Matanzas Creek and VJB Cellars Kick Off Spring 2015 Tasting at SSU Winesense Club

Lavendar Field at Mantanzas Creek Winery

Lavender Field at Mantanzas Creek Winery

(Contributed by Erica Schreckenghaust) The Wine Sense Club members kicked off the spring semester with two special tastings with Judy and Bradford from Matanzas Creek Winery and Micah, Mike and Ryan from VJB Vineyards & Cellars.

About Matanzas Creek Winery

Matanzas Creek was founded in 1977, and was the first winery located in the Bennett Valley AVA.  Bennett Valley is a very unique area as it is surrounded three beautiful mountains, Sonoma, Bennett and Taylor, creating a perfect pocket for fog and cool air that rolls in from the Pacific Ocean. The estate is filled with native grasses, whimsical olive trees and beautiful lavender fields.

Judy and Bradford led us through a tasting of four of their most popular wines accompanied with a sensory kit containing various spices, rose petals and more to help aid students taste descriptors during the sensory evaluation of the wines. They stressed the idea that there is never a wrong answer in what you taste in a wine since everyone’s palate is very different, allowing people to pick up certain flavors more than others. They poured their 2012 Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, 2011 Merlot and the 2013 Pinot Noir.

About VJB Vineyards & Cellars

Mike and Ryan from VJB Cellars

Micah, Mike and Ryan from VJB Cellars

VJB Vineyards & Cellars is located in Sonoma where the Belmonte Family opened their doors for the first time in 2003. The name is a tribute to the youngest son, Victor Joseph Belmonte, who died unexpectedly. They pride themselves on offering some of the most popular and most obscure Italian varietals. Their wines can be paired with a cheese and meat platter from their deli or homemade pizza in their outdoor pizza oven. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a nice sunny day.

We tasted three of their very popular wines: the 2013 Primitivo, 2013 Negro Amaro and the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon as a special treat, thanks to Mike.

Favorite Wines of the Evening

IMG_5751IMG_5757At the end of the evening, everyone voted on their two favorite wines. The winners were:

  • Mantanzas Creek 2013 Pinot Noir – a blend of Clone 777 from Bennett Valley and the Calera Clone from Haarstad. Complex cherry and spice with a hint of rose petals.
  • VJB 2013 Primitivo – the Italian cousin of Zinfandel from Sonoma Valley. Bright red fruit with aromas of strawberries and berry bramble.

Tasting Wine History – Chateau Montelena and Seghesio Featured at SSU WineSense Club

photo-2 copyContributed by Erica Schreckenghaust – There was a great sense of excitement for our second Wine Sense Club meeting of the year, featuring Seghesio Family Vineyards and Chateau Montelena Winery. Fifty-two Millennial SSU students attended, and some had to be turned away because the room was at capacity for this taste of wine history.

Seghesio Family Winery

homeranch_webthumb_newSeghesio, established in 1895, in the Alexander Valley, is considered to be one of the historic wineries of Sonoma County.  Hospitality manager, Beau, offered a variety of wines including a 2011 Sangiovese, 2012 Barbera and three different Zinfandels. The students voted on their favorite wine, which turned out to be the Seghesio Home Ranch Zinfandel from Alexander Valley. Some of the vines from this vineyard are over 100 years old.  A second favorite was the Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel, made from older zinfandel vines sourced from across Sonoma County.

Chateau Montelena

MontelenaEstablished in 1882, Chateau Montelena is one of the oldest wineries in the Napa Valley.  It is also famous for producing the chardonnay wine that won in the Judgment of Paris, where it beat out world renown white Burgundies in a blind taste test. Hospitality manager, Katie, showcased five spectacular wines from Chateau Montelena. These included a 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 Riesling, 2012 Chardonnay, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon and finally, a 2009 Petite Syrah. The top two favorites from this bunch were the Chateau Montelena Petite Syrah and Chardonnay.

SSU Students Love Turley and Miraflores Zinfandels at ZAP Tasting

Rebecca Robinson of Zap with Ray Johnson

Rebecca Robinson of Zap with Ray Johnson

The SSU WineSense Club was thrilled to have Rebecca Robinson, Executive Director of Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP), conduct the most recent tasting.  Rebecca regaled the students with the history of ZAP and shared fascinating information about the Zinfandel grape.

Fun Facts About Zinfandel

  • The grape is originally from Croatia where it is called Crljenak Kaštelanski
  • Also quite famous in the Puglia region of Italy where it is known as Primativo
  • Brought to America in the 1800’s
  • Zinfandel Grapes

    Zinfandel Grapes

    Planted throughout the Sierra Foothills, Napa, Sonoma, Lodi, Paso Robles, and many other regions

  • Today more than 50,000 acres of zinfandel in the United States
  • A well loved grape because of its ripe jammy berry flavors and spicy peppery notes
  • Can be made into red zinfandel, white zinfandel (pink wine), zinfandel port, and sparkling zinfandel

A Tasting of Six Zinfandels

The group tasted six different Zinfandels.  They were from Dry Creek Valley, Amador County, and El Dorado County AVAs plus a bonus wine from the Heritage Vineyard which was a collection of different clone tests.  At the end of the tasting Rebecca quizzed the students to see who was listening the best.  Three lucky students each received a bottle of wine for being so zin savvy.

When the voting took place at the end of the session, the two top favorite wines of the evening were the Turley Zinfandel from Amador County and the Miraflores Zinfandel from El Dorado County.