California Wine Tasting - Rock Wall - Tannat 2015

Wed, 09/15/2021 - 10:00 -- johnk

Let's enjoy a little California Wine Tasting with a bottle of Rock Wall Wine Company's 2015 Tannat. First a little bit about the winemaker Shauna Rosenblum who for Rock Wall Wine Company. She learned to make wine from her epic father Kent Rosenblum. Shauna literally grew up in the cellar and spent her childhood in wineries and vineyards where she worked and learned all the facets of the winemaking business. Shauna has a Master’s degree in Sculpture from the San Francisco Art Institute. As an undergraduate, at California College of Arts and Crafts she became very interested in chemistry through the ceramics glaze making process.  She realized there were similarities in the ceramics and winemaking processes as far as chemistry and blending. This realization lead to an epiphany that winemaking was art! I have driven by Rock Wall a couple of times in the past while in the area, unfortunately, each time my timing was off so I still haven't met Shauna in person though  I have learned a little bit about her throuh one of her wines Rock Wall 2015 Tannatand afew exchanges on Social Media. I hope to meet Shauna in the months to come.


California Wine Tasting - Markus Wine Co - French Colombard

Thu, 08/05/2021 - 19:21 -- johnk

California wine tasting is so enjoyable and getting to know the people behind the wines can be a lot of fun. While talking with Jon Björk at Markus Wine Co I noticed that he had listed a French Colombard. Back while Jon and I were talking wines I had in mind the warm weather that would soon be on its way. Well, warm was a bit of a miscalculations as it has been a hot July 2021 all over California and the Western United States. Enough of that, back to the French Colombard that Jon sent my way. Jon marked on the unlabeled bottle that this wine is a 2020 French Colombard, and that Labeling was scheduled for some time in April. Well, I am glad I got this bottle because recently I learned that all the French Colombard produced had been purchased for another bottling. So, this makes this bottle just a little bit rare and I thought I would share it with you in this review.

This Colombard From Markus Wine Co has a nice acid balance along with sufficient residual sugar. Be sure to give it a good chill first on a day like today, forecast is for the triple-digits. Now that you wine has a good chill on it you can see how the aromas change as it warms in the glass.
A little bit on wines produced with Colombard grapes
Most information on Colombard tells us that the grape grows the best on sandy, dry soils and even clay loams.  Colombard is a high yielding variety. In the San Joaquin valley of California, Colombard is cultivated midseason with harvest beginning usually in mid to late August. Where does Colombard grow?

California Wine Tasting with Quady Wines – Starboard Batch 88

Wed, 07/21/2021 - 13:00 -- johnk

California Wine Tasting with Quady Wines – Starboard Batch 88 

Why does Quady Wines call their “port” Starboard? Port is a geographic term for fortified wines that come from the Douro River Valley in Portugal. Starboard, the nautical term for right, (as opposed to port – left) is a unique to the home of Quady Wines, the San Joaquin Valley, California, on the other side of the world from Portugal. 

Quady Wines Starboard Batch 88 is a blended easy drinking port-style wine with ripe fruit and nutty elements that place it somewhere between a ruby and a tawny. Quady Wines has produced a warm, smooth and rich port-style wine with a chocolate raisin and dried fig personality. Delightfully warming by itself, Batch 88 also pairs well with cheeses or nuts, or do both. Try Blue Cheese, Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Sharp Cheddars, & Parmesan for additional for addition cheese pairing. Do you like figs? Think Figs, Walnuts and Almonds. 

Quady Wines uses the same grape varieties and similar methods that you would find in Douro Portugal, but the climate in the San Joaquin Valley is warmer and the soils are different. Instead of 140 proof fortifying brandy, Quady uses a neutral grape spirit of 190 proof. Also, Quady uses 60-gallon barrels instead of the 140-gallon pipes used in Portugal. As a result, Starboard matures earlier and has a riper more voluptuous flavor. - 20% Alcohol

Gifts for Women

California Wine Tasting - Engelmann Cellars, Fresno, CA

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 12:00 -- johnk

California Wine Tasting at Engelmann Cellars, June 2021. 

The Experience -

While I had the opportunity to taste couple more that listed here during my last visit here are some quick notes on 3 of the wines. Kylie the wine club manager was pouring on this hot Saturday afternoon. While I tend to lean a lot towards the red wines, a couple of white blends were very welcome in the heat of the afternoon.  The first was Summer Quartet, a dry white blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, White Cab and Dry Muscat. Next was RS, another white blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, White Cabernet, and Sweet Muscat. Both wines were enjoyable and welcome considering how warm it was that day and the fact that tastings were all taking place outside. Summer Quartet, a dry white-blend that would pair well with fish and summer salads. RS being a sweet white would be great for a glass before or after a meal.


California Wine Tasting - Markus Wine Co – 2018 domo, Carignane Blend

Wed, 07/07/2021 - 12:00 -- johnk

California Wine Tasting - Markus Wine Co – 2018 domo, Carignane Blend

This wine has some fruit from vines that were planted in 1900 and the Carignane makes up 67% of the blend. That being said, the focus of this wine is the Spenker Ranch Carignane along with Borra Vineyards Gill Creek Ranch Merlot at 17% and 16 % Zinfandel grapes from the River Song Vineyard. 

As you look at this wine in the glass you will see your fingers through a delightful ruby red hue. This Markus Wine Co blend provides lots of sour cherry and red plum in and does so in a very pleasing dry style. Despite this wine’s light color in the glass is a surprisingly full-bodied experience with just enough tannins to support the combination of cedar and cigar box with a lengthy finish on the palate. 

It is said by some wine makers that Carignane is the wine that winemakers reach for when they want to have a glass of wine that presents pure enjoyment, because of the grape naturally retains good balance of acidity even with the fruit is fully ripe. This acidity of the Carignane along with the Merlot and Zinfandel make for a very food friendly wine that provides a wide range of uncomplicated food pairing. The winemaker makes a couple of suggestions of pairing with any roasted bird, such as duck in plum sauce. What else might I suggest helping you appreciate this wine? If you enjoy a Pinot Noir that is fully structured with a lot of character, this wine will grow on you. Try it and you will see. Markus and the winery team consider Lodi, CA home.

Tasting California Wines - Old 44 Cellars, 2018 Aglianico

Fri, 07/02/2021 - 18:32 -- johnk

Old 44 Cellars 2018 Aglianico Estate Grown – Estate Grown – 80% Aglianico – 20% Grenache

Don’t you just love it when you find a delightful gem of a wine that is kind of hidden away? I visited with the Nick winemaker at Old 44 Cellars at a wine event that took place in Redding, CA just before the Pandemic broke out. I enjoyed the visit and his invite to come visit him. Well, we did an outdoor private tasting together not that long ago, about a year and a half from our first meeting. One of the wines, actually several bottles, that I brought home with me was Nick’s estate Aglianico blend. This is a wine is a blend of Estate Aglianico and Grenache that provides a delightful glass of wine to those that have obtained it.

Grenache in this blend provides some white pepper aroma followed with red fruit flavors. Grenache is known for its flavors of strawberry and raspberry with spicy notes. Some Grenache wines can develop complex flavors of blackcurrants, black olives, coffee, leather and tar. The grape produces wines that are medium to full-bodied. Tannin and acidity are low and makes it a great fit as a blend. Although Grenache is a high-quality grape, often you will find it blended with other varieties, such as Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault. This is because it is very complimentary within a blend, as it adds body and fruitiness without adding tannin or acidity, which are both naturally low in Grenache.

California Wine Tasting - Markus Wine Co – Zip Sips Review

Thu, 03/11/2021 - 11:25 -- johnk

Markus Wine Co. 2018 – Sol, Lodi Red Wine Review 
California Wine Tasting - Markus Wine Co – 2018 Sol – Lodi Red Wine –


Our California Wine Movie – Zip Sips will focus on the Winemaker Markus Niggli and his 2018 Lodi Red. This wine is a blend of Petite Sirah 75%, Zinfandel 18%, and Petit Vedot 7%. This 2019 was made from the four best barrels of vintage reds at the winery. Sol is a dry red with exquisitely deep rich blend of mostly mixed black or dark wine grapes with those darker fruits being the focus of the wine. While the tannins are young, they are well integrated, and the result is a pleasing balance with luscious dark fruit.


Mon, 03/01/2021 - 11:40 -- johnk

Ficklin Vineyards wine review.

The clarity is lustrous and shimmering. As you take in the aromas from your glass of this ROSÉ PORT immediately comes to mind juicy red pear along with delightful hints of sweet floral. As you continue to enjoy those first few sips on your palate are flavors of mango and honeydew, ripe strawberry, and green apple. With all of this going on with the delightful bouquet and luscious flavors in between sips you detect a spark of banana. Incredibly pleasant, and enjoyable this wine. Light, refreshing, and yes, slightly tropical. Exceptionally easy to sip, but also complex enough to linger between sips. This is a delightfully well-balanced wine from Ficklin Vineyards.

Ficklin produces some wonderful California Port Style wines. Ficklin’s 1988 Vintage Port is grown-up, mature with spicy flavors and wonderful layers of leather, hints of tobacco all wrapped around dark cherry flavors. Right in the heart of California’s Central Valley wineries you will find that all of Ficklin’s Ports are among a handful of California wineries that consistently produce vintage port style wines.

The Winemaker

With 41 years of award-winning winemaking, third generation partner winemaker Peter Ficklin still guides the daily winemaking and oversees each step in crafting Ficklin's Ports. 

Ziveli Winery - 2016 Syrah

Sat, 02/20/2021 - 13:30 -- johnk

Ziveli Winery - Syrah

I have really enjoyed my visits to Ziveli.  This family winery is very homey, and the wines have such unique taste. I think I have interacted with all the members of the family on my visits and each of them is eager to make you feel at home. I recommend this winery for a little day trip for someone to take a relaxing drive out and to enjoy a glass of wine. Ziveli calls home about 7 miles east off 99 and Shaw. Your drive will take you through beautiful vineyards and the drive is spectacular. The winery is kind of hard to get to if you don’t know where you are going but easily found if you GPS. It is kind of hidden when you turn off the main road off Shaw. Don’t be fooled this place is one of the San Joaquin Valley’s hidden gems. If you would like to visit more than one winery that same day, I would like to suggest Moravia Wines which is only about a 5- or 10-minute drive from Ziveli Winery.

In an earlier I did a review of John Nale’s Alicante Bouschet, which I have honestly fallen in love with. However, this is not the only wine in the Ziveli portfolio worth trying.

Treasure Island Wines - 2016 Pinot Noir, Bennett Valley

Wed, 02/17/2021 - 07:00 -- johnk


Treasure Island Wines 2016 Pinot Noir, Bennett Valley


I really love the versatility of this wine grape. While all wines take on the terroir and just about everything in the winemaking process, Pinot Noir seems to provide a wide spectrum of flavors. From bright red cherry, and cherry pie filling to earthy forest floor are very characteristic experiences on the palate and at the nose. This makes a Pinot Noir one of my go to wines when dinning out with friends that are not big red wine drinkers but want to enjoy a glass with their meal but are not sure what to order. Treasure Island Wines is at the forefront of San Francisco's urban winery movement; a home for wineries and tasting rooms offering something for almost every wine aficionados' interest. This wide variety makes the Island a perfect place for Bay Area residents to take daytime wine tours at a location much closer to home than Sonoma or Napa. Among those pouring their wines for visitors is Treasure Island Winery.

Treasure Island Wines was founded in 2007 and is the first operational urban winery and tasting room on the former US Naval Base right in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Jim Mirowski winemaker and owner has fulfilled his goal to create a place where skilled winemakers craft small-batch artisan wines. 2016 Bennett Valley Pinot Noir is a wonderful Burgundian style Pinot with cherry, some vanilla, and smooth finish. Good now or for aging.


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