When in Rhône…a Primer on Rhône Varietals

Some of you may be very familiar with Rhône varietals, but I thought I’d do a brief summary as a reminder, or new information for some.  Rhône varietals are an up and coming wine category, especially in Central Coast areas like Santa Barbara and Paso Robles AVAs.  Let’s start with the basics.

Most common Rhône red grapes:

  •       Syrah

  •       Grenache

  •       Mourvedre

  •       Cinsault

Most common Rhône white grapes:

  •        Marsanne

  •        Roussanne

  •        Viognier

There are other grapes as well, but these are the most common.  I’m going to focus on the red grapes for now.  Note:  A common practice in Rhône wine-making is to add a small amount (e.g. 5%) of white Rhône grapes (typically Viognier) to red, which smooths out and enhances a red blend.

The Rhône Valley is an appellation in the south of France, famous for its earthy, rich wines.  It is typically divided into two regions.

The Southern Rhône area, as you can imagine, is warmer.  The most famous type of wine here is Chateauneuf-du-Pape (house of the Pope), which consists of a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Cinsault (not necessarily all of these – it can vary).  The result is a bold, earthy wine which is usually full-bodied featuring red fruit, and smooth and well-balanced.  Grenache, a lighter grape, is often the dominant grape in the blend.  Since the winemaker chooses the amounts and types of grapes to include, he/she can create a unique blend according to what makes the best wine.  In France, winemakers can be traditional and use the same formula year after year, however, there are still differences in the wines based on what happened that year, particularly with the weather.

In the smaller Northern Rhône, there are cooler temperatures, so grapes like Syrah can be grown without getting too hot, or too high in alcohol.  One of the most famous northern Rhône wines is Côte Rôtie (roasted slope), which can be quite expensive depending on the vintage.  Some of these wines are grown in extreme conditions, like steep, rocky hills.  This makes the vine “struggle” which produces more concentrated flavors in the grapes.  These are big, bold, flavorful wines with good tannic structures.

The commonly seen Côte de Rhône is a lower classification allowing a blend of any region and grapes in the Rhône area.  Quality of this classification can vary greatly and is less expensive.

Now that you know the foundation of Rhône varietals, let’s talk about these varietals in the U.S. where they are becoming more popular.  Santa Barbara county has some excellent Syrahs.  Some are cool climate Syrahs which means less strong, less alcohol.  Some of the warmer climate Syrahs are quite bold, featuring some aromas and tastes that could be described as meaty, smoky, spicy, or even “funky”.  But that is all part of the wonders of Syrah.  They are one of the more interesting varietals, and can be dramatically different and a lot of fun to drink.  However, if you have one that isn’t well grown/made, it can really taste bad.  Paso Robles also is a great spot for these varietals, and Washington has some excellent Syrahs.  Australia is also known for their Syrahs but they are for some reason called Shiraz down under.  There are also some wonderful Grenaches in our area, which is a lighter, easy-to-drink, red fruit forward wine which can carry some interesting complex secondary characteristics like herbs and spices.

Again, the options are endless when it comes to blending.  Many of these blends are called “GSM” (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) but can contain any amount of these grapes plus others, as discussed above.   Blends produce some amazing wines because in the U.S., many winemakers can source different grapes to produce a broad spectrum of wine.

We have featured a few great Rhône-varietal wines in our club shipment, including a cNagy Syrah, a Crawford Family GSM, and a Kaena Cab/Syrah blend – we hope you will continue to share the adventure of wine discovery with us!

Pumpkin Time In Los Olivos

One of the joys of living in the Central Coast wine country are all of the local farms. This time of year we love to hit up the Solvang Farmer’s pumpkin patch and corn maze. They have pumpkins of all shapes and sizes plus hay barrels and corn stocks. The adult corn maze takes about 45 minutes and is always challenge and they have a kids version for the little ones.

2019 Fall Shipment - Rare Opportunity

Greetings members and subscribers! We hope that you have had a wonderful summer and enjoyed some delicious wines! We’ve been hard at work figuring out our Fall shipment and have some amazing selections for you. We’re working on some great info for you, including a “Locals’ Guide to Wine-Tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley” which you will all receive when it is complete. If there is any other wine-related topic you’re interested in, let us know – we are here as a resource for you!


Reminders – if you would like to purchase wine from us outside the club shipments, you can check out our Wine Shop at www.revisitwineco.com/shop. If you would like to buy a particular wine varietal from us, let us know and we’ll see if we can source a great wine at a value for you!


Grassini Family Sauvignon Blanc

• Owner: Grassini Family, Winemaker: Bradley Long
• Happy Canyon AVA
Grassini Family 2015 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
• Owner: Grassini Family, Winemaker: Bradley Long
• Happy Canyon AVA
Lumen Wines 2015 Pinot Noir – Santa Barbara County
• Owners: Lane Tanner/Will Henry; Winemaker: Lane Tanner
• Sierra Madre Vineyard (61%), Santa Maria Valley (39%)


We are honored that two renown families in Santa Barbara have partnered with us to bring you fabulous wines for the Fall Season. The first is the Grassini Family – and it is a true family business. The Grassini Vineyard and Winery is one of the most beautiful settings in the County, with acres of vineyards, a pond and a world-class wine facility. Although they are probably best known for their Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc, they generously offered to share their Reserve SB with Revisit Wine Club members. Happy Canyon is an up-and-coming AVA for Cab – it is one of the few places that gets hot enough to ripen Cabernet grapes – and the Grassinis were one of the first to realize the potential. Bradley Long, winemaker, came to Grassini after spending time at Nickel & Nickel and Fantesca in Napa Valley.


• Winemaker Notes: The Grassini 2016 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc matured for in a combination of new and neutral French Oak. The bright acid helps showcase flavors of pineapple and stone fruit, which are varietally "Sauvignon Blanc," while the barrel aging adds complexities of caramel and toasted coconut. The finish is soft and round, yet clean and refreshing, inviting another sip. While the oak influence is subtler in this 2016 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc than in previous vintages, the signature notes of crème brûlée will still shine through. 406 cases produced.


• Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Winemaker Notes: Bold, balanced and refined, this wine opens with aromas of dark fruit, cinnamon, and green tea, followed by a touch of smoke and espresso. Notes of blackberry and black currant greet the palate, along with a hint of cocoa. Flavors of rich dark chocolate, caramel, and vanilla are prominent in the smooth, lingering finish. 690 cases produced. 93 Points, Antonio Galloni, Vinous.

We also have the great pleasure of meeting and working with Lane Tanner, aka the “Czarina” of Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir. Lane started making wine in SBC in and has worked with a number of wineries before focusing on her own label, Lumen Wines. She co-owns the label with Will Henry, who is also well know in the wine business with his restaurant “Pico” in Los Alamos, and his wine business, “Henry Wine Group”. Lane specializes in handcrafted Pinot Noir and carefully selects her grapes from the best certified sustainably-farmed and biodynamic vineyards in the area, using the minimal amount of sulfites possible. They also pick their grapes earlier in the harvest season, resulting in wine that is livelier on the palate, deeper in complexity, and lower in alcohol. We have so enjoyed getting to know Lane and her husband Riki (winemaker, Labyrinth Wines). Note: 1% of Lumen Wine sales are donated to environmental causes.


Winemaker Tasting Notes: Wonderfully vibrant and energetic, with penetrating raspberry and rose petal on the nose, followed by undulating flavors of strawberry, thyme and sandalwood on the palate – all wrapped in a firm yet velvety texture. Long, vibrant finish with lingering fruit and minerality, accented by cardamom and anise notes. Well-matched with any wild game, salmon or bird dish, with power enough to cut through any hot curry or Szechuan fare. 1300 cases produced.


Cheers!
Mike and Mary


2019 Summer Shipment With Bonus Bottle

Greetings members and Subscribers!

We hope you’ve been enjoying your Spring Shipment! We wanted to do something special for all of you this summer so we’re including an extra wine for no additional charge in your shipment! After all, it is summer, and everyone can use some extra Rose’! We wanted to include two very different examples of Rose’ so that you can try each and see what you like. Rose’ is not the same as it was in the past – there are many high-quality producers and many options made with all types of different grape varietals with the goal of harvesting grapes specifically to make Rose’, which wasn’t typically done in the past. We’ve combined this with a classic Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir from one of the oldest producers in the area, and an opulent Cab/Syrah blend from a favorite Los Olivos winemaker originally from Hawaii. Don’t forget to check out our online wine store at www.revisitwineco.com/shop to re-order any favorites or wines you may have missed!

THE DETAILS

Kaena Wines 2016 JWB Cabernet/Syrah Red Wine

As many of you know, Mike’s passion for sailboat racing dates back to his childhood summers where he watched the finish of many Transpac Races, which are held every other year from LA to Honolulu. During those Hawaiian summers, he learned to love the Aloha Spirit of the islands. It is now one of our favorite places to visit. In this shipment, we are including a wine from a special winemaker, Mikael Sigouin of Kaena Wines. Mikael is part Hawaiian and was raised on Oahu shores. Kaena comes from a shortened version of his given name, “Ka’ena’ai”, which means “potential for greatness”. Their brand and labels reflect a traditional Hawaiian quilt pattern. He is a talented winemaker known mainly for the best Grenache around, but unfortunately, it sells out to his wine club and his tasting room. However, if you visit Los Olivos, let us know and we’ll take you there! He does, however, make some other great varietals. Many of our club members enjoy bigger reds, and we wanted to share JWB, a limited release (only 100 cases made), a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon and 34% Syrah. This wine was named for John William Belfy of Buona Terra Farming who farmed all the grapes, and was modeled after a wine that Mike made when he worked at Beckman, “TLB”. This blend of grapes is unique, yet gaining popularity because it brings the richness of both varietals together and enhances both.

Jalopy Wine and Music – Guns and Rose’ Wines

Although winemaker and musician Luke Sundquist is located in our wine-tasting-focused town of Los Olivos, he is off the beaten path. He’s the only one in his tasting room, and is always spinning some classic rock tunes which draws people in. It seems like music and winemaking pair well together – blending melody and harmony, bringing out subtleties in the music – you see the parallel? It really makes a difference when you can speak directly to the winemaker about their wines. We had a great time tasting wine with Luke, and the fact that he offers two very distinct Rose’ wines gave us the idea to provide you with a bonus Rose’ so that you could try both. The unique bottle shape and labels are very cool as well and will be fun to share with friends. The first 2016 wine uniquely features 50% Grenache and 50% Sangiovese grapes from two local, small family-farmed vineyards, both meticulously pruned, nurtured, and picked specifically to produce a high-quality Provence-style rose’. Winemakers notes highlight bright strawberry, watermelon, smoked peach, and honeydew flavors with a refreshing mineral core and a beautiful, clean finish.

The second Rose’ is a 2015 Rose’ of 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 30% Merlot – a blend you rarely see in a Rose’, which gives it a much greater punch of flavors. This is such an easy drinking wine – you can serve it to anyone! Both wines are perfect for a picnic, a boat ride, or any summertime party!

Lafond Winery and Vineyards – 2014 Pinot Noir Clone 777

Lafond has one of the most beautiful settings of any winery in the SY Valley and we seem to visit it often, usually buying a case while there. Located on picturesque Santa Rosa Road, it feels like you are in another world full of farms and vineyards. Pierre Lafond started farming grapes in 1962 and was one of the first wineries in the valley with Santa Barbara Winery. In 2016, the New York International Wine Competition named his second winery, Lafond, as Santa Barbara winery of the year. Many accolades have followed. Although Lafond offers many great wines with grapes sourced entirely from their own vineyards, their location in the Sta. Rita Hills affords them the opportunity to make great Pinot Noir. This wine is made from a favorite Pinot Noir vine clone, Clone 777. This wine was a Gold Medal Winner in the 2018 Orange County Commercial Wine Competition. Winemaker’s comments: “This was one of my favorite lots of the vintage. We were able to extend and macerate this fermenter for 52 days, keeping the wine on the skins, before pressing. This added spicy aroma and complexity to intense bright cherry fruit and a long persistent finish.” To learn more about Pinot grapes, clones, and more, check out this article from Wine Folly at https://winefolly.com/review/big-secret-pinot/.

Aloha and Mahalo!

Mike and Mary

Revisit Wine Co Spring 2019 Shipment

Storm Wines 2015 Pinot Noir – Duvarita Vineyards

· Sta. Rita Hills AVA

· Owner and Winemaker: Ernst Storm

Notary Public 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

· Happy Canyon AVA

· Winemaker: Ernst Storm

J. Wilkes 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

· Paso Robles Highlands AVA

· Winemaker/Brand Ambassador: Wes Hagen

A special note to our members: "I am Wes Hagen, Winemaker for J Wilkes Wines (and the Cabernet in your current shipment). To me, wine is about keeping friends at table so we can have a great, live conversation with our eyes and mouths--not our thumbs and phones. When I met the owners of the Revisit Wine Club last year, I was excited that our local culture was starting to create small businesses that support our local products in Santa Barbara County, and really wanted J. Wilkes Wines to be part of that. I hope you enjoy the Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles Highlands District, and you will send me your thoughts at whagen@jwilkes.com. I love hearing from those who enjoy my wine, and I hope the wine takes you to the time and place it was grown. Wine is a 'visit' in a glass, and with every sip you can 'Revisit'. Thanks to the Nash family and to you for supporting J. Wilkes!"

Wes Hagen, WSET 2, SWE, AWS, J. Wilkes Winemaker, Brand Ambassador, Raconteur

(805) 450-2324 Voice/Text @weshagen (social media) whagen@jwilkes.com, http://millerfamilywinecompany.com

Greetings members!

We hope you’ve been enjoying your Winter Shipment! Thanks for all the positive comments about the wines. That is why we started this business…to bring you wines that you love, that will be fun to share with friends and family, creating memorable experiences.

For the “Spring” Shipment, it’s more like a second Winter shipment because it’s still cold in most places, so we’ve chose to send you a shipment of all red wines. One of the fun things about a wine club should be to explore new wine regions and new wines. For this shipment, we’re featuring two Cabernet Sauvignons: one is from the Happy Canyon area of the Santa Ynez Valley, a small up-and-coming AVA, and the other is from grapes sourced from Paso Robles, which is more established for bolder wines but still in the process of becoming a globally-recognized region. We have several members who like Cabs and bold wines. Remember for the optimal experience, open bigger wines at least an hour before you will drink them – it will smooth out any rough edges, especially with younger wines. Finally, we’re including a beautiful Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir which truly typifies the area.

Two of the wines, one Pinot Noir and one Cab, are made by winemaker Ernst Storm. We are so lucky to have met Ernst and his family as he has such a great attitude about life, and about making wine. He is featured in one of our first blogs. His philosophy is to source from the best vineyards the area has to offer, and to guide the wine-making process to produce wines that truly reflect the area. His roots are in South Africa where he and his brother still make wine under a different label. Now he’s enjoying the unique climate of California’s Central Coast. You may see his Sauvignon Blanc on some restaurant menus as it’s become very popular. His other wines are very small production, so you are one of the few that get to enjoy them!

Our third wine is made by the same winemaker, Wes Hagen, who wrote the note to you above. He also made the Clos Pepe wines that many of you have really liked in our first shipment. Note: we still have those limited-edition wines available if you’d like to order them while they last! He is now working for J. Wilkes as Winemaker and Brand Ambassador, working his magic with those wines. Wes is truly dedicated to the wine industry and spends most of his time traveling around the country educating people about this special wine region. He knows more about wine that anyone else I’ve met!

As always, we appreciate your membership, and would truly appreciate any referrals to other wine-lovers who would enjoy the Club! And if you have any questions, suggestions, or need any information, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Cheers!

Mike and Mary

THE DETAILS

2015 Storm Wines Pinot Noir – Duvarita Vineyard:

Ernst Storm produces a few Pinot Noirs from different vineyards, all great, but this is our favorite. Duvarita Vineyard is six miles from the Pacific Ocean, in the renown Sta Rita Hills AVA, making it one of the closest to the ocean in Santa Barbara County. Biodynamically grown grapes, meticulous winemaking and a combination of three Dijon clones create a wine that captures both vintage and site. When a vineyard is biodynamic, it is free of pesticides and other chemicals and the focus is creating a self-sustaining ecosystem to produce the best organic fruit possible. It takes a very hands-on approach to make it work. The evidence is in the wonderful aromas of dark fruit, forest floor and spice, with delicate dark fruit and fine tannin filling out the rich palate.

2012 Notary Public Cabernet Sauvignon – Star Lane Vineyard:

Ernst is also a partner and winemaker in another venture, Notary Public Wines. Notary Public was created with a desire to explore the diversity and potential within Santa Barbara County as a wine growing region. Santa Barbara County is blessed with various climates and soil diversity due to the unique East-West Mountain Ranges that open to the Pacific Ocean. The focus at Notary Public is Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc, grown in areas where they can craft wines with personality of both vintage and site, with the goal of making wines that are approachable, elegant and yet structured. This Cab is more balanced than some of the big Cabs you might associate with Paso Robles or Napa Valley, offering delicious ripe flavors, textured tannins and fresh acidity. You’ll have more pairing options with this Cab since it is not overly oaked, so you can drink it with lighter meats as well as the traditional beef pairings. No fining or filtration was used to make the wine.

2016 J. Wilkes Cabernet Sauvignon – Paso Robles Highlands

Many of you may be familiar with Paso Robles as a rapidly growing and recognized wine region. It has had a surge of growth of Cabernet Sauvignon wines as the climate works well for the varietal. We will be researching additional Paso Robles wines so that we can share the wines of this special region. It’s also a fantastic place to visit! This J. Wilkes Cab sources grapes from Paso Robles Highlands, where it is quite hot, and the vines must struggle to survive. This is actually good for the grapes because the roots must create a broad infrastructure, and the vines do not have so much water that it dilutes the fruit (think table grapes). I’ll talk more about this another time.

Winemaker Notes: Classic Cab aromas of blackberry, cherry, currant, clean earth, hint of toasted oak - enticing and complex. Fruity, dense and luscious with vicious and ripe berry flavors; shows great depth of flavor and admirable structure. Plenty of baby fat to make Paso and Napa Cab fans very happy. This wine will pair with traditional Cab pairing foods. Wes suggests Ribeye or New York Steak grilled over red oak or pecan wood, highly flavored/aged cheeses such as Gouda, Tomme or Cheddar, or polenta with lamb or pork shoulder ragout. Yum! In terms of when to drink, it is delicious now, and will shed some baby fat over the next 5-7 years, showing more earthy and complex notes. What, you may ask, is “baby fat” in a wine? The term “baby fat” is a metaphor sometimes used to describe characteristics that a wine will outgrow as it matures. These will vary from wine to wine, typically the juicy qualities and fresh fruit flavors. Depending on the context, a wine’s “baby fat” might also refer to a lush or rich texture, or a showy quality. These notes will fade as a wine ages, and with a good wine, secondary characteristics will emerge, such as toast, baking spices, forest floor, earth, etc.

Revisiting Wine Tasting - Shokrian Vineyard & Winery

At Revisit Wine Co., part of our mission is to share wine-related experiences with you as we explore wine country. We’re even going to attempt some video! Stay tuned!

About a year ago, we were driving around and saw a small sign on Cat Canyon Road (a very isolated road near Los Alamos) which said, “Shokrian” and looked to be a vineyard. We made a note to check it out later. We discovered that part of it used to be Melville’s “Verna’s” vineyard, an excellent Syrah we enjoyed as members of Melville’s wine club. We also found that there were some renown area winemakers involved with the project, including Drake Whitcraft (Whitcraft Wines, Santa Barbara) and Morgan Clendenen (Cold Heaven Wine).

On a beautiful January day, we decided to venture back out to explore Shokrian. The gate was closed and the sign said, “Appointment Only.” Not to be deterred, we called the number to see if we could stop by. After some effort, we were able to get in touch with Babak Shokrian, the owner, who happened to be there with his estate winemaker, Alice, and his beautiful dog, Cocoa. The tasting room is tiny, funky, and cool - The property is spectacular. Babak has been working on the project since 2013. We tasted a number of wines, including Viognier (Clendenen’s specialty), a young, dry Rose’ of Grenache, Pinot Noir, a Syrah, and a GSM (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre) blend. While tasting, we had a wonderful chat with Babak and Alice about the vineyard and the wines. Babak has a house on the property with a few goats, sheep, and chickens (and maybe 1 cow) that we saw grazing from a distance. We explained our project and agreed it would be a perfect winery to feature in one of our shipments.

We enjoyed every wine, and walked away with a Pinot Noir and a Syrah. The Pinot is described by Matt Kettman of Wine Enthusiast (92 pts) as “lush and think with boysenberry paste, clove, star anise, and vanilla” – yes, it is one of those fuller-body richer Pinots that are sometimes found in this area.

The 2015 Syrah was somewhat known to us as Melville Verna’s which we always enjoyed. It is described by Clendenen as having velvety tannins with hints of blueberry, pepper, tobacco, spiced meat, and plum. We definitely tasted the complexity of the wine, but it was also very smooth.

What most impressed us was the feeling of ease about the entire place. From the welcoming of the team for an unplanned tasting visit, to the casual talk about our mutual love of the area and of future collaboration, we thoroughly enjoyed the visit and look forward to featuring these wines in our Club shipment and in our soon-to-launch online store!

2018 Revisit Wine Co Winter Shipment

Greetings members! Since the holidays are such a popular time to share wine with friends and family, we are sending you a holiday shipment! Our next shipment is not planned until late February or early March so this will have to last you until then. Of course, you can re-order any of our wines at a discount while supplies last. And, we’ve included a special gift in this shipment as a thank you for being members.

For this shipment, we’ve selected wines from a very special winemaker, Clarissa Nagy. Clarissa is a well-known winemaker in the Central Coast with an extensive pedigree, starting in 1995. She worked her way through a variety of wineries you may know: Firestone Vineyard, Curtis Winery, Byron Vineyard and Winery, Longoria Wines, Rancho Arroyo Grande Winery, Bonaccorsi Wine Company, honing her skills throughout the years. She is currently the winemaker for Riverbench Vineyard and Winery, a favorite stop along the Foxen Wine Trail, specializing in beautifully-crafted Pinot Noir and Sparkling Wines. We’ve included a 2015 Riverbench Cork Jumper Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine in your shipment to kick-off your holiday celebration. If you’re not a sparkling wine fan, it’s the perfect gift to share with friends! Riverbench is an award-winning, beautiful, boutique winery at the top of Foxen Canyon Road in the Santa Maria Valley. Clarissa recently launched her own wine label, CNagy Wines. The tasting room is in quaint Old Town Orcutt near Santa Maria. Clarissa sources her grapes from some of the best vineyards in the area. In this shipment, we’re sharing her 2013 CNagy Garey Ranch Pinot Noir and 2013 CNagy White Hawk Syrah – something for the Pinot-lovers in the group and a bolder wine for those who enjoy the big reds. Syrah is one of the most common Rhone varietals. Last shipment, it was part of a cuvee’, and in this shipment it stands alone. Clarissa’s wines are very polished and smooth, artfully combining primary fruit characteristics with secondary aromas and flavors. Tasting notes are included below.

Clarissa was kind enough to invite us up to see her in action, processing one of her 2018 grape selections. What amazed us is the amount of work that goes in to making the wine. We observed the press, and the measurement of sugar (brix) in the wine. Also, the meticulous cleaning and sanitization that ensures no unwanted bacteria gets in the mix. The larger wineries with names you’ve heard of have teams of people and large equipment to process their wines, but Clarissa and many of the small wineries we’re featuring in the Club do it all themselves with minimal assistance, and pay very close attention to every detail, sorting the grapes by hand. This is what ensures that the wines you receive are the very best.

Have a wonderful holiday season.

Cheers!

Mike and Mary

THE DETAILS

Riverbench Cork Jumper Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine: This sparkling wine is crafted using the traditional French Champenoise method, like the great French Champagnes. This wine is deep, complex, and suitable for the most elegant occasions. This vintage is full of deep rich tones of pear mixed with a hint of tangerine and orange zest. It’s clean and refreshing with zippy acidity and triple crème brie on the finish. Pair this wine with…almost anything! One of our family favorites is to have sparkling wine on Christmas morning while opening presents, and transitioning to my Mom’s favorite eggs benedict – cuts right through that rich, yummy hollandaise sauce!

CNagy 2013 Garey Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir – only 91 cases were made of this special wine and you are lucky enough to have some! Look for notes of potpourri, blueberry, hints of blackberry, raspberry, and cranberry aromas lend to chalky, mineral, and spicy notes on the nose. Brown spices, smoky, toasty, and silk tannins finish with hints of walnuts. Great to drink on its own, or pair with lighter meats or heavier fish – Clarissa suggests pork loin with balsamic vinegar reduction and carmelized onions, or barbecued salmon.

CNagy 2013 White Hawk Vineyard Syrah - Black and white pepper, purple violets, with blackberry and black cherry notes. Silky and savory, with touches of coastal sage and crushed wet stone on the finish. Only 192 cases produced. We drink Syrah on its own sometimes, but it’s best with heavier meats. Clarissa’s ideas are rack of lamb, steak with blue cheese sauce, or scallops wrapped in bacon!

How we discovered the Santa Ynez Valley

Mary with the goods!

Mary with the goods!

The Thanksgiving holiday reminded us of how we originally discovered the Santa Ynez Valley. I think we can trace our first visit to 2008. It’s a great time to visit because the weather is beautiful, and if you go early in the week, it’s not crowded. We were returning from a trip up the coast to Monterey. On our way back, Mike discovered a scenic “shortcut” called Foxen Canyon Road. We love to explore and take roads to see where they lead us – including a 2200-mile adventure through Europe with Mike driving a Renault Twingo which we called a sewing machine on wheels!

On Foxen Canyon Road, we discovered there were beautiful tasting rooms with some great wine. We stopped at the Foxen wine shack (before they had two tasting rooms) and filled up most of a case with Pinot Noir, and at the next stop, some Zaca Mesa (Syrah). One of our current favorites is Riverbench Winery, which features beautifully-crafted Pinot Noir and Sparkling wines, and the Riverbench Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine will be featured in our Winter Shipment! We then discovered the charming town of Los Olivos. Los Olivos is the perfect stopping point on your way up the coast, and we see many of our friends as they are traveling. Please let us know if you are passing through or better yet, spend a day and we’ll meet up for some wine-tasting!

We didn’t have much time but stopped at a tasting room that offered a tasting of multiple great wines and purchased a few, including Kenneth Crawford (now Crawford Family Winery) and Center of Effort which we mentioned in a recent blog. We made a note to explore this beautiful area more thoroughly next time. When we returned, we’d often stay at the Wine Valley Inn in Solvang after a trip to Paso Robles, another favorite area. We plan to offer a Paso-focused wine shipment shortly – any recommendations are welcome! Of course, we’ll need to do a research trip there first. Wine Club Members are needed to participate as part of our tasting panel! Since that time, we’ve made numerous trips, and joined many wine clubs, starting with Melville Winery, which reminded us of an Italian villa. In fact, we joined so many wine clubs that it became overwhelming. That is where we got the idea to start a wine club that offers a variety of wines, so that members don’t have to join a lot of different clubs to get the best wines. Enter Revisit Wine Club. Hope that you will join us on this journey! Visit our website at Revisit Wine Company to learn more!



Thanksgiving Wine Suggestions

Fall Wine Club Shipment

Fall Wine Club Shipment

As we approach the holiday season, many of you may be thinking about what you’ll serve for your special holiday meals, so I wanted to provide you with some suggestions to help you on the wine-pairing side. One of the fun things about wine is that everyone’s palate is different. But that also makes it more challenging as a host! So I recommend having a couple different options available. Let’s focus on Thanksgiving, and I’ll follow up with some December holiday recommendations.

You typically can’t go wrong starting with a sparkling wine or Champagne. Handing a guest a glass of bubbly gets the celebration off to a great start! For your meal, for the white wine, I recommend a fuller-bodied wine – a Chardonnay. Why? Because that is the white wine that will stand up to some of the richer flavors of a Thanksgiving meal. Or you can even continue into the meal with your sparkling wine. The bubbles and acidity balance out the rich flavors of the meal without overpowering them.

On the red side, the best choice is on the lighter side because turkey is a light meat. One of the common pairing recommendations is a Nouveau (young) Beaujolais – a bright, fruity option. However, I prefer something which balances the fruit with a bit more interest and substance. I think the perfect choice is a Pinot Noir with some nice earthiness which should blend well with savory sides like stuffing, and turkey gravy. Some people don’t realize that there is a broad spectrum of Pinot Noirs, from light to full-bodied. If you’re not a Pinot Noir fan, you could also do a Grenache, which is a lighter Rhone varietal, but it’s harder to find a good one. For those who prefer a full-bodied red, I recommend a Rhone blend, like a GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre). Again, a bit more difficult to find a good one. A straight Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon would overpower the turkey, but the blend with Grenache softens it. The gold standard in Rhone blends is a Chateauneuf du Pape from the French Rhone region, but there are also some excellent options from the Santa Barbara or Paso Robles area. Whatever wine you choose, it will bring that special touch to your meal which melds all of the wonderful flavors and personalities of the holiday!

The Revisit Wine Club Fall Package contains 3 wines perfect for your Thanksgiving feast. Scroll down to see our blog below, or www.revisitwineco.com to learn more about our wine club!

Revisit Wine Co. Releases Inaugural Club Shipment

We’re excited to announce our first REVISIT WINE COMPANY Wine Club Shipment! For this first shipment, we wanted to feature some special wines from our local area, which will always be a focus for us – wines from Clos Pepe and Crawford Family Wineries. The people behind these wineries also have a similar philosophy about making wine. One of the main commonalities is authenticity. These winemakers don’t manipulate their wines – they let the grapes speak for themselves. The second commonality is related to the purpose of wine. One favorite quote of Clos Pepe winemaker Wes Hagen states, “A bottle of wine is an investment to keep the people we love at table for an extra hour every day.” Winemaker Mark (Crawford) Horvath discusses his brand, represented by a key, which “unlocks” a new experience in every bottle. This is exactly what we want to bring you at Revisit Wine Co. Great reasons to share more time (and wine) with special people, creating memorable experiences.

CLOS PEPE 2013 Pinot Noir

· Sta. (Santa) Rita Hills AVA

· Best in class and Gold Medal at the LA International Wine Competition

· Owners: Steve and Cathy Pepe; Winemaker: Wes Hagen

· Pairs well with salmon, pork, lighter red meats

· Drink now until 2025

CLOS PEPE 2013 Chardonnay

· Sta. Rita Hills AVA

· 92 Pts., Josh Reynolds, Vinous

· Owners: Steve and Cathy Pepe; Winemaker: Wes Hagen

· Pairs well with richer cheeses, flavorful white fish, salmon, poultry

· Drink now until 2023

CRAWFORD FAMILY 2015 2nd Street Cuvee

· 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 10% Mourvédre from Santa Barbara County Vineyards

· 91 Pts., Jeb Dunnuck

· Owners: Mark and Wendy Horvath; Winemaker: Mark Horvath

· A fuller bodied red wine that pairs well with beef and grilled meats

· Drink now until 2028+

THE DETAILS

Clos Pepe Vineyard presents a unique opportunity that we wanted to share with you. I first tasted Clos Pepe wine at a corporate event at the Bacara Resort and have loved it ever since. The Sta. Rita Hills vineyard was purchased by Steve and Cathy Pepe in 1994 as a horse ranch, and was established as the 9th vineyard in what would become the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Specializing in cool-climate, small production, craft-based Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Clos Pepe is recognized as a leader in local and national wine culture and wine education. The vineyards were recently leased to other wineries, so Clos Pepe wine is no longer being produced. We thought it would be the perfect wine to offer our members – limited edition and delicious! We were given a comprehensive tour by Andrew Turner, Winery Manager, who relayed the meticulous farming and production practices conducted by the team, and winemaker Wes Hagen, a well-known and respected winemaker in California. Wes has taken a new position with JWilkes (www.jwilkes.com), but we really enjoyed listening to, and learned a lot from his awesome blog: http://clospepe.com/wes-blog. We recently had lunch with Wes and his lovely wife Chandra. He has a no-BS style which cuts through the pretentiousness sometimes present in the world of wine.

The Clos Pepe 2013 Estate Pinot Noir typifies the best of the Sta. Rita Hills area. Pinot Noir wines from this area are something special due to the unique climate and soil conditions near the ocean. This is a well-balanced Pinot Noir that delights all aspects of the palate, featuring beautiful berry fruit followed by complexity and earthiness.

Experience pairing: it’s the perfect time to drink now – great on its own, or pair with richer seafood, poultry, or lighter meats such as pork or lamb. How about a backyard BBQ party if the weather is still warm where you are living?

Clos Pepe 2013 Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay is very balanced with the right amount of primary fruit characteristics, with interesting secondary characteristics, minerality, acidity, and the right touch of oak. California Chardonnays have really evolved over the last few years – they are usually not the oaky, buttery wines of the past. I have come back around to them and found many that I really like, including this one!

Experience pairing: A picnic anywhere with a beautiful view – out on the water perhaps, with some great cheese, meats, and a fresh baguette?

Crawford Family Wines (www.crawfordfamilywines.com) is a small, family-run winery. Mark and Wendy are fabulous neighbors and friends of ours in Los Olivos, who have created a very small, highly-focused winery. They do not have an estate vineyard, but select the best grapes the county has to offer and gently coax it into the bottle. They embrace the "garagiste" style of winemaking, producing tiny lots of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Albariño that provide a glimpse into the unique Sta. Rita Hills vineyards they come from. Now, with a small Rhone program underway, the winery is becoming more complete and a true showcase for these meticulously farmed vineyards.

For this shipment, we wanted a wine that would complement the Clos Pepe wines and transition us into Fall, so we selected the Crawford Family 2015 “Second-Street Cuvée”, a delicious blend from a group of vineyards throughout the county that show off the beautiful, earthy fruit quality Rhone varietals take on in this ideal location. The blend is dominated by Syrah this year and it was a good year for dark, rich Syrah, so it has more punch than some GSM blends.

Experience pairing: Similar to a cabernet pairing; a red meat or main course with some substance to hold up to the Syrah – will pair very well with burgers, steaks, or lamb. Great on the grill for a casual dinner with friends!

Learn more about how to receive the best hard-to-find artisan wines as a member of our Wine Club!

Center of Effort Tasting with Nathan Carlson

After enjoying Center of Effort wines a few times, we decided to schedule a tasting with winemaker Nathan Carlson, who has been making wine in the area for many years. Center of Effort is located in the beautiful Edna Valley. If you’ve never visited the Edna Valley before, we highly recommend it! It’s a laid-back hidden gem just east of San Luis Obispo with rolling hills and a small number of wineries throughout. After many years of operating in a small facility, the COE facility is undergoing major reconstruction and the new tasting room and hospitality center look to be amazing. In the meantime, we met Nathan to taste wines where the action is (which we like) – the warehouse where we saw many barrels and also those concrete “egg-like” vessels which are becoming popular.

Per Nathan, the “Center of Effort” wines are created from the best locations, blocks, and lots in the vineyard. To expand their line, COE has recently launched another label titled, “Effort” which are also excellent wines but at a lower price point. Stylistically, Effort wines exhibit a more approachable, fruit-forward style, bringing diversity and dimension to our portfolio. We started our tasting with a 2017 beautiful light peach colored dry rose’ of Pinot Noir followed by:

2016 Effort Chardonnay: Notes of citrus and nice minerality with bright acidity. Fermented by native yeast and aged in new French oak barrels. A great deal for $24/bottle. We took a bottle of this home.

2014 Center of Effort Chardonnay: A refreshing mineral note joins with notes of pineapple and guava. Fermented in 30% new French Oak, concrete, and acacia wood vessels. Interesting things to note: acacia wood barrels – never heard of this before! Does add an interesting flavor.

2016 Effort Pinot Noir: Per Nathan, this wine uses the best of COE’s blocks and barrels. A recent review by Matt Ketterman, Wine Enthusiast, described the wine as having baked black cherry, vanilla, raspberry, rose petals and a touch of licorice light up the nose. The lightly poised but intensely focused sip reveals a wild combo of fruit and spice, with sage, bay leaf, thyme and fennel laced through black cherry. It’s like walking through the Central Coast scrubland. We took a bottle of this home with us. It’s a great deal for $27.

2013 Center of Effort Pinot Noir: This wine includes 15% whole clusters per Nathan. For more info on “whole cluster fermentation” click here for a Wine Spectator article. Tasting notes from Nathan have this wine showcasing a classic Pinot Noir nose of orange peel and Montmorency cherries, this wine expresses the land in which our vineyard lies. The palate is mid-weight with ripe plum, cocoa dust, and a balancing freshness. Earthy notes of new leather and faint campfire lead to a lengthy finish.

Nathan is a very down-to-earth winemaker who made the tasting experience comfortable and informative. He is also working on bringing some Rhone varietals to the COE portfolio.Other great wineries to try in the Edna Valley include Kynsi (fantastic Pinot Noir), Chamisal – beautiful scenery. Talley has a beautiful estate with a grassy area for groups and kids, and an outdoor tasting area, in addition to a farmer’s market.

TASTING IN A GARDEN OF PARADISE

We had once been members of the La Follette Wine Club, having followed Greg La Follette over from Flowers Winery, a long-time Sonoma Valley favorite wine.  After over-committing to wine clubs in Santa Barbara County (our backyard), we dropped this club.  Greg had moved on to other ventures (which we look forward to trying), and there was a new winemaker.  It wasn’t until “Collette from La Follette” (yes!) called us repeatedly to entice us to return for a tasting that we ventured back.  La Follette had moved its tasting room from Sebastopol (the Barlow…www.thebarlow.net…check it out!) to combine with Quivira Winery in the Dry Creek Valley area near Healdsburg.  We tasted with another lovely family who grows and distributes green beans on the East Coast.  Our experience started with a tour and a glass of Quivira French-style Rose’, through of some of the most wonderful gardens we’ve seen!  These are extensive gardens which include about every type of herb and vegetable there is, along with tons of beautiful flowers – a magical spot!  Bees were happily buzzing throughout the plants, and there are also chickens and pigs on the property.  The lucky employees get to take home their choice of fresh veggies at a weekly farmers market just for them! 

We sat out at a picnic table among the olive trees to start our tasting adventure.  It felt like we were in France or Italy.  Collette recently received her WSET Level 2 certificate and is working on Level 3, so she was a wealth of knowledge.  She filled us in on what had happened at La Follette and the new winemaker, Simone Sequeira, who had apprenticed with Greg, and described the vineyards and wines with a lot of interesting detail.  As usual, we had a lot of questions and she answered them all.  She also brought out a small tray of delicacies (no additional charge) from the garden consisting of flavorful cherry tomatoes, olives, and dried peaches. 

We started the tasting with a couple of nice Chardonnays, both from the Russian River Valley, the one from Boudreaux Vineyards with a lighter touch (less French oak) and one more robust.  We then moved to the Pinots!  There were 3 different Pinot Noirs, all excellent, but from different vineyards.  The first was a lighter, easier to drink version from Sonoma Coast.  What a great wine for the price, at just $34!  Tasting notes mention, “Vibrant red fruit plays against the richness of oak, creating a pleasing balance on the palate. Soft tannins enhance notes of forest floor and spice.” 

The second Pinot was from the Sangiacomo Roberts Road vineyard, was excellent.  Tasting Notes discuss both an earthy richness and integrated red-fruit acidity, with smooth tannins building to a long cocoa finish. There was more complexity in this Pinot, but it was very well-integrated and smooth, which we really enjoyed.  Roberts Road Vineyard is located at the base of the eastern foothills of the Sonoma Coast, just west of Gap’s Crown Vineyard in the famed “Petaluma Gap”. The “gap” pulls the ocean breeze in through the Russian River Valley (similar to the Santa Rita Hills) where it rolls over the foothills, moderating the healthy amount of sun this vineyard gets from its southwestern exposure. Situated on well-drained gravelly soils of an ancient creek bed, the fruit achieves full maturity while retaining the softness of Pinot Noir. 

We then had the chance to choose some of the Quivira wines to try.  We tasted a Grenache, a Zinfandel, and a Cab, which were all quite good.  When we checked the time, 3 hours had past!  Time really flew by, and we had to get back for family activities.  We took the Sonoma Coast and Roberts Road Pinots with us.  We still have a 2013 DuNuh Vineyard Pinot in our cellar, so it will be fun to compare.  If you have the time, we highly recommend this wonderful experience!

Technical Notes:

  1. Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

    100% Pinot Noir, Clones 114 and UCD 23

    Open top fermenters, native primary and secondary fermentations

    11 months in 50% new French oak

    Alc. 13.6| pH 3.58| 0.61 g/100mL

    145 cases

  2. Sangiacomo Roberts Road Pinot Noir

    100% Pinot Noir, Clones Swan, 777

    Aging: 10 months in French oak barrels, 38% new

    Alc. 14.4% | pH 3.6 | TA .58g/100mL

BOTTLING WINE AT CARIVINTAS – BLENDING WINE WITH PHILANTHROPY

Good friends Lynn and Tony Golden recently invited us to help out with bottling Carivintas wines (www.carivintas.com).  Mike was on a fishing trip but I took them up on their offer, always interested in learning more about the process.  Since it was a relatively small number of bottles, it was all done manually with a small bottler/pump instead of with the bottling truck that we’ve usually seen.  We developed an assembly line and got to work.  I mostly prepped the bottles by injecting nitrogen into them to eliminate some of the oxygen before they went on the bottling machine.  Key to the process was having a good DJ to keep the team going.   Tony has a great selection and we settled on some old 90’s hip-hop tunes which worked well with some wine sampling along the way.  There is no better way to understand a process than to do it yourself!  And it is always educational to speak with experienced winemakers like Fleet Hamilton.

In the crowded world of wine, it’s important to have something that makes you unique.  In addition to making good wine, Fleet and Diane Hamilton decided they would incorporate their love of dogs.  A portion of all the wines they sell goes to support charities that support animals, such as Best Friends Animal Society, Return to Freedom, and many other animal shelters and support groups around the country. Their creative wine labels also feature dogs and other animals, and their tasting room in Solvang is of course, dog (and kid) friendly.  They also have many interesting varieties – we bottled Sangiovese, Merlot, 3 different Pinot Noir vintages, and a Rose’ of Tempranillo. We recently stopped in for a tasting with Beth who always does a fantastic job taking care of you.  Fleet is always experimenting with his creations and they currently have a really interesting herbal vermouth that is fantastic with some flavored sparkling water.  If you visit on a Wednesday afternoon, you can attend the popular Solvang Farmers’ Market.  If you stop by, you may taste or buy one of the bottles we filled!

It’s Stormy in the Santa Maria Valley…

STORM WINES

As we search for special wines to bring to our club members, we ran into Ernst Storm and his family at a Los Olivos community function.  We struck up a conversation and arranged for a visit to his winemaking facility near Presqu’ile Winery to learn more about Storm Wines.  Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by his boxer, Jake, who we’re told also has a passion for wine.  Ernst was kind enough to spend time with us tasting through a number of wines.  What struck me is, as with many other winemakers in the Santa Ynez Valley, his authentic style, both personally and in his winemaking.  There is no BS here…the focus is on selecting great vineyards, guiding the process, and letting the grapes shine.  Of course, his Sauvignon Blanc is well-known and a favorite in the area, with refreshing citrus and acidity.  We also had the opportunity to taste the very limited production Grenache Rose’, an excellent dry wine from Demetria vineyard, and a series of excellent Pinot Noirs:  the SBC Pinot, The Presqu’ile Vineyard Pinot, the John Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot, and my personal favorite, the Duvarita Pinot, made with three Dijon clones.  Duvarita is a small, family-run vineyard in Lompoc off La Purisma Road, known for biodynamic farming practices.  The balance of fruit with earthy undertones was excellent.  We finished with the Slide Hill cool-climate Syrah from Edna Valley, which is owned by the same folks as the Duvarita Vineyard.  We’re really enjoying the cool climate Syrahs that we’re seeing in the area, such as this one, which was very well-balanced with dark fruit, dried herbs, and pepper.

We look forward to featuring Storm Wines in an upcoming Club shipment soon! For more information, please see www.stormwines.com