Posts Tagged ‘fort mason wine tasting’

Road Trip!

June 3, 2011

We live in an area where so many great things are within easy reach, including world-class wine-tasting destinations both famous and not-so-famous.

Summer is ripe with possibilities.

Familiar & Famous

If you’ve got a pocketful of disposable income, and nothing special on tap this weekend, you might try to snag a paddle at the Auction Napa live auction at Meadowood on Saturday (June 4).

Bidders in Action at Auction Napa 2010

The ne plus ultra charity fund-raiser is always a sellout.

The draw for globe-trotting tasters is  the valley’s most hard-to-get wines alongside world-class food. Auction lots range from cases of rare and expensive wine to personalized wine travel, dining and adventure packages.

Auction proceeds are funneled back to local charities, which have received more than $97 million in contributions over the years. Check the Napa Valley Vintners website for more information or call 707.963.3388. Good luck!

Two Events, One Parking Lot

Next weekend, there’s a pair of wine-tasting events in Santa Rosa featuring a range of tastes, styles and winemakers.

Vinify, a custom-crush facility, will host 18 small producers pouring more than 40 wines next Saturday (June 11) . The event runs from 1-4 p.m . Tickets are $25.

Don’t expect a lush landscape with picturesque vineyards and a veranda. Vinify is located in the Pinecreek Business Park, an industrial/warehouse setting a few miles off Highway 101. This is a fun event, which I attended last year and really enjoyed. Here’s a link.

Just across the parking lot from Vinify, Inspiration Vineyards is  hosting its own open house. Jon Phillips, winemaker, and his wife Barbara will be pouring from a lineup of at least eight Sonoma County wines, , including zinfandel, cabernet, pinot noir, and chardonnay.

Bottle Your Own

Get your hands (and tongue) wet on Saturday, June 11, at La Nebbia Winery near Half Moon Bay where they will be having a “bottle your own wine” event. For $4.95/bottle, you can fill up your own bottle with vintage 2010 sangiovese wine from Paso Robles. Add $1.50 to the tab if you need to buy a 750-ml bottle from the winery.

Pinot Days

The 7th annual Pinot Days celebration culminates with a mass tasting of 100s of wines at Fort Mason on Sunday, June 18.

There’s a heavy emphasis on California pinot at this event, but there will also be offerings from Oregon and France in the mix with more than 200 wineries participating.

Tickets for the main event are $50.

Several additional tastings, including a spotlight on California pinot noir specialist Williams-Selyem and a Best of Oregon retrospective, are also being held prior to the main event. Check out last year’s coverage for more background.

Mendocino in Motion

You won’t have to make the drive up to Mendocino to sample some of the North Coast’s best wines later this month. They’re coming to you!

More than 60 Mendocino wineries will pour current releases in San Francisco at Fort Mason on Monday, June 30 from 5-8 p.m. Regional foods and craft beers will also be available at the Taste of Mendocino event. Tickets are $35 in advance.


Tasting Winners

February 24, 2011

Good things often come in “twos.” Like Starsky and Hutch, corks and corkscrews, and two cabernets that hail from one small but impressive Napa district.

Prime Cellars 2007 cabernet sauvignon from the Midoriya Hills Vineyard took a gold medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

I’d describe it as fruit forward (slightly tart, red cherry) with just the right touch of oak for my taste. The tannins are in balance. This $55 bottle took a Best of Show award at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition in 2010.

The Burly 2007 cabernet ($60) is another SF Chronicle medal winner (silver) with fruit from the Simpkins Vineyard, believed to be one of the earliest vineyard sites in Napa County.

This is another ready-to-drink red wine with red currant and blackberry fruit, unobtrusive tannins with just a hint of spice on the nose. I bet it gets even better over the next few years.

Coombsville Connection

Burly and Prime share a common base  — the Coombsville district.

While this is not an “official” appellation, there is an application pending to designate Coombsville as a separate AVA (American Viticultural Area). It’s no secret that many good Napa-based blends include fruit from this area, which is just east of the town of Napa. Harvest comes later here than in most other sites in the famed valley, allowing grapes to hang on the vine longer and potentially develop more complexity.

I wrote about a broad sample of wines from the Coombsville district after a special tasting last year.

Here’s a link to that story.

Tasting the Competition

I picked the two Coombsville wines as co-favorites from a crowded field at the SF Chronicle Wine Competition public tasting. The competition drew more than 5,000 entries, mostly from California. The tasting was held last week when award-winning selections from the contest were poured at Fort Mason.

Here’s a link to the top SF Wine Competition award winners.

Cloudy Skies, Quality Cabernet

Tasting day was chilly and wet, with grey skies and rain for a backdrop. But, there was a lot to like at this crowded event. In no particular order, here’s a list of the most interesting wines I sampled.

The 2007 cabernet from Frank Family Vineyards is delicious. With deep red color, this wine pumps out volumes of saturated flavor in classic Napa style. There’s a hint of mint on the nose of this $45 silver medal winner that leans toward blackberry and dark fruit on the tongue. The most complete wine of the tasting, in my opinion.

The 2007 cab from Oakville Ranch Vineyards is another fine example of Napa fruit that got a 93 rating from Robert Parker and a silver medal at the competition. I’d have nudged this wine into gold status for its cassis and red fruit flavors, perfect touch of moderate toasted oak and lovely aroma.

Petite Sirah

I enjoyed the very smooth 2008 petite sirah from Cahill, a small producer in Sebastapol which won a double gold for this $32 entry. The wine is smooth, contrary to petite’s tendency toward harshnesss. The grapes come from Alexander Valley.


I also liked the Clos du Bois 2007 reserve merlot from Alexander Valley ($21.99). I’ve been a fan of Clos du Bois for decades and have some of their older vintages in my cellars. This typically great merlot rates high for its great blackberry and cherry taste with mocha highlights.


La Casque is a winery I’d never run across until this competition. The 2009 viognier from the Cooper Vineyard in Amador County is a tasty California iteration of this primarily French varietal. The taste reminds me of Bosque pear with a faint trace of honey. The smell is divinely fresh and clean citrus. There’s a bit of marsanne, another French grape that’s sometimes mated with viognier, producing a bit fuller bodied product.

Pinot Noir

The words diva and pinot noir don’t normally conjure up visions of Salinas, but I discovered a good-tasting connection to the Central Valley outpost at this tasting.

Diva Cellars from Salinas won Best of Show designation for their 2008 Monterey pinot noir ($24). The wine has a classic red cherry core and it’s ready to be enjoyed now.

“You start with great grapes,” explained Dan Franscioni, whose family operates the winery. “It all comes from that.”

Caution: Shed Ahead

Of all the wines I tried — and I hardly made a dent against more than 1,000 available selections — the best buy was a wine called Tractor Shed Red. Cerruti Cellars is the producer of this versatile California blend, which is 60 percent sangiovese. The remaining 40 percent is split equally between zinfandel and merlot.

There’s nice cherry fruit alongside some good acids to balance everything out. A glass (or two) of Tractor Shed Red ($12) would complement any spicy tomato dish, grilled beef or pork sausage, especially on a chilly evening.