As we head towards Halloween, we are also preparing for a special Lunar experience on the 31st. It will be a Blue Moon. It’s called a Blue Moon because it’ll be the second of two full moons to occur in a single calendar month. The first was on the 1st of October.
We wanted to do something special for Halloween weekend, and decided to mix it up a bit and have a special tasting with one of our favorite wineries, Lapis Luna. Lapis Luna translates to “stone” and “moon.” Their labels bring to life 400 year old Copperplate engravings to depict the relationship between the earth (stone), the moon (luna), and the affect she has on us. On their label, the heroes are depicted striving to connect with the moon and looking to it for inspiration, just as they do when creating their wines.
We have picked five of their wines to choose from and enjoy over the Halloween weekend. And if you desire, join us on Sunday evening at 6pm for a 90-minute tasting event with the owners of Lapis Luna.
Orange zest, ripe pineapple, toast and vanilla on the nose. Full-bodied, fresh and lively, with lush white peach and ripe apple flavors leading to a savory buttered finish.
Ripe red cherries, boysenberries, purple flowers and nice spices. The palate is juicy, smooth, polished and delicious.
Layers and layers of crushed blackberries underlined with spice: purple flowers, ripe red fruits, dark and brooding, faint cloves and sage. Juicy and round with lush, supportive tannins, the finish lingers long into a promising future.
Medium body Cabernet Sauvignon with bold fruit flavors and smooth, structured tannins. It has aromas of, cassis berries, plum, slight blueberry, vanilla, oak and chocolate. It is a fruit forward wine with lush flavors, nice balance and a long, silky finish.
Rich, dark and enticing. Flavors of lush blueberry, plumbs, and blackberry cobbler. Finish is smooth, long, and juicy.
All these wines are specially priced through this week for this tasting event. Purchase two, or all five of the wines, and plan to join us at 6pm on Sunday November 1st for an interactive session with the owners, and brothers, Evan and Andrew Nelson.
Established in 1999, Lapis Luna produces exceptional value wines from undiscovered California vineyards. Each label is a rendition of a 400 year old copperplate engraving showing a faceless hero reaching for the moon.
“We are dedicated to producing wines that over-deliver in quality and price point. Since 1999, we have grown long term relationships with established growers throughout Lodi and the North Coast. Our wines deliver fresh and vibrant fruit balanced with lively acidity and good structure, creating true-to-varietal expressions that can be enjoyed every night of the week.”
You may purchase your wines online or stop by the bar and place your orders in person. We will have the wine shipped to the bar on Thursday the 29th for pick up that evening or over the weekend prior to the 6pm Zoom Session on Sunday, November 1st.
And yes, for those of you who are thinking, “the Cowboys play at 7:30”. We will wrap up in time for you to turn your attention to the game.
This month we are looking at wines, and more specifically unique varietals, in which we either have a small representation of that varietal, or we currently do not offer at all in the bar.
Not a club member? You may also order a tasting for you to enjoy. We will pour you 2 ounces of each wine to enjoy.
Call ahead to have your tasting prepared for you to pick up at Steve's Wine Bar - 940-514-1852
Most wine-drinkers, at some point in their lives, have likely had a bottle of Côtes du Rhône they found at a grocery or box store. What does it mean? And why are there such huge price-differences for bottles that look identical? Like many confusing wine terms, there are layers of meaning with the Côtes du Rhône label. It’s a region, or group of regions, in Southern Rhone that operate on different levels of classification (Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages, and Côtes du Rhône Village (Named)). The bottom level accounts for roughly 50% of wine production for the entire Rhone Valley, and are generally red blends based on Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre (Hence the origin of the GSM label). Though white blends are often found in the more exclusive crus in Rhone, you can find some awesome values in the Côtes du Rhône level, such as the Domaine La Lyre! This easy-drinking white is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Ugni Blanc (the primary grape in cognac), and Viognier. It pours a pale yellow with green hue, offering notes of green pear, lemon, and citrus peel mixed with floral notes on the nose. The palate is juicy, fruity, and fresh, enveloped in a light-medium texture with pleasant acidity. This will go well with grilled seafood, or white meats with a creamy aspect.
Fun fact: Did you know that Carmenere is technically a minor Bordeaux variety, sitting in the same crowd as Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot? Many of the currently planted vines in Chile were thought to be Merlot until they were genetically tested in the mid-20th century, revealing them to be the long-forgotten Carmenere. Speaking of Carmenere, it has been a MINUTE since we have featured one here at the wine bar, so we have brought a fun, approachable version for everyone to enjoy! The Root 1 Carmenere pours a rich ruby with noted purple hues. The nose offers quintessential notes of wet earth, leather, and hints of fruit. The nose is subverted by the palate; offering a fresh, plush medley of blue and red fruits accented by vanilla, black pepper, and a host of other spices. The combination of savory nose, plush palate, and supple tannins suggests something rich in umami, like a dish centered around mushrooms, pancetta, or bacon.
Vina Chocolan is a familiar sight at Steve’s, as we have featured a number of their Carmeneres in addition to a few of their red blends. This time, we are featuring their Merlot, which perfectly exemplifies how the Chilean terroir influences Bordeaux varieties. This Merlot is blended with small percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, and is aged in 33% new French oak. This is likely a more savory version of Merlot in comparison to other New World examples. The nose offers notes of plum, baking spice, and cassis cut with slightly spicy notes of oak. The palate is fresh, juicy, and accented by surprisingly bright acidity and supple tannins. This is very versatile as a food wine, and should go with a plethora of earthy dishes (think mushroom risotto).
Woah. Three Chilean bottles in a row? Yup. The stars aligned for a Chile-Centric gold tasting; and what an opportunity to see just how varied the viticultural scene is! While generally, and falsely, seen as a ‘cheap’ wine region, Chile has rapidly become a haven for lovers of intensely-juicy, fruit-forward reds; from their take on traditional Bordeaux to their embrace and enhancement of the least known Bordeaux variety, Carmenere! The Toro de Piedra is no different, bringing two notoriously bold varieties together in a well-woven package. This roughly equal blend of the two is aged for 12 months in a combination of French and American oak. It pours a striking ruby with purple hues. The nose offers a decadent blend of cherry, raspberry, coffee grounds, and black pepper. The palate is supported by a heavy body, encompassing a core of fresh, juicy red fruits accented by notes of vanilla and nutmeg. Though steak would be served well by this wine, you might find it most at home with BBQ.
When you think of the primary varieties of Burgundy you likely think of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, maybe Gamay? But Aligoté is the one you will get to know this month. Generally treated as a cheap alternative to Chardonnay or used as an affordable blending grape in Crémant de Bourgogne, it displays a sleek, mineral-driven palate that has made it a cult favorite of Old World white-lovers. Rarely seen outside of Burgundy, it has found a home in the vineyards of renowned California Burgundy savant Jim Clendenen. This wine is unmistakably new world, with a medium gold color with white hues. 10 months in French Oak has imparted scents of cream, vanilla, and tropical fruits. The palate is laden with ripe apples, melon, and other rich tree fruits. To say this will just appeal to Chardonnay lovers would be doing it a disservice, this is a phenomenal wine for all to enjoy.
It’s taken some time, but we finally have Loire Cab Franc in, and your resident wine nerd is ecstatic! Not only that, but this one comes from some of the most sought-after land in the entire region. Most of the wines from this region are grown on a hill covered in limestone and sand, resembling something closer to Champagne than Sancere. The results are elegant wines, including nuanced reds such as this. This wine pours a striking cherry red. The nose offers notes of tart cherry, plum, with whiffs of black pepper and herbs. The palate featured plush plum and berry notes, with pronounced crushed-earth minerality and subtle tannins that give way to striking acidity. Though one could appreciate the complexity and excellence of this wine on its own, it would also go well with pork chops or a rich stew-like dish such as goulash.
The bar’s love for the Merlots of Washington is no secret at this point, as we have featured a plethora of stellar examples from North America’s own ‘Little Bordeaux.’ Continuing that trend, we bring you Milbrandt’s Estate Merlot, a Washington staple that eschews certain traditional aspects of Washington reds for something more approachable. Undergoing 26 months in primarily American oak, this ruby/purple colored wine offers aromas of vanilla, mocha, and cinnamon; backed by a plethora of red fruits. The palate offers rich layers of blue fruit, cassis, and the same vanilla accents, with chewy tannins and balanced acidity. This is the quintessential steak wine for the month.
Often overlooked for other Italian collector reds, Amarone della Valpolicella, or just ‘Amarone’, is among the most uniquely-produced wines for the world. Given the opportunity, we had to bring it in. Amarones are typically blends driven by Corvina, arguably the most important varietal in all of Veneto. Post harvest, the grapes are laid to dry on either small mats or boxes where the grapes slightly shrink and take on a raisin-esque appearance. This helps remove moisture and concentrates the phenolic compounds, including tannin, and flavors of the grape before they go through an extensive oak program ( 3 years in this instance!). The results are powerful, intense wines high in alcohol that are the true litmus test for ‘bold’ wine lovers. Our example pours a rich garnet with bricking on the outside. The nose offers rich aromas of baked earth, asian spices, and intense black fruit. The palate truly embraces the ‘macerated cherry’ note, with subtle notes of spirits, red fruit, savory spices, and underlying vanilla from the oak. This is a bold, intense wine, and deserves something of equal richness; think foie gras, duck, or braised red meats.
Talk about a grape that gets a bad rap. Gewurztraminer has been tragically lumped into the ‘ I don’t drink sweet wine’ category, and it’s a shame. Thankfully, we have an example from its most famous home, Alsace, to show what this grape is truly capable of! Not so much sweet, as off-dry, Alsatian Gewurztraminer is famous for mineral/acid-driven profiles with fruit notes of lychee, peach, and asian pear. There is truly nothing like it. This example by Gustave Lorentz is a fantastic example, and is featured as a sort of ‘bonus’ wine for the month. Whether you have this in between your tastings, after the whole thing, or as its own experience, I implore you to give this phenomenal wine a chance.
* Platinum Club Members - please taste your white wine (#5) first and then the Gold Club white (#1) for your tasting order.
Buy two bottles of these featured wines or ONE of the Oracle, and you will receive a link to the Zoom Event to join us for this special tasting.
Miner is a dynamic family-owned winery tucked along the eastern hills of the Oakville appellation in the heart of Napa Valley. Founded in 1998 by Dave and Emily Miner, Miner Family Winery crafts reserve-style wines by sourcing fruit from Napa Valley and other specially selected California vineyards .
Things all began for Dave Miner following a number of years spent working in the software industry. Dave got his start in wine in 1993 as President of Oakville Ranch Vineyards, owned by his late uncle, Robert Miner. Having spent years as an enthusiastic wine consumer and collector, Dave had a natural affinity for the business.
Emily Miner, a Minnesota transplant and graduate of Santa Clara University joined Oakville Ranch as the Tasting Room Manager. It was there Dave and Emily met and fell in love.
Over the years they have sought and secured a number of California’s finest vineyard sites, but only those allowing complete farming control. It is this level of detail and control, from vine to wine, that ensures a wine’s consistency and quality. The relationships with these owners and farmers are paramount to all that they do.
Each wine at Miner is crafted in a style to encapsulate the distinctive elements and the indelible fingerprints of their respective vineyards.
Our featured speaker is Mike Steffel. Born and raised in Minnesota Mike has spent over 20 years in the Wine Business. Before joining Miner Family WInes, he worked for a number of national distributors along with managing two estate wineries. The two other wineries were O'Shaughnessy Estate Winery on Howell Mountain and Domaine Serene in Oregon.
A few of the vineyards that are part of or influences the featured wines include:
Stagecoach Vineyard: is one of the most ambitious vineyard developments to date. Situated upon a stagecoach trail from the 1800s, this 800-acre vineyard was planted around enormous rocks and boulders atop the eastern hills of Napa Valley. At nearly 1,500 feet above the valley floor, this vineyard consistently produces bold, age-worthy wines from it’s famously red, rocky, volcanic soils.
Gary’s Vineyard: Located inland from Monterey in the Santa Lucia Highlands, Garys’ Vineyard is widely recognized for producing some of the finest Pinot Noir in California. Named after partners Gary Franscioni and Gary Pisoni, the vineyard was planted in 1996 using obtained budwood from a famed vineyard in Burgundy
Genny’s Vineyard: owned by the Garvey family and named after matriarch Genevive (“Genny”), is located in the cooler Carneros region of Napa Valley and is planted to three different clones (Robert Young, 76, and 96) of Chardonnay.
The various styles of wine Miner Vineyard’s creates include Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone and a little Italian. The wines we are featuring for this tasting include:
Napa Valley Chardonnay: Sourced from select low-yielding vineyards in Napa Valley, our Chardonnay is characterized by crisp apple, ripe melon and citrus flavors, gently balanced with toasty French oak. Our winemaker uses malolactic fermentation in moderation to retain the wine’s bright acidity. More than a decade after our Chardonnay put us on the map, this wine remains a classic.
Pinot Noir, Gary’s Vineyard: This 50-acre vineyard was planted in 1995 by friends and growers Gary Franscioni and Gary Pisoni along the terraces of the Santa Lucia mountain range, overlooking the Salinas River Valley. With plenty of lovely, rich tannins, this Pinot offers up flavors of dark red fruit, subtle oak, nutmeg-clove spice. Aged for 14 months in French Oak.
Emily’s Cabernet: Emily’s is their eponymous offering in remembrance of Emily Miner, co-founder of Miner Family Winery. This blend is as expressive and elegant as our muse.
Emily is honored by the crafting a decadent and rich wine layered with aromas of black fruit and hints of mocha, espresso and toasted oak. Truly iconic Napa Valley for a truly iconic woman.
Merlot, Stagecoach Vineyard: Challenged by the rocky volcanic soils of this mountainous vineyard site, the vines at Stagecoach produce fruit of extraordinary quality and intensity. This meticulously farmed property is hand-picked according to our winemaker Stacy Vogel’s specifications. Loaded with rich ripe fruit and spice notes with touches of toasty oak, our Merlot has a nice grip from fine tannins on the lengthy finish.
The Oracle: The Oracle is an exceptionally balanced, full-bodied red blend made from grapes grown at Stagecoach Vineyard in the eastern hills of Napa Valley. In Greek mythology, the oracle was a source of inspiration and revelation. We hope that you will find the answers to life’s most compelling questions while enjoying The Oracle with friends and family.
As always, the plan for our virtual tasting is for you to buy some of the featured wines to join in the Zoom Tasting on the 24th.
Typically the minimum is a two bottle buy, but this time around, we have a couple of higher end wines and if you would like to purchase a single bottle of the Oracle, we will include you in the tasting event.
Trust us, you will love these wines and we hope that you will be part of this special tasting.
Pre-orders are being done now and we will take orders online or in the bar up through Tuesday. We will place the order with the distributor for delivery on Wednesday the 23rd for pick up prior to the tasting event on Thursday evening.
We have a fun opportunity with an Italian Brunello from Castello Banfi from Tuscany which hits all of the marks.
Highly rated by several experts including James Suckling, Wine Spectator, and Wine Advocate.
Ready to drink today, but also ready for you to lay down for years to come to improve flavor as well as the potential price of the bottle. Imagine laying this special wine down for a few years and pulling a bottle from your collection to share with friends, or to have as part of a special meal with your loved ones.
We have several options for you to consider if you would like to grab a few bottles to enjoy at home.
Check our this brief video, feel free to pause the video to read more about the wine and the winery.
We are doing a pre-buy on the wine.
Order a single bottle of wine or a multi-bottle pack:
You can buy online at /Our-Wines-and-Products/Red or stop by the bar and order your wines in person. We will combine all the orders and send it to the distributor for delivery on September 29th for you to pick up at the bar.
*For our wine club members, your standard discounts apply on all options, including the multi-bottle packs.
Don’t delay and get your order in ASAP to take advantage of this special purchase.
About the wine:
Grape Variety: 100% Sangiovese, select clones.
Production Technique: A meticulous grape selection is followed by vinification with skin contact for 10-12 days. Released in the 5th year after harvest, the wine is aged for a minimum of 4 years, including 2 years in oak barrels of various sizes, mainly French oak barriques and partly in Slavonian oak casks.
Perfect with red meats, wild game and aged cheeses.
About the Winery:
Banfi was founded in 1978 thanks to the will of the Italian-American brothers, John and Harry Mariani.
Positioned at the confluence of the Orcia and Ombrone rivers, the Banfi estate extends along the southern slopes of the township of Montalcino across 7,100 acres of land; one third of the property is under specialized vine and the balance is shared between olive groves, wheat fields, plum trees, truffle stands, forest and scrub.
From the beginning, the goal of the two brothers was to create a state-of-the-art winery combined with the most advanced science in the vineyards for the production of premium wines.
Together with the Mariani family, Ezio Rivella, one of Italy's foremost enologists, who understood that due to the richness of the soils and the privileged microclimatic position, the property would have great capacity of development.
Since the beginning, the Castello Banfi wines achieved outstanding accolades from the most acclaimed wine writers and opinion leaders from all over the world.
Our in-house wine specialist Brian, has taken a leading role in learning and sharing information about our wines and specials. You likely see his daily posts on Facebook and the videos we have done to help our customers choose the right wines during this time of limited service.
The Concierge Service entails the following:
*This does not include the current months wine club wines.
Our hope is to offer you a fun and informative experience when considering all the wine options we have here at Steve’s.
We are offering this special service on Tuesday and Sunday. This is a reservation program so please call in to set your time to meet with Brian. If need be, to work with our customers schedules on Tuesday and Sunday, we will stay open a bit later based on reservations for the day.
Call our main number at 940-514-1852 to reserve your time.
The “Blind-Tasting Challenge” is back for September. In the past when we have done this, it has always been very well-received. It’s a fun exercise in allowing your senses do the decision making rather than the label, region, or varietal, to pick your favorite wines.
This month we are doing the Old World VS New World.
We have four wines on each club. Both clubs have a mix of old world and new world wines. Your challenge is to pick which wines are from which world.
We have 4 varietals on each club: Pinot Grigio/Gris, Chardonnay, Garnacha/Grenache, and Cabernet.
Platinum Club members of course will taste all 8 wines. You will have the chance to not only choose which of your four wines are old or new world, but you will be able to compare the varietal on which is old or new world.
Gold Club members have four different wines to taste and pick which is which. If you would like to take on the varietal challenge as well, you can add on the platinum tasting for just $10 a person.
When you pick up your tasting, we will give you a sheet to use to select if the wine is old world or new world. Return that when you come in to pick up your bottles and you can see how well you did.
NOT A CLUB MEMBER? Join today online and come and be part of the challenge. Or you can also simply purchase a tasting for you to pick up and enjoy at home or on our patio. Gold Club Tastings are $15 a person, Platinum Club Tastings are $20 a person, OR do both for $30 a person. You can stop in and ask to purchase a tasting to-go, or have the server help get you signed up for the club.
We look forward to having you join us in this challenge and look forward to seeing you soon!
Among the most respected regions in the world of cold-climate Chardonnay, Chablis produces maybe the hyperbolic examples of the style. This section of Burgundy is responsible for producing clean, lean versions of Chardonnay that stand in stark contrast to the heavily-oaked, rich examples produced here in the US. This is a quintessential example of the style. On the nose, look for aromas of lemon peel, crisp green apple, and flinty minerality. On the palate, see if you find the vein of salinity intertwined within the crisp tree fruit character supplemented by notable acidity and minerality.
Argentina is probably not the first place you would think of when it comes to Chardonnay. It is far from the most-planted white variety in the country, and rarely finds its way to the US market unless it is distributed by larger brands or one connected to a prominent domestic brand (Think Felino of the Paul Hobbs portfolio). This is not to speak ill of its quality, however, as Argentinian Chardonnay is a treat and will appeal to fans of other new world styles. In this example look for aromas of baked apple, ripe pear, and butter, with notes of vanilla, creme brulee, and ripe tree and stone fruits on the palate.
Italian Pinot Grigio is most often sourced from the Northeastern region of Alto Adige; one of Italy’s cooler climates that turns out crisp, mineral-driven interpretations. When sourced from a hotter region such as Tuscany, however, Pinot Gris usually displays a fruitier, riper character. In this example look for aromas of apricot and melon and notes of pear, stone fruit, honey, and cream on the palate.
Anderson Valley is known as one of the premier areas for Pinot Noir and Sparkling Wines in California, housing the wineries of many Champagne’s most prominent houses such as Louis Roederer’s (Cristal, Champagne Deutz) Roederer Estate and Scharffenberger. It would make sense then that cool-climate friendly grapes such as Pinot Gris would thrive in this cool, coastal climate. Take note of the aromas of stone and citrus fruits mixed with fresh lemongrass and the palate laden with lime zest, apricot, pear and subtle notes of beeswax supplemented by well-integrated acidity and minerality.
When we think of Rhone Varietals from California, we generally think of the regions that housed the initial ‘Rhone Rangers’ effort such as Santa Barbara (Bonny Doon, etc) and Paso Robles (Tablas Creek, etc.). They have found their way all over the state, as there are plantings of Grenache from the South Coast AVA’s all the way to Lake County. This example is from the larger Sierra Foothills region; an area primarily known for Zinfandel, but one that is expanding its wine repertoire. In this example look for aromas of nutmeg, cinnamon, and star anise playing with robust dark red fruits. On the palate, look for rich black cherry, blueberry, vanilla, and spicy smoky mesquite.
Standing in stark contrast to the Grenaches of Rhone and even the New World, Spanish Garnacha is like if wine was a ‘warm blanket.’ Due to its Mediterranean climate, Garnacha’s tend to display heightened notes of tertiary notes such as spices and oak influence. They can be manipulated greatly during the winemaking process, and use a wide variety of oak programs to yield different levels of richness or approachability. In this example, look for notes of five spice and reduced raspberry on the nose, with notes of rich plum, baking spices, and vanilla supplemented by firm tannins and lip-smacking acidity.
IIf you have had Italian Cabernet Sauvignon, it likely has been sourced from Tuscany, which has built its reputation with its approachable and legendary Super Tuscan blends. However, the variety is planted in select amounts all over Italy, with one of the more recent and prominent examples being Puglia. This region is located on the ‘heel’ of the boot that is Italy, and experiences a warm, Oceanic climate. This weather makes for reds with restrained tannins, moderate acidity, and fresh, lively fruit flavors. In this example, look for notes of black cherry, raspberry, and spicebox notes such as anise, and cinnamon on both the nose and palate.
We have long loved Cabs from this Central Coast region of California. The status of Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles has seen a meteoric rise in popularity in recent years, and can be found just about everywhere at a wide variety of price points. Cab’s from this area are often excellent examples of how very hot climates interact with late-ripening varieties. In this example, look for aromas of macerated blueberries, reduced black cherries, and black peppercorn and notes of dark red fruits, five-spice, and rich vanilla on the palate.
Opolo’s estate vineyards were established in 1995, with sites on both the west and east side of Paso Robles. The topographically diverse, coastal landscape of the westside vineyards provides for an intense and unique flavor profile. The heat and dryness of the east side vineyard make it an ideal microclimate for growing Bordeaux varietals. Home to a wide range of varietals, the estate vineyards help allow the team at Opolo to create many unique single varietals as well as award winning blends.
Most important in making high quality wine is starting with high quality grapes. Opolo’s vineyard team carefully monitors each lot of grapes throughout the season in order to produce the highest quality fruit possible. From taking leaf, petiole, and soil samples, to monitoring water uptake in the vines, all aspects of viticulture is carefully notated and examined with the intent of producing only high quality fruit for our winery. The entire Opolo production team works together every year to provide the best quality product possible.
At Opolo we believe a strong, cooperative relationship with the land and our environment is crucial. We practice sustainable methods in both the winery and vineyard operations in order to preserve our environment, water and local wildlife. Opolo is a “SIP” Certified operation as well as certified organic by “CCOF” in our 64 acre walnut orchard. We continue to be great stewards of the land and invite you to come to our vineyards and see our operations!
Opolo Vineyards has a long established reputation of growing and producing award winning wines in Paso Robles, California. With nearly 300 acres of vines on the east and west side of Paso Robles, Opolo Vineyards is privy to a wide range in climate, soil and growing potential—allowing extensive range of varietals to flourish. This variety combined with the passion behind the brand has made Opolo a favorite of wine enthusiasts everywhere.
(Click on each wine to learn more about the wine and pricing)
A proud native of Chicago, IL. Jeff Faber grew up on the North Side of the city and moved to California in 1993. He spent many years in Broadcasting working behind the microphone for CBS and ABC radio before launching his own start-up company. Like so many people whose breath is taken away when they visit the California Central Coast, Jeff fell in love with the area and quickly learned that almost everyone you know either owns or a winery or an olive oil ranch.
"The most beautiful part about this area is how willing everyone is to share their knowledge of their craft. You work a few harvests, turn off your cell phones and lose yourself in the magic. You literally feel yourself decompress. What compelled Jeff to give up his company and start working for Opolo was that he wanted to learn the business from the ground up. “I literally knew very little about wine and wanted to stomp grapes, pour yeast into the tanks, experiment with blends, see the effect dry farming has on the flavor of grapes, etc"…At Opolo, they encourage you to do everything which is the very best way to learn a skill set.
For the past 12 years, Jeff has been the National Sales Manager for Opolo meeting people in city after city acting as a full-time “palate hunter” and helping folks have fun and learn a little more about themselves and of course, wine!
We find ourselves in another month of business to-go here at Steve's Wine Bar. As we have done over the last three months, we have been sending our monthly wine tastings with our club members to enjoy at home and then pick their favorite wine from their tasting. This month we decided to create a menu that pairs with each of these wines you will be enjoying. You may want to craft your meal at home with our recipe's for a four course meal, or pick up a meal from our partner this month, Chestnut Tree on the Square. Our friend Suzanne Johnson will be putting together the meals for you take home and simply pop in the oven to finish the process in your kitchen. You will then be able to taste your wines with each course to make your decision on your favorite wines.
The process is simple; you will see we have once again 4 wines on each club level. Each course will pair with the corresponding menu item.
You may request the recipes for these items by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call the Chestnut Tree, or order online, ahead of time, and they will prepare the meal to pick up in advance of you stopping by Steve's to pick up your tasting.
Riesling outside of France and Germany (and recently Australia) has earned a pervasive, but unfair, reputation as overly ripe and sweet. This could not be further from the truth, as many winegrowing regions from Washington to Oregon to New York are producing balanced, complex versions of this oft-misunderstood grape. An excellent example of this is Januik’s 2017 Bacchus Vineyard Riesling. It pours a light to medium gold color with white hues. The nose is complex, offering honeycrisp apple, peach, and bready notes with the slightest hint of petrol. The palate is layered with notes of ginger, honey, apple, apricot, and sleek minerality. This is easily enjoyable now, but has the acidity and structure to lay down for a year or two.
From the eternally versatile appellations of Languedoc, this vin gris displays some of the hallmark characteristics of ‘blush’-style wines from the regions and the grapes that compose them. A blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan,This wine pours a pale pink/pale copper with shimmering white hues. The nose offers a whimsical blend of red berries, minerality, and the slightest hint of cotton candy. The palate offers a slightly-heavier-than light body enveloping fresh cherry, raspberry, and pomegranate cut by sleek minerality and zingy acidity.
Oregon has firmly established itself as the New World benchmark for cold climate Pinot Noir; a title that stretches across all price points. Among the newer entries into the winegrowing scene in the Willamette Valley is Portlandia, a multi-AVA-focused (Dundee Hills, Mcminnville, and Yamhill-Carlton) winery with an emphasis on Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Their 2018 is a lovely combination of Oregon’s quintessential fruit profiles and an approachability akin to the heavier-bodied pinots of Napa and Sonoma. It pours a rich ruby with subtle purple hues. The nose is a rich medley of red fruits including raspberry, black cherry, and rhubarb. The palate offers these fruits cut with subtle notes of five-spice and earthiness woven within a lush body with balanced acidity.
An underdog in the seemingly endless list of food-friendly Italian wines, Montepulciano is often overlooked for its Sangiovese-based counterparts. This is in spite of the fact that it is the second highest planted red grape in Italy. It most often finds its home in Abruzzo, a sizable region East of Rome that runs along the Adriatic coastline. This particular version goes through a rigorous vinification process before release; aging in oak and bottle. It pours a rich ruby with garnet hues and offers a nose of bittersweet chocolate, plum, dried cherry, and vanilla. The palate is rich with notes of plum, tart cherry, and slight hints of savory spice. The tannins are soft and well-integrated and the acidity prevents the overall rich profile from becoming too heavy.
Old World-purists rejoice! Burgundy has reached the wine club! This rendition comes from the premier cru of Vaillons, located near the actual town of Chablis. This uber-savory rendition of Chardonnay will challenge the way you think of the grape. It pours a light gold with green hues. The nose offers a crisp combination of pear, apple, and slight vegetal tinges (Think hay or lemongrass). The palate offers the quintessential slate-like minerality associated with Chablis that cuts through a juicy core of stone fruit and citrus; all accented by bright acidity.
After a brief hiatus, Provence is back on the wine list. Pandemic or not, this region still reigns supreme in rose production; attracting the attention and investment of movie stars and musicians alike. Mirabeau en Provence’s ‘ Classic’ version embraces the beautiful simplicity that has made this region famous. The 2019 vintage pours a brilliant pink color with white hues, offering notes of cherry, raspberry, and tart red currant on the nose cut by a subtle smokiness. The palate doubles down on the cherry and other red fruits with hints of minerality and blowing acidity.
It seems somewhat of a misnomer to call any part of California practically ‘cold-climate’, but the Pinots and Chardonnays from Southern Sonoma and Napa would beg to differ. Pinot from the Russian River Valley AVA and its sub-AVA’s in particular are among the most critically acclaimed in the world of cold-climate Pinot Noir. Sebastopol Hill’s (located towards the southern end of the region) 2017 vintage of their RRV-sourced Pinot Noir embraces the requisite characteristics wholeheartedly. The wine pours a beautiful ruby to pale ruby, and offers notes of bing cherry, fresh vanilla, and savory leather. The palate offers a core of red fruit accented by orange peel, cola, and savory herbaceousness. This is all brought into balance by subtle minerality, balanced acidity, and silky tannins.
Paso Robles has long been one of the more heralded regions for Zinfandel growth in CA (Makes sense as it is the region’s heritage grape!). Though the market focus of the region may currently be on rich, ripe Cabernets, the Zin’s have character and prestige all their own. Opolo’s 2018 ‘Mountain’ Zinfandel displays the balance of power and nuance that has come to characterize Zinfandels from the central coast. This wine pours an inviting ruby color with rich purple hues. The nose offers rich blue and dark red fruits accented by floral notes, black pepper, and subtle mesquite. The palate is HUGE, with the fruit retained from the nose accented and perfumed by the 15.5 ABV while still offering subtle woody and peppery notes. The tannins are silky-smooth and the acidity holds everything in balance.
Reddy Vineyards was founded in 1997 by acclaimed viticulturist Dr. Vijay Reddy. His vast expertise in both soil chemistry and farming led him to plant grapes along with other pioneering farmers in the Texas High Plains. His passion for the vineyard turned into a lifetime pursuit to perfect and cultivate fine wine grapes from this unique growing region. Dr. Reddy’s son Akhil launched the first Reddy Vineyards 100% authentic estate-grown and bottled wines in 2019.
The Texas High Plains American Vitcultural Appellation was established in 1993 in the West Texas High Plains. The region is the foundation of Texas winegrowing, including more than 8 million acres and encompassing 22 counties. The region’s major cities include Lubbock, Brownfield and Amarillo. 85% of the wines made in Texas come from the Texas High Plains AVA.
Reddy Vineyards winery is located in Brownfield, Texas, just outside of Lubbock in the Texas High Plains. State-of-the-art equipment is configured to produce high-quality fine wines. Reddy uses a super-efficient Pellenc harvester that picks and destems the clusters and sorts the fruit right in the vineyard, saving fuel and personnel hours while delivering very high-quality fruit and eliminating the need for a sorting table and separate de-stemmer. The winery is fitted with stainless steel tanks including small lot two-ton fermenters, and single bins for micro fermentations, hand punch downs and pumpovers provide winemaking options for the diversity in the vineyard. All tanks are temperature controlled for heating and chilling. The wines are pressed with a bladder press and is moved to barrel by pumps. The winery is also equipped with its own lab.
Reddy Vineyards has the pick of the best fruit from the vineyard giving its winemakers a fantastic selection to create blended and single-varietal wines. The Reddy Family decided to focus on what its vineyards and Texas can do best—warm-climate varietals expertly crafted and blended to showcase richness, forward fruit, body and succulent soft tannins in the red wines, and clean varietal character in the white wines.
As in our previous tastings, simply do an advance purchase on two or more of these featured wines and you will be invited to join us on the Zoom call with Eric Sigmund from Reddy Vineyard. Pick up at the bar prior to the tasting on the 16th.
Or simply stop in and pick up a few in person.
Eric Sigmund’s path to wine came somewhat unexpectedly and at the expense of a lucrative career he spent years training for. Three years out of law school, working in international law in Washington DC, he took a weekend job at Total Wine & More stocking shelves and hand-selling wine to help pay off his student loans. As a law career began to look less and less fulfilling, he made a dramatic shift and took a full-time job at Total as a sales associate at one of the chain’s largest stores. He eventually became a supervisor, then wine manager for the company’s flagship store in Maryland where he was handling foundational wine training for 30 sales associates, overseeing 70 staff members and managing 50 million in annual sales. He was promoted again to the corporate office where he built partner relationships and import agreements with wineries in Europe as the assistant French fine wine buyer.w
A friendly introduction from a law-school classmate who grew up with Akhil Reddy connected Eric with Reddy Vineyards as they planned to launch the estate-grown Reddy Vineyard wines and build a new state-of-the-art winery. With his extensive on-the-job wine experience, studies and mind for business and law, he was a good fit. In February 2019, he moved his family to Texas to work full-time with the Reddys.
Eric saw the potential of Reddy Vineyards before he moved to Texas, and since then he’s become even more bullish on the future of Texas wineries like Reddy who are steadfastly focused on raising the state’s quality and reputation as a fine wine producer dedicated to growing and producing 100% authentic Texas estate-grown wines. “One of the reasons I was really attracted to coming to Texas was that I believe Texas is on the verge of being a major national force in the wine industry,” he added. “I believe in 10-15 years Texas will be right up there with California, Oregon and Washington.”
As Chief Operating Officer, Eric’s responsibilities include “whatever it takes to run a winery— from soup to nuts,” he says. He helped build out the winery, was involved in winemaking, from blending and tasting trials to topping, racking and lab analysis of the first vintages of the Reddy Wines and he’s responsible for the winery’s legal, human resources, business planning, sales and distribution strategies.
Eric spends a lot of time tasting with both wine industry trade and consumers in the Dallas area to share the Reddy Vineyards wines along with his passionate belief in the future of Texas wines. He holds a Wine & Spirits Education Trust Advance Level certification, is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the American Society of Wine.
It’s been a while since we last hosted a virtual wine tasting here at Steve’s, so it’s about time to get another one on the calendar.
I’m excited to have one my favorite wineries from Washington for this next tasting event. Joining us will be Winemaker, Andrew Januik. We have been enjoying the Januik wines for many years, well before they were even distributed in retail or restaurants here in the Texas region. We first tasted the Januik wines while visiting friends in Houston and they raved about the wine. After drinking through a few bottles, when we arrived back home, we called up the winery and joined their wine club.
Andrew, the son of Mike Januik who started the winery, will be our featured speaker for this tasting event.
Mike and Carolyn Januik established Januik Winery in 1999. It was the realization of a dream that took hold in 1980 when the couple sold their Ashland, Oregon wine shop for Mike to study winemaking at UC Davis.
After graduation, the Januiks moved to Washington to be closer to family. California friends thought it was a risky move. Washington wines were largely unknown. But over the ensuing decades, Mike proved them wrong. He crushed his first grapes in Washington in 1984 and quickly developed a reputation for quality winemaking just as the state’s reputation for world-class wines began to take hold.
The Novelty Hill and Januik partnership began in 2000, shortly after Mike began consulting on the planting of the Alberg family’s Stillwater Creek Vineyard on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman Hills in Washington State’s Columbia Valley. Though an uncharted growing region at the time, Mike liked what the site offered and was intrigued by the Albergs’ interest in planting a diverse selection of clones. He encouraged the family to consider making wine from the site; they agreed, provided Mike serve as winemaker. Novelty Hill was born.
From the start, it has been a family-run operation. In the fall of 2009, Andrew Januik joined his dad in the cellar full-time. Today, he collaborates with Mike and winemaker Scott Moeller on all aspects of production in addition to crafting his own label, Andrew Januik Wines, launched in 2011.
2017 Bacchus Vineyard Riesling - at Januik Winery, they believe single vineyard wines should only be made when a particular site yields an exceptional wine that reflects the unique character of the vineyard. Bacchus Vineyard is located outside Pasco on a southwest facing slope which overlooks the Columbia River. Planted at Bacchus Vineyard are two of Germany’s best Riesling clones, Geisenheim 198 and Neustadt 90, from which our Riesling is made.
Bright and refreshing, the Bacchus Vineyard Riesling is brimming with apricot, peach and grapefruit flavors and aromas. Punctuated with mineral notes, the finish is crisp, balanced and lingering.
2017 Novelty Hill Chardonnay – Stillwater Creek Vineyard (Ten Vintage have been rated 90+)
91 pts. Wine Enthusiast, Editor’s Choice - “Beautifully balanced flavors.”
Round and generous, this barrel-fermented Chardonnay offers fresh pear and crisp apple aromas and flavors that echo across the palate and wrap around a rich, creamy finish. Sur lie aged for added mouthfeel and richness.
Novelty Hill’s Stillwater Creek estate vineyard is located on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman Hills in Washington State’s Columbia Valley. The fractured basalt found throughout the site imparts an appealing mineral character to Chardonnay planted here. Innovative clonal selection distinguishes the vineyard as well, including Entav clone 95, a relative newcomer to the Columbia Valley.
2017 Novelty Hill Royal Slope Red Blend
A delicious Merlot-based blend from top Columbia Valley vineyards
From Novelty Hill's Stillwater Creek estate vineyard and other top Columbia Valley sites comes this delicious, medium-bodied red. It is an aromatic wine with mouth-watering layers of wild berries, sweet cherry and black currant. Balanced and lively across the mid-palate, with a fresh, fruit-forward finish that lasts.
Blend: 46% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc
2017 Novelty Hill Syrah Columbia Valley - 91 pts. Jeb Dunnuck - "This is classic Syrah all the way."
A classic Washington State Syrah with aromas of coffee bean, smoked meat and dark fruit gaining focus on the palate. Wild blackberry, dark plum and savory notes of olive and black pepper are woven throughout, with refined tannins adding dimension across a long, flavorful finish.
Planted in 2000 on a steep, south-facing slope with one of the most elite grape clone selections in Washington State, Stillwater Creek quickly earned a reputation as one of the Columbia Valley’s top vineyards. Clones 1, 99, 174 and Joseph Phelps are grown here, making Stillwater Creek home to one of the most diverse Syrah clone selections in Washington.
2016 Januik Merlot Klipsun Vineyard - 90+ pts. 12 years running
Among the great vineyards of Washington State, Klipsun ranks right at the top. Wine & Spirits Magazine has named it one of the 25 greatest vineyards in the world. Located in the Red Mountain appellation, it produces wines with great power, depth, and concentration. The wines from this vineyard tend to be very long-lived.
An intensely dark ruby red color is followed by notes of raspberries, blackberries, and spice. On first impression, it becomes apparent that this wine is one that will age beautifully for many years to come. The nicely proportioned palate shows tremendous length as well as an abundance of spice and fruit as it evolves in the glass.
2016 Januik Cabernet Columbia Valley
98% Cabernet Sauvignon; 2% Merlot
This supple, bold Cabernet Sauvignon is loaded with red and black fruit flavors as well as plum, mocha and cedar notes in the nose. Its texture is quite refined and shows great structure across the palate, imparting a long, ample finish that was developed in part from the use of new French Oak barrels.