Month: December 2020

2014 Feudo Marccari Saia Nero d’ Avola from Sicily

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The Winery


Dr. Antonio Moretti besides owning Feudo Maccari in Sicily, also has Tenuta Sette Ponti near Arezzo and Poderi Orma in Bolgheri. Dr. Moretti and his daughter purchased several small properties in Sicily near the town of Noto, southeastern portion of the island. These older vineyards are located about 1 mile from the sea which provides cooling breezes, which mitigates the searing heat in southern Sicily. The vines are “alberello” (literally meaning tree-like) and are head pruned. The estate produces Nero d’Avola, Grillo as well as two reserve wines Saia from d’Avola and Maharis from Syrah.

The Wine


This 2014 Saia is opaque deep cherry red in color. It is a light viscosity, but do not be fooled as to its depth! On the nose and palate, a combination of red cherry, spices and oak are the first hints of what is to develop. Plum, blueberries and pepper are balanced with an underlying minerality from the volcanic and limestone soil. The finish was long and “woody from oak” with smooth tannins and a crisp acidity. This wine has received 93 points from James Suckling which is remarkable for a $30-32 wine! The wine is aged 12-14 in oak and 6 months in the bottle before release.

The Food Pairing

The meal last evening was Chicken Parmesan with Bucatini pasta. A homemade Salsa di Pomodoro recipe from our friend Darlene Besst, made the meal exquisite. The chicken and pasta was topped off with the sauce and fresh parmesan. The dish was accompanied with steamed broccoli. The acidity in the wine was a perfect match for the acid in the tomato based sauce.


Sláinte,


Michael
https://californiawinesandwineries.com
https://www.feudomaccari.it/

2017 Oakville-East Cabernet Franc, Franc ‘N Stern – It’s Alive!

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The Name: Franc ‘N Stern

The name is intriguing as is Elliot Stern, owner, who has called his Cabernet Franc, Franc ‘N Stern since the introduction. I met Elliot many, many years ago and went through his lineup of wines at his kitchen table. I immediately enjoyed his Cabernet Sauvignon and the Cabernet Franc. I have always kept both in the cellar as “trophy wines”. The Franc ‘N Stern Cab Franc is an easily remembered name and his wine notes are whimsical and play on the “Frankenstein” theme. His notes alone are price worthy.

The Wine

The wine is extremely dark purple with crimson red hues. On the nose, dark fruits, pipe tobacco, dark chocolate and fresh ground black pepper. On the palate, spices, including bell pepper, along with blackberries swarm the mouth with enticing polarizing flavors. Rounded tannins with some edginess provides a medium long finish. As Elliot states in his humorous notes, “IT’S ALIVE, IT’S ALIVE!! This wine retails for $100 and is worth every penny. At this year’s recent National Cabernet Franc Competition it received both a Gold and Silver Medals from two sets of judges.

The Food Pairing

Paired this evening with a flavorful Andouille Cajun Rice Skillet dish. The dish included brown rice, olive oil, sliced Andouille sausage, sliced red bell pepper, sliced yellow bell pepper, sliced yellow onion, minced fresh garlic, kosher salt, Cajun seasoning, tomato paste, sliced Roma tomato, minced parsley and shrimp added for good measure. Accompanied by a fresh garden salad. The meal was absolutely delicious but perhaps a bit too powerful for the wine. After dinner, the wine came to life and was spot on!!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://oakvilleeast.com/

2018 Hunter Glenn Chardonnay — Understated Elegance

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The Winery

To start out who is Hunter Glenn? It is a sister/brother duo of Caroline Shifflett and Jeffrey Shifflett, Jr. The name came about as Caroline’s middle name is Hunt and Jeffrey is Glenn. Changing the name to Hunter made more sense than “Hunt Glenn”!! The family has a long history in Napa Valley. It started in 1942 with the purchase of 120 acres in the foothills of the Mayacamas Range. Originally used for farming and later for cattle grazing, but in the late 1970’s they planted 60 acres of grapes. In 1981 the first Chardonnay was planted and from that point albeit with a few bumps in the road like Phylloxera, Pierce’s Disease and weather variables, they have endured to produce some outstanding wines over the last 30 years. Today they produce Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and a red blend. Additionally they produce an award winning Cabernet Franc, which just won a Silver Medal from two sets of judges at the National Cabernet Franc Wine Competition hosted by California Wines and Wineries. More about that in another story.

The 2018 Hunter Glenn Chardonnay

Looked for different Chardonnay this evening to have with dinner. It didn’t take long to find the 2018 Hunter Glenn Chardonnay. On the eyes, a light glistening golden yellow color. On the nose Bartlett pears was the dominate aroma with a floral note of jasmine. On the palate, the pear moved to the background and Delicious apples and a slight lemon citrus presented itself on each sip. The finish was crisp, mild and enjoyable yet beckoning one to take another sip to discover its layers of refreshment. The wine uses 25% new French oak and underwent 50% secondary malolactic fermentation but did not allow it to turn into a “butterball” Chardonnay.

The Food Pairing

Paired with a chicken Piccata and served with a mix of long grain and brown rice. The very slight “citrus” of the wine, was a perfect introduction and transition to the chicken Piccata cooked with lemon.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://hunterglenn.com/

Silenus Winery – Zeus, Dionysus and Silenus!

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The Winery Name


The name goes back to Greek mythology. While we all know about Zeus and Dionysus, Silenus is a bit more obscure. Zeus, the god of all gods, had a son named Dionysus, known as the god of wine. When Dionysus was born, Zeus appointed Silenus to teach his son in the ways of enjoying the finer things in life, including wine drinking! They traveled together throughout their known world planting grapevines and raising bees for pollination while indulging in copious amounts of wine. In order to be known as they traveled, they carried a fennel stalk topped with a pinecone as a sign of hospitality. The Silenus label incorporates all of these elements: the grapevine, the fennel staff with a pinecone and bees.

The Winery

Founded in 1968 by Bruce Newlan, this 20 acre property went through many changes. The property is in the southern end of Napa Valley in the Oak Knoll District. In the 1970’s they sold many of their grapes to “upstarts” Mondavi and Inglenook. Realizing the quality of their grapes they chose in 2008 (with new ownership) to introduce their first vintage with the name Silenus on the bottle. Today Scott Meadows is President of Silenus Winery. They offer many varietals: Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose and a couple of blends. Several of the wines are for Club Members Only.

The Wine–2017 Silenus Cabernet Franc


The 2017 Silenus Cabernet Franc was entered into the National Cabernet Franc Wine Competition held on December 3rd, 2020. Their wine was awarded Double Gold by the People’s Choice Judges and a Silver Medal from the Professional Judges. The 2017 Silenus Cabernet Franc also was awarded the Best of Class by the People’s Choice Judges in the $31 to $50 category. This wine uses 89.2% Estate grown Cabernet Franc and 10.8% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is aged in 50% new French oak barrels for 22 months. they only produced 56 cases and will run out soon. On the eyes, it has a nice dark crimson color, with reserved aromas of blackberry, raspberries and earthiness. On the palate, black licorice, soft pipe tobacco with a hint of oak swirl in the mouth. The finish with its soft and rounded tannins and mild pyrazine (bell pepper flavor), provided a mid-lasting crescendo to the tasting.

The Food Pairing

Paired last evening with a seared Beef Filet to medium rare this wine was spectacular in its balance with the meat. Accompanying it was a Yukon potato and a fresh garden salad with Blue cheese dressing. A wonderful food pairing even Silenus would be pleased with today!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

Best of Class Winners at National Cabernet Franc Wine Competition

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To highlight the Professional Judges choices of Best of Class (5 based on price ranges) from the Cabernet Franc Wine Competition held December 3rd. Here they are: 2017 Diamond Mountain Vineyard Double Gold, Vinoce 2018 Mt Veeder Double Gold, 2017 Steven Kent Winery Double Gold, 2017 Cuda Ridge Wines Gold and 2015 Shale Canyon Gold. All these wines are excellent and deserve your attention.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

National Cabernet Franc Wine Competition Results Are In — Happy Cabernet Franc Day!

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This was a great showing with 11 states and over fifty wines in the competition. This with the devastating fires on the west coast, Arizona and Colorado. Add the Covid-19 Pandemic, and the California Governor threating a “Stay at Home” order, we still managed to hold the competition outdoors at Copper Valley Golf Course facility. We had two last minutes changes with the People’s Judges due to family Covid-19 issues, but were fortunate to have several friends step up to judge. Again, this event was a blind competition (bagged bottles) and five classes of wines based on price range assigned.

The Professional Judges (Tom Bender, Rudy Zuidema, Tana Cole and Debra Miller) awarded 2017 Diamond Mountain Winery Best of Show.

The Listing for Double Gold, Gold and Silver from the Professional Judges were as follows (*denotes Best of Class and *** denotes Best of Show):

Silver – 2017 Pear Valley Vineyards & Winery, Paso Robles, Ca.

Silver – 2014 Grizzly Peak Winery, Oregon

Silver – 2017 Winery at Black Star Farm, Michigan

*Gold – 2015 Shale Canyon Winery, Carmel (Arroyo Seco grapes), Ca.

Silver – 2018 12 Corners Vineyards, Michigan

Silver – 2018 Buckel Family Wine, Colorado

Silver –2016 Jackalop Wine Cellars, Oregon

Silver – 2017 Ciccone Vineyards & Winery, Michigan

Silver – 2017 Mineral Wines, Murphys, Ca.

Silver – 2017 Cathedral Ridge Winery, Oregon

*Gold – 2017 Cuda Ridge Winery, Livermore, Ca.

Silver – 2017 Lemon Creek Winery, Michigan

Silver – 2017 Kenefick Ranch, Calistoga, Ca.

Silver – 2018 Cuda Ridge Winery, Livermore, Ca.

Silver – 2018 Lemon Creek Winery, Michigan

Silver – 2017 Dracaena Wines Reserve, Paso Robles, Ca.

Silver –2016 Rosa Fierro Cellars, Livermore, Ca.

Silver – 2018 Wood Family Vineyards, Livermore, Ca.

Silver – 2017 Leisure Street Winery (Clarksburg grapes), Livermore, Ca.

Silver – 2017 Silenus Winery, Oak Knoll, Ca.

Silver – 2018 Yorkville Cellars, Mendocino, Ca.

Silver – 2017 Darcie Kent Vineyards, Livermore, Ca.

Silver – 2018 Brecon Estate, Paso Robles, Ca.

*Double Gold – 2017 Steven Kent Winery, Livermore, Ca.

Silver – 2014 PureCru Winery, Napa Valley, Ca.

Gold – 2018 Brecon Reserve, Paso Robles, Ca.

Gold – 2016 PureCru Winery, Napa Valley, Ca.

Silver – 2017 Oakville East, Oakville, Ca.

*Gold – 2018 Vinoce Vineyard, Mt Veeder, Ca.

Silver – 2017 Hunter Glenn Estate, Napa Valley, Ca.

*, ***Double Gold – 2017 Diamond Mountain Vineyard, Diamond Mtn., Ca.

Gold – 2016 Palazzo Wine, St Helena, Ca.

Gold – 2017 Shadybrook Estate, Coombsville, Ca.

The Listing for Double Gold, Gold and Silver from the People’s Choice Judges (Steve Besst, Gary Miller, Darlene Besst and Candy Strubbe) awarded Best of Show to 2018 Vinoce Vineyards. Read their awards below (*denotes Best of Class and *** denotes Best of Show):

*Gold – 2014 Grizzly Peak, Colorado

Silver – 2019 Jeff Runquist Wines, (Clarksburg grapes), Amador, Ca.

Silver – 2017 Mineral Wines, Murphys, Ca.

Silver – 2018 Lemon Creek Winery, Michigan

Silver – 2017 Dracaena Wines, Paso Robles, Ca.

Silver — 2017 Narmada Reserve, Virginia

Gold – 2016 Rosa Fierro Cellars, Livermore, Ca.

Silver – 2018 Wood Family Vineyards, Livermore, Ca.

Gold – Leisure Street Winery, Livermore, Ca.

*Double Gold – 2017 Silenus Winery, Oak Knoll, Ca.

Silver – 2017 Garre Vineyard, Livermore, Ca.

Silver – 2016 Narmada Wine Reserve, Virginia

*Double Gold – 2018 Brecon Estate Reserve, Paso Robles, Ca.

Gold – 2017 Steven Kent Winery, Livermore, Ca.

Silver – 2014 PureCru Winery, Napa Valley, Ca.

Silver – 2018 Brecon Estate Reserve, Paso Robles, Ca.

Silver – 2016 PureCru Winery, Napa Valley, Ca.

Gold – 2017 Oakville East, Oakville, Ca.

*, ***Double Gold – 2018 Vinoce Vineyards, Ca.

Silver – 2017 Hunter Glenn Estate, Napa, Ca.

*Double Gold – 2017 Diamond Mountain Vineyard, Diamond Mtn., Ca.

Gold – 2016 Palazzo Wine, St Helena, Ca.

Gold – 2017 Shadybrook Estate, Coombsville, Ca.

Other participating wines/wineries won a Bronze Medal and only a few were given “no award”.  

Some interesting observational and statistical facts:

–Professional & People’s Choice Judges awarded exactly the same to 11 wines.

–Professional & People’s Choice Judges awarded to 42 wineries (within one ranking!)

–Professional & People’s Choice Judges awarded two Best of Class to the same winery!

–Professional Judges awarded Shale Canyon last year as Best of Class and again this year (remember it is blind tasting)

–Both sets of Judges awarded a wide range of AVA’s with Double Gold, Gold and Silver awards throughout the United States.

First, I want to thank all the wineries competing, being winners in my mind for putting out their “children” to be evaluated. Secondly, I want to thank the Professional and People’s Choice Judges for the difficult work of sorting through the wines and making some tight and a few difficult decisions.  Thirdly, I want to thank the wine runners and assistants who kept the event on schedule. Fourthly, I want to thank Lori Budd, co-founder of Cabernet Franc Day who took time out of her day to attend the event. Lastly, I want to thank Rick Watts and his staff, Food & Beverage Manager at Vine 18, Copper Golf Club, for helping logistically and his flexibility working with the various Covid-19 restrictions and government directives in providing a safe environment for all to participate.

Specific stories and wine reviews will be forthcoming on all Double Gold, Gold, Silver, Best of Class and Best of Show winners at https://Californiawinesandwineries.com .

Next year’s event will be include international Cabernet Franc wineries and wines! Assuming by December of next year, the pandemic is behind us, we will open this up to the public and it will be a two day event with food pairings, wine tasting, papers, speeches, etc.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

Nebbiolo and Barbaresco Wines Tonight

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Starting off the month rogue with a quick visit to Italy, Piedmont in the northern portion of the country.

History of Nebbiolo

If you notice the labeling on the two bottles one states Barbaresco and the other Nebbiolo. Yet both contain 100% Nebbiolo grapes. There are areas in Piedmont, Italy where a small portion of “other grapes” can be added but that is not within the scope of this story. Nebbiolo has been around since the 1200’s, with some controversy as to its origin in Italy. Some state Piedmont was the origin and other state further to the east in Italy. The first written comment about Nebbiolo is from 1268 and was from more easterly Italy. Nebbiolo comes from the word nebbia meaning “fog”. Fog forms in the valleys but the vineyards of Piedmont Nebbiolo are in the sunshine above the fog.

Characteristics of Nebbiolo

Nebbiolo is a thick skinned, late harvesting grape. Key flavors and aromas are pronounced roses, cranberry, sour cherries, leather, and strong minerality along with red fruits. Most notable are the mouth puckering and lip smacking tannins. Most Nebbiolos are best served many years after their release date to allow the tannins to settle down. In the glass they can appear light colored and translucent around the edges, but do not be fooled that you are about to be greeted by a “light weight wine”! The acidity and tannins are almost unmatched in red wines.

The two wines selected for tonight’s meal where spot on with these characteristics. Both enjoyable with one being a DOC (La Spinetta) and the other a DOCG (Socre). Surprisingly, both were delicious and the DOCG had “less tannins” after a while in the glass. Both were double decanted and allow to breathe for almost two hours. The La Spinetta list price was around $30 and the Socre was about $65. For the value I preferred the La Spinetta.

The Wines

2014 La Spinetta Lange Nebbiolo DOC. A lighter color, rustic, rose petals and with strong acidity and tannins. A very distinct Nebbiolo from Piedmont, Langhe DOC from vineyards in Neive. Fresh cherry fruit with leather and pronounced tannins. Aged 12 months in Oak and 6 months in the bottle before release.

2012 Socre Barbaresco DOCG. On the eyes, garnet red in color with a medium body. Spicy notes, intense with dried plums and cherries. Noticed as it warmed up in the glass, the tannins and acidity fell back in place as there but not having the sharp edges when it was initially opened.

The Food Pairing

Tonight for dinner was a pork roast with a tasty rub of olive oil, garlic and seasonings. Served with fluffy mashed potatoes and a fresh garden salad with the wine, brought one back to the hills of Piedmont. An excellent pairing                               

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.la-spinetta.com/