Month: December 2021
An extremely nice surprise today from Acquiesce Winery in Lodi, California — Their Twelve Days of Christmas package arrived of their award winning wines. Don’t know if I will open this wonderful wine 12 days in a row but will definitely be pairing it with some delicious meals (seafood, shrimp, scallops, chicken, etc.) soon.
See below stories on Acquiesce Winery, Susan Tipton and some of her unique wines in the 12 Days of Christmas.
Overview of Acquiesce Winery
Sláinte and Merry Christmas,
The Alyris Vineyards
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
Pulled this wine out of the cellar last evening and was pleasantly delighted beyond my memory with this wine. 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 vineyard locations. 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 with its proximity of San Francisco Bay with the cooling fog. 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 seductive 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!! The 2015 Chardonnay changed in the bottle to bring out flavors of butterscotch and toffee this evening. Today the 2015 is available but limited quantities at $45. Small production lots (2015 was 170 cases), so if interested contact them on their website.
MadoroM Vineyards and Winery is a family affair creating handcrafted and artisan wines from Napa Valley grapes. They produce, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, a Proprietary Red Blend and Sauvignon Blanc. Their new tasting room is located on the Silverado Trail. MadoroM wines is a collaboration of Andy and Marissa Amador and the talented winemaker Mike Blom. At age 27, Andy purchased a 188 acre ranch in the eastern Napa Valley and he planted 50 acres on the property. He later planted a vineyard at the base of Mt. Veeder. The name MadoroM is an incorporation of all their names!
They have two distinct labels: Camouflage and Black Label. The Camouflage label comprises their Proprietary Red Blend (see previous story at https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2021/10/07/2018-madorom-camouflage-proprietary-red-wine/), their Rosé and their Sauvignon Blanc (see previous story athttps://californiawinesandwineries.com/2021/11/29/madorom-2020-sauvignon-blanc-a-refreshing-and-appealing-wine/ ) and their 2016 & 2017 Napa Valley Merlot (see previous story at https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2021/10/31/madorom-vineyards-and-winery-2016-merlot-the-paul-bunyan-of-merlots/). As an aside they also do custom labeling with a three case minimum order.
The Wine – 2017 MadoroM Cabernet Sauvignon
The wine on the eyes was a dark, luscious purple color with a medium heavy viscosity. In the glass it had aromas of blackberries, cherries and spices. Once on the palate, a decidedly oaky presence along with blackberry and forest floor aromas and tastes. On the finish, the spiciness of clove, nutmeg, cedar with chocolate rounding out this delicious wine with structure and edgy tannins. The 2017 tannins are more prominent than the 2016 as is its structure and will age nicely over the next 10 years in the cellar. The wine was aged for 3 years using 26-28% new barrels and the balance being used or neutral oak. The split overall of barrel use is 70% French and 30% American oak. The wine lists for $85 on their website.
The Food and Wine Pairing
As the weather is starting to cool down, we most likely had our last BBQ until spring time. Seared a tri-tip steak and then BBQ’ed it to a beautiful medium rare. Served with baked sea salt rubbed Russet potatoes and a fresh garden salad. The stronger tannins met their match with the meat. A harmonious dining experience as we both enjoy heartier tannins!
While Cabernet Franc has always been a wine of importance in Bordeaux blends it was not really a known standalone wine in the USA until the 1990’s. While blended with the likes of Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon back in the 1970’s, I began to seek out why and what this grape was all about. I can’t seriously remember the first 100% Cabernet Franc I tasted, but it has since attracted me to try and taste many production vintages by wineries, terroirs and regions of the world trying to understand its nuances of flavors.
One of my earlier recollection of a 100% Cabernet Franc was tasting Crocker & Starr’s Cabernet Franc. The first release was their 1997. Shortly thereafter, we became members and have always enjoy her care and detail in producing this exquisite wine. Pam graduated from UC Davis in Fermentation Science and quickly started her career. With stints at Edna Valley as an intern, Carmenet Winery as assistant winemaker, winemaker at Spottswoode Vineyard and Winery provided an excellent background and experience. Charlie Crocker rejuvenated the Dowdell & Sons Winery and replanted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and renamed it Crocker Estate. Later, Pam Starr and Charlie Crocker formed Crocker & Starr. Today I have many vintages of her Cabernet Franc in cellar and credit her with fostering my “love affair” with Cabernet Franc. While producers like Steven Kent Winery, Wood Family Vineyards, Keenan Winery, Trespass, Oakville East, Detert Family, Barnett Vineyards, Vineyard 29, YoungInglewood and many others have been such a joy to savor their wine on this journey of 100% Cabernet Franc odyssey.
Over the years, I have found many other noteworthy and reputable wine aficionados have had a similar “love affair” with Cabernet Franc. Jancis Robinson the well know British wine critic, journalist and wine writer quote of Cabernet Franc sums up her feelings “I’m not a huge enthusiast of the sexual stereotyping of wines but even I can see that Cabernet Franc might be described as the feminine side of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is subtly fragrant and gently flirtatious rather than massively muscular and tough in youth. Because Cabernet Sauvignon has so much more of everything – body, tannin, alcohol, color – it is often supposed to be necessarily superior, but I have a very soft spot indeed for its more charming and more aromatic relative, Cabernet Franc.”
Steven Kent Mirassou, 6th generation winemaker extraordinaire of Lineage Collection, L’Autre Côte Wines and Steven Kent Winery and recent author also has a straight forward “love affair” with Cabernet Franc with this quote “Cabernet Franc, in its purest form, is all about sex. From the silkiness of its texture, to the exoticism of its aromas; from the raciness of its acidity to its emotion-prodding “it-ness,” Cabernet Franc is terrifyingly and wonderfully naughty”.
I have for years called Cabernet Franc “the seductress of wines”.
Robert Parker is quoted as they (Cabernet Franc from Crocker & Starr) “are glorious representations of this underrated variety, and are the very definition of tension, precision of flavors, great structure and a texture that begs for a wide host of foods. This could be because there’s a note of cardamom in these Cabernet Francs, which may be their hallmark. Cardamom is a mysterious spice, often recalling bark, stones, flowers and fruit all at once. So it’s no wonder these wines are welcome at most any table.”
So last evening, on International Cabernet Franc Day, it was only fitting to open up a Cabernet Franc from Crocker & Starr. Opened a more recent 2014 Crocker & Starr Cabernet Franc which possessed a bright purple hue on the eyes. On the nose, a fascinating combination of plum, vanilla and clove were the first impressions. On the mouth, a classic “green vegetable/bell pepper” characteristics which gave way to dark & red fruits, tea and a hint of dark chocolate. The finish was long and mellow with residual sweet pipe tobacco.
If you want to truly appreciate an intriguing and opulent wine, pick up a bottle of Cabernet Franc and possibly start your own love affair.
Wishing you some of the best tasting Cabernet Franc today! Two quotes and a great short story will give you some background on this varietal, called by me “the seductress of wines”.
“I’m not a huge enthusiast of the sexual stereotyping of wines but even I can see that Cabernet Franc might be described as the feminine side of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is subtly fragrant and gently flirtatious rather than massively muscular and tough in youth. Because Cabernet Sauvignon has so much more of everything – body, tannin, alcohol, color – it is often supposed to be necessarily superior, but I have a very soft spot indeed for its more charming and more aromatic relative, Cabernet Franc.” — Jancis Robinson
“Cabernet Franc, in its purest form, is all about sex. From the silkiness of its texture, to the exoticism of its aromas; from the raciness of its acidity to its emotion-prodding “it-ness,” Cabernet Franc is terrifyingly and wonderfully naughty” — Steven Kent Mirassou
Lori Budd, co-founder of International Cab Franc Day (Dec 4th), wrote a compelling and romantic story of Cabernet Franc. You can read about the love affair between Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc and their offspring Cabernet Sauvignon at: https://dracaenawines.com/happy-cabfrancday-2019/
Last evening we pre-kicked off International Cabernet Franc Day with a dinner at Vine18 in Copperopolis. We started out with a couple of excellent bottles of Cabernet Franc from San Benito County, Paso Robles both in California and Mendoza, Argentina.
An assortment of foods were enjoyed by the eleven attending the dinner. Here a picture of fresh scallops with a roasted cherry tomatoes, garlic, capers, lemon zest, olive oil, basil and salt & pepper. The parsnip purée was phenomenal with roasted parsnip, fennel, celery seed, salt, heavy cream and butter.
Several folks enjoyed the short ribs, exquisite salads, hand rubbed tri-tip steak with a BBQ sauce, curry shrimp and a few other dishes. Our Executive Chef, Albert continues to provide a step up in presentation and quality of dishes.
We also enjoy other wines besides the fabulous Cabernet Franc’s.
We will be holding the 3rd Annual Cabernet Franc Celebration on April, 6th & 7th 2022 for Cabernet Franc wines from around the world in Copper Valley, Copperopolis, California. Besides the wine competition, the public is invited for wine tasting with past winners and a winemakers dinner. Tickets will be available after January 1st. More information can be found at https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2021/07/21/3rd-annual-cabernet-franc-wine-celebration/
In the interim, enjoy your glass or bottle of Cabernet Franc!