Wednesday, November 23, 2011




(because we no longer say "old")



don and lynn

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


If a picture is worth 1000 words....than 14 pictures are worth 14,000 words!  WHAT can be said about another incredible trip to Paso....THE California Wine Country!  Talented and friendly winemakers and winery owners displaying their love, passion and produce YUMMY and creative and share food, laughter and wine with.

And with my weekend starting by pouring at EPOCH ESTATE VINEYARD'S Tasting Room, surrounded by these gorgeous KNOW it's going to be a winederful weekend...
Pouring and sipping...and listening to music at the Paderewski Fest...with my wife and new friends
THEN....the next day...let the tasting begin...with the ALWAYS gracious and wonderful Lynne Teckman and her delicious and palate pleasing Per Cazo wines....where nothing is ever left to chance (per cazo meaning "by chance")
Followed by our visit to Carl at Caliza---meeting some new old friends----it's been way too long since we were there
And....after that most educational vineyard tour several months ago...we HAD to take our friends to meet and sip with Bob Tillman of Alta Colina...another of Paso's elite rising stars

Then, up the road a bit for our visit to L'Aventure....where we received a royal tasting hosted by Robert....and a peek into their wine future.....and we'll never tell what is IN that Booty Barrel....but trust'll want some!
As all good things must come to an end....the last tasting of our 3-1/2 days.....Tuesday morning before heading Daniel Daou's new...up above the clouds tasting room at the top of Daou Mountain.....with THE most panoramic view of Paso and it's magical vineyards and fields......Daniel being the consummate Frenchman and host....passionate, humorous, gallant---and another irreplaceable new friend....

The fall colors were amazing
We even had time to visit the elephant seals north of San Simeon...
AND had the WORLD'S BEST LOBSTER Indigo Moon in Cambria

The ONLY problem being:  WHERE to put the luggage for our drive back home!

WHAT makes our Paso trips best?  Is it the wines?  The ambiance? The new friendships we have established with winemakers and other wine lovers like ourselves?  The beautiful scenery?  The food?....
All of it combined...where the parts equal more than the whole....for another winederful trip
Putting a perennial smile of contentment on all of our faces

Until next time.....

Cheers....drink good wine with good friends---because that IS what it is all about
Life is Good


Monday, November 7, 2011

A Taste of Chianti!

Can you remember walking into that small neighborhood Italian restaurant....the Aria from Madama Butterfly coming through the loudspeakers, red and white checkered plastic tablecloths....sawdust on the floor...a hot pizza steaming on the table....and a bulbous bottle in a straw basked filled with "Chianti"...and when the bottle was became a candle holder......this is what Chianti USED to be!  But our latest Wine Night and gracious hosts Paul and Ellen....who designated this Chianti night...proved that this was no longer your straw basket $2.00 Chianti!

Before starting with 'the main event' we were served an enticing Vigna del Vulcano Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio 2008 Bianco ...  an Italian white...the grapes grown on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.  Closing your eyes, you could whiff and discern the earthiness of 2000 year old ash and lava....layered in with the aroma and flavor of peach and lemon, with a hint of floral aromas.......talking, sipping and enjoying the assorted appetizers....we then moved onto the Chianti tasting....

...3 bottles, all brown bagged, blind tasted, analyzed, scrutinized, smelled, sipped, savored, swallowed and finally rated.....ALL Chianti's....all incredible!  Finally....after drinking and was time to see WHAT we had consumed.........
1).  2007...Castello di Brolio, Gaiole in Chianti.  Full bodied, fruity, layered, a nice finish.  Sippable with or without food....or as (Mike hates to describe a wine)...simply YUMMY!
2).  2006...Villa Cafaggio, Panzano in Chianti.  Definitely food friendly..smooth..., somewhat earthy...more subtle.....and
3).  2006...Vigna del Sorbo Fontody, Panzano in Chianti.  Hmmmmm....interesting....
as we blind tasted we all had the same thought and said:  Wines #2 and #3 seem very similar!  Are they the same??  Could it be two of us picked the same wine? you can see.....we were close...same vintage...same area!  And very distinctive from the 2007.  In fact...Paul said:  These two are the SAME vintage!  WHAT a pallet our Mr. Paul has!

After an evening of eating, sipping, comparing, analyzing, re-tasting side by side.....we scored and rated....and TONIGHT'S WINNER!   AT LONG LAST!  MIKE!  With his 2007 Castello di Brolio!  CONGRATULATIONS MIKE!!!!!

but finish the evening with a perfect sip....Paul broke out  a 2002 Deinhard Beeren Ausslese Rheinhessen.  A just sweet enough dessert wine to go with the fabulous creme brulee made by Pamela and Mike!

Needless to say...yet ANOTHER GREAT WINE NIGHT!  Friends, food, wine......and now....onto the next in another month or so...

But meanwhile:  UPCOMING!  A trip to PASO !  with appointments and tastings lined up.....and all those wines should be quite:  YUMMY!  And of course, my comments next week.

As always...feel free to share these comments, comment me directly....and enjoy a good glass of wine.


P.S.  AND....if you just happen to be pasoing near Paso this Saturday (November 12th), and come by the Epoch Tasting might just see me pouring......and sipping---come by and say

Thursday, October 6, 2011


As Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons would have crooned:  "OH WHAT A NIGHT!"
A magical gourmet night of gastronomical creation by Chef Partner Jason Moffitt of Roy's Restaurant in Woodland Hills.

The Occasion:  3 couples getting together for a great evening of food, wine and you need any other excuse?

An 8 course special tasting menu prepared especially for 6 of us to pair with the four wines we brought.
Melt in your mouth, delectable flavoring, creative presentation, wonderful sauces,
---my descriptions will be brief...because there is no way I could amply describe each incredible dish that was served over 3-1/2 hours...starting first with the
HAMACHI....(a juvenile yellow tail...found in the best sushi bars).  Rich and buttery....with a sauce that just put you over the edge.  Followed by a single large
SCALLOP...prepared to perfection....melt in your mouth..excite your senses....tease your taste buds. Next was
OPAKAPAKA...again with incredible sauce, flavors, garnish....and a lemon/mushroom risotto that put you in heaven.
The above paired with a 2008 CHATEAU MONTELENA CHARDONNAY.  Rich with flavors of apple and pear, and slight minerality.  This is the chardonnay that won the 1976 Paris Wine Competition, and won again 30 years later!  (well..not THE bottle of wine...but "the" bottle of wine.").  Moving right along to course #4.....
LOBSTER...meat served on a pretzel roll....along with a small lobster claw.  YUMYUMYUM...and then a small
QUAIL.....succulent, with an incredible brown sauce.  These two dishes paired delightfully with a 2008 SHEA PINOT NOIR from the WILLAMETTE VALLEY.  A typical Oregon pinot...fragrant, fruity, and a little spicey, with some minerality and a wonderful long finish.  
And then...the intermezzo.....
SORBET.....refreshing, tasty, palate cleansing.....a preamble for the final main course....a small...perfectly done---flavorful
FILET MIGNON.....and yes....THIS non meat eater ate every morsal!  And would have eaten even more!
This...accompanied by a BRANCAIA TOSCANA II BLU 2004.  A super Tuscan, full bodied, with dark fruits, velvety and well balanced.
AND....IF THAT WAS NOT ENOUGH!  As we opened and poured a 1989 Villa Helena Dulcinea from the Napa Valley---a special select late harvest dessert wine.....came
DESSERT!   A s'mores creation.....but not like any s'mores you have ever had.


AND A SPECIAL "THANK YOU" TO JASON....for such a wonderful evening. Bob Hope would say:  Thanks for the memories.....

Thursday, September 22, 2011



Oh...but it IS! (an Anomaly that is).

I make no apology for my preference and prejudice for just about anything it one of the select Paso Bordeaux producers or be it the incredible mouth watering, complex, layered fruit bomb Rhones that Paso is garnering a worldwide reputation for producing (not to mention scores that are knocking the !*%#! out of their Northern Cousins).

However, once in awhile...a Napa secret is born and discovered....a superstar that doesn't rely on a long standing geographical or varietal reputation...but one that is blazing new frontiers and setting a new bar of excellence, expectation and elegance.

Such is Steve Goldfarb's ANOMALY VINEYARDS Cabernet.  And the quality and WOW factor here is certainly no anomaly.

Just having opened a bottle of the 2003---I have to say that this bottle....compared to other Napa Cabs I have tried...just sets a new standard.  The subtle fragrances build as the bouquet of black fruits, cherry, plum gather force.  Then, that first sip.....makes a statement!  Fruit forward...forceful yet with a seamless and bright elegance and sophistication....that teases you and just stops short of exploding into fireworks.  Subtle, sexy and seductive as you would expect a cab to be from Napa....yet tantalizing with black fruits, a slight tartness, with great balance and a hint of earthiness and layers of flavors that keep changing.  A finish that slowly lingers on as your mind tries to grasp that last nuances of flavor.  And are left with a memory to recapture...or if lucky enough....another small pour.

Sipped with an incredible meal, with sister and brother in a birthday celebration...makes it even more special.

This is NOT your old-timers Cabernet! a STATEMENT of what Napa cabs could be when you dare to push the envelope on the old tried and true.....

Anomaly may be somewhat of a newcomer to the Napa scene......but....they have definitely made a statement, have created an elite place for themselves, and have a loyal following.

Try a bottle and see for yourself......become a believer.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011


It's getting to look a lot like HARVEST TIME IN PASO!

Just a quick trip for us this time up to Paso and back!

Starting out by pouring at Epoch Estate Winery with Stephanie and Christina, is just too much fun and sets the mood for the rest of our time in Paso.  Having the opportunity to pour wine, talk wine, drink wine, make new friends and then share a wonderful evening with them over wine and dinner, is priceless. Especially being able to sample one of Epoch's soon to be released new wines, Sensibility...ABSOLUTELY YUMMY!  A sensible blend dominated by 75% Grenache!  Be certain to order it upon release, it's sure not to last too long.  Nick and Dawn, Tom and Jillian and Rebecca and Ethan are three of the most delightful couples that my wife and I had the pleasure to drink and dine with this past weekend.

and...what can I say about Daniel Daou and Daou Vineyards?  Certainly not enough.  Gracious and affable host Daniel spent a good part of the morning touring us around his facility.  I am amazed at what I constantly learn about what goes into making a truly premium wine.  The picking, the equipment, the process, the barrels...and most of all....the true passion!  And Daniel's soon to be finished Tasting Room!  "WOW" doesn't even start to do justice in describing it.  You can already feel the warmth and intimacy that all will experience while sipping and looking out over what must be the most incredible view in the entire region.  That...coupled with the brilliant wines Daou makes (my current favorites being Celestus, a true celestial experience, and the unfortunately, unavailable except in my cellar Syrah)---are certain to put a smile on everyone's face.  We are still basking in the afterglow.  Be certain to plan to visit Daou's Tasting room sometime soon after their Grand Opening in late October.

And a special "Thank you" to Robert at L'Aventure for tasting us through their wonderful 2009 line-up.  While Optimus continues to be (IMO) the flagship----the 2009 Estate Cuvee is just....well...."indescribably delicious."  This blend of Syrah, Cabernet and Petite Verdot gives off an array of fireworks in your mouth, coupled with a silky, seductive blend of changing flavors and a finish that just does not want to quit.  Try it if you can.....I don't want to spoil the surprise by giving too much away.

As to food:  A trip to Paso just wouldn't be complete without a trip to Il Cortile.  Santos never fails to delight our senses with his creativity....yummmmm.   A gourmet treat in Cayucos is Cass House.  My, oh My!  A 4-course tasting menu (which actually was a 6 course menu) spread over about 3 hours of conversation and good wine, was worth every penny.  And if you want to be truly evil....take a trip next door to the Brown Butter Cookie House.....but watch your waistline---it's easy to get carried away sampling the delicious sea salt cookies (and then buying) their many delectible hand crafted varieties.

A last wine note:  Our new friends Ethan and Rebecca brought to dinner at Cass House a 2006 Vinoterra - Kisi (Kakheti).  This is a Georgian (the country, not the state of) white....which is as different, unusual, interesting and tantalizing as anything I have ever tasted.  Golden (like the sun) in color, with hints of dry hay, apricot, and nuts...the flavors kept changing as the wine opened up....truly a new winederful eperience.

Although this was just a quick trip....we are already looking forward to our next.....during Paderewski Fest in November.

Please...feel free to send me a comment, forward my blog to a friend, post it on your FB page...and drink good wine!

So...until next time, I leave you with this thought,

I am beauty and love;

I am friendship, the comforter;

I am that which forgives and forgets.

The Spirit of Wine.
W.E. Henley, British writer (1849-1903)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


What could be better than a quick, impromptu road trip up to the Paso Wine Country!  Leaving Sunday, coming back home Tuesday----and being able to sample some upcoming releases from a few favorites.
AND...if YOU happen to be up in Paso this Sunday the 18th (between 1:00-closing)....please drop by the EPOCH TASTING ROOM on York might just find me behind the counter pouring some favorite Epoch wines (including the 95 point Authenticity) please come in and say HI and sip along with me.

Speaking of Epoch.....if you haven't received your Fall Release letter---sign up now at:  The store will open on September 26th at 9:00am----you don't want to miss getting in on another epic release from Epoch!

Hope to see some of you on the 18th!


Sunday, August 28, 2011


The night before Wine night and all through the house (ooops...wrong story)...there was wood fired pizza night at Dana and Matt's New Outdoor Pizza Oven Kitchen.  This certainly set the tone for the eating and wine tasting weekend.....with just the BEST pizzas I have every eaten (along with some great Paso wines).....good food, wine and of course, the Chef and Cheftress:  My son in law and daughter!  That said.......

Our Wine Night Started out with quite a KICK (from Kick Ranch that is!)!!  As the 4 other wine affecianados arrived....they were served a 2010 Bevan Cellars Sauvignon Blanc...and that set the tone for the evening with quite a KICK...  A strong vibrant blast of grapefruit, citrus and tropical fruits....which left everyone saying saying:  WHERE can I get THIS?  Well.....unfortunately....Russell sold out of the we'll be looking for the 2011.

After an appropriate time period.....4 brown bagged bottles, numbered 1-4 were placed on the table.....each to be blind tasted:  Poured, viewed, sniffed, sipped, savored, reviewed and rated!  All we knew was:  2 bottles from Paso.....and 2 bottles from Napa........after a fun evening of eating, sipping, dissecting, tasting, eating some more, re-tasting....changing our notes and reviews (and scores)....taking over 3 hours...each bottle was discussed....scores were added up....and the bottles then unwrapped and revealed.

The Napa Line Up:
Anomaly, a 2006 Classic Cabernet.  Soft, sensual, well balanced with a defining flavor of blueberry (so says my wife), light tannins and just oooohhh sooooo smooth and mellow.....this just got better and better as it was paired with the appetizers around the table.  There certainly is no Anomaly about the sensual pleasures this winery produces.....for anyone lucky enough to have ever experienced a bottle (or two).

Heitz Cellars, Martha's Vineyard Cabernet....1986!  Wait!  Was that a typo?  1986?? Paul (THE collector of our group), has been enjoying, buying and collecting wines for about 30 years...and was kind enough to share this rare gem with us.  Designated a Cellar Selection by Wine Spectator...WAYYYYY back in "the day"....everyone picked this as a Cabernet during the blind tasting.  A Cabernet yes, but soooo different from the cabs we generally drink and are used to.   Earthy and subtly robust (is that a conundrum?), with beautiful coloration....still spicy, somewhat earthy and with a full mouth feel.  Imagine our surprise when this wine was unveiled and we saw this was a 1986!  Thank you Paul, for sharing this 25 year old gem from your cellar.  Certainly, something we would never have experienced.

The Paso Lineup
Aha!  Let's throw a little confusion into the mix now!  While brown bagged....this big Paso wine was a definite fruit bomb....complex and layered....a wonderful nose of black fruits....flavors going from cherry, to leather to subtle spice yet not overpowering....definitely NOT syrah based, which would be normally expected from a big Paso behind bag #3 was
Denner Vineyards, 2008 Mother of Exiles!  LO and Behold...a Bordeaux blend!!---70% Cabernet sauvignon, 20% Petite verdot and 10% Cab Franc.  Just a little interesting twist for the evening! So who says Paso is ONLY about The Rhones?  Move over have some serious competition here.

And finally.....when unveiled, bag #4 contained
Saxum's  Heartstone Vineyards, 2008.  A classic Paso GSM (or maybe SGM, as it is more heavily Syrah based).  A huge yet smooth Rhone blend...exhibiting the qualities you expect in these three Rhone varietals.  Dark fruits, spices, licorice and a finish that went on.....  It will be fun to see how this one evolves over the next many years as it grows up and gains age and maturity.

And...THE MOMENT OF TRUTH....the FINAL RATINGS FOR THE EVENING!  As the good Dr. Mike said:  It REALLY isn't fair to compare and score the more subtle, sexy and smooth Napa cabs against the bigger, Paso fruit bombs-----as we love them all.  So....that kept in mind.....they were ALL winners!  How could they not be....with 4 distinctively different wines exhibiting a plethora of individuality and personality, and maturity.  Flavors and textures changing by the minute as they were paired with a variety of foods and cheeses, exhibiting personalities as different as those of the people around the table.

Wine is so individualistic...and who can say that any one of these 4 (or 5 if you count the Sauvignon Blanc) was better than the other!  They simply all contributed to another winederful evening of expressive fun, flavor and friendship.

THIS was a winning night for everyone----


Saturday, August 20, 2011


 So Friday night was Bring a GOOD bottle night at Kevin Jones' LA Cellars.....and some GREAT bottles were brought to be shared and enjoyed by all......A wonderful, HUGE Napa Cab with fruit flavors that exploded in your mouth and a finish that was incredible (QUIVET...a new one for me) incredible Portuguese red blend (Yes..I need to write down the names and vintages).....Torrin 2008 Banshee----yummy yummy yummy, some wonderful California Pinots, a Saxum 2007 Heartstone!  (My oh My)! and several other unique and mind boggling wines.  The BEST part of the evening however, was seeing old friends, making new friends, and the generosity shown by all with the wonderful wines that everyone brings to share and explore.  Kevin always has a delightful group, provides great cheeses and just a casual and relaxed atmosphere for everyone to sit around and chat, sip, laugh, finish out the week and slide into the weekend.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Paso BD trip...PART 2

Ahhhhhh..and THEN....there was CALIZA'S Carl and Pamela Bowker.  I first met Carl a few years ago when he was bottling right after opening the tasting room.   JUST as my lovely wife and I approached him...the bottling line stopped.  The labeling machine had mis-fired...and botched up the bottling process.  Carl did NOT have a smile on his face...needless to say. That was a very very quick meet and greet.  But these days, there is not much to keep that smile off Carl's (or Pamela's) face.  With consistent 90+ ratings from '06 onward....and a steady and growing fan base, Carl and Pamela couldn't be happier.  You might just want to sit back and relax and be one of Caliza's "Kissin Cousins" on a warm afternoon......or just be a good "Companion"....a delicious tantalizing blend of Cabernet and Syrah.  Bottling glitch or not....what comes out of their bottles will keep you smiling till your next sip.  And Carl and Pamela are always there to talk, sip, and share their liquid passion.

So....what ELSE would a guy do for his birthday when up in Paso?  "WORK!" OF COURSE!  My afternoon spent pouring at the Epoch tasting room......finally I was able to sample (and pour, and chat about), some of the new and great 08's!  The 08 Tempranillo.....definitely an epic (or Epochical) sensory experience!  Complex, wonderful tongue popping  flavors with a tantalizing finish....I thought the 07 was good....but the 08 is a major mouthful of yummy.  And of course the flagship 08 "Ingenuity" a wonderful subtle and complex Rhone blend of GSM and Petite Syrah----drink it now...drink it later.  Drink it with or without food...but when you drink it the big smile will come to your face....can you say heavenly?  And while the temperature is still hot with warm nights....coming from someone who really does not favor rose....Epoch's new rose (almost equal parts of grenache, syrah and cunoise) is just a beautiful mixture of strawberry, raspberry, kiwi.  Sip it by the pool as the breeze blows in the late afternoon.....but be careful!  You may want to stay OUT of the pool-because you can finish the bottle before you know it.  And pouring alongside Stephanie and Christina, two of the nicest (and most knowledgeable) young women is a pleasure.  Pouring, sipping and making new friends....and re-meeting old/new friends I poured for before (Rebecca and Ethan) is what the Paso wine experience is all about.

The evening finished off at a new restaurant in town:  Roberts!  Definitely an "A" lister!  This one is a keeper.....try it if you haven't.  And of course, the old new favorite:  Il Cortile....nothing on the menu less than 5 star in preparation, presentation, creativity, flavors.

Of course, the highlight of the trip was being with my kids----they arranged most of the tastings and the sip and greets.  Kids, wife, friends, food, Paso wine......
we'll be back soon.
and as always, PLEASE!  Feel free to comment, email me at, pass the blog along...
and drink good wine.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Paso BD Trip...Part 1...The 3 "W's"...Winemakers, Wines, Wineries

So many (great) wineries....We'll try to keep this brief and succinct....but since I recently kissed the blarney stone...I now tend to says the wife

Our experience with Scott Hawley (Torrin Wines----SEE PIC ABOVE) was nothing short of amazing.  No finished product to pour....but Scott had just laid out about 30 glasses or so of wine juice and initial start working on his 2010 release.  And we were SO privileged to be there, get some great wine education, sip and throw in our 2 cents worth on what will eventually be another banner release for Scott....simply an amazing highlight of our trip to be in on the beginning process of creation...with just one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet...and drink with.  One of my favorite Torrin wines is "The Maven"...and Scott may not realize that he really named that wine after himself...because Scott IS a Maven.

No Paso trip would be complete without seeing Anthony Yount (Kinero/Denner)...."Alice" has left Wonderland to reside in my house....supple, structured, lingering and teasing...and best on a warm summer day or evening.  But....Anthony's newly released Chardonnay......well....from someone who is not particularly a chardonnay fan...THIS one is (to use a well known phrase):  Indescribably delicious!  I'd suggest you get some before he runs out...which he will.  SOOOO much fun to follow Anthony's progress with his own Kinero and the Denner brand....certainly one of the youngest, best and brightest of the Paso elites.......Cheers Anthony!

And when God created the Universe, and said "Let there be Wine" he created wonderful land and vines...and we were lucky to have a long and detailed vineyard tour by Bob Tillman and his daughter Maggie, owners of Alta Colina.  A 90 minute fascinating education of  their history, the terroir, vines, grapes, plantings, sun, weather, and in a nutshell......everything that goes into getting the grape from the ground into the bottle.  After the vineyard tour (highly recommended for any of you wine people when you go up to Paso), we of course, then tasted (and purchased) some of the wonderful Alta Colina finished product.  Bob and Maggie are just the nicest, most gracious people, but then again......we seem to find that a very common thread among the Paso wine community.

And not enough can be said about Daniel Daou and Daou Vineyards.  This is another fairly new on the Paso winery scene wine guru .....hitting home runs from bottle #1!  Daniel Daou is a wonderful, humorous, friendly Frenchman (as I have always found the French to be)....his excitement and passion for what he is doing is reflected in every sip of every wine he makes.  Wanting nothing more than to bottle liquid perfection....he is pretty much there....especially judging from all the "sold outs" on his wine list!  His "Celestus" and Zinfandel (which makes the pallet and heartstrings go zing...and clang clang clang goes the trolley) is just an incredible experience and reflection of his quest for liquid nirvana....not to mention his (sold out) Syrah.  You will find it quite a treat if you have a chance to sip anything Daniel is putting out....obviously....great things to come here...and we can't wait.

The always gracious and wonderful Lynne Teckman of Per Cazo....certainly leaves nothing "to chance" (Per Cazo meaning "by chance") in either her hospitable home wine tasting setting or with her sooo sipable creations.  Each wine is paired expertly with easily found cheeses or chocolate covered almonds.  My personal favorite is "Epi Telos"....yummmmmmmmy.  Lynne is so in tune to making your wine tasting experience one of perfection, she always arranges for you to watch the deer and rabbits play in her back yard as you sit and sip by her pool.....with the breeze from the Templeton Gap playing music in the trees.

Finally was a new meet and greet for us:  Jacob Toft OF Jacob Toft!  Just "another" of this elite group of young, passionate, fun and friendly winemaker superstars.....who just wants to put smiles on every ones face as they drink his wine.   His current wines are sold out, so if you happen to make an appointment to see him, be certain to sign up on his email list.  Jacob will regal you about his history and how he lovingly names each wine in a special way.  "Elizabeth's Cuvee" being the one that danced on my tongue....a special wine named after a special woman.  But..if you want to know more about the women and wines in his yourself a up Jacob and meet and sip with him.

and so....this ends Part 1 of 2 parts of my Paso BD for Part 2.....having to do with:  Food....and Wine!

Comments and emails always welcome.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


 POP QUIZ:....what can be better....than a birthday dinner (for my son in law and me) at Geoffrey's in Malibu....with the sun setting overlooking the Pacific Blue....and the crescent moon overhead?  
ANSWER:  Not much...when it's a great dinner with my bride, daughter, son in law, son, favorite mother in law and two of our other closest friends:  Russel Bevan's Unbelievably aromatic and tasty 2008 Ontogeny (Oh My...a Bordeaux blend that just is incredibly layered, complex, flavorful sexy and seductive...with a finish that goes on and on....followed by Eric Jensens hit you in the face, smash mouth 2008 Fracture...which certainly didn't fracture anything...but brought the entire meal and evening to a wonderful climax.  A 100% Paso Syrah that is the 4th of July fireworks extravaganza going off in your mouth!  Of course, both accompanied by incomparable food that complimented both wines sooooo well---or---foods that complimented the wines.......(and the paella.....with the Syrah....paradise found).  Two exquisite 97 pointers.... good.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

It's been awhile

Between travel overseas and life in's been awhile since my last post.....would you believe in the UK we had some GREAT wines!  French, Italian, Australian, S. African...and believe it or not...very reasonably priced.  In 3 weeks we only saw ONE U.S. brand on any wine was always the same winery....from the Central Coast....for you trivia buffs (and baby boomers) is a hint whose winery it was:  If you look really might see Davey Crockett or Dan'l Boone in the hills around this winery..... glad to be back and drinking some great, complex wine again...speaking of....
Last night was SYRAH (or Shiraz) night for our wine group....3 couples....3 brown bags of a premium Syrah/Shiraz......

In Bag #1....was a big, Jammy, fruity, spicy, licoricey, Very YUMMY, dark inky purple liquid...that just exploded in your mouth....and had an incredibly long finish.  You COULD describe this wine in ONE word (as one of our favorite Central Coast Winemakers does....and has been quoted in the paper...), but there may be minors reading I'll keep it G rated!  This wine was a definite a WOWZER...and with a piece of jalapeno  cheese....OMG....fireworks in your mouth.

In Bag #2.....was another BIG, jammy, fruity dark purple liquid....more minerality and limestone here....spice and white pepper, cocoa.....nice legs (and we do like legs)...nice long finish....good structure, complex and again...the cheese and more flavorful foods...really brought out the flavors....which went on and on.....then onto

Bag #3......Definitely a different animal (or fruit) here.  Lighter bouquet....much more subtle than the two above...kinda sexy..a tease...a very nice fragrant nose that challenged the senses.....slightly less of a finish than the others, less alcohol,  but definitely much more food friendly....  If it hadn't been Syrah night.....we would have questioned if it was the same grape....absolutely lovely.......then...after having sipped (many times and many wines)...and eaten...and sipped again..and again.......the moment of truth!

WHAT was in Bag #1?  #2? #3?...and...which one was RATED by our esteemed (and by then slightly tipsy) group as The #1 winner..the #2 winner and the #3 winner (because...there are no losers)!

Starting with Bag #3 (and the #3 winner)....  Yes...our friend and major wine guy usual...would throw something different, challenging and unique (from his esteemed cellar),  into the was a "little" syrah (or hint:  sirah) in Petite '03 from the Sonoma Coast.

Bag #2 (and the #2 winner)....from Dr. Mike....a wine you really HAD to get your HANDS around (and THAT my friends, should be a HINT)  '07 Two Hands Shiraz from the Barossa Valley.....and

#1 Winner.......from the Central '08 Syrah of Epoch proportions (yes..another HINT).....Block B Syrah from Epoch Estate Winery.....

All the wines came in very close.....and so hard to pick "a winner" as each had their own, singular characteristics.....and were SOOOOO good and YUMMY!  So....

Until Next Wine....

K Syrah/sirah/shiraz!

As always.....your comments mostly appreciated...and you can email them to me at:

(and...if you can't guess WHICH California Winery kept appearing on the wine lists in England, Ireland, Scotland and me for the answer...or...if you CAN me!)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The road less travelled

Well fellow wine lovers...looks like I'll be taking about a good four week hiatus....where I will be trading wine for brew and whiskey.....over in the UK and Ireland (still trying to get invited to that Royal Event)!  So have a wonderful spring....have some good wine for me....and we'll be back talking about wine (and maybe a little beer)  after we travel down the beer and whisky roads.....those roads less travelled.

Friday, April 8, 2011

On the Wine Road-Paso to Napa-Sonoma and back again I sip and savor, I'll try to keep this brief and to the it will cover a week's worth of wineing (NOT whining), and fooding.....starting (of course) in Paso...with Anthony at Denner....and the new release of the 08 Mother of Exiles.....OMG! now THIS is a world class Bordeaux blend...and I'm sorry...but I had to pop the bottle in Napa...and all agreed....unbelievable (even our Napa born waiter).  And before leaving Paso...dinner at Il Cortile with our friend Lynne of Per Cazo Winery....which may mean "by chance," but there is nothing about her wines that are left to chance.  And Il Cortile is definitely setting the bar for Paso dining......So...onto Napa...

Day #1....some very nice wines and wineries...but the standout for today..was the always reliable and outstanding Plumpjack.....yummyummyummy '08 Cabernet......with dinner tonight at REDD...and as great as the dinner was (and it WAS!~quack quack quack....loved the duck)....all I can say is:  CHOCOLATE MANGO TRUFFLES...OMG!...That....with some '07 Denner Ditch Digger (OK....another great Paso wine)....pure salivary heaven.....Life is good with great chocolate and great red wine.... to (briefly) re-cap 13 wineries in 5 days...along with amazing restaurants!  Most of our wine tasting was by private appointment.....and we all agreed....each and every one was special and wonderful..however....there were definitely certain standouts...stratospheric wines and tasting rooms...such as:

Chateau Montelena.  How can you NOT go to Napa without going to Chateau Montelena----which put Napa not only on the California wine map...but on the World Map in 1976 when their Chardonnay stunned the world by beating the best of the best in the Paris tasting.  And, their chardonnay today...certainly does NOT disappoint.

O'Shaughnessy.  OH MY!  Talk about unbelievable, silky, sexy, seductive Cabernets.  And the architecture, caves and tasting room.....totally amazing.....which was followed by an equally amazing experience at

Lancaster Estates.  Wines to tease and inspire the senses.  And another incredible cave and library tasting....but just when you think it can't even be equaled.....there was

Jordan.  Vertical incredible library....complete with secret passage.
These three addition to their world class wines....rival any Chateau in France for their elegance and beauty.......... CHALK HILL, although the whites were quite memorable, there were two elegant red standouts:  The Estate Red....a mouth watering, full, layered, textured Bordeaux Blend, and their 2008  Cabernet Carmenere---yeah...just had to buy some of each.  Unfortunately....we were unable to meet with the winemaker...but...I think I have already.

Now I will admit, I'm NOT a big California Pinot fan...much preferring (for my palate at least), the pinots of the Willamette Valley in Oregon....That being said.....after arriving at

Merry Edwards and being treated to a wonderful side by side of 5 different must be said.....if I had to describe them in a word...amazing....and equally amazing....were the Pinots of

Adrian Fog and their most energetic and personable winemaker Stewart Dorman.
If you aren't a big Pinot fan....try either of the above...and you will fall in love.

After our 13 winery extravaganza.....and all winery hosts spent 1-2 hours with us....sipping, educating, laughing, tasting, talking..... and giving us all an incredible wine learning/tasting comes down to one question:

Despite the fact that the wineries briefly described above were definitely the superstars of our trip...the wines, the wine makers, the  hosts.........WAS THERE A BEST? Could 5 PEOPLE... with 5 different pallets, 5 different levels of wine knowledge and experience......5 different personal likes and dislikes...agree.
It was a UNANIMOUS DECISION....that the superstar standout of this trip....the rock star....the blow my mind OMG (as the younger generation says)...was

Russel Bevan of Bevan Cellars.  We weren't even able to taste a bottle sample....they were all barrel samples....and all I can say is...if you can score a bottle of their amazing Cabernet or Ontogeny or Merlot (which you will never guess is a Merlot) it.  Close your the $ and get a bottle of Bevan.

Now this posting would not be complete without briefly mentioning a few standout restaurants:  Auberge du Soleil...amazing food...amazing view

Cyrus:  Probably the most incredible meal I have ever had...anytime...anywhere (yes..that includes France)...a waitstaff that was ever present and unobtrusive and humorous....and a 5 course tasting menu (which really turned out to be more of a 11 course menu)...that was..over the top in a nutshell....and their assortment of chocolates...for THIS chocoholic...I died and went to chocolate heaven that night.

The El Dorado Kitchen.  Sitting on the patio...a light breeze blowing, 75 degrees as the sun sets. And the day boat scallops...NOT to be missed.  Nirvana.

Every meal was amazing.  Every maitre d', server, busboy....perfection  On a scale of 100...this trip..wines, wineries, restaurants, food, fun, wines, and the food....was incomparable and rated a 100+  But...the best thing was the company----that just made it all the better.

After all....what can be better than when you are visiting world class wineries, tasting world class wines, dining at world class restaurants serving creative, succulent, mouth watering foods.....and being able to do that with the best of friends and family. PRICELESS.


On the wine road....we are blessed to be in California.....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

1 Night-6 people-4 bottles

Ahhhh yes....our group wine night!  And the hosts requirements were: Bring an Eclectic bottle of wine (which we brown! and THEN open to see what we drank)!.  OK...first off, what the heck does "eclectic" mean relating wine?  I guess....sort of subject to personal interpretation.....which made for an interesting assortment of wines last night (because's a "Rhone night" or a "Bordeaux night" or a "Pinot night" or "California"...but last night...Eclecticism ruled.....any type from anywhere (originally I was thinking Thunderbird or Boone's Farm--now...THAT'S Eclectic).

Just to tease our pallets as we arrived, host Paul started us with a Crema di Limoni---a creamy lemoncello with--oh yeah..20% alcohol!  Sort of a light, creamy, lemony, liquid velvet....and what a kick!....then.....let the tasting begin:

....onto the brown bags--which had now been numbered
What was in bag #1?  Not able to see the wine of course...most agreed it was a little spicy, some pepper, loads of dark plumb fruit, nicely balanced, smooth and subtle with a nice finish.  Light tannins, probably not very age worthy...but very drinkable. Very pleasant wine....and it had a hint of just "something" that we could not "quite" identify.

Next....bag #2! this was BIG!  Huge!~  Fruit bomb....most thought this to be a Paso wine (and I was getting looks).  First...maybe it wasn't even my wine...second..I swore I did NOT bring a Paso wine this time!  No one believed me.  Lots of dark fruit, plumb, sour cherry, earthy and mineralty finish. Good tannins, age worthy.  BIG mouth feel, nice and complex and well structured...with an incredible finish.  All agreed...this beat bag #1.

after some more good talk and food (guacamole, shrimp, an assortment of cheeses, fruit, lox/cream cheese canapes, and other goodies--and of course, chocolate).....we went onto bag #3!

OK.....everyone now is glaring at me...DEFINITELY a Paso wine!  No one believed me.  THIS was jammy...big big fruit bomb.  Something indiscernible teasing the nasal senses. Great nose, Good tannins, huge fruit, structured, complex..definitely would age very well...... then lingering to an earthy finish that went on and on.  This was (sorry Mike)  definitely YUMMY!  Let me repeat:  VERY YUMMMMMMY  It was a hard choice between #2 and #3....but the final tally was:

3rd place:  Bag #1:  Which turned out to be a 2008 Malibu Solstice Cabernet!  Grapes grown high in the hills of the Santa Monica Mountains....overlooking Malibu and the blue Pacific with it's rolling surf....  Oh...and that "something" we could not "quite" identify?  Could it have been a hint of salty ocean spray?  The smell of the surf as it rolls into the hot summer sand? THIS is a wine for every night...anywhere, anytime----at $27!

2nd place:  Bag #2.  Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta 2005.  A Chilean Bordeaux blend and Wine spectators #1 Wine of the Year from 2008!....provided by the good Dr. Mike....

and the winner was (by about 1/2 point only)

1st Place:  Bag #3.  2006 Zenato Amarone della Valpolicella Classico!  You see...I did NOT bring a Paso wine!  Wine Spectators 2010 #36 of the top 100.

All the wines were wonderful...and eclectically worldly: were the hosts and the food and the conversation.......but I think (And Mike agreed)....the best part of the evening?  WE BEAT OUT PAUL!!!  FINALLY!!!!  Probably won't happen again....(as Paul IS Mr. Wine).......OK...that wasn't the best part of the was one of the best parts.

but I'm still wondering:  WHAT was meant by ECLECTIC?


Friday, March 18, 2011


Just a teaser here.....but in less than 2 weeks, my wife and I will be wending our way up to the northern part of the the land of the "King of the Red Wine Grapes"---Napa.  Of course, NO wine trip would be complete without first stopping in Paso Robles.....the finally recognized apex (IMO) of creative winemakng..... to barrel taste a nice assortment of 09's with my favorite winemakers.  Then....onwards for a 6 day trip of swirling, sniffing, and sipping at some of California's most renown (Napa and Sonoma) wineries.  Eight days of sipping incredible wines, eating at incredible restaurants (such as Il Cortile in Paso Robles), and meeting with wonderful winemakers....
Life is good.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


As my kids get ready to go visit some of our favorite wineries and winemakers up in Paso this weekend, just thought I'd throw the following down to think about.  Oh...and what are we doing while our kids are enjoying themselves?  Babysitting of course!  So I hope all who see them this weekend let them know what wonderful parents they have...

For all you history and wine buffs......
.....what is the connection between the Declaration of Independence conceived by the (2nd) Continental Congress of 1776 and the winemakers of Paso Robles?......Ahhhhhhh...gotchya there don't I?
Maybe it was the stars, maybe it was karma, maybe it was a result of the big bang theory, maybe it was when Jupiter aligned with Mars and the dawning of the Age of Aquarius...or maybe it was just one of those accidents of history that brought together the incredible minds of Jefferson, Hancock, Adams, Franklin, etc. to verbalize, visualize and create a never before thought of set of ideas and ideals that culminated in the Declaration of Independence.....and started the Great American Dream....which continues today in the Paso Robles Wine Country....

created by a similar set of circumstances and serendipity to bring together such incredible (and generally young) winemakers at this moment in history in one place, Paso Robles, to create and experiment with terroir and grapes and winemaking----names like Hawley, Yount, Fiorentini, Bowker, Smith, Hoage, Asseo...and all the other great Paso Wine Pioneers---who one way or another have found their way to Paso Robles to conceive of a wine like no other wine before.  Standing alone, blended, with the concept that no grape is created equal----and each individual grape and varietal has something unique and tantalizing to offer.

And what delight to this wine be part of the adventure and growth of the Rhone Rangers (as they are known) they taste, blend, change, conceive and create the new and exciting wine center of California.  With blends and varietals that create excitement and fireworks.

And......this is just the beginning

(If you like my posts...please become a follower....pass this site me...comment).  Cheers

Friday, March 4, 2011

Paso in L.A.

My thanks to Kevin Jones of L A Cellars for the invite tonight to taste Carl Bowker's wonderful Paso wines down here in SoCal.  If you have seen the recent Wine Spectator, Carl, winemaker extraordinaire and owner of Caliza, was one of a handful of elite winemakers featured.  As the evening started out with a small, intimate group, we were all "Kissin' Cousins."  As more people came and met, everyone seemed to find a "Sidekick," and after a few glasses there were actually two "Azimuths" you could distinguish......winding up with a very nice "Companion."  Caliza is one of several exciting, relatively new wineries that is changing the shape and reputation of Paso Robles.....helping to turn this former cow town and hangout for US Army summer camp attendees (yes...yours truly included) into a world class wine destination.  A nice way to start the weekend with a sip of Paso...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Why do I love Paso.....the other reasons

With all the press that Paso and their (incredible) wines have been is a wine guys "other" reasons for loving Paso and the Paso wines so much.......that's not in the published press.
My wife and I have been coming here for years...and over the last 7 or so...really started getting into Paso wines.  Getting tired of just going to tasting rooms....(and being subject many times to the limo party group), we met a winemaker.  He spent over an hour with us---barrel tasting--sipping---explaining...then suggested another winemaker for us to visit. forward:  What I've learned is:  WHERE ELSE can you go into a tasting room, and very possibly be sitting face to face with the winery owner or winemaker----Where else will a winemaker take an hour or two of their precious talk and sip wine with me (or you)...Heck, I'm a nobody. I like wine.  I know a little about wine...but let's face it...I'm not going to have an effect on their overall sales or ratings.  They do it because...well just because---of their passion and your passion.

And Paso is filled with young (20 and 30 somethings and some 40 somethings), vibrant, fun, experimental winemakers....not afraid to push the envelope with their blends and blending.  And that shows in their labels. I mean, elsewhere in California, you'll see an assortment of cabernets, merlots, cab francs, bordeaux blends by top notch name wineries. are more likely to spend an afternoon by the pool with "Alice", or watch a football game and analyze" The Pick", or maybe get down and dirty with "The Ditch Digger", or meet the "Maven", or give your loved one a "Broken Stone"----these winemakers have as much fun with their labels as they do blending and creating great wines...and all the labels and names have a meaning behind it.

Some would say this is a gimmick, a marketing ploy, that Paso needs something to make their wines memorable (as if the ratings and publicity isn't enough)......but I say.....Paso is what America is all about:  Pushing the envelope, experimentation, fun, working together and using good old American "Ingenuity" to define an area that is all about "Authenticity". time you are on the 101 on the Central Coast....don't Paso by...get off...stop,sniff, swirl and sip

Saturday, February 26, 2011

So many wines......

So many wines...especially in the Central California Coast Paso Robles area. my delight, SO many good wines and wineries---in fact, maybe the best.  From time to time I will comment on a specific wine or winery....such as Epoch Estate Winery---oh my...they are all so YUMMY!  Epoch defines Rhone blends at their best....and they are only on their second release.  Not only great wines...but great people and a sense of history....stay tuned for more...right now, I'm enjoying a bottle of their '07 Authenticity.

don sonderling