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A Not To Miss Tasting In Sonoma? Balletto!!!

They hadn’t been on my list. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of them before! A staff member at Gloria Ferrer (who’s become a friend because I visit so often!) told me about her favorite rosé in the world. She told me that she just couldn’t get enough of it! So … I had to check them out!

Balletto Vineyards is a family owned winery located in the Russian River Valley AVA in Sonoma County. Started as a successful vegetable farming company, in 1999 they started the shift from vegetable farming to vineyards. Today they sell 90% of their grapes to other wineries, using the other 10% producing their lovely Balletto Vineyard wines!

So, the day after visiting Gloria Ferrer last month, my husband and I stopped by Balletto for a tasting. I couldn’t wait to try their rosé! This pretty pink wine (made of 100% Pinot Noir) has strawberry, a touch of rose and lively acidity to balance it perfectly. I can see why my friend finds it difficult to not finish the bottle in one sitting!

Rosé, however, is not all they do at Balletto! I also made sure to buy a couple bottles of their lovely (not too oaky) 2014 Sexton Hill Vineyard Chardonnay. They also make some rockin’ Pinot Noir (we bought some Burnside that tasted like Strawberry Twizzlers!), Syrah and Zin! A super nice bonus is that their prices are very fair!!!

Looking back I’m surprised and disappointed that I hadn’t heard of them before, but boy oh boy I’m thankful that I know them now! I also want to spread the word about their really nice wines and great tasting experience!

Don’t only PUT them on your list … bump them to the TOP of your list!

http://www.ballettovineyards.com

 

Tis the Season for SYRAH!

Merry Christmas to me … so I opened a bottle of my favorite varietal tonight! SYRAH!!!! I do believe that I picked a nice one!

Sol Rouge (red soil in French) is a winery located in the Red Hill Lake County appellation, which was designated in 2004. Their seventy- acre estate contains rich red volcanic soil. That would explain the name chosen for Bryan and Jill Kane’s winery!

I wasn’t familiar with Sol Rouge until this bottle, but I’m thankful that I stumbled across it. Located in California’s Lake County (north of Napa County), the winery produces wines using varietals from France’s Rhone Valley and Bordeaux. It also uses a lot of France’s viticulture principals; letting the high elevation vineyards do much of the work.

The ruby red 2011 Sol Rouge Syrah has aromas of raspberry and violet. With flavors of black raspberry, black current, and some black pepper, it is very well balanced with smooth, yet structured, tannins. Sol Rouge has created a very enjoyable wine, and I will seek out more of this and their other wines.

They have a conveniently located tasting room on famed Treasure Island in San Francisco for those who can’t get up to Lake County.

To learn more about Sol Rouge and their wines, check out there website here: http://www.solrouge.com

Looking for a GREAT Napa Syrah???

Oh boy! I opened a bottle of wine last night that I absolutely love!

A few weeks ago a friend brought over a Bedrock Wine Co. Cabernet Sauvignon and I really enjoyed it. I liked it so much that when I found some Bedrock Syrah for sale I bought a couple of bottles. If only I’d known … I should have grabbed a couple of cases!

Bedrock’s 2012 Hudson Vineyard Syrah is fabulous! The fruit comes from the T and S blocks of the famous Hudson Ranch, which lies in Napa Valley’s Carneros AVA. The purple colored wine has a wonderful nose of smoky meat, violets and ripe red fruit. On the palate are blackberry, cassis, black cherry and licorice. I get some tobacco too! The finish is long with a hint of black olive. There is definitely a lot going on in this complex wine!

While drinking this gem I kept thinking of how it reminds me a lot of a wine from the Northern Rhone.  Well no wonder. After doing some research on the wine I realized that a smidgen of Viognier is added to the Syrah, just as they do in the Northern Rhone’s Côte-Rôtie region.

Considering I’m a huge lover of Rhone Valley wines, it’s not surprising that I’m such a fan of this Napa Syrah. Now I just need to figure out where I can buy some more!

To check out more information on Bedrock Wine Co. and their other wines, click here:  http://bedrockwineco.com

This Wine is “Fergalicious”!

I’m having a “ME” night tonight. The hubby is off working and I’m on my own with a good book and a hopefully good bottle of wine. So I went into our cellar and pulled out a bottle of 2011 Ferguson Crest “Fergalicious”, knowing only that it’s a blend of 56% Syrah, 25% Merlot, 13% Grenache and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m a huge lover of Syrah (in case you didn’t already know that) and the price wasn’t outrageous (I feel guilty opening an expensive bottle with my husband off working), so I grabbed this bottle thinking that it was the perfect wine for the night.

I popped and poured it without decanting … and actually really liked it right off the bat! I’m used to Syrah from the Rhone Valley, which this is NOT! Well, of course it’s not! This is only 56% Syrah, and it’s from the Santa Ynez region of California’s Central Coast AVA. The “Fergalious” is an interesting blend of Rhone varietals with Bordeaux varietals. It’s a lush, full-bodied wine with lots of dark fruit, violets and some spice on the nose. On the palate are the ripe dark fruit, mocha, olives and sweet tannins.

Holy crap! After reading up a bit on this wine, I realized that it’s a family-owned boutique winery established by Pat Ferguson (whose passion for years has been growing many different types of fruits) and his daughter Stacy Duhmel. In case you don’t know, that’s THE Fergie! Yes, THAT Fergie, the vocalist from Black Eyed Peas. I had no idea that she has a wine!!!!

I want to try to find a few more of these, hold on to them, and see how they taste after a few years in the bottle. I can’t help but think that they’ll get even better than they already are. I also look forward to trying some of Ferguson Crest’s other wines!

Meanwhile, I’ll be sure to save the other half of this bottle for my husband to try tomorrow night! It’s right up his alley, AND he thinks that Fergie is hot!

If you want to learn more about Ferguson Crest, check out their website here:  http://www.fergusoncrest.com

Old World Style in the New World!

If you follow my blog, you know that I love to travel! And when I travel, it’s usually to a wine region somewhere in the world! Well last week my husband and I hit California’s Central Coast AVA. We visited a few different areas, but today I’m going to tell you about three wineries from Santa Barbara County that really stood out to me!

First up was Whitcraft, located in Santa Barbara! Fresh off the airplane, this was our first stop. I’ve always wanted to taste here and was very excited.  I wasn’t disappointed! Sadly, Chris Whitcraft (who started making wine as a hobby and turned it into an award winning winery) passed last year. Happily, his very talented son Drake is now in charge of the winemaking and operations of Whitcraft Winery. He also happened to be pouring in the tasting room that day!

We had a wonderful tasting here, perhaps my favorite of the entire trip!!! Whitcraft’s Chardonnay is powerful with fruit, and has notes of earth and minerals. The Pinot Noir and Syrah are lovely “Old World” representatives that make me very happy! I can tell that Drake cares about the fruit! The wines are not overdone; he lets them speak for themselves. I bought three of his Pinots and one of his Chards. Believe me, if I lived in the area I’d buy his wines by the truckload!

Oh, and by the way, Whitcraft has a very cute Wine Dog named Terra!

Another winery that definitely stood out was Transcendence! I’m a very picky Pinot Noir drinker (see above). I admit it! Most “New World” Pinots just don’t rock my boat. Transcendence, on the other hand … WOW! 

Once again we were fortunate to taste with owner/winemaker Joey Gummere in their Lompoc tasting room. His Pinot Noirs are (in my opinion) being made the way Pinot Noir is supposed to be made! There is some earthy funkiness behind the fruit, along with lovely floral notes. He also does some nice Chardonnay and some rockin’ Rhone blends. In fact, I’m drinking a bottle of his 2012 Parea (50% Syrah, 29% Mourvèdre and 21% Grenache) as I write this! I bought a bunch, and he gave me a nice deal on shipping.

Last (but not least!) was Liquid Farm. Located in Buellton, this winery focuses on Chardonnay. I love the name (their goal is to promote that what happens above and below the ground produces the liquid in the bottle) and I also love the wine.

Anna set us up with a tasting with the Assistant Winemaker Tanner and his playful Wine Dog Button. We tasted through 5 different Chardonnays, and there wasn’t a dud in the group! My personal favorites were the 2013 Golden Slope, named for the famous Côte-d’Or of Burgundy France and the 2013 Bien Bien, which had a wonderful finish and reminded me of a Chassagne-Montrachet! I’m a sucker for Chassagne-Montrachet, so you can imagine how much I loved this wine!

Again, wish I could have bought a heck of a lot more, but thankful that I can order online!

As you can imagine, this was a great start to a very rewarding wine excursion.  I look forward to sharing more in future blogs!

If you’re interested in visiting any of these wonderful wineries, or are simply curious to check out more about them, here are links:

http://www.whitcraftwinery.com/Home.html

http://transcendwines.com

http://www.liquidfarm.com

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