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2017 Lions Peak Petit Verdot

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Quick Background

Petit Verdot may be the next varietal making a big splash! Generally it has been a blending grape for highly sought out Bordeaux wines. Recently more wineries are producing Petit Verdot varietals. A quick background on this “little green one” (translation) as it got its name from being a late ripening warm climate variety. Petit Verdot is one of the five grapes going into the modern Bordeaux blend. Because of its strong presence, generally less than 5% of Petit Verdot is added as it produces a dark color, tannin and floral aromas. More and more 100% varietal Petit Verdot is finding its way into wineries and wine shops.

The Winery – Lions Peak

Lions Peak was founded in 1992 by Jennifer Arant. Up until this year the property of 128 acres and with 40 acres planted was their estate vineyard. The winery has primarily concentrated on Bordeaux and Rhone varietals of grapes. Other wines produced include various red and white blends, Rose’s, sparkling wine and dessert wines.

The vineyards were recently sold and she will source her grapes from a variety of vineyards around California. She has previously used grapes from other vineyards in Paso Robles, Santa Barbara and Monterey AVA’s. She is currently looking to Santa Rita Hills to provide additional Chardonnay & Pinot Noir grapes for some new vintages.

The Wine – 2017 Lions Peak Petit Verdot

Having never tried wine from Lions Peak previously, I was curious and anxious to sip the wine. At first upon the eyes, it was dark and had a mysterious allure in the color, with radiant purple and magenta hues. On the nose, aromas of black fruits blackberry, black cherry and plum were prominent. Secondary aromas of dried herbal and floral notes of violet and sage sprang forth. On the palate, previous aromas burst through coupled with cedar, anise, sage and violet abounded. Dense and mouth filling is best to describe this wines “thickness and bold fruit”. The finish is where a pleasant surprise caught me off guard. Rather than the high tannins with angular definition, this was rounded and smooth with an underlying structure. Little smoke and rustic characteristics were found! It presented itself as a being a thoroughbred stallion with smoothness and silkiness. Medium acidity only enhanced the smoothness for an enjoyable finish and allowed a slight vanilla and hazelnut to surface.

The wine was aged in 100% French oak and received 94 Points & Double Gold Award at Orange County Fair. Also the wine won a Gold Medal at the San Francisco Wine Competition.  A very fine and delightful Petit Verdot.  Their website shows it selling for $75/bottle and only 64 cases were produced.

The Food and Wine Pairing

Paired with an olive oil rubbed pork roast that was moist and delicious. It was initially roasted at high temperatures and then cooked at a lower temperature to seal in the flavors, keeping it moist. Seasoned with garlic salt, smoked Applewood salt, coarse black pepper and whole garlic cloves inserted into the meat.  

The pork slices were drizzled with Steward & Jasper Orchards Cherry Pepper Sauce. The red cherry provided a counter point to the garlic and embraced the wine. Served with a cheese tortellini pasta and broccoli. A fresh garden salad also accompanied the meal. Definitely a winning combination this evening.

Looking forward to trying some of Lions Peak additional Bordeaux varietals in the near future.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://lionspeakwine.com/

www.stewardandjasper.com

2021 Acquiesce Winery Picpoul Blanc, Mahi-mahi and a Birthday Party!

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The Winery

A lot has been written on Acquiesce Winery & Susan Tipton who turned the landscape of Lodi’s red wine region on its head with lesser known “white wines only”!  For further background information see a previous published story at:

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

Susan was also named Best Woman Winemaker for 2022 at the International Women’s Wine Competition.

The Wine

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Tonight’s wine is one which has made my yearly Best Wines Tasted for years 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 for previous vintages. However, this was the 2021 Acquiesce Picpoul Blanc, which up until now I had not tasted with food.  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 on the finish. The finish produced a full mouthful of wonderment. This wine was made to pair with oysters in Europe.

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 an excellent wine and it received a score of 98 points and has won the following awards:

*Double Gold – 98 pts – 2022 International Women’s Wine Competition

*Gold – 96 Pts – 2022 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition

*Gold – 90 pts – Orange County Wine Competition

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

The Food and Wine Pairing

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Paired last Friday at our Wine & Dine Group held at Verona18 at Copper Valley Clubhouse. Ordered a special for the evening, grilled Mahi-mahi topped with a pineapple chutney. Served with leek risotto and vegetable medley. The fish was prepared spot on and the wine paired excellent with the pineapple chutney. We also had two winemakers join us Rhonda Wood and Larry Dino with their spouses.

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

It was a special night as it was also Peter Singh’s birthday! Picture above is Peter with his wife Ansuiya who brought homemade cream puffs drizzled with chocolate for dessert. With nineteen in attendance and every couple bringing a bottle or more, it was an enjoyable night with wines from Livermore Valley, Paso Robles, Calaveras County, Lodi, Spain, Napa Valley and San Benito County!

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.acquiescevineyards.com/

https://www.coppervalleygolf.com/homepage/current-operations

https://www.coppervalleygolf.com/

2020 Wood Family Vineyards “El Loco Rojo” Blend

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Background

A utility player in sports is one who can play various positions competently. So it is with the 2020 Wood Family El Loco Rojo blend. Had tasted previous vintages before, all being good but never did a deep dive on it before. This was a pleasant and enjoyable surprise!

The wine is called El Loco Rojo, initially after a relative of the Wood Family. The legend is about a red-headed man, who was the life of the party, yet somehow managed to be “cool”. Rhonda Wood describes him as someone who will “bring a smile to your face, regardless of your mood” and “his love is boundless and his attitude is contagious”. Now who would not like a wine that could evoke such an affect?

The Wine, 2020 El Loco Rojo Wood Family Vineyards

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

To be clear this is not an off-handed whimsical wine, it is a serious “Bordeaux style blend”. It is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot. Blends can cut two ways: a superb combinations of wonderful grapes or unfortunately many blends can leave you flat with an amalgamation of mediocrity. Not this wine!  You can dissect and pick out the essential components while tasting the wine. First on the eyes, a luminous royal purple in the glass and medium heavy viscosity. On the nose, blackberries are the predominate aroma. On the palate, one immediate picks up on dancing spices coming from the five ingredients.  On the finish, is where this wine excels with the varieties coming together like a live symphony with a combination of rounded tannins as well as some angular ones! The texture of the mellower Merlot and Malbec give a slight hint of sweetness but countered by the bolder Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This provides a never ending structure to be enjoyed and savored with a minuscule residual oak. The alcohol level is 14.2% and only 251 cases were produced. It will be released the end of November and goes for $44/bottle.

The Food and Wine Pairing

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Not having had this wine with food before, I chose to pair it with a pepperoni pizza last night. It played perfectly with the exciting TCU verses Texas college football game.  The wine being excellent with pizza, my thoughts quickly turned to what other foods this could be paired with it going forward. With the majority of the wine being Cabernet Sauvignon it opens up to a wide range of red meats, especially grilled steaks, rack of lamb and strong cheeses. In fact I was going to add Roquefort cheese on the pizza but really wanted to deconstruct the wine.  With the other varieties of grapes in the mix, so many options exist, thus the idea of this wine being the quintessential utility player.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://woodfamilyvineyards.com/

2018 La Quercia Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – Hard to Beat!

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This wine was especially interesting, and I want to clear up a common misconception. Montepulciano and Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo are two entirely different wines. Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo is a wonderful wine from the Abruzzo region in east-central Italy and not to be confused with the Montepulciano which is mainly Sangiovese grapes from Tuscany, in the north central and western area of Italy. Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo comes from this area overlooking the Adriatic Sea have ample sunlight, fog and ocean breezes to produce some highly developed and well-structured wines.

This wine is deeply colored inky red/purple with pepper spices notes. Often it is called “rustic”. In general, it is “aromatic, tannic and with low acidity”. Key flavors of cherry, blackberries are prevalent. On a palate, some delicious flavors of cherry, blackberries and ripe plums. On the finish a lovely soft tobacco, oak and vanilla rounded out the wine with a hint of earthiness. Often it possesses sweeter tannins and is appropriately paired with hot & spicy peppers, beef and pork dishes. Its ability to age in the cellar is up to 20 years and the price point can range from $8 to $200+. A delightful treat which is often overlooked and confused with the lighter Montepulciano from Tuscany. As the winemaker Antonio Lamona states “I want to make wines that are pleasing to the body and the spirit”. For the typical California wine drinker, you will be pleased if you get a nice bottle of Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo. This Riserva is aged two years in oak barrels creating spice and aromas with dark fruits and briarwood flavors.  Always a favorite wine! Price per bottle was $24/bottle. This was recommended as being better than the DOCG and it was wonderful.

Sláinte,


Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

I purchased this wine at The Wine Steward http://thewinesteward.com/

Starting and Stocking a Wine Cellar at Home: How to do it Right by Porch.com

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My article on the importance of humidity control inside the cellar was included by Porch.com on the topic called ” Starting and Stocking a Wine Cellar at Home: How to do it Right”. Other contributors wrote on temperature, temperature variability, movement, etc. are shared in this article. Here is the link:

https://porch.com/advice/starting-stocking-wine-cellar-home-right#Michael-Kelly

BTW, these readings are ambient temperature not bottle temperature which is control by the condenser.

Sláinte,

Michael Kelly

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

2009 Ackerman Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – A Real Treat

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The Winery- Quick Background

Ackerman Family Vineyards is owned and operated by Lauren Ackerman. The 16 acre site has approximately 10 acres planted in vines. Lauren began making wine at home in 1995. Then in 2003 was her initial launch into commercial production.  While she started out with only Cabernet Sauvignon, her portfolio now includes Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon, Alavigna Tosca (Sangiovese & Cabernet Sauvignon), Sauvignon Blanc, Memoir Red Blend and a fortified wine. Today her production is 3,000 cases. In 2009 she completed a three year process and was officially certified CCOF organic, the first in Coombsville AVA. Coombsville is a unique area for Napa Valley as it is a cooler region and gets the winds off San Pablo Bay. This provides a longer growing season allowing for a slower ripening of the vineyards compared to the warmer portions located in central and northern Napa Valley areas.    

Back in 2009, Ackerman Family Vineyards was unique in that 100% of their total net profits are donated to the Napa Valley Community Foundation! The foundation is a philanthropic bank for non-profits organizations focusing on youth and poverty. Tried repeatedly to get an update if this is still their charter but no response from the winery.

The Wine – 2009 Ackerman Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Pulled this gem out of the cellar for our Friday Night Wine & Dine Group. This was purchased back in 2013, has survived three moves and still delivered a mouth filling wine. On the eyes, a deep crimson color and medium-heavy viscosity. On the nose, raspberry and blackberries abound. On the palate, soft oak with licorice and a hint of smokiness. On the finish, great length with firmly defined structure and rounded tannins. About 500 cases were produced. The winery used for the 2009 vintage, all new French oak barrels and aged the wine two years before bottling. After bottling, it then sat for another two years before being released. Their current release is the 2019 and sells for $98/bottle.

The Food & Wine Pairing

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Although we did not have a wine specifically targeted for the dinner meal we still managed to have a few good wines from four different wine regions. Represented AVA’s (L to R) are 2013 Leal Vineyards Cabernet Franc from San Benito, 2019 Tobin James Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, 2009 Ackerman Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Coombsville (Napa Valley) and 2019 Newsome-Harlow Zinfandel from Calaveras County!

Sláinte,

Michael Kelly

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.ackermanfamilyvineyards.com/

https://www.coppervalleygolf.com/homepage/current-operations

https://www.coppervalleygolf.com/

2018 Mendel Malbec – A Mellow Wine To Warm Up With

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As is custom, a few times a month I select a wine other than from California. As we hit our first cold evening in California (40 degrees), went to the cellar and grabbed one of my favorite Malbec’s. It comes from the famous 3,000-foot elevation Uco Valley, in Mendoza wine region Argentina. This was a younger 2018 but have always enjoyed this wine. With the fireplace this turned out to be just a perfect wine!

The Wine -2018 Mendel Malbec

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

This wine is full bodied on the eyes with dark royal purple coloration. On the nose aromatic floral violets are also present. On the palate almost overpowering black and dark red fruits come to the forefront with tobacco, French oak, chocolate, black licorice and fresh leather.  On the finish a smoky almost open fire flavor resides in the mouth along with sharp and defined tannins. Subtle vanilla and caramel sneaks in to round out the finish with just a slight sweetness. Great structure, depth and enjoyment. The wine provides an “old world sense of being” from the Uco Valley. Aged 12 months in French oak barrels. Average price is roughly $23 to $25/bottle. This wine typically gets between 93 to 96 points year after year. James Suckling rated this 94 points. On this cool evening it was a 100 points for us!!

If you like Malbec, this is surely one to have in your cellar.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://mendel.com.ar/

https://thewinesteward.com   (where I purchased this wine)

2010 O’Shaughnessy Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon – A Great Treat On Halloween!

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The Wine – 2010 O’Shaughnessy Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

2010 O’Shaughnessy Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and a little Malbec and Merlot added for roundness. On the eyes an extremely dark purple and medium-heavy viscosity. On the nose an almost overwhelming experience of aromas of violets and blackberries. On the palate everything imaginable from a mountain fruit from Napa Valley. Ranging from dark chocolate, granite to boysenberry. Largely structured similar to the Rock of Gibraltar with immense tannins but is balanced as a tightrope walker with a silky smooth finish. For the last 17+ years always a perennial favorite wine. This was a perfect wine for a treat on Halloween. Robert Parker rated it 96 points, but I even believe it is higher! The current release is 2018 and is $100/bottle. 

And for the record we provided candy for the “trick or treaters” not the O’Shaughnessy!!


Sláinte,


Michael
https://californiawinesandwineries.com
https://www.oshaughnessywinery.com/

4th Annual International Cabernet Franc Wine Competition & Celebration Registration Is Now Open

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Who is this event for? For the 4th Annual Cabernet Franc Celebration, we have opened it up to both domestic and international producers of Cabernet Franc. Last year we had 12 states and four countries participating in the event representing some 70+ wines. Also it is for both those producing a Cabernet Franc varietal wine and for blends being 50% or higher with Cabernet Franc.

Why hold this event? It is to show the uniqueness and versatility of Cabernet Franc. To celebrate the wine as so much more than a blending grape. As Steven Kent Mirassou stated “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”. Cabernet Franc has adapted and transformed its personality from Chile, France, Canada, the east coast of the US, the Michigan peninsula, the Midwest and the west coast of the US.

How will the competition be judged? The event will be a blind tasting using the “Danish System”, sometimes called the group method. Unique to this event, two separate judging stations will be set up. The first will comprise of Professional Judges and the second being the People’s Choice Judges (serious consumers). Each set of Judges will award medals and award Best of Class and Best of Show based on price categories of wines (5).

Who are the judges? Tom Bender has agreed once again to head up the Professional Judging Panel(s). Tom has headed up the California Sierra Foothill Competition for over 35 years, served on California State Fair Judges, is a well-known writer for various wine magazines and teaches at a local college. Other judges include Mike Dunne retired food editor, wine columnist for the Sacramento Bee, distinguished judge at San Francisco Chronicle and other events, Fran Cunniffe a DipWSET and certified Sommelier, Tana Cole winemaker from Sonoma Valley & Lodi, and WSET I, II and III individuals. People Choice’s Judges are astute individuals with years of experience and collectors. All judges are prepared with extensive documentation and profiles on Cabernet Franc’s characteristics from various geographic areas.

Benefits for wineries participating? National exposure from California Wines and Wineries website which will run a full feature article on those receiving Best of Class and Best of Show (domestic and international). The story will also be sent to 70+ blogs for reposting and all social media for a reach of over 400,000. Additionally it will be submitted to two magazines with a reach of an additional 500,000 readership. The Best of Show winners will also be featured on the Cabernet Franc Day site, a Facebook blog and a podcast featured by Exploring the Wine Glass. Klearcut Media (Texas) has been invited to be on site to video graph the event for public relations for Copper Valley GC and Town Center.

Where is the event being held? It is being held at the recently remodeled Copper Valley Clubhouse in Copperopolis, California (Sierra foothills) March 29th, 2023 in the Grandview Room.

2023 registration can be found at https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2023-international-cab-franc-celebration/
Last Year’s Annual Cabernet Franc Winners of Best of Class and Best of Show include:
Jeff Runquist – Best of Class (Amador County)Villa Vallecito – Best of Class & Best of Show (Calaveras County)Titus Family Vineyards – Best of Class (Napa Valley)L’Autre Cote – Best of Class (Livermore Valley)Kautz & Kramer – Best of Class (Lodi)Dracaena Wines – Best of Class and Best of Show (Paso Robles)De Tierra Vineyards – Best of Class (Monterey)Bianchi Winery – Best of Class (Paso Robles)Cornerstone Cellars – Best of Class (Napa Valley)

Partial listing of previous year’s winners of Best of Class and Best of Show include: Diamond Mountain Vineyards (Napa Valley), Vinoce (Napa Valley), Shale Canyon (Monterey County), Steven Kent (Livermore Valley), Cuda Ridge (Livermore Valley), Grizzly Peak (Colorado), Silenus Winery (Napa Valley), Brecon Estate (Paso Robles), 3 Steves (Livermore Valley), Detert Family Vineyards (Napa Valley), Mira Winery (Napa Valley) and several others.

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Two Additional Events open to the public will follow the competition:The first event is scheduled for past Best of Class and Best of Show winners or runner ups to pour at a Cabernet Franc Wine Stroll on Saturday April 15th, 2023. This will include an exquisite 30 foot charcuterie board. There will be two sessions, 11:30 am to 2 pm and 2:30 pm to 5 pm and limited to 125 per session. Details and ticket information will be available mid-February. The wineries will have the option to pour their other wines also.The second event is a gourmet dinner featuring four invited Cabernet Franc wine producers on Saturday April 22nd, 2023 in the evening. This will be limited seating for 120 people. Dinner will be provided by Executive Chef Jaime Alderete. Details and ticket information will be available mid-February.
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Our mailing address is: mkellywine@gmail.com

2014 Lost Blues Syrah – “Walking Boss”

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The Winery

It was founded in 2012 by Gio Grandinetti in Paso Robles, California. Having had this wine once before in February 2019, I wanted to get some background information on the winery and winemaker. Unfortunately, I found out he is retiring his brand! If you have any of his wine, consider yourself one lucky individual.  

The Wine – 2014 Lost Blues “Walking Boss” Syrah

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

One of the better Syrah wines tasted. At a tasting event, knew it was a good wine so I purchased two bottles back in late 2016/early 2017. Had one bottle in February 2019 and opened the other last night for dinner. On the eyes, a deep dark ruby color and heavy viscosity. On the nose a bit underwhelmed most likely because I just pulled it out of cellar and it was a bit cool or perhaps is was lying in wait to spring forth like a lion. Once in the mouth, all kinds’ of dark fruits appeared with plum and dark cherries leading the parade. Secondary flavors of peppercorn, smoke and herbaceous notes danced in the mouth. The finish was long lasting with a smidgen of sweetness at the very end.

The wine was made with whole cluster fermentation, then aged 22 months in new French oak barrels. This was a great expression of this varietal. Only 92 cases produced and sold for $48/bottle.

The Food and Wine Pairing

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Paired last night with a favorite fall comfort food of meat loaf and baked Russet potato with fresh chives, accompanied by a fresh garden salad. The meat loaf was drizzled with Stewart & Jasper Orchards Cherry Pepper Sauce made with chilies and cherries. Added just a few drops of Tabasco Sauce to further spice up the meat loaf. The pairing was exquisite with the cherry flavors in the wine and the cherry in the sauce. The fruit counterbalanced the spice of the Tabasco and chilies in the sauce.

I sent Gio a note and hope to get an update as to his next steps and can only hope he is going to continue to produce wine, be it for himself or someone else.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.stewartandjasper.com/