A Tasting on the Ridge

This post is several weeks overdue but thanks to holiday travel, jet lag and, well, life I’m finally getting around to publish it. Enjoy! 

As per usual, this year I made the trek home for Christmas and New Years. It turned out to be a bit of a crazy and tiring two weeks, but we did manage to carve out a little time for a wine tasting. Originally we talked about Paso Robles, then Napa or Sonoma. Eventually we were all a little too tired for such grand adventures and we turned our attention to the local Santa Cruz Mountains and Ridge Vineyards.

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Summer may be over, but the fun continues

Once again it has been a long time since I’ve written. But I can promise it’s been a crazy if fun (and of course travel filled) six weeks.

On the practical front my visa renewal is all but finished. I have my temporary papers but need to collect and drop off two final school related items to claim the official document. Which means, I officially get to stay in France for another year.

I also took my first trip to Burgundy and stayed with the absolutely lovely L. family. I got to experience Beaune in all its glory. Great Pinot Noir. Amazing Chardonnays. Intriguing Aligotes. (and yes, I am actually raving about white wines) In fact, I added to my steadily growing collection. I got to explore some of the area’s history, the Hospice and Clos de Vougeot. And the wine nerd in me got to see the famous Domaine de Romanee Conti. Now I just need to get a chance to taste the wine…. I’ll have to work on that. Click here for some of the amazing array of photos.

Then I went home for three weeks and almost completely checked out (even though I did bring my computer home). I got to see old friends, celebrate birthdays with family and take a vacation. Stops included Disneyland (yes I’m still enough of a kid to love it), Vegas (yes I’m enough of an adult to take advantage) and Mammoth (got nothing on this one). Sorry no high-quality pictures on this one, but click here for a few iPhone snaps.

And on the way back to France, I made a pit stop in Amsterdam with my dad. And a whirlwind 48 hours it was. A Canal Tour, Heineken Brewery Experience, Van Gogh Museum, the Flower Market, Museum of the Canals, Houseboat Museum, Tulip Museum, Cheese Museum, the House of Bols and Genever, the Windmill Brewery (Brozerit’j IJ) and of course the obligatory tour through the Red Light District. It was a very busy trip and of course this time there were photos.

I would say I don’t have another trip planned but I’m afraid that just isn’t the case. I’ll be back in Spain, visiting the Rioja region with school, in October. And it looks like I’ll be headed back to Burgundy for the Hospice de Beaune Vente de Vin in November. In the mean time, I’ll go back to work and start preparing for the new school year. I’ll confess to feeling very nervous about what this year will bring, but I can say with 100% certainty that I know I’ll be enjoying that wine collection I built up over the summer. In fact, I doubt it will last until Christmas. 😉 But I promise to start posting more wine reviews and updates.

So for now –à la prochaine !

Interesting Updates in the California Wine Industry

As promised, I am going to start blogging more about general wine news, information, tasting notes, etc. In following a greater number of industry news sources I came across two very interesting articles about California. While I may be a French wine convert, I am also a Cali girl at heart and it’s always interesting to keep up with what is going on back home.

First and foremost, French spirit producing giant Pernod-Ricard has announced it is purchasing Kenwood Winery. With a huge stable of international brands, like Absolut Vodka, Glenlivet, Kahlua, Malibu, and Mumm just to name a few, Pernod-Ricard is an international giant, the second-largest wine and spirits producer in the world. The acquisition of Kenwood just adds to this international domination and adds to the P-R presence in the USA market. However, it is an interesting choice as it is the first US still winery and the first property in Sonoma County to be added to the portfolio. With a huge pool of resources, it will be interesting to see what this industry giant makes of Sonoma County’s largest premium brand.

In other interesting news, San Francisco Chronicle critic Jon Bonné has released a new book, The New California Wine,  about the changing wine industry in California. Long a hot bed of innovation and exploration, California’s impact on the international wine industry dates to the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Moving away from large scale brands, small California winemakers are continuing to explore new varietals, new trends and new styles. In fact, in a recent Chardonnay tasting it became readily apparent that even the largest Napa Valley estates are moving away from the heavily oaked, buttery Chardonnays that have long been the backbone of the region’s white wine production. California producers are embracing the concept of terroir and are looking to highlight quality.

It will be an interesting year to watch in Calfornia, given the recent drought problems. But with great summer weather, there the potential for another amazing harvest. In the mean time, I’m going to try to hunt down some Grüner Veltliner, one of California’s newest rising varietals.