Category Archives: Appellation

Take a trek Behind The Cellar Door: March 4-5

Seriously!  This is an opportunity to go taste some of those foothill wines I keep telling you about.  In fact, I have 2 FREE DAY PASSES to this one, Behind the Cellar Door, for the first person to write a note to wine@sawyersomm.com with their mailing address.  What you get in return is a weekend of touring the lovely Amador County wineries, towns and landscape. The caveat?   I just ask you to report back here for all of SawyerSomm with your favorite wines from the tour.  Believe me, you will thank me for this!

For those that aren’t quick enough on the draw, you can still
purchase tickets HERE until Feb 28th.  Have fun everyone!

Wine Education: In depth with Napa Valley!

Flavor! Napa Valley is just six weeks away, March 22 through 26!  Make sure to get your tickets for my seminars now.  Many are already SOLD OUT, so get them while you can!  To get both your palate and cerebellum ready, enjoy this article I wrote about Napa Valley below for BuyWine.com.  

Napa Valley, California

Mention Napa Valley, and most people have a story to tell about a memorable wine they’ve had from the region. It’s an interesting point when you consider that the valley is only 30 miles long, a few miles wide, and represents roughly 4% of the amount of grapes picked in California. But despite being a relatively small area, the big reputation is built on making world-class wines with fruit grown on family-owned vineyards.

Squeezed between the Mayacamas and Vaca Mountain ranges, 45 minutes north of San Francisco, Napa Valley was the first American Viticultural Area or AVA to be designated in California in 1981. Back then, there was only a handful of wineries in the region. But today, there are 500-plus wineries and a shared dedication to growing premiere vineyards in diverse soils and warm, arid climate conditions that are similar to those found in the famous winegrowing regions along the Mediterranean. The end result is an elaborate matrix of vineyards varying in elevation from sea-level to 2,600 feet that produce low yields and high-quality fruit used to make some of the most prolific wines enjoyed in America and around the globe.

Grape Expectations

Whites: Sauvignon Blanc is the dominant white grape planted in the gravelly soils on the valley floor, particularly in the warmer segments in the northern part of the valley. Whereas, ….In the more clay and sandy-based soils stretching from Yountville to San Pablo Bay at the southern end of the valley, Chardonnay is the most widely planted white grape at the southern end of the valley. Smaller offerings to look for include: Semillon, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Riesling.

Reds: For red grapes, Napa Valley is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Bordeaux-style blends made with smaller portions of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Other specialty plantings in the region include: Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Grenache, and Pinot Noir.

Tasty Sensations

White Wines: The diverse styles of Sauvignon Blanc vary in style from racy and tangy to elegant and complex. Some are aged entirely in stainless steel tanks to preserve the purity of the grape; some have a portion of the blend aged in egg-shaped concrete fermenters; and others have a touch of neutral or new oak. The Chardonnays tend to be riper and more full-bodied than those from the more coastal regions of California. And in addition to being blended with Sauvignon Blanc to make a more complex, Bordeaux-style white wine; Semillon is also used to make aromatic sweet wines with flavors of ripe tropical fruits.

Red Wines: There’s no denying that Cabernet Sauvignon is the king of Napa Valley. The styles of the region range from earthy, tangy and spicy with emphasis on red fruits; to bolder styles with notes of dark berries, cherry, chocolate and varying levels of oak; to the more full-bodied opulent flavors, and the potential to age for decades in the cellar. Most of the Merlots are medium to full-bodied with emphasis on ripe red fruits, milk chocolate, and spice. The Zinfandels and Petite Sirahs are mainly from old vines—many of which are still farmed by the families who planted these vineyards before the focus of the valley shifted towards Bordeaux varietals. For that reason, many of the wines made with these grapes have distinctive fruit flavors and layers of spice.

Food Pairings

As a rule, many of the Sauvignon Blancs from Napa Valley match perfectly with a wide range of cuisine, including oysters on the half-shell, goat cheese, gourmet salads, sushi and lighter meats on the grill, to spicier dishes that fall under the categories of Mexican, Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. For Chardonnay, the lighter styles pair nicely with appetizers and starting courses; while the more full-bodied offerings are fantastic to pair with seafood, poultry, pork, pasta, and white sauces.

In the red wine category, the more elegant styles of Cabernet Sauvignon are very compatible with daintier dishes like grilled vegetables, seared Ahi tuna, roasted chicken and Asian cuisine with plum sauce. For the bolder and more complex styles, rib-eye steak, lamb and blue cheese are great choices. For Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Bordeaux-style blends; think wild mushrooms, quinoa, salmon, quail, and meats seasoned with herb-based rubs. While Zinfandels and Petite Sirahs are sassy, savory, and ideal for pairing with grilled red meats, veggies, and elaborate pizza.

 

Mt. Veeder Tasting on Saturday, August 6th

mtveeder080616Here is a great opportunity to taste amazing wines from 25 Mt. Veeder wineries!  There will also be food pairings from Hess Executive Chef, Chad Hendrickson and live high-energy blues from The Hummingbirdz. More fun to be had when you peruse the Silent Auction and participate in the Raffle.  Best of all, take home limited production Mt. Veeder gems from participating wineries!

Mt. Veeder Appelation Wine Tasting
Saturday, August 6
1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
The Hess Collection Winery
4411 Redwood Road, Napa

Purchase $75 tickets at MtVeederWines.com
or call 707-266-1296 ($100 Tickets at the Door)

PARTICIPATING WINERIES
Anthem Winery & Vineyards
VGS Chateau Potelle
Fontanella Family Winery
Godspeed Vineyards
HALL Wines
The Hess Collection Winery
Howell at the Moon Winery
Lagier Meredith
Marketta Winery
Mayacamas Vineyards
Mithra Winery
Mount Veeder Winery
Mt. Brave
O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery
Paratus Vineyards
Progeny
Random Ridge
Robert Craig Winery
Rubissow Wines
Sky Vineyards
Vinoce Vineyards
Y. Rousseau Wines
Yates Family Vineyard

Jean Arnold Sessions new Exec Director of SVVGA

A hearty congratulations to my friend Jean and the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Association for making their relationship formal!

My fun photo of Jean Arnold Sessions with Alexandra O'Gorman of Ramey Wines and Summer Kostik Jeffus of Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits at the Sonoma County Barrel Auction in April.
My fun photo of Jean Arnold Sessions (center) with Alexandra O’Gorman of Ramey Wines and Summer Kostik Jeffus of Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits at the Sonoma County Barrel Auction in April.

“It has been a long-held dream of mine to be a leading voice for our wine community. The vintners of Sonoma County have many stories to tell. These stories bring to life the challenges of working with such diversity of land, dedication to sustainable grape growing for the highest quality of winemaking, while working together to care and support our agriculture and our community. This is an exciting time to be part of the Sonoma County Vintners.” — Jean Arnold Sessions.

You can read details about their joint venture HERE!

The Return of Lake County!

lakecoAfter the devastating Valley Fire last autumn local organizations and citizens have been collaborating in  a multitude of ways to help support the recovery and redevelopment of Lake County.  It seems the efforts are making a difference, particularly in regards to their wine industry, with events in addition to ample tourism.

Read this recent Press Democrat article by Bill Swindell to find out more and perhaps think about ways we can continue supporting our neighborto the North:

Lake County Wine Industry is Ready for Takeoff!

Hospice du Rhône is almost here! April 14-16

Too late to buy tickets online, but sales at the door are worth the trip to Hospice du Rhône in Paso Robles, CA!  Be sure to check the website for more information.  And play “Where’s Chris?”  you can find me roaming about.

hdr16bHospice du Rhône is located on the Central Coast of California, operates to improve the business conditions of the grape growers and wine producers of Rhône variety wines and grapes throughout the world.

Join the Mt. Veeder Spring Tasting – Thursday April 21st

I will be moderating the fabulous Mt. Veeder Spring Tasting yet again this year in San Francisco on Thursday April 21!  The event is from 5–7pm at The Presidio Golden Gate Club, on 135 Fisher Loop, SF.

MVSF 2016Twenty Mt. Veeder wines will be featured with gourmet small bites from Presidio Foods Catering and assorted artisan cheeses, charcuterie, crackers and breads.  Don’t miss out…it’s the only time of the year you can TASTE and PURCHASE Mt. Veeder wines ON SITE…most of which are not open to the public.

Purchase tickets HERE, visit MtVeederWines.com
or call 707-266-1296.

Cheers! Christopher

Get your Rhone on! Saturday March 19th

Have a hankering for some robust Rhone inspired local wines?  From aromatic white wines and elegant red blends, to bold and spicy vineyard designates, taste and discover why many talented winemakers in Napa Valley are working with grape varietals that were originally made famous in the Rhone Valley of France and other special regions around the globe at this amazing wine class and tasting!

Exploring the Rhone Zone
The Rudd Center at The Culinary Institute
of America Greystone, St. Helena
Saturday, March 19 / 3:00pm – 4:30pm
Get your tickets!

Moderated by Esther Mobley, Wine Writer, San Francisco Chronicle and joined by an amazing panel;  Carole Meredith, Proprietor/Co-Founder, Lagier Meredith Vineyard, David Miner, Proprietor, Miner Family Winery, Ashley Hepworth, Winemaker, Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Gillian Balance, Master Sommelier, Stags Leap Winery/Treasury Wine Estates and Jeff Cohn, Winemaker/Proprietor, Jeff Cohn Cellars.

Featured Wines!
minerscJeff Cohn Cellars 2013 Viognier, 2 Guys/2 Barrels, Stagecoach Vineyard, Atlas Peak
Joseph Phelps 2012 Syrah, Larry Hyde & Sons Vineyard, Carneros
Lagier Meredith 2003 Syrah, Estate Grown, Mount Veeder
Miner Family 2011 Syrah, Stagecoach Vineyard, Napa Valley
Stags Leap 2012 Petite Sirah, Ne Cede Malis, Estate Grown, Stags Leap District

Yum!  Christopher

Meet Some Young Wine Stars of Napa Valley! Sat, March 19th

Flavor! Napa Valley is happening now!  Just another awesome learning opportunity for your curious palate:

Forward Thinking, the Young Stars of Napa Valley
The Rudd Center at The Culinary Institute of
America Greystone, St. Helena
Saturday, March 19 / 10:00pm – 11:30pm
Get your tickets!

Meet the next generation of talented winemakers in Napa Valley.
Find out the new wine trends they are applying to their family vineyards, discover the intriguing grape varietals they are working with, and taste the signature styles of wines which set them apart from the rest!  Moderated by Ian White, Wine Director for San Francisco Magazine/Modern Luxury.

Your stellar list of young panelists includes:
Alan Viader, Viader Vineyards & Winery
Alycia Mondavi, Aloft Wine
Judd Finkelstein, Judd’s Hill
Alex Llamas, Llamas Family Winery
Joe Harden, Robert Mondavi Winery
Patrick Foley, Foley Johnson Winery

smallflavorAlso, today is the LAST DAY to get tickets for these fabulous Friday classes:
Pinot Paradise
Aromatic White Wines for Spring
The Preservation Society

Cheers! Christopher

Cabernets from the Mountains: Come taste some High Elevation Wines with me!

1-vaca-mountains-napa-valley-patti-britton
The Vaca Mountains by Patti Britton (http://fineartamerica.com)

This Saturday March 19th, join my class, High Elevation Wines Part 1: Eastside, covering the amazing wines of the Vaca Mountain range in Napa Valley, along with some of the wonderful women involved in their production!

Antica Napa Valley
Beringer
Cimarossa
Cliff Lede
Palmaz Vineyards

High Elevation Wines Part 1: Eastside will be held at The Rudd Center at The Culinary Institute of America Greystone, St. Helena, from 10:00 – 11:30am.  Get your tickets now!

Continue your Flavor! Napa Valley adventure on Saturday to the afternoon follow-up High Elevation Wines Part 2: Westside or Exploring the Rhone Zone, both at 3pm.

See you this weekend! Christopher