When planning my recent trip to Paso Robles, I searched high and low for very small production, family owned wineries to visit. My hope was that I would get a much better sense of the region by spending time with people who work the vineyards and make the wines. I got extremely lucky by visiting on the weekend that I did because Gelfand was open for appointments. I learned during my visit that they are only open for tastings three weekends a year and l happened to be in the right place at the right time. Continue reading
I imagine that every wine lover can remember specific wines that had a profound impact on their love for the juice. Over the years, I can definitely recall several wines that blew me away and changed my views on specific kinds or varietals forever. One of those memories was years ago at Bacchanalia in Atlanta with my first taste of Chappellet Cabernet. More recently, I fell in love with a Chardonnay from Saintsbury. And then along came the 2009 Halter Ranch Syrah.
I can’t remember exactly when it all went south, but for the last fifteen or so years I have avoided scallops. I think at some point I ordered them at a restaurant and they were served nearly raw and as a result, I was convinced that scallops were the only seafood that I did not like. About a month ago, however, that changed completely. I had dinner at my in-laws house, and my brother-in-law made scallops. I did not want to be rude and share my dislike of this particular mollusk, so I bit my tongue and ate dinner with everyone. They were delicious! Since that evening, I have been head over heals in love with this new delight. Continue reading
Nestled in a peaceful corner of Santa Barbara County, off the Foxen Canyon Trail in the Santa Maria Valley, Cambria makes high quality wines that will appeal to a variety of palates. Since the climate is fairly cool in this area, the grapes that thrive are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. On my recent visit to Cambria I was fortunate to try a wide array of their wines and was very impressed.
On my recent trip to Los Olivos, I was very fortunate to visit the tasting room of Tercero Wines and chat with the winemaker, Larry Schaffer. One of the things that I love about visiting smaller wineries is that regular people, like me, occasionally have the opportunity to meet the winemakers. When you get that kind of access it opens a really amazing window, often illuminating how and why they made the wines the way that they did. Continue reading
I love love love going on wine tasting trips. It is so fun and informative to visit wineries (and tasting rooms) to learn about new wines and to try them in the place in which they were born and raised. Because I have family in Sonoma, most of my trips in the past few years have to been to wine regions in that area. While I love Napa and Sonoma, there is so much more to California wine, and this past week I learned more about how true that really is. Continue reading
In less than two days, I am headed to California wine country for my annual pilgrimage to the birthplace of many great wines. This trip is taking us south of our usual stomping grounds to Paso Robles, home of many wines made from Rhone varietals. Since a lot of wine terminology maps back to Europe, the wines in Paso are often made from the same grapes that thrive in the Rhone Valley in Southern France; Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre (among others). Syrah is a fairly common varietal in California, at least relative to its Rhone siblings, however, the Rhone grapes seem to dwarf in volume comparison to Cabernet and Pinot Noir these days. Continue reading
While I certainly have a hearty appreciation for many wines, my first love in this arena has always been Cabernet Sauvignon. I love its rich and smooth texture with hints of dark fruit, smoke and leather. One of the great things about this varietal (and others too) is that it continues to evolve in the bottle and over time, some Cabs become even better. It is pretty well-known that high-end Cabernet Sauvignon from regions like Bordeaux and Napa Valley will benefit from additional time in the cellar, but what about the lower priced Cabs from less prestigious regions? Do they evolve too? I am sure they will change but will they improve? When my wonderful husband built the wine cellar in our house about five years ago, I had this exciting but very naive plan to buy loads of inexpensive wines, park them in the cellar for an unknown amount of time, and then viola! They would all become fabulous wines that would drink like wines triple or quadruple the price I paid. While experience since those days has warned me not to get my hopes up, I still remain cautiously optimistic that some of them will turn into better wines than they were at purchase. Continue reading
It is somewhat ironic that I named my blog Paprika & Pinot. Of all of the red wine varietals that I have tasted and loved over the years, I seem to have a really hard time finding Pinot Noirs that I really like. There are many many Cabs, Merlots and Syrahs that I just adore, but very few Pinots. I am not a big fan of fresh and fruity wines, and it seems like most of the Pinots I have tried have those characteristics (that is just a personal preference and not intended to be a criticism of that style). In my study of wines, all signs point me to Burgundy for the Pinots that I seek; earthy, elegant and silky. My problem here is that the good stuff from Burgundy is really expensive and needs to age for a long time to reach its peak. So, how am I supposed to figure out if Burgundy is worthy of the hype before it is time to move into a retirement home? Continue reading