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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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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

An introduction to Bauduc Sauternes 2011

Chateau Bauduc - Bordeaux, France - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 06:02

We are delighted to introduce you to our new, delicious sweet white wine from the world’s most famous sweet white wine appellation. It’s more than just a pudding wine, we feel, as it also goes really well with cheese – and foie gras, if that’s your thing.

Sauternes Bauduc - 070 - Version 3

Sauternes has to come from a designated region on the other side of the Garonne from us, so we worked with a fifth-generation grower there and bottled the wine at Bauduc earlier this year.

bxSauternes_2011_50cl2011 was a terrific vintage when the celebrated ’noble rot’ took hold, shrivelling the skins of the grapes and concentrating the natural sweetness of the juice. The grapes were hand picked in three separate sweeps from 2 hectares (5 acres) of low-yielding, 60 year-old Sémillon vines that are sandwiched between the vineyards of two prestigious chateaux.

The wine has already gone down well with chefs and sommeliers. You’ll find Bauduc Sauternes 2011 at Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant by the glass or in 50cl bottles with Rick’s signature Bauduc label, by the glass at all fifteen Hotels du Vin (again, a bespoke HdV Bauduc label) and in 50cl bottles at Gordon Ramsays’s three Michelin star restaurant.

The wine is available in slim 50cl bottles and standard 75cl bottles. Friends like the 50cl size as one of these smaller bottles will often suffice for a dinner party of six or eight. (Don’t blame us if you drink more than that. It’s moreish.)

The price is £13.50 per 50cl bottle and £19.50 per bottle.

Categories: Europe

Happy National Zinfandel Day

National Zinfandel Day

Yes Zinfandel, the great historical grape of California — like mothers, cheese and Chardonnay — finally has been honored with its own national day. About time. Many people don’t realize that, way back in the 1800s, before there was Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir grown in California, there was Zinfandel — and lots of it.

The grapes were planted everywhere from Southern California and Napa/Sonoma up to Mendocino, then eastward through the Sacramento Delta and Lodi, all the way into the steep slopes of the Sierra Foothills, where oceans of Zinfandel were produced to slake the palates of the thirsty 49er Gold Miners.

Actually, many of those Zinfandels probably contained percentages of other grapes, such as Carignane, Alicante Bouschet, Petite Sirah and Mataro (Mourvedre). The old Italian-American immigrants who planted these 19th century vineyards installed different grape varieties in order to ensure that, if one variety struggled in any given vintage, they would at least have other varieties that performed well. Besides, they didn’t care about varietally-labeled wine, the way we do today. California still has hundreds of acres of these old, inter-planted vineyards, although they are an endangered species due to modern development; the resulting wines are often called “field blends.”

Kendall-Jackson’s 2012 Vintner’s Reserve Zinfandel is a modern example of such a “field blend.” It’s 88% Zinfandel, with the remainder being Syrah, Petite Sirah, Carignane and Merlot. Although the Mendocino and Sonoma county vineyards it’s sourced from are not terribly old, our Winemaster, Randy Ullom, chose to include the other varieties to make his Zinfandel more interesting and complex. Since Zinfandel is not a wine that likes a great deal of oak (unlike some Cabernet Sauvignons), Randy aged the wine in only 18% new French and American oak barrels — just enough to give it hints of toast and smoke. When I reviewed the wine, last month, I found flavors of red currants, raspberry jam and pomegranates, in addition to the spiciness you expect from Zinfandel. In this case, it was Chinese 5-spice, with just a touch of smoky wood.

It’s a food wine: rich and satisfying by itself, but even better when called in to support classic pairings such as grilled sausages, braised brisket tacos, ribs, Cajun-spiced fish, cioppino or roast duck. If you like cheeses, try softer, ripe triple-creams and Bries. Even certain desserts will work: spice cake, gingerbread, carrot cake, or chocolate, especially with some orange mixed in.

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 Happy National Zinfandel Day appeared first on Kendall-Jackson Blog.

Categories: North America

Holiday Food & Wine Pairing Guide

Please enjoy our Holiday Food and Wine Pairing Guide this season and use it as a tool to entertain with your family and friends. Our Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs and cool-climate whites are acclaimed for being some of the most versatile food-friendly wines in the world. They enhance meals with their delicate aromas and flavors, refreshing acidity and elegant finishes. This natural collaboration was the inspiration that led to us expanding our Estate Tasting Room to include culinary options. We hope you plan a trip to the winery and join us for a Pairings Food and Wine Experience led by our Winery Chef and Winery Ambassadors very soon.

We also wanted to make it as easy as possible to order these wines for your table and purchase as gifts. You will find special savings on wine and shipping enclosed. Call 1-800-344-9463 to have a friendly Winery Ambassador assist with your order or visit us online.

View Guide

Happy Holidays!

Jim Bernau

Categories: North America

Enjoy Tamales and Support Oswaldo's Heart Transplant

In yesterday's Statesman Journal there is an article about our team member, Carmen's 13-year-old son and his journey towards getting a needed heart transplant. We hope this surgery is very successful and that her son, Oswaldo, is back playing "futbol" very soon.

Please join us for our Thanksgiving Weekend Open House and enjoy tamales made by our Winery Chef with proceeds benefiting the family.
Categories: North America

Seared Scallops, Shaved Fennel and Grapefruit

Seared Scallops, Shaved Fennel and Grapefruit Recipe #KJAVANT

Hi again! Kelsey Boyte here from Whether you’re flying solo or living with roommates or your spouse, cooking for one shouldn’t mean boxed spaghetti or eggs and toast. Spend ten extra minutes on this delicious seared scallops, shaved fennel and grapefruit recipe for a beautiful night to yourself or with friends and a glass of crisp K-J AVANT Sauvignon Blanc.

Seared Scallops, Shaved Fennel and Grapefruit Recipe #KJAVANTKendall-Jackson AVANT Sauvignon Blanc Seared Scallops, Shaved Fennel and Grapefruit Recipe #KJAVANT
Print Seared Scallops, Shaved Fennel, and Grapefruit Author: Kelsey Boyte Serves: 1-4   Recipe can be doubled, tripled, and quadrupled to serve a crowd. Ingredients

  • 3 large fresh sea scallops
  • 1 medium fennel bulb
  • 2 medium pink grapefruit
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Microgreens
  • Chives
  • Salt
  1. Remove fennel tops and shave bulb into thin slices on a microplane grater. Set aside and sprinkle with salt. Segment the grapefruit by carefully removing the peel and pith of the fruit with a sharp paring knife. Set the grapefruit on a cutting board and run your knife from top to bottom. When skin and pith is removed, cut out the fruit between the fibrous membrane. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat until melted. Pat the scallops with a paper towel to remove excess liquid. Place scallop flat side down in the pan and sear for 2 minutes. Flip and sear on the opposite side for another 2 minutes. While the scallops cook, use a spoon and drizzle bubbling butter/oil mixture over the top of the scallops as they cook.
  3. To serve, mix fennel and grapefruit together with a bit of olive oil, salt, and lemon juice. Top the salad with the scallops and then garnish with micro-greens, chives, and remaining lemon juice.
Seared Scallops, Shaved Fennel and Grapefruit Recipe #KJAVANT

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Categories: North America

Pick your own and other November news

Chateau Bauduc - Bordeaux, France - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:46

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Categories: Europe

Thank you for another success at the ¡Salud! Barrel Auction

Jim and I were privileged to attend the ¡Salud! Dinner and Auction Gala at the Allison Inn on Saturday night. ¡Salud!'s mission is straightforward- "We work to provide access to healthcare services for Oregon's seasonal vineyard workers and their families." This event brings out wine lovers, winery owners and industry leaders who donate wine and exciting experiences. Then, they turn around and bid on them along with everyone else! 
Jim was humbled and uncharacteristically tongue-tied when awarded the Los Heroes de ¡Salud! Award. The award recognizes significant contributions to ¡Salud!'s efforts. At last year's auction, ¡Salud's Managing Nurse, Leda Garside, and our winemaker, Don Crank, presented a check from WVV and then made an appeal to the audience that raised an additional $142,000 from Oregon wineries and wine enthusiasts. The money was used to fund a Mobile Wellness Unit that can travel into the vineyards and provide on-site care. 
This October, the mobile unit made its maiden voyage to the winery. Jim and I joined our crews in getting our flu shots for this year. Leda (pictured on right) did the honors and then gave us a complete tour of the substantial van complete with an examination room.
The ¡Salud! Auction reminded us once again about how proud we all are to be a part of the Oregon wine community, which you help support. 

To your health,
Jan Green and the winery staff
Categories: North America

2014 Vintage Update: Pétanque & Rosé

Best's Wines - Victoria - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 21:42

Dear fans of Best’s or just those who are curious,

We are now over the hump of grape intake with only a few vineyards of Shiraz and Cabernet waiting to be picked. The weather has been kind to us, with cooler weather slowing down ripening, but the cooler nights have made sure we are hanging on to the acidity. This type of weather during ripening is what some like to call hang-time. No, we are not hanging out playing pétanque and sipping rosé, but we are allowing the grapes to hang on the vine to allow the flavours to fully develop without having to rush to get them all into the winery.

Having a bit more time in the winery has meant that we are able to give a bit more attention to our ferments and give them all the care and attention they deserve. We are also well into our barrel program with those lovely smells of warm wine going into warm barrels. We try to keep them warm to ensure the rapid onset of malolactic fermentation before winter hits.

The past week we have received the bulk of grapes for our Bin 1 Shiraz. We are seeing lots of jube like flavours and lip smacking spice, this bodes well for an aromatic Bin 1. Our team has been very busy with punch-downs, pump-overs, yeast inoculations, ferment rounds, temperature control, digging out ferments, basket and bag pressing and washing and filling barrels.

We have had less challenges with break downs, but tasting lots of ferments to determine tannins and flavour balance has had a side effect of producing lots of flatulence, much to bemusement of my colleagues.

Got to go now, it's my turn on the pétanque piste…



Categories: Oceania

2013 Spring Release Wine Club Dinner

Best's Wines - Victoria - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 21:42

On Tuesday 15 October 2013, our Victorian Concongella Wine Club members met at Pope Joan in Melbourne to celebrate our 2013 Spring Release wines - 2013 Riesling, 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2012 Bin 1 Shiraz. We enjoyed a beautiful menu paired to the three new wines by reknowned chef Matt Wilkinson who is a big supporter of local produce, much like ourselves. Thank you to all those who attended the evening and we look forward to seeing you at the next Wine Club event!




Categories: Oceania

Week 6 Vintage Blog: Done & dusted, and in need of a glass of wine!

Best's Wines - Victoria - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 21:42

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We all took a breath on Monday as we saw the last grapes of the 2013 vintage go through the crusher and destemmer. We have now received the last lots of Shiraz and all the Cabernet Sauvignon, hurray! These are presently ticking away nicely in their fermenters and are due to be pressed off skins this weekend. It seems like it's all over so quickly, yet if you look at the pile of work notes, as well as all the full tanks and barrels we currently have, we actually got through a mountain of work over the past few weeks. A great job done by all the team.

Looking through the wines in barrel, some of which have even finished malolactic fermentation, the quality is extremely high. I won’t say, as some other producers have said, that it is the best vintage of the past 20 years, but it will definitely be a good one for Best’s especially for our Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.

We look like we may have a very rare calm Easter period. There are some reds to press off skins and a few Riesling ferments to monitor, and of course the constant juggle between tanks, barrels and vats, but we are well over the hump. We have already started barrel selecting and classifying our 2012 Shiraz and Cabernets in preparation for blending and bottling mid-year. These wines are looking very good and should provide some interesting final blends.

So, another vintage in the bag and one to reflect on for many years to come. Thanks for reading my blogs each week and following our progress over the past few months. We can't wait for you to try the wines and hear your feedback once they're released.

Over and out for another year!

Justin & crew 

Categories: Oceania


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