Oct 16, 2016

2013 Pinot Nior's from Armitage Wine

Not that long ago we came across this wine maker that just knocked our socks off. A self proclaimed maker of Pinot Noir. After a taste of the range we were hooked. The wines we tasted were;

2013 Carmel Valley Pinot Noir. This is hefty for a Pinot. It has tannin's that will need a little time to figure out who they really are. This wine changes in the glass over time quite a bit. Time should prove this to be an interesting and enjoyable different style Pinot Nior. *** 7.

2013 Santa Cruz mountains Pinot Noir. 
Soft feminine and delicate A sexy young girl who enjoys leading you astray. Oh baby. Hey honey can I keep her? 100% new oak. Would not have guessed. Just delightful *** 7+.

2013 Armitage Chalone
2013 Dry Hole Vineyard Chalone Piñot Noir.
A full sumptuous, voluptuous wine that has it all going on. A Marilyn of wine. Great balance and a crackin finish that just checks all the boxes. This wine is feminine but is a bit like that sultry woman that can make grown men blush. A siren that one cannot resist. Please sir can I have some more. No new oak. *** 8.

2013 Santa Cruz Mountains Mt Roberta Reserve Piñot Noir.
2013 Armitage SCM ReserveThis is a beautiful svelte wine that has beautiful aromatics and a balanced and round mid palate. The finish is like a great suspense novel from a master that holds you on the edge of your seat for an extended period of time. A technical descriptor for this wine would be 'Yum'.  This is the same as the Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot but selected barrels that Brandon feels are the best of the best. The best of the best is a little more rounded and fuller. This seductive wine is a lover with a feel for substance and connection that will make your night one to remember. ** 8+.
Head on over to Aptos California and have a taste of some pretty darn good Pinot Noir. We are soon to taste the pre-release of the 2014's and we cant wait.
Happy Wine Adventures,


Oct 9, 2016

Scones, helicopters and 100 year old port, Barossa

What is one to do when your mum is turning 90 and needs for nothing? Start a kind of, what have you not done list, that might be of interest and or fun to do list...

A big day was planned and although most things were not a surprise, it was still a surprise as I don't think she believed me when I told her of the itinerary. Mum lives in Paradise. No really, she literally lives in Paradise. Its a suburb of Adelaide South Australia. Given the location it seemed easy to create a special day. A day of firsts in the Barossa Valley.

We took off early enough to get a full day of activities in, even with the rain. The first stop was a lovely coffee shop in Lyndoch. The Lord Lyndoch was a lovely sojourn for Cappuccinos, tea and scones with jam and cream. Oh how I miss the decadent thick cream of Australia.

After some yum in our tummies it was back onto the road. It was not long driving through the beautiful southern Barossa that the rain stopped and we came to our next stop, Barossa Helicopters. In her 90 years mum has never been in a helicopter. We did our preflight and headed of to see a bunch of Barossa Icons from the air. What a trooper. Mum just hops on in and gets buckled up. Moments later we are going airborne.

As we gently cruised across the vineyards of the beautiful Barossa we started trying to spot the winery. Not as easy as one would think. One place that was relatively easy to spot was Seppeltsfield, where we had plans for later in the afternoon. We also spotted, Gods Hill,  Whistler, Two Hands, Hentley Farm, Chateau Tanunda and also flew over the whispering wall. A lovely flight with spectacular views and a recommended stop when in the Barossa. Thumbs up from Mum!
Rain didn't slow us down.
VIP tasting area.
Next up was the stop that I was most looking forward to. The main event. The icing on the cake. A stop at Seppeltsfield . First up was a beautiful lunch at Fino. All four of us ordered something different and we each were delighted by our choices. The food, the service and the accompanying wines were fantastic. Next up for Mums (and mine) big day was a tour to learn of the Seppelt family history and their profound influence on the Australian wine industry.

Nigel talking to sister in law
about her birth year port.
We toured the 1851 Seppelt homestead, Elm Walk, 1877 Distillery and 1860s Blending Cellars. Some wonderful stuff that Mum just ate up. Then it was time for our private tour host Nigel to take us to the luxurious VIP mezzanine lounge and taste the current releases of port. First up a Grand Tawny 10 years average age. Then a Para Rare Tawny at 18 years average followed by a 21 year Old Para Tawny. The final taste in the VIP lounge was an amazing 1986 Para Liqueur Tawny. The pinnacle of the day was then wandering around in the barrel room of the world’s longest and only unbroken collection (lineage) of single vintage tawny since 1878. Here we were told of the history of the contents and it was amazing. During our wandering we also got to taste all our birth year ports.

Mum enjoying a 1926 port.
We started with a 1976, yum. Then a 1963 that was divine. Next up a 1958 and then for the birthday girl a 1923. Seppeltsfield’s Centennial Cellar is the remarkable vision of Oscar Benno Pedro Seppelt, who in 1878, began the legacy of maturing single vintage Tawny for 100 years before release. The VIP tour was finished up with a taste of a 100 year old port. What a special and amazing tasting it was and what a great day. Mum was stoked and the rest of us were as well.
An amazing adventure and all just a short drive from Paradise...

Happy Wine Adventures,

Our tour guide Nigel showing some other guests a good time.

Oct 2, 2016

Aeration by AERVANA... Is it for everyone?

We were recently sent a very nice power aerator. Now we have never really used aeration much. Generally only if we feel that the wine needs it to help drink-ability. Our normal approach is if we can swirl it into drink-ability we do it. So looking at this fancy and very nicely packaged aeration device we were wondering if it would revolutionize our drinking pleasure or just end up sitting on the shelf and keeping company with a couple of others.

The AERVANA is a well packaged and a quality device. Well made and works exactly as advertised. Tip; read instructions and follow. This way you will avoid the wine being sprayed all over the counter and splashed all over the surrounding counter items and walls. This is no fault of the AERVANA device but a simple user error. The actuation button is on the top, which after having used it a couple times makes perfect sense. But the first time while putting it into and onto the bottle pushed the button and, well, as referred to above, wine everywhere.

So how do we determine if this is a must have device for our wine drinking friends. We decided to gather a few bottles of young big reds to put it to the test. With 20 Riedel Bordeaux wine glasses, two bottles of big reds and five eager drinkers one glass of each wine straight from the bottle and one glass each of wine poured through the AERVANA. Now it became immediately apparent that we needed a little wait time to let the air bubbles disperse otherwise identifying the AERVANA wine would be child's play as it pours it frothy red wine. Within a minute or two there are no tell tale bubbles.

The company says:
Aervana is out to enhance the wine experience of wine lovers everywhere. Aervana offers a new and sophisticated way to aerate your wine with the ease of pushing a button. It’s also the first aerator designed to leave sediment in the bottom of the bottle and not in your glass.
What varietals does Aervana work best with?
Aglianico | Bordeaux blend | Cabernet Sauvignon | Mourvèdre | Nebbiolo | Nero D’Avola | Petit Verdot | Petite Sirah | Syrah (depending on the region) | Tannat | Tempranillo | Touriga Nacional

So our results? The votes counted, and four out of the five drinkers preferred the AERVANA poured wine (both wines Bordeaux). Wow we thought, that is a big recommendation.

Did it revolutionize our drinking pleasure? Is this a must have? Can we now live without it? Yes and no. We know, that is not an answer. WE continued to use it on many other wines and found it a bit mixed on improved initial drinking pleasure. On reflection, the wines that seemed better were all on the company varietals list. Perhaps not a coincidence.

So the take away is this. Nicely leaves the sediment in the bottle not the glass. Very cool and easy dispensing and cleans up super easy. With heavy and younger wines of the recommended varietals we experienced the AERVANA does make the wine more approachable for the average drinker in a nice classy and convenient dispensing package.

Happy Wine Adventures,


PS: Still using it...

Sep 25, 2016

Vertical_ Passion and Pinot on the Oregon Wine Trail, a review

Sideways was an over the top, pretty funny lost weekend buddy road trip story, and one that had a significant impact on the wine industry (for better or worse). Rex Pickett’s sequel ‘Vertical' continues a similar type of story but aims higher than it’s predecessor and will have you reflecting on ones own human condition, and in most all ways succeeds, other than it probably will not change the wine industry (a good thing).

Vertical starts of a little like Sideways meets the Hangover. The story goes through basically three stages with a ray of sunshine at the end. A hell of a good time with drunken debauchery and the start of a long road trip which then goes through a period where it spirals into falling apart to a lone dark stretch fighting openly with personal and physical demons to the final destination. The final ray is the reconciliation of mother and son. Touching enough to bring a tear with an emotional rawness that will make some bleed.
Confessing that the book sideways has not been read here but the movie has been seen and often discussed.
Rex Picket uses the first person lens of his alter ego, Miles Raymond and is quite the wordsmith. Another confession... Had to use the word dictionary in the back or the book a few times.

The premise is that Miles wrote a book about the boys weekend in sideways called Shameless and shortly after a movie by the same name makes him a huge celebrity with all the fame and wealth that goes with it. His sidekick Jack has had the reverse fortune and is divorced with a child and on the skids. Both have a serious drinking problem and not in a good way. Miles concocts an idea on how to fulfill his mothers wishes to leave the nursing home and go live with her sister in Wisconsin via the International Pinot Noir Celebration in the Willamette Valley and everyone's favorite two wino's hit the road again. This time its in a handicap van with Miles' disabled elderly mother, her pot smoking nurse, and his moms poorly behaved dog Snapper in tow. Sounds like a bloody good time ay? Well, at times it is, but at other times, well, it is soul searchingly sad.

So off they drive. Passing through Santa Ynez they stop at their old haunts including the now bustling Hitching Post where Miles is treated like a rock star. At every stop the wine and food is comped as vintners thank him for their booming Pinot sales in the wake of ‘Shameless' and even with his invalid mother in tow, Miles and Jack find plenty of star crossed women along the way to satisfy their lust including a couple of Spanish women on a ‘Shameless Tour’ of the Santa Ynes area. Once they discover Miles’ identity they both are more than willing participants in a weekend fling up in Paso Robles. This is the fun part of the journey. It soon turns tense and dysfunctional (OK, more dysfunctional). This is where the story takes on a dark quality that at times is uncomfortable to read.

The last part of the book follows the buggered relationship between Phyllis and Miles as they travel to Wisconsin. This gives ‘Vertical’ a conclusion that may split readers on the satisfaction of how the story comes to it’s end.
For those who are curious there is clearly plenty of room for a third book to be written.

Oh and on the question of whether this book should be made into a movie... Yes! 

Happy Wine Adventures,


Note to reader : The book I am reviewing here is Vertical- Passion and Pinot on the Oregon Wine Trail--not to be confused with an earlier limited edition run known simply as "Vertical

Sep 11, 2016

Pinot Paradise 2016

A few Saturdays ago, ok quite a few, I attended a Pinot Noir technical session on Santa Cruz Mountains AVA put on by the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association.

Putting you on the pathway to Pinot Paradise. Who doesn't love a good Pinot Noir? Well it seems now days Pinot Noir is easy to find and often quite inexpensive but good ones are not as easy to find as one would think so checking out this Pinot centric region was going to be fun.

Pinot Noir Technical Session at Hotel Paradox
Saturday, May 21
John Bargetto acknowledging Ken Burnap 
Learn and discover! This session was from 8:30am to 11:30am and featured an engaging program around geology and soils, regional history and all with a winemaker panel to kick-off regional exploration. During this event as we tasted and talked about an array of Pinot Noirs from the oldest mountain American Viticulture Area (AVA) in the United States. The ticket price was also reasonable $45.

Held at the lovely Hotel Paradox in Santa Cruz, California in a well sized and comfortable meeting room. The morning started out with the first session being done by area icon and Pinotfile Ken Burnap founder of the Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard. Ken told the story of how the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA was designed. Ken was a big player in how the AVA came about. He explained how he and David Bennion (co founder of Ridge Vineyards) spent years studying the region and the way the fog would behave creating a defined and predictable pattern.

Next up was the engaging John Bargetto of Bargetto Winery.
Bargetto Winery is the oldest continuously operating winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is currently run by the third generation of this family winery. Bargetto Winery, an American story. 

John talked about the Regan Vineyard (pronounced 'Ree gan') that has nearly 40 acres planted to twelve different varietals and clones. A special vineyard that is one of the largest and most diverse in the Santa Cruz Mountains. 
As part of the session we had the opportunity to taste a Pinot Noir from Bargetto and also a Pinot Noir from the Regan vineyards made by MJA Vineyards. This was a very eyeopening tasting as the grapes came from the same vineyard but the wine could have been from different parts of the world. Both lovely tasting wines but bearing no resemblance to each other. One very much an elegant Pinot, the other more robust with heavier mouth feel.

Next up was three tastings from different wineries using the Muns Vineyard. We tasted wines from Muns, Left Bend and Thomas Fogarty Winery's. The Muns Vineyard sits atop the Santga Cruz Mountains facing the Monterey Bay at an elevation of 2600'.

The next tasting of the session was of the Lester Family Vineyards. This gentle sloping vineyards is located in Corralitos where a strong maritime influence provides for long cool maturation time. The wineries we tasted using the Lester Family Vineyards were, Big Basin, Martin Ranch and Sante Arcangeli Family wines.

The final group of wines have grapes sourced from the Coast Grade Vineyards. The Coast Grade Vineyard is located in Bonny Doon and was planted in 2008. Residing at an elevation of 1,238 to 1,350 feet on a southwest facing slope that is also heavily influenced by the Monterey Bay. The wineries we tasted were Beauregard Vineyards, Big Basin Vineyards and Partage Wine Company.

This casual yet informative (and very affordable unlike some other Pinot events) session on the Santa Cruz Mountan AVA and Pinot Noir was a wonderful overview of the region, the grape and the lovely wine that is produced by multiple wineries. The similarities and the differences were interesting and delicious from this interesting region which certainly has its share of good Pinot Noir.

Happy tasting Adventures,