A Glimpse into the Life of Bordeaux Buff Dewey Markham

Dewey Markham

Dewey Markham

Contributed by Itze Pena-Andrade – This past Thursday, the WineSense club was very fortunate in that Dewey Markham Jr., an author and wine scholar, lead the club through a wine tasting of fine Bordeaux wines. It was an enriching and educational experience!

Dewey Markham’s Wine Journey

Dewey was born and raised in New York City where he attended and graduated from New York University, with a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s degree in Cinema. During his late twenties, Dewey’s professional direction turned to cuisine. After having worked as a cook for some time, he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America.

From 1986 to 1989 Dewey lived in Paris, where he was a director of the French cooking school L’Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne and while there, he introduced a wine studies program to the curriculum. This led to his next journey in his life, from cuisine to wine and the passion he has for it.

Upon his return to the US, he worked in two of New York’s leading wine shops and in addition to this; he worked as an Associate Director of the Swiss Wine Information Council. During this time, he was invited back to the Culinary Institute to teach a series of wine courses where he wrote his book Wine Basics.

Now and since 1993, Dewey has lived and worked in Bordeaux. He hosts private wine tours and serves as an ambassador for many amazing Bordeaux wines held all over the world.

Tasting of Five Bordeaux Wines

IMG_0933Dewey presented five different red blends for the attendees to taste:

  • 2012 Château Lilian Ladouys
  • 2012 Château Haut-Bages Liberal
  • 2012 Château Bellevue De Tayac
  • 2012 Château Bernadotte
  • 2012 Château De Panigon

Favorite Wines of the Evening

Of the wines presented, the favorites of the night were:

2012 Château Bellevue de Tayac is a blend consisting of 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 70% Merlot and 10% Petite Verdot, from the Margaux appellation.

2012 Château Haut-Bages Liberal is a blend consisting of  70 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot, from the Pauillac appellation.

We cannot thank Dewey enough for his educational presentation, the selection of wines, and lastly for this once in a lifetime tasting experience!

SSU WineSense Club with Dewey Markham

SSU WineSense Club with Dewey Markham

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A Tasting With Boutique Wineries Three Sticks and Hamel Family Vineyards

Contributed by Sophia Fish
– The SSU Wine Sense Club was honored to host two unique boutique wineries this week – Three Sticks and Hamel Family Vineyards, both located in Sonoma Valley.

20151105_191655Even better was the fact that both wineries have hired SSU wine business students. Katie Boyer now works at Three Sticks Winery and our Wine Sense President, Rachel Minor, works as an intern at Hamel Family Wines.

Overview of Three Sticks Winery

Three Sticks is a winery that succeeds with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Bill Price purchased Durell Vineyard in 1998, and went on to found Three Sticks Winery in 2002. The winery began producing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from it’s 111 acres.

Source of the Name: The name Three Sticks came from “Billy Three Sticks,” a nickname given to Price by surfing friends who teased him about his formal name, William S. Price III.

Winemaking: Three Sticks winemaker is Don Van Staaveren, a former winemaker for Chateau St. Jean in Kenwood. Its winemaking team has recently grown this year with the addition of Bob Cabral as the label’s director of winemaking. Cabral is a gifted winemaker who previously spent 16 years as winemaker at Williams Selyem.

Three Sticks wines are made in very small quantities and are available by allocation only – but don’t fret. If you would like to taste these exclusive wines you are welcome to visit Three Sticks tasting room called the Adobe. The winery recently restored the historic Vallejo-Casteñada Adobe in downtown Sonoma, used for private tastings daily by appointment.

We tasted four wines from Three Sticks:

  • 2013 Durell Vineyard Sonoma Valley Chardonnay: Aromas of ginger, citrus, roasted almonds, sandalwood, with a creamy complex finish.
  • 2013 Durell Vineyard Sonoma Valley ORGIN Chardonnay: Notes of lemon blossom, fresh fig, citrus and summer peach.
  • 2013: Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir: Essence of blackberries, mushrooms, soft leather, dark cherries and earth.
  • 2013 Gaps Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir: Aromas of raspberry, cranberry and black cherry, with a wonderful balance of spice and fruit.

Hamel Family Wines – A Family Affair


Hamel Family at Winery

Hamel Family Wines was founded in 2006, when George Hamel Jr. and his wife, Pamela, looked to Wine Country as a place to escape the summers in San Francisco. It all started when the Hamels purchased a home on the Tres Palmas Vineyard in Kenwood. After that it quickly became a family affair, with John Hamel II as the winemaker and George Hamel III as the managing director.

The Lowdown on the Logo:You may be wondering about the unique label chosen for the brand. There are many reasons why this logo was chosen, but the most significant is the family’s three generations of University of Wisconsin graduates; George, George Jr. and John Hamel II. The schools mascot is a badger. Go Badgers!

The Winemaking: One thing that is special about Hamel Family Wines is that everything is grown on its estate, meaning it has full control over the quality of wine produced. The winery’s land is certified organic, and it expects to its biodynamic certificate in two to four years. It originally produced 290 cases, and increased to 4,500 this year. These wines are sold exclusively at its Sonoma Valley tasting room, as well as some upscale restaurants such as The French Laundry and The Girl & The Fig.

We tasted three wines from Hamel Family:

  • 2014 Sonoma Valley Estate Rose: Aromas of white peach, red berries, orange zest, and ginger.
  • 2012 Sonoma Valley Isthmus: Notes of tobacco, dark fruit, earth and cassis.
  • 2013 Sonoma Valley Estate Old Vine Zinfandel: Aromas of strawberries, apricots, dark berries and cocoa

Favorite Wines of the Evening

IMG_0612 (1)IMG_0613After voting for the two top favorite wines, the winners were:

  • 2013 Gaps Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
  • 2013 Armor Plate Estate Zinfandel
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Enriching Wine Tasting with La Crema and Murphy Goode Wineries

Halloween Wine Tasting

Halloween Wine Tasting

Cheers to our fourth WineSense Club meeting of the Fall 2015 semester!  We were very excited to welcome back alumni Kate Hansen from La Crema and Emily Creaven from Murphy-Goode to come speak with us about what their wineries offer.

A Little Bit of History on La Crema and Murphy-Goode Wineries

La Crema Vinera meaning the “Best of the Vine,” founded in 1979, is a family owned and operated winery that focuses exclusively on the exploration of premier West Coast cool-climate appellations.  When La Crema was first founded, the Russian River Valley had yet to establish itself as one of California’s most important regions for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  However, as time passed, La Crema expanded its collection of vineyards to include some of the most esteemed sites that include: the Sonoma Coast, Green Valley, Fort Ross-Seaview, Mendocino, Carneros and Monterey.

The tale of how Murphy-Goode established itself is quite original! In 1985, during a friendly game, Tim Murphy, Dale Goode and Dave Ready decided to make their love of fine wines official.  They first began with two wines, they created Fume Blanc and Chardonnay from Murphy Ranch and Murphy-Goode Vineyard in Sonoma County.  Now, Murphy-Goode has over 20 vintages.

Kate and Emily Lead a Wine Tasting at SSU

Featured Wines of the Evening

Featured Wines of the Evening

La Crema’s vineyards are all harvested by hand and their winemaking techniques are primarily traditional to ensure that the wines are true to both the variety and the terroir.  We were fortunate to try a selection of 6 wines from both wineries.  We tasted three wines from La Crema: a 2013 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, a 2013 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and a 2013 Green Valley Pinot Noir.  We also tasted three wines from Murphy-Goode: a 2014 Russian River Single Deck Chardonnay, a 2012 Snake Eye Zinfandale, and a 2011 Terra A Lago Cabernet Sauvignon.  

Favorites Wines of the Evening

At the conclusion of our fourth meeting, the club members were asked to vote for their favorite wines of the evening as they do for every meeting.  Each participant could vote a total of two times and the two winners of the evening were:

  • 2013 La Crema Russian River Valley Chardonnay
  • 2013 La Crema Green Valley Pinot Noir

It was a great meeting, costumes and all, that the members will not forget any time soon!  We can’t thank Kate and Emily enough for coming!


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Raving about Rare Cat Wines at SSU WineSense Meeting

coins(1)Contributed by Sophia Fish – The name of Rare Cat Winery was inspired by an ancient Carthaginian coin dating back to 320 BC, with a beautiful picture of a majestic lion on one side and the Goddess Tanit on the other side. Since the goal of the winery was to make “exquisite wines, something truly beautiful and a little hard to come by: in short something of a ‘rare cat’” this was a perfect symbol and name.

Rare Cat Wines – The love of wine began in Bordeaux

Sharon Harris is the owner and director of winemaking, and her passion for wine started over 30 years ago. She spent her junior year abroad in France where Sharon studied at the Universite de Bordeaux. Years later, armed with a remarkable Bordeaux experience, she returned to the states to Napa Valley and founded Rare Cat Wines.

“Creating wine is so much more than cultivating and bottling great fruit. It really is a passion. It’s a passion that drives us to create something rare and exquisite, something elusive, but something that once discovered remains with you forever,”  says Sharon Harris.

Tasting of Two Rare Cat Wines

Rare CatWe were honored to taste these two wines from Rare Cat Winery:

  •  2010 Russian River Valley R.Cat Chardonnay: Ginger root, spicy pear, pineapple, lemon curd backed by hint of minerality with a creamy yet lively texture. 
  • 2011 Napa Valley R.Cat Cabernet Sauvignon: Soft yet powerful tannins with characteristics of blackberries, mint, leather and wet stone.

Most everyone agreed that their favorite was the Rare Cat Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Passing Around Passaggio Wines at SSU WineSense Meeting

Passaggio_TRContributed by Sophia Fish – Four generations ago Cindy Cosco’s family ventured from Italy to America. In 2004 Cindy, who spent 15 years developing a career in law enforcement, left to pursue her passion and create a new generation of wines. She then started Passaggio Wines, which in Italian translates to ‘passage’ or ‘pass from’.

Cindy has three labels, one of which is her goodwill bottling, a small label is called Unmarked Wines. The name comes from her career in law enforcement, aspiring to be a detective and drive an unmarked car. She put these aspirations aside to pursue her winemaking, but donates 5% of sales as a tribute to the selfless men and women in law enforcement.

Passiaggio Wines has been very successful venture and even opened up a tasting room on the Sonoma Square last year. “I believe something magical happens when you bring wonderful friends, awesome food and great wines together,” says Cindy Cosco

Tasting of Four Passaggio Wines

Passagio winesWe tasted the following four Passaggio Wines:

  • 2014 Lake County Sauvignon Blanc: Notes of citrus, guava, pineapple, tropical fruit, floral notes, balanced acidity with a lasting finish.
  • 2014 California Unoaked Chardonnay: Yellow apple, Bartlett pear, floral notes with hints of vanilla, citrus, Meyer lemon, soft apple, crisp mineral flavors with a smooth finish.
  • 2014 California Mourvedre Rose: Strawberry, floral, raspberry, cherry with a bright refreshing finish.
  • 2013  Sonoma County Unmarked Pinot Noir: Raspberry, red cherry, spice, plum clove, with minerality, balanced tannins and acidity.

The Favorites?

2014 California Unoaked Chardonnay

2014 Sonoma County Unmarked Pinot Noir

Wine club

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SSU Wine Grads Start SommSelect and Conduct Wine Tasting at Alma Mater

groupContributed by Itze Pena-Andrade – Cheers to our second WineSense Club meeting of the Fall 2015 semester! We were very excited to welcome back Brandon Carneiro and Tyler Wedeking from SommSelect to come speak with us about what SommSelect is and offers.

A little bit of History

Ian Cauble and Brandon Carneiro, the co-founders of SommSelect, first met at Sonoma State University in 1999 where they quickly became friends during their time as undergrads. Ian majored in international business and Spanish; Brandon studied economics.  Years later, they reconnected in Las Vegas where Brandon was working as a fine wine salesperson and Ian was attempting to become a Master Sommelier, which is depicted in the documentary, SOMM.

In 2014, Brandon and Ian launched SommSelect as a way to give people access to sommelier-selected wines for people to enjoy.  They have daily offerings of wines from all over the world with tasting notes, region information, and food pairings. With chances of new discovery and a new education in wine, SommSelect is a website for everyone at every budget.

Brandon Leads Wine Tasting at SSU

wineBrandon led the members of the WineSense club through a tasting that featured a  variety of wines that included a 2014 Chateau De Calavon Rosé from Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, France, a 2012 Napa Valley Chardonnay from White Rock Vineyards, and a 2013 Ken Wright Cellars Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley.  Brandon walked students through the proper way to taste, the different descriptors, and how to tell the different wine varietals apart, based only on taste.

Brandon with the help of Tyler, put our club through a test as we participated in a blind tasting of our own. Students had to identify which two varietals were served and from what area, with the winning teams taking home a bottle of wine to enjoy. These two wines were a 2013 Lucien Crochet Sauvignon Blanc and a 2011 Villa Sant’Anna Chianti Colli Senesi.

Favorites Wines of the Evening

At the conclusion of our second meeting, the club members were asked to vote for their favorite wines of the evening.  Each participant could vote a total of two times and the two winners of the evening were:

  • 2014 Chateau De Calavon Rosé from Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, France
  • 2012 Napa Valley Chardonnay from White Rock Vineyards

It was a fun-filled educational tasting that students will not forget any time soon and we can’t thank Brandon and Tyler enough for coming!


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Kicking Off with Kenwood Winery – First Fall 2015 Tasting of SSU Wine Sense Club

SSU Winesense Kenwood Winery Tasting

SSU Winesense Kenwood Winery Tasting

Contributed by Sophia Fish – Cheers to a great first Wine Sense Club meeting for Fall 2015! We were very excited to welcome Maxwell Burns and our very own VP of Operations Matt Lopez from Kenwood Vineyards to come speak with us about their fabulous winery.

Kenwood Vineyards – Historic & Sustainable Cellar

Kenwood Vineyards was established in 1970 formerly the Pagani Brothers Winery, a historic cellar dating back to 1906. Kenwood Vineyards is devoted to producing premium wines truly representative of Sonoma County’s world class vineyards.

Kenwood Vineyards is committed to making the finest wines and treating the earth with the utmost respect. They are doing this by following sustainable growing practices . They stand by this philosophy and make every effort to reduce waste, recycle and lower their energy consumption.

Tasting of 4 Magnificent Kenwood Wines

2014 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc: The first is a Sauvignon Blanc with fruit sourced from vineyards located in five different appellations in Sonoma County. Aromas of white nectarine, honeydew melon and lemongrass combine with citrus and tropical flavors that give a crisp and refreshing finish.

Kennwood wines2012 Sonoma County Reserve Merlot: Next we had a 2012 Reserve Merlot from Sonoma County. The production of this reserve wine was limited to less than six percent of Kenwood Vineyards’ Merlot production. This wine is full of enticing fruit aromas of fig, plum and black cherry join with spicy notes of nutmeg.

2012 Jack London Vineyard Zinfandel: We felt incredibly lucky to taste the 2012 Zinfandel from Kenwood’s Jack London Vineyard. It was interesting to learn that over 30 years, Kenwood Vineyards has exclusively crafted wine from the single vineyards of Jack London’s historic ranch. The flavors from these vineyards emanate fruity aromas of raspberry and fig mixed with subtle notes of vanilla and pepper.

2010 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon: Last but certainly not least, we were inspired by Kenwood’s 2010 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon. The art featured on every bottle incorporates fine wine to make each new Artist Series release an event and every vintage a prime collectible. The Artist Series originally highlighted works by contemporary artists, then 1987 vintage broke with tradition by featuring a painting from Joan Miro.  In the years since, the Artist Series has presented works from other important artists including Pablo Picasso, Henry Miller, Alexander Calder and Vincent van Gogh. This wine is full of fragrant fruit aromas of cassis and black cherry joined with spicy notes of cinnamon.

Favorite Wines of the Evening:

At the conclusion of the tasting, and before prices were revealed, we voted on our favorite wines of the evening.  The winners were:

2010 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Jack London Vineyard Zinfandel



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