You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Cold Heaven’ tag.

Morgan Clendenen winemaker/owner of Cold Heaven

Morgan Clendenen winemaker/owner of Cold Heaven

When I think of Harvest Festival, I imagine there is an autumn chill in the air and I’m sipping red wines bundled up in a cozy sweater.  However, this year, the 20th year of the festival, we were in the midst of a late summer heat wave, so shorts and sandals were de rigueur.  This year there were over 115 different wineries represented at the festival.  Of the 115, there were many wonderful, familiar wines from Ampelos, Beckmen, Brander, Dragonette, Fiddlehead, Foxen, Margerum, Jaffurs, Tre Anelli, Stolpman, Ken Brown, Cold Heaven, Palmina, Qupé, being poured, so I a made point to seek out wines that I had not sampled before.

Bob Lindquist winemaker/owner of Qupe and his son Theo

Bob Lindquist winemaker/owner of Qupe and his son Theo

With far too many wines to sample everything, I had to really pick and choose carefully from the offerings.  Of the wines I tasted, there were a few real stands outs.  Jim Vogelzang was pouring an absolutely lovely ’06 Vogelzang Cabernet Sauvignon, but his superb 2009 Sauvignon Blanc was what took my breath away.  Jim took a few minutes to explain to me what they do differently.  Naturally, they start with great fruit – after all you cannot make an outstanding wine if you start with bad grapes.  Here is where it gets interesting.  After the grapes are picked; they are put on refrigerated trucks which are driven to Napa.   In Napa they delivered to renowned winemaker Robbie Meyer (of Versant, Jericho Canyon, Peirson Meyer and L’Angevin) who works his oenological magic.   Jim also let me know that for the Sauvignon Blanc, Meyer uses neutral French oak barrels that have been used for Chardonnay.   Another outstanding white was the unreleased ’09 Dragonette Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc which was heady with the aroma of honeysuckle and tasted of creamy lemon curd.  Yes, dear reader, I know I said I was going to avoid familiar labels, but this was an unreleased Sauvignon Blanc from Dragonette, so I had to bend my own rule.  It was less of a hard and fast rule and more of a guideline really, anyway.  😉

Dan Reeves of Reeves Ranch Vineyard

Dan Reeves of Reeves Ranch Vineyard

Even though it was a very warm day and white wines were helping me cool off, I did taste some wonderful reds at the festival.  I loved the 2006 Jalama Paradise Road Syrah, which is co-fermented with 3% Viognier in the classic French CôteRôtie style.  Young winemaker, Mark Cargasacchi is crafting some truly beautiful wines.  It runs in the family; Mark’s brother is making some outstanding wine too.  Speaking of Mark’s wines, he wasn’t pouring it at the festival, but his 2006 Jalama El Capitan is *really* worth getting your hands on (while you still can).  It is a red blend of 47% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre and 23% Cabernet.  He only made 92 cases of this rich beauty, and last time I checked they only had 8 cases left, so if you’re a fan of GSM blends, give the folks over at Jalama Wines a call: 805-735-8937 or go visit the new tasting room in the Lompoc.  Tell them that Anne from Wine Nation Underdog sent you.  You’ll thank me later after you’re tucking into your first glass.  Overall, my favorite Syrah of the festival was the 2008 Reeves Ranch Syrah.  I had heard of the name Reeves Ranch Vineyard because Kris Curran (winemaker/owner of Curran) made a Reeve’s Ranch Reserve Syrah from fruit from this vineyard a few vintages ago.  It was extraordinary, so naturally I had to go investigate the source of this outstanding fruit.  Boy was I in for a treat.   Dan Reeves poured me some of his 2008 Reeves Ranch Vineyard Syrah and I really enjoyed the well integrated flavors of coffee, mocha and spice.   Most of the fruit is from the estate which is located in the foothills above Los Olivos.  The vines which were originally planted in 1989, were grafted over to Australian and French Syrah clones (Shiraz clone 3, Estrella and Clone 99) in 1994.   The rest of the fruit is from Black Oak vineyard in Los Alamos.  Though the grapes from Reeves and Black Oak were fermented separately, it was eventually blended together and aged for 18 months in French oak, some of which was neutral.  After I tasted this wine, I thought it would be priced around $35 a bottle.  Are you ready for this?  The wine sells for $24 on the Reeves Ranch website and you get a discount if you order a case.  Don’t you love it when you find a great wine at a really good price?  I do!  If you are in the Central Coast area, you can taste this wine at Avant Tapas and Wine bar in Buellton.  It is also being poured by the glass at Los Olivos Café (in Los Olivos).  Don’t wait too long though, because they only make 400 cases a year.

Peter Stolpman of Stolpman Vineyards

Peter Stolpman of Stolpman Vineyards

There were lots of great events over the Harvest Festival weekend, including an open house at Au Bon Climat / Qupé winemaking facility.  There was also an open house event at Cold Heaven – as soon as I get my notes and snapshots organized I will post again.  Until then, let me leave you with this thought.  Those who abstain from alcohol die sooner than those who drink moderately (1 to 3 drinks per day)…as if you needed an excuse!

Danish cellar rats who are interning at Ampelos for the summer.

Danish visitors who are cellar ratting at Ampelos for the summer

The second annual Winehound Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting was an enormous success.  The selection of wines was staggering, the food was fabulous (wood fired pizzas from Flatbread) and the venue (the Fess Parker Doubletree) was far superior to last year’s event.   This year there were more than 125 wines from 50 different vintners.  The list is impressive to say the least:  Alma Rosa, Ampelos, Au Bon Climat, Autonom, Babcock, Beckmen, Brander, Ken Brown, Cargasacchi, Carhartt, Carr, Cent’Anni, Cimarone, Clos Pepe Estate, Cold Heaven, Costa de Oro, Demetria, Dragonette, Epiphany, Ethan, Flying Goat, Blair Fox, Happy Canyon Vineyard, Harrison-Clarke, Holus Bolus, Jaffurs, Jelly Roll, Jonata, Jorian Hill, Kaena, Kenneth-Crawford, Paul Lato, Lea, Longoria, Margerum Wine Company, Melville, Native9, Ojai, Fess Parker, Point Concepcio, Qupe, Rey, Samsara, Sanguis, Shai, Stolpman, Tensley, Tercero, The Paring, Tyler, Verdad, VIE, Vogelzang, Whitcraft.    With this many wines, I had to carefully pick and choose my way through the options.   Some of the wines were barrel samples, while many others were bottled, though unreleased.  Though I wasn’t able to taste everything, here is a list of the ones that really, really stood out for me :

Ampelos 2007 Rho Pinot Noir – cola, black cherries, earth, hint of vanilla.  465 cases produced.  Scheduled release late Spring 2011.

Ampelos 2007 Gamma Syrah – pepper, leather, dark berries, bacon.  655 cases produced.  Scheduled release Winter 2010.

Autonom 2007 Rhône Cuvee Central Coast – 55% Grenache, 36% Syrah, 9% Mourvèdre, black pepper, dark berries, meat, clove, mocha. 130 case produced.  Scheduled release Summer 2010.

Beckmen 2008 Syrah Purisima Mountain Vineyard – black fruits, fig, baking spices, bacon, mocha – next to my tasting notes I scribbled “this is a wine the critics will love”, I love it too.   400 cases produced.  Scheduled release Fall 2010

Clos Pepe 2009 Pinot Noir Estate – black cherry, cola, Dr. Pepper, cocoa – a blend of clones 665, 777, 513, Pommard.  1000 cases producedscheduled release Spring 2011.   Clos Pepe’s Wes Hagen was also pouring what he said was the “first ever sparkling wine from the Sta. Rita AVA” – a 2007 Brut Rosé, made by Norm Yost of Flying Goat Cellars.  Unfortunately my palate was blown out after so many fabulous reds…dang.

Ethan 2009 Grenache Blanc – heady nose of apple, melon and florals, good acid and minerality.  I was head over heels for this barrel sample – it was gorgeous – one of the top 5 wines I tasted at the event.  I spoke with winemaker Ethan Lindquist who indicated that this is the first time he made a Grenache Blanc.  With only 150 cases made, get it while you can when it is released.  Scheduled release Fall 2010.

Ethan 2009 Sangiovese – red cherry, garrigue, ripe strawberry, good acid.  Fabulous “food wine”.  150 cases produced.  Scheduled release Fall 2010.

Jaffurs 2008 Grenache – spice, tart cherry, chocolate covered raspberry, 50% Thompson Vineyard, 50% Stolpman (all Alban and Tablas clones).  390 cases produced.  Scheduled release late Summer 2010.

Jaffurs 2008 Syrah Larner Vineyard – heady and beautiful, blackberry, black pepper, mocha, allspice, super long finish.  340 cases produced.  Scheduled release late Summer 2010.

Kaena 2008 Grenache Larner Vineyard – bright and gorgeous with flavors of red raspberry, cranberry, leather, super long finish.  One of the top 5 wines I tasted at the event.  100 cases produced.  Scheduled release Winter 2010.

Kaena 2008 Hapa – 56% Syrah, 22% Grenache, 11% Mourvèdre, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon – blackberry, garrigue, cedar, clove.  Again, one of the top 5 wines I tasted at the event.  200 cases produced.  Scheduled release Winter 2010.

Rey 2007 Syrah – 10 % Grenache and a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon – blackberry, black pepper, mocha.  Wonderful wine for $20.  Available now – but only 100 cases produced so get it while you can!  NOTE:  Rey is a second label – the reserve label is De Su Propia Coshecha – if you see it buy it – your mouth will thank you.

Samsara 2008 Syrah Melville Vineyard – Unexpected nose of florals, black plum, black pepper,  earthy. Only 120 cases produced.   Scheduled release Fall 2010.

Samsara 2008 Syrah Ampelos Vineyard – Very integrated flavors for a 2008, black fruits, black pepper, garrigue and herbs.  Only 75 cases produced.  Scheduled release Fall 2010.  Anyone who reads this blog knows that Ampelos is a big favorite of mine; I love what Samsara’s winemaker Chad Melville has created with the wonderful Ampelos fruit.

Vogelzang 2008 Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard – Fiddlestix is a fabulous source of fruit in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, intense flavors of tart cherry, ripe raspberry and caramel, well integrated flavors for such a young wine.   Only 100 cases produced.  Scheduled release Spring 2011.

What a wonderful way to spend the day – I only wish that the event were spread over two days, so that I could taste *all* the wines.  Maybe next year?  Many thanks to Bob Wesley and his team from the Winehound for putting on such a fabulous event!

I’ve enjoyed Cold Heaven winemaker Morgan Clendenen’s Viogniers for many years.  I especially love a glass of her late harvest Viognier after dinner in lieu of dessert.   Jason and I stopped by to taste at the new Cold Heaven tasting room in Buellton the other day.   I’ve never seen a red wine from Cold Heaven, so I was thrilled to see that there was a Syrah, called Second Sin, at the end of the tasting menu.  We started with the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc ($20) which had a nose of white grapefruit, and florals.  Ripe tropical fruit, citrus and bright acidity – the result of stainless steel fermentation- linger on the palate.   This would be a fabulous wine to have with scallops or oysters.  The 2008 Le Bon Climat Vineyard Viognier ($33) was next on the list.   With a heady floral nose, flavors of guava and peach and a soft mouthfeel this is a gorgeous wine.   We then tasted a richer and more full bodied Viognier – the 2008 Sanford and Benedict Vineyard Viognier.  This had a beautiful nose of apricot and violets and well integrated flavors and a sweet, lingering finish.  Next up was the 2008 Vogelzang Vineyard Viognier which had a nose of orange blossom and tropical fruits (especially pineapple core)  and crisp acidity.   The 2007 Domaine des Deux Mondes Saints and Sinners is a wine made from a collaboration between Morgan Clendenen and Yves Cuilleron, an expert on Viognier from Condrieu.  Domaine des Deux Mondes is French for “Domain of Two Worlds” signifying the coming together of two worlds to make a single wine.  This was an absolutely beautiful wine with just the right amount of richness on the palate to make it luscious.  Only 3 % new oaks was used, so the fruit from Sanford and Benedict really shines.  Another product of the collaboration between Morgan Clendenen and Yves Cuilleron is called Deux C which is French for two C’s (one “C” for Clendenen and the second “C” for Cuilleron) is composed of wine made here in California combined with wine made in France.  This is quite literally a marriage of Old World and New World with two barrels of wine made in California combined with two made in France.   The vintage is 2005 however due to labeling regulations, this wine’s label cannot indicate a vintage.    Next, we moved on to two reds.  We tasted first the 2004 and then the 2003 Second Sin Syrah.  The 2004 Second Sin was made with fruit from top notch vineyards – Bien Nacido, Beckmen and Vogelzang.   The wine is a mere 13.5% alcohol (the fruit was picked slightly less ripe) – far lower than many if not most California Syrahs.  The wine tastes far more like a French wine than one from California.   I think this will age beautifully for a decade or more. The 2003 Second Sin is a glassful of beautifully integrated flavors including meat, black cherry and baking spices.   This is truly an elegant wine that gets better with each sip.

Be sure to stop by the tasting room and wine making facility at 92A Second Street in Buellton CA 93427.  The tasting room is open Friday through Monday from 12pm-5pm.

Kristy took us on a tour of the winemaking facility and barrel room.  Here are a few snapshots I took:


In the Cold Heaven barrel room

Spinning Mirrored Buddha Head watches over the barrels at Cold Heaven

Spinning, mirrored Buddha head watches over the barrels at Cold Heaven

Barrel of Cold Heaven 2009 Le Bon Climat Vineyard Viognier

Barrel of Cold Heaven 2009 Le Bon Climat Vineyard Viognier marked with a horseshoe symbol

Barrel of Cold Heaven 2009 La Vina Vineyard  Viognier marked with a pistol symbol

Barrel of Cold Heaven 2009 La Vina Vineyard Viognier marked with a pistol symbol

Barrel of Cold Heaven 2009 Le Bon Climat Vineyard Viognier marked with a high heeled shoe

Barrel of Cold Heaven 2009 Le Bon Climat Vineyard Viognier marked with a high heeled shoe symbol

Barrel of wine at Cold Heaven marked with lotus symbol

Barrel of wine at Cold Heaven marked with lotus symbol

Jason and I had a wonderful dining experience at the picturesque Ballard Inn restaurant last night.  We were seated immediately at a romantic two person table near the fireplace.  We took a look at the wine-by-the-glass list and were impressed with the carefully chosen list of fabulous –mostly local- wines.  I ordered a glass of the 2007 Ampelos Rosé of Syrah (gorgeous deep pink color, bright taste –no oak, no malolactic fermentation, nose of citrus, watermelon, florals, mineral qualities, soft tannins).   Ashley, our young but very well informed and professional server, recommended a wine for Jason – the Kaena Hapa (a mouth filling, fruit/spice bonanza of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre – nothing short of WOW).  Kaena (which means “potential for greatness” in Hawaiian) is the personal label made by Mikael Sigouin whose day job is head winemaker at Beckmen. This talented and hardworking young winemaker is officially on my radar as one to watch!  Potential for greatness, indeed!  But, I digress.  Getting back to the food, we started off with two beautifully presented appetizers.  First, room temperature short rib meat with truffle oil served on a bed of watercress, garnished with small dollops of aioli and four purple potato crisps.  I’ve never thought of making a salad out of short rib meat, but this was amazing – moist, flavorful and rich, but not too heavy to eat in the summertime.  And who knew potato chips could be so decorative – and pretty?  Our second appetizer was crispy sweetbreads served with mizuna salad and arugula with macadamia nut pesto.  All the different textures and tastes in this dish blended harmoniously together.  Wow!  Ashley surprised us with a hamachi sashimi appetizer with soy-yuzu vinaigrette which paired beautifully with the Ampelos rosé.  Our entrées arrived soon after we finished the hamachi.  Jason’s entrée was the crispy skin barramundi with chive risotto and soy mushroom broth.  Barramundi is a white fish, though not as delicate in taste or texture as halibut.  Its firm texture and rich taste was complemented well by the chive risotto.  Jason ordered the 2007 Kaena Hapa Blanc (a white Rhone-style blend of  Grenache Blanc and Roussanne – well balanced, elegant, tropical fruit notes, luscious mouth feel and a long finish- only 170 cases made) to go with his fish.

Duck at the Ballard Inn

Duck entree at the Ballard Inn

I ordered the pan seared duck breast with sweet potato purée and balsamic reduction.  I decided that the Kaena Hapa (red) that we had with our appetizers would be wonderful with the duck – and it was!  Dessert was almond panna cotta with strawberries and coconut tuile, and a bottle of 2005 Cold Heaven Late Harvest Viognier (wonderful florals on the nose, rich on the palate with peach, apricot and honey).   Chef Budi Kazali, who was recently won the 2009 Ultimate Chef competition, came out of the kitchen for a few moments to greet diners.   Jason and I were happy to thank Chef Kazali in person for all the amazing food we enjoyed tonight!

%d bloggers like this: