2009 Novy Family Wines Grenache Simpson Vineyard

2011 Wine By Joe Pinot Gris Really Good

2008 Stefania Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains

2011 Villa Creek Pink

2007 Carlisle Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard




2009 Novy Family Wines Grenache Simpson Vineyard – $14.25


My comments

I’ve been a big fan of the wines Adam Lee has been producing under his Novy and Siduri labels for several years.  Vintage after vintage, no matter the grape used his wines are very good to outstanding, and are sold for a very fair price.  Buying this wine was a no brainer.  This was part of an “open house” e-mail offer for those not lucky enough to visit in person.  I was able to get this at a sale price and then received another big discount based on the three cases I purchased from the offer.  Where else can you get a single vineyard, low production, Grenache from an outstanding winery for under $15?


Winery history

Our winemaking goal is to produce wines that best capture the distinct flavor and character of a given vineyard site.  To that end, we focus on sites that provide us with exceptional fruit.  We are fanatical in our protection of the vineyard flavor and are determined not to let any overt winemaking components mute the personality of an individual site.


In the cellar, we vinifiy each wine separately by block, clone and barrel type in order to maximize the individual components and provide greater complexity to the final blend.  This approach also provides us with much more flexibility in crafting a wine using only the best and most harmonious lots.


Given that the majority of our wines are single vineyard offerings, it is critical for us to maintain the site’s individual character in order to provide you with a truly diverse offering of wines.  To that end:


  • We believe in minimal intervention, “gentle” winemaking.  In other words, we let the wine make itself.  We do not want to do anything to the wine that isn’t absolutely necessary.
  • We believe in bottling our wines unfiltered and unfined whenever possible, convinced as we are that fining and filtering strip wines of flavor and character.
  • We believe that the best wines express their origins.  Our goal is not to produce the world’s best Syrah or Zinfandel but rather to produce the very best wine from a given site.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright red to ruby color.  The very appealing nose has cherries, raspberries, white pepper, dried herbs, baking spices, minerals, and just hints of smoke and licorice.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins, and very good acidity.  The palate has pepper laced red fruit with dried herbs and a touch of toast oak adding depth.  The finish has nice length with no rough edges.  This is drinking very nicely but should last in the cellar for a few more years.  This is not a typical all fruit California Grenache.  (90 pts)

2009 Novy Family Wines Grenache Simpson Vineyard2




2011 Wine By Joe Pinot Gris Really Good – $9.49


My comments

Pinot Gris wines, especially those from Oregon are a Summer staple in my house.  These are usually fresh and rich enough to enjoy chilled on the deck while something on the grill is cooking or to just kick back and enjoy on its own while relaxing.  These wines also usually have plenty of closing acidity to pair up nicely with warm weather, leisurely meals.


This was a new one for me.  Samples of this were being poured at the local wine store and for under $10, this was a winner.  I had to grab a few bottles for the upcoming “deck season”.


Winery history

Joe Dobbes, owner and winemaker at Dobbes Family Estate, is a pretty laid-back guy, but he couldn’t be more serious about making really excellent wine. This bodes well for the world as we know it, because these dueling demeanors bring forth a true gem: Wine By Joe.


This is your go-to wine. Delicious, but never pretentious. A high-quality bottle at a no-nonsense price, meant to be shared with people who make you happy.


See, it’s smooth and “drinkable,” as they say. But it’s rich and complex, too. Wine By Joe, priced at less than 20 bucks, is as comfortable at a dinner party as it is on a Thursday evening in your backyard. And its consistency from bottle to bottle ensures you’re going to be happy every time you pour it.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright yellow color.  The fresh smelling nose has apples, pears, lemon zest, honeysuckle, and a hint of white pepper.  This has light to medium body, crisp acidity, just a touch of sweetness.  The palate has nice, tart green apples, pears, and lemon zest.  The crisp, mouthwatering finish has nice length from the juicy apples and lemon zest.  (88 pts)

2011 Wine By Joe Pinot Gris Really Good




2008 Stefania Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains – $45.00


My comments

I’ve been a fan of Stefania winery for a few years.  As typical in California, they make a full range of wines from Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon and everything in between.  They produce one of the better red blends being made in California, called Haut Tubee.  Most of their wines sell out via their mailing list and I highly recommend checking them out on their website at http://stefaniawine.com/?page_id=10.


Winery history

Stefania was born in Minnesota.  Her father was an officer in the U.S. Army and she grew up in California, Nevada and Santiago, Chile.  She uses her background in accounting to run the day to day business of a small winery as well as handling wine making duties, vineyard construction management, purchasing, and of course vineyard work.  She loves to entertain friends at home or in the winery.  She painted the art work used on our labels and takes most of the photos used in our blogs and website.


Paul is a California native who has lived in San Jose for over 40 years.  He has worked at various high tech companies in Silicon Valley for 20 years specializing in Technical Support Management.  He handles wine making duties, planning, vineyard design, vineyard management, and acts as the official tour guide.  He loves to cook and host visitors to the winery or home.


Stefania and Paul were married in Jackson Square in the the French Quarter of New Orleans in 2003.  They return every year to celebrate their anniversary with friends in New Orleans.  They began  making wine in 2005 and were most interested in finding a business that would combine their love of food, wine and entertaining.  They are hands on in all parts of the grape growing and wine making process. One of their greatest joys has been the growing number of friends across the country who enjoy their wine.


Stefania Wine is supported by a small group of part time employees, family members and close friends who volunteer to help with labor intensive tasks.   We are lucky to have such great friends who are always willing to trade a day of hard work for a good meal and an ample supply of wine.


Much more information and their interesting blog can be found at:



My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright ruby red color.  The appealing nose has cherries, earthy underbrush, raspberries, warm baking spices, violets, and a touch of vanilla.  This has medium body, moderate tannins, and very nice acidity.  The palate is full of earthy, spice laden, juicy red fruit.  The finish is fairly long with tart cherries and earthy elements seeming to hang on forever.  This tastes great today but will last in the cellar and possibly improve over the next several years.  (93 pts)

2008 Stefania Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains




We used some of the Pinot Gris on Saturday to make this delicious dish for dinner on Saturday.  The leftover Pinot Gris and the Stefania Pinot Noir both went well with the dish.

Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair Pasta


The recipe for this Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair Pasta is available on the Comfy Cuisine website.


We added a bit extra cayenne to the “breading” since we wanted a little extra kick.




2011 Villa Creek Pink – $12.80


My comments

This wine as well as the one from Bedrock are our go-to Summer rosés.  I usually supplement my supply of rosés with other labels from the local wine store, but these two are our most consumed ones.  This is a “leftover” from last year and I want to consume these before dipping into my stash of 2012s.  This is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, 10% Carignan from Paso Robles.


Winery history

In the spirit of the great wine producers of the southern Rhone and the bodegas of Rioja and Priorat, blending is what Villa Creek does best.  The area’s finest Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Tempranillo Vineyards are just a stone’s throw from the west Paso Robles winery where these blends are lovingly produced by winemaker Cris Cherry and his wife JoAnn.


The grapes of the area’s most progressive vineyards, James Berry, Denner, Ohana and Booker, currently grace the wines of Villa Creek Cellars.  Per acre contracts insure that the fruit comes off the same blocks each vintage.  The Cherry’s own 70 acre estate on the west side of Paso Robles boasts elevations of 1400-1800 feet, calcareous soils, south facing slopes and ample water.  In the spring of 2012, the Cherry’s finished planting their first grape vines, 3.5 acres of Grenache.  They look forward to planting Mourvèdre and Carignan in the months to come.


Much more information is available on their website.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright salmon color with just a touch of a pink tint.  The fresh and relaxing nose has strawberries, white peaches, crushed stones, citrus zest, and some cherries.  This has light body, crisp acidity, and just a touch of lingering sweetness.  The palates features juicy fruit and minerals with lemon zest coming in on the back end.  The finish is long and full of sweet fruit and minerals with just enough citrusy acidity to leave your mouth watering for another sip.  (90 pts)

2011 Villa Creek Pink




2007 Carlisle Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard – $34.00


My comments

In my opinion, the Zinfandels Mike Officer makes from his “home vineyard” are always one of the top California zinfandels produced in just about every vintage.  This bottling always has that Carlisle richness and power but plenty of backbone to support the full bodied flavors.


Now that Carlisle has their own winery and won’t be using outside crush facilities, I look forward to even greater things coming from them in the upcoming years.


Winery history

We are a small Sonoma County winery specializing in the production of old-vine, vineyard designated zinfandels and red Rhone varieties (syrah, grenache, mourvèdre, and petite sirah).  While we like our wines to be bold, rich, and intensely flavored, each reflecting a sense of place, its origins in the vineyard, we also strive to create wines of balance, complexity, and perhaps most importantly, pleasure.


Rich.  Lusty.  Hedonistic.  These are some of the descriptors we often hear applied to our wines.  However, we also hear the words elegant, balanced, complex.  Yes, through hard work in the vineyard and winery, we believe you can have it all, the best of both worlds.  Our approach to winemaking is simple, yet difficult.  We prefer to intervene in nature’s process as little as possible but we will leave no stone unturned in our quest to maximize the quality of each wine we produce.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep ruby red color.  The enticing nose has brambly berries, black pepper, smoke, licorice, violets, a touch of earthiness, and a slight note of eucalyptus.  This is fairly full bodied with fairly solid ripe tannins and good acidity.  The finish is very long and flavorful.  This is in a prime drinking window but should last a few more years in the cellar.  (93 pts)

2007 Carlisle Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard




We’re finally getting some Spring like weather here in the upper Midwest.  It has been quite a while, so we decided to have some BBQ Chicken with potato salad and deviled eggs.


I don’t know about you, but this looked (and tasted) great to me.  Nothing fancy, but top not “comfort food” in my book.

BBQ Chicken





***** Shameless Self Promotion *****


Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.






Breaking news from Klout:






Wines bought or received this week


Worked at the local wine store and had to grab a few bottles.

(4) 2011 Wine By Joe Pinot Gris Really Good

(1) 2010 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County

(2) 2011 La Crema Pinot Noir

(1) 2011 Calera Pinot Noir




Remember to support your local wine store!




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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.