Glee Euphoria Blanc de Noir California Sparkling Wine

Click here for tasting notes.

For reasons I don’t understand, the producer of this sparkling wine, Sapphire Hill, decided to hide behind the Glee moniker.  There is nothing on the bottle to link Glee and Sapphire Hill, but it was easy enough to locate them.

Sapphire Hill Winery, a family-run boutique winery, has been operating in Sonoma County since 1989. It is located on the original homestead of Lucy and Levi Grove who acquired 120 acres in 1869 from Captain John Cooper, a sea captain, merchant, and cattle rancher who originally hailed from New England. He was granted the El Molino Ranchero by General Vallejo, his father in law, who founded Sonoma and is remembered today as a great American who contributed a great deal to California both before and after statehood. His life is essentially the history of 19th century Sonoma and his influence is still evident in 21st century Sonoma.

The only remaining original structure on the property is the homestead chimney made from rocks taken from the Russian River.

Initially, Sapphire Hill began as a 38-acre vineyard located just outside of Sebastopol.  Original winery partners Tim Meinken (winemaker), Anne Giere, John Hall. and Denice Engstrom planted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and later Syrah. At first, the grapes were sold to Rodney Strong, Sonoma-Cutrer, La Crema, and Murphy Good Estate Winery. The partners launched their own label in 1997 using estate-grown grapes, and in 2002 built the actual winery and opened a tasting room in Healdsburg, a charming town situated at the convergence of three renowned grape-growing regions: Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and the Russian River Valley. This strategic location allowed the winery to procure grapes from these esteemed valleys and establish a reputation for crafting award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel.

Continue reading “Glee Euphoria Blanc de Noir California Sparkling Wine”

Langtry Brut Rosé

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The Guenoc Valley in California is east of San Francisco, and just south of the far eastern edge of the East Bay.  Situated in Lake County, grapes were planted there in 1854, and as soon as 1884 it hosted 600 acres under vine.  Its fertile fields attracted a number of individuals who dabbled in wine to a greater or lesser extent, including the legendary actress Lillie Langtry.

The 23,000 acre (9,300 ha) Guenoc Valley is a small inland alluvial fan of Arroyo Seco and Conejo loam soils which are isolated from surrounding areas by rocky ridges. Hot days are common in the region and over-ripening is a constant concern. The area also has very cool nights, making it a Climate Region III.  The Guenoc Valley AVA was approved in 1981.

Lillie Langtry was born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton in 1853 to William Le Breton, a Church of England minister and his wife, Emilie Davis Martin Le Breton.  Lillie was the only daughter in the family of six sons. Her father was a very handsome and cultured man; her mother as beautiful as her daughter would become. They lived on the on the Isle of Jersey, one of the islands that lie in the English Channel . Continue reading “Langtry Brut Rosé”

Lampley Reserve Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine

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The founder and proprietor of Lampley Reserve is Illinois-native Chrishon Lampley, a remarkable African American woman, and the first in the Midwest to go national with a wine brand. She is also one of the less than 1% of wine industry negociants, vineyard owners, or winery owners who are black females in the traditionally Euro-centric, white, male-dominated world of wine. A rarity, to say the least.

Building on over 20 years’ of experience in the wine industry, Lampley launched Love Cork Screw wines in 2013 with six varietals. The operation has since sold more than one million bottles of wine. Still not satisfied, Lampley also offers brand extensions like five wine-scented candles, as well as the new eponymous Lampley Reserve label just now coming to market. On a mission to reinvent how we think about and experience wine, Lampley is also passionate about leveraging her platform to mentor budding entrepreneurs and pave the way for more inclusivity and opportunity for women of color in wine and beyond.

Lampley credits her never-give-up mentality to her father’s entrepreneurial spirit and her mother’s tenacity. Now that her Love Cork Screw portfolio of eight varietal wines, which feature bold, untraditional labels like “Head Over Heels” and “We’re Movin On Up,” are firmly established, Lampley is turning to her new collection of wines called Lampley Reserve. Continue reading “Lampley Reserve Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine”

Cline Nancy’s Cuvee (with tuna souffle)

As you enter Sonoma county from the south on California 121, one of the first wineries you encounter is Cline Cellars, and there could hardly be a better introduction to the Carneros AVA.

Even as a young teenager, Fred Cline learned to make wine from his grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi (yes, he of the hydrotherapy tub, as well as many other innovations). With a $9000 inheritance from Valeriano, in 1981 Cline founded the eponymous Cline Cellars in Oakley, California.

The winery was relocated to its current location in 1991. The property is the original site of the Mission San Francisco de Solano, the 21st and final of the historic California missions. Although the mission was moved in 1823, the Cline tasting room is located in a rustic 1850s farmhouse that is original to the property, surrounded by spring-fed ponds and thousands of rose bushes. The vineyards also reflect this history, with vines ranging from 80 to 120 years old.
Cline is one of the first of the pioneering Rhone Rangers, a group dedicated to wines from the grapes of the Côtes du Rhône in France (ironic for a boy with an Italian grandfather, no?)

Cline also has been a pioneer in sustainable farming. It is the second-largest completely solar-powered winery in California. Natural cover crops are used to nourish the soils, sheep and goats roam freely as they graze on weeds, and compost teas are used as fertilizer. “We’d be considered ‘organic’ if we wanted to follow the rules of the government,“ said Cline. “We are actually more sustainable [than the law calls for] by not following their organic rules.“ He calls his methods “beyond organic.”

Cline Nancy’s Cuvée

The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes for this sparkler are grown at Clines’s Five Sisters Estate Vineyard in Los Carneros, directly behind the winery. This vineyard is planted in rocky soil and yields a small crop. The area benefits from cool growing conditions which lead to a long ripening season adding to the grapes’ flavors

Grapes were handpicked and destemmed without crushing. The juice was cold-settled and then racked to a stainless-steel fermentor where it fermented at 50-55°F. The wine was fermented to dryness without undergoing malolactic fermentation. It was then moved to individual bottles where a small amount of sugar and yeast were added. The wine then fermented in the bottle, which captured the naturally created CO2. Riddling and disgorging followed, preparing the wine for release the year after harvest.

In the glass this wine sparkles with small bubbles and a pale pink color from the Pinot Noir grapes. Aromas of citrus and pineapple lead to a bright tart grapefruit flavor with notes of freshly toasted bread.  For our Easter breakfast, this wine went perfectly with:

Tuna Souffle

I adapted this recipe from a salmon souffle in The New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne.  It was the first cookbook I ever got, and is still one of the best.

3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs flour
1 cup milk
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp dry mustard, or to taste
4 Tbs teriyaki sauce, or to taste
1 cup fresh cooked tuna, or 2 small cans tuna, drained
4 oz. sliced mushrooms, microwaved for one minute (optional)
Hollandaise sauce (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 deg. F.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in flour, and blend with a wire whisk. Meanwhile, bring the milk to a simmer and add all at once to the butter-flour mixture, stirring with the whisk until thickened and smooth.  Stir in salt, mustard, and teriyaki sauce. Allow to cool.
  3. Beat in, one at at time, the four egg yolks.
  4. Flake the tuna and blend well into the white sauce and egg mixture.
  5. Beat the egg whites until they stand in peaks. Do not over beat. Fold the whites gently into the tuna mixture with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, being careful not to overblend.
  6. Pour into a 1-1/2 quart souffle dish, lightly greased with cooking spray.  Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.  Serve with Hollanaise sauce, if desired.

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