21 May, 2010

Vinify WInery Collective THis Sunday!

Looking for something fun and weather proof this Sunday?  Here is your answer!
Vinify Wine Services/Collective is a state of the art custom crush facility located in Santa Rosa that houses some of the best boutique winemakers in Sonoma County. Our member wineries produce wines from highly acclaimed vineyards all over the North Coast representing over 12 varietals. Join us on Sunday, May 23rd and preview 40+ wines presented in Riedel stemware (yours to keep).

Winemakers and owners will be showcasing their wines and are available to answer all of your questions and educate you in order to make informed purchasing decisions. Some of our wineries are hot, up and comers (that's PR hot not malt liquor hot) while others are established, reputable brands producing highly allocated, quality wines, many of which are sold exclusively direct from each winery.

You can get tickets here

A generous spread of cheeses and other tasty wine treats will be provided.

Some of the participating wineries include:

Baker Lane

Bevan Cellars

Bjornstad Cellars

Lattanzio Winery

Pfendler Vineyards

Sojourn Cellars

Westerhold Family Vineyards

Calluna Vineyard

Jemrose Vineyard

Barbed Oak Vineyards

Claypool Cellars

Desmond Wines

Frostwatch Vineyard and Winery

Olsen Ogden Wines

Gracianna Winery

Cinque Insieme Wines

Suacci Carciere Wines

Audelssa Winery

Blagden Wine

Drive in the rain to drink OlsenOgden? Hells ya!  See you there!

18 May, 2010

There's an App for that - Preview of food pairing experience at Newsome-Harlow

With a chill in the air and a song in our hearts, several intrepid bloggers ventured to Springtime Murphys, a rapidly evolving food and wine destination town in Calaveras County.  If you have never been there, a treat is waiting for you! My favorite wine club, Twisted Oak (see if you can spot me in the pirate/wench group shot!) is there.  But since I have been visiting them for the super fun Goings On,  I have discovered additional atttractions that keep me coming back.  Scott and Mel from Newsome-Harlow, generously previewed their food and wine pairing offering, "There's an App for That..." so that visitors to the tasting room can experience new dimensions to the wine by tasting it with expertly paired appetizer portions. 
We started out with some lovely whites, a Sauvignon Blanc and an amazing bone dry Muscat.  Both had lovely aromas and flavors.

With the reds, the pairing began in earnest.  First up was the
2007 Calaveras County “Train Wreck” Red Wine: a red blend (46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Syrah, 10% Petite Sirah) with a gorgeous dark color, lively fruity and spice aromas and nice balance.  It was paired with a cocoa/coffee/Siagon Cinnamon rubbed Tritip.  The robustness of the wine was delicious with the grilled meat.  Spices in the rub picked up flavors in the wine.  Yum!
2007 Calaveras County Zinfandel: Lovely dark rich Zin which paired perfectly with the Mozzarella Stuffed Meatball.  Notes of fennel in the wine were matched with notes of fennel in the sauce
2007 Dalton Syrah: Paired with a Savory Cheesecake of Polenta and Gorgonzola, I was so overcome I just noted, "amazing pair"
2007 Petite Sirah: Using fruit from both the Dalton and El Portal vineyards, Newsome Harlowe produces an inky, perfumey wine with lush tannins paired with an extravagantly delicious Chocolate Lavender Tart. 

All in all an informative survey of the wines and what to pair them with.  I asked Melanie what tips she had for us at home on successful pairings.  She said to start with the wine and an open mind.  Taste the wine for flavor elements, for example "blueberry".  Then imagine the food back in.  Think what you would put with the components you identify if it was the actual ingredient.  Select ingredients that complement the scale of the wine.  Don't put a big, bold wine with ingredients or elements that are out of scale.  Imagine.  Experiment.  Improve.  Good advice from a gifted chef!

After being treated to that fabulous lesson, I can only hope they add it to the permanent offering!

To find out more and to plan your visit, check here:
Or if you are looking for something to do this weekend consider
Calaveras Passport Weekend.  For more on this and other great wine happenings in NorCal and beyond check out Norcal Wine:

17 May, 2010

The Magic of Jordan Winery

                                          For me, the magic of Jordan was that their story started with a love story.  Nestled in the pastoral hills of the Alexander Valley, the Jordan winery is a lovely property whose chateau was inspired by the great castles of Normandy, but adapted to sit naturally into the California landscape.  Three quarters of the estate's land is still untouched with original oak trees, with the gorgeous fruit to produce the focused offerings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay growing on the rest.  The winery comes from Tom Jordan's love of all things French, especially wine. Tom's family values included a deep love of quality and passion for producing wine that will delight a table full of guests as well as be a responsible and sucessful commercial concern.  He started Jordan in 1972.  In 2005, his son John Jordan, took over.   I attended a blogger's lunch as a guest of the Jordan Winery and got the chance to experience firsthand the amazing hospitality the team delivers.  In our case we were greeted by John Jordan himself.  In speaking with him about his diverse background, he made it clear that what he loves to do is match passion with tasks, so that he fosters harmony within the Jordan community in order to bring the best of the best forward.  I can tell you, it shows.  If you are planning a visit, take the extra steps to reserve a spot on one of the tours.  You will love it!   We were lucky enough to get a special VIP lunch, which included vertical pairings.  Yum!  Chef Todd Knoll dazzled us with a Mero Seabass and Tasmanian Salmon, which were accompanied by fresh picked peas and ramps.  Paired with the 2005, 2007 and 2008 Chardonnays, it was a delicious match. Ramps are an onion relative and their tender, savory flavor seasoned the perfect fish and were interesting with all three of the whites.  Chardos tend not to be my favorite, but these were bright, layered, intriguiging,and ---of course--- super food friendly.  Course Two was Grilled Sonoma Lamb with Carrots, Fava, Morels and Black Garlic Jus. This dish was simply out of this world.  Perfectly cooked, spiced and seasoned lamb along with all things fresh from the Chef's Garden, including Fava blossoms, which I had never seen before and were delightful.  Bonus: gorgeous, elegant lovely Cabernets, for which I have not the least bit of ambivalence.  Excelllent! 

My notes on the Cabs were:
1999 - Lovely complex nose, red currants, berries, prune, cherries, a touch of licorice with gentle tannins and meltingly lovely flavors. 
2005 - Lots more aromas of blue fruit, more pronounced Bordeaux-like characteristics.
2007 - Yummy wine that brought out the Wine Cougar in me as the 07 was my favorite of the 3.  Scrappier tannins and interesting flavors.  Simply wonderful all.

After that it was a tour of the gardens, house (including secret passage ways), earthquake proof barrel room and a dessert course of surpassing delight including botrytised wine!  YUM!  At every touch point, the passion of all of the Jordan team members for their mission as well as the deliciousness of their vision was clear. 

So, the visit started with the love story of the Jordans, Mr. Jordan Sr.'s with France and wine making as a business,  and  also, John's love for what he does and for bringing passion for the artistry of wine and the art of hospitality.  For me, it ended with a total crush on Jordan wine and the Jordan experience.  Whether you are ordering Jordan in your favorite restaurant, looking for a reliable hostess gift at Safeway or making plans to visit the estate yourself, the focused quality, passion and (best of all) deliciousness will shine through.  Many thanks to Lisa Mattson for all her hard work to organize a lovely event!  Thanks!

13 May, 2010

The Santa Lucia Highlands Spring Fling! And the "Hahn Blogger's Block Reunion!"

The 4th annual Santa Lucia Highlands Fling is taking place this Saturday, May 15th, at Hahn Family Estates. The most famous producers from the Santa Lucia Highlands will be on hand to pour their Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and Syrahs from this much vaunted appellation in Monterey County. We will be tasting wines from Hahn (including their SLH and Lucienne brands), August West, Belle Glos, Boekenoogen, Cru, Hahn, Hope & Grace, La Rochelle, Lucienne, Manzoni, Martin Alfaro, McIntyre, Mer Soleil, Morgan, Novy, Paraiso, Pelerin, Pessagno, Pey-Lucia, Pisoni, Puma Road, Roar, Sequana, Siduri, Talbott, Testarossa, Tondre, Tudor, and Wrath… Go to www.santaluciahighlands.com to purchase a ticket.

Thanks to Hahn Estates the Brix Chicks and other bloggers have come to know this apellation well. In fact Hahn has devoted an entire block of Pinot vines to some of us lucky bloggers. Last June our group converged upon the winery and planted the root stalks that we hope will eventually grow into healthy, productive Pinot Noir fruit! The pictures below show the vineyard and Dr. Xeno's growing vine in Winter of 2010. This Saturday we are going to check on our "babies" and we will certainly be sharing our updates with you via Twitter and Facebook.

The "Bloggers Block" from afar, at Hahn Estates Vineyards.

The Blogger's Block. We planted Pinot Noir Clone 828 which originates from Burgundy.

"Dr. Xeno's" baby. One of the vines that really took off!

02 May, 2010

Get your "groove" on at Austria Uncorked

Gruner Veltliner. A dry white wine from Austria. Many love it with seafood or Asian cuisine. Many Austrians love it with schnitzel. Come and try it for yourself. You will find that it will slake your thirst for a chilled, crisp white wine on the beautiful, warm day we will be having in San Francisco tomorrow.