Tag Archives: Zinfandel

Traveling Tuesday’s – Ravenswood Tasting Room

Most of you will know Ravenswood for all the grocery store wines they produce. Sure, they are a great value, but maybe not what you’re looking for in a wine country experience. Fear not. Their tasting room, nestled in the hills above Sonoma, is an inviting environment where I could see myself spending a lazy afternoon sipping great wine while being entertained by the knowledgeable staff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were greeted initially by one man, then two more appeared as the bar began to receive more guests. I could tell they all had been working together for a long time as they had excellent movement behind the bar and interaction with each other.

First in the glass was an off-dry Guwurtztraminer (one of my favorite styles) followed by a 300 case production Chardonnay. Both were very nice wines that I could find many uses for in my quest for great food pairings every month. A quick stop at Rose of Zinfandel (not White Zin) and Syrah before heading to the bigger red wine offerings.

Ravenswood’s slogan is NO WIMPY WINES! And I would agree with their viewpoint. All the wines stood up and said “HERE I AM”, but in a nice fashion. Many times ‘big’ wines end up being out of balance and are trading their style for winemaking finesse. But here the wines all had unique character from each other (even the five Zinfandel wines they were pouring had distinct flavors). This is no easy feat. It takes a lot of winemaking and grape growing talent to let the vineyard shine as it did with these wines.

And here’s where the experience in the room gets great. They do have some of the wines you find at the grocery store in the tasting room, however, the majority of what they pour and sell there is all small production wines available only there or through the wine club. And it shows. The wine quality is above average for the price points and I wouldn’t kick any of them out of bed.

I couldn’t help but stop and enjoy the view….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though it was going to be close to 70-degrees today, it was a chilly morning and the fire was a nice touch….

 

 

 

 

 

 

My pick of the day was the Chauvet Zinfandel from a vineyard in Glen Ellen. It’s a field blend of Zin, Carignane, and Petite Sirah. Field blends are when all the different grapes get blended together as the vineyard is picked or on the crush pad. There’s a small number of them because of the risky venture of blending before fermentation. Once blended, you can’t unblend. This particular one was very tasty and ready to drink. Why wait, right?

Next time you’re in Sonoma, take the short drive up the hill to the tasting room. You’ll be surprised at the number of wines available only in the tasting room as well as the high quality of the juice.

Cheers!

 

 

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Willi’s Wine Bar

Last night I had my first experience with Willi’s Wine Bar. I know, I know I’ve lived in wine country for almost five years – what took me so long? I guess I was just waiting for the right time.

Willi’s is a “small plates” restaurant with a good size wine list. It’s located just off 101 in Santa Rosa, in the eastern part of Russian River Valley. It’s almost located in the center of Sonoma County. Fitting since they offer wines from all over the area. But the wines aren’t just from the area, they also have wines represented from many countries.

I started with this Dr. Loosen dry Riesling from Germany.

This wine was lively, full of stone fruit and paired wonderfully with these truffle fries….

Next came these puppies….

Goat cheese fritters! And this black pepper, sliced peach and prosciutto flat bread….

And then a glass of Porter Bass Russian River estate Zinfandel. Somewhere in here there was curried crab tacos, but the savory plate that topped all of them….

Moroccan style lamb chops with lemon couscous. This was fall off the bone, perfectly prepared lamb. And I know, I did grow up next to a sheep farm.

But there’s more! Of course, there’s more. I can never leave without dessert. Warm Scharffen flourless chocolate cake and olive oil crepes with lavender roasted strawberries and housemade strawberry ice cream…

Everything was very well executed and had tons of flavor. Many times when we go out to dinner, we take wine with us, but with the way Willi’s is set up (you can order tastes, glasses, 1/2 bottles or whole bottles of everything on the list), I don’t think I’d ever see a reason to bring wine¬† – there are just too many options!

I’m already plotting my return….

Cheers!

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Filed under Wine Country, Wine, Food, Sonoma

Meritage (Martini, Oyster Bar & Grill)

Last night we celebrated my last day at my job by going to one of our favorite restaurants in Sonoma….

Meritage (Martini, Oyster Bar & Grill), located just steps off the Sonoma plaza has some of the best food in town. The produce used in the dishes is picked fresh that morning (often by chef Carlo Cavallo himself). We almost always end up eating three courses of food here and last night was no exception.

We started with Pan Fried Oysters….

You likely won’t believe it, but I’ve never had oysters before. I figured this was a good way (and a great place) to start. The appetizer did not disappoint. It was very flavorful and the acid from the lemon added a nice brightness to the dish. We also had parmesan truffle fries and bruschetta too. Both very tasty.

And, of course, I started with a martini (because when you go to a restaurant with the word martini in the name, it’s a requirement)….

This one was a Hendrick Gin martini with olives. My new favorite bar drink.

Wait, no wine? Yes, of course there was wine. Two bottles, in fact….

A 2009 Cuvaison Zinfandel from Bald Mountain Vineyard up on Mt. Veeder. These vines are about 45 years old and are producing some outstanding fruit. And a 2002 Arrowood Vineyards Reserve Cabernet. Reserve at Arrowood means a barrel select from all mountain fruit.

Wine tasting tip: Reserve does not have a legal meaning, so ask the source of the wine what it means for their winery.

For the main course, I chose a New York strip steak with mashed potatoes and vegetables….

I didn’t like it all….

If only I had thought about scraping up the sauce with one of the pieces of bread.

As if I wasn’t stuffed enough already there was then dessert! Starting with house made gelato…

And their version of creme brulee, chocolate torte and panna cotta….

Not to be out done by the refreshing sorbet….

The amount of flavor that Carlo packs into his cuisine is really quite amazing. The food and the friendly staff keeps us coming back again and again. Next time you’re in Sonoma go for a visit. You won’t be disappointed.

Cheers!

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Filed under Wine, Food, Sonoma