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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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30 October, 2014

What to Drink this Halloween? Think German Wine!


Buying Halloween candy early is not something I recommend.  I can't be trusted with candy, you see.  So I always rush out a the last minute to buy.  I usually pick up something fun to "pair". 

This year thanks to Wines of Germany,  I previewed some tasty samples with a small assortment of candy (not the pounds of Mars- made deliciousness I scored at Costco and left in the garage)

At their suggestion I tried Spaetburgunder with licorice.  I like how the candy bumped up the red fruit character of the wine, while the acid in the wine tamped down the rampant sweetness of the licorice.  I also tried it with the salted caramel truffle and was pleased with the peanut butter and jelly riff the two played together.

2010 Franz Anton Spaetburgunder, Baden ($25):
Light in color, this Pinot Noir based wine packs a restrained and elegant punch.  The consonant laden name belies a tart and interesting Pinot Noir with nice acidity and a character of red fruit with interesting herbal notes.  The suggested pairing is game bird, but I found it surprisingly tasty with Halloween Candy

Of course Riesling goes with everything and the all weather delight of the Selbach fish went as easily with Pez as with licorice as with the suggested nougatty candy.  It's not always easy to pair with chocolate but the creamy milk chocolate truffles, with their salted toffee chips was a good match

2013 Selbach "Fish" Riesling, Kabinett, Mosel ($14)
This cheerful wine is slightly sweet and silky.  It is a holiday standby for me as even non-wine drinkers enjoy it and it goes with everything.  Put it with spicy Asian food...yes the kind you can grab in  a pinch and it's a hit.  If you grab this to go with your second batch of Halloween candy, you will be delighted

But the most perfect match for the candy and your holiday festivities is the 2013 Moselland "Black Cat" Riesling ($14)

Fresh and fruity with hints of stone fruit and an easy going nature, what hostess wouldn't be delighted by the cat shaped bottle?  Orange and black cats contain the same wine

I had the chance to visit Moselland's facility and was awed by the size of it.  The wonderful folks who toured us around were friendly and showed us the large tanks farms and the ueber-modern bottling plants.  But the fibreglas tanks told the story of the longevity of the place.  While you can look out at some of Mosel's famous vineyards from its windows, Moselland strives to aggregate German fruit and put together more entry level offerings.  Clean Slate Riesling, a perennial BevMo favorite of mine, is also made there.

But for Halloween, head to CostPlus WorldMarket grab some décor and some Riesling Cats and make it a party!

Halloween. Or just make your favorite crazy cat lady happy!



18 August, 2014

From DEVO to Wino - The Evolution of Gerald Casale

Back in the days of Punk, New Wave and 80’s synth pop I was a huge fan of DEVO and their driving synthesized beats carrying tunes of social de-evolution and political angst. So when I was invited to meet Gerald (Jerry) Casale, one of the founding fathers of DEVO, I jumped at the chance to chat with him and taste his wines at the McLoughlin Gallery in San Francsiso. Gerald Casale is not only a member of that iconic band but he now owns a Napa Valley winery and is resurrecting a design from the prominent 20th century German architect Mies Vander Rohe to be his tasting room in Napa Valley.





Are we not men? We are Pinot. Casale with his current releases.


How does a boy from Akron, OH, a former Kent State student and rock icon, grow up to be the proprietor of a winery in Napa Valley? As DEVO became popular they decided to move to Los Angeles in the 80s for better opportunities and the Mediterranean climate. It was during that time that Jerry began his education in food and wine. He got to know the celebrity chefs of Santa Monica at that time including Bruce Marder, Jeramiah Tower, Michael McCarty and Wolfgang Puck, all innovators of “California Cuisine.” Jerry called them the “New Wave Chefs” and Devo has certainly been labelled as a “New Wave” band. He began as a lover of big Cabs but throughout his career Jerry had been exposed to some of the great wines of the world, Pinot Noir in particular (DRC anyone?)and Jerry is a self-professed “Pinot Junkie” who took a special liking to that fickle grape. And his love of wine kept growing until it became a reality for him in the form of his own winery.



The 50 by 50 Estate tasting room



Casale’s winery is called The 50 by 50 which is taken from a Mies Vander Rohe design. It is unique in that you get an uninterrupted 360 degree panoramic view of the gorgeous estate as you survey it from the tasting room. The property is located in Napa in a small valley called Wooden Valley which is southeast of the Atlas Peak AVA. Although the tasting room is still being built the vines of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot have all been planted and we will be able to experience the fruits of his labor in about 5 years.

In the meantime Jerry has released two wines under The 50 by 50 label. He has contracted Kenn Vigoda, winemaker at Napa winery Judd’s Hill custom crushpad facility, to make his wines. As we wait for the Bordeaux varietals to grow Casale has released two Pinot Noirs. The fruit for both Pinots is sourced from the Rodger’s Creek Vineyard, a cool-climate site located between Petaluma and Sonoma in the Sonoma Coast AVA. They are each a 50/50 blend of the Pommard clone and the Dijon 667 clone.



The 50 by 50 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2012 has aromas of dark red fruits and spices, is medium-bodied and has silky palate bursting with strawberry and tart cherry notes.
Song to pair: “Girl U Want” (but replace “Girl” with “Pinot”)








The 50 by 50 Sonoma Coast Rose of Pinot Noir 2013 is a crisp and dry Rose with notes of red berries and melon with a smooth texture and mouthwatering acidity.
Song to pair: That’s Good” (This Rose really is a good thing)







Also, check out the very cool 50 by 50 website www.thefiftybyfifty.com where you can learn more and order wine. The wines can also be ordered through www.wallywine.com


A new use for your flowerpot hat.


**On a different note: DEVO is still touring. Jerry’s brother and fellow bandmate Bob Casale, died suddenly this past February. To raise money for his family’s medical bills, the original members of DEVO have been touring. I missed their Bay Area appearance at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland on June 28th but here is a link to their upcoming tours: http://clubdevo.com/index.php/tour




08 August, 2014

4th Annual Harvest Festival - A taste of Napa with the Mexican American Vintner Association


Mexico is a fascinating wine region.  @lusciouslushes and I had so much fun researching and presenting for the IWINETC conference (slideshare here:)

Surprise!  Mexico is a region that  has been producing wine since the 1800's.

Mexico itself is a wonderful region to travel in as I found on my sojourn to colonial Mexico, enjoying the ruins of Palenque, the nightlife of Veracruz and the culture of San Cristobal de las Casas.  The art, architecture, history and pace of colonial Mexico is special and inspiring.

For me, Morelia was a place we put a pin on to return to see as we wanted to  attend the music festival they have there.  Meanwhile, Morelia was  scene that inspired several Mexican - America vintners to bond in their common interest of promoting wine and vinopanion-ship in 2010.

Still going strong today, this core group of vintners leverage their collective energies to produce wines of quality with a sabor especial.  Next week, their 4th Annual Harvest festival will take place in Napa, CA.

If you are looking for something fun to do next Saturday, August 16th, this is a great way to try something different and special:
"The wines are amazing and it's one of the very few times of the year you can taste Mexican-American Vintner wines all in one place, many of which are not open to the public and are hard to find. "
Participating MAVA members: 
Alex Sotelo Cellars, Ceja Vineyards, Delgadillo Cellars, Encanto Vineyards LLC, Honrama Cellars, Justicia Wines LLC, Maldonado Family Vineyards, Mario Bazan Cellars, Marita’s Vineyard, Mi Sueño Winery, Renteria Wines, Robledo Family Winery, and Volcan Cellars.


Saturday, August 16, 2014
2:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Renteria Wines’ Brown Ranch Vineyard, 4254 Old Sonoma Road, Napa


Special Advance Tickets are still available at $75/ticket by clicking HERE or visit www.NSMAVA.org or call 707-266-1296
Remaining General Admission Tickets will be $100/ticket
Tickets at the Door will be $125/ticket.

Tickets also include food pairings from Chef Richard Haake and Winery Chefs with live music from Trio Soleá. Join the Silent Auction and Raffle and win limited production wines and winery experiences from the participating wineries!