Archive for the Winery Review Category

What I’m Watching: Bottle Shock

Posted in Movie Review, Wine News, Winery Review on February 23, 2009 by winechef

bottleshockA story that many wine nerds and historians know by heart, the 1976 tasting of California wines versus the wines of France, in which Chateau Montelena’s Chardonnay came out on top, alerting the world to the fact that our wines were a force to be reckoned with, made its way onto the big screen. An entertaining, yet overly dramatic movie featuring a cast of B list actors tell the tale of the Barrett’s, Steven Spurrier, and the most influential blind tasting of all time. While not a must see, it is available on Netflix Instant Watch, and goes well with almost any bottle of wine and a night off (which more and more of us seem to have plenty of).

Chateau Montelena on the other hand, is a winery not to be missed. cmcimg1542cmlake


Cameron Hughes

Posted in Sommelier, Wine News, Winery Review on October 14, 2008 by winechef

I stumbled onto this man and his company after researching Bay Area negotiants. I find what Cameron Hughes is doing inspiring, forward thinking, and his wines a ridiculous bargain. Cameron is a phantom producer, sourcing and then blending ultra premium wines from around the world and then selling them almost exclusively at Costco.

The wines are sourced from high end established wineries, blended, bottled and given the sleek and cryptic “Lot” label. Cryptic because we are given the unique appellation, but figuring out exactly who made the wine is up to us. Check out the Cameron Confidential portion of the Lot descriptions for even more exciting clues as to the wine’s origin. It’s possible that we are drinking an $80 of Silver Oak, or $70 Leeuwin for under $20.

Trying to find the wines can be like a Costco scavenger hunt. If you want to cheat just type in your zip code on the CH website and it will tell you where to find each wine, weather or not they still have them when you get there is another thing.

The two I was able to track down at my local Costco were the Lot  91 ’07 Chardonnay from Russian River Valley and the Lot 73 ’06 Cabernet from Chalk Hill Sonoma County. Just by doing a Google search it seems that the Cab could be anything from Herzog ($89.99) to Chalk Hill ($66.99). The Chard on the other hand is said to be priced at around $30 and I’m guessing is either Patz and Hall or Sabastiani given the clues about the legal reasons for passing on all of the fruit…my money’s on Sebastiani. Actually my money’s on Cameron. For an exceptional product at an even more exceptional price, I will purchase his wines with confidence and pour them for even the most discerning palates.

Read more about Cameron Hughes here.

Murrieta’s Well

Posted in Winery Review on June 18, 2007 by winechef

Murrieta’s Well

I was introduced to this boutique wine while dining at Stacey’s in downtown Pleasanton four years ago. I had ordered the Zarzuela and knew that I had discovered something special. Located in the Livermore wine valley on the road that leads to Lake Del Valle (another hidden gem), you come upon a beautiful ranch estate. Purchased by Wente, it is named after the artesian well that is located in front of the winery building where the legendary Joaquin Murrieta and his band of desperados watered their horses. The wines are of the old world style, but with the pronounced richness of California wines. The tasting room is beautiful, and the barrel room below is a magical venue for various events. I recently went to a wine blending seminar there and was awestruck by the beauty of the area, as the early warm weather had brought spring to the vines. The wine club is a good deal and the private events offered to the members are well worth the commitment. In my opinion, Murrieta’s Well is definitely the finest of Livermore Valley.

3005 Mines Road
Livermore, CA 94550
tel (925) 456-2390


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