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Vintage 14

Shaw + Smith - Balhannah, South Australia - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 23:05

What started as an early start to vintage, slowed down with some unseasonal rains allowing the vineyards to recover from heat.  This was followed by a cool slow ripening period, keeping the grapes longer on the vines, increasing fruit intensity and flavour - always a good thing. Now we are in full swing with the cellar on 24 hour shifts. Dan, one of our vintage interns tweets "My hands are finally getting leathery, discoloured and generally manly. Thank you #v14@shawandsmith"!

Challenging vintages show the extraordinary value of years of experience and knowledge.  Ray Guerin (Viticulturist of the Year 2013) and winemaker, Adam Wadewitz have just come from the Woodlot vineyard, Balhannah and believe its some of the best Sauvignon Blanc flavours they have seen.  Chardonnay looks like the stand out variety for the season.  We are still a couple of weeks off picking the shiraz and although the yields are looking low, Ray and Adam are excited about the potential quality.

Categories: Oceania

Bauduc 2014 – what a difference a year makes

Chateau Bauduc - Bordeaux, France - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 17:29

We’ve been here a tad over 15 years and have just completed our 16th harvest. Crikey. (Sophie, below left, was two when we arrived and Amelia and Tom were both born here. Georgie, away studying at Bristol, was four.) Another question we’re frequently asked is about how many bottles we make. It can be a sore point, especially with 2013 in mind, as the answer is anywhere between 50,000 and 200,000.

We pick at weekends to keep staff costs down. Sophie, Amelia, Angela and Tom at Bauduc.

We pick at weekends to keep staff costs down. Sophie, Amelia, Angela and Tom at Bauduc.


2013 ‘cuvée grêle’ back label

It is with some relief, with the crop safely in, that we can now move on from the cuvée grêle (right).

Actually, we’re quite stubbornly proud of our hail blend; despite the *ahem* challenges, the 2013 is the house white at Rick Stein’s and Gordon Ramsay’s eponymous three Michelin star restaurant in London. It’s a crisp, dry and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc. There just wasn’t much of it though and, worse still, we had to be draconian with the selection of the final blend before bottling.

So, what of 2014? Tasting all the fermentation tanks again last night, the whites are showing well. All ten parcels, which are vinified separately to help us understand the character of each block, are good enough to be included in any assemblage, I reckon. I rank them in order of quality and compatibility, and have already decided on the blend for five separate ’lots’ at this stage. These ten blocks are being added together to form the five interim blends as I write.

Whether we blend it all remains to be seen and it may be that we don’t put tous les oeufs dans le même panier. Our private and restaurant customers simply want the best wine we can produce for a reasonable price, and that remains our primary focus. We are naturally mindful that to bottle, label and box up the wines costs 80 centimes per bottle: our golden rule, which dawned on us after some time and several costly errors, is that we don’t bottle anything unless we’d drink it ourselves.
Bauduc - 062 - Version 3
The rosés, fermented separately at this stage from blocks of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, are delicious. We picked them early, as we’re looking for more freshness, acidity and lower sugars (and therefore less alcohol) than for making red wine.

It’s early days for the reds as they’ve only just been picked yet the initial signs are promising. Right now, we’re pumping the fermenting juice up over the mass of dark skins which lodge at the top of the tank; the tannins coming from the pips and skins are ripe and there’s good colour, balance and flavour.

The one big difference with our red this vintage, compared to this time last year, is that we do actually have some. In 2013, we opted to make rosé only: thankfully, we have a market for our popular, Provence-like pink, and aren’t obliged to make red if the quality isn’t really there.

It seems that nature has a way to remind us all to be content with what we have, and having a decent if not enormous crop feels like a huge victory after the decimation of the 2013 hailstorm. To put some numbers on it, and to get back to the question, we’re allowed to make close to 200,000 bottles under the strict ’appellation’ laws from our 24 hectares (60 acres) in production.
Gavin-0565 - Version 3
The 2014 yield is around 40hl/ha, in keeping with many of the leading Bordeaux estates. If we bottle the lot, we’ll make about 133,000 bottles, touch wood – from 100,000 vines, incidentally. (Gosh. That’s 22,000 cases of 6, our preferred format, which seems a great deal.) Last year, we produced just a third of that.

So it’s back to ’normal’ production levels then. I can now tell visitors that while we have the right and plenty of capacity to produce nearly 200,000 bottles, we make as little as 50,000 in dodgy years like 2013. We’ll settle for years like this one – somewhere in the middle.

Onwards and upwards.

Categories: Europe

Austin City Limits 2014 Instagram Contest Winners

Austin City Limits 2014 Instagram Contest Winners

Earlier this month we headed down south to Austin, Texas to partake in the biggest music festivals in the country. As proud wine sponsors of the 2014 Austin City Limits Music Festival, we wanted to give festival goers the chance to take home a fun prize. So we asked people to share their most creative and festival moments on Instagram for a chance to win $250 and one FREE year of music. All they had to do was follow us on Instagram and use the hashtag #KJAVANT on their post to be entered.

After our panel of judges reviewed hundreds of amazing photos from each weekend, we were able to narrow down the tough competition to six talented winners. Below are the winning photos from weekend one and two of ACL. A special thanks to all that entered your fun and creative photos into our contest. Click here to check out all of the creative and spontaneous moments.


Weekend One Winners



Nicole G. – @coleyworld


John E. – @estradajohnm


Weekend Two Winners



Marco M. – @marcoluft


Jessica S. – @jeesssica


Tim F. – @timssolution


Honorable Mention


By @ljkreiling

By @ljkreiling

By @mikeed_

By @mikeed_

By @ljkreiling

By @ljkreiling

By @eureek

By @eureek

By @honey6789

By @honey6789

The post Austin City Limits 2014 Instagram Contest Winners appeared first on Kendall-Jackson Blog.

Categories: North America

Why the American Viticultural Areas (AVA) system came into being

Why the American Viticultural Areas (AVA) system came into being

Most of us are familiar with the system of American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs, by which wine-producing regions in the various states can petition the government for formal recognition. Here in California, more than 100 AVAs have been approved since the system was put into place, in 1981. (Napa Valley was first. Santa Maria Valley was second.)

Why did this system come to be? Prior to 1981— which is to say, for two hundred years — wineries in America were not told by the government what they could or could not put on their labels. The result, unfortunately, was that wine labels became almost useless, from the point of view of conveying accurate information. People might buy bottles labeled “Sauternes” [with or without an “s”], “Port”, “Sherry” or “Chablis”, and they might think they were getting the real European equivalents of those wines; but of course, they weren’t. All they were getting were wines made from some kind of unidentified grape varieties that were labeled with famous European names that had been stolen by California producers.

This was obviously a very unsatisfactory situation, but the majority of consumers didn’t care, and so there was little motivation on government’s part to do anything about it. The reality of Prohibition, which was in force between 1920-1933, didn’t help to reform anything. But once Prohibition was repealed, a new class of wine professionals arose in this country: educated and politically savvy, these merchants, importers and writers — aware that in Europe the labeling of wine was strictly monitored by government for truth — decided that the U.S. needed a similar approach.

Among the leaders of these professionals was Frank Schoonmaker. A South Dakotan, he moved to New York and became a writer. As the end of Prohibition neared, Schoonmaker studied wine, and devoted the rest of his life to writing about it. He developed a passionate belief that labeling should be simple and honest. In a 1934 book, he outlined his approach: “…the ideal label of an American wine will carry an American name. A fine wine will carry a distinctive name identifying it with its place of origin. Its label, instead of insulting the buyer’s intelligence with a blatant proclamation of ‘Chambertin’ or ‘Margaux”, will simply and clearly state the wine’s name, the wine’s year, the grower’s or proprietor’s name, and the grape variety from which the wine is made.”

This was a radical approach, but the wine industry wasn’t ready for it in 1934. It took more than forty years for momentum to build sufficiently for the U.S. government to establish the AVA system, housing it in the Treasury Department. The stimulus came from a burgeoning population of Baby Boomers who discovered a love of wine in the 1960s and 1970s, and wanted to drink wines of honesty and purity.

Our AVA system isn’t perfect. All it takes to have a new AVA declared is enough money to hire professional “petitioners.” There is no way to prove quality, and no suggestion that particular grape varieties are best suited to the region, as is the case in Europe. But the system we have is better than none at all; and it does guarantee that consumers know what they’re getting when they buy a bottle of wine.

Steve Heimoff is one of America’s most respected and well-known wine writers. The former West Coast Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine and a contributor to Wine Spectator, he has also authored two books on the subject of California wine, including “New Classic Winemakers of California: Conversations with Steve Heimoff,” published in the fall of 2007.

The post Why the American Viticultural Areas (AVA) system came into being appeared first on Kendall-Jackson Blog.

Categories: North America

Harvest 2014 - Carignan Gris

Domaine Jones - Languedoc, France - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 14:42

One grape that is particularly naughty is the rare Carignan Gris!  It took ages to ripen - this was the last vineyard to be picked this year 5 weeks after the other whites and the potential alcohol is still only around 12%.  I can understand why this grape didn't make it down here in the Languedoc Roussillon.  Larger structures just wouldn't have been able to cope with small amounts of very late ripening white grapes so it probably just got hidden amongst the reds or picked with the other whites far too early.  At the earliest opportunity the vines would have been ripped up thus part explaining perhaps why now this is an extremely rare grape.

At Domaine Jones we can cater for all types of capricious grapes and we love our Carignan Gris. We feel challenged by it at times but very lucky to have some of the last remaining vines.

We only have 500 vines but Les Perles Carignan Gris that we made last year turned out so well that we want more and will be taking cuttings this year.

Categories: Europe

Harvest 2014 Recap: Yields up 5.2% (though still below average); Quality excellent

Tablas Creek Vineyard - Paso Robles CA - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 08:03

On Wednesday, October 15th we picked the last batch of Roussanne off of our estate.  And just like that, we're done picking for the year.  It doesn't feel like we're finished, as we're still pressing off bins of reds, the cellar still smells like crush, and the vineyard's colors are still more green than gold -- it is only mid-October, after all -- but there's no more fruit to pick.  From Wednesday:

Last Day of Harvest

As we've progressed through this harvest, we have been comparing it to similar vintages with relatively low yields and high quality, like 2003, 2007 and 2013.  Now that everything is in, we have a chance to look quantitatively and see whether these comparisons have merit.  Of course, there are things that can't be easily measured (think color, or thickness of skins) but knowing how much fruit you have and how ripe it is, overall, gives you a surprisingly good tool for knowing what the vintage will be like.  And it's not surprising; yields per acre and ripeness at harvest tell you critical things like skin-to-juice and sugar-to-acid ratios.

Somewhat to our surprise, given that we're in our third year of drought, yields were on average actually up a little from 2013. For our principal grapes:

Grape2013 Yields (tons)2014 Yields (tons)% Change Viognier 16.7 11.4 -31.7% Marsanne 8.2 9.9 +20.7% Grenache Blanc 25.4 31.9 +25.6% Picpoul Blanc 5.2 7.5 +44.2% Vermentino 15.1 17.3 +14.6% Roussanne 44.5 42.8 -3.8% Total Whites 115.1 120.8
+5.0% Grenache 48.7 50.7 +4.1% Syrah 32.5 38.1 +17.2% Mourvedre 57.3 52.3 -8.7% Tannat 12.3 15.4 +25.2% Counoise 13.9 17.0 +22.3% Total Reds 164.7 173.5
5.4% Total 279.8 294.3 +5.2%

Most varieties are up a bit, with the exceptions of Mourvedre and Roussanne, our two latest-ripening varieties, and the two grapes most susceptible to late-season stress-related devigoration.  So, it's perhaps unsurprising that both showed declines in this dry year.  The third grape to see a decline (Viognier) came from a much more discrete cause: we had several nights of break-ins by wild pigs toward the beginning of harvest, and they of course went straight for Viognier, the ripest (read: earliest-ripening) grape.

Overall yields ended up at 2.78 tons per acre, which is still just below our ten-year average of 2.9 tons per acre.  Other years in which we've seen yields between 2.5 and 3 tons per acre have included 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2013, all of which have been excellent and have been aging very well.

Looking at average sugars and pH at harvest gives a quick way of measuring a year's ripeness.  Since 2007:

YearAvg. SugarsAvg. pH 2007 24.42 3.67 2008 23.87 3.64 2009 23.42 3.69 2010 22.68 3.51 2011 22.39 3.50 2012 22.83 3.65 2013 22.90 3.63 2014 23.18 3.59

Both of these measures show the subtle differences between 2014 and a year like 2013, corroborating what we noticed: that the level of lushness this year (our highest average sugars since 2009) was counterbalanced by good acids (better than all our recent vintages except the historically cool 2010 and 2011 vintages).  It also suggests that the narrative we're hearing from many California appellations -- that acids were extremely low this year, requiring significant intervention in the cellar -- didn't hold true for us.  Finally, it's a good indication that we were able to keep up with the pressure in mid-September, when so much of the vineyard seemed like it was ready, and that we got fruit off the vine while it still maintained natural freshness.

In character, we see many similarities to 2013, with the characteristic dark color and intense flavors of a low-yielding vintage, but with a little more overt fruit than the more savory 2013s.  Fans of the lusher style our wines featured in the 2007-2009 period will likely find many similarities.  Clusters and berries were very small, which means that skin-to-juice ratios were high on our red grapes.  My dad holds up a cluster each of (from left) Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre from late-September, when all three were arriving in the cellar simultaneously:


Of course, it's early to make predictions on flavors, so stay tuned in the spring, when we'll dive into the vintage's character in preparation for our blending trials.

At 53 days between its August 23rd beginning and its October 15th conclusion, this harvest clocks as a bit shorter than average (our 10-year average is 56 days) and our finish was one of our earliest on record, preceded this century only by last year's October 7th end.  It joins 2013 as our only vintages where we finished harvesting before the Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend.

Our main challenge, as things finished up, was Roussanne, and it's with this notoriously finicky grape that I think the meticulous work of our vineyard team will show the most.  Roussanne, even in the best of conditions, tends to ripen unevenly, requiring that we go through each block multiple times to pick what's ripe and give the other clusters some more time to mature.  Roussanne is also the variety most prone to stress-related devigoration, where the leaves lose chlorophyll and ripening slows toward the end of harvest.  Not every vine is affected to the same degree, so you can have mostly-green vines next to those that are largely yellow, with predictably faster ripening on the greener vines.  In this exceptionally stressful year, we knew we would have to be willing to go back repeatedly through our Roussanne blocks if we hoped to get most of the fruit harvested in good condition.  But even by Roussanne's normal standards, this year was a slog.  As an example, we made a first pass through the Roussanne block we still call our "New Hill" (since it was planted in 2000 rather than 1995-1997) on September 4th.  We made our next passes on September 18th and October 2nd.  Still, nearly half the fruit remained.  We went through again on October 7th, and a final pick -- our last pick of the harvest -- on October 16th. It's a good thing Roussanne is so rewarding in the cellar.  If it weren't, no one would deal with its quirks. The culprit, looking deceptively placid in early October:

Roussanne mid-September 2


And while we're early to be done with harvest, the cooler nights and the shorter days are beginning to bring out the fall colors in the vineyard.  I take a photo from this vantage point nearly every year because it shows two grapes that both color up in the fall: Tannat, in the foreground, and Syrah, on the hillside behind.

Fall foliage 2

Now that we're done with picking, we're able to get our animal herd back into the vineyard.  They can clean up any second crop clusters we left behind, as well as start getting some natural fertilizer into the soil in advance of what we're hoping will be a wet winter.  Dottie, one of our guard donkeys, is enjoying a snack of Marsanne before it goes dormant: 

Dottie back in the vineyard

And as for that rain, we're feeling hopeful that the series of Pacific fronts that have blown through Paso Robles over the last two weeks -- dry though they were, this early in the season -- bode well for winter. In many years, it's still hot and summer-like in mid-October.  These last two weeks have felt like fall.  If that promise carries through to real rain, we'll all have reason to celebrate.

Categories: North America

Waterfall Bay 2015 - a taste of Seresin life

Seresin Estate - Marlborough, New Zealand - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 04:51
At Seresin, we like to do things a little differently, which is why - when you visit - you will find yourself driving through native plantings and olive groves, and dodging pukekos and guinea fowl, to reach our Cellar Door and offices. And, should you take a vineyard tour, you'd not only see our organically and biodynamically managed vineyards, but also our gardens, orchards, jersey cows, goats, chickens, pigs, beehives and working Clydesdale horses. Yes, we grow grapes and make wine, but we are far more than simply a vineyard: we are a farm, an estate, a bio-diverse ecosystem and a family. 

Once a year, in the summer, we host our Waterfall Bay dinner series at our occasional restaurant in the Marlborough Sounds, as a way of sharing some of this Seresin life. We work with an international chef to create a menu that showcases not only our wines, but also some of the produce from the estate. 

This year we are delighted to be welcoming Nic Poelaert from Brooks Restaurant in Melbourne to join our team from February 12th-15th. Born and raised in France, Nic trained and worked under numerous acclaimed chefs at notable establishments, including Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London and Restaurant Michel Bras in France - both Michelin starred. In Melbourne, he opened the multi-award winning Embrasse restaurant, which he owned and managed for four years before deciding that change was needed. Now head chef at Brooks in Melbourne, he works directly with small producers to create dishes that are seasonal, respectful of the producers and the ingredient, as well as adventurous in terms of flavour, texture and appearance.
Nic is looking forward to the prospect of working with our team to create a menu that reflects Seresin and all that makes us unique, and we are looking forward to making him part of our family. 
Waterfall Bay tickets are now available to purchase, and we would love to have you join us for our celebration of summer, Seresin, good food, good wine and good company. The ticket price of $300 is inclusive of a five course degustation menu with matching wines, and the boat journey across the Sounds to the tranquil surroundings of Waterfall Bay itself. 
The dinners run from 12th-15th February:
12th February – Thursday Dinner13th February – Friday Lunch13th February – Friday Dinner14th February – Saturday Dinner15th February – Sunday Lunch15th February – Sunday Dinner
More information and ability to book is online and if you require more information or would prefer to book over the phone, please call 03 572 9408 or email at .
Hope to see you there... 

Categories: Oceania

Harvest 2014 - the whites

Domaine Jones - Languedoc, France - Sun, 10/19/2014 - 12:35

The main white grape varieties are Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc and small amounts of Macabeu and Carignan Gris.

The grapes are hand picked into small crates, chilled then pressed and popped into vat to ferment for around 20 days.  Sounds easy but those crates are all hand loaded on to the trailer (thank you to Damian and Becky!) then hand loaded into the press - and then all hand washed!!

We destalk about 40% of the Grenache Gris and Blanc grapes before they jump like lemmings into the press.

Then the wine starts to come alive in the vat as the magic of fermentation begins

The wines then become a bit like offspring - you worry about them day and night - are they warm enough, are they cold enough, have they got enough air, too much air....  They start to develop their own character, some advance quicker than others, some are naughty and some are well behaved but you end up getting very attached to all of them.

Categories: Europe

Harvest 2014 - the reds

Domaine Jones - Languedoc, France - Sun, 10/19/2014 - 10:33
Syrah lees or the gunk at the bottom of the tankHere at Domaine Jones our main red grapes are Carignan, Grenache and Syrah. These grapes will either go into our Fitou (a blend of all 3) or kept separate as single varietels.  As each of our 25 vineyards are fermented separately it means that not only do we have a lot of small vats and barrels but we keep our options wide open until we get to know each wine intimately and then blend or not in April 2015.

The Syrah usually comes in first, except for our high altitude vineyard, followed by the Carignan and Grenache.  This year was even more exciting than usual as we have invested in a vibrating sorting table!  We did think of a couple of uses for the table which had absolutely nothing to do with the harvest but its main purpose is to make sure make that all stalks and leaves are removed before putting the grapes into vat.  The top grapes for La Perle Rare are inspected by no less than 8 people on their bumpy journey down the table to the awaiting open barrel.

The top wines then received more VIP treatment barrel as the grapes were gently squeezed by 3 pairs of feet twice a day for 7 days.

Although it is still early days, as we have only just started to press the Syrah, (usually after about 20 days) the wine is already showing a great concentration, lovely fruit and a great balance.

For the wines that ferment in vat we do twice daily pump overs to extract colour and structure from the skins.

I'd also like to give a special mention for our awesome vineyard of 80 year old grenache in Maury that surpassed itself this year and gave us the biggest crop we have ever had.  The wine is fermenting away and smells absolutely heavenly!

Categories: Europe

Crushing grapes by hand!

Last week we picked some of our Chardonnay grapes and crushed them by hand to make a Pied de Cuve. The idea of this is to cultivate naturally occurring yeasts on the skins of the grapes which can be used to ferment wine.
Using natural yeasts in this way, instead of commercial yeasts, means we can make two types of ‘natural wines’ - a biodynamic sparkling and a Petillant Naturel. We hope that these wines will have a real sense of ‘place’ or terroir, having been made with natural yeasts from the vineyard. Many people enjoy biodynamic and natural wines as they are lower in alcohol, softer in bubbles and have very few sulphites added.
The winemaker has very little control over the process of making these wines and has to rely on nature to do its work. As far as we are aware, no other vineyards in England have made a Pet Nat so maybe Albury Vineyard will be the first. Most people either love or hate wines made in this way. We will be interested to see what you think of ours!
Categories: Europe

Shaved Salad with Guajillo-Lime Vinaigrette

Shaved Salad with Guajillo-Lime Vinaigrette

Hola! Vianney from here to share with you a fall inspired shaved salad, Enjoy!

Fall is here! Living in South Texas this means a break from the grueling summer temperatures, which makes us Texans happy, really happy.  Fall also makes me crave slow cooked meals, oven baked goodies and comforting dinners brimming with fall flavors. This shave salad paired with K-J AVANT sauvignon Blanc would be a welcome addition to your fall table and can be made in less than fifteen minutes.  Thinly sliced vegetables provide a light touch to the salad while the vinaigrette wraps the complete dish in blanket of warmth with guajillo chiles.

KJAVANT-shaved-salad-VianneyRodriguez-1Tip: Reduce your prep time by assembling the vinaigrette over the weekend, store in fridge until ready to serve

Guajillo chiles are a favorite among Mexican cooks – smokey with a tangy bite, guajillos are an ingredient you need to try.  I keep my guajillo chiles stored in a large resealable plastic bag in the freezer and use them to flavor my stews, salsa, pozole and to make this vinaigrette. Try this vinaigrette tossed with quinoa and a mix of steamed vegetables for a tasty lunch or serve drizzled over salmon.

KJAVANT-shaved-salad-VianneyRodriguezTool Tip: A mandoline makes slicing the vegetables a flash, a few careful swipes across the sharp blade and your all set.    
Print Shaved Salad with Guajillo-Lime Vinaigrette Author: Vianney Rodriguez Recipe type: salad Serves: 4   Ingredients

  • Ingredients for Salad:
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 pound crimini mushrooms
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, julienned (sliced into thin strips)
  • Grated parmesan
  • Ingredients for Vinaigrette:
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles, stem removed and seeded
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • Salt
  • pepper
  1. Place guajillo chiles in a small saucepan with two cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and cool completely. Place rehydrated chiles, garlic, olive oil, sherry vinegar and honey into a blend. Blend until smooth, season with salt and pepper. With a sharp knife thinly slice zucchini, squash and mushrooms and place in a bowl along with spinach. Drizzle with half the vinaigrette and toss. Serve garnished with parmesan and additional vinaigrette.

The post Shaved Salad with Guajillo-Lime Vinaigrette appeared first on Kendall-Jackson Blog.

Categories: North America

Chocolate Chile Truffles

Chocolate Chile Truffles

Hola! Vianney from here to share with you a decadent treat to finish off a delicious evening on a sweet note. Enjoy!

Impress your guest with one of the easiest candy there is to make. No one will have to know how easy these wondrous mini sweets are to make. Only a handful of ingredients are needed to make these truffles so go all out and splurge on quality chocolate which pairs nicely with K-J Late Harvest Chardonnay.


Simmered heavy cream is infused with ground chile powders and cinnamon. Add chocolate and you’re halfway through this recipe. No melon baller, no need to worry use a spoon to shape your mounds, but make sure you return the chocolate to the fridge and allow to firm up before shaping with hands.

This recipe can easily be adapted, add a mint extract or vanilla, roll in toasted coconut or finely diced nuts to create a platter for your next Holiday party or a romantic dinner at home.

KJAVANT-truffles-VianneyRodriguez-1 Print Chocolate Chile Truffles Author: Vianney Rodriguez Recipe type: Dessert Serves: 10   Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ teaspoon ground chile ancho
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Cocoa powder
  1. In a small saucepan over medium simmer cream, ground chile ancho, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Add the chocolate and stir until it melts, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for two hours or until completely firm. After chocolate is firm, remove from fridge and with a melon baller or spoon scoop mounds on a plate or baking sheet. Return to fridge for 10 minutes to firm up. Place 1 tablespoon coco powder on a small plate. After firm with hands shape mounds into balls and roll in cocoa powder. Place truffles in a cool dry place and serve room temperature.

The post Chocolate Chile Truffles appeared first on Kendall-Jackson Blog.

Categories: North America

Chickpea Chorizo Pasta

Chickpea Chorizo Pasta

Hola! Vianney from here to share with you a fall inspired pasta dish that is pure comfort. Enjoy!

We’re celebrating the arrival of fall with comfort in a bowl. Nothing screams comfort more that a perfectly cooked pot of al dente cooked pastas tossed with a rich, savory sauce.  Mexican chorizo in all its glory is sautéed with onion, garlic and cumin. Stir in chickpeas, a pass of heavy cream along with cooked pasta this recipe is simple to make. Begin by bringing a large pot of water to a boil, pour yourself a glass of K-J AVANT Red Blend and let’s eat.


Mexican chorizo is made from ground pork, beef or soy and can be used to make breakfast tacos, queso, in tacos or in pasta. Made with ground ancho chiles, guajillo chiles, ground cumin and coriander chorizo can be found in near the breakfast meats at your local grocery store.
Print Chickpea Chorizo Pasta Author: Vianney Rodriguez Recipe type: pasta Serves: 4-6   Ingredients

  • 12 ounce pasta, rotini
  • 12 ounces Mexican chorizo, casing removed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Grated parmesan
  1. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil, stir in rotini; return to boil and cook under pasta is cooked but still firm, about 11 minutes. Drain, set aside.
  2. While pasta cooks, place chorizo over medium-high heat in a nonstick pan and fully cook, breaking up chorizo with wooden spoon. When fully cooked remove from pan and drain on a paper-towel lined plate. Remove all but 1 teaspoon fat from chorizo and return pan to heat, add onion and garlic, sauté until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add chicken broth and cumin and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, stir in heavy cream, season with salt and pepper, add chickpeas and simmer until chickpeas heat through. Add pasta, toss to coat and serve warm with grated parmesan.

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Categories: North America

Curry Spiced Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Curry Spiced Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Hi friends! It’s Molly from my name is yeh here! The other day I did something I haven’t done in forever: carve a pumpkin. I even threw a party about it! My friends and I noshed on cheese and grapes, sipped Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and made pumpkin terrariums. We filled them with flowers and herbs from my garden, as well as little succulent clippings. Some of my friends even made little flower crowns for their pumpkins and they were the cutest.

pumpkin-kj-3pumpkin-kj-2pumpkin-kj-1Afterwards, we had a ton of pumpkin seeds on our hands. The answer? Curry spiced toasted pumpkin seeds! Once you get past the sliminess of the seeds, they’re super simple to make and they’ll make your kitchen smell wonderful!

Print Curry Spiced Toasted Pumpkin Seeds Author: Molly Yeh Recipe type: snack Serves: 6-8   Ingredients

  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • A large pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 300. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. Place your pumpkin seeds in a strainer and rinse them under cold water. Use your hands to remove any flesh. Strain them, and pat them dry as best you can. Place them in a large lidded container (or a large ziploc bag), sprinkle in the oil, curry powder, and salt. You can even add a little cumin or other spices that you'd like. Shake the container to coat the seeds evenly. Spread them out on the pan evenly and bake until crispy, 20-30 minutes, tossing or stirring halfway through.
  3. Let cool slightly and enjoy!
Happy carving, everyone!

The post Curry Spiced Toasted Pumpkin Seeds appeared first on Kendall-Jackson Blog.

Categories: North America

2014 Harvest

Domaine Jones - Languedoc, France - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 12:01

Well that's it for another year!  The 6th Jones vintage has been safely harvested and is now gently fermenting in vat.  The first bunch was cut on the 4th September and the last bunch on the 8th of October.

2014 harvest was a 'close shave' of a harvest !  In a vintage that saw 4 months of rain fall in just 3 hours in Montpellier 60 km away, followed by horrendous floods we count ourselves to have been very very lucky!

Here we did have rain mid harvest but a relatively light shower of only 45 mm over 2 nights.  It would have been good if the north wind had then blown to dry the vineyards but for some reason the north wind has been particularly absent this year. In fact in the whole harvest we only had 1 day of north wind and then only blowing at a feeble 40 km an hour.  It usually acts like a great hair dryer in the sky and blows away any moisture that may be on the grapes thus allowing us to harvest in a more sedate manner.

When it decides not to blow it makes the harvest all the more complicated!  The skies were dominated by the moist south wind and humid air so the picking rota changed daily to make sure that the grapes were picked as soon as they were at optimum ripeness.

This was probably the most challenging vintage to pick so far due to the weather but thanks to the numerous helping hands it was probably one of the most enjoyable harvests too!

And those hands did help - picking, carrying, sorting, washing - many thanks to all who made the 2014 harvest special!

And really sorry my Mum and Dad couldn't make it this year but there will still be plenty of grapes to be picked and plenty of cases to be washed next vintage!!

Categories: Europe

Popping the Question at Ponte

Ponte Winery - Temecula, CA - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 09:00

Helping guys with their perfect marriage proposal is one of my favorite things to do here at the winery, and I have done many of them.  When they arrive, some guys have it all planned out in their head and others need help from beginning to end.  But there is one thing they all seem to have in common: they are nervous, excited, a bundle of pre-engagement energy.  I have a couple of suggested proposal plans, but I always tailor the proposal to the future husband’s specific needs and wants.

Here are two of my favorite Ponte proposal stories…

One guy, Peter, wanted to propose to his girlfriend, Hanna.  The plan was that they were going to come to the winery for a day of wine tasting and lunch in the restaurant.  When they came in to taste, I made sure that I was on the counter where they were standing.  As planned, I poured them a taste or two and then struck up a conversation about our Zinfandel Port.  I asked them if they liked Port.  On cue, Peter replied, “I love Port!”  Then I told them about this amazing Port that we had aging in our beautiful barrel room after which I invited them to come at taste it with me.  Of course they accepted, right on schedule.

So the three of us went into the barrel room and took a quick sip of the Port and they loved it.  After that, I asked them, “Hey, would you like to see our old Zinfandel vines that produce the grapes for this Port?”  Again, they accepted.  So we walked out to the wedding site that is surrounded by the vines.  Once we got to the arbor, I faked a phone call.  Rude, I know.  I would never do that normally. I pretended that I was needed immediately back in the tasting room.  That is when I left Peter to “pop the question.”

A few minutes later, I am back on the second floor of the tasting room (where some of our offices are) to join the ladies in the Wine Club so we peer out of the window and watch the blessed event occur.  We could see his actions but we, of course, couldn’t hear his words.  Eventually, Peter dropped to one knee and held out the ring.  The proof that she said yes came from watching him put the ring on her finger followed lots of hugs and kisses.  Every time we saw Hannah wiping tears of joy away, it is followed by a chorus of “awwws” from us onlookers upstairs.  Finally, the group of us headed downstairs to the tasting room to greet and congratulate the fiancés when they returned.

Another great proposal happened with a couple named Greg and Monica.  Greg had a completely different scenario in mind.  We did a similar set up where I took them to the barrel room.  However, this time, I did not go in with them.  Once they entered, I closed the door behind them.  The barrel room was simply yet elegantly decorated with rose petals on the floor in the shape of a heart surrounded by tea light candles, and of course the lighting was dim with some appropriate mood music playing lightly in the background.

What Monica didn’t know was that waiting outside of the barrel room for her were 25 of her closest friends and family members, many from out of state, who came to be a part of the engagement.  After about 5 minutes in the barrel room, the newly engaged couple emerged where Monica walked into surprise number two. That was a really cool moment for me to witness and be a part of.  Tears and laughter were flowing.

In both cases, the couples were overwhelmed with gratitude, but I consider it part of the job.  We’re here to exceed expectations, whether that’s in the restaurants, at the hotel, serving guests wine or making the perfect proposal happen.  To be a part of a memory that a couple will never forget is super cool.

Let us know if you want to create an unforgettable moment at Ponte…  we have lots of ideas for you.

To learn about having your wedding at Ponte Winery, click here.

–Ty Tyler, Guest Services Assistant Manager


Categories: North America

Cozy Up with Miso Butternut Squash Soup

Happyolks KJ-22

Hello! Kelsey here chiming in from I’ve got soup on the mind as the the weather fades and leaves line the streets. It’s sweater weather, as they say. Soup weather too.

There is nothing more satisfying on a crisp autumn day that a bowl of warm soup and a glass of wine with friends, am I right? Today I’m sharing a recipe for Miso Butternut Squash that pairs perfectly with K-J AVANT Chardonnay. A familiar classic is elevated with a hint of umami from the miso (a traditional Japanese seasoning/paste produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and the fungus Aspergillus oryzae and sometimes rice, barley, or other ingredients). I think Miso makes everything it touches a bit more special.    

                         Happyolks KJ-23

Happyolks KJ-24Happyolks KJ-25

Print Miso Butternut Squash Soup Author: Kelsey Boyte Recipe type: Soup Serves: 6   Ingredients

  • 3 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 4 sweet onions (Vidalia or Walla Walla)
  • 1 Honeycrisp apple, sliced, skins on
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh thyme
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tsp minced garlic
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 3 heaping Tbsp brown rice miso paste
  • 4½ cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • salt/pepper
  • (optional for garnish)
  • chives, chopped
  • micro basil
  • your favorite hot sauce
  1. Preheat the oven for 400.’ Toss prepared squash cubes in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bake for 20-30 minutes until just starting to brown around the edges.
  2. In a heavy, large pot over medium-high heat, combine onions and 2 tablespoons olive oil to caramelize. When onions begin to brown, add thyme, apple, garlic, and half of the butter. Continue to simmer, stirring frequently. After 10-15 minutes stir in miso paste. Mixture will be sticky and clumpy for a bit. Add roasted butternut squash. Stir again. Pour in a bit of the broth to deglaze, then add the rest of the broth. Add a dash of salt and pepper. Simmer over medium-low heat, covered, for 20-25 minutes.
  3. Puree in batches in a high powered blender. Thin as needed with filtered water. Transfer pureed soup to a serving vessel. Garnish with chives, micro basil, and hot sauce as desired.
Happyolks KJ-33Happyolks KJ-32Happyolks KJ-29

The post Cozy Up with Miso Butternut Squash Soup appeared first on Kendall-Jackson Blog.

Categories: North America

Coyam History

Viñedos Emiliana - Chile - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 17:42
Categories: South America

Bordeaux 2014 – guarded optimism as harvest ends

Chateau Bauduc - Bordeaux, France - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 16:20

This report also appears on and Liv-ex.

There’s a sense of cautious optimism as the last of the red grapes are harvested in Bordeaux. While 2014 isn’t a great year, it could prove to be a really good one for many chateaux. An excellent flowering in June, a mixed summer, then a gorgeous September and first few days of October all give the impression of a ’bookend’ season that started and ended well.

On the face of it, the timing of the harvest and the size of the crop is almost a return to normal, if there is such a thing. The dry whites were picked in September and the reds in late September and first half of October, producing a decent yield of healthy grapes.

La Conseillante in Pomerol, Merlot, 2 October 2014

La Conseillante in Pomerol, Merlot, 2 October 2014

Yet it hasn’t simply been a case of harvesting ’à la carte’, as some Bordelais like to boast in great years like 2005, 2009 and 2010. I’ve been lucky enough to drop in to see the harvest being handled at scores of leading chateaux over the last few weeks and here are some observations.

Five glorious weeks

I caught up with Christian Moueix in St-Emilion at the beginning of October, before they picked at Ch Belair Monange. “It’s a good vintage – very good in fact” he said, speaking mainly of his Pomerols. “And a miracle compared to what we thought at the end of August.”

After a fairly lacklustre summer, we’ve had the best September and start to October that I can recall in 16 harvests here.

The good weather lasted for more than just September. After the August veraison (when the grapes changed colour), Bordeaux enjoyed a 38-40 day sunny spell for the crucial ripening period in the build up to the harvest. For example, Léognan, to the south of the city of Bordeaux, saw a consistent level of rain in May, June, July and August: 69mm, 71mm, 67mm and 73mm respectively. In 38 days from 29 August to 5 October, however, just 14mm of rain fell there.

“September and the start of October have completely transformed the vintage”, according to Jean-René Matignon, who celebrates the end of his 30th vintage at Pichon Baron today as they pick the last of the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Petit Verdot.

Harvest dates

The picking order for the reds can be quite predictable across Bordeaux yet it seemed more variable this year. Traditionally, the earlier ripening Merlot vineyards of Pessac and Pomerol are the first to come in. Then St-Emilion and the left bank estates pick their Merlots, before the Médoc concentrates on Cabernet Sauvignon and the right bank on the later-ripening Merlots and Cabernet Franc.

This year, however, it has been more random, partly as a result of the varying levels of rainfall in September but also because chateaux could afford to wait while the sun was still shining.

Many of the great estates of the Medoc began harvesting their Merlots in bright sunshine in the last week of September, including Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton-Rothschild, Palmer, Montrose and many others. Some, like Leoville Poyferré, started harvesting Merlot the following week on 1 October, the same day that Lafite and Mouton started their Cabernet Sauvignon.

Petrus in Pomerol, Merlot, 3 October 2014

Petrus in Pomerol, Merlot, 3 October 2014

On the right bank, Pomerol picked earlier than St-Emilion as usual, starting mainly in that last week of September. Petrus (above) picked on 3 and 4 October, at the same time as L’Eglise Clinet, with Le Pin on 2 October.

The sunshine and blue skies sadly departed on Monday 6 October, yet most of the forecasted rain stayed away until Thursday 9 October, giving a great many chateaux on the left bank and in St-Emilion a chance to harvest in overcast but dry conditions. Some Medoc estates such as Lafite and Leoville Barton wrapped up on Wednesday 8 October while others, like Cos d’Estournel, finished on the Friday. Several chateaux in both St-Emilion and in the Médoc have carried on into this week.

Minimal rot

There was almost zero botrytis on the grapes at the umpteen vineyards I visited from the last week of September to 10 October. It was rot-free from St-Emilion to St-Estèphe, from Pomerol to Pauillac. This contrasts with 2011, 2012 and especially 2013 when there was often a compromise between waiting to pick ripe fruit and having to sort and remove any rot-affected bunches.

With less risk of rot, growers have had the chance in 2014 to push for the best level of ripeness until there was nothing more to be gained. Bearing in mind, though, the early start to the growing season in April, it’s no surprise that some vines were visibly flagging by the end.

Cos d'Estournel in St-Estephe, Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 Oct 2014

Cos d’Estournel in St-Estephe, Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 October 2014

Another world

It was ’un autre monde’ 30 years ago, remarked Jean-René Matignon, referring to his first vintage at Pichon Baron in 1985. The extraordinary array of sophisticated sorting equipment in use today demonstrates this: most harvest reception areas at the top estates have changed completely in the last 10 years a lone. And it doesn’t stop there. ’Come and see my yeast booster,’ said Thomas Duroux of Chateau Palmer excitedly, whilst at Cos d’Estournel, access to the floor above the spectacular vat room was restricted. ’Not even our consultants are allowed up there – we have 35 separate patents on the kit we designed’ Aymeric de Gironde pointed out intriguingly. (It was good to see, by the way, Cos owner Michel Reybier joining in on the harvest lunch with their team of 80 Spanish pickers.)

Reasonable yields

After three years of declining yields, 2014 production levels are a cause for mild celebration. ’Les cuves sont pleines’ Denis Durantou of l’Eglise Clinet was happy to report. Most Bordeaux appellations are restricted by law to making around 55hl/ha, and many Crus Classés are talking about ’normal’ yields of 40-48hl/ha.

Jean-Michel Comme tastes the Cabernet Sauvignon at Ch Pontet-Canet, 10 October 2014

Jean-Michel Comme tastes the Cabernet Sauvignon at Ch Pontet-Canet, Pauillac, 10 October 2014

Not all though – both Thomas Duroux of Ch Palmer in Margaux and Jean Michel Comme of Ch Pontet Canet in Pauillac estimate they’ll produce only about 32hl/ha. (Coincidentally, both vineyards are biodynamic, and the vines looked remarkably vibrant and healthy last week given the pressure of downy mildew faced by chateaux in Bordeaux from late July onwards.)

Withered Merlot

One unusual aspect of this year is the widespread occurrence of flétrissement (withering) of the skins of Merlot grapes in some parcels. There are several schools of thought as to what caused this, from the heat spike in July, the hydric stress in September, to a deficiency of magnesium and dry stems as a result of climatic conditions in the Spring across the Gironde. These relatively unripe and shrivelled grapes were often the principle target of the tables de tri and sorting machines, for those who have such luxuries.

Regional differences

One positive aspect of the vintage, depending on your point of view, is that it is not a uniform one. If the joy of wine is in its diversity then perhaps, despite all the modern technology employed today in Bordeaux, we will find wines of markedly different character in 2014. The varying patterns of rainfall and the negative impact of downy mildew in some vineyards will have made a significant difference.

Ch Cheval Blanc in St-Emilion, Merlot, 2 October 2014

Ch Cheval Blanc in St-Emilion, Merlot, 2 October 2014

Compare St-Emilion to St-Estèphe for example. Vincent Millet of Ch Calon Segur in St-Estèphe highlighted that, with all the talk of a damp summer, they’d had just 30 mm of rain each month in July, August and September. In St-Emilion, on the other hand rainfall was 85mm, 87mm and 60mm respectively in the same period (we had a whopping 125mm in July at my vineyard, mainly thanks to a freak storm on 25 July).

Even then, most of that September rain on the right bank fell on 17 and 18 September, providing useful refreshment to the vines some three weeks before the harvest began. In Margaux, meanwhile, there was no rain on 17/18 September but localised showers on the 7 September. These factors all make a difference and tasting the first vats of Merlot reveals there are clear regional characteristics to the wines.

How does 2014 compare?

Jean-Claude Berrouet’s first vintage at Petrus was 1964. He was there during this year’s harvest, joking that he is better known these days, since his retirement, for being the father of the current winemaker, Olivier.

’Every year has been different. No two years have been the same but I do think this year will produce elegant, classical wines. They should suit the British.’

Let’s hope so.

Categories: Europe

Why River Cruise?

Tablas Creek Vineyard - Paso Robles CA - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 02:07

By Larry Martin

[Editor's Note: Larry Martin is President of Food & Wine Trails, Tablas Creek's travel partner on our 2015 Rhone River cruise, which will be highlighted by a special visit to Beaucastel.  We asked him to contribute a first-hand account of what cruise-goers might expect should they join us next year.  For all the details on the August 2-9, 2015 trip, which will begin in Avignon, end in Lyon, and include many historical and oenological visits along the way, visit]

Our luggage was stolen from our rental car before we boarded our cruise; my wife twisted her knee and then got ill, so imagine my surprise when she said she wanted to do the same cruise again, “this time to get it right.” That’s a testament to how much we loved our first river cruise along the Rhône.

LM - Cruise Ship
The Uniworld Catherine, Cruising

River cruising has exploded in popularity, and it’s now difficult to find a cabin during high-season as these cruise fill up months and months in advance.

Food & Wine Trails does not sell what we haven’t personally experienced, so because so many of our winery clients have been asking us about river cruises, we’ve now cruised on five different ships, on three rivers with three different cruise lines.

Each was as great as our first trip on the Rhône but fortunately without the calamities. Here’s why: Whether from the deck or the sliding glass door in my cabin, there was always something to see, from steep vineyard hills and medieval castles to picturesque villages.

LM - Castle and vines
Medieval castle, viewed from the Rhone

LM - Gordes
The famously picturesque hilltop village of Gordes

LM - Hermitage
M. Chapoutier's terraced hillside vineyards at Hermitage

The small scale of river ships, which typically carry less than two hundred people, explains much of their appeal, as they offer more intimacy than ocean-going ships. On a river ship, you don't need a GPS device to find the lobby or the dining room. The staff is much more attentive and friendly. There are also plenty of opportunities to immerse oneself into the region and with the locals. Because the ships dock right in town, it’s easy to take off on one of the bikes the ship carries, or drop into bars and coffee shops at night.

LM - Lyon
Lyon, from the Rhone River

So after our first cruise, we cruised on the Danube, the Garonne (Bordeaux), the Volga and decided last year to return to the Rhone, and to cruise with our favorite cruise line: Uniworld. 

Why you might ask? Because the trip begins in Provence, one of France’s most beautiful regions, and ends in Lyon, France’s most important food city.  Each visited village and city was filled with history and charm, made all the more beautiful by the unique light that has inspired such artists as Picasso, Renoir and Van Gough. And for a wine lover, this particular cruise offers two special additions: One it traverses or visits five major wine regions; Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage and Burgundy. And two, you’ll be the guests of the Perrin family for lunch, owners of one of the most important wine estates in the region.

Beaucastel, behind the famous gobelet-trained vines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape

So what else does one need? A great ship, and Uniworld’s newest ship the Catherine is considered by many to be the world’s best river cruise ship.

LM - CdP Lock
On the Rhone, entering the lock at Chateauneuf-du-Pape

The only thing that I found lacking was time, because with all the great scenery, history and food and wine to explore, I never found enough of it. I guess I’ll have to return for a third time.

Categories: North America


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