Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Chardonnay 2015

This may seem odd, but I bought this wine because I was in the mood for something Chablis – y. Which, you may wonder, why would you turn to a Sonoma County wine, the epitome of (what I call) Cal-oaky Chard, when looking for something de France? Well, my friends, I tell you, there are wine producers along the California coast who know how to hold back, use refinement in their winemaking techniques. And behold, a fine example in Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Chardonnay.

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Husch Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Have you ever tasted a wine with such a strong flavor, you’re still tasting it the next day? It’s like a song you just can’t get out of you head. Well, so it is with Husch Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. This unassuming bottle with its near-clear liquid interior is like that sexy librarian — take off her glasses, let down her hair, or, in this case, open the bottle and pour the wine — because what’s hiding beneath is a strong, confident character.

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Event: Los Gatos Wine Walk Fall 2016

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.

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Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Zinfandel 2013

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?

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J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Paso Robles Merlot 2013

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 aged 12 months in American oak barrel (22% new).

13.8% ABV

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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