This time, it was a media/blogger tour and taste at Matchbook Wine Company in Dunnigan Hills. I was already a major fan of the Matchbook Wine label because of its quality vs. price ratio, so I was delighted to accept the invitation. Plus, I am an ex-employee of Toasted Head (special events sous chef and tasting room associate), so any excuse to head back to those Dunnigan Hills and I am in! :)
I actually managed to be somewhat outgoing (shocker) and met a few of the other writers, and after you read my blathering and reflections on my experience at the oasis just a few miles from the I-5 Zamora exit, you might want to read from their point of view here: Erin at Adventures in Nor Cal and Susan at Finding Our Way Now.
But first, a recap of my experience. It was a Friday night, and quite frankly one of the best happy hours (or two) I have ever spent. Just think of it: The moment Andy and I arrived at the new, beautiful tasting room, we were welcomed with a glass of 2013 Arsonist Chardonnay and introduced to some of the other writers (Lynn of Sacatomato was also there), tasting room associates, and the owners of Matchbook, John and Lane Giguiere.
I have followed the Giguieres for a while now, and have enjoyed their wines on several occasions, so it was nice to officially meet them and spend a bit of time with them instead of exchanging a few sentences here and there when I have met them at fundraisers/various wine tastings.
It was also great to finally see the tasting room (which has been open since October of last year). It’s an oblong shaped space with the tasting bar at one end and a large dining/board meeting table at the other. There is an impressively large chandelier that hangs above an island of items for sale. Out the back doors leads to a patio with a drop-dead stunning view of the vineyard. Nice digs.
One of the most memorable and fun parts of the evening was speeding up and down the hilly vineyards in a golf cart with the winery’s owner John Giguiere at the helm. It was and his wife Lane who lead the tour, which included a tasting in the vineyard (the 2014 Matchbook Rosé of Tempranillo) and a look at some of the farming techniques being used on the grapevines, followed by a barrel tasting of several wines in the Matchbook/Arsonist portfolio.
Inside the barrel room, we tried 2 different wines that are used to make Matchbook’s “The Arsonist” Chardonnay. The first wine was big and buttery and would make even Rombauer and Falcor Chardonnay lovers fall to their knees. The second was a more fruit forward Chardonnay aged in neutral barrels. Together they make a stunning food-friendly wine that would best compliment a cheese plate, a chicken dish, or anything with an Alfredo sauce.
After the barrel tasting, we returned to the tasting room (for more wine tasting, of course!) and enjoyed appetizers provided by Kitchen428 Restaurant and Mojo’s Lounge. We tasted the 2012 Arsonist Red Blend and the Matchbook 2011 Tinto Rey (a blend of Syrah and Tempranillo).
The two aforementioned wine along with most wines in the Matchbook Wine portfolio are so very conducive to enjoying with food—I am pretty sure that’s why I like them so much.
On a side note, you might remember my story on the Matchbook wine dinner held at Piatti late last year. You can find that here. If not, you can find Matchbook on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.
Thanks so much to Matchbook Wine Company for the invitation to explore their wines and their beautiful property. Both Andy and I feel truly blessed to have met with the group. Heaven on Earth, indeed.
There are five wines in the Matchbook portfolio including their Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Tinto Rey, Syrah, and Rosé of Tempranillo. You can find most of them in your local supermarket, but I’m going to encourage you to visit the winery and tasting room and figure out which one is your favorite there. Spend an afternoon on the patio with the beautiful view of the vineyards, and please tell John and Lane I said “Hello!!”.
East Bay Vintners Alliance presents the 10th Annual Urban Wine Xperience on Saturday, August 1, 2015, from 1:00-4:00pm.
The event will take place at Market Hall in Jack London Square. More than 20 urban wineries from the EBVA will pour a wide array of white, rose, red and dessert wines for you to taste and enjoy.
In addition, local eateries and food purveyors will team up with the various wineries, creating delicious bites that pair beautifully with the EBVA’s wine portfolio. No need to travel to wine country when you can experience the ultimate wine tasting in your own urban backyard!
Participating wineries include: Aubin Cellars, Carica Wines, Chouinard Vineyard and Winery, Dashe Cellars, Jeff Cohn Cellars, Mead Kitchen, R&B Cellars, Rock Wall Wine Company, Rosenblum Cellars, Stage Left Cellars, Paradox Wines, Urban Legend and Urbano Cellars with more wineries set to join.
Last year’s event was sold out and tickets are expected to go fast for the 10th anniversary event. Tickets are priced at $45 before June 1, and will be $70 at the door. Wine Club members’ tickets are $35 with promo code. Designated drivers receive discounted tickets at $15. You can purchase tickets by clicking here.
New this year for the first time, UWX ticket holders will receive a $5 coupon at the door, applicable to any wine purchase at the event. A portion of the proceeds from wine sales will be donated to the Alameda County Food Bank.
Here’s a little press release from my friends at HALL! We can’t wait to attend the Kathryn Hall Cabernet release party in September! You can read about last year’s party here.
HALL’s Annual Harvest Party Celebrates Release of 97 pt 2012 Kathryn Hall Cabernet
In addition to the main event, a rare Vertical Tasting hosted by Steve Leveque will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in the historic Bergfeld building. The experience will include a tasting flight of Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon (vintages 2007 – 2012).
Country music entertainment will be provided and guests will be served farm-to-table bites, western style. Additionally, Kathryn Walt Hall will be available during the event to sign bottles. The Kathryn Hall Release Party takes place on The Great Lawn in St. Helena located at the base of the Mayacamas Mountains facing HALL’s Bergfeld Estate vineyard.
Think daytime. Think Texas BBQ. Think Kathryn Hall, Y’ALL. It’s going to be the ultimate harvest showdown with 800 friends set on the Great Lawn at HALL.
Ultimate Harvest Party Shindig: It’s Kathryn Hall Y’ALL
2012 Kathryn Hall Release Party
Saturday, September 12, 2015
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m (Vertical Tasting hosted by Steve Leveque)
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. PST (Main Event)
HALL St. Helena
401 St. Helena Hwy. South
St. Helena, CA 94574
Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite at http://bit.ly/1LiII7v.
Prices for the Main Event are $75 for Early Bunny (purchased before Aug. 17) and $90 thereafter including at the door the day of the party. Ticket price for the Vertical Tasting is $200 and includes admission to the Main Event. For more information, please visit www.hallwines.com or follow their social channels on Twitter @hallwines and on Facebook here.
Recently, two of Italy’s leading wineries released their first rosé wines—Mezzacorona from Trento, and Sicily’s Stemmari—each reflecting native varietals and terroir, and Andy and I were fortunate enough to sample them.
Ground pork burgers with an aioli dressing in a red cabbage shell. The meat mixture was a pound of ground pork and 4 ounces ground chorizo.
On the side we had a medley of roasted vegetables roasted in coconut oil.
About the wines:
MEZZACORONA ROSÉ 2014: 100% Lagrein; 12% ABV; $8.99 SRP
Mezzacorona’s Rosé is made from 100% Lagrein grapes, a local variety grown along the Adige Valley north of Trento, where Mezzacorona calls home.
STEMMARI ROSÉ 2014: 100% Nero d’Avola; 12% ABV; $9.99 SRP
The Stemmari Rosé is produced from 100% Nero d’Avola, Sicily’s most famous grape variety, which is cultivated on sandy soils in the Ragusa province.
For more information about Mezzacorona go to www.mezzacorona.it or visit Mezzacorona on Facebook here and follow the brand on Twitter at @MezzacoronaWine. To learn more about Stemmari, go to www.stemmari.it; visit Stemmari on Facebook here and follow the brand on Twitter at @StemmariWine.
Indian cuisine is one of the most interesting food and wine pairings. Tandoor Chef has recently developed a pairing tool to help you choose the best compliment (wine or beer) to their restaurant quality authentic Indian cuisine.
The purpose of National Drink Wine Day is to spread the love and health benefits of wine. Wine has played an important role in history, religion and relationships. We embrace the positive benefits of wine such as new friends, reduced risk of heart disease and the enhancement of food and life. I really didn’t need another reason to drink wine, but whoever came up with this holiday deserves a pat on the back and a big bottle of 2008 Opus One. ;)
Speaking of enhancement of food, Tandoor Chef has developed a line of gluten free items, which I will be reviewing very soon and doing a wine pairing of my own. They also have 11 selections under 300 calories per serving for those of you watching your waistline.
The Applewood Inn is a lavishly restored the historic Mission-Revival home built in 1922 by Ralph “Rooster” Belden for his wife Gretchen “Pet” and their son John “Bunny” Belden. It was purchased in 1985 by Jim Caron and Darryl Notter and converted into an Inn. The Applewood began its first for guests only, dinner on Thanksgiving Day 1985. Christmas and New Year’s Day dinners followed in quick succession and the inn’s reputation as a place to dine as well as stay rapidly began to take form.
This Boutique Wine Country Inn, with its now 19 rooms and suites, a fine food restaurant, and spa, is located one hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge in the heart of the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir growing region. We stayed in room sixteen: Siena and Il Terrazzo di Amore. It’s located atop the Piccola Casa, and was designed with honeymoons and lovers in mind. :) It features a king size bed with a Tempur-Pedic mattress, lofted ceilings, a dual head shower for two, a gas fireplace, and a private terrace.
The terrace showcases a couple’s “love triangle” hot tub, a fire pit table, and a fountain. This suite and terrace is the perfect hideaway for a romantic wine country interlude.
Breakfast is included with every stay and is served exclusively inn guests. It is served from 7:30-10:00 am at the restaurant.
The Applewood has chosen the finest organic coffees and teas from local artisans, and upon entry for breakfast guests are welcome to serve themselves at the bar and then take a seat at any of the tables that have been set. A two course breakfast is then served your table by the breakfast team.
As an alternative to the main course you may order eggs (any style) with toast and bacon. Included in your breakfast at no additional charge you may order: apple, cranberry or orange juice, espresso, cappuccino or latte, hot chocolate or mocha, or sparkling wine (Mimosas!!)
The second night of our stay (Sunday evening), we ate in the hotel’s restaurant, which has been awarded One Star by the Michelin Guide for 2011 and 2012. Sunday is local’s night and there is free corkage on All Russian River AVA Wines, as well as a $35.00 Per Person three course dinner available.
We had been wine tasting and shopping earlier in the day, and chose a bottle of Iron Horse Estate Pinot Noir (2012) to bring with us to enjoy the free corkage promotion with our dinner.
For our appetizers, we chose the Dungeness Crab: fresh crab, tomatoes, fennel, mushroom dashi stock.
And a beet salad with radish and chorizo:
For our entrées, Andy selected the Grimauld Farms Duck Breast with celeriac and chestnut puree, swiss chard cipollini onions, and a pinot-cherry jus:
And I ordered the Coffee Crusted Creekstone Ranch Ribeye: baby rocket, pommes anna, point reyes blue cheese marchand de vin:
I mentioned earlier that we had been wine tasting on Sunday, and I would like to mention some of the stops we made. Mainly because I truly enjoy the wines of the area and hope you’ll take my recommendations on where you should visit if you go!
Stop #1: Iron Horse Vineyards: Not only do they make some of the best sparkling wines I have ever tasted, they also make still wines from their all estate grown grapes: chardonnay and pinot noir. (You can find them on Facebook here and on Twitter here.)
Stop #3: Moshin Vineyards: I discovered Moshin wines at Sacramento restaurant (and my loyal advertiser) Piatti. So, when I found out Moshin had a tasting room nearby, they became the last stop in our afternoon of tasting. My favorite in their current release of red wines is the 2010 Lost Ranch Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. (You can find them on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.)
On Monday morning before heading home, Andy and I ran the trails at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, just a quick drive (about 3 miles) from the Applewood Inn. It was so scenic. The trees were unbelievable! :)
Thank you to the management at Applewood Inn. We had a wonderful time and I am blessed to let my readers in on a new place to visit in wine country! You can find the Applewood Inn on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.