Friday, February 25, 2011

2/25 Ian Blackburn, Lawrence Cohen Shares Featured Wines: Home Grown Field Blend 4, 2010 Gryphus Sauv Blanc, 2009 Leadbelly Pinot, Chef Michael Rossi

Ian Blackburn, Professional Sommelier and Founder of LearnAboutWine!

Ian drinks wine for a living and plans over 100 public and private events a year. Along with a series of notable wine credentials, Ian is the 2008 Distinguished Alumnus of Cal Poly Pomona, Collins School of Hospitality Management. Ian stays busy buying collectable wines for high profile clients, planning luxury wine trips for his membership, hosting corporate events, making appearances on radio, television and social media outlets and studying for his Master of Wine.

Since 1995, LearnAboutWine has done the hard work of building a better culture for fine wine, opening the doors for more quality products to enter into the marketplace and has taught over 150,000 students. With over 20,000 current subscribers, LearnAboutWine now focuses on its wine credential program which graduated over 250 wine students in the last 2 years with a Junior Wine Executive credential (JWE).

Lawrence Cohen, Wine Buyer & Educator, Talks About Our Featured Wines: Home Grown Farms "Field Blend 4," 2010 Gryphus Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 Leadbelly Russian River Pinot Noir

Home Grown Farms "Field Blend 4:" Home Grown “Family Harvest Red” is an Italian style field blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah and Barbera. It is rich and smooth without being heavy. Everyone loves this wine! Family-style flavor on your table at a family-style price.

Grown on misty cliffs, near a mysterious ocean, where the fog is cold, and the nights are perplexing, and the terroir is confusing, and the women are complicated but the men love them anyway, and the elves dance under the blah de bah de blah. . . . .
Ok, no hogwash: we created Home Grown Farms because we wanted an everyday table wine with some soul. We felt an obligation to rescue the American week-night wine from its castration-by-corporation and bring it back to the farm. It's SO HAPPY here!! You should see the smile on its face and the trot in its boots. . . And now that it has rolled around in the the sweet hay awhile, we're ready to share it with you: weeknight wine with a little mud on its shoes.Family-style, folks. The wine equivalent of a warm blanket or a deep belly laugh. Because things are just better when they're Home Grown. After all . . .even Elvis went on the air in a shirt that his mother made . . .

2010 Gryphus Sauvignon Blanc: Gryphus Wine Company produces one wine, a Sauvignon Blanc from the Valle De Rapel in Chile. Their Sauvignon Blanc grapes come from the famed "Los Lingues" vineyard, which is 2000 feet above sea level. The climate is heavily influenced by the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, and receives strong trade winds which keep the vineyards well-ventilated and free from unpleasantries like rot, mildew, and pests. For you, the wine lover, this means less chemical residue from pesticides and fungicides in your wine.Climate and wind prolong the ripening, which is crucial to the flavor you taste in Gryphus Sauvignon Blanc. It is bright and vigorous but with a fully ripe mouth feel. It is zippy and clean but with loads of fragrant pear aromas. In other words, the grapes can get ripe while still maintaining acid—a delicate balance sought by winemakers everywhere, but which can only be achieved naturally when microclimate and varietal are perfectly matched.

Things to Note:
• Single SKU Sauvignon Blanc from Chile
• D.O. Valle de Rapel.
• Grapes come from the renowned “Los Lingues” vineyard,
which is 2000 feet above sea level. The climate is heavily
influenced by the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains.
The vineyard also receives strong trade winds, which ensure
ventilation and slow, even ripening.
• Careful maceration and temperature-controlled fermentation
help capture fresh aromatics and create a minerally,
complex wine.
• Vineyards are hand-picked for quality control.
• The wine is named for the Vultur Gryphus, the national
symbol of Chile and largest land bird in the southern hemisphere.

The 2009 Leadbelly Russian River Pinot Noir: This wine was a strategic blend of three Russian River vineyards in the Chalk Hill sub-appellation. Each vineyardadded something special--mocha spice from one, black cherry andanise from another, and apple skin and strawberry from the last. eresult is a beautiful, silky palate that balloons in the mouth at preciselythe right moment, then slips elusively away--just what we expect froma Russian River Pinot Noir.Classic Pinot-fruit aromas provide notes of anise and stawberry, whilethe lush mouth gives lots of loamy earth, forest spiciness and blackcherry. A perfect pairing for a mushroom risotto.

Varietal Composition: 100% PINOT NOIR
Alcohol: 14.1%
Aged in new French and neutral American barrels.
Production: 224 cases

Michael Rossi has been named as Executive Chef of The Ranch Restaurant and Saloon – soon to open in Anaheim, CA!

Prior to his post at The Ranch Chef Rossi worked at Brentwood's superb Italian eatery Vincenti Ristorante with Chef Gino Angelini, was Executive Sous Chef at Roy's Restaurant in Newport Beach, Sous Chef at Disney’s Napa Rose, Chef de Cuisine at Angel Stadium, Executive Chef of Anqi at South Coast Plaza and award winning chef at Orange County’s legendary Ambrosia Restaurant, located in the beautiful OC Pavilion in Uptown Santa Ana.

Raised in Orange County, Chef Michael Rossi's love of fine cuisine began at an early age. Growing up in a close knit Italian family that includes 24 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren; Chef Rossi found his calling in a culinary career that would take him across the globe. Rossi attended the prestigious California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, where he graduated at the top of his class and honored with the schools coveted Danielle Carlisle Walker Award as ‘Most Likely to Succeed’.

He then set forth on an international culinary adventure to perfect his skills and follow his passion of cooking. Chef Rossi traveled to Maui, Hawaii to work alongside famous Chefs Roy Yamaguchi & David Abella and learn all about the traditional Hawaiian fusion cuisine. Upon returning to California, Rossi took a different approach to his cooking style and began working with TV Food Networks "Two Hot Tamales", Susan Fenniger and Mary Sue Milliken, at Santa Monica's Border Grill to learn the heritage of Mexican cuisine.

In his quest for culinary perfection, Rossi embarked on another vision that took him to the world famous Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners in Costigliole d’Asti, Italy. It was here where Rossi would learn the complex techniques and savory flavors of regional Italian cooking. While there, Chef Rossi worked in one of southern Italy’s finest restaurants at Michelin starred restaurant Il Principe in Pompeii, before finally landing in Bologna to work alongside one of Italy's greatest chef's Bruno Barbieri at Michelin 2-star restaurant Locanda Solarola. Rossi’s signature ‘Seasonal Marketplace’ cuisine, embraces the special bounty of each season to create a dynamic balance between the finest foods and wines. His menus are built around what’s in peak season and Chef Rossi while working closely with foragers, creameries and fisheries, as well as local farmer’s markets, creates dishes that feature only the freshest indigenous ingredients.

Friday, February 18, 2011

2/18 2009 Gravity Hill "The Sherpa" Zinfandel & 2009 "Vertigo" Chenin-Riesling

Michael Jordan Talks With Wine Expert English Knowles About 2009 Gravity Hills "The Sherpa" Zinfandel" & 2009 Gravity Hills "Vertigo" Chenin-Riesling

2009 GRAVITY HILLS "the Sherpa" Zinfandel Why is it called "The Sherpa" ? What is a Sherpa? The Sherpas are an ethnic enclave of about 35,000 Buddhists living in Nepal, but the reason Sherpas are renowned and talked about world-wide is for their elite mountain climbing skills at exceptional altitudes. It was Sherpa Tezning Norgay who led Sir Edmund Hillary on the world's FIRST EVEREST EXPEDITION. Some say the Sherpas are exceptional Himalayan mountain guides because they have a genetic aptitude for living at high altitudes. And if you've ever met a Sherpa, you know they are also incredibly happy, warm, spiritual people.

Gravity Hills Zinfandel was named to honor the Sherpas because it's founding partner, Jean-Noel Formeaux is an avid hiker and treker. But we're all big time outdoor enthusiasts. Our CEO is a fanatical camper. Our winemaker is an obsessed fisherman and hiker. I run marathons and cross country ski. If we had our choice we'd have the office on a mountainside :) But at the very least we can use our wines to celebrate people who truly use the outdoors as their office. (That's why it's in a twist-off you know!!)

Who is the guy on the label climbing up that ice face? It's a great story! The pervious vintages of Sherpa zinfandel had another photo on the label. Then, one day as I was sitting at my desk at the winery, I got a call from someone asking about the photo on the front of the Sherpa Zin. The caller told me: " The photo on the Sherpa Zin is not actually a Sherpa . . . It's a flatlander!" How did he know this? Because the caller was a Sherpa! I talked to this guy, who's name was Norbu, several times, and then met him near his home in San Francisco. Come to find out . . .he's Tezning Norgay's son!!! Norbu promised to help me with the Sherpa Zin and the label. We asked Norbu's brother, Jamling (another son of Tenzing Norgay) to honor us with a photo of himself. Jamling has also summited Everest, and is featured in the IMAX movie "EVEREST".

So, that's who's on the label---Jamling Norgay, son of Tenzing Norgay---climbing up a very steep ice face! But even more than that, he and his brother are really great people. Where is the Sherpa Zinfandel made? Well, despite it's honoree, it's not made in the Himalayas!! I doubt they could ripen Zinfandel at Everest Base camp.

The wine is made from grapes we source on the Central Coast, near Paso Robles. It's an elegant style of Zinfandel that I love. I tell people it's a Zinfandel for Pinot lovers. Not because it's light or wimpy--it's still 14% alcohol, but it's got finesse and beauty and tenderness; it's not overwhelmed by overripe sweetness or American oak. You can finish this wine with dinner--it won't knock you hard in the forehead like a lot of Zinfandels. So you can still get up in the morning and take that hike . . .

2009 Gravity Hills "Vertigo" Chenin-Riesling

Vertigo - Pronunciation [vur-ti-goh].

1. dizzying sensation of tilting within stable surroundings or of being in tilting or spinning surroundings.

The makers of Gravity Hills wines feel that there is no comparable pleasure to drinking a crisp bottle of white wine outdoors on a warm evening. And this particular wine was created precisely for that purpose. We chose Chenin Blanc because we wanted a fiesty wine with some snap and verve. Choosing the Delta region for our grapes made ultimate sense because nowhere else in California does Chenin show such refinement. We added Riesling for it's lovely, elusive perfume and wow, suddenly we had exactly the wine we wanted. You will see that Vertigo Chenin-Riesling is so fresh and quaffable that you will polish off the bottle before you know it. And then, friends, you might think you have vertigo yourself.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

2/11 Michael Horn, English Knowles, Roger Louer with Calistoga Cellars & Roberts + Rogers Howell Mountain

Michael Horn and English Knowles Talk With Roger Louer, Managing Partner of Calistoga Cellars & Roberts + Rogers Howell Mountain!

WINES: Calistoga Cellars (Chard, Sauv Blanc, Cab) Roberts + Rogers (Howell Mountain Cabernet)


Roger Louer has been in the wine business for 40 years, first as a distributor, then as a vineyard owner, and now finally as the founding partner of two Napa wine brands: Calistoga Cellars and Roberts + Rogers Howell Mountain.

THE STORY OF CALISTOGA CELLARS In July 1996, Roger Louer and several of his best friends bought 11 acres of vineyards in Napa Valley, near Calistoga, along with the Blossom Creek Cottage. Originally, there was no plan to create a winery. But after a few years of selling grapes to some of Napa's top wineries, they decided to take the plunge into the winemaking world.

Roger writes: "Friends from around the Country would come visit my wife and me, stay in the Blossom Creek cottage, and begin to become emotionally invested in what we were doing. So I thought, why not invite our friends to become part of the winemaking process, and make them partial owners? Sharing that process with our friends has been the key to our success. With partners all over the country, we have ambassadors in many major US markets."

The wines of Calistoga Cellars are produced from small lots of select varietals from our estate vineyard in Napa. We also purchase fruit from premium Napa growers under long-term vineyard contracts, including the vineyard of managing partner, and our guest Roger Louer. The long-term contracts for premium fruit ensure that the wines consistently represent estate-bottled quality. Calistoga Cellars currently produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

THE STORY OF ROBERTS + ROGERS A few years later, an opportunity to farm a vineyard on Howell Mountain came available. Roger recognized Howell Mountain as one of the most unique and special microclimates in California, and could not pass up the chance.

Howell Mountain sits east of St. Helena, at an elevation ranging from 1400 to 2200 feet, and is considered one of the most prestigious wine growing regions in the world. Comprised of approximately 600-700 planted acres (out of an approximate total of 14,000), this sub-appellation of Napa Valley, California is home to some of the Napa Valley’s premiere brands, producing primarily Medoc varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. One of the central characteristics of this appellation is that Howell Mountain sits above the fog-line. This important climatic fact means the temperature tends to be about 10 degrees cooler during the day than the valley floor and substantially warmer in the evenings, resulting in longer days. Those factors, along with the volcanic soils, allow for longer growing seasons, which in turn produce very intense fruit. The wines have very strong tannic structure that aids the intensity of the fruit allowing for excellent aging possibilities.

IN 2000 Roger Louer planted 17.5 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot on Howell Mountain, near Las Posadas Road. The vineyard was planted with tight spacing due to the mountain conditions--about 1244 vines per acre. The soils were volcanic white, powder tuffa soils, perfect for drainage and giving mineral-rich complexities to Cabernet. The vineyard generally receives sunlight for a longer period during the day because it is above the fog layer that typically comes into Napa Valley in the later afternoon. As a result of the vineyard elevation and sun exposure the temperatures are more consistent between day and night, extending the overall ripening period. This consistency aids the ability of our vineyard to produce quality grapes each vintage. The resulting wines are soft and elegant, with finesse reminiscent of wines from the Haut-Medoc.

Roberts and Rogers Howell Mountain 2004
92 pts. Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
"Kudos to this new effort for finding all the depth of fruit that is possible in this challenging growing area."

Roberts and Rogers Howell Mountain 2005
93 pts. The Wine Spectator - Insider April 2009
"Intense and rustic, with a potent mix of laomy earth, mineral, dried currant, sage and dusty berry flavors that are compact, full-bodied, tight and tannic. Finishes with a burst of blueberry and wild berry fruit. Drink now through 2016."
93 pts Wine Enthusiast - May 2009
"Cellar Selection. Here's one for the cellar. The tannins swamp the mouth, giving a hard, astringent edge. But the wine is beautifully balanced and dry, with a deep core of black currants, blueberries, spicy plums, ceda and minerals. Impressive. Best after 2010.

Roberts and Rogers Howell Mountain 2006
90 pts Wine Enthusiast

Friday, February 4, 2011

2/4 Michael Jordan, English Knowles, Radio Boca Tempranillo From Valencia, Spain!

Michael Jordan Talks With Wine Expert English Knowles About Radio Boca Tempranillo From Valencia, Spain!

Radio Boca is from Valencia. You've probably heard of Valencia in reference to its famous oranges, or its famous dish, the Paella. There's also a raucous festival in Valencia, The Falles known worldwide for its all night revelry. But Valencia also produces a very fine Tempranillo. The Tempranillo in Radio Boca grows mostly on the mountainside, on head pruned vines 25-50 years old. Altitude with attitude. The soils vary from dark miocene to chalky lime.

Balmy days, brisk nights. What's not to like for a vine living in Valencia?? The people from Valencia make a point of getting the most out of life. So do the wines.

I want you to think for a minute about the things that reflect your style. Your music. Your shoes. The color you painted your bedroom. What's on your table reflects your style as well. It's about what tastes good to you. What's in your glass? Why?

We think when you try Radio Boca you are going to want to tell people about it. It's the most over-achieving Tempranillo we've ever found. Melted chocolate, cassis cordial, briary raspberry vine, Indian spice market. What do you taste?

Broadcast yourself.