Originally started as a way to keep track of the names of good wines I enjoy without having a major brain fade - the Wine Hacker has evolved into a wine review and tasting site focusing on the lovely El Dorado County wineries who are now my neighbors.
Last weekend we stopped at Chateau Davell's brand new tasting room on our way to a jam sess in the Bay Area to pick up a friend's wine club shipment. WOW!! The view is spectacular, the grounds peaceful and inviting, and the wines are as good as ever.
I am posting my first ever VLOG or video blog on our visit - which is here:
Two of our favorites were the 2015 Charlotte's Cuvee and the 2015 Verlyn. The winemaker, Erik, names his wines after members of his family and includes beautiful portraits of them on every bottle. Charlotte is his daughter, and she was happily doing cartwheels on the front lawn while we sipped her namesake wine. Verlyn is Erik's grandfather.
We are definitely blend people, and both these wines are blends. The Charlotte is an Estate wine and a blend of Cabernet, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Our friend John Worley served it at our jam sess where it was definitely a hit. It has an inky deep reddish garnet color with a blonde coffee noise, big fruity middle tones, and a cardamom and clove finish. It is both delicate and rich at the same time, and the blend has created just the right amount of lightness and complexity.
The Verlyn is a stronger, heavier wine, with 45% Mourvedre and 25% Grenache. It has solid, structured tannins and would cellar well. I tasted cedar, toasted oak, rich black cherry and pomegranate flavors. This wine would stand up well to any grilled meat or BBQ, and has plenty of spunk and character.
The longest finish wine is the 2015 Green Man cabernet - a great wine to drink on Summer Solstice. I got eucalyptus, wood, and leather on the finish, with a ripe garden nose and early palate and blackberries with sun dried tomatoes on the mid palate. Chewy tannins give this wine the structure one expects from a fine Cabernet.
If you are up this way, a visit to Chateau Davell will be worth your while for sure!
Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, making a bright pale red wine that contributes finesse and lends a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on the growing region and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry, bell pepper, cassis, and violets.
Records of Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux go back to the end of the 18th century, although it was planted in Loire long before that time. DNA analysis indicates that Cabernet Franc is one of two parents of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carménère.
This lovely and fully drinkable wine is acidic in character, with the beautiful softness of a Cab Franc as well as a bold character usually seen more in its close relative; Cabernet Sauvignon. I tasted rich forward fruit, a hint of black pepper, soft vanilla and hot cocoa flavors enriched with some tart strawberry and rhubarb middle tones and a soothing rich dark berry finish that was both lingering and satisfying. I also got just a hint of the type of bell pepper you would find in a Chicago Portillo Italian sub sandwich (thinking of those, as I am making a clone of them tonight for dinner). The color is also dark and rich, with outstanding clarity (no need to decant as no sediment in this wine).
There are enough tannins to provide some character with a mild chewy feel, as well as to ensure it will cellar well.
We enjoyed this wine with a a pasts smothered with rich Marinara sauce and meatballs. I would expect it to go equally well with salmon dishes, fajitas, grilled chicken based dinner salads, and Italian antipasto plates. And yes, Portillo type Chicago-style Italian sub sandwiches which are NOT low calorie, but a true foodie experience that is not to be missed.
Recently, I joined the 75K member strong band of Naked Angels - a club that sponsors new and upcoming winemakers called NakedWines.com. It's been an incredible journey of discovering new and unknown wines and wine makers through Naked - and you gotta love the name! Naked Angels received discounted wines through the club, and get targeted selections by rating the wines they receive. A Facebook-like interface lets you interact with other wine lovers as well as the wine makers in discussing the wines you are enjoying in real time.
A random selection turned out to be a gem - the 2014 Jac Cole Mosaico. Oddly enough, the Naked rating engine told me that I wouldn't like this one. When I first opened it and smelled the fruity, intense nose, I knew the selection engine was off on this one.
Rich chocolately flavors blend with forward mulberry and plum fruit in this light yet rich Bordeaux blend. A hint of Malbec gives it a bit of a kick, and adds complexity to the middle note of the wine. An earthy tone that is so characteristic of French wine is present in this Mosaico, which made it a great choice for a spicy dinner like Orange Spiced Chicken wings.
Others on the Naked site said that aeration improved the flavor even more, which makes sense as this is a young wine. I plan to buy more and try this, along with another suggestion that this fabulous Mosaico was amazing alongside a yummy pork tenderloin.
Music Pairing Suggestions: This wine is fun yet regal and sophisticated, rich yet not too overpowering. I suggest enjoying it alongside some Philip Glass, or vintage Moody Blues.
Food Pairing Suggestions: I enjoyed this wine with my Blue Apron shipment dinner of Spicy Orange Chicken Wings and Shitake -Sesame Rice. The earthiness of the wine paired nicely with the rich Shitake mushroom taste, and the chocolately - licorice flavors helped to take some of the bite away from the chili sauce that graced my wings (Blue Apron tells you that you can add as much as you want - I dumped in the whole container). Others from the Naked site recommended enjoying this wine with Mac and Cheese, or a grilled Pork Tenderloin.
If you haven't tried Blue Apron - it is a service that ships you three recipes a week along with all the ingredients you need to make the recipe. It is heaven for foodies - we haven't had a non enjoyable meal yet!
Activity Pairings: This was a great wine to watch Star trek by!
Special Offer!! The first person to comment on this blog (who isn't already a Naked Angel) gets a code worth $100 off on a case of Naked wines, which can include this special blend. Be sure to send me your email address when commenting.
In November, after our sky diving trip to commemorate our 3rd wedding anniversary, Bert and I decided to go wine tasting in Gilroy. Gilroy is located south of San Jose and is mostly known as the home of the Garlic Festival held in July every year, but the entire corridor from Gilroy through Morgan Hill is making another great name for itself as a wine growing region.
Right across the street from Garlic World (a touristy shop known for all kinds of garlic goodies) is the Rapazzini Winery. I am sure this winery is tres busy during Garlic Festival season, but on this fine Sunday in November, we were the only visitors to its quaint tasting room. We loved it, as we got lots of individual attention from the tasting room staff and the greeter - a very friendly little dog with lots of energy and love to give.
The star of the tasting set was the 2007 Bordeax Select made from Santa Cruz Mountain grapes. At $38/bottle it was a bargain given the level of quality, complexity, and downright drinkability it demonstrated. If I did a blind taste test between this wine and a Grand Cru from Bordeaux, France, I highly doubt that all but the most sophisticated of tasters could tell the difference. Immediately, I snatched a bottle and gave it to my trumpeter friend John Worley as a birthday present, knowing that a good Bordeaux is "nectar of the gods" to most Bay Area jazz musicians.
My tasting notes? This wine had all the earthiness of a great French Bordeaux with a hint of California Cab character. The color was inky deep, with crystal-ball clarity. The nose was identical to a French bordeaux , with earth and spice in the foreground. I tasted structured tannins without any roughness, this wine was butter smooth. Soft leather, rich plum tastes with a hint of both peaches and cloves blended beautifully to create a masterpiece of taste sensation. I loved this wine!
Food Pairing: This lovely wine is definitely a special occasion treat, I would pair it with a rich French dinner like a Steak au Poivre, French Hanger Steak, or Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce, where the earthy flavor of this wine would bring out the subtle flavors in the rich mustard sauce.
Music Pairings: Rich and complex, I would drink this wine to the sounds of saxophone music - like the Bari Bari ensemble , Kristen Strom in Crossing Borders, or some good old fashioned John Coltrane. If your tastes go more to classical, I suggest anything by Philip Glass.
Activity Pairings: John served this wine at his birthday concert at the Art Boutiki in San Jose - with Bari Bari! It went well with birthday festivities including a sparkler cake, and the anime and comic book decor of the venue.
My good friend John Worley shared this unique wine with me one night, during a heavy conversation surrounding the meaning of life and why so many good people were leaving the planet. It blended well with a deep discussion - with an eerie yet enjoyable herbal overtone and extreme complexity.
I usually find a good French burgundy a bit too deep for my tastes, this Burgundy was not overly tannic or astringent, and was fully drinkable now. After all, it IS a 2006 wine!
I tasted a bright and edgy fruit component, coupled with a tonic-like taste (think Grappa), and a hint of rosemary and chartreuse. It's seriousness lent it well to a discussion regarding life, death, and what it all means. Although I drank it in mid summer, I saved this post for October - the season of Halloween and the death of the old year - looking forward to the birth of the new. I tasted strong cranberry flavors on the mid palate, another wonderful fall flavor.
French wines are very different from California wines - but extremely enjoyable (when you find a good wine and don't try to drink it too early). They are more earthly and dark, and usually cellar well and are undrinkable if not cellared properly. A great French wine is like a wonderful Chanel suit- it needs a certain amount of age to be truly magnificent.
From the French wine-growing region of Fleurie, this wine can be aged for 20 years.
Food Pairings: The herbal character of this wine would make it a great accompaniment to roasted potatoes with butter and rosemary, or to a sage crusted roast chicken ( take a whole chicken, rub it with olive oil, salt and pepper it inside and out, then season with ground sage. Cut up a peeled onion and put it in the cavity, then roast the chicken for one hour at 350 degrees F). I would also pair it with a nice fall cinnamon apple pie.
Other Pairings: Deep conversations, All-Hallows Eve, vampire or horror movies, or planning Halloween activities were all things I came up with for enjoying with this wine. It would also be great as a Hayride wine, or to drink while pumpkin carving.
Music Pairings: While drinking this wine, for some funny reason I thought of Simon and Garfunkel's ".....parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme". Charles Mingus's Epitaph rings a chord (sorry, I love puns), as does anything played on a harpsichord, or in Phrygian mode (for all my music nerd friends).
Where to Buy: This was a challenge! I believe friend John bought it at K and L in downtown Redwood City, but couldn't find a place down South to purchase. Here is a link to some online sources for this nice wine from Fleurie.