2008 Thralls Syrah Alder Springs Vineyards

During the Wine Bloggers Conference a couple of weeks ago, our palates were bombarded with 100s of wines.  Over the course of the weekend, a few wines really stood out from the rest; one of them being 2008 Thralls Syrah Alder Springs Vineyards.

Thralls Family Cellars is the project of winemaker and owner Ed Thralls.  Ed has a really cool story surrounding his journey to become a winemaker.  After being a bit unfulfilled by a successful career in financial technology, he began pursuing his passion for wine by making it in his garage in Atlanta.  Ed followed his passion cross-country to Sonoma and now produces both Pinot Noir and Syrah for Thralls Family Cellars.

Thralls Syrah Alder Springs Vineyards

Thralls Syrah Alder Springs Vineyards

Technical Stuff

100% Syrah from Alder Springs Vineyard in Mendocino County.  The wine was aged 19 months in a 50% new/50% 1 year old (Zebra) barrel before bottling in May 2010.  There was minimal intervention in the winemaking process.  13.8% alcohol and a retail price of $34.  

Tasting Notes

Thralls Syrah pours an intense blackish-purple color in the glass.  The nose offers rich, enticing aromas of blackberries, smoke, and lavender.  The palate is smooth and nicely structured with tastes of ripe blackberries, plum, black pepper, and sweet tobacco.  Well-made, sophisticated, and balanced!

For more info, visit Thralls Family Cellars.

A Fantastic Rosé – Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris

It has been really warm in SoCal over the last few weeks and I have been constantly sipping Rosé.  I recently picked up a bottle of 2013 Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris from a local wine shop and was blown away by what I tasted.  This is my favorite Rosé of the season for under $20 by a landslide!

Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris

Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris

Technical Stuff

A blend of 70% Grenache Gris and Grenache Noir; 10% Mourvèdre; 10% Carignan; 10% Cinsault from Corbieres.  This wine undergoes no malolactic fermentation and is made with minimal intervention in the winemaking process.  12.5% alcohol and a retail price of around $14.

Tasting Notes

The beautiful salmon color of Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris is really striking.  The nose has fresh aromas of watermelon, raspberries, and strawberries  The palate is lively and refreshing.  There are tastes of red cherries and strawberries along with hints of citrus.  The finish is crisp and will keep you reaching for more.  A fantastic tasting and well-made wine at a great price!

For more info, visit Domaine de Fontsainte.

Congrats to the 2014 Wine Blog Award Winners

When it comes to wine blogs, there are so many amazing blogs to read and follow.  With that being said, the 2014 Wine Blog Awards winners were just announced!  Here is the list of the winners…check out the sites as these blogs are worth reading!


Best Blog Post of the Year

Lauren Mowery - Turkish Wines: Vinkara Winery Working to Preserve Indigenous Varieties with Delicious 

Best Original Photography or Video on a Wine Blog

The Journey of Jordan Winery

Best Industry/Business Wine Blog

Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog

Best Wine Reviews on a Wine Blog

Wine School of Philadelphia

Best Single Subject Wine Blog

Washington Wine Report

Best Winery Blog

The Lynmar Life

Best Writing On a Wine Blog

HoseMaster of Wine

Best New Wine Blog

Girl and the Grape

Best Overall Wine Blog

Jamie Goode’s Wine Blog

2014 Wine Bloggers Conference – The New Wines of Greece

During the course of the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference, we had the chance to attend several break-out tasting sessions.  For one of the tasting sessions, I chose “The New Wines of Greece”, and it ended up being my favorite tasting event of the conference.  I have tasted some of the more popular wines coming out of Greece in the past but never really had the chance to dig in to some of Greece’s more unique wines and regions.

During the session, we tasted through six difference Greek wines from six grapes and wine regions.  Here are some of my tasting notes.  Please note, we weren’t provided with brands for most of the wines as they varied from blogger to blogger (think Greek recession and limited wine supply).

New Wines of Greece Tasting

New Wines of Greece Tasting

Robola of Cephalonia 2013

This dry white wine comes from the Island of Cephalonia.  Robola generally makes a bright, refreshing wine and what we tasted fit the bill.  Lots of citrus on the nose along with a palate filled with crisp fruit flavors and vibrant acidity.  Very enjoyable.

Mantinia 2013

The grape variety Moschofilero we tasted came from the Mantinia/Peloponnese region of Greece.  The wine featured lots of floral aromas that carried through into the palate.  There were also tastes of citrus and stone fruit followed by a dry, refreshing finish.

Malagousia 2013

This was the most interesting wine of the tasting for me.  The Malagousia grape we tasted from the Epanomi/Macedonia region produced an intriguing wine that really stood out from the rest. Apricots, peaches, and herbs with incredible texture.  Definitely complex and something I want to drink again!

Santorini 2013

Wines from Santorini are probably some of the better known Greek wines in the US.  We had Assyrtiko from Estate Argyros, which was the same wine poured for every blogger at the event.  Fresh tastes of citrus and minerals with racy acidity.  A really nice wine!

Nemea 2008

We broke into reds with Agiorgtiko from the Nemea/Peloponnese regions in Greece.  The wine we tried was dry and medium-bodied with notes of herbs and red fruit.  There were lingering tastes of sweet raisins on the finish.  Worth uncorking again!

Naoussa 2011

Our final wine was Xinomavro from Naoussa/Macedonia.  A super unique, dry red wine with structured tannins and notes of pepper, herbs, and dried fruit.  Fairly elegant and best served a bit chilled!  This grape variety generally has a lot of aging potential.


2014 Wine Bloggers Conference – Santa Barbara

If you pay any attention to wine and social media, you probably noticed that the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference just wrapped up over the weekend.  This was the first year Brandon and I were able to attend the conference and we couldn’t have been happier that it was held in Santa Barbara wine country.  Over 350 bloggers and wine industry professionals gathered together in Buellton to discuss blogging and social media, taste wines from all over the world, and explore Santa Barbara wine country.

Overall, I really enjoyed the conference.  I had the chance to meet so many incredible people and really dig into Santa Barbara’s wine regions.  I have almost recovered from the long, fun weekend so stay tuned for posts highlighting my favorite events.  Cheers and a special thank you to all of the Santa Barbara wineries and restaurants for being such gracious hosts!

Wine Bloggers Conference

International Wine of the Month Club – A Great Wine Selection!

There are A LOT of wine clubs out there and it can be really tough to pick one that offers a thoughtful selection each and every month.  I was recently invited to taste a monthly selection from the International Wine of the Month Club and was really impressed with the red and white that was sent my way.

The International Wine of the Month Club has three different membership types (all based on the price points of the wine) that allow you to select either 1 or 2 red and white wines a month.  These wines are selected by a two-tiered tasting panel.  Tier one is comprised of 10 sommeliers, professional tasters, and winemakers. Only the top 10% are sent to the secondary panel, which includes upwards of thirty or more tasters.

Here are my thoughts on the wines that were sent my way.  The cost for the 2 bottle selection is $72.95.

The International Wine Club of the Month wine selection

The International Wine Club of the Month wine selection

2011 Bellingham “The Bernard Series” Small Barrel S.M.V. 

Bellingham is a South African winery that has roots dating back to 1693.  The winery has grown and evolved to become what it is today but they maintain a minimalist winemaking approach to assure the true character of the grapes shine through.  The 2011 Bellingham “The Bernard Series” Small Barrel S.M.V. is an excellent example of a hand-crafted, terroir-reflective wine.

The S.M.V. is a blend of 70% Shiraz, 22% Mourvedre, and 3% Viognier.  The wine pours a deep purple color in the glass.  You will notice abundant, rich aromas of dark fruit, lavender, and herbs.  The palate is flavorful with tastes of blackberry, violets, and hints of oak.  The Viognier adds a noticeably bright note that really elevates the wine.   An excellent choice for grilling and definitely something that I would uncork again! (14% alcohol)

2011 Domaine Marc Colin Saint-Aubin La Fontenotte

The second bottle included in my monthly shipment was 2011 Domaine Marc Colin Saint-Aubin La Fontenotte.  In keeping with the values that seem to be important to the International Wine of the Month Club, the wine is hand-crafted with minimal intervention in the winemaking process.  Domaine Marc Colin utilizes principles such as organic farming and native yeast fermentation to assure the wines are expressive and true to the grape.

The 2011 Domaine Marc Colin Saint-Aubin La Fontenotte is a White Burgundy (100% Chardonnay) that opens with aromas of pear and citrus surrounded by hints of oak.  The nose reminds me of a spring day and really enticed me to take a sip.  The plate is bright and lively with notes of lime, lemon, pear, and minerals.  The finish is long and zesty.  A fantastically refreshing wine that would be perfect with seafood! (13% alcohol)

*Media Samples

2012 Caymus 40th Anniversary Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

A couple of weeks ago, a group of wine bloggers and wine lovers got together on Twitter to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Caymus Vineyards Cabernet with Total Wine and More.  Caymus Vineyards began in 1971 when Charles Wagner and his wife Lorna Belle Glos Wagner asked their son, Chuck Wagner, if he wanted to join them in starting a winery.  The Wagner family decided in advance to sell their Napa Valley property if Chuck refused their offer, which he instead accepted.  This was the start of Caymus Vineyards, which is still 100% owned by the Wagner Family.

The Wagners produced their first Cabernet in 1972, so the 2012 vintage celebrates the 40th anniversary of this iconic Cabernet.   I joined in on the Twitter tasting, uncorked a bottle of 2012 Caymus 40th Anniversary Cabernet, and fired up a grill full of steaks!

2012 Caymus 40th Anniversary Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Caymus 40th Anniversary Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Tasting Notes

2012 Caymus 40th Anniversary Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is deep reddish-purple in color.  Rich aromas leap out of the glass and include notes of cassis, blackberries, anise, and warm spices.  On the palate, there are intense flavors of black fruit, oak, dark chocolate, herbs, and spices.  The wine also has ripe yet smooth tannins and soft acidity.  I think fans of big California Cabernet will enjoy this vintage of Caymus.  This wine is still a baby; if you can wait a few years, you will be rewarded!

14.6% alcohol.  Retails for $60/bottle.  For more info, vist Caymus Vineyards.

*Media Sample

Brunch at M.B. Post – Manhattan Beach

I have to admit that I am often disappointed with brunch.  I can think of way too many times that Brandon and I have been hurried into a busy dining room only to pay $20+ a plate for a dish I could have crafted more tastefully in my own kitchen.  This couldn’t be farther from the experience we had at M.B. Post in Manhattan Beach.

Even though M.B. Post has been open since 2011, there is still plenty of buzz that surrounds Chef David LeFevre and his cuisine.  Recently named to both Jonathan Gold’s Top 101 LA Restaurants and LA Magazine’s 75 Best Restaurants, you definitely will need a reservation to assure yourself a table without a wait.

We arrived a few minutes early for our 12:15 reservation and were seated right away at a pleasant table for two.  There is communal seating available so be aware that you may be seated close by other patrons. The atmosphere is lively yet relaxed.  Definitely a laid-back beach scene that pays tribute to the ocean, which is right across the street.

M.B. Post Brunch Menu

M.B. Post Brunch Menu

The drink menu offers a really nicely thought out wine and cocktail list.  While some of their cocktails looked outstanding, I opted for Red Car Rose of Pinot Noir and Brandon grabbed a craft beer.  We also got a glass of fresh squeezed OJ, which was delicious!

Sticky Bun

Sticky Bun

We started our meal with the sticky bun with pecans and brown sugar.  It was definitely sweet but really delicious.  I think it is a great dish to share with a group.

Belly Button Bagel

Belly Button Bagel

Our next dish was the “Belly Button Bagel” with in-house trout “lox,” dill cream cheese,  capers, and cucumber.  This was honestly one of the best versions I have ever had (and this is coming from a half-Jewish girl who has had her fair share of bagels and lox!).

Burrata and Red Pepper Sandwich

Burrata and Red Pepper Sandwich

For our next plate, we opted for another savory dish and split the burrata and roasted red pepper sandwich served on a homemade pretzel bun with green olive pesto and house chips.  We loved the way the flavors mingled together and the bun was outstanding.

French Toast

French Toast

Our last shared plate was the french toast stuffed with in-house ricotta, Murray Farms sweet cherries, and candied almonds.  The french toast was rich, moist, and delicious.  It was indulgent and a perfect way end our meal.

Another dish not to miss is the bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits.  We didn’t opt for them this time around but you would really be missing out if you didn’t try them.

All in all, this was a fantastic brunch experience.  If you want a delicious brunch with an ocean breeze, definitely stop by M.B. Post!

For more info, visit M.B Post.

Two Shepherds 2012 Grenache Noir – Absolutely Beautiful

Ever have a wine that leaves you still thinking about it a few days later?  That is what I have been doing ever since I uncorked a bottle of Two Shepherds 2012 Grenache Noir this past Saturday night.  I am a huge Grenache fan and winemaker William Allen’s 2012 Grenache is exactly the type of Grenache I look for.  It’s an absolutely beautiful wine!

Two Shepherds 2012 Grenache Noir

Two Shepherds 2012 Grenache Noir

Technical Stuff

100% Grenache from Saralee’s Vineyard in the Russian River.  50% whole cluster.  Unfined and unfiltered. 13.3% alcohol and a retail price of $38.

Tasting Notes

Two Shepherds 2012 Grenache Noir pours a cranberry color in the glass that seems to sparkle when the light hits it.  The wine has a beautiful nose that features aromas of rich, yet delicate red fruit.   It is a light-bodied wine with poised structure.  There are refined tastes of cherries, cranberries, strawberries, and hints of spice.  Elegant with vibrant acidity, this is one of the best domestic Grenaches I have had this year!

Charles Krug Winery BrandLive Virtual Tasting!

A couple of weeks ago, I joined in on a BrandLive virtual tasting hosted by Charles Krug Winery.  The tasting featured 4 new releases from the winery – the 2013 Limited Release Estate Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Napa Valley Merlot, 2011 Family Reserve ‘Generations’, and 2011 Family Reserve ‘Howell Mountain’ Cabernet Sauvignon.

Charles Krug Wine

The red releases mark a pretty cool milestone for the winery,  as 2011 is Charles Krug’s 150th vintage as well as the inaugural vintage of their Family Reserve ‘Howell Mountain’ Cabernet.   We were also lucky enough to be joined by Peter Mondavi Jr.  and had the opportunity to ask him questions through the interactive BrandLive platform.

The tasting was a great experience and the wines were really well-made.  Here are my tasting notes from the event:

Charles Krug 2013 Limited Release Estate Sauvignon Blanc

Beautifully aromatic with notes of tropical fruit and peach.  The palate offers a creamy texture with tastes of citrus and peach.  Noticeable acidity helps keep this wine alive and refreshing…a great wine for warm weather! (13.6% alcohol, $35)

Charles Krug 2011 Napa Valley Merlot

Pleasant aromas of dark fruit with herbal undertones.  The palate features dark berries, tobacco, and dark chocolate entwined with hints of oak.  There is also a bit of a lift from the acid that takes the flavors in the wine to another level.  California Merlot is generally not my thing but this bottle was pretty easy to sip! (14% alcohol, $25)

Charles Krug 2011 Family Reserve ‘Generations’ 

Opening with layered aromas of earth, dark fruit, cocoa, and minerals.  The palate is nicely structured yet not overbearing with tastes of cassis and blackberry.  There are also hints of bell pepper, minerals, and oak. Complex and balanced…a really nice wine! (13.9% alcohol, $50)

Charles Krug 2011 Family Reserve ‘Howell Mountain’ Cabernet Sauvignon

This Cabernet begins with enticing aromas of dark fruit, oak, and spice.  Soft flavors of dark cherry and blackberry meet your palate along with dark chocolate, herbs, and spice  Surprisingly balanced and graceful for a Napa Cabernet.  Would love to be able to taste how this evolves over time! (13.7% alcohol, $75)

*Media Samples