Thursday, June 28, 2012

Canonballing into Summer!

Summer is here!

Canonball Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Had a better taste of it this time! This had notes of sweet ruby red grapefruit along with honeydew melon and cantaloupe. Well balanced wine with good fresh acidity. Crisp and easy to drink. Great for summer! OOOo

We made Scrimp Scampi with large Tiger Prawns cooked with garlic butter and sauce made with Ponti Vermouth lemon juice and zest. The pairing was great especially the combination of scrimp and lemon. Yummy!

I tasted this before for Showdown Saturday!

I love the Cannonball philosophy.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Napa Valley Auction.

More than three weeks ago, the exclusive Auction Napa Valley saw a gathering of celebrities and guests from around the globe at the Chappellet Vineyard and Winery, raising over $8 million dollars for healthcare and youth development.

Here is the official website. 

Check out the Ball-er parties! Yes someone brought their pet leopard.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wear Your Wine

Honey ceramic pot
Do you love wine? How would you like to wear it? Well, technically, it will be the happy bacteria that eats wine you will be wearing. Here is the article.

I have been experimenting with making wine vinegar at home for a month now and the bacteria that occurs is the one I use. The gooey globs are called the Mother of Vinegar. I doubt I want to let the goo dry on me. It smells like nail polish. Stinky but will be yummy in two to three months.

Mother is alive!
It is actually a pretty simple process. The tough parts are the smell and not getting it infected. I started it using Bragg's unfiltered apple vinegar (with the Mother) in a ceramic pot and added leftover red wine a cup at a time for three weeks. By the third week, a gooey glob had formed on the surface of the concoction. Now it is just a matter of time and feeding before there is delicious homemade red wine vinegar!

*If it is successful that is. I will update everyone!

San Diego County

The results are out for San Diego County fair Wine Competition 2012!

Commercial Wine

WINE OF THE YEAR: Fallbrook Winery, 33 Degree N Rosato
Dessert Wine: Christopher Cameron Vineyards/ Costa Azul Wines, Late Harvest Zinfandel 
Fortified Wine: Deer Park Escondido, Merlot Port 
Rosé Wine: Fallbrook Winery, 33 Degree N Rosato 
White Wine: Fallbrook Winery, Chardonnay
Red Wine: Gloriosa Vineyard, Zinfandel 
Fruit Wine: San Pasqual Winery, Summer Vine Passion Fruit Wine

Winery to note (Those awarded double golds or many golds):
Fallbrook Winery
Christopher Cameron Vineyards/ Costa Azul Wines (Carlsbad but sourced from Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma- not really local)
Gloriosa Vineyard (Stocked at San Diego Wine Co and WholeFoods La Jolla!)
San Pasqual Winery (Has a tasting room off hwy 5 close to Morena!)

Homemade Wine Competition

Christinia Taramasco (Dessert/Late Harvest)
Most Unique: David Nichols (Fruit, Non-Stone Sweet) 
Best of San Diego County: David Didier (Syrah)

Doug Barnes (Sauvignon Blanc) 
Pete Buffo (Fruit, Non-Stone Dry) 
Tricia Hoffman (Blended Red Rhone) 
Paul Mattucci (Zinfandel/Primitivo) 
Christinia Taramasco (Dessert/Late Harvest)

Many of the home winemakers are  associated with Curds and Wine! Guess it will be where I begin if I ever venture into making some wine myself! Can't wait!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


New taste bud! Enjoy Spain!
In the raffle from the Cakebread tasting at Wine Encounter, I won Donnafugata tasting. The room was packed, which was not expected because I did not know who Donnafugata was. Apparently plenty of San Diegans did! Silvia, the North America representative was there to talk more about the wines and he was a great storyteller. According to him was the first tasting of Donnafugata in San Diego. Wooohoo!

Donnafugata is a Sicilian wine producer with 150 years of experience. Donnafugata, meaning woman in flight, refering to Queen Maria Carolina who took refuge in the winery estate, which was so named because of the Sicilian author G. Tomasi di Lampedusa in his most famous work, The leopard. This winery is definitely devoted to great wines with literature interwined with each bottle. 
Land in Literature
Literally translates as the land in literature. It is the Roman name given to city of Entella where the vines are. It is made from mainly Catarratto, which I have not tried this grape before so it was fun (yeay! New varietal to the Quest List)! This wine had plenty of bouquet. Light and floral, this was smooth and almost seems like it has a touch of cream like freshly churned cream with infused flowers like lavender. Yummy! And it is decently priced! OOOo

I want it!
This dry style Zibbibo (Quest List : Muscat d'Alexanderie from Pantelleria - The ancient Cossyra, just 60km east of the Tunisian coast) named for Daughter of the Wind. It used to be conquered by the Arabs, who named the island Bent El Riah (Daughter of the Wind) in Arabic. These vines were trained in extremely low bush to protect them from the strong winds on the island. 

This wine has the most wonderful aroma! Full floral bouquet with juicy longan, peaches and rose syrup. Probably the best in terms of aroma. The taste however was a little disappointing after smelling it. It was not good tasting with a little soapiness and bitter taste. OOo

Silvia convinced me by saying it pairs very well with spicy food. So perfect with the food pairing, I will enjoy it more, especially with such an outstanding aroma! The label is of a mermaid for the mermaid poem by G. Tomasi di Lampedusa.

This is the last name of Angelica from the book-made-into-movie The leopard (More accurately The Serval) by G. Tomasi di Lampedusa. This light-medium bodied wine is young, reflecting the character from the literature. Toasty and juicy, this wine had hints of spice with dark fruitiness. Well balanced with soft tannins and good acidity,  it definitely needs more time and has plenty of potential. OOOo

Prince Tancredi
Named after Prince Tancredi in the leopard, this is a fairly matured wine compared to Sedara. Made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Nero d'Avola, this wet earthy wine has good juicy dark fruitiness with hints of dark chocolate, black currant and a touch of spice. Well balanced with smooth structured tannins, this will definitely pair well with red meat. OOOO

Also made from Zibbibo, but those that are destined to dry naturally in the sun and that made it through three selections! The name is derived from Bent El Riah, the Arabic name for the island of Pantelleria. Although they say that it means 'Son of the Wind', on the Wikipedia page for Pantelleria, it means Daughter of the Wind. Bent in Arabic definitely means Daughter so perhaps Donnafugata needs to tweak their description a little. Or perhaps Ben Rye in italian means Son of the wind? I doubt it though.

This dessert wine after triple selection is very smooth like one is having silky Mangosteens. The aroma even reminds me of mangosteen (how I miss the fruit!) and of raisins and apricot. It tasted of sweet plums, figs and honey with hints of toastiness (drying in the sun). Picked from the oldest vines, Ben Rye will be a great dessert! OOOO


This has been such a fun tasting! I really enjoyed how there is a story behind each wine, the label, the grapes etc. It takes the tasting experience to another level! Silvia has been wonderful in departing those stories onto us. I will definitely look out for their wine in the future. Donnafugata!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cakebread at Wine encounter

Full house
I was excited for this tasting at Wine Encounter since it was free (won an online raffle!) and they cost a little too much for my budget otherwise. Yeay!

Well known for their wines, it was no surprise the room was packed. Cakebread began with Jack Cakebread over 39 years ago when he was to photograph Napa for a book. That same day, he bought a piece of property in Rutherford and Cakebread cellars was born. They produced their first vintage in 1973-Chardonnay.

Bubbles with goat cheese, honey, strawberry and crackers
Gloria Ferrer Va de Vi Ultra Cuvee
Medium dry and bubbly, it reminds me of crisp Chinese pear. I just wish it was served colder. Classic pairing with strawberry, goat cheese drizzled with honey crackers that went wonderfully together as expected. OO
Salmon, capers, pine nuts, red onion, pesto on foccacia
Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Reminds me of a crisp white bordeaux with hints of minerality. Smooth with fresh acidity, this has notes of green apple, honeydew, grapefruit. The pairing was with salmon, pine nuts, capers, red onions and pesto on foccacia which was great except for the red onion. Brought out the freshness and minerality of the wine. OOOo

Chardonnay 2010
This was a wonderful chardonnay. It was toasty and smells like fresh butter. Lightly oaked, it was silky creamy smooth although it had a slightly bitter end. The sad part is that the food pairing of mango salsa salad was not that good. The red onion a little over powering and the tomatoes was too much acid that cut the smoothness. Otherwise, mango was a great idea! OOOo
Roast Turkey with stuffing for Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir 2009
This smells a little toasty and of cabbage. Light like a Pinot usually is, the balance was a little off with a lack of acid. The savory pairing of turkey with stuffing definitely helped bring out the juiciness of the wine, making it more flavorful alone. It was as if it just needed a pinch of salt. Probably easy to pair anything with this wine. OOo

Tri-Tip with mashed potatoes for Cabernet
Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
This was a wonderful wine with an intense note. This smells young with good hints of spice, plum, cantaloupe, fresh jam and earthiness. Plush and juicy, this full bodied layered wine had flavorful notes of boysenberry, dark berries with soft tannins along with some wood. Great balance with smooth finish. It is no wonder they are known for their Cabs. Delicious pairing with Tri-tip and mashed potatoes which was like yin and yang of fat and tannins. OOOO

Fun tasting with great food! I always enjoy my time at Wine Encounter. They have excellent personal service and try to make it fun for everyone (Rich clinging glass and doing raffles). I love how they make it a point to get to know you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Going Greek

Kyklos Moschofilero Voyatzis 2011

We made Orzo with olives, feta and parsley at home so when I saw this at wholefood, I could not resist getting it. 100% Moschofilero and my first Greek wine. Straw-hued, this had a good nose of roses bouquet (very floral) with a little green spices, pear and melon. Light bodied, It was fresh and tart of citrus and herbs along with hints of fruit sweetness and minerality. With an abv of 11%, it was pretty smooth. It paired very well with the orzo salad which really brought out the bouquet in the wine. Yummy! OOO

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hook and Ladder

Recently, we went to Proprietor's Reserve for a delicious night of food and Hook and Ladder wines. Here is the history behind Hook and Ladder. As promised, here are the wine reviews!

Russian River Valley Early Harvest Gewurztraminer 2010
Seared Scallop | Ginger Lime Beurre Blanc | Cilantro Garlic Gremolata

Smells of fresh lychee. This off dry Gewurzt has good acidity with juicy lychee and crunchy cantaloupe. Medium bodied, this had a slight bitter ends which reminds me of grape seed. The pairing of tart with lime was great and brought out the butter smoothness of both the scallop and wine. OOOo

Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2010
Green Apple | Prosciutto | Triple Cream Brie | Garlic Asiago Crostini | Pistachio Arugula Pesto

I could not tell what kind of Chardonnay they were trying to make. A more crisp European style or the buttery creamy Californian? This was not very buttery with a nose of pear. It was smooth but green apple tart. Apparently the oak barrels in which the Chardonnay goes through malo-lactic fermentation gets a little suntanning once in awhile according to Josh although I do not know how much that matters. The pairing highlighted the buttery smoothness of the wine which confirmed it Californian origins. OOO

Russian River Valley Zinfandel 2008
Sweet Potato Hash | Linquica | Red Bell Pepper | Red Onion | Manchego
We were told that this was the last of tipsy turvy 2008 vintage. There was hints of toasty caramel in the nose with lushious fruits. This plush Zin was fruit forward with plenty of berries. It was juicy as reflected in the high abv. It was not a good pairing which brought out the alcohol and damped out the juicy fruit although the food was great. OOo

Station Ten Zinfandel Blend 2008
Steak Chimichurri | Herbed Baby Greens | Roasted Red Pepper | Roasted Corn | Radish | Iberico Cheese

72% Zinfandel, 14% Petite Syrah, 8% Carignane, 6% Alicante Bouschet. The last grape being emphasized by Josh in the introduction. This had a smell of chocolate brownie with raspberry smell along with a more subtle cabbage. A little lighter than the previous Zin, this was toasty with hints of blueberries and a dry end. Decent pairing. OOo

Tillerman Cabernet/Cabernet Franc Blend 2009

Yucatán Style 18 Hour Pork Roast | Shallot Pumpkin Risotto | Shaved Parmesan

This is made from grapes from opposite opp chalk hill. This has leathery nose. Plush toasty wine with notes of meatiness, blueberry and plum. It is well balanced with nice layering complexity and a dry end. It was a good pairing with the best dish so far. The fats from the pork roast goes well with the tannins in the wine, making it seem softer. OOOo

Los Amigos Ranch Cabernet Franc 2009 (Winery Only!)
Coffee Rubbed Tri-Tip | Crème Fraiche Mashed Potatoes | Shitake Cabernet Reduction
  tannins fat

This smells of nail polish although the taste is entirely different. It was fruit forward, a little tart and vegetal. With obvious tannin structure, the end was dry and did not linger much. Again a good pairing of fat and tannins with the coffee rubbed tri-tip and the juicy sauce was a good complement. Probably one of the better Cab Franc I have had but then I have not had many. OOO

Russian River Valley Port 2008
We were given a complimentary Port that I could not taste very well after gobbling down all the chocolate. Oh well.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Proprietor's Reserve: Hook and Ladder

Yeay! Half-priced seats at Proprietor's Reserve once again for answering: What is a Tillerman in the context meant by Hook & Ladder? I didn't know at the time what the answer was but did a quick search and gave two answers: 

1) Hook and ladder refers to firetruck because that is what they carry and the Tillerman is the person who controls the ladder. (Another meaning refers to the play that was never meant to work but did years ago in NFL)

2) It is the position that Cecil De Loach (the founder) held as a SF firefighter! 

Both were correct! I was thrilled and proceeded to invite my date for the night. Happy day!

We were a little late as everyone was already seated but they had just started. As usual, they began by introduction of the winery, the winemaker Joshua (Cecil's grandson) and the food etc. Hook and Ladder began in 1970 when San Francisco firefighter Cecil De Loach and his wife Christine bought acres of old-vine Zinfandel in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. They began producing under their family name in 1975.

Here is the list of wine and food pairing! 

2010 Russian River Valley Early Harvest Gewurztraminer
Seared Scallop | Ginger Lime Beurre Blanc | Cilantro Garlic Gremolata

2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay
Green Apple | Prosciutto | Triple Cream Brie | Garlic Asiago Crostini | Pistachio Arugula Pesto

2008 Russian River Valley Zinfandel
Sweet Potato Hash | Linquica | Red Bell Pepper | Red Onion | Manchego

Happy taste buds
2008 Station Ten Zinfandel Blend
Steak Chimichurri | Herbed Baby Greens | Roasted Red Pepper | Roasted Corn | Radish | Iberico Cheese

2009 Tillerman Cabernet/Cabernet Franc Blend

Yucatán Style 18 Hour Pork Roast | Shallot Pumpkin Risotto | Shaved Parmesan

2009 Los Amigos Ranch Cabernet Franc (Winery Only!)
Surprise Port
Coffee Rubbed Tri-Tip | Crème Fraiche Mashed Potatoes | Shitake Cabernet Reduction
Complimentary Dessert
Mixture of chocolate for dessert with complimentary port!
It was quite the show by the time dessert was announced. Everyone was merry with extra pours and the Port that Josh brought. There were prizes for answering questions about the winery and I won a Hook and Ladder cap by putting my hand up lightning speed and answering what the Tillerman does (which I already knew from the email) and which way he turns! Great night with lovely company at Proprietor's as always.

Signed by Josh!
More about the wines later! 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Lamuri d'Almerita 2008

We bought a whole bunch of groceries and began cooking. Here is what we picked for the night.

Lamuri d'Almerita 2008
Reddish brown and opaque in color, this wine had a pretty incredible nose. It was earthy, toasty (like raisins dried under the sun), plush juicy fruits of ripe red cherry and cantaloupe with hints of dried Shitake mushrooms. At first sip, I thought it needed time to open up. But upon some decanting, the butterscotch, toasted caramel, plush juiciness just took over! Well balanced with smooth silky tannins, it had some spiciness going on with good full mouthfeel. Although there was a slight astringency from tannins at the end, it felt like I was tasting the grape seed which was an experience in itself. I was surprised to know that this was 100% Nero D'Avola (one of the indigenous grape varietal of Italy) because it was rather different from the one I tasted some time back. OOOO

Although the New York Steak/Filet Mignon was overcooked a little, both had mouthwatering juiciness that complement each other. Lamuri seem to have added layers of spices and juiciness to the steak, which made it even better. On the side, we had orzo salad with chickpeas (Or Garbanzo, which ever you prefer), black olives and feta cheese. This was alright with the wine compared with the steak.

I was gifted by a friend the same bottle so I cannot wait to have it again!

Fun fact: With two estates in the heart of Sicily, Tasca d'Almerita has been in the Regaleali family eight generations.

France vs Italy

Ms Avery and I won this free tasting the last time we were here for the Bookwalter wines. There were a couple of people there when we arrived. The people recognised us and knew what we were here for immediately. Great service!

Stemmari Pinot Grigio 2010 Sicilia Feudo Arancio
Produced in the West Sicily. This had a nose of lime, mineral and herbs. It was light, acidic with a slightly bitter end. Oo

E Guigal Cotes Du Rhone Blanc 2010
This stood out as being strangely soaping with a bitter end. Something might have been wrong with this particular bottle. O

I cannot say who won in this one, because I would not drink either anyway.

Santi Solane Valpolicella 2009 (Italy)
A blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara, this wine definitely adds to the Quest list! This smells a little of caramel and chocolate brownie. It was fruit forward with hints of blueberries. Well balanced with good tannins and a dry end. OOO

E Guigal Gigondas 2007 (France)
Grenache (60%), Mourvedre (30%), and Syrah (10%) predominate, similar to Chateauneuf Du Pape. This had savory notes of leather, meaty and earthiness with dirt. It was plum with a certain savory characteristics to it. Fulled bodied with not much residual, it was slightly vegetal and had a mineral finish. OOo

Italy won in this one! I wonder if it is a good comparison though.

We also had the Add-ons for $6 which was actually pretty expensive for two pours. However, since the rest was free, we were more than happy to pay.

Seghesio Barolo 2005 (Italy)
With hints of tobacco, cedar and rum, this wine was hot and bold with a burst of flavor of tropical fruits. It really reminded me of rum when I first smell it and that just does not seem right although it did have good flavors. Oo

E Guigal Chateauneuf Du Pape 2006 (France)
This smells like a typical Chateauneuf Du Pape. It was toasty with hints of meatiness and cabbage. It had good minerality with burnt caramel toffee with a train of fruitiness. Well balanced with silky tannins. Dry end. OOOo

Definitely prefer the French for this last one. France seem to be represented by E. Guigal founded by Etienne Guigal in 1946 in the ancient village of Ampuis. This was a great way to end Tuesday night.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Heartthrob Sangiovese

The second bottle after Bellchambers from the online deal.

Heartthrob Sangiovese 2009
The first thing I noticed was how lightly colored this wine was. It was transparent red, almost like rose syrup. There was plenty of fruit like cherry and cantaloupe along with sweet toffee. It definitely smells like it was going to be sweet. What struck me as I took a first taste was the acid and a lack of tannins. It felt like there was not any structure. It was just simple, light bodied with a tart red cherry flavor and not at all sweet. Oo

Monday, June 4, 2012

Wine Encounter: J. Bookwalter

Wine Encounter
Being a favorite winery of a taste bud from Washington, the J.Bookwalter tasting at Wine Encounter was not to be missed. Everyone was already seated and chatting when we arrived, we were promptly led to our tables that was all set up. It was cosy and relaxing place with good decors and lighting.

Soon the manager Rick got everyone's attention and began the tasting with a short introduction about the winery and to get to know the crowd. With each introduction, Rick went around pouring and showing the bottles. He was very friendly and professional. We were served decent bread and there was a light appertizers (cheese, grapes, salami) at the back of the store where there were plush sofas. We had to walk past fancy wooden wine lockers with names of the owners in gold. Some owners had great names.

Regular taste buds
Now a little about J Bookwalter. It began with second generation Jerry Bookwalter in 1983. Jerry graduated from UCDavis agricultural program in 1962 and worked on farms before getting involved with wine making. His son John joined in 1997 and enlisted Zelma Long, who is well known in the wine industry. A more recent addition Claude Gros hailing from Languedoc-Roussillon wine region of France, is a celebrated consultant winemaker for Bookwalter.

Getting serious about notes
No more lollygagging and on to the wine!

Smells of cantaloupe, papaya and bouquet. It was medium dry with tropical fruitiness. It had a metallic finish with residual sugar. OOO

A blend of Chardonnay and Viognier, this wine has a sweet floral nose. It had good flavors of apricot although it was a little too tart for me. It was a little buttery but not smooth. Tart finish with no cream. Interesting note: the two varietals were cofermented (usually blended after fermenting). OO

This had wonderful toasty aroma with currant, dark chocolate and spice. I was surprised that it was made with all stainless steel! Fruit forward with hints of pepper and good balance of tannins and acid. Medium bodied with dry lasting finish. Good wine that will be revisited. OOOO

A favorite
This is a bright merlot which made sense after you realise that 2009 was a warm vintage for Washington. Plenty of lush juicy fruits to go around. It was toasty with a little vanilla. A little too plush for me. The balance was questionable too with a little too much tannins for my liking. OOo

Good toasty notes of brownies with plum, walnut and earthiness. This lush wine was well balanced with juicy fruitiness and hints of toasted nuts and chocolate. I would love to revisit!  OOOO

I did not realise I already had this before in the Washington tasting at SD Wine Co! It was amazing to discover the similarities in my notes!

Overall, wonderful experience. We are definitely coming back! Especially since a taste bud and I won free tasting the following Tuesday for France vs Italy! YEAYAY!

We ended in five guys next door

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Jaffurs Winery

Here is the wine reviews as promised for Jaffurs Winemaker dinner at Proprietor's Reserve!

Thompson Vineyard Grenache Blanc 2009
A little spice on the nose. Light with good balance of acid. Sweet with a hint of lime. It went well with pairing, sweet and savory (smoke) yet still light. OOO
Honey Goat Cheese | Grilled Bosc | Prosciutto | Garlic Asiago Crostini
Santa Barbara County Viognier 2010
Rose and plenty of floral. The first thing I notice was it seems a little sweet for a Viognier. Has notes of papaya, longan and hints of orchids. It is a little acidic and it would be too much to drink a whole bottle. It was an amazing pairing and it worked really well with nuts. There were plenty of elements in the salad to make sure it went well. OOO
Seared Shrimp + Scallop | Herbed Baby Greens | Toasted Hazelnut | Grilled Yellow Squash | Red Bell | Brown Butter Vinaigrette

Santa Barbara County Grenache 2009
Smells like brandied cherries with good hints of cedar, herby green spice and earthiness. Fruit forward with obvious tannins but well balanced. It was dry with good plum flavor. The pairing brought out the sweetness. OOOo
Chicken Normandy | Green Apple | Dried Cherries |Toasted Pecan | Thyme Wild Rice

Santa Barbara County Syrah 2010
This had notes of cherry, smoky and raw tuna (weird but first thing that came to my mind). Fruit forward with a little pepper. It did not linger much. Decent standard Syrah but would not be amongst the best. Good pairing. OO
Braised Pork Roast | Boysenberry Syrah Reduction | Sweet Potato Mash | Sage Butter

Thompson Vineyard Petite Sirah 2010
Cabbage smelling. This was plush with plenty of berries with good hints of spice. Very tannic. Although it was great for the pairing. Tannins and fats along with spice. OOO
Grilled Chicken | Andouille | Crimini | Artichoke | Roasted Red Bell Pepper | Tarragon Cream | Crusty Bread