Watch out for Dead Zed Red, a Paso Robles red wine blend

Halfway between Los Angles and San Francisco sits Paso Robles with over 40,000 acres of vineyards and 200 wineries. One of those wineries is Tackitt Family Vineyards where Dead Zed Red is made. Dead Zed Red is a blend of 36% Grenache, 30% Zinfandel, 27% Syrah, 6% Mourvedre and 1% Viognier made by winemaker Leon Tackitt.

The red blend is the brainchild of wine industry veteran John Burke who released who started Vineyard Squadron Wines. Dead Zed Red is the first wine under the new label and was released in early 2018. In addition to John and Leon’s love for wine both served in the Navy. Leon learned about wine and learned to make wine while still in the Navy. Once he retired after serving for 27 years he embarked on his new love and second career.

Leon’s and his wife Cindy’s wines have garnered many accolades for their wines over the years.

The wine is aged in French and American oak.  I tasted it with a burger and they went well together with bright fruit, medium body and mild tannins. It is also best paired with hearty meats & pizza.

Big Chris of The Church of Horror designed Dead Zed Red’s label.  He is known for his work in the horror genre for video game design and art development in the music industry for bands KoRn and System of a Down.

Lunch with Russ Weis, President of Silverado Vineyards

I recently sat down for lunch at Hearth ’61 with the President of Silverado Vineyards, Russ Weis, when he was in Phoenix. We tasted 3 wines while Russ told us the Silverado story, about life in Napa Valley surviving recent wildfires and about the wines.

Russ was practically born into the wine business as the son of grape growers in Madera, California. Russ started his career in Napa Valley in 1987 at Christian Brothers Winery then went on to Robert Mondavi Winery in 1993. He joined Silverado Vineyards in 2004.

The Silverado Vineyards story

Silverado Vineyards was started in 1981 by Diane Disney and her husband, former football player and movie producer Ron Miller. The 6 historic vineyards owned by the winery date back to the 1800s and are located throughout Napa Valley. The winery is currently owned by Ron and his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, with plans to keep it in the family for several more generations.

The wines are made by winemaker Jon Emmerich and associate winemaker Elena Franceschi. All wines are “Grown, Produced and Bottled by” the winery, one of a few Napa Valley wineries that can say that. A small portion of grapes are sold to other wineries.

With over 300 acres of vineyards the wines express the differing terroirs, giving each wine its unique complexity and character. The winery and home vineyard are in the Stags Leap District along the Silverado Trail.

Tasting the wines

During our lunch we tasted the 2016 Carneros Chardonnay and proprietary Cabernet Sauvignons GEO and SOLO from the 2014 vintage.

The chardonnay comes from the Vineburg and Firetree vineyards in the cooler southern part of Napa Valley. The wine is aged in French oak barrels with some in new oak. The wine is clean and well-balanced with oak and acidity. Bright fruit that the Carneros region is known for makes this a great wine to drink by itself or paired with food. It made a nice complement to our shrimp cocktail. The chardonnay is the winery’s second largest produced wine, at just under 10,000 cases.

The GEO Cabernet Sauvignon uses grapes grown on the Mt. George vineyard in Coombsville. The Millers bought the vineyard in 1987 and was the first vineyard planted to grapes in the Coombsville AVA. A splash of Petit Verdot is blended before the wine was aged for almost 2 years in mostly French oak. The wine was soft and enjoyable with good tannins giving you the typical Cabernet mouthfeel taste of blackberries and cocoa and drinks well. Only 2,200 cases are made.

The SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon was the last of the 3 wines we tasted. Made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine is named for the fact it’s made from a single clone. The Silverado- Disney Heritage clone was given “Heritage” status by UC Davis because the new clone was carefully observed and had adapted to the unique soil of the Stags Leap District. It’s one of only 3 Cabernets with this status and the only one from Stags Leap District.

The bold fruit comes from the Silverado Vineyard and offers currants, cassis and plum nuances. It’s aged in 100% French oak with 38% new oak. The wine pairs well with grilled red meats and roasts. 2,400 cases were produced.

Visiting the winery

Silverado Vineyards is open daily by appointment. The winery is at 6121 Silverado Trail, Napa CA. 94458. For reservations call 707-257-1770 or visit their website.

Election night video wine review for The Federalist. Go figure

Crazy night watching the numbers as we wonder who will  be our 45th President. It calls for a bottle of wine or 2 or 3. How about the 2014 The Federalist paying homage to the dueling pistols of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton back in 1804. 50% Zinfandel & 50% Syrah from Dry Creek County. Suggested retail is $17.76, get it 1776, birth of our nation. I wonder what our founding fathers would be thinking tonight.

 

 

Video Wine Review: 2008 Norman Vineyards Petite Sirah

Ever walk by a clearance shelf full of wine and wonder if it’s any good? Most of the time its wines that are past their prime or the winery made way to much that they could not sell and just severely discounted it. Much of the time it’s from wineries you never heard of so chances are you don’t want to take a chance even if it costs only $3.99. That’s been the case when I visit my local $.99 Store, wines at $3.99 that are older and often white wines that have turned darker with age as they’re meant to be drank young and fresh. On occasion you come across a wine that will catch your interest, that is the case with the 2008 Norman Vineyards Petite Sirah from Paso Robles, California.

The following video review is about my take on the wine and how to know if even at $3.99 bottle of wine is worth taking a chance on.

 

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