She says: They’re in the Barrel Room!
She says: Amazing! Pinot Noir grapes as they are being processed. So cool!
Beautiful morning fog to make the fall harvest cooler! Recorded live in Carneros this morning! Dijon clone of chardonnay.
Click the picture, it will take you to the video – it takes a couple of seconds to start, but it’s so worth waiting 2 seconds.
Frog’s Leap, Rutherford, Cabernet Sauvignon
SHE shares how to learn about wine.
HE says: Remember the first wine dinner you attended at my house?
SHE says: I remember most of it. I remember I brought the highest scoring wine.
HE says: Beginner’s luck.
SHE says: Of course. Let’s see… I also remember you had to wake me up to tell me I had brought the highest scoring wine. I remember misplacing the picture of me “Thanking the Academy” with my bottle of highest-scoring wine clutched like an award. And I remember deleting another incriminating photograph or two.
HE says: Yes, that’s the evening. Do you remember what the wine was?
SHE says: YES! Absolutely! A Frog’s Leap Cabernet!
HE says: Not just Frog’s Leap, but Frog’s Leap Rutherford, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2001 maybe? or 2002? I can’t recall. How did you happen to choose that wine?
SHE says: Years of research. (As if…!) Truth is, I was running late (as usual). I ran into my neighborhood wine store “Mel and Rose” (on Melrose of course) and shouted “I need a Napa Valley cabernet for a blind tasting wine dinner w/a bunch of wine snobs! What should I buy?” HA HA!! No, I didn’t say “wine snobs” but I did say “people who know a lot more than I know about wine.” The woman offered me a few wines, I took a leap of faith – and chose the Frog’s Leap.
HE says: Why? How did you know?
SHE says: I didn’t know. I chose it because at the bottom of the label, there was a little note that read: “Open other end.” It made me laugh. I thought, well, if the wine is no good, I’ll have a great laugh with everyone about that sentence. And then it also occurred to me that a company with a sense of humour like that would probably make really good wine.
HE says: Very rustic tactics.
SHE says: Rustic, certainly, but it worked. That time. My other Mel and Rose story of purchasing a cabernet for your fancy wine dinner night did not turn out so well, as you’ll recall. We’ll save that for another blog post.
HE says: And now Frog’s Leap, Rutherford, Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (and 2001) included in the book FINE WINES, The Best Vintages Since 1900 by Michel Dovaz from Assouline.
SHE says: Which I believe you received from your lovely wife as a gift, correct?
HE says: Yes. A great gift.
SHE says: You’re welcome.
SHE says: If you’d like a primer on what’s-the-what on wines of the 20th century along with a fantastic time line of the history of the decades, extraordinary photos of these deeply beautiful and mysterious bottles in their environments, read the book! It’s a very sexy book! I’m not saying it’s a chick magnet, but….
Learn new words like “Apogee” and “Organoleptic” and then try to use them in a sentence after you’ve had a few glasses of wine. And then video tape that effort and share it with us so we can all watch you learn!
HE says: First off, let me admit that I’m not a big Rosé fan. I think it comes down to they don’t have the burst of fruity notes of white wine or the complexity and power of red wine. They seem a bit confused as to what they are — not a white, not a red, something kinda sorta in-between. That’s not to say they’re bad wines, but they just don’t really do much for me. Producers in California have really been pushing rosés the past decade, and every one I have tried has underwhelmed me. And for some reason, all the winemakers love to suggest that rosés are the perfect wines for barbecue. Did they all get the same talking points page put out by the rosé wine council? Well for once I’m going to be serving a rosé with barbecue — ribs, fish tacos, spicy and salty asian flavors — so we’ll see how it fares.
Now that you know my thoughts on rosés, what do I think about the Stepping Stone 2010 Napa Valley Rosé? Well, it’s made entirely from syrah grapes grown in the Oak Knoll district in Napa. They named the wine Corallina, which means coral in Italian and sounds more alluring. The coral refers to the color, and it is a very pretty coral color. We described it as kissed by a strawberry. A soft strawberry flavor predominates. It’s crisp and refreshing, very easy drinking. Would make a nice picnic wine. That being said, it wasn’t a “wow” wine for me, and pretty much fell into the pack with the other rosés I’ve tried over the years. A decent 14 score.
SHE says: A decent 14? I hope my kisses score higher than the “kissed by a strawberry wine”
HE Says: Yes, most of your kisses do score much higher.
SHE says: Most?!?! Your Russian genes are showing. About the wine: You’re very nice. You can stay if you want, but don’t take it personally if I dont’ remember you in the morning, ok?
Links to all of our Fourth of July wine posts.
Picnic Wine – Stepping Stone 2010 Riesling, from Cornerstone Cellars, Napa Valley
HE says: I haven’t had too many California Rieslings in all my years of tasting. This Riesling comes from the Carneros region in the South of Napa, a long ways away from Germany or the Alsace region in France. True to form, the aromas are wonderfully flowery — very similar to the Rocks wine with notes of white peaches. The wine is very different in flavor tho. This Riesling is very dry and crisp, with a nice minerally finish. The acidity will make it great for all our spicy and tangy barbecue flavors. This Riesling is not sweet in any form. I rated it a very nice 14.
SHE says: You’re very serious for a white wine, must be the German genes.
Thanks for reading! Click here for links to all of our 4th of July Picnic wine descriptions.
HE and SHE both say: We had the opportunity to sample some terrific wines at the Stars of Cabernet tasting at the Peninsula in Beverly Hills. Designed by Learn About Wine, this was an excellent event, as we got a chance to talk with several winemakers and try some new wineries. We decided to focus on the 2007 cabernet vintage from Napa.
HE SAYS: Vellum is a new winery, a partnership between proprietor Jeffrey Mathy and winemaker Karl Lehmann. We got a chance to meet and speak with Jeff, a very personable, down-to-earth/up-to-earth guy. I say that because Jeff and Karl were mountain climbing buddies. After scaling some of the highest peaks of the world, they’re now out to scale the heights of winemaking. According to their materials, the winery name, Vellum, “is inspired by an ancient form of canvas known for its incredible ability to age,” which translates well to red wine. Their goal is to make Bordeaux style wines in Napa Valley, especially ones with lower alcohol and balanced acidity. They’re located just east of the town of Napa in Coombsville, CA. You can read more about Vellum Wines on their website http://vellumwines.com
2007 Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon – This wine is their first ever release ($50), which is 84% cabernet sauvignon, 10% merlot and 6% petit verdot. The grapes were organically farmed, hand harvested and came from a two-acre vineyard near the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley. It was made in the style of St. Julien region in Bordeaux, France. Since it was their inaugural production, it sat in 100% new French oak barrels for 15 ½ months, and is unfiltered and unfined. The alcohol level is about 14%, and they made 800 cases.
HE SAYS: The ’07 was very soft and supple, with wonderful berry and cherry flavors. The tannins are medium to low, and the wine is very balanced and drinks great now and has some aging potential. I found it to be a terrific wine, especially right out of the gate, and I scored it a 16.
SHE SAYS:“Ooooh! You’re so stroooong!”
2008 Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon. (Did you notice our focus expanded to 2008 already?) Jeff was even more excited about his second vintage.
HE SAYS: I felt it didn’t have as much body as the ’07, and the acidity was greater. The alcohol was a bit less (13.8%) and Jeff thinks it has better aging potential. They just bottled the ’08 in September 2010, so it was likely suffering from bottle shock. Thus, I chose not to rate it. Both vintages though serve notice that Vellum is a winery to watch.
SHE SAYS: Not much nose, but a whole lot of mouth. A classic in the making.
HE SAYS: Recently we had the pleasure of drinking a 1990 Mt. Veeder Reserve. The Bordeaux style blend was made up of cabernet
sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, malbec and petit verdot. The winemaker was Peter Franus, who now owns his own winery, appropriately named, Peter Franus. This is a wine that I had been holding for a long time, waiting for a really special occasion. I remember I had promised to drink the wine with my friend Andy, but I couldn’t remember exactly why. Anyway, a few birthdays came and went, so I finally just said, “If not now, when?” and decided to uncork it with SHE (the wife) and my great friends Andy, Nanci and Ken, all of whom I knew would really appreciate it.
At dinner, Andy reminded me that we had tasted this wine long ago on a trip in Napa. I had forgotten about the circumstances, but went back and looked at my notes and it came rushing back. Ah, yeah! I will digress for a moment for ‘the story.’
We were in the tasting room at Franciscan in July ’95 and the power went out. It was plenty light inside the tasting room, but the staff were dumbfounded for about 15 minutes because the cash registers wouldn’t work. “Why don’t you collect the cash now and ring up the sales later?” we asked. Finally, after a lot of persuading on our part, they decided to pour wines again, for free. After tasting some Franciscan and Estancia wines, Andy tells the server he’s really intrigued by the Mt. Veeder Reserve which had been named the number 1 wine by either Wine Spectator or Wine Enthusiast (must be in 1994). And you know, since the power’s been off and we’ve been inconvenienced at having to wait a little while, and even though the wine is not available for tasting, how about it? Persuasion, guilt, whatever, it worked and the guy uncorked a bottle of it for us to try. Well, it was truly magnificent. I rated it an 18, which is as high as I ever have scored a new wine. I also remember we ended up being about an hour late meeting other friends at Hess Collection (fittingly in Mt. Veeder), but we had big grins on our faces when we caught up with them. Anyway, once back in L.A. Andy and I each bought one bottle for $30. The wine was hard to find and that was a premium price for a California wine in 1995.
So, move forward 15 years and the promise was certainly there, but the big question remained, how would the wine hold up? Would it still have that exquisite balance, great fruit and wonderful complexity? The answer is, most definitely. This 1990 Mt. Veeder Reserve was extraordinary. Very elegant, wonderfully smooth, supple fruit with soft cherry flavors and a luxurious mouth-feel. We enjoyed a 2002 Ravenswood Dickerson Zinfandel prior to that which was really terrific (17+), but this Mt. Veeder was superlative.
“This Mount Veeder was superlative. Truly one of the best wines I ever tasted. I scored it a 19!”
SHE SAYS: Lay me down, roll me over and do me again. This wine rocks.
HE and SHE both say: Here’s the website for the Mount Veeder Winery. Beautiful territory. http://www.mtveeder.com/
And if you’d like to keep tabs on that awesome wine maker Peter Franus, you can find Peter at his own winery now – right here: http://www.peterfranus.com/ Thank you, Peter!
HE and SHE BOTH SAY:
Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernets… mmmmmm. You don’t share them with just anybody. Choose your friends ‘wisely’ for the sharing of this wine as you want to be sure they appreciate the textures, the mood, the love. And maybe choose your friends with long noses because the aromas are 1/2 of the romance with the Howell Mountain Cabs.
We haven’t visited Howell Mountain yet, but those mountains are calling to us with this wine. We hear the terrain is rugged and this is what helps to give this cabernet its intensity and power. The wine holds the spirit of the terroir and so will you after you drink it. If you’re still wondering what the mysterious “terroir” is that wine enthusiasts talk about, taste the Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain and you will grasp it. Terroir is the land, it is the terrain, it is the fog, the air, the people, the fruit — the everything.
HE SAYS: Like most Howell Mountain wines, this one is big and bold. The nose was very intoxicating — I just kept on wanting to inhale it. It is a very complex and well balanced wine, with wonderful cherry flavors and medium tannins. The ’06 is very enjoyable now, but you could age this wine for a few years and allow the tannins to soften even more. Serve with meat! Really quite nice, I gave it a very strong score of 16.
SHE SAYS: You’re a little mysterious, aren’t you? Bold and sexy, but mysterious. I want to meet you back here in a few years.
S: Very tannic. Opened up nicely to subtle cherry’s. Beautiful Oak.
KS: Opened up quickly and nicely. Very pleasing experience. I’d like to go there again.
KMS: A seductive tango of berrys with subtext.
T : Opened rapidly. I forgot all about beer for a moment.
CC: I want more. Has a nice peppery midrange.
AR: I’d drink it again and I’m a picky girl.
Well, it’s that time again. Cornerstone Cellars sent us four bottles of wine to review. (Thank you, Cornerstone!) We organized two wine dinners to taste the wines with friends and the feedback is outstanding. We even included their observations in these posts. Cornerstone brands are completely consistent year after year. Amazing. Something special happening over there.
Stepping Stone Cab Franc 2007 - HE AND SHE BOTH SAY: Let’s talk about Stepping Stone. Cornerstone’s intent with their brand Stepping Stone is to make excellent wines at moderate prices. Don’t know about you, but we’re eager explorers and take more chances when the prices are moderate. Direct from their site, Cornerstone writes: “For us, each new vintage is a stepping stone, one step in the never-ending voyage of exploration that is winemaking.” So when you’re ready for a new experience Stepping Stone will be a reliable experiment.
HE SAYS: This cab franc is very soft and supple, with distinct cherry notes. It is medium bodied, easy to drink and quite pleasant. No tannin to speak of, so enjoy it now. I gave it a very respectable score of 14.
SHE SAYS: Whoa! You have my attention!
SERVE WITH: This cab franc will go with a lot of foods that pair well with red wine with, such as beef, pork or Italian food, or you can just drink enjoy with some noshes.
We let our friends chime in with their notes on the wine:
KMS: Easy & inviting & rich.
CC: Zingy, peppery taste
AR: Didn’t do anything for me.
SL : Very drinkable, inviting, soft & smooth
TE: I wish I could stop thinking about beer.
KS: Very ready to drink
MS: Oh, I’m sooo drunk. (Recognize that? It’s the mating call of the Southern belle.)
Which Wine Would Barry Serve?
Dinner: Braised Beef Ribs
On the Side: ~ Steamed New Potatoes (with real butter and fresh parsley)
On the Other Side: Romaine lettuce w/tomatoes and the Barrysentials Parmesan Dressing
Dessert: Chocolate Cake, of course.
Coffee: Midnight Stroll from Sprouts Farmer’s Market
Friends: 8 – curated from near and far.
2007 Stepping Stone by Cornerstone, Cabernet Franc, Carneros
Winemaker: Jeff Keene
2005 Cornerstone Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
Winemaker: our beloved Celia Masyczek
Read our first tasting notes about Cornerstone wines here: http://ow.ly/1rmuN