Posts Tagged ‘cabernet sauvignon’

Under the influence of the wine label? Guilty as charged.

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Orin Swift - PapillonOh go ahead and call the wine police. I’ll confess. Have I bought under the influence of the wine label? Yes sir, officer! Guilty as charged.

But, admit it. We’ve all done it. Sure we research the vintage tasting notes, read the reviews online, keep current on the industry trends, and mine feedback on our apps. But when you’re running late for that dinner party, you’ve left your phone in the car, and there isn’t a soul to ask for a recommendation, what does it come down to? That’s right…the label.

And really, what’s wrong with that?

Chonic Cellars - Sofa King BuenoAfter all, we taste with our eyes first. We swirl the wine, pontificate its color, its brilliance, its opacity, its legs. It’s our eyes that set the stage ripe with anticipation, setting the expectations of what will soon roll over our tongue. And yet, we discard the label as unimportant, a decoration, a distraction, a rookie mistake. Isn’t the label really our first taste of the vino goodness to come? And if it isn’t, shouldn’t it be?

Still not convinced? Consider some of our favorite wine labels in the shop.

 Orin Swift PapillonOrin Swift - The PrisonerOrin Swift - Saldo

Orin Swift
Strong, bold and arresting with layers of complexity in the storytelling. From Papillon’s hands of third generation Napa Valley grape grower and winemaker Vince Tofanelli to Saldo’s striking red and white label maker label, Orin Swift’s labels offer a visual amuse bouche of what awaits inside.




Herman Story - On the Road, Nuts & Bolts, and TomboyHerman Story
Fresh and forward, saturated, and yet, balanced, Herman Story’s labels reach out and grab you without even a line of front text. It’s pure experience: lush, vivid and focused. And just when you think you’ve got the blend of vineyards figured out, it slaps you with a barrage of words and smirk on the back label.



Owen Roe - Sinister HandOwen Roe - Yakima RedOwen Roe
Conversation starter and finisher. Owen Roe visually tempts your taste buds with a master blend of historical richness and salt of the earth earnestness, all delivered with a wink and a smile. Look no further than Owen Roe’s Sinister Hand label. Ominous yet tempting, it tells the tale of a rowing race won by a competitor slicing off his hand and tossing it on shore to be the first to touch, and ultimately become king. Determined, focused, arresting…or at the very least, a great party conversation starter.

Sans Liege - ProphetessSans Liege - GroundworkSans Liege - Cotes-Du-CoastSan Liege
Tasting this Thursday (5/12) at The Wine Closet with the winemaker himself!
Seductive, enrapturing and powerful, San Liege promises an “anthology of sensory travels” from first glance. A visual feast rich with layers of emotion, temptation and longing, San Liege’s labels deliver that first bite of the forbidden bottled inside.

And with that your honor, I rest my case and give it to the jury. What wine designs have caught your eye and tempted your palate?

Davina DaVino


Sipping and Grilling – Orin Swift Palermo

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

BBQ Pizza & WineThere’s no doubt. It’s good living in Santa Barbara County. Not only are we nestled with an ocean view in the mecca of some of the best vineyards and winemakers in the world, but we’ve got perfect BBQ weather practically all year long. Great grilling and good wine…how can you possibly beat that?

Yeah, you can’t.

Getting our Wine Grilling on - Palermo

Which is why, as an admitted BBQ addict, I’m constantly on the hunt for great grilling wines. One-course, flash-in-the-pans need not apply. I’m looking for a wine that sips pleasantly round the fire pit for cocktail conversation and yet holds its own when the hot topics get fired up at dinner. We’re talking that rare garnet gem of goodness that brings a balance between easy drinking for easy living and a bold attitude ready to stand up with something to say. It might just be Tuesday, but my grill is hot and I’m lining up the bottles for the weekend.

Orin Swift PalermoTop of my BBQ list this week goes to Orin Swift’s new 2009 Palermo Cabernet Sauvignon (90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot). If you’ve tasted Orin Switft’s The Prisoner , Saldo and Papillon, you know Palermo roars in with an impeccable pedigree and doesn’t disappoint. Gathered from Howell Mountain, Oakville, Rutherford, Saint Helena, and Spring Mountain grapes and aged 16 months in French Oak, Palermo brings to the table blend of the best for a full mouth coat and long finish. It pours dark garnet with a ruby rim and beautiful legs, and unfolds into a bold cherry nose, a perfect complement to a smoking Q. Inside the drink is a complex but silky balance of black raspberries, aged tobacco, and dark chocolate palate with aged oak undertones that blend beautifully with balsamic chicken or stand up to a steak. It lingers on the finish, and packs a punch with 15.5% ALC.

It might only be Tuesday, but I’ve got my Palermo on order and a tri tip in the fridge. Who says BBQing is just for the weekend?

Ready to do some grilling of your own? Swing by The Wine Closet for our Thursday Night Sippin’ and Grillin’ 5-wine flight, and get a taste of Orin Swift’s Palermo.


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

Babcock Wine Tasting 4/8/10

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Babcock Vineyards Wine Tasting this Thursday, 4/8 from 6-9pm. Fine Santa Ynez wines and appetizers $15/pp. Wines we’re tasting are the new releases of Identity Crisis Syrah (white), Naughty Little Hillsides Pinot Gris, Rita’s Earth Pinot Noir, Grand Cuvee Pinot Noir and Classic Rock Cabernet Sauvignon.

St. Patricks Day Party, RiverStar Vineyards, Friday Night Flights

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

We’re starting the week off early on Wednesday with a St Patty’s Day Celebration starting at 5:00pm with $5 Guiness, $5 O’Rielly wines (from David O’Rielly of Owen Roe wines and traditional Irish grub until 9:00pm. Note: nothing you’ll consume will be green, I promise, but please feel free to wear some green if you please.

This Thursday, 3/18 RiverStar Vineyards of Paso Robles will be visiting and educating us on their lineup of small production wines that are packed with flavor. I’m always in search of those small, family owned and operated wineries who made fab wines for everyday drinking – in other words, RiverStar is great wine that fits nicely into anyones budget.

Come out and taste for yourself 5 RiverStar wines and appetizers for $15, 3/18 between 6-9pm.

Flight night Friday from 5:00-9:00pm. Enjoy a different flight every Friday night for only $10. Pair with a cheese plate for $7 more. This Friday Night Flight (3/19): Santa Barbara County.

Remember, whomever comes to the most flight nights from now until May 31st will get a FREE seat on our Santa Rita Hills Wine Country tour in early June – dates yet to be determined, but let me know if you’re interested & I’ll put you on the list!

To view upcoming tasting events, visit us at

New Items:
Plumpjack Cabernet
Owen Roe Ex Umbris
Carina Cellars
McPrice Myers Kristina & Les

Looking for a great venue to have a private party? The Wine Closet can be yours for a night for groups of 25 or less. Call Linda for details 805.746.5708.

Pick up a bottle of wine from The Wine Wine Closet to enjoy with dinner at JJ Brewsky’s, Verona Trattoria or D’Amore’s Pizza and enjoy free corkage! Great wine deserves great food!

Check out our entire selection of wine online at

Retail store hours: Tues & Weds 11-7pm, Thurs & Fri 11-9pm, Saturday 11-7pm, Closed Sunday & Monday (for now).

We look forward to seeing you here.

Linda & Rob
The Wine Closet
Old Town Camarillo
2423 Ventura Boulevard

Day 3 Tahoe Food and Wine Report via Sonoma and Napa

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Courtesy of Mark Johnson who recently toured Sonoma, Napa and Lake Tahoe with his wife Kathie for a food and wine vacation.

Here’s Day 3 for your reading enjoyment :-)


We packed up early and hit the road to Tahoe, but of course we had to do a brief detour to Napa along the way. The Sonoma area fog gave way to a beautiful, blue sky morning in Napa Valley. We stopped first at the Mondavi’s new project called Folio . They were pouring several of their brands (Oberon, Spellbound, Medusa, Emblem) ranging in price form $20 -$70. They were just OK — at best. Not worth the stop. Next we went to Robert Biale Now we’re talking! We had 4 great Zins, a big Syrah and a fantastic extended barrel age Petite Sirah. They do it right. A short hop away we stopped at Darioush so we could nibble on their imported Persian pistachios while tasting. What a beautiful tasting room and an extremely profession tasting staff. We tried the 2007 Chardonnay (very good), the 2008 Viognier (tasty but too sweet for us), a 2006 Merlot (not bad), and the 2006 Cabernet (excellent). After a bit of schmoozing I got him to open the 2006 Cabernet Franc (very nice). So we bought some wine and pistachios to go. Great stuff, plus he waived the $25 tasting fee. We decided it was then time to finish on a high note and hit the long road to Tahoe.

Dinner tonight was at Kalani’s, a Pacific rim/Asian fusion restaurant. We have had some great meals here and some disappointing ones. Tonight fell flat. Other than a tasty appetizer of tempura crusted ahi bits with a teriyaki and eel sauce, all other items were uninspired, not even worth writing about. Thank God we brought a great wine, the 2006 Ramey “Ritchie” Chardonnay Big, viscous, buttery and like the Benovia, enough acid to keep it all in balance.

Check out day 4 tomorrow!

Day 2 Sonoma Food and Wine Report

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

This Sonoma Food & Wine Report is courtesy of my dear friend Mark Johnson, who took is lovely wife, Kathie Johnson on a food and wine vacation through Sonoma and Lake Tahoe.  Following is Mark’s review of the restaurants and wines they sampled on Day 2…


The next morning we went back to Carneros Bistro for breakfast. Great coffee! They are really into the Locavore thing so most of the meats and produce are sourced locally. The house-made pico de gallo was great as was the thick cut bacon. The local sausage though was very blah. Fortified, we headed off to our first wine tasting appointment at Sojourn, just off the square in Sonoma. It’s a nice set up, you sit down at a table in a small living room and they poured 4 different 2008 Pinots and 3 Cabernets. 3 of the pinots were excellent, but we liked only one of the Cabs. Still, much better odds than most wineries. Definitely visit if you get the chance.

Our next appointment was with Kamen, a very small producer of premium Cabernet and Syrah. This turned out to be a great tasting! At first he said we could open one wine and perhaps barrel taste one. However, after a bit of chatting while sipping their 2006 Cabernet ($75 and it will beat most Napa Cabs at twice the price) he also opened their very small production Syrah (80 cases, $70) and it was fantastic. We also tasted multiple barrel samples of future Cabs, Cab cuvees, and Syrah.

All other tastings were downhill from there:

Tin Barn boring

Anaba OK, but simple and basic

Schug watery and just bad

Charles Creek forgettable

Roessler surprisingly blah – and expensive

Eric James yuuuuk!

So we stopped tasting and did a bit of shopping. Just off the Square I came across this tiny food shop, maybe 200 square feet, called La Bodega It is an unusual little spot but the proprietor Rick Vargas is absolutely passionate about freshly foraged wild mushrooms and hand-made ravioli. We discussed for a while his different ravioli options, mail-order shipping, etc. As we were getting ready to leave he asked if we could stay a just moment and he would make us each a special ravioli. A few minutes later he presented us with a personally made wild mushroom (Black trumpet) ravioli drizzled with imported olive oil. It was sublime. I will definitely be contacting Rick in preparation for my next dinner party.

Finally we went back to our cozy cottage to relax, and I made Margaritas to “facilitate” the moment. Using blanco Tequila, fresh squeezed Meyer lemons (instead of lime juice), agave syrup, and a hint of Tuaca I made perhaps my best ever Margarita – perfecto!

We had reservations that night at Meritage Restaurant, in Sonoma, but over the cocktails we kept reminiscing about our great meal the night before, so we cancelled Meritage and booked a table back at Carneros Bistro — and once again we were not disappointed. First we opened a bottle of Ramey 2006 “Annum” Cabernet . This is their “best barrels” blend, and it is very good. Big, robust, and marvelous complexity. As for appetizers we succumbed to the siren call of the seductive crab dip again (YUM), and we tried something new: risotto fritters with a panko crust and truffle aioli. It was pretty good, but overall not that exciting.

Food service tonight from our friendly waitress was lightning speed compared to the previous evening and our entrees arrived quickly. Kathie had Sonoma duck confit & housemade duck sausage cassoulet. It was outstanding! Crispy skin duck, savory sausage, and tender beans all covered in a porcini and breadcrumb crust. I had the evenings special: a kobe/wagyu beef filet and a braised boneless short rib. The short rib was falling apart and had a red wine or port sauce (?), it was very good. The kobe was not as tender as I had expected, but it was quite flavorful, especially when dipped in the savory dark amber French onion “soup” mousse that came with the dish. We returned to our cottage quite sated.