Who's Gonna be at Wine 2.0 SF Expo!?!

Wine 2.0It’s that awesome time again when the Wine 2.0 (Twitter) folks gear up and take over San Francisco!  Wine 2.0 San Francisco Expo is taking place on Thursday April 2nd and if it’s anything like their past events…it’s going to be a killer wine shindig!  Indeed, my introduction into the 2.0 movement of wine events was the very first event I covered for WineLog.  I’ve been to a number of others, including the last one that Smoke (Twitter), Cornelius and others held at Crushpad (Twitter), the site of this year’s event, as well.

Wine 2.0 along with others are leading the way for the new direct to consumer and social networking outreach in the wine industry.  Their social network on the Ning platform has quickly gained large participation and their many industry/consumer mixed events have proven to be a major success over the last few years.

This year’s SF Expo will again feature many, many wineries including plenty of the premier, hard-to-visit boutique wineries that I’ve come to expect at their events.  You can also anticipate a number of speakers, symposiums and various other consumer and industry wine and food companies presenting their artisanal offerings during this special night.

WineLog.netI’m very excited to be attending and proud to announce that WineLog.net is one of the media sponsors for the Bloggers’ Lounge, debuted at ZAP 2009, a spot for all of us winebloggers to set up our laptops and blog in real-time during the event!  All of the details are below…come find me when you arrive.

As an extra bonus, use the secret promo code “wine” at checkout and you’ll receive 10% off your tickets!

Wine 2.0 Presents:

Wine 2.0 San Francisco Expo

April 2nd, 2009

5:30pm – 7pm Media & Trade Only

7pm – 10pm Open to the Public


2573 3rd Street

San Francisco, CA 94107

Wine 2.0

Paso Creek: A Zin & a Happy Owl

ZAP Zinfandel Festival 2009This year’s ZAP Zinfandel Festival I ran into a number of good wines.  One of the interesting ones that I got to try (again actually) and get some back story is the Paso Creek Paso Robles Zinfandel 2006.  While having a taste, I chatted to Susan Bergland, Public Relations Manager at Icon Estates a bit about their newer estate vineyard and winery.

Paso Creek Paso Robles Estate Zinfandel 2006 Paso Creek was born out of the realization that Zinfandel is continuing to grow at a rapid pace in the US wine market, particularly the higher-end bottles of wine that fall in the mid to high teens and above.  While they could have bought land and vineyards in an area that is well established as a big Zin area such as Dry Creek Valley or the Sierra Foothills, they instead chose to pick an edgier area, where I imagine they, they rightly believe that they can make a bigger impact and really help to shape that region’s reputation for bold and well-made Zinfandel…and so they chose Paso Robles in the middle of California for this new endeavor.  Alongside their Zin they also have a Cab and a Merlot, both of which I have yet to try, so I’ll focus on the Zin here.

Alongside a sweet label with some great design, they have also put together a great website that includes a very informative video about the vineyard and property in Paso Robles.  But as always, the focus is on the wine! I actually tasted this wine once prior to the festival while at my friend Heff’s house, just down the road.  I found it to be rather well-balanced and was intrigued by the logo as well as the quality of fruit that I tasted in the wine.

After three such tastings, including a sample that I received thanks to Susan that was decanted, I had a pretty good view of this wine.  It features great restrained power and balance that is not always seen from this varietal.  Good dusty yet bright red fruit is found in the nose, along with blueberry, bramble and pepper.  The palate shows that great balance that inludes good structure of tannin and acidity (great for food!), some toasty oak that is still integrating and a good length of finish with pepper and black cherry in the mix.  After a fair amount of air, a more richer blueberry comes into play, proving that this wine could handle a few years of aging.

You can find this wine and the others offered by Paso Creek at BevMo, Kroger, HEB, Food Lion or through their online store at Hartwick & Grove.  I think you’ll find the Zin to be a tasty quaffer.

Here are all the wines currently offered by Paso Creek.  If you’ve had one of their wines, please leave me a comment and let me know what you thought.  Enjoy!

Paso Creek Paso Robles Estate Zinfandel 2006

Paso Creek Paso Robles Estate Merlot 2006

Paso Creek Paso Robles Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

5th Pops & Son Wine Trip in Napa: Day 2

Stags Leap DistrictThe second and last day of our latest Pops & Son Wine Trip series took a dramatic turn, ie, Pops was no longer involved, unfortunately!  That cold that was was starting to come over him in the morning of the first day and then really kicked in during the afternoon?  Well, it hit big time and he woke up this day feeling terrible…no wine for Pops!  Poor guy ended up in bed all day…so our plans changed!

This was the first part of a Pops & Son Wine Trip with, umm, no Pops!  My sis Na and Moms were actually staying at Na’s in South Napa, so I called them up and asked if they’d like to join me on the days excursions.  In the midst of that, I got confirmation from my best buddy, Jeff van de Pol, now Enologist for Chimney Rock Winery.  “So we can do a quick tour before heading over to our main stop of the day?”  “Of course!”  It was on.

Chimney RockChimney RockChimney Rock is located in Stags Leap District, one of my single favorite wine regions in the whole world.  It is famous for its Cabs, indeed, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars won the vaunted 1976 Paris Tasting with their ’73 S.L.V. Cab, forever changing the world of wine.  We didn’t have enough time to taste any wine at Chimney Rock, but Jeff was nice enough to give us a tour of the property, including a brief survey of the surrounding vineyards.  After a rather interesting discussion of the various cork purveyors that with whom Jeff works in order to bottle the CR wines, we said our goodbyes and headed off the major tasting of the day at Peju Province Winery.

We were incredibly fortunate that day to attend a private tasting and tour of the grounds with Kimberly Mansager (Twitter), the jack-of-all-trades at the winery who helps keep the place humming.  I had met Kimberly just before the first Wine Bloggers Conference and we kept in touch over Twitter (Follow me!).  Knowing that all of this was ahead of us, we were a bit excited as we made the brief trip over to Peju from Stags Leap District. I’ve known about Peju for years, as the winery has been a fixture in Rutherford for over 27 years along 29.  Founded by Anthony and Herta Peju, it has been family owned and operated that entire time, growing and maturing to the point that they now feature wines from at least 8 grape varieties in their 35,000 case annual production.

Peju Province Peju ProvinceWinemaker Sara Fowler (whom we met briefly that day) specialize in the Bordeaux varietals at Peju, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, and Sauvignon Blanc on the white side of things.  The Peju family has been steadily building up the property to the now iconic stone tasting room tower in the French Provençal style (actually built *after* the label had featured it for many years!), with a beautiful driveway off 29 featuring graceful, curved sycamores that are growing their way over the drive through their garden and vineyards.

Kimberly - Peju ProvincePeju Province CabWe arrived a slight bit late, but our gracious host immediately greeted us with a wonderfully crisp and minerally taste of their ’07 Sauvignon Blanc.  This wine has a delicious mix of very racy acidity that is nicely balanced by a slight creaminess that accompanies the orange sherbet mid-palate.  We took our glasses and embarked on a tour of property, first through their gardens in near the parking lot, featuring a tucked away pond filled with various fish and a huge boulder with multiple ground out holes, which they believe was a grind stone for Wappo Native Americans hundreds of years ago.  We then walked over to the sustainably-grown vineyards that surround the Estate and actually surround their neighbors, St. Supéry.  We viewed their three Cab Sauv vineyards that all featured different trellising systems that reflect the care that the winegrower staff takes to understand their fruit.  Each trellising system is specialized to the varietal clone and root stock that is planted in the separate lots of the vineyard.  Kimberly is incredibly educated, not only about the winery, but also about wine as a general topic and I found the tour particularly dynamic and informative.

Peju Province Napa Valley Rutherford Reserve Estate Bottled Cabernet Franc 2005We made our way back to the winery via the barrel room and entered the main tasting room which has a polished stone floor and countertop that is so complex and multi-faceted that I found it a bit distracting while I walked in and stared at my moving feet…I probably looked like I’d already had too much wine!  We proceeded to taste through quite a few of their Estate wines.  We started with the ’07 Syrah Rosé, which wasn’t to my taste, but then we entered the reds which definitely found a home on my palate.  I fancied the two Cabernet Francs that we tasted, which should come as no surprise to my longtime readers.  The ’05 Estate Cab Franc featured a rich red and black cherry nose with some forest floor and new leather, followed by dried garden herbs.  The palate was plush and round with a lot of more fresh garden herbs and a good grip.  The fruit was red and black cherry, followed by some blueberry notes and a long dried leather finish.  The ’05 Reserve Cab Franc was richer and darker than the former and had red and black fruit on the nose alongside some autumn leaves.  The savory black cherry mouth was a little toasty and was very long-finished and smooth. Both were outstanding examples of the varietal.

Peju Barrel TastingWe finished our day at Peju Province with a very interesting barrel tasting, getting a lucky chance to taste a component of the future 2007 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.  The wine that we tried was from their Persephone Vineyard up in Pope Valley.  I found this wine unsurprisingly very tannic at this embryonic stage, but still had a sweet red cherry and rose nose that was rather closed and had some stemminess present.  The palate had more of a sweet Bing cherry fruit to it, alongside some vanilla and that very strong grip that nevertheless pointed to some fine-grained tannins…very interesting exercise.   Unfortunately, it was time to leave Kimberly and the wines of Peju.  Amazingly, Kimberly’s hospitality did not end with the property grounds.  She recommended that we try Piña’s wines next based on our palate preferences and kindly had one of her associates arrange our appointment!  This kind of amiable and knowledgeable service combined with a fair amount of good wines newly cemented Peju as a top winery and wine experience in our collective tasting experiences.  We hugged Kimberly goodbye and headed off to lunch at Oakville Grocery, just down the road.

Piña is another family owned operation, run by the four Piña brothers Larry, Davie, Ranndy and John.  Ranndy, the third brother, writes his own very informative and interesting blog.  It features some great commentary on the daily going-ons at the winery as well as the extensive experience that the family has in the history of the Valley.  The Piña’s have been one of the most well-known and sought after vineyard management companies in the valley for almost the last 50 years.  They’ve been in Valley since 1856 and thus, have quite the roots in and out of the local soil!  Once they realized that they had access to some of the best fruit in and around the Valley, they decided to open their own, albeit tiny, boutique winery.  They set out focusing on single-vineyard Cabs in 1981, but really only got serious about the winemaking around 2000.

PiñaPiña Howell Mountain Buckeye Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2005Our host that day was John and he was just finishing up with another couple when we walked into the tasting room.  After we signed in, we tasted through their trio of stellar Cabs that they had out that day.  While it was quite tough to choose a favorite, I was compelled to buy at least ONE bottle from John and I finally settled on the ’05 Howell Mountain Buckeye Vineyard, per my obsession with mountain fruit.  This wine was extremely complex with tobacco, dried garden herbs, darkest cassis and currant; Eucalyptus, and clove on the nose.  The palate was fantastic, featuring blueberry, slight toast, some black fruit with clove and cardamon with a black cherry finish. Wow, what a setof wines!  We thanked John (and Kimberly!) for his hospitality and decided to hit one more winery before calling it a day.

Reynolds Family VineyardsReynolds Family VineyardsOur last stop on this Pops & Son (and Family!) Wine Trip was at a spot that sits somewhere in the fondest parts of Na’s heart, Reynolds Family Vineyards.  This little boutique producer sits near the base of Silverado Trail and producers wines from both Napa Valley proper and Carneros. Pops and I have actually visited this winery during our own travels, but it was a great ending for what turned out to be a wonderful last day of tasting, actually featuring some warm winter weather, as well.

Reynolds Family VineyardsWe were well taken care of in the tasting room, Adam and company their to guide our tasting and provide some nice local commentary, as well.  We started off with Moms’ favorite, the ’06 Napa Valley Chard.  This is nicely balanced between good tropical fruit and crispness, along with some barrel-fermented creaminess in the middle.  My personal favorite here was the ’04 Persistance proprietary blend.  It’d be a full Meritage, but for the additional Syrah that Steve Reynolds tossed into the blend.  While featuring a lot of upfront sweet and toasty oak like most of their wines (something that I typically don’t enjoy), this also has an incredible depth of dark fruit and good savory elements of new leather that point to a long and more integrated future for this wine.  By the end of this tasting we were sufficiently relaxed and tired…it was time to head home and “rest up” before our tasty meal at our family favorite, Tuscany in downtown Napa later that night and the end of this 5th Pops & Son Wine Trip!

Please see all of the wines that we tasted during that second day in Napa, by checking out all of my reviews below. If you would like to list these wines in your own WineLog, they are all tagged with “5thPSWT2008-D2“. All of the wines that were tasted on this trip are tagged with “5thPSWT2008“. Feel free to leave a comment if you’ve had these wines before, too. Enjoy!

Peju Province Winery:

Peju Province Napa Valley Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2007

Peju Province Napa Valley Estate Syrah Rosé 2007

Peju Province Napa Valley Estate Bottled Zinfandel 2005

Peju Province Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Peju Province Napa Valley Estate Bottled Cabernet Franc 2005

Peju Province Napa Valley Rutherford Reserve Estate Bottled Cabernet Franc 2005

Piña Napa Valley:

Piña Yountville Wolff Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Piña Napa Valley D’Adamo Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Piña Howell Mountain Buckeye Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Reynolds Family Vineyards:

Reynolds Family Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay 2006

Reynolds Family Winery Los Carneros Pinot Noir 2006

Reynolds Family Winery Stags Leap District Merlot 2005

Reynolds Family Winery Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Reynolds Family Winery Napa Valley Persistence 2004

Wines that I had with dinner:

Hagafen Napa Valley Estate Bottled White Riesling 2007

Rombauer Vineyards California Zinfandel 2006

Crushpad enfuse(box)ed Blending and TTL OTBN!

Crushpad WineryOK.  So…what the heck is all that stuff in the title??  Don’t worry…all shall be revealed by me, your wine geeky host!  I joined a group of 8 wine enthusiasts at the kind behest of Luscious Lush Thea (Twitter) at Crushpad (Twitter) last Saturday for a custom wine blending session, replete with winemaker Tom Leaf.  Following this event we had the latest  Twitter Taste Live: Open That Bottle Night.

Fusebox (Crushpad)The afternoon tasting session was actually a hosted session of Crushpad‘s very innovative and dynamic fusebox custom wine blending kit/game.  Basically, you get 5 bottles of premium 2006 Napa Valley single-varietal Bordeaux wines and learn the tasting profiles of each of those wines; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc.  You then have tasting cards that five the percentages of famous Meritage blends from Napa Valley, such as the Wine Spectator #1 wine of the year for 2005, the ’02 Joseph Phelps Insignia (78%CS, 14%Me, 7%PV, 1%Ma). You also get an informative manual to lead the tastings and a large tasting placemat where you can write down your notes on all of the individual wines and blends that taste, whether from the tasting cards, or custom blends that you come up with on your own.  The kit retails for $120 at the website or on Crushpad’s own store and comes with all the components one needs to blend, including a graduated cylinder (flashbacks of my dayjob) and multiple pipettes for measuring each wine.

'97 Opus One'94 DominusWe first started with the ’97 Opus One (82%CS, 6%Me, 1%PV, 5%Ma, 8% CF).  While this was tasty and as I put it succinctly, “good to great,”  I thought that we could do better, with more subtle oak and a better nose.  We tried 3 historical blends in all, with my favorite being the ’94 Dominus (70%CS, 12%Me, 4%PV, 14% CF).  This one had a dark garnet core color with brick edges.  The nose was black fruit with some meatier charred earth and truffle.  The mouth was very silky with more black fruit paired with black cherry and some dried herbs heading into the sensual finish.  Yum.

Then we embarked on our custom blends, where we tried 4 before sharing it with the other half of the table.  Number 4 was the winner with dark garnet hues and a ruby edges that showed big cherry and rhubarb on the nose with some meaty aromas.  The mouth had a good strong grip and more complex black and red fruit with fresh garden herbs, followed by a long black cherry finish.

Fusebox (Crushpad)Like many good things, such as a bottle of wine, all good things must end and we had to leave Crushpad and head off on our way to Thea’s house in order to join  Twitter Taste Live: Open That Bottle Night!  I found the whole experience to be incredibly enlightening and informative about what might go into blending a wine, as well as just general wine knowledge.  Newbie’s and experience enthusasiasts, such as ourselves, might all learn a large amount about wine in a very concentrated and easily retained way…by doing it!

We bid a very thankful goodbye to Tom for leading our blending session and the whole posse agreed to reconvene at Thea’s.  I rode with Thea, Brix Chick Liza (Twitter) and Alex from BottlenotesWineQ.com founders Marshall (Twitter) and Brittany (Twitter) followed in their own ride.

Twitter Taste Live was founded by Craig Drollett (Twitter) founder and proprietor of Bin Ends WineI’ve participated in a previous TTL with the same suspects earlier last year, and had a blast.  Basically, Twitter (Follow me!) “Tweeps” around the US and the world get online at the same time to taste a similar, if not identical, batch of wines and discuss, in 140 characters or less.  There’s always a theme and this time it was in conjunction with the 10th Annual Open That Bottle Night, originally founded by the wine team of the Wall Street Journal, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher.  If there’s a bottle that you’ve just never opened because it wasn’t the best “special occasion,” well this was the night for that bottle!

Wilson DanielsAll of the wines were provided by Bin Ends Wine and the gang at Wilson Daniels (Twitter), who provided samples to Thea for us to try that night.  I also brought a special bottle that I recently received as a sample myself, the highly anticipated ’04 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cab, kindly provided by Craig Camp (Twitter), now at Cornerstone.  I won’t get into the impact that TTL has on the wine industry nor the wines, as others have done a great job doing that already, (thanks Joe/1WineDude!).  I’ll just leap right into the wines, instead!

Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Alsace Les Charmes Kritt Pinot Blanc 2005 First up on the list was the two whites, the ’05 Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Pinot Blanc and the Domaine Pierre Morey Bourgogne Aligoté.  I personally would have swapped the order of these two, because I found the Pinot Blanc to be a superior wine, as well as much fuller than the Aligoté.  Regardless, I did like both, with the Pinot Blanc pulling out as the winner, filled with aromas of honeysuckle and pear and a mouth that was a wonderful mix of crisp acidity and cream, with juicy pear there, too.

Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Costières de Nîmes Valée du Rhône Perrières 2005Next up were the two reds, the Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Costières de Nîmes Valée du Rhône Perrières 2005 and the Tenuta di Biserno Toscana Insoglio del Cinghiale 2006. I was not that fond of the second wine, the Biserno Toscana (too much oak for me), so I’ll focus on teh Kreydenweiss red.  This I found to be quite tasty and doing a lot with the “GSC” Rhône blend. It showed good red and blue fruit on the nose, alongside meaty new leather.  The mouth was medium-full with very bright fruit and good smooth tannins and showed great overall balance…very good QPR here!

Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 The last wine of the evening was the aforementioned ’04 Cornerstone Howell Mt. Cab.  This one we figured, needed some decanting, so it sat for (unfortunately, only) about 30 minutes in the decanter prior to the glass.  This is a monster of a wine, yet still shows many good signs of future integration.  The oak is lush and a bit dominant right now, which is typically not my thing.  The depths of complex and multi-colored fruit however, alongside the rounding tannins and charred savory notes make me think that this will be a rather phenomenal wine in about 5 more years, lasting well into its 20’s.  I can’t wait to try this sucker once it gets some more age on it, when that mountain fruit really meshes with the structure!

All of the wines that we tasted out the fusebox kit and Twitter Taste Live: Open That Bottle Night are listed below.  If you would like to list these wines in your own WineLog, they are tagged with the terms above the two sections.  If you’ve played/used fusebox, please leave a comment about your experience with this great party game. Enjoy!

Wines tasted during Crushpad‘s fusebox: “fusebox

fusebox Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

fusebox Napa Valley Merlot 2006

fusebox Napa Valley Petit Verdot 2006

fusebox Napa Valley Malbec 2006

fusebox Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 2006

Wines tasted during Twitter Taste Live: “TTL“, “TTL-OTBN” &

Open That Bottle Night: “OTBN“, “OTBN2009

Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Alsace Les Charmes Kritt Pinot Blanc 2005

Domaine Pierre Morey Bourgogne Aligoté 2006

Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Costières de Nîmes Valée du Rhône Perrières 2005

Tenuta di Biserno Toscana Insoglio del Cinghiale 2006

Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Livermore Valley Cellars Livermore Valley Caboose Zinfandel 2006

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