Annual Paso Robles Trip

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This weekend we were off to Paso Robles to explore some more of their 250+  wineries.  Friday we re – visited some of our favorites. Terry Hoage, Kukkula, Hearthstone.  We stopped in at Whalebone and Niner.  Saturday we used A Safe Way  Limousine Service as our designated driver. We wanted to spend the day exploring new wineries.  We started at Robert Hall followers by Mitchella, Vino Robles, Denner, Jada, and Arroyo Robles.

Did I say I love Paso??  Well, I love Paso.  I love the wines, the great people we have met and the wine tasting experience that is Paso. Robert Hall Winery was the first stop of the day and it didn’t disappoint.   Christina welcomed us and introduced us to Robert Hall wines.  When she found out it was our first visit to the winery, she gave us a tour of the their wine making process.  Robert Hall has a 19,000 sq ft. cavern underneath the tasting room.  There are 4,000 barrels of wine stored there.  And, it is available for event rental. There are two tasting list.  The House Tasting is $5 and the Reserve Tasting is $10.  The fee is applied towards any wine you purchase.  Since it was our first time, Hill and I decided to do both list.  The House Tasting had reasonable priced quality wines.  My favorites were the 2012 Viognier. The aromas of honeysuckle and orange gets your attention. But it is the flavors of tropical fruits, apricot and peach on your tongue that makes you think of summer. $20 retail.  The 2012 Zinfindel, 2012 Cuvee de Robles and 2011 Syrah are all worth a taste.  On the Reserve Tasting list there are 5 wines you have to try.  I couldn’t decide between them so I ended up buying one of each.  The 2011 Cavern Select Grenache is a even balanced, well structured wine full of flavors of plums, cherries and spice.  The 2011 Pape de Robles is a GSM blend with a twist of Petite Sirah.  Flavors of Blackberry, pepper and spice, made this my favorite on the list.  The 2011 Meritage is a Bordeaux style blend.  My tongue enjoyed the flavors of plum and lite tannins. Let’s not forget the 2010 Vintage Port.  It is made from five traditional Portuguese grapes. It’s not heavy and syrupy.  It is fruity with a velvety finish.

Christina was nice enough to suggest some of her favorite wineries.  One of which was  Mitchella.  Mitchella just happened to be located right behind Robert Hall.  Sherri and Laurie welcomed us in.  They were fun and funny.  I had fun talking about their wines and enjoying the day.   I thought the wines at Mitchella were decent wines that were reasonably priced.  I liked the 2011 Cheap Bastard, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2011 Rambunctious.  The 2010 Innuendo Noir was my favorite but at $45, I thought it was a little too expensive.

Next on our list was Vina Robles.  Vina Robles has a 2012 Vermentino on the tasting list.  It is an Italian varietal that you don’t see very often.  The bouquet of pears, cantaloupe and citrus was delicious.  At $18 I couldn’t say no to a bottle.

Halftime

Doc and Troya brought the cheese and crackers and I bought the Chemay (blue label).  It was the perfect break from wine tasting and we finished just in time for our 2:30 appointment at Denner Vineyard.  Denner has a Comus” theme.  I won’t ruin it for you.  You will have to go and investigate on your own.  Denner also has a four bedroom B & B where the rooms are named after their wines.  Speaking of the wines,  most of their wines are Rhone blends.  The 2012 Theresa is a white varietal Rhone blend.  The 2012 Viognier is 100% Viognier, 2011 Ditch Digger is a GSM with Cinsaut and Counoise.  The 2011 Dirt Worshipper is Syrah and Viognier.  I enjoyed their wines but I thought they were over priced.  The Ditch Digger was my favorite but at $63 I had to pass.

On our way to Arroyo Robles we came upon Jada and decided to stop in.  This is why I love Paso so much.  Its like a box of chocolates……. As soon as we walked in we were greeted by Ari.  Ari has a wealth of knowledge about Jada wines and he was very engaging and personable. Jada has two tasting list.  The Reserve tasting is $10 and the “Signature Series” is $15.  Along with your tasting you get a cheese pairing with the wine.  Ari brought me up to speed on the use of concrete in wine making. My favorites were their 2012 XCV is a white Rhone blend that is fermented in concrete.  That’s right, no oak and no stainless steel, concrete.  The 2011 Hell’s Kitchen is a GSM with the Spanish varietal Tannat added.  2011 Stratys is a Bordeaux style wine, the 2010 Malstria is also a Bordeaux style with a little Tannat added.  I enjoyed all of their wines.  I think they are priced a little towards the high end but I couldn’t leave without taking a few bottles home with me.

Last stop of our tour was at Arroyo Robles.  There were seven wines on their tasting list.  A 2011 Albarino, 2008 Chardonnay, 2009 Viognier, 2007 Tempranillo, 2007 Petite Sirah, 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2007 Blend called “Little Star”  made of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo and Merlot.  Arroyo Robles also has a Grand Cuvee sparkling wine and an Almond flavored sparkling wine.  I wasn’t a big fan of anything that was being  poured.

The Nuggets

Jada, Robert Hall and Mitchella Vineyard are the  “need to visit” wineries we discovered this weekend.  I enjoyed the tasting room experience and the wines.    Robert Hall’s 2011 Papa De Robles, 2001 Meritage and the 2011 Strayts from Jada were my favorites of the day.  I’m always interested in hearing about your experiences

Ciao for now

 

 

Mexico’s Best and Puerto Vallarta

To celebrate by birthday my wife asked me what I would like to do.  My tequila cabinet was getting low so, I suggested we go to Puerto Vallarta.  Jalisco Mexico is the capitol of tequila country.  Puerto Vallarta is one of my favorite places to relax and enjoy the best of Mexico.  So, we got the band together and headed South.  We checked into the Grand Lux in Nuevo Vallarta.  The Grand Lux is located 20 Min North of Puerto Vallarta in Nayarit.  There are three other resorts, that you have access to, on the property.  The Grand Mayan, Mayan Palace and The Grand Blis. Puerto Vallarta has all the regular tourist attraction; parasailing, scuba diving, zip lines, ATV etc… Nuevo Vallarta has long sand beaches and the water is in the 80’s this time of year.

One of our favorite spots to visit is a little surf town 1 hour North called Sayulita.  Sayulita is located on the North side of Punta Mita.  Sayulita has a lot of old  world charm with its cobblestone roads and traditional style building.  The beaches are beautiful and the surfing is usually pretty good.  On this occasion, Doc was less than please with the waves.  I thought they were the perfect size for someone like me who wants to learn.  The town square is the center of activity.  It is surrounded by restaurants, bars and boutique shops.  The prices for food and alcohol are tailored towards the locals.  After a relaxing afternoon on the beach, we headed to Leyva Family distillery.  Makers of fine tequila.

We were walked through the tequila making process and at the end, we were treated to a tasting.  Some of the main things I learned was.  There are over 600 varieties of agave.  Over 400 of them are blue(Azul).  The first distillation of tequila is called blanco.  Tequila put in an oak barrel for up to 11 months is called Resposado.  Tequila put into an oak barrel for up to 4 years is called Anejo.  Like wine, there are blends and single varietals. Mexico grades the quality of tequila.  So, 100% de agave could be a blend of agave and sugar cane.  100% de agave Azul could be the single varietal and better still, 100% puro de agave is tequila without any other additive such as cane sugar. Remember this and it will ensure you are getting the best quality tequila.

Tequila tasting is also similar to wine tasting.  Enjoy the color and clarity,  inhale the bouquet, take a sip and let is roll over you tongue. After you swallow, exhale and appreciate the smoothness.

I am always interested in a good tequila.  If you come across one I would love to hear about it.

Cheers,

 

 

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Rosé Challenge Results

 

Challengers are lined up

Challengers are lined up

1391463_1426580644220916_142933016_nThe first Santa Clara Valley Rosé Challenge  was held at the Dolce Hayes Masion in San Jose California.  A special thanks to Heather Moggia and the Dolce Hayes Mansion for their hospitalilty.  The tables were set and the wine was chilled. The challengers were Thomas Kruse Winery, Aver Family Vineyard, Sycamore Creek Vineyard, Guglielmo Winery, Clos LaChance Winery, Solis Winery, Jason Stephens Winery.  One of the things I like most about Rosé is that they are truly like a box of chocolates.  Each one is so different.  Some of the wines were single varietals and others were blends.  We lined them up head to head to see which wine makers inspiration would be most popular with our diverse group of participants.

We asked everyone to rank the wines from their most favorite to their least favorite.  The results were; 

First Place:  Solis Winery received the most First place votes followed by Aver Family and Thomas Kruse.

Jason Stephens received the most Second place votes followed by Solis and Sycamore Creek.

Clos LaChance received the most Third place votes followed by Thomas Kruse and a tie between Guglielmo and Jason Stephens.

Over all;  Solis received the most total votes followed by Jason Stephens, Thomas Kruse, Sycamore Creek, Aver, Guglielmo and Clos Lachance. 

It appears this group was drawn towards the sweeter rosés in the challenge.  A good time was had by all and we look forward to the next challenge. 

 

Rosé Challenge

Martin Ranch Winery

Martin Ranch Winery

It is on!!!   October 20th we will be hosting  The Santa Clara Valley Rosé Challenge.  We will be pouring rosés from six selected Santa Clara Valley Wineries.  A lot of research went into selecting the six competitors for this challenge.  I must admit I enjoyed every minute of this rigorous endeavor.  Some of the rosés are from single variatals and some are blends.  We will see how they stack up.  There are only a few seats left. So, if you want to attend, register and we will send you a invitation with the location.

On a recent trip to France, a good friend introduced me to Rosés.  I have developed a fond appreciation for them and I can’t wait to share that with you all.  See you soon.

Morgan Hill Brew Crawl

Morgan Hill downtown association

Morgan Hill downtown association

When I’m not drinking wine, I like to fill my glass with a good beer or tequila.  Saturday September 14th was the Morgan Hill brew  crawl.  There were 22 breweries pouring for this sold out event.  I met up with some of my beer enthusiast friends and spent a beautiful day beer tasting.  If you are a fan of craft beers, IPA’s, pale ales and double bocks, I highly recommend this event.

 

 

Personally I am a fan of largers, pilsners and ales.  My favorites were Spaten, Stella Artois, Red Tail and Mendocino Brewing Company.  Unfortunately we were not able to get to all 22 before time ran out.  We took our time and enjoyed the event.

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If you are not familiar with Morgan Hill, I invite you to check out  The Taste of Morgan Hill September 28th and 29th.

 

brew festival