Tag Archives: California

Vintners Reception

What to Taste at the 2017 High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction

Top winemakers and wineries from California and beyond will be in Atlanta March 22nd through 25th for the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction. Celebrating its 25th year, the auction has raised more than $26 million for the High Museum.

Earlier: High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction Returns for 25th Edition

Whether it’s your first High Museum Wine Auction or you’re a regular, here are the wines you won’t want to miss at Saturday’s Vintners’ Reception. Bonus if you love Pinot Noir.

Au Bon Climat

Jim Clendenen at the 2016 wine auction
Jim Clendenen at the 2016 wine auction

Owner and winemaker Jim Clendenen is one of this year’s guests of honor. It is well deserved – beyond making delicious wines, Jim is a familiar face at the wine auction and always has entertaining stories. In addition to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Jim brings fun and unique wines for guests to sample. Au Bon Climat is based in Santa Barbara County, in California’s Central Coast.
aubonclimat.com

Kosta Browne

Co-founders Michael Browne and Dan Kosta round out this year’s guests of honor. If you’re a fan of Pinot Noir you’ve no doubt enjoyed one from Kosta Browne. If you haven’t tasted these wines from Sonoma, you must make them one of your first stops.
kostabrowne.com

Single vineyard Pinot Noir at Bernardus Winery's tasting room
Single vineyard Pinot Noir at Bernardus Winery’s tasting room

Bernardus Winery

Start with the Sauvignon Blanc from this Carmel Valley, California winery and you won’t be disappointed. Bernardus was founded by Bernardus “Ben” Pon, who is from the Netherlands (you’ll notice orange in the logo). Marinus, a Bordeaux-style blend, is a must-taste. Bernardus also makes single vineyard Pinot Noirs that when sipped side-by-side offer a glimpse at the different terroir. After the wine auction you’ll want to plan a trip to the tasting room in Carmel Valley Village.
bernardus.com

Big Basin wine

Big Basin Vineyards

In the charming town of Saratoga, on the edge of Silicon Valley, is where I first discovered Big Basin Vineyards. Their small and unassuming tasting room doesn’t prepare you for the big and bold flavors of their red wine – Pinot Noir, Syrah and Rhone blends. Big Basin’s vineyards are located in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Wine auction guests got their first taste of Big Basin at last year’s event; this year owner and winemaker Bradley Brown will be offering tastes of current releases. Big Basin also makes Chardonnay and white wines from Rhone grapes. I’m a big fan of their Roussanne.
bigbasinvineyards.com

Continuum Estate's vineyards on Prichard Hill
Continuum Estate’s vineyards on Prichard Hill

Continuum Estate

Continuum made a big splash at the wine auction in 2014, when father and daughter Tim and Carissa Mondavi were guests of honor. Continuum’s vineyards are located on Pritchard Hill on the east side of Napa Valley, a stunning location if you have the chance to visit. Each year Continuum produces one wine, made from the estate’s best grapes, that truly captures a sense of place and the characteristics of that vintage. More recently they introduced Novicium, a second wine made primarily with grapes from younger vines. Continuum is a prized wine that all aficionados should have in their cellar.
continuumestate.com

Domaine Della

Domaine Della

A favorite discovery from last year’s wine auction, Domaine Della returns for its second year. Owner and winemaker David Hejl named the winery for his mother, who as he will tell you, was a truly remarkable woman. David’s experience crafting high quality Pinot Noir shows in each bottle of his wine. It’s hard to pick a favorite between his Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. Be sure to join Domaine Della’s list for a chance to buy wine during the spring and fall releases.
domainedella.com

Lando Wines

Sam and Jennifer Lando at the 2016 wine auction
Sam & Jennifer Lando at the 2016 wine auction

Sam Lando is the kind of guy who you want to have a beer – or in this case, glass of wine with. Besides being engaging and entertaining, Sam is extremely knowledgeable about Pinot Noir, having worked with Kosta Browne winery. He’s another wine auction regular, and his table is always a popular spot. Lando makes flavorful and balanced Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations.
landowines.com

Patel wines

Patel Winery

If full-bodied Napa Cabernet is your favorite, you must seek out Raj Patel of Patel Winery. As I wrote in 2015, “when Robert Parker awards your first wine a 95, you know you’ve made something special.” Patel wines are lush, layered and elegant, thanks to having access to some of the best grapes and the expertise of Luc Morlet, one of Napa’s top winemakers. Last year Raj debuted a Malbec, a deliciously spicy wine. This year he’ll be offering tastes of his 2014 Napa Valley Malbec, Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon and Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon.
patelwinery.com

Winderlea Pinot Noir

Winderlea Vineyard and Winery

You could spend the entire Vintners’ Reception enjoying California Pinot Noir but be sure not to miss these Oregon Pinots. The name Winderlea evokes images of the breeze gently blowing through the vineyards in the Willamette Valley. Founders Bill Sweat and Donna Morris made their wine auction debut last year, offering tastes of their Chardonnay and single vineyard Pinot Noirs. I can’t wait to taste what they’ll have this year.
winderlea.com

Of course, you can’t go wrong with Champagne. This year Champagne Billecart-Salmon will be offering tastes of its bubbly. I’d suggest starting there, then moving on to the wineries featured above.

The Vintners’ Reception at the 25th annual High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction will be held on Saturday, March 25th at 11 a.m., followed by the Live Auction. Located under the tents at the Green Lot at Turner Field.
atlanta-wineauction.org

Click to see earlier articles on the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction

Federalist Dueling Pistols

AG Pick: The Federalist Dueling Pistols 2014

How does a Syrah, Zinfandel, red blend from the West Coast
Taste when you raise it for a toast?

I’ve had the hit musical Hamilton on the brain for months and I couldn’t help but think about the opening number when I was pouring a glass of The Federalist Dueling Pistols.

The name of the wine was inspired by the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. The 2014 vintage is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Zinfandel from the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma.

Federalist Dueling PistolsDueling Pistols is the latest wine from The Federalist, a series of wines that honor America’s Founding Fathers and their ideals.

It’s a great concept for a California red wine blend. Zinfandel, a proudly American grape (and definitely the Hamilton in this duel), faces off with Syrah, a grape that can be on its own or in blends, but is typically blended with Rhone varieties including Grenache and Mourvedre.

The Syrah and Zinfandel grapes for Dueling Pistols were separately fermented. After blending, the wine spent 15 months in 20% new American and Hungarian oak barrels. American oak was used to add sweeter notes, Hungarian to add spice.

Fortunately for us, this duel has a happy outcome – a rich and robust wine that’s enjoyable to drink.

Dark purple in color as you would expect with these two grapes, The Federalist Dueling Pistols has spicy berry and smoky aromas. The taste is bold with flavors of black cherry, ripe plum and blackberry rounded out with black pepper, root beer and a touch of smoked meat. Smooth tannins and good acidity give the wine a supple mouthfeel.

Pair the Federalist Dueling Pistols with roasted chicken or turkey, or red meat. Fittingly, it’s perfect at an all-American barbecue.

The only duel you might find yourself in is fighting over the last sip.

A bottle of The Federalist 2014 Dueling Pistols costs $29.

The Federalist wines are produced by Terlato Wines. Dueling Pistols is not associated with Hamilton: An American Musical.

14.5% alcohol

Smith & Hook red blend

AG Pick: Smith & Hook 2013 Proprietary Red Blend

It’s chilly, gray and drizzling where I am. It’s the kind of weather that makes me want to close my laptop, light a fire, and get cozy on the couch with a good book and glass of red wine.

The wine I’d want to be sipping is the Smith & Hook 2013 Proprietary Red Blend from California’s Central Coast. Rich with intense dark fruit and smoke notes, it’s the wine equivalent of a warm blanket on a cold winter day.

Smith & Hook Proprietary Red BlendThe wine is a blend of 47% Merlot, 35% Malbec, 10% Petite Sirah and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards in Paso Robles, Arroyo Seco, San Antonio Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands. It was aged for 26 months in French oak, 60% of which was new.

2013 is the first vintage of the Proprietary Red Blend. Smith & Hook, part of Hahn Family Wines, also produces a Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Proprietary Red Blend opens with aromas of dark red berries, smoked meat and toasted oak. The taste is full, lush and layered with dark red cherry, blackberry, plum, vanilla, baking spice, tobacco and leather. It’s velvety smooth in the mouth with well-integrated tannins. The finish is long and satisfying with lingering berry pie.

The wine is a great pairing for hearty winter dishes. Enjoy the Smith & Hook Proprietary Red Blend with beef tenderloin or stew, a savory risotto or braised lamb shank.

A bottle of the Smith & Hook 2013 Proprietary Red Blend costs $25.

14.5% alcohol

White Knight wine

AG Pick: The White Knight Viognier 2014

Looking for a new white wine to enjoy? The White Knight Viognier is coming to your rescue.

Medium to full bodied with just a hint of sweetness, this is the white wine to help you transition to the cooler months. It also happens to be a great pairing with fall flavors and seasonal ingredients.

White Knight ViognierThe 2014 White Knight Viognier comes from the Clarksburg appellation in northern California, near Sacramento. The Viognier is rounded out by the addition of French Colombard (9%) and Muscat (4%). The wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel to preserve the grapes’ fresh characteristics.

The wine is very aromatic, as you would expect with Viognier. Fruity and floral aromas introduce flavors of white peach, golden apple and honeysuckle, supported with gentle acidity. It’s round and soft in the mouth, with lingering subtle sweet fruit.

Pair the wine with roasted chicken or turkey, cream-based dishes and hearty pasta or vegetable dishes.

An added bonus is that The White Knight won’t run off with your wallet. A bottle of the 2014 Viognier costs $12.

The White Knight makes exclusively white wines. In addition to the Viognier there is a Prosecco, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. It is produced by 3 Badge Beverage Corporation out of Sonoma, California.

Click here for more information on The White Knight wines.

13.5% alcohol

Napa Valley sign

Five Favorite Local Wineries to Visit in Napa Valley

When you visit the capital of winemaking, deciding on which wineries to visit or even where to start can be difficult. With so many incredible, one-of-a-kind wines to try, you definitely don’t want to waste time looking around. To make it easier, try one (or all) of these favorite local wineries during your next visit to Napa Valley.

Schramsberg Vineyard

Schramsberg Vineyards is known as “America’s House of Sparkling Wines,” and provides not only an impeccable wine selection but also an important piece of history in winemaking. The caves at Schramsberg were dug in Diamond Mountain in the late 1800’s by Chinese laborers after the completion of the Transcontinental railroad and included two sets of cellar tunnels completed before the turn of the century. Later, another set of tunnels were added in the 1980’s, increasing the square footage of the already-impressive tunnel system to 34,000 square feet. Now, visitors get the opportunity to enjoy these picturesque caves and the wine that is perfectly developed in them.
schramsberg.com

Castello di Amorosa

When you pull up to Castello di Amorosa, you may start to question if you actually did book your vacation to Napa Valley, or mistakenly were brought to Tuscany. Well, appreciate the authenticity of Castello di Amorosa, constructed with true Medieval techniques and meticulously designed by owner and builder Dario Sattui with all of the characteristics of a real castle. That’s right, enjoy world-class wine in a castle with a moat and drawbridge, dungeon, and secret passageways. The Castello di Amorosa is so impressive and fun, even your children are welcome to join in for a grape-juice tasting and tour.
castellodiamorosa.com

Cliff Lede

If history isn’t really your thing or it’s time to switch it up a bit, visit Cliff Lede for a modern yet unique experience. Canadian-born Cliff Lede purchased the land in 2002 and was quick to make it his own. He named each of the 39 wine blocks after his favorite classic rock songs, giving them the nickname “rock blocks.” You can even book a “Backstage Pass” visit that gives you access to a variety of limited production wines to enjoy in a comfortable lounge that features rotating art exhibits, all while being serenaded with classic rock hits in the background. For a destination with fabulous wine, thought-provoking art exhibits, and the feel-good vibes of classic rock, Cliff Lede is a must.
cliffledevineyards.com

Failla

A visit to Failla may very well be a bucket list item for true wine enthusiasts. Failla (pronounced Fay-la) Wines is home to winemaker Ehren Jordan, one of Napa’s most esteemed winemakers. This intimate winery allows its visitors to taste some of the most popular, sought-after wines on the market, and you may even find yourself picking Jordan’s brain himself as he hangs out with his guests in the courtyard. The 15,000 square foot caves also impress, and booking a cave tour is a favorite among many guests.
faillawines.com

Robert Mondavi Winery

The renowned and respected Robert Mondavi opened his winery in Oakville in 1966, and the rest is history. He succeeded in producing some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the entire world. His vision included a combination of classic winemaking techniques combined with new technology as it emerged, all while honoring the origin of the wines. Mondavi considered winemaking an art, which also inspired the decision to host several famous artists for a summer concert series held on the lawn of the winery.
robertmondaviwinery.com

Visit these five wineries on your next visit to Napa Valley, and don’t forget to stay in comfort at a luxury resort, and taste in style to make your trip unforgettable.

Content provided by Solage Calistoga, a luxury resort and spa in the Napa Valley. For more information visit solagecalistoga.com.

Vinogram: Bottle Jack Winery

For more information on Bottle Jack Wines from Santa Cruz, California visit bottlejackwines.com.

Vinogram: Loma Prieta Winery

Loma Prieta Winery not only has gorgeous views of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay, it is also the largest producer of Pinotage in North America.

For more information visit lomaprietawinery.com.

Vinogram: Anaba Pinot Noir 2013

For more information visit anabawines.com.

AG Pick: Barrymore Pinot Grigio 2013

Imagine if the bright, upbeat and fun personality of Drew Barrymore could be bottled in a white wine. What you’d get is the 2013 Barrymore Pinot Grigio.

Barrymore Pinot GrigioThe wine is a partnership between Barrymore Wines, founded by the actress and wine enthusiast, and Carmel Road Winery. The grapes are grown in Monterey, California, a cool, coastal region influenced by the Pacific Ocean.

Ideal growing conditions and stainless steel fermentation helped produce a wine that expresses the Pinot Grigio grape in its pure form. Citrus aromas introduce flavors of Meyer lemon, ripe white grapefruit, Asian pear and honeydew. The finish is crisp and refreshing, with lingering wet stone minerality.

The Barrymore Pinot Grigio pairs with a variety of food, from salads and sandwiches to light pasta and fish dishes. Drew recommends sharing it with friends and family as you make memories around the table.

The 2013 Pinot Grigio is the first Barrymore by Carmel Road wine. Additional varietals will be coming out this year.

For more information visit www.BarrymoreWines.com or www.CarmelRoad.com.

$14.99, 13.5% alcohol

Patel wines

Patel: Small Winery with Big Taste

When Robert Parker awards your first wine a 95, you know you’ve made something special.

But don’t let that number bias you toward Patel Winery. It’s more of a treat if you taste the Napa wines without any preconceived notions. That’s how I came to meet owner Raj Patel, at last year’s High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction. His wines – a Cabernet Sauvignon and the Red Wine, a Bordeaux-style blend – were among my favorite discoveries at the event. When I found out that Raj was returning for this year’s auction, I couldn’t wait to meet with him and taste his current releases.

Patel winesRaj founded Patel Winery in 2006. He secured fruit and a custom crush facility in 2007, and made some wine in 2008. In 2009 he joined the Napa Valley Vintners Association and submitted his Cabernet for review with Robert Parker. More recently he brought on Luc Morlet, one of Napa’s top winemakers. Patel Winery sources its grapes from six vineyards and makes the wine at Luc’s winery.

I could go on for several paragraphs about how the Patel wines are intense yet elegant, with layers of fruit and earth notes that end in a long finish. But here’s all you need to know: Patel wines are really really good.

Over breakfast the morning of the 2015 High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction, Raj and I spoke about Patel Winery, what makes the wines unique and what’s next. Continue reading