Category Archives: Wine and food pairing

Evening with Martin Ray Vineyards and Winemaker Bill Batchelor

 

Martin Ray and Angeline wines poured tonight!

I have been a big fan of the incredible wines of Martin Ray Vineyards for many years. In my humble opinion Martin Ray Vineyards makes some of the best wines not only in California, but in the world. Their wines are constant 90-95 point scores in Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast magazines year in and year out. And here is the biggest reason I love Martin Ray:

Martin Ray wines are great buys for the quality and priced for the average consumer!

In fact I dare say the overall portfolio of Martin Ray Vineyards and Angeline Vineyards are some of  the very best values in wine today.

My friend Robert Larsen of the Larsen Projekt said he was coming to Dallas, and he invited me to have dinner. I said yes immediately because Robert is such a great guy. He knows his wines, very funny and engaging, and never forgets that wine should be fun and not always so serious. He let me know he was bringing Winemaker Bill Batchelor and samples of the great wines of Martin Ray. So you can imagine that I was beyond excited!

I met Robert and Bill at Dallas Chophouse in downtown Dallas. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Dallas Chophouse, but had never actually visited. So I was thrilled when Robert suggested this beautiful place. The atmosphere was dark and luxurious, and the aged steaks were delicious. I highly recommend the food if you are in downtown Dallas and want a great meal.

I love meeting a winemaker personally. I have to admit I am somewhat of a wine geek. So when I get the opportunity to chat with them and pick their  brains, I am in my own personal heaven.  And I have to tell you; In my opinion Bill Batchelor really knows his craft. He has a very large portfolio to take care of with Martin Ray and Angeline and he personally gets involved in all aspects of the winemaking process. Yet he is very easy to talk to and you can really tell he has a tremendous passion for his craft.

HISTORY:  Martin Ray Vineyards history dates back to 1943 in the rugged Santa Cruz Mountains in California. The current home was originally Twin Fir Winery and established by William Hill in the geographic heart of Russian River Valley in 1881. This makes them one of the oldest continuously operated wineries in California. This winery later became Martin & Prati and was well known for good jug wine.

The current owner Courtney Benham purchased Martin Ray in 1990. He then moved the brand and custom crush facilities at Martin & Prati and purchased the property. He then changed the name to Martin Ray in 2007. In the coming years Courtney modernized practically every facet or production, and also turned the property into one of the most beautiful wineries in the area. I have made attempts to visit on my winery trips in the past, and I cannot wait to visit on my next trip!

We began the evening tasting through the Angeline Vineyards wines. These are wines that Martin Ray produces and are more “Value Priced”.

Angeline Vineyards

2016 Angeline California Rose of Pinot Noir:  Both whole-cluster & saignee method used to produce this dry rose. Floral notes along with watermelon, nectarine, and ruby red grapefruit. Crisp and acidic. Perfect for the pool or beach!

Angeline Rose

2016 Angeline Sonoma Coast County Sauvignon Blanc: Mostly Russian River Valley fruit with Dry Creek sourced as well. Not grassy like some SV, more Sonoma-like. Aromas of white peach, nectarine, and green apple. Minerals are present, but not overwhelming. Crisp, clean and lingering finish of green apple and peach. Ave retail will be in the $12-$14 range so a great summer everyday wine.

2016 Angeline Reserve Pinot Noir: Fruit sourced from Mendocino County, Russian River Valley, and Carneros.  Silky tannins and med light body.  Juicy strawberry, raspberry, black fruits, and cherry cola dominate with a clean finish of caramel and black fruits. Nice wine!

2016 Angeline Reserve Pinot Noir

Martin Ray Vineyards

2015 Martin Ray Santa Cruz Mountains Bald Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay: Fruit is 100% from the steep hillside vineyards of Bald Mountain. Cool climate and high elevation define this chardonnay with crisp acidy and an underlying minerality. This is a graceful and elegant wine with fruit notes of key lime, golden apple, asian pear with crème brulee and hints of vanilla. 40% new French Oak, and lees are sired bi-weekly for first year to enhance complexity. 250 cases produced. Ave retail $35

2015 Martin Ray Bald Mountain Vineyard Santa Cruz

2015 Martin Vineyards Green Valley of Russian River Valley Chardonnay: Fruit from possibly my favorite AVA in Sonoma; Green Valley AVA. Only 300 cases produced so if you get your hands on this buy several! Hand picked, whole cluster pressed. Racked in French Oak barrels for fermentation. Lees stirred bi-weekly to maximize mouthfeel. Aged 12 months on 40% new French Oak. Traditional and elegant chardonnay. Complex layers of green apple, honeydew melon, key lime, grapefruit, and vanilla cream. NOT a butterbomb! Crisp, med-light body, great acidity and long finish. AT $30 suggested retail, not cheap but worth every dime.

2015 Martin Ray Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: Primarily sourced from the incredible Dutton Ranch in the heart of the Green Valley AVA. Primarily Dijon Clones from Marty’s Vineyard and Hallberg Vineyard. Basket pressed and put into barrel for 12 months in 50% new French Oak. Anyone that knows me has heard me claim: “Russian River produces some of the finest Pinot Noir in the world”, and I believe this to be true! Med light body, bouquet and notes of cranberry, red cherry, boysenberry, Jasmine and vanilla, baking spices. Juicy palate and fine silky tannins. This is a truly great example of Russian River Pinot Noir, and I love this wine. Average retail is $40, and this may be a little rich for some. I for one think this is a steal considering this is Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir! Only 250 cases produced.

2015 Martin Ray Green Valley or Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

2014 Martin Ray Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon: Fruit comes from the tiny plot on the South face of Ben Lomond Mountain, from the distinguished Bald Mountain Vineyard. This site produces small compact clusters, and the long growing season allow the grapes to reach maturity late in the season, with deep color, concentrated flavors, and bright acidity. This is a big bold cabernet, with notes of ripened black cherry, boysenberry, mushroom, lavender, and dark chocolate. Healthy solid tannins and great acidity and graphite minerality give a strong hint of long cellar time possible for this big wine. In fact I would love to have this wine again in 10 years because it should age beautifully. Only 450 cases produced. Suggested retail of $75.

2014 Martin Ray Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon

 

2014 Martin Ray Synthesis Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: This is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cab Franc, and 4% Petit Verdot. Fruit is sourced from the best of the best from vineyards in Rutherford (35%), Stags Leap District (30%) and Diamond Mountain (20%) for a very special “Synthesis” of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon! This Cali Cab begs for a big juicy steak, and that is what I enjoyed this wine while cutting into a big delicious juicy Ribeye at Dallas Chophouse. Dried herbs, black cherry, and baked plums on the nose. Chewy tannins are evident, but not nearly overpowering as you normally find in mountain cabernet. Blueberry, black cherry, red plum, along with ever so slight  oak and dried figs. I highly recommend this cabernet sauvignon.  At $50 suggested retail that is a great buy for a true Napa Cab! 2200 Cases total production.

2014 Martin Ray Synthesis Cabernet Sauvignon

Thank you again Robert Larsen and Bill Batchelor for a wonderful evening, and thank you Dallas Chophouse for the wonderful dry aged steak!

Winemaker Bill Batchelor and Robert Larsen

And thank you to my followers for reading and sharing this post. If you would like more information on any of the wines poured and how to find them please contact me at friscokid8758@yahoo.com.

And please…leave a comment below so I will know you were here, and come back from time to time!

Terry Hill is the TEXAS WINEAUX!

 

 

An Evening With Winemaker Stephanie Cook and Wonderment Wines

This is the story of an evening with Stephanie Cook and Wonderment Wines.

Sharing gourmet food and great wines with a beautiful talented winemaker is a hard life…

But someone has to do it!

Stephanie Cook of Wonderment Wines
One of the most exciting things I get the opportunity to do on occasion is meet Winemakers in person. I enjoy as they share their passion with me  on how and why they make this beautiful nectar of the gods called wine. I enjoy this, well… mostly because I am a wine geek deep down inside.  I love talking wine, and I get to pick their minds about their theory and process of making wine. Mostly I admire them greatly for doing what I secretly would love to do myself; grow grapes and make wine. However most meetings with Winemakers and producers of wine are short and to the point. Rarely do I get to spend time with them and get to know what really makes them who they are.
And then there are exceptional evenings like this!

About 6 weeks before this fun evening my good friend Samuel  shared a bottle of  Wonderment Bacigalupi Vineyard Petite Sirah, and quite frankly… It blew me away.

Samuel Rickords has a Wine Distributorship based in Dallas by the name of Redoux Wine. He specializes in boutique wines from small talented producers. He is also a member of the wine group I started many years back called the Dallas Wineaux. I had asked him to let me know if the Winemaker for Wonderment was ever in the Dallas  area. So, ever the idea man, Samuel put together a tasting menu at Jaspers Gourmet Backyard Cuisine in Richardson, TX and arranged for Stephanie Cook to fly in to join several of us from the Dallas Wineaux group.

Jaspers Richardson. Photo by Swan Photography

First let me start by saying Jaspers Richardson is brand new, state of the art, high tech, and absolutely beautiful. You can see and read more on Jaspers Richardson and the location by clicking here! Most of the restaurant is bar area, with high top seating and upscale area that would be perfect for a small groups of 4-8. It sure makes me want to grab the Dallas Wineaux group and head to Happy Hour. The Chef Evan Tanner had a terrific spread of appetizers, charcuterie, and small plates to nibble on. Everything was scrumptious.  And I assure you we will be back to Jaspers soon!

Gourmet plates courtesy of Jaspers Richardson!
Dallas Wineaux Wine Group At Jaspers Richardson

I had done a little research on Wonderment Wines and about Stephanie Cook beforehand.  So I had an idea she was a beautiful woman. But when she walked in you understand immediately she is even more lovely than her pictures. Her beautiful smile and stunning looks are dramatic. But after a few moments you realize she is also very intelligent, talented, extremely gracious, and very engaging. And her passion for Wonderment Wines is evident immediately.

After a quick meet and greet with the other Dallas Wineaux including Kelly Nolan of www.winedowndallas.com and Lori Sullivan of www.loristwistedcork.com Stephanie started pouring her wines and telling her story.

Talking wine with Stephanie Cook! Photo by Swan Photography

Stephanie is a very driven woman and is not one to take no for an answer. I loved as she told fascinating stories of traveling the world as a Fashion Model in Milan, London, and more. Then going back to school where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University. Soon after turning her sights to winemaking. She literally informed Bob Biale of Robert Biale Vineyards that she was coming to work for him and furthermore, he was going to teach her how to make wine! After stints at Spottswood and in New Zealand for Spy Valley Wines and then at Staglin Family Vineyards she felt like she was ready to make her mark in the glorious world of winemaking.

The rest as they say is history… or as she likes to say a “balancing act!”

Balance and terroir is the key to everything Stephanie does when it pertains to wine. She makes 7 wines, and about 1500 cases per year total.

She insists on getting only the best fruit available from premium sites, and so every wine she makes is a “vineyard designate”. So…No Blending!

Wonderment Wines. Photo by Swan Photography

Any real wine enthusiast will recognize these incredible vineyards that Stephanie is sourcing her fruit: Oak Knoll, Dutton-Campbell, Dr. Stan’s, Bacigalupi, Rockpile, and Burton Ranch just to name the few that she brought for tasting!

Tasting Notes from Wonderment Wines at Jaspers Richardson. Photo by Swan Photography

Tasting Notes:

2015 Oak Knoll Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Stainless steel fermented. Floral on the nose with a citrusy lemon, grass, Asian pear, and a terrific saline quality. Floral, grapefruit, and saline/stone  finish. I like this wine, and I really need a few bottles for this summer at the pool!

2013 Dutton-Campbell Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Very juicy fruit forward style from Green Valley AVA. Floral notes and black cherry dominate the nose.  Supple silky tannins. Black cherry, strawberry, cranberry, current, with touch of oak  and spice. This is a very sexy and sensual  style of Pinot Noir. Trust me when I say “you will like it”.

2013 Dr Stan’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Carneros. Dr. Stan’s Vineyard only has 1-1/2 acres of Dijon Clone 115 that was grown primarily for a certain well known sparkling wine producer (I promised not to tell for whom). Translucent in the glass, but definite tannins give a good to great structure.  Juicy bing cherry and slight cola on the palate turn to mushroom and earth. This earth & mushroom character gives the wine somewhat a Burgundian feel that I was not expecting. Very nice wine!

2013 Bacigalupi Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel Russian River come from 40-50 year old vines. It is a “Feminine Zin” if you can have such a thing, in that it is very floral  zinfandel (Lilac). Integrated silky tannins, incredible acidity. Red & black fruits such as black cherry, strawberry, blackberry,and slight white pepper with a LONG finish. Outstanding.

2012 Rockpile Zinfandel was more of what most people would think of when you think Sonoma Zin, but it has a very restrained edge. Very balanced with black cherry, cola, and a long spicy finish that goes for days. Impressive.

2013 Burton Ranch Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel Lake County. This is a BIG wine, but plenty of finesse as well. Truly “old vine” from plantings from Lake County dating back to 1890’s.  Tannins are evident in this young wine so plenty of structure and a real aging potential in my opinion. Sweet cherry compote, Asian spices and white pepper. Classic Zinfandel in every way except only 14.5% alc (most big zins are closer to 16% alc). If you are a Sonoma Zinfandel fanatic this Old Vine Zin fits the bill!

2011 Bacigalupi Vineyards Petite Sirah Russian River Valley This was my favorite. I am a sucker for a great Pitite Sirah, and this one hits all the marks from the nose to the long finish! Deep Dark Devilish of a red wine that isn’t for wanmby pambies! Full bodied with black fruits and a spicy finish that just keeps going and going in your mouth long after you have swallowed. Absolutely stunning wine from start to finish!

Across the board these wines from Wonderment are very good to outstanding. It is exciting to think what the wines from Wonderment will be when Stephanie has decades of vintages behind her.

You can find Wonderment Wines in select restaurants and order direct here. They are very fairly priced, especially considering the quality of the wines and across the board ‘Vineyard Desinate” only wines.

Pictures of the event are all courtesy of Asher Swan and Swan Photography.  If you would like to contact him click here or call him at 707-217-4381.

Wonderment Wines. Photo courtesy of Swan Photography

Wonderment Wines Mission Statement

“Wonderment Wines represent intelligent effort, value and balance which create a sense of ‘Wonder’. Our wines are focused on specific terroir where each wine represents the vineyards distinctive style and expression. Thru artisanal methods and minimal intervention in both the vineyard and the cellar along with a focus on environmental and social consciousness we look forward to providing each customer no less than exactly what they desire.”

Every Wonderment cork has a great message! Photo by Swan Photography

Go to her web sight and buy her wines. And tell her the Texas Wineaux sent you!

 

Dallas Wineauxs Wine Pairing Dinner!

The Dallas Wineauxs got together for a terrific 5-Course Wine Pairing Dinner recently. The incredible table d’hôte was hosted by Samuel Rickords of ReDoux Wine, and the brand new Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Uptown Dallas.

Alan Schulz of Ruth's Chris. Photo by Swan Photography
Alan Schulz of Ruth’s Chris. Photo by Swan Photography

Our wine group;  “Dallas Wineauxs” get together 5-6 times a year to talk about wine, pitch our latest ‘wine finds’, enjoy each others company, eat great meals  and wine pairing with our menu, and of course share many bottles of wine. Sometimes it is at each others homes with a theme for the night. Other times it is meeting at a restaurant such as Toulouse French Bistro for an extended lunch. Once in a while we get invited to join in on a great experience such as this incredible Wine Pairing Dinner!

Menu Reoux Wine Dinner
Menu Redoux Wine Dinner

Samuel and Amanda Rickords are owners of Redoux Wines. Redoux is a young and growing wine distributor based in Dallas, that specializes in representing a very select and distinctive group of “boutique wineries” from California. Often Samuel has known the actual winemakers and their families for decades because he grew up in Sonoma Valley, California. He and his wife Amanda met when he was with Ledson Winery in Kenwood, CA. Amanda was blessed to be a Texas Girl that loved Cali Wine County. On a girls trip to Sonoma years ago Amanda and Samuel met,  fell in love, and were married in the vineyards soon after. A real fairy tale you could say! Amanda convinced Samuel that Texas was the place to be (her child and family were in Dallas). So he moved to Dallas to begin a family and soon started Redoux Wines with Amanda. They have been succesfull in this endevour of the heart, mainly because they really are what my dear Grandfather used to call “Good People” that have a real passion for wine and food. And Samuel is always more than willing to share this passion with anyone that will listen!

Samuel & his wife Amanda strongly believe in contributing to a legacy beyond just selling wine. As proud supporters of Honor Courage Commitment (HCC), Samuel & Amanda seek to incorporate veterans into the business. In addition, Samuel provides wine education for “22 Fellows”–a unique training program to maximize veteran talent to grow the US economy and build local communities. For more information about HCC, please visit www.honorcouragecommitment.org.

Lineup For Tonight!
Lineup For Tonight!

Our venue for the night was the private “Wine Room” at the all new Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Uptown Dallas. The Manager on duty Alan Schulz was very gracious, accommodating, and informative. In fact Alan was raised in New Orleans, LA a few blocks from the original Ruth’s Chris!

Michelle & Melanie enjoying the wines! Photo by Swan Photography
Michelle & Melanie enjoying the wines! Photo by Swan Photography

A little history of Ruth’s Chris Steak House:

In 1965 Ruth Fertel, a divorced mother of two, mortgaged her home for $22,000 to buy a small 60-seat restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana named “Chris Steak House”. Shortly thereafter, a fire forced her to change the original location and she renamed the restaurant, “Ruth’s Chris Steak House.” In 1977 at the urging of a loyal customer she granted the first franchise. Now there are over 140 worldwide. Ruth died in 1990, but the legend continues, as does her recipe for success:

“Insist on making a toast. Make big plans, but live spontaneously. Live and dine without regret.” ~Ruth Fertel~

The Uptown area in Dallas is the most happening scene anywhere in the DFW area. Lots of young professionals live in the luxury condos, townhouses, and high rise residences throughout the very upscale area between the American Airlines Center (home of the Dallas Mavericks), and Downtown Dallas. It is the perfect place to build a great steak house! Although a little difficult to find at 1900 Cedar Springs Rd, it is well worth the extra effort. They only opened the doors to the public a couple of months back, and many of the staff left great jobs at other upscale restaurants to join the Uptown Ruth’s Chris because they believe they are part of something special. And you can see it in the way every employee bent over backwards to be helpful in every way. We had a terrific young waiter that was very knowledgeable, engaging, and always ready to help the dining experience become more pleasurable.

The interior is elegant, stylish, and tasteful. Trust me when I say you will be impressed!

Looking for a terrific spot for Happy Hour Uptown? Ruth’s Cris Uptown’s $8 Sizzle, Swizzle and Swirl Happy Hour is featured Sunday-Friday from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. in the large open bar and includes tasty appetizers, cocktails, and impressive wines for $8 each!

Samuel met with Manager Alan Schulz and Executive Chef Willie Singleton beforehand to pair the wines from Redoux with the 5-courses served.

Analyzing the color and structure. Photo by Swan Photography
Analyzing the color and structure. Photo by Swan Photography

Let me congratulate all involved in the pairing of wines and food…outstanding!

First Course: Spicy Crispy Lobster paired with Sojurn Chardonnay Sonoma Coast. The Crispy Lobster was slightly spicy but sweet, and the acidity and crispness of the very lightly oaked 2013 Sojurn Chardonnay Sonoma Coast matched wonderfully.

Second Course: Saffron Veal Ravioli paired with 2013 Burt Cellars Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley. Ravioli stuffed with spicy Osso Buco veal and mozzarella cheese with a white wine demi-glace matched perfectly with the spicy and slightly earthy pinot noir. BRAVO!

Third Course: New Orleans BBQ Shrimp paired with 2012 Rubica Red Blend from Portugal. I never would have paired slightly spicy New Orleans style BBQ Shrimp with the slightly rustic blend of: Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Aragones and Petit Verdot. But this was the most impressive pairing of the evening. The red wine mellowed out and let the food shine beautifully!

Forth Course: Tenderloin Skewer Salad paired with 2007 Rust Ridge Cabernet from Chiles Valley, California. Tenderloin Beef marinated in Teriyaki and slightly sweet paired very well with the Rust Ridge Cab with notes of Cherry, cola, cassis, and blackberry. In fact the sweetness of the tenderloin really soared with this ready to drink Chiles Valley Cabernet!

Fifth Course: Chocolate Turtle Cheesecake and Dark Chocolate Bark paired with 2008 Robledo Cabernet Sauvignon from Lake County. I dearly love chocolate paired with a great cabernet sauvignon, and this was absolutely perfect with the light Chocolate Cheesecake! The Dark Chocolate Bark had sea salt with cranberry infussed that was really tasty by itself, but the cranberry clashed badly when paired with the Cabernet Sauvignon. This was the ONLY disappointment of a wonderful evening, as I would have only served the chocolate cheesecake and skipped the bark.

Spicy Shrimp paired with Rubrica
Spicy Shrimp paired with Rubrica
Bert Street Pinot served with Ravioli
Bert Street Pinot served with Ravioli
Redoux Wine Diner Main Course. Photo by Swan Photography
Redoux Wine Diner Main Course. Photo by Swan Photography

A terrific time was had by all at this incredible Wine Pairing Dinner, and I know that I speak for all the Dallas Wineauxs when I say; if you are in the Dallas area, especially around the Uptown District you really should drop by the new Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse Uptown!

Bravo Samuel, Asher, and Alan!

Thank you for visting and reading the ramblings of Terry Hill, the Texas Wineaux! Please leave a comment below and check back from time to time for new posts.

Twitter: @friscokid49

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**Photos are from Asher Swan of Swan Photography, and he can be reached at asher-swan@live.com or www.swan-photography.com . Thank you for the great photos!