Month: January 2022

2018 Titus Vineyards Petit Verdot, Anything But Petit!

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Background

First, what is Petit Verdot? The literal translation is “little green one”. This is because it is a late ripening grape from the Bordeaux region in France. It is a commonly used grape in blending, usually in small amounts to add color, tannin, structure and herbaceous notes of violet and sage. Today it is common to see 2% to no more than 10% in many Cabernet Sauvignon’s and other wines.

The Winery

See previous story on family and Titus Vineyards at: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2021/12/15/titus-vineyards-two-brothers-and-a-winemaker/ . At an event there I definitely walked away a fan of their Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc but did not taste the Petit Verdot.

The Wine

First on the eyes this is not your see through, translucent sipping wine. It is as dark as a cavern and could be used in redacting any proprietary military or legal document!! It possesses a medium to medium heavy viscosity when swirling in the glass. On the nose, the first scent awakens one that something special is about to happen. Black fruits along with lilac and violets slap you upside the head with a bouquet of wonder and enticing charm. Once on the palate, plum, blackberry and blueberry dance to the tune of the song “Happy” in your mouth. Immediately the lyrics by Pharrell Williams came to mind “clap along if you feel like a room without a roof, clap along if you feel like happiness is truth”. The fruit is counterbalanced by dried herbs, mostly violets. The finish is dry and full bodied with velvety tannins and a unique roundness. Titus Vineyards produced this delightful and bold Petit Verdot and added 8% Malbec and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was aged 22 months in 70% new French oak barrels. This blending of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, added a depth of character to an already stoic wine. This wine will make my annual list of “Best Wines Tasted” in 2022! The wine goes for $58 and is perhaps one of the hidden gems of 2022!

Food and Wine Pairing

Last evening it was “warm enough” to fire up the BBQ and have a seared tri-tip steak, marinated in a Chaka sauce for 24 hours. Accompanying it was a baked Rustic potato and broccoli. Normally, I would pair a Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc with this meat, however I was wanting “something different” but a solid wine which would hold up to the tri-tip. And did I find it!

Sláinte,


Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.titusvineyards.com/

2017 Hindsight Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and Two Pizza’s!

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Something a bit different last evening. We were having a discussion on which “frozen Pepperoni pizza” was the best. The only way to settle it was to bake both and have a taste off. Not our normal Friday night dinner, but something unusual. So not all Friday night meals are “gourmet”.

So having this taste off called for an exquisite wine so no matter the outcome, we could enjoy a nice glass of wine. Always like stacking the deck in our favor! The Hindsight Cabernet Sauvignon from Howell Mountain, Bella Vetta Vineyard filled the bill nicely. The Hindsight 2017 Howell Mountain 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Bella Vetta Vineyard 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 wine maker. 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 the Best Wines Tasted in years 2020 and 2021. It again will make the Best Wines of 2022 at years end, and goes for $95/bottle.

The two pizzas in question were Di Giorno Pepperoni Rising Crust and Freschetta Naturally Rising Crust pizza. Both were baked per the instructions and served piping hot. Di Giorno won hands down on its crust texture, sauce flavor, pepperoni taste and cheese (left side in picture).

While the pizza “bake off” results were enlightening, the real winner was the Hindsight wine!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwines.com

http://www.hindsightwines.com/

Cabernet Franc Celebration – Wine Tasting of Award Winning Wine

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At one location, Copper Valley, Copperopolis, California on April 6th, taste Cabernet Franc wines produced by wineries from Livermore, Paso Robles, Napa Valley and Arroyo Seca.

Reservations can be made at:

Wood Family Vineyards (Livermore) – $36

*2017 Double Gold Professional Judges California Wines & Wineries Wine Competition

*2018 Silver Professional Judges at California Wines & Wineries Wine Competition

*2019 Double Gold 2022 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Dracaena Wines (Paso Robles) – $34

*2016 Double Gold, Best of Class, Best of Show California Wines & Wineries Wine Competition

*2017 Reserve Double Gold SF Chronicle, 2021

*2018 Gold Central Coast Competition

*92 points Wine Enthusiast 

*2018 Silver SF Chronicle Wine Competition, 2021

*2019 Gold SF Chronicle Wine Competition, 2022

Cuda Ridge Winery (Livermore) – $40

*2017 Gold, Best of Class, California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

*2018 Gold SF Chronicle Wine Competition, 2022

Brecon Estate Winery (Paso Robles)- $64

*2018 Double Gold, Best of Class California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

*2019 Silver SF Chronicle Wine Competition, 2022

________________________________________

(These wineries did not submit their Cabernet Franc to SF Chronicle for 2022)

Kenefick Ranch Winery (Napa) – $50

*2016 Gold, Professional Judges California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

*2017 Silver, Professional Judges California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

L’Autre Côte (Livermore) – $98

*2017 Sliver from People’s Choice, California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

*2017 Gold from Professional Judges, California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

*2017 L’Autre Côte Ghielmetti Vineyard, 94 points Wine Enthusiast

*2017 L’Autre Côte Sachau Vineyard, 96 points Wine Enthusiast

Shale Canyon Wines (Arroyo Seca) – $30

*2014 Double Gold, Best of Class, Best of Show, from Professional and People Choice Judge’s, California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

*2015 Gold, Best of Class, from Professional Judge’s California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

Rosa Fierro Cellars (Livermore) – $44

*Gold 2016 Professional Judge’s, California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

2018 Tenbrink Vineyards Chardonnay

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Pulled of the cellar a 2018 Tenbrink Chardonnay from Suisun Valley. When I first tasted this wine in January 2019, I immediately rated it as one of the Best of Year wines on the nose alone without even tasting it. I can’t recall giving a “score” to any wine before tasting it! When I first sipped the wine it was inspirational. The pale straw coloring provided an array of honeysuckle, pear and apple on nose and later on the palate. It had a touch of citrus on the finish and was clearly going to be a winner! All the kudos for this wine still ring true! It made the Best Wines Tasted in 2021. I am so pleased I continued to purchase this wine. A tremendous bargain now at $32 retail price for the 2020 release. See a previously written stories on this boutique winery at:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/01/09/tenbrink-vineyards-and-tolenas-winery-a-family-story/

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/01/18/tenbrink-2016-petite-sirah-bold-brawny-and-yet-graceful/

The Food and Wine Pairing

Last evening paired with a grilled Swordfish at Vine18 restaurant. Topped with a pineapple salsa, garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.  The Swordfish dinner was a great pairing with the floral and fruits in this flavorful Tenbrink Chardonnay.

Suisun Valley is definitely one of the most underappreciated and under the radar wine regions in California.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

http://tenbrinkvineyards.com/

https://coppervalleygolf.com/

2019 Wood Family Vineyards Malbec Being Released in March, 2022

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The Winery

Rhonda Wood, winemaker at Wood Family Vineyards, makes some exceptional wines from Livermore, California. The background on the winery can be found in another story at:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2021/11/06/2018-wood-family-vineyards-chardonnay/


Rhonda and the family winery are small in comparison to some of Livermore’s known name wineries, but have been regarded for years as one of the top quality wine producers. For example, just recently they received the following accolades for her 2017 Malbec:


• 2017 Malbec – 93 points Wine Enthusiast

• 2017 Malbec – Best of Show – SF Chronicle Wine Competition 2020

The Wine

I received this wine before it’s official release to do a review and was I pleased. This wine on the eyes is medium viscosity and with a deep royal purple coloration, yet around the rim it is almost translucent (per the picture). On the nose blackberries and dark red plums are the leaders rushing into claim dominance in the olfactory senses. Also present were violets and roses. On the palate, besides blackberries and plums, you experience a soft note of milk chocolate and gentle smokiness counterbalanced with fresh ripe cherries and soft spiciness.  The finish is velvety smooth with medium acidity and tannins with no sharpness. Also on the finish the presence of ground stone minerality provide a juicy and mouth filling finish. Alcohol was 14.7% with 108 cases produced and listed at the winery at $34. This is one of my four favorite wines from Wood Family Vineyards! Wood Family 2018 Malbec made the list of Best Wines Tasted in 2021 and the 2019 definitely will make my Best Wines Tasted in 2022!

The Food Pairing with 2019 Wood Family Vineyards Malbec

Paired with a beef Teriyaki with snow peas and green onions. Ingredients included thinly sliced flank steak, teriyaki sauce, snow peas, Mirin, cayenne pepper, cornstarch, sliced shitake mushrooms, sliced garlic cloves, grated ginger root and scallions. The flavoring of the meat was so delightful and with the mouth filling Malbec, a truly memorable meal.

Sláinte,


Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://woodfamilyvineyards.com/

What do these 8 wines have in common besides being award winning Cabernet Franc’s?

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They each will be pouring their Cabernet Franc at the Cabernet Franc Celebration wine tasting & appetizers on April 6th at Copper Valley Golf Club in the Grandview Room. Vintages will most likely be their current release.

Reservations can be made by clicking this button:

Or calling 209-783-9933. Here is a listing of just a few of their prestigious awards:

Wood Family Vineyards (Livermore) 

*2017 Double Gold Professional Judges California Wines & Wineries Wine Competition

*2018 Silver Professional Judges at California Wines & Wineries Wine Competition

*2019 Double Gold 2022 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Dracaena Wines (Paso Robles)

*2016 Double Gold, Best of Class, Best of Show California Wines & Wineries Wine Competition

*2017 Reserve Double Gold SF Chronicle, 2021

*2018 Gold Central Coast Competition

*92 points Wine Enthusiast 

*2018 Silver SF Chronicle Wine Competition, 2021

*2019 Gold SF Chronicle Wine Competition, 2022

Cuda Ridge Winery (Livermore)

*2017 Gold, Best of Class, California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

*2018 Gold SF Chronicle Wine Competition, 2022

Brecon Estate Winery (Paso Robles)

*2018 Double Gold, Best of Class California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

*2019 Silver SF Chronicle Wine Competition, 2022

________________________________________

(These wineries did not submit wines to SF Chronicle for 2022)

Kenefick Ranch Winery (Napa)

*2016 Gold, Professional Judges California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

*2017 Silver, Professional Judges California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

L’Autre Côte (Livermore) 

*2017 Sliver from Peoples Choice, California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

*2017 Gold from Professional Judges, California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

*2017 L’Autre Côte Ghielmetti Vineyard, 94 points Wine Enthusiast

*2017 L’Autre Côte Sachau Vineyard, 96 points Wine Enthusiast

Shale Canyon Wines (Arroyo Seca)

*2014 Double Gold, Best of Class, Best of Show, from Professional and Peoples Choice Judges, California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

*2015 Gold, Best of Class, from Professional Judges California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

Rosa Fierro Cellars (Livermore)

*Gold 2016 Professional Judges, California Wines and Wineries Wine Competition

Wood Family Vineyards 2020 Chardonnay, The Changes Continue to Make the Best Chardonnay

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Rhonda Wood’s legacy continues in her 2020 Chardonnay. Her legacy, is one of wining Gold, Double Gold Medals, Best of Show and Best of Class, will still continue with this vintage, but it is very different from her previous vintages.

So how is it different? Her previous vintages (2016, 2017, and 2018) had in her words a bent to being “crackerjacks in a bottle” with caramel and a slight secondary malolactic fermentation creating a buttery finish.  Then the 2019 brought forth more citrus flavors. See a previous story at:  https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2021/05/25/2019-wood-family-vineyards-chardonnay/ . The 2020 vintage has once again brought a different slant on her Chardonnay but still an extremely enjoyable experience.

This week pulled out this Chardonnay to enjoy with the college BCS game. The 2020 has a beautiful golden coloring that glistens on the eyes with a medium heavy viscosity. On the nose, minerality and flint are predominate with secondary aromas of pear and Golden Delicious apple.  Once on the palate, a definite “full on” fresh bakery brioche with lightly smoked almond flavor abounds. Secondary flavor produced a hazelnut taste. With a little more new tight French oak barrels this year, the wine came across with a refined, old world and lightly oaked finish. A miniscule lemon fragrance towards the end of the finish was also present. Absent is the “crackerjack and buttery finish”. Currently listed on their website for $32/bottle.

The Food and Wine Pairing

Paired with a tempura chicken, noodles and carrots in a sweet sesame sauce. The wine was strong enough to cut through the sweetness of the dish and paired with the wine, to formulate an enjoyable meal.

In a blind tasting, you could easily think it was an old world Chardonnay from Europe. Different from previous and many will embrace it and enjoy it more!

Sláinte,


Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://woodfamilyvineyards.com/

2015 Hindsight Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

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The definition of hindsight is the “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. Last night, pulled a wine which had morphed even better than when I tasted it last!

The Hindsight 2015 Howell Mountain 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Bella Vetta Vineyard 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 wine maker. 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 the Best Wines Tasted in years 2020 and 2021. It again will make the Best Wines of 2022 at years end, and goes for $95/bottle.

Food and Wine Pairing

Recently I have had so many great meals, I wanted to take a night off so went with some blackberries, Blue cheese, crackers, almonds and pistachios. A perfect quick and light meal and the wine was simpatico with the blackberries and perfect dichotomy with the Blue cheese.

I am so very pleased with its development and in hindsight, wished I had ordered more!!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwines.com

http://www.hindsightwines.com/

Cabernet Franc Celebration reservations are now open!

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For this year’s event:

  • We have the annual Blind Cabernet Franc Wine Competition, by both Professional Judges & People’s Choice Judges
  • A Wine tasting from 8 previous Gold, Double Gold & Best of Class and appetizers.
  • Keynote speeches from renowned winemakers, Steven Kent Mirassou, Pam Starr and Lori Budd. Followed by a winemaker’s dinner featuring their Cabernet Franc wine.

See the attached fliers for details. Register by clicking: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wine-tasting-and-wine-makers-dinner-tickets-242991322587  or call 209-783-9933.

2020 Acquiesce Picpoul Blanc – Her Best Picpoul Yet!

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Tonight’s wine is one which has made my yearly Best Wines Tasted for years 2018, 2019 and 2020 for previous vintages. However, this was the 2020 Acquiesce Picpoul Blanc, which up until now I had not tasted.  As usual this was a beautiful white wine, produced by winemaker/owner Susan Tipton. Visually this varietal is faint in color and almost translucent with a pale yellow hue. Picpoul means to “sting the lips” yet this wine was much more embracing and had a disguised light sweetness. The finish produced a full mouthful of wonderment. This wine was made to pair with oysters in Europe.

The Wine

On the nose pineapple was the predominate scent coupled with minerality. Lemon and a silky mouth filling sensation on the palate. This wine looks like a “light weight wine” but packs a delicate punch of enjoyment.  For my taste, it is the best Picpoul Blanc she has produced! It received a score of 96 points and has won the following awards:

*Best White Wine & Double Gold Medal at 2021 American Wine Society Commercial Competition

*Best of Class & Double Gold Medal at 2021 Hilton Head Food & Wine Competition

*Double Gold Medal at 2021 SF International Wine Competition

*Double Gold Medal at International Women’s Wine Competition

All those awards for this distinctive and coveted wine which sells for $30 is a real bargain!  Again, Susan can count on this wine to be in the Best Wines Tasted for 2022!

Wine and Food Pairing

Paired with a spicy Shrimp Pad Thai dish. The ingredients were flat rice noodles, virgin oil, minced garlic, uncooked shrimp, eggs, bean sprouts, red bell pepper, green onions, peanuts, chopped cilantro and lime juice. The Pad Thai sauce included fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, Sriracha and creamy peanut butter!  Limes were plated to squeeze the juice over the top of the dish. Accompanying the meal was Thai-style green beans cooked in a skillet with the following ingredients: soy sauce, hoisin sauce, creamy peanut butter, crushed red pepper flakes, chopped shallot, minced fresh gingerroot, canola oil and chopped dry roasted peanuts. Also served was an Asian cabbage salad. This was an excellent pairing.

Susan Tipton continues to push the quality of her wines to extraordinary levels. Thank you!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.acquiescevineyards.com