Archive for the ‘Wine Reviews’ Category

Tasting Notes: Ancient Peaks Winery Renegade – Margarita Vineyard, Paso Robles

Sometimes I am order generic viagra not sure what to expect when I see an unusual blend, like this one of Syrah (46%), Malbec (31%), and Petit Verdot (23%.)

On paper it could work: a Northern Rhone varietal blended with two Bordeaux. Or would it….

I am happy to

say they do – wonderfully.

Wine Review: Ancient Peaks Winery Renegade – Margarita Vineyard, Paso Robles

To The Eye: Dark purple.

On The Nose: Dark

red fruit and berry

In the Mouth: Soft, dark black fruit, cocoa, dried red fruit. soft tannins. A nice winter red, comfort wine. Save for the fire, a stew, lamb shanks or short ribs. Pairs nicely with food thanks to good acidity.

Recommendation: Buy and enjoy. If you can, I can’t find it online, it may be sold out. Nice bottle for $21. 89 points. Media Sample

Wine Geek Info:

Varietal Composition

  • Syrah (46%)
  • Malbec (31%)
  • Petit Verdot (23%)

Harvest Date

  • October 3 (Syrah)
  • October 7 (Malbec)
  • October 28 (Petit Verdot)

Aging Regimen

  • 18 months in French and American oak barrels

Final Analysis

  • Alcohol: 14.5%
  • TA: .69
  • pH: 3.70

Cases Produced – 1,014

Simple Hedonisms Sparkling Wine Highlights – Part 1: Imports

Welcome to the 1st (Hopefully annual) Sparkling line up. It has been a fun, busy lineup to work through. Because of the many bottles received (and not all reviewed) & purchased I decided to divide the summary into two parts, US and Imports.

Noticeably missing from this line up is ‘champagne’ that is to say sparkling wine that orginates from the Champagne region in France. Even the French are not allowed to call it Champagne if its not buy cheap generic viagra from Champagne, instead its call Cremant.

The Champagne Bureau in France declined to send or arrange any samples, but did ask that I make it clear to readers:

“Whatever you recommend, please make sure to note that Champagne only comes from Champagne, France.”

Done. Now onto some (not so) serious business. I love bubbles, but am hardly a snob when it comes to this category. It should be fun and enjoyable.

I tried to focus on bubbles that were affordable and widely available. Its not really much fun for you the reader to hear about something that isn’t available unless you are wealthy or write for wine publication.

Spain & Cava

Spanish Cava represents a huge value in sparkling wines, and the quality and value will surprise you. This summer I toured through out Spain on a media Tour, visiting a number of Cava producers, including Cava kingpin Freixenet. I was blown away by the care and quality of this producer. Hundreds of tons of cava grapes, all hand picked, each year.


N.V. Segura Viudas Cava Brut Rosado – *Top Pick*

A crowd pleaser Cava Brut Rose’, great QPR. Tiny bubbles, excellent mousse. Essence of strawberry, raspberry. Very pleasant in mouth.Grab a bottle, you will

be glad. This is a sleeper brand. ~$10


N.V. Paul Cheneau Cava Lady of Spain

Decent bubbles for price; crisp, nice acidity, green apple $10


N.V. Freixenet Cava Cordon Negro (Brut)

After 150 years, there is a reason why the ‘Black Bottle’ remains the king of Spanish Cava. Despite the large production all grapes are hand harvested, not machine. Clear pale yellow, tiny mousse (bubbles). Nose has lemon, apple, pear. Crisp dry finish with some minerality. If you have shunned the black bottle because its what your parents drank, try it again. And do take the tour if ever nearby, its impressive. $10 (or less)


N.V. Segura Viudas Cava Brut Reserva Heredad

If the sexy bottle doesn’t get you, the bubbles should. Vibrant pale color, tight tiny bubbles, nose that is yeasty,pear. Bright citrus, green apple. A step or two up in price from traditional Cava, but unique and complex enough to merit it, and a good bridge flavor profile wise. $20


Italy – Prosecco

Prosecco has become a hot sector in the last few years, and duly earned, the quality of Prosecco coming into the US has jumped up. People avoid Prosecco because it is fermented via the charmat method – meaning it achieves its bubbles in a stainless tank, not in the bottle via méthode champenoise. My experience with domestic sparkling produced this way is mostly poor, but I have learned from experience not to shun Prosecco because of this, and you should too.


N.V. Valdo (Italy) – *Top Pick*

New to the US. Nose of pear, green melon, bread yeast. Tiny bubbles. Mostly dry, creamy mouthfeel. Nice finish. An excellent value for $10. Recommended buy. Nice apertif wine easily quaffed.


N.V. LaMarca Prosecco di Treviso Prosecco (Italy, Veneto, Prosecco di Treviso)

Pale yellow, tiny bubbles. Green apple & spice on nose. Mostly dry, Nice citrus, touch of asian pear, green apple. pleasant in mouth, fair QPR. Consumer friendly bubbles, available at Wholefoods, Safeway. Worth putting in the cart and taking home.



N.V. Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé *Top Pick*

Wonderful! Pink with a slight orange hue; excellent tiny bubbles. gorgeous nose of strawberry & yeast. Strawberries & Cream, hint of raspberry. Fermented in bottle; 80% Pinot Auxerrois, 10% Pinot Blanc and 10% Chardonnay. ~$18


2007 Domaine Rolet Crémant du Jura Crémant Brut (France, Jura, Crémant du Jura)

A nice bottle of bubbles for $17 from K&L. tiny bubbles, nice citrus, tart green bubbles, nice clean, lingering.


Look for Part II – Domestic later tonight. (Tomorrow we head to France to tour Burgundy & the Rhone). Cheers!

Tasting Notes: N.V. (non vintage) Valdo Prosecco Brut

Prosecco has been making a comeback in the US, particularly in the East Coast. The sweet, poorly made stuff you would scoff now more commonly is an excellent value sparkling. I still find generally Cava, from Spain, to lead slightly, but have been en

joying many Prosecco’s these days, and some decent quality ones are widely available, and fun to grab as an aperitif.

Review: Non Vintage Valdo Prosecco – Brut (2011 review)

Made from 100% Glera (formerly known as Prosecco), bottle aged buy viagra canada for 6 months. Imported in the US by Pasternak Imports.

This Prosecco now seems to have good distribution, and is worth looking for.

To The Eye: Pale yellow, excellent tiny bubbles

On The Nose: Pear, green melon, bread yeast.

In the Mouth: Mostly

dry, creamy mouthfeel. Green apple and a hint of spice Nice finish.

Recommendation: Buy, Consume. A good apertif wine easily quaffed. 89 points.



Look later this week for the full Sparkling holiday guide, cheers!

Tasting Notes – Bonny Doon Vineyards 2010 Albariño

This Albariño from Bonny Doon is not too be confused with their 2009 Ca’ del Solo Albariño, which was one of my favorite Albariño’s at the TAPAS event in San Francisco earlier this year.

This price viagra wine derives from two vineyards in the Central Coast:  Ca’ del Solo in Soledad, and Jesperson Ranch in San Luis Obispo.

Wine Review – Bonny Doon Vineyards 2010 Albariño

To The Eye: Bright Clear Yellow Straw

On The Nose: Green Apple, Asian Pear, Lemon Peel

In The Mouth: IMPORTANT – do not drink overchilled. This wine’s nuances are completely lost if overchilled (which I did by accident.) It has a rich texture, mouthfeel and slight oiliness one wouldn’t expect when combined with this acidity and lower (12.5%) alcohol. Must bug Randall or his other winemaker for vinification techniques.

It dances in the mouth with green apple and  citrus and makes you smile, and reach for more. The finish is lingering, and compelling.  This wine drinks wonderfully by itself, and the bottle is emptying fast as I consume it. (Instead of spitting.)

Food Pairing: Bonny Doon recommends pair it with “…pairs beautifully with briny foods like oysters, shellfish, seafood salad, fish crudo (or ceviche), or shrimp scampi with garlic and lemon. It’s a natural with fresh goat cheese, green olives, tomato salads (especially dressed with a drizzle of lemon-infused oil), tempura, and other Asian fare.”  Randall and his team are foodies, so I never doubt them, however tonight’s fare when I am done reviewing is home made turkey soup.

Recommendation: 90 Points. Buy and Enjoy. At $18 this Albariño is an excellent buy, that will both drink wonderfully solo or with food, and can age easily for a few years.  Available online for $18, $15 for club, and right now club members get free shipping on orders $99 or higher.


Tasting Notes – 2008 Inman Family Pinot Noir Thorn Ridge Ranch

This Rhonehound is on a online cheap viagra Pinot kick, and pleased to share amazing Pinot Noir from Kathleen Inman of Inman Family Wines, one of my favorite Russian River Valley winemakers.

Kathleen is a ten year veteran Pinot maker, and truly one of  Russian River Valley  finest

vintners of elegant Pinot Noir.

(Jon Bonne’ – you really need to put Inman on your radar – this is your kind of winemaker.)

Review: 2008 Inman Family Pinot Noir Thorn Ridge Ranch

To The Eye: Ruby red, clear

On The Nose: Black cherry and spice

In The Mouth: Blackberry, cherry with a velvety mouth feel that makes you go ‘ahhhh’ and reach for more. The Pinot delivers great red and black fruit, without sacrificing acidity, achieving what so many California pinot producers seem unable to in balance. Soft, long, elegant finish.

Recommendation:  93 points. Buy. If you don’t like this Pinot….you have no idea what Pinot Noir is supposed to be. Take the oak chip out of your mouth, tear up your Robert Parker

photo, and start to train your palate. It’s not inexpensive at $56, but this isn’t Velveeta, its Cowgirl Creamery (or better.) Small lot, high quality Pinot Noir simply costs more.


Wine Review – Von Holt 2009 Pinot Noir – Russian River Valley (and a special reader gift)

It’s always a pleasure to discover hidden small gems of producers in the wine industry, and even more so to share them with readers. Thanks to the advent of custom crush, virtual and urban wineries, there are many, small passionate artisans springing up. Sonoma County has become a buy female viagra online without prescription wealth of these, but you must keep your ear and eye to the ground.

Thanks to networking and social media, I was to meet Peter Alig, who works now with Von Holt.  When he asked if I’d like sample to review, I agreed, always eager to try a new, small producer.

About Von Holt Wines

This is a micro-winery:  a 600-case producer of single-vineyard Pinot Noir and Syrah from the Sonoma Coast and Russian River. Founder, San Francisco native Chris Von Holt, is a retired U.S. Secret Service agent. After traveling the world on the protective detail of the Vice President, and sampling local food and wine along the way, he decided to found his own wine brand upon his retirement. His story is quite fascinating, read more here.

You can watch a short video of Chris’ below. He had me at ‘low alcohol, good minerality & acidity.’

The stories of partner/wife Pamela Miller, the administrative master of Von Holt Wines, and John Fones, Winemaker, are also interesting, classic Sonoma wine siren stories, and ones I can relate to all too well.

A Focus on Cool Climate

They had me at the get go with their focus cool climate Pinot Noir and Syrah. Pinot Noir of course naturally prefers cooler climate, and I am most fond of wines from cooler vineyards in Sonoma Coast, Anderson Valley, Willamette Valley.  Russian River can fit this profile as well, depending on the microclimate and the wine grower.

The 2010 and 2011 vintages have certainly helped this aspect.  Working with vineyards in cooler climates takes some guts, patience, and stamina, I have deep respect for those growers and vintners that focus here.

Syrah does well in both cool and warm climates, and produces great wines in both, but very distinctive. My personal preference, especially for Syrah unblended with other Rhone varietals, is for the higher acidity, leaner wines that cool climates produce.

This review will be focus the Pinot Noir, look for Syrah in a Tasting Note also this week. Sneak Preview: The 2008 Hoppe-Kelley Syrah from RRV is amazing, and a steal at $20. I have tasted both Syrah’s and Pinots and am very impressed, and plan to put some in my cellar.

Special Reader Incentive – Free Shipping, One Week Only

Von Holt has been nice enough, no strings attached, or kickbacks extended, to offer readers to have shipping included with their order of any of their 4 wines. Use code


at checkout. Expires one week from today, December 5th.

Wine Review – Von Holt 2009 Pinot Noir – Russian River Valley

A blend of Pinot Noir from two vineyards, Suacci and Ketcham.

 To The Eye: Ruby, brick red

color. Translucent.

On The Nose: Red fruit leaps out of the glass. Cranberry, cherry, and a hint of earth, and green, like tomato vine.

In The Mouth: Bright and lively. The cranberry carries over, and is joined by pomegranate. Excellent acidity that begs for some food,  combined with pleasant mouth feel mid palate, and a lingering  mouth watering finish. A wonderful Pinot Noir, and proof the Russian River Valley can produce elegant  Pinot Noir that isn’t an over ripe fruit bomb, and compete with the likes of Anderson Valley, Willamette, and Sonoma Coast.

Recommendation:  92 points. Highly Recommend. Buy. If you can, purchase one to enjoy now, and 1-2 more to give an extra year to see how it develops in the bottle. With the acidity this wine should age nicely. $32 online.  Media Sample (although I intend to re-order.)

Wine Geek Info:

  • Harvest DateSeptember 9, 2009; Bottling Date: August 24, 2010
  • TA 6.3
  • PH 3.6
  • Clones are Pommard, 828, 115 and 777
  • 11 months in French Oak Barrels (25% new)
  • Fermentation: Native primary and maloactic fermentation
  • Alcohol %13.7
  • 225 cases made

Tasting Notes – Gilbert Cellars 2007 Allobroges Red Rhone blend

How I buy cheap viagra online came upon this wine is a mystery, I have no idea how it ended up in my cellar,. (Now over 1200 bottles, heavy on Rhones of course.)

I don’t recall ever receiving it as a media sample, as I keep that pile seperate and marked, and I don’t ever recall buying it. It may have been a gift in the blur of the Grenache Day tasting and BBash after.

Its possible I also had aquired the year I lived & worked part time in the NorthWest and just forgot to put it in Cellartracker. Whatever it’s origins, I was glad I found it.

Note that 2008 appears to be the  current vintage. I generally don’t review wines no longer for sale, but wanted to share this Rhone find from WA.

An interesting tidbit from the Gilbert Cellars website:

The blend “Allobroges” was named after a Celtic tribe that made its home in the Rhone River Valley in the days of the Roman Empire.  Their capital of Vienne is across the river from present-day wine region Cote Rotie.  The Romans named their wine from the Rhone Valley “Allobrogica” and

they were known for being dark, rich, red wines.  Pliny first referenced Allobrogica in his book Naturalis Historia. It had been rumored that “Allobrogica” was an ancestor of modern Syrah, but that has not been proven. 

Review: Gilbert Cellars 2007 Allobroges Red Rhone blend

This wine is 55% Syrah, 31% Mourvedre, 14% Grenache, each from a different vineyard.

To The Eye: Deep purple, Syrah clearly dominating

On The Nose: Meaty, bacon fat, elements of the Mourvedre possibly. Black fruits.

In The Mouth:  A ‘comfort’ wine. It’s not overly complex, and that’s part of its charm. Sometimes you want a wine you can dissect with many layers, some times its fun to just enjoy a glass of something that tastes good, by the fire or ever a simple meal. Its lush in the mouth with out being over ripe or juicy. Nice texture. The wine is well balanced with nice integration of the Syrah and Mourvedre components. The Grenache adds a touch of spice, but is mostly dominated by its bigger brothers.  The finish is long and pleasant. 14.9% alc.

Recommendation. An easy drinking, fun crowd pleaser. Pair with any meat, most grilled fare, or your favorite chair and warm fire. . For ~$20 you can’t go wrong. 88 points

A Call for Submissions: Sparkling Wine for Simple Hedonisms Holiday Issue

Simple Hedonisms will be doing a special issue on Holiday sparklers, both domestic and imported.

If you’d like your sparkling

wine featured, please submit a sample, no later than Dec 5th.

Our readership is pharmacy viagra over 8, 0000 people a month, and material is also posted on other wine sites.

Data sheets and purchase information appreciated.

Happy Holidays and cheers!

Wine Review – A Wonderful Find from Italy: Grecante Grechetto dei Colli Martani DOC (Or simply put an amazing white.)

If I had a few lifetimes, I am not sure it would be enough to learn enough about wine, especially the many unique wine varietals out there. Italy represents a lifetime of study itself. Italy’s Ministry of buy viagra now online Agriculture and Forestry  has documented over 350 grapes and granted them “authorized” status. (With many more in circulation.) Sadly most US wine consumers are only familiar a handful, and mostly red. I have to confess, the landscape of Italian wines is one I have really tackled yet. This Grecant is a wine that makes me realize I need to get started.

My interest was immediately piqued when I was contacted if I want a sample. I don’t get as many imported wine samples as I’d like, and when I do they are often mass made budget wines of lower quality or over planted varietals planted in countries where they didn’t exist, perhaps at the expense of native varietals.

About Grechetto

Grechetto (or Grechetto Bianco) is an Italian wine grape of Greek origins. The grape is is found most commonly in the Umbria region where it is used in the Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) wine Orvieto. It is primarily a blending grape, though some varietal wine is also produced, such as this one. Grechetto is commonly blended with Chardonnay, Malvasia, Trebbiano and Verdello. The grape’s thick skin provides good resistance to downy mildew which can attack the grape late in the harvest season.

During the Renaissance many wines were known as “Greco, Grecante, Grechetto”. Montefalco’s Grecante was one of the most appreciated, indeed the head of the Municipality of Montefalco used to sent it as a precious gift to princes and important clergymen. Arnaldo Caprai’s Grecante keeps this long tradition alive.

About Arnaldo Caprai Winery

The Arnaldo Caprai winery extends for about 370 acres, 136 of which are planted. The vineyards are located in the area of Montefalco, rich in history and winemaking tradition. The main white grapes grown in the region include Grechetto, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon, while Sagrantinois the leading red variety together with Sangiovese, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wine Review – Grecante Grechetto dei Colli Martani DOC

To The Eye: Clear, bright yellow straw

On The Nose: Notes of honeysuckle, white peach

In The Mouth: Layers of melon, peach, citrus. The

wine has an excellent balance of mouth feel and weight that isn’t cloying, combined with great acidity. It delivers front, mid palate, and a great lingering finish. More complex than an unoaked chardonnay, or a sauvignon blanc, but still easy to drink and fun. A pleasure to drink solo, and would pair well with a wide variety of foods, especially seafood or chicken.

Recommendation: Buy, drink, have fun. This wine is versatile both with food pairings, and seasons. An excellent value with a price of $15-$20. Distributed throughout the US by Folio Wine. Media Sample (I’d gladly buy more of.)

91 Points

Vinification & Geek Info: 

  • Aged 3 months in Stainless, 3 months in Bottle
  • 13% alcohol
  • TA 5.48 g/l
  • pH (at bottling) 3.07
  • Production ~3000 cases

Wine of the Week – Bonny Doon Vineyard 2010 Clos de Gilroy – Central Coast Grenache

I am pleased to be one of the first to review the new Bonny Doon Vineyards 2010 Clos de Gilroy Grenache. The 2009 was one of my first “Wine of the Week’ in 2010 and it is again now. Regular readers know I am a huge fan of both Bonny Doon and Grenache – but that doesn’t make it a shoe in. If anything, since Grenache is one of my top varietals, I am quite hard when judging it. It’s a beautiful variety that often gets mistreated. (It’s not Cabernet, don’t make it like it is.)

About 2010 Clos de Gilroy

Per the iconic Randall Grahm:

‘The Wine Formerly Known as Clos de Gilroy ‘ or (TWFKaCdG) pays homage to the quaint, rustic town of Gilroy, the spiritual locus of all matters alliaceous. The fruit for our Grenache does not, despite its name, derive from Gilroy (clos,but no Cigare), but instead primarily from our former estate vineyard in Soledad and the Alta Loma vineyard in Greenfield, along with a sprinkling of other vineyards along the Central Coast. The wine exhibits all the

hallmarks of exceptional cool climate Grenache.

Photo courtesy of Bonny Doon Vineyard

This is encouraging to someone in the middle of planting the first 500 of 1200 grenache vines in Russian River Valley, also a cooler climate.

At one point, wine maven and head of Direct to Consumer Sales, Meg Houston Maker, had scared me that there might not be a 2010, as Randall is uncompromising in what he puts his name, on. I was ecstatic to learn they did (only 2400 cases) and as I taste it side by side with a 2009 from my cellar, I am happy to report its wonderful.


Coming Up Soon – Day of the Doon IX, Sunday Sept 18th

Quick tangent – I am delighted to attend my first Day of the Doon, their annual wine club celebration will take place hosted at the new estate vineyard in San Juan Bautista. Randall Grahm will host a brief tour of their new plantings followed by a farm-to-table wine dinner celebrating the abundance of harvest. This event always sells out. Hope to meet some of you other Dewnstahs there!


Wine Review: 2010 Clos de Gilroy

To the Eye: Lively medium purple (a darker color than I might expect.)

One the Nose: Intense aromatics. Dark red fruits –   lots of raspberry, and some cherry. Spice.

In The Mouth: Light bodied, supple, balanced. Raspberry, cherry, touch of cranberry.  Presence of soft tannin on finish will allow this wine to pair with a wider variety of foods, as well as I suspect, bottle age nicely.

Recommendation: For $16-18 this wine is a must buy. 90 points. Great QPR (Quality Price Ratio.) Media Sample (although I will be buying more at Wine Club discount, I bought several cases of the 2009.)

This is my go to wine for ‘comfort wine’, crowd pleasers, and a wide food pairing range.  Randall recommends it with grilled meat or veggies, roasted poultry, or anything al fresco with olive oil.

Where to Buy:  Online at Bonny Doon, $18. At a few retail locations. K&L San Francisco currently has ~20 in stock

Wine Geek Info:

  • Varietal Blend: 75% grenache, 13% cinsault, 12% syrah
  • Appellation: Monterey County Alcohol by Volume: 13.1%
  • TA: 4.8 g/L
  • pH: 3.69
  • Production: 2,384 cases

Related Articles:

‘Shipping Included’ – the Future of Direct to Consumer? An interview with Bonny Doon Vineyard

Wine of the Week – Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris De Cigare, Rosé

Wine of the Week – Bonny Doon Vineyard 2009 “Clos de Gilroy” Grenache

Jon Bonné As Syrah falters, make way for Grenache

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