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Celebrating the joy of wine and the joy of living a life of Introspection and Inquiry.

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Until then, here are the latest musings from our fearless leader, CJ Callen…


A Scandalous Wine Tasting!

“I heard the call, “Go East, Birthday Girl!” So I did.

First stop, the not at all scandalous tasting, which was wickedly good. I sat on a stool at Broc Cellars in Berkeley and had a leisurely, dare-I-say, mindful tasting of wine.  Took home a Valdiguié (can you say the Gamay of Napa?) and a Vine Starr Zinfandel (thinking ahead about Labor Day BBQ) . 

By the way, I was out of usual tasting mode and swallowed – it was a wine drinking day and a fine one at that.

Second stop, happy birthday to Bay Grape! I had to ...

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In the Heat of the Taste: A Weekend in Italy (by way of Berkeley)

Heat wave, woo hoo! Yes, I love warm weather but live in a city that rarely tops 65 degrees. Saturday, it was warm across the Bay and I headed east to taste an Italian flight at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants. When I arrived I saw a gentleman with a wine sack. “What did you buy?” I inquired. He then pulled out a White that he could only find at the Spanish Table as well as a 2001 gran reserva Rioja. He was beaming.

I was a little early so I stepped into the shop and decided it was a good ...

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Fun in Napa Followed by Fears of the “Wine Police”

Last week I had an urban wine experience in the most unexpected of places: Napa. This was  my first trip to the Crusher District in Napa where I attended a tasting hosted by the Wine Foundry, a full service shop where you can make/sell/buy/custom label wine. Does anyone remember Crushpad? The Wine Foundry is seriously in the production business, offering its services to novices and established winemakers alike. And they know how to throw a good party complete with disco ball (a stroke of genius to add the perfect bit of whimsy)!

I had a good time and tasted wines ...

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HAPPY: On Bottling Bliss in Berkeley

On Tuesday I –the proverbial “not a morning person” — got up at 5:50 am to head to Berkeley to hit the bottling line at 8 am at Donkey & Goat winery in Berkeley, California. Much gratitude to nearby Philz coffee and Donut Dolly for helping me fuel up a little after 7 am. Without your great food and drink I might have fallen asleep into the machine and end up bottled myself. I arrived and saw the “On Site Mobile Wine Bottlers” truck on the lot – what a great service for small wineries. The taglines says it all: ...

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Battling with the Brix

The line-up of our gracious host, Campovida.

“Oh please, oh please, oh please.” That was the tagline to my Facebook post asking friends to join me at a Rhone wine tasting event last Saturday in Oakland at Campovida Wines. It worked! I had a tasting companion who made the event all the more enjoyable. This was a North Coast Rhone Rangers’ event – that’s a regional chapter of the national group Rhone Rangers, as you would imagine. And we tasted all that you would imagine at such an event: Syrah Grenache, Mouvedre, Viognier, etc. BTW, of the 22 traditional grape ...

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When it’s been a BAD Week, Should You Open the GOOD stuff?

That was my dilemma during a particularly bad week I March when I had 3 bits of bad news. My friends were so kind; they lent their support and reminded me that things come in threes. unfortunately, then came the fourth blow – and most devastating one. I had to face dishonestly, deceit, disrespect, and outright cruelty.

But this is a wine blog and so back to the subject of what to do wine wise when the world throws you lemons. You can’t make wine with them. Part of me felt so low I was tempted to go to Trader ...

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You Like It “Lean & Mean”? Ode to Old-School Pinot Noir.

One day a wine merchant said that it sounded like I preferred that “lean” style of Pinot Noir. Hmmm, I did not know that it came in a “fat” version at that time. Since then, I have learned about the modern clones that produce that cola-cherry flavor, which, quite frankly, does not taste like Pinot to me. I tried one recently and on the nose was stung by the strong scent of over-ripe fruit; to no surprise, my palate was not pleased when it met this Pinot – someone later extolled its virtues to me because they love how “big” ...

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Week 22: I’m Back! And Wanna Know, Does Your Neighborhood Wine Bar Matter?

I am not one for wine bar bashing. Yes, there are more than a few. The Trick is finding the one (or two) that you can call home. What are you looking for in a wine bar that would make you want to come back again and again?

  • I am looking for a place to lounge – that means it needs to comfortable and I need not to be hurried. Remember, I believe in mindfulness in eating and drinking.
  • I am looking for a place with an interesting selection of wines. It does not have to be the largest collection
...

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The Tasting Room Goes …

Lounge. Yes, as we all tire of the in-n-out tasting room experience, some wineries are creating a new experience for wine lovers. It favors slow over fast, conversation over banter, and mindfulness over mindlessness in tasting (I hope).

While in West Sonoma County, please check out:

Paul Mathew Vineyards in Graton.

Cartograph Wines in Healdsburg.

Wine Guerilla in Forestville.

And let me know what you experienced. I plan on checking these places out as well, hoping they will charm and delight my weary tasting room soul. Thank you Sonoma Discoveries magazine for spotting this trend.

While at it, please remember ...

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Question: When is a Pinot Noir more like a Cabernet Franc?

Answer: When it comes from Erich Weber of Hofgut Falkenstein vineyards in the Mosel region of Germany.

I have confessed my love of Pinot Noir recently but Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley is an old love – I adore both its aromatics and its tantalizing leanness (and yes, there is such a thing.)

When I bought this bottle of German Pinot Noir (the domestic name is “Spätburgunder”), it was because I had not tasted Pinot from Germany before. I am a big fan of trying-the-one-I-haven’t-tasted before. You know my mantra: find the one you love but don’t stop there. ...

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