Archive for March, 2011

Blends – the Varietal All-Star Team

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Blends - the Varietal All-Star TeamI love a good blend. I’m not talking about the bland, throw-together-whatever-we-have-leftover blends. Thanks, I’ll pass on those. I’m talking about the perfectly balanced masterpieces of vino. I’m talking about the blends that in one sniff, swirl and swallow celebrate the unique attributes of each varietal in a single, powerful union. Maybe it comes from my sports background or maybe because it’s impossible to turn on the T.V. right now without running into another March Madness game. (I’m not bitter the Gators beat my Gauchos…no, not at all.) Blends are like an all-star varietal team. Sure you could have a team of Zin power forwards dunking fruit bombs all day, but who’s going to run the court and bring some color balance to that game? Now throw a little Petite Sirah point guard in the mix, maybe a Grenache guard, and now you’re talking a power team!

Thursday 3/31 Moonstone Cellars Wine TastingWhy blend? According to one of the blend’s best, Moonstone Cellars (featured at this Thursday’s 3/31 tasting), color and balance are the top two reasons. Blending can brighten up a wine, smooth the acidity, balance the alcohol level, and bring complexity to the palate.

In our opinion, Paso Robles has taking the blend to a true art form and has a bounty of blends to pick from.  We thought we’d share a few of our favorites for your all-star vino team consideration.

  • Justin 2007 Isosceles
    A big money player, but packs a punch worth the ticket. Offers an opaque, dense purple-black core with little color change to the rim. The nose brings black and blue fruit, firm but inviting oak notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a sense of just-roasted dark-roast coffee beans with a later note of dark cocoa, a dash of black pepper, and a drop of vanilla. The palate reveals an immensely flavored wine, repeating the black fruit intensity and powerful tannins.The roster: 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot
  • Chronic Cellars 2009 Sofa King Bueno
    Not every player demands a huge contract; Chronic Cellars’ 09 Sofa King Bueno brings power playing for an approachable price. Offering juicy fruits, Bing cherries and ripe blackberries followed up by notes of toasted vanilla, cinnamon spice and clove. Consistent flavor, well-integrated fruit and delicate tannins. Mouth-filling and seductive with no hard edges.The roster: 27% Petite Sirah, 25% Syrah, 20% Tempranillo, 14% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre and 4% Tennat 
  • Herman Story 2008 Tomboy - 90 Points, Robert Parker!
    Who said all great blends are reds? Not us! Herman Story’s 08 90 point white is a full-flavored, balls-to-the-walls, intensively flavored blend. The 08 Tomboy blend brings balance to the court with a powerful, rich white blend of marmalade and tropical fruit aromatics to a boat load of glycerin and concentration. Drink over the next 1-2 years.The roster: 40% Marsanne, 40% Roussanne, and 20% Viognier

So who makes your roster?

Davina DaVino

Drink your wine! Don’t dust it!

Friday, March 18th, 2011

 When I first started exploring wine, my wine closet (ok, more like a wine rack) rarely made it over 5 bottles. Why? Because I drank them. Switch to today, where my wine closet is stacked floor to ceiling with great wines. A wine lovers dream, right? Yes, if I were actually drinking them. Unfortunately, I’m dusting them, not drinking them. Maybe it was the process of collecting them like little treasures of grape goodness for that “perfect” moment of uncorking, but now I can’t bring myself to actually open them. It’s true…I have become a wine hoarder.

What’s the fun in that?

That’s exactly what Brian Loring of Loring Wine Company (our featured winery at next Thursday’s Night Tasting) asks in a great two part episode on Vaynerchuck’s Wine Library TV. Among other industry and vintner insights, Loring pleas with wine geeks everywhere: “Drink your wine!” (Check out part 1 and part 2 here.)

We agree and offer up a couple young goodies that are tasting well now for your drinking (not dusting) pleasure.

  • Beckmen ’09 Grenache
    Bright and bold for its age, this 100% Grenache brings together fruit from two exceptional clones planted on Beckmen’s estate vineyards meticulously farmed with a focus on low yields to achieve high quality fruit with great concentration. Intensely aromatic, this Grenache displays bright red berry fruit and spice layers, underscored by a plush, silky texture. 475 cases produced. Get it.
  • Palmina ’10 Pinot Grigio
    Freshening things up, this new kid on the block brings beautiful aromatics with notes of nectar, green pear, quince and a hint of sesame seed. Lively and yet round on the palate with lemon curd and more pear flavors mingling with lychee, marjoram spice and a gravelly earthy streak of flinty summer rain. The color of diffused sunlight on an early summer morning, Palmina’s ’10 Pinot Grigio is versatile with food and lovely on its own as an aperitif, picnic wine or as a well deserved glass of wine after a hard workday. Get it.
  • Forefront ’08 Cabernet Sauvignon
    Born a deep thinker (or drinker), Forefront’s ’08 Cabernet Sauvignon brings a blend of multiple varieties and appellations giving this bottling tremendous complexity. Syrah delivers the wine’s modern profile lending a luscious fruit-forward character that is a soft counterpoint to the Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa. Aromas of blackberry, red cherry and raspberry leap from the glass, enlivened by intriguing notes of spice, cedar and toffee. The palate echoes the nose with a juicy swirl of dark and red berries and plum, supported by solid yet smooth tannins that prolong the delicious finish. Get it.

Also, get to know our featured winemaker on Vaynerchuck’s Wine Library TV for some poignant industry, wine making and wine history insights. It’s an oldie, but a goodie.

Brian Loring on Wine Library TV, part 1
Brian Loring on Wine Library TV, part 2
Thanks Wine Library TV!

Davina DaVino

Wine for St. Patrick’s Day? Why not?!

Friday, March 11th, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Wine PairingsPerhaps it’s the Irish red head in me, but I’m going rogue this St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great beer just as much as the next person (after all, we’re offering a great beer flight and $4.00 black-and-tans in the shop at our St. Patrick’s Day tasting), but I’m thinking, why not try something new this year? Why not wine?

We put our wine-o and foodie crew to work to come up with some not-so-traditional pairings for traditional St. Patrick’s Day dishes. Give them a go for your day of green, and who knows, you might find a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow!

Corned Beef and Cabbage? Pick a nice Pinot Noir.

An Irish-American version of the traditional bacon and cabbage, corned beef and cabbage takes its place as the King of St. Patty’s Day Plates. Created by brined beef boiled with cabbage, vegetables, and traditional seasonings, corned beef and cabbage pairs best with a Pinot Noir or a Grenache which brings fruit and acidity to the dish, but not overwhelmingly so.

  • Our recommendation: Melville’s 2008 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir

    Sure it’s from famous Santa Rita Hills, but more importantly, it brings to the dish a aromatics of black rasberry, black cherry & fig mixed in with spice nuances of pink peppercornss able to stand up to but not bowl over your corned beef and cabbage.

Bangers & Mash? Bring on the Syrah!

Traditionally an English dish, these bold and spicy sausages and mashed potatoes need a bold and spicy wine. A Syrah or Zin with their combination of fruit and spice will match up nicely here, and complement the flavors in the dish.

  • Our recommendation: Jaffurs 2009 Santa Barbara County Syrah   From our local Syrah specialists, Jaffurs, the 2009 SBC Syrah offers a chewy mix of spice, wild berry, pepper and blackberry fruit ending with a long, zesty finish that will leaving you looking for a second sausage.

Fish & Chips? Lighten up with Pinot Grigio.

There’s nothing wrong with serving a crowd pleaser on a holiday. Lighten it up with a fresh Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling that cuts through the oils with citrus and mineral tones.

  • Our recommendation: Di Bruno’s 2008 Pinot Grigio

    Straight from our local Santa Rita Hills, this Pinot Grigio is fresh, bright and bold with forward citron and minerals and a strong finish.

Shepherd’s Pie? Hook a Shiraz.

This traditional meat pie made with beef mince and a crust of mashed potatoes may have started from humble beginnings, but today it graces the plate in many a pubs. If digging into this “formerly known as” cottage pie, try the bright fruit and spice of a Shiraz or Syrah to stand up to the crust.

  • Our recommendation: Mollydooker 2008 “The Boxer” Shiraz

    With 91 points from the Wine Spectator, this Shiraz offers a bright and jazzy cherry, pomegranate and spice flavors with strong aromas, density, but without the weight to balance even the heaviest of pies.

Potato Soup? Cool it off with a Chardonnay.

Soup for supper? Yes please! We recommend topping off the simplicity and sublime of traditional Irish potato soup with the butter and oak of a full bodied Chardonnay.

  • Our recommendation: Rombauer 2009 Chardonnay

    We tasted this in the shop at our special Fat Tuesday tasting the other day, and it was a definite crowd favorite. We recommend its rich palate of peach, apple and tropical fruit mixed with oak undertones to bring the brightness and butter to your dish.

Until next time wine fans…cheers!

Davina DaVino

Keep up with us on Facebook or meet up with us 3/17 at our St. Patty’s Day tasting!