Sunday, August 26, 2012

San Diego Wine Country Festival II

More of San Diego Wine Country Festival! (If you missed the beginning, start here!)
More more more!
Hacienda de Las Rosas
Family owned Hacienda de Las Rosas is based in Ramona, with a tasting room in Historic Old Town. On top of the vineyard, they also own the Peruvian Paso Horse Ranch. Their motto "Drink Fine Wine ... Ride Fine Horses" reflects their love for both wine and horses. 

Primera Rosa
Hacienda de Las Rosas Primera Rosa Blend $20 (NV?)
Made from mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and some Petite Sirah, this was an interesting wine. First thing i notice was how it smells like a port! True to the smell, it was sweet! Also simple and acidic.  Oo

Witch Creek
Founded in 1993, Witch Creek Winery is based in Carlsbad, with another tasting room in Julian, East of San Diego. They outsource their grapes from three vineyards- Camillo Magoni in Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, Heringer Family Estates, Clarksburg, CA and Penman Springs Vineyard, Paso Robles, CA- specializing in italian varietals like Nebbiolo and Montepulciano.
Witch Creek Grenache
Witch creek Grenache 2010 $20 
This Grenache was light and simple, sweet with much residual sugar. It was not at all spiced and was flat with no acid. Wiggly face.  O
Happy faces!
Cool Cat Sparkling Wine
Witch Creek Cool Cat Sparkling Wine $10
This dry sparkler had good notes of peach although the bubbles were rough. It was refreshing though.  OO

I remember having their Barbera at SD County fair so I am glad I got to taste what else they have to offer. 
Wyatt Oaks Agrifolia Blend 2009 $22 
First release from newly founded Wyatt Oaks Winery! Owner/winermaker Gavin was there to pour. He was very friendly and eager to engage in a conversation about wine. He explained that the grapes were sourced from vineyards in Campo (Gloriosa Vineyard)!  

Agrifolia is a unfiltered blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot/Primitovo/Carignane. Not much tannin structure. It was a little on the sweet side with residual sugar. OO

Honestly, this was pretty decent for it being the first release! Keep it up Gavin! I am excited for your future releases! 
Summer Vine Habanero
San Pasqual Summer Vine Habanero Passion Fruit Wine $15 NV
Alcoholic passion fruit juice with a good kick! This is great for summer! This was one I actually thought about buying, especially with the good price point. OOO

San Pasqual Winery is located in Pacific Beach, San Diego, near Rose Canyon with a tasting room in La Mesa, east county. They outsource their grapes from Guadalupe Valley, Baja California and local San Diego vineyards. Looking forward to more from this winery!  
Rock Canyon Vineyards Zin
Rock Canyon Zinfandel 2010 $17
This was given a slanted faced. Sad Day O

Located in Alpine, Rock Canyon began in 2000. They had their Cabernet Sauvignon at the SD county fair. I am still not impressed although it is still early to tell. I was excited to see their Cabernet being offered at B's Keg Beer and Wine, East County. Cool! 

I did not venture to La Serenissima after SD county fair! Interesting enough, Alex McGeary, owner of Shadow Mountain Vineyards and Winery and president of San Diego Vintners Association, is the one who is managing the La Serenissima vineyards! 
Shadow Mountain
Shadow Mountain Vineyards and Winery is located in Warner Springs, CA 

Shadow Mountain Syrah
Shadow mountain Syrah 2008 $28
This had a great nose of peppery spice and fruit. This was well balanced with good tannin structure and notes of berries! OOO

Good wine to end with! *Sigh of relief* Now I want to get more of Shadow Mountain to compare so as to know that I was not biased because of the rest of the offerings at this festival. 

Another winery to note: Vinavanti, which I was sad I did not get to try, is based near me in Sorrento Valley! They outsource from Temecula, Santa Barbara and Paso Robles and believes in Wine made for Food. Love it!  

Yeay! Happy faces!
I had a great time tasting all the wines and getting a feel of the different wineries. I love it that the winemakers themselves are there to talk about what they have to offer. It is very exciting to have local wines! There is work to be done but I do believe that San Diego Vintners will have more to offer in the future! 

Very excited about tasting at the Winery locations!  
Time for dessert! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

San Diego Wine Country Festival I

Taste buds all ready!
Yeay! San Diego Wine Country Festival is finally here! Held at Bernardo Winery just South of Escondido, tickets were $25 per person for a festival wine glass, 10 tasters, baguette, free flow extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Not too shabby! 

Bernardo winery was hidden in a suburbia area, where street parking was plentiful. It was a small winery/vineyard with a pretty cottage complex completed with a gift shop, restaurant and sweet shop. Already bustling when we got to the entrance of the courtyard, we signed in and got our wine glass, little baguette and tasting card. The courtyard welcomed us with elegantly set up tables on the grass and perfect weather! It is going to be hot!
Perfect weather
All of us ran for the first chilled white to cool ourselves down from the ride. Surprisingly there was not many whites being offered. 

Belle Marie Gerwurztraminer 2011 $20
This was typical lychee smelling (Good sign!).  Decent although it was a little on the sweet side for a Gerwürzt with slightly too much residual sugar and there was not much fruit. Otherwise nice refreshing start. OOo

Belle Marie Winery, along with Chateau Dragoo is a big operation on the Escondido Wine and Culinary Campus North of Escondido, that is having its grand opening (free wine!) in September! Too bad I will be away! :(

Happy Taste Buds
Shadow Mountain Viognier
Shadow mountain Viognier 2011 $18 
There was not much bouquet in the nose like Viogniers usually have so that was  disappointing. There was a bitter note with little fruit. It was drinkable though especially with the hot weather so not too bad. Oo

Shadow Mountain Vineyards is a 3rd generation family estate founded in 1944, situated North east of San Diego on Sunshine Summit. 

Ms M at Old Coach Vineyard
Old Coach Showdown Reserve 2009 $25
Made from 90% Syrah and 10% Viognier, this was drinkable with good spices and a woody oaky note.  OOo
Old Coach Vineyards
Old Coach Vineyards is a relatively new family own estate in Poway that uses sustainable vineyard methods!

Happy Vintner
Old Coach Firestorm Reserve 2009 $22
Made from 65% Mouvedere, 30% Syrah and 5% Viognier. I gave it a wiggly smiley face because it smells and taste funny although it was still drinkable and not repulsive. There was a woody off note. OO


Dube Meritage 2009 $14
Good price but sad face. O

Dube Vineyards is located in Jamul in Deerhorn Valley, CA, east of San Diego. 

Sunshine Cuvee I

Sunshine Mountain Sunshine Cuvee I 2010 $32
I would not pay that much for this one. It was hot with plenty of alcohol to boost. Made of Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, there was a bitter note that was not enjoyable, probably from the tannins. O
Sunshine Mountain Booth

Sunshine Mountain Vineyard is owned by a couple with a passion, located in San Marcos, CA. 
Lenora Cab
Lenora Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 $24
This was sweet with plenty of residual sugar for a Cabernet Sauvignon! There were tannins present which is good. Overall, a simple cab with no layering and sweetness that probably should not be there. Oo

Lenora is a small winery that is part of the Ramona Vineyard Association (RVA).  
Nom Nom Nom

Cabernet Franc
Woof n Rose Cabernet Franc 2009 $24
Yay! Smiley face! This was a nice well balanced Cab Franc with notes of spice, fruits like plums. Good tannins too! No wonder this is their flagship! OOOo

Woof n Rose is a small family operated winery in Ramona, CA, also part of the RVA. 

Nom Nom
More to Come! Not bad so far! Hopefully more of these Wineries will join Snooth and such to make their name more known! Yeay San Diego wines! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Olson Ogden

Recently, we were at Proprietor's Reserve for the Winermaker Dinner with Olson Ogden Winery. Here are the Wine and Food (Just for you Erin!) reviews.

Scallop and Marsala Chicken starters
Stagecoach Vineyard Marsanne "Margaret's Mandate" 2009
Jumbo Scallop | Apple Smoked Bacon Wrap | Brie Cream

I have never had a Marsanne on its own so another to add to the Quest List! It had a oaky smell with not much fruit and that is reflected in the taste. Rich creamy buttery diacetyl with not much fruit. Medium bodied with good acidity, reminds me of a chardonnay. Smooth and enjoyable. 

The first was a scallop dish and it was so yummy! Scallop wrapped with bacon in brie cream sauce with a touch of nutmeg.  It was a great combination! The fatty goodness but yet not too overwhelmingly rich. The pairing was decent, which brings out a little of the bitter soapiness quality of the wine. It went well with the creamy brie, which i could keep eating forever. It was not too rich but very flavorful! Interesting wine. OOOo

Black Pepper Chicken Marsala | Grilled Portobello | Garlic Herb Ricotta | Asiago Crostini

A blend of mainly Counoise, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Marsanne, this Rhone style wine was simple and easy to drink. It had good acidity but not much tannins which is probably a result of the Counoise, which has thin skin and is know to not impart much tannins into wines. Light bodied, it was fruity with dark cherry and a little spice. A little on the dry side and easy to pair with, it was great with the marsala spiced chicken dish! The portobello has yummy juices which was much needed for the drier black pepper chicken. OOo

Salad and Pinot
Fresh Cut Corn | Frisse & Arugula Salad | Marcona Almonds | Seared Dragon Bean | Parmesan Blood Orange Vinaigrette

This was a decent Pinot Noir although not outstanding. Good cabbage/vegetal smell typical of Pinots, good tannins, well balanced with good fruitiness. This was paired with spicy salad with a sweet vinaigrette and sweet corn. The Dragon beans were mild tasting but it was nice to have something cooked/warm in the salad. The parmesan blood orange vinaigrette was a little too citrusy for the wine. The Marcona adds a good crunchy dimension to the salad. It was a delicious spicy salad with a good touch of sweet corn although i did not like the pairing. The bitterness of the salad and the sweet citrus overpowers wine a little. Overall, I would not pay $50 for the Pinot. Maybe when I am rich. I loved the salad though! OOOo

Slow cooked pork and mushroom risotto
Extra pour of Milla's Red blend
Wine & Herb Pork Shoulder Roast | Wild Mushroom & Goat Cheese Risotto

Beautiful dark purple hue with nose of smoky bacon and spicy fruit! FYI, I am very biased towards Syrah. This fruit forward wine was  dry with plenty of tannins. It has some residue at the bottom. Very smokey with notes of rubbery burnt and sweet plum. It was a great pairing with the goat cheese! Erin made a super flavorful creamy goat cheese mushroom risotto although it was a little mushy, over cooked. The pork roast was very yummy just like before. Wonderful pairing! I loved the spicy smokey Syrah with the creamy risotto and tender pork. YUM. OOOO

Disclaimer: I am probably biased with the rating. This was delicious.
Braised Rosemary Lamb Shank | Caramelized Red Onion & New Potato Hash | Balsamic Fig Reduction

By itself, it was a little flat, lacking in acidity. Although bland, it had decent tannins and good notes of spices. Fruit forward wine. 

Another delicious dish with good sweet and saltiness. The balsamic fig reduction was sweet but altogether it was great combination, although I might not be able to eat too much of it. I didn't like the pairing due to the lack of acid from the wine to carry the dish. Instead, it brings out the alcohol and damps flavors and fruits.

My favorite dish next to the Scallop! Compliments to the chef! I really enjoyed the balsamic fig reduction so much that the next day, we picked fresh figs and made some balsamic reduction to drizzle over some sauteed figs with goat cheese! Talk about inspirations! OOOo

Finished off with a dessert of truffle chocolate, caramel wafers and other yummy chocolate bites. Mmmmmm, satisfaction. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Proprietor's Reserve: Olson Ogden

Proprietor's Reserve Sunset
I won a BOGO (Buy one get one free) - for the third time! (Check out first and second) - to Proprietor's Reserve's Winemaker dinner for Olson Ogden with John Ogden, Co-owner of the winery in Santa Rosa, Sonoma Valley. 

The question was: In the world of wine, what does "cooperage" refer to?

Answer: Making wooden staves with hoops! Or Wine Barrel making

Even though Sam just got off the plane from Australia at 3pm, I justified dragging him to the dinner regardless to force him to be awake to cure him of jetlag. I am a thoughtful girlfriend. 

We arrived right when they started seating guests and some friends were there as well by coincidence! Erin made some changes so we could be seated with them! Thank you Erin! 

As usual, the dinner started off with Erin introducing to us the first two dishes in front of us while John did the wines. 

Extra pour of Milla's red blend

Here are the wine and food pairings:

2009 Stagecoach Vineyard Marsanne "Margaret's Mandate"
Jumbo Scallop | Apple Smoked Bacon Wrap | Brie Cream

2009 Milla's Blend Red Wine
Black Pepper Chicken Marsala | Grilled Portobello | Garlic Herb Ricotta | Asiago Crostini

2009 Alder Springs Vineyard Pinot Noir
Fresh Cut Corn | Frisse & Arugula Salad | Marcona Almonds | Seared Dragon Bean | Parmesan Blood Orange Vinaigrette

2009 Alder Springs Vineyard Syrah
Wine & Herb Pork Shoulder Roast | Wild Mushroom & Goat Cheese Risotto

2008 Stagecoach Vineyard Syrah 
Braised Rosemary Lamb Shank | Caramelized Red Onion & New Potato Hash | Balsamic Fig Reduction

Yet another delicious wine pairing dinner at Proprietor's Reserve! My friends who were there for the first time thought the same. This place is an absolute favorite! I love the food and how Erin is the one who cooks and pairs all the wines. They are  very friendly and Erin always have dessert for us no matter what happens (plus points!). The wines are always family owned, small wineries that you don't usually see on the shelves! And they always give me an opportunity to go! Thanks again! 

YUM! More about the wine and food pairing later! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wine Rating

I have always read about how beers are rated being surrounded by non-snobby beer drinkers.
Taken from BetterBeerBlog
AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20

From Beer Advocate:
appearance = 5% 
The first step. note the beer's colour, carbonation, head and its retention -- not the label or appearance of the bottle. 

smell = 20% 
Now bring the beer to your nose. note the beer's aromatic qualities. 

taste = 45% 
Take a deep sip of the beer. note any flavours, or interpretations of flavours, that you might discover. do they fit the style? 

mouthfeel = 10% 
Take another sip. note how the beer feels on the palate. too light? too heavy? smooth? coarse? 

overall = 20% 


world-classmust try




goodtry it



< 70


Why aren't wines rated that way? Wouldn't it be clearer?  It tells you exactly what a person likes and not like about a beer. Everything in the beer rating system is relevant but perhaps Balance should be added for wine.

Wines are more like written testimonies and a score. Probably based on the person's experience. So if you have less experience, like me, then it is kind of hard to score/grade/rate/whatever-you-call-it the wine. Perhaps there is a need for a better system? Nowadays we look for mainly 88 and up, and there is even 100+

Wine spectator's rating is as such

  • 95-100 Classic: a great wine
  • 90-94 Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style
  • 85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
  • 80-84 Good: a solid, well-made wine
  • 75-79 Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
  • 50-74 Not recommended

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate's rating is as such

An extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine of its variety. Wines of this caliber are worth a special effort to find, purchase, and consume.
90 - 95:
An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines.
80 - 89:
barely above average to very good wine displaying various degrees of finesse and flavor as well as character with no noticeable flaws.
70 - 79:
An average wine with little distinction except that it is a soundly made. In essence, a straightforward, innocuous wine.
60 - 69:
below average wine containing noticeable deficiencies, such as excessive acidity and/or tannin, an absence of flavor, or possibly dirty aromas or flavors.
50 - 59:
A wine deemed to be unacceptable.

Perhaps we should learn from Beer dudes and not just score a wine but give exactly the breakdown of the score? Or maybe it is because wine has less characteristics than beer can have that it does not need a more complicated system? Like this guy says beer is more versatile than wine with a wider range of flavor profile. It seems like a search on the web gives a good idea of the general consensus.

So here is a 100 point system that might be useful in the future.

Appearance (residue, colour) 5%

Smell 15%

Taste 40%

Mouthfeel 5%

Balance 20%

Overall 15%

Total 100%

It sounds like plenty of work though. I will stick to smiley faces for now. :D

Friday, August 10, 2012

Vinotemping Summer!

For those who hasn't notice, Summer is here!

Like many without the luxury of Wine Cellar/Caves, it is Vinotemp to the rescue! San Diego can get pretty hot late summer/early autumn so in order to prepare for that, I got a VT-27-TS (27 bottles) for a great deal ($100 usually $350) online new from a wholesales dealer! Ebay prices can go down to $170 without shipping.

So far so good. I loaded it up and realised that not all bottles fit on the racks. Chardonnays are too fat.

Fancy fridge

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Uvaggio Vermentino Lodi 2010 

A new varietal to add to the Quest List! I got this my first time at WineSteals. There were little bubbles at bottom of glass when i poured this. Mineral nose with a floral note. Medium bodied, this had a refreshing bite of acid and a bitter soapy note. Lightly spiced, this had good notes of apple and residual sugar. The finish lingers like i just finished a green apple. OOo

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Port VT

Not long ago, I attended the Sandeman Port Virtual tasting on Snooth live from New Orleans with Gregory Del Piaz and George Sandeman (7th generation). I might not have done it if they did not send me two of the bottles (Vau Vintage 2010 and the Tawny Port 20 years).

Since it was 4:30pm Pacific time (7:30pm ET), I had a great excuse to leave work early and taste some port and have a dessert party! Not too shabby!

Live on Snooth!

The Snooth live tasting was pretty cool, Greg and George were already talking live when I checked in. Snoothers were checking in from all over the place! As they began the tasting, we could ask them questions like what is Port etc. Very interactive and informative experience, with drinking involved!.

Some facts about Ports here: It is fortified with a neutral spirit (sometimes known as brandy), which stops the fermentation, leaving more residual sugar than typical wines and giving it more kick. It is produced exclusively in Duoro Valley, the Northern part of Portugal. There are two category of ports: Bottle-aged or Barrel-aged. It is 20% in alcohol!
Vau Vintage

Sandeman Vau Vintage Porto 2000

Well, I did not know that Ports were that high in alcohol content then and poured myself a huge glass! This full bodied port with plenty of residual sugar has a smell that reminds me of brandy, caramel, a little cacao and even coca cola! Which is interesting. With bright tannins, this dense opaque dark wine is fruity with notes of plum and dried medjool dates. Yummmy. Now I wished I knew more about Ports earlier! OOOo

Fun facts: Sandeman began in 1790 with George Sandeman, a Scotsman from Perth, in London.

Tawny Port 20 years
Sandeman Porto Tawny 20 Years Old NV

I learnt my lesson from the Vau, pouring only enough to taste. This was transparent brown and a smell of rum! It actually reminds me of my favorite Puerto Rican Rum, Ron del Barrilito! This syrupy port does not have much fruit and has a woody taste, like oak chips were added. Smooth, it reminds me of sweet plum wine but with notes of roasted walnut, honey, vanilla. It has a good kick, soft tannins and surprisingly clean finish.

Regardless of how Ports are suppose to taste like, this is wonderful! Especially when it reminds me of my favorite rum! I cannot imagine how the 30 or 40 yrs would taste like! OOOOo

Rainbow Fruit platter
Apple crisp! Favorite!
This was a fun virtual tasting with everyone jolly and sharing notes of what they taste. After the Virtual tasting, we had a dessert party ato go with the Ports! French chocolate silk cake, apple crisp with cranberry, Nutella strawberry crepes, muffins and fruits etc! Yummmy!

Fresh baked Muffins
French silk chocolate pie

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

SD Wine Co: Argentinian

Back at SD Wine Co for some Argentinian tasting, in honor of a friend who was so enthusiastic about this tasting but went mia instead. Here goes!

Norton Mendoza Torrontes 2010
With typical notes of lemon and lime, this lemonade like wine had plenty of acid to boost with a tad sweetness. OOo

This also had good notes of lemon and lime although this was fuller and sweeter than the last. There was an after taste that was a tad on the bitter side. OO

This had a little spice to it with notes of cherry fruit. There was a certain bitterness to it that was not just tannins. Even if it was from the bitting tannins, it is still not a good sign. Oo

Made from 70% Malbec 30% Tannat. This had a darker purple hue than the ones tasted so far. It has a fruit jammy smell and had notes of spices. It was light and not flavorful, lacking in fruits. OOo

The smell for some reason reminds me of exhaust and fresh cut red pepper. Exhaust is probably an exaggerate, but that is not a good sign. This was fruit forward with decent tannins. Very young with notes of green pepper. A tad too much acid and an unwanted bitter finish. OO

This was enjoyable fruit forward with astringent tannins and slightly bitter finish.  OOo

Finally something enjoyable! Good nose of jammy berries, this was fruity with notes of cherry and tobacco. Obvious tannins with a slightly bitter finish. OOO

Tannin tannin tannin. Oo

This was pleasant with good fruity nose. Smooth and well-balanced, it just needs more time. OOOo

Overall, I guess I am not much of a fan of Argentinian wines a.k.a Malbecs. Maybe I just have not tried enough or good ones. Oh well. Torrey was there as usual. We each filled up our cart and had a great time browsing through their deals!   


Friday, August 3, 2012

El Dorado Hills: Boa Vista Vineyards

After Madroña, we head to our last stop, Boa Vista Vineyards and farmers' market!
Bustling Market late afternoon
This tasting was more like the dessert to finish off a meal of wine for the day!
Fruity wine tasting
They only had the sweet stuff for tasting although on their website, they actually do produce table wines. We had their Estate grown Apple wine, Apple-Blackberry wine, Kandi Apple wine and one last one that I don't remember. It was all decent, simple fruity fruit wines that are not syrupy or overwhelmingly sweet. I could have gotten one for some easy summer drinking but I was really not in the mood for anything sweet. Well priced.
Sweet dessert
What actually impressed me was their yummy BBQ sauces and Olive oils and such products. They had fresh baked fruit pies too!

Local bar with local beer
And what better way to end the day than to pay a visit to the local bar scene and late night snack! Now we are all prepared for some white water rafting!
Late night snack: Spicy hot link with sauerkraut and pickles on toasted bun