Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for the 'Corkheads' Category

C.G. Di Arie 2007 Barbera: Tart berry goodness

Once again Chaim Gur-Arieh achieves balance when it comes to the fully extracted wines of the Sierra Foothills. This may be my favorite wine of his yet because it does justice to the genetics of this Italian grape and food wine.

Barbera, the most widely planted grape in the Piemonte region, is known for its tart cranberry and pomegranate flavors and balanced acidity. Gur-Arieh’s version is true to that but with the richer blackberry flavors that can only come from the longer hang time under the strong California sun. 

The wine ($24) was aged in French and American oak barrels for 10 months and has 13 percent Zinfandel and 8 percent Primitivo blended in, I’m guessing, for color, structure, and complexity. They made 900 cases of this wine, and you can order it on the C.G. Di Arie winery website.

Posted on Friday, July 9th, 2010
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Yes, semillon: 2008 Roquefort Bordeaux Blanc

Chateau Roquefort

I recently tasted my way through Walla Walla, Washington, and was surprised to see so many single varietal bottlings of Semillon. Not sure it works for me that way. It’s almost too woodsy on its own.

In France, the white Bordeaux babe is almost always blended with Sauvignon Blanc. The exception is when Semillon is bortrytis-ed into the world’s most coveted wine, Sauternes.

Most California producers of Semillon blend it too. I think the almost figgy character of the grape does wonders to balance Sauvignon Blanc’s zippy, acerbic personality.

Recent proof: the 2008 Roquefort Bordeaux Blanc. The wine is delicious, especially for the price (I’ve seen it for $11-$13). It’s bright, with a delightful apple-pear core and a boat load of acidity.

I’ve enjoyed it over the past three nights with everything from seafood red curry to grilled peppers.

Posted on Thursday, July 8th, 2010
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JC Cellars Summer Beach party: Get your wine ice cream cones

Jeff Cohn

Winery open houses come and go. For locals, there are some you can’t miss. JC Cellars’ annual summer beach party is one. Owners Alexandra and Jeff Cohn (make that Alexandra and her two daughters, they do all the work) transform the urban winery into a chilled out day at the beach.

There are Hawaiian shirts. There are flip flops. There is usually some form of live music not to mention a petanque court.

In addition to 15 new and current wines, you have the opportunity to chow on as many Tuckers’ JC Cellars Syrah and chocolate chip ice cream cones as you can. I’m talking Kobayashi style. There will also be appetizers from Roli Roti, a traveling rotisserie cart. Seriously grubby.

You’ll most definitely have an opportunity to chat up Jeff, the winemaker, and meet some of the growers from whom he sources some of the state’s best fruit. Are you dying for the deets yet? The event takes place this Saturday, July 10, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the winery, 55 4th St., Oakland. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door, and $15 for designated drivers. Wine club members automatically receive $5 off of their admission and other perks. I bet you’re wondering what those are…

Posted on Wednesday, July 7th, 2010
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Wine 4 thru who knows! WBC live blogging continues

2009 Mollydooker The Velvet Glove. Reasonably priced at $180 and scored as high as 99 points by Robert Parker, this is a pinnacle Shiraz. It’s a sexy powerhouse of velvety chocolate covered raspberries plus coffee and tar. Man, 15.5% alc!

2007 Trio Vintners Riot Red Table Wine. Yakima/Columbia blend o’ sangio, syrah, mourvedre w/ sniff of sweat? Decent balance. Good name. $18. Small production – 840 cases. Hope to expand to 1000.

Ponzi Cellars 2008 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir: Bit of sulfur dioxide. Tough to get around but beneath the fizz I sense notes of earth and cranberries. Sustainable. $35.

Stoller 2007 JV Pinot Noir. $25 Oregon pinot noir under screw cap. Merde! Jory Dundee soils. In. Love. Two year bottle age explains complexity. Well done, Dan Friedman!

2008 Stepping Stone Napa Valley Cabernet Franc. Acidity is a flavor and tannin is a feeling, says winemaker Craig Camp. Yes! This wine’s tannins hit you at the last minute – but they still hit you. Herbal and floral aromas and flavors$30.

Long Shadows Sequel 2007 Columbia Valley Syrah. Big gulp o sex. Aussie syrah w/ Wash fruit and French boss. Frackin’ smooth. Awesome.

Solena Estate 2008 Pinot Noir Hyland. True beaut. Jory minerals. Too high alc for Oregon pinot but fairly well integrated. Young. $50.  1971 vines. Old by Oregon standards. @solenaestate.

2007 Concannon Conservancy Petit Sirah. Livermore! Prune and molasses nose. Big tannins. Tastes like black plums. Lots o’ history here. $15.

Posted on Saturday, June 26th, 2010
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Wine Bloggers Conference Live Wine Blogging: Reds

Here we are, day two of the Wine Bloggers Conference at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in downtown Walla Walla, Washington. This wine region is home to 150 wineries and we’re about to start the live wine blogging session for the red wines.

First up: 2008 Don Sebastiani & Sons The Crusher Petit Sirah. Almost creamy on the palate, it’s so viscous. I get toffee like flavors behind the smashed blackberries and blueberries. Surprisingly smooth tannins and “only” 13.5% alcohol. Well done. $12.

Wine 2: 2008 Desert Wind Ruah. Means “wind” in Hebrew. Soft, chewy cherry pie and cinnamon blend of merlot, cab sauv, cab franc. @desertwindwine. $20.

Wine 3: Duck Pond Cellars 2008 Red Blend. Silky suede dark fruit. Smooth tannins. Wahluke Slope. Hottest part of Columbia Valley but doesn’t feel like dragon breathe alcohol.@duckpondcellars. $15

Posted on Saturday, June 26th, 2010
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Live Wine Blogging white wines continued!

Wine 9: Desert Wind 2009 Viognier. From Washington’s Wahluke Slope. Aromas of honeysuckle with lemon and lime flavors. Pale straw. $15? Worth it.

Wine 10: 2009 Poet’s Leap Riesling. Omigod, this is it. This is the white wine for me. Not the strongest aroma, but they get lacy gorgeous acidity and truth in flavor by picking the grapes at around 20 brix. Impressive. $20.

Wine 11: 2009 Big House White Octavin. Light gold, honeysuckle aroma, lychee flavors, fab acidity. $22 for 3 liters. Great value. #WBC10.

Wine 12: 2008 Maryhill Winery Viognier. Stainless steel fermented with a touch of oak. Peaches and cream with good acidity for a viognier (which are typically flabby. $12.

Posted on Friday, June 25th, 2010
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Wine Bloggers Conference Live Tasting Continued!

Did I mention that the indication that we need to continue to the next wine (or date, heehee) is a cowbell? Bring it.

Wine 4: L’Ecole No. 41 2008 Semillon. From one of Walla Walla’s oldest family wineries comes this wine, which Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker have both called America’s best Semillon. What do I think? Aromas and flavors of melon, stone and mineral. Almost a creamy finish w/out oak. $15? Yes please!

Wine 5: Parducci 2008 Sustainable White. In 2007, Whole Foods asked Parducci, a sustainable winery in Mendocino, to make a white wine for them. This is the result, now available everywhere. A blend of chenin blanc, muscat cannelli, sauvignon blanc and viognier, it has aromas of white flowers, excellent acid and white peach flavors. Love. $10.99!!

Wine 6: 2009 Pithy Little Wine Co Sangiovese Rose. From a small San Luis Obispo garagiste producer comes this rose with aromas of strawberries and whipped cream, watermelon flavors, and a touch of woody heat (though that could be that the wine is not chilled). If it was chilled I would drink it with everything, everyday. $22?

Wine 7: Ortman Family Wines 2007 Chardonnay. Edna Valley, caramel apples, unctuous, and passion fruit aromas/flavors. Too much oak for me. $24.

Posted on Friday, June 25th, 2010
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Live Wine Blogging at WBC 2010: White Wines

So, here’s the deal, folks. I’m at the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference and they’re having us speed date with wines, kind of. We’re seated at tables of 8 and wineries come over and pour a white wine for us (tomorrow is reds).

We have five minutes -five – to evaluate the wine and write our impressions in a stream of consciousness format. You can also follow me taste through these wines via Twitter @swirlgirl_jy.

Wine 1: Molly Dooker The Violinist 2009 Verdelho. Citrus notes with a bit much oak. Could use a little more acidity. $25? Too high for me.

Wine 2: 2008 House Wine. Blend led by Chardonnay. Light gold, floral aroma (thanks to Muscat) caramelized stone fruits. $13? Yes.

Wine 3: Dry Creek Vineyards 2009 Dry Chenin Blanc. Light straw, pineapple aromas, guava flavors, good acid. Not complex, worth $12. WBC#10

Posted on Friday, June 25th, 2010
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5 things I learned at the Next Gen Millennial Wine Competition

Blue wine

1. Blue wine, made from the blue agave plant commonly used in tequila, is gross unless it’s served over ice. Then it tastes like fancy melted Slurpee.

2. Barefoot Wine & Bubbly is good. Even great. Judged blind, a Barefoot dessert wine finished Best of Show out of 700 wines entered into the competition. Another Barefoot wine, a sparkling rose, finished Best of Class.

3. Get your wine on, Los Angeles. Second Glass, the Wine 2.0 site with the bad ass educational events, is coming your way.

4. Contrary to popular judging technique, I think roast beef kind of messes up my palate when tasting through dozens of reds. Graber olives on the other hand? Keep those coming.

5. Get your hands on some Gundlach Bundschu Tempranillo Rose. I don’t care what you have to do. It was another Best of Class wine, and it is summer in a bottle. They made 292 cases of this wine and you owe it to yourself to try it.

Posted on Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
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Stephane Derenoncourt’s 2006 California wines are beauties

Stephane Derenoncourt, the Bordeaux superstar who consults for dozens of wineries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, has released his own wines made from grapes grown in California.

I had been holding on to these wines, waiting to open them for just the right meal. Last night, alongside a maple-and-balsamic glazed pork chop, I popped open the 2006 Syrah from the Hudson Vineyard in Carneros. Derenoncourt also makes a Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot from the Stagecoach Vineyard on Atlas Peak.

According to a February post on, Derenoncourt’s intention was to  make California-style wines with an emphasis on freshness and elegance. You won’t find heat or high sugar on these wines.

The Syrah was a beauty. On the nose, it had subtle aromas of bacon fat and leather in harmony with black fruit and spice. The flavors are similar. I also got some white pepper on the finish, which is silky, long, and lacks that bite of big tannins we often get when tossing back a Cali syrah. Definitely a fresh and vibrant take on the wine. I loved it and really look forward to tasting his other California wines.

Posted on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
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