Archived entries for Zinfandel

What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been: A Conversation with David Ready Jr.

It’s rare you sit down with an individual that saw 175 Grateful Dead concerts, went on tour with them and lived to tell the tale.  Then you find out he’s an esteemed winemaker for Murphy Goode, a newly converted runner (lost 50 pounds since he started), believes in giving back to the community to bring his dad’s legacy to life and is just an all-around cool person. 

David Ready started his career in winemaking in 1985 when his dad strongly suggested getting a job would be a good idea.  He grew up in Minnesota, played in rock band for a time and is a huge Vikings fan.  He worked harvests in Australia and Sonoma.  David moved back to California approximately 20 years ago and it’s been home since.  He worked his way up from cellar master to assistant winemaker and then served as the winemaker for Zinfandel in 1997.  Today he supervises 18 wines.  

David came through town last month to talk about his Homefront Red release, which raised 300K for Operation Homefront, a 501c (3) organization developed to support the families of deployed service members immediately following 9/11.  The organization provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors.  And the cool thing is that the distributors and sales people for the winery have chipped in to support the effort as well.

Ready wanted to do this to honor his father who passed away during the fall of 2010.  He pondered what it meant to “do good” with the current owners of the winery.  His father served in Vietnam and his family has a long history of military service.  In his words, “Everyone knows someone who has served.  These kids go off in search of a better life, service our country, get hurt and then they and their families suffer.  No family should ever be left behind.”

He makes wines that he wants to drink and wants to match them with different foods and settings.  “I love a big cab, but not every day,” he said.  We tried a few and I want to continue to drink them too.  Clearly he has found his calling and you can tell he’s passionate about food, wine and socializing. We tried the following:

  • Murphy Goode The Fume Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – citrus, tropical fruit and melon.  A really nice $14 poolside or Texas patio wine.
  • Murphy Goode Dealer’s Choice Alexander Valley Cabernet 2010 – blackberry, herbs, bay leaves and thyme.  A very well balanced and drinkable wine that could age well or be opened today. 
  • Murphy Goode All In Claret Alexander Valley 2011 – a blend of Alexander Valley merlot, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot is full of dark cherry, blackberry, herbs and raspberries.  It was a really great blend.
  • Murphy Goode Liar’s Dice Zinfandel 2010 – raspberry, Asian spice, black cherry with balance.  This wine called for BBQ but didn’t need it to be appreciated.

California, French and Italian Quarterly Wine Update

I had fallen behind on the work #ThirstyThursday events so it was imperative that I grab some co-workers and taste some wines.  This time, we had 14 wines from California, France and Italy.  I’m featuring the nine that made the list which did not, for the record, include the wine marketed to the “inner diva” in me.  If that what my inner diva looks like, I would say that she should stay bottled up.

White Value Wines


2012 Jekel Vineyard Riesling – notes of white peaches, apricot and citrus.  I fell in love with this wine last Summer.  It still is great, but something about drinking it on a cold January day vs. pool or porch-side was different. It made me yearn for warm weather.

2012 Bonterra Chardonnay – tropical fruit, almonds, lemon with a touch of oak, but had balance.  A nice chardonnay for those who don’t like chardonnays.


Bolla Prosecco NV – always a totally quaffable sparkler with notes of green apple and toast.  Drink with OJ or without.

Red Value Wines


2012 Artesa Pinot Noir – strawberry, black cherry, oak with floral notes.  Hands down, this was one of the top wines tasted.

2011 Bonterra Zinfandel – was what a zinfandel should be – smoky, spicy and big.

2012 Five Rivers Pinot Noir – smoky, dark cherry, earth and good balance. 


2012 Domaine Constant-Duquesnoy Vinsobres — a classic Rhone blend with notes of cherry, spice, herbs, earth and flowers.  This was one of my new value favorites that I will be looking to buy at my first opportunity.


2010 Bolla Creso Rosso Verona – lots of fruit, cassis, spice and leather.  A good Tuesday night pizza or pasta wine.

Red Date Night (with someone you like a lot)

2012 J Vineyards Misterra Pinot Noir ($50) – a new J Vineyards wine combining Pinot Noir, Pinotage and Pinot Meunier was earthy with notes of herbs, flowers and fig.  I really enjoyed the unique taste and blend of this offering.

Holiday Wine Round Up

It’s a new year and time for a new wine round up of those sampled over the holidays.  This time I tried 18 wines in the $10 to $125 range from California, Chile, Italy and Spain.  Half of them made my list, which excluded some high priced samples:



NV Mionetto Brut Prosecco – the quintessential, easy to drink brunch wine.  Priced at $14, this sparkling wine had notes of green apple, pear, citrus and peach. 

2012 Rocca Sveva Soave Classico ($17) – I liked this wine, but I think it needs to be paired with Italian food.  I got lots of tropical fruit, melon, apple and floral notes. 


2012 Franco Espanolas Royal White Rioja ($10) – lots of lemon curd, citrus and green apple.  This was a nice aperitif wine that begged for shellfish.



2011 90+ Cellars Pinot Noir ($16) – a very drinkable wine with black cherry, strawberry, vanilla and earth.   This is a wine club that sources wines from around the world delivered at an “everyday wine” price point.

2010 Wolfgang Puck Red Wine Blend ($14.99) – when a master chef puts his name on a bottle of wine, you know it will be very food friendly.  You taste the berry in the Merlot, followed by the black fruit in the Cabernet, and then finish with the spice of the Zinfandel.  I’d pair this with beef tenderloin.


2009 Viña Concha y Toro Don Melchor ($125) – this lived up to its billing as Chile’s first ultra-premium wine.  Cassis, berry, tobacco and chocolate notes are showcased in this very well balanced special occasion wine.


2009 Franco Espanolas Rioja Bordon Crianza ($13) – a great value wine with notes of cherry, herb, wood, spice and chocolate. 

2007 Franco Espanolas Rioja Bordon Crianza ($15) – notes of cherry, rosemary, basil, and tomato plant – this made me crave a margarita pizza.

I’m also going to give a special shout out to one wine that blew me away from the Guarachi Family.  Guarachi, which was previously unknown to me, sources small parcel lots from top vineyards in Napa and Sonoma and makes Cabernet and Pinot Noir.  The winery was launched by Alex Guarachi, a native of Chile and importer of South American wines.  The winery just purchased Sun Chase Vineyard in Sonoma and if this wine is any indication of what is to come, I’m beyond excited.

2011 Guarachi Family Wines Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($65) – this was full of red berries, cherry, floral, earth and cherry cola.  I loved this wine.

Cornerstone Cellars, Elyse Winery & J Vineyards: Samples to Remember

When sample packages from Cornerstone Cellars, J Vineyards and Elyse Winery arrive in the mail, I’ve learned to stand up and take notice. 

I’ll lead with the still wines.  Both Cornerstone and Elyse are known for hand-crafted and boutique wines that express the terrior where they are produced.  I’ve found these to be balanced, delicious and get better and better every year.  The wines are all distinct and differ depending on where they are grown.  Winemaker Jeff Keene who talked about how his wines express their sense of place .

My notes on the wines were as follows:

  • The 2010 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon combines the grapes of three vineyards — Ink Grade on Howell Mountain, Oakville Station in the To Kalon district and Kairos in Oak Knoll.  Tons of blackberry, raspberry, dried herbs, chocolate and mocha.  I had the chance to try this in the spring and it only got better with age.
  • The 2010 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is from the Ink Grade Vineyard on Howell Mountain known for its white soils, which is unique.  This wine had tons of black fruit, spice, flowers, mocha and chocolate.  I loved every sip of this and it was beautiful.
  • The 2010 Stepping Stone Napa Valley Cabernet Franc was full of berries, herbs and the greenness that is indicative of cabernet franc.  It was balanced and delicious.

In the spring, I sat down with the Elyse Winery’s portfolio of wines at the winery.  The Elyse Morisoli Vineyard Zinfandel 2008 was impressive then, and the 2009 is impressive now.  I took this wine to a gathering with friends and it was definitely the favorite of the evening.  It was full of red berry, spice, earthiness, plum and coffee. 

And now onto J Vineyards & Winery bubblies.  I had the chance to meet Kathryn Lindstrom, chief operating officer, and Melissa Stackhouse, vice president of winemaking, when they made a trip to Dallas, also in the spring.  Melissa talked about the collaboration that happens with her wine making team of three where there is a focus on the integrity of the grapes and bringing the fruit into the glass.  She views her team’s role as “allowing the wines to find their own happy place” and interfering minimally. 

I tried the J Cuvee 20 Brut which we opened at the turning point of the Auburn game when it became clear we were going to the Championship game.  I tasted almonds, citrus, pear and freshly baked bread.  With our victory solidified and as I made my plane reservations to Pasadena, we turned to the J Brut Rose NV, which was full of luscious strawberry, brioche, raspberry and notes of floral.  Both of these wines stood up to a national championship celebration!  War Eagle!

Scotto Wines: Fifty Years of Family and New Eye Toward Legacy Wines

When I was contacted by the “biggest winery that I’ve never heard of” last month, it peaked my interest.  I missed Anthony Scotto III, the CEO of Scotto wines, when he was in Dallas last month, so when the winery offered to have Bill Chenault, the national sales manager for Scotto pour the wines for me, I accepted.

Totally unrelated, but interesting. Bill spent some time in Atlanta, where I grew up, and sent his two daughters to Auburn University, where I received my undergraduate degree.  It was an unexpected bonus.

As someone with an Italian heritage, I loved hearing about another successful Italian American dream story. Salvatore Dominic Scotto started a winery in Ischia, Italy, in 1883.  In 1903, the family emigrated from Italy and settled in Brooklyn, NY.

They opened Scotto Liquors, one of the oldest liquor stores in the state of New York, which has since been sold, but is still in business.  The Scotto’s made wine in their home from whatever fruit they could source in Brooklyn and similar to the Gallo family, sold it door to door out of crocks from a horse drawn wagon.  In 1961, they bought a facility in Pleasanton, California, that they named Villa Armando, where they began making their own wine. They created Villa Armando Rustico, one of the oldest US wine brands.  I tried it and appreciated that this was the type of mass production wine that allowed them to build a family business with overall capacity of more than 300,000 cases annually.

They sold this facility in the 1980s and expanded the Scotto portfolio into Lodi and Napa.  Five generations later, they have expanded the scope of their wines to include more than 40 brands sold to customers around the world.  I was honored to try an unlabeled limited-edition, higher-end Napa wine from the Van Der Hayden Vineyard in honor of the Scotto’s family’s 50th California harvest that I thought was fantastic.  The 50 Harvests Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Napa Valley is a small production wine that will change your image from a mass producer of wine to a winery that takes winemaking to another level.  It’s a blend of 94 percent cabernet sauvignon and 6 percent petite verdot.  The Scotto children rightfully knew that while the value labels are important, this unlabeled bottle would be the one to put them on the map in the wine world.

I tried a few other wines that were made to be fruit forward, drinkable and enjoyed every day.  The first was Scotto Family Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel made with Lodi fruit.  This had a nice spice, lots of red and black fruit and notes of cedar.

The next was the NAPA by N.A.P.A Michael’s Red, the first Napa release from the Scotto family.  The name represents the five siblings: Natalie, Anthony, Paul, Anne (NAPA) and Michael who recently joined the winery. This is a very drinkable every day wine with dark fruit, oak and notes of chocolate and mocha.  Look for it at Cost Plus World Market stores, who pretty much took most of the inventory produced.

We ended with a Moscato wine that was semi-dry, honey-touched and the perfect aperitif to a great meal and conversation at Max’s Wine Dive.

Wente, Garnet and Renwood WTIS Virtual Tasting

Last week, I participated in a virtual tasting scheduled as the welcome reception for the Wine Technology Industry Symposium (WTIS) showcase.  WineTwits, who always does a wonderful job with these tastings, recruited Wente Vineyards, Garnet Vineyards and Renwood Winery to participate.  We had the chance to try one wine from each vineyard.

It was quite the reunion with some of my favorite wine bloggers in participation and quickly the conversation feed launched into some great memories of past Wine Blogger’s Conferences (#wbc) and other opportunities we’ve had to get together over the years.  But the tasting began and we had the chance to focus in on three value wines under $20.

  • 2012 Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay (Livermore Valley – $13) – I tasted almond, pear, apple, lemon and toasted oak in this creamy goodness.  Half of the wine is barrel fermented in neutral American, French and Hungarian Oak with the other half fermented in stainless steel.  A very nice, well balanced wine for this price point.
  • 2011 Garnet Vineyards Pinot Noir (Monterey, $14.99) – Quite the steal for a Pinot Noir under $15.  This wine had a complexity not usually found at this price point with black cherry, black tea, plum, pine, cranberry and baking spice.  I asked Allison Crowe, the winemaker, and it is not yet available in Texas – I am sure hoping that will change.
  • 2010 Renwood Winery Premier Old Vine Zinfandel (Amador, $19.99) – had notes of molasses, fig, blueberry, pepper, herb and vanilla.  It was a little hot for me, but definitely got rave reviews from many of the bloggers.  This one begged for food that I didn’t have to match.

If you happen to see any of these in the Dallas area, definitely pick up a bottle and give them a shot.

Sonoma In the City Does Dallas: Day Two

The Taste of Sonoma tour brought more than 100 Sonoma County wines ranging from Russian River Valley chardonnay and pinot noir to big Zin from Dry Creek Valley to rich cabernet sauvignon from Alexander Valley to the Mansion on Turtle Creek.

Yolanda Papapietro

While I did not try anywhere near 100 wines, I was able to find some standouts and see some old friends in the process.  What a surprise to see Yolanda Papapietro from Papapietro Perry pouring her wonderful pinots.  My friend, Jennifer, turned me on to these fabulous wines and I loved being able to try the 2010 line-up from the Leras Family Vineyards, Nunes Vineyards, Russian River Valley and the 777 Clones.  Other standouts included Bella, Sojourn, Davis Family, Flowers, Gary Farrell and White Oak Vineyards.

Me, Justin and Robert 

Then I was fortunate enough to run into Rodney Strong Associate Winemaker, Justin Seidenfeld, along with my friend, Robert Larsen, Rodney Strong marketing extraordinaire.  Justin took me through the line-up and talked about the history of Rodney Strong.  The winery was started over 50 years ago when Rod Strong, who originally had a career as a dancer in America, decided to pursue his wine making passion. Rodney Strong Winery was the thirteenth winery bonded in Sonoma County. The Klein family purchased the winery in 1989 and focused on making single vintage and reserve wines. After working at Iron Horse and Mondavi as a harvest enologist as well as with Constellation wines, Justin joined Rodney Strong in 2010. He told me that he wanted to take great wines and “brighten up” the wine making style.

We tried the following line up:

  • 2012 Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc, Charlotte’s Home – white stone fruit, pineapple, citrus and herb make this a very balanced white.
  • 2011 Rodney Strong Chardonnay, Chalk Hill – old world style with vanilla, citrus and hints of oak.
  • 2010 Rodney Strong Cabernet, Alexander Valley – dense and rich with big berry, plum with a great intensity.
  • 2010 Rodney Strong Symmetry contains all five Bordeaux varietals and the blend changes annually.  Big berry, spice, cassis make up this well balanced red that changes based on the vineyard’s strengths.
  • 2008 Rodney Strong Cabernet, Rockaway – full of raspberry, blackberry, terrior, spice and notes of vanilla.

Justin talked about his ten hour Rodney Strong interview that started out with Tom Klein, the winery owner.  After making it through the gauntlet, he walked into a room that included well-known winemaker David Ramey, where he was asked to create the final blend of Symmetry.  He rolled up his sleeves, took off his tie and blended his way to a new job.

The next day began with a lunch with the Sonoma County Trio of Vintners, Winegrowers and Tourism at Hotel Zaza Art House & Social Gallery.  The event, meant to showcase the diversity of Sonoma, began with a speed tasting concept.  Here is what I learned from sitting down with the representatives which included Guy Davis from Davis Vineyards, Christopher Barefoot from Flowers, Corey Beck from Francis Coppola and Clay Maurtison, from Maurtison Winery, who I had dinner with earlier in the week.

-          Sonoma County is the size of Rhode Island, five times the size of Napa Valley and has more than 60 miles of coastal land off the Pacific Ocean.

-          There are more than 200 different soil types.

-          There are 1,800 wine growers in Sonoma and many of them are multi-generational.

-          Today only 6 percent of the land planted is being utilized.

-          There are 100 wineries and 150 growers in Sonoma County.

-          The first winery was built in Sonoma.

I loved Tim Zahner’s, CMO of Sonoma County Tourism, quote about Sonoma.  “In other places they call it the localivore movement, in Sonoma, we call it eating.  Sonoma happens to be a place for farmers who happen to make great wine.”  I also heard great quotes about Sonoma being “Ag-land, not Disneyland,” a not so subtle snap at another well-known region about 90 minutes away.

Guy Davis

It was also a pleasure to have a chance to catch up with Guy Davis, winemaker and owner of Davis Vineyard, who has always been delightful in my past encounters.  He talked about Sonoma being a region if farmed correctly, Mother Nature takes over.  He planted his wines 17 years ago and has been organic since day one.   The man knows how to work his micro-climates in his Pinots from Soul Patch, Horseshoe Bend and Starr Ridge Vineyards.

Christopher Barefoot

The lunch was a family style affair where winemakers and the media sat together.  The event showcased great food, diversity of wines and great conversation.

My whirlwind experience ended with an event hosted by Amy Gross, a great wine blogger who writes Vinesleuth, who was hosting an event in conjunction with the Blissdom conference with Rodney Strong.  The event brought together some amazing women and we were divided into teams where we blended our own Symmetry wine.  Picture a miniature science lab where we measured, blended, sipped and debated our final blend.  Justin and Robert, graciously hosted the event and Justin judged the six blends.  While we didn’t win, our team, aptly named Cork Dork, had a great time and the conversation and tempo of the tasting was hilarious.

The Sonoma in the City event reaffirmed the diversity of soil and climate.  It’s a region focused on legacy, family, terrior and character.  And I clearly have a lot to learn.

Sonoma in the City Storms Through Dallas: A Glimpse at a Special Region (Part One)

Right on the heels of my Napa trip, the Sonoma in the City gang came to town with a week chockful of events that put a spotlight on the region.  These guys rolled out the carpet with a series of lunches, happy hours, tastings and dinners that demonstrated the diversity of the region by showcasing the grape growers, wine makers and tourism executives that believe Sonoma is the “real” wine country in California.

Melissa and Kathryn

My experience started with a meeting with two powerhouse women from J Vineyards & Winery, Kathryn Lindstrom, chief operating officer, and Melissa Stackhouse, vice president of winemaking, at Abacus Restaurant.  Since I had just stayed at Jordan Winery the week prior, I knew that Judy Jordan founded J Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg in 1986 with a concentration on J sparkling wines as well as J varietal wines including Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.  The grapes are grown using sustainable farming techniques and J is considered a “green winery” by the San Francisco Bay Area Green Business Program as well as a “sustainable winery” through the California Winegrowers Alliance.

Kathryn talked about her transition from the finance industry to luxury wine and how she made the decision at 45 to make a big change into an industry that she loved.  Melissa talked about the collaboration that happens in her wine making team of three with a focus on the integrity of the grapes and bringing the fruit into the glass.  She views her team’s role to “allow the wines to find their own happy place” and interfering minimally.

We tried several wines in our tasting line up:

-          2011 Pinot Gris – this was a refreshing and tropical wine that will be available in May of 2012.  It will be joining my collection.

-          2011 Pinot Noir – lots of black cherry, elegance, herb and black pepper.  Delicious.

-          2010 Nicole’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – this wine is named for Judy Jordan’s daughter and had notes of plum, licorice, cherry and vanilla.

-          2011 Pinot Meunier – notes of cassis, cherry, mocha and floral.  I love off the beaten path wines and this one did not disappoint.  This is made with the remainder of the Pinot Meunier that is not used in the sparkling wines.

-           NV Cuvee 20 Brut – hints of toast, yeastiness, apricot, citrus and nuttiness.  This was a great sparkling wine.

As a female executive in another industry, I love to meet women that have risen to the top and defied the odds in a male dominated space.  My hat is off to the ladies at J Vineyards who are doing the right thing by the grapes, the vineyard and the environment.

I left the J Vineyards event and heading to Charlie Palmer Restaurant for a dinner sponsored by Dry Creek Valley, which featured Tim Bell, winemaker for Dry Creek Vineyard, and Mauritson Wines owner/winemaker Clay Mauritson, and his brother, Cameron, who grows the grapes.

  Bill Smart, director of marketing for Dry Creek Vineyards, and Clay from Mauritson

Dry Creek is known for its Zinfandel, Bordeaux and Rhone-style wines and is located right outside of Healdsburg.  What was evident is that this is a place of family, with some vineyards dating back more than 100 years.

The Mauritson family has the longest history of any current grape growers in Rockpile, a cornerstone appellation of Sonoma County.  Clay Mauritson’s great-great-great-grandfather S.P. Hall, planted grapes in the Rockpile region in 1884, shipping his wine back to Sweden where his family lived.  Much of this original estate was taken by the Army Corps of Engineers in the early 1960s and is now Lake Sonoma.

Clay, a sixth-generation member of the family, is making wines again from Rockpile grapes, which are grown by his brother.  Rockpile is a very unique appellation located at the Northwest edge of Dry Creek Valley where two appellations overlap and the Healdsburg-Rogers Creek Fault, a dominant earthquake fault, runs through the middle of the horseshoe shaped base.  Picture steep slopes and rocky terrain above Lake Sonoma that are elevated between 800-2000 feet.

I also had the chance to talk to Tim Bell, the winemaker for Dry Creek Vineyards, which is a 40 year old grape grower and winemaking business.  Founder David Stare started the business with the goal of creating great wines at a reasonable price.  That vision hasn’t changed.   Tim, also worked at Freemark Abbey Winery, Bosché and Kunde Family Estate, where he became an expert in using different grape varieties and working in various climates.  When he was called to interview at Dry Creek, he had never traveled that far north.  But when he talked to Kim and Don Wallace, president and partner respectively, he realized he wanted to realize their vision for what the winery could be and knew he’d be entering a new level of collaboration he had never experienced.  Today, he continues in his quest to showcase the grapes and terrior in Dry Creek Vineyards wine.

Barely Cooked Scottish Salmon, Grilled Octopus, Lobster Corn Dog & Striped Bass Crudo

Roasted Duck Breast with Chipolte Glaze, Creamed Nettles, Compressed Persimmon

We had an amazing array of great food pairings created by Chef Michael Sindoni who matched with wines from Dry Creek and Mauritson as well as some other Sonoma producers.

Some of my personal favorites were:

-          2012 Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc – bursting with melon, tropical fruit and citrus with a minerality that made this a great food pairing wine.

-          2011 Mauritson Sauvignon Blanc – full of grapefruit and peach with a balanced minerality that was more austere in nature.  Another great food wine.

-          2009 Dry Creek Vineyard “The Mariner” – a meritage blend that had lots of black cherry fruit, herbs, blackberry, vanilla and mocha.

-          2010 Rockpile Winery Cabernet Sauvignon – Rockpile grows more cabernet sauvignon than any other regions and is full of concentrated fruit with notes of tobacco, blackberry, cassis and cedar.

-          2008 Forchini Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon –notes of chocolate, cherry, Asian spice and mocha.  This made the dry aged NY strip with bone marrow breadcrumbs sing!

-          2010 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel – this was one of my favorites with lots of black pepper, cherry, blackberry, herbs and floral notes.

-          2011 Mauritson Zinfandel – juicy raspberry, vanilla and notes of spice made this a very well balanced, almost feminine wine.

-          2007 Dry Creek Vineyard Soleil – apricot, honey, citrus and vanilla.  This was the quintessential dessert wine.  Delightful!

-          2010 Rockpile Winery Independence Red – a port like wine with big fruit, nutmeg and notes of tobacco.  Perfect match with the cheese plate served for dessert.

I asked about why Dry Creek Valley was doing this tour and it’s all about awareness.  Clay said, “when you are off the beaten path, you have to convince consumers that this is a destination point that is a little less Disneyland and a little more about the wine experience.  Even within Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley has 70 family owned and operated wineries.”

Tim added, “It’s all about a small production, hand crafted agricultural community with lots of pride, blood, sweat and tears to bring these great wines to the consumer.”

Elyse Winery: Sincerity and Sustainability

Even before I was lucky enough to get on the blogger sample list for Elyse Winery, I’ve been a long-time fan.  I like Elyse’s approach to sustainable wines, their no fuss approach at the winery and the people have always been knowledgeable, passionate and downright nice.  Rick Saunders was our host and we had a ball with him on the tour and trying the Elyse wine line up.

Rick and Molly

In 2012, Elyse celebrated its 25th harvest from its very first crush of 4.5 tons of Zinfandel when Ray and Nancy Coursen made 286 cases of their first wine.   In 1997, the current winery and vineyard was purchased on Hoffman Lane.

Their focus hasn’t changed – great wines prepared with artisan grown ingredients that pair well with food. Today the production is 10,000 cases with international distribution.  The two brands – Elyse and Jacob Franklin are named after their daughter and son.

We tried the following line-up:

  • Elyse Chardonnay 2010 – made in a classic Old World style with citrus, pear and vanilla.  A chardonnay for folks who don’t drink Chardonnay or who love old world style Chardonnays.
  • Jacob Franklin Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – only six barrels are made of this wine and it isn’t distributed outside of the winery.  Classic grapefruit, citrus and minerality.
  • Elyse Le Corbeau 2008 – a 90 percent Grenache and 10 percent Syrah blend.  It had floral notes of jasmine with raspberry and cassis.
  • Elyse Syrah 2008 – notes of Asian spice, mushrooms and berry with a spiciness that would make it a great Fall day wine.
  • Elyse Morisoli Vineyard Zinfandel 2008 – here’s the terrior wine that originally launched the entire Elyse portfolio.  Love this wine.
  • Elyse Black Sears Zinfandel 2008 – this was a big, big Zinfandel with nice berry fruit, but not a fruit bomb.  Lots of balance, pepper, spicy and juiciness.
  • Jacob Franklin Mon Chou (my sweetheart) 2007 – a nice blend in a Bordeaux style with notes of green pepper, cassis, berry and tobacco.
  • Elyse Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 – soft fruits, notes of perfume, floral and hints of oak and vanilla.
  • Jacob Franklin Chavez-Leeds Petite Syrah 2009 – blackberry, chocolate, mocha, spice and pepper.  This was one of my favorites.
  •  Elyse 2006 Port Cabernet Sauvignon – this port combined Viognier brandy with great cabernet.  It was another favorite and a perfect cheese/fruit/dessert match.

It was a fabulous end to a behind the scenes trip of good wine, great food and great people.


Celebrity Wines: The Good, the Bad and the Funny

Christy Lemire at the Oscars

Check out my column today in Culture Map Dallas where I interviewed Associated Press Movie Critic Christy Lemire to find out what she thought the persona of the wines would be based on the celebrity.  Then Jasper Russo, who runs the fine wine program for Sigel’s, and I tried the wines.

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