Monday, March 26, 2012

Exactly One Year Ago

...I landed in the South of France and quickly made my way North to visit the Rhone.  And a flash from the past here, such a thrilling trip! 

 A view from the castle in Chateauneuf du Pape

Friday, March 23, 2012


a beautiful view from the San Francisco Ferry Building towards the East & the Bay Bridge. Click photo to enlarge the view!  TGIF - Ali 

Photo Credit goes to Mr. Story

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wine of the Week - a Cabernet??!!

To be totally honest with you all, I hardly drink this bottle of Alexander Valley Cabernet.  ONLY because I can't ever get my hands on a sample since it's the fastest selling Cabernet Sauvignon I've ever worked with.  

All of us at Brack Mountain are in the same boat, the owners and winemaker - nope, none of us, not a drop of Bench Cabernet to be found in any of our stashes. It's selling incredibly quick - by the glass at some high-profile restaurants across the US, poured out of a wine KEG at the United Center's Stadium Club in Chicago and countless shiny bottles are put into the hands of customers in fine wine shops from the West to the East.  

It's a damn good bottle of Cabernet - especially for $20. 

Wine Geeky Facts about the 2009 Bench Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyard is located in Southern Alexander Valley, along the Western bench of the Mayacamas. These soils are rocky and volcanic, with excellent early and mid-day sun exposure.  Yield: 3 tons/acre. Fermentation: the grapes were destemmed only, then transferred by gravity to a stainless steel fermentation tank.  After a long cold soak, the fruit was inoculated with a proprietary blend of yeasts to imbue the wine with greater complexity. After a steady fermentation to complete dryness, the new wine stayed on the grape skins for an extended maceration to develop mouth-feel and structure. The wine was pressed off 45 days after it went into tank. Malolactic fermentation was left to complete indigenously.  Aged for 18 months in 100% French Oak, 50 % new. 1400 cases produced. pH: 3.58 TA: .57

Check out the chatter!

K&L Wine Merchants - LA, San Francisco and Silicon Valley, CA
It is a rare thing to find a Cabernet at this price from Northern California with as much depth, complexity, and real Cabernet character as the Bench from Alexander Valley. Made by the Brack Mountain Winery, this small lot wine comes from the western bench of the Mayacamas Range, hence its name. It's full of rich and dark fruit flavors backed up by firm tannin and cedar and cigar box spices. It is a real Alexander Valley Cabernet for a great price! Read 4 more K&L staff reviews

Red Carpet Wines  - Glendale, CA
Now, everyone who knows a little bit about wine knows about The Alexander Valley. Sure, there is Jordan, Lancaster, and Silver Oak to name a few. Oh, but there are so many others and excellent value too. The Top 100 is about the best wines for the money; we present to you a 100% Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for just under $20. The Bench has a brilliant deep garnet hue and is a perfect representation of this noble varietal. Aromatically, it is a cavalcade of blueberry, red forest fruit, sensual suede, loam and even a slight hint of eucalyptus. It is so robust, yet elegant with tannins that bring together a mesh of currants, tobacco, and fresh herbs. Age worthy for sure, but ready to be enjoyed right now, so why wait. -H.K. #1 Wine of 2012 - read more from Red Carpet.

Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Domaine Vincent Stoeffler

A nice surprise from Alsace on a Tuesday night for me.  Wet rocks, crisp, bright and dry...loved it.   I clicked on the producer website to find these descriptors - oh my kind of Riesling!    

"Wines with Stony Characteristics" ...
Coming from excellent soils, produced according to the same draconian rules as the Grands Crus. These generous and complex wines age well. They express the nobility and the typicity of the soil.

I'm looking forward to trying other wines from Domaine Stoeffler thanks to my old pal Condes, 

Cheers - Ali

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Wine of the Week

well, so far! A natural wine selection brought to us in California by Amy Atwood Selections

A beauty of a Beaujolais! Served slightly chilled,with almost preserved cranberry and strawberry notes along with rose and violet petals both on the nose and mouthfeel. A lively welcome few glasses to help us continue through the week! From the internets...

Chamonard 2009 Morgon Clos de Lys

From four hectares of massale-selecton, high density plantings ranging from 50 to 100 years of age in the lieu-dits of Chenes, Corcelette, and les Martillets. Chanudet works the vineyards organically but does not seek certification, there is no added yeast or sugar. The 2009 Clos de Lys shows complex aromas of red and black fruits with hints of licorice and graphite. The palate is balanced with good acidity for a 2009, the fruit is succulent and pure, and while it's hard to imagine not drinking this wine now, it seems to promise a long and uniquely Morgon evolution.  Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, March 07, 2012


oh and so it begins...cleverness is oozing all over Austin, Texas for at least the next 2 weeks. Please order here before this smarty-smart t-shirt sells-out, I'm bet it will! Cheers - Ali

Sunday, March 04, 2012

So you think you like Silver Oak in Alexander Valley?


Last Thursday I drove into J.Rickards winery for the first time ever in my life.  HOW IN THE WORLD have I missed out on this wonderful winery all these years?  It's certainly been a very long while since I've tasted through an entire lineup of wines and liked every drop - I even bought a bottle of Zinfandel!

J.Rickards is located a stone's throw South of the Silver Oak Alexander Valley winery off of Hwy 101 in Cloverdale, CA. Click for Directions Here. 

So Jim and his wife Eliza make running the winery a total family affair, in 1976 they purchased 60 acres and finally after the encouragement of friends founded the winery in 2005.   Instead of repeating what has already been written about J.Rickards I'll say this...if you are into buying incredibly well made wines made by down-to-earth folks, here's your winery.   I'm adding J.Rickards to my "must visit" list for everyone who continues to reach to me seeking an itinerary for Sonoma County visits.

I walked away with two armfuls of wine, 2 bottles of each of their whites and a bottle of delicious Zinfandel (my least favorite varietal).  Jim Rickards (you'll recognize him from his handle-bar mustache and handsome smile) opened their soon to be released 2009 "Ashley's Block" Malbec as well...a beautiful wine. It's good to be a J. Rickard wine club member. 

Oh and here's a highlight for all the Cabernet Sauvignon drinkers out there who pay a premium price for a bottle of Silver Oak...this bottle was killer.

This is a classic blend of the Five Sisters -- the characteristic varietals of the Bordeaux Region. (Cabernet Sauvignon - 78%, Malbec - 11%, Petit Verdot - 6%, Merlot - 4% and Cabernet Franc - 1%) The elegant and refined wine pairs beautifully with Prime Rib, Filet Mignon and savory vegetable dishes.  Prior vintages were Gold Medal winners.  New Release!  Gold Medal 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition $34

When visiting, don't forget to ask about the story behind the two vines pictured above! Cheers, Ali