you will find Ken Nerlove and his Elkhorn Peak Cellars. The estate hillside vineyards planted in 1983, thrive in their location facing south towards the San Pablo and San Francisco Bay. Warm daytime sun followed by cool foggy nights make this an ideal growing climate for world class pinot noir grapes.

34 years ago Jamieson Canyon was not known as a wine growing region with no vineyards planted there. Starting small with chardonnay and pinot noir, Ken's meticulous attention to detail and creating vines worthy of perfect fruit allowed Elkhorn Peak to soon gain a reputation for high quality sought after grapes. Fast forward 10 years to 1993, Elkhorn Peak Cellars label was born with the help of winemaker Kent Rassmusean.

1994 was the first vintage of Pinot Noir and the accolades were just starting. Today the awards continue with case production around 800. Ken was proud of his fruit then and just as proud today. You can taste and smell the pride in each sip and cork pull. Now what do you say we pour.

Once in the glass ripe cherries and cranberry jam fill the nose followed by hints of cinnamon spice and a dash of earthy tones. Picture sitting next to the vines, fruit hanging nearby with crisp winds from the bay and yes you are in paradise.

The mouth is crazy good with juicy clusters of cherries, hints of wild strawberry, a splash of tart cranberry finishing with a kiss of spice. Luscious and silky fine pinot!! Order yours today at Elkhorn Peak Wine  and don't miss your chance to taste this exquisite juice.

Great find Cellar Angels and our chance to taste and support small production wines. Just recently the vineyard was threatened by the great Napa/Sonoma fires of 2017. Thankfully it remained safe as well as all the family housing and the family themselves. So support Elkhorn Peak Cellars today and all my friends in Napa Valley and Sonoma.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Pedroncelli Merlot, Cabernet, Zinfandel Celebrating 90 Years #PED90th

Another memorable tasting with the great folks at Pedroncelli Winery as the celebration of 90 years of making delicious affordable wines continues. Tonight along with a few friends across the country and the scoundrel duo of Ed St John and Robert Larsen, we tasted the 2015 Bench Vineyards Merlot followed by 2015 Block 007 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon then ending the evening with the 2015 Bushnell Vineyard Zinfandel. The later paired with the lasagna recipe provided by the winery. All 3 are really nice wines and the comment "wowzer" may have been uttered after a few glasses (no singing but there is a relic of some "guy" holding a glass with a commemorative 90th Anniversary hat on).

Normally I would write about the history of the winery, the family involved in a post but since I have included in prior tastings lets change up things and talk about the vineyards and the wines themselves. For those wanting to revisit Celebrating 90 Years With Pedroncelli please click the link.

Starting with Bench Vineyard located in Dry Creek Valley. The location is perfect for growing and exactly the type of grapes needed to produce this luscious Merlot. The vines themselves were first planted in 1990 and over the next 5 years. Think about the maturity of vines 22 to 27 years old and the fruit they have produced over the years. The soil is gravely/rocky and the vineyard rises into the hillside. I picture these majestic rows of vines which have produced countless tons of grapes as I pour my glass of nectar. The 2015 Merlot grapes were harvested late August, cold soaked in stainless steel tanks for 48 hrs with daily pump overs and finally aged 11 months in American Oak. The nose  shows character with dark plum and spice with hints of red fruit and a faint nuance of oak. The mouth is full of rich fruit and succulent. Bold dark plum with a nice warm spice and hints of red berry clusters. Allow the wine to open and a nice vanilla toasty oak compliments the fruit. Gentle tannins on the finish. One you must taste.

Block 007 (Bond, James Bond but no connection I just like saying that with my hat on) located on the eastern bench of the vineyard, produces quality fruit each and every year. The block was planted in 1992 on the Scott Henry trellis system which allows the cordon arms to split into tiers with the top producing 3 ton and the bottom 2 ton. Another aged vineyard and starting to see a pattern as to quality and consistency. These grapes were harvested mid September, cold soaked 48 hrs and fermented in small temperature controlled steel tanks. Aged 16 months in French and American Oak barrels. The 2015 Cabernet nose shows nicely with blackberry and raspberry fruit followed by currants, dried herbs and a hint of earthiness. The mouth is full of ripe fruit with red raspberry, dark cherry and blackberry. Herbs and earthy notes intermingle with the fruit and the finish is long but very soft for a cabernet. A real beauty.

The Bushnell Vineyard located on the eastern hillsides of Dry Creek Valley on 22 acres, John Sr purchased this property in 1943 so it has been in the family fold for many years. Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Carignane have been planted on the property with Zin and Petite Sirah grown today. Grapes for this wine were harvested the first week in September, fermented in stainless steel tanks with daily pump overs to enhance color and flavor with aging 16 months in American Oak barrels. The nose exhibits clusters of dark fruit and cracked pepper spice with a hint of smokey oak. Full bodied with the dark fruit, pepper spice and big tannins. Let this open in the glass and the profile changes a bit where the fruit and layers of spice and oak becomes more defined. Paired so well with the lasagna.

A bit sad that this is the last taste up celebrating the 90 Years Of Pedroncelli. It has been wonderful tasting these hand picked wines and recipes. Ed, Julie and all the family thank you for a year long tasting of exquisite wines in your portfolio. Robert Larsen as always thank you for including me as well. You are a gentleman and a scholar. Make sure when in CA wine country a stop at Pedroncelli is on your list of tastings.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

2016 Attune Pinot Noir Rose Carneros Sonoma County

Sometimes you find these "hidden gem wines" or someone with excellent wine knowledge introduces you. In my case the latter is truth and thank you Martin Cody. If not for your vision and passion to bring small producers in touch with wine lovers across the country I would not even know Attune existed. Thank you Attune for making what I call "drop dead great juice."

Fans of Attune know the story which seems to be repeated over and over with small production boutique producers. Friends with a passion for wine share many a bottle with great conversation which leads to let's make wine. It may not be that simple but the results are the same. For Attune the story started with wine, a property which turned into a home and vineyard, which brought a winemaker who produces world class wines. Today's those friends are still the backbone of Attune Wines.

Meticulous about the fruit which represents each bottle of Attune, you will see the winemaker and vineyard workers dropping fruit not worthy. At harvest time, grapes are picked by hand, carefully brought to the winery to continue their journey eventually ending as "nectar of the gods." Once in the barrels, the juice will age and mature from 5-15 months finally reaching adulthood and bottled.

The 2016 Rose is easy on the nose with hints of young fresh cut rose pedals, cantaloupe, a faint hint of ripe cherry and a crisp citrus zest. So appealing to the senses and a lovey light coral hue. The mouth I agree explodes with juicy strawberry and fresh sliced apricots with hints of honeydew melon. Nice acidity and what a beautiful long juicy finish. A grand total of 165 cases produced.

Act fast my rose and wine loving friends as these wines will not last long!


Thursday, September 7, 2017

2014 Campesino Cellars Syrah Los Carneros Las Madres Vineyard

It's harvest time in the valley and what better way to honor one of my favorite winemakers by opening his 2014 Los Carneros Syrah. When Macario and Griselda offer these wines, one must grab quickly. This particular varietal yielded a mere 50 cases.

Campesino Cellars owned by the dynamic duo of  Macario and Griselda Montoya, was born out of their love and experience with wine. Both grew up near the vineyards, experienced wine firsthand and have relatives who have worked in the industry. The Campesinos (fieldworkers) who they pay homage to are just as important to wine making as the winemaker themselves. See these field workers are in the vineyards nurturing no matter if the temp is 100 or freezing. While here to make a living, they also wish to make a better life for their family. I've watched them work the fields and truly amazed at their work ethic and dedication. So how was the wine you we go.

Aromas of dark, red and blue fruit fill the nose with clusters of greatness. Ripe blackberry, red raspberry with hints of blueberry, black olives, wild violets and cinnamon spice. The mouth is medium bodied but allow the wine to open and the tannins are soft and delicate. Raspberry and blueberry followed by blackberry with hints of earth and leather. The finish is long and berry driven. Nicely done Macario. Your bottles never disappoint my palate.

Do not miss a chance to taste these wines. Sign up for their mailing list by clicking the link and filling out the form.  I can't wait to see what they are releasing this year!


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Martin Ray Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir

*Samples Received*

Let's call these a couple screw cap beauties from Martin Ray Winery located in Santa Rosa Ca. Quality juice and very easy on the pocket book. They have wines which will please both the novice and the advanced palate.

I started off with the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley and immediately smiled as this nectar touched the lips. A citrus party to start with pineapple, passionfruit, hints of nectarine and lemon/lime zest. The nose says welcome to a tropical paradise my friends. The mouth is so juicy with the tropical fruits and a very distinct lemon zest finish. Clean refreshing and a wine you just might want to sip daily.

Second up the 2014 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley and for the 1000th time my favorite varietal (I have others but just something about good pinot). The nose exhibits aromas of bright cherry, orange peel, cola with hints of earthiness and cloves. The mouth is loaded with tart cherry, cranberry and hints of pomegranate followed by a splash of orange peel and spicy clove. Nice layers of both flavor and aroma. Nicely done here as well.

Stop by and pick up a few bottles of your own and taste the quality of Martin Ray Wine portfolio.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

2013 Mulvane The Cypher Proprietary Red Napa Valley

Let me start by saying I would have never been introduced to this wine without Cellar Angels and their discovery of these boutique small production gems. If you enjoy wines with limited production, most only sold at the winery or on the winery website then join today. Sadly owner Rocco Califano due to a personal issue closed his winery. He only produced 50 cases of tonight's wine. I would have loved to taste his entire portfolio.

The nose is beautiful with ripe red berries, fresh black tea concluding with a nice earthy dried herb character. The mouth is fantastic with juicy cherry, a hint of raspberry and plum, a splash of dried cranberries along with a bold currant spice and mocha. For such a big wine the smooth finish is jaw dropping. Such a shame this wine will never be produced again.

Watch every Friday evening as Martin Cody brings you #NoDumpBucket live from the home office of Cellar Angels (more like the dining room table but who notices LOL) as he tastes and talks wine. Informational, interactive and a blast.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

2011 Ceja Vineyards Vino de Casa Napa Valley

This bottle may have been perfect timing to pop the cork as my friends at Ceja Vineyards are celebrating 16 years of making ultra premium wine in the Napa Valley. They were my first winery visit on my initial trip to Napa and I have continued to follow and support their journey. I know that every time I open a bottle with the trademark bell "vinum, cantus, amor", special juice will be flowing into the glass.

The 2011 Vino de Casa Red Wine is a blend of Syrah, Pinot Noir and Merlot. The nose shows nicely and starts with fresh herbal notes followed by dark cherry, ripe plum and blackberry with hints of currants. The mouth is luscious with clusters of red and dark berries followed by soft plum and blueberries. A beautiful pepper/herbal spice greets the fruit as it flows across the palate.So easy to drink and I paired with spaghetti and organic marinara. Easily could be my everyday wine!

Make sure you swing by the Ceja Vineyards Tasting Room located at 22989 Burndale Road, Sonoma Open 11-5 Friday-Sunday and taste some Vino de Casa along with their other delicious varietals. Mucho amor a mi familia de Ceja!


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Pedroncelli Celebrating 90 Years #PED90th

*Samples Received*

The celebration continues at Pedroncelli Winery and we were treated to 3 special wines along with a great steak recipe to pair with either of the reds. Always special to talk and sip wine with the winery as well as tasters across the country. I even hear Ed and the gang kidnapped some unsuspecting tasters who wandered into the tasting room during the event. I'm told they were spoiled.

Think about 90 years of existence and the number of grapes harvested, barrels of juice fermented, cases of wines bottled and finally all that consumed by wine drinkers. The entire time this has been a family owned winery with generation after generation taking part in continuing the vision set forth in the early days. Even the accolades are consistent year after year, with many wines receiving a gold medal in wine competitions which speaks to the quality and consistency of the juice the Pedroncelli Family produces.

We started with the 2016 Friends Sonoma Country White Blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztrminer. I believe my first comment was "tropical love" and boy does it feel like your sipping in the tropics, and as the label indicates share with friends (love the smiley face on the screw cap). On the nose the aromas of peach, melon, pineapple give way to hints of honey, daisy's and lemon zest. The mouth is as I said tropical and so refreshing. Little sweetness on the pineapple with juicy melon and a touch of pink grapefruit followed by the lemon citrus. Crisp, refreshing fun wine. Even my daughters (who are hard to please) even enjoyed this one asking "any more?" Great start to the evening.

We moved after 20 minutes to the 2015 Pedroncelli Merlot Sonoma County Dry Creek Valley Bench Vineyards. The nose was rich with dark fruit giving way to a hint of spice, violets and a subtle oak nuance. The mouth was enticing with juicy plum, dark cherry followed by a sprinkle of baking spice and white pepper finishing with a kiss of oak. As I tasted the beef with this wine the plum was accented tremendously both by the meat and the spinach. My only regret is not making 2 sauces one with merlot and the other with cab. Guess I need to remake and get more wine :). A fan of the merlot!

I could not believe we were 40 minutes in and it was time for the 2014 Pedroncelli Wisdom Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Creek Valley Estate Vineyard. The aromas of dark fruit (blackberry, black raspberry, plum) circle the nose while currents and toasty oak intertwine. The mouth is oh so rich and elegant with clusters of dark berry fruit and spice. The tannins are so soft at times I didn't even think I was drinking cabernet and before I knew it the bottle was empty. For the steak dish sauce I chose the Cab. Perfect pairing Ed. The cab reduction combined with the porcini mushrooms slathered over the steak (I chose a black angus beef filet), pulls the plum and blackberry flavors from the wine. Delicious.

Ed and Robert thank you for the invite to the tasting and sharing these wines and recipe. Once again my palate was spoiled. Readers and sippers if you're in Dry Creek and looking for a fun interactive tasting then look no further and stop at the Pedroncelli Tasting Room for your sipping pleasure.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

2015 Cusumano Nero D'Avola Italy

*Sample Received*

Lasagna night so naturally I opened this 2015 Cusumano Nero D'Avola sample which prices out at a $12.99 bargain. Huge fan of Italian wine and how inexpensive yet flavorful they are. If I ever traveled to Italy I may never come back. Reminds me why I need to drink more Italian juice.

On the the nose intense red and dark berry clusters with a not so subtle black pepper spice rounding out with hints of wild violets.

The mouth shows succulent pressed jammy red and dark fruit which leads to a juicy long finish.The black pepper spice is not at all overpowering and the tannins soften the longer the wine sits in the glass. Really enjoyable and pairs perfect with lasagna by the way.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

2014 Passaggio Wines New Generation Pinot Grigio California

Nearing the 10 Year Anniversary of Passaggio Wines, Cynthia Cosco owner and winemaker continues to follow her passion and it's truly evident in each bottle and varietal. "I believe something magical happens when you bring wonderful friends, awesome food, and great wines together." are her words to live by. From day one those first 25 cases the quality is so consistent as it is today and almost 1700 cases produced in 2017.

Passaggio Wines is all grown up with a beautiful tasting room to introduce wine lovers to her varietal offerings located at 25 East Napa Street Suite C in Sonoma. It is here where you will find Cindy chatting with customers about her story and wines. I have even heard her rock star status offers "signed" bottles. Not far away is her newest accomplishment "my very own production facility." Here is where the magic continues (22020 Carneros Vineyard Way Suite 2 Sonoma) as she meticulously creates and nurtures each barrel produced.

Tonight's 2014 New Generation Pinot Grigio is welcomed with the heat we are experiencing in the Midwest. Aromas of sweet pear, ripe cantaloupe with hints of fresh lemon and wild daisy's leap from the glass. Love the crisp character on the nose.

The mouth is a citric blast with juicy pear, pink grapefruit and ripe melon with hints of lemon zest.The finish is long and full of fruit. Really nice refreshing Pinot Grigio Cindy.

A stop on the Sonoma Square is always a treat and so is a stop at Passaggio Wines!


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

2010 Ceja Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

A wine club purchase, The Ceja Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon is both rich and elegant on my palate.

If you know the Napa wine scene then you are well aware of the Ceja Family. Featured many times in magazines and various wine articles about their story as immigrants, even having the opportunity to travel to Washington DC talking wine and history. The head of the family is none other than Amelia Ceja,  President of the family winery. From the early years of picking grapes to what she and the family have grown this label to be today, it's a remarkable journey and the accolades well deserved. I also love the fact the entire fmily is involved in the business.

The nose on this wine shows stunning fruit aromas of dark cherry with black raspberry and plum. The spice is a bold anise which races from the glass. Ripe fruit, perfect spice nice inviting aromas.

The mouth is rich with juicy cherry and raspberry followed by hints of plum which softens the wine. The finish is long and the fruit lingers with the anise spice accent. The wine was aged 36 months in french oak and grapes were harvested from Napa Valley, Silverado Trail, La Loma Vineyards.

Make sure you swing by on your next trip to Napa/Sonoma and stop in to see my Ceja friends and taste some of their delicious wines.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

2014 Cherry Cove Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Oregon Produced and Bottled By Coleman Vineyards

Purchased from my go to local wine store (First Avenue Wine House), this 2014 Cherry Cove Pinot Noir ($20 and 14.1% alcohol) is a delicious Oregon wine.

Coleman Vineyards at an elevation between 300-500 feet is located in the Coast Range foothills of Yamhill County and consists of 22.5 acres of vines. Owners Randy and Kim Coleman produce Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, many which are estate wines. Their philosophy is to allow the terroir to show in each wine with minimal wine making intervention.

The nose shows deep dark cherry fruit with hints of cloves and cinnamon spice.Continue to swirl and nice earthy tones appear.

The mouth is rich with dark cherry and raspberry followed by a pronounced clove spice. The finish lingers long dominated by juicy cherry. A steal for $20 and drinks much more expensive.

If you're in Oregon I would add this winery to your lists of visits especially if you like Pinot like I do. The tasting room is located in town 801 SW Baker St McMinnville and open Tue-Sun 11-5.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

2016 Martin Ray Chardonnay Sonoma County "Quicksip"

*Sample Received*

Tonight's quicksip courtesy of Martin Ray Winery and their 2016 Sonoma County Chardonnay. Clocking in at 13.8% alcohol and priced at $20, it's definitely an everyday drinker.

Aromas of lush cantaloupe and fresh apple with hints of creamy meringue, wild flower and lemon zest. The mouth shows a beautiful lemon apple character followed by cantaloupe and a hint of pineapple. The finish is long and juicy. A very nice inexpensive chardonnay. Paired with the back porch :) feet up and sip away.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

2014 Waxwing Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains Lester Family Vineyard

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

2016 Martin Ray Rose of Pinot Russian River Valley On National Drink Rose Day

*Sample Received*

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

2012 Viszlay Vineyards Five Vines Estate Red Blend Russian River Valley

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 2012 Five Vines Red Blend consists of 42% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Malbec, 8% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot. From the moment the cork was pulled there was this rush of a fruit bouquet followed by hints of earthiness, dried herbs and spicy currants. As you continue to swirl I was completely mesmerized by the complexity of the layers of aroma dancing through my nose. Not even a drop had touched my palate and I was already in love with the wine.

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

Celebrating 90 Years Of Pedroncelli Wine #ped90th

*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.

Wine 2 is the 2016 Dry Rose Of Zinfandel. Made from 100% free run juice and fermented in stainless steel, this dry rose' just dances across the palate. Strawberry and cherry with hints of orange zest and floral notes. A kiss of spice on the finish compliments the fruit. Drink this rose for any occasion.

Final wine of the evening the 2015 Alto Vineyards Sangiovese. After the first sip I was walking around the house talking like the godfather. Ripe cherry and red berry clusters with hints of baking spice and toasted vanilla. Jammy with well defined tannins. Loved this wine.

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

2010 Ceja Vineyards Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

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

2014 Passaggio New Generation Unoaked Chardonnay

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

2013 Pozzan Back Barn Zinfandel Oakville Cuvee

Picked this little gem up on a visit to my local wine store 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.

Shop local and shop small production. These gems are sure to please your palate.