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.