Monday, December 21, 2009

Cameron Hughes – Lot 117, 2007 Santa Barbara County Grencache Blanc/Viognier « Gabe's View

Cameron Hughes – Lot 117, 2007 Santa Barbara County Grencache Blanc/Viognier « Gabe's View

Posted using ShareThis

2006 Colosi, Sicilia Rosso IGT

Made from 100% Nero D`Avola grapes, indeginous to Sicily.  This wine has a ruby red color with an expressive nose with aromas of plum and cherries. On the palate it is dry but velvety, medium bodied plus and well balanced, no harsh tannins; an excellent accompaniment for spicey pasta, beef, roasted meats, and aged cheeses with rustic bread.

After the Vinitaly Trade Show in San Francisco a couple of months ago, my new favorite grape is Nero D'Avola.  I found this wine at Cost Plus World Market for $9.99.  It is well worth the price.  Very enjoyable.

Latest Editions - Wine Book Favorites

Here are a few of my favorite wine reference books.  I do carry the Sales and Service for Wine Professionals around in my car, just so I have a quick place to look up information on a certain wine region and related  indigenous variatals.  The Professional Wine Reference is a "must have" in your wine library.  These suggested books are a good incentive to dive into studying for Certified Sommelier.  The more you know, the more you know you don't know.  I can't believe how much I have spent on wine books, let alone wines.  It's a very adventurous hobby that takes you around the world's wine regions.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Guild of Sommeliers Cruise on the SF Bay

Trip Notes - December 15, 2009

We all had a great time on the yacht of Alpha Omega Winery, Rutherford, out on the SF Bay. The event was organized by Geoff Kruth, MS, the Guild of Sommeliers for 20 of its members from all around California. With that said, you can only imagine what great wine we had. Our hosts, Alpha Omega, brought their flagship wines. What a treat to sip on luscious wine while food pairing was catered by La Saison in St. Helena and cruising on the Bay. It was a very fun and relaxing time. The weather was perfect, considering it was mid-December and we could have been out in a storm. The yacht was very beautiful, spacious and comfortable. Even if it would have been cold and windy, we were well-protected in the cabins. Alpha Omega is one of Rutherford's newest wineries. Call Eric and let him know you are coming before your visit and he will give you the VIP tour. You may even be able to meet award winning winemaker, Jean Hoefliger who teams with Michel Rolland to create beautifully blended wines. Paul Kamian, CS, was also on board from Darioush, one of my all time favorites wineries. He brought a bottle of their Syrah, VERY nice. Among other guests were Alexandra Alznauer, CS and Wine Consultant, Suzanne Chowla, Wine Director and Som for Chez TJ in Mountain View, and, Ryan Williams, CS, for Ana Mandara, a Vietnamese cuisine restaurant at Ghirardelli Square. Please do visit these wineries and restaurants - all wonderful and worth the trip.

Monday, December 7, 2009

2006 Monte Antico Toscano

Wow - here is another Wine Attic pic for $8 bucks at Costco. 85% Sangio, 10% Cab and 5% Merlot. Wine Spectator rated this 90 points. I picked up a bottle to try and was very pleasantly surprised and delighted to drink it with pizza. But this wine is better than just pizza wine. The 2007 sangio from this area was outstanding and so made this wine really shine. It is definitely a real winner. This is another outstanding wine where quality outshines the price point. If you are serving Italian - roast and ravioli for Christmas, then go out and get a case of this before the secret is out. It has a nice soft finish, no harsh tannins but still has nice body. After 15 minutes it was quite smooth.

2007 Cameron Hughes Lot 141 Chardonnay

2007 Cameron Hughes Chardonnay from San Luis Obispo County, Lot 141. Get it while you can for the holidays. It's only $10/bottle. As you know, the CHWines are all high quality wines at recession prices. You always get triple the quality from the price point. This delicious char has a very pleasant, fresh nose. Complexity is added by waiting to open this '07 vintage. Still fresh and complex. It's creaminess must come from stirring sur lees as this wine did not go through ML. I get a nice tropical fruit, pineapple, honey, smooth and balanced acids. A nice soft finish. This is a nice wine for your holiday guests as we all toast to a bright and better new year!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Total Wine & More

Have you made it to a Total Wine store yet? It is a wonderful arrangement of well selected wines from all price points and from all parts of the world. The aisles are well-labeled so you can find the varietal or wine region you are looking for. As an added bonus, the staff is well versed in wines and are very helpful. They have a great wine program of interesting and educational events. Tastings on weekends are 10-cents! They also have guest winemakers and themed wine tasting events. If you are a wine aficionado, appreciate good wine, in search of great wines under $10 or allocation wines, this is the place to explore and have lots of fun looking at all the 8000 labels.

Vine Cliff Merlot

Another great find at Grocery Outlet in Folsom. Not sure how all the wine purchasing works - if it's store by store since the stores are each privately owned. At least that is what the ads say. Go check out their wine department for the best bargains on the planet. I found 2005 Vine Cliff Merlot for $8 bucks at Grocery Outlet. This winery has high scoring wines and wines very pricey like their 92-point Parker rating Cab at $75 bucks. If I were you, I would be running to Grocery Outlet and checking out the bargains. I did taste the Merlot and it was very balanced, lots of fruit, full-bodied and basically soft tannins. It can be aged for another 3 years max. I'm going back and getting the rest of it in Folsom ;-) for the holidays.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What is Raku?

Out at Tanis Winery in Amador Country off Willow Creek Road, they exhibit a young artist (potter) with an array of whimsy designs. Raku - an ancient Japanese technique. Karianne Ginnelly, 19 yrs old, is currently finishing her Fine Arts degree at Columbia. Prices range from $35 - $165. While you are enjoying the art, taste through the Tanis wines. This is a unique boutique 800 case production wine. Get their Blush wine of mouvedre/grenache for Thanksgiving. You will be warmly greeted by Jill. A very pleasant and enjoyable stop in the Amador Country foothills. They also have a tasty Pinotage.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2007 Kimmel Chardonnay, Mendocino

Slight tint of apple green color catches your eye when you first observe this lovely wine. Hand crafted and very small production, makes this award winning wine a best-of-the-best pick from The Wine Attic. High quality winemaking and excellent fruit creates a honey, pear nose, lots of citrus on the palate, well-balanced acids. Creamy, oak finish. This is a yummy wine for a special occasion. A little pricey, $32 bucks, but if you are a Rombauer fan, then the $$$ are no problem for you. Since it is still nice weather, this chardonnay will stand up to a nice BBQ.

Monday, October 5, 2009

2007 Cameron Hughes Lot 125 Pinot Noir, Napa Carneros

This wine was so good. The color, first off the bat, is a beautiful clear, crystal cherry, sparkling in the light of my kitchen. The nose was a smooth, smokey aroma where I began to anticipate that this wine was going to be GREAT. And, it was no surprise that this was amazingly well made - lots of berry fruits, a kiss of candy, while the finish was just as pleasingly long and spicey. I actually had this wine with steak au poivre and sauteed carmelized onions. Now is your mouth watering? Another best-of-the-best picks from The Wine Attic
High quality and recession pricing - I like it!

Pomar Junction Vineyard

I had the opportunity to enjoy 2007 Pomar Junction's Award winning Estate Viognier. It was lovely. Yummy honey and pineapple. The acids were mild which allow this wine to be a sipping wine or have with a special lunch or brunch. Unfortunately this wine is SOLD OUT. But I am confident that Kevin Riley, winemaker, is doing justice to the 2008 vintage. With excellent viticulture and winemaking practices, look forward to another award winning wine. This winery is a destination - another best-of-the-best pick from The Wine Attic. Say hello to Marie for me when you visit.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Left Bank

Neil Ellis The Left Bank 2007 (SnoothRank: 3.5/5)
South Africa > Coastal Region (September 2009)
I love S.A. blends, this cab/shiraz opened up VERY nicely the 2nd day. It was very smooth. Big fruit, cherry aromas, anise, spicey. Medium finish, soft tannins. Great sipping wine as well with grilled meats and grilled root vegetables. myRating 3/5

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lot 119 Cameron Hughes Meritage

Cameron Hughes Lot 119 Meritage 2005 (SnoothRank: 3.5/5)
USA > California > Sonoma County (September 2009)
I had a glass' worth left the next day. It is better the 2nd day. Make sure to decant or enjoy this wine in the next 2-5 years. The quality and tannins are definitely there will age wonderfully. It is a big wine and will hold up to a big steak. Long spice finish. Fruit will show more after aging. myRating 3.5/5 Another great value wine for less than $15.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

2006 Stags Leap District Cabernet

Cameron Hughes Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 100 2000 (SnoothRank: 0/5)
USA > California > Napa County > Napa Valley > Stag's Leap District (September 2009)
Better grab this one while you can. For $17.99 at Costco, this Stag Leap District Cab is phenomenal for the price. Full bodied and ready to drink even though it is 2006, perfect tannins, long finish. Decant for one hour to really open it up. This is premium Napa wine worth $100/bottle. It is yummy. I'm going to buy a case for the holidays which are just around the corner. Sip by itself or wonderful with grilled meats. myRating 5/5

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cameron Hughes - the New World Negociant

Why do I review so many Cameron Hughes Wines - because they are all so damn good and affordable. Cameron chooses only THE best juice, most of the time a lonely pair of high-end wine in barrel just sitting there waiting to be blended with other lonely high-end barrels. What happens next is magic. The magnificent expensive wines, called his Lot Series, are blended, labeled and put on the shelves of Costco stores at an incredible price. Because of the small lot sizes - sometimes only 200 cases, Cameron is constantly scouring the world for the best of the best. Wines priced at $10 - $15 would normally sell from $30 - $100 if they were bottled at their original winery. As a result, Cameron's business model has turned his winery into one of the fastest growing wineries in California. That is saying alot in this economy. The reason is clear - a good solid business model, premium wine at an affordable price point. You will also start seeing Cameron Hughes Wines under the Flying Winemaker label - sold at restaurants and retailers. You will now be able to try a glass of wine while dining in your favorite restaurants. The Wine Attic will also be offering these wines on our eStore.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Family Winemakers Trade Event

There were so many wineries at the Family Winemakers Trade Event at Ft. Mason on Sun/Mon that I didn't even get to all of them. I may have tasted half of what seemed like 400 wineries in attendance. I found several stellar, small production wines that will soon be available at eStore. Please keep checking in to see us.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Palate Press

Two weeks before launch of the new on-line wine magazine. Check out my articles in this new media for wine information.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2006 Decero Malbec, Mendoza Argentina

Decero Malbec 2006 (SnoothRank: 3.5/5)
Argentina > Mendoza (August 2009)
Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina is a great food pairing wine. The Decero vineyards are planted in the highest region,Agrelo, 3500 ft. in Mendoza at the Andes foothills. The wines are all single vineyards. Every process is meticulously done by hand. The Malbec is from the Romolinos Vineyard where tiny whirlwinds dance along the vineyard rows, hence the name. myRating 3.5/5

Cameron Hughes Lot 134, Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand

2008 Sauv Blanc from Marlborough NZ
- another great NZ benchmark wine. Lots of grapefruit and good acids. Aged shortly in neutral oak barrels. Crisp, yet floral, this wine does have a long finish for a Sauv Blanc. This is nice to drink by itself before dinner. Otherwise, enjoy with a fresh mixed green salad, chopped carrots, fennel and celery root. Drizzle with EVOO and white balsamic vinegar. Top with grilled prawns from the BBQ.

2007 Cameron Hughes Shiraz Lot 131

Cameron Hughes Shiraz Lot 131 Mclaren Vale 2007 (SnoothRank: 3/5)
(August 2009)
From McLaren Vale, Australia, this downunder wine is yummy, fresh fruit forward on the palate, spicey yet velvety finish. Pairs well with a variety of wild meats such as venison or kangaroo. But also would do well with a porcini mushroom dish or even chopped ahi tuna, with chopped walnuts, drizzle chinese hot oil on top. myRating 3.5/5

2007 Cameron Hughes Lot 132 Chardonnay Paso Robles

A great Paso Robles Chardonnay from Cameron Hughes Wine.
This is a high-end reserve. Honey on the nose. Pineapple, bright acidity, tropical fruit on the palate. This wine did not go through full ML. Aged in new oak. A very nice food friendly wine. Serve with poached halibut with (my favorite) mango salsa with red bell pepper and a little chopped

'Cantele Salice Salentino Riserva' 2002 (SnoothRank: 3/5)
Italy > Puglia > Salice Salentino (August 2009)
I so enjoyed this wine - make sure it's the Riserva. Salice Salentino is the DOC and the wine is made from Negroamaro. A dark garnet color, nice berry fruit and long finish. We were lucky to see the 2002 on an Italian restaurant menu. We chose the pasta dish with a slightly creamy tomato sauce with ground lamb. Delicioso! myRating 3/5

Wine Attic August Wine Club

The wine selection for the Wine Club of our 4 small production wines is on our Tasting Notes pages on the website. One of the labels is from Bodegas Paso Robles, Dona Blanca - a wonderful summer wine. You will want to custom frame this label - it is very artistic and from one of Dorothy Schuler's favorite artist. (Dorothy is an award winning winemaker from Paso Robles and is a featured winemaker with Women of the Vine Cellars).

Wine Attic launches it's August Wine Club

Check out our 4 selections for the August Eclectic Wine Club. We choose from hundreds of wines and pick the top 4 for each club shipment. Go to our website to sign up and to view our eStore of wonderful, small production wines. We also offer exclusive wine tours through Hotel Cheval in Paso Robles.

Cameron Hughes Lot 117, Grenache Blanc, Viognier Santa Barbara County

Cameron Hughes Lot 117 Santa Barbara County 2007 (SnoothRank: 3/5)
USA > California > Santa Barbara (August 2009)
Grenche Blanc and Viognier is one of my favorite white wine blends. It certainly rounds out both varietals to make a refreshing yet complex wine. And, Santa Barbara County produces excellent white wines. Peach, dried peach, apricot, dried apricot, honeysuckle, orange blossom, spiced orange, vanilla, oak , honey, mineral are all found in this delicate blend. myRating 3.5/5

Monday, August 3, 2009

Lucchesi Vineyards & Winery

What a delightful surprise to enjoy the wines and hospitality of Lucchesi Winery in the heart of Grass Valley. Megan McCreary runs the tasting room, very knowledgeable and will take you through a very nice tasting of the Lucchesi family's wines. I discovered that Cab Franc grows well in this region of rich clay soils. The 06 Cab Franc has nice cherry, cola flavors. It really stood out.
GOLD! Grand Harvest Awards
GOLD! Calaveras County Fair
GOLD! Orange County Fair

The 06 Zin with cinnamon and glove, dry cocoa powder is also very enjoyable and a very nice 05 Petite Sirah.

Lot 130 Cameron Hughes

Lot 130 2007 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County - another great Cameron Hughes premium wine at under $14 bucks. Very nice! Pineapple and honeysuckle nose, creamy but yet nice acids with citrus flavors, grapefruit on the palate - not over oaked, long finish. Well-balanced. Deliciously paired with BBQ chicken basted with apricot-chipotle sauce. May be able to find Lot 130 at Costco for less.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cerro Prieto Vineyard and Cellars

“Ok – I’m not making this up myself. Check this out – here are all the awards:
2006 Cerro Prieto Merlot, Reserve, San Diego International Wine Competition, March, 2009, Gold Medal, Merlot
2006 Merlot Reserve, Critics Challenge International Wine Competition, April, 2009, Gold Medal, Merlot, $39 & up
2006 Merlot Reserve, Los Angeles International Wine Competition, May, 2009, Silver Medal, $30 & up
2006 Paso Bordo Reserve, Los Angeles International Wine Competition, May 2009, Bronze Medal,Cabernet/ Syrah blends all prices

The Merlot and the Bordo Blend are off the charts. I give them both a mid-90 point spread. These wines are typical Paso, in the sense that they are full-bodied and full of big flavor. You can drink now or hold for 10 years. Either way you will be impressed with the fruit forward, smooth tannin wines. I still dream of tasting them. This is a small production winery, so you need to order a case to store now.

Jan Manni
Certified Sommelier, Court of the Master Sommeliers”

Saturday, July 25, 2009

07 Syrah, Lot 135 Central Coast, Cameron Hughes

Another winner, Lot 135, Central Coast Syrah. Stone fruits, tobacco, spicey finish. Was lucky to get a sample of it. You will have to go on-line to see if you can get it.

If you like Syrah from the Central Coast, this comes from one of the best appellations for Syrah in California.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lot 112, Merlot, Napa from Cameron Hughes Wine

This wine is amazing at $9 bucks at Costco. It is a true Napa Valley Merlot - worth 3 times more than its price point. Lots of bright cherry and soft tannins. A real winner for those new red wine drinkers. Goes down really easy. Very delicious. After an hour, it was even better - more fruit. And, who can beat the price? Great with pizza, pasta, grilled meats. What a great find - Go to Costco for the best deal. Why is this so good? Because it's from Coombsville and Jamieson Canyon. Go buy a case - it's a 90 point wine for under $10 bucks. Highly recommended.

Vino Noceto

I went to Vino Noceto yesterday and tasted through their wines. The most notable was their '06 Mistura which is released each vintage with a slightly different blend. I give this wine 90 points. Very well made. Bobbie Gullet, son of owners, suggested I purchase one of their library wines which they have a nice selection - 2003 Mistura which I'm saving for next year. This winery is off of Shenandoah Rod in Plymouth, CA.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Best Summer White Chardonnay

Ever had a Chardonnay that tasted like pink grapefruit? This is a really refreshing wine for these hot, hot summers up here in Folsom and/or Paso Robles CA USA. This wine is not only delicious sipped by itself poolside but can also be quite the great food pairing wine with some grilled salmon and mango salsa. Make sure you add pepper flakes to the salsa. The Flying Winemaker series in now available at local retail stores or restaurant/wine bars. Try a glass and you will agree. This '08 Margaret River, Australia wine retails for about $12. The Flying winemaker searches the world for the best of the best vineyards. Creamy texture, yet nice acidity. Blended with full ML, slight oak finish.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Paso Robles L'Aventure Winery - top choice

Back in Paso after almost two months, visiting L'Aventure Winery, considered one of the best wineries in the Paso Robles AVA. Wines rated high 90s by Parker. Tasted through all of Stephan's wines, starting with his amazing rosé. Stephan's 2008 releases will go forward being 100% estate wines. We were able to barrel taste the 2008 Côte a Côte, Estate Cuvee and a new blend of 60% Petite Verdot. All reds are black in color, full bodied, fruit bombs. The 07 Optimus was tasting amazing also. Drink now or hold for 3-4 years. Go to to purchase wines.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Findleton Estate

I had the pleasure of going to Placerville and taste some of the Sierra Foothills' best. The 2006 Findleton Estate and Vineyard Syrah, named after Pamela Findleton’s “Raven Red” painting, is 90% Syrah from Marchini Vineyard in Placerville and 10% Syrah from Matson Vineyard in Pleasant Valley. They just opened up their 2nd tasting room at 440 Main St., downtown Placerville. Husband Tom is the winemaker and Pamela, the labels' artist, create a wonderful package of hand-crafted wines. Total production is around 2000 cases.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Barth Beerenauslese

For a relaxing time, go to Nectar Wine Bar in SF or Burlingame. They have an extensive wine list. I had the 07 Barth Beerenauslese with a beautiful array of cheeses that the sommelier personnally paired for me. The wine was a treat and perfect for a warm Sunday afternoon. Yummy caramel and apricot on the palate enjoyed with the creamy, hard and soft cheese selection, with a bit of quince and sliced red grapes. Nectar has over 50 wines by the glass and 800 selections overall.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tejada Vineyard

I met the beautiful Nina from Tejada Vineyards at the TAPAS Grand Tasting showcasing their 06 Tempranillo and 05 Tempranillo/Garnacha Blend. With 37 wineries in attendance, Tejada stood out from the crowd. Great marketing and labeling as well as great wine. Try some of this with grilled meat Argentinian style.

Tapas Grand Tasting, Fort Mason

I attended the TAPAS Grand Tasting event at Ft. Mason on June 14 which showcased 36 North American Vintners sharing their Portuguese and Spanish varietal wines. There was definitely a range of regional tastes. The Albarino seminar featured wines from Umpqua Valley, Lodi, Monterey County, Santa Inez Valley and Edna Valley. The most notible came from Edna Valley. Local Wineries were also in attendence such as Villa Creek which had a wonderful Garnacha from the Denner Vineyard. Vina Robles White Blend was an outstanding array of flavors from a blend based on Verdelho. Randall Grahm, Bonnie Doon, was on hand talking about their Albarino. He stated that "wineries will have to produce wines that are original and out-of-the-box." Out of the ordinary grape varietals will have to be included in blends so wines stand out in the crowd. Randall says also that "wines are going into bottle too soon - more time spent on the lees, develop them slowly, will give greater potential for complexity. Climates are getting warmer and dryer. So grow grapes that are dry-farmed (grenache, monestrel). Grow grapes that are sustainable."
The Tempranillo seminar featured wines from Sonoita, AZ, San Antonio Valley, CA, Rogue Valley, OR, Lower Lake, CA and Vallecito, CA. Most notible was from Sonoita wine, 2007 Callaghan Vineyards Padres - tempranillo blend with a little petite verdot and cab franc to maintain the acidity.

All and all a nice, educational event.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dancing Coyote wines

A pleasant find is the Dancing Coyote Wines (Clarksburg CA AVA) shown at the Tapas Grand Tasting, Ft. Mason, San Francisco last Sunday (June 14, 09). I enjoyed their 07 Verdelho, very balanced acids with a creaminess on the finish. Nice combination of tropical and citrus characteristics. In addition the Albarino did have a nice acid finish. Blended with a little Orange Muscat and Gewurztraminer makes this a delicious food wine with fish or shellfish. The packaging and labeling is whimsey and compliments the experience of tasting, enjoying and entertaining. Julie McCormack (sales) pictured.

Sauvignon Blanc from Paso Robles AVA

The Sauvignon Blanc from Paso Robles is distinctive because of its fruity characteristics. It is completely opposite of the grassy, vegetal notes traditional of New Zealand Sauv Blanc. My favorites are from NZ because I like that profile. But the 06 River Star Vineyards Sauv Blanc is a delicious, refreshing summer wine that I do enjoy. It is well-made and can be paired with many different styles of foods such as the herbed chicken and yams (little butter, little brown sugar) that I had with it last night. It also drinks well by itself. Another great wine at a great price (under $15). It is a great place to visit - Say hello to Betty for me.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cameron Hughes Lot 67

I was lucky to get a bottle of Cameron Hughes Wine, Lot 67, 05 Syrah from Russian River/Sonoma blend. For under $15, this wine compares to an over $40 bottle of some of the best California Syrahs. Luscious mouthful of rich fruit, smooth tannins makes this a food friendly wine. Serve with glazed ribs with a close friend. Serve to those who appreciate premium wine but don't tell them the price.

Tapas Grand Tasting, Fort Mason

The 2nd annual Tapas Grand Tasting at Ft. Mason, SF showcased 36 North American wineries specializing in Spanish varietals. The seminar before the tasting focused on regional differences of Albarino and Tempranillo. One outstanding medal winning wine, the Tempranillo from the Rogue Valley, Red Lily, is hand-crafted by Rachael Martin. The winery is locate outside of Medford, OR Limited production. Great food wine, soft tannins, light strawberry. The event was lots of fun and worth the time spent exploring Spanish varietals from all around the West Coast.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

2003 Piocho, Happy Canyon Vineyards

I just pulled out an 03 Piocho blend from Happy Canyon Vineyards. It's a blend of Cab, Cab Franc and Merlot. It was very good and is sold out. The 06 is available for $30, over the recession affordable pricing but worth the money. I would lay down the 06 for 2 more years though. This is a high quality wine produced by Barrack, Los Olivos, CA. Gravelly loam soils and the finest barrels attribute to its quality.

06 Zin Cooper Vineyards

Located in the Shenandoah Valley, California, Cooper Vineyards 06 Zin won the blind tasting at last Sunday's event at the Back Wine Bar in Folsom CA. I also voted for this Zin, candied apple, cinnamon, smooth finish/tannins. It is an excellent wine for $23 bucks. Mike Roser is the winemaker of this award winning wine.

Tudal Family Winery

06 TractorShedRed, by the Tudal Family Winery, Napa is a very recession proof wine. It's $7 bucks at Costco but it's $12 at the winery. The blend of Sangio, Merlot and Zin make this a good, full-bodied, every day wine you can afford. It serves with grilled meats and veggies. Normally a wine at this price point can be OK but not that great or memorable. Tractor Shed is is a decent everyday wine that won't break the budget. You won't be disappointed. This wine does have several Gold Medals.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sierra Foothills

I was told that Cooper, Z and R, and Jeff Renquist wine are the top wineries in the Sierra, CA. Can anyone confirm which are their favorites?

05 Petite Sirah, Gold Note, Fairplay

O5 Petite Sirah, Godl Note, Fairplay AVA. Hearty black cherry and exotic spice with smooth tannins. I give it 90 points. This wine is full-bodied, dark and rich. You will love it just to sip on it. This time, food may get in the way.

Back Wine Bar

The Back Wine Bar (named after Jeff Back) is located in Folsom off Riley. Went to one of their blind wine tasting events and thought that is was nicely organized. Check out events at and sign up for their events schedule. I'm certainly going back to their next blind tasting, with a theme, that is held once/month. The wine list but the taste and glass if very good. I had a Petite Sirah from Gold Note (gold medal winner). In addition, to a great tasting wine list, they offer appetizers. The Ahi Poke $13 was to die for. I think I can go there at least once/week and sample wines with this appetizer. The owners are a hip couple, with lots of energy, great hospitality. There is a side patio for dining al fresco. I will be a regular now that I am residing in Folsom. To get on their newsletter, go to

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cameron Hughes Lot 110

OK the lot 110 from Cameron Hughes is hard to find but it is out there. Just release, 07 Pinot Noir , Los Carneros, smokey, light pinot, strawberry and smokey, a bit Burgundian but yet stays true to California with with berry fruit and slight tannins. A great drinkable now wine. Will be good also in 3 -4 years.

Friday, June 5, 2009

There is not much left of Cameron Hughes' Lot 113 - 06 Mt. Veeder Syrah. Huge fruit bomb with gorgeous aromatics of dried dark cherries, black pepper, caramel, and sweet toffee. It is as rich on the palate, with good firm tannins and coffee-toffee, dried cherry, black tea, and black pepper flavors that linger. For $15, you can't beat this wine that is the quality of a $50 Napa style wine.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Awards for Cameron Hughes Wine

Check out the awards that Cameron Hughes Wine received at the 2009 Internatioal Critics Competition at

Critics Silver 2007 Garnacha, Lot 128 Campo de Borja $20.00Critics Platinum 2007 Garnacha, Lot 129 Campo de Borja $20.00
Critics Gold 2007 Pinot Noir, Lot 110 Los Carneros $18.00
Critics Gold 2007 Zinfandel, FWM $13.99

Check the website to see where these wines are sold. These are amazing wines for the price point.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

2000 Retzlaff Cab/Merlot

I was rearranging my wine closet and found the futures I had bought from Retzlaff some time ago. I decided that I deserved to open the 2000 Retzlaff Cab 85%/Merlot 15%. It was awesome. Very fruit forward, smokey, very Bordeaux-ish/California. I was so happy to drink this with a close friend and reminience on visiting the Retzlaff Winery in Livermore. I give this a 95, The Wine Attic.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Santasti - the palate cleansing beverage

Don't forget to bring Santasti (water) the palate cleansing beverage on your next wine tasting tour or tasting parties at home. Check out the benefits at Highly recommended by The Wine Attic,

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cameron Hughes

If you can't find the latest releases from Cameron Hughes at Costco or Sam's, go to their website to order. Some of their sample packs have free shipping.

Paso Robles Wine Festival

Paso Robles wine festival was a huge success once again. But again too HOT. It is hard to get to all the wineries (93) and tasting when the weather is so hot. But fun was had by all. The best patch for those collectors was the Gr8ass applied to the appropriate body part. Silly name but the wine is hand-crafted by Signe Zoller, Zoller Wine Styling. There are three labels: award winning Marsanne, a delicious Grenache rose and a Cab from Signe's own 7-acre vineyard.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cameron Hughes Lot 119

I think that Lot 119, Meritage is my favorite blend from Cameron Hughes so far. From Alexander Valley and Sonoma, this bordeaux blend really hits the mark. Big, bold and jammy. Something I can afford to buy at under $15. Compare same quality for over $30 for sure.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cambria Winery

Cambria Winery in Santa Maria is a very unique place. I was familiar with them because of their very high quality wines at reasonable prices. What I didn't know is that Cambria also creates small lots of exquisite wines. One that stands out is their Clone 4 Chardonnay, one of the best Chards that I've had since my Napa tastings. Another cool thing they do is an artisan tasting of 6 different wineries all using the Pinot Noir from their Julia's Vineyard. The winemaker comes into play when tasting the range of Pinot from Burgundian to California to Vineyard specific.