Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dessert Wine for Your Valentine - Part 1

Got dessert wine? I've just returned from Europe where they are so much more common, and am trying to get into thinking about them as part of a meal once a week.

Surprisingly, there are quite of few of them out there from the organic vintners. Here are some of my favorites:

1. For the Lover Who Likes Pretty Labels with Grapes 
*Frey Vineyards - Late Harvest Zinfandel ($24)

I don't write that much about Frey Vineyards' wine as they are no added sulfite, a category that is not of very much interest to me as the wines can be unstable. On the other hand, when it comes to dessert wines (where stability is not such an issue), Frey Vineyards has a lovely Late Harvest Zinfandel that is a sweet dessert wine.

It's grown in beautiful Redwood Valley (Mendocino County).

It comes in an elegant bottle and I think any Valentine would be happy to receive this along with some chocolate.

2. For the Lover Who Likes Strange Bottle Art
Bonny Doon - Vinferno ($20/$216)

Zinferno is a white dessert wine from Bonny Doon's biodynamic vineyards in Arroyo Seco. Made from grenache blanc and roussanne (two white Rhone varietals) it's certified biodynamic.

3. For the Lover Who Has Everything or For the Wine Geek
Wilridge Winery Estate Vintage Dessert Red ($20/$216)

For something really different, varietal wise, turn to Northwest producer Wilridge for a port made from Portuguese varietals Zweigeist, Tourega Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cao and Souzao.

4. Ceago Soul of Syrah Port ($28)

This is a combination of Syrah, Colombard, and Viognier from a biodynamic vintner in Lake County who is one of the Fetzer clan.

Ceago sits on the shores of Clear Lake. It's a beautiful destination winery with a gorgeous tasting area, beautiful estate, and stunning lakeside views - well worth a visit.

They used to also have a Late Harvest Semillon dessert wine but I couldn't find it any more.

5. Yorkville Cellars Sweet Malbec ($22)

This was invented in Mendocino by this iconoclastic, wonderful winery where they grow all seven of the noble varieties of Bordeaux, including Malbec, and sell them as Bordeaux blends but also as single varietals, so you can get to know each one.

This is a semi sweet effervescent rose and should be served chilled. (Personally I think it's sweet.) Previous vintages won Double Gold at the Mendocino Wine Competition.

6. Bonterra Muscat ($14)

Mendo organic powerhouse Bonterra makes a pretty sweet Muscat which can serve as an aperitif or with dessert. It's not a dessert wine per se, so it's not in the "contemplation wine" category, but it is a sweet way to end a meal.

*7. McFadden Vineyard is coming out with a new dessert wine this year - a late harvest Riesling which did very well at the SF Chronicle Competition, getting Best in Class last month. I'll post more about it when I receive a bottle (coming soon). If you want to go ahead and order it yourself, get in touch with McFadden Vineyards where John Cesano will get you all connected.

* = Pam's picks

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Penny Shipping Sale at Dashe - Through Jan. 31 Midnight!

One of my favorite East Bay wineries is having a sale! Now through midnight on Jan. 31, you can get penny a bottle shipping on all their wines, which include three that are organically grown:

Dashe's unique Les Enfants Terrible Zinfandel ($24)
A light style Zin

This is a great food-friendly wine, created for a local sommelier who wanted to highlight his cuisine.
See my earlier post here for more info. You have never tasted a Zin this light before - you owe it to yourself to try this Zin done in a Beaujolais style.

Get more details from the Men's Journal review of this wine; their writer called it a "Deliciously Wayward Zinfandel."

There are two versions of this: each one is sourced from organically certified vineyards in Mendocino County near Hopland.

• McFadden Vineyards, a major grower (and now vintner as well) in Potter Valley has grown organically for 40 years, where they raise grassfed beef and herbs in addition to its 160+ acres of vineyards.
• Heart Arrow Ranch, a biodynamic farm and vineyard, that grows vegetables, raises sheep, and more.

The 2011 Riesling ($20)

This is a very lovely, very dry Riesling grown on 30 year old vines.

You might try all three or get a mixed case sampler. I can firmly recommend these since I drink them often and have several cases in my cellar.

To get the shipping discount (good until Jan. 31 at midnight), enter PENNY in the discount box.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wines for Valentines: What To Buy? Organic Sparkling Wine Roundup

Nothing says Valentines Day more than a bottle of pink where can you find pink sparkling wines that aren't raised on Roundup? Here are three fabulous choices below,

And don't forget how well pink sparkling wine goes with meals throughout the year...salmon, chicken, crab, omelettes, duck...and it makes a great gift for any occasion. I recommend ordering some cases!

I will cover pink bubbles today; look for nonpink bubbles to follow.


From renowned Pinot Noir vintner Milla Handley comes Handley's 2006 Brut Rose ($40), a gold medal winner at the 2012 SF Chroncle wine competition.

Grown on estate vineyards in cool/hot climate Anderson Valley, it's 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Chardonnay.

Winery tasting notes here.

Visiting: Open daily with a beautiful tasting room that offers a farm-like visit and outdoor picnicking tables on a gorgeous deck, overlooking the rolling hills and spectacular rural beauty of Mendocino's Anderson Valley.

Where to find: From the winery or online. I found it via for $32.99 a bottle.


Mendocino is often nonconformist and this pink sparking wine fits that definition. Hopland's Terra Savia offers a unique Brut Rouge ($23), made from 100% Merlot.

This wine shares the same prestigious gold medal in the 2012 SF Chronicle wine competition as the Handley Brut Rose. 

Visiting: The winery, housed in an industrial building it shared with its olive oil presses, is open twice a year on Hopland Passport weekends or by appointment.

Where to find: The winery is the best bet, offering individual bottles, as well as cases for $225 (which brings the price down to under $18.75 a bottle). You might try Whole Foods, which often stocks Terra Savia's Chardonnays.


I recently heard a great lecture by the very entertaining and witty scholar Dr. Anne Prah-Perochon at the Legion of Honor's show on Louis XIV and learned about his government's economic war to take over the luxury trade from Italy. Ever since, the French have succeeded in making Americans' and the rest of the world associate French Champagne with style, success, joie de vie - and France.

French-owned Domaine Carneros, a Napa powerhouse sparkling wine producer, that produces only sparkling wine, offers its brut rose in the form of Cuvee de Pompadour ($36), named after Madame de Pompadour, the famous mistress of Louis XV, who is said to have made champagne popular at court.

Earlier vintages of this wine won double gold in the 2009 SF Chronicle wine competition.

Visiting: The winery is housed in an elegant French chateau-like complex and offers a tour of the making of their wines as well as tastings, starting at $30. It's located in the Carneros region, at the southern end of Napa Valley.

Where to find: From the winery. I also found a one-cent shipping deal for it on ($50 min. order required).

Note: Except for Cuvee de Pompadour, Domaine Carneros' other brut roses are becoming organic as of the 2010 vintages. While the winery sells other brut roses on its web site, they were not certified organically farmed (until the 2010 vintages).

Sunday, January 27, 2013

California Cabs - Wine Spectator's Top Organic Picks

Since I traveled in Italy, Sicily and Greece for most of the fall, I'm still catching up on my wine mags. It's a pleasure to flip through the pages all at once, and I almost feel like I'm tasting some great wines.

Wine Spectator's Nov. 15 issue features the 2009 vintage of California Cabernets. Many great Napa vineyards are featured and it's worth mentioning the organically grown ones on James Laube's recommendations.

Spottswoode's St. Helena Family Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon (96 pts, $145) makes the list for the best Cabs, in a very tight field where scores ranged from 96 to 97 among 13 wines. In fact, it almost seems like the "value" wine in the top 13 when you look at the prices for Schrader Cellars' Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard MM IX at $400 and Harlan Estate (96 pts) and Screaming Eagle (97 pts, both priced at $750 a bottle. Outta control, people.

Of the Spottswoode, Laube writes, "Beautifully crafted, showing a subtle mix of dried herbs, baking spices, and floral scents, with a light core of currant and blackberry flavors."

In the Top Values category, you'll find Chappellet, of Pritchard Hill, on the list with its Mountain Cuvee Napa Valley (89 pts) at $32 a bottle. They make more about 15,000 cases of this annually. This wine, alas, is not sourced wholely from their own organically certified vineyards, but it's worth noting here that their more expensive Cabernets will be, starting with the 2012 vintage. Note that it takes three years of organic viticulture to become organically certified, so any of the estate grown vintages since 2010 would also be organically grown.

There's also a short feature on the Pritchard Hill area in the mag, featuring several photos of Chappellet which is nice to see. I look forward to finally getting up there and doing some tasting when the weather gets a little nicer.

Other Cabernets that are grown organically that are listed in the A-Z section of the 2009 Cabs feature include:

94 points
• Dana Howell Mountain Hershey Vineyard ($325)

93 points
• Dana Napa Valley Lotus Vineyard ($325)

92 points
• Araujo Eisele Vineyard ($305)
• Dana Rutherford Helms Vineyard ($325)
• Staglin Family Cabernet Rutherford ($185)

91 points
• Ehlers Estate St. Helena 1886 ($95)

90 points
• Chappellet (in transition) Pritchard Hill ($135)

88 points
• Longmeadow Ranch (($45 - Napa Valley - but is this estate grown?)

86 points
• Grgich Hills ($60)
ยช Inglenook, Rutherford Cask ($75)

85 points
• Volker Eisele ($45) (2008)

Having listed them in point order, I should say I don't believe in the point system, but am just aggregating information on WS's rankings.

LA Times Wine of the Week: Cowhorn's Biodynamically Grown Syrah!

Congratulations to Cowhorn for getting a Wine of the Week pick from the LA Times (where my former, when-we-lived-in-Rockridge next door neighbor S. Irene Virbilia is the wine critic) for its Syrah.

This biodynamically certified vineyard and its excellent winery, which grows only Rhone varietals, are favored by many, including Wine Spectator's Matt Kramer. Robert Parker's rated their higher priced reserve Syrah 91 pts.

It's a fabulous place - see these photos from my trip there.

And savor the moment! This is a very impressive kudo.

Winemaker ("I'm not a winemaker") Bill and Barbara Steele have been long time financial experts helping organic farms manage the business side of their operations.   Former Marin County residents, they moved to southern Oregon to start their vineyard and were biodynamic from the start - and now, in a quiet way, have become a poster child for biodynamic practices in an area (southern Oregon) where they are the only organic winery around.

So there's all the more reason to celebrate their success!

Superlative growing practices can yield attention-getting results.

Cabot Vineyards - SALE!

Cabot Vineyards is having a wine's put three and six packs on sale with $10 shipping on orders...

The northern, cool climate vineyard located in Humboldt County got a little love from tasters at a recent Hospice du Rhone, the central California Rhone wine event, for its Syrahs. See my earlier post here.

The winery calls it "St. Joseph" in style. (This is a favorite Syrah region in France.)

To get it on the sale, visit their site.

The sale is good through in a few days.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Anime Wine Series The Drops of God Comes to Northern California!

The worldwide wine cartoon classic The Drops of God Book 5, an anime series focused on Tokyo wine bars and wine, now comes to Australia and California. The series has sold more than 3.5 million copies.

When the books launched in Korea, they had a huge impact on wine sales in the country. Here's how Reuters reported it:

"The minute it was translated into Korean, we had calls from three importers," said Basaline Granger Despagne, whose family has grown wine near France's Dordogne river for 250 years. Their Chateau Mont Perat 2001 Bordeaux appears early on in the manga.

"When it was translated into Chinese, people called us from Taiwan saying, 'I bought some Mont Perat and sold 50 cases in two days because of the manga'," she said in a phone interview.

Vol. 5 brings the main characters to Australia and to Napa where they sample wine from a variety of wineries, including many cult wineries.

Judging from readers comments on Amazon, this volume apparently jumps ahead in the story line.

In northern California the focus is on the search for it really? That's what the publisher's description says: "find the naunaces of Syrah in Northern California."

The storyline focuses on Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir in Napa and Sonoma, and Syrah only from southern California vintner Mandred Krankl and his Sine Qua Non winery, in the Santa Rita Hills, in Santa Barbara County. 

The characters visit the Napa region on the wine train through Carneros, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford and St. Helena.

Featured Napa wineries are:

• Kongsgaard - 2004 Chardonnay The Judge

• Marcassin - 1990 Pinot Noir (a $400 Pinot that is very high in alcohol)

• Hess - 2004 The Lion (a Cabernet that sells for around $138)

• Dominus - 1994 (a Bordeaux blend that lists for $2.500 a bottle)

• Kistler - Cuvee Cathleen (a single vineyard wine, priced around $175) from near Sebastopol

• Clos Pegase - 2007 Mitsuko's Vineyard Chardonnay from Carneros

• Etude - 2000 Pinot Noir (a $50 bottle) from Carneros

• Stag's Leap - 2004 Cask 23 (a $169 wine) from one of the best vineyards in Napa, famous from the Paris Tasting

• Opus One - 2004

• Harlan Estate

• Screaming Eagle

• Mondavi Heritage

• Caymus 2000

• Beringer 1999

• Heitz - 2004 Cabernet

Want to get filled in on the backstory? See here.

Or better yet, visit the brother and sister team, who are the authors, in this video interview below. Scroll forward to the 4 minute mark to see the story or skip ahead to 9:56 to the interview with the authors in their office/home/wine cellar.

In this rare interview, the duo says they do in fact not only taste the wines they write about but also visit the winery and meet the winemakers. It must have been fun to meet

Friday, January 25, 2013

Wine & Spirits' The Year's Best Syrah and Zin - The Organics Among Them

The February 2013 issue of Wine & Spirits arrived in my mailbox with their top picks for U.S. Syrah and Zin this year...and the usual organically grown powerhouse wineries made the lists.

Storybook Winery predictably placed second (with 94 points) on the Syrah list for its 2009 Napa Valley Estate Reserve ($65).

Grgich Hills' 2009 Napa Valley Estate Grown Zinfandel (biodynamic) ($35) rated 92 points, the same as Storybook's $48 Napa Valley Eastern Exposures Zinfandel.

Frog's Leap's 2010 Napa Valley Zin rated a Best Buy at $27. (Their estate wine is organically grown but the winery says they use grapes from other growers that are organic but not certified, so they can't label it organic).

Storybook Mountain, the only winery with three Zins on the list, also rated 91 points for its 2010 Napa Valley Mayacamas Ridge Zin ($36).

(On the Syrah list, Bob Lindquist of Qupe, a legend for Syrah, had three top wines, but none of them were from his organically certified vineyards.)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Real Wine Crush: 2013 SF Chronicle Public Wine Tasting (Feb. 16)

The annual, largest wine tasting of American wine in the country takes place Sunday, Feb. 16 in San Francisco at Fort Mason.

If you'd like to try some of the 5,500 wines entered, this is your chance.

Tickets are $70 in advance or $85 at the door. Food tibits from top chefs are also part of the scene and are included with your ticket. Details here.

Note this is not as prestigious an award as it may sound, since many, many top wineries choose not to participate. However among those who enter, there are some who truly are high quality.

The organic wineries taking best in class this year include:

Yorkville Cellars for its Bordeaux blend

Lucas Winery for its Chardonnay - this was a hotly contested category

McFadden Vineyards for its new Dessert Riesling (I look forward to trying it; it hasn't hit the market yet) which was a category with surprisingly stiff competition

McFadden also scored a Double Gold for their 2011 Chardonnay - most impressive.

Congratulations to these winners!

Zin Fans Annual Bash: 2013's ZAP Happens (Jan. 31-Feb. 2)

The annual Zinfandel Advocates and Producers Festival (aka ZAP) is coming up a week from now (Jan. 31-Feb. 2) in San Francisco with more than 200 producers attending the Grand Tasting on Sunday.

If you'd like to focus in on the organically grown wines in the Grand Tasting, print out this handy cheat sheet/list and take it with you.

The wineries in bold text are definitely ones to try. The ones with stars are musts.

Bonterra - a certified, reliable Zin you can find in large supermarkets or BevMo stores

***Bucklin - no longer certified but practicing organic on the "Ancient Vines" only - you owe it to yourself to try this heritage vineyard rarity, a field blend of 20+ varietals planted in the mid 1800s.

Carol Shelton Wines (*occasionally has 1 or 2 certified organically sourced Zins - ask about Wild Thing, Monga, and her Rose)

Castoro Cellars (*not sure if any of the certified vineyards are planted in Zin, so ask them)

***Dashe Cellars - McFadden Farm only - a Beaujolais (light) style Zin - you've got to try it to believe it, and then you might be hooked! I have several cases.

Green Truck Wines - certified, superbudget wine

***Grgich Hills Estate - certified organic and biodynamic from the famous Croatian winemaker who helped uncover the mysterious origins of this varietal

***Storybook Vineyards - hands down, the #1 Zin producer in America - and certified organically grown to boot - a hillside Napa Valley legend whose most recent vintages won Wine Spectator's highest Zin scores

The Lucas Winery - all certified organic and from Lodi - a very rare combination! I haven't tried their wines yet, but am looking forward to tasting all their wines.

***Tres Sabores - a Napa Valley gem, and one of the (quietly) famous and superlative (and organically grown) Zins; it made it into the Chronicle's very competitive top 100 wines of 2011. The winemaker grows only 8 acres of Zin in her Rutherford vineyards (prime Cab spot), so it's quite special indeed.

Kudos to Masut: From the American Wine Society

Ben and Jake Fetzder
Congratulations to Masut - Wine Journal, the magazine of the American Wine Society, recommends Masut's 2011 Pinot Noir as one of 21 Wines to Watch.

It's all the more exciting because it's grown in a unique spot, straddling the hills on the western side of the Ukiah-Hopland corridor...and not inside nearby Pinot Noir powerhouse Anderson Valley.

The two brother winemaking team is third generation vintners, who are the first to focus solely on this finicky varietal - they figured they had the right place to grow it.

Photo from my trip last summer
The winery is in a gorgeous setting - and you can visit about one day a year when the winery opens up for its release party when its open to the public (fee required). Sign up for their emails to stay on top of the timing!

Here are some photos I took at the 2010 release party last summer.

The winery is also open for private tours by appointment.

Masut was also selected by the Press Democrat as one of 7 top wineries to watch in 2013. Read more here.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Napa Organics: Yes, Virginia, There Are Even a Lot of Them

As I loitered yesterday in St. Helena in an upscale home decor haunt I've dropped in annually upon over the decades, I admired a lovely wine tablecloth, created by the owner of the shop, Vintage Home, apparently originally for the Napa Valley Wine Auction.

This magnificent table cloth (after much deliberation I ended up buying one) has a delightful, one of a kind (not sold anywhere else) map of Napa wineries running down the center of it. Being both a map freak and a wine aficionado, this rated as a must have.

During the course of my deliberations (small or large size? matching napkins or not?), I chanced into a conversation with a fellow admirer of the map tablecloth, an older woman who's son runs a very prominent Napa winery (that is not organic).

I mentioned that I wrote about organic wines and wineries, and she wondered aloud if there were any in Napa. Yes, I said and started pointing them out on the map - Ehlers, Staglin Family, Neyers (transitional), Hall, Longmeadow, Grgich Hills, Spottswoode, Tres Sabores, and Corison (uncertified), to name a few. She hadn't known.

How many Napa regulars must there be who are like her? I know it's a widespread phenomenon.

Earlier this year, I got into an online tangle on one of the foodie web sites that became a rather vitriolic and heated exchange (the site took the dialog down at my request) with a prominent Napa wine writer who swore up and down that Napa didn't have a pesticide problem. It was only when I sent her to the state ag mapping tools and the state dept. of pesticide regulations statistics for Napa County that she had an Aha moment.

For most of us, our prejudices outweigh the facts - especially when the facts are so hidden from view. And pesticides are invisible. If we don't see them, they don't exist. Oh.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Audiobook Adventures for Organic Wine Lovers

I don't know about you, but I'm totally addicted to listening to audiobooks in my car. It started last year when I had a grueling 3-hour round trip commute on America's worst highway - 880. (Seriously). It opened my eyes to the wonders of, a web site where the more you buy, the cheaper it gets.

You may start small, but for $200 you can buy 20 books, putting the per title price at about $10...for as much as 20 hours of reading pleasure a title.

For those of you who enjoy this sort of thing, here are some top titles to make the time fly when you're stuck in traffic, or on a plane or train, or just at home. You'll learn about some of America's leading organic vintners in the mix:

Napa by James Conaway

Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Historic Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Note to Self: Visit an Organic Winery in 2013!

I visited Napa Valley today to pick up some purchases and loiter in St. Helena, always an enjoyable outing. I found myself at Taylor's Refresher, enjoying a burger in the late afternoon, along with a small swarm of wine tourists.

A foursome next to me were breathlessly exclaiming over their visit to Domaine Chandon and the castle. Their 24 year old relative, an architect, picked out the list of wineries for them to visit. Their next stop was, therefore, not surprisingly, Sterling. All wineries based on architecture spectacle.

I was reminded how hard it must be for tourists to find good wineries.

We struck up a conversation, and after awhile, I suggested they might want to make an appointment the following day to see one of my personal favorites in Napa - Volker Eisele's. Located high above the noisy valley floor, there's no fancy architecture (unless you like historic barns like I do)...but you do get a tour with the owner, a walk through the organic (for 40 years) vineyard, and a sit down tasting with the owner. All for a very affordable price ($40). (Compare that to a "reserve tasting" at any major big brand winery.)

You also get the opportunity to purchase wines that are as good as it gets here in California - the top of the line Terzetto (written about previously here - it did better in Wine & Spirits magazine than Joseph Phelps' finest) for $75 or a very beautiful Cab for $45. These are some of Napa's gems.

They left, enthusiastic, and vowed to seek out the book Napa by James Conaway, which I also recommended to them. You can read about the heroes (including Volker) who saved Napa from development in it, and it's a fantastic piece of I-can't-stop-reading-this social history.

I left, feeling sad that tourists are led astray so easily - a fact we all know, but which I forget about. But happy because they were so open to discovering new things - and the bigger picture. It's renewed my interest in finishing my app and the book I hope to write on All This Stuff!

So, may you find the best organically grown wineries to visit this year - using the map I've created here. It's FREE and it's the only resource that shows you this information - in the whole wide world! So ENJOY...and make 2013 your year to drink wine grown without super icky pesticides! It will only heighten your pleasure.

Friday, January 4, 2013

2013 - New Year's Resolutions for This Organic Wine Lover

2013, I resolve to:

1. Visit some of the wineries I've been meaning to see: Hawk and Horse in Lake County, Matthiason in  Napa, and Giornata in Santa Barbara County. Others include Lucas in Lodi, Smith Vineyard in Grass Valley, and Lavender Ridge in Murphys - those farflung corners!

2. Start giving organic wine tours in northern California. (Let me know if you'd like to schedule one - email

3. Most of all, finish my wine app Organic Wine Uncorked: Wines for $20 or Less.

Looking back over 2012, a lot happened for me in terms of my wine education:

1. Formal Classes

After completing four of the five classes needed for a wine certificate at U.C. Berkeley Extension (a needed fifth class has not been offered for the past four semesters), I also took the Italian wine specialist class offered by the North American Sommelier Association, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in wine. One need not be a sommelier to take the class (I certainly am not), but it will open your eyes to a wide variety of Italian varietals and regions.

2. Wine Tasting across Southern Italy and Greece

In the fall of 2012, I visited southern Italy on a grand tour of ancient Greek sites, which took me to the wine regions of the Abruzzo, Puglia, Campania, and Sicily, before venturing on to Greece, where I tasted local wines in Athens, the Peloponnese, Santorini and Crete. (I'll be blogging about the trip and posting a few photos once they are all downloaded and edited).

3. Blogging

I published more than 125 blog posts about organic wines in the U.S. (primarily). There are now more than 320 published blog posts on this blog, which is the only blog to my knowledge about organic wine and organic viticulture in the U.S. I also hope to start finishing a lot of draft blog posts and publishing them.

4. App

Work on the app continues. It may also be released as an ebook and a print book. Stay tuned.


Wishing you all happy organic wine discoveries in 2013 and beyond!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Readers: 2012's Most Read Posts on Organic Wine Uncorked

Summing up the year in blog posts from Wine Country Geographic's blog Organic Wine Uncorked,  here are the most popular posts from 2012 (includes only posts with 50 or more views) below.

Thank you to all of you who have circulated these online - that's probably how most of them got viewed.

Since I started this blog in May 2011, it's gotten close to 25,000 page views...way beyond my expectations.

The most popular posts from 2012 were about some common themes:

Wine sales - recommendations, discount codes, etc.
Winery release parties
Organic selects from leading industry competitions (Sunset, Wine Spectator, Hospice du Rhone, etc.)

In addition, a few articles about policy (Argentina's wine grape pesticides, French on American laws, and bee colony collapse and wine grape insecticides) have also made the top posts - which especially does my heart good.

In the coming months, I will be working hard to complete the app I started  in 2011 - it will feature 250+ organically grown wines you can find for under $20. I guarantee you'll like the wines - many are on top lists from a variety of wine writers and critics - and if you do, you can look forward to telling others about the app!

Piazza da Campovida

Inventing Wine Book - Author Interview

Bonny Doon Releases Banana Slug Roussanne

Bees Affected by Wine Insecticide

Masut Pinot Noir Release Party

BevMo - Organics on Sale

Alsatian Wine Festival in Anderson Valley

Bonny Doon in Photos

French Decry Weird American Wine Laws

Hopland Passport Weekend - A Guide To

Bonny Doon - Organic vs. Not Organic - List
Cabot - Hospice du Rhone award

Chiarito Wine Release Party

Pinot Noir Sale (Deloach/Masut)

McFadden Party - Potter Valley

Organic Roses

McFadden's New Wines

Riesling Sale, McFadden

Dashe Cellars Sale

Riesling Taste-off (4 Wines from 4 Vintners from same grapes)

Video of the Day: Tres Sabores

Coturri Tasting
Sunset Magazine Wine Winners - Organics Among Them

Asimov Visit to Anderson Valley

Upper Five Tempranillo release

Argentina Has Better Pesticide Laws than U.S.
Corison Photos
Giornata Wine Brief
Harvest - Wine Grape Documentary

Cowhorn Vineyard 2011 Releases
Chron Top 2011 - Organics List
Glenn McGourty

Affordable Napa Touring (Places to Stay, Part 1)

Vacation Rentals in Organic Vineyards

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Italian Wine Class - February 23-24 at Perbacco in SF

I don't usually publicize wine classes but I have to make an exception for the upcoming Itlian Wine Specialist class that will be offered at Perbacco in February this year.

A former roommate of mine is the bartender at this fine restaurant (boasting one of the best wine lists of Italian wines in SF if not the U.S.) was the first to tell me of this course. I took it last spring and was mighty impressed with the level of instruction from the two teachers (one from Piedmont and one from Milan/Campania) and their attention to the regional terroir and varietals in the whole breadth and width of Italy.

The tastings were hit or miss, but the lectures were fact-filled and the course materials offered a wealth of information unavailable elsewhere.

By the end of the two days of lectures, filled with slides and maps, you'll feel as if you've been across all the mountain ranges and valleys of this Mediterranean country.

For more information, see here:

SF Chronicle's Top 100 Wines 2012: 7 Organics Among Them

The SF Chronicle recently published its list of the top 100 Wines of 2012, including the following organically grown wines - 2 Oregon Pinots, 1 Zin (Beaujolais style), 3 Chards and an Albarino. Take note of these!


2010 Bergstrom Temperance Hill Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir ($60, 13.5%): 

Says the Chron: "From a cool hilltop Eola site, this is Josh Bergstrom channeling quintessential Oregon. The volcanic soils show through in its red spice and coppery tang, and there's a weightlessness that Willamette Valley does so well. The aromas of a damp spring forest and bright chalky minerality frame radiant bayberry and pomegranate. Densely structured and yet completely transparent and gossamer in its flavors."

Pam: "If you have not visited Bergstrom, you owe it to yourself to see this perennial high quality producer's gorgeous sites. Never one of the best values in wine (i.e. priced at the higher end of the market), Bergstrom is however consistently highly rated."

2010 Evesham Wood Le Puits Sec Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir ($36, 13%): 

Says the Chron: "Evesham Wood remains my barometer for the transparency of Oregon. Under the hand of new owner Erin Nuccio, the 2010 Puits Sec shows that Volnay-like light touch, full of cherry, dried sachet, watermelon rind and distinct minerality — a perfect capture of Pinot's complex nature."


2011 Dashe Cellars Les Enfants Terribles McFadden Farm Potter Valley Zinfandel ($24, 13.6%): 

Says the Chron: "Oakland's Mike Dashe deserves credit in any case for his Enfants Terribles program, wines meant to show a fresher, Beaujolais-like side of Zinfandel and Grenache. This latest, from Guinness McFadden's 1970s-era organic farm in Mendocino, shows a new level of finesse. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and uncrushed berries, as in traditional Beaujolais, it shows Zin's brambly ruby fruit, plus beautiful spice — black pepper and fenugreek — and a burdock-like bite."

Pam: I've been an enthusiastic fan of this wine since I came upon it two years and interviewed Mike. I've got several cases of this in my cellar. I'm happy to see McFadden's grapes gain even more notoriety. If you haven't been to their annual wine club dinner, make a point of it this's one of the best of the organic winery dinners - the setting, in a beautiful valley between Ukiah and Lake County, is gorgeous and they put on a fabulous feast with great dancing under the stars. A real celebration.


2010 Calera Mount Harlan Chardonnay ($30, 14.4% alcohol): 

Says the Chron: "The austerity of the vintage played to Josh Jensen's stark site high above Hollister, planted in 1984 and 1998 to a proprietary selection and fermented, as Calera always is, with indigenous yeasts. While there's an oak signature right away (30% new Francois Freres), its opulence and chewy citrus fruit -- almost like candied citron -- is rewarding in every way. There's a tense, long-aging power here, and a mastery to the texture that etches big flavors of ripe apple and tangerine."

Pam: If you haven't been there yet, it's a fabulous adventure to drive the windy roads to Calera's vineyard. Might be a fun trip to keep in mind for 2013!

2010 Ceritas Porter-Bass Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($52, 13.2%): 

Says the Chron: "John Raytek's label taps a number of sources in western Sonoma, but there's quite an amazing synergy with the fruit grown on the northern slope of Porter-Bass, the vineyard outside Guerneville owned by his wife Phoebe's family, one of the Sonoma coast's top sites. Stony and powerful, with a dark mineral presence matched by pretty yellow raspberry fruit. A prime expression of site-driven Chardonnay."
Pam: Another dreamscape of a vineyard. A MUST SEE location! You'll be inspired by their biodynamic practices as well as the magnificent setting. Wine tastes even better when you know where it came from.

2011 Matthiasson Linda Vista Vineyard Napa Valley Chardonnay ($25, 13.5%): 

Says the Chron: "Steve Matthiasson is better known for his white blend, but here he's farming a spot close to home -- right behind his house in Oak Knoll. An example of what cooler southern Napa can do so well with Chardonnay. Full of ripe pear, with almond, chervil, citrus zest and intense acidity to balance fleshy tree fruit."

Pam: A vineyard I can't wait to visit myself in 2013! I'll post pictures when I do.


2011 Verdad Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard Edna Valley Albarino ($22.50, 13%): 

Says the Chron: "Louisa and Bob Lindquist might have done too good a job with this Rias Baixas-native grape grown biodynamically in moderate Edna Valley. Theirs is a defining example, with fresh mint-leaf and wet stone hitched to chewy citrus and guava. Edgy and meaningful, a perfect exploration of a great site for this Iberian wonder."

Pam:  Long one of my favorite white wines, this is always a good white wine to bring to dinner, when you don't want to do Chardonnay yet again. The LA Times picked it as one of their wines of the week. It's also in my forthcoming organic wines under $20 app! (You can get it for cheaper if you buy it by the case). The Lindquists converted to biodynamic after years of growing conventionally and then organically. While Bob is famous for his Syrahs under his Qupe brand, Louisa's Verdad brand has carved out a niche based solely on Spanish varietals.