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Tag: Napa Valley

California Delicious Wine Basket Review

California Delicious Gourmet Gift Baskets

Napa Valley Gourmet Red Wine Basket by California Delicious

Napa Valley Gourmet Red Wine Basket by California Delicious

*I was provided with a wine basket from California Delicious in exchange for an honest review. There may be affiliate links in this post. Should you click on one and make a purchase, you will be supporting this blog and I will receive monetary compensation. All opinions are my own.*

Recently, I was approached and asked whether I would be interested in writing a review on the wine and baskets produced at California Delicious. I chose to try the Napa Valley Red Wine Gourmet Gift Basket. When it arrived, I was very pleased with the packaging. As you can see to the right, it’s very aesthetically pleasing, and nicely arranged. The picture really doesn’t do it justice. There were little decorative grape bunches in the basket (I have plans for those), and the bow was really festive. It makes a really nice impression right from the get-go.

Upon opening the basket, we found two bottles of wine (a Pinot Noir and a Zinfandel), cheese spread, pretzels, spicy honey mustard, bruschetta, and Ghirardelli chocolates. We decided that we would try the wines with meals that followed snacking on the other items.

Now, it’s important to note, we do not generally eat processed foods in our house (in fact, I’ve even been on a candy-making kick after donating some homemade candy to our church bazaar recently.) We tried the cheese and bruchetta and the pretzels and hot sweet mustard. They are about what you would expect from a gift basket – the real highlight was the collection of Ghirardelli squares.

The wines were both decently good. The 2012 Regalo Valley Ranch Artist Series Pinot Noir had a musty and aromatic nose. We paired it with my spaghetti (1lb ground beef, 2 pounds tomatoes, 1 onion, 5-6 garlic cloves, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, a splash of red wine, and basil added at the end). It paired nicely, and it was an easy-drinking wine. It was very versatile as a light red wine. The flavor was light, very cherry. It was on the fruitier end of Pinot Noir wines, and it had a vanilla and berry finish. You could also pick up balsamic notes with a little bit of pepper. It’s a great wine for those who don’t drink a lot of wine or who don’t like heavy wines.

The Regalo Valley Ranch 2011 Artist Series Zinfandel was a light Zin. It was all grapes and berries, it was smoother and had more of a coffee flavor than some of the big cigar box Zins we’ve liked in the past. It had notes of vanilla and hazelnut as well as cinnamon and nutmeg. It was easy drinking, with very little heat on the back end. We paired it with a simple steak with a bleu cheese crust and baked potato, and it paired well that way.

The basket would make a very lovely gift for a friend or family member with a special event or celebration. The mild wines make it a nice gift for those who aren’t necessarily “wine aficionados,” but they have just enough complexity to appeal to those who are. The snacks are fun, and the chocolate – who doesn’t like chocolate?

California Delicious has a lot of different gourmet gift baskets that range in pricing. Some of the other baskets of interest include:

Champagne Gift Basket

The Giant All-Star Gift Basket ($59.99) – Do you know someone who is still celebrating the San Francisco Giants’ recent World Series win? This is the perfect gift basket for them.  It includes Giants-themed peanuts and Giants-labeled Mumm Sparkling Brut.

Noah's Ark Newborn Baby Gift Basket

Mickey Mouse Basket of Baby Boy SurprisesMinnie Mouse Basket of Baby Girl Surprisesand Noah’s Ark Baby Gift Basket (all $99.99 each) – These adorable baskets make great little gifts for the new arrival among your friends or family members. I have to say, they are pretty awesome. I’m loving the little stuffed animals in the Noah’s Ark basket.

Olive Oil and Fig Balsamic Gift Set

For Thanksgiving, if you can’t be with family or friends, you can let them know you are thinking of them. The Olive Oil and Fig Balsamic ($29.99) gift set would be a nice gesture for the gourmet in your life. The Classic Chardonnay Wine and Cheeseboard ($39.99) includes a gift the recipient can keep using (I didn’t mention this before, but I kept the basket – it makes a nice place to keep fruits from our CSA available for snacking). I also think the Fall Pumpkin Spice Serenity Spa ($59.99) is a great idea. How many people do you know love the PSL?

In all, I enjoy gift baskets. I received one when I graduated from my Master’s degree program many years ago, and I savored every moment.  It stood out as a gift for years, because it was pretty, I got to try some new products, and it felt like I was being spoiled.

Wine Selections by the Owner

English: A photograph of a bottle of an Israel...

:  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All of the wines tasted at this time were selected by one of the owners of Creekside Cellars.  While the wine store is no longer in business, the wines reviewed here are still available at a variety of places.  The tasting occurred on March 30, 2013.

Scharffenburger Brute Rose Sparkling Anderson Valley, Mendocino County ($25) This sparkling wine received a star and exclamation point from Wining Husband and I. It was citrus-y, light and smooth. It was a bit sweet, but not overly sweet. We enjoyed it pretty well.

Duckhorn 2011 Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley ($29) We gave a  star to this wine. It was a pretty good Sauvignon Blanc. It was smoky, and had lots of citrus to it. It was very dry. It would pair well with a strawberry avocado salad or one of the pear and walnut salads that are out there.

Conundrum 2011 White Blend, California ($24) We gave this wine a star, though when you read that we thought the nose had aromas of Tidy Cat mixed with Cascade, you may wonder why. On the tasting, it was round. It was fresh, sweet, and citrus-y, and decently good.

Levendi 2009 “Red Hen” Chardonnay Napa Valley ($29) We also liked this wine pretty well, giving it a star. It was sweet and buttery with a hint of spice. It was your basic Chardonnay with a vanilla finish.

Waterbrook 2010 Sangiovese Rosé Columbia Valley ($13) Yeah, we didn’t like this one. I’m not going to share the notes that we wrote down. Suffice it to say, neither Wining Husband nor I were fans.

Guarachi 2010 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast ($60) Yeah, we didn’t like this one either. It received 93 points from Wine Spectator. Either our palates were off and we were missing something or it was just one of those wines that doesn’t mix well with our chemistries. Our notes say “rubber mallet & sweat sock, smells like a foot.” I think that about sums that one up. (As a full disclaimer, I’m not entirely sure this effect wasn’t brought on by the wine that immediately preceded it in the tasting).

Shannon Ridge 2008 Wrangler Red Lake County ($15) We weren’t much fans of this one either. We gave it a “no.” It had a wet dog quality on the nose. On the taste it was light fruit & rubber with a bit of cigar. It was okay, but it just didn’t work for us.

Clos de L’Oratoire 2010 Chateauneuf~du~Pape France ($45) We enjoyed this wine, giving it a star. It was tobacco and dry spice with a medium body. It was a versatile wine, and would pair very nicely with Wining Husband’s recipe for Chicken Valencia.

William Harrison 2007 Cabernet Franc Rutherford, Napa Valley ($44) This wine was a winner. We gave it a star and one and a half exclamation points. It was sweet and buttery with a cigar box and tobacco finish. It was rather lovely.

Murphy Goode 2000 “Brenda Block” Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley, Sonoma ($63) This wine was the winner of the lot. We gave it a star and two exclamation points. It was sweet, with butter and spice goodness. It behaves and tastes like a 2-3 year old wine instead of a 13 year old wine. It didn’t need a pairing; it was great on its own.

Have you tried any of these wines? What were your thoughts on them?


Tasting Notes: A Collection of California Wine and Cheese

English: Goat's milk cheese

English: Goat’s milk cheese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*These notes are from a tasting in March, 2013 at Creekside Cellars. While Creekside Cellars is no longer open, these wines can be found at a variety of places. I have a stack of tasting notes I will be sharing over the coming weeks from tastings held at this wonderful venue.*

The theme of this tasting group was “California wine and cheese,” and all the wines and cheeses collected were products of California. One of the things I will miss most about the weekly tastings offered at Creekside Cellars was the care that the owners up into pairing their weekly cheese plate with the offerings of wine for that week. While I don’t normally mention cheeses on here, I’ll give a brief overview of the cheeses that were featured during this tasting.

St. Pat – This cheese from Cowgirl Creamery in Petaluma was delicious. It was mellow, soft, and filled with flavor. It was wrapped with nettle leaves, giving it a delicious smoky, artichoke flavor.

Green Chile Chevre – This cheese came from Redwood Hill Dairy in Sebastopol. The cheese was a light and delicious goat cheese with green chilies mixed into it. I’m a huge chevre fan, so naturally I liked this as well.

Seascape – This cheese came from Central Coast Creamery in Paso Robles. It’s a mixture of cow and goat milk, cheddar like and aged for 5 months.

Mezzo Secco – From Vella Cheese in Sonoma, this cheese was a medium dry jack coated with black pepper. It was served with Blue Chair’s Organic Greengage Plum Jam.

Finally on the plate was Framani Picante Salami. It wasn’t a cheese, but it came from Berkeley. It was a dry chorizo seasoned with pimenton de la Vera. It was very delicious.

Okay, now that your mouth is watering, it’s time to get down to business and discuss the wines.

Rack & Riddle – Sparkling Blanc de Blancs Sonoma ($23) – This sparkling was very good. We gave it a star. On the nose, there wer hints of apples, walnuts, and pears. On the palate, it was all apple, peach, and green grapes. It had a Perond-like taste afterwards. It paired well with the seascape cheese and the plum jam.

Brander “La Mesa” 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Rita in Santa Barbara County ($18) – This wine was good when paired with cheese. It was floral and sweet, yet dry. It went well with the St. Pat, Chevre, and Seascape.

J Vineyards 2009 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley ($26) – We didn’t have this wine during this tasting, but in the past we’d enjoyed it.

Naggiar 2011 Viognier, Sierra Foothills ($11) – This was smoke yet dry. It had spice that appeared with the Mezzo Secco, and it had hints of ancho and Anaheim peppers. We gave this wine a star.

ampelos 2011 Rose of Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County ($18) – This wine was very nice and versatile. We gave this wine a star and exclamation mark, meaning we really enjoyed it. It tasted of barbecued watermelon, was tangy and smoky, and it had a subtle spice. It would be great with BBQ chicken or even my husband’s delicious artichoke heart pasta.

Talley Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande Valley ($36) – This wine also earned a star and an exclamation point from us. It smelled of red fruit and licorice. There was a bit of “wet dog” on the nose which disappeared when swirled. There was also a hint of funky cheese on the nose. On the taste, it was smooth, with an understated spice. It was an excellent pairing with the Mezzo Secco cheese.

Pruett 2010 “CSP” Syrah, Sierra Foothills ($23) – This was another star and exclamation point wine. It tasted of plums, dark fruit, and cloves. It was sweet, especially with the olives. It was excellent with the chorizo.

Frank Family Vineyards 2010 Zinfandel, Napa Valley ($39) – We did not try this wine because we’d had it in the past and enjoyed it very much.

Neyers 2011 Sage Canyon Red” 45% Carignan, 25% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, and 15% Syrah, North Coast ($39) This wine was stinky on the nose. It was like a wet dog. It had a dry heat and was tannic. It went well with the chorizo.

Ladera 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($39) – This wine had butter and olive oil on the nose. It had notes of red fruit, olive oil, and butter with a slightly watery taste. It went well with the chorizo; the sausage brought out the heat, tannins, and spice in the wine.

Have you tried any of these wines? What were your thoughts on them? There were a few from this list that we’d like to cellar.


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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Helpful Tips For Choosing The Best Napa Valley White Wine

English: A 2005 Napa Valley Chardonnay from Ro...

English: A 2005 Napa Valley Chardonnay from Robert Mondavi Winery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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.


When it comes to Napa Valley wines in general, there isn’t a high likelihood of selecting a bad wine. With quality soils, climate, and wineries, Napa Valley regularly produces some of the world’s finest wines. With Napa Valley as your location of choice, you can be confident of getting good quality wines.


There might be, however, some choices that might work better under different situations. White wines, for example, tend to be more conducive to certain meals than red wines. Even in the case of white wines, however, the decision can seem slightly overwhelming.


Whether you are selecting wines for yourself, or for a special group of people, here are some tips to help you choose the right Napa Valley white wine.


Setting The Mood


With their elegance and glamorous quality, particular wines can have a distinct effect, adding to the mood in nearly any event. As you consider which white wines to serve at a specific event, it can be a very good idea to have some sort of an atmosphere in mind. What type of a mood would you like to create?


If your goal is to create a sophisticated atmosphere of elegance or grace, Chardonnay may be a good option. Commonly noted as the most popular of white wines, Chardonnay can greatly enhance an elegant occasion. With crowd-pleasing flavors ranging from nutty to tropical, Chardonnay can be the perfect addition to any wedding party or stylish dinner. If Chardonnay is your choice, make sure to serve it chilled, but not too cold. Before serving, you may want to pull the bottle out of the refrigerator for a few minutes to let it warm up a bit.


If you are looking for something slightly more exciting, perhaps for a big party, you may want to consider providing multiple types of Napa Valley white wines. You may even want to consider using wine-tasting as part of your event. Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris can be great options for these types of events.


As you consider the desired mood for your particular special event, you can be well prepared to find the perfect wines to serve.


Planning Wine For A Specific Meal


Another major factor to help in your selection is the type of meal you will be serving. While some Napa Valley white wines may be versatile enough to go well with a variety of meals, there are some that go best with particular dishes.  When there is a specific menu in mind for an event, it may be a good idea to plan your wines to match.


When your meal contains lots of spicy foods or smoked meats, you may want to consider serving Gewürztraminer. This can be a delicious choice, providing a spicy enhancement to your meal. Riesling, which may be either light or medium bodied, may also be a good choice to add to your spicy dishes.


For light meals, containing dishes like chicken or salad, Pinot Blanc or Chenin Blanc may be a great choice.


Confidence In Your Choice


When surrounded by the people you care about, you can have a quality experience no matter which white wines you choose. Don’t be too stressed out about having the perfect choice every time. As you grow in experience, you will become more confident in your selection of wines. With Napa Valley white wines, any choice is a good choice.


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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Celebrate! September is California Wine Month

Big Sur, California

Big Sur, California (Photo credit: the_tahoe_guy)


This week’s tasting at Creekside Cellars was in honor of California Wine Month, and all wines were from California vineyards. As always, there were some real stars of the show and there were a couple of wines that were fine, but would have specific uses (for example, as an end of summer wine). Here are our thoughts on the eight wines we tasted.


2011 Honig Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley ($17) – We have had this wine before, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a decent wine. It had notes of honeydew and a sweet nose. It had hints of clove-like spices and it was light and summery.


2011 Pine Ridge 79% Chenin Blanc and 21% Viognier, Clarksburg, California ($17) – this is a nice end of summer wine. It is a heavier and rounder wine than the Honig. It had more of a cantaloupe bouquet than a honeydew melon bouquet. Overall, it was pretty good.


2010 Sextant Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands ($30) – This wine had almost a paint thinner nose – but in a good way (oh, come on, admit it sometimes there is something alluring about the smell of paint thinner!). It had notes of walnut and oak, and it was quite smokey. It would be a lovely wine to accompany Wining Husband’s feta-green pepper bagel dish.


glass & bottle of Syrah rose

glass & bottle of Syrah rose (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


2011 Ampelos Rosé of Syrah, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara($18) – This was a pretty good rosé that held up well to both cream and sweet cheeses and fruits. The wine was smokey and spicy. It was a nice, easy-drinking wine.


2009 Leveroni “Seven Oaks Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Sonoma ($20) – This wine was peppery, tannic, and yet smooth. It had notes of cloves, nutmeg and plums. It would pair very well with teriyaki steak.


2010 Morgan “Cotes du Crow’s” 55% Syrah, 45% Grenache, Monterey County ($18) – This was a nice wine, but it would be interesting to see whether it would open up over time. It was light and had a grape-like flavor (think Welch’s Grape Juice). It was perhaps a little two smooth and needs more spice. I’d be interested in trying it after it was decanted to see what happened.


2009 Three Saints Syrah, Santa Rita, Santa Inez, and Santa Maria, Santa Barbara ($18) – This wine was tannic and had a bit of a rubber note to it (but not in a way that detracted from the quality of the wine. It had a lot of spice – both in the form of paprika and cloves. It also had hints of semi-sweet chocolate.


2008 Carol Shelton “Karma” Zinfandel, Sonoma County ($33) – This wine had notes of hazelnut, vanilla, and coffee. It was a cigar box and had a lot of spice. This was a wine we enjoyed very much.


2010 Educated Guess “Hypothesis” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($40) – This was our favorite wine of the tasting. It was smooth and spicy with notes of brown sugar, maple, espresso, and chocolate. This wine would be absolutely lovely with filet mignon with an olive tapinade.



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To Zin or Not to Zin? There is No Question!

Zinfandel Grapes


This week’s wine tasting at Creekside Cellars featured a selection of Zinfandel wines. It’s always fun to do comparisons of wines, since each has its own unique qualities that it brings to the table. Here’s a list of the wines that we tried.


NV Codorniu Cava, Spain ($10) – This wine was sparkling and had a citrus and wheat bouquet to it.


2010 Ventana Pinot Gris, Monterey 2010 ($12) – This was pretty good. It was floral and sweet with an almond flavor. It would pair well with a pear and candied walnut salad I make.


2010 Talbott Logan “Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Chardonnay,” Santa Lucia Highlands, ($20) – This wine was filled with notes of butter and spice. It also had hints of dry mustard when paired with the Red Dragon cheese.


2011 Doe Mill Vineyards Dry Rosé of Zinfandel, Sierra Foothills (Butte County) ($16) – This wine had a cheesy, almost sweaty gym sock nose. On the tasting, it had notes of watermelon, being similar to a Jolly Rancher.


2010 Sextant “Wheelhouse” Zinfandel, Paso Robles ($20) – This wine was quite good. It was both light and spicy and had lots of tannin. It also had notes of cashews and berries.


Laurel Glen 'Terra Rosa' Malbec, Mendoza Argen...

Laurel Glen wine (Photo credit: Renée S.)


2009 Laurel Glen “Za Zin” Old Vine Zin, Lodi ($19) – We did not care much for this wine. It reminded us too much of a “barn” wine that we had at Purple Wine Bar and Cafe some months ago. It was sweet and almost like Play-Dough. It did have notes of allspice, chocolate, cream, and cloves.


2009 Green & Red Vineyards Chiles Canyon Zinfandel, Napa Valley ($24) – This wine was pretty good. It went with everything on the cheese plate, and it had ink and paint on the nose, but became tannic on the swirl. It was buttery.


2009 Joel Gott “Dillian Ranch” Zinfandel, Amador ($27) – This wine was also quite good. It had flavors of vanilla and berry, but at the same time there was a lot of spice and tannin to balance the wine.


2009 Rock Wall “Julie’s Vineyard” Zinfandel, Sonoma ($23) – This wine was outstanding. It had notes of dark chocolate and raspberries. While it was richer than some of the other wines, it was also easy drinking and a bit spicy. It would pair wonderfully with the smothered pork chops I shared with you the other night.


2009 JC Cellars “Sweetwater Springs Vineyard” Zinfandel, Russian River Valley ($43) – This wine was also amazing. It had a french roast coffee nose, and it was filled with spices and allspice. If you’re looking for a wine for a special occasion, this is your wine.



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Taste the Gold!

A glass of sauvignon blanc wine from unknown o...

A glass of sauvignon blanc wine from unknown origin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


This week’s tasting at Creekside Cellars focused on Gold and Double Gold winners from the 2012 California State Fair. We tried all 10 wines this week, and there wasn’t one that we thought was bad out of the lot.


NV Korbel Brut Rosé, California ($14) – We’re not big champagne or sparkling wine drinkers, so it is difficult to be partial when writing about sparkling wine. This one was pretty good as a champagne, and if we were looking for something for a New Years Eve toast, we might consider it.


2011 Estancia Sauvignon Blanc, Pinnacles Ranches, Monterrey County ($17) – This was very nice. The nose was filled with the bouquet of Douglas Fir Trees. The wine had notes of apricots and pluot. It wasn’t too filled with citrus. It also was much warmer than most sauvignon blancs. This is one of those wines you want to try if you’re not sure you enjoy the traditional Sauvignon Blanc that has a lot of citrus in it.


2011 Brassfield Estate Winery “Serenity” White Wine, Blend of Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewurztraminer, High Valley, California ($17) – This wine had notes of Granny Smith or Fuji apples, and strawberries. This wine was very approachable and easy drinking. It would be a great wine to serve at a book club night.


2010 Landmark Vineyards “Overlook” Chardonnay, Sonoma County ($30) – This wine was big and buttery but still light with hints of cloves. It would go very well with an Easter ham, and it is an outstanding choice for those looking for a chardonnay. It was a lovely balance of cream and oak, without being over the top like many of the California chardonnays are.


2010 Forefront (by Pine Ridge) Pinot Noir ($23) – This wine would pair well with anything, and was definitely a wonderful choice for the menu. It had a balance between fruit and tobacco, as well as paprika. It was phenomenal with the salami that was served on the cheese plate.


2010 Red Rock Winery Winemakers’ Blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah, California ($13) – I was surprised to find out the price of some of the wines on the list this week, and this one was no exception. It was fruity and had notes of blackberries, creme de casis, dark fruit, and sun dried tomatoes. It would pair well with a bold marinara sauce.


Sonoma County Grapes

Sonoma County Grapes (Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn)


2009 Vino Noceto “Dos Oakies” Sangiovese, Shenandoah Valley, California ($30) – This wine was just beautiful. It had notes of almonds, vanilla, and raspberries. The wine had a heavy, full body and was quite creamy. It would pair well with pizza and would be phenomenal with Mexican food.

2008 Carol Shelton “Karma” Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley ($33) This wine had roses, coffee, and milk chocolate on the nose. It was creamy and had notes of red fruit and black pepper. It was a very good wine, and would cellar very well.

2009 Doe Mill Vineyards Smokey Ridge Red Blend of Zinfandel Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Sierra Foothills, California ($24) – This wine was absolutely amazing, and was the star of the night’s tastings. It would pair perfectly with  filet mignon. It was absolutely amazing and rich and bold.

2009 Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley This wine was full bodied, creamy, and had notes of dark chocolate and espresso It would be lovely paired with creme brulee.



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