Monday, November 27, 2017

#WineStudio: Perseverance is the Name of the Game with Ordaz Family Wines

Eppie and Chuy Ordaz

Many of us can relate to being an underdog at some time in our life. In studying for the WSET Diploma, I find myself to be an underdog. I don’t work in the wine and spirits business, so I don't get to talk about wine all day, nor do I have access to the myriad of bottles that someone in the industry has access to. I've had to learn about wine mostly through reading (books, the Internet, blogs, etc). I then supplement book learning with tasting as many wines as I can get my hands on. But those in the biz have a distinct advantage, as they live and breathe wine all day. I, on the other hand, spend my days producing events in the LGBT non-profit world. A far cry from the wine industry!

An underdog in California wine country? Yes, they exist. Not all wineries here are owned by “the big boys”, whether that’s large international firms, Hollywood execs, or retired millionaires. Some earned success in the California wine business by starting from the bottom and working their way up. Chuy Ordaz, an immigrant from Mexico, made 32 unsuccessful attempts to get into the US. Only on his 33rd try was he successful. My family is also a family of immigrants…..aren’t all American families descendants of immigrants? My father and his family came to the US from Argentina when he was a teenager, and on my mother’s side, my grandfather’s family emigrated to the US from Portugal, specifically the Azores.

Fast forward, and after Chuy’s successful 33rd attempt to come to the US, the Ordaz family’s name appears on their Sonoma wine labels. Ordaz Family Wines launched in 2009. All wines are single vineyard. Courage and perseverance have both been pervasive themes with the Ordaz family. Chuy Ordaz’s son, Eppie, is now at the helm of winemaking. He was also the first Ordaz to attend college. Eppie has a Bachelors degree in accounting and went from crunching numbers to crushing grapes! According to Eppie, accounting and winemaking are similar: both require an attention to detail and both require you to put in long hours. To say the least!

Eppie Ordaz was recently named one of several "winemakers to watch" according to Sonoma Magazine. He works alongside his father, Chuy, who is synonymous with some of the more famous vineyards of Sonoma, as he has been managing vineyards for years. Chuy farms 500 acres in Sonoma under Palo Alto Vineyard Management. They are a pioneer in organic farming. Why? To protect the vineyard workers who are on the front lines, as exposure to conventional farming and pesticides could be detrimental to their health. Chuy spent many years in the vineyards himself, and the health of his workers is of utmost importance.

Today Ordaz Family Wines has 50 employees and manages 400 acres. "We're committed to producing single-vineyard wines that are as prized as the vineyards from which they originate", Eppie continues “Everything we do has got to be single vineyard, because I want to showcase the vineyard and the people who work for it.”. Their goal is to make solid wines that aren’t going to break the bank.

Back in February I was able to explore Ordaz Family Wines through a program called #WineStudio.

What is #WineStudio?
#WineStudio is an online Twitter-based educational program. Each month a different producer is selected, along with a lineup of wines from their portfolio. Anyone can participate in the weekly Twitter chats, yet only a select few are chosen to receive samples to accompany the conversation. Every Tuesday at 6pm (Pacific time), Tina Morey hosts the group on Twitter at the WineStudio hashtag. Usually accompanying her is someone affiliated with the producer, such as the winemaker, owner, salesperson, etc. Tina describes it as part instruction and part wine tasting. Discussion topics include: the producer history, the grapes, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food, etc. For each new topic Tina has seen dozens of original content pieces created, thousands of interactions via social media and millions of impressions created on our specific topic. Back in February we chatted with Eppie Ordaz and tasted two of their wines.

My tasting notes are below:

2014 Placida Vineyard RRV Pinot Noir $38, 13.7% ABV

This wine is elegant (a descriptor I use when a wine is understated), yet it has a presence and an amazing amount of fruit. The wine is pale ruby with red fruit (cherry, plum, cranberry), black pepper, cola, and earthy/forest floor notes. Medium + acid, medium + alcohol, medium body, and medium + flavor intensity. Fun fact: the Sebastopol vineyard (Placida) is named after Eppie’s grandmother.

2012 Sandoval Vineyard Malbec $25, 13.5% ABV

This wine is medium ruby with red fruit (plum, raspberry) plus some black fruit (blackberry/bramble), pepper and baking spices (vanilla, cloves, cinnamon). Wow! On the palate, juicy berries plus unending spice and sizzle. Toast and cedar notes showcase the 18 months this wine spent in French oak.

Who doesn’t love a good underdog story? They’re usually much more compelling than the story of someone who got what they wanted and got it easily. There is something so distinctly American about the Ordaz Family Wines story. We are a country of immigrants and we (should) welcome immigrants with open arms. We are a country founded on the idea that you can come here with nothing and make something. Whatever that “something” is.  In this case, it's some damn good wines.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Spotlight: Montalbera Winery

I recently had the opportunity to attend a luncheon with the LA Wine Writers featuring the wines of the Montalbera Winery, from the Morando family. Montalbera, a family-owned winery, is located in the Monferrato DOCG in the southern part of Piemonte, Italy (immediately south of Barolo/Alba). The area received DOCG status only in 2010. Montalbera produces 60% of the Ruche grape in this region. Ruche came to Piemonte, and probably arrived in the medieval times from France. Fun fact: its genetics have 70% in common with Pinot Noir. This is a very small production grape and only recently has this wine made its way out of the region and started being exported.

Montalbera has a full portfolio of wines from sparkling, white, red, and dessert wines. We tried their sparkling and a lineup of reds.

Wines Tasted:

Cuvee Blanche Extra Dry Sparkling

100% Barbera in the Charmant (tank) method.  A crisp and easy sparkling wine with an excellent value at a $19 retail.

Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG La Tradizione 2015

This is Montalbera’s their flagship wine and is a Tre Bicchieri winner (see my post about Tre Bicchieri HERE).  Serve this wine a bit chilled to retain its aromatics of red fruit (cherry, raspberry), dried violets, and a smoky, black pepper note. A perfect, easy-drinking summer red. $21 retail.

Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG Laccento 2015

The grapes are picked slightly overripe and partially air dried directly in the vineyard before harvest. This wine is smooth and silky; I’d call it my “Italian house red”; this wine does not need food and can stand on its own, $29 retail.

Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG Limpronta 2013

This wine is more sophisticated and complex than the others. You can smell Italy in this glass (a bit dusty, but in a good way) and this wine worked incredibly well with the pizza (see menu below). $32 retail.

Barbera d’Asti DOCG Lequilibrio 2014

Juicy red fruit, sweet baking spices, vanilla, and tobacco/cedar notes. Good acid (the mark for a food-friendly wine!). The grapes are harvested slightly overripe to soften the high natural acidity of this grape. $28 retail

Barbera d’Asti DOCG Nuda 2013

“Nuda” means naked and is called so because this wine is unfiltered (also unstabilized and no stainless steel time before bottling). I’d describe it as a Rhone-like red with savory notes of barnyard/animal. This wine really brightened up with the lamb chops (see menu below). $35 retail.

As always, the special menu prepared by Chef David Vilchez was impeccable. Brian tells us that Chef Vilchez creates new dishes specifically for this luncheon and sometimes tries out possible new menu items on us!

Menu Below:

1st Course
Cream Leek Pizza, Brussels Sprout Leaves, Corn, Dried Plum Vinaigrette

My favorite course!

2nd Course

Roasted Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, Salami, Burrata, Olive Oil

3rd Course
Grilled N.Z. Lamb Chop, Grilled Fennel, and Summer Squash Risotto

4th Course
Seasonal Sorbet, Fresh Fruit

Special thanks, to Laura Donadoni for leading, Cori Solomon for organizing, and Cafe del Rey for their hospitality.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

From Santa Rosa, With Love

Photo: Brianne Cohen
Last year my first blog post after returning from the Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi was entitled “From Lodi, With Love”. This year I can’t think of a more fitting title for my first post since returning from this years Wine Blogger’s Conference (WBC) in Santa Rosa.

I have returned from WBC full. My cup runneth over after spending 5 days in my secret little wine world. I’ve got this whole set of wine friends who my friends and family have never heard of and know nothing about. It really is sort of like this secret double life. Secret tweets. Inside jokes. Late night sharing of wine labels we drank that evening. It’s actually quite hilarious. It was a phenomenal 5 days and there will be many more posts to come, as I have plenty of wine content to dissect!

As my WBC trip approached, the single most common thing I heard when I told my family/friends I was going to Santa Rosa/Sonoma was some form of “didn’t that all burn down?”. And having been home for a couple of days, I am STILL hearing that from everyone. The news painted a picture of devastation. Charred vineyards, charred buildings, burnt down wineries, and homes with only chimneys and swimming pools left. If you looked through the slideshows of fire pictures online, you’d think that Napa and Sonoma were completely torched.

The Wine Bloggers Conference presented 2 different panels regarding the Napa/Sonoma fires. The first panel, Wine Country Fires, was moderated by Jolaine Collins of Collins Communications. It was an emotional session as the panelists shared personal stories and firsthand accounts of what they saw, felt, and experienced. The panelists included George Rose, photographer; Patsy McGaughy of Napa Valley Vintners; and Pierre Bierbent of Signorello Estates. George and his wife lived in Santa Rosa for 25 years, and he found himself in wine country as the fires broke out. He shared images he took as the fires unfolded. Really tough shots to look at. The most difficult part of the session was when Pierre, Winemaker at Signorello Estates, spoke about his experience. He shared how he learned of the fires in the middle of the night and how he made attempts to fight the flames himself. He shared images from what he saw and told stories that brought tears to many of our eyes. Hearing his voice crack as he spoke was sobering for us all. This wasn’t a news segment, or a magazine article. These were real people who had real experiences. In the end, Signorello Estates was a total loss.

The second panel was entitled: How Media Can Respond to a Crisis, also moderated by Jolaine Collins of Collins Communications. Panelists included George Rose, photographer; Virginie Boone, Wine Enthusiast; and Sarah Stierch, Journalist. Sarah shared her raw feelings and emotions around the fires as an independent journalist who live tweeted non-stop from the fire zone. She saw firsthand what was happening and the mis-information that was spreading like wildfire (pun intended).

The fires are still very raw for many people in wine country. But they are strong and they are resilient people. There is a space to grieve, yet there is also a space to look to the future.

The biggest takeaway from these sessions is that Sonoma and Napa did not completely burn down, and that they are open for business. Yes, many people lost their homes, businesses were lost, wineries were lost, and lives were lost. It is possible to honor and remember, yet also spread the word to encourage people to help in the recovery. What does that look like for those of us who live nowhere near Northern California?

        1. Drink Napa and Sonoma wines

        2. Join a Napa/Sonoma wine club (a GREAT gift idea in time            for the holidays)

        3. Come visit!

Here are a couple websites that were shared with us in these sessions:

North Bay Fire Donations: this is a great website that has aggregates a lot of individual information as to how you can help. It includes: where to donate money, where to donate stuff, and where you can eat, drink, and stay to help support recovery in the region.

Comfort Drinks: This is a website that Sarah Stierch started with other wine country residents and beverage industry professionals. Do you know someone who has been displaced by the recent North Bay Fires who loves fine wine, beer or nonalcoholic craft beverages? ​Whether they are moving into a new home or are waiting to do so, we're here to bring a glass of liquid comfort to their lives. Follow the directions on their website and they'll work with their beverage industry donors to provide wine, beer, spirits, and beverages.

That’s all for now. A simple message to my readers: if you are able, please think about making a contribution to help those affected by the wild fires in wine country this past October.

Sonoma is Strong.  Napa is Strong. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

One Year Later

A year ago today, I woke up in complete disbelief. How did we get here? How did I get here? Our country elected a man who appeared to have a severe lack of morality, intelligence, humility, decency. The list goes on and on.

This is not a political blog. This is a wine blog. I get it.  As an American, I feel that I cannot compartmentalize the horror, shock, and disappointment that I feel for our country and ALL the people living in this country. I have not felt patriotic for many years, which frightens (and angers) our flag-waving patriotic citizens. However, the older I get the more comfortable I get in stating my opinion and being unabashed about it. For me, talking about it helps me process, as ignoring it would eat me up inside. The “macro” of this country, in my opinion, is falling apart. The news every day seems to get worse and worse. This government that we all took a part in electing is committing atrocities and curtailing basic human rights faster than we can keep up with. On the other end, it is within the “micro” that I find hope daily.

With this all being said, I am constantly working to stay positive and inspired by people and things around me. There are people (friends and family members of mine!) who are doing incredible things and being strong in the face of adversity. Part of my “staying sane” strategy is to partake in things that make me happy. One of my “happy places” is wine. Wine is a living, breathing thing in a bottle. I love to follow the story of wine, the story of the grapes, the story of those who tended the crop in the vineyard, the story of the juice, the story of the architect of the wine, etc. Wine envelops me whether I’m reading about it, learning about it, or drinking it. Wine is my escape.

The Federalist: Dueling Pistols 2014
50% Syrah, 50% Zinfandel
Appellation: Sonoma/Dry Creek Valley
Alcohol: 14.5%
SRP: $29

A year ago today I was on the couch in complete disbelief at the turn our country had taken. I sat, watching the news and crying until about 1am. Fast forward to January 20, 2017 and I was in Israel on a trip with 20 other couples from the Los Angeles area. It was an incredible trip and Friday was our last night with this group we had grown so close to. We shared a Shabbat service and meal together, and I brought this wine to share with the group. The wine had a patriotic slant to it, so I figured it was a good time to enjoy it. It was an interesting evening. We were all sad to be leaving Israel and leaving the community we had built with each other for the last 10 days. It was also a surreal time to be outside of the country. In the week leading up to Trump’s inauguration, we were traveling through a foreign land and trying to connect to our Judaism. It felt odd (dare I say nice!) to be outside of the US. It distanced us a bit from what was happening back home. My husband and I were watching the inauguration on CNN as we were getting ready for the evening. I had Dueling Pistols with me and was taking sips during commercial breaks.

This is a lovely wine. The name comes from the infamous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton on July 11, 1804. Hamilton, the original Federalist, was shot in the duel and died from his injuries. We’ve all seen Hamilton, right? This wine is a “duel” between Syrah and Zinfandel. The combination of these grapes gives you dark black fruit notes (blackberry and black cherry) and nice spice, black pepper on the palate.  This wine would stand up to any red-meat centered meal.

This post is for every activist working to ensure that basic human rights towards ALL groups are maintained. This includes women, immigrants, people of color, the LGBT community, people with disabilities, people incarcerated, etc. I see you. I support you. I fight for you.

If you stand for nothing, Burr, what'll you fall for?
-Hamilton (lyrics by Lin Manuel Miranda)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wine Bloggers Conference Starts TODAY!

A little over two years ago I watched the movie SOMM and decided to start a blog documenting my WSET Diploma wine education adventures. It has been a long, hard journey and I am still in the process of securing my Diploma certification! Only one exam separates me from this (read more HERE)!

Within a week or so of starting my blog I stumbled upon something called the Wine Bloggers Conference online. This conference has been the backbone of my blogging journey. I have met many wine bloggers and learned a lot along the way. I’ve explored regions I had never visited before, such as the Finger Lakes in New York and Lodi in Northern California. It is safe to say that the Wine Bloggers Conference is one of the highlights of my year. It’s the time of year when I’m with “my people”. When you love wine as much as I do, it can be difficult (and a bit lonely) to be around people who do not appreciate the artistry of wine as I do. And I don’t mean that in any sort of snobbish or “better than” way. There is something magical to be with a group of people who have the level of appreciation that you do for something. I also feel an escape when I am at WBC each year. Escape from the real world, work, doctors appointments, Trump(?), cleaning house, obligations, etc. I get to live for a week with a bunch of cool wine geeks like me, taking notes, tweeting, and snapping pics. It is the only time in my life where it is socially acceptable (and encouraged!) to constantly be on your phone, ipad, or laptop. The challenge is to balance all of that with actually meeting and connecting with people. And what better way to do that than through your shared love of wine!

This year the wine bloggers conference will take place in the Santa Rosa/Sonoma area. This is an area I have explored many times on my own, however, I never tire of it.  The area was recently devastated by a series of wildfires, which the conference will address head-on. There is a seminar on the topic and I am sure we will meet bloggers, winemakers, and representatives who lived through the tragedy and who will bravely share their stories.

The Wine Bloggers Conference starts TODAY with an optional pre-conference excursion called the “Inner Mendo Odyssey” hosted by Fetzer-Bonterra where we will have conversations about sustainability and biodynamics as it relates to the wine industry. This two-day excursion includes a reception, dinner, blending competition, and multiple seminars.

Tomorrow evening, the conference officially begins with an Expo featuring Wines of the World and an Opening Reception.

Friday we start digging into the content. Sessions include: Professional Wine Writing Tips, What Companies Want from Wine Bloggers, Wine Discovery Session: Carinena, Keynote Speaker Doug Frost, as well as Live Wine Blogging. That evening I’m participating in a Vineyard Dinner at Thomas George Estates.

Saturday brings more content: Advanced Social Media Beyond Hashtags and Likes, Pitch Perfect: A Look at the Blogger-PR Relationship, Wine Discovery Session: An Exploration of Alsace’s Pinot Gris Styles, Wine County Fires, and How Media Can Respond to a Crisis. We’ll also have more Live Wine Blogging as well as our closing dinner (sponsored by in which the announcement of the 2018 conference location is made.

In a nutshell, that’s what I’ll be up to in the next 4 days. I will not be blogging during this time, but I will be VERY active on social media. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Direct links are to the right.

Thank you and what’s in your glass this week?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Cabernet Sauvignon Masterclass: The Great Grape

In late Spring I was honored to be invited to a Cabernet Sauvignon Masterclass. The event was hosted by Louis M. Martini Wines and our fearless leader for the day was Christy Canterbury, MW. The backdrop was the lovely Redbird restaurant in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a grape we all know a lot about.  It is, perhaps, the most popular and ubiquitous grape on the planet.  Ask any wine-drinking novice about Cab, and they'll have something to say.  Whereas if you ask them about Aglianico del Vulture......crickets.  

This was a wonderful Masterclass for me to participate in, as I was preparing for my final WSET Diploma exams.  Cabernet Sauvignon is a grape I can get cocky about.  I know about the actual varietal, I know about how it expresses itself in classical growing regions, and I know what I do and don't like about it. But sometimes it behooves us all to take a step back and go back to the basics.  This is exactly what I did at this event and it proved VERY helpful to my understanding of this grape.  And very helpful as I prepared for my final exams.

Louis M. Martini: A Bit of History

Louis M. Martini founded the winery in 1933 (the day after Prohibition was repealed) in St. Helena in the Napa Valley. Martini grew Cabernet Sauvignon and also tended Zinfandel vines planted onsite as early as 1890. He was one of the founders of the Napa Valley Vintners Association in 1943, which sought to promote Napa Valley wines around the globe. Louis M. passed the winemaking torch to his son, Louis P. in 1954. Next in line was Mike Martini who took over in 1977. Louis M. Martini now has many holdings in California and makes wines from Sonoma Valley, Alexander Valley, and Napa Valley.

It was awesome to taste these wines as I rarely get to taste iconic or benchmark wines. I'm not a somm on a restaurant floor with access to these wines and I certainly don't have the budget to buy them on my own. To have the opportunity to taste these wines that I have read/studied about was a real treat. Note that the Louis M. Martini Lot 1 Cabernet Sauvignon was used as the first wine in each flight.  That way we could compare and contrast this wine to other benchmark wines from classic regions.   It allowed me to ground myself in a Napa Cab and then take off wherever we were going: staying in Napa, through the rest of the US, or across the globe.

Global Cabernet Sauvignon Flight

2013 Louis M. Martini Lot 1 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA $145
This is clearly a New World wine because the fruit takes a major lead. No supporting role here. Bold black fruit, which signifies to me a warmer climate. Medium + well-integrated tannins.

2013 Chateau Palmer, Margaux, Bordeaux $250
This wine has an Old World nose, that included fruit plus earth. More undestated, a bit dusty and older feeling, though it was the same vintage as the others. This felt like cooler-climate black fruit, with some red fruit as well. Medium - dusty tannins. This was my favorite wine of the flight for its austerity and restraint. Truly a distinct wine. 49% Merlot, 51% Cab

2013 Almaviva, Puente Alto, Chile 15% ABV $100 (72% Cab Sauv, 19% Carmenere, 6% Cab Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Merlot)
This wine screams Chile on the nose: capsicum, pyrazines, green bell pepper. As it turns out, I have a very strong nose for the "green" notes, so this stood out for me, though the wine was in no means unripe or subpar. A joint venture between Rothschild and Concha y Toro. I also credit this wine with helping me on my Diploma Unit 3 tasting exam 1 month later. On the exam we had a flight of 3 wines presented to us that were all the same predominant variety. With my tasting flights, I always search for the marker. Which wine in this flight is a sure thing (meaning I know what I am drinking)? If I can find and ID the marker, then I can start deducing what the others could be. The flight is in front of me and I smell all three. One has heavy pyrazines. From there it all came together. One was Napa, one was Bordeaux, and the "green" one was Chile. I incorrectly called the flight predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, when it was in fact predominantly Merlot, but I still think I acquired enough points in the appearance, nose, and palate to "pass" this flight. Note: I did pass this flight on the exam!  And I give partial credit to having tasted this wine!

2013 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia, Bolgheri, Tuscany $170 (85% Cab Sauv, 15% Cab Franc)
I was in my own little hog heaven with this wine. To finally taste a Sassicaia was so awesome! These guys have been credited with starting the Super Tuscan craze. The wine has a much more restrained nose than I thought it would have. There is a beautiful, sweet spice nose and young, juicy red fruit on the palate.

2013 Vina Cobos Volturno, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza $200
Lujan de Cuyo has a slightly higher elevation than the rest of Mendoza, at about 3300 feet. Red and blue fruit plus smooth, integrated medium tannins. Has a bit of Malbec blended in.

Iconic US Flight

2013 Louis M. Martini Lot 1 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA $145
Hello Napa!

2012 Silver Oak, Alexander Valley, Sonoma $70
Some green notes here, including pine/dill from the American oak.

2014 Ridge Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains $55
This fruit is from an extremely coastal and cool climate. Lots of berry fruit here (both red and black). A medium to medium - finish.

2013 JUSTIN, Isosceles Reserve, Paso Robles $70
Black fruit (almost sunburned). Medium - aroma intensity. 16.5% ABV on this bad boy, but did not feel that hot.

2014 Peter Michael, Les Pavots, Knights Valley $230
This was my favorite wine of the flight. Knights Valley is between Napa and Sonoma, yet this wine shows more Napa because it's warmer/riper. Concentrated "mountain" fruit from very low-yielding vines. Juicy red/black fruit (plum and cherry) that is a bit jammy, almost preserve-like. A savory note that Christy says comes from the volcanic soil.

2012 Leonetti Reserve, Walla Walla Valley $170
The Cascade Mountains create a desert in Washington, which give burning hot days and freezing nights (translation=wide diurnal range), which makes for very dramatic wines. The nose in this wine was very unusual, so much so that I didn't have any good descriptors! Blueberries on the palate. In my opinion, this wine needs 5-6 years before it's truly ready for drinking.

Napa Flight

2013 Louis M. Martini Lot 1 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA $145
Hello again Napa!

2013 Dumn Vineyards, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley $150
This was my favorite wine of the flight (actually I had 2). Howell Mountain is the highest AVA in Napa at 1500 feet. Everything is grown over the inversion layer (which is where the temperature begins to increase past a certain altitude). It's a warm AVA that does not have a wide diurnal range. Savory notes almost make me think this is an Old World wine, BUT the fruit is quite prevalent, so it takes me to the New World. Tannins here are mind-blowing. My tannin note was: woah.

2013 Robert Mondavi, To Kalon, Oakville $140
This is "valley floor" fruit. Red berries and sweet spice on the nose and palate.

2013 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Cask 23, Stag's Leap, CA $240
A masculine wine. Serious (grainy) tannins with an herbaceous/eucalyptus note on the back palate. This wine is the "densest" of the flight. A big boy.

2013 Krupp Brothers Winery, M5, Napa Valley $200
Wow. Lovely, mouth-pleasing fruit with drying tannins. A meal in and of itself!

2013 Chappellet, Pritchard Hill, Napa Valley $180
Volcanic soils lend minerality to this wine. A perfect combination of rocks and fruit. One of the best wines I tried today.

Side note: I'm convinced that once you become am MW/MS, you are required to use RIDICULOUS nose/palate descriptors. And I don't mean this as a criticism! It actually cracks me up. My favorite tasting note used at this seminar was "fallen branch".  Not the branch ON the tree, but the branch after if fell! Seriously. Is there a difference? All kidding aside, Christy was right. There definitely was a twigginess to one of the Cab Sauv/Cab Franc blends!

In addition to these incredible wines, lunch was delicious.  A well put together event (from the event planner in me!).