Saturday, November 21, 2015

2013 Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

*Sample received*

Today's wine and no doubt my favorite varietal is the 2013 Ponzi Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir from beautiful Oregon. The region is known for growing world class Pinot and on my bucket list for a visit.

Ponzi Vineyards was born in 1970 by Dick and Nancy Ponzi with the first wines in barrels in 1974. Two years later those wines were introduced into the Portland market a mere 96 cases of wine and the rest is history from the New York Times feature to the Legendary Producer status of today.

The winemaker is Luisa Ponzi who at an early age showed her passion for wine making while closely shadowing her father. Educated at Portland State she ventured off abroad and became the first American woman to receiver her certificate in enology and viticulture in Beaune France. Her education and experience shaped her philosophy and is evident in the world class wines she crafts today.

The nose on this wine is so aromatic with rich ripe cherry, strawberry rhubarb, tart cranberry and a hint of cocoa, earth and cloves. A wonderful expression of Pinot. Aged 11 months in french oak and aged an additional 5 months in the bottle, the wine was released in Sept 2015.

The mouth is beautiful with luscious cherry and cranberry fruit followed by notes of vanilla and spice. The finish is long showcasing the fruit from start finish. Pinot Noir at it's finest. Well priced at $40. Make a stop for this wine today!


2012 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County

*Sample received*

Today's quick sip comes from my great friends at Rodney Strong Vineyards and their always delicious Sonoma County portfolio. The affordability of an everyday drinking wine with the flavors and aromas of a sophisticated gem, the quality of these wines is outstanding. A couple I know this is their favorite Cabernet and when they stop by I always make sure I have one on hand for them.

The nose is lively with raspberry, vibrant cherry, blackberry with a touch of vanilla, wildflowers and allspice. Nice complex layers of aromas and very pleasing. So consistent from vintage to vintage.

The mouth is very fruit forward with raspberry, blackberry and cherry. The finish is long with toasted oak and spice which compliments the juicy fruit. Nice soft tannins and a perfect pairing with red meat sauce over pasta. Never disappoints my friends.

Stop by for a visit in Healdsburg and enjoy a tasting, tour and check out the many events held at the winery. A true total wine experience you won't want to miss.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

2012 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label

*Sample Received*

No need for a special occasion to open a bottle of Cornerstone Cellars wine because every time is special when you open one of their bottles. Wines of elegance, aromatics, terroir and perfect fruit are what you the wine lover will find with each bottle and sip from the folks in Yountville and Oregon. My first trip 5 years ago took me to their tasting room and I have been hooked ever since. A regular sipper/blogger of Craig's juice, I get the distinct pleasure of tasting this labels consistency vintage after vintage with no 2 the same.

Tonight's wine is the 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Black Label. 92% Cabernet, 5.5% Merlot and 2.5% Cabernet Franc the wine spent 18 months in French Bordeaux oak growing up and becoming the handsome youngster it is today. The nose provides beautiful aromatics of red raspberry, blackberry with a hint of blueberry. What I first noticed though was this wonderful toasty spice which came screaming from the glass before the fruit intertwines in harmony.

The mouth is lush with layers of blueberry, plum, blackberry and raspberry. A hint of earthiness with a bold spice gives this wine a sophisticated feel. Allow the wine to open in the glass and you will see this evolution to a softer elegant wine. Oh how I love it's complexity.

Swing by the tasting room in Yountville to discover these beautiful wines for yourself.


Saturday, October 31, 2015

2011 Ceja Vineyards Sonoma Coast Syrah

Armando Ceja enjoys wearing both the vineyard and winemaking hats at Ceja Vineyards an ultra premium Latino family owned winery founded by Amelia, Pedro, Armando and Martha Ceja. Having grown up working the land, Armando can tell you just by the smell which AVA he is standing in and it brings back many memories of working with his father, mother and grandmother (who by the way were excellent cooks). The introduction at an early age to the vineyards along with his UC Davis education enables Armando to produce the very best wines the vineyards offer. His philosophy is simple, “Making wine is more like making preserves than jam,” he says and favors bright fruit balanced wines. As well his creations are so food friendly and many are paired with recipes from President Amelia Ceja's kitchen along with the help of daughter Dalia.

One of my first wineries visited in Napa was a stop at Ceja Vineyards and to be greeted so warmly by Amelia and her family was a huge impression. We sipped and talked for what seemed like hours listening to the early stories, the venture to where they are today and her passion for wine. Not lost in the discussion was the importance of family and this winery operation is truly a family affair.

Tonight's wine is the 2011 Sonoma Coast Syrah. Harvested from the Adobe Vineyard and aged 24 months in new french oak, the nose exhibits notes of earth, smoke and pepper spice followed by a rush of lush blackberry jam. A slight hint of dried herbs compliments the wine nicely.

The mouth is full of ripe blackberry, black raspberry followed by a slight pepper spice and earthy leather finish. The tannins are so soft for such a medium bodied wine. A special syrah indeed. I paired this with spaghetti and meat sauce which was a complete AAA rating.

If you have the chance to visit I highly recommend a stop at the tasting room located at 22989 Burndale Road, Sonoma. Plan to spend some time sipping, listening and as always purchasing some of these premium wines.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Lost & Found

I've had my fair share of emails from wine friends asking if I was sick. Why do you ask? Well we noticed your posts have been missing, no online tastings, no winemaker tastings or bottle shots. Correct on all accounts. Even my wife noticed I was not sipping the grape juice.

I temporarily lost the way. The whole reason I got into wine was because I enjoyed sipping. The blog was born as a way to tell the world about the small producer, promote their wines and be their voice. After all who would know Campesiono Cellars  Passaggio Wines   Gallegos Wines Krutz Cellars Cornerstone Cellars Eric Ross Winery Ceja Vineyards and the 1000 other wines started in garages and custom crush facilities.

Being inundated with multiple weekly online tastings became more of a job than the thrill of discovering new wines. With the popularity came sample after sample and no longer was tasting fun. I drifted farther away from the real reason I drank wine....because I enjoyed it. I never missed the TV Tuesday Live show at Cellars Of Sonoma for 4 years and then no real motivation to watch. Today, no online tasting invitations and samples are limited. I'm back to my humble beginnings with a smile.

Even the blog became a bore. The stories stopped and all I posted was tasting notes and the same wording. I was becoming just another blogger in space. No direction no means just words slapped in a couple paragraphs. I was becoming what I said I never would be.... just another wine blog. Tried monetizing with strategic placed ads. What was I thinking? Talking with other bloggers who encouraged me...."we all go through writers block it will come back." It was a dark place with no desire to sip or post then something changed the other day.

Martin Cody posted a wine book Hungry For Wine: Seeing the World Through the Lens of a Wine Glass. It took reading 1/4 of the book to open my eyes. The passion and fun was missing. Wine is fun and shared with friends. It had been too long since the wine boys stopped by for a 3 hr tasting with great wines and great food plus a little joke telling. I pulled out the old Napa/Sonoma pictures from out trip and you could smell the vines and the soil. I'm back and ready to discover. Time to commit to one small production wine per week and get back to my roots. Time to be like Dezel of My Vine Spot a wine friend who enjoys telling the story of each bottle and varietal. It's time to have fun sipping again.