Monthly Archives: June 2009

Pinot Noir Lovers – Be Alerted To The Pinot Days Grand Festival This Weekend

Sunday, June 28, 2009 from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm at the Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason
Center, San Francisco.  Cost is $50/ticket.

The Grand Tasting will showcase 200 producers of pinot noir.  This is
California’s largest
single gathering of pinot producers, as well as
its most varied.  If you go you will be able to
sample up to 400 pinots from
every important region in California, Oregon, New Zealand,

As winemaker Ed Kurtzman, Freeman Winery
says, “For anyone who already loves Pinot,
this is an excellent
opportunity to try many new wines as well as some well-established
favorites.  For those who don’t have a lot of Pinot experience; my bet
is that they’ll be in
love with this grape by the end of the weekend.” 

Enjoy the countless pinots and sample a variety of artisan cheeses & other specialty foods. 
They will feature a pinot
production demonstration in which you can learn about the
of pinot from the vine to bottling and every step in between. They will
also offer a
number of pinots for auction, benefiting various

Larry and I will be volunteering at the silent auction booth until 2:00 pm.  Then we will
be set free to taste away!  If you are a twitter friend come find us @WineTravelLori and
@WineTravelLarry.  Brandon, aka @winemakerb, assistant winemaker for Dutton Goldfield) will be
there pouring on Saturday.  If you are going to be there then I suggest that you go
“clink a toast” and say hi.

Please, if you go, reply about it on this blog next week we want to hear all about your experiences.

Happy Pinot Drinking!!!!!!!!

Father’s Day Past – Tennis, Swimming, Kids, In-laws Lamb and Wine

Yesterday was Father’s Day.  Usually we have a casual day where the boys come here or we meet somewhere and go for a hike and have a bbq.  But this year it was different.  I came up with a brilliant idea to invite my in-laws up here for the weekend.  They were very excited about the offer, bought their Southwest tickets and then they were here.  We enjoyed a quiet afternoon together on Saturday of which included barbecuing chicken breast and serving it with avocado, bacon, lettuce and tomato.   For the evening we had a prior engagement to play bridge with our friends, and so Sherry and Al went to see the new movie “Proposal”.  At 11pm when we came home and our son Brandon and daughter-in-law Kim were on the couch watching TV and knitting.  Sherry and Al were just getting ready for bed and told us they enjoyed the movie.  We all said goodnight and off to bed we went to get our beauty sleep.

In the morning Brandon and Kim made us a great breakfast, which consisted of fruit salad, scrambled eggs, bacon and homemade banana bread.  Just as we were finishing up with breakfast Jacob, my other son, came home with his dog Opal.  Opal is a 1 1/2 year old border collie/Queensland heeler mix.  She is a living tornado, but very sweet, overly friendly and very controlling; especially to our dog Elmer Fudd, who weights twice as much as she does.

After we cleaned up from breakfast we all got ready to go to the tennis courts and swimming pool for the afternoon.  Larry and I got our first tennis lesson from our boys.  We are now on our way to a tennis career!?  Sherry and Al watched, as they were reading and doing word search puzzles.  After we were all hot and sweaty we went to the pool.  It felt real good to cool off.

Coming home it was time to get serious with dinner preparations.  To go back a bit, on Friday, I bought the lamb shanks and made a marinade out of Cabernet, carrots, onion, lemon, chopped tomatoes, garlic, leeks, thyme, oregano, peppercorns, and bay leaves which cooked together for about 15 minutes.  Once the marinade cooled down I put it with the lamb shanks into a couple Ziploc Baggies to marinate overnight.  On Saturday I cooked the lamb for four hours as instructed in the recipe book, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert.  Once it cooled down, I put it into the refrigerator overnight.  This is what stage I was in when we came back home on Sunday.  I put the lamb into the oven to get the juices flowing again.  Then I removed the lamb shanks, strained the wine from the vegetables and put it in the fridge to cool down and for the fat to rise to the top.  I finished up my ABC Salad (avocado, beans and corn) and boiled the red potatoes.  Al helped by mashing the potatoes while I put in all the goodies.  I cooked down the lamb juices a bit and added in the almond chocolate picada.  This thickened up the jus and then I poured it over each shank and put back in the oven to re-warm for a half hour.  When it was time we all sat down to the ABC salad starter, which everyone really liked.  Some of us were still drinking the white wine while some couldn’t wait to get to the reds.  I reheated the potatoes as I heated up the wok to stir fry the spinach with some garlic and shallots.  Jacob helped me to plate each dish with a spoonful of garlic-cheese potatoes, the lamb shank, the spinach and pomegranate seeds and parsley as garnish.

      Lamb Shank, Garlic Mashed & Spinach

The wine we drank was very interesting.  Brandon and Kim had brought a bottle of Riesling from Te Whare Ra, New Zealand when they were there in April.  This happens to be one of our favorite wineries in New Zealand.   We all enjoyed it very much as we munched on my homemade Spicy Hummus and pita chips.  We also opened a Pacific Rim Riesling, which is another label from Randall Grahm of Bonnie Doon.  Both were good, the Pacific Rim was better after it warmed up a bit, but the Te Whare Ra was good all the way from the beginning to the end.

About 1 hour before dinner Larry opened up and decanted the red wines.  They were all Cabernet Sauvignon’s but from different years and different growing regions all in California.  My third choice, although it kept on opening up and improving while in my glass, was the Camellia Cellars 2002 Cabernet, Lencioni Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County.  My second choice was the Artesa Vineyards and Winery 1999 Napa Valley Cabernet and my favorite was the 1996 Murrieta’s Well, Livermore Valley, Vendimia Cabernet blend.  This blend consisted of 57% Cabernet, 24% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc and 8% Zinfandel.  All of these varietals made a very nice well-balanced blend that improved with its age.  Between the seven of us we drank nearly 5 bottles in a four-hour period.  To top off the night I served dessert, Larry’s request; deconstructed It’s It.  So I made oatmeal chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies, everyone had the choice of ice cream flavors from vanilla to chocolate to mint chip and I pour Hershey’s syrup all over the top.  Very good, fairly light dessert after the heavy dinner, and everyone had smiles their faces.

Last night Jacob drove home.  This morning Brandon and Kim got up early and left to go to work up in Santa Rosa and Larry took his parents back to the airport to fly home.  The weekend went fast, but like they say, quality vs. quantity is usually the better choice!

Winning Results in ViciVino’s Anniversary Wine Haiku Contest

We had a really great response to our wine haiku contest in May.  We were celebrating ViciVino’s 1-year anniversary and thought it would be great to share the joy with everyone.  We had over 80 entries and ended up with 3 top winners, and 3 honorable mention winners.

The top three winners were awarded a bottle of “Haiku” blend wine, donated by Cinquain Cellars of Paso Robles. also donated a wine bottle carrier, a wine journal and a wine bottle opener. 

Below, I’m going to list the winners in the order from 1st place through the honorable mentions.  I wanted to once again thank Thea Dwelle for being our guest judge.  I think she did a great job ciphering through all the entries! 

      Thea and Lori in SF

For a complete list of all the entries go here.

Top Three Winners

#1 – Louise Brandt, CA
deep roots in hard clay
rugged vines crookedly stretch
perspiring ruby drops

#2 – P.J. Veber, SC
golden wine moonrise
through the grapevines curled tendrils
warms the throat and soul

#3 – Elizabeth DeHoff, CA
hardy vines, their grapes
reach toward the nourishing light
plump with potential

Honorable Mention

#1 – Elizabeth DeHoff, CA
Bacchus legacy
Poured out splashing in a glass
Bliss unbound by time

#2 – Jean Wilson, NC
vines arch toward the sun
barrels wait for ripe nectar
glasses stand empty

#3 – Keith A. Simmonds, France
pink glow of sunlight
shimmering in my wine glass
a full-bodied taste

I hope you enjoyed our contest as much as we did.  Keep your eyes open for another one coming near the end of the year.

Ken Stabler, former Raider, is Grand Marshall at the NASCAR race in California Wine Country

Living in the Bay Area and being a sport fan, I pay attention to the sports news.  Normally if its football or NASCAR I turn my ears down, but this article caught my attention for a couple reasons.  First it’s about Ken Stabler who is a former Oakland Raiders quarterback and guided the Raiders to their first Super Bowl victory in 1977.  Even I recognize the name!  Mr. Stabler was enshrined into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2000, and this weekend he has been named Grand Marshal of the upcoming Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend to be held June 19-21, at Infineon Raceway in the Wine Country.

“I’m very honored to serve as the Grand Marshal of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend,” said Stabler, an avid NASCAR fan who resides in Alabama.
“It will be great fun to be back in Northern California with good friends and great fans.”  

Here comes the “wine” part… Mr. Stabler will be honored at the Children’s Champions Grand Marshal’s Banquet on Friday, June 19, at Cline Cellars in Sonoma. The event is a fundraiser for the Sonoma Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. He will also take part in pre-race activities on race day, June 21 (Father’s Day), including participating in the official command, “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines.”  Stabler will also be an interested spectator for the Bennett Lane Winery 200, presented by Supercuts, NASCAR Camping World West Series race on Saturday, June 20.  DenBeste Motorsports & Biagi Brothers will enter the Silver & Black car, dedicated to Stabler’s legendary Raider career.  It is fitting that this year the Oakland Raiders celebrate their 50th anniversary in professional football.  “We’re very excited to be participating in the Bennett Lane Winery 200 on Saturday,” Stabler said. “I have been a huge race fan my entire life and to be here as Grand Marshal at Infineon and have a car competing in the race on Saturday is going to be a real thrill and I’m looking forward to a big weekend of fun.”

Bennett Lane Winery in Calistoga was bought by Randy Lynch, nearly six years ago.  Lynch is a long time racing aficionado who used to race cars himself.  He owns his own race car team that tours the Western U.S.  The cars proudly sport his winery logo.  Lynch is as passionate about racing as he is about his wine.  The vintner hopes to bring his style of winemaking to those who share
his love of fast cars.  In the racing world – where beer gets more
airplay than wine – Randy makes a strong alternative statement when his
car crosses the finish line bedecked in the colors and logo of Bennett

“Ken Stabler is one of the Bay Area’s all-time sports heroes, not just for his achievements on the field, but also as one of the defining personalities on a legendary football team,” said Steve Page, president and general manager of Infineon Raceway. “He’ll give a terrific spark to our NASCAR festivities and we look forward to having him join us for the weekend.”

Tickets are available for the Toyota/Save Mart 350, June 19-21. Call 800-870-RACE or visit or

The story of drinking a 34 year old Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Last Saturday we were invited to celebrate our neighbor Denise’ 35th birthday.  Quite a few years ago Denise’s father Paul, had bought and laid down in his cellar a bottle of ’75 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, (he is a wine collector).  If you are listening and are good at math you might say, shouldn’t the bottle have been a ’74 and not a ’75?  The answer is yes, but if you know anything about the 1974 vintage in France then you would know why he bought the ’75.

The party was called for 7:00 p.m. but at 5:00 p.m. we got a frantic call – “please come over with your entire wine bottle opening devices”.  What I haven’t mentioned yet was that this 1975 bottle of Chateau Mouton Rothschild was a Double-Double Magnum officially called
an Imperial (for wine) and Methuselah (for champagne).

                              The Imperial of 1975 Chateau Mouton Rothschild and wine label

This means 8 bottles, 6.1 liters, of wine all packed into one huge bottle.  And I mean HUGE!  Our neighbors put their 17-month-old son next to the bottle and he was only about 8 inches taller!  Opening this bottle proved to be a challenge since the neck was about 2-3 times as big in diameter as most bottles.  It weighed a ton and was very challenging to maneuver.  They ended up getting it opened with their rabbit opener.  We brought over 3 decanters for them to pour the wine into, as it needed a lot of breathing time and space.  The first glance at the wine when it was poured into our glass was a hint of brown around the edges, not a deep red like I would have expected.  The nose was good, a little musty, and the initial taste; there was no tannin so all you really could taste was the very old berries.  It wasn’t vinegar, but it needed a lot of time to open up.  We kept sampling it over the next 4-hour period, which is about when it opened up to the drinking point and tasted good.  The tannins finally came forward and balanced out the grapes.  Unfortunately by then most of the wine was gone.  Too bad.  It was a very nice experience to be part of. 

                                 Alex Morgan w/Double/Double Magnum of Mouton Rothschild

They served roasted chicken and potatoes, bbq’d asparagus, salads and delicious breads.  This went very nicely as no one had very much wine in his or her glass at any given time.  By the time we ate dinner there were other miscellaneous bottles of wine opened up and being drunk.  Oh, I forgot to mention dessert!  Well, Demises’ father brought in brownies all the way from Henderson/Las Vegas (where he lives).  They were to die for!  There was plain brownie, one was plain topped with walnuts and the other was a plain brownie with a marshmallow cream frosting and caramel swirled over the top.  Number 1 & 3 were my favorites, as I don’t like to mix my chocolate with nuts!  These brownies were incredibly moist and were made with a very good quality chocolate.  It was hard to stop eating them.  The brownies went very well with any and all of the red wines that were open.  A fun time was had by Denise and all her family and friends.  We were very excited to be included in trying this amazing bottle of wine.

Wine Webinar with Cline Cellars and

I’m real proud of myself as I feel like I’m keeping myself in the loop.  The Social Media loop that is.  While on Twitter (@WineTravelLori) last week I met someone who runs  This is strictly a wine webinar program where everyone gets to drink a selected wine together from a particular winery.  The nice thing is as long as you can log into a computer you can join in, no matter where you are so get creative!  We were all given the date of June 2, time 5:30 p.s.t. The wine we needed to buy in order to taste it with everyone was, Cline Cellars, ’07 Ancient Vine Zinfandel.  I found the wine at Cost Plus World Market for under $18.  I was given a code to log and when it was the right time we signed onto the computer and joined in with the host, Chris, of  I did this with my son Brandon and daughter-in-law Kim.  We had the wine, the glasses, some snacks, and the Giant’s game on the T.V. (Linsecom was pitching, we had it on mute).  Brandon was very leery about this, but Kim and I were optimistic that it would be fun and educational at the same time.

Chris introduced himself and the general idea of how the interview/tasting was going to go. He gave us a demonstration on how to ask a question if we wanted or how to just write in a question.   He also informed us that we were all on mute unless he manually unmuted us for a question or comment.  After that we were introduced to Charlie Tsegeletos, director of winemaking at Cline Cellars in Sonoma Valley.   Charlie was very nice as was Chris.  Charlie has been making wine for 22 years and his style is to use the tools that he has developed over the years and to make a wine that he likes.  He finds that his taste in wine, which is balanced, is very popular with his clientele.  Charlie’s motto is to “price it right, make it, and sell more”.

My only disappointment in the whole thing were the guidelines on the computer didn’t instruct us to open the wine until 10 minutes into the 45 minute call.  Then 5 minutes later Chris had us pour, and then drink.  Well, we had our bottle opened and our glasses poured before the webinar even started!  I guess I was hoping that we would all do the steps together, the open, pour, swirl, taste and discuss each step as it happened.   Instead there was a survey asking:  Where does Zin rank in your favorites? – 70% said towards the top.  What is your nose telling you?  Black Cherry = 73%, we voted for Raspberry which got 9% of the votes.  This was pretty cool, but I would have either liked more surveys or more discussion from the two live speakers about the smell, taste, etc.

Cline Cellars started in Oakley California, which is in Contra Costa County, 20-30 miles east of San Francisco.  Even though their winery is in Sonoma they get the majority of their grapes from those vineyards in Oakley and from Lodi, Central Valley region.  Their Ancient Vine Zins are between 40 – 99 years old and grow in a very sandy region.  Being sandy means that the vines have to work harder to find the water table, which can be as deep as 30 feet.  In order for a wine to be considered “ancient” it needs to be at least an average of 50 years old.  The flavors of this particular wine that we tried are described by Charlie as “exotic chocolate and strawberry”.  This Zin has 14.5% alcohol and is fairly high in acid, but has a medium body.  Cline is the first winery to develop a very unique label.  It has a recipe inside the label!  There is a “peel here for recipe” tab and once you peel it off you have more detailed descriptions of the winery and a recipe.  Our recipe was for a bbq sauce.  I loved this idea, thought it was very clever.  Their farm is as organic as possible; they use goats and sheep to eat the grasses down.

Some of the Q & A’s –

Q – Plano, TX – What is your favorite wine?
A – Zinfandel, the ’07 Ancient Vines Movedre and Viognier

Q- Texas – What is your favorite food to pair with this Zinfandel?
A – Shoot for a flavorful food.  Something that has a tomato base like pasta or pizza is great!

Q – Jacksonville, FL – What would you say is your style of wine making?
A – I make more of a Big, Chewy Zin that is between 14.5 -15% alcohol.  We make 7 different Zins each with its own style.  We offer a CA Zin that is below 14% alcohol that goes for under $16.00.

Q – Texas – How much does the soil influence the flavors and aromas of the Zin?
A – The soil has a huge impact on the nutrients (water/vapor, growth, and terroir, in the vines.  And the nutrients in the vines ultimately add flavor and texture to the grapes.

If you are interested in joinint in with wine webinars, check out  I just enjoyed being part of the Clos LaChance

Friday night gathering.  We all tasted their Chardonnay, Meritage, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Meritage was the big winner of the night with the Chardonnay coiming in as a close second.  This setup was more of what I was hoping for with the  Oh well, there is no harm in learning all about this social marketing especially if the topic is wine and you happen to love wine.