Saturday, July 20, 2013

Wine Buying Tips

Helpful Tips to Get the Most out of Your Wine Buying Experience

(As seen in VINO Magazine Spring 2013 Edition)

Buying wine is on the list of favorite things to do in Paso Robles. There are hundreds of amazing wine producers, so it can be convenient to visit a winery or tasting room in order to make your wine purchases.

Wine tasting trips are not always an option though and in that case purchasing wine at a wine shop is the next best thing.  It can be exciting to visit a wine shop filled with bottles of wine made in Paso Robles. At a local wine shop you are sure to find a selection of local as well as international wines.

For the next time you visit a wine shop, here are a few helpful tips to get the most out of your wine buying experience.

With all the choices on the shelves of the wine shops, selecting the right bottle could seem a little overwhelming. There are some questions to ask: Are you just browsing, looking for a birthday present, choosing a bottle for dinner or taking wine to a dinner party?

Maybe you’re decided to buy a bottle of viognier, the white grape varietal you’ve heard so much about or tasted at a winery last week. When looking for specific wine varietals, producers or styles, knowing the layout of the shop can be very helpful. You may notice the wines are categorized by varietal, region or type of wine.

Knowing what you’re looking for, getting a feel for the layout of the shop and asking for assistance is useful when in a wine shop.

Be direct and let the sales associate know what you’re looking for, whether it is exact or not. Most wine shops have knowledgeable staff members who know a lot about wine and are very familiar with the wines they have for sale. You may feel comfortable enough asking to taste a particular wine or signing up for events that take place in the wine shop. I suggest taking advantage of all the wine shop has to offer such as in-store wine tastings, meet and greets with the winemaker, food and wine pairing seminars for example.

These types of educational activities can help to increase your confidence level when purchasing wine in a wine shop. The more you know about wine and what types of wine you enjoy, the more at ease you will be when purchasing.

Additional tips are to look for clues about the wine like individual tags or signs that have descriptions of the wine.  It is popular to use your smartphone to look up the winery’s website to learn more about that particular blend or vintage. In addition to wine notes, some wine shops may post wine scores, which may help you in deciding which wine to choose. Using your wine knowledge and learning about wine from other sources such as classes, tastings and wine experts can aid in getting the most out of your wine purchasing experiences.

Now that I have shared some tips with you I encourage you to further expand your wine knowledge. Learn from all of your wine tasting experiences whether they are in a tasting room, wine shop, or at home with the bottle of viognier you just bought.

Purchasing wine from a wine shop to host your own wine tasting, or attending wine maker dinners at local restaurants or wineries are all great ways to continue learning about wine and most importantly learning what you enjoy about wine. All of these exciting experiences begin with the purchase of a bottle of wine. I hope these tips are helpful to you in your next wine purchasing experience.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Rockstar Winemakers Tasting Notes

As seen in the Vino Magazine, Holiday Edition 2012  

2010 Sauvignon Blanc
Crisp pear, grapefruit and fresh green grass aromas are met with tart flavors of grapefruit, herbaceous sweet green peas as well as a refreshing amount of acidity on the finish.
Pairing Suggestion:  Fresh, grilled scallops or shrimp.
2007 “Quadraphonic” (83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Syrah, 4% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc)
This dark garnet colored red blend exudes an earthy nose of cedar, black cherry and currant with a balanced layer of spice and earth on the palate.
Pairing Suggestion:  Rib-eye steak with blue cheese and caramelized onion sauce.

2011 Côtes de Paso Blanc (33% Grenache Blanc, 26% Roussanne, 20% Picpoul Blanc, 12% Marsanne, 9% Viognier)
Intense aromas of kiwi, green apple, lemon, grapefruit, peach with hints of banana.  This soft and refreshing white boasts flavors of pear and green apple with crisp acidity and finish of grapefruit and lime.
Pairing Suggestion:  Salad with grapefruit and walnuts dressed with a citrus vinaigrette.
2010 Côtes de Paso Rouge  (48% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, 17% Syrah, 11% Tannat, 4% Counoise)
This red Rhone blend has a rich nose of berry cobbler.  Cherry, blackberry and raspberry combine on the palate with spicy cinnamon and earthy cedar notes.
Pairing Suggestion:  Roasted Lamb

2007 Sparkling Brut Rosé (100% Pinot Noir)
Light salmon colored sparkling wine with aromas of citrus and fresh brioche.  Hints of peach and citrus on the palate pop with crisp bubbles.
Pairing Suggestion:   Oysters Rockefeller
2009 Pinot Gris
An intense nose of lemon, peach, pear and pineapple on this light gold colored white wine.   Pleasantly creamy palate of peach, lemon and pineapple contrast with a mineral quality reminiscent of slate. 
Pairing Suggestion:  Grilled Trout and wild rice

2008 Rhone de Robles 
Red Rhone blend full of warm and intense aromas of stewed wild berries.  A rich mix of blackberry, cherry, pomegranate finished off with a pepper spice.
Pairing Suggestion:  Pork tenderloin with rosemary and garlic marinade.
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
A bright ruby colored wine with exotic scents of violets, black currents and olive tapenade swirled with baking spices.   Velvety and warm spices hit the palate and combine with berry and currant flavors.
Pairing Suggestion:  Veal Shank

2011 Chardonnay
Golden hued wine with sweet cream, pear, green apple and apple pie scents.   Creamy palate of freshly baked granny smith apple pie with crisp acidity.
Pairing Suggestion:  Rotisserie chicken and arugula salad.
2009 Sangiovese 
Strawberry, black cherry, cinnamon and vanilla nose on this garnet colored wine.  Bold flavors of tobacco combine on the palate with strawberry and black cherry. 
Pairing Suggestion:   Stuffed Tomatoes

2009 Merlot
Beautiful and bright cherry red colored wine.   Sweet cream and blackberry cobbler aromas on the nose.   The palate is full of baking spice, dried cranberry and finishes with a chalky and mineral rich mouth feel.
Pairing Suggestion: Pan seared duck breast with jalapeno beurre blanc
2007 Fog Catcher (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, 1% Malbec, 1% Petite Verdot)
A sweet, warm and spicy nose of dried berry and pine.  This dry red wine is full of currant and cranberry flavors.  Tastes of nutmeg spice with a hint of eucalyptus on the finish.
Pairing Suggestion:  Venison Loin with mushroom medley

2010 Montagna-Mare  (Barbera & Sangiovese blend)
Bright garnet colored wine with magenta tones.   Subtle aromas of sweet boysenberry jam mixed with stark minerality and fresh herbs.   The medium bodied wine is soft with flavors of stewed berries and rich earthiness.
Pairing Suggestion:   Eggplant Parmesan.
2011 Mountain Zinfandel
An intensely fruity red wine with aromas of strawberry and blackberry and hints of baking spice.   The palate is full of berry and rich creamy flavors.
Pairing Suggestion:   Coffee rubbed prime rib.

2010 Zinfandel  “Los Zarzamoras” 
Garnet colored red wine with purple hues and a savory, sweet nose.  Hints of sticky maple bacon and cotton candy combined with blackberry aromas.   Lots of blackberry and spice flavors with gripping tannins and acidity make this wine lush and complex.
Pairing Suggestion:  Grilled Chicken Breast Brushed with sweet chili garlic.

2010 Barbera  “Toro Negro”
This wine has an enchantingly intense nose of sweet plum, olive, grape tomato and basil.  A big juicy fruit forward palate rich with flavors of dried plum and pomegrate.   A great deal of acidity rounds out this bold wine making it food friendly.
Pairing Suggestion:   Osso Bucco

2008 Estate Monopole Pinot Noir
A light garnet colored wine with bright cherry, cinnamon and hints of vanilla on the nose.   Black cherry meest the palate with a cinnamon spice and smooth velvety tannins are noticeable on the palate.
Pairing Suggestion:  Rice and mushroom stuffed quail basted with wine.
2008 Barrel Select Gold Pinot Noir
Cherry pie scents waft up from the glass and intense cinnamon spice hits the nose.  The palate is smooth with cherry, rhubarb, cranberry and fresh herb flavors.   Tart acidity lingers in the mouth surrounded with round tannins with cherry and cranberry on the finish.
Pairing Suggestion:  Cheese Course

2011 Mooney Family Grenache Blanc
The nose of this white wine is full of fresh pear, peach, citrus, herbs and white flowers.   Refreshing flavors of pear, pineapple, kiwi, sweet green pea and citrus.  This is a crisp and acidic white wine with a soft and creamy texture.
Pairing Suggestion:  Crab Cakes
2008 Mooney Family Grenache
A stunning garnet colored red wine with red fruit aromas of strawberry and raspberry hitting the nose.   Fruit forward palate of strawberry with a pronounced campfire smoky element lingering on the finish.
Pairing Suggestion:  Smoked Pork Tenderloin with a sweet honey glaze.

2011 Roussanne
A pale gold whitewine with subtle aromas of lemon, pineapple, pear, apple and sweet vanilla and cream on the nose.   Light and crisp palate of pear and apple with a creamy mouth feel and sweet finish.
Pairing suggestion:   Dover Sole
2009 Celestus (61% Syrah, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petite Verdot)
Dark ruby and deep purple hues show the complexity of this red blend.   Blackberry, cranberry, violets, honey and black pepper spill out of the glass as the nose is examined.   Palate is rich and full containing flavors of blackberry, blueberry and black pepper spice on the finish.
Pairing suggestion:  Peking duck

2010 Hommage à nos Pairs (95% Syrah, 3% Grenache, 2% Mourvèdre
Deeply intense ruby colored red blend with cedar, violets, mint, blackberry & blueberry aromas on the nose.   This wine is a velvety mixture of blackberry, mint and peppercorn flavors.  Perfectly balanced with racy acidity.
Pairing Suggestion:  Smoky Grilled Sausage
2010 Sweet Clémentine (97% Greache, 3% Syrah)
This Banyuls style dessert wine is ruby in color.  Honeysuckle, caramel and bright berry nose.   Sweet Clementine is sweet and crisp, but not heavy.  Flavors of berries and mandarin orange are met with a balanced level of acid and tannin rounding out the high alcohol on the palate of this fortified wine.
Pairing Suggestion:  Blue cheese, dried apricots and walnuts.

2009 Estate Pinot Noir
Sweet spices combine with bright red cherry, cranberry and vanilla aromas.   This is a forceful wine with cinnamon spice, rich cherry and tobacco flavors on the finish.
Pairing Suggestion:   Grilled Salmon with a Teriyaki Glaze
2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Currents and spice, vanilla and bright red berry nose on this dark garnet colored wine are surprising bold.  The palate is rich with dried currant, cherry, blackberry, cedar and eucalyptus notes.
Pairing Suggestion:  Pot Roast with carrots and potatoes.

2009 Primitivo
This dark ruby colored Italian Zinfandel has a bold nose of tomato vine, cinnamon, berries, cream and a touch of mint.   A well balanced wine with flavors of blackberry and cinnamon lingering through to the finish.
Pairing Suggestion:   Beef Stew
2008 Sangiovese
Garnet colored wine contains capturing aromas of strawberry, raspberry, baking spices and black pepper.  The palate is rich and creamy and full of strawberry notes. 
Pairing Suggestion:  Spaghetti Bolognese

2011 Zinfandel
Stunning ruby colored red wine with bright black cherry and ripe raspberry scents on the nose.    A rich palate of black cherry, blackberry jam and white pepper on the finish.
Pairing Suggestion:   Grilled steak with peppers and onions.

2010 Zinfandel Port
This ruby style port wine is fortified with brandy and has a rich nose of walnut, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Sweet but not heavy on the palate with an abundance of acidity.
Pairing Suggestion:  Dark chocolate truffles

2010 Sparkling Grenache
Lively bubbles dart up from the bottle on the glass with aromas of pink grapefruit, strawberry and nectarine on the nose.  A brut cuvee with crisp acidity and flavors of lemon, grapefruit and peach lingering on the palate.
Pairing Suggestion:  Appetizers, especially cheeses.
2010 Mourvedre
A ruby colored red wine with sweet vanilla, baking spices, black cherry and candy apple on the nose.  The palate is surprisingly spicy and reminiscent of a cinnamon red hot candy rounded out by a hint of tobacco and tart cherry flavors.
Pairing Suggestion:  Grilled spicy sausage.

2010 Zinfandel, Dante Dusi Vineyard
Bright and vibrant, fresh berry nose with hints of red raspberry, cherry, blackberry and sweet spices.  A smooth and velvety mouth feel compliments the balanced flavors of berry and spice and earthy characteristics.
Pairing Suggestion:   Holiday meal of turkey or ham
2010 Syrah, Catarina’s Vineyard
Almost opaque, this wine is dark ruby colored with a complex nose of mint chocolate, espresso, butterscotch and ripe black cherry.  An earthy and balanced Syrah, with a concentrated palate of cocoa berries and spice.
Pairing Suggestion:  Irish Lamb Stew

2006 Merlot
 A bold nose of mocha, plums, black pepper, mint and earthy tobacco aromas.  This bodied red wine boasts a palate of leather, cocoa and plum.
Pairing Suggestion:  Baked macaroni and cheese with sharp cheddar and dry jack cheeses.
2006 Black Rock (50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 12% Zinfandel)
Stirring minerality on nose in competition with aromas of raspberry, currant, cranberry and leather.   A rich and complex red blend with plenty of earthy components, berry flavors and spices on the finish.
Pairing Suggestion:  Prime Rib

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Paso Robles Wine Tour Experience

Recently I was asked to lead a wine tour in Paso Robles for a lovely couple visiting Paso Robles for the first time. This was my first wine tour for people that I hadn't met before and it was an absolute blast!

This particular couple had a few places in mind they wanted to go and with my knowledge of the area I was able to take them to some great tasting rooms in Paso Robles.  The tour lasted around 4 hours and included lunch at one of the tasting rooms.

The most enjoyable part of the whole day for me was being able to share information about Paso Robles and all things wine of course!   These guests were from Los Angeles and had never been to Paso Robles for wine tasting before.  I think they were most surprised by the differences between each tasting room as well as how large Paso Robles is (after all there are over 200 wineries in the area to choose from!)

The highlight of the wine tour was Eberle Winery.  This couple enjoyed the wine at Eberle Winery but most of all had a great experience.  They couldn't stop talking about the wine they were tasting in front of the cozy fireplace,  the cave tour impressed them as well as the views of estate vineyards.

Here's to many more fun and educational wine tours to come!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2012 - New Year Post! New Job Alert!

I started this blog two years ago with the hope of writing posts about my journey surrounding wine.   As I was studying for the level II certified sommelier exam in the winter of 2010 I had no clue what wine adventures I would encounter.  
2012 has started out with bang!  I have had no time to follow up with new contacts and leads because I have been so busy working.  Not a bad thing - and I am definitely not complaining one bit.   I like being busy, but I also like being creative and having time to follow through on projects.  That is something I have not gotten the hang of in the past few years.
I have a total of 4 part time jobs this winter!  I am so excited for my latest job: bartender at the coolest little wine bar in downtown Paso - The Pony Club at Hotel Cheval.
Ever since I got certified as a sommelier I have wanted to get some experience in the service aspect of wine other than working for a winery.  I haven't worked for a restaurant or bar before and I was hoping a wine bar opportunity would arise at some point.   This is a great spot and I am enjoying every bit of it so far.
There are some similarities to working behind a tasting room bar and a lot of differences.  Mostly though I feel completely comfortable behind any bar where I am pouring wine.
My biggest observation is that the outstanding Master Sommeliers at (Professional Culinary Institute) the French Culinary Institute at the International Culinary Center in Campbell, CA prepared me well!   I feel that the high level of service standards that I was taught in the sommelier program there were ingrained in me and I am really enjoying using that knowledge and level of service in my new job!
Basically I keep finding myself saying to myself "Yes! Finally I get to use these skills and I love it!"  or "This is SO fun!"   Lots of happiness and joy in my new gig.  Life is good!
Cheers!  (and remember...Drink what you like!)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wine Tasting 101

Wine Tasting 101  (as seen in Vino Magazine, Fall 2011 edition)
 by Jessica Tubb, C.S.

Whether you are tasting wine for the first time or the thousandth it can be helpful to learn some tips to further examine the wine in your glass.  Wine tasting can seem intimidating if it is new to you, but it is important to remember you are the expert of your taste buds.  What ever level wine taster you are, paying attention to your individual sense of sight, smell and taste are the most important things you should worry about when wine tasting. 

Pick up your glass and gently tip it on its side to view the wine from above.  Looking at the clarity, color and concentration are clues as to how it was made, aged and even how old or young the wine is today.  The color of a wine can even tell us what type of grape it is made from.  And how slow or fast the wine slides down the side of the glass is helpful in determining how much alcohol it contains.

Resist the temptation to swirl your wine glass at first.  Picking up your glass, take a deep breath through your nose, opening your mouth slightly.  Dig deep into your memory bank as this will often make it easier to identify certain smells.   Do you smell a particular type of fruit, vegetable?  Is it earthy or mineral like?   What about spices?  Now swirl the glass of wine in a circular motion and sniff again.  Exposing the wine to some air will release more aromas and help you examine it more in depth.  Carefully examining the “nose” of the wine is important because smell enhances our sense of taste.

Take a sip of the wine in your mouth, open your mouth slightly and let some air gently rush over your tongue.   This will help to aerate the wine, or open it up exposing more flavors to your palate.  Things to examine while the wine is in your mouth are the texture of the wine, amount of dryness or sweetness, alcohol, tannin, acid and  finally the finish or aftertaste.  Each of these factors help to determine the quality and characteristics of the wine making style, varietals and region of the particular wine.

Most importantly you should ask yourself if you like the wine.  As you use these tips to help you taste wine in the future, you may choose to buy a small notebook to record your reactions to the wine which over time
can help you analyze what it is exactly that makes you like each wine you taste so much.

Now you are ready to taste wine like a professional!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Edward Sellars Tasting & Vineyard Tour with Paso Robles Rotary Corkscrews

It is early September in Paso Robles and the temperature has been reaching over 100 degrees during the day.   On Thursday, September 8th the Paso Robles Rotary Corkscrews Club met at Edward Sellars Vineyard & Winery.   This is a club whose members are  Paso Robles Rotarians, but also have a love for wine!  

Dani Sellars, of Edward Sellars was a gracious hostess this evening as we were treated to tasting the current wines on the tasting list as well as were given an informative vineyard tour.
Here are a few things I learned at Edward Sellars today:
  • Edward Sellars Vineyards are a beautiful 30 acre vineyard full of Rhone varietals on the west side of Paso Robles
  • The Rhone varietals grown are: Red: Syrah, Mouvedre, and Grenache; White: Grenache Blanc Marsanne and Roussanne
  • This vineyard is in its 6th leaf, which means this will be their 6th harvest from these vines, or they planted the vines 6 years ago.
  • Edward Sellars grows and produces primarily Rhone varietal wines and blends but they do purchase grapes from other vineyards in the west side region of Paso Robles, including a few non-Rhone varietals including Zinfandel and Tempranillo.
  • These non-Rhone varietals are used to create what Dani described as their "Rouge Rhone blends"  These two wines are the Cognito (which is a blend of Mourvere, Zinfandel, Syrah & Grenache) and the Saboteaur (Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Syrah & Grenache).   
Edward Sellars is a great place to visit any day of the week and learn about their wines while tasting and taking in the beautiful views of the surrounding vineyards.   From the tasting bar you can peek right into the winery's barrel room and perhaps catch a glimpse of the winemaker or owners, Ed & Dani Sellars doing some behind the scenes wine work.   Also if you enjoy listening to music and munching on some killer BBQ while tasting wine, come out on any Saturday and Kendall & all the amazing Edward Sellars "Pourfessionals" behind the bar will take great care of you!
View of the vineyard from the patio just outside the tasting room at Edward Sellars.

Patio outside Edward Sellars Tasting Room.

Roussane (White, Rhone varietal) growing in the vineyards at Edward Sellars.

Visit Edward Sellars Vineyards & Wines!
Address: 1401 West Highway 46, Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 239.8915
Hours: Daily, 11am - 5pm

Friday, June 3, 2011

Daou Vineyards & Winery- Incredible Views & Fantastic Wine!

Daou Mountain!  Just as the title states - incredible views and fantastic wine.    I had a great experience learning about the Daou wines, the story, the property and I look forward to going back to visit as construction on the winery and tasting room progresses.   
Below I have included my tasting notes from my visit to Daou.  

The Bell that will eventually hang in the bell tower at the newly constructed Daou Winery.

The Bell Tower.
Sit back, put your feet up and relax while taking in the view at Daou Vineyards & Winery!

2010 Rosé (40% Syrah, 30% Pinot Noir, 30% Zinfandel)  
A light peach color with a slight pink rim.  Aromas of rose petal, peach and melon.  A dry rosé with peach and rose petals on the palate.

2009 Viognier  (100% Viognier)
Pale straw with honeysuckle aromas.   Soft and creamy mouthfeel, with jasmine and honey on the palate.  Really enjoyed this Viognier.

2008 Petite Sirah (95% Petite Sirah, 5% Viognier)
Bright and stunning ruby, magenta color!   Intoxicating aromas of black cherry, chocolate, caramel and cream.   Dry wine with rich flavors of chocolate covered cherries and big chewy tannins.

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon (82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 6% Petite Verdot)
If you are in the market to buy a magnum - you're in luck!   They only have this wine available in magnums!
Concentrated garnet colored wine with bright ruby rim.   Currant, blackberry and cocoa on the nose.  Bold spice and blackberry on the palate.

2009 Micho (56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot)
This wine is a special release for wine club members!  We got to taste it though!  Yay!
Dark ruby color with purple and slight blue hue with ruby and light pink rim.   Caramel, blackberry and tomato vine aromas.   Very rich and concentrated blackberry and spice on palate combined with firm tannins.

2007 Celestus (60% Syrah, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petite Verdot)
Dark garnet with ruby rim.   Cherry and blueberry on the nose.   Anise, blackberry, blueberry, spice and and hint of tobacco on the palate.   This wine is nicely balanced with soft fruit flavors combined with defined tannins and approachable acidity.

2008 Merlot (78% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Garnet colored wine with a light ruby rim.  Blackberry and cherry aromas.  Palate is rich with concentrated dark fruits and berries.

2008 Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi (100% Zinfandel)
Concentrated garnet color.  Warm earth, and berry cobbler scents.  Surprisingly dry wine - the nose led me to believe this would be closer to a dessert wine.   Brown sugar and bosenberry flavors with subtle tannins.

2009 Paso Robles Zinfandel (100% Zinfandel)  West Side
Garnet colored wine.  Molasses and brown sugar on the palate.  Berry and baking spice on the palate.

Quick Facts about Daou:
  • First vintage is 2006
  • No stainless steel - All wines are barrel aged for 15-19 months in neutral to brand new French oak.
  • Daou means "Light" in Lebanese - (It is the family name of the owners.)
  • At 2200 feet, Daou is the highest elevation winery in San Luis Obispo county
  • Daou specializes in Bordeaux varietals