A Great Weekend Wine- Estrella Creek 2004 Petite Sirah

It’s Friday evening and it’s been a really long week.  The first thing on my mind is relaxing and having a nice glass of wine (along with catching up on this week’s episode of Top Chef Masters).  Estrella Creek Wines generously sent me a bottle of their 2004 Petite Sirah as a sample to review.  I did a little research and this vintage received a couple of silver medals in 2009 so I am interested to see how it has developed into 2011. 

About the Wine- From the Winery

Estrella Creek is a family run winery in Paso Robles that began in 1977.  This wine is from their 4M Vineyards and is 100% Petite Sirah.  It was harvested in Oct. 2004 and bottled in December of 2006.  The alcohol content is 14.1% and the wine retails for $29. 

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

The wine pours a dark ruby.  It has a big, sweet nose of ripe blackberries.  It’s a very luscious smell that immediately makes me believe this is going to be a full-bodied, flavorful wine…and I am right on.  This wine is anything but “petite” (I just got it out and I promise I won’t use this overused saying about petite sirah again).  The Estrella Creek tastes of ripe blackberry, plum, and cocoa with just a hint of pepper at the end.  The tannins are smooth and refined.  This is a great effort by Estrella Creek.  It has developed nicely since bottling and is ready to drink now.  I think it’s a good buy and it won’t disappoint, especially if you are looking for a fruit forward wine.  I think I may even grab another bottle for myself…

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Victor Hugo 2007 Petite Sirah

Petite Sirahs are becoming part of my daily routine and I am definitely not complaining.  Today I received a bottle of 2008 Petite Sirah from Victor Hugo Winery as a sample.  Victor Hugo Winery is a small, family winery in Paso Robles.  Vic started the winery in 1985 and continues to run it with his wife and family.  I don’t think I have ever had the opportunity to try their wines so I am ready to get started.

About the Wine- From the Winery

This wine is 100% Petite Sirah grown in Paso Robles.  It was harvested in Sept-Oct. 2007 and aged for 25 months in American Oak Barrels.  The wine has a 13.8% alcohol content and retails for $22.

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Victor Hugo Petite Sirah pours an intense plum color.  The wine has a nose of berries with a heavy hit of spicy clove.  It definitely has a distinct nose as compared to the other Petite Sirahs I have reviewed.  The clove shows up immediately in taste as well.  This full bodied wine also has notes of black licorice, oak, and blackberry.  It ends with plenty of tannins and a dry, spicy finish.  The Victor Hugo is unique Petite Sirah.  If you are looking for a whimpy, fruity wine, this isn’t for you.  This definitely caters to those who love big, bold, and spicy flavors.

My Wine Rating: B

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A Wednesday Night Petite Sirah

Pedroncelli Winery is a family run winery in Geyserville founded in 1927.  They graciously sent me a bottle of their 2008 Dry Creek Valley Family Vineyards Petite Sirah as a sample.  Previous vintages have received some attention from Wine Enthusiast and other critics so I was ready to see if this $15 bottle was still a good buy.

About the Wine- From the Winery

This wine was grown in the Dry Creek Valley in a vineyard that has been planted with Petite Sirah since the early 1900’s.  The wine is 96% Petite Sirah and 4% Zinfandel with a 13.8% alcohol content.  It was aged in American and French Oak for 16 months. (For more information see http://www.pedroncelli.com )

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Pours deep plum, with a nose of blueberry, cocoa, a little bit of cinnamon.  It has a little bit of a less powerful nose than other Petite Sirahs I have tried.  The wine has a bit of a thick feel in the mouth with tastes of blackberries and has some tartness that I think could even out with some decanting.  I am actually going to let the bottle breathe for a bit and come back to it…

I am trying the bottle again a couple of hours later and notice a huge difference.  The tartness has evened out to show much more smoothness with some nice tannins and a little spice in the finish.   In keeping in mind that this bottle retails for $15, I think it is a solid Petite Sirah.  Obviously, if you would like to spend an extra $10+ you could get a lot more depth but I have definitely had some real duds for this price point.  The Pedroncelli is definitely better than the rest of the pack at $15.  I would try a bottle if I were you 🙂

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Wednesday Wine Pick- 2009 Leonhardt Zinfandel

I stopped in Trader Joe’s a few days ago when their wonderful employee, Deb, who is in charge of their wine section, pointed out the Leonhardt 2009 Dry Creek Valley Reserve Zinfandel. She told me that for $9.99 I should definitely give it a try as she and many other were enjoying it. I did a little research and the wine retails for $48 on their website…seemed a little crazy that it was selling for under $10 at TJ’s. The bottle describes it as big and intense with cherry, chocolate, black pepper, vanilla, and clove notes. The wine is 85.26% Zinfandel and 14.8% Petite Sirah with 14.5% alcohol content.

The wine pours a very nice plum color and has a very subtle nose for a Zinfandel. It has aromas of cherry, vanilla, and pepper. I decided to decant the wine for a bit to let it develop. The wine is medium-bodied with notes of cherry, raspberry, and cocoa with a spicy finish.  This Zinfandel seems very young and could use some time in the cellar to mature. The Leonhardt is not a bold and intense Zinfandel but it is enjoyable overall. It is definitely not a wine I would spend $48 for but for $9.99 I recommend that you head down to TJ’s and grab a bottle for your Wednesday wine of the week. Let me know what you think if you decide to try it!

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McCay Cellars 2008 Petite Sirah

McCay Cellars generously sent me a bottle of their newly released 2008 Petite Sirah as a sample from the winery.  McCay Cellars is a small family winery in Lodi, CA.  They have made quite a good name for themselves as a boutique winery and recently took home 8 medals for all 8 wines they entered into the Finger Lakes International 2011 Wine Competition.  Upon reading the results of the competition, I was excited to try their new Petite Sirah. 

About the Wine- From the Winery

This wine is grown in sandy loam soil in Lodi, CA.  The wine was barreled 10/21/08 and bottled on 2/25/11.  It is 100% Petite Sirah and has a 15.7% alcohol content.  The bottle retails for $24.00. (for more information check out their website at www.mccaycellars.com )

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

It’s a cloudy Easter afternoon (a rarity in Southern California) as I sit down to open the bottle.  The wine pours a deep plum and has a sweet, fruity and nose with hints of spice.  You can appreciate aromas of blackberry and blueberry.  This Petite Sirah definitely benefits from some decanting time.  The nose sweetens and the wine develops as an hour or two passes.  The wine tastes of prune and tart blackberry and ends with a spicy finish.  The wine has smooth tannins and the sweetness of the prune lingers after the spice in the finish.   A little less complex and developed than the some pricier and older vintages but for $24.00, I think is it a great buy.  I imagine this wine could be cellared for a bit to allow it to mature fully but there are also plenty of good reasons to drink it now.  This wine is giving me a good excuse to avoid the cloudy day and relax while I enjoy the rest of the bottle.

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A Great Way to Start My Petite Sirah Tasting Journey

I graciously received a bottle of 2007 Field Stone Staten Family Reserve Petite Sirah as a sample from the winery.  I have dabbled in Petite Sirah but I haven’t really tried as many as I would like.  Field Stone is a family-run winery in Healdsburg.  According to Field Stone, this Petite Sirah was grown from a rocky, red, clay soil vineyard in the Alexander Valley planted in 1894.  I haven’t visited the winery yet but it is definitely on the list since small, family vineyards in Sonoma happen to have been some of my favorite tasting experiences in the past.

About the Wine- From the Winery

The wine is described as big, bold, and expressive with flavors of black cherries, ripe plums, and tart blueberries.  The wine was harvested September 20, 2007 and was aged for 18 months in American Oak.  The alcohol content is 14.9% and there were 633 cases produced.  Retails for $35.00 (for more info check out the site at www.fieldstonewinery.com )

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

The wine pours a beautiful dark, deep purple.  It has a nose of sweet blackberries, vanilla, and a little spice…the aroma makes you want to taste the wine.  The wine has a big berry and fruit taste filled with cherries, blackberries, and tart plum.  It would pair great with a nice rack of lamb or roasted duck.  The tannins are young but smooth and the wine has a nice long finish.  I would recommend decanting the bottle for a couple of hours to let the tannins develop.   In my opinion, this wine is worthy of drinking now and would also be a great wine to cellar for a few years.  I really enjoyed this wine and it is an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a bold and flavorful Petite Sirah.

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A Very Brief Intro in Petite Sirah

Petite Sirah…a wine I have heard more and more about recently but have had only little experience with.  I love wine but I am by no means a wine expert.  I am going to be doing a pretty extensive tasting soon so I decided to get out there and explore a little more about the origin and history of Petite Sirah.  From what I have gathered, Petite Sirah comes from Durif and has a rich history in California.  There are some other varieties but Durif is the dominant variety.  This was up for debate at one time but now seems to be an established fact.

One of the biggest questions I had was whether or not there is any relation between Petite Sirah and Syrah.  I went to a great website to explore a little more http://www.psiloveyou.org/about/about-petite-sirah/ .  The folks at PS I Love You are the leading Petite Sirah advocates and do a great job educating the public and promoting Petite Sirah.  According to their site, Petite Sirah is the offspring of Syrah and although they are distinct, they are very closely related.  Check out their site for an extensive history and plenty of other great information about Petite Sirah.

I am excited to taste some different vintages and labels.  Petite Sirah is versatile so I should have plenty of different tasting experiences to share.  Keep posted for the reviews and let me know about your favorite Petite Sirahs!

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Wednesday Wine Pick- Hogue Genesis 2007 Meritage

Every week I am going to try and recommend a mid-week wine that is priced under $15.  It’s going to be an everyday wine that you can pick up somewhere like Trader Joe’s in hopes that it gives you a lot of good wine for an affordable everyday wine price.  Maybe it will even help relieve your mid-week stress:)

This week I am opening up a bottle of Hogue Genesis 2007 Meritage from Columbia Valley.  I picked it up last week at Trader Joe’s as it was on display in the wine section.  This Meritage is a blend of 49% Merlot, 44% Cab, 6% Malbec, and 1% Cab Franc.   This Washington wine is priced at $7.99 and has a 14.4% alcohol content.

The wine pours dark garnet and has aromas of dark cherry, blackberry and earthy spice.  It tastes of cherries, oak, and spice and finishes long with nice, smooth tannins.  I enjoyed the Genesis Meritage and I think it’s a nice buy for $7.99.  I am not sure how long Trader Joe’s will have this wine but I recommend picking up a bottle while it’s in stock.  Let me know what you think of my Wednesday Wine pick.  Cheers!

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Easter Brunch Recipe- Baked French Toast

This is an easy recipe that I usually make Easter morning and it is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  This recipe is great, especially when you have company joining you, because all the prep work is done the night before.  I have shared this recipe with family and friends and they have all come back with rave reviews. Try to use a freshly baked french loaf, high quality maple syrup, and organic vanilla extract…it makes a huge difference in the flavors!  Serve it with mimosas…a nice dry Cava will pair the best with OJ and this dish.  Let me know what you think if you have a chance to make it!

Ingredients

  • 1 french loaf
  • ¼ stick of butter softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbs maple syrup
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • A dash of cinnamon (to taste)

 Directions

  • Cut bread into ¾ inch slices
  • Spread butter evenly on tops of bread,
  • Arrange in ungreased pan butter side up
  • Whisk all ingredients together
  • Pour the ingredients mixture over bread
  • Soak overnight (most if not all of the mixture will soak into the bread by morning)
  • Bake for 30-40min at 350 degree and serve with maple syrup on the side!
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Another great tasting experience- Hope and Grace Wines

My husband and I were strolling through Yountville after enjoying a great meal at Bouchon and we ran across Hope and Grace’s tasting room.  The place was beautifully adorned with artwork so we decided to browse around and give their wines a try.  Cindy was kind enough to give us a brief history of Hope and Grace and introduce us to their wine collection.  The winemaker, Charles Hendricks, had worked with many wineries in Napa and Sonoma before decided to start Hope and Grace (which he named after his daughter).  He still consults for other wineries but has been able to develop some great wines for himself.  The tasting fee was $10 for the regular releases and $20 for the limited releases) We really enjoyed their reds, in particular the 2008 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir and the 2007 Malbec  from Oakville.

 

This past weekend we decided to open the Santa Lucia Pinot Noir with some friends.  The wine gives off aromas of berries and cherries with some notes of spices.  The wine pours a medium to medium light red and has a 14.2% alcohol content.  The berries and cherry are also noted in the taste, but it is a very well balanced pinot so the fruit is not overwhelming or too sweet.  The wine finished smooth and silky.  It is really a wonderful pinot and was priced well at $46.  Everyone tasting really enjoyed the wine. 

 If you happen to be in Yountville, definitely stop by the tasting room.  You can sip on fantastic wine while enjoying their wonderful displays of art.  I hope to make a visit up their soon so I can review some of their other vintages!

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