Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2012 Passaggio New Generation Pinot Grigio

Cynthia's Italian heritage influenced her early in life and plays a big part in who she is today. The path from law enforcement to winemaker seems out of the ordinary but once you sit down and meet the winemaker you feel the passion she has for life and wine.

I had the pleasure of meeting Cindy at a custom crush facility along the Silverado Trail a few years ago which lead to a wonderful friendship with my wife and I. While the wine making operation has moved to its current location at the Dogpatch Wine Works in Historic San Francicso, you will still "find Artisan handcrafted wines reflective of my inspired passion" with each bottle of Passaggio Wines. Each bottle reflects the journey from vineyard to bottle to mouth, and solidifies Cindy's place among the winemakers in California.

Tonight's wine was $19.00 and sorry to say it's sold out but I'm betting real soon the 2013 is coming to your cellar. You can pick up the wine by visiting Passaggio Wines website or Dogpatch Wine Works 2455 Third Street in San Francisco California. Meet the winemaker sip and buy some juice....can't think of a better way to spend the afternoon.

How was the wine you ask? The nose is wonderful with wild daisy's and fresh lemon lime. Tropical melon and ripe pear with hints of green apple. Loads of fresh citrus tickle the nose while the fruit is intense and very ripe. I broke into Italian singing!

The mouth is beautiful with pear and green apple, melon, lime, and tangerine. The finish has a nice touch of minerality and is quite long. Beautifully done Cindy. A varietal I think we all need to drink more. I paired this wine with some fresh tilapia, wild rice and vegies. Superb!

Follow Your Passion to Passaggio Wines!


Monday, January 20, 2014

2011 Campesino Los Carneros Pinot Noir Napa Valley Papi y Chula Vineyard

Carrie Bowman of Napa Valley Wine and Cigar introduced me to the wines of Macario Montoya 3 years ago and I'm glad she suggested them. Each vintage expresses the vineyard, climate and small clusters of grapes which lead to an absolutely amazing wine. The flavor is intense yet elegant throughout. One of the best under $40 Pinot Noirs you can drink!

Intense cherry and raspberry treat the nose. Earthy eucalyptus notes with green olives and hints of cinnamon round out the aromas. Classic Carneros Pinot.

This wine is pouring beautifully with ripe juicy raspberry and fresh cranberry fruit. Light cherry notes with a hint of earth and herbs. Lovely long silky finish and juicy. Outstanding wine being produced by Campesino Cellars

Find yourself a small boutique winemaker and enjoy the journey. Hands down they produce the most memorable enjoyable juice.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Ordering Wine At Your Favorite Restaurant No It's Not Corked

Leave it to a business dinner and the comical behavior of a nearby table to become the inspiration for today's post. I want you to remember when ordering wine at a restaurant pay attention to the pairing and not how much the wine costs. Why you ask? Because the most expensive wine may not be the best pairing and you are impressing no one by buying it then having remorse. Order what you know or take the advice of the server or manager if you trust their judgement. And for pete's sake don't argue with the educated wine manger who has been trained to know every varietal and region.

So I am out to dinner on business and we are finishing our meal when the table next door caught my attention. 2 gentlemen and their boss were out enjoying dinner after a successful day (yes they talked loud enough I could hear). All three were eying the salmon dish which is well prepared by the way (I've been known to order this dish a time or 4) and the perfect pairing for this dish is a soft elegant Pinot. One of the gentlemen was claiming to be well versed in the world of wine and to show his knowledge he wanted the most expensive Cabernet the server sold. "Sir if I may interject we have 3 very fine Pinot Noir's which compliment this dish perfectly. I have a low, medium and high priced bottle each working very well with the dish and it's entirely up to you which one to purchase." But no Mr I Know My Wine belted out "We will have this Cabernet!" The server asked if he was positive and Oh yes he was sure that was the bottle this evening.

Just prior to the boss returning the 2 gentlemen at the table were indifferent with the wine choice. "Jeff you just ordered a $175 bottle of Cabernet." "Mark I had to Bill knows his wine and I'm here to impress him so I can get the next promotion." There it was boss impress time except what was about to happen made me chuckle. "Who the hell orders Cabernet with salmon? Jesus you order this coastal pinot with the salmon dish." I can hardly control myself at this point because through the tears I was sure he was going to try and say he didn't like the wine. Sorry folks he one bettered me he called the server over and said the wine was corked. Mark and Bill said the wine was fine but Old Jeff was persistent. The server in turn brought the front house manager over. "Young man this wine is corked and I do not wish to buy this. I want another bottle" "Sir my apologies your dining experience has been less than desired but I can assure you this wine is not corked." "Look pal I know my wine and this bottle is corked! Maybe this restaurant should send you to school to learn about wine." "Well sir I have just completed the WSET Level 2 test and passed with flying colors" OMG give me the oxygen because the boss ripped his employee for being a dumb shit and cheapskate. Needless to say they kept the wine.

As I walked out I complimented the server on offering the table a nice selection of price points to chose from as well as the manager for the way he handled the situation. We had a good laugh over the whole thing and I ordered a last glass before heading home (hey one must have an after dinner sip).

Don't ever try to send a wine back because you do not like the juice. It's flat wrong and unethical. Drink it and deal with it.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Irish Family Vineyards Pog Mo Thoin Red Blend

A little Irish juice to sooth the soul tonight with this classic from Irish Family Vineyards. Russell and Joan Irish will tell you their wines have "no snob appeal" but instead think of them as "elixirs to the good life." I picked this gem up from my favorite (Oh you are so lucky to be on vacation) wine shop First Avenue Wine House at the recommendation of Traci's husband Ron. Great bottle of wine under $20.

Aromas of black fruit, rich vanilla, luscious blueberry complimented by a huge spicy nose (anise). Let her open up and raspberry and bright cherry add to the fruit streaming from the glass with some wild violets. Lush and rich.

Really like the mouth feel with the fruit forward character followed by a hint of spice. Blueberry and cherry dominate with dark fruit notes followed by vanilla and spice. Nice little cherry/raspberry finish. Thanks Ron for the recommendation. Digging the red blend.

Drink great wine because life is too short. Looking to join a wine club then try WSJWineClub and save $120.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

2011 Jeff Runquist Vineyards Pinot Noir Sisters Vineyard Carneros Napa Valley

Jeff Runquist was the special guest of my favorite Cedar Rapids Wine Store First Avenue Wine House and I have been a fan of his wine ever since. I love the fruit forward style which depicts the quality of the grapes while maintaining a rich complex quality in each bottle. The wines are meant to be enjoyed now but you can age them if you like. Jeff partners with growers who meticulously care for their vineyards and provide the grapes suitable for Jeff Runquist Wines

Bright red cherry and currant treat the nose as you swirl. Fresh wild lavender with hints of plum, wild strawberries and mushrooms. Eucalyptus and a slight hint of sweet oak as well. Really nice aroma on this Pinot.

The mouth is full of ripe cherry, strawberry and a nice warm spice. Creamy vanilla and butterscotch with a touch of dried herbs. The finish is silky with cherry and tart cranberry lasting long. Beautiful red color on this classic Carneros Pinot. I paid $30 for this and it's every bit worth the money for a pinot loving wine enthusiast.

The best tastings are enhanced by discussing the wines with the winemaker direct. Honestly they are so passionate about what they do you will be amazed at what wine tidbits you learn. Stop by the tasting room located in the heart of the Sierra Foothills at 10776 Shenandoah Road in Plymouth CA. Open Friday-Monday 11am -5pm.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

2010 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

Normally I'll write about a wine after tasting for a couple days but today's wine is the exception. Craig Camp, Jeff Keene and Mike Dragusky are creating exceptional wines which express the character of the vineyard and the quality of the grapes. Cornerstone Cellars produces wines they love to drink and you taste their passion in each bottle. Some of the finest Cabernet produced in Napa comes from the folks at Cornerstone.

The nose bursts with dark rich fruit of blackberries followed by fresh raspberries. Aromatics of currants, molasses and dark chocolate with a hint of smokey oak. Allowing the wine to open in the glass yields a wonderful blueberry aroma. Sophisticated and elegant.

The rich character transfers over to the mouth with the blueberry and blackberry followed by spicy currant. Love the finishing layers of raspberry and sweet molasses followed by a hint of dark cocoa. The complexity is so pleasing to the palate and the layers flow well together. Paired with sirloin filets and then sipped by the fire, the wine was perfect.

Whether you're stopping in Yountville or Gaston, each tasting room promises to treat you with a friendly knowledgeable staff ready to spoil you. Relax and sit for a spell while you drink the wines of Cornerstone.