johnk's blog

johnk's blog

Toca Madera Winery - 2016 Malbec

Tue, 02/02/2021 - 15:24 -- johnk

Toca Madera Winery - 2016 Malbec review

Originally from the Bordeaux region of France, Malbec has most of its planting in Argentina, in the Mendoza region in 2011 represented 86% of all the Malbec plantings in Argentina.  In the United States, the majority of Malbec is planted in California, which in 2011 accounted for 84% of the Malbec plantings in the entire country, even though 84% of the Malbec plantings are in California, only 0.5% of all red grape plantings in California are Malbec.  In order words, while California has most of the Malbec in the United States, they have extraordinarily little compared to more “traditional” red varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.

If Malbec is one of those wines people hear about, but often don’t take the opportunity to try… now is the time! This grape used to be mainly blended into Bordeaux blends, but now wine lovers are enjoying Malbec as its own varietal. If you’re just now becoming familiar with Malbec, it is good to know the difference between a North America Malbec and a South American Malbec. As Malbec is not widely planted in the United States, and again you will find the majority of the plantings in California. 

One of the most well-known and largest wine regions in South America is Argentina, specifically the Mendoza region, which produces mainly Malbec grapes. While both California and Argentina have regions with the perfect climate for growing these dark-skinned grapes, which love warm days and cool nights, there are distinct differences between the wines from each region. For example:

California Malbec Wines

Idle Hour Winery - 2016 Tannat

Wed, 01/27/2021 - 07:00 -- johnk

    Idle Hour WInery - 2016 Tannat


Tannat is a favorite variety of winemaker Anna Marie Dos Remedios, who has sourced it from Heringer for several years now.  The familiarity shows, with a gentle coaxing of full expression evident.  Bright blackberry and spiced plum flood the nose and the mouth, with notes of cedar chest and vanilla adding interest.  Delicious!  

A Platinum Award Winner at the 2018 Monterey International Wine Competition.  

The Tannat grape finds its main home in the Southwest France. There, it is used to make full-bodied, rustic and brambly reds, according to our Tannat Wine Reviews. Over the last several decades, Tannat has broadened its horizons and is now grown and vinified in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Italy, Peru, Uruguay, and the United States. In fact, it has become the most prominent and widely grown varietal in Uruguay and is used in every style from fortified reds to sweet rosés. However, in examining our Tannat Wine Ratings, it is the dry red wine style of Tannat that is held in the highest regard. Depending on where the wine is made and the amount of oak aging.

Idle Hour Winery's 2016 Tannat

This is a beautiful full-bodied red with delightful blackberry and dark plumb on the nose and the palate. The Tannat has gripping tannin, beautiful blackberry, dried fruit, black plum, and dark chocolate. This is wonderfully structured wine and it would pair well with dishes with high protein and rich in fat.

About Idle Hour Winery

Treasure Island Winery 2016 Petite Sirah - Amador County

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 08:00 -- johnk

Treasure Island Winery 2016 Petite Sirah - Amador County


Treaure Island Wines Petite Sirah – Perhaps we could start by saying this is no obscure little wine grape. In California Petite Sirah is the sixth most widely planted red wine grape in the state. Last I checked there were more than 12,000 acres of Petite Sirah planted in California. Perhaps you are like me in that a lot of the time, the wines produced as a varietal of this grape are often too dense, too chewy, just too, too! Yes, this grape can produce some monster wines that are liable to leave your mouth parched and your teeth colorfully stained. 

Okay, so if that’s how you feel why write about another Petite Sirah. Well for one thing, I love earthy red wines. Second there are some winemakers that are interpreting the grape variety in a way that emphasizes finesse and grace over towering power of a wine — showing that there’s really is a reason to get excited about Petite Sirah after all.

Jose Wine Caves 2012 Estate Aglianico

Tue, 12/29/2020 - 16:50 -- johnk

Jose Wine Caves 2012 Estate Aglianico wine review

Aglianico “alli-yawn-nico” is a black grape well known in the southern regions of Italy. This wine grape is considered with Sangiovese and Nebbiolo to be one of the three greatest Italian varieties. Aglianico produces a highly refined, complex wines that are among those considered famous in Italy. A full-bodied red wine young Aglianico wines are known for strikingly savory flavors of leather, white pepper, and dark fruits. If you are patient and allow the wine to age it develops soft aromas of dried figs and sun-tanned leather and a dusty or earthiness. 

Is Aglianico worthy of cellaring for a few years?
Yes, easily age worthy for 10 to 20 years.
I remember the saying that was popular years ago from Paul Mason Winery; “we serve no wine before it’s time.”  You will find that patience is a virtue when it comes to this full-bodied, high tannin and the acidity of this wine. A good Aglianico really doesn’t start to come into their best until it has aged for 10 years or so. It is then, with time, that the firm tannins and concentrated acidity begin to reveal lush layers of the fruit sweetening, dried floral bouquet with a spicy smokiness and dusty savory flavors really become apparent.

California Central Coast Wines - De Tierra 2017 Red Wine

Sat, 12/12/2020 - 11:00 -- johnk

California's Central Coast produces some delightful wines. This post and video will be focusing on a wonderful red wine,           

De Tierra Vineyards 2017 Five by Five Red Blend – 
In the glass and to the eye - a deep burgandy in color. A deep, vivid ruby color nearly perfectly diffuse from its core to a slightly lighter rim.

Central Coast Wine Review - Toucan Wines 2010 Carignane, Evangelho Vineyards

Sun, 11/15/2020 - 11:00 -- johnk

Toucan Wines 2010 Carignane – Evangelho Vineyard, Contra Costa County, CA

Carignane also spelled Carignan is a black-skinned wine grape variety commonly found along the Mediterranean cost primarily in Northern Spain and in France. This grape is commonly used in blending with the more well-known Grenache, Syrah, or Mourvèdre to produce some delightful wines. However, some wonderful Carignane wine grapes grow in the Evangelho Vineyard located in Contra Costa County here in California and is the last, and only vineyard in Antioch.  There are other dry-farmed, ancient vineyards throughout the country. However, this remaining vineyard offers a special piece of Antioch history with its vines were planted in 1890 and still feeds into the current wine-making industry in California.  

Coffees Are Like Fine Wines

Fri, 11/06/2020 - 14:00 -- johnk

100% Kona CoffeeCoffees like fine wine? Well, let's see how can we compare a caffeinated beverage to wine. Let's consider how today's Coffees are similar to or like fine wines. My wife and I have belonged to several coffee clubs over the years. Still, it really wasn’t until we traveled together and through parts of Costa Rica with some dear friends that I can say I started genuinely appreciating fine coffee. Oh, I had been enjoying some good coffees, but a coffee tour while visiting this beautiful country with a good friend of ours got that call Costa Rica home to me looking a bit more seriously at coffee. 

I realize I am probably not the first to compare fine coffee with fine wines. Coffee that delightful brew as I knew it, is more than just the warm caffeinated beverage, to enjoy every morning. Oh, believe me, I look forward to a nice warm cup each morning. Likely you already know coffee beans, are really the seeds from the fruit of the coffee plant. Coffee plants much like wine varietals and vines themselves, are significantly affected by where they are grown and the conditions soil where they are grown. Have you heard the saying; “you are what you eat?” Well, the same goes for a lot of living things. Wines and coffees certainly share similarities as to the terroir from which they came. 

The Terroir – 

Sierra Foothill Wineries and Wines - Wise Villa Winery - 2009 Sierra Foothills Syrah

Sun, 10/04/2020 - 11:28 -- johnk

California Wine Tasting With Wise Villa Winery

Sierra Foothill wineries produce some delicous wines and Syrah is one of the wine grapes known to produce delightful wines in the region. Yes, the foothills of Placer County produce some wonderful wines with a little "altitude" if you would. I would like to introduce you to one from Wise Villa Winery.

Just a few weeks ago while going through my wine storage I discovered that I still had one of first vintage Syrah laying down. I Still remember a few other wines that I purchase during my visit with Dr. Grover Lee winemaker and the owner of the Estate and Kevin Luther the winemaker. It was a wonderful experience in the barrel room doing some barrel tasting with the owner and the winemaker that visit. 

Since Wise Villa's first vintage with their first released in 2009, Wise Villa Winery has been a family owned and operated winery, estate vineyard, and more recently a Tuscan-style bistro located in the heart of the Sierra Foothills.  Wise Villa is in the wine Appellation of Placer County and they have continued to please many a wine-lover since my first vist nearly 9 years ago.  Wines Villa's grapes are meticulously grown using organic and sustainable practices. During harvest the folks at the winery go a step further by triple sorting and then implementing whole berry cold fermentation to produce balanced wines with natural fresh fruit character. 

Paso Robles Wines - Maréchal Vineyards 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

Fri, 10/02/2020 - 16:41 -- johnk

Paso Robles Wines are getting more and more attention from wine lovers all over the world.  I would like to introduce you to Maréchal Vineyards - 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – Paso Robles

Paso Robles strives for Big, Bold, and richly textured, both ready-to-drink and a few Cabernet Sauvignons worthy of laying down if you can wait along with Bordeaux Blends. These Paso Reds have flavors of anise, cola, peppercorns with a finish of bright acidity and quality finish.

Some pioneers of Cabernet Sauvignon are Gary Eberle, who planted Cabernet vines in the 1970’s not knowing for sure what to expect. To Gary Eberle’s delight and those that have enjoyed his cabs the vines loved the soil and the hot Paso sun. In 1979 the winemaker founded Eberle Winery. Another pioneer for this grape was Justin Baldwin or perhaps you recognize Justin Winery who planted 70 of Bordeaux varieties in 1981. Justin Vineyard and Winery was born with his first vintage in 1987. Jerry Lohr founder of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines contributed to the recognition of Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon starting in 1986 with planting and hands-on care saw to the tending of the vines while creating a winery and barreling facility. Fruits of his efforts became a reality in 1988 and currently spans over 2,000 acres in Paso Robles. Really, there are many more contributors in Paso and if you haven’t been, you are in for a treat.

Bogle Phantom Propreitory Red - 2012

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 04:30 -- johnk


Awhile back I was doing some customer direct marketing and pouring a wine from Bogle, Bogle Phantom.  Like any wine, you can’t please everyone with any one wine. The fact is our taste preferences are as individual as we are. Bogle Phantom is a “proprietary red wine” from Bogle Vineyards in Clarksburg, California, USA. I enjoyed my visit to the Bogle winery in Clarksburg AVA just across the river from Sacramento and manage to take the long way out. So, when you visit, unless you want to explore, remember to head back the way you came. If you don’t you will see a lot of farm and vineyard and eventual end up at a river ferry crossing with no choice but to take the ferry, or turn around. I had come this far so I took the ferry across the river, to see what I could see.

While Bogle doesn’t reveal the blend composition, “proprietary red wine” they do say the vineyard source is Amador, Clarksburg, and Lodi.  Phantom is aged 24 months in one and two-year-old American oak. On the bottle, underneath the title of the wine reads: “Mysterious and Hauntingly Seductive”
Bogle describes this wine as follows:

“As you pour it from the bottle the glass just might remind you of the dark recesses of the cellar you sense a presence, hear footsteps.  Why is it these things only happen when you are alone?  In the shadows, a glimpse of muddy boots and old blue jeans…  the lurking legacies of hard work and determination left by those who have come before you.  We are proud to carry on the traditions of our founders with this unique red wine.  A deep ruby apparition that personifies the true spirit of the Bogle.”


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