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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Constant: Elegant Wines and Stunning Views




Recently we had the pleasure to visit Constant Vineyard standing high above the Napa Valley on the summit of Diamond Mountain.

You know that you are going to a special place as the breathtaking drive takes you up 2100 feet.  When you finally arrive at the winery, you feel like an eagle landing on top of the magnificent Napa Valley enjoying the sensational 360-degree vistas. 
The unique microclimate at the very top of Diamond Mountain provides grapes with optimal sun exposure and elongated ripening periods, providing perfect conditions for the CONSTANT Winery team to make exceptional wines-----Which they Do!

Fred and Mary Constant purchased the vineyard in 1993. The land was overgrown and wild. Fred and Mary worked diligently to clear the land and re-establish the vineyard which had been neglected since prohibition in the 20’s and 30’s. They hired renowned architect Howard Backen to build a stunning house overlooking the valley floor with a full view of Mount St. Helena. The first released vintage is from 1995 under the name CONSTANT Diamond Mountain Vineyard, with winemaker Philippe Melka at the helm. The current consulting winemaker is Paul Hobbs, whose first vintage with CONSTANT was in 2009. In 2016, Aries Liu and Sai You became the property’s owners.

Our knowledgeable host was Amber Brandner who bubbles with extensive wine knowledge. She chose 5 great wines for us to taste paired with a variety of cheeses, smoked almonds and olive oil made on-site.  Paul Hobbs the current consulting winemaker and Kevin Vecchiarelli the CONSTANT winemaker, use their vast knowledge to craft world class wines.  Our tasting included 2011 Cabernet Franc, 2015 Claret, 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2014 Syrah. The food friendly old-world wines were all great.  We especially liked the 2015 Claret.  This powerful silky-smooth wine was a ‘perfect’ blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15%Cabernet Franc and 16% Merlot.  We enjoyed it so much a few bottles came back to Danville with us.

Having been to many of  Napa’s 600 wineries (400and counting), we would highly recommend that you visit this unique winery proudly perched on top of Diamond Mountain overlooking the beautiful Napa Valley.

For more information and to make an appointment go to:
https://www.constantwine.com

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Fabulous London 2019: Food, Golf and Fun




Fabulous London 2019: Food, Golf and Fun

Recently our family had the pleasure to visit the fascinating city of London, England. London is the largest city and capital of England with over 8 million people. It is also one of the most popular tourist cities in the world to visit.

Highlights of the trip included an elegant opening lunch at famous chef Alain Ducasse’s 3-star Michelin London restaurant in The Dorchester. We had the pleasure of dining at his Eiffel Tower restaurant in Paris a few years ago.  Featured was a 3-course lunch that included 2 glasses of French wine.  As a special treat after our lunch and before dessert, we enjoyed the famous” English Stilton Cheese” served tableside and paired with a Madeira port.  Executive Chef Jean-Philippe Blondet gave us a tour of his elaborate kitchen and served us his famous baba rum cake with Earl Grey tea to complete this fabulous foodie experience.

We took a unique London Rock Music Tour which was great. From David Bowie to Pink Floyd and the Kinks, London has been home to some of the biggest rock bands in history. The tour featured Tin Pan Alley, where The Rolling Stones cut their first record, the famous Abbey Road Studios and the road crossing from the famous Beatles album cover Abbey Road.  Paul McCartney’s house, Ringo Starr’s House, Jimmy Page’s house and local pubs and recording studios where many of the famous London Rock Bands hung out. It provided a full tour of the London Rock scene.  Highly recommended if you’re looking for a different perspective of London.

Several other places we visited included The Churchill War RoomsBuckingham Palace and the Royal Mews, the Thames River Cruise which has a view of all the sites of London. The cruise is a hop on hop off tour allowing you to spend more time on various London sites that interest you. We also attended the theatre to see “Tina” which was fabulous. Finally, shopping at Harrods is of course another ‘must do’ experience.

Just 25 miles from the center of the most-visited capital is the London Golf Club in the heart of the beautiful Kent countryside termed the “Garden of England”. It is the home of 2 world class courses. The Heritage and The International which are masterpieces designed by Jack Nicklaus and his design team. Courses opened in 1994 with a sensational skins match between Jack Nicklaus, Britain’s Tony Jacklin, and Spanish legend Seve Ballesteros. Seve was the winner with 10 skins.

The International Course has hosted many professional and amateur tournaments including the 2014 Volvo World Match play and 2017 Brabazon Trophy.  The London Golf Club has also hosted Regional Open qualifying and the European Tour qualifying school. They have tees to challenge all skill levels. The club prides itself with an ‘attention to detail’ and also features an excellent restaurant and practice facility.

If you are a Golfer, we would highly recommend a break from the hustle bustle of London and visit the scenic Kent countryside at the London Golf Club.
For more information and to make a tee time go to:

We concluded this fantastic trip with dinner at famous Michelin chef and tv personality Gordon Ramsey’s ‘Lucky Cat’ Restaurant.

Located in Mayfair and a short walk from The Grosvenor House where we stayed, this Asian inspired restaurant is one of 15 Ramsey restaurants located in London. This restaurant just opened in June and has an elegant and modern decor. The food is made in an open kitchen and designed to share with your friends.  We especially enjoyed the short rib buns, pumpkin tempura, pork belly, shiitake and pork kamameshi and assortment of unique and tasty desserts.

We truly felt like 3 ‘Lucky Cats’ after enjoying an exciting full week in the fascinating city of London. By the way, it never rained the entire week we visited the city. September is prime weather time for touring.

“London Rocks” with a worldly energy filled with lots of history, restaurants, shopping, tour attractions and classy kind people. We definitely will return soon.
Fabulous London 2019: Food, Golf and Fun



Saturday, August 24, 2019

Bulgheroni Wine Estate: Producing Classic Cabernet Sauvignon

Recently my wife Linda and I had the pleasure of visiting Bulgheroni Wine Estate in St. Helena, California. Famous Wine Maker Philippe Melka makes this great wine. He also makes the top of the line Phase 5 for our friend Mike Davis who owns Davis Estates.  Wine expert Michel Rolland and New Zealand native Matt Sands assist Philippe in creating this world class Cabernet. 

Our host for today was Estate Director Michael Ploetz. We also had the opportunity to meet and discuss these great wines with New Zealand native and assistant Winemaker Matt Sands.

Our tasting was done in their elegant tasting room. We had the pleasure of tasting 5 of these carefully crafted Cabernets. 2014 Alejandro Bulgheroni Lithology, 2015 Lithology Beckstoffer To Kalon single vineyard, 2016 Lithology Beckstoffer Dr. Crane single vineyard, 2016 Alejandro Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and concluded with a 2014 Lithology with a blend of mostly To Kalon Cabernet and a small amount of Petite Verdot.

We enjoyed all of these full- bodied wines that had a ‘polished and smooth’ taste and especially enjoyed the last wine.  Matt was kind enough to sign a bottle of this ‘sensational’ wine that we took back to Danville with us for a future special occasion.

This is definitely a winery experience to add to your Bucket List. 

For more information and to make an appointment go to: 
https://www.bulgheroniwine.com/Contact

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Coyote Moon: One of The Finest Golf Experiences in The Country


Recently my wife Linda and I had the opportunity to play Coyote Moon Golf Course located in the beautiful historic town of Truckee, California. This is a place where Golfers can truly experience High Sierra golf at its finest. Located more than 6,000 feet above sea level, Coyote Moon is a delight for the senses, as the well-maintained fairways lead to memorable, panoramic views.

Designed by Brad Bell, a former PGA player, this is a spectacular course that sits on 250 acres of pristine beauty, with towering pines, wildflowers and Trout Creek that meanders throughout. The fresh mountain air and a course without any homes is a unique experience for everyone to try.

Head pro Jarrett Bower has worked at the course since its opening 20 years ago. He is proud to say, “the course has been rated in the top 100 in America.”The memorable downhill par 3(see picture) is a hole that you will always remember and share the experience with your golfing friends. The course is challenging but playable for all level of golfers.

We would highly recommend you put this course on your ‘bucket list’.

NCGA members also receive a discounted rate after 1:00 pm.

For more information and to make a tee time go to:

https://coyotemoongolf.com

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Melka Estates: Producing World Class Wines

Recently, my wife Linda and I had the pleasure to do a private tasting at Melka Estates. Philippe Melka is a known Winemaker making wines for many Napa wineries for 20 years.  He also makes the top of the line Phase Five for our friend Mike Davis who owns Davis Estates.

Born in Bordeaux, one of our favorite wine regions in the world, Philippe and his wife Cherie founded Melka Estates in 1996.  They produce 4 distinct labels reflecting their philosophy of soil driven wines. He made his debut in 1996 with 240 cases of Metisse. 
 
Melka Metisse La Mekerra Vineyard is a Bordeaux blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. La Mekerra takes its name from a river in Algeria. The fruit comes from an 8-acre vineyard in Knights Valley. Only 175 cases are produced each year.

Melka Metisse Jumping Goat Vineyard is a Cabernet dominated wine which made its debut in 2003. A 3.5-acre St. Helena vineyard with its gravel soil planted to a blend of 2 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, .65 acres of Merlot and .3 acres of Petite Verdot. Not much Melka Metisse Jumping Goat is produced. On average 440 cases are produced each year.

Melka CJ made its debut in 1996. Produced from grapes planted in Soda Canyon, Coombsville and in the north of Calistoga takes its name from Melka’s children Chole and Jeremy. Production today is 1525 cases.

Our knowledgeable host today was Sylvie Laly. 

We began our tasting with a 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Knights Valley. This was aged for 22 months in French Oak Cigar barrels. Per Philippe, “ it is like no other due to the elevation of the vineyard and its soil profile.”

We also tasted the 2016 CJ Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015 Mekerra 100% Merlot from Knights Valley and 2016 Metisse from Jumping Goat Vineyard.

We especially liked the CJ Cabernet that was a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, and  7 % Petite Verdot that was intense, opulent and vibrant. We took a bottle back to Danville with us.

The 100% Merlot was also outstanding. Philippe describes it as “a Merlot made for Cab lovers meant for aging with many layers of complexity and richness.”  One of these also went back home with us.

We would highly recommend this great winery on your next visit to Napa.

To make an appointment to experience these ‘world class’ wines, go to:  
https://www.melkaestates.com/

Friday, June 21, 2019

Established 1927: Corica Park



Recently my wife Linda and friends played the new $20 million renovation in Alameda called Corica Park. From our home in Danville it is a 45-minute drive. This track established in 1927 was recently renovated by famous golf course designer Rees Jones. 

The cooler temperatures in Alameda make for a pleasant golfing day.

As part of the renovation, there is a nine-hole par 3 course rated in the top 13 in America. It is great for practice or for a quick round.
 
The South course is the only Sand belt Australian style course in the San Francisco Bay Area.

It has a selection of tees to challenge all golfing skills. Linda found the ladies tees to be very fair and friendly. New Yamaha golf carts have GPS to help you with your yardages. The greens are in great condition, large and very fast.

For lunch we ate at Jim’s on the course.  They have a wide variety of reasonably priced food and drinks.

Bottom line, Corica Park is worth a visit to experience the rich history that renowned architect Rees Jones has brought back to life. 

To make a tee time go to:
https://coricapark.com/

Monday, June 10, 2019

Pebble Beach: 2019 US Open Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a special day for many and extra special for my wife Linda and Hall of Fame son MJ.   In 2008 at Torrey Pines, MJ Won the Golf Channel’s essay contest. The essay had to be 200 words or less and MJ’s was selected from over 25,000 submitted. 

The prize included $10,000 of golf equipment and prizes and being the guest of the Golf Channel for a week at the 2008 US Open. 

The week was highlighted with an appearance on National TV on Father’s Day.
 

This year the USGA invited MJ to Pebble Beach on Father’s Day Of the 2019 US Open. It was extra special as this was the 100th birthday of famous Pebble Beach. The USGA did an inspiring film of MJ’s many accomplishments during the 2018 US Amateur held at Pebble Beach.

Each year we think about these experiences and share this great essay with our friends and family. Enjoy MJ’s winning 2008 US Open Golf Channel’s Father’s Day essay.

I have been playing golf with my dad since I was 5 years old. 

Having been born with a walking disability, he taught me to always focus on my abilities and not my disability. 

As a result, I have won seven straight Northern California State Championships, three National Championships, and have been inducted into 2 Halls of Fame 2004 San Francisco And 2006 Michigan having been born there.

He taught me golf like life is a hard game. But, with a positive attitude, proper instructions, practice and a will to win anything can and will happen. In a round of golf, never, never give up.

He also said enjoy the beauty and the many friends you meet in this game. He often told me you can go out as a single player and meet 3 strangers on the first tee and by the end of the round be friends for life. 


Finally, he told me to never get nervous on the first tee. Like life getting off to a good start is very important. 

Thanks Dad. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Calmere Estate Winery: Outstanding Property Producing World Class Wines

Calmere(Calm Sea) Estate Winery is owned by the Peju family. This winery has a majestic location with outstanding views of San Pablo Bay and produces world class wines. 

Our host today was Derek. He was very knowledgeable and bursting with information about their ‘great’ wines.

We experienced an extensive tasting of these great wines on comfortable couches sitting outside overlooking their sensational and heavenly vineyard.  Some highlights of this tasting included a sparkling Rose that was a smooth blend of Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc.  We also enjoyed the 2017 Reserve Chardonnay that had a smooth and oaky finish.
In addition, we especially enjoyed the 2016 Clone 667 Pinot Noir from Carneros. Being a Cabernet lover, this is a rich full-bodied Pinot. All 3 of these wines came home to Danville with us.

After our tasting, we enjoyed lunch at nearby Boxcar. The fried chicken and waffles, fried oysters, root beer floats and honey pecan pie lived up to their reputation for ‘greatness’. It was also very fun enjoying these fantastic foodie delights in a casual setting complete with picnic tables. 


For more information and to make an appointment go to: 
 
https://www.calmereestate.com/

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Napa: Gemstone Vineyard


 

Recently, my wife Linda and I visited Gemstone Vineyard in Yountville. Long time Northern California residents, the Marks Family, purchased this Napa Vineyard in 2008.

Well known Napa Winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown creates 3 worldly acclaimed wines, Heritage, Alluvial and Ruby Red Selection on this pristine 16-acre property. 
 
Per the web site, “Like every precious stone, every wine is unique.” 
 
Shauna was our knowledgeable host today. We enjoyed her passion and joy as she explained the details of these world class Cabernets and the history of the estate. We were treated to a side by side tasting in the newly remodeled tasting room overlooking their vineyard on a sun splashed morning. 
 
We tasted the 2016 Heritage and Alluvial 100% Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Both were rich, full bodied wines with exceptional smooth finishes that were a joy to sample. The Heritage had an inky rich color and was bursting with multiple fruit flavors. The Alluvial was more complex with a sensational structure designed for any future special occasion. 2016 is being described by wine critics and vintners as a near-perfect growing season in Napa.
 
We especially enjoyed the Heritage and took a few bottles back to Danville with us. We would highly recommend tasting both of these wines to our wine enthusiast friends.

After the tasting, we enjoyed lunch at the famous Thomas Keller’s newest Mexican restaurant in Yountville, La Calenda meaning ‘celebration’.  

The decor and service were warm and friendly. It was also very fun watching these Mexican masterpieces being prepared in their open kitchen.

We especially enjoyed the mushroom and fish tacos, margaritas and churros for dessert. There are no reservations required and they are open every day for lunch or dinner. 

For more information and to make a reservation, go to: 
http://www.gemstonevineyard.com/

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Napa Treasure: Peju Province Winery

In an effort to visit all 600 Napa wineries (400 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently visited Peju Province Winery.

Founded by Tony and Huerta Peju in 1982, the winery is still family owned with daughters Lisa and Ariana at the helm. You feel you are arriving at a special place as you wind thru the perfectly trimmed Sycamore trees to the elegant winery and perfectly manicured grounds. 


Our host today was Ryan who was full of interesting stories about this great wine. We sampled. 13 wines and finished with their port in their elegant tasting room with a huge stained-glass mural.

We especially enjoyed the Fifty/Fifty Wine, a unique blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Ryan described this wine as the ‘little black dress’ because it goes with everything. The Zinfandel was also very enjoyable and described as ‘Croatian Sensation’ since our friend and famous Winemaker Mike Grgich is known to have discovered these grapes. We took a few bottles of Fifty/Fifty and Zinfandel back to Danville with us.
  Ryan also had an interesting story about the Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc having a ‘vineyard baby’ that resulted in Cabernet Sauvignon.  We concluded this extensive tasting with some of their port that went very well with chocolate candies,

We would highly recommend that you visit this Napa gem. They just opened another winery in Carneros called Calmere. We look forward to visiting this winery too in the very near future.

After the tasting, we enjoyed a great lunch at charming Goose and Gander in St. Helena. 

For more information on Peju and to make reservations go to: 
http://www.peju.com/