Accessories: Stemless Aerating Wine Glasses

Hi Folks! I’d like to say a little about this not so little accessory I have been using for a while now (at least 6 months). I want to talk about the Stemless Aerating Wine Glass by Chevalier. I’m extremely skeptical when it comes to wine accessories as I generally find them wholly ineffective and unnecessary. They very often come across to me as expensive gimmicks designed to fool your better judgement and generally take advantage of inexperienced wine enthusiasts.

Well that was the perspective I took when I first spotted this particular accessory over a year go. I held off for at least 6 months before ordering one myself. The short version of this story is: it is way more more effective than it looks. For once I found a wine accessory that actually lives up to and exceeds it’s promise.

Over the last 6 months I have done side-by-side tests with all manner of wine aerators and decanters. The best case scenario has been, this glass gets you an hour head start out of the bottle. The worst case scenario is still a 15 minute head start compared to decanting. I am not exaggerating my estimates. At first blush it looks ridiculous, over-the-top and unbelievable. Then you pour your first glass an it hits you.

This has become an indispensable tool in my wine evaluations and reviews, instantly unlocking all the flavors and layers hidden within each vintage on demand. I highly recommend this wine glass for anyone who has any appreciation for wine no matter how sophisticated or unsophisticated.

You can find this accessory on Amazon.com. Just follow the links below:

In WineSnob Heaven you get to sleep in a wine barrel.

Source: http://www.quintadapacheca.com
Source: http://www.quintadapacheca.com

Heaven is real! Heaven does truly exist and it is right here on Earth! Specifically in Portugal. I stumbled upon this gem of a winery in Portugal that has accommodations (read Hotel Rooms) you can book. What is so special about their accommodations? Well, I won’t bother you with the details but the short version is, YOU SLEEP IN A WINE BARREL!!! Please go to their website and explore it for yourself at here.

My wind… I mean my mind is blown! I must go here! No question about it!

www.quintadapacheca.com

Rusack, Santa Barbara


Another gem from my weekend exploring Santa Barbara County wineries was Rusack. I was first introduced to their wines by a fellow wine snob Dr. G at one of my wine summits. She brought a bottle of their Syrah. I can’t remember what vintage it was but I do remember enjoying it. I usually like my wines big, bold and full of character. I like my wines demanding my full attention. Pairing is nice from time-to-time, but for me a wine worth noting, is a wine that stands on it’s own. The Rusack selection did not disappoint.

So naturally I had to pay them a visit. After Sanford and Benedict Vineyards, this was next on my list of musts. The grounds were understated, neat, and homely. The patio/deck in the front, nestled under old growth California oak afforded a perfect place to setup your picnic (which they encourage) and enjoy a good vintage while immersing yourself in what it must feel like to be a gape vine on this estate. Clear warm sunlight cutting through a never ending cool crisp breeze. The climate in this region is amazing. I never wanted to leave. In fact, the tour came to an abrupt end at Rusack as I wondered if I really wanted to gamble the rest of my afternoon wandering aimlessly around the area.

But what about their wines?
Oh yeah. That! Well, I spent at least and hour in their tasting room sampling everything they had to offer. They poured and All-Star lineup. From some very creative whites typical to this region, to some big beautiful reds. The Tasting Room Manager was one of the best hosts I had yet. He was very knowledgeable and only too happy to geek-out about their wines and the region as a whole. He was gracious enough to explore  wines off the beaten path and showcase some of their more creative endeavors.  It felt more like a field trip.

I’m more of a Red wine drinker but I must say I enjoyed every one of their Whites. I found them more pleasant than expected for a California White. Buttery, complex, fruity noses and not too acidic. My favorites were their Pinot Noir and Syrah. These wine were big, bold but not overbearing. They drank well but I could tell they would be even more amazing if laid down for another 5 or more years. This is exactly what I look for in my wines. I love following a wine through it’s life, patiently waiting for that moment it is peaking and at it’s fullest expression.

The most interesting wine they were pouring was their Zinfandel. This varietal is native to the Northern California region where the climate is much more harsh, hot and dry. This makes for really hard sometimes unbearable wines with big raisin-y fruit, very high alcohol and peppery finish. We typically call them fruit bombs. I really don’t like them. So when presented with their Estate Zinfandel, I was only too curious to see how the more mild, gentle climate and rich terroir here would be expressed through the grape. I have to say it was some of the best most tame Zinfandel I’ve had yet. I love what they’ve done with it. I did not encounter any other Zinfandel on this trip. It was a nice surprise.

I big part of how I gauge value in a winery’s offering is not just a good well-built wine, but also at a compelling price point that permits me to collect at least half a case of my favorites without having to break the bank. I’m not really into buying one bottle here and there. I want to be able to follow the wine. I have to say Rusack’s offerings presented good value for the wine snob.  I was also delighted to discover a separate menu of their Library Wines. These were an assortment of Reds from the 2007 vintage most of which were priced pretty much same as their new releases. This is exactly what gets my attention! When a winery caters to those who are interested in exploring their wine even further by tasting verticals and comparing vintages while contemplating the nuances and how that affected the wines.

I settled out on the patio/deck with a 2007 Pinot Noir. It was their last bottle. It was perfect. I also tried a 2007 Syrah. These two are what I left with. Several bottles of each, from both vintages. I look forward to posting about them in the near future.

If you’d like to learn more about them, visit their web site below:
https://www.rusack.com/

 

Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, Santa Barbara

2018Sanford_5My trip to Santa Barbara wine country this past weekend had been a long time coming. I had never visited the region before this weekend. Occasionally, a friend or guest to one of my wine summits would bring a bottle from this region to share. I was always intrigued by the fact that I had yet to sample a mediocre wine from this region and the central coast at large. Perhaps my friends just have good taste. Either way I was poised to answer this and many questions on this trip.

There is no shortage of interesting wine country to explore here in California (especially Northern California). Enough to keep the most curious Oenophile thoroughly occupied. My interest in the greater Santa Barbara wine region was really sparked by long time Sonoma vintner extraordiaire, Roger Roessler (rogerroesslerwines.com). I have been following/collecting/savoring his creations for well over a decade now. You will be seeing quite a few posts about his wines. What drew me in was his passion for Pinot Noir and the sometimes overwhelming variety of Pinot he would put out not just from Sonoma, but from all up and down the West Coast. His selection reads like a compendium of California Pinot Noirs. Each one strikingly different, unique in it’s own right. An expression of what he liked most about that region.

2018Sanford_7
Pinot Noir. Bougie Grapes…LOL

One of Roessler’s Pinots I have enjoyed over the years is his S&B Pinot. The S&B stands for Sanford and Benedict. Initially I did not quite appreciate the significance of the name. I assumed it had personal significance to Roger. Over the years as my appreciation grew and after many discussions with him about his various wines and their inspirations, I realized the true meaning of the label. As Roger shared his thoughts on the region I realized it carried profound significance.

As my visit to this region neared, I began researching and learning more about the region and it’s history. In one evening of casual reading, I realized the Sanford and Benedict Vineyard was more than just another California winery. It was a cornerstone  establishment in the larger region with a storied history, started by true pioneers (and purists) Roger Sanford and Michael Benedict. They paved the way for the region by showing what was truly possible – growing and making truly exceptional Pinot Noir.

My first stop was Sanford and Benedict Vineyards. Now owned by the Terlato Family. I left with the impression that they have done a terrific job of preserving not just it’s name and identity, but the legacy that brought it’s Pinot Noir and the region at large to notoriety. As It still felt somewhat understated. The grounds were clean and free of clutter. The buildings had a bit of a subdued presence with more of an quiet established feel. The wine list was very straight forward and to the point, all small production Estate wines. One signature Pinot, two single block Pinots and one reserve blend of a couple blocks.

All it took for me was my taste of the signature Pinot – the 2014 Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir. It was one of the most delicate and complex California Pinot Noirs I have had and certainly deserves a post all its own. As the tasting progressed, our host was gracious enough to take us outside, show us the vines, grounds and tell us about what makes it all truly special. I also couldn’t help but notice how perfectly trimmed/pruned the vines were. I haven’t quite seen vines and grounds this immaculately maintained before. As my visit progressed it became obvious why their grapes are so sought after far an wide. I began to realize their estate wines served as a thesis, a guide and reference on how to grow and  make a Pinot Noir. Sanford and Benedict set a very high bar for all wines in the region. I spent the rest of my weekend looking back at Sanford and Benedict every time I tasted wines. A tough act to follow. A tall legacy to beat. A few came close. I finally understood why a winemaker would come this far for grapes.

If you are even anywhere remotely close to this region, Sanford and Benedict is an absolute must! It alone is worth making the trip.

I found a great write-up on their history here:
https://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/spring-2018-edibles-and-potables/back-land-richard-sanford-and-tao-pinot-noir

For more information, please visit their website here:
http://www.sanfordwinery.com/

The Journey Begins

Napa Valley
Napa Valley

“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.”
~Paulo Coelho, Brida

Welcome my fellow Oenophiles!

This blog has been a long time coming. It’s inception dates back to over 10 years ago, over many exquisite vintages. My resolve obliviously not strong enough to see this project through to launch. Granted, in my defense the past 10 years have been perhaps the most transformative, exhilarating and all-consuming  in every respect. That did not however keep me from my journey to becoming a self confessed wine-snob. As such I have over a decade of back-posting and cataloguing to do.

My goal with this blog is to share with all, my exploits, adventures, discoveries about all things wine. I plan on posting for the most part under three broad categories:

  1. Reserve Wines – Over the years I have amassed and maintained a sizeable collection of wines in my reserve. Occasionally I will open or sample one of these vintages and discuss my thoughts. I am also continuously searching for new and little-known wines/winemakers to follow and add to my long term reserve. These are well-built artisan wines I feel offer(ed) great value at the time, are often seldom known and lend themselves really well to the aging process.
  2. EDC Wines – Ahhh… of course. You will see quite a few posts about EDC Wines. EDC stands for Every Day Consumption. One of the keys to successfully maintaining an aging a long-term reserve is maintaining and equally interesting supply of EDC wines. These are typically less complex, mass produced wines that offer a great value for a comparatively low price. They act as a buffer for those special wines in your reserve. These are two-to-three dimensional wines for those days you just need a decent wine or you need a good second bottle to follow the reserve wine you just opened to share with friends. Without a good EDC selection, you risk completely depleting your reserve before it has had a chance to fully mature.
  3. Lifestyle – This category will cover everything else from wine storage and management to accessories; from trips through wine country to musings on various regions and what I like (or dislike) most about them. I will talk about all that goes into my pursuit of good wine – which might sometimes feel overwhelming but keep in mind that it has been a gradual process over many years of appreciation, refinement, trial and error, discovery and mostly little investments of time and resources here-and-there.

So without further ado. I will dive into the thick of it with my next blog post. Please stop by from time-to-time and share your experience with me. Hopefully it doesn’t take me another 10 years to write my next post!

Cheers!