Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Climber Sauvignon Blanc Clif Family Winery

My latest wine sample, The Climber Sauvignon Blanc, seemed fitting for my upcoming move to the mountains. While I may not be scaling mountain sides, there are plenty of trails through some steep terrain that will have me “climbing” to reach the top.  As I turn around and let momentum take over and  catch my breath, the thought of my reward will put a smile on my face. What is this reward you ask?  Opening my picnic basket and sneaking some tasty wine into a cup. It is the Bible Belt after all and there are rules against open container, heck some of the areas are still completely dry. Scary, but true!

Fresh, aromatic tropical fruit and citrus. First sip is slightly sweet with flavors of tangerine, as the wine hits mid palate, lime and a hint of pine take over with a nice tart finish. Pairs well with crawfish and pasta with Cajun spice.
Varietal: 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 13% Pinot Gris, 5% Riesling, 1% Pinot Meunier, 1% Muscat

Think the name Clif looks familiar; yep it’s the same family that makes CLIF BARS® and LUNA®. A passion for wine brought the family to Napa Valley where they raise horses, goats, chickens and grapes. Ok, so they don’t “raise” the grapes but they do nurture the vineyards on the property. Practicing CCOF certified organic and sustainable farming fits with the “granola” lifestyle they promote. Calling the property The Clif Family Farm, it serves as a reminder to slow down, breathe deeper and find a more relaxed pace of life. Sounds exactly like what I’m looking for.

I look forward to my move to Georgia as it will bring me a little closer to that “granola” lifestyle. Additional land will provide room to plant vegetables, orchards, raise goats and chickens. A slower more relaxed pace will slowly seep into my brain. Wow, I’m closer to the Clif family than I thought. Sorry to make this one so short but with just two days before the truck is loaded, those boxes aren’t going to pack themselves. Talk to Ya’ll from Georgia!

To donate to the America’s Disaster Relief Truck, currently helping Alabama tornado victims and Mississippi flood victims, click here.

2011© Kellie Stargaard.  All Rights Reserved.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

James Oatley Tik Tok Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Mudgee 2009

Tick tock, tick tock, can you hear it? My time in Florida, my home state, is quickly running out. Seems strange to think we’ll actually vacation in Florida now. What a strange concept…As I leave the heat, sunshine, palm trees and sand behind, I’m counting down to an area full of swimming holes, rivers to tube, Pumpkin Farms and even a Kangaroo Conservatory. It’s a bitter sweet passage of time. With not enough time to possible check off my bucket list, what’s a girl to do? Well, throw in the towel and drink great wine is all I can think of at the moment. That’s where my latest samples of James Oatley’s , Tik Tok come into play.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Ripe blackberry on the nose. Spicy black and red fruits in the forefront, subtle round tannins hit mid palate followed by a refreshing vanilla and cherry finish. It’s the type of wine you can bring to a BBQ (or your next Pig Pickin’) and know it won’t get lost in the food. Priced at $13.99
RS – 0.91 g/L
pH – 3.67
TA 6.33 G/L
Alc – 14.5%
Sauvignon Blanc Semillon
Light and tropical aromas, zesty citrus and pineapple flavors with hint of grassy herb. The Semillon adds complexity, the wine finishes with a nice clean acidity. Would pair well with those summer cook out side dishes. Priced at $13.99
RS – 3.39 g/L
pH – 3.33
TA 7.13 G/L
Alc – 12.5%
For more info on James Oatley and TIK TOK wines, click here. I have plenty more of the James Oatley wines to cover, so stay tuned.

Today I made yet another trip to drop off items to Goodwill, to my local home improvement store for more boxes and to my bank for wire funds info. Wow, this is really becoming real now. At the urging of some relatives, I reached out to a former classmate that I wasn’t even close to. Seems the relatives know their relatives and yada, yada, yada. So I friended them on Facebook sincey they live in Northern GA. Even though we barely even know who the other is, she offered to drive my husband and myself around the area once we arrive. I was a little bowled over by the offer. I can’t imagine someone offering to do that here in Tampa.

When we visited the area a few months ago, people in the area boasted how they didn’t lock their doors at night. I thought are these people insane! Not only do they not lock their doors but now they’re telling complete strangers this. Good thing I’m not a mass murderer or anything. While I don’t think I’ll give up the security of locked doors, I am looking forward to a slower pace, beautiful scenery and a more relaxed and trusting lifestyle.

To donate to the America’s Disaster Relief Truck, currently helping Alabama tornado victims and Mississippi flood victims, click here.
2011© Kellie Stargaard.  All Rights Reserved.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Biltmore Reserve Pinot Noir Russian Valley 2009 and My Move to Georgia Mountains

With just 17 days left until my big move to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia, it still doesn’t feel real. The house has been under contract for four weeks and things are finally starting to move. The appraisal finally took place this week; roof inspection also took place for the buyers home owners insurance. So why is it, I still feel like it’s not real? Is it going to hit me while at the close or is it going to wait until I’m backing out of the driveway for the final time, watching the garage door close on what used to be my home? How will it feel to pass my local stores, restaurants and all the side streets to avoid the horrible traffic? While I don’t have any of those great Georgia wines (and there are many, trust me) to drink right now, I’ll focus on another Blue Ridge Winery, The Biltmore Estate. Biltmore Reserve Russian Valley Pinot Noir grapes obviously did not come from their North Carolina winery but it’s as close as I can get to my soon to be new home state.

Aromatic strawberry, raspberry and oak precede smooth and delicate flavors. The strawberry flavors carry over from aromas and really pack a punch. Linger vanilla finish makes this a delight to drink. While flavors are soft and supple, this wine can hold its own. Priced at $24.99, this may not be an everyday wine but certainly is worth the splurge. Lucky for me, I received as a sample.
Varietal – Pinot Noir
Origin – Russian River Valley, California
Case Production – 2,000 cases
pH – 3.66
TA – 0.58
RS – 0.3%
Alcohol – 14.5%
Aged  - Oak barrels for 14 months
Biltmore wines were originally produced using grapes grown on the estate grounds in North Carolina, as they grew in popularity; the winery began sourcing grapes from other regions of the country under the Biltmore Reserve label. Pinot Noir grapes thrive in the cool climate of California’s Russian River Valley. I’ve covered the Biltmore wines several times so for more info on this American “castle” winery, click here.

I know when most people hear or think about wines produced in the south, they automatically think of those thick and sweet Muscadine wines. I am here to tell you, there are some fantastic vineyards in the South with nary a Muscadine in site. There are of course those wineries that do grow Muscadine but in many cases, the vines are purely for decorative purposes and just something to welcome visitors as they approach the tasting room.  

While I may be getting a little sentimental over leaving my home state of Florida, I look forward to the adventures that are just around the corner in Georgia. The area we’re looking at has more than 8 wineries, rivers where tubing is the thing to do during summer months, swimming holes with waterfalls and deep water pools complete with natural rock “slides” into the cool, clear waters. Stay tuned, more great wines and some great adventures coming up soon.

To donate to the America’s Disaster Relief Truck, currently helping Alabama tornado victims and Mississippi flood victims, click here.

2011© Kellie Stargaard.  All Rights Reserved.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Zinfandels; Earth ZIN & Fire, Oak Ridge OZV and Ravenswood Old Hill

Remember when you were young and summer meant 10 weeks of no school, less supervision and freedom to do what you want. I miss those days, as adults why can’t we have an entire season to just play, relax and have fun. I’m reclaiming my summer holiday and declaring part of my holiday be spent drinking Zinfandel wines. I’m throwing around a few names for my summer; The Summer of Zin, Zins of Summer, A Zinful Summer… ok, I’ll keep working on it but below are a few fabulous Zinfandels I have had the pleasure of drinking.

Earth, ZIN & Fire Jessie’s Grove Winery, Lodi, CA
I loved this zin, nose was full of oaky, red and black fruits. Spicy cassis, vanilla and cinnamon and a long finish consisting of plum makes this a spectacular wine.
Joseph Spenker, Jessie’s father, arrived in Lodi searching for the land where the oak trees grew the tallest. He planted the vineyards in 1888 in the Lodi and Stockton area of California when wheat was the reigning crop. Jessie Spenker, being an 1800’s natural environmentalist, set aside a 32 acre parcel and refused to develop the land. The oak grove, ranch and winery now bare Jessie’s name and the ranch is preserved to look the way it did in the 1800’s. If you happen to be in the area, stop by with a picnic lunch and watch the horses graze on the land. Found at Total Wine for $14.99.

Oak Ridge Winery OZV (Old Zin Vines) Zinfandel Lodi 2008
Nose is full of smoky cocoa, smooth mouthfeel with oak and bing cherry. Sugars hit mid-palate and finish is full of cherry, chocolate and earth flavors.
Oak Ridge Winery was founded in 1934 as a winemaker co-op for local growers. In 2001 Rudy Maggio and partners Don and Rocky Reynolds, purchased the winery and began an 8 year restoration. The partners retained the 50,000 gallon redwood tank that serves as the tasting room while adding modern winemaking technology.
Recognized as the oldest operating winery in Lodi, the region was established as an official American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1996. Situated between the Sierra Nevada foothills and San Francisco Bay, the warm days and cool evenings create a Mediterranean like climate. These unique conditions offer enticing opportunities for new winemakers to set up “shop” while nurturing the environment. 95% Zinfandel, 5% Mixed Blacks. Another great Total Wine find for $10.99

Aromas consisting of black berry, black pepper, earth and mint. Silky smooth flavors of coffee, plum, vanilla and a hint of herb in the finish. Exceptional balance and complexity. Rhone like in style, this wine will age beautifully for years to come.
Old Hill Ranch was founded in 1851 by William McPherson Hill. Importing non-mission grape varieties from Peru, Hill and General Vallejo owned an extensive amount of Sonoma vineyards. In 1889, Hill sold most of his land keeping two parcels, one of which is now Old Hill Ranch.
Fast forward to 19814 when Otto and Anne Teller purchased the land which had not been tended to in decades. The original house had burned to the ground and the vineyards were overgrown with black berry and poison oak. It was suggested the vines be ripped up and replanted, this did not sit well with Otto who understood the value and intense flavors these old vines could provide. After restoring life into the old vines, the vineyard began selling it’s grapes to Ravenswood in 1983.
Today the vineyards are tended to by the Bucklin family. I had the pleasure of visiting Old Hill Ranch and tasting the wine amongst those old Zinfandel vines. I can tell you, there is no greater pleasure than sipping wine amongst the very vines in which it was produced.
Varietal – 76% Zinfandel, 24% Mixed Blacks. This is the only Ravenswood Single Vineyard wine I have seen and purchased at Total Wine for $49.

To donate to the America’s Disaster Relief Truck, currently helping Alabama tornado victims and Mississippi flood victims, click here.

2011© Kellie Stargaard.  All Rights Reserved.

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