Archive for the Category ◊ Wine event ◊

09 Sep 2012 Angel’s Blush 2012 Kickstarter Project has launched!

We have launched the Angel’s Blush 2012 Kickstarter Project to raise funds to produce another vintage of Angel’s Blush ™ in a new custom crush facility. We are raising money for stainless steel tanks and barrels for the Rose production.

The last vintage sold out in 2 weeks! It was very, very good…especially on a spring day. The 2012 vintage will be ready by the start of next spring for your enjoyment.

There are many rewards available depending on your level of support! You will only be charged if the target goal of $7,500 is met. When we get close to $7,500, I will be announcing a new stretch goal to help Lionheart Wines expand!

Please help Lionheart Wines grow! We will most definitely take care of our supporters. If you have any questions, please contact Leon at or 650.576.1367. Harvest has started so we need make this happen very soon to get the best fruit.

05 Feb 2011 Zap 2011 — A good time with some great wines!

The 20th ZAP Grand Tasting was a good time for all that attended.  The weather threatened to get ugly but thankfully, held off and ended up being a great day in San Francisco.

The number of wineries seemed to be lower than in past years which is a good and a bad thing.  The bad thing is less zinfandel to taste; the good was that there was more room in both of the event halls which seemed to help with crowd flow at the event.   Also, the casting call for a extras in a Matt Damon movie help keep down the number of barely legal drinkers who normally come to get drink instead of taste.

I was able to taste a large number of wines this year even with being a volunteer for 3 hours.  The wines of the 2008 and 2009 vintages were actually fairly consistent with a trend toward above average zinfandels.  The cooler years seemed to help with not having too many over-ripe fruit flavors and keeping the alcohol levels down to more reasonable levels (14% and 15% instead of some of the recent vintages where alcohol were easily up in 16%+ range).  The change in the fruit flavors and lower alcohol seemed to throw a few wine makers a curve ball as quite a few of the zinfandels that I tasted expressed too much oak in the nose and palate.

The wines of note for me were the following:

Black Sears Estate Wine, Angwin, Napa Valley, 707-963-1334, Website
2008 Black Sears Estate, Howell Mountain, $42 — I enjoyed this wine the most out of what I tasted.  It was very well balanced in aroma, palate, acidity and overall intensity.  It had the classic zinfandel fruit flavors with an added fresh cracked black pepper note that is so rare in Zinfandels now.  It had a very long, pleasant finished with a greater than usual acidity for Zinfandel.  The is lovely by itself but would spectactular with a peppered flank steak.

D-Cubed Cellars, St. Helena, Napa Valley, 707-963-5212, Website
2007 Howell Mountain, Howell Mountain, $37
This wine was really good!  The winemaker told me the fruit comes from the Black Sears Vineyard, so no big surprise that I enjoy it so much!  The wine was elegant, complex and layer in both aroma and palate.  The freshly cracked black pepper aroma and flavor lured you in to enjoy the rest of a balanced and layered fresh fruit flavors starting to show secondary flavors — flavors of black tea, red fruit, black pepper and slight brambleberry.

2007 Napa Valley, Napa Valley, $27 — this was very enjoyable but not as complex or elegrant as the Howell Mountain — primarily fruit driven with noticable tannins, a dense wine.

Klinker Brick Winery, Lodi, Lodi, 209-333-1845, Website
2008 Old Vine, Lodi, $18 — this was a fantastic wine especially for the price point!  The wine shows classed old vine characteristics — mixture of brambleberry, red fruit, black fruit, black tea and hint of floral.  The wine is medium density with a balanced level of tannins for the intensity of the flavors and palate texture.

2008 Old Ghost Old Vine, Lodi $37 — This wine shows vintage variation; this year is a very good year!  The wine is similar to the $18 but with more concentration, complexity and elegance.  This wine will age well which is rare for zinfandels.

Mazzocco Winery, Geyserville, Northern Sonoma, 707-431-8159, Website
They were pouring 8 different wines — most of them single vineyard designates.  The wines were excellent and worth the effort to seek them out. 

Good wines — Worth trying:
Artezin Wines, Napa, Napa Valley, 707-255-1144, Website — 2008 Dry Creek Valley, $25; 2009 Mendocino County, $20
Calcareous Vineyard, Paso Robles, Central Coast, 805-239-0289, Website – 2008 Twisted Sisters, Paso Robles, $20
Downing Family Vineyards, Napa, Napa Valley — 888-440-2468, Website – 2007 Fly By Night, Oakville, $24
Edmeades Winery, Santa Rosa, Mendocino/Lake — 707-522-6488, Website — 2008 Mendocino County, $18 (Very good especially for the price — on the lighter side); 2007 Ciapusci Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge, $35.  All of there Zinfandels were quite good but I liked the balance and elegance of the Mendocino County blend best.
Gamba Vineyards and Winery, Fulton, Northern Sonoma, 707-542-5892, Website – 2009 Old Vine, Moratto Vineyard, Russian River Valley $43 (typical Gamba — big, dense, fruit bomb — aka not quite Port but damn close!)
Kokomo Winery, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma, 707-433-0205, Website — 2008 Mounts Vineyard, Dry Creek Vineyards, $32; 2008 Timber Crest Vineyard, Dry Creek Vineyard, $36
Mauritson Family Winery, Healsdburg, Northern Sonoma, 707-431-0804, Website — 2009 Dry Creek Valley, Dry Creek Valley $27; 2009 Rockpile Ridge Vineyard, Rockpile, $35
Miraflores Winery, Placerville, Sirra Foothills, 530-647-8505, Website — 2007 El Dorado, $22; 2008 El Dorado, $22.  These are very good, complex wines and nicely priced.
Pezzi King Vineyards, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma, 707-473-4310, Website — 2008 Old Vines, Dry Creek Valley, $24 — highly recommended.
Seghesio Family Vineyards, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma, 707-433-3579, Website — 2009 Home Ranch, Alexander Valley, $36; 2008 Cortina, Dry Creek Valley $36; 2009 Sonoma, Sonoma County, $24
Sextant Wines, Paso Robles, Central Coast, 805-542-0133, Website — 2007 Holystone, Paso Roables, $27; 2008 Wheelhouse, Paso Robles, $20, 2008 Central COast, Central Coast $15
Storrs Winery & Vineyards, Santa Cruz, Bay Area, 831-458-5030, Website – 2005 Lion Oaks Vineyard, Santa Clara County $34; 2006 Rusty Ridge, Santa Clara County, $30; 2007 Central Coast $20

28 Jan 2011 2011 ZAP Festival — Grand Tasting in SF on 1/29/2011
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For anyone interested in Zinfandel, you should seriously consider attending the Grand Tasting at Fort Mason on the 29th.  It is the 20th anniversary of the event!  Trade will start tasting at 10:00 AM and general public will be able to start tasting at 2:00 PM until 5:00 PM.

There will be a lot of people there but so will there be a lot of zinfandel. 

 Here is a link to official ZAP link:  Here is a list of the participating wineries:

Accademia dei Racemi
Acorn Winery / Alegria Vineyards
Adelaida Cellars
ADS Wines
Alderbrook Winery
Alexander Valley Vineyards
Amador Cellars
Amphora Winery
Ancient Peaks
Artezin Wines
B.R. Cohn Winery
Baldwin Wines
Ballentine Vineyards
Barefoot Cellars
Bartholomew Park Winery
Beaver Creek Vineyards
Bedrock Wine Company
Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves
Black Sears Estate Wine
Boeger Winery
Bogle Winery
Bonneau Winery
Bota Box
Brazin Cellars
Brown Estate Vineyards
Brutocao Cellars
C.G. Di Arie Vineyard & Winery
Cakebread Cellars
Calcareous Vineyard
Calstar Cellars
Candor / Hope Family Wines
Carlisle Winery
Carol Shelton Wines
Cedarville Vineyard
Cellar No 8
Charter Oak Winery
Chateau Montelena Winery
Chatom Vineyards
Chiarello Family Vineyards
Claudia Springs Winery
Cline Cellars
Collier Falls Vineyard
Cougar’s Leap Winery
D H Gustafson Family Vineyards
Dancing Bull
Dancing Lady Wines
Dashe Cellars
D-Cubed Cellars
Deep Purple Winery
Del Carlo Winery
DeLoach Vineyards
deLorimier Winery
Dendor Patton
Dogwood Cellars
Dono dal Cielo Vineyard
Downing Family Vineyards
Dry Creek Vineyard
Easton Wines
Edmeades Winery
Fields Family Wines
Folie a Deux Winery – Trinchero Family Estates
Fontanella Family Winery
Forever Vineyards
Four Vines Winery
Frank Family Vineyards
Fritz Winery
Gamba Vineyards and Winery
Giuseppe Wines & Neese Vineyards
Gnarly Head Cellars
Gnaughty Vines
Gregory Graham Wines
Grey Wolf Vineyards & Cellars
Guglielmo Winery
Gundlach Bundschu Winery
HaGafen Cellars
Haraszthy Family Cellars
Harney Lane Winery
Hartford Family Winery
Hearthstone Vineyards & Winery
Hook & Ladder Winery
Hunt Cellars
Ironstone Vineyards
J Dusi Wines
J. Keverson Winery
J. Rickards Winery & Vineyards
Joel Gott Wines
John Tyler
JR Wines
Kenneth Volk Vineyards
Kenwood Vineyards/Heck Estates
Klinker Brick Winery
Kokomo Winery
Kuleto Estate Winery
LangeTwins Winery & Vineyards
Lava Cap Winery
Leonhardt Vineyards
m2 Wines
Mantra Wines
Manzanita Creek / Salerno Healdsburg Estate Winery
Marr Cellars
Martorana Family Winery
Masked Rider Winery
Matrix Winery
Mauritson Family Winery
Mazzocco Winery
McCay Cellars
McNab Ridge Winery
Meeker Vineyard
Michael-David Winery
Mike and Molly Hendry Wine Co.
Milliaire Winery
Miraflores Winery
MoniClaire Vineyards
Mounts Family Winery
Murphy Goode – Artisans & Estates
Novy Family Wines
Oak Ridge Winery
Opolo Vineyards
Outpost Estate Wines
Paso Creek
Peachy Canyon Winery
Pech Merle Winery
Pedroncelli Winery
Peju Province Winery
Perry Creek Winery
Pezzi King Vineyards
Puccioni Vineyards
R & B Cellars
Rancho San Miguel Winery
Rancho Zabaco Winery
Ravenswood Quarry
Red Truck Wines
Renwood Winery
Ridge Lytton Springs
Ridge Vineyards
Robert Biale Vineyards
Rock Wall Wine Company
Rombauer Vineyards
Rosenblum Cellars
Rotta Winery
Rued Winery
Rusina Wines
Saddleback Cellars
San Joaquin Wine Company
Sapphire Hill Vineyards & Winery
Sausal Winery
Sbragia Family Vineyards
Scott Harvey Wines
Sebastiani Vineyards
Seghesio Family Vineyards
Selby Winery
Sera Fina Cellars
Sextant Wines
Shannon Ridge
Simoncini Vineyards
Sobon Estate
Spenker Winery
St. Amant Winery
St. Francis Winery & Vineyard
Starlite Vineyards
Starry Night Winery
Steele Wines
Stephen & Walker Winery
Stonehedge Winery
Storrs Winery & Vineyards
Storybook Mountain Vineyards
Talty Vineyards & Winery
Terra d’Oro – Trinchero Family Estates
The Federalist
The Lucas Winery
The Other Guys
The Terraces
Three Wine Company
Tin Barn Vineyards
Tofanelli Family Vineyard
Trattore Estate Winery & Vineyard
Trentadue Winery
Tres Sabores
Trione Vineyards & Winery
Turley Wine Cellars
V. Sattui Winery
Valdez Family Winery
Valley of the Moon Winery/Heck Estates
Van Ruiten Family Winery
Villa Toscano Winery
Vino Noceto
Virgil’s Vineyard
Wilson Winery & Vineyards
Wine Guerrilla
ZinAlley Winery
Zynthesis Cellars – Wheelhouse Wine Cellars
31 Dec 2010 Ringing in the New Year – 2011!
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I would like to wish all of your a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!  The new year is nearly upon on us (11 hours away PST). 

How are you ringing in the new year: friends, big hosted party, a bottle or two of bubbles, great meal or some combination there in?  This New Year’s Eve is going to be a smaller and simplier party than in previous years — some friends sharing Jambalaya, light appetizers, board and card games but with a few adult beverages so see the new year in properly.

I hope you have a wonderful, safe and safe New Year’s Eve celebration!  Please make sure to have a designated driver if you are going to be out and about enjoying the evening celebrations.  A taxi is cheap while someone life and/or a DUI is not!  If you have any questions about your ability to drive, then you should not be driving for quite awhile.  So, find a fun place, good people and enjoy yourself!

My 2011 be a much better and more prosperous new year for you and your family!

11 Feb 2010 Terroirs & Signatures De Bourgogne 2010 – San Francisco

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of going to the Terroirs & Signatures De Bourgogne 2010 wine tasting in San Francisco.  Unfortunately, I only had an hour and half to taste so I had to go into speed tasting mode.  Given I was speed tasting, I was just rating the wine up to 5 stars where 5 is the best but not taking any significant notes.   I only got to 12 out of the 21 producers.  Overall, the wines were very good with only a few of the wines showing “earthy / barnyard” characteristics.  The wines seem to be much cleaner than in the past from the region — excellent fruit characteristics, bright acidity and well balanced (in general).   It seems that the international wine style is starting to creep in Burgundy or is it more modern production techniques cleaning up some cellar issues (not sure but it seems like an improvement to me).  For more information on Burgundy —

The tasting will also be available in Los Angeles  on February 12th to trade only.

Exhibitors Choice Table
4 stars — Maison Jaffelin, 2007 Rully (white)
3.75 stars — Collin Bourisset, 2007 Pouilly-Fuisse
3.25 stars — Domaine ROUX Pere & Fils, 2007 Rully, Clos des Mollepierres [Note: the oak seemed a bit much to me]

3.25 stars — 2007 Saint-Romain (good minerality and acidity)
3 stars — 2008 Bourgogne (white) (spicy)
3 stars — 2007 Corton-Charlemange (too much oak for my taste)
2.75 stars — 2007 Volnay
3.5 stars — 2007 Vosne-Romanee (light & delicate)
3.25 stars — 2007 Gevrey-Chambertin (heavy and earthy)
3 stars — 2007 Corton (dark fruit and earth)

Chanson Pere & Fils
3 stars — 2008 Vire-Clesse
3.25 stars — 2007 Puligny-Montrachet
3.25 stars — 2007 Beaune 1st Cru, le Clos des Mouches
3 stars — 2007 Pernand-Vergelesse 1st Cru, en Caradeux(white) (flavors seem a bit under developed)
2.75 stars — 2007 Bourgogne Pinot Noir (spicy by thin)
2.8 stars — 2007 Pernand-Vergelesse 1st Cru, Vergelesses (red) (seemed overcropped but has potential in later harvests)

Collin Bourisset
2.25 stars — 2007 Bourgogne Pinot Noir
3 stars — 2008 Macon Villages
3 stars — 2008 Vire-Clesse

Maison Joseph DROUHIN
3.25 stars — 2008 Chablis, Vaudon
3.5 to 3.75 stars — 2007 Puligny-Montrachet
3 stars — 2007 Chorey-les-Beaune (an easy drinking wine)
3.25 stars — 2007 Cote de Beaune
3 stars — 2007 Gevrey-Chambertin

Domaine FOURREY & Fils
2.75 stars — 2008 Chablis 1st Cru, Mont de Milieu (had a musty note to it — would have score much higher otherwise)
3.25 stars — 2008 Chablis 1st Cru, Vaillons

Domaine Pierre GLANTENAY
3 stars — 2007 Volnay
3.5 stars — 2007 Volnay 1st Cru, Santenots
2.25 stars — 2006 Pommard (earthy and some brett)

Maison JAFFELIN — A producer to watch!
3 stars — 2007 Puligny-Montrachet
2.25 stars — 2007 Meursault (too much acidity — flavors are overwhelmed)
3.25 stars — 2007 Rully (white)
3 stars — 2007 Pouilly-Fuisse (good mineral and green apple)
2.5 stars — 2008 Macon Peronne (strong honeyed fruits)
3 stars — 2007 Chassagne-Montrachet
2.25 stars — 2007 Rully (red) (light concentration and quite earthy)
3.5 stars — 2007 Givry 1st Cru, les Grandes Vignes
2.75 stars — 2007 Beaune 1st Cru, Les Cent Vignes
3 stars — 2007 Pommard
3.25 stars — 2007 Nuits-Saint-George

2.25 stars — 2008 Macon Villages (funky taste)
2.5 stars — 2007 Bourgogne Chardonnay, Vieilles Vignes
3 stars — Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Vieilles Vignes (very soft wine but seemed a tad out of balance)

Chateau de Messey/Domaine BELLEVILLE
3 stars — 2007 Mercury (white) (floral, strong mineral and good concentration)
3.25 stars — 2007 Rully 1st Cru, la Fosse (ripe fruit – apple and mineral)
3.75 stars — 2007 Puligny-Montrachet, les Boudrieres
3.5 stars — 2006 Meursault 1st Cru, la Piece sous le Bois
3 stars — 2007 Aloxe-Corton

Domaine des MALANDES — Outstanding producer
2.5 stars — 2008 Petit Chablis
3.5 stars — 2008 Chablis, Vieilles Vignes, Tour du Roy (50% oak)
3.25 stars — 2008 Chablis 1st Cru, Cote de Lechet
3 stars — 2008 Chablis 1st Cru, Vau De Vey
3.5 stars — 2007 Chablis Grand Cru, Vaudesir
4 stars — 2007 Chablis Grand Cru, les Clos

Domaine PARENT
2.75 stars — 2007 Bourgogne Pinot Noir (good acidity, should improve in the bottle)
3 stars — 2007 Pommard
3.5 stars — 2007 Pommard 1st Cru, les Epenots
3.75 stars — 2007 Corton Grand Cru, Les Renardes (needs many years of bottle age)
3.25 stars — 2007 Corton Grand Cru (red) (violets)
2.75 stars — 2007 Corton Grand Cru (white)

Chateau de VILLARS Fontaine
2.75 stars — 2002 Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, les Jiromees (white)
3 stars — 2003 Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, le Rouard (white)
2.75 stars — 1997 Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, les enevrieres
2 stars — 1993 Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, les Genevries

02 Feb 2010 19th Annual Zinfandel Festival Grand Tasting
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Last Saturday was the 19th Annual ZAP Grand Tasting at Fort Mason, San Francisco.  I was lucky enough to get into the trade portion of the tasting at 10:00 AM.  The trade crowd is maybe 1000 to 1500 people vs. the general portion which was between 5000 and 6000 people.  The attendance this year seemed much lower than in previous years — it could also be that I left around 2:00 PM (only an hour into the general portion).

I was in speed tasting mode so I only have a star rating from 1 to 5 where 5 is the best.  A new find for me was C.G. Di Arie Vineyard & Winery — the owner is a food scientist who has moved into wine making.  He has done a very good job with his wines — give them a try!  The Gregory Graham, Gamba, Mazzocco and Edmeades wines really stood out for me this year.  I strongly suggest that you try their wines / visit the wineries.   The wines are listed alphabetically by winery

Bella Vineyards & Wine Cave, Healdsburg, Sonoma
3.75 to 4 stars — 2007 Lily Hill, Dry Creek Valley $38 – (light, complex, layered with ripe fruit but not overly so)
3.75 stars — Two Patch, Alexander Valley, $38

Boeger Winery, Placeville, Sierra Foothills
3.5 to 3.75 stars – 2006 Walker Vineyard, El Dorado, $18

Bradford Mountain Winery, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma

3.5 stars — 2006 Dry Creek Valley, Dry Creek Valley, $28
3.75 stars — 2006 Grist Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, $34

Brutocao Cellars, Hopland, Mendocino
3.3 stars — 2007 Estate Reserve, Hopland Ranches, Mendocino, $34
3.25 stars — 2006 Estate, Hopland Ranches, Mendocino, $22

C. G. Di Arie Vineyard & Winery
3.5 stars — 2006 Gunther Vineyard, Shenandoah Valley, $25
4.25 stars — 2006 Southern Exposure, Shenandoah Valley, $35
3.75 stars — 2007 Sierra Foothills, $18

Calcareous Vineyards, Paso Robles, Central Coast
4.25 stars — 2005 Twisted Sisters, Kate’s Vineyard, Paso Robles, $26
4 stars — 2006 Calcareous Vineyard, Kate’s Westside Vineyard, Paso Robles, $26

Candor/Hope Family Vineyards, Paso Robles, Central Coast
3.25 stars — NV Candor, Central Coast — a zinfandel blend, good concentration

Chatom Vineyards, Murphys, Sierra Foothills
3.5 stars — 2006 Calaverous, $19
3.75 stars — 2008 Barrel Sample, Calaveras, $19

D-Cubed Cellars, St. Helena, Napa Valley
3.75 stars — 2006 Napa Valley, $27
3.25 stars — 2006 St. Helena, $32
3.25 stars — 2006 Howell Mountain, $37

Edmeades Winery, Redwood Valley, Mendocino (they poured 7 zinfandels and they were all very good this year)
4 stars — 2006 Perli Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge, Mendocino Ridge, $31
4.25 stars — Piffero Vineyard, Redwood Valley, Redwood Valley, $31
4 stars — 2007 Mendocino County, Mendocino County, $20

Four Vines Winery, Paso Robles, Central Coast
3.25 stars — 2007 Biker, Paso Robles, $25
3.25 stars — 2007 Dusi, Amador, $25
3 stars — 2007 Sophisticate, Sonoma County, $25
4.25 stars — 2007 Zinbitch (blend of Biker and Dusi) — only 300 magnums made!

Gamba Vineyards and Winery, Fulton, Northern Sonoma
4.5 stars — 2008 Estate Old Vine, Russian Rivery Valley, $43
4 stars — 2008 Moratto Vineyard, Russian River Valley, $43
4.25 stars — 2008 Russian River Valley, $35

Gregory Graham Wines, Lower Lake, Lake County
4 stars — 2007 Crimson Hill, Red Hills, Lake County, $18
4.5 stars — 2007 Crimson Hill, Red Hills, Lake County (late harvest – 375ml), $22

HammerSky Vineyards, Paso Robles, Central Coast
3.25 stars — 2007 Estate Reserve, Paso Robles, $39
3.25 stars — 2007 Open Invitation Zin Blend, Paso Robles, $49

Harney Lane Winery, Lodi, Central
2.5 stars — 2007 Old Vine, Lizzy James Vineyard, Lodi, $33
2.75 stars — 2007 Lodi, $20

Hendry, Napa, Napa Valley
2 stars — 2006 Block 7 & 22, Napa Valley, $30

Klinker Brick Winery
3.35 stars — 2007 Old Vine, Lodi, $18 (light but complex aromas and flavors)
3 stars — 2007 Old Ghost Old Vine, Lodi, $37 (fruit was overripe)

Lava Cap Winery, Placerville, Sierra Foothills
3 stars — 2006 Rocky Draw, Lava Cap, El Dorado, $22

Leonhardt Vineyards, Geyserville, Northern Sonoma
3.3 stars — 2007 Rserve, Dry Creek Valley, $48 (complex and spicy)

Mauritson Family Winery, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma
3.75 stars — 2007 Rockpile Cemetery Vineryard, Cemetrery Vineyard, Rockpile, $39
3.5 — 2007 Rockpike Ridge Vineyard, Rockpile Ridge, Rockpile

Mazzocco Winery, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma (they had 4 reserve zinfandels — all very good and 6 regular zinfandels — all very good but not quite as concentrated as the reserve wines)
4 stars — 2007 Maple Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, $32
4.5 stars — 2007 Maple Vineyard, Reserve, Dry Creek Valley, $40
4.25 stars — 2007 Smith Orchard Reserve, Dry Creek, Valley, $50
3.75 to 4 stars — 2007 Pony Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, $32

Murphy-Goode, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma
3 stars — 2006 Snake Eyes, Alexander Valley, $35
3 stars — 2007 Liar’s Dice, Sonoma County

Novy Family Wines, Santa Rosa, Northern Sonoma
3 stars — 2008 Novy, Russian River Valley, $20

Outpost Estate Wines, Angwin, Napa Valley
3.5 stars — 2008 Barrel Sample, $45 (will be bottled in 3 months, good concentration with a elegant layered finish)

Perry Creek Winery, Someset, Sierra Foothills
2 stars — 2006 Zinman, Sierra Foothills, $14
2.5 stars — 2006 Altitude:2401 Fair Play Farms, Sierra Foothills

Renwood Winery, Plymouth, Sierra Foothills
2.5 stars — 2006 Grandmere, Amador, $40

Rosenblum Cellars, Alameda, Bay Area
3.5 stars — 2007 Rockpile, $?

Saddleback Cellars, Oakville, Napa Valley
3.5 stars — 2006 Old Vine, Napa Valley, $36

Selby Winery, Healdsburg, Northern Sonoma
3.5 stars — 2007 Bobcat, Sonoma County, $34 (ripe flavors w/ RS and 17.8%abv!)
3.75 stars — 2007 Old Vine, Sonoma County, $24 (elegant, layered, concentrated with 15.7% abv)
4 stars — 2007 Zinfandel Port, Sonoma County (fragant, perfume aromas with a clean finish)

Carol Shelton Wines, Santa Rosa, Northern Sonoma
3 stars — 2006 Wild Thing, Cox Vineyard, Mendocino County, $24
3 stars — 2006 Rocky Reserve, Florence Vineyard, Rockpile, $33
4 stars — 2006 Karma Zinfandel

Sierra Starr Vineyards, Grass Valley, Sierra Foothills
3.5 stars — 2009 Zinjolais, Sierra Foothills (Zinfandel fermented using carbonic maceration — this would be a great wine chilled in warm weather.  Note: this must be a unique wine!)
2.5 stars — 2006 Old Clone, Estate Vineyard, Sierra Foothills

St. Francis Winery & Vineyard, Santa Rosa, Sonoma Valley
3.5 stars — 2007 Karen’s Terrace, Sonoma Valley, $35
3.25 stars — 2007 Old Vine, Sonoma County, $25

Storrs Winery, Santa Cruz, Bay Area
3.25 stars — 2005 Lion Oaks Vineyard, Bay Area, $34
3.25 stars — 2006 Rusty Ridge, Bay Area, $30

Storybook Mountain Wines, Calistoga, Napa Valley
3.25 to 3.5 stars — 2007 Mayacamas Range Estate, Napa, $34

Tin Barn Vineyards, Sonoma, Sonoma Valley
3 stars — 2007 Dalraddy Vineyard, Napa Valley, $27

Valley of the Moon Winery, Glen Ellen, Sonoma Valley
2.75 stars — 2006 Estate Old Vine, Sonoma Valley, $25
3 stars — 2007 Sonoma County, $20

Venge Vineyards, Calistoga, Napa Valley
2.75 stars — 2007 Scout’s Honor, Napa Valley, $38

Zina Hyde Cunningham Winery, Boonville, Mendocino
2.5 stars — 2007 Old Vine, Redwood Valley, $30 (lacking in fruit and too many tannins)

29 Oct 2009 Barrel tasting the remaining 2008 vintage wines

I did barrel tasting from the remaining 2008 wines in barrel with some wine club members on Tuesday.  The wines tasted were: 2008 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast; 2008 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese, Santa Barbara; 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville Vineyard, Napa Valley; 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Rafael Vineyard, Napa Valley.  All of the wines are tasting very good! :)

I was quite happy at how all of the wines showed.  Here are some tasting notes:
The 2008 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese was tremendous!  It has great concentration with aromas and flavors of blue fruit (blueberry, boysenberry) and cherry.  The wine is not as classic as the 2007 Sangiovese is but I think a bit of blending with Sangiovese from the Stophlman vineyard will bring in a the lovely sour cherry flavor one looks for in Sangiovese.  Also, a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon will give it a long and lovely finish.

The 2008 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, which has had its primary blend done already is very similar to the 2007 Pinot Noir with the exception of more smoke, earth and hints of spice.  The acidity on the wine might need a slight tweek just before bottling but seems very good during my quick taste.  If you liked the 2007 Pinot Noir, I think you will enjoy the 2008 version very much.  I will be doing the final blend of the 2008 Pinot Noir to have it bottled in time for Christmas but not Thanksgiving. 

The two Cabernet Sauvignons are amazing!  The wine is concentrated, rich and complex.  The fruit flavors of the Coombsville vineyard is quite striking — lots of cassis with some nice middle-palate fruit and a long finish.  The Rafael Vineyard fruit tastes of dense raspberry jam.  It is not typical for Cabernet Sauvignon to have a raspberry flavor but the combination of the two wines will be very good.  I will be looking to blend in some petite verdot to add complexity with a spicey and tannic element and some Cabernet Franc for aromatics.  The resulting blend will be powerful wine with some nice aging potential.

18 Oct 2009 Wine & Spirits top 100 – October 14, 2009
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I attended the Wine & Spirits annual top 100 wines tasting event held at The Galleria at the San Francisco Design Center on October 14, 2009.  It is a very well attended event; this year I would estimate the attendance at roughly 550 – 600 people.  The event is well worth your time to attend next year!  I highly recommend it. 

The purpose of the event is allow people to try the wines from top 100 wineries from the year in one place.  It is a great experience to get an understanding of what the wine critics of Wine & Spirits are giving high scores, what varietals are in favor, learn about new wine regions and the specific wine styles of those regions.  The wines being poured were in the following categories: sparkling wine, Crisp white wines, floral whites, rich whites, sherry, pinot noir, Austrian, Italian, Iberian, Rhone family, Cabernet family, Zinfandel and Port.  It is a bit of an odd classification but it helped to have the wines grouped on the tasting floor.

I tasted quite a few wines so the rating (out of 5 stars) and comments are very limited.  Disclaimer: your mileage may vary due to the number of tastes:

Roederer Estate, 2002 Anderson Valley L’Ermitage Brut – 4 stars [W&S:93, $45]
Roederer Estate, NV Champagne Brut Premier – 3.75 stars
Schloss Gobelsburg, NV Kamptal Brut Reserve – 4.25 stars (a lovely blend of Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay)

Crisp whites:
Boutari, 2008 Santorini — 3 stars (Assyrtiko — fresh cherry, mineral, sea shells)
Gaia, 2008 Santorini Wild Ferment Assyrtiko — 2 stars (aged in acacia wood, too much wood and mineral and lack of fruit) [W&S:94, $35]
Gaia, 2008 Santorini Thalassitis — 2.5 stars (mild cherry, mineral)
Schiopetto, 2006 Collio Sauvignon — 3.5 stars (grapefruit, high acidity) [W&S: 95, $30]

Floral Whites:
Sheldrake Point, 2007 Finger Lakes New York Dry Riesling — 3.5 stars overall, 4.5 stars nose (smells like a high-end Mosel riesling, palate comes across as too dry for the aromas)
Sheldrake Point, 2007 Finger Lakes New York Dry Magdalena Vineyard Riesling – 4 stars (balanced flavors, aromas, intensity with botritysis elements).
Kilikanoon, 2007 Clare Valley Mort’s Reserve Watervale Riesling — 2.5 stars [W&S:93, $35]
Dr. Loosen, 2007 Mosel Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese — 4 stars
Dr. Loosen, 2007 Mosel Erdener Pralat Riesling Auslese GoldKapsel — 4.75 stars (not cloying, good acid with great Mosel characteristics (floral, petrol, stone fruit)
Joh. Jos. Prum, 2007 Moswel Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese — 3 stars
Nigl, 2007 Kremstal Kremsleiten Riesling — 3 stars (mild floral, light stone fruit)
Nigl, 2003 Kremstal Kremsleiten Riesling — 2.75 stars (mineral, white floral)

Rich Whites:
Marcel Deiss, 2004 Alsace Grasberg — 4.25 stars to 4.5 stars (lovely lush Edelwicker style Alsace blend — very balanced, good concentration with sufficient acid to last many years) [W&S: 94, $67]
E. Guigal, 2005 Hermitage Blanc — 3 stars (noticable oak is distracting from excellent aromas and palate flavors)
E. Guigal, 2007 Condrieu — 2.75 stars (wet wood, hint of humus)

Pinot Noir:
Anthill Farms, 2007 Mendocino County Comptche Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir – 4.25 to 4.5 stars (lovely delicate and refined Pinot Noir) [W&S: 96, $46]
DeLoach, 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir — 3 stars  (medium concentration, red fruit)
Flowers, 2006 Sonoma Coast Andreen-Gale Pinot Noir — 3.75 stars (medium intensity aromas, light floral, red fruit)
Peay, 2007 Sonoma Coast Scallop Shelf Pinot Noir — 3.5 stars (floral, light, red fruit) [W&S:95, $52]
Peay, 2006 Sonoma Coast La Bruma Syrah — 3.5 to 4 stars (fennel, ansise, black pepper) [W&S: 95, $45]
W. H. Smith, 2007 Sonoma Coast Maritime Pinot Noir –3 stars (earthy, dark fruit, classic sonoma coast profile)

Moric, 2007 Burgenland Blaufrankisch — 3.25 stars (blueberry, boysenberry)
Moric, 2006 Burgenland Alte Reven Neckenmarkt Blaufrankisch — 4 stars (blue fruit, soft tannins, medium + concentration — a lovely wine) [W&S:93, $95]

Elvio Cogno, 2004 Barolo Vigna Elena — 3.5 stars (old style of Barolo before recent adoption of more modern winemaking techniques)
Elvio Cogno, Barolo Ravera — 4 stars (modern style of Barolo — a bit more fruit driven)
Poderi Luigi Einaudi, 2004 Barolo Nei Cannubi — 3 stars (violets, dried red fruit)
Poderi Luigi Einaudi, 2007 Dolcetto de Dogliani Vigna Tecc — 3 stars (fresh red fruit — slight bitterness (tannins) on the finish)
Vietti, 2005 Barbaresco Masseria — 3 stars (high acid, slight bitter tannins, very dry finish)

CVNE/Conino, 2005 Rioja Graciano — 3.5 stars (red currants, grapey)
CVNE/Conino, 2005 Rioja Reserva — 3.5 stars
Buil & Gine, 2005 Montsant Baboix — 3.5 stars (Smoky, earth, red fruit w/ hint of earthiness
Buil & Gine, 2008 Rueda Nosis — 3.5 stars (Verdelho — red grapefruit, great acid)
Quinta do Noval, 2007 Porto — 4.25 stars (excellent port would have scored higher but slight note of latex paint)

Rhone Family:
Delas Freres, 2005 Hermitage Marquise de la Tourette – 3 stars ( Frances Ferrier cooperage – spicy )
Delas Freres, 2006 Crozes-Hermitage Les Launes — 3 stars
Qupe, 2005 Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido X-Block Syrah — 2.5 stars (dry and bitter notes — aged in hermitage cooperage)
Qupe, 2007 Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido Hillside Estate Roussanne — 2.75 stars (dry, mineral)
d’Arenberg, 2006 McLaren Vale The Ironstone Pressing — 4 stars (very similar to Lionheart 2007 Dry Creek Valley Syrah)
Leeuwin Estate, 2006 Margaret River Art Series Shiraz — 4 stars (restrainted, balanced old world style syrah) [W&S: 94, $35]
Leeuwin Estate, 2006 Margaret River Prelude Vineyards Chardonnay — 4.5 stars
Yalumba, 2006 Barossa Valley The Scribbler Cabernet-Shiraz — 3.75 stars (rich, complex, balanced)

Cabernet Family:
L’ Ecole N’ 41, 2006 Walla Walla Valley Perigee Seven Hills Vineyard — 3.5 stars (noticable fine-grained tannins but pleasant)
L’ Ecole N’ 41, 2006 Walla Walla Valley Apogee Pepper Bridge Vineyard — 3.5 stars (needs more time in the bottle and will improve)
Saviah, 2005 Columbia Valley Laurella — 3.5 stars (super tuscan sangiovese – rich and complex) [W&S:94, $36]
Beaulieu Vineyard, 2005 Napa Valley Tapestry Reserve — 3.25 stars (a bit thin, drying tannins)
Beaulieu Vineyard, 2005 Napa Valley Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cab. Sauv – 3.75 stars
Beringer, 2005 Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon — 3.5 stars (rich but expected more from the wine)
Diamond Creek, 2005 Red rock Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon — 4 stars (violets, red currant, concentrated) [W&S:98, $175]
Diamond Creek, 2005 Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon — 4 stars
Louis M. Martini, 2004 Sonoma Valley Monte Rosso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon — 3.5 stars (spicy, red currant)
Ridge, 2005 Santa Cruz Mountains Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvginon — 3.5 to 3.75 stars (floral, cassis, red currant, slightly drying tannins — needs more time in the bottle) [W&S:97, $145]
Ramey, 2006 Napa Valley Annum Cabernet Sauvignon — 3 stars
Skouras, 2006 Greece Synoro — 4.5 stars

Dashe, 2006 Alexander Valley Old Vine Todd Brothers Ranch Zinfandel — 3 stars (slight acetal  acetate notes) [W&S:96, $32]
Dashe, 2006 Dry Creek Valley Old Vine Louvau Vineyard Zinfandel — 3 stars
Storybook Mountain, 2006 Napa Valley Eastern Exposures Zinfandel — 3.75 stars
Storybook Mountain, 2005 Napa Valley Seps Estate Cabernet Sauvignon — 3.25 stars

1991 Porto Colheita — 4.5 stars (walnut, sherry, hint of aldehyde)

09 Apr 2009 Taste of Mendocino – April 7th, 2009

The Taste of Mendocino was put on by the Associate of Mendocino County Grapegrowers at the Golden Gate Club at The Presidio in San Francisco.  The wine producers of Mendocino represented all of the 11 approved and pending AVAs in the larger North Coast appellation.  The sub-AVAs are: Anderson Valley (Sept 1983), Cole Ranch (May 1983), Covelo (March 2006), Dos Rios (Nov. 2005), McDowell Valley (Feb. 1987), Mendocino (July 1984), Mendocino Ridge (Dec. 1997), Potter Valley (Nov. 1983), Redwood Valley (Feb 1997), Sanel Valley (pending), Ukiah Valley (pending), and Yorkville Highlands (June 1998).  I noticed that the wines coming out of Potter Valley and Redwood Valley are showing quite a bit of complexity and layered aromas and flavors — keep an eye out for wines coming out of these sub-AVAs.

The event had 65 wineries presenting their wines from the trade and medias consideration.  I was only able to taste a few of the wines at the event.  Overall, the quality of the wines were quite good and fairly consistent.  The value for money factor is very good for the Mendocino wines in general — keep an eye out for them!

I was able to taste the following wines:

A Donkey and Goat Winery:  2008 Grenache Rose – McDowell Valley ($10.64 / 168 cases); It was a very nice light bodies and balanced Grenache Rose.  2007 Syrah – Broken Leg Vineyard ($24.61 / 245 cases); It was big, meaty syrah that was quite pleasant.  2006 Syrah – Perli Vineyard ($37 / 48 cases); this was a serious syrah and worth giving a try.  It was fun to catch up with Tracey Brandt as she and her husband starting making wine at Crushpad just slightly before I did.  We had met several times at the old Crushpad location on Bryant. 

Anthill Farms Winery:  The distributor for Anthill Farms was pouring at the event.  The Anthill Farms wines are very impressive.  The wines are some of the best examples of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir you will find.  The folks at Anthill Farms are making some impressive wines — seek out this wine to try it and share with good friends!

Bink Wines: The winemaker, Deborah Schatzlein, was pouring the wine at the table — always nice to meet the winemaker!  I tried just the 2005 Pinot Noir – Weir Vineyard ($40 / 300 cases) which was very enjoyable!  It has improved in the bottle since the WBC last year where they were pouring it at the live blogging event.

Brutocao Cellars: I tried several of the wines being poured and enjoyed all of them.  I can strongly recommend the 2006 Pinot Noir – Estate ($26 / 1770 cases) [It did very well in the 7th Annual Pinot Noir Summit blind-tasting -- more details to come in the near future.] and the 2005 Coro – Estate (50% zinfandel, 20% sangiovese, 15% barbera, 15% syrah).  Coro is blended wine that can only be produced in the Mendocino area and must have at least 40% zinfandel and a maximum of 70% in the blend, 2nd Tier Varietals: Percentage of any ONE not to exceed Zinfandel as majority component and max of 5% out of vintage. Syrah, Petite Sirah, Carignane, Sangiovese, Grenache, Dolcetto, Charbono, Barbera, Primitivo; Free Play: Up to 10% of total blend from any single or combination of vinifera source. – See this link for the entire Coro protocol.  The Coro was the best of the 5 that I tried at the event!

Chance Creek Winery: I tried all the wines and preferred the 2006 Sauvignon Blanc – SB ($21 / 200 cases) it reminded me of a well-down Bordeaux Blanc; 2005 Sangiovese ($17 / 990 cases) was a nice combination off Dark fruit, cedar, earth will a nice overall balance.

Chiarito Vineyard: I enjoyed the 2006 Nero D’Avola ($50 / 60 cases) quite a bit — a good example of Nero D’ Avola, it is on par with some of the best wines I have tasted out of Sicily [Nose: medium intensity -- perfume, red fruit; palate: juicy, red fruit (cherry and raspberry), with licorice; The 2005 Zinfandel was a nice example of Mendocino zinfandel but not the best [Appearance: opaque ruby/purple; Nose: medium intensity -- perfrume, slight medicinal quality, dried red fruit; Palate: medium, soft tannins, flavors of ripe cherry, cranberry and red currants with medium+ acidity].

Copain Wines: The wines from Copain were very good (as expected).  I had an interesting discussion about how the syrahs were produced — trying to get some pointers for my syrah!  I was told that the syrahs all had at least 15% whole clusters in the fermentation, the cap management protocol is very interesting (stopping of grapes via feet and only up to two times a day if that many — slow fermentation with minimal cap management).  I wonder how they manage to get such serious extraction and dark colors in their wines!.  The 2007 Syrah – Baker Vineyard ($35 / 205 cases) was very good with some serious aging potential. 

Eaglepoint Ranch Vineyard: I was hoping to say hello to Casey and find out how things are going at the vineyard this year — I love the syrah and petite sirah grown by Casey!  However, he was not able to attend the event which was unfortunate.

Frey Vineyards: The wines were a bit on the simple side but enjoyable quaffing wines.  The 2005 Syrah – Biodynamic ($20 / 1260 cases) was enjoyable and would be great with BBQ.

Graziano Family of Wines: Greg Graziano the winemaker was pouring at the event.  It was really enjoyable discussing the wines and grape growing in Mendocino.  Many of the wineries get at least of their grapes from the Graziano family.  I enjoyed the  2005 Barbera – Enotria ($17 / 900 cases), 2005 Coro ($37.50 / 466 cases) and a fantastic late-harvest Chenin blanc ($17 for 375ml).  The Chenin Blanc could have been out of the Loire in a good year; I highly recommend seeking this out!

Handley Cellars: Both of the Pinot Noirs are worth trying — 2006 Pinot Noir – Anderson Valley ($30 / 4062 cases) and 2006 Pinot Noir – Mendocino County ($25 / 1516 cases).

Lazy Creek Vineyards: They are a most stop when you are visiting the Anderson Valley.  They make really good Pinot Noir.  The 2006 Pinot Noir – Anderson Valley ($39 / 730 cases) is worth seeking out!

Lolonis Winery: I have really enjoyed their wine for the last 7 to 8 years.  They are a very consistent producer of reasonably priced wines.  The 2005 Petite Sirah- Orpheus ($38 / 1000 cases) is very good, very dark color, blue and black fruit will a balanced acidity that will allow this wine to age for at least 10 years.  If you like Petite Sirah, go get a bottle or two of this!  The 2002 Petros – Redwood Valley ($50 / 800 cases) was drinking very well but should not be held more than another 2 or 3 years.

McNnab Ridge Winery: I really enjoyed the 2006 Zinfandel – Cononiah Vineyard, Potter Valley ($22 / 200 cases).  It was like a combination of very good Mendocino Zinfandel and Anderson Valley Pinot Noir — silky tannins, lovely perfume, floral elements with spicy, red fruit backbone.  The 2005 Coro ($37 / 172 cases) as well.

Naughty Boy Vineyards: The 2006 Pinot Noir ($24.90 / 642 cases) was made by Greg Graziano.  The Pinot Noir had violets, cherry (red and black) on the nose; palate had cherry, kirsch, floral with a medium body, overall very balanced in intensity, acidity and alcohol with complexity in the aroma and flavor profile.

Neese Vineyards: I tried both the 2002 and 2003 Zinfandels ($14.99 and $13.40 respectively).  The zinfandels were very different but were clearly from Mendocino — light to medium body, lots of red fruit, hint of cedar and some mild spice.  The wines were not great but for the price point not a bad value.

Parducci Wine Cellars: The 2005 Coro ($35 / 395 cases) was quite enjoyable but did not have the balance and complexity of most of the other Coros.  The wine may just need to have more time in the bottle for the blend to settle down.

Roederer Estate: The sparkling wines of Roederer are almost always a very good value for the money especially being produced in the US vs. Champagnes.  The 2002 l’Ermitage ($45 / 8300 cases) was wonderful; light pear, apple with good yeast, toast and crisp acidity.  It would be easy to sit down in the warm sun with a good friend and finish off a bottle of this before you knew it!

Saracina Vineyards: I tried the 2007 Atrea — “The Choir” ($20 / 836 cases) but was not impressed.  The blend of 76% Roussanne and 24% Viognier should have been much more aromatic and the palate weight was too heavy due to the large amount of Viognier in the blend.  I prefer a lighter style of white Rhone Blend (see Lionheart Wines 2007 The Angel’s Share, Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley). 

Terra Savia: I had a good talk with Jim Milone, the winemaker, regarding how a small winery / label can be successful.  He has been in the wine business for 30 years.  He advice was start small and slowly build up the brand and keep your prices down so you can ride out the three year cycles of what is in vogue and what is not in vogue.  His 2005 Petit Verdot – Reserve ($15 / 450 cases) was a nice, solid example of Petit Verdot — red fruit, a bit of floral, warm spices o’plenty; for the price it is a great way to get introduced to Petit Verdot which is normally very expensive due to the limited amounts that are grown in California.

25 Mar 2009 Pre-Rhone Rangers dinner — amazing!
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My wife and I had several friends over for dinner before the Rhone Rangers events of last weekend.  The reason why I mention this here is that the food was fantastic and the paired wine was quite a treat!  We had been saving some very good wines we picked up in Tuscany during our honeymoon in 2003.  It seemed like a great time to share the wines. :)

Menu for the dinner
Crab Salad on Endives

Roederer Estate NV Brut, Anderson Valley

First Course
Spicy Squash Soup

Robert Sinskey 2006 Pinot Blanc, Los Carneros (1.5l)

Main Course
Osso Bucco with Gremolada
Wilted Collard Greens with Polenta and Onions in Port Sauce

Caprili, 1997 Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Riserva (for 1998 not 1997 vintage)
Fattoria Del Cerro, 1999 Vigneto Antica Chiusina, Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano DOCG
Casanova de Neri, 1998 Tenuta Nuova, Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG
Whitcraft Winery, 2002 French Camp Vineyard, Lagrein, San Luis Obispo County
Amphora, 2006 Windsor Oaks Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mousse with Blackberries steeped in port with Almond Wafers

Robert Sinskey, 2003 Zinskey Late Harvest Zinfandel, Napa

The food and wine pairings were quite lovely!  I can highly recommend all the recipes used for this dinner.  The cab salad on endive had a great combination of lively lemon tang to go with the crab and the slight bitterness of the endive.  The champagne picks up the best parts of the appetizer. 

The Spicy Squash soup would be great on any cold evening but especially in the fall.  The cumin in the soup can be a bit strong but would make the soup a great combination with any beef dish to follow the soup.  The focassia had asseggio cheese baked into it which was a very nice touch.  Robert Sinskey Pinot Blanc is some of the best made in the US; it is done with a light touch, well balanced, nice floral elements but good acidity — made in an Alsacian style. 

I was not what I was looking forward to more the Osso Bucco or the Italian wines…a good problem to have, in my opinion. :)   The Osso Bucco was slow cooked for 3.5 hours and made the house smell amazing.  The combination of the wilted collard greens and the fried polenta combined with a port reduction glazed onions was a fantastic counter-balance to richness of the gremolada covered Osso Bucco.  The food was tremendous — strongly recommend it to you!  The Sangioveses from Tuscany were all good but the Casanova di Neri and Fattoria Del Cerro was stunning!  It was a toss-up at the table as to which wine was the better.  Personally, I preferred the Fattoria Del Cerro just due to the fruit profile was a bit riper/slightly bigger.  Each of those wines will easily be very good upto 2025!  The wines have a tremendous level of complexity in the nose and on the palate.  I wish I had taken detailed tasting notes before dinner started.  The wines were quite good when we purchased them in 2003 but they have definitely improved with the 5 years of additional cellar aging.   I strongly recommend that you decant the brunellos at least 6 to 10 hours before serving; it could take up to 24 hours for the wines to really open up to their full potential. 

One of our guests brought over the Amphora Pinot Noir and the Whitcraft Winery Lagrein wines.  The wines were a nice change of pace from the Italian wines — a good lead in to dessert.  The Lagrein was very good — a huge wine not for the faint of heart or people concerned with having stained teeth!  The Lagrein was big, black, inky and delicous (blue and black fruit with high fine-grained tannins — 14.9% abv but not noticable).  The sad thing was that 2002 was the last year the Lagrein was made by Whitcraft; the varietal is very hard to find outside of northern Italy.

The dessert was very good and a great compliment to the main course.  The blackberries were soaked in the late harvest Zinfandel port during the day before the dinner.  Before dessert was served, Jen put all the fruit marinade left over back into the bottle to be served with dessert.  The combination of black berry juice with the late harvest zinfandel is highly recommended!