Shadybrook Estate

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What a magnificent hidden gem beneath Mt George in the Coombsville AVA. Owners David and Alice Alkosser found a piece of heaven (see picture below). They are situated on 25 rolling hillside acres with a phenomenal views facing west and south. They have planted the five key Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec on this property.

I was introduced to Shadybrook by their prominent winemaker Rudy Zuidema with their inaugural 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon release. I have been a buyer for two additional releases without hesitation with the 2012 being exceptional. The 2012 Cab made my listing of “Top Wines in 2015”. Currently they are offering three wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Platine Blanc (in the tradition of whites from Bordeaux). All their wines are available with quantity limitations on purchases.

The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon is large, smooth and with many layers of complexity. Rudy’s description includes “with accents of ripe black cherry and berries accented by notes of kirsch, mocha and spice along with fresh hints of forest floor and earth after a spring rain.” And “with core flavors following on from the nose and underlying highlights of cocoa and sweet tobacco”. That alone should motivate anyone to secure an allocation with Karen McFarland, the General Manager who is both pleasant and helpful. It is a wine to drink today and will only improve will laying it down (if you have the patience!).

Rudy has tipped his hat that 2014 vintage will include an additional new wine from Shadybrook which will incorporate all five Bordeaux varietals.  Also that the 2015 wines, while less tonnage, have made for a complex and concentrate juice with great color and tannins.  This assures continued quality wines being produced for their loyal following.

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Lail Vineyards

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New to me, Lail Vineyards Blueprint 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon made the “Best of 2015” on my list. Lail can be tasted at Ma(i)sonry in Yountville. Philippe Melka lends his winemaking skills to this full body, rich and drinkable wine. Antonio Galloni rated it 94 pts. It is not a wine to hold, but to enjoy today. One of the best young wines I have tasted. Grapes come from a variety of areas: Howell Mtn, Oakville, Calistoga, Yountville & Coombsville. When they say the sum is greater than parts, this is the wine that exemplifies this saying! At $80 list price, this is a solid find.
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Entre Nous Winery

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Tip of the day between us, which happens to be the translation of “Entre Nous” Winery– one of Napa Valley’s gems located in Oakville. Small boutique production from winemaker Philippe Melka producing their award winning Cabernet Sauvignon. Wine Advocate rates their wines consistently between 94-96 points, including the 2009 at 98 pts by Parker. The Cab is so smooth with cherries, plums and violets on the palate, yet with strong tannins strong enough to lay the wine down until 2030. Kristine Klussman, owner has assembled the best of the best (Philippe) and General Manager Joe Filippini. I have had the pleasure to know Joe for the last 6 years, he is truly genuine with an exuberant personality worthy of representing this wine. Entre Nous also features a crisp & mineral Sauvignon Blanc and an unique Cabernet Sauvignon Rose. This is the real deal, so let’s keep it “between us”.


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Detert Family Vineyards

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When looking at the Detert Family Vineyards logo one might expect a “gnarly, rough and tumble” wine perhaps. Nothing could be further from the truth as their Cabernet Franc is smooth, a full mouth lingering pleasant concoction of chocolate, and numerous layers of berries and tobacco. Tom Garret hosted me two years back and with his experience at Turley, Joseph Phelps, Robert Mondavi, and under Heidi Peterson Barrett as her assistant winemaker for Revana, he has “it down pat”. This fall they hosted an event at their property in Oakville (pictures). Here I met John Garret but did not meet Bill Cover – all three are involved in running the business. For two years in a row their Cabernet Franc made the “Best of the Year” on my favorites for the year.


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California Wines & Wineries Blog's photo.
California Wines & Wineries Blog's photo.

Food Pairing with Sashimi

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Question: What is your choice of wine with this nice looking plate of Maguro sashimi? Mine is a Crocker & Starr Sauvignon Blanc.
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O’Shaughnessy Estate Wines

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Irish eyes are always smiling on O’Shaughnessy Estate Wines! For the last 9 years they have consistently delivered some of the best wines out of Napa. Unique to Napa is their planting of all eight of the Bordeaux blending varietals–Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Malbec, Carmenere, St. Macaire, and Gros Verdot. Their homeruns wines are the Howell Mtn & Mt Veeder Cabernet’s — big, chewy, lots of fruit, deep intense coloring, both promising a euphoric tasting experience. Parker & Galloni consistently rate their wines from 95 to 98 points. If you could only buy or taste two wines showing the high quality of Howell Mtn & Mt Veeder, you need to only get these. O’Shaughnessy also produces a Napa Valley Cab, Merlot and Chardonnay which sell out quickly. The tasting room staff, winemaker Sean Capiaux and Viticulturist Alan Peirson form a synchronized team. By the way, their manicured vineyards are a piece of art. Slainte!


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New Feature Added

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Just added to all recommended wines and wineries, the ability to put the cursor over the winery and their website will come up. Click and their site will appear.

Sulfites in Wine: Friend or Foe

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SULFITES — Friend or Foe of Wine? Below is an excellent link to answer these questions.
In summary, there are four major myths regarding Sulfites:
1. Sulfites in wine causes headaches – FALSE
2. Red wines contain the highest levels of sulfites –FALSE. White wines have almost twice as much and canned soup has six times as much sulfites!
3. Sulfites do not occur naturally – FALSE. Your body produces 10-20 times the amount found in Red Wine daily! Also, sulfites occur naturally in the fermentation process.
4. Sulfites affect the flavor of wine – FALSE. Generally they are so low, they help preserve not take away from the flavor.
Read the following article for more info: http://learn.winecoolerdirect.com/wine-sulfites/ and other one: http://winefolly.com/tutorial/sulfites-in-wine/
If you still doubt, perhaps try a sulfite filter to get wine to a natural state: http://ullowine.com/

Mia Nipote

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Mia Nipote, a Livermore AVA wine, is fairly new to the business. That said this is no ordinary “mom & pop” garage operation. In fact just the opposite is true! The best word to describe their operation is QUALITY. From the hiring of the top tier winemaker (Chad Alexander), to Viticulturists (Bryan Rahn, Michael Princeville) to selected Clones (337,7,191) to manicured “V” trellis system to 75% new French barrels each year this is no ordinary Livermore wine. The proof is in their award winning 2010, 2011 & just released 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (2010 & 2012 are my favorites). They also produce and sell a 2014 Sauvignon Blanc with fresh citrus and pineapple coming through. Their Wine Club has release parties held either at their home or this fall at Castlewood CC along with food and live music. So while Lynn and Kevin, owners will talk about the tribute of their wine to her grandfather (Mia Nipote is Italian for “my granddaughter”), I think it a testament of a commitment to quality at every turn of the operation, up to and including a “heavy weight bottle” and classic labeling. Definitely a wine for your cellar. Great job!



Outpost Wines

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Picture yourself here at Outpost Wines on top of Howell Mountain(2200 feet elevation) on a warm summer day! The only thing more spectacular than the view, is their assortment of wines. For two years in a row, I have rated their Cabernet Sauvignon in the “Best of the Year” category. Thomas Rivers Brown is the winemaker and offers The Outpost 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon True which scored 99 points from Robert Parker. On the 28 acres estate they produce one of the most unique Grenache wines (whole cluster fermentation) I have tasted–definitely try the 2013! Also available are the Cab Sauv Estate, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Chardonnay. Frank Dotzler, the owner has put together a first class team from the tasting room to production.


California Wines & Wineries Blog's photo.
California Wines & Wineries Blog's photo.