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Detert Family Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Franc and 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – Great Wines!

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The Winery

Those familiar with Detert Family Vineyards know that Detert is an established winery. W.F. Detert came to the US in 1866. He operated a gold mine in Jackson, sold it and in 1912 he owned 22,000 acres in Guenoc Ranch in Lake County as well as other ranches/gold mines in Amador Placer and El Dorado Counties. W.F. died in 1929 and it was managed by his son Richard Detert who died in 1951. Tom Garrett, one of the current owners, great-grandmother, Hedwig Detert, sold the Guenoc Ranch and purchased 50 acres of the To Kalon Vineyard from Martin Stelling estate in Oakville in 1954.That is when the Detert Vineyard was named. Today it is known as one of the most prestigious vineyards in all of Napa Valley. In 1966 Detert Vineyards started selling their grapes to Robert Mondavi. For many years Robert used Detert Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc for blending.  Today the owners of Detert are all great grandsons of Hedwig Detert: Tom Garrett, John Garrett and Bill Cover. Their first commercial wines were Cabernet Franc (2000) and Cabernet Sauvignon (2002).


The Winemaker

Tom Garrett is the winemaker for the Detert Family Vineyards. Tom started in 1999 at Turley Wine Cellars and then over the next 15 years worked at various wineries. The list shows some exceptional wineries such as Joseph Phelps, Robert Mondavi and Revana Family Vineyards. Tom focused his time with Detert and his other winery Dakota Shy. Tom is well known and perhaps one of the most congenial and pleasant people in Napa Valley. Over the ten years I have known Tom he is always flexible and available to assist, even dropping off wine at another winery for me on more than one occasion!

The Wines

Last week pulled two exquisite bottles out of the cellar. The first bottle was the 2014 Cabernet Franc. The extremely dark and lush color and medium-heavy viscosity entices one to sip and taste. On the nose black cherries engulfed the olfactory senses. On the palate, soft vanilla pipe tobacco, black pepper contrast with chocolate flavors.  The finish was long and extremely enjoyable. This is a quality Cabernet Franc and something special to participate in drinking. Even being 12 years old, (8 years in the cellar), it was bright with fruit, well-structured with tannins and layers of enjoyment. The current allocated release of their 250 cases of 2018 Cabernet Franc sells for $95.

The second bottle was the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. When looking at the Detert Family Vineyards logo one might expect a “gnarly, rough and tumble” wine. Nothing could be further from the truth. This Cabernet Sauvignon was smooth and feminine with softness. Again, a dark red crimson color on the eyes. On the nose floral notes of violets, cherry and black licorice. On the palate, everything you desire from an excellent classic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. On the palate, fruit and spices abound with juiciness and overpowering opulence. A long and special experience awaited each sip. The current allocated release of their 350 cases of 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon sells for $95.

Their wines, both Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, have for many years made my “Best Wines of The Year List”. I know this trend will continue.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

http://www.detert.com

2017 Hawk and Horse Vineyards – Biodynamic & Organic

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The Winery

From San Francisco Chronicle

The winery is located in the Red Hills sub-AVA of Clear Lake AVA. This is about an hour drive north of Calistoga, California. The vineyard sits at 2,200 feet in rocky red volcanic soil. To be both DEMETER Biodynamic and CCOF Organic is no small feat,  but Hawk and Horse Vineyards has done both! The subject of both these accomplishments is a story unto itself and to be told at a later time. The winery is set on the historic El Roble Grande Ranch, a horse breeding facility, which was let go until it was acquired and worked by the new owners. Those new owners Mitch & Tracey Hawkins along with David Boies and Christopher Boies began carving out a portion of the 900 acre ranch to form an 18 acre vineyard. The vines were planted in 1999 and 2004 was their first vintage. With the red volcanic soil of the ranch, it won an International Gold Medal out of the chute! Today the tasting room was the former tack room where saddles and memorabilia from the past still grace the walls. Dr. Dick Peterson is consulting winemaker with Tracey Hawkins. Dr. Peterson has a long and distinguished career after receiving his Ph.D. in Agricultural Chemistry from the University of California. His background and career include E & J Gallo, Beaulieu Vineyard, The Monterey Vineyard, Screaming Eagle and Atlas Peak.

The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Hills

The wine on the eyes was a deep purple and red brick in color with a medium viscosity. On the nose aromas waft into the olfactory senses bringing raspberries, blackberries and floral aromatics. On the palate, it opens up to a juicy fruit assortment of black cherry and hint of pipe tobacco. The finish is medium, but intriguing are the soft and rounded tannins for what is smelled as a big bold red wine. The integrated soft and round tannins integrated into the finish make for an enjoyable food pairing wine or stand alone. 100% French oak barrels are used with 80% being new. 1800 cases were produced and it sells for $75.

The Food and Wine Pairing

Paired with oven baked Country Pork Ribs with a homemade rub and either drizzled or covered with a barbecue sauce.  Ingredients for the rib rub include: chili powder, dark brown sugar, smoked paprika, cumin, dried oregano, kosher salt, red pepper flakes (crushed) and black pepper. Total cooking time was 2 hours and 30-45 minutes on low heat. The aroma and flavor was very similar to just coming off the grill. We used a “spicier” BBQ sauce, but that paired nicely with the wine. The fruit and smoothness of the wine, calmed down the spice and smokiness on the ribs and BBQ sauce very nicely. An excellent choice of wine with the meal.

Sláinte,


Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://hawkandhorsevineyards.com/

This Unoaked Chardonnay Got My Full Attention –Rosa Fierro 2019 “The Unoaked” Chardonnay

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Ever been to a winery to taste a specific wine or varietal and they insist on pouring you their recent award winning wine that you have no interest tasting? I have to admit, last Saturday, Rosie Fierro did just that and it turned out to be a great thing! I had stopped by the tasting room located on Vasco Road in Livermore to taste her Double Gold “Call Me a Cab” Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2021 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. We tasted one or two other wines and then she mentioned her “unoaked Chardonnay”. I was essentially wanting to pass as all my favorite domestic Chardonnays are oaked. She opened one, which was still very cold, and I was basically somewhat unimpressed. Not something to write about for sure. Then as I was leaving after purchasing some of her excellent Tempranillo, she asked that I try one bottle at home and drink it at a warmer temperature.

The Wine

I opened the bottle last evening and was taken back right from the start, with one of the most aromatic Chardonnays I have smelled. On the eyes a light golden color and medium viscosity. On the nose the predominate fragrance of honeydew melon and apple wafted into the senses to arouse one that this is no ordinary “non-oaked” Chardonnay to be experienced. Then on the palate, immediately a wide ranging mix of flavors hit simultaneously ranging from pear to kiwi to a tinge of orange. The wine was crisp, clean and exquisite. The finish came on strong with the opening honeydew melon and apple and pear.  All of the flavors were “not in your face” but layered and subtle.  Admittedly, one of the first unoaked California Chardonnay’s to ever get my full attention and appreciation. This wine also received a Double Gold at the recent 2021 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The website shows it selling for $28.

The Food and Wine Pairing

Paired with a chicken Piccata, rice and broccoli. For the pairing the subtle flavors of the wine still came across beyond the lemon in the dish. Perhaps not “the best” food and wine pairing, but that was no fault of the wine! Without hesitation, if someone asked me for a recommendation for a “non-oaked” Chardonnay, I would easily and happily recommend Rosa Fierro 2019 “The Unoaked” Chardonnay.

Thanks Rosie for insisting I try it a slightly warmer temperature!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.rosafierrocellars.com/

2018 Maritana Chardonnay, LA RIVIÈRE

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Pulled this bottle out of the cellar last Friday night being able to “go out for dinner” once again. To experiment with different food and wine pairings is key to refine ones taste. Chose a 2018 Maritana Chardonnay Sonoma County Russian River La Riviere. While Donald Patz had many years ago produced Chardonnay’s, he has been known as an industry leader for his Pinot Noir’s. I knew from previous tastings this wine was going to be outstanding. LA RIVIÈRE means “the River” referring to Russian River AVA where the vineyards are located. This is a blend of a few sites to make an exquisite wine. Donald believes this will continue to evolve over the next 5-8 years if properly stored.

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.

The Food and Wine pairing was with a Caesar salad and a smoked Chili bowl topped with diced purple onion and shredded cheddar cheese. The meat in the chili was a brisket which was absolutely delicious. Now with all those intense flavors, the Maritana rose to the occasion and stood tall to the spiciness of the meal. An unusual but wonderful combination of wine and food.

For a complete story on Donald Patz’s wines see: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2018/12/06/maritana-vineyards-four-aces-on-the-first-vintage/

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

http://maritanavineyards.com/

2019 Wood Family Vineyards Chardonnay and – A Golden Wine

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A regular for summer time crowds is Wood Family Vineyards 2019 “Para Mas Amigas”, means “for more girlfriends”. This was not on purpose, Rhonda Wood was trying to say “for my girlfriends” but some rusty Spanish made it thus! She has made many friends, of both sexes, all enjoying her Chardonnay. Rhonda Wood who for three years in a row has won either a Double Gold Medal, Best of Class, Gold Medal from the SF Chronicle Wine Competition (and who knows how many other accolades), recently released her 2019 Chardonnay. In March 2021, at the SF Chronicle Wine Competition she once again received Double Gold for this 2019 Chardonnay.

The Wine

On the eyes a deep golden color and medium heavy viscosity. On the nose green apple, toasted almonds and soft lemon fragrance. This wine, different from her iconic past vintages with “crackerjack flavors”, added a citrus note. The finish was long and with complex layers of intrigue. This Chardonnay has many of the familiar characteristics of previous years. The wine has lingering tropical fruits, with peach and pear on the palate. In a recent conversation, Rhonda stated she blended her Chardonnay from both “tightly grained barrels and loosely grained barrels” into the final production wine. For the 2019 Chardonnay, she incorporated a higher mix of new French oak barrels, which imparted a new twist on an already exquisite wine. A little bit less “buttery” but the same big mouthful feel/texture and imparting some mild “Sauvignon Blanc type” lemon citrus for enjoyment. The previous three years this wine made “The Best of the Year” on my annual report.

The Food & Wine Pairing

The Wood Family Vineyards 2019 Chardonnay was chosen for the meal due to the combination of sweetness and citrus in the dish, a sweet and sour Chinese chicken. Having the 2019 Wood Family Chardonnay was a solid food pairing drawing upon both the light sweetness and citrus characteristics of the wine. The wine was refreshing and symbiotic with the palate. Finding new ways to incorporate the 2019 Wood Family Chardonnay with unique dishes.


Sláinte,


Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://woodfamilyvineyards.com/

Cuda Ridge Wines 2017 Cabernet Franc – Continues to be Enjoyed.

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At the National Cabernet Franc Wine Competition held in December 2020, Cuda Ridge Wines earned a Gold Medal and Best of Class by the Professional Judges for their 2017 Cabernet Franc. You can read more about the event at:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/12/04/national-cabernet-franc-wine-competition-results-are-in-happy-cabernet-franc-day/

Also a complete review of the Cuda Ridge Wines 2017 Cabernet Franc winning wine can be found at:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2021/01/05/2017-cuda-ridge-cabernet-franc-best-of-class-and-gold-medal-winner/

The Wine

The Cabernet Franc is part of Larry Dino’s (winemaker/owner) Bordeaux Collection. He has two other “wine labels” called the Black Label and Reserve Collection. His Bordeaux Collection as imagined has besides Cabernet Franc, the other key varietals of Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and most recently added Carmenere.

Enjoyed this wine the other night. This 2017 Cabernet Franc showed some “old world characteristics” as well as unique Livermore Valley traits. The coloring of this wine was dark and alluring with a medium heavy viscosity. On the nose, blueberry, cherry and a hint of plum and floral notes abound. On the palate, the naturally higher acidity was milder for a Cabernet Franc as well as the tannins subdued as expected. In the mouth, the blueberries and dark cherry were prominent along with a modicum of your typical bell pepper, black pepper and sage qualities. Soft leather, a dry rockiness and sweet pipe tobacco lingered to make the finish long lasting and inquisitive. What a great fireside “chewy” wine to be enjoyed! This wine has already made my Best Wines of Year for 2021 to be published in December. On their website it goes for $40.

The 2018 Cuda Ridge Wines Cabernet Franc also just won a Gold Medal at the 2021 SF Chronicle Wine Competition.

Excellent job Larry! Keep them coming…..

Sláinte,

Michael
https://californiawinesandwineries.com
https://cudaridgewines.com/

2017 Wood Family Vineyards “One Oak Vineyard” with Andouille Cajun Dish

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The Winery

Most everybody by now knows Wood Family Vineyards and their awarding winning wines. For any further background you can read at:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2016/02/10/wood-family-vineyards-2/

On her recent 2021 San Francisco Best of Show 2018 GSM and her unprecedented 7 Double Gold Medal awards you can read more at:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2021/03/10/wood-family-vineyards-a-big-winner-at-2021-san-francisco-chronicle-wine-competition/

The 2017 Wood Family Vineyard “One Oak Vineyard” Merlot

Opened a 2017 Wood Family Vineyards Merlot from the cellar that comes from Livermore Valley, California. Dark ruby on the eyes and purple hues with a medium to medium heavy viscosity. On the nose a dark fruit compote leads to a beautiful sweet & sour cherry and plum fruit with red licorice. The finish provides a hint of oak and cedar with soft tannins but with some edginess but still a silky smooth Merlot which was an enjoyable treat!  Also on the finish pomegranate, hints of vanilla with texture and medium acidity. This is a soft and comforting Merlot, still with structure and layers of taste.  The 2017 was rated 92 points by Wine Enthusiast and won a Silver Medal at the SF Chronicle Wine Competition. Her 2018 also won a Silver at the 2021 SF Chronicle Wine Competition. Currently they are offering the 2018 Merlot One Oak Vineyard at $32.

The Food and Wine Pairing

A fantastically prepared Andouille Cajun Rice Skillet dish was chosen to pair with the wine. This was a “warm temperature flavor” dish with spiciness and far reaching textual appeal in the mouth. The recipe called for Andouille Cajun sausage, yellow onion, red & yellow bell peppers, minced garlic, Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning, kosher salt, tomato paste, fresh sliced Roma tomatoes, crushed red peppers and brown rice. A fresh garden salad with chucky Blue cheese dressing on the side. Paired with the Wood Family Vineyards Merlot was an excellent choice to counterbalance the spiciness and big flavor of the meal.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://woodfamilyvineyards.com

2017 Borjón Winery Petite Sirah Reposado – Passion and Fullness (and Double Gold!)

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The Wine

As an educational note, Petite Sirah is not a “smaller” version of Syrah as it is a wholly different varietal. The background on Petite Sirah is that it is the offspring of Syrah and Peloursin (a scarce and almost extinct grape).

Borjón Winery – 2017 Petite Sirah Reposado. From Amador County in the Sierra Foothills. Known for their Barbera’s and Petite Sirah’s. A mouth filling wine with character. This wine had an intense deep red/purple hue that was almost “black” in color. It possessed a heavy body and viscosity. On the nose dark fruit, cocoa and black pepper. On the palate blackberry, blueberry were dominate with strong hints of ripe plums and just the right amount of oak from the barrel, tempered with vanilla residue. The finish was long lasting and powerful which was needed with the food pairing. The acidity and tannins were big and bold but the fruit kept them “in check”. Such an easy sipping wine! They just won Double Gold at the 2021 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

The Food and Wine Pairing


The food pairing with the Borjón Petite Sirah was a stir fried teriyaki chicken with Udon noodles and steamed broccoli. Also a fresh garden salad with chucky Blue cheese dressing was served. The smoothness and fruit of the Borjón Petite Sirah complimented some of the spice in the dish. An excellent pairing. Pairing it with the 2017 Borjón Petite Sirah was an excellent choice.

Sláinte,


Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.borjonwinery.com/

Do Scallops Pair Better With Tenbrink Chardonnay or Acquiesce Roussanne?

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Our local restaurant, Vine 18 has been closed to indoor dining with the Covid pandemic. Our county just changed “color code” meaning we were now allowed to have go to 25% capacity for indoor seating. So without dining indoors for a year in California, we made reservations and set off for a nice dinner.

The menu comes out in advance via their website and specials are also noted. I had my sights on the seared scallops, English pea and fava bean risotto and lemon thyme beurre blanc. The other couple we were having dinner had targeted the special Jamaican hot pepper spicy shrimp marinated in lime juice, diced jalapeno peppers, paprika and allspice. Served over rice and coleslaw.

The dilemma now was which wine to pair the meal. I thought the Roussanne with its creaminess would surround the “spicy dish” and yet I knew it paired so well with scallops. With the lemon beurre blanc on the scallops, I also thought a Chardonnay would go well.  So I elected to bring both bottles down for dinner and the other couple also brought a red wine.

Tenbrink Chardonnay

The Tenbrink Chardonnay already had made my “Best of 2020 Wine List”. It is from Suisun Valley, California just southeast of Napa Valley. The pale straw coloring provided an array of honeysuckle, pear and apple on nose and later on the palate with a medium and enjoyable finish.  It had a touch of citrus on the finish that was unexpected. The retail is $28. To read more about Tenbrink Wines click a previous article:

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

Acquiesce Roussanne

This wine also made my Best Wines of 2020 list.  The 2018 Roussanne on the eye is a light golden straw and medium viscosity. On the eye and palate, it possessed an elegant finesse with floral aromatics, hints of pear, apricots and with a rich and silky smooth mouthful texture almost creamy. The finish had a soft nutty texture of almond and a hint of honey with a distinct minerality with a medium long finish. Roussanne brings more acidity, elegance and floral aromatic complexities to the wine which makes it perfect for fish. The retail is $34. Click on previous article on Acquiesce Winery:  

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/04/09/traveling-to-wine-regions-while-staying-in-place-today-acquiesce-winery-in-acampo-california/

I have always wanted to compare and contrast these two varietals with the same food. As we partook of the food, lots of discussion about the flavor profiles of each wine and how it brought out different characteristics in the mouth with the seafood. Since both wines were held in high esteem, the banter went on for a while. In the end it was a standoff as the table was deadlocked. So both wines were declared winners! The only thing to do is to rate it yourself! Kudo’s to both wineries for making excellent wine varietals and providing for an exquisite pairing with the scallops and spicy shrimp.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

http://tenbrinkvineyards.com/

http://www.acquiescevineyards.com

2011 Crocker & Starr Stone Place Cabernet Sauvignon – For a Special Treat

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This came up on the 2021 “To Drink List” last week. While admittedly having more than “a few bottles” of Crocker & Starr in the cellar, I have been patiently waiting to open many of them. This was again such a wonderful tasting wine and confirmed why we were wine club members there for ten years!

I did a previous story on the excellent partnership and friendship between Pam Starr and Charlie Crocker many years ago for more details:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2016/02/01/crocker-starr-2/

Pam Starr has always made some of the best Cabernet Franc’s and Cabernet Sauvignon’s in Napa Valley. Her 2011 Stone Place Cabernet Sauvignon is no exception! She added about 5% Petit Verdot which is easily seen in the wine glass with its bright ruby coloring. It has a medium to medium heavy viscosity as seen in a few swirls of the goblet. On the nose aromas rise up of floral notes of violet and espresso. On the palate the wine provides wide reaching tastes of dark chocolate, raspberries, spicy black pepper, plum, pipe tobacco and black licorice.  The finish is where gentle oak and minerality come into play, with a faint hint of vanilla to entice one to take yet another sip of this intoxicating Cabernet Sauvignon. The tannins are present but not obtrusive and the structure shows layer upon layers of distinction.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.crockerstarr.com/