All posts tagged: California Wine

Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay 2017

Growing up, I would hear stories from my parents about when they were dating. They reminisced about glorious sun-filled days drinking wine at the Robert Mondavi Winery while eating a picnic of crusty bread, fresh cracked crab, and crumbly aged cheese. It always sounded so romantic, so idyllic, so mouthwatering! When I was finally of age, I convinced my boyfriend at the time that we needed to go to Napa. It was as wonderful as it sounded, and the Robert Mondavi Winery stood as a glorious backdrop to this region with its California Mission style architecture, complete with bell tower. I think of Robert Mondavi Chardonnay as the classic California Chard. With a blend of 80% of the juice aged and fermented in New French Oak for 11 months, while 20% of it was in stainless steel. This is definitely an “oaky Chardonnay,” but it is also refined. Golden in tone, it had aromas of ripe pears and juicy pineapple. It tasted of lemon zest, with clean tropical fruit flavors, and a creamy texture. Paired …

Aja Vineyards Malibu Coast Syrah

Malibu is the epitome of California living. It’s known for gorgeous beaches and coastline stretching as far as the eye can see. It is synonymous with wealth and celebrity-lifestyles. However, only a couple of miles away from the coast, there is a completely different environment. The surf gives way to jagged cut canyons, filled with native flora and fauna. The curvy roads lumber past hiking trails and rustic mom and pop establishments. There are breathtaking views and a beautiful silence. This part of Malibu seems worlds away from the clogged freeways of Los Angeles in spite of its proximity. This part of Malibu is something special. This is where the Malibu AVA (American Viticulture Area) is located with 38 wineries registered under it. This area has hot days and cold nights, usually cooled off by the coastal fog – the perfect recipe for growing grapes. Aja Vineyards is among these wineries. First planted in 2007 with Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, the vineyard has grown to include Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and most recently, …

Featured Wine of the Week – Mumm Rosé Brut

Mumm Rosé Brut – what a delightful way to celebrate! ⁣⁣It has cheerful golden pink bubbles with rich, creamy red berry flavors created in the Méthode Traditionnelle process. I drank this over the weekend to celebrate my anniversary, but there were other reasons to celebrate: a socially distant visit from dear friends and the beginning of life slowly returning to normal as stores and restaurants open once again. ⁣⁣Mumm has been a long-time favorite of mine since visiting their stunning winery in Napa years ago. While their sparkling wines are the main attraction, the fine art gallery at the estate with historical photos of old Hollywood stole my heart. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

Cline Cellars – 2011 Live Oak Zinfandel

I’m finding this time in quarantine to be a wonderful time to drink those wines I’ve been holding on to. This week I finally opened up a 2011 Cline Cellars Live Oak Zinfandel from Contra Costa County. I love Cline wines and I love what they do. They practice their own sustainable farming they have named “The Green String Method.” With minimal human intervention, they use sheep and goats to clear the weeds from the vineyard and cover crops to feed the soil. They reuse all organic waste and compost it, then introduce it into the vineyard through the drip irrigation system. Volcanic rock is crushed to add minerals to the earth and owls are used for pest control. Furthermore, 100% of the energy used on the farm is solar. These sustainable practices are not only good for the environment, but the wines are also absolutely fantastic! I used to belong to the wine club because I love every one of their wines and their winemaking style. Big, bold, delicious! The 2011 Live Oak Zinfandel …

Featured Wine – 2018 Ampelos Viognier “Phi”

Yesterday was such a bummer. I moved my wine collection and found a couple of mystery bottles that I thought would be fun to blind taste.  However, I quickly found out they had gone bad. So, I decided I needed to open up a bottle of wine I’ve been saving: Ampelos 2018 Viognier “Phi”. First, let me start by saying, I have a very high affection for Ampelos. They really take the environment seriously and have certifications in organic, biodynamic, and sustainable farming. Their website states, “In growing grapes, we believe in taking care of and respecting the environment and that our vineyard needs to be in balance with nature…” From that, they have produced some extraordinary wines, and this Viognier is no exception. Fresh and aromatic, the 2018 Ampelos Viognier has intoxicating aromas of honeysuckle and jasmine with orange marmalade, melon, and papaya. The first sip is greeted with bright acidity and notes of stone fruit and white flowers. It’s a luscious wine that immediately makes me feel like I’m running through a field …

Featured Wine of the Week – Solminer 2018 “Rubellite”

Happy New Year and welcome to our first Featured Wine of the Week for 2020! Today we’re drinking a wine from Sominer called “Rubellite.” This wine is 72% Syrah, 27% Grenache, and 1% Riesling. It’s from Santa Ynez Valley in California. If you’ve been following me, you know this is my type of wine. I love wines from this region, and especially Syrahs. So, let’s dive in! Solminer is a labor of love between a husband and wife team. They were Certified Organic in 2014 and Demeter Certified Biodynamic in 2018. Their focus is on natural wines. They use chickens, donkeys, sheep, bees, fruit trees, native plants, compost, and herb teas(!) to encourage the health of the vineyard. The most notable varietals they planted were the Austrian Grüner Veltliner and Blaufränkisch, which have flourished. Solminer even makes a skin contact “orange” Grüner! The Rubellite Syrah/Grenache blend we’re drinking today is described as “an experiment gone incredibly well.” It was fermented with natural yeast and spent seven months in neutral French oak. It is unfined and …

Wine Review – 2015 Opaque “Darkness”

I was feeling good.  I had tasted great wines and was having a fun, wine-nerdy conversation with Hector, a San Antonio veteran of over 30 years. “Do you want to try the wine my wife and I drink?” he asked. Of course I did! That’s when he brought out “Opaque.” He explained to me that he and his wife like bold wines, and this one was basically an “everything but the kitchen sink” type of wine. With a blend of six varietals, he was right!  I chuckled as he listed them off: Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Petit Sirah, and Petit Verdot. What an audacious offering.  I couldn’t wait to try it! Sure enough, it was everything it was promised to be: rich, dark, inky, voluptuous! This wine filled my mouth with a beautiful balance of tannins and acid. I tasted luscious fruit – ripe berries with hints of chocolate and smoke. It finished with a dusting of cinnamon, cloves, and a touch of pepper. The finish lingered, as the remaining wine painted the glass. …

San Antonio Winery Los Angeles Tasting Room

The San Antonio Winery Tasting Room in Los Angeles has a cornucopia of delicious things. Not only do they have their large portfolio of wines available for tasting and for purchase, but they also have (non-San Antonio Winery) distilled spirits for sale including a few brands of Japanese whiskey. There are gourmet food items and snacks along with wine-themed gifts. The on-premises restaurant, Maddalena, has a stunning “visual menu” of all the entrees that are available. The selection is huge! Selection seems to be the predominant theme at the San Antonio Tasting Room. There is even a selection of wine tastings, ranging in price from $5 to $15 for four tastes of wine. The $5 tasting is for the well-known San Antonio brand of sweet to semi-sweet Stella Rosa wines, while the $7 tasting is for the lesser-known and dryer San Simeon and Maddalena brands. The $15 tasting is for the Artisan wines. The guest is able to select the wines they would like to taste. While San Antonio Winery no longer grows in Los Angeles, …

San Antonio Winery – A Los Angeles Landmark in Winemaking

Did you know Los Angeles was once the main wine-producing region in California? The first grapes in the Downtown Los Angeles area were planted in 1833. By 1890, there were vineyards that stretched throughout the majority of the Southern California region, with over 80 wineries in the Los Angeles area. Unfortunately, Prohibition in 1920 wiped out most of these vineyards, since the production, sale, and transportation of alcohol was prohibited. San Antonio Winery was only three years old when Prohibition began.  The founder, Santo Cambianica found a way to adapt to the situation.  A loophole in the act allowed the production of sacramental wine. Cambianca, a devout Catholic, was able to stay in business by selling the wine for religious services. This was a turn of genius and actually established San Antonio Winery as the largest producer of communal wine in the United States. At the time Prohibition began, the winery was producing around 5,000 cases of wine.  By the end of Prohibition in 1933, San Antonio Winery was producing over 20,000 cases of wine. After …