2016 GEHRICKE Cabernet Sauvignon

We opened something new last night that we haven’t tried before — a 2016 Gehricke Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County.

When we pulled the cork and saw wine crystals that are a result of potassium or calcium and tartaric acid binding together to form crystals. These little diamond gems are often a result of hand crafted wines.  IMHO, when I see these diamonds, 99% of the time this is an indication of a good wine!

I had to give this wine 3 hours of decanting since I thought it’s still young.  We were rewarded with a very fruit forward wine with aromas of black cherries, blackberries with hints of vanilla and oak.  This mouthwatering wine was soft, but had that young tartness which dissipated into a long finish!  With a few more years this wine will excel!

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2015 Trinchero Red Wine

2015 Trinchero Forte, a Bordeaux style blend from Trinchero Napa Valley just north of St Helena on Hwy 29. This blend of Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot was perfect for watching the Sunday sunset by our fire pit.

Did you know that the Trinchero family is the largest family winery with over 200 acres in Napa Valley. It all started in 1947 with the purchase of Sutter Home and the Trinchero brothers introduction of the White Zinfandel wine and as we say, the rest is history!

The wine has only been released to club members and I expect it to be available to the public very soon. The Malbec is from their Mt Veeder’s Cloud Nest Vineyard and Atlas Mountain Haystack Vineyard, you can definitely taste the mountain dark berries! The Petit Verdot is sourced from the Central Park West Vineyard in St Helena and the Merlot comes from Vera’s Vineyard in South Napa Valley.

This mouthwatering wine was smooth from start to finish with a nice long finish! What a way to start the weekend!

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2018 Acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon

We decided to spend Friday Eve with a nice ribeye and filet mignon, roasted brussel sprouts, accompanied by a Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon from Acclaimed – another QPR wine from Costco!  For under $20, this wine really paired well with the steaks I cooked on my Camp Chef pellet grill.
Don’t know if you have grilled with a pellet grill but, Richard and I are true believers that Camp Chef is our choice for grilling and smoking!
This a big bold wine with aromas of blackberries and cherries and tons of vanilla that greets your taste buds with mouthwatering fruits.  Give this young wine a good 2 hours to open up and enjoy.
Bring on the weekend! What’s your favorite pairing with Cabernet?

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2019 Malbec – Kirkland Signature

QPR alert! This Malbec from the Argentina Mendoza region is aged 12 months in French oak!  What a steal at under $10!  We were truly shocked by the quality of this deep purple color gem with aromas of dark cherries, juicy plums and just a hint of chocolate.

This was just a nice drinking wine from first sip to a nice rounded finish!

Malbec was first introduced to Argentina in 1851 and I honestly think they have proven that Malbec is best from the Mendoza region.  Malbec may have come from France but no disrespect to the French, the Argentinians have perfected the Malbec!

Pick this up at Costco while they still have it. You will be happy you did!

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Stardust Wines 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

Have you heard of Stardust wines? Perhaps you have heard of Michael Dellar?  He is a restaurateur whose restaurants have earned Michelin Stars and James Beard Awards. Along with Mort Friedkin, a real estate developer of extraordinary properties,  Michael Dellar and Mort Friedkin found the perfect property in Soda Canyon after searching for 20 years for the right property in Napa Valley.  A new producer in Napa, their dream became Dellar & Friedkin Vineyard.

We enjoyed this single vineyard 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that is barrel aged for 24 months in 75% new French Oak and 25% neutral French Oak. It is cellar aged an additional 24 months before releasing making this wine ready to drink now. This exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon has a deep garnet color with black fruit aromas and rich jammy fruit forward flavors of black cherry and black currant flavors with a long finish that lingers on the palette. We found this to be a a well balanced Cabernet with polished velvety tannins. This will continue to age beautifully after another 5-10 years  in the cellar. This would pair superbly with a perfectly grilled well-marbled ribeye!

If you follow us on Instagram you may have seen our live interview with Stardust Wines’ owner Michael Dellar, one of the visionaries for this wine. We talked him into a one-of-a-kind deal. He’s letting us give you 25% off his extremely limited production premium single-vineyard cab from Napa Valley. This is being exclusively offered to us whether or not you watched us go live on Wednesday, so this will be our little secret, and thank you for following!

For 25% off all wines – use code STARGAZE when you go to www.stardustwines.com.
As with all good things, this promo code Ends 2/7!

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Port Wine Cheesecake

March 6 is National Cheesecake Day and who says you can’t include wine? Try making this perfect port wine cheesecake. The light flavors of the cheese blend perfectly with the rich flavors of the port wine. Here’s the recipe.

Port Wine Cheesecake Recipe


For the crust:

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup chopped almonds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 stick butter

For the filling:

  • 2 pounds cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup port wine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the crust:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the graham cracker crumbs, almonds, cinnamon, and sugar to a food processor and pulse until combined. Cut the butter into small pieces and melt in the microwave or in a saucepan. Add the melted butter to the food processor and pulse until combined. Press the mixture into a 9 x 14 baking dish and bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

For the filling:

While the crust is cooking, you can prepare the filling. Make sure the crust is cooled to room temperature. Add the cream cheese and sugar to a large bowl and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs to the bowl and beat them into the cream cheese and sugar mixture until smooth. With the mixer set on low speed, slowly add the port wine and the vanilla extract and beat until everything is well combined. Pour over the prepared cheesecake crust and bake in the oven until the cheesecake is cooked all the way through, which should take about 20-25 minutes. Take the cheesecake out of the oven and let cool on the counter at least 15 minutes before serving. Garnish each slice with fresh fruit.


Wine Cheesecake. Prepare the cheesecake recipe as listed above. Use 1/3 cup of sweet red, white, or rose wine instead of the port.

Raspberry Cheesecake. Prepare the cheesecake recipe as listed above. Use ¼ cup port instead of the 1/3 cup that was originally listed. Add 1 tablespoon of raspberry liqueur to the filling when you add the port and prepare the recipe as usual. Garnish this cheesecake with fresh raspberries.

Sangria Cheesecake. The next time you make a batch of sangria, reserve 1/3 cup to make the cheesecake recipe listed above. You can also use store bought sangria. Just substitute the sangria for the port wine.

Champagne Cheesecake. Prepare the cheesecake recipe listed above. Substitute the port wine for 1/3 cup champagne, prosecco, or sparkling wine instead.

Strawberry Wine Cheesecake. Prepare the cheesecake recipe listed above. Use 1/3 cup strawberry wine instead of the port wine. Garnish each slice with fresh strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream.

Watson, Gwen. “How To Make Port Wine Cheesecake”, cheesecake.com, 12 February 2016 https://www.cheesecake.com/Blog/post/port-wine-cheesecake.aspx

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Barrage Cellars Syrah 2014

Have you tasted the “Secret Weapon” from Barrage Cellars?  This “BOLD” Syrah from Boushey Vineyards in Yakima Valley, Washington will make you the James Bond of the wine world!  Plums, blackberries, blueberries aromas with that inky violet color, wow, what a wine!

Kevin Correl (winemaker) and his wife, Bonni, have been making 100% varietals since 2008. Kevin makes two Syrahs, one picked early “Stone and Vine”  from Stoney Vine Vineyards. The one produced from the rocks district of Milton Freewater is a wine more approachable and not as bold as “Secret Weapon”.

I truly love the bold Secret Weapon version, medium plus tannins and acidity that balances well with the dark fruit. It had a very nice finish that equals the boldness. If you ever get a chance to pick up a bottle of this you really should!

Kevin takes it to heart that he never releases a wine until it’s ready to drink!  He ages his wines French oak, American oak from 20 to 26 months, depending on the grape.  He then lets the wine settle in the bottle for another 6 to 12 months!  Well done Kevin!!

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Shafer Winery and Vineyards Visit

Set against the backdrop of Stags Leap Palisades lays Shafer Vineyards established by John Shafer in 1973 and is now in the guiding hands of his son, Doug Shafer.  We visited their new tasting room that looks down on the vineyards along with the 14 small Hillside Select blocks that surround the winery on the east side.  This rugged terrain has produced many 100 point wines!







Upon arrival we were greeted with a glass of 2018 Albarino from their Carneros vineyards, refreshing with notes of citrus flavors! We were then escorted into the tasting room with (5) of Shafer’s finest wines to taste and compare and learn about:

2017 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay from Carneros region.  I’m not big on white wines but this one really catches your taste buds.  This wine see 14 months in a combination of 75% oak and 25% stainless steel which gives the wine it’s creamy mouth feel.

2017 TD-9 whose grapes are sourced within a 2 mile radius of the winery and in honor of the TD-9 tractor John acquired with the property. This blend of 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 62% Merlot and 20% Malbec definitely meets my approval!  They aged the blend for 20 months in new French oak.   I continually revisited this glass of wine in fact we had to take two bottles home with us!

2016 One Point Five from the Stags Leap District, name in honor of the years of John and Doug’s partnership in the family business (one and half generations).  This is one of the only two Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignons that Shafer offers!  The grapes are sources from the Hillside Estate vineyards as well as the Borderline vineyard at the southern end of Stags Leap District.  The wine is age from 20 to 22 months in new French oak.  Dark inky in color with aromas of ripen dark fruits (black cherries, berries and plums) with hints of espresso and toasty vanilla.  Well structure with balance tannins, acidity and fruit that roll across the palate ever so smooth!  The finish is exceptional but this is a wine meant to age for 5 to 10 years, it will only get better!

2016 Relentless, a blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Petite Sirah (named after Elias Fernandez his relentless pursuit for quality).  The blend spends 30 months in new French oak barrels with deep ruby colors giving way to just a hue of purple.  Powerful flavors of dark fruit with hints of dark chocolate and spicy notes that leads to silky feel across the palate and long finish!  This wine is both bold, not in your face and delicate touch that brings you back for more!

2015 Hillside Select, Shafer Vineyards signature wine!  This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon has scored higher than any other single source vineyard for the last 20 years!  The wine is dark ruby in color with some purple along the edges with aromas of black fruits (cherries, berries and plums) with hints of dark chocolate.  The tannins and acidity are medium plus and balance quite well with the fruits.  It has a tight feel across the palate that will soften with age and the finish is long, long and long!  This truly is a wine that needs time in the bottle as in 5 years it be good, in 10 years it will be oh so much better!

The Shafer vineyards is rich with history, from 1880s to 1973 when John Shafer purchased the property, going from commuter train to driving a TD-9 tractor!  Talk about a 180, but it has been nothing but a labor of love for the Shafer’s that can be passed down from generation to generation!  We had a chance to meet Doug and he gave me a signed copy of his book, “A Vineyard in Napa”.  It’s a great read, Thanks Doug!!

You can also catch his new podcast series “The Taste with Doug Shafer … about people behind the food and wine you love.” We find it very enjoyable and entertaining. – Jim



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Grgich Hills Estate Merlot 2015

On our last trip to Napa Valley, we were invited to Grgich Hills during their celebration of the “Judgement in Paris 1976” when Miljenko “Mike” Grgich shocked the world with his crafted 1973 Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena that beat the world! We visited this winery and enjoyed food paired with their outstanding wines.

My favorite was the 2015 Merlot that was so good, I had to take a few bottles home. What a mouthwatering wine, full fruit forward that just rolled across the palate like velvet! The finish was to die for! We give this wine 4 glasses!


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Silverado Club Red 2015

The leaves are changing colors and the nights are getting cooler.
During our Merlot Month celebration, we opened up a Silverado Club Red 2015.

This blend of 74% Merlot and 24% Cabernet Sauvignon was perfect to warm our souls. As always with Merlot, nice black fruit aromas with hints of chocolate that gives a mouthwatering feeling as it rolls gently over the palate ending with a nice finish!

This is a perfect wine to enjoy with a Thanksgiving meal. This wine may be hard to find since it is only offered to Silverado club members.

We highly recommend this crowd pleaser and give this 4 glasses!

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