Wine And Cheese Friday http://wineandcheesefriday.lan reviews of Wines, Cheeses and all things related Fri, 11 Jan 2019 17:01:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Dracaena Wines Cabernet Franc and Lazy Lady Farm Duet Cheese http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/dracaena-wines-cabernet-franc-and-lazy-lady-farm-duet-cheese/ Fri, 11 Jan 2019 16:52:13 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=3127 Dracaena Wines Cabernet Franc 2015 and Lazy Lady Farm Duet Cheese

This was the last bottle of 2015 Cabernet Franc by Dracaena Wines, and we got to pair it with some fancy cheese from Vermont! We purchased this bottle of wine direct from Lori during our visit out to Paso Robles back in the summer, . I knew I’d want to find a special cheese to pair with it so I hung on to the bottle for a bit. Since we travel full-time and have no wine cellar, we decided to send it off to my mom and enjoy it in New England in a couple months. Early on in our visit to New England, we planned a trip out to Vermont and we knew we’d find a nice cheese there. We purchased the Lazy Lady Farm duet cheese at our first stop of the day, Grafton Village Store. Grafton, VT not only has a cool cheese shop, there is also a covered bridge, tons of foliage, and an old library. We enjoyed so much wine during the Summertime, that we were happy to have this bottle saved for a later day. Without further ado, the pairing of Dracaena Wines Cabernet Franc and Lazy Lady Farm Duet Cheese.

Grafton Village Store, Grafton, VT

We first tried the Cabernet Franc right in the vineyard where the grapes were grown! What an amazing experience. We began by swirling the glass to open up the wine but still Neil exclaimed “That’s a big wine!” This wine definitely had black fruit aromas, including grapes and blackberries but we could also tell it was dry and herbaceous. We noticed some sensations once we tasted it, it was not only smooth but also warm on my tongue. Neil found it to taste jammy with a spice finish but I thought it was a big, dark berry finish. We both agreed it was a good wine!

Lazy Lady Farm Duet Cheese 1

The cheese was oh so funky in the refrigerator! We actually had to double bag it until we were ready to do the pairing. Once we opened up the package for our tasting, we noticed the rind was wrinkly like skin. Neil described the aromas as Super Funk and like a cave but once we cut open the ball of cheese, it smelled so milky. This cheese is called Duet because it’s made from both sheep and goat milk. As you taste the cheese, the second layer comes through and the flavor changes to tart from the ash in the cheese. Neil thought it started a little sweet like the fat in heavy cream but then it changed to a rocky flavor.

Lazy Lady Farm Duet cheese 2

The milk was oozing out and we guessed this could have been the sheep milk since the smooth, thick part seemed like goat’s milk. The texture was the perfect amount of meltiness! The flavor both tingled the tongue and had a rich funk to it. What a flavorful cheese that lingered so nicely. After all this talk about the cheese, I wonder how it will pair with the wine?

The cabernet franc appeared to change once we paired it with the cheese. The wine smelled more fruity, less like dark fruit, and more like red fruits now with grapes and some earth. The flavor of the wine changed too to be more earthy with dark fruit but lighter. Neil agreed with how it changed and called it “brighter”. The cheese changed too! Still smelling milky but the cheese felt thicker with more milk in the flavor and not nearly as funky. Neil also picked up more salt, more goat cheese and more butter in the flavor. It seems the wine and cheese changed each other as well as created more of a balance. What a good pairing and a versatile wine!

Since this pairing took place around Halloween, we decided to pair it with some candy bars, as a bonus pairing. I’ve heard a lot about pairing wine with candy bars but never had a chance to try it. We had caramel Twix, Milky Way and Snickers. My guess was that the caramel would taste good with the wine but not the cookie. Surprisingly the cookie in the Twix really didn’t make much difference. In all three options, the wine became more earthy and the candy seemed soft and smooth. Maybe the oak from the wine softened the candy? I think I’ll stick with pairing wine and cheese, but it was a fun experiment!

Dracaena Wines 2015 Cabernet Franc and Halloween Candy

Savor the Flavor 2018 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/savor-the-flavor-2018/ Fri, 28 Dec 2018 22:40:07 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=3115 We came up with the idea for the Savor the Flavor entry at the end of 2017,, to showcase some noteworthy wines from the year. We’ve decided to continue the tradition for 2018. One of the ways we were able to really Savor the Flavor this year was by using our Vacu Vin. Have you ever tried these? They are wine vacuums/pumps that suck the air out of the bottle in order to preserve them longer. We were able to keep one of the bottles for two weeks! Can’t say I was ever able to do that in the past.

One of the other bottles, we took a different approach to recording our wine tasting notes. We knew it was a higher caliber wine than what we usually drink. We figured the flavors would continue to evolve throughout the night, so we wrote down our notes every 30-45 minutes. It was amazing how much it really did change!

We hope this might influence some of you to extend the life of your bottle for a few days too so you can fully experience the flavor evolution too!

Josh Cellars Zinfandel 2015

Josh Cellars Zinfandel

Day 1
Paired with burger – guacamole kicks up spice in wine

aromas: fruity, vanilla
flavors: fruit, soft, dry finish, spice in finish
N Wow that’s jammy! Nice and big. It’s been a while since we found a wine like this.

Day 4
After Vacu Vin
aromas: grape, black and red berries, soft, vanilla
flavor: some dryness, Lots of flavor! dark berry, soft, maybe chocolate too, hint of spice.
N more jammy than the first night. That wines good!
We both really liked it!

Day 6
aromas: soft fruit, red licorice
flavors: spice, prunes, still pretty good but think the flavors on Day 4 were peak.
N sweeter and spicier, still good

Amazed that it lasted that long due to Vacu Vin!
First time trying out Vacu Vin

Artesa Pinot Noir 2014

Artesa Pinot Noir

Day 1
aromas: hint of sweet berry, cherry, maybe earth
flavors: spice, fruit, cherry cola, feels a little light
Neil said it was better than the Kenwood Pinot Noir from a few weeks back but it’s a different price range of Pinot. This one really good.

A few days later:
Smells great!
aromas: berries and flowers
flavors: juicy and earthy

Kept it for like 2 weeks and was still ok by the end.
Pretty awesome it lasted that long and it was a very good Pinot!

Anton Bauer Zweigelt Syrah Merlot Rosé 2017

Anton Bauer Rosé
Zweigelt Syrah Merlot blend

Day 1
paired it with Chile Rellenos for dinner

aromas: light fruit, maybe some oak, seemed to have more flavor than aroma.
flavors: hint of effervescent, flavor fills my mouth, strawberry vanilla, soft
N good rosé, liked the pairing with hot sauce on chile rellenos

Day 2
aromas: minerals
flavors: cherry and juicy

Another day
aromas: floral and fruit
flavors: very flavorful, candy finish
N spicier than he remembered

This is not a light crisp rose, it’s a little heavier.

Castello di Verduno Barbaresco 2014

Castello di Verduno Barbaresco

Paired with Pasta and Portobello mushrooms

Before Dinner
puckery cherry
chocolate, light cherry, yum
chocolate & dark berry aromas, acid, tart, graphite flavors, tingles tongue
getting jammy, spicy finish

With Dinner
spice temp goes away with dinner
acid seems to increase with dinner

After Dinner
licorice, pine tree? pine sap, dry flavor

Later on that night
the wine that was sitting in glass tastes dry
when poured from bottle, it’s not as dry but juicy too.

We tracked the progress of the wine throughout the night.
It was quite the evolution of flavors, all in one day!

Scratch Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Scratch Cabernet Sauvignon
California-Santa Cruz Mountains

Day 1
aromas: dark fruit, smoke and meat
flavors: feels light, nice berries, dry, prunes, kind of juicy too, soft too
N Smells so good! Needs to open up more but still good.
Kristy thought it was more like a blend, agreed it’s not like a traditional cab.
Sam was sad he couldn’t have more but we had plenty left for the next day.

Later on that night
N big fruit, so crazy
M agreed it seems like a blend and even identified spice too

Day 2
aromas: chipotle bbq sauce, smoky and sweet
flavors: brown sugar baked beans

We drank this wine with Sam and Kristy on Cabernet Sauvignon Day.
They couldn’t believe how many flavors can be found in wine and how strange it was that it changed so much over one night!

Wines of Instagram http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/wines-of-instagram/ Fri, 14 Dec 2018 22:41:07 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=3087 IG cover image

In December each year, we come up with some wine compilation entries to showcase some wines we tried throughout the year. This year we posted quite a few wines to Instagram that you might not have heard about. If you have an Instagram account, follow us @winecheesefri. If you don’t use Instagram, you’re in luck because you can still see our posts below. There’s even a direct link to each post if you want to read through the comments or see a little more about each one.

We had a lot of fun this year trying out all new themes. There was a wine cocktail, greek wines, a Barbaresco, side by side rosé tastings but obviously wine and cheese too! These were just a few of our favorites, there’s lots more for you to see if you go directly to our profile page.

Astica Malbec Merlot and Torrontes Wines in Panama

National Cheeselover’s Day in Panama
Argentinian wine brand-Astica

Castello di Verduno Barbaresco in Durham, NC

A Trip to Wine Authorities in Durham, NC
Barbaresco DOC wine

Neil with La Vielle Ferme Rose in Durham, NC

La Vielle Ferme Rosé

Wine Cocktail with Cuvee de Barons and St Germain

Wine Cocktail with French bubbles and St. Germain

Presque Isle Wine Cellars Creekside Red in Erie, PA

Wine and a hot tub, how can you go wrong with this pairing?

Zoe by Skouras Winery and Estate Hatzimichalis Merlot Greek wines

Trying out a new wine region-Greece
Zoe by Skouras Winery
Merlot from Estate Hatzimichalis

Walts Wharf tasting flights in Seal Beach, CA

Walt’s Wharf Tasting flight in Seal Beach, CA
Chenin blanc
Grenache blanc

Saladini Pilastri Pecorino Wine with Pecorino Bean Salad

Pecorino Wine with Pecorino Bean Salad
Saladini Pilastri Pecorino Wine

Humboldt Fog, Valdeon, Alp Blossom and Dry Jack cheeses with magnums of Saint Aubin 1st Cru, Jura De toute Beaute, Chateau Cap de Faugeres, Wittman Spatburgunder, rotwein trocken in San Francisco, CA

A visit to Cheese Plus and Geoff’s Wine Cellar!
Humboldt Fog, Valdeon, Alp Blossom and Dry Jack cheeses
Saint Aubin 1st Cru
Jura De toute Beaute
Chateau Cap de Faugeres
Wittman Spatburgunder Rotwein Trocken

Bernard Baudry Chinon rose and Charles Joguet Rose Chinon comparison

Chinon Rosés x 2
Charles Joguet Rosé Chinon
Bernard Baudry Chinon Rosé

Scratch Wines, Carmel by the Sea, CA http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/scratch-wines-carmel-by-the-sea-ca/ Fri, 07 Dec 2018 19:06:12 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=3076 Scratch Wines Tasting Room, Carmel by the Sea, CA

We were able to visit a second tasting room, during our visit to Carmel by the Sea. Coincidentally, this was another brand we learned about from the Pink Society. Scratch Wines was the featured guest, only days before we arrived in California. Carmel by the Sea isn’t a very big town but Scratch was just down the road from Holman Ranch. During the chat, I had found out that this tasting room is in a shared space with an art gallery, what a great idea! There wasn’t anyone else in the tasting room when we arrived so we had a private tasting with Ally, who happily shared some cheese recommendations to try with the Scratch Wines.

Scratch Wines Tasting Room, Carmel by the Sea, CA 2

The winemaker for Scratch Wines is Sabrine, who began working with Wrath Wines a few years back. They had an agreement that after she worked for them for a few years, she’d be able to begin her own brand and use their equipment, and along came Scratch. She makes the wine for both brands now but sources different varietals for Scratch so she can mix it up a little. They find it to be a good supportive relationship.

Scratch Wines, Carmel by the Sea, CA

Since Scratch Wines sources their grapes, they had many different grapes as well as AVAs included in their tasting.

2014 Riesling, Arroyo Seco
2017 Rosé, Monterey
2013 KW Ranch Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands
2014 Grenache, Arroyo Seco
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains

The tasting began with a Riesling from Arroyo Seco. There were so many aromas jumping from the glass as we swirled this wine! We identified bright aromas of lemon curd, minerals, chalk, petrol and honey. The flavor was rich, smooth, tart, and round with notes of pineapple, slight caramel and minerals. What a tasty way to start!

Scratch Wines Pinot Noir Rosé, Monterey, CA

The Pink Society says #YesWayRose and #RoseAllDay so we knew this next wine from the chat. How could you forget a wine with a gas mask on it? The labels are definitely a big part of the Scratch Wines experience! They were all commissioned to feature and empower women, a theme they share with the Pink Parties.

I described the rosé aroma as strawberry lemonade which Neil found to be more like flowers, strawberries and acid. This Pinot Noir rosé tasted soft, tart, and fruity with a noticeable acid. Neil thought the flavor was more like strawberry lemonade with a green apple flare.

We continued with a Pinot Noir from KW Ranch, which tasted and smelled pretty different from all the Pinot’s we’ve been trying down in Santa Barbara County. We noticed aromas of earth, smoke, licorice, blackberries and nutmeg. The flavors included berry, cherry, earth, plum, and anise. It was more of an Earth-driven Pinot Noir that we both enjoyed.

Wine Tasting at Scratch Wines, Carmel by the Sea, CA

The Grenache from Arroyo Seco was pretty bold too. The vineyard is in a location that is warmer than Carmel and their soil is pretty rocky, both of these factors contribute to the big aromas and flavors of the wine. Aromas included black licorice, black pepper, charcoal, earth, berries and steak. As we sipped the wine, that rocky soil certainly comes through in the flavor. There is also big berry fruit, barbecue notes and big spice. This dry wine made Neil describe it as warm and perhaps “giving his tongue a sweater.”

Our final wine of the tasting, was a Cabernet Sauvignon. Neil and I don’t typically gravitate toward this grape but this one really changed our minds. It did smell like a “big Cab” to Neil upon first sniff but there were aromas of dark fruits, black pepper, plum, prunes, raisins and some sweetness, once we thought a little more. The flavors were pretty similar with dark fruit, spice, berries, prune, blackberry and it was dry. We liked it so much that Neil exclaimed “Best Cab I’ve ever had!” I think it reminded me of Zinfandel which is probably why I liked it so much.

Scratch Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA

Once Ally saw how much we liked the wine, she told us a little more about it. She said this flagship wine is Sabrine’s favorite and uses a premium level of grapes. They actually model this Cab after the Ridge Monte Bello wine that comes from the same region. It didn’t take much to convince us to take home a bottle. Our timing even worked out that we could enjoy it on Cabernet Sauvignon day (only a few days later). Our friends really enjoyed it too!

What a great find with Scratch Wines! I knew there were cool labels from the Pink Party but who knew how much we would enjoy the wines? There was also such a great mix of different grapes. Maybe we should take a second trip to Carmel by the Sea, we’re two for two for tasting rooms. I should check back with the Pink Party to see if they have featured any other wineries here?

Holman Ranch Tasting Room, Carmel by the Sea, CA http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/holman-ranch-tasting-room-carmel-by-the-sea-ca/ Fri, 30 Nov 2018 21:05:32 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=3064 Holman Ranch Tasting Room, Carmel by the Sea, CA

We first learned about Holman Ranch during a #PinkSociety #PinkParty ( in June. I was fortunate to try out their Susan’s Saignee Rosé during the chat. As I swirled and sipped the wine, I found out more about the 400 acre ranch in Carmel Valley. One of the questions was about the tasting room in Carmel by the Sea. Not only are there many tasting rooms to enjoy in this town, it’s also “by the sea” and beautiful. Well, I was convinced to include Holman Ranch’s tasting room in Carmel by the Sea in our Sideways Wine Tour. We left Paso Robles, driving along route 101 up the California coast, and along the dark and windy roads until we arrived at our cabin in Carmel By the Sea.

Maria & Neil at Carmel Beach City Park, Carmel, CA

The next day began with coffees and snacks on the beach and although it was gray, it was strangely warm. We eased into the day and made our way to town early that afternoon to begin wine tasting. The Holman Ranch tasting room is a rustic gem that brings the ranch to you. We were greeted by Sally and Nick, and we happily told them that we’d tasted their wine during the Pink Party a few months back. Our tasting included wines from Holman Ranch as well as their Jarman Reserve line.

Holman Ranch Tasting Room 2, Carmel by the Sea, CA

Our hosts told us a little more about the winery and property. Tom and Susan are the winery’s proprietors; therefore the rosé is named after her. Jarman was Tom’s first wife who died of Alzheimer’s. The Reserve line was created to honor her and a portion of the money is donated towards Alzheimer’s research. The grapes used in the Jarman wines are usually from a higher elevation, although all of the grapes on Holman Ranch are grown around 1000 feet elevation. This elevation creates hot days and cool winds near the coast. Holman Ranch is a large property that has horses as well as grapes. The vineyard is actually only 18 acres so they produce about 3000 cases of wine each year. What does that mean to all of us? We should savor their wines, so let the tasting begin.

2017 Estate Chardonnay
2017 Susan’s Saignée Rosé
2014 Jarman Brut Rosé
2014 Three Brothers Pinot Noir
2014 Jarman Pinot Noir

Holman Ranch Wine Tasting, Carmel by the Sea, CA

Our first wine, a Chardonnay, is made with new french oak barrels. I picked up crisp, citrus and honey aromas but Neil felt it was more like vanilla and pear. After sipping the wine, Neil picked up apple and vanilla flavors, although I thought it was clean, mineral, citrus and a light wine. Isn’t wine tasting interesting!

This would be our second time trying Susan’s Saignee Rosé so we wondered if it would be familiar. I thought the aromas were crisp, mineral and a light strawberry. Neil also identified the strawberry aromas but added in flowers similar to buttercup as well. He found the wine to be round with lime flavors and described it as very pleasant. It was light and crisp with citrus flavors and an oak finish. Last time we tried this wine, we paired it with cheese and it became even more complex. I liked it better that day with the cheese.

Jarman Brut Rose Magnum

There were two rosés available to taste so we continued on with the Jarman Rosé, a magnum sized bottle prepared with fine bubbles. This sparkling wine was light with aromas of oak and toast. We both enjoyed sipping this wine with its crisp, clean, fruity flavors. This wine had not only citrus but also lots of apple and a nice amount of acid.

Holman Ranch mainly grows Pinot Noir in their vineyard so we couldn’t wait to begin tasting the Three Brother’s Pinot Noir. What a collection of aromas! We picked up berry, raspberry, earth, cherry, a tiny bit of smoke and it was woodsy. The wine had a light to medium body, cedar, vanilla, dark fruit, berries and cherry flavors with a dry finish. We both concurred that it was a pleasant Pinot Noir!

We’d be wrapping up our tasting with the Jarman Pinot Noir, a reserve level wine that is aged for 10 months in mainly one-time-use oak barrels. Since this is new oak, it definitely contributes to the flavor of the wine. We noticed smoke aromas, woody and mahogany notes all from the barrel. The wine had fruit too, strawberry and cassis aromas with black cherry flavors. Neil found this wine to be smooth, balanced and more elegant than the Three Brother’s but I preferred our previous Pinot Noir. In my opinion, this wine smelled like menthol and tasted dry, and tart as well as earthy.

I’m happy we had heard about Holman Ranch that Thursday evening on the PinkParty. Not only did we get to extend our Sideways Wine Tour even farther through California, but also we tasted some nice wines and made our way to Carmel by the Sea. If you have a chance to visit this cute little town, we’d recommend going to the Holman Ranch tasting room to savor their wines and quality olive oils.

Although we didn’t end up pairing our Three Brother’s Pinot Noir with cheese, we did have it during a delicious salmon dinner, see our IG page.

Holman Ranch Pinot Noir and Olive Oil Tasting

Tablas Creek Vineyard, Paso Robles, CA http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/tablas-creek-vineyard-paso-robles-ca/ Sat, 17 Nov 2018 14:59:43 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=3044 Fall VINsider Shipment at Tablas Creek, Paso Robles, CA

There was one place remaining in our big intro to Paso Robles wine tasting day, Tablas Creek Vineyard. Lori told us it was a must-visit to close out our day and when we found out that Tablas Creek was instrumental in the AVA too, we knew we had to continue tasting. (Rough life, I know). The tasting room opened in 2000 and this winery was the first to plant Rhone varietals in Paso. They are actually the ones who brought the grapes from France through Cornell University. Well now I’m even more excited to taste! As we walked through their front patio, we saw the mother vines of these original varietals. I can already tell this is going to be a great tasting!

Tablas Creek Vineyard, Paso Robles, CA

We worked with Cindy that day and she told us how innovative the winery is! They currently use biodynamic growing practices in their vineyard and soon they will also be dry farming. This part of California has an interesting environment. Ocean crusted bones and shells in the earth as well as nearby sulfur springs show through in their wines. Tablas Creek is a great resource for all things winery and vineyard related too, check out their blog. Seems like a great place to have on your list of places to visit.

Their main tasting menu contains 6 or 7 wines for $15 but they have many other wines available to try if you see something you are curious about. That was the case when we were there. Since all of us are in the wine industry, we each found a few wines to ask about.

Côtes de Tablas Blanc 2015 (viognier, grenache blanc, marsanne, roussanne)
Roussanne 2015
Picpoul Blanc 2017
Esprit de Tablas Blanc 2013 (roussanne, grenache blanc, picpoul blanc)
Picardan 2017
Vermentino 2017
Dianthus Rosé 2017 (mourvedre, grenache noir, counoise)
Patelin de Tablas Rosé 2017 (grenache noir, mourvedre, syrah, counoise)
Côtes de Tablas 2016 (grenache noir, syrah, mourvedre, counoise)
Grenache 2016
Esprit de Tablas 2015 (mourvedre, grenache noir, syrah, counoise)

Tablas Creek Vineyard 2015 Roussanne

Out of all the wines we tried, half of them were white wines. Its not all that often that you even find this many whites to try! Our tasting began with the Côtes de Tablas Blanc, a wine with floral, mineral and clean aromas. We both picked up the acid in the wine but I found it to also have mineral, oak and dry flavors. Neil thought this wine tasted like petrol and was a bit syrupy. Roussanne, a wine that is often compared to Chardonnay, is one I take every chance to taste. This white had oak, toast, soft, buttery, caramel and citrus aromas. Neil picked up round, citrus, oak and honey flavors. I thought it was light with an oak flavor, but couldn’t find the buttery caramel flavors that I usually look forward to. I’ve never tried a Picpoul Blanc wine before but Lori did a segment on it for Winephabet Street if you’d like to learn more. I’m always excited to try something new so let’s see what this white tastes like? I noticed mineral, light and honey aromas. There was a good mouth feel, light, soft and tart, mineral, clean, and floral flavors. Wow that’s all kinds of aromas and flavors. I’ll have to keep my eye out for this varietal in the future.

Wine Tasting at Tablas Creek, Paso Robles with Lori and Vegas

Continuing through the white wines, we tasted the Espirit de Tablas Blanc, the flagship white wine. I noticed the aroma of Roussanne and toast while I swirled the wine. Neil described the aroma as honey, citrus and melon. The flavor was filled with smoke, funk and smooth texture. Neil found it to be rich and balanced with mineral flavors. Next we tried another new varietal, Picardan. I can’t say I’ve had a white wine before that had black licorice aromas, how interesting! In addition to the black licorice, I noticed dry, honey and mineral aromas and Neil added in a lemon aroma. Neil noticed mineral, lemon and oak flavors. I thought this wine was crisp and light with honey and spice. Another wine that I always try to taste is Vermentino, some of you might remember that I tried this wine at the very beginning of, I’ve continued to taste it out of curiosity. This one had lemon and mineral aromas and Neil described the flavor as lemon and citrus. I tasted fruit and minerals with a crisp flavor and a chalky feel on my teeth. I’d say these are all similar tasting notes to that first time I tried it but it’s worth continuing to taste.

Tablas Creek carries two rosés, which we’ve been really enjoying this summer so we knew we’d be comparing them. We began with the Dianthus Rosé that was filled with light, soft, citrus and mineral aromas. As we sipped it the wine was dry with a strawberry flavor, spice, and a crispness. The Patelin Rosé smelled like citrus and I could feel the acid on my teeth. This wine reminded me of pink lemonade while Neil described it as well-balanced and tasty.

Tablas Creek Vineyard 2016 Granache

We were getting a bit tuckered out with all this tasting but we were able to squeeze in a few red wines before we wrapped up. Our first red wine was the Côtes de Tablas, which we both agreed had strawberry aromas with a ruby color. This rhone style wine was dry and chalky. The Grenache on the other hand, had dark fruit and earthy aromas. It was a flavorful wine with licorice and dry flavors. We ended with their Flagship Red wine, the Esprit de Tablas. The wine had earthy and licorice aromas with fruity and dry flavors.

grapes at Tablas Creek, Paso Robles, CA

If we had begun the day at Tablas Creek, I think we could have spent the entire day. There were so many wines to taste and a few that were new to me. I’m happy we had a chance to try the Picpoul Blanc and Picardan. I’ll certainly keep my eye for these again. It was also terrific to have the opportunity to try so many white wines. Thanks to Lori for including this in our Paso Robles introduction. And thanks to Tablas Creek for bringing all these tasty Rhone grapes to the area!

This entry brings our Paso Robles tasting rooms to an end. I hope you all had fun and will now consider visiting this part of California on your next tasting trip!

Want to see which bottle we took home that day?

WeLovePaso License Plate, Paso Robles, CA

Brecon Estate, Paso Robles, CA http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/brecon-estate-paso-robles-ca/ Fri, 09 Nov 2018 18:12:17 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=3031 Brecon Estate, Paso Robles, CA

Brecon Estate,, was our third stop on the Paso Robles day of Wine with Lori. We were delighted to see that they had a cheese plate to pair with their wine tasting. As you know, we love pairing wine and cheese but were also happy to have a bit of food during our tasting. This tasting room was set up differently than other places I’ve visited. The people pouring the wines were indoors but we could either sit at the bar on the outside of the building or at the picnic tables. The weather was terrific so either option sounded good to us. This winery had different grapes than we’d seen earlier in the day so let’s get started and find our favorite!

2017 Brecon Estate Albariño, Central Coast
2017 Brecon Estate True Acacia Head Albariño, Central Coast
2016 Brecon Estate Zinfandel/Tannat, Central Coast
2016 Brecon Estate Syrah, Glenrose Vineyard, Adelaida
2016 Brecon Estate Reserve Feral Underclass, Adelaida

We began our tasting with Erica, who told us a little about the wines and the winery. Brecon grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec, all Bordeaux varieties, on their property. What a beautiful display of vines as we walked in! This was a pretty laid back atmosphere where we’d be tasting wines at our own pace. And let’s not forget the cheeses specially selected by Fromagerie Sophie to accompany the Brecon Estate wines. Lori has been to Brecon Estate before but she happily sat back and retasted through the wines. Even Vegas, her dog, was having a good time, entertaining all the other winery guests.

Brecon Estate Tasting Room, Paso Robles, CA

Cheese Pairings:
Albariño with Cana de Oveja (Spanish sheep)
True Acacia head Albariño with Alp Blossom (Austrian cow)
Zinfandel/Tannat with Beaufort (French raw cow)
Syrah with L’Amuse Brabander Goat Gouda (Dutch cow)
Reserve Feral Underclass with Stagberry Salame

The first wine we tried was the 2017 Brecon Estate Albariño which we identified tropical, mineral and clean aromas with a hint of cat pee. This white wine was citrus and tangy with tropical flavors including pineapple and grapefruit. I also made note of the acid in the wine. Our second wine was another Albariño but this one was aged in acacia wood barrels. I found the aromas of the wine to be softer than the first but still tropical and Neil noticed stone fruit aromas. I thought this wine was drier than the first with flavors that were tart, citrus and mineral. Neil thought the wine tasted sharp with stone and peach flavors.

2017 Brecon Estate True Acacia Head Albariño

We didn’t really make notes about how the cheeses changed with the Albariño but we did write a few cheese tasting notes. The Cana de Oveja (top left in the photo) was rich and flavorful but surprisingly reminded me of goat cheese not sheep. The Alp Blossom cheese (bottom left) smelled like funk and had flavors of butter, herbs and some sweetness. After tasting all the cheeses, the Alp Blossom was definitely my favorite. We purchased a wedge a few weeks later to share with friends. (See the alp blossom on our IG page)

Cheese Plate at Brecon Estate, Paso Robles, CA

Moving now to the red wines. The Brecon Estate Zinfandel/Tannat was a new type of wine for us to try. Erica told us the Tannat grape is the national grape of Uruguay and that this blend was produced with almost half this varietal. Knowing that we already like Zinfandel, we were excited to give this blend a taste! I picked up dark fruit, and a mix of soft and spicy aromas. Neil felt it was jammy with big fruit. It’s starting out well! The wine tasted dry, fruity, spicy with an oak softness and yogurt flavors. Neil agreed with the spice but called it jammy! It was suggested that we pair this wine with the Beaufort cheese (bottom right in the photo). The cheese was funky, funky, funky! When I paired the wine with the cheese the funk from the cheese transferred to the wine. Neil thought the wine was more grapey and jammy. I also paired the salami with the wine but it made the wine taste like bubble gum. We really liked the flavor of the wine and decided we should pick up a bottle to try more pairings at home.

Our next wine was a Syrah, which is apparently a pretty popular grape for the Paso area. Fine by us, we like that grape! Neil found the Syrah to be even jammier than the Zinfandel/Tannat but he also noticed spice and green leaf aromas. As I swirled the wine, I picked up dark fruit (blackberry) and soft aromas. This was a soft wine with a hint of sweetness, dark fruit flavors and a spice finish. We’d be pairing this wine with a Dutch Goat cheese (top right) that was smooth and milky. The wine didn’t change much when paired but it was a bit lighter and grapey.

The Brecon Estate Reserve Feral Underclass would be our final wine of the day. It is a blend of petite sirah and zinfandel that Neil described as smelling like huge fruit, some spice and cassis. I thought the aroma was more like dark fruit and dry. Neil sipped this smooth, fruity wine with spice while I made note of it being dry with black pepper spice and a bunch of flavor in the throat. The Stagberry Salame was dry and flavorful with a pepper spice that actually made the wine seem lighter. I’d say that was a good way to balance both the food and wine.

Happy we took the trip out to Brecon Estate for wine and cheese, a new varietal and an outdoor tasting room. And there was still one more winery to visit that day. Check back here to see the pairing of Zinfandel/Tannat and cheese.

Wine Tasting at Brecon Estate, Paso Robles, CA

Dracaena Wines, Paso Robles, CA http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/dracaena-wines-paso-robles-ca/ Fri, 26 Oct 2018 16:51:58 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=3021 Dracaena Wines Cabernet Franc, Paso Robles, CA

We made a plan to hang out with Lori from Dracaena Wines, during our trip to Paso Robles. She was so excited to show us all the iconic places of the region, and I was hopeful that we’d get to see her vineyard and winery, too. I met Lori on #WiningHourChat and knew we’d be friends once I found out they made a Cabernet Franc. After hearing about their wine for a couple years on the chat, this was the day that I was finally going to be able to taste it. I’m not a Cabernet Franc expert, by any means, but I used to pour one at the Winery Collective and I always enjoyed it. My favorite part about the plan was that we’d get to taste the Dracaena wine next to the vines that produced it. How cool!

cabernet franc grapes at Plummer Vineyard, Dracaena Wines, Paso Robles, CA

Since this was our first visit to Paso Robles, Lori was telling us a lot about the area. She explained that the 40 degree shift in temperature from night to day contributes to the unique flavor of the wines. This temperature gradient combined with the town being only 14 miles from the ocean is what makes Paso a great place to grow grapes. Her wine making facility and vineyard are both located on the East side, near the airport in Paso Robles. They make wine in a shared facility but they are considered their own winery because of the licenses that they hold. Funny thing about the area where you find their winery is that it’s a commercial area “that will be developed soon”, apparently these signs have been in place longer than she can remember. The day that we visited, there was winemaking in process by the other co-owners so we weren’t able to go inside.

Dracaena Wines, Paso Robles, CA

Nearby, we found Plummer Vineyard with the Cabernet Franc grapes. Lori and Michael work with Joe, the grape grower who tends to their crop. It is part of a larger shared vineyard where multiple people “own” different sections. They even have more than one section so they can have a variation in their two Cabernet Franc wines. They check in with Joe throughout the year to ensure the grapes are progressing as they expect. They’ve found that they can achieve the wine flavor they want by waiting until the seeds inside the grape are brown. This seems pretty meticulous but that’s no surprise when you consider that Lori and Michael both have scientific degrees. Michael is the winemaker and splits his time between his day job as food scientist and the winery.

Cab Franc grape, Dracaena Wines, Paso Robles, CA

Lori has been studying forever, earning a total of 3 degrees, and now she spends her days teaching. This prevents her from being in California full time, but she more than makes up for it with all the social media, podcasts and newsletters she creates for Dracaena Wines. I’ve seen her social media presence and all the different projects she’s involved in and can’t believe she can do it all!

Dracaena Wines Rose of Syrah, Paso Robles, CA

Now that we knew a little more about the winery, vineyard, and Lori and Michael, it was time to taste the wine! Lori started us with their 2017 rosé of Syrah, a new part of their portfolio. We swirled the wine and checked out the grapes surrounding us. Although the Syrah grapes don’t come from this same vineyard, it was great to sip this chilled rosé on a warm day in California. I picked up aromas of strawberry yogurt and citrus. The flavor was light and clean with a soft finish, while also being zesty. Like I said, a perfect wine to sit outside and relax with. Our second wine was the Cabernet Franc that I could hardly wait to taste. The wine we’d be tasting was one of the final bottles of the 2015 vintage. This wine had dark fruit, earth, blueberry and yogurt aromas leaping from the glass. I felt the wine was dry with dark fruit, soft and smooth, a nice amount of acid and a light spice. I knew I’d want to try it again so we purchased her last bottle to bring home and pair with some cheese.* We probably spent about 30 minutes sipping that glass of Cabernet Franc, taking photos and just enjoying the day. It was all I hoped it could be!

Vegas in the Cab Franc vines at Plummer Vineyard, Paso Robles, CA

Dracaena wines is only a few years old but they’ve won quite a few accolades for their wines as well as their blog. If you haven’t had a chance to try their wine yet, you’re in luck because they just released their new vintage at the beginning of the month. Maybe you’ve met Lori online and know her as the lady who has the dog on her label. As you flip through today’s photos you’ll see their second Weimaraner, named Vegas, the spoke dog for their Wine Club. The dog on their label is Draco, their first weimaraner and inspiration for the name Dracaena Wines.

We were able to spend the entire day with Lori, but we had to bring our time at her vineyard to a close. What a personal experience to have! During a visit to another winery that day, we heard that Lori and Micheal will be considering a white wine for an upcoming vintage, so keep your eye out for that in the future. For now, if you can’t find their wine, look online for Lori and she’ll definitely share all her wine tips and tricks with you. Did you know they offer weekly wine blog posts? So much to find on!

*This cheese pairing will occur any day now so check back to read all about it!

Maria and Lori in Plummer Vineyard, Paso Robles, CA drinking Dracaena Wines

Eberle Winery, Paso Robles, CA http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/eberle-winery-paso-robles-ca/ Fri, 19 Oct 2018 15:48:06 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=3007 Eberle Winery, Paso Robles, CA

Eberle Winery is located in Paso Robles, CA which was unchartered territory for Neil and I. When we lived in California, we focused on the wine regions immediately surrounding San Francisco. We took the opportunity during our recent trip to California to explore some new wine regions. As luck would have it, Lori from Dracaena Wines volunteered to bring us to some of the landmark wineries of the area as our introduction to Paso Robles. She knew it was only appropriate to begin at Eberle Winery where we could experience the winery responsible for getting the AVA started. Not to mention, that Eberle Winery uses many Rhone varietals, grapes that Neil and I enjoy very much in wine.

Eberle Vineyard, Paso Robles, CA

When we arrived at Eberle, I had to take photos of the sprawling vineyard of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Muscat Canelli. The tasting room had just opened for the day and we were anxious to start learning about the winery and the area. Eberle Winery opened in 1983, the same year that the AVA was approved. Gary Eberle, the current owner, was instrumental in this process. In order to prepare for his winery to open, he created his first batch of Cabernet Sauvignon using grapes from the 1979 vintage. Since this first batch they’ve won many awards and have become very well-known; Gary himself is known as the Godfather of Paso. One of the things people in the area know about Eberle Winery is their wine cave and the tours they offer throughout the day. We were excited to hear about the wine and cheese pairings you can also participate in during the cave tour. If only we had more than one day to fit all these Paso Robles tastings into, we’d get to try out that cheese supplied by Vivant Fine Cheese.

Our complimentary tastings were lead by Kaelin, a sommelier who was pleased to see how detail-oriented we were with our note-taking and wine tasting. Our tasting included these wines:

2017 Côtes du Rôbles Blanc (grenache blanc, roussanne, viognier)
2017 Viognier
2016 Côtes du Rôbles (grenache, syrah, mourvedre)
2016 Zinfandel
Full Boar Red (cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, barbera, syrah, sangiovese)
2016 Syrah (100% syrah)
2015 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
2017 Muscat Canelli

Eberle Winery Viognier

We began by tasting two white wines, their white rhone blend, Côtes du Rôbles and Gary’s choice, the Viognier. I am usually drawn to white rhone blends so it was an easy choice to include in my tasting. I described the aromas as clean, mineral, and honey. Neil can always identify the fruit side of the wine, finding apricot and tangerine aromas. The fruit continued to come through in the flavor for him with apricots and pears. He thought it was light and refreshing. I noticed a smooth flavor with some oak and apples. As we swirled the Viognier, I picked up petrol, peach and sweet aromas but Neil identified caramel and a slight creme brûlée aroma. I questioned if I detected oak in this wine but with Neil’s description of aromas and round, caramel flavors, he definitely did. I found the wine to be more mineral and citrus and Neil added a melon-cantelouple flavor too.

Eberle Cotes du Robles

Next we moved on to the red Côtes du Rôbles, a wine we had just tried a week before with Pam in Seal Beach. She received a bottle at the Pacific Rim wine competition where she had volunteered and met Gary. Not only do I like white rhone blends but red rhone blends are great too. It was pretty cool to get a sneak peek at a winery we’d be visiting soon. This wine had soft, strawberry aromas and some spice. It was dry, light, soft, and spicy with a nice amount of acid. When Neil tasted the wine he thought it was different than he remembered from Pam’s house. Neil opted to try the Zinfandel next, finding jammy and lightly spiced aromas. As he sipped it, there were flavors of blackberry, jam and licorice. I thought it’d be fun to try the red blend and see if I could taste all the different grapes. There were red fruit and licorice aromas with a light texture, soft and dry flavors and red fruit. Guess I didn’t really call out any grapes but it was time to try the Syrah.

wine tasting at Eberle Winery, Paso Robles, CA

The grapes for this wine come from the Steinbeck Vineyard and it’s another example of how Gary is a wine pioneer. He made this wine using 100% syrah grapes, which hadn’t been done since Prohibition. It’s so great to be around innovations in wine! He actually came in the winery during our tasting and pointed up at an older photo very casually saying “that’s me up there”. I picked up aromas of meat and smoke in the Syrah but Neil found the terroir this time calling out “rocks”. We both described it as dry but Neil still found those rocks and some dark fruit. The estate Cabernet Sauvignon, is the red wine you’ll usually find Gary sipping as he greets visitors at the entrance. I enjoyed it’s savory aroma that reminded me of olives or salt. Neil noticed the aroma to be big dark fruit and leather. He called it one of the most interesting Cabernet’s he’s ever had, since it was fruity, smooth, velvety and dark. I thought it was dry with cherry, dark fruit and a nice amount of acid.

As a sweet treat, I ended my tasting with the Muscat Canelli. I used to pour this varietal in one of my previous tasting room jobs so I figured I’d give this one a try. There were sweet and tropical aromas with a smooth, soft, fruit flavor. They grow these grapes here on their property. At 7% residual sugar, it really wasn’t overly sweet, just pleasant.

Vegas and Kaelin at Eberle Winery

We decided to purchase a bottle of the Viognier at the end of the tasting that we would bring to our friends in San Francisco. They are fellow winelovers and will certainly enjoy hearing the story of Eberle Winery if they aren’t familiar with it. Thanks to Lori for starting off our Paso Robles wine tour with Eberle Winery. She already knew these wines but happily tasted alongside us that day. Her dog Vegas was even enjoying himself by showing us his dog tricks in order to get a treat from Kaelin. And now, onto the next Paso Robles vineyard.

Later on that day, we returned to Eberle Winery to pick up our car. It was then that we saw Gary and some friends sitting outside enjoying some of his Cabernet. I went over to say Hi. We spoke of favorite chefs that had visited the winery for events, local restaurants and the wine and cheeses served during the cave tour. What a terrific way to end our day in Paso Robles!

Hitching Post 2 and Buellton, CA http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/hitching-post-2-and-buellton-ca/ Fri, 12 Oct 2018 15:37:07 +0000 http://wineandcheesefriday.lan/?p=2984 Hitching Post 2 Restaurant

You’ve heard that we went on a Sideways Wine Tour of California and this entry will be a continuation of that series. Have you been to Buellton, CA? Any superfan of Sideways probably has and this was actually our second trip out there. No trip would be complete without visiting The Windmill Inn (now called Sideways Inn), The Hitching Post 2, and maybe you’ve even gone to see those pesky ostriches that nipped at Jack?

Ostrichland, Buellton, CA

We knew this would be a full day with all that we had planned. As we traveled down the main road of Buellton, we passed The Hitching Post 2 and Ostrichland. I stopped for a few quick photos but knew we’d be coming back that night for all the Sideways fun! We were on our way to Solvang which doesn’t have a huge part in the movie but I figured it would be a good way to take a little time off from all our wine tasting.

Wheels N' Windmills, Solvang, CA

Solvang is also known as Little Denmark which is pretty self-explanatory when you arrive. There were windmills, pretzels, aebleskivers and belgium waffles as far as the eye could see. The architecture is quite authentic too. We weren’t sure what we’d find other than all these Danish touches but there were lots of gift shops, tasting rooms, and plenty of people watching. We even found a classic car show called Wheels N’ Windmills happening that day. Neil is interested in old cars so we opted for the car show instead of more wine tasting. (We’ve had plenty of opportunity for that already.)

A quick bite to eat at Bit O' Denmark Restaurant, Solvang, CA

The weather was gorgeous and surprisingly much warmer than Lompoc, CA where we were staying. We enjoyed the entire day exploring the town and grabbed a quick pumpernickel sandwich and some Akvavit before we headed back to Buellton and the Hitching Post 2. What a relaxing day of sightseeing! Now we can have some more wine.

Maria arrives at the Hitching Post 2, Buellton, CA

I was so excited as we pulled up to the Hitching Post 2! I had Neil photograph me with the sign and crossed my fingers that there would be a seat available at the bar. We had already decided we’d go for appetizers and a glass of wine and thought the bar would be a perfect place to make this happen. As luck would have it, we walked right in and grabbed a seat. You probably already know that Hitching Post produces wine but did you know that they have a handful of Pinot Noir wines to try? Can you remember the name of the Pinot that Miles and Jack drink there? Yup, it’s Highliner! Obviously we got a glass of that! We also tried a glass of Sanford and Benedict Pinot Noir. Of course, there was 10-15 minutes of obligatory photography before any of the wine tasting actually began. It’s like my mecca and if I didn’t get the right shot, I would have regretted it.

Hitching Post, Buellton, CA

The Highliner was great! We picked up berries, earth and fruit aromas with a softness and a hint of spice. The texture of the wine was light then medium bodied and velvety smooth. The flavor had spice, a hint of banana pepper, a great balance between fruit and earth and a smooth finish. Needless to say, we both sipped and savored it for quite some time. We tried the roasted artichoke appetizer which didn’t disappoint. It was a great choice to just sit there and enjoy throughout evening! The Sanford and Benedict was pretty different from the Highliner. Neil noticed mushroom and cedar aromas which I called dark fruit and woodsy with spice. This Pinot Noir tasted like spice, woodsy but very little fruit. I also picked up some vanilla. It was definitely an interesting wine but the Highliner was so smooth, we couldn’t get over it!

drinking Pinot Noir and eating roasted artichokes at The Hitching Post 2, Buellton, CA

Being the wine nerd that I am, I took some notes about the wine when paired with the artichokes too. The Highliner acquired a flavor of roses with the food and then turned into raspberry. Even more points for this wine! The Sanford and Benedict seemed spicier with the food but then turned into more earth. It’s always so great when wines take on new flavors when paired with food!

Sideways Wine Bottle, Hitching Post, Buellton, CA

While we sat at the bar, a giant bottle at the end caught our eye. I wouldn’t say it was a Nebuchadnezzar but it was definitely big! To be honest, I thought it might be inflatable at first glance. This bottle was perfect for our trip out because it had a label with the movie art from Sideways on one side and the Highliner label on the other side. More photos ensued and I think we even had a bit of wine left in our glasses. We probably spent a couple hours there but it was great fun!

Andrew Murray Syrah with dinner, Lompoc, CA

On our way home, we picked up a bottle of Andrew Murray Syrah, another movie wine from Miles and Maya’s heart to heart on the back porch at Stephanie’s house. This wine had aromas of dark fruit, earth and spice. As I took a sip, I picked up dry, meaty, spicy flavors that shifted into smoke by the end of the night. Neil said it was good although he thought it tasted like a grape lollipop. What a lucky find at the local grocery store!

visiting the Windmill Inn, Buellton, CA

You may have noticed our day didn’t include a trip to the Sideways Inn. That’s because we went the day before when we arrived in Buellton. In 2013 we took our first trip here and took a photo of Neil with the iconic windmill. At that point it was a Days Inn hotel but now it’s officially branded as the Sideways Inn. I took my turn in front of the windmill this time around.

We hope you enjoyed hearing about all our Buellton destinations as much as we did visiting them on the Sideways Wine Tour!

Sideways Inn, Buellton, CA