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2 Great Cabernets from B.R. Cohn

BR-Cohn-Wine

I had a chance to meet Dan Cohn for dinner earlier this fall.  We met for an old school steak dinner at the famous Durant’s steakhouse in Phoenix Arizona and of course to taste some wines.

Dan, is the son of Bruce Cohn, founder of the winery.  Bruce is also the manager of a band called The Doobie Brothers, and has been since 1970.  Bruce founded the B.R. Cohn winery in 1984, but he had already been running a vineyard and selling grapes for 10 years by that time.

I sat down in one of the booths at Durant’s and waited for Dan.  He arrived a few minutes after me and greeted me warmly.  The first thing I noticed about Dan is that he is a straight forward completely un-shy (if that’s even a word) kind of guy. Or at least that is how he comes across.  He gets straight to the point, he’s confident but has a sort of boyish sense of humor.  In talking about how he currently runs the whole show for B.R. Cohn, he almost laughed:

“My office is the bedroom I grew up in, like literally the tasting room and offices is the house I grew up in.”   Suddenly he stood up and walked over to another table and greeted the guests.  They had just ordered a bottle of B.R. Cohen with their dinner and he quickly went over and thanked them personally.  The guests were quite old and I could tell they didn’t quite know what to make of this guy.  He was wearing a purple corduroy type blazer and had a paisley shirt and a fat tie on.  He looked like a rock star.  A little later on at another table a young couple also ordered some of his wine and he raised a glass to them, their waiter let them know who he was and they were definitely interested.

Dan talked a little bit about winery life, but for the most part he was persistent in asking me questions.  While not the greatest for pulling information, I did find it flattering and interesting.  Not a lot of wine makers and people in the business want to know about the details of wine blogging.  His interest was genuine and I appreciated that.

When it came time to order, of course we had steak, and paired it with B.R. Cohn’s Olive Hill Estate Cabernet.

B.R. CohnBR-Cohn-olive-hill-bottle 2010 Olive Hill Estate Cabernet, Sonoma

This wine is 100% Cabernet, aged 24 months in French Oak.  The flavors of anise and mint dominate the palate.  This wine would pair very well with Lamb, although it did go quite nicely with the steak as well.  3,000 cases were produced and the suggested retail is $55.

B.R. Cohn 2012 Gold Label, Cabernet SauvignonBR-Cohn-Gold-Label-Bottle

I was surprised by how different the Gold Label is to the Olive Hill.  This wine is solid, still young and will benefit from several hours of decanting in the near future.  The blend is 67% Napa County and 33% Sonoma County, all Cabernet.  Each lot is aged separately in French Oak.  4,800 cases were produced and the suggested retail is $40.  I was surprised to see the price at only $40. This a really good deal for that price.  The wine is ideally suited to prime cuts of beef grilled over an open flame.

B.R. Cohn Website

Durant’s Steakhouse Website

*These wines were provided as review samples

Arizona Wine Grower’s Association Recognizes Excellence

arizona-wine-2014-14You’ve heard of pairing wine with dessert, but have you heard of wine from the desert?

Over the last 5 years areas other than California have stepped into the national spotlight as wine producing regions.  Washington State, Oregon and the Finger Lakes region of New York State have earned solid reputations for high quality fruit and wine making.

Arizona’s entrance into the wine world started a little more recently.  Pioneers like Al Buhl and R.W. Webb began developing vineyards and producing wine 25-35 years ago in South Eastern Arizona.  In the last 5-6 years the Arizona Wine industry has seen explosive growth, almost doubling in size.  This is due in large part to the increased notoriety brought to the region by rock stars like Maynard James Keenan ( Tool, A Perfect Circle,Puscifer) as well as rock star wine makers like EricGlomski.

Arizona Judgment 2010 Judges

Arizona Judgment 2010 Judges

Let’s not forget the contribution made by rock star restauranteurs Pavle Milic and Charlene Badman, owners of Scottsdale’s restaurant FnB.  These two pioneered Arizona wine in a big way back in 2010 when their restaurant featured an all Arizona wine list.  In the summer of 2010 they organized “The Judgment of Arizona”.  They brought in major wine personalities from all over the United States and had them blind taste Arizona wines and major wines from around the world, reminiscent of 1976’s Judgment of Paris.  The consensus at the time was that there were some world class wines being produced in Arizona.  Unfortunately, there were also some wines that were not world-class.  Gary Vaynerchuk noted that (I’m summarizing) that in order for the region to be taken more seriously, the consistency of  quality in the region would have to improve.  That was over 4 years ago, and in that time huge strides have been made.  Arizona is now recognized as a region capable of producing world-class wines, it’s not just a novelty “wine from the desert”.

But the growth can’t all be credited to just two wine makers, a chef and a handsome Colombian from Brooklyn. The industry as a whole, and all the wine makers have really worked hard to increase the reputation of the region.  They’ve done this by focusing on quality not quantity.   Although the quantity has definitely increased, this is a by product of producing superior wine.

Each November since 2009 the Arizona Wine Grower’s Association (AWGA) and the Arizona Republic have teamed up to recognize excellence in Arizona wine making.  Every November, for the past 6 years “The festival on the farm at South Mountain” has allowed the public to taste 30-40+ Arizona wineries all in the same place.  The night before the festival there is an exclusive awards banquet held at Quiessence restaurant (on the farm as well).   The Arizona Republic Wine competition is held in private in October, with the results released to the public on the night of the Awards banquet.  This year is different, however as the award winners have been announced over the last several weeks.

arizona-wine-2014-25

Stone Grove

This year’s Awards Banquet featured a little change in venue as well.  The banquet was moved to “Stone Grove” instead of Quiessence.  Stone Grove is located right next to Quiessence, so it’s really the same place, just a bigger more open setting.  With all the interest in Arizona Wine these days, the logistics of hosting this event in the little farm house that is Quiessence were becoming difficult.

I talked with some of the wine makers including Kent Callaghan, winner of this year’s “Best in Show” and first place “Grower’s Cup, Red” for his 2012Tannat.  I asked Kent about his Tannat and Tannat in general.  He said it’s a pretty interesting grape.  Good yield, but a little difficult to work with.  He’s tried blending it with other grapes but the result was a “dumb wine” as he put it.

Kent Callaghan

Kent Callaghan

He said it would be interesting to see how it turns out in a few years, but his immediate impression was that it wasn’t working.  Callaghan Vineyards only has a half acre of Tannat planted and only 60 cases of wine were made.  The wine is sold out, mostly to Callaghan’s wine club members.  Luckily for wine lovers Callaghan’s “Padre” which tied with Dos Cabezas Wineworks for 2nd place in the Grower’s Cup Red is still available.  See the link at the bottom of the article for Callaghan’s website.

 

I also had a chance to follow Todd and KellyBostock from DosCabezas Wineworks around.  Todd and Kelly were featured in an independent film about wine titled “American Wine Story”.  Todd has recently discovered the concrete slabs around the winery make an awesome street hockey surface and has developed what he believes to be the best family hockey team in Sonoita.  Dos Cabezas Wineworks did exceptionally well this year, winning 3 first place awards for their Rose, Syrah and Rhone Style blends.

Todd and Kelly Bostock

Todd and Kelly Bostock

Finally I chatted briefly with Patti King, executive director of the Arizona Wine Grower’s Association.  She was very pleased with the turn out and said that the Festival on the Farm (nov 15th) sold 300-400 more tickets this year than last year.  This represents about a 30% increase!

In recognizing excellence, the AWGA and the Arizona Republic have really helped to create a sense of community and raised the local profile of Arizona Wine.  Just a few years ago, even Arizonans were skeptical of Arizona Wine.  Today the industry has a solid reputation for producing world class wines.  The consistency that Gary Vaynerchuk talked about 4 years ago has really come a long way.  It would be interesting to gather together the judges from Judgment of Arizona and try again.

PHOTO GALLERY OF THE AWARDS BANQUET

LINKS

2014 Arizona Republic Winners List

AWGA website

Stone Grove/Quiessence

The Farm at South Mountain

Callaghan Vineyards

Dos Cabezas Wineworks

For the First Time Ever…Thanksgiving at Eddie V’s!

Last week I dined at Eddie V’s Prime Seafood restaurant’s Scottsdale Arizona location.  Although Eddie V’s is very well known for their prime seafood, I decided to try out the steak.  But not before trying the crab cakes.

Looking towards the bar and live music

Looking towards the bar and live music

First, I was pleasantly surprised by the setting.  From the outside it’s easy to miss Eddie V’s, even if you’re looking for it.  It is located on the very north east corner of Scottsdale Quarter, kind of in the back.  From the outside it just looks like a concrete building with nice doors.  But as soon as you walk in, a total transformation occurs.  The atmosphere is definitely that of a restaurant that serves prime seafood and steak.  The lighting is toned down, even a little dark but your eyes will soon adjust to it.

The glass walk thru wine cellar

The glass walk thru wine cellar

There is a glass wine cellar that you walk through to get to one half of the restaurant.  The other half of the restaurant is set up more like a wine bar, with live music at night.

The reason I was at Eddie V’s was to experience the dining firsthand so that I could tell you about something big that Eddie V’s is doing.  For the first time ever, they will be open on Thanksgiving day, serving traditional Thanksgiving food!

This is what they’ll be serving:

Eddie V's ThanksgivingSliced Turkey

Homestyle Green Beans with Bacon

Brioche Stuffing

Glazed Acorn Squash

Pan Gravy with Mirepoix Brunoise

Cranberry Sauce

Mashed Potatoes

Turkey Gravy on the side

AND Thanksgiving Dessert!   Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream and praline sauce

Call them right now to reserve your table as this will definitely sell out 480 730 4800

Back to my dining experience…  I have to say, that without a doubt the giant crab cake I had was the best I have ever had.  I consisted of ONLY crab meat and some seasoning.  Just deliciously juicy crab meat, with a dipping sauce on the side.  I was trying to save room for the steak, but I ended up eating the whole thing, and it’s not a small crab cake either.

I paired the crab cake with a glass of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay on the suggestion from managing partner, Richard Schumacher.  Although I am quite capable of choosing my own wine, these days I’ve actually started making a habit of going on the recommendations of the people running the establishments I visit.   Richard and I talked for a little while about the whole new idea of being open on Thanksgiving.  Luckily for Eddie V’s their sister restaurant, Capital Grille has already done this once before and Richard was able to quiz them on what they learned.  Turkey is not steak, you can’t just grille up more turkey, you have to plan half a day or more in advance to have enough food ready for all your guests.  Richard is a friendly fellow and a true restaurant professional.

For steak I tried out both the 22 ounce bone in Rib eye and the New York Strip, both prime.  Again on Richard’s recommendation I had a glass of Sequoia Grove 2010 Cabernet.  The steak was awesome.  I mean really awesome.   The steak was sizzling hot and cooked perfectly medium rare just like I asked.  The New York Strip was actually the best NY Strip I’ve ever had.  Absolutely perfect, tender, juicy with a full robust flavor.  I’m a steak connoisseur just like with wine, and I’ve eaten at Steakhouses all across the United States, and this was the best.  Look for Eddie V’s to be in my “Best of 2014” list coming out at the end of the year.  Hey, the Rib eye wasn’t bad either.  Just kidding, it was awesome as well.  I find that many times Rib eye’s can contain too many large fatty areas, leaving disconnected chunks of meat for you to dig through.   Will the marbling in this particular Rib eye allowed me to eat everything except the bone.  That’s perfect in my book.

One day I will have a wine cellar like this!

One day I will have a wine cellar like this!

The Sequoia Grove Cabernet was a nice pairing as well.  At $24 a glass it is the most expensive wine on the wine by the glass list.  Luckily there are about 400 wines available by the bottle and the by the bottle prices are a lot more reasonable.  Here’s some examples:  B.R Cohen “Silver Label” Cabernet $52, Duckhorn Cabernet $75 and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars “Artemis” $99.  Not bad for a prime restaurant, not bad at all.

Last but not least was dessert! Vanilla ice cream with chocolate cake just oozing with warm melting chocolate on the inside, and big enough for two.

Links:

Eddie V’s Scottsdale Arizona location

Chateau Montelena

Sequoia Grove

disclaimer: My dinner was provided free of charge

6th annual Festival on the farm

The 6th Annual Arizona Wine Grower’s Association “Festival on the Farm”

Festival on the farm

Saturday November 15th, 2014.
Wine in the desert? You Bet!

Set amongst the 100+ year old pecan groves on The Farm at South Mountain, the event will feature over 30 Arizona wineries, wine education seminars, and a live auction.  The idyllic setting is the legacy of Dwight Heard (yes, from the Heard Museum).   In addition to tasting Arizona wines, guests get a chance to meet and greet the wine makers and principals of the various wineries.  The intimate and casually relaxed atmosphere is a great way to really get to know the wines, the people and new friends!

In addition to the tastings, the festival offers educational seminars and tastings.  You might get to taste some rare wines, as the wine makers often bring wine from their personal collection, not available to the public.  Last year Maynard James Keenan of Caduceus Cellars brought a few bottles of his ’08 Judith, which had long since sold out even at it’s initial offering of $100 a bottle.

Later in the afternoon the live auction becomes the center of attention.  The real live auctioneers are very entertaining even if you’re not bidding.  If you’re bidding you could walk away with some truly amazing steals.  In years past wine maker dinners, wine collections, and amazing vacations have fetched top dollar.

If you’re looking for something more intimate you should check out the Arizona Wine Grower’s Association Awards Banquet.  This event is held the Friday night before the festival.  For $75 you’ll get to taste this year’s Arizona Republic Wine Competition winners paired with amazing dishes at Stone Grove at the Farm at South Mountain.  Stone Grove is located right next to Quiessence restaurant, nestled in  very back of the farm.  Arizona wine makers will be on hand for guests to mingle with throughout the night.  Only 100 tickets are available for the Friday night event.

Whether you’re a sommelier or just getting into wine, there is no better event than this to experience what Arizona wine has to offer.

Visit azwinefestivalatthefarm.com for more information and tickets

3 New Releases from Paul Dolan Vineyards

Paul Dolan Vineyards

paul-dolan-wine-bottles

Have you ever had any wines from Mendocino County?  Until recently when I took San Francisco Wine School’s CWAS program I had not been exposed to a lot of wine from Mendocino.  At many retail wine outlets the selection from California consists mostly of Central Coast and Napa/Sonoma, with very little from Mendocino.  The area has a rich wine history and if you’re looking to expand your palate, this is the first place I would recommend you start.

Paul Dolan Vineyards 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino County

paul dolan sauvignon blanc bottle

Vineyards:  100% Potter Valley, Mendocino County

Aging: 100% stainless steel fermented and aged

Alcohol: 13.5%

Certified Organic by C.C.O.F.

This wine is an almost perfect blend of the Californian and New Zealand styles of Sauvignon Blanc.  The nose has distinct lemongrass notes while the palate is a blend of kiwi and grapefruit.  This wine has a very solid backbone of acidity, and just enough ripeness to dial that acidity back a notch.  Suggested retail is $18.  Weekly Wine Journal rating 96 points

Paul Dolan Vineyards 2012 Pinot Noir, Mendocino County

paul dolan pinot noir bottle

Vineyards:  100% Potter Valley, Mendocino County

Aging: 16 months in new and seasoned oak barrels (currently no additional information, I’ll update when I learn more)

Alcohol: 13.5%

Production: 2,000 cases

Certified Organic by C.C.O.F.

This wine has some nice notes of leather and red fruit on the nose.  The palate consists of crisp strawberry and cocoa.  This is a medium/light bodied wine with low tannins and a medium/low level of acidity.  Suggested retail is $30.  Weekly Wine Journal rating 88 points.

Paul Dolan Vineyards 2012 Zinfandel, Mendocino County

paul dolan zinfandel bottle

Vineyards: 100% Mendocino County

Aging: 16 months in new and seasoned oak barrels (currently no additional information I’ll update when I learn more)

Alcohol: 14.5%

Production: 4,000 cases

Certified Organic by C.C.O.F.

I really enjoyed this wine as it was a welcome departure from the overly ripe simplistic fruit bombs I’ve been running into lately.   Blackberry, black pepper, full bodied, medium/high tannins and medium acidity.  The wine evolved quite nicely over my 24 hour tasting period.  I recommend decanting for at least an hour or two on this wine as of right now (Oct 2014)  Suggested retail is $25.  Weekly Wine Journal rating 92 points.

 

I was pleasantly surprised by all three wines. Why?  I didn’t know what to expect, I had no pre conceived opinions of what these wines might be.  I know I’m supposed to do that with all wines, but if you put a $100 Napa Cabernet in front of me I can’t help it – I just know it’s going to be pretty good. More often than not, it is.   But with these wines I just didn’t know and now that I do, I have a new standard with which to measure all wines from the region.  The wines were interesting, a departure from the standard fare.  But not such a radical departure as to be weird and off putting.  Just enough to be interesting and delicious.

Another thing to note as that Paul Dolan Vineyards doesn’t seem to be making a big deal about their Certified Organic credentials by plastering it on the front label of the bottle.  The stewardship of the environment doesn’t just stop with being organic.  Special attention is paid to water reclamation and waste.  Tim Thornhill, chief operating officer and owner talks about changes he made at his other project, Parducci Wine Cellars in an upcoming PBS series titled Quest for Water.

Paul Dolan Vineyards website

 

 

 

Scottsdale’s Palm Court Restaurant receives Wine Spectator honors

scottsdale-palm-court

Wine Spectator’s 2014 dining guide is a list of over 3,700 “restaurants for wine lovers”

I was recently invited to experience the Scottsdale Resort & Conference Center’s Palm Court Restaurant in light of their recent inclusion on the Wine Spectator list.  In addition to receiving the basic award for having a good wine list Palm Court was noted for having a relatively inexpensive pricing structure. I was interested to see this first hand as one of my pet peeves (besides cheap stemware at a nice restaurant) is paying excessive wine markup at a nice restaurant.

scottsdale-palm-court-restaurant-3The first thing you’ll notice about Palm Court, is that it can be a little bit tricky to find.  It’s located on the 3rd floor of the Scottsdale Resort and Conference Center, which is itself easy to miss.  After turning down a small unassuming side street in central Scottsdale, suddenly there it is.  This majestic little gem with the circular drive way, with valet service, a big ornamental fountain and palm trees with white Christmas lights.

I wandered around the property for a few minutes before heading to the restaurant.  It felt a little like a time machine taking me back to the late ’70’s early ’80’s when I used to visit my grandparents at McCormick Ranch.  There’s quite a few interesting architectural features to explore, I recommend spending a few minutes doing that before heading up to the restaurant.

The restaurant has a nice traditional feel to it, and open and airy atmosphere with nice big windows that allow diners to look out over the golf course and catch a sunset.

I had a chance to talk quite extensively with Ahdy Youssef, the assistant Maitre’D and Wine Steward.  He’s a very friendly and warm guy who got his start 17 years ago as a bus boy in the restaurant.  He worked his way up over the years and started getting very interested in wine some years back.  He studied through the Society of Wine Educators program and achieved CWE (Certified Wine Educator) status about 5 years ago.  He was hired by Mr Kwan, who has been working at The Palm Court for 21 years.  The two of them together make a great team and compliment each other very well.   Ahdy also studied with The San Francisco Wine school taking their CWAS course (which I completed this past August)

scottsdale-palm-court-restaurant-6I asked Ahdy what his favorite wines were and he thought about it for a few seconds and then came back with a suggestion: Lancaster Estate Cabernet from Alexander Valley.  He brought out the wine popped the cork and decanted it while Mr Kwan wheeled in a portable cooking station and prepared some gigantic prawns in a Reggiano parmesan risotto with parsley and diced tomato and Chardonnay sauce.  Ahdy asked me what my all time favorite wine was and I replied “Chateau d’Yquem”

“We have that, by the glass”  he smiled.

I don’t think I can recall any restaurant in Phoenix service Chateau d’Yquem by the glass.  Priced at $38 a glass, that is very reasonable considering a half bottle (375ml) of the ’02 vintage they serve goes for $162 at Total Wine in Phoenix

scottsdale-palm-court-restaurant-5I quickly looked up Lancaster on my phone and if you can get it, the ’09 cab will run you at least $75 a bottle.  Palm Court price…$110.  This is why they received that award from Wine Spectator.   One of my pet peeves is paying excessive markup for wine in a fancy restaurant.  It utterly ruins the evening for me.  I always feel like I could have just stayed home grilled up a prime steak from Costco and spent the savings on some killer wine.

 

For dessert: Flourless chocolate cake

For dessert: Flourless chocolate cake

For dinner I chose the lamb, which was done quite well. Not too gamey.  Although I don’t mind gamey lamb either.  One thing to note about the menu:  You’re not going to find the more chef driven style of food here.  You’re going to find more of the French style of cuisine.  The beef tenderloin is carved in half and drizzled with a red wine and béarnaise sauce.  The potatoes are mashed with Gouda.  You’re going to find a more traditional menu.   Appetizers run in the $12-$15 range and main courses are in the $25-$40 range, which is quite reasonable for an establishment with AAA’s four diamond award.

chateau-d'yquem-2002

After dinner I indulged in a glass of d’Yquem and I wasn’t disappointed.  There’s a reason why Chateau d’Yqeum is nicknamed “Nectar of the Gods”, and Palm Court is the only place that I know of in the Phoenix area where you can find out why without having to buy a whole bottle.

Palm Court Website

Lancaster Estate website

 

 

 

A visit to Pride Mountain Vineyards

A Visit to Pride Mountain Vineyards

pride-mountain-vineyards-barrels

I survived the drive to Pride!  reads the caption on the back of the black T shirt I bought in the Pride Mountain Vineyards gift shop.  If you know anything about this vineyard it is well worth the tiny winding road to the summit of Spring Mountain in Napa Valley.  And if you don’t…

Pride Mountain Vineyards is the only American winery to have it’s wines served in 3 different White Houses under Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama.  The greatness of Pride Mountain Vineyards wines is possibly the only thing the 3 of them can agree on!  Pride has received wide spread critical acclaim over the years including four ratings of 96 points or higher for their Reserve Cabernet from Robert Parker since 2001 – two of those were 99 points!

99.5% Cab .5% Petit Verdot 14.8% alc.  1,365 cases made with a retail of $135 a bottle at release.  The wine is now sold out at the winery.

Pride Mountain Vineyards 2010 Reserve Cabernet: 83% Sonoma, 17% Napa | 99.5% Cab .5% Petit Verdot | 14.8% alc. 1,365 cases made with a retail of $135 a bottle at release. The wine is now sold out at the winery.

Pride is also well known for their Claret, which is usually a blend of about two thirds Merlot and one third Cabernet Sauvignon all estate fruit.  Since 2001 the Claret has also received two 99 point scores.

As nice as points and great ratings are, these days there seems to be far less emphasis than there used to be.  To use an analogy from film…the wine could be the greatest romance movie ever made, but if you like action adventure movies you won’t like it much.  These wines, more than just ratings are some of the truest representations of what the New World has to offer and in particular what Napa/Sonoma mountain fruit can be.

I say Napa and Sonoma because this brings us to a very interesting geographical fact about Pride Mountain Vineyards.  The Napa/Sonoma county line runs right through the middle of the vineyards and actually right through the middle of their bottling facility.  In a strange bit of Kafka-esque bureaucracy,  they actually have to fill out paper work to transfer wine bottles within their own bottling facility.

pride mountain county line

The Napa/Sonoma county line runs right through the middle of the vineyard and production facility

On my tour I visited the cave system and tried tasted current offerings including some barrel samples.  Although the Merlot, Claret and Reserve Cabernet were what I came for, I was most surprised by the Viognier.  The tour is more than just a quick walk through, it’s a nice long tour which lasts at least an hour.  There are tasting stations set up in the cave system where guests sample current offerings and learn about the history and the story behind the vintages.  The tour wraps up back in the main entrance and wine shop where the urge to purchase a case of the Reserve cabernet was very very difficult.  I bought the t-shirt instead.

See more pictures from this visit on Facebook

 

 

 

It’s Playtime in Lake County!

It’s Playtime in Lake County!

The Playtime label is part of the Shannon Ridge family of wines, based out of Lake County.  The label produces only two wines, a red blend and a Chardonnay.  The fun labels are a tribute to pin-up stars from the World War II era, and each bottle features either red hair for the red wine or blonde hair for the Chardonnay.  I’m not normally sold on wines that rely on nifty labels, so I was a little skeptical but once I tasted the wines I was pleasantly surprised.

2012 Playtime, Red Wine, Lake County

playtime-redBlend: 61% Zinfandel, 20% Grenache, 11% Petite Verdot, 8% Barbera

Alcohol: 14.2%

Production: 1,250 cases

Retail price: $15.99

This is pretty interesting blend, and it works quite well together.  The nose is predominantly cherries with a hint of vanilla oak.  On the palate there’s decent ripe fruit, but enough tannins to stop this wine from being a flabby jammy run of the mill wine.  The mouth feel is silky and there’s a hint of peppery spice on the back end.

This would make a decent wine to serve with summer bbq fare, especially ribs or pizza or even a good meaty tomato based pasta dish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

playtime-blonde2012 Playtime Blonde, Chardonnay, Lake County

Blend: 100% Chardonnay

Alcohol: 13.9%

Production: 2,500 cases

Retail price: $13

Playtime Blonde is a straight forward easy drinking Chardonnay.  A citrus based aroma and palate with toasty vanilla oak and a little minerality make it more complex than I was expecting for a $13 Chardonnay.  Pleasantly surprised.

*disclaimer this wine was received as a sample review

Shannon Ridge Wines

Playtimewine.com

 

 

Mike Dunn on Petite Sirah

Mike Dunn on Petite Sirah

On my recent trip to Napa Valley for the 19th annual Taste of Howell Mountain I had a chance to visit Dunn Vineyards and Retro Cellars up on Howell Mountain.  After a tour of the vineyard and cave led by Kara Dunn I got to sit down and try out some wine and chat.  While sipping Retro Cellars Napa Valley and Howell Mountain Petite Sirah Mike offered up some insight into the grape and other varieties that do well in the Howell Mountain micro climates.