Last Taste of Fall


This month’s tasting was graciously hosted by Bruce and Doni. Our regular group of tasters was joined by several guest tasters, including Marni and John Rapf, owners of Buttercreek Ranch Vineyards in Hyampom who shared their succulent Trinity Noir – a signature blend of merlot, cabernet and pinot noir. It was a very special treat to pair our tastings with Doni’s “hoorah” tiramasu while watching a spectacular sunset over rolling hills dotted with hundreds of oak trees.  Is this heaven ?

We added a new twist to our tastings which can be a  regular ritual – each bottle was wrapped in a paper bag, we only knew the type of red or white. After each tasting, the winery and price disclosed. We found we could better focus on the wine itself.  A true “blind” tasting!

With the holidays coming up, here are suggestions from the October 2009 issue of Food and Wine Magazine to help you select wines for those special meals and gifts:

  1. Collectibles: Rare wines are often locked up but if not kept cool they’re not worth safeguarding. If it feels warm, it’s too warm – heat destroys wine.
  2. Cool whites: As a general rule, chill sparkling wines yourself, if they’ve been in the refrigerator for a long time, they can lose their fizz.
  3. Owner’s favorites: Substantial stock in a particular region or type of wine may indicate the store’s owner or buyer has a particular love for those wines. There may be great values or unusual and wonderful wines in that section.
  4. The cheap stuff: Jug and box wines aren’t meant for aging. If they’re covered with dust or the vintage isn’t the most recent one, it’s best to look for something else.
  5. Best sellers: Stores often put best selling wines or wines they want to become best sellers up front. This doesn’t mean they are bad, but here are probably more interesting selections in the store.
  6. Staff wisdom: if you’re interested in a wine, ask whether the salespeople have tasted it and what they thought of it. Gauge how excited they are – if you get a ho-hum reaction, ask for something they are excited about. This goes for wines at every price. Or, mention a bottle you’ve liked in the past, and ask if they have anything at the same price that’s similar.


Hoorah Run out and buy it before they run out.

Yah Enjoyable, would buy again.

Shrug Drinkable, but not memorable.

Nah Life is too short to drink bad wine; marinate something in it.

Grocery Outlet Picks Price Nah Shrug Yah Hoorah
1 Nobilo – Pinot Gris 2007 $3.99 2 6 4
2 Bad Dog Ranch – Pinto Gris 2006 $4.99 6 5 1
3 Tisdale Chardonnay $3.99 2 6 4
4 WY’East Chardonnay 2007 $4.99 2 9 1
5 Doghouse Zinfandel 2005 $4.99 1 9 2
6 Billi Billi Shiraz 2004 $5.99 4 8
7 Magnus Shiraz 2006 $4.99 2 6 4
8 Cameron Hughes Petit Syrah 2006 $4.99 1 4 6 1


#2 Bad Dog Ranch – “Wet, thin and watery.”

#3 Tisdale – “Smells better than it tastes, an everyday Chardonnay – nothing special.”

#5 Doghouse – “Yummy, tastes like a full bodied wine.”

#7 Magnus – “Good legs, could be aged a bit more.”

#8 Cameron – “Drinkable, smooth, on the bitter side, can taste the tannin.”

Don Cohen is a retired commodities trader who has lived in Redding for 10 years. Joy Yoshioka is a retired high-tech exec who has lived in Redding for four years.

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