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Brix = the amount of sweetness in a given solution measured in degrees expressing the porportion of sugar to each 100 gr. of total fluid; Used in winemaking by growers to measure the amount of sugar in the grapes.

Chicks = We're girls of a certain age with a sense of adventure, a passion for wine, a vibrant curiousity to learn more and a drive to exchange ideas, share tips and find out what you have to say about how wine flavors your experience.

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05 April, 2014

Don’t Miss Out: 2014 Rhone Rangers San Francisco Bay Area Grand Tasting #RRSFBAY

Tomorrow, April 6, 2014, is one of the Brix Chicks’ favorite tastings of the year:  The 17thAnnual Rhone Rangers San Francisco Bay Area Grand Tasting at the Craneway Pavilion near Pt. Richmond on the beautiful waterfront site of the old Richmond Ford plant at the Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park.  

The Grand Tasting is the largest tasting of Rhone wines in the United States, with 90 producers pouring over 400 wines.  We love the event not only for the wine but for the opportunity to meet and talk with talented winemakers passionate about making beautiful wine and expanding wine consumers’ palates.

Tickets for seminars and VIP tasting (morning seminars and 1:00-6:00 PM tasting) and general admission to the Grand Tasting (3:00-6:00 PM) are still available.  If you’re attending just the Grand Tasting, use discount code GT-20 for $15 off general admission.  The Craneway Pavilion site features ample parking, gorgeous views, and easy access from San Francisco with ferry service and shuttles to and from the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station.

A big tasting event like this one requires a strategy.  This year I’m focusing on returning to my favorites, perhaps in reverse alphabetical order, starting in the “T’s”:

Two Shepherds:  Winemaker William Allen, a leader in the Rhone Rangers movement, is crafting gorgeous, bright, complex, food-friendly Rhone varietal wines with fruit sourced from cooler climate vineyards in Russian River, Santa Barbara, and El Dorado.  Right now my favorites are the ’11 and ’12 Grenache, ’11 Syrah-Mourvedre, and the ’12 Pastoral Blanc blend.  His Grenache Blanc is also always a standout.  See our post on Two Shepherds.

Truchard Vineyards:  Truchard Roussanne from the family estate in Carneros is a consistent winner—the kind of wine that, when you see it on a restaurant menu or on the store shelf, you know you will enjoy and that will go with almost anything you’re eating.  Tony and Jo Ann Truchard are always a delight to visit with at this event.

Skylark Wine Co.:  I always love tasting John Lancaster and Robert Perkins’ red Rhone blends, and their Pinot Blanc is one of my favorite white wines right now.  At last year’s Rhone Rangers, their Syrahs from Knights Valley and Rodgers Creek/Sonoma Coast were highlights at last year’s event.

Qupe:  A Santa Barbara winery whose lineup I wish I tried more often:  Qupe has a standout lineup of Syrahs, and they make a beautiful Marsanne.

Quivira Vineyards and Winery:  As a longtime fan of and member at Quivira in the Dry Creek Valley, I am completely and appropriately biased about this winery.  Recent vintages of their Grenache, Elusive red Rhone blend, and Rose have been superb.  I’m hoping that they’ll be pouring their newest addition, the ’12 Roussanne-Viognier.

Morgan Winery:  This Santa Lucia Highlands producer might be better known for its Pinot Noirs, but Morgan makes terrific Syrahs as well.  At a recent Syrah blind tasting and dinner, the ’10 Tierra Mar was a winning domestic Syrah—bright and tart with beautiful herbal and cola notes.

Kieran Robinson Wines:  Kieran Robinson is assistant winemaker at Jericho Canyon in Calistoga and also makes Syrah sourced from Bennett Valley under his and his wife Kristie’s own label.  Simply put, the ’10 “Le Voyaguer” Syrah is stunning, and very Cote Rotie-like—dark, elegant, earthy, and peppery.  Don’t skip this table.

Domaine Terre Rouge:  Amador County producer Bill Easton makes wonderful Syrahs and red Rhone blends including the popular Tete-a Tete.  The Ascent Syrah is prized, but I prefer the DTR Ranch Estate Syrah from the cooler climate Fiddletown appellation.

David Girard Vineyards:  This Placerville producer always pours delicious Grenache and Mourvedre at this event and sends some of the nicest staff you’ll meet all afternoon.

Clos Saron:  Sierra Foothills winemaker Gideon Beinstock’s Heart of Stone Syrahs and Tickled Pink Rose were standouts for me at last year’s event.  I recently drank the ’07 Heart of Stone Syrah, and though it was wonderful, I wish I had held on to it longer.  Beinstock’s red Rhone wines are made to age a long time.

Campovida:  The Brix Chicks are fans of this Hopland producer.  The Campovida Grenache Rose is on one of my favorite Roses in the last couple of years and shouldn’t be missed if the Campovida team is pouring it at this event.

Again, there are still tickets available for the Grand Tasting tomorrow.  Use discount code GT-20 for $15 off the Grand Tasting ticket.

01 March, 2014

Join our #womenwinemakers Tweetup, March 5th, 2014

In honor of the upcoming International Women's Day 2014 we women wine-lovers are celebrating women winemakers.

The premise is simple: Grab a bottle of wine made by a women winemaker, taste it and tweet about it using the #womenwinemakers hashtage. Let's show these talented winemakers how much we love and appreciate the beautiful work they do!

There are many women winemakers to love but if you can't think of any off the top of your noggin here are some resources to get you started:






Please spread the word and repost this on your favorite social media spot. We really appreciate it.

11 February, 2014

Lis Neris at Tre Bicchieri - 2/13/2014 Ft Mason

I was lucky enough to visit the Lis Neris winery in the town of Gorizia in the FVG (Friuli-Venzia-Giulia) region of Italy on my past trip to Friuli (more about planning your trip here)   So I am excited to get to try their wines again at the upcoming Tre Bicchieri event at Fort Mason in San Francisco this week. If you are in the SF Bay area, make plans to go.  If you have one of these events coming near you, attend as there is never enough time to learn about Italian wine and the more you try, the more you will want to try.

 In the picture on the left, which I pulled from the Lis Neris gallery, you will see the snow covered Alps and the lovely vines. You can see the tower in the distance visually denoting history and its ebbs and flows.

 Standing in those vineyards and actually feeling the cooling (chilling, hypothermia inducing...) winds was a thrilling experience.  However, full disclosure, I was also thrilled by the Italian vineyard signs, right. --->

One of the most northern spots in Friuli, Lis Neris is 80 km from the Italian Alps and 3km from Slovenia.  The valley was formed when glaciers receded from the Alps, excavating a road to the ocean and leaving small round stones in their wake.  This poor soil dotted with rocks forms part of a great recipe Nature concocted for fresh, delicious White wines. [Farther west they do have vineyards that concentrate on red varieties]

The other part is the climate.  Hot.  Very hot in summer, with cooling winds that can lower the average 32 - 35 temp by 15 degrees. Celsius of course.  It's Europe.  This diurnal swing helps bring freshness and elegance to the wines.  Our little group shivered in the chilly winter air.

Much more fun to huddle for warmth and actually try to the wine:
2011 Gris, Lis Neris:
2011 was a hot year.  This wine is made from 100% pinot grigio.  It has lovely fragrance of stone fruit and exotic citrus, I thought was like Buddha's Hand. Made in simple, traditional style meant to "capture the fruit in a photo".  A more prosaic description of that can be found in the technical notes: "Fermentation takes place in 500-litre French oak barrels at 22-24°C,  followed by maturation  on the fine lees in the same barrels for 10/11 months, with frequent b√Ętonnage. The wine is cellared for 8 months after bottling." 
 Gris means "crickets". We agreed with that branding since the wine expressed a sprightly, friendly quality.  We also tried the 2007, which had developed tropical fruit notes and a creamy mouthfeel.

 Lis Neris comes from  Roman words meaning "black ladies".  It has been owned by the Pecorari family since 1879, but underwent a Renaissance of its own in 1981 when the Pecorari family focused on creating white wines of quality.  Their focus on the future also runs to practical sustainability.  Evidence of this focus can be found in that the estate produces all its energy via solar panels.

If you are attending the Tre Bicchieri events, be sure to stop by Lis Neris and enjoy some history in a glass.
 See you there!

And of course, we highly recommend visiting the enchanting, history rich and easy to plan Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region where Lis Neris is located.  More info about visiting here