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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

Entries in Chardonnay (3)


Catching Up With Anthill Farms

By Ben Heskett

Winemakers see challenges in new grapes. For Anthill Farms Winery, a now-stalwart cool climate Pinot Noir house focused on Mendocino County, Calif. grapes, the opportunity to experiment continues to drive its varietal exploration.

Anthill Farms plans to diversify its portfolio by 2015, adding both a Chardonnay and Grenache to its roster. The winery already delivers an impressive Sonoma Coast Syrah most years – an impressive expression of the grape. For co-founders Webster Marquez, David Low, and Anthony Filiberti, the intentiuon is to continue their tradition of "one-off" projects - "To keep ourselves sharp and not so complacent," according to Marquez.

I stopped by Anthill’s pick-up party in Healdsburg, Calif. this past fall (picture at left of Anthill's original pick-up party location in the same complex as its current environs), located in a non-descript warehouse off the Dry Creek Road in a familiar area for Dry Creek Valley winery tasting rooms such as Papapietro Perry Winery and Kokomo Winery. Among the library of Pinot Noirs being poured that day at the pick-up party (along with the aforementioned Syrah) there was a decanter of Grenache to taste.

“We love Grenache, and think of it as just as much of a challenge (and reward!) as making Pinot,” said Marquez in an email interview. “It’s extraordinarily expressive and we’ve been meaning to find an interesting spot for it for years.”

It is exciting news for Grenache lovers, as the expert team at Anthill delves into a grape that is rapidly being embraced for its depth and balance in California. “I think there is some momentum for it,” Marquez said. Indeed, the decanted Granache showed great fruit, with the type of finesse and nuance you've come to expect from California versions of the grape.

Anthill is sourcing its Grenache grapes from the Steel Plow Vineyard in Kenwood, in Sonoma County, located right in front of Landmark Winery. The vineyard is farmed jointly by Landmark and Phil Coturri of Enterprise Vineyards. The Grenache release is scheduled for 2015 with an intended price point of $22 or so, according to Marquez, in keeping with the winery’s philosophy to offer at least one value wine for around $20.

Marquez said Anthill also plans to make a Chardonnay on a “consistent basis,” targeted for early 2015, if not before, he said.

Anthill recently completed its annual spring release. It also was pouring as part of the ever-so-hot In Pursuit of Balance wine tasting event this week in San Francisco, Calif. You can sign up for Anthill’s waiting list here.



Weekly Wine News Around the Web

Mid-Year Wine Business Check: As usual, the Silicon Valley Bank’s wine division weighs in on some mid-year hot topics in the wine industry, including such things as a lack of water and continued heat waves impacting crop size for the year. Rob McMillan is always a good read and his insights are significant as we head toward August.

The Natural Jump: Olive oil producer Colavita plans to partner with Terlato Wines for a line of super-premium wines scheduled to debut later this summer. The wines, to be sold under the Colavito label, will be comprised of familiar Italian varietals, such as Pinot Grigio and Valpolicella Ripasso, as first reported by the Shanken News Daily blog.

Wine Power Rankings: One of our favorite wine business blogs, the Wine Economist, has an interesting take on Decanter magazine’s wine industry “power rankings” issue. The list is compiled every other year, according to the post, and showcases a lot of what’s changing and not changing in the industry.

Pondering Chardonnay: Here’s some good insights from Steve Heimoff’s blog on the evolution in the perception of Chardonnay and where in California you can find the best of the bunch. He also delves into just how Chardonnay sometimes gets a bad reputation.


Recent Wine Travels in the Bay Area

By Ben Heskett

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – There’s been a diverse array of wine events here recently, and though CORKZILLA can’t be everywhere, we tried to stop by a few of the most interesting ones. Due to scheduling conflicts and perhaps a preference for smaller gatherings, the ‘Zilla eschewed larger tasting in this early part of the year like the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) Festival and the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition tasting this year, in favor of more intimate encounters with different varietals. Our notes from these confabs follow:

- It’s not often you can explore a varietal such as Riesling with a vintner who lives and breathes the grape, like Raimund Prum. A President’s Day luncheon at San Francisco’s RN74 (restaurant and wine mecca, thanks to Rajat Parr) showcased the wide variations in vintages among SA Prum wines, with particular emphasis on the famous Mosel region's Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard, comprised of vines up to 120 years old. Fabulous fruit, well-rounded on the palate, complex, with varied acidity depending on the year for a flight comprised of a 2004, 2006 and 2007. Later vintages poured were also expressive, with lower alcohol levels of 7.5 to 8.5 percent. A wonderful dessert flight is pictured at the right, including a sublime, exceptional and rare 2005 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Trockenbeerenauslese, also known as a TBA, featuring botrytised Riesling grapes. All in all, an interesting journey through Mosel via SA Prum, a winery with a vast history that continues to produce world class whites.

- Earlier this month, Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays took center stage at the third annual In Pursuit of Balance (IPOB) San Francisco event at the Bluxome Street Winery near AT&T Park where the Giants play. Some of my favorite California Pinot producers were there, such as Anthill Farms Winery and Copain Winery, but I focused on the Chardonnay being poured at the event. Among the standouts: Arnot-Roberts, Hirsch Vineyards, Knez Winery, Red Car Wine, Sandhi Wines, and Varner Wines. Though they varied in terms of appellation, most if not all of the winery participants shared a worthwhile quality: not too much oak. It’s a manageable event that any lover of Pinots and Chardonnays should attend. There’s also an edition that takes place the same week in Los Angeles.

- An additional luncheon in San Francisco focused on Sardinia as a wine region and Sella and Mosca, now owned by the Campari Group, as a producer of a wide range of interesting varietals, including an impressive flight of Cabernet Sauvignons (2004-2006). In the “price/performance” category that the ‘Zilla loves to champion whenever possible, the Sella and Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva DOC 2008 for $12 to $16 per bottle hit the spot, an approachable, versatile Grenache that benefits from two years of aging in barrel. Check it out.

- Finally, last month, as part of an occasional trip to Sonoma wine country, the ‘Zilla had an opportunity to not only check out the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from Jordan Vineyard and Winery of Alexander Valley, but take a tour of the sprawling family property. The wines? The 2008 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon needs some time in the cellar to evolve, but includes the usual winery elements – depth and approachability, with interesting nuances based on the vintage and tweaks to the blend (which in 2008 includes 18 percent Merlot and 5 percent Petit Verdot). The Chardonnay was a nice change of pace, with a lot of apple throughout. The property? We’ll let the photo at the bottom speak to that – It’s an amazing 1,000-plus acres.