Month: April 2021

2017 Acre Zinfandel – A Tale of “One Acre, One Guy, One Wine”

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The Winery

“One Acre, One Guy, One Wine” slogan is the quintessential meaning behind their wines and success. It started in 2002 with Dave Becker, who founded the One Acre label with just one acre of Cabernet Sauvignon planted at his family home in the Oak Knoll region of the Napa Valley. The success of One Acre led to the launch of Acre Wines, a portfolio of classic wines from sustainably farmed, family-owned estate vineyards in Napa Valley.

Industry veterans, Mike and Talley Henry purchased the winery in 2017. Together, with well-known consulting winemaker Richard Bruno, they continue to carry on the One Acre and Acre Wines legacy that Dave created nearly two decades ago. Today, the One Acre portfolio includes an Oak Knoll Cabernet sourced from Dave’s original one acre vineyard, and a Yountville Cabernet Sauvignon, planted on one acre with identical clones, varietal, spacing and row orientation as the Oak Knoll Cabernet to be able to understand and appreciate the differences of “terroir”. The highly acclaimed Acre portfolio includes a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc sourced from family-owned vineyards within the stellar AVA’s of Oakville, Yountville, Calistoga, and Stags Leap.

The Wine

The 2017 Acre Zinfandel was a deep purple and ruby red coloring on the eyes. The aromas of red and black fruit engulfed the olfactory senses. On the palate, one juicy Zinfandel opened up with raspberry, blackberry and most pronounced blueberry tastes. Secondary notes of vanilla and cinnamon were present. This was no Amador “fruit bomb” Zinfandel, but rather a well-balanced fruit wine with restrained tannins and acidity providing a “mouthful experience”. The finish was “juicy and long lasting” with a tinge of earthiness and herbal qualities which made for such an enjoyable wine. The grapes came from two separate vineyards and is 90% Zinfandel with 10% Syrah grapes. The wine was aged 15 months using both American and European barrels, with 70% being new. The wine alcohol percentage is 14.9%. It also won Best in Class for Zinfandel at the American Fine Wine Competition in 2020 (right before the shutdown) with 94 points The winery website shows this selling for $29.

The Food and Wine Pairing

I had not previously tasted Acre wines but being from Napa Valley, figured it would be more of a dry Zinfandel. As previously noted, my assumption was incorrect. Paired with pork chops prepared with mushrooms and butter sauce along with a brown rice and a fresh garden salad.  The meal was delicious and flavorful. Unfortunately this Zinfandel was so big, vibrant and beautiful it overpowered the pork dish. My error, not the wine or the meal. You win some and you lose some. That said I just found one of the best Zinfandel’s I have ever experienced! I usually don’t comment on wine bottle labels, but this bottle is beautiful.

Additionally, Talley Henry mentioned they enjoy their Zinfandel on a regular basis. Some of their favorite pairings are with pizzas, pulled pork with house-made slaw on Hawaiian sweet rolls, shredded white chicken chili, beef chili and braised short ribs.

I am sure there are many other dishes this pairs well with and will continue to experiment!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://acrewines.com

2017 Mineral Wines Cabernet Franc – Winner of 2 Silver Medals

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At the National Cabernet Franc Wine Competition held December 2nd, 2020, Mineral Wines earned a Silver Medal Award by both the Professional and the People’s Choice Judges for their 2017 Cabernet Franc. This was Mineral Wines first year entering the wine competition and this is considered a solid showing. You can read more about the event at:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/12/04/national-cabernet-franc-wine-competition-results-are-in-happy-cabernet-franc-day/

Brett Keller and his wife Andrea own Mineral Wines. Brett started out in Hospitality Management but eventually went back to school earning his degree in Viticulture and Enology in 2003. When Brett and Andrea moved back to Angels Camp (Calaveras County), Brett took over management of Andrea’s family 4 acre Cherokee Creek Vineyard. Initially this property grew exclusively Merlot, but subsequently Brett grafted three acres of vineyard to Roussanne, Viognier and Petite Sirah. These are the main stay and define Mineral Wines today. In addition, they produce a Zinfandel, Malbec, various Meritage blends, Barbera and Cabernet Sauvignon. Their tasting room is located at 419 B Main St. Murphys, CA.

The Wine

The 2017 Mineral Wine Cabernet Franc is a deep crimson color on the eyes and medium viscosity. On the nose aromas of violets, black fruits and black cherry abound. On the palate, blackberry, cigar tobacco, balanced with a subtle vanilla spice presents a very drinkable Cabernet Franc. The finish has the typical pyrazine (green bell pepper) but it is in the background providing a smooth finish. The tannins are tame and enjoyable. The current release is the 2018 and it sells for $34.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://mineralwines.com

2018 Yorkville Cellars Cabernet Franc – Silver Medal Winner!

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At the National Cabernet Franc Wine Competition held December 2nd, 2020, Yorkville Cellars 2018 Cabernet Franc earned a Silver Medal Award by the Professional Judges. You can read more about the event at:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/12/04/national-cabernet-franc-wine-competition-results-are-in-happy-cabernet-franc-day/

Who is Yorkville Cellars?

They are a family owned winery located in the rolling hills of southern Mendocino County around 800 to 1,000 feet elevation. They are proud of their relationship with the land having been certified by the California Certified Organic Framers in 1986 (long before fashionable!). So over three decades, no synthetic pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers have been introduced. Truly an Organic Wine. Additionally, they maintain California Certified Sustainable Vineyard status. Their mission is to produce the six red (adding in the lost varietal of Carmenere) Noble grapes of Bordeaux as stand-alone wines as well as producing a Bordeaux blend from their estate 16 acres. All wine is hand harvested and hand sorted for quality fruit to make into each bottle.  They also make a Sauvignon Blanc and white blend of Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon.

Who are owners and winemaker? Deborah and Edward Wallo are the Founders and Winegrowers of Yorkville Cellars. Deborah was raised in England and knew European wines. Edward, spent a lot of time in Europe working as an international Marketing manager. There they both appreciated the wines of Europe, especially the Bordeaux’s out of France. They lived in France, Germany and northern Italy (near Lake Como) where they were able to explore many vineyards and wineries.

In the mid 1980’s, they purchased the land and their intent was to be stewards of the land as vineyard managers. They sought to produce the varietals that played in the classic Bordeaux blend.  Originally wanting to sell their grapes as vineyard growers, it soon became apparent they should cultivate, bottle and present their own brand to the wine world. Besides the experience in Europe, Edward continued his education doing course work at both UC Davis and Sonoma State University. Today their production quantities range from 6,000 to 8,000 cases a year with production totaling 14 wines. Typically only 300-400 cases per varietal or type of wine is produced. All their wines are meticulously hand produced. Edward and Deborah do the vineyard management, choose dates to pick, and make the wine. They have been doing this for 26 years.

2018 Yorkville Cellars Cabernet Franc

On the eyes this medium weight with a vibrant and royal purplish coloration beckons the adventure to unfold. On the nose soft violet aromas coupled with plums and cherries awaken the senses. On the palate, cherries and a spiciness of everything quintessential to Cabernet Franc present themselves (dried figs, raisin, raspberry, vanilla, sage) in a joyful reunion in the mouth. The tannins are held in check and balanced nicely with the acid (6.3 g/l for acid and 3.70 pH). The abbreviated finish is complex and structured.  The 2018 vintage is 90% Cabernet Franc with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon providing just enough structure and body but does not overshadow the Cabernet Franc.

Wine and Food Pairing

Just a wonderful BBQ’ed burger topped with red onions, bell peppers (red, yellow, orange), lime juice, lime oil, salt, black pepper, olive oil and cilantro (left over from ceviche lunch!). And accompanied with steak fries. A beautiful pairing of the wine and food.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.yorkvillecellars.com

YoungInglewood 2014 Malbec and Portuguese Sausage

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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. And another reason they are one of my favorite wineries is that the owners (Jim & Jacky) and Scott (son) along with Jacky making the wine, are some of the most genuinely gracious people in Napa Valley. Their daughter Mary is involved in the marketing/business of the winery.  Also their Wine Education Director/Membership Director, a longtime friend Mark Simon is always there to help out in various capacities. Their label says so much about their wine with the balancing of the tightrope walker. 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 year’s 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, plum 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.  They typically make 1-2 barrels a year. The current release, the 2016, sells for $95.

The Food Pairing

Paired this evening with a Rigatoni with Portuguese sausage and peppers. Prepared with bell peppers (thinly sliced and assorted colors), yellow onion, tomatoes, kosher salt, black pepper, fresh Italian parsley, fresh basil and topped with grated parmesan cheese.  The wine with the fruit contrasted harmoniously with the meal.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

http://www.younginglewood.com/

A Special Lunch Today With a Great Wine – Dave’s Porch Wine, 2019 Sauvignon Blanc

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It isn’t often I talk about value wines, but this is no ordinary wine! Rudy Zuidema of Napa Valley fame, making wines for many “higher end wines” (up to $125+), is the winemaker for Dave’s Porch Wine. Dave Yewell set out ten years ago to make an everyday table wine for his immediate family and extended friends after retirement. It really started as a home hobby and for the first two years as it was just family and friends appreciating the wine. He makes just two wines, a Sauvignon Blanc and a GSM blend.

2019 Sauvignon Blanc


Today’s lunch wine was the 2019 and comes from Lake County AVA (northeast of Napa Valley). I now have in the cellar the 2018 and just purchased the 2019. The 2019 has all the typical citrus flavors of Sauvignon Blanc. 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. It is sold only in case quantities and is $120/per case!!!  Yes this is for California residents primarily but Dave does have some associations in other states.  What a “DEAL”!!!
(Editor’s Note: After publishing this story Dave Yewell sent me a note mentioning he had just sold out, but the 2020 will be released in May, 2021)

The Food and Wine Lunch Pairing

Perhaps one of the best food and wine pairings in months!  Shrimp ceviche with red onions, bell peppers (red, yellow, orange), lime juice, lime oil, salt, black pepper, olive oil and cilantro. The flavors of ceviche and Dave’s Porch Wine were spectacular!!

This is a wine I have served to many, many people with total confidence in the quality of the product. The astonished reactions by people when the price is revealed is somewhere between non-believing to how can I order immediately. With so few cases produced it will go fast.


Michael
https://californiawinesandwineries.com
https://www.porch-wine.com/

Hunter Estate Vineyards 2017 Cabernet Franc – Two Silver Medals

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At the National Cabernet Franc Wine Competition held December 2nd,  2020, Hunter Glenn Estate Vineyards earned a Silver Medal by both the Professional and People’s Choice Judges for their 2017 Cabernet Franc. You can read more about the event at:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/12/04/national-cabernet-franc-wine-competition-results-are-in-happy-cabernet-franc-day/

Also other stories on Hunter Glenn Estate Vineyards wines can be found at:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/11/15/2017-hunter-glenn-estate-vineyard-merlot-a-cabernet-lovers-merlot

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/01/22/hunter-glenn-2017-chardonnay-2016-syrah/

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/12/08/2018-hunter-glenn-chardonnay-understated-elegance/

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, a red blend and Cabernet Franc.

The Wine

A deep royal purple on the eyes and medium heavy viscosity. On the nose aromatics of blueberries and raspberries awaken the senses. On the palate, a round and soft Cabernet Franc, still with tannins but caressing instead of sharp. The finish has a hint of pyrazines (green bell pepper) and is mid-length. This is an easily drinking Cabernet Franc with or without food. The wine is aged 21 months in 50% new French oak barrels and only 81 cases were produced. The wine sells for $80.

The Food Pairing

Paired last evening with prime rib with a spicy dry rub, Yukon Gold potatoes and broccoli. Uncut horseradish on the side for the prime rib. Not having tasted this wine before, it was a bit “too soft” for this meal. I think a stronger and more “chewy” Cabernet Franc would have worked better. This wine would be phenomenal with pasta and a Bolognese sauce, various pork dishes and even spicy paella.   After dinner and enjoying the second glass of wine, this proved to be extremely enjoyable and tasty without food.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://hunterglenn.com/

A Difficult Wine and Food Pairing – Seafood Marinara

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Our informal “Friday Night Wine & Dine” group arrived early at Vine18 restaurant to order the special of the evening, the Seafood Marinara dish.  The special was pre-published so the dilemma was which wine to pair? Simple seafood is easy to pair with a variety of white wines, but combined with a marinara pasta and sauce, it leaned towards a Pinot Noir or various Italian varietals. However I didn’t want to overpower the shrimp, scallops, clams and mussels.

The Wine

Went with one of my favorite varietals and winemakers Susan Tipton’s Acquiesce Winery and her 2018 Roussanne. On the eye is a light golden straw and medium viscosity. On the eye and palate, it possessed an elegant finesse with floral aromatics, hints of pear, apricots and with a rich and silky smooth mouthful texture almost creamy. The finish had a soft nutty texture of almond and a hint of honey with a distinct minerality with a medium long finish. Roussanne brings more acidity, elegance and floral aromatic complexities to the wine which makes it perfect for fish. The retail is $34. The wine has already made my Best Wines of 2020 list which is published at the end of each year.  Click on the previous articles on Acquiesce Winery:  

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2018/09/09/acquiesce-winery-vineyards-an-unique-offering/

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/04/09/traveling-to-wine-regions-while-staying-in-place-today-acquiesce-winery-in-acampo-california/

The Food and Wine Pairing

The seafood marinara dish included: sautéed shrimp, scallops, clams and mussels with light red sauce, pasta, and garlic bread. The meal was delicious and the wine pairing was very good. Should they offer this again, I might try this dish with a light red wine for a comparison.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

http://www.acquiescevineyards.com

A Different Twist – Grape Juice or Non-Alcoholic Wine?

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Recently I was sent three bottles from Castello di Amorosa called either non-alcoholic wine or grape juice. They seem to use the words interchangeably. More on that later. I have obviously done “lots of wine reviews” but this is the first “non-alcoholic wine or grape juice” review in my portfolio. I provided these wines to some of our local Wine Society drinkers as well as two “non-alcoholic drinkers in the neighborhood” to get their reactions, combined with mine.

Why?

The Director of Winemaking (Brooks Painter) and the Winemaker (Peter Velleno) were responding to customers who wanted a “healthy, flavorful and non-alcoholic alternative to wine”. The process of making the juices are similar to wine making (hand-harvested, delivered to crush pad, destemmed and pressed and chilled to 32 degrees). The key exception is yeast is not added to convert the sugars into alcohol.

Review

So let’s discuss the three non-vintage 750ml bottles that were sent. I will start off with the least favorite and move upward in acceptance.

  1. Gewurztraminer Grape Juice. This is from a vineyard in Anderson Valley, northwest of Sonoma in Mendocino County. The wines are screw cap and as soon as this was opened and smelled, you immediately got it was a Gewurztraminer grape.  Loved the nose on this but one sip and the sugar content was beyond belief. All three wines by sugar content were shown in Brix (18.5). The reaction of wine drinkers was fairly unwelcoming. The reception of non-wine drinkers was also similar. While enjoyable to taste Gewurztraminer grape juice knowing the wine, I don’t think anyone was too anxious to buy a bottle.
  • The second white wine tasted was a Muscat grape juice. The nose was extremely aromatic with lime & orange fragrances. Then on the palate, pear and stone fruit burst in the mouth. The finish had a strong honeysuckle taste. This was extremely enjoyable and thought it could easily pass as an after dinner cordial or white port drink. The non-drinkers state they would enjoy being at a holiday party or social gathering with this in a wine glass and feeling “less conspicuous” being a non-drinker.
  • The third wine is their Sparkling Grape Juice, which is a red blend of 90% Gamay, 5% Grenache and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon juice.  Very aromatic with red berries, primarily strawberries and cherry. This was a big hit with the non-wine drinkers stating this was equally as good as “sparkling apple cider” and provided a new option for gatherings. Die hard wine drinkers still felt it was a tad too sweet to be a considered option.

Some of the goals of Castello di Amorosa were to provide a healthy alternative to soda, provide a flavorful non-alcoholic drink, a fresh non-pasteurized product, express the fruit and flavor of a varietal through aroma and taste, offer it in a screwcap closure to ensure easy opening and retain freshness and lastly to provide a unique beverage.  These are many of the items that Millennials, Gen X and Gen Y are seeking in alternative drinks. The “tasting group” as a whole also liked it as a new alternative to non-alcoholic beer and could possible use the Muscat as an after dinner drink.

Two thoughts or item were brought up by the “tasting group”. One of the items brought up by three folks was wanting to understand the caloric and sugar content which is not labeled on the bottle. Some were pre-diabetic and thought the sugar levels were too high but lacked specific understanding on the label by the winery. Believe this needs to be improved to be a more universally accepted alternative drink, i.e. Percentage of Daily Sugar intake or Carbs. The item mentioned was in the naming of the product: Is it non-alcoholic wine (label) or grape juice (data sheets)?

In conclusion, there definitely was interest in the product and perhaps, allowing for a different demographic (we are all baby boomers) might have given this a decidedly “thumbs up”. Yet despite some objection to the sweetness, merit was established with both the wine drinkers and non-alcoholic drinkers. All three of the “non-alcoholic wines or grape juice” goes for $14 a bottle. So worth a try to taste something unique and somewhat uncommon, no matter what you call it!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://castellodiamorosa.com

Rosa Fierro Cellars – 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon “Call Me a Cab”

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The Winery

2021 is a break out year for Rosa Fierro Cellars. She recently won two Double Gold Medals at the 2021 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. They were for her 2019 “The Unoaked” Chardonnay and her 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon “Call Me a Cab”.

Rosa Fierro opened Rosa Fierro Cellars in 2014 and recently left her full time job and career as a legal assistant to concentrate 100% on the winery. “Rosie” as she is called, had worked in tasting rooms, made port in her garage and eventually worked with many of Livermore’s better winemakers at a production facility in Livermore. The winery is 100% woman owned and operated with women staff. Rosie specializes in hand crafted, limited production wines. Her grapes come from both Livermore and Napa Valleys. One of the key points of her winemaking is selecting the best grapes in the vineyard. Each varietal is limited to 50-200 cases. Those wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay (both oaked and unoaked versions), Merlot, a Rosé (from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes), Zinfandel, Primitivo, a Red Blend and her latest being the Cabernet Franc. Her total production is approximately 1,000 cases.  She has won many awards in a relatively short time. The tasting room is located at 2245 South Vasco Road, Livermore. The backgrounds on her and her staff on the website are especially creatively done! Rosie’s other passion is photography and her pictures adorn each unique label.

The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon “Call Me a Cab”

This is one powerful Cabernet Sauvignon! Aged for 36 months in French, American and Hungarian oak barrels. On the eyes a deep red crimson color and medium heavy viscosity. On the nose, strong aromas of oak and cherry. The first sip reminded me of some excellent Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons. On the palate, pipe tobacco, vanilla, leather and cocoa. All these flavors came together to form an intense yet soft drinking Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes for “Call Me a Cab” come from Livermore. 99% are from Thatcher Bay Vineyards for Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% from White Cat Vineyards for Cabernet Franc. The finish with just the right amount of tannins provide a long lasting memory. This could easily go another 5-7 years in storage! The price is $40.

This wine will make my Best Wines Tasted in 2021 published at the end of the year!  Nice job Rosie on this Double Gold Medal Winner.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.rosafierrocellars.com/

2018 Lavender Ridge Roussanne and Octopus!

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Another gathering of a few of the “informal Friday night Wine & Dine group” on Wednesday night! The host for the dinner provided BBQ’ed ribeye steaks, octopus, sweet potatoes, tuna poke and lamb. The guests brought lettuce cup wraps, salad, slices of baguette and dessert. And of course some wine!!

Octopus was a special treat and a fairly easy dish to pair with an assortment of wines. The reason being is the “neutral” taste of octopus. You can pair anything from Cabernet Sauvignon to Pinot Noir to Chardonnay. The Roussanne from Lavender Ridge Vineyards was a wonderful match and they are located in the town of Murphys, lower Sierra Nevada foothills. It was powerful with floral aromatics, with hints of peaches, pears and with a rich and silky smooth mouthful texture, almost creamy. Roussanne most times is blended with the Marsanne varietal but in this case it was 100% Roussanne. This retails also for $28. Marsanne adds the fat, richness, oily textures and sweetness to the wines, while Roussanne brings more acidity, elegance and aromatic complexities to the wine. To read more about Lavender Ridge click on a previous article:  

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2019/06/01/lavender-ridge-vineyard-you-get-to-pick-the-title-of-this-article/

The food was so delicious, which allowed no time to take many pictures. Suffice it to say, all was great! Here are two pictures from the evening.

A great evening for all.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://lavenderridgevineyard.com