Archive for August, 2008

Pinot Envy indeed!

August 20, 2008

Last night I had the opportunity to attend a New Zealand Pinot Noir tasting of Calvert Vineyard wines at The Jug Shop. Being a pinot-phile, and planning a trip to NZ next year, this was a terrific opportunity for me to hone my Pinot tasting skills.

NZ is pumping out some amazing Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs these days, and the Central Otago region, located on the southern end of the South Island has been cranking out some amazing examples.

The tasting offered three wines produced from the same vineyard, in a variety of styles, all from Calvert Vineyard. For you wine geeks, you can see a block map here.
Calvert Vineyard Block Plan

2006 Felton Road
This was the first wine we tasted, and right off the bat I tasted red fruit, cola, and cherry. It had an earthy backnote, with a hint of violets.

This was a fruit forward wine, and did not show immense oak.

2006 Pyramid Valley
This wine was ever so slightly different than the Felton Road, with it’s woody flavors and increased chewiness.

The difference was in the handling of the fruit, which was 100% destemmed and whole cluster fermented for 15 months in French Oak. This extra time in the oak added the texture and complexity.

2006 Craggy Range Calvert Vineyard
This is an example of an over extracted Pinot Noir done well; yes, it was a rich and bold wine, and not a delicate flower, but we all loved it and it clearly has a cult following if only 2 cases are imported in to the US.

These wines are difficult to find in the States, and I was happy to be able to take advantage of The Jug Shop’s tricky negotiation skills to taste these gems. I even left holding in my hot little hands, a promise of delivery for a three-pack of these treats. How could I ressit? With only 2 cases imported of the Craggy Range, it is an excellent opporutnity to do a horizontal tasting of some of the world’s hottest new growing regiosn.

Hey, if your wines were this good, woudln’t you keep them for yourselves? I know I would!


A Rosé By Any Other Name is…

August 15, 2008

A Cabernet! This is not your mother’s Rosé. You will not find any sweet pink punch here my Luscious Lushes.

Yes, it’s true. My favorite Rosé at last night’s Pretty in Pink tasting, hosted by my friends at Bottlenotes, was the 2004 Croze Vin d’Une Nuit, Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon.

This wine was a stunning deep rose red color, and really stood out from the lineup of 6 different Rosés. I found intense flavors of strawberry, blood oranges and pink grapefruit with a nice tang. I loved this rose because of its juicy red fruit flavor, but also because of its beautiful color. It was magic in the glass.

Croze gets its amazing color from Cabernet Sauvignon, which is an unusual variety to make rose with. This wine is made in a traditional French style, and the name Vin d’une Nuit means “wine of one night” because the the juice & skins are only soaked for a single day. This is what gives the Croze the amazing color and undertones of a big Cab. This wine is best enjoyed ice cold, since it releases more flavors and aromas as it warms in the glass.

I also particularly enjoyed the 2006 Pretty Sally Rosé, an Australian concoction that was also a deep pink color, although not as ruby as the Croze. The flavors exploded with raspberry & watermelon, with a tinge of strawberry.

Other wines that were being poured were:

The moral of this pink story? Go out and try some pink!

And speaking of Roses…

August 13, 2008

As I sit here and have my morning dose of Twitter, the illustrious Agent Red of The Wine Spies pointed out that their deal today is a delectable little number by Chandon. Since I do love my Blanc de Noirs, and pretty much anything with bubbles, I will have to give this one a try.

Which reminds me. This Thursday, August 14th (that’s tomorrow folks!) is Pretty in Pink at Jovino in San Francisco. Hosted by BottleNotes, this is your chance to taste some lovely Rosé wines paired with foods for the occasion! What are you waiting for? Sign up and join us!

For details, please click HERE!

Wine Blogging Wednesday #48, Back to our ROOTS!

August 13, 2008

It being the Olympics, when I think of Roots, I think of those silly berets they made us wear the last time around. That said, I was looking forward to this WBW because Lenn asked us to “get back to our roots”.

When first reading the theme, one might think I was going to go to the grocery store and stock up on Sutter Home White Zinfandel (and no Lenn, that is NOT really wine it is Cool Aid for mommies) or Almaden Chablis, but no! I strongly protest! For me, my roots are in Sonoma County.

Growing up in the Bay Area, my family would often take weekend drives up the coast, or in to Petaluma to look at the chickens. Yes, we city girls know what chickens look like. When I got older, I decided to go to college in Sonoma, since it was just far enough away from home for me to not kill my parents, but close enough to the city to have some fun.

That being said, I was first exposed to wine when working for Windsor Vineyards one summer. Granted, it was only in the office and was not terribly exciting since I was the receptionist in their corporate sales office, buy hey – we had weekly wine tastings! Since I wasn’t a huge drinker in college, this was eye opening for me. What better way to prompt the sales team to sell custom labels for corporate gifts than by getting them liquored up! Poor fools didn’t know what they were in for. Once I started drinking wine, I never stopped; as my parting gift at the end of the summer, they gave me a case of wine to go. Not bad!

When I moved back to the city, I was broke and making $10 an hour. Needless to say my habit for Long Island Ice Teas was not supported on such a meager income. I ask you, what can you do that is free, but allows you to enjoy the fruits of nature? Wine tasting of course! Thus began my weekly forays in to Sonoma Valley and Dry Creek Valley to imbibe in the good juice. In the 90s, Sonoma was still up and coming and no one, I mean NO ONE charged for tasting. Since my friends and I were all broke, there was nothing finer than a free glass of wine-a!

One of the first wineries that stole my heart was Peterson, nestled between Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley. Before it moved in to it’s current digs on Dry Creek Road, Peterson would occasionally open it’s barn doors and share it’s wine right out of the barn door. I instantly fell in love with it’s “I’m going to make wine my way and I don’t care” attitude, as well as the rich, jammy zinfandels Peterson produces. As a newly minted wine drinker, the full bodies and slightly sweet style of red wine is easy to love. Many of these wines lack some complexity, but are thoroughly enjoyable as sipping wines. Fortunately, as my palate matured, so did many of these wines. You can now find a vast array of complex, spicy, fruity wines all over the valley at every price point.

For this Wine Blogging Wednesday, I cracked open the 2004 Bernier Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. I had picked up this bottle a couple of weeks ago on a whim, since I hadn’t tasted Peterson’s zins in a while. Classic in it’s Dry Creek characteristics, there were tons of blackberry brambles kissed by Oak, with lush jammy flavors wafting up from my glass. This wine was purchased at the winery for $26 but can be found elsewhere for as little as $20.

While my current infatuation has been with Pinot Noir, my budget has been impacted by gas prices and I have had to curtail my wine spending a tad. It’s great to knwo that you can still pick up a decent bottle of zin for under $50!

Pretty in Pink

August 8, 2008

Summer is here (in some parts of the world) and the weather is heating up. This is particularly true in the East Bay, where I happen to spend my weekdays.

Some things I love about summer are:

  • -Peaches
  • -Tomatos warm from the sun off the vine
  • -BBQs
  • -and sitting outside on a warm afternoon, sipping a nice dry Rosé wine!

Since there are so many different types of Rosé, I have started to drink more to explore different territories. One of my strategies this year at Family Winemakers is to taste some new ones to add to my cellar list.

As it happens, my friends at Bottlenotes are hosting an event here in San Francisco next week all about Rosé. If you’re not familiar with Bottlenotes, they are an online wine club that you can customize to suit your tastes. Each time you recieve a wine, you can rate it, and you get future selections based on these. It’s kind of like your suggestions list on Amazon. Pretty cool!

Rosé wines and paired appetizers from the The Little Black Apron Cookbook (purchase from below)

will be served on Thursday, Thursday, August 14 at Jovino on Union.

Click here for details and to make reservations

See you there!

Bottle Shock REVIEW

August 7, 2008

Last night I was lucky enough (OK, so I paid) to attend the San Francisco premier of Bottle Shock as well as a modern day interpretation of the Judgment of Paris.

Prior to the screening, we convened at Crushpad to taste 5 chardonnays and 5 Cabernet blends, to see if the current results would match or best the original 1976 tasting. At the same time, i wanted to present myself with a personal challenge and see if I could (accurately) guess which wines being tasting were French, and which were from California.

First, my tasting results, as compared to the crowd’s popular vote at our recreation, and the results in 1976.

First, my results:

My Place Wine # Popular Vote Origin?
1st Wine 2 2nd France
2nd Wine 5
3rd Wine 4 1st CA
4th Wine 3
5th Wine 1 2nd tie CA

My Place Wine # Popular Vote Origin?
1st Wine 6 but it was a very close battle with my 2nd place winner 2nd CA
2nd Wine 10 1st CA
3rd Wine 7
4th Wine 9
5th Wine 8 3rd France

Now that you’re wonder what the hell these wines were, here are the actual bottles we tasted (and if they were tasted in ’76, where they placed:

Wine #


Crushpad Result

1976 Result


Wine 1

2005 Gustavo Thrace

2nd (tie)


Wine 2

2005 Girardin Meursault Charmes Du Dessus Premier Cru



Wine 3

2005 Puligny-Montrachet Clavillon Domaine Leflaive Premier Cru



Wine 4

2006 Chateau Montelena




Wine 5

2006 Freemark Abbey Winery





Wine #


Crushpad Result

1976 Result


Wine 6

2004 Freemark Abbey Winery Bosche Vineyard




Wine 7

2004 Chateau Mouton Rothschild



Wine 8

2004 Chateau Montrose



Wine 9

2004 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars SLV




Wine 10

2004 Ridge Monte Bello


So now that I’ve completely confused you – a question:
Are palates demographically and attuned? It it in our genes to like particular wines, or is it what wines we have been given as we are training our palates?

Now! On to the movie! First, let me tell you how important it is to be able to bring wine in to the movies, particularly if the movie is, well, about wine.

Fortunately, the Sundance Kabuki has a wine bar with balcony seating, that allows you to order wine and food for your enjoyment in the theater. You might think that this is sacrilege, but what better to go with a campy soap opera treatment of the wine wars than a nice glass of wine & a nibble? They have done a great job revamping this San Francisco institution, and include soft liek seating with cocktail tables every two seats int he balcony. For all this cozy atmosphere, you only pay $1.50 plus food, which brings the ticket price to $11.50. Doesn’t seem like much more than the Metreon if you ask me, and I’d pay that anytime. The wines by the glass could use a little help, but the food was quite tasty.

Bottle Shock needs to be viewed with a grain of salt. The producers were on hand to give us the backstory, as was Bo Barrett and Gustavo Brambila two of the main characters in the film.
I take this movie to be a reality TV show type spin on the true story of Chateau Montelana as well as Beau, his father Jim.

Telling the story of the 1976 Paris tasting requires a certain amount of camp treatment, and the producers were given creative license to…well…enhance their characters. What this amounts to is the portrayal of Bo as an ambition-less hippie at odds with his father. Yes, most of this is actually true, but the over the top performance of Chris Pine as Bo and Alan Rickman as British wine merchant Steven Sperrier just add to the hilarity.

My favorite moment in the movie was when Rickman takes a sip of the Montelena Chardonnay and makes a face as if he is eating dirt since he can’t believe that this California swill could possibly be a palatable solution to the French domination in the wine market.

Take it for what you will, part soap opera, part realty TV. I loved it, just as I loved Sideways and give it 5 Chardonnays.

To Infinity, and BEYOND!

August 6, 2008

The Wine Century Club was developed for all adventurous wine lovers. Have you tasted 100 different grape varietals? I know what you’re thinking: I drink a lot. A lot of wine. Surely I must be a charter member! But It’s not as easy as you might think.

The most common varietals are some variation on the Big Six:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot (does anyone actually drink this stuff?)
  • Pinot Noir
  • Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Riesling

The Wine Century Club is made up of people that enjoy tasting new wines, and have an adventerous streak. Sounds like me! With Family Winemakers coming up, and the Wine Bloggers Conference shortly thereafter, what better way to challenge myself to learn about new varietals.

Here is a challenge to all of you Luscious Lushes out there.
See if you too can earn one of these fancy certificates! My goal is to have it completed by the time Rhone Rangers rolls around next year.

Download the Century Club application here: