Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Fresno State "Celebration of Wine" and recap of May

This past Sunday, June 1st we made our way back to the central valley to enjoy some company and dinner with some friends and attend the annual "Celebaration of Wine" which is put on by the Fresno State Enology Alumni Association. This is the second year at a new venue a lovely park setting on the river. The weather could have not been better, about 80 degrees with a gentle breeze, not the usual conditions for an event held in the valley on the first of June. The event was well attended, and they have a trade hour prior to the start of the event, which game the opportunity to go out and try some other wines before the start of the event. I got to try a pomegranate Mead which was unique as well as reminisce with a few fellow winemakers whom I rarely get to see anymore.

It was nice to talk to the crowd and for most of them it was an introduction to Barreto Cellars and the wines that we make. Our booth was positioned between the booths of an Italian restaurant and an Asian fusion restaurant, this made it simple to suggest wines to try, I just had to look at their plate. If they had Pasta with Ragu sauce I would suggest the Tempranillo, if it was shrimp tempura or orange chicken Touriga was the recommendation. I did get the chance to see a couple of friends from college, which added to an already fun afternoon.

I need to apologise for not reporting on happenings for May, but it was a busy but tedious month. Most big happenings were for my day job at Sylvester Winery, May means WineFest in Paso Robles and most of the month was dedicated to preparing for the event. With regards to Barreto Cellars, I did manage to get out and walk some of the blocks on the Huehuero ranch and see how things were progressing and I topped and tasted the 2007 wines to make sure that they were still on track.

June will see the bottling of the 2006 reds and the 2007 Verdelho, a very nervous time as everything comes down to bottling day, it is the feeling you get after you hand in a term paper, did you remember to do this, what if you had done that, but you cannot change it any more.

Lastly on the gardening front. Since I have not mentioned them since planting, once the seedlings got established, I was able to scatter them among friends and family, from Madera to Paso Robles, SLO and Arroyo Grande. Some are good and happy others are a little weaker. We should have some cabbage by the end of the June. I will report back report back with a recipe for Caldo Verde soup.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Tempranillo out in force at Monterey Street Wine Co.

Last night, Friday I was the featured guest at Monterey Street Wine Company in San Luis Obispo. I was there to discuss the flight of Tempranillo wines being poured. Thank you to all who came out to taste the wines and support us.

The flight was designed to start out with an approachable and inviting Spanish version of the Tempranillo variety and establish and old world reference. The wine was Codice from the Dominio de Erugen of Spain. It is very new world on the nose (fruity and oaky) with a simple but inviting mouthfeel and finish.

Then it was off to California for a Tempranillo from Barreto Cellars and the appellation of Lodi, the wine was showing very nice with spicy oak notes and an abundance of ripe fruit on the front and a soft finish. Next Twisted Oak was up with its Calaveras County release. Spicy and jammy with ripe fruit and good body.

Venturing North, the Umpqua Cuvee from Abacela Winery of Oregon was poured. A blend of different vineyards from the region give a good sense of terroir, relaying that the grapes do not originate from a dreary, cool and wet region like most people associate with Oregon wine regions. Dark in color and firm tannins with cherry earthy notes relay the varieties European heritage. The Barreto Cellars from Paso Robles was then poured, which exhibited mature and complex dark fruit with a gentle spiciness conveying the wines aging process. The wine was full in body with firm yet ripe tannins and a gentle yet lengthy finish.

I wrapped up the flight by bringing out a bottle of single barrel Barreto Cellars-Arroyo Grande Tempranillo. This wine wrapped things up very nicely with it fruit forward nose, dark color, deep concentration and complex tannin structure.

I enjoyed working with John of Monterey Street Wine Company to set up this tasting and bring some of the faces of Tempranillo to all those that attended. Once again thank you to all that attended and to George for being a blog loyal reader.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Barreto Port heading off to Switzerland

This past week Joey and Cindy took a day out of their spring break to package up some of our Port styled wine for shipment to Switzerland. We are honored to know that our wine will end up in some of the finest restaurants in Zurich and poured side by side with true Port from Portugal.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Family Winemakers Trade Pouring-Pasadena

This last Tuesday, the 18th was the annual trade pouring at the Pasadena convention center. The Family Winemakers of California is a trade group that helps promote a lot of the smaller "family" owned wineries in the state, as well as many of the larger family wineries. It is one of the few trade groups that I belong to because of the exposure the two annual events provide me to both trade and consumers. The consumer event is August 24th at Fort Mason, if you get the chance it is a must do.

I had to work the event by my self as no one had any free to go with me. This made things very busy for me, and did not allow me the opportunity to get out and see any of the other wineries, but that was fine. I did have the opportunity to meet with a lot of clients that I haven't seen for a while or met at all. I also had the opportunity to introduce the wines to a lot of people who were unfamiliar with the varieties that I produce.

The Paso Robles Tempranillo is always the hit of the show, but I did have a bottle of the "Regal de la Vinya" as a preview of coming attractions and it was well received. It will take a few weeks for the results to reveal themselves but an increased presence in Southern California should be the result.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Spring planting season

It appears that spring is here, so it is time to start growing some vegetables. I have ordered seeds to grow a Portuguese cabbage (Beira Tronchuda) which is the basis of the famous soup called Cald Verde, which is served though out the country in many different incarnations. I also procured some pepper seeds (De Padron) These are used though out Spain as a appetizer. They grow to be small peppers about 2 to 4 inches in length. All that you do with them is quickly pan fry them with some olive oil, sprinkle with salt and enjoy, their reputation is to be very mild except there will usually be a random one that will be "Fire Hot" it comes down to luck of the draw.
I planted a tray of cabbage and a tray of Peppers, hopefully we will have a good harvest.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Smells like "Fruit Loops" a new wine descriptor

After tasting through the new vintage, I am pleased to report that the vintage is above average, here are a few brief notes on some of the barrel lots and how they are progressing.

Verdelho barrel aged: Nice typical notes of Honeysuckle with a nice round finish.

Lodi Tempranillo: Ripe berry fruit with hints of oak.

Paso Tempranillo (Huerohuero): Delicate fruit aromas with a Pinot Noir elegance.

Paso Tempranillo (Ohana): Deep color, dark fruit, firm tannins and complexity.

Grenache/Carignane co-ferment: These are the wines that make up our "Regal de la Vinya" blend. There were two lots as an experiment, The first was fermented in 300L headless barrels and the second was tank fermented and pumped over twice a day. The barrel ferment showed delicate and complex aromas and the tank ferment was richer with a higher degree of extraction and color with more aggressive tannins.

Touriga Lodi: Here it is the new descriptor, usually this wine has a very upfront aroma of curry, but this vintage all I could come up with is "Fruit Loops", if you open a box and smell, there it is. Good color and structure go along with the fruit component.

Touriga Paso: There are actually two lots of Paso Touriga; young block and old block. The Young block was fermented in a 1.5 ton bin and has great color, structure and aromas, more to darker fruit that the Lodi. The Old block was fermented in barrels with the heads removed, this wine shows its strenght by being able to be exposed to 100% new oak for fermentation and still be full of fruit with only minor oak nuances. Also this is developing a nice depth and complexity that I hope will continue to evolve.

Tannat Paso: A monstrous wine with a good ripeness and great extraction, the color is dark and the tannins are firm and gripping.

Port Lodi: The move to foot stomping of the component wines is definitely showing in the wines. the extraction is tremendous, with great color, fruit, tannins and the right balance of sweetness.

Port Paso: There is finally enough fruit available to make a Paso Robles appellation port. A blend of Tempranillo, Touriga and Souzao. It is nice to compare and contrast to the Lodi fruit. The fruit components are riper and closer to stone fruits and red fruits in the wine from Lodi, while the Paso wine is to the darker end of the spectrum, both visually and aromatically.

I try and not judge vintages until a few months have passed and the wine are starting to relax in their ageing vessels. I can now say that there is some nice material out there for creating the 2007 wines.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Barrel topping Saturday

The first of March saw the first time when some schedule can be set for checking and evaluating the 2007 wines. All of the 2007 barrels were sampled and were checked for free SO2, a means of preserving the wine as it ages. There is only one 07 that has not finished its secondary fermentation, but with spring temperatures rapidly approaching, it should not be long. It is exciting to go through and taste each of the barrels and see how the oak is working with the wines. In particular I brought in barrels from a cooper that is based in Portugal. The oak is French, but the staves are dried, and the barrels are constructed and toasted in Portugal. After topping each barrel, they will be set back to age for another 4 to 6 weeks before repeating the process.

Monday, February 18, 2008

San Francisco Chronicle Event

Last weekend was the Tasting for medal winners of the San Francisco Chronicle wine competition, held at Fort Mason in San Francisco. I find it one of the best and largest wine pouring events out there. I enjoy attending almost as pouring. It also is a good excuse to head into the city and have a fun weekend.

We always try and stop by Tomasso's for dinner and Friday was no exception, they have the best Italian restaurant in town the fettucini with Dungeness crab is incredible, it is the special of the month. This was the first time to have the soon to be released "Regal de la Vinya", Carignane/Grenache blend out in public, it proved itself to be versatile with many types of food.

Saturday was busy getting ready for the tasting and introducing the masses of people to our wonderful wines, such as our Tempranillo, Vinho Tinto and Port. The wines were received well, we added a few new members to the wine club and got to see some old friends that we haven't seen for a few months. After the event, we met another winemaker friend at Bobo's steakhouse and took turns sampling wines with different foods, one of the funnest parts of the job. The Paso Tempranillo was really showing itself as a robust yet well mannered accompaniment to the dinner.