Altamura winery

Wine Tasting with Altamura’s Frank Altamura at Ciccio Yountville

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This week, we’re back to Yountville’s Ciccio restaurant with proprietor and Altamura winemaker Frank Altamura. Spoiler Alert: you’ll hear a busy working kitchen in the background during this episode.

Their 400-acre Wooden Valley ranch produces an award-winning California Cabernet, in addition to the more unique Italian varietals Sangiovese, Negroamaro and Nebbiolo. The wines are all estate grown and pure 100% varietal. Wines are aged in one-year old French Oak, except for the Cabernet, which ages in new French Oak.

Wines We Taste:

2012  Altamura Sangiovese, Napa Valley. This is a deeper and richer expression of this Italian grape, more commonly seen in Chianti. Frank explains that it’s due in part to the growing conditions of sunny and often very warm Napa Valley, in addition to his aging protocol. Read more on the wine and specific growing conditions.

2009 Altamura Negroamaro Napa Valley. This wine has big bright cherry on the palate and a nice hit of black pepper on the finish.  The grape originates in the Puglia region of Italy, where Frank’s family is from. The wine has deep color and rustic character. It combines perfume with an earthy bitterness and spicy element. The barrel again rounds off the finish, making it smooth.

2012 Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley.  This award-winner gets regular mentions in the media. The property where this fruit grows has elevations of 700 to 1000 feet along with soil that’s similar to the Rutherford Bench and the mountainous regions of Howell Mountain, Pritchard Hill and Mount Veeder. The vines, which were planted in 1986, are dry-farmed and vertically trellised.

All these grapes and most of the ingredients on the Ciccio menu are grown at the Altamura’s Wooden Valley ranch, which is just about 12 miles east of Napa. It’s a gorgeous property where tastings are by appointment only. Of course, you can taste all of the wines during a casual dinner at Ciccio, as well.

Please Listen to Past Episodes and Subscribe

You can check out the past few episodes but if you SUBSCRIBE , you’ll receive each new episode right to your device, whichever one you listen to your podcasts on.  Share episodes across social media channels, as well, to let others discover our wine conversations. A few of the most recent include:

K. Laz Wine Collection Tasting with Kerrin Laz

Wine Tasting with Three Sticks Winemaker Bob Cabral

Kerrin Laz on Collectible Napa Valley Cabernet at K. Laz Wine Collections

Nile Zacherly of Mad Fritz Talks Beer in Napa Valley

Master Sommelier Willi Sherer of Redd Restaurant on Holiday Wine Picks!

Biodynamic DaVero Owner Ridgely Evers Talks Olive Farming and Wine

Catch you next time.

KLaz 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon by Kerrin Laz and Celia Welch

Wine Tasting with Kerrin Laz of K. Laz Wine Collections

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Wine Tasting with Kerrin Laz is a great way to prepare for your Oscar Party

Today we tasted a few winners such as :

Laz loves Chardonnay and admits that there’s a huge spectrum of quality, from lean and austere to over the top oak-driven. It’s harder to find a great Chardonnay and when she does, she celebrates it.

2014 Cattleya Pratt Vineyard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley

Produced by highly regarded Bibiana González Rave, the Colombian-born and French-trained winemaker who moved t0 California in 2007. This golden colored Chardonnay has a specific elegance in this 2014 vintage. It’s vibrance, richness and acidity, make it a wonderfully balanced wine, Laz says. There’s a hint of hazelnut and yeast on the finish making it unique, as well. She feels it can stand the test of time and will age well.

2014 Laz Cabernet Sauvignon

There’s a clarity and richness in this vintage, the first for Laz’s own private label. She finds this vintage to stand strong and pop immediately, although it’s age worthy as well.

Celia Welch, winemaker, and Laz are currently tasting their wines blend to go into their 2015 bottling.  Welch is widely known from her winemaker at Scarecrow where she was named 2008 Winemaker of the Year by Food and Wine Magazine. The wine has raspberry and cassis, along with a cocoa dusting but it’s ultimately refined and silky. The tannins are silky, rather than velvety, the way Laz likes the mouthfeel on her wine, with a huge mid-palate.

Please Listen to Past Episodes and Subscribe

You can check out the past few episodes but if you SUBSCRIBE , you’ll receive each new episode right to your device, whichever one you listen to your podcasts on.  Share episodes across social media channels, as well, to let others discover our wine conversations. A few of the most recent include:

Wine Tasting with Three Sticks Winemaker Bob Cabral

Kerrin Laz on Collectible Napa Valley Cabernet at K. Laz Wine Collections

Nile Zacherly of Mad Fritz Talks Beer in Napa Valley

Master Sommelier Willi Sherer of Redd Restaurant on Holiday Wine Picks!

Biodynamic DaVero Owner Ridgely Evers Talks Olive Farming and Wine

Catch you next time.

Winemaker Bob Cabral at Three Sticks Wines

SOMMTALKS Wine Tasting Series with Three Sticks Winemaker Bob Cabral

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Today, we’re back at Three Sticks Wines with winemaker Bob Cabral to taste several of the wines such as:

2015 Three Sticks Gaps Crown Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast

Cabral calls this wine expressive, with minerality, lychee and tropical fruits. The wine is not fined or filtered in the winery and it ages in only indigenous yeast. The characteristics of the wine are as close to an actual barrel tasting  a consumer can get to, Cabral explains.  This is the first release of this wine. The barrels are water bent, as opposed to fired, which brings out the creamy characteristics of the wine. Cabral notes that he adores that flavors of lemon drop and the saline finish.

2015 PFV Estate Pinot Noir

The PFV (Price Family Vineyards) is a blend of the best vineyard sites from the various vineyards Cabral currently sources Pinot Noir grapes from, all of which are from the  Sonoma Coast. The blend is from all vineyards that Three Sticks owner Bill Price owns. The resulting wine is age worthy and more Burgundian in style, Cabral says. It’s bright red with shades of purple, with wild raspberry and cranberry flavors and nice tart acidity. The wine was just released for the first time on February 7th of 2017.

Please Listen to Past Episodes and Subscribe

You can check out the past few episodes but if you SUBSCRIBE , you’ll receive each new episode right to your device, whichever one you listen to your podcasts on.  Share episodes across social media channels, as well, to let others discover our wine conversations. A few of the most recent include:

Kerrin Laz on Collectible Napa Valley Cabernet at K. Laz Wine Collections

Nile Zacherly of Mad Fritz Talks Beer in Napa Valley

Master Sommelier Willi Sherer of Redd Restaurant on Holiday Wine Picks!

Biodynamic DaVero Owner Ridgely Evers Talks Olive Farming and Wine

Catch you next time.

Hewn Baker and Owner Ellen King

Hewn Bakery Ellen King on Hand Forged Artisan Bread

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Artisan and Locally Milled Grains with Ellen King at Hewn

In preparation for an article coming out soon in the Chicago Tribune Food & Drink section on locally milled artisan grains at Chicago bakeries, todays episode goes behind the scenes at one of the more remarkable artisan bread shop in the Chicago area.

Today, we take a turn in coverage to speak with Ellen King at Hewn bakery in Evanston, Illinois, where her tag line is “hand forged artisan bread.” King prides herself on studying and understanding the history of ancient grains then sources them through local farms such as Hazzard Free Farms and Lonesome Stone Milling in Lone Rock, Wi.

King worked with Steven Jones of Washington State’s Bread Lab, researching the background on grains that were indigenous to the midwest at the turn-of-the-century.  These grains were smuggled into the US by Eastern European immigrants who sewed the seeds into their clothing.

Hand forged, the loaves are heavenly and the nod to history gives the bread a true sense of place. Tune to hear for yourself.

Please Listen to Past Episodes and Subscribe

You can check out the past few episodes but if you SUBSCRIBE , you’ll receive each new episode right to your device, whichever one you listen to your podcasts on.  Share episodes across social media channels, as well, to let others discover our wine conversations. A few of the most recent include:

Kerrin Laz on Collectible Napa Valley Cabernet at K. Laz Wine Collections

Nile Zacherly of Mad Fritz Talks Beer in Napa Valley

Master Sommelier Willie Sherer of Redd Restaurant on Holiday Wine Picks!

Biodynamic DaVero Owner Ridgely Evers Talks Olive Farming and Wine

Catch you next time.

Kerrin Laz of K. Laz Wine Collections

Collectible Napa Valley Cabernet at K. Laz Wine Collection

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K. Laz Wine Collection Yountville Tasting Room

It’s the Who’s Who of the California wine world in this episode of SommTalks. Tune in to hear informative and passionate Kerrin Laz talk about her access to the wines she pours in her Yountville tasting room K. Laz Wine Collection.

Laz is consider THE authority on California wine, spending over a decade at Dean and DeLuca, sourcing and selling the most sought after wines in the Napa Valley. She provides access to wines from wineries that may not allow visitors or don’t open to the public, and have such limited production that access to a tasting in virtually improbable.

Laz’s ten years as the arbiter of fine wine with Dean & DeLuca allowed her the opportunity to taste then introduce these wines to the public, even before many had garnered their ratings and cult status. Providing wine to consumers ahead of the “popularity/ratings” curve was her mark and she carries this on at K. Laz Wine Collections.  The collection is available for sale or for tasting in one of the four tasting options: The Taster, The Artisan, The Cult or The Centurion. There’s also a wine club consumers can join to receive regular shipment, tailored to one’s palate.

Most of the wines she champions are still privately owned, typically by a family, rather than a large conglomerate. She appreciates her symbiotic relationship with her wineries, as well, exposing them to her ever changing clientele as their winery wine club members may be aging.

Laz continues to taste newer and up-and-coming wines to help place them in the competitive California wine landscape. Hear about the tailored tastings at K. Laz, from a Cabernet Sauvignon tasting only to one including Pinot Noir with Chardonnay. Each tasting appointment is crafted for the desires of the client so each tasting is unique. Tune in for an upcoming episode to taste wines with Laz.

Please Listen to Past Episodes and Subscribe

You can check out the past few episodes but if you SUBSCRIBE , you’ll receive each new episode right to your device, whichever one you listen to your podcasts on.  Share episodes across social media channels, as well, to let others discover our wine conversations. A few of the most recent include:

Nile Zacherly of Mad Fritz Talks Beer in Napa Valley

Master Sommelier Willie Sherer of Redd Restaurant on Holiday Wine Picks!

Biodynamic DaVero Owner Ridgely Evers Talks Olive Farming and Wine

Catch you next time.

Venerable Three Sticks Winemaker Bob Cabral Talks Pinot Noir & Chardonnay in Sonoma County

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Three Sticks Winemaker Bob Cabral Re-Caps an Amazing Transition

Listen on as venerable winemaker Bob Cabral talks about his fame-establishing career with William Selyem and his transition to Three Sticks Wines in Sonoma. Cabral talks of his love for specific sites where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay express themselves and his new mission to usher in the next generation of winemakers. He feels he can achieve another 100-point Pinot Noir.

Tune in soon for a tasting of the Three Sticks Wines from specific terrior across Sonoma from Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Coast and Carneros, to name a few. 

Please Listen to Past Episodes and Subscribe

You can check out the past few episodes but if you SUBSCRIBE , you’ll receive each new episode right to your device, whichever one you listen to your podcasts on.  Share episodes across social media channels, as well, to let others discover our wine conversations. A few of the most recent include:

Nile Zacherly of Mad Fritz Talks Beer in Napa Valley

Master Sommelier Willie Sherer of Redd Restaurant on Holiday Wine Picks!

Biodynamic DaVero Owner Ridgely Evers Talks Olive Farming and Wine

Catch you next time.

Nile Zacherle of Mad Fritz talks Beer in Napa Valley

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Wowed by Napa Valley Beer Mad Fritz

For a real eye opener in this wave of craft beers, take a look, listen and then go taste the beers of Brewmaster Nile Zacherle of Mad Fritz in St. Helena, California. Learn a bit about Zacherle’s history as a winemaker and fermentation scientist then his foray into beer making, although he’s been playing around with it since he was a teen.

You can come in by appointment and see the operation then get onto the mailing list. Ya can’t buy these beers at a local retailer so hurry in.

Wowed by Napa Valley Beer Mad Fritz

Tune in and hear the entire story then come on back in a few weeks for a tasting of several of his beers.

Please Listen to Past Episodes and Subscribe

You can check out the past few episodes but if you SUBSCRIBE , you’ll receive each new episode right to your device, whichever one you listen to your podcasts on.  Share episodes across social media channels, as well, to let others discover our wine conversations. A few of the most recent include:

Master Sommelier Willie Sherer of Redd Restaurant on Holiday Wine Picks!

Biodynamic DaVero Owner Ridgely Evers Talks Olive Farming and Wine

Catch you next time.

Ridgely Evers of DaVero Farms and Winery

SommTalks Wine Tasting with Ridgely Evers of DaVero

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Tasting the Wines of DaVero Farms and Winery

If you tuned in a few weeks ago, you heard the fascinating interview with DaVero Farms and Winery owner Ridgely Evers. You can here that one right here. Now, tune in for the tasting portion of the interview and get the virtual sips of several of those wines and olive oils.

Here, we taste the following:

2014 DaVero Primitivo

Croatian in origin, the Primitivo we generally have in California goes by the name “Zinfandel”. Dry Creek Valley, where DaVero Farms and Winery is located is Mediterranean in terrior and creates a robust yet balanced Zinfandel. This block is actually on the border of Dry Creek in the Russian River Valley, grown in the extremely old world and venerable Ponzo Vineyard. Phil Ponzo dry farms the grapes in a vineyard that’s tended to in a less orderly manner than typical new world vineyards.

He considers this a gateway wine with the leanness, rather than extremely full-bodied and extracted. We taste the wine next to the DaVero Meyer Lemon olive oil.

2013  DaVero Impossible Red Blend

Impossible this wine is a blend of Montepulcioano, Nebbiolo and Sagrantino, three grapes that would be an extremely unlikely blend in Italy, where the three grapes hail from. Aged strictly in older wood barrels, the wine gains the body from the aging but not the wood tannins. These grapes are grown on the main DaVero property which is fully biodynamic.

Again, we taste the wine with their Olio Novo, their freshest youngest extra virgin olive oil.

Please Listen to Past Episodes and Subscribe

You can check out the past few episodes but if you SUBSCRIBE , you’ll receive each new episode right to your device, whichever one you listen to your podcasts on.  Share episodes across social media channels, as well, to let others discover our wine conversations. A few of the most recent include:

Master Sommelier Willie Sherer of Redd Restaurant on Holiday Wine Picks!

Biodynamic DaVero Owner Ridgely Evers Talks Olive Farming and Wine

Honor Mansion’s Steve Fowler Talks Healsdburg and more

Hugh Davies of Schramsberg on Wine for the Holidays

Napa Valley Film Festival Featured Winemaker Anthony Bell of “Decanted”

Stewart Cellars Blair Guthrie on their new Yountville Tasting Room

Check Out Del Frisco Chicago’s New Wine Director Amy Lutchen

Frank Altamura of Altamura Winery and Vineyard on wines and local produce at Ciccio

2016 Napa Valley Harvest with Opus One Winemaker Michael Silacci

Wine Tasting Series:

SOMMTALKS Wine Tasting Series with Amy Lutchen of Del Frisco’s Chicago

SOMMTALKS Wine Tasting Series with Tony Rossi of Enolo Wine Cafe Chicago

SOMMTALKS Wine Tasting Series with Marcello and Meredith of Swift & Sons

SOMMTALKS Wine Tasting Series: Jon McDaniel of Acanto, A Lawless Restaurant 

SOMMTALKSWine Tasting Series: Parag Lalit of Sixteen in Trump Tower Chicago 

Catch you next time!

Liz Mendez Sommelier at Vera Chicago

Taste Portuguese Wines with Liz Mendez of Vera Chicago

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Loving Those Portuguese Still Wines with Liz Mendez of Vera

We know our Port but do we all give the still wines of Portugal enough attention? Listen in as Liz Mendez of Vera Restaurant in Chicago picks a few of her favs. Mendez is best known for her encyclopedic knowledge of Sherry, and she discussed this with me in my past Date with a Somm article in Somm Journal. Now, she goes into her second love of Portuguese wines, many of which are on her acclaimed wine list. 

Now, tune in for her Portuguese wine suggestions below:

2012 Alvaro Castro, Encruzado, Dao Region Portugal

Mendez likens this to a Chardonnay, reminding her of Chablis and even a California Chardonnay with it’s body and weight. She feels that’s the connection for a consumer to make, to try this new wine.

Flavors range from lemon meringue pie due to richness of lees aging, plus a hint of sweetness rounds off the robust weight, This Encruzado also has a nice pop of acidity. Mendez feels this could please both the Sauvignon Blanc fan as well as the classic Chardonnay fan. She could see pairing this with crab, olives or a starter of Manchego cheese.

2011 Symington Pombal do Vesuvio,  Douro Valley,  Touriga Franca and Touriga National

Mendez considers this Douro Valley the “heart of Bordeaux” in Portugal. The aromas remind her of Bordeaux wines that are ready to drink, even while this is made of two indigenous grapes for the Douro region rather than those Bordeaux varietals. The structure is what reminds her distinctly of French wine even while this wine is a bit fresher tasting and approachable. It’s an extremely food friendly wine served at Vera, and she especially likes it with the classic dish Fabada, a white bean stew  with pork and chorizo.

Portugal has found its way into Mendez’s heart and she adores promoting these wines at the restaurant.

Please Listen to Past Episodes and Subscribe

You can check out the past few episodes but if you SUBSCRIBE , you’ll receive each new episode right to your device, whichever one you listen to your podcasts on.  Share episodes across social media channels, as well, to let others discover our wine conversations. A few of the most recent include:

Master Sommelier Willie Sherer of Redd Restaurant on Holiday Wine Picks!

Biodynamic DaVero Owner Ridgely Evers Talks Olive Farming and Wine

Honor Mansion’s Steve Fowler Talks Healsdburg and more

Hugh Davies of Schramsberg on Wine for the Holidays

Napa Valley Film Festival Featured Winemaker Anthony Bell of “Decanted”

Stewart Cellars Blair Guthrie on their new Yountville Tasting Room

Check Out Del Frisco Chicago’s New Wine Director Amy Lutchen

Frank Altamura of Altamura Winery and Vineyard on wines and local produce at Ciccio

2016 Napa Valley Harvest with Opus One Winemaker Michael Silacci

Wine Tasting Series:

SOMMTALKS Wine Tasting Series with Amy Lutchen of Del Frisco’s Chicago

SOMMTALKS Wine Tasting Series with Tony Rossi of Enolo Wine Cafe Chicago

SOMMTALKS Wine Tasting Series with Marcello and Meredith of Swift & Sons

SOMMTALKS Wine Tasting Series: Jon McDaniel of Acanto, A Lawless Restaurant 

SOMMTALKSWine Tasting Series: Parag Lalit of Sixteen in Trump Tower Chicago 

Catch you next time!

SOMMTALKS Wine Tasting Series with Vance Rose of Grieve Family Wines

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SOMMTALKS Wine Tasting Series:

Grieve Family Winery Winemaker Vance Rose Walks Through a Tasting

Winemaker Vance Rose talks to us and shares several of the estate grown Sauvignon Blancs from Grieve Family. Watch a few of the videos of the property then taste these wines with us. The first wine we taste is:

2014 Grieve Family Winery Sauvignon Blanc.  This is not your typical  California Sauv blanc. This wine is quite unique due to the tiny area and the winemaking technique. This wine is not grassy or race rather it’s floral with apricot and a hint of clove spices.

Rose discussed the ripening progression of Sauvignon blanc, from jalepeno pepper to bell pepper, asparagus and green bean into the spectrum of fruit, from grapefruit, honeydew and then finally, to stone fruit, including apricots, nectarines and finally, guava. Depending on when the grape is picked and the amount of direct sunlight, it takes on these elements progressively. This is unique to this particular grape Sauvignon Blanc.

We next move into their signature Napa Valley Bordeaux blend:

2012 Double Eagle Red Bland, Grieve   This wine is comprised of 42% Cabernet Sauvignon from St. Helena (Napa), 38% Merlot from the Lovall Valley Loop vineyard, 20% Cabernet Franc from St. Helena as well. Here, he feels the Cab Franc plays a big role in the wine, the same way a spic is added to a dish. Tune in to hear more details from this passionate and articulate winemaker, who’s also a chef so speaks from an educated palate.

You can check out the past few episodes but if you SUBSCRIBE , you’ll receive each new episode right to your device, whichever one you listen to your podcasts on.  Share episodes across social media channels, as well, to let others discover our wine conversations. A few of the most recent include:

Master Sommelier Willie Sherer of Redd Restaurant on Holiday Wine Picks!

Biodynamic DaVero Owner Ridgely Evers Talks Olive Farming and Wine

Honor Mansion’s Steve Fowler Talks Healsdburg and more

Hugh Davies of Schramsberg on Wine for the Holidays

Napa Valley Film Festival Featured Winemaker Anthony Bell of “Decanted”

Stewart Cellars Blair Guthrie on their new Yountville Tasting Room

Check Out Del Frisco Chicago’s New Wine Director Amy Lutchen

Frank Altamura of Altamura Winery and Vineyard on wines and local produce at Ciccio

2016 Napa Valley Harvest with Opus One Winemaker Michael Silacci

Wine Tasting Series:

SOMMTALKS Wine Tasting Series with Amy Lutchen of Del Frisco’s Chicago

SOMMTALKS Wine Tasting Series with Tony Rossi of Enolo Wine Cafe Chicago

SOMMTALKS Wine Tasting Series with Marcello and Meredith of Swift & Sons

SOMMTALKS Wine Tasting Series: Jon McDaniel of Acanto, A Lawless Restaurant 

SOMMTALKSWine Tasting Series: Parag Lalit of Sixteen in Trump Tower Chicago 

Catch you next time!