Yes, I said rosé for Thanksgiving. Color me pink.
One of the most joyous, fairly rapid transitions I have observed in wine consumer habits the last ten years, is the adoption of rosé by as a serious wine – and for this I am truly thankful.
While the accident that a big winery had many years ago helped save many acres of old Zinfandel vines, it set palates and impressions back by a decade, equating rosé as a ‘blush’ a pink sugary wine. (You can observe me visibly twitch when I hear someone use the word blush.)
The American wine consumer has finally awoken to what Europeans have known for decades, a well made rosé is as valid a wine as a well made white or red, and as enjoyable.
Rosé – Not Just For Summer Picnics
While it’s true, nothing is more refreshing and delightful than a glass of rosé in the spring and summer, on a picnic blanket or your front porch, rosé is still cornered as a summer wine, a phenomenon I disagree with quite strongly. On a wine trip to France two winters ago, I was surprised and pleased to see many cafes had as many if not more rosé by the glass than whites – in January. I also observed, with great interest when a group of winemakers having lunch, again in January, shared a bottle of rosé amongst themselves. Real men drink Pink.
This belief is also reinforced by a fear many wineries hold of having any rosé left in inventory by July. I watch with some chagrin each year as some of the very best rosé made in California are released en masse early in the year, much sent through distribution, and are sold out sometimes in weeks. Selling wine through distribution means its been generally sold at 50% discount, when instead some of that inventory could have been maintained to sell direct to consumer at a much better margin, and lasted longer. Of course there is always the balancing act for a small winery and cash flow.
Also to note, some rosé actually improves with a bit of bottle age. While the general philosophy of Rosé is best drunk bright and fresh, some of the best rosé and my personal favorites, I often cellar for 3-6 months, in some cases longer. In fact its my observation that many wonderful rosé are released too early, too soon after bottling and are sometimes spritzy, show notes of sulfur and are a bit disjointed. I am an acid hound when it comes to wine, but many of these well made rosé also show better after a few months (or more) to let the acid soften a touch, and the flavor profile integrate. Rosé is no different than other wines, it is alive and develops in the bottle.
That said, after the last few years of buying, drinking and cellaring literally hundreds of bottles, most rosé should be drunk by the time new releases are rolling out – Easter is an excellent time to clean out that previous vintage. There are of course, exceptions to every rule – the wonderful Rosé from Bandol are generally considered best if left to sit at least one year, if not longer.
Without Further Adieu – Four Top Picks For Your Holiday Meal
I have written about rosé as a great wine for holiday meals before, and stand by it. Whether it’s as an aperitif, with salads, or if you do as I often and have 3 wines open at once to experiment with all the foods, a snappy rosé holds its own for smiles and cheer as much as a bottle of sparkling.
I have tasted through many dozens of rosé this summer, domestic and imported. Below are four that were all in my top ten, and more importantly, you can go grab a bottle this week. (I find it annoying to see articles coming out right now recommending buying wines that haven’t been available for months.) I have many other favorites from this vintage as well (Broc, Arnot Roberts, Sheldon, Mathiasson, to name a few) but most of these are long sold out.
Three of these selections are mostly sold direct and each has a small quantity left to purchase, if you don’t wait too long. The fourth can usually be found in better wine shops.
No scores this time sorry, but all of these are 90+, for those of you who like ratings. I voted for them with my credit card.
1. Mounts Family Winery – Rosé of Grenache
I am a long time fan of Mounts, and have watched with great pleasure as their Rhone program and wine making philosophies continue to evolve. I was a big fan of their 2010 rosé, was sad when they didn’t release one in 2011, and fell in love with the 2012, and have a few bottles I am hoarding.
Consumers apparently agree, as this was the #2 Consumer Vote at the Rhone Rosé tasting I organized this June, where 100 consumers tasted and ranked their top choices.
Grenache is widely used for rosé in France, but can sometimes be a challenge in California. There is a fear of picking too early and having a vegetal element, but bleeding off juice as a saignée, when Grenache is commonly picked for reds at high ripeness levels, can sometimes push alcohol up, where rosé is generally intended as a modest alcohol wine.
The Mounts Rosé of Grenache was picked just for rosé from their estate vineyard, at 22 Brix, left on the skins for 4 hours, fermented in neutral barrel, and bottled in April. The color is a very light, vibrant pink, with bright red cherry and strawberry notes, and mouth watering lingering acidity. It’s a ridiculous steal at $16 – less than ten cases left, available at the winery only. (Or of course to ship.) 82 cases made. Open this Saturday from 12-4, I will be there!
Mounts is also including shipping on 6+ bottles until Dec 31st.
707-292-8148 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Campovida Rosé of Grenache
The arrival of winemaker Sebastian Donoso has transformed Campovida into a winery to watch and a new favorite of mine. Sebastian, and owners Gary and Anna, are passionate, focused, energetic people who are a delight to visit, and with wonderful small lot wines.
Their 2012 Rosé of Grenache was the #1 Consumer choice at the Rhone Rosé tasting and was simply stunning. Vibrant, taut, fresh, lip smacking. The grapes were destemmed and crushed into macrobins, then cold soaked for 24 hourrs followed by pressing off the skins. Fermented in neutral oak barrels with no malolactic fermentation. Aged in barrel for four months with lees contact and stirred three times, released in April 2013. It’s a little more pricey for a rosé at $34, but it’s a serious wine and worth every penny. 134 cases made.
There are only a few cases left, held mostly in reserve for a December winemakers dinner, but if you go into their Hopland or new Oakland tasting room and tell them you read about it here and they’ll part with a bottle. I highly encourage you to taste the whole lineup.
- Hopland: 13601 Old River Road, Hopland CA Phone: 707.400.6300 Email: email@example.com
- Oakland: 95 Linden St. (at W Embarcadero) Oakland, CA 94607 (707) 744-8797
(p.s. stay tuned in Jan/Feb I will organize a North Coast Rhone Rangers tasting in the Oakland tasting room.)
3. Cartograph Rosé of Pinot Noir
I have come to appreciate how difficult a good rosé can be to make after a few attempts myself, but my summer of 2012 ‘call for Rosé’ tasting where I tasted 60+ rosé over a few weeks, made me especially appreciative of how challenging Rosé of Pinot Noir appears to be, based on tasting results. It’s also gutsy to take grapes that cost $4k+ a ton, and make them into an under $30 bottle of wine.
Alan Baker’s 2011 rosé was wonderful, but is trumped by the 2012. Fortunately for consumers, there is some of the 2012 left, only because they had no tasting room all summer, while they were constructing their gorgeous new one, just recently open to the public.
The 2012 is from the Leonardo Julio Vineyard, in the north end of the Russian River Valley. Picked on Sept 9th, with ~3 hours of skin contact, with a slow ferment over 42 days in stainless steel, and 4 months aging in stainless barrels. Bottled in February, this gorgeous Rosé of Pinot Noir is a steal at $21, only 80 cases made.
The rosé is a very pale pink, an incredibly refreshing array of bright red fruit, fresh strawberry, citrus, mouthwatering acidity and a hint of minerality, that likely has continued to develop since I last tasted it.
If you live near Healdsburg, venture into their newly opened tasting room at 340 Center St, right next to Zin Restaurant in downtown Healdsburg. Don’t forget to try the amazing Russian River Gewurztraminer, and array of Pinot Noirs as well. I’ll be there on Friday stocking up. (p.s. watch for the return (one time only) of the now retired widely popular “Sonoma Wine Meetup” here in January.)
http://www.cartographwines.com (707) 433-8270
4. Bonny Doon Vineyard 2012 Vin Gris
I have raved every year about Bonny Doon’s Vin Gris (rosé.) This year I am kicking myself for not ordering my usual case from their website, however luckily a quick search on Wine Searcher shows it in stock at a wide array of CA shops, ranging from K&L, Beltramo’s and more. (It’s been in stock at Bottle Barn before, but not sure right now, will check tonight and report back.)
This is not a tiny production rosé at 7000 cases, but it holds it’s own with any I have had each year, and rivals those from Provence. The 2012 was a blend of 62% grenache, 17% mourvèdre, 9% roussanne, 6% grenache blanc, 6% cinsault.
Retail prices range from $12-16 dollars. This is a dangerously delicious Rosé, it seems to simply evaporate in the glass. It’s also one that progresses beautifully in the bottle, and I usually open one bottle a month just to enjoy its progression. Easy to drink, yet layered and complex with citrus, white peach, strawberry, ocean breeze, and minerality.
Nikki Lincoln also recently wrote about this wine. What I Drank The Last Few Weeks (Sept 23-Oct 27).
Other recommendations for your Thanksgiving table: Pinot Noir, well made sparkling, and Rhone whites pair with a wide array of foods. Give everyone 3 glasses and open one of each, and try pairing each with what’s on your plate.
And with that, Happy Thanksgiving and cheers!
by Nikki Lincoln
When I signed on to write for this blog, one of the things I was really excited to write about was food and frankly, I haven’t really written too much about it at all. However, this week I had such a crazy dining experience that I decided it was time to take a break from your irregularly scheduled programming and tell you a story about a recent dining experience (there is wine too though, of course).
One of my favorite parts about living in San Francisco are all viagra online of the new restaurants that are constantly popping up around the city. Food has been around as long as people have so it never ceases to amaze me that chefs and restaurateurs are constantly thinking of new concepts for dining experiences. When my friend, Shannon, sent me this article about a new restaurant called TBD opening near my apartment, I was once again amazed and excited to try it out.
The two of us had originally planned to go to the rock climbing gym before dinner so our reservation was pretty late. However, those plans fell through and we decided to show up early to see if we could get a table early or at least get started on some drinks. Our table wasn’t ready early but after browsing through the wine list, Shannon spotted a wine called “The Chocolate Block” and wanted to get it based on name alone. As it turns out, this was one of my favorite wines from South Africa and we decided to just get a bottle and start enjoying it while we waited. We talked about other restaurants we should visit, including TBD’s neighbor (with the same owner) AQ. The wine is a Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet, Cinsault, Viognier blend from the Western Cape as has an amazingly fruit forward nose with delicate black fruit flavor. It is a really enjoyable blend and I would like to pick up a few bottles of it for the house.
The restaurant seated us exactly on time and we quickly knew what we wanted to get after perusing the menu while we waited. Neither of us eat any gluten and Shannon is lactose intolerate. The restaurant had actually called ahead to check for any dietary restrictions or allergies and after we ordered, they checked to see if the dishes were all ok. It was a really appreciated extra touch that can make a big difference in a dining experience. We’ve both become really good at sifting through menus for things that are ok but a lot of times there are unlisted ingredients and it was helpful to have the restaurant checking as well.
Our first dish was a grilled lettuce and duck prosciutto salad. It was incredible and we both loved how the char on the lettuce tasted. As our second dish, a plate of thinly sliced cured ham, appeared, Shannon began to notice it was a bit smoky in the restaurant. With an open kitchen format, it was easy to see the chefs clamoring around the grill. She noted that maybe the hood was broken and we went back to our ham. As two people who love cured meats (I’m a bit worried at the moment because I only have two packages of bacon at home at the moment), this was an amazing treat. There was a great level of saltiness and the texture ranged from chewy to crispy. It was amazing.
Our third dish, a scallop and persimmon ceviche, was dropped at our table when the manager came by and asked if we could step outside while they tried to restart the hood (“I knew it”). We could take our wine with us and they would let us know when it was clear. We grabbed our classes and headed outside with both of us thinking that we should have at least tried a bite of our ceviche before getting up.
It was pretty clear to see that we would not be going back into the restaurant. The servers brought us out our ceviche and the rest of our wine. They also gave out some pumpkin spice soft serve and some sort of cake. They let us know that whatever we were able to enjoy would be comped and the manager gave out his card and said that we could contact him directly for future reservations and he would handle it directly. Then, he came around and said they may be able to accommodate some people next door at AQ.
We headed over there with our wine and were able to be seated rather quickly. We ordered a dish to share and an entree for each of us. Shannon got a quail and sweetbreads dish and I got a lamb with pomegranate. They were both amazing and afterwards, the servers brought around the only gluten free dessert they had. Everything here ended up being comped as well and so we left a nice tip and headed home.
I don’t think there is anything I appreciate more than great customer service. TBD and AQ delivered this and so much more. Eating out is about good food but it’s also about stepping out of your own kitchen and getting treated well. Sometimes things happen that are out of anyone’s control and in this case, I couldn’t imagine it being handled any better than how TBD and AQ handled it. Everyone was polite and accommodating. That goes both ways. The restaurant couldn’t help what happened, we didn’t need to make it worse by being difficult customers. All in all, it ended up being a great night with great food, and a fun little story.
by Nikki Lincoln
Here’s another post with my recent wine reviews for your enjoyment! I’ve been trying to get some notes together on a few tasting nights I had recently had but for now, here’s my usual post of the interesting wines I’ve gotten to try recently.
Townley 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, The Shizzle, Napa Valley
I had a lot to celebrate a few weeks ago when I learned that I passed my WSET Level 2 Exam with Merit. The test was harder than expected so I was very happy to hear that I had one of the highest scores and I knew I needed to open something special. Last post, I wrote about the Townley Pinot. Since I loved that one so much, I thought I would open the Townley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon which is appropriately named “The Shizzzle.” The wine is very tannic with deep blackberry flavors. It’s definitely a BIG wine and felt appropriate for a big accomplishment. I paired it with a little bit of a lamb stew and it just felt like an appropriate fall meal. The wine was still very good the next day and maintained much of its big, bold flavor. If you love bold reds, this is a great wine for you.
Red Rock® 2012 Menoza Malbec
One of the routines I’ve been really wanting to set up is a good workout pattern. After a couple of weeks at the new job, I made semi-weekly rock climbing dates with a couple of friends. Now that I’ve gotten my work and commute routine set more and my personal life is steady, I’ve also been adding in extra workout routines and it’s been great. Every Wednesday I go climbing with a friend and as such, I tried to leave work on time so I could meet my friend in time. Somehow I managed to get on the wrong train not once, not twice, but three times. Eventually I made it to the gym to meet my friend for our climb and we stayed after and did a leg workout. Needless to say, when I got home I was ready for a big glass of wine and healthy dinner. I was happy that I had some leftover steak w/mushrooms, kale w/ bacon, and mashed sweet potatoes. I thought a nice, hearty red would go well with my dinner and decided to open a sample wine that I had recieved: the Red Rock 2012 Malbec.
The wine had a bold, tart cherry flavor with some prune as well as earthy notes. I also picked up some boysenberry. It paired beautifully with my food and the berry flavors complemented the red meat wonderfully. I like to consume as many different colors as possible in a meal and the bold red really helped round out my dinner. It was a wonderful way to relax after a long commute and a strenuous workout
Bonny Doon 2012 Vin Gris de Cigare
William introduced me to some Bonny Doon wines as part of my Jedi Wine training and as such, I get really excited when I see them on wine lists or in wine shops. On my last trip to LA, this was no exception. I went out to James Beach in Venice Beach with some coworkers for some famous fish tacos and was happy to learn that a number of the wines were half off for a bottle. This brought them down to their retail level and was a steal. Since my co-workers know about my wine adventures, I was tasked with picking a bottle and once I saw the Bonny Doon 2012 Vin Gris, I knew what I was getting.
The Grenache, Mourvedre, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Cinsault blend had freshfreshing grapefruit, blood orange, strawberry, and cranberry notes. It was a lovely wine for a warm Venice night and the pale salmon color looked great against the beach sunset.
Copolla Sofia Blanc de Blanc Mini
Last Friday was Champagne day and, of course, I didn’t realize it until day of. I sadly didn’t have any champagne at home and there was none at the Halloween party I stopped by at. On any other day, I probably could have justified running to the store for a bottle but I was running a race the next day and I didn’t want to tempt myself with drinking the whole bottle. I’ve messed up many a race by having more than “just one drink” the night before so I decided to open up one of my Sofia mini’s – single servings of the Coppola sparkling wine. Although it wasn’t true champagne, I still had fun drinking my little can of sparkling wine in solidarity and I didn’t drink so much that I had a hard time with my race the next day. I actually really love these little cans of wine. They’re easy to throw into a purse and people always get a kick out of them. As someone who doesn’t really drink beer, they make a nice alternative if you feel that your alcoholic beverage needs to come out of a can.
Price: $5 each or $20 for a box of 4
Campovida 2007 Fairbairn Ranch Syrah
Last Saturday, I participated in the NorCal Warrior Dash. I have a bit of an athletic side that I don’t show here too much. That athletic side, however, does not encompass running. I try to sign up for races sometimes that have other obstacles and things (which as a climber, I really enjoy) to encourage me to run more. So after a long morning of uphill running, obstacles, and wading through mud, I was excited to go to a Halloween party and bring a really nice bottle of wine.
I was lucky enough to be invited to a beautiful wedding at the beautiful Campovida Vineyard a couple of months ago. I had several glasses of the Syrah and was excited to go back the next day and pick up a bottle of that and the rosé that was so popular at the rosé tasting this summer. While browsing through my collection, I really wanted to open a nice bottle of wine and as soon as my eyes landed on the Syrah, I knew what I was grabbing. The wine had a lovely dark berry flavor with hints of oak and smoke. It was the perfect way to celebrate post race and was very popular at the party as well.
Price: Not listed but I believe it was in the $35 range
Las Rocas 2012 Rosé
I knew my Sunday would be spent relaxing my legs after all of that running. I spent most of the day at a bottomless mimosa brunch and in the evening, I decided to continue my relaxation with a bottle of Las Rocas Rosé that I’d had chilling.
The super light cranberry, lemon, and raspberry notes were a great end to my weekend. For an inexpensive Rosé, this wine was dry and had a great, light flavor. It is definitely something I would buy again.
And with that… Happy Halloween everyone! Is there a particularly frightening wine you plan on enjoying tonight?
By Nikki Lincoln
The last few weeks of wine fun have been kind of a blur. With my WSET studies, a lot of my wine tasting was in a more formal set up rather than the one offs that I prefer for this series so I realized that even though I skipped a few weeks, I still had about the same amount to write about. It was an exciting and delicious month of wine drinking though and I’m excited to share some of that with all of you.
Two Sheperds 2011 Pastoral Blanc 375 mL
2009 Viandante del Cielo Pinot Noir Skywalker Ranch
Turkovich Family Wines 2011 Grenache
Alamos 2011 Mendoza Selección Malbec
All in all, the month was filled with some wonderful wines and the reviews practically wrote themselves. I’m also happy that I have other varietals on hand from each of those winemakers (except Skywalker…) and you’ll be seeing more about them in future reviews.
The members of the North Coast Chapter of the Rhone Rangers are riding into Healdsburg Friday Sept 20th in celebration of International #GrenacheDay, as events all over the world are being held to recognize this wonderful grape variety, now becoming very popular in the US.
Join us to taste Rhone wines made from Grenache no prescription online pharmacy Noir, Grenache Blanc, Grenache based blends, and Grenache Rosé from 11 wineries.
The event is from 3-7 p.m. at the Stark Tasting room in downtown Healdsburg, one block off the square.
NOTE! This event will be small, intimate, with limited space. Tickets WILL sell out based on the last two years and tickets at the door will be subject to capacity and not guaranteed.
Purchase tickets here: https://grenacheday2013.eventbrite.com/
This is your chance to taste wines from a wide range of wineries, from veteran icons to new and emerging wineries that make small productions and 100 case lots.
Wineries include: Anaba, Donelan Family Wines, Frick Winery, Mounts Family Winery, Quivira, Stark Wines, Steele Wines, Skylark Wine Company, Two Shepherds, AND special guests from the Sierra Foothills Baiocchi Wines (one of the winners of the 2010 tasting) and SF Chronicle touted Skinner Vineyards.
Taste multiple wines from 11 producers for less than price of one tasting room fee, $15 in advance. ($20 at the door, IF available.)
Have Fun, Compare, & Vote For Your Favorite
Similar to our smash hit Grenache Day, Rosé, and Napa tastings – attendees get a clipboard of information with detailed notes on each wine, and walk around to interact with each winery.
Attendees will have a chance to vote for their favorite wines. Help pick the top wine of the day!
Celebrate Anywhere & Look For These Global Events
Can’t join us in Healdsburg? #GrenacheDay is an International and virtual event. Open your favorite bottle of Grenache and share it virtually on Twitter with hashtag #GrenacheDay. Also, look on the Grenache Symposium website for an event or tasting near you. You can also find daily updates on their Facebook page.
Participating Wineries Include:
- Donelan Family Wines
- Frick Winery
- Mounts Family Winery
- Stark Wines
- Steele Wines
- Skylark Wine Company
- Two Shepherds
- Baiocchi Wines
- Skinner Vineyards.
By Nikki Lincoln
One of the things that William highly encouraged when asking me to join this blog, was for me to work on getting a couple of WSET awards. I had thought about taking Sommelier classes for some time so I decided to look into it. I was happy to learn that the Wine and Spirits Education Trust is more of a scholarly pursuit of wine and is fitting for someone who wants to write about, review, or simple know more about wine. I realized this was the ideal path for me and soon signed up.
The members of the North Coast Chapter of the Rhone Rangers are joining together to offer wine aficionados a chance to taste Rhone wines from 15 wineries.
The event is from 3-7 p.m. at the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville.
Taste Through Rhone wines, Red, White, & Rosé
Wineries include: Anaba, Maclaren, Cornerstone, Two Shepherds, Meyer Family Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, Kale, Kieran Robinson, Wesley Ashely, Carica, Euclid, Truchard Vineyards, Petrichor, Donelan Family Wines and Campovida.
Taste multiple wines from 15 producers for less than the price of most Napa tasting rooms, $20 in advance. ($25 at the door.) Less than the cost of a single tasting in most Napa tasting rooms!
Tickets here: https://napa-rhone.eventbrite.com/
Please note: If you are a qualified member of the Trade (wine buyer for restaurant, retail) or Media (actively publishing writer or blog.) there is a separate tasting available, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy Art, Cheese, Wine & More
Have a Date With The Devil
The tasting will be held in the Museum’s main gallery where visitors will be surrounded by Date with the Devil, a juried exhibition of new work by 19 regional artists based on the legend of Faust, the man who sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for riches, power, youth and wisdom.
Date with the Devil reminds us that who we are is ultimately defined by the choices we make. Also on display are 26 devil-inspired prints by late Calistoga artist Earl Thollander. The History Gallery on the first floor will also be open free of charge. All galleries are free of charge.
Have Fun, Compare, & Vote For Your Favorite
Similar to their smash hit Grenache Day and Rosé tastings – attendees get a clipboard of information with detailed notes on each wine, and walk around to interact with each winery.
Attendees will have a chance to vote for their favorite wines. Help pick the top wine of the day!
Participating Wineries Include:
- Two Shepherds
- Meyer Family Vineyards
- Ridge Vineyards
- Kale Wines
- Kieran Robinson
- Wesley Ashely
- Carica Wines
- Truchard Vineyards
- Donelan Family Wines
By Nikki Lincoln
After a few weeks of traveling and then starting my new job, I feel like I'm finally getting settled into everything and ready to get back to my regularly scheduled blog posts. I'm pulling together several event write ups and things but in the meantime, I'm still working my way through the home collection as well and thought the best way for me to jump back into my regular writing was to resume my “What I Drank Last Week” series.
Last week was the perfect week to get back to a more mellow routine – after a very fun Outside Lands that resulted in me losing my wallet, I was very eager to stay in and open up a few bottles at home.
2011 Beringer White Merlot
One of the major things I wanted to do after my career change was to re-establish a gym schedule. As some of you may know, I've been a member of a climbing gym for over four years now but I fall in and out of actually being a regular attendee. With a lot of friends getting passes to my gym and climbing gear, I knew a good way to get back into my own workout routine would be to plan to climb with a friend once a week. After a great climb, my friend invited me to her place for dinner and told me to pick out a bottle of wine. She was making a turkey meatloaf with sweet potatoes and a side of bacon brussel sprouts so I knew that the meal had a lot of flexibility in terms of pairing. I decided though, with the white meat base of the dish and the fact that we'd just had an amazing work out, a white wine seemed like it would be a refreshing touch to our meal. However, I found out the only thing she had chilled was a White Merlot from Beringer. My ears perked up at this – as a big Rosé fan, I was interested in trying one with a Merlot base.
The wine itself was very fruity on the nose with a raspberry candy element to it and the notes carried through to the palate. The wine was a very fun wine to enjoy and would have worked really well with a spicier dinner. I also thought this wine would be a good one to bring to a party. At a low price point and with a tasty but not overly complicated flavor, the wine would be suitable to a variety of guests and very buy cheap propecia fun to bring to a backyard BBQ.
The next night, I was trying to find something to do, but didn't want to drink a lot or spend any money since I was still pretty upset about losing my wallet. I figured the best remedy for this would be to see what was on the day's schedule of inexpensive events on one of my favorite San Francisco living websites, Funcheap SF. I noticed that there was an event at the SF Design Center which had music, wine, and the opportunity to look at the different contemporary designs. On top of all of that, it was a short walk from my apartment and seemed like a great way for me to spend my evening.
But this is about wine after all so I would be amiss to not mention tasting the Valeria Vino Blanco from Petronius. The wine is an equal blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Chardonnay, Riesling. I found the blend to be extremely balanced with the differences in the four varieties coming together to make an excellent wine where no one wine was overpowering the flavor. I love seeing blends when I'm out tasting because it really is the wine maker's time to shine and it makes me happy when they absolute nail it and produce a great wine, especially at such an affordable price point.
By Saturday, I was finally ready to hit the town (gently) again and was excited when I was invited to head to Smuggler's Cove for some fancy rum drinks. However, after a misunderstanding with the bouncer over the line into the bar, I decided to take my business elsewhere and opted to have a mellow night practicing my tasting notes at Hotel Biron, an excellent wine bar in Hayes Valley that shows a wide variety of interesting wines. Earlier that day, I had attended my first WSET course and after a day of learning about proper tasting notes and descriptors, I thought it would be fun to cozy up with a book, try a few unique wines and brush up on my tasting notes.
With my new found knowledge, I thought it would be interesting to revisit a wine that has continued to pique my interest and see if I could find better terms to describe what I was tasting. This, of course, would be the Forlorn Hope Trousseau Gris. With its cloudy, medium orange color, the wine is sure to catch your eye by its unique appearance alone. The wine had beautiful, dry, acidity and seemed almost savory to me. I love this wine as a stand alone as the flavor is so unique, it's fun to revisit the glass and pick out new notes without any food tainting the palate.
I also decided to get a glass of the Kivel Stadt “Twice Removed” Mouvedre Rosé which was a lovely salmon color with a strawberry nose. The wine had a bright acidity with some citrus notes as well as green apple and strawberry on the palate as well. I love Rosé and I'm always happy to find a good, dry one and the “Twice Removed” really delivered on this front. Looking on their website, it seems as though this winemaker has a lot of interesting Rhone varieties and I am definitely going to try to taste more of their offerings.
Forlorn Hope, King Andrews Vineyard, Suisun Valley, Trousseau Gris $13/glass
Kivel Stadt, “Twice Removed.” Loevitt Vineyard, Mourvedre Rosé $12/glass
I also ordered a couple of cheese plates and while I didn't have the sense to take notes on those, both were delicious. In fact, one was a creamy blue goat cheese that I absolutely adored. Having soft cheeses, blue cheeses, and goat cheeses among the cheese types that I purchase most often, it was really amazing to see all three elements incorporated in one. I will definitely have to keep my eyes peeled to find in it stores because it would make an excellent addition to any cheese plate.
All in all, the decision to cut my losses and take my business to Hotel Biron was a good one. Spending my Saturday night taking it easy and doing the things that I love – reading and enjoying wine while making small talk with the bartender and other patrons – was a great mellow change and something I hope to do much more often.
Sadly, my week ended with my car getting broken into. It seems my luck with my possessions has not been great so I think I'm going to continue slowing down and just enjoying wine at home. The collection at Lincoln manor will give me plenty to write about and I definitely plan on using it to study up for my WSET exam in a few weeks. All of that should give me more than enough fodder to continue bringing you new posts. In short, aside from the universe not wanting me to have nice things, everything is going really well and I'm excited to keep writing!
A Very Special, Personal Weekend
Sonoma Wine Country Weekend (SWCW) is a special event for me, and Simple Hedonisms. Four years ago….hmm I thought it was five, have I REALLY only been here just over four years? People think I have lived here forever. Anyway, I digress.
Moving here on a complete whim in July 2009 in a whirl of tumult, I followed my passion and knowing almost no-one, and having no social media presence, I descended upon Sonoma County. I wasn’t new to the county wine scene however. I have shared regularly, I was in love in the Sonoma, especially Russian River Valley, and visiting so regularly, it just made sense to move, and immediately it ‘fit.’ I immediately planted a tiny vineyard, assisted with harvest, and started Simple Hedonisms.
I am a huge fan and regular attendee of the Wine Road events, but the Saturday Taste of Sonoma was my first walk around tasting where on foot, you could experience dozens and dozens of wineries, sorted by AVA (region) and get a true taste of how diverse the county is. Sprinkle in amazing food, gorgeous scenery, good weather, and Sonoma County hospitality, and if you don’t love it here, you should be in the next Grinch book.
Just prior to the event, I launched the blog after being urged by many for years to do so, and the Taste of Sonoma, was my first event covered. The article probably had 100 readers then if I was lucky, a far cry of the peak of my most active writing of 5,000+ a month. This 2013 event may also prove to be special and unique for me, but alas, that is for a future telling.
How passionate am I about this event? I am in the middle of one of the busiest weeks of my year, and I am taking the time to sit outside with my laptop, overlooking my vineyard project, glass in hand, and trying to ‘write’ as opposed to pasting the press release. We can sleep when we are dead.
Experience The Magic in Sonoma’s Unique Event
Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is an annual event every Labor Day weekend and is Sonoma County’s largest charity event and premier wine and food event, celebrating the region’s incredible bounty of food, wine, and fun while raising much needed funds for Sonoma's local charities.
The event is actually entire weekend full of a la carte options, from Friday night dinners to Sunday BBQ, each detailed below.
1. My Favorite: The Saturday Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch
There are many wonderful tasting events in the county, and Bacchus be willing (and I also win the lottery) I’d attend them all.
However there are very few ‘walk around’ tastings, most involve going to each winery with a bracelet and a glass. These are wonderful because they provide the experience of the winery itself.
There is however a certain ‘efficiency’ (although I hesitate to use that word for such a relaxing, joyful environment.) of being able to walk around dozens of wineries gathered together from regions like Russian River, Dry Creek, Sonoma Valley etc and compare across the region, and then compare regions. There are 200 wineries in total pouring! I suggest you print the list and make a plan.
Come For The Food: If wine isn’t your thing, the event hold’s its own on the food and demonstrations alone. The who’s who of our many talented chefs are present, with over 60 chefs offering their creations.
The event is brilliantly orchestrated and comes off like clockwork. You simply enjoy a decadent day.
Tickets are $115 for Visa Signature holders (odds are you have one, flip your card over) or $165 for general admission. This Saturday event sells out! (All Grand Reserve already are.) You have been advised.
2. Friday Night Sonoma Starlight at Francis Ford Coppola, with Food Icon Sondra Bernstein
Kick off Sonoma Wine Country Weekend poolside at the iconic Francis Ford Coppola Winery for an unforgettable evening of world-class wines, delicious cuisine, live music, and dancing to Bay Area favorites Pride & Joy – all set against a backdrop of shimmering stars in the Alexander Valley.
Guests will enjoy a bountiful array of local, seasonal cuisine poolside created by Sonoma Wine Country Weekend’s 2013 Honorary Culinary Director, Sondra Bernstein and Chef John Toulze, proprietors of the girl & the fig. Over 20 local wineries will be on hand to share their Sonoma County wines, pairing wines with incredible local fare. Info and Tickets here.
3. Friday Winemaker Lunches and Dinners
Prefer something more intimate? Enjoy a special afternoon or evening of wine and food. Many of these are already sold out, as seating is limited to each. Remaining winemaker lunches include wonderful venues like Davis Family Vineyards, Lynmar Estate, Landmark, and others. See the full list, descriptions and tickets here.
Only a handful of the Winemaker dinners remain, in various parts of the county, including a few seats at places like Sonoma Cutrer, Longboard, Muscardini and a few others. I attended one of these last year, and it was buy viagra free shipping a highly personable, memorable experience. See the full list, descriptions and tickets here.
4. Sunday BBQ
Three wineries are offering a Sunday BBQ and wine, a perfect finish to the weekend. Since there are only three, these shouldn’t last long either. See the full list, descriptions, and tickets here.
5. Sunday Harvest Wine Auction
For you high rollers, this is an amazing, first class experience of food, wine, and entertainment, all casual but classy Sonoma style. I was fortunate enough to be invited to one of the limited seats once.
The Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction is Sonoma County’s largest and fun, fundraising event, bringing together the wine community and caring donors to raise essential funds that make our world-class wine region a better place by supporting our kids and our community. Not all lots are expensive, I 'bought' a lot that was simply a donation to a fund that assists our migrant grape pickers.
Immerse yourself in the intrigue of Brazil at the 21st Annual Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction, Sonoma Samba, sponsored by TricorBraun WinePak. The Grand Lawn of Chateau St. Jean will be transformed into a Pan-Latin Celebration. The winery skits, usually in theme, are quite comical. (I will forever carry the memories of the Benziger brothers in bikinis for a beach theme.)
Your ticket not only offers you passage into the Wine Spectator Auction Tent, but it also allows you to mingle with Sonoma's finest winemakers, as each table will be presided over by a local Winemaker or Grower who will share not only their finest wines, but great stories, too! Over 70% of the tables are already sold out.
Follow The Fun On Twitter
This event is attended by people all over the country, all here to experience the magic of Sonoma. You can follow some of the fun on Twitter via hashtag #SWCW as well as their Facebook Page. However, I suggest you come experience it in person. I will be.
by Nikki Lincoln
The sold out Outside Lands is quickly approaching and the Bay Area is buzzing with talk of which bands everyone is excited to see. I, on the other hand, have been talking up all of the great wines that are going to be at Wine Lands, the designated wine area of the festival.
It's always interesting to admit this but I actually have not been to Outside Lands before, despite hearing great things from all of my friends. Knowing my interest in wine, they've always been quick to bring up the amazing wine vendors that the festival provides every year. Since I have the opportunity to attend this year, I decided to finally check out the list and let all of you know which wines I'm looking forward to the most. Hopefully, I can hear the music from the wine tent!
If you can only try a handful of wines next weekend, here are the winemakers (in alphabetical order) that I've had a chance to try and highly recommend:
As you may recall, Broc Cellars was one of my top picks from the Rosé the Rhone Way event back in June. I had really enjoyed their 50% Cinsault / 50% Counoise Rosé blend. I've also had the chance to try some of their more unique varietals – the 2011 Cassia Grenache and 2011 Luna Matta Mourvedre. All three wines were spectacular and will also give Outside Lands attendees a good choice of beverage depending on the weather. I personally love a good red when the weather is chilly (as Outside Lands has been known to be in past years) and Grenache is go-to for me as it's my favorite varietal. However, I love a crisp Rosé when the weather is hot. The day I tasted the Broc Cellars Rosé was particularly sweltering and if (fingers crossed) San Francisco is lucky enough to get some higher temperatures for the festival – I know what wine I'm going to get to cool me down.
Forlorn Hope specializes in wines that are unknown and uncommon. Like many of the other winemakers here, I first tasted Forlorn Hope's wine at the Seven Percent Solution – an event celebrating varietals that make up only 7% of the grapes grown in California. Forlorn Hope quickly caught my attention for having several Portuguese varietals and had even named one blend “Que Saudade” – a Portuguese phrase meaning longing or missing of something you have lost. Saudade has been referred to as one of the most beautiful words in a foreign language. Since Portuguese is my second language, I was impressed to see the word used here and the wine was equally as impressive. I went back several times for additional tastes of Que Saudade. I also have had a couple of opportunities to taste Forlorn Hope's “Trou Grit” Trousseau Gris – a lovely “orange” wine with a very complex and unique flavor. I don't know if winemaker, Matthew Rorick, is bringing these particular wines to Outside Lands but I'm sure whatever he is pouring will be unique and delicious.
Although J. Lohr has been at a few Rhone Rangers events, I couldn't find anything in my tasting notes. I even missed a chance to stop into the winery during my recent weeks of travel (also the reason there haven't been many posts from me lately) so I'd been aching to try some of their wines. Luckily for me, I was out at a bar that was pouring the J. Lohr Sauvignon Blanc. I was happy to see a name that I recognized and even happier to finally get to try some of their wines. The Sauvignon Blanc did not disappoint and left me really excited to try more of the portfolio. I'm happy to know that it won't be too much longer until I get that chance.
The Scholium Project was another winery at Seven Percent Solution and per the alphabetical arrangement of the event, was stationed next to William and I while we were pouring for Two Shepherds. Ironically, I didn't get to take notes on their wines as I was always working when I had their wine in my glass but I remember enjoying the wine extensively. My friend was particularly fond of the 2011 Cinsault. The Scholium Project also brought temporary tattoos to the event and I volunteered my forearm to represent their cause. I'm hoping they have tattoos again next weekend as I'm a big fan of them – on that note, I've been trying to uk propecia get William to make some tattoos for Two Shepherds as well.
Wind Gap, like many of the other producers I've listed, was another Seven Percent Winery. My favorite Wind Gap wine from the event was, unsurprisingly, one of my favorite varietals – Mourvedre. With cranberry undertones and a beautiful, ruby color, the wine was quite delectable. The Trousseau Gris was another great, unique wine with a crisp and aromatic flavor that will be refreshing if Outside Lands happens to be a warm day. The style of Wind Gap's wines is much lighter and more delicate and reminded me a bit more of William's wine making style, specifically with his Grenache, which was nice to see in another wine maker.
Wines of Portugal holds a special place in my heart. Their Portuguese wine tasting was actually the first event I went to as a representative of Simple Hedonisms. I was so nervous to be wine tasting in a more official capacity but I quickly fell into step and felt so comfortable asking questions about the wines I was trying. As a Portuguese speaker, I also relished the opportunity to practice speaking although I stumbled a bit trying to describe certain flavors in my limited Portuguese vocabulary.
Since the event, I've continued to see Portuguese wines all over the place and they are quickly taking up space in my wine collection. If you're a white drinker, be sure to try an Alvarinho or Loureiro. For reds, I would recommend a Touriga Nacional. Portuguese varietals aren't always easy to find so I recommend trying a few while you have the chance!
These winemakers (or distributors in the case of Wines of Portugal) are only a small selection of who will be at Wine Lands this year. The full list of wineries can be found on the Outside Lands website in addition to band schedules and other food vendors. All of these winemakers also represent something I often seek out at different wine tastings – unique varietals and flavors that aren't commonly found. After writing this article, I am even more excited that these producers will be at such a mainstream event and I know I will be dragging my friends to Wine Lands so they can try all of the amazing, unique wines I've written about here. I'm also looking forward to trying the offerings from the wine makers I'm less familiar with – does anyone have any recommendations for me?