I am back!

For those of you following my social media and blog, welcome back. As you know, the entire site design was lost in cyber space but thanks to my dear wine friends in Sonoma and Napa, they helped me retrieve a … Continue reading

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Let’s talk stem wear

OK, when first approached about this wine glass called “The One” I thought to myself, get real Andrea. How can one glass truly embrace the unique flavor profiles of so many different wines, styles of how these wines are made, and show them at their best.

So here I am on a journey with my friend Alana Gentry, so see if really one glass does it all. Today we sit outside on a bright blue evening listening to the sounds of my water fountain and sweet dog begging for treats as she watches her Mom indulge in her liquid treats. This isn’t our first trial using “The One”, and it won’t be our last, but it’s enough to know that Andrea is on to something.

I won’t disclose the other three glasses we have been testing “The One” with, but what I am finding is that with Glass #1 I we got fruit, fruit and more fruit…Glass #2 we get a different set of aromas and flavors Glass #3 all we got was dirt and sawdust.. What this tells me is the different wines we are testing with are beautifully complex but the glassware doesn’t show off their depth. However….with “The One”, I get a lucious party in my mouth where all the layers have the freedom to show themselves. There is this amazing real love chemistry going on … on all levels…one we can make a lasting relationship with …. but only with “The One”. Now if only I can find “the one” in a man who will show as much depth. (kidding guys, love ya)

I could go on and on with mindless wine talk about why you should buy these glasses, but I won’t do that to you. What I WILL say is this…..BUY THEM! At $49.95 for a four pack you simply can’t go wrong.

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“A silk blanket wrapped around my soul”

“A silk blanket wrapped around my soul” — now how is that for a description of a Port? I love Port, but rarely does one completely blow my mind. Hmmmmm, I am looking at the bottle ready to take a picture for this blog post and it’s begging me for yet one more delicious sip so excuse me one moment please……………..………………………..……………

OK, back with a smile in my heart. I have been wanting to pop into Heitz Cellars for quite some time now and finally got the opportunity to do just that last week. They are located in my town of St Helena and open from 11-4:30 daily without an appointment, so it was an easy decision to make with a few hours to spare. I honestly don’t know that much about the estate, which was founded in 1961 by Joe Heitz, but because the oldest block of Cabernet on the Estate Vineyard at the von Strasser property in Diamond Mountain were planted with budwood from Martha’s Vineyard in 1970, I have been curious about Heitz Cellars.

I begin my journey into their wines with their ’08 Napa Valley Chardonnay. Fantastic value at $20 for a easy to drink, elegant white. It’s a dry Chard with good mineral/acid balance. Only 3 months in French Oak combined with stainless. I couldn’t pass up this wine for my own collection and looking forward to popping this baby open with some stinky cheese!

Next on the list, the ’06 Zin. I liked the low alcohol at 14.5%. I found it to be a medium-bodied Zin that showed smooth, velvety characteristics intertwined with bright berries. Not overpowering on the spice which I liked. Just a good classic, well-balanced wine and another good value for $22.

Moving into the Cab’s baby….if you want soft tannins at a good price they have their 2000 Bella Oaks Cab at a fantastic price!! Retails for $65 but they are selling it for $30 and smart move because it’s at its peak now so it’s time to move out. Go grab a bottle folks and pop it open if you are someone who likes that more subtle style in your Cabs. Makes for a fantastic sipping red.

I tried the ’02 Martha’s Vineyard Cab and their newly released ’05 Trailside Vineyard Cab which they always release in September, but it was truly their two Ports that got my attention.

They do two dessert wines and I’m telling you and I’ll keep on telling you, go online and buy this wine! Their “Ink Grade” Napa Valley Port is only $30 for the 750ml but if you are unsure, treat yourself to the ½ bottle for $15. This wine is a blend of eight Portuguese varieties and nothing like I have had before. It is grown on their Sun Baked Hillside Vineyard blending together Touriga Nacional, Tina Roriz, Sauzao, Tinta Cao, Tinta Bairrada, Tinta Madeira and Tinta Amarelli Bastardó (don’t worry, I have no idea what I just typed either!). But man that bottle of Port went down smooth and fast. It was lush and fruity. They say it will age but that will never happen in my household, this juice is just wayyyy to good.

Moving on from “knocking my socks off” to “blowing my mind” is their 2004 Grignolino Port for a steal at $25. This is the wine I speak of with the first line of this post…. “A silk blanket wrapped around my soul”.Intense, gorgeous, opulent, luxurious…..shall I go on? Grignolino is commonly grown in the Piedmont region in Italy and my first (but not last) exposure to this varietal.

I know not everyone can make it to the tasting room but when you can, take your time here. The property is stunning. I took my glass of port outside and just enjoyed life. The clutter in my mind vanished and everything went quite. Peaceful, lovely, cheers!

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Eric Ross Winery

Gary Vaynerchuk and Eric Luse, Owner Winemaker Eric Ross Winery.

If you are like me, you prefer the smaller wineries that are found off the beaten path and away from the corporate wineries that seem to be more the norm these days. Eric Ross Winery is just the ticket located in Glen Ellen across the street from the historic mill in the heart of Sonoma Wine Country. Small and cozy and a favorite among many locals. They make great wine that reflects their passion of their winemaker and the soul of our great terrior.

My first sip of Eric Ross was the ‘06 Catie’s Corner Syrah. This vineyard is in the Russian River region, a cooler region of Sonoma County. I didn’t decant the wine and got an immediate earthy nose with a deep rich color. Upon first sip I felt a medium mouth feel with more complex tannins up front but a very smooth mellow finish ~ I really enjoyed the way this wine rolled on my tongue. It was very easy to drink with plum and blueberry fruit on the palate. This Syrah is blended with 3% Viognier which I felt allot like the “finisher” Petite Verdot in a Meritage Blend, the Viognier acts like a “finisher” giving it a nice extra very light floral note in the nose and a bit extra to the lingering finish. All in all, this wine is very easy and elegant, and for $28 a special find and an incredible value.

From the time you enter their tasting room you immediately feel at home as you are greeted by truly fabulous people, husband and wife Dennis and Diane Mitchell. Gracious down-to-earth and fun people, making the experience one to remember with their knowledge and genuine concern that their guests are enjoying themselves.

Although they are a small production winery with 2,500-3,000 cases annually, Eric offers a wide range of wines for every palate, including three Pinot Noirs, a Zinfandel, a Syrah, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Red Blend (love the name Struttin’ Red), an Old Vine Carignane (similar to Syrah) two types of Port as well as their whites; offering a Chardonnay, a Viognier and a Marsanne-Roussane blend. You will be sure to find one of his refined, smooth easy-to-drink wines to call your favorite. Combine all of this with wines that start from $20 you will easily see why Eric Ross is my Winery of the Month.

The Eric Ross Winery began in 1993 near Occidental, California, on the site of an old Italian winery. Long time friends and award-winning photographers for the San Francisco dailies, the Examiner and Chronicle joined together to produce wines with personalities and heartfelt passions. Their decision was based on having personally tested hundreds of grapes and having been exposed to the state’s diverse wine growing regions in the course of their journalistic assignments. They knew Sonoma Valley; specifically Russian River Valley was the ideal spot from which to craft wines of nuance.

“The long, cool growing season, just above the fog line, keeps the vines temperate, yet there’s plenty of sun to ripen,” Eric explains. “The cool-down at night prevents acids in the skins from dissipating, structure and flavor surely to follow. Slowly ripening developing what we’re after, fruit of great concentration, wines with great character!”

A winemakers place is not to interfere with the process; it should be respecting the individual varietals with copious amounts of personal attention. “A beautiful Russian River Pinot needs to taste like Pinot with its subtle unique nuances, not like a big & burly Syrah,” Eric adds.

Eric Luse continues with his two “career” passions, winemaking and photography. “Wine and photography are both so visually stimulating I can’t imagine just having one in my life!”

A foodie at heart, Eric likens the wines to a rare meal: “If you start out with really good ingredients, I mean really good, you have the fundamental components for something extraordinary.” Taking advantage of this premium growing region and by hand-crafting each vintage, Eric Ross Winery produces a small quantity of extremely remarkable wines.

The question is how did they land on a wacky Rooster as the brand ambassador? There’s the old joke – Why did the Rooster cross the road? (Ok, so it was a chicken in the original joke.) Eric’s wacky Rooster almost didn’t make it to the other side. But was it fate, or luck, or both?

Back in 1999, Eric Ross was considering a label change and discussed it while dealing with harvest. Eric was driving in a load (1/2 ton bin) of fruit during the third week of harvest. Long days, punchy moods…you get the picture. As he had done a dozen times – before driving a 1,000 lb load of fruit down the dirt side road with the fork lift at their old barn winery and onto the concrete crush pad, there’s always a moment of traction relief; “pass to relax”. Just at that moment their beloved wacky Rooster decided to cross the road right in front of the forklift! Eric slammed on the brakes and the load went sliding – luckily he didn’t hit the Rooster or lose the load, but everyone at the crusher stopped to laugh at him wrestling with the Rooster, getting him out of harms way. A couple hours later it finally hit Eric as he screamed out, “That Rooster is going on the label!” At that moment, he had no idea what the rest of the label would look like but the foundation was there.

Maybe it was the vulnerability of that wacky Rooster that inspired Eric, but the bird did make him think about what a folklore hero roosters have been over time and the rich symbolism roosters have represented throughout history. The Chinese view the rooster as a symbol of good fortune, fidelity, and protection. The Ukrainians deem the rooster the symbol of masculinity and the coming of dawn. In Italy and France there are many folklore stories that have resulted in the rooster becoming a beloved motif for ceramics and linens bringing the tradition of good luck and good wishes for the home, just like the ones in Eric’s Mom’s kitchen. Net, net, the rooster has been the symbol of many things for many cultures and whether it has been the symbol of luck, trust, or prosperity, its imagery makes us take notice. Like its voice, its look is constant and timeless.

At Eric Ross, thier Rooster has always been part of their history – he is their trusted friend, getting them up early every morning so they can make great wine. As Eric thinks back, thier Rooster has always been more of a romantic symbol for the home – creating a special place that is comfortable, sort of cozy, and inviting, just like his Grandma’s kitchen with its aroma of Rhubarb Pies. For Eric Ross Winery, their Rooster has always been at their barn door, crowing for a day of good fortune. He is therefore, the essence of our brand – creating vineyard expressions of spectacular wines that invite you home.

So from my holiday table to yours – I hope you share in the warmth of love with your family and friends with a bottle (or more) of Eric Ross’s fine wines. Order in time to share with friends, wine is always the perfect gift! Cheers!

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