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Sunday, 09 November 2014 19:59

Gina Gallo Honored by American Wine Society

Gina Gallo PicmonkeyGina Gallo

TASTE News Service November 10, 2014 - Gina Gallo of the E & J Gallo Winery received the American Wine Society's 2014 Award of Merit at the organization's national conference in Concord, N.C. Nov. 1.

Part of the third generation of the family that helped shape the world of wine, Gina Gallo distinguished herself through the Gallo Signature Series, limited production wines made with the best grapes from Gallo's estate vineyards.

Granddaughter of company co-founder Julio Gallo, Gina began her life in agriculture at the age of 10, working in the family's vegetable garden. Farm and vineyard became both a school and playground.  She earned her bachelor's degree from Notre Dame de Namur University and studied winemaking at University of California at Davis, later apprenticing at the Gallo family's experimental micro-winery in Modesto, California, and developing the Gallo Signature label.

Before the crowd of 570 at the Embassy Suites Golf Resort & Spa in Concord, Gina Gallo explained how she had recently left harvest, trading her jeans for a skirt to accept the award. 

"My grandfather, Julio, and great uncle Ernest, taught us to tend to the fields and left us a legacy that we continue to learn from," she said.  "I am truly humbled and honored to receive the Award of Merit from the American Wine Society."

The AWS presents the Award of Merit in recognition of significant and meritorious contributions to the wine industry.  "Throughout the history of E&J Gallo, the Gallo family has shown an ability to evolve with consumers and the market," said Jane Duralia, president of the American Wine Society. "Gina has continued that tradition through her passion and incredible wine making abilities, helping Gallo continue as major force in wine industry."

About the American Wine Society

Founded in 1967, the American Wine Society (AWS) is the largest consumer-based organization in the U.S. dedicated to promoting wine appreciation through education. AWS is a non-profit organization of over 4,300 wine enthusiasts, from novice to expert, in 130 chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada. Membership is open to any adult interested in wine. For more information visit American Wine Society.

Friday, 31 October 2014 11:19

October 31, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

Pride cabfranc Picmonkey

2007 Cabernet Franc

 

Pride Mountain Vineyards

Sonoma County

Alcohol: 14.2%

Suggested Retail: $60

 

“Cabernet Franc is vinified on its own in the wines of Chinon from France's Loire Valley. It's also included in blended red wines from Bordeaux. Though less familiar to American consumers than its cousin, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc is becoming a more popular option for California winemakers.

“Pride Mountain is in the Mayacamas Mountain Range. It is situated at 2,000-feet elevation on Spring Mountain and includes property in both Napa and Sonoma Counties. Though the current release of this winery's Cabernet Franc is the 2012 vintage, our pick this week is the 2007. We can't imagine a younger version of this variety being any more vibrant. This is a powerful wine, bigger and bolder than that any any of its Gallic cousins. Each vintage of Pride's Cabernet Franc bottlings contains slightly different blends. The 2007 includes 14% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. There are gobs of fruit here. We thought the flavors reminiscent of dark cherries, blueberries and blackberries. It's not entirely fruit driven, as there are some subtleties, to include a little chocolate/mocha in the aroma.”

Food Affinity: “Would require something equally bold. Beef dishes come to mind. Grilled, coffee-rubbed rib eyes. Standing rib roast with garlic mashed potatoes.”

Shannon Ridge sheep and dog PicmonkeySheep graze in the early winter vineyard

TASTE News Service October 14, 2014 - Taverna Sofia in Healdsburg, California has won the gold medal in the annual 2014 Sonoma County Harvest Fair Restaurant Competition for Best Entrée, serving Shannon Ranch lamb meatballs with tzatziki sauce.

"I think it is great," says Clay Shannon, owner of Shannon Ridge Family of Wines and Shannon Ranch. "Not many ranchers can say that their employees taste so good that they win gold medals!"

Shannon Ridge Family of Wines has a unique workforce. This Lake County operation is the largest scale vineyard in the United States using domestic sheep to weed, mow, sucker, and fertilize their vineyards. Shannon coined the term "Ovis Cycle" to describe this practice. "Ovis" is the Latin word for sheep. They herd 1,000+ head of sheep into 800+ acres of vineyards. Shannon Ranch lambs are raised hormone-and antibiotic-free. The lamb is vineyard-grazed and never corn-or feed-lot fed. The wool is sold for use in textiles and knitting.

"Sustainability has become a buzz-word," says Shannon, "but the Ovis Cycle is truly sustainable because, in the end, the sheep are providing us with food and wool. We also eliminate the need for pesticides and herbicides in our vineyards. I know that when our lamb is served at a restaurant that we are truly partners in a sustainable future. "

As part of the "Ovis Cycle," Shannon Ranch sells 1,400 grass-fed lambs each year to some of the top restaurants around the country, including numerous restaurants in California, such as Farmstead and Press in St. Helena, Bottega in Yountville, and Taverna Sofia in Healdsburg.

About Shannon Ridge Since 2002, Shannon Ridge Family of Wines has been making a variety of wines from their sustainably farmed vineyards in Lake County. The Shannon family is committed to preserving their land, not only for the great vineyard sites but also for the bear, elk, mountain lions, eagles and other creatures which live there. Of their approximately 2,300 acres, only about 800 acres have been converted to vineyards. The balance of the land has been preserved for the wildlife which wanders through the property.

Editor's note: If you're thinking of visiting the emerging wine country of Lake County, check out the Resource Directory of Taste California Travel. In the North Coast section you will find links to the websites of all the wineries, as well as links to Lodging and Dining options. There's even a section of links to craft beer purveyors.

Saturday, 11 October 2014 19:34

October 10, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

Dry Creek Vnyd 2011 The Mariner Picmonkey

The Mariner 2011

 

Dry Creek Vineyard

Appellation: Dry Creek Valley

Alcohol: 13.5%

Suggested Retail: $45

 

“The Mariner is a red wine bearing what's called a proprietary name. It is a blend of grape varieties native to Bordeaux, as grown in the Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley. Though it's mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (51%), it can't be labeled as such, because it contains less than the 75% minimum. The composition also includes Merlot (30%), Cabernet Franc (10%), Petit Verdot (5%) and Malbec (4%).

“We tasted this wine analytically, then enjoyed half of it with a dinner and revisited it for re-tasting three days later. Initially we found aromas of cherries and berries backed by toasty and nutmeg nuances, followed by dark and layered cherry, blueberry and plum flavors. There was a smoothness in the mouth and a finish that our notes called 'slippery,' a good thing in our estimation. Overall impression the first night was that The Mariner was absolutely pleasurable from first taste, yet showing complexity that we thought would show through the meal. We were right. Experience on day one was entirely positive.

“When re-tasting we finally looked at the tasting notes supplied by the winery, Dry Creek Vineyard. These suggested that after the wine had been open a while it would show “hints of tarragon, nutmeg black tea and blueberry.” Nutmeg? Blueberry? O.K., I had already found those on my own. Black tea? Maybe, but not prominent to my nostrils. Tarragon was another matter. This herb is unusual among the standard wine descriptors used in this business. But it was there—absolutely! We've followed The Mariner though earlier vintages and wish more California winemakers would—or could—make Cabernet-based wines in this style. It packs plenty of flavor, layers of complexity and, at 13.5 alcohol, proves less can be more. Highly recommended.”

Food Affinity: “Given that tarragon character, we're got to go for a grilled rib eye with sauce Bernaise.”

Thursday, 02 October 2014 11:01

Mondavi Brothers Launch RAEN

Dante and Carlo Mondavi at RAEN PicmonkeyBrothers Carlo and Dante Mondavi

TASTE News Service October 2, 2014 - Brothers Carlo and Dante Mondavi of Napa Valley, have launched their own brand specializing in Sonoma Coast single vineyard Pinot Noir. Its name, RAEN, stands for Research in Agriculture and Enology Naturally, referencing the brothers’ keen appreciation for natural winemaking. Inspired by their family's four generations of winegrowing, The new winery is Carlo and Dante’s personal project, independent of any other, whose goal is to create world-class Pinot Noir from the cool, coastal vineyards of Sonoma County.

In speaking of what inspired them to found RAEN, the Mondavi brothers said, “Our grandfather Robert always told us to follow our dreams. Ever since we first began to know wine, Pinot Noir has been our favorite. It is the most mysterious, the most difficult to grow and craft but also the most incredible. The time is right for the two of us to bring our vision to life.”

The venture's first release is from the brilliant 2013 vintage, three Pinot Noir wines from three unique growers, farmed at higher elevation coastal sites along the true coast and planted to heirloom and Dijon clones.

This initial release trio of releases; Fort Ross-Seaview, Occidental and Sonoma Coast, were cold fermented using native yeast, then aged for 10 months in neutral French oak barrels before being bottled, unfined and unfiltered. All three were produced in tiny quantities, each cuvée averaging no more than 90 cases.

Napa Valley winemaker Tim Mondavi, Carlo and Dante’s father, who is not involved in RAEN, is happy to see their project grow: “Pinot Noir is one of the world’s finest wines and I am pleased with the effort that my boys are putting into their project," he said. "I am very proud that they are pursuing their dreams independently of what I am working on at Continuum Estate.”

Wednesday, 17 September 2014 13:48

Korbel Toasts Friendship of Five Military Friends

Korbel Girlfriends Picmonkey Adrienne Dennis, Emilia Fernandez, Shannon Wilson, Rhonda Anderson and Kawryne "Tilly" Tillman

TASTE News Service September 17, 2014 – American soldiers recently celebrated their friendship at Korbel Champagne Cellars in Sonoma County's Russian River Valley. Korbel has been a part of life’s celebrations for more than 132 years and on this occasion they were hosting a celebration for the winners of a Girls Getaway contest.

Across the country, women submitted toasts about their friendships and explained why their group of friends should be chosen to win the getaway.

Major Shannon Wilson, from Countryside, Ill., shared a toast about the special bond she has with her fellow soldiers and how deployment of a year together built their enduring friendships. She tells how being thrown into the very hectic and different situations of deployment can bond friends so easily just like with her group of now lifelong companions.

"My girlfriends and I toast life every day – and we have much for which to be thankful. I am thankful myself just to have them,” said Wilson. “Finally, a year is up, driving up to our Armory in Chicago while the Fire Department hoses our bus down to welcome us home and we are crying, laughing and hugging. We exit the bus and find three bottles of Korbel Rouge waiting for us! With our special Rouge, we toast to friends and life!”

Wilson and four of her fellow soldiers and girlfriends – Kawryne “Tilly” Tillman, Emilia Fernandez, Rhonda Anderson and Adrienne Dennis – received four days of VIP treatment at the Korbel Winery. The trip included airfare and accommodations along with behind-the-scenes winery tours, working the crush with the winemakers, and gourmet meals prepared by the winery chefs, as well as poolside spa treatments at the winery.

“This year is special because not only did we get to toast five great friends but three American soldiers whose service and dedication to our country makes us so grateful,” commented Gary Heck, owner and president of Korbel Champagne Cellars.  “Korbel is raising a glass to the special relationships women share with one another and the celebrations they share whether large or small.”

Saturday, 13 September 2014 17:09

September 12, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

Dry Creek Vnyd 2012 Old Vine Zin Picmonkey

2012 Old Vine Zinfandel

 

Dry Creek Vineyards

Dry Creek Valley

Alcohol: 14.5%

Suggested Retail: $30

 

“Sourced from vines over 90 years old, this Zinfandel shows aromas of blackberries and some of that briary aspect that's hard to describe, but happy to discover in modern Zins. The flavors are deep and complex with lots of blueberry ad blackberry backed up by a wall of spiciness in the background.”

Food Affinity: “Will take a substantial main dish to match this powerful wine. We think beef is the way to go, but a spicier treatment of lamb would likely also work.”

Friday, 22 August 2014 20:00

August 22, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

ValleyMoon Rosato 2012 Picmonkey

2012 Rosato di Sangiovese

 

Valley of the Moon Winery

Sonoma Valley

Alcohol: 13.9%

Suggested Retail: $18

 

“The linguistically-challenged can translate Rosato di Sangiovese as a rosé wine made from Sangiovese, the grape variety responsible for wonderful Chianti in Italy, but one that hasn't reached those heights as grown and vinified in California.

“Color is fairly deep—we'd describe it as between salmon and hot pink. Aromas of Maraschino cherries and an orange slice as found in a Shirley Temple, followed by flavors of Bing cherries and strawberries. There seems a little residual sugar, but it gives a richness and full-feeling in the mouth, without any cloying in the finish. (At 13.9 alcohol, this wine isn't big by California standards, though quality rosés from Europe would be a point or point-and-a-half lower in alcohol.) This rosato could be appropriate as an aperitivo or poured with a main course.

“We wish we could encounter more wines like this one. Shop around—we found it at $7.99 at one big retailer.”

Food Affinity: “Reviewer enjoyed this wine with grilled pork chop, but kept thinking it would be great with Lobster Newburg, that classic dish from another era.”

Friday, 15 August 2014 11:13

August 15, 2014 Wine Pick of the Wine

Dry Creek Vnyd Heritage Vines Zin 2012 Picmonkey

2012 Heritage Vines Zinfandel

 

Dry Creek Vineyard

Sonoma County

Alcohol: 14.5%

Suggested Retail: $20

 

“This 2012 Heritage Vines really does exhibit characteristics of Zinfandels from an earlier era. Fruit was sourced from vines that are the product of cuttings from a pre-Prohibition Zinfandel vineyard grafted to modern rootstocks. Petite Sirah provides 15% of the blend.

“There's a bit of that quality the reviewer has called 'brambly,' a descriptor that has no real definition, but sometimes resonates with other Zin fans. The Dry Creek Heritage Vines Zinfandel has lots of berry fruit personality—blueberries and blackberries say the winery's tasting notes, but we find some raspberry in its profile, too. In the background is a dusty white pepper quality that's found too infrequently these days. Lovely, long finish.”

Food Affinity: “Rich and slowly-cooked meat dishes. Short ribs. Beef stew perhaps incorporating cloves and/or orange peel. Eggplant with Moroccan spices.”

Friday, 01 August 2014 12:59

August 1, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

Ch St Jean Belle Terre Chard

2012 Chardonnay

Belle Terre Vineyard

 

Chateau St. Jean

Alexander Valley

Alcohol: 14.4%

Suggested Retail: $30

 

“One of three vineyard-designated Chardonnays from Chateau St Jean, the 2012 Belle Terre is rife with characteristics said to evoke 'stone fruits.' More specifically, we'd say both white and yellow peaches—throw in nectarines of the same two hues, too. Some spice in the aroma and maybe just a hint of hazelnuts. Plenty of vanilla from the oak, but there's a lemony citrus that offsets or complements that creamy vanilla aspect. A solid representative of the traditional California style with this variety.”

Food Affinity: “Salmon with a honey-mustard glaze, crab cakes with aioli, Fettuccine Alfredo.”

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