Ever been to Safeway at 12:30am on a Friday night, combing the aisles of red, while looking for something to take the edge off a 3 hr drive, selecting a bottle you think your brother mentioned a while back, and discovering a fantastic bottle you now consider a favorite? That was way too specific to say anything else but “We did”.
Linda’s brother is coming into town next month. In planning the trip, he mentioned a few wineries we could visit including Buena Vista. We had never heard of Buena Vista before, as well as the other wineries on his list, and we’re the ones with the wine blog. Ha! Buena Vista is actually the oldest premium winery in California, dating back to 1857.
I recently came across this SF Chronicle article about 2008 Cabernet Sauvignons and thought it would be good inspiration for my June pick. There were some familiar names (Chappellet, Hall, Mondavi), but the Buehler caught my eye for it’s price and review. I haven’t tried Buehler and don’t know much about them. The SF Chronicle review was for the 2008 vintage, but the folks at K&L Wine said the 2007 was better anyways. One day we’ll learn about vintage comparisons.
Looking at the Buehler website, they’ve been around for about 30 years in St. Helena making Cabernet, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay. They do tastings, but only by appointment. Since they’re tucked in way up hills of east St. Helena off the beaten path, a reservation is even more of a must.
Chris' Grandpa @ Breezy Point
Since our Dads were either 150 miles away playing golf or 2,500 miles away watching baseball, we celebrated them with Father from Saarloos & Sons. We’ve mentioned Saarloos before on our favorites page. Their wines have a strong family focus making them a perfect choice for Father’s Day. I actually sent my Dad a bottle of Saarloos’ Son Cabernet for today. He celebrated Father’s Day by posting a photo of his Dad on Facebook. I never knew my grandfather but love seeing old photos of him, especially when he’s smiling.
Rubicon Bay @ Lake Tahoe
We timed our June tasting with a trip to Tahoe with 4 friends and 2 new friends. Rather than let our open bottles sit on our lonely counter for a week as we slowly consumed them, we wanted to share them with friends and get their opinions on our wines. It felt a little odd showing up with 4 bottles and offering to pour a blind tasting, but our friends were excited to give it a try and play along.
We brought along 4 Syrahs varying in ABV from 12.5% to 15.5%: Domaine Vincent Paris Saint-Joseph, Mission Estate Winery Syrah Hawkes Bay, Melville “Estate-Verna’s”, and Michael & David Vineyards “6th Sense”. The goal was to see if people could tell the difference between low and high alcohol wines and if they preferred high alcohol fruit bombs. My guess was that people could tell the difference in ABV, but I wasn’t sure if the group would like the fruiter, high alcohol wines. So did the group pick the wines in order and go for the 15.5%?
A few wine friends sent some notes about a tasting at a wine shop in West Portal called The San Francisco Wine Trading Company. Luis, our friend from VinosUnico, and the team at Blue Danube Wines were pouring 25 different wines from Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Montenegro. It was kind of exciting since we hadn’t heard of many of the grapes. Any idea was Zilavka, Vranac, and Xarel-lo taste like? We still don’t but we tried them.
We’ll start off with the winner of the night – Kogl’s 2010 Ranina out of Podravje, Slovenia ($18.95). It was our second wine of the night and one we went back to at the end of the tasting to confirm our love. It’s got a great floral smell that make you think of a fresh bouquet. There was also an Irish Spring-esque soap quality that was pleasant, not soap like Alfie’s punishment in A Christmas Story. The Ranina grape supposedly is sweet with great aromas so it sounds like we weren’t too far off with out notes. The bottle actually impressed us enough to make the trip home.
After a barn-burning vote, and by barn-burning I mean me bugging people to give me their opinion, we have a selection for our June tasting. Facebook was involved, as was email, and eventually a Virginia quarter spun on a table. In the end, tasting the difference between high alcohol fruit bombs vs low alcohol subtle wines won the vote. We may give second place Spain vs. Portugal its chance next month.
K&L Goodie Bag
Our friends at K&L Wines helped select a combination of Syrah with alcohol levels from 12.5% to 15.5%. The wines even range in terms of geography: California Lodi, California Santa Barbara, France, and New Zealand.
Pinot to the Left & Zin on the Right
Oops. May got a little busy. And I may or may not have posted a Linda’s pick. (I’ll save you the trouble of searching: I didn’t.) But I’m here to make up for it! We’ve been enjoying these two wines quite a bit this past week.
We’re going to try something new this month that may become a regular occurrence with our blog. Instead of thinking up a tasting, we’re going to come up with a few tasting ideas and then post them on our Facebook page for people to vote on them. After a week of voting, the tasting with the most votes gets selected for the month.
Here are the tasting options for June. We’re keeping it simple with three choices this month:
High vs. Low Alcohol Content – There seems to be a growing debate over the alcohol content of wine. The modern consumer and high profile critics seem to prefer fruitier, more intense wines which means riper grapes which means more sugar to convert to alcohol. We’ll try and pick a few bottles of the same varietal (paying no attention to region) with mixed alcohol levels.
Spain vs. Portugal – Who cares if Spain beat Portugal in the recent World Cup in South Africa on account of a David Villa goal? We’ll piggyback off our experience at #Wines4JapanSF and visit our friend Luis at VinosUnico to setup a battle between Spain and Portugal wines. Since we don’t know that much about these two regions, we might even stage a white competition and a red competition.
BevMo vs. Whole Foods vs. Trader Joe’s – If you had $15 to spend on a wine and asked a clerk in BevMo, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s for a recommendation, who comes out on top? We’ll taste the wine blind in the sense we won’t know who picked which bottle until the end.
So go exercise your right to vote by clicking RIGHT HERE. It will take two seconds. We’ll keep the polls open for a week and announce the winner a week from today.
Note: we’re still new to the FB thing so you might have to become a fan to vote. Don’t worry, there won’t be any FB spam from us. We’ve already blocked our friend’s game updates, so we know how crazy it can be. But for those who won’t commit, leave your vote in our comments for it to count. We want as much participation as possible.
Before we get to the interview, I have a confession to make…I suffer from too-many-ideas-too-little-time-itis. It’s plagued me for a while now and has resulted in a few purchased web domains, email conversation and pitch decks with friends that fall off the radar, even downing multiple $14 cocktails while discussing video and e-commerce and mobile possibilities. This disease is not going away so feel free to call me out on starting an idea and then letting it float away. We’ll eventually get better at seeing ideas through like posting Facebook polls to learn your thoughts on the best parts of our blog.
Early on when we started writing this blog, I had one of these ideas. I thought it would be really friggin cool to reach out and interview wine professionals, initially asking the basic questions and eventually moving up to the “you can’t handle the truth” type. Ask sommeliers about their cellar, the timeline to ship, training their staff of making suggestions. Ask winemakers about supply and demand, growing conditions, disease prevention. Ask wine retailers about their sourcing, competitive differentiation, the power of WS ratings (maybe even try and do a wine shop apprenticeship – free labor for free education – I may still try that).