Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery – 2012

Traveling to Paradise Hills Vineyard brings you to what you think is a residential area giving you reason to believe the GPS isn’t working quite well. But if you persevere you’ll find yourself in front of the wine barrel with the winery’s name on the front. And when you think otherwise, a sign points you in the right direction.

These are the signs I like to see  and after following the hand crafted sign I found my self right in the parking lot with the adobe style tasting room.


As you can see I had the place all to myself and could wander around at will and decided to visit the vines before entering the tasting room. I must say the grapes look enticing but seeing as I am a patient individual I can wait for the finished product.

Once inside the tasting room I was met by Richard, one of the owners as the wine staff for the tasting. The tasting fee is $8.00 for the five wines they have on the wine menu. You do not get a signature glass but their wine glasses are clearly 20 ounce or better wine glasses. I’m particularly fond of this venue as it really provides ample room to swirl the wine and get the full potential of the wine’s aroma and flavor. I have a gazillion wine glasses anyway and not getting another one wouldn’t bother me at all.

Before the tasting begins Richard gave me a run down of the history of the place (which I did not write down verbatim, so you’ll have to visit them and get the whole story) including the visit from George Washington traveling through the winery hillsides and the family initial above the wine bar. Then we got into the wines.

Washington Trail White ($18): A strong green apple aroma led into apple and tart pear on the palate. This was clean and crisp with a lingering finish. This is one you’ll want to serve well-chilled.

Chardonnay ($24.99): This is produced from Estate grown grapes which happen to be the ones I decided to visit (see previous picture of grapevines) before I entered the tasting room. This had apricot and honey on the nose with strawberry and citrus flavors and was served quite chilled. A bit more than I like my Chardonnay but good nonetheless.

After tasting the two white wines, Richard produced a new glass for the red wine tasting.

Trio ($22.99): A red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Carmenere revealed a mocha and cherry aroma which was quite pleasing to the ‘ol schnozzola. On the palate were chocolate and wild berry flavors with hints of pepper on the finish.

Riomonte ($22.99): This red blend was very similar to the Trio minus the Cabernet Saivignon but with an additional pronounced plum aroma and flavor. A slight peppery finish and after a few sips a chocolate flavor found its way to the back palate.

Cayuga White ($20.99): This opened with lemongrass and hints of peach on the nose. Semi- sweet flavors of melon, honeysuckle, peach and apricots on the palate.

In the event you want to stay for awhile grab your self a glass or bottle of your favorite Paradise Hills wine and sit out on the patio watching the grapes grow.

Chilensis 2005 Reserve Carmenere

This big red Chilensis Reserve Carmenere popped when I uncorked this wine. When I first poured this into my wine glass I immediately brought this to my nose and inhaled the aroma and found dark berry fruits and strawberry, like standing in a strawberry patch on a hot summer afternoon, remember that smell – now you know what I’m talking about. I found boysenberry flavor with a hint of mocha and mint, a very nice combination for the finish. A good buy at $12 a bottle.I paired this with broccoli and penne pasta sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.


Santa Rita 2008 120 Carmenere

Gumshoe (cont’)

“Hello”.  A short pause on the other end as if the caller is unsure to speak or not.  

“Is this Mr. Price?”.  

“Yeah”.  I’m beginning to wonder if I’m going to like this call or not as it has just interrupted the most important meal of the decade for me.  

“My name is Alan Forrester, I’m an attorney for the late Andrew Barry, of Barry Estates Winery…as the attorney is explaining why he is calling all I can do is stare at the 1997 bottle of Red Velvet Blend from Barry Estates Winery that is sitting on my table along with one hell of a meal and for the life of me can’t help wonder how this attorney got my name.  This has to be karma…

Now for the wine you’ll enjoy is the Santa Rita 2008 120 Carmenere which opens with black cherries with a hint of bacon on the nose. The flavor was of tart cherry with a subtle hint of mocha. That’s it, simple and to the point. $6.99 with a better than average buy.

I paired this with a vegetarian chili (spiced up of course) and buffalo wings (hot ones). I probably should have opened a nice sauvignon blanc but I opened this bottle of Carmenere before I decided what I wanted for dinner.

Tobacco Road

One of the best jobs I’ve ever had was when I was a teenager working on the tobacco farms in northern Connecticut. Back in those days many of the tobacco farms were owned by individual small farmers and you got the sense the owners cared for their employees and the community. The majority of the tobacco grown in Connecticut were either broad leaf or shade tobacco and was used as the outer wrapper for cigars. I’m not going to get into the morality or health issues of what smoking does to you nor am I going to lecture anyone. I’ve seen it first hand and it isn’t pretty. Enough said.

Back to the fun part of working on tobacco which reminds me of the camaraderie you gain from working with others your own age and others that were over the age of thirty and part of that group you didn’t trust as a teenager. Overall, I finally came to realize the over thirty crowd were pretty neat people.

I was able to work just about every aspect of tobacco from hoeing, to suckering the young plants (a dirty, nasty job) to picking ripe leaves, to laying irrigation pipes, preparing the hoses and lanterns for firing up sheds, to picking up the tobacco baskets and loading them on the rigs for transport to the sewing sheds. This was the best part – the tobacco sheds. This is where all the teenage girls worked (ooh, I hope my wife isn’t reading this post). But this was the gathering place for us guys to talk about anything as long as we could steal a few looks at girls of our age and let our minds wander. Well, while our minds are wandering we forget some very basic fundamentals like setting the parking brake on the tobacco rigs we used for hauling around the green stuff. That is, if we didn’t take the turns in the dirt road too fast and have a bunch (you remember my definition of bunch?) of the tobacco baskets jump off the rig without telling us. We usually found out when the owners would come to the tobacco sheds and explain the finer points of driving in the tobacco fields.

Anyway, one day us guys were chatting and waiting for the shed crew to unload our rigs so we could get back to Nascar tobacco racing whilst we were checking out all the teenage girls sewing the tobacco. One of our compadres forgot to set the parking brake on his rig. Lo and behold, when it was his turn to drive the rig up the the shed to have it unloaded he hinted that one of us took his truck and “where was it now!”. Well, did I tell you there was an irrigation pond just down the slope from the tobacco shed? Maybe I should mention that here. You wouldn’t believe the site as the entire back side of the rig was immersed in the irrigation pond and this episode of Tobacco Road was known as truckey in the lakey as we had a lot of non-English speaking people working on the farm and I’m sure something got lost in the translation, but hilarious nonetheless. These are stories you won’t forget and some of us wish it were forgotten altogether. Well, I hope you remember what I said about memories.

What was your favorite job? Okay, on with the wine reviews.

Raymond 2008 R Collection Lot # 7 Field Blend. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel. Notes of cherry, white pepper with hints of smoked bacon aroused the snozzola leading into red and black raspberries with a hint of clove flavors on the palate. Great tannins with a velvety blueberry finish. $9.99, 91 rating. You can bring this to any party you are invited to and you’ll be the topic of discussion when it comes to picking the right wine. You’ll be an instant hit with the host and hostess. Especially if you’re at a cookout in the summer or cooking this in the winter over the gas stove, as I paired this with a black Angus beef burger with red onion, lettuce and tomato on a whole grain white hamburger bun. Nothing else, no fries, no baked potato, no coleslaw, no potato salad, no nothin’. You can add cheese if you want. Really, I can’t believe the good fortune I’m having lately with wines that fit into Cousin Carl’s low priced reds category. Buy this, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Next time I get back to the wine merchant I’ll probably get half a case of this to keep on hand.

Trimbach 2007 Gewurztraminer. This white wine opens with floral aromas with rose and ginger being the more dominant aromas. The palate found citrus flavors with nectarine and grapefruit nuances. A nice pleasing finish. $14.99, 87 rating. Pair this wine with spicy, Cajun, Thai, or Indian dishes.

Concha Y Toro 2009 Frontera Carmenere. Plum, vanilla, and toast aromas preceded a red raspberry flavor with a bit of a coffee and mocha finish. I did not find this wine to be as intense as some of the other Carmeneres I’ve tried in the past although it is a decent wine for the price. $7.99 for a 1.5 liter bottle, 77 rating. This goes well with stir-fry, vegetable or meat, using teriyaki sauce.

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…


Special Edition For Turkey Day.

Most of us celebrate Thanksgiving in one form or another, that is either with a lot of wine or with none at all. If you’re in the latter category this post isn’t going to help you one bit. But for those of you that relish the thought of good wine with good turkey here are some of my favorites. I have found that all of these wines go well with the traditional turkey dinner and all the trimmings.

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law host the most magnificent turkey dinner on earth. Wine was made for their dinner table amidst ample appetizers, homemade soups (I’m a chicken noodle from the can kind of guy) but my brother-in-law can make some pretty interesting soups that even I can be persuaded to try and they’re usually real good, along with an assortment of breads, and numerous delectable desserts. They conduct the Thanksgiving dinner around a special theme of which we are not privy to until the precise moment.

The most memorable one was a 60’s theme where everyone came as hippies, flower children, and rock stars except for the turkey day hosts who masqueraded as the parents of the hippies, flower children, and rock stars – ingenious comes to mind. Who would of thought to come as the parents. It is one of the most memorable days of the year where when it’s over you can say “yeah, I was there”. So, without further ado, this post is dedicated to family for without them we are lost souls – I’m fortunate to have a soul.

If you don’t mind sharing, post your favorite/ideal turkey dinner and let’s compare notes. Maybe we could create the ultimate turkey meal with a combination of everyone’s favorites.

Okay, on with the favorite wines for Thanksgiving…

Sharpe Hill 2004 Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay. A rich golden color is the opening act for pear, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon aromas leading to apricot and nectarine flavors leaving a delicate buttery and mineral finish. $18.99 and a 90 rating.

Chateau Souverain 2002 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Mixed berry aroma and a hint of spice on the nose with raspberry and black cherry flavors and a smooth delicate finish. $25.00, 91 rating. Although this is pricey I believe you will find most Pinot Noirs to be that way.

David Bruce 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Very similar to the above wine but a $30 price tag, 91 rating.

Stephen Vincent 2006 Pinot Noir. Mixed berry notes on the nose with cherry and raspberry flavors with a hint of mocha. $19.99, 88 rating.

Concha Y Toro 2005 Casillero del Diablo Carmenere. Chocolate and coffee aromas lead to intense spice, raspberry and cassis flavors. A nice mocha and spice finish. $8.99, 89 rating (yes, Cousin Carl & Sparing Sharon- this is for you).

Cline Cellars 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Gris. A floral aroma gives way to pear and apple flavors with a peachy finish. $12.00, 87 rating (this is for Jacuzzi Jack).

Here’s a bonus wine for the happy turkey day festivities.

14 Hands 2008 Hot To Trot Red Blend. This wine exhibits mulberry, blackberry, and earthy aromas gracefully yielding to black cherry and clove flavors with a smooth mocha finish. $9.00, 89 rating. An excellent low priced red (for Mike’s Cellar Emporium).

Enjoy your day with family and friends so we all can keep our souls close to us.

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…