2010 Cycles Gladiator Syrah – California

Some of my favorite pastimes are drinking wine, watching baseball, hitting the slopes and cycling.   I’ve seen this bottle many times at wine shops and have been drawn to the label – and name!   Sniff….   deep raspberry and blueberry dominate, with some licorice and pepper too.   Dark, chewy fruit on the midpalate.   Lots of acidity on the mouthfeel that lingers on the finish.   This syrah is not easy to sip.    For some reason, I felt I could taste the alcohol in it and was surprised to see that the alcohol content was 13.5%.   Time to take out the wedge of cheddar!

Food pairing taste test results…

Cheese (sharp aged Vermont cheddar) – softens up the wine quite nicely, the creaminess of the cheese helps cut through the acidity

Dark chocolate (Truffle Gateau* Dark Chocolate Coconut) – believe it or not, this wine’s bite overpowers the chocolate!

Dark chocolate #2 (Truffle Gateau Dark Chocolate Expresso) – WIN.   Absolutely loving this combo…   this expresso-laced chocolate brings out mocha notes in the wine and balances it out.    



On its own – Single

Cheese and Expresso chocolate – Double


2009 Flasq Merlot – San Luis Obispo California

Wine in a flask!   Or rather, Flasq.   I love hiking and camping, so wine in a lightweight aluminum container is a pretty cool concept to me.  In addition to merlot, Flasq has a Cuvee Blanc and chardonnay, both of which I’d really like to find and try!   The merlot has big ripe red raspberry on the nose, plum and a tiny bit of cayenne pepper.   As expected, lots of big ripe berry fruit on the midpalate and finish.   The pepper lingers a bit as well, but this is mostly raspberries and blackberries galore.   Would I buy this to serve with filet mignon at home?   It wouldn’t be my first choice.   I like steak with wine that has a bit more of a backbone.   But I would bring this bottle on a hike, kayaking trip (going Sunday, woohoo!) or camping?   Definitely.   And would I pair this with my favorite campfire foods –  hot dogs and S’mores?   Can’t wait!

$6.99/half bottle


Pinot Days San Francisco 2012

Pinot Noir is my favorite grape, so I always look forward to Pinot Days.   Over 100 pinot noir producers participate, and I’m always happy to visit my perennial favorites as well as discover new ones.   

My first stop was Landmark Vineyards, and I really enjoyed all of their pinots.   My favorite at Landmark was the 2010 Spring Hill – it smelled like raspberries and fall foliage, with sour cherry and clove on the finish.   The 2010 Grand Detour was also amazing…  lots of strawberry and spice.   

Kanzler Vineyards was next, and I had a bottle of their 2009 pinot back in January – it tasted great!   Their wines are small production, and I know that if I like what they are pouring I have to act quickly if I want to buy the bottle.   Sure enough, only 272 cases of the 2010 pinot were produced.   It is a nice one, with cranberry, blueberry and vanilla – big fruit, drinking great now but will be even better in a year or so.   I’ll definitely pick up a bottle and try to keep it for a year.  

I’ve been a Sojourn fan for a while now, and recommend their tasting room to anyone who is visiting Sonoma.   It is right off of the Sonoma square, right near lots of cute shops and restaurants.   They were pouring their single vineyard pinots, and today my favorite was the 2010 Gaps Crown – love the black cherry and creamy vanilla on this one.   I have two bottles of the 2009 Gaps Crown and can’t wait to open them!

Meiomi is another perennial favorite, and I’ve been drinking their 2010 pinot pretty often so I was excited to see that they were pouring the 2011 vintage.   I recommend the Meiomi pinot to my friends and also choose it as the pinot to pour at parties and events since it is in the $20 range.   I have yet to find a better pinot than Meiomi for <$25.   Cranberry, baking spices, and strawberry are the dominent characteristics.   The 2011 is tasting fabulous now, and I can’t wait to see how it evolves in the bottle!

Clouds Rest had a special on PBS called Pinot Noir, the Holy Grail of Wine.    Their property is stunning!   Must plan a visit.   Their 2009 Sonoma Coast Femme Fatale is great – silky fruit, complex spices, simply gorgeous.   The 2007 is also awesome, and I even got to try an ’04 pinot and it is still holding up nicely.

Next stop, C. Donatiello!   I am a big fan of their chardonnay, and their pinots are delicious too.   The 2009 Russian River pinot is rich with cranberry/boysenberry, vanilla and exotic spices.   The finish was dark, and I can tell this one has some staying power.  

So many great pinot producers, so little time!   Check out the Pinot Days website for more information about this awesome event :-)