Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Sundays Sherry Master Class with Javier Hidalgo at Copia:

Just a quick note: Champaign and Sherry, i.e.: Jerez--A World of Blending and Style Unto Their Own!

From Left to right: GRAPHICS

1.) Hidalgo-La Gitana NV Manzanilla - $12.00 / 500ml. 15% abv.
La Manzanilla is a dry wine and the lightest and most delicate Jerez region and can only be made in the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda set at the mouth of the River Guadalquivir. The position of the town, set between the sea and the river and the marshlands to the north, combines with the particular topography of the town itself to create an especially humid and constant microclimate. These conditions allow a special growth of yeast, (the Flor), it grows on the surface of the maturing wine forming a mat or sponge if you will. This mat, (the Flor), protects the wine from the detrimental effects of oxygen. Elsewhere in the Jerez, Xeres and Sherry district, the flor dies off in the summer and winter months the resulting sherries are called Fino sherry instead.

Due to the uniqueness of the Flor and this wine Manzanilla has its own 'Denominación de Origen', (D.O.) Manzanilla -Sanlúcar de Barrameda, set within the Sherry Denomination.
This Manzanilla is sold under the name of 'LA GITANA' , or Gypsy Girl which was originally painted for the firm by Joaquín Turina, father of the famous composer of the same name. The 'La Gitana' is said to be the most popular Manzanilla in Span–"is now the best selling wine in Seville, too!"

My notes: (87pts.)--Brilliant, colorless exuberant wine showing light ribbon legs; pronounced aromas of sea spray, spice and aldehyde, apple and nuts; light, crisp, fresh and dry–leaving a boisterous saltiness on the edges of your tongue as it finishes long and concentrated.
This is an excellent wine to drink on a warm summers day. Drink it very chilled, although this will impede aromas and flavors–think like vodka or ouzo shots, maybe! But the Gypsy Girl wine you can drink all day long and into the warm Metatheria night and remember the effects are immediate!

This is the classic example of Manzanilla wine. Its fresh and delicate taste will take your mind to Andalucía where horses are raced down the beach and the rest of the day is spent partying and consuming copious amounts of this delightful beverage.

2.) Hidalgo Pastrana NV Manzanilla Pasada - $22.00 / 7500ml. 15.5% abv.
The 'Manzanilla Pasada' is an aged Manzanilla with the typical freshness and delicate fragrance of this unique wine but with slightly more body and character than its younger version: ‘gitana’. The flor is still key to the success of thsi win, though.

My notes: (85pts.)--Brilliant, light mahogany, exuberant showing medium legs; pronounced aromas of Sea Spray, brined citrus; fresh, lively, light; intense on a finish that’s long clean and balanced.

3.) Hidalgo-La Gitana NV Amontillado, Nepolian, Sanlucar de Barrameda - $19.00 / 750ml. 18% abv.

This is a rare Sherry of very great age. The solera system from which it comes is older than the firm itself (over two centuries) and through this time a thick sediment has formed on the bottom of each cask known as 'La Madre' (the mother), which takes many years to form. This is what gives the Sherry its special quality and exceptional smoothness.

My notes: (89pts.)--Brilliant medium amber with a bright liveliness and medium to powerful legs; pungent, fruity, herbaceous, spice–vanilla, nutty, hazelnut, walnut, briny, iodine, caramel; ultra dry, smooth full bodied texture; persistent, long harmonious and intricately complex–hardy to say the least!

It is said that this wine is much appreciated by connoisseurs as an ideal aperitif and goes excellently with well flavored delicacies–like game, snipe, pheasant and duck--venison, too.

4.) Hidalgo-La Gitana NV Oloroso, Especial, Sanlucar be Barrameda - $19.00 / 750ml. 18% abv.
A classic sherry; dark with a full rich sweet flavor obtained from its blend of old Oloroso sherry and Pedro Ximénez, the sweetening wine. Often served as an aperitif it also serves well as a dessert wine. Served at room temperature.

My notes: (89pts.)--Brilliant, vivid medium amber with moderate legs; pronounced aromas of smoke, apple, wood, nutty sweet caramel; tannins came into play–smooth, rich body a touch of bitter chocolate; long persistent intensely potent dry masculine finish.

5.) Hidalgo-La Gitana NV Crean Nepolian Sanlucar de Barrameda - $13.00 / 750ml. 17% abv.
A similar style to Oloroso Seco, but sweeter and darker that comes from the blending of the sweet Pedro Ximénez Sherry with the Oloroso to create a very smooth flavor.
Ninty minutes of informative and very entreating information about this little understood wine. Albeit a fortified wine runs the gauntlet bit from bone dry to massively layered superbly plumbed depth of near luscious liquid adult candy!

My notes: (87pts)--Brilliant, deep tawny amber almost brown–bright and lively with powerful legs; pronounced aromas of dried fruit, raisin, aromatic, cigar, vanilla, nutty caramel, sweet burnt coffee; dry, rich lingering, ethereal, concentrated, complex, well developed rich, clean and smooth. It’s like sun dried vanilla beans maybe!

My thanks to the staff of Copia and especial all the great stories, and the way more than informative talk given by Javier Hidalgo. And thanks, too the many workers and growers in South of Spain whom helped create these wonderful wines.

An intrinsic weekend--a marvelous journey via the wines of truly wonderful and unique part of the world.

I see another series coming out of my keyboard!

The next article in the searies will be about the Four Course - Four Sherry Paring Dinner: A Taste of Hidalgo, Julia’s Kitchen at Copia.

Monday, April 04, 2005

SIDEWAYS -- Pick It Up Tomorrow, I Am :)

Should be stores in your neighborhood tomorrow, or by the end of the week.

How The Whom Saved The World’s Vineyards

A new book is out and I missed picking a copy up yesterday–hum? Non-the-less by what I could glean from the back dust cover:


In the mid-1860s, grapevines in southeastern France inexplicably began to wither and die. French botanist Jules-Émile Planchon was sent to investigate. Magnifying glass in hand, he discovered that the vine roots were covered in microscopic yellow insects. The aphids would be named Phylloxera vastatrix—"the dry leaf devastator."Where they had come from was a mystery.
Soon the noblest vineyards in Europe and California came under biological siege. No one could slow phylloxera’s maddening, destructive pace. The French government offered a prize of three hundred thousand gold francs for a remedy, and increasingly bizarre suggestions flooded in. Planchon believed he had the answer and set out to convince the skeptical wine-making and scientific establishments. Aided by the American entomologist Charles Valentine Riley and a decade of research into the strange life history of the insect, Planchon at long last proved that the remedy rested within the vines themselves.

The Botanist and the Vintner is an astonishing account of one of the earliest and most successful applications of science to an ecological disaster. And even now, the story continues as new strains of phylloxera attack vineyards in France, California, and New Zealand.

And this from WINE SPECTATOR: Christy Campbell, a British writer and journalist recounts the onslaught of phylloxera and how vintners responded. This generally well-written and laboriously researched book also shows the durability of human folly, how far science has advanced, and how much still needs to be done. It serves as a fascinating case study of how an ecological disaster was successfully addressed by the nascent industrial/scientific complex of the European West, with consequences that echo to this day.

The story of phylloxera is not over, and the bug will present challenges again to the world's vintners. Campbell writes that there have been laboratory experiments indicating that even berlandieri rootstocks may now be susceptible to phylloxera. He cites genetic engineering as a promising research direction for producing the next generation of phylloxera-resistant rootstocks, perhaps even delivering an own-rooted and resistant Vitis vinifera. That could spell a new quality revolution in world wine production, given that own-rooted vines are often cited as providing deeper and more long-lived flavors. As for the vines themselves, grafted vines have a shorter productive life than ungrafted ones.

Once again, however, the world of science and politics seems destined to collide. California's Mendocino County has already passed a local ordinance outlawing the planting of transgenic crops. There are moves afoot in other winegrowing regions to outlaw the planting of genetically modified grapevines. Phylloxera is not the only problem facing Vitis vinifera--it is prone to many other diseases that can require expensive solutions such as the use of chemicals or even replanting. In the end, the story of the The Botanist and The Vintner is rooted in the story of one tenacious aphid and Vitis vinifera's weakness in the face of its depredations. If you want reference as to how we got where we are, Campbell's book is a must-read, for academic and layman alike.

Looks interesting--I’ll check it out further and let you know!

The Botanist and the Vintner--How Wine Was Saved for the World, by Christy Campbell (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill; 320 pages; $24.95 hardcover)--16.47 Amazon, 15.80 Overstock.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

J. Lohr 2003, Arroyo Secco Chardonnay

J. Lohr 2003, Arroyo Secco Chardonnay: $22.00, (86-87pts.)--Brilliant, lively, deep straw yellow in color distinctly showing great legs; pronounced aromas of citrus, apple, apricit, fig, spice, vanilla, toasted nuts; refreshing acidity, fine off dry, solid structure, ample body; finishes crisp, long and persistent warm butter, layered complexities. Good for the next couple years I figure. 5.000 cases made.
Enjoyed this refreshingly taste wine with herb roast chicken and some good ole’ potato salad–hello spring time! :)

About J. Lohr:
In the late 1960’s, Jerry Lohr began an extensive investigation of grape growing regions throughout California. As a result of his farming background, he has always understood and respected the importance of soil quality, climate and location, which led him to California’s Central Coast region. In 1972 and 1973, he planted 280 acres of wine grapes in the Arroyo Seco appellation of Monterey County, and in 1974 completed his winery in San Jose. In 1988 property near Paso Robles was purchased, now encompassing 2,000 acres of vineyards, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other red varietals, and an adjacent winery and barrel facility was built. Also in 1988 Jerry began expansion of his vineyards in the Arroyo Seco, which now includes 900 acres of Chardonnay and other cool climate varietals such as Riesling, Pinot Blanc, and Valdiguié.

By the late 1970’s, J. Lohr wines were distributed throughout the United States, and in the late 1980’s an international sales department was added. Today the J. Lohr products are available throughout the United States and in more than 25 countries worldwide.

The goal of J. Lohr brands is to produce varietals that can compete with the finest in the world, using a style that focuses on flavor and complexity through vineyard selection, technology and innovation. This goal has led Jerry Lohr and his team to develop three tiers of wines produced from estate vineyards – J. Lohr Cuvée Series, J. Lohr Vineyard Series and J. Lohr Estates. In addition J.Lohr Winery produces three tiers of wines to meet the needs of everyday and entry-level wine consumption - Crosspoint Vineyards, Cypress and Painter Bridge.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

A Bordeaux Chateau Cuts Prices In Half!

Nice thought especially with our dollar slipping lower and lower every week.

I picked up thid article off the decanter.com wire last evening and though you folks might like to read it. It’s by Adam Lechmere, dated April 1, 2005, titled "Valandraud first out of the traps - at half the price"

Maybe it’s just an April fools joke, too?

Chateau Valandraud in St Emilion is one of the first Bordeaux properties to release its 2004 vintage – at half the price of the 2003.

Proprietor Jean-Luc Thunevin has set a price of €85, down from €165.00 for the 2003 last year.

The news has been greeted very positively by merchants. Stephen Browett of London's Farr Vintners said it sent out a 'clear message' to the rest of Bordeaux that this was a vintage that had to be reasonably priced.

'It's very encouraging as it sends a clear message to other chateaux that we have returned to a traditional vintage, with plenty of quantity. The only way that it can be sold is by pricing it to appeal to traditional customers, and not the people who bought exceptional vintages like 2000 and 2003.'

As commentators get their first taste of the 2004 ahead of next week's En Primeur tastings in Bordeaux, the feeling is that the vintage is akin to 1996 – good but not outstanding.
Browett said, 'If we can sell them at between 30% and 40% less than last year, then we will be able to recommend them and have a successful campaign.'

Friday, April 01, 2005

Chateau Montelena 2001, Cabernet Estate

Last weekend, I think it was, I had the occasion to share a bottle of this wine with friends. I was very interested in experiencing a near middle aged infamous Napa Cabernet. We spent a couple of hours with the wine tasting it freshly opened and at different times during our meeting. Decanting would have been interesting–I tried it in three different glass styles at different intervals: best early and late nose "Le Tester" bloomed rapidly in the big "Riedel’s Sommelier’s Bordeaux Grand Cru" stem.

Chateau Montelena 2001, Cabernet Estate: $114.99, (89-90)–Brilliant dark ruby in color; powerful aromas of berry, cassis, cherry, plum, green herb, spice and leather light vanila and oak hint of coffee; smooth, dry, balanced, moderately complex finish lingers nicely. Would like to taste this in like 2012, it’s heading for slumber now I think.

At Chateau Montelena wine making is regarded as a continuous process that begins in the vineyard. That is why they use the term "wine growing." The distinct characteristics of their vineyards - earth, air, sun and water - create some of, what is claimed to be, the finest wine grapes in the world.

Winemaker's Notes:
Conditions that give low yields often contribute to the production of superb wines. The 2001 vintage is testament to this phenomenon. Frost damage early in the year followed by excessive heat during flowering set the stage for a small crop, while consistently temperate weather during the growing season yielded beautifully balanced grapes with ripe, complex flavors.
An unseasonably warm March accelerated bud break just in time for a cold, wet April: prime time for frost conditions that damaged some of the new buds. During the critical flowering in May we experienced several days over 100º, causing ‘shattering’ in a few of the Cabernet blocks.

Fortunately the weather during the rest of the growing season was mild with consistently moderate temperatures ensuring a long ripening period and excellent, complex flavor development. The crop’s perfect ripeness was evident in the grapes’ fully mature skin tannin, tell-tale brown seeds, and delicious fruit flavors. Waiting for each block to achieve optimal maturity before picking, we harvested Cabernet on our Estate over an unusually long 5 weeks.

Vintage Weather:
Temperate Consistent. Well below average rainfall. Frost damage followed by high heat in May that caused some shatter kept yields low. Remainder of season was mild and grapes attained full maturity before picking. Started night picking to increase fruit integrity. Wines are very rich, well-balanced, and full.

Product Information:
Company: Chateau Montelena Winery Visit Chateau Montelena Winery Website
Vintage: 2001
Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
Country: USA
Region: California, Napa Valley
Release Price: $125

Technical Data:
Harvest Dates: Sept. 4 to Oct. 12
Bottling Date: August 2003
Release Date: March 2005
Cases Produced: 8000
Time in Oak: 18 to 20 months
Sugar at Harvest: 22.7º to 25.2º brix

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

What’s Happening At Copia This Weekend–April 3rd:

Master Class: Sherry with Javier Hidalgo @ Copia

Sunday, April 3
2:00 - 3:30 pm
Talk and tasting
$35 (includes day pass)/$25 member
Javier Hidalgo is the sixth-generation owner and operator of Bodegas Hidalgo-La Gitana, one of the last family-owned wineries in the heart of Spain’s sherry country. Join Javier as we learn about this unique region’s 4,000 year history and taste the incredible wines of Hidalgo-La Gitana with complementary nibbles.

Later, join Javier Hidalgo and Executive Chef Victor Scargle of Julia’s Kitchen for a Four-Course Dinner Paired with Hidalgo-La Gitana Artisan Sherries

Sunday, April 3
5:30 - 9:00 pm
$60 per person. Menu TBD. For more information and reservations, please call Julia’s Kitchen at 707.265.5700.

AvenueVine as Advisory in Holiday Gifts

In an article including one of the many wineries reviewed by AvenueVine we have been directly referenced to, i.e.: inserted straight into the text--used in an advisory status–in a recent publication: "Find a Special Wine", in Holiday Gifts.

"This [reviewer] headed out for the California foothills and found a great little winery. If you're looking for a birthday gift or holiday gift, a trip to the wineries is a great adventure. A bottle of wine from your trip makes a great gift, too."

The article referred to the recent March 27th, 2005 articel "PERRY CREEK WINES."
And I’ll take this opportunity to thank the author, as there is no connect from the site, and tell them how interesting their site is, too! To check it out go here:
Holiday Gifts

Helping you find holiday gifts or birthday gifts for the special people in your life.

"Find a Special Wine" March 27, 2005

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Kim Crawford 2004, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

What to have, with let alone what to make, for Easter dinner? There’s always risotto in the pantry–I had plenty of good stock from a few days back. A whole chicken would suffice even if family dropped by unexpectedly. And the market has been just flooded with asparagus lately.

I’d picked up a few bottles of the Kim Crawford 2004, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc a couple of months ago when it was on sale, and just figured: hey! This would be the right time and the right meal to try some this wine!

Wallah! Easter dinner handled.

Kim Crawford 2004, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc: $13.69, (90-92)–Vividly brilliant pale green straw; pronounced aromas of gooseberry, passion fruit, herb--prairie sweet grass and peppery spice; great texture soft filling mouth feel–the berry and herb carry through to a crisp lengthy finish. This is an incredibly well balanced wine. A real pleasure enjoying a very good Sauvignon Blanc form New Zealand to say the least!

KC bottle pic:

Additional comments from my tasting sheet/notes: refreshing, fine, full, supple, powerful–have this now enjoy it in its’ youth! Generous, BALANCED, pure, wonderful–builds and stays on pleasantly--refreshing--awakens the palate at every moment!

Good to 2009; WINE SPECTATOR MAGAZINE, #44 TOP 100 of 2004, SMART BUY, 12/1/04, too!

Suggested parings: A great aperitif; ideally suited to asparagus, oysters and summer salads. We enjoyed the Kim Crawford 2004, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with a miso roasted chicken, wild mushroom risotto, and blanched asparagus–the wine played well with every bite! :)

I’ll tell you about desert another time--hints: raspberries, ricotta, cream, cake, orange liquor–shaved chocolate and a decades old late harvest Riesling.

Product Information:
Company: Kim Crawford Wines, Ltd.
Vintage: 2004
Type: Sauvignon Blanc
Country: New Zealand
Region: Marlborough

Brix: 22.5
Titratrable Acidity: 9.1 g/l
pH: 3.35

: 13%
Titratrable Acidity: 7.5 g/l
pH: 3.6
Residual Sugar: 4 g/l

More about the wine from Kim Crawford:
Selected from various low yielding vineyards in the Wairau, Brancott, Waihoepai and Awatere valleys, these Sauvignon Blanc grapes were machine harvested and protectively handled. After juice clarification the wine was inoculated with pure, aromatic yeast strains and cool fermented. Once dry the wine was stabilized, filtered and bottled.

"We are committed to continually improving wine quality and have sealed this wine with a screw cap. This ensures cork taint is eliminated, oxidation is minimized and that the wine arrives as we intended."

Here’s a bit about Kim Crawford:

Kim Crawford – Winemaker: It may be hard to imagine it, but there was a time when Kim Crawford had no ambitions to become a winemaker.

Kim grew up on a farm in the Waikato region of New Zealand’s North Island . The Waikato is a fertile stretch of country but it’s not one of New Zealand’s great grape-growing areas. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find many vineyards in it’s rolling green meadowlands, which are much more celebrated for their dairy products than their wine.
Kim left the farm to study Microbiology and Botany at Massey University. He graduated with a B.Sc. in 1983 and, like many a new graduate, found himself wondering how to make use of his education in carving-out an interesting career. It was at this point that one of Kim’s lecturers came up with the inspired suggestion that he take a look at New Zealand’s infant wine industry. The rest, as they say, is history.

"It was a revolutionary time for New Zealand winemaking. New varieties – Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Chardonnay – were being planted. The potential was certainly there to be able to make something other than sherry, even though few would have guessed at the full extent of the progress our industry has since made," recalls Kim.

A postgraduate diploma in winemaking from Australasia’s most celebrated school for upcoming winemakers, Roseworthy College in South Australia, was followed for Kim by work experience with Australian, Californian and South African wine producers.

Returning to New Zealand in 1988, Kim joined the team at Coopers Creek winery as assistant winemaker. Taking over as winemaker a year later, he helped propel the Auckland vineyard into the top bracket of New Zealand labels. Meanwhile, he also worked as a consultant winemaker with a number of smaller wineries in the South Island’s famed Marlborough region. The experience stood him in good stead when, in 1996, he produced the first wine under the Kim Crawford label.

Kim’s objective has always been unwaveringly simple and straightforward. It is to produce and present under one label the very best wines from every grape variety and every premium wine-growing region in New Zealand.

He prefers to source his grapes from small, select vineyards, where, he believes, the best vines are to be found. Wine lovers can judge the good sense of this approach whenever they sample Kim’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Hawke’s Bay Te Awanga Merlot or Gisborne Tietjen Chardonnay.

Kim’s winemaking philosophy is equally straightforward: "With every wine I make, I aim to let the natural flavour of the grape flow through into the final product. New Zealand grapes benefit from a natural fruitiness. My role as winemaker is to make sure that this succulence and richness is abundantly present in the wine you pour from the bottle," he says.

"Winemaking isn’t a desk job. It’s a hands-on profession and you need to be involved at every stage of production – from the vine right through to the bottling line. In my experience, premium wines tend to be made from grapes which have been sampled and re-sampled whilst still on the vine.

"The modern wine industry’s emphasis on technology has undoubtedly brought great benefits. However, winemaking is just as much an art as a science and a wine can certainly benefit if the winemaker’s personality is present and discernable in the final product. There really is no reason why "New World" wines should suffer from uniformity.

"I certainly aim to produce wines with a distinctive character and a natural, uncluttered taste. All the signs are that such wines are readily appreciated by an increasingly discerning wine-drinking public," Kim adds.

The Kim Crawford label is now well-recognised in some of the world’s most sophisticated markets. In some senses, Kim has travelled a long way from his rural boyhood. But pulling on his boots and tramping round the vineyard is still central to his role. And he cherishes the days he gets to spend with his own children on the family farm in the green Waikato.

Monday, March 28, 2005

AvenueVine Mentioned In Software Only

AvenueVine was mentioned in a recent article by Jeff Clavier, who rounded up some of the best resources for food and wine on the Internet. AvenueVine was kindly mentioned along with several other fellow information sites on the web as another mainstream media outlet–it’s really nice when folks speak kindly of your work! Check it out here:

Software Only
"It's the Software, Stupid"
Musings of a software developer/entrepreneur/senior executive/venture

"Wine online: sites, tools, blogs and podcasts"
March 07, 2005 - an article by Jeff Clavier

Sunday, March 27, 2005


Recently I had the chance to taste a few of Perry Creeks wines. The estate winery is up in the Sierra foothills south of a town called Placerville, (Hang Town–Old Dry Diggins), in El Dorado County–down in the iron clay and garnet soils of the Cosumnes River drainage.
It’s a long twisty ride out to the winery from Sacramento, CA, but this time of year the country side is all green and the wild flowers are out in force–lots of manzanita and digger pines to look at–live oaks, too.

A Few of the wines I tasted:

Perry Creek 2001 Merlot, Estate Bottled: $14.00-10.99–(82) Hazy pale red in color and intensity; mild aromas of raspberry, prune and a hit on over ripe cherry and a hint of oak; off dry, low acidity, light tannins and body with a balanced short and simple finish. Through 2006.
Perry Creek 2002 Viognier, Estate Bottled, El Dorado: $15.00-10.99–(83) Clear, light straw medium in color and depth; moderate aromas of citrus, apple, peach and pear, very light vanilla, oak; dry with moderate acidity, medium bodied, finishing moderately long and complex. A very refreshing Viognier! SILVER MEDAL WINNER--SF Chronicle 2005

Perry Creek 2002, Chardonnay, El Dorado–Apple Hill: $14.00-10.99–(83) Brilliant straw color of medium intensity; moderate aromas of citrus--lemon, apple and pear, buttery hazelnut sweet vanilla oak,; low acidity almost off dry to sweet, unbalanced, medium bodied, moderately complex but short on the finish. It’s a mouth full while it lasts! Drink now. SILVER MEDAL WINNER--SF Chronicle 2005

Perry Creek 2002 ZinMan-Zinfandel, Sierra Foothills: $14.00-10.99–(81) Brilliant dark ruby reb; faint aromas of raspberry, cherry, floral, spice and oak; dry with medium acidity, smooth tannins, full bodied, balanced with a long moderately complex finish. Good through 2007. GOLD MEDAL WINNER--New World Intl. Wine Competition 2005

Perry Creek 2001 Syrah, Estate Bottled: $15.00-10.99–(78) Clear medium purple; moderate aromas of berry and plum, earth, leather, very light vanilla oak; low acidity, off dry, light tannins, light bodied, short and simple finish. Drink now.

Although I did not get a chance to taste their Estate Muscat–nor were they serving any of their "premium wines, i.e.: Perry Creek Port, Mistelle Rouge, Cellar Select Cabernet Sauvignon, Cellar Select Zinfandel, Select Petite Sirah or their ‘01 Cabernet Sauvignon. Even so I don’t think it would be worth the trip all the way up there just to add these to a review. They do have cool labels, though.

Happy Easter–Folks! :)

What Perry Creek Has to Say:
Entrepreneur Michael Chazen was traveling from Beverly Hills to Nevada for a Rodeo when he found himself lost in the little town of Fair Play. Fair Play is nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range in El Dorado County. Michael was quite taken by the area’s charm and saw a "For Sale" sign on a piece of property and immediately called the real estate office. The realtor showed him a beautiful 155-acre estate and Perry Creek Vineyards was born. Founded in 1989, our winery, and surrounding vineyards encompass 155 acres of pure, rural beauty. Perry Creek Vineyards is now an established and leading producer in the newly designated Fair Play AVA.

At an elevation of 2,400 feet, our winery and estate vineyard is located on a ridge-top above the middle fork of the Consumnes River. The town of Fair Play is approximately 12 miles North of Plymouth-Amador County. Some of our neighbors that you may be familiar with are Montevina, Renwood, Boeger, and Lava Cap. Rombauer, a well-known Napa winery has sourced fruit form El Dorado County as well.

Our vineyard experiences warm, sun filled days and cool evenings with a constant breeze flowing from the valley below. Summer daytime temperatures compare to Oakville (in the center of Napa Valley) and we are cooler than St. Helena and Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma. These conditions are ideal for the grapes and contribute to the intense and unique flavors of our wines. Our vineyard contains many nooks and crannies that create unique microclimates. We have 70 acres planted that are bearing fruit and our average yield is 3-4 tons per acre. We strive to match the "right grape with the right place." When well matched this terroir provides an ideal location for ultra premium grapes.

Currently, we produce several proprietary and vineyard-designate wines. Our signature wine is ZinMan® Zinfandel. We also produce several Rhone and Bordeaux varietals along with Muscat Canelli and Chardonnay.

Perry Creek Vineyards offers comfortable and relaxed first-rate hospitality for visitors. Our tasting room is open daily from 11-5pm except for major holidays. Our tasting room opens to a spacious outdoor verandah picnic area. Come and visit our new Library / Reserve room for a little taste of Perry Creek's past. Check our events page for more details. Shoppers will love the unique gift shop items.

More About The People Behinf Perry Creek:
Michael Chazen is Perry Creek Vineyards owner. We operate a very hands-on winery, are passionate about our craft, and want to ensure that our customers receive the absolute highest quality product we are capable of producing.

One of the few female winemakers in the Sierra Nevada foothills, Nancy Steel is an accomplished winemaker with 20 years of experience. Nancy’s approach is very "hands-on," and her expertise, winemaking style, and dedication has led to many award-winning wines at Perry Creek Vineyards.

Our vineyard manager, Bill Bertram, is a 20-year veteran of grape growing. He knows his way around Sierra Foothill vineyards, having started the very first winery in the Fairplay area of El Dorado County. He has also worked at D'Agostini and Karly Vineyards,and brings an enormous talent to Perry Creek Vineyards

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Lockwood Cellars 1999 Monterey Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon

Lockwood Cellars 1999, Monterey Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon: $7.00-18.00–(85-87) Brilliant, dark ruby red; medium aromas of black current, raspberry, cherry, herb, leather, spice–pepper, vanilla, oak and cedar; off-dry medium acidity, light tannins; medium bodied, moderatly complex, balanced medium length finish where the cedar, herb cherry and spice play out. I found this wine on sale for as low as two for $7.00! It is at it’s peak now, 20,000+ cases–an $18.00 wine for $3.50–a steal–beats boxed hands down.

Would go really well with like a veal piccata dish–the pepper of the piccata and the lemon woulf play well against this wine--especially with all the asparagus we have around these days.

What Lockwood has to say about their 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon:
The 1999 season experienced the coldest growing conditions in two decades, pushing harvesting back as much as 6 weeks. For the first time in my 20 years as winemaker, we did not bring in a single grape during the month of September. During the month of October we saw a dramatic change in the climate, experiencing the warmest October on record which ripened the grapes to ideal maturity and quality. This extremely long "hang time" concentrated the flavors and aromas in our Cabernet Sauvignon fruit.

We have evolved an elegant, supple, and approachable style of Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a reflection of the unique qualities of our vineyard as well as specialized winemaking techiquies that emphasize fruitiness. This inclusion of Boardeaux varieties broadens the flavor spectrum, adding deeper structure to the Cabernet. For instance, Cabernet Franc typically has bright cherry flavors and chalky tannins, a perfect compliment to the blend. This cabernet sauvignon can be enjoyed now in its youth or cellared for several years for additional

One of the great truisms is that world-class wines are only attainable from great vineyard locations and uncompromised excellence in winemaking. Given this ideal, Lockwood Vineyard was born in 1989 with the intent of producing premium and ultra-premium wines from a single, contiguous 1,850 acre vineyard located in the southern extremities of Monterey County. The partners of Lockwood are dedicated to the concept of estate bottled wines, a legal definition that requires 100 percent of the wine to be grown, produced and bottled from vines exclusively tended and vinified on-site.

The large estate was planted in 1981 under the direction of founding partners Paul Toeppen, Phil Johnson and Butch Lindley, who have cumulative vineyard management experience of over 90 years. The parcel was carefully chosen, having an excellent climate, soil structure and water source for premium grapes. The vineyard is one of the largest premium estate vineyards in the world, selling fruit to a handful of California’s most elite wineries.

Nestled at the base of the Santa Lucia mountains, the vineyard consists of "Lockwood Shaley Loam," a well-drained, calcareous "chalk-rock" found in only two small areas of Central California. The soil is uniform to depths of greater than 20 feet and due to its low nutrient and mineral content, the vines are restrained and must work hard for survival. Due in part to the vineyard’s proximity to the Monterey Bay and warm rangeland to the south, Lockwood’s climate often experiences mornings of 50ºF and mid-day temperatures of 110ºF – a diurnal swing of 60ºF in a matter of a few hours. As a result of our vineyard’s location and unique growing conditions, we are able to grow and mature both warm-climate and cool-climate grapes with unprecedented success.

Lockwood’s philosophy is quite simple: "We own our winery and the vineyard and are uncompromising in every aspect of wine and grape quality. We are accountable only to ourselves and our customers." Each bottle of Lockwood wine reflects this commitment.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Easter Parings:

For those of you that are having Ham here are a few general suggestions:

White Wines:
Sauvignon Blanc (California or New Zealand)
Champagne or sparkling wine
white Rhone
white Bordeaux
white Burgundy
Chardonnay (California or Australia)
Fino Sherry

Red Wines:
Chianti (not Riserva)
Pinot Noir (Oregon)

For those of you that are having Lamb here are a few general suggestions:

RACK of:
Red Wines:

Chianti (not Riserva)
Pinot Noir (Oregon)
Sangiovese (New World)
Cotes du Rhone
red Burgundy
Pinot Noir (California)
Merlot (Chile or Italy)
Merlot (California or Washington)
Chianti Riserva
red Bordeaux
Ribera del Duero
Brunello di Montalcino
Cabernet Sauvignon (New World)
red Rhone (except Cotes du Rhone)
Barolo and Barbaresco
Australian Shiraz
Petite Sirah

(Lamb cont.):
Red Wines:

Chianti (not Riserva)
Pinot Noir (Oregon)
Sangiovese (New World)
Cotes du Rhone
red Burgundy
Pinot Noir (California)
Merlot (Chile or Italy)
Merlot (California or Washington)
Chianti Riserva
red Bordeaux
Ribera del Duero
Brunello di Montalcino
Cabernet Sauvignon (New World)
red Rhone (except Cotes du Rhone)
Barolo and Barbaresco
Australian Shiraz
Petite Sirah

For those of you that are having Fish here are a few general suggestions:

White Wines:
Pinot Blanc (Alsace or the United States)
Pinot Gris (Italy or Oregon)
Riesling (Germany, California or Washington)
Chardonnay (Chile or South Africa)
white Zinfandel
Sancerre or Pouilly-Fume
Alsace (except Pinot Blanc)
Sauvignon Blanc (California or New Zealand)
Champagne or sparkling wine
white Rhone
white Bordeaux
white Burgundy
Chardonnay (California or Australia)
Fino Sherry

Red Wines:
Chianti (not Riserva)
Pinot Noir (Oregon)
Sangiovese (New World)
Cotes du Rhone
red Burgundy
Pinot Noir (California)
Merlot (Chile or Italy)

For those of you that are having Poultry here are a few general suggestions:

White Wines:
Riesling (Germany, California or Washington)
Chardonnay (Chile or South Africa)
white Zinfandel
Sancerre or Pouilly-Fume
Alsace (except Pinot Blanc)
Sauvignon Blanc (California or New Zealand)
Champagne or sparkling wine
white Rhone
white Bordeaux
white Burgundy
Chardonnay (California or Australia)
Fino Sherry

Red Wines:
Chianti (not Riserva)
Pinot Noir (Oregon)
Sangiovese (New World)
Cotes du Rhone
red Burgundy
Pinot Noir (California)
Merlot (Chile or Italy)
Merlot (California or Washington)
Chianti Riserva
red Bordeaux
Ribera del Duero
Brunello di Montalcino

That’s it for now–let me know what worked for you, please.

Morning Fortification:

French press, de-caf mocha java w/4 grains sea salt, sweet butter toasted rather browned butter then old fashion oat meal toasted w/just a bit of sea salt stirred in, too.

Milk warmed slightly in the microwave, hot water over the oats lidded for 7 minutes same for the coffee . . . slab, i.e.: 1tsp. unsalted butter and REAL Maple syrup in the bottom of the serving bowl--dump the oats on top so as to melt the butter and warm the syrup--pour the coffee, the milk and serve the oats--recline with the Friday morning paper.

Reflection . . . and a look forward to a wine tasting weekend. :)

Thursday, March 24, 2005

America's Oldest Winemaking Family Shares How Pinot Noir Came to California

A few days ago I picked up this article about Mirassou Cellars. The article headed "MODESTO, Calif.--March 14, 2005--Pinot Noir: Life Before the Movie "Sideways"

I remember many years ago stopping by the Mirassou Winery near Monterey--what I can’t seem to find are any notes about the wines I tasted there? Anyway after reading the short article, which I’ll reprint here, I must get hold of some of their wine! I’ll look through the local shops, and short of that maybe a spring trip to the Central Coast may be order. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know what I find out.

America's Oldest Winemaking Family Shares How Pinot Noir Came to California
Via the--(

Sales of premium Pinot Noir year to date are up 41 percent versus year ago, thanks in part to the Oscar-winning movie "Sideways'" ode to this high-maintenance grape. Many California winemakers are thrilled that the movie has finally given Pinot Noir the attention it deserves, especially the Mirassou family, who introduced the varietal to California in the 1800s.

"When Pinot Noir is done well, there's nothing like it," said sixth generation David Mirassou of Mirassou Winery. "Aromas of spice mingle with bright cherry flavors, creating a smooth medium-bodied wine that is incredibly versatile for pairing with food. It's so rewarding and worth the extra effort working with this elegant and finicky grape."

In 1854, David Mirassou's great-great-great grandfather Pierre introduced Pinot Noir to Santa Clara County by planting his prized grape cuttings he'd brought from his native France. It took some creative thinking to survive the journey. When the captain told Pierre he could no longer use up water for his grapes, Pierre negotiated to buy the ship's entire supply of potatoes. By inserting the grape cuttings into the potatoes to keep them moist, he was able to keep the grapes alive, and become the first to import the classic French varietal.

Pinot Noir is the "diva" of wine grape varieties because it only makes great wine in a handful of places around the world. In the early 1960s, the Mirassous became the first to plant a major vineyard in Monterey County. They chose this region because of its cool climate and longer growing season, which was remarkably similar to the finest wine regions of France. Today, Monterey is recognized as one of the world's great growing areas for Pinot Noir.

Mirassou Winery recently released its 2003 Monterey County Pinot Noir. It displays intense fruit flavors of cherry and plum balanced with delicate floral notes and hints of smoke, and is a bright reflection of the family's heritage as the pioneer of California Pinot Noir. The Mirassous continue to take pleasure in crafting this smooth and elegant varietal, and look forward to contributing another 150 years to the American wine industry.

The Mirassou family has been growing grapes and crafting superior wines since 1854, earning them the proud distinction of being America's oldest winemaking family. The family has always been known as innovators - introducing Pinot Noir to California and pioneering commercial grapevines in Monterey County. Today, David Mirassou of the sixth generation carries on the legacy for Mirassou Winery, dedicated to continuing the family's more than 150 years of excellence in winemaking.

Another site with history about Mirassou family and Winery:

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Parker 'Terroirises' The Bordeaux Pocket?

Taste not dirt drives the market in Bordeaux–so says Oliver Styles and the Royal Economic Society in Nottingham. Hum? Napa’s role the climb to equity!

Terroir plays no part in the production of great wines, a report to be presented to the Royal Economic Society in Nottingham will say today.

The study threatens the long-held belief that the best French wines are unbeatable because of their terroir – an inimitable combination of soil, climate and topography.

Olivier Gergaud from the University of Reims and Victor Ginsburgh of the Université Libre de Bruxelles argue that winemaking technologies, not terroir, determine the quality of the wine.
The pair collected data on environmental conditions and winemaking techniques across the vineyards of the Haut-Médoc in 1990, including the first-growths Mouton-Rothschild, Latour, Lafite-Rothschild and Margaux.

The information was entered into a database in order to compare terroir characteristics with winemaking techniques for 100 vineyards in the region. The data was also compared with the prices certain vintages fetched on the wine market and the scores they received from tasters including Michael Broadbent and Robert Parker.

The results, the authors say, show that winemaking techniques completely overshadow the effect of terroir.


'The French terroir legend obviously does not hold; at least in the Médoc region,' they say.
Influential members of the wine business do agree that wines can be well made anywhere in the world but they are unshaken in their belief that terroir adds complexity and depth.
'Very good wines are produced in Chile, for example,' says Denise Capbern Gasqueton of Château Calon-Ségur in St EstPphe. 'But they can lack terroir, and terroir is what makes everything. A wine that is well-produced is a good wine, but lacks complexity and other elements to which we are used.'

'Anybody can make the argument either way. They're just being contentious for the sake of it,' said UK wine consultant Bill Baker. 'Many new world wines are very good but don't have the depth and structure [of great Bordeaux] and never will have.'

The Royal Economic Society - one of the oldest economic associations in the world, according to its website - has 3,300 individual members, of which 60% live outside the UK.

Robert Parker's scores can affect the price of Bordeaux by up to 15%, according to new research to be presented at the same conference, Adam Lechmere writes.

Studying the difference between Bordeaux prices influenced by the American critic, and prices set without reference to his journal the Wine Advocate, economist Michel Visser and two colleagues concluded a Parker score could add up to €3 to the price of a bottle.

Parker normally tastes in the spring of the year following the vintage, but for various reasons he did not taste Bordeaux's 2002 vintage until the autumn of 2003 – leaving producers to set prices without referring to his scores.

The difference in prices between the wines of 2002 and those tasted and rated by Parker in other years was found to be around €3 per bottle. This corresponds to 15% of the average en premier price in 2003.

The three authors at INRA, France's institute for agronomic research, quantified the 'Parker effect' at exactly €2.80 per bottle.

When looked at by appellation, it was found that the 'Parker effect' is largest for wines made in Pomerol, 'which is interesting since these are precisely the wines which Robert Parker appreciates the most,' a statement from the conference organisers says.


Source: Terroir plays no role, 'Parker effect' adds 15% to Bordeaux, study finds
Oliver Styles, decanter.com - March 22, 2005

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Bronco Still Bucking the Napa Boys In Court

I found this article this A.M., dated 3/21/05, concerning the on going court case between Napa Wine Growers and the Valley’s Bronco Wine Corp. in a re-print fo the Press Democrat:

Supreme Court ruling cheers Napa winemakers

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday declined to intervene in a dispute between Napa vintners and the Bronco Wine Co. over whether Bronco can have little or no Napa grapes in its "Napa Ridge" wine.

The court's decision was a victory for the Napa Valley Vintners Association because it leaves standing a California Supreme Court ruling that a state can set its own wine labeling standards, which in this case requires "Napa" brands to have 75 percent Napa grapes.
"We are very happy," said Linda Reiff, executive director of the Napa vintners group. She said the court understands that "if a wine label uses Napa, Napa wine should be in the bottle."
But the five-year-old case is not over. Bronco attorneys said they will ask for a review again, as part of litigating three other contentious issues in the case that are still being heard in California appellate courts.

"We are free to raise this issue again," said Peter Brody, the Washington, D.C.-based attorney for Bronco.

The legal dispute centers around a federal regulation, passed in 1986, that requires wineries using an agriculture or appellation in the label to use 75 percent of the grapes from that region.
It exempted pre-existing labels, such as Bronco's Napa Ridge, which uses Central Valley and Central Coast grapes, and Bronco's Rutherford Vintners, which uses Napa grapes, but not necessarily Rutherford grapes.

In 2000, to close that loophole, the Napa Valley Vintners Association, a non-profit group representing 263 wineries, was able to get special state legislation passed dealing specifically with Napa County.

Bronco contends the state legislation can not preempt federal regulations, has an unconstitutional effect on interstate commerce, is an unreasonable burden on free commercial speech and takes property without compensation.

Authored by: Bob Norberg - bnorberg@pressdemocrat.com

Monday, March 21, 2005

Chalk Hill 2003, Estate Sauvignon Blanc @ Copia and Now

I was at the Copia "Wines of Sonoma Walk Around Tasting" last fall when a lovely young lady served me a glass of this wonderful Sauvignon Blanc. I was pleasantly surprised as I worked my way through the crowd to where I usually set up for my tasting that day. Although only one of many wines from that day the impression it had made on me still surprises me today.

I was in the market this last weekend and saw a few bottles of this, Chalk Hill 2003, Estate Sauvignon Blanc, on the shelf and just had to pick a couple up.

I opened one when I got home–took out my tasting note book and did a quick assesment. I then went digging for my tasting notes from the Copia Tasting last fall–it was logged away with the other notes on Chalk Hill wines–so I brought out all my Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc notes and proceded to taste this the latest version and reflect upon some from over the years prior.

Review/Notes 2003 Chalk Hill Estate Sauvignon Blanc:

Chalk Hill 2003, Estate Sauvignon Blanc: $25.00–(88pts.) Brilliant, greenish tinge showing good legs; deep aromas of vanilla, melon, citrus and grass, fresh berbs; complex, medium bodied, mouth filling flavors leading to a lengthy finish where the citrus and melon play out and slowly devolve away. Dare I call it dry white table wine? Drink now--cause it’s just too hard to keep around--oops there went bottle number two! :) Abou7,500 cases made.
Boy do those fresh Hog Island raw oysters–oth Kumies And Pacifics–go great with this wine.

About the Vineyard, etc:
GROWING AREA: Sonoma, North Coast, California, USA
ACRES: 5.4
SOIL TYPE: Haire Clay
VARIETY: Sauvignon Blanc
ROOTSTOCKS: 110R, S04, 101-14
SPACING: 6x11 ft.

UCD 01, California
UCD 06, Italy
UCD 01N, France, Musque
CTPS 378, France

What Chalk Hill has to say:
Chalk Hill Estate`s passion for terroir and clonal diversity is brought to life in our beautiful 2003 Sauvignon Blanc. With several distinctive growing sites on the estate and a potpourri of clones, the wine captures the uniqueness of our land. The Oak Hill vineyard is planted to various clones of Sauvignon Blanc, separated into tiny, fragmented parcels: UCD 01, the industry standard; Loire-et-Cher Clone CTPS 378, which offers aromatic perfume and tropical flavors; and Sauvignon Gris, which brings a lush texture to the blend. Chalk Hill Estate Block Q Sauvignon Blanc, a small hillside vineyard contoured by gravel, delivers forward stone fruit and exotic minerality. And Semillon, an altogether different but complementary variety, punctates the blend`s full and weighty mouthfeel. The 2003 vintage was exceptional. The warm autumn conditions promoted full maturity and produced grapes with heightened levels of concentration and varietal purity. After careful selection and hand-harvesting, the Sauvignon Blanc grapes were whole-cluster pressed and fermentation occurred in both barrels and tank, providing the balance between barrel richness and the vibrancy offered by tank fermentation. Native yeasts, used to enhance the wine`s opulence and reveal nuance, were utilized for the majority of the blend. All of the new wine was aged in oak and stirred biweekly through the completion of a natural malolactic fermentation. The result is a wine with concentrated and complex varietal expression, mouth-filling flavors, velvety texture and lengthy finish. Without question, this Sauvignon Blanc is one suited for the table. Try it with a wide range of dishes best to appreciate its richness, finesse and versatility.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Bourguignonne & New World Burgundy: A Post Doser!

I usually start these things with my patented tasting notes, then go to my suggested paring and finish with some reference to the winery or the hill the grapes were raised on–so why change now.


Spy Valley 2000, Marlborough, New Zealand, South Island, Pinot Noir: $22.00, (87)--Bright, deep reddish purple–showing legs that are there; medium aromas of berry, raspberry, wild berry, spice and lightly oaked; tart agressive tannins; angular structure full bodied, persistent balanced flavors; strong, sophisticated solid and agreeable finish. Good through 2005. 500 cases imported.

I have noted on the back of my tasting sheet:
1.) Fruit stays with the juicy finish.
2.) Tannins are still strong and healthy.
3.) Good with the thick meaty bourguignonne.
4.) Sophisticated?

What Spy Valley Has To Say:
Situated on the sunny southern side of Marlborough's Wairau Valley, nestled on the terraces of the Omaka River are the vineyards of Johnson Estate.

Eight varieties of grapes over 360 acres producing premium quality fruit for Spy Valley Wines. Spy Valley is a colloquial name for Marlborough’s Waihopai Valley, derived from the presence of a satellite communications monitoring base. Our fertile, free draining stony soils result from successive flood events and glacial out wash deposits over the previous 10,000 years.

Marlborough enjoys more sunshine hours than any other region of New Zealand, coupled with a young rich land we have perfect grape growing conditions. This allows Marlborough to produce some of the best wines in the world.

At Spy Valley, emphasis on viticultural excellence creates wines that capture the essence of the environment and are classically Marlborough. Owning all our vineyards ensures total control of the winemaking process, true single vineyard estate production.

Youthful, exuberant wines bursting with fruit flavor and aroma are crafted using modern wine making techniques by our winemaker Ant Mackenzie, one of New Zealand's most experienced and a true expert at capturing the essence of the season.

Parducci Winery 2003, Vintners Select - Mendocino, Pinot Noir: $8.99, (70)–Brilliant ruby red of light depth–lively showing reasonable legs, though; powerful aromas of berry, current, dry wild berry, tobacco leaf, fresh herbs, leathery highh dry stalky tannins; medium bodied austere in structure–finishes short, unassuming and nicely dry. Drink it now--cook with it often. 10,000+ cases made.

I have noted on the back of my tasting sheet:
1.) So nice to have my nose in a taster of aromatic wine;
2.) And Phenolic finishes the aroma last deep, deep in the back of the nose.
3.) Boy what a fun nose though;
It was a fun sniff!

Most of this bottle ended up in the brazing liquid, too. As did the two previously noted California Pinot Noirs, i.e.: Praxis Cellars 2000, Santa Lucia Highlands and the Coyote Creek Vineyard 2002, from article: March 18, 2005 - "California Pinot Noir - Beef Bourguignonne: Prelude" this magazine.

What Parducci Has To Say:
True to the tradition of the wine-loving Italian families who settled Mendocino County in the 19th century, Parducci’s fresh, fruit-forward, easy drinking wines are meant for the dinner table, and are handcrafted to ensure consistent, reliable quality at affordable prices. Our winemaking style showcases the pure varietal character of the fruit as it originates in the vineyard, undistorted by strong oak character or harsh tannins.

California Pinot Beef Bourguignonne, asparagus with a cheese and chocolate desert plate.


List of stuff–I mean Ingrediants:
One pound very streaky smoked bacon cut ingo small pieces.
3 large red onions, peeled and cut chunkys
6 carrots halved lengh wise, cut into 1" pieces
A couple big hand fulls of pealed garlic
4-5 pound cross reb roast cut into 3/4 to 1 inch thick chunks.
Kosher Salt
Course ground pepper
Cognac-a splash or so
2 and ½ +bottles Pinot Noir or Burgundy
3 bay leaves
10 or 20 whole black pepper corns
Few sprigs of fresh thyme
bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley
6-8-12oz. Home made stock
1lb. Button moshrooms
1lb. Pearl onions
1lb. Turnips
1lb. Carrots
1 sheet puff pastry dough
1 egg

How to:

In a large Dutch oven:

Rendered bacon over low heat until crisp and dry. Afer rendering I removed the bacon bits.
I then threw te onions in the same pan browned then reduce heat until translucent. Remove let darin.

I then threw the carrots in the pot and raised the heat to brown then reduced to medium low to further color–removed and let drain.

Salt and peppered the beef before searing.

Brought the heat back up and preceded to brown all the meat this took about four times filling of the pot not crowding so as not to promote juicing out just fast searing. Removed all beef to a bowl with the bacon bits.

Pour off most of the remaining oil; de-glaze with the cognac then the wine scraping all the good bits up off the bottom.

In a large double piece of cheese cloth place the caramelized carrot chunks, the browned translucent onions, the black pepper corns, the bay leaves, fresh thyme and all the stems from the bunch of the fresh flat leaf parsley–tie and place in the midel of the pot. I guess you’d call that your ‘bouquet garnet!’

Dump all the beef and bacon bits back into the pot and pour on the wine and throw in the garlic. Cook over medium low heat for about 150min.

Remove all solids, i.e.: beef, garlic, etc. let cool.

Squeeze all the juice from the bouquet garnet and reduce liquid by half–let cool.
Next prep all vegetables either steaming or blanching to desired texture–separately–then let cool.

I sauteed the mushrooms in butter and virgin olive oil until brown on the edges and mosr of their liquids were reduced.

Before assembly I sauteed all the vegetables in butter to caramelize their outer edges.
I then mixed the cold meat with the cold vegetables and mushrooms then poured the reduced and thickened braising liquids over all; placed the puff pastry on top of the oven proof Pyrex casserole and stuck it all in a 400 degree oven for 20min.s or so.

1.) After reducing the braising liquid I let it cool and put it in the frig over night to harden all the bacon fat and butter. This I removed before warming and thickening with browned butter and flour prior to assembly.

2.) I now bake the puff pastry flat on a parch smith covered sheet pan then place it on top of my service bowl for presentation–much better buff!

3.) I now heat all the pre-cooked meat, vegetables and gravy seasoning to taste before presentation separately from the puff pastry–more control over final product. I also stir in fresh chopped flat leaf parsley and sprinkle the top of the stew before placing the puff pastry lid for service.

4.) I used cream instead of egg to wash the pastry with second time around.

In closing:
There’s probably a dozen or so steps I haven’t mentioned like bringing out the ole’ ‘boat motor’ at one point.

I actually used less than half the meat and vegetables to prepare the pie in the photo–feed three of us easy! I built four eight inch ramekins using the "upgraded version." I have frozen two of them with their uncooked puff pastries under the bottom sides of the double wrapped ramekins–an easy ready meal for another rainy day:)

All in all–a fun way to work your way through four bottles of Pinot Noir in a couple of days :) or was it just something to do between races, i.e.: the Grand Prix of Malaysia, Twelve Hours of Sebring–American Le Mans Series, Saturday’s Bush and Sunday’s NASCAR Stock Car Races?

Saturday, March 19, 2005

L.A. Zin In The City

Los Angeles


Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 6:00 PM - 11:30 PM
The Century Club - Century City, 10131 Constellation Boulevard

Kicked back had a great time, enjoy great music, tasty delights, and tons of Zin! Made new friends--what a great time!

There were some great Zins served up on Thursday! Notes forth coming.

Participating Wineries:

Adobe Road Wines
Ballentine Vineyards
Barefoot Cellars
Battaglini Estate Winery
Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves
Bogle Winery
Bourassa Vineyards
Bradford Mountain Winery
Brassfield Estate
Brochelle Vineyards
C.G. Di Arie Vineyard & Winery
Camellia Cellars
Carlisle Winery
Carol Shelton Wines
Chateau Camou
Cline Cellars
CrauforD Wine Company
D-Cubed Cellars
Downing Family Vineyards
Everett Ridge Vineyards & Winery
F. Teldeschi Winery
Fife Vineyards
Folie a Deux Winery
Four Vines Winery
Graziano Family of Wines
Grgich Hills Cellar
Hanna Winery
Jessie's Grove Winery
Kenwood Vineyards/Heck Estates
Klinker Brick Winery
Lake Sonoma Winery-Heck Estates
Limerick Lane Cellars
Mauritson Family Winery
Meeker Vineyard
Michael-David Vineyards
Montevina Winery- Trinchero Family Estates
Mountain View Vintners
Norman Vineyards
Opolo Vineyards
Peachy Canyon Winery
Pedroncelli Winery
Pezzi King Vineyards
Quivira Estate Vineyards & Winery
Rancho Zabaco Winery
Renwood Winery
Ridge Vineyards
Robert Biale Vineyards
Robert Rue Vineyard
Rodney Strong Vineyards
Rosenblum Cellars
Rusina Wines
Sapphire Hill Vineyards & Winery
Saucelito Canyon Vineyard
Seghesio Family Vineyards
Shayne Kline Wine
Stacked Stone Cellars
Starry Night Winery
Steele Wines
Storrs Winery
Sylvester Estate Winery
The Terraces
Tin Barn Vineyards
Tres Sabores
Vino Con Brio

Friday, March 18, 2005

California Pinot Noir - Beef Bourguignonne: Prelude

I scored this 5lb. cross-rib- roast and got it into my head I’d do beef bourguignonne. What’s that have to do with California Pinot Noir you ask? I guess because the animal was raised in the state it should also be prepared with California Pinot Noir and the wine we drink with the meal should a California Pinot Noir–wouldn’t yah’ think?

What I’ll drink with this bourguignonne, and its’ final disposition will be? I’m just not sure! Right now I have to scrub out the ole Dutch oven and re-season the poor old thing–I don’t remember it being so heavy, either.

Here’s a couple of California Pinot Noir I’ve been thinking about using for the bourguignonne’s braising liquid.

Praxis Cellars, Santa Lucia Highlands, PRAXIS, 2000, Pinot Noir: $14.00--(88 points)-Medium Garnet to light Ruby; a young Red, plum, black cherry, vanilla and violet aromas; good structure, light oak, fine-grained tannins--bright acidity, this full-bodied, finishes softly, ripe black fruits, spice and smoky characteristic not domineering just tasteee!

More about Praxis Cellars, Santa Lucia Highlands, 2000, Pinot Noir: Silver Medal, Riverside International Wine Competition 2002; Alcohol: 13.5%, aged in French oak–1600 cases.

Sorry I can’t remember what we ate with this, but would go well with just about anything I think!

Coyote Creek Vineyard, Coyote Creek, 2002, Pinot Noir: $10.00--(89 to 87 points)-Brilliant red with purplish hue; early morning in an old-growth stand of Douglas Fir wafts up to the nose--moss, fern deep dark earth, ripe-ripe berries; the aromas carry right on through--good texture mid palate warm slow finish--cheek to cheek--reminiscent of a good "Cote de..!"
Enjoyed with balsamic, black pepper-corn, rosemary and red wine marinated grilled chicken; roast garlic, Stilton cheese laced Polenta, with dark green veggie --the coyote chasing that chicken and the polenta wrapped around your senses--look out!----yummmmmmm.

More about the Coyote Creek Vineyard, Coyote Creek, 2002, Pinot Noir: An Oregon grown PN vinted and bottled in Santa Rosa, California–go figure!?! And hey I EVEN got it on sale for $7.00! Sorry, I have no link for this winery at this time.

It’s great to find really good wine at a reasonable price–don’t you think?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Sharpshooters Egg Napa

Over the past couple of days I’ve been picking up stories of glassy-winged sharpshooter eggs being found in Napa. The threat has been upon us for years and isn’t it just an inevitability that our hollowed grounds of ‘grapedum’ will sooner or later get hit by this pest.

It’s as if we’ve lived under this threat for ages.

Now it’s spring and here the eggs are again. The words "all the kings horses and all the kings men" comes to mind. The industry and the state ’Agro’ Dpts. will, with a minimum of their budgets, mass another investigational assault upon what I see as the inevitable.

We’ve let it in now we best learn to deal with it.

Here’s the latest from: Lynn Alley, Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2005 (WS)

Evidence of Vineyard Pest in Napa County

Three separate glassy-winged sharpshooter egg masses have been found in a one-month span
For the third time in a month, Napa County agricultural inspectors have found glassy-winged sharpshooter egg masses on ornamental plants recently brought into the county.

The first two discoveries--on Feb. 9 and Feb. 14--occurred on ornamental plants offered for sale at local retail plant vendors. In both cases the plants had originated in Ventura County, an area known to have been infested with the glassy-winged sharpshooter for several years. But the latest sighting was made March 10 at a landscape job location in the community of Angwin, located in the hills on the eastern side of Napa Valley.

The leaf-hopping insect, which transmits the vine-ravaging Pierce's disease, is believed to have entered California in the early 1990s, most likely on nursery stock imported from Florida. In 1998, the pest infested and devastated the Temecula Valley grapegrowing region in Riverside County.

To date, county and state agriculture officials have managed to slow the insect’s spread northward by implementing a series of protocols that include regular nursery inspections both at point of origin and point of sale or use. Napa County has reported no more than three egg clusters in any one year, so the appearance of three clusters in less than a month is some cause for alarm.

The latest cluster was found on one of 250 1-gallon periwinkle vines that had come from a nursery in Lodi, thought to be an uninfested area. But the vines had originated at nurseries somewhere in Southern California, most likely in either Ventura or Los Angeles counties. The Lodi nursery picked up the entire shipment of vines the next day and returned them to Lodi.

"We are very concerned that plant material continues to come into Napa County with glassy-winged sharpshooter life stages on it," said Greg Clark, assistant Napa County agricultural commissioner. "We can quote statistics and say that the overwhelming majority of plants shipped out of infested areas are clean, but any egg masses in Napa is unacceptable."

Clark went on to say that Napa is the only county in the state that inspects shipments coming from uninfested areas, such as Lodi. "People always want to know why [we inspect all shipments]," he said. "Well, this is why. It's the first time we've found eggs on plants from an uninfested area. This is still as much an issue today as it was five years ago, and people need to understand that."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Wine of Australia:

I don’t know how often you drink Australian wine, or how interested in you might be, but today I found a very informative site for us: wineaustralia.com.

"Serious Wine for those that aren’‘t so serious!"

They are the Australian Wine & Brandy Corporation, the Government authority responsible for the promotion and regulation of Australian wine and brandy.

Found cool descriptions of the different Australian wine regions, i.e.:

New South Wales
South Australia
Western Australia
Great descriptions of each area–for example:
In the 1860’s Victoria was known as ‘John Bull’s vineyards’, reflecting both its pre-eminent production position in Australia and its exports to the United Kingdom.
Unlike other Australian states where viticulture is generally concentrated around the coast or ranges, the majority of Victoria is suited to grape growing. In the last 30 years Victoria’s industry has undergone a significant revival.
With over 400 wineries in 17 premium wine regions, Victoria offers a complete range of varieties and styles.
31 Alpine Valley
32 Beechworth
33 Bendigo
34 Central Victorian Mountain Country
35 Geelong
36 Upper Goulburn
37 Grampians
38 Heathcote
39 Henty
40 King Valley
41 Macedon Ranges
42 Mornington Peninsula
43 Murray Darling
44 Pyrenees
45 Rutherglen
46 Strathbogie Ranges
47 Sunbury
48 Swan Hill
49 Yarra Valley

There are 59 designated sub districts named in the six described regions on the site.

And a great place to get News and Info from Down Under.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Early Bud Break: California Grape Growers Sweat The Frost

There’s been some great weather out in California the past couple week. The vine are all pruned and ready to go, BUT the weather could deal a bad hand of frosty cards–not good!

Record setting high temperatures on the North Coast has tweeked growers interest in Mendocino County to Sonoma County.

Read all about it in Tim Tesconi’s, Press Democrat Article, ‘Grape vines bud in early heat’ dated March 12th, 2005.

I remember when they used to use Smut pots and big ole’ airplane propellers to deal with the frosts–now they cover the vines with water to bring up the temperature.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this years’ crop for sure--especially that Alexander Valley Chardonnay!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Vinum 2003, No Way Cuvee, Wilson Vineyard, Clarksburg, Chenin Blanc

Vinum 2003, No Way Cuvee, Wilson Vineyard, Clarksburg, Chenin Blanc, $8.99: (83)--Bright greenish straw, light and lively in depth, paints medium legs; bright citrus, apple, grassy jump out of the glass; fresh, dry acidity, austere structure, medium body, finishes clean and refreshing, crisp and uncomplicated, an honest Chenin Blanc. Excellent value–shows best not ice cold, open with time–goes well with food, especially clams. Drink now.

What they, Vinum Cellars, have to say:
CNW Cuveé – Chard-No-Way! 2003, Chenin Blanc, Wilson Vineyards, Clarksburg--"It is our belief that Chenin Blanc (when made well) rivals some of the greatest white wines of the world. This wine was made from cool climate grapes, barrel fermented in French Oak, and aged for 9 months. Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah...

REDISCOVER CHENIN BLANC! Working with our designer (Anya Bruno/Full Tank Design) on the label for this wine was almost as fun as making the wine. After seeing this label, our parents lovingly refer to us as Ben and Jerry. Come to think of it, we didn't ask Ken Wilson (our grower) what he would think about putting his name on a pint of Ben and Jerry's, but after tasting the wine, he didn't seem to mind. Undoubtedly, Ken grows the best Chenin Blanc in California at his vineyard in Clarksburg. For those who aren't familiar with Clarksburg, it is located west of Sacramento. It has a unique microclimate where the cool breezes from the Sierras and the Bay moderate the long hot days which allow the grapes to reach optimal maturity. In addition to those ideal growing conditions, the grapes come from low yielding old vines which provide the intensity that makes our Chenin Blanc unique. Suggested retail $10.00

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Ice wine, icewine, eiswein, Inniskillin ...

Yesterday, or was it the day before? Janice, one of my readers, mentioned Ice Wine in her comment from, ‘Researching Wine Before Pursuit or Purchase’:

”On a recent tour through wine country in Niagara Falls, Canada I was given a sample of Ice Wine. What makes ice wine so different from the rest. I know it was very sweet and not to my liking just wondering the difference.” (Janice)

We later met in the chat room and discussed ‘eiswein’ briefly:

AveVine: ice wine?
Janice: yes, didn't really like it. Served in really tiny glasses like a liqueur because it is soooooo sweet, sickly sweet actually
Janice: All I could get from the vineyard is that it is made from grapes that are allowed to freeze on the vine before picking
AveVine: yes, is the way it's made--makes it so sweet
AveVine: yes, a good example of ice wine is
AveVine: like take a coke
AveVine: stick it in the freezer for awhile
AveVine: like 30min.
AveVine: when you open it will form ice crystals all the way down to the bottom
AveVine: careful--it tends to expand, too
AveVine: anyway what you’re left with is just the un-frozen sugars and color
AveVine: that's kind of what you’re getting w/ice wine
Janice: It is very very expensive too
AveVine: yes, takes a lot of grapes to make a little wine
AveVine: remember all the water's froze out of the cycle
Janice: cool, thanks for checking that for me
AveVine: ok, I'll put together an article about ice wine for the site and you, too

As promised--here’s the short version to start:

“Ice wine, direct Anglicization of the German EISWEIN, Sweet wine made from ripe grapes picked when frozen on the vine and pressed so that water crystals remain in the press and the sugar content of the resulting wine is increased. This sort pf true ice wine is a specialty of Canada where it is written Icewine and where more is produced each year than in any other country (50,000 cases in a good year by the late 1990s) It is also increasingly made in Luxenborg, Oregon, and in Michigan in the United States. The term has also been used in other English speaking countriesfor wines made by artificial freeze concentration, or cryo-extraction.” (Robinson)

Ok, now let’s go for a long look:

Ice wine is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen. The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does, so the result is an unusually concentrated, often very sweet wine. The effect is comparable to the freeze distillation that was traditionally used to make applejack and similar beverages, but in the case of ice wines, the freezing happens before the fermentation, not afterwards. Unlike other unfortified dessert wines, grapes for ice wine tend not to be affected by Botrytis cinera. When the grapes are free of botrytis, they are said to have come in "clean."

The most famous (and expensive) ice wines are German Eisweins, but ice wine is also made in Canada and the United States. Eiswein is part of the QmP category in the German wine classification. Ice wine production in Canada is regulated by the Vintners Quality Alliance.

Natural ice wines require a hard frost (roughly -9 ̊C, 15 ̊F) to occur sometime after the grapes are ripe, which means that the grapes may hang on the vine for several months. If a frost does not come quickly enough, the grapes may rot and the crop will be lost. If the frost is too severe, no juice can be extracted. Bird losses and dropped fruit will also reduce yield the longer it hangs on the vine. Since the fruit must be pressed while still frozen, pickers often must work at night harvesting the grapes within a few hours, while cellar workers must work in unheated spaces.

Some winemakers use cryoextraction to simulate the effect of a frost and typically do not leave the grapes to hang for extended periods as is done with a natural ice wine. Perhaps the most famous of these is Bonny Doon's "Vin de Glaciere" (icebox wine). In Germany and Canada the grapes must freeze naturally to be called ice wine.

Because of the lower yield of grapes and the difficulty of processing, ice wines are more expensive than table wines. The high sugar levels lead to a slower than normal fermentation. They are often sold in half-bottles (375 ml).

Typical grapes used for ice wine production are: Riesling, Seyval, Vidal Blanc, and, interestingly, the red grape Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc ice wine is a light pink color, like most rose wines.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

This process first developed in Franconia, Germany in 1794. It is highly priced drinks mostly available Germany, Austria and Canada. The Niagara region of Ontario, Canada is currently the leading producer of ice wines. In Ontario and in Germany, ice wine called as naturally frozen. This means that here as in Germany, no other method of making ice wine is allowed other than the natural method. No artificial freezing method constitutes ice wine by definition or label.
Sugar Levels
Temperature Sugar Content
-6̊C 29%
-7̊C 33%
-8̊C 36%
-9̊C 39%
-10̊C 43%
-11̊C 46%
-12̊C 49%
-13̊C 52%
-14̊C 56%

To make Ice wine, the grapes are left on the vine until after the first frost hits. These grapes are harvested after being frozen in the vineyard and then, while still frozen, they are pressed. They must be picked early - mostly before 10 a.m. During both of these processes the temperature cannot exceed -8 degrees C. At this temperature (-8 degrees C) the berries will freeze as hard as marbles. While the grape is still in its frozen state, it is pressed and the water is driven out as shards of ice. This leaves a highly concentrated juice, very high in acids, sugars and aromatics.

Typically Ice wine is made of Vidal and Riesling grapes. After this long harvest process, the grapes go through weeks of fermentation, followed by a few months of barrel aging.

Ice wine generally tastes sweet with fruity (apricot, peach, mango, melon ) and usually drunk as a dessert wine. Chilled for one two hours before consuming it.

Then there’s the regulatory thing–never seams to fail--Inniskillin ...:

Originally developed in the cool wine regions of Germany in the mid-1700s, Icewine is ideally suited to the Niagara peninsula and the Okanagan Valley's climatic conditions.

Grapes are left on the vine well into the winter months. The resulting freezing and thawing of the grapes dehydrates the fruit, and concentrates the sugars, acids, and extracts in the berries, thereby intensifying the flavours and adding complexity to the wine made from it.

Genuine icewine must follow VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) regulations that prohibit any artificial freezing of grapes. The grapes are painstakingly picked by hand in their natural frozen state, ideally at temperatures of -10 to -13 degrees C -- sometimes the picking must be done at night to take advantage of the temperature. Yields are very low, often as little as 5-10 percent of normal.

The frozen grapes are pressed in the extreme cold. The water in the juice remains frozen as ice crystals, and only a few drops of sweet concentrated juice is obtained. This juice is then fermented very slowly for several months, stopping naturally.

The finished icewine is intensely sweet and flavorful in the initial mouth sensation. The balance is achieved by the acidity, which gives a clean, dry finish. The nose of icewine recalls lychee nuts. The wine tastes of tropical fruits, with shadings of peach nectar and mango.

Icewine is winter's gift to the wine lover: one of the best-kept secrets of the wine world that garners gold medals in virtually every competition in which it is entered.

The greatest of international accolade for Canadian Icewine was bestowed on Inniskillin 1989 Icewine at Vinexpo, Bordeaux, in June 1991. This wine, judged by an international panel, was accorded the fair's highest award, Le Grand Prix d'Honneur.

And here’s some Icewines, recent Inniskillin releases I beleive, discribed:

2002 Oak Aged Vidal Icewine
An enchanting integration of fresh tropical fruits, mango, litchi, apricot and papaya with intermingling layers of buckwheat honey and ginger. Superb sweet / tart interplay featuring flavors of apricot and honey. Outstanding complexities and length deliver pure refined elegance, which will only improve with age.

2002 Cabernet Franc Icewine
This wine is both intensely aromatic and varietally distinct, from an incredible Icewine vintage. Portraying aromas of herbs, eucalyptus, strawberry, baked rhubarb and spiced apple. Rich echoing flavors of cranberry, apple and strawberry are enlightened by a refreshed acidity, creating a truly vibrant and invigorating experience!

2001 Riesling Icewine
This wines’ intense aromas range from fresh blossoms and apricot to tangerine andj candied lime. Rich up front flavors are enhanced with a lively fresh acidity that is both harmonious and refreshing, providing promise for excellent cellaring.

2000 Plut Vineyards Vidal Icewine
Displays a deep yellow gold color. Intense honey and tropical fruit aromas. Concentrated rich sweet honey flavors with a long lasting finish.

2002 Vidal Icewine
The nobility of this vintage shines with an alluring assortment of fresh nectarine, papaya, litchi, tangerine and orange blossoms. These exquisite fruit flavors, combined with invigorating acidity offer multi-layers of balanced pleasure.

2001 Sparking Icewine
Fine elegant bubbles with pure focused northern fruit aromas, of fresh apricot, nectarine and peach. These wonderfully enlightened flavours both enchant and delight your palate offering incredible length, finesse and balance.

Guess we better talk a little about “Serving Icewine:”

Icewine unopened and stored on it side in a cool (55-65 degrees F) place, away from vibrations and strong smells, can keep up to 25 years. The aging is also affected by the Growing Season, some years were better than others and therefore the wine will age differently.

If you have a specific year, we can advise you on how long you can store it for. Icewines as they age, darken in colour as well as increase in price! If you save it for a special occasion, you certainly will not be disappointed!

Once an Icewine is opened, you have 3-5 days to finish it up... but that is usually not a problem! Once a wine of any type is exposed to air, it begins to oxidize slowly and if left open too long, it tastes and smells bitter.

Icewines can be enjoyed in their youth or aged for many years. Icewines in their youth offer fresh fruit and are crisp and clean. Older Icewines tend to have a greater degree of depth, complexity and wide range of intense aromatics. As Icewines continue to age, the naturally concentrated acidity present lingers and follows through for a unique and harmonious balance.

Use discretion when pairing Icewines with food. Also, dishes or desserts that tend to be quite sweet may take away from the luscious experience and leave a cloying effect on your palate. Neutral desserts, such as pear tart, apple and peach based sauce desserts; strong cheeses and foie gras tend to create a harmonious balance.

Hope that covers it for you! :)

Saturday, March 12, 2005



Friday, March 11, 2005

COPIA - Napa Valley Mustard Festival

COPIA - Is Hosting the Napa Valley Mustard Festival a guest event. March 11 - 13, 2005 - NOW! THIS WEEKEND!!!

Here’s a short list of the events to be enjoyed at Copia:

Napa Valley Mustard Festival
The Festival’s 2005 Awards celebration on Friday night and Marketplace on Saturday and Sunday will replace our regular schedule of activities. Also, Julia’s Kitchen will be closed for dinner on Friday, March 11, and lunch Saturday-Sunday, March 12-13; reopening for dinner service Saturday and Sunday. The American Market Café and Cornucopia will be open Saturday and Sunday for Mustard Festival attendees only.

The Awards – A Tasty Competition!
Napa Valley Chefs Mustard Recipe Competition & Worldwide Mustard Competition Awards
Friday, March 11 – 7:00 – 10:00 pm

The Marketplace – The Signature Event
Showcase of Food, Wine, Music, Art & Mustards from Around the World
Saturday, March 12 & Sunday, March 13
11:00 am – 5:00 pm

ART @ COPIA thanks The Irvine Museum for their generous loan of Mustard.

Mustard c. 1915
William Lees Judson
Oil on canvas

Arrowood and Byron going to Legacy Estates!

Constellation is close to selling some Mondavi holdings for about $40 million to Legacy Estates owners of Freemark Abbey.

The shake doun and out continues!

St. Helena, Calif.-based Legacy Estates, which was founded by brothers Calvin and Dev Sidhu and other partners, has been actively seeking new wineries over the past few years. The company was started in 2001 with the acquisition of Freemark Abbey, which is best known for Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon and whose wines retail for $25 to $65.

According to the Arrowood statement, winery founders Richard and Alis Arrowood will stay on with the company, Richard as Arrowood's director of winemaking and Alis providing sales and marketing support. It is expected that Byron winemaker Jonathan Nagy, who was trained by estate founder Ken Brown, would also continue to oversee production.

The Arrowoods founded their winery in 1987 and struck a deal in 2000 for Mondavi to take it over for $45 million--$20 million more than Constellation is getting for it now. Arrowood currently makes 25,000 cases to 30,000 cases a year from estate and purchased Sonoma grapes. About one-third of the production is Cabernet Sauvignon, and the balance is mostly Chardonnay, Syrah and Merlot. Retail prices range from $18 for the Grand Archer Chardonnay up to $85 for the Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon Réserve Spéciale.

Byron's current output is about 35,000 cases a year, nearly all of which is Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Prices usually range between $25 and $50 a bottle. Ken Brown began the estate in 1984 and sold it to Mondavi in 1990 (three years before it became a publicly traded company, so the sale price was not disclosed). He left in June 2004 to concentrate on his own brand, called Ken Brown Wines. He had a consulting arrangement with Mondavi in exchange for reduced fees for custom-crush privileges at the Byron facility. That arrangement is expected to continue.

How’s the TCA at Arrowood doing? Will the prices go up at both Arrowood and Byron’s? More questions as the landscape of wine in the State of California metamorphoses.

Gleaned from an article by: Daniel Sogg

What Role Mondovi Now?

The Mondavi portfolio Props up Cellar Door, the top-end wines of Constellation Brands, (CB), CB announced yesterday.

Constellation took over the entire Mondavi Corp. Late in 2004 making CB the world's largest wine company pumping around 80m cases.

Cellar Door is CB’s Europe's super-premium wine division. Mondavi will join its existing portfolio of Californian estates: Estancia, Franciscan Oakville Estate, Mount Veeder, Quintessa, Ravenswood and Simi as well as estates in Chile, New Zealand and Australia.

The takeover of Mondavi by Constellation has bought about profound changes on a local scale, i.e.: jobs, restructuring, etc.

In the latest issue of Wine Advocate, Robert Parker meditates on the key role Mondavi had played in the importance of wine in North American, but CB’s gobbling up Mondavi Corp still gives him cause for thought.

'Hopefully much of the Mondavi spirit, soul and creativity will stick around this new entity, though it is hard to know what the giant CB Corrp. will do.'

Oh, Robert–we all need to hear from you so often.

“Cellar Door manager Marina Gayan MW said in a statement they were proud to have 'one of the greatest names in the New World' in their portfolio.”

“'Like the other estates in the Cellar Door division, Robert Mondavi reflects great tradition and history, as well as fine wine making and innovation - all of which we are committed to upholding.'“ So long as the money keeps flowing strong.

Adam Lechmere, March 9, 2005 – Decanter

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Lodi Spring Wine Show - Silver Anniversary


Celebrating our Silver Anniversary, the 25th Annual Lodi Spring Wine Show will be held April 1st & 2nd from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. each night in the Grape Pavilion at the Lodi Grape Festival grounds. Over 2,500 attendees are expected at this premiere event, which features wine tasting with more than 40 wineries from throughout Northern California, hors d'oeuvres, music, entertainment, and more!

Admission price of $25.00 for advance sale or $30.00 at the door each day of the show, gives you an all access pass to taste from more than 40 wineries and a complimentary wine glass. Enjoy 3 wonderful hours of unlimited wine tasting and more at the Lodi Spring Wine Show, April 1 & 2. Call (209) 369-2771 for more information, and keep checking this website for an updated list of participating wineries