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|Jon, as a Yelp Community Manager has the “tough” job of connecting people with great local business establishments. Sunflower Caffe was one of the stops on our day long tour of wine, food and fun hot spots in Sonoma. And as Jon explains, at Sunflower, happy hour, means one full hour of wine to taste great wine at $5 a glass. On any given day, you’re likely to find a mix of locals, tourists, winemakers, artists and musicians hanging out at Sunflower. That’s a great “pairing” on any day.|
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ENVOLVE yourself with 'The BenFWine = BenFit!'
SAVE THE DATE! For a very special Benefit!
Ben Flajnik, Mike Benziger and Danny Fay from ENVOLVE Winery are going to be at Sunflower Caffe, Friday, March 16th - 5-7pm!
This event is open to the public so bring everyone you know! To help support a special cause. BECOMING INDEPENDENT is North Bay's largest nonprofit human services organization dedicated to people with developmental disabilities.
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First tasting of the new year!
Starting the New Year with a bang - this tasting we have a total attendance of seven. A combination of winery owners, vineyard owners, sommeliers, massive point garnering winemakers, tasting room personnel and budding aficionados
Eddie, one of the newbies, to the group that is, works the Westwood tasting room on the Sonoma Plaza and is pursuing becoming a Master Sommelier. He really brought it tonight. It was really interesting listening to Eddie give his reasons why he thought a wine had either age or type of oak or why he leaned towards a certain varietal or another. Tonight was tough though and most of the wines were not guessed, a great variety some eclectic varietals from around the world and some common popular varietals from our own backyard. The latter being the ones that stumped us the most!
…in no way thorough in my note taking, next time I'll do better, promise.
ok, digging right in…
nose: aged a bit, licorice, brown baking spices
in the mouth:dry, high alch.14.8, cranberry, raspberry , plum
we thought maybe: 2005 Cinsault, Sonoma County Cab 2008, young Bordeaux, New World Rhone, Rhone varietal due the pepperiness,
the verdict please: Arrowood 2001 Cab Sauv, - available a Wine Library for $34- man we were blown away - the SoCo Cab was closest but most everyone leaned towards a younger wine, 2001, crazy! This wine ages really well and I am stoked, I bought a Magnum of this exact wine at auction, its resting in my cellar now.
2. color: Ruby red
nose: I can't f*@^ing distinguish aromas! -
DISCLAIMER: ...this was a personal statement, not at all reflective of the rest of the distinguished panel. As a matter of fact let this be a disclaimer for the rest of the my blogs, any less than reputable comments or in general poor taste will most definitely be mine and mine alone. I am pretty much the only uneducated jackass in the bunch, I'm just smart enough to know who to hang out with...
in the mouth: green grassy, super tart, pomegranate, unsweetened cranberry juice, young
our Guess: Pinot 2008, 14.5, 2009 Spanish Grenache (garnacha)
ummm: I didnt make note of the brand…Bordeaux 2008, Lauguedoc $16 glen Ellen market - crap, at this point we start thinking new tasting group name, maybe, I dont know, Dead Pallate Tasting Group, seems appropriate. OK we'll blame it on hefty enjoyment over the holidays.
3. color: crimson (boring overused descriptor), visualy old world dirty
nose:super funky nose,
in the mouth: tart, dry , instead of mouthwatering mouth drying watermelon jolly rancher, bright firm acidity, molasses coffee, cherry, bitter finish, rich dark fruit, tomato beef stew, young unpleasant tannins, cherry cola & ginger star berry jam
guess: Hungarian oak (not soft like French or earthy like American) odd varietal, Chile 2008 or 2009 , Napa 07 Zin, pinotage, 09???, , mediocre Barolo , funky so 2004-5 , Pinot Noir esque, NZ Pinot .
Best guesser of the evening, Christian, he is the CEO of the new Moon Mountain Vineyards group (correct name?) was closest with "mediocre Barolo" - Christian was closest with all of the wines this evening.
4. color: deep dark red, the concentration of color makes one think…thick skinned grape (this tidbit came from Eddie)
nose: a hot young thing (back to me on this one)
in the mouth: sweet, no finish, prune, nice tannins, a bit of rs (residual sugar) because it's so fruity it takes away the possibility of older wine, French and American oak a bit of chicory flavor, nice glide in the mouth (due to sugar/glycerine), riper fruit so drink now,
guess: New World California Zin, Zin a bit older 2003,4 or 5, Central Coast Pinot, Cali Rhone blend, GSM Paso Robles 2007
itsa: Talty 2007 DCV Zin $38 at the winery
5. color: crimson, yadayadayada
nose: stinky funky nose in a good way ,nice tannins, earthy gamey leather, cigar box,really sexy nose , peppery , 2009 Chateaunuef du Pape, honeycomb cereal, a familiar savory comfort wine, hint of pertrol, loved the finish, not much new oak
guess:, old world rijoa, Bordeaux, 2001-3 RRV or Petaluma Gap Pinot, young Burgundy, "the Gaminess pepperiness made me think Syrah 2005 central coast" Old World French Pinot
one of the more delicious of the evening: 2007 Joseph Druhin Chorey-les-beaune Pinot $25 Whole Food Market.
6. color: rim variation "awesome f$#%ing food wine" this was actually not my comment, but it translates well, and, I agree
nose: licorice taffy nose
in the mouth: leathery, , sugary raisin, molasses, lingering tannins, weight on the pallets, a bit of oak. Italian tomato stewy thing, fresh, warmth 14.5, meat, cassis, leather, sweet, cherry blackberry pie, grilled meat blackberry with maple syrup nose, tobacco leaves, - new world structured wine
guess: Zin, New World 2006 or Italian, 1998 Nebbiolo , 06 Syrah North Coast, Ca 05 06 Syrah, New World Cab, 2003 GSM Paso Robles
interesting: Masi, Amorone 2001 originally $60 ish - classic from the region - I ended up with this wine for the evening, had it with Chicken in a spicy tomato broth, great match. Local winemaker Michael Scorsone spent time in Italy making Amorone, him out over at Adobe Road Winery.
7. color: very light straw color
nose: honeyesque, floral
in the mouth: slight pertrol, nice acidity, oily viscosity, it's ripe, honey peach vanilla
guess: Rhone white, Viognier Santa Barbara area 2007, Viognier, French Viognier, Rhone White blend, young Pinot Griogio or a New World Chenin Blanc, Italain PG 2009, blend of Chard Semillon Vig, Santa Barbara
ta da…Navarro Vineyards, Chenin Blanc, 2009, $13 at the winery
key take aways:
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|Monday tasting group|
Ok fellow wine lovers blind tasting #2 under wraps. A small but excellent group of individuals fighting the good fight carrying on and all that jazz. Greg Nemrow - from the Audelssa tasting room - Ryan Hays and myself. Four bottles in brown bags with corks pulled and we're off...
The feedback/guesses (pre bag removal) followed by the unbagging:
1 - Platnum Gold color with a nose of; sweet oak , butterscotch & hazelnut. On the palate, smooth, nice acidity, slight honey notes with hint of grapefruit. New World Chardonnay Vintage 2007-9 - Honestly a very well made wine!
it was : Cote Bonneville, Wa. 2009 Chardonnay $52
2- Ruby Red, big nose;cotton candy, cedar, molasses, Xmas holiday notes. Raisens, sweet, lt tanins, fig, BBQ sauce, Raisenettes meet Rasberry Jam, Old World Italian red wine.
unbagged - Coturri, Mendocino Ca. 2007 Primotivo $28
3- Garnet purple, Coco, Raspberry ( I never knew it was spelled this way, with the "p" that is), light French oak on the nose. Smooth light tanin on entry cherry and blueberry fruits with baking spices ripe but not over ripe fruit. New World, Sonoma Coast 2008 Pinot (Someone guessed a light DCV Cab! - I wont reveal the name perhaps we'll blame it on to much partying the night before)
revealed - Goldeneye, Anderson Valley 2007 Pinot Noir $55
4- Cranberry Red, aroma of Pastrami Smoke, Vicks Vapor Rub & Cranberries, on the palette; tannin prevalent but not overwhelming, a bit of clove, slight bitter finish, cannabis stem ( not a killer green bud flavor more like outdoor Sativa ) - Cab/Merlot blend another guess was SoCal coastal Syrah
unveiled - Macrostie, Carneros 2006 Merlot/Cab (96/4) $14 at Sonoma & Glen Ellen Market
That wraps up the first 2 tastings in the first year of getting together. Clearly some of us will benefit immensely from this group, myself first and foremost.
Cheers, see ya all in the New Year!
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Just when we thought we'd seen it all!Jordan Kivelstadt rocks the wine world with his newest company Free flow Wines. He created a system to deploy and dispense wine in kegs. Good for the environment, good for your wallet! When you think about it it makes perfect perfect sense, we started out, drinking wine outta barrels, right? We have been drinking beer outta kegs for ions, so why not wine? Jordan not only has his own brand Silvertap for the system but he's also attracted such renowned names as:
Ampelos, Alma Rosa, Au Bon Climat, Baileyana, Beringer, Boony Doon Vineyard, Chateau St. Jean, Copain, Crossbarn by Paul Hobbs, Francis Ford Coppola, Foppiano, Gunlach Bundschu, Hendry, King Estate, Lioco, Pali Wine Co., Palmina, Parducci, Paul Dolan, Pushback Winery, Qupe, Saintsbury, Santa Barbara, Sheldon, Simi, Skylark, Tallulah, Tangent, Trenza & Zocker. Thats one hell of a client list!
Jordans family has a beautiful vineyard in the Bennett Valley originally farmed by Phil Coturri, now taken care of by Bacchus Vineyard Management. In other words, always in good hands. As if not busy enough Jordan has 3 wine labels, Qualia, Dog Daze and Pavo.
Everything Jordan does is first class and this venture is no different, congratulations Jordan and thanks for making the world a better place and for lowering the cost of my next glass of wine!
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Monday night football
...well it was playing in the background but the focus was wine. Ah yes, wine, its creeping into our lives more and more. We can never get enough of a good thing and wine tasting on a Monday night is a very good thing.
I received an invite from my friend Ryan Hays of Kilter Wines, to join him and some other folks for a wine tasting group he was firing up. How could I refuse? Even better the first get together was to take place in the Audelssa tasting room, my first time there. Great looking space & super comfortable located in downtown Glen Ellen complete with a big ass TV and of course a wine bar. We were joined by 2 others this evening Sean Kircher from Orin Swift - you know they have that little label "the Prisoner" - and local winemaker Erich Bradley from Sojourn and Audelssa. Onto the good stuff the wine...
All bottles were brown bagged, not as in we were getting ready to roll down the street with some Thunderbird for for cheap high, but as in a blind tasting. Highly recommended for anyone to do, results are really interesting, its amazing how much a label can bias our opinions.
The premise for this tasting group is to keep our palates sharp & educate ourselves. By means of guessing things like; varietal, vintage (a rough range really), location (Paso Robles, Sonoma, France etc.)
- Trimbach 2008 Riesling Reserve from Alsace - The nose Petrol and a fruitiness that reminded me of Gewurz & Viognier. I didn't expect the flavor AT ALL I was expecting a fruity more viscous wine. This was super dry and citrusy, a bit like a Satsuma Orange that's currently in season. $19.99 at Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa.
- Saldo 2010 a red blend mostly Zinfandel - Not a huge jammy California fruit bomb, very young but well balanced with good acidity. Berry notes with rose petal and leather, what a combo! It will be interesting to see what this tastes like given some time. A nice daily drinker. $28
- Robert Craig 2009 Affinity Mostly Cab - Light oak, dark red fruits nice mouth-feel, hint of something green on the nose. A nice smooth Bordelaise style wine, not too bombastic. Like the Saldo it needs to lay down for awhile to really hit its stride. $52.98 on the Snobby Wine Club
- Tablas Creek 2005 Tannat - Nose; big prune like aromas, high alcohol, chocolate and mint (reminiscent of Junior Mints), the color is inky dark reminded me of Petite Sirah, this was the toughest one to guess the varietal of, in fact no one did. A big juicy mouthful, ripe tannins and a bit smoky. $40
- Chateau de Pibaron 2005 Bandol Rouge (mostly Mourvedre ) - A bit of the old world stinkiness on the nose is what I was thinking but more appropriately said: slight Brett on the nose smoky; notes of leather and dark fruit; unctuous texture with significant unresolved tanin on the finish. Hold until 2016. $48 bottle barn.
49ers will be the background music at next weeks tasting, until then can anyone help us give the Monday Night Wine Tasting Group a better name?
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|End of summer sipping some Pinot Gris!|
Chilling on the back patio at the Sunflower Caffe have a cold glass of Pinot Gris with my friend and local business owner Lorene Reed - apologies to Lorene I see that her name is spelled wrong in the video editing, sorry Lorene! Lorene is a sweetheart, shes owns a great local company called Planet Organics that we provide wine for. Everyone at her company is great, they are always smiling so they must be doing something right over there. Checkout her web site, order up some organic products and a great bottle or two of wine. Their team will deliver them straight to your home, what a deal - now if we could only get them to deliver for the local restaurants, come on Lorene please!!!
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6-8pm Complimentary splashes poured by this week's featured winery
Please join us at SUNFLOWER CAFFE GARDEN WINE BAR, SONOMA PLAZA @ 6pm for some of the best of the best wineries pouring their latest and greatest!
Sonoma Winemaker, Benjamin Flajnik from The Bachelorette - ABC's THE BACHELORETTE featured a Sonoma winery on the premier episode. WINEMAKER OF EVOLVE WINERY (Sonoma County), BENJAMIN FLAJNIK, featuring their latest wines! Celebrity event not to be missed!
EVOLVE WINERY was founded by two friends who have always had a passion for unique wines. After drinking numerous bottles of Sauvignon Blanc on their roof deck balcony in San Francisco (just the warm days), it occurred to them that they needed to start making their own wine. It was an easy decision for Benjamin Flajnik and MICHAEL BENZIGER to use only the finest fruit from sustainable, organic, and bio-dynamic growers, as it’s important to taste the vineyard’s “true” identity. It is Evolve’s personal philosophy to enjoy life with great food, friends and of course, wine.
Date: Thursday, August 25
Time: 6:00pm-8:00 pm
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SPOTLIGHT WINERY NIGHT! Every Thursday!
6-8pm Complimentary splashes poured by featured winery
Please join us at SUNFLOWER CAFFE GARDEN WINE BAR, SONOMA PLAZA @ 6pm for some of the best of the best wineries pouring their latest and greatest! Every Thursday! See you there!
Graff Family Vineyards
The grapes for these wines come from the vineyards on the Chalone Bench within the Chalone viticulture area in Monterey, California. The wines are produced by winemaker Dan Karlsen and include Pinot Blanc, Viognier, July Muscat, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Consensus (a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, and Viognier).
A portion of the profits from the sale of the following wines benefit the Richard H. Graff Scholarship Fund for wine, food and hospitality education.
Date: Thursday, August 18, 2011
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|Dan has a very Snobby selection of wines to choose from. This was a fun day, trying new wines I had never even heard of such as this one the Picpoul de Pinet. Picpoul actually means "lip stinger" which it is due to its high acidity. This is simply a great tasting, refreshing summer time wine, a fantastic alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. Certainly if you want to try something different than the usual supects grab a bottle of this to start your meal or as a patio pounder all by itself. This particular Picpoul de Pinet came from an import company called Return to Terroir owned by Raphael Knapp. Raphael is from France and has a great array of small producers he carefully selected. I had the pleasure of tasting through wines with Raphael on a different day than we shot this and we chose a couple of great reds from the Rhone area, a Cote du Rhone and a . So if you're feeling stuck in a rut tasting the same old varietals all of the time this is one you should seek out, you wont be disappointed I promise.|
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|Carol is the most awarded winemaker in the US and that title is well deserved. She makes some of the best Zins I have ever tasted!!! In this video Carol talks a bit about her philosophy on making wine. Check it out, and be sure to stop by this week for a taste of her Killer Zins.|
See ya here!
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Rielle Wines Winemaker and co owner, Gabriella Gazzano, her training was "hands on" she did all the jobs in the winery, from scrubbing the floors to punching down the fermenting tanks to preparing the final blends for bottling. She even repaired the presses.
Rielle Wines is named after ther youngest daughter. Both daughters have grown up in the wine industry. Cleaning tanks, running filters and pumps, stirring and topping barrels, doing lab work, sampling the vineyards, just like mom. It has definitely been a family affair.
Gabriella worked for Fritz Winery making Dry Creek Zinfandels, Russian River Chardonnays, and Sonoma County Sauvignon Blancs and Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignons.
After 4 years at Fritz she moved over to the Napa Valley and assisted in producing outstanding ultra premium cult status wines for both the Pahlmeyer and Jayson labels, including Napa Valley Merlot & Chardonnay. Four years later she was back in the Dry Creek Valley as Vice President, Director of Winemaking for Pezzi King Vineyards where she produced (at last count) 15 gold and 14 silver medal winning wines. These included Burgundian style Russian River Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, along with Dry Creek Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc.
Her dream has always been to start her own winery.
Gabriella's father emigrated from Italy to Northern California and brought a highly developed palate and knowledge of fine food and wine. Gabriella's childhood home revolved around the kitchen, her mother cooked all day preparing sauces, pastas, frittatas.... Her father imported parmesan cheese, olive oil, flour, Arborio rice, salami and prosciutto directly from Italy. Of course her family always enjoyed wine with their meals.
So come enjoy some fantastic local wines with a meal at the Sunflower this Thursday, see ya there!
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