ASL - Kings River 2015 Chenin Blanc

Wed, 08/19/2020 - 12:17 -- johnk

Kings River Winery - 2015 Chenin Blanc

During the 1960’s and 70’s here in California Chenin Blanc was a popular wine. If a wine glass contained California Chenin Blanc in the 1970s or ’80s, the chances were high that it was poured either from a jug of nondescript blended wine or a bottle of semisweet, inexpensive single-varietal Chenin from a North Coast producer. Chenin Blanc was one of California’s first popular white grapes, planted throughout much of the 20th century. It became popular in bulk blending juice, which was labeled as California Champagne or Chablis resulting in an inexpensive, palate-friendly single-varietal wine with residual sugar. Both versions were typically lackluster, with some exceptions. Once found in cheap blends, the grape is gaining popularity among boutique producers. Some 50 years later there only a handful of wineries in California make this wonderful crisp and delightful wine that originates from the Chenin Blanc grape. Over the past decade, artisanal winemakers have launched a new California wave of limited-production Chenin Blanc wines from the Central Valley, Sierra Foothills, Mendocino, Santa Barbara, and are striving to change the reputation of California Chenin Blanc for good. Kings River Winery in Sanger California produces a genuinely nice bottle that we will review here in California Corks’ “Zip Sips”

California Corks "Zip Sips" – Moseley Family Cellars – 2016 Chardonnay

Wed, 08/19/2020 - 07:30 -- johnk

I had the opportunity to meet Marty and Mimi Moseley at their original tasting room in downtown Redding, CA some years ago. Since then they have expanded not only the size and space where they produce their wines but the variety of wines available as well to be enjoyed by those visiting. Marty and Mimi have always had the attitude “come as friends, leave a family”. As they expanded their winery this required help to make sure not only delightful wines continued to be produced, but that visitors would still feel welcome and part of the winery’s “family”.  Enters Ashley Pierce winemaker, who took on the task as the winery’s winemaker. While my last visit with Ashley was brief at an wine event in Northern California, I was able to try a few of the wines Ashley had produced. This tasting lead to an exchange about a couple of the wines she has brought from the cellar to the tasting room and I am looking forward to my next visit to check those wines out as well.

Treasure Island Wines - 2018 Pine Mountain Sauvignon Blanc

Thu, 08/13/2020 - 06:00 -- johnk

Treasure Island Wines – 2018 – Pine Mountain
Did you know that Sauvignon Blanc is the parent grape that produced Cabernet Sauvignon? It’s true, back in the seventeenth century in southwestern France, an accidental breeding occurred between a red Cabernet Franc grape vine and a white Sauvignon Blanc grape vine. The results are what we know today as one the most popular grapes among American wine drinkers, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Treasure Island Wines 2018 Pine Mountain Sauvignon Blanc is produced by using some of California’s exceptional wine grapes. Vineyards where the fruit comes from vineyards that stand at an elevation of 2,200 to 2,800 feet in elevation just northeast of Cloverdale, CA. The Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon fruit grown in this region deliver intense color and flavors. Rightly so for Jim Mirowski, winemaker and owner produces excellent wines at his winery located on Treasure Island below the Bay Bridge and in view of the city’s skyline of San Francisco. 

Alicante Bouschet – Ziveli 2016

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 07:06 -- johnk

Where To Find Alicante Bouschet?
Some grapes came to be by nature. Alicante Bouschet was the result of a science experiment. Over its 150-year history, Alicante Bouschet has always been in the background, sort of secret ingredient to embolden other red wines, or to make bathtub booze during prohibition. If you peel back the skin of an Alicante Bouschet grape, you’ll see what separates it from the rest. Unlike other grapes, which have clear flesh, Alicante Bouschet has red flesh. When you enjoy this wine grape be prepared for purple teeth!
Lovers of Big Reds - Look to Alicante Bouschet.

In the mid-1900s, many French and American producers realized that Alicante Bouschet wasn’t a must for rich colored wines. Winemakers no longer needed the grape’s rich color, so growth declined. Don’t worry, little orphan Alicante Bouschet – the Iberian Peninsula was happy to adopt this grape. Both Portugal and Spain have planted more Alicante Bouschet over the last 50 years. Honestly, it’s probably better suited to the climates in these two countries anyway. This wine grape is one of the few red grapes with red flesh, Alicante Bouschet is an oddity that makes big, juicy red wines. Today, Alicante Bouschet is finally bottled on its own. Lovers of rich, fruit-forward reds like Shiraz, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon take note: Alicante Bouschet is quite the find! 

Yribarren Family Vineyards - 2016 San Joaquin River Syrah

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 07:00 -- johnk

Yribarren Family Vineyards 2016 San Joaquin River Syrah
Syrah is a black grape variety that most commonly makes medium to full-bodied dry red wine. Syrah is a big-bodied, dry red wine. Not only is Syrah flavor-packed, but it’s also one of the darkest colored inky wines you can find. Deep purple in hue with not much translucency, Syrah’s violet and velvety elegance is backed by big fruit and crunchy spice. This is a delightful wine that will please many that are still searching for a red to enjoy as well as those that have been enjoying their reds for some time. 
Pairing Syrah with Food.


Syrah starts out with a bit of a punch on the opening palate. As such, we don’t want to be eating food alongside Syrah that’s in any way bland. The first thing that comes to my mind is dry-rub brisket or well-seasoned pork, which is both juicy and savory. I like to think of Syrah as juicy, savory, and spicy — especially New World wines, where you experience black and blue fruit punch backed by tannin and cracked pepper spice. Yribarren Family Vineyards 2016 San Joaquin River Syrah provides those that have it in their glass the taste of delightful dark fruit, blackberry and a hint of dark chocolate, while not sweet the fruit make it very enjoyable and both those that are new to Syrah or red wines and those that have been enjoying them for some time will find very pleasant. 

Kings River Winery 2015 Albariño

Sat, 08/01/2020 - 12:15 -- johnk

Kings River Winery 2015 Albariño

A few Albariño facts:

Albariño wine (pronounced “alba-reen-yo”) is a top-shelf light-bodied white wine grown primarily in Spain and Portugal (Vinho Verde). It’s also grown in the United States, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Uruguay. Albariño was presumably brought to Iberia by Cluny monks in the twelfth century. 

  • August 1st is International Albariño Day
  • Some of the oldest living vines in the world are Albariño Vines and are up to 300 years old.
  • It is common to see the word “Albariño on Spanish wine labels unlike other which label by region.
  • Spanish and Portuguese winemakers have always treasured the freshness of Albariño and do not age in oak. 
  • The grapes are small with thick skins. Not only does this make Albariño harder to produce wines, it also often results in a distinct raw-almond or citrus pith like bitterness.
  • Many Albariño vineyard the vines are trained to trellis over-head to help keep the grapes dry and avoid rot.
  • There are two main regions that Albariño can widely be found in Spain and in Portugal’s Vinho Verde in Portugal where it is know as Alvarinho. 

Kings River Winery 2015 Albariño is a wonderful example of this grape. 

PRIMARY FLAVORS: Lemon Zest, Grapefruit, Honeydew, Nectarine, Saline

Fäsi Estates Winery – 2013 Malbec Reserva – from Argentina Vineyard – Uco Valley

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 06:37 -- johnk

Fäsi Estates Winery – 2013 Malbec Reserva – from Argentina Vineyard – Uco Valley

Ok, I know this is not a California wine. In my defense and the wines, it is only proper to recognize this endeavor of a Central Valley winery and vineyard owner, Ralph Fäsi, who just happens to hold interest in vineyards located in the Uco Valley of Argentina. While on one of my visiting Fäsi Estate Winery I was able to taste this wonderful Malbec.


Malbec vs Merlot
Malbec and merlot both originate from the Bordeaux Region of France and are used in red wine blends. Both grapes and the wines they produce exhibit flavors of dark, juicy fruits and notes of tobacco and vanilla. While Merlot is softer than Malbec, with less intense tannins. Both wines pair well with red meat. 

Fäsi Estates Winery – 2013 Malbec Reserva Taste and Flavor Profile
This 2013 Malbec Reseva is a dry, full-bodied wine and shows itself off with a rich, dark fruit nose and flavors like blackberry and red plum. The 2013 is juicy and jammy, with notes of vanilla, tobacco, dark chocolate, and oak with medium acid and moderate tannins and they pair very well with food. High-quality Argentinian Malbec's effectively reflect their terroir, with high altitude wine boasting red fruit flavors like cherry and raspberry and more floral notes. French Malbecs are typically on the earthier side. I am looking forward to doing more California Malbec reviews in the future.

Ziveli Winery - 2017 California  Gewürztraminer

Thu, 07/23/2020 - 06:45 -- johnk

Ziveli Winery - 2017 California Gewürztraminer -



Ever wonder how a person’s name affects their potential? Perhaps it’s in the name that Gewürztraminer is a bit less known in the world of wine. Gewürztraminer has carried its lesser known name for nearly 200 years. While all too often a Gewürztraminer is from Germany it you do locate one in the while wine or import section of your local wine shop. A good Gewürztraminer is good, if not great and can like so many wines be not the same from one wine maker to another. While aromatic sweet wines like Gewürztraminer are slightly out of fashion, there is opportunity to find some of the most outstanding values on the planet. I hope that highlighting Ziveli 2017 Gewürztraminer wine tastes and food pairing recommendations that will get you to thinking about this wine grape. Gewürztraminer is like the grown-up version of Moscato. While there are many similarities to Moscato it also has higher alcohol, more striking aromatics, and lower acidity. These characteristics make this grape and the wines produced a bit more difficult to slurp down, thus making it a little more ‘adult like’.

Kings River Winery - 2015 Karmir

Wed, 07/22/2020 - 07:50 -- johnk

In old Armenian, Karmir, means crimson red. Bob Bagdasarian winemaker and winery owner at Kings River Winery has taken several wine grapes known to be teeth-stainers, Alicante Bouschet, Tempranillo and Syrah and has created crimson in the glass. I meet Bob sometime back while visiting his winery with Lance Huntress with Huntress Media shooting some video to for a video collage for a few Central Valley wineries (you can take a peek at the video by using the link at the end of this post). Bob was a gracious host and took the time to give me the grand tour of the winery and the vineyard. I will be doing some video reviews on several of Kings River Winery wines in the weeks to come. During a recent visit Bob was at the winery and he asked which wines I had selected during the visit. I let Bob know I would really like to feature one of his wines that many people might not be so familiar with and Bob suggested his 2015 Karmir.


Karmir is a blend of 60% Alicante Bouschet, 20% Tempranillo, and 20% Syrah. 

About Kings River Winery

Fäsi Estate Winery – 2003 Private Reserve

Wed, 07/15/2020 - 07:39 -- johnk

California Wine tasting with Fäsi Estate Winery – 2003 Private Reserve
2009 Fäsi Crest Private Reserve Syrah
CA - Madera County - Madera

Retired Vintage/Library Wine / Ingredients: Organic Syrah Grapes
Winemaker Notes: Deep rich color, black cherry spice. Hint of tobacco with a background of toasty oak. Flavors of blackberry, chocolate, black licorice combined with warm toasty wood flavors and balanced acidity. Fruit forward finish with nuance of vanilla.
Food Pairing: Beef, lamb, BBQ meats, gourmet pastas
Cellaring: Ready to enjoy now
Alcohol 14.14%

Syrah’s often carry flavors of black cherry, black pepper, blackberry, plum, bell pepper, clove, licorice, espresso and dark chocolate.  So, when wondering what pairs best with Syrah’s consider these flavors, and whether these would complement the meal you are planning. Think grilled meats, vegetables, wild game and beef stew for starters.

While I enjoy a good many California Syrah’s there a at least two local wineries in the Fresno and Madera County area that seem to stand out. That being said, I would like to share with you 2003 Fäsi Crest Private Reserve Syrah. I should start out by saying that this wine is a retired vintage/library wine at this time. I just wanted to share with how well this nearly 11-year-old vintage is performing right now.  I just find this to be one of the outstanding wines that has been produced in California's Central Valley.


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