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2018 Wood Family Vineyards Chardonnay with Fresh Swordfish!

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A wonderful food and wine pairing tonight. Wood Family Vineyards 2018 Para Mas Amigas Chardonnay, Gold Medal Winner from SF Chronicle Wine Competition in 2019. The oak tree reflection in the glass gives you an indication of oak, but “just the right amount”. This wine burst with lemon and pear, followed by butterscotch and as Rhonda Wood states “crackerjack flavors”. Not an over the top buttery Chardonnay like Rombauer, but just enough to provide a buttery caramel and texture in the mouth. First on the eyes, a golden hue and medium viscosity is obvious.  On the nose and palate, the wine has lingering tropical fruits, peach and pear in the palate. A portion under goes 100% secondary malolactic fermentation, but allows a final mix, to allow old world and new world Chardonnay to coexist in harmony. In a recent conversation, Rhonda stated she blended her Chardonnay from both “tightly grained barrels and loosely grained barrels” into the final production wine.

Paired with an one inch+ cut of pan grilled Swordfish, cooked with capers, olive oil, lemon juice, Chardonnay wine, peppercorns, Himalayan salt, ginger paste and garlic. Plated with fresh chopped parsley. Served with a Yukon Gold potato. One of my favorite pairings with two of my favorites: Swordfish and Wood Family Vineyards Chardonnay.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://woodfamilyvineyards.com

2014 YoungInglewood Malbec – Smoky and Tasty

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The Winery

One of my favorite wineries in Napa Valley for so many reasons. First the owners are dedicated to making excellent boutique and artisan wines. Small lots with handcrafted TLC. Secondly I was there during their opening and still frequent them as often as I can for their great wines and unlimited hospitality. You can read previous stories at:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2016/02/16/younginglewood/

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2019/11/10/2013-young-inglewood-cabernet-franc-simple-elegance/

Their wines, especially their Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon make my Best Wines of Year historically. This Malbec may also make this years list.

The Wine

This 2014 YoungInglewood Malbec has all the typical Malbec characteristics with dark fruit flavors and a light smoky finish and a generous finish. On the eyes a dark magenta color and medium viscosity. On the nose light smoky, plume and blueberries.  On the palate, black cherry and pomegranate come through as does a slight coffee, mocha, leather and gravel earthiness.  On the finish a tinge of vanilla & clove and soft rounded acid and tannins.  

The Food Pairing

Paired this evening with a Carne Asada using a flank steak. Fresh ingredients of chopped cilantro, olive oil, soy sauce, fresh squeezed orange and lime, chopped jalapeno pepper, minced garlic, cumin, kosher salt, ground pepper and marinated for 9-10 hours. Then BBQ’ed on high heat to medium rare, sliced and then drizzled with marinated sauce for plating.  Jalapeno and cheese rice served as a side with a fresh garden salad.  First time trying this recipe and Susan Kelly did a marvelous job with the preparations.

This sauce will be tried again with pork and chicken!!  A real winner and the wine made this Carne Asada deliriously delicious.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

http://www.younginglewood.com/

2015 Tate Wines Merlot – A Muscular Merlot!

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Last night opened a 2015 Tate Wines Merlot from St Helena, Napa Valley. Suzanne and David Tate have provided an extremely robust Merlot. Dark ruby on the eyes with a medium to medium heavy viscosity. On the nose a dark fruit compote leads to a beautiful sweet & sour cherry and plum fruit with red licorice. The finish provides a hint of oak and cedar with soft tannins but with some edginess not often found in a “smooth” Merlot which was an enjoyable treat!  Also on the finish pomegranate with medium acidity. This is not a soft and comforting Merlot more like a bone embracing bone breaking solid bear hug with a big squeeze! A remarkable Merlot made for Cabernet Sauvignon drinkers.

For more background on Tate Wines read this earlier post:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2016/02/08/tate-wines/

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

http://www.tatewine.com

2012 Jazz Cellars Rhapsody – One of my favorites!!

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Last night a 2012 Jazz Cellars Rhapsody from a Saralee’s Vineyard in the Russian River, this wine is an equal blend of two mouthwatering grapes- Marsanne and Roussanne. On the eye, the wine is a medium-heavy viscosity and golden straw in color. The wine exudes flora and honeysuckle notes on the nose. In the mouth you get a wonderful mix of the two varietals. With the Roussanne, pear and roasted chestnuts are the predominant flavors. With the Marsanne, it gives depth and rich textures on the palate with a touch of honeydew melon. Additionally Marsanne helps in the viscosity of an almost oily quality with the silkiness of the Marsanne.

The food pairing was fresh halibut. Baked with thyme, olive oil, Himalayan sea salt, black pepper, fresh scallions, cilantro and parmesan cheese. Plated and served with fresh chopped parsley and lemon juice. Sautéed asparagus as the vegetable.

A wonderful paired meal and wine!!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.jazzcellars.com/

2010 Larkmead Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 2016 Duckhorn Patzimaro Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

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Started the evening with a couple of nice 2018 Chardonnays of La Crema and Rombauer with appetizers. Then worked our way into the reds with dinner.

Good friends prepared a scrumptious meal of BBQ’ed Chateaubriand, scalloped and cheese potatoes and BBQ’ed vegetables (corn, purple onion, zucchini and tomato).  Also a fresh garden salad was served.

The Wine Pairing

2010 Larkmead Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is truly a wonderful wine. It is a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec. On the eyes, a deep ruby red color and medium heavy viscosity. On the nose a complex gathering of leather, licorice and violet petals. On the palate chocolate, dark berries and licorice were prominent. On the finish one of the most lush and velvety smooth finish of tannins and acidity combine harmoniously. This was taken out 3 hours before drinking and decanted twice and filtered once. Rated 95 points by Robert Parker and James Suckling. Vines from the estate property located in northern Napa Valley. Today’s price is $125 from the winery.

The second wine with the meal was the 2016 Duckhorn Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Patzimaro Vineyard. This site is in western St Helena at the base of Spring Mountain. It is an extremely rich soil producing wonderful wines in the loam & gravelly soils. On the eyes an intense almost radiant and translucent brick red and medium viscosity. On the nose, strawberry and floral notes. On the palate, red fruit and peppercorns spice allow a very light, drinkable and refreshing Cabernet Sauvignon. The contrast between the two red wines was remarkable and each represented their terroir respectfully. Rated 92 points by Wine Spectator and today is sold at the winery for $100.

It was an amazing meal and great wines with fantastic friends!!

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.larkmead.com/

https://www.duckhorn.com/

Turbiana – An Uncommon But Versatile Grape

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For my off the “California Wines & Wineries” article this month, we venture to Italy. This comes from the wine region of Lugana. It is located at the southern end of Lake Garda with breath taking views of the Italian Alps.  It is situated between Lombardy and Veneto wine regions. The wine area produces 23 million bottles of wine (white predominately) and only 10% is exported to the USA. So if you have not heard of this varietal, there is a reason!  Surprisingly over 200 wine producers are in this small region. The wine as a whole is extremely versatile and will age nicely. Wine from the region come in Superiority 18 months and Reserva 24 months in barrel.

(map from Italian Wine Central)

Tonight’s wine, 2018 San Benedetto by Zenato. On the eyes it was a light straw color and medium viscosity. On the nose white fruit and floral aromas. On the palate, minerality and salinity were the first two prominent traits along with the mouthful feel body of this wine. Citrus, apple, almond were just a few of the flavors that developed a complex and unique texture in the mouth. The finish was long and a refreshing salinity being pronounced.

Food pairings are wide ranging from Sushi, Chinese food and even Southwest Mexican cuisine.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.zenato.it/

Vine 18 Debuts With Excellent New Chef at The Golf Club at Copper Valley

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An excellent meal last evening at Vine18 at The Golf Club at Copper Valley. Appetizer of Tuna Poke (pickled ginger, Dijon radish, togarishi, wasabi aioli and seaweed salad). The entrée of prime rib with brussel sprouts and baked potato. New chef did a wonderful meal and presentation. Accompanied with two exquisite wines: a 2010 Trespass Cabernet Sauvignon (velvety cherries, aged 22 months in French oak, solid tannins and smooth as silk) and a 2016 Lail Blueprint (Melka made a deep red colored wine, red plums, black cherries, blackberry and espresso). https://californiawinesandwineries.com #trespasswinery #lailvineyards #lailblueprint #napacabernetsauvignon #napavalleywines #napavalleycabernetsauvignon #vine18 #thegolfclubatcoppervalley

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.coppervalleygolf.com

2017 Jeff Runquist Grenache – Paso Robles Meets Amador County

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Jeff Runquist has been making excellent wines for years as demonstrated by his numerous awards at every wine competition.  He often garners more awards than any other winery! The 2017 Grenache is also an award winning wine having won Silver Medals at both East Meets West and San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competitions. For more on information on Jeff Runquist’s Wines located in Amador County, read a previously written story at:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2017/05/09/jeff-runquist-wines/

The 2017 Runquist Grenache grapes comes from the west side of Paso Robles at Three Way Vineyard. The vineyard is located at 1,530 feet elevation.  His current 2019 release comes from the award winning Silvaspoons Vineyard in Lodi. Over the years this vineyard has won both Double Gold and Gold at various competitions. It is listed at $26.00 at the winery.

On the eyes the 2017 has a bright purple color and medium viscosity. On nose, floral notes with a combination of red fruits (raspberry, cherry and strawberry) awaken ones senses. On the palate, the fruits combine with a soft earthiness to round out the flavor profile. A bit of cooking spices loom in the shadows to make this a tantalizing treat.  The tannins are guarded and hardly present as it goes down so smoothly.

The Food Pairing

The Grenache was served with a grilled spicy pork chop and accompanied by a sea salt encrusted baked potato and a beautiful artichoke. Both the fruit of the wine as well as the spice came together for the pork chop. A great “yin and yang”, push/pull tasting.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

http://www.jeffrunquistwines.com/

2017 Crocker & Starr Sauvignon Blanc – A Great Wine/Food Pairing!

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Last night a delightful 2017 Crocker & Starr Sauvignon Blanc. Pam Starr, the winemaker mostly known for her Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, has always made an excellent Sauvignon Blanc that is inappropriately seen sometimes as a step-child. I have always enjoyed this wine. This year they have sold out and the new release will be April 2021. This is your “tip of the day”!!

The wine on the eyes is a pale yellow straw color with a medium viscosity. On the nose tropical floral aromas. On the palate, is light and crispy with toned down hints of citrus, melon, lime, mango and kiwifruit notes. The finish provides a wet stone mineral finish. What is unique about Pam Starr’s Sauvignon Blanc is the non-aggressive “citrus profile” (unlike New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc’s). It is soft and mouthful with no after taste or puckering!

The food pairing was a fresh brook trout müllerin. The trout was cooked in olive oil, lemon citrus juice, pink Himalayan salt, rainbow ground peppers, lightly floured with lemon slices. Müllerin means “the miller’s wife’s” fish. Apply named because the mountain trout that came from streams that powered the flour mills. The citrus in the fish was exquisite intermingled with the wine. It provide a harmoniously beautiful meal.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.crockerstarr.com/

Two New Pre-Halloween Treats!! Wood Family Vineyards

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The first treat is Wood Family 2019 Para Mas Amigas Chardonnay. A regular for summer time crowds, is “Para Mas Amigas” means “for more girlfriends”. This was not on purpose, but some rusty Spanish made it thus! She was trying to say “for my girlfriends”. She has made many friends, of both sexes, all enjoying her Chardonnay. Rhonda Wood who for three years in a row has won either a Double Gold Medal, Best of Class, Gold Medal from the SF Chronicle Wine Competition and who knows how many other accolades, is about to release her 2019 Chardonnay this coming Friday, September 25th.  This Chardonnay has many of the familiar characteristics of previous years. The wine has lingering tropical fruits, peach and pear in the palate. A portion under goes 100% secondary malolactic fermentation, but allows a final mix, to allow old world and new world Chardonnay to coexist in harmony. In a recent conversation, Rhonda stated she blended her Chardonnay from both “tightly grained barrels and loosely grained barrels” into the final production wine. For the 2019 Chardonnay, she incorporated a higher mix of new French oak barrels, which imparted a new twist on an already exquisite wine. A little bit less “buttery” but the same big mouthful feel/texture and imparting some mild “Sauvignon Blanc type” lemon citrus for enjoyment. The previous three years this wine made “The Best of the Year” on my annual report. Destined to win many more awards in the coming months upon “official release”.

This was paired with some fresh sautéed scallops, fresh fettucine and broccoli cooked in olive oil and topped with parmesan cheese. Also accompanied were farm fresh sliced Beefsteak tomatoes with olive oil and drizzled with a balsamic reduction.


The second treat is her 2018 Cabernet Franc. Always a perennial favorite but never has made my “Best of the Year”, but this year could be the year when the calculations get tallied in December.  On the eyes a dark ruby red and medium heavy viscosity.  On the nose blackberry, cherry and violets were dominant. On the palate, plum and caramel pipe tobacco engulfed the mouth with milk chocolate. The finish was medium with soft edges and extremely smooth with an earthiness, an absence of any strong pyrazines and a soft and smooth landing with a hint of vanilla. This was released the first week of September.

Don’t get tricked and pass up two very good treats!!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://woodfamilyvineyards.com