Heros, Human Spirit, Mendocino, nakedwines.com, Napa, sonoma, Wildfires, Wine

My 100th Post

For my 100th Blog Post, I was planning on something reminiscent, like revisiting the wine that started my journey all those years ago.

However, with the devastating fires ravaging Northern California’s wine country, it seems more appropriate to share a way you, my readers and fellow wine lovers, can help.


I’m moved by the bravery of the first responders. You may not know this about me, but  I am former law enforcement. As such, I know what it is like to leave loved ones behind during a disaster and give of oneself to help strangers.

Living in NorCal, but well out of harm’s way, I’m very impressed by the resilience of the human spirit already arising out of the wildfires. Even as the fires rage out of control, people are looking ahead toward recovery and rebuilding. I am amazed and appreciative of the groundswell of support that has started. I’ve seen GoFundMe pages, numerous national and regional charities, and now NakedWines.com stepping up.



As you probably know, I am a supporter and customer of NakedWines.com. Champions of winemakers around the world, NakedWines.com is hosting a site where you can donate to support those affected by these disastrous wildfires. Many of the other donation sites I’ve seen are area-specific, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The NakedWines.com effort covers the whole region. The main recipient of the funds raised will be the Napa Valley Community Foundation, but others will include the Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies in the greater region.

Follow this link if you’d like to contribute: https://us.nakedwines.com/fire-recovery You don’t have to be a NakedWines.com customer to donate, but in doing so, you will truly be an Angel to those in need.

NW Logo

Please give generously to help those affected. If you would prefer to give to a different charity, please do. This is not a competition, and I won’t be offended.

That post about my first taste of good wine? That’ll have to wait until post number 101.

Thank you.

Anderson Valley, Mendocino, Navarro, Navarro Vineyards, Wine

Review: Navarro Vineyards Navarrouge 2013

Navarro Vineyards

I became a big fan of Navarro Vineyards during this past summer’s vacation trip to the Mendocino Coast. Our route took us up Highway 128, through Anderson Valley, one of the prime wine producing areas in Mendocino County. Naturally, we had to stop for some wine tasting.

Flashback to 25 years earlier. We actually lived in Mendocino County, in the Ukiah Valley, just down the road from notable producers like Fetzer and Parducci. Alas, despite living in one of the great wine regions in the world, my wine journey had not yet begun. Certainly, my wife and I appreciated the beauty of the vineyards, enjoying the changes of the seasons and watching the birds swarm overhead during harvest. However, we partook of the end product only on rare occasions. During the five years we lived there, we took frequent day trips to the coast, usually opting for the route through Anderson Valley. Thus, though we’d driven past Navarro Vineyards dozens of times, we had never stopped in.

Returning to the summer of 2015…and am I ever glad we chose to stop at Navarro Vineyards! Navarro Vineyards began operation in 1974, and remains an independent, family-owned winery. This allows them to produce small-batch, hand-crafted wines. Everything I tasted was excellent. (In this post I’m reviewing their Red Blend, Navarrouge, but if you get a chance, try their Grenache. It’s the best I’ve ever had!) The tasting room is small and cozy, while the grounds include a large deck, a beautiful lawn, and a vine-covered pergola providing shade for a picnic area. The deck overlooks the lawn, vineyards, and the rolling hills beyond. The tasting room staff is among the friendliest, and most knowledgeable I’ve had the pleasure to meet. As an added bonus, and a refreshing change when visiting wine country, tasting is complimentary, and the entire tasting menu is available to all visitors.

Navarro View

Navarrouge is their Red Blend. The 2013 blend is 40% Zinfandel, 27% Pinot Noir, 16% Grenache, 13% Carignane, 3% Syrah & 1% Mourvèdre. In years past, the blend was more Syrah-centric, but the winemaker decided to sub-in Pinot Noir as the second in the lineup. The resulting wine is light, fresh, and delicious!


From the Navarrouge 2013 web page:

Zinfandel and Pinot Noir constitute 67% of this vintage with four other varieties making up the balance, in order of importance: Grenache, Carignane, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Each lot was fermented in open-top tanks then racked to seasoned French oak barrels to finish malolactic fermentation and age for 10 months. In late July 2014, Navarro’s tasting panel decided on the final blend; the Navarrouge was bottled a month later in August. Medium bodied backed with soft tannins and flavors suggesting plum, blackberry and cranberry.

Here’s what I thought when I tasted it at home last night:

This is a delicious, unique red blend! The color is light brick, with bright clarity. A plethora of aromas and flavors tantalize – raspberry, cranberry, bramble, white pepper, baking spice, and hints of licorice and new oak. Medium bodied, the tannins are light and there is lively acidity. The finish goes on and on, berries and spice. It’s mostly Zin (40%), Pinot Noir (27%), and Grenache (16%), and Carignan (13%) with a splash of Syrah & Mourvèdre. The best of all of them combine to really shine!

Purchased from Navarro Vineyards, $16

Rated 4 out of 5 stars

Navarro Vineyards wines are not available in stores. To visit the winery (highly recommended), there’s a map below. You can also order online, or speak to one of their exceptionally helpful staff by phone!


Wine, Wine Lover

Sauvignon Blanc: The Next Big Thing?

Sauvignon Blanc has enjoyed a recent rise in popularity [1]. Although Chardonnay remains undisputed king of the white wine world, Sauvignon Blanc is achieving status as the latest trendy wine. All the cool kids are drinking it! I normally shun trends, but I am completely on board with this one. Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and refreshing; great for a warm summer day. It is food friendly, pairing well with white fish, chicken, pork, grilled vegetables, and salads – basically any light, summery food. And it’s affordable! Whereas Chardonnay can run upwards of $40-50 for a midrange bottle (and hundreds for a Grand Cru White Burgundy), the most expensive Sauvignon Blanc at my local Total Wine & More store, a White Bordeaux, is just $54, with the second most expensive being less than $40 [2]. Good Sauvignon Blanc is available for as little as $8 to $12.

Sauvignon Blanc grows well in wine regions all over the world. It has adapted well to the southern hemisphere, with some of the most award-winning wines coming from New Zealand. This summer, I have enjoyed a “world tour” of Sauvignon Blanc, enjoying examples from France, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and California. The California wines I’ve had have come from Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, and Lake Counties, Clarksburg, and San Luis Obispo. Yes, I drank a lot of Sauvignon Blanc this summer!

I have found I prefer California Sauvignon Blanc, with my favorites coming from Mendocino and Napa. However, I recently enjoyed a truly delightful example from Clarksburg. Nestled along the Sacramento River, less than 30 minutes south of the capital city, Clarksburg is a hidden gem of a wine region. The wines are spectacular, and generally substantially less expensive than nearby Napa or Sonoma.

Baron Herzog SBBaron Herzog Sauvignon Blanc 2014 is one of these excellent, affordable wines. It is available at my local BevMo store for $10.99. I found it at Trader Joe’s for just $7.99!

My review, posted on Vivino:

Pale straw color, with aromas of lemon-lime and pineapple. The mouthfeel is light, with lemon/citrus, pineapple, fresh white peach, and tart apple notes. The acidity is bright and crisp, and the finish lingers with zesty citrus, and a hint of sweet elderflower in the back of the throat. A very nice Sauvignon Blanc from California’s Central Valley, and a great value at $8!

If you haven’t tried Sauvignon Blanc in a while, do yourself a favor and get some. Even though the calendar says it’s autumn, the weather still says “summer” here in NorCal. Sauvignon Blanc is a great way to relax and refresh. Cheers!

[1] http://www.iwfs.org/americas/wine-food—friends-1/articles/sauvignon-blanc—better-than-chardonnay-in-wine-food-pairin

[2] http://www.totalwine.com/wine/white-wine/sauvignon-blanc/c/000008?viewall=true&sort=price-desc