• TasteUp #4

    September 24, 2018 16:02

    TasteUp #4

    We started these virtual meet ups with the help of Robert Larsen of The Larsen Projekt. Through this we connected with wine bloggers around the country last year in celebration of what is new and exciting at Pedroncelli in our 90th year. In September we completed our 4th of 5 gatherings for our 91st year.

    We invite wine bloggers from Texas, Illinois, Virginia, New York, Oregon, California, Iowa and Maryland to join us and we usually have between 12-15 who all log on at 4pm Pacific Time to chat for an hour. We send them the wines, the recipe and usually an ingredient from the recipe to help them along-this time it was dried Porcini mushrooms to go into the Slow Cooker Beef with Pasta and Porcini.

    Preparation on our part includes fixing the dish and taking photos of the process, prepping with background information on each wine along with winemaking notes and winemaker quotes, pouring the three wines we featured: our 2016 Pinot Noir and Merlot along with our 2014 Wisdom Cabernet Sauvignon. We aim to have two of the wines pair up perfectly with the dish and, in this instance, the third wine, Pinot Noir, became the 'sipping' wine before the main event.

    What is so interesting about the hour is we have a dozen people tasting the wines individually and posting their thoughts (at the same time across three time zones), asking questions, posting their tasting notes, bottle shots, their take on the recipe as well as telling us what they did differently-making it low carb or not using the slow cooker method because time is of the essence. It is a great conversation to have while Ed and I, at the winery, scroll and type furiously while answering questions and engaging our friends. We look forward to our fifth and final taste up later this year. Now I get to have fun finding the next recipe as we've already picked out some great wines.

    If you'd like to follow the whole conversation click this link to #tasteup4

    The beginning of deliciousness. Slow cooker ready.

  • Hitting the Brix

    August 13, 2015 14:56

    Sampling the grapes from a vineyard block determines how ready or close we are to picking them. Today’s post is about vineyard sampling.

    Judging when a varietal is ready for harvest is crucial. There are quite a few headlines about early harvest this year but keep in mind that many of these vineyards are destined for sparkling wine production. Needless to say we’ll be harvesting our first grapes, Sauvignon Blanc, next Monday. This is a few days earlier than last year but not the earliest on record-that would be August 11, 2004. Taking a vineyard sample is the way all wineries determine when to pick.

    So how is it done? The vineyard manager or foreman will walk through a vineyard block to take a sampling of berries from random vines, culling a good cross section of grapes. The sample is brought back to the winery and analyzed in the lab. There are three main and very important indicators from the sample: brix (sugar), titratable acidity and pH. Ideally the winemaker wants all three to be in balance-you may have the sugar but are lacking perhaps in acidity. The waiting begins as the sampling takes place over the course of a couple of weeks leading up to the big day. Of course you can always test berries in the field using a refractometer which will give you a quick reading. For accuracy’s sake the lab test helps determine the optimum levels in the three important areas indicating the right time to pick. Here is a great video (a very geeky one in my opinion, love the voice-over) on how it is done, thanks to Yakima Valley Community College. A toast to harvest as we get closer to our 2015 vintage.

    A beauty shot of our Merlot from a previous vintage looking luscious.

    Merlot grapes bunch

  • Varietally Speaking: Merlot

    May 13, 2015 12:57

    This month I am posting about the grapes we grow in order of the most widely planted on our vineyards. Merlot is next on the list. Merlot. Need I say more? It has been a much maligned grape in the last 10-15 years (darn it Sideways!) and I believe mistakenly so because it makes a great wine, softer than Cabernet Sauvignon, with great structure. Even grocery chain scans continue to show it is one of the top varietals purchased. Possibly due, in part, because there are 45,000 acres planted in the state of California not including the rest of the world? It is second only to Cabernet Sauvignon in tons crushed in the state. There are 5500 acres planted in Sonoma County, around 1000 in Dry Creek Valley and we have 12 acres on our estate.

    Sometimes Merlot stands in the shadows since it is known as a blending grape especially in France (part of the Bordeaux blends you hear about). We have used it to soften our Cabernet Sauvignon and even our Sangiovese at times. A grape of intense color but mild mannered it is also the base for our blend. Grown on the bench just above the valley floor we usually get about 6 tons per acre. The average going price per ton here in Sonoma County is $1600. Overall Merlot is a good choice when looking for a wine that is friendly to the palate. Or look for wines where it plays a pivotal role as it adds a soft touch, mild tannins and lots of flavor. Merlot in my Dino coming up!

    Merlot at harvest time, ready for its' moment in the limelight.

    Merlot grape bunch

  • Dear Dino

    November 13, 2014 13:07

    Wine and food. Both are a passion for me. I am sure you have heard of ‘food friendly’ wines or the perfect pairing between a wine and a certain recipe. While on the road visiting my markets I talk about the relationship between the two quite a bit. It comes up in conversation especially when presenting wines at a restaurant account. Retailers are also interested because it helps them with customer service. When someone arrives at 5pm looking for dinner wine, they can offer choices that will go well with the meal. I learned a few years ago that one of the best ways to pair wine with food is this: a foundation of fat, fat and a little more fat. I am going overboard here but make sure there is some fat in the dish to build a bridge between the flavors whether it is butter in a sauce, a rich stew or a nicely marbled steak. I think this is why cheese is such a good choice when it comes to a great pairing with wine. These richer foods blend nicely with a wine framed by acidity and medium tannins. When a wine is in balance (the definition of a food friendly wine) there won’t be a battle between the two in your mouth. From my kitchen to yours, eat and drink well.

    Here are some of my suggested pairings with our Merlot- explore our recipe index for more ideas