Boeuf Bourguignon with Deovlet ‘Sonny Boy’

Ryan Deovlet wine pairs well with traditional French dish

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Deovlet Wines 2013 “Sonny Boy” is a Bordeaux blend with 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon.

For the third time in the last month, we have placed a Deovlet wine on our menu. Winemaker Ryan Deovlet has created a marvelous Bordeaux blend, and we paired it with Boeuf Bourguignon. New world wine meets old world passion.

We were introduced to Deovlet Wines by Shannon Westfall and her Vinfluence wine club. She handpicks/curates boutique wines and is dedicated to non-profit support; it is a wonderful combo. More below.

Ryan Deovlet is highly connected not only to his past but the properties he has helped develop and wines he has created. And we are thrilled to have tasted some of his handcrafted wines.

Our latest sips are from a Deovlet 2013 ‘Sonny Boy’. I opened the bottle early in the afternoon and decanted it, allowing the lush aromas and notes of black plum, dark cherry, cedar, tobacco and hints of dark chocolate to smooth out and develop further. I stole a sip and the lush, smooth tannins already offered a long finish.

The Bordeaux blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet was aged for 22 months in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new. Additional Cabernet was blended in before bottling bringing the blend to a 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet. Ryan sourced his fruit from  the Vogelzang Vineyard (Merlot) and the Dierberg Star Lane Vineyard (Cabernet).

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The name “Sonny Boy” is  a tribute to Ryan’s grandfather who used the phrase as a term of endearment towards his grandsons.

At each vineyard site, Ryan carefully manages vines and yields, which are restricted in an effort to achieve the ultimate concentration of flavor.  With respect to Mother Nature, harvest decisions are based intending to display the purest, most natural vineyard expression possible.

Ryan created his ‘Sonny Boy’ blend to push the envelop of blending wines. He began blending them at fermentation. His philosophy is that the “closer you make a blend to the crushed, the more seamless the integration.”

As per his website, he shares  that “as links in a chain, we understand the importance of working together with premium sites and talented winegrowers.  Fruit quality is essential to crafting memorable wines of elegance, balance, and harmony.”

Deovlet says he walks a fine line between Old World-New World wines. “I try to offer a kiss of California sunshine, but I have one foot in the Old World and one foot in California.”

Ryan’s focus on Merlot is a tribute to his father who drank a glass of red wine each night (on doctor’s orders) and became a devotee of the grape varietal.

The name “Sonny Boy” on the Bordeaux blend is a nod to Ryan’s grandfather who used the phrase as a term of endearment towards his grandsons. Ryan fondly remembers his grandfather “rattling his cocktail glass, and saying, ‘Sonny Boy’, I need a refill.”

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While Pinot Noir is often chosen for our Boeuf Bourguignon, we paired it with a Deovlet Wines 2013 ‘Sonny Boy’ Bordeaux blend.

While we often pair our Boeuf Bourguignon with Pinot Noir or a Burgundy from France, we decided to open up the Deovlet 2013 ‘Sonny Boy’ from Happy Canyon. We were trilled from the get-go and loved it.

I love how the house smells when thick sliced bacon and chunks of chuck steak sizzle and sear. Later we added beef broth, tomato paste, a good bottle of Pinot Noir and vegetables to slowly simmer in a cast iron Dutch oven for a few hours. The aromas of cracked black pepper, garlic, Cognac, onions and herbs fill the house all afternoon.

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The Deovlet Wines ‘Sonny Boy’ is age worthy and drinkable until 2030. Only 150 cases made.

During this time, the wine opened up and its juicy, smooth tannins filled the glass with aromas of blackberries, toasty vanilla, dark chocolate and spice. As the evening progressed, black currant and an earthiness settled in with hints of bell pepper and leather. This is a full-bodied age-worthy wine with velvety tannins and a lush mouthfeel. The flavors lingered long on the palate.

Foodie and wine lovers have known about Ryan’s prowess for good Pinot Noir and Chardonnay since 2009 when he landed a 90-point score from Robert Parker. While he initially sold his wines door-to-door to local restaurants, his wines are sought after bottles. Ryan is committed to purchasing his fruit only from the finest vineyards in Santa Barbara County that form the foundation of his elegant wines.

While his fruit does not always come from certified organic vineyards, Ryan is careful to manage his harvest with minimal invasive techniques. However, he continues to pursue biodynamics, considering for instance, how same lunar cycles affect tides could affect optimal timing for things like racking barrels.

Ryan has developed his winemaking prowess via under the tutelage of local and international winemakers. It is this kind of learn by doing and under the mentorship of skilled artisans that helped shape his passion, artistry, and intuition. His hands-on approach both in the vineyard and in the cellar is evident. Most all of his labels are small lot vintages (usually under 200 cases) with overall production of around 2,000 cases per year.

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Ryan Deovlet started in wine journey in Australia in 2004 on an organic farm. Wine & Spirits Magazine named Deovlet Wineries to their Top 100 list in September 2016.

Like many craftsman before him, Ryan continues to learn from the history of those who created wines before him: “those who went before us and showed us the way.”

His journey to create wines that reflect the property they are grown on actually began after he graduated from UC San Diego and a college trip to Hawaii. While there he tasted coffee on a coffee plantation in 2004 and a passion was born. His interest of the concept of farm-to-table was born and decided to educated himself by doing.

He joined a program called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and moved to Australia at 21. There he became intrigued with all aspects of farming grapes.

Ryan says he learned early on that winemakers cannot separate terroir from the people. His wines reflect his time spent in Australia working the 2004 harvest at Mornington Peninsula at Turramurra Estate and in New Zealand working with vineyard crews in Central Otago and Hawkes Bay.

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By 2005 he spent two years working along side Stephen Dooley, owner/winemaker of Stephen Ross Wine Cellars. Ryan attributes his foundation and focus to his time spent in the cellar at Stephen Ross. After a couple of years, Ryan took the assistant winemaking position at Red Car Wine Company in 2007. While there, he was able to learn from consulting winemaker David Ramey and top viticulturists Dr. Daniel Roberts and Ulises Valdez.

Later he ending up in Mendoza, Argentina, working with renown winemaker Paul Hobbs at Viña Cobos. By 2008 Ryan founded Deovlet Wines and established a reputation for making exceptional wines on California’s central coast. Today, Ryan is a much sought after winemaker and also creates wines for the Edna Valley’s Biddle Ranch Vineyards and Refugio Ranch near Los Olives in the Santa Ynez Mountains.

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Old vine Sanford and Benedict Pinot Noir is hand-sorted during harvest 2016.

Be sure to find Deovlet Wines on Facebook and Instagram. Currently the 2014 Deovlet Wines ‘Sonny Boy’ is for sale on their website along with their single vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay small lot wines. The Deovlet Tasting Room is at 3750 Highway 46 in Templeton, California 93465 (Paso Robles). It is open Thursday – Sunday (11 a.m. – 5 p.m.) Call 805.712.8817. The Deovlet Winery is at 203 Suburban Rd., Suite 2, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401. Call them at 805.550.6300 or email them at info@deovletwines.com. The best way to get their wines though is to join their mailing list and wine club.

Special thanks to Shannon Westfall and her Vinfluencewine.com wine club for sharing a bottle with me. Please check out her site as she shares unique fine wines not available in stores. These are independent vintners, under the radar creating wines as true “craftsmen”, whose practices in the vineyard are sustainable and organic where possible.  Shannon includes a winemaker profile, stories and notes.

Vinfluencewine.com club members receive three or six bottles of artisanal wine from a different winemaker each month for $100/$200. Plus she donates to one of three causes with each shipment. Check them out.

Be sure to read TalesoftheCork’s previous blog post, “Yorba Wines: Sutter Creek’s premier label.” 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.

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.

Vino & Friends hosts JUSTIN Winery in Fresno

After opening a 1,500 square foot wine bar in Fresno on the NE corner of Cedar and Shepherd, owners Chuck and Jen Van Fleet built quite a lunch and after-work following in 2006. They gathered with friends, tasted, toasted and favored bottles of wine together. By 2011, the couple believed their regulars were ready for an expanded food and wine experience.

This summer Vino & Friends Wine Store & Bistro celebrated it’s first anniversary and expansion in the new tasting room, August 4, 2012. The new digs are four doors down in the Via Montana Shopping Center. With chef Katie Parker creating the menu, and a 750 ft. private party room for big groups, food service is now carefully paired, using over 40 wines by the glass or a 300+ bottle line-up. The energy in the air vibrates as people come to meet and hang out.

After opening their first wine shop in 2006, Chuck and Jen Van Fleet moved 75 feet down and reopened as Vino & Friends Wine Store & Bistro, Aug. 4, 2011.

I arrived at Vino & Friends for a visit with Van Fleet and Steve Lister of JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery to talk about JUSTIN’s award-winning wines, Sept. 22.

Van Fleet, a former Miller Brewing Co. rep. and General Manager for Auto Trader, was hosting Lister, JUSTIN’s wholesale sales manager. The bistro was abuzz. Lister was pouring and sharing tasting notes, so I spent my first 30 minutes with the Vino & Friends owner.

Chuck and Jen’s vision for a wine bar had its roots while they lived in Sacramento. The couple often traveled to Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Napa Valley, visiting favorite restaurants and wine-tasting before deciding to become entrepenuers.

“I wanted to own my own business,” Chuck said, “and after managing the Northern California Online Auto Trader for years, constantly traveling, I was ready to settle down. I wanted to do something I was passionate about. I looked at coffee shops and tanning businesses, but we both loved wine. Vino & Friends has become our passion.”

The bistro’s table and bar were filled to near capacity as Chuck and I spoke. I marveled how the staff energetically interacted with the patrons, serving food throughout my three-hour (2-5 p.m.) visit. The atmosphere was relaxed, comfortable and easy. I saw plates of butternut squash ravioli and specialty burgers go out all afternoon. This is not just a wine bar.

Owner Chuck Van Fleet, left, has expanded his wine bistro to include over 300 wines and 40 wines by the glass. The menu includes appetizers like stuffed figs and prosciutto-wrapped melon, ahi toasted minis or a Chef’s charcuterie platter are available besides salads, bruschetta, paninis, specialty burgers, pizza and pasta, and chef-created crepes.

“We had a strong wine club membership at the first location and I was confident it would grow as we expanded,” Van Fleet said. “All they have to do is park in a new spot. And while the new store looked like it might be too big for us, the increased business has created a menu for success.”

The original Vino & Friends only staffed four employees and now Chuck has 26 folks on the payroll. When new hires begin, Chuck trains all of them in tastings and flavor characteristics in food, beer and wine. They all know how to pair the food on the menu with the wine in the shop Chuck said. Chuck believes this has gone a long way to guarantee a successful bistro experience.

“Opening a wine bar and then moving to a larger store didn’t seem risky at either time,” Van Fleet said, “because our growing wine club membership and five years of learning the business put us into a place that created a successful business. At the time we opened in 2006, there wasn’t a lot of competition or wine bars around, so we flourished. We are an independent wine bar and bistro without a corporate ladder to answer to. We listen to our customers and are not afraid to make changes to improve our service or selection.”

Vino & Friends’ wine club is divided into two groupings: the Black Bag Club ($40/mo.) and Cellar Club ($80/mo.). Wine tastings are $5 for members and $10 for non members. However, six beers are also on tap, including New Belgium and Firestone breweries.

Today, Vino & Friends boasts over a 700 wine club membership that is growing each month and a wine list that has far exceeded the original offering.

Van Fleet was careful to point out that Vino & Friends is not trying to compete with the Sequoia Brewing Co. when it comes to beer sales.

“I have a great relationship with the owner, Jeff (Jeff Wolpert of Sequoia),” Chuck said. “We refer and share customers back and forth. In fact, I also enjoy going to Campagnia and appreciate what Tony is doing over there (both establishments near Champlain and Perrin). In fact, Jen and I had a glass of wine at Campagnia to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.”

When Chuck is not taste testing one of his 300+ bottles of wine for his inventory, he enjoys a glass of Heitz Cellars or Buehler Cabernet for dinner. In summer he enjoys a glass of Rosé or Pinot Blanc.

Vino & Friends continued to buzz as Chuck was called to the back for a phone call. The demographics this afternoon were over 75% women, chatting over a glass of JUSTIN wine and appetizers. As the Clovis High’s 30th anniversary reunion leadership group began to arrive with flowers and decorations for their private party, Steve Lister shook Chuck’s hand sat down at my table.

Lister immediately engaged with me, sharing how the Fresno wine market keeps him coming back three to four times a year. On this trip, Flemings Steakhouse was sponsoring a wine dinner and Chuck asked him to lead a JUSTIN wine tasting earlier in the day. Lister was quick to agree and was easily the star attraction this afternoon. He praised Chuck as a wine connoisseur and passionate about the wine business.

With tables to the right of them crowded, Steve Lister, left, of JUSTIN Winery chats it up with Vino & Friends owner Chuck Van Fleet, during the Sept. 22 tasting. Lister was pouring JUSTIN wines during his two-day Fresno visit.

“I really identify with the local wine merchants and owners,” Lister said. “I’ve become friends with Chuck and Jen over the years and enjoy promoting wine with them. They are very knowledgeable about California wines, especially from the Paso region. We get together when I am in town and often share a meal as well.”

A Wine and Spirits national salesman, Lister met his wife, Beth, five years ago while she worked at Napa’s Trefethen Family Vineyards. They both happened to be at a wine shop in Los Angeles, hanging out at The Wine House.

I have been a fan of JUSTIN Wines for a decade and recently opened a bottle of 2005 ISOSCELES during a wine dinner at my home. While that year is not readily available, the 2009 vintage is still for sale both at JUSTIN and at Vino & Friends.

Normally quiet and shy away from the wine business, Steve is riding the wave of success at JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery, despite the corporate purchase of the winery from Justin Baldwin. Baldwin, who originally purchased 160 acres in 1981, planted Bordeaux-style blends from estate vineyards in the hills just west of Paso Robles. Today Lister has the enviable job of promoting award-winning wines that came from No. 1 wine region in the world (Wine Spectator 2010).

But it wasn’t always that easy to sell JUSTIN wines.

“When I first started years ago, I used to have to try and convince people to check out what was going on with Paso wines,” Lister said. “Very few folks gave Paso Robles a second look but owner Justin Baldwin was a genius and purchased land that was perfect for the Cabernet Bordeaux-style blends he has made famous. Now people call me and ask what is going on in Paso.”

Lister has been around JUSTIN Winery for over ten years, watching the winery bottle 20,000 cases to 105,000 cases of wine last year. He started when the sales force numbered three folks to over a 100 this year, two years after the winery was sold to Fiji Water.

“My biggest adjustment is learning how to utilize the new tools, people and personnel and recognizing all the additional resources,” Lister said. “The new owners and management have been incredible. We no longer just try to maximize our share of the California market, but are still a small winery going after a national market share. I have found Justin Winery to still be focused on customer service. My passion for wine and people have not changed since Justin Baldwin sold the winery.

Founded in 1981 by Justin Baldwin, JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery is one of the “pioneers” of the Paso Robles AVA. Winery tours of the production facilities, ISOSCELES Center, Barrel Chai, and Caves are offered at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 5 p.m. daily.

The winery came together as a result of Baldwin purchasing land west of Paso Robles when few wanted it. Lister said Baldwin always focused on quality and insisted on buying from partners in the area who had the best Cabernet Sauvignon grapes blended them to express a Bordeaux-style for the ISOSCELES and Justification labels.

Their iconic bottle is the ISOSCELES Reserve. Sourced entirely from the home estate vineyard planted in 1981, this wine reflects the pinnacle of Baldwin’s efforts. Vines planted on native root stock, in nutrient depleted soils, are dry farmed and hand harvested. This label can only be purchased via the JUSTIN Wine Society.

Today that quality and patience in building a world-class winery is still a focus as the new corporate ownership has put in new acreage and is introducing a new line of wine called Right Angle: a blend with 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Petite Sirah, 12% Malbec and 7% Petite Verdot. The 2010 is now available for a short time for $30.

Wine tasting is available seven days a week at Vino & Friends. However, on this occasion, I tried the JUSTIN 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. Special wine tastings are arranged each Saturday from 2-5 p.m.

“I still believe in the winery and I still champion JUSTIN wine,” Lister said. “I think the sale of the winery was a perfect storm for all of us. We are thriving and have had our best years in consecutive order as the wines of 2008-2010 have been bottled and sold. And I agree with Justin Baldwin when he says, ‘I’m making wines, not trophies.’ Our wines are meant for consumers to consume at a reasonable price.”

After my hour with Lister, my wife, Geena, and I settled down for a tasting of the just released JUSTIN 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. The bottle ($25) had been opened for less than an hour and was delicious. The nose was of black fruit and its velvety texture was ready to drink without food. However, we paired a Trio of Bruschetta ($10.95) to go with it and experienced Vino & Friends from the sidelines for the next hour.

Today JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery is a 740-acre ranch, including 200 new acres of vines at the JUSTIN Estate Vineyard, DeBro Vineyard, the Adelaida Hills Vineyard and the newest addition: Templeton Hills. JUSTIN Winery is located at 11680 Chimney Rock Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446 USA. Be sure to inquire for upcoming events, including the JUSTIN Wine Harvest Weekend: Friday, October 19 – Sunday, October 21. Be sure to make reservations! They can be reached at 805.238.6932 or 800.726.0049.

Vino & Friends Wine Store & Bistro is located at 1560 E. Champlain Dr., Fresno, CA 93720. Chuck Van Fleet brings in a new winery each Saturday for a tasting. The October 2012 line-up includes Jeff Runquist (Oct. 6), Rombauer Vineyards (Oct. 13) and Sextant Wines (Oct. 20) and Frank Family Vineyards (Oct. 27).

Van Fleet is also planning a Brown Bag, blind tasting wine dinner for the first 22 people who show up at Vino & Friends, Nov. 7. The men are to bring a Cabernet and women a Chardonnay. The group will vote and the winners receive a free dinner. The cost is yet to be determined. A Nov. 14 beer dinner is also planned so please check their web site for more information. Vino & Friends can be reached at 559.434.1771.

For more information on Vino & Friends, check out TasteFresno and their 2011 VIDEO interview of Chuck Van Fleet.