Thursday, July 16, 2015
I love traveling into Sonoma County and try to always stay in the beautiful town of Healdsburg.Not only is this home to many different wine regions,but also many world class restaurants and Lodging.We will stay at the Dry Creek Inn,and enjoy the Tuscan Suites.We are features the wines of Simi winery and this winery has a great history,and many great winemakers within that timeline. Susan Lueker, who as a young girl made dandelion wine with her father on the family farm, says she always wanted to be a scientist. At the University of Missouri she studied chemistry and medical child development then went to graduate school. Partway through, she transferred to the University of California, Davis to pursue a degree in viticulture. When her enology class visited vineyards for the first time, she knew she wanted to be a winemaker. She started her career at Hacienda Winery, took the experience she gained there to Kendall-Jackson and then went to Dry Creek Vineyard where she worked for eight years. Susan joined Simi in 2000.Susan open a number of wines,let's check out the tasting notes and prepare for a few great courses with these wines.The Dry creek Zinfandel is our first wine! TASTING NOTES 85% Zinfandel and 15% Petite Sirah Deep, dark garnet in color with a purple case and a ruby edge. Perfumed aromas of brambles and berries, think the aromas of summer, walking on a dusty road to pick fresh berries. A little clove, dark cherry, black pepper, toasted hazelnut and sweet tobacco draw you into the glass. VINEYARD NOTES Dry Creek Valley Zinfandels are pure fruit. Ripe raspberry, brambly berry notes in the wine come from grapes that enjoy warm sunny days and cool lightly breezy evenings. You can almost set you watch by the 3 o'clock breeze that cools the day. Marine influences temper the heat of day and allow for flavor and color accumulation in fruit form Dry Creek. WINEMAKER NOTES This Is a full bodied with a balance of bright fruit and dark spice and heft calling for rustic, peasant fare; grilled polenta and meat sauce, spaghettini with sugo calabrese, or chicken livers in a balsamic reduction with pancetta. A glass of good wine always makes me hungry. This is a wine of large proportions, but graceful enough to dance on your palate. Drinking well right now! Let's also check out the Reserve Cab,as this wine will rival any for it's great ability to pair with many different dished and cuisines.TASTING NOTES Opaque in color, deep, dark red with a ruby edge. Big bold and brooding aromas of black fruit: Blackberry, black cherry, blueberry and plum accented with mineral notes of subtle toast, roasted coffee, dark chocolate and a lifted notes of cedar and bay laurel. On the palate the wine has a rich and focused entry that builds to a full mid-palate and finishing with smooth ripe tannins resembling cocoa nibs. Balancing big, bold, ripe flavors of black cherry, red plum, cassis with smoky, toasty notes and sweet herbs (sage & tarragon), spice and structured tannins, a vibrant acidity gives the promise of aging well for decades to come. VINEYARD NOTES A wet spring with rains stopping just at flowering set up an extended growing/ripening season with moderate temperatures 85-92° F day time temperature with cool night and foggy mornings, great for slow gentle ripening. Giving full fruit expression. WINEMAKER NOTES Youthful and a bit angular. This wine will benefit from decanting. A little air will help loosen up the aromatics and soften the grip of the youthful tannins. This wine is serious, but wants to play it just needs to relax in the glass before revealing nuances and bright fruit. This wine feels like a proper soul that will age gracefully. This one will be fun to watch age.We have open ed a few other wines,let's join Susan and we will pour a glass of each of these beautiful wines for you.Please join us!Cheers!Click here and join us. Click here and please join us as we saved you a seat!Cheers!.
Friday, July 10, 2015
Balletto Vineyards and Winery has produced many great Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.They have two wines we will feature today,and they happen to be amazing additions to their portfolio.The surprise wines today are also favorites of Anthony Beckman also.Let's check out the tasting notes and open these wines as we have great food in our near future.2012 Zinfandel, Russian River Valley Estate With its ample red-berry fruit and classic Zinfandel spice, this distinct wine opens with bright aromas reminiscent of a freshly baked cherry pie. Its crisp and focused, yet maintains enough tannin, structure and weight to pull the wine through to a long and lasting finish. This is a great expression of Zinfandel grown in the cool southern tip of the Russian River Valley: fresh, bright, crisp and lovely. This deep purple and aromatic wine shows off heaps of fruit with equal measure cool-climate spicy and savory notes. Its nicely textured and incredibly juicy with bright acidity and a dark-chocolate and cherry profile that begs for the next sip. The finish is long and lasting with a lingering coffee touch and light tannins that add grip and structure. The light oak treatment lends viscosity and that helps balance and soothe the tannins inherent in the Syrah grape. Our Zinfandel is grown at our BCD Vineyard on the rolling hills that lead up to the Coastal mountain range. Cold fog flows in from the nearby Pacific Ocean in the evening and covers the vineyard until midmorning. Its common to have a 35 degree temperature swing from early-morning lows to peak afternoon highs after the fog burns away. In addition, the soils here are the ideal combination of sand from the mountain ranges and clays from the lower river valley. This particular sandy-loam soil composition holds just enough water to ripen our grapes yet still allows for good drainage. When we planted the BCD Vineyard, we were looking for a Zin clone that would be able to produce distinct wine in our foggy climate. Our search led us to the famed 1934 Papera Vineyard. We harvested tiny buds from these ancient and tangled vines and grafted the buds onto our newly planted shoots. So, although our vines were only 12 years old when this wine was made, the Zinfandel has a rich history and track record. We hope to keep that history going.2012 Syrah, Russian River Valley Estate This deep purple and aromatic wine shows off heaps of fruit with equal measure cool-climate spicy and savory notes. Its nicely textured and incredibly juicy with bright acidity and a dark-chocolate and cherry profile that begs for the next sip. The finish is long and lasting with a lingering coffee touch and light tannins that add grip and structure. The light oak treatment lends viscosity and that helps balance and soothe the tannins inherent in the Syrah grape. Because of this wines intense flavors and structure, it will pair well with a nice, grilled rib eye steak simply prepared with salt, pepper, and maybe a sprinkling of Herbes de Provence. Simple yet delicious. Vineyard: This Syrah was grown on our 14-year-old BCD vineyard (named after the original partnership of Balletto, Carlson and DeLoach) located on rolling hills that lead up to the Coastal mountain range. Cold fog flows in from the nearby Pacific Ocean in the late evening and covers the vineyard until midmorning. During the growing season, its possible to have a 40 degree daily temperature swing from early-morning lows to peak afternoon highs after the fog burns away. Soil: In addition to Mother Nature, the soils here are the ideal combination of sand from the mountain ranges and clays from the lower river valley. Its this mixture of climate and soil that allows the fruit to ripen at a slow-but-steady pace that develops the unique character of this wine. Winemaking: Syrah is the only varietal we make that goes through extended oak aging. We hold the wine in barrel for almost two years to allow the rough tannins and heavy astringency to mature into a more silky texture. During these 20 months, the wine makes dramatic and entertaining changes. As the tannins slowly combine and have less direct impact, the wine picks up a lush viscosity. In addition, the fruity aromas begin to fade and allow the spicy and earthly elements to play a larger role and define this cool-climate Syrah. We have just opened these and poured you a galls of each...care to join us?Cheers! Click here and join us,as we are starting the weekend off right.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Recently I visited John Balletto and also sat down with with winemaker Anthony Beckman.Today we will feature three single vineyard Pinot Noirs from this world class winery!First let's check out some of the tasting notes.These sites are producing incredible fruit,but not without lots of extra effort and dedication. Burnside Rd.Located in the hills southwest of the town of Sebastopol, Burnside Road Vineyard is an incredibly unique growing location. Its about 12 miles east of the Pacific Ocean and about 12 miles north of the cold and windy Petaluma Wind Gap. Fog and cold wind dominate growing season and vines at Burnside are always some of the last to harvest. Our single vineyard Burnside Road Pinot Noir is produced here along with half of our Pinot Gris. Sexton Hill Planted in 2009, we will harvest our first few tons of grapes from this 16 acre vineyard in 2011. And, man, are we excited. The vineyard is broken up into two distinct parcels with a redwood grove between them, and as the name implies, theres not a flat spot around. Some of the slopes are approaching 50% and its a serious, leg-burning trek to the top of the steepest hill. This vineyard has all the makings for premium winegrowing: hillside plantings, great Goldridge soil, and cool Pacific Ocean weather. We're coaxing this vineyard into producing what we hope will be world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.Located at the corner of Sexton Road and Burnside Road, "Cider Ridge" is the winery's newest planting. It is going to be difficult for us to wait until 2013 when the first grapes can be harvested!! The elevation starts at 980 feet above sea level and quickly descends 200 feet by the vineyards eastern most location. As you can imagine, the site has incredible hillside exposure, and like our newly planted Sexton Hill Vineyard, we have planted and are farming this vineyard to produce world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.The Burnside Road pinot exhibits all the traits that make pinot alluring. Theres dried spice, red fruit, earthy aromas and that silky texture thats both weighty and delicate. The balance is impeccable, and the delicious factor is extreme. The wine opens with classic Burnside spice, but changes to fruity, then earthy and back again to spicy. Its ever-changing and complex; the kind of pinot we love to make (and drink!) In the tradition of our Burnside bottlings, this wine has the structure and balance to reward those with the patience to cellar it for the next four to six years, or more. Burnside Road sits high in the hills south-west of Sebastopol, about 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Its unsheltered, hilltop location leaves it exposed to wet fog and chilly ocean wind. This location is one of those rare places where Pinot Noir can ripen slowly to produce wines of depth and distinction. Balletto Vineyards makes all of its wine from sustainably- farmed estate vineyards located throughout the cool southern third of the Russian River Valley. It is one of the few Russian River wineries to be 100 percent estate grown and estate bottled, and specializes in vineyard-designated Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which are consistently elegant, balanced and delicious. Pinot Noir Winemaking Philosophy: Pinot Noir is one of the most expressive grape varietals grown. So we grow and harvest our grapes to showcase the uniqueness of our estate vineyards, maintain brisk natural acidity and have lower alcohol levels. We ferment exclusively with indigenous yeast in small six-ton open tops, and age our finished wine in French oak barrels with new oak used sparingly to enhance the wine, not dominate it. The result is serious Pinot Noir with depth, structure and finesse. Wines to savor. Its a rare treat to introduce a new wine, especially when it comes from a brand-new estate vineyard in the hills southwest of Sebastopol. Its a beautiful, steep, rough and inspiring location, and were thrilled to present our first Pinot Noir from this new vineyard planting. Savory elements dominate the aromas. Theres exotic mushrooms, earth, sassafras and an underlying marine element reminiscent of crushed oyster shell. A focused cherry aroma and light baking spices fill the background. The overall impact is seductive. Texture, balance and structure define the mouth feel. Theres a softness and warmth that distinguishes the wines texture; then ample acidity and tannins add an intriguing tension that hint toward a long and improving bottle life. This is a serious Pinot that will mellow and improve during the next five years of bottle aging.We should join Anthony Beckman,as I just heard him pouring these wines for our tasting!Join us,Please!? Cheers! Click here and join us as we taste three world class Pinot Noirs from Balletto Vineyards and Winery.
Friday, July 3, 2015
I always look forward to meeting with John Balletto and his great wine maker Anthony Beckman.This is a very interesting feature with two incredible Pinot Noirs.Let's check out the tasting notes on these beautiful wines. 2013 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley Estate is a wine that now can be found nationally.A blend of many different sites this wine is a statement from this great winery. A lovely wine. A skinny-dip dive through just right water. Forest-floor earthliness, dark, savory spice and a slight touch of bright red fruit combine with a silky palate that lingers over its poised, age-worthy structure. Then, theres the crisp acidity that keeps the wine lively and intertwines gracefully with the structure. So serious, yet balanced and approachable. This is the Balletto pinot style. The wine has struck a fine balance and will improve during the next three to five years (or more) in bottle. Our Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is grown on seven different estate pinot vineyards. The sites range from quiet rolling hills to steep and cold hillside plantings. This diverse combination adds distinct elements from each site and creates a complete and complex wine with structure and grace. Balletto Vineyards makes all of its wine from sustainably-farmed estate vineyards located throughout the cool southern third of the Russian River Valley. It is one of the few Russian River wineries to be 100 percent estate grown and estate bottled, and specializes in vineyard-designated Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which are consistently elegant, balanced and delicious. Pinot Noir Winemaking Philosophy: Pinot Noir is one of the most expressive grape varietals grown. So we grow and harvest our grapes to showcase the uniqueness of our estate vineyards, maintain brisk natural acidity and have lower alcohol levels. We ferment exclusively with indigenous yeast in small six-ton open tops, and age our finished wine in French oak barrels with new oak used sparingly to enhance the wine, not dominate it. The result is serious Pinot Noir with depth, structure and finesse. Wines to savor. 2012 Winery Block Pinot Noir, RRV Estate is a great story. Tasting Notes: Bright. Focused. Distinct. The 2012 Winery Block single vineyard Pinot Noir expresses an uncommon depth, balance and texture. Its light, fresh and elegant yet maintains viscosity, acidity and fine tannins to finish with layered flavors and structure. Dried rose petal, rhubarb and cherry compote complement savory baking spices and distinct earthy aromas. The Winery Block is always our most vibrant Pinot bottled and its natural acidity adds to a lingering finish that concentrates the flavors and begs for the next sip. Its the complete Pinot Noir package and will develop in bottle during the next five years. Vineyard: The Winery Block is comprised of several blocks of Pinot Noir vineyards that surround the winery on Occidental Road east of Sebastopol. Soils: The Pinot selected for this bottling is grown predominantly on Wright Sandy Loam. Winemaking Notes: The Winery Block Pinot Noir is the most fun of all the wines to blend. There are four distinct Pinot clones planted to the block and each one gives the final wine a portion of its character. In 2012, the Swan clone dominated the total blend, lending distinct rose petal and violet aromas. The 114 contributed a nice texture throughout, and the Mt. Eden clone contributed the bright fruit for the blend. This Winery Block should have a long bottle life and will improve during the next five years (or more). It's time to open these wines and pour a toast to the 4th of July and a summer's night dream!Cheers! Click here and join the celebration ,Cheers.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
As the summer has taken off and the heat stays well into the evening,I find myself searching for wines that are both refreshing and bold.Our feature today is with two perfect wines for this time of year. Anthony Beckman is the wine maker for Balletto vineyards.In his first career, he worked as a news daily news journalist in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. He then moved into bio-tech website development in San Francisco. While in San Francisco, he spent all his free time and money on wine, food and trips to Sonoma County wineries. It became evident this was his calling. So he quit his technology job and a month later found himself knee deep in a tank of Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. There was no going back. After working his second harvest in New Zealand, Anthony came back to California and worked for three years as the wine buyer for Taylors Market, a gourmet grocery and wine store in Sacramento, while putting himself through UC Davis Viticulture and Enology program. He spent his mornings in classes learning the chemistry and microbiology of winemaking and afternoons tasting thousands of wines from around the world. It was the perfect combination of intellectual learning and hedonistic training. He graduated from Davis with high honors and department-wide recognition. Anthony has been with Balletto Vineyards since January 2007 when he was hired as the company's enologist. He was promoted to winemaker in January 2009. Prior to joining Balletto, he worked harvest for Peay Vineyards in the Sonoma Coast, Hudson Vineyards in the Napa-Carneros region, Delegats (Oyster Bay) in New Zealand and Quivira Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley.Now let's check out the tasting notes on these two special wines. 2013 Pinot Gris, Russian River Valley Estate Its rare to find the complex aromas and nuanced textures that this cool-climate Pinot Gris offers. Its both savory and fruity; crisp yet velvety, and the finish is long and intense. The wine begins with a magnificent mix of both bright and heady aromatics: lime, honeysuckle, ripe apple and fresh fig. The texture follows with lovely viscosity and structure thats balanced with a streak of acidity and minerality. The grapes were grown on a magnificent eight-acre vineyard that is planted exclusively to Pinot Gris. The estate vineyard is located adjacent to Ballettos highly acclaimed Burnside Rd. Vineyard. Planted on Goldridge soils and located about 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the site slopes toward the south and allows for excellent exposure. It produces cool-climate Pinot Gris that is both distinct and identifiable as Pinot Gris.Balletto Vineyards makes all of its wine from sustainably- farmed estate vineyards located throughout the cool southern third of the Russian River Valley. It is one of the few Russian River wineries to be 100 percent estate grown and estate bottled, and specializes in vineyard-designated Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which are consistently elegant, balanced and delicious.Pinot Gris Winemaking Philosophy: Pinot Gris is the close cousin to the famed Pinot Noir, with only small mutations to make bronze-colored grapes as opposed to black (noir). With this in mind, its obvious why site selection is key to producing distinct Pinot Gris. Balletto Vineyards has planted their Gris in one of the most prime Pinot Noir locations in Sonoma County, the hills southwest of Sebastopol. To showcase this site, there is minimal winemaking intervention. The grapes are whole cluster pressed and fermented in both neutral oak, for texture and length, and stainless steel for focus and minerality. The final blend captures the site and the palate. Vin de Paille 2011 Estate Pinot Gris Vin de Paille (French for Straw Wine) is a sweet wine traditionally made by drying whole clusters on straw mats. The Pinot Gris for the wine was harvested at 23% sugar and left to dry on racks for 18 days. When the sugar reached 38%, the dehydrated clusters were pressed and fermented in 100% new French oak. Straw spun into pure liquid gold. Unique & Delicious. We have paired the Pinot Gris with a beautiful Halibut Oscar From Salty's On Alki.Amazing white fish with King Crab,and a rich beautiful sauce.our dessert was made perfect as we paired this dessert wine with Cheese Cake from Stark's Steak House. Now please join me as we open these wines and enjoy our pairings.We did save you a seat!Cheers! Click here and join us for an early evening dinner with Balletto Vineyards.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
I recently sat down with John Balletto and enjoyed a bottle of his first vintage of sparkling wine.Let's check out the tasting notes and pour a glass of this great new sparkling wine. 2011 BRUT ROSE It's very warm in Sonoma County as we speak and the vineyards are a perfect sea of green as the current vintage continues.This wine is amazing and fits the day perfectly!Cheers! Winemaker's Notes It’s hard to imagine that something so lightly colored could be so full and enticing. Bright cherry and lime aromas bounce from the glass with a smattering of spices that keep it lively and interesting. But, while these aromas are captivating, the texture and structure of this Rosé set it apart. This is a serious wine that’s not hiding behind sugar or excessive softness. The tannins are real and lead to a rock mineral sensation. The acidity Rosé to pieces, but not here. An ample and lush texture pulls everything together making it complete and refined. It’s a fine example of wine under tension. Alive and uncompromising. This is a great feature and the food and wine pairing John Balletto speaks of is perfect!Let's join John now,please join us!We saved you a seat! Cheers! Click here and join us for a glass of this first vintage of this great sparkling wine from Balletto Vineyards.
Monday, June 29, 2015
I recently visited Chappellet Winery,and spent some time with Phillip Titus.This is one very busy man!He has been the wine maker for Chappellet for decades,and has also Titus Vineyards,which is now building their own winery.He also has been making the wines for Sonoma Loeb since the label was established many years ago.We will feature 5 different wines today,and first let's take a look at some of the tasting notes.I'm sure we don't have to tell you...we are in for a treat! 2013 Dutton Ranch Russian River Pinot Noir Nestled in the cool, foggy hills above the Russian River Valley in Western Sonoma County, Dutton Ranch has earned a reputation as one of the appellation’s preeminent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards. Our Pinot Noir block is perfectly located on an east-facing slope with shallow soils and full sun exposure. Yielding approximately 2.5 tons/acre of clones 667, 777 and 115 Pinot Noir, this impeccably farmed site is the perfect place for making world-class Pinot Noir. Grapes from the 2012 vintage were fermented using a combination of punch-downs and pump-overs, with wild yeast, as well as select strains from Burgundy. The wine was aged for 11 months in French oak barrels. 2013 Envoy Chardonnay As the pinnacle of our Chardonnay portfolio, Envoy is a limited production wine made using grapes from the very best vineyard blocks of the acclaimed Sangiacomo Vineyard in the Sonoma-Carneros region. This wine focuses on the Wente, Hyde and Robert Young selections of Chardonnay. These low-yielding selections have a track record of producing some of the best Chardonnays in California. They deliver a rich and layered expression of Chardonnay, with intense tropical fruit and spice character. In the true Burgundian style, the wine was barrel fermented and underwent malolactic fermentation as it aged for eight months on the lees. 2012 Private Reserve Chardonnay Our Private Reserve Chardonnay has stayed true to its roots as a Sonoma Carneros-based wine since 1990. Originally sourced from one small block of Sangiacomo Vineyard’s famed “Home Ranch,” the vineyard sources have expanded to several of Sangiacomo’s best blocks. The 2012 growing season produced the most perfectly ripe and delicious Chardonnay fruit that we have seen in many years. Sangiacomo's cool, windswept vineyards allowed the grapes to slowly mature developing intense varietal character, while retaining excellent acidity and structure.The wine was fermented in French oak barrels, aged on the lees for eight months and underwent malolactic fermentation during the aging process. Phillip says of the wine - "The fruit aromas are abundant spanning the spectrum from lemon zest to ripe apricot, pear and pineapple. Notes of golden piecrust, melted butter, vanilla and clove add elegance and complexity to the effusive aromatics. The mouthfeel is rich and layered, with ripe fruit, cream and sweet oak. Flavors of nectarine, Anjou pear and ripe citrus are displayed with a brightness and definition seen only in the best vintages. Crisp acidity adds the final touch to this powerful, yet elegantly balanced wine." 2012 Sonoma County Pinot Noir This fruit-driven Pinot Noir has abundant spicy berry and red fruit notes, as well as refreshing acidity. The 2012 growing season offered fantastic growing conditions. We were able to pick exactly when we wanted to, resulting in pristine, perfectly developed fruit with great balance and acidity. It was aged for 10 months in French oak barrels and gently handled to preserve the delicate nuances of the Pinot Noir. If you want to get geeky, here are Phillip's tasting notes: This wine begins with a nose that is both vibrant and alluring, with lovely red fruit aromas of raspberry and cherry, as well as layers of currant, rose petal, anise, nutmeg and vanilla. Strawberry and cranberry flavors glide across a silky palate, with bright acidity adding poise and dimension, as well as a mouthwatering freshness that makes this wine beautifully drinkable in its youth. We will now open these beautiful wines and enjoy the work of Phillip Ttus and the wines of Sonoma Loeb.Cheers! Click here and join Phillip Titus as we will pour the wines of Sonoma Loeb.