Wednesday, November 16, 2016
I have four great wines put aside for the first holiday feast.Two whites and two reds.We will start with the whites.Most will at least try whites wines when pairing with Turkey.For those who stick always with reds...two great Pinot Noirs from Handley Cellars.We will check out the tasting notes and open these bottles.First I have two amazing white wines. Handley Cellars is a small family-owned winery in California’s Mendocino County. Bonded in 1982, we produce around 12,000 cases of wine a year. their quality starts with the Estate Vineyards in Anderson Valley. Located at the northwest end of the Anderson Valley on 59 acres of the original Holmes Ranch. Still standing on the property are the now-refurbished ranch house, barn, and the original water tower. This Pinot Blanc immediately draws you in with its sunny nature and aromas of spring flowers, apricot blossoms, and musk melon, its signature fragrance. The aromatics are boosted by the addition of Riesling providing floral notes. The fleshiness and creamy texture is created by extended yeast lees contacting. It has juicy peach and pineapple flavors, along with the creaminess of Macadamia nuts. This Pinot Blanc shows stature and structure, all the way through its long finish, which leaves you with a pleasant lingering smack of Bartlett Pear. This is a good starter wine that works well with appetizers such as prosciutto wrapped melon, cheese platter, roasted nuts, or chicken salad. The fruit for this juicy, mouthwatering Pinot Gris is sourced from the Helluva and Romani Vineyards located at opposite ends of Anderson Valley. We employed a combination of lees stirring in neutral puncheons, along with fermentation in both large wooden ovals and stainless steel resulting in a full mouth-pleasing texture with a focused crisp mineral finish. The aromas encompass both stone fruit and tropical nuances showing nectarine and tangerine, with hints of daffodils and lemongrass. Both apricot and lime zest integrate with fleshy flavors of guava and nectarine resulting in a ripe mouthwatering wine with a dry and punchy finish. It pairs well with potato and pasta salads, ceviche and fish tacos, or seared scallops or shrimp and pasta with cream sauce. Both these wines with be perfect with the classic Turkey dinner.Handley has many whites that are excellent with this pairing,but these two stood out as my first choices.To be honest,I would start with these wines and move on to the Pinot Noirs.People who love this grape, with tell you Pinot Noir goes with everything....AND they would be correct to a certain degree.I have two current releases from Handley Cellars that are drinking very well,and just added another layer of perfection to a meal that has everything.First let's taste the 2013 Estate Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir from Handley Cellars. The CCOF organically farmed fruit for this wine comes from our Estate Vineyard located in the deep end of Anderson Valley. The blend is comprised of old vine Martini clone and a newer section of Dijon clone 777. This combination of old and new shows aromas of boysenberry, violets, baking spices with flavors of ripe black cherries and fresh baked bread and a long delicate soft finish. GOLD: Pacific Rim Wine Competition. This wine would be a meal on it's own as it's a pure expression with incredible fruit and finish.I have to admit...i'm now eating more food...just because the wines are sensational!let's open one more wine!YES,Another Pinot Noir... The fruit for this wine comes from RSM vineyard located high above the valley floor. This vineyard sheltered from northern ocean breezes is planted with a mix of Dijon clones 115 and 667 and Pommard clone. The vines struggle in the thin nutrient poor soils resulting in limited yields of small clusters of small and variable berry size. The high skin to juice ratio of the mountain fruit provides intense aromas of ripe black cherries, briary fruit, baking spices, and mushroom earthy notes. It shows intense and persistent flavors of blueberry and huckleberry pie, root beer, soy and salty seaweed and has a velvety finish complimented by ripe chalky tannins. GOLD & 93 POINTS: Press Democrat; GOLD & BEST OF CLASS: Dan Berger Wine Competition. I poured a full extra glass of this wine...just to enjoy after this amazing feast.One great aspect of this wine..no matter what you are eating it's makes it better!The meat,the string beans with fresh onion sauce,you try it,and pair with this wine.INCREDIBLE! There is just enough time to relax and light up a smoke.Perhaps your cigar of choice,or maybe something that will help bring back your need to go back for dessert ...And of course you do need to review ALL the wines,and make final decisions as to your favorites.I want to wish a very safe and happy Thanksgiving to all folks.Please make it a Handley type of holiday....Cheers!I will also post some great features which will follow this holiday special.
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
We have a number of great features with Patz and hall and also Morimoto Napa.Tonight we dine!!And also we will enjoy the beautiful Pinot Noirs from one of thye best wineries in the world!We start with the wines.Pisoni Vineyard is known all over the world as one of the best vineyards on the planet. This is another tour de force from Pisoni, combining the vineyard’s signature power and richness with alluring depth and complexity. Super-concentrated, liqueur-like aromas of Bing cherry, plum, cassis, and cola leap from the glass, followed by notes of toasted cashews, ginger and clove. For all of its depth and richness, this wine literally sings on the palate, showing amazing energy and ample enlivening acidity to add poise and definition to the voluptuous flavors of red currant, cherry and milk chocolate. A true knockout, and certainly one of the finest expressions of Pisoni Pinot Noir in many years. we have a number of wines from Patz and Hall,but this features the Pisoni Pinot and I'm on my second glass. “Saturated ruby-red color. Knockout nose combines blackberry, black cherrry and Oriental spices; reminded me of a wine from the Vosne-Romanée/Nuits-Saint-Georges neighborhood. Powerful and large-scaled but a bit youthfully monolithic, with black fruit flavors lifted by mint and ginger high notes. This big boy finishes with huge tannins that avoid coming off as hard. Hall picks this fruit late, as it's necessary to wait for the acidity to go down, but noted that in the hot years it can get porty. ‘And it's necessary to be gentle with the extraction,’ he added. This would be a perfect Pinot for a steak house.” - Stephen Tanzer Please join us as we enjoy the incredible dishes from Morimoto Napa!We saved you a seat! Inventive, high-end Japanese fare & artful cocktails presented in glamorous yet Zen surroundings.We poured you a glass of great Pinot Noir,the food just arrived!Cheers! Click here and join us for world class wines and cuisine from finewinesproductions.com.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
We have traveled into the great Napa Valley and will visit the great Morimoto Napa restaurant,and feature the wines of Patz and Hall.First we will open two wines from Patz and Hall.First the Dutton Ranch 2014 Chardonnay. The phenomenal 2014 growing season yielded a standout expression of Dutton Ranch Chardonnay with all of the lush, alluring flavors and exquisitely balanced acidity that we love about this site. Heirloom clone aromas of white flowers and jasmine are soon followed by exotic layers of mango and papaya, as well as notes of green apple and toasted hazelnut. On the palate, the dramatic flavors are knit together by a dusty textural note from the lees stirring that adds nuance and structure. Overall, this is a profoundly textural wine that captures both the charm and complexity of some of Sonoma County’s oldest Chardonnay vines.We will also feature the Jenkins Ranch Pinot Noir. Jenkins Ranch has delivered a luscious, flowing expression of Pinot Noir with rich, mouth coating tannins and alluring fruit. On the nose, layers of spicy cherry, moist forest floor and sea spray showcase this wine’s beautiful balance between concentration and complexity. The palate is lush and creamy, with supple tannins adding silkiness to red fruit flavors of raspberry, plum and pomegranate. Underscoring it all are hints of burnt almond toffee and cocoa, as well as an intriguing savoriness that carries the wine to a long satisfying finish.Tonight we will be pairing these wines with great features from Morimoto Napa! The menu would take weeks to understand just how complete this incredible menu is.We will start at the Raw Bar,and move forward.CARRY ON! We will follow with the first in a series of features with this world class restaurant and winery.Cheers! Click here and join us at Morimoto Napa!.
Thursday, August 25, 2016
As we turn the page on August,we come to another harvest in northern California.Crush for whites and grapes for sparkling wines has started,and the wine regions are alive with the excitement of harvest.let's take a break and open a few wines from Handley Cellars.I can't wait to talk with Randy Shock about these wines,and enjoy Anderson Valley.But for now let's check out the tasting notes on these special wines.First let's open the one of the signature wines from Handley Cellars.The 2013 Helluva Pinot Noir.I have had this wine a few times and think it might be one of the best Pinot Noirs I have had in recent times. The wine is composed of Pommard clone from Helluva Vineyard located at warmer end of the valley near Boonville. It has aromas of cherry cough drops, herbal horehound, and pie crust, with bright red fruit flavors of candied ripe red cherries and a long plush finish. GOLD: Dan Berger Wine Competition. Cases produced: 210 Handley Cellars produces a number of Pinots and I consider this winery to be a prime source of this grape.This wine is one of the best ever!In fact ,the wines today are all incredible.Let's move on now to the 2013 Zinfandel Redwood Valley.This wine is and has been a favorite of mine.After all...it's Zinfandel! The fruit for this wine originate from Kazmet, Oldham, and Vittorio Vineyards all head pruned dry farmed vineyards in Redwood Valley. The majority of this wine is Zinfandel from Kazmet and Oldham vineyards with a touch of Syrah and Cariganne blended in for complexity. This warmer inland region of Mendocino County reliably ripens these varietals and provides rich fruity flavors. This wine has aromas of dark berrys, candied cherries, cocoa, damp earth, and a spicy hint of cedar. It has flavors of black cherry, plum, red pepper, with hints of earth and spicy wood on the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with soft tannins and has lingering fruit that persists on the palette. Its fruitiness is focused by the acidity of the Cariganne, and the Syrah adds to its complexity with earthy and dark fruit notes. The rich candied fruit of this wine would pair well with the sweetness of barbecued beef or pork ribs. Cases: 558 The next wine is also from Redwood Valley.This area is not far from Anderson valley,but the growing regions are completely different.Redwood valley gets a lot more heat,and much less coastal influence. Handley Cellars sources fruit from both regions,which is really the best of both worlds. Noe let's open this great Syrah from Handley Cellars. This wine is from the Hazmet Vineyard and is a true low yielding vineyard that produced this rich and full bodied wine.Warning! You will love this wine!Don't say I didn't warn you. Now we have a wine from Handley Cellars that really caught me off guard. The 2013 Petite Sirah Vittorio Vineyard Anderson Valley.I do really like this grape, but have found it to have a very huge personality,that sometimes is better than other times.What I'm trying to say is that I don't like most of them....I LOVED THIS ONE! The grapes for this wine are organically farmed, CCOF certified from the Vittorio Vineyard in Redwood Valley. This vineyard, located on the bench lands east of the Russian River, is head pruned and dry farmed. These older vines provide ripe fruit with dense flavors. This hearty red wine is full and rich on the palette with aromas of wild brambles, sage, anise, pepper and biscotti. It shows intense flavors of blackberry, black raspberry, plum, cocoa, with subtle spicy sandalwood and tobacco notes. It is round and full in the mouth with medium tannins. The finish is long and the flavors are focused by its acidity and structure. This wine pairs well with braised beef short ribs or a grilled buffalo ribeye smothered in blue cheese butter. Cases produced: 194 Now that we have all these wines open ,and I have not eaten in a couple hours,I think it's time to FEEEEED DOC! I will visit Handley Cellars soon and have features on these wines,but for now.. please join me in a glass of wine and at least I gave you the HEADS UP ,so you can contact the winery and get a case or two of these incredible wines.Cheers! Enjoy your day!
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
In a few days September will be with us,and crush2016 will soon be here.We will enjoy the wines of J.Pedroncelli Vineyards today,and have 4 wines to open and share with you.Let's start with the Sauvignon Blanc.We will check out the tasting notes and look back at the great history of this fabled winery. Since 1927, when John Pedroncelli, Sr. purchased vineyard and a small winery in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley, two elements remain unchanged: the exceptional place the Pedroncelli family farms vineyards, and the family's dedication to making fine wines. From selling grapes to home winemakers during prohibition in order to keep the vineyards going, to growing a small base of business during the 1930s and 1940s, to the second generation joining their father: son John becoming winemaker in 1948 followed by Jim in 1955 as sales director, to 1963 when the winery was officially purchased by John and Jim from their father, to growing the line of wines in the 1960s with vineyard expansion and diversification, to the boom time of the 1970s and 1980s along with many changes and additions to our sales base including national sales and export, the third generation coming on board and vineyard replanting in the 1990s to the 21st century refining our focus to restaurants and casual dining/meet-up wine bars and independent wine shops across the nation. to the transfer of ownership of the company to the third generation (now a 70% woman owned company with a woman winemaker!) to the second decade in the new millennium where the fourth generation is coming up the ranks... Nine decades strong, we are still family owned and operated. The SB is the 2015 vintage,and a crisp wine filled with beautiful fruit. Aromatic with lemongrass and a touch of green apple. The fresh flavors are layered with lime, tropical fruit, and honey. Our Sauvignon Blanc is quite refreshing and tangy with bright acidity and a silky mouth feel. Please enjoy upon release or within a year or two as no aging is required.This is perfect to star a meal and will be great with many seafood dishes.Now the next wine is one of my favorites.Every time you open a bottle of the 2014 Bench Vineyard Merlot, you enter Sonoma County Merlot paradise.I have often told folks that this wine is an amazing value and consistently the same vintage after vintage. Pedroncelli Merlot presents aromas of black plum and spice. Red cherry and deep plum flavors are showcased along with cinnamon notes and, in the background, a touch of vanilla and smoky oak. Medium bodied with smooth tannins follow through to a velvety finish. I always request meat with this wine as well as the next two wines.First we will open the Dry Creek Valley Three Vineyards Cabernet. Rich aromas of red plum, sage and toasted oak introduce our Cabernet Sauvignon. Ripe cherry fruit, black olive and black pepper spice follow on the palate. The wine showcases the fruit with a bit of jammy blackberry and a spicy finish. From a richer vintage showing firm tannins and good acidity. Enjoy upon release or cellar up to eight more years.All of these wines will be a great addition to your family feast.But let's also include the wisdom Cabernet from J.Pedroncelli Vineyards. This wine will impress you with it's complex finish and incredible up front fruit. A full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with aromas of black plum, warm spice and currants. The rich flavors of ripe plum, berry and black pepper are woven with mellow tannins and great acidity. With it’s reserve-style complexity and depth, this is a wine to enjoy now or age 5–8 more years.These wines will be a perfect fit with steaks,and chops.I'm thinking a New York strip steak with a large amount of pepper sauce.AND I think we should get started NOW!!Please join us!We will follow this feature with some features from the past with the great folks at J.Pedroncelli Vineyards.Please plan on visiting Sonoma county and J.Pedroncelli soon,as we enjoy the crush of 2016.Cheers!
Monday, August 15, 2016
I moved to northern California about 20 years ago.At that time I loved red wines and had many favorites.Shortly after moving here, I had my first Zinfandel.I have not looked back,since opening that bottle.I love the wines and the stories that come with them.I have loved Jed Steele's wines for many years,and I'm very excited to open these bottles today.We have three Zinfandels,so we better get started. We will open first,the Steele Zinfandel 2010 Dupratt Vineyard. We will check out the tasting notes and a little history. Even in a good year, picking the DuPratt Vineyard is never easy. A mountain vineyard with hilly terrain gives some vines more sun. By its nature Zinfandel ripens unevenly and each cluster has raisins, ripe berries and under-ripe berries. Choosing when to harvest takes skill, intuition and sometimes, good luck. Our answer to this is a test pick in which we harvest two rows, which run the length of the vineyard. If we get what we feel are adequate sugars after a day of soaking on the skins, we then harvest the remainder of the vineyard. Even so we keep the upper (riper) part of this vineyard separate from the lower portion.Mendocino Ridge is known for great wines,and a tough time making them. This tiny 5.5 acre plot of 80 year old vines has always produced wines of spectacular quality. The long season enjoyed by grapes grown in the Mendocino Ridge appellation does allow full ripeness and consistent quality year in and year out. Aging for 16 months in a special mix of Taransaud French Oak barrels is the other key to the great flavors and drinking pleasure that is a hallmark of the DuPratt Zinfandel. The long season and elevation makes wines that are rich, elegant and complex. They are more like fine Claret than typical old vine Zinfandel from California.This is the oldest of the three Zinfandels we will taste today. I like to drinks these wines young,but the fruit is still great in this wine,and we will need a very complex dish to go with it.I picked the Korean Ribs from Gary Chu's Chinese . Now what I want to do is suggest a few dishes for these wines.So let's move on to our other 2 wines and get back to the food shortly.Our second Zinfandel is the 2012 Catfish Vineyard Zinfandel from Steele wines. The vineyard is located on the Bell Hill bench of Lake County just south of Kelseyville. Catfish Vineyard, planted in 1901, is head pruned and stands on its own roots. Steele Wines purchased the vineyard in 2000 and we have been working to rehabilitate the old vines since that time. Catfish Vineyard Zinfandel, is actually a field blend of a number of varieties, including small amounts of carignan, alicante bouschet, cabernet sauvignon , petite sirah, and cinsault. Having more than one variety assured the old-time vintners that they would have some grapes to harvest regardless of the spring frosts or autumn storms.Steele has made this wine for many years,and it always sells very quickly.You will love turning your friends on to these wines,and this wine will be requested over and over.One of the best Zinfandels made,end of discussion.BUT,we do have another Zinfandel,and this is the 2013 Pacini Vineyard. The Pacini Family planted this vineyard circa 1940 on the western foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains in Mendocino County. This beautiful old vineyard is head-pruned as are most Zinfandel vineyards of the era. Steele Wines purchased the vineyard in 1998 from the Pacini Family. Since then we have been refurbishing the vineyard and replacing vines in the positions where the old vines have died. The location of the vineyard prevents us from irrigating or frost protecting due to the limited water supply. This provides for the intense flavors and aromas in this low yielding Zinfandel. when the vines are very old they produce far less but most Zinfandel lovers will tell you that's part of the fun,is the age of the vines,and the unique wines that are produced. Steele wines keeps the temperatures on their fermentations moderate to develop the color and flavors inherent in this wine. They age the Pacini Vineyard Zinfandel in American oak barrels for 12 months. The nose is full of ripe cherry and blueberry with undertones of toasted hazelnut and vanilla. The palate is full of ripe wild berries, spice, and cherry cola, with dusty cocoa and light tannin on the finish. The wine has great structure, and is well balanced. The structure in these wines is why I think they are perfect for Asian food !The sauces are a great match for the deep,lingering finish on these wines.The Catfish has a coffee background note that just keeps me pouring another intriguing taste of this wine.The Dupratt is best paired with a cheery or Orange sauce,and I picked Spicy Orange Chicken,and it works very well. I went "Bridge" with the Pacini Zinfandel,and paired it with the Duck and Spicy sauce.I knew I was in for a feast when I opened these wines,but I have passion for this cuisine and also for the Zinfandels from Steele Wines.There is still work to be done...would you care to join me?Kindly bring three glasses over when you sit down.I will follow this new feature with a few Steele features from the past.I'm ready for more food and wine,pardon me!Cheers!
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
As July 4th holidays approach,the summer heat has been present daily.The vineyards are doing well,and the drive into Anderson Valley is like driving into paradise.Let's check out a little history and then tasting notes on our two white wines today. Handley Cellars is a small family-owned winery in California’s Mendocino County. Bonded in 1982, we produce around 12,000 cases of wine a year. Our quality starts with our Estate Vineyards in Anderson Valley. We are located at the northwest end of the Anderson Valley on 59 acres of the original Holmes Ranch. Still standing on the property are the now-refurbished ranch house, barn, and the original water tower. At Handley Cellars, we offer a wide variety of wines that complement today’s diverse cuisines. Winemaker Milla Handley seeks to make balanced wines that possess distinctive varietal characteristics, wines that reflect the soil and climate in which they were grown. Handley’s beautiful tasting room is located 6 miles northwest of Philo, California, on Highway 128. We offer tours by appointment, and our garden courtyard is open for picnics. Stop by to try our selections and, while visiting, enjoy our unique display of folk art collected from around the world. At Handley Cellars, they firmly believe in a conscious and conscientious approach to farming and winemaking. We purchase grapes from small, local, family growers, and whenever possible, we select fruit that is farmed organically. Our winemaking philosophy is to let the distinctive qualities of each vineyard shine through. Working with carefully tended, exceptional sites, we strive to create wines which faithfully reflect the unique characteristics of the vineyards and viticultural region, focusing on our appellation of Anderson Valley. We select vineyards that fully ripen at lower brix, resulting in wines with low to moderate alcohol levels. Beginning with the 2012 vintage, our white wines are free of animal products. From start to finish, we are mindful of our impact on our rural valley, and the implications of our farming and wine making choices for future generations. 2014 was a year of early harvests in Anderson Valley. On the nose, this Pinot Gris offers tropical aromas of papaya and banana, with hints of orange blossom and freesia. Flavors of grapefruit, nectarines, and creamscicle, with hints of butterscotch and savory spices accompany a crisp, yet creamy, mouth feel. This wine would pair nicely with a cold cucumber soup, gazpacho, barbequed oysters, or steamed mussels with garlic and butter. The Pinot Blanc was picked by hand and gently pressed whole cluster. The juice was allowed to settle for three days in a stainless steel tank and then racked off the solids to another stainless steel tank to begin fermentation. The juice was inoculated with VL1 yeast which was selected for its ability to enhance the terpenes naturally present in this varietal. A small amount of Riesling was blended in post fermentation to add structure and a hint of sweetness. Both the Pinot Blanc and Riesling were prevented from undergoing any malolactic fermentation to preserve their bright fruity characters. The wine was sterile filtered and no eggs, dairy, or animal derived products were used in the production of this wine. This Pinot Blanc immediately draws you in with its sunny nature and aromas of spring flowers, apricot blossoms, and musk melon, its signature fragrance. The aromatics are boosted by the addition of Riesling providing floral notes. The fleshiness and creamy texture is created by extended yeast lees contacting. It has juicy peach and pineapple flavors, along with the creaminess of Macadamia nuts. This Pinot Blanc shows stature and structure, all the way through its long finish, which leaves you with a pleasant lingering smack of Bartlett Pear. This is a good starter wine that works well with appetizers such as prosciutto wrapped melon, cheese platter, roasted nuts, or chicken salad. Randy and I have enjoyed a glass of the wines and food just arrived at the table.We ahve a huge chicken salad,and have added fresh crab salad.A loaf of fresh bread,and mixed nuts.The only way this gets better ...if we are eating picnic style in the vineyards.DONE!And the entire crew has joined us!Cheers! Click here and join our summer lunch at Handley Cellars.