Friday, December 28, 2018

Christmas Malbecs

Christmas time my family bakes a number of candies and cookies. On Christmas Eve we deliver boxes of our creations to some of our closest friends.

The Finished Product

This year Jose and Lili were not close enough to deliver their box on Christmas Eve. When they were back in town we arranged for a dinner. I thought this was the ideal time to enjoy a Malbec Jose brought back from his last trip to South America and had given me for my birthday. My thought was why not blind taste it vs the other Malbecs I had in my cellar. Jose was open to the idea.


C - 2015 Picchetti, Pedregal Vineyard, Paicines came in first place with an average of 3.50. We received this as members of Picchetti. It cost $38.

D - 2013 Carmelo Patti, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza came in second place with an average of 3.38. I picked it up at K&L the day of the tasting. They didn't have many choices, just 4 from Mendoza. I picked he most expensive one. It cost $35.

C - 2014 Chateau St Jean, Reserve, Sonoma County came in third place with an average of 3.25. We picked it up on our last trip to Sonoma. It cost $63 with Ted's member discount. 

A - 2013 Catena Zapata, Adrianna Vineyard, River Stones, Mendoza came in last place with an average of 2.75. 

One can question the wisdom of blind tasting a gift, and rightfully so. I enjoyed all of the wines and enjoyed blind tasting them too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Intimate Russian River Pinot Bind Tasting

Two of our three kids were going to be gone over the weekend, one in New Orleans and the other in Chicago. Both their trips sounded fantastic, much better than anything we had planned for the weekend, which was nothing. I knew the Farrells were going to be in town, so Thursday night I asked if they wanted to do a last minute blind tasting over the weekend. Ted replied they were in. I pinged Jose to see if he was available. He was, but unfortunately Lili was visiting her sister. Now all we had to do was figure out what to taste.

I put all my wine into VinoCell. It showed me what options I had. I initially offered to do a 2014 Gap's Crown tasting, trying different Wineries' take on the fruit.

Saturday morning Ted countered and we agreed on Russian River Pinots. I let Jose know what the plan was and made certain he knew he didn't have to bring anything, given we were starting in six hours.

The weather was nice, blue skies and 70s. We set up outside with a hodge-podge of glass types as I was too lazy to open up all the burgundy wine glasses.

We started with a lovely 2015 Freeman, Ryo-Fu, from the Green Valley of the Russian River. It was nice. Shannon really liked it.

As we tasted, I noted all of the wines were great, but three of them I would take home and sleep with, they were that good.


B - 2014 Paul Hobbs, Katherine Lindsay Estate, Russian River Valley came in first place with an average of 4.05. Sue and I brought this. It cost $135. We bought this while tasting at their Vineyard Designate Experience. Truly decadent pricing for a Pinot and a tasting. The tasting began at 10:30 in the morning. I texted with Carlos and Ted after the introduction sparkling, asking if $120 was too much to spend on a Chardonnay. The answer is yes, but I bought a couple to share. In my defense, I didn't buy either the $300, $400, or $500 cabs.

A - 2014 Kosta Browne, Keefer Ranch, Russian River Valley came in second place with an average of 3.85. Sue and I brought this. It cost $90. I bought one from my Kosta Browne allocation. Next offering I may have to buy 2.

E - 2014 Dehlinger, High Planes, Russian River Valley came in third place with an average of 3.66. Ted and Shannon brought this.

D - 2014 Macphail, Dutton Ranch, Green Valley of Russian River Valley came in fourth place with an average of 3.30. Ted and Shannon brought this.

C - 2015 David Bruce, Russian River Valley came in last place with an average of 2.60. Jose brought this. Jose remembered that Michel liked David Bruce Pinots.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

SLH Birthday Tasting

After a water break we continued tasting four Santa Lucia Highland Pinots.

While tasting with Ted and Shannon and others in Los Olivos I met a character in the The Los Olivos Tasting Room & Wine Shop. He gruffly expressed his strong opinions on Pinots, one of which was that Santa Lucia Highland produced the best Pinots. Given I haven't explored much of the Pinots in the region, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to give some a try. It was my birthday, which excused the K&L bill and besides, The Emperor of Pinot demanded it, or so I told Sue.


C - 2013 Kosta Browne, Rosella's Vineyard came in first place with an average of 3.70.

D - 2015 Kosta Browne, Pisoni Vineyard came in second place with an average of 3.64.

A - 2012 Kosta Browne, Gary's Vineyard came in third place with an average of 3.29.

B - 2013 Kosta Browne, Santa Lucia Highlands came in last place with an average of 2.96.

I didn't set out to taste only Kosta Browne SLHs, but I wanted all the well known vineyards, all with a similar, drinkable vintage. These seemed the best options K&L had.

Monday, March 26, 2018

45th Birthday Tasting Revisited

As planned, I brought out the Pinots we tasted at my 45th to taste again, 3 years older.

Unfortunately, we had to set up inside due to the rain and cold. My birthday is alway hit or miss weather-wise. It's a little cozy indoors, but we make it work. Plying everyone with wine can't hurt this cause.

The tree out front was certain it was spring and cheerfully greeted our guests.

We started off with one of the Kosta Browne 20th anniversary wines: A magnum of 2015 Bootlegger's Hill, Russian River Valley, Chardonnay.

It was a beautiful wine with a surprising amount of schmutz at the bottom for a white. Its dark color surprised me given it's age. Is this a result of the oak fermentation? It was interesting to read Bootlegger's Hill is a selection of Wente clone from the Hyde Vineyard. The Patz & Hall, Hyde, Chardonnay is one of my favorites. I'll have to investigate what clones it uses.

We tasted the four Pinots while Sue filled us with bacon wrapped potatoes and pot stickers.


C - 2012 Kosta Browne, Russian River Valley came in first place with an average of 3.98.

B - 2012 Thomas Fogarty, Rapley Trail, Henry Ayrtons’ Block, Santa Cruz Mountains came in second place with an average of 3.85.

A - 2012 Halleck Vineyard, Estate, Sonoma Coast came in third place with an average of 3.65.

D - 2012 Patz & Hall, Pisoni Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands came in last place with an average of 3.49.

Amazingly the Kosta Browne took first as it did in the original tasting. The average rating improved from 2.98 to 3.74. The bottles were pretty young when we originally tried them. Three years later, it was hard to pick a winner.

Monday, January 15, 2018

2018 SF Chronicle Wine Competition Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Medal Winners

The 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition results are in. Congratulations to the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA winners.

Pinot Noir: $28.00 – $31.99

  • 2014 Sones, Thuy's Vineyard $29 - Bronze

Pinot Noir: $32.00 – $35.99

Pinot Noir: $36.00 – $39.99

Pinot Noir: $40.00 – $43.99

Pinot Noir: $44.00 – $47.99

Pinot Noir: $48.00 – $54.99

Pinot Noir: $55.00 – $64.99

  • 2015 Bargetto, Mount Eden Clone $60 - Gold

Pinot Noir: $65.00 & Over