Month: July 2020

Gossamer Cellars 2017 Pinotage – “Adventure may hurt you, but monotony will kill you” – Anonymous

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Gary Grant continues his quest to produce every varietal on the De Long’s Wine Grape Varietal Chart. Gossamer Cellars is located in Murphys in a small wine tasting room. His goal is to go wide and not deep in producing varietals to challenge everyday consumption of red and white wine presuppositions. Recently for example he has produced Treixadura, Negroamaro, Teroldego, Torrontes, Nebbiolo and may more.  For the complete story see a previous story at:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2019/01/18/gossamer-cellars-a-unique-find/

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Last evening, I opened up a 2017 Gossamer Pinotage.  The grapes come Lodi. For those unfamiliar with the varietal it is South Africa’s signature red wine. In 1925, Izak Perold cross pollinated Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Pinotage is as prevalent in South Africa as Malbec is in Argentina or Cabernet Sauvignon is in Napa Valley. The reason it flourishes in South Africa is that it can withstand drought conditions.  A typical South Africa Pinotage characteristics are a deep purple color, plum and black aromas and a silky smooth finish.

 

Gary has captured many of these traits in his 2017 Pinotage. First on the eyes it exhibits a medium dark purple with light edges in the glass. While dark, it is still clear and translucent. The fist scent on the nose provides ripe strong summer strawberries and red cherries. On the palate, while “cool from the cellar” a distinct rhubarb came through. Later while warming up, blackberry, licorice and bramble underbrush were present. The rocky minerality and earth tones rounded out the sipping experience. The finish with rounded tannins, was smooth and provide a medium finish.

 

While this Pinotage is slightly different from a classical South Africa Pinotage, it still possess many of the key traits of this delightful varietal. Gary continues to be one of the most unique winemakers with his vision and definitely a pillar of creativity for wine aficionados with a sense of adventure. Thanks Gary!

 

Sláinte,

 

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

http://restless-frog.com/

 

 

Vinoce 2019 Sauvignon Blanc

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On the eyes a light colored straw with medium viscosity with brightness of clarity. On nose a very faint lemon and lime citrus and crisp. But don’t be fooled into complacency. On the palate the first sip is smooth and thirst quenching with rounded citrus of lemon and a slight sweetness of honeydew melon and stone fruit. Very little tartness and the finish is smooth as silk especially for a Sauvignon Blanc. An understated and elegant wine.

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Paired with Dover sole prepared with white wine, lemon infused olive oil, pink Himalayan sea salt, ground rainbow pepper, ginger, crushed pistachios, sesame seeds, butter and a pinch of garlic salt. Accompanied by Roma tomatoes with mozzarella and drizzled with Italian dressing and balsamic vinegar. Also some fresh asparagus sautéed in olive oil and garlic.

 

 

Sláinte,

 

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.vinoce.com/

O’Shaughnessy Winery 2010 Mt Veeder, A Wonderful Treat

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2010 O’Shaughnessy 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the west side of the Napa Valley, Mount Veeder. On the eyes, a dark ruby coloring with medium heavy viscosity. On the nose, a woody but sweet briar, with blackberry and black cherry fruits wafting into the nose. On the palate, extremely concentrated fruits, licorice and black cherry exploded in the mouth with a background of sweet tobacco smoke and leather. The finish had some strong tannins, but without any “edginess” which provided for a long velvety crescendo. Rated at 97 points by RP. This wine could easily go another 10 years!

 

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Paired with a seared and BBQed 24 hour marinated New York steak in a garlic and black pepper sauce. Lightly sautéed broccoli and mushrooms in olive oil and garlic salt. Fresh sliced Roma tomatoes from a neighbor with an Italian dressing.

 

 

Sláinte,

 

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://oshaughnessywinery.com 

Alyris Vineyards, “The Audition” Chardonnay – A Great Combination

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The Alyris Vineyards

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To get a perspective on this boutique and artisan winery located in Napa Valley, see a previously published story at: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2017/04/18/alyris-vineyards-2/ . Here you can read up on Ewan and Cyndi Downie, the owners of the winery and Rudy Zuidema, their winemaker. In the article you can read why their estate vineyards, located on the back side of Mt George provide a great environment, especially for their award winning deep and mouth quenching Cabernet Sauvignon. Click on: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2018/11/08/alyris-vineyards-presents-their-piece-de-resistance-carnal-wine-company/

 

The 2015 Alyris “The Audition” Chardonnay

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Most wine aficionados know that California Chardonnay does best in specific areas as Sonoma (coast & Russian River), Santa Cruz Mountains, Central Coast, Livermore Valley & Napa Valley (Carneros Region) make some of the best Chardonnay wines from these vineyards. This is due to the cooler temperatures of the Pacific Ocean, the Russian River, San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay drawing the fog into the regions. No exception is the 2015 Alyris “The Audition” Chardonnay. Always one of my personal favorite Chardonnays, regardless of price. The wine is aged in 100% French oak barrels for 22 months. On the eyes a dark golden color with medium heavy viscosity. On the nose, honeysuckle and traces of pineapple are the two main aromas that waft into your senses along with floral notes. On the palate, these two flavors explode into ripeness with spices of pear, nutmeg and allspice in the background. Always a great soft finish with just a touch of minerality and fullness in the mouth. Alyris 2014 “The Audition” won a Double Gold Medal at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The 2015 is equal or even better!! Today the 2015 is available but limited quantities at $45. Also the 2016 is available at $45. Small production lots, so if interested contact them on their website.

 

The Food Pairing

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Served with fresh scallops cooked exquisitely by Susan Kelly in olive oil, pepper and a pinch of brown sugar. Baby asparagus with mushrooms cooked with olive oil and garlic salt. A fresh garden salad with blue cheese dressing as a side dish. This goes as one of our best pairings of the year! Alyris “The Audition” goes on my list of The Best Wines of 2020 for two years in a row.

 

 

 

Sláinte,
Michael
https://californiawinesandwineries.com
http://alyrisvineyards.com/

Wood Family Vineyards 2018 “Against the Grain” (bourbon barrel aged) Red Wine, Releasing on July 29th!!

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I usually do not give a heads up on pending release dates, but this is one I just had to share. Last year Wood Family released their 2017 Against the Grain and it was gone almost instantly. Why the clamor for this wine? Let’s do a quick review of bourbon barrel aging of wine.

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The History

 

In the early 1980’s, American oak barrels where expensive for many start up wineries. By law bourbon barrels have to be 100% American oak and can only be used one time to distill bourbon in the United States. So after their use, many barrels became available for “other distilled spirits” and wineries to purchase at a fraction of the price of new French or new American oak barrels.  So why doesn’t everyone purchase used bourbon barrels? Key is that whiskey barrels are produced differently than wine barrels. Whiskey barrels are charred on the inside verses wine barrels which are toasted. By only toasting wine barrels, the wine while aging develops many nuances of flavor. Bourbon barrel aged wines tend to be bold with ripe reds, vanilla, smoky and with muted tannins.

 

The use of bourbon barrel aging has taken off more recently with wineries using these barrels. Some view it as a trend to attract Millennials who buy whiskies. Others view it as a cross over from spirits to wine and yet the resulting wine is unique, smooth and provides an enjoyable sipping experience.  The spirits barrel aged category of wine earned $91 million in 2018 compared to $800,000 in 2015. This market is exploding due to the flavor profile not just with Millennials but with wine aficionados looking to enhance their experience.

 

Wood Family Vineyards 2018 Against the Grain

 

The 2018 release uses the following blends: 28% Merlot, 28% Syrah, 14% Mourvèdre, 9% Petite Sirah, 7% Malbec, 7% Petit Verdot and 7% Cabernet Franc. Each year it is a different blend. All the components of the blend are aged in traditional wine barrels (30% new and mostly French oak) before blending and transferring to the bourbon barrels. The first year production was 2016 with 43 cases produced, 2017 it increased to 88 cases and the 2018 vintage, 138 cases were produced. This year Rhonda Wood purchased 6 “new/ 1 time used” bourbon barrels to infuse her wine! This vintage was aged nine weeks in bourbon barrels.

 

The wine on the eyes was a cavernous purple coloration with medium heavy viscosity.  On the nose, the flavors of Syrah like blueberry, mocha and roasted coffee came to mind. The first sip on the palate detonating the senses with a smooth bourbon along with some jammy, cinnamon, smoke and dark berry characteristics of the actual wine blend. The finish was equally pronounced with smoothness, smoke and a hint of bourbon on the back of the throat. The tannins were unnoticeable but layers of flavor and structure were present due to the wines used and the bourbon barrels. This year’s wine comes in at 15.8% alcohol.

 

The Food Pairing

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With so much intensity in the wine, paired it with a seared BBQ Filet Mignon drizzled with a Point Reyes Blue Cheese and chive butter. Added a dollop when plated. A garden salad and artichoke capped the meal. The wine held up and enhanced the meat tremendously.

 

Conclusion

 

I had purchased the 2016 and 2017 and as soon as the 2018 is released on July 29th, I will be adding it to the cellar. It is really a wine to be consumed. Rhonda states on the back of the bottle “let this bold wine, with unique bourbon influences of vanilla, caramel and smoke, remind us to step outside of the box, go against the grain and have a little fun in this life of ours”. Truer words could not sum up this wine experience better!

 

 

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://woodfamilyvineyards.com/

2018 Maritana Le Russe Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley – An Alluring Wine

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Donald Patz has once again demonstrated his pundit with an almost perfect Pinot Noir!  His Maritana Vineyards showcasing his Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are exceptional.  The 2018 Maritana Le Russe (the Russian) is a Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley AVA in Sonoma County.

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Upon opening the bottle, you are astonished by the powerful and beautiful fragrance of this wine. The above picture seemed to capture the wafting aroma.

 

On the eyes, a deep ruby red with a slight translucence. On the nose, aromas of cherry and strawberries first awaken the senses. The enticement to sip is beckoning and compulsive. Upon the first taste, you are greeted with raspberry, strawberry, cinnamon and a hint of nutmeg.  The finish is long lasting with hearty tannins and oak present.

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I have consistently used the analogy of Pinot Noirs to a professional ballerina. This Pinot Noir is graceful, elegant, and powerful and possesses an appreciation of the strength/finesse of a ballerina. This wine has received 92 to points, but with age will garner an even higher rating.

 

To see other stories on Donald Patz’s wines click on the following:

 

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/06/21/2018-terminim-cepages-d-or-when-four-varietals-produce-a-great-wine/

 

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/06/19/2018-maritana-vineyards-pinot-noir-a-pinot-noir-for-cabernet-drinkers/

 

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2018/12/06/maritana-vineyards-four-aces-on-the-first-vintage/

 

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2018/08/15/secret-door-winery/

 

Enjoy this elegant Maritana Vineyards wine with just about any meal or by itself for a memorable experience.

 

Sláinte,


Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

http://maritanavineyards.com/

Two Whites Wines to Beat the Heat – Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay

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2019 Dave’s Porch Wine -Sauvignon Blanc

The current release is the 2019 and comes from Lake County AVA (northeast of Napa Valley). The 2019 has all the typical citrus flavors of Sauvignon Blanc but a bit less acidic than the 2018. You can also pick up honeydew melon to round out the flavors. It is light straw coloring on eye and is such a refreshing “porch pounder” in the late summer afternoon or early evening. 328 cases were produced. Dave Yewell sells this only to California residents and goes $120/case including tax & shipping.

 

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2015 Nickel & Nickel Stiling Vineyard – Chardonnay

On the eye, a light golden straw/hay coloring with medium body. On the nose, floral notes and minerality. On the palate, pear, green apple, citrus and honeydew dance in the mouth. Acidity is managed well with a hint of vanilla and a touch of oak on the finish. This is a refined and perhaps elegant Chardonnay. Stiling Vineyard, located in the Russian River Valley was planted in 1988. The vineyard is famous for the Goldridge sandy loam soils and ten acres are planted in Chardonnay. On line this retails around $55-$60.

 A great way to beat the heat!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwines.com

https://www.porch-wine.com

https://nickelandnickel.com/

Hindsight Wines Cabernet Sauvignon’s: Calistoga Estate & Howell Mountain

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The definition of hindsight is “understanding of a situation or event, only after it has happened or developed”.  For me having the opportunity to taste Hindsight’s wines was similar.  It is always noteworthy to try a wine you have heard about but have not experienced. It is even more pleasing to taste the wines and be impressed! Last night, with the help of two other Wine Society members, I tried a side by side comparison of two 2015 Cabernet Sauvignons’ by Hindsight Wines in Calistoga, Napa Valley. One was their Estate and the other their Howell Mountain. Two distinctly different and excellent wines.

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(Picture from Hindsight Wines)

The Winery

 

The winery is comprised of four owners all with unique and talented backgrounds.  Seth Gersch, the Managing Director, with a distinguished career in finance as VP of Morgan Stanley, Montgomery Securities, President and CEO of Bank of America Securities, Private Equity firm of Fox & Paine Company as Chief Operating Officer. Seth is a member of the Board of Directors of Global Indemnity and worked with the Board of the SF 49’ers Foundation which is the charitable arm of the team. Alisa is a physician and Sommelier.  Dr. Gean joined the UCSF faculty in 1989 as the Chief of Neuroradiology at San Francisco General Hospital, where she has worked for the last 28 years. Today she is Professor Emeritus, Neuroradiology, at UCSF Hospital and holds various titles in the wine world of education and achievement (too long to list!).  Jac Cole is the winemaker. His background has been with Chateau St. Jean, Mt Palomar, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Charles Krug Winery, and Spring Mountain Winery. He launched a consulting business in 2013 with Hindsight being one of his customers. William Boykin is the National Sales Manager with an extensive career of 43 years in sales and marketing wines in the US and internationally.  Those include Inglenook, VP of NDC, VP of Seagram Chateau and Estate and created brands from scratch such as Cielo Tequila and Southwell Bourbon.

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Their collective goal, simply stated, is to offer Napa Valley wines that over deliver in quality, yet remain reasonably priced. This is what every wine consumer would like a winery to state! They produce a 100% Cabernet wine, a red blend (“Retrospective”), a Chardonnay and the two reds I will be discussing, both Cabernet Sauvignons from different vineyards.

 

The Wines

 

2015 Hindsight Wines, Estate 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is from their Calistoga vineyard location at the top of Napa Valley just northeast of the town of Calistoga. With a late season cold snap, this vineyard saw less than half of their normal yield. On the eyes, a bit lighter rim around the glass than the Howell Mountain. On the nose, soft floral notes and medium to medium heavy viscosity. On the palate, soft and rounded Cabernet Sauvignon filled the mouth. It was balanced and juicy. It could go with literally any dish! The finish was round, lush and medium with fresh red fruit. Aged in 60% new French oak barrels for 20 months. The Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is listed at $75.

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The second Hindsight Wines was their 2015 Howell Mountain 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Bella Vetta Vineyard, Napa Valley. This is a vineyard which Jac Cole owns and maintains on Howell Mountain at 2,000 foot elevation along the La Jota Ridge.  Jac the winemaker states due to a late spring cold snap, the yield was less than 50%. The good news: those vines produced grapes that provided intense flavor. On the eyes, a comparison darker fruit in the glass due to a longer extraction by the winemaker. Medium to medium heavy viscosity. On the nose, distinct blackberries and raspberries waft into the nose. On the palate, some dark cocoa, soft pipe tobacco, plum and licorice. Angular tannins and multi-layered structure provide a finish of delight and quality. Almost two years of aging in 60% new French oak barrels. This is Napa Valley mountain fruit at its best!   This again rated a high mark in “my book” of the Best Wines of 2020 and will be noted as one of the Best at the end the year. BTW, as of today when this article is being written, they have a tremendous sale of their wines by the case at 50%!! See their website for details but it will not last long! This wine normally goes for $95/bottle.

 

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The Food Pairing

We tasted each wine with a twenty-four hour Chaka marinated seared tri-tip steak. Served with roasted potatoes with parmesan cheese, pan roasted Brussel sprouts with olive oil and drizzled balsamic vinegar, sliced portabella BBQ mushrooms and a fresh garden salad with blue cheese dressing. The tri-tip and wine pairing was stunning and simply simpatico with each other. Both wines were enjoyable and thought highly over the course of the dinner.  The favorite was the Howell Mountain with the nose, long lasting tannins, and layered structure that just beat the Estate by a mere ½ point!

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So the conclusion for Hindsight Wines, both the wine and my personal hindsight, is why wasn’t Hindsight Wines in my vision?  As Alisa quoted in an email to me “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it”—George Santayana. I for one have learned from Hindsight! Taking this Hindsight Wine review into consideration, I now have a clear line of sight as to what wines I will be adding to my cellar. In fact this morning placed my order!!

 

Sláinte,

 

Michael

https://californiawinesandwines.com

http://www.hindsightwines.com/

2018 Lavender Ridge Roussanne – A Refreshing White Wine With Shrimp

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Last night’s dinner was a shrimp pasta dish. With the 2018 Lavender Ridge Roussanne it was “perfect”! This Roussanne is powerful with floral aromatics, with hints of peaches, pears and provided a rich and silky smooth mouthful texture. The fullness of body, almost a creamy sense, is the key contributor making this a unique wine! Roussanne brings more acidity, elegance and aromatic complexities to the wine. Lavender Ridge 2016 Roussanne won Double Gold at the 2018 Sierra Foothills Wine Competition. The  2016 and 2018 releases are now a standard fixture in the wine cellar and a nice change up from Chardonnay! This retails for $28.

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To read more about Lavender Ridge, see a previous article: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/04/08/traveling-to-wine-regions-while-staying-in-place-today-lavender-ridge-vineyard-in-murphys-california-in-the-sierra-foothills/

 

Slainte,

 

Michael
https://californiawinesandwineries.com
https://lavenderridgevineyard.com/

Vinoce 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville – The Real McCoy!

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If you ever want to experience what the hoopla is about Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, try this 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville.  Previously, I had a side by side comparison of the 2017 Vinoce St Helena and 2016 Vinoce Mt Veeder. Both were excellent and the story can be found at:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/06/14/vinoce-cabernet-sauvignon-torn-between-two-loves-from-napa-valley/

 

The Winery

 

Brian and Lori Nuss are the founders of Vinoce. The meaning of Vinoce (vin-o-chay) is a play on his name and German-Italian background. In German “nuss” translates as “nut”. In Italian “noce” means nut and thus Vinoce means “wine nut”. 

Here is another link to a previous story on Vinoce:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/05/18/vinoce-vineyards-2016-mt-veeder-cabernet-franc/

 

 

The Wine

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This Cabernet Sauvignon on the eyes is dark red. In fact even with sunlight behind the glass it is a dense dark red with medium heavy viscosity. The dark fruit of a classical Oakville wine is found on the nose and palate with blackberry, black plum, pipe tobacco and a hint of black licorice. Toasted Oak provides a background for raspberry and expresso to show just a little edginess. The finish is a bursting mouthful with silky but not fully tamed tannins and well balance and long lasting.

 

The Food Pairing

 

The wine was complimented this evening with a BBQ shish kebab Filet Mignon beef, green & red bell peppers, pineapples and purple onion. Marinated in a wonderful sauce of vegetable oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, prepared mustard, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, coarsely cracked black pepper and pink Himalayan Sea salt. Accompanied by Portabella BBQ mushrooms, roasted Brussel sprouts with olive oil and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  Add cut and roasted potatoes with Parmesan cheese  with a few spices and a complete and harmonious meal was in store.

 

Slainte,

 

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.vinoce.com/