Wednesday, December 26, 2012


A quick trip up to Paso Robles this past week.....just barely a day and a half...seeing old friends and
having the privilege of meeting two new (to us), exciting winemakers:

Aaron Jackson of Aaron Wines!  Previewing his upcoming releases was a treat!  But, being introduced to his BIG Petite Sirah (WHY is a BIG Sirah called petite?)...was a WOW!  As Aaron states on his bottles:  GO BIG OR GO HOME~
BUT....when you GO home, you better be taking some of his Petite Sirah with you!  Thank you Aaron for the hospitality and introduction to your wines.

Then, a few hours spent in the home of Guillaume and Solene Fabre, of Clos Solene.  Just two of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. Guillaume and Solene's wines are nothing short of amazing:
Homage a Nos Pairs...a blend of 95% Syrah, 3% Grenache and 2% Mourvedre is liquid velvet, and their L'Insolent, 60% Cabernet and 40% Petite Verdot----indescribably delicious.  Who says Paso can't produce
some of the best Bordeaux wines in the state?


Guillaume, Solene and their two precious children Clementine and Jean, with cousin Shelley and Ashley, Myself (Lynn behind the lens) and Guillaume and Solene's wonderful wines!  Tre Magnifique!

Of course we LOVE meeting new winemakers and making new friends....but no Paso trip would be complete without always seeing some of our old friends...this time:
Maggie Tillman of Alta Colina.....finally getting to sample the 2010 Toasted Slope and finding out what all the rage is about!
Nick Elliott of Nicora.  Sampling (and coming away with a bottle) his soon to be released GSM2010!  Get it before it's gone.  Nick may only be on his second release, but he has already hit the big time!

And Daniel Daou.  Thank you for the magnificent lunch Daniel...and Soul of a Lion is even better after being in the bottle 4 months.  Can't wait for that release in February!

And upon our return:  WINE NIGHT!  This was Grenache night....With 4 different entries:
From Dr. Mike and Pamela:  Orin Swifts 2010 Abstract!  THE WINNER
From my Dana and Matt:    McPrice Myers 2010 L'Ange Rouge
From Paul and Ellen...always a different and unique "elder" wine.....a 1995 Beaucastel Chateauneuf Du Pape
and..from Me and Lynn:  A 2010 Linne Calodo Sticks and Stones

Needless to say, although there is always an official winner...all the wines are always unique and wonderful, and a pleasure to be exposed to.

                                             A picture IS worth a thousand words...especially
                                                                       during wine night           


(From the left:  Pamela, Mike, Dana, Matt, Lynn, Paul, Ellen
and yes, Don is behind the lens)

Happy people drinking good wine
Drinking good wine makes happy people

                                             HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Welcome into our home!  Please join us again, as we sip, eat, chat, laugh and enjoy ourselves with some unique and eclectic wines, accompanied by food, food and more food and of course, a sinful dessert.  The main ingredient of the evening, bringing it all together, is friendship, laughter and a love of wine.

Normally, our Wine Group's Wine Night focuses on brown bagging a specific designated wine type, with definite parameters, and not unveiling what we are drinking until all wines have been adequately sipped, savored, discussed, rated and scored.  However, Tonight...Wine Night was designated as:  "Bring ANY good bottle of wine" night.  No restrictions! No brown bagging, no analysis, no rating, no competition.  Just an evening savoring a variety of eclectic and unusual wines to be enjoyed and sampled by all.

And if eclectic was the requirement for tonight's wines....they were just that. This evening melded the three ingredients for a successful gathering:  Wine....Food....Friends....all blending well together.  With wines from around the world, and around the state.

Let's get started:

The evening begins with a glass of Don Burns' (Westberg Cellars)
Willow White

As each guest arrived, so did the appetizers----which would have been enough for dinner itself!  Starting casually with appetizers, our guests were  introduced to something new, Westberg Cellars Willow White.  Don Burns (Westside of Paso Robles) is a small, handcraft winemaker, turning out some wonderful wines.  Willow White is the color of golden hay, aromatic and crisp.  Citrus, white peach, nectarine and melon. It is a creative blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.  A perfect start to the evening....made to sip on its own, or with our assorted appetizers and cheese.  A perfect start to what will follow.
Now easing into "the mood," dinner is served!   Bring a a good bottle of wine night is also "make your own taco night!"

Make your own Tacos (or taco salad)....with a variety
of fillings, salsas and condiments

And once everyone has a full plate.....let the wine tasting begin!

Tonight's line up of eclectic wines!

Wine Night usually presents us with a special surprise, something from the depths of Paul's substantial cellar.  Tonight is no exception:  A  1997 Brunello di Montalcino Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona.  This 100% Sangiovese was soft and silky....very nice subtle tones of red fruit and chocolate with some subtle spiciness.  It is always such a pleasure being treated to a rare and old wine that Paul pulls from his vaired collection.  Having the opportunity of sharing a fine bottle of wine that normally none of us would ever have the chance of tasting or purchasing adds a wonderful intangible to the evening.

Ontogeny comes from the Greek word "ontos", and translated means:  "The origin and development of an organism from conception to adulthood."  And that is exactly what Russel Bevan of Bevan Cellars does with this incredible Bordeaux blend. The 2009 Ontogeny, a blend of  45% Cabernet Franc, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 5% Petite Verdot, has quickly evolved from infancy in the bottle to a full fledged adult. It is light, supple, and sexy with teasing aromas and flavors of plum, cherry and blackberry,  floral and chocolaty on the edges.A tapestry of flavors.  If you haven't had Ontogeny, you should get a bottle, and you may experience a true wine epiphany.

Cousin Jacqueline, our evenings invited guest, pours a 2005 Darioush Cabernet Franc.  Delicious!  Full bodied, with an enticing nose. A hint of pepper and raspberry.....this Cabernet Franc, usually used in blending, stood well on it's own.  Normally expecting this to be intense, ageing has mellowed out the juice,   As Goldilocks would have said:  NOT too light, NOT too strong...but JUST RIGHT!

As always, there is a Doctor in the house, and good Dr. Mike contributed a 2007 Barossa Valley Bella's Garden Two Hands Shiraz.  It's been awhile since Dr. Mike has shared one of his Australian gems with us.  An integration of subtle cherry and red fruits...not too spicy, with some subtle minerality----good by itself, good with food and displaying the character of the Australia terroir where this is grown.  Smooth with a lingering finish....yummy Mike? Being a Shiraz (Syrah) it was fun to drink this side by side with the other contribution of the evening, also a Syrah:

Epoch's 2009 Block B Syrah.  Paso Robles of course HAD to be represented, and Dana and Matt did not disappoint:   BIG, BOLD, IN YOUR FACE...the Epoch 2009 Block B Syrah is simply described as 4th of July and New Year's Eve fireworks going off in your mouth.  big and chewy, a cacophony of rich, decadent flavors, one after the other.  Nothing subtle here like with the Two Hands.  You will either love this Syrah....or it's just not your style!

Are those chocolate/pumpkin Tarantulas?  YES!
along with a few other yummies

Chocolate and pumpkin personal cheesecakes, and chocolate cookie/pumpkin filled TARANTULAS! winking at you! Made from scratch by Cousin Jacqueline.....baker extraordinaire.  Of course, any great dessert must be accompanies by a dessert wine, in this case a 2009 Dunham Cellars late Harvest Riesling.  Having the pleasure of meeting and spending time with Eric Dunham up in Walla Walla, Washington earlier this summer...this was the perfect pairing with our dessert.  Pear and apricot, full and pleasing to the senses...this was the perfect ending to a perfectly wonderful evening of eclectic, unusual wines (and food)!

As usual, everyone went home happy and well sated.  Looking forward to the next meeting of our wine group, when we will be back in sync, with the next host determining a specific wine or type, where the competition to bring the #1 rated bottle of the evening will continue.  Of course, the bottom line seems to be, no matter which wine is voted #1 for the evening...they are all #1!

Now...that looks like one happy wine group!

Until the next time you can share our wine night....please leave your comments, email me, forward this blog, or post on your website.  And remember:

A bottle of wine begs to be shared; I have never met a miserly wine lover.
~ Clifton Fadiman

As always, it is good to share our wine night with you.


Monday, October 1, 2012

PETITE SIRAH NIGHT!! It's about food, wine, friends

It's about Good friends, wine and food

Dear Friends and fans and wine lovers:  Please sit back, open your favorite bottle of wine (preferably a Petite Sirah), and sip along as I have you join another of our wine group nights!

Wonderful wines, food, fun, friends and some friendly competition as to who brings the "winning" wine.......of course, there are no losing wines!

The evening is hosted by Paul and Ellen...and this has been designated:  PETITE SIRAH NIGHT!
As we enter the den we are greeted, by chance, with a glass of Per Cazo Tres Blanc (the white wine for red wine lovers, as Lynne Teckman of Per Cazo describes it), a perfect prequel for what would be (another) memorable evening.  Along with the wine, a tantalizing spread of appetizers welcomed us, an eclectic array of small bites to stimulate the senses, and prepare us all for a bacchanal evening.

The evening's special guests, Ethan and Rebecca from Atascadero, have prepared a plethora of unusual appetizer treats, the standout being a duck prosciutto---OMG...amazing in every way!  One day Ethan will definitely own a restaurant, and treat his guests with unusually creative and tasty gourmet delights.

In addition to the duck prosciutto some of our other gastronomical delights included: jumbo shrimp, an assortment of gourmet cheeses, duck port mousse, marinated feta with capers, stuffed grape leaves, salmon collars, smoked salmon goat cheese spread, hummus, tasso ham, chili spiced pecans, almonds....and the list goes on.  (Calories not included).

Appetizers galore

and yet....more appetizers

the appetizers are a meal in themselves

After getting our fill of is time to wine!  Tonight's brown bag event features 5 Petitie Sirahs. No restrictions as to vintage, AVA or country of origin...only that it be 100% Petite Sirah.

Tonight's line up of Petite Sirah!  Ready to taste, enjoy,

The evening progresses as we sip, reflect upon, talk about and rate each bottle.  Some are huge and jammy, others subtle.  Long finishes.  Lighter, yummy, jammy, dark fruits, tobacco, leather, sexy, fruit forward, full mouth feel, good nose, balanced, young, layered, chewy, incredible.  Each person with his (or her) own analysis and opinion.  No "right" descriptions, no "wrong" description.  Just individual tastes and preferences coming together in a friendly competition, to share some really good wines and food.  Among jokes and laughter.

Agreements, disagreements, opposite opinions, concurring opinions, individual scores being recorded.  But one thing everyone can agree on:  All of the wines are wonderful.  And everyone is having a grand time.

It is now time to tally up....see which wine received the highest score of the evening.  The "winner" not having to put in their $$ contribution to the wine kitty we are building for a special night out.  (Invited guests don't contribute to the wine kitty).

We tally up....and then the suspense builds:  Unwrapping each bottle we get to see what we have been drinking, and how it is rated:

Bag #1:  Arata's, 2008, Napa
Bag #2:  David Fulton, 2006, Napa
Bag #3:  Jacob Franklin, 2009, Napa
Bag #4:  Alta Colina, 2010 Ann's Block, Paso Robles (about time there was a Paso wine in the group!).
Bag #5:  T-Vine, 2009 Frediani Vineyad, Napa.

The lineup revealed

OK...I may be Paso prejudiced, but 
 I was quite surprised that I was the only one to bring a Paso wine!  Especially
among all the Pasofiles in attendance!

Everyone holding their breath (and secretly praying that their wine will be #1-yes, there is a bit of ego involved here)....but wait..what's that...a SIDE bet on the table?  Oh yes, Dr. Mike has previously proclaimed that HE would bring the "winning" wine so just to add a little spice, I threw in a $5.00 challenge, that my wine would beat his!  (Yes..we are big betters here).

The scores are announced from lowest to highest.  They are close, but wait, what's THIS?  Re-adding, re-calculating...just to be certain. Yes!  This has NEVER happened before in the history of our wine-off!
Two wines receive an average of 95.4!      WE HAVE A TIE!

The #1 Wine(s) of the determined by our panel of sippers and wine lovers...turns out to be:

2009 Napa T-Vine.....
(Dana and Matt's)
Full bodied with an enticing nose.  Easy on the pallet without any harshness.
Full of dark fruit, blackberry quite evident and a hint of slight pepper on the finish.
The intense dark fruit flavors blend and evolve.  Full mouth feel but subtle and
somewhat sexy.  This wine is ready now and is a WOW!

along with Paso Robles' own  
Alta Colina 2010 Ann's Block Petite Sirah!

(The 2010 Ann's Block is anything but "petite."  This isn't a wine for sissies.
Right out of the bottle, there is definitely some hotness and rough edges.  But, it's very 
young, recently bottled, and needs time.  I decanted 4 hours, and all I can say is:  WOW!
A nice nose, and the first sips amaze the senses.  Firm, well balanced, the hotness gone,
Nicely smoothed out.  Predominant flavors of dark fruit, dark cherry, licorice, light hints of tobacco and leather on the very long finish.
This wine fills the mouth, is well structured and layered.
Given another few years in the bottle...I think the only way to describe it will be AMAZING.
Frankly.....get it, decant it, and it's already amazing.
Definitely a 95+)

Tonight's WINNERS

Mike:  Hand over that $5.00!  Way to go Paso!  Paso once again proves that they produce wines equal or superior to their Northern California Big Brother!  First it was the Cabernet in the now famous Daou blind tasting Napa vs. Paso (check out the U-tube video). Now it is Petite Sirah from Paso.

Fully sated and more course is now served:  Turkey and Beef Hot Dogs, with mango salsa, avocado mash and cilantro mayonnaise.  Accompanied with crepes stuffed with mushrooms in a cognac, Marsala reduction. And on the lighter side, a refreshing baby lettuce salad with watermelon.

Sitting around the table, eating (some more), drinking (some more), re-visiting the wines...laughing, enjoying the company and the "fruits" of the evening, it is another successful wine group gathering.

Someone is having too much fun!  Or too much wine?

There is ALWAYS lots of fun and laughter at wine night!

But wait...Ohhhhhhh...more food!  It's desert time!  And Pamela has made two different and delectable mini cheesecakes: One cherry, the other chocolate.  Sweet, flavorful, just enough for a bite or two so as not to over indulge.

Mini personal cheesecakes...sooo yummy and sooo moist

But...just when you think you have eaten all you can eat...Ethan and Rebecca bring out plates of vanilla ice cream, drizzled with Kiler Ridge late harvest olive oil (yes..I DID say olive oil), and lightly salted!  You would SWEAR you were eating vanilla ice cream with a butterscotch topping!  How amazing and different and creative!

Yes...that IS late harvest olive oil you see!  Not butterscotch sauce
though you would never know that by tasting

As the evening comes to a close----all of us are now ready for bed.  Now the planning begins for our NEXT wine night in November.  The writer and his wife will be hosting our November get together.  A wine type to be decided, rules to be laid down, side bets most likely to occur.  Food to be prepared and enjoyed.  But most of all, the great wines and food, bringing together a group of good friends along with another invited guest or two, to share in the whimsical, wonderful evening of wine.

If you have enjoyed this recap of our latest wineventure, please comment, email me, become a fan, post this on your website or FB page....I love to hear from you.

AND....Thank YOU, for joining us around the table in spirit, and being a part of our wine night!

Good wine makes good friends, and good friends makes any wine better.

Cheers to the next time,
(email me at:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Preparing for a great evening of food and wine at Indigo Moon in Cambria 
the night before the NAPA-PASO Cabernet Challenge

                                  12 out of the 14 of us who will share a fabulous weekend.  

Serious wines
Prepping our taste buds for the next day



We all know and love the historic “Judgment of Paris” story that shocked the wine world in 1976.  This legendary event put California on the map and recognized Napa Valley as a world class wine area when 2 California wines defeated France in a blind taste competition in Paris.

What you don’t know, is the recent story of the “Napa-Paso Competition”----where 7 highly regarded Napa Cabernets were blind tasted against 3 Paso Robles Cabernets.

When: August 4th, 2012. 

Where:  Daou Vineyards, Paso Robles, California.

Who:  Seven couples, ranging in age from their 20’s to 60’s.  Not elite wine connoisseurs, not wine experts or critics, or wine professionals, just 14 people with a common love of good wine.  14 people constantly seeking out new, innovative wines and winemakers….the great and the soon to be great.

We are the people with a passion for boutique, exciting wines.  We are the consumers!  We are the people who talk about the wine, who vote with their taste, and don’t chase after the current “best” or “highest point” or current “in” wine, but look for the best of the hidden gems.  We are 14 people with somewhat discerning tastes, who know what they like…and know what they love. 

Invited to participate in a blind tasting of the “Napa vs. Paso Cabernet Sauvignon Challenge,” 
we enthusiastically accepted.

Daniel Daou of Daou Vineyards, taking a chance, put 3 of his Cabernets on the line against 7 of Napa’s esteemed Cabernet names.  Names that are synonymous with Napa.
The Set Up----Preparing to accept the challenge 

At 4:00pm on August 4th, 7 couples took their seats around the large tasting table at Daou Vineyards, atop Daou Mountain, in Paso Robles, California.  In front of each couple were 10 numbered glasses, each with a 100ML pour, along with pen and tasting note sheet.  Seven premium Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons, and three Daou Vineyard Cabernets.

Silence around the table….2 hours of tasting, analyzing, smelling, sipping, eliminating, re-visiting and judging.  Trust your Taste.  Going back, comparing, whittling down.  Trusting your Taste and thinking about your first impressions.  The color, the nose, the mouth feel, the flavors, the finish…  Trust your Taste.
It's serious business now: Tasting, analyzing, making notes 

One by one, each person handing in their score and comment sheet.  Each wine rated from 1 to 10 
(10 being the best), along with tasting notes and comments.

Waiting for the tally and results, we were finally able to talk to each other about the wines.

Incredible, wonderful, so difficult to tell apart.  Such subtle nuances between them all.  But most of all, the honor all of us felt to be invited to partake in the experience, to be able to judge 7 Napa Valley gems, against 3 Daou Cabernets.  Napa, known for their Cabernets, Paso, known for their Rhones----and a winemaker dedicated to proving that Paso can and will produce a cabernet that will stand equal among highly regarded Napa Valley Cabernets.

The results are in.  We are told that the scores are close.  Less than 1.75 points separate the #1 rated wine from the #10 rated wine on the 10 point scale. 
The Brothers Daou:  Daniel (left), Georges (right) 
As They Announce The Final Results

Taking a chance, Daniel Daou has put his wines in the gun sights.  How will this new Paso Cabernet producer fare pitting his three cabernets against the Cabernets of Napa? 
 Nothing ventured, nothing gained……Only the final results remain:

#10:  Berringer Knights Valley Cabernet, 2010
#  9:  Passenger Cabernet, from Stag’s Leap district, 2009
         (a new project from Kimberly Jones and Chris Blanchard)
#  8:   Paul Hobbs Napa Valley Cabernet, 2009
#  7:   Daou Cabernet, 2011, soon to be released
#  6:   Honig Napa Valley Cabernet, 2009
#  5:   Relic Artifact, Napa Valley Cabernet 2009
#  4:   Daou Reserve Cabernet 2010, soon to be released
#  3:   Schraeder, RBS Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyards Cabernet, 2009
#  2:   Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet, 2009

separated by ½ point from #3, and by .22 points from #2

          (release date, February 2013).
Daniel Proudly Announces:  And the Winner Is:  Daou's Soul of A Lion 
2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon


WHEN will the industry recognize this?  WHEN will the world recognize this?
AND WHEN, will there be an official competition that proves what we and so many other Paso wine lovers already know:  Paso produces world class wines-and world class Cabernets.



Just hanging out after the tasting

Monday, June 25, 2012


The Pacific Northwest...Washington State

What do you say when you get introduced to a brand new geographical wine experience, incredibly gracious and friendly winemakers and winery owners...and wonderful wines?  WOW!

If you LOVE PASO.....and the'll love the wines and people of Washington State too.  Having the opportuity and priviledge to meet and greet some of the states top winemakers, it's hard to do justice to all the wineries and people I met, and wines I here is a brief recap of a few of the incredible wineries and people Lynn and I had the pleasure and opportunity of meeting and sipping with.

But before you read on, pour a glass of your favorite wine....kick back, relax and take a short journey to the beautiful Pacific Northwest with me.....

The Washington wines we tasted all had one common theme:  They portrayed a distinctive earthiness and minerality in addition to the specific characteristics of the individual grape.  Food friendly and subtle with well balanced acidity and lingering finishes.  An obvious difference in texture and taste from their California (specifically Paso) cousins.

The terroir of Washington State (specifically Walla Walla) is SOOO different from Paso...and California in general.  Not primarily clay, calcium and limestone, the terroir of Walla Walla is predominently river rock and gravel....and as the winemakers describe the dirt "talcum."  Giving the wines a unique earthy, minerality....a Washington State wine is as different from a California wine as an apple is from a fig.  Extremely intriguing as you prepare to taste a Syrah or a Cabernet, your mind preparing you for one reaction, your olfactory senses and sense of taste giving you quite a different reaction.  As I said above:  WOW!  


A few hours spent with Eric Dunham.....of Dunham of the pioneers of Washington State Wines.  First, giving us a history of Washington State wines, and then pouring us tastes of  his beautiful lineup...graciously touring us through his history and his liquid pleasures.

Gilles Nicault, consulting winemaker for Longshadows, and Jesse Gordon (manager) spent several hours touring us and barrel tasting and then finally....sharing their lineup of wines.  A very unique project bringing together several of the greatest winemakers from around the world, each producing an ultra premium wine under one roof.  Gillles supervises the process and passion in helping to create wines by Armin Diel (Reisling - Germany), Philippe Melka and Agustin Huneeus (Bordeaux style-Napa), Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari (Super Tuscan-Italy), Randy Dunn (Cabernet Sauvignon-Napa), John Duval (Syrah--Australia <Penfold's>), Michel Rolland (Merlot-France) and finally, Gilles Nicault and Allen Shoup with their Chester-Kidder New World Blend.  All of these acclaimed winemakers coming to Washington several times a year to work with Gilles in supervising and creating a unique wine experience.  


Having left Walla Walla, I then had the opportunity to visit two wineries in Woodinville.

Greg and Stacy Lill of Delille Cellars.  Meeting Greg in Los Angeles a few weeks earlier, I was treated to a tour of his Chateau and then tasted his lineup of Washington State creations at his tasting room. Greg is a man who obvioulsy believes in paying it forward---being gracious to start up winemakers by giving them space in his winery to begin their craft....the only cost being that once THEY become successful....they pay it forward by doing the same for other new winemakers.  And Greg's a word:  Yummy.

Betz Family Cellars.  Carmen Betz (daughter of the founder) and Steve Grissini, graciously opening their door to me (as they are not open to the public), spending their time sharing their story and passion...and pouring their two ultra premium wines.  Talk about wine heaven!  I would love a side by side of Betz with the best comparable that Napa has to offer....but maybe it's  Betz to keep these two wines a secret.


What makes Washington unique...loveable and incredible, is what makes Paso unique, loveable and incredible.  A true community of winemakers who love anyone else who loves wine, and loves to talk, sip, and share the passion.  Going into the wine rooms in Washington is like going into the wine rooms in Paso:  You are more than likely to be talking to the winemaker/winery owner---for hours on end.  A community that looks out for each other---it's about the wine and the people who love wine.  A sure fire formula for success.

 A special thank you to ALL the winemakers, winery owners, and tasting room personnel who made this quick trip to Washington so special.

And an extra special thank you to my cousin Jacqueline who made this possible by inviting me to "An Evening with the Washington State Winemakers" last month, and to Dominique Calle who took the time to introduce me to each and every winemaker and helped open the doors for me.

Robert Frost once said:  "Good fences make good neighbors."  But good wine, makes good friends.




Sunday, May 20, 2012



Our original 4 couples, plus tonight's guest couple of  honor from NorCal, affectionately known as "the tall people" brought a wonderful collection of eclectic, unusual wines...and several surprises.

5 brown bags, each containing a Rhone blend or varietal......Ah, but before the fun begins....

Each person is greeted with an homage to Thursday Evening's Washington Winemaker Dinner that I was privileged to attend....a glass of Treveri Cellars Syrah Brut sparkling wine, complementing the Rhone theme of the night.  Perfect for a warm spring evening, with a light breeze and the wind chimes singing.

An interesting note is that this sparkling wine was served during the 2011 White House State Department Holiday Reception, the first non-California bubbly ever to be served at the White House.  Deep dark red, yet light and elegant, this liquid delight sets the tone for the evening.  Little tiny bubbles tickling the senses, teasing and tantalizing....with blackberry, raspberry and just a hint of earthiness.  The mood is now set......the evening ready to proceed.....with good food, conversation, friends and of course....Great Wines!  Each wine to be sniffed, sipped, savored, swallowed, analyzed, rated....with an ultimate winner---and certainly no losers!

a perfect prequel to the evening.


Our wine group: Dana, Paul, Ellen, Lynn, Mike, Pamela, Guests Meribeth & Brad, and Matt
*photographer, moi, not shown!

The discussion of wines and the judging begins.  Some huge, fruity, stand alone wines, others more delicate, food friendly, layered and complex.  All of them amazing and having something for everyone!  

The winner was a unanimous choice....(which will be revealed below)---
All of us rated this the Wine of the Night!

tonight's ultimate #1 was smooth and seamless, layers of light red fruits, minerality and earthiness, well balanced, not too much acidity, a subtle sour cherry tartness...and a finish that just went on and on
and on..........................just....sooo......good....and yummy---sooo good with food, and on its own.

After several hours of tasting, eating, revisiting the wines, eating more and being totally satiated, it was time
to score and unwrap----revealing each bottle:  


Normally, a RHONE THEMED NIGHT would unveil a heavy preference of  Paso Robles wines!
But...that was NOT the case this night!

Tonight revealed eclectic choices----and some enjoyable coincidences.

There was Only ONE Paso Rhone
Herman Story's 2009 White Hawk Syrah---yummy yummy yummy!
A huge jammy, wonderful, fruit forward Syrah

VINEYARD!  This WAS a co-incidence!
From the esteemed Cayuse Winery was a 
2008 Encerise Vineyard Syrah  
Subtle red fruits, smooth, long finish, some earthiness and minerality
and a 2008 Armada Vineyard Syrah
Intense red fruits, nice nose with a finish that was incredibly long and tantalizing

So interesting, these two wines from the same vintage and winery, display similar yet differing characteristics...and so different from the jammy, fruit forward big mouthy Paso Rhones (Syrahs) we are used to!  These two wines were separated by our rating panel (all 10 of us) just half a point!

But...what's this?...Another co-incidence!  TWO French Wines?  YES!
Both 2007's, both Chateauneuf-du-Papes!

a 2007  Domaine Durieu Avril Chateauneuf-du-Pape
nice nose of raspberry and red fruits, some minerality, but a shorter finish.  This wine will develop
sooo nicely over the next few years

and....the WINNER....the #1 wine of the night, already described above
A unanimous choice by all...

a 2007 Christia Chateauneuf-du-Pape!

Complementing the #1 wine of the Night....All the wines were winners


Even though there was an official winner (congratulations Paul and Ellen)
they were ALL winners....nothing to whine about these wines!

Keeping in tune with the evening's wine event, Paul, provider of the winning wine,
also set the tone for tonight, reaching into his wardrobe to proclaim:

"Wine a little, you'll feel better"

And of course wine night is also about:  The Food!  Tasty and creative were the appetizers, main course and the devilish desserts!  (With a special Thank You to the main provider of food this evening...MY wonderful much better half---in addition of course, to all the yummies contributed by each couple).

The best part of the evening as always:  Good friends getting together for fun, great wine, food and laughter, with the anticipation of our next wine night!

Remember:  You show me yours, I'll show you WINE!

Cheers to all....

and as always, your comments, emails, passing along my blog, posting it on your website is ALWAYS appreciated!

Until next time, enjoy your wine, and do your Rhone thing.


Saturday, May 19, 2012


How thrilled was I to be invited to the Washington State Winemaker Dinner last Thursday evening, a preamble to the California Winemasters Charity Event on Saturday!  Held on a beautiful private property, several winemakers, along with several well known chefs.....eating, sipping, socializing......

I was excited to meet these wonderful winemakers, especially as I will be leaving for Washington State in a few weeks, and of course, visiting some of Washington's exceptional wine country!

The evenings wines were all incredible:  Rhones, Rhone/Cabernet blends, Cabernets, Sparkling, Whites.  Each and every one unique unto itself.  Having the opportunity to speak individually to the winemakers there, there was one common thread:

Passionate about their art, generally young (at least what I consider young these days!), creative, down to earth, gracious.  Each and every one expressing their willingness to show me around their winery when I come up, to recommend places to eat, places to go.  Loving as I do the down to earth attitude of  Paso, the wines and winemakers, it struck me that here is another region, relatively new, doing wonderful things with wine and wanting to share with anyone who has a love of wine.  I have a feeling when I visit Walla Walla and surrounding areas, I will become enchanted all over again with the creativeness of these personable wine artists.

A special thank you to some of the wonderful people I met, making this an incredible evening and helping to pave the way for what will be a most memorable trip in a few weeks:

Dominique, who took the time to take me around to the winemakers, making a point of introducing me and informing me about Washington State wines and wineries.

Trey Busch...winemaker and owner of Sleight of Hand Cellars.

Gilles Nicault...a humorous, gallant, young French winemaker, director of winemaking for Long Shadows, a consortium of distinguished wineries and vineyards.

Stacy and Greg Lill of De Lille Cellars

Matt and Kim Loso of Barons V & Mateo (who are producing a Merlot that will knock the socks off the best Merlot coming out of our Northern California cousins).

Christian Grieb of Treveri Cellars, offering up a most tantalizing sparkling Syrah, as you entered the premesis.

And....with a picture being worth 1000 or more words.....just a small shot of the incredible dessert table!

An evening of great food and desserts (and chocolates!).  WONDERFUL, creative and varied wines.....but the best part, which I have found to consistently be the best part of meeting new wines, are the people who create them.  The people who put their love and passion in a bottle so that they can share their dream with others.

THANK you for an incredible evening!  And looking forward to spending time with many of you on my upcoming trip to Washington and the Walla Walla and Woodinvale wine country.

Cheers to you all....


Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Tonight I needed a special wine....for a special event!
No, it wasn't an anniversary
No, it wasn't a birthday
In wasn't anything out of the ordinary....except that
Enough of a reason to open a good bottle of wine...

Which turned out to be:  Caliza, 2006 Companion.

And....sipping this wonderful blend of Cabernet, Syrah, Mouvedre and Tannat took me back in time a few years.

I first met Carl and Pam when they started bottling their initial release---the 2006 vintage!  The bottling machine had jammed, Carl, to say the least, was not happy.

Much has changed since then.  Caliza has emerged as one of the premier wineries in Paso Robles, if not California (in my humble opinion).  But....more than that, Caliza burst forth on the Paso wine scene with their initial release, along with several other wineries that have all become world class.

What made tonight a special night while sipping this special wine?  Thinking how fortunate I have been to be involved with so many of these wineries.  Meeting the winemakers, making new friends, sipping wine with them, pouring for them, .....and watching as the wine community began to recognize Paso Robles as a very serious and special wine producing area.

I could say more, but I prefer to let the picture fill in the next 1000 words.  A toast to Carl and Pam of Caliza......and to all the very special wineries, winemakers and friends we have made through Paso wines, that we are fortunate to have in our lives....


And....a special thanks (and additional toast) to all the winemakers and wine lovers who have posted my blogs to their websites, forwarded my blog, and commented.  It is much appreciated.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Ahhhhhh.  It's been toooooo long.  Finally:  BACK IN PASO AGAIN!  (Wouldn't that make a great song title?).  Just a short, quick trip....but certainly memorable.  So...I'll make this a short blog!

Friday Afternoon:  Arriving mid afternoon.....we immediately went up to Daou.  Seeing Daniel who poured us some special wines....including the newly bottled Zin and 1740 (see my Cellartracker review) that we had barrel tasted at our wine and pizza night (my March 4th blog).  Daniel is truly a wine magician---In addition to being just the nicest person you would ever want to meet.

On our way to Cambria....stopping at Epoch's tasting room...trying the newly released 2009's and visiting with Stephanie, Christina and meeting the "new" Epoch "girls."  It's always an epic experience drinking Epoch!  And.....a little different for me this time.....being poured for!

Friday night.....meeting friends Rebecca and Ethan for dinner at Indigo Moon in Cambria.  Yes...the dinner was  amazing...but it was the WINES that made the evening!  A dinner planned months ago.....when Ethan said:  You bring a good Saxum, I'll bring a good Alban.  Oh YES!  Ethan and Rebecca's 2006 Alban Reva---a 100% match Robert Parker's 100 point rating!  All I can say is:  THIS wine knocks your socks off!  Tasting understand what Syrah is all about.

And our contribution:  Saxum 2008 James Berry....a G(52%)S(17%)M(13%).  A 98 point Parker wine.  Fruity and complex....and drinking that side by side with the Alban....what a wonderful comparison of two great wines. evening of liquid and edible Nirvana.

Saturday...spent at the Earth Day Wine and Food festival at Pomar Junction.  Fun with Ethan, Rebecca and their friends Nancy and Jay and Dee Dee and Mike.  Even though the temperature topped out at 97degrees---making it really too hot to drink or eat (too) was just a great day of good food, wine and (new) friends!

First off, a stop at Caliza.....seeing our friends Pam and Carl Bowker.  Sipping their wines....and of course getting some Kissin Cousins....summer is on the way....and this is just one of the most pleasant white's you can imagine....except before you know'll drink the whole bottle!

Then...A NEW winemaker for us!  Nick Elliott of NICORA.  Sampling Nick's FIRST releases:  Euphoric and Buxom.  Euphoric certainly is....with 85% Grenache and the balance of Syrah.  Fruity, flavorful, tantalizing.  And Buxom!  Well..if you love Buxom :)  ...this will get you where you want to go.  90% Syrah from the Alta Colina Vineyard.....huge, chewy, a great mouthful of what a big Paso Syrah should be.

Yep....that's Nick.....and I don't think that grin ever leaves his face!

The bottom line here:  WATCH out for this winemaker!  Nick is definitely one of the new Paso young up and coming very talented winemakers.  Get his wines..and watch him.  You're going to be reading headlines.

Spent the rest of the afternoon helping Lynn Tillman of Alta Colina in the tasting room (while MY Lynn was off supporting the local economy).  Maggie was off in Thailand, and Bob was holed up figuring out his next barrel order. So I was given the pleasure of pouring some wonderful wines (my personal favorite is Alta Colina's Toasted Slope Syrah),  meeting some great people (as I always do when I pour)....learning more about Alta Colina and their story.  And glad to be able to do a little pouring, sipping, talking and enjoying the Paso experience.

Dinner that night at Thomas Hill Organics. OMG!!!!!!  The open faced duck sandwich with pecorino...was unbelievable.  As "they" say (whomever "they" are):  To Die For!  What a creative chef...and wonderful staff.

Like I said...just a quick trip....visiting good wine, good friends, making new friends, more wine, good food....and then back home on Monday.  It seems the weeks don't have enough days or the year enough months to fit in all that we want to do in Paso!  But...maybe that's a good thing....we always have something special to look forward to.

Until my next blog...which may be about Paso, or just a good glass of wine....
To YOUR health!
And please....pass on my me ( love hearing from you.

A Votre Sante!

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)

Friday, April 6, 2012


Wine gets better with age...I get better with wine...and good friends like you make the
wine even better.

As we are commanded to drink 4 glasses of wine at our Passover Seder
following is our PASOver lineup

Wishing for peace, health and happiness
and cherishing our friends and family


Sunday, March 4, 2012

A wineDAOUfull night!

What could be better....
than an evening spent with Daniel and Robin Daou...and a group of Pasofiles.....sharing an incredible elite assortment of wines....from Paso, Napa and France?

Daniel and Matt
"OMG!  I can't believe Daniel Daou is in MY backyard!"

Just some of tonight's wines!

An evening of gourmet pizzas from my daughter and son-in-law's (AKA Dana and Matt's) outdoor pizza oven!  Truly, nowhere can you get pizza better than from the Saly Cortile Cucina!  (Also known as:  Their backyard pizza kitchen)----where chefs Dana and Matt create the most delectable gourmet pizzas ever to grace your senses---move over Wolfgang---there's a new pizza maven in town!

Around the pizza oven!

Now, For My Blog Job:  How do I (somewhat briefly) describe the many fine wines we enjoyed and shared last night?

First...and foremost...were the STARS of  the evening (and the stars were out brightly on this late winter night---with temperatures dipping into the low 60's):

Two not yet bottled DAOU delights:

Starting with:  Daniel's first Estate Zinfandel Reserve--2010.  And trust me...this isn't like any Zinfandel that you have ever swirled, sniffed, sipped, savored or swallowed!  Soft and bite....soft tannins, wonderfully balanced.....drink with food or sip on it's own.  But be aware:  This ain't no kid's Zin!  This is a Zinfandel to be reckoned with---with the layers of fruit and subtleties teasing their way through your palate and memory, long after that first sip.  Dare I say, my wife couldn't get enough of it!

The next preview wine from Daniel's new line up:  The 2010 Daou 1740.  Named after the 1740 Spanish Mission bell in Daou's tasting room...this St. Emillion style blend of 33% Merlot and 67% Cabernet Franc is nothing short of  AMAZING!  Sexy, seductive and silky---well balanced---a finish that goes on and on. Ever evolving hints of  raspberry, plum, some earthiness---and yes....suddenly hints of butterscotch on the nose.  Ageable yet drinkable now.....we all agreed:  THIS was a wine like no other any of us had ever had the pleasure of experiencing before.

And another Daou favorite:  Daou's 2009 Celestus.  Daniel's yummy blend of Syrah (61%), Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot.  Dark and aromatic....definitely pleasing to the taste buds of those who enjoy a yummy,chewy..yet subtle and seductive wine.
You could say...the Celestus is celestial! the pizzas kept coming out of the oven.....the "other" spectacular wines of the evening, each one of them unique, were sipped and enjoyed by all:

Saving a special wine for the last several years, for the right occasion and the right people...this was the night to open and share a 2006 Close des Papes Chateauneuf -du- Pape. A classic French wine. was everything that the reviews held it up to be.  Dark and fruity...raspberry...floral....a hint of cocoa and earthiness....the finish lingers on the palate.  "One of the two or three candidates for wine of the vintage" as described by Robert Parker.....Thank you Mike for sharing your elite colletible bottle with us!

Clos des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2006

Giving proper recognition to the area that put California on the world wine map.....there were some incredible Napa Cabs shared:

Robin, Pamela, Ellen and Lynn
having a winederful evening!

Do you remember what were you were doing in 1986, as the harvest was being picked in Napa?  Probably not thinking about wine...or what you would drink 26 years later.  We have become spoiled by Paul's collectible gems...a 1986 Shafer Stag's Leap Napa Cabernet!  To think...a quarter of a century old!  So interesting, to have the pleasure to taste a much older Cabernet---and compare how they differ and have evolved from the younger cabs most of us drink today.  This fine unique one of a kind wine....something you will never have the opportunity to taste--unless of course, you are part of our group!  An earthy, leathery nose...herbal and smokey...with a subtle jamminess and layers develop as the finish teases and challenges your senses.

Then came the Chimney Rock Kairos Vineyard 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.  Fragrant nose, full, fruity, subtle....with a lingering finish, typical of what we expect from a select Napa Cab.

as was the 2006 Cosentino Estate Oakville Cabernet.  Full, rich and jammy....fragrant, with a silky finish, exemplifying the best of what Napa is known for.

Being in need of yet more wine...Matt pulled from his cellar a 2008 Caliza Companion---a wonderful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Tempranillo that Carl and Pam Bowker lovingly crafted.  Proving without a doubt that the Winemaker's craft can weave different varietals into a wonderful, tasty, tantalizing liquid tapestry.

And finally, to finish off the evening....pure, liquid gold...or "the honey" as Bob Tillman refers to his
2010 Alta Colina Late Harvest Viognier.  Not ultra sweet, thick and syrupy as many "dessert" wines are...but soft...and "just" sweet enough.  In fact, who needs dessert when you have THIS as dessert!
Bob's sweety!

The evening wore, wine and friendships woven together by the common theme of wine.  "They" say that wine is made in the vineyard....but, I think... wine is made by the passion of those who put their life, love and personality into the bottle along with their beautiful juice.....and then are gracious enough to share it with others.

Lynn...."just one more sip of  Celestus!"

If the Wine of the Vintage was the 2006 Chateauneuf des Papes....the WINE OF THE NIGHT.....was WITHOUT question... Daniel Daou's soon to be released 1740!

Thank you Daniel and Robin for joining us for this evening-----I speak for all of us:  Dana, Matt, Kerry, Bob, John, Cathy, Paul, Ellen, Mike, Pamela, Lynn, Brian and even Murphy (the dog).....
For making this a night to cherish and remember:
Matt, Dana, Me, Daniel, Bob


AND...such was the night...a night of Wine, Friendship, Laughter.....with our "extended" wine group....graced by the presence of  friend, winery owner and master winemaker Daniel Daou along with his delightful wife Robin.  A night to be cherished.....and to linger in the memory as a fine wine lingers on the palate.

Until next time...may you have all the best of health and happiness
while sipping and sharing a bottle of love with others.