Sunday, April 29, 2012

Staying Cool With Francis Ford Coppola

Cool. Crisp. Delightful. I love my white wines. Simple. Easy. Perfect for warm weather sipping on my patio. With our crazy weather this year, you can never be too prepared. When I look for these types of wines, I also look for value, especially if I want to impress friends when they come over for company. I've been drinking the Coppola Diamond Collection wines for awhile now and they are always consistent.

Recently, I sampled two such delights: 2011 Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Pinot Grigio and 2011 Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Sauvignon Blanc. At $16 each, these wines are true values and should be a staple in everyone's collection.
The nose on the Pinot Grigio is intoxicating, with the promise of nectarines, ripe apples and floral notes. Most Pinot Grigio is bland in my opinion, but this one is bursting with fruit flavors and very juicy. It's delicious and will pair well with Summer salads, seafood dishes and light cheeses.
I really enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc. Each year, winemaker Corey Beck, sources his grapes from different vineyards all over California. The 2011 is made from grapes sourced in the cool areas of Lake County (which is just north and east of Napa Valley) and Alexander Valley in northern Sonoma County. This makes for a juicy, grapefruity and grassy Sauvignon Blanc, not so much in the New Zealand-style but more so a typical California style. Loved it!

And for a more hands on Coppola experience, I can't wait to visit the winery in Geyserville, which is located in northern Sonoma County. Not only are these wines featured there, but many others produced by the Coppola team. The winery is fun and boasts a wonderful restaurant named Rustic--the menu features many recipes from the Coppola family. Definitely worth a visit!These wines are easy to find and are distributed nationwide. For more information on these wines and the winery, please visit

I'd like to thank the Coppola PR team for sending me these wines to sample and share them with you! Happy Summer Sipping!!

"You Saw It Here First"...This post was created solely for "Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk" by Grace Hoffman. Grace is an Italian-born, American-bred wine blogger/educator with an all-consuming passion for wine and all it encompasses.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

An Afternoon At Garagiste Healdsburg

Back in October, I was celebrating yet another birthday with my fabulous wine country girlfriends, when one of them gave me a bottle of wine as a gift. 2008 Cartograph Wines Two Pisces Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. I had barely heard of Cartograph Wines let alone tried any of it. But I was fascinated...So when I got back home, I did some research and on my latest trip, I decided I wanted to visit them. Why? Because their story, like so many that I am encountering as I venture my way through wine country, is inspirational. I've met many who pick up their lives and move to California to realize their dreams. I plan to do that myself very soon! They had a dream and guess what? It's coming true!! That's an inspiration!

I let another friend of mine plan the visit and on a quiet and chilly early Sunday afternoon, we all got in the car and ventured to Healdsburg, California in Sonoma County. I've been to Healdsburg many times but never to a tasting room in the downtown area. So this was a first for me. However, this place was more than just a tasting room as I would soon find out. It was also a great lounge to hang out with good friends and a micro-winery where small lot wines were showcased!

Alan Baker and Serena Lourie met at Crushpad in San Francisco. Alan, a Minnesota native packed up his life and moved west to make wine. Serena also did this from the east coast. Alan made his first Pinot Noir, under the Cellar Rat label, while at Crushpad and Serena helped him make other wines. Soon the two were collaborating on their own project, which brings us to the present and this wonderful little place they call Garagiste Healdsburg!

To understand Garagiste Healdsburg is to understand the concept behind it. A "Garagiste" is a person who handcrafts small lots of wine with passion and care. Alan and Serena are small lot winemakers who take pride in their work and it most certainly shows! Their wines are amazing and I had a wonderful time sampling these delights. The tasting room also features the wines of their friends, Stark Wines--another example of handcrafted goodness. These are gems you will not want to miss!! Garagiste Healdsburg is very modern, airy and welcoming. Alan and Serena are wonderful hosts!

The tasting room features a very lengthy menu that the owners switch up from time time. Wine can be purchased by the glass or by the bottle.

Among some of my favorites (it was tough to choose because I loved them all!) were some interesting whites.

2010 Cartograph Floodgate Vineyard Gewurztraminer. Gewurztraminer isn't a wine I drink a lot of but one sip of this spicy, sassy white and I immediately started thinking about all the Asian, Mexican and Indian cuisine I could pair it with! $22.

2009 Stark Windsor Oaks Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay. This is where the bold and the beautiful comes into play! Huge, creamy, and tropical. When I'm in the mood for this style of Chardonnay, this is where I would come to find it. They only made 118 cases so get it now while you can! $30.

And some interesting reds...

2009 Cartograph Perli Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir. Interesting and rustic. Leather, mushrooms, cranberries, very full-bodied. Perfect for those gamey meals but I'd drink it with a lamb chop or a huge steak. It's va-va-voom and in your face! $42.

2009 Stark Eaglepoint Ranch Mendocino Ridge Syrah. Drool. Drool. Nom. Nom. Nom. My mouth is watering when I think about this wine. It is so elegant. To me, it was almost perfect. Layers and layers of dark fruit and minerals. Another small case production. 118 cases. Very recommended. $42.

The more I sampled, the more I didn't want to leave! I had such a great time meeting Alan and Serena and hanging out with my close girlfriends. It was such a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I highly recommend everyone visit this little place. It will certainly find a place to stay in your hearts!

I want to thank Alan Baker and Serena Lourie for being such gracious hosts and making such great wines! I would love for you two to join me on Twitter the evening of April 18th as we discuss Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir on #winechat!! I will come back and see you in July!!

I also want to thank my wonderful friends Thea Dwelle, Jerae Knutson, Sherri Housman and Barbara Phillips for being part of this great afternoon! I hope you had as much fun as I did! A special thanks to Katherine Parker, for bringing Cartograph Wines to my attention!

For more information on Garagiste Healdsburg, Cartograph and Stark Wines, please visit the following website: Follow them on Twitter at @garagistehbg and @cartographwines or visit their Facebook page!

But don't just take my word for it! Go visit them! They are located at 439 Healdsburg Avenue.

"You Saw It Here First"...This post was created solely for "Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk" by Grace Hoffman. Grace is an Italian-born, American-bred wine blogger/educator with an all-consuming passion for wine and all it encompasses.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sparkle Up Your Holiday With Domaine Carneros

Bubbly...Everyone who knows me, knows how much I love it!! A lot of people save it for special occasions, but not me. I love to sip my bubbles seven days a week. But what about those special occasions like holidays? Easter is coming up and there are plenty of reasons to bring bubbly into the mix!

Who's been to Domaine Carneros? Domaine Carneros is a gorgeous place, nestled in the hills of Napa Valley's Carneros AVA and one of the first attractions as you enter Napa Valley. The beauty of the chateau alone will take your breath away! I've visited them many times and they make some wonderful sparklers and great still wines. In fact, every time I turn around, they have more new wines in their portfolio! There's nothing I enjoy more than to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon sipping bubbles outside on their terrace.

Last month while I was traveling around Napa Valley, their PR and distribution firm, Kobrand, approached me about sampling some of their sparklers. How could I say no?

This winery makes absolutely gorgeous sparkling wine. End of story. I feel like I'm in another world when I'm sipping these. This time I tried a couple of what I call their "flagship" sparklers, the Brut Rosé and the 2005 Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs.

The Brut Rosé is an easy one to find in most U.S. markets which is why I decided to share. You should be able to go to a local wine store and find it. (Though you may want to order a case or so for later because it's really delicious!!) A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, it's exotic spicy raspberry and strawberry flavors will entice you! This one is an easy choice and for $38 a bottle, it definitely is a value!

The 2005 Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs is the true star of California! The wine is sparkling but not just because of the bubbles! 99% Chardonnay and 1% Pinot Blanc, this bubbly is guava and lemon cream with a slight hint of toast! Absolutely breathtaking and beautiful! And it should be for $95 a bottle! Definitely try this one sometime! It'll definitely make you happy!

For more information on Domaine Carneros, their wines and visiting the winery, please go to

I want to thank the folks at Kobrand and Domaine Carneros for sharing these lovely wines with me. I hope everyone out there has a fantastic Easter holiday and hopefully the Easter bunny will bring you lots of Domaine Carneros bubbly!

"You Saw It Here First"...This post was created solely for "Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk" by Grace Hoffman. Grace is an Italian-born, American-bred wine blogger/educator with an all-consuming passion for wine and all it encompasses.