If premium wine wasn’t expensive enough as it is there is also the perplexing matter of what stemware to properly serve the wine in. Lot of hype out there…Some of the fine, imported wine glasses are plenty pricey.
Time to separate the practical from the impressive salesmanship. Our resident wine expert, Kyle Meyer of Wine Exchange, joins us with sound advice on what you really should buy when it comes to wine glasses that won’t break the bank.
Thankfully Kyle keeps this simple for us. He suggests even a hard-core wine connoisseurs only needs a Champagne Flute, a White Wine glass, a Bordeaux / Cabernet glass and a wider bowl Burgundy / Pinot Noir glass. Respectable stemware can be had for $10 to $12 per glass. Kyle also suggests a cut glass rim versus a rolled rim.
Ca’ Del Grevino is located in the Santa Maria Valley appellation of Santa Barbara County. The vineyard is located just 10 miles from the Pacific Coast and benefits greatly from cool, maritime influences. The vineyard is planted methodically and meticulously, with special attention paid to varietals best suited to the estate’s terroir. Taking into account the soils, the meso- and micro-climates, the coastal influences and the orientation of the sun upon the hillsides, you can find here Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Grenache, Dolcetto, Riesling and Syrah.
“Our vineyard produces some of the finest wines in California. The region’s cool climate, geology and topography provide the opportunity to create uncompromised, premium wines. Ca’ Del Grevino, meaning “House of Grewal Family Wines”, produces fine wines steeped in Italian tradition with a distinctive California style.”
“Ca’ Del Grevino is the signature wine brand of our estate representing regality, tradition and opulence. Nestled in California’s prestigious Central Coast is the lovely Santa Maria Valley. The unique micro-climate of the valley produces cool mornings and long warm afternoons. Together with us the best quality fruit produced and attention to detail produces our award -winning Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, White Riesling and Syrah wines.”
Ca’ Del Grevino wines are available to their Wine Club members and at their distinctive area Tasting Rooms. Each Tasting Room has a bit of a different character. The Orcutt Tasting Room is also a Café. The Los Olivos Tasting Room skillfully pairs their wines with cheese, charcuterie or chocolate plates. The Tasting Room in Santa Barbara is in the vibrant “Funk Zone” at the Santa Barbara Wine Collective. An attraction there is Helena’s Bakery with a menu of custom-baked sweet and savory goods.
Jon Karlo Macias, Café & Tasting Room Manager, walks us through the lush vineyard estate.
“Welcome to the Far Western Tavern – Contemporary California Ranch Cuisine inspired by local traditions. For more than five decades, spanning three generations of Minetti family ownership, the Far Western Tavern has been driven by a timeless appreciation for regional cuisine and an inherited commitment to hospitality.”
“Our restaurant is recognized as a landmark of Santa Maria Style Barbecue, a renowned regional fare rooted in native ingredients and methods that were first popularized by 19th century rancheros. Our menu blends this local barbecue style with other dishes that reflect our family’s heritage in the Santa Maria Valley’s Swiss-Italian ranching community. Our menus are graced with fresh flavors from the nearby farms, ranches and vineyards.”
“The Far Western Tavern was established in 1958 by Clarence and Rosalie Minetti along with Rosalie’s cousin Richard Maretti and his wife Jean. Originally located in the historic Palace Hotel building in the town of Guadalupe, the Far Western Tavern quickly became a hometown favorite, attracting locals and visitors alike with its legendary fare and welcoming ambiance. Today the restaurant has its home in a beautiful building in Old Town Orcutt.”
“Since those early days, the Far Western Tavern has outlasted countless culinary trends, remaining true to its original style while keeping pace with contemporary tastes. As Clarence was fond of saying, “To last in this business, you have to like people and you have to serve great food. It’s that simple.” Today, Clarence and Rosalie’s children and grandchildren remain committed to advancing the Far Western Tavern tradition.”
Co-Proprietress, Susan Righetti (representing the founding Minetti Family) joins us. She is also the proprietress of Susie Q’s Brand, purveyors of gift packages of signature local food products. It’s all quite a meaty story…
Franciacorta is considered by connoisseurs as the luxury Italian sparkling wine. It’s a good value for the quality. The name identifies both the production method as well as its growing area in Italy. It’s also the Consorzio Del Franciacorta.
The Consortium was founded on March 5, 1990 in Corte Franca to guarantee and monitor compliance with the rules for producing Franciacorta wine. The name of the geographic region where its Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc vines are grown is used to identify this wine, which is produced exclusively by the method of secondary fermentation in the bottle. In one word, Franciacorta describes an area, a production method and a wine.
Having moved to its present site at Erbusco in 1993, the Consorzio Franciacorta has about 200 members including wine growers, wine producers, bottlers and others involved in the production chain for the designations Franciacorta DOCG, Curtefranca DOC and Sebino IGT.
Its distinctive logo with a castellated letter F distinguishes its wines and refers back to the ancient mediaeval towers that characterize 19 municipalities in the heart of Lombardy, by the shores of Lake Iseo: Adro, Brescia (part), Capriolo, Cazzago San Martino, Cellatica, Coccaglio, Cologne, Corte Franca, Erbusco, Gussago, Iseo, Monticelli Brusati, Ome, Paderno Franciacorta, Paratico, Passirano, Provaglio, Rodengo Saiano and Rovato,
The cultivation of vines has ancient origins on the hills of Franciacorta, as evidenced by the findings of prehistoric grape seed and the writings of classical authors such as Pliny, Columella and Virgil. Rich archaeological material dating from prehistoric times, such as the remains of stilt house foundations found in the bogs of Sebino, reveal how primitive populations settled here and gradually took over from the Cenomani Gauls, the Romans and the Lombards.
Vine cultivation has been a constant in Franciacorta, where grapes were grown from Roman times to late antiquity and the Middle Ages, thanks to its favorable climatic and soil conditions. Though good and bad periods alike, viticulture in these lands never stopped.
Brand Ambassador Laura Donadoni graciously pops the cork on the Italian bubbly for us.
Earlier this year we met the passionate Clarissa Nagy who is the distinguished Winemaker at Riverbench in Santa Maria. Separate from Riverbench Clarissa has her own label, c nagy, with a rustic tasting room in historic Orcutt. Clarissa Nagy is our encore guest.
New for the 2016 release is a dry Gewurtztraminer and a Grenache.
“People often ask how I started in the wine industry. It was never my plan to make wine. Actually, my original intention was to work with food. Thankfully, food and wine are often paired together. Through that means, wine found me.”
“I met my husband while we were working together in the wine industry. We made a barrel of 2002 Viognier as a wedding favor. It seemed a fitting gift for our family and friends. My quest for another source of Viognier was encouraged by those who had tasted the “wedding wine.” It would be a longer quest than I expected.”
“I purchased one ton of Pinot Noir in 2004. I wanted to continue making Pinot Noir and work with an amazing vineyard. One thing led to another. In 2005, I began working with 3 different vineyards and my brand was born.”
“Pinot Noir and Syrah were my main focus for the next 6 years. I made a Viognier in 2010, but frost would prevent me from doing so in 2011. The loss of Viognier opened the door to work with Pinot Blanc as well, and my journey continued to unfold. The newest chapter of my story is the addition of the tasting room.”
“Winemaking has become my passion. Sharing that joy with others is a priority. I’d love to be able to bring everyone into the vineyard and cellar to experience winemaking firsthand. Since that isn’t realistic, I offer you a taste of my labor. Here is that experience captured in bottle. I hope to share this passion with you in person. Until then, enjoy!”
John Terlato of Terlato Wines is a distinguished California vintner and well-known wine entrepreneur. He will share with us his recent adventures in Burgundy, France. It’s a great travel destination for any fan of the wine grape!
“You might imagine that if one were to have the good fortune of purchasing a vineyard in California, it would not typically spark interest in a place more than 5,000 away.”
“Here is why I felt the need to visit Burgundy. Sanford Winery is home to the oldest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines in the Santa Barbara area, dating to 1972. It also possesses a magical and unique confluence of climate and soil conditions – remarkably like those of Burgundy. And once our family owned Sanford, I wanted to more deeply understand Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the two iconic varieties of Bourgogne.” – John Terlato
“So what did I learn from all of this? First, it all starts with the soil and farming. Great wines are born from a unique combination of soil, microclimate, and attention to detail in farming. It is this unique confluence that causes great wines to be unique. Nor better…unique.”
Our favorite purveyor of genuinely useful wine knowledge, Kyle Meyer, the Co-Proprietor of The Wine Exchange, joins us for his eagerly anticipated monthly tutorial.
Kyle provides a preview of coming attractions in wine for the New Year (think 2014 Pinot Noirs from Oregon) along with the chatter involving comparative discussions about Bordeaux reds and California Cabernet.
“For as long as we have been doing this, there have been comparative discussions about Bordeaux reds and California Cabernet. A lot of that discourse centers on the fact that they are both essentially made from the same group of varietals. Inevitably the bantering arrives at which is better, and that becomes a much more parochial argument with those in whichever camp arguing their side. There is no middle ground. Folks who like big bold Cabernets and other weighty renditions of Bordeaux varietals as they are made in California will point to Bordeaux and say they are thin. Those in the Bordeaux camp will point to the ageability and complexity that Bordeaux has historically demonstrated, and call the Cali versions plodding and one dimensional.”
Immersed in history and romance, the ranch has not only proven to be an excellent growing location for their vineyards but also for the Tuscan varietal olive trees which have flourished under the temperate climate. It’s also a one-of-a-kind executive retreat and special events venue.
The Holman Ranch estate grown wine varietals are planted on approximately 19 acres of undulating terrain. The wines produced are unfiltered and crafted to deliver the true varietal of the grape from harvest to bottle. The estate wines include Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Rose of Pinot Noir. The winery itself is located in an environmentally-friendly underground cave.
The Holman Ranch Vineyards Tasting Room is located near the Ranch at 19 E. E. Carmel Valley Road in Carmel Valley. In addition to the Holman Ranch Estate varietals their new label is Jarman. It’s strictly limited release, estate-grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Grand Estate Wine Club members have access to hosted two-night stays at the Ranch’s Hospitality Cottages. Each comfortable Cottage is decorated with rare movie posters of a Hollywood notable who stayed on the Ranch in earlier years.
The Holman Ranch also owns the nearby Wills Fargo Steakhouse + Bar on W. Carmel Valley Road. It’s been a local tradition since 1959. An evening at Will’s Fargo brings back a bygone era and offers some of the finest food on the Monterey Peninsula under the direction of long-time ExecutiveChef Jerome Viel.
Wine selections for the Thanksgiving turkey can always be a source of great anxiety. To the rescue is our resident wine expert, Kyle Meyer, Co-Proprietor of Wine Exchangein Santa Ana. As you’ll hear he makes Thanksgiving wine pairings a simple pull of the cork! Also his suggestions are happily affordable.
“We have no agenda for what you choose, only that you buy it from us. Pursuant to that, we’d like to toss out a few guidelines and ideas for you to evaluate to make your selections for that Thanksgiving turkey, the idea being that you are comfortable with the reasons for making the selections. We’ll start by saying the politically correct thing which is whatever you choose will be fine, you should serve what you like. Nothing wrong with that in theory, except that we don’t honestly believe it ourselves.
We would shy away from big, powerful, tannic wines that would overwhelm the turkey meat and not be versatile enough to play with the variety of other things that can appear on the holiday table. Things like big Cabs, Zins, and Syrahs are great with red meats. Such wines would bludgeon the delicate bird and be further complicated in the wake of stuffing, yams, and other such themed delicacies. They might play alright if you are doing more exotic preparations like smoking or deep frying your bird, but even that’s a little bit of a stretch.
Our ‘keys to the game’, as they would say in a sport pregame show, are as follows:
Turkey is a more delicate meat. There is a wide range of things that will work well, from moderate weight reds, to demi-sec whites, to crisp, dry whites. Heavy reds and oaky whites would definitely not be our first choice, and acidity is key to mixing it up with such a wide range of foods.
Your choices have as much to do with the type of accompanying dishes as they do with the bird itself. A sweet or savory bent as to a majority of dishes should definitely be a factor in the decisions. For example if its yams, corn soufflé, cranberry, etc, a lighter, slightly fruity choice (Demi Sec Vouvray, German Kabinett) would make a better ‘match’. If the leanings are more earthy (mushrooms, brussel sprouts, spinach/gizzard stuffing), lighter reds like Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Blaufrankish, and Rioja make a whole lot of sense.
The crowd. Yeah, there, we said it. Probably not politically correct, but it’s true. Who’s coming to your house? A bunch of your friends that are serious wine drinkers? A bunch of marginal relatives that will drink up anything you put out there and maybe drop ice cubes in it? While it sounds snobby, these are common issues that some of you face. A lot of people end up spending the holidays with folks they wouldn’t necessarily choose to. So the key is to put something on the table that you can enjoy, but also plays to the level of the folks you are with.
The weather. Choices for a ‘feast’ might well be different if the outside temperature is 35 degrees and rainy or 75 and sunny.
All of that out of the way, let’s get a little more specific. We’ve laid out some basic ground rules, so let’s make a few varietal and genre suggestions. If we’re looking for a hint of sweetness and some bright acidity, to us one of the easy calls especially for a mixed group, our personal choices would be German Riesling, either Kabinett or Spatlese, a Vouvray demi sec, and a Pinot Gris from Alsace.
Yeah, we know there are folks that will serve Chardonnay no matter what. Our problem with Chardonnay from California is the lack of sufficient acidity to play with the varied dishes. French versions play better with the food, but can have trouble with certain dishes. Same with Sauvignon Blanc in general, because, while it might work superbly with certain dishes, it could be terrible with others. In other words, you’ll have a lot of stuff on your plate (literally), so our thinking is to choose wines that can work with the widest variety of flavors. In the dry category we like Pinot Blanc, white Rhones, northern Italian whites (Pinot Grigio, Soave, Friulano, etc.), white Bordeaux, and Spanish whites from the northwest (Albarino, Godello). Dry pinks are beautiful foils as well, though there will be those that think rose is like white shoes, only for the summer.
As to reds, the key is good acidity and no heavy tannins. Gamay (Beaujolais, Cru Beaujolais, not nouveau necessarily), Burgundy (Kiwi or American Pinot Noir, as well), Rioja, Chinon, and Austrian reds. If you want to kick it up a notch weight-wise, Grenache-centric wines from the Rhone or Spain have more punch but still fit the lower tannin profile
And the last rule of thumb is, if all else fails choose…sparkling! Yes you read that right. The market is swelling with amazing producers of everything from grower Champagne to humble Pétillant Naturel (or as the kids call ‘em ‘Pet-Nats’). We know it seems a bit avant–garde to adorn your holiday table with bubbles, but the key is to remember that sparkling wines and Champagne in particular pair tremendously well with just about anything you can throw at it (that includes the big clashing flavors on the Thanksgiving table). When making your choice of sparkling, consider going pink. The pink color in sparkling rosé comes from red grapes and more often than not it’s Pinot Noir. This will lend a slightly more vinous texture and weight to the wine and will help stand up to the mix of dishes much better than say your Chardonnay based Blanc de Blancs.
So there it is, our cheat sheet for Thanksgiving wine pairing.“
DANCIN Vineyards (Medford, Oregon) is a lush, Tuscan Italian-esque vineyard estate known for award-winning Pinot Noir and Chardonnay where tasting is an experience of enjoyment and relaxation, where wines are served alongside harmonious food pairings. The hospitable proprietors are the gracious husband & wife team of Dan and Cindy Marca.
The Marcas take only one thing more seriously than hospitality – growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes of exceptional quality and making premium wine that expresses the terroir of their special site while spotlighting the grape’s essential character.
“Our recent expansion allows us to use our estate’s natural topography for a gravity flow system that cuts out the need for pumps. We can get the wine from barrel to bottling with minimal agitation which is integral for great Pinot Noir because its delicate flavor is easily damaged” says owner Dan Marca.
DANCIN was the first vineyard estate in the area to serve food prepared from their own kitchen. The menu is deliciously simple and designed to pair with the wines. Standouts are the stuffed mushrooms and variety of specialty artisan pizzas from Cindy’s wood-fueled oven.