Chateau Montelena Sauvignon Blanc Voted Favorite in SSU Tasting of Classic White Grapes

Chateau Montelena in Napa Valley

Chateau Montelena in Napa valley

What is a classic white wine grape? It is a variety that has proved it can produce consistently high quality over a long period of time in more than one region of the world. Therefore, though there are more than 120 commercially produced wine grapes, only 5 are considered to be classic white wine grapes:

  1. Chardonnay – famous in Burgundy, Sonoma and many other regions of the world
  2. Sauvignon Blanc – famous in the Loire, Bordeaux, New Zealand and many other region
  3. Riesling – famous in Germany, Austria and Australia
  4. Chenin Blanc – famous in the Loire and South Africa
  5. Semillon – famous in Bordeaux and Australia

wineIn a blind tasting of these five famous varietals in Bus 305W, the 42 Millennial wine  business majors identified Chateau Montelena’s 2013 Sauvignon Blanc as their favorite – even over a  delicious Semillon based Sauternes from France.

Students described Chateau Montelena’s wine as having a nose of grapefruit with appealing notes of kiwi, grass and lemon on the palate and a refreshing acidity. Made in a white Bordeaux style with moderate oak aging, the wine sells for $35 at the winery.

 

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A Great Wine Cocktail for Valentine’s Day – The Torrontes Tango

Torrontes Tango Wine Cocktail

Torrontes Tango Wine Cocktail

Here is a fun wine cocktail that is perfect for Valentine’s Day.  Enjoy it with that romantic someone or with a group of friends.

I learned about this drink when I visited Argentina last March.  It is made with watermelon and white wine – preferably Torrontes.  In Argentina it is primarily served during their summer months when watermelon is ripe (November – February in the Southern Hemisphere). Fortunately we can find watermelon in many US supermarkets at this time of the year as well.

I’ve modified the recipe with a few new ingredients, and have given it a new name — The Torrontes Tango!

History and Background 

The Torrontes grape is an aromatic white grape with a white floral nose and peach/apricot on the palate. It is similar to Muscat and Gewürztraminer, but with more delicate aromas. It is believed to be a cross between the Mission grape (also called Criolla Chica) brought from Spain to Argentina in the mid 1500’s and Muscat of Alexandria. Considered to be the signature white grape of Argentina, the most famous region for growing Torrontes is in Salta, which is located in the northwest part of the country with vineyards on the foothills of the Andes Mountains.

In Argentina they scoop out fresh watermelon and turn it into juice, and then mix it with chilled Torrontes wine. It is usually served as an aperitif, and is refreshing and delightful – especially because the white floral notes of Torrontes are lifted and enhanced with the luscious fruit of the watermelon. However, if Torrontes is not available, Argentinians will often mix the watermelon juice with other white wines.

Ingredients for One Serving

  • 3 ounces freshly blended watermelon juice (seedless)
  • 3 ounces cold Torrontes wine
  • 1 cup of ice cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Rose’s Grenadine
  • 5 drops of rose water (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons Watermelon Vodka (optional)
  • Fresh rose petal as garnish 

Recipe

Cut fresh chilled watermelon into small cubes. Use seedless watermelon, or remove seeds before placing in blender. Pulse blender to turn watermelon into juice. Pour watermelon juice into cocktail shaker with ice. Add Torrontes wine. Shake (and do a little tango). Pour into chilled martini glass. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of Rose’s Grenadine. To embellish cocktail, add 5 drops of rose water and 2 teaspoons of Watermelon Vodka (optional). Garnish with rose petal. If romantic occasion, serve with a single red or pink rose.

 

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Matanzas Creek and VJB Cellars Kick Off Spring 2015 Tasting at SSU Winesense Club

Lavendar Field at Mantanzas Creek Winery

Lavender Field at Mantanzas Creek Winery

(Contributed by Erica Schreckenghaust) The Wine Sense Club members kicked off the spring semester with two special tastings with Judy and Bradford from Matanzas Creek Winery and Micah, Mike and Ryan from VJB Vineyards & Cellars.

About Matanzas Creek Winery

Matanzas Creek was founded in 1977, and was the first winery located in the Bennett Valley AVA.  Bennett Valley is a very unique area as it is surrounded three beautiful mountains, Sonoma, Bennett and Taylor, creating a perfect pocket for fog and cool air that rolls in from the Pacific Ocean. The estate is filled with native grasses, whimsical olive trees and beautiful lavender fields.

Judy and Bradford led us through a tasting of four of their most popular wines accompanied with a sensory kit containing various spices, rose petals and more to help aid students taste descriptors during the sensory evaluation of the wines. They stressed the idea that there is never a wrong answer in what you taste in a wine since everyone’s palate is very different, allowing people to pick up certain flavors more than others. They poured their 2012 Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, 2011 Merlot and the 2013 Pinot Noir.

About VJB Vineyards & Cellars

Mike and Ryan from VJB Cellars

Micah, Mike and Ryan from VJB Cellars

VJB Vineyards & Cellars is located in Sonoma where the Belmonte Family opened their doors for the first time in 2003. The name is a tribute to the youngest son, Victor Joseph Belmonte, who died unexpectedly. They pride themselves on offering some of the most popular and most obscure Italian varietals. Their wines can be paired with a cheese and meat platter from their deli or homemade pizza in their outdoor pizza oven. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a nice sunny day.

We tasted three of their very popular wines: the 2013 Primitivo, 2013 Negro Amaro and the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon as a special treat, thanks to Mike.

Favorite Wines of the Evening

IMG_5751IMG_5757At the end of the evening, everyone voted on their two favorite wines. The winners were:

  • Mantanzas Creek 2013 Pinot Noir – a blend of Clone 777 from Bennett Valley and the Calera Clone from Haarstad. Complex cherry and spice with a hint of rose petals.
  • VJB 2013 Primitivo – the Italian cousin of Zinfandel from Sonoma Valley. Bright red fruit with aromas of strawberries and berry bramble.
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SSU Winesense Board Confirms Spring 2015 Tasting Schedule

SSU Winesense Board at Annual Planning Dinner

SSU Winesense Board at Annual Planning Dinner

The wine tasting schedule for SSU’s Winesense Club has just been confirmed for Spring 2015 and the line-up of wineries is mouthwatering.

Jan. 29 – The Magical Wines of Matanzas Creek

Feb. 12 – Valentine’s Day Tasting with Sonoma Port Works & Mumm Napa

March 12 – Big Reds with Styker

April 9 – Innovative Wines with Delicato

April 23 – Pinot Envy with Gary Farrell

Meetings start at 7pm and are held in the Bennett Valley Room in the new Student Union Building. The Membership fee is $30 for the semester and includes all 5 tastings.

Field Trips Also Planned

A new addition to the Winesense Club agenda this semester is a series of field trips on Fridays.  The current schedule is:

Feb. 27 – St. Helena Barrel Cooperage

March 27 – NovaVine Nursery

April 17 – Heidrun Meadery

May 8 – Korbel Champagne Cellars

For more information, please contact SSU Winesense Club President,  Christina Vizcaino at vizcaino@seawolf.sonoma.edu

 

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Holiday Wines with Freemark Abbey

SSU Winesense Board for Holiday Wine Tasting with Freemark Abbey

SSU Winesense Board for Holiday Wine Tasting with Freemark Abbey

Contributed by Erica Schreckenghaust – For our final meeting of the semester we had the pleasure of welcoming Kate Hansen from Freemark Abbey.  She was kind enough to share 6 fabulous wines to help us celebrate the holiday season and forget final exam stress for a couple of hours.

Unique History of Freemark Abbey

Freemark Abbey has a history of standing out from the rest, as it was the first winery built by a woman in the United States in 1886, by Josephine Tychson. The unique name was a combination of the three owners names: Charles Freeman, Marquand Foster and Abbey Ahern. In 1976 Freemark Abbey was the first American winery to have two wines, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, entered into Stephen Spurrier’s Judgment of Paris blind tasting which brought worldwide attention to Napa Valley. They are also known for being the first winery in Napa to use stainless steel tanks.

Favorite Wines of the Evening

boscheA group of thirty-five students tried six different wines including, 2013 Riesling, 2013 Chardonnay, 2012 Cabernet Franc, 2012 Merlot, 1998 Cabernet Bosché and 2010 Cabernet Bosché . All of the wines were a hit but the two stood out from the rest as decided by students were the:

  • 2012 Cabernet Franc from Napa Valley
  • 1998 Cabernet Bosché, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from the Bosché Estate in Rutherford

Freemark is full of historically fantastic wines and was the perfect way to kick off the holiday celebrations. On behalf of the WineSense Executive Board, we wish you a holiday season filled with great food, friends and family, and some spectacular wines! Cheers!

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Ian Cauble, MS Returns to SSU with Brandon Carneiro to Share SommSelect

SommSelect Founders, Brandon, Tyler, and Ian Cauble, MS

Contributed by Erica Schreckenghaust – The WineSense Club had the honor of welcoming back the dynamic duo behind SommSelect; Ian Cauble and Brandon Carneiro. They first met in 1999 at Sonoma State University and were part of the students who created the WineSense Club in 2000. Ian studied Business and Spanish, while Brandon studied Economics. Years late they reconnected in Las Vegas where Brandon was a fine wine salesman and Ian was attempting to become a Master Sommelier, which is depicted in the documentary, SOMM.

Brandon and Ian decided to launch SommSelect in 2014, where they have daily offerings of wines from all over the world with tasting notes, region information and even food pairings. SommSelect offers the knowledge of a Sommelier to everyone at every budget.

Ian Leads Wine Tasting at SSU

Ian led over 45 students through a tasting that featured a 2007 Winniger Rottgen Riesling Spatlese from Mosel, Germany and a 2011 Mendel Malbec from Mendoza Argentina. Ian walked students through the proper way to taste, the different descriptors, and how to tell the different wine varietals apart, based only on taste.

knebel spat 06We then put our skills to the test as we participated in a blind tasting of our own. Students had to identify which two varietals were served and from what area. These two wines were a 2013 Ehlers Sauvignon Blanc from St. Helena and Right Bank Bordeaux from France.

Favorites of the Evening

With an overwhelming amount of votes the Riesling and Malbec that Ian picked out were the favorites of the night. It was an amazing and inspiring tasting that students will not forget any time soon and we can’t thank Ian and Brandon enough for coming!

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SSU Winesense Salutes Duckhorn Vineyards and Larson Family Wineries

IMG_3733Contributed by Erica Schreckenghaust – Forty lucky SSU students were treated to exceptional wines by Duckhorn Vineyards and Larson Family wineries this month. Organized as part of the WineSense Club educational tasting seminars, the students were excited to learn about the history of these two family wineries, both established in the 1970’s.

Duckhorn Vineyards, Napa Valley

Duckhorn was founded by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn in 1976 and has become one of the premier producers of Bordeaux varietal wines. Duckhorn is known for pioneering Merlot as a premium varietal, as well as their acclaimed Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. They strive to produce quality wines with their seven estate vineyards in Napa Valley.

Duckhorn_2010_Cabernet_zoomFor the evening, they poured a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and their Z Red Wine Blend. The vote of favorite wines of the evening resulted in two Duckhorn winners: 1) 2013 Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc, made up of 84% Sauvignon Blanc and 16% Semillon, from select premium Napa Valley vineyards; and 2) 2010 Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon, estate grown from the Patzimaro Vineyard located in the St. Helena appellation at the base of Spring Mountain. It is made of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Merlot.

Larson Family Vineyards, Sonoma County

Larson Family planted their first vineyards in 1977 and after many years of trial and error decided to get serious, officially open their winery in 1985. Today, Larson Family Winery has 120 acres of predominantly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes and continues to live their motto of “We Drink What We Can and Sell the Rest!”

LarsonNatalie and Nick, the Directors of Marketing and Sales, led the group through a tasting of six wines- 2012 Sparkling Brut, 2012 Gewürztraminer, 2012 Chardonnay, 2012 Pinot Noir, a Non-Vintage Sonoma Red Blend and the 2012 Malbec. After polling the students, the two favorite Larson Family wines were:  1) 2012 Larson Family Pinot Noir and 2) 2012 Larson Family Malbec, both from the Carneros Region.

 

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