A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Category: #winestudio (page 1 of 2)

#Winestudio Thru Rose Colored Glasses: Bonterra Rose 2016 Mendocino

“La Vie En Rose. It is the French way of saying, ‘I am looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses.” -Aubrey Hepburn

Who doesn’t enjoy viewing life through Rosé colored glasses? Cares melt away. Edges soften. The harsh world warms up into a bright summer glow. That’s exactly the effect the Bonterra Rose 2016 Mendocino produced for #Winestudio this month. And in a touch of playfulness, rose colored sunglasses were included with the Bonterra Rosé for #Winestudio participants to sport as we virtually visited the Bonterra Vineyards and farms. 

30 years ago, under the direction of winemaker Bob Blue, Bonterra Vineyards made a commitment to organic and biodynamic practices before organic was even cool. Today, organic is very cool despite the fact it’s been around for centuries! Bonterra’s organic vineyards fit perfectly with the June #Winestudio theme of “What’s ‘Old’ is ANew”. Regardless of the present trends, Bonterra remains passionate that great wine comes from farms and vineyards teeming with biodiversity and healthy soils. As a result of their commitment, Bonterra leads the U.S. in organic wine production and it’s garnered them the award of being named “American Winery of the Year 2016” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

“Our style has always been about restraint, because we have fewer tools in the vineyard & winery. Balance trumps trends, always.” -Bonterra Wines


Bonterra Vineyards and Farms

 It takes years to become an accredited California Certified Organic Farmer (CCOF). You must adhere to two of the Demeter farm standards which in Bonterra’s case is applying bio-dynamic preparations and composts and increasing biodiversity. Located in Mendocino County, the Bonterra biodynamic wine collection explores site-specific expressions from three Demeter-certified estate vineyards. 

According to the Bonterra website:

“Our three ranches (Blue Heron, McNab and Butler) are certified Biodynamic® by Demeter and our status is reviewed annually to ensure that each ranch adheres to the Demeter Farm Standard. The principle of Biodynamic farming is the simplest way to understand what it is: a living organism which is self-contained, self-sustaining, and follows the cycles of nature.”

 Bonterra Rosé 2016 Mendocino (Grenache, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo) $16


How’s it made?

Bonterra believes style and method go hand and hand. “Method drives the style, and we knew we wanted to make a Provence-inspired Rosé.” The Rosé is made in the Provencal style using the direct press method. Bonterra selected Grenache as the main grape because “it’s great for rosé and Sangiovese and Nebbiolo do well in Mendocino”. 

The Resulting Taste?

A refreshing mouth full of light summer strawberries, hints of rose petals and nice acidity. 

Let me know if you try a bottle. Rumor has it, with only a few days into the official summer season, the winery is almost sold out. If you come across a bottle I’d be happy to share it with you. In the meantime, may the LORD bless you with a very rosy summer. ~Allison


Disclosure: I received a media sample of Bonterra Rose 2016 Mendocino as a participant of #Winestudio. All rose colored opinions are my own. I think these month long Rosé sessions are turning me into a Rosé drinker. For me, this was another delicious bottle of wine. With any varietal, all it takes is finding a good bottle so I’m committed to trying! Cheers!

Kicking off a Month of Rose for #Winestudio: Domaines Paul Mas

Program note: I started this post last week with the intention of publishing ASAP because of the timeliness of the subject, however, reality often eclipses intention. June is #Winestudio’s annual month of Rosé, so technically I’m still on time! 

June 10th    is   was National Rosé Day so it’s only natural #Winestudio’s June program feature Rosé. To kick off a month of Rosé education, the first week featured  a portfolio of wines from Domaines Paul Mas with vigneron,  Jean-Claude Mas, as guide.  In 2000, Jean-Claude left a career in motorsports to restructure his family’s declining vineyard estate into a viable winemaking business. He has worked hard to cultivate a wine style focused on a philosophy of “the simple pleasures of life” and has built a wine empire in France’s Languedoc region with their wine exported to 61 countries. 

“Luxe Rural sums up our culture and philosophy. With the greatest respect for our rural roots, we aim for perfection. Our wines are the result of our mission to inspire real emotions.” ~ Vigneron Jean-Claude Mas

With the philosophy of Luxe Rural in mind, we tasted through three different rosés; two still wines and a sparkler.  Now is when the education part of #Winestudio kicks in – I had to revisit the meaning ‘free run juice’ which led me to an inner dialogue about my lack of formal wine certification/qualifications and how basically the fact is I’m only a wine drinker. I run on intelligence guided by experience.  What am I saying? The following is focused more on the specs of these wines than the taste so it might be drier than usual. Although, the taste was a very pleasant experience and is further changing my views of Rosé.  

To get the party started, we popped a sparkler:

Côté Mas Crémant de Limoux Rosé Brut NV St. Hilaire Languedoc ($16)

  • 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc, 10% Pinot Noir (Personally, in my palate’s opinion, chardonnay is more pleasant when she brings friends along to temper her buttery personality.) 
  • Production is by Methode Traditionelle – Primary fermentation is in stainless steel vats with a blend of sugar and yeast, “Liqueur de Tirage” added before bottling. The bottles are placed upside down to gather the lees in the neck and aged a year. The bottlenecks are then frozen to trap the lees in an ice plug which is easily removed. The bottles are re-sealed and aged a second year. 
  • Limoux is often cited as the oldest sparkling wine region in France.
  • Don’t you think sparklers make excellent introductions to the world of Rosé?


Côté Mas Rosé Aurore 2016 Sud de France ($11)

  • The grapes are de-stemmed and the varieties: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah – are vinified separately.  
  • The Cote Mas Rose Aurore is made with only free run juice.  Free run juice is the juice pressed out from the sheer weight of the grapes stacked on top of each other into the winepress. This juice is treasured for it’s characteristics of purity, freshness and clarity of flavor. Wines made from free run juice are bottled under a separate label and often at a higher price point. 
  • The Aurore ferments for 3 weeks at 17*C in stainless steel and then aged on its lees in new cement vats with regular pump-overs. Pump-over – a technique used to increase optimal extraction of color and flavors. Also known as remontage, the wine is pumped up from the bottom of the tank and splashed over the top of the fermenting grape skins, seeds and stems; the purpose is to submerge the skins so that carbon dioxide is pushed to the surface of the must and released.
  • This free run juice is widely available at the astronomical price $11. 


Arrogant Frog Rose 2016 Languedoc ($10)

  • 100% Syrah and nicknamed ‘Lily Pad Pink’
  • The Arrogant Frog has become the mascot of Domaines Paul Mas Estate wines.
  • It had a rich body and weight to it with lovely strawberries. (That’s all I’ll say.)
  • Protected by a pine forest, the vines grow in a gravel, clay and limestone soil wrapped in a Mediterranean climate. 

The Arrogant Frog was the only wine I had time to plan a proper menu pairing so I decided to try my hand at homemade street tacos. The spices paired really well! The Frog was my favorite of the three.

There is so much more I could share with you about these luxe Roses besides them being simply affordable but I think I’ve already loaded you down with enough information. Plus my goal isn’t to cause your eyes to glaze over! I’ll leave you with this: Domaines Paul Mas makes a lovely range of rosés. Let me know if you try one! Adieu.


Disclosure: I received these wine media samples as a participant of the online wine educational program #Winestudio. All ramblings are my own. 

Artfully Crafted Inside and Out: Meeker Vineyard Winemaker’s Handprint Merlot

“There’s nothing too serious except the wine itself.”

~ Molly Meeker, Owner, Meeker Vineyard Sonoma County

Where do I start?

After participating in a speedy hour of #Winestudio chat covering various aspects of Meeker Vineyard wines, I feel like Dorothy gazing out the window as the tornado spins objects around her. Spring time in Oklahoma and my mind goes automatically to twisters! However, instead of a Spinster flying by on a bicycle, it’s a 2nd generation dynamic wine duo and their deliciously full-bodied Merlot. Their impressive social media and wine acumen has me thinking of those purple clad super twins from the ’80s which is fitting since it was their Merlot we were chatting about! For those who grew up in the early 80s, you’ll know them. Yup, the Wonder Twins. Except, these Wonder twins activated their superpowers in  form of Merlot crafting winemaker, shape of wine savvy social media maven and are working to preserve a strong family tradition while progressing toward the future. Who are these Wonder Twins wielding their wine power in Sonoma, you ask? Brother and sister team, Lucas and Kelly Meeker, of Meeker Vineyard in Sonoma County, California.

This sibling duo are 2nd generation heirs wanting to preserve their parents legacy while crafting a progressive vision for the future of Meeker Vineyards. Definitely, No Woolworth heiresses here. Their parents, Charlie and Molly Meeker, who purchased the first vineyard in 1977, are still very much involved as President, CEO and chief bottle-washers. However, Lucas is now head winemaker and bottle decorator while sister, Kelly, manages the winery’s social media, website and marketing.


I was only going to ‘check-in’ on the March #winestudio chats but the second week’s wine, Meeker Vineyard 2013 Winemaker’s Handprint Merlot Sonoma County, (14.4%, $43 SRP), immediately had me contacting my trusty wine shop guru about the bottle. I love artful approaches and wanted to see it in person. The winemaker’s actual hand print adorns every bottle. All 2000 to be exact. I wasn’t able to buy the 2013 that #winestudio was tasting with the discussion but the 2012 Merlot was just as marvelous.

Upon opening, we quickly discovered an artfully crafted Merlot on the inside as a heady aroma of berries, cherries and spices filled the air. My husband and wine partner remarked of it’s strong resemblance in color and aroma to a Cabernet Sauvingon. However, the body was a touch lighter with complex layers of luscious cherries, strawberry, rhubarb, spices, vanilla and oak notes and long-lasting tannin.

The Meeker Winemaker’s Handprint Merlot is their flagship wine and a Bordeaux varietal. The Handprint is almost always a blend of two core Merlot vineyards, one in Dry Creek and one in Alexander Valley with around 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Syrah blended in to achieve a more layered flavor profile. The core wine making focal points are centered on acid and tannin structure building. According to Lucas, “A lower pH and increased tannin (grape tannin more than oak!) build integrated, seamless structures with elegance because Meeker wines are made to age. It’s a core part of how we view our identity and style goals: we’re part of a tradition we value.” 

After ‘tweeting’ with the Meeker Wonder Twins and experiencing a little of the superpowers they’re using to preserve and broaden the family wine tradition, I think Meeker Vineyards might age quite nicely. If you get a chance to visit, the Meeker Vineyard tasting room is located in the 113 year-old Geyserville bank building in Geyserville, CA. The original tasting room, interestingly enough to this Okie, was a Sioux Tipi. For more info. about Meeker Vineyard click here.

If you happen try this artfully bottled Merlot, I’d love to know your thoughts on it. My empty Handprint bottle is now displayed in our kitchen. Heck, maybe I’ll make a lamp out of it! In the meantime, I’m activating my own superpowers in the form of WineDrinker and shape of patio for pairing! 

Cheers friends,


Sonoma Winemaker to Watch – Eppie Ordaz & Sandoval Vineyard Malbec 2012

To wrap up the February #winestudio with Ordaz Family Wines and it’s winemaker, Eppie Ordaz, we opened his Sandoval Vineyard Sonoma Valley Malbec 2012 and chatted about growing Malbec. Malbec is rarely produced in Sonoma and that’s exactly why Eppie chose it.

This was probably one of the most enjoyable #winestudio sessions I’ve participated in. Drawing from a rich family heritage in farming and vineyard management, Eppie is humble, friendly and focused on crafting wines rare for the Sonoma AVA. Working alongside his father, Jesus ‘Chuy’ Ordaz, they operate by the philosophy “great wine is made in the vineyard.”  This philosophy encompasses their entire approach to winemaking by using small lot, single varietal vineyards to pioneering organic vineyard practices and safe farming practices for the protection of vineyard workers.

Sandoval vineyard is indicative of Eppie’s vision to make exceptional wine from single variety, small lots. Located on Sonoma Mountain, the vineyard is a whopping 2 acres of 30-year-old Malbec vines planted and managed by Chuy Ordaz. The vines thrive in the rocky, clay soil and a climate of cool, foggy nights and hot days that helps manage Malbec’s susceptibility to mildew.  Eppie crafts the Malbec closer to the Argentinian style while tinkering with it depending on the year. His tinkering tends to drive his father a little crazy since Chuy’s a farmer and likes predictability. Eppie ages the Malbec in lightly seasoned French oak for 18 months before bottling. Only a 132 cases of the 2012 Malbec were produced with 40 cases still available.

“It’s cool to work on something that has a finite amount. Two acres can only produce so much fruit” – Eppie Ordaz

The Sandoval Vineyard Sonoma Valley Malbec 2012 ($25, 13.5%) was dark plum colored, medium bodied, with nice acidity that smoothed into gentle tannins on the finish. Aromas of muted cherries, blueberries and cinnamon opened up slowly. I was surprised I picked out the cinnamon. I guess all this wine drinking is starting to pay off. I was mighty proud of myself for recognizing an aroma other than ‘berries’. The taste was a nice blend of earthy tobacco, cinnamon, cocoa, blueberries and dried plums or prunes. Plums and prunes are the same thing, right? They’ve always baffled me. When plump, they’re plums (hot young things). Dried and wrinkly, they’re prunes (Old Grannies). And that, my friends, is a tiny peek into how my mind works. Probably more than you wanted to know.

For the meal pairing portion of our #winestudio evening, I picked up a Tony’s Italian and House salad from our favorite corner hang out, Upper Crust.


It proved to be a classic case of food and wine doing what they are made to do: compliment each other. With the pizza, the Malbec came alive! The spicy flavors woke up the fruit while in turn the wine tamed the heat of the peppers and spicy meats. It was a happy marriage and I thought it made the Malbec even better. As the evening wrapped up, I asked Eppie what surprised him about becoming a winemaker.

“How difficult it is to be a small label amongst titans of  (the) industry.”

For now, Ordaz Family Wines are only available through their website. However, based on the wines sampled, and the Ordaz Family tradition of tenacity, hard work and excellence; I suspect this small label has a good chance of distinguishing themselves and growing to stand strong among the Titans. 


The wines were samples courtsey of #Winestudio and Ordaz Family Wines. All rambles are my own. Salud! 

Ordaz Family Wines on #Winestudio

After having to take a short break from participating in #Winestudio, because Tuesdays seem to be the most popular night to schedule school/church/sports activities, I was able to accept a kind offer to participate and sample the wine for February. If you remember, #Winestudio is an online wine education program produced by Tina Morey. The focus is on a producer or winemaker and participants get to sample their wine and live chat with the winemaker. It’s a fun evening of wine learning.

Ordaz Family Wines

This month we are meeting a winemaker whose family history is marked by “perseverance, passion and a little bit of danger.” His story and the story of his family heritage, in some respects, have roots common to us all; an ancestry born in a different place.

As usual, I was so giddy to be in the “room” with my fellow participants and talk to a winemaker about his origins and his wine that I missed a few answers to the questions, due mainly to the fact that I was, well, excited to be there. I know that sounds weird but excitement can be distracting. I’ve seen it happen with our new puppy while trying to teach her to come or sit.  I was the puppy running around crazily, trying to greet everyone instead of paying attention. But fortunately, there are several participants self-controlled enough to stay on topic so I was able to go back and re-read their discussion tweets and find out what I’d missed learning about. Also, if you haven’t had the opportunity to participate in an online live chat, it’s not easy keeping up with everyone’s tweets/replies so things do get missed.

Anyway, our guest winemaker is Eppie Ordaz of Ordaz Family Wines based in the Sonoma Valley.

Here’s what I gleaned from the evening:

  • Eppie was recently named one of several “winemakers to watch” according to Sonoma Magazine, although he only took over as winemaker in 2013.
  • His father is Chuy Ordaz. Chuy has been a vineyard manager (40+ years) of several of Sonoma’s most famous vineyards and is highly respected in the field of vineyard management. Chuy began Ordaz Family wines in 2009.
  • The family is originally from Mexico.  (It took 33 attempts for Chuy to make it into the United States. You can read more about the adventure here.) 
  • Eppie has a degree in accounting. Winemaking and accounting may seem wholly unrelated but both require attention to details and certain elements have to add-up correctly to get a successful bottom-line. 
  • Eppie’s goal is to try to be a steward of the vineyard work so the “wines represent both the variety and the vineyard.”
  • All Ordaz’s wines are produced from vineyards Chuy oversees although the family has the goal of owning their own winery and estate vineyard in the near future. Currently, the operation is out of a custom crush facility. 
  • Eppie is committed to producing single-vineyard wines.
  • The focus is Small lot, High quality wines. 
Small Lot, High Quality Wines

For Tuesday’s discussion, we opened Pinot Noir Placida Vineyard Russian River Valley 2014 ( $38, 13.7%)

“Placida Vineyard is a 9 acre lot in the heart of the Russian River Valley appellation. it’s selection of clones provides great fruit characteristics needed to create well layered and balanced Pinot Noirs.” ~ Eppie Ordaz

The Russian River valley has a “gold ridge aspect” meaning a portion of the area has a yellow clay-like soil. According to Eppie, “It’s like striking gold for the region” in terms of making RRV Pinots and Chardonnays. The wines in the words of the winemaker are  “distinctly wonderful”. 

For February, my tasting partner has been on “vacation” so I’ve had to go it alone in drinking and discovering the Pinot. I’ve missed his straight forward palate! However, we had fun deciding on the menu pairing. Pinot is delicious with chicken, mushrooms, and even Indian dishes but we went classic with a Roasted Veggie Tart and Goat Cheese Souffle. Souffles are surprisingly easier than I expected, especially if you bake them in little Ramekins instead of trying to tackle the Julia Child sized ones. 

The Pinot was bright and aromatic: earthy, baked cherries, spice and buttered toast.

Tasting it alone, there were cranberry/cherry, cloves, cola, spices, and acidity.  The veggie tart smoothed it out and brought out berries. The goat cheese souffle was the dish that made it taste like a spoonful of Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. Since I was drinking for one, I emptied the bottle over a span of three days. The second and third days were still as good but with an added touch of roses.



A dahlia flower adorns the Ordaz labels. Eppie said the flower represents his dad’s love of gardening and being a native flower of Mexico, the family’s Mexican heritage. The website states: “the Dahlia symbolizes the cultural beauty that continually shapes our lives. Universally, the Dahlia expresses diversity, elegance, dignity, personal expression, and the eternal bond between two people, all things that are inherent in any great bottle of wine.”

Next Tuesday evening #Winestudio will dive into the Ordaz Sandoval Vineyard Malbec. You’re welcome to join in the discussion on Twitter at 8pm CST. Use the hashtag #winestudio. There will be more chatting with Eppie and discovering the unique relationship between wine, vineyard and family heritage. 

Cheers, Allison



The wine featured is a sample courtesy of Ordaz Family Wines. 

Chilling On the Patio with Torre La Moreira Albarino

Hola! I have finally opened the last of the #winestudio Albariños from the two months exploration of Rías Baixas DO on the southwestern coast of Galicia, Spain. You could say we were practically swimming in them! It’s been a very enjoyable journey and I have that feeling you get from finishing a really good book. A mixture of contented satisfaction tinged with sadness that it’s over. I really liked this last bottle with it’s classic crisp citrus characteristics. Once again, if you haven’t tried Albariño then put down the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio you’ve had on the patio all summer and try one. Trust me, many are excellent drinking solo be it sans food or people and this one was no exception.

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Bodegas Marqués de Vizhoja, 2015 Torre La Moreira DO Rías Baixas

  • 100% Albariño
  • 12.5% ALC.
  • SRP: $9

The Torre La Moreira poured clear with a hint of yellow and muted aromas of  tropical fruits and seashells. The first taste was tingly acidity on the tongue. It reminded me of the sea as the waves roll to and fro on the shore leaving tiny bubbles in its wake, clear, lively and very, very temporal. Classic lemon zest, limes, herbal notes and minerals. Everything you would expect of an albariño. It was a mouthful of acidity and sunshine with a lengthy lemon finish. Torre La Moreira definitely stays with you long after the final drop is gone.


Torre La Moriera comes in a cool flask shaped bottle sealed with wax over the top of the cork.  I forgot to get a picture before we opened the bottle but that little piece of red wax was flush with the top.   The next time you’re stocking up with refreshing whites to tame the summer heat,  grab a bottle of albariño . You might just find yourself cooled down with a crisp tingly taste of the Galician seashore.  img_8791


Happy summer sipping!


Cross Country Travels and Meeting Up with Wine Friends

In the past couple of posts I mentioned our family was traveling to visit the Grandparents on the east coast so here are a few highlights.

Since there are 6 of us, it’s more economical to drive the 1600 miles than fly. Actually, we’ve always enjoyed driving and now that our kids are teenagers it’s a breeze. All you need are loads of movies, MP3 downloads and snacks. They act like they’re still at home just sitting around zoned into their computers. Except at 80 MPH which I think is a lot more exciting cause at least they’re going somewhere even if they aren’t paying attention at the time.

Another perk about driving cross country is you travel through some interesting places.  This year we decided to take the ‘northern route’ instead of our usual path through Arkansas, Tennessee and Virginia or as we say the ‘southern route’. We skipped Calhouns by the river in Knoxville and Bristol Motor Speedway for exploring Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania and the Gateway to the West. Or is it east? I was driving east at the time. 

St. Louis Arch

St. Louis Arch

Who wouldn’t buy wine from a top hat wearing Dino? Met this fellow next to the local liquor shop in Vandalia, Illinois. Catchy wine marketing!

TopHat Dino

TopHat Dino

Hello Ohio

Hello Ohio

Ohio. It’s Hi in the middle and round on both ends. But before Ohio . . . we drove through Missouri and discovered Uranus. However you pronounce this sideways planet, it still elicits giggles. 


Rex promises Big Fun

Rex promises Big Fun

It claimed Big Fun at the Fudge Factory . . .  in Uranus . . .


Fudge from Uranus. Yeah. Tempting, but we had to make Ohio by nightfall, so you understand why we didn’t stop. 

So moving on . . . to New Jersey and the shore. I had a lovely picture of all the umbrellas by the water not just my lone one but I accidentally erased it. Tragic thumb mishaps are my specialty. 






and a NYC Broadway Musical for the high school graduate . . . 

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Waitress. They made Pie!

Waitress. They made Pie!








In the middle of our visit, I got two wine surprises. The first occurred while picking up a bottle of wine at a local wine shop. My husband and I met Kevin Ciftja, a winemerchant with IlCrinale Di Cavino located in the Italian region of Abruzzo. Kevin effortlessly talked us into buying a bottle of his family’s wine. I could claim exhaustion from the 22 hours of driving but he had me with his earnestness, Italian accent and the $12 price tag.

img_8462IL Crinale Quiterano Montepulciano D’Abruzzo poured a deep purple and was dry and earthy with cherries and vanilla. It was perfect with our cheese and pretzels while enjoying the cool evening in my dearest In-laws’ backyard. The wine was nice but I suspect the lively chat with the wine merchant may have influenced our perception. Or I should say enhanced it. Another’s passion can rub off on you.

The second enjoyable surprise was in the form of a wine-meetup with two twitter friends I had met through the online education program #winestudio. Originally, I’d asked about wineries to visit in the area but instead, it turned into a great afternoon of #winestudio live with Debbie @hvwinegoddess and Lori @Dracaenawines at a local pub. These two women are definitely passionate about wines! Conversation flowed around the latest #winestudio Rosé, our families, backgrounds, wine blogs and tornadoes. Yup, tornadoes. Ironically, in the middle of chatting, Debbie got a weather alert for none other than a tornado warning and a text from her hubby confirming the crazy weather. What are the chances she’d be hanging with a tornado savvy Oklahoman at the same time? So for the next 30 minutes hook-echos and wind gusts dominated the convo.  In the end, all was well and we went back to talking about WordPress quirks and wine. 

(L2R) Me, Lori & Debbie

(L2R) Me, Lori & Debbie

As the afternoon came to a close and we parted ways, Debbie said this moment was what social media was all about – building relationships with others who share your passion. What a fantastic and enjoyable afternoon getting to know these two wine friends and then reconnecting that evening on #winestudio to chat about Rosé. This may be the start of a #winestudio tradition! 

In the meantime, hope you’re having an enjoyable season and making new wine friends!

~ Allison


Roping Rose with Angels & Cowboys of Sonoma County #winestudio

By chance, I received the last wine featured on #Winestudio‘s June program: Sonoma County Rosé Revolution.  Since our family was going to be traveling for a chunk of June, I had decided not to fully participate except an occasional “check-in” on the Rosé  twitter discussion. And I confess, Rosé hasn’t been a wine I’ve readily enjoyed. However, just before we flew the coop to the East Coast, a bottle of Angels & Cowboys Rosé Sonoma County 2015 arrived. I was delighted and confused and then in a panic because  even though I hadn’t requested the wine, I still felt an obligation to get involved and thought we might not be home in time.

Well, I was home with just enough time to do some surface research on Angels & Cowboys and Rosé. Apparently, a kind winemaker was determined to get me to  rethink Rosé. With an open-mind, I opened the bottle and was immediately lassoed by it’s contents. (Please forgive the cowboy references. I tend to get carried away but I’ll stop with this: “Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.” Unless they’re Rosé Cowboys making heavenly Rosé!)


Angels & Cowboys is a collaboration between Yoav Gilat and Dennis Hill, co-founders of Cannonball Wine Company and Northern California Graphic Artist, Michael Schwab. They wanted to create a handcrafted, propitiatory Rosé blend for the “lover, trailblazer and rule-breaker”. Right away, the label brought back memories of the beautiful Southwest Art my mama collected when we lived in Albuquerque. Clean lines and straight-forward design with the wine acting as the pale pink sunset hues typical of art in New Mexico.

photo credit: graphis.com

photo credit: graphis.com

This dry Rosé is made in the old world Provencal method with the grapes harvested at 21° Brix. Brix is the scale used to measure the sugar content in wine. Winemakers Dennis and Yoav strive for a Oeil de Perdrix color which means “Eye partridge” in french or light pale gray and pink. The grapes are lightly crushed and left to soften on their skins or macerate until this color is achieved. Then the juice is pressed off and kept cool during fermentation. Finally it’s aged for 2 months on its yeast lees. Lees are those delightful dregs that rest in the bottom of the wine vat. The end result is a mouthfeel of savory, dry, well structured, vibrant, fresh wine with minimal fruit flavors and minerals.  To me, it seemed to have a light hue of orange playing in the clear pale pink. It was easy to drink and refreshing with our 93° evening. I loved how the flavors blossomed from spicy floral acidity to mild citrus as it warmed.

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Beautifully blended of Grenache Rouge, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Grenache Blanc from three of their vineyards: Carneros, Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley for those of you familiar with Sonoma, it boasts a low alcohol content of 12.8%. Rosés are meant to be drunk young and this one didn’t last long. You can serve it with or without food. It’s a great summer sipper while sitting on the patio with it’s screw cap closure.

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Thanks to the Sonoma County Rosé Revolution lead by #Winestudio of ProtocolWine and the efforts of Dennis Hill and Yoav Gilat, I’m open to Rosé for summer. I’ve heard rumors Rosé is great all year-round, especially with Thanksgiving turkey so I’ll be looking to rope a couple of bottles when that lovely holiday comes around. Until then, I’m learning to keep an open mind about wine.

If you’re interested in learning more about wine or chatting with other wine enthusiasts, ProtocolWine Studio hosts (hashtag) #Winestudio on twitter every Tuesday at 6PST/8CST.

“#winestudio is a free, interactive wine education program conducted via social media. If you have a Twitter and Facebook account, you can participate! Each month we select a unique wine-based (or cider) topic to explore from a social, political, cultural, geographical and of course a wine-oriented perspective. Bloggers and wine lovers from across the world join us every session to discuss the culture of wine.”  

Join the fun! You might be tempted to try or rethink a wine.

In the meantime, happy summer sipping! 


The wine was a media sample of Cannonball Wine Company in conjunction with the online educational program #winestudio. Opinions and thoughts are my own. Many thanks to MM. Hill and Gilat for introducing me to a mouthwatering Rosé. Best Wishes!






Rias Baixas Souvenirs: A Bunch of Empty Bottles #winestudio


A picture really is worth a thousand words or in this case sparks a pile of memories. At closer inspection, what do you see? Besides a whole lot of empties! A wide range of wineries? Different colored and shaped bottles? Corks verses screw caps? Interesting labels and artful typography? 

The picture above represents 9 weeks of  DO Rías Baixas in Galicia, Spain and the refreshing, acidic, citrusy, saline and fruit laced Albariño. There should actually be three more bottles in the basket but I accidentally threw one out. Horror. And the other two are being kept until the frying pan of summer aka Texas, sends waves of heat up to Oklahoma and cooks my garden. 

Before you start wondering out loud or in your head, “Al, did you really drink all of those? And wow, woman, you must have a cast iron liver!”Or clandestinely try slipping a card for a support group into my handbag and ask if you can pray for me, the answer is yes – to the drinking, I have no clue about the liver. However, I had accomplices so you can stop fretting about my organs and remember it was over NINE weeks.

Now before I go off on a lengthy list of all that I gleaned about the wine and the wine region, I’m going to pause and ask you to help me figure out what to do with all these cool empty bottles. I haven’t the heart to throw them in the dumpster but I don’t relish looking like a lush either. Beyond that, feel free to post any of your borrowed Pinterest ideas in the comments. No use re-inventing the wheel!

For me personally, this Albariño journey pic represents 9 evenings of fun twitterchats with #winestudio pals, @Protocolwine and host RiasBaixasWines about Albariño, a whole lot of learning about Galicia wine history, (The Celtics & 2200 hours of sunshine!) the birth of a dominating wine region (tradition re-tooled with help from modern wine technology) and a particularly lovely evening sharing a few bottles with our neighbors.


Each bottle represents various winemaker’s personal expressions and style of their sub-region.



Many of these were crafted by women. Some of the wines were excellent alone while others needed a partner from the sea to coax their flavors. All of the grapes were carefully grown on trellises of stone pillars and hand-harvested.



Four deep estuaries cut like God’s finger prints into the landscape. Granite, alluvial soil and Atlantic breezes buffet the grapes. Beautiful beaches.

photo by panoramio.com

photo by panoramio.com

Medieval Roman villages. Five unique sub-regions. Rainfall is around 76 inches annually. You can sleep in century old estates turned into wineries. They speak Gallegos. They play the bagpipes!

Whew! I think I barely drew a breath between those last sentences as new facts popped like popcorn through my brain. Many thank yous to our host, Rías Baixas Wine. Albarino will definitely keep the Oklahoma heat at bay and Galicia is now on my travel wishlist! Grazas! 




All of these bottles were media samples courtesy of RiasBaixasWines and Protocol Winestudio in participation with the wine education forum #winestudio on twitter. The opinions and rambles are my own. Viva la Albariño!

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Week #4 in Albarino Country #winestudio


It’s going on Week #4 of discovering Albariño from Galicia in Spain with #winestudio and you might be asking  “What happened with weeks #1-3?”

Well, lots of discussion on the  Rías Baixas area, the 5 sub-regions (if you can name all 5, I’ll give you a Sooner cheer) with a plethora of mouth-watering food pairings, wine observations, and loads of wine drinking, er, tasting.  We’ve tasted a broad range of Albariño samples courtsey of Rías Baixas Wines and discovered each has similar characteristics  like siblings with familial resemblances but unique personalities. Light, buoyant in body, aromatic, citrus, stone fruit, acidity, minerals, all show up with a pronounced individuality produced by the various winemakers. I already know my favorites and thought I’d give a few highlights.



Nessa 2015 Albarino

Gran Vinum Nessa 2015 Albarino

Adegas Gran Vinum, 2015 Nessa
100% Albarino
DO Rias Baixas – Val so Salnes
SRP $17


Confession. I haven’t tasted this wine yet. I thought I’d get that out of the way up front. Something unwanted happened and it was neglected. However, it will be a warm summer refresher soon.  The small, family-run winery, Adegas Gran Vinum, was founded in 2001 by the Piñeiro Cores Family. Their vineyards are  in the sub-region of Val do Salnés on hillsides overlooking the Umia river and the Ría de Arousa.  They incorporate some of their traditional Galician farming methods such as fertilizing with clam and cockle shells and elevating the vines  on long stones raised like football goalposts to counter the high rainfall with modern technology to produce their dry Albariño.  I’m looking forward to opening the bottle.



Martin Codax 2014
100% Albarino
DO Rias Baixas – Val do Salnes
SRP $17


Wow. Upfront, this one is my favorites. I’d buy a case of this Albariño and it wouldn’t last through the humid June weather we are bound to be blessed with. Refreshingly crisp on the front and smooth on the back with great medium body. Aromatic fruit that floats effortlessly through the air, light, tart, citrus and lemony with clean crisp apple, peaches, spice and pronounced acidity. Martin Codax is making a beautifully balanced Albarino. You can simply sip it or break out the china and serve it with a light seafood supper on a humid summer night.

Notes from the winemaker:  “The 2014 growing season was cool and wet, requiring growers to carefully manage their vineyards to prevent mildew and maximize quality. Though yields were diminished, patience paid off in a long, slow growing season that allowed for excellent maturity. The results are wines with abundant aromatics, crisp acidity and bright fruit flavors.”



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Rectoral do Umia Viñabade 2014
DO Rías Baixas 100% Albariño 
SRP $15


The label is so charming with dainty azure flowers. It looks like it belongs in a garden or at least a garden party. My youngest daughter begged me to save it a while but albariño is meant to be drunk young! However, this delicate floral wine needed a strong companion on her arm. There was a faint aroma of stone fruit and when sipping alone, it fell flat with little personality. I thought I might have chilled it too much, however, paired with our newest restaurant on the block Gin Thai Fusion’s Spicy Pad Thai and Pla koong,  lime/lemon came out and cut the heat nicely. This wine just needs a partner to coax her out of her clamshell.

Founded in 2009, Rectoral do Umia winery is located in the Salñes Valley of DO Rías Baixas where they use the latest technology to produce light, crisp dry Albariño.


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Señorio de Rubiós Robaliño 2015
DO Rías Baixas 100% Albariño
SRP $18


Beautiful clear yellow with a hue of green, this albariño was great! Heady and aromatic with white peaches, floral and citrus, Robaliño delivered balanced yet high acidity and medium body and lingering finish. Wow. Immediately, you tasted citrus peel, grapefruit, kumquats and hints of peaches. As it warmed, there was a lovely mellowing out to warm limes.  It went perfect with our homemade mac n’ cheese.

Planted in the middle of the rich Condado do Tea sub-region and blessed by the Miño river’s alluvial deposits, Señorio de Rubios winery sits on a charming and tranquil land.  “Our facilities reflect the new technologies emerging in the wine world without forgetting the old traditions, which have been pillars of our wines. In them we find large stainless steel vats that share space with French oak barrels.”  – (www.senorioderubios.com)


I’m loving Albariño! If you like to sip white Bordeaux as the temperatures rise, then you’ll enjoy this refreshing Galician wine as well.  The Oklahoma temperatures are rising so I’m grateful to retreat to lush green Spain. If you find yourself frustrated by your NBA or NHL team during the playoffs than Join me, Tuesdays on twitter at 6 PST/8CST using the hashtag #winestudio.  We be  talking albariño wines and everyone’s a winner.



courtesy of RiasBaixas.com

courtesy of RiasBaixas.com







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