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January 2, 2013 / WineinTamiTime

My deal with Pinot


I’m not going to lie to you, I’m not the biggest fan of Pinot Noir. The Sideways fever never infected me. What I did take from the movie, from the scene where Miles and Maya discussed the beauty of pinot on the porch, was that it is a hard grape to grow and get in a bottle. Since then, I’ve felt like pinot should be expensive. Add to that a propensity for syrah and Spanish wine, which are generally more accessible on a server’s budget and it comes out to me never developing an appreciation for it’s charms. Which is weird considering that I’ve always loved Beaujolais, but that’s another story altogether. When it comes to Burgundy, it’s been hit or miss for me, but my studies tell me that that is the nature of Burgundy. If I don’t know what I’m doing in terms of vintage or producer, it’s most likely just going to be okay. As a buyer and a student, I have had the chance to taste and gain some familiarity, but I have only scratched the surface. I do have an expectation of a ruby red wine of medium concentration, typically with red fruit character and the earth up front, at least holding hands with the fruit.

Fast forward to June 2012 when I get to attend Oregon Pinot Camp. NOW I get it! It’s pretty, floral, expressive, and sometimes dirty in a barnyard, earthy, funky kind of deliciousness. Minerality is present. It can pair with almost anything. The tannins don’t rip my face off. It doesn’t weigh down my palate. I Love Pinot Noir! Now I’m paying attention. I’m even bringing it home for dinner.

I started tasting with the Grapevine in August. I get to taste all kinds of pinot, but they’re all from California, nearly all 2010 so far. Sonoma, Anderson Valley, Santa Barbara, you name it. I am taken aback with the purple, opaque, tear staining, black fruit, no earth booziness. Mind you, I am making a generalization. I’m not saying this is all Cali pinot, but it’s common and it makes me mad.  And I know why it’s common. It’s because that is what the customer wants, they want a big bold pinot. It tastes like syrah, which really makes me mad because it’s hard to sell the most lovely of syrahs.

Accept the things you cannot change, right? After the last flight of these big goopy pinots, I came to the realization that maybe that is just what California Pinot Noir is. That is how they distinguish themselves from the rest of the world. I need to just roll with it, find the ones I think display the best balance and complexity and make the people happy. Because there is still plenty of Burgundy and Oregon Pinot out there for me.

December 11, 2012 / WineinTamiTime

Golden Floral Peaches

Tuesday December 4th, we tasted six Viogniers at the Grapevine. My top three most represented how I expect Viognier to taste. I’ve tasted other, more lean, minerally styles that I like, but don’t seem so essentially viognier. Maybe I just like the obvious ones because they are much easier to pick out blind.

I just finished Perfect Pairings by Evan Goldstein MS and Joyce Goldstein, and I was intrigued that he uses this varietal in as many pairings as he does. Warrants some exploration here at home.

Here are my top three, all are from the 2011 vintage. For the others visit

Eberle “Mill Road Vineyard” Paso Robles – this wine is what I think of when I think of viognier, all ripe yellow apple, peach, and apricot with lush white flowers and vanilla. Hints of asparagus and a touch of bitter on the palate to provide balance.

Melville “Estate – Verna’s” Santa Barbara County – at 15.8% alcohol, this was hot on the nose, but I enjoyed how rich and round it was on the palate. Was it the fruit or the booze that drove the finish? Either way, it was nice. I see lots of ladies digging this one.

Peachy Canyon “Concrete Blanc” Paso Robles – I voted this as my #3 because it had a longer richer finish than the Curtis from Santa Barbara, even though the Curtis had more happening in terms of fruit, spices and a stone minerality.

December 11, 2012 / WineinTamiTime

Still Pinot Noir from Champagne!

Still Pinot Noir from Champagne!

My friend TJ brought this home for me about a year ago from Champagne. I had no idea when the right time would be to open it, but being thirsty and in for the night made tonight the night.
The cork stumped me for just a second. I figured I ought to go about as I would a proper bubbly, and it worked.

CCPN cork
Until a year ago, I didn’t even realize that the Champenois bottled still pinot, but with as light and acidic as it is, I’m not surprised it’s not more popular. I enjoy the lightness almost as much as the novelty, but most would not. It does have a beautiful dark cherry nose that is opening up more smoky, cedar incense-like.

December 3, 2012 / WineinTamiTime

2010 Pinot Noir

At the Grapevine tonight, we tasted 12 Pinot Noirs. These are my top three. If you’d like to see what else we tasted

Turns out I have a thing for Anderson Valley.

Williams Selyem “Burt Williams’ Morning Dew Ranch” Anderson Valley. This was the lightest bodied of the group, falling into how pinot noir ought to feel. Medium plus intensity on the nose with red fruits: strawberry, cranberry, cherry, pomegranate, with forest floor, rose petal, violet, pine, clove. This tastes like pinot noir ought to with medium body, tannins, alcohol  and medium plus acidity. This was the lightest and most Pinot Noir of the group.

My #2 is the Williams Selyem Rochioli Riverblock Russian River Valley. While it was purple with medium plus concentration and viscosity, I loved how expressive the woodsy cedar notes were on the nose. Red plum, black berry, damp earth. Dark but not syrah dark.

#3 in the lineup is the DuMol “Aidan” Russian River Valley. Love the medium + intensity on the nose of flowers, talcum, nag champa, red and black fruit, eucalyptus and menthol. Love the earth dominance on nose, but with tart red fruit on the palate. Woody but balanced.



December 3, 2012 / WineinTamiTime

Grateful for the delicious!

When I was a novice wine drinker, I discovered Beaujolais Nouveau. How cool is it that they harvest the grapes in France and within a month, get that wine over here? I went through a denial period, laughed at by “more serious” wine people while I was a rookie talking about how I loved it. A guest told me she was in Beaujolais the day Nouveau was released and it was a bunch of hammered people in the streets drinking it out of the bottle. Then I  drank a bunch of “more serious” wine in the interim, becoming myself ever so much more serious about wine. Then I open a bottle of Dominique Piron Chenas, or Jean Foillard Morgon Cote de Py or Diochon Moulin a Vent and I remember how I came to love wine in the beginning. Attending Guild of Sommelier tastings in Las Vegas last year and in San Diego this year further confirmed the seriousness of  this non-serious wine. I tasted Dupeuble when I took Advanced in October 2011 at Master Belding’s table and he referred to Dupeuble as “our good man in Beaujolais”. That guy rules Movember, check him out on the Kermit Lynch website

What it comes down to is that if you like light, stony, acidic wine, you will love Beaujolais. Seriously.

November 14, 2012 / WineinTamiTime

Grip O’ Chard

At the California Grapevine tasting tonight, we went through 10 2010 chardonnays and 8 2010 zins. My top 2 chards were both from the Heintz Vineyard in the Russian River Valley, the Williams Selyem and the DuMol Isabel. My third favorite was the Benovia Sonoma Coast. The zin flight was hard for me, none of them really blew my skirt up, but when has zinfandel ever rocked my world? My top 3 were Force of Nature Moss Fire Ranch from Paso Robles, the Williams Selyem Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley and Artezin from Dry Creek Valley. Tasting notes on all follow. I list my top 3 first, then they are more or less in order of my preference. If you’re interested in how the group as a whole voted, check out

2010 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley unless noted

  • Williams Selyem Heintz Vineyard – medium intensity on the nose, mandarin orange, pineapple, guava, hint of green vegetable, vanilla, white flowers. Clean, some minerality, medium+ acidity and finish 2 Sticks of Butter out of 5
  • DuMol Isabel Heintz Vineyard – medium intensity on the nose, yellow apple, tropical fruit, citrus, popcorn, molasses, cinnamon, hint of vegetable, gardenia. Clean, 1 Stick of Butter out of 5.
  • Benovia Sonoma Coast – medium + intensity on the nose, the fruit is very ripe and yellow – apple, lemon, pineapple. Tuberose, vanilla, butter, definitely some new oak. Rich but balanced. 3.5 sticks of butter.
  • Williams Selyem Drake Estate Vineyard – medium+ intensity on the nose, citrus, pineapple, smoke, jasmine and talcum. Medium minus complexity, but with 1 stick of butter, it’s to my taste.
  • Williams Selyem Allen Vineyard – lemon, mandarin orange, tropical fruit. Hints of butter and vanilla, 2 sticks of butter in fact.
  • DuMol Chloe – medium + intensity of ripe pear, lemon and pineapple. Baking spices, hints of veggies and 3 sticks of butter. Boozy high alcohol.
  • DuMol Clare Carneros – Smoke, popcorn, yellow apple, vanilla, caramel, a little funky. Just struck match. balanced, 2 sticks of butter.
  • Benovia La Pommeraie – yellow apple, ripe pear, sweet lemon, baking spices, 5 sticks of butter! Full bodied and lots of oak but high acidity not integrated. Cougar juice.
  • Merry Edwards Olivet Lane – Pear, pineapple, baking spices. hints of green veggies. Butter more prominent on nose, on palate, 2 sticks. Not a standout in this lineup.
  • Dunstan Durrell Vineyard Sonoma Coast – Yellow apple, overripe tropical fruit, white flowers. Hint of a funky greenness. 3 sticks of butter.

2010 Zinfandel

  • Force of Nature Moss Fire Ranch Paso Robles – Ripe red fruit, strawberry, cherry, plum. Green stems I find common in zin.Baking spices and green olives. Big full zin.
  • Williams Selyem Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley – Ripe berries, cherry, almost Koolaid like. Baked plum, cinnamon and clove. Medium body, tannins, complexity, alcohol and finish.
  • Artezin Dry Creek Valley – Red fruit, pomegranate, baking spices, and green stems. Medium body and tannins, but hot.
  • Maccia Oblivious Old Vine Lodi – Opaque purple color and fruit. Hoisin, teriyaki, a savory, meaty element.Full bodied with chewy tannins.
  • Frank Family Napa Valley – Ripe and baked fruit, black cherry, plum and cranberry. Leather and stems.
  • Klinker Brick Lodi – opaque, purple fruit, vanilla, wood, petrol, stems. Big hot zin.
  • Renwood Old Vine Lodi – Cranberry, pomegranate, clay, rubber. No faults but no complexity.
  • Saldo California –  Dark fruit, damp, musty, unpleasant.


November 13, 2012 / WineinTamiTime

this one time, at Pinot Camp…