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Posts Tagged ‘California Wines’

California Chardonnay

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San Pasqual Winery

2012 Chardonnay South Coast (California)
California Chardonnay

San Pasqual, an Urban Winery

 

The San Pasqual Winery follows the newer trend among California Chardonnay producers to stop clobbering drinkers’ taste buds with oak, allowing more of the fruit to shine through. As a result, you get flavors of pear, golden apple and a hint of butterscotch. This method also imparts far less butter and oak, which is absolutely fine with me. It had a crisp lemon finish.

 

I also got a chance to try the 2014, which hasn’t been released. It is an equally beautiful expression of fruit forwardness.

 

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White Wines for Christmas

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Rhône-style Whites for Christmas

 

White Wines for Christmas Dinner

White Wines for Christmas Dinner

If you are looking for white wines for Christmas but dread having to drink another bottle of Chardonnay, then you should turn to Rhône Valley-inspired whites. Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc are four popular and food-friendly options. By drinking outside the box this Christmas season, you’ll start a new tradition while discovering some amazingly delicious wines.

Of the four, Viognier is the most well-known and most likely to be produced as a single-variety bottle. It has a very aromatic peach nose and taste, followed by Springtime honeysuckle and lime. A medium- to full-bodied wine, Viognier holds up nicely to food.

 

Get with the Blend
Wines for Christmas

Wines for Christmas

Many Americans tend to think that blends, two or more wines combined to produce a single wine, are inferior. This false perception is fueled by the predominance of wines produced as a single variety in America. However, in Old World wine regions, blends are the norm.

In the Rhône Valley, Roussanne and Marsanne are integral blends in the production of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Hermitage wines. In the esteemed northern Rhône Côte-Rôtie region, up to 20% Viognier is added to Syrah. Southern Rhône winemakers blend up to 10 different wines, and on occasion more.

 

Christmas Dinner Selections

Christmas Wines

These Rhône-inspired whites are superb wines for Christmas dinner:

  • Tablas Creek Vineyard, located in Paso Robles, focuses a lot of their blends on Rhône-style wines. Their 2012 Esprit de Tablas Blanc is made using Roussanne primarily.  The wine’s taste brings back memories of a summer day with citrus, apricot and white peaches.  The abundant minerality allows it to pair well with Christmas foods including seafood appetizers such as shrimp or a main salmon dish.  $45
  • Santa Barbara County winery Beckmen Vineyards 2011 Le Bec Blanc gives a bow to France with a blend of  Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier.  At only $18, it offers all the classic flavors noted above.
  • E. Guigal La Doeriane Viognier (Condrieu, France) This is a quintessential 100% Viognier that’s a little pricey at $100 but worth it if you can drink in this neighborhood.
  • I started drinking wines from this producer about four years ago and have never been disappointed. The 2012 Cline Cellars Viognier has lush honeysuckle, white peach and ripe pear flavors. It pairs well with turkey and gravy. Priced near $16, it’s not an overly complex wine but carries enough acidity to earn a spot at the dinner table.

Merry Christmas!

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The Newest California AVAs

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California Gets 13 New AVAs

California Gains More AVAs

California Gains More AVAs

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is granting new American Viticulture Areas (AVA’s) with the same frequency that Biogenesis distributes steroids to professional athletes. In 2012, there were 206 registered AVA’s in the United States. During the past couple of years, that number has increased markedly.

Many states, including North Carolina new AVA designations. But California, already home to more than 50% of all AVAs, is leading the pack. The most recent additions include the new AVA called Eagle Peak Mendocino County,  11 new sub-AVAs, all part of the Paso Robles AVA, as well as, Malibu Coast.

 

The Newest California AVAs

Beginning on November 10, growers will be able to label wines produced in the Eagle Peak Mendocino County AVA with the new moniker. The new region encompasses approximately 26,260 acres. It is part of the greater North Coast AVA, located about 125 miles north of San Frsmcisco. As strange as it may sound, despite the name, Eagle Peak Mendocino County AVA is not situated within the already-established Mendocino AVA, nor is it a sub-region. Thankfully, Eagle Peak Mountain, a prominent topography feature, and rising 2,700 feet above sea level is delimited to the region.

The distinguishing characteristics include a marine influence climate, strong breezes, shallow soils with low-holding water capabilities, and a mountainous terrain.

 

Central Coast
Ocean Breezes & Fog

Vines Love Ocean Breezes & Fog

Paso Robles, in its quest for new sub-regions wins the prize for the longest and most detailed proposal ever filed with the TTB. Paso may have been feeling like the Rodney Dangerfield of wine regions. Prior to the establishment of the new AVA’s, Paso Robles was the largest undivided AVA within California. In comparison, the Napa Valley, which is two thirds smaller, currently has 11 sub-appellations. Now, the two prominent regions are even. Paso Robles AVA Map

With the division in place, the hope is winemakers will be able to show the diversity of the soil and weather of each region, in essence the terroir. The distinguishing attributes also include average annual rainfall ranging from 11 to 29 inches and altitude rising from 600 feet to over 2,400 feet above sea level.

Taking effect on November 10th, the 11 new sub-appellations are as follows:

  1. Adelaida District
  2. Creston District
  3. El Pomar Paso District
  4. Paso Robles Estrella
  5. Paso Robles Highlands
  6. Paso Robles Genesso
  7. Paso Robles Willow Creek
  8. San Juan Creek
  9. San Miguel district
  10. Santa Margarita Ranch
  11. Templeton Gap

The timing of this announcement is perfect as it coincides with the Paso Robles Wine Harvest Celebration on Oct 17-19.

 

Surf’s Up

In July, two existing AVA’s, Malibu-Newton Canyon and Saddle Rock-Malibu became sub-appellations of the new, greater Malibu Coast AVA.  With a size of approximately 44,590 acres, it includes portions of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Boundaries were also redrawn as a result of the addition. If a winery wishes to use a specific AVA name on a wine bottle label, at least 85% of the grapes must have been grown in the region.

 

Do Wine Drinkers Care?
Visit the Tasting Room

Visit a Winery & Taste the Difference

Winemakers in all of these new AVA’s will now have to accept the challenge of demonstrating the subtle differences to consumers. Will wine drinkers recognize and/or appreciate these hard-fought battles for new AVA status?

If nothing else, it’s a great excuse to get out and visit wine country.

 

 

 

 

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Wine Review Snapshot

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Wine Tasting Review

Sipping for Wine Reviews

Sipping for Wine Reviews & Education

As a wine educator, I am tasked with tasting wines on a frequent basis. Yes, break out the guitar and play a blues song for me. So, since I drink wine almost daily, I thought it was time again to share some tasting notes. For another wine review snapshot, check out my post on Warm Weather Wines ideal for fall.

What follows is a wine review snapshot of wines I’ve enjoyed recently.

 

My Wine Tastings Highlights

Domaine Peiriere by Paul Sapin

Chardonnay/Viognier

Pays d’Oc

Salad with orange slices

Salad with orange slices

I love blends. The Viognier in this blend gives it a bit of freshness and lemon zest, while the Chardonnay brings a great golden color that hints of oak. I wish more American Chardonnay producers would blend their white wines instead of making pure single variety wines.

This wine would be a nice accompaniment to a salad with mandarin orange slices or one with pieces of avocado. The acidity would compliment the citrus while matching nicely with the creaminess of the avocado.

It’s not a complicated wine but I’d drink it again as one of my simple, everyday wines. I believe it is priced under $10.

 

2011 Robert Craig Affinity

Cabernet Sauvignon

Napa Valley

This wine has great legs and a beautiful deep, purple color. On the nose, I got plum and blackberry fruit. Although the wine was young, I tasted masculine dark, plum and jam-like fruits. It also had surprisingly tamed tannins.

For a Napa Cab, the Robert Craig Affinity at $39.95 is priced quite reasonable. If you can buy two bottles, you should. Then, you can drink one now and lay one down for another 3 to 4 years. This is a wine that will taste even better in a few years.

 

2012 Ramey

Cabernet Sauvignon

Napa Valley

This Cabernet will set you back around $50, but it is worth every penny. It tastes like a Cab that cost twice as much. And that certainly is not a bad thing given the hefty prices most Napa Cabernets.

Its appearance is an intense dark red but the nose was a bit trickier. I smelled cherry and Thanksgiving spices, which only hastened my desire to taste it. So I gave into temptation and was rewarded with beautiful black cherry and raisin flavors. The tannins were as beautiful as the wine.

After drinking this wine, I was so intrigued that I went to the website to find out more about the winemaker. Dave Ramey developed an impressive resume working in the industry prior to opening his winery  with his wife Carla, in 1996. They have a tasting room in Healdsburg, which I will surely have to visit on my next trip to the region.

To learn more about their vineyards, click http://www.rameywine.com/vineyards/

 

Mumm Napa

Sparkling Wine Brut Prestige

Napa Valley

Champagne Classy Enough for a Wedding

A Sparking Wine Classy Enough for a Wedding

I could drink champagne and sparkling wine every single day of my life. I love it that much.  And this sparkling is a staple in my wine captain. A Napa stalwart, it is refreshing and has a creamy brioche finish typically only found in expensive French champagnes. It is medium bodied, with a citrus flavor and the perfect amount of acidity.

Mumm’s sparkling wine is classy enough to serve at a special occasion such as a wedding; yet it won’t break the bank. The complexity will have your guests thinking you spent far more. It’s a perfect food wine that typically retails for around $17.

 

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Wines for Fall

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Warm Weather Wines

Wild Horse Pinot Noir

Wild Horse Pinot Noir

Last week, I opened a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to drink with grilled chicken. I never thought it was possible but I was too hot to drink a glass of wine. I know. Me!  I knew something was terribly wrong.  The brutal southern California heat wave was definitely getting the best of me.

So after recovering from my shock, I decided I would chill this white wine to a temperature of about 45°. I tried another sip after it was chilled and did manage to finish the glass.  But this got me thinking.

Checking the calendar, I saw that fall was arriving and hoped it would bring fall-like temperatures.  The warm weather may return given the shift in climate change, but I envision weather, during the next few months that will have me reaching for more red wines.

Over the past week, I have been on a mission to uncover red wines light enough to enjoy in the early evening as the day’s heat dissipates.  But I also want something elegant that can be enjoyed with a great dinner.  And Cabernet Sauvignon was not an option for two reasons.  First, it’s an obvious choice and kind of a cop out.  Second, it’s still too freaking hot to drink Cab! These three wines for fall were my top choices of the bottles I sampled. And yes, it was arduous!

 

Distinctive Topography

As you probably know, Santa Barbara County vintners make some outstanding wines.  Wild Horse Winery and Vineyards is one of a stars of this region. Their Unbridled Pinot Noir has grapes that were grown in the northernmost part of the appellation, Santa Maria Valley. This part of the Central Coast has a cool climate that sweeps in from an unusual east-west running traverse that brings in ocean breezes. These winds are followed by afternoon coastal fog that lingers throughout the night. This distinctive characteristic helps make for a long growing season, allowing the grapes to ripen slowly, in addition to increasing the hang time on the vine.

This 2012 drinks nicely. The tannins have softened already and the fruit isn’t too jammy given the high 14.5% alcohol by volume (ABV). There were slight floral notes on the nose, as well as black cherry. I tasted ripe cherry and baked plum tart. This wine is worthy as a dinner companion.

 

Two Oceans Converge

 

South African Pinot Noir

2012 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir

The quality of South African wines has improved dramatically. The Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir is an excellent example of the pride and investment that is leading the charge for quality wines throughout the country. Their 2012 Pinot Noir is produced in the Hermel-en-Aarde area, which is part of the Hermanus wine routeClick to see the map of the Hermanus Wine Route  Along the southern tip of Africa, the cold Atlantic Ocean waters converge with the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.  The ocean breezes help to create a perfect environment for growing Pinot Noir, as well as Chardonnay.

The garnet color along with the raspberry and red cherry aromas signal classic Pinot Noir. This bottle is an excellent choice to bring to a dinner party, especially if the hosts are red wine snobs. The reason? It is no typical New World Pinot Noir.

Upon tasting, I got a wonderful earthiness typically found in an aged, red Burgundian. I also tasted dark cherry and raspberry, the usual New World flavors; but there was also cranberry and a hint of spice. Given its youth, this Pinot had unexpected mellowed tannins. It is an age worthy wine with an elegant structure, retailing for $38.  (The price at Vintage Wines in San Diego.)

I was surprised to see the alcohol by volume  (ABV) was a whopping 14% given its production area, along the cool-climate Walker Bay region.  However, the wine did not present any pronounced alcohol heat.

 

Who Wants Italian?
Italian Wines

Indigenous Italian Wines

When you think about wines for fall you have to give a nod to Italian wines, as the two go hand-in-hand.  I am not a huge Italian wine fan but I enjoyed the 2011 Valpolicella Ripasso Monte Vozo.  Located in the Veneto wine region, a ripasso wine is a blend of indigenous grapes Corvina (70%), Rondinella (20%) and Molinara (10%).

The ripasso wine-making process reuses the partially dried grape skins and sediment of Amarone wine.  It then undergoes a secondary fermentation that brings in more flavor, body and structure.

The reason I don’t care for a lot of Italian wines is I find many of them to be ordinary, especially in the lower-end price point. These inexpensive wines usually lack structure and taste like watered down grape juice.  (Of course, I’m not referring to the outstanding Barolo, Montepulciano or Sangiovese wines.) I firmly believe time in the bottle has helped this wine to develop more concentration in flavor.  A bit of age has improved its fruit flavor by adding a bit of depth.

You should treat this wine as you would a rosé, meaning serve it chilled.  Doing so will help bring out more of the almond and dried cherry fruit flavors.

This is a backyard wine to serve as an icebreaker when entertaining friends in the afternoon. It coss around $19. I drank it with various hard and soft cheeses, salamis, dried fruit, and nuts.

 

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The New California Chardonnay

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2011 Raymond Chardonnay

2011 Raymond Chardonnay

2011 Raymond Chardonnay Reserve Selection Napa Valley

For years I’ve been a die-hard ABC wine drinker.  If you don’t know what that means, I’ll explain.  The trend through the 2000’s was for California winemakers to produce oak-forward Chardonnay wines that flew off the shelves, being gobbled up by young wine drinkers and women’s book clubs.  It got to the point where you just couldn’t taste anything but oak and butter.  I absolutely hated California Chardonnay. And I was in good company because someone in my same flavor-profile camp, coined the term, “ABC”, Anything But Chardonnay”.  So whenever I’d go out to happy hour, I’d order Anything But Chardonnay.

 

I Saw the Light

But then, a most wonderful thing happened.  And I’m not even sure when the voice of reason returned but winemakers started showing some restraint and stopped using a heavy hand with the oak aging.  The result was Chardonnay with actual fruit flavors.

I feel like the Grinch on Christmas morning after he realizes the Who’s are still happy.  My heart, well make that my love, for Cali Chardonnay has grown three sizes. So I’m on my literary sleigh riding downhill to spread the word and pass the bottle.

Enjoy a Glass of Chardonnay

Enjoy a Glass of Chardonnay

Now I am on a tear trying California Chardonnay whenever I get a chance.  I’m in search of sensibly oak aged Chard with fruit flavor. That’s exactly what I discovered in this Raymond Chardonnay. Stephanie, the other half of Fine Living Enthusiast is a huge Chardonnay fan.  When I do the wine shopping, (Hey, somebody has to do it.), I try to find her interesting Chardonnays to drink that mainly will be perfect for casual drinking, but also move seamlessly into dinner wine.  I totally scored with this one.  This is a lovely wine.

Pear-tasting Chardonnay
Pear-tasting California Chardonnay
The New California Chardonnay

It has the right amount of oak which gives it a bit of vanilla and nutmeg but totally pleases my palette with delicious fruit. I tasted pear and lemon, reminiscent of a Sauvignon Blanc, but with far more structure and body.  This Raymond Reserve Selection Chardonnay label reads, “Barrels produced 720, Five generations of family winemaking”. Maybe it’s slick marketing but it makes me feel as though this winery takes a lot of pride in their craft. It sure tastes as though they do.

We are talking about a Napa Valley wine that I was able to purchase for $17. I caught a great sale because normally it retails for closer to $22.

“Welcome Back”into my life California Chardonnay.  I missed you and I’m so glad we have renewed our friendship.

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Foley Estates Winery

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2010 Foley Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills

Santa Barbara Lighthouse

Santa Barbara Lighthouse

Foley Estates Vineyard & Winery ranks as one of my top 10 Santa Barbara County wineries.  Why?  Their wines are flat out delicious!  There are three primary reasons.

First, the cool-climate of the Sta. Rita Hills brings in early-morning and late-evening fog.  This occurs through the east-west running traverse, located between the low-lying mountain range.  The ocean air cools down the well-cared-for vines that spend the day soaking up the beautiful and warm California, summer sunshine.

Secondly, Bill Foley instilled a wine-making philosophy centered around Burgundian techniques that focused on the attributes of the individual vineyard.  The Foley team has sub-divided vineyards into 59 micro-blocks that are individually farmed, harvested and vinified.  Lastly, the Sta. Rita Hills AVA has an array of loamy soils derived from marine-based deposits, alluvium and sand.  These factors combine to create an ideal growing region for the Chardonnay grape to thrive.

Barrel Ageing

Barrel Aging

This wine spent 17 months in 40% New French Oak barrels; however it’s not overly oaked.  It also underwent malolactic fermentation, resulting in a Chardonnay that has a soft buttery flavor.  However, anyone can make a buttery, oaky Chardonnay.  What makes this Foley Chard so special is the winemaker’s ability to bring out some great fruit.  I tasted pear and peach, along with tropical grapefruit.

As you’d expect for a Santa Barbara County wine, the alcohol level is high at 14.3% but it is quite balanced. The texture and finish are creamy.  There’s a decent amount of acidity, making it a perfect dinner wine. It also tastes great alone, which for me is a sign of a well-made wine.  Before, during and after dinner, it just drinks well.  With summer produce so prevalent, the tropical fruit flavor and acidity also will pair nicely with vegetarian dishes, including asparagus.

Tropical-tasting Foley Chardonnay

Tropical-tasting Foley Chardonnay

Lorna Kreutz-Duggan took over the reigns as head winemaker this year, after three years as assistant winemaker. She is carrying on the Foley tradition of sustainable farming.

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Gainey Vineyard

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2007 Gainey Riesling Limited Selection Santa Ynez Valley

Gainey Vineyards Riesling

Gainey Vineyards Riesling

I love Thai food and eat it more often of late since I developed a gluten intolerance. Riesling and Thai , as well as other Asian cuisines pair admirably with one another. Although, I was curious about this pairing, an off-dry Riesling eaten with spicy Asian food.

Riesling are wonderful wines and a favorite of many a sommelier. However, I do not enjoy drinking sweet Rieslings without food. As soon as I take my last bite, I’m done with the bottle, regardless if it’s empty or not. But an off-dry is another situation altogether. That’s what made this bottle so alluring.

 

Gainey's Vineyards

Gainey’s Vineyards

Gainey Vineyards, one of my favorite Santa Barbara County wineries makes an awesome expression of a Riesling. The wine was very aromatic, giving off citrus and honeysuckle scents. It had a lovely honey color a rich, buttery taste. The taste was the kind that lingers on your palette long after the sip is finished. I also got grapefruit and a slight perception of sweetness that presented as honey.

Riesling on the VineI purchased this wine in July of 2009 on my annual Santa Barbara glamping trip. I’ve visited the Gainey winery on three separate occasions. The tasting room is well adorned and there are ample opportunities to purchase wine-related souvenirs. The tasting room staff were friendly, knowledgeable and even offered a free bottle water to our Designated Driver, which of course wasn’t me.

I’m impressed this Riesling aged as nicely as it did. I think that speaks to the care Gainey takes the vineyard, as well as  to the stellar wine-making techniques.

Gainey Vineyard is located near the intersection of highways 246 & 154 so it can be your first or second stop on a tour of the Santa Ynez Valley. The tasting fee is very reasonable at $10, which includes a free souvenir glass.

 

 

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Zinfandel – The California Immigrant

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Zinfandel – Deep Roots, Old Vines

Old Vine Zinfandel

Some Old Vines Date Back pre-1880s

Do you drink Zinfandel? I’m referring to the red wine not the white. Please don’t get me started talking about that white crap.

The “real” Zinfandel is a wonderful, medium-to-full-bodied wine. It ranges from raspberry and mocha to spicy and luscious, black fruit. This grape variety has become synonymous with California. Zinfandel is the third-leading wine produced in California.

Frequently, you’ll see Zinfandel labeled as “old vine”.  Some of the oldest vines are located in Amador County and Sonoma.  Lodi has vines that date back pre-1880’s. There is no legal definition on what constitutes “old”.  However, vintners have come to an unofficial definition of ‘vines that are older than 50 years’.

Lodi producers are responsible for more than 40% of all California Zinfandel.  But the variety, also does quite well in Sonoma, Napa Valley and Paso Robles.

Croatia is the Ancestral Home of Zinfandel

Croatia is the Ancestral Home of Zinfandel

Although Zinfandel thrives in California, it is not native to the region. There may be some debate about the ancestral home of the Zinfandel grape, but the name is all-American. Through DNA testing, historians have determined, with a high degree of certainty that Zinfandel immigrated here from Croatia. However, there it is referred to as Crljenak Kastelanski. If you see a wine bottle labeled as Primitivo, it’s the same variety but it hails from Italy.

Here are a few top Zinfandel producers:

Robert Biale Vineyards – Typically makes big, red fruit wine with a burst of cherry jam. Although the wines have high-alcohol levels, the finish lacks that awful burn. $50

Bogle Winery – Old Vine Zinfandel-This inexpensive wine will become a staple in your household. It packs a bold, raspberry fruit flavor and a balanced punch of spice. The $10 price makes it perfect for easy, summertime barbeques.

Cline Cellars –Makes several Zinfandel wines including their Big Break Zin.  With a $32 price point, it’s worthy as a special-occasion bottle or a weekend dinner with friends.  Nearby San Pablo Bay cools the grapes, locking in the juice and sugars.

Cline Tasting Room

Cline Cellars’ Tasting Room

So when you are drinking your next glass of Zinfandel, maybe you’ll think back to the growers and pickers of yesteryear.  They helped make this wine and those vines some darn good juice that just screams California.

 

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Santa Barbara Wine Country

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2006 Blackjack Ranch Allusion, Santa Barbara County

Solvang, near heart of Santa Barbara Wine Country

Solvang, near heart of Santa Barbara Wine Country

For the past six years, I’ve taken a trip with friends up to Santa Barbara Wine Country. It’s a very peaceful wine vacation. I enjoy other wine regions, including the ones north of San Francisco. Sonoma County has a laid-back atmosphere and the crowds aren’t out of control. Napa, on the other hand is so popular that the Silverado Trail is so crowded during the summer that you’d be better off walking from winery to winery. Santa Barbara is still so chill, similar to other beach towns that dot the Southern California coastline.

We visited Blackjack Ranch Vineyards & Winery during the Summer of 2012.  Blackjack is located in the Santa Ynez Valley, north of the town of Solvang.  It was one of the wineries featured in the movie, Sideways. I hated that movie so much that I almost didn’t agree to go there with my group of travel companions. But, I’m glad I kept an open mind. Not only is the wine awesome, the winery grounds are beautiful.

Blackjack Ranch Winery in Santa Barbara Wine Country

Blackjack Ranch Winery in Santa Barbara Wine Country

The tasting room is constructed of recycled materials that were salvaged from a building that previously stood on the land. It’s rustic but certainly not a dump. I spent a lot of time wandering the grounds, which were less rustic, more HGTV.  The vineyards range from flat to Billy-goat accessible hillsides.

Blackjack's Billy Goat Vineyard

Blackjack’s Billy Goat Vineyard

The server insisted we try Allusion.  Again, by being agreeable I scored a taste of the most richly flavored wine of the day.  It’s a Bordeaux-blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. I paid $30 for this 2006.  Currently, later vintages are running about $35.

I opened my bottle last night. When I sniffed, the herbal nose excitesmy olfactory senses, readying you for the greatness to come.  With that first sip, I get sweet tobacco.  This wine is velvety with not too much fruit.  The fruit tastes of mellow blueberry but without being  jammy.  As I go back for one more sip and another, that’s when I taste the depth of this wine.  Then, the bell pepper from the Cab Franc comes out to play with your taste buds.  It’s special.

 

Map Santa Barbara Topograpghy

Santa Barbara Wine Country Benefits from Ocean Breezes

The winery is located in the Central Coast AVA begins just south of San Francisco Bay down to Santa Barbara, then extends east to the Central Valley.  If you look at a map of California, you’ll notice a swath of land mass jutting west, just north of Los Angeles. Also, you’ll see a mountain range that runs east/west.  As a result of this zig-zag orientation, the vineyards of Santa Barbara County are blessed with breezes off the Pacific Ocean.

The Blackjack Ranch name was devised by owner Roger Wisted.  Roger invented a card game called California Blackjack.  Since gaming was illegal, he had a work around the law by changing the game up a bit.  In his version,  players used two aces, called a “Natural”.  So, technically that made the game “22”, not “21”.  Six years later, Roger took part of this gaming fortune and poured it into the ranch.  In 1997, the winery’s first vintage was produced.

Blackjack Ranch Winery Grounds

Blackjack Ranch Winery Grounds

 

 

 

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