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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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10 February, 2015

50 Shades of Harvest - 2012 Meritage Napa Valley Red Wine

Fill in the phrase: " Fifty...?"  Chances are with the media blitz going on around us, you answered "...shades of gray."  My book club succumbed, my blogger gal pals are all in and it's in the air it seems.  So when I saw this on my sample shelf, it seemed like the right time to break it out and try it, though it has nothing to do with the movie marketing juggernaut. Although it is  from the Steele Canyon Cellars #Anastasia

In this case less BDSM and more Bordeaux-style blend with my favorite All American moniker: Meritage.  This you will recall is the trademark for wines made in America blended in the style of Bordeaux. American, so it rhymes with "heritage" and has rules of its own.  When you see the designation Meritage, you know the producer is working to invest in quality wines of place.  50 Harvests is no exception.  The Scotto family worked with Mitch Cosentino to make this wine. 

2012 Scotto Cellars 50 Harvests, Meritage, Napa Valley, CA ($50): This wine is made from a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Malbec and 10% Petit Verdot grapes grown and hand harvested in Napa's Oak Knoll district.  Great care was taken including getting the fermentation started within four hours of harvest.  Continuing with that care, the wine was aged 18 months in French Oak then five more months of bottle aging. All the components were fermented separately then combined to make this interesting and well integrated offering

This produced a wine with a lovely dark ruby but reflective color.  I could see its youth in the dark heart and consistent to the rim color.  Aromas straddling the line between vinous and brambly dark fruit also showed anise, chocolate and soy sauce.  The texture was silky and the flavors dark but perfumey with violets in the mid palate, pleasant tannins and a long interesting finish.  It is suggested to hold it till 2020, and could use some patience, but it was nice now.

The Scotto family has been making wine since 1883 starting in Italy.  2012 marks the 50th California harvest for them, so this is a cool and special wine to commemorate their success here in the US.

I wish you luck avoiding the 50-Shades-of -anything onslaught, but here is one "50 Something" you should seek out.

Many thank to Gray Matters Communications for the sample!

03 February, 2015

Save the Date! May 16th, 2015: Santa Lucia Highlands Gala

The Santa Lucia Highlands is a wonderful AVA or American Viticultural Area located within Monterey County, which is about two hours, depending on traffic, by car south of San Francisco.  Monterey itself is an AVA, but the SLH climate, soil and geography are unique enough and qualify it for AVA status on its own.  You can taste the specialness of place in the offerings of its producers.  Poor soils that cause the grapes to struggle, which,  along with the cool maritime influences from beyond the hills to the West, end up making delicious wines.  

The region plants predominately Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but also grows many other varieties including Riesling, Syrah, Pinot Gris and even Souzao, which Paraiso puts in a Port wine.  Lots of delicious wine.  Scroll down, or just click here to buy your tickets

Photo Wagner Family Wines I wonder if those cement eggs are filled with delicious Mer Soleil Silver?

Wine Cougar drained the 2010 first
Santa Lucia Highlands is home to dedicated vintners and growers, some of whom are the one and the same  like panel member Steve McIntyre, he, of the intersting and eponymous Tasting Studio ---wine, spa and shopping: any questions?.  Steve  edu-tained us at the pre-Gala seminar on interesting history of the region and his career path. Fellow panel member  Bill Brosseau of Testarossa Winery, entranced us with his "Grape Whisperer" tales. Bill walks the rows and lives with the fruit to better understand how to coax it into the best wine it can be.  His perspective on Pinot Noir, which derives its tannins from its pips and so must be grown from the inside out, as opposed to Cabernet Sauvignon which is grown from the outside in, since its skins drive it, was as interesting as it was delicious.  We came away laughing and ready to try all the wines.  

Charles Hendricks

Here are some of my favorites:

Hope and Grace:  BrixChicks has been fans of this producer since we first tried the wines years ago.  Then, we were hooked by Sleepy Hollow Vineyard designates, but now Charles Hendricks  uses fruit from the Doctor's Vineyard.  This wine has swaths of red fruit as well as a complex and interesting structure.  They also have a divine Malbec from Napa fruit which is closer to the Yountville tasting room
Hahn Family Wines, SLH, Lucienne  Hahn Family Wines are investing in their SLH winery and making it into a destination.  Culinary tours of their vineyards as well as ATV tours so you can be a daredevil in their vineyards no matter what your fitness level, are waiting for you to explore.  Lucienne draws it name from intersection of Nicky Hahn's middle name as well as a riff on the region's  name itself.  Three vineyards Smith, Doctors and Lone Oak ,are candidates to become Lucinenne.  I have a soft spot in my heart for Smith because its delicious and because I have a vine in the Blogger's block which is in the Smith Vineyard.  Dark, delicious and SLH Pinot Noir.

Hawks View:  I was familiar with this Oregon producer and their tasty Pinot Gris.  So it was fun to meet the team in person and also to taste the Pinot Noirs from SLH these Oregon folks make.  Lovely typicity of the region, with perfumey aromas and complex flavors.  

Mer Soleil: One of my go to wines for gifting, drinking, and ordering in restaurants is the Mer
Photo Wagner Family Wines
Soleil Silver, which comes in a cool (literally ) ceramic bottle.  Completely unoaked, it delivers the crisp morning breezes directly to your palate on float of golden fresh flavor. We also got to try some of the other offerings.  It was nice to see ground zero for wine production.  

Overheard at the last year's Panel discussion when asked about the Ageability of their wines:

Wine: What are you waiting for?  

 If you want the chance to taste all the wines along with some fabulous paired snacks, don't hesitate: They book up!  You don't want to be left without a ticket when they sell out, which they do every year. 
And as a bonus this year, the seminars are Beyond Pinot and Artisan Cheese Summit. The "VIP SLH Experience" ticket is available that includes two pre-Gala seminars: an “Artisan Cheese Summit” and “Beyond Pinot…”  VIPs also get early admission to the main Gala tasting and auction. More than worth it to take a good turn around the room before the crowds arrive.  Hope to see you there!
Buy tickets here:

29 January, 2015

Cultivar Wine Club Dinner with Friends - #CultivarWines

Sysco Foods says, "Enjoy Life. Eat out more often".  Not true.  In fact one of the things I plan to do more of in 2015  is entertain to make quality time for friends and fun.  Thanks to the Cultivar Wine club, I not only had two luxurious and potentially mouthwatering bottles to try, but I also had inspiration from Cultivar's cool blog.  Their theme "How to Host a Horizontal Tasting" sounds super fun, but too much to pull together during hectic back-to-business January.  I will put a pin there as a huge benefit of wine clubs is allowing you to "collect" bottles that enable special tastings #instantpopularity.

On my calendar (in pen), however, was a dinner with wonderful friends.  Perfect! I volunteered to bring my plush bottles. 

First up
Cultivar 2012 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon ($72):
Nice boots!  Nicer wine!

Howell Mountain is a special place in Napa, whose Cabs I adore.  The appellation begins at 1400 feet and the elevation and soils contribute to a microclimate that is "above the fog".  Vineyards can produce fruit which vinifies into a gorgeous balance:  nice acidity and plenty of sugar for that alcohol we all love in the balance we all crave.  The Cultivar wine was almost opaque, and purple in color.  It had aromas of blackberries dusted with cocoa powder, an herbal note of thyme and cedary wood that delighted me.  The flavors followed through with more dark fruits and hints of cocoa.  Smooth mouth feel with well integrated flavors were lovely.  Cultivar recommends that you hold the wine for up to 10 years, which is sound advice, if you have that kind of restraint.  I don't when tempted, and was happy to find the wine accessible now.  Luscious and lovely, which after all is the best pairing for good conversation, isn't it?  We drank this as an aperitif while we waited for everyone to arrive and for the delicious dinner to be ready. 

With our yummy grilled prawns, melted leeks and quinoa salad, we opened up:

Cultivar 2013 Oak Knoll Chardonnay ($28) 
The Oak Knoll District in Napa is located in an area that benefits from the cooling influences of San Pablo Bay, so it's an area that produces cool climate fruit even though Napa is so warm.  This wine had a clear, pale straw color.  Aromas leaped out of the glass of sophisticated tropical fruit with herbal notes. Nice acidity with graceful oak treatment provide subtle, well integrated flavors.  Lingering finish with a kiss of herbs. The notes that come with the shipment made it easier to understand the wine.  I enjoyed the restrained chard better with an enhanced understanding of its journey.

We were all impressed with the Cultivar offerings.  They drank with that same relaxed luxury I associate with really good resort wear: quality, style and a really good fit.   I was so happy to be able to share good taste with great friends.  We are vowing to make time for everyday events.  My Cultivar will help me keep my promise in a delicious way.

If you think you need a touch of luxury in your life, you can leverage a special incentive courtesy of Cultivar for BrixChicks readers.  Please enjoy 10% off when you order online at Cultivar Wine with the promo code " CultivarWineBrixeChicks"

Mid Century Modern Wine Club
Many thanks to Cultivar Wines for providing these samples.