March 2011

Tomorrow, I start a new job. I have been hired by Guinness McFadden to be the Tasting Room Manager and Wine Club Coordinator for McFadden Vineyards in Mendocino County’s town of Hopland, right on Highway 101.

Guinness McFadden has been organically farming in Potter Valley since 1970. The land, the climate, and the choices McFadden makes allow deliciously distinct wines to be made from the high quality, sweet, flavorful grapes he grows. Many other wineries choose McFadden’s grapes to help make their wines.

I have tasted McFadden’s wines and liked them, without exception, each time I have tasted them. I am happy to come to work for a winery I like.

I had been invited come to work in a similar position for a winery that produced wines I didn’t really like, and I politely declined the offer because I can’t market or sell something I don’t believe in.

Almost twenty years ago, I was asked to work for a winery. My opinion, formed several years earlier, was that they were a gimmick winery, featuring custom labels, but producing barely drinkable plonk wine. I shared my perception with the friend that had invited me to consider working at that winery, and she arranged a tasting of over 20 wines, all current releases at the time. Each wine was more than just drinkable, they were all good, some very good, a couple were unreservedly great. I ended up working for Windsor Vineyards for the next eight years, focusing on sales to larger corporate clients, creating and managing a highly successful trade show program, meeting more of my clients at the tasting room for private tastings – and having the highest average sale for those tastings – each year I was with the winery.

My job was easy, I grew with it, I enjoyed it, but it all started with the wine. If the wine wasn’t good, I could not have taken the job.

I have a strong sense of ethics. I love to use my sales and marketing skills, putting wine into the cupboards and cellars of the people I come into contact with, but it has to be good wine. I sell what I know, what I believe in. I work words around in my head until I can tell the most persuasive story. Sales come as a natural consequence of people sensing earnest honest happiness in the person sharing information.

Last week, after hiring me, Guinness McFadden asked me what my intentions were with respect to my wine blog.

Ethics. Conflict of interest. Believability. Would I continue to write on my own time about wines that aren’t from McFadden Vineyards when I am taking a paycheck for selling McFadden Vineyards wines? If I tasted a Napa bubbly, would a less than glowing review be seen as one more effort to steer people away from Napa or Sonoma County and toward Mendocino County wine, part of a long term strategic campaign perhaps? Would my shared thoughts be viewed with skepticism by readers, if they were aware of my professional relationship, my employment by McFadden Vineyards?

I have a great friend, Nancy Iannios, who as the Tasting Room Manager and Wine Club Coordinator for Schmidt Family Vineyard in Oregon’s Applegate Valley near Grants Pass chose to never be seen in public drinking any wine but those of her employer. Nancy chose to eat at restaurants that had her employer’s wines on their wine list, or drank iced tea or micro beer when visiting eateries that did not carry SFV wines. Her community was small, tight knit, and she had developed a strong thriving wine club and wanted to do nothing to jeopardize her hard earned successes.

Tamara Belgard, another wine blogger, ceased her wine blogging when hired as Marketing Director for Cana’s Feast Winery, perceiving both the conflict of interest and demands on her time too great.

My situation is different. I have given disproportionate attention to the wines and wineries of Mendocino County, and made clear my desire to focus even more on local wines, in my writing over the last two years.

Mendocino County is the number three wine grape growing county in California, behind Napa and Sonoma counties, same goes for wine tourism.

As a Hopland tasting room manager, my first thought should be how to get wine lovers to come to Mendocino County on their next visit, either in addition to or instead of the expected trip to Napa or Sonoma County.

Once people decide to come to Mendocino County, the choice comes down to Anderson Valley or Hopland corridor.

I do not believe that a McFadden Vineyards wine sale is threatened by saying that I love a Saracina Syrah. I think it more likely that someone passing the Hopland tasting room of McFadden Vineyards to Saracina and then again returning home might just stop at our tasting room, conveniently situated on Highway 101, not far from the Bluebird Café.

I think I can sell more wine increasing traffic for all, than fighting for each sale with my neighbors. Nancy at SFV had a much more limited population to draw from in Grants Pass. In addition to welcoming local Mendocino County residents to our tasting room, I see everything to the south, from San Jose to Sonoma County as my target audience.

After establishing myself at McFadden Vineyards, I want to become involved, using my marketing background, helping with the Destination Hopland and Hopland Passport promotional initiatives, and perhaps become involved with the Mendocino Winegrape and Wine Commission as well.

Wine is, at it’s best, cooperative, that is something I have always liked about our industry. When I sold Windsor Vineyards, I was selling Sonoma County and every grape grower that helped make our wines. In selling McFadden Vineyards wines, I will be selling Mendocino County, Hopland, organic farming, a culture of green growing.

I will undoubtedly write more about local events, or about future meals that incorporate McFadden Farms organic wild rice or organic herbs with a McFadden Vineyards wine, but that will not be so much marketing as it is sharing my personal experiences. I have always written about what I’ve drank and tasted, I will continue to do so, but it is foreseeable that I will be drinking more of what I sell and writing about it.

Last year, I was invited to guest chef at a special evening event at Parducci Wine Cellars in my Mendocino County hometown of Ukiah. Tasting room and wine club staff from both Jeriko Estate and Milano Family Winery in Hopland came to the event to support me. Similarly, I would like to support other local wineries whenever I can. I believe that what goes around comes around, and that a rising tide lifts all boats.

Will my wine blog become a forum for shilling, for uncompensated advertising, for undeserved glowing reviews of all things local? No.

I have four of six bottles sent from local wine powerhouse Fetzer Vineyards to review, need to replace the two bottles broken in transit, and want to tour with Ann Thrupp as soon as things settle down after the Concha y Toro takeover announcement. I have a standing invitation and overdue to tour and taste with Jimmy and Lillian Kimmel of Kimmel Vineyards in Potter Valley.

I will try to visit and taste, in most cases retaste, the wines of every Hopland Passport member winery. The Hopland Passport wineries are Brutocao Cellars, Campovida, Cesar Toxqui Cellars, Graziano Family of Wines, Jaxon Keys Winery, Jeriko Estate, McDowell Valley Vineyards, McFadden Vineyards, McNab Ridge Winery, Milano Family Winery, Nelson Family Vineyard, Parducci Wine Cellars, Patianna Vineyards, Rack & Riddle, Saracina, Terra Savia and Weibel Family Vineyards.

I will also continue to taste wine samples that are sent from wherever. Last year, I tasted and reviewed some really delicious wines from Bollinger Champagne, Cleavage Creek Winery, Olson Ogden Wines, Pedroncelli Winery, Pepperwood Grove, Petroni Vineyards, Sonoma-Cutrer Wines, Swanson Vineyards, Tangley Oaks, Toad Hollow Vineyards, V. Sattui Winery, Willamette Valley Vineyards and Wine Guerilla because they sent sample wines or because they extended an event invitation.

Last year, I tasted and wrote about the wines of Carol Shelton Wines, Dunnewood/Mendocino Vineyards, Jacuzzi Family Vineyard, J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines, Keller Estate, Mendocino Farms, the NPA, Preston Vineyards, Rodney Strong Vineyards, Schmidt Family Vineyards, Sokol Blosser, Topel Winery, and Trinchero Napa Valley simply because I like them or because I visited their tasting room and was impressed.

At varietal specific tasting events, often at Ft Mason in San Francisco, I have tasted hundreds of different wines in the last year.

I have been part of organized tastings for wines from Virginia to Bordeaux.

While it is my stated focus, I am not likely to be able to contain my writing to just Mendocino County wines, or Hopland winery wines, or McFadden Vineyards wines. I love wine from different areas. Pour me a glass, I’ll taste it; send me a bottle, I’ll write about it.

I use my blog to write about what I like, it is usually about wine; but I have written about everything from travel to Pokémon. I am not a hardcore journalist, and would write about the wines of Burgundy if it gave me a shot at traveling to Burgundy to taste wines that I could then come back home and write about having tasted. I try to disclose sample wines or contest entry inspired entries within such a post.

I will continue to review wines fairly. I don’t believe I have written a negative review, trashed a wine or winery, in two years. I am a cheerleader for the industry, and if I don’t have anything nice to say about a wine  then I will look for something nice to say or simply refrain from writing anything at all.

Anyway, that is my long-winded way of saying congratulate me on my new job, and I’ll keep on writing here as time allows.

One week ago, almost three dozen online wine writers, wine bloggers, took time out from singing Rebecca Black’s anthem, to meet online and taste and tweet about five wines from Bordeaux.

Using the hashtag #PlanetBordeaux, each tweeted comment was viewable in a stream, and tasters were able to enter their comments from the site created for the online tasting event.

Today, In the last of a five part series, I’ll give you my review of the fifth wine tasted last Friday, and then share comments from my fellow wine bloggers.

My review:

90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. I feel odd describing the color of a Bordeaux wine using the word burgundy, as Burgundy is not Bordeaux, but sometimes aBordeaux is burgundy and this is one of those tomes. Cherry on the nose, cherry on the palate. Least tannic wine of the night. Easily approachable, but a little green, vegetal, cocoa and woody behind the cherry front. Plenty big, and  a long finish.

Others wrote:

Would have guessed more than 10% Cab Franc… pepper all over the place on this one

Working backwards … big chocolate finish.

Whoooo…#5 is a big’un!

Penin strikes me as soft. A Lionel Ritchie kind of wine. Lacks thunder.

Back to fruit on the Ch Penin 2009 – blackberries/raspberries

my bottle has 2009

2009 Chateau Penin: drinks more mature than the 2006 Butte to me.. Digging it

’08 Ch. Penin – Classic cherry flavors with a dash of rhubarb(?), nice long finish. Well made.

Tasting sheet reads 08, wine 09 — 90% Merlot 10% Cabernet Franc.

Ch. Penin is really fruity. I’d pour this for a first time BDX drinker.

2009 Chateau Penin Bordeaux Superiore is not bad for how young it is, nice complex structure

not particularly loving the Ch. Penin so far

Hmmm… Does everyone have the 2009, or is there a mizx out there?

Really odd wine. Green up front, lush on the finish.

sour cherries on the palate, chalky, delicious – 09 Ch Penin

My Penin is an 09

The ’09 Ch. Penin interesting… keep thinking ‘savory’

This last one is much less nuanced. More your garden variety Merlot.

Yeah, I noticed the tasting sheet said 2008. I gots the 2009 tho

Some floral notes like soaps in a pretty bathroom

Ch. Penin Tradition 2008 probably the most “friendly” of the wines for a newbie.

That last one in any line-up always has the benefit of my wine-buzz – dayum, this is some good stuff 🙂

mine is a 2009. layers of charcoal and fruit. a bit thick.

Château Penin Tradition 2008 Picking up on the Cabernet Franc, even though 10%. Red fruit, black pepper, cedar, & veggies

Drinks so mature for its age, that I would never blind guess an 09 from Bordeaux

The Penin 2009 is too friendly. Do you know people like that?

A little cow flesh makes this Penin much tastier…or vice versa

someone in Texas craving beef. No way. 🙂

I would have thought I’d gotten enough Beef Brisket in Austin this week, but for some reason, I’m craving more. 🙂

2009 Penin is tasty, fruity but still young. What are your thoughts on aging potential? Enough tannins?

another 100% merlot.

I agree with the too friendly, I might have started the tasting with this one. It’s the guy who tries too hard.

2009 Penin Tradition – Nice notes of pot-roast, clay, mud, mushroom-funk, dark chocolate.

Gooseberry on gossamer wings with a touch of truffle

a mix of red currant and violet overtones on the 09 penin

Surely this Penin is 100% Sauvignon Blanc #horribleatblindtasting #badwinehumor (note: This was my favorite tweet of the night, kudos to Joe Herrig @suburbanwino)

I totally got the herbaceousness as well. Like the roses and violets on it this.

the crowd gathered here is liking this very much. What’s the retail on this?

young nose flabby middle nice mellow tannins don’t think its gonna age to well

Great color, garnet. Dark berries, cherry tartness, well-integrated.

Disclosure: I’m fairly certain it has been clear, but better overly conscientious than not enough; I received 5 wines from Bordeaux to taste for possible review. The wines came from Michael Wangbickler of Balzac Communications & Marketing, working on behalf of folks in France who would like their wines purchased by American consumers, and Planet Bordeaux is the name for this promotional effort. I am grateful for the opportunity to stray a little outside my ordinary focus on occasion; while Mendocino County wines has been a focus lately, good wine that are affordable, and readily available are also one of my focuses. Availability may be harder, visit your wine shop instead of a grocery store and ask your merchant to bring these in if you want to try them; but there is no question that these are wonderful food wines, delicious and all about $15 or so.

Last Friday, almost three dozen online wine writers, wine bloggers, met online to taste and tweet about five wines from Bordeaux.

Using the hashtag #PlanetBordeaux, each tweeted comment was viewable in a stream, and tasters were able to enter their comments from the site created for the online tasting event.

Today, I’ll give you my review of the fourth wine tasted on Friday, and then share the comments from my fellow wine bloggers.

My review:

This is a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend red wine, and the color is what you would expect for a bottle of red wine. The nose is many noted with herb, spice, oak, and fruit. Nice tannins, chewy yet very drinkable multilayered wine with chocolate, eucalyptus, and mint supporting rich blackberry, cassis, and cherry fruit flavors. Good long finish. Really solid wine. Great price at only $15, seriously drinks like twice the price or more.

Others said:

nice oyster shell nose. love it.

red satin sheets billowing in the wind

1.5 hrs. decanted and still a tight girl

This be toasty. Toasty, I say.

Parenchere tight for me but only on the nose. Plenty going on on the palate, an oxymoron, I know

Minty, mintiness on Parenchere.

I get beef jerky and coffee on the nose


I’m enjoying the spicy, dry pluminess of the Parenchere. There’s a nice & tart finish.

Stanky indeed… and I dig some stank, aromas evolving quickly..

a big nose o’ coffee

Just mehh. My least favorite thus far. Very acidic and not balanced. No personality….yet….

Goodness Gracious! That is a nose I was not expecting! FUNK!

We’ve got a toasty, ripe one here!

decanted – nose is awesome. Earthy, almost Burgundian.

has by far the best nose so far. sexy.

I get interesting caramel notes on the nose; black currant, dry fruit & tobaco on the palate

it’s savory & earthy

1/2hour after decanting, dumb nose, but opens up again after an hour. Good flavors of plum and cherry.

a little hollow on the palate. Like the snout more than the gulp

I believe Parenchere has the largest production of all the wines tonight if I’m not mistaken.

Parenchere has me really looking for food now. The neighbor’s cat should stay away.

Nice dusty tannin finish, well made, delicious medium-bodied wine.

Was the 1% Malbec added 2 to add flavor, color, or structure the wine?

I think that is what is planted on the estate, not what’s in this particular wine.

ah yes, thanks for the clarification on the Malbec

how ’bout aroma on that Malbec? it’s a little smoky

It is growing on me. Very juicy fruit.

get a lot more concentration of fruit and a bit of Crayons on the nose.

VERY Sexy, dirty, nose here – take a mud-bath, throw in black-fruit w/ tobacco and later-up!

Wine 4 enchilada sauce nose, I must be hungry

Some serious dark cherry on the palate.

Now picking up cocoa. Haven’t tasted yet, we are courting. She could be ring worthy

Rose petals and musk. very balanced and is pairing great with Pt. Reyes original blue.

Still plowing my big nose in the bowl – dig it! Haven’t even tasted yet

Wholly shit dude this is good, WOW!

Nice tannins

Interesting. Good balance, acids bright, tannins nice, complexity, plenty of fruit, yet just don’t love the flavors

Snap into a Slim Jim..w/ a toasty, mineral driven, streak of dark fruit – Nice

Question on Parenchere – tasting notes say 50 merlot, 40 cab, 10 frac, 1 malbec…bottle says 60 cab, 40 merlot

I’m pleased with this wine; very nice character and will definitely improve

Great entry – and it wants you to remember it when it leaves.

I still can’t get over the muddy, sexy barnyard nose on this thing! Makes me want to mudwrestle! (only kidding!)

black currant, leather, earth, good tannins

Well made, and would settle down with food. Darkest fruits of the night, surprised by bitterness on finish.

The Parenchere is roughly $15.

If I had this, a room, and lube -I’d lock the door 😛


Oh my. I’ll take a case.

Ch de Parenchere could be my new #1 tonite slipping just past Lugagnac

I’m with you, but leaning toward Lugagnac.

Cocoa well integrated with bright berry and tannins, me like!

This seems like a classic Bordeaux to me. Savory and complex. Anyone else agree?

This 2007 Chateau de Parenchere is also smooth and I’m even getting some hints of dark chocolate

It hath grown on me as well.

LOVE CH. de Parenchere. – this lady gets the glass slipper, lingerie and a diamond. Bravo for unique ness

Château de Parenchère Cuvée Raphaêl 2007 – LOVING the grilled asparagus action on it. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the veggies.

OK, I’m caving….nose is wooing me now.

definitely savory and complex.. haven’t had many BDX with such a minty nose in recent memory

Such a great value. Very nice wine. Thank you

Soft red fruit, earth, mushroom, velvety tannins, mouthfeel. Integrated. Highly recommend

This Parenchere gets smoother & smoother the longer it sits in my glass. Mmm… and it is mellowing.

The mint blew off of this — or I got innured to it.

A nice commingling of Old, New, and more Old 🙂 Good juice.

YES! It’s really opening up and pleasant. For $15, this is an amazing wine!! Loooove it…

If this is Classic Bordeaux, New World needs remedial school. I’d buy more Bordeaux & less Rhone if like this

Parenchére softening. Really needed time. The bitter bite on the finish is gone. I see why Becky Sue recommended it.

reminds me of a walk thru the Eurcalyptus forest near my house

Glad I was convinced to stick around with Parenchere….really unfolding nicely now… the deflowering of a virgin. I agree,

it opens up very nicely. I wasn’t sure at first, but I’m liking it more and more with each sip.

great stuff you shared with us. My favorite of the night.

Thank you for sharing your outstanding wine.

60% cab sauv & 40% merlot in the Perenchere? really? I thought from color & berry some petit verdot ?

Last Friday, the internet nearly melted as almost three dozen online wine writers, wine bloggers, met online to taste and tweet about five wines from Bordeaux.

Using the hashtag #PlanetBordeaux, each tweeted comment was viewable in a stream, and tasters were able to enter their comments from the site created for the online tasting event.

Soon the cries of “hey, who do I have to sleep with to get in on this,” and “what about me?” could be read across the webs as wine bloggers without the good fortune to have been initially chosen by Michael Wangbickler of Balzac Communications & Marketing to taste in this highly successful educational promotion for Planet Bordeaux worked to be included in future tasting events.

Today, I’ll give you my review of the third wine tasted on Friday, and then share the comments from my fellow wine bloggers.

Château de Terrefort-Quancard 2008

My review:

A Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Unsurpringly, this third red wine from Bordeaux France is also reddish purple in the glass. Even with decanting, this wine is tight, but what nose notes are showing are loamy, dank, earthy mushroom with spice and red fruit. The mouth is cherry and raspberry, with herb and mineral. The wine is blunt, with and abruptly short finish.

Others wrote:

I’m really glad I gave these 1.5 hrs. w/oxygen. Still big backbone of acidity

It really needs some air, time. Tannin dominates right now.

Should have decanted the Terrefort-Quancard… not open yet

mushrooms immediately on the nose

Chateau de Terrefort is 64% merlot, 36 cab. Fermented in concrete. 70k bottles (not cases :p)

yeah, super glad I decanted these. TTL often forgets to suggest when to decant…crucial if u ask me.

Noted. Thanks! Vinturi, anyone?

liking the forest floor ‘shroom nose on ’08 Terrefort-Quancard.

more limestone soils

Terrefort smells like…. hmm… nothing? Nothing at all?

tightly wound with chalky tannins and slightly bitter. First two were more friendly for this American palate.

More earthy, mineral nose up front, a touch of red fruit riding in the back-seat.

I get pencil lead (the big fat primary ones), forest floor, and dried cherries

I also get a grandmother’s attic hat box as it opens up.

appropriate. mushroomy, earthy, minerality.

red fruit, razzberry, (with a z), hint of earth.

like a mushroom raspberry salad

Definitely the earthiest of the wines we have tried so far. i’d pair food as I would with a Pinot Noir in some cases

Agree on pencil lead, dust, smells a bit hot.

Youngish, lasting, tannins, but very interesting wine. What’s the price point?

Hellz yes….pencil lead fo’ shizzle.

At first taste, this reminded us of a Pinot Noir

reminds me of Eddie Munster,a cute little flavor monster with a bit of bite

Quancard is one house I’ve had before and liked. But this one isn’t doing it for me structurally or flavor-wise.

aromatically challenged.

Terrefort-quancard is awesome!

little bit of funk hiding behind spices and red mike n ike’s

i’m getting some indian spice, maybe cardamom.

I mean, the Terrefort tastes really nice. Good acidity, but it’s barely got any nose to this guy

Good bit o’ tannin on the mouthfeel

I get more going on on the palate than the nose. Can’t wait to revisit in a few hours.

I dig the loam there too

Château de Terrefort-Quancard 08 finding nose/palate conflicting

Yep, seems like this one needs a few minutes to open up.

It’s growing on me the longer it breathes.

This wine seems to be opening up nicely in the Riedel Vinum Bordeaux glass.

Yikes seems tight and tart. Time in the glass please

I think it’s only aromatically challenged if you didn’t decant. For me it’s got a nose and a half.

The 2008 Terrefort-Quancard is definitely earthy; I get forest floor, tobacco, dry fruit, but not a long finish.

thinking these will be better tomorrow night after some time out…

rather tart for me- rhubarb, cherries, white pepper, bubble-gum and chalk dust.

I decanted for an hour. Barely anything. Eh, different noses, diff. bottles. Whatcha gonna do?

I do have 2 say the tannins are a bit… much. I’d like to try it again tomorrow & try another bottle next year as well!

very awkward finish for me, I’d have to give it a major pass – for my palate.

Lot’s of interesting & different comments about aromas, tastes, in the Château de Terrefort-Quancard 2008. Terroir, peeps?

gonna try it again tomorrow and see if I like it better

this wine needs a nice slab of beef to tame those tannins

time + beef

The Terrefort Qunacard is roughly $14


Yesterday, I shared what I thought of a 2006 Bordeaux Merlot, and we looked at what dozens of other wine bloggers had to say about the same wine when they tasted it at the same time in a virtual live tasting sponsored by Planet Bordeaux and organized by Michael Wangbickler of Balzac Communicatons.
Today we look at a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Château de Lugagnac 2008.
Besides the color, a nice dark red wine color, the first thing I took note of is the nose; the Lugagnac features a strongly earthy nose with hits of smoke, cherry and oak. The mouth is berry, cherry, herb and oak. This really is a good food wine and would show differently when paired with different foods. Nice clean tapering finish. A nice drinkable wine.
My fellow online wine writers had this to say:

cherries and dark loamy earth

Lugagnac takes a more serious tone.

Not as keen on the Lugagnac. All the smoke on the finish wipes out the fruit.

Hello Barn-yard and burnt blackberries! – LOVE IT! 🙂

lacks the structure and acidity of La Gatte

more cocoa, some herbal notes make it legit cab/merlot blend. Long finish. Who needs big fruit?

My geeky research tells me that 08= a wet spring & dull, damp summer. However, nice weather Sept-Oct “saved the day.”

softer, yes. But really drinkable. Mocha and cherry.

Nice red fruit up front, tailing off to a mineral & gentle toasty character w/ a drying finish.

Love the funk and smoke

Great acidity

50% merlot, 50% cab. Deep red, vibrant color

I think Lugagnac has a range of tannins that promise further development vs. the fruity Butte.

ripe red and black fruits, herbs on nose — black currant, hint of minerality on palate

dang! Lugagnac WAY more earthy. More oak. There’s the Cab Franc (before I look at the notes. Puttin’ it out there!)

I wanna know what the fuck “Merlot Noir” is tho…that’s what is says on the sheet. Is there “Merlot Blanc”?

They use it more than once so I assume not a typo.

what is merlot noir as opposed to merlot?

cherry taste, very strong aroma on nose…

Very rich finish, like smoky butterscotch

burnt earth, cocoa, some fruit. Surprisingly hot for only 13.5%. Grippy tannins.

black pepper, blackberry, beef jerky, smoked cedar.

whoa dose of herbs big time on this, way more aromatic than wine #1.

64% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, right?

Yea, basically, with a hnt of PV.

the tasting sheet says 50/50 merlot and cab.

crap. Really?! No Cab Franc in the Lugagnac?? Coulda fooled me

the sheet shows 50/50m which is right?

No Franc. 🙂

ya but btl says P.V. too

yeah, I put the Cab Franc out there too, only to be embarrassed by my stupid nose

I think this Lugagnac is going to get better & better as the bottle opens

Definitely mocha, and sweeter fruits, but fairly one-dimensional. Not a lot of change from attack to finish.

Loved the first but love this one even more. Complexity that the first lacked.

I get rose petals in an old cedar box on the nose. Softly elegant. with a bit of spice on the finish. great mouthfeel!

I don’t care what anyone says: herbal/green/pyrazines are part of the varietal profile of the Cabs (and even merlot.)

finally! there’s nothing wrong with some herbs in the mix, even some green peppers.

lighter all around,bit of fresh pressed linen in this, oh wait I’m smelling the table cloth I think

Loved the first but love this one even more. Complexity that the first lacked.

Lovin the cedar-soaked-leather strips.

I love the tannins on this one… I love the slight peppery spiciness on this.

spicy medium tannins and soft finish

merlot/cab 110k cases. Nose is dusty, red fruit as it opens. tad herbal.

interestingly the sheet says 100K BOTTLES not cases…hmmm.

apologies 100k bottles not cases.

might be better with time, but for now it’s not drinking as well as the La Butte for me

did I just open the spice cabinet? What is that?

Could swear this had some cab franc….hint of veggie green.

French winemakers need to stop using Babelfish to translate backlabels.

Or use it correctly. French to Mandarin Chinese back to French and then into English

I’m liking the smooth balance of the Chat de Lugagnac. Nice rose aroma

the 2008 Chateau de Lugagnac is more earthy to my taste w nice tannins, good finish

Everyone thinks green is limited to Cab Franc. Poor cab franc, pyrazine scapegoat.

Anyone got a price on the Lugagnac?

$13ish, I think.

Lugagnac is roughly $16 per bottle retail.

$16 retail

Thats a reasonable price

Even at $16 – I’d hit the 2007 Chateau de Lugagnac – I’d hit it like the fist of an angry God – just sayin..

LOL, is that good or bad?

$16 Great glass of awesome.

Dirty-cherry bombs, forest floor, black cherry, plum-sauce

Enjoying the lingering cocoa/plumy finish on this Lugagnac. Pleasant and I agree, it’ll improve w/time!

The Lugagnac is fairly simple in mouth to me. doesn’t seem to have varietal profile. dead mid palate. so so finish. sorry 😦

seems like very low use of oak to me. I’d be surprised if any was new, which I’m fine with.

Seems as though they use just enough oak to get that ever so slight caramel note.

Winemaking notes are sparse. It’s all terroir, you know.

That’s not unusual for a French producer.

I do dig the 13.5% ABV on the first two wines 🙂

Should be said, BTW, that Lugagnac avoids chems. other than sulphur. And fining is natural.

I could drink this while sitting in a red velvet chaise lounge, that’s what it reminds me of.

I’m getting a little mint and fennel

I’m enjoying the finish. It’s kind of fun and allows you to contemplate… 😉

I’m really loving the 2008 Chateau de Lugagnac, more elegant than #1 and great with Savoie cheese 🙂


$16 for the Chateau de Lugagnac–any day–tastes more expensive.

A nice warm bowl of Lamb-strew w/ be off the hook with this

Getting wildly conflicting opinions on the Lugagnac. Hmm.

Indication of the wines complexity, bro 🙂

getting gobs of dark tea in the mouth…

For decades, Bill Traverso of Traverso’s Gourmet Foods and Liquors has been the man nearly everyone in Santa Rosa trusts when searching out a particular bottle of wine, Sonoma County’s wine merchant above all others. Bill is the chairman of Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine’s Grand Harvest Awards, which makes the awards special enough for me to take notice, but Bill also points at something he feels sets this competition apart from others, “wines are judged by region…[each wine is] terroir ranked against its competitors. GHA recognizes wine entries that best exemplify the terroir of their respective viticultural areas, and acknowledges its influence on wine quality.”

This year the competition, first held in 1990, saw nearly two dozen judges set about tasting around one and a half thousand wines, from about 150 different American Viticultural Areas or other discrete wine appelations.

Of the numerous award winners, these are Mendocino County wineries that won awards, and wineries that won awards using Mendocino County grapes:



Fetzer Vineyards, Brown-Forman Corporation, 09 Riesling, $9.99

Parducci Wine Cellars, Mendocino Wine Co., 09 Sustainable White, $11


Fetzer Vineyards, Brown-Forman Corporation, 09 Chardonnay, $8.99

Five Rivers Wines, Brown-Forman Corporation, 09 Pinot Noir, $12.99

Parducci Wine Cellars, Mendocino Wine Co., 09 Chardonnay, $11

Paul Dolan Vineyards, Mendocino Wine Co., 09 Chardonnay, $18


Bonterra Vineyards, Brown-Forman Corporation, 09 Sauvignon Blanc, 60% Lake County/40% Mendocino, $13.99

Fetzer Vineyards, Brown-Forman Corporation, 08 Cabernet Sauvignon, $8.99

Fetzer Vineyards, Brown-Forman Corporation, 09 Gewurztraminer, $9.99

Fetzer Vineyards, Brown-Forman Corporation, 08 Merlot, $8.99

Fetzer Vineyards, Brown-Forman Corporation, 09 Shiraz, $8.99Parducci Wine Cellars, Mendocino Wine Co., 07 Petite Sirah, $11

Little Black Dress Wines, Brown-Forman Corporation, 08 Cabernet Sauvignon, $10.99

Little Black Dress Wines, Brown-Forman Corporation, 09 Sauvignon Blanc, $10.99

Little Black Dress Wines, Brown-Forman Corporation, 09 Chardonnay, $10.99

Parducci Wine Cellars, Mendocino Wine Co., 07 True Grit, $30

Parducci Wine Cellars, Mendocino Wine Co., 09 Pinot Noir, $12

Paul Dolan Vineyards, Mendocino Wine Co., 07 Deep Red, $45

Anderson Valley (AVA)


Handley Cellars, 07 Pinot Noir, $30

V. Sattui Winery, 09 Riesling, $24


Navarro Vineyards, 09 Riesling, $18

Navarro Vineyards, 09 Gewurztraminer, Late Harvest, $35


Navarro Vineyards, 09 Gewurztraminer, Estate Bottled, $19

Navarro Vineyards, 09 Edelzwicker, $13

Navarro Vineyards, 270 Pinot Gris, $19

Navarro Vineyards, 09 Chardonnay, Premigre Reserve, $25

Navarro Vineyards, 09 Pinot Noir, $29

Mendocino (AVA)


Handley Cellars, 08 Pinot Noir, $25

Navarro Vineyards, 09 Syrah, $25

Navarro Vineyards, 09 Genache, $27

Navarro Vineyards, 09 Zinfandel, $19


Barra of Mendocino, 07 Cabernet Sauvignon, $20

Girasole vineyards, Barra of Mendocino, 09 Hybrid red, $13

Girasole vineyards, Barra of Mendocino, 09 Pinot Blanc, $13

Navarro Vineyards, 09 Savignon Blanc, Cuvee 128, $18

Navarro Vineyards, 09 Chardonnay, $17

Navarro Vineyards, 09 Pinot Noir, $19


Barra of Mendocino, 07 Pinot Noir, $20

CalNaturale, California Natural Products, 09 Chardonnay, Organically Grown, $12.99/liter

Navarro Vineyards, 09 Zinfandel, Old Vine, $25

Navarro Vineyards, 09 Navarrouge, $14

Pacific Redwood, Pacific Redwood Winery, 09 Organic Merlot, $10.5

Mendocino County (County Appellation)


Bonterra Vineyards, Brown-Forman Corporation, 09 Pinot Noir, $19.99


Bonterra Vineyards, Brown-Forman Corporation, 09 Chardonnay, $13.99

Bonterra Vineyards, Brown-Forman Corporation, 08 Merlot, $15.99

Weibel Family Vineyards & Winery, 06 Chardonnay, Weibel Family, $14.95

Weibel Family Vineyards & Winery, 09 Pinot Noir, Knightsdale, $15.95

Mendocino Ridge (AVA)


Stephen & Walker, Stephen & Walker, Trust Winery Ltd., 09 Chardonnay Late Harvest, $65

Yorkville Highlands (AVA)


Route 128 Winery, 09 Viognier, Opatz family Vineyards, $19


Route 128 Winery, 07 Syrah, Opatz family Vineyards, $24


This is a terrific opportunity to search out a bottle of wine that isn’t just good, but it a good example of what a wine from the area it comes from should taste like.

Cheers and enjoy!

Last Friday, I wrote about that night’s online organized tasting of five wines from Bordeaux. The tasting was conducted using and a full stream of comments can be viewed on twitter by searching the hashtag that was a appended to all comments, #planetbordeaux.

I am going to share the five wines here, one a day, in a five part series, this week, and I am going to include the notes from the 35 or so wine bloggers who participated in the tasting live. It is interesting to note that while the wine tasting notes were sometimes contradictory, when taken as a whole, they give a much richer description than my notes alone would have given.

Before I review today’s wine, I’m going to share what the tasters wrote, in 140 characters or less, about the experience:

These are wonderful wines — Elegant, with character but not overpowering.

I am drinking beyond my expectations for these wines tonight…well played thus far.

wines — under 13.5% ABV — I do like that! (Means i can sip more…Shhhh)

I’m not getting the usual earthiness I get with Bordeaux. Is it me? Or are the French starting to “new world” their ways?

my decision to not spit these wines out is starting to pay dividends.

These are definitely session wines!

The prices on these are beyond sweet.

Very good QPR wines 🙂

Wowzers, all of these wines get better the longer they are opened & also in the glass. LOVE to watch ’em evolve!!

Good quality, moderate alcohol, and very good price-points.

“classic Bordeaux” is longevity, balance, structure in my HEART, but also expensive, overrated in my HEAD

These wines are fun! Love the ability to taste ’em like this, at once to compare. 😉

My peeps agree, all 5 wines, good price points, stylistically some differences, but overall good quality. Thank You

Really enjoyed this. Lots of great small producers! Great discoveries!

Definitely! I LOVE the Bordeaux wines, and the SRP on these is fantastic.

I thought these were great finds! And the price points make these every day values. Now, if everyone could get them…

the mellow alcohol across the board really helps bring out the aromas and the taste in these Bordeaux wines.

Great way to kick-off spring! Nice wines, good price points, moderate alcohol — these guys can compete at similar $ points!

The only thing that could have made this #planetbordeaux tasting better would have been #bacon 🙂

One of the best things about a wine tasting — the after-party! Good friends, good food, and good wines!

You guys put together a great list of wines to taste tonight, thank you! I had a lot of fun and learned much.

Tasted #PlanetBordeaux wines w/ a friend & when she heard the prices $13-$16, she said WOW. Admitted she needs to get over varietal labels.

Today, I taste a Merlot, made from 100% Merlot grapes:

La Butte du Château La Gatte 2006 – 100% Vieilles Vignes – Merlot – 13.5% alc.

The other words on the label include, “Bordeaux Supérieur, Appelation Bordeaux Supérieur Contrôlée,” and “Mis En Bouteille Au Chateau,” and “”

Okay, a beautiful full purple-y red in the glass, nice dusty earthy cherry nose, medium full body, nice bright fruit in mouth, cherry and plum, nice minerality, good acidity. long tapering finish. Drinking well now.

I opened and decanted an hour before tasting, and my last nose and sip two hours after opening was better than after only an hour. This is a big tannic bruiser, great nose, great mouth, delicious while unusual for someone used largely to only California Merlot.

I like it very much, and would happily taste it again.

Okay, those are my tasting notes. Here are the notes from the other tasters:

minerality from the limestone I suspect

only available in CA and NY so east/west coast extremes, point your ears…

Tight, very young, lean, pepper for sure, would not pick blind as 100% Merlot.

surprised here too

Getting spice, bright red fruit (raspberries), currant, and a dash of pepper. Nice!

Good fruits on La Gatta La Butte. Is this all merlot?

still rather young to me.

Glad I gave these breathing room….started out tannic an hr ago. Now still lean and mean…never would’ve known 100% merlot

massive red fruit attack now with strawberries, red licorice, cherries and raspberries.

100% Merlot (Old Vine), according to the notes.

“Old Vine” is that really something they can brag about in Bordeaux?

It seems “old vine” is 30-35 years on average for their vineyards… which is old but not like a century

Like the acids and the subtle hints of minerals.

Mouthwatering acidity and subtle tingle of tannins — a “Y” sensation down the hatch… Happy to be in Bordeaux.

the nose on La Butte du Chateau La Gatte is wonderful.

This will be better tomorrow. Too tight. The wine needs a Manhattan, a massage, and a good night’s sleep. Needs to relax.

Have a feeling I’m going to wish I was home early enough to let all of these breathe. I suppose time will tell.

California needs to take a few notes on what a 100% merlot wine can/should taste like. Jam belongs on toast.

Nicely balanced, and love the bright (acid) red fruit its delivering.

I’d love to try this La Butte du Chateau La Gatte 2006 in another 5yrs too!

totally agree on the bright acidity. Lacking a little something…but nice. Long finish too.

love the nose on wine 1. Old Vine Merlot. Plum, cherry, red fruit

Seems thin in body but big zing of Rhubarb and cigar box

funky and light, minerals and cherries.

dark cherry smell and taste.

Already 7 years old, this may be at or past drinkable peak. Not that it won’t get more “interesting.” Thoughts?

Already five year old, wonder if Butte is at its drinkable peak. Not that it won’t get more “interesting.” Thoughts?

Had to check my math! Ha Ha.

Ha! I was wondering where you came up w/ 7 🙂

7yrs is nothing for a wine with the acids of this one – IMO 🙂

it’s still got some tannic grip. I respectfully disagree 🙂

the Butte still seems really young to me, I’d give it a few more years, personally

Can’t agree there, this is still drinking very young IMHO.

I think it’s sipping nicely now. I personally wouldn’t hold it too long.

“dirt covered cherries” says the SPinC

very dirty but good substance.

wine 1 2006 Merlot, good structure, lots of life in the puppy. Drinks great now, would cellar well

my mouth is still fuzzy. But in a soft, way.

I’m really surprised there’s no CabFranc in the mix, with hints of tobacco leaf around the edges, esp. on the mid-palate.

agreed….I would’ve guessed a little cab franc as well. Really dig this. Can’t CA make merlot like this?! 🙂

I was thinking about that, too (Cab Franc), but I don’t get any telltale on the nose.

2006 Chateau La Gatte La Butte: A friendly, balanced take on Bordeaux. Nice start. 88+ points.

There was a range but around but $15ish.

La Butte Rock, cherries and rust. Sounds like a band name.

About $15 for the La Butte du Chateau La Gatte 2006….completely worth it and will probably taste even better tomorrow.

More than worth its price tag.

La Butte = Great QPR at $15

Yeah, I can dig the 06 La butte du Ch La Gatte at $15ish – definitely would like to see this in another 5 yrs

Yeah. Really. At $15 they could move a lot of this.

Food pairing? I’m thinking wet meat, more pot roast than NY Strip.

absolutely or a pork osso buco !

roast chicken for me w/ the Butte. On the “wet meat” side, I wouldn’t mind a coq au vin w/ this

Meat please.

ummm, not to be a thorn, but Beef BOURGUIGNON with BORDEAUX? A contractition in terms, no?

would probably be the same recipe, but called “Boeuf Bordelais” or something like that

I am laughing my ass off right now….BORDEAUXGUIGNON

Here’s another pairing, a spread of goat cheese, pancetta, shallots and shitake on fresh bread

loving the alive, ruby red color on this old vine merlot. She’s a sexy beast

yeah, i 2 wld “hit it” 🙂

go home with…maybe not marry 😉

yeah, that’s the cherry in there…dirt and cherry.

Wine 1 (Merlot) excellent minerality – does this count as a vitamin supplement?

We really like this one. Strawberry, leather, fruit is emerging after a few minutes.

Wine 1 Butte merlot – flavor profile – red fruit, dark strawberry/berry, dry finish, good tannins.

dusty and tight nose , but springs to life on the palette with bright acid and cherry

getting bit more florals now as it opens

even w/ 1hr decant, still opening up!

I think its good to go now, Bordeaux Sup wines aren’t meant to age that long. It’s drinking nice now.

dont get me wrong, I like it now… think it can round out more

Why does merlot have the soft, fruity image in the US? This wine is pretty tannic and rustic – digging it.

Tomorrow, in part two of this five part series, we’ll taste a Château de Lugagnac 2008.

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