Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hart Winery, Temecula CA

Temecula is a lovely area to try new and different wineries that you've never heard of before.  I had heard of Hart before, but never tried them out.  It is one of the first tasting rooms off the freeway in the main wine country area, and it is definitely worth a stop.  It has a very small tasting room, but beautiful grounds and the opportunity to see their various barrels.

For $10, you can get a taste of 6 wines with the glass included.  Visit the website here.

Montepulciano (2011), $30: "Temecula Valley, Europa Village Vineyard."

  • Color - bright and clear burgundy.
  • Aroma - light, bright berry.
  • Taste - dry, raspberry / strawberry hints.  Dryness sticks
  • ABV - 14.4%
  • Overall - Okay, but a little dry / bland for my taste.

Tres Hermanos (2009), $25: "Three Brothers for the 3 Hart brothers, Jim, Mike, and Bill, is style after the classic Rhone blends of Southern France.  This fruit-laden blend of 62% Grenache, 23% Mourvedre and 15% Syrah shows great complexity and food compatibility."
  • Color - bright garnet, bubbly.
  • Aroma - very lively and aromatic, bright strawberry / plum.
  • Taste - fruit forward, semi-dry finish.
  • ABV - 14.2%
  • Overall - Not bad, but I would prefer a more pleasant and smooth finish.

Syrah (2010), $30: "Temecula Valley, Hart Family Vineyard."
  • Color - dark, beautiful purples. Bubbly.
  • Aroma - pleasant fruits, plum and cherry.
  • Taste - complex, medium body, very tasty. Lingering finish.
  • ABV - 14.1%
  • Overall - Very tasty Syrah, lots of flavors. My favorite on the list!

Cabernet Franc (2008)
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - plum and herby, perhaps some rosemary?
  • Taste - slight green olive, earthy and smooth.
  • Overall - Very smooth and earthy; sticks to tongue.  Dry.

Zinfandel (2011)
  • Color - bright garnets and purples.
  • Aroma - beautifully aromatic, bright and fruity.
  • Taste - semi dry but smooth.
  • Overall - God and full bodied. 

Merlot (2010), $30: "Temecula Valley, Konchar Vineyard."
  • Color - deep purples.
  • Aroma - dark and beautiful plums.
  • Taste - fruit forward, smooth finish, cherry.
  • ABV - 14.5%
  • Overall - Very well balanced and tasty, my second favorite on this list.
Aleatico (2010), $50: "Produced from the obscure and little-grown Aleatico grape, native to Italy's Puglia region, this exotic and deliciously sweet dessert wine is one of the few produced in California. Aleatico is a member of the Muscat family and this wine exhibits varietal floral aromatics.  Superb as a dinner dessert wine, served alone or as a dessert complement."
  • Color - dark burgundy.
  • Aroma - floral and very sweet.
  • Taste - very sweet, but balances well. Slight raisin.
  • ABV - 18.8%
  • Overall - Good, balanced port.  Very sweet but the raisiny taste is pleasant.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Black Market Brewing Company, Temecula CA

I have a friend who lives in Temecula, and she told me that a bunch of lovely breweries had popped up in the area.  One night when we had nothing to do, I convinced my friend to come with me to check one of these places out and we were not disappointed.  This particular brewery was open til 9pm, but you need to know where you're going before you ever set out to find it.  It is located in an industrial district and has no lights or signs pointing to it; there is only the faint dim light coming from the tinted windows.  Know the address before you come!

This was a lovely little brewing company with one small tasting bar and a bunch of picnic tables scattered about.  Their selections were written up on chalk boards, and the prices were decent.  Every single person we met that night was extremely friendly and knowledgeable, even about wine.  We got some great tips on places to go, along with some 2 for 1s!  A lot of the pourers from local wineries came here to unwind after their day.

We also had the luck of getting some free pizza since it was already made and the customers had only ordered half.  It was homemade and tasty with lots of toppings.

If you like a beer here, I would highly recommend getting a 32 oz. growler for only $8!  Most tastes are about $2 each, and they're good sized.


  • Color - nice carbonation; clear and coppery.  Dark.
  • Aroma - crisp.
  • Taste - sweet and caramelly, almost candied.
  • ABV - 11%
  • Overall - It was definitely sweet, but just okay.  Only a sipping beer, and I probably wouldn't order again.  
Quadrophenia Barrel-Aged
  • Color - not clear, thick and brown.
  • Aroma - raisiny and sickeningly sweet.
  • Taste - raisiny and dark, almost bitter.
  • ABV - 11%
  • Overall - too powerfully sweet and syrupy.  Only worth the ABV.
  • Color - dark and clear with copper tinges.
  • Aroma - crisp and light.
  • Taste - light and refreshing, easy drink; semi-dark, flavors of caramel
  • ABV - 5%
  • Overall - Very good and easy drink.  Refreshing with pleasant carbonation.  I got plenty of recommendations for this from the friendly customers around me.

Archery Summit Premier Cuvee (2010)

Like in the last post, this was a very small tasting bottle that we got as part of a Tasting Room set of different Pinot Noirs to try.  It had very little in it, barely a single 2 oz. pour, but it was interesting to try the wines from the different regions.

  • Color - bright, clear burgundy.
  • Aroma - bright, somewhat raisiny.
  • Taste - dry forward, lively fruit finish, earthy.
  • ABV - 13.5%
  • Overall - Good, semi-dry Pinot.  Not amazing, could use more flavor... wouldn't buy again.

De Loach Pinot Noir (2010)

There was a deal on Groupon a few months back that sent you mini bottles of different Pinots. This was one of them. I was a very small bottle, perhaps just a small pour, but it gave you enough to taste the Pinot Noirs from the different regions.  The company is named Tasting Room.

  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - very subtle of fruit, not much.
  • Taste - black cherry, fruit forward.
  • ABV - 14.5%
  • Overall - could use another year or two, but tastes alright as is.

Danza Del Sol Winery, Temecula CA

We had a 2 for 1 for this tasting room and decided to give it a shot.  They have some beautiful grounds in the heart of Temecula and some beautiful flowers that bloom in Spring.  They have picnic tables outside that you can eat and drink at along with multiple tasting bars inside the main building.  Unfortunately, this is a more corporate winery and so if you come here anytime between Friday and Sunday you're in for a very loud and crowded experience.

Because it was so loud, I did not hear any music playing.  Minus the people, it was cute decor with pillars, a semi-Spanish style, and numerous tasting bars.  They had some cute souvenirs and some relatively friendly pourers.  It seems that the rowdier crowd comes here (bachelorette parties and the like), but they also tended to give some generous pours.

It is generally easy to get a 2 for 1 if you go to any of the other wineries, so don't miss out on the deal!  Visit the website here.

Grenache (2010), $26.95: "The color is light, but the aromas are bright.  Aromas of cherry and root beer introduce silky flavors of plum and jujube and a note of vanilla.  655 cases produced.  Pair with: Autumn-themed food such as roast of lamb, pork, or baked beans."

  • Color - bright and cherry with pretty pinks and reds.
  • Aroma - bright cherry with deep subtle notes.
  • Taste - darker than expected, with deep plum. Complex.
  • Overall - Tasty! Deep and complex, especially for the color.  I love Grenaches, and this was a good representation.
Sangiovese (2010), $25.95: "Aromas of red cherries, and a mild hint of leather, lead into deep flavors of pomegranate and boysenberry, and finishes with a note of red licorice.  732 cases produced.  Pair with: Roasted pork or BBQ Baby Back Ribs."
  • Color - bright garnet.
  • Aroma - subtle red cherry.
  • Taste - heavier with a slight licorice finish.
  • Overall - This was okay, but I definitely preferred the Grenache.  
Mourvedre (2010), $28.95: "Tantalizing cranberry, rose petal, and spice aromas introduce this complex Spanish varietal.  The flavor is full with Ruby Red grapefruit but drops into a long, lingering finish of clove and nutmeg.  529 cases produced. Pair with: Portobello Bruchetta and Rosemary Aioli."
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - cranberry and rose, very beautiful aromatics; bright
  • Taste - very complex, slight tart grapefruit; I taste slight nutmeg.
  • Overall - very deep and complex with a distinct aftertaste, but good.
Zinfandel (2010)
  • Color - bright reds, beautiful burgundy.
  • Aroma - black cherries, subtle.
  • Taste - plum and cinnamon, maybe raisin; definitely dark.
  • Overall - Not a typical Zin; good but not great. Heavy.
Tempranillo (2010), $28.95: "Herbaceous aromas open and transform into spiced cherry and blackberry.  Deep flavors are highlighted with eucalyptus and wet slate.  684 cases produced.  Pair with: Beef Tenderloin Asturias; marinated mushrooms."
  • Color - bright.
  • Aroma - herby, cherry, blackberry.
  • Taste - somewhat tart finish; subtle spice.
  • Overall - medium bodied and earthy, I crave beef.
Merlot (2009), $26.95: "This classic Bordeaux varietal offers aromas of tea and cranberry.  Flavors of plum and blueberry are complimented with a hint of cocoa.  335 cases produced.  Pair with: Beef Tri Tip, Roasted Vegetables."
  • Color - dark burgundy, bright garnet.
  • Aroma - tinny with bright raspberry.
  • Taste - very dry and earthy; cedar.
  • Overall - Needs a few years, somewhat hard to drink.  This is the 1st wine I've ever been tempted to dump in the spit bucket.
Syrah (2010)
  • Color - deep.
  • Aroma - boysenberry, bright and lively
  • Taste - fruity, lovely.
  • Overall - very pleasant, typical Syrah.  Tasty.
Cabernet Franc (2010), $28.95: "Lingering aromas of black cherry and cranberry are complimented by a note of red licorice.  The flavors are plum and black truffle with a hint of coffee. 577 cases produced.  Pair with: Roasted Lamb with Rosemary."
  • Color - deep, almost black; reds.
  • Aroma - very bright lack cherry; slight cranberry.
  • Taste - dark fruit and ripe plum with a lingering finish.
  • Overall - Very pleasant, would love to savor on its own! My favorite on the list.
Cabernet Sauvignon (2010), $30.95: "Aged 19 months in a combination of new and neutral oak to accept rather than overshadow the fruit.  Aromas explode with vanilla extract.  658 cases produced. Pair with: Grilled seafood."
  • Color - beautiful purples and bright pink tinge.
  • Aroma - bright, hint of vanilla; cherry.
  • Taste - powerful front, smooth finish; fruity but dark.
  • Overall - needs more time, slightly generic (pourers agree).
Trilogy (2010), 32.95: "58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot.  Bold aromas of blackberry and Bing cherries with overtones of coffee and cocoa.  The flavors are full with plum and raspberry and are complimented by a hint of cola.  670 cases produced.  Pair with: Roasted lamb and Beef."
  • Color - bright burgundy.
  • Aroma - love! dark cherry and plum.
  • Taste - heavy forward, deep finish; plum and cola.
  • Overall - Tasty for a dark red drinker.
Tres Rose (2011), $23.95: "Cab Franc, Cinsault and Mourvedre are combined to produce this delightfully sweet wine.  Aromas of cherries and carnations introduce flavors of strawberry and rhubarb.  This is a perfect aperitif or sipping wine.  629 cases produced.  Pair with: Grilled seasonal vegetables.  Gold Medal - 2012 Jerry Meade International Wine Competition."
  • Color - bright pinks and subtle oranges.
  • Aroma - subtle sweetness, slight strawberry.
  • Taste - strawberry and citrus, refreshing.
  • Overall - refreshing; perfect Rose!
Fresco (2011), $21.95: "This Rose of Grenache has bright aromas of Cherry and Rhubarb.  The palate is graced with sweet flavors of red licorice and cranberry. 350 cases produced.  Pair with: Lime sorbet."
  • Color - bright, clear darker pink; baby pink at end.
  • Aroma - strawberry with a bite.
  • Taste - slight cranberry, refreshing strawberry and raspberry. Citrus finish?
  • Overall - Really enjoyed this! I'd love either rose on a summer's day.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Vindemia Winery, Temecula CA

I had never heard about this winery before this trip, and actually got the tip from Falkner to go and check it out.  This is right down the street in a beautiful little valley surrounded by picturesque hills.  The tasting bar is located outside (go to the bathroom before you come!) but it is definitely worth a visit! This place is only open on weekends, so keep that in mind if you decide to visit.

This tasting bar has a very intimate and country feel to it, making for a quaint atmosphere that'll stay in your memory for awhile.  The pourers were very friendly, generous and knowledgeable.  Of my entire trip to Temecula, I enjoyed the wines here the most! Very pleasant surprise.  It is important to keep in mind that this is more of a pricey winery, however.

Taste any 5 wines for $15 (but you can easily find 2 for 1 coupons!).  The tasting comes with a small bread, cheese and olive oil plate.  My friend and I each tried a different wine so that we could try most of the 11 wines (we skipped the Sauvignon Blanc).  Visit their website here.

Grenache Vermeille (2008), $18: "Bright rouge and reflective in color, complicated yet lightly sweet with a hint of candied strawberries and a perfect finish in American oak."

  • Color - deep pinks and reds; bright, beautiful cherry.
  • Aroma - semi sweet, candied strawberry.
  • Taste - almost raisiny, semi-sweet.  Refreshing.
  • ABV - 12.5%
  • Overall - Delightful and light, I'd love this on a warm summer's day. 
Cabernet Sauvignon (2008), $42: "Vindemia Estate Temecula."
  • Color - deep burgundy with pretty pinks.
  • Aroma - bright cherry.
  • Taste - currant and plum.
  • ABV - 13.5%
  • Overall - A very pleasant and easy drink; it made me crave pasta.
Cabernet Sauvignon (2009), $32: "Vindemia Estate Temecula."
  • Color - very dark burgundy.
  • Aroma - dark berry, semi sweet.
  • Taste - smooth with bright cherry, heavy on the tongue.
  • ABV - 14.4%
  • Overall - Absolutely delicious!Very easy drink, the perfect cab.
Loneliness (2010), $38: "80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah Blend.  Vindemia Estate Temecula."
  • Color - pretty burgundy.
  • Aroma - bright with currents, very soft and pretty.
  • Taste - typical cab. flavors, sticks to the tongue.
  • ABV - 14%
  • Overall - Love it! Heavy and beautiful, how a good cab tastes.

Cabernet Franc (2008), $88: "Temecula AVA."
  • Color - deep garnet.
  • Aroma - bright and lovely with currants.
  • Taste - very tasty with floral notes.  Bright cherry and fruit, very smooth.
  • ABV - 13.7%
  • Overall - Love! Great drink (and it better be for the price).
Petit Verdot (2008), $64: "Lodi, California."
  • Color - very dark burgundy.
  • Aroma - smooth, light fruit.
  • Taste - somewhat dry, dark and complex.
  • ABV - 15.5%
  • Overall - This is heavy, but good.  You definitely don't down this, you sip and savor.  Sticks to tongue.
Commonwealth (2006), $40: "Bordeaux Blend, South Coast AVA.  A red wine full of currants, cherries, violets and mineral notes.  48% Merlot, 30% Cabernet, 13% Petit Verdot, 9% Cabernet Franc."
  • Color - very dark.
  • Aroma - beautiful ripe berries, smooth and subtle.
  • Taste - heavy, semi-dry.
  • ABV - 15.1%
  • Overall - This wasn't bad, but wasn't as good as the rest.
Syrah (2008), $34: "Vindemia Estate Temecula."
  • Color - dark.
  • Aroma - smooth, dark fruit.
  • Taste - sharp finish with lively flavors; heavy.
  • ABV - 12.3%
  • Overall - Tasty and heavy, very complex.
Syrah (2009), $58: "Vindemia Estate Temecula.  A wine that tastes like a man... that has been lightly kissed by a woman.  Our wine expresses light coconut with black pepper, black currants and blackberry fruit."
  • Color - very deep burgundy with pink tinges.
  • Aroma - bright and beautiful.
  • Taste - heavy and complex.
  • ABV - 14.5%
  • Overall - Very good and dark, yummy.
Ruby Royale, $38: "Dessert wine, Temecula AVA."
  • Color - deep burgundy brown.
  • Aroma - sweet, but pleasant.
  • Taste - sweet and smooth, tasty with dessert.
  • ABV - 18.8%
  • Overall - Very sweet, but not too syrupy.  Not terrible, a manageable dessert wine.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Falkner Winery, Temecula CA

My family has been a member of Falkner Winery for years now and so I've had the privilege to visit here numerous times.  They have some friendly and generous pourers (if you have the chance, get Tricket or Shelly!) and some pretty good wine.  The grounds are absolutely beautiful with their outside patio and restaurant looking over the vines and hillsides.

The restaurant connected with the winery is called Pinnacle and is a prime location for weddings in the area of Temecula.  They are known for their Lobster Mac n Cheese which, although it sounds weird, is absolutely delicious. It is a must try!  Visit their website here.

Sauvignon Blanc (2011), $18.95: "Our estate grown Sauvignon Blanc has wonderful citrus flavors of lemon and lime.  Enjoy this herbaceous and slightly tart wine that is great to just sit around and sip.  This wine pairs well with seafood (especially shellfish), chicken, and cheeses."

  • Color - light and golden.
  • Aroma - bright and pleasant with subtle citrus and pineapple.
  • Taste - slightly tart.
  • Overall - this is alright, not great.  Definitely tart.
Chardonnay (2011), $15.95: "This wonderful wine was made with about 30% American oak ageing.  You will taste delicious green 'granny smith' apple flavors and a bit of smokiness that blend beautifully with the oak structure.  This light colored wine is fresh tasting, crisp in flavor, and a lingering lime finish.  This wine pairs well with seafood and chicken dishes."
  • Color - light, clear and golden with bright yellows.
  • Aroma - subtle and light.
  • Taste - light and lingering lime, semi-creamy.
  • Overall - This is a very light tasting Chardonnay; tasty, not bad.

Viognier (2011), Silver Medal, $24.95: This is our first estate grown Viognier.  It is a pale colored, delicious and aromatic wine made without barrel aging.  Enjoy the floral aroma and the elegance of this wonderful wine with flavors of cantaloupe, honeydew and other melon flavors.  Try pairing this with seafood, chicken, and cheese dishes."

  • Color - light and golden
  • Aroma - very sweet, with hints of pineapple, citrus, and honeydew.
  • Taste - dry and slightly bitter.
  • Overall - I didn't like this wine very much.  It was bitter and hard to drink, and I am not interested in trying this again.
Rosato Rose Table Wine (2011), Silver Medal, $11.95: "This lovely rose wine is made from 75% Sangiovese graps and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  It is bright pink in color with delicious flavors of strawberry and rose petals.  This delicate and delicious wine is great for sipping chilled or pairing with cheeses, salads, and fruit dishes."
  • Color - rosy, slightly coppery.
  • Aroma - strawberry and roses, semi-sweet.
  • Taste - slight citrus and off dry, somewhat acidic.
  • Overall - This was alright, but definitely not my favorite rose. 

Riesling (2011), Silver Medal, $18.95: "Our wonderful Riesling is a semi-dry wine with flavors of pear and baking spices.  The slight sweetness helps provide the wine a nice round finish.  This straw colored wine has a pear aroma and pairs well with various fruits, salads, and chicken dishes."
  • Color - light golden.
  • Aroma - bright and pleasant with pineapple and pear.
  • Taste - off dry and semi-sweet, very smooth and delicious.
  • Overall - Very good and refreshing Riesling! Subtle yet fruity and sweet. I would have this again, we considered buying it for summer.
Luscious Lips Red Table Wine (2009), $14.95: "This slightly sweet red wine will feel on your lips like your first kiss.  Savor the deliciousness and depth of this wine.  Enjoy this wine hot, cold, or room temperature.  Take part in the fun and share this tasty wine with your closest friends.  And if the mood suits you, come back for more."
  • Color - bright garnet.
  • Aroma - sweet and inviting, lively berry.
  • Taste - very smooth, fruit forward, smooth finish.
  • Overall - Delicious and easy drinking! Could down a few quite easily.  We bought a few bottles :)  This is what this winery is know for.
Merlot (2008), $22.95: "Wonderful flavors of red cherry with a touch of vanilla.  Enjoy the lovely aroma of currants, slight oak, and delicate softness on the finish.  This wine pairs well with veal, pork, lamb and beef dishes."
  • Color - deep garnet.
  • Aroma - slightly smoky, black cherry and currant.
  • Taste - pretty dry on the front with slight vanilla.  Very oaky and smoky.
  • Overall - Not a fan.  Too dry and woody.
Cabernet Sauvignon (2009), $26.95: "Enjoy this Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon with rich flavors of blackberry, dark fruit, and cassis.  This year's Cab is rich in color and also has an earthy flavor and smooth finish.  This lovely wine pairs well with red pasta sauces and beef and lamb dishes."
  • Color - burgundy with bright reds.
  • Aroma - sweet and fruity, very pleasant.
  • Taste - dark fruit, slightly dry and earthy.
  • Overall - Best red on list so far; good, but not great.

Syrah - Rock Creek Vineyard (2009), Gold Medal, $34.95: "Our Syrah has a deep purple color, delicious deep flavors of ripe plum, black cherry, and other darker red fruits.  Enjoy the delicious depth of flavors, and smooth, round, lingering finish.  Our Syrah pairs well with dishes such as lamb, beef, duck and goose.  Try as well with chocolate."
  • Color - beautiful pinks and purples.
  • Aroma - sweet, almost like licorice with hints of plum.  Sugary.
  • Taste - black cherry, semi dry, sticks to tongue.  Deep and complex, slight after taste.
  • Overall - Okay, a good red,but it has an aftertaste that bothers me.  Perhaps it should wait another year?
Amante - Super Tuscan Style (2008), Silver Medal, $39.95: "Our Super Tuscan Style Amante is our proprietary blend of Sangiovese with Merlot  Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc added.  Enjoy the robust aroma, the garnet color, and the wonderful flavors of ripe red cherry and red fruit.  This complex, medium-bodied wine pairs well with pasta, veal, duck and beef dishes."
  • Color - deep, almost brownish; garnet.
  • Aroma - deep yet sweet, raisiny almost like a port.
  • Taste - slightly heavy and bitter finish; dark cherry and raisin.
  • Overall - Either something is wrong with my palate right now, or I'm just not a huge fan of these reds.
Meritage - Bordeaux Style (2008), Gold Medal, $39.95: "We always take special pride in producing each year our best Bordeaux blend Meritage.  This is our full-bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.  Deep ruby red in color and rich in flavors, this wonderful wine provides flavors such as black cherry, creme de cassis, and blueberry with well integrated tannins.  Enjoy this wine with heavier dishes such as beef, leg of lamb, and braised veal shank."
  • Color - ruby and garnet, slight brown.
  • Aroma - semi sweet, but deep and pleasant.
  • Taste - blackberry; fruity, dark and complex.
  • Overall - Favorite on the list, a very good dark red.  Remember liking this a lot last time, too!
Port (2006), $29.95: "This very special Port was aged 5 years in oak barrels and is a delicious combination of Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Truly a great sipping and after dinner drink, this lovely, rich Port exudes flavors of jammy blackberry while finishing with plum flavors.  Take one sip and you will want more!  This wine also pairs well with most chocolate, cheese cake, and pie desserts."
  • Color - very dark burgundy brown.
  • Aroma - sweet and raisiny.
  • Taste - jammy with hints of plum; sweet and heavy.
  • Overall - A decent port, my friend really enjoyed this.

Oreana Winery, Santa Barbara CA

For over a year now I've heard good things about Oreana Winery, which is right across the street from Santa Barbara Winery (which I go to every chance I get).  I finally decided to give it a shot, and I was not disappointed.  Every weekend they have live music, which makes the atmosphere very lively and fun.  They have a lot of unique artwork everywhere, including on their pull-down door, and also lights to make everything really festive.

The people were pretty nice and friendly, and some of them gave some lovely hearty pours.  My friend and I were extremely impressed with their wines and fell in love immediately.  I highly recommend visiting this winery, you won't regret it!  Visit their website here.

It was $10 for a tasting of 6 wines, and you get to keep the glass!

Chardonnay (2010), 91 Points Wine & Spirits Magazine, $18: "You know what? We're tired of Chardonnay too.  The ABC movement (Anything But Chardonnay) has us years ago.  But then we got to thinking (and drinking) and developed a style of Chard that takes advantage of the grape's virtues and does away with its primary distraction - oak.  This clean, crisp white is what the French had in mind so many years ago when they described it as 'gout de pierre a fusil.' The literal translation is 'a taste of flint.'  The result is a balanced wine, perfect with fod or just by the glass."
  • Color - creamy yellow, bright.
  • Aroma - soft chardonnay aroma, yet bright and sunny.
  • Taste - very smooth and light, slightly creamy.
  • ABV - 13.8%
  • Overall - This was a perfect Chardonnay; I could easily down a few glasses and still ask for more.  Very tasty.
Tempranillo (2009): N/A
  • Color - deep brown and burgundy, beautiful and silky.
  • Aroma - sweet yet musty and smoky.
  • Taste - deep and complex, smooth. Perhaps black currant? Heavy and spicy, sticks to the tongue.
  • ABV - N/A
  • Overall - This was definitely tasty, but also on the heavier/spicier side.  We gave this a 3.5/5.
Pinot Noir (2009), Long Beach Grand Cru Gold Medal Winner & Double Gold Medal Winner San Francisco Chronicle, 14.1%: "Wonderful aromatics of wilted rose, strawberry, and wild berry fruit are riveting; with the flavors running deep and pure on the palate.  this wine has excellent structure, length and dimension.  Returns tot he wild berry and cherry fruit on the elegant and delicate finish."
  • Color - bright purple and pinks; gorgeous.
  • Aroma - bright and lively fruit, very ripe.  I smell the strawberry, and its somewhat earthy and incredibly aromatic.
  • Taste - smooth with flavors of wild berries and a very clean finish.
  • ABV - 14.1%
  • Overall - This was our favorite wine on the tasting menu, it was amazing! The aromatics alone made me just want to sniff on it all day long.  I don't think I have ever smelled a wine like that, and its definitely worth trying!

Mission Point Red (2008), Int'l Eastern Wine Competition Gold Medal Winner, $25: "Big, firmly structured, and built to last, this blend of Syrah, Cabernet & Barbera starts off with dark fruit flavors that explode on the palate, delivering tons of plums and black cherries.  The long, softly tannic finish suggest nuances of tea and leather.  This wine will be a friend for the long haul."
  • Color - deep and bright red, with pink tinges.  This wine even just looks spicy.
  • Aroma - plum and dark cherries; deep and pleasant.
  • Taste - firm, dark, and spicy.
  • ABV - 14.2%
  • Overall - Even though this was a heavy wine, it was an easy drink.  I'd want this in a smoke room with a tender steak; I might even start craving this soon!
( be continued.)

Santa Barbara Winery, Santa Barbara CA

This is the first winery I've ever been to in Santa Barbara County and I've loved it ever since.  There is always friendly pourers, delicious wine, and cute decor.  Throughout the week they also have an olive oil company come in and do olive oil tastings in the same room, and they have some delicious varieties such as garlic, chili, and even habanero.  If you're lucky, the winemaker himself Pierre Lafond (also owner of Lafond Winery in Buellton) sometimes comes in for a visit! Fun fact - Pierre Lafond started the first winery in Santa Barbara County!

From the tasting room you can see into the barrel room which they've snazzed up with some pretty lights.  I always love seeing the barrels for some reason, it gives a nice and authentic feel to it :) Plus something about seeing all that wine makes me happy! I've come to taste here at least 10 times, and I've never left disappointed.  Visit their website here. This was also the first winery that I ever tried Lagrein, Primitivo, or Nebbiolo - all absolutely delicious!

It is $10 for a tasting of 6 wines, and you get to keep the glass!

Riesling (2010), Gold Medal 2012 Gold Coast Wine Competition, $15: "This particular wine is an off-dry style, with just a hint of sweetness at 2.3% residual sugar.  This wine shows great potential for our growing estate Riesling program."
  • Color - golden, slightly lime.
  • Aroma - lime, citrus, pineapple
  • Taste - sweet yet smooth. Crisp, with hints of citrus and pineapple.
  • ABV - 13.8%
  • Overall - I really liked this wine, even though I'm not a big fan of whites.  It was the perfect balance of sweet and crisp, and it was very refreshing.
Pinot Gris (2011), $16: "Clean, crisp, vibrant and refreshing, our Pinot Gris is the perfect wine for warm Santa Barbara afternoons and pairs beautifully with rich and spicy dishes.  A cool stainless stell fermentation maintains the crisp acidity of the wine while putting forth fresh apple and pear flavors."
  • Color - very clear, slightly golden.
  • Aroma - dry.
  • Taste - dry, almost bland.  Hint of pear, kind of tart.
  • ABV - 14.6%
  • Overall - I didn't enjoy this wine as much as the last, it just didn't have the character I look for.

Reserve Chardonnay (2010), $24: "Thirty-year-old vines yielding clusters of small yet concentrated fruit, and the unique terroir of Santa Barbara's Santa Rita Hills AVA, as well as the combination of 100% barrel fermentation and aging all play a significant role in making our Reserve Chardonnay truly world class.  Its body, structure, and toasty, buttery flavors make it the perfect companion for mild seafood, poultry, other light meats and desserts."
  • Color - yellow with a hint of lime.
  • Aroma - typical Chardonnay aroma, semi-sweet.
  • Taste - buttery, creamy, and smooth.
  • ABV - 14.8%
  • Overall - This is my all-time favorite Chardonnay, and is actually the one white I've tried that has made me decide to give all the rest a chance.  When I first tried it months ago, I was shocked by the unique butteriness this brings.  Its addicting, really.  Ever since, I have not tried a Chardonnay as good as this one.

Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir (2010), Gold Medal 2012 Winner at Long Beach Grand Cru and Pacific Rim Wine Competition, $25: "A great example of a light-bodied red, Pinot Noir is typically bright, juicy and low in tannin.  Common flavors and aromas associated with Pinot Noir are black cherry, strawberry, lavender and jasmine."
  • Color - deep and pretty burgundy; almost velvety.
  • Aroma - pleasantly sweet and fruity.
  • Taste - smoky yet fruity.
  • ABV - 14.7%
  • Overall - I feel as though (and the pourer agreed) that this particular wine could use another year.  It wasn't horrible, but my friend and I both agreed that it was just alright.  Its definitely not a bad drink, however.

Grenache (2010), $28: "Grenache in this cool zone produces a wine that is different from the warmer areas - fruietier and spicier with a hint of white pepper - more nuanced."
  • Color - deep burgundy with purples.
  • Aroma - deep and fruity while also sweet and smoky.  Perhaps some dark cherry or currants, I'm in love with the smell.
  • Taste - fruity and complex, deep and delicious.
  • ABV - 15.2%
  • Overall - This is how a red should taste, and I'm in love with this wine.  When asked if I wanted to revisit anything, I asked for another hearty pour of this gem!  It is silky, well-balanced, and absolutely beautiful.  This is my favorite wine on the list.
Petite Sirah (2009), $28: "Picked over a three week period and from three vineyards the wine is complex with rich full flavors."
  • Color - deep purple and burgundy; gorgeous coloring.
  • Aroma - semi sweet and musty.
  • Taste - deep flavor of blackberry and black cherry, dry finish.
  • ABV - 14.2%
  • Overall - This was my second favorite wine on the tasting menu; very tasty and full-bodied.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Double Take Amber Ale

Brewer's Notes: "At first sip this amber ale will grab a hold of your palate and snap your attention back.  This red-head boasts surprisingly confident aromas of sweet grain, effortlessly flirting with moderate hop flavors balanced by smooth alt for an ale sure to sweep you off your feet  When an ale is so memorable it makes you do a double take, you know its a head snapper!"

Overall Impression
On my routine visit to Vons, I noticed that this brand of beer was on sale for $5 a six-pack.  I'm always down to try something new, and you can't beat the price.  They also had Belgian white and a pale ale, I'm really quite tempted to try the Belgian.  As for this beer, it was alright.  Nothing special, but nothing horrible.  It has a little too much hops for my taste, but it wasn't unpleasant and it'll be a nice drink.  I don't regret buying it.

Alcohol by Volume: 5.1%

Its a coppery brown with a hint of amber coloring.  Clear with light carbonation and white foam that sticks to the glass to two fingers.

This has a very pleasant malt smell to it, and I can't explain it but it smells like an amber should.  Crisp and refreshing, it makes you want to drink it.

Malt and hops on the front, smooth going down.  Slightly bitter, but no unpleasant after taste.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Kalyra Winery, Santa Ynez CA

I had found a Living Social deal for this winery, and I'm glad I bought it because I don't know if we ever would have made it out to this winery! Its near Solvang, but it is off on its own road in the Santa Ynez Valley.  I love going to wineries and seeing their vines and their facilities! This was a cute little winery with an island / aboriginal theme.  The winemaker learned how to make his wines in Australia and decorated the tasting room in lovely aboriginal art.  They also had some amazing music - Foster the People, Telepopmusik, MGMT - all the great relaxing indie songs! I was in heaven.

I think the cutest part about this tasting room was that they had a little tiki hut around one of their bar areas, which gave a great vibe to the whole place.  Our pourer was extremely sweet and friendly, and I would love to go back sometime soon!

Oh, and I guess one of their bar areas was featured in the movie Sideways!  It is $10 for 4 tastes of wine.  You have the option between 8 types, so my friend and I each tried a different wine to get a taste of all their varieties. I apologize ahead of time for the quality of the photos of the wine labels; it was incredibly bright out and a terrible angle! But you get the picture :) Visit their website here.

Sauvignon Blanc (2012), $19: "This is a new world style Sauvignon Blanc by using stainless steel fermentation and is one of our flagship wines of Kalyra.  The crisp, dry nature of this wine reflects the optimum growing conditions of 2012.  You will detect a slight "grassiness" on th enose which is a trademark of a cooler-weather Sauvignon Blanc."
  • Color - light, slight yellow, but mostly clear.
  • Aroma - a little sharp from the stainless steel with a hint of lime.
  • Taste - tart, sweet, and slightly dry.
  • ABV - 13.5%
  • Overall - This was a refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, but nothing special in my opinion.

Barrel Select Chardonnay (2011), $21.50: "This pristine Chardonnay from the Whitehawk Vineyards in Los Alamos was primed in neutral French Oak barrels for a soft, yet vibrant, easy drinking wine.  We believe it to be one of the best Chardonnays in the last several years."

  • Color - golden hay
  • Aroma - creamy, very much like a typical Chardonnay scent.
  • Taste - slightly creamy, somewhat bitter.
  • ABV - 13.5%
  • Overall - I didn't enjoy this Chardonnay at all, it didn't go down well and tasted bitter to me.

Semillon (2011), $17: "This off-dry (slightly sweet) wine is Kalyra's quintessential summer wine, with hints of apricot, white peaches and vanilla.  A great match for light cheeses or sushi, and the perfect poolside sipper."
  • Color - clear, yellow tinge.
  • Aroma - cream, but slightly tart with a 'fresh' smell to it.
  • Taste - complex for a white, pleasantly sweet, with notes of apricot and ripe fruit.
  • ABV - 13.5%
  • Overall - I really enjoyed this Semillon, and the description the winemaker gave goes perfectly.  I truly did start to crave sushi, and could envision myself relaxing at the beach or pool with this delicious white wine.
Sangiovese (2009), $28: "This Tuscan varietal is slowly building momentum here in the Santa Ynez Valley.  The tannins are very structured and the 26-month French oak aging is subtly integrated in the wine.  It shows off bright black cherry flavors and a ripe sappy berry finish."
  • Color - medium burgundy.
  • Aroma - black cherry, slightly sweet.
  • Taste - light and fruity, but not overpowering.  Tastes of berries with slight tannins.
  • ABV - 13.8%
  • Overall - This was alright, but not my favorite.
Concordia Blend, $30: "This blossoming cuvee is a tremendously balanced blend of Sangiovese and Barbra both sourced from right behind the winery at Vina de Santa Inez.  It offers dark fruit on the front and a soft, luscious finish."
  • Color - deep burgundy, bright garnet, purple.
  • Aroma - sweet and refreshing, fruity.
  • Taste - incredibly smooth and fruity with a soft finish.
  • ABV - 13.7%
  • Overall - This was my favorite wine on the menu! It was absolutely delicious, and I couldn't go home without a bottle.  They also let us revisit a wine, and this is the one I chose.  A great red!

NV Cashmere Blend No. 64, $19: "This delicious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah shows off rich berry flavors and has a nice full body.  The Merlot adds some classic structure and mildly complex tannins.  The Cabernet Sauvignon adds a delightful nose and some soft chocolate overtones on the finish."
  • Color - very deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - bright and lively.
  • Taste - smooth and light, could definitely taste the Cab.  Slight tannons.
  • ABV - 13.8%
  • Overall - This was my second favorite wine on the menu! Very tasty, how a red should taste.

NV Orange Muscat, $17: "This particular Muscat dessert wine was fortified during fermentation for a resultant 15% alcohol and 8% residual sugar.  It has nicely balanced flavors of citrus, apricot with a touch of orange blossom and honey on the nose."
  • Color - muted gold.
  • Aroma - citrus and honey. Surprisingly not very sweet smelling.
  • Taste - Citrusy with a hint of apricot and honey, not too sweet.
  • ABV - 15%
  • Overall - For a dessert wine, this was alright.  I enjoyed the unique flavors and aroma of honey and apricot.
NV Rare Tawny, $30: "Aged in French hogshead barrels for roughly 10 years.  This Tawny port style wine is truly opulent, showing off flavors of dark berry fruit, as well as raisin, prune, and just a touch of hazelnut."
  • Color - burnt burgundy.
  • Aroma - almost sickeningly sweet.
  • Taste - too overpowering, tasted like cough syrup to me.  I could taste the raisin a bit.
  • ABV - 18%
  • Overall - This port hit me the wrong way; I really could barely take a sip.  However, my friend who doesn't normally enjoy dessert wines liked this one... but that could also be due to the fact that this was our 3rd winery :P