Rainy Day Reading

After a few dry days, we’re back to winter rains with a forecast for an “atmospheric river” next week.

Yesterday, Eric Asimov of the New York Times published his review of some Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs he was able to purchase on the East Coast.

We enjoy working with a number of Pinot Noir vineyards and vineyard owners in Sonoma County.  Asimov reviews some great wines and wineries in the area.  Happy reading and sipping. Our family favorite pairing is Pinot Noir with Mexican food.  What’s yours?

The Art of Wine

In any industry or field, there are the celebrities – the big names everyone knows, refers to, and often prefer.  With wine, sometimes the celebrities are the wines themselves, an amazing vintage from a stand up varietal grown in the perfect place, aged and fined by a master vintner.  More often, we’re learning, the brand/ the celebrities / the innovators / the artists to follow are the vineyard managers and winemakers.  Who through multiple projects express their style and sell their paintings as consumable, sometimes age-worthy, wines.  Wine as art.

And so we continue to build our dream, practicing and creating our art, applying this to defining our own style that will in time, hopefully, warrant its own following.



Expanding Our Palates: Domaine Le Sang des Cailloux

We are fortunate enough, as folks who work in the wine industry, to bring home extra bottles. A little of this and a little of that.  At this point they are mostly ends, rest, maybes.  So the question every other evening is, do we have any good wine??  In other words, wine for a Wednesday evening.  Not the bottles we’re saving for a special occasion, not the bottles that are questionable risk with no frame of reference for what we might be getting into, but a trusted wine. One that will enhance the evening and help us relax, slow down a bit, and enjoy.

Out here in California, the prospects of finding a quality wine that’s not made in California are slim.  This evening, we had the pleasant surprise of going French with our selection.

Domaine le Sang des Cailloux

AZALAÏS – 2012

Total case production for Le Sang des Cailloux is about 5000 cases a year. This particular wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Sryah, and 10% Mourvedre and Cinsault. Oh, the possibilities. Fermented in concrete, bottled without fining or filtration.  Much lighter bodied than the California Grenache we’ve had (which given the weather difference is to be expected.) Juicy front, intensive mid palate with a delicate finish. Fruit and minerality on the nose at first, that softened quickly. Would be interested in trying this again in a couple years. Too bad we only had one bottle.


Salut! POE Rose

Rose wines are the most interesting thing this Spring.  Refreshing, crisp, dry, fragrant, with inciting color.  Also a great wine to pair for appetizers through the main course.  Recently, we had one of our favorites so far: Poe Rose 2014.


POE Wines produces small production, single vineyard wines, focusing on Pinot Noir.  This stunning Rose is unique because it is made from Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir (the grapes most often used together for champagne).  Salut!

Our food pairing – The main course:

Roasted lemon chicken breast: recipe here

Side dish – roasted butternut squash with thyme


Backyard Tourist: Checkerboard Vineyards


This week we had a chance to visit the exclusive, literally hidden gem of Checkerboard Vineyards.  Our kind host, Beth, gave us a tour of the vineyards, winery caves (with their inviting aroma and clinically pristine walls), and tasting space.


Checkerboard’s vineyards are all estate and at high elevation.  They grow Bordeaux varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc.


Each vintage is expertly crafted and cared for by hand, from vineyard to bottle.  This row of barrels holds their 2013 red wines.


Tasting space with a view of the  vineyards.  Checkerboard’s offerings are based around their showcase Cabernet – current release is 2011 and after opening up was a stunning, serious Cab, dark, rich, and lush. Tastings are by appointment only.



The Wine. The Dinner.

Sauvignon Blanc is the latest grape gaining respect here in Napa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is still king and commands the highest price. Many of the top or cult wineries in the valley have added a stand out SB to their portfolio.

What I like about this change is the opportunity to taste site-specific SB’s that due to selective vineyard sites show unique traits and elegance beyond the crisp, refreshing wine we enjoy. I hinted at this in our post about Rudd’s Mt. Veeder Sauvignon Blanc. I also recommend checking out this article published in The Wall Street journal last year about serious SB’s.

This leads to me to the SB we enjoyed this week with dinner.

IMAG1432The wine: SR Tonella Cellars Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc 2014. This wine is unique in that the grapes were sourced from the west bench in Rutherford and that the wine was aged in a combination of neutral French Oak, Acacia, and Stainless steel – resulting in a lovely SB with light aromatics, a round, lush palate, with minerality and acidity on the finish that won’t tire your palate.

The dinner: Vegetable curry served with fresh cheese, lime wedges, and tortilla chips.


Salut! Covenant Cabernet

Sometimes, a special not-so-little bottle doesn’t need a food to pair with, just a little introduction.

This week we enjoyed a glass of Covenant Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004.  Covenant Wines is located in Berkley and produces natural wines made with indigenous yeasts, and with out fining or filtration. Lush with refined tannins, beautiful color, and subdued red fruit flavors, this Kosher wine is ready to share.



From Our Table to Yours

I love nights when culinary inspiration strikes our kitchen and my mood lends itself to a great pairing.  Tonight’s wine: Rudd Mt. Veeder Sauvignon Blanc 2012.  If you ever have an opportunity to enjoy this wine, take it.  It is spectacular and not your every-day Sauvignon Blanc.  The pairing: Salvadorean Pupusas with Pickled Cabbage.  Yum.


This takes a little time, but is well worth the effort for this little satisfying meal.  So pop the cork, pour yourself a glass, and make the beans ahead of time.  We prefer pinto beans.  Rinse the beans, and boil them for a couple hours until tender. Don’t forget to add a little salt. (Can be done the day before and stored in the refridgerator)

Tonight I started with the Pickled Cabbage Salad.  I used 1/4 the ingredients for our dinner for two, and this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Pupusas – I used a reduced version of this recipe: Fried the beans, made a mixture of corn meal and water, and lightly fried the pupusas in canola oil. No cheese, no onion, no masa. Delicious.



Good Wine


Kale Wines

We have a unique opportunity here in Napa Valley – access to small production, high quality wines.  From our dinner table to yours, we thought we’d start including some of our recent favorites.

Good wine: Kale Napa Valley Dry Rosé 2013

Juicy, lush, refreshing.  This wine was an excellent accompaniment to dinner and enjoyable on its own to sip and relax.

“Who makes wine from kale?”  Luckily, the answer to that is still, no-one, that I’m aware.  Turns out Kale is the name of the winemaker; Kale Anderson (whose resume includes Colgin, Cliff Lede, and Pahlmeyer) produces wines with his wife Ranko under their own label Kale Wines. “I make wine with my senses, and I use science to gauge risk.” – Kale

This Rosé is comprised of 68% Grenache and 38% Syrah.  The fruit was sourced from Rutherford and Atlas Peak.  The wine was bottled unfined. Only 176 cases produced.


Backyard Tourist

It’s great when you get a restaurant recommendation based on the wine list.  Restaurants should have amazing food and presentation.  But what if you want to start your meal with an awesome glass of wine and make your food selection based on the wine?


The Napa Valley Vintners organization released its “2015 Napa Valley Wine List Award” to recognize restaurants that support great local wines (the list isn’t short – we are talking Napa Valley). Cheers!