Picky Wine of the Week: Paso Robles Rhone Blend From Thomas Alexander Winery

Label has the text "Thomas Alexander" with a tiger standing on top.We met Thomas Pitchon while wine tasting and eavesdropping in Paso Robles. We overheard him mention that he was the former associate winemaker for Rosenblum Cellars and now made his own wine. Curious, we struck up a conversation. After asking him a few questions, we learned that his winery, Thomas Alexander, specialized in small production Rhone blends. The longer we talked to him about his wine, the more animated he became, and the more excited we were to try his wine. We got the sense that this guy knew what he was doing. When we got home we ordered a bottle of 2009 Thomas Alexander Les Origines, a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre.

A couple of weeks later, we opened a bottle for Grandpa Picky’s 99th b-day and it was a hit. The wine was very bright and fresh with a touch of spice, and more European in style than most Paso Robles wines. It reminded me of some of Tablas Creek Vineyard‘s Rhone blends. When I asked Thomas about my assessment, he said:

“I do, in fact, source my grapes from the vineyard adjacent to Tablas Creek’s.  But, moreso, I did very much strive to create a more European style wine, that is a nuanced wine, but also powerful as well.  I have always been a huge fan of the Rhone.  In fact, Chateauneuf du Pape dominates my wine collection. After years of making wine for Rosenblum Cellars (heavy, rich wines from all over California), I really wanted to add a deft touch to the wine. Plus, my wife is from France and I needed to keep her happy.” Read More

Paso Port’s Violeta Causing Rifts in Picky’s Home

By Mr. Picky
One recent cold and rainy evening, I was craving something a little different than the usual glass of wine. I was eyeing the contents of the  fridge, when I spotted an opened bottle of 2007 Paso Port Violeta. Ah, the perfect drink for a cold and rainy evening.  As I started to pour a small glass, I got reprimanded by Mrs. Picky.

“That was a birthday gift from Aunt Linda.”

“But I’m just having a small taste.”

“It’s supposed to be for special occasions. I want this stuff to last.”

“But I’m just having a small taste.”

“But it was a birthday gift for me.”

Port Wine from Paso Robles CA - Paso Port Violeta LabelThis was a first. Mrs. Picky has never stopped me from opening a bottle of wine no matter how special it is. At first I thought she was being selfish, but slowly realized that she, like I, loved this port. Since I didn’t want to sleep on the couch, I decided to pour the port back into the bottle, but not before taking a sip of this heavenly juice.

It’s also important to point out that we are not big fans of port. But something about Violeta is so powerful that it is creating conflict in the Picky home. Violeta, Paso Port’s flagship port, is made exclusively from traditional Portuguese varietals and there is a delicate, sweet spiciness that has us wanting more. Read More

Colbert Report Video: Carell On The Effects of Drinking Too Much

Check out this hilarious video from the The Colbert Report about drinking alcohol, as overdone by guest Steve Carell. Perhaps if Carell had purchased the Mr. Picky® Moderation Wine Glass he wouldn’t have vomited in Colbert’s car and would have felt a lot better the next morning.

A Magical Stay at Per Cazo Cellars’ Creekside B&B

We fell in love with Lynne and Dave Teckman of Per Cazo Cellars on first meeting them a few years ago in Paso Robles. As we were driving down Vineyard Drive in Paso Robles, by chance (the definition of the Italian phrase per cazo) we pulled into their driveway, knocked on their door and were invited in for a wine tasting.

As we sat at their dining room table Lynne and Dave told us their story of how they discovered this beautiful property and how Steve Glossner, one of Paso Robles premier winemakers, offered to make their wine. The Rhone and Bordeaux blends were delicious and paired perfectly with select cheeses.

Lynne and Dave also run the Creekside B&B, which is about 50 yards from the Teckman’s home. We had the pleasure of staying there a couple of weeks ago and had a wonderful stay. The B&B was absolutely perfect with a fireplace, king-sized bed, murphy bed, luxurious linens, fully stocked kitchen, and an iPhone/iPod docking station. Outside is a private deck with a BBQ, fireplace, party lights, and chairs. A river runs by the property, which is surrounded by a “forest” of oak trees and plants. That evening we barbecued salmon, lit a fire in the fireplace, and enjoyed our Per Cazo wine. It was a truly magical stay. Read More

Mr. Picky’s Wine of the Week: 2009 Pali Fiddlestix Vineyard Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir

The Pali label is an illustration of hanging red grapes with a vertical bronze bar to the right off the grapes with the white text "Pali" running vertically.Although the 2009 Pali Fiddlestix Vineyard Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir is the Mr. Picky Wine of the Week, it could have been any of Pali Wine Company’s stellar Pinot Noirs. They are beautifully crafted expressing their unique terroirs. It is also very affordable: 2009 Pali Alphabets Pinot Noir, 2009 Pali Riviera Pinot Noir, and the 2009 Pali Bluffs Pinot Noir sell for $15.99 a bottle at Carpinteria Wine Company. In my opinion nobody else makes Pinot Noir this good for this price.

Winemaker’s Notes:
The 2009 Fiddlestix Pinot is medium ruby in color with an expressive nose of Bing cherry, cranberry, blueberry, and iron. The palate is pure and layered, with black cherry, berry, briar and graphite notes backed up by lush tannin and good acidity. This is a rich wine that remains light on its feet, a beautiful combination of juicy fruit and classic early, minerally Pinot flavors. 110 cases produced.

Rating: Stephen Tanzer, 91 points

Where to Buy: Available at Pali Wine Co. for $48 per bottle; lowest price online is $44.50 at Pearson’s Wine & Spirits.

The following article from PrinceOfPinot.com highlights Pali Wine Co. Pinot Noirs. Read More

Red Wine Benefits: Moderate Drinking May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk, Study Shows

New research from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center finds that red wine may reduce risk of breast cancer. In the study, chemicals in red grape skins and seeds lowered estrogen levels while elevating testosterone among premenopausal women who drank eight ounces of red wine nightly for about a month. Use the Mr. Picky Moderation Wine Glass as a fun way to moderate drinking.

photo of woman drinking a glass of red wine

Photo courtesty of www.estatevaults.com

From medicalxpress.com

Drinking red wine in moderation may reduce one of the risk factors for breast cancer, providing a natural weapon to combat a major cause of death among U.S. women, new research from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center shows.

The study, published online in the Journal of Women’s Health, challenges the widely-held belief that all types of  heighten the risk of developing breast cancer. Doctors long have determined that alcohol increases the body’s , fostering the growth of cancer cells.

But the Cedars-Sinai study found that chemicals in the skins and seeds of red grapes slightly lowered estrogen levels while elevating testosterone among premenopausal women who drank eight ounces of red wine nightly for about a month.

White wine lacked the same effect. Read More

Picky’s Wines of the Week: 2008 Jaffurs Bien Nacido Vineyard Syrah, Larner Vineyard Syrah

The 2008 Jaffurs Larner Vineyard Syrah label, like most Jaffurs Vineyard labels, has a framed painting of the Matilija Poppy.Over the holidays we dug into our 2008 Jaffurs Syrahs that we had been saving for more than a year (wine doesn’t last long in Mr. Picky’s cellar) and it was worth the wait. We tasted two beautiful Syrahs: the 2008 Jaffurs Larner Vineyard Syrah, and the 2008 Bien Nacido Vineyard Syrah from our Jaffurs wine club membership. Comparing the two Syrahs is like comparing your children: There isn’t a true favorite, and each is unique and beautiful in their own way. If you’re not familiar with Jaffurs Wine Cellars, they’re located in downtown Santa Barbara, produce some of the best Rhones in Santa Barbara County, and have one of the friendliest staffs in the wine biz.


The 2008 Larner Vineyard Syrah – is the only wine we make exclusively from new French ENTAV Syrah clones. This means the wine has a more spice driven focus. It is elegant, dark, and fruitful. The grapes marry with the sand and limestone vineyard site giving this wine a character reminiscent of the great Northern Rhone syrahs. 43% of this wine was whole cluster fermented. (300 cases produced). Read More

Santa Barbara New Year’s Eve: Montecito Wine Bistro $15 Flight Includes 97 Point Cristal

A bottle of Cristal Champagne next to a champagne glass with a pink, sparkly background.

Photo courtesy of nonsensopedia.wikia.com

The gorgeous new Montecito Wine Bistro and the popular Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro in downtown Santa Barbara are ringing in the New Year with a high-end sparkling wine flight for only $15. Included in the lineup is a 2004 Louis Roederer Cristal, which is described by the winemaker as “a highly seductive vintage, reminiscent of the classic 1988 vintage.”

Here’s the line up:

  • NV Pasqua Prosecco
  • NV Cristalino Brut Cava
  • 2005 Domaine Carneros Blanc de Blanc  (95pts, Wine Enthusiast)
  • 2004 Louis Roederer Cristal (97pts, Wine Enthusiast; 100 Best Wines of 2011 Wines and Spirits)

Here are the addresses for your limo driver. Tell them Mr. Picky sent you!:

Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro (516 State Street, Santa Barbara)
Montecito Wine Bistro (516 San Ysidro Road, Montecito)

Mr. Picky’s Wine of the Week: Santa Barbara Syrah from Dierberg Winery

2008 Dierberg Syrah Santa Ynez label is a simple, white label with a thin, tan pattern running down the left and right sides.

2008 Dierberg Syrah Santa Ynez Valley: The Syrah grapes for this delicious 2008 Dierberg Syrah Santa Ynez Valley were sourced from the coldest microclimate within the new Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara Appelation.


  • Each fermenter is filled with hand sorted, 100% whole cluster grapes which bring a very savory, Rhone-like character to the wine.
  • A three day cold soak was followed by a moderately warm fermentation with native yeast only.
  • Free run wine was moved to barrel “dirty,” meaning that much of the fermentation lees were kept in contact with the wine and an uninoculated malolactic fermentation finished in July following Harvest.
  • After 18 months in 3 year old demi-muids (600L) and a light fining with 6 fresh egg whites per demi-muid, we bottled our Syrah unfiltered.


  • In spite of tentative growth due to drought, the vines put out an enormous number of flowers and the prospect of a very heavy crop load seemed certain.
  • Although we had record heat prior to bloom, it vanished almost overnight and our well-watered plants were vigorous.
  • A lot of hand work was required to manage excessively vigorous canopies.
  • The wines from this wild ride of a vintage have turned out to be absolutely delicious.

2008 Dierberg Syrah Santa Ynez Valley can be purchased for $34 at Dierberg Estate Vineyard.

Picky’s Pick of the Week: 2010 Meiomi Belle Glos Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir For Under $20

I’m not sure why the 2010 Meiomi Belle Glos Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir emphasizes “Sonoma Coast” in its name. It’s actually a blend of Monterey (57%),  Santa Barbara (23%), and Sonoma (20%) fruit. I do know that this is a lush, beautiful wine with amazing balance. This wine is as good as it gets for under $20.

Meiomi (May-oh-mee) is a Pinot Noir, that gets its fruit from the most noteworthy coastal areas in California. The wine is crafted, lush, balanced and luxurious. Three of the California’s most sought after coastal growing regions brilliantly meld together in this deeply flavored, stylish and truly balanced Pinot Noir; at its most fundamental core, it is an approachable, food friendly wine with a style and place all its own.

About This Wine:
Meiomi Pinot Noir is crafted by turning the tests the coastal vineyards offer into opportunities. They say the hardest work of all is making something look easy, and Meiomi smoothly brings the best characteristics of three appellations into a deeply-flavored, stylish and truly balanced wine.

The idea for this style of Pinot Noir was originally produced under the “Sonoma Coast” label, with grapes sourced solely from the vineyards of that region. This 2010 vintage of Meiomi introduces a blend of Pinot Noir grapes from some of the most sought-after wine-growing areas in Region I; the coolest growing region along the California coast and the optimum location for this tempermental varietal. As with all wines from Belle Glos, we bring the same care and commitment to this blend as we do to our signature single-vineyard wines.

Tasting Notes:
Bright, deep garnet color. Aromas of cola, blackberries and a sweet cedar note. A greatly layered palette abundant in flavor and texture. The first entry incases the mouth with a velvety richness. Then the wine unloads with flavors of bright cherry, cola, dried leaves undertoned with vanilla, leather and high style oak. The many layers emerge independently, then refocus while the supple tannins carry the wine through to a lingering, succulent finish. Released September 2011.

Where to Buy:
Lowest price online is $15.94 at ryebrookwines.com. Also available for $16.99 at Costco.com.