The Name Coup de Foudre
First off how does one pronounce Coup de Foudre? Relatively easily as “koo dah foo drah”! Now that we have established one fact, what does it mean? Coup de Foudre translated means “when lightning strikes”. It is basically that moment that is special and you want to capture it forever. The romantic story behind the label is easily read on their website as told by the owner John Schwartz, is good read. A nice touch with a bonus. Not only is the name unique, but the label was a big surprise! It is a peel off label with one side the same as the bottle label and the other side a notepad of who, where, when and why you shared this wine. A very clever and smart idea for a remembrance!
The Winery and Winemaker
This wine comes from their four acre Calistoga vineyard. They also produce a Cuvee blend, Les Bouquinistes (Bordeaux blend), Pinot Noir (from vineyards in Sonoma), their Lightning Bolt (Cabernet Sauvignon with special barrel treatment), Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc and even offer their Coup de Fole (Brut Champagne from Epernay, France). Most of their wines rate between 94 points to 97 points by Antonio Galloni and Robert Parker. The winemaker is Kent Jarman learning and perfecting his trade at Kenefick Ranch, Somerston and Chappellett Winery to name a few.
The Wine – 2012 Coup de Foudre Cabernet Sauvignon
This vintage was made up with 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot. It was aged 22 months in 75% new French barrels. The added grape varietals can be seen in the deep red/purple coloring in the glass. On the nose, black and blue fruits abound. On the palate, one quickly picks up a dusty earthiness, slight tobacco and vanilla. The finish has both structure and defined tannins. I picked up this bottle almost five years ago and it could have gone another 3-4 years in the cellar. Only 650 cases were produced. Current release of this wine sells for $115.
The Food Pairing
Last night a 1 ½ inch Ribeye steak, seared and BBQed and served medium rare with a luscious pink center. Sides included a thin whole wheat noodles coked in olive oil and Parmesan cheese. A Blue Cheese & bacon fresh garden salad (not in the picture) was also part of the meal. A wonderful marriage of food and wine!
While I don’t want to be hit by lightning, I could easy be convinced to drink another bottle of Coup de Foudre.
Terminim, a collaboration between Francois Villard and Donald Patz, produced this 2018 Cepages d’Or. The grapes come from Alder Springs Vineyard in Mendocino County, California. Here they combined four exquisite grapes to form a blend of golden wine (Cepages d’ Or). The four grapes were 54% Marsanne, 22% Roussanne, 12% Viognier and 12% Picpoul Blanc. This golden concoction provided the most robust wine I have tasted in recent memory. The viscosity was heavy, one twirl and it stopped in its tracks! On the nose and mouth, a symphony of flavors burst every nanosecond to provide one of the most thrilling white wines in the market. Strong praise and strongly deserved.
So let’s discuss the key varietals used and each of their contributions to this wine:
First, Marsanne. Marsanne provides depth and rich textures on the palate with a touch of honeydew melon. Additionally Marsanne helps in the viscosity with a fine silkiness. Some of the key components are highlighted by honey-melon and apricot notes with layers of almonds and hazelnuts. It is a good counterbalance to Roussanne.
Secondly, Roussanne. Roussanne is powerful with floral aromatics, with hints of peaches, pears and with a rich and smooth mouthful texture. Roussanne on the eye is a light golden straw and medium viscosity. On the eye and palate, it possesses an elegant finesse with floral aromatics, hints of pear, apricots and with a rich and silky smooth mouthful texture almost creamy. The finish provides a soft nutty texture of almond and a hint of honey with a distinct minerality. Roussanne brings more acidity, elegance and floral aromatic complexities to the wine. Perfect for fish and shell fish.
Thirdly, Viognier. Viognier provides mouth filling textures of minerality, flowers and chalkiness.
Fourth and lastly, Picpoul Blanc. On the nose pineapple is one of the predominate scents coupled with minerality. Picpoul means to “sting the lips” yet this varietal has a much more embracing and disguised light sweetness. Picpoul is meant for seafood. As an aside, less than 100 acres are planted with this grape varietal in the USA!
Add some unique barreling and production secrets and one can only marvel sipping this wine.
These ingredients make one great wine, especially for seafood. Paired with a lightly seared sashimi grade ahi tuna (pink in the middle) with a homemade recipe of soy sauce, white wine vinegar, minced garlic, wasabi, ginger paste, fresh squeezed lemon juice, lemon infused olive oil, rainbow peppercorns and Himalayan pink sea salt. This wine and fish become one delightful and filling meal. Add a garden salad and life is good!
This wine has already made my list of Best of Wines for 2020 which comes out in December. The winery sells this for $40.
This 2018 Pinot Noir has enough power and kick to entice and win over any Cabernet Sauvignon drinkers. A bold statement, but Donald Patz has once again provided a “knock out” Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley, specifically the Martaella Vineyard. This is not your “delicate, light and feathery” Pinot Noir. Maritana wines, both Chardonnay and his Pinot Noir’s are all being sourced from various Russian River vineyards.
The Martaella Vineyard
It is located west of Santa Rosa in the Russian River Valley (AVA). Some of the best Pinot Noir grapes are grown in this valley, with the cool fog from the ocean, advancing along the meandering river. The Dijon clone 943 grapes were the majority used for this production. He also sources grapes from Dutton Ranch, Jenkins Ranch, Moonshine Ranch and Martinelli River Road Ranch for his Pinot Noir’s. To read more about Maritana and his other projects, Secret Door Wines & Terminim Wines, see a previously published article: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2018/12/06/maritana-vineyards-four-aces-on-the-first-vintage/ and https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2018/08/15/secret-door-winery/
First on the eyes you can see an enchanting purple hue with a deep crimson color. On the nose and palate, this wine wins you over immediately with notes of Bing cherries, cranberries, strawberries and a hint of rhubarb. Spices delightfully dance in the mouth with nutmeg, clove and cinnamon. The interplay between the sweet (fruit berries) and sour (cranberry & rhubarb) was spectacular. Noted was that the wine provides a strong tannin and structure, not typically shown in most Pinot Noir’s. The finish, which was chewy and mouth puckering, which provided an earthiness almost a damp forest floor flavor (mushrooms). This wine can be enjoyed immediately or one to “lay down” for 5-10 years. On their website the price is listed as $70.
The Food Pairing
With the warm summer heat upon us, the meal that accompanied the wine was a “light lemon chicken Piccata”, Udon noodles with Teriyaki spices (but no Teriyaki sauce) with sautéed broccoli and a garden salad with Blue cheese dressing. This played harmoniously with the Pinot Noir.
As I stated in the title, this Pinot Noir will win you over, even as a Cabernet Sauvignon enthusiast! As Pinot Noir enthusiast, you will be enthralled with this presentation.
The mistaken identity was not by Steven Kent Winery but by me! I am a BIG, BIG fan of Steven Mirassou wines (Lineage, Steven Kent Winery, Mia Nipote and Ragbag Works) for almost twenty years. Fortunately I have had many of his varietals which occupy my cellar still today. One which I had been historically slow to pull the trigger on, was his Cabernet Franc. I had remembered it being a “lighter Cabernet Franc” both in texture, color and flavor. The other night, we opened his 2016 Cabernet Franc and I was pleasantly surprised and astonished by the aroma, complexity and finish of this wine. I should have been trying this wine each release!
His 2016 Cabernet Franc is a part of his Small Lot offering made of 100% Cabernet Franc. He sources the grapes from Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard 67% and Sachau Vineyard 33%. It is 100% Cabernet Franc. It is aged in hand selected 20% new French oak barrels for 18-20 months. Steven, ever the perfectionist, proposed to mitigate the “oak influence” so that the herbal (green bell pepper, pyrazines) could be juggled with the fruit characteristics. Combining two vineyards, he was able to also extract different fruit and levels of acidity, to blend to a desirable level. A lot of thought and effort went into this vintage. On the eyes, a purple and red brick hue with a vivid clarity. On the nose, blackberry, blueberry, fig and prunes were present along with floral notes of violets. In the palate, the key herbal quality of bell pepper were interlaced with the sweetness of vanilla and caramel. Additionally, minerality and soft leather came through in the finish. The winery retails it for $48.
I now will be gathering a few bottles of this 2016 for the cellar. Additionally, I will not make the same mistake twice and will be tasting each subsequent release of Steven Kent’s Cabernet Franc.
Dinner last night with a magical 2018 Maritana Chardonnay Sonoma County Russian River La Riviere. While Donald had many years ago produced Chardonnay’s but has been known as an industry leader for his Pinot Noir’s. I was expecting a good solid wine, but what my palate tasted was “total astonishment”. First on the eyes, the clarity and brightness was ethereal straw golden yellow. It was a refined and delicate Chardonnay with soft lemon custard and a Red Delicious apple, mildly sweet with a caramel finish. As the wine settles in the back of mouth, a minerality of a babbling brook or creek came to mind. This wine was of another spectrum of quality found only in wines in a much higher in price range ($100). This wine reminded me of the higher end Kistler Chardonnay or Peter Michael Chardonnay, specifically La Carriere. Current price is $55.
A skillet prepared swordfish in a Mediterranean style with minced garlic, lime juice, fresh lemon juice, basil, balsamic vinegar, pinch of Cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, lemon infused olive oil, Himalayan Sea salt and a variety of colored grounded peppercorns. Also a mix of long grain and wild rice with a garden salad.
For a complete story on Donald Patz’s wines see: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2018/12/06/maritana-vineyards-four-aces-on-the-first-vintage/
Lunch today with a 2018 Maritana Chardonnay Sonoma County Russian River La Riviere. While Donald had many years ago produced Chardonnay’s but has been known as an industry leader for his Pinot Noir’s. I was expecting a good solid wine, but what my palate tasted was “total astonishment”. This wine was of another spectrum of quality found only in wines in a much higher in price range ($100). First on the eyes, the clarity and brightness was ethereal straw golden yellow. It was a refined and delicate Chardonnay with soft lemon custard and a Red Delicious apple, mildly sweet with a caramel finish. As the wine settle in the back of mouth, a minerality of a babbling brook or creek came to mind. This wine reminded me of the higher end Kistler Chardonnay and Peter Michael Chardonnay, specifically La Carriere. With Maguro sashimi, wasabi and fresh ginger.
For a previous story on Donald Patz and his amazing line up of wines click on: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2018/12/06/maritana-vineyards-four-aces-on-the-first-vintage/
Did an encore of a previous dinner for a couple who liked the post on the Flat Iron steak with Blue Cheese and chive butter. The changeup last evening, was to taste two different and exquisite wine from Vinoce Vineyards in a side by side comparison with the meal. The wines were a 2017 Vinoce Cabernet Sauvignon from Saint Helena and 2016 Vinoce Cabernet from Mount Veeder.
Started the evening with a “secret recipe” lemon drop martini with lemon/sugar rim and appetizers.
Last night seared and grilled (BBQ) Flat Iron Steak topped with Blue Cheese-Chive Butter. Accompanied by twice baked potatoes with cheese, sautéed broccoli & mushrooms, toasted sourdough garlic & butter bread and a Greek salad (Feta cheese, toasted almonds, olives, purple onion and tomatoes). The steak was marinated 36 hours in red wine vinegar, cloves of garlic, cracked black pepper, dried Rosemary leaves (crumbled), dried oregano, Kosher salt and olive oil. The Chive butter used unsalted butter, crumbled Point Reyes Blue cheese, chopped fresh chives and cracked black pepper.
Dessert was individual lemon berry cheesecake parfaits, with berry a preserves and topped with blue berries.
Our guests and friends provided the lemon drop martinis and the rich, decadent dessert, to introduce and conclude the meal. Thanks Steve and Darlene Besst.
Conclusion on the Wines
The 2017 Vinoce St Helena was a smooth and pleasant wine to be enjoyed with or without food. While a year younger than the other wine for the evening, the blackberry and dark cherry sprung to life on the nose and palate. The tannins were subtle and a bit muted, but provided for a rounded and drinkable wine. The finish was bright with acidity and a hint of tobacco. The prepared meat, with the spices, tended to override the supreme qualities of the wine.
The 2016 Vinoce Mt Veeder worked magic with the meal. It was a big Napa Valley Cabernet with defined tannins and well structured. The darker coloring in the glass gave a hint as to its pedigree. On the nose and palate, dark fruits, vanilla pipe tobacco, blackberries, black cherries, pepper and residual oak provided the perfect infusion, along with the acidity, to match the seared flat iron steak and spices. The finish was especially long lasting with layers of complexity and delight.
So if you want a wonderful sipping wine, the 2017 Vinoce St Helena would fill the bill. If you wanting a wine to pair to an intensely season meat dish, the 2016 Vinoce Mt Veeder is a right on target.
For more information on Vinoce Vineyards, see a previous published story at: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/05/18/vinoce-vineyards-2016-mt-veeder-cabernet-franc/
A mix up with a vineyard proved to a great thing for Frog’s Tooth Winery located in Murphys, California in the Sierra Foothills. They were expected to get close to two tons of fruit from a small vineyard in Healdsburg, California (Sonoma Valley). Instead they received less than a half of ton of grapes. They originally decide to use it for blending. They used 100% new French oak barrels. Processed it using cold maceration or a cold soak was used pre-fermentation. This provided a richer color and more fruit forward flavor. As it developed, they regrouped and opted to sell it as a standalone 100% varietal wine. Unfortunately this only allowed them to produce 24 cases of this spectacular wine! Rather than label the bottle, they silkscreened the bottle to further highlight it as special product.
This wine was almost “black” in the glass with a high viscosity. On the nose and palate, ripe plum, licorice, a black cherry/fig compote and tobacco element were very present. The finish provided a strong earthiness and mineral residue which lasted some time. This gave this wine an “old world feel” in the mouth. Will Houle, the winemaker, in my humble opinion, just made his best wine! It is avaialbe for $75.
Now if you can’t secure it quickly as they will sell out from the tasting room, have no fear as they have secured an Alicante Bouschet vineyard in the Sierra foothills for the next release. By the way, Frog’s Tooth Winery tasting room will be re-opening on June 12th. Hint: get up there quickly if you want a unique and tasty Alicante Bouschet.
For a complete rundown on Frog’s Tooth Winery, see a previous story at: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2019/07/11/frogs-tooth-vineyards-a-big-jump/
Paired this wine with a taco salad this week and it was remarkable.
This wine was a “true dark horse” in more than one way. First I had previously never tasted anything from Kenefick Ranch, so it was a bit unknown. But as soon as it was poured, with its dark violet and crimson coloring, I knew something truly special was about to happen. Sure enough. from out of nowhere, this wine became an instant winner!
The Kenefick family has roots back to Ireland as farmers. They made their way originally to Iowa and then Minnesota. Tom Kenefick was the third in his family as a physican and then went on as a practicing neurosurgeon in San Francisco. He found the property of 250 acres in 1978. On site, the goal was to focus on Bordeaux style varietals. Today they produce Petit Sirah, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and a red blend. Also they have a few whites, like Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc and a white blend. Most of the wines are award winning with scores in the 93 to 95 point range.
This 2016 Cabernet Franc is Estate grown in Kenefick Ranch sustainable farmed vineyards in Calistoga. The wine consists of 82% Cabernet Franc, 9% Merlot and 9% Petit Verdot. It was aged 18 months in 65% new French oak and 35% neutral French oak barrels. Only 400 cases were produced. On the eyes, it is bold and begs one to be introduced to its welcoming and bright personality. On the nose, red cherry and plum swell into the olfactory senses. Once on the palate, soft leather, sweet pipe tobacco, chocolate and cherries swirl in the mouth. And when it warms up, the hint of pyrazine, the scent of green bell peppers wafted in the air as all good Cabernet Franc’s do. The finish was strong and long lasting. It will go at least another 10 years in the cellar. This wine was rated at 94 points and is priced at $50.
At California Wines and Wineries Annual Cabernet Franc Wine Competition it was rated by the Professional Judges for a Gold Medal. The People’s Choice Judges, gave it a Bronze Medal.
So this “unknown dark horse” came out galloping to the winners circle. Can’t wait to taste some of their other Bordeaux varietals as I know they are thoroughbred stallions!
Tonight Grilled (BBQ) Flat Iron Steak with Blue Cheese-Chive Butter. Accompanied with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes with cheese and a Caesar salad. The steak was marinated 36 hours in red wine vinegar, cloves of garlic, cracked black pepper, dried Rosemary leaves (crumbled), dried oregano, Kosher salt and olive oil. The Chive butter used unsalted butter, crumbled Blue Cheese, chopped fresh chives and cracked black pepper.
Tried two Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines, La Quercia 2010 DOCG and a 2012 Lavs Vitae DOCP. Both conveyed a dark old world aromas, tastes with red/dark fruit, tobacco with structure and earthiness. Preferred the 2012 as the 2010 had just a hint of sweetness.
Then an apple crumb pie ala mode with a Ruby Port. High marks to Susan Becker Kelly!!! A great meal & wines with friends from the Bay Area.