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 shrimp appetizers and Cooper Rose

If you can stop off at the grocery store or fish market on the way home, pick up some jumbo shrimp. They are easy to grill. Just season with your favorite spices, melted butter and parsley and hot sauce, grilling just off the heat.

Tonight's meal began with seasoned jumbo shrimp dipped in butter and parsley. Geena and I each had a small pour of Cooper Vineyards 2012 Roundpen Rosé, Amador County.
Tonight’s meal began with seasoned jumbo shrimp dipped in butter and parsley. Geena and I each had a small pour of Cooper Vineyards 2012 Roundpen Rosé, Amador County.

With that being said, Geena and I had a chance to sit and relax on the patio and split four jumbo shrimp. I seasoned them with a favorite spice blend, added a couple of drops of hot sauce and served a small pour of Cooper Vineyards 2012 Roundpen Rose from Amador County, Sierra Foothills. While many Roses would be wonderful, the Cooper Rose is a refreshing blend made in the French style but look for their latest release.

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. 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.

J. Rickards Winery: Darn fine barn wine (VIDEO)

I spent three days in Sonoma County in July and, on a tip from David Scheidt, was privileged to meet Jim Rickards at his Alexander Valley tasting room in Cloverdale, CA. My premise for the trip was to taste first-rate California Rosés and J. Rickards Winery made the list.

The J. Rickards 2012 Bistro Table Rosé is perfect for the European palate, with fragrant rose petal, strawberry, watermelon in a crisp, dry finish.
The J. Rickards 2012 Bistro Table Rosé is perfect for the European palate, with fragrant rose petal, strawberry, watermelon in a crisp, dry finish.

With the summer in full swing, I wanted to begin with J. Rickards aperitif-style Rosé; it was dry and rosy-pink. Perfect for the European palate, the slightly fruity wine is a sure “patio pounder.” The 2012 Bistro Table Rosé opens with fragrant rose petal and strawberry on the nose with a burst of watermelon and crisp, dry finish. The complex taste lingers and is versatile with food or by itself at poolside. Try this blend of 60% Aleatico, 40% Syrah (100 cases, $20).

Just off of California Highway 101 north of Geyserville near Silver Oak Cellars in Sonoma County, the family-run operation of both wine grape farming and wine production is owned and operated by Jim and Eliza Rickards. They planted the vineyards starting in 1976, augmenting the original 1908 Old Vine Zinfandel block planted using horse technology.

When Jim left the military in 1969 with his military cut and large mustache, his dream was to work and own a winery.

“I wasn’t born into the wine business,” Jim said. I didn’t get it for nothing. I have worked my whole life for it.”

Hand-crafting small lot wines since 1991, Jim Rickards goal is to showcase the diverse soils and micro-climates of his vineyards. He has pioneered environmentally sensitive vineyard practices and been a proponent of sustainable farming techniques.
Hand-crafting small lot wines since 1991, Jim Rickards goal is to showcase the diverse soils and micro-climates of his vineyards. He has pioneered environmentally sensitive vineyard practices and been a proponent of sustainable farming techniques.

As their property had been in disuse and very little left from the original land owners, except the 105-year-old vines of Old Zinfandel planted by the Brignole family, the Rickards had years of development ahead of them.

In fact, the dream was so strong, they passionately recreated the early 20th century winery. He was told there was no water on the 60-acre ranch and that the best land use would be a rock quarry. Today, there are two wells and two large ponds providing water for all irrigation. Jim revived the original Zinfandel vineyard, adding new Zinfandel vines and later added Cabernet and Syrah, grafting much of their new stock. Born out of the encouragement of friends who have enjoyed the small lots of hand-crafted wine, the couple has been making wine since 1991.

As Jim began to share his passion for his wines, it became evident he was gifting me a personal history of his love for hand-crafted wines. His story includes pioneering environmentally sensitive vineyard practices and a long-time proponent of sustainable farming techniques. He spoke of losing 20 acres of vines in the late 80s-early 90s and replacing them with new disease resistant root stock. Jim’s tale includes nearly losing the farm to now growing 150 tons of grapes per year on his 45 acres.

J. Rickards Winery planned use of flowers, grasses, bird boxes and rainwater collection all add to the Jim's phrase whenever a visitor arrives at the tasting room: "Welcome to my house."
J. Rickards Winery planned use of flowers, grasses, bird boxes and rainwater collection all add to Jim’s phrase whenever a visitor arrives: “Welcome to my house.”

Land stewardship is extremely important to Jim. The planting and mulching of wild flowers and grasses and the planned introduction of environmentally friendly insects all help to create pesticides free vineyards for 20 years. He builds bird boxes which have attracted songbirds like the Western Bluebird and Tree Swallow. His use of manures and composts help add minerals and beneficial bacteria to the vineyards. From collecting rain water to the building materials his home and tasting room are made of, Jim has created a winery which is sustainable and suitable for the land he farms.

While J. Rickards is Jim and Eliza’s dream, they raised two daughters and a son who do not carry their parents’ passion into their adulthood. This Sonoma County winery remains under the zeal and spirited direction of Jim who almost always addresses his visitors with “Welcome to my house.” Jim’s warm, inviting personality soon wins over those who visit the tasting room to try some of his 15 varieties of wine. He truly has lived out the phrase, “Friends are the family you get to choose yourself,” welcoming folks from all over into his circle.

The Old Vine Zinfandel, Estate, planted in 1908 from the Brignole Vineyard, is flush with Blackberry and plum. The Ancestor Selections Zinfandel, Estate, is a prime example of the Alexander Valley with black cherry, raspberry and pepper.
The Old Vine Zinfandel, Estate, planted in 1908 from the Brignole Vineyard, is flush with Blackberry and plum. The Ancestor Selections Zinfandel, Estate, is a prime example of the Alexander Valley with black cherry, raspberry and pepper.

While I tasted through much of his wines, I do want to recommend visitors taste side by side the Ancestor Selections Zinfandel, Estate and the Old Vine Zinfandel, Estate. I loved the elegance of the 2009 Ancestor Zin. The ripe black cherry, raspberry and spicy pepper were balanced and smooth (658 cases, $24).

Yet I am old school. I preferred the rich, old-world full-bodied “field blend” of the 2010 Zinfandel, Old Vine. The boysenberry, plum and gingerbread were gorgeous. The mocha and juiciness lingered. Jim blended 80% Zinfandel, 10% Petit Syrah, 5% Carignane, 4% Mataro and 1% of Alicante Bouschet (515 cases, $25). This is a must-buy for those not yet familiar with J. Rickards.

I appreciated Jim sharing how he hand-crafts his wines while pioneering environmentally sensitive vineyard practices and sustainable farming techniques. Yet despite all the accolades his wines have earned, Jim is passionate, not pretentious, allowing the wine to speak for itself.

J. Rickards dry Bistro Table Rosé with smoked salmon salad. Wow! Great combo!
J. Rickards dry Bistro Table Rosé with smoked salmon salad. This is a full-bodied wine that is great for almost any patio meal.

Before this gets too long, I also want to recommend J. Rickards 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Five Sisters Blend. It is fruit forward but made in the Bordeax-style. He smiles and calls it an $80 Cab in a $34 dress (322 cases).

Finally, the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Croft Vineyard is a Gold Medal winner at the 2013 North Coast Wine Challenge. I could smell and taste grapefruit, white peach, floral aromas, leading to fig and melon. This is great for summer lighter fare as well as richer foods like roasted chicken (1150 cases, $19).

With over 450 Sonoma County wineries, including J. Rickards, be sure to visit as there is sure to be wine to fit all tastes, pocketbook and pairing options.

For a short VIDEO introducing J. Rickards Winery and 2012 grapes, check out Wine Oh TV’s

Wine Oh TV’s Monique Soltani as she interviews Jim Rickards.

For more information on J. Rickards Winery, visit them online at http://www.jrwinery.com or call: 707.758.3441. They can also be reached via email: jim@jrwinery.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/J.Rickards.Winery. J. Rickards Winery is on 24505 Chianti Road, Cloverdale, CA, 95425.

If you missed my last post, check out the South African Mulderbosch Rosé delivers superb summer value.

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.

South African Mulderbosch Rosé delivers superb summer value

A strawberry pink color with lively hues, Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2012 combines aromas of ripe blood-orange, red berries black currant and is medium bodied.
A medium bodied wine with strawberry pink hues, Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2012 combines aromas of ripe blood-orange, red berries and black currant.

While my wife was shopping for cheeses for tonight’s dinner, I sidled over to the wine section of Nick’s Wine Corner in Sam’s Italian Deli in Central Fresno. While she spent minutes searching for a Ricotta Salata and hand packed Ricotta cheese, I had precious moments to determine which Rosé would end up with me in the pool later in the afternoon.

Surprise, surprise. While I did not know its accolades, I purchased a Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2012 because wine director D’Arcy Barrett insisted it would fit my taste profile. Case in point. Get to know what you like and share it with someone at your local wine store. She will be a wealth of knowledge to help you through an ever expanding maze or wall of wine.

Mulderbosch Vineyards hail from South Africa and winemaker Adam Mason is beginning to create quite a stir with both the 2011 and 2012 pinks. Mason previously worked at cult #wine leader Screaming Eagle and has teamed up with Andy Erikson, formerly of Screaming Eagle fame as well, to create a wonderful, medium body dry Rosé that works well with lighter fair but will hold up even with wood-fired pizza, grilled salmon or tuna or steak salad.

Mulderbosch Rosé aromas start with fresh red berries and a strawberry hue. Yet the berry fruit flavor turns toward blood-orange then lingers, finally giving way to pomegranate, black currant and a hint of nutmeg. The wine’s acidity is balanced and seems juicy but not sweet, dry and soft in the mouth and a satisfying minerality found in higher quality Rosés.

Whether you enjoy a Rosé as an aperitif or with a meal, the Mulderbosch Rosé are made with character and a must-have for summer drinking.
Whether you enjoy a Rosé as an aperitif or with a meal, the Mulderbosch Rosé is made with character and a must-have for summer drinking.

According to the Mulderbosch website, the Cabernet grapes are grown and selected to be processed as Rosé. This is not an afterthought wine. The grapes are thick-skinned and picked early to secure high levels of acidity and bright flavors in the wine. The Rosé is then bottled earlier than what might be expected to capture the fresh flavors.

Founded in 1989, Mulderbosch quickly became known for their racy Sauvignon Blanc. Since then they craft an award-winning range of wines that consistently earn top ratings and Wine Spectator “Smart Buy” and “Outstanding Value” accolades. The winemaking team is committed to creating wines that have outstanding value but “to conserve its unique natural heritage, landscape and natural biodiversity by implementing environmentally responsible management practices on the land and in the cellar.” (Michael Oliver, food and wine writer, published author and broadcaster).

For all of the #TeamRosé drinkers out there, the Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2012 should be on your radar each summer. This pink is a wonderful, low alcohol (12.5%) value wine and best buy that will linger in my cooler until next season (buy a case!) A wine to drink at pool’s edge, with seafood steaks or pizza, this South African Rosé is versatile that will keep you eyeing the last third of the bottle for yourself. Let me know what you think!

Besides buying the Rosé at Nick’s Wine Corner, click Wine-Searcher-Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé to find out where you can purchase this best buy South African wine. Retail $8-10.

For more information on Mulderbosch, visit them online at http://www.mulderbosch.co.za. They can also be reached via email: email tastingroom@mulderbosch.co.za

If you missed my last post on a central California coast Rosé, be sure to check out Branding Le P’tit Paysan as a fresh, friendly Rosé.

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.