Friday, October 28, 2011

Michael David Winery Sixth Sense™ Syrah and Incognito Red Wine Blend

“When witches go riding, and black cats are seen. The moon laughs and whispers, ‘tis near Halloween”. - 19th century postcard. I love Halloween and why should the kiddies have all the fun. We adults deserve to indulge in the fright and frolic of the day too. It’s the one day of the year (or month if you’re like me) when you can be delight in some devilish fun. Black cats, spooky tombstones, scary ghost stories, witches and goblins Whatever your reason to celebrate, I have the perfect Halloween wines raise your spirits; Michael David Winery Sixth Sense™ Syrah and Incognito red wine blend. As the witching hour approaches, these potions will leave you thinking about celebrating Halloween every day.

Sixth Sense™ 2009 Syrah

The ruby red color conjures images of a moonless night. Aromas of black cherry and blueberry lure you in for the first sip. Black pepper, plum and vanilla seduce the palate. Fruit forward and a frightfully long finish make this wine a delight to drink with ghosts and ghouls. If you don’t have any of those lying around, this wine is divine any day of the year.
Varietal – Syrah with Petite Sirah blended in
TA – 0.62
pH – 3.52
Alc – 15.5%
SRP - $16

Incognito 2009 Red Wine Blend

Dark plum colors drip down the sides of the glass, slurp, oops almost let that little drip get away. Bouquet bursts through with cherry and vanilla. Black cherry and velvety tannins wash over the palate, tantalizing the senses. Creamy hazelnut finish, makes this the perfect wine sink your fangs into while handing out candy.

Varietal – 40% Syrah, 25% Cinsault, 11% Carignan, 11% Mourvedre, 9% Petite Sirah, 2% Grenache, 2% Tannat
TA – 0.58
pH – 3.56
Alc – 14.5%
SRP - $18

Andrew Harshner and his wife Lucille established their farm on 160 acres outside of Lodi, CA in the 1860’s. The next generation growers may have been wiped out when Prohibition began but for the Phillips family and others, it was a blessing. When Prohibition took effect, many grape growers ripped up their vineyards to plant more profitable crops. While others, took advantage of a loop hole, shipping grapes to households with instructions on “how not to have the grapes turn into wine”.  The Phillips family was one of those turned the situation to their advantage. Now run by brothers Michael Phillips and David Phillips, the winery is a thriving family business.

I watch the leaves float down from the trees and skate across my driveway, and I think, great, time to sweep the driveway again. But for now, I’ll just relax and enjoy some of my potions, err I mean wine.

If you would like to send samples for my review, please contact me at

2011© Kellie Stargaard.  All Rights Reserved.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2009

It’s that time of year again, have you made the trip to your local pumpkin patch yet? Pumpkins of all sizes and colors are dotting the side of the road and parking lots. When you finally pick that perfect pumpkin, bring it home and ready to carve, wouldn’t a glass of wine make this tradition a bit more fun? I have the perfect wine, Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2009. If you scour retail stores, you may be able to find a free pumpkin carving stencil of the ominous Ravenswood logo. Spooky pumpkins, a glass of witches brew, err, I mean wine and a chill in the air, signify the approach of that frightful holiday, Halloween.

Rich blackberry and blueberry aromas. Those same bold fruits carry over to the flavor. Well structured tannins and a haunting finish, I find nothing frightful about this wine. And at just $10 a bottle, your wallet won’t go into shock either.

Appellation – California
Aged – 14 months in French Oak, 25% new
TA – 6.1 g/L
pH – 3.67
Alcohol – 13.5%
SRP - $9.99

Ravenswood is one of my go to wines.  It’s one of those wineries that offer consistent quality and I have a special connection to the winery. Last October I, along with a handful of other journalist, were chosen to be inducted into The Order of the Raven by none other than head Raven, Joel Peterson. My time in Sonoma was spectacular and something I’ll never forget. I  was given the rare opportunity to drink wine in the very vineyards the grapes were grown, dine with the growers in their homes and see Sonoma from a birds eye view via helicopter.

Wondering where the name Ravenswood came from? During the first harvest, Joel arrived at Dry Creek Vineyards to pick up his truck and the freshly harvested old vine Zinfandel grapes. Upon arrival he found the truck had not been loaded but instead the boxes of grapes had been left through out the four acre vineyard. As Joel struggled to gather all the boxes, a thunderstorm emerged in the distance. The race was on now to gather all the grapes and get them to the truck before the storm hit. During this time, two ravens perched themselves in the vineyard and watched the activity, all the while seeming to mock Joel and his efforts. I’m sure they were waiting for their turn at those tasty grapes. It was that night once all the grapes were loaded and in the crushing process, Joel decided to name his winery Ravenswood. The logo is now synonymous with hard work, quality and great tasting wines, even when the logo has kangaroos instead of ravens, but that’s for another blog.

As the leaves continue to fall and crunch beneath my feet, I revel in all those glorious colors that continue to spring forth. The recent rains have caused some leaves to drop completely but it just adds to my first true fall experience. Although I must say, with temps in the 30’s and 40’s it’s feeling more like winter than early fall.

If you would like to send samples for my review, please contact me at

2011© Kellie Stargaard.  All Rights Reserved.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cline Cellars Cashmere 2009

Wow, I can’t believe we’re in October already; it’s my favorite time of year. This is my first real experience with the changing seasons, in Florida we have palm trees and the only time they change is during hurricanes. Then the fronds are all blowing in one direction or have blown off altogether. Mother Nature is right on cue, leaves are changing, temps are dipping, winds picking up sending leaves dancing across the roads and pumpkin and fall displays are dotting the rural roads to my home.

Another indication we’re in the month of October, all those pink ribbons. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I thought what better way to support the cause than with the purchase of Cline Cellars Cashmere 2009, a Rhone style varietal blend. Cline Cellars supports Living Beyond Breast Cancer and has contributed more than $200,000 to breast cancer foundations. The Cline Cashmere serves as a symbol of this ongoing support.

Aromas hint at something wonderful, spicy and woodsy. Loads of currant and raspberry wash over the palate. The wine is medium sweet but not jammy. Body is a little on the light side and I think I would have preferred something more full bodied on this fall evening. The finish was a little disappointing as it was extremely short lived. I envisioned myself wrapped in its silky soft liquid but found it to be a little rough around the edges. May have just been an off night for my palate.

Varietal – 50% Mourvèdre, 33% Grenache, 17% Syrah
TA - .62g/100ml
pH – 3.84
Residual Sugar - .30%

Family run by Fred and Nancy Cline, the winery is located on 350 acres in Sonoma County and is one of the first wineries on the Sonoma “wine road”. Originally located in Oakley, Fred’s maternal grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi, yes of the spa Jacuzzi fame, farmed orchards and vineyards. On summer visits, Cline learned how to turn those plump ripe grapes into wine. After studying Agriculture Management from UC Davis, Cline founded Cline Cellars near Oakley. In the early 90’s, Cline and his wife relocated to its present location in the Careneros region of Sonoma County and as they say, the rest is history.

Cashmere is a Rhone style blend of Mourvèdre, sourced from 30-year-old vines planted in sandy soil, dry farmed and head-pruned to develop flavorful fruit. Grenache vineyards in Oakley involve cluster thinning and leaf pulling, increasing fruit concentration. Syrah grapes come from Oakley, and have warm days and cool nights resulting in lush fruit flavors.

With the changing season, my husband and I took a drive to Blairsville to take in the local scenery in the mountain town. When we moved to NE Georgia just two months ago, I didn’t know what to do with the hilly roads. Having moved from the flat lands of Florida, going up and down and around was something I had to get used to. While looking at houses, our speed racer realtor, Kathryn, used the term, “hold onto your skivvies”. I then coined my own term for some of the roads leading up to and through the Chattahoochee National Forest, “turn your britches brown roads”. Well, good thing I wasn’t the one driving to Blairsville, because there were a few twists and turns where I just had to close my eyes and my husband leaned over and asked, “are your britches brown yet?” I replied, “not yet, but close!”

If you would like to send samples for my review, please contact me at
2011© Kellie Stargaard.  All Rights Reserved.

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