The Sarah Jane English Newsletter: 114th Edition
February 2012

                                                             "Be fair, laugh often and eat your broccoli and blueberries." Sarah Jane English

 

RED WINES for VALENTINES (listed alphabetically): MAYACAMAS 2006 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon $65 or SHAFER 2008 Napa Relentless $60

TOP PICKS OF THE MONTH (prices vary store to store) $Best Buy

WINERY OF THE MONTH: RUSSIAN HILL Estate Winery: Russian Hill Estate is a family owned and operated winery in the heart of the Russian River Valley—a place certain grapes call paradise.  The utmost care from vineyard to bottle is used at Russian Hill where the owners are dedicated to world-class Pinot Noir and Syrah. The key idea is that excellence in viticulture makes excellence in wines: Their wines prove the point.  Edward Gomez and Ellen Mack established Russian Hill in 1997 after an intensive search for the appropriate site--land capable of producing outstanding estate vineyards with space to build a winery; thereby having full control of both the vineyard and wine production.  "Russian Hill’s Estate Vineyards provide a rich source of Pinot Noir from various soil types and clones. Tara Vineyard, located adjacent to our winery on an easterly facing slope of alluvial clay, was planted to Dijon clone 115 in 1998. Sunny View Vineyard, planted to Pommard and Dijon clones 667 and 777 in 1999, is located to our southeast in the Santa Rosa Plain region of the Russian River Valley. The soil there is a combination of clay and sand and the climate is foggier and somewhat cooler than at Tara Vineyard. Both vineyards have slowly been brought to maturity and irrigation is minimized to ensure concentration of flavors and aim for eventual dry farming. The 2008 growing season was remarkable for a very cold and very dry spring requiring frequent use of frost protection systems. The summer fogs were less frequent than normal producing somewhat warmer weather and therefore some earlier harvests. The grapes for our Estate Vineyards Pinot noir were harvested on September 2nd and 3rd, at brix ranging from 24.7 to 24.9 and very low yield of 2.26 tons per acre
  Russian Hill Estate 2008 Leras Vineyard Pinot Noir (14.6 alc.) has received an abundant number of medals and accolades (so have the Estate and Tara Vineyard wines) and gives the evidence of this successful wine producer.  "Our Leras Pinot  is 'classic styled' and is true to form in the vintage 2008. Whether due to the vineyard’s older, heritage clone or its cooler and lower location, this wine is typically Old World in style. On the nose, there are aromas of mushroom, sassafras and pomegranate. The palate has flavors of raspberry and earth and the wine has a refreshing briskness.  It aged in 100% French oak (45% new) for 16 months .  Leras Vineyard is owned and farmed by Nick Leras whose family members are pioneer grape growers in the Russian River Valley, having farmed winegrapes in this area since 1918.  Nick personally tends to his grapes and performs all aspects of grape growing including vine propagation and field budding. The vineyard is planted to the heritage Martini clone and has been slowly brought to maturity.  The vineyard is dry farmed and the trellising is a modified Scott Henry system, which provides excellent balance to vines grown in richer, low lying soil.  After sorting, the grapes were gently destemmed into small, custom designed open top fermenters and kept below 50°F for a five day cold soak. Tanks were then individually warmed to allow fermentation to take place in a timely manner followed by cooling as needed to maintain temperatures below 85°F.  Thrice daily pneumatic punch downs took place during the cold soak and fermentation. Once dry, the wine was gently pressed in a membrane press keeping free run and press fractions separate.  Malolactic fermentation took place in oak barrels. Ellen Mack is a precise and hard working co-owner that devotes her time and abilities to helping make these wines excellent.   Their Leras and Tara vineyard-designated wines have very limited production (220 to 300 cases) and are well worth the search.
SPLURGE WINE OF THE MONTH: KENWOOD ARTIST SERIES 2007 CABERNET SAUVIGNON (93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec, 3% Merlot) $70. DAVE KINSEY’S ART TRANSCENDS: Kenwood Vineyards created the Artist Series in 1978 with a simple idea – handcraft the finest possible Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon and bottle each vintage with a unique label featuring a work of fine art. The 1975 Kenwood Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon showcased a drawing produced expressly for the label by famed poster artist David Lance Goines, and subsequent Artist Series vintages have featured works by Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, Sam Francis, Paul Klee, Wayne Thiebaud, Shepard Fairey and Sylvia Ji.  The 2007 Kenwood Vineyards Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon label features “Kenwood Rose”, a work created specially for Kenwood Vineyards by artist Dave Kinsey combining the art of fine wine and the art of illustration in a presentation that transcends the boundaries of both.
Although a Cabernet Sauvignon label is an unlikely canvas for Dave Kinsey’s paintings, Kenwood Vineyards 2007 Artist Series captures the bold multi-layered complexities typically found in his body of work.  Born in Pittsburgh in 1971, Kinsey attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and the Art Institute of Atlanta before moving to California in 1994 to further his career as a designer and fine artist. Vastly accomplished, he founded BLK/MRKT Gallery (now Kinsey/DesForges) in 2001 to provide a nexus for exciting art and artists to bring the artistic integrity of advertising back to life.  An artist whose paintings have been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide, Kinsey utilizes a range of mediums to create textured works that reflect the convolution of contemporary life.  With “Kenwood Rose”, Kinsey uses expressive brushstrokes in this charged illustration while remaining true to his bold color palette of reds and blacks.
Kenwood Vineyards always selects the best vineyards lots for its Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon and in the outstanding 2007 vintage, many of those lots came from Alexander Valley in Sonoma County’s northeastern corner. The vineyard lots were fermented individually in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and after gentle pressing and racking, the young wines were moved into small oak barrels – 82% French and 18% American – to age for 28 months. Individual barrels were then selected for inclusion in the 2007 Artist Series. The superb character of the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon barrels kept blending to a minimum; the 2007 Kenwood Artist Series assemblage includes just 4% Malbec (for plum fruit and spice) and 3% Merlot (for mint complexity and smoothness). Following bottling, the 2007 Kenwood Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon was cellared at the winery for 18 months prior to release.
The deeply colored 2007 Kenwood Vineyards Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon immediately impresses with intense yet elegant aromas of cassis, plum, mint and forest floor that evolve in the glass with aeration. Cassis and plum also dominate the concentrated flavors, accented by generous mint and cedar complexity. The intense flavors are complemented by impressive mouthfeel – rich yet not heavy, structured yet polished. Integrated tannins and generous acidity contribute to the long, smooth finish, and suggest this already delicious Artist Series Cabernet will continue to evolve with cellaring.
Like Kinsey’s extraordinary paintings, each vintage of the Artist Series has become a true collectible and the 2007 Kenwood Vineyards Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon promises to continue this tradition. A total of just 1,740 cases were produced. It is available in selected markets nationally at a suggested retail of $70.
RED WINES for Valentines--

NEWS

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COCOA PURO WHOLE BEAN CHOCOLATE:These chocolates are from a small family business that makes really good chocolate.  Your Valentine will love you for bringing a gift of KAKAWA COCOA BEANS created Tom Pederson.  “We source some of the world’s finest cocoa beans, then roast them, cover them in a layer of white chocolate, then a layer of milk chocolate, then a layer of dark chocolate and then brush them with cocoa powder, “ Tom says.  The finished chocolate piece is five of the best chocolates in one bite.   $28 for 12 oz. --about 100 moments of bliss.”  www.cocoapuro.com    The chocolates can be found at Central Market, Whole Foods, and many other locations.

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WINE INSTITUTE, the trade association of 1,000 California wineries, has redesigned and expanded its website, DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com, for consumers to experience California’s iconic landmarks, vistas, cuisine, and lifestyle linked to its wines.  The site promotes California wine and hopes to increase tourism to the Golden State’s wine regions.
“California is a top wine and food destination,” reports Visit California Travel and Tourism Commission, indicating that the state’s uniqueness from other U.S. culinary destinations because of its 80,000 restaurants, 3,400 wineries and 400 crops—making it the nation’s top agricultural state.  Travel Industry Association reports 27 million Americans engage in luxury wine and food experiences while traveling.         
California is the fourth leading wine producer in the world and produces 90 percent of all wine made in the U.S.--shipping a record high 200 million cases in the U.S. in 2010.  U.S. wine exports, 90 percent from California, also reached a record in 2010, with $1.14 billion in winery revenues.  Wine Institute continues to offer member and industry information on its activities at www.wineinstitute.org.

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SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE WINE COMPETITION (SFCWC), largest competition of American wines in the world, announced  “Annual Public Tasting, 2012”: More than 300 wineries will pour award-winning wines at the Annual Public Tasting held February 18, 2012 at Fort Mason Center’s Festival Pavilion in San Francisco.  This popular event encourages learning about new wines.    
WHAT: San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Public Tasting
WHEN: Saturday, February 18, 2012
WHERE: Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
TIME: 2pm – 5pm
COST: $50 Stocking Stuffer promotion until Dec. 31, 2011; $65 Advance Purchase; $80 at the door (if admittance is available)
INFO: For tickets and information, visit www.winejudging.com.

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Event: DIVINO TUSCANY 2012
Date/Time: May 17- 20, 2012
Location: Florence, Tuscany.
Description: One-of-a-kind, 4-day celebration of the best Tuscan wines, food and culture. Divino Tuscany highlights premium wines tastings with Tuscany’s top winemakers, and luncheons and dinners prepared by Michelin-starred chefs.  Participating winemakers include Marchesi Antinori, Frescobaldi, Mazzei, Ricasoli, Il Borro, Petrolo and Castello Banfi, and more.
Tickets: The Full Pass Package for Divino Tuscany is €1900 per person, including applicable VAT/IVA. Readers may purchase event tickets online at http://divinotuscany.com/tickets.html
General Inquiries:
IMG Artists UK / Divino Tuscany
Phone: +44 (0)20 7957 5800;  Fax: +44 (0)20 7957 5801
Email: info@divinotuscany.com
Website: www.divinotuscany.com

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CANCUN HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS Receive AAA FIVE DIAMOND AWARDS:  Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau reported that seven Cancun hotels and restaurants received AAA Five Diamond Award for 2012, a thorough and trusted rating systems for restaurants and lodgings in the U.S.  Five Diamond status is the highest award level and only 0.3% of all properties evaluated are awarded.
With these winning properties, Cancun is in the top spot amongst cities outside the U.S.-- highest of any other international destination ranked.
Cancun's AAA Five Diamond Award-Winning Properties:
The Ritz-CarltonCancun–
Le Blanc Spa Resort –
JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa – 
ZoëtryParaiso de la Bonita -  
Fantino– Located in the Ritz-Carlton
The Club Grill – Also in the Ritz-Carlton
Le Basilic – Located in the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun Resort and Spa, 
Cancun, in the southeastern Mexican state of Quintana Roo, is Mexico's number one tourist destination.  It’s shoreline recently underwent a $71 Million Dollar makeover that featured 1.3 billion gallons of sand to renovate the Hotel Zone's seashore.  Cancun is a multifaceted destination that combines nature, historical Mayan Culture, world-class tourism and gastronomical magic. For information, please see www.cancun.travel. http://www.facebook.com/cancuncvb browse videos on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/cancuntravel

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AMERICAN WINE SOCIETY (AWS) 2012 NATIONAL CONFERENCE: AWS, the nation’s largest wine consumers’ organization, selected Portland, OR for its annual conference.  AWS executive director John Hames said, “Portland, centrally located near Oregon and Washington wine regions, is the perfect destination to enjoy wine, amazing scenery, abundant locally grown foods and a wide variety of wonderful wines.”
The conference, November 8 through 10, features tasting sessions of wines from throughout the wine world with wine-pairing meals, a sparkling wine breakfast, and a grand banquet.  The complete agenda will be announced next summer.
Founded in 1967, AWS is the oldest and largest consumer-based U.S. organization dedicated to promoting wine appreciation through education. It is a non-profit of 4,200 wine enthusiasts, from novice to expert, in 125 chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada. Membership is open to any adult interested in wine.  Please visit: http://www.americanwinesociety.org.

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Ag Day will be celebrated March 8, 2012: Organized by the Agriculture Council of America, Ag Day reminds Americans that agriculture is truly amazing—providing our nation with a safe, sustainable and bountiful food supply. Please see:  http://www.agday.org/media/pr2.php and www.agday.org

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Austin FOOD & WINE Festival, April 27 – 29, 2012; After 26 years as the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival, Austin’s oldest food and wine organization has transitioned to become Austin Food & Wine Allianace (AFWA), a non-profit dedicated to awareness and innovation in the Central Texas culinary community including food, wine, spirits and craft brews.
As the designated beneficiary of the new Austin FOOD & WINE Festival, the AFWA will give back to the community through a vibrant grant program to fund projects focused on culinary innovation. Additionally, the Alliance will feature educational programming and culinary events showcasing Central Texas’ chef talent along with artisan and local producers, world-class wine and spirit makers and craft brewers.  To lead into the inaugural Austin FOOD & WINE Festival, April 27 - 29, the AFWA will showcase top local and guest chefs, ingredients and techniques with a return of the popular
Live Fire!, Thursday, April 26 — a meat-centric live-fire cooking event which debuted last April and was one of Austin’s most popular and provocative culinary events. In this unforgettable and tasty encore, Live Fire! features the best in sizzling proteins, cooking craftsmanship along with wine and beer tastings at the famed Salt Lick Pavilion on the banks of Onion Creek in the Texas Hill Country. 

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VISIT THE LONDON INTERNATIONAL WINE FAIR MAY 22-24 2012:  A visit to the London International Wine Fair (LIWF ) will show that there are discoveries yet to be made in the wine world.  Each year, buyers gather from all over the world to meet, greet, and return home armed with the latest in trends and discoveries from the LIWFair.  This coming May 2012 brings more of the best including premiere tastings with winemakers Serge Hochar from Chateau Musar, Dave Powell from Torbreck, Nicolas Joly of Coulee de Serrant, and Pierre Seillan from Vérité, Chateau Lassegue and Arcanum.  LIWF’s world-class master classes provides a chance to explore with many of the world's leading producers and industry visionaries.
The fair is free to attend for qualified trade only: importers, merchants, producers, agents, restaurateurs, sommeliers, and wholesalers. 
Register at http://www.londonwinefair.com/content/visiting/register-to-visit/
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Tickets for the 12th Annual World of Pinot Noir are on-sale. Our Grand Tastings by the Sea take place on Friday, March 2nd and Saturday, March 3rd, 2012 at the Cliffs Resort in Shell Beach, CA from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. This year we are adding more winery participants to our Friday Grand Tasting due to demand. Expect about 100 winery participants both days!
Link to WOPN Tickets webpage: http://wopn.com/store.html

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WINTER GETAWAYS to California Wine Country, Winter Offers Great Travel Deals and Hands-On Wine Country Experiences
Winter is a great time to visit the California wine country.  Hotel rates are at their lowest, wineries are quiet, visits relaxing and chances are you’ll meet the artisans who make the wines.   And with 114 distinct wine regions growing more than 100 grape varieties, a diverse range of wines entice wine lovers on any budget.
There are hands-on winery activities, festivals and travel packages. To learn more about California wine country and up-to-the minute information on events and activities visit www.discovercaliforniawines.com.
About Wine Institute
Wine Institute is the association of more than 1,000 California wineries and wine-related businesses dedicated to public policy advocacy and to enhancing the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine.  California is the fourth largest wine producer in the world, making 90 percent of all U.S. wine and two out of every three bottles enjoyed in the U.S.  Each year, nearly 20 million tourists visit wine regions throughout the state to explore and enjoy the wines, the cuisine and cultural offerings associated with California’s signature industry.  Visit www.discovercaliforniawines.com for more information.

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The Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) issued figures that confirm Cognac’s healthy position in 2011 with growth of 6.4% compared to 2010. Cognac broke its previous records in terms of volume and value.  According to the BNIC, all involved in the production of Cognac applaud the excellent results but remain vigilant about continuing programs to assure future success. 

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Austin Chef Sonya Coté’s plans to open Hillside Farmacy Eatery & Grocery, an artisanal eatery and speciality grocery store in East Austin in March 2012 at 1209 East 11th Street.   The Hillside Farmacy Eatery menu offers seasonal breakfast, lunch and dinner items, house-made charcuterie, pâté and condiments, fresh breads, and the Hillside Grocery will be filled with most pantry products and easy to grab food items to fix at home."      Hillside Farmacy will also feature a full bar, retro soda fountain, specialty tea service and coffees from Stumptown Coffee Roasters in the cozy confines of the 2000 square foot throwback dispensary. A website for the soon-to-open, community-driven bistro can be seen now at HillSideFarmacy.com.
     "The things we are striving for and doing with local food are based on community and involvement," said Coté. "It's creating art born from a compulsion and obsession that you want to see grow and involve your friends and family. The local food is the part that really makes it all work" 

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EARTH DAY FESTIVAL: The 6th annual Earth Day Food & Wine Festival is a weekend celebration of all that's best on the Central Coast.  The main event is Saturday's Earth Day Food & Wine Tasting at Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery.  Over 200 purveyors of sustainably produced foods and wine will be on hand for a truly unique event: growers, vintners, and chefs coming together to serve out-of-this-world pairings of award-winning wines with one-of-a-kind dishes made with locally-sourced fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, olive oils, chocolates, and more.  Trust us, you won't go hungry!  Top it all off with live music, dancing, and more, and we think you'll see that for a bunch of farmers dedicated to sustainability and nurturing the earth, we sure know how to throw one heck of a party.   For information: please see  Earth Day Food and Wine Festival!

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TEA TIME in ATLANTA: It’s time for tea at The St. Regis Atlanta where the tradition of Afternoon Tea is a daily affair.
Started by Mrs. John Jacob Astor, III,  mother of St. Regis founder John Jacob Astor IV, Afternoon Tea is an enduring tradition found in each St. Regis address worldwide. Guests of The St. Regis Atlanta are invited to partake in fine teas paired with savory petite sandwiches, freshly baked scones, pastries and petit fours, all presented with impeccable service by signature St. Regis Butlers in tuxedos and white gloves. 
Tailored to the season, each tea presentation varies by the month: whimsical May Mad Hatter Tea, charitable October In the Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Tea, lyrical February Poetry Tea, style-savvy September Fashion Tea and festive December Holiday Teas.  
Enjoy the best of southern hospitality at Atlanta’s only in-town resort located in elegant Buckhead. The AAA Five Diamond St. Regis Atlanta imparts the feeling of being in a grand private home.  Afternoon Tea is served daily from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. $40 for adults; $44 for Celebration Tea which includes a glass of sparkling wine; $22 for children 12 and under.

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SHANNON RIDGE Vineyards & Winery is 2011 Hot Wine Brand: Shannon Ridge was singled out by Jon Fredrikson (of wine industry consulting firm Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates) as one of ten “Hot California Wineries in 2011." The SHANNON RIDGE portfolio has the Single Vineyard Collection and the Ranch Collection; of which the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon won DOUBLE GOLD at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc won GOLD MEDAL at the 2011 Dallas Morning News—as well as TexSom, Riverside International, and Critics Challenge Wine Competitions. Shannon Ridge has certified sustainable vineyards known for the woolly compost machines – a flock of 1,000 sheep, complete with shepherds and sheepdogs. The sheep do an excellent job of canopy management and leaf removal, and pick the vineyard clean after harvest. They manage the spring cover crop and help reduce fire danger in the surrounding hills. The Shannons preserve their land not only for vineyard sites, but also for the bear, elk, mountain lions, eagles and other creatures that live there. Of the approximately 1,400 acres on the ranch, only about 35% have been converted to vineyards.   s.

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ALASKA:  Alaska’s unusually snowy winter has been making national news. The silver lining? All that snow means winter sports opportunities of historic proportions. That’s good news for outdoor recreation of all kinds, from snowmobiling to snowshoeing and skiing. To plan your Alaska winter adventure, visit www.travelalaska.com.

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J VINEYARDS & WINERY ATTAINS CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE STATUS: J Wines, specialists in Russian River Valley sparkling and varietal wines, is helping make Sonoma Country a little greener.  California Sustainable Winegrowers Alliance (CSWA) has certified J VINEYARDS & WINERY as sustainable in all vineyard and winery operations.  "Reducing, reusing and recycling is not just a slogan at J," says Judy Jordan, founder and president.  "This vision for J has been mine since its founding 25 years ago.  The business practices we've implemented over the past three years are key to a healthier future."

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NEW RELEASES (quotes are winemakers' comments, price varies store to store)

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ELYSSIA sparkling rosé from Freixenet: "Sparkling rosés are ideal for most meals.  A rosé offers enough structure and body to stand up to some heavier flavors while not overpowering the more delicate dishes.   Bubbles also serve as a palate cleanser, toning down the heat from spicy foods while cutting through rich, fatty flavors to refresh for your next bite.  Elyssia Pinot Noir Brut (SRP $18) is a méthode champenoise sparkling rosé from Spain.  The premier Spanish wine house of Freixenet blends century old tradition with innovative flavor to create a rosé sensation to charm the palate.  A blend of classic Pinot Noir with just a touch of the Spanish grape Trepat, Elyssia is graced by elegant aromas of ripe raspberries and blackberries.  Accompanied by a fruit forward palate, notes of red currant and cherries are balanced by acidity, resulting in a remarkable soft, attractive finish.

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JERRY LOHR was among an early handful of pioneers who realized the vast, untapped potential of this now-acclaimed California wine region with the establishment of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines.   Today, J. LOHR includes more than 900 acres of cool-climate estate vineyards in Monterey County, with an emphasis on Chardonnay, Riesling, Valdiguié and Pinot Noir, 2,000 acres in Paso Robles dedicated to Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Petite Sirah and other red varietals, and 33 acres in Napa Valley, highlighting Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc.  From this rich and diverse palette of sustainably farmed estate fruit, J. Lohr crafts wines showcasing bold, concentrated flavors and a vibrant sense of place. The winery offers several tiers of award-winning wines – J. Lohr Estates, J. Lohr Vineyard Series and J. Lohr Cuvée Series.  J. Lohr remains one of the few estate-focused wineries of its size, and one of the last substantial independents to benefit from the longevity of management and the passion of a second generation of family members. Though it is operated with the loving care of a boutique winery, J. Lohr welcomes guests at two wine centers, one in San Jose and another in Paso Robles.

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KENWOOD VINEYARDS 2010 Pinot Noir, Russian River $16 (13.5% alc): "Pinot Noir should be smooth and elegant, but too often wines from this finicky grape don’t deliver. While the reasons vary, many are sabotaged by winemaking that puts power, structure and oak ahead of the grape’s inimitable charm. The just released 2010 Kenwood Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir combines classic Pinot Noir character with easy-drinking style, thanks to winemaking tailored to bring out the grape’s best.  Kenwood Vineyards sources Pinot Noir from vineyards in the cool Russian River Valley, and the unusually long, unusually cool 2010 growing season produced grapes of impressive fruit and natural balance. To showcase those attributes, a small but significant portion of the harvest was whole-berry fermented, a technique that emphasizes berry character, eliminates tannins and adds spice nuances. The primary component was fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Then both components were transferred into one, two and three-year-old French oak barrels to age for 11 months before blending and bottling. The seasoned barrels impart modest oak character (far less than new barrels) and enhance the young wine’s polished texture.   The full, forward aromas of the 2010 Kenwood Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir harmoniously blend cherry, boysenberry, lavender, nutmeg and earth notes. Fresh strawberry, cherry and boysenberry flavors gain complexity from a subtle hint of cinnamon.   Sumptuous yet silky smooth, this impressive Pinot Noir culminates in a balanced, lingering finish. Delicious on its own or paired with wide range of foods, it is a wine that invites second and third glasses. A generous 37,700 cases of 2010 Kenwood Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir were produced. It is available nationally at a suggested retail of $16.  Established in 1970 in the Sonoma Valley, Kenwood Vineyards produces premium wines that showcase the world-class quality and character of Sonoma County vineyards.

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pureCru Celebrating 30 years of winemaking, Mitch Cosentino launched pureCru Napa Valley, a small producer of wines designed to accompany fine world cuisine.    pureCru Napa Valley began as what Cosentino refers to as “a winemakers wine project”, and has evolved into a venture that takes Cosentino back to his roots.  “I had been reminiscing about a small, hands-on entity where I could do it all myself again, like I did in the beginning.”

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RELENTLESS by SHAFER
"Our 2008 Relentless is sourced from a rugged, remote estate vineyard that delivers consistently full, luscious aromas and flavors and a growing season that is one of the finest we've seen. The vintage gave us somewhat smaller clusters, so while there is less of this wine to go around, we believe you'll be pleased with what you'll find in the bottle."
Winemakers notes
"The 2008 is like midnight in a glass. With abundant aromas and flavors of juicy purple fruit, smoked meat, spice, smoke, black plums and berry, it hugs the line between extract and elegance. In the mouth it's full and seamless from first taste through the long finish," writes Shafer winemaker Elias Fernandez.
"This wine honors long-time Shafer Winemaker Elias Fernandez and his relentless pursuit of quality. Sourced from small ridgetop and foothills vineyards adjacent to the southern border of Stags Leap District, the grapes for Relentless are a 'field blend' of Syrah and Petite Sirah. This means it's a wine that is literally blended in the vineyard.  At harvest the two grape varieties are picked, crushed, fermented and barrel aged as one.  The grapes are grown in vineyard blocks that offer a variety of sun exposures throughout the day, including steep eastern blocks for lots of morning sun and westward sloping blocks, offering midday and late day solar exposure. Thanks to its thin, volcanic soil and quick runoff the vineyard consistently delivers effusive flavors.  Relentless is a wine that is literally blended in the vineyard. At harvest the Syrah and Petite Sirah varieties are picked, crushed, fermented and barrel aged together.

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VALLEY OF THE MOON 2010 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay $16 (13.5%):  Traditionally styled Chardonnay is a union between fresh, vibrant fruit and the rich, toasty nuances of small barrel fermentation and aging—without one dominating the other.  This wine is traditional Chardonnay at its appealing best.  In the very cool 2010 growing season, the vineyards produced grapes with bold varietal fruit and fine balance, which were whole-cluster pressed with 94% juice fermented in small French and Eastern European oak barrels and the rest concurrently fermented and stored in stainless steel.  The two components were blended for the finished wine. This wine has full, forward aromas of baked apple, peach, pear, lemon, vanilla and cream with similar, medium-bodied flavors accented by toasty oak nuances. The rich, expansive mouthfeel is balanced by moderate natural acidity to give a long, polished finish.  Valley of the Moon Winery hosts visitors daily.  In addition to Chardonnay, the winery produces Pinot Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Rosato di Sangiovese and Cuvée de la Luna, a Bordeaux-inspired blend.

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GHOST PINES 2010 Winemaker's Blend Chardonnay $20: For Winemaker Michael Eddy, the goal is finding the best grapes, regardless of appellation.  Michael says, "The vineyards don't know where the county lines are."  He looks for grapes that will showcase layers of varietal flavor in the bottle.  A self-proclaimed foodie, Michael nurtures his passion for all things epicurean. At home, he makes his own cheese and bakes his own bread.  At Ghost Pines, he experiments with grapes from different vineyards to bring forth the rich fruit flavors that make our wines so memorable. So, it's no coincidence that every bottle of Ghost Pines goes hand-in-hand with great food.  "Ghost Pines 2009 Chardonnay possesses expressive fruit-forward characters, the result of sourcing only Premium fruit from three of California's most recognized Chardonnay appellations: Sonoma, Monterey and Napa Counties. Modern winemaking techniques allow this wine to express characters of baked apple, pear and lemon cream accented by an elegant and sweet vanilla finish." (Origin: 60% Sonoma County, 18% Monterey County, 22% Napa County)

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MAYACAYMAS' present offerings include two must haves: the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon.  Winemaker and owner Bob Travers lives with his family and grapes on Mt. Veeder--a very favorite place of mine for growing excellent wines in Napa Valley.  The view is magnificant too, at 2000 feet above sea level in Western Napa County.  The soil is thin, rocky, and volcanic and produces small, intensely flavored grapes.  Mild summers and wet, cold winters magnify these characteristics.  Bob takes his home and work seriously.  No wimps here, just handsome wines you can enjoy layer after layer.

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SIMI: Simi is based on tradition, enhanced with cutting-edge innovation.  Our philosophy is to maintain the quality and style that have defined SIMI for decades while also learning and applying improved methods that fit our winery's 125-year history.  Long ago we realized the significance of Alexander Valley for growing Bordeaux varietals. Today we showcase the region with our Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as well as our vineyard-designated Landslide Cabernet Sauvignon.  In 1989 we purchased our Russian River Valley Goldfields Vineyard and planted it to hand-selected original cuttings from some of the best and oldest vineyards in California.  This innovative technique gives us the amazing diversity of flavors that has made Simi's Russian River Reserve Chardonnay famous.  With every taste of Simi wines you'll discover our devotion to tradition that is enhanced by our pursuit of the best vineyards, the best grape-growing methods, and the best winemaking techniques.

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EBERLE Winery: Owner and winemaker Gary Eberle began his wine career in 1973 by heading his family’s Estrella River Winery in Paso Robles (now Meridian).   Eberle’s pioneering spirit urged him to open his own Eberle Winery with the premiere of his 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon and to co-found the Paso Robles Appellation in 1983.  Today, Eberle handcrafts 25,000 cases of wine annually from his surrounding estate vineyards and his wines consistently remain one of the highest award-winning wineries in the United States. In 1994, Eberle wanted additional space for the red wine program and decided to go underground. “Today, 16,000 square feet of underground caves below the winery create the perfect place to age every bottle of wine we make,” he says.  The redwood building housing the Winery and Tasting Room was built to be a natural extension of the vineyard and surrounding countrysideGary is a friend of long standing and is as nice a human being as his bottles of wine are delicious!

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ROSA REGALE” Brachetto d’Acqui D.O.C.G. $20: “In 1979, Banfi proprietors John and Harry Mariani acquired Bruzzone--a mid-18th century winery.   They revitalized and renamed it Vigne Regali and here the winemakers make “Rosa Regale” Brachetto d’Acqui D.O.C.G., a semi-dry, red sparkling wine.  Rosa Regale is crafted from 100% brachetto grapes grown at the La Rosa Vineyard in Acqui Terme, a Piedmont town.  The single red rose label represents the wine’s origin from this single vineyard La Rosa estate. 

Rosa Regale has aromas of rose petals and flavors of raspberries and strawberries. Its effervescence yields a persistent and delicate pink froth.  Its has a lively color and is delicious served chilled.  The low alcohol content makes it a good partner throughout a meal and it pairs well with chocolate. 

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RED ROCK Winery 2012 Winemaker's Blend, California $14: The winemaker uses grapes from vineyards throughout California's premier appellations, with more than half of the grapes in the current vintage coming from Sonoma County.  We craft this wine with balance in mind, using a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. The Petite Sirah typically features small berries, resulting in a high skin to juice ratio to contribute an inky color and jammy fruit aromas and concentrated aromas of dark plum jam and blueberry.  Plush and balanced, this blend offers rich blackberry on the finish, with hints of spice and vanilla.  Pair with a wide range of foods, especially creamy pasta dishes, light desserts or mild cheeses.  Our Winemaker’s Blend exhibits concentrated aromas of dark berry jam and boysenberry, offering a plush mouthfeel with flavors of blackberry, light brown spice and vanilla.

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ROBERT MONDAVI developed appreciation for California’s coastal vineyards during decades of sourcing fruit from the region. In 1994, Robert Mondavi Private Selection wine was founded with this appreciation and a mission to draw fruit from North and Central Coast appellations to showcase the quality character of the grapes. The allure is simple: a winemaker can use the region's varietal versatility like an artist uses colors to create a memorable finished piece.  In this case, a high quality, affordable fine wine born.  Robert Mondavi Private Selection produces Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Fume Blanc, Syrah, Zinfandel and Riesling. These wines - from light and lively to full-bodied and concentrated - have approachable bright fruit expression and exceptional balance, as well as great depth and texture. All are crafted to be enjoyed upon release.  Experience the flavors of the emerging California coast with Robert Mondavi Private Selection wines.

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RUSSIAN HILL  Estate Winery: Russian Hill Estate is a family owned and operated winery in the heart of the Russian River Valley—a place certain grapes call paradise.  The utmost care from vineyard to bottle is used at Russian Hill where the owners are dedicated to world-class Pinot Noir and Syrah. The key idea is that excellence in viticulture makes excellence in wines: Their wines prove the point.  Edward Gomez and Ellen Mack established Russian Hill in 1997 after an intensive search for the appropriate site--land capable of producing outstanding estate vineyards with space to build a winery; thereby having full control of both the vineyard and wine production.   Russian Hill Estate 2008 Leras Vineyard Pinot Noir has received an abundant number of medals and accolades and gives the evidence of this successful wine producer.  "Our Leras Pinot  is 'classic styled' and is true to form in the vintage 2008. Whether due to the vineyard’s older, heritage clone or its cooler and lower location, this wine is typically Old World in style. On the nose, there are aromas of mushroom, sassafras and pomegranate. The palate has flavors of raspberry and earth and the wine has a refreshing briskness.  It aged in 100% French oak (45% new) for 16 months (14.6 alc.).  Leras Vineyard is owned and farmed by Nick Leras whose family members are pioneer grape growers in the Russian River Valley, having farmed winegrapes in this area since 1918.  Nick personally tends to his grapes and performs all aspects of grape growing including vine propagation and field budding. The vineyard is planted to the heritage Martini clone and has been slowly brought to maturity.  The vineyard is dry farmed and the trellising is a modified Scott Henry system, which provides excellent balance to vines grown in richer, low lying soil.  After sorting, the grapes were gently destemmed into small, custom designed open top fermenters and kept below 50°F for a five day cold soak. Tanks were then individually warmed to allow fermentation to take place in a timely manner followed by cooling as needed to maintain temperatures below 85°F.  Thrice daily pneumatic punch downs took place during the cold soak and fermentation. Once dry, the wine was gently pressed in a membrane press keeping free run and press fractions separate.  Malolactic fermentation took place in oak barrels.
© 2012 Sarah Jane English
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