Sheldon Wines 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

When I reach for wine, a glass of Cabernet is generally not my first choice because I am not a huge fan of oak-filled, big alcohol wines.  When I arrived at Sheldon Wines in Santa Rosa last week, my stereotypes disappeared and my eyes were opened to their elegant, balanced 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon.  Sheldon Wines is a micro-winery started by husband and wife Tobe and Dylan Sheldon.  They are awesome, laid back people who will warmly welcome you to have fun with them in their tasting room.  Their wines are sustainably farmed with minimal intervention in the wine making process.  The results are bright, graceful wines that reflect their passion for remaining true to the grape!

Tasting Notes

Sheldon’s Cabernet from Sonoma County has a bouquet of red fruit, tobacco and delicate spices.  Layers of flavors emerge from the palate.  There are notes of plum, tobacco, cedar, and black pepper with floral undertones.  There are also hints of licorice and currants. Graceful and balanced…I might just have to drink Cabernet more often! (13.2% alcohol, $32)

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Beautiful Rhones From Two Shepherds

I spent last week tasting my way through many wines in both Napa and Sonoma.  While I definitely found a few noteworthy bottles I want to share with you, I am starting off with my favorite find of the trip…Two Shepherds. 

William Allen is the winemaker and man behind Two Shepherds.  He is also a wine writer and creator of the Simple Hedonisms wine blog.  Two Shepherds exclusively features minimally manipulated Rhone varietals.  Although Two Shepherds first vintage was released only last year, the wines are beautiful and expressive.  William’s passion for Rhones shone through as we tasted his entire lineup. 

I honestly enjoyed each one of his wines.  Some of the wines need a little more time in the bottle to mature, but they are sure to age very well.  Following are tasting notes for the Grenache Blanc and GSM Blend.  If they sound like wines that fit your palate, do yourself a favor and order a few bottles.  (By the way, a membership to “The Flock”, Two Shepherd’s wine club, would make an excellent Christmas gift for any wine lover!)

Two Shepherds 2011 Grenache Blanc (Santa Ynez Valley)

Bright and lively with aromas of citrus and green apple.  Racing acidity and flavors of pear, melon, lime and kiwi make this a wine I could sip any time.  Pair with shellfish or soft cheeses. (13.8% alcohol, $24)

Two Shepherds 2010 GSM Red Blend (Russian River Valley)

The nose has notes of raspberry, strawberry, and hints of sweet tobacco.  The wine is unfiltered and unfined with elegant tastes of red berries, tobacco, and black pepper.  Round, soft tannins and bright acidity make this blend a great match grilled meats.  ($13.8% alcohol, $32)

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Back to Reality…

Sorry for the lapse in posts but I just spent that last 5 days in Napa and Sonoma!  I had a wonderful time and found some amazing new wines, new restaurants, and also revisited some old favorites.  Stay tuned for some new posts this week and enjoy some pics from our trip!

Beautiful vineyards in Sonoma!


My favorite new wine find…Two Shepherds!


Delicious seafood stew at Hog Island Oyster Co.


A Thanksgiving picnic at one of the only wineries open on Thanksgiving Day…V. Sattui
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Thanksgiving Wine Pick – Pennywise 2011 Pinot Noir

If you are searching for a wine that pairs nicely with your Thanksgiving meal, won’t empty your wallet, and is easy to find, look no further than Pennywise 2011 Pinot Noir.  It can easily be picked up at stores like World Market and is one of the best American Pinots I have tasted for under $15. 

Tasting Notes

Pennywise Pinot Noir comes from California grapes and pours a ruby color in the glass.  The nose has bright aromas of cherries and strawberries while the palate is light and full of red fruit. Sweet tastes of plums, cherries, and vanilla are followed with lingering notes of strawberries.  Smooth, easy to sip, and perfect with turkey!  ($11, 13.5%)

My Wine Rating – B

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Mini-Review – Domaine Sainte-Eugenie Corbières 2010

If you never pick up a wine or two from Languedoc, you might be missing out.  The South of France offers some incredible wines for very reasonable prices.  I just had the chance to try Domaine Sainte Eugenie Corbières 2010.  It is a delicious blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah that retails for under $13. 

This balanced wine is loaded with tastes of bright, red fruit.  Interwoven with the cherries, cranberries, and raspberries are tastes of anise and sweet spices.  Pair with roasted duck or burgers and you can’t go wrong!  (B, 13.5%)

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Weekend Wine and Food Pairing – Sparkling Wine and Oysters!!!

There are many things I love about fall…football, cooler weather, and harvest are among them.  Another part of the fall that I always look forward to is entering into prime oyster season.  Oysters have been a quintessential part of the cooler months for me since I was a child.  Growing up by the coast in South Carolina, my family would have oyster roasts and also visit our favorite restaurant where we would go and order entire bushels and eat until our fingers couldn’t shuck oysters any longer (I can’t wait to go home for Christmas for this reason alone!). 

Pairing wine with oysters can be challenging but there is one pairing you can’t go wrong with…Sparkling Wine.  It is also a festive pairing for holiday parties.  Here are a couple of suggestions at different price points:

Saint-Hilaire Brut Blanquette De Limoux

2010 Saint-Hilaire Brut Blanquette De Limoux is an incredible value as it retails for around $12.  The nose has notes of baked bread and citrus.  There are tastes of lemon, lime, and honeysuckle with mineral undertones.  A perfect pairing with oysters! (B+, $12)

 2005 Agrapart Mineral Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut

If you want to splurge on a nice bottle of Champagne to pair with your oysters, I highly recommend 2005 Agrapart Mineral Blanc de Blancs.  Amazing tastes of citrus, peach, and racing minerality.  Lively acidity and a lengthy, complex finish make this one of my favorite recent finds for a special occassion…especially if oysters are involved!  (A, $68)



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Mini-Review – Beronia Tempranillo 2009

After taking a sip of the nicely priced Tempranillo, I knew I wanted to share it with you guys.  Beronia Tempranillo comes from the Rioja region of Spain and, in my opinion, is a really terrific find from the region. 

The nose has aromas of dark berries and cedar.  Flavors of black cherries, plums, and a hint of anise compose the wine’s silky palate.  Supple tannins and a long finish make this an incredible sipper for under $15!  Pair with lamb chops or seafood paella.  (B+)

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Mini-Review – Bernard Tornay “Carte d’Or” Brut Champagne

Since we are heading into the holiday season (I can’t believe it is already November!), I want to start featuring some wines that are perfect for your holiday gatherings.  I had a Champagne over the last week that really stood out as a great find for the price.  Bernard Tornay “Carte d’Or” Brut Champagne is a fabulous buy if you are looking for a delicious sparkler and don’t want to drain your wallet.

This bubbly has aromas of red berries, hazelnuts, and fresh-baked bread.  The creamy palate features tastes of cherries and citrus with notes of bread and lively acidity.  A solid Champagne that pairs well with soft cheeses, oysters, or as an aperitif!  (B+, $35)


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Not Just Another Celebrity Wine – Jeff Gordon 2008 Joie de Vivre

Last week, I participated in a live tasting on Twitter with Jeff Gordon Cellars.  The winery sent me a bottle of Jeff Gordon 2008 Joie de Vivre and, to be honest, I really didn’t expect much.  I pretty much brushed it off as a “celebrity wine” and assumed it would just be a so-so bottle from Napa.  To my surprise, the wine was outstanding.  Joie de Vivre is the flagship of Jeff Gordon Cellars and it definitely earns the title.  It is a blend of Cabernet from vineyards in Spring Mountain, Merlot from Calistoga, and Syrah from Yountville.  The blend makes for a beautifully structured, delicious wine.

Tasting Notes

In the glass, Joie de Vivre pours a rich, garnet color and has earthy aromas of dark fruit, spices, and smoke.  The palate has layers of rich flavors.  There are tastes of blackberries, black cherries, currants, and espresso.  There are also notes of plum and vanilla with a lingering, smoky finish.  Allow Joie de Vivre to decant for a couple of hours and enjoy…it isn’t hard to do! (SRP $61)

My Wine Rating – A-

Food Pairing Samples – Pair with filet mignon, rack of lamb, or roasted duck. 

*Media Sample

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