All posts by christopher

Thinking Pink: A summertime favorite!

If you don’t frequent The Somm Journal, you may have missed the truncated version of my article The Pink Tide: Sonoma County Rosé this June.  Enjoy the read, try some of them out before the temperature cools down! ~CS

Although he is well-known in the winemaking circuit for his ability to craft world-class offerings of Pinot Noirs, cool-climate Syrahs and other red and white varietals during his stints at Paul Hobbs and Kosta Brown wineries in Sonoma County and the eponymous Shane label he started in 2006, Shane Finley is also a true believe in dry pink wines.

For Finley, it’s a journey that began in 2002, when he fell in love with crisp, clean and stylish pink wines while working a year-long internship at Domaine Pierre Gaillard in Cote-Rotie. As an homage to the region, he made the first few vintages for his Shane label with Syrah and Grenache before switching to focus on Pinot Noir.

As the years have passed, Finley has gotten pickier about the sites and Pinot clones he worked with for his pink program. He’s also shifted towards using more stainless-steel and neutral barrels to capture fresher flavors and minerality instead of overshadowing them with oak in the cellar.

This attention to detail shows in the new release of the Shane 2018 Ma Fille Rosé. Made with fruit from the Sonoma Coast, the wine dazzles the senses with enchanting aromas and lively flavors of ripe red fruits, watermelon, citrus, and a hint of saltiness leading to a long, zesty finish.

But rest assured, Finley is definitely not the only one committed to making high-quality roses these days. This is especially true in Sonoma County, where a plethora of boutique producers are now working with a diverse selection of red grape varieties to create new styles of dry pink wines that invigorate the senses and provide a growing number of consumers freshness, bright acidity, and balance in every sip.

This is a sweeping change in comparison to the days when import brands like Mateus and Lancers, White Zinfandel and ubiquitous wines with the title “blush” led most consumers to think all pink wines were sweet. But change can be a good thing—especially over the past decade. Or, as Finley puts it: “It really is incredible when you think about the shift from no one wanting it to everyone making it has happened in a ten-year period.”

Another Sonoma County winemaker helping nurture this “rosé everyday” movement is Rick Davis of Calstar Cellars, who makes his Pinot Meunier with grapes from the Balletto Vineyard in Russian River Valley that were originally used to make sparkling wine.

In comparison to the Pinot Noir grapes he works with for his red wine program, Davis says Pinot Meunier is well-suited for making rosé because the thicker skin and higher levels of tannins allow him to produce and preserve the natural color, flavors, acidity and structure with less skin contact. The end result is a fresh, clean and vibrant wine that always comes out between 13.8 to 14.3 percent alcohol.

As a consulting winemaker at Halleck Vineyards, Davis made the Sebastopol-based winery’s debut release of an adventurous, bone-dry style of White Zinfandel with fruit sourced from the De La Montoya Vineyard on the border of the Russian River and Dry Creek Valley appellations in 2018. Once picked, Davis let the skins soak with the juice overnight before pressing it the next morning. By aging 30 percent in neutral barrels, he was able to create more distinct flavors, texture and a lovely light magenta hue without compromising quality.

Another important factor that makes the rise of dry pink wines more than a trend is how well they pair with fresh cuisine. Winemaker Bill Nachbaur of Acorn Winery took these thoughts to mind when he and his wife Betsy began crafting their Italian-style rosato with Sangiovese grapes grown at their Alegria Vineyard near Healdsburg in 2005.

To match the more diverse styles of cuisine now being offered at restaurants, seasonal meals and social gatherings, the style of the Acorn Rosato has shifted to a more classic field blend that is more representative of the estate as a whole. The most recent example is the 2018 vintage, which contains with 41% Sangiovese, 30% Zinfandel, 15% Syrah, 11% Dolcetto, 10% Cabernet Franc and 3% others varietals from the old vines planted in the 1880s.

“Our ultimate goal is to make a classy pink wine that is distinct, delicious and substantial enough to set it apart from your typical porch pounders and other sweet pink wines that are made for sipping in hot tubs,” says Nachbaur.

Mags for Ag comes to L.A. on August 1st!

After my ethereal Healdsburg unicorn adventure here is another chance to join in the festivities and raise some money with the L.A. crowd!  Mags for Ag at the Petersen Automotive Museum, this Thursday August 1st!

7PM RECEPTION:  Caviar, Wines, Canapés, Hibachi Grill, Cured Meats & Cheese

8PM DINNER:  Keynote Speaker, Multi-Course Feast, Magnums Poured Table-side

9PM SILENT AUCTION:  More Wine, Silent Auction & Dessert Reception with Chefs

Mags for Ag is an intimate culinary experience promising up-close engagements with more than a dozen star winemakers pouring magnums table side and chefs cooking to support an important conversation in agriculture to grow thousands of new farmers each year.  It kicks-off with winemaker reception followed by a keynote speaker, seated dinner and silent-auction filled with wine magnums and experiences to benefit charity.

TICKETS are $249 and include reception, dinner & silent auction +save 15% with the PROMOCODE -wineclub

Chefs and winemakers include Host Chef Sean Dent of Drago, Duskie Estes of Black Pig Meat Co., Joshua Whigham of Lapis and Anthony Sasso together with wine friends at Coursey Graves, Sangiacomo Family Vineyards, Small Vines, Lando Wines, Kreck Wines, Arcadian Winery, Davis Family Vineyards, Acorn Winery, Silver Oak Cellars, Rocca Family Vineyards and Phifer Pavitt.

NVWLA 57th Annual Grand Wine Tasting! Sunday, August 4th

Just a SHOUT OUT about this Napa Valley Wine Library Association 57th Annual Grand Wine Tasting on August 4th at The Silverado Resort & Spa.

There will be sixty to seventy-five Napa Valley wineries pouring wines which have been chosen for their expression of a certain style. This could be of appellation, terroir, vintage, variety, or blend. The choice is up to each winery.

Sign up & get your TICKETS!

Caribbean at Christmastime: Pinot in Paradise Wine Cruise!

Imagine this.  Seven days of luxurious ocean travel with three special ports to explore along the way; San Juan in Puerto Rico, Totola in the British Virgin Islands and Philipsburg at St. Maarten.  And wine!  Aboard ship, I will be hosting special Costco member-only tastings, pairings and more, focused on Pinot Noir wines.

Then, at each of these scenic Eastern Caribbean ports, enjoy soft white beaches, clear blue waters and deep green landscapes; Historic Puerto Rico, with its imposing forts and rhythmic salsa; Nearby St. Maarten, sample cheese on the Dutch side and wine on the French side.

Join my family and I for this exciting adventure!
Departing December 15 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida:
Returning December 22.

SEE TRAVEL INFORMATION HERE. . .

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P.S. I Love You at CIA Napa on July 14th

Celebrate Bastille Day at this P.S. I Love You event, hosted at the CIA in Napa!  Last year I moderated the seminar and will be in attendance this year as well.  The panel event has SOLD OUT, but join in afterwards for a Tasting Reception featuring delicious bites paired with none other than Petite Sirah:  Register HERE!

Some DEETS about “The Petite Masters” Panel & Tasting Reception, hosted by P.S. I Love You

A historic journey with the American heritage grape, Petite Sirah and the top taste makers from Napa Valley

Discover Petite Sirah’s extraordinary journey to America and how the formidable pioneer forged a cornerstone in America’s rich wine history. Today, this all-American varietal is a grape on the move and trending in popularity among winemakers and savvy consumers alike. Enjoy a fascinating and informative roundtable tasting with notable winemakers specializing in premium Petite Sirah.

You’ll hear from top taste-makers, including George Urquiola of Robert Biale Vineyards, Stephanie Douglas of Aratas Wine, Randle Johnson of The Hess Collection and Artezin Wines, Julie Johnson of Tres Sabores Winery, and Miro Tcholakov of Miro Cellars and Trentadue Winery. These panelists will be joined by other Napa Valley producers to share why they are passionate about producing Petite Sirah.

Following an informative conversation, you’ll have the opportunity to sample stylistic Petite Sirah from 20 California producers. The wines will be paired with gourmet bites from CIA chefs.

P.S. I Love You is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote, educate, and legitimize Petite Sirah as a heritage variety, with a special emphasis on its terroir uniqueness.

Participating Wineries:
Aratas Wine Napa Valley
Artezin Wines
Aix Sponsa Cellar
Ballentine Vineyards
Berryessa Gap Vineyards
Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah
Denier-Handal Wines
Foppiano Vineyards
Merisi Wines
Michael David Winery
Miro Cellars
Quixote Winery
Tenbrink Vineyards and Winery
Robert Biale Vineyards
Stanton Vineyards
Theopolis Vineyards
Three Clicks Wines
Tres Sabores
Vincent Arroyo Winery
Vezer Family Vineyard

From Telluride to Sebastopol!

To prepare for the 4th of July festivities, join me at Gravenstein Grill for Wine Wednesday from 5:30-7:00 pm on July 3rd for a special pouring of world-class wines from Sonoma County that will prime the palate for our national holiday and other fun activities happening with family, friends and the staff at Gravestein Grill in summertime!

The July guest list for Wine Wednesday!

July 10:  Jigar Wines

July 17:  O’Connell Vineyards

July 24:  Miramar Torres

July 31 & beyond. . . more to come!

High on the Hogs 2019 at EPIC Steak this Sunday June 23

Join me this Sunday June 23rd, from 1-4pm, at EPIC‘s annual pig & pinot festival benefitting Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Epic Steak, 369 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

 

Napa Sonoma Magazine: The Podcast!

Just a shout out for eager ears to tune in to a new channel!  Napa Sonoma Magazine, for which I write on occasion, has set up this interesting and convenient forum for your listening pleasure.

Thus far four episodes are posted for your perusal, more to come, with possibly a cameo from myself in the future!

Episode 1:  Napa Valley’s Oakville Grocery Then and Now

Episode 2:  Future of Food

Episode 3:  Ohm Coffee Roaster Derek Bromley

Episode 4:  The Unexpected; Screaming Eagle and Caviar

Here comes the Telluride Wine Festival! June 27-30

I am looking forward to another visit to the mile-high town, with lots of delicious wines, foods and friends!  Why join me there for my fourth year?  The Telluride Wine Festival is a community event that’s not only fun; it is also an opportunity to experience epicurean delights with other people who love food and wine! You’ll learn about what wines you like and why…enjoy creative wine and food pairings…and how to craft fabulous cocktails.

Check out this winery line-up for the 38th year!

Celebrating Colorado with local favorites: Red Fox Cellars, Four Leaves, Vinne Ferra, Chill Switch Winery and The Storm Cellar.

More Select Wineries: Alpha Omega Collective, Aratás Winery, Bodega de Edgar, Carpenter Wine, Belharra, Canard Vineyard, Chateau D’Esclans, J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines, Llamas Family Wines, Kinsella Estate, Oakville East Exposure, Peachy Canyon Wine, Pellet Estate,  Skylark Wine, Tamber Bey Vineyards, Thirty Seven Winery, 2Hawk Winery, Turnbull Wine Cellars, VGS Chateau Potelle, Zinke Winery and two Champagne Houses–Laurent Perrier and Freixenent-Mionetto!

Peruse the list of EVENTS, including my fabulous seminars:  “Sommelier Winemakers: The Double Edge” & “Bubbles & Stills: Building a Bridge between Champagne and New World Varietals

Ready to pack your bags yet?  Hope to see you there!

Follow the updates at Facebook, Instagram & Twitter!

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Pinot Noirs of Sonoma Tasting! Thursday, June 13th

Make June 13th a special #ThirstyThursday and get yourself to Gravenstein Grill‘s second annual Summer Wine Series for a taste of WORLD CLASS Pinot Noir by Sonoma County wineries, from our neighbors in the Russian River & Sonoma Coast as well as Dry Creek, Sonoma Valley & the other amazing winegrowing regions here in Sonoma!

The event is from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM.  Get your TICKETS to enjoy a slew of Pinot Noir from Moshin Vineyards, Laura Hawkes from Carpenter Vineyards, Ken Freeman from Freeman Winery, Papapietro Perry Winery, Matrix Winery, Eric Sussman with Radio Coteau Winery & County Line wines, Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Emeritus Vineyards, Scherrer Winery, Halleck Vineyard, Claypool Cellars, Balletto Vineyards & Winery, Alquimista Cellars, Anaba Wines, Talisman Wines (Official Fan Page), Noria Wines, Donelan Family WinesBacigalupi Vineyards, Benovia Winery, Trombetta Family WinesCalstar Cellars, La Pitchoune Winery, LaRue Wines, Domaine Della, Aiken Wines, Joseph Swan Vineyards, Merry Edwards Winery, Paul Mathew Vineyards, Jigar Wines & More!

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