Hidden Ridge 55% Slope Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

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You finally drink that last bottle of wine that held your heart for so long (boy do I need a significant other). That’s what happened to me over this weekend. The Hidden Ridge 55% Slope Cabernet 2009 was the first tremendously successful cab that I bought and sold at the wine shop. More than anyone else in Illinois (at least that’s what my wine rep told me and I’m going with that). Did a comparison tasting to their 2013 back a little over a year ago. Details here.

Excerpt from my previous post: “So you know the story, this is a wine that is made from grapes that happen to be on the West side of the Mayacamas Mountain range. That means it's Sonoma. On the East side rests Napa. That difference means a savings of a good 50% over Napa Cabs! The 55% means the grapes are literally grown on the mountain slopes that have a 55% slope to them (this means the vines struggle for their nutrients - a good thing). They are at an average altitude of 1500 feet, meaning they are mountain fruit (another good thing). They produce about 3,000 cases per year of this wine and a much smaller amount of what they call their Impassable Mountain Reserve. 2013 was rated 100 Points by Wine Advocate. Small production, you guessed it, another good thing.”

Not sure what prompted me to pull out that last bottle, maybe nostalgia, maybe the age of the wine, or maybe just looking for a great bottle of wine with dinner. Whatever the reason, when I opened the wine I was transported to the past to rekindle my love of this wine. There’s a sad note to this story; the winery was purchased some years ago and has been rebranded under Immortal Estate. There has, from what I can determine, been only one vintage produced so far, 2014, and am not sure of availability or how or if the wine has changed.

For now, I will have to be content with living in the past and holding out to drink that 2013.


Rebel Without a Cause

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Maybe a better title would be “Wineaux Without a Clue.”

Let me explain, pleeeese….

Before I even get started I know once I reveal the substance of this post I will here a roar of laughter from somms and other wine folk, even those across the Great Pond! I myself am wondering if maybe, unlike Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory” where he always insists that he’s not crazy because his mother had him tested, I, on the other hand, cannot make that same claim and should succumb to further testing.

Here it is. With my affinity (still not the wine) towards my love of pairing food with wine, I had a, what might only be concluded, as a psychotic break. As I mentioned in my last post, I want to start transitioning to more red wines versus all the whites that I’ve been doing for the Summer. So this particular evening I’m feeling in the mood for one of those big rich lush Napa Cabs in my cellar. Caution to the wind about food for the moment I scourer my cellar for just such a wine. And find:

O’Shaughnessy Napa Valley Cabernet 2014

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Since I recently did a review of this wine, and emptied one in my stomach back in July for good measure, this might have been redundant, but nothing like going to a wine you know to get that warm fuzzy feeling I so wanted this particular evening. (I really need to get a life, and possibly a woman!)

Next comes the meal planning. Just went to the store and while nothing exciting, I did pick up some Grass-Fed Ground Beef and some Salmon. I know what you’re thinking, best option, the beef. No not this rebel. I went straight for the Salmon. Not a total faux pas, but leaning in that direction. It’s what I added to the mixture that makes for an interesting (who am I kidding) ludicrous pairing.

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To go along with this laughable start, I added Asparagus (getting closer) and a Horseradish Cream Sauce (total defiant behavior for any true wineaux). Fish, Asparagus and Horseradish, what next? That was everything.

In my defense, what little there may be, the food was wonderful. The wine even more so. Just like a few months ago, the wine carried deep dark rich and lush fruit components with nice tannins and a long lingering but smooth finish. This was a great wine to help kick off my return to more red wines. Another item in my defense, I could have opted for the Mount Veeder or Howell Mountain wines, a much more serious infraction of wine etiquette, at least in my mind.

So now that the laughter has died down, at least I’m hoping so, I can return as a more “normal” wine advocate and start thinking about some food pairings that won’t get me laughed out of the collective.

No guarantees mind you, but without further testing (on me), I’ll have to presume that I’m fully functional and ready to take on the next challenge. I guess only time will tell. Until then I’m just a “Wineaux Without a Clue.”


Wayfarer Chardonnay Wayfarer Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Sonoma Coast 2015

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The end of Summer lies just off in the near future, temps are coming down to tolerable levels (at least here in Chicago) and soon the cold Winter months will bring cooler, no colder, temps that will help awaken our desire for those big bold and lush reds that we crave.

At least that’s the way I see it!

That’s why I’ve been reviewing an inordinate amount of white wines recently. This post is no exception.

The wine on the podium this time?

Wayfarer Chardonnay Wayfarer Vineyard Fort Ross-Seaview Sonoma Coast 2015


Like the wine itself; a mouthful! While I gave this wine a brief overview in a past post that focused on Pahlmeyer Wines (if you didn’t know, this wine is made by Pahlmeyer), I am now prepared to give it the full attention it deserves.

It’s the day after the long Labor Day weekend, I’ve faithfully bore the tradition of meat (Baby Back Ribs) cooked long and slow (oven cooked not grilled) and can now proceed with the rest of my agenda for the Summer. Rest assured I will be phasing out whites in favor of more reds. I couldn’t resist this one though. This year has been a white wine kind of year in my book. Starting with Champagne for the New Year, then followed up at the beginning of April with a trio of outstanding examples from Three Sticks then some Rosés and, as always, a smathering of Sauvignon Blancs.

As one might expect, my cellar contains many more reds than white wines. So when I finally decide to pull a white wine out from its perch, I choose carefully. I did so this time, as usual. Having planned a meal around shrimp for the evening, I had a pretty wide open palate to choose from for the wine. The only issue was how to prepare the shrimp. I’ve gotten back into stir-fry recently, so there you have it! Simple prep of Shrimp on rice with some veggies thrown together with an Asian sauce, but a sauce of moderate flavors overall.


As the wine chilled, I set about prepping the meal to determine the order of succession as to when to throw each item into the wok. It’s about at this point that I lose control and decide it’s time to open the wine. Remember, I’ve had this wine before in smaller quantities and was so favorably impressed, so waiting wasn’t really an option.

Just as I remembered. Wafting aromas of tropical fruit along with honeyed-ginger and somewhat nutty nuances. These same characteristics following through on the palate with a slight creaminess of texture and a wonderful balance of oak presence that led to a long and satisfying finish. I’ve come to realize, whom I kidding, I’ve known all along, this is my kind of Chardonnay. Coming from the relatively new AVA of Fort Ross-Seaview in the Sonoma Coast, the wine sees 15 months aging in 65% new French Oak barrels and undergoes full malo fermentation. For comparison only, the Pahlmeyer Chard is from Napa Valley and undergoes a little less oak aging but a greater percentage of new oak treatment. Both are spectacular. I’ll have to do a review of Pahlmeyer in the near future.

While 2015 isn’t the current vintage, I’ve sampled the 2016’s and find a slight edge to one or the other depending on my mood at the time. Both are excellent and for those with a penchant for great chardonnays, give these a try.