October 2009 Archives

By Courtney Cochran

A proverbial bomb dropped in the wine world late last week when online sales giant Amazon.com notified erstwhile winery partners it would no longer be getting into the online wine sales business. Reactions to the news ranged from astonished to relieved, with many speculating the cause of the ouster can be traced to fulfillment partner New Vine Logistics' recent bankruptcy and pressure from the government to prevent so-called third-party wine sales.

PRESS RELEASE: Petroni Receives Top Awards

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petroniWine.jpgFive of the six wines produced by Petroni Vineyards have received top awards from the prestigious 2009 Tasters Guild International Wine Judging Competition that took place this summer in Washington DC.
 
The Poggio alla Pietra, Petroni's flagship Brunello di Sonoma, was awarded the highest honor of Double Gold.

If there is a wine whose pants should come off, surely it is the Brunello di Sonoma.  It is big and come-hither, a full-blown Rubens of a wine, with a bouquet of cherry whipped into shape by a little leather and tobacco.  Rich as a velvet curtain.

The Cabernet Sauvignon was awarded a Gold Medal.

A layered bouquet of red bell pepper, chocolate, and crushed black cherries with subtle oak nuances.  Ruby red, silky and elegant, for years to come.

While the Sauvignon Blanc, Rosso di Sonoma and Syrah all received Silver Medals.

About Petroni Vineyards
Fabulous Tuscan-style wines & organic olive oil. Unique award winning private estate wines, including Brunello di Sonoma, developed by San Francisco North Beach Restaurant's owner. Visit Petroni Vineyards in Sonoma on the beautifully terraced hillsides of the Mayacamas Mountains that boast majestic views. Call for tasting appointments! Visit online to order wines and holiday specials. 

Nouveau Sips: Wines to Savor in 2010

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By Courtney Cochran

Let's face it: the recession taught us many of things, perhaps the most important: you've got to appreciate the small things in life. And with 2009 drawing to a close, we can all look forward a renewed perspective (not to mention uptrending economic indicators, whew!) in the new year. To go along with this reinvigorated view of things, we offer the following ten wines that are destined to be hot in 2010. Because if another thing is altogether clear as we head out of this strange era: wine is and always will be a hallmark of the good times. And, it's time for each and every one of us to start living the good life again.

So go on: The little things in life are beckoning - and go down swell with a swill of some excellent vino

Back Room Battle

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Back Room Wines 10.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

The film Bottle Shock tells the tale of the 1976 "Judgment of Paris," where California wines beat out their French counterparts in a widely publicized blind tasting.  This week in Napa, three local merlots go head to head against three from Bordeaux at Back Room Wines' Thursday night tasting event. It won't be blind, but it will be delicious.

Top Wine Faults & How To Deal

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By Courtney Cochran

We've all been there before: The wine you've ordered arrives at your table at the chichi restaurant and smells...wrong. You're not sure what's behind the malodorous scent, but you're quite sure it smacks of your Aunt Edna's moldy attic. You're desperate to send it back, but nervous the "dirty attic" excuse will come off as uninformed, inadequate and pathetically incorrect all at once. But take heart, worrisome wino: there is a method to the madness of decoding wine faults (as usual, we've got you covered).

Because no one - your Aunt Edna perhaps excluded - should have to suffer through the unpleasantness of a mold-imbued wine.

Boo Worthy Wines

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by Courtney Cochran

dessertWine1.jpgIn a curious twist of linguistic fate, some decidedly frightening-sounding statements have been lately transformed into vehicles of praise. Mostly refashioned, as far as I can tell, by loquacious members of the surfer/skater culture prevalent in California, the phrases run the gamut of topics and references, but given the time of year I've singled out two that undoubtedly invoke Halloween.

A sampling: .

"These [insert noun in the plural form] are scary good!"

Translation: These [things] are delicious.

"That [insert noun] was wicked bad."
Translation: That [thing] was very cool/extremely impressive. (Note: True to the ironic spirit of this group, the use of two negative descriptors - "wicked" and "bad" - in this one makes it all that much more complimentary.

And so, to borrow a page from this verbally adventuresome sub-culture, I'd like to say that the following sweet wines are scary good, and that serving them on Halloween this year would be wicked bad of you.





Crush 2009: Harvest of Love

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crush.JPGBy Courtney Cochran

The mood at the Napa Valley Vintners 2009 annual harvest report Monday, October 12 at San Francisco's Waterbar Restaurant was decidedly upbeat.  Almost giddy with the news, Honig Vineyards Winemaker Kristin Belair announced that she had actually had time to watch the Giants beat the Dodgers during harvest time this year - in person. Equally thrilled with the unusually mild year and mellow harvest, Judd's Hill's Judd Finkelstein announced proudly - if a little incredulously - that he'd even had time to take his daughter to the circus last Saturday.
CharbayPosterScan CroppedPostcard 4x6.jpgCharbay makes wines? Wines, Ports & a new Green Tea Aperitif. Miles is a 12th generation winemaker/master distiller from Yugoslavia. Trained in Europe as an Enologist & Viticulturist, it's what comes naturally to him and now to his son, Marko Karakasevic, too. Miles' life is a multi chaptered story with all that has happened since leaving his homeland. These days he lives beside his winery & distillery on top of Spring Mountain where he ferments, distills & bottles the unusual with the usual.

After he left his home, he studied in Geisenheim before heading to Canada where he was a chemist & a diver for Uniroyal. He was brought into America as an enologist to make wine in Michigan. There he met his wife, Susan, and they headed to California in 1970. He made wines & champagnes for United Vintners in Madera & Escalon California, (the company that owned Italian Swiss Colony). He fermented in one week as much wine as Napa Valley used to make in a year. Those were his big tank years.

Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Repeat

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By Deirdre Bourdet

tastingParty.jpgWine tasting parties always seem like such a fun, good idea, particularly this time of year as the evenings get chillier, and harvest-themed wine events get pricier.  If only someone else would throw one... but actually, hosting a wine-tasting is a snap when you keep it simple.

Step 1: Pick a tasting theme--like oak vs. no oak Chardonnay, Napa vs. Sonoma, Old World vs. New World, or some other contest fraught with passion and potential conflict.  If you need thematic inspiration, or suggestions for generally-available wines at all price points that are good examples of regional or stylistic wines, check out Great Wine Made Simple by Andrea Immer (now known as Andrea Immer Robinson). 

Winemaker Wednesdays in Santa Cruz

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Press Release

shadowbrookRestaurant.jpgSANTA CRUZ, CA - In an effort to promote wines produced in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Capitola's landmark Shadowbrook Restaurant is offering Winemaker Wednesdays, featuring half-price wines from the appellation now through May.

Each week Shadowbrook will be featuring two to four wines from a Santa Cruz Mountains winery, offered by the bottle or glass.  Wednesdays, beginning at 5p.m. a representative of that week's winery will offer tastings and information from a table set up in the restaurant's Rockroom Lounge.

That night all wines from the week's winery, whether ordered in the bar or dining room, by the glass or bottle, will be 50 percent off the regular price.  Featured wines will also be available in flights (about 2.5 oz, also half-price), accompanied by complimentary appetizer.

Wine Tasting with Robert M. Parker Jr.

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ciaParker.jpgST. HELENA, CA - Great news for wine enthusiasts anticipating the tasting of the 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape vintage at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone with Robert M. Parker, Jr. Three more wines have been added to the flight, making a total of 21 wines from this excellent vintage to be tasted. This annual event has generated an endowment in excess of $1 million for Wine Advocate scholarships for the CIA's Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies. This year's tasting is scheduled for Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. at the CIA's Napa Valley campus.

When Parker first reviewed the 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape wines, he awarded them ratings in the mid to high 90s. According to Parker, "the entire vintage will be very long-lived given the extraordinary balance in the wines. (And) given this quality, the high demand and limited supply from these producers makes 2007 one of the most collectible vintages in recent memory."
PH-Oppenlander-06.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

In the world of wine as we know it, few winemakers have followed so circuitous a route to oenophilia as Toby Hill, owner/winemaker for Phillips-Hill Estates in Philo. A California native who grew up in Manhattan before returning to the Bay Area for high school, then heading back to New York to pursue a successful career as an artist and ultimately settling down in Mendocino, Hill literally began making wine on a whim when a friend gave him several bottles of unfinished wine one harvest. Several years later, the self-taught winemaker is turning heads with his extremely limited, Burgundian-style Pinots made from Mendo's emerging comptche sub-region. Read on for notes on my favorite of his current offerings.

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