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Monday Night Tasting & Deals Brings Out the Faithful

Monday night isn’t exactly date night, but that didn’t prevent more than 70 of the faithful from coming out to taste two flights of great wines at Carpe Vino on Monday night.  Jeff Pisoni, winemaker for Luli wines (plus Pisoni and Lucia brands), made the trek from Santa Rosa to pour five of his newly released wines in our Wine Mine.  And upfront at the Mary Pickford bar, our very own Jay Johnstone was offering one-ounce pours of four additional wines, all at discounted pricing.

Favorites for the evening can be determined through sales, and here are the crowd pleasers:

2010 Luli Pinot Noir $21.95/bottle – $18.99 on 6+ (Last 5 Cases Left in California)
2011 Luli Sauvignon Blanc $14.99/bottle — $12.99 on 6+ (New Release)
2010 Pruett “Lucky Lauren Red” $29/bottle – standard discounts (93 Points Wine Spectator — 8 Cases Left only 120 Produced)
2010 Terraces Petite Sirah $35/bottle — $25 on 6+ (Discount given when processed/can’t show discounted price online)

We also tasted several other wines from Luli including their 2011 Chardonnay and newly released 2011 Rose of Pinot Noir/Grenache and 2010 Syrah. All three of these wines sold very well at the event too!

If you couldn’t make it to the tasting, rejoice because all of these wines are still available and can be viewed/ordered through our online store.  Getcha some soon, though because supplies are limited and we can’t offer this tasty pricing forever!

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If You Want Sum Dat Etouffee, Betta Move It!

Chef Alexander’s New Orleans menu has his fans salivating because choice seating for this week’s prix-fixe is being gobbled up faster than beignets at Café du Monde on Sunday morning.   Tuesday and Wednesday nights still have limited availability remaining; only early/late seating can be had Thursday through Sunday.

If you’d like to join us for this four-course prix-fixe with choices ($49++pp), visit www.opentable.com or call the restaurant at 530-308-2698.  Continue to procrastinate, however, and this riverboat is going to pull away from the dock without you!

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Drop By Tonight and Meet Luli’s Jeff Pisoni

Jeff Pisoni

Just a reminder for those of you who have signed up for tonight’s tasting of five wines from Luli, this Wine Club -only special event is from 6 to 8 p.m. and cost is just $10 per person. Winemaker Jeff Pisoni (and for Pisoni and Lucia brands) will be in da house, pouring his latest Luli offerings: 2011 vintages of sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, Lucy Rosé, syrah and pinot noir (we’ve got just a few cases available of this one). Regular discounts apply:

Jeff will be holding court at our Mary Pickford bar, and our very own Jay Johnstone will be hunkered down in the Wine Mine pouring these wines from his personal stash, all with special pricing:

1.  2009 Wolf Family Vineyards “Phaedrus” Cabernet (Napa Valley) $40/retail discounts down to $29.99 on 6 +.

2.  2009 Turnbull Cabernet (Napa Valley) $40/retail discounts down to $27.99 on 6 +. 

3. 2010 Pruett Vineyards Lucky Lauren Red Syrah/Cab (Sierra Foothills) $29/retail discounts down to $26.10 on 6 +.

4. 2010 Terraces Petite Sirah (Napa Valley) $35/retail discounts down to $25 on 6 +.

We hope you’ll join us for this special event. . .what else do you have planned on a Monday night. Please call 530-823-0320 and let us know you’ll be coming.

 

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Packaged Pefection: Pin-ups…Paso…Port

Cruising around the Central Coast for more than a week recently—primarily in the Paso Robles area—I encountered a disproportionate number of great wines. In fact, nearly every winery I visited produced at least one wine that I felt we could sell easily at Carpe Vino. Yet one of my favorites of the expedition and the only juice I actually trucked home was four cases from PasoPort Wine Company: the 2007 Violeta Port and the 2008 Ruby Port.

mintwineAnd since chocolate is the premier pairing with most port wines, we’ve put together a sweet offer for this rendition of Gary’s Wine Deal of the Week: Purchase the package of four bottles of PasoPort wines shown the photo, and we’ll include a box of Thin Mints to help you create an incredible after-dinner treat. Retail value is $128, but purchase the deal and pay just $100 plus tax, a savings of almost 22%.

I love port. I’m not a huge fan of sweet wine, but for some reason ports of all types appeal to me. Maybe it was because I used to smoke cigars, I don’t know, but a nice shot of port after dinner in the living room just seems so, so civilized.

My trek to PasoPort began at nearby Caliza Winery, where I was treated very kindly by Pam, the vastly knowledgeable tasting room manager (expect to see Caliza wines on our racks soon). As I was leaving, I asked her to recommend a few of her favorite wineries, and she pointed me just down the road.

Climb the hill to the tiny tasting/barrel storage room at the top and you pass by a series of road signs with the images of exquisitely rendered pin-up girls, evocative of iconic figures of the 40’s, yet exuding a unique freshness that make them oh-so appealing. Before even summiting the hill, I knew I was a buyer.

I was greeted in the tasting room by Lola Glossner, wife of winemaker Steve who 20 years ago walked away from Cornell College in Ithaca, NY, with a business degree but chucked it immediately to pursue a career in wine. After cellar rat/harvest stints in California and New Zealand, he studied enology at Fresno State and landed in Paso Robles. He was winemaker at Justin for five years (creating the blending components for the 1997 Isosceles, named to the Wine Spectator Top 100 in 2000). He moved on to help create the opening portfolio for Halter Winery before launching his own his own brand while serving as winemaker for two others in Paso Robles: Steinbeck Vineyards and Per Cazo Cellars

PasoPort RubyOkay, I was hooked on the PasoPort label art and the sultry bottle formats, but it was the substance in the bottle that make me reach for my credit card. Steve makes four beautiful ports, and I selected his Ruby Port, a salute to California-style dessert wines with petite sirah and zinfandel as a major components of the blend. The other bottle is a traditional Portuguese-style port, comprised of 100% Portuguese varietals.

Here’s what you get, all presented in 500ml bottles (typical format for most ports is 375 ml):

Winery Tasting Notes, 2008 Ruby Port: “This 2008 Ruby is brimming with blackberry and black licorice notes on the nose and following through with bright and zesty berry compote qualities in the mouth.” Blend of 52% petite sirah, 40% zinfandel and 8% syrah. 450 cases; 19% alcohol; 9% residual sugar; aged 24 months in neutral oak.

PasoPort VioletaWinery Tasting Notes, 2007 Violeta Port: “This 2008 Ruby is brimming with blackberry and black licorice notes on the nose and following through with bright and zesty berry compote qualities in the mouth.” Blend of 53% Touriga, 28% Souzão and 19% Tinta Cão. 631 cases; 19% alcohol; 8% residual sugar; aged 24 months in neutral oak.

Lola shared something with me that is worth repeating: Port isn’t just a wine to savor after dinner. In many parts of the world, people enjoy port as an aperitif, a delight to be enjoyed before a meal to help tickle your appetite. If that’s true, the four bottles you purchase today won’t last long!

To avoid fouling “Buy Now” button with chocolate, please depress firmly with your pinky finger. We have just four cases in stock, so don’t be bashful!

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Mardi Gras May Be Over but Our Party is Just Starting

Officially, the two-week run up to Mardi Gras culminated on February 12, with nine spectacular krewes parading across New Orleans. The party is far from over, however. . .in fact we’re just getting started with Chef Alexander’s culinary celebration of The Big Easy, from February 26 to March 3. This is our second prix-fixe event of 2013, and if you’d like to join us, you need to make reservations now by calling 530-823-0320. Seating from Thursday to Saturday is nearly sold out, but you can still make choice reservations for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Click here for full menu details and check out these classics:  Crispy Pork Boudin, Mock Turtle Soup (no terrapins will sacrifice their lives for your pleasure), Creole Jambalaya, Crawfish and Shrimp Etouffee. . .and what’s this. . .Oysters “Josephine”?  Sounds like Chef has named a dish after his own progeny. . .little Josephine who just turned two last month, has her name in lights.



For dessert, no beignets from Café Du Monde, but here’s a Cajun classic to finish:  Gâteau de Sirop, literally “syrup cake,” made with Steen’s Syrup, 100% pure cane syrup, family-made since 1910 in Abbeville, LA.  Not adventurous?  Then go with a familiar favorite, “Bananas Foster” with Banana Ice Cream and Rum Carmel.

This prix-fixe menu is four courses with choices and vegetarians will be accommodated. Cost is $49 per person ++, and you can make reservations now by calling 530-823-0320 or go online at www.opentable.com.  Keep in mind that when the restaurant is full, our ability to serve this menu at the bar may be suspended.

Luli’s Jeff Pisoni is in Da House Pouring on February 25th

Jeff Pisoni

Jeff Pisoni is winemaker for the Luli, Lucia and Pisoni labels, will be pouring at Carpe Vino on February 25th.

All Wine Club members are invited to join us February 25th from 6 to 8 p.m. to taste a selection of new releases from Santa Lucia Highlands-based Luli wines.

Owned by the Pisoni family, this is one of our favorite producers in all of California, and we’ll sample the 2011 vintages of Luli Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé and Syrah.  Although they have already been released and are in limited supply, we’ll also taste the 2011 Luli Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

If you know pinot, then you know the Pisonis—Gary (patriarch), Mark (viticulturist) and Jeff (winemaker)—produce some of the finest juice in the Golden State.  The Pisoni label is legendary; the Lucia brand is acknowledged for high quality; and the Luli line represents incredible price/value.

Young Jeff will be joining us for the evening.  He’ll be pouring and answering your questions from 6 to 8 p.m.  Our Jay Johnstone, personal wine consultant, will be pouring a selection of his picks.  We’ll be offering special pricing for all wines on the list, and the cost is just $10 per person.  Participation is limited to 75 people, so call 530-823-0320 to make your reservations.

 

He’s Baaaacccck. . .Gary Returns from 12-day Road Trip

Niner Tasting Room

This is the new tasting for Niner Wine Estates, one of the fabulous new wineries in Paso Robles, owned by a venture capitalist from Connecticut.

It’s great to get out into wine country on the prowl for new wines to bring into Carpe Vino. After nearly two weeks of sleeping in my 15-foot trailer with faithful companion, Moose, however, it was an immense comfort to once again sleep in my own bed.

I was down in Los Angeles for the first few days and then headed up the coast seeking out new juice, starting in Lampoc where I was a guest at Clos Pepe Vineyards for two nights. We parked the trailer inside a open-front utility shed, so it was nice and cozy. . .until the vineyard crew showed up a 7 a.m. and started blasting Mariachi music. I sought out the total winery experience. . .and I got it!

Since we were overnighting on Monday and Tuesday during the winter, there wasn’t much going on in Lompoc. In fact, I suspect there isn’t much going on there ever, though the town does have a Starbucks, so I thankfully I had access to the Internet. For nearly the entire time I was in wine country, though, it was sans cell service, Internet and DirecTV! I survived thanks to my Kindle, and, I have to admit it was a refreshing break from being totally wired.

The good new is I encountered a ton of great wineries in Paso Robles, where I spent three nights parked at Opolo on Vineyard Drive, one of the most picturesque roadways in America. This region has undergone an incredible growth spurt in recent years that is still in full bloom. Big money is investing heavily here, and the new ventures are huge—names such as Niner, Calcareous and Dauo. Yet, the backbone of the AVA remains small, family-owned enterprises.

We’ll be bringing many new Paso Robles wines soon—heavy on the Bordeaux and Rhone varietals, with some interesting surprises, beginning with my Gary’s Deal of the Week on Thursday. I was impressed with Paso on all levels: quality, value, variety and presentation. Perhaps what was most apparent, though, is the stunning level of competition in this maturing AVA.

The highlight of the trip for me (other than spending a great four days with my beloved, Ellen in L.A.) was a random occurrence as I drove home from dinner in Paso Robles on a pitch-black Vineyard Drive. It was about 8 p.m. and I was intent on scanning the roadway for deer when a bright flash of light exploded on my left. It was a crystal clear evening and for just a few seconds I caught sight of a bright orb plummeting to earth.

It was huge, and it seemed very, very close. There was no sound, just a ball of fire trailed by a stubby tail that disappeared below the tree line. My first impression was it was some idiot shooting off fireworks, but I quickly decided correctly that it was a meteor blazing toward the earth.

The next morning I read online that a meteor had appeared near San Francisco at exactly the same time, and it was observed as far south as Gilroy. While I was much further away, I have no doubt it was the same phenomenon. A truly impressive sight!

Cheers,

gary

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Wine Club Mixer Faux Pas: It’s February 25th

When we announced the date of the next Wine Club Mixer in last week’s newsletter, we proved once again that assuming something is correct doesn’t make it so.  Please pull up your calendar and note this correction:  All Wine Club members are invited to join us FEBRUARY 25th from 6 to 8 p.m. to taste a selection of new releases from Santa Lucia Highlands-based Luli wines.

Owned by the Pisoni family, this is one of our favorite producers in all of California, and we’ll sample the 2011 vintages of Luli Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé and Syrah.  Although they have already been released and are in limited supply, we’ll also taste the 2011 Luli Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

If you know pinot, then you know the Pisonis—Gary (patriarch), Mark (viticulturist) and Jeff (winemaker)—produce some of the finest juice in the Golden State.  The Pisoni label is legendary; the Lucia brand is acknowledged for high quality; and the Luli line represents incredible price/value.

Young Jeff will be joining us for the evening.  He’ll be pouring and answering your questions from 6 to 8 p.m.  Our Jay Johnstone, personal wine consultant, will be pouring a selection of his picks.  We’ll be offering special pricing for all wines on the list, and the cost is just $10 per person.  Participation is limited to 75 people, so call 530-823-0320 to make your reservations.

Sorry about getting the date wrong; we’re a long way from achieving six sigma.

-gary

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“Big Easy” Culinary Celebration Starts 2/26

If you didn’t get to make the trip to New Orleans for the not-so-super Super Bowl—like most of us—fret not, because Carpe Vino’s first prix-fixe event for 2013 will transport your taste buds to the French Quarter. Yes, mon amis, prepare to “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”*

Chef Alexander (Who Dat?) knocks it out of the ballpark and into the bayou with his spicy menu: four Cajun courses (with choices) comprise a culinary celebration of the Big Easy. . .we Gauranteeee. From February 26 to March 3 for just $49++ per person, we’re going to serve it all, ‘ceptn’ Jax beer. . .sorry, it’s not a perfect world.

We’re taking you way, way below the Mason-Dixon line into Creole Country where French cooking is corrupted to make it even tastier. Click here for full menu details, but check out these classics: Crispy Pork Boudin, Mock Turtle Soup (no terrapins will sacrifice their lives for your pleasure), Creole Jambalaya, Crawfish and Shrimp Etouffee. . .and what’s this. . .Oysters “Josephine”? Sounds like Chef has named a dish after his own progeny. . .little Josephine who just turned two this month, has her name in lights.\

For dessert, no beignets from Café Du Monde, but here’s a Cajun classic to finish: Gâteau de Sirop, literally “syrup cake,” made with Steen’s Syrup, 100% pure cane syrup, family-made since 1910 in Abbeville, LA. Not adventurous? Then go with a familiar favorite, “Bananas Foster” with Banana Ice Cream and Rum Carmel. Oh, mon dieu!

Spare yourself the same disappointment we all felt when the 49ers were edged out in the Super Bowl. . .make reservations now by calling 530-823-0320 or online at www.opentable.com. Keep in mind that when the restaurant is full, our ability to serve this menu at the bar may be suspended.

See you in NOLA!

*Let the Good Times Roll!

 

Only Seating for Valentine’s Day is the Wait List

Central to the last point above, snooze and you may lose. We’re totally sold out for Valentine’s Day, but we’ve started a wait list. We’re sorry we can’t confirm any more reservations, but we always have people drop out at the last moment. So, if you’d like to get in the queue, call the shop and we’ll let you know if any tables open up.

 

Wine Club Mixer: Luli Release Party, March 25

Ah, the privileges of membership. Carpe Vino Wine Club members are invited to join us for a special evening of tasting new releases from Luli, one of our favorites from the Santa Lucia Highlands. We’ll sample the 2011 vintages of Luli Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé and Syrah. Although they have already been released and are in limited supply, we’ll also taste the 2011 Luli Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

If you know pinot, then you know the Pisonis—Gary (patriarch), Mark (viticulturist) and Jeff (winemaker)—produce some of the finest juice in the Golden State. The Pisoni label is legendary; the Lucia brand is acknowledged for high quality; and the Luli line represents incredible price/value.

Young Jeff will be joining us for the evening. He’ll be pouring and answering your questions from 6 to 8 p.m. Our Jay Johnstone, personal wine consultant, will be pouring a selection of his picks. We’ll be offering special pricing for all wines on the list, and the cost is just $10 per person.

More details to come, but put this on your calendar. . .unless you get a better offer for a Monday evening!

 

Vintage Highway is Touring the Southland

Moose and I pulled my 1958 DeVille travel trailer down to SoCal on Tuesday for a hectic 10 days of exploration and personal discovery in Orange County and beyond. If that sounds too New Age to come out of my keyboard, I am exaggerating. But we do have an action-packed week fit for an aging boomer.

It took eight hours to make the journey down I-5 to where my 15-foot trailer is now parked in Huntington Beach: “Huntington by the Sea,” an RV campground that while very close to the Pacific, you wouldn’t know it by looking out the front window of my rig. We’re in the midst of a large sea of blacktop, and the only green space is where I take Moose to perform his daily toilette. The web site photos failed to reveal the freakin’ power generating plant right across the street. It’s fine, though, and we have all of the comforts of home and more. . .including a heated swimming pool and a spa set at 105 degrees.

I’m down here for a lot of reasons. Yesterday, I participated in a Santa Lucia Highlands wine tasting at a restaurant in Costa Mesa featuring more than 15 wineries. Mostly pinots and chards, and I was really impressed with the quality. Best of all, I was introduced to a half-dozen winery-direct producers, so expect to see some tasty new juice soon. . .stuff you’ve never found in our neighborhood.

My beloved, Ellen, flies in today to join me for a couple of special events we’ve been invited to attend by my alma mater, Columbia College of Chicago, a fine arts school where I studied journalism. The college has a nationally recognized film program, and we’ll be noshing at Fox Studios for an alumni luncheon on Saturday. On Sunday, we’ll be seated with the president of the college at the 2013 ASC Awards in Hollywood. Several Columbia grads are up for cinematographer awards, including for the movie Lincoln. Same dude is up for an Oscar. Should be a fun night. What is weird is I brought down my tux in my ancient DeVille. Retro trailer trash goes Hollywood.

Laura flies back on Monday morning and I head for Lompoc and environs for a few days parked at Clos Pepe. Then, I motor up to Paso Robles for two more nights at Oppolo before heading back to the friendly confines.

It’s a bitch, I know it, but I’ve been training for this for years. Full report to come!

-gary

More information
Carpe Vino (Find Us) 1568 Lincoln Way Auburn, CA 95603
Phone Number: 530-823-0320
Get Directions to Carpe Vino
Retail/Wine Bar Hours Tuesday - Saturday
Noon - 10:00 p.m.
Closed: Sunday and Monday
Dining Hours Tuesday - Saturday
5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Closed: Sunday and Monday
Make A Reservation Guests must be 21 years of age or older.
Reservations are suggested for preferred seating, especially on weekends.