Uncorked Ventures Blog

Mark Aselstine
February 13, 2013 | Mark Aselstine

Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Vineyard 2010

About Keefer Ranch: We’ve been told privately by a few winemakers that this Keefer Ranch selection might turn into the next cult Pinot Noir, then the San Francisco Chronicle ran the story, Keefer has been growing grapes for close to three decades now and wineries which buy from them is a virtual whose who in Sonoma Pinot Noir: Kosta-Browne, AP Vin, Freeman, Siduri and Failla among others, making this an intriguing choice.  It’s also incredibly rare that a vineyard would sell their best fruit.  At 309 cases with a wine that is truly family made, vineyard owner Marcy Keefer continues to oversee the vineyard while her son Craig handled winemaking duties, this is a wine that we’re proud to feature based on not only the vineyard designation, but also the ability to showcase a wine which may well be a household name within a few vintages.


Tasting Notes by the PrinceofPinot:  The nose blossoms over time offering lovely scents of black cherries, nutmeg, cut flowers, and underbrush. A little darker and more intense than the 2007 offering, but remains a feminine style with pleasing delicate dark red cherry fruit, gossamer tannins, an alluring silkiness, with an intense cherry flavored finish. Beautifully balanced. Not offering all it is capable of now, this wine deserves further cellaring for at least a year

Time Posted: Feb 13, 2013 at 10:42 AM
Mark Aselstine
February 12, 2013 | Mark Aselstine

Rustridge Racehorse Red: Chiles, Napa Valley 2008

As part of our Wine Exploration Wine Club:

Rustridge Racehorse Red: Chiles, Napa Valley 2008: Tasting Notes: Full bodied as you’d expect from a Zinfandel and Cabernet blend, especially from a cooler climate region of Napa Valley.  Hints of cherry and currants.  We take away a hint or more of spice on the finish as well as a slinky texture-making it a nice pairing with not only steak but a large group of grilled meats including Mexican and Greek food as well.

About Rustridge & Why We Thought This Was Interesting: When we first heard about a winery that focused on both raising race horses and making wine, we admittedly were skeptical. However, when we started to hear more about the estate and how the vines were planted in the early 1970’s, but the winery wasn’t created for another 13 years, we became more interested.  Since the estate is both organic and dry farmed, we thought it might be interesting for our consumers-but we weren’t sold until we found out that Kent Rosenblum has been their consulting winemaker for a generation.  He’s certainly built, a legacy, reputation and brand on making quality and affordable zinfandel-so these Zin/Cabernet blends seemed like a better and better shot.  Plus, it’s virtually impossible to find Rosenblum’s hand on a production level this small, only about 1k cases in total are produced. This is a wine which will remind you of the best of Napa, just not at the usual price.

So here's a small addition-we thought this was an interesting wine, partially because it carried many of the characteristic flavor profiles, smells and senses that come with traditional Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  Of course, you don't find many Napa Valley Cabernet's at a $20 price point.

Time Posted: Feb 12, 2013 at 8:57 AM
Mark Aselstine
February 11, 2013 | Mark Aselstine

Kinero Cellars 2011 Brouhaha

As part of our Wine Exploration Wine Club:

About Anthony Yount and Kinero.  Anthony is starting to feel like an old friend in the wine industry and certainly among the first appointments I would make as a consumer when I traveled to Paso Robles.

This wine is labeled and sold under our old friend Anthony Yount’s Kinero Cellars brand, but is actually a joint project with another young winemaker, Amy Butler of Ranchero Cellars.  The wine is a Pinot Gris, but they don’t label it as such because they make it in a Vinho Verde style.  That’s winemaker speak for being as light and fresh of a white wine as you can find anywhere and can even remind some consumers of a sparkling wine at times. Vinho Verde is an area in Portugal that kept lighter styled red wines in the country afloat for about a hundred years before consumers tastes started to evolve again.  Given Paso Robles (where these two winemakers are located) helped to save the Rhone varietals in California-making a wine from this area of Portugal is their way to pay homage to another wine region willing to take chances. Lastly, we can’t help but say congrats to Anthony-he was featured as one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s top 5 winemakers to watch in 2013!

Oh, you'll probably see something from Miss Butler in the next few months as well.

Tasting Notes: Much more Oregon in style than Paso-which shows the winemaking technique at play.  A strong prototypical Pinot Gris nose of green fruit settles into a comfortable acidity.  We enjoyed it with a summer salad on a warmer than normal Saturday evening. If you have friends who only tend to drink Chardonnay, this is a nice entry into other white wine’s and it won’t scare them off with bracing acidity or a flavor profile which is completely unfamiliar.

Time Posted: Feb 11, 2013 at 1:44 PM
Mark Aselstine
January 31, 2013 | Mark Aselstine

Regulations, Regulations, Regulations

So the UK is basically proposing that wine clubs and retailers no longer will be able to offer discounts if you buy more than one bottle.  The government will also create an artificial floor in pricing, that no retailer can undercut.

These are bad ideas across the board.

We understand that city governments, state governments and federal governments all over the world are experiencing severe budget issues.  My wife works at a high school, so we hear about the budget and the affects of the budget on what seems to be a weekly basis.

We also understand the want and need of governments to raise revenue through higher taxes.  Without a doubt, it’s a tough job right now with no easy answers.

I don’t think excessive regulation is the way to do it though.  First, there simply isn’t much revenue being created by the sale of $2 Chuck.  Sure things in the UK are a bit different, but I’m sure there are various states here that have considered some of these same steps.

If I could lend a fairly simple idea-let everyone compete for business.  One thing everyone has learned over time, consumers love a good deal.  What happens after consumers drink a bunch of $2 wine is interesting, if their budget allows they eventually start buying $10 wine.  Later in life, they’re ordering single vineyard Pinot Noir from folks like us (only like us after all since we don’t exactly ship to the UK).

What I’d hate to see happen are states and federal governments impose these excessive regulatory laws and cut out a generation of wine buyers from being able to start tasting wines and finding out what they like.  Frankly there isn’t any reason given the level of money we’re talking about, versus the need.  As a retailer, we’d much rather see a simple raising of sales taxes while allowing us to continue to compete for consumer’s business.

Time Posted: Jan 31, 2013 at 3:55 PM
Mark Aselstine
January 28, 2013 | Mark Aselstine

Sonoma Tries to Simplify

Does that really make sense to anyone?  I ask because Sonoma is trying to simplyfy its AVA system, in large part because even winemakers in the region struggle to explain exactly what is consistent in terms of the current setup of Sonoma County etc.

Generally I still think this is too darn complicated.  Part of the success of Napa Valley's marketing is in its simplicity.  When you buy a Napa Valley wine, in large part you know what you're getting.  Sonoma is too big and too varied for that, but having smaller AVA's inside others still, like the Fort Ross Seaview inside of the Sonoma Coast AVA-doesn't make a ton of sense from a marketing perspective.

I think it's a shame for one big reason: Sonoma continues to make world class wines at a fair price and has both the production levels and facilities to allow startup and new wineries to emerge and they do on a yearly basis.  I wish they could make it easier on the average consumer to not only access those wines, but to understand exactly what they're likely to be getting.

Time Posted: Jan 28, 2013 at 10:02 AM