Category Archives: Wine Dinner

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!

 

Lodi Wine Country – The Next Wine Destination! Well Kind of…

I recently visited Lodi Wine Country. Yes, you read right. I said “Lodi Wine Country”.

Lodi Gold! Photo courtesy of Randy Caparoso
Lodi Gold! Photo courtesy of Randy Caparoso

I dare say most of the wine drinking public wouldn’t know Lodi Appellation produced great wine. That is perhaps unless you are a wine producer, wine professional, or maybe a California wine enthusiast.  In fact, I am in the wine business and while I have enjoyed many terrific wines from Lodi Wine Country, I had to look up on a map exactly where Lodi, California was located  (By the way it is between Stockton and Sacramento).

Most folks only know Lodi from the Credence Clearwater Revival song and the line “Oh lord, stuck in Lodi Again”. Being “stuck in Lodi” may have been the case in the 1970 when the song was recorded, but that certainly is NOT the case now.

This is cool, upcoming, and happening kind of wine destination. 

Well kind of…

I say “kind of” because  Lodi Wine Country is a Paradox. Let me explain.

The Lodi Wine Country was just named by Wine Enthusiast Magazine “Wine Region Of The Year for 2015”! That is quite a feat indeed, and quite an honor from a very prestigious magazine. Lodi Wine Appellation now boasts over 85 wineries in the area, and over 100 different varieties of grapes are grown. It isn’t just Old Vine Zinfandel like many non-informed wine lovers think. Although some of the old gnarly Zinfandel vines planted in the 1850’s makes as good of old vine zin as anywhere!

A few things to consider about Lodi Wine:

  • The passion and pride of the 4-5 generations of  Winegrape growers,
  • Incredible quality of the grapes they are producing and the terroir,
  • The truly ingenious young Winemakers
  • How Lodi is so primed to be the “next big wine destination”. 

Lodi  seems to be a paradox. In other words while they are primed to the ‘next big wine region’ and everything points to just that, Lodi powers that be do not want that to happen.

Well kind of… I will explain later.

Wine Bloggers Welcome Dinner by Snooth Media and Winegrape Commission!
Wine Bloggers Welcome Dinner by Snooth Media and Lodi Winegrape Commission!

In September I and five other Wine Writers and  Bloggers were very fortunate to be invited to discover the wonders of Lodi Wine Country by the great people at Snooth Media and Lodi Winegrape Commission. I was very excited to be invited, but did not quite know what to expect.  I dearly love the wine country of Napa and Sonoma and visit often for my “wine fix”. And while I enjoy a Lodi 7-Deadly Zin as much as the next wine aficionado I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

But what did Lodi Wine Country have to offer?  

I was very open minded. Primarily because I had already made a conscious decision to expand my California wine horizons in 2017 beyond Napa and Sonoma Valleys. And Lodi and Paso Robles Appellations were on top of my list of places to explore, visit, and taste. So when Claudia Angelillo, Brand Director of Snooth Media called, I jumped on a plane and started my adventure!

After landing in Sacramento Airport, we were picked up by Claudia in a big white passenger van that would be our transportation for he next 4 days. After about an hour drive we arrived in Lodi. We checked in at the Wine and Roses Hotel in Lodi and I have to tell you it was incredibly beautiful. The hotel was tucked in the back of the same property as the Lodi Winegrape Commission and Visitor Center. I was VERY impressed immediately with the stunning grounds of the hotel. You are surrounded by very relaxing and lush landscaping of mature trees, tropical plants, and beautiful flowers everywhere you turn. Exotic birds were in big cages throughout the property, and they just added a sense of adventure to our setting. They offer an award winning spa, pool, restaurant on site, and would be perfect for a romantic getaway or honeymoon! The rooms were very clean, beds were extremely comfortable, and the décor of the rooms (which included a fireplace) were very wine country pleasant. I will take my lovely bride back to Lodi and we will definitely stay at this hotel for a romantic weekend soon.

Lodi Wine Visitor Center
Lodi Wine Visitor Center
Wine and Roses Hotel, Lodi
Wine and Roses Hotel, Lodi

The next morning after a great breakfast with the other writers we were loaded in the van and off to the vineyards! Randy Caparoso was our guide for the week, and he was a wealth of information about the incredible history of the Lodi Appellation. Randy seemed to have a great story about the history of Lodi and the winegrape growers at every turn. I am personally a huge history fanatic, so I was very pleased he was so versed in the vast and important history of Lodi to the wine industry of California.

Randy Caparoso
Randy Caparoso

 

Kevin Soucie of Soucie Vineyards
Kevin Soucie of Soucie Vineyards

Within a short drive we were popping corks in Marian’s Vineyard at the Mohr Fry Ranch at 8:45 AM (Yah… I know. It is a tough life I have sometimes). We met wine grower Bruce Fry of St. Amant Winery. We were drinking wines from the vineyards that the wines came from, from the Winemaker that produced the wines. Soon after we were back in the van and down the road to Soucie Vineyards with Kevin Soucie, a 5th Generation Farmer. Winemaker Layne Montgomery of M2 Wines shared his wines from the vineyard. Soon after we were back in the van and down the road to Wegat Vineyard. There under a giant shade tree we met Winegrape Grower Todd Maley, Winemakers Chad JohnsonLayne Montgomery and Tim Holdener. We enjoyed their wines as the cut up with each other, and each told the stories of the grapes, the terroir, and their wines. Added bonus: when you are in the middle of a vineyard popping corks and enjoying incredible wines you don’t need a spit can. You simply spit it out on the ground! And yes, I was spitting at 9 AM in the morning. Mandatory procedure considering we tasted over 200 wines in 4 days time!

Paella for lunch at M2 Vineyards, YUMMMM!
Paella for lunch at M2 Vineyards, YUMMMM!

After a tasty lunch of paella cooked at the winery at M2 Wines, the Winemakers were excited to explain the virtues of the Lodi Native Project. I was HIGHLY impressed with the exciting project by these young and passionate winemakers! Check back here soon for more on this incredible project at a later date, but for more information now click here.

lodi-native-project

 

M2 Vineyards, MUST visit!
M2 Vineyards, MUST visit!

 

M2 Old Vine Zinfandel
M2 Old Vine Zinfandel

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of the week was somewhat similar to this first morning. Yes we were in different vineyards and wineries the next several days. And yes we were listening to different Winemakers and Winegrape Growers as they graciously shared their own wines. But the theme was almost identical. Everyone shared the same passion and pride for Lodi. The also shared the desire for the rest of the wine world to know how special Lodi is, and how important Lodi has been in the growth of the California wine industry.

They told the history of the vineyards and  the Lodi terroir. They shared fascinating stories of the generations of families that worked the soil, producing some of the best wine grapes in California. And then they passed the vineyard down to their children. And then those children did the same and handed the vineyards down to their children, and so on.

This was the theme we heard all week from everyone we visited.

The often 5th generation Winegrowers and Winemakers understood the truly special place Lodi, California is, and they want the rest of the world to know this as well.

Well, kind of…

I say “kind of” because I felt an underlying current the entire week: While they want the world to understand how special Lodi is overall, and how important Lodi has been to the California wine industry. While they want the world to appreciate and give credit to the wines that were produced in and from the grapes of Lodi Appellation. While they want more tourists to visit Lodi so they too can understand what their parents, grandparents, and often great grandparents discovered generations ago.  They do NOT want to become Napa Valley.

The leaders of Lodi Wine are grappling with consistent push and pull : How to grow and spread the word that “this is a very special place” and “please visit, taste, and tour Lodi”, yet the city fathers, and the Lodi Winegrape Commission are very adamant that they not grow too fast and lose their soul. Example: They have very strict controls against restaurants in the wineries. They can cater food in, but they cannot build a restaurant on site. This holds wineries back. Even more restrictions of when a winery can be built and the zoning. From my short understanding from visiting with the good wine people of Lodi; The restrictions on the growth, often self imposed by their own commissions, seemed stringent at best. But that absolutely is by design.

“We don’t want to be the next Napa Valley”

I was confused and bewildered at first when they mentioned over and over that they did not want to be Napa. After all, look how stunning and beautiful Napa wineries are, and how some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in the world is produced in Napa Valley!

But after speaking to the real Lodi wine people that grew up a 4th and 5th generation Winegrape grower. Then seeing how many families began producing their own wines after other regions were winning gold metals and 90+ scores from their grapes, you start to get it.

I live in Texas, and you grow up with a very strong pride of your state. It reminds me very much with the fine people of Lodi Wine Country. They love where they live, and have a strong sense of being. Of where and what they came from, and where they are going in the near future. They want to control of what Lodi Wine Country will look like in the coming decades.

After all you have to admit Napa Valley has become very corporate. It has lost a part of its  soul that was so evident from the 1970’s and 1980’s when it was in its heyday of young and aggressive winemakers that were the pioneers of what it is today. And Napa can be quite ostentatious! Unless you are well off the beaten path of the Silverado Trail, you will almost never taste wines from the actual family that farmed the land, harvested the grapes, and produced the wines they are pouring.

Markus Bokish of Bokisch Vineyards
Markus Bokish of Bokisch Vineyards

This is not the case in Lodi Wine Country. If you visit Bokish Vineyards to taste some of the best Spanish Varietal wines in California you are likely to run into and visit with Markus or Liz Bokisch. When you visit McCay Cellars you are likely to see Michael McCay and he will share his passion for Zinfandel and Rhone varietals. And this happens any winery you visit in Lodi. This just so rarely happens in Napa Valley because they owners are likely a huge conglomerate of wineries ran by a Board of Directors!

LoCa The Wines Of Lodi, Ca!
LoCa The Wines Of Lodi, Ca!

 

 

 

So what makes Lodi wines so special?

 

Number one is the incredible passion of the Lodi Winegrape Growers and talented young Winemakers. The people are warm and inviting and are genuinely  glad you are here. But second, and just as important is the Lodi Terroir.

So what is “terroir”?  (terˈwär/)

Terroir is a French noun that describes the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate.  The characteristic taste and flavor imparted to a wine by the environment in which it is produced.

Marians Vineyard with Bruce Fry, Stuart Spencer, and Randy Caparoso
Marians Vineyard with Bruce Fry, Stuart Spencer, and Randy Caparoso

Lodi Appellation has a Mediterranean climate that will have warm to hot days, and cool evenings. Lodi is situated about 100 miles East of the San Francisco Bay and on the edge of the San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta. This provides cool breezes and chills the grapes down at night. Warm days allow the winemaker to produce a full flavored complex wine, and the cool nights provide natural acidity. This is a winning combination for any winemaker.

 

Combine the near perfect climate for wine grapes with the diverse soils formed thousands of years ago through geological events and alluvial waters rich in granitic-based minerals, and you can see why the wines of Lodi are winning gold medals and 90’s scores from the wine magazines around the world

Lodi Vineyard. Photo by Goff Photography
Lodi Vineyard. Photo by Goff Photography
So visit Lodi.
Visit soon and discover the incredible award winning wines that are a true bargain. Discover the warm and friendly people. And discover the beautiful but very unpretentious wineries.
But don’t come looking for Napa.
This is Lodi Wine Country! 
Lodi Harvest Gold!
Lodi Harvest Gold
Punching the cap at Holdener Vineyards Winery
Punching the cap at Holdener Vineyards Winery with Kyle Lerner

Thank you for reading and sharing my experiences in Lodi. Check back soon for the follow up on the exciting Lodi Native Project.

 And please…Leave a comment below. Wine is for sharing. And not just the wine itself. I love hearing of your own travels and adventures and the great bottles you have discovered!
Dinner at School Street Bistro, downtown Lodi with Snooth Media and our crew!
Dinner at School Street Bistro, downtown Lodi with Snooth Media and our crew!
Kayla enjoying Harney Lane wines with Kyle Lerner
The lovely Kayla enjoying Harney Lane wines with Kyle Lerner
Old Vine Zinfandell at Wegat Vineyard, Lodi
Old Vine Zinfandell at Wegat Vineyard, Lodi
Oak Farms Vineyard, a must visit in Lodi Wine Country!
Oak Farms Vineyard, this is a a must visit in Lodi Wine Country!
Oak Farm Vineyard Favorites!
Oak Farm Vineyard Favorites!
2015 Acquiesce Viognier, Stunning wine!
2015 Acquiesce Viognier, Stunning wine and possibly my favorite!
Macchia-Generous Old Vine Zinfandel Mohr Fry Vineyard
Macchia Volupous Old Vine Zinfandel Maley Vineyard
Selfie in Lodi Wine Country Vineyards!
Lodi Wine Country Vineyards. GO LoCa!
Terry Hill is the Texas Wineaux!

 

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.

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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!