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A Great New Find – Intelligent Vacuum Wine Preserver

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If you need something to preserver an open bottle of wine this article is for you!

While I don’t normally talk about “wine gadgets” this one came to my attention from Nicole Jiang from Shenzhen, China. My initial reaction about preserving half opened bottle of wine was mixed with skepticism and providing little value, as I normally don’t have half open bottle (but that is another issue!). Should a need arise I have a Coravin and an Air Cork (bladder device), to keep a bottle fresh. Each has its own pros and cons but after many email exchanges I agree to try the Intelligent Vacuum Wine Preserver.

The unique draw of this unit is the claim to keep the vacuum tight for up to 30 days, thus making the wine available with no loss of flavor. This is done with the top of the unit creating a vacuum in the bottle expunging the air from the bottle. Should any leak occur, leaving the apparatus attached it will on its own detect a minuscule leak and re-vacuum itself. I had to admit when leaving it on the counter when the vacuum went off, I was a bit startled hearing the sound thinking an appliance in the kitchen was on the fritz. You can take off the apparatus but it will last a shorter time. You can tell this by the silver vacuum plug popping up!

When the need does arise to keep a partial or half open bottle of wine, I usually use the Air Cork for its ease of use. So I did two experiments with the Intelligent Vacuum Wine Preserver. The first one was to purposely leave a half open bottle of wine for three days on the counter. After opening it, the wine was still good and enjoyable but loss a just little something. One thing I noticed was the silver top had popped a bit up on the rubber stop and “the pop” when opening it up was faint, signifying a vacuum loss. I contacted the manufacturer in China and it appears it was an operator issue (me) in not charging the unit completely before setting the device.

On the second try, after fully charging the unit via USB connection, storing it vertically as stated in the instructions and now in the wine cellar it was a fresh as a newly opened bottled. To reconfirm nothing was “lost”, I did open a new bottle of the same vintage of wine and it was indistinguishable from the wine stored for 3 days in a side by side tasting.  While not having an occasion to use this often, I will not hesitate to use the Intelligent Vacuum Wine Preserver. BTW, 13.8 Celsius is 56.84 degrees Fahrenheit as it was out of the cellar (55 degrees) for a few minutes while taking the pictures.

Using the unit with just the rubber stopper and the initial vacuum set with the apparatus removed, the wine will stay fresh for up to 7 days. With the apparatus attached it will “re-fresh the vacuum” and claims to keep the wine fresh for 30 days.  The apparatus also shows the temperature, battery level and display “OK” when a vacuum has been set. Additionally two stoppers, an USB cable and detailed instruction are including.

I have no vested interest or monetary compensation but thought the device easy to use without costly re-fills or other issues. I was amazed at the simplicity and ease of use and can honestly recommend the unit. It can be order at the Newegg Platform:

https://www.newegg.com/p/2DA-0067-00001?Description=Wine%20preserver&cm_re=Wine_preserver-_-9SIASBDCSW6832-_-Product&quicklink=true . It retails for $69.

Should you need something to keep a partially opened bottle overnight or up to 30 days this was a great new find.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

2nd Annual Cabernet Franc Wine Competition Set For December 3rd – Who Will Be The Winners?

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We have 50+ wines being poured at the Second Annual Cabernet Franc Wine Competition. This represents over 30 AVA’s and sub-AVA’s in the USA. The event is being held on December 3rd with results published on December 4th, International Cabernet Franc Day.

This is a blind wine tasting competition using the Danish methodology. One twist is that we have two judging panels, one of Professional Judges and another judging panel of “People’s Choice” judges (serious wine drinkers). Each wine is measured against standards and not ranked against competitors. The results of both will published.

StateAVA or Sub-AVA
CaliforniaCalistoga
CaliforniaClarksburg
CaliforniaCoombsville
CaliforniaDiamond Mtn
CaliforniaLivermore Valley
CaliforniaMendocino
CaliforniaMt Veeder
CaliforniaOak Knoll
CaliforniaOakville
CaliforniaPaso Robles
CaliforniaSt Helena
Californiavarious other AVA’s
ColoradoColorado AVA
MichiganLeelanan Peninsula
MichiganMichigan Shore
Michiganvarious sub-AVA’s
New MexicoNew Mexico sub-AVA
New YorkHudson Valley
New YorkLong Island
New YorkNiagara County
New YorkFinger Lakes
OregonColumbia Valley
OregonRogue Valley
TexasTexas High Plains
VirginiaVirginia AVA

See the winners and pictures from last years event: Cabernet Franc Wine Competition 2019 Complete Listing of Winners per Category « California Wines & Wineries (californiawinesandwineries.com)

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

2018 Gossamer Cellars Tannat – Gary Grant Continues His Quest

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Background on Gossamer Cellars

Gary Grant and his wife Sue continue their mission to make as many wine varietals as possible. In today’s quest for deep knowledge on a specific topic or discipline, Gary is striving to go “wide” as opposed to “deep”. This is not to state in any manner that his quality or robust wines have suffered. Just the opposite. Gary meticulously strives to get the best grapes for new varietals often waiting years to find them. Once he has them, he seeks out wise counsel, both local friends and UC Davis, where he had enrolled for his winemaking skills.

In the tasting room in the quaint village of Murphys in the Sierra Foothills, he is keeping a list of the wine varietals he has produced and soliciting customers as to what they would like to see him produce. You can see the varietals he has checked off on the wall called De Long Wine Grape Varietal Table. As of this writing, Gossamer is offering Torrontes, Nebbiolo, Teroldego, Negroamaro, Alicante, etc., just to name of few. His passion to bring forth different grapes to beautiful wines, has set Gossamer apart from the street lined with tasting rooms. Their total production is less than eight hundred cases over all the varietals.

What is The Tannat Grape Varietal?

Tannat is thick-skinned grape (blue to black in color) which produces a deep colored big, bold and tannic wines. Interestingly, Tannat has some of the highest levels of polyphenols (antioxidants) of all red wines save for Sagrantino. This is a little known fact for wine drinkers.  It is now known as the national grape in Uruguay. Only 2% of the world production is in the United States. Tannat’s natural home is found near the Pyrenees in southwest France in the Basque region. The Lodi and Sierra Foothill regions are producing some of the best Tannat wines due to similar weather and soil conditions. The state of Virginia is also a key area for Tannat. In the past, Tannat needed years of bottle time to “soften up” but with the advances in viticulture and techniques in winemaking, Tannat is easier to consume earlier. Key flavors of classical Tannat are dark red and black fruits, chocolate, coffee and smoke along with acidity and strong tannins.  The key trait of Tannat is its very high tannin levels. Thus historically, it has long been known as a blending wine.

Gossamer Cellars 2018 Tannat

Gary’s Tannat has the notable features of very dark red and maroon coloring with a medium viscosity in the glass. On the nose, you are met with a rustic sense of the wine that includes dust, plum and black cherry. Not a very aromatic wine, but this is just the beginning. Once in the palate, you are greeted with the black cherry, ripe blackberries, oak, cedar, leather and black tea. The finish is long and satisfying with an appreciated “old world” sense of being. This is not a sipping wine with the astringent tannins, but one meant for foods that are high in fat to knock down the tannins like sausage, duck and fatty beef.

The Food Pairing

Last evening, a Bucatini pasta was served. The sauce was a combination of sausage, beef and tomato simmered all day on the stove. It was topped off with Parmesan cheese and served with broccoli and garlic French bread.  Having the “fatty content of sausage and beef” in the sauce was spot on for this food pairing as the Tannat tannins were held in check with the fat.

Gary and Sue have once again embarked on their road less traveled with a successful and new addition in their portfolio of unique wines.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

http://www.restless-frog.com/

2017 Hunter Glenn Estate Vineyard Merlot – A Cabernet Lovers Merlot

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Opened this Merlot last night thinking it to be a mellow easy drinking red wine with dinner. Pleasantly shocked beyond belief of the punch of this heavy weight blow delivered by this wine.  This is not a soft and cuddly Merlot as it possessed such flavor along with beautiful and substantially structured tannins similar to a high end Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Wine

On the eyes, a lush and dark purple coloration with medium viscosity. On the nose blueberries are so dominate. On the palate, cinnamon, soft leather, dark cherry, plum and sweet pipe tobacco swirl in the mouth. The finish presents strength and elegance simultaneously. A slight sweetness also highlights this daunting and surprising conclusion.  Aged 21 months on 30% new French oak barrels. Only 58 cases were produced.  At $70 this wine is not an everyday Merlot but a solid addition for any cellar or collector.

The Wine Pairing

Once winter or cooler weather rolls around, simple comfort food is in order. Seasoned beef meatloaf topped with cheddar cheese. A few drops of Tabasco added for some spiciness. Accompanied with a Yukon potato and fresh dinner salad. The fruit of blueberry and slightly sweet finish of this Merlot was both spot on and an excellent counterbalance making a perfect wine for this meal.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://hunterglenn.com/

Two Wines – One Failure and One Was Spectacular

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Opened the first bottle last night to enjoy as we completed a mini-vacation visiting relatives. It was a 2010 Saint Helena Winery Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. It had been stored with exacting temperature and humidity controls since purchased in December of 2012. This wine comes from their thirteen acre estate vineyard. While I carefully waited to enjoy, I was thoroughly disappointed in the age worthiness of this wine. It was flat, had copper edges and the taste was nothing as promised (blackberry, cherry, cocoa, etc.). I would not age this wine and would not purchase again. A horrible experience for a $100 bottle of wine! I don’t as a matter of record provide “negative reviews” but this got under my skin as an epic shortcoming.

Still wanting a “good wine”, opened a 2012 Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian, a red blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc and 23% Merlot. Immediately the dark ruby and purple coloration and viscosity resonated with my eyes. The nose was a mixture of black and red fruit with blackberry leading the charge. On the palate, mocha and vanilla with hint of “pencil shavings” gently coated the mouth. The finish was smooth with soft velvety tannins and structure which endured a long time. The retail price of $125 and age ability was worth the price paid for this quality of wine.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.blackbirdvineyards.com/

2016 Château de Fontenelles, Renaissance — A Modest Priced Wine with a Decent Punch

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From Corbieres, Appellation d’Origine Protégée, in the Languedoc-Roussillon Region in the south of France. This is a blend of Syrah 55%, Grenache 25%, Carignan 10% and Mourvèdre 10 %.  On the eyes a deep ruby color and medium viscosity. On the nose aromas of earthiness, smoke and leather. On the palate, you are immediately confronted with an “old world” wine of oak and briarwood flavors. The fruit of the wine is a bit hidden but eventually the black cherries are present. The finish is medium long and the tannins provide just enough edginess to complete the finish.

Paired with slow cooked roast beef with Yukon Gold potatoes. Wonderful on a cold evening in California. The wine and food provided a definite French bistro atmosphere.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards – Finding a Niche with Unique White Wines

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Last evening at our informal Friday Night Wine & Dine group, two unique white wines were tasted with one of the chef’s special. The word was received earlier in the day that “fish special” was grilled halibut, thus the choice of the wines. Dinner was at the Vine 18 at the Copper Valley Golf Course. For those unfamiliar with Acquiesce, Susan Tipton rolled into Lodi and decided not only to make white wines in the middle of an area known for producing almost one hundred red wine varietals but choose some “lesser known” grapes.  More can be read at:

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

Two of Acquiesces wines tasted were 2019 Clairette Blanche and 2019 Ingénue. The 2019 Clairette Blanche is a rare varietal in California. Clairette Blanche is a white wine grape known mostly in the wine regions of Provence, Rhône and Languedoc areas in France. The name “Claire” means clear, fair or bright and “blanche” means white. It is one of the few French wines with a feminine name. This grape has been growing since the 1500’s in these areas. The uniqueness of this grape is the citrus quality of grapefruit, floral notes and minerality. Aromas of pineapple, mint and lime can also be found. The finish is clean and slightly nutty.

The other wine tried this evening with the halibut was the 2019 I Ingénue. This is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Bourboulenc and Picpoul Blanc. This clear white wine had aroma of hibiscus and sage. Barely recognizable were a mixture of soft lime and orange. You can read more about Ingénue at:

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

The Food Pairing

Grilled halibut with a lemon caper sauce server over a Parmesan risotto and summer squash was one of the Chefs’ features. Four of the eight of us ordered the halibut and did a compare and contrast with these two white wines. While both are outright winners, this evenings conclusion was the 2019 Clairette Blanche paired best with the fish by unanimous vote! The depth and citrus qualities provide the right punch with the halibut.

Dessert was a chocolate lava cake with caramel and sweet chocolate with coffee flavored ice cream for “good measure”.

A few other very nice wines were brought to compliment other meals this evening as well as to be shared at the table. All were outstanding.

I have always believed Susan Tipton is unique in her vision for the AVA and has produced wines to showcase her ability as a top rated winemaker and trailblazer. The 2019 Clairette Blanche just made my short list of the Best Wines of 2020! While I have always kept her Picpoul Blanc wine in the cellar, I will now keep her 2019 Clairette Blanche ready for the next fish dinner.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://acquiescevineyards.com

https://www.coppervalleygolf.com/amenities/dining

2016 Zuidema Grenache – Spice in a Bottle

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Had this spectacular wine last night with seasoned pork chop and a Yukon potato. The wine was an excellent complement to this slightly spicy pork chop. Rudy Zuidema’s 2016 Grenache is his third release. You can read more on the background of this project at: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/…/zuidema-wines…/ .

His Clone 515 Grenache from Chateauneuf du Pape heritage continues to produce a delightful summer and fall wine. 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 pork. A wine very worthy to have in the cellar for this and other meals. This has made My Best Wines of Year, 3 straight years. To get such aromas and character from a Grenache, at $42, this is a steal!!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://zuidemawines.com/

2018 Gossamer Cellars Mariposa Roja – A Blend of Two Solid Sierra Foothill Grapes

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Two of the wine varietals which thrive in the Sierra Foothills are Tempranillo and Grenache. Gossamer Cellars through the creative genius of Gary Grant, combined these two grapes to form their 2018 Mariposa Roja. The growing climate (diurnal temperature swings) are more akin in Calaveras County to Spain, Portugal, southern France and Italy. If you think of those areas (but not next to the seaside), you will find some impressive varietals being made into excellent wine.

Gary combined these two grapes, Grenache and Tempranillo to formulate this intriguing red blend. The Grenache represents your typical strawberry and raspberry fruits, with soft tobacco, cinnamon and medium oak characteristics. Grenache is lighter in color and has a soft finish.  Coupled with Tempranillo having characteristics of cherry, plum and dry fig fruits with additional hints of leather, vanilla and sweet tobacco, with a tad more oak. Soft earthy notes and a full body wine are dominate in Tempranillo. The combination of two provided a dark reddish wine with purple hues on the eyes and a finish that provided a wide range of expressions of both wines!

The food pairing last night was baked chicken enchiladas. The enchiladas were made with chicken, flour tortillas, cream cheese, corn, salsa and spices. A homemade red enchilada sauce was prepared using tomato sauce, lime juice, crushed red pepper flakes, mesquite seasoning, chili powder, ground cumin, Sriracha, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, ground Himalayan salt and ground black pepper. Served with fresh purple onion slices and topped with salsa. Muy caliente (very hot) for sure, but the with the fruit profiles of the both Tempranillo and Grenache, it was a soothing influence of the spiciness of the enchiladas and sauce.

You can read more about other wines at Gossamer Cellars at:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2019/01/18/gossamer-cellars-a-unique-find/

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2019/09/19/gossamer-cellars-2014-negroamaros/

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/02/09/2018-gossamer-cellars-treixadura-a-heavy-weight-white-wine-a-great-fish-pairing-wine/

This wine could be enjoyed with so many different foods as it flavor profile range is large and all encompassing. This food and wine were made for each other and their warm embrace served for an enjoyable dinner!

Sláinte,

Michael
https://californiawinesandwineries.com
http://restless-frog.com/

2016 Cecu d’la Biunda Roero Arneis DOCG – An Overlooked White Wine from Piedmont, Italy

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Going out of California once again with this wine from dinner last night at Vine 18. Vine 18 is the new restaurant at The Golf Club at Copper Valley. Piedmont is well known for Nebbiolo and production of Barolo and Barbaresco.  Arneis is well known in the region but not so much in the United States. This wine is dedicated to Grandfather Francesco Carbone (or “Cecu d’la Biunda” or “son of the blond woman” in the local dialect. The wine grows in the limy soils of the surrounding Vezza Valley. Historically it has been referred to as the “white neighbor” of Nebbiolo to signify its quality and importance to the region.

Roero wines include red Roero as well as white Roero Arneis. The name “Roero Arneis” are made from 95% Arneis grapes and the balance from non-aromatic white varieties of the Piedmont region. Roero became a DOC region in 1985 and a DOCG region in 2005.

On the eyes a straw yellow color with sparkling golden highlights. On the nose and palate extremely floral nuances, orange blossom, mint and sage.  Cecu has a strong minerality in the mouth but play harmonious with the floral notes. This wine while from an inland area, is ideal for fish.

Since this was my first time tasting this wine, I also brought a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc as a backup!  The Arneis was so refreshing and paired exquisitely with the fresh halibut served over “dirty rice”. Two others had the halibut and agreed the Arneis was the wine of choice with this meal.

We also tasted a 2017 Duckhorn Monitor Ledge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2015 Young’s Reserve Petite Sirah for good measure!

I am now looking for this beautiful white wine to keep in stock in the cellar, especially for fresh fish dishes.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com