Wednesday, June 22, 2022

2019 The Shepherd Sauvignon Blanc


2019 The Shepherd Sauvignon Blanc

Hot days are made for cooler wines and Sauvignon Blanc almost always fits the bill.  But when you have a Sauvignon Blanc like this one that is so pure, straightforward and extremely easy to enjoy, you know you have hit the jackpot.  Don't mistake this as simple, because it isn't.  It is just very well made and exactly how we enjoy SB.  Shepherd Wines, aka Truchard Vineyards, presents a fine California example of this wildly popular grape.  Aromas of cooked pear, grapefruit and crisp linen resonate throughout the glass and intensify as the wine begins to warm.  Delicious and crisp citrus flavors lead to a zippy and memorable medium acidic finish.  Absolutely and easily a daily drinker!

ABV:  13.9%

Napa Valley, CA (Carneros Region)

Suggested retail price:  $18.00

Drink The Bottles score:  90/100

Friday, May 27, 2022

2019 Dawn's Dream Winery Frances Jane Chardonnay

2019 Dawn's Dream Winery Frances Jane Chardonnay

There's no question that a quality Chardonnay really pleases the palate and is one of the world's most diverse and celebrated white wines.  We recently had the opportunity to taste this exciting wine and we know that you will love it.  This is the 2019 Dawn's Dream Winery Frances Jane Chardonnay and like most wines that we love, it has a back story.  The Frances Jane name comes from Dawn's granddaughter and the fun label comes from the love that Frances Jane has for the four-legged fur babies.  In fact, $5.00 of every bottle of this wine is donated to Peace of Mind Dog Rescue.  We love this!

This wine is on the drier side but welcomes the palate with toasted ciabatta, lemon cream and crisp pear.  It opens up the senses and warms the mouth with candied apples, hints of oak and bright acidity, leading to a lingering and satisfying finish.  While we tasted this wine without food (like we do all of our wines), we think this selection would be a lovely accompaniment to hard breads, smoked Gouda and a variety of seafood selections.  Delish!

2019 Dawn's Dream Winery Frances Jane Chardonnay label

ABV:  13.4%

Monterey, CA

Suggested retail price:  $55.00

Drink the Bottles score:  93/100

Monday, April 25, 2022

2018 Hamel Family Wines Isthmus

2018 Hamel Family Wines Isthmus

We were recently introduced to Hamel Family Wines and their 2018 Isthmus red blend.  This wine is comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon (64%), Merlot (18%), Cabernet Franc (14%) and Petit Verdot (4%).  This wine is very rich up front with dominant blackberry, plum and pomegranate fruits.  Clove, grilling spices, river rock and ripe dark fruits blend to create a stunning and memorable wine that is approachable now and will also drink very well for the next 15+ years.  Wonderful texture with the medium to heavier mouthfeel.  We decanted this wine for about 90 minutes prior to tasting and that helped bring this selection to a compelling and delightful finish.  Ruby red in the glass to the rim.  While we don't often taste wines with food, we do think that this would be a delicious accompaniment to a bone-in ribeye steak.

2018 Hamel Family Wines Isthmus label

ABV:  14.5%

Sonoma Valley, CA

2,698 cases produced

Suggested retail price:  $90.00

Drink The Bottles score:  93+/100


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Winery Spotlight: Trefethen Family Vineyards


Trefethen Family Vineyards

In the heart of the Oak Knoll District in Napa Valley, California, sits a winery that is beautiful, welcoming and is also the home of incredible wines.  Trefethen Family Vineyards is a third generation, family owned and sustainably farmed winery that has deep roots in Napa Valley.  The best way to describe the founders, Katie and Gene Trefethen, would be as true pioneers of the area.  Their touches are still evident daily at the winery by the Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve and the amazing gardens that are intertwined throughout the grounds of the estate.

Second generation family members and co-founders Janet and John Trefethen created their own footprints in the wine world.  John was the founding president of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers and later led the charge for the Napa Valley Vintners during the early critical years.  For 25 years, Janet hosted the Napa Valley Cooking Class and became an ambassador not only for the winery, but also Napa Valley as she became a leader in establishing the now famous Oak Knoll District.

Entrance to Trefethen Family Vineyards

The entrance to Trefethn is impressive, awe-inspiring and welcoming.  The long drive also has an interesting history behind it.  We won't spoil the secret but there is a great story about this long drive, a pilot and a cowgirl that you have to hear from your winery tour guide!

Trefethn Family Vineyards fountain

Everywhere you look, you see manicured grounds, clean lines and beautiful gardens.  You could spend the better part of a day walking around here and taking in all of the beauty.

Large tree at Trefethen Family Vineyards

Huge trees create a canopy in many areas of the Trefethen property, providing shade, a gorgeous setting and a natural nature preserve for Napa's smallest residents.

Tour guide at Trefethen Family Vineyards

Each winery ambassador is extremely knowledgeable about "all things Trefethen" and their passion is evident in the stories that they tell.  You learn about the history, the family, the wines and the future of Trefethen.

Taste the Estate Menu

Trefethen offers many tasting experiences.  We were blessed to enjoy the "Taste the Estate" tasting on the porch of the old house.  We tasted five unique and wonderful wines accompanied by delicious food.

Cucumber Poké paired with 2020 Dry Riesling

The foods that were served with our tasting featured estate-grown ingredients, which was as equally impressive as the wine.  We stepped outside of our comfort level and despite any preconceived notions we may have had (we are not cucumber fans), we thoroughly enjoyed all of the food pairings.

Trefethen Family Vineyards white wines

It's no secret that Napa Valley and red wines are synonymous.  But don't discount the fact that you can enjoy breathtaking white wines as well!  Pictured here are the 2020 Dry Riesling and the 2019 Katie's Acre Chardonnay.  These wines were both over the top delicious!

Chilled Summer Melon Soup

The Chilled Summer Melon Soup with tarragon goat cheese, sunflower and compressed melon introduced all of us to flavors that were unique and extremely pleasing.

Hen of the Wood Mushrooms

Winery Chef Chris Kennedy and his team construct dishes that were absolutely mind blowing at times.  The Hen of the Woods Mushrooms with roasted white corn cake and créme fraiche was one of the best dishes we have ever tasted in our lives!  Chris is a culinary genius!

Trefethen Family Vineyards Red Wines

Pictured here are the three red wines from our "Taste the Estate" tasting.  They were all fabulous and we bought them all to bring home!
  • 2017 Cowgirl and the Pilot
  • 2018 Dragon's Tooth
  • 2017 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Winos Group at Trefethen Family Vineyards

Wine tasting is fun. Wine tasting with friends is more fun!  Wine tasting in an intimate setting creates memories that will last a lifetime.

The beautiful gardens at Trefethen

You could get lost in the gardens (on purpose, of course) across these sprawling grounds.  These beauty of this place reminds visitor of Katie Trefethen's influence on what would become a magnificent winery and a favorite place to visit.

Despite being one of the larger, family owned wineries in Napa Valley with about 500 acres currently planted, Trefethen makes you feel welcome and like an extension of their own family.  The attention to detail, the kindness and the remarkable wines display the embodiment of the vision that was started decades ago.  So what does the future look like for Trefethen?   There is no doubt that the visionaries of Trefethen have helped them succeed for three generations.  They are eco-friendly, sustainably farmed, and keenly aware of how nature helps them thrive.  

Cover crops aid in decreasing carbon dioxide in the vineyards.  Nesting boxes for predatory birds help control varmint population.  Only the actual juice from the grapes leaves Trefethen's property.  All other parts of the grape (stems, seeds, skins) are used to form a compost that is re-entered into the vineyard soil annually.  Trefethen takes sustainability very seriously and they have been a role model for other wineries in both Napa Valley and around the world to learn from.

Earth Day Joy Box

Recently, Trefethen released their very limited JOY BOX in honor of Earth Day.  This box included their OKD Four wine blend, a cotton tea towel with water based ink, white flake salt and an olive pinch bowl.  The Joy Box is a wonderful and special gift idea that any wine lover will enjoy.  We strongly encourage you to sign up on Trefethen's web site to be notified when these boxes become available, as they sell out very quickly!

If we could say how we feel about Trefethen Family Vineyards and the people behind the label, it would simply be expressed as "Visionaries with a love for wine, the environment and Napa Valley who create beauty through grapes, food and beautiful gardens".   

We strongly hope that you will consider connecting with Trefethen Family Vineyards during your next trip to Napa Valley.  You will create memories and enjoy experiences that you will talk about for years!

Monday, April 11, 2022

2019 Patland Estate Vineyards Napa Valley Syrah


2019 Patland Estate Vineyards Napa Valley Syrah
Just released from Patland Estate Vineyards

Just released!   We are always excited to share wines from Patland Estate Vineyards, as we have become really big fans over the past couple of years.  Their Syrah has consistently provided consistent quality with anticipated deliciousness and the 2019 vintage is hanging right there with previous ones.  Gorgeous, deep garnet color with dominating aromas of dark ripe plum, crushed blueberries and Portobello mushroom.  With some additional time in the glass, cracked pepper, Asian spices and sweet smoke appear and combine together with damp earth for a memorable finish.  This wine is a real treat and with only 110 cases produced, it is priced right.  While it is very young now, it is starting to come into its own.  We recommend holding back a bottle or 2 and enjoy this for the next 15-20 years without any second thought.

2019 Patland Estate Vineyards Napa Valley Syrah label
Drink now or hold for even more enjoyment

ABV:  14.8%

Napa Valley, CA

110 cases produced

Suggested retail price:  $85.00

Drink The Bottles score:  91/100

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Winery Spotlight: Mollydooker


Mollydooker Wines:  Aussie for Left Hander

If you were to write a story that had its ups and downs, trials and tribulations and eventually an overwhelming and sustainable success, you would be reading about Mollydooker.  In just over fifteen years under this label, Sarah Marquis, now sole owner and chief winemaker, has taken this brand from near bankruptcy to  a wildly successful and philanthropic company.  

We were first introduced to Mollydooker wines back in early 2011 when we, as fledgling wine writers, were reaching out to Australian brands, trying to expand our global wine knowledge base.  Their US contact shipped us a few bottles and we were immediately hooked!   How could such young wines be so flavorful and instantly drinkable?  What about aging for years and year?  What is this witchcraft that they are performing in Australia?  We were baffled and excited at the same time.

Sarah Marquis - Owner and Chief Winemaker at Mollydooker
Sarah Marquis - Owner and Chief Winemaker at Mollydooker

In the fall of 2011, we had the opportunity to attend a Mollydooker wine dinner at an obscure, out-of-the-way restaurant in northern Indiana.  Despite the 2.5 hour drive and getting lost along the way, we were over-the-moon for the opportunity to meet some of the MD team, learn more about their history and try some wine blending ourselves, all paired with delicious food.  It was at this dinner where we really began to appreciate the hard work, struggles and determination behind the logo.  If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of these events, don't think twice about it.!  It's an amazing experience.

Mollydooker Wine Dinner
Wine upon wine upon wine at the Mollydooker dinner

Part of the early success of Mollydooker was their uniquely developed and implemented Marquis Vineyard Watering Programme, which helped produced exceptionally flavorful grapes that would be used in the wines.  Sarah herself created many of the early wine labels which included a tab that could be pulled off so you could take it to your local wine purveyor to request it or remember what you drank.

Early labels allowed you to peel a section off and take to your wine store

Mollydooker Wine Labels
All of the Mollydooker wine labels are fun, festive and colorful

But not everything is an overnight success.  The Marquis family found themselves in a situation that would make or break them - literally.  They had just $17 left in the bank and no solid plan for the future.  It was then that what could be dubbed as a series of divine intervention happened - a loan from a businessman, growers offering extended terms, temporary salary reductions and the determination to succeed.   But it was June of 2006 that changed the world for Mollydooker.  Robert Parker reviewed the first Mollydooker vintage and he brutally honest - and impressed!   Because of Parker's notoriety and thoughts on the wines, the wine world agreed and went into a frenzy.  The first Mollydooker vintage was sold out in just 19 days.  Sarah and company were back to business, paying bills early and looking toward the future.

Of course, like any successful business, there are hiccups along the way.   In 2011, a forklift crash destroyed over 460 cases of Mollydooker's flagship Shiraz, Velvet Glove, leaving only a literal handful of bottles available for the US wine market.   At the time, Velvet Glove sold for $185 per bottle, making this a $1,000,000+ loss for the Australian winery.  But again, the team pulled up their boot straps, got back to work and overcame this huge loss.  

Mollydooker Velvet Glove Shiraz:  $1MM Loss
Wine, wine everywhere and not a drop to drink    Photo credit: The Times UK

Fast forward to 2017.   Sarah Marquis becomes the sole owner of Mollydooker Wines and also leads the way behind the scenes as head winemaker.  Her son Luke, aka Blue Eyed Boy, has begun participating in the family business, often in front of wine fans as a face for the company.  The wines continue to receive glowing accolades and have an ever-increasing global fan base.  But it has never been "just about wines" to Sarah.  She wholeheartedly believes in supporting organizations near and dear to her hear with the Mollydooker "Sip It Forward" program.  

In 2009, Mollydooker began a partnership with Transform Cambodia that allowed them to open three education centers for children.  300 children participate in this program which allows them not only the ability to learn English, but also provides them with a healthy and safe haven.

Transform Cambodia
Mollydooker supports Transform Cambodia

Mercy Multiplied was founded in 1983 and is dedicated to supporting women and girls in abuse situations with free and safe residential programs.  Mollydooker supports 20 women in this program annually.  

Closer to home, Mollydooker is a proud sponsor of Hutt Street Centre.  This organization supports the homeless and vulnerable people of Adelaide by providing shelter, food, warmth and safety.  

It is easy to see why we honored Sarah Marquis on International Women's Day in early March.  We are completely blown away by her tenacity, business sense, talent and philanthropic endeavors.  We hope, one day. to meet her at Mollydooker's Cellar Door in South Australia.  But until then, we will continue to be ambassadors of the brand through our posts and we will continue to be Mollydooker fans!

What does the future hold for Sarah Marquis and Mollydooker?  We can't wait to find out!

The MollyVan Wine Bar
Who wouldn't love to sip wine from the MollyVan wine bar?


Mollydooker Wine Accolades

  • Five 99-point Wine Advocate scores from Robert Parker
  • Winestate's Number 1 Australian & New Zealand Wine of the Year
  • Wine Spectator Top 10 Wines of the World - three times!
  • Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of the World - eight times!
  • Business SA Regional Exporter of the Year 2017
  • Business SA Beer Wine and Spirits Exporter of the Year 2019
  • Australian Women in Wine Owner/Operator of the Year Award 2018
  • Telstra South Australian Business of the Year 2019

Thursday, March 10, 2022

2020 Fieldhouse 301 Red Wine


2020 Fieldhouse 301 Red Wine

This was our first experience with the wines offered by Scout & Cellar of Texas.  They seem to have a little bit of something for just about everyone, especially if you are budget-minded, as most of their offerings are in the $19 - $36 range.  At those prices you can find a daily drinker, no doubt!  This wine is the 2020 Fieldhouse 301 Red Wine (blend) from California.  You would typically find Cabernet Sauvignon in a red blend, but this one is a combination of Zinfandel (48%), Merlot (23%), Petite Sirah (12%), Carignan (9%) and Barbera (8%).   You don't find Carignan in too many California wines, even as a blending grape, so that was interesting to us.  This wine had a great medium purple color with blackberry, coffee bean and menthol nose.  With a lighter-to-medium mouthfeel, flavors of sweet blackberry preserves, roasted coffee beans, pepper and red licorice.  This is not a sugar bomb (if we have given that impression) but it is on the sweeter side.  The really cool things about this wine is that it is vegan, unfined and unfiltered.  Scout & Cellar prides itself on offering wines that are more "hands off" and clean.  We like that idea and we enjoyed this wine!

2020 Fieldhouse 301 Red Wine Label

ABV:  13.9%


Suggested retail price:  $24.00

Drink The Bottles score:  87/100

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

2018 Enkidu Cabernet Sauvignon High Mayacamas

2018 Enkidu Cabernet Sauvignon High Mayacamas

Rich in texture and flavor with mouth-coating dark fruits, graphite, damp earth and oak.  That's what we discovered in this 2018 Enkidu Cabernet Sauvignon High Mayacamas wine.  Powerful fruit abounds from first sip to last with petite and polished tannin lead to a scrumptious finish.  These grapes come rom Cabernet Sauvignon from three distinct areas - Sonoma County (63%), Napa County (25%) and Lake County (12%) and four separate vineyards.  This wine is very classic Cab but has a lighter feel on the back end.  It's quite remarkable and the price won't offend you at all!  This is our second sample from Enkidu and the quality and consistency has been spot on.  Drink now and for the next 10+ years.

2018 Enkidu Cabernet Sauvignon High Mayacamas Label

ABV:  14.6%

Sonoma, CA

Suggested retail price:  $45.00

Drink The Bottles score:  92/100


Friday, January 21, 2022

2018 Davis Bynum Russian River Valley Pinot Noir


2018 Davis Bynum Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

The 2018 Davis Bynum Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is an absolutely lovely and fragrant wine.  The color is absolutely stunning and the aromas of fresh strawberry field, tea and oak draw you in immediately.  In the mouth you are quickly greeted by fresh and juicy strawberries, damp earth joined with silky tannin.  This wine could easily be an everyday drinker for the Pinot Noir fanatic.  

2018 Davis Bynum Russian River Valley Pinot Noir in glass

ABV:  14.5% 

Sonoma County, CA

Suggested retail price:  $25.00

Drink The Bottles score:  89/100

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

2016 Laurel Glen Counterpoint Cabernet Sauvignon


2016 Laurel Glen Counterpoint Cabernet Sauvignon

2016 was generally a very good year for California Cabernet Sauvignon.  By far, the growing season was steady and uneventful, allowing grapes to help produce solid wines.  This 2016 Laurel Glen Counterpoint Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma Mountain is 100% Cabernet (yay!) and one that is extremely fairly priced.  We won't say "value priced" wine as that tends to actually devalue a brand.  We are going to call this wine an incredible deal.  Juicy blackberry, plum camp fire and cigar box on the nose with, at times, hints of dried spring flowers.  A dark, robust wine with flavors of black fruits, cherry tobacco, allspice and earthiness.  The wine really pulls you in immediately and leaves a solid finish on the palate.  This is the first Counterpoint that we have tasted and these 50+ year old vines are really strutting their stuff.  Excellent choice!  Drink now or for the next 10 years.

2016 Laurel Glen Counterpoint Cabernet Sauvignon label

ABV:  14.6%

Sonoma Mountain, CA

Suggested retail price:  $50.00

Drink The Bottles score:  93/100

Monday, January 10, 2022

2018 Galante Vineyards Olive Hill Petite Sirah

2018 Galante Vineyards Olive Hill Petite Sirah

There's a lot going on with this wine that we love.  We, of course, have to start with the obvious first - the bottle.  No, your eyes are not deceiving you.  Yes, that is a 750mL bottle of wine.  The "petite" or stubby bottle is a nod to the marketing team over at Galante.  In fact, we really like everything they do and if you're a cowboy fan........ you will love it!  So let's talk about the wine.  This is the 2018 Galante Vineyards Olive Hill Petite Sirah.  It is estate bottled and comes from two different vineyards of seriously different elevations.   The color on this wine is absolutely mesmerizing.  It's a deep garnet and reminds us of a crushed velvet that you hung on your wall in the 1970's.  When we opened this bottle, aromas of boysenberry and cedar leapt from the bottle and we had a suspicion that this was going to be something very, very good.  With some air time, other aromas like toasted ciabatta and fresh blacktop joined in on the fun.  Strong but welcoming tannin framed the flavors of blackberry jam, violets and barn wood to a finish that was very strong but not overpowering.  We really appreciate a Petite Sirah that isn't jammed up by blending grapes and this offering from Galante Vineyards really allows the fruit to shine.  It is absolutely delicious!

2018 Galante Vineyards Olive Hill Petite Sirah label

ABV:  14.0%

Carmel Valley, CA

Suggested retail price:  $55.00

Drink The Bottles score:  92/100

High West Distillery Cask Strength and High Country Single Malt Whiskeys

  High West Distillery was founded in 2006 by David Perkins, and his wife Jane and began distilling in 2007.  You've undoubtedly seen th...