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'Zilla Wine and Tunes Pairing

The two essential elements of the CORKZILLA experience – Wine and music – in a pairing. Our signature feature will continue in 2013, but we've decided to take a break from the grind of producing thoughtful pairings on a monthly basis. Please look for an archive page highlighting our pairings from the past coming soon. Cheers!

What We're Listening to

Keith Richards, "Crosseyed Heart," Republic Records

Gary Clark Jr., "The Story of Sonny Boy Slim," Warner Brothers Records

Warren Haynes Featuring Railroad Earth, "Ashes and Dust," Concord Records

Jason Isbell, "Something More Than Free," Southeastern Records

Phish, "Live Bait Vol. 11" (free digital download)

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, "Chasing Yesterday," Sour Mash Records

Neil Young, "On the Beach," Reprise Records

Massive Attack, "Protection," Circa Records

D'Angelo and the Vanguard, "Black Messiah," RCA Records

Brokedown in Bakersfield, "Live!," Little Sur Records

Ryan Adams, "Ryan Adams," Pax-Am Records

Rich Robinson, "The Ceaseless Sight," The End Records

Jack White, "Lazaretto," Third Man Records

The Wayne Shorter Quartet, "Without a Net," Blue Note Records

Reach out to CORKZILLA

Props to 2008 Oregon Pinots

By Ben Heskett

Oregon Pinot Noir has experienced a steady climb in the consciousness of wine consumers in the past two decades. But, given the delicate climate issues in the Willamette Valley, particular vintages are better than others. For The New York Times, 2008 was a very good year for Oregon Pinots.

Of particular note, the article suggests that: "An uncharacteristically dry September and October, with warm days and cool nights, allowed grapes to achieve ripeness without sacrificing the freshness provided by good acidity. In contrast to very hot years, 2008 produced alcohol levels that are fairly moderate."

As a former Willamette Valley resident, I can attest to that "uncharacteristic" September and October.

So go ahead and check out a few of these suggestions. The top 10 in the article includes several options under $30, which is currently a good price point for great pinot. Enjoy and let us know what you think.


2010: A Good Review of the Top Trends

By Ben Heskett

One take on the top wine trends of 2010, from The Wine Enthusiast. This is no news flash, but many of these trends could be filed under: State of flux. A good read.


Some Basics: Common Wine Questions

By Ben Heskett

Hey, we all love Snooth. A very valuable wine website for the casual wine fan to the true oenophile. A recent article found on The Huffington Post provides answers to some common wine questions - A worthwhile read.



 By Joe Colgan

Although worldwide wine consumption has fallen slightly in consecutive years due to a global recession and lifestyle changes in a few major wine markets, people around the world still love their grape juice. Global wine production in 2009 reached about 7 billion gallons which prompts the question, which country drinks the most of all this stuff? According to the fine folks at The Wine Institute, Vatican City, per capita, is putting away more wine than the rest of the world... Huh. This prompts some more questions like: What kind of wine are they buying? How big is the wine cellar? Does the Pope support the local economy and like to kick back with a super Tuscan brunello or is he more of a 'nod to the homeland' Gewürztraminer type of guy ? We at CORKZILLA, feeling it's our duty to bring these answers to the people, closed up shop and went to get some clarification from the man himself.

Stay tuned.



Anderson Valley Pinot: 2008 Disappears in a Cloud of Smoke

By Ben Heskett

A quick note on an important caveat to the 2008 pinot noir vintage in Anderson Valley, California. As described in this San Francisco Chronicle article, Anderson Valley experienced a series of fires, part of a tough summer for wildfires along the north coast of California.

In addition to a certain smokiness in the grapes, the smoke from the fires did not allow the appropriate amounts of sunshine through to ripen the grapes, resulting in a smaller harvest. All in all, the "smoke taint" made for a tough vintage - something to consider as you review the wine list or walk down the shop aisle.


H.R. 5034: A Legal and Legislative Morass May Be on Hold Until 2011

By Ben Heskett

Reluctance to move forward during an election may be what saves direct shipping advocates from passage of H.R. 5034, the federal legislation designed to curtail the practice, in 2010. The legislation, detailed here, is yet another attempt to codify alcohol shipping practices. Corkzilla will track developments here closely, as new legislation will likely be introduced as part of the 2011 session.


Wine in your pocket

By Joe Colgan

Having recently discovered the all informative, it seems they are now incorporating some slick technology to make their 1 million+ wine database accessible on the go for iphone users. With the app  Snooth Wine Pro you can take a pic of a bottle label and see what store near you has it in stock and compare prices with other places nearby. It also allows you look for other wines by winery, varietal or region. Sounds perfect for the times you may have been at a party or restaurant where you’ve just tasted an amazingly mind blowing wine you’ve never had before that you absolutely must buy a truck-load of.  The app can also act as your virtual cellar, keeping track of your favs or vino wishlist.  Having just loaded the thing on my phone I’m testing it out and hoping it will be a better alternative to trying to remember or having to write down new wine finds on a tiny piece of paper, only to loose it somewhere in the darkness of a pocket.


Fragile Harvest Only Adds to 2010 Industry Woes

By Ben Heskett

No one ever said the wine business was easy. This past weekend I toured some vineyards in Sonoma County, around the Bennett Valley area, and the state of the harvest is fragile. The Bay Area in general, and wine country in particular, have been beset by bizarre weather patterns this summer. It has caused a lot of angst among growers - A mood only heightened as the harvest gets closer. Recent scorching temperatures after a long period of clouds and low temperatures shriveled a certain percentage of grapes to raisins, reducing this year's harvest at some wineries. These weather-related issues only add to the difficult year the wine industry is experiencing, as laid out in this story from last weekend by the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.


Wine on the Hill

By Joe Colgan

Potrero Hill:  a sort of out-of-the way 2sq mile SF neighborhood with tight boundaries. There’s no major thoroughfare cutting into The Hill and it’s residents like it that way.  Boasting the best microclimate in town, most days, you can bask in the sun while watching the fog gobble up the rest of the city. The views from The Hill are epic, allowing unobstructed sight lines of downtown and the surrounding Bay.  It’s the part of town where Steve McQueen tore up the streets in  Bullitt, where Dirty Harry called home, and where Anchor Brewery keeps the SF Steam beer tradition alive and well, producing some of the best beers the West has to offer. Needless to say, The Hill is great place.

Of course, this being SF, one could expect to find some sort of wine presence within the confines of the neighborhood.. The Hill has two spots of note that are more than worthy of mentioning. The first is Ruby Wine shop, located in the heart of the 18th street commercial corridor. In a city that has a sea of wine shops, Ruby’s selection, reasonable price points and service puts them up on the top shelf. Since 2002, owners Joel and Maxine have been hand picking an interesting selection of both Old World and California / Oregon wines with an emphasis on small producers. Every Friday night is Ruby Flight Night ( $10 tasting: 5pm-8pm) where Joel and company focus on a featuring a different theme each week; local wine makers, urban wineries, new releases, etc… Each tasting also includes a fine selection of cheese from Tomales Bay.

Last week’s pour: Fantastic local Cabernet’s with plenty of character and feel good stories: '05 Viano Cabernet from Contra Costa county, '06 Stone Edge 'Surround' from Sonoma, '07 Topanga's 'Kroma' Cabernet from Alexander Valley, and '07 Tumbleweed Ranch Cab from Napa Valley.  All of these featured wines retail from $9-$30 a bottle.

Second place to check out is The Wine House; a serious warehouse sized selection of Old World fine wine with a heavy concentration of reasonably priced Bordeaux and Burgundy. They offer a fantastic monthly wine sampler package called “The Dirty Dozen” which features small production European vineyards: $100 for 6 reds and 6 whites. Located at the base of The Hill at 16th Street and Carolina, The Wine House is a great, local alternative to the larger ‘big box’ wine merchants. The staff is exceptionally knowledgeable as well as being a great bunch of people. 


Rioja In the Shadows of Alamo Square

By Ben Heskett

The copious red stains on the glassware, table and counter tops were a dead giveaway – A festive wine tasting had spilled over into a full-throttle party. Before the music got louder, and my friends more boisterous, the gathered throng of less than a dozen recently tasted several different types of the Spanish varietal Rioja.

One stand out of the tasting was mildly surprising – an entrant more associated with “value” wines and of more recent vintage:

  • 2008 Cortijo Rioja (With a bright orange label)

It tasted fresh and was full-bodied, lacking the subtleties of the older choices, but provides good value in the $10 or so category.

One friend of mine at the tasting, with a good deal of wine knowledge, found frequent instances of “Brett” (For Brettanomyces) in the older Rioja vintages we tasted. In small amounts, Brett is often thought to enhance wines and contribute to complexity, but in abundance can often be ascribed as a wine’s weakness, contributing to “off” odors.

Overall, our older choices were far more earthy and subtle, lacking some distinction. Further research is required for me, and my friends, to make a true assessment. Here’s the rundown of the Rioja wines we tasted: 

I have a couple of observations and draw a couple of conclusions from this tastings. First, I was surprised at the price of the older vintages we tasted – No Rioja we tried was over $35/$40, despite a couple of choices from the 1990s. Second, as mentioned, these older vintages were tougher to distinguish, but certainly enjoyable to the palate.

I’ve concluded from this initial foray into Spanish Rioja that there are numerous characteristics of these wines that I need to look for and that further exploration and understanding of the underlying agriculture/terroir and stellar years will yield a wider away of flavors. Also, I believe that some of the more recent vintages may offer more diverse flavors. So the journey - and the festivities - continue.