22 June, 2013

2011 Grow Wines Chardonnay: A Great Napa Wine

In the “better-late-than-never” category, this post was intended for #ChardonnayDay. In late May, I popped into one of my favorite local Napa wine bars—Oxbow Wine Merchant—and asked for whatever local Chardonnay they were pouring—in this case, the 2011 Grow Wines Ruhl Vineyard, Mount Veeder Chardonnay (14.4% ABV. $24/bottle at Oxbow Wine Merchant).  The wine had a fresh smell of Meyer lemons with the slimmest hint of oak and a delightfully tart, lively, lemon-bar start with an herbaceous and vanilla middle and finish.  As the wine warmed in the glass, vanilla and petrol became more apparent in the finish and had more baked cookies on the nose.  The wine is fresh, light-bodied, and slightly creamy.

According to their website, Grow Wines makes Chardonnay to match “the fresh foods and mild summer climate of Sweden.”  Husband and wife winemakers Lars Bjorkman and Molly Hill grow their Chardonnay (Dijon Clone 76) in Ruhl Vineyard in the southern-most part of Mt. Veeder, just above the fog line, near Carneros, where the vines get cool breezes off the San Pablo Bay.  With no malolactic fermentation and a lengthy aging on the lees, this Chardonnay is more Burgundian than Californian in style—but more than welcome to pair with the bounty of California midsummer foods. I intend to seek out more of it this summer.  Cheers, Grow Wines!

21 June, 2013

Judgment of Sonoma: What are YOU doing for Bastille day?

"Marcia.  Marcia.  Marcia." complained Jan Brady.

Napa. Napa Napa. May be a refrain your friends and neighbors similarly whine.  If you know the delights of Sonoma, Mendocino, etc, here is a way to schedule your own throwdown without lifting a finger to plan.  The Press Democrat has done all the work for you:

See? Of the nearly 1000 entries, a mere 13% earned the best of the best from the esteemed judging panel.  So you can see for yourself and bring along your skeptical posse to convince them or maybe be convinced in your turn.  Discovery is always fun!

And what better day than Bastille Day?  July 14th will be here sooner than you think, so set up a fun activity
now by getting your tickets here

And to determine the Designated Driver ('cause you'll need one and their tix are only $35!) Might I suggest "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock"
Okay, you might have to be a Big Bang Theory style-genius to figure all that out, but celebrating Bastille Day at The North Coast Wine Challenge is a no brainer. 

All of these wines achieved both Gold Medal status, and 90 points or higher from a distinguished panel of judges led by eight-time Winemaker of the Year, Daryl Groom.

Your ticket to this first-ever event includes access to the 100+ winning wines and delicious bites from North Coast artisan food purveyors. Meet the winemakers and judges, taste The Best of The Best, all in a setting of bucolic splendor at Shone Farm in Forestville (the agricultural campus of Santa Rosa J.C., 20 minutes west of town).

BONUS: If you convince 9 of your friends to go (you know those slackers need your party planning expertise) you can all qualify for discount tix!

Forget Paris! We've got Sonoma!

Where: SRJC Shone Farm, 7450 Steve Olson Lane , Forestville, CA 95436

When: Sunday, July 14, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM (PDT)

Many thanks to our friends at BevMo for presenting!

See you there

Here's your chance to taste these award-winning wines:
I have highlighted some of our favorites:

Archimedes, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, 96 points
Midsummer Cellars, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Cannon Creek Vineyard, 96 points
Sbragia Family Vineyards, 2009 Wall Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Single Vineyard, 96 points
J. Keverson, 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, 95 points
St. Anne's Crossing Winery, 2006 Schuhart Cabernet Sauvignon, 95 points
Silenus, 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 95 points
Beaulieu Vineyard, 2009 Georges de Latour, Private Reserve, 93 points
Cole Bailey Vineyards, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Cole Bailey Vineyards, Redwood Valley, 92 points
de Lorimier Winery, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Warm Springs, 91 points
Louis M. Martini, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, 91 points
Shooting Star, 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, 91 points
Dutton-Goldfield, 2011 Chardonnay, Dutton Ranch-Rued Vineyard, Single Vineyard, 96 points
Krutz Family Cellars, 2011 Chardonnay, Martenelli Road, 96 points
Francis Ford Coppola Director's Cut, 2011 Chardonnay, 95 points
Roche, 2011 Chardonnay French Oak Reserve - Barrel Reserve, 94 points
Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2011 Sonoma County Chardonnay, 94 points
Roche, 2011 Chardonnay American Oak Reserve, Barrel Reserve, 93 points
Thirty-Seven, 2010 Chardonnay, 92 points
Wattle Creek, 2011 Chardonnay, 92 points
Balletto, 2012 Teresa's Chardonnay, Estate, 91 points
Cache Creek Vineyards, 2011 Reserve Chardonnay, Estate Grown, Family Owned, 90 points
Gallo Signature Series, 2011 Chardonnay, 90 points
Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery, 2011 Chardonnay, Russian River Selection, 90 points

Navarro Vineyards, 2012 Gewurztraminer, Late Harvest, 97 points
Stephen & Walker, 2012 Botrytis Chardonnay, 93 points
Ceja Vineyards, 2009 Dulce Beso, Late Harvest Dessert Wine, 92 points
Pedroncelli, 2008 Four Grapes Vintage Port, 90 points

Mossback, 2011 Pinot Noir, 98 points
Trombetta Family Wines, 2011 Pinot Noir, Gap's Crown Vineyard, Vineyard Selection, 98 points
Davis Bynum Winery, 2011 Jane's Vineyard, Single Vineyard Pinot Noir, 97 points
Balletto, 2011 Pinot Noir, Estate Grown & Bottled, 95 points
Papapietro Perry, 2010 Pinot Noir, Nunes Vineyard, 95 points
Handley, 2010 Pinot Noir Mendocino, 95 points
James Family Cellars, 2011 Pinot Noir, Stony Point Vineyard, Estate Grown, 94 points
MacMurray Ranch, 2011 Pinot Noir, 94 points
Sivas-Sonoma, 2010 Pinot Noir, 94 points
Trecini, 2011 Pinot Noir, Vicini Vineyard, Estate Vineyard, 94 points
Davis Family Vineyards, 2011 Pinot Noir - Horseshoe Bend, 93 points
Sequana, 2010 Pinot Noir, Dutton Ranch, Single Vineyard, 93 points
Cult, 2009 Pinot noir, 92 points
Robin K, 2011 Pinot Noir, Barrel Aged, 92 points
Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, 2010 Pinot Noir, Estate, 91 points
Ancient Oak Cellars, 2010 Pinot Noir, Siebert Ranch, Estate Bottled & Produced, 90 points
HKG Estates, 2011 Pinot Noir, Hop Kiln Vineyards, Estate Grown, 90 points
Masút, 2011 Pinot Noir, Block 7, 90 points
Masút, 2011 Pinot Noir, Block 1, 90 points
Kokomo, 2012 Grenache Rosé , Pauline's Vineyard, Estate, 98 points
Lula, 2012 Rosato, Comptche, 95 points
Wattle Creek, 2012 Rosé of Pinot Noir, 95 points
Naughty Boy, 2012 Dry rosé, Naughty Boy Vineyard, 100% Organically Grown Grapes, 94 points
River Road Family Vineyards and Winery, 2012 Rosé of Pinot Noir, 93 points
Balletto, 2012 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Estate, 90 points
Sivas-Sonoma, 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, 98 points
The Girls in the Vineyard, 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Rooster Vineyard, 95 points
Vinoce, 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, 95 points
Windsor Oaks Vineyards & Winery, 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Rooster Vineyard, Estate Grown, Produced and Bottled, 95 points
J. Rickards Winery, 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Croft Vineyard, 94 points
Imagery Estate Winery, 2011 Wow Oui, 94 points
Hanna Winery & Vineyards, 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, 93 points
Crocker & Starr, 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, 92 points
Chacewater, 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, 90 points
Artesa, 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, 90 points
Longboard Vineyards, 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, 90 points
Solle Wines, 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Sexy Rexy, 90 points

Breathless Wines, NV Brut, 98 points
Gloria Ferrer, 2008 Brut Rose, 95 points
Gloria Ferrer, 2001 Carneros Cuvee, 95 points
Amista Vineyards, NV Blanc de Blanc, Morningsong Vineyard, 91 points

Red Car, 2010 Sonoma Coast Syrah, 94 points
White Oak Vineyards & Winery, 2009 Syrah, 93 points
Trek Wine, 2010 Syrah, 91 points

DeLoach Vineyards, 2010 Russian River Valley Zinfandel, 96 points
Kokomo, 2010 Zinfandel, Timber Crest Vineyard, Estate, 96 points
Starkey's Court, 2010 Zinfandel, Pedrazzini Family Vineyard, 96 points
B.R. Cohn, 2010 Zinfandel, Barrel Aged, 95 points
de Lorimier Winery, 2010 Zinfandel, Harris Kratka Vineyard, 95 points
Pech Merle Winery, 2010 Zinfandel, Cuccuio Vineyard, 95 points
Rancho Zabaco, 2011 Zinfandel, Reserve, 95 points
Navarro Vineyards, 2011 Zinfandel, 94 points
Rancho Zabaco, 2011 Zinfandel, Heritage Vines, Heritage Series, 94 points
Navarro Vineyards, 2011 Zinfandel, Old Vine, 94 points
Ottimino, 2010 Zinfandel, Biglieri, 94 points
Pezzi King, 2010 Zinfandel, Estate Row 26, 94 points
Wilson Winery, 2010 Zinfandel, Duetto, Estate Grown and Produced, 94 points
Frei Brothers Reserve, 2011 Zinfandel, 93 points
Kokomo, 2011 Zinfandel, Pauline's Vineyard, Estate, 93 points
St. Anne's Crossing Winery, 2010 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, 93 points
Hauck Cellars, 2010 Zinfandel, Treborce, 92 points
Hughes Family Vineyards, L.L.C, 2009 Zinfandel, Wild Turkey Vineyard, Signature Reserve, 92 points Millerick Road, 2011 Zinfandel, Millerick Road, 92 points
Napa Cellars, 2011 Zinfandel, 92 points
Russian River Vineyards, 2010 Zinfandel Sack Vineyard, 91 points

Handley, 2012 Pinot Gris, 93 points
Husch, 2012 Chenin Blanc, 92 points
Navarro Vineyards, 2011 Gewurztraminer, Estate Bottled, 92 points
Steele Wines, 2012 Viognier, 92 points
Hagafen, 2012 White Riesling, Devoto Ranch, 91 points
Balletto, 2012 Pinot Gris, Estate Grown & Produced, 90 points

Beaulieu Vineyard, 2009 Tapestry, Reserve, 98 points
Trecini, 2009 Merlot, 97 points
Pech Merle Winery, 2010 Cab Franc, 96 points
Shed Horn Cellars, Non Typical, 2010 Red Blend, 96 points
Deering Wines, 2009 Ideal "A Better Red", 95 points
Parducci, 2009 True Grit Petite Sirah, 95 points
Forchini Vineyards & Winery, 2010 BeauSierra Bordeaux Blend, Estate Grown & Bottled, 95 points
Bordigioni Family Winery, 2008 Estate Blend, Annadel Estate, Estate Wine, 95 points
Carol Shelton Wines, 2009 Rockpile Reserve Petite Sirah, Rockpile Vineyard, Reserve, 94 points
Estate 1856, 2010 Cabernet Bordeaux Blend, 94 points
Francis Ford Coppola Director's Cut, 2010 Cinema, 93 points
Silenus, 2010 Merlot, 93 points
Writer's Block, 2011 Malbec, 93 points
Leveroni Vineyards, 2010 Merlot, Moon Valley Vineyard, 93 points
Wattle Creek, 2010 Triple Play, 93 points
Dry Creek Vineyard, 2009 The Mariner ( Meritage Red Wine ), 93 points
Roth Estate, 2010 Heritage, 92 points
Mill Creek Vineyards, 2009 Merlot, 91 points
Girasole Vineyards, 2010 Hybrid Red, Estate Organically Grown Grapes, 90 points
Paradise View, 2009 Tolay, 90 points


20 June, 2013

Vinoteca 6th Annual "Get a Taste" - This Saturday 6/22/13

I am so excited that BrixChicks sold a dinner at our St. Martin De Porrres Gala.  We Chicks have been plotting and pairing all week for our event.   I just realized I have to miss something super fun.  Sigh. My good works sometimes get in the way.   Like this Saturday when the Vinify winemakers and 10 additional small production winemakers are pouring and partying at the 6th Annual "Get a Taste event. 
More wine for you! 
Amazing QPR for only $20
And the Riedel glasses you get to keep are back!  

This year Vinoteca is going all out with an even more delicious menu of accompanying snacks:

So your lunch will be covered! Then the wine is even more mouth watering:

Who's pouring, you ask?

 2012 Slang Rosé
2012 "Anonymous" White Wine
2009 "Distance" Red Wine

2012 Rosé, Sonoma Coast
2009 Pinot Noir, Ramondo Vyd, Sonoma Coast
2010 Sonoma Coast Cuvée Syrah
2009 Syrah, Estate Vineyard, Sonoma Coast

BJØRNSTAD CELLARS 2009 Chardonnay, Sonoma County
2008 Chardonnay, Barbed Oak Vineyard, Bennett Valley
2009 Pinot Noir, Hellenthal Vineyard,Sonoma Coast
2009 Pinot Noir, van der Kamp Vineyard, Sonoma Mountain

CALLUNA VINEYARDS 2010 Calluna Vineyard Cuvée, Chalk Hill 2010 Merlot "Aux Raynauds", Chalk Hill 2009 Calluna Estate, Chalk Hill

2010 Pinot Noir, Roma's Vyd, Anderson Valley
2011 Pinot Noir, Londer Vineyard,Anderson Valley
2011 Pinot Noir, Monument Tree,Anderson Valley -- rated 93 points

All less than 250 case productions! 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County 2012 Rosé, North Coast 2010 Isa (skin-fermented white wine) 2010 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

DESMOND WINES - Estate Grown Pinot Noirs! 2009 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 2010 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 2011 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley


All new releases!

2012 Kismet (Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon), Bennett Valley
2011 Chardonnay, Bennett Valley
2011 Pinot Noir, Bennett Valley

2012 Rosé, Sonoma County
2011 Laura's Cuvée (Rousanne/Marsanne), Russian River Valley
2011 Pinot Noir, Celia's Cuvée,Russian River Valley
2011 Pinot Noir, Umino Vineyard,
Sonoma Coast

2008 Syrah, Unti Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley – rated 90 points!
2009 Pinot Noir, Manchester Ridge Vineyard, Mendocino – rated 92 points!
2009 Syrah, Alder Springs Vineyard, Mendocino – rated 92+ points!
2009 Milla's Blend, North Coast –rated 92 points!

2011 Pfendler Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast – rated 91 points!
2011 Pfendler Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast – rated 94 points!


STRAIGHT LINE WINE 2011 Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Tempranillo – rated 90 points by Wine & Spirits Magazine! 2011 Syrah


2010 Chardonnay, Alder Springs Vyd, Mendocino
2010 Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, The Shizzle,Napa Valley -- rated 90 points!

WESTERHOLD FAMILY VINEYARDS 2009 Syrah, Bennett ValleyI can't believe I can;t go!  But if you can make plans to attend do. Vinify Winery is the custom crush facility where a lot of the boutique producers who serve at Vinoteca create their magic elixirs.

So make plans to attend:

WHEN: June 22nd Saturday 12 - 4

WHAT: Vinify's Get a taste!
Vinify Winery
3358 Coffey Lane,Suite D
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

When you go, tweet me @brixchick_liza to brag!

03 June, 2013

Searching for Roark - my visit to Hotel San Rocco,Vertiniglio, Istria, Croatia

Tullio Fernetich
Searching for Roark was the title of an unfinished romance novel a friend of mine threatened to write. The premise was... well, it was a romance novel so you can pretty much guess the rest. Except that she had an interesting voice and the character of Roark was well developed enough that we all started searching for him as a romantic ideal. He was a guy worth wearing a kirtle for. I hadn't thought of Roark in years, until I visited the Hotel San Rocco in Istria. Lovely stone everywhere, fabulous hospitality and history baked into the walls, the Hotel San Rocco is a wonderful place to stay while you are looking for a hero.

Our hero during our visit was Tullio Fernetich who restored an old family property. Tullio brings a sense of history to his elegant hotel and sees it as
 continuing, and sharing, his family tradition, as well as positioning the place to continue as his children take up the reins. You will not find better more comfortable accommodations or more warmth and charm. Every time we turned around we were offered rich, fragrant espresso, hot and bitter.

We first turned up late at night with our small herd of clattering wheelie bags and giggles that were less than discreet having partaken extensively of the wine at Batelina. No matter. We were greeted and attended to immediately. Once escorted to my room, I marvelled at the comfortable furnishings, the quiet and stone walls. I covet those old stones, having always lived in Northern California where nothing is that old and seismic activity the norm. These particular walls telegraphed a sense of history. The town of Brtonigla is built on the ruins of an ancient fortress. It is mentioned as an important wine making region as far back as 1234. That's history!

From the staff, I got a sense of wonderful hospitality. Since so many spoke German, I would venture "gemuetlichkeit", that perfect word for comfort and ease. Especially the wonderful server who only smiled as we cobbled our orders from our American scraps of French, Italian and German , and got exactly the right caffeine for each intrepid explorer. Our busy itinerary did not let us do more than investigate the Wellness/Spa. Treatments include materials collected from the award winning Olive Oil production and the space is one where rejuvenation seems possible. Definitely a reason to go back.

After an active day of Istrian exploration, we returned to experience a delicious immersion in Istrian cuisine at the San Rocco Restaurant. Specialities change daily, but use freshly caught local fish, seasonal local ingredients like wild asparagus, and truffles. Wonderful Istrian truffles.  Of course, accompanied by perfectly matched local wines. More than 200 are available and at the disposal of the expertly trained staff.  It wins prizes every year and is a member of the Jeunes Restorateurs d' Europe thanks to the efforts of Fernetich son, Teo.

The Hotel consists of 13 rooms with doubles and the Cavalier suite, which is an amazing space
on two levels with over 50 meters of privacy and luxury, not to mention a fabulous view over the olive groves to the sea. All the rooms are lovely and incorporate details in wood, stone and wrought iron to evoke local tradition. It has won best boutique hotel every year since 2007.

It's a wonderful place to check out in your search for true and perfect love, and an even better place to celebrate if you have already located that.   

Roark, if you're reading, see you at the San Rocco!

Many thanks to the Istrian Tourist Board for selecting this wonderful property and hosting our visit.