Jan 24th - This Date in Wine History

Battle of Sluys

Wine has a long established history of being our drink of choice for celebrating, entertaining, and savoring life; but it didn't start out that way. From the invention of the barrel to the designation of the separate viticultural areas, wine has a long and sorted history.  In our daily feature "This Date In Wine History," we share an event of critical importance in wine history.

  • The Battle of Sluys takes place off the coast of Flanders in 1340.  The French had disrupted English shipping of wool and wine which lead to this sea battle.  The English, under Edward IIIwon decisively with most of the French ships being destroyed or taken.
  • John Cabot landed in what is now known as Newfoundland in 1497.  He was the first European to to explore the region since the Vikings landed there and called it Vinland.
  • Prince Leo (Lev) Galitzine founder of wine-making in Crimea was born in 1845.

June 23rd - This Date in Wine History

Wine has a long established history of being our drink of choice for celebrating, entertaining, and savoring life; but it didn't start out that way. From the invention of the barrel to the designation of the separate viticultural areas, wine has a long and sorted history.  In our daily feature "This Date In Wine History," we share an event of critical importance in wine history.

  • The Gentlemen’s Magazine of 1803 describes the Duke of Bedford’s wedding to Lady Georgiana Gordon including a description of the wedding favors (white and silver) and wine and cake at the reception.
  • In a letter dated June 23, 1808, Martha Jefferson Randolph complaining about amount of wine available in the wine cellar and that Monticello had exhausted its supply of Madeira
  • Russian poet Anna Akhmatova was born in 1889.  She wrote:

A land not mine, still
forever memorable,
the waters of its ocean
chill and fresh.

Sand on the bottom whiter than chalk,
and the air drunk, like wine,
late sun lays bare
the rosy limbs of the pinetrees.

Sunset in the ethereal waves:
I cannot tell if the day
is ending, or the world, or if
the secret of secrets is inside me again.

“”
A land not mine, 1964

 

Calistoga - Wine Region of the Day

Calistoga

Calistoga received its AVA status in 2010 and is a sub-appellation of the Napa Valley AVA located on in the northern portion of the Napa Valley. Calistoga's soil is almost exclusively volcanic, providing a consistency throughout the region. The daily high temperatures up to 100 degrees and cool nightly breezes from the Russian River cause the highest diurnal temperature variation in the Napa Valley. This temperature fluctuation along with the volcanic soil creates wines with big bright flavors and deep complexity and well-balanced acid. The region is known for its SyrahPetite SirahCabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Zinfandel.

2012 Oak Cliff Cellars Firebrick Zinfandel - Wine of the Day

2012 Oak Cliff Cellars Firebrick Zinfandel

2012 Oak Cliff Cellars Firebrick Zinfandel

$35


Exhibiting exceptional clarity and brilliance in the glass, this wine is effusive with a seductive nose of strawberries and cinnamon followed by layers of strawberries, raspberries with peppery notes leading to a long finish.

Firebrick Hill Vineyard sits 1000 - 1200’ above sea level in northeastern Mendocino County just north of Lake Mendocino, on the Ricetti bench, an alluvial terrace. Vineyards in the Redwood Valley AVA sit about 200 feet higher in elevation than those along the Russian River, further downstream in Ukiah and Hopland . The climate of this upland valley is slightly cooler than vineyards to the south, furthered by a gap in the coastal ridge which allows cool Pacific air currents to penetrate. These conditions result in a longer growing season and a gradual ripening of fruit that makes Redwood Valley wines refined, with more acidity and deeper color. The notable red soil of the area also provides depth of color and flavor to the wines. The result is layered, nuanced wines with great structure and bright fruit, like the peppery, spicy Zinfandels for which the Redwood Valley is known.

2012 Nobelle Wines Cuvée Noël - Wine of the Day

2012 Nobelle Wines Cuvée Noël

 2012 Nobelle Wines Cuvée Noël

$25


Typical Bordeaux style elegant and plummy with a twist of spice, the merlot brings a traditional velvety texture to the blend and cab the tannins.

2012 was amazing by any standard. All of this fruit came to full maturity with good color and acids, the natural hot springs underneath Julie’s Vineyard provided all the water and nutrients that the grapes needed to survive.

Aged for 18 months – 1/3 in brand new barrels, 1/3 in 2 to 5 year old barrels, 1/3 neutral barrels. Varietals comprise Cabernet Sauvignon from Starr Ranch, Malbec from Lockwood Valley Vineyards, dry farm Merlot from Julie’s Vineyard and Syrah from Hearthstone Vineyard.

North Yuba - Wine Region of the Day

North Yuba

North Yuba received its designation as an AVA in 1985. Situated on 22,548 acres, North Yuba is a sub-appellation of the larger Sierra Foothills AVA and is located in Yuba County. The vineyards in North Yuba typically sit at an elevation of 1,500 to 2,000 feet above sea level. The soil is largely volcanic in nature and well draining, forcing the vines to develop deep, sturdy roots. The vines typically produce a low yield of grapes, but the grapes produced are smaller in size with a more concentrated flavor. North Yuba is bathed in sunlight during the day, and the region is hot and dry in the daytime during the peak of the growing season. The nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains offer a cooling effect in the evening and can drop the evening temperatures by as much as 20 degrees. This diurnal temperature swing creates a longer growing season and allows the vines to produce grapes with balanced acidity. North Yuba is known for its old vine Zinfandel but also produces Cabernet SauvignonSyrah, Grenache, Viognier, and Roussanne.

June 22nd - This Date in Wine History

Wine has a long established history of being our drink of choice for celebrating, entertaining, and savoring life; but it didn't start out that way. From the invention of the barrel to the designation of the separate viticultural areas, wine has a long and sorted history.  In our daily feature "This Date In Wine History," we share an event of critical importance in wine history.

  • The Records of Lloyd’s Coffee House for 1710 indicate that the clarets from the ship, Marquis de Berniere were advertised in the Tatler and bought by Thos. Tomkins, broker.
  • The Niles Weekly Register for 1833 discusses the Parliamentary arguments for new wine tariffs between Lord Ellenborugh, the Marquis of Lansdowne, Lord Aukland (seen above) and the Earl of Ripon.
  • California's Diablo Grande AVA was designated in 1998.

2011 Genetic Pinot Noir - Wine of the Day

2011 Genetic Pinot Noir

 2011 Genetic Pinot Noir

2 bottles for $100


The 2011 Genetic Pinot Noir is a special Oregon Pinot Noir from Sabina Vineyards. This wine has a nose that is reminiscent of freshly crushed cranberries, cherries and fresh herbs. Brilliant acidity cleanses the palate following the richest of gravies while marrying the flavors picked up on the nose to create the ultimate experience producing a spectacular pinot noir for Sabina Vineyards.

The grapes for this wine come from the Roserock Vineyard which is perched on a ridge top towards the southern end of the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, which is located within the Willamette Valley, home to many of Oregon’s finest Pinot Noir vineyards. In 2011, a warm and dry harvest period gave way to cooler than expected conditions in late September and early October. Fortunately, the fruit was at or near its ripening plateau. A final heat spike at harvest dehydrated many clusters, reducing yields and concentrating flavors.

The Genetic wines are an homage to the LGBTQ community and perfect for celebrating Pride Month!  We are offering these wines in pairs for $100.

Qorkz Kitchen - Solstice Edition

I was researching customs for the solstice and actually found a recipe.  Mostly midsommer festivities involved fire, liquor and staying up all night keeping the witches away.  Witches in June?  I don't know why.  Some thing just are the way they are.  Or we have forgotten why.

In way of keeping traditions alive, I am making Portuguese soup.  Caldo Verde.  Yes, there is a green element.  Everything that I read about the soup indicated that it was a cabbage soup.  But all the recipes that I found used kale.  Maybe I am splitting hairs, but I think I have found a way to live up to the intent of the soup without having to pay $4 a pound for Lacinato kale.  The compromise I have chosen is by means to Savoy Cabbage.  Yes, that is cabbage in the picture.  The leaves of the Savoy cabbage are bubbly like the Tuscan type of kale but it isn't as expensive because it isn't so frou-frou at the moment.

Solstice Kitchen

Here are my ingredients:

  • 1 small head of Savoy cabbage (about 1 lb if it is over that is ok.  you are going to have bits that don't go into the soup)
  • 1 large onion (diced)
  • 1 lb of new potatoes (sliced thin)
  • Chopped garlic (I have seen quantities anywhere from 1-4 cloves.  Choose at will. I have 4 in mine - you have been forewarned)
  • 1/2 pound of chorizo or linguiça (sliced thin)
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

That doesn't seem like enough ingredients for a heart meal.  Amirite?! Well, it is.  

Start the process by pulling leaves off the cabbage until you get down the the really pale inner leaves.  It will start getting difficult to peel these off.  Wash the individual leaves and dry them in a piece of paper towel or an actual towel.  Separate the leaf from the hard stem in the middle of each leaf.  I ended up with 2 pieces per leaf.  Then take several leaves and roll them together like a cigar then thinly slice the cabbage.  It will look like this:

Now you take your onions and garlic and sauté them in a couple of spoonfuls of olive oil. When soft but not browned add the potato slices and the chicken stock. (Which I hope is home made.  See instructions in our gravy piece.) My chorizo is a dry variety so I add it now.  If fresh, it is the last addition.... Let simmer until the potatoes are cooked then mash half of them in the pot to thicken the mix.  When nicely mixed then add the julienned cabbage a bit at a time and let it cook down.

The final cooking should take only 30 minutes but can stay on the back burner for an hour (the bright pretty color will fade but it is still awesomely good and yes, that is what I did).

Serve with country bread and red wine, may I suggest 2011 Genetic Pinot Noir.

Happy summer!

Santa Ynez Valley - Wine Region of the Day

Santa Ynez Valley

Santa Ynez Valley received its designation as an AVA in 1983. Sitting on 42,880 acres, the Santa Ynez Valley is the largest growing region in Santa Barbara County. The soils range from gravelly loams and clay loams to shale and silty clay loams. All soils in the valley have excellent drainage. The topography of the growing regions varies from 200 to 1,500 feet above sea level, with the differing climates following the changing elevations. The western end of the Valley is cooled by morning fog and breezes off of the Pacific Ocean. The eastern end of the valley is considerably warmer and higher in elevation. Cool climate varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the dominant vines on the western side of the valley while Rhone varietals, namely Syrah, thrive in Santa Ynez Valley's eastern end.

June 21st - This Date in Wine History

Wine has a long established history of being our drink of choice for celebrating, entertaining, and savoring life; but it didn't start out that way. From the invention of the barrel to the designation of the separate viticultural areas, wine has a long and sorted history.  In our daily feature "This Date In Wine History," we share an event of critical importance in wine history.

  • Leonhard Rauwolf was born in 1535.  He was a German physician, botanist and traveller known for his writings.  He describes his travels in Lebanon as
“The town of Tripoli is pretty large, full of people, and of good account, because of the great deposition of merchandises that are brought thither daily both by sea and land. It is situated in a pleasant country, near the promontory of the high mountain Libanus, in a great plain toward the sea-shore, where you may see abundance of vineyards, and very fine gardens, enclosed with hedges for the most part…”
  • John Smith, English soldier and author died in 1631.  He helped establish the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia.  In 1609, while the colonists were approaching starvation, he bought food and wine on credit to feed them.
  • The Aleatico di Gradoli DOC was created in 1972.
  • Charles Mara paid $24,000 for a case of 1979 Opus One Cabernet Sauvignon.  

Mount Harlan - Wine Region of the Day

Mount Harlan

Mt. Harlan received its designation as an AVA in 1990. Located in the Gabilan Mountain Range, Mt. Harlan is 7,440 acres large but there are only 100 acres under vine. The soil is made up of limestone, and the terrain of the growing terraces sits at an elevation of 1,880 feet above sea level. The elevation of the growing regions allow for plenty of daytime sun, but the vines are exposed to constant cold wind from the Pacific Ocean. The region is best known for its production of Chardonnay and Viognier, but lately it has started producing Pinot Noir as well.

2012 Coruce Syrah - Wine of the Day

2012 Coruce Syrah

2012 Coruce Syrah

$23.95


This wine is comprised of 93% Syrah and 4% Petite Sirah and 3% Viognier.  The fruit was hand harvested and table sorted and then cold soaked on the skins for 48 hours and then co-fermented for 16 days and pressed off the skinsand racked off the solids into 3 and 4 year old French oak barrels and aged for 18 months.  Left on the lees and stirred monthly.

This wine has flavors and aromas of dark cherries, plum, lavender, blueberries followed by a toasty bacon finish.  Medium tannins 

June 20th - This Date in Wine History

St. Silverius

Wine has a long established history of being our drink of choice for celebrating, entertaining, and savoring life; but it didn't start out that way. From the invention of the barrel to the designation of the separate viticultural areas, wine has a long and sorted history.  In our daily feature "This Date In Wine History," we share an event of critical importance in wine history.

  • Spain's Pla de Bages DO was created in 1997.  The name of the region comes from the Roman town of Bacassis, though the monastery of Sant Benet de Bages claimed that the town was named for Bacchus.
  • It is the feast day of Pope Saint Silverius.  The French have a saying, “Pluie d'orage à la Saint-Silvère, c'est beaucoup de vin dans le verre,” which means, “Rain storms on St. Silverius Day means plenty of of wine in the glass”.
  • It is the Summer Solstice today.  Austria celebrates with fireworks and lit boats traveling down the Danube through the wine growing region. They also light up the vineyards!  There German’s celebrate with bonfire’s and drinking of wine and the Portuguese celebrate with a meal of Caldo verde, grilled sardines, bread and red wine (we are skipping the sardines).

June 19th - This Date in Wine History

Chicago World's Fair

Wine has a long established history of being our drink of choice for celebrating, entertaining, and savoring life; but it didn't start out that way. From the invention of the barrel to the designation of the separate viticultural areas, wine has a long and sorted history.  In our daily feature "This Date In Wine History," we share an event of critical importance in wine history.

  • The final report of the State of California for the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 Commission reported that California's wine display in the Horticulture Building was considered a special attraction to fair goers. (seen above, the White City viewed from the canals on the Midway Plaisance, later home to the Monsters of the Midway).
  • Henri Enjalbert, French specialist in wine geology died in 1983. He was known for writing the definitive book about Pomerol as well as discovering the potential of new wine regions.
  • René Renou, president of the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine died in 2006.  The INAO controls the rules regarding the AOC system for wine and other agricultural products.

Ben Lomond Mountain - Wine Region of the Day

Ben Lomond Mountain

Ben Lomond Mountain received its designation as an AVA in 1987. Situated on 9,000 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Ben Lomond is located between the cities of San Jose and Santa Cruz. The soil consists of eroded grants, limestone, and sandstone and is well draining. The vineyards on Ben Lomond Mountain sit at an elevation of 1800 feet above sea level. This high elevation allows for the vines to sit above the fog line and receive longer exposure to the sun. The mountain is cooled by Pacific Ocean breezes from Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay, allowing the grapes a longer ripening time. This longer time on the vine allows the grapes time to develop stronger tannin structure, balanced acidity, and bright flavors. The region produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

2014 Cal Star Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County - Wine of the Day

2014 Cal Star Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County

 2014 Cal Star Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County

$20


Pale straw gold in color, the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc is the sum of three distinct parts.  At first, bold citrus and tropical notes dominate: Meyer lemon, grapefruit, lychee, honeydew melon, pineapple and kiwi.  Secondary notes balance the fruit with lemongrass, clover and a hint of sweet ginger.  Tertiary flavors of wet rock, shortbread and vanilla round the palette and draw the juicy tropical notes through the finish.  The bright acidity brings focus to the lush citrus and ripe fruit notes while finishing with bright key lime and stony minerality. 
 
With a long, cool growing season, the cool climate of the Russian River Valley keeps wines crisp while allowing the natural character of the climate to shine through.   The picturesque Crinella Marino vineyard is located in one of the warmer areas of the Russian River Valley and experiences less rain and weather challenges than many other sites in the region.
 
The grapes offer a combination of a sophisticated Sancerre of the Loire Valley and the grassier New Zealand selections.  This is a California wine for a Sauvignon Blanc enthusiast.

June 18th - This Date in Wine History

barbarossa

Wine has a long established history of being our drink of choice for celebrating, entertaining, and savoring life; but it didn't start out that way. From the invention of the barrel to the designation of the separate viticultural areas, wine has a long and sorted history.  In our daily feature "This Date In Wine History," we share an event of critical importance in wine history.

  • Frederick I Barbarossa crowned as Holy Roman Emperor in 1155.  He died during the third Crusade and his soldiers tried to preserve his body in a cask of vinegar.  It didn’t work.
  • Robert Mondavi was born in 1913. 
  • The Greco di Bianco DOC was created in 1980.

June 17th - This Date in Wine History

Naples

Wine has a long established history of being our drink of choice for celebrating, entertaining, and savoring life; but it didn't start out that way. From the invention of the barrel to the designation of the separate viticultural areas, wine has a long and sorted history.  In our daily feature "This Date In Wine History," we share an event of critical importance in wine history.

  • In a letter dated 1740, Thomas Gray wrote his mother about his travels in Naples (shown above) and the concerns of the people about the weather which was presumed to injury their corn, wine and oil.
  • Gregory Blaxland, the first exporter of Australian wine was born in 1778.
  • F.T. Martens received a patent for wine in 1913.

Sierra Foothills - Wine Region of the Day

Sierra Foothills

The Sierra Foothills received their designation as an AVA in 1987. Situated on 2,600,000 acres, The Sierra Foothills includes sub-appellations California Shenandoah ValleyEl DoradoFair PlayFiddletown, and North Yuba. The Sierra Foothills features a mostly volcanic soil structure, but also has regions of loam and alluvial fans. The climate in the region is Mediterranean due to the warm days and cooler evenings. The region is famous for first being settled during the California gold rush, with vines of Zinfandel being planted soon thereafter. Prohibition devastated the region's wine growing efforts, but many of the vines were just abandoned in place instead of destroyed. Many of these vines still survive today, giving the Sierra Foothills some of the oldest Zinfandel vines in the country.