July 2007 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 260
Rejected: 240 Approved: 20 Selected: 8
"Never drink anything without first smelling it; never sign anything without first reading it. Never dive into pools of depth unknown, and rarely drink if you are alone."
–17TH CENTURY PHILOSOPHY
Cabernet Franc is an ancient French grape varietal linked as a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. At Ironstone, they bring out the true fruit and character of the grape with ripe fruit and balanced tannins.
2005, Pebejae, Viognier,
From the south of France
we are brought this wine with a gentle reminder to remember the past but relish the future. The Burkhart's want us to know that wine and life are treasures never to be taken for granted.
2004, Crescendo, Virtuoso,
Napa Valley, California
This wine is like music to our ears and palates. A blend made with quality but the price will help us save for front row opera seats.
2005 Ledgewood Creek,
Viognier. Suisoon Valley,
Although Sauvignon Blanc is made in a range of styles, they all have a common thread of crisp, mouth¬watering acidity. This wine is no exception with quaffable fruit flavors as well.
Ironstone Winery thinks big. They not only succeed in making extraordinary wine but have a hospitality center with a multitude of activities on 75,000 square feet which is seven stories high. The grounds have a natural spring lake, scenic picnic areas and a gorgeous amphitheater for their annual summer concert series. The tasting room has an antique tasting bar and a 42-foot rock fireplace, a culinary kitchen, a conference center, a historical mining museum and a jewelry shop that holds the world's largest crystalline gold leaf specimen on display. Forty-two feet below ground are 10,000 feet of hand- blasted caverns for entertaining and a natural cool storage space for aging the Ironstone wines. If you think that is impressive, they also make outstanding wine. John Kautz Farms was founded in 1948. The family was very
successful growing crops and grapes and in 1990, established Ironstone Winery. The inaugural release was in 1992. The Kautz family has over 5,000 acres of vineyards in Lodi and the Sierra Nevada Foothills in California. The elevation in the foothills ranges from 2,300 to 2,600 feet above sea level and has ideal warm days and cool nights which are perfect for growing grapes.
The vineyards at Ironstone are state-of-the-art. They utilize integrated pest management, soil fertility bio farming to preserve the soils. All this leads to one thing; making great wine. The Ironstone Cabernet Franc is a deep red color. It has an inviting nose of blackberries, nutmeg, earth and smoke. The palate is medium-bodied, dry with soft tannins, some sweet spice and a lingering finish. Perfect with such dishes as beef or lasagna.
Dark red cherry
Dry, soft tannins,
sweet spice, fruity
Languedoc is the "wild west" of French wine. It is a large region in the south of France and the variety and diversity of winemaking here is unsurpassed. There are fewer regulations which mean that winemakers can take chances, try new things, and go out on a limb without breaking any old time traditions as in other regions. Pebejae Viognier is made with a traditional grape and with old world respect, yet boasts a new, fresh and fruity style. The Languedoc is one of the warmest regions in France. The wines are generally loaded with ripe fruit and healthy acid levels.
With pictures of hilly farmlands, grazing sheep and a Chateau in the distance dance in our heads when we think of France; the Burkhart family has made it their dream come true. After working many years for others in the wine industry, Philip and Karen Burkhart chose to launch a wine that fuses old world style with
new world passion. Pebejae (peb-ah-jay) is named after their three children, Paige, Berlin, and Joey. Their focus with the name and the wine is to fuse old and new with the final result being a wine with its own individual personality. The Burkhart's believe the largest segment of the overall wine market is developing into everyday wine consumers. They want to make wines for this group; wines with distinction and merit. Pebejae is a reminder of the reward for keeping old world skills alive while integrating new world voices. The Pebejae Viognier pours a brilliant yellow color. The nose is delicate but loaded with fresh fruit smells of apricot, peach and tangerine. The palate is full-bodied, creamy, with refreshing acidity and flavors of apricot and peach. It has a soft fruity finish. The Pebejae Viognier goes great with summery seafood dishes and will also go great with pasta primavera and our recipe for chicken Scaloppini on page 13.
Delicate, fresh, fruity,
apricot, peach, tan
Soft fruity finish
Limited Series Selection
Here is an interesting story about Napa Valley which few people know. In the early 1900's, Napa's Main Street rivaled that of many larger cities. There were saloons and gambling houses. There was also a high cultural society. There was a library and reading room, an agricultural society and an opera house, which in turn became one of the first "tasting rooms" in Napa. In January of 1920, Prohibition began. Even though the sales of alcohol were illegal, drinks were still available at "speakeasies" and other underground establishments. A few farmers were allowed to make wine for sacraments. Grapes were available at a high price. As the story goes, a speakeasy was opened in the basement of the Napa Valley Opera house. The unofficial name of this operation was Crescendo, named after the singing technique of opera singer Gioacchino Rossini. Crescendo was one of the few speakeasies in Napa Valley and was known for serving only wines from underground wineries located down the road which would later become the "Oak Knoll" area. More than a watering hole, it was a
gathering place to maintain community, tradition and keep spirits up. In 1930, after ten years of operation, Crescendo was raided by Federal Agents and records were purged. Many consider this a historic site and it is known today as Napa Valley's first tasting room. Crescendo wines wish to represent the rich history of Napa Valley and the opera house that kept spirits and wine flowing during Prohibition.
Crescendo Virtuoso is a blend of grapes which build upon each other to create an entire experience, a symphony of flavors much like a classical piece of music. Tim Callahan is the very experienced winemaker. His passion and enthusiasm show up in every wine he makes.
This wine has a deep ruby color. The nose is complex with dark fruit smells of black cherry, plum, currants and spice. The palate is dry, full-bodied and a wonderful mix of fruit, spice, oak, integrated tannins and a long silky finish. This wine is a great pairing with roasted prime rib with horseradish, beef stew, grilled portabello mushrooms with polenta, and sharp cheeses.
Black cherry, plum,
touch of oak, spice,
soft and round
Limited Selection Series
Ledgewood Creek Winery and Vineyards are located in Solano County's small region known as Suisun Valley. The region in the North Coast Appellation is one valley southeast of Napa Valley. Ledgewood Creek has 400 acres of vineyards nestled in a beautiful valley amid rolling hills. Just an hour northeast of San Francisco, the Suisun Valley escapes the Bay Area's lingering summertime fog. The vineyards enjoy a unique blend of daytime sun and cool afternoon breezes from the nearby San Pablo and Grizzly Bays. This combination of moderate temperatures, cool nights and rich soils provide the ideal climate for growing their premium wine grapes. Besides growing grapes, Ledgewood has over a mile of red roses lining Abernathy Road at the east end of the vineyards.
The winery dates back to 1985 when Dean and Bunny Frisbie bought what was then a pear orchard. By 1989,
grapes replaced pears and the winery was in full gear. There first release was in 2002. All of the vineyards are family-owned and operated. The Frisbies' philosophy has always been, "if it is broken, fix it... and if it is not, how can we improve upon it?" Consulting winemaker, Larry Langbehn, works his magic throughout the harvest and winemaking process. Larry determines which grapes are best for each label and blend. He selects new and seasoned barrels and decides which grapes will go where. He uses all the elements offered to him from the vineyard and the winery to blend and produce these perfectly balanced wines. This Viognier has a soft yellow color. The nose is inviting with honeysuckle, apricot, lilac and peach. The palate is full-bodied with a touch of mineral, peach and moderate acidity which leads to a soft and warm finish. This wine pairs well with Asian cuisine, light curry and cream dishes.
Soft pale yellow
apricot, lilac, peach
Soft warm finish