Shatter, My Love Story of a French Red Wine

Shatter is a Grenache from Maury in the Roussillon region of France and is the love child of Dave Phinney (Orin Swift – The Prisoner) and Joel Gott (Joel Gott Wines) and is imported by Trinchero Family Estates.

These grapes are grown in a slate like rocky soil called black schist that is nutrient poor but retains heat well, allowing the grapes to reach full maturity while experiencing cool nights.

Strong winds and hot days cause shatter in the grape clusters, naturally thinning the fruit from the vines, producing intensely concentrated flavors.

Here is a video of Dave & Joel sharing how this venture came to be:

I loved this wine upon first sip.  I found it quite intense in color and flavor with dark berry and cherry leading to soft tannins and a luscious lingering finish.  The longer this sat in the glass the more time it had to reveal its complexity and boldness.  French wine made by  California winemakers….A match made in heaven.  Delicious – Buy some!

Once I heard of the Dave-Joel-Trinchero connection I knew why I loved it!  You’ve heard of 6 degrees of separation….well I have somewhat of a 3 degrees of separation story about these guys so here it is.

A couple of years ago I attended a small trade tasting featuring Joel Gott wines and Joel himself was there.  As this was a rather small event pretty much everyone got (Gott – haha) one on one time to pick his brain.  As I was gushing about my love of St. Helena, California and Taylor’s Refresher which is now called Gott’s Roadside (his family owned burger joint), Joel was giving me dining recommendations for our next visit.

I was fat fingering them into my phone as fast as I could and screwing it up royally.  I became quite flustered and broke out into a sweat.  Joel being the lovely human being he is, took pity on me and offered to put them into my phone.  JOEL TOUCHED MY PHONE – HE TYPED INTO MY PHONE!!  It may not seem like a big deal to you guys but I was beside myself!!  I did manage to act cool about it – until Hubby and I got in the car and THAT WAS ALL I TALKED ABOUT.  I am not one to be star struck but I am definitely Wine Struck.  I eat, breathe, and DRINK wine.  Any event that showcases a winemaker – I’m there!  Call me a Wine Groupie, Wino, Lush – I don’t care – I just love everything there is about wine.  Walking through a vineyard and visiting the vines and touching the grapes speaks to me in a way I just can’t explain.  It’s in my blood and part of my soul…..

So now, Dave Phinney…

The last time in the Napa/Sonoma area we stayed at  a lovely B&B in Calistoga called Chateau De Vie.   It boasts amazing breakfasts, lovely rooms, gracious hosts Peter and Philip and charming grounds with a 2 acre vineyard.

View from our room of Chateau De Vie Vineyards

During our stay we were offered a glass of the A-Ma-Zing Chateau De Vie Cab.  The nose was reminiscent of something I’ve had before but couldn’t place and the taste was oh so familiar.  It was then mentioned that their good friend Dave offered to help them out with the grapes from the 2 acre vineyard.  Dave……Dave Phinney.  That’s when the light bulb went off.  Orin Swift – The Prisoner (which is a Zinfandel blend) that, to this day, I still can’t get enough of.

Now, Trinchero Wines….

At a trade tasting we tried four of the upper end wines Trinchero offers and winemaker Mario Monticelli, was in attendance to share his expertise with us.  Again, I was Wine Struck.  This was a small event as well, so I was able to monopolize Mario until Hubby gave me the stink eye.  It probably worked against me that Mario has an Italian accent because I just wanted to hear him speak……anything… didn’t really matter – as along as it sounded Italian….I was mesmerized.

So there you have it, my brush with wine celebrities and my love Grenache and the Trinchero wines.

Cheers to you and drink good wine!

Cuvaison S Block Chardonnay

courtesy of

Toastyoakvanillahazlenutfig.  That’s how I was describing my new favorite Chard to hubby.  You see he was working late and I was stressing about my lack of inspiration for my next blog post.  Recalling recent memories of our wine country vacation led me to the Man Room where all of our wines are stored. In there is The Rack (which is for wines I’m encouraged to pull from) and then, there is The Chiller.  This is usually off-limits to me (which is a good thing) unless Hubby is home and can supervise, but that’s another story for another post. So, as I am pilfering The Rack, I notice the S Block Chardonnay saying “Hellooooo….”.  Honestly, I couldn’t remember what this tasted like but obviously I enjoyed it enough to bring it home.  The first sip had me sitting up in my chair asking “Have we had met before? and, How could I have forgotten??”.

courtesy of

Let me take you back a few months and share how I found Cuvaison [koo∙veh∙ZOHN] .  A friend of mine talked about an amazing trip he took to wine country where Cuvaison was the highlight so I knew I had to squeeze it in. The Carneros tasting room is in South Napa Valley which boasts concrete floors, floor to ceiling windows and a minimalistic, modern decor.  There is a beautiful outdoor patio area overlooking the vineyard from which to sip their lovely libations.  I was so enamoured with this spot I even became a Facebook fan sight unseen.  Well, that’s not where we ended up.  With about an hour and a half to kill, we headed south from the lovely Chateau de Vie  where we were staying (Hello Phillip and Peter!) and saw a road sign for Cuvaison.  I instructed my driver (fellow wine lover and Hubby) to turn, turn, turn!!  I was a bit perplexed however; where were the vineyards and were was that beautiful glass enclosed tasting room??  It turns out they have 2 tasting rooms and we were at the Calistoga tasting room in North Napa.

We purchased a bottle of 2007 Two Estates Red and a 2009 S Block Chardonnay. The Two Estates is a blend of 57% Cab from the Brandlin Vineyard and 44% Cuvaison Estate Merlot.  Hubby loved this one and even though I prefer reds, this was not a favorite. The fruit didn’t dance on my tongue the way I expected and the tannins were a bit harsh.  As suggested, this should be ready to  drink from 2012-2022.  I will revisit this one and look forward to the full-bodied elegance that is promised.  Now, the S Block Chardonnay – Ohhh Yeahhh!  This is golden in color with floral and honeysuckle on the nose followed by hazelnut, fig and toasty oak on the palette.  It finishes with stone fruit (white peach) and a silky, smooth mouthfeel.  Beautiful!  This chard undergoes 100% malolactic fermentation with no fining or filtration.

Cuvaison employs a slew of green initiatives  such as cork recycling and using solar energy generated from panels at the Carneros winery.  This is BIG in my book; remember, support what you believe in with where you spend your dollars!

Now, I just want to say, I love me some S Block, but our visit to the Calistoga tasting room was less than.  The attitude of the host was arrogant and he made some inappropriate remarks related to Hubby’s favorite baseball team.  Next time we will visit the Caneros tasting room as I have heard nothing but good things.  I am holding out hope for a beautiful experience on the patio with a glass of the  lovely S Block Chardonnay, having a fabulous time.

I don’t have any of my own pictures of Cuvaison so I will leave you with a view of the vineyards at Chateau de Vie, the B & B where we stayed ……

Vineyard at Chateau de Vie

Until next, time cheers to you!