Uncorked Ventures Blog

Mark Aselstine
 
February 11, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

The World of Pinot Noir Tasting Feb 28-March 1 2014 Santa Barbara, CA

When it comes to the world of Pinot Noir and perhaps wine tasting events anywhere in California, it's hard to beat the World of Pinot Noir Tasting event every year.  This year, the event stretches its legs into a larger venue in Santa Barbara, itself one of the most idyllic spots in the world to taste some wine.

14th Annual World of Pinot Noir
February 28 thru March 1, 2014
Bacara Resort and Spa
8301 Hollister Ave
Goleta, CA 93117

The World of Pinot Noir is worth a look on a number of levels, but for those in Los Angeles especially, this is almost a no-brainer given Santa Barbara is only about an hour to an hour and a half north of downtown Los Angeles and where else are you going to be able to taste the best Pinot Noir from California, Oreogn, Burgundy, New Zealand and elsewhere under one roof?

I'll also note, the Bacara is among the most beautiful hotels in the world and don't be confused about the Goleta address....that's just a smaller city that makes up the northern suburbs of Santa Barbara and contains UCSB.

Written by Mark Aselstine.

Mark Aselstine
 
February 6, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

Wine Folly

Earlier today, we made an addition to our blogroll, so we wanted to take a moment to introduce Wine Folly.  It’s worth a read for a number of reasons, but I can sum it up pretty quickly-Wine Folly is not only the best looking wine blog out there, but it’s also the one that serves as an aspirational example of what’s possible, while being approachable at the same time.

Owned by Madeline Puckette Wine Folly does at least one thing that I absolutely love and that I wish I could do a better job in this space.  Namely the informational wine charts from Wine Folly are the best in the business (she sells them, typically under $20) and are the only examples I can think of, that would fit in well in high end cellars, man caves and offices anywhere in the world. I’d add living room’s, but my wife has to draw the line somewhere.

I’ll let you browse Wine Folly’s impressive blog for great examples, but there are three posts I can’t help but comment on.  Recently they wrote about cork vs screwcaps and while I agree with the premise, the end conclusion is really, really astute from someone who doesn’t actually sell wine.  The most pressing issue facing the wine industry is that it costs so damn much to ship wine.  I realize that cork is becoming something of a major topic of conversation, but my customers are still paying $14 on average to have 2 bottles of wine shipped to them.  If direct to consumer sales are going to continue rising 10%+ per year going forward, it’s a major issue.  Of course, not being charged an additional $5 per shipment for an adult signature would certainly help with the costs associated Fedex! Also, the note that having the wine industry continue being as environmentally efficient as possible is important moving forward.  No matter where you fall on global warming and water rights (let’s be honest, the science of both is settled), I think it is fair to say that the wine industry is going to be adversely affected more so than other industries by any degradation in the overall climate so taking a more central role in helping to control global warming and waste is something the industry should be thinking about doing.  Rising temperatures, I know for a fact, are a topic of conversation among Napa winemakers.

Another two entries that I found especially interesting and insightful was their map of Italian wine regions and a similar post about Sonoma wine.  Look, summing up Italian wine in a couple of thousand words is impossible, I think the Italians like it that way though and let’s be clear, I love Italy.  Breaking down the regions to the types of grapes typically sold with a couple of quick sentences as a guide is really helpful.  Sonoma is set up much the same way and I think, the map of Sonoma wine shows exactly why people are first drawn to Napa Valley-it’s simpler to understand Napa Valley wine than it is Sonoma wine.  That being said, one addition which I’d think would interest Wine Folly’s readers, would be a short additional section highlighting a winery or two in each region to try if you were so inclined.  Maybe I focus a bit too much on the profiles of individual wineries in this space, but I’d love to hear Madeline’s take on certain winemakers and wineries that she’s come across.

I hope you’ll take the time to check out Wine Folly.  From both a quality and frequency perspective, it truly is one of the best and most engaging wine blogs you’re likely to find anywhere.

Written by Mark Aselstine

Mark Aselstine
 
January 28, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

Kismet-Papa’s All Blacks Old Vine

About Kismet and All Black’s: The Kismet project is a recent addition to the Sonoma wine scene, founded by Morgan Peterson whose father Joel, started and still owns Ravenswood.  A wine like this wouldn’t be possible without those long standing grower and vintner relationships.  The All Blacks (as you’ll also see in Parker’s tasting notes below) is a nod to winemaking in the 19th century in California.  While many people realize that Zinfandel is basically a California native, they don’t realize that other grape vines like Petite Sirah and Carignane also grew wild in the foothills as long ago as the time when the first settlers came to California looking for their fortunes in the Gold Rush. In fact, that diversity was always considered a good thing as vintners (or more realistically anyone who wanted a cheap drink and was smart enough to pick the grapes and then throw them in a bin to ferment) could simply harvest all the grapes in their field and allow them to ferment together.  The beauty was that every vineyard would produce a different blend and showed some unique characteristics.  We’ve heard from the Napa Valley Historical Society that some of these blends did carry some additional value and the wine could be traded for other necessities. We thought our Reserve Selections members would enjoy this wine, partially because yes, it’s good, but also because it conjurs an interesting and unique time in the history of both California and the United States.  All the grapes in your glass were grown from vines that were planted before Prohibition, in some cases well before.

Tasting Notes: 90pts Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: The 2011 Papa’s All-Blacks Old Vine is a field blend of assorted red grapes that pays tribute to the growers who planted some of  California’s most historic vineyard sites back in the late 1800s. Sweet floral notes meld into dark red fruit, asphalt, sweet spices and licorice as the 2011 opens up in the glass. Juicy and seductive, the 2011 is an excellent choice for drinking over the next few years.

Old Vine Heritage Sites: In California, we typically think of an old vine heritage site as only containing Zinfandel, since that grape can grow for hundreds of years on the same vine. The Monte Rosso Vineyard is a great example of a mixed black vineyard in that the owners aren’t even sure exactly what’s in most of their 40 acres-it’s a mix of Zin, Petite and Carignane among others.  There is also a section of old Cabernet vines which helps to make this Sonoma property among the defining vineyards in the state of California.
 

 

Time Posted: Jan 28, 2014 at 10:40 AM
Mark Aselstine
 
January 25, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

Easton Wines H House Red

About Easton Wines: A standout among Sierra Nevada Foothills growers for well over a generation, Bill Easton is among the only growers in the region willing to take chances and produce wines that don’t encompass Zinfandel (the grape, which to this day, still will spring up wild among the hillsides).  Splitting the winery between Rhone varietals and non Rhones helped Easton to keep things easy for wine sellers and has helped the winery grow in ways that a decade ago, no one thought was possible in the foothills.  I will note that Easton put his name on the part of the winery that crafts the non Rhone varietals and calls this his wife’s favorite wine, so I’ll let you have a guess at the quality. With multiple wines during almost every vintage rated at 90 points and above Easton and its sister label (Tierre Rouge) deserves a look when you’re ready to branch out from the uncountable number of choices available in Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Barbara and Paso Robles.
 

H House Red Tasting Notes: A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah which originally came to the forefront of the wine industry from Languedoc France (virtually the only region of the country where new blends are legally possible) the Easton H House Red aims to be an easy drinking, easy choice for a wine any day of the week. I believe you’ll note the standard California Cabernet in play here, solid structure but not overly dramatic in a way that destroys everything around it (like many complain about South American wine) also you’ll note the zesty and spicy flavors that are reminiscent of Syrah very much at the forefront as you get through the bottle.
 

About Sierra Foothills Wine: When it comes to California wine, there isn’t an older growing region than the Sierra Foothills.  When settlers first came looking for their fortunes in the gold covered hills of the Sierra Nevada, they found wild vines growing along their route from San Francisco into the foothills.  Those vines encompassed Zinfandel to be sure, but also Petite Sirah and at least three other grapes.

 

Mark Aselstine
 
January 23, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

Le Jade-Picpoul de Pinet

Picpoul de PinetHow’d We Get Here? Ok, so yes, it’s French.  I know, we typically feature only wines from America’s West Coast.  Every so often, we end up having a few discussions and even sampling some international wine, tough job we realize.  On even slimmer occasions, some of that wine, we think is important enough to include for our wine club members (if this is a major issue, just email us, we’ll send you a replacement, but we hope you’ll trust us and try this bottle once it is chilled). 

First, this is a Picpoul.  We think that’s important not only because it’s a great alternative to Chardonnay and especially Sauvignon Blanc, but also because it is one of the few grapes catching on in newer regions of France. 

The French, as you might expect, have some of the most strict wine growing and winemaking laws in the world.  You couldn’t grow this grape in Bordeaux, Burgundy or Champagne. Luckily for people who want affordable French wine, the Languedoc has avoided this type of labeling and rules thus far, allowing some vintners to actually experiment.  Think of Sonoma without Pinot Noir, or California wine without Paso Robles to see examples of why we think, as Californians at least, that experimentation can be helpful to the long term health of the wine industry.

Secondly, both the setup of the winery association and the region itself are important.  The Languedoc sits in the southwest corner of the country, along both the Mediterranean as well as the Spanish border.  It’s home to much of the innovation in French wine, but is also the only growing region to actively grow every grape type from Cabernet Sauvignon to Syrah and Chardonnay. The winery itself isn’t a winery as much, as a cooperative of growers.  It’s a unique set up for Americans to consider because the grapes and vineyards are under a sort of community control, but it’s an important one to recognize because it is both adept at creating a standard style of wine from vintage to vintage, but is also being copied by American growers and vintners in areas like Mendocino and Temecula among others in California.

Tasting Notes by Mark Aselstine: Plenty of grapefruit, citrus and honey.  Lighter bodied, crisp and low alcohol make this a nice wine when chilled and served with seafood, chicken or salads. A staple in our house as opposed to Sauvignon Blanc, my wife and I find this a refreshing alternative to other wines.