Mini Tastings

May 2022 Rhône Wine Mini-Tasting Wrap Up

The May Mini-Tasting featured four varietals and one blend. There were four host sites throughout the county.

The first flight was a pair of Grenache Blancs, one from California and one from Rhône France. This was followed by three flights featuring the primary varietals of a classic Rhone blend, the GSM. Each of these flights featured a California wine against an “old world” wine. The GSM flight had a California GSM against one from Chateaneuf du Pape, and the California wine was preferred by most of the attendees. The four favorite wines across the four host sites:

Place Wine & Winery YR PRICE DESCRIPTION
1st Morcha Garnacha

Bodegas Morca

Campo de Borja,

Aragon, Spain

2018 $39.98 VINOUS 94 POINTS—”Deep, lurid violet. Ripe dark berries, cherry cola, vanilla and pungent flowers on the deeply perfumed nose. Smooth, broad and sweet on entry, then tighter in the midpalate, offering impressively concentrated cherry and blackberry flavors and hints of vanilla, licorice and spicecake. A smoky nuance builds with air and carries through a very long, gently tannic finish that repeats the floral and
licorice notes.”
2nd Mourvèdre

(Monastrell)

Bodegas Sierra

Salinas

Mira Salinas

Allicante, Spain

2017 $17.99 Deep ruby/plum color is followed by a Bandol-like bouquet of smoked black fruits, earth, meat, and spice. It’s rich, medium to full-bodied, has beautiful fruit, good acidity, and plenty of tannins, and it’s a classic, balanced Monastrell that more than over-delivers at the price. These are custom cuvées for Jorge Ordóñez that are only brought into the US.
3rd GSM

Fundamental

Central Coast, CA

2019 $17.96 JEB DUNNUCK 91 POINTS—”The 2019 Red Wine checks in as 50% Syrah, 35% Grenache, 12% Mourvèdre, and the balance Viognier, all of which was 85% destemmed, and it spent 10 months in neutral oak. Lots of red, blue, and black fruits as well as peppery and spice dominate the nose, and it’s medium to full-bodied, with plenty of fruit, surprising complexity, and good overall freshness. It’s a smoking good red as well as a value.”
4th Grenache Blanc

LAFAGE 2019 CUVEE CENTENAIRE

Rhône, France

 

 

2019 $13.95 JEB DUNNUCK 93 POINTS—Based on 60% Grenache Blanc and 20% each Grenache Gris and Roussanne, from very old vines, the 2019 Côtes Catalanes Cuvée Centenaire is another thrilling white from Jean-Marc Lafage. Caramelized grapefruit, crushed citrus, mint, white flowers, and lots of salty minerality emerge from this medium-bodied white that has both richness and freshness.

NOTE: The Garnacha, GSM, and Grenache Blanc are all available at Hi-Times Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa.

In addition, attendees brought a delicious dish to share and then voted on a Chef of the Evening. The results of the Chef of the Evening at each Host site are:

  • Hosts Mike and Cathy MacKenzie: Katie Leary – Mushroom Appetizer
  • Host Kathy Nalty: Linda Shepard – Strawberry Dream Cake
  • Hosts Greg and Cathy Risling: Denise Casad/Dan Weddell – Charcuterie Board
  • Hosts Wendy and Stacey Taylor: Kevin Donnelly – Key Lime Pie

The detail scores by site will be posted on the OCWS website.

Congratulations to all the winners!  A big Thank You to the Hosts!

Please send your recipes to me at George@ocws.org for possible publication on the website.

– George Cravens, Director

NOTE:  The Gold Medal Mini-Tasting will be held in August after the OC Fair (like last year). Many of the wines entered in the Commercial Wine Competition are not released in time for a July Mini-Tasting, and we’d like to feature as many Double Gold winners as possible. Look for more details in the July Wine Press.

2022 Syrah/Petite Sirah Mini-Tasting Wrap Up

The March Mini-Tasting featured six Syrahs, three from California and one each from France, Australia, and Chile, along with four Petite Sirahs from California. There were seven host sites throughout the county.

The Macchia Rebellious Petite Sirah from Lodi, CA was the overwhelming favorite, placing First at four sites, Second at two, and Third at the final site. Second place was Bellante’s Watch Hill Vineyard Syrah from Santa Barbara County. Third was Chronic Cellars Suite Petite Petite Sirah from Paso Robles, Ca.

The four favorite wines across the seven host sites:

In addition, attendees brought a delicious dish to share and then voted on a Chef of the Evening. The results of the Chef of the Evening at each host site are:

  • Hosts Tina & B.J. Fornadley: Tina Fornadley – Asian Style Pulled Pork
  • Hosts Julie Good: Julie Good – Ribs
  • Hosts Pam & Bill Oneida: Alice Polser – BBQ Beans
  • Hosts Greg & Cathy Risling: Elee & Don Phillips –  Pork Loin with Red Wine and Plum Sauce (with Poached Plums)
  • Hosts Pat & Frank Solis: Jim Burk – Boeuf Bourguignon
  • Hosts Beverly Genis & Bob Topham: Barbara Greenfield – Pork Loin
  • Hosts Barb & Dave White: Kim & Sam Clark – Slow Cooker Pumpkin Pecan Pudding with Whisky Sauce

The detail scores by site will be posted on the OCWS website. Congratulations to all the winners! A big Thank You to the Hosts! Please send your recipes to George Cravens at George@ocws.org for possible publications the website.

– George Cravens, Director

Gold Medal Mini-Tasting

It’s been quite a long time since we’ve been able to hold a Mini-Tasting, and the Gold Medal Mini-Tasting is traditionally the most popular one of the year. This year, since we’re still working towards opening up from the pandemic, we are planning to schedule the Gold Medal Mini-Tasting after the OC Fair. This will allow time to arrange for a larger number of host sites, each with a smaller guest list so that everyone will be comfortable and safe.

Tentatively, we are thinking about Saturday, September 11 (the week after Labor Day). We hope to be able to have as many sites as possible host the tasting outdoors, so smaller groups will make this easier to facilitate. If you are interested in hosting the mini-tasting, please contact George Cravens at George@ocws.org. We plan to have the details worked out in time for the July Newsletter, with sign-ups starting in August. Thank you for your patience. We are all looking forward to getting back together again. Cheers!

– George Cravens, Mini-Tasting Committee Chair

Mini-Tasting: Rhône Wines

The Rhone Mini-Tasting event scheduled for Saturday, May 2, is officially cancelled, and we are working on processing refunds for those members that had already signed up.

We are exploring ideas for Mini-Tastings that might be possible once we are able to hold at least small events. Please look for updates in future newsletters. Stay safe.

– George Cravens, Director

Mini-Tasting: Big Reds Recap

On Saturday, November 23, over 102 members and guests attended the November Big Reds Mini-Tasting at seven host sites.

The blind tasting included five flights of two wines each. The flights covered Proprietary Reds, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Six of the ten wines finished in the top three at one or more sites. The three favorite wines are listed below:

  • 1st Place: 2015 Mount Peak Zinfandel Rattlesnake Vineyard, Sonoma—three first, one second, and two third place finishes—$39.95
  • 2nd Place: NV Locations CA-7 Red Blends—two first, one second, and three third place finishes—$17.95
  • 3rd Place: 2016 Jaffurs Petite Sirah, Santa Barbara County—two first and two second place finishes—$31.99

In addition, attendees brought a delicious dish to share and then voted on a Chef of the Evening. The results of the Chef of the Evening at each host site are:

  • Hosts Chris & Hank Bruce: Mary Mulcahey “Brownies”
  • Host Virginia & Karl Kawai: Dino Amico “Chicken Scarpariello with Pickled Peppers”
  • Hosts Judy & Bob Koeblitz: June & Vince Porto “BBQ Pepper Flank Steak”
  • Hosts Greg & Cathy Risling: Laurie Preus “Thai Pumpkin Soup”
  • Hosts John & Denise Scandura: Rich Skoczylas “Peach Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce”
  • Hosts Shelly & Ed Trainor: Mary Giedzinski “Zinfandel Braised Short Ribs”
  • Hosts Dave & Barbara White: Barbara White “Short Rib & Mushroom Lasagna”

Congratulations to all the winners! A big thank you to the hosts!

– George Cravens, Director

Gold Medal Mini-Tasting Recap

Over 180 members and guests attended the July 6 Gold Medal Mini-Tasting at 10 host sites. This may have been the best attended mini-tasting we have held. The line-up of […]
This post is only available to members.

Rhone Mini-Tasting Wrap Up With Winners Recipes

The April Mini-Tasting featured Rhone style wines and was held at five host sites throughout the county. Each of the five flights of wine featured a California wine and a French wine. There were four flights of reds, and the tasting started with a white flight. Seven of the ten wines placed in the first, second, or third place at one or more of the host sites.

The overall favorite was Secret Indulgence from Emancipation in St. Helena; second place was Chateau Puech-Haut La Closerie du Pic from Languedoc-Roussillon, France; third was Amapola Creek’s Cuvee Alis from Sonoma County; and fourth was Margerum’s M5 from Santa Barbara. The four favorite wines across the five host sites are:

Place Wine & Winery Year Price Description
1st Secret Indulgence Emancipation

St. Helena, CA

2015 $29.99 Blend: 49% Grenache, 29% Syrah, 11% Petite Sirah, 11% Mourvèdre

RP 92 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate; A blend mainly of Grenache and Syrah with some Petite Sirah, Mourvèdre and Mission coming mostly from Paso Robles and Mendocino.

2nd Chateau Puech-Haut
La Closerie du PicLanguedoc-Roussillon, France
2014 $25.99 #48 wine in VinePair’s Top 50 of 2018

RP 94 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate; Full-bodied, rounded and textured, with sweet tannin and a voluptuous, fruit-forward style.

3rd Amapola Creek
Cuvee Alis
Sonoma, CA
2013 $46.99 RP 92 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
66% Grenache, 22% Mourvèdre and 12% Syrah; It is Provençal, deep, full-bodied, and a total lusty treat.
4th Margerum M5

Santa Barbara, CA

2016 $25.99 RP 90 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

42% Grenache, 36% Syrah, 14% Mourvèdre, 4% Counoise and 4% Cinsault; Reminiscent of a good Côtes du Rhône, the 2016 M5 opens in the glass with aromas of smoky black cherry, blackberry, spice, cassis and dried flowers. On the palate, it’s juicy, medium to full-bodied and supple, with a sweet core of dark fruit, good length and a youthfully primary finish.

In addition, attendees brought a delicious dish to share and then voted on a Chef of the Evening. The results of the Chef of the Evening at each host site are:

  • Hosts Gisella & Gregory Brett: Tom Richey – Beef Stew
  • Hosts Virginia & Karl Kawai: Eric Kalnes – “Amazing” dish
  • Hosts Else & Don Phillips: Kim Meier – Italian Penne with Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives & Cheese
  • Hosts Ronna & Craig Rowe: Scott Lewis – Smoked Tri-Tip
  • Hosts Kim & Steven Rizzuto: Paula & Bob Becker – Cantaloupe Port Sorbet

NOTE: Three dishes tied on the initial ballot, including June & Vincent Porto’s Lasagna and Carolyn & Phil Wallace’s Coleslaw.

The detail scores by site will be posted on the OCWS website. Congratulations to all the winners! A big thank you to all of the hosts! Please send your recipes to George Cravens at George@ocws.org for possible publication on the OCWS website.

– George Cravens, Director


Winner Recipe –

CANTALOUPE & PORT SORBET

Paula Becker

From Ice Cream:  The Ultimate Cold Comfort

By Jeri Quinzio

Makes one quart

Ingredients:

1 large or 2 small cantaloupes, peeled, seeded and cut up to make 3 cups

Pinch of salt

¾ cup of sugar

¼ cup of port

3 T of orange juice

  1. Cut up the cantaloupe and measure.  To make a quart of sorbet, you’ll need 3 cups.
  2. In a blender or food processor, puree cantaloupe with the salt and sugar until the sugar is thoroughly blended throughout the mixture
  3. Add the port and the orange juice and blend.
  4. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.
  5. Churn in your ice cream maker, following manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. Store in a tightly covered container in your freezer.

Pinot Noir Mini-Tasting Wrap Up

Nearly 100 members and guests attended the March 2 Pinot Noir Mini-Tasting at six host sites. Five flights of wine came from various locations including Arroyo Grande Valley, Carneros, Central Coast, Sonoma, Sonoma Coast, Santa Maria Valley, and Willamette Valley (Oregon).

The overall favorite was from Patz & Hall in Carneros; second place was Aequorea’s Seafarer; third was Fort Ross’s Sea Slopes; and fourth was very close to third, from Capiax.

The three favorite wines across the six host sites plus the fourth place which was very nearly tied for third:

Place Winery Name Year Price Description
1st Patz & Hall; Hyde Vineyard
Carneros
2016 $55.99 WINE ADVOCATE 93+ —Medium ruby-purple colored, profoundly scented of black cherries, black raspberries, and red currants with touches of forest floor, black soil, stewed tea, and lavender.
2nd Aequorea Seafarer
Central Coast
2014 $34.95 The aromatics are intense – redolent of dried cranberry, red apple skin, white pepper, and Earl Grey tea. The palate is bright and vibrant, with a core of dark red fruit, uplifted spice, grated chocolate, roasted nuts, dried orange rind, and toasty oak.
3rd Fort Ross Sea Slopes
Sonoma Coast
2014 $29.95 ROBERT PARKER 90 POINTS—The 2014 Pinot Noir Sea Slopes gets its name from overlooking the Pacific Ocean at an elevation of 1,200 to 1,700 feet. This wine offers loads of Chinese black tea, pomegranate, floral notes, and a hint of raspberry in a medium-bodied, fresh, lively, Côte de Beaune style.
4th Capiax Chimera
Sonoma Coast
2016 $29.95 ANTONIO GALLONI 90 POINTS—Laced with essence of sweet red cherry, underbrush, dried herbs, orange zest, and exotic floral notes. Plump and juicy, yet also very much medium in body and gracious, with terrific freshness.

In addition, attendees brought a delicious dish to share and then voted on a Chef of the Evening. The results of the Chef of the Evening at each host site are:

  • Hosts Germaine & Rob Romano: Bill & Noel Forsch with their “Appetizer Feast”
  • Hosts Pat & Frank Solis: Eberhard Neutz with his “Lebirkaefe with caramelized onions”
  • Hosts Marcia & James Vaughan: Rich Skoczylas with his “Hazelnut Cake”
  • Hosts Barbara & David White: Paula Becker with her “Mediterranean Chicken”
  • Hosts Betty Jo & Jay Newell: Jean Rico with her “Chicken Tortilla Casserole”
  • Host Mike Del Medico: Lynda Edwards with her “Spinach Dip”

The detailed scores by site will be posted on the OCWS website. Congratulations to all the winners!

A big thank you to the hosts! Please send your recipes to George Cravens at George@ocws.org as a possible recipe to be published on the OCWS website.

– George Cravens, Director

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food-Worthy Reds Mini-Tasting Recap

Nearly 100 members and guests attended the Food-Worthy Reds Mini-Tasting on November 10 at six host sites. Five flights of wine included Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, Meritage Red/Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel.

The overall favorite was also a Double-Gold winner at this year’s Commercial Wine Competition. Second place was a Carol Shelton Zinfandel blend. Third was a Napa Syrah. Fourth was very close to third, and also a Double Gold winner this year – Jeff Runquist Grenache.

The three favorite wines across the six host sites, plus the fourth place which was very nearly tied for third:

Place Winery Name Year Price Description
1st J. Lohr Cuvee Series

Meritage Red

2014 $50.00 Cuvee ST.E, Paso Robles AVA, 59% Cabernet Franc, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot

Double Gold (94 Pts) OC Competition

2nd Carol Shelton — Karma Reserve

Zinfandel

2014 $25.00 Sonoma County
70% Zinfandel, 14% Petite Sirah, 6% Alicante Bouschet, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Carignane, 2% Viognier91 points Wine Spectator
3rd Rocca Family Grigsby — Napa

Syrah

2013 $48.00 Rocca’s 2013 Syrah Grigsby Vineyards is a rich, deep, chewy wine that coats the palate and is very savory.

92 Points Robert Parker

4th Jeff Runquist Alta Mesa AVA

Grenache

2016 $28.00 The aroma of the 2016 wine is loaded with ripe red fruits; raspberry, strawberry, cherry and currant. On the palate, savory flavors of raspberry and cherry are delivered by a wine with a silky texture.

Double Gold (94 Pts) Wine Competition

In addition, attendees brought a delicious dish to share and then voted on a Chef of the Evening. The results of the Chef of the Evening at each host site are:

  • Hosts Germaine & Rob Romano:

Wendy Taylor  “Black Walnut Fancy Cake”

  • Hosts Virginia & Karl Kawai:

Jim Burke “Stracotto with Herbed Noodles & Horseradish Cream”

¨ Tied with:

Eric Kalnes “Mac and Cheese”

  • Hosts Judy Davison & Paula and Bob Becker:

Tamara Reddy “Pecan Squares”

  • Hosts Marcia & James Vaughan:

Rich Skoczylas “Luscious Fall Apple Delight”

  • Hosts Barbara & David White:

  John Mendoca “Curried Chicken”

  • Hosts Cathy & Greg Risling:

Michelle Flores “Brussel Sprouts”

Click on this link to see the “Wine Food Pairing” document provided on this events Mini-Tasting Wines 

Congratulations to all the winners! A big thank you to the hosts!

– George Cravens, Chair

 

Gold Medal Mini-Tasting Wrap Up

Over 160 members and guests attended the Gold Medal Mini-Tasting on July 7 at nine host sites. The evening began with a Gold medal winning Viognier from Falkner Winery in Temecula and a Double-Gold Chenin Blanc from Dry Creek Vineyards (Clarksburg AVA).

The blind tasting followed with seven flights of two wines each. For additional information on more award winning wines, visit  winecompetion.com. The wines covered a wide range of styles with three white pairs, one Rosé pair, and three red pairs. Several sites reported ties in their top three, and eight of the fourteen wines finished in the top three at one or more sites. The three favorite wines of the nine host sites and three others that tied for fourth are listed below:

Place Winery Name Year Price Description
1st DeWitt Vineyards 2015 $28 Tempranillo, Amador County, Double Gold. Three first, one second, and three third place finishes
2nd Trentadue La Storia 2016 $28 Zinfandel, Alexander Valley, Double Gold. Two first, two second, and one third place finishes
3rd Carol Shelton – Black Magic 2017 $20
375 ml
Late-harvest Zinfandel, Sonoma, Double Gold. Two first, one second, and one third place finishes
4th-tie Sunce Winery 2016 $30 Mission, San Francisco AVA, Gold, One first and one third place finish
4th-tie Orange Coast Cellars 2017 $29.99 Albarino, Double Gold, One first and three third place finishes
4th-tie Blair Estates 2013 $40 Pinot Noir, Arroyo Seco AVA, Double Gold, three second place finishes

In addition, attendees brought a delicious dish to share and then voted on a Chef of the Evening. The results of the Chef of the Evening at each host site are:

  • Host Carol Frank & Sam Puzzo: Kevin Coy’s “Marinated Flank Steak”
  • Hosts Betty Jo & Jay Newell: Irene Scott’s “Flourless Chocolate Cake
    with homemade vanilla bean Ice Cream”
  • Host Linda Baumeister: Linda Ellenburg’s “Carrot Cake”
  • Hosts BJ & Tina Fornadley: Fred Heinecke’s “BBQ Tri-tip”
  • Hosts Nancy & Stephen Edwards: Allison Snyder’s “Cherry Cheesecake”
  • Hosts Marcia & James Vaughan: Marcia Vaughan’s “Peach & Blackberry Crisp”
  • Hosts Wendy & Stacey Taylor: Bill Forsch and Noel DeSota’s
    “Brisket and Burnt ends with 2 sauces”
  • Hosts Virginia & Karl Kawai: Dino Amico’s “Champagne Risotto”
  • Hosts Janae & Bob Unruh: (Tie) Nancy Harman’s “Chocolate Brandy Pudding Mousse shots” and Linda Crawford’s “Herb Roasted Salmon”

Congratulations to all the winners! A big “thank you” to all the Hosts!

Please send your recipes to George Cravens at George@ocws.org as a possible recipe in a future Newsletter article.

– George Cravens, Director