By now the California Drought is common knowledge. Residents are working to conserve, but hoping for at least a nudge of relief from the current El Nino, results of which are eagerly being awaited. In this interesting Forbes article, my friend Greg Hittelman examines the grapes to see just how wineries are being affected and what the outcome will be on the 2015 vintage.
Joel Riddell talks Flavor! Napa Valley starting today at 1:15, you can listen via the Dining Around link or on the airwaves at Talk910. Listen for his interviews with winemakers, chefs and, at 2pm, myself and Master Sommelier Gillian Balance! Gillian is on the panel for High Elevation Wines Part 1 and The Rhone Zone wine classes: Listen, learn and join one of our classes!
The glorious news just in this week, Dungeness crab is back! Happy days ahead for lovers of the crustacean delicacy and most especially the fabulous fishermen that collect them for our markets. Congratulations to all!
Read more in this SF Examiner article: Recreational Dungeness Crab Season Opens
So sad to hear about the passing of David Bowie just a few days after his birthday at the age of 69. There is no doubt the man was an icon, a legend, and helped change the face of music in the 70s & 80s. He will always be one of the greatest entertainers of our lifetimes and a star that will always shine bright not only as a musician but as an actor as well. For that reason, this week I will have his vinyl playing in the cellar and opening fine bottles of wine with friends in his honor!
#RIP #ZiggyStardust #DiamondDogs #RebelRebel #cancersucks
in this BBC article.
Writing my retrospective of the year reminded me to share these published articles from 2015! As written, some of my favorite memories from the past year were based on the accomplishments of gifted winemakers and family owned wineries. One of those was a celebration of a number of fun days spent with Sonoma County winemaker Richard Arrowood of Amapola Creek.
Last spring marked the monumental kickoff to Arrowood’s 50th vintage and a series of retrospective tastings featuring over 60 wines from the iconic winemaker’s private collection. My great mentor Master Sommelier Fred Dame and I were on hand to help with each of these tastings. I must say it was a pleasure to taste through this vast collection of gems. Highlights include: a rare series of vineyard designate wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Riesling and Chardonnay grapes from legendary sites like the Laurel Glen, Wildwood and Glen Ellen (now Moon Mountain Vineyard) that were part of the Chateau St. Jean collection from 1974 to 1988; to a series of elegant and ageworthy wines from Arrowood Vineyards; and an impressive grouping of the more powerful styles made under the Amapola Creek label from 2005 to the present. You can read my stories on this experience in these two articles published by Napa Sonoma Magazine, Notes Worth Savoring: Richard Arrowood celebrates five decades of making fine wine, and The Tasting Panel, Celebrating 50 Years of Success with Richard Arrowood.
And now some special wine reviews —Into the Cellar: Six memorable Cabernet Sauvignon selections by Richard Arrowood
Here are six of my favorite cellar selections of Cabernet Sauvignon made by one of the great masters of the craft, Richard Arrowood. From a sommelier’s standpoint, it’s a wonder to taste these vintage wines over time. File under #Priceless! -CS
Chateau St. Jean 1975 Cabernet Sauvignon, Wildwood Vineyards, Sonoma Valley: Big, ripe and juicy flavors of wild berries, chocolate, black olive, mineral, and an ample amount of structure for a wine that is pushing 40-years since the grapes were picked. A true ethereal experience made with fruit from one of the most historic Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in America. 97 pts
Chateau St. Jean 1977 Cabernet Sauvignon, Laurel Glen Vineyards, Sonoma Valley: Attractive aromas of leather, tobacco and seared meats; flavorful notes of wild mushrooms, soy and ripe berries; soft elegant texture; followed by a long, engaging finish. 98 pts
Chateau St. Jean 1978 Cabernet Sauvignon, Glen Ellen Vineyards, Sonoma Valley: Deep flavors of briary blackberries, blueberry, wild sage and mountain herbs, earthy tones, and a lingering finish. 96 pts
Arrowood 1993 Cabernet Sauvignon, Réserve Spéciale, Sonoma County: Sophisticated wine with aromas of dark fruits, bay leaf, tobacco and cedar leading to complex flavors of dark cherry, dried herbs, earth, rich texture, and a generous finish. 98 pts
Arrowood 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, Monte Rosso Vineyard, Sonoma Valley: Magnificent Cabernet that still tastes young. Lively notes of ripe berries, tobacco, summer sausage, chocolate nibs, rich texture, and an impressive blast of vibrant acidity towards the end. 96 pts
Arrowood 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Réserve Spéciale, Sonoma Valley: Extremely concentrated wine with layers of dark cherries, plums, wild berries and dark chocolate enhanced with nuances of fresh mountain herbs, clove, cardamom, and chewy tannins. 97 pts
Make your special trip to Amapola Creek this year. Hours and tastings by appointment only. 392 London Way, Sonoma, CA (707) 938-3783
As the number of popular Napa and Sonoma wineries continues to grow, choosing where to taste can sometimes seem intimidating. This is especially true when you have to figure in the time it takes to drive from one winery to the next, plus where to eat along the way.
To keep it simple, start by heading to Wine Country’s downtown tasting rooms to try some of the area’s best wines. Many of these hip places stay open into the evening, so it’s easier than ever to make the most of the day.
To read more go to my Downtown Tasting article that was published recently by Napa Sonoma Magazine.
I was very surprised last year to be honored with the title Best Sommelier of the North Bay 2014 by Bohemian Magazine. I am even more so now, having the same honor bestowed upon me for a second time in 2015, after branching out on my own, unaware so many people are still appreciative of my contribution.
Today’s Press Democrat article by Derek Moore & Randi Rossmann details what sounds like an increasing trend, my interview was included to represent a sommelier’s perspective.
Read it here: Wine Heists Highlight Value of Luxury Vino