Weekend Wine Notes: Nine Robust Reds for Superbowl Snacks


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Oh, sure, you’re thinking, “Hey, F.K., this is America! We drink beer when we watch the Super Bowl!” All right, I understand the issues involved, but even when you’re talking about barbecue nachos, baby-back ribs, Sloppy Joes, prime rib sliders, even certain varieties of chili and quesadillas, a large-framed, robust wine can be as appropriate as beer, though, I confess, not with super-spicy food laced with serranos and such. Anyway, following that premise, I offer nine examples of the sorts of wine you could serve this Sunday while watching two teams neither of which apparently deserve to be there contending on the gridiron of valor. Prices range from a comfortable $14 and $18, good for supplying bottles to crowds of football fans, up to $60. As usual with these Weekend Wine Notes I deliver no elements of technical, geographical or historical data for the sake of quick, …

Wine of the Day, No. 460


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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So, what do you want in a chardonnay wine made in California? Lushness, oak, spice and tropical flavors? Or spareness, elegance and minerality? Somehow the Eberle Winery Estate Chardonnay 2017, Paso Robles, manages to meld all those qualities into a perfectly integrated whole that should gratify adherents of either mode. Half the wine is made in stainless steel tanks, the other half in French oak, 25 percent new barrels. The color is bright medium gold; classic notes of pineapple and grapefruit are permeated by hints of cloves and jasmine, with touches of smoke and quince preserves; the balance between a moderately dense texture and lithe, lively energy provides not just pleasure but a kind of thrill on the palate. This chardonnay is dry but juicy and flavorful, all elements accruing to a burgeoning limestone quality through the finish. 14.5 percent alcohol. Production was 2,797 cases; the winery should make …

Weekend Wine Notes: 12 Wines, A Miscellany


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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For today’s Weekend Wine Notes, I offer a diverse group of 12 wines — six white, six red — arranged according to ascending price within each color, the range altogether being $11 to $32, so nothing to make the credit card groan. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s something here for every taste and palate, including some unusual selections; we (mostly) aim to please at BTYH. As usual with the Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew technical, historical and geographical data — much as we might dote on those details — for the sake of quick, incisive reviews, ripped, as it were, from the pages of my notebooks and intended to pique your interest and whet your palate. Enjoy — in moderation, of course.

These wines were samples for review, as I am required to inform My Readers by authority of the Federal Trade Commission.
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Marco Felluga “Montgris” Riserva Pinot …

Nine Savory White Wines, Because Autumn Is Not All about Reds


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Let’s say that for dinner you’re having cod stew with leeks, potatoes and chorizo or a spicy shrimp risotto or grilled swordfish with a black pepper crust. This is not the time for a delicate, winsome little white wine and probably not even a lighter red, It’s the time for a savory white wine, earthy, bracing, saline. These are especially appropriate for these chilly Fall weeks that lead into Winter. Herein, I offer nine examples of such savory white wines, not really accommodating as aperitif quaffs, because of their assertive personalities, but certainly amenable for heartier fish and seafood dishes. Enjoy!
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The Apaltagua Reserva Pinot Gris 2017, San Antonio Valley, Chile, displays a pale straw-gold color and seductive aromas of mango and begonia, with notes of green olive and preserved lemon and a background of limestone and flint; the wine is quite lively and alluring on the palate, supple …

Wine of the Day, No. 444


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Winemaker Sherman Thacher displays a deft hand in deploying oak for his Thacher Vineyard “Working Holiday” 2016, a Rhone-style red blend from the Geneseo District of the Paso Robles AVA. The percentages of grapes are 47 grenache, 30 syrah and 23 mourvèdre, with the applicable oak of different sizes, all neutral, being old diverse barrels for the grenache; barriques for the syrah; and puncheons for the mourvedre; a puncheon typically holds 500 liters (132 gallons). The result is a red wine of lovely purity and intensity, with a lean, lithe texture animated by dynamic acidity. The color is transparent medium ruby; aromas of ripe black and red cherries and raspberries gain depth in touches of loam and oolong tea, dried rosemary, mint and dusty flint. The wine is quite dry, precise and chiseled on the palate, lively and appealing; the red and black berry flavors open to notes of plums …

#MerlotMe In The Kitchen: A #WinePW Special


This post is by Jill Barth from L'OCCASION


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wines for fall, Sonoma wine, Napa wine
#MerlotMe wines from California — an October celebration. Photo Credit: Jill Barth

Many years ago I walked into a wine store and the clerk approached me with a question: “What’s your favorite wine?” Hmmm.

It’s an honest question, but anyone who has tasted as much wine as I have will never be able to provide an answer. Another version of the inquiry sounds like this, “What sort of wine varieties do you like best?”

Same hesitation, on my part. Even a single variety can present itself as endless. Perhaps none more so than merlot, which thrives in France, Italy, Chile, the United States and Australia. Simplified, merlot provides silky tannins and red or dark fruit — it’s complex and depended upon in blends but can fashion a staid single varietal wine. I’ve found that versatility on the table is a characteristic that is often overlooked.

To prove that …

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A Pair of Iconic Cab Producers and a Sonoma linked Champagne


This post is by Todd Godbout from WineCompass


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2012 Alexander Valley Jordan Vineyard & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon (750ml $72; 1.5l $199)
Jordan Vineyard & Winery has been an iconic producer of Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon since practically its first release in 1976.  Their estate is located in the Alexander Valley AVA – just north of Healdsburg – which is the largest wine region in the county. The AVAs boundaries have changed slightly over the years but the the original border extended from the banks of the Russian River eastward to the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains and is sheltered by the moderating influences of the Pacific.  This means the day times are dry and hot whereas the colder night temperatures create a large diurnal temperature swing leading to slowly maturing grapes and intense acids. The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon contains 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot; and 2% Malbec from the Jordan estate and …

Caliza Winery, Where the Rhône Flows in Paso Robles


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Caliza Winery — the word is Spanish for “limestone” — was founded in Paso Robles by Pam and Carl Bowker in 2008; at least that’s when the doors of the tasting room opened, a convenient point from which to count. The couple purchased their first property in 2003, more land, now the home of the vineyard and tasting room, in 2004, and planted that vineyard in 2006. That’s how quickly things can happen when a couple of crazy kids have a dream. Carl Bowker is winemaker, and his focus is primarily on Rhône grapes and the blends that can be made from them. Bowker is not afraid of power in his wines nor of alcohol; the two reds reviewed here sport 15.5 and 15.7 percent alcohol yet manage to keep a steady hand at the helm. These reds derive from the Paso Robles Willow Creek District AVA, one …

Weekend Wine Notes: A Passel of Rosés


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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There was a time when a retail store’s stock of rosé wines amounted to a dusty bottle of Tavel five vintages out-of-date. Now so many producers around the world are making rosés that some stores devote a whole section to them. The choices are dazzling. I’m not saying that rosé wine is the new pinot grigio, but matters are getting a little out of hand. Fortunately, I am here to winnow the chaff from the wheat, so today, in the format of Weekend Wine Notes, I offer 10 rosés that vary from being simply and deliciously drinkable to surprisingly complex as well as deliciously drinkable. We’re all over the map, with excursions to various regions of California, to the South of France, from Oregon’s Willamette Valley to the state of Virginia. As usual in the Weekend Wines Notes, I offer quick, incisive reviews designed to pique your interest and whet …

Wine of the Day, No. 395


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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San Antonio Winery is the only winery in the city of Los Angeles. It occupies the same building in which it was founded, in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, in 1917, by Italian immigrant Santo Cambianica. Prohibition came two years later, and Cambianica switched to making communion wine and selling grapes to home winemakers. After Repeal, the winery went back to producing table wines. The winery was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark in 1966. The family owns vineyards in Monterey County and Napa Valley and recently expanded into Paso Robles, the origin of the San Simeon Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, a robust cabernet with 5 percent petit verdot that aged 24 months in French and American oak barrels. The color is very dark ruby-purple with a lighter magenta rim; it’s a ripe, spicy and macerated wine that doesn’t tip over into exaggeration, though its heady aromas of black currants and plums …

Wine of the Day, No. 378


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Well, this is just beautiful. The Halter Ranch Vineyard Grenache Blanc 2015, from the Adelaida District of Paso Robles, was made from sustainably farmed grapes, fermented and aged four months in a combination of new Hungarian 500-liter puncheons and neutral French oak barrels. (For comparison, 500 liters equals 132 gallons; a standard French barrique holds about 59 gallons.) The wine is a blend of 80 percent grenache blanc, 14 percent picpoul, 4 percent roussanne and 2 percent viognier. A wine of crystalline clarity and intensity, it offers a very pale straw-gold hue and piercing aromas of roasted lemon and baked pear, jasmine and honeysuckle, honeydew melon, verbena and lemongrass; a few moments in the glass bring in notes of dried thyme, heather and lilac. Yes, it’s truly floral, but more with tantalizing nuance than anything blatant or overpowering. Shimmering acidity cuts through a talc-like texture, so the wine has …

#UnexpectedPaso Delivers Delicious Whites from Paso Robles


This post is by Todd Godbout from WineCompass


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I’ve learned over the years that Paso Robles is not only the 3rd largest wine region in California but one of the most diverse. Red wine is king with Cabernet Sauvignon accounting for almost 40% of overall grape harvests. That grape and other red Bordeaux grapes are promoted through the Paso Robles CAB Collective. Syrah and Zinfandel are also major players in the region as is the Other Red category which consists of Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Petit Verdot. As for white wine grapes, Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape at 5%, followed by Other Whites also at 5% and Sauvignon Blanc at 2%.  To help promote these lesser known white wines, the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance initiated the #UnexpectedPaso Twitter tasting sending several white and rosé wines to various wine bloggers. After I receive wine from these tastings I usually pass the leftovers …

Wine of the Day, No. 241


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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I love the white wines of the southern Rhone Valley, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I love the white grapes of that region — 05_55071_TAB_white_blend_15E8_750W_TTB_cropgrenache blanc, viognier, roussanne and marsanne — because they can be made into beautiful wines in other parts of the world. An example is the Tablas Creek Vineyard Patelin de Tablas Blanc 2015, a blend of 56 percent grenache blanc, 23 percent viognier, 12 roussanne and 9 marsanne, nurtured in Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County. Made all in stainless steel and fermented by native yeasts, this organically fashioned wine features a light, bright straw-gold hue and enticing aromas of honeyed peaches and golden plums, jasmine and gardenia, lemongrass, green tea and white pepper. These elements segue seamlessly onto the palate, where the wine is sleek and supple, spare and graceful, offering a lovely talc-like texture riven by vivid acidity; it’s quite dry …

A Delicious Flight of Cabernet Franc: Leah Jorgensen Cellars, Dracaena Wines, and Ehlers Estate


This post is by Dezel Quillen from My Vine Spot


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Hello Friends,

Just about every day, as wine o’clock approaches, you can find me uncorking or unscrewing a new wine adventure. Being a wine enthusiast, a wine writer, and someone who appreciates the liquid expression of place, a person’s vision, and Mother Nature’s influence, I find wine to be one of the most intriguing beverages out there. It is an area of interest where you never run out of great people to meet and new things to taste and learn.

The wines selected for this post are rock-solid, small-production Cabernet Francs from the west coast. Cabernet Franc, along with Sauvignon Blanc, are the genetic parents of Cabernet Sauvignon. I know this seems unlikely on the surface, but they really did manage to produce the beloved variety many hail as the undisputed King of Reds. On the west coast, however, Cabernet Franc is generally made in a somewhat riper, more generous …

30 Great Wine Bargains of 2016


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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So, My Readers, here is my annual list of the Great Wine Bargains from the previous year, except that, instead of offering you 25 examples, as I usually do, I provide 30, because there are so many excellent inexpensive wines available. The prices here range from $11 to $20. and while I realize that for some people even $18 to $20 stretches what they want to pay for a bottle of wine, I believe that you will find something on this roster fit for most every taste and pocket book. This is a gratifyingly diverse group of wines, and for the first time I welcome products from Brazil, Greece and Hungary to the line-up. Many of these examples are wines to buy by the case and keep around for a year for drinking daily, though, honestly, the point of most of these wines is not to make old bones. The …

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Justin Vineyards & Winery Donates to Local Organizations


This post is by Kathy from Wine Trail Traveler LLC


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Isoceles Reserve Wine

Isosceles Reserve Wine

This year while visiting wineries in Paso Robles, our itinerary included a stop at Justin Vineyards & Winery. It is a large winery and vineyard in San Luis Obispo County.

Justin Vineyards & Winery recently made news when it was announced that the winery’s Justin Community Grants program has provided $5,000 grants to 20 local organizations. A wide range of community organizations benefited from the generosity of Justin’s program.

Below is a list of the organizations that benefited this year from Justin Vineyards & Winery’s donations.

• Adelaida Historical Foundation

• Boys and Girls Club of North SLO County
• CASA San Luis Obispo County
• El Camino Homeless Organization
• Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County
• Jack’s Helping Hand
• NCI Affiliates Inc.
• One Cool Earth
• Paso Robles Department of Emergency Services
• Paso Robles Library Foundation
• Paso Robles Main …

Wine barrel caves at Justin

Weekend Wine Notes: 10 Worthy Reds, $12 to $20


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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So, today I offer 10 red wines worthy of your attention and use with the hearty fare we prepare during cooler weather, if this country ever gets cooler weather. We’re running 10 to 15 degrees above normal in this neck o’ the woods. Anyway, these wines represent California; Italy’s Piedmont region; Australia’s McLaren Vale; and three sections of Spain, all featuring the tempranillo grape. The grapes and blends of grapes involved are equally diverse. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew the technical, geographical and historical I tend to dote upon for the sake of quick and incisive reviews designed to pique your interest and whet your palate. Enjoy, in moderation, of course. These wines were samples for review.
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Angeline Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir 2015, Mendocino County 80%, Sonoma County 20%.13.9% alc. Transparent angelinemedium ruby shading to an ethereal rim; rose petals and sandalwood, pomegranate …

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Low Alcohol? B*tch, Please! (Perspectives On Paso Robles For Palate Press)


This post is by 1WineDude from 1 Wine Dude


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Mr Rogers finger

Last week, Palate Press published my take on the current state of the Paso Robles wine scene (based on a recent media tour of the region), titled Paso Robles: Sorry, not sorry.

That title seemed more publication-appropriate than “Bitch, please!” or “I heard what you said, I just don’t give a f*ck.”

You see, a funny thing happened on the way to producing the fine wines with lower alcohol levels that are supposed to represent the changing tastes and preferences of the American consumer: Paso Robles largely stopped giving a sh*t.

Palate Press Paso 2016

image: Palate Press

By largely ignoring said trend and focusing on what the region naturally provides, Paso Robles’ finest are arguably making some of their best wines yet, to the benefit of those who favor big, bold, but ultimately well-balanced vino.

Check out the full story for the details; below are the wines highlighted in the piece …