Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Crisp White Wines for a Summer Day/Handley Cellars/Randy Shock

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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Lake County /The home Of Steele Wines/Writer's Block

We have two more wines from Quincy Steele and his Writer's Block Grenache 2013 and My favorite the Writer's Block Zinfandel 2012. We will take a look at their tasting notes and open these bottles.We will also make a couple dishes to go with these wines...After all...I haven't eaten in almost 40 minutes. This Grenache is made from two Lake County vineyards, predominantly Fiora Vineyard, with a smaller amount coming from Shannon Ridge Vineyard. Fiora Vineyard is in the far northeast Long Valley area, and is situated on an old creek bank. Shannon Ridge Vineyard is situated in the High Valley AVA I like the idea of pairing a pork chop with this wine.I like to start in a fry pan,and then finish the chop in the oven.I also like to open a beer...(often)...And pour a small amount over the chop and return to the oven.Maybe even do that twice.It adds to the flavor,and makes the meat bake in it's own sauce.Now I have to admit,I'm looking forward to our next wine. California’s grape having connected origins in Italy and Croatia, Zinfandel is one of the oldest and most predominant varietals grown in California; both presently and historically. Every region where wine grapes are grown in California contains some Zinfandel, though Northern California (above SF bay) counties; Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, and Amador, are primarily where it is found in greater density. Zinfandel makes a wide range of different wines depending on the climate where it is grown and how it is grown to harvested (earlier or later in the season). Zinfandel has a long history in Lake County, evidenced by the estate Catfish Vineyard, mostly Zinfandel, and dating back to 1901. As a microcosm of Zinfandel in California, Lake County is a generally warmer viticultural area. Some Zinfandel is harvested mature in early September and some toward the end of October.I love Zinfandels,and this wine will go very well with Ribs and ZIN!A standard in wine country. Robin Hill vineyard, managed by Jeff and Walt Lyon, is the primary source for the Writer’s Block Zinfandel. The Zinfandel of this vineyard was planted in 2001, and as the site and early harvests have indicated is a very promising Zinfandel source. The vineyard is located off highway 29 approximately 10 miles North of Lakeport. It is surrounded by oak trees on the top of a hill with slopes that nearly border the Clearlake AVA. This vineyard tends to ripen early, and as such exhibits fresher red fruit aromas and flavor, with some herbal tea, and characteristic notes of clove.We have more for you as we will follow with one of the best features I have ever done.I'm talking about the incredible Stymie Merlot from Steele Wines. The story is as good as the wine!AND the wine is the 2012 vintage.This is one of the best wines I have ever,and I mean EVER had the pleasure to drink.I will enjoy this tonight with a NY strip Steak,and all the trimmings.Check out the features to follow as we look back and listen to Jed Steele tell us a REAL horse story!Cheers!

Steele Wines/Lake County/Writer's Block/Quincy Steele

Jed Steele is a pioneer in the wine business.he has a long and fabled history of making world class wines in northern California. His son, Quincy Steele, is now the next generation of the Steele family.Today we share some of the features we did with Steele Wines,and also focus on the Writer's Block wines.I will start with the tasting notes of these wines and then we will open these wines.We start with Roussance,and then move on to 4 red wines. The Roussanne was sourced from Shannon Ridge Vineyard exclusively. The vineyard sits at 1900ft elevation and is planted on some of the steepest vineyard slopes in the county. The soils are sandy and well drained. The combination of the shorter growing season, specific soils, and small cropped vines, produce outstanding grapes.We have started with this wine and it offers a perfect beginning to any meal. I have made a small beginning course of swordfish grilled and topped with a Bearnaise sauce.Just a small amount of sauce,and the fish and wine balance with perfection. This Roussanne shows varietal aromas and flavors of apricots, pear, some mint and green tea-leaf. The wine is fermented in 20% new Hungarian oak and aged for a minimum 8 months before bottling. Notes of herbal tea, honey and pear with hints of honeysuckle and vanilla are the aromas and flavors you find in this Roussanne. Typical of white varietals from the Rhone Valley, this wine has a viscous texture to its mouth feel. To balance this wine, we keep as much of the natural acidity of the wine alive by arresting its malolactic fermentation. We now will open the Writer's Block Malbec This Malbec is sourced from the Red Hills Appellation of Lake County. The vineyard was planted in 1999-2000 on well drained slopes of iron rich red soil, remnants of an eruption of Mt. Konocti. An excellent vineyard site above 2000’ ft. planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Steel Wines were one of the first wineries to work with Red Hills Malbec. WINE STYLE & TASTING NOTES Winemaker Quincy Steele’s experiences working in Argentina inform this wine and its style. Native yeast fermentation, extended macerations, and cooler fermentation temperatures give him as much control as possible with respect to extracting. Aged in French, Hungarian and American oak (equal parts, although only 15% new). Aromas and flavors are very pronounced ripe red berry and black fruit, and spice with medium acid and moderate tannins. I like this wine and have paired it with TriTip and an Asian sauce.The wine is big enough to stand up to the sauce,and I love this Pairing! We will include one more of the wines from Writer's Block and Quincy Steele. we now will open the 2013 Writer's Block Petite Sirah. The fruit for the Petite Sirah comes from Clay Shannon’s vineyards in High Valley. This high elevation, cooler climate vineyard produces a little leaner Petite Sirah compared with lower elevation sites. Not much has to be done to the Petite Sirah grape for it to be bright with fruit and deep with color. During the fermentation we used the rack and return process to increase mouthfeel and tannin balance followed by aging in French and Hungarian Oak for 8 months. This wine speaks for itself.The tasting notes are short(as you see),and I like the fruit that comes thru,and I will start up another course to go with this great wine. The intense flavor of Petite Sirah usually calls for intense foods to match the flavors. However, since this wine is slightly lighter than typical Petite Sirahs, it will pair well with anything from fennel sausage pasta to Osso Buco.I agree with the winery! Ossu Buco is a balanced and perfect match.We will now follow this feature with a few features on some of the older vintages of these great wines. Cheers!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Drew Family Cellars/Anderson Valley/Mendocino Ridge/Syrah

We have featured the wines of Drew Family Cellars recently and now have a great feature about Syrah! We will look into the tasting notes and a little back ground on these wines,and then join Jason drew as he tells us of his Syrah(s). With such a strong background in the vineyard it is no surprise why Jason Drew sees the vineyard site as the foremost ingredient in making exceptional wines. Considerable time is spent researching each vineyard chosen for the Drew portfolio. He establishes relationships with growers who share in his enthusiasm for meticulous and sustainable farming practices. Jason feels he is merely the steward of the fruit in his winemaking. Grapes are picked when they have reached the desired flavors, while also maintaining essential acidity. Depending on the lot, a certain percentage of the fruit is destemmed while some is left whole clusters; the fruit is dropped into open top 4x4 wooden box fermentors. The fruit/must is left for a cold soak for several days. All fermentations are started with the native yeasts. During fermentation the cap of the must is punched down by hand 1 to 3 three times per day to ensure desired color and phenolics. When the must is dry it is gently pressed into tank and left to settle and then gravity racked into 100% French Oak (5-30% new oak) to begin its elevage of 11- 18 months in the barrel. During this elevage lees stirring is employed on certain lots for added structure and interest to the wine. Drew wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered. Jason’s aim is to make beautiful examples of Pinot Noir and Syrah that reflect the traditional nature of the varietal, the site and the appellation and , of course to be enjoyed with food and friends! There are three Syrahs. We will tell you of two of them today. 2014 Valenti Ranch Syrah Mendocino Ridge This is a challenging coastal site with daily maritime winds and fog resulting in cooler temperatures throughout the growing season. Being only 6 miles from the coast and sitting on an east face this site produces extrordinary concentration with an elegant foundation. The fierce coastal winds lends itself to naturally low yields resulting in excellent ripeness and intensity at lower sugar levels. Made in the tradition of the northern rhone, we co-ferment with 5% Viognier from the same vineyard. The result is a well structured and intensely flavored Syrah, a wine meant to pair with food. Preferably roasted lamb. 2013 Perli Vineyard Syrah Mendocino Ridge The Mendocino Ridge is the only appellation based on proximity to the Pacific Ocean and elevation. As such, in order to qualify a vineyard must be 12 miles or less from the ocean and at least 1,200 feet above sea level. As members, these vineyards get more sunlight, more intense coastal wind and natural cooling from the surrounding fog. They are also typically on slopes with excellent drainage and thin soils. This all translates into intense wines with great structure, concentration and complexity. This classic cool climate Syrah is just beginning to show what is has to offer. It has all the crushed black pepper and wild bramble berries along with some lovely flint and leather notes. We are quite taken with this wine. Pair with roasted game or spring lamb among other savory.We have a third wine,but will open these two,as we enjoy our great feature. Cheers! Click here and join us as we enjoy the wines of Drew Family Cellars.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Chef Luc LaTouche/A French Feast/The wines Of Rodney Strong Vineyards

Today we decided to stop work early and prepare as chef Luc Latouche will arrive shortly.The early summer day is very warm and we we enjoy a number of courses with Chef Luc.First let's look at the wines from Rodney Strong Vineyards.We will start with Chardonnay and move on to Pinot Noirs from this great Sonoma winery. 2014 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ESTATE WINEMAKING NOTES Our Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is brimming with apple, pear, pineapple and lemongrass with a core of bright acidity and a long toasty finish. This wine was barrel fermented in new French oak creating toasty vanilla and spice complexities in the wine. We regularly stirred the lees during the 10 months of barrel aging to add richness and texture. The remaining portion was cold fermented in stainless steel, where malolactic fermentation brought additional character. The 2014 Reserve Chardonnay has wonderful aromas of baked apple, pineapple and baking spices. On the palate the creamy lemon meringue and nutmeg notes are well balanced by crisp acidity and a rich mouthfeel. FOOD PAIRINGS Enjoy this Chardonnay now with cheese raviolis with cream sauce, herb crusted halibut, roasted chicken, or cellar it for enjoyment over the next 3 to 5 years. THE VINEYARDS A mild, dry winter followed by a replenishing amount of rain in February and early March of 2014 encouraged the vine buds to push a little earlier than normal. The spring was warm, dry and frost free, thankfully. Overcast days became the norm in late July and August, helping to preserve berry acidity. Higher than average yields proved fortuitous in slowing the pace of ripening as the 2014 growing season would register to be the warmest in many years. We picked the Garfield Chardonnay on September 17, with the clone 15 coming in at 23.0 brix and the clone 76 at 24.0 brix. The acidity was perfect, the flavors were complex, plus we dodged a little sprinkling of rain that fell that evening. we also have two Pinot Noirs from Rodney Strong Vineyards. WINEMAKING NOTES Grown in some of the coolest areas within the Sonoma Coast region, this traditionally made Pinot Noir aged for 10 months in French oak barrels, a third of them new. This mediumbodied wine starts with aromas of pomegranate, cola, raspberry and spice, with crisp acidity and vibrant fruit and spice fl avors that fi nish smooth and silky. HISTORY Situated in the Southern and Western end of Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast is a distinct region that is directly infl uenced by the Pacifi c Ocean and is known to produce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of exceptional complexity with true varietal and terroir characteristics unique to the region. Sonoma Coast’s climate means the region is ideally suited to cold-climate viticulture, encouraging the full expression of both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which are very different to those from warmer regions. Our Pinot Noir comes from two distinct areas of Sonoma Coast — a majority from Green Valley and the remainder from Petaluma Gap. Green Valley is known to be the coldest area within the AVA with a strong coastal climate infl uence due to constant fog in the miles near the Pacifi c Ocean and the channel created to bring that fog further inland via the Russian River and Petaluma Gap. Combined with its unique soil type — Goldridge, Green Valley Pinot Noir exhibits unique characteristics true to coolclimate Sonoma Coast and our vineyards within Green Valley help us create an exemplary medium-bodied, acidic, elegant Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. THE VINEYARDS 2013 was the kind of growing season that most would wish we could have every year: a dry, frost-free spring, a warm summer without heat spikes, and a warm, rain free autumn that allows for picking all varieties in their turn when they are perfectly mature. This Pinot Noir was harvested from vineyards in Sonoma Coast between September 11th and September 17th. We are now ready to enjoy a few dishes with these great wines.Join us as we visit with Greg Morthole,and then chef Luc Latouche!Cheers! Click here and join us as we enjoy the chardonnay first. Click here as we enjoy great Pinot Noirs from Rodney Strong Vineyards.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Rodney Strong Malbecs/A Perfect Pairing/Classic French Cooking

what do you like to pair with your Rodney Strong Malbecs?Rodney Strong Vineyards does two great Malbecs,and we will open both and ask a French chef to help us.Please join us,as we check out the tasting notes and a little back ground on the wines. Our story begins over 55 years ago, when a celebrated American dancer named Rod Strong settled in Sonoma County to pursue a second lifelong creative passion: winemaking. Rodney Strong Vineyards was the 13th winery bonded in the newly discovered Sonoma County wine industry. A trio of winemaking paths crossed when Rick Sayre joined the team as Winemaker in 1979, and again when the Klein Family, 4th generation California farmers, purchased the winery in 1989 and initiated a renewed commitment of modern artisan winemaking. Through the years, Rodney Strong Vineyards has earned the reputation for critically acclaimed Single Vineyard and Reserve wines, stand out Estate releases and best-in-class Sonoma County varietal wines. Rodney Strong received the honor of being named Wine Enthusiast’s American Winery of the Year in 2013. Introduced in 2000, each year the Wine Enthusiast honors those that have impacted the wine and spirits industry with their Wine Star Awards. With the designation of American Winery of the Year, the Wine Enthusiast has recognized Rodney Strong’s commitment to quality, luxury and Sonoma County.​ WINEMAKING NOTES Rich, lush and full bodied, the 2013 vintage displays intense aromas and flavors of blackberry, black currant, cocoa and crushed violet. This wine is structured and balanced with smooth integrated tannins and a lingering finish of toasty baking spices and vanilla. FOOD PAIRINGS Enjoy this wine now with braised short ribs, rosemary crusted leg of lamb or mushroom stroganoff or lay a few bottles down in your cellar to enjoy in 3 to 5 years. THE VINEYARDS Winter of 2012 was very mild, and so was the spring of 2013, which encouraged an early bud break. The summer was warm, with a hot spell in June and some misty weather in July, though mostly warm. August and September were filled with 80-90°F days, ideal temperatures for balanced ripening. Overall the 2013 vintage proved to be warmer than any in the previous 20 years. The stage is set,let's join Greg Morthole and chef Luc as we show the main theme of the show...."Feed Doc"! Cheers! Click here and join us as we just poured you a glass of two great Malbecs.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Jason And Molly Drew/Drew Family Cellars/Pinot Noirs/Anderson Valley And Mendocino Ridge

I have been featuring Anderson Valley for many years.I'm very excited about the wines produced by Drew Family Cellars.I recently sat down with Jason Drew and we talked about his Pinot Noir production.We will check out a little history from this fine label and then take a look at a couple wine tasting notes.Then we should pour a glass of Pinot Noir,and relax while we listen to this feature with Jason Drew. After scouring the coast of California for not only an ideal site to grow and make cool climate wines, but also a place to raise their two sons , Jason and Molly Drew landed back on the North Coast after spending five years in the Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara. They had lived in many places in California and had spent time overseas. It came as no surprise that they found themselves drawn back home to Northern California. The pristine land and frontier qualities of the far north coast had always captured their interest. If they were going to commit themselves to the rural life in the "hinterlands" and build their boutique winery with living space for the four of them, it would have to be an all hands on deck affair. There was no part time way to do this! They looked at several properties in the Mendocino Ridge and in the Anderson Valley. The search quickly narrowed when they laid their eyes on a 26 acre ridgtop orchard. The orchard appeared abandoned; some trees had not been pruned for 15 years. It was quite clearly a restoration project!! The land was gently south facing with an elevation of approximately 1250 to 1300 feet and a mere 3.3 miles to the ocean. The fog drifted in like a cream river up the Greenwood Creek watershed creating a surreal environment where the mountains meet the sea. The property was just above this daily fog, keeping the temps moderate during the heat of the day. Plainly stated, they were in utter disbelief and knew they had found their spot! 2014 Morning Dew Ranch Pinot Noir Anderson Valley This is our sixth release of this esteemed site located in the "deep end" of Anderson Valley. Planted by Burt Williams founding winemaker of Williams Seylem. This south facing hillside vineyard is planted to several prized field selections. We source two blocks planted to the Rochioli selection and the 828 ( an alleged La Tache selection). We feel this is the best vintage from this vineyard to date. A medium bodied wine with dark red fruit, notably pomegranate, plums, savory herbs, and a black trumpet mushroom character. The acid brings tension and energy. A compelling wine worth keeping in your cellar as patience will indeed be rewarded. The Gatekeeper is the entry point into our Pinot Noirs but certainly not an entry level wine. There is immense flexibility in being able to bring together several lots in our cellar to make an appellation blend. This approach allows several sites and clones to coalesce for a layered expression of coastal Mendocino. The three appellations represented in this year’s Gatekeeper include Anderson Valley, Yorkville Highlands and the Mendocino Ridge. The cool forested hills of Anderson Valley, the mineral laden soils of the Yorkville Highlands and the coastal windswept high hills of Mendocino Ridge all combine for a chiseled, medium bodied, energetic wine . Dark stone fruits, dried floral notes along with loamy forest understory. An unfurling story here. Indeed! We should now open these wines and enjoy our feature!Cheers! Click here only if you LOVE Pinot Noir.