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Tag: Cabernet Franc

Delicious Red Wines From Napa Valley

Cabernet Sauvignon fermentation crust

Cabernet Sauvignon fermentation crust (Photo credit: niallkennedy)


I’ve decided that I will accept guest posts for this blog, especially while I’m pregnant, in order to provide you with fresh wine news. Here is another post from Chuck Withers over at Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog


With such a wine-conducive climate and beautifully fertile soils, it is no wonder that Napa Valley, California is such an ideal place for winegrowing. Napa Valley is famous for producing some of the world’s very best wines. No matter how much you already know about wines, there is always more you can learn. With each new creation and different varieties of the same, experiencing and learning about wines can be a lifelong endeavor. In the case of Napa Valley red wine alone, there are many different wines to consider. Here are a few facts and food pairings to consider with your next Napa Valley red wines.


Popular Red Wines


Barbera is a red grape commonly cultivated in California. Producing deep colored, red wines, Barbera is a very popular choice. With a light to medium body, a low level of tannins, and a nice level of acidity, Barbera can be a perfect addition to nearly any serving of pasta or lamb. Under ideal conditions, Barbera is generally best served at a temperature of about 60 degrees.


Cabernet Sauvignon is generally noted as the most popular and most famous of all red-wine grapes. Producing a medium to full bodied experience, Cabernet Sauvignon is often used as the basis for many other wines. With its dry but rich taste, Cabernet Sauvignon can go exceptionally well with hearty meals, such as pasta or various types of game.


Cabernet Franc, which is often used for blending, can also be a great choice on its own. Although slightly softer than Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc can also produce a similar effect. Raspberry flavors and herbal aromas are some of the identifying features of these delicious wines. In terms of food pairings, Cabernet Franc goes equally well with the hearty meals commonly associated and served with Cabernet Sauvignon.


Gamay, which is a light and fruity choice, is generally best when served young. With its subtle softness, this can be a great choice for meals that might regularly be served with white wines. Ideally, Gamay serves best when refrigerated and served at low temperatures, such as 56 degrees.


Similar to Cabernet Franc, Grenache is generally used as blending grape but can also be served alone. Grenache has a low tannin level, with a rich and fruity taste. With its simple, yet delicious taste, Grenache can pair well with many different meals, including lamb, chicken, or many everyday dishes.


Merlot is a popular choice that can vary depending on the grape and whether or not oak is used. California Merlots are generally fuller in body with a higher level of alcohol.  Merlots are generally served best at a slightly higher temperature than some other wines, such as 64 degrees.


Selecting The Right Napa Valley Red Wine


When it comes to selecting the right wine, the task might seem overwhelming. Napa Valley offers many different options, each providing a different experience and taste. When you need to make a selection, whether for yourself or for a group, remember that every experience will be different. Give yourself the chance to experiment with different Napa Valley red wines and don’t be afraid to try new things. Chances are, with a little experimentation you’ll find a brand new favorite.


Article courtesy of Chuck Withers of the Two Guys Wine and Travel Blog, follow him on Twitter @twoguyswine for more updates on wine, travel and many more international delights.



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Creekside: A Little of This and a Little of That

Napa Valley

Napa Valley (Photo credit: Sarah_Ackerman)


This week’s Creekside Cellars tasting as a mish-mash of different wines. Of the 9 we tasted, we liked 9 of the wines. Here are our notes on the wines we tasted.


2011 Fillaboa Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain ($17) – This wine was floral, crisp, and refreshing. It tasted of mandarins, sweet apples, and various citrus fruits.


2011 Chehalem “Three Vineyards” Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($19) – This wine was smokey, hazy, and buttery. It had a sweet flavor and accompanied the Purple Haze cheese quite nicely.


2010 Pine Ridge “Dijon Clone” ChardonnayNapa Valley ($30) – This wine had Dijon mustard notes. It was easy drinking but robust, with hints of butter and oak. It had a finish with multiple seasonings, but it was not overpowering. It would pair quite well with ham or fondue. (We gave it a star and exclamation mark).


2010 Morgan “Twelve Clones” Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey ($32) – This had a strange nose – it was like nail polish remover and fruit – but the wine itself was complex and sweet. There was spice that could be drawn out, it was sweet and chocolatey and was quite versatile when paired with the various cheeses. It also had that lovely cigar box finish that we love so much.


2010 Sextant “Wheelhouse” Zinfandel, Paso Robles ($20) – This wine had a Nesquik chocolate milk nose mixed with cheap jelly to be eaten with Wonder Bread. It was okay, but frankly was too jammy for our palates. 


2010 Peter Lehmann “Clancy’s” Cabernet 38%, Syrah 39%, and Merlot 23%, Barossa Valley, Australia ($18) – This was tannic with a tight nose. It had hints of leather and fruit which came out as it aerated. It was very good with creamy cheeses, which brought the spice out, and it paired wonderfully with the Purple Haze.


2010 Tamarack Cellars “Firehouse Red” Cabernet 54%, Syrah 32%, Merlot 12%, Cab Franc 10% with Malbec, Sangiovese & Zinfandel, Columbia Valley, Washington ($18) – This was the final wine we had and it was a higher end version of one of our favorite go-to wines, 14 Hands Hot-to-Trot. The wine was a classic silky red. It had notes of vanilla, chocolate, cloves, and nutmeg.



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Tour de France – in Wine at Creekside Cellars

The Wining Husband and myself have made a habit of visiting Creekside Cellars once a week. Not only are their wine selections always excellent, but their cheese plate is quite the treat. This week’s selection had a French Wine theme.

This image shows a red wine glass.

This image shows a red wine glass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are the notes on the reds:

Bugey-Cerdon “La Cueille” Sparkling Pinot Muenier from Savoie ($20) – this one was a party in a glass. It was a beautiful sparkling rosé color. It was a lot of fun, and we decided that this would be the perfect wine for toasting the New Year at our annual New Year’s Eve party.

2009 Clos La Coutale 80% Malbec 20% Merlot blend from Cahors in Southwest France ($16) – This wine was definitely a summer red. It was fruity, light, and easy drinking. It was reasonably good, but it couldn’t compete with some of the other great wines we’ve had.

2010 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Cabernet Franc from Chinon and Loire Valley ($22) – This wine reminded me of a “barn” wine we had when visiting the Purple Wine Bar and Cafe in Seattle. I was not a fan of this wine, for that reason, but I could tell this was a well-crafted wine.

2010 Ermitage “Tour de Pierres” Syrah 50%, Grenache 40%, and Mourvedre 10% red blend from Pic St. Loupe, Languedoc ($17) – This wine was light, sour, and good. It was interesting, because on the nose, we both got grapefruit. This one is worth checking out for an evening dinner with garlic fries and grilled chicken sandwiches.

2007 Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Chateauneuf~du~Pape from Southern Rhone ($46) – This wine was spectacular. It had that lovely cigar box flavor that my husband and I both really enjoy. It was fruity and balanced.

What are some of your favorite French Wines? Have you had any of these? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

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North Sierra Wine Trail Day I – Grey Fox Vineyards and Hickman Family Vineyards


The first day of our participation in the North Sierra Wine Trail event was wonderful. We started by visiting Long Creek Winery and Quilici Vineyards. The other two wineries we visited on Saturday were Grey Fox Vineyards and Hickman Family Vineyards. Both of these vintners offered consistently very good wine.

Grey Fox Vineyards – Oroville, CA

Grey Fox Vineyards offered consistently very good wine at a very reasonable price

Stop three on our drive through the North Sierra Wine Trail was at Grey Fox. Their tasting room featured live music and artwork by a local artist. We made our way to the tasting counter, and began the adventure. The Grey Fox wines have no vintage years on them because their vineyard is small. While at Grey Fox, we didn’t encounter a wine we didn’t like. Here’s a rundown of the impressions we had of the wines we tried.

  1. Viognier – NV – The Viognier had a citrus nose and citrus undertones. It was a very easy drinking wine. It’s perfect for summertime. I could see myself lounging outside with a book while drinking a glass of it.
  2. Chardonnay – NV – The Chardonnay had an oak nose to it, so at first I was worried that it would be too much oak. Upon sipping, olive oil undertones came through. We enjoyed it a good bit.
  3. Barbera – NV – The barbera had a smokey nose and a lovely smokey flavor to it. This is the wine you drink when you’ve grilled up some bbq chicken. It was easy-drinking and light-to medium bodied.  
  4. Syrah – NV – This wine had a cigar box aura, and it was also smokey –  there were also hints of bacon and maple in the wine.
  5. Cabernet Sauvignon – NV – Quote from my husband: “Wow, fruit forward done right!!” This had blackberry and vanilla, as well as rosemary and sage. It was very nice. I wrote “WOW!!!!” next to my tasting notes for it.
  6. Port Syrah – NV – We had this paired with hot and spicy chocolate port nuggets. Oh my goodness, this wine was completely amazing. It was very chocolate-y like chocolate syrup with berries.
  7. Cabernet Port – NV – This was also very amazing. Grey Fox definitely does really great with ports.
  8. Zinfandel – NV – This was light! It was a big surprise, because you generally expect zins to be quite robust. It was peppery and spicy and good.
  9. Cabernet Franc – NV –  This had a lot of cherry and spice to it. It was also very nice.

We wound up walking out of the Grey Fox Vineyards having purchased a case of wine, and a membership in their wine club. Their wines were simply amazing, and I strongly suggest getting your hands on some of them – you will absolutely not regret it!

Hickman Family Vineyards

This tasting was a real treat. Not only did we attend their tasting the first day, but we returned on Sunday for a second run-through. I sincerely hope that they do well, because their wines were consistently amazing. They paired each of their wines with a different course of food, which added to the experience. Not to spoil the ending, but we did wind up purchasing several of their wines. It was hard to choose what to take home with us from here. The Hickman family began their vineyard ten years ago, but only opened to the public a year ago in 2011.

  1. The wines at Hickman Family Vineyards consistently stole the show!

    The wines at Hickman Family Vineyards consistently stole the show!

    2009 Pinot Grigio – This was paired with orzo-tomato salad. It was an easy-drinking wine, quite smooth, almond-flavored, and very light. This wine is a great summer drinking wine.

  2. 2010 Petite Syrah Rose – This was the second rose on the tour that I found myself enamored with, it was smokey, sweet, and had orange notes on the nose. It paired nicely with the orange olive oil. This was one of the wines we brought home from here. The neat thing is that they have refills on their Rose and their Chardonnay wines.
  3. 2008 Zinfandel – This was paired with sausage awesomeness. Oh my goodness was this an outstanding wine! This was smooth, robust, peppery, with the hint of bell peppers. We brought this one home with us as well.
  4. 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon -This was deep, clovey, and just amazing. This had spice and it was peppery and it was amazing. It was paired with tri-tip roast.
  5. 2009 Petite Syrah – This one had a honey-jammy but in the very good way vibe going on. There were hints of cloves and vanilla. It was good and sweet – and it was paired with a marinated mushroom that was just divine.
  6. 2006 Desert Sauvignon Port – we had this with chocolate fudge. It was amazing. It was chocolate and raspberry amazingness.
  7. 2009 Chardonnay – This one behaved almost like a sauvignon blanc, except it had some oak – in fact, it was *perfectly* oaked. We went home with this one, and we’re not huge chardonnay fans.
  8. 2008 Mourvedre – This was the first time I had had this wine. I won’t lie to you, we had to take this one home with us. It was absolutely amazing. It was very nice, and I caught hints of cayenne pepper in it.
  9. 2009 Reverse Red – This was a very unique wine. It was 1/2 red and 1/2 pinot grigio skins. It had nutmeg, cloves, cayenne pepper. It was just amazing. While they were billing it as a table wine, I’d be interested to see what this one does as it ages. It is definitely not to be missed!
  10. Barbara – This wine was tart! However, we were told it was supposed to be tart, robust, and paired with something big.

That sums up the first day of our tasting tour. I was absolutely astounded at how amazing these two wineries were – and how consistently good their wines were. It was very difficult to choose what we would bring home with us, but we made our choices, and they were very good. Since Grey Fox is in Oroville, CA and Hickman Family Vineyards are in Bangor, CA, they are pretty close. I’m pretty sure we will be watching what they do for a while.


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