1981 Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon

Since moving to the Bay Area, old wine has become much more accessible.  When Brandon and I venture into San Francisco, we try to swing by wine shops that have a nice selection of old wines (especially ones that aren’t too much of a burden on the wallet).  One of the latest old wines we have fallen in love with is Moulin Touchais.

1981 Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon
1981 Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon

Moulin Touchais was founded in 1787 and is known for producing a late harvest Chenin Blanc that is aged for a minimum of 10 years.  The 1981 vintage has aged beautifully over the last 35 years.  The enamoring, copper-colored wine offers up aromas of citrus, honey, and spice.  The palate is medium-bodied with tastes of grapefruit, honey, citrus rind, and caramel.  It still has a solid backbone of acid and is a pleasure to drink!  I can’t wait to explore more vintages!

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Holiday Events in Sonoma

Christmas season is upon us in Sonoma.  Here are a few great events to check out over the holidays!

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Sonoma Plaza Christmas Lights

My favorite part of the holiday season in Sonoma are the lights in Sonoma Plaza.  Grab dinner or drinks downtown and take an enchanted walk through the Square.  It’s a time of year you don’t want to miss!

December 3 – Lighting of the Snowmen Holiday Festival at Cornerstone Sonoma

The 12th annual Lighting of the Snowman takes place Saturday December 3rd at Cornerstone Sonoma.  The festival will feature music, crafts for kids, wine + beer tasting, warm drinks, delicious food, festive decoration and more.  For more info, visit Cornerstone Sonoma.

Winery Holiday Open Houses 

Throughout the holiday season, many Sonoma wineries will be hosting open houses.  The wineries offer seasonal specials & gift ideas and the events often include live music & food.  A few Sonoma wineries that hold fun, holiday events include Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Larson Family Winery, and Fulcrum Wines.  Even if there isn’t an open house when you are visiting, most Sonoma Valley wineries are beautifully decorated for the holidays!

 

 

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Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

With only a few days left until Thanksgiving, finding the perfect wines to pair with your Thanksgiving feast is likely at the top of your list!  We have made it easy for you by sharing some of our favorite red and white wine pairings for the Thanksgiving holiday!

Thanksgiving

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a classic Thanksgiving wine pairing and is truly one of our favorites for the holiday.  There are plenty of great Burgundies around but lately I have been impressed with cool-climate Pinot Noir coming out of California.  Look for Pinot Noir from wineries like Failla and Red Car in local, specialty wine shops.  They are fantastic wines for your Thanksgiving table!

Gamay

Gamay is often overlooked for Thanksgiving but we love it paired with turkey and stuffing!  We are obsessed with Le Telquel Gamay and it is an obvious choice for the holiday.  Le Telquel is from the Loire Valley and has tastes of juicy red berries and spice entwined with racy acidity.  Pure, unadulterated, and best served slightly chilled.  This is one of the best Gamays you will find for under $20 and it is a great Thanksgiving wine!

Riesling

Riesling is one of the most food-friendly wines and is a great pairing with many Thanksgiving dishes.  We recently tasted 2014 Famille Hugel Riesling and discovered it’s not only delicious, but it’s also a killer value at $12.  This dry Riesling from the Alsace region of France is filled with tastes of lemon and orange blossom along with naturally bright acidity and hints of minerality.  Pair with everything from yams to mashed potatoes to turkey & stuffing!

Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is one of our favorite white wines so it is always included at our Thanksgiving table.  Chenin is made in diverse styles so look for a dry Chenin Blanc to pair with turkey or yams.  Leo Steen Saini Valley Dry Creek Valley Chenin Blanc is a fantastic deal for under $20.  Sweeter styles can be a nice pairing with Thanksgiving desserts.

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2015 Marcel Lapierre Morgon

I love Burgundy but it is an incredibly expensive habit to keep.  When I want a beautiful Burgundian-like wine and don’t want to shell out the big bucks, I uncork a bottle of Marcel Lapierre Morgon.  I just tried the recently released 2015 vintage and was drawn into the romance of this wine yet again.

Marcel Lapierre Morgon
Marcel Lapierre Morgon

Aromas of wildflowers and cherries lead into flavors of cherries, violets, raspberries, and cloves.  This Cru Beaujolais also has waves of acidity that brighten the smooth, juicy palate. With a few hours of air, the flavors really harmonize.  Approachable now but still a baby so I would give it a couple of years if you have the patience.  One of the best values in wine, year after year!  (13.5% alcohol, $30)

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Autumn in Sonoma

Harvest has finally wrapped up so now we have more time to take advantage of everything the fall season has to offer!  As this was our first totally open weekend since the beginning of August, we decided to explore the coast and fall foliage in the vineyards.

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We have had a couple of days of rain over the last week so the coast is electric green!  If you have never had a chance to explore the coast of Sonoma and Marin Counties, you need to put it on your list.  Endless miles of beautiful coastline and breathtaking views!

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One of the best parts of heading to the coast are all of the amazing seafood restaurants.  This weekend, we stopped by Fishetarian for lunch.  They have the most delicious fish tacos in Norcal as well as an array of fresh, local seafood.

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We rounded out the weekend exploring the changing foliage in Healdsburg.  Ridge Vineyards‘ property is putting on a magnificent display of color right now.  An awesome way to wrap up Sunday afternoon!

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Harvest 2016 Update

Harvest has been incredibly busy so I haven’t had a chance to write very often.  Here are some pics from McDowell’s Cabernet Franc harvest.  Cheers and I will be back to regular posts soon!

Early morning before harvest in Chalk Hill
Early morning before harvest in Chalk Hill

 

Cabernet Franc is in and ready to process!
Cabernet Franc is in and ready to process!

 

The romance of foot stomping grapes (it is not as easy as it looks!)
The romance of foot stomping grapes (it is not as easy as it looks!)

 

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Unti Barbera 2013

The longer I live in Sonoma, the longer my list of favorite wineries in Sonoma County grows.  Unti Vineyards easily makes the list and is located on Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg.  They craft well-made wines and throw some pretty fantastic release parties!  Brandon and I attended their last release party and picked up some wine to bring home with us.  Among our stash was a bottle of Unti Barbera that we decided to uncork last week.

Unti Barbera 2013
Unti Barbera 2013

Unti Barbera is inky in color and opens with cherry and floral aromatics.  Although the wine is a bit hefty in alcohol, it is relatively balanced on the palate.  There are bright notes of cherries, plum, and spice surrounded by hints of earth.  Drink young and pair with foods like sausage pizza!  ($30, 14.7% alcohol)

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Harvest Has Begun in Wine Country!

Harvest has officially begun throughout Sonoma and Napa and I am excited to say that we are working on wine project of our own.  I will post more details as the season comes to an end (you can also sign up for McDowell Cellars’ mailing list here), but here are some awesome pictures to enjoy in the meantime!

Early morning in vineyards harvesting Chenin Blanc
Early morning in the vineyards harvesting Chenin Blanc

 

Brandon foot stomping the Chenin
Brandon foot stomping the Chenin

 

Working in the winery...when the big press breaks, you have to go old school!
Working in the winery…when the big press breaks, you have to go old school!

 

Taking a break to celebrate at Whetsone Wine Cellars
Taking a break to celebrate at Whetstone Wine Cellars

 

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Exploring the Wines of Troon Vineyard

Troon Vineyard sits in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley, surrounded by the beauty of the Siskiyou Mountains.  Troon was founded in 1972 and focuses on producing wines that are well-suited for the terroir of Applegate Valley.  With indigenous yeast fermentations and responsible farming practices, the wines of Troon showcase pure fruit and vibrant flavors.

Troon Vineyard Wines

I had the opportunity to taste through several of Troon’s latest releases and was impressed with their creative blends.  They have done a fantastic job of highlighting lesser know varieties and unusual co-ferments.  Here are my tasting notes from a few of the standouts in Troon’s lineup:

Troon Vineyard 2014 Longue Carabine

Troon’s Longue Carabine is my favorite wine from their 2014 lineup.  It is a co-fermented blend of 38.5% Vermentino, 33% Viognier, 27% Marsanne, and 1.5% Roussanne.  The dry wine captivates the palate with tastes of ripe peaches, zesty citrus, nutmeg, and apricots.  There is also a backbone of acidity and lush texture that makes this an excellent wine to pair with shellfish!  (12.5% alcohol, $29)

Troon Vineyard 2014 Vermentino Sauvignon Blanc

This blend of 80% Vermentino and 20% Sauvignon Blanc offers fresh tastes of white peaches, jasmine, orange blossom, limestone, and green apples.  Once again, Troon nails it with zippy acidity and a pleasing texture.  A balanced and refreshing wine easy to enjoy on its own or paired with dishes like seafood and grilled chicken.  (12.5% alcohol, $24)

Troon Vineyard 2013 M*T Reserve 

Troon’s M*T Reserve is a rich and complex blend of Malbec and Tannat from their estate vineyards.  The wine opens with intense aromas of cranberries, dried herbs, and black pepper.  The palate is tannic with rich flavors of blackberries, tobacco, lavender, and leather.  This wine is young so I would suggest decanting or holding for a couple of years.  An excellent pairing with rack of lamb or other savory meats. (13.7% alcohol, $50)

*Media Samples

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Château Coupe Roses La Bastide Minervois 2013

I was cruising the aisles of Whole Foods looking for an inexpensive wine to pair with burgers and was pleasantly surprised to see a bottle of Château Coupe Roses La Bastide Minervois on the shelf for $14.  I have uncorked many bottles of this blend of old-vine Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah in the past and was pretty impressed with the QPR.  The wine hails from the Languedoc region of France and the family-run winery adheres to minimalist winemaking philosophies.

Chateau Coupe Roses Minervois La Bastide
Chateau Coupe Roses Minervois La Bastide

 

This is a fun and funky wine.  Fresh tastes of plum, dark berries, tar, and anise are surrounded by earthiness and bright acid.  Not too complicated yet far more satisfying than a lot of other wines in the same price range.  Perfect for grilling and just light enough for warm, summer nights! (13% alcohol)

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