Other than Ken, who is on the Tasting Panel, and what are the panelists’ backgrounds? This is a question that has come up a few times recently, so I thought I would introduce and write about the panelists in this long-overdue post. As a little background, the Tasting Panel is made up of 19+ members. The members below are the regulars who attend most tastings. Other members might just attend a few tastings. For example the “Bubbleheads” come out for champagne. Some others only attend sweet Riesling and dessert wine night.
The panel meets 12 times per year. We cover 12-15 wines in each tasting and I (Ken) consolidate our notes and scores. Wine Reviews signed – KWGTP were reviewed by the Tasting Panel. Wine reviews signed by a name (i.e. Ken) were reviewed by an individual. A few members are assigned “homework” and review wines on their own throughout the month. These members are at the top of the list.
My name is Nicolay, but most people call me Nic. I have been working with Ken for more than 5 years, even though I have known him longer. In the KWG Tasting Panel I am the official “Chief Bubblehead.” You will find me at the champagne and sparkling wine events: I don’t believe I have missed one yet. On my off-time from the Panel, I moonlight as the Wine Director for Colonial Spirits of Acton. On average, I taste 50+ bottles of wine a week in the months January-October. Most of those wines are for retailing at our establishment, some tastings are for fun, i.e. the KWG Panel. The Panel allows me to take a break from constantly interrogating what I taste. On the Panel, I can enjoy what I taste and in a few words convey that enjoyment to those visiting the KWG site or reading the e-newsletter. Working in the KWG Tasting Panel also gives me access to the customer’s opinion of wine. When I’m not enjoying or sampling wine, you can find me sipping on a neat whisk(e)y or good beer.
I have been on the KWG Tasting Panel since its inception. One of my greatest enjoyments on the Panel is finding those “diamond-in-the-rough” wines that we score 90+ that remain in the $15- $30 price range! Continuing to search for that elusive 100-point bottle is a tough job, but someone has to do it! I enjoy both red and white wines and especially appreciate California Cabernet Sauvignons, Zinfandels, Finger Lakes Rieslings, Cabernet Francs, and Argentinian Malbecs. For my day job, I am a Web Store Implementation Specialist. Besides participating on the KWG Tasting Panel, my time is spent with my family, running, reading and volunteering.
Karen and Stuart Bodager
We have been on the Tasting Panel for about seven years. When not covering wines for KWG, Stuart works in IT and Karen works in banking. For fun, we enjoy trying wines on our own to better prepare for our evenings with the Tasting Panel! It is a lot of fun deciding which wines will pair best with certain foods and which wines will be most enjoyable for company. We love to entertain so that we can share wine and food (which Stuart loves to cook!) with friends.
What we like most about being on the Panel is having the opportunity to taste wines we might never have thought to try. We can expand our wine knowledge and develop our palates. Ken spoils us and we love it! We have learned so much from him and from the other members on the Panel. We always look forward to an educational, entertaining and delicious evening whenever the Panel meets.
I have been on the Tasting Panel since my son and Ken’s daughter were in the second grade together. So 5 years now! I love the opportunity to taste a far wider variety and number of wines than I would be able to try on my own. I learn so much! Plus, there’s High-end Reds night! By day, I am an IT Consultant working in the Financial Services industry. I also coach youth soccer teams in my spare time.
I have been on the KWG Tasting Panel since its inception ten years ago, but only as a white wine tasting panel member, as I have always preferred white wines. However, in the past two years or so I have started to develop a taste for red wines. I think this is partly due to the cold Boston winters. For me, when it is cold outside, sipping a delicious red wine served at cellar temperature is much more appealing than drinking a chilly white wine.
When I am not tasting wine, you can find me working on the KWG newsletter or signing for wine samples. I also enjoy photography, walking, and spending time with my five children. What I like best about being a Tasting Panel member is getting to try a variety of wines and comparing notes with other Tasting Panel members. I am always amazed how different Panel members can nail certain smells and tastes in the wine. I also find it so interesting to see how different people’s palates are. While I might love a wine, the person sitting next to me might not like it at all, and vice versa. People’s tastes in wine can be so varied.
I have been on the Panel for approximately three years. When I’m not attending a tasting, I am managing a wine, beer, and spirits department in the Broadway Marketplace in Cambridge, MA, and serving as the Beverage Director of BG Events and Catering in Brighton, MA. I have been in the wine, beer, and spirit industry for the last 36 years. My experience includes 31 years of retail store management/buying and 5 years of outside wine sales in both the San Francisco and Boston regions.
I enjoy participating in the KWG tastings for several reasons: The blind format is the best way to evaluate the wines honestly and it allows me to keep my palate sharp. Even though I taste thousands of wines through the course of my regular business days, I am able to discover wines at these tastings that I would have not been exposed to otherwise. But the biggest reward is the ability to taste wines among consumers and gain insight into how they perceive and judge wine. Ken uses a great system of focusing the participant’s evaluations and encouraging participation in the wine experience.
I have been on the KWG Tasting Panel for approximately nine years on the Panel. The thing I enjoy most about the Tasting Panel is the passion members share for describing wines in ways that others with different wine experience levels can relate to and appreciate. I’m a financial economist and wine tourist. I recently visited seven wineries in Tuscany and Piedmont and sampled nearly 80 wines from more than 35 producers.
I have been on the Tasting Panel since it’s inception. I’ve learned a lot about my own preferences and the characteristics I enjoy. I appreciate the broad exposure to many wines and enjoy the “miscellaneous” tasting nights that broaden my horizons. While it’s a treat to sample exceptional wines, I really enjoy recognizing a good value. When I am not covering wines for KWG, I’m a Sales Consulting Manager for a software company.
I am one of the newer members on the Tasting Panel. I have attended for a little over a year now. When I am not tasting for the Panel, I have my real work that pays the bills and pays for the wine! I work for Dow Chemical Company in the Electronic Materials Division. However, my true passion is coaching, both ice hockey and girls lacrosse. I enjoy great wine: a “Big” Red is my usual preference. (Ken knows my weakness for South African reds!)
A little known fact is that my wine journey began with a family trip to Napa back in the late 80’s. A sip of Beringer “Lemmon-Chabot” Private Reserve Sauvignon lead to a purchase that lead to a lifetime of loving great wine. I’m hooked!
What I enjoy about my experience on the Panel:
• I thoroughly enjoy the diversity in the wine experience, getting exposure to different vineyards, winemakers, varietals and the different styles. I have expanded my palate range.
• I enjoy sharing the experience with the other Panelists. Hearing their live feedback and the variety of opinions is enriching.
I have been around the KWG Tasting Panel since the Beginning! I like tasting wines that I would not normally try. Listening to other Panel members talk about their reviews and seeing how different everyone is in describing smells and tastes are also quite enjoyable for me. I am a Senior IT Network and Security Manager at Kronos.
Other Occasional members of the Tasting Panel
Brandi and Roy Taylor
Kimberlee Coleman – Assistant Bubblehead – (See picture above with Don)
Nancy Sherburne and Karl Brace
There is nothing worse – in wine terms – than being offered a glass of incredible red wine only to swirl, sniff, sip, and realize it’s warm. It happens all the time in restaurants when wine is kept out on the bar, or poured into glassware that just came out of a dishwasher. The wine gets warm and instantly becomes underwhelming. You just overpaid for a glass of warm alcoholic grape juice that better resembles thin cough syrup rather than the wine you saw on the menu.
On the flip side, some overcompensate and keep their white wines way too cold. They think on a hot day, your white wine should be near freezing to offer relief from the heat. That’s just wrong. Extreme cold destroys the subtle nature and flavors of a delicate white wine. Why not just have ice water?
Don’t let these things happen to your wine, and definitely don’t let them happen to the wine you pour for your guests. Different wines are meant to be served at different temperatures to allow for development and proper expression of character. After all, there’s a reason why some wine coolers come in dual-zone options.
Proper serving temperatures for different wines
Light, dry, and crisp white wines, like rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, or sparkling wines should be served at 40 to 50 degrees to preserve their freshness and fruitiness. This temperature is also good for sweeter and dessert white wines like Muscadet, Rieslings, or Sauternes to preserve balance and mute sweetness.
Full-bodied white wines, like Chardonnay, and light, fruity reds, like Beaujolais, Gamay, and Old-World Pinot Noir should be served at 50 to 60 degrees to allow for proper exploration of aromas and refreshing complexity of tastes.
Full-bodied red wines, like your favorite Cabernet or Syrah, and dessert reds and Ports should be served at 60 to 65 degrees, still cooler than any room temperature, but warmer than cellar temps. The slightly warmer temperatures allow bitterness from tannins to fade a bit and the wine’s more subtle elements to become more pronounced.
How to do it right
Your best case scenario is to take your more precious bottles out of your 55 degrees cellar or wine fridge and put them in your specialty cooler in the kitchen that holds at 65 degrees to gently bring your reds up to your desired serving temperature. Can’t do that? Well, then simply pull the red out of the cellar and let it rest on the counter for about 30 minutes.
Need a quick cool down for your white wines? Immerse the bottle in an ice water bath. Adding water allows more of the bottle to come into contact with the cold than just ice alone, speeding the chill. Put your bottle in the bath, give a few spins, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Believe it or not, that will chill them faster and more uniformly than putting it in the freezer for 15 minutes. If it’s too cold, like the red, you can take a white wine out of the fridge and let it sit for 10 minutes to warm just slightly before serving. Remember, also, that wine will warm in the glass and in the hands of your guests.
If you’ve kept the perfect wine for the perfect situation, don’t blow it at the last minute by serving it too warm or too cold. Serving the proper wine at the proper temperature is just as important as storing it at proper temperature, and is key to getting the most out of the experience.
The following article was provided by our contributing partner – KingsBottle.com.
Cheers – Ken
Wine country is bustling this time of year! Harvest season is in full swing and while that means a lot of work for the winemakers—it translates into a lot of fun for wine enthusiasts! From exclusive tastings and winemaker dinners to harvest festivals and so much more, harvest season truly is the ultimate time to visit wine country. Read on to learn more about some of northern California’s best places to visit to gain the full harvest season experience!
With a history dating back to the Spanish missionaries in the 1760’s, Livermore Valley has a colorful history! Today the valley’s history is steeped in wine and, in fact, it was awarded America’s first international gold medal for wine in 1889. Just 45 minutes over the Golden Gate Bridge and easily accessible by car, train or BART. Livermore Valley beckons visitors and local northern California residents alike. Besides its 40 plus wineries throughout its picturesque canyons and peaks, the valley has an array of charming towns and an assortment of outdoor activities. There truly is something for everyone in the Livermore Valley so… check it out!
Wente Vineyards—Livermore, CA
Wente Vineyards remains the nation’s oldest continuously family-owned and-operated winery. And when one visits Wente, they feel like they too become part of the family! Beyond the traditional tasting room, the Wente family heartily embraces each guest with gracious hospitality through a world-class restaurant, outdoor concert venue, 18-hole championship golf course and the Winemakers Studio. It is literally a campus dedicated to sharing the art of winemaking! During the month of October, they host their annual Winemaker’s Dinner—a can’t miss four course meal paired with award winning wines.
Cedar Mountain Winery & Port Works—Livermore, CA
This boutique winery specializes in handcrafted small lot table wines and ports produced from Livermore Valley grapes. The location’s rolling hills and vistas beckon visitors to linger on its grounds and enjoy a fantastic port paired with their favorite cheese. The owners believe that quality wines are born in the vineyard and invite wine lovers to visit and taste what they mean.
Harney Lane Winery—Lodi, CA
To experience the Lodi legacy firsthand, join Harney Lane Winery on an intimate one-hour grape to glass tour where guests can wander the grounds and discover the love behind every bottle of Harney Lane Wine. For more than one hundred years, the Mettler family farmed the 100-acre parcel that is Harney Lane. But it wasn’t until 2006 that they decided to venture into winemaking. Since then, their hard work and dedication has paid off as just in those seven short years, the winery has developed a portfolio of unique, memorable estate varietals. This October, the winery welcomes you to join them for their 2nd Annual Harvest Cookout where you can join in the celebration of their bountiful harvest!
LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards—Lodi, CA
Located north of the city of Lodi amidst the family vineyards, the winery offers visitors the opportunity to have a true grape-to-glass experience in its new tasting room, the Press Room. Tucked beneath an elevated crush pad, the Press Room’s awe-inspiring entrance features a stunning concrete and stainless water feature. Once inside, guests are welcome to wander through the cellar and taste from a large portfolio of estate, reserve and single barrel wines. It is recommended to make an appointment for an in-depth tour of the industrial facility where the winery makes the most environmentally friendly wine possible. And during the month of October, LangeTwins is host to the annual Sacramento Cyclocross event—a day of wine and bike racing!
Materra |Cunat Family Vineyards—Napa, CA
The new winery architecture at Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards is a sight to be seen! The floor of the library room is made of clear glass where guests can look down onto the soil of the vineyard. Even the restrooms are so unique that guests have asked to have their tastings there! And it’s not just the architecture that sets Materra | Cunat apart, it’s the wines themselves. Through their heartfelt blending and growing process, the winery has produced some exceptional vintages including the 2011 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon which received 90 points from Wine & Spirits. Three different tasting options are offered and appointments must be made in advance so that each tour can truly be a one-of-a-kind experience!
Stags’ Leap Winery—Napa, CA
A reservation is required for a Historical Tour & Tasting at the estate of Stags’ Leap Winery but it is well worth it. The estate is a magical place and the wines are divine. The tour showcases the natural beauty and history of the buildings and gardens that populate the sprawling estate’s grounds. Beyond the breathtaking views, the focal point of the estate is the old stone Manor House—originally built in 1892. There are a variety of tours to choose from including the Ne Cede Malis Vineyard Tour and Tasting where guests learn about viticulture and fermentation processes and their impact on the resulting wine. At the end of this tour, participants have a private Petite Sirah-focused tasting.
Castello di Amorosa—Calistoga, CA .
Inspired by his Italian heritage and in need of a place to showcase his exceptional wines, Dario Sattui created Castello di Amorosa—a 136,000 square-foot fortress built stone by stone to look like an authentic medieval castle. The castle even features authentic elements such as a drawbridge, moat, a church and secret passageways. This unique fortress sets the stage for the winery’s classically structured and intensely flavored handcrafted wine. The winery offers a myriad of ways for guests to enjoy their visit including tours of the castle and private tastings. It truly seems like there is always something happening at Castello di Amorosa and October is no exception as that’s when they host their annual Pagan Ball—a Halloween lovers dream or maybe nightmare…?
Chateau St. Jean—Kenwood, CA
Reminiscent of those found in the South of France, the gardens at Chateau St. Jean are considered some of Sonoma County’s most beautiful. Sit at a bench or table scattered throughout the property’s meticulously manicured lawns and enjoy a picnic and a glass of one of their exceptional quality wines. Guests are encouraged to make an appointment for one of the Distinctive Experiences at Chateau St. Jean including the foodie friendly Charcuterie at the Chateau. This tasting pours four single vineyard and reserve wines paired with local bites. On October 16, Chateau St. Jean is host to a complementary Wine Club Pick Up Party where guest can enjoy wine, food and live music.
Fountaingrove Inn and the Steakhouse at Equus—Santa Rosa, CA
On the grounds of a late 1870’s commune that produced 90 percent of the region’s wine stands an old Round Barn circa 1899. The barn is now a gateway to the Fountaingrove Inn and Steakhouse at Equus. Close to famed Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River Valley appellations, this wine country retreat is the ideal location for leisure and business guests alike.
The Steakhouse at Equus is a not to be missed dinning experience with a world class wine list and the restaurant’s new menu which features old favorites and showcases premium meats. With 124 guestrooms and suites, unique architecture, and a dedication to their guests, Fountaingrove Inn is truly the perfect home-away-from-home for anyone traveling to Sonoma Wine Country!
The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.
Cheers – Ken
On July 30th, I had the opportunity to visit three wineries on Long Island before attending a family 50th birthday bash that evening. Getting back to the Long Island Wine Country was a treat and I wish I had a whole weekend instead of just three hours to cover some wines. In all, there are fifty-six wineries to choose from. I was able to choose three and cover many of their wines in the time I spent at each winery. I landed in Port Jefferson, NY via a ferry from Bridgeport, CT. The family and I first enjoyed a nice brunch at “Toast” in Port Jefferson before we made our way out to Long Island Wine Country. It is about an hour drive out to the first wineries on the North Fork if you have good traffic. We did! One piece of advice before planning your trip is to select your wineries in advance. I did this and it really helped. I chose three wineries that were close to each other. This meant I had more time for covering wines and less driving time. I also went with wineries that I was familiar with. This made it easier for me to set up appointments and keep on schedule. Long Island wineries sometimes host private parties and weddings. One of the wineries on my initial list was closed on the 30th for a private party. I had to pivot and adjust. I’m glad I did my homework earlier in the week versus just showing up to find out they were closed.
The big question: Where did I end up visiting? My first stop was at the Roanoke Vineyards Wine Bar in Mattituck. I tasted thru six wines and recommended two of them. My favorite was their 2015 “Infinite Possibility.” I scored this $20 white blend 90 points. It is a blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Pinot Blanc and 10% Chardonnay. I found it to be slightly acidic and mouthwatering with tasty mineral-infused lime flavors along with notes of Anjou pear and a touch of lychee. This is a terrific summer wine and would pair nicely with grilled swordfish. My second favorite from Roanoke was their 2014 “Red Blend” for $20. This blend was made with 58% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Petit Verdot. It was a slightly acidic and juicy with blackberry flavors along with notes of old oak and hints of black olive and black pepper. It is a perfect mushroom burger wine.
We next moved onto Macari Vineyards where I was set up with a tasting with Gibson Campbell. Gibson was extremely knowledgeable with regards to the winery and all the wines he was presenting. We started with two white wines that I was impressed with. The first was the 2015 “Katherine’s Field” Sauvignon Blanc. I awarded this wine 90 points. It is light-bodied and fresh with tasty mild mineral-infused lime flavors along with notes of Anjou pear and some hints faint pineapple. It finishes off-dry and its very refreshing. I would pair it with grilled sea scallops. Next up was a kitchen sink blend of white grapes. The 2014 “Dos Aguas” is made from 49% Viognier, 18% Tocai Friulano, 17% Chardonnay, 16% Riesling, 12% Pinot Gris, 10% Sauvignon Blanc and 2% Gewurztraminer. Wow! All in all, this wine was quite interesting. It was light-bodied and very easy to enjoy. We detected some tasty mild peach and green apple flavors with hints of minerality and tangerine. This wine would pair nicely with sushi.
I finished with my favorite wine of the trip! The 2012 “Block E” Dessert Wine is Excellent! I rated this wine 94 points and for $32 per 375 ml bottle, it is a steal. The secret is out! Hurry, only 243 cases of this gem were made. This wonderful wine is made from 45% Chardonnay, 26% Riesling, 18% Viognier, 9% Pinot Gris and 2% Sauvignon Blanc. It is full-bodied, balanced, and concentrated. I loved its delicious ripe pear flavors with notes of apricot and honey. I also detected a hint of candied ginger. I could drink a whole bottle easily. Another option is to pour it over your favorite vanilla bean ice cream. It’s fantastic!
Our last stop, was at Lieb Cellars. In addition to the Lieb brand, I also tried wines from their Bridge Lane portfolio. I started with a wine that I covered before and recommended. The Bridge Lane 2014 “White Blend” for $16. This wine is a very good value and a very good every day wine. It is made from 35% Chardonnay, 26% Pinot Blanc, 20% Riesling, 15% Sauvignon Blanc and 4% White Pinot Noir. I have consistently rated this wine 88 points. It is light-bodied, slightly acidic, and fresh. I really enjoyed its green apple flavors with notes of lemon verbena, lime, and gentle minerality. It finishes dry and lingers nicely. I would serve it with linguini and clams. Staying with the whites, I also enjoyed the Lieb Cellars 2014 “Reserve” Pinot Blanc for $20. This offering was light-bodied, balanced, and easy going. I found its flavor profile to be a mineral-infused green apple with hints of light lemon-lime. This wine was dry and refreshing and a perfect match for the manchego cheese we were also enjoying on this warm summer day.
In closing, it was great to get back to Long Island. I wish I could have tried more wines and visited more wineries. My overall impression is that Long Island is still better at producing more high quality white wines vs. red wines. It is a region on the rise and the wines keep getting better. I look forward to covering more wines from this region in the future. If you get the chance, you should visit for sure! The Long Island Wine Council has a very good website covering the region. Take some time and visit the region the next time you are in the New York City area. Cheers! – Ken
With summer in full swing, I thought it would be a good time to provide a comprehensive list of recommended dry Rose. Dry Rose is one of, if not the fastest growing category in wine. Theresa is quickly starting to appreciate this category and she is becoming a big fan as well. Below is a list of our favorite Rose that we covered this spring and summer. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
We start the list off with our 91 pointers. The 2015 Navarro Rose from Mendocino for $18 is a terrific blend of 86% “Old Vine” Grenache and 14% Carignane. It is medium bodied, slightly acidic, round and mouthwatering. I loved its bright tangerine flavors with notes of mild minerality and strawberry. I also detected a hint of mango mixed in as well. It finishes dry and its tasty fruit flavors linger and last for quite some time. This Rose is easily quaffed on a hot summer day. I would serve it with Emeril’s pan roasted squab with a cherry balsamic sauce.
The other 91 pointer comes to us from Sancerre. The 2015 Le Roi des Pierres Rose is made from 100% Pinot Noir. It is a little pricey at $28, but it is very good and worth it. It opens with an attractive strawberry bouquet with a hint of red cherry. I found it to be medium bodied and very nicely balanced. There are no edges at all. Our mini-tasting group really liked its very tasty mild mineral infused strawberry flavors with notes of watermelon and hints of Maraschino cherry. It finishes dry and fades away nicely. This Rose is very food friendly and will be a crowd pleaser. I would pair it with shrimp cocktail.
Next up we have four 90 pointers that are worthy of your attention. We will start with a great value offering from the Finger Lakes. The Kelby James Russell 2015 “Dry Rose” is made from 100% Cabernet Franc. At $16 per bottle, it is a steal. This offering is medium bodied, slightly acidic, juicy and nicely coats your mouth. It displays mineral infused strawberry flavors with notes of peach and a hint of tangerine and ginger. This Rose is food friendly and will not last very long. Share with friends at a cookout along with some grilled weisswurst. It’s a wine club exclusive. So you could join or you could call the winery and beg for some.
Our next option is readily available and hails from Oregon. The 2015 Sokol Blosser “Rose of Pinot Noir” from Dundee Hills goes for about $22 per bottle. This “organic” coral colored wine opens with mild orange and strawberry like bouquet with hints of wet stone. It is medium to full bodied, creamy and smooth. Its flavor profile is a mineral infused mild strawberry with notes of tangerine and a hint of nectarine. This rich dry Rose like the others will pair nicely with food. I would serve it cool with a salmon burger.
The 2015 Castello di Amorosa “Gioia” Rose for $26 presents a different twist. It is made from 100% Sangiovese. As a result it is much darker than the other offerings. I described its colored as dark strawberry. It is medium bodied and nicely balanced, but at the same time fully coats you mouth. Its flavor profile is richer than most of the Rose in this report. Those flavors are a blend of Maraschino cherry and ripe red raspberry. I also picked up a touch of strawberry and gentle watermelon in the background. This is a perfect Rose for red drinkers looking for something a little lighter in the summer, but not too light.
Our last 90 pointer is the 2014 Wente “Small Lot” Pinot Noir Rose for $35. This wine is medium bodied, slightly acidic and very easy to enjoy. Its flavor profile is a mineral infused mild strawberry with notes of faint red raspberry. It finishes dry, clean and refreshing. This crowd pleasing Rose would be perfect with sharp cheese served slightly chilled by the pool on a hot summer day.
Our 89 point list is consists of nine very good offerings that are all worthy of your consideration. We will start with one of the best values in the whole list. The 2015 Anew Rose from the Columbia Valley in Washington State is a steal at $12. This wine is a blend of 63% Syrah, 24% Grenache and 13% Sangiovese. It is medium bodied, balanced and round in the mouth. Theresa and I really liked it mineral infused watermelon flavors with notes of strawberry and some hints of tangerine. It finishes dry and its flavors and refreshing acidity linger and last for a while. This Rose is a perfect choice for a summer picnic on a hot day. We would serve it grilled Thumann’s deli dogs.
Our next offering hails from South Africa. The 2015 DMZ Cabernet Rose for $12 is a real value. It is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. It it offers a lot more body and fruit than your typical Provencal Rose. Its bouquet leads you to believe it will pack a punch, and it does. On the palate, it is interesting with the blood oranges flavors alongside candied pink grapefruit and tart strawberries. This is a Rose that could be paired with seared red meats, especially wild game.
Another good values is the 2015 Chateau de Sours “La Fleur d’Amelie” Rose from Bordeaux. This wine only cost $15 per bottle. It is made from mostly Merlot with a little Cabernet Franc and a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon. I found this wine to be nicely balanced and very easy to enjoy. Its flavor profile is mild strawberry and with some gentle minerality and a touch of green apple. While not overly complex, this wine is refreshing and a pleasant summer quaffer. I would serve it at the beach with sharp cheese and crackers.
Another offering from France to consider is the 2015 Domaine de Nizas from Languedoc for $17. This wine is made from traditional Rhone grapes. (Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre) This wine is medium bodied, slightly acidic and mouthwatering with mineral infused blood orange flavors. We also detected with hints of strawberry and touch of ginger. This dry Rose is also perfect for summer. It is best served slightly chilled at the beach with fried clam strips.
Ghost Hill Cellars 2015 “Pinot Noir Rose” (Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon) $20 (89)
This Rose from Oregon was well received by all that tried it. It is balanced and approachable. It displays mild mineral infused strawberry flavors with notes of mild nectarine and a hint of tangerine. Try with shrimp scampi.
Sidebar 2015 Rose “Russian River Valley” (California) $21 (89)
This Syrah based Rose is slightly acidic and easy to drink. Its flavor profile is a mild mineral infused light clementine with hints of white pepper and strawberry. Serve slightly chilled with Kerrygold Dubliner cheese.
Chateau d’Esclans 2015 Rose “Whispering Angel” (Cotes de Provence, FR) $22 (89)
This popular Rose from Provence is balanced, easy going, and has no hard edges. I enjoyed its tasty mild tangerine and strawberry flavors with nicely integrated gentle minerality and a touch of lime. Its food friendly.
Lazy Creek Vineyards 2015 “Rose of Pinot Noir” (Anderson Valley, CA) $22 (89)
This Rose is made from 100% Pinot Noir. Its slightly acidic, gentle and a bit tingly. It displays mild mineral infused watermelon flavors with hints of white pepper, nectarine and strawberry. Serve with cold Gazpacho.
Tres Sabores 2014 Rose “Ingrid and Julia” (Napa Valley, CA) $25 (89)
This “organic” Rose is made mostly from Zin with a little Petite Sirah. It is slightly acidic and mouthwatering. It has a different flavor profile of mineral infused tangerine along with gentle apricot and a hint of lime. Try with pan fried sea bass.
Villa Wolf 2015 “Pinot Noir Rose” (Pfalz, Germany) $12 (88)
This great value from Germany is light bodied, slightly acidic, fresh and a touch effervescent. It displays flavors of mild mineral infused gentle tangerine with hints of red cherry and faint pink grapefruit. It is very refreshing.
Kanonkop 2015 “Kadette Pinotage Rose” (Stellenbosch, South Africa) $13 (88)
This good value Rose from South Africa is made with Pinotage. It is medium bodied, slightly acidic and juicy. It flavors are a tasty mild red cherry and faint strawberry with notes of mild minerality and a touch of watermelon, Slim Jim and vanilla cream towards the end. Try with a grilled mahi-mahi sandwich.
Mouton Cadet 2015 Rose “le Rose de Mouton Cadet” (Bordeaux, France) $15 (88)
This Rose from Mouton Cadet was friendly and pleasant. Karen and Stuart tasted strawberry and gooseberry flavors with nicely integrated minerality. They would pair it with shellfish, particularly oysters on the half shell.
Domaine Houchart 2015 Rose “Cotes de Provence” (France) $15 (88)
This classic Rhone grape blend from Cotes de Provence is a good value. It displays mineral infused strawberry flavors with a hint of peach. This is a very nice refreshing everyday Rose to have on a hot summer day.
Martin Ray 2015 “Rose of Pinot Noir” (Russian River Valley, CA) $20 (88)
This dark pink colored Rose Martin Ray is medium bodied and nicely balanced between its acidity and fruit. Its flavor profile is a gentle mineral and wild strawberry blend with hints of faint tangerine. It is a nice summer quaffer. I would enjoy it at the beach with some bacon cheddar cheese spread and stone wheat thins.
For a complete listing of all of our recommended Rose. Check out our KWG Rose page. We will also be adding new ones throughout the summer. Be sure to comment on your favorites and we will post them to share with our readers.
Cheers – Ken
As you kick-off the summer season, it’s time for a refreshing getaway. The weather is heating up as the sun comes out to play, and what better way to beat the heat than a rejuvenating wine country getaway? Summer’s wine county itinerary presents us with spectacular wineries and regions across the country. Full of breathtaking scenes, rustic atmospheres, nature expeditions, resort living, and beachfront relaxation, this list is your guide to summer 2016. Whether to commemorate a birthday or anniversary, or simply a celebration of life, these destinations are the perfect host. Explore!
The Cliffs Resort – Pismo Beach, CA
Placed on scenic Highway 1 between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Cliffs Resort sits on the beach and provides a full-service stay with first-class amenities. As a neighbor to California’s finest beaches, championship golf courses, gourmet dining, farmland, fisheries, and the famous Hearst Castle, travelers never run out of activities and picturesque terrain. Located in the heart of California’s Central Coast wine country, Cliffs Resort is near to more than 200 world-class wineries, with panoramic views of their coastal surroundings.
Traverse City Wine Tourism – Traverse City, MI
Named one of National Geographic’s 2012 “Ten Best Summer Trips”, Traverse City resides on the edge of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay. Its striking characteristics include miles of sandy beaches, sparkling blue waters, and glacier-carved lakes and hills. In the area is the stunning Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, once voted “Most Beautiful Place in America”, making the Traverse Bay a top choice for those who enjoy sailing, boating, beachcombing and kayaking, along with an engaging wine experience.
SeaVenture Beach Hotel – Pismo Beach, CA
This casual yet elegant beachfront retreat offers rooms with featherbeds, fireplaces, and many with private balcony hot tubs, right at the southernmost point of Pismo Beach and three blocks from downtown. Its ideal location is walking distance from tasting rooms and wine bars as well as gourmet restaurants. One can dine at the breathtaking third-floor restaurant where ocean views can be observed. This centrally located yet private destination is an ideal spot for beach weddings and meetings, and those seeking even more privacy may find themselves in the separate three-bedroom Beach House.
Wine & Roses – Lodi, CA
Serving as the ultimate wine country retreat, Wine & Roses Hotel, Restaurant, and Spa resides on in charming Lodi, California. Its owners, Lodi natives Kathryn and Russ Munson, created an authentic destination for true wine enthusiasts. The outstanding seven-acre property offers serenity, beauty, and an intimate, luxurious atmosphere in the heart of Lodi Wine Country while being a place for those eager to discover Lodi and its sublime wines.
Nottingham Cellars – Livermore, CA
Possessing many distinct microclimates, The Livermore Valley supports an outstanding array of wine grapes, and is home to the unique, family-run Nottingham Cellars. This winery sources fruit from the region’s “best thought-out” vineyards, maximizing varieties’ potential. Nottingham Cellars’ enviable reputation originally comes from its limited-production single vineyard Cabernet and Bordeaux blends. Nottingham continues the reputation through its utilization of the region’s diversity, now producing their wine under three distinct brand names, while maintaining the region’s rich winegrowing history. Added to the portfolio is the Vasco Urbano label run by Collin Cranor who was recognized by Wine Enthusiast as “one of Livermore’s most promising young winemakers”, and son of owners Diane and Jeff Cranor.
Loudon County – Loudon County, VA
With an untouched countryside, Loudon County’s rolling landscape provides the perfect place to retreat for golfers, hikers, rock climbers, cyclists, and birdwatchers. Its winding roads that lead past elegant estates and beautiful horse farms exemplify Loudon County’s proud equestrian legacy, including many race tracks, riding trails, shows, and equestrian-related museums. Loudon County is ideal for those looking for a charming and well-rounded destination, family farms, dozens of tasting rooms, as well as art exhibits, concerts, and theatre.
Pepper Bridge Winery – Walla Walla, WA
With a tasting room overlooking Pepper Bridge Vineyard and the distant Blue Mountains, Pepper Bridge Winery is recognized for elegant, balanced wines handcrafted from grapes grown in its three Walla Walla estate vineyards. Of special interest to environmentally conscious wine-tasters, Pepper Bridge Winery was the first gravity flow winery and first certified sustainable winery in the state of Washington. Its enchanting wraparound deck appeal to those looking to enjoy their favorite wine while observing the awe-inspiring surrounding landscape. Pepper Bridge’s second tasting room, located in Woodinville, provides Seattle-area wine lovers a taste of Walla Walla and hosts many private events.
Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort & Spa – San Luis Obispo, CA
A health and wellness sanctuary for more than 100 years, this Resort & Spa resides atop natural mineral springs, and offers 72 guest rooms and suites. Committed to wellbeing, the captivating landscaped grounds feature an award-winning spa and treatment center, an on-site yoga dome offering yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, and meditation classes. This enticing and relaxed resort also hosts a restaurant featuring spontaneous garden cuisine inspired by the on-site Chef’s Garden, and serves as a starting point for hiking and biking trails that lead to the ocean and charming Avalia Beach.
ArborBrook Vineyards – Newberg, Oregon
Originally built more than a century ago, this astonishing red barn was discovered in 1999 by Mary and Dave Hansen and became home to ArborBrook Vineyards. Located in the southern flank of Yamhill County’s Chehalem Mountain range, the beautifully charming barn now serves as a spacious tasting room and cold storage wine room, with space for the horses out back. Since Dave planted their first block of grapes 17 years ago, ArborBrook has become a desirable destination for its sophisticatedly rustic ambience, gorgeous barn and scenery, and its excellent wines that continually earn high acclaim.
Apple Farm’s Wine Country Inn – San Luis Obispo, CA
Located in the midst of three acres of landscaped grounds, the charming Apple Farm Inn offers 104 individually decorated guest rooms, each with its own fireplace. Apple Farm’s grounds provide a place for exploration, with an old mill, a two-story gift shop, a relaxing massage center, and a legendary restaurant and bakery open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The summer months are the perfect time to plan your getaway as the inn hosts a multitude of lawn activities and winemaker dinners.
The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.
Cheers – Ken
As May rolls around, we begin to look forward to summer and the warm weather and adventures that await. It’s time to take advantage of that nice weather and plan those summer wine country getaways you’ve been waiting for! Our latest list of great wine destinations offers top-notch wineries, touring services, and hotels to aid you in planning an outstanding and unique wine county vacation. With Mother’s Day approaching on May 8th, consider gifting her a fun wine tasting excursion. Also, the International Chardonnay Symposium and National Wine Day occur in May, making it the perfect month to embark on a tour of wine country. No matter the occasion, the destinations listed below guarantee priceless summer memories with family and friends full of great wine, food, and fun!
J. Lohr – Paso Robles, CA
Jerry Lohr founded J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines in 1974 and ever since, the winery has continued to prove why they are one of North America’s most successful family wineries. A visit to their Paso Robles tasting room, conveniently located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, will provide you with access to flavorful wines and stylish event facilities. Enjoy a glass of one of their award-winning wines from the wrap-around veranda and take in the amazing vineyard views.
Ledson Winery & Hotel – Sonoma, CA
Have an unforgettable Sonoma wine country experience by visiting the iconic Ledson Winery & Hotel. Visitors can tour the illustrious Ledson Winery castle, stay at the vintage-style boutique hotel and visit one of the tasting rooms. Guests at Ledson Winery & Vineyards are offered a complete tasting experience and can choose from a variety of tasting options. They are welcome to drop in for a general tasting at one of the three separate tasting rooms, or they can plan ahead and make a reservation for a personal tasting hosted in a private tasting suite with one of Steve Ledson’s knowledgeable winemaker’s assistants. No matter your selection, the staff at Ledson will render an experience like no other!
Beau Wine Tours – Napa Valley and Sonoma, CA
Beau Wine Tours is the perfect service to take you on your next Sonoma or Napa Valley wine country adventure. The tours are led by guides able to provide guests with knowledge regarding local Wine Country history, geography, and winemaking practices. They have a variety of vehicles and are able to accommodate tours for 2-200 people. Whether you take one of their tours or indulge in a private chauffeured ride, Beau Wine Tours and their exceptional drivers and tour guides will provide you an unforgettable experience!
Pismo Beach, CA
Pismo Beach is the perfect summer destination for any wine lover. Travel to Pismo Beach to experience a unique getaway full of waves and wine, with more than 20 wineries and tasting rooms located within 15 minutes of downtown. Or take a short drive to tour and taste at one of the more than a dozen Edna and Arroyo Grande Valley wineries. On top of visiting wineries, visitors to Pismo Beach can surf, walk the boardwalk and pier, golf, cycle, explore museums, and much more!
Anaba Wines – Sonoma, CA
Anaba Wines is named after the anabatic winds that flow through the vineyard’s 16-acre estate where their elegant and classic wines come from. Anaba wines continue to receive recognition for their excellence. They also receive major recognition for their green initiatives, including their utilization of wind energy in the production of their wines. Visit the century-old farmhouse tasting room or their patio overlooking the vineyard to sample their exceptional wines this summer.
Castello di Amorosa – Napa Valley, CA
Dario Sattui built the must-see destination that is Castello di Amorosa in order to honor his Italian heritage and showcase his exceptional wines. The winery sits within the walls of a medieval-style castle and features a drawbridge, moat, dungeon, and a 12,000-square-foot wine barrel room. Guests can take a tour of the castle, that also includes a barrel tasting experience, or participate in the Royal Food and Wine Pairing featuring authentic Italian food.
Trione Vineyards & Winery – Sonoma, CA
Through the decades and three generations, The Trione family has been honored with awards for their contributions to the Sonoma County Wine Industry with their dedication to bringing in quality fruit and crafting small lots of premium wine. Trione’s state-of-the-art winemaking facility and tasting room was built alongside Sonoma County’s historic Old Stone Building–dating back to 1908. Unwind at the bocce courts that host amazing views of the Alexander Valley, or attend one of their many food and wine events.
Inn at the Tides – Sonoma, CA
Enhance a trip to Sonoma wine country by staying at the Inn at the Tides. Set along the isolated Sonoma coastline, the Inn provides the ideal sanctuary for rejuvenation and relaxation. Enjoy a day at the spa or swimming pool and compliment it with a decadent dinner at one of their dinning outlets. The Tides Wharf Restaurant will evoke a sense a familiarity, even for first time-diners. This is because the restaurant was featured in the famed Alfred Hithcock movie, The Birds. Or for a more wine focused dining experience, the Bay View Restaurant hosts monthly winemaker dinners featuring many top Sonoma and Napa Valley vintners serving four-course wine and food pairings. The Inn at the Tides is truly a Sonoma sanctuary!
Silvan Ridge Winery – Willamette Valley, OR
Silvan Ridge Winery offers a multitude of fun events to check out this upcoming summer, including: dinners, outdoor movies and a Friday night concert series featuring live music and wood-fired oven pizzas. Their tasting room is located just 12 miles from downtown Eugene, Oregon, where they offer an impressive tasting menu and gorgeous views of the sunset. May is recognized as Oregon Wine Month and thus is the perfect excuse to take a trip to Silvan Ridge Winery and experience impressive Willamette Valley wines.
Andis Wines – Sierra Foothills, CA
From first glance, Andis Wines impresses guests with its stunning architecture. They remain a leader in the green movement with their dedication to the environment; even offering electric vehicle charging stations. Andis Wines seeks out the best vineyards of the Sierra Foothills region in order to create delicious and elegant wines through traditional and innovative winemaking techniques. The expansive tasting room, open daily 11am-4:30pm, offers amazing views of Amador wine country and picnic areas where guests can relax and enjoy their favorite Andis wine.
The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.
Cheers – Ken
We hope everyone is ready to leave winter behind and leap into spring as there is a lot to celebrate! With March Madness, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and much more, March offers a little something for everyone. Just as spring is all about new life and new growth, we’ve got 10 new wine country locales for you to explore this month. Whether you’re gathering with friends, looking for an escape, or finding the perfect red to compliment your birdie on the 17th hole– we’ve got you covered.
Heitz Wine Cellars (Napa Valley)
Heitz Wine Cellars is a pleasant and peaceful wine country experience. The tasting room is housed in a grey, stone building off the St. Helena Highway. Inside, the simple but spacious tasting room features a stone fireplace and couches for guests to enjoy their world-class wines. Outside, set against lush flower beds, the shady vine-covered patio offers expansive vineyard views. The impeccable wines, knowledgeable staff and beautiful grounds combine for a tasting experience reminiscent of the older days of Napa. Visit Heitz Wine Cellars for a fun, informative tasting in a splendid setting.
Fountaingrove Hotel & Conference Center (Sonoma County)
Located in historic Santa Rosa in the heart of Sonoma Wine Country, the Fountaingrove Inn Hotel & Conference Center combines hospitable luxury with the relaxed, genuine Sonoma County atmosphere. The Steakhouse @ Equus offers premium meats with a modern twist – perfect for food-lovers. Whether you’re enjoying the hotel’s restaurant and amenities, visiting one of the many nearby wineries or exploring the boutiques in downtown Santa Rosa, the Fountaingrove Inn is the perfect home away from home in Sonoma Wine Country.
Silverado Resort and Spa (Napa Valley)
Whether you’re looking for an active getaway or a calm escape, the captivating Silverado Resort & Spa has it all. Blending history and modernity, the plantation-style mansion serves as an icon for the property that was built in the 1870s by Civil War General John Franklin Miller. Besides the PGA Tournament golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pool, bocce and bicycle rentals, there are hiking trails and Napa Valley’s 400- plus wineries nearby. Or perhaps you’re looking to treat yourself at The Spa at Silverado which offers a menu of massage, skin care, and body treatments.
Pine Ridge Vineyards (Napa Valley)
Named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s 75 Best Wineries to Visit in California, Pine Ridge Vineyards is a pleasure for foodies and wine-lovers alike. The educational tours end with a seated, hosted wine and cheese pairing in the Cabernet Caves. Or choose to experience the 5×5 tasting including five estate wines paired with chef prepared delicacies are both incredible experiences, especially for those visiting the Napa Valley. Whether you’re in the caves or the comfortable patio overlooking the gardens, Pine Ridge Vineyards is a scenic tasting experience that will delight all of your senses this spring.
Hope Family Wines (Paso Robles)
With a newly-renovated lounge-style tasting room that feels bold yet comfortable, Hope Family Wines embodies the spirit of Austin Hope’s fearless innovation. The Treana Tasting Cellar features Treana wines as well as Austin’s Rhone style wines bottled under the Austin Hope label. The unique tasting room, diverse wines, and impressive scenery are excellent for those who want to start their spring with a new wine experience.
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards (Sonoma Valley)
Nothing says “spring” quite like sparkling wine! This year, wine enthusiasts around the globe are raising their glasses to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Carneros’ first Sparkling wine house. With 335 acres under vine, Gloria Ferrer’s two estate vineyards produce some of the world’s finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. On the Vista Terrace guests can enjoy table service and picturesque views of the Sonoma Valley landscape where flowers bloom year round.
Bennett Lane Winery (Napa Valley)
Only 13-years-old, Bennett Lane Winery is already known for producing top-tier Cabernet Sauvignon and an incredible 36 90+ point wines. What makes Bennett Lane truly stand out is their reputation as one of the friendliest, most welcoming wineries in the Napa Valley. Sit out on the lawn as the weather warms up and enjoy the spectacular views of Mount St. Helena. Or if you’re looking for a new adventure this March, take one of their hot air balloon tours and see the Napa Valley from above!
Madrone Vineyards Estate (Sonoma County)
Set two miles west of downtown Sonoma, Madrone Vineyards Estate mixes rustic warmth with modern style. The stone tasting room set in the middle of the vineyards features large wooden doors and a comfortable back patio perfect for sitting out with one of their exceptional small-lot, single-vineyard wines. Wine and cheese pairings prepared by local artisan purveyors are available daily in the tasting room. In addition, Winery Chef, Stephanie Gagne, prepares small bites of seasonal dishes paired with wines for the winery’s Sonoma Small Bites program, offered Thursday through Saturday afternoons. This family-friendly property is stunning any time of the year, but we especially like it in spring when the grounds are a rich green.
Oak Farm Vineyards (Lodi)
Named for a 400-year-old oak tree, Oak Farm Vineyards resides on one of the oldest properties in the Central Valley. But while the property itself is historic, Oak Farm Vineyards is a breath of fresh air. The new tasting room features floor-to-ceiling windows and brick fireplace, and a cozy terrace where you can sip wines while enjoying the stunning Lodi scenery. This vision of the Panella family is a place for those who truly appreciate the celebration of family, friends, and great wine! Their passion shines through every bottle – bring a picnic and spend a spring afternoon getting to know their balanced, delightful wines.
Moshin Vineyards (Sonoma County)
Known for outstanding customer service and fun yet informative tastings, Moshin Vineyards is a Russian River appellation standout. Pinot Noir is their flagship wine, but they also have Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Merlot, Petite Sirah and something for your sweet tooth as well! Winery events range from dinners to art shows and movie nights, making each visit a unique and enjoyable experience.
The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.
Cheers – Ken
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