21 March, 2012

Wine Blogging Wednesday - #wbw75 Special, Elusive, Single Vineyard '04 hope & grace, Sleepy Hollow

 With a month to plan, I  kept on opening  single vineyard wines.  Even when a nasty cold kept me from tasting anything but Red fruit?  Wine? I kept opening  them and had some yummy things from yummy places like Saralee's and Stagecoach.  But the one I loved the most is one that if I had gotten a current vintage, I could have snuck in under the guidelines since it is made from fruit from three vineyards within the Santa lucia Highlands AVA: Doctors Vineyard, Hahn Estates, Santa Lucia Highlands fruit. 

But I found tucked away an 2004  the awesome folks at hope & grace had made from a single vineyard;  Robert Talbott’s renowned Sleepy Hollow Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. the 2004 is made from fruit sourced from a small 3 acre parcel within block” A” of the Sleepy Hollow Ranch.  Warm sun, cooling fog, long growing season make this a great area for Pinot Noir. 

For a masterful summary of the AVA, Norcal wine sets it out here: 

If you have the opportunity to try this wine, go for it. Hailing from Monterey county in the Santa Lucia Highlands in a special place called Sleepy Hollow vineyard, Charles Hendricks has been sourcing grapes since 2001 and producing an amazing Pinot. Dark and lovely, with classic Santa Lucia Highlands pinot perfume that emanates from your first dislodging of the cork, the flavors will not disappoint. Plums, pastrami, raspberries. cherry, mocha, vanilla.... It has a gorgeous acidity to make it pair deliciously with many offerings and is lovely by itself.

Charles names the wines after his daughters, Hope and Grace, and the label is a mesmerizing painting that hangs in the tasting room in Yountville, which ties back to his personal touch with fine dining since he acquired it from Modesto Lanzone (I still miss Enoteca Lanzone!), who figures prominently in both the modern art and culinary history of San Francisco.

The  Santa Lucia Highlands consistently produces wonderful wines form wonderful producers.  Weather, geography and love of the land combine It's a very special place as you can see here.  But if  you get a chance, so see for yourself.
If , however, you find yourself in Yountville (ground zero for all that is delicious and good in the world which includes Thomas Keller, Michael Chiarello and Craig Camp) make an effort to visit  hope & grace Tasting Salon
Edward James Courtyard ~ 6540 Washington Street, Yountville, California
Open Monday through Saturday ~ 10:30 am ~ 5:30 pm  and Sundays ~ 11:30 pm ~ 4:30 pm

#WBW75 '07 Quivira Wine Creek Ranch Zinfandel

The Wine Bloging Wednesday Singles Night theme led me to pull out a bottle from a favorite winery: Quivira in the Dry Creek Valley. (I’m a member of Quivira’s wine club and have been a fan ever since I first tasted there over 16 years ago.) One of the winery’s four vineyards, Wine Creek Ranch is a 100% Demeter Certified Organic Biodynamic farm adjacent to the winery on West Dry Creek Road. Because the vineyard is on the western side of Dry Creek Valley, the ’07 Quivira Wine Creek Ranch Zinfandel gets some of its complexity from less direct afternoon sun than the hotter eastern side of Dry Creek Valley where the zins tend toward bigger fruit (like Quivira’s zinfandels from Anderson Ranch). Zinfandels from the western side of the valley tend to show more restrained fruit balanced with earthy, herbal flavors. This zin is no exception. With a spicy nose of pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, eucalyptus, and cranberry, it tastes of blueberry, unripe blackberry, black pepper, dirt, and evergreen woods and has a long chocolate-like finish. The added Petite Sirah (8%) gives the wine structure and a dark purple color and lends a gritty mouthfeel which transports me immediately to the winding, dusty West Dry Creek Road. This zin was absolutely delicious for late evening sipping with friends and would be even better with steak or with fruit and blue cheese. I have two more bottles which I’ll hold on to for a couple more years. Though Quivira has discontinued the Wine Creek Ranch Zinfandel, its ’08 and soon-to-be-released ’09 vintages of “Quest” contain mostly zinfandel from Wine Creek Ranch. The photo is from the Quivira estate, looking west, October 2011. (I’m ready for a spring visit!)

05 March, 2012

Heidi's Napa Appreciation #1: Peju

As a recent transplant to the Napa Valley who typically prefers wines from several other regions, I’ve challenged myself to get over my skepticism and to grow in appreciation for Napa wine, wineries, vineyards, and topography. One of my first Napa “appreciations” came recently when as I ordered dinner at Brix, the server steered me toward the ’07 Peju Napa Valley Merlot because he thought I would enjoy its structure and earthiness with my cheddar cheeseburger. In a few split seconds, I thought, “Huh… Isn’t that the winery on Highway 29 with the fantastical Dr. Seuss-looking trees and blue-green roof? A structured, earthy Merlot from Napa? I have yet to taste such a thing. Sure, I’m game.” It was a great pairing! So, I headed to Peju a few days later to try more.
The uniquely pruned sycamore trees that line the Peju driveway in Rutherford are a hobby of winery owner and founder, Tony Peju. His wife “HB” oversees and tends the gorgeous and peaceful gardens which include several mesmerizing fountains. After a 15-minute wait, my friends and I were ushered into a back tasting room where host Richard deftly entertained and educated a very diverse group of a dozen or so wine tasters—first time wine tasters, a group that appeared to be a bridal party, wine club members, and yours truly the local wine blogger. One standout was the ’08 Napa Valley Syrah with soft tannins and balanced red fruit on the front and a very pleasant barnyard-earthy-black pepper finish.
But for me, the ’07 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and ’07 Napa Valley Merlot were my favorites. Both are from grapes grown in Peju’s Persephone Vineyard in Pope Valley northeast of St. Helena. The Cabernet Sauvignon showed plenty of restraint and structure with all the leatheriness of a Cabernet ready to age and pleasant brown spice. The Merlot which is drinking beautifully now and could still stand to age more has rich layers of cranberry, blackberry, dustiness, hints of mint, and pepper and some tannins from 13% Petit Verdot for a more Bordeaux-style Merlot.
For its hospitality and terrific Cabernet and Merlot, Peju is worth visiting and re-visiting.

01 March, 2012

Dreaming of a sunny porch - Reflections on Booker 2010 Pink

Sunny one day.  Rainy and cold the next.  I find myself dreaming of summer and something yummy to drink while idling away a warm afternoon.  But who has time to wait?

2010 Booker Vineyards Pink, Paso Robles, California, USA ($28)  Lovely pink color.  Dry and super food friendly.  This is a little ray of sunshine to cloak the winter gray.  50% Grenache and 50% Syrah meld into a synergy that is 120% delicious.  Xandria brought this back from her foray into Paso Robles and it makes me want to journey out there as well.  Owner Eric Jensen makes this wine to enjoy simply.  It sounds like the have a lot more out there to enjoy.  This is on the list of things they pour daily. So while it is raining here, they will be pouring there; on March 9th  at the tasting room, they will pour the 2010 releases.  More information you need to visit is listed here