Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Exploring Hess Collection Wines

My first experience with Hess Collection Wines was at the Wine Bloggers Conference in 2009 and I remember having lunch on their Mount Veeder estate with the goats. Now looking back, that was their first year with the goats, having purchased 24 goats in 2008 and they all turned out pregnant. I remember them telling us the story and we were eating with the offspring. Those goats play an important part of vineyard management during bud break. They help with the weed control, minimizing the use of the tractors and tilling. I totally enjoyed the wines then and still do so today. The only thing I do want to do my next trip to Hess Collection (besides taste the wine) is see the art museum, it is suppose to be amazing.

In the meantime, we can explore their wines. For this article we are going to visit the Hess Collection 2015 Napa Valley Chardonnay, 2015 Hess Collection Allomi Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley and Hess Collection Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley. Next month we will explore some of the white wines of Hess Collection.
A little quick background on Hess Collection. Donald Hess came to California from Switzerland in the mid 1970’s. He wanted to expand his Swiss based bottled water company but instead fell in love with Napa Valley and the wines. He purchased 600 acres of land on Mount Veeder because he felt the best grapes grow on mountains, hillsides, ridges and bench lands. In 2011 Donald Hess retired and the fifth generation of Hess Family took the leadership rolls.
Label note: The tiger on the label signifies the three different generations of the Hess family.

Hess Collection 2015 Chardonnay $22
This Chardonnay comes from the Su’skol Estate Vineyard in Napa. It is located in one of the coolest growing regions in the area. The vineyard is named after the native Su’skol people who used the area as a meeting place and valued the areas resources for fish and game. The vineyard is on a site of ancient seabed with shallow, sandy soils that Chardonnay grapes love.
Tasting notes: An elegant complex Chardonnay that has been aged 9 months in barrels. Layers of apple, pear, honeydew melon and pineapple seductively work their way through your palate. Enjoy this next to fireplace and have a romantic evening.

Hess Collection 2015 Napa Valley “Allomi” Cabernet Sauvignon $32
This comes from the 210 acre Allomi Vineyard that has 35 six different Cabernet clones which add to the dicersity of flavors in the wine. The wine has 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petite Sirah and 2% Petite Verdot and was aged in oak for 18 months. Twenty-five percent of the oak was New American oak.
Tasting notes: A complex wine full of dark fruit, back cherry, currant, tobacco, vanilla, cocoa, nice integrated tannins.

Hess Collection 2014 Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon $65
This comes from their estate Veeder Hills Vineyard. This cineyard has steep slopes and elevation ranges from 600 to 1,120 feet with sedimentary clay and shale soil. The berries are small with intense fruit flavors. The wine is a blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Malbec and 3% Petite Verdot aged for 22 months in barrels with 80% in New French oak.
Tasting notes: Strong aromas hit your nose as you decipher the layers of black fruit, plum, leather, blackberry and cassis. Strong layers of black fruit on the palate, a very robust wine, strong and powerful with polished tannins that integrate nicely but stand their ground. Some nice mocha spice on the finish.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Winephabet Street Season 1 Episode 10 J is for Jacquere

Welcome to Winephabet Street Season 1 Episode 10. Winephabet Street is a monthly series where Lori Budd of Draceana Wines and myself work our way through the alphabet exploring wine and wine regions on letter at a time. The show is live on the third Monday at 8pm and is free, but you must register to attend. Put in on your calendar, pour yourself a glass of wine and hang out with us.

March took us to the Savoie region of France as we explored the Jacquere grape. Two years ago I had purchased some wine from this region and remember how much I enjoyed the crispness of the wine and made a note to research it. Ha, that day didn’t come until Winephabet Street. I learned so much about not only the grape but the region itself. I think it’s a hidden gem, especially for some nice crisp acidic whites with wonderful balance.

Sit back with a glass of wine and join us as we visit the Jacquere grape and the region it’s grown. Watch the webinar or listen to the podcast.

Don’t miss the next episode of Winephabet Street Monday, April 16 at 8pm where we travel to Germany and learn about the Kabinett classification. Register here

You can find all past episodes on Winephabetstreet.com and don’t forget to visit our sponsor WINC.com the wine club where wine experts select wines matched to your taste, personalized for you and shipped right to your door.

The Webinar

The Podcast

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Pedroncelli 90 Years - Finding Your Place In The Family Business; Julie Pedroncelli

The Pedroncelli Family
(Front) Mitch Blakeley, Christine Pedroncelli, Phyllis Pedroncelli, Ed St. John
(Back)Maureen Morehouse, Lisa (Pedroncelli) and Lance Blakeley, Cathy Pedroncelli, Richard Morehouse, Jim Pedroncelli, Jon Brown, Joanna Pedroncelli , Julie (Pedroncelli) St. John.

I was first introduced to Pedroncelli Winery by the California Wine Club back in the 90’s. (I know I’m dating myself here) I looked forward to the shipments that Pedroncelli was in. Their wines really made an impression on me and when I saw them about 6 years ago at the Boston Wine Expo and told them how much I enjoy their wine and how the brand entered my home. With that being said, I really didn’t know much more about them until they were featured on #WineStudio, a wine education program I participate in on Tuesday evenings. I fell in love with them even more.

About Pedroncelli

Pedroncelli is a family business that began in 1927 when John Sr (Giovanni) and Julia Pedroncelli purchase for 90 acres of land in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley for $11,000 with money that he had borrowed.. At the time there were about 25 acres of Zinfandel planted on the property. Shortly after Prohibition hit and the winery was turned into a barn and Giovanni(John Sr) decided he would keep the vineyards and sell the grapes to home winemakers because they could produce a little to drink. When Prohibition ended, the produced their first vintage in 1934.
In 1948 John Jr joins the winery as winemaker and in 1949 he releases a Zinfandel under the Pedroncelli label. Jim Pedroncelli joins the winery and assumes the sales and marketing role and they increase production to include Pinot Noir, Zinfandel Rose and Riesling and purchase thirty acres of vineyard that was adjacent to their property. As time goes on John and Jim purchase the winery from their dad in 1963.
Over the next 40+ years the Pedroncelli family, purchased vineyards, replanted vineyards, move from selling in gallons to 750ml bottles. In 2010 the transfer is made from second to third generation making Pedroncelli a 70% woman owned business/winery. After the death of John Pedroncelli with 67 vintages of winemaking behind them the family hires the third head winemaker, a woman, Montse Reece.

In 2017 they celebrated 90 years! Congratulations!

Finding Your Place in the Family Business

I know this all to well having worked for my father for many years. Trying to find your place is difficult. Third generation family owner Julie Pedroncelli says “Family businesses are different than others because most of your co-workers tend to be parents, siblings or cousins. I was allowed to find my voice by writing for the winery newsletters, background stories, fact sheets and press kits.” That totally fit her skill set since she majored in English with writing emphasis in college.
One of the foundations of the Pedroncelli family is they encourage family members to take part in the business. Everybody has a strong skill set on what they are good at. Julie does the writing, sisters Cathy and Lisa are number people and work in administration.
Working with family can be difficult and I know that first hand. You will have some strong personalities along with personal and generational differences. But as a family you have to focus on what is important, take strong leadership and most of all be flexible said Julie. Personally with that focus is why Pedroncelli is successful today and for the past 90 years.

Pedroncelli Friends White $13

This is a first Pedroncelli for me. I didn’t realize they had another label.. The Friends labels was created because of the recession as a concept wine to answer the desire for an easy drinking, approachable wine that is easy on the wallet. Cousin Denise who iis 4th generation designed the label. The focus was on the millennial market and the winky face was friendly and perfect. ;)
The wine is a blend of Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc. Although the blend is proprietary Julie said it was two-thirdish Sauvignon Blanc to one thirdish Gewurztraminer. Gewurztraminer can be a powerful grape. When I first poured the wine in the glass the Sauvignon Blanc aromas really stood out, but as it warms up the Gewurztraminer notes of jasmine, lychee and white flowers show through. Nice citrus flavors of orange and red grapefruit. This will be a great spring into summer wine and at $13 you will find it on my boat.

Pedroncelli 2015 Sonoma County Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley, Mother Clone $19

This Mother Clone Zinfandel are cloned from historic vineyards planted in 1904 and replanted in the early 1980’s and does include some original vines. The grapes for this vintage were harvest two weeks early due to a very dry growing season. The concentration of fruit is intense with aromas dark red and black berries leading to a complex palate of black berries, black raspberries, baking spice and a touch of earth. If you are looking for something to pair this wine with I would suggest heading to the Pedroncelli website and check out all their recipes and pairings.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Words of Gratitude

I’ve been kind of MIA this past month and I want to explain. Some may know, some may not and it’s not like me to disappear for a month or more.
Back in the fall Paul’s cousin Gus who is an Executive Chef got an opportunity to lease a restaurant space in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. This kind of fell in his lap and it was an opportunity not to pass up and he asked Paul and I to open a restaurant with him. We took possession of the property on March 1st and opened on March 30. So to say March was crazy is an understatement.
The love and support of my friends and followers during this time was amazing! It warms my heart to be surrounded with all the love and support and I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart. You all mean the world to me.

Now hear is a little info on the restaurant and Gus.

The Restaurant

The name of the restaurant is Kitchen 330 and is located at 330 96th Street in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. It’s a small quaint restaurant with 40 seats open for dinner Monday through Saturday and Sunday Brunch in season. For April, we are open Friday - Sunday. The menu is American Eclectic and will please all palates. Unfortunately due to New Jersey liquor laws and how they are based on the population of the town, we are a BYO restaurant. Yes, I know, I’d have a killer wine list but I did research and talk with someone at the liquor authority and we can have wine dinners. Yay! As long as we partner with the liquor store next to us. There will be two charges, I know an extra step, one to pay for the wine, the other the food. So, I am looking to host the dinners September 26, October 24, November 15 and December 13.  There will be a Hudson Valley wine dinner in the mix and and some other fun and exciting wines.  So stay tuned!
What is my roll at this restaurant. Marketing is the main roll and the hostess with the smile on her face. I’m going to run the front of the house. Paul is getting dirty in the back learning how to wash dishes and do pantry when he is in town. It’s going to be an interesting summer for all of us. I plan on doing wine pairing videos with the dishes Chef prepares so guests will know what wines to bring with them and you will know what kinds of wines to pair with certain foods. Every day I will try and combine my wine and marketing expertise into the restaurant

The Chef

Gus is a really talented chef and I’m not saying that because he’s related. We know how very talented he is and how he so wanted to express himself but was unable to do so where he was. He always talked about having a small 40 seat restaurant where he can fully express himself and the quality of his food. We are very fortunate that we are able to help him fulfill his dream with Kitchen 330.
Gus began his career working under the award-winning Chef Edward Jankowski at The Raven in New Hope, PA. He was Executive Sous Chef at Bobbly Flay’s Steak in Atlantic City, NJ before moving to Dallas, Texas and opening Agave Tequila and Tapas Bar. When they sold that restaurant he moved back and became the Executive Chef at McCormick & Schmick’s William Douglas Steakhouse in Cherry Hill, NJ. Gus loved the shore, growing up coming down to his grandparents every summer, knew he wanted to settle in the Cape May area. He relocated to the Cape May area about 5 years ago working as Executive Chef at Marie Nicole’s in Wildwood Crest and Avalon, NJ. Today he is proud to be able to showcase his talent at his own venue, Kitchen 330 and we are glad to be by his side.

If you are in visiting or driving through the area, please stop by Kitchen 330 and say hello and let Gus cook for you. It will be a meal you will remember!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Winephabet Street Season 1 Episode 9 I is for Itata

Welcome to Winephabet Street Season 1 Episode 9. Winephabet Street is a monthly series where Lori Budd of Draceana Wines and myself work our way through the alphabet exploring wine and wine regions on letter at a time. The show is live on the third Monday at 8pm and is free, but you must register to attend. Put in on your calendar, pour yourself a glass of wine and hang out with us. 

Itata Valley, Chile

February took us to the Itata Valley in Chile which is known as the “Forgotten Viticulture Region” in Chile. It is 250 miles south of Santiago and covers an area measuring roughly 60 miles from north to south and a little less from east to west. There are approximately 26,000 acres of commercial grapes planted. One of the questions asked during the webinar was about the altitude and we aim to please and found the altitude of Itata ranges from 195 feet to 1475 feet. It is one of the oldest wine growing regions in Chile planted not far from the bay of Concepcion by Spanish conquerors in 1551. This wine region is the forerunner to Chilean winemaking.

Wine Tasted

The wine I chose for this episode was a De Martino Gallardia 2014 Cinsault. I was batting double with this because it was my first wine from the Itata region and first 100% Cinsault tasted. Usually Cinsault is used as a blending grape. Although Lori and I had different producers and vintages we both tasted a Cinsault. I found the wine very one dimensional with red berry flavors. As the wine opened the fruit became more apparent but there was a hint of menthol.

Sit down and grab a glass of wine or your favorite beverage and watch or listen to Lori and I as we explore the Itata Valley region of Chile. If you don’t have time to watch the webinar, feel free to listen to us on your drive to work, in the gym or when you have spare time. The podcast below is available on Itunes, Stitcher and a bunch of other platforms for your listening pleasure. To watch older episodes visit our website http://winephabetstreet.com/ and visit our sponsor Winc.

Don’t forget to register for our March episode where we explore the Jacquere grape. Register here.



Friday, March 2, 2018

Awaken your Senses with Adorada Wines

Have you ever opened a bottle of wine, poured it in the glass and got a scent from the wine that transported you back to your childhood or another time or memory? Good memories of course. That is the what you will experience when you open a bottle of Adorada Wines.

Adorada Wines begin when winemaker Margaret Leonardi harvests grapes of multiple varieties at different sugar levels. She then ferments them using different winemaking styles. Some of them are more fruity, some more floral, some sweeter and some dry. Fragrances inspired by the art of winemaking.

Margaret says “As a winemaker, scent is everything to me. I wanted to make a wine that is distinctly different & stimulates the senses.” The blending process done virtually blind. Margaret takes the components and blends different amounts of flavors to see how they come together. She plays with aromatics, balances of flavors and mouth feel until she achieve the most unique and tasty blend possible. Adorada Wines are very versatile and everyone who tastes them picks up different notes. Makes it nice, because everyone has a different palate and there is no right or wrong on what you are experiencing.

The entire experience with Adorada wines is beautiful including packaging in which the bottle is dipped in wax. In all honesty, I had a difficult time opening the Pinot Gris. It was quite the process that even had some blood drawn and required a band-aid. I knew there had to be a better way and Tina from #Winestudio had the answer. Don’t worry, Adorada is making some changes to the pull tab in the new release this spring.

1. Warm the wax with your palm
2. Pierce with wine key, remove cork
3. Clean around edge
4. Pour and enjoy
That worked for me on the bottle of Rose. No band-aid needed.

Get in touch with your senses. Part of the process is to remember where you initially encountered the aroma. You might be amazed as I was as the 2016 Pinot Gris sparked a memory of my childhood running and playing in my backyard. Even had the visual of the memory to go with it, swing set and all. It was the white flowers that sparked the memory of the nice spring day. Flavors of lemon curd, pear, honeydew melon and fresh orange zest.

2016 Rose had hints of strawberry, a bit of honey. It was fresh and exciting. The scent gave me energy and even though it was evening, it put some spunk into my step. I paired this with crab cakes and the hint of spice in crab cakes blended really well with the touch of honey in the wine.

Both these wines retail for $20. I can see them at the beach, at the pool, on the boat and at an Apres-Ski event. I would definitely grab a glass of either of these wines when I come in from the slopes.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Sisters Sharing Wine Made By Sisters

Breathless Wines is the love of three sisters, (Sharon Cohn, Rebecca Faust and Cynthia Faust) and the passion for life their mom passed down to them. In my eyes it’s also a tribute to their mom who suffered from Alpha-1. Had to Google Alpha-1 and found it’s a genetic lung disease passed down from both parents. It occurs when there is a lack of protein in the blood called alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) which is mainly produced by the liver. The main function of AAT is to protect the lungs from inflammation caused by infection and inhaled irritants like tobacco smoke.

Breathless is the perfect name as their mom didn’t take any breath for granted. According to Sharon Cohn, Breathless is about celebrating moments in life, big or small and to live life to the fullest. Breathless donates to the Alpha-1 as well as other non-profits annually.

Located in Healdsburg (Sonoma County) in a unique tasting room made from recycled shipping containers with a vintage 1920 kind of feel. Inside you’ll find chandeliers, marble and a nice patio for a wonderful experience. Behind the winemaking is honoree sister Penny Gadd-Coster who selects the grapes from vineyards in Carneros, Russian River, Dry Creek Valley and the North Coast. The sparkling wines are made in the traditional method (second fermentation in the bottle).

There is nothing more wonderful than sharing wine made by sisters with your sister and sister’s from another mother. My sister Donna and I shared the Breathless Blanc De Noirs, made with 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay aged for 38 months. Nice fine mousse delicately fills your mouth with hints of toast, cherry and citrus notes. SRP $30

The following evening I shared Breathless Brut with my sister’s from another mother, my Rombout Road ladies (3 are missing from the photo). We are neighbors that have been together for over 20 years. Yes, over 20 years of wine nights celebrating our love, supporting each other and being together. Breathless Brut was the perfect pairing for the evening. I will admit, when I poured it in the glass and saw the rose color, I thought something might be off. One sip and I was clearly wrong. The wine was perfectly balanced, crisp with hints of persimmon, ripe gala apples and a touch of honey. The reason it has the rose color is because of the press fraction used. SRP $25

Share Breathless with your sisters!