May Featured Wine: Why Whine?

Robs Review

Why Wine Pinot Noir is a fantastic California Pinot Noir that is light in body and full of flavor.  There is candied cherry and strawberry on the nose.  The flavor on the palate is beautiful red fruit with nice oak spice and smooth tannins.  This wine pairs well with light fare and drinks well all by itself on a warm spring day.   

What to Eat it With

Why Whine?  I don’t know, but everyone does sometimes.  When it’s your time, whine with us!  

Why wine is a simple traditional California Pinot Noir with a really cool label.

We wanted to have our first private label be simple and recognizable yet stand out!  The label design is the feature that stands out.

California Pinot noir is one of the most popular and recognizable red wines in the country and it pairs well with so many different foods.  Its simplicity makes it so versatile.

Recently I made gourmet burgers for our Sunday lunch.  They were very simple, just organic grass fed beef rolled into balls and pressed flat onto a cast iron pan, seared to perfection!

On the side we had caramelized onions, sauted portobello’s, a roasted red pepper aioli, raw onion and tomato as well as 4 types of cheese.  It was a make your own gourmet burger and the Why Whine Pinot went perfectly.

The cheese included cheddar, muenster, gouda and Havarti slices.  The rolls I also made myself using pizza dough.  I tool a pound of pizza dough, cut it into 6 equal pieces, rolled into 6 balls and placed on the baking stones in the oven.  450 degrees for about 15 minutes.  They were perfectly soft but just slightly crunchy outside.

The sides included glazed baby carrots, baked sweet potato fries and green beans.  

Bon Apetit!

Glazed Carrots – mix just a table spoon of maple syrup in a bowl with olive oil and salt, then using a brush spread on the carrots.  Place in 400 degree oven for 20 – 30 minutes to bake.  

Baked Sweet Potato Fries – wash then cut up the sweet potatoes into strips, keep the skins on.  Place on baking sheets, only one layer with spaces between each potato.  Using the same basting mixture as the carrots, brush on the fries.  Place in 400 degrees oven for 30 mins or until they are cooked to your preference.

Green Beans – simply boil in salted water until starting to turn soft but still a little cruncy.  Remove from water, drain and dry.  10 minutes before serving, saute the green beans in olive oil, lemon and garlic then salt to taste and serve.

Grilled Shell Steak

For Amazing images of our meal, just check out our Instagram account- vinovinonline

There were nine of us this week.  We all learned a lot this week on Sunday after a quick google search, grilled steaks, and a trip to the hospital.  Firstly, one of the kids was inspired by a recent course on ancient Egypt and found out that any modern person can go out in the style of the Pharaohs of old by being mummified for a small fee of $67,000.  I’ll leave it to you and your financial advisor to determine if this move makes sense for your estate.  

Second, It was either Harrison Ford (The Fugitive) or Jim Carey (The Mask) that said: “It wasn’t me, it was the one-armed man!” Either way, another one of the kids perfected it- breaking his arm, doing a backflip, in the snow.  After much trial and tribulation, everyone is fine… well enough, in fact, to sneak seconds and thirds from a Tupperware full of cookies that had been set aside for Christmas.  In all the cookie-stealers’  defense, however, there were enough cookies to feed the French Army…  which depending who you ask, may or may not be a large number.   If there was a theme this week, it was something like “Don’t you open that Tupperware if you know what’s good for you!”  I think she meant it.  

I decided to prepare an Italian steakhouse meal, very simple and fulfilling.  I thought I made a huge quantity of food, but almost all of it was eaten.  That is always a good sign!

Today’s meal included grilled grass fed shell steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, peas, Brussel sprouts and a tomatoes salad.

Grilled Shell Steak:

Remove the steaks, place in a large bowl and salt both sides of the meat with kosher or sea salt.  Then do the same with oregano, but you can use any spice you desire (or none).  Let sit for 30 – 60 minutes while you prepare everything else.  10-15 minutes before you are ready to eat, put the steak on a preheated grill and cook on high heat for 10 – 15 mins.  Only turning the steak once, try to cook to medium rare, it’s the most flavorful.

Green Beans:

Boil the green beans in salted water until just barely crunchy, removed and drain water.  30 minutes before ready to eat, saute garlic and olive oil until color turns then place green beans in a pan and cook until just crunchy on the outside.  Use add’l salt as needed and squeeze a lemon over the beans just before serving.

Smashed Potatoes:

Very simple – boil potatoes in salted water with skin on until soft.  Remove water from pot and add a generous amount of butter, at least a stick.  Also add some coconut milk, not too much but a cup for every 3 pounds should work.  They use a hand masher and smash the potatoes to a rough mash with skins.  Salt to taste.  If you have leftovers you can cook the next morning in a cast iron pan until very crispy on each side, great with eggs!

Brussel Sprouts:

Cut the Brussel sprouts in half while heating a pan with garlic and oil.  When garlic is ready, saute sprouts until they get crispy.

“Midway through, add a small amount of finely diced turkey bacon.  When all contents are crispy, they are done.  Drizzle a small amount of balsamic vinegar over sprouts so it steams up and coats the sprouts.”  

Use a cast iron pan, they work the best for this.


Peas with Bacon: (my favorite)

Dice an onion, saute in a pan with olive oil and diced bacon.  You can use any kind you desire.  In Italy, it is always pork and could come from many parts of the animal.  In the US only bacon is readily available.  Once bacon begins to cook and just start to crisp, add the peas and butter.  Serve when all are hot.

Tomato Salad:

Heirloom tomatoes work best, but I could not find any so I used Campari.  Any tomatoes will work well, though.  Slice them in half then each half into thirds.  Place in large bowl.  Next thinly slice a red onion, make sure it is thin.  Add these to the bowl.  Douse with olive oil and vinegar.  Typical is red wine but balsamic works as well.  Add salt and oregano, mix well and move to a serving bowl.  


We drank an amazing pair of wines with this meal.  Both were Cabernet from California.  I know, they are not Italian, but Cabernet tastes incredible with grilled steak.  We had a Robin K Cab and a Cab from a producer named Laely.  The RobinK is very good and is very reasonably priced, but the Laely Napa Cab was simply amazing!  Decant the wine for at least 2 hours before drinking.  You should also taste it a few times from opening bottle until drinking with your meal so you can experience how the wine opens.  The wine truly made the meal and although pricey at $35 bottle, it is actually a great value since it reminds me of a much more expensive California Cabernet, in line with a Paul Hobbs/Stewart Cellars entry.  

We finished off the meal with an espresso, cappuccino and incredible cookies my wife made earlier that day.  The best are the thumbprint cookies filled with jam.

Summer Wine Special: Part 2

Rickshaw Pinot Noir

Parcels sourced from Sonoma Coast AVA with a bit of Mendocino as well. Open top fermentation. Some whole cluster. Aged in barrique, a small percentage of which is new. This is cool-climate Pinot with aromatics and structure.

This wine sings with unmistakable and pure Pinotosity! It has a compelling mix of raspberry, pomegranate and cherry notes combined with a stylishly integrated structure. All in all, pretty amazing Pinot Noir for its modest price.


San Giorgio Pinot Grigio

A straw-yellow wine with a characteristic nose reminiscent of acacia blossom. The flavor is dry and well-balanced. An excellent aperitif that can also be served with light hors d’oeuvres, consomm̩es and pasta, egg-based dishes, white meats and fish entr̩ee’s



Summer Wine Special

Three Amazing Wines, all with prices slashed.

Have you ever had a wine that you knew was “the one?” Something so good that you had to keep drinking it.  We have a lot of Sauvignon Blanc drinkers like that, and personally, I feel that way about Rickshaw Chardonnay.  Vernaccia is another phenomenal white from Italy that will definitely please anyone that loves a crisp refreshing white in the summertime. Reminiscent of Sauv Blanc, with fresh citrus notes, and refreshing acidity on the finish.


2014 Banshee Mordecai

2014 Banshee Mordecai

California Red Blend

2014 Banshee Mordecai
In 2014, California was a little dry, but the reduced fruit yields produced very intense fruit, which was great for this wine.  The 2014 blend consist dominantly of Cabernet, Syrah, and Zinfandel which gives Mordecai its hallmark full-bodied weight and density. With less fruit available overall, we the headliners did most of the work, but the wine is rounded out by adding bits of chocolatey Merlot, tarry Carignan and spicy Cabernet Franc and Cinsault.

The 2014 Mordecai blend is reminiscent of some of our favorite hot and dry wine regions in Europe. Think ripe red and blue fruited Cotes du Rhones with their scents of dried herbs and blackberry liqueur from wines grown on the black slates of the Priorat. But the wine remains distinctly California, taking us home with its comfortingly familiar wild summer berry plushness. Home is where the shade of the oak tree is just enough respite from the dry summer heat.

Paul Hobbs Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (2013)

Tasting Notes

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The wine is dark garnet in color with brooding aromas of blackberry and cassis. A juicy palate reveals complex layers of black fruits and baking spice with mineral traces of pencil lead and slate. Youthful acidity backed with chewy, brambly tannins creates a well-balanced long finish.  Rated 93 points.


About Paul Hobbs Winery

If you are looking for Paul Hobbs, you will most likely find him in a vineyard. Growing up on a working farm in upstate New York, Paul experienced first-hand the influence of terroir on the character of fruit, when his father had him taste apples of the same variety grown in different orchards several miles apart from one another. The diversity of flavors and textures made an impression on him and would later influence his approach to winemaking.

As a winemaker, Paul is highly regarded for his ability to identify exceptional vineyards, and for his pioneering spirit in working innovatively with new and historical sites and regions. His success has inspired a wealth of nicknames among the press, from quiet trendsetter to prospector to truffle-hunting dog. Hired by Robert Mondavi for his advanced understanding of oak aging, he went on to become winemaker for Opus One and Simi wineries, and then consultant to Peter Michael, Fisher, Lewis, Catena and others. He founded Paul Hobbs Winery in 1991.

Paul knows that the essence of profound wines can be traced back to meticulous care and expertise in the vineyard. Meticulous vineyard management followed by minimally‐invasive winemaking techniques is his approach to producing wines that express their vineyard origins with utmost finesse, complexity, and authenticity; in other words, wines with a sense of place. Fermented with native yeasts and aged in French oak, all are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

This stately cabernet sauvignon derives great depth from the diverse terroirs of its pedigreed vineyards, including Beckstoffer Dr. Crane, Beckstoffer Las Piedras and Stagecoach.

• Hand-harvested, picked at night
• Hand-sorted while still cold from the field
• Fermented in small, closed top, stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts
• 5-day cold soak, 29 days total maceration
• Gentle pumpovers and delestage
• Aged 20 months in French Oak barrels; 57% new
• Coopers: Taransaud, Darnajou, Marcel Cadet, Radoux, Baron, Boutes, Marques, Sylvain
• Spontaneous malolactic fermentation in barrels
• Varietal Composition: 97% cabernet sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot
• Unfined and unfiltered

St. Patricks Day Wine Pairings

With St. Patricks Day around the corner we wanted to give a run down on our picks for the top St. Patricks Day wines.  You can find some Corned Beef and Cabbage recipes in our blog as well.  

For white wine lovers, two similar varietals come to mind, Pinot Gris, in particular from Oregon, or a Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige, Italy.  For the red lovers out there, Pinot Noir, in particular from the Sonoma Coast will work well.

Pinot Gris is a fantastic medium to full-bodied wine, and although it originates from Alsace, France, you can find some great examples from Oregon, in particular, the Willamette Valley. This varietal has a nice weight to it, with good tree fruit, such as apple and pear that will match well with the fatty meat. Pinot Gris also has nice acidity and spice on the finish that will go well with cabbage. For right around $20 Cristom Estate Pinot Gris is an outstanding bottle of wine that will work well with this meal.

Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige in the northeast of Italy will work well with corn beef and cabbage for many of the same reasons that Pinot Gris does. Medium to full-bodied, with good fruit characteristics, and good acidity, it pairs perfectly with the stew-like method of cooking this dish. San Pietro Pinot Grigio is a great bottle for around $15, it is crisp with lighter fruit notes, good body and plenty of acidity. For those who like a slightly sweeter version, San Giorgio Pinot Grigio would work well, lots of apple and pear, with less acidity, for under $10.  

For the red wine lovers, Pinot Noir is the wine that you must go with to complement boiled corn beef and cabbage. I like Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast of California in particular. The light to medium body, cherry flavor, earth and spice that these wines exhibit will work perfectly with this meal.

Three Pinot Noir’s come to mind – The Pinot Project Pinot Noir for $13, Rickshaw Pinot Noir for $17 and Wind Gap Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir for $37. All three of these great wines showcase pure Pinosity that would work well with your St. Paddy’s day feast. It just depends on your budget.  

Other recommendations for those of us using a more festive Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe include an off-dry Riesling.  It’s full bodied, semi-sweet fruity, with minerality nice acidity.  I’d recommend Kung Fu Girl Riesling from the Columbia Valley of Washington State.

With the bolder flavors of a new age cooking style, you will need a bolder red wine to pair. Syrah, Red Zinfandel or even a Malbec will work well. All three wines share similar profiles of full body, bold fruit, and spice on the finish.  

Dos Minas Malbec from Cafayate, Argentina would be the perfect bottle for someone looking for a sweeter red. Notes of sweet ripe plum are complemented by a slight earthy tone and pepper, perfect to complement the herbs and garlic of this dish. For $13, it is hard to find a wine with this depth and complexity.  

For a Zinfandel, I recommend Teira Zinfandel from the Sonoma Coast of California. It may be the best I have ever had for under $17. The wine is a deep ruby red in color, with a lovely nose of ripe red fruit, spice and earth. The palate is filled with red raspberry and currant, followed with baking spice, a touch of citrus and herbal notes.  The finish is long and pleasant.  

Syrah is one of my personal favorite varietals, and I found a great one from Morocco by the name of Syrocco Syrah. I love the creative name and the juice in the bottle. This wine has an intense nose of exotic spice and fresh game, however with time, the aromas develop into a perfume of delicate floral & dark berries. Around a core of supple, but powerfully textured tannins, the wine flows through an array of complex flavors. From lavender to black currant, the profound and concentrated flavors drift seamlessly into a balanced, long finish, and all this for under $19.  

Coombsville, Up and Coming AVA in Napa Valley

It may be unusual for some readers to learn this, but for others, it may be common knowledge.  Napa is probably one of the only areas in the U.S. whose appellations are actually distinctive in terms of terroir.  Coombsville was recognized as an AVA (American Viticultural Area) in 2011.  The valley itself is a bit like a bowl shape, with terroir featuring rocky volcanic soil, little groundwater, and temperate weather in comparison with many other areas of Napa.

Why care about Coombsville? Look no further than the top wine in Paul Hobbs portfolio, a single-vineyard Cabernet that goes for $349.  The region is poised to produce some of the best Cabs in Napa, which is a bold statement.  The climate allows grapes to ripen later into the season and more slowly than other regions, holding acidity and balancing the fruit.   Keep an eye out on this region as the wines here will get more notice as time goes on.


2015 Southern California Vintage Preview

I added a blog post recently on the Northern California vintage for 2015, but a quick recap of that post (or you can read it here)- winemakers expect that it will still be a great vintage despite the droughts this summer, and that trend seems to hold true for Southern California as well.

Yields are down significantly this year, about only half of what they were in 2013.  The fruit produced this season has gone through considerable hardship, which for grapes just like the rest of nature means only the strong survive.  The grapes are smaller this year than years past, combined with the lower yield ensures maximal quality in each grape.

There is one cause for concern that veteran winemakers and growers are saying not to worry about- the vintage ripened very early this year, like several weeks earlier.  The veteran winemakers and growers again assure that this will not impact the quality.  There is speculation by some that early ripening can affect flavor development, although that should not be a concern. Overall the 2015 vintage should be expected to really highlight Southern California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Other pros are saying to keep an eye out and stock the cellar with 2015. Consumers can expect price fluctuations for the 2015 vintage, given that the supply is lower and the quality may prove to be very good.

We will keep you posted for more!