Category Archives: Wine

Introducing Tyler Florence Wines

Tyler Florence debuts his own line of wines with the Michael Mondavi Family Estate. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

I’m spending this Christmas with Tyler Florence.

OK, just his wines. But still….

Yes, the Food Network darling and celeb chef of Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco has introduced his own line of wines in partnership with members of the Mondavi family.

Florence and the Michael Mondavi Family Estate in Carneros have launched three limited-edition wines: TF Pinot Noir ($40), TF Zinfandel ($40) and TF Cabernet Sauvignon ($65). They’ve also crafted a more modestly priced duo of wines: Tyler Florence Sauvignon Blanc ($20) and Tyler Florence Cabernet Sauvignon ($25).

The Tyler Florence Wines are available on the Web, and at select retailers.

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Gift Ideas for the Foodies in Your Life

The "Mash Bill'' collection of truffles from Vosge Haut Chocolate. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

For the Spirits and Beer Aficionado Who Also Covets Chocolate

Leave it to Vosges Haut Chocolate of Chicago to come up with a specialty box of truffles all about whiskey, bourbon, scotch and stout.

The “Mash Bill” is a nine-piece collection of dark- and milk-chocolate truffles, each of which incorporates Rogue Chocolate Stout, Templeton Rye Whiskey, Four Rose’s Single Barrel Bourbon and Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Scotch in the ganache filling.

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World Premiere of “SOMM” & More

One of the featured sommelier candidates from "SOMM.'' (Still courtesy of the filmmakers)

An Insider’s Look at the Rigorous Master Sommelier Exam

Anyone who’s a fan of wine will be drawn to the new documentary, “SOMM,” which will hold its world premiere Nov. 7 at the 2nd annual Napa Valley Film Festival at the Napa Valley Opera House.

The Master Sommelier exam is one of the most grueling around. Fewer than 200 people around the world have passed it. The film by Jason Wise follows four people as they prepare for the examination.

Bay Area folks will recognize some familiar faces in the film, including Chef Michael Mina, Sommelier Rajat Parr, Winemaker Bo Barrett, wine legend Fred Dame and Master Sommelier Reggie Narito.

Another candidate opening a bottle of Beaujolais. (Still courtesy of the filmmakers)

The filmmaker will be on hand at the fest, as well as the featured sommeliers. They also will be guests at the gala at Robert Mondavi Winery on Nov. 8.

Single-day passes are $50 to $60; a festival pass for five days of access, Nov. 7-11, is $250. A $500 Pass Plus gets you five days of screenings, plus access to the gala and wrap parties.

For a taste of what the film is all about, take a peek at the trailer: SOMM

Forget the Popcorn, Enjoy Italian Food Instead at Redd Wood

To tie in with the Napa Valley Film Festival, Redd Wood in Yountville will be featuring its rendition of the famous timpano from the classic film, “Big Night.”

The timpano di macceroni, a huge domed pie of baked pasta, meatballs, sausages and tomato sauce, will be available during the entire run of the festival, Nov. 6-11.

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A Visit to the California Vineyard Nearest to the Pacific Ocean

Mediterranean summer flatbreads to enjoy with wines at Fort Ross Vineyward's new tasting room.

Last month after three years in the making, Fort Ross Vineyard opened the doors to its brand-new tasting room in Jenner — less than a mile from the Pacific Ocean.

That also makes it the only tasting room in the newly established Fort Ross-Seaview AVA on the Sonoma Coast that was approved late last year.

It’s an appropriate location for it, given that Fort Ross, a historic Russian settlement, was where the first grapes were planted in Northern California in 1817.

Husband-and-wife, Lester and Linda Schwartz, who met as students at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, started their Fort Ross Vineyard 12 years ago. The winery produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and the signature varietal from the Schwartz’s native land of South Africa, Pinotage. Indeed, it’s one of the few producers of Pinotage in the United States.

All in all, they produce 5,000 cases in total annually. Their winemaker is the acclaimed Jeff Pisoni. The first vintage by Pisoni, the 2009 Fort Ross Vineyard Chardonnay was chosen as one of the top 100 wines of 2011 by Wine Enthusiast.

The exterior of the tasting room.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the Schwartzs in the new tasting room, set amid redwood forests and boasting views of the ocean.

Owners Lester and Linda Schwartz, originally from South Africa.

Their personal story is as intriguing as their wines. The couple fled South Africa 40 years ago because of the political unrest during the apartheid era. They settled in the Bay Area. Linda was a pianist and classical music composer. Lester became the first South African licensed to practice law in California.

He happened to be driving up this hilly area one day when he spotted the property and just fell in love with it.

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