Hot outside? Love me some Passaggio Rosé

When I first met winemaker Cynthia Cosco a couple of years ago in San Francisco, I immediately felt she was someone I wanted to follow. Her affiliation with DogPatch Wine Works in San Francisco, an urban wine group, helped cement my affiliation.

Passaggio with Greg
While I live in the Central Valley, I can still get out to visit Sonoma County wineries a few times a year. Passaggio winemaker and owner Cynthia Cosco met me at her Sonoma Square tasting room a few months ago.

While I sometimes feel a loss for not accomplishing my dreams yet, I am inspired by those who have risked much for a dream in pursuit of their passion. Yesterday, as I sat in my pool, sipping the last of my 2014 Passaggio Wine Tempranillo Rose, my thoughts turned to Cynthia.

Cynthia’s story and Passaggio Wines are now a well-known commodity to Sonoma winophiles (Video). After a 15-year career in law enforcement, she sought to reconnect to her Italian family tradition of winemakers and pursued the passion in 2004 at BevMo of all places.

By 2007 she was making her own wine while working for CrushPad in Napa and later in Sonoma while becoming their lead winemaker in 2011. She introduced her brand in 2012 and now has a tasting room in the Sonoma Square.

Cynthia’s participation in community events, promotion of other winemakers via twitter chats and her encouraging demeanor is infectious. And while I continue to reinvent myself, a transition from full-time journalism teacher to social media and reputation management specialist to a passion for food and wine, I am inspired by people like Cynthia who dream and day-by-day step out, risk and pursue a a vision.

PassaggioRose1
While I finished my 2014 Passaggio Tempranillo Rose, their tasting room as both the 2015 version as well as one created from Merlot. Both are excellent pool and food wines.

So while I sip Passaggio 2014 Tempranillo, the wild strawberry, watermelon, raspberry and dry savory notes linger. It’s crisp flavors are great alone or with a poolside food bite. But that is old news. The 2015 version is for sale with slightly different flavors as vineyard, weather and winemaker all adjust character, combined with past experiences and focus.

Heck, I understand the 2015 Passaggio Merlot Rose is delicious. While I missed the #WineStudio Sonoma Rosé Revolution Twitter chat on June 7 while I was in Italy, I know I missed good conversation. I need to stop into her tasting room and try a bottle and reconnect with Cynthia.

And if you get to Sonoma Square before I do, please tell her and tasting room manager Frank, I said hi.

Passaggio Wines is open every day of the week. They can be found in the Sonoma Square. Their tasting room is at 25 East Napa St, Suite C, Sonoma, CA 95476. Phone: (707) 934-8941 and email: info@passaggiowines.com. They are open Monday-Thursday, noon- 6 p.m., Friday-Sunday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

PassaggioSonoma

If you missed my last post, check out the August 16, 2015, post, Beat the heat with cool Gazpacho, Medlock Ames Rosé. After 10 months of darkness, TalesoftheCork is ready to resume regular postings. Please check back and repost.

And if winemakers, wineries or restaurants are interested in a TalesoftheCork wine and/or food review on the blog, InstagramTwitter and/or Facebook, please send us a request via email: talesofthecork@gmail.com or use DM on social media. TalesoftheCork also offers social media seminars for businesses.

Beat the heat with cool Gazpacho, Medlock Ames Rosé

With temperatures well over 100F this week, we are creating simpler meals to feed us but promote cool plates and quieter ovens.

Our evening began away from the table for a quick sip of a Medlock Ames 2013 Alexander Valley Bell Mountain Estate #Rose, Sonoma County. I love taking a moment to relax for a few minutes with a sip of Rose before dinner by the pool.

Medlock Ames is an estate fine wine producer located in Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California. Started in 1998 by friends Chris James and Ames Morison, their boutique winery and ranch produces high quality, artisan wines that are organically farmed and the methods include 100% solar-powered and advocate progressive, creative farming. They are tucked away at the edge of Alexander Valley atop Bell Mountain. You can find the Medlock Ames tasting room in a century-old landmark Alexander Valley Store & Bar via 3487 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448. Call them at 707.431.8845 or use email:info@medlockames.com. They are also on Twitter and Instagram.

While this is not their best effort, I am trying the Medlock Ames 2013 a year after release. However, the Medlock Ames 2013 Rose has yummy aromas of strawberries, watermelon and spice. It’s crisp, dry and has a slight tangy finish. I know their 2014 is even better so make sure to check in with their latest offering.

Our first entrée was summer soup: homemade chilled Gazpacho. We shopped the local farmers market for fresh heirloom and plum tomatoes, a red pepper, cucumber, two celery sticks, a red onion, basil, and a jalapeño. Later we added red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar, cracked salt and pepper (all to taste). One of the keys to a create cold tomato-based soup is fresh ingredients and to add and subtract based on your palate. Chop into larger pieces but let the blender do the work as you blend the ingredients to a smooth consistency.

GazpachoDinner
While dinners don’t need fancy plates, we purchased these bright melamine summer-colored dinners on clearance at Sur la Table. They seem to add a ‘pop’ to a TalesoftheCork meal.

Place blended mixture in a bowl and refrigerate for at least two hours before service.

In the meantime, we created a garlic cream to drizzle over top before eating. We added 1/3 cup (100cc) of whipping or heavy cream, mince and swirled in three chopped cloves of garlic. Place in a cooler for an hour, bring to room temperature and pass the cream through a sieve before dripping on the surface of the Gazpacho.

For a crunch while chilling with the Gazpacho, we also made herbed-garlic croutons–day old sourdough, baguette or Batard are best. Chop into good size pieces, coat in good olive oil and minced garlic, add a sprinkle of Italian herbs, salt and pepper and toast in a 350F oven for 15 minutes.

Wait until just before service before adding the garnished basil, cream garlic drizzle and herbed-garlic croutons. This adds interest and adds flare to the presentation as well as to the overall taste.

It sounds involved, but this really is super easy! 😎

For the second entree, some prep is also needed but simple in nature. Two hours before, Geena prepared a tomato confit. This entails boiling whole plum tomatoes for 20 seconds then removing their skins. Then she halved the tomatoes, removed the seeds and drizzled them in a pan with olive oil, sliced garlic, salt and peeper and roasted them at 250F for two hours.

GrilledCheesePeaches
The 3-cheese grilled sourdough sandwich includes Havarti, Gruyere, and an aged white cheddar. Grilled peaches are wonderful summer snacks, fresh fruit option with fresh figs and/or a dessert.

The tomato confit was then added to already melted three-cheese grilled sourdough open sandwiches. We used Havarti, Gruyere, and aged white cheddar. Add a little butter to the outside of the bread to give the closed sandwich its golden color and crisp characteristics.

Meanwhile I fired up the BBQ with some wood and briquettes to grill our fruit (dessert if I could be patient). After cutting the peaches in half, I brushed them will olive oil, Grand Marnier, and a dab of butter, grilling them on each side off the flame for three to five minutes a side depending on how hot your grill is. I finished with a sprinkle of raw sugar on each half, grilling to caramelize and get the classic grill marks.

We finished the plate with halved Mission and Tiger figs–raw–and added a glass of sparkling Pellegrino. A TalesoftheCork summer dinner to keep cool but still feel like you ate well.

If you missed my last post, check out the August 4, 2015, post, Grilled salmon, peaches and Cardwell Hill Pinot.

Be sure to return check out my Twitter @TalesoftheCork and on my Instagram (@Talesofthecork) daily postings. Please take the time to find me on Facebook as well at Facebook/TalesoftheCork. I also would covet those who would suggest a wine, restaurant, chef or hotel to visit. Feel free to contact me through social media or via email at talesofthecork@gmail.com.

Grilled salmon, peaches and Cardwell Hill Pinot

With just a little forethought, tonight’s dinner is easily accomplished. Geena and I are getting back to meal planning on Sundays and with a grocery, meat and fish list, great meals are really only 30 minutes of prep time.

Grilled salmon and peaches is quick. Just brush both with olive oil. Add Grand Marnier and some Allspice to the peaches for added flavor.
Grilled salmon and peaches is a 30-minute prep meal. Begin by brushing both with olive oil and let them come to room temperature. Add Grand Marnier and some Allspice to the peaches for added flavor.

Plan to stop and pick up salmon on the way home from work. You will also need two peaches, quinoa, mint, a couple of carrots, celery, cucumber, asparagus and plain yogurt.

Dinner tonight: Grilled spiced salmon with homemade raita dressing, quinoa, roasted asparagus with Romano cheese and grilled peaches.

The trick to great salmon is brushing it with olive oil, adding cracked pepper and a touch of salt. Lightly drip olive oil over the peaches, add Allspice and drizzle (the secret ingredient) Grand Marnier before grilling.

The salmon takes about 8 minutes while the peaches about 6 minutes. It is a good idea to sear both but then grill them off the heat and bake them, allowing the wood and briquets to fill the BBQ with its great smokey flavors.

Salmon most often will call for a Pinot Noir. Tonight we choose a Cardwell Hill Cellars Pinot from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
Salmon most often will call for a Pinot Noir. Tonight we choose a Cardwell Hill Cellars Pinot from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

A great, healthy addition to this meal is quinoa. We added chopped celery and carrots to the quinoa at the very end to add a crunch and to ensure they stay crispy. The sauce or dressing on the grilled salmon is a homemade raita dressing. The cucumber dressing is a favorite in India and is built on a plain yogurt base. Add garlic, shredded cucumber, mint, cracked pepper and a teaspoon of salt.

It is a good idea to refrigerate this mixture for an hour before adding to the grilled salmon. The raita is a great topping as its crisp acidity adds interest to the rich flavor of the salmon. This works well with the spice and smokey char of the grilled fish.

This one dish meal is perfect with a Pinot Noir. We chose Cardwell Hill Cellars 2008 Reserve Estate Willamette Valley in Oregon. Contrary to what others have said online, this Pinot is a winner. I imagine it just needed more time in the bottle to “grow up.” This is a three-clone French-style Pinot Noir: Silky smooth, dark bing cherry earthiness and spice with vanilla and caramel notes. So pretty, light and clean. This can easily be enjoyed by itself or with grilled fish, roast chicken and pork chops. Loved it!

If you missed my last post, check out the August 4, 2015 post, Grilled shrimp appetizers and Cooper Rose.

Be sure to return check out my Twitter @TalesoftheCork and on my Instagram (talesofthecork) daily postings. Please take the time to find me on Facebook as well at Facebook/TalesoftheCork. I also would covet those who would suggest a wine, restaurant, chef or hotel to visit. Feel free to contact me through social media or via email at talesofthecork@gmail.com.

Tuscan tasting: Castello di Amorosa Melanson Vineyard Cabernet

TalesoftheCork Wine Reviews

2010 Castello di Amorosa Pritchard Hill Melanson Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

I had the pleasure of tasting a first production wine just bottled during my visit. The 2010 six-barrel production of Castello di Amorosa Pritchard Hill Melanson Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is an aromatic dream. It’s classic barnyard, earthiness and plum overtones are a true connection to the terroir of the next expected Napa AVA.

 

This is shaping up to be a classic Left Bank Bordeaux. Already the lush velvety juice lingered long and the aroma seemed to fill the room after I swished the dark wine in the goblet. While the Melanson cab obviously still needs time to mature, this is going to be a collector’s AND drinker’s dream bottle of red in years to come. There is a six bottle minimum purchase at $125/bottle with a maximum of two cases.

http://www.winemag.com/Wine-Enthusiast-Magazine/Web-2012/Pinning-Down-Pritchard-Hill/

Be sure to return check out my Twitter @TalesoftheCork and on my Instagram (talesofthecork) daily postings. I also would covet those who would suggest a wine, restaurant, chef or hotel to visit. Feel free to contact me through social media or via email at talesofthecork@gmail.com.

Beaulieu Vineyards Reserve Tapestry 2009 Napa Valley

TalesoftheCork Wine Reviews

Beaulieu Vineyard Reserve Tapestry 2009 Napa Valley

For those of you whose pocketbook will not allow them to purchase the Aug. 17, 2013, Wine Spectator Daily Pick: Beaulieu Vineyard Maestro Collection Ranch No. 1 Rutherford 2009 for $65, I recommend a 91-point BV wine that still should satisfy even discriminating tastes for just over half the cost.

Since 1900, the Latour family has been farming the Napa Valley and helping create and add to its beauty. Since then the BV vineyards, vines and wines have been a part of the backbone of Napa Valley and Rutherford, California’s, history.

Beaulieu Vineyard Reserve Tapestry is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Its dark red fruit, flowers, licorice are some of the notes that emerge from this sleek, beautifully balanced red.
Beaulieu Vineyard Reserve Tapestry is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Its dark red fruit, flowers, licorice are some of the notes that emerge from this sleek, beautifully balanced red.

Beaulieu Vineyard Reserve Tapestry Napa Valley 09 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Winemaker Jeffrey Stambor chose blocks of reserve-quality grapes which combine to create a wine that has soft tannins and is approachable/drinkable now.

The fruit is deep, dark and red–even jammy. First tastes are cassis and blackberry but give way to licorice, black cherry, plum and a hint of chocolate. There is a light minerality, spice, herb and earthiness to the blend while the floral notes slightly increase after opening.

Robert Parker in The Wine Advocate called the BV Reserve Tapestry 2009 “… A beautifully balanced red.” The Wine Spectator referred to the bottle as “Graceful, with complex spice, herb, dried currant and crushed rock flavors that are well-proportioned and gaining on the finish, where the flavors weave together with subtle nuances.”

While the suggested food pairing includes semi-hard cheeses like Bravo white cheddar, meat dishes, duck and mushroom dishes, I enjoyed my 2009 Beaulieu Vineyard Reserve Tapestry with a mesquite charcoal-grilled ribeye steak with a pomegranate red wine reduction sauce. The side dish was mozzarella, baby Roma tomatoes and basil fresh from the local farmer’s market mixed with vinegar and white balsamic. The Cabernet blend mixed well with the lightly braised tomatoes and complimented the peppery and smoky flavors of the meat. We used a fresh baked batard to sop up the juices.

While not BV's top Cabernet or blend, the Beaulieu Vineyard Tapestry Reserve paired well with my ribeye steak. I recommend this 90-91 point wine and a value buy drinking well now.
While not BV’s top Cabernet or blend, the Beaulieu Vineyard Tapestry Reserve paired well with my ribeye steak. I recommend this 90-91 point wine and a value buy drinking well now.

The BV Tapestry is definitely a Bordeaux-style wine built with a California palate in mind. While previous years and their estate Cabernet’s may have more finesse and complexity, this red blend will be a crowd pleaser. The finish is long, fleshy and friendly. I believe this wine will continue to improve over the next three years. This may be the Cabernet you buy six or 12 bottles to open over time.

The BV Tapestry blend is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec (Alcohol by volume: 14.8%). Drink now through 2017.

Currently this wine can be bought online through various outlets, including Beaulieu Vineyard Wines and WineChateau.com ($39.97). If you are willing to buy a case of this or mix and match wine, the shipping is free through WineChateau! Another excellent source to find a competitive pricing for wine is at Wine-Searcher.com.

The average price for this wine currently is $42 (excluding tax) and available for as low as $33 on the East Coast and $36 on the West Coast. Sample received courtesy Wine Chateau for review purposes.

The Beaulieu Vineyard visitor center is located at 1960 St. Helena Hwy. Rutherford, CA 94573. Call 800.264.6918, ext. 5233, or 707.967.5233 for more information. The tasting room also has wines that are not available anywhere else. The winery is also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bvwines and Twitter at @BVwines.

If you missed my last post, check out the, J. Rickards Winery: Darn fine barn wine (VIDEO).

Be sure to return check out my Twitter @TalesoftheCork and on my Instagram (talesofthecork) daily postings. I also would covet those who would suggest a wine, restaurant, chef or hotel to visit. Feel free to contact me through social media or via email at talesofthecork@gmail.com.