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Tuesday, 17 October 2017 16:17

Mendo For Mushrooms, Wine & Beer

TASTE News Service, October 17, 2017 - As the flavors of fall arrive in Northern California's Mendocino County so does the annual crop of coveted candy cap, chanterelle, porcini and hedgehog mushrooms.

Sunday, 16 April 2017 11:12

Wine Pick of the Week

MiaBeaChardonnay Picmonkey

2015 Chardonnay


Mia Bea


Alcohol: 14.2%

Suggested Retail: $22

Wednesday, 14 December 2016 18:21

December 16, 2016 Beer Pick of the Week

North Coast Old Rasputin Picmonkey

Old Rasputin


North Coast Brewing

Fort Bragg, California

Style: Imperial Stout

Alcohol: 9%

IBUs: 75

Serving Style: Kegs and 12-ounce bottles

Availability: Year around

Saturday, 13 December 2014 11:36

December 12, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

Bonterra Chardonnay Picmonkey

2013 Chardonnay



Mendocino County

Alcohol: 13.5%

Suggested Retail: $16


“We liked this wine more a day after first opening it. As this organic Chard 'opened up' it showed a very floral aroma. Lots of orange blossom in the nose. Both the aroma and subsequent tastes revealed a rich, creamy personality. Some vanilla from from aging in relatively small percentage of new oak. Evokes memories of a frozen treat that was variously packaged as Creamsicles or Dreamsicles. These had a vanilla ice cream center enveloped by an icy orange coating, and were a staple of the reviewer's childhood.”

Food Affinity: “Create a dish using chicken breasts marinated in white wine and orange juice, then prepared with mushrooms, some cream and finished with a dusting of hazel nuts.”

Saturday, 06 December 2014 11:19

December 5, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

Bonterra Viognier Picmonkey 2

2013 Viognier



Mendocino County

Alcohol: 14.5%

Suggested Retail: $16


“Another Bonterra wine from certified organic vineyards, this Viognier contains an unspecified amount of Muscat in the blend to amplify the Viognier's natural floral quotient. Peaches and citrus greet the nose, followed by (deeper) flavors of peach and apricot backed by just a hint of brown spice. At 14-and-half alcohol there is substantial weight and viscosity to make this wine substantial enough to pair with heartier foods. Clean, long finish. Would be an interesting alternative to the Chardonnay-as-cocktail order at happy hour.”

Food Affinity: “Veal or poultry with cream sauces. Grilled or baked halibut prepared with Satsuma Mandarin sections.”

Saturday, 29 November 2014 19:53

November 28, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

Bonterra  Zinfandel Bottle Picmonkey

2012 Zinfandel



Mendocino County

Alcohol: 14.5%

Suggested Retail: $16


“Some may be drawn to Bonterra's Zinfandel because it's made from organic grapes. Nothing wrong with that, but we've encountered some products—wine and otherwise—that taste lousy, however pure, green and organic they might be. Happily, that isn't the case with this wine. We think it's a fine example of the variety and a good value, to boot. While the 2012 Bonterra Zinfandel is packed with plenty of power, it hasn't lost its sense of what this varietal should be all about. We find aromas and flavors of blueberry, plum and blackberry with a little of that intriguing black pepper quality in the background. The wine shows nice balance and a long finish. A very solid effort from Bonterra.”

Food Affinity: “While it worked pretty well with Thanksgiving roast turkey and the accompanying cranberry sauce, first choice here might be beef. Pairing with tri-tip grilled Santa Maria style would be a near-perfect experience.

Saturday, 30 August 2014 13:04

August 29, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

Ferrari Carano pinot noir SHR Picmonkey

2012 Sky High Ranch Pinot Noir


Ferrari Carano

Mendocino Ridge

Alcohol: 14.5%

Suggested Retail: $48


“This is a powerful example of what a California Pinot Noir can be. Stopping well short of the unfortunate, too-big style some winemakers have taken with this variety, the Ferrari Carano Sky High Ranch still delivers plenty of punch. Aromas of blackberry, dark cherries and a little cedar precede layered flavors that demonstrate the breadth of the Pinot Noir palette. Dense berry flavors (blackberries, blueberries) are prominent, with some mocha and dark chocolate in the background. There's a fullness in the mouth and a long-lasting finish.”

Food Affinity: “After tasting, reviewer decided to serve with enormous pork T-Bone chops, that were first seared, then slowly baked in the oven. The choice seemed appropriately substantial to come up to the heft of the wine. Other directions could be taken, of course. Duck with cherries would be one possibility. Anything accompanied by a ragout of wild mushrooms would also intrigue.”

Saturday, 19 April 2014 18:09

April 18, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

Ferrari Carano Middleridge PN bottle Picmonkey

2012 Middleridge Ranch


Pinot Noir



Anderson Valley

Alcohol: 14.6%

Suggested Retail: $ 42


“When the 2012 Middleberg Pinot Noir debuts a little later this year, it will be Ferrari-Carano's first release from this vineyard. The winery made its mark with Fumés and Chardonnays in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley, but in recent years has expanded northward, building a second winemaking facility in Mendocino County, where all the company's red wines are now made. The Anderson Valley is a cooler region, which has earned a reputation for producing great Pinot Noir grapes and Ferrari-Carano is now producing three separate bottlings sourced from Anderson Valley fruit. The other two are labeled, “Anderson Valley” and “Sky High Ranch”.

“The Middleridge Ranch Pinot Noir is plush. First impression is dense black cherry and raspberry. The fruit is fairly intense and there's a cola-like background underpinning it. Like its sibling Pinots from this producer, it is a big wine, but not without some subtlety. It will be interesting to track all three of the Ferrari-Carano entries in this category as they develop.”

Food Affinity: “Try with grilled beef that's been marinated in red wine, some pomegranate juice and tiny bit of cocoa.”

Monday, 24 February 2014 13:05

February 21, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week


Lazy Creek Gewurz Picmonkey

2012 Gewürztraminer


Producer: Lazy Creek Vineyards

Appellation: Alexander Valley

Alcohol: 14.5%

Suggested Retail: $22


“It has been a while since we tasted a Gewürztraminer and longer still since we tasted a really good one. This Lazy Creek example reminds us how delightful top-quality Caliornia Gewürz can be. This white grape variety can produce wine in styles varying from dry to quite sweet. Grown in many parts of the world, its primary homes are Germany and the Alsace region of France. When applied to Gewürztraminers from other places such as California, the phrase Alsatian style is usually code meaning the drier version. Lazy Creek is located in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County on California's northern coast. It's an idyllic area known for fine Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, but it also produces equally fine Gewürztraminers.

“Floral and spicy are descriptors often applied to this grape variety. In the 2012 vintage of this wine we found aromas of peach blossom, honeysuckle and roses—perhaps dried roses. In the mouth we sense white peaches or nectarines and maybe just a bit of pineapple or mango. The 'spicy' component is here, but even at the relatively high alcohol level (14.5%), spicy doesn't mean 'hot.' It manifests itself in the seeming presence of clove and cinnamon or nutmeg. Though not an Alsace-grown Gewürztraminer, the Lazy Creek displays in abundance the traditional virtues of the variety.”

Food Affinity: “Chinese and Indian cuisine are frequent suggestions for this variety, but we chose to pair the Lazy Creek Gewürztraminer with our own attempt at Alsatian cooking—a slowly-roasted, herbed pork shoulder. Nutty and smokey-flavored cheeses would be natural, as would many sausage dishes.” 

Saturday, 23 November 2013 11:31

November 22, 2013 Wine Pick of the Week


Bonterra Chardonnay Picmonkey2012 Chardonnay

Producer: Bonterra

Appellation: Mendocino County

Alcohol: 13.8%

Suggested Retail: $13.99


“Chardonnay can come in many styles. At opposite ends of the taste spectrum would be the lean, perhaps subtler, wines like French Chablis and the big oaky and creamy versions more common in California. This Bonterra wine strikes a nice balance between the two. Made of organically-grown grapes, it exhibits tasty green apple and Bartlett pear flavors which give it a richness. This is offset—perhaps complemented would be a better way of saying it—by a bit of minerality and some bracing citrus qualities. Seventy percent was fermented in oak barrels and the balance in stainless steel. The stainless steel fermentation tends to let the fresh and crisp aspects come through and the small percentage of new oak (winery says 16%) gives some vanilla characteristics.

“The 2012 Bonterra Chardonnay isn't a 'stunner,' but is a good example of a versatile style that will please many and is well-worth the $14 price.”

Food Affinity: “Some sort of baked chicken dish involving a creamy sauce and served with morels and topped with sliced almonds.”

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