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The Rating System

 (95+) LOVE IT!~EXTRAORDINARY  Platinum Medal - An exceptional, ravishing wine that sets the standard against which other wines are judged

  (92-94)  SUPERB ~ REMARKABLE  Double Gold Medal

 (90-92)  DELICIOUS ~ EXCELLENT Gold Medal- A complex, concentrated wine that balances lush fruit flavors with refinement


 (85-87) LIKE IT~ GOOD  Bronze Medal - A pleasing wine with varietal distinctiveness


 (80-82) NEUTRALFAIR - A simple  quaffer for everyday drinking


 (75-77) DISLIKE IT ~ DEFICIENT -  An inferior, innocuous wine that borders on the flawed

Ranking: 1st, 2nd, 3rd

2014 Romancing the Rhones: 
Grand Tasting & Shootout Challenge

Saturday, September 27th
Noon to 4:00 p.m.  

Kensington Park Hotel
3rd Floor Historic Ballroom
450 Post Street @ Powell
San Francisco

Similar to our Cabernet Challenge in January, the Third Annual Romancing the Rhones,  cosponsored by the Bay Area Wine Society's PAIRINGS fundraising arm and Affairs of the Vine consists of five components:

  • a People's Choice blind tasting of the finalists of a previous judging conducted over the summer by experts: wine writers, winemakers, retailers, restaurateurs etc.
  • a VIP panel session at the public tasting of winemakers who specialize in Rhone style wines
  • a walk around Grand Tasting of over 20 wineries where guests can discuss Rhone releases with the vintners and winemakers while enjoying some nifty nibbles
  • a raffle and the sale of wines being poured  to support  Meals on Wheels which delivers healthy meals to homebound seniors 
  • following the presentation of the professional judges plus attendees best of tastings awards, a cash bar will be available after the tastings for those who want to linger.  And expect to be able to do some dancing
  • includes a membership in which offers discounted wines, tastings and tours

Following the awarding of the professional judges plus attendees best of tastings awards, a cash bar will be available for those who want to linger. 

The Affairs of the Vine professional judging panel is expected to evaluate approximately 300 Rhone wines, most from California and Oregon but some from Washington, Texas, Michigan, Australia, and France.  The wines range from Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah and blends, to Viognier, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, and Marsanne, plus Rosés of the red grapes.

 A core group from the judging panel, a diverse assemblage of over 50 wine professionals, will rate the wines over the summer. Only 32 wines will be tasted by the experts per day in multiple flights, allowing the judges to be completely immersed, focused and fair to the wines. Palate fatigue is not a factor in these tastings. The wines are tasted completely blind without reference to appellation, vintage or price.  Each wine submitted to the Rhone Shootout will be tasted a minimum of twice. Top rated wines are then tasted by the total panel of judges at the Rhone Shootout Finals to be held on August 16 . 

The Rhone Shootout judges’ decisions are put to the test during the Rhone Shootout Challenge  at  Romancing the Rhones public tasting in the Kensington Park hotel. 

Following a VIP winemakers panel,
  in a 
distinctly different format and atmosphere from other wine-tasting events, the at
tendees blind taste the wines and pit their palates against the pros. The wines are divided into two groupings, wrapped individually and identified by a random color. As with the expert judges, the male and female votes are tallied separately. Each participant is given 5 chips to vote for as many as 5 wines or as few as one, indicating their passion for each wine by the number of chips they drop in the “ballot box.”

The blind judging is followed by a walk around tasting allowing wine enthusiasts to discuss the wines entered in the competition with the vintners.The day concludes with the announcement of Best of the Best Rhones chosen by both the experts and the participants in the public voting.  Visit the Affairs of the Vine page to view  the voting results from our inaugural event.


~New categoryPay What You Wish General admission. Recommended discounted amount: $29 (includes $7 contribution to Meals on Wheels). Can be increased to raise contribuition or lowered down to $22 cost.
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Pay What you Wish for VIP admission which includes a winemakers panel . Recommended discounted amount: $35.  (includes $7 contribution to Meals on Wheels) 

Can be increased to raise contribuition or lowered down to $28 cost.

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~Regular price for Romancing the Rhones Shootout Taste-off + meet the vintners & sample their current releases including non Rhone wines  $69 Add to Cart

 ~Discount price for guests of Meetup/BAWS/Affairs of the Vine and participating wineries  $29
 Add to Cart  $49 for two Add to Cart       View Cart     

 ~Regular VIP ticket
 Winemakers panel + Rhones Shootout Taste-off + Meet the Vintners & sample their current releases including non Rhone wines:$89 Add to Cart

 ~Discount price VIP ticket [includes winemakers roundtable] for guests of BAWS/Affairs of the Vine and wine club members of participating wineries $35
 Add to Cart  Discount VIP tix  [includes winemakers roundtable] for two $59
  Add to Cart

QUESTIONS:  CALL  TOM  MERLE  707.337.3663 

  • July Picnic and Concert in Yountville 

Rather than eat near Lincoln Theater on the grounds of the Veterans Home,  I decided to eat in town at Addendum behind Thomas Kellar's Ad Hoc restaurant in the south part of town. 6476 Washinton. 

We enjoyed their renowned fried chicken and sides.  Members brought a variety of wines but none more unusual than the Wisconsin fruit wines brought all the way from her home state by Karen Quinn.

For several reasons that stem from lack of sufficient response and my standard M.O. trying to cram in too much in too short a time, I've cut back the program to focus on Lincoln Theater which they like to call, grandly, The Napa Valley Center for the Performing Arts.  We would leave the Farmer's Market tour, tasting, and lunch on the deck of the Hatt Building for another time.  After all the concert happens only once; we can do the Napa activities any weekend.  

As the first Napa chapter gathering, we got to know each other better.  We discussed how I would like to organize activities of this "chapter" of the Bay Area Wine Society/  I have in mind creating a kind of modern day informal  symposium of the sort practiced by the Ancient Greeks as described by Plato and in this Wikepedia article, but co-ed and more democratic. It will be pretty intellectually rigorous and not for a lot of people.  

The free community concert kicks off Festival del Sole’s celebration of the life and career of conductor Carlo Ponti's mom, Sophia Loren, who'll be there.  It also represents the debut of the chamber orchestra.


Armando Trovaioli, Suite from La Ciociara  
Daniel Brewbaker, Sinfonietta per Sofia  
Edvard Grieg, Holberg Suite, op.40  
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Neapolitan Song, op.63

Optional:  A few of us attended the Home Winemaker Classic at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, starting at 4 p.m. Here's the listing on Eventbrite:  

March Wineness: Urban Wineries of San Francisco 

Our first flight of new releases crafted by San Francisco based wineries from both Treasure Island and SOMA was held at the Pickwick Hotel @ 5th and Mission. We sampled 14 new releases from four San Francisco based wineries We had vintners or reps present to pour and discuss the wines.   Plenty of nibbles including charcuteries from Fabrique Delices and tri tip from the Vineburg Deli.

We also auctioned off a few bottles of gold medal winners from the Pinot Noir Showdown to raise funds for One Brick. and conducted our usual  taste-off to pick our favorites (we will simplify the scoring by relying on the selection system used at the CabChallenge in Jan.).  Wines being poured were available for sale through our eCommerce Third Party Provider program.

Here are most delicious wines based on the average of 14 individual voters among the attendees who participated in the taste-off:

Favorite Wine Under $30 ~   HEARTFELT WINES 2010 Petite Sirah Alexander Valley (winery price: $28/ price: $23)  

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Winemaker's statement: "This deep, dark, powerful red delivers expressions of plums and black cherries, with undertones of coconut, vanilla, and spices. Broad and balanced on the palate, this wine firms up nicely on the finish, where the tannins provide grip."

Favorite  Wine Over $30 A.P. VIN 2012 Pinot Noir Rosella's Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands $50  

Other high scorers

HEARTFELT WINES 2010 Inspiration Red Coombsville Napa Valley $62

A.P. VIN 2012 Pinot Noir Kanzler Vineyard Sonoma Coast $50

VIE 2010 Syrah, Las Madres Vineyard Los Carneros $39

Favorite White White  tie 

HEARTFELT WINES 2012 Chardonnay Russian River Valley 

VIE 2011 Roussanne Lake County $16

Best Bang for the Buck

WINERY SF 2010 People’s Blend North Coast $16

VIE 2011 Roussanne Lake County $16

We moved the program back a week so we were not holding this program to coincide with  “Third Thursdays in Yerba Buena,” a monthly night of art, performance, food and drink in the Yerba Buena neighborhood, San Francisco’s arts and culture district in downtown San Francisco. We did, however, do this for our April program at the Museum of Performance + Design.

Cabernet Challenge
The Old Mint ~ 
January 18, 2014

Noon:  VIP Vintners Panels

1:30: Cabernet Shootout Challenge and walk around tasting 

3:30 Awards ceremony and raffle

4:00 Event ends 

For many wine enthusiasts, January is associated with a major tasting of Zinfandels.  Now Cabernet fans, thanks to the Bay Area Wine Society  and Affairs of the Vine, can also indulge their passion at the beginning of the year in one of the most historic settings in the Bay Area - The Old Mint which dates from 1874 and slated to become the SF History Museum.  Enjoy the experience without the crowd crush of the mega tastings or long drive to Passport weekends. 

Over a number of weeks in the fall, Affairs of the Vine convened a select panel of 40 wine makers, writers, retailers, educators, and consultants to judge the 8th Cabernet Shootout among mostly limited production artisan Cabernets, Cabernet Francs and Cabernet blends from over 35 different viticultural areas.  Without regard to price, vintage or region, this group of experts moved 64 wines to the final round selecting 32 "best of the best."

The Cabernet Challenge offered a VIP ticket to attend one of two concurrent PANEL SESSIONS of winemakers who discussed the nature and nurture of crafting vino:

~HOW PLACE AFFECTS TASTE: How much does terroir play a role in the crafting of Cabernet versus winemaking techniques.  This panel will concentrate on how site influences a winemaker moving from vineyard to fermentation, touching on appellation and specific geographical location, clone preference, vine management, pick date effected by weather, influence of marketing, and the like.  ~THE WINEMAKERS SIGNATURE: This panel will concentrate on stylistic choices in the winemaking process--the winemaker's personal decisions, focusing on such specifics as yeasts, whether to go with whole cluster fermentation temperature and tanks, alcohol content, punch downs vs. pup-overs, barrel age, skin contact time, bottling date and relatedtopics.


After the optional workshops the finalists were evaluated in a blind tasting. Each Cab enthusiast selected their favorites in two concurrent flights of 17 Cabs containing five of the top 10 wines chosen by the professional panelists.


In this special oenological Pro/Am competition, the results of the professionals' Cab Shootout ranking were then compared to the tally of the  'amateurs' Cab Challenge, both tabulated by gender.      

This distinctly different format provides a unique opportunity to compare your top wines to those of the 'tastemakers' in the wine industry.  It also allows participants to sample other than the usual suspects and rate rising star wineries.


The wine lovers made notes and then cast their votes by putting chips in the ballot boxes of their favorite wines.147 of the wine lovers attending the event participated in the Cabernet Shootout Challenge.

Black Team

AQUA Sol Rouge 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake County $32

BEIGE William Hill 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $40

BLUE GREEN AuburnJames 2009 Artist Series Meritage, Napa Valley $85

BURGUNDY Estate 1856 2011 Bordeaux Blend, Sonoma County $38

CHARTREUSE Ecluse Wines 2011 Ensemble Cabernet Blend, Paso Robles $42

DENIM Steven Kent 2010 Home Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley $65

DUSTY ROSE Field Stone 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley $18.99

GOLD BOYANCI 2010 Stagecoach Vineyards Cabernet Blend, Napa Valley $110

GREEN Timark 2010 Rafael Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll $65

GUNMETAL Cass Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles $45

LIGHT PINK Cameron Hughes 2011 Lot 418 Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville $25

LIGHT YELLOW Artiste Winery Chaise Bleue Cabernet Blend, Santa Barbara County $38

LILAC Clif Family Winery 2010 Kit’s Killer Cab Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $50

PERIWINKLE Jamieson Ranch 2011 Double Lariat Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $50

PUMPKIN Rocca Family 2010 Grigsby Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville $85

TEAL Lucas and Lewellen 2010 Valley View Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Barbara County $27

WHITE Estate 1856 2011 Barrel Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County $42

Silver Team

BLACK Cliff Creek Cellars 2008 Estate Sams Valley Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Southern Oregon $28

BLUE Penman Springs 2009 Reserve Penman Springs Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles $35

COBALT Chateau Margene 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles $68

DARK GREEN Gallo Signature Series 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $40

GRAY Cameron Hughes 2011 Lot 450 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $27

HOT PINK J. Rickards 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley $38

LIGHT BLUE Enoteca Five 2011 Silvaspoons Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Lodi $28

LIME GREEN Deerfield Ranch 2007 Cabernet Franc, Sonoma Valley $58

MAGENTA Deerfield Ranch 2008 Cabernet Franc, Sonoma Valley $58

ORANGE BOYANCI Inspire 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $60

ORCHID BOYANCI Inspire ROMANCE 2011 Stagecoach Vineyards Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley $65

PEACH Bridlewood Estate 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles $15

RED Louer 2011 Louer Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena $35

TAN The Winery San Francisco 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $45

TURQUOISE Rocca Family 2010 Estate Collinetta Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville $85

WEDGEWOOD En Garde 2011 Ghielmetti Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Livermore Valley $48

YELLOW The Steven Kent Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley $48


Best of the wine lovers "Peoples Choice", pitting their palates against the pros.  The consumers deviated completely from the experts.

Male Cabernet Shootout Judging Panel
1st Place – En Garde 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain District, Napa Valley $68
2nd Place AuburnJames 2009 Bella Vista Blocks 1&4 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $75
Two wines tied for 3rd Place –
3rd Place -Cass Winery 2009 Cass Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles $45
3rd Place - Eberle 2009 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles $34

Male Wine Lovers
1st Place – AuburnJames 2009 Bella Vista Blocks 1&4 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $75
2nd Place – The Winery SF 2008 Beatty Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley/Howell Mtn $150
3rd Place – Rahn Estate 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $55

Female Cabernet Shootout Judging Panel
1st Place Great Dane 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Coombsville $110
2nd Place – Louis M. Martini 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County $18
3rd Place – En Garde 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain District, Napa Valley $68

Female Wine Lovers
1st Place – AuburnJames 2009 Bella Vista Blocks 1&4 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $75
2nd Place – Muscardini Cellars Madrone Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley $39
3rd Place – En Garde 2008 Cabernet Sauvognon, Diamond Mountain District, Napa Valley $68


During the afternoon, attendees were also able to mingle and meet with a number of the vintners from the wineries that participated in the Cabernet Shootout in an open walk around tasting accompanied by various nibbles.

They sampled wines from a mix of boutique producers from different appellations located throughout the state.  Participating wineries included Auburn James, Cameron Hughes, Deerfield Ranch, En Garde, Enoteca Five, Estate 1856, J.Rickards, Pendleton Estate, Penman Springs, Sol Rouge, 3 Steves, and WinerySF.

Holiday Wine Tasting Pop-up 
& Tour of Museum Exhibits  

December 22, 2013

The Museum of the African Diaspora

We celebrated the season and the legacy of Nelson Mandela at MoAD with a range of boutique wines that were chosen by our members tasting panel as the best of our monthly mingles. We included several other wines sampled for the first time  The wines were available for purchase at a discount in the museum store to raise some funds for the museum.  The exhibit and tasting were free of charge.

From the American Revolutionary War to the civil rights movement through today, forward-thinking Black Americans have consistently aligned their struggle for freedom with the battles of other oppressed peoples, especially those of African descent. 

At the turn of the 20th century, Black writers, intellectuals, and artists from around the globe—including Africa, the United States, South America, and the Caribbean—initiated ongoing dialogues that formed the basis for emerging ideologies and nascent movements concerned with helping all people of African descent attain liberation, equality, and self-determination. 

This growing solidarity flowered under such banners as anti-colonialism, Pan-Africanism, Négritude, Negrismo, Indigenism, Blackness, anti-imperialism, and Black internationalism, a particularly fitting term for the interconnections of Black freedom struggles across national, continental and oceanic boundaries. 

Significant ideological overlap existed among Black artistic and political movements at home in the Americas and abroad.  Each one of these iterations emphasized culture as a means for holistic empowerment and invited African people to define culture on their own terms.

Additional Tour: 12:30-1:30/Met up at MoAD wine tasting table in lobby.

Some also toured Unbuilt San Francisco: The View from Futures Past at the California Historical Society just across the street.  The exhibit closed on Dec. 29th.

In their galleries, the California Historical Society surveyed three ambitious efforts to reimagine the city of San Francisco and the Bay Area as a metropolitan region—Marincello, Yerba Buena Center, and the Ferry Building—reaching beyond plans and models to depict the political, social, and economic challenges to each. Throughout, architectural drawings, letters, photographs, artworks, videos, and newspaper clippings represent the voices of advocates and detractors. Through these sites, we see the built environment of today as a collected history that is still building.

  • Schlesinger Associates

    150 California
    Suite 800
    San FranciscoCA (map)

Our November taste-off offered 18 different types and brands of wines in two flights selected to pair with the fare of America's unique fall celebration. We included a broad array of wines: white, pink, and red, to go with turkey and ham sliders, plus a variety of cheeses.

Our monthly wine mingles seek to offer occasions for people to socialize over new and different releases. Why nurse a glass of a single varietal or be limited to a flight of three wines at a high-markup wine bar when for the same amount of  money you can enjoy and learn about a range of wines while chatting with old and new friends and enjoying some nifty nibbles.

The 'citizen judge' format is based on the premise that those who buy wines for dinner or a special occasion should evaluate current releases not the "gatekeepers" or tastemakers who "curate" wine selections.  

We believe that a limited number of wines have an appeal to a cross section of different consumer palates, but less often please the refined tastes of the wine pros.  We want to offer attendees the opportunity to decide on their choices and represent the tastes of other consumers.  

Each wine received at least 13 votes (some members bypassed the whites), most 18 (some attendees did only one flight, some both).

Wild turkey formed the core dish for what traditionally is known as "The First Thanksgiving"-- the 1621 gathering between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony. The use of the turkey in the USA for Thanksgiving precedes Lincoln's nationalization of the holiday in 1863. Alexander Hamilton proclaimed that no "Citizen of the United States should refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day," and many of the Founding Fathers (particularly Benjamin Franklin) had high regard for the wild turkey as an American icon. 

The results (the criterion is tastiness=how yummy is the wine when accompanying turkey or ham):

Winning wines available for sale @ 

Reviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer image  (92-94)  SUPERB ~ REMARKABLE  Displays intense depth and finesse  Double Gold Medal.

Krutz Family Cellars 2011 Zinfandel Magnolia Series Napa Valley (Sweepstakes winner for November/Best of Tasting) $24 winery price $21 Special Members Price

From the website:

Winemakers notes: "Spicy raspberry and brambleberry immediately jump out of the glass as aromatics. Sweet cherry pie is framed nicely by a brushy and savory cedar plank. This is the second time a Zin has been selected as the favorite wine of the month."  A great value besides, with the lowest price of the wines tasted....


"We sourced from multiple vineyards throughout Napa Valley for this complex, yet  balanced Zinfandel. .

AVA Breakdown 25% Howell Mountain 19% Chiles Valley 19% Napa Valley 17% Atlas Peak 11% Napa Valley North 9% Calistoga ...

"The Magnolia, the state flower and tree of Mississippi, is a symbol of our southern roots and way of life. It’s been said, “One can’t get to where they are going without knowing where they’ve been.”  We at Krutz Family Cellars take pride of where we’re from and where we are aiming to go. Some of the virtues and ways of life that were instilled in us growing up in the south are well evident today in our business, our personal life, and our wines. These same virtues and values that we will no doubt work to pass to our children too. Our wines are true, honest, and fun, just as the folks who build them."  Read more about the family and the winery here

Two Shepherds Vineyards 2011 Pastoral Rouge Rhone blend North and Central Coast $38. Members price $32 Shipping $7 for any quantity.

From the website:

"Pastoral Rouge is Two Shepherd’s flagship blend, replacing the 2010 ‘GSM.’ A hand crafted blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah, in that order, comprises the 2011 blend.  Drinking bright and well as of April, but giving it some more bottle time for the players to increase in harmony. "

"Two Shepherds: Shepherd of the Palate, Shepherd of the Grape" 

"Two Shepherds is the genesis of founder William Allen, publisher of the widely read blog, Simple Hedonisms and long time garagiste wine maker, who decided to put his money where his keyboard was by planting a vineyard and starting a micro-wnery.  After years of extolling his love of Rhone wines, and winemaking practices of balance and elegance, as well as enthusiastically encouraging consumers to branch out and extend their palates, William decided to expand upon his years of garage wine making and hands on harvest experience to make commercially available the style of wines he was championing.  Thus Two Shepherds was born--making wines that "shepherd" grapes gently into non-manipulated and balanced old world style wines, while also guiding consumers back to wines of authenticity, and to the wonderfully diverse realm of Rhone wines."  More here

Reviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer image  (90-92) DELICIOUS ~ EXCELLENT - A complex, concentrated wine that balances lush fruit qualities with refinement  Gold Medal

Pellegini Wine Company 2011 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley $30

Thralls Family Cellars 2012 Pinot Noir Bucher Vineyard Russian River Valley $40

Sheldon 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon D'Alliard Vineyard Sonoma Valley $40

 (87-89) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ~ VERY GOOD  Shows special qualities of richness and flavor Silver Medal

Cartograph 201o Pinot Noir Floodgate Vineyard Russian River Valley $40

Krutz Family Cellars 2011 Chardonnay Martinelli Road Vineyard Russian River Valley $40

Krutz Family Cellars 2010 Pinot Noir Akins Vineyard Anderson Valley Mendocino $35

Sheldon 2012 Velocity Grenache Ceja Farms Sonoma Valley $40

(85-87) RECOMMENDED ~ GOOD - A pleasing wine with varietal distinctiveness Bronze Medal

Cartograph 2012 Gewurztraminer Floodgate Vineyard Russian River Valley $24

Cornerstone Cellars 2011 Chardonnay Willamette Valley $40

Cornerstone Cellars 2011 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley $50

Overland 2012 Sauvignon Blanc Kick Ranch Vineyard Sonoma County $21

Sheldon 2012 Weatherly Rose of Graciano Ripkin Vineyard Lodi $22

Stepping Stone by Cornerstone Cellars 2011 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley $30

Thralls Family Cellars 2012 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley $32

Two Shepherds Vineyards 2012 Grenache Blanc Saarloos Vineyard Santa Ynex Valley $25

Here are the wines in the order tasted with winery retail prices:

  1. Silver Wines 2009 Grenache Blanc Santa Barbara County $25
  2. Tercero Wines 2011 Grenache Blanc Santa Ynez Valley $22
  3. Epiphany Cellars 2011 Grenache Blanc Santa Barbara County $25
  4. Mathis Wine Co 2008 Rosé de Grenache Sonoma Valley $18
  5. Turkovich Family Wines 2011 Rosé of Grenache Lodi and Yolo Counties $18
  6. Austin Hope 2011 Grenache Estate Paso Robles $42
  7. Mathis Wine Co 2008 Grenache Sonoma Valley  $30
  8. Epiphany Cellars 2010 Grenache Santa Barbara County $30
  9. Tercero Wines 2009 Cuvee Loco Grenache blend Larner Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley $30
  10. Core 2008 Elevation Sensation Alta Mesa Vineyards Santa Barbara County $42
  11. Calcareous 2010 Grenache Mourvedre blend Estate Paso Robles $36
  12. Epiphany Cellars 2010 Gypsy Grenache blend Santa Barbara County $25
  13. Core 2008 Grenache Reserve Alta Mesa Vineyards Santa Barbara County $29
  14. Tercero Wines 2009 Grenache Watch Hill Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley $30
  15. Bokish Vineyards 2010 Garnacha terra Alta Vineyard Clements Hills Lodi $18
  16. Turkovich Family Wines 2011 Grenache Lodi and Yolo Counties  $24
  17. Harrison Clarke Wines 2010 Grenache Estate Ballard Canyon Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley $27
  18. Tercero Wines 2009 Grenache Larner Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley $30

Lightening Wines 2011 Grenache Kick Ranch Sonoma County $37 (not in taste off-see below) 

Favorite wine/Sweepstakes winner of the blind tasting: 

 Reviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer image  (90-92)  DELICIOUS ~ EXCELLENT A complex, concentrated wine that balances lush fruit flavors with refinement  Gold Medal


Winery Suggested Retail $27.  Special Members price $20. Go to purchase wine page

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Handpicked from Harrison Clarke Ballard Canyon Vineyard in the Purisima Hills 
in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley
100% Grenache.  Natural fermentation with native yeast

After an extensive cold soak, 80% whole berries were fermented in small open top fermenters.  Gentle punch downs and pigeage.  Barrel aged for 20 months.
Light -medium body. Delicate aromas of black cherry, strawberry, kirsch liquor, pepper and spice.

Reviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer image    (87-89) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ~ VERY GOOD  Displaying special qualities of finesse and flavor   - 

[listed according to vote totals]

Tercero Larner Vineyard,

Core Elevation Sensation

Calcareous Grenache Mourvedre

Tercero Watch Hill

Austin Hope

Best of the chilled wines:

Turkovich Rosé

Our added starter, Lightening Wines, brought by the winemaker toward the end, also received a few scores which were very high.  It wasn't placed in the taste off

Pictures are posted on the Wine Society and Brainiac meetup websites.

Hope those who came enjoyed yourselves.


Reviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer imageReviewer image (90-92)  DELICIOUS ~ EXCELLENT - A complex, concentrated wine that balances lush fruit flavors with refinement  Gold Medal


Lucky III has a vibrant, dark red hue and aromas of cherry, mocha, leather and vanilla, with spice notes. This Napa Valley wine's entry is powerful and expansive with flavors of dark cherry, chocolate, and berry fruit that persist on the lengthy, smooth and complex finish. Lucky is approachable now and drinks great on its own and with a wide range of foods especially BBQ, pizza, Italian food, and all meat dishes.

Very dark red color with dark fruit and oak spice aromas. Red and black fruit dominate this full-bodied wine. With a rich mouthfeel featuring high fruit concentration, Lucky's delicious finish goes on and on

49% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Zinfandel, 7% Petite Sirah. California Appellation.


Sales of all Bravium and Artisan wines support Sip&Give, the charitable giving campaign that Derek created. Sip&Give features a variety of worthy charities that are funded based upon your wine purchases and votes at

Monthly Wine Mingle & Taste Off
August 23, 2013 Schlesinger Associates SF
See scoring categories on the side ballots Average Ranking
score points
A1 Frog's Tooth Winery 2010 Fumé Blanc Estate Calavares County $18 13 3.5/5 6 VG
A2 Larson Family Winery 2010 Chardonnay Estate Sonoma Valley $30 16 3.75 14 VG/E
A3 Cuvee Wine Cellars 2011 Pinot Noir Saralee's Vineyard Russian River Valley $28 14 3.1 G
A4 Lava Cap Winery 2010 Barbara Estate El Dorado County $25 16 3.31 8 G./VG
A5 Pietra Santa 2009 Sangiovese Estate Cienaga Valley $18 16 3.25 G/VG
A6 Shed Horn Cellars 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Lake County $29 15 3.6 4 VG
A7 Gold Hill 2009 Cabernet Franc Estate El Dorado $26 15 3.89 9 VG/E
A8 Calstar 2008 Zinfandel Alta Zin Cardanini Vineyard El Dorado County $25 16 3.78 9 VG/E
A9 Pietra Santa 2009 Zinfandel Estate Cienaga Valley $18 17 3.76 6 VG/E
B1 White Wedding Winery White Wedding II Proprietary White Wine California $18 18 3.58 5 VG
B2 Bravium 2011 Pinot Noir Signal Ridge Vineyard Mendocino Ridge $34 17 3.65 13 VG
B3 Frog's Tooth Winery 2009 Meritage Sierra Foothills $28 15 3.40 4 G/VG
B4 Pietra Santa 2009 Merlot Estate Cienaga Valley $18 16 3.58 8 VG
B5 Cairdean Vineyards 2010 Merlot Napa Valley $42 15 3.67 6 VG
B6 Pietra Santa Winery Signature Collection 2005 Vache Estate Merlot $45 ($28 members price) 15 3.80 8 VG/E
B7 Lucky Winery N/V Lucky III Proprietary Red Wine Napa Valley $21 17 4.05 20 E
B8 Noceto 2010 Barbara Linsteadt Vineyard Shenandoah Valley $28 17 3.75 13 VG/E

July Multi Meetup Wine Mingle ~You be the Judge

July 26th  6-8:30 PM

Schlesinger Associates

Each month we offer 16 hard-to-find, boutique wines from different viticultural areas in California which are under consideration by the members for our group buying cooperative.

This month's group selected two proprietary red blends as their top choices which are available for the low price of $15 and $25 . Several members have already purchased a case. Go to the Purchase Wine page of site to learn more

.The 'citizen judge' format is based on the premise that those who buy wines for dinner or a special occasion should evaluate current releases not the "gatekeepers" who "curate" wine selections.  We also eschew the 100 pt. system as unnaturally precise in favor of a 5 star with half stars approach  (see our blogwhich lays out our taste off methodology)

And we always arrange to secure venues close to BART and affordable parking.  Pam Lintner has again agreed to host our tasting panel in her office at thEbottom of California St.

The wines were paired with some tasty nibbles.  Plus we raffled off some special wines.

Our unique approach is based on the premise that a limited number of wines have an appeal to a broad range of different palates which rarely please the refined tastes of the wine pros.  We want to offer attendees the opportunity to decide on their choices and represent the tastes of other consumers.

The top wines for July:

 (87-89) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ~ VERY GOOD   Displaying special qualities of finesse and flavor   

Tied for high scorer but awarded solo 1st place due to its low price.

Stein Family Wines 2010 Just Joshin Red Blend California

Suggested Retail $20. Special Members Price: $15. $5 shipping fee. 3 bottle minimum.  Go to to purchase.

Tied for 1st place on points

Casey Flat Ranch CFR Estate Red Blend Capay Valley

Suggested retail: $40 Special Members Price :$25 plus shipping . Must have code.

3rd place (tie)

Manzoni Vineyards 2012 Pinot Gris Franscioni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands $26

Victor Hill 2010 Viognier Los Carneros $26 (based on higher ranking)

 (85-87) LIKE IT~ GOOD -

A pleasing wine with varietal distinctiveness

Breathless Wines Brut de Noirs Methode Champenoise Sonoma County $30

Breathless Wines Brut Rosé Methode Champenoise North Coast $32

Stein Family Wines 2010 Same Sex Meritage  Red Blend California $25

Orsianna 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Mendocino County $20

Darms Lane Winery 2010 Chardonnay Oak Knoll Napa Valley $28

Pali Wine Co. 2012 Charm Access Chardonny Sonoma Coast $21

Spreadsheet (rank: consumer tasting panel was asked to pick 1st, 2nd & 3rd favorite wines)


number of ballots

rating average deleting 1 and 1.5 scores

rating incl. 1 & 1.5 scores

rank score total

Average ranking score per ballot


1.Breathless Wines Brut de Noirs Methode Champenoise Sonoma County $30






2.Manzoni Vineyards 2012 Pinot Gris Franscioni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands $26






3.Pali Wine Co. 2012 Charm Access Chardonny Sonoma Coast $21






4.Victor Hill 2010 Viognier Los Carneros $20






5.Orsianna 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Mendocino County $20






6.Stein Family Wines 2010 Same Sex Meritage Red Blend California $25






7.Stein Family Wines 2010 Just Joshin Red Blend California $20






8.Casey Flat Ranch CFR Estate Red Blend Capay Valley $35







9.Breathless Wines Brut Rosé Methode Champenoise North Coast $32






10.Windsor Oaks 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley $29






11.Manzoni Vineyards 2011 Chardonnay Santa Lucia Highlands $30






12.Darms Lane Winery 2010 Chardonnay Oak Knoll Napa Valley $28






13.Manzoni Vineyard 2011 Pinot Noir Home Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands $35






14.Victor Hill 2010 Cinsault Donohue Vineyards Sonoma Valley $20






15.Casey Flat Ranch 2009 Open Range Red Blend California $18






16.Stein Family Wines Arleyna Red Blend Napa Valley $59






Ranking: 1st=3 pts, 2nd=2pts, 3rd=1pt

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