One of the cool things about living in SF’s South Bay Area is that it seems like very little city down here, from Sunnyvale to Saratoga, has it’s own Wine Walk. It’s an event where wineries from all over California set up in local shops and pour samples of their latest releases. The most popular, by far, is the Los Gatos Wine Walk. Whether their spring or fall event, tickets sell out sometimes weeks before the actual event. Well, I finally got my ticket to this year’s fall walk. With 40 different wineries pouring anywhere from 1 to 5 wines each, it’d be hard for me to recap the whole event. But I did make it to all 40, tasting and talking at each station, and I’ve chosen my top 4 of those 40 wineries here.
This is purely based on my opinion and tasting notes from the event.
I’ve finally found a Zinfandel that’s lived up to all the hype surrounded by this varietal. You think Zin, and you think juicy and jammy, with loud and proud flavors of berries-galore! Yes and yes. That’s all I ever wanted — but I never really got it until I tried Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Zinfandel. So please, join me for a juicy, jammy sip, will you?
I know J. Lohr is a big name everyone knows, but I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with the personalities behind J. Lohr at several wine events in the Bay Area. One thing I can attest to is the stand-out personalities behind the bottle — whether in the tasting room, the vineyard, or the sales desk — and the humble, hometown quality of J. Lohr wine. J. Lohr Los Osos Paso Robles Merlot encompasses that personable J. Lohr standard.
About the Wine: I’ve talked about Paso Robles at length and J. Lohr’s Estates in Paso in previous posts….so just the nerdy-dirty details here:
The J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Paso Robles Merlot 2013 is made of 86% Merlot grapes and 14% Malbec grapes harvested from the Paso Robles AVA in San Louis Obispo County, California. The grapes went through whole cluster fermentation in 100% stainless steel tanks before commencing malolactic fermentation. The wine was then aged12 months in American oak barrel (22% new).
Flavor Profile: The color of this wine is the most amazing royal purple. Yes, the color of dark, velvet royalty just exudes from the glass. The smell is just as plush emitting scents of brambly blackberries; soft, fertile earth; and the undeniable essence of baking spices (think nutmeg and unsweetened cocoa here).
Taste-wise, his wine is like a reverse mullet: party in the front business in the back. The foretaste is strong in those dark berry flavors — those blackberries, perhaps a blueberry or two, with a bit of dark cherry added to the mix. But don’t get to comfortable in berry-blend-land, because those spice-filled undertones pave the way to a bold, somewhat tannic, finish. And yet, you’re left with a fun grape-y aftertaste that lingers, if just for a moment, before the tasting comes to a close.
I would say the J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Paso Robles Merlot is quite low in acidity, but medium-high in tannins, making this a full-bodied red wine. But because of that 14% Malbec with its generous fruity notes, the refined use of new oak in the barrel aging, and the whole-cluster tannins that come in to play just at that finish — this is a full-bodied red wine that even a timid red wine drinker can enjoy.
Food Pairing: I highly recommend enjoying J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Paso Robles Merlot with food. The J. Lohr site recommends cheese tortellini or herb-roasted chicken. I would say the tortellini would be a great option if tossed in an herbaceous, thick marinara sauce.
My personal choice would be a good juicy burger, gently coated in an aioli, and served with fresh lettuce and tomato.
My point is, regardless if you’re going meat or veg, you’ll want something to bring out the acidity the wine is lacking as well as amplify the juicy components in the wine. This will balance out with those strong tannins in the finish and leave you wanting yet another sip — for pure tastiness sake.
More Info: I’m obviously a big fan of J. Lohr wines. You can read my J. Lohr reviews here. For more information about J. Lohr, their wines, where to buy, or to purchase directly, please do visit the J. Lhor website. I was able to purchase J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Paso Robles Merlot at CVS (Sale Price: $11.99).
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I am way too excited to write about this wine. Why? Because it’s one of those instances when I knew right away what I wanted when I saw it: Chateau St. Jean Sonoma County Fume Blanc. The truth is, I knew what I would be eating for dinner that night, and nothing in my cellar was going to play the part of the perfect pairing. I was in a state of mind that I really needed my wine to enhance the dish: elevate certain flavors while calming down others. So I went out and, despite the store’s limited selection, I found this gem.
I have a soft-spot in my heart for boutique wineries. I swear I can taste how personal the wine is when a humble winemaker produces just a few hundred cases blended out of pure love and joy. Fact. It tastes like…well, love and joy. And I have to pay homage to my hometown boutique winery Three Arches every now and again because they are the very definition of boutique — and love and joy. Today I bring to you Three Arches Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 from the Santa Cruz Mountains. I’m lucky to have tasted it and I’m telling you this right now — only 89 cases produced. So — if you’re a Cab fan, you’re going to want to jump on this.