Wine of the Week: Broken Arrow Wine Co. White Blend, North Coast

This wine is SOLD OUT, but available by the case if you special order – just email orders@winelandia.com. Thanks for the interest!

It’s been a little while since we’ve featured a Wine of the Week, and we are coming out of the gates with one of our favorites yet! This white blend is from winemaker Aran Healy, a San Francisco resident, winemaking consultant, and Potrero Hill wine shop owner. His Broken Arrow wines are totally under the radar, mostly found in his shop and at local restaurants.

This white blend is mostly Rhone varieties from the North Coast AVA, including 50% Roussanne, 30% Viognier, 15% Vermentino, and 5% Picpoul. It’s rich and full of Rhone-y texture that’s perfect for heartier fare, while still having enough acidity to pair well with sunshine or seafood. The screw-cap closure gives you easy access, which makes this wine a no-brainer for a late summer picnic. It’s hard to find a white wine with so much stuffing at this price point, so pick some up today!

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Blend: 50% Roussanne, 30% Viognier, 15% Vermentino, 5% Picpoul
Region: California>North Coast
Vineyard: Various sites, sustainably farmed.
Tasting Notes: If there was ever a perfect everyday white wine, this would be it. It finds harmony between voluptuous and bright, offering loads of texture and body while having plenty of freshness and acidity. Honeysuckle, stone fruit, and mineral are at the forefront of this luscious white wine, which makes it great to pair with a variety of foods.
Food Pairing: Pan-roasted halibut, roasted root vegetable salad, cheese plates
Production Notes: Hand-harvested fruit. Bottled with 10ppm SO2.
Winemaker: Aran Healy
Bio: A native of Mendocino county and current resident of San Franisco, Healy dabbles in many areas of the wine business. A former assistant winemaker at Beauregard Winery, he is currently a winemaking consultant, winemaker, French bulldog caretaker, and owner of a little wine shop in Potrero Hill called Ruby Wine. Aran is a well-rounded wine professional with a passion for natural wine. Broken Arrow is his own label geared towards well-balanced, responsibly made wines at everyday prices.

Go Wine Tasting in the Bay Area – Six Urban Wineries


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Ever want to go wine tasting, but the idea of driving all the way up to wine country put the squash on your desire? Perhaps you’re without a car, and want to enjoy the spoils of artisan wine from the comfort of your own city? You’re in luck, because there are quite a few “urban wineries” all over the Bay Area. Whether you’re in the East Bay or San Francisco, there’s a winery for you. Here’s a list of our favorites!

Campovida
95 Linden Street
Oakland, CA 94607
510-550-7273
Campovida has a new urban winery in Oakland, opened just last year. They produce several Rhone varietal wines from their organic estate vineyards in Hopland, CA. The new tasting room is located near Jack London Square, and it’s a beautiful space. If you are doing the urban winery circuit in Oakland, be sure to pay them a visit. Open Tues-Fri 4:30pm-9:30pm and Sat-Sun 12:00pm-9:30pm. $10 tasting fee for 6 wines, waived with the purchase of a bottle.

Treasure Island Wines
995 9th Street
Bldg. 201
San Francisco, CA 94130
415-394-9463
There are a few wineries on Treasure Island these days, but Treasure Island Wines is by far my favorite. It’s a co-op space used by several winemakers that all share a facility and resources. Come by this winery on a Saturday or Sunday to taste through a collection of wines produced in their facility. This is an excellent value since they will often pour through everything they have open. Open Saturdays and some Sundays from 1pm to 5pm. $5 tasting fee refunded with purchase.

Bluxome Street Winery
53 Bluxome Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
415-543-5353
Bluxome Street Winery is a lovely winery and event space located in the SoMa neighborhood of San Francisco. It’s a fairly new facility but they make some tasty wines (mostly from the Russian River Valley AVA) and are open during the week. So, if you work in SoMa and are looking for a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, this is a great place to stop by and do a quick tasting at (or enjoy a whole glass of wine). They sometimes have a food truck parked outside. Open 12pm-7pm Tuesday thru Sunday. Tasting flights are $10-$15 and full glasses are $6-$15.

Donkey & Goat
1340 5th Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
510-868-9174
Jared and Tracy Brandt are the proprietors of Donkey and Goat. Their wines are super-natural and made with Rhone varietals, Chardonnay & Pinot Noir. Donkey & Goat produces soulful and unapologetically honest wines, paving the way for many natural winemakers in California. The tasting room is located near the fancy shops at 4th Street in Berkeley and you shouldn’t miss this if you are in the area. Tasting room is open from 2pm-6pm, Friday through Sunday. Tasting fee is $10 and waived with a purchase.

Broc Cellars
1300 5th Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
510-542-9463
Chris Brockway is the mastermind behind this great project, whose winery is located just a half a block away from Donkey & Goat. Brockway produces wines with a natural slant at a reasonable price point, mostly from lesser-known varieties. Stop by Broc Cellars if you are in the area and be sure to also visit Donkey & Goat while you’re there. Open Saturday & Sunday from 1pm-5pm. $5 tasting fee waived with purchase.

Dasche Cellars
55 4th Street
Oakland, CA 94607
510-452-1800
Dasche Cellars is located right by Jack London Square and produces some really outstanding Zinfandel. I am particularly fond of their native yeast Zinfandels, which are both delicious and affordable. These wines are made in a more old-world style with older French oak barrels, low SO2 levels, and without fining or filtering. They also produce a rosé, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon & Petite Sirah. Open Thursday thru Sunday from 12pm to 5pm in the winter, and until 6pm in the summer. Tasting fee is $10 and refunded with a purchase.

Wine of the Week: Two Shepherds Grenache Gris Rosé

This wine is SOLD OUT. Thanks for the interest!

There’s no question about it – two of the things I love most in life are rosé wine and weird grapes. Make a rosé wine out of a weird grape and chances are I will love it. This week’s Wine of the Week is a rosé from one of our favorite producers, Two Shepherds. Not only is it a fantastic wine, but it’s made from the noteworthy weird grape Grenache Gris – a grape that is genetically identical to Grenache Noir, but mutated so that the skins of the grapes are pinkish-gray.

This is a true old-vine wine, as the grapes are produced by 100 year old grapevines up in Mendocino County. It’s a very special and historic vineyard called Gibson Ranch, where these very old vines are dry-farmed (not irrigated) and head trained. The grapes were harvested in mid-September of 2013 and left to soak on the skins for 7 days prior to fermentation. This process allowed the wine to extract a ton of texture and complexity, which produced a rosé wine that is not just thirst-quenching and delicious, but also rich and nuanced.

There were only 33 cases of this delicious rosé produced, so she’s a rare bird indeed. Quantities are extremely limited, so get yours before it’s gone!

Two Shepherds 2013 Grenache Gris Rosé

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Winemaker: William Allen

Bio: With a name like Two Shepherds, you’re probably surprised to find out that William Allen is a one-­man show. Allen is a longtime wine industry professional, and garagiste (home winemaker,) who decided to start a professional winery with an emphasis on Rhone varietals. His first release was only in 2010, but he’s called on many of the great low­intervention winemakers in California for advice, and it shows in his wine. He works out of a small winery in Santa Rosa, shared with two other wineries.

Allen only works with Rhone grapes, and even planted his own vineyard of Grenache recently. His wines are balanced, with both texture and acid, and really shine with food.

Region: California>Mendocino County

Vineyard: Gibson Ranch, a historical section of McDowell Valley Vineyard. 100+ year old, dry farmed, head-trained vines.

Blend: 100% Grenache Gris, a mutation of Grenache Noir – the skins are orangey-gray in color.

Aging: 5 months in stainless steel, 4 of which were sur-lie.

Production Notes: Harvested in mid-September at 21.5 Brix. Grapes were crushed and left on the skins to cold soak for 7 days, then pressed into neutral French oak and fermented with indigenous yeasts. After 2 weeks, the wine (which was not finished fermenting) was transferred to stainless steel tanks, where it spent the next 4 months fermenting at a temperature of 56F. The wine wanted to start malolactic fermentation, so it was allowed to do so and was then bottled unfined and unfiltered. 33 cases made.

Tasting Notes: Expressive aromas of citrus rind, tomato vine, and white peach. On the palate, it has balanced texture and weight, with a wonderful savory element from the extended skin contact, delivering tangy citrus, red grapefruit, and peach, with a lingering finish. Serve at a proper temperature of 52-56F, not directly from the refrigerator.

Food Pairings: Grilled or roasted vegetables, poached salmon with seared morels, arugula salad with bacon-shallot vinaigrette.

 

Winery Visit: Two Shepherds

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Remember when Winelandia first got started? One of the first wines we offered was an interesting little Grenache Blanc made by wine blogger & garagiste-turned-pro winemaker William Allen under his label Two Shepherds. William makes a number of wines from Rhone varieties in very small batches – he only makes a half barrel of some of his wines. Many of these wines are classic in style, but William doesn’t shy away from experimentation – he makes a number of skin-fermented white wines and fringe varietal wines. I was fortunate enough to be invited to taste in his winery just this last Friday, and boy did he open a lot of new and exciting wines for me!

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We started with the 2012 Santa Ynez Valley Grenache Blanc – the original wine Winelandia offered from Two Shepherds. It has come along quite a bit since the last time we tasted it – more secondary aromas and mineral notes are emerging, which is a sign of quality in a white wine. One of the key factors in what makes this wine great is that it’s aged on the lees in a combination of neutral oak and stainless steel – giving body to and softening the wine while also preserving it’s freshness. A very rich and complex example of a varietal wine that is typically a simple porch-pounder.

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Next we tasted his 2012 Russian River Valley Pastoral Blanc, a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, and Grenache Blanc from Saralee’s Vineyard – the only vineyard in the Russian River Valley AVA growing Marsanne and Roussanne. It was rich and velvety with notes of stonefruit, white flowers, mineral, and spice, with present and balanced acidity. While it’s showing beautifully now, I’m certain it will continue to increase in complexity for years to come. I loved this wine so much, I picked some up for the shop.

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One of the wines I was most excited to taste was up next, William’s 2012 Fanucchi-Wood Vyd. skin-fermented Trousseau Gris. Perhaps you’ve heard me shout from the rooftop, proclaiming my love for Trousseau Gris. It’s a special and rare variety, originating from the Jura region in France. Trousseau Gris is gray grape, a mutation of the red Trousseau variety, and there’s only 10 or so acres of it planted in California, most of which is owned by the Fanucchi family in the Russian River Valley. That’s the vineyard William got the fruit for this wine from (Wind Gap & Jolie-Laide also make delicious wines from this vineyard) and it was a treat to experience his interpretation of it. The color is a rich coppery-pink, and on the palate it’s full of texture and lovely, juicy fruit and spice. The wine spent a full 10 days fermenting on the skins, where it extracted truckloads of character – this is a geeky wine for sure.

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Next up was the 2013 Mendocino County Grenache Gris Rosé. A very special wine made from a rare grape, Grenache Gris, a mutation of the well-known Grenache Noir. The vineyard is a unique site, where the vines are dry-farmed, head trained, and over 100 years old. This brand-new 2013 rosé was simply beautiful – rich and herbal, with loads of texture from 7 days of skin contact. Although it’s a fuller-bodied rosé, it retains tons of brightness and energy – it’s absolutely lively and juicy on the palate. It’s showing beautifully now, and will only get better by Thanksgiving. Just 33 cases were made, and I picked up just a few bottles for the shop, which you can buy here.

All of these lovely white, pink, and orange wines aside, William also makes extraordinary red wines from Rhone varietals. There’s a cool-climate 2012 Grenache Noir from the Russian River Valley; a 2011 Syrah/Mourvedre from the Russian River Valley & El Dorado AVA; and his flagship red blend, the 2011 Pastoral Rouge – a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah. All of the red wines are rich and textural, without being heavy or over-extracted, while showing grace, finesse, and restraint. Two Shepherds is a winery to keep an eye on – it hasn’t been around for long but William is already making wines that rival those of the rockstars of the region.

Big thanks to William for hosting me at his winery and opening so many of his treasures to share – I am very excited to see how these wines age and what he’s up to next.

 

 

Introducing our Winter Wine Club Offer

We’re pleased to introduce you to the wines in our winter wine club offering! Not a member yet? Get in on the action by signing up for our wine club! https://signup.winelandia.com
P1240064-webIt’s been pretty warm around these parts, so instead of offering heavy winter wines we are focusing more on wines with energy and verve. Evocative of the impending spring, these wines are fresh and rich. A Chenin Blanc from the Loire that tastes like pure bottled sunlight; a Müller-Thurgau from extreme elevations in northern Italy; a rustic and juicy old vine Zinfandel from a cool-climate Biodynamic vineyard in the Russian River Valley; a dry Brachetto that smells like a bouquet of roses; a funky & geeky red blend from a French-born producer in Chile; and a feminine & seductive Mourvèdre from the decomposed granite soils of the Sierra foothills.

The Lineup

2012 Frantz Saumon Minéral +, Montlouis sur Loire, France
2012 Radoar “Etza”, Alto Aldige, Italy
2012 Poco a Poco Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, US
2011 Matteo Correggia “Anthos”, Roero, Italy
2012 Clos Ouvert “Primavera”, Maule Valley, Chile
2012 La Clarine Farm “Cedarville”, Sierra Foothills, US

2012 Frantz Saumon Minéral +, Montlouis sur Loire

P1240048-webWinemaker: Frantz Saumon
Bio: Setting out to make wine representative of its appellation, Frantz Saumon purchased a small plot of land in Montlouis in 2002. Since then, he has acquired more land and most of the 6 hectares are planted with old growth Chenin Blanc, which is all farmed organically and by hand.
Region: France>Loire Valley>Touraine>Montlouis sur Loire
Vineyard: Organically farmed, various parcels
Blend: 100% Chenin Blanc
Aging: Stainless steel tanks
Production Notes: Minéral + is made with grapes from all of Saumon’s Chenin Blanc plots in Montlouis. Mineral soils help produce a wine that is full of distinctive Montlouis minerality. The vines average age is 40 years and they are planted in a blend of soils composed of tuffeau (limestone) and silex (flint). Every vintage yields a wine with a little bit of residual sugar, but the wines taste dry. The sugar lends a textural element to the wine which helps balance it. 100% indigenous yeast fermentations and aged in Stainless Steel tanks.
Tasting Notes: Stonefruit, citrus and mineral, medium bodied, elegant, and rich with a backbone and texture that will compliment a wide variety of foods.
Food Pairings: Smoked fish, spicy Asian food, pâte, chicken in cream sauce

2012 Radoar “Etza” Müller-Thurgau, Alto-Aldige

P1240056-webWinemaker: Norbert Blasbichler
Bio: Radoar is located near the border of Austria in Northern Italy. Norbert Blasbichler took over in 1997 and is the 15th generation to farm this land, which has been in the family since the 1300’s. Radoar is, first and foremost, an organic apple farm. They grow Golden Delicious apples, and create distillates such as brandy from the fruit. In addition to growing apples, chestnuts, peaches, pears, and walnuts, Radoar grows several types of grapes from which they produce wine and Grappa.
Region: Italy>Trentino-Alto Aldige>Alto Aldige>Valle Isarco
Vineyard: Certified organic. 3000’ in elevation, the estate vineyards of Radoar are 1.5km from the farm.
Blend: 100% Müller-Thurgau
Aging: Stainless steel
Production Notes:  Müller-Thurgau is a cross between Riesling and Madeleline Royal, developed in the 19th century. Organically farmed, direct-to-press, and fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of citrus and white flowers followed by ripe peach on the palate with juicy acidity and a lingering finish. This is a great wine to serve with hard-to-pair vegetables such as asparagus and Italian cheeses.
Food Pairings: Asparagus dishes, brussel sprouts, artichokes, seafood, smoked fish, spicy Asian food, fresh burrata with olive oil & sea salt

2012 Poco a Poco Zinfandel, Russian River Valley

P1240053-webWinemaker: Luke Bass
Bio: Luke Bass’s family has owned Porter Bass Vineyards since 1980, when the family discovered the century-old vineyard. The land had been subjected to decades of farming-induced erosion, so they slowly brought it back to life through Biodynamic and organic farming. Luke grew up on this property, and was a winemaker before he even had his first paying job. Previously, he interned at Flowers winery, which evolved into a position as cellar master. He has also worked at Hirsch & Tandem in Sonoma, as well as Flagstone in South Africa and Casa Marin in Chile.
Region: US>California>Sonoma>Russian River Valley
Vineyard: Demeter Certified (Biodynamic). The vineyards are protected from winds by the surrounding Redwood and Fir trees, while the fog produced by the nearby Russian River helps cool the vineyard in the summer.
Blend: 100% Zinfandel
Aging: 12 months in neutral French oak
Production Notes: Old vine Zinfandel. Native yeast fermentation and spontaneous malolactic fermentation. Very little sulphur dioxide (SO2) added.
Tasting Notes: Blackberry, dark cherry, wild bramble, spice. Medium-to-full bodied with zippy acidity.
Food Pairings: Fried chicken, sweet BBQ, burgers, pasta with rustic sauce, pizza, root vegetables.

2011 Matteo Correggia “Anthos”, Roero

P1240045-webWinemaker: Luca Rostagno
Bio: Matteo Correggia died in a tragic tractor accident in 2001. His wife, Ornella Correggia took over winery operations and hired Luca Rostagno as the winemaker. Ornella has continued to grow the winery’s reputation as the benchmark producer in Roero, and has introduced organic & biodynamic farming and winemaking practices.
Region: Italy>Piedmont>Cuneo>Roero
Vineyard: Organic. Sand, silt, & clay soils at 900’ elevation. East/South-east facing slope.
Blend: 100% Brachetto
Aging: 8 months in stainless steel
Production Notes: Brachetto is a native Piemonte varietal normally used to produce sweet, sparkling wines. This version is totally dry and exceptionally elegant. Estate fruit, organically farmed. Fermented with controlled temperatures in stainless steel. Minimal skin contact during indigenous yeast fermentation. Manually harvested in mid-September.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of fresh roses dominate, with notes of herbs, strawberries, and cherries. Light-to-medium bodied, with delicate texture and balanced acidity. Serve slightly chilled on a warm California winter day and enjoy on the patio by itself or with Italian-style snacks.
Food Pairings: Antipasto, light pasta dishes, salumi, BBQ poultry

2012 Clos Ouvert “Primavera”, Maule Valley

P1240046-webWinemaker: Louis-Antoine Luyt
Bio: At the age of 22, Luyt set out for Chile under the guise of wanting to brush up on his Spanish. Luyt learned that Chilean wines were homogenous, and wondered if great wines could be made there. He went back to France and began to study viticulture & oenology in Beaune. During his studies, he befriended Mathieu Lapierre, and eventually worked with the Lapierre family at their winery in Morgon for 5 vintages. There, he learned about natural winemaking, a skill he became determined to bring back to Chile. Clos Ouvert was founded in 2006 by Luyt and two partners, who backed out of the project in 2010 after a massive earthquake resulted in the loss of 70% of their 2009 wines. Luyt pressed on and expanded, which now involves many different types of grapes and parcels.
Region: Chile>Central Valley>Maule Valley
Vineyard: Various parcels, organic & dry farmed
Blend: 40% Carignan, 30% País, 20% Cinsault and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Aging: 8 months in neutral French oak barrels
Production Notes: País and Carignan are carbonically macerated. The Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon are destemmed and vinified in a Burgundian style. The finished wines are blended to produce Primavera.
Tasting Notes: Full bodied, structured, lively, and full of mineral. Smoky elements give way to ripe fruit, herbs, and black pepper.
Food Pairings: Smoked or braised meats, grilled sausage

2012 La Clarine “Cedarville” Mourvèdre, Sierra Foothills

P1240059-webWinemaker: Hank Beckmeyer
Bio: Run by Hank Beckmeyer, La Clarine Farm is a principled stand out in California winemaking. A follower of Masanobu Fukuoka’s “Do Nothing Farming” methods, Beckmeyer has created a holistic vineyard and winery experience, trying to leave the grapes alone to, in a sense, make the wine themselves. Beckmeyer has been quietly making wines in the Sierras since 2001, and has a diverse lineup, comprised largely of Rhone wines, both white and red.
Region: US>California>Sierra Foothills
Vineyard: Cedarville. Organically farmed. Soils comprised of decomposed granite.
Blend: 100% Mourvèdre
Aging: 12 months in puncheons
Production Notes: This wine was made during an ideal vintage in California – lots of sun during the summer and no rain. Hank Beckmeyer decided to try something new this time around, and set out to make the wine more sensual by employing a new ‘recipe’. He shortened the length of time the wine spent on the skins, pressing early and letting the wine finish fermentation in the tank or barrel. The result is a brighter and more supple wine than the previous vintage.
Tasting Notes: High-toned tropical fruit and crushed red berries on the nose, with tart cranberry and mineral on the palate.
Food Pairings: Roasted poultry, braised root vegetables, grilled vegetables

Our 5 Favorite California Producers of 2013

DSC_81562013 was a bit of a renaissance year for wine in California. With American writer and columnist Jon Bonné championing the producers of “New California”, many local wine-makers are producing restraint, elegance, and a sense of terroir in their wines. There has been an influx of new blood, with young guns exploring both experimental and old-world winemaking techniques. Finally, we are able to shop in a wine store and buy a bottle of California wine that doesn’t reek of oak, stewed fruit, or buttered popcorn. Instead we can find mineral, forest sap, chapparal, white flowers and stonefruits.

The year has also been particularly kind to me. Having left my technology career in June to launch Winelandia, 2013 has been a year of soul-searching, experimentation, sometimes failing miserably, 14 hour work days, and exploring things way outside of my comfort zone. Trying to find my place in the wine industry has been trying at times, defeating at it’s worst, and absolutely transcendental at it’s best. That being said, I would much rather ride the wine rollercoaster than the tech dump-truck any day.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn 2013, I have most certainly tasted more wines than ever before. Colleen and I take every opportunity we can to go to industry tastings and visit small wineries, unearthing every stone we find in hopes of discovering something new to share with you. The most beautiful thing about wine is the sense of discovery and the sheer joy felt when you take a whiff and a sip of a wine that moves you. That’s what we want to share with you, that feeling of pure love. Wine is love.

Below is a list we have compiled of some of our favorite California producers of 2013, in no particular order. Some of them you may recall from your wine club shipments, seen in local wine shops, or read about in articles in the Chronicle. Next time you buy some wine, look for these producers, because we feel they are making some of the best wines today in California.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJolie-Laide Wines
Winemaker: Scott Schultz
Region: Russian River Valley
Style: Scott only makes a handful of wines (so far), but they unusual, thought-provoking, and unique. We have seen a Russian River Trousseau Gris with texture and unmatched complexity, an elegant Syrah from Phoenix Ranch in the cooler part of Napa, and a super-clean summertime quaffer of a Pinot Gris from the famed Windsor Oaks Vineyard on Chalk Hill. The labels for his wine change every year, are as mysterious and beautiful as his wines. He is definitely a winemaker to watch; his wines are quickly gaining cult status amongst wine geeks and are insane quality for the price.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARyme Cellars
Winemakers: Ryan & Megan Glaab
Region: Russian River Valley
Style: Ryan & Megan (a young married couple) make some really delicious, affordable, interesting wines. The style is both experimental and old-world, much like Jolie-Laide (and wouldn’t you know it, they share a winemaking facility). Some of our favorite wines made by Ryme are their Carneros Pinot Noir – a fresh and juicy wine reminiscent of cru Beaujolais, and their skin-fermented “His” Vermentino – a textural and savory skin-fermented white wine. All of their wines are super clean and beautifully balanced. We can’t wait to see what they have to offer next.
DSC_8196AmByth Estate
Winemaker: Philip Hart
Region: Paso Robles
Style: A Demeter-certified (Biodynamic) estate, Philip and Mary Hart planted their vines in 2004. They make wines in a super-natural way, mostly of Rhone varietals. It can get quite hot in Paso Robles, but the location of their estate is directly in path of the cooling coastal winds coming through the Templeton gap. The day-to-night temperature fluctuations can sometimes swing 50F, which preserves the acidity in the grapes. They tend to pick on the early side, so their wines are very unlike any others in the Paso Robles AVA (which are usually very ripe). Very little, if any, SO2 is used in the production of their wines. While they aren’t cheap, their wines are built for the long-haul. They were recently picked up by a well-respected wine distributor, so you can expect to see more AmByth wines in local shops. We highly recommend the Priscus white blend and the Mourvedre.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALa Clarine Farm
Winemaker: Hank Beckmeyer
Region: Sierra Foothills
Style: Hank Beckmeyer follows the ‘do nothing’ farming methodology of Masanobu Fukuoka, and his wines scream terroir as a result. Hank works mostly with Rhone varietals, both from his own farm and purchased from other vineyards. I can remember the first time I tasted his Cedarville Mourvedre; that was a wine that changed and excited me. I never knew that a grape which usually produces a rich, powerful, and extracted wine could make a wine with such femininity and finesse. We also love his white wines, which have so much character they can taste totally different from day to day. La Clarine wines are the Everlasting Gobstopper of the wine world, and a crazy good value to boot.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPorter Creek Vineyards
Winemaker: Alex Davis
Region: Russian River Valley
Style: Alex Davis has been quietly making some of the best wines in California for as long as I can remember. This is one of the first wine clubs I ever joined, and for good reason. They make my favorite California Pinot Noir, as well as a value-priced Carignan that is rustic, juicy and food-friendly. We love their Zinfandel, rosé, Chardonnay, Viognier… heck, we love everything they do. Alex spent a good amount of time in Côte-Rôtie, and naturally he also produces a slammin’ Syrah which is co-fermented with a little bit of Viognier, just like they do in the northern Rhone. Porter Creek is very consistent, so it will continue to be an old standby for us.

Honorable Mentions:
Arnot-Roberts
Dirty & Rowdy
Two Shepherds
Deux Punx
Massican
Matthiasson
Hirsch Vineyards
Copain
Wind Gap

 

The Winelandia Holiday Lineup!

The Holiday 6-Pack has already sold out, thanks to everyone who ordered! We do have some of the La Vigne di Alice Brut Tajad and the Celler Acustic Red blend available for purchase. We can also re-order any of these wines by the case, so please let us know if you are interested in special-ordering by emailing orders@winelandia.com.

The Winelandia 2013 Holiday Lineup

NV Le Vigne di Alice Tajad Brut
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Winemakers: Pier Francesca Bonicelli & Cinzia Canzian
Bio: Cinzia and Pier are sisters-in-law who set out in 2004 to produce artisinal Prosecco that is all their own. They started Le Vigne di Alice, an homage to Cinzia’s grandmother Alice who worked in the family’s osteria. The winery is in the northern-most reaches of the Conegliano and Valdobiaddene hills with the Dolomites in their backyard. Their focus is sustainably farming and producing natural, top-notch Prosecco.
Region: Veneto
Country: Italy
Vineyard: Estate
Blend: Verdisio, Glera & Boschera (proprietary field blend)
Aging: 45-60 days on the lees
Production Notes: Produced from sustainably farmed grapes using the Charmat method. This fun and rustic wine is produced as a field blend of three estate-grown indigenous Italian grape varietals – verdisio, glera and boschera. The chalky, rocky, lean soils lend a pure, mineral edge to this brut-dry sparkling wine. Perfect as an aperitif or with a cheese plate, this unusual Italian sparkler is sure to please wine geeks and novices alike.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of mineral and fruit; crisp and lean.
Food Pairings: Sushi, asparagus, nuts, prosciutto, Italian cheeses

2010 Suriol Cava Brut Nature
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemakers: Assis & Eudad Suriol
Bio: Cellers de Can Suriol is a family estate devoted to making traditional and ecologically sustainable wines using as little intervention as possible. They have been growing grapes and making wine on the same property located in the Alt Penedés since the 15th century.
Region: Alt Penedés, Cava
Country: Spain
Vineyard: Certified Organic, calcareous soil vineyards. 25 year old vines.
Blend: 40% Macabeo, 30% Xarlel-lo, 30% Parellada
Aging: 20 months on the lees
Production Notes: Fermented with indigenous yeasts in a vat, malolactic fermentation in concrete, secondary fermentation in the bottle. This vintage-dated Cava is quite unusual in it’s richness, body, complexity, and seductive character. We love the fine bubbles and beautiful golden color – it would be an excellent wine to pop open on New Year’s Eve to ring in the new year with friends and loved ones.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of honey, citrus, flowers, and anise. Medium bodied, mineral, and fruit-filled with a long finish.
Food Pairings: Jamón, seafood (fried, fresh, grilled), hard Spanish cheeses, tapas, tortilla española

NV François Pinon Vouvray Brut Non-Dose
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Winemaker: François Pinon
Bio: François Pinon is a retired child psychologist, making some of the best wines in Vouvray since 1987. He aims to maintain typicity of the region in his wines.
Region: Vouvray (Loire Valley)
Country: France
Vineyard: Certified Organic, estate-grown. Clay and silica soil on a base of tuffeau (limestone) and silex (flint). Average vine age is 25 years. Vineyards are plowed & hand-harvested, and chemical fertilizers and pesticides are never used.
Blend: 100% Chenin Blanc
Aging: 12 months sur lie
Production Notes: Only certified Organic estate fruit is used in the production of this wine, and the care taken in the vineyard really shines through. Aging occurs in a combination of stainless steel tanks and foudres (old, large-format oak casks) to maintain balance and freshness. Non-Dosé means there was no sugar added during disgorgement, so this wine is very dry. The finished wine is then sterile-filtered instead of heavily dosed with SO2 to provide stability.
Tasting Notes: 
Have you ever had a sparkling Vouvray? It’s like drinking real Champagne without the deep regret of emptying your bank account. Chenin Blanc lends itself to this Loire Valley specialty, producing a nuanced and delicious sparkling wine. Fresh, savory, bubbly, Chenin Blanc goodness. It’s our favorite sparkling wine from Vouvray.
Food Pairings:
Oysters, shellfish, goat cheese, trout, brunch foods, salads.

2010 Celler Acústic Red Blend
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Winemaker: Albert Jané
Bio: Albert Jané, a third-generation winemaker, believes the best wines are made with old winemaking techniques.
Region: Montsant (Catalunya)
Country: Spain
Vineyard: The organically farmed vineyards (planted in 1932) are located at high elevations, between 1200′ & 2200′. The soil is composed of clay, rock and sand.
Blend: Samsó & Garnacha
Aging: 10-12 months in new & used French oak barrels
Production Notes: Hand-harvested grapes are fermented with indigenous yeasts. The wine is racked using gravity into the estate’s 200 year old underground tanks, then is aged in a combination of new and used French oak barrels for 10-12 months. The wine is unfined, unfiltered, and a true expression of Montsant terroir.
Tasting Notes:
Ripe, layered black & red fruits, balanced acidity, supple tannins, and well-integrated oak make this wine perfect for drinking on it’s own or enjoying with food.
Food Pairings:
Braised beef, stew, roasted game birds, charcuterie, mushroom dishes, or delicious all by itself.

2010 Réméjeanne ‘Les Arbousiers’ Côtes du Rhône
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Winemaker: Rémy Klein
Bio: Originally established in 1960, Rémy took over the domain from his father in 1988. He constantly strives to improve upon the quality of his wines by trying new approaches, and expands the vineyards while planting fig and olive trees.
Region: Côtes du Rhône
Country: France
Vineyard: Certified Organic vineyards rest at an elevation of 650′-900′ in sandstone and limestone soils. Vines are an average age of 25 years. The higher elevations and geographic location of the vineyard creates a much cooler climate than the surrounding areas.
Blend: 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah
Aging: 12 months in cement tanks
Production Notes: Grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed, and cold-soaked prior to fermentation. This red wine is from a cooler part of the Southern Rhone, which imparts a freshness and liveliness not usually found in wines from this region.
Tasting Notes:
This wine has density, concentration, and structure which all interplay to produce a delicious, harmonious red wine. Notes of red fruit, tobacco, licorice, mint and spice.
Food Pairings:
Roasted chicken, root vegetables, burgers, onion soup, pizza, sausage.

2011 Domaine Filliatreau ‘La Grand Vignolle’ Saumur-Champigny
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Winemaker: Frédrik Filliatreau
Bio: A 4th generation winemaker, Frédrik continues to work with his family to produce wines from various vineyards in Saumur-Champigny.
Region: Saumur-Champigny
Country: France
Vineyard: La Grand Vignolle is a well-known vineyard which rests atop a tufa-stone outcrop that runs along the Loire river. The old vines are organically farmed and yields are kept low.
Blend: 100% Cabernet Franc
Aging: Stainless steel
Production Notes: The highly calcareous soil lends acidity and juiciness that is often lost in wines from this region. The wine is aged in tanks instead of oak, which adds additional freshness to the wine. The wines of Saumur-Champigny are some of our favorite old-world Cabernet Franc – a genetic parent of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. While this wine is drinking well now, it would make a great gift for a person who is interested in aging wine.
Tasting Notes:
Chisled red fruit, tobacco & licorice. Full-bodied and structured with herbal notes which are the hallmark of Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley.
Food Pairings: 
Aged goat cheese, lamb, duck, vegetable dishes, steak with pepper, eggplant.

Seven Perfect Seasonal Foods for Fall

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday, I took a drive down the coast to visit the new Bonny Doon Vineyards tasting room in Davenport. They closed down their Santa Cruz location back in May and moved up into a new space about 10 minutes north of Santa Cruz on Highway 1. The proprietor, Randall Grahm, is somewhat of a bad-ass in California wine history, and I have a lot of respect for him for popularizing Rhone wines in California. After all, some of my favorite varietal wines are made from Rhone varieties, and if it weren’t for Randall we might be in the dark about these delicious wines.

Unfortunately, the people operating the tasting room would not allow me to take any photos because they weren’t finished furnishing the place. Really guys? Your website says you are open for business and I just drove here from San Francisco! Anyhow, all I got was this crummy photo of their sign on the highway.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo why is this blog post titled Seven Perfect Seasonal Foods for Fall? Well, if you’ve ever driven down Highway 1 in the fall, you know how many farm stands selling local produce there are all along the way. My travel partner and I decided to make the best of the situation and do some farm-standing along the way back home. I will review the beautiful fall vegetables we encountered along the way, along with some lovelies I came across at the Farmer’s Market this weekend.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATurban Squash! These aren’t as great for eating as they are for looking at, but in the fall you will see them taking over the coastal pumpkin patches in California. They are an heirloom variety, dating back to to the 1800’s.  The flesh tastes vaguely of hazelnut and they make an excellent soup. You can also roast them whole and use them as a large soup tureen. I would probably just leave these mutant squash as-is and add them to my home as part of my holiday décor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPo-ta-toes! Boil’em, mash’em, stick’em in a stew. While these are available year-round, I tend to eat them more in the fall because they lend themselves best to hearty, warm, savory dishes. We are fortunate to have many heirloom varieties at our disposal here in the Bay Area, and every time I buy potatoes I try a new variety. My favorite way to prepare them is to wash them, leave them un-peeled, chop into bite-size pieces, toss with olive oil & fresh herbs, then roast at 375 degrees until tender and crispy around the edges. You can use these roasted potatoes in salads, as a simple side dish, as an accompaniment to eggs, or all by themselves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASunchokes! What the heck are these, anyway? Also known as the Jerusalem Artichoke, they are actually the tuber of the sunflower. They are ugly to look at, but if you find these rarities at the market be sure to snatch them up while they are available. They are as delicious as they are ugly. I like to chop them, toss in olive oil, and roast like I would a potato. The flavor is nutty and artichoke-like and they would be great paired with something a little sweet to offset their savory personality.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARadicchio! This is my favorite bitter leafy vegetable of the fall & winter. While it’s generally available year-round, I think it tastes best this time of year. You can slice a radicchio in half and grill it, or use it raw in a salad mixed with arugula and sherry or balsamic vinaigrette. It’s important to use a sweet-ish dressing with this in a salad, as it can be quite bitter and needs a little balance. It tastes great with bacon, too. It’s festive color is perfect for the season and will be a lovely compliment on your Thanksgiving table.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWild mushrooms! This year we have a huge bumper crop of mushrooms, and it’s only fall. Prices are at rock bottom right now and you can find some pretty exotic varieties at your local wild mushroom purveyor. These shown in the photo, above, are called Violet Chanterelles, or Pig’s Ears. They have a lovely texture and earthy/pungent flavor that is perfect to accompany roasted game birds or pork. Other delicious mushrooms to try are Porcini, King Trumpet, yellow Chanterelle, Black Trumpet, Hedgehog, Matsutake, Maitake, Pioppini, and Yellowfoot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPersimmons! While I don’t have much experience with these, I do know how prolific they are around here in the fall. I had neighbors in Oakland with a whole orchard of them in their back yard. They are gorgeous when still on the tree, as they are late-ripening and the tree loses it’s leaves before the fruit falls off, making a silhouette that looks eerily like a scraggly Christmas tree full of bright orange ornaments. I know we have two major varieties here in CA; the sweet & friendly Fuyu persimmon, and the astringent Hachiya persimmon. To make them more palatable, my dad used to put his persimmon into a coffee mug and cover it with a small plate for several days. This would accelerate the ripening process, and he would eat it when it was practically rotting. Gross, Dad. There are some varieties indigenous to the United States, and they were a staple food of the Native Americans and early “American” settlers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAApples! There is no fall food more perfect than the apple, especially here in California where we have access to a zillion different heirloom varieties. Right now there is a bounty of fresh apples all over the place and there’s a reason apple pie is so popular in the fall. Some of my favorite heirloom varieties include Pink Pearl, Grenadine, Rome, Wickson and Sierra Beauty. Pink-fleshed apples like Pink Pearl and Grenadine are not only beautiful, but in my opinion the most delicious. Perhaps it’s my mind playing tricks on me because of the seductive color, convincing my brain that they somehow taste better, but that Grenadine apple really does taste just like grenadine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGoodbye tomatoes, basil, sweet corn & zucchini. Say Sayonara to sweet peppers. Summer is O-V-E-R, make room for fall foods! What are some of your favorite fall fruits & vegetables?

Winery Visit: Ambyth Estate

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Nestled in the hills on the Eastside of the Paso Robles AVA, right in the path of the winds from the Templeton gap, lies a 1000 case-per-year production Organic & certified Biodynamic winery. The owners – Philip & Mary Hart – are two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. They purchased the land in 2001 and planted their 20 acres in 2004. They grow Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Counoise, Sangiovese & Tempranillo. In addition to grape vines, they grow olive trees from which they produce their own Organic olive oil and raise 2 cows, 2 sheep, 25 chickens, 2 dogs and 7 cats.

DSC_8154Cid the Wine Dog; buggy buddy, stoic protector of chickens

Colleen & I first met Philip’s assistant, Frederic Ballario, at the 2013 Rhone Rangers industry tasting in San Francisco. We always stop by the AmByth table at this event because we so rarely get a chance to go down to the Paso area. It’s always exciting to try their new wines since we love the style of them. They are the polar opposite of most Paso wines; they are lean, low in alcohol, unmanipulated and completely natural. I was very excited to see some new wines from them, including a now sold-out skin-fermented Grenache Blanc (aka “orange wine”) and a red table blend from the 2011 vintage. Colleen and I spent some time chatting with Frederic and we immediately loved him for his warmth, knowledge, energy and friendliness.

DSC_8147Tala & Frederic chatting over Syrah vines

A most serendipitous thing happened a few days after the Rhone Rangers event. Frederic and I ran into each other at another wine tasting and he told me they needed someone to represent the winery at an event at K&L (who now carries their wines). He asked if I was available to pour wines for them for a couple of hours (I was) and subsequently he invited me down to the winery to go over their winemaking practices, teach me a little about Biodynamics and to get to know the processes a little better so I could better represent them at the tasting. So, I packed up my Husband/Software Engineer/Photographer and headed South to AmByth Estate.

Upon arrival, I was lucky enough to get to taste through their entire line-up of wines. Right now they have about 8 wines available; a Viognier, a white Rhone blend, a few red Rhone blends, a Syrah, a red table wine, a Zinfandel and a Tempranillo (which is drinking superbly right now). Frederic spent some time talking about their latest winemaking practices and equipment while showing me around the facility. AmByth recently purchased several amphorae which are now filled with fermenting wines, shown below. We cleaned the strangely beautiful green glass airlocks attached to the amphorae and tasted through all of them, most of which were still either full of CO2, in the middle of MLF or still under primary fermentation (in April!).

DSC_8187I am particularly excited to try their wines produced in amphorae. I have never actually seen one of these in person before this and they are quite beautiful. All of them were hand-made in Italy.

The climate is very unique at AmByth Estate. In the summer, it can be 100F and higher, but it cools down to about 50F at night because of the cool marine wind coming through the Templeton Gap. This temperature swing and wind preserves the acid in the grapes and produces wines which are much fresher, nervy, full of energy and great with food. In addition to the balancing acidity in these wines, they are made with minimal or no SO2 and are built for the long haul. These wines drink great when they are young but I anticipate they will keep on giving for years and years to come.

DSC_8156I asked Frederic a lot about Biodynamics as I really don’t know a whole lot about it other than it’s a pretty hard-core natural farming and winemaking process. He explained to me like this: Biodynamics help facilitate the flow of energy between the earth and the sky (or ‘cosmos’, as he put it). The moon, sun & earth all have natural cycles and Biodynamics help the system function to it’s full potential. Their belief is that good winemaking happens in the vineyard; the grapes need to be their best for the wines to follow suit. In the winery, little is done. They use 100% native yeast, minimal intervention and very little SO2 (none as of the 2012 vintage). The resulting wines speak to the fact that Biodynamics really do produce something unique, super-natural, and very different from conventional wines.

DSC_8159I am truly humbled by the generosity and warm hospitality from Frederic during our stay. I really encourage all of our readers to make a trip to Paso specifically to visit this winery. It’s really something special in a sea of mediocrity. If you are unable to make the trip to see them, you can come to K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City this Friday, April 12th from 5PM to 7PM to taste their Syrah and Red Table Blend. Yours truly will be pouring that night so come by and say hi. There will be 3 or so other wineries also doing tastings and the fee (I believe) is $10. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments.