Don Sebastiani Delicious

Don Sebastiani & Sons Pinot Noir has always graced our wine collection, so we were delighted to find out about how this California winery has expanded its portfolio to 14 brands with Big Smooth wines — a beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon and a lush Old Vine Zinfandel packaged in a bottle with a velvet label.

“Big Smooth is inspired by the understanding that wine itself is an experience,” said Donny Sebastiani, CEO of Don Sebastiani & Sons. “Our vision for Big Smooth is to deliver big, mouth-filling wines that are not only smooth and sensual to drink, but extend that feeling all the way from first glance on the shelf to the last sip from your glass.”

The Sonoma-based winery also reinvigorated The Crusher wine series, with a new label design and new California label designation. The Crusher line-up: Merlot, Red Blend, Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and the debut of Unoaked Chardonnay.

We recently enjoyed these samples, kindly provided by the winery.
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Wine & Halloween Candy, Oh My!

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 3.32.47 PMVivino’s popular guide to decide which wines to pair with Halloween candy has been updated this year — what a fun initiative. And c’mon, who hasn’t thought about a glass of wine while handing out treats or going to a Halloween party?

According to Vivino: “The most important things in a Halloween Survival Kit for adults are wine, candy, and more wine.”

In this year’s “Halloween Candy and Wine Match Maker” list, there are tasting notes on pairings, too, for those who want to “really nerd out.”

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-9-42-42-amFor example, this is from the notes about the pairing of Whoppers and Cabernet Sauvignon: “The huge malty character of whoppers needs a wine with backbone and depth to keep from being overpowered by the malt and chocolate.”

For Hershey Kisses and Zinfandel: “The best wine contrasts creamy milk chocolate with ripe berry flavors. America’s sweetheart, Zinfandel, turns every bite into a raspberry cordial on the palate.”

These notes are just a taste (pun intended) of the fun pairings you can find in the guide. Have a look before, during and after Halloween!

Vivino’s Ultimate Guide to Pairing Wine with Halloween Candy

Yes, we are major fans of Vivino, and back in February, recommended downloading the free Vivino Wine App. We use Vivino to help us find details about wines before we purchase them — either online, from a retail outlet or in a restaurant. We also use the premium feature to organize our wine cellar. Love it!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Kenwood Vineyards

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 4.44.59 PMIf you haven’t tasted wine from Kenwood Vineyards in awhile, it’s time to rediscover it.

Kenwood Vineyards is one of the pioneers of premium wine in Sonoma, part of the wine region’s landscape since 1970. The winery is now undergoing a renaissance with a focus on small-lot winemaking and a new look.

We recently attended an online tasting with Pat Henderson, who has been a winemaker at Kenwood Vineyards since 2003, and became chief winemaker last year. Ahead of the tasting, we received four wines in a gorgeous wooden box. The bottles had a a new look and modern labels.

2014 Kenwood Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc ($12.99)
Fruit from 28 vineyards went into this crisp summer sipper, and the result is a balance of citrus and tropical flavors plus some grassy characteristics and minerality. We will definitely be buying bottles of this Sauvignon Blanc to enjoy on our deck on the lake.

2014 Kenwood Vineyards Six Ridges Russian River Chardonnay ($21.99)
If you like your Chardonnays rich and creamy, this one is for you. Flavors of apple, peach, vanilla and spice combine in a chilled glass that will pair well with seafood or chicken.

Kenwood Zin2013 Kenwood Six Ridges Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($31.99)
Zin lovers take note! This is big, bold, beautiful and well-balanced. And somehow it is both silky and zesty at the same time, too. It will pair nicely with spicy foods but also is strong enough to stand alone without food; to simply share a bottle with friends or enjoy at a party.

2013 Jack London Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($35)
This beauty will pair perfectly with BBQ steaks in the summer and roast beef in the winter. This is our kind of cab – full-bodied, rich, robust, well-structured and elegant.

The samples were provided by Kenwood Vineyards, which, in the name of full disclosure, is a Pernod Ricard brand and a client at the PR agency where I (Margot) work. However, I attended the tasting as a wine blogger and adhered to Write for Wine’s sample policy. If I did’t like the wines, I simply would not write about them. Word.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

What’s in Our Glasses?

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 3.40.36 PMWe’ve had many reasons to celebrate in recent weeks — birthdays, anniversaries and vacations. What better times to pull out a bottle of fine Washington state and/or California wine from our collection?

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For example, on our anniversary we enjoyed two Washington state beauties, Obelisco 2012 Electrum Cabernet Sauvignon and Force Majeure 2010 Collaboration V, Estate Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.

Yes, these are definitely special-occasion wines.

In the last few months, we also opened some good-value reds — how can you miss at $15?

So here are some of the wines in our glasses lately — at a wide range of prices, from $15-$70 — in alphabetical order. Some of these were small pours at wine events; others were glasses at restaurants or bottles shared with friends.

Note: Sometimes you can find lower prices at Costco, through wine apps or wine stores.

  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2012 Destiny, $48
  • Ambassador 2012 Plenipotentiary Cabernet Sauvignon, $50
  • Avennia 2010 Sestina, $50
  • Bartholomew Primitivo 2013, $24
  • Columbia Crest 2013 H3 Cabernet Sauvignon, $15
  • Corliss 2012 Secret Squirrel Cabernet Sauvignon, $25
  • Decoy 2013 Red Wine, $24
  • Des Voigne 2012 The Duke Zinfandel, $30
  • Double Canyon 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, $65
  • Eagle Eye 2007 Proprietary Red Limited Edition Heritage, $50
  • Efeste 2010 Big Papa Cabernet Sauvignon, $54
  • Force Majeure 2010 Estate Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, $65
  • Guardian Cellars 2012 The Wanted, $37
  • Lauren Ashton 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, $50
  • Mercer Estates 2011 Ode to Brothers GSM, $42
  • Michael David 2013 Petite Petit, $17
  • Oak Ridge 2013 OZV Zin, $14
  • Obelisco 2012 Electrum Cabernet Sauvignon, $70
  • Seghesio 2014 Sonoma Zinfandel, $26
  • Seven Falls 2013 Jones Vineyard Zinfandel, $40
  • Stags’ Leap 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, $50
  • William Church Winery 2010 Bishop’s Blend, $22
  • The Woodhouse Wine Estates 2012 Darighe, $65

We hope you also have a chance to taste some of these delicious wines; if the above vintages are sold out, chances are the next ones are very drinkable too.

Special thanks to Lauren Ashton, Double Canyon and Oak Ridge for the samples to taste.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Recent Releases We’ve Enjoyed-Part 2

This is Part 2 of a two-part post looking at some new wines that we discovered late this year. Part 1 can be found here. In this post, you’ll find a variety of holiday red wines that won’t make you dig deep in your pocket — Cabernet, Zinfandel, Chianti and Pinot Noir.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 12.44.32 PMOak Ridge Winery OZV Red Blend 2012 ($14)
If you are a fan of big, lush, jammy Zinfandels, this blend is for you. We were not expecting such a robust Zinfandel-based blend when we opened the bottle, although we should have, since it comes from Lodi’s oldest operating winery, Oak Ridge. Wow, we were hit with strong aromatics of vanilla and blackberries immediately, which then transformed to a fruit-forward blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Merlot. This wine has a lot going on, with flavors of plum, licorice and blackberries. We had it with pasta, but this rich wine would also pair well with grilled steaks, smoked meats, chicken and pizza. By the way, Oak Ridge Winery first came to our attention with its Old Soul value-wines this summer.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 12.29.58 PMMark West 2013 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($15-$25, depending on where you shop)
Mark West has been producing California Pinot Noir since 1978, but this is the first one crafted from grapes sourced in the esteemed Willamette Valley.

Representative of the Pinot characteristics in Oregon wine country, this wine is lighter, brighter and more delicate than its California counterparts, but it is definitely not a lightweight.

With notes of cranberry, cherry and apple, this Pinot will pair well with meats such as prime rib, but we think it would also be fabulous with salmon.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 11.42.09 AMSterling Vintner’s Collection 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon ($17) and 2013 Meritage ($14)
Sterling Vineyards introduced a few new releases for the holidays, including these two reds. The Cabernet Sauvignon is medium-bodied and juicy, filled with flavors of plum, cherries, blackberries and a touch of smoke and violets. If you can’t find the 2013, no worries – Sterling has already released the 2014 vintage.

The Meritage blends Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot into a good wine to pair with food. Both of these wines will go well with grilled steaks, meat pastas and even roasted chicken in a rich sauce.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 11.55.09 AMSanta Cristina 2013 Chianti Superiore ($16)
Santa Cristina produces Italy’s No. 1 selling red wine, Rosso; released its first wine in 1946; and is represented by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Washington state.

The 2013 Chianti Superiore is a ruby-colored blend of Sangiovese (95%) and Merlot (5%). This is a tasty, medium-bodied wine with aromas of plum and cherry that are also experienced on the palate.

We enjoyed it with pasta, but it would also go well with mushroom dishes, turkey or chicken.

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 12.41.15 PMRed Diamond 2012 Limited Release Mysterious Red Blend ($10)
This wine was released in time for Halloween, but it works well for this holiday season too.

A blend of 56% Syrah, 40% Merlot, 3% Viognier and 1% other red varieties, this bold wine is described as mysteriously dark, with a palate of dark red berries and a hint of spice.

It pairs well with hearty dishes such as grilled steaks, rich stews or strong cheeses, or with sweets such as chocolate peanut butter cups.

At this price, how can you go wrong?

 

Thank you to Oak Ridge Winery, Mark West, Sterling Vineyards, Santa Cristina and Red Diamond for samples of these wines.

Happy holidays and cheers!
Margot and Dave

Recent Releases We’ve Enjoyed-Part 1

As 2015 winds down, we are happy to share information about some new wines and wineries that we discovered late this year. As regular readers know, our palates prefer big reds, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc and Bordeaux-style blends. So it’s not surprising that these are most of the wines we are writing about today.

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 2.53.58 PMSeven Falls 2013 GPS Cabernet Sauvignon and 2013 GPS Zinfandel ($40 each)
Launched in October, these two new Seven Falls Cellars single vineyard “GPS” tier of wines rocked us, and when we shared them with our neighbors, they loved them too. The Cabernet Sauvignon is rich, bold and beautiful, just the way we like it — full of layers and complexities of black fruit, minerality, graphite, leather, tea and tobacco, which will showcase themselves differently as the wine ages. Our neighbors declared the Zinfindel one of the best they’ve tasted — jammy, fruit-forward and aromatic, with chocolate, raspberries and hints of nutmeg and other spices.

Why is the label called GPS? According to Seven Falls, “To highlight the unique sense of place where the wines are from, the vineyard block Global Positioning System coordinates are included on each of the Seven Falls single-vineyard labels, so everyone has an opportunity to visit the Wahluke Slope from anywhere in the world.”

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 12.07.40 PMStottle Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($34) and 2012 Big Eddie ($35)
Stottle Winery is based in Lacey, just north of Olympia,where owners Josh and Amy Stottlemyer recently opened a new tasting room and facility. (They also have a tasting room in Hoodsport on Highway 101.) This was our first opportunity to taste Stottle wines, which have won numerous Seattle Wine Awards. After tasting Stottle 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2012 Big Eddie, we understand why. Stottle’s 2012 Cab also has a touch of Merlot (5%) and Malbec (2%), and is bursting with flavors of red and black berries, cherries vanilla and chocolate. With a great nose and structure, this wine can be opened now or cellared for a few years. Big Eddie is a medium-bodied blend of 55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Malbec, with juicy flavors of raspberry, blackberry and dark chocolate. What’s not to like, right?

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 12.10.30 PMColumbia Crest 2013 Limited Release “Gold” Red Wine Blend ($12)
We wrote about this wine back in September, but recently enjoyed it again and wanted to remind our readers about its good value. For only $12, this wine is a blend of 52% Cab Franc, 38% Syrah, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Merlot. According to the winery, a couple barrels of wine that represent the “gold standard” of Columbia Valley grapes are blended into this limited release Gold Red Wine. Think spicy, rich and textured – and great to pair with grilled beef, lamb, rich stews or simply with strong cheese. We’ve been delighted to find a number of value wines this year from Columbia Crest that we really like! This one is right up there with 2012 and 2013 H3 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Thank you to Seven Falls, Stottle and Columbia Crest for samples of these wines. We plan on purchasing some in the weeks ahead.

Cheers,
Margot and Dave