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Thanksgiving Wine Suggestions from the Tablas Creek Team

Tablas Creek Vineyard - Paso Robles CA - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 23:46

TurkeyThanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It has yet to be successfully commercialized, and it centers around family and food.  What could be better!  The celebratory nature of the meal suggests that several bottles of wine will be consumed, but the varied nature of the foods on the table -- and the fact that many of the foods have some sweetness -- makes pairing a single wine challenging.  Yet, whether reds, whites or even rosé, Rhone-style wines are good bets.  The reds tend to be fruity and open-knit, while the whites tend to be rich and unoaked.  All these characteristics are friendly with a Thanksgiving dinner.  In fact, last year, we had four different major newspapers suggest Tablas Creek wines for Thanksgiving... and each of the four suggested a different wine!

To get a sense of some of the different options out there, I asked several members of the Tablas Creek team to share what they're pairing with their Thanksgiving feasts this year (whether Tablas Creek or otherwise).  Here is what they shared:

Neil Collins, Executive Winemaker
I will be drinking a Domaine Weinbach Cuvee Theo Riesling. It is delicate yet has a lushness and balance that will be perfect for our thanksgiving table. Chances are high that there will also be some hard cider consumed!

Lauren Cross, Marketing Assistant
I'm starting with Vermentino because it is bright and fun and low in alcohol- a perfect socializing wine.  Our Tablas Creek Vermentino is my mother's favorite and since she is the main chef of our Thanksgiving I like to make sure to keep her happy!  With our meal I will serve our 2010 En Gobelet which is my favorite.  I love to share this wine and tell the story of the dry-farmed en gobelet pruned vines this wine comes from.  En Gobelet is such a nice complement to a wide variety of fruit with the bright Grenache flavors, earthy Mourvedre and depth of the Syrah and Tannat.  

Thanksgiving 2014 Wine - DarrenDarren Delmore, National Sales Manager
We're goin' country with a smoked Texan brisket and two magnums with enough fruit and spice to match it: 2013 Miraval Cotes de Provence Rosé and 2004 Two Hands "Deer in Headlights" Barossa Valley Shiraz

Tyler Elwell, Cellar Master
I’m going to be having Whitcraft Winery 2013 Pinot Noir Santa Ynez Valley Pence Ranch Mt. Eden Clone.  It’s young, fresh and acidic. With 12.2 alcohol and it’s light body it’ll complement the variety of fixins on the table.

Chelsea Franchi, Assistant Winemaker
If I had any of these bottles left, my choice for Thanksgiving dinner (or any special dinner, for that matter) would be the Ridge 2011 Monte Bello Chardonnay.  With a gorgeous weight and fullness of texture, it is a wine that can certainly be enjoyed on its own before the feast, but drinking it without food seems like a shame.  With the beautiful balance it carries itself with, it can certainly pair with turkey and stuffing - and anything else you may find on your table this Thanksgiving.  After thinking about this wine, I believe I may have to resupply!

Thanksgiving 2014 Wine - LeviLevi Glenn, Viticulturist
Freisa - an indigenous variety to Piedmonte in Northern Italy, which according to Jancis Robinson is related to Nebbiolo. Aromatically it shows lighter red fruits, such as strawberry and raspberry. On the palate it exhibits more tannin than you would expect due to its light color. The acidity is medium to medium plus. A great accompaniment to a Thanksgiving meal, the acidity cuts through the richer sides, and its inherent juiciness will keep you coming back. Tip: chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to mellow the tannins and accentuate the fruit. A joyful wine for a joyous day.

Robert Haas, Founder
We're having oysters as hors d'oeuvres and traditional roasted turkey for the meal. I would like a dry minerally, chalky, citrusy white for the oysters, such as the Côtes de Tablas Blanc 2012. I prefer the 2012 for this use because the 2013 is more exuberant.  I would like a dark rich earthy red wine to go with the turkey, so we're going with the 2003 Panoplie.

Sylvia Montague, Assistant Tasting Room Manager
I am breaking tradition this year and heading to the coast for some seafood and a great ocean view. I am sure there must have been some creatures from the sea served at that first Thanksgiving in the new world (and if not, there should have been!).  I will bring along a bottle or two of our fabulous whites, Esprit de Tablas Blanc and/or Viognier, as they are outstanding with everything from crab, lobster, scallops and fish and stand up well to most manner of preparations.

John Morris, Tasting Room Manager
It the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I have no idea what wine we’re going to serve!  I can tell you that I’ll be stopping on my way home tonight and making some decisions on the fly.  Rather than a traditional Thanksgiving meal, we’ll be serving Thai food, so that changes the game considerably.  If turkey and stuffing were going to be front and center, I’d be looking for lighter-bodied reds (think Pinot Noir and Grenache-based blends), Rosé, or full, savory whites, such as the spectacular 2012 Esprit de Tablas Blanc.  If I was attending a large gathering, with the attendant danger of Aunt Martha spiking her wine with Fresca (or worse), I’d lean toward something a little easier on the wallet, like the 2013 Patelin de Tablas Blanc, which is really a superb wine at the price point.

As it is, I’ll be looking for off-dry whites for dinner, and maybe open an older Esprit de Beaucastel later in the evening.  I’ll let you know which vintage next time.

Madeline VanLierop-Anderson, Lab Specialist
My 2014 Thanksgiving wine selection comes from Jura, France.  Jura, a wine region located between Burgundy and Switzerland, is known for it’s distinct and unusual wines- this bottle certainly falls into a category of it’s own; Champ Divin 2013 Pinot Noir.

Like Tablas Creek, Champ Divin farms their vineyards by both organic and Biodynamic applications making this bottle a unique interest of mine.  This Thursday evening I will enjoy this Pinot with a honey cured spiral cut ham with sides of thinly sliced potatoes gratin, fresh green bean casserole, apple cranberry stuffing and my homemade cranberry sauce. 

As for a post meal beverage- I plan on opening a bottle of 2002 Delamotte Blanc de Blancs in undaunted faith that the San Francisco 49ers will “get stuffed” in feast- I mean Beast Mode by the reining NFL world champion Seattle Seahawks in their new critically acclaimed Levi stadium.  Although my wine is often red, my colors are Green and Blue- GO HAWKS!

As for me?
I'm going to be having dinner at my dad's house, so it sounds like I'll be enjoying some Panoplie.  Left to my own devices, I tend toward riesling and Beaujolais, and I try to pick the biggest bottle that I have available.  It's a party, after all... and nothing says party like a 3-liter bottle of wine!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Categories: North America

How to Add a Fun Twist to Your Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

How to Add a Fun Twist to Your Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

In my house, Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and a lot of fun. There is never a shortage of laughter or shenanigans when all those dearest to us are gathered. While everyone’s Thanksgiving is special in its own way, we have a few traditions that always keep people on their toes. Throw your guests a curveball this year and try one or try them all!

While we always have the traditional faire of Thanksgiving (my parents make the best Hasselback potatoes) we always like to incorporate something that’s just as delicious but not so traditional. For my family, that something is stone crab. You would never expect it on a day full of comfort food but it has become a Thanksgiving staple for us. We always start off the feast with stone crab and champagne, and let me tell you this is a tradition that no one has complaints about!

Speaking of food lets talk turkey. This is another case where the less traditional route can really pay off. I’ll never give up that traditionally cooked, delicious turkey but it’s also fun to try new cooking methods. For example, this year my family is experimenting with smoked Turkey legs. You know the kind that you get at Disneyland and eat straight off the bone as you walk around the park? Its like those, only much better. My Dad has been perfecting the cooking method for weeks, and I for one am most excited about this new addition to our Thanksgiving Feast. Try taking a page out of his book, in addition to your traditional turkey, try a new cooking method, there’s no shortage to choose from!

As I mentioned before, there is always Thanksgiving shenanigans at my house. In past years, we’ve been known to poke a little fun at each other. One year we printed out embarrassing pictures of each family member and pasted them on the heads of our homemade Turkey decorations — it made for a pretty funny evening and a great conversation starter with our guests. Try something along these lines by making personalized table settings. Instead of just writing each persons’ name transform them into a turkey! Simply print out a picture of each guest and paste his or her face onto a small turkey cut out. Place these at each table setting and you have a hilarious way to let guests know where they’re sitting.

By far my favorite part of Thanksgiving is something we started a few years ago and we had no idea it would turn into such an anticipated tradition. Our Thanksgiving is an ever expanding affair with new additions every year; one year we had a myriad of different people and we were looking for a way to bring people together and get them comfortable around each other.

Enter Thanksgiving Dares.

My siblings and I decided to be a little sneaky and we came up with a list of silly dares, which we taped underneath each plate. After enjoying our meal we surprised everyone with the dares. We went around the table and each person performed their dare, it was hilarious entertainment and a great way to bring everyone together. These dares are now the main event of Thanksgiving and our guests look forward to seeing what we come up with each year. Surprise your family with this game and who knows, it just may become a tradition for you too.

Check out some examples of our favorite dares below to get you started. Although we always surprise people with new dares, these somehow make their way into the mix every year:

  1. Slap yourself in the face with a piece of turkey.
  2. Choose a partner and do a jig with them.
  3. Tell everyone why you love Thanksgiving in an accent.
  4. Fit as much stuffing in your mouth as you can.

It’s these traditions that make our Thanksgiving such an anticipated and insanely fun Holiday. Every year, we countdown the days until we are able to gather with our family and friends and give thanks in our own unique way. What funny and unique Thanksgiving traditions does your family have?

The post How to Add a Fun Twist to Your Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner appeared first on Kendall-Jackson Blog.

Categories: North America

Inaugurazione della nostra sala di degustazione nel centro storico di Noci

A Mano Wines - Puglia, Italy - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:00
13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 1

La sera del 31 Ottobre scorso, festa di Halloween, abbiamo inaugurato insieme ad ospiti ed amici la nostra sala degustazione nel centro storico di Noci, in Via San Giovanni.
E’ stata una bellissima occasione per brindare insieme e per assaggiare le specialità dell’Incredibile Panino di Marino Notarnicola. Stiamo organizzando gli “Assaggi dell’Avvento”.
Degustazioni guidate per appassionati e curiosi.

Contattateci, vi aspettiamo.

Elvezia e Mark

Categories: Europe

Celebration Time

Congratulations Ryan and Olga O’Connell

Thank You Ryan & Olga for that Memorable Time! You put together some very entertaining events for your BIG Day (your disappearance and the game to find you was very creative). We all obviously enjoyed the Great Dinner Soirée with the Jeroboam bottle of Champagne and your special wine “O’Happy Life Together”!

Ryan & gorgeous OlgaRyan & Olga's BIG DAY said "I DO"Ryan & Olga O'Connell 's ringsProud Mon & DadO'Happy & Memorable DayWe love you Olga & Ryan!Happy Mr & Mrs O'ConnellSan Francisco City HallGreat Afternoon DrinksThree happy O'Connells MenO'Happy Life together Olga & Ryan!Open that Jeroboam of Champagne!Jeroboam Happy!Jeroboam Empty!Great Dinner SoiréeJune & Graham AltamuraJimmy & Carly PaganoDavid O'ConnellSkyping Olga's Family in Russia
Categories: Europe

Recent winner of a case of Award Winning '09 Aged-Released Shiraz

Shaw + Smith - Balhannah, South Australia - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 10:07

Congratulations to Karen Sorensen - you won a case (6) of award-winning 2009 Aged Release Shiraz.
Thank you to everyone who has entered our recent competition.

Categories: Oceania

(Español) Gê La perfección de un vino

Viñedos Emiliana - Chile - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 20:24

Sorry, this entry is only available in Español.

Categories: South America

"Winning Wines For Thanksgiving Dinner"

Cuvaison Estate Wines - Napa Valley, CA - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 19:14

Our 2012 Kite Tail Chardonnay was selected as one of the "Winning Wines For Thanksgiving Dinner" by Bayou City Magazine's food writer Robin Barr Sussman. 

"Whites with a touch of sweetness are more forgiving in pairings because of the lack of tannins; they also complement starchy side dishes. A world-class and popular California Chardonnay like Cuvaison will perk up turkey due to its rich mouth feel, unctuous fruit and buttery toast nuances, but also consider Rhone Valley whites."

Read the entire article here

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Categories: North America

Easy Duck Confit Recipe: Substituting Olive Oil for Duck Fat

Jordan Winery - Healdsburg, California - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 12:25
In the Jordan Winery kitchen, there is always a batch of duck confit in some stage of preparation. One of the key ingredients in a traditional duck confit recipe is the duck fat, which isn’t easy for most home cooks to source pre-made. Rendering your own fat from the duck takes more time than most [...]
Categories: North America

How to Take Your Wine Knowledge to the Next Level

How to Take Your Wine Knowledge to the Next Level

Last June, we talked about various ways a beginner can learn about wine: reading and tasting as much as you can. Now, let’s say you have a foot or two on the rung and would like to climb higher in your understanding and appreciation. What’s the next step?

Well, you’ll never want to stop reading and tasting. But you will want to augment them with activities designed to get you ever deeper into the topic, and one of the best ways is to hold your own private wine tasting session!

Yes, it might sound challenging, even geeky, but organizing a tasting is not only doable but fun, and it’ll take you to a higher level as a wine connoisseur.

You first want to know how many people to invite. Six is a comfortable number. Then decide what kind of wines to taste. The classic approach is to select a variety (Cabernet Sauvignon, say), and then obtain a range of different brands to taste. Four is a good number — not too few, not too many. You’ll need one bottle of each (you can generally get about 12-14 tasting pours per bottle). Since budgeting is always important, you’ll want to choose wineries whose bottle prices you’re comfortable with. Or you can always arrange for your guests to each bring a bottle.

Most red wines will benefit from being opened an hour or two in advance of tasting, so plan on that. You’ll need one glass for each wine, so in this case, each of your six guests will have four glasses, for a total of 24 glasses. That’s a lot, but if you don’t have the supply, you can easily rent glasses (I Googled “rent wine glasses” and got lots of hits). Do try and use a glass with a large bowl, so you can swirl liberally, which releases aromatic compounds in the wine.

There are different ways to conduct the tasting. You might want to discover the essential “Cabernet-ness” of each of the wines. This is a vital step in wine appreciation: Cabernet has an essential quality whether it’s from California, France, Australia or Chile, and you should strive to identify it. You might want to include a quality component to see which of the wines people think is the best, and why: Understanding what quality is, is one of the fundamentals of wine knowledge. And you most certainly want to take notes — so be sure to provide your guests with paper and pen for that purpose. And don’t forget the spit bucket! It’s okay to have simple crackers or sliced baguettes at a tasting, but nothing more than that. Save the hors d’oeuvres for afterwards.

Encourage your guests to talk about their impressions. Some people find talking about wine uncomfortable, but they presumably wouldn’t be at your home, at a wine tasting, if they did. So let everyone know that there’s really no right or wrong when it comes to wine — everybody’s opinion counts and you’re all among friends. And let the conversation begin!


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.


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The post How to Take Your Wine Knowledge to the Next Level appeared first on Kendall-Jackson Blog.

Categories: North America

The Bird is the Word

Ponte Winery - Temecula, CA - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 08:00

It’s true, the turkey is king on Thanksgiving Day.  It’s the star of the show, the ultimate symbol of this great American holiday.  Young and old gorge themselves on the chicken’s much bigger cousin and this single flightless fowl then feeds us in leftover form for days.  But I have a confession; call me un-American, call me a traitor, call me…well…a turkey.  But here it is: I don’t think turkey is all that great. Anyone else think it’s a tad bland?  Now, I adore Thanksgiving, but when it comes to my plate, I usually take hordes of side dishes and a couple very thin slices of turkey which I douse in cranberry sauce.  Then I go back for seconds of side dishes.  I’ll always make a turkey for the holiday to remain loyal to its symbolism but it will probably never, ever be my favorite part of the meal no matter how much it’s been brined, marinated, deep-fried, slow-roasted or basted in truffle butter.  Sorry, not sorry.

As for the Thanksgiving wine, this is the really exciting part for me.  Choosing the right wine can be overwhelming on such an occasion when there are so many flavors and textures going on in the side dishes alone.  Tart cranberry, sweet potatoes, crunchy onion toppings, savory gravy and boring turkey…it’s practically a circus for the taste buds.  And these are just the basics.  There are countless Thanksgiving dishes that incorporate seafood, spicy sausage, dried fruits and more.  I have found the best results when I go with a lighter wine.  Not necessarily white, but light.  With lots of fruit.  My go-to selection is a dry rose wine.  Dry roses offer the light body of a white wine with all of the fruity characteristics of a red which compliment many different dishes without overpowering them.  If you have any bottles of Ponte’s Fiorella or Pas Doux in your home, you will not regret opening them for Thanksgiving dinner.  I am personally a recent Chardonnay convert and will say that Ponte’s 2013 vintage is bursting with fruit flavors and just the tiniest touch of vanilla oak, so if you’re looking for a great white wine to serve, this is the one.

Most people don’t equate red wines with “light” but the two can and do coexist.  Take our 2011 Tempranillo.  It is considered a medium-bodied wine meaning it doesn’t have a whole lot of tannins and is easier to drink than, say, a bold Cabernet.  With black cherry, blackberry and plum flavors, it’s a great choice to serve your red-loving friends and family this Thursday.  While not really “light”, don’t rule out our Holiday Reserve Zinfandel as a Thanksgiving wine.  Thing is, this hefty bottle is a magnum, meaning it is twice the size of a standard bottle of wine, meaning it serves twice the number of people, meaning it’s obviously perfect for a holiday like Thanksgiving.  It is actually a wonderful wine to serve with ham, Thanksgiving’s other main meat dish.

So, what have we learned here?  That:

  1. When in doubt, go for a lighter wine for Thanksgiving, something without a lot of tannins and with a whole lot of fruit.
  2. Unless you are getting our Holiday Reserve Zinfandel which is a good choice ‘cuz it’s really big even though it’s not really light but it’s still fruity…
  3. Aw, heck, you know what?  Drink what you like this Thanksgiving!  We have something for absolutely everyone

–What wines will you serve this Thanksgiving?

–Erica Martinez

Categories: North America

Weekly Roundup for November 23rd, 2014: Natural Wine, Ancient Rocks, Knobbly Fruit & Thanksgiving

Tablas Creek Vineyard - Paso Robles CA - Sun, 11/23/2014 - 06:51

This week's Weekly Roundup is highlighted by a great thought piece on what makes wine "modern" or "traditional", and whether either of these have a relationship with the idea of "natural wine".  We've included a couple of our favorites of the many Thanksgiving wine recommendations omnipresent at this time of year.  And, of course, we check in with some members of our community who are doing cool stuff.  As always, please share in the comments what you like, and what you'd like to see different.

The bounty of (our) harvest

Artisan photo of quinces

  • We kick off this week's column with a gorgeous photo from Artisan Restaurant.  We've partnered with them on several dinners over the years, including one early this year which featured lamb from our property.  Their photo on Instagram (above) of some knobbly bright yellow quinces from one of our trees caught our eye.  We dropped some off there because we had many more than we had any idea how to use, and wanted to get them into capable hands.  This photo isn't an isolated event; there's beautiful stuff worth following on all of Artisan's social media feeds.  If you're wondering why we grow quinces (along with apples, pears, cherries, plums, peaches and apricots) they're a part of the increased biodiversity we've been working to integrate over recent years.

Something in the (ancient) water

  • Halter fossilOur neighbor Halter Ranch posted a great photo (right, or on the Halter Ranch Facebook page for a high-resolution version) of one of the fish fossils that they found in their rocks and integrated into their winery building.  It's a great reminder that the soils that sit under our vineyards (and much of west Paso Robles) were deposited as seabed in the Miocene period (10-20 million years ago). These were lifted above the surface in the creation of the Santa Lucia Mountains quite recently, by geologic standards.  My dad wrote a great blog piece about our soils' history in 2011, if you're interested in learning more.

The 2014 Harvest

Is there a holiday coming up?

  • Thanksgiving is the American holiday most dedicated to eating and drinking.  Yet, many traditional Thanksgiving foods aren't naturally friendly to many of the most popular American wines, given their questionable affinity to oak and high alcohol.  Happily, Rhones, both red and white, make classic pairings, and it's always a pleasure waiting for the pre-Thanksgiving wine columns suggesting Rhones as an accompaniment.  I thought Laurie Daniel's Rhones for Thanksgiving column for the San Jose Mercury News was particularly good this year, and was pleased to see that our 2012 Cotes de Tablas ("bright fruit with savory notes of wild herbs") was one of her suggestions.
  • We weren't mentioned, but I still really liked Eric Asimov's Thanksgiving recommendation that the wine you choose should "Refresh the Palate". He highlights versatility and energy as two characteristics to look for in your Thanksgiving wine, and recommends an eclectic mix. I'm not sure I could find many of the wines he and his panel recommend (there are rewards for living in New York City, after all) but I do know that I agree completely with his basic advice. Read more »

An event to look forward to

  • This week, the Paso Robles Rhone Rangers announced the details of their 2015 Paso Robles Rhone Rangers Experience. In the last seven years, this event has become a showpiece for the Rhone movement here, and it's a remarkable value: just $85 for the full slate of events, including a nine-wine seminar (this year led by the Wine Enthusiast's Matt Kettmann), a vintners lunch catered by Chef Maegen Loring, a grand tasting featuring some 50 Paso Robles Rhone wineries, and a silent auction that benefits the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund.  There's a $35 ticket for just the Grand Tasting, too. Details & tickets »

Food for Thought (Beverage for Thought?)

  • Finally for this week I wanted to point you to a blog that is writing some of the most consistently interesting and erudite pieces in the world of wine today.  Elaine Brown of Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews this week tackles the questions raised by the ambiguity inherent in the definition of "natural wine".  We fall in her category 3 ("Wine growers and/or makers that use organic and/or biodynamic viticultural practices and/or less interventionist cellar techniques with few additives but do not define themselves with the movement of Natural wine") and are often dismayed by the reductive arguments on either extreme of the debate. Her conclusion -- that what matters is "if we’re trying to listen, and have a conversation" seems right on to me. Read more »
Categories: North America

Closed for Easter

Shaw + Smith - Balhannah, South Australia - Sat, 11/22/2014 - 22:03

Due to exciting renovations at the winery, the Shaw + Smith Tasting Room will be closed for the Easter period (Friday 18th - Monday 21st April inclusive).  We apologise for any inconvenience and wish everyone a fabulous Easter break.

Categories: Oceania

John Jordan Education Center ribbon cutting ceremony

Jordan Winery - Healdsburg, California - Sat, 11/22/2014 - 17:10
Community leaders, students and non-profit workers turned out on October 22 in Santa Rosa, Calif., for the grand opening of the John Jordan Education Center at Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County (CAP Sonoma County), John’s latest philanthropic effort to decrease income inequality in our community. The event began with speeches by leading officials in [...]
Categories: North America

O’Vineyards Ten Year Celebration

More O’ wines on Michelin Menu:

For almost a decade our Proprietor’s Reserve, Les Américains, Trah Lah Lah, and O’Syrah have been on  Michelin Stared Restaurants wine lists.

Chef Jérôme, Sommelier Baptiste and their team tasted our new wines and chose to add Stranger Stranger 2010, O’ Chasan 2013 and O’Happy & O’Happy à deux to Hotel de la Cité cellar!

A Sexy O’ Website:

Ryan’s successful website has been updated.  Helen & Aaron, a young couple of Entrepreneurs did a wonder! Working on top of Ryan’s great work, they’ve given the site a sexy makeover and bought our wonderful photos to the forefront. Along with our new online booking system, you’ll now find it easy to book a wine and dine experience or book a boutique B&B room to stay here at the vineyard.

New O’ Wedding Venue!

By popular demand, we are presently working with a young Chef on adding Wedding Venues ….

O'Vineyards Carcassonne Proprietors Reserve wineO'Vineyards wine Les AmericainsO'Vineyards wine Tra La LaO'Vineyards wine O'SyrahO'Vineyards Carcassonne wine tasting and lunch
Categories: Europe

Bonjour + Hola’s Fourth Annual Friendsgiving


Our Fourth Annual Friendsgiving preparations were all complete! And with the sun officially down, our team knew all 70 friends were soon to arrive for an evening filled of gobbling. Hola!


With K-J AVANT perfectly placed in a bucket, the lights dimmed and the music blasting, I knew this Friendsgiving would be one to never forget!


With one of the coolest of the cool Latin American restaurants in Fort Greene, being the go-to venue for our dinner this year, the stress was majorly low for this girl when it came to being in charge of all the cooking! Their team had everything pre-picked and created so the guests could focus on bringing their favorite desserts. It was so perfect!



When the guests began to arrive, we had homemade spinach artichoke dips and pita chips ready for them to devour on the bar and throughout the four long tables Friendsgivingly decorated. Not only did it make them thirsty for K-J AVANT, but it started our evening off to a gobbling start!



After we had a delicious cocktail hour of catching up, the guests went to their place setting spot I assigned. And as a side note, five couples were created after this dinner thanks to the planning of who I thought would hit it off! Hola.




The menu was scrumptious and the perfect amount for each guest to chat and enjoy!:

Sunchoke spinach dip with flour tortilla chips
Honey glazed grilled carrots
Brussels sprouts caesar salad
Suckling pig
Duck tacos
Deep-fried turkey
Sweet potato fries with chipotle sauce

It was such a beautiful evening! And all of the decor, from the wine to the setting, perfectly matched.


We even had a BYOD {dessert that is!} bar for all of the guests to place their dishes!


One of the most creative desserts was brought by Ashley Foxen of Reality Bites Cupcakes. I’ve never seen such creative cupcakes come out of one kitchen!


The Reality Bites Cupcake flavor of the night? That would be buttered mashed potatoes…um…yes, please!

If you’re hosting a Friendsgiving dinner this year, I hope this feature inspired you! But don’t forget to look at Bonjour + Hola for more details on the preparations. Happy Weekend!

The post Bonjour + Hola’s Fourth Annual Friendsgiving appeared first on Kendall-Jackson Blog.

Categories: North America

Worried about preserving an opened bottle? Just stay cool.

Tablas Creek Vineyard - Paso Robles CA - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 22:55

Over recent weeks, I've received several questions from people wondering how to best preserve a partial bottle of wine for future consumption.  Typically, they're wondering if they should invest in a system that replaces the air in the bottle with an inert gas, or in a vacuum system that removes the air from the bottle entirely.  They tend to be surprised when I suggest that they just cork the bottle up and put it in their fridge.

Wine in fridgeTo begin, it's helpful to know what is happening to a wine once a bottle is opened and air begins to have access to the liquid inside. With the introduction of oxygen to the wine's surface, a complex series of chemical reactions begins, typically first with oxygen combining with phenols (flavor components) to form hydrogen peroxide, and then with the hydrogen peroxide interacting with ethanol (the alcohol in wine) to form acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde has a cidery aroma and a curious, flat texture.  For examples of the flavors, look to intentionally oxidized wines like sherry and madeira: the taste that distinguishes these beverages from traditional wine is their the elevated level of acetaldehyde.

[If you'd like a more thorough explanation of oxidation's causes and effects, I highly recommend Jamie Goode's 2008 piece for Somm Journal: Wine Flaws: Oxidation.]

Many wines benefit from exposure to oxygen, within reason.  This is particularly true with young red wines, which receive a high level of reductive compounds from the skins of grapes.  Adding some oxygen to these wines, either by decanting a wine or just by letting it sit in a glass after having been poured, will often liberate flavor compounds that are at first tied up by the reductive elements.  But eventually, all those reductive compounds are combined with oxygen, and even a young red wine will begin to oxidize and show the acetaldyhde in sherried, flat flavors.  And older red wines, and most white wines, have much lower tolerances for oxygen before beginning to show symptoms.

How long after opening do you have before a wine becomes unpleasantly oxidized?  For the most delicate older wines, which have likely already absorbed significant levels of oxygen through the slow breathing of their corks over decades, it may only be a few hours.  Most younger wines will give you several hours safely, and some robust red wines will last happily for a few days.  But eventually, all of them will start to show oxidation's undesirable effects.

Key to knowing how to slow down these symptoms is recognizing that oxidation is a chemical reaction.  Like most chemical reactions, the rate of oxidation is temperature-dependent.  Combine oxygen and wine at 70° (think room temperature) and oxidation happens relatively quickly.  Put them together at 40° and you slow the process dramatically.  And this is why the most effective way of slowing the process of oxidation once a wine has been exposed to oxygen is to chill it down.  Yes, it's as simple as putting the reclosed bottle in the fridge.  When you're ready to drink it, the next day or later in the week, if it's a red or a richer white, just take it out 20 minutes or so before you want to pour it and let it warm up a bit.

Note that you're not buying an indefinite amount of time by chilling down an opened bottle; cooler temperatures slow down the chemical reactions but don't stop them.  But if you get a week of drinkability rather than a day, as has been my general experience, you've made real progress.

Will the various systems that exchange the air in a partly-empty bottle for an inert gas (typically argon or nitrogen) help?  If the gas is being inserted into the bottle as the wine is removed (as in a typical wine in keg system, or with the Coravin) absolutely.  But if, like most at-home wine preservation kits, the inert gas is applied only after the bottle is partly emptied, they likely only help at the margins.  You're most likely to get benefit from these sorts of systems if you pour the wine out fairly swiftly and then replace the air in the bottle with that inert gas.  But it's often not practical to do that when a bottle is being passed around a table over the course of a meal.  Each time the wine is poured, oxygen is absorbed by the wine as it is sloshed around the emptying bottle, and after several pours, there's enough oxygen dissolved in the wine that the process of oxidation will continue even if there's a layer of inert gas applied to the surface.

Similarly, the vacuum pumps that remove oxygen from a bottle don't eliminate the oxygen that has already dissolved in the wine, and they have the added complication that they do cause the wine to respire carbon dioxide, which is typically in solution in wine as a by-product of fermentation.  This CO2 provides acidity in the wine, and removing it can make a wine taste as flat as oxidation would have.

One great technique, if you know or suspect you'll only finish half a bottle, is to have an empty half-bottle available, which you fill and cork (or screwcap!) right when you open your original bottle.  Because that wine has had only minimal exposure to oxygen and can't absorb any more because of the bottle's seal, you can typically preserve it for a week or more safely.  But it does take some planning.  If you find yourself with a partial bottle at the end of a leisurely dinner, don't stress.  Just reclose the wine bottle, and stick it in the fridge.

Categories: North America

A Day for Everything

Ponte Winery - Temecula, CA - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 08:00

Photo credit

When I was young, there were certain days throughout the year that were special, that called for pomp and celebration and recognition.  My birthday, of course, plus all of the major holidays.  In 2014, there is something to potentially celebrate on every single day of the year.  Have you noticed?  National donut day is the first Friday of June.  Milk day is January 11th.  October 14th is Bald Appreciation Day.  Here’s my question…were all of these so-called “holidays” observed back in the 80’s and are we all just now aware of all of them because of social media?  If I’d known that national Banana Split Day was held each August 25th, it would have ranked right up there with Christmas to my 7-year old self.

Even today doesn’t escape us, although, I like today’s holiday.  Today is Beaujolais Nouveau Day.  Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine made from Gamay grapes produced in the Beaujolais region of France.  Each year, the newest vintage is released for sale on the third Thursday of November.  Back in the 1970’s a race took place on this day from Beaujolais to Paris in which the first bottles of the new vintage were carried.  The race gained in popularity and soon races of the sort were held in surrounding countries, followed by North America and finally in Asia in the 1990’s.  Today, many wine stores and distributors have the newest vintages of Beaujolais Nouveau available at 12:01 am on the third Thursday of November each year. No race required.

This red wine is unusual as it is bottled just 6-8 weeks after harvest.  Most red wines are still fermenting at that point in time, far from being ready to bottle.  This method ensures that the wine has very little tannin and is dominated by juicy, fruity flavors.  Many experts agree that the wine is ideal when served slightly chilled.  Sounds like our Beverino, no?  While people can certainly keep Beaujolais Nouveau  around for a few years, there’s really no reason to do so since it does not improve with age.  This is a wine intended to be drunk immediately.  Sounds like our philosophy, no?  All Ponte wines are released ready to drink immediately, although, many of our reds can age beautifully.

Because of the release date of this French red wine, it has become synonymous in America with Thanksgiving.  And why wouldn’t it?  After all, when it comes to the complicated and varied flavors of the holiday, we think it’s a great idea to serve a red wine that is not too bold and full of fruit flavors.  Ponte 2011 Tempranillo fits this bill perfectly.  With a medium body and tame tannins, it’s lighter than most of our other red wines and tastes of black cherries and plums.  Our 2012 Barbera is a touch heavier, but is still considered to have a medium-body, for those who want a little more oomph on your Thanksgiving table.

So, Happy Beaujolais Nouveau Day to you!  We hope your “holiday” is full of lots of chilled, medium-bodied Ponte wine.

–What’s your favorite non-holiday “holiday”?

–Erica Martinez

Categories: North America

Pirate Wines Are Better Than Natural Wines

Westwood Winery - Sonoma, CA - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 07:08

a tongue-in-cheek, slightly sexist artistic rendering of the pirate life
I’ve always liked pirates.

Not the plundering, raping, murdering barbarity of pirates. Not the horrible death in battle on the high seas or the ignominious death hanging at the end of a rope in port if captured.

No, what I’ve always liked about pirates is the idea of living outside the system, ignoring the rules, not caring or having to care what others think, being master of one’s fate — however dire and brief that fate may be — and embracing whatever comes.
I like wines that have engaging stories.

There is a lot of wine out there. Every drop of it has a story behind it — some of those stories are more engaging, more compelling to me than others. This was driven home for me, again, when recently Elaine Brown posted the latest in a long line of apologia for “natural” wines. Elaine’s well-crafted post did what I think may be the best job I have seen in defining the boundary conditions within which “natural” wines exist. It also reminded me that my indifference to some wines is largely due to their boring stories.
I’m bored with “natural” wine.

Elaine points out in her piece that the natural wine movement centers in Europe. Some growers there engage in jihad (a legitimate struggle for a principle or belief) against regulatory bureaucracies forcing them to commit what they consider to be environmental damage by requiring all growers to spray certain pesticides on their vineyards. That was, and is, interesting to me. It stopped being interesting when this jihadi movement spawned a mindset that confuses doing less in the cellar with environmental justice, particularly outside of Europe where there are no bureaucracies to struggle against.

To me, the choice of how much or how little to do with the grapes and wine in production is only interesting to the degree that those choices make demonstrably more satisfying wines. Refusing to use SO2 or other additives does not necessarily lead to a better product, therefore eschewing those practices — either out of ideological devotion to a flawed conception of environmental justice, or in a cynical play to sell more wine — is done in the name of crafting a particular narrative. That narrative, that story, obviously resonates with some consumers, critics, and media. But I don’t find it at all compelling.

It bothers me not at all that “natural” lacks a concrete, statutory definition when it comes to wine and other foods. I have no problem with the Potter Stewart-like approach to defining “natural” as “I know it when I see it.” What I do have a problem with is what I perceive as a smug arrogance in the presumption that “natural” practice — in the sense of avoiding additives for the sake of avoiding additives — in production yields wine that is dogmatically “better” than wine made with more thought and devotion to hedonic reward. I recognize that this is a personal failing, but I’m bored with that presumption of superiority, and I’m bored with the sameness of the stories it spawns.
All my friends are pirates.

Every winemaker I know and like has the soul of a pirate. So do I. We chart our own courses, mostly independent of trends or fashion. Not one of us describes ourselves as a maker of “natural” wines, though some or all of what we do might fit within the boundaries Elaine articulated so well in her post. We grow or buy grapes that are farmed sustainably, organically, biodynamically – the best damn grapes we can find and afford. When it comes to cellar practice we understand and respect tradition, but we thumb our noses at convention for its own sake. We take risks, try new things. We make wines we want to drink.

Like all pirates, we appear devil-may-care but actually practice a rigorous discipline because it’s necessary to stay alive. Every one of us is a commercial winemaker, because we have to be to stay in business (dilettantes can’t be pirates).

We all have some swash to our buckle, and we wink while we raise a middle finger to dogma and authority. We work really hard, and we play just as hard. We take no prisoners, and if we use some cultured yeast on one lot, some SO2 on another, a bit of new oak here, or a touch of Mega Purple there we don’t judge each other over it and we sure as hell don’t give a crap what the consumer or critic thinks about it. All we care about is if we are proud of the outcome and can find some buyers who like it as much as we do. And we tell way better and more diverse stories — stories of adventure, passion, and personality.
Pirate wines are the best wines.

I’m not the guy who wants to harsh anybody’s buzz. If you like box wines or what the “natural” devotees disparagingly call “industrial” wines, have at it. If you like your wines big-butted, flabby, over-ripe, over-extracted, over-sweet, over-oaked, and over-priced — it’s your money (and your hangover) and you’re entitled to enjoy it. If you like “natural” wines because you like how they taste, more power to you.

If you like your “natural” wines because you don’t really care how they taste so long as they meet some standard of ideological purity, self-righteousness, and simplicity — awesome, but kindly zip it when it comes to wines that don’t meet those standards (though by all means feel free to discuss and disparage other wines among like-minded cognoscenti).

But you should take it to heart when I say, trust me — the best wines with the most interesting stories are out there, and they are pirate wines, made by people with pirate souls. And they are more natural than wines that call themselves “natural”.

Categories: North America

Tomato Festival Waste Diversion Success

Tomato Festival Waste Diversion SuccessDid you know that according to the US EPA, about 164 million tons of municipal solid waste end up in landfills across the country each year?

Did you also know that food scraps and yard waste currently make up to about 20% to 30% of what we send off to the landfills? The thing about organic materials (food scraps and yard waste) is … they can be composted and turned into nutrient-rich material that is used to increase soil health in gardens and farms!

Tomato Festival Waste Diversion Success

Easy to read signage that shows patrons where to place their waste.

Landfill waste can be dramatically reduced by simple changes in how we shop for, use, and dispose of our goods. Reducing landfill waste by recycling and composting helps to create healthier land, air, water and quality of life. Organic matter that sits in landfills decomposes slowly, releasing methane — a greenhouse gas that can lead to many environmental issues. You can reduce your overall impact on the environment by making every day decisions that avoid the landfill. These decisions include: purchasing products with minimal packaging, purchasing items made with recycled materials, using reusable containers, recycling material goods and composting organic materials.

Tomato Festival Waste Diversion Success

A volunteer manning an EcoWaste Station, ready to guide patrons on where to place their waste.

This year, we aimed to have a zero-waste event in order to reduce the impact on our local landfills from our largest event in Sonoma County: The Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival. How did we do? We achieved a 97% waste diversion rate, which means that only 3% of everything used at this year’s Tomato Festival went into the landfill! This was an astounding accomplishment for us and exceeded our expectations, especially considering the number of event-goers the festival attracts each year and the fact that this was the first year we’ve set a waste diversion goal. It has given us great motivation to divert even more next year!

How did we do it?

We made changes in the little things that make the biggest collective impact. In a collaborative effort with our very talented culinary crew and hospitality teams, as well as some great guidance and execution from the waste diversion gurus at Green Mary Zero Waste Events, we:

  • purchased compostable plates and cutlery and recyclable soup cups
  • provided EcoWaste Stations throughout the entire event that separated recyclables (in the blue bins), compostables (in the green bins), and landfill waste (in the smaller black bins, it’s all about the optics!)
  • increased volunteerism and spent more time training them to guide patrons on where to put their waste
  • developed clear and easy to read signage for additional guidance

Reducing the impacts of large events like the Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival is a huge and achievable win. However, the impact of small changes in what you do daily can also be tremendous for the long term. What can you do at work and at home to reduce your impact?

-Sabrina Sihakom, Sustainability Coordinator

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The post Tomato Festival Waste Diversion Success appeared first on Kendall-Jackson Blog.

Categories: North America


Viñedos Emiliana - Chile - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 19:59

It is with deep sadness that we have to inform you of the death of José Guilisasti Gana, our general manager, who passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, November 19.

Viñedos Emiliana’s personnel, executives and management team share the sadness of his family and accompany them in these difficult moments, joining them in their prayers for the resting of his soul.

Those who had the privilege of knowing and working with him will always remember his extraordinary human warmth, his passions and dreams, notable being his approachability, charisma and outstanding abilities.

Viñedos Emiliana Team
November 20, 2014

Statement PDF

Categories: South America


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