Month: May 2021

“Wine and Dine Group” and the New Chef at Vine18, Copperopolis, California

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Our informal “Wine & Dine” group made reservations last Friday for dinner at Vine18. It had been closed for a week while a new Chef and new Food & Beverage Manager were hired. We really had no idea how “opening night” would turn out. As it came to pass, the new chef did an amazing job with the dishes that were served.

Everyone brought a wine to share, but we really had not pre-selected from the menu as we were waiting to see the food brought out to others to make a final decision. So the food and wine pairing were a bit secondary this evening. Just before we order to our amazement and enjoyment was the excellent bread service with olive oil and butter. This had disappeared a few months ago, and we as a group were so appreciative of having this reinstated.

First up for myself was an appetizer of shrimp tempura with a sweet chili and ponzu dipping sauce. The texture and presentation while not the quantity of previous presentations, was unique with it “breaded look” and taste was exceptional.

Next up was the entrée called Salmon en Papillote, salmon wrapped in parchment, cooked in white wine, Rosemary, shallots, thyme, lemons and confit garlic served over saffron rice and seasonal vegetables. One of the “old-timers” of our group who has been living up here for sixteen years claimed it was the best meal he had ever eaten at the club. While I have had many meals at the club with the Wine Society, that were elegant, this for a stable on the new menu was a true winner. The salmon was tender, moist and the flavors were light, delicate and heavenly.

Others that evening raved about two other dishes that were served. First was the Basa stuffed crab filet, a seared 6 ounce Basa filet topped with crab stuffing, champagne béarnaise served with saffron rice and seasonal vegetables. The second dish which several individuals chose was the special this evening of grilled Cajun chicken with penne pasta with caramelized onions, Cajun cream sauce, mixed with jack cheese and served with garlic toast.

We had an assortment of wine to accompany the meal including 2013 Leal Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (Hollister), 2018 Allegorie Tempranillo (Murphys), 2018 Dracaena Wines  Cabernet Franc Reserve (Paso Robles), 2016 Toulouse Zinfandel (Redwood Valley), 2018 Terra d’ Oro Zinfandel (Amador County), 2016 Frog’s Tooth Cabernet Franc, two homemade wines (old vine Zin and a blend) and a few others not shown.

Overall our impressions of the new chef were absolutely solid and new and different weekly special offerings will send this over the top to be a destination restaurant!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.coppervalleygolf.com

2010 Skipstone Faultline Vineyard – Aged to Perfection!

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Pulled this out of the cellar last night for a special friend. It had been laying down for over 8 years. This is a blend of 40% of Cabernet Franc, 38% of Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% of Merlot. Combining these three varietals allowed renown winemaker Phillipe Melka to bring forth some of the best qualities and depth of character for these Alexander Valley (California) grapes.

(picture from Skipstone Winery)

An interesting story on how the owner Fahri Diner came to own this remarkable vineyard. Recounting the story told to me by him eight years ago, he was undecided on purchasing the property. Located on the property was an irrigation pond. Perplexed, he told his wife, if he could skip a stone from one side to the other, he would buy the property. So not only the decision to move forward with the vineyard and winery, but the name seemed appropriate. He then convinced Phillipe Melka to be the winemaker and it was his sole winemaking venture in Alexander Valley at the time.

Faultline Vineyard is their interpretation of a Right-Bank Bordeaux blend. All three varietals come together with their own views but mesh like a well conducted symphony.  On the nose soft fragrances of blueberries, dark fruit, cinnamon, and Cuban cigars. On the palate, the berries (Blue & Black) and herbal qualities meshed seamlessly to provide a mellow taste. The Merlot inserted a juicy plum into the mix.  No hard edges considering the two Cabernets in the same bottle. It was smooth and tannins were sufficiently tamed to provide a balanced and enjoyable wine. The finish provided hints of chocolate and roasted light coffee. An exquisite wine for special occasions and food pairings. The current vintages goes for $165.

An absolutely marvelous bottle of wine and it will make my Best Wines Tasted in 2021 list for sure!

Sláinte,

Michael


https://californiawinesandwineries.com


https://www.skipstonewines.com

Grenache: One Grape Variety and Two Presentations

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Had a couple from our local Wine Society over last evening. It was a typical warm evening and thought a nice rosé would be appropriate. Had recently done a story on 2020 Wood Family Rosé called the Pearl produced from Grenache grapes. (Read the story at:    https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2016/02/10/wood-family-vineyards-2/ ).                                         

As I was pulling this out of the cellar, thought about a wonderful Grenache that has made my “Best of the Year” wines for the last two years. Grabbed a bottle of 2016 Zuidema Grenache to see similarities in the grape essential characteristics and profile while being produced entirely different.

Review of Wood Family Vineyards Rosé Pearl

Let me begin by saying that the color was extremely eye catching with its uniqueness. It is somewhere between salmon and copper color with light viscosity. On the nose, a strong floral characteristic came forth but we could not initially determine a specific flower. Rhonda in her description calls it a “delicate rosé”. In the mouth is where this wine shone brightly with spices and stone fruit. What stood out was the dryness of the wine, with no sweetness, and tastes of a refined new world Grenache. The finish revealed a spiced apple flavor, minerality and then just a modicum of sweetness.

The acidity was almost not present, but an underlying structure was apparent! Rhonda purposed to pick the grapes in the cool night, then go directly to a gentle press with whole clusters. The wine is allowed to ferment slowly in a cool temperature in stainless steel tanks.

Review of Zuidema Grenache

This is his third release of Grenache which combines delicate finesse with the subtle power of Grenache. Rudy describes it as “the aromas are made up of white pepper, bright rhubarb, strawberry and blood orange peel. The bright acidity in the mid palate bursts with mixed berries, holiday spice and layers of anise and tarragon”. Even the finish gives a hint of the Old World with it being rustic and not perfectly polished. The color being ruby to brick red, with cranberry fruit, having a spicy oak flavoring, yet showing the minerality of dry farming. Minerality and a rustic flare still persists in the wine, but the 2016 is aromatic with black cherry and as Rudy states “notes of cocoa and fig newton”. Add to this plum and soft tannins it surrounds the spicy edginess of the wine. Rudy’s Clone 515 Grenache from Chateauneuf du Pape heritage continues to produce a delightful summer and fall wine.  (More on Rudy can be found at:  https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2019/09/23/rudy-zuidema-a-look-at-the-extraordinary-winemaker-golfer-husband-father/ )   

                                            

Both wines were extremely enjoyable and spot on for a warm summer evening.

Sláinte,


Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://woodfamilyvineyards.com

https://zuidemawines.com/

2016 Jackalope Cabernet Franc – No Mythical Wine!

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At the National Cabernet Franc Wine Competition held December 2nd, 2020, Jackalope Wine Cellars earned a Silver Medal Award from the Professional Judges and the People’s Choice Judges awarded a Bronze Medal for their 2016 Cabernet Franc. This was Jackalope Wine Cellars first year entering the wine competition. 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/

The Winery

While having never been there, I like their approach to the attitude of wine being whimsical but still producing good wines.  Since this goes out worldwide, many people may not know the word “Jackalope”, it is a noun signifying a mythical creature of North American folklore, a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope.  You can see the depiction on the label. On their website they have a form to submit any sightings of a Jackalope including a map.

The goal of this urban winery is to make artisan and handcrafted wines that show the uniqueness of the Pacific Northwest area. Corey Schuster is the owner/winemaker. They produce their wines at Portland Wine Company in Portland Oregon and they source from around the state of Oregon. Today they produce Viognier and a white Cabernet Franc. Their reds include: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, a red blend, and of course their Cabernet Franc. They also produce a rosé and a carbonic Merlot!

The 2016 Jackalope Cabernet Franc Wine

Was eager to try the wine for its unique name/label and winning high marks!  At first on the eyes it was a reddish brown color. I was thinking perhaps it went south – it was not the case! It possessed a medium viscosity and the second glass lost the brown and it became more brick red in coloring. The nose was earthy with peppercorns aromas. On the palate, bramble, black cherry and spices beyond the oak were present. The finish was smooth, easy and mid-long to be enjoyed. The pyrazines were subdued. The wine is listed on their website for $27.

The Food and Wine Pairing

Paired with a 36 hour Chaka marinated London broil steak, seared on the BBQ with a lovely medium rare presentation. Accompanying the meal was a fresh garden salad and a pasta salad of with vegetables and spices.

Should I visit Portland, I will definitely set some time aside to spend visiting and speaking with Corey about his wines and any recent Jackalope sightings!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.jackalopewinecellars.com

2011 Steven Kent Premier Cabernet Sauvignon

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Pulled this wine from the cellar after eight years. This wine represents the best Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the Livermore, California vineyards that Steven Kent Mirassou can assemble. It is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and always a phenomenal wine. Pulled this out of the cellar last night wanting a special treat. On the eyes the purple hue beamed royalty and uniqueness with its coloring being crisp with clarity. It possessed a medium viscosity. On the nose, red fruit filled the olfactory senses coupled with medium oak tones. On the palate, this wine shined with hints of cocoa & expresso and provided a rich and dense fluid of cherries, vanilla and soft pipe tobacco. The tannins and structure were still strong enough after almost 10 years to provide an elegant and velvety feel, yet structured with a long lasting finish. This wine provided both mouth filling satisfaction as well as an opulent Cabernet Sauvignon.

Steven Kent Mirassou continues his outstanding work with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in Livermore. For another story on his development and quest to make excellent wines read the following:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2019/08/25/2008-lineage-wine-a-culmination-of-heritage-and-personal-drive/

If you have not experienced a “top notch Cabernet Sauvignon” from Livermore, check out his Single Vineyard Series, Premier Series or Lineage for a special treat!

Sláinte,

Michael

http://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.stevenkent.com/

2015 Hindsight Wines, Howell Mountain—Aging Gracefully

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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 this Hindsight wine was similar.  It is always noteworthy to try a wine after you have laid it down for a while.

Pulled this Hindsight 2015 Howell Mountain 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Bella Vetta Vineyard out of the cellar the other night and it was absolutely delightful. This vineyard is owned by Jac Cole 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, by comparison, a darker fruit in the glass due to a longer extraction by the winemaker. Viscosity is medium to medium heavy. On the nose, distinct blackberries and raspberries. 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. This wine is aged almost two years in 60% new French oak barrels. It is Napa Valley Howell Mountain fruit at its best!   This was rated a high mark in “my book” of the Best Wines of 2020 and was noted as one of the Best Wines at the end the year. It  again will make the Best Wines of 2021 at years end, and goes for $95/bottle.

So as I concluded in a previous story on Hindsight Wines, why wasn’t Hindsight Wines in my “wine sensory” vision? No idea but it is now! Having the previous review of their wines and placing an order immediately to add to the cellar, I am so very pleased with its development and regrettably now wished I had ordered more!!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwines.com

http://www.hindsightwines.com/

2019 Acquiesce Clairette Blanche – Unique and Rare United States Wine

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The Winery

Acquiesce Winery continues to impress with their white wine portfolio on French wines.  There is so much to state about Susan Tipton, owner and winemaker of Acquiesce Winery. The key takeaway is that she established her winery in Acampo (just north of Lodi) with the expressed purpose of bringing French white wine varieties to market. Lodi had been primarily known for red wines, but she turned heads with some of her unique wines such as Picpoul, Clairette Blanche, Ingénue (blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Bourboulenc & Picpoul), Roussanne and more. Here are some reviews of her wines and her impact:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/10/31/acquiesce-winery-vineyards-finding-a-niche-with-unique-white-wines/

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/09/20/2018-acquiesce-vineyards-picpoul-blanc/

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/08/30/2018-acquiesce-ingenue-french-and-more-french/

The Wine

Clairette Blanche is a widely planted white grape in the south of France. “Clairette” which means light one in French is due to its grape skin color. Only 2% of worldwide production is done in the USA.  Acquiesce Clairette Blanche holds a tremendous complexity of floral aromas of honeysuckle and jasmine.  The flavor profile is one of both sweet and lightly roasted almonds. Residing in the background is pineapple, lime and lemongrass. A perfect wine targeted for fish and shell fish. It has already won a Double Gold Medal at the 2020 American Wine Society Wine Competition.

The Food and Wine Pairing

This wine is made to go with flaky white fish. Pulled this bottle out of the cellar as we went to Baldi’s at Copper Valley restaurant for dinner Friday night. The pepper crusted seared Yellowfin on a seaweed salad was a great appetizer although not necessarily a great pairing with the wine.

However the entrée a crusted Mahi Mahi with lemon panko served with a mango salsa and served with mashed potatoes & vegetables was an exquisite food and wine pairing.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://acquiescevineyards.com

https://baldiscoppervalley.com

2015 One Acre Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville

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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 wine on the eyes was a deep purple/red color and a medium heavy viscosity. Looking into the glass ones expectations immediately rose knowing a treat was beckoning.  On the nose one of the most fruit forward Cabernet Sauvignon’s with blackberry and cherry wafted into the senses. Once on the palate, the lushness of the fruit was present but not overly sweet, just perfect with aromas. A little black licorice was present in the background. In the foreground, cedar and oak spice were present and continue through the finish. Tannins were present but supportive with soft edges and not overbearing. This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Lamm Vineyard in Yountville.  The wine is aged 33 months in aged in French oak barrels with 33% being new. Only 93 cases were produced.

The Food and Wine Pairing

Paired with a seared BBQ’ed ribeye served medium rare along with smashed Yukon Gold potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts drizzled with a balsamic reduction glaze. The wine and steak were beyond scrumptious and provided such a wonderful experience.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://acrewines.com

3 Steves 2019 Reserve Chardonnay – A Twist to Cinco de Mayo

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Celebrating Cinco de Mayo on Lake Tulloch was both traditional with Margaritas and non-traditional with some other additions. Those included Champagne, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.

But yesterday a delightful wine was had while puttering around Lake Tulloch with it being 91 degrees! Opened up a 2019 3 Steves Reserve Chardonnay from Livermore, California. A light golden straw color on the eyes and light to medium viscosity. A mild bouquet on the nose, with white fruit and extremely soft citrus. On the palate, mild acidity and oak with an almost old world (non-buttery) taste in the mouth. It provides a mouthful sensation due to not being filtered or fined before bottling. The finish is extremely clean, crisp and creamy.  Definitely a refreshing wine for our warm summer months while sitting on the patio or lake cruising with friends.

The food pairings on the boat included guacamole & chips, fresh tuna poke, shrimp, chicken salsa sliders, beef taco meat sliders, 7 layer bean dip and a lot more! The 3 Steve’s Chardonnay was a big hit with everyone.

For more on 3 Steve’s Winery and their wine offerings see a previous article at: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/01/08/3-steves-winery-winners-once-again/

Looking forward to more thirst quenching 3 Steve’s Chardonnay with the warm summer approaching.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://3steveswinery.com/

2017 Black Star Farms Arcturus Cabernet Franc and a BBQ Burger

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At the National Cabernet Franc Wine Competition held December 2nd, 2020, Black Star Farms earned a Silver Medal Award from the Professional Judges and the People’s Choice Judges awarded a Bronze Medal for their 2017 Cabernet Franc. This was Black Star Farms first year entering the wine competition. 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/

The Winery

(from Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail)

The winery is located on the Black Star Farms 160 acre winery estate about a 15 minute drive from Traverse City, Michigan. The property on the rolling hills of the Leelanau Peninsula is a local favorite for weddings, wine tastings, equestrian facility, hiking trails and even has a beautiful Inn on the property. This property serves some gourmet meals and has won Best Wine Country Hotel by USA and Best Readers’ Choice Awards 2020.

The winery has a broad selection of both white and red wines. The white wine selections include:  Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Grüner Veltliner, Dry Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Barrel Aged Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Blanc. Their red wines include: Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, Merlot, red blends and of course Cabernet Franc. Additionally they produce sparkling, Rosé, fruit and dessert wines!  A wine for all palates!

The Wine

Michigan with its extended growing season and cooler climate is a great location for Cabernet Franc. The wine on the eyes was a deep ruby red with purple hues. On the nose blackberries and red plums jumped out of the glass. On the palate, lots of green herbaceous notes were found in the background but not the strong pyrazines normally associated with Cabernet Franc which made this unique and enjoyable to drink. The finish was medium and enjoyable with food or without food. Black Star Farms states this can be stored up to 5 years plus. 

The wine was paired with a BBQ’ed seared medium rare beef burger. The fruit and herb qualities enveloped the burger perfectly. It has earned other awards including Gold at the Great Lakes Tasting, Silver at Finger Lakes International Wine Competition as well as Michigan Wine Competition.

I look forward to tasting some of their other wines specifically, their Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer and their dry Riesling which have also won many awards!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://blackstarfarms.com