Category Archives: Wine

What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 21

Summer was made for these easy-breezy piquettes.
Summer was made for these easy-breezy piquettes.

Piquette Pinot Noir and Piquette Chardonnay

Meet piquette — quite possibly your favorite new summer sip.

This traditional French drink, whose name means “little wine,” is actually made by adding water to grape pomace (the skins, seeds and stems of the grapes left over after pressing), and fermenting the residual sugars.

It makes for a light tasting, low alcohol beverage.

In June, Une Femme Wines launched two canned piquettes that I had a chance to sample.

The brand was founded by Jen Pelka, owner of the now shuttered the Riddler, a Champagne bar in New York City and San Francisco, and her brother Zach.

Its intent is to produce only Champagne and sparkling wine made by women. In fact, for every bottle sold, the company makes a donation to a charity benefiting women.

With 8 percent ABV, the piquettes come in 250ml pull-tab cans.

Read more

What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 20

L'Apero les Trois' line of aperitifs comes in six flavors, including Blenheim Apricot.
L’Apero les Trois’ line of aperitifs comes in six flavors, including Blenheim Apricot.

L’Apero les Trois

Three women of three different generations in Winters, CA have joined forces to create a delicious new product that celebrates not only the agrarian bounty of Sonoma County, but a time-honored French tradition.

The result is L’Apero les Trois, a line of fruit-based, lower alcohol spirits known as aperitifs, which the French have enjoyed for generations as a pre-lunch or pre-dinner libation.

They are the brainchild of Georgeanne Brennan, James Beard Award-winning cookbook author who taught cooking classes in France for years; Corinne Martinez, co-owner of Berryessa Gap Vineyards; and Nicole Salengo, Berryessa Gap’s winemaker.

As with all aperitifs, they are meant to be served chilled, sometimes with a few ice cubes in the glass, and topped off with sparkling wine or fizzy water, if you so choose.

Read more

Dining Outside at Edge Restaurant

A stunning halibut crudo with aguachile at Edge in Sonoma.
A stunning halibut crudo with aguachile at Edge in Sonoma.

Sometimes the best things hide in plain sight.

And if you’re very lucky, you stumble upon them before the rest of the world finds out.

Such is the case with Edge Restaurant in downtown Sonoma.

Steps from Sonoma Plaza square, this fine-dining restaurant operates inside a renovated Victorian home that you might easily pass by if you weren’t paying attention.

Fortunately, its management team reached out to invite me in as a guest of this sensational restaurant that’s operated by Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery in Sonoma.

The restaurant is owned by Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery, just a few miles away.
The restaurant is owned by Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery, just a few miles away.
The front of the restaurant.
The front of the restaurant.

The winery is owned by Leslie McQuown and her husband Mac McQuown, a serial entrepreneur who also co-founded the Chalone Wine Group and Carmenet Winery.

Read more

What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 19

A rosé that delivers on much more than taste.
A rosé that delivers on much more than taste.

2021 Monarch Challenge North Coast Rosé

In 2016, Carlo Mondavi — yes, grandson of Robert Mondavi — created the Monarch Challenge to bring attention to the plight of the beautiful Monarch butterfly, whose population has been devastated since the advent of Roundup.

Every year since then, he and his brother Dante have produced a limited rosé through their RAEN Winery in Sebastopol to bring attention to this environmental calamity befalling this invaluable pollinator, and to inspire other like-minded vintners to do the same.

I had a chance to try a sample of this year’s 2021 Monarch Challenge North Coast Rosé ($30), sales of which will benefit the conservation organization, the Xerces Society, and Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating sick or orphaned wildlife.

Produced from RAEN Pinot Noir grapes and old-vine Grenache, all farmed organically, this pale salmon wine is an exuberant expression of strawberries and raspberries, with a hint of guava. It is crisp, tangy, and laced with minerality. It’s pure deliciousness.

Read more

Dining Outside at Chez TJ

Dry-aged squab with confit mushrooms at Chez TJ.
Dry-aged squab with confit mushrooms at Chez TJ.

Operating a restaurant during the worst of the pandemic has untold challenges. But imagine if it’s one that’s housed in a historic circa-1894 Victorian with small rooms and tight hallways, and a tiny kitchen geared toward turning out exquisite upscale tasting-menus, not takeout fare in cardboard boxes.

Michelin-starred Chez TJ in downtown Mountain View not only weathered all of that, but also made a big chef change mid-pandemic, remodeled its interior, and even added a splashy outdoor dining area complete with modern fire pit, and a snazzy louvered roof that can close in inclement weather.

It remains a lovely and special experience, as always, as I found when I dined outside last week.

Owner George Aviet has a gift for spotting talent. Among the celebrated chefs who have headed Chez TJ early in their careers are: Joshua Skenes, who went on to open San Francisco’s Saison and Angler; Christopher Kostow, who went on to earn three Michelin stars at The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena; Bruno Chemel, who later opened his award-winning Baume in Palo Alto; Scott Nishiyama, who worked at the French Laundry, and is expected to open Ethel’s Fancy in Palo Alto this year; and most recently, Jarad Gallagher, who left to open Smoke Point BBQ in San Juan Bautista.

You can see the new outdoor dining area to the right.
You can see the new outdoor dining area to the right.

Christopher Lemerand took over in summer 2020, bringing along an equally impressive background, having cooked on the team at Atelier Crenn in San Francisco when it received its second Michelin star, and at Coi in San Francisco when it received its third Michelin star.

Read more
« Older Entries