Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wine of the Week - Deux Punx Grenache "Tejada Vineyard"

Since 2008 Deux Punx has been making mimimalist wines from a variety of Northern California locations - from the producers and the grapes that surround them. Tejada Vineyard was planted by Ibo Tejada, who grew up in a small village in Northern Spain. He wanted to honor his heritage by planting Spanish grape varieties in California. Almost pink in color, this lighter style of Grenache shows an aromatic nose of juicy strawberry and sweet herbs. The palate has notes of red cherry, berries, and spice. Beautifully slightly chilled as an aperitif or with light appetizers.

Deux Punx was founded by Dan Schaaf and Aaron Olson, two wine addicted ex-punks, in April of 2008. They utilize the facilities of Punk Dog Wineries, a shared space in the River East Neighborhood in Napa, which lends itself to the minimalist and experimental style of winemaking they capture in their wines. All of their wines are produced in the same manner – native fermentation, minimal so2, neutral oak, and ambient temperatures. Their philosophy is to let the raw materials from the vineyards express their true nature, embracing the differences between sites and vintages. Deux Punx believes wine is meant to be shared and enjoyed, not cellared and ignored. So go buy a bottle and drink it!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Recipe Thursday: Pairing Wine with Middle Eastern Food

Middle Eastern food boasts a wide array of tastes and flavors, from smoky baba ghanoush to citrusy tabbouleh to gamey lamb köfte. Vibrant herbs and spices are laced throughout, yielding bold and complex dishes. Check out Spoon University’s list of 14 Foods Middle Easterners Can’t Live Without.

Photo: Gressingham Duck, Red Magazine

Considering these complex flavors – and the sheer volume of food present in a communal middle-eastern meal – one may find it difficult to decide on a wine to pair with all this delicious fare. We have the answer for you: Domaine du Terme’s Vacqueyras. This Grenache and Syrah blend from the Rhône Valley is like a super-charged Côtes du Rhône. Featuring dark fruits with the classic herbs and warm peppery spice of the southern Rhône, it not only easily stands up to a wide array of tastes and textures, it also nicely accents the herbs and spices that are so prevalent in Middle Eastern dishes.

Grochau Cellars in Vinous

Grochau Cellars has just received outstanding scores from Vinous! Both red and white wines have garnered scores up to 93 points. Congrats Grochau Cellars! 

In the backyard of Portland, Oregon, the Willamette Valley is now one of the premier regions for United States Pinot Noir. Within the larger AVA lies Eola-Amity Hills, a more defined microclimate that has thinner soils with less water holding capacity and proximity to cooler winds. Specializing in Eola Amity Hills wines, Grochau Cellars was founded in 2002 by John Grochau and is based on the principles of minimalism, only utilizing grapes from vineyards whose processes are organic and environmentally friendly. The main philosophy of Grochau Cellars is “Don’t Screw It Up,” believing that with minimal intervention, naturally healthy grapes can be given their best chance to shine. By maintaining this philosophy, Grochau Cellars represents the true flavors of Oregon: complex, pure, and satisfying.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Whitcraft Winery in Wine Enthusiast

Based out of Santa Barbara, Drake Whitcraft of Whitcraft Winery has been making benchmark wines from single vineyard sites around the Central Coast. Matt Kettmann, writing for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, has published a number of outstanding scores, as well as designating two of Whitcraft's wines as "Editors' Choice."

When Drake Whitcraft took over the family winery in 2007 (the winery was founded two decades before, in 1985 by his parents, Chris and Kathleen) his goal was to make balanced Central Coast wine of purity, honesty, and finesse. Because he grew up within the culture of wine and California winemaking, he was perpetually under the tutelage of both his father and friend Burt Williams, founder of the legendary Williams-Selyem winery in Sonoma. During a two year stint in Australia working at Green Vineyards with first generation Italo-Australian and biodynamic guru Sergio Carlei, he got a good taste of certain practices he wanted to implement, not only in the vineyard and winery but also on the business side. Now Drake is vinifying with the same old school techniques his dad used (hand-harvesting, foot-pressing etc, no added enzymes or coloration) and with much veneration to Mother Nature herself.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Wine of the Week - Domaine du Terme Vacqueyras

From the lesser-known (read: good value) region of Vacqueyras in the southern Rhône Valley comes this Grenache and Syrah blend from Domaine du Terme. Notes of black cherry, liquorice and a subtle hint of tar lead to fine, polished tannins. A great, warming red to get you through the rest of the winter season.

Located in the foothills of the Montmirail Mountains, Domaine du Terme is managed by Anne-Marie Gaudin and her father Rolland, who purchased their first vines in Sablet some forty years ago. Anne-Marie began making the wines in 1987 after earning her oenology degree in Mâcon. Her father, Rolland, who has also been the mayor of Gigondas for over a decade, still consults in the vinification and viticulture process. Anne-Marie believes one must be “flexible, pragmatic, and intuitive” to make quality wine, and have a good connection to the earth. Gaudin does not use any pesticides or herbicides as a matter of course, but not necessarily because she wants to be identified with the organic movement. She simply believes that the best grapes come from the best management of the vineyard. As a result her wines are rich, textured, and exceptionally pure.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Recipe Thursday: Lunar New Year Lucky Pairing

In the spirit of Lunar New Year, which kicks off tomorrow, we’re sharing a lucky pairing to start things off right. The wide array of flavorful dishes and ingredients served over Chinese New Year are meant to bring wealth, health and happiness in the coming year. One such traditional meal that’s known to bring good fortune and long life are Longevity Noodles, which are extremely long and chewy Chinese egg noodles. You can add any number of vegetables or meats to the dish, but we love the aromatic ginger, mushroom and chicken combination recommended from The New York Times.

Steven Mark Needham for The New York Times

A wine pairing fit for Lunar New Year would of course be of the celestial nature – we’re looking at you Vignobles des 2 Lunes (“vineyard of the two moons”) "Comète" Cremant d'Alsace. This light and ethereal sparkling wine is chock full of citrus, spice and cream – a festive addition to any Chinese New Year menu.

Here’s to good luck and a long, happy life!

Domaine de la Pousse d'Or in Vinous

With the 2016 vintage in barrel and the 2015 vintage in bottle, Vinous has released reviews for Domaine de la Pousse d'Or. Steven Tanzer praises the 2016 vintage with banded scores ranging up to 95 points. "The wines, says Landanger, feature very clean fruit, and he believes that although they will last a long time, they will also taste good early."

Arguably the finest and most prestigious Burgundy house in Volnay, Domaine de la Pousse d’Or has now been in existence since the 1100s. Most recently, Gérard Potel acquired the Domaine through a marriage to the then-owner’s niece in 1964. He unified what were two properties in Volnay into one 17-hectare nucleus, where Pousse d’Or is headquartered today. With his untimely death in 1997 the Domaine passed into the hands of the current winemaker, Patrick Landanger. Pousse d’Or has three 1er cru monopoles in Volnay: Clos de la Bousse d’Or, Clos d’Audignac, and Clos des Soixante Ouvrées. They also make several different villages, 1er cru and grand cru wines from throughout the Côte d’Or.

Max Ferd. Richter in Vinous

David Schildknecht, writing for Vinous, has reviewed the 2016 vintage from Max Ferd. Richter. He highlights Constantin Richter's contributions to the vintage with "an enhanced level of scrutiny to the details of the viticulture and vinification."

The estate of Max Ferd. Richter has been passed down from father to son for the past 300 years. The current reins are held by Dr. Dirk Richter, the 9th generation, and will eventually be passed down to his son Constantin.  The estate produces world-class Rieslings from some of the most esteemed vineyards in the Mosel, and all production comes from estate holdings. The terroir of their steep vineyard sites is generally grey slate with different compositions of ferruginous (Brauneberg), mineral quartz (Veldenz) or clay (Graach, Wehlen, Mülheim) soils; those deeply influence character and flavor of the wines. Strict attention to quality and detail is paid to all vines from the QBAs on up through the Eisweins. Through the entire line of wines, their hallmark balance is evident in every glass.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Wine of the Week - 2 Lunes Crémant d'Alsace "Comète"

While most Alsatian wines are made from aromatic white grape varietals, more and more sparkling wine is being made in this region. Alsatian Crémants were first made by winemakers who studied in Champagne 40 years ago, which is why Crémant d'Alsace adheres to similar restrictions, ensuring a certain level of quality. The 2 Lunes Crémant d'Alsace "Comète" is light and ethereal, characterized by freshness, strong mineral tension and finishing very dry. In order to guarantee Crémants of only the highest quality, all riddling and racking is done in house.  

Vignobles des 2 Lunes is a 14-hectare Demeter-certified estate in the heart of the Alsatian wine country. Owned and operated by the Buecher family for seven generations, sisters Amelie and Cecile Buecher have brought their own unique vision to the Domaine, walking a fine line between a drive for modernization and respect for antiquity. Amelie and Cecile have focused on protecting the health and balance of their vines. In 1997 they stopped spraying with pesticides and in 2007 achieved biodynamic certification from Demeter. In the cellar, the vision of the Domaine is to preserve the work that has been done in the vineyard. The sisters have also introduced a line of Crémants in addition to the traditional still wines and continue their work of upholding the fine quality of the estate.


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Recipe Thursday: A Woodsy Winter Tribute

February offers a wealth of food-focused occasions – Valentine’s Day, the Super Bowl, National Chocolate Lovers Month (who knew). It’s also the last full month of winter, and an opportunity to savor hearty, slow-cooked, umami rich meals before spring greets us with bright, verdant dishes of fresh produce. A classic winter dish to enjoy while still in hibernation mode is wild mushroom risotto, courtesy of Epicurious. Slow cooked risotto is met with woodsy mushrooms and creamy Parmesan.

Photo: Nigel Cox, Epicurious

The earthiness of the mushrooms in the dish make it a natural companion to a Mendocino Pinot Noir, such as Drew Family Winery Pinot Noir "Gatekeeper.” Dark stone fruits and dried floral notes, along with loamy forest understory, make this wine poetry in a bottle – perfect for cozying up with a big bowl of risotto.

What winter dishes will you miss the most?

For more food and wine pairing suggestions, check out our blog at

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Wine of the Week - Drew Family Winery Pinot Noir "Mid-Elevation"

The Mendocino Ridge AVA resides just North of the Sonoma coast border and immediately South, South west of the Anderson Valley, also in Mendocino County. This is very much a mid to high elevation area with considerable coastal and cool winds directly influencing the region 1 climate. Vineyards have to be at least 1,200 ft in elevation and no more than 11 miles from the coast to qualify. Grapes grown in this appellation produce low yields and intense concentration with a very refreshing mouth feel due to the higher acidity.

With over 25 years in the wine business in Central and Northern California, Jason Drew brings a vast depth of knowledge and a holistic perspective to his winemaking. Drew focuses on small lot coastal Pinot Noir and Syrah from Anderson Valley and the Mendocino Ridge. For his sourced fruit, he has long standing partnerships with several local vineyard growers who share his passion for sustainable and meticulous farming practices. Single vineyard sources are chosen for their climate, clonal selection and complexity of soil type. Winemaking practices remain focused on traditional methods that include whole cluster and native yeast fermentations, hand punchdowns and no fining or filtering.