This is based on samples provided by the winery or organization acting on their behalf.



2007 Imagine Wine Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles

2007 Imagine Wine Syrah Winged Paradise Mountain Vineyard


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This is from an extra special online WineChat celebrating the release of a very limited wine, the 2007 Imagine Wine Syrah Winged Paradise Mountain Vineyard.  The wine was aged in oak for 6 years.  Ross Rankin, the owner, says the wine “is unique and one of a kind” in today’s “sell it quick” market.” The Syrah retails for $80 and only 246 cases were made.


This was a large scaled event with three prongs.  The first part was an in house tasting with food, music, dancing, and of course wine.  The second part of the release party was a Skype conference with Ross Ranking.  I participated in the third portion of the release party, and online #winechat tasting.



The Winery, in their words

Imagine Wine is a true boutique winery producing aromatic and delicious wines in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, near Santa Barbara, California.  Our wines are hand crafted by our winemaker, Ross Jay Rankin.  He entered the industry in the late 1990’s and early on he produced in a facility affectionately known by its many excellent winemakers as the “Lompoc Wine Ghetto.”  In 2008 he moved his craft to the “state-of-the-art” facility, Terravant, in Buellton.  Ross sources extraordinary grapes from the renowned vineyards of the California central coast.  His signature Paradise Mountain Syrah and Viognier are made exclusively from the highly sought after grapes of a unique vineyard in the eastern hills of Santa Barbara County.  Begun in 2004, Imagine Wine now has a complement of fine, limited production wines to suit any wine lovers’ tastes.  Our Tasting Room and Art Gallery opened in Fall 2009 in Santa Ynez where our followers may discuss winemaking (or the world’s dilemmas) with Ross or his wife, LynDee, over sips of Imagine Wine.


Much more information on the winery and their wines is available by clicking here.


The winery is also on Facebook and Twitter.




About Winechat

#winechat is a weekly, Twitter based discussion about something dealing with the world of wine.  Generally, each week’s chat deals with a specific theme and is lead by an “expert” in that area.  This is generally a nice way to learn about a region, winery, type of wine, etc.



What is #WineChat?  Click here to learn more.



How do you join #winechat? Using a tool such as Hootsuite, log into your twitter account & follow the #winechat stream. Be sure to include #winechat at the end of each tweet so everyone in the stream can see you!


Grab a glass and join in!


Click here for the current #winechat schedule.



#winechat is hosted by Protocol Wine Studio.  For more information on them, click here.




The line up for the event:

Imagine Wine tasting line up




2007 Imagine Wine Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles – SRP $39

This wine was supplied to “babysit” those of us who may have wanted to jump the gun and partake in the Winged Syrah before the official start of the event.


IMAGINE… 36 months in French, Hungarian, and American oak. Stunning aromas of licorice, vanilla, and leather with flavors of Blackberry and Raspberry. Medium tannins with a slight pleasant smokiness. 200 cases produced


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep garnet color.  The very inviting nose has cassis, dried herbs, tobacco, cedar, warm baking spices, and a touch of dark bittersweet chocolate.  This has medium to full body, moderate ripe tannins and nice acidity.  On the palate this wine has rich cassis and spice up front with dried herbs coming in on the back end.  The finish has very nice length with a bit of dark chocolate adding some complexity.  (91 pts)

2007 Imagine Wine Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles

2007 Imagine Wine Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles



2007 Imagine Wine Syrah Winged Paradise Mountain Vineyard – SRP $80

This is 100% Syrah that was aged 65 months in 30% to 40% new oak: 70% French, 25% Hungarian, and 5% American.


246 cases were produced.


The wine has 16.0% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep garnet color.  The very open and inviting nose has blackberries, blueberries, dried herbs, Asian spices, dark chocolate, minerals, freshly ground espresso, smoke, and black olive.  This has a full body, moderate ripe tannins and good acidity.  Rich and plush on the palate loaded with crushed berries, spice, minerals, dark chocolate and espresso.  Thais had a long finish with dried herbs and white pepper adding even more complexity but it does show some alcoholic heat.  (93 pts)


This was much more than a novelty act; this was a top notch wine but not one for everyone.  During the event, while discussing the price, I think I aptly used Saxum as a reference point.  After so much time in oak, the wine was a bit slow to fully unwind and was in a constant state of change.  If you have a bottle or buy some, I would strongly encourage following the winery’s recommendation of serving between 60 and 65 degrees and give it at least an hour of air.  Personally, I wouldn’t recommend stashing it in your cellar, open your bottle over the upcoming holiday season and enjoy.

2007 Imagine Wine Syrah Winged Paradise Mountain Vineyard

2007 Imagine Wine Syrah Winged Paradise Mountain Vineyard



Napa Valley Film Festival

Are you interested in attending the Napa Valley Film Festival?  The festival runs from November 13 through 17.


Oh, almost forgot, how does attending the event for free sound?  To celebrate being a sponsor of the event, Benchmark Wine Group is giving away a very nice package to one lucky person.  Enter by October 31st for your chance to win.


The Napa-based company is offering one lucky winner two Festival Passes to the Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF), worth a $500 value; two private invitations to the Benchmark Opening Night VIP kick-off party; and exclusive access to the sneak preview screening of ‘August: Osage County’, starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.


Benchmark Wine Group will be hosting an exclusive Opening Night VIP kick-off party on Wednesday, November 13 and a winemaker tasting with Todd Alexander of Bryant and Bettina on Friday, November 15.  NVFF Patrons and special guests will be invited to join Benchmark Wine Group at the Michael Holmes Gallery at Riverfront, 606 Main Street, from 8 pm to 10 pm Wednesday to launch the week’s festivities.  Every guest Wednesday will be entered into a raffle for a chance to buy a bottle of 2001 Château Haut-Brion for $1; taste magnums of 1983 Pétrus, 1966 Château Margaux, and 2003 Diamond Creek; and enjoy food catered by Morimoto Napa.


For more information, click here.


To view the official rules and to enter, click here.


A video about the event from my bud, Amy Payne, is available by clicking here.




Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.


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This is original to  Copyright 2013 Cliff’s Wine Picks.

All rights reserved.




***** 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.




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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  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.