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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 Sauvignon Blanc (4)


Weekly Wine News Around the Web

Kiwi Sales Momentum: Sales of wine from New Zealand to the U.S. grew 13 percent in the last 12 months, according to the latest data (Map of New Zealand at left). The growth, as reported by the Shanken News Daily blog, is largely based on the continued popularity of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, which accounts for more than 90 percent of imports to the U.S., the article said.

Vintage to Add Viansa?: Anyone familiar with the drive to Napa or Sonoma Valley has undoubtedly passed the hilltop Viansa Winery. Now that winery is up for sale for around $15 million, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, with Vintage Wine Estates expected to soon close a deal for the 50,000-case operation. A Vintage Wine Estates spokesperson declined to confirm the deal, according to the report.

Labor Challenges in Napa: As we celebrate Labor Day in the U.S. it’s worth noting the increasing issues facing wineries in Napa Valley, where rising wages, competition for workers and a lack of housing will present challenges moving forward, according to this report from Wines and Vines magazine. The news may present some new dynamics for Napa Valley, but it could be a boon for skilled workers in the area, the report said.

We Won’t: A critic at the Wine Advocate Magazine will stop reviewing wines from Friuli’s Fluvio Bressan after the Italian wine producer waded into an immigration debate in his country with a racist post on his blog. “If you are offended by rants… just don’t read them. If you don’t like me please DON’T buy my wines,” Bressan said in a subsequent blog post, as reported by Inspired idea.

“Smoke Taint” Worries: As if the wanton destruction of hundreds of thousands of beautiful, pristine California forest around Yosemite National Park were not enough, smoke taint from the so-called Rim Fire may now impact the harvest in Calaveras County, according to this report in the Calaveras Enterprise.

Big Year for Cooperage: In another clear sign that the American wine industry has rebounded fro m recessionary times, orders for new barrels are up, according to this report. What could be an issue going forward, according to the Wines and Vines magazine report, is high-quality wood. Barrel storage at the Jordan Vineyard and Winery in Alexander Valley, Calif. is pictured at right.



'Zilla's Monthly Wine and Tunes Pairing

Editor’s note: Due to the Labor Day weekend, CORKZILLA is posting the Sept. edition of our Monthly Wines and Tunes Pairing a week late, so that our readers can take it in as they continue to relish those last moments of summer. Enjoy!

By Joe Colgan

Labor Day is a symbolic signal for most Americans that summer has come to an end. But here in  Southern California, summer's grand finale is still a long way down the road. The temperature outside is cookin', the BBQ is working overtime, and baseball is still in full swing. With the very welcomed three-day weekend just past, SoCal CORKZILLA invaded the Santa Barbara wine country for some much needed rest and relaxation; Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez Valley, et cetera, are regions we hope to feature more on the 'Zilla in the near future. Here's an interesting update on the regions current wine climate.

Like last year's Labor Day installment of the Wine and Tunes Pairing, we're going to again go with a Sauvignon Blanc recommendation that has been working well with this sultry/airless/muggy heat that we've been experiencing lately. The 2011 Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, is a beautifully crisp and refreshing wine for a very nice price; $14. Slightly clear in color with grassy green hues, the wine has a subtle tropical aroma with citrus/apple and stone flavors creating a bit of a dry palette. A little high on the acidity, but it adds to a punchiness in the mouth that doesn't offend - at least we're not offended. It's light and deliciously satisfying on a cooker of a day. This weekend it's grilled fish and the Matua.  

To pair with the wine this month, I'm going with a discovery that occurred two days ago while searching the internets. The band/man is Reignwolf, aka, Jordan Cook. Residing in Seattle, WA, Reignwolf has been tearing up the Pacific Northwest with his unique style of blues & rock which he delivers with a tremendous punch. At first glance, you can make the the obvious White Stripes & Black Keys comparisons, but there's a soulful power and intenseness with this guy that's rises above in certain ways. Searing vocals, precise guitar leads, paired with a stack of classic amps behind him and a black 335, Reignwolf is pure Rock. Here's a sample.  


By Ben Heskett

It’s happening. You can almost feel the mood change, the weather shift ever-so-slightly, and the onset of Fall start to arrive. There may be many more fabulous days outside the San Francisco CORKZILLA office, but once September arrives, Labor Day weekend is but a memory, you know the change of seasons can’t be far off, as my colleague above astutely notes in his own pairing.

It’s been a blur of a summer, with road trips, vacations and events combining to create a whirlwind of memories and moments. The time just goes too quickly sometimes, but as we head toward October there is much to look forward to, particularly in the worlds of wine and music.

To accompany these waning summer days, I’ve chosen a truly stellar representation of what’s coming out of Oregon right now – the 2010 St. Innocent Winery “Villages Cuvee” Pinot Noir, a blend of the winery’s younger vineyards with its Vitae Springs vineyard fruit as a common backbone across vintages (65 percent in 2010). Production of this wine varies greatly from vintage to vintage due to the acreage dedicated to younger vines each year, according to the winery’s website.

I’d heard of St. Innocent’s Pinot expertise, but was turned on to this reasonably priced offering (retailing at $24 if you can still find it) as a result of a meal at one of my neighborhood favorites,  NOPA, a restaurant in the Western Addition/Divisadero section of San Francisco with an often interesting, exploratory wine list. It was an eyebrow-raiser, with terrific dark cherry and a lean balance you don’t often find in a Pinot at this price anymore.

Just down the road from NOPA is The Independent, an ever-present club space that has had many names and incarnations. In keeping with the neighborhood crawl, I’ll feature a Bay Area band that plays here often and a tune that has a bounce that reminds me of summer celebrations. ALO, for Animal Liberation Orchestra, has roots in both Santa Barbara and San Francisco, and has hit on a sound that is a great combination of rootsy, funky, jammy musical flavors, a blend as interesting - and a description as applicable - as our wine choice. This acoustic version of “Blew Out the Walls” from a visit to the Relix magazine building is a great example of ALO’s approach, with an electric version here offering a good counter balance.

As a side note, they’ll be part of the wonder that is the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, which takes place for free in Golden Gate Park over the course of a weekend in early Oct. Check them out if you can. Cheers everyone!


'Zilla's Weekly Wine and Tunes Pairing

By Joe Colgan

Ah, finally, the three day weekend is upon us. Although Labor Day reminds us that summer's end is near (gasp!) it's time to kick back and fire up the bbq, perhaps do a little fishing, or head to the beach for some last summertime moments (Mr. Ruth, pictured at right with fish, has the right idea). Wherever you find yourselves this holiday, it will hopefully be full of good food, good drinks, and good company.

A great wine to reach for this weekend is one that has been a go-to favorite of mine for many years - St. Supery's  Sauvignon Blanc. It's a consistently enjoyable wine at a great price - retails around $17. Born in Napa Valley from their estate vineyard Dollarhide Ranch,  St. Supery's 2010 Sauvignon Blanc is very crisp, bright, and pleasantly mouthwatering. I get lots of tropical fruits entering the palette picture - grapefruit, kiwi, and melon. The nose offers full-blown smells of summer - cut grass and lemon. You'll find it can be great as a standalone or a nice complement with many summertime food favs - fish, grilled asparagus, mild cheeses, oysters,...crab cakes! The wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc and 13.7% alcohol. Nicely chilled, it's a great pic for your holiday wine needs. The 'Zilla predicts this will become a regular in your fridge arsenal.

We have to fire up a summertime classic to make the most of these final moments of outdoor fun. How perfect is it that one of my all time favorite tunes for summer, "Everybody Loves the Sunshine" by Roy Ayers, was performed this summer by some friends of CORKZILLA's, The Jazz Mafia Symphony, with Roy Ayers, on NYC's Central Park Summerstage...!?!? Perfect.

Just bee's and thangs and flowers...with a glass or two of wine. Nice way to celebrate summer.


By Ben Heskett

File under: One hit wonder for the last weekend of Summer 2011. Though not official based on our calendar, I’ve often considered Labor Day weekend the unofficial official end of the summer season. Times have changed, as well as geographies, and my west coast experience leaves this assumption a little fuzzy, with beautiful weather often stretching well into October and November. But Labor Day is still often tinged with a kind of sadness and a little bit of a reality check, frankly - It has generally served to whack me out of whatever summertime reverie I happened to be in right back into real world. Whomp!

Well, I’m telling you there’s more than a little summer in all of us 365 days a year, no matter if we live in Florida, the North Pole, or San Francisco’s often foggy climes. To go along with this state of mind, I’ve unearthed a truly dusty, long lost hit (Top 10 on the 1978 charts, no less) from Jay Ferguson, who takes us on a journey to “Thunder Island” thanks in part to the late night TV vehicle known as Don Kirscher’s Rock Concert (Bring it back!).

The video below is a great period piece. Oh, it’s all there. The overall dedication to hair, including the requisite porn mustache on the guitar player, the glittering disco-style lights, and what appears to be some sort of jumpsuit/tracksuit number on Jay Ferguson himself.

Clearly, this song is a guilty pleasure. But it has a lot of the characteristics I ascribe to summer. To go along on our journey to the island, I’ll recommend a recent addition to the ‘Zilla cellar – A compelling Gruner Veltliner from Etz of Austria, imported by the folks at Winemonger. It offers a compelling freshness to go with a late summer breeze, with a crispness (no oak), some light acidity and subtle fruit notes to keep you refreshed. Cheers! Now get after it this weekend...


A Long and Winding Wine Road - Spring Mountain (Part II)

Editor's note: This is the second of two articles based on a recent CORKZILLA on-site visit. If you missed the first installment, comprised of Pride Mountain Vineyards and Paloma Vineyard visits, you can read it here.

SPRING MOUNTAIN ROAD, St. Helena, CA -- Ending a wine tasting day at a fine Napa restaurant is a real treat. Waking up having tasted a fair amount of Napa's offerings is another story. Add a dash of camping, rather than a pleasurable resort and spa awakening, and it can be a slow morning. Undaunted, the CORKZILLA co-founders plowed ahead, packing up the tent and pointing the CORKZILLA-mobile back up Spring Mountain Road for our final visit of the weekend.


Terra Valentine (By Joe Colgan and Ben Heskett)

After a little coffee injection to get the morning started, we decided to check out another recommendation from Wine Spectator's June issue which reviewed several wineries in the Spring Mountain district.

From the moment you pull off Spring Mountain Road at Terra Valentine you can see why this place is referred to as a hidden treasure. The winding and hilly road to the winery takes you past beautiful plots of vines that are surrounded by native forest habitat. The winery itself looks like a European chateau (winery entrance at left), complete with stain glass windows and large wooden doors. Built by hand in 1970 by Fred Aves (a sort of Renaissance man who is credited with inventing curb feelers for cars), the winery sits at about 2,100 feet on Spring Mountain with a very impressive view. A good history and more photos of the vineyards and winery can be found here.

With an annual production of about 7,000 to 10,000 cases (depending on the crop), the winery's main focus is Cabernet Sauvignon. Grapes are cultivated on two Estate vineyards - the Wurtele Vineyard, which is 35 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon located at about 1,000 feet of elevation, and the 30 acre Yverdon Vineyard, which ranges in elevation from 1,800 to 2,100 feet and is planted mostly in Cabernet Sauvignon. The Yverdon Vineyard also yields small amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Syrah, and Riesling.

Our experience at Terra Valentine was nothing if not relaxing. The natural surroundings paired with being on the mountain in the morning air created a perfect vibe for tasting wine. After exploring the winery, our estate guide, Jeanne, led us into a very impressive library (pictured at right below) which served as our tasting venue; apparently the paneling within the library once belonged to William Randolph Hearst. It was here that we sampled a wide range of breeds and varietals - 2010 Rose, 2009 Riesling, 2008 (Amore) Sangiovese - but it was the flight of cabs that really stood out from the rest of the pack.  Their 1996 Wurtele Cabernet Sauvignon was the highlight of the morning, offering wild berries and oak on the nose and a bit of minerality adding to a full bodied palette. It's big and bold with a nicely paced finish. With limited supply left, we were fortunate to bring some home with us.

A hidden gem of the winery may be its suble Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, a restrained wine with less of the citrus and tropical fruit missiles apparent in a lot of contemporary SBs. The notes were light - A bit of pineapple, and some melon. An overall crispness makes it a perfect addition to any summer day or evening.

To top off a wonderful tasting experience, the Terra folks have nailed the elements required to truly showcase the wines - offering a well-thought-through cheese, nut and chocolate plate to go with each portion of the tasting. The CORKZILLA team was impressed with this additional element - many tasting rooms offer a bread stick here and there, but the thoroughness of each combination in this case was unique and impressive.

Overall, the wineries of Spring Mountain we visited offer the wine drinker an array of solid, if not always spectacular, red wines, with a few surprises along the way (see our white recommendations). Perhaps our favorite was the Merlot at Paloma Vineyard (a surprise to the CORKZILLA team), but several other interesting reds also stuck in our heads - a 1996 Terra Valentine Cabernet, the "young" Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignons at Pride Mountain. It is larger wineries such as Terra Valentine and Pride Mountain (Paloma could be viewed as the boutique entrant of the Spring Mountain visit) that face an ongoing challenge - how to keep the wine consumer coming back. By creating a continuing set of quality wines year after year, they're clearly on the right path and CORKZILLA looks forward to the great things to come.

From a certain perspective, Spring Mountain Road offers a Napa road less travelled. Though many wineries along the way are well-established, with all the usual wine tasting trappings, there is a certain laid-back atmosphere that’s a nice change from Napa’s bustling valley floor. At one winery, the CORKZILLA co-founders literally spent over two hours with the tasting room staff, enjoying the wine…and the scenery. At another, we were given an extensive tour of the caves while we tasting the wine. And at yet another, we were given a very, very personal tasting experience we will not soon forget. It's a far cry from some of the "churn and burn" techniques of some of the more popular Napa Valley tasting attractions. For that, we raise a glass to a fine weekend of exploration.