Review: 2013 Leoness White Merlot

Funnily enough, my future father-in-law loves this sweet easy drinker. The 2013 Leoness White Merlot is a hit in the tasting room at this Temecula winery because it’s the everyman rose. Too sweet for my taste to have too often– I prefer the 2012 La Ferme Julien Rose and for those who like it with a bit more body, dry and tart, go for the 2011 Carol Shelton Rendezvous Rose–but it’s perfect for a date night in with a comedy rolling on the tube.

And that’s exactly how I enjoyed this strawberrylicious wine. Seriously, you could drop a little seltzer in there and get some strawberry soda (I’m not recommending you do this, but I’m just trying to make a point about how juicy this rosy partner is).


As we VOD’d “The Interview” and channeled Dave Skylark, my other half and I finished this rose in one sitting. The longlasting flavor gives you a full-mouth feel.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Leoness
  • Type: Rose
  • Origin: Temecula
  • Price: $21 ($15.75 wine club, which I’m part of. This came in our quarterly package)
  • Alcohol content: 12.5%
  • When to drink: While watching a comedy on your couch, while snacking on some peanut butter popcorn, because, why not?

Review: 2013 Kenwood Vineyards Reserve Sauvignon Blanc

The first thing I thought of when taking a sip of the 2013 Kenwood Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc was: Spritzy! I felt a surprise party in my mouth! No, really.

This very bright wine, that has a little oily nature, was unexpectedly acidic. It was stored in stainless steel tanks, so that could have been the reason for the extra bubble. It’s fruit-forward and tangy, the lemony/sour notes were honestly a bit overwhelming.


What did my other half have to say about this Sauvignon Blanc? Our exchange below:

Me: “So love, what do you think? It’s lemony right?”
My boy: “It reminds me of cough syrup.”
Me: “So it’s bad then.”
My boy: “No, cough syrup is delicious.”

I’m still not sure if he was being sarcastic…

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Kenwood Vineyards
Type: Sauvignon Blanc
Origin: Sonoma
Vintage: 2013
Price: $19.99. Purchased during BevMo 5 cent wine sale, so got two for one!
Alcohol content: 13.5%
When to drink: This Sauvignon is a good everyday drinker, if you like Lemon Drops! Actually, that’s a good idea, pair this wine with some sour patch kids and watch a funny movie on Netflix.

Review: 2012 Danza del Sol Gewürztraminer

Gervertminer. Guhvetzmeener. Guvoortztrameener. Ahhh, always so hard to pronounce, but the last transliteration is the way to go.

Anyhow, this German grape makes for some sweet, fruity wine and this Temecula Valley version is no different.

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The 2012 Danza del Sol Gewürztraminer is a bit creamy, with hints of melon. It leaves a tingly feeling on your tongue, not quite like sparkling water, but there’s some spritiness there.

I visited this winery with my cousin for her bachelorette outing. It looked like a traditional Temecula winery, all fake Tuscany, but the wine was mostly OK and you get a free glass with your tasting, plus it’s waiver when you buy a bottle, a pretty typical offering in Temecula. However, I think for $26, this Gewürztraminer is overpriced.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Danza del Sol
  • Type: Gewürztraminer
  • Origin: Temecula
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $26
  • Alcohol content: 12.5%
  • When to drink: On a drunken winery tour. Finish this bottle at the winery. If you take it home to drink the luster may wear off and you’ll be scratching your head as to why you spent $26 on wine.





Review: 2012 Pacific Redwood Organic Cabernet Sauvignon

When I left my old job recently to start a new adventure, a wine-loving friend gave me a bottle of the 2012 Pacific Redwood Organic Cabernet Sauvignon with this premise: It was the best organic wine that he’s ever had.

I was a little skeptical of organic wine, admittedly, and was also skeptical of wine from Redwood Valley with a bunch of trees on the label–all very superficial concerns, I know.

The wine was tart on the intake–perhaps my fault for not letting breathe, I can be a bit impatient–but then the Cab sweetened up a bit, leaving me thinking, eh. By the finish, I experienced a little kick of spice.


This is definitely some fruit-forward business that was kind of vanilla-y all wrapped up in some round tannins.

The bottle explains that this wine “contains only naturally occurring sulfates.” Sulates are preservatives, so important to keep wine fresh, especially whites. However, I am technically allergic to sulfates. But I love wine. I know, it’s a conundrum. Basically I get a very flush face and neck when I drink wine. I don’t notice it as much as my drinking partner, so that’s a plus. I did notice that I didn’t get as flush from drinking this wine, real effects or placebo, perhaps?

The label also notes that the wine is vegan. That got me thinking, which wine isn’t?! That subject to be tackled in a future blog post. Have some guidance for me? Tell me in the comments?

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Pacific Redwood
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Redwood Valley
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: gifted; $10 on
  • Alcohol content: 12.8%
  • When to drink: With all your hippie vegan friends while camping

Review: 2013 Leoness Muscat Canelli

I know the summer is over when I head to the Hollywood Bowl for the final time of the season. No more potluck picnics and al fresco wine in the bench seats, sigh.

My last trip a few days ago to see Cat Power and the Pixies play, I brought along a flirty, sweet wine to numb the sadness.


The 2013 Leoness Muscat Canelli doesn’t have much depth nor bouquet–it just smells like grape skins to me–but it does have nice single-dimensional flavors of sweet peach and apricot. It’s made in stainless steel, giving it a little spritzy kick.

This is a pretty simple, sweet table wine that you won’t have to think about.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Leoness
  • Type: Muscat
  • Origin: Temecula
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Price: $15 club price, $20 regular
  • Alcohol content: 11.4%
  • When to drink: Picnicking on a hot day

Review: 2013 Cline Pinot Gris

It’s the end of September and the temps are still topping 90 degrees here, so a fresh Pinot Gris is in order.

The 2013 Cline Pinot Gris smells like pears and apples and tastes like them, too. It’s spritzy and hits every corner of your mouth on the swig.

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According to the winemaker, the minerality of their wines comes from the cool growing location. The wine is a bit creamy at the end and kind of tangy, like the flavor of grape skins.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Cline
  • Type: Pinot Gris
  • Origin: Sonoma
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Price: $14
  • Alcohol content: 14.5%
  • When to drink: On a day when you have to stand in front of the fridge to keep cool. While you’re in there, grab a chilled bottle of the Cline Pinot Gris. Don’t blame me if your energy bill jumps.

Press Club in San Francisco

I went on a business trip to San Francisco and I couldn’t just go to the city by the bay and not hit up a wine bar and snag a cheese plate or two.

OK, I didn’t get a cheese plate, but I did get some lovely appetizers–squash blossoms and heirloom tomato salad? Yes, please.


I also tried a glass of wine on tap for the first time. It was a 2012 Preston Vineyards Dry Creek Valley GSM. My verdict: Not bad. This dark fruit wine is easy drinking. It’s light, but smells spicy and has a bold punch that lingers at the finish. That said though, it feels like it’s missing something.


This is a great location if you have a big group of people. There is lots of bar seating as they have several bars throughout, as well as lounge seating. It was busy on the Thursday night that I went, but still lots of space for more.


The bartender I had was very knowledgeable and we played a little game. After the glass of the wine on tap that I just wanted to try for the novelty, I chose a flight of reds that pitted US wineries v. Spain. The bartender had me guess which wine was which after tasting them all, which was a good test for me.

The Bethel Heights Pinot Noir (forgive me, menu didn’t have vintages) from the Wilamette Valley was tangy. It smelled fresh–like grass–and had an unexpected tangerine flavor. It was a bit astringent and not my favorite.

The Broadley Upper Five Pinot from Oregon was herby, crisp and tasted like red fruit. Better than the Bethel Heights, but not my fave of the four.


The Riojas Crianzas (no detail about winery on the menu) was medium-bodied and tasted of raspberries and other sour fruit. Overall, I thought it was a nice wine with soft tannins.

The Nita (no winery details on the menu) was a Grenache, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon blend. It was bold, plummy and had hints of dark licorice. It was chocalatey and almost porty without the alcoholic burn.

The Press Club is near the Powell St. Bart, 20 Yerba Buena Lane in San Fransisco.

Review: 2012 Kendall Jackson Pinot Noir Vintners Reserve

Yes, the 2012 Kendall Jackson Pinot Noir Vintners Reserve was pungent and peppery, two characteristics I look for in Pinot Noir, but something was off. It felt like I was drinking a watered down version of other Pinots I like.


The flavors were loose at first, but they picked up as the wine headed toward the back of my tongue, but not enough to save me from being disappointed.

This plummy wine also tastes of vanilla and a soft mouth feel, so the tannins were pretty supple. If you’re into that, this is for you. If you’re like me and want a little more punch, grab something else, like the 2012 Melville Estate Pinot Noir.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Kendall Jackson
  • Type: Pinot Noir
  • Origin: Santa Rosa
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $15
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: When you want a less expensive Pinot and you’re not in the mood for something tightly wound.

Review: 2012 Hahn Winery GSM

This blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourevedre is fruit-forward with a long, dry finish. The grenache makes it bold and the meaty mourevedre sews it all together. I tasted dark fruits–blackberries and blueberries–in this deep ruby-colored wine.



I enjoyed it a lot with some meaty pasta at one of my Favorite Italian joints, Fritto Misto, which lets you BYOB for just a $2 cork charge. Not bad.

This is a solid blend and I would recommend a buy.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Hahn Winery
  • Type: GSM (Grenache, 67%, Syrah, 28%, Mourevedre, 5%)
  • Origin: Napa
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $10-$20, according to
  • Alcohol content: Forgot to write it down, shame on me!
  • When to drink: I think this is a solid everyday red wine. Always a good idea to have one in house when you need a bottle.

Review: 2011 Tangent Grenache Blanc

This wine comes from a sister label of Baileyana. I reviewed their Pinot Noir after my friend gave me a whole case of it post-work party.

I went to Baileyana’s Winery in San Luis Obispo with some friends after visiting Wolff Vineyards. Wolff was so much better by leaps and bounds. They brought you your pastings out on the patio and you could bring cheese and they even complimented me on my cheese choice (the Toscano soaked in Syrah from Trader Joe’s all day, everyday)! But at Baileyana’s it was hard enough to get anyone to notice you, and honestly the pours weren’t that stellar.


I bought the 2011 Tangent Grenache Blanc because on sale, it was about the same price as the tasting and if you bought a bottle, Baileyana waives the fee. So there you have it.

I opened up this screw top bottle of this straw yellow white wine and got a whiff of a grassy smell mixed in with citrus. In addition to the zest on the nose, it’s crisp in the mouth with a bit of bubbly acidity. It can be a bit sour and that citrus smell returns at the end, but the flavor quickly gets flabby by the finish.

Grenache Blanc is an interesting varietal and its seen more in Europe than in California. It tends to be blended with other whites, rather than standing on its own. It’s cousin, Grenache Noir, is certainly more well-known.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Tangent
  • Type: Grenache Blanc
  • Origin: San Luis Obispo
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Price: $10 on sale
  • Alcohol content: 14.5%
  • When to drink: I don’t think I’d recommend this wine on its own. If you want a good stand-alone Grenache Blanc, try the 2012 Epiphany Cellars Grenache Blanc.