Thursday, September 30, 2010

2008 William Hill Chardonnay Central Coast

A new wine at my friend Traci's wine shop and a winery which I've never tasted before I chose the 2008 William Hill Chardonnay Central Coast. Great price point at $12.99 and a very nice wine.

Once in the glass a wonderful vanilla aroma hits my nose first followed closely by pear and melon. Love how the aromas blend together and anytime vanilla is present to me its a great one.

Excellent flavor on this wine. Pear and melon start the tasting pleasure. Next a creamy vanilla enhances the middle of the wine and the finish is a lime citrus. Long finish outstanding chardonnay.

Learn more about William Hill Winery by clicking the link to their website. "Renowned for crafting elegant Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot wines due to its exceptional location just off the Silverado Trail in Southern Napa on the Silverado Bench", I will be tasting many more William Hill wines very soon.


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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

2009 Dutcher Crossing Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek Valley

The second purchase at the all popular "meet the owner, winemaker" tasting event at First Avenue Wine House featuring Deb Mathy and Kerry Damskey was the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc. Up till this year I actually would "shy" away from Sauv Blanc due to the overpowering grapefruit flavor which I felt flat ruined the wine. Funny how your opinion changes when you find some folks who make great Sauv Blanc and now I really enjoy them.

Both at the tasting and home the combination of floral notes and crisp citrus on the nose really excited me. Some melon, grapefruit, slight pineapple along with a citrus zest rounded out my aromas. The wine is a blend of 79% Sauvignon Blanc, 4% Roussane, 10% Viognier and 7% Semillon

Excellent Sauvignon Blanc. The melon/grapefruit flavor was very mellow and combined with a lemon zest that lingered long. I pick up a hint of pineapple in the middle. No one flavor or aroma was dominate and I think that really makes the wine. Crisp refreshing I enjoyed this with some baked cod with a lemon zest in the coating and the wine paired nicely. I also enjoyed after dinner and found the wine alone smooth. I've found a Sauv Blanc I will always keep on hand! Matter of fact I found Dutcher Crossing to have outstanding wines which I will always have on hand for friends to enjoy.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cindy Cosco Owner Of Passaggio Wines Winemaker Interview

Talking with owner, winemaker, marketer and how ever many other titles placed upon her, you get a friendly perspective of the world of wine from none other than Cindy Cosco of Passaggio Wines and Crushpad. I have known Cindy now for about a year and after being introduced to her Pinot Grigio and Unoaked Chardonnay, you can't help not loving her wines. Visiting with her, you see the passion and excitement as she describes her wines, philosophy behind their creation plus the love of her job. I hope you enjoy learning more about Cindy and her wine.

Iowa Wino : Cindy you are always using the phrase "follow your passion". Where did this come from and can we say this is your motto?

Cindy: Wine has always been a passion of mine...I decided in 2004 to follow that passion and move to California to pursue it.  Here I am today living that dream.  I would say yes, it is my motto.

Iowa Wino: You were in law enforcement before wine making. Was it an easy transition?

Cindy: Law enforcement was a great career.  I thought it would be a difficult move but following what I loved made it easy.  The excitement of getting to do what I dreamed of doing made the transition a great one.

Iowa Wino: Can you give the readers some backround on the name Passaggio and your winemaking philosophy? What characteristics do your wines showcase.

Cindy: Passaggio means Passageway in Italian - it is a tribute to my great grandfather who came over from Italy to pursue his dreams.  My winemaking philosophy - all great wines are made in the make awesome wines that are balanced and that go great with food.  I believe that wine brings people together and that is what it's pair well with food and to drink with family and friends.  I believe the Passaggio Unoaked Chard and the Pinot Grigio are great food wines although they can stand on their own as great drink alone wines.  They are fruit forward - balanced - and really showcase the varietal in which it is intended.

Iowa Wino: You produce a Pinot Grigio and a Chardonnay currently. Why did you choose those varietals and will you be expanding the portfolio any time soon?

Cindy: Unoaked Chard and Pinot Grigio - two great white label is "New Generation" - I wanted to showcase these two varietals in the California style without the oak.  To create a fresh, crisp, clean, wine so that you could enjoy it just sitting out back watching the sun go down.  I am hoping to expand the label Passaggio and want to produce a Rose in 2010.

Iowa Wino: You juggle a lot of hats at Crushpad being the lab manager along with winemaking and pouring/promoting your wines. What's happening now? Is the harvest in full swing or has the weather delayed the process?

Cindy: Juggling lots of hats is what I do...I manage the lab at Crushpad and in charge of over 1500 different barrels of wines. I also am in charge of the white winemaking in which we have about 80-90 clients that make white wine. I also have my own brand that I try to promote. I wear different hats for that too. I do the sourcing of the grapes, make the wine, marketing, selling, blogging, twittering, name it I do it...

Harvest is underway but at a slow start. Grapes are coming in anywhere from two - three weeks later than last year. I do believe it will be a great year for the white wine maker. Sugars are at great levels, acids are high, and you will see lower alcohols.
Iowa Wino: What time of day are the grapes for your wines typically harvested? How far are the vineyards from the winery?
Cindy: The grapes for my wines are hand picked very early morning.  This year we picked on Sept 15th at 0630.  The vineyard is about an hour from the winery.
Iowa Wino: For readers who are unfamiliar with the winemaking process can you explain what happens with the grapes once they are received at the winery until they become "heaven in a bottle"?
Cindy: Typically for my white wines, the grapes are brought in and weighed first (I pay the grower by the ton) - they are then whole cluster pressed and put into tank to cold settle.  The next day they are racked off the lees and put into stainless drums.  I add the nutrients and different yeasts to each drum.  The fermentation period, hopefully, is about 14 days.  I prevent malolactic fermentation.  I do leave some lees in each drum for stirring.  They are then stirred each week.  I like to test for SO2 once a month and taste them then too.  I will do trial blends and at some point along the way they will be racked off the lees and will get ready for heat and cold stabilization.  Once they are stable they are ready for bottling...
Iowa Wino: You probably meet many different folks tasting wine from the beginner to the advanced taster. What's the best advice you have given to a beginner who may be trying to find wines they enjoy?
Cindy: I would say to the beginning wine drinker - taste as many wines as you can and find what you truly like. Everyone's palate is different so find the wines that you enjoy and stick with that. The fun part is tasting, tasting, tasting....
Iowa Wino: Final question as we wrap up the interview: Now that folks are interested in Passaggio wine (hint hint) where is it sold?
Cindy: You can find Passaggio in the tasting room at Crushpad 3105 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA - you can buy it at the Valley Wine Shack in Sonoma, CA - it is also available at the California Wine and Cheese Shop in Monrovia, CA - and of course on my website
There is even a link upper left side of the Iowa Wino blog to the website.
A big thanks to Cindy Cosco for taking time out of her busy schedule to speak with us as I showcase her awesome "boutique" wines on my journey of wine. If you have not tried Passaggio wine I highly encourage you to pick up a bottle today. Crisp, clean and the flavors of fruit so well balanced. Mouth watering yet?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

2007 Hook & Ladder Third Alarm Reserve Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

Ever had the chance to visit Hook and Ladder Winery located at 2134 Olivet Road in beautiful Santa Rosa California? Make time on your next tour of the Sonoma wine country and request a visit with the winemaker Jason Deloach. Passionate, full of energy and ready to answer all your wine questions the visit will be memorable. Plus he makes some very nice wines especially the 07 Third Alarm Reserve Pinot Noir which I enjoyed tasting at the winery and opened yesterday watching college football.

Huge black cherry aroma while I was pouring the wine into the glass and after my usual monster swirls. Next a slight hint of vanilla but the spice aroma is wonderful. Smells almost too good to drink (like that will ever happen in my glass).

Taste? Outstanding top notch Pinot Noir. Black cherry very juicy which lingers long into the finish. Slight raspberry flavor in the middle which is a very nice compliment followed by the spice and hint of vanilla. Nicely done on the oak its very mild in my opinion.

If you love wine don't miss your chance to enjoy wines produced by Jason Deloach at Hook & Ladder Winery by visiting the fine folks on location or via a retail location near you. No distributor in your area, the winery will be happy to ship directly to your door. Nicely done Jason.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

2008 Sharecroppers Cabernet Sauvignon Owen Roe

Well some neighbors stopped by the other night and he being a cabernet fan, my choice that evening was the Owen Roe Sharecroppers Cabernet. I picked this bottle up when winemaker David O'Reilly made his second trip to the ever popular meet the winemaker event at First Avenue Wine House. Naturally I had an opportunity to chat with David and have him sign the bottle.

On the nose the smokey aroma hit me first but the longer the wine was opened it relaxed. Next the aroma of blueberry followed by what I thought was blackberry but after further review was a deep dark cherry aroma. Some really nice spice at the finish.

Tom really liked this wine as he is a fan of washington cabernet and merlot. The first flavors we both picked up were the blueberry, cherry, strawberry combination. The spice and smokey flavor finished the wine off nicely but we were both fooled by the flavor in the middle of the wine. Hence the trusty laptop fired up, we noticed the tasting notes mentioned licorice and it was like a light bulb went off. Excellent flavor and being a fan of David O'Reilly wines, they do not disappoint. I really think this wine will get even better with age.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Promoting Boutique Wines and the Great Folks Behind Them

I bet you all thought by reading the title the post would introduce small production wines from passionate wine makers. You're partly correct. Exposing readers to wines which I enjoy, some which have been sent to me as samples ( I thank you wine makers because without some of your samples I would have never been introduced to them), some I have not tasted or had the pleasure of meeting it's time to add more material to the Iowa Wino blog. Boutique wineries to me are very small family operated, limited production, concentrated varietals from passionate friendly winemakers. The fruit to make these wines are some of the best grown and the winemaker uses what the fruit gives them to produce "heaven in a bottle".

A blog promotes the author's thoughts and ideas on a particular subject mine being wine tasting. My passion also includes promoting the small or boutique wineries where these excellent wines are produced. If you notice towards the top left of the blog you will see 2 wineries who are worthy of promoting.... Passaggio Wines produced by Cindy Cosco and Eric Ross Wines produced by Eric Luse. There is still room for more and hence the passion. Sure I may have received a sample from the wineries I am promoting or my visit with them on my trip to the wine country was enjoyable, but their logos and links to the respective websites are included in the blog because of the wine they produce and they have passion/character. No there was no "side agreement" that if a particular winery sent me a sample they were expecting a great review. Not the way I work folks. Why? I also have character and a reputation to uphold.

So here is how it works. Wineries could choose to list their logo with us for a period of 6 months (but there will be no minimum/maximum months just my recommendation from a good friend) there won't be any listing fee but more importantly exposure to readers across the country. Wines that I have tasted and absolutely loved will be extended and invitation to list because as I stated above, I am promoting these wineries! Upcoming interviews will also be posted on the blog. All that is asked of readers and wineries would be to let me know when they have ordered wine via the logo/link. There is more to the program but giving you the highlights was important. If there are wines you feel are very good which I have not tasted or should taste let me know. Wineries can feel free to email me for specific details.

We should all be enjoying these fine wines even if you do not live anywhere near where these beauties are produced. It's my job to make sure you know who they are and how you can be introduced to them.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

2006 Selene Dead Fred Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Thursday September 2 was Cabernet Day on twitter with people from around the world coming together to taste and share their thoughts on a bottle or 2 of Cabernet Sauvignon. Arranged by Rick Bakas of St Supery in Napa, I found by participating some new friends and some wine I must drink.

The bottle I chose for the evening was my last sample from Mia Klein owner and winemaker of Selene Wines and her trusty sidekick Tracy Hall. One very special cabernet I had the pleasure of enjoying this evening. Rest in peace Fred and watch over these wonderful grapes :)

Once in the glass the aroma of blackberry hits your nose first. Next the hint of blueberry, and on night 2 I picked up a slight raspberry aroma. The wine finished with a wonderful spice note. Nice concentrated fruit smell and a wonderful deep dark color.

Awesome wine to taste and enjoy. The blackberry very dominant throughout but not overpowering. Blueberry is evident in the middle followed by the spice finish. Very smooth for a wine with such intense flavor. Yes Mia it's a keeper but then you already knew that :)

Folks please check out the link to Mia's website Selene Wines for more information on all her varietals. Pick up a bottle or 2 and let me know how you enjoyed them. Mia and Tracy thank you again for introducing me to your wonderful wine.