Saturday, July 7, 2018

Family Winemakers of California Tasting A Winner










 I recently attended the Family Winemakers of California tasting and it was a rousing success.  The venue was the Pier 27 Cruise Terminal in San Francisco.  The size and space for this event was excellent.  Plenty of light and air and good spacing so that tasters could move about easily.   Since there were so many quality producers as well as new names it was in my best interest to view the catalogue and pick those who represented answers to questions I had about their production and distribution.   The number of different varietals being poured was extremely large and stylistically varied.  Rather than ramble on about specific wines I think it serves us better if I give a list of those producers who make a high quality wine that represents a good value.  Most of the wines poured were within the $25 and lower bracket with a number of fine wines in the $50+ area, which they earned with stellar wines in the bottle. Do a Google search for the names and the wines they produce and I am sure you will find a new favorite among them.  I encourage people to visit the Lodi area and explore the large number of producers who make dollar value wines from many grapes you may not be familiar with.
                                          TOP WINERIES THAT I TASTED

BELLA GRACE.....................PLYMOUTH  White and Red Blend/ Barbara/ Zin
BLUE FARM..........................SONOMA     Pinot/ Chardonnay
BOKISCH...............................LODI    -Spanish varietals
GUARACHI FAMILY WINES     NAPA-   Pinot Noir/ Cabernet
HARTFORD FAMILY............FORESTVILLE    Zin, Pinot Noir/ Chardonnay
HEARST RANCH .................Paso Robles      White Blend/ Rhone  Blend/ Cabernet/ Petite Sarah
HOOK AND LADDER..........  SANTA ROSA     Gewurztraminer/ Cab Franc/ Zin/ Red Blend
KEENAN WINERY................ Chardonnay/ Cabernet/Syrah /Zin
LEWIS GRACE WINERY......  PLACERVILLE  Temperanillo/Syrah/ Viognier
MADRONA VINEYARDS..... PLACERVILLE  Zin/ Cab Franc/ Malbec
MERLO FAMILY VINEYARDS..  TRINITY COUNTY   Rhone blend/ Syrah/ Zin/ Chardonnay
MOUNT AUKUM................... EL DORADO   wide range of solid wines
NAVARRO              .................  PHILO   Chardonnay/ Riesling/ Pinot Noir/ Zin/ late harvest wines
OAK FARM.............................. LODI   Albarino/ Barbera/Zin/ Red Blend
PRIDE MOUNTAIN................ NAPA    Merlot/ Cabernet/Viognier
SADDLEBACK CELLARS.... OAKVILLE   Cabernet/Merlot/ Pinot Blanc
SOBON ESTATE..................... PLYMOUTH   Wide range of quality priced varietals
SULLIVAN VINEYARDS....... NAPA    Cabernet/Merlot/ Fume Blanc
TABLAS CREEK..................... Paso Robles   Rhone varietals and blends of high quality
TRIONE WINERY.................... GEYSERVILLE    well crafted line of wines
VICTOR VINEYARDS............ VICTOR  well priced wines that drink well now
VINE CLIFF WINERY.............  NAPA  Chardonnay / Cabernet
VINO NOCETO  .....................  PLYMOUTH   Italian varietals of high quality

    There were many other good wineries that I did not have time to taste but each producer works very hard to make wine that will enhance your experience.  There are many other family owned wineries that do not belong to this organization and they make top shelf wines.  Enjoy the search for new experiences and get on a few mailing lists to keep informed about releases and sales.












Sunday, May 7, 2017








                                       LOCATION   LOCATION   LOCATION

This term is often used in real estate to suggest that property location is the cause for value based on where the property is located.  In the wine world the same also applies as certain locations are the home to valuable and most often famous vineyards. These plots of land are recognized as grand cru or other other designations and their fruit produces wines with certain quality.  Though out Europe the wines are identified by their region and or vineyard name.  Most of the wines in this area are expensive and deserve the price due to their outstanding quality and history of production.

                                                     DAVID PHINNEY
The person behind to wines shown above is David Phinney.  He took the concept that if you dedicate yourself to working with vineyards which have old vines and growers who share the idea of growing fruit which represents the area and country of production.  He spent many many visits to areas outside of the central wine hubs of the respective countries where he would in the end make a non-vintage wine.  His goal was to craft high quality wine reflective of the overall culture of each country.  What you have in each bottle of Locations is a blend of fruit from different regions which are blended to achieve a rich and balanced wine with a lot of flavors.  The current releases of Location are the number 4 series which you can see on the back label.  As you can guess there is still wine that will be used for the coming #5 but that will not happen for awhile.  The labels as you can see are represented by the letter of the country as you would see it on a license and on the left side is the color of the flag of the nation of origin.   I recently had a tasting of the three wines above with members of my wine tasting group and here is what we thought.  The price per bottle is around $15, which in my opinion is a steal for the quality
                                                      BOTTLING
Locations wines are all bottled at a facility outside the city limits of Barcelona.  This allows for the control of quality and shipping.  You will notice that all of the above wines are bottled in the same shape bottle, which is not cheap.   The corks used are of the highest quality and the glass is superior to most of that which is used in Europe. The winery cuts no corners when it comes to production and export.
                                                      FRANCE
F for France is just a superb bottle of wine made from a blend of Grenache, Syrah and mixed Bordeaux varietals.  The origin of the fruit is from the Rhone, Roussillon, Maury and Bordeaux regions of France. It checks in at a healthy 15% ABV, but is not hot or course at all.  Very aromatic and integrated tannins make this a joy to drink anytime.   Aged 10 months in oak prior to bottling.  In my opinion this wine far exceeds the majority of wines from each of the above regions which retail in same price range. The generous fruit and complex flavors that you get do not appear  at the lower levels of each region. The blend is better than the single part.

                                                         SPAIN
E for Spain is an example of the quest for fruit from many different regions of the country. The blend of Grenache, Tempranillo, Monastrell and Carignan  is sourced from the following regions: Priorat, Jumilla, Toro, Rioja and Ribera del Duero.  Quite rich with berries, plum and cherry this is a mouthful of medium full fruit and a lavish finish. With an ABV of 14.5 this is a ripe and round wine. Quite simply put this is delicious ...   Again this has more weight and body than the average young Spanish Tempranillo.  This bottling has the capacity to age for a while and gain more complexity.  

                                                          ITALY
I for Italy. David found the base vineyards to make this lovely wine with the following varietals: Puglia provided Negroamaro and Nero d'Avola and that was blended with Barbara from the Asti region of Piemonte.  David feels this wine with its solid core of acidity and can age for a number of years to  gain more complexity.  It checks in at 14.5% ABV and again is all about fruit.  There is more of an earthy and tar like quality which is in the background. You could compare this wine with the name most people know, Chianti and this is different with much more obvious fruit flavors and more texture to the body.  This would compliment any Italian dish and make the meal a joy.

*  The Locations wines were provided by Balzac Communications which also linked writers to an interactive video conference with David Phinney.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Gray Report: Trump winery needs Mexican farmworkers: Hot takes and realistic takes

The Gray Report: Trump winery needs Mexican farmworkers: Hot takes and realistic takesAt the Bloggers Convention in Lodi, many growers talked about the problem of skilled labor to tend to their vineyards. At harvest time it is crunch time to pick fruit that is at its optimum. Our Latino labor partners do so much for our economy and for the most part for lower wages. Restaurants, hotels, agriculture would suffer in so many ways. Most Americans look down their noses at the work and compensation. The Donald has not real clue.