Glorious Mountain-Top California Cabernet Sauvignon

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 5:35 PM

Arbios Cellars

Arbios Vineyard View

Glorious Mountain-Top California Cabernet Sauvignon!


Bill Arbios began winemaking over 40 years ago! He has achieved a level of expertise in his field that few ever have the opportunity to reach. After working for several influential wineries in the 70's and 80's, Bill was finally able to fulfill his dream of making wine from his own vineyard. Bill planted a 21-acre hilltop vineyard in Alexander Valley to his specifications using 6 different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon on soil that is essentially rock. The vineyard struggles each year to produce. The stress of the vines limits yields and concentrates flavors.

We’ve carried this outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon for over a decade. It is pretty much a staple here at TWH for several reasons, not the least of which is that in an era of super-pricey California Cabernets (think $200 plus a bottle), this estate-grown, balanced red is a steal at $30. It really is almost unheard of to have this level of quality (small production; sustainably-grown fruit; family-run winery; prime growing region) so fairly priced. The 2013 Arbios Cabernet Sauvignon spent almost three years in French oak barrel of which only a third of it was new. It has rich dark fruit flavors, plum and black currant,  with warm spice notes. The oak stands in the background, giving texture to the tannins. Overall this is a very elegant Cabernet Sauvignon. Truly yummy!
Arbios vineyard worker
So whether you are looking for a giftable red for your long list of clients or want to stock up this winter with a full-bodied Cabernet to go with prime rib roast on Christmas or steaks on New Year's Eve, consider Arbios to fill those needs.

Only a week in to December and I am feeling the pressure. It's as if I'm standing in front of several tennis ball machines swatting at balls coming at me from all directions. The name of the game is survival.  In a span of six days my daughter was in seven musical theater performances; 4 on stage, 3 behind the scenes. There were a lot of high energy moments, so I was not surprised when she called from school, complaining of a headache and promptly fell asleep after coming home early. She needed it. It's all about pacing yourself. So eliminate the stress of finding the right bottle of wine. Come on by or give us a call and we'll help select the right wine for you. The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Arbios is certainly one I recommend for the reasons I mentioned above and for one other: Susan and Bill Arbios are some of the kindest people you'll ever meet! Good people; good wine. ~ Anya Balistreri

                                                   
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Bedrock Rocks!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 4:56 PM


Bedrock Wine Co.


Congratulations Morgan Twain-Peterson!

Morgan Twain-Peterson, proprietor of Bedrock Wine Co., recently became the first winemaker from California to become a Master of Wine. He is one of only 45 MWs from the United States. That is quite an achievement in and of itself, and yet consider the fact that during the time he was working towards becoming a Master of Wine, he was also building Bedrock Wine Co. - Wow!   I jumped on the Bedrock Wine Co. bandwagon from the start. My admiration was instantaneous and The Wine House has been rewarded for our support of Bedrock wines in the way of allocations. We are proud to carry a wide selection of Bedrock wines,from the vineyard-designated reds to the experimental blends. 

What I recognized early on, was Morgan's devotion to the vineyard. Morgan seeks out to use, but also essentially to preserve, old-vine vineyards. I too have a respect and affinity for the unique character of Zinfandel-based field blends.Without advocates like Morgan, these special, historic vineyards would undoubtedly be lost. I understand that what I am about to write is scientifically unprovable, but in 
Morgan's wines, I can taste that, well, love for the vineyard.
 

 Bedrock Vineyard: photo courtesy of BWC website


Their flagship wine (or at least that's how I see it) at Bedrock is The Bedrock Heritage. The Bedrock Vineyard has a long and storied history that can trace its grape growing roots well over a hundred years. It is a sizeable vineyard that sits in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. There are well over 30 different varieties growing at Bedrock Vineyard. In the 2015 Bedrock Heritage there are 19 different varieties (perhaps even more) that go into the wine, dominated by Zinfandel, Carignane, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouchet. A true, classic Californian field blend. Morgan writes that "Bedrock Vineyard is always going to have orange-scented perfume and rooted tannins". It's a full-scale red that is tasty in all its exuberant youth, but can also rest in the cellar. It really is a taste of California's wine history.

Words fail me to describe the emotions felt since fires ravaged Northern California. I am certain that we all know at least someone touched by this catastrophe.Living here in Northern California all my life, I am aware of the dangers of wildfire, but this was like nothing imaginable. As I learned about the losses to wineries and vineyards, I reflected on what I value most about being in the wine business. It comes down to the people and the land. It is indeed, people like Morgan who pursue winemaking, not just as commerce, but as a way of honoring the past and preserving our heritage, that inspires me. There are fewer and fewer of these precious old vines in California. I am grateful to those who champion these agricultural treasures.  Check out our full line-up of Bedrock wines to explore and taste these historic sites. - Anya Balistreri

From the Winery:

"The 2015 is a svelte lumberjack but a true lumberjack—not the soft-handed, urbane, hipster type, nor the Monty Python cross-dresser (though if that is what it wants to be when it grows up, that is just fine with me!).  A wine that is well-built, a little gruff at first, but full of nuance, soft eyes, and a well-hewn heart."

 

From the Winery:

"This wine, a field blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Negrette, Carignan, Grenache, Trousseau Noir and many more, is dark and lovely stuff.  Definitely give it some time- either in the cellar or the decanter as time and/or air will help it to unfold."

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Juicy Rebound

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 4:41 PM

Juicy Rebound

Douglas Danielak In Vineyard

Cuvée Unique - one white, one red!

Douglas Danielak is a veteran winemaker who has worked primarily for small premium wineries in the Napa Valley. Under the label Juicy Rebound, Douglas makes wines for himself, focusing on Rhône varietals. Towards that end, Douglas makes quintessential California wine through a French lens. Douglas studied winemaking and worked harvest in France before getting his enology degree from UC Davis. In the late 80's, Douglas teamed up with Jim Paras to form Jade Mountain Winery, one of the wineries associated with the Rhone Rangers movement. I still remember (and can almost taste) their Mourvedre and a blend they called La Provençale. Those wines were delicious and affordable - just like Juicy Rebound.


 


The 2016 Juicy Villages Cuvee Unique No. 34 is a blend of Roussanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc. Much of the fruit for this blend was acquired from a very high profile grower who wishes to remain nameless. This is a gorgeous, sumptuous white that teases out all the exotic goodness of these varietals while still keeping the balance of flavors tightly corralled. Surprisingly, no oak was used. Surprisingly – yes, because there is so much texture to the wine. The finish has terrific freshness. Only 100 cases were produced.
 
The 2014 Juicy Villages Cuvee Unique No. 84 is 65% Syrah and 35% Grenache from grapes grown in the Russian River Valley. Juicy is the key word here, as the fruit is supple, open-armed and berry-driven. There are herb-inflected notes lurking in the background that reveal Douglas’ penchant for French wine. Slightly more of the No. 84 is produced than the No. 34, but it is still very limited.

 


These mild pepperoncini came courtesy of a neighbor who knows I love to pickle veggies. I reused brine I had made from a previous batch: a shortcut that made certain I didn't end up throwing these beauties into the compost. For you see, this week was jam packed. Besides normal work/life schedule, my volunteer hours were to capacity. I participated in a Challenge Day activity for 7th graders at my daughter's middle school. I signed up last week and found the experience so rewarding, I went for a second day. My Church and School District's fundraisers all needed baked goods. I am not a baker, but with my daughter's assistance, I gave it my best shot. Let's just say, the kitchen needs a scrubbing from floor to ceiling. When that finally happens (or before), I am going to need a glass of wine to unwind. I will reward myself with Juicy Rebound. Full of ripe fruit goodness and a balanced finished - both the white and red from Juicy Rebound allow entry to a high echelon of quality without having to pay exorbitant prices for the privilege. These wines are really something! - Anya Balistreri

From the winery:

"Light, pale straw-colored and frosty, we dove into the wine noses first.Nectarine, lychee, fresh citrus blossoms and Asian pear gave the wine an exotic nose balanced with fine minerality. The rich, creamy Viognier was perfectly offset by the aromatic Roussanne with its fresh acidity and complex flavors of chamomile tea, honey and spiced pears."

 

From the winery:

"65% Syrah and 35% Grenache. Every August we spend our Sundays picking wild blackberries as we prepare for harvest. This Rhone blend captures that experience. Grenache leads the way with cassis and aromatic herbal notes while Syrah adds juicy blueberry, blackberry flavors, a supple texture and a satisfying richness in the finish."

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2014 Bedrock Zinfandel

Monday, August 8, 2016 6:15 PM

 
 
“The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco” is famously attributed to Mark Twain, yet there is no evidence he ever wrote or muttered these words. Nonetheless, the quote holds true. San Francisco has been blanketed by a deep and chilling marine layer. It’s Summer in the City! Driving to the store this morning, I had to turn on my windshield wipers just as I passed through the Robin Williams Tunnel and could see the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge. Oh, how I love this view!
 
Pagani Ranch
 
Shifting over to wine, there happens to be a winemaker, also named Twain, or more accurately, Morgan TWAINPeterson, who has been delivering some of the finest Zinfandel in the state. I’ve been singing his praises from his very first vintage, and like a proud mother (Morgan and my daughter happen to share the same birthday – how sweet is that!), have been telling anyone who would listen to try his Bedrock Wine Co. wines. The series of wines he makes from old vine, field blend vineyards are not just delicious but are a way of honoring these historic sites.Regrettably, the economics of producing wine has all too often led folks to rip out old vineyards containing Zinfandel, and who knows what else, that were planted by immigrants wanting to create a taste of home. Morgan has worked diligently to identify, restore and preserve these sites by founding the Historic Vineyard Society.
 
2014 Old Vine Zinfandel
 
Lucky for us, Morgan makes an Old Vine Zinfandel that is on par with his heritage vineyard wines in quality, but is more budget friendly. Morgan writes that the Old Vine Zinfandel is “perhaps the most important wine we make” because there is more of it than the limited production and highly allocated, single-vineyard Zinfandels, and therefore acts as an introduction to the winery. The Old Vine Zinfandel is also “an invaluable tool” because a few of the vineyards that go into this cuveé were neglected, old vineyards that Morgan has nursed back to life that are not quite ready for individual designation. The multiple vineyard sources that go into the 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel include Bedrock, Papera and Pagani Ranch. Aged in French oak barrels, the 2014 Old Vine is a tremendous value for full-throttle, well-balanced Zinfandel. Though I think most people will end up drinking this wine sooner than later, Morgan writes that he is pretty convinced “that it will age gracefully for over a decade”.
 
 
Naked Ladies along the fence
 

Without looking at a calendar, I know August has arrived.The night-filling sound of chirping crickets that lull me to sleep is my first clue. The second clue are the naked ladies that line up along my driveway. Naked ladies? Yes, naked ladies, aka Belladonna Amaryllis, those gorgeous, lightly-scented pink flowers that erupt from the ground, unadorned by foliage. And the third clue is the market arrival of my favorite apples, Gravensteins – tangy, sweet and crunchy! I’ll be heading north this weekend to escape the marine layer and get a little wine country action under my belt. For Sunday’s dinner on the deck, I am contemplating grilled tri tip with the 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel. Now doesn’t that sound like a proper summer meal! – Anya Balistreri

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Lacuna 2011: A Red Blend for Summer

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 7:31 PM

It is often not enough for wine to be good, I like a wine to have a good story behind it too. Believe me when I say there is a lot of wine out there! I do my best to taste through as much of it as I physically can so that I can make an informed decision as to what to buy for the store, but I have my limits. And besides, when I look over my tasting notes and think back on the wines that made the biggest impression on me, it usually comes down to the people behind the wine. It also follows that the passionate souls that I gravitate towards are rooted in a sense of place. Sometimes that place is a physical one – a vineyard, an estate, a region – and sometimes, the place is more of a sensibility. I know, that last part is rather vague, but work with me here. Lacuna is not a winery nor a vineyard, but what is in the bottle of their proprietary red speaks volumes about character and quality. They source sought-after, highly regarded vineyards, choosing only the best each vintage, and because of this all you will read on the label is “Red Wine, California”. That is only the beginning of the story.

 

The first vintage to hit the shelves was the 2007 Lacuna. The Wine House was the first to promote the 2007 Lacuna with unabashed enthusiasm. That enthusiasm continues with the 2011 Lacuna. Lacuna began as a partnership between three veteran wine guys who worked primarily on the distribution side of the wine business. They wanted to take their wine point of view to market by making their own wine. A stroke of genius lead them to ask rising-star winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson of Bedrock Wine Co. fame to make their first vintage and then subsequently invited him to join the team. Twain-Peterson has made every vintage of Lacuna. Because of their collective connections within the wine business, the Lacuna team is able to source impeccable fruit but in return for getting access to these famed vineyards at favorable prices, they are asked not to reveal the vineyard names.
 

 

For the 2011 Lacuna, 85% of the blend is Syrah. Various vineyards sites for Syrah were used, including one planted primarily to the Alban clone. The fruit from this vineyard is responsible for lending the distinct bacon and smoke component to the wine. Some of the other Syrah components were co-fermented with Viognier, just like they do in Cote Rotie, to offer an aromatic counterpoint to the broodier Alban-clone site. In addition to Syrah, there are small smatterings of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Carignan, all sourced from a vineyard originally planted before the turn of the century. Pretty cool stuff! In the end, the various pieces to the puzzle fit together seamlessly to produce a wine of great depth, vigor and a dark edge. Meaty, sanguine and black berry notes dominate. This is not a jump in your lap, lick your face kinda Syrah, but one with deeply satisfying, savory fruit fortified by an ample, forceful structure.

 

A vacation spent at my family’s dacha among the Redwoods along the glorious Russian River last week gave me opportunity to drink some tasty wine. Coincidently, one of the Lacuna guys is also a fan of this area, having grown up there and is now caretaker of the family home. We like to compare notes about where to go and what to do. Inevitably though, I tell him that other than a day spent on the beach, my motivation to go anywhere lately is low! Watching for ospreys and river otters or my daughter’s hilarious attempts at landing on a floaty in the water is entertainment enough. As is relishing a glass of something yummy with dinner in the evening. Take the 2011 Lacuna and a grilled piece of aged beef and you have yourself a feast. The Lacuna’s structure begs for something substantial to pair with it. Other than animal protein, I would suggest serving a hearty grain like a barley risotto with mushrooms. That smokey, bacon quality of the 2011 Lacuna makes you want to sink your teeth into something; it is a sophisticated choice for serving with bold flavors off the grill. Get out and play! – Anya Balistreri
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