Monthly Archives: December 2008

Tacos and Torrontés

Usually at the Witherspoon house when we fix tacos, we have beer along with it, but the other night I decided to mix it up and pulled out the 2008 Tamari Torrontés. The Tamari Torrontés comes from the Famatima Valley in La Rioja, Argentina and costs around $13.  It is made from 100% of the Torrontés grape and was fermented in all stainless steel to maintain its fruity varietal characteristics.


tmrtorr-nv_bottle_tnMy Tasting Notes –

Nose – peach, orange zest and violet

Taste – apricot, pear, citrus and a touch of rose and minerality

Mouthfeel – smooth and full without being viscous with a nice refreshing crisp backend

Finish – quite long with great tropical fruit and floral notes


This was a great refreshing white wine, reminiscent of a Viognier on the flavor and aroma profile but doesn’t have quite as heavy a mouthfeel and has a crisper finish.  As for the pairing with our veggie tacos it worked quite nicely, with a hint of residual sugar helping to smooth out the spiciness of the diced chilis.


If you’re looking for a new varietal to try, that is also a great value I recommend giving this one a whirl!



Categories: $10-$20, wine review | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

PeWho? Peju! 2005 Estate Bottled Napa Zinfandel

Megan and I picked up the 2005 Peju Estate Bottled Napa Zinfandel during our trip to the valley back in November.  We stopped in for a quick visit, trying to kill a little time before our scheduled visit with Christophe at Titus Vineyards. We were in luck because on our random visit we were treated to a unique tasting experience by the famous “Yodelmeister” himself Alan Arnopole. Check out Alan in action on in Wine Country for an idea of what our tasting experience was like.


On to the Zinfandel…


pejuzinThe 2005 is 100% Zinfandel and was aged for ten months in American Oak, ten percent of which was new. The remaining balance was aged in a mix of one to four year old barrels before being bottle unfined.  Although it was a pretty high octane wine at 15.7% alcohol, there was no heat on this wine and it was very nicely balanced.


Nose – plum, boysenberry, Cinnabon™ (yes I spelled it right, it smells like the smell that emanates from the Cinnabon™ store), raisin and fig

Taste – blackberry, pepper, pine and black tea

Mouthfeel – full body, good acidity, and leathery tannins

Finish – long and dry with a nice black tea taste


While I am not usually a huge fan of Napa Zin, I was utterly delighted with this wine. Lots of dark fruit, and fun sweet cinnamon notes on the nose, balanced with earthy pine and black tea on the palate. The acidity and firm tannins nicely complemented and helped to balance the superb richness of the wine. At $28 this wine is a bit pricey, but I think it is of comparable quality to some of the Zins in the same price range from the Dry Creek or Russian River Valleys.  Give this wine a try if you come across it out there–it could improve your perception of Napa Zin, as it did for me.



Categories: $20-$30, napa, wine review | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Mulled Wine: A Holiday Tradition

Until I met my wife 6 years ago I had never had the pleasure of enjoying mulled wine. Her family prepares it every year for Christmas and on ski vacations and for their wineries Holiday Open House.  Since it is served warm it is a perfect treat for a cold day, but if it’s not cold, don’t let that stop you from enjoying some. As with a lot of wine concoctions (Cold duck, etc.), mulled wine was originally created as a way to make “bad” wine drinkable again. It seems as every country has a tradition for mulled wine and thus there own name for it, most of which translate to a version of “hot wine”.

German, Glühwein (“glowing (as in heat, not light) wine”); in Danish, Gløgg (“heated”); in French, vin chaud (“hot wine”); in Italian, vin brulé (French for “burnt wine”); in Brazil, Quentão (“big hot”); in Romanian vin fiert (“boiled wine”); in Serbian, Kuvano vino (“boiled wine”); in Polish, Grzane wino (“heated wine”) or just Grzaniec (“heating” or “heated” thing); the Slovak Varené vino (“boiled wine”); in Czech Svařené víno (“boiled wine”), in Croatian and Slovenian Kuhano vino (“cooked wine”) and also Kuhanec (“the cooked thing”) in Slovenian; the Hungarian forralt bor (“boiled wine”); the Latvian karstvīns; the Estonian hõõgvein (“glowing wine”); in Bulgarian Греяно вино (“greyano vino”) (“heated wine”); the Russian глинтвейн (“glintwein”), in Latvian “karstvīns” (hot wine) and the Chilean Spanish Navegado (from Wikipedia)

Below is my mother-in-laws recipe:

·          3 Liters red wine (we use Merlot) but you can use something like a hearty burgundy also

·          8 sticks of cinnamon

·          32 cloves

·          3 cups sugar

·          1 cup lemon juice

·          1Tbs nutmeg

·          3 cups water

“Combine all of the above in a pot and bring to a low boil with the cover on. I put the nutmeg and cloves in a small bag for easy removal and strain out the cinnamon sticks with a spoon. Boil for ten minutes.”

Let stand overnight and then take out the spices.  Serve warm!

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Categories: wine concoctions | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Holiday Wine Tasting at Enoteca Sogno

A couple weekends ago, Gary York from Enoteca Sogno invited us to his holiday open house and wine tasting. We went of course, I mean come on, great Italian wine and food who wouldn’t!




Two of our favorite appetizers were out to share, the crostini with white beans & arugula and the roasted red peppers & fresh mozzarella along with 4 or 5 great cheeses. 11 wines were out for us to serve ourselves with that Gary had ordered in a nice progression that we followed. It was quite relaxing, and a great way to spend a Sunday evening. Plenty of table space for you to take your glass of wine, grab some apps, and sit down and discuss the wines.


The Wines –


Cantina Montelliana Prosecco (Veneto) $10 – very nice apple and yeast aromas, tight crisp bubbles with nutty and slight caramel notes on the palate


2006 Casamatta Vermintino (Tuscany) $13.50 – violet and almond on the nose, apple and pear flavors, very round – could’ve used a bit more acidity


2007 Cantina del Taburno Falanghina (Campania) $18 – mineral, tropical fruit and honey on the nose with similar flavors and a dash of almond. Rich flavors but crisp refreshing mouthfeel.


2007 Caldaro Lagrein (Alto Adige) $13.50 – espresso and dark fruit on the nose, black currant and black cherry flavors, medium to full body with fairly mellow tannins


2006 Cantele Primitivo (Puglia) $13 – blackberry, plum and suede on the nose followed by a hint of cabbage, cranberry and cherry. Good long finish.



Tweeting the action

2007 Domaine les Grands Bois Cotes du Rhone “Cuvee les Trois Soeurs” (Rhone) $13 – anise and dark fruit up front, black currant, leather and black pepper flavors led to the wonderfully spicy finish


2006 Felsina Chianti Classico (Tuscany) $21 – raisin, tomato juice and chocolate on the nose with nice sweet cedar, pine and green pepper on the palate. Medium body, nice and well balanced structure


2004 Corte alla Flora Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (Tuscany) $23 – dirt, earth, leather and raspberry on the nose with toast and cranberry flavors and a very dry long finish.


2006 Vajra Langhe Rosso (Piedmont) $13.50 – black peppercorn, and ripe red fruit on the nose that switched to darker flavors of fig and blueberry on the palate. Nice easy drinking, well balanced red.


2006 Sori Paitin Barbera d’ Alba Serra Boella (Piedmont) $18 – blueberry and cherry nose with red currant, baby spinach leaves and clay flavors. Nice Barbera, had an interesting touch of effervescence on the tongue.


2003 Guido Porro Barolo Vigna Santa Caterina (Piedmont) $36 – very “rustic” in nature, raspberry, leather and cooked greens on the nose with similar flavors laced with a hint of bacon and red currant. BIG tannins, needs a couple more years or some time in the decanter




We had a great line up as you can see and thus a fabulous time as always. The prices next to the bottle names are all retail. In case you didn’t know (I didn’t) Gary sells all the wine on his wine list at pretty amazing prices. There aren’t too many places in town, especially restaurants, that you can get a great Barolo for under $40.


Make sure to keep an eye out over on Grove Avenue for Gary’s newest restaurant Coast which he “hopes” to have open in a few weeks.




Enoteca Sogno

2043 West Broad Street

Richmond, VA 23220

Enoteca Sogno on Urbanspoon

Categories: wine tasting | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Old wine sure does taste good!

Last week I got the opportunity to taste some back vintage Bordeaux at Bella Vino Stony Point.  We had 8 wines on tap for the evening from all over Bordeaux, from St. Emillion to St. Estephe. 



We started off the evening with the one white of the list and the youngest wine of the evening.


Wine 1 – 2007 Chateau Ducasse Bordeaux Blanc (100% Sauvignon Blanc) $18 – Made by winemaker Herve Dubourdieu, most famous for his Sauternes, he uses the leftover Sauvignon Blanc to make this wine. This wine was fairly round so my guess it was aged Sur Lies since no oak was used in its production.

Nose – mineral, apricot and grapefruit

Taste – citrus, star fruit and slate

Mouthfeel – medium body, round in the middle with slight crispness at the end

Finish – quite long for a Sauv. Blanc


I prefer Sauvignon Blanc’s to be crisper than this one was. It was an enjoyable wine but for $18 you can find a lot better examples of the varietal.


Wine 2 – 1998 Chateau Simard St. Emillion (70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc) $35 – This wine is usually released after 10 years of aging and the vineyards are a stones throw from the first growths.


Nose – leather, tar, cherry, red currant

Taste – dusty reminiscent of grandmas house, leather and raspberry

Mouthfeel – full body, with leathery tannins

Finish – long, dry with nice balanced acidity


Wine 3 – 1998 Chateau Le Castelet Pomerol (100% Merlot) $32 – 1998 was a great vintage in Pomerol, that led to smooth age worthy wines.  There was some debate on whether or not this wine was corked or if it had some induced brett that went a bit too far. I thought it was brett personally, the aromas didn’t give me the same nose and taste that TCA usually does.


Nose – red raspberry, cassis, cedar and funk (reminiscent of brett)

Taste – cherry, leather, cranberry, fresh raw green pepper, bandaid??

Mouthfeel – medium body, very fuzz tannins

Finish – long, very dry, even for a ’98 this wine could use some time


Wine 4 – 2001 Le Pardre de Haut-Bailly Pessac-Leognan (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot) $40 – This is a second wine from this producer so it allows greater value from the region.


Nose – smoke!, blackberry (except for the smoke, the nose was fairly tight)

Taste – black cherry, eucalyptus and vanilla

Mouthfeel – medium with dusty tannins

Finish – long, dark fruit flavors hanging on till the end


Wine 5 – 2002 Chateau Les Ormes de Pez St. Estephe (70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc) $31 – From vineyards both North and South of the town of St. Estephe on the left bank of Bordeaux, this wine is another good value from the region.


Nose – red fruit, cooked greens, nice funk

Taste – blackberry, anise, blueberry and stinky cheese

Mouthfeel – medium to full body with dry fuzzy tannins

Finish – long with a lingering flavor of red apple peel


Wine 6 – 1999 Chateau Pontet-Canet Pauillac (61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc) $62 – Classified as a 5th growth, the vineyards for Pontet-Canet are neighbors to 1st growth Mouton Rothschild.


Nose – earth, barnyard, horsey (but in a good way), bright cherry

Taste – cedar, leather and menthol

Mouthfeel – very “rustic”, medium body, fuzzy tannins and nice acidity

Finish – very long with lots of earthy notes


Wine 7 – 2001 Chateau Lagrange St. Julien (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot) $62 – From the heart of the Medoc, this 3rd Growth, is the only one in line up to include Petit Verdot.

Nose – espresso, black currant, wet earth

Taste – black cherry, raspberry, cocoa, vanilla

Mouthfeel – medium body, nicely integrated acidity and dusty tannins

Finish – medium to long in length with blueberry flavors creeping up at the end


Wine 8 – 1985 Chateau St. Pierre St. Julien (75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc) $98 The grand finale of the evening so to speak, this 4th Growth was very smooth, evident of its 23 years of aging.


Nose – horse stall, broken raw bell pepper, raspberry

Taste – cedar, cherry, red currant, earth

Mouthfeel – very smooth and round with medium body and a touch of acidity on the mid palate

Finish – long and smooth, the tannins were very well integrated yet still present enough to provide nice structure



The ’85 definitely was the highlight of the bunch, great funk, great fruit, super integrated tannins and acidity. My second fave was the ’99 Chautea Pontet-Canet with its great earthy, horsey notes, but it could’ve used a bit more fruit to go with it. 3rd favorite was the Chateau Simard (which I bought), great fruit, nice complex layers and a good price point. If you could have combined those two, it would have been perfect for my palate.


Bella Vino mangager Brad Hemp (middle)


We did end up opening another bottle of the Chateau Castelet to settle the TCA/Brett debate and I when I left the jury was still out. It definitely didn’t have the same nose but I still got abundance of brett on the flavor profile. The difference could’ve been that we popped and poured the second bottle and the first bottle was open for 2 hours, but if it was TCA it would’ve been there no matter what. Oh well…


Thanks to Brad and David for the great tasting, it was definitely a great education for the palate.


Bella Vino Stony Point

9200 Stony Point Parkway
Ste. 155A
Richmond, VA 23235
Phone (804) 272-3202
Fax. (804) 272-3203

Categories: Bordeaux, wine tasting | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Sake it 2 Me

I’ve only had Sake 3 times in my life and all 3 were the hot version that you are typically served in a Chinese restaurant, and I have to say I wasn’t a huge fan. When the folks from Sake2Me asked to send me some samples of their cold sparkling Sake, I thought it was time to revisit the beverage in a different form.  Sake2Me blends premium Junmai sake with traditional Asian flavor components to make a fun, cold sparkling beverage. Served in single serving 6.3oz bottles (7%ABV), they are meant to be served iced cold in a Champagne flute or even on the rocks. (I went with the Champagne flute)



My first impression after tasting these was that they were fancy wine coolers. I hope that is a compliment, as it seems like the market that they are going after. If I was going to have a wine cooler and I had a choice between B&J and Sake2Me, the latter would win hands down. The product line consists of 4 flavors, Ginger Mango, Yuzu Citrus, Green Tea and Asian pear.  My favorites were the Green Tea and Asian pear as the other two had flavor profiles that seemed a bit “fake” to me. My wife on the other hand enjoyed the Ginger Mango and Green Tea, so I guess it depends on your palate. 


sake2me_2By looking at the pictures on their website, this product is definitely aimed at the young FEMALE party-goer, and I think for that type of demographic the Sake2me product line will do quite well. If you are hard core Sake fan, I don’t think this is your ticket, the same as most wine lovers wouldn’t reach for the White Zin. I will say that I enjoyed my 2 faves much better than the Sake that I have had in the past.


Unfortunately Sake2me isn’t available in Virginia yet, but it is available in about 25 states. Average price is around $12 for a 4 pack.



Categories: sake | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

New wine app for the iPhone

This week Wine Enthusiast (WE) jumped in the iPhone/iTouch app market with a wine app of their own. For $9.99 you can download the app that will give you access to all the wine reviews in the Wine Enthusiast database, vintage charts, a very in depth wine glossary and more.




The interface for all the features is nice and very user friendly. The search function of the database allows you to choose from a variety of things from vintage to appellation.  Great tool if you need help shopping especially if it’s for someone else who doesn’t like the same things you do. If you plan ahead, you can use the virtual shopping list that the program has so when you get to the wine shop you know exactly what you need to get.


Even for a wine geek there are some things you just don’t know or can’t remember, having a wine dictionary in your pocket is quite handy when someone asks what the consejo regulador is.




I like the vintage chart because again it is hard to remember what the season was like in the Columbia Valley in 2002. Of course the ratings for the vintages are subjective and based on the judgments of the WE writers, but it can definitely help you out in a pinch when staring at a wine list. The only problem with the vintage info is that it doesn’t list any information for Virginia! L Boo!



Overall I think it is a fun wine tool but $9.99 may be a bit much. Wine Spectator has their mobile app which basically opens up Safari and logs you into their site, and only works if you have an online account. WS also doesn’t have the glossary or the Wine 101 features either and an online account for WS is much more than $9.99. My biggest unfilled need with the program is that it doesn’t have the option to record tasting notes. So I still need to use my other app Wine Snob ($4.99) to record tasting notes and bottle information.  The Wine Snob program also has a glossary and pairing dictionary but the glossary isn’t nearly as in depth as the WE app.



Categories: wine accessories | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Indian Food and Viognier – 2007 Pollak Vineyards Viognier

Since my California trips this year our wine cellar is quite California heavy. Among them though are still plenty of great Virginia Wines to choose from. Last night I needed a Viognier to go with our Indian food that we had prepared so I picked out the 2007 Pollak Vineyards Viognier.  Readers of Anything Wine know that I am big fan of Pollak’s wine and their winery, so it would not be a jump to think that I really enjoyed this one as well.


pollak-logoThe 290 cases Viognier was from all estate grown fruit that yielded a smaller crop than usual due to the hard freeze at the beginning of the season.  The rest of the 2007 vintage was hot and dry and helped this wine to produce rich, powerful aromatics that I love to see in a Viognier. 


Winemakers Notes: 100% Viognier. Hand sorted, the grapes were destemmed and cold soaked 12 hours in our tank press, then pressed and gravity fed into a stainless steel tank. The juice fermented in the tank at less than 70 degrees for ten days.”


My Tasting Notes


Color – golden

Nose – Apricot, honey, Asian pear, phyllo dough

Taste – Mineral, honey, peach and apple

Mouthfeel – medium body, round in the middle with great acidity towards the finish

Finish – long with lots of fruit flavors left over and a healthy dose of “clean” minerality


I love Viognier with my Indian food almost as much as I like Gewürztraminer with my Indian food. The Pollak Viognier, even though it was dry, had enough perceived sweetness from the fruit to go very well with the slightly spicy food.  The backend acidity did a good job of cutting through the rich sauce on the dish which was helpful, since the wine was fairly “rich” itself.  All in all a great, well balanced Viognier, that at $18 is a definite buy.



Pollak Vineyards
330 Newtown Road
Greenwood, VA 22943
Phone: (540) 456-8844
Fax: (540) 456-6565

Categories: $10-$20, wine review | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Back Vintage Bordeaux Tasting at Bella Vino – December 18th 8:00-9:00

This Thursday Brad and the team at Bella Vino Stony Point have pulled together some great back vintage Bordeaux bottles for you to try.



Here’s the list:


Chateau Ducasse Bordeaux Blanc 2007
Chateau Simard St.-Emilion 1998
Chateau Le Castelet Pomerol 1998
Le Pardre de Haut Bailly Leognan 2001
Chateau Les Ormes de Pez St.-Estephe 2002

*Palate Cleanser*

Chateau Pontet-Canet Pauillac 1999
Chateau Lagrange St.-Julien 2005
Chateau St.-Pierre St.-Julien 1985


Tickets are $20pp or $32 for two


If you are free this Thursday December 18th from 8:00 – 9:00, don’t miss a great opportunity to taste some rare finds from the Bordeaux region.


Make sure to call and let the shop know you plan to attend.

Bella Vino Stony Point
(804) 272-3202



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My First 2008 Wine of 2008

In its 6th vintage of their Early Wine, Macari Vineyards taps into their Austrian heritage to produce this Chardonnay that is bottled and released within a month and a half of harvest.  Macari Vineyards, established in 1995 and located on the North Fork of Eastern Long Island has 180 acres of vines on their 500 acre estate. Growing a bit of everything, it looks like their primary wine focus is on Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.


earlywine_backlabelThe 2008 Early Wine Chardonnay ($16) is as I said a quick to market wine similar to Beaujolais Nouveau.  The 2008 was harvested on September 9th, bottled on October 16th and released on October 23rd. The result is an “interesting” Chardonnay that if I had tasted blind would have thought it to be a Sauvignon Blanc. It is a very refreshing wine with sharp acidity and a slight effervescence on the tongue that would be a great summertime sipper. Unfortunately it is meant to be drank early, so summertime is about 8 months out for this wines prime. Luckily it was an unusually warm day in Richmond last night so it felt a bit like summer.



earlywine_frontlabelMy Tasting Notes –

Nose – Fresh cut grass, citrus, pear, a touch of honey, and something tropical that I couldn’t put my finger on

Taste – Tropical fruit, hay, citrus and a splash of Granny Smith apple

Mouthfeel – very crisp with slight effervescence on the tongue

Finish – longer than expected, I would say medium length, with mineral and tropical notes lingering


The wine had a nice tartness to it and seemed to have a bit of residual sugar that evened that out a bit. The website for Macari didn’t have the specs on the wine so I am not sure if I am correct on my R.S. assumption. At a case production of a little over 1700 cases, Macari says this sells out fast upon release and seeing this in your local grocery story is probably unlikely unless you live in the New York area. Actually this wine may only be available at the winery but don’t quote me on that.


Thanks to Macari for sending me a bottle as I wouldn’t have been able to try it otherwise.



Categories: $10-$20, New York Wines | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Wine Blogging Wednesday #52 Value Chilean Reds

wbwlogoThis months Wine Blogging Wednesday, #52, is brought to us by Tim Lemke over at Cheap Wine Ratings. He asks us to review Chilean Value Reds, preferably under $20 but even better if it is under $10. For my wine I chose the 2006 Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon from Rapel in the Central Valley of Chile. I am sure most of you have heard of Casa Lapostolle, especially now after their 2005 Clos Apalta Colchagua Valley was #1 on the Wine Spectator Top 100 list. At 200,000 cases annual production and distribution to over 70 countries, it is a good bet that your local wine shop has a bottle of Casa Lapostolle in stock.

Rapel is known for both its Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. The soil in Rapel is sandy with patches of loam and clay, and a majority of the vineyards lie on low to steep sloping hillsides. The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of primarily Cabernet (85%) followed by Carmenere (6%), Petit Verdot (6%) and Cabernet Franc (3%). Due to the “coldest” vintage in 7 years, the ’06 harvest saw extra hang time in the vineyard in order for the grapes to reach proper maturity, before it was hand harvested in April. Yep, April, just when North America is seeing their bud break, South America is harvesting. The oak program for the wine was modest at just 6 months for 70% of the wine which went in to used barrels, while 30% was aged in stainless steel.


2006casalapostolleMy Tasting Notes –

Nose – Blackberry, red currant, bacon and peppermint

Taste – Blueberry, cedar, green pepper, black cherry and leather

Mouthfeel – medium to full body with fuzzy tannins

Finish – long with lots of fruit left over and bigger than expected tannins

I sipped this wine with a dinner that I probably wouldn’t usually pair with Cabernet Sauvignon, although it worked quite well. I made a bacon, mushroom, cheddar veggie burger with a side of tator-tots. Weird I know, but the “meatiness” of the burger and “bacon” combined with the savoriness of the sautéed mushrooms brought out the best in this Cabernet. The dark fruit was definitely first and foremost on this wine, but the nice meaty undertones with hints of leather added enjoyable layers of complexity on this $15 bottle.


Categories: $10-$20, Wine Blogging Wednesday, wine review | Tags: , , | 10 Comments


No I am not writing a nursery rhyme for this post, the “cock” mentioned in the title belongs to the Hahn Estates wine label as hahn is the German word for rooster.  Okay, now that we are done with our vocabulary lesson for the day on to the wine.  If you are looking for a very nice, good value, Bordeaux blend from California, look no further than the 2006 Hahn Estates Meritage. At around $16 retail, this wine delivers great components from all the grapes that make up this blend. The leader of the blend at 33% is Merlot from the St. Lucia Highlands, followed by 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19 % Petit Verdot, 11% Cabernet Franc and 7% Malbec. Although the oak on this was very well integrated and did not make it’s presence known, the wine spent 11 months in 69% new, 11% one year old and 16% neutral French Oaks. 


hahn-meritageMy Tasting Notes –


Nose – raspberry, cassis, bacon, cinnamon, raw Bok Choy

Taste – cherry, leather, prune, and a rustic vibe

Mouthfeel – medium to full body, round in the middle with nice acidity

Finish – smooth and round with dusty tannins



I picked this wine up as a sample from Lisa de Bruin who works on the Hahn marketing team while I was at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa. Lisa is very big into the social media scene and you follow her on Twitter as @winedivergirl or visit her blog California Life: Better Than Happy Hour.



Categories: $10-$20, wine review | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

A Krazy visit to KAZ Winery and Vineyard


We visited Kaz Vineyard and Winery on our first day in Sonoma and it was by far the smallest winery that I have visited in California. Producing around 1000 cases on average, Kaz focuses on small lot bold red blends and unique grape varietals all with their own zany Kaz twist. Owner and winemaker Richard Kasimer (Kaz) says this is a complete family operation, with some part of the winemaking process is handled by a member(s) of the family, right down to the website.




Despite Kaz’s crazy persona, his wines are no joke. Kaz is located in the beautiful Valley of the Moon, in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. During our visit both Kaz and his son were on hand to take us through the tasting of 12 of their hand crafted wines.


2007 Trixies Secret Nebbiolo Rosa (Rose style wine from the Nebbiolo grape) – nice pink color, aromas and flavors of strawberry with flavors of watermelon jolly rancher, with nice minerality and a touch of spice at the finish


2005 Hooligans (100% Grenache) – smoke, red currant and roast beef aromas, with similar flavors laced with vanilla and leather


2005 Sarah Nader Zinfandel – cocoa and blueberry with dry herbs and cocoa at the end with a peppery finish


2005 Plunge (100% Sangiovese) – very nice mouthfeel and tight acidity with cherry earth and cinnamon flavors


NV Kazorouge (red blend) – nice easy drinking red with nice chocolate aromas on the nose, raspberry and cherry flavors


2005 Bob’s Aria (100% Barbera) – very round and full mouthfeel, nice red fruit and a healthy dose of earthiness, very nice


2005 Melodrama (100% Malbec) – predominately smoke and earth on the nose with lots of dark fruit flavors on the palate highlighted by black currant


2005 Say Rah (100% Syrah) – blueberry, blackberry and boysenberry flavors and aromas, nice acidity and mouthfeel and a hint of olive at the finish


2005 Outbound (100% Cabernet Franc) – cherry and spicy green pepper, with nice eucalyptus and cranberry flavors


2003 Champs (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) – huge tannins, chocolate, spice, black currant and touches of tobacco leaf


White Port (Chardonnay) – nice almond, vanilla and butterscotch, yum!


Red Port (Barbera, Zin and Cabernet) – mocha, raisin and fig



We enjoyed all the wines in the line up and it was an extreme pleasure to taste with Kaz and his son.  Kaz is a hoot to taste with, a total ball of energy that could get even the casual winery goer fired up! After we tasted, Kaz walked us around the facility, Megan and I even got to punch the cap on some fermenting Zin.  Next time you are in the Sonoma Valley make to take time and taste Kaz’s small artesian wines. You can also check out Kaz on Wine Biz Radio with friend and show host Randy Hall.




KAZ Winery

233 Adobe Canyon Rd.
Kenwood, CA 95452

Categories: sonoma | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Buy Local This Holiday Season!

Folks in Richmond you have two great opportunities to buy local handmade goods for the Holiday Season, both presented to you by the Richmond Craft Mafia.


First Up – 20 local crafters have teamed up to open a storefront and sell their wares right here in downtown Richmond. The store is called The Fawn Shop and is located at 201 West Broad Street. See the flyer below for details on hours of operation.



Next – The 4th annual Handmade Holiday Craft show will be happening for two nights this year instead of the usual one. The first night is a preview party that is a ticketed event, Friday December 12th, that will feature wine and cheese and give you first dibs on all the goods before the public show on Saturday the 13th. The event is taking place at the Richmond Visual Art Center, check the Richmond Handmade Holiday site for details.





Categories: wine tasting | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Tasting in the sun at Titus Vineyards


Arriving at Titus Vineyards on our last day in California wine country I wasn’t exactly sure we were in the right place. The small white country house, at the front of the vineyards seemed out of place compared to the gigantic wineries that dot the Napa Valley.  In fact Titus doesn’t have a regular tasting room, but Christophe was gracious enough to host us in an environment reminding me of tastings that we did in Northern Italy last year.


I have to admit I had little familiarity with Titus until earlier this year when Christophe and the Titus team decided to take the leap into social media. Using the online steaming video service Ustream, filmed interactive daily sessions of their harvest. During which I had the opportunity to ask questions directly to Phil and Eric to get an in depth perspective on their winemaking style, philosophy and culture that they create at their winery.  After watching a weeks worth of video, I was hooked and knew that I had to visit and taste these wines that I had learned about. (you can also follow Christophe – @corkdork – on Twitter for action at Titus Vineyards)

Ustream Media Cart

Ustream Media Cart

We sat at a picnic table nestled among some olive trees directly across from the 40+ acres of vines that make up Titus Vineyards. The brothers Titus, Phil and Eric, run this small, 8000 case, second generation family winery.  Phil is the winemaker and Eric is the vineyard manager, although both do no operate as separate entities, they work hand in hand to make the quality product that is Titus wines. 



The Wines


2006 Zinfandel $27 (comes from 10 acres of vines that were planted in the 1970s)

Nose – slightly tight with black currant and strawberry jam

Taste – blackberry, boysenberry, toast, chocolate

Mouthfeel – medium body, good acidity but still nice and round

Finish – long and dry with dried cranberry flavors


2006 Cabernet Franc $36 (75% Cabernet Franc, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, 4% Merlot)

Nose – leather, black cherry, vanilla, cooked greens

Taste – blueberry, dried herbs, lots of cherry and a hint of green olive

Mouthfeel – dusty, full bodied and leathery dry tannins

Finish – still going


2005 Cabernet Sauvignon $41 (79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot, 7% Malbec, 1% Merlot)

Nose – violet, raspberry, earthy, smoke and eucalyptus

Taste – bright red fruit, tobacco, and allspice (interesting)

Mouthfeel – very round, hint of spiciness, fairly subdued tannins but still there

Finish – long, with some earthy, raspberry notes


2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $60 (90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Franc)

Nose – toasty oak, meaty/bacony, green beans, cherry

Taste – blueberry, black currant and red currant

Mouthfeel – smooth round up front with fuzzy tannins at the back

Finish – long with dried fruit flavors


2006 Petite Syrah $36 (100% Petite Syrah)

Nose – pine nut, leather and blackberry

Taste – blueberry, brambly fruit, tomato and red cherry

Mouthfeel – big full body, round lush tannins

Finish – medium to long, lots of dark fruit flavors


walking-in-titus-vineyardsNeedless to say Megan and I really enjoyed all the wines and I would have bought a bottle of each, but being at the end of the trip, we were already over our allotted wine budget. We did pick up the Cab Franc and the Cab Sauv though, the Cabernet Franc being our clear winner for the day. I wish all tastings could be this picturesque, sitting steps away from the vineyard where a wine is made is definitely one of the best ways to enjoy it. After we had finished tasting we filled our glasses with our wine of choice we took a stroll through the vineyards. We picked shriveled grapes off the vine and tasted what had been missed during the second pick and got a more in depth explanation of the plantings at Titus.


Thanks again to Christophe for hosting us, it was truly a pleasure.




Titus Vineyards
PO Box 608
St. Helena, CA 94574

Tel: 707.963.3235
Fax: 707.963.3257

Categories: napa, wine tasting | Tags: , , | 1 Comment