Saturday, July 7, 2012

Reflections Of Global Sauvignon Blanc Day

Sauvignon Blanc. What can I say about this varietal except that I have an obsession with it and am beyond help! Sometimes to understand these things, one has to go back to the beginning. So we'll go back to the beginning of my wine education. I remember my first wine tasting in November of 1999. (Yes, it's true...I did not drink wine before then...Shame on me!) I was at a free, overstated holiday wine tasting, which enabled me to sample here and there. I fell in love with a bottle of 1998 Sterling Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. So I went and bought one. And that's how my obsession started. Over the years, I've tasted hundreds of them--from the grassy, gooseberry-flavored wines of New Zealand to the peppery wines of Argentina to the citrusy, tropical wines of California to the cat's pee-flavored wines of France (apparently I have not had enough French White Bordeaux--I'm sure they don't all taste like pipi du chat...). This year in June, we admirers of Sauvignon Blanc came together in a global way to celebrate this grape varietal. We tasted and tweeted and put on events all over the world for twenty-four hours. I was a willing and excited participant!

I chose two bottles (or rather, they chose me--but I was happy to represent them out in the field as both were fine examples of high quality), the 2011 St. Supery Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc and the 2010 Gary Farrell Redwood Ranch Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc. The two wines were like night and day!

The 2011 St. Supery Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc was sassy!! Love at first sip for me! It had a personality that did not quit. Fragrant with limes and grapefruits, the wine's fleshy, tropical mid palate was juicy and lively! So vibrant!! This wine is 100% stainless steel fermented with a beautiful crisp finish. One of my favorites so far this year! After happily enjoying this bottle, I said to myself, "Now there's a wine I am going to want to keep drinking!" I made an appointment to visit them in a few weeks. I'm pretty happy! $20.

The 2010 Gary Farrell Redwood Ranch Sauvignon Blanc is a whole other animal. It is elegant, sophisticated and lovely. It has typical citrus notes but it is a bit more complex than that. There are some interesting flavors coming from this wine--unusual ones. I tasted some spice notes and a touch of vanilla. This stems from the fact that the wine actually saw some oak treatment but not so much that it takes away the acidity we love. This one is definitely a food wine--a great accompaniment for seafood, chicken, salads, cheeses... This is what happens when Sauvignon Blanc gets dressed to the nines to go out to a formal dinner. She's radiant! $25.

My Global Sauvignon Blanc celebration doesn't end here. Until next Summer when we reconvene to celebrate the day once again, I will continue to drink them on a regular basis and explore them every chance I get! I have a feeling in me, Sauvignon Blanc has found a new best friend!

For more information on St. Supery Vineyards and Winery, please visit their website, They are located in Rutherford, CA. Their wines are available at their tasting room, online and through some distribution nationwide.

For more information on Gary Farrell Vineyards and Winery, please visit their website, They are located in Healdsburg, CA. Their wines are also available at their tasting room, online and through some distribution nationwide.

I wish to thank Sam Folsom & Associates (trade & media contact for Gary Farrell Winery) and St. Supery Vineyards and Winery for sending me the Sauvignon Blanc samples.

"You Saw It Here First!" This post was written solely for Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk. Cellarmistress is an Italian-born, American-bred wine blogger/educator with a huge passion for wine and everything it encompasses!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cellarmistress Debuts On "TV Tuesday Live!"

21 months ago, I sat in a little wine bar called Cellars Of Sonoma in Santa Rosa, California. I was appearing as a live guest along with Michael Gann of Gann Family Cellars on a local show called "TV Tuesday Live!". I knew little about the place and of the winemakers who were often guests, but my appearance that evening would make a huge impact on me and the way I felt about small family winemakers going forward...Afterward, more often than not, I would tune in and throw in my two cents, asking questions and using the show as a valuable learning tool. And then my moment arrived, the moment I would be asked to join the show as a live wine blogger in the field! I was ecstatic! The day I was contacted by owner Scott Jordan, was one of the best days ever!

Cellars Of Sonoma is GREAT! Not only do they promote small family wineries but the wines they carry are top notch. If you haven't heard of some of these producers, please seek them out because they are small production and crazy good! There are such Sonoma County producers as T.R. Elliott, Bonneau Wines, Amorosa Bella, Gann Family, Joseph Jewell, DuNah, James Family Cellars and Napa Valley producer La Sirena . You just can't go wrong with any of these producers! In order to participate as a "blogger in the field", Scott sent me the monthly wine club shipment (Yes, they have a wine club!) as samples. (These aren't distributed wines so I would not have been able to obtain them here in my area.)

Forward to last Tuesday, June 26th, my debut on the show! And what a debut! Who would have dreamed I, and my co-horts--Jodi Fritch (@TampaWineWoman), Dan Goderis (@DanGod1), Dezel Quillen (@myvinespot) and Shawn Burgert (@awanderingwino) would be sharing the stage with illustrious winemaker extraordinaire, Heidi Barrett and her La Sirena wines!

It is always a pleasure when Heidi appears on the show! She is someone I could sit down with and marvel at how she does it all--established winemaker, wife and mother, accomplished artist and helicopter pilot! And the list of wineries she has consulted for is stellar: Screaming Eagle, Paradigm, Fantesca, Kenzo Estate, Lamborn, Revana, Grace Family, Showket, Dalla Valle and Barbour. And how about her own wines, La Sirena?

The 2005 La Sirena Barrett Vineyard Napa Valley Syrah ($80) was simply WOW! A blend of berries and bacon, rustic with a lot of punch! And still so young. You could definitely lay this one down for several more years and watch it really come alive! If you are fortunate enough to taste Heidi's wines, savor them. They are some of the best the Napa Valley has to offer!

I might mention she also makes a very unusual white wine. Called 2011 La Sirena Moscato Azul, it is a dry Muscat made from grapes from the Napa Valley and Paso Robles. Pricey ($48) but worth it! Floral with grapefruit and stone fruit notes, it is Moscato for the dry wine drinker. Nothing sweet about this one except that it's beautiful and will make you smile. I was able to sample this one at a Premiere Napa Valley event for the Calistoga Winegrowers last February. The event was held at Chateau Montelena, a winery owned by Heidi's husband, Bo Barrett.

I am looking forward to being a part of the "TV Tuesday Live!" family on a regular basis and hope you will stay tuned for more fun with their winemakers coming up: T.R. Elliott, Bonneau and Amorosa Bella! The show airs on UStream every Tuesday night at 6 PM Pacific time. Who knows? I may even pop in on July 24th when I visit Santa Rosa! A big thanks to Scott Jordan and the team at Cellars Of Sonoma! I am honored to be a part of this!

If you would like to see a UStream version of the most recent show with Heidi Barrett, please go to this link:

For more information about Cellars Of Sonoma, please visit their website, If you are in the Santa Rosa area and would like to stop by for some wine, they are located in downtown Santa Rosa in Railroad Square.

For more information about Heidi Barrett and her La Sirena Wines, please visit

Photo Credits: Jerae Knutson and Grace Hoffman

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

Cellarmistress Goes To Italy, Part One

In an effort to get back to my Italian roots, I decided I needed to learn more about Italian wines. But where was I to start? A person could seriously spend years learning about the wines of Italy and not even touch the surface! When an opportunity came up for me to sample the wines of Beni di Batasiolo, a winery in the Piedmont region of Italy, I embraced the opportunity! The experience left me tantalized and excited to learn more!

Beni di Batasiolo is located on 345 acres and is estate-owned. The Dogliani family have been farming this land since 1978 and their dedication to quality is impeccable. I sampled four distinctively different wines, all great values and much to my surprise, I found them a delicious alternative to the California wines I always write about.

The first one I sampled was the 2011 Gavi di Gavi Granee DOCG. I wish more of the American public would discover Gavi. It is an amazing white wine! Made from 100% Cortese grapes, it is food-friendy, crisp with floral aromas and citrus flavors! Just a breath of fresh air and perfect for Summertime sipping. I love it and going forward, I am going to seek out this varietal and make it a staple in my wine rack! $18.99.

My next bottle was the 2008 Barbera d'Alba Sovrana DOC. Barbera was a varietal I had tried before, but I was used to its rugged and rustic California counterpart. This Barbera was fruity and smooth. Delicate but with ripe fruit flavors and a beautiful ruby red color. This wine, also very food-friendly, is the perfect accompaniment to any meal. Average price around $18. Great value!
This was the first time I had ever had a Barolo. Yes, in my short 13 year history of drinking wine I had never once tried a wine made of 100% Nebbiolo grapes! (My counterparts out there are probably shaking their heads right now!!) Barolo is the KING of Piedmont and its pride and joy and I can see why. This wine is almost regal! The 2007 Barolo DOCG is huge, rustic, spicy with a velvet finish. I would love to taste this one again after a few more years as it is so ageworthy! Firm tannins will give it a lot of future life! So impressed I am with this wine that I cannot wait to sample more of them. Average price $48 (and a bargain at that!)

And now for the big surprise of the day!! Everyone who knows me knows I am not a fan of sweet wines. I make a face everytime I think about it. Something made me change my mind recently and of course it had to be Italian!

There is a huge Moscato craze here in the US. Most of the ones I've seen and tried are of the sticky sweet variety. I call it a "girly girl" wine for those who don't really drink wine, almost likening it to a wine cooler. The Italians, however, know how to do Moscato correctly and even though the alcohol level is low (around 8%), guess what? You would never know when sampling this one! The Moscato Spumante Rose is absolutely delicious! Not only does it taste dry but the lovely strawberry flavor reminds one of Summertime! It's also a very romantic kind of wine. Hot tub wine, I call it. For you and your sweetheart! $15.99.

I want to thank Katie Hunter of Charles Communications for turning me on to such lovely wines and sending me the samples! It definitely was a great experience and I look forward to exploring a lot more Italian varietals in the future! Hopefully some day I can go back to Italy and maybe even visit Beni di Batasiolo. These are great wines worth exploring!

Beni di Batasiolo wines are distributed nationwide through Boisset Family Estates. For more information on Beni di Batasiolo, please check out their website,

"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.