Wine Review – 2007 Charles Joguet “Cuvee Terroir” Chinon, Loire Valley, France

Winery: Charles JoguetJoguetChinon

Bottling: 2007 Cuvee Terroir

Importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants

Region: France

Sub-Region: Loire Valley, Chinon

Estimated Retail Price: $18

Purchase Details: Purchased from Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants in Berkeley, California for approximately $17.

Tasting Notes: In the glass, such a beautiful pure color of red and blue hues.  On the nose, wonderful perfumed and sweet aromas of berries, lavendar and spice.  In the mouth, you immediately sense how lively and refreshing the acidity of the wine is, as the fruit flavors seem to come alive.  I taste red and blue fruits like blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and cherries.  The wine is medium-bodied and has just enough tannins to keep the stuffing in place, and they’re also soft enough so one can enjoy this bottling early in its life.

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Wine Review – 2007 Costa di Bussia Dolcetto D’Alba, Piemonte, Italy

Winery: Costa di Bussiacostadibussiadolcettodalba

Bottling: 2007 Dolcetto D’Alba

Importer: Siena Imports

Region: Italy

Sub-Region: Piemonte

Estimated Retail Price: $12

Purchase Details: Purchased for $24 on a restaurant wine menu at Pizetta 211 in the Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco, California.

Tasting Notes: In the glass, saturated red and purple hues.  On the nose, aromas of sweet oak, spice and red and blue fruits.  In the mouth, loads of cherries, plums and sweet spice.  There’s also a strong “grapey” quality to the wine.  Fine and velvety tannins, a medium body and palate-cleansing acidity on the finish make this a real joy and wonderful quaffer of a wine.

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Wine Review – 2006 Vineyard 29 “Cru” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California

Winery: Vineyard 29Vineyard 29 Cru

Bottling: 2006 “Cru” Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: California

Sub-Region: Napa Valley

Estimated Retail Price: $50 – $60

Purchase Details: Purchased for $51.99 plus tax at K&L Wine Merchants in San Francisco, California.

Tasting Notes: A beautiful dark, pure garnet with some blue hues.  On the nose, sweet pencil lead, cherries, berries and herb.  In the mouth, this wine is unbelievably lush, dense chewy and concentrated.  A creamy, creme de cassis undertone, with minty herb on the extremely long finish.  The wine has a firm structure, with tannins that definitely signal that the wine could use some cellaring, but they are also velvety enough to allow for early drinking.  This is a very well-made, clean and polished wine.  A little much for me, but still a delicious and balanced effort.

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Winery Visit – Quivira Vineyards


They were open when we arrived; we got there just in time for last call.

Quivira Vineyards holds a special place in our hearts, as it was one of the first wineries we happened upon early on in our wine country adventures.  When ever we traveled to the wine country, we usually traveled with a very loose plan of where to visit; sometimes we didn’t even have a plan.  It was always a lot of fun to leave things to chance and see where we would end just by driving around aimlessly, while enjoying the beautiful scenery.


View of the "green" building from the parking lot.

Quivira was one of those wineries we just happened upon while driving around aimlessly.  Unfortunately, many wineries today require appointments, so some pre-planning is necessary.  Fortunately it’s still a place where you can still drop by their tasting room unannounced to sample their wonderful bio-dynamically produced wines.  The winery is located on Dry Creek Road and is tucked into the hills on the Western side of the valley.

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Winery Visit – C. Donatiello Winery


The C. Donatiello Winery, which just celebrated its one year anniversary in March 2009, is a beautifully re-incarnated building occupying the land at 4035 Westside Rd. where the now-defunct Belvedere Winery used to reside.

We had the privilege of being given a quick, but personal tour of the new winery’s facilities by my fiancee’s old friend from high school in San Diego, Robert Conard.  Robert is the Hospitality Director at the winery, but today and probably on many other days, he wears many hats.  Today he was mainly the ambassador to the winery’s many local guests stopping by to soak up the sun and the complimentary live music on the estate’s beautifully manicured garden and lawn.


View of the gardens and the estate from the parking lot.

The winery is a partnership between the winery’s namesake Chris Donatiello and San Francisco investment banking legend Bill Hambrecht.  The winery’s focus is on the production of small-lot pinot noir and chardonnay sourced from premium vineyard sites in the Russian River Valley.  I can’t remember, but I think farming is done either organically, or in a very responsible and sustainable manner.  Most, if not all of the vineyards they source fruit from are owned by the winery.

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19th Annual Family Winemakers Tasting – Sunday, August 23, 2009

FamilyTasting_09In less than two weeks, the largest public wine tasting event in California, sponsored by the Family Winemakers of California, will be held at the Fort Mason Center on Sunday, August 23rd.  This is a treat and opportunity you don’t want to miss.

The Family Winemakers of California is a great organization.  Their mission is to be the the voice and advocate for small wine producers so they can be heard in public policy decisions.  As a past small business owner myself, I can’t tell you how important it is to have organizations like these advocating for you.

The event itself is an impressive display of the best that the California wine industry has to offer.  The wines from these producers are the products of artistry, creativity, blood, sweat, tears and all the things that make a small business what it is.  In addition to tasting the wines, you’ll get an opportunity to meet many of the winemakers and proprietors who are the faces of these wineries.

When we attended this event last year, it was our first ever public wine tasting event we attended in San Francisco, or in any city for that matter.  While there were several tasting events in Hawaii, there were no such events available to the public; only for trade members, which fortunately we were lucky to be a part of.  What a dream; we now have countless number of public wine tasting events at our disposal and we’ll be making sure to take advantage of our new found zip code.

Tickets are cheaper in advance, so hurry up and commit to the 23rd, so you can save yourself what is costs you to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge in one day.

19th Annual Family Winemakers Public Tasting 2009
Sunday, August 23
3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Fort Mason Center
Herbst Pavilion

$50 in advance, online
$60 at the door

Make sure your belly is full and you’re fully hydrated prior to the event.  In fact make sure to stay hydrated throughout the event.  If you’re not too self-conscious of yourself, spit, dribble, drool or do whatever you need to do in order to make sure you minimize your intake of wine throughout the day.  You’ll thank yourself after wards.

Wine Review – 2007 Catherine & Pierre Breton Bourgueil Trinch!, Loire Valley, France

Winery: Domaine Catherine et Pierre BretonBreton

Importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant

Region: France

Sub-Region: Bourgueil, Loire Valley

Estimated Retail Price: $19

Purchase Details: Purchased for $16.99 plus tax at the Redwood City K&L Wine Merchant store.

Tasting Notes: On the nose, stinky blue cheese and dirty athletic socks.  In the mouth, this wine is all about acid and texture.  Juicy dark sour cherry fruit, plum and a kind of briny olive tapenade flavor.  Good grippy tannins that are also silky and caressing.  I can’t get over how alive the wine tastes due to the underlying fresh, palate-cleansing acidity.  A really nice finish that lingers and then fades very slowly.

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