Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Monday, November 24, 2014
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Paso Robles, California
Santa Barbara in November is a place of magic; where long beaches kiss the ocean under blankets of undulating sheep's-wool-fog and dew hangs heavy on every early morning branch. This was where I took my wife, pre-kids, for a little getaway that included just the right balance of mimosas for breakfast, Chardonnay for lunch and Syrah for dinner. In that stillness before Californians start their hustle and bustle I would sit on the balcony and be lulled by the murmur of pulsing surf only a few hundred feet away.
That siren's-call has been luring people to the shores of Central Coast AVA (which stretches from Santa Cruz just north of Monterey all the way to Santa Barbara in the south) for centuries. The Spanish missionaries in the 1700's, the Gold Rush in the 1800's and these days it must be called the "Grape Rush" with so many new faces in the wine industry here!
In few parts of California is this more apparent than Paso Robles AVA; having grown from about 5 wineries in 1980 to 20 in the early 1990's to over 200 in 2014. And 2014 was a big year for these wineries: having gone through the (slightly) controversial subdividing into 11 sub-AVAs. This was a move that at once gave credence to the thought that Paso Robles carries an incredibly diverse array of soil compositions, slope/aspects, rainfall and flora. Hard to believe that this could be realized in only three decades when Burgundy took centuries to come to the same conclusions about their region. Burgundy: that archetype of classification for wine-regions, is only 3 times larger then Paso Robles AVA and yet has 9 times as many sub-regions (known as AOC in France). Yet remember; we know that wine has been produced in Burgundy for about 2000 years and in Paso Robles for maybe 200.
Well done Paso Robles! Though many of the successful winemakers here have found more victories with Rhone varietals than Burgundy, in this instance Cabernet Sauvignon has found a home. While the Napa fans will (most likely) say that this is too light for their tastes it reminds me of cool, or classic as the Bordelais would say, vintage Bordeaux. And indeed, swirling this in my glass as I write, the term "Cru Bourgeois" springs to mind the moment I smell and sip.
I wish that this could have been an article to enlighten about the team hard at work at Bridlewood but, alas, I cannot. For all of my research I couldn't find any real information about who the winemaker is, who the vineyard manager is or what was the inspiration behind creating this visually stunning winery. A shame Gallo Family Vineyards; we consumers are looking for more than just a good bottle of wine for a decent price! This is the "Golden Age" of wine and there are more choices for us than ever before.
We're looking to be inspired!
Inspiration comes, in most instances, from people. Tell us the who! Share with us about the hard-working people who are crafting your products. They deserve to have their stories told and we yearn to hear them. For surely the people who crafted this wine, with it's dimensions, it's finesse and generous palate - surely those people have a story to share.
88+ points, Very Good Value
$19 CAD in BC
$10-$14 USD in USA
... this wine shows impressive skill for it's modest price; generously layered aromas carry rich tones of red and dark berries, warm scrub-brush and impressive dark floral notes such as irises and peonies with a hint of tomato leaf... the palate is ultra-crisp and clean! Certainly not what one would expect from such an incredibly hot growing zone, this wine is full of life and fresh fresh fresh! Perky full- acid carry flavors of young raspberry and cherry and fine/chewy tannin. The only thing missing for the Bordeaux-lovers in the audience would be that graphite-minerality but I imagine these are still young vines and are more then capable of giving more to the wine in successive vintages. FOOD PAIRING would be simple for me: play the wine off local cuisine! I love Mexican food in places like San Luis Obispo or Pismo Beach or Santa Ynez... and I'm told by friends that even Mexicans consider it some of the most authentic Mexican food around. I'm partial to a great Carne Asada myself; the heavy char flavors, the smokiness, the grilled jalapeno sets everything perfectly and the bright berry tones in the wine will give this terrific balance. If this isn't close-by, try venison! Wild game always works well with wine that conveys flavors like blueberry and dark cherry which this wine has.
Many thanks to Gallo for the generous sample bottles: I hope that I get to share your story of Who as well as What. As always you can find more recipes, free wine reviews and my notes on premium distillates and cigars on:
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Monday, November 10, 2014
Regular readers of mine will know of my admiration for the winemakers in LAKE CHELAN AVA, Washington... here's the scoop on a terrific event happening there at the end of November. There's no denying the quality coming from this, one of the most northerly wine producing regions on Earth. Make some time to visit these budding viticulturists (pun intended) - you'll be glad you did! Read more about my experiences at Lake Chelan at :
LAKE CHELAN WINE VALLEY HOSTS FALL BARREL TASTING NOV 28-30
Wineries Open Cellar Doors for Behind-the-Scenes Look at Winemaking
Lake Chelan Wine Valley will kick off the holiday season with a weekend of tasting future wine releases straight from the barrel from November 28 through 30. Fall Barrel Tasting takes place each year on the weekend after Thanksgiving and offers visitors the rare chance to experience young, unfinished wines before they’re released to the public. Guests will explore the use of different oak treatments and their impact on the taste, color, tannin and texture of the wine. Guests can visit winery cellar rooms for exclusive tastings with local winemakers and purchase upcoming vintages of some of their favorite wines.
Wines that will be offered to taste throughout the weekend include the following. For a full list and more details, visit www.lakechelanwinevalley.com/events/fall-barrel-tasting/fall-barrel-events.html.
- Atam Winery - Syrah & Barbera
- Benson Vineyards - Two new 2013 vintage wines
- Cairdeas Winery – 2014 Port-style Petite Sirah
- Chelan Estate Winery - 2012 C E Vineyards Reserve Red
- Hard Row to Hoe - 2013 Barbera
- Lake Chelan Winery - 2013 Malbec, a Chelan AVA wine
- Rio Vista wines - Tempranillo
- Tildio Winery - 2013 Malbec and Grenache
- Tsillan Cellars - 2013 Estate Syrah/Malbec
- Tunnel Hill Winery - 2013 Estate Pinot
- Wapato Point Cellars - 2012 Merlot
“Fall Barrel Tasting is such a fun way to taste wines that are so young with our customers and see them light up when something hits them as amazing only a year into the barrel,” said Tsillan Cellars winemaker Shane Collins. “It’s also great to see and chat with people who come every year and reminisce on previous wines and how they now taste in the bottle.”
Guests that extend their wine tasting visit can enjoy some of the wonderful fall recreation Lake Chelan has to offer, including golf, mountain biking and hiking. Small-town charm abounds in Downtown Chelan and Manson, with shopping and dining options for every taste.
About Lake Chelan Wine Valley: Lake Chelan Wine Valley is a thriving community of 21 wineries that are attracting attention from winemakers, grape growers and wine enthusiasts. The Valley was recognized as an AVA in the Federal Register in April 2009. Located in the heart of Washington’s Cascade Mountains, Lake Chelan is a scenic destination three hours east of Seattle, situated on a pristine 50.5-mile lake. Throughout the year, Lake Chelan visitors tour vineyards, meet the winemakers, taste award-winning wines and dine at many winery restaurants – the perfect wine-lovers destination. Some of the varieties that flourish in the Valley include Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Viognier. Learn more at www.lakechelanwinevalley.com.
As always you can find more recipes, free wine reviews and my notes on premium distillates and cigars on:
Facebook @ www.facebook.com/TheChefandTheGrape