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Thanksgiving is now officially in the rear view mirror.  I had an enjoyable trip down to San Diego to visit with my family and my wife’s family.  Of course, I could do without the 8 hour plus drive both ways.  What can you do though – and no flying wasn’t an option.  The drive down was worse than the drive up as we decided to stop for dinner which added another hour and 45 minutes to the drive.  The restaurant in Paso Robles we planned to eat at was closed.  We turned to Yelp for help which was a mistake.  Finally, we settled on place only to have it operating at what seemed like a snails pace.  Next thing we know it’s 8 o’clock and we are just getting back on the road.  All that being said, the drive was worth it.  It was nice and sunny in San Diego even if the mornings started off quite chilly (low 30’s).

Both Thanksgiving meals we participated in were wonderful.  The food was great and the wine I brought down did the trick.  With the in-laws, I cracked open a few different bottles.  The Copain Pinot Noir seemed to be a hit.  Amazing how well Pinot pairs with turkey and the trimmings.  After dinner we enjoyed and darker and fruitier Shiraz from Australia.  At my parents house, I sampled some craft beers with my brother before the meal and opened a 2005 Copain Les Copain James Berry Vineyard.  Yes, I do drink my share of Copain Wines made by the critically acclaimed winemaker Well Gunthrie.    Uncorked Ventures has shipped a couple different Copain wines over the last year with lots of good feedback from our wine club members.  Back to the Les Copain which is wonderful wine made from one of California’s top vineyards.  In fact, this vineyard which is owned by Saxum Winery produced this year’s #1 wine according to Wine Spectator.

After a few days of family and relaxation in San Diego, we headed back home to the Bay Area.  Fortunately the night we arrived home our good friends and neighbors had us over for dinner.  Abalone fritters and abalone steaks.  Good living for sure, especially when it was paired with a Rhone-styled white from Paso Robles.   Fresh abalone is a gift from nature for sure.  Just glad to have a good friend who is an accomplished abalone diver.  Needless to say, I slept great Saturday night having eaten well combined with the comforts of my own home.

So you would think that come Sunday, I would be anything but focused on food and wine.  Wrong.  After getting the Christmas tree up and lights up outside I decided another good meal was necessary.  Enter prime steaks, grilled asparagus, fresh baked bread, and a bottle of 2005 Saxum Heart Stone.  Yes, I said Saxum.  Saxum Winery has been on a tear these last few years.  Wine critics have been lauding the work of Justin Smith, owner and winemaker.  The mailing list had grown and now the waiting lists extends a couple miles.  Hopefully the press that comes with Wine Spectator awarding one of their wines the #1 rating for 2010 doesn’t send the winery over the edge which has unfortunately happened to a few other wineries of the past.  One could argue that the hype has been building for a while and that Robert Parker’s rating of 100 points (aka perfect) for the 2007 James Berry had already kicked things into high gear.  Hopefully the winery will keep prices close to what they have been.  Of course all of this was neither here nor there on Sunday night.  Once I removed a good portion of the wax overlay, I popped the cork and prepared for something special.  The wine did not disappoint.  Out the gate the dark fruit flavors and aromas jumped out of the glass.  At first the flavors seemed a bit jumbled up, but with a bit of air everything calmed down.  A “Wow” was uttered from my wife.  Yes, this wine was seriously good as the tannins were well integrated and while this wine is on the higher end of the alcohol scale – it was not hot or jammy.  It was damn good.  Not a bad way to cap the holiday week.

Fast forward to today.  Some new wine club orders had come in overnight.  Always good to wake up and see those e-mail notifications.  Feeling good, I decided it was finally the day to ditch the 1998 style cell and officially join 2010 by purchasing a smart phone.  Enter my new best friend, the HTC 4-G My Touch.  How did I have enough self regulation to let my contract expire and not jump into this earlier.  All I can say is that it took some serious self control.  With a couple business functions scheduled at the end of this week, its good to know that I will have the pocket office with me.  Amazing how powerful these devices have become.  Time will tell if it makes me more efficient.  For now, I know it will make my life a bit easier.

Ok – plenty more ramblings to come, but I will call it quits for now.  I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

With the holidays upon us, I would be remiss to not suggest that you consider Uncorked Ventures for your hard to buy for relatives or friends or even yourself.  We have been getting lots of praise on our shipments.  Just a couple months back we shipped the #6 wine for 2010 according to Wine Spectator.  The 2008 Paul Hobbs Russian River Pinot was and is delicious.  Too bad we can’t get our hands on any more of that.  just wait to see what we have planned for our next few shipment.

Take care.



IMG_7637-1Last Thursday Morning, August 13th, Mark and I visited the Copain tasting room in Healdsburg.  This was my first trip to the Copain property which is quite beautiful.

We arrived at 10am, excited to get started, as I had been talking up Copain for sometime to Mark. I have been drinking Copain wines for a few years now and have been on their mailing list for maybe the last three years.  Needless to say, I am a fan.  In July, I had the opportunity to meet Wells Gunthrie, Copain’s winemaker and co-founder at a tasting in San Francisco.  From my brief interaction with Wells, I gleened how passionate he is about the wines he makes and how they represent distinctive vineyards.  In short, he is just the type of winemaker with whom Uncorked Ventures wants to create a partnership.

IMG_7634-1Upon arriving at the tasting room we were greeted by Juliana, Copain’s Hospitality and Wine Education Manager.  Juliana made us feel welcome and let us know that she was all set to give us a bit of an extended tasting.  According to my notes we tasted through ten different wines.  Four Appellations Series (aka Tous Ensemble) wines were poured with the remaining six wines coming from the more expensive and allocated Vineyard Designate Series.  While you might think this is the full offering from Copain, it isn’t.  Several more Vineyard Designate wines are crafted by the Copain team. The wines we tasted included:

  • 2008 Toues Ensemble Viogner, Mendocino County
  • 2008 Touse Ensemble Rose, Anderson Valley
  • 2007 Touse Ensemble Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley
  • 2007 Tous Ensemble Syrah, Mendocino County
  • 2007 James Berry Roussanne, Paso Robles
  • 2006 James Berry Les Copain, Paso Robles
  • 2006 Thompson Syrah, Santa Barbara County
  • 2006 Les Voisins Syrah, McDowell Valley
  • 2007 Harrison Clarke Syrah, San Ynez Valley
  • 2007 Monument Tree Pinot Noir

From our tasting a few things still stand out.  First, the wines we tasted are well crafted, not overly manipulated.  Sec0nd, the wines from the Appellation Series don’t come across as wines made as an afterthought.  In particular, the Tous Ensemble Syrah is a seriously good wine at a very reasonable price.  Third, the three syrahs we tasted gave us a good lesson in terrior as the flavor profile of each had something different to offer.  Forth, the James Berry vineyard kicks butt.  My favorite wine of the tasting was the James Berry Les Copain.  I couldn’t even get one of my bottles home that day as we opened it with dinner at The Girl and The Fig in Sonoma that evening.  Mark’s favorite wine of our tasting was the Monument Tree Pinot.

Our tasting lasted nearly two and a half hours.  Of course we could have completed the tasting in a much shorter time period, but the team at Copain made us feel very comfortable.  Not only did Julianna spend a good deal of time with us, so did John, Copain’s assistant winemaker, as well as Jennifer, Copain’s Director of Sales.  Each offered us a bit more insight into the wines we were tasting,  as well as their own take on Copain as a winery and what they are about. 


Mark, Jennifer, Juliana, Matt

We look forward to developing what we hope will be a long relationship with Copain Wines.  In the meantime, we continue to gear up for a September Wine Club shipment and encourage you to sign-up on our interest list.

Take care.

Wine is much more than what gets poured out of the bottle.  It is a culmination of mother nature working with vineyard managers, winemakers, and many more folks.  That is why I very much enjoy the opportunity to taste wines with those who helped create it.

Last evening I headed up to San Francisco (Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant) with a couple friends to taste several wines from Copain and to chat with Wells Gunthrie, Co-Founder and Vigneron, along with Copain’s assistant wine maker, John.  The wines being poured included:

  • 2008  Tous Ensemble Viognier, Mendocino County
  • 2007  Tous Ensemble Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley
  • 2007  Copain Monument Tree Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley
  • 2007  Tous Ensemble Syrah, Mendocino County
  • 2007  Copain Baker Ranch Syrah, Anderson Valley

All of wines were quite nice and flavorful.  As usual the Tous Ensemble wines were easy to drink and would be very food friendly.  The Monument Tree Pinot was a bit more weighty than the Tous Esnsemble Pinot which is to be expected and I enjoyed the additional complexity.  My favorite wine of the night was the Baker Ranch Syrah.  Not over the top as its alcohol level is 13.5%.  It paired well with a couple of the cheeses we were snacking on and I already have a couple meals in mind that I would like to try it with. I made sure to grab a couple bottles for me before we headed out the door. 


While I enjoyed tasting the various wines, I probably enjoyed talking with Wells and John even more.  Each of them shared a bit about their wine making philosophies and how that was influencing their practices at the winery and within the many vineyards they work with.  Beyond wine they shared a bit about themselves.  It’s nice to connect with the people beyond wine.  It makes for a more personal connection.  Last night reminded me why I am a fan of Copain.  I look forward to heading up to their winery in the near future and seeing if Uncorked Ventures  can partner up with Wells and his team.

Wells Gunthrie and me

Wells Gunthrie and me

As I may have mentioned in a previous blog, two weeks back I was in San Francisco tasting several Syrahs from K Vintners.  The wines being poured that night were:

  • 2007 K Vintners Syrah, Morrison Lane, Walla Walla Valley
  • 2007 K Vintners Syrah, North Ridge, Wahluke Slope
  • 2007 K Vintners Syrah, The Deal, Wahluke Slope
  • 2007 K Vintners Syrah, Phil Lane, Walla Walla Valley
  • 2006 K Vintners Syrah, Royal City, Columbia Valley

I would have liked to bring home multiple bottles of each wine I tasted that evening.  The Royal City was my favorite, but at $105 (which I think the bottle is worth), I passed as I need to direct more of my funds to Uncorked Ventures vs. the home cellar.  Ultimately, I choose to take home a couple bottles of The Deal as I in fact thought that wine was a deal for the price.   Again all of these wines were varying degrees of very good to great.

The Deal

The Deal

Meeting Charles Smith, the winemaker and owner of K Vintners, was great.  Very enjoyable to speak with.  You can tell he loves his wine and life in general.  I hope to visit his winery and meet more of his team this fall.  More to come regarding K Vintners and Uncorked Ventures in the near future.

Charles Smith and me

Charles Smith and me

I am looking forward to heading down to Paso Robles next week.  I have a couple wineries in mind to visit with and will share with you my experiences.  In the meantime, feel free to drop by our website which more or less officially debuted this week.   Current plans have us shipping wines to our first wine club members in late September. Sign-up at our website if you are interested.  Based on the wineries we are speaking with, you won’t be disappointed in what we will be offering.

Take care.

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