Tag Archives: cabernet sauvignon

Satori Cellars

In Gilroy, California there are many wineries off of Hecker Pass Highway.  These wineries are on the "main drag" of Santa Clara County wine tasting tours that travel from Morgan Hill to Gilroy.  If you are looking for a winery that is off the beaten path (and you are trying to avoid the tour buses of inebriated sommeliers-for-a-day) I recommend going to the East side of Gilroy to visit Satori Cellars.

Satori – is a Japanese Buddhist term for enlightenment that literally means "understanding". In the Zen Buddhist tradition, satori refers to a flash of sudden awareness, or individual enlightenment, and is considered a "first step" or embarkation toward nirvana.

Satori is not just a moment of enlightenment, it is also the first letters of the names of the family that owns and operates the winery (Sandy, Tom, and Riley).  Not every winery has the privilege of having such a unique and meaningful name.  Satori cellars is a small winery in Santa Clara Valley that has 15 acres of grapes and a beautiful outdoor tasting room.  There is a bocce ball court, picnic tables, and a lavender labyrinth garden that you can enjoy while you are experiencing their offerings.  Music is always playing and something is going on every weekend at Satori.

They have a variety of excellent wines, and three of my favorites are: Cabernet of the Blue Hand, Harmonic Convergence, and JoyoUS.

Cabernet of the Blue Hand 2006 Estate – This is a big, bold 100% estate grown wine that will knock your socks off.  It is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc.  I have heard that new wineries take about 10 years to start making good wines from their grapes, but this wine is an exception to that rule.  I have tasted a couple years of this wine ('06 and '07) and I have to say that the 2006 is my favorite so far.  Flavors of black cherry and dusty earth with just a hint of tobacco make this one of my favorite wines. Period.

Harmonic Convergence Estate Reserve 2007 – This is one of the wines that Tom seems to take an exceptional amount of pride in, and he should.  A blend of Petite Syrah (81%), Syrah (11%), and Zinfandel (8%) make this a meaty wine, but with solid fruit overtones.  This wine has an aroma of blackberries with tasting notes of mocha, tobacco, and blackberries.  As you can tell. the blackberry tones really hit me on this wine, in a good way of course.

JoyoUS Estate Reserve 2007– JoyoUS is the go-to red wine in my house.  When we are having people over for dinner and we want to open a bottle of red, we open a Joyus.  It has a blend of flavors that all of our friends and family have found palatable.  Comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon (46%), Syrah (39%), and Merlot (15%) and aged for 20 months in French oak, it is a solid red wine that pairs easily with pasta, steak, or a crisp autumn evening.  Scents of spice and black raspberry blend seamlessly with flavors of smoke and a slight hint of vanilla.

Satori wine labels

Bernardus Winery

logo Out in Carmel Valley is  a cluster of tasty tasty wines produced by some of the friendliest wineries I have been to.  Take a drive down Carmel Vally Road and you will see wineries left and right, one of which is Bernardus Winery.  If you have a group with different wine preferences, or you just love all wine, as I do; Bernardus is a winery that has an impressive range of well crafted wines.  They have Chardonnays, Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir, a Bordeaux blend, and many others.

The tasting room is large with ample counter space to accommodate the crowds that visit on the weekends.  When visiting the tasting room, I recommend going in pairs so that both tasting menus can be enjoyed (the Bernardus Tasting and the Mr. Pon’s Reserve Tasting).  My particular favorites from Bernardus are: 2008 Monterey County Sauvignon Blanc, 2005 Ingrid’s Chardonnay, 2006 Tondre Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2002 Marinus and 2003 Reserve Marinus.

2008 Montery County Sauvignon Blanc – This Sav Blanc is exactally what I look for in a “summer wine”.  It is light, fruity, and fresh while retaining a full flavor and distinct characteristic.  When drinking this wine I am reminded of green apple, pear, and fresh cut grass.  Simply put, this wine tastes like summer.

2006 Tondre Vineyard Pinot Noir – While there are a few Pinots to taste at Bernardus, this one is my favorite because it has the biggest character.  It is not over the top in fruit, which I frankly cannot stand, but has its fruit balanced with a dose of tannins that make this wine a complex character.  Tasting this wine gives flavors of blackberry and light plum while the nose speaks of slight oak and earth.  It may sound like a heavier red wine, but this wine takes the heavier flavors and floats them on a bed of fruit across your tongue.

2003 Reserve Marinus – This is the wine that we jokingly call the “everyday wine”.  It is so good that I wish I could drink it every day, but I think that my teeth would be forever purple if I did that.  This is a bordeaux like blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (86%), Merlot (12%), and Cabernet Franc (2%).  This is a wine that is so dark red it looks opaque in the glass; with flavors of black cherry and hints of tobacco it seems to coat your tongue in a rich, dark flavor.

If you are making a trip into Carmel Valley, this is the winery that you must stop by; just tell Chris or Phillip that I sent you!  While you are in the area, there are many other wonderful wineries to taste at: Talbott, Boekenogan, and Chateau Julien to name a few of my favorite haunts.  Maybe someday I will encounter a reader at a tasting room.  Hey, anything is possible, right?

Jason-Stephens Winery

Take a drive on Watsonville Road and you will see a winery with palm trees lining the driveway and wildflowers growing between the vines.  You have reached Jason Stephens Winery!  We heard about this winery from family friends and were very happy with our experience there.  It is so nice to see a younger winemaker out on his own and being successful.  Jason Stephens Winery has a modern feel to it compared to other wineries.  The tasting room is the the barrel warehouse which is very clean and open.  Lighter colored walls, open space, and high ceilings make it a nice place to be after all the small and cramped tasting rooms.

2007 Estate Chardonnay – This was a nice complex Chardonnay that managed to be very fruit forward while still being oaked.  It smelled of pears and tasted smooth and fruity without being buttery.

2006 Merlot – This was my favorite wine of the ones that we tasted.  It was much more flavorful and complex than other Merlots I have tasted.  It had a good amount of tannins but still was able to be extremely smooth drinking.  I smelled tobacco and berries and tasted earth and more berries.  Now let me say that this is definitely not a fruity wine.  It is still a good strong Merlot for all the berries I tasted and smelled.

2006 Dorcich Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – There were 2 Cabs to taste and this one was our favorite of the two.  This wine had a very dark color, a beautiful purple-red that you would expect from a Syrah.  When I first saw the color of the wine I thought, Ohhhhhhh pretty!  In this wine I smelled cherries and black pepper and tasted smooth tannins and cherries again.  I am not a huge Cab fan, so they have to be extremely smooth for me to be able to enjoy a whole glass.  With this Cab, I could enjoy a whole bottle!  If Jack didn’t drink it first, that is. 

The vines and flowers