Tudor Wines Crowning Touch at Major NYC
On April 9, 2013, a stellar tag team of Monterey area-based chefs barnstormed Manhattan, showcasing the best food and wine of California’s lush Monterey Bay region. They included Ted Walter from the well-loved Passionfish in Pacific Grove, Tim Wood of the sumptuous Carmel Valley Ranch and John Cox from Sierra Mar, a spectacular restaurant overlooking the Pacific in Big Sur. Sampling the bounty were food, wine, and travel writers and critics from CBS, Bon Apettit, the NY Times, Food & Wine, Travel and Leisure, and other publications.
For the climactic flavor experience of a gourmet spread including spot prawns, red abalone, sand dabs and Dungeness crab from the Monterey Bay, along with the area’s signature artichokes and grass-fed beef, sommelier Ted Glennon of Monterey’s historic Restaurant 1833 chose an unusual and relatively new dessert wine on the market, Tudor Wines’, Maestral “Wein der Eisbox” Riesling.
Maestral is inspired by the European tradition of ice wines, in which vintners press grapes harvested after freezing weather arrives. But Tudor Wines, which produces a family of highly-rated pinot noirs and also makes Maestral, have welcomed technology into the picture. Their ice wine is made from late harvest Riesling grapes grown at Tondre’ Vineyards, a noteworthy property on the hilly slopes in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, just inland from California’s Big Sur Coast. But instead of waiting for a freeze that will never arrive, the clever winemakers simply pop their flavorful grapes into a big freezer. The result is a wine with lush minerality and fruitfulness, a light and bright finish, yet relatively low alcohol content. Its lingering notes of apricots, honey and jasmine make it the perfect finishing note for a terrific meal.
March 2012 Newsletter
These are exciting times. Tudor Wines is inaugurating a new second label with the first-ever ice wine from the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. By the time you read this newsletter, the first bottling will be complete. It’s made from late-harvest Reisling, and only 260 cases, in a half-bottle format, will be available.
The beauty of a well-made ice wine is that both the acid and the sugar become concentrated. This wine tastes amazing, a heaven-sent nectar with lush notes of apricot, peach, and orange blossom, then more citrus notes on the finish. The alcohol is 10.5%, with a residual sugar of 21 and a final acid of .98. Our target date for releasing the Ice Wine is May 1st.
We’ll be among the twenty-nine Santa Lucia Highlands wineries pouring at an event for trade and media from 1 to 4 PM next Tuesday, April 3rd at the Carmel Mission Ranch in Carmel. It’s a beautiful 22-acre property with views of Point Lobos as well as Carmel River Beach. Admission is free to qualified wine industry buyers and media folks. Contact email@example.com to arrange your visit.
Our next big event is on May 19th. That will be the sixth annual Santa Lucia Highlands Gala. It’s the only SLH public event of the year, and the 2011 edition sold out completely. We’ll be gathering at the Mer Soleil Winery, up near the northern end of the AVA, north of Gonzales. Admission is $85 per person, and you can expect terrific food and music was well. For more detailed information, and to secure your tickets, go to http://www.santaluciahighlands.com.
Our Tondre Vineyards Barrel Selection for 2007, formerly available only to wine club members, is now in full release. Only seven barrels of this best-of-the-best wine were made, and it received 92 points from Wine Enthusiast, which called it “A truly beautiful pinot noir.” I’m personally setting aside 10 cases. We really recommend that you go online and order this great wine right away, because it’s already going fast.
November 2011 Newsletter
A Perfect Harvest
With heavy rainstorms predicted, we waited on the already-ripe pinot berries to soften just a little bit and become even more fully developed. Then, eight hours before the storm hit, we harvested the vineyards. I think it was perfect timing. There were barely any seeds in the berries. The sugar wasn’t too high. There’s plenty of natural acidity. The color of the juice is amazing and the flavors are incredible. We all have a great vintage to look forward to. Meanwhile, we’re allowing the riesling grapes for our Radog Wines label a little more time on the vines, taking advantage of warm days while they last.
Rain with Benefits
After that good soaking rain, the wild mushrooms bursted out extravagantly in local fields. We collected 15 pounds of porcini in about an hour and a half, plus two very rare, very hard to find agaricus augustus mushrooms. They’re known as the Prince mushroom, and they’re probably the tastiest mushroom of all. You usually only see them in the spring and the summer.
With all those mushrooms on hand, I made a batch of porcini risotto big enough to feed a dozen people. The porcini – two pounds of them, plus the two agaricus augustus – were added at the last, just like a vegetable, so they would stay tender. If you’ll go to www.tudorwines.com and click on the RECIPES link, you’ll find a version using dried porcinis, which you can gather in the supermarket if you don’t have time to go trekking in the hills.
Speaking of Great Food
We recently enjoyed an awesome foie gras dinner at Andre’s Bouchee, the bistro in downtown Carmel where you can order tastings of Tudor pinot noirs. All five courses featured foie gras, with even a light accent added to the delicious crème brulee desert. The evening was a big hit, and Andre wants to repeat it soon. We’ll keep you posted when a date gets set.
Wine Club News
Our wine club shipment for Fall 2011 will go out on Monday, October 31st. It will highlight our superb 2007 vintage, which we will also release for tastings next week at Andre’s Bouchee. There’s still time to get in on the shipment: Just click the WINE CLUB link on our web site and choose which of the two levels sounds best to you – either two 12-bottle packages annually, or two 6-bottle packages, with free shipping plus 20% off.
The Festival Trail
We’ve got the Big Sur Food and Wine Festival on Friday and Saturday, November 4th and 5th. There’ll be a “Pinot Walkabout” from noon to 3 PM on Friday at the Henry Miller Library. Check www.bigsurfoodandwine.org for more details.
On Saturday, November 12th, we’ll be joining the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association event, The Best of the Blue, in the Del Monte Aviation Hangar at the Monterey Airport. “Blue” refers to the enormous ravine at the bottom of Monterey Bay, called The Blue Grand Canyon, and its contribution to the maritime weather patterns that make Monterey County such a winemaker’s heaven.
The main event costs $60 and is from 1 to 4 PM, with over 50 local wineries pouring. Gourmet food trucks will serve everything from sandwiches and salads to Cuban fare. Further details are at http://montereywines.org/annual-events/.
The evening of Thursday, November 17th will find us at an all-pinot tasting at Zeph’s One-Stop in Salinas, a wine and spirits store with a huge selection. Call 831/757-3947 for more information.
September Newsletter 2011
Cool Days, Magnificent Wines
We’ve been having a super-cool growing season in the Santa Lucia Highlands. With harvest coming up very soon, it looks like the vineyards will yield only about a ton and a half to two tons per acre. The bunches of grapes are so tiny, you can hold them entirely in the palm of your hand. Most of the berries are too small to even have seeds.
These low-yield harvests mean concentrated, complex flavors. I think that our 2011 wines, when they’re finally ready for release, will be comparable to the superb 2007 vintage that we’re selling now.
Until this month, our 2007 pinot noirs have been available only to Wine Club members. But now non-members can also purchase this terrific vintage on line at www.tudorwines.com. With this much bottle age, it’s tasting awesome.
Trade and Press
The Winemaker Artisans of Santa Lucia Highlands, which includes us, will be rolling out two Northern California tasting events this month, with 25 wineries pouring for trade and press only. The first one happens at the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento on Monday the 19th, from noon until 6:30 PM. The Citizen is a beautifully updated 1920s building right in the center of town. The next day, Tuesday the 20th, we’ll be pouring at Scott’s Seafood Grill and Bar in Walnut Creek. Scott’s is a traditional-style seafood restaurant with a long history in the Bay Area. They’re at 1333 N. California Avenue, and the event is from noon to 6:30 PM. Space is limited, so if you’d like to sign up, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of the Blue
Coming up November 12th in Monterey is the first edition of a post-harvest festival that the Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association hopes to make an annual event. Monterey Wine Country’s Best of the Blue Wine Tasting is named in honor of the Blue Grand Canyon, an undersea gorge in Monterey Bay, and its profound effects on the microclimates of the county. Monterey County has nine AVAs and 42 varietals under cultivation, so it should be a fantastically diverse festival. Tickets are only $60, which includes gourmet food as well as wine tasting. We’ll supply further details as the festival gets nearer, or you can learn more at www.montereywines.org.
Something really new for us: We’re going to make a Monterey County ice wine this year, based on late-harvest Riesling. More details coming as we launch the process.
Tudor Wines in China
The Chinese public is intrigued with wines, eager to learn more.
We’ve just hooked up with a new Hong Kong distributor, and we’re constantly being added to wine shops that are springing up all over Mainland China.
Tudor Wines are now distributed in Canada as well.
We’re planning another Silver Sea Cruise through the Adriatic, like the amazing one we did in 2007, in a luxury craft that stopped at various ports, including our ancestral home village in Croatia. It will take months to work out the details, but we’ll keep you up to date in upcoming newsletters.
June 2011 Newsletter
Midwest Wine Dinners This Week
We travel to the great Midwest this week for a couple of winemaker’s dinners, and hope some of you in the vicinity may join us. The Local Eatery is in Noblesville, Indiana, just a few miles north and east of Indianapolis. We’ll be there, pinot noir in hand, on Thursday, June 23rd, at 7 PM. They’ve got tremendous reviews for their cuisine, and the all-inclusive price is just $40. It’s reservation only, so please RSVP to email@example.com, or phone 317/218-3786.
Return to Andre’s Bouchee
On July 6th we’re back at Andre’s Bouchee, Carmel’s wonderfully authentic French bistro, where we had a fabulous winemaker’s dinner just last year. Chef Andre Lemaire’s French cuisine has a California flair, and we make a French varietal from highly select California vineyards, so the flavor marriages for each dish should again be absolutely perfect.
Coincidentally, July 6th is the Dalai Lama’s birthday – one more reason to celebrate with us. For reservations, call 831/626-7880.
Bubbles Coming Up
We’ve mentioned in recent newsletters how exports of Tudor wines to Asia and Europe have been growing rapidly. In some foreign markets, Tudor pinots command between $300 and $500 a bottle. (Which, we hope, helps you see them as an amazing bargain here in the States.) Along with a growing number of high-end winemakers – including Chateau Montelena, Blankiet Estates, Close de la Roche, Canon la Gaffeliere and Louis Latour – we’ve instituted a high-tech solution that will guarantee the authenticity of our wines. It’s called the Bubble Tag Authentication Seal. Beginning with our shipments to Asia, but soon on all foreign and domestic shipments, each bottle of Tudor pinot noir will come affixed with a tamper-proof device, about one square centimeter in size, displaying a unique pattern of micro-bubbles. With a computer or a smartphone app, you can quickly and easily authenticate your bottle online.
The problem of counterfeit wine has probably never crossed your radar before – and we hope that it never does – but in fact millions bottles of of fake wine are sold annually.) The more prestigious the winemaker, the better target they make for the bad guys. Which is why we’re joining the vanguard of protection, to make sure every bottle of Tudor pinot noir you open is the indisputable real thing.
The official release date for our 2007 vintage is coming up this fall, so we’ve been sampling, and giving preview pourings. The lengthy bottle aging has done terrific things. We’re sold out on our ’05 wines, and the ’06 is drinking incredibly right now. We expect to be sold out of ’06s by fall.
We think the European tradition of long bottle aging for top-quality wines is best. Just like violins and guitars, average wines won’t improve much with age, but great ones will develop amazing character as time goes by.
We’ll alert you to our 2007 release as soon as we’ve decided on the date.
Film (Pinot) Noir
We’re planning to produce a brief and informative video on Tudor pinot noir, so we’d love to hear from you. In the whole cycle of creating pinot noir, what would you most want to see, or to learn more about? The vineyards and their special care? History of the varietal? The harvest and crush? Winemaker’s strategies to derive the best expression of terroir and vintage? Please help us shape our concept: Just go to the CONTACT link at www.tudorwines.com, and send along your thoughts and ideas.
Our New Tasting Room
We’re terrifically pleased to announce our new tasting room for Tudor Wines, just opened within Andre’s Bouchee, the superb California-influenced bistro-style French restaurant in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea on Mission Street, only two doors south of Ocean Avenue.
Tastings will be offered at the cozy wine shop to the side of the restaurant, with the wine bar right now featuring four of our elegant 2006 vintage pinot noirs, made in a classic Burgundian style, with Wine Spectator ratings of 90, 91, and 93. Price of the tasting is $10, and a complimentary Reidel Burgundy glass is yours to keep.
Wine Spectator praises Tudor Pinot Noirs for their rich and savory, full-bodied and intense nature, with a spectrum of floral, mineral, and dark berry, cherry, and plum notes on the nose. They express our family’s viticultural traditions, which go back centuries in time, to the island of Hvar, which lies off the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. If you visit, Andre’s Bouchee, you can generously sample our 2006 Balo Vineyards Pinot Noir, rated at 93 points, Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, rated at 91 points, our 2006 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and our 2006 Sarmento Vineyards Pinot Noir, both rated at 90 points. Please see the inviting Andre’s Bouchee web site, at http://www.andresbouchee.com/, for times of operation and contact information.
March News 2011
Ritorno a Bellavino
On Thursday, March 24th, we’ll be returning to Westlake Village and the terrific Bellavino Wine Bar, where we had a splendid, very delicious winemaker dinner just last year. Bellavino has won the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator every year since 2007, so they are super-knowledgeable in pairing food and wine.
The evening begins at 6 PM with a reception, where I’ll be able to answer all your questions about Tudor Pinot Noirs and Radog Wines. We will start with sparkling wine and a cheese plate, moving to appetizers of Spicy Bison Meatballs paired with 2007 vintage Radog Gewürztraminer, a pleasantly dry Alsatian style wine with only one percent residual sugar.
The entrée will be a paella featuring shellfish, chorizo and chicken with green peas over Saffron Rice. We’ll be pairing the paella with selections from deep in the library – a 2004 Tudor Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, a 2006 Tudor Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, and a 2006 Tudor Sarmento Vineyard Pinot Noir, offering you a chance to taste the nuances of different vintages, different vineyards, and longer bottle aging.
Dessert will be Apple Blossoms, a puff pastry confection of Granny Smith Apples spiced lightly with cardamom and vanilla bean. The wine to be poured with dessert is our semi-dry 2007 Radog Santa Lucia Highlands Riesling. We look forward to seeing you there at Bellavino, in the Paseo Market Place at 3707 Thousand Oaks Boulevard. Please call 805/557-0202 for your reservation.
April: San Francisco Try it and Buy it Event
Another thing that worked out beautifully in 2010, and that we’re extremely happy to be doing again soon, is the San Francisco Vintner’s Market, a “taste and buy” event. It will be held on the weekend of April 9th and 10th at Fort Mason, on the bay between Fisherman’s Wharf and Crissy Field, where regulations left over from old days of being a military base allow you to not only taste the many wines to be offered, but also immediately bring your favorites home. Just like hauling home fresh produce from a farmer’s market. We had a great time there last year, and fully expect the Spring 2011 version will be just as wonderful. Please visit www.sfvintnersmarket.com for details.
Wine Club Notes
We want to especially thank all our loyal wine club members. Once people join our wine club, and enjoy our surprisingly deep membership discounts along with shipments of their favorite wines, they keep on being members for years. We really appreciate that. Right now, our 2007 vintage is being released only to members of the wine club. Since both our 2007 Tudor Tondre Vineyard Pinto Noir and our flagship 2007 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir scored 92-point ratings from Wine Enthusiast, we think that’s a superb incentive. Except for shipments to club members, release of the 2007 won’t occur until fall. Please see www.tudorwines.com to join.
In the Winery
In early tastings, our 2010 pinot noirs are massively flavorful, just like the 2007 vintage that recently won such high ratings. To do this great vintage justice, we plan at least two years of bottle aging.
Recently we invited friends over for a vertical tasting of Tudor Tondre Vineyard Pinot Noir from 2000, 2005 and 2007. It was exciting to see how beautifully the wines are aging, since any imbalance gets accentuated by time, especially in such a subtle wine as pinot noir. The 2000, just like its newer cousins, had a silky mouth feel, abundant fruit, and perfect balance. It tastes like a Grand Cru burgundy.
Shipments to China continue to grow, lately including more magnums and single vineyard wines. The people of Asia are quickly developing an appreciation for American wines, as least in our experience, which is a welcome bright spot in the balance of trade.
Barreling a Great Vintage
Our 2010-harvest pinot has just begun its barrel time and our 2009 vintage just started its two year journey of bottle aging. Both vintages look great. Wonderful color and fruit, stellar potential.
Stalking the Wild Porcini
Meanwhile, early rains along the Central Coast have me expecting a fine crop of wild porcini mushrooms sprouting among the pine trees of the Monterey Peninsula. I’m planning a wild porcini hunt there week after next, early in the morning, afterwards pairing the mushrooms with pinot over a nice lunch. If you’d like to join me, please call at 831/224-2116 and perhaps we can coordinate the date.
Pinot Days in Chicago
Our first 2010 pre-holiday event will be Pinot Days in Chicago, on November 13th at the Navy Pier. We’ll be pouring at the Grand Festival on Saturday, the 13th. It’s organized into a trade-only tasting from 11 AM to 1 PM, at no charge, and a public tasting from 1 to 5 PM, at $50 per ticket. Top local caterers and restaurants will serve pinot-friendly appetizers while 60 or more winemakers (including us) will pour for your pleasure. From more info, please check out www.pinotdays.com.
San Francisco Event
Just in time to choose wine for your Thanksgiving feast, we’ll be pouring at the San Francisco Vintners Market, from 1 to 5 PM on Saturday, November 20th and Sunday the 21st. The event is at Fort Mason, located along the bay between Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate. Since Fort Mason is a former military base the law allows this to be a “Try it and buy it” event. If you taste a wine and love it, you can buy it right there and take it home. Tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the door. More information is at www.sfvintnersmarket.com.
Dinner in a Carmel Bistro
My friends in Carmel tell me that Andre’s Bouchee, a French Bistro, might be the best restaurant in that beautiful town, so we’re excited about the Tudor Winemaker Dinner happening there on Thursday, December 2nd. The chef is still deciding on menu details, but full information should be posted any minute now at www.andresbouchee.com. Just click on the words Specials Events. It will be a five-course dinner, wine included, for $99 (plus tax and tip). You can call (831) 626-7880 for reservations.
More in San Francisco
Crush Barrel Wine Markets, which are also held at Fort Mason, feature that same “Try it and Buy it” opportunity. Crush Barrel has been so popular that we’re coming back for their sixth event of 2010. It happens on November 20th, from 7 to 10 PM and again on December 4th from 12 to 5pm. Tickets are $48 in advance, and that includes a $10 rebate on your first wine purchase. Please check out the details at http://vinomoda.com/event/crush-barrel/, and I hope we see you there!
We enjoyed a great pre-harvest vacation, kite surfing world-class beaches in Sumbawa, Indonesia, an island close to Bali. Day after day we feasted on big, long waves that peeled off the reef every two or three minutes, with just enough side-offshore wind to kitesurf glassy, smooth walls. Even though it was Ramadan, the Muslim month of prayer and fasting, our local friends would always join us on the beach in the early evening to raise a toast of Patron Tequila to the perfect conditions.
Now, of course, all our focus is on the big cycles of the winemaking season. We just bottled out 2009 vintage, which will be ready for release in two years. It already tastes fantastic, with huge red-berry fruit, a dark ruby color and really nice structure. Definitely on a par with our best vintages.
Last weekend, just as harvest was about to begin, we poured wine at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club, a place where we always see lots of long-time friends and customers.
Because of the extra-cool summer, this year’s harvest is late but it holds amazing promise. The weather gave us a light to medium-sized crop, with grapes that ripened slowly. All that “hang time” on the vines, plus a fairly small yield, translates to really intense flavors. It reminds me a lot of the exceptional harvest of 2007.
Next up, on October 17, is a big private event in Beverly Hills at the Bel Air Ridge clubhouse.
The Chicago edition of Pinot Days – now in its fourth year – will have us in the Windy City from November 7 to 13, joining pinot noir producers from all the major regions in California and Oregon. Pinot Days always puts on gigantic, comprehensive events. We’re scheduled for a pair of winemaker dinners at two of Chicago’s greatest restaurants, Everest and Province.
Everest has an incredible view – 40 stories up above the Loop – and has been one of the city’s best-regarded restaurants for 20 years, with cuisine inspired by the cooking of Alsace-Lorraine. Province, which is drawing near its second birthday, features American cuisine with lots of influence from Spain, Central America and South America. I’ll have more dates and details for you in our next newsletter. Meanwhile, I’m headed back out to the vineyards to see a great crop of fruit come in.
From Las Vegas to San Francisco
We’ve been having some great times at tasting events lately, including a spectacular one called Vegas Uncork’d, presented by Bon Appétit. This was the fourth one, and the biggest so far with 50 celebrity chefs – including Bradley Ogden, Alain Ducasse, Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck and Cat Cora. We poured at the Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesars Palace and collected a huge number of compliments for how perfectly Tudor pinot matched with all the outstanding cuisine. If there was a “People’s Choice” award, I believe we’d have won hands down.
If you missed that one, we hope to see you in San Francisco, either at the Crush Barrel Wine Market in early September or the California Family Winemakers event that comes up in late August.
Crush Barrel Wine Market
On Saturday, September 4th we will be pouring again at the Crush Barrel Wine Market at Fort Mason, where you can enjoy sweeping views of the Bay between Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate. The first Crush Barrel event happened in early June, was jam-packed by a lively crowd, and featured women’s fashion boutiques as well a huge selection of wineries. The September 4rd event goes from noon to 5 PM, with live music and a $10 rebate for wine purchases with each ticket. Advance tickets are $40. There’ll be excellent barbecue and delicious cupcakes to go with the wine. You’ll find information at http://vinomoda.com/event/crush-barrel/.
Radog Riesling Scores with Wine Spectator and in Shanghai
Radog Riesling recently won an 85-point Wine Spectator review (“Apple cobbler, juicy ripe peach and citrus notes have a soft tang of acidity that balances the fullness in the sweet-tasting flavors.”) and a heap of praise for being such a tremendous value at only $14 a bottle.
It seems equally appreciated on both sides of the Pacific: Radog Riesling is now the official by-the-glass white wine at Just Grapes in Shanghai. And our very first order of Radog Wines just boarded a ship bound for Japan.
Speaking of Value
Here’s a special alert for restaurateurs and wine retailers: Now both Tudor Wines and Radog Wines are available to you by direct purchase. Shipments will be quicker – often just two days via UPS – and minimum orders smaller. Please visit our websites, www.tudorwines.com and www.radogwines.com, and call or email us for an order form.
Family Winemakers of California
We’ll be happily returning to Fort Mason on August 22nd and 23rd for the 20th anniversary of the annual Family Winemakers of California wine tasting. Not only does this event highlight the many family-owned wineries of California, it’s the biggest and widest-ranging tasting of California wines anywhere – an awesome selection of varietals from large and small wineries all over the state. On the first day, which is a Sunday, the event will be open to trade from 1 to 6 PM, and to the public from 3 to 6 PM. The second day is trade only, from 1 to 6 PM. Early bird tickets (before August 1st) are $45. You can find out more at http://www.familywinemakers.org/, under the heading “Tastings.”
Elephant-Sized April Special
Our incredible ’07 vintage pinots are now ready for release to Tudor Wine Club and Tudor Premier Club members only. We believe they’re even more magnificent than our ’06 wines, which all scored Wine Spectator ratings between 90 and 93 points. What’s even more exciting is that hand-painted elephants, gentle giants imported from the teak forests of Thailand, will deliver your Spring 2010 shipment right to your door, while your neighbors look on with amazement.
This may sound like an April Fool’s Day joke, but it is 100% true. Except possibly the part about the elephants.
The rest of the announcement – a new vintage of Tudor Pinots that just might be our best ever, now available to members only – is the absolute truth. The small harvests of 2007 brought intensely-flavored berries of beyond-exceptional quality, and a more limited bottling. If you aren’t already a member, please go to www.tudorwines.com and sign up by April 15th to be eligible for the upcoming shipment. General release of our ’07 vintage is scheduled for fall, by which time it might already be sold out.
Meanwhile, we hope to see you at some of the great events now on the calendar, including…
Taste and Buy in San Francisco
Fort Mason, strategically perched between Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate on San Francisco Bay , will host the First annual San Francisco Vintner’s Market on April 10th and 11th. Usually it’s against the law to buy wine by the bottle or case at a tasting event. Thanks to Fort Mason’s 112 years of history as a military base, this is a unique “Taste and Buy” festival. There will be 200+ wineries from throughout California and beyond, in a sort of Farmer’s Market gathering. For complete details, go to www.sfvintnersmarket.com.
Angel Island Wine Festival
Providing protection on the opposite side of the Bay, Camp Reynolds was the military outpost on Angel Island, just offshore from Sausalito. You arrive by ferry boat or by tram, and have a view line that takes in the Golden Gate and the S.F. Skyline. The Angel Island Wine Festival, on May 1st, will be an open-air event with live music and a handful of top wineries. More details at here.
Close to Home
The Santa Lucia Highlands are home to most of our source vineyards, and this marks the fourth year of the Highlands Fling, a gourmet food and wine event highlighting pinot, chardonnay, and other wines produced from these hills on the western flanks of the Salinas Valley, just east of Big Sur. We’ll be among the 30 or so wineries pouring on Saturday, May 15th., from 2 to 5 PM at the sumptuous Hahn Estates property near the town of Soledad. Tickets are $85. For complete information, please check their site.
Monterey Wine Festival
2010 is the 33rd year for this great event. It begins on June 10th at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, down on old Cannery Row, and continues on the 11th and 12th at the Monterey Convention Center. Many of the top restaurants from Monterey and Carmel will be serving signature appetizers, while over 300 different wines will be available for tasting. Details are at www.montereywine.com. Tickets are separate for each event, but you can get a $20 discount by ordering your tickets from the event website and using the Coupon Code “wineclub” (without the quotation marks) when checking out.
Santa Lucia Highlands in the Spotlight
Coming up at Hahn Estates in the Santa Lucia Highlands, on Saturday, May 15th from 2 to 5 PM, Tudor will be among 27 winemakers offering tastings of wines sourced from the great vineyards of the Santa Lucia Highlands. Sample limited release gems and hard-to-get vintages, and paired to elegant hors d’oeuvres from master chefs. Incredible Pinots. Luscious Chardonnays. It’s a winemakers’ celebration and you’re invited! Admission is $85.
Meet us at Bellavino on March 10th
Richard Beloff has created one of California’s most inviting wine bars, down in laid-back Westlake Village, and he’s just invited us to present a special evening of Thai food paired with Tudor and Radog wines. It’s scheduled for Wednesday, March 10th. Bellavino is an elegant space, and the staff is excited about adding Thai to their repertoire. Details are posted on the Bellavino web site, www.bellavinowinebar.com.
The Et Voila Experience
Shortly after, on Friday, March 19th, we’ll be the featured winemaker at Et Voila, the outstanding French bistro on Los Osos Road in San Luis Obispo, just west of the 101. What we love about this restaurant: the menu is different every week, built around the best-of-season offerings from local suppliers. Dinner Includes Wine Tasting & Light Appetizers unit 6:45. Wine at dinner will be available for purchase by the glass or bottle.
Most of you have already tasted some of our Pinot’s. We will be bringing a wonderful collection of Alsatian whites and the full lineup of Pinot Noir. This is an event not to miss! Please call the Et Voila Restaurant at 805.544.FOOD (3663) to make your reservations soon at it will be sold out quickly.
San Francisco Vintners Market
You’ll see us back at Fort Mason again on April 10th and 11th, this time for The San Francisco Vintners Market, which is going to be the very first event of its kind. Fort Mason is a former military base, so the usual prohibition against “Try it and buy it” has been lifted. You can not only taste the wines – with more than 300 wineries from California and around the world represented – you can also buy what you like on the spot and take it home. The tastings will be from noon to 5 PM on both days. For details, please check out www.sfvintnersmarket.com
May and June
We’ll be having a lot more wine dinners and events in May and June, and will send you the news in upcoming newsletters. Cheers!
The Good Life at Your Place
Our on-line special is bringing Tudor wines to a tremendous number of homes over the holidays. All through December you can take 25% off any order of Tudor pinot noir. With six or more bottles, shipping drops to just one dollar.
Between the discount and the nearly-zero delivery charge, you’re in the neighborhood of direct-to-trade prices. The offer includes our designates rated by Wine Spectator at 90, 91, and 93 points.
Here’s how: Just visit www.tudorwines.com and choose what you want. Confirm your order. A box appears. Enter FRIENDOFTUDOR. Your discount is totaled automatically. Of course, you make that good deal even better when you order six bottles or more.
For a Holiday Season They’ll Never Forget!
Here’s another special for your consideration: Magnificent 3-liter bottles (double magnums) of ’05 Tudor Santa Lucia Highlands pinot noir, offered at $160 each just for the holidays. The same amount of great wine as four standard bottles, at no extra charge. They’ll look fabulous on your table, but please order early.
Hong Kong Praise
Alasdair Nicol, wine critic for Time Out Hong Kong, called our 2006 Tudor Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir “…Possibly the best American Pinot Noir I’ve tried this year. Great body and structure. If you want to impress this Christmas, this is the wine to track down.”
Ambassadors of the Good Life
We’re enjoying the most amazing meals here in Thailand – incredibly lively and vibrant feasts that usually cost no more than $3 a person. Thais and other Southeast Asians treasure their tradition of complex, finely-balanced cuisine. Fine wine completes the picture. They’re excited to discover how our wines can be the perfect complement to almost everything they serve, with flavors just as subtle and memorable.
Every time we visit a local restaurant, we introduce people around us to Tudor and Radog wines, a practice that’s making us very popular.
In fact, we’ll soon be doing the same for the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, Eric G. John. He and his wife are hosting a Tudor and Radog tasting in their home for the holidays.
Last month we announced our first-ever shipment to Sweden. Then we moved right next door, into Denmark, delivering that country’s first-ever shipment of Tudor and Radog wines.
We’re very happy about how many of you have already connected with the Holiday Special we announced last month. Just as we promised, you can take advantage of this great offer all the way to New Year’s Day.
An automatic 25% discount on your order of Tudor pinot noir.
Shipping charges of only $1 when your order totals six or more bottles.
This includes our 2006 Santa Lucia Highlands pinot, rated at 91 points by Wine Spectator, our 90-point 2006 bottlings from Sarmento Vineyards and Anderson Valley Vineyards, and our 93-point 2006 Balo Vineyard pinot.
Visit www.tudorwines.com to make your selections. Confirm your order and a box appears. Simply type in this code phrase: FRIENDOFTUDOR. Your discount is applied automatically. For the full double-barreled benefit, order six or more bottles of Tudor pinot and have your order shipped for just $1. Whether for gifts or your own holiday pleasure, you’ll stock your cellar at very near direct-to-the-trade prices.
The ’09 Vintage
Juice from our 2009 harvest shows incredibly deep, inky colors, and presents rich fruit on the nose. Proper barrel and bottle aging will take a long time, of course, but we’re certain that this will be another powerful vintage.
Hong Kong Calling
About the time you read this, approximately 20,000 wine lovers in Hong Kong – almost half of them from the trade, slightly more of them consumers – will be enjoying their first opportunity to taste Tudor and Radog wines. We’re one of a very small number of California wineries pouring wines, and hopefully winning hearts, at the Hong Kong Wine and Spirits Event. It runs November 4th, 5th and 6th, and it’s among the world’s biggest wine events. Growing bigger all the time, too. Sales in Hong Kong , jumped recently by 80% following a government decision to drop all import taxes on wine. There are some 12,000 restaurants in Hong Kong, many of them “A List,” and a tremendous demand both there and in Mainland China to experience more fine wines.
We’ll be at one of those top Hong Kong restaurants DG Café and Wine Cuisine for a winemaker dinner on the evening of November 19th.
Close to Home
Meanwhile, just as Sweden’s first-ever shipment of Tudor wines sets sail, a number of prestigious Southern California hotels and retailers – from Palm Springs to Beverly Hills and points nearby – have added us to their menus and their shelves. Just to name a few – In Beverly Hills: Vendome, Enoteca Drago, The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, in Bellavino in Westlake Village, The California Club and Cafe Pinot in Los Angeles, , Ugo in Culver City.
Southeast Asian Swing
We’ll be touring Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Japan throughout the holidays this year meeting with distributors and importers, enjoying the sights, and seeing old friends.
Please stay tuned for upcoming newsletters. Next month’s will be coming your way from the vicinity of Hong Kong.
After some intense September heat, we’re now feeling traces of autumn here on the Central Coast. The cooler days and nights are making people start to realize that the 2009 holiday season is rapidly rolling their way, because online orders for Tudor pinots have recently begun to surge. It may also be because Entrepreneur.com just published a terrific online article about us, making more people aware of the high ratings (between 90 and 93 points) all four of our 2006 pinots have won.
We’d like to see that surge build into a tall wave, so we’re offering a stellar online deal that will make it even easier to have our Tudor pinot noir in your cellars for the holidays.
Two great deals, actually, and they’ll both continue all the way to 2010.
First, you can connect to a 25% discount. Just order from our web site www.tudorwines.com and type the promo code FRIENDOFTUDOR into the box provided.
Next, if you select six or more bottles of Tudor pinot, shipping will be only one dollar.
Here’s a little more motivation. After two years in the bottle, our 2006 pinots have become even more flavorful. Every note and nuance that Wine Spectator praised when they awarded those high points (“Rich and savory…full-bodied, intense, focused and concentrated…loamy berry and black cherry fruit…hints of mineral and pebble…a final dash of wild berry fruit..”) has emerged even more.
The Sukhothai Hotel, one of the absolute best among Bangkok’s five-star hotels, just began serving our value-priced Radog label. In addition, our wines are now on wine lists at two more top Bangkok hotels – the Pan Pacific and the Mandarin Oriental – as well as the Hilton Hotel Hua Hin, in the beautiful beach resort town that’s home base for the King of Thailand. And if you ever visit the Darling Wine Bar up north in Chiang Mai, you’ll find us there too.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Country Club has added five of our wines to their list, and we’re now available in some of Hong Kong’s top hotels, stores and restaurants. And we’re on our way around the globe in Sweden. It’s fun to get around. While savoring great seafood in a popular Bangkok restaurant, we even met Andrew Zimmern, host of the Travel Channel show called Bizarre Foods.
Speaking of Getting Around
We’re pretty excited about launching from-the-winery sales to stores and restaurants in a dozen states, including Washington, Arizona, and Illinois. This means both a nice savings for customers in the trade and a chance to put rarer and intriguing choices on their shelves and wine lists, instead of just the same mass-market wines that everyone else has too.
The Entrepreneur.com Thing
Totally unexpected. But beautiful. Their online article on Tudor wines (you can see it at http://www.entrepreneur.com/worklife/wineguide/article203292.html), traces our heritage back to the family’s beginnings on the island of Hvar, off the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, where our direct ancestors began growing grapes and making wine literally hundreds of years ago. Continuing that family tradition, and all those years of viticulture knowledge, is something that’s always made us proud.
Thankfully, those high September temperature readings came at the tail end of an otherwise perfectly cool growing season. The vines were strongly established, and the healthy canopies of leaf over the grapes gave them good protection from heat spikes. We’ve already got some pinot noir out of the Tondre’ vineyards fermented and in the barrels. It looks really great. Although it will be months before we can taste the finished wines, we see the possibility that this year’s Tudor wines may be on a par with the 2006 vintage.
Three Days in Vegas
We just did a three-day whirlwind Las Vegas visit, and found the city livelier and more tourist-packed than expected. Our new distributors came along to make introductions as we poured Tudor and Radog Wines for several of the city’s top chefs and sommeliers. They obviously enjoyed how food-friendly our wines are, because we connected with some terrific accounts, including Table 10, Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio and Cut, Lotus of Siam, Morels, Canonita, Marche Baucus, Rosemary’s, Vintner Grill, and Thomas Keller’s Bouchon.
If you’re considering a Vegas trip, these are all highly recommendable places for your dinner plans. It just depends on whether you want Thai, French, Seafood, Mexican, etc.
Interestingly, from the airport’s car rental agencies to our hotel check-in, we saw plenty of customers lined up yet a relatively small number of clerks behind the counters. It looked like a sign of economy rebound, more people out to enjoy vacations.
Pinot Noir Takes San Francisco
The 2009 edition of Pinot Days Grand Festival is about to arrive. This is the biggest and most complete pinot noir celebration in California. Five days of pourings and special events – Wednesday, June 24 to Sunday, June 28 – at Fort Mason in San Francisco.
Pinot, perhaps more than any other varietal, takes on huge influence from the soils and climates where it grows. So this festival is a great place to learn about the many subtle and powerful differences between different regions, different growers, and different winemakers. You will have access to over 400 different pinots, presented by some 200 wineries from California as well as Oregon, New Zealand, and France.
There are two afternoon events on Saturday where we would especially love to see you. The first, “Gems From the Southern AVAs,” goes from 1 to 3 PM and highlights 16 top-ranked pinots from vineyards of the Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Maria, Central Coast, and the Santa Rita Hills. The second, from 4 to 6 PM, is “Gems of the Northern AVAs,” highlighting 16 outstanding pinots from vineyards north of San Francisco, including the Russian River Valley, Carneros, Anderson Valley, Santa Cruz and the Sonoma Coast. We’re extremely proud to tell you that Tudor is the only winery to be chosen for both events, because of our having two northern AVA and two southern AVA pinots with Wine Spectator rankings between 90 and 93 points.
Fort Mason is one of San Francisco’s most beautiful places to visit. It’s perched right on the Bay, a few blocks west of Fisherman’s Wharf, with sweeping views across the water in every direction. The footings of the Golden Gate Bridge are only a short walk away, over a scenic open stretch called Chrissy Field that for many years was a military landing strip, off limits to civilians.
Because of the great winds that stream in through the Golden Gate, the water right offshore from Fort Mason and Chrissy Field is a big-league kiteboarding arena. In between pinot noir tastings you can enjoy watching some of the most amazing and daring kiteboarders show off the full range of their skills at carving through the water and high up into the air.
Speaking of Views
Michel’s has been one of the top restaurants in Hawaii since it opened back in 1962, with stellar French cuisine and picture-window views of the ocean from every table. On the evening of Monday, July 6, we will be there to pour Tudor and Radog wines for a special dinner. The restaurant is calling it “Simple Pleasures.” The six-course menu is laid-back in a sophisticated way. Each course is based on combining just a few really great ingredients, paired with a wine to enhance. It will be a great way to chill out after the Fourth of July weekend.
For example, the starter is a huge scallop wrapped in duck prosciutto, served with a pinot-based Radog Rose. The soup course, paired with our Radog Dry Gewurztraminer, is a chowder of Key West turtle and chicken. In between soup and dessert comes a duck confit with Radog pinot, followed by a morel mushroom-crusted salmon with a Tudor pinot, then veal entrecote with another Tudor pinot, our vineyard-designate from Tondre Vineyards.
By the way, if you’re a Facebook fan, please log in and check out our Tudor Wines page. In the meantime, we hope that your summer is off to a great start, and that our wines will be a part of your enjoyment.
A Weekend to Remember
Hello. I’m posting this to you after a terrifically eventful weekend.
Friday found me cruising the 101 up to San Francisco, where I poured Tudor and Radog wines for a contingent of Japanese importers. They seemed very positively impressed, so we may find our Japan shipments increasing soon.
By two o’clock Saturday afternoon I was 130 miles south of S.F., near Soledad, pouring for the third annual Highlands Fling, an event to highlight winemakers who source their fruit from the outstanding vineyards on the western rim of the Salinas Valley, the Santa Lucia Highlands. This year 26 winemakers gathered at a beautifully rustic events center that overlooks Soledad from a thousand feet up the mountainside. It was an unusually hot afternoon for mid-May, so our crisp Radog Riesling was equally as popular as our premium pinots.
We began Tudor wines from the Santa Lucia Highlands, and it’s still our “home base.” We like to think we’ve helped spread the fame of this sweet viticultural area, where fogs from the Big Sur coast wash over the ridges to cool the moderate valley heat – perfect conditions for growing great pinot noir. Although many of the vineyards there have diversified their plantings with other varietals, pinot remains the AVA’s biggest and most important crop.
Incidentally, in 2005, one year before the first Highlands Fling, the first captive-bred California condors were first released into the wild. The Salinas Valley is probably the best location in the state for a chance of seeing these rare birds glide through the sky on their immense wings.
Double (or Quadruple) Your Pleasure – at a Discount
We donated a magnum of pinot to the Highlands Fling charity auction, which reminded me that I haven’t yet told you about our recent release of pinot in magnums and double magnums – double a standard-size bottle, and quadruple standard size. The big bottles look elegant and fantastic on the table at dinner parties, but they cost no more than their equivalent in standard 750 milliliter bottles. On top of that savings, we invite you to enter the promo code FRIENDOFTUDOR on our web site, www.tudorwines.com, for an additional discount of 25%. There are now fewer than 200 of these big bottles remaining. I hope you’ll place an order and have one on your dinner table soon.
For Value-Conscious Gourmets
On Wednesday, the 20th, I’ll be pouring Tudor and Radog wines matched to a sumptuous six-course dinner at the popular Burbank restaurant called Third and Olive. You can see the menu and make reservations at www.thirdandolive.com. It will present an amazing selection of dishes – and complementing wines – for only $45. If you prefer to reserve by telephone, the number to call is 818-846-3900.
Mike Horn and Paul Stern are hosting the dinner, which will start at 7 PM. They do “What’s Cookin’,” a great radio show for foodies on Cable News Network Digital Talk Radio. The owner/executive chef of Third and Olive, Miki Zikovic, used to work with Joachim Splichal, helping to open new locations for his Patina Group restaurants. Now he owns three restaurants of his own, all based on serving gourmet dishes, including Provencal, Italian, and American, at surprisingly low prices.
Hong Kong Booms
Meanwhile, in our quest to make our wines available worldwide, the first shipments to Thailand just cleared customs and should start reaching fine Bangkok restaurants right away. In Hong Kong, thanks to recent changes in import tax laws, the market for high-quality California wines has really begun to boom. Prior to this change the California wines available in Hong Kong were mostly from our state’s biggest (and not so much best) wineries. With 12,000 restaurants in Hong Kong, over 200 of them Michelin rated, there’s tremendous pent-up demand. A California wine exporter recently set up offices there. They expect to soon place Tudor and Radog wines in a number of top restaurants.
All Around the World
While that’s happening, our first shipments have arrived in Denmark. We expect to be adding Sweden and Germany to the list soon.
Here in the U.S., two friends – Elaine and Scott Harris – became head-over-heels fascinated with fine wines after I met them at a 2005 Las Vegas wine event. They were inspired to learn more and more, and eventually to launch their highly successful web site devoted to Las Vegas wine and culinary culture. They’ve got a great business name, Vino Las Vegas, guaranteed to make you hear Elvis on the jukebox of your imagination. (Take a look at www.vinolasvegas.blogspot.com) Very recently they added “wine broker” to their resumes. Among their first projects, and already working out great: expanding Tudor and Radog distribution in Las Vegas. Six fine restaurants have brought us on board, with more expected to follow suit.
Twice Honored At Upcoming San Francisco Event
Coming up soon: The biggest and most wide-ranging pinot event in California, four intense days at Fort Mason, one of San Francisco’s most scenic locations. Pinot Days Grand Festival will run from June 24th to the 28th, and feature more than 400 pinots from California, Oregon, Washington, New Zealand and France. We have been chosen to pour at both “Gems from the Southern AVAs” and “Gems from the Northern AVAs.” These special festival events on Saturday the 27th each highlight 16 top-ranked pinot makers from the respective regions. The first (which includes Santa Lucia Highlands, the Central Coast, the Santa Rita Hills, and Santa Maria) is from 1 to 3 PM, the second (which includes Russian River Valley, Carneros, Anderson Valley, Santa Cruz and the Sonoma Coast) from 4 to 6 PM. Thanks to our having two southern AVA and two northern AVA wines with Wine Spectator ratings of 90 to 93 points, we are the only winery being featured in both of these events. We definitely hope to see you there. More details to come in our next newsletter.
The terrific ratings that Wine Spectator recently gave our ’06 pinots have accelerated our sales wonderfully. All four of our current releases scored between 90 and 93 points, so we’ve been filling orders at a record pace.
Fortunately, I’m still finding time to enjoy the special things that the season brings. The wild Chanterelles mushrooms are still sprouting up and down the Central Coast, and the winter winds are creating great kiteboarding conditions at all of our local beaches. I harvest mushrooms as often as possible – they are incredible paired with pinot – and I try to get some ocean time in every day while the winds last.
The most intense sessions are up in San Simeon and at Pico Creek and Laguna Arroyo. Sometimes I see members of an Elephant Seal colony, with their massive bodies packed side by side on the sand, soaking in sun. Very impressive, but it’s best to respect their privacy and stay far offshore.
Meanwhile, our 08 vintage is in barrels, scheduled for bottling in late summer. It already tastes great, easily on a par with our current releases, so we believe that Tudor Pinots are going to be in line for continued high ratings.
The 07 Radog Pinot is fantastic too – we think it’s one of the best bargains around – and it’s been especially popular with people who buy from our web site.
For the general food-and-wine-loving public, you can get a discount on tickets to the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Event if you mention us when you place your order. This year the event will stretch from Thursday, April 16th, through to Sunday, April 19th. At www.pebblebeachfoodandwine.com you’ll see the impressive lineup of chefs and winemakers, and have several choices for how much of the event you want to take in. If want to experience the whole package, there’s a celebrity chef golf tournament and opening night gala. But we especially hope to see you at the Opening Night on Thursday the 16th, and Lexus Grand Tastings, between 12 and 3 PM Saturday the 18th and Sunday the 19th.
Most of our wine grapes are sourced from the Santa Lucia Highlands, the appellation overlooking the Salinas Valley, just over the eastern ridges of Big Sur. So we are really looking forward to the Third Annual Highlands Fling on Saturday, May 16th, from 2 to 5 PM. It’s a very focused and intimate event which celebrates the winemakers who produce pinot, chardonnay, and other wines from the terrific vineyards nearby. This year there will be almost 30 different wineries, including Tudor, gathering at Hahn Estates, near the town of Soledad, for gourmet food and wine. It’s a beautiful setting, often used for wedding and special events. Tickets are $85, and are available at www.santaluciahighlands.com.
There are more events on the calendar as spring rolls around, including the annual Pinot Days, held at Fort Mason, down on San Francisco Bay, a short distance from Fisherman’s Wharf. That’s coming up in late June, so I’ll have plenty of time to tell you about it in an upcoming newsletter. Until then, I want to let you know about a special promotional code I just set up on our web site (www.tudorwines.com). Place an order of any size, for Tudor Pinot, as long as our 06 vintage remains in stock, and just type in the promotion code FRIENDOFTUDOR at checkout. You’ll automatically receive a 25% discount on your entire order. But it’s a good idea to order now, before we run out. Release of the 07 vintage is still many months away.
For starters, we really thank you! Tudor and Radog shipments for this month are already double what they were in February of 2008. It’s great that so many fine wine lovers are discovering us, and apparently they’re telling their friends as well.
To show how we feel about these great sales figures, we’re extending a special offer. Details are given below. But first, here’s a gourmet opportunity that’s absolutely free…
Pinot noir and wild mushrooms have always made a classic pairing. Right now, following California’s recent rainstorms, the wild mushroom crop is tremendous. While I was pouring for visitors to the recent International Alsace Varietals Festival, an Anderson Valley grower invited me to join a mushroom hunt on his property, 80 acres that are equal parts open, with a vineyard, and wild woodland. We went out briefly, late in the afternoon, and found a huge bounty of black chanterelles. You could barely take a step before finding another one, and another, and another.
Expert and author David Arora says black chanterelles are the most flavorful chanterelles of all. His hip-pocket guidebook, All That the Rain Promises And More, makes it easy to identify the specimens you find. But even better, do your hunting along with someone who already really knows mushrooms.
The Anderson Valley festival itself was terrific. Not a judged competition, just a chance to taste Alsatian varietals from all over California as well as Oregon, Michigan and New York. Our Radog Gewürztraminer and Riesling were both crowd favorites – any many thought the most full-flavor styled wines in their categories.
As you’ll see below, there are a lot more festivals, wine dinners, and special events coming up for Tudor and Radog. We’d love to meet you individually, and pour you our newly-released 2006 Tudor pinots – all four of them were rated between 90 to 93 points by Wine Spectator – so please check the time-and-place details below.
Tonight Tudor wines are being featured in a deluxe California/Oregon pinot noir tasting designed to showcase several different grape-growing regions. The location is an amazingly elegant Hermosa Beach restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway, brix@1601, recently voted one of L.A.’s best new restaurants by Los Angeles Magazine. Details are at www.brix1601.com. Sommelier Christopher Hennessy picked the wines, which include our pinots from Santa Lucia Highlands and Anderson Valley Balo Vineyards.
Then on Saturday, March 7th comes the huge World of Pinot Noir gathering, “Pinot by the Sea,” held at Shell Beach, just south of San Luis Obispo. Last year’s edition featured about 160 different wineries, and this year’s events are already beginning to sell out. Check out their web site at www.worldofpinotnoir.com to find out what’s still available.
Family Winemakers of California is a really vital organization for the state’s family and boutique wineries. They’re a trade group representing several hundred wineries – mostly small – and they present the world’s largest tastings of California wines. Two Family Winemakers of California events are coming up in early March, although only the first one is open to general public.
That event happens March 14th at the Wyland Center on the Del Mar Fairgrounds, 20 miles north of San Diego. It’s a chance to sample from wineries in virtually every corner of the state. The tasting begins with trade only (restaurants, media, retailers) for the first three hours, but then opens for the public from 3 PM to 6 PM. (Their event in Pasadena on March 17th is trade only.)
Our next Tudor and Radog pourings are at a couple of great locations not too far from San Francisco, followed by one that takes place right in urban S.F.
We’ll be pouring on Friday, March 20th, at The Reserve, a hip wine bar in the middle of Morgan Hill, just a few minutes’ drive south of San Jose. They don’t have a web site yet, but you can phone 408-742-9863 for details. The next day, the 21st, we’ll be in Salinas at a great retail shop called Zeph’s 1-Stop. Information by phone at 831-757-3947.
Wine has always been great at bringing people together. Tudor Wines (www.tudorwines.com) and Radog Wines (www.radogwines.com) are living proof. Thank you again for sparking our record-setting sales. We hope you take the opportunity to bring home your share of this incredible 2006 vintage, before it all sells out.
What an exciting way to start the New Year: Wine Spectator just awarded scores ranging from 90 to 93 to all of our current-release 2006 Tudor Pinot Noirs!
Tudor Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands Sarmento Vineyard 2006 – 90 points
Tudor Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2006 – 90 points
Tudor Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands 2006 – 91 points
Tudor Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Balo Vineyard 2006 – 93 points
As a bonus, Wine Spectator senior editor James Laube wrote an article naming his 16 top choices for exceptional Pinot Noirs from fruit grown in Northern California coastal vineyards.
We make two wines eligible for that distinction, Tudor Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2006 and Tudor Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Balo Vineyard 2006, and he chose both of them!
Before sharing the beautifully descriptive praise these wines scored, we’d also like to make a strong suggestion. All four of the wines are limited production. Especially after being both featured and highly rated in the latest Wine Spectator, they are likely to sell out soon. In fact, to make sure as many customers as possible have a chance, to enjoy there is a 6-bottle ordering limit for our 93-point vineyard designate Pinot Noir from Balo Vineyards.
Here are Laube’s fantastic reports, starting with our Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Balo Vineyard 2006: “Score: 93. Rich and savory, this is full-bodied, intense, focused and concentrated, showing loamy berry and black cherry fruit that offers hints of mineral and pebble, with a final dash of wild berry fruit. Drink now through 2015. 195 cases made.”
Tudor Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands 2006: “Score: 91.Tight and focused, with a firm mineral and pebble base, leading to ripe cherry, berry and plum fruit that’s focused, concentrated, full-bodied and persistent. Drink now through 2014. 2,497 cases made”
Tudor Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2006: “Score: 90. “Complex loamy earth, dried berry and currant aromas are firm and structured, tight and focused, with hints of blueberry and floral scents. Drink now through 2014. 802 cases made.”
Tudor Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands Sarmento Vineyard 2006: “Score 90. Spice, fresh earth, dried berry and plum fruit is tight, full-bodied, complex and focused. Trim and balanced, ending with minerally tannins. Drink now through 2014. 244 cases made.”
I should add that those are the numbers of cases we started with. My partner and cousin, Christian Tudor – who deserves a huge share of the credit for scoring these incredible ratings – tells me that those cases are shipping out at a very healthy rate. Wine Spectator’s ratings confirmed what wine lovers have been saying about these vintages ever since their release date – Pinot Noir worthy of generous praise, with plenty of cellar time possible, yet wonderful to drink right now. But limited quantities.
Please click this link, or go to www.tudorwines.com, and order while we still have some cases in the warehouse
I’m just back from Hawaii and the incredible winemaker dinner we had in the first week of December at Alan Wong’s, the top restaurant in the Islands. I had to hurry there soon after wrapping up a great party in Carmel Valley to launch our new Tasting Room.
Both events were terrific successes, measured by the numbers of people who took part in them, and the fun they all seemed to be having. George Szigeti, the president of Young’s Market/Better Brands, our very effective Hawaiian distributor, celebrated his birthday with us at Alan Wong’s, and we collected lots of generous comments about how beautifully the wine matched up with the food. I say “generous” because when I describe how amazing the courses were, you just might feel your mouth begin to water.
First came a portion of grilled, sushi- grade yellowtail tuna, then a pork terrine followed by ginger-crusted sashimi-grade Ruby Snapper, an entree of excellent Maui beef that had been raised on nothing but sugar cane, tropical grasses and pineapple, and then a spectacular dessert of Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch over vanilla ice cream, served with caramelized apple bananas. The matching wine courses were Radog Rose of Pinot Noir, Radog Gewürztraminer, Radog Riesling, and then our superb Tondre Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir with the entree.
Meanwhile, back here on the mainland, we just picked up a new distributor in Las Vegas, Southern Wine and Spirits, and we’re happy to say that Tudor and Radog wines will soon found be in an expanded number of Nevada stores and restaurants.
Now that we’re in those brief weeks before the big year-end holidays, we want our wines to be part of all your celebrations. That’s why we’re offering something we like to call our Recession-Buster Special.
Here’s how it works: Place your order now, or at any time all the way up to New Year’s Eve, and get a 10% discount on all Tudor Wines and Radog Wines, plus free shipping, on any size order. Just go to (www.tudorwines.com and/or www.radogwines.com), choose the wines you want for holiday cheer and you’ll be saving at the same time you celebrate.
Since I’m still vibrating in tune with a great time in Hawaii, let me send you Season’s Greetings with plenty of aloha – that beautiful word which encompasses warmth, greetings, love, and the spirit of life.
We were pretty excited when Hawaii’s legendary restaurateur Alan Wong told us he’d feature our wines in a December 3rd Winemaker’s Dinner.
That excitement just got multiplied. The evening’s menu arrived today via email from Hawaii. It’s not only reasonably priced – considering it’s five spectacular courses served at the top-rated restaurant in Hawaii – it’s built around our wines and some amazing Hawaiian delicacies that anyone who loves great food will want to experience.
The first course features our 2006 Radog Rose of Pinot Noir (Info about our Radog label is at www.radogwines.com.), paired with grilled Kampachi. Maybe you read about Kampachi very recently either in Men’s Journal or Oprah’s magazine, O. It is something very new on the scene, a farmed, sushi-grade Yellowtail Tuna that’s naturally rich in healthful Omega-3 fats. Kampachi tastes great whether raw, grilled, sauteed or even baked, and grows five fathoms deep off the Kona Coast, under environmentally-conscious conditions created by a marine biologist.
Second course is a Pork Terrine paired with 2006 Radog Gewurtztraminer, and the third is 2007 Radog Reisling with ginger-crusted Onaga – which is the local name for Ruby Snapper. Hawaiians know that the best Onaga is harvested in December, so they traditionally feature it in their New Year’s celebrations. The Onaga in wintertime is so perfect that it can also be served raw, as sashimi. To accompany this tender fish, Alan Wong has selected a wonderful variety of fresh sweet corn that’s grown year-round on a 70-acre farm at the northeastern corner of Oahu.
Now the entree: Servings of Maui Cattle Company beef, alongside our incomparable Tondre Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir and Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. Tondre may be the best of all our wines sourced from the Santa Lucia Highlands in 2005, and definitely it’s one of our most in-demand offerings. The Maui Cattle Company is a fairly new company that has revived century-old Hawaiian traditions of cattle ranching. They run their cattle on about 60,000 acres of Maui grazing land, feeding them their entire lives on native tropical grasses, sugar cane and pineapples.
Finally, Alan will serve Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch over vanilla ice cream, topped with caramelized apple bananas (a smaller, sweeter variety) that are grown north of Hilo, and with a choice of bittersweet chocolate and Hawaiian salt caramel sauces.
If you live in Hawaii, or plan to be there around the 3rd of December, we sure hope to meet you at this feast. The evening at Alan Wong’s is priced at $100, and can also be booked sans wine servings for just $75. You can reserve by calling 808/949-2526, a number you’ll also find if you visit www.alanwongs.com
It’s great to be back in touch after several intense, travel-packed weeks.
We recently got back from a lively weekend in Las Vegas, where we poured at a rock & roll-themed event, in a booth directly in front of the stage. The Gin Blossoms – an Arizona-based alternative rock band that’s had some Top Ten hits – was playing full tilt as we introduced the enthusiastic crowd to our bargain priced line and second label, Radog Wines. So many attendees came back for seconds that we ran through all of our supplies, several cases worth, ahead of schedule.
Radog is a surfer-style way of saying “Radical Dog.” The picture on our label is a bull terrier, a breed of dog with unforgettable looks, proudly riding a surfboard and looking you right in the eye. It sums up our pride in how much these Radog wines offer in a price range that starts not very far over $10.
We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much flavor and style these wines deliver. We found lots of people in Las Vegas who agreed, including the owners of Lotus of Siam, called “the single best Thai restaurant in North America” in the pages of Gourmet. We had dinner there on Saturday night, and experienced the best Thai food I’ve ever had in the U.S.A. They’re adding Radog Dry Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Noir to their extensive wine list, as well as Tudor Pinot Noir.
Right now, in the last days of October, we’re winding down from the rush and crush of harvest time and we’ve also just released four different and definitely incredible Tudor Pinots from the 2006 vintage.
We’re extremely delighted with both the ’06 Tudor Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and the ’06 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. Meanwhile, the ’06 Balo Vineyard, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and ’06 Sarmento Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir are both beyond outstanding.
Overall, this 2006 vintage may be the best wines we’ve ever released. Over the next two years, we could be tasting wines that raise the bar even higher.
2007 produced a light harvest, giving us berries with wonderfully concentrated, complex flavors. The 2008 harvest is even lighter! Cooler than usual September weather matured the fruit very slowly. We had to be patient, and test over and over again until the grapes reached their perfect point. The 2008 harvest in our selected vineyards may come in around one and a quarter tons per acre, about one third of a normal yield. Great news for everyone who loves pinot noir. Less wine will be available, but we will taste more intense flavors in the wine we get.
Alan Wong’s, the number one rated restaurant in Hawaii, invited us to present a Winemaker’s Dinner on December 3rd. Alan does very few of these, so we’re terrifically honored. We’ll send you more details, including the selected menu, as soon as possible. And if your travels will take you even farther than the Hawaiian Islands, Tudor Wines and Radog Wines are also now on their way to top restaurants in Denmark and Thailand.
If you’re instead traveling to Carmel Valley, well, our plans to open a tasting room recently received a setback – followed by a terrific boost. A few days before we were scheduled to put up new signs at The Garden Bistro, our originally-planned tasting room site, the restaurant was devastated by a late-night electrical fire. With reconstruction and remodeling delays looming, we were crestfallen until the day we got word that Rosie’s Cracker Barrel – an historic Carmel Valley restaurant, located on the river and very recently restored – wanted the Tudor tasting room within their walls! You can read about Rosie’s at www.rosiescrackerbarrel.com. And you can ride your horse right up to Rosie’s, hitch up at the convenient post, and amble in for tastings of Tudor, Radog, Otter Cove, and Oh Wines.
A five-dollar tasting buys you Otter Cove and Radog selections; a $10 tasting involves superlative pinot noir from both the Tudor and Oh labels. All four labels will be available in holiday gift baskets, and as choices in Rosie’s Wine Club. We’re having a Grand Opening Party on November 22 from 11am to 3pm. Please join us for complementary wine tasting!
Our own Tudor Wine Club is now offered in two different versions. Full details are on the web site, www.tudorwines.com, but here is the essential difference: One version offers two 12-bottle shipments per year, with the opportunity to buy one Club Members Only shipment – six bottles of a single-vineyard reserve barrel selection. For example, we made only two barrels of Syrah that is really special. It may get chosen to be among our Members Only wines, and/or some exceptional library wines. The second version of our wine club gives you two six-bottle shipments annually.
There’s also a third option, a club just for Radog, combining terrific wine at exceptional prices with a Members Only Annual Beach Party. Please check www.radogwines.com for the fun details.
In Praise of Women: Our 2005 Santa Lucia Highlands pinot noir came away from the 2008 National Women’s Wine Competition carrying a Gold Best in Class medal. The event, held in Santa Rosa last March, was judged by 36 female wine experts. Some 500 wineries were represented, from the U.S. and 10 other countries. According to NWWC officials, women more often decide what wines to buy than men.
We’ve just returned from a very successful new-account safari through Orange County and the San Diego area. Most wineries would be excited about getting just one of the top restaurants in each of those markets to offer their wines by the glass. We landed several nice trophies, including Blanca in Solana Beach, an amazing place with a gorgeous dining room and an extremely talented chef. Esquire gave them a review that said “Blanca has high style and a chef whose fresh ideas place him in the top ranks of southern-Cal cuisine.” We’re scheduled for a winemaker dinner at Blanca on August 28th.
Our travels went especially well in Rancho Santa Fe. You’ll be able to enjoy Tudor Pinot by the glass at Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa, which Zagat rated near the top of their list of the 50 best small hotels. We’ll also be on menus soon at the Del Mar Country Club, the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, and the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club.
Eno, the elegant wine bar of the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel, will begin pouring our pinot, and so will the newly remodeled Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club in Corona del Mar. In Encinitas we’ll be at Savory, a great little bistro that highlights Central Coast wines. In San Diego, we’ll continue our terrific relationship with the restaurant Arterra, in the Marriott Del Mar.
The Wine Bank is also going to have Tudor Wines on its shelves, so our presence in the southernmost corner of Southern California is growing beautifully.
Our new wine club is now organized and good to go. Those of you who like your shipments to arrive automatically will be pleased with the arrangements. The options have been set up for a six-bottle shipment twice a year, or two six-bottle shipments twice a year. (Our first club, which guarantees your allocation with no obligation to buy, is still available too.)
Both clubs will feature an optional third shipment in the fall, a special release for club members only. Most likely that will be one of our select single vineyard bottlings, the very best of the best.
Please visit our web site, www.tudorwines.com, for sign-up information.
Earlier this year a Tudor Wines promotional trip to Southeast Asia generated so much positive response that I’m headed back there soon, kicking off a series of winemaker dinners and other events in Bali and Thailand, at restaurants which will begin offering our wines. Building our Southeast Asia sales momentum is the prime directive, but surfing and kiteboarding will undoubtedly work their way into the schedule, too. Those areas have some of the most exciting beaches and cuisine in the world.
In August, the barrels of our 2007 vintage will be tapped and one of the greatest pinot harvests in anyone’s memory will go into its bottles, waiting for fall 2009 release. Then we go right into harvest and crush of the 2008 crop. It’s still too early to know what Nature will deliver this year, but our weather has mostly been mild up to now.
Hello again. Last month I talked about a recent business and pleasure trip in Thailand, Bali, and Tokyo, where Tudor Pinot Noir has just been added to menus at some exceptional restaurants and resorts.
More recently I’ve been in Hawaii, showcasing our wines while finding time to surf Alligator’s, a terrific break near Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu, and also kiteboarding at Kailua Bay on the East side and the Big Island. I have several cousins I love to visit there, all Californians who fell in love with the Aloha lifestyle.
I’m happy to say that Tudor Pinot is becoming more a part of that lifestyle. Our wines are served at the dining places many folks consider to be the best in Hawaii, Alan Wong’s and Roy’s. Zagat recently rated Alan Wong’s as the number one Honolulu restaurant, and it earned the same position in a local newspaper’s “Best of the Best” reader survey. Meanwhile, Alan Wong’s and Roy’s finished in first and second, respectively in another Honolulu paper’s Fine Dining category.
It feels fantastic to know our wines have been chosen by such outstanding places! Based on meetings during my recent trip, we expect to be featured in a few more top restaurants very soon.
As those who have been to Hawaii recently know, a Big Island volcano has been rumbling and fuming lately. Big plumes of vog – volcanic gases mixed with smoke – have been drifting across the skies. In traditional island beliefs, that means the goddess Pele has something to say. The legend says that Pele likes gifts, and that something good to drink usually pleases her. Maybe, with Tudor distribution in Hawaii now expanding, someone will present her with a great pinot from the Sarmento Vineyards or Tondre’ Vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands, or the Balo Vineyards of Anderson Valley.
Those are some of our vineyard-designated wines from the stellar 2006 harvest. They are now being aged in bottle, waiting for their release this fall. The crop was light, which is great, because it brought the berries into the winery full of intense flavors. I predict that the 2006 wines will equal, or possibly even surpass, our very best vintage to date.
Good news from our new tasting room located in The Garden Bistro, a beautiful indoor/outdoor restaurant in Carmel Valley. Our opening day celebration was originally set for March 22nd, but had to be moved forward at the restaurant owner’s request. More than 100 friends and fans showed up at the “postponed” event anyway. The Bistro was full, and the wines flowed. It was a great sign for the future. We’re trying to nail down a new date, probably in early June, for the “Official” opening party. We’ll send you an announcement by email a few days from now. As much fun as we had at the unofficial opening, the real one should be fabulous.
Another new development: We’re going to add another wine club! Right now, the Tudor Premier Club guarantees members early notification of every new vintage prior to release, along with first-choice allocations of either six or 12 bottles, with a discount but without an obligation to buy. We’ve had a lot of requests for yet another club, one that’s set up for automatic shipments, and we’re very pleased to comply. The details are being worked out right now, and will be sent your way as soon as possible.
The next time you’re enjoying a glass of Tudor Pinot Noir, it’s possible that happy people in Bangkok, Tokyo and Bali are doing exactly the same. I’ve just returned from an extended business and pleasure trip through Southeast Asia – with time for kite surfing, attending a Balinese wedding, and enjoying some of the world’s liveliest cuisine. I’m back in California to blend and bottle wines from our phenomenal 2007 harvest. While I’m busy with those vital steps, and with some great upcoming wine events (see below), arrangements are being finalized to send Wines to Thailand, Bali, and Japan. These are some of my favorite places on Earth, so it’s going to be great to re-visit them annually as the exporting increases.
Meanwhile, we’re now tasting from the barrels that hold our 2007 harvest. This is the best year we’ve ever seen. Better even than ’06, which was phenomenal, the best pinot noir year we’d seen up until then. The wines have really dark color and just tons of fruit. They’re massive and gorgeous wines, sweet on the mid-palate, with a long finish.
We will again make a single-vineyard wine from Tondre’ Vineyards, and for the second year we’ll bottle a single-vineyard wine sourced from Balo Vineyards in Anderson Valley. Our ’06 from Balo is really exceptionally dark and rich, and will be released this fall. I hope you get the opportunity to experience it, and that you’ll enjoy realizing that the ’07 vintage, to be released in the fall of ’09, may be even better.
Fruit from Sarmento Vineyards is also yielding a fantastically balanced, beautiful single-vineyard pinot. Sarmento is in the Santa Lucia Mountains, in granite loam nearly 700 feet above the floor of the Salinas Valley, above the fog. Sarmento’s vines get a strong dose of sunlight before they are rapidly cooled by ocean air in the evenings. These vines now eight years old, which is fairly young, have reached great potential quickly because of the ideal soil.
The first in an extensive series of wine events featuring Tudor pinot noirs was the Rock & Roll and Wine Event, held February 30th at Studio 54 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Then the World of Pinot Noir festival rolled out on March 7th and 8th. at Shell Beach, which lies in between Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo. If you had tickets, you were among the lucky ones. The event sold out completely, and people are already buying tickets for ’09.
Saturday, March 22nd, is the date set for opening our new tasting room in Carmel Valley. It’s going to be in a section of The Garden Bistro, a really pleasant, casual yet upscale restaurant at 6 Pilot Road, just off West Carmel Valley Road and about 10 miles southeast of Carmel . There’s both indoor and outdoor seating, and if you buy a bottle you can enjoy it there at the restaurant. Three other lines will also be available, including Radog, which I produce, plus Oh Wines and Otter Cove Wines, which are created in Monterey County by my good friend Richard Oh.
It’s going to be a great day. Between 11 AM and 2 PM, the tasting will be free, and The Garden Bistro will also welcome you with free appetizers during those hours. Daniel Barducci is the new owner of The Garden Bistro, and he recently brought an excellent French chef on board. His food is exceptional, and so is the service and décor. Whenever I bring friends there, they remark on how much it is like being in Paris.
One week later is another event really worth knowing about, Expectations are running very high for the first annual Pebble Beach Food and Wine event on March 27-30. It will replace the annual Masters of Food and Wine event that formerly was held at the Highlands Inn. The organizers, who are also old friends of mine, are expecting 35 celebrity chefs and 200 wineries. There will be events held at several different places along the 17 mile Drive, so it should be truly beautiful.
Right now we’re back in the winery doing our final round of tasting from the barrels, to make certain we’ll create the best possible blends and vineyard designates from this outstanding pinot harvest. This may be a good time for you to visit our website for details about membership in the Tudor Premier Club. It will guarantee you early notification of every new vintage that’s ready to release, and give you first choice. Allocations are either for six bottles or 12 bottles, and you’ll receive a discount, yet there is never any obligation to purchase. You will also be notified of exclusive members-only events.
That’s it for now, because I’ve got a party to plan. I look forward to seeing many of you at the opening of our new tasting room, March 22 at The Garden Bistro in Carmel Valley.
Ernest Tubb and his Texas Troubadours, a very popular country band of many years ago, once recorded a holiday song that asked listeners, “How’d you like to spend Christmas on Christmas Island?” As it turns out, this holiday season I’m only a few hundred miles away from Christmas Island, visiting the island of Bali. I’m writing this month’s newsletter from the city of Ubud, on a post-harvest, post-crush vacation that will include business days in Thailand, where I’ll meet with people in the very young and ambitious Thai wine industry. Thai and all the other highly flavorful Southeast Asian cuisines can go beautifully with wine, a fact which I intend to explore to the maximum on this trip.
Ubud is a city that presents the full range of magic and charm to be found on Bali, with accommodations from five star resorts to backpacker-approved little bungalows, views that inspire a wish to be here forever, and vibrant local arts. They include the art of cuisine. Friends and I dined last night on Balinese-style roast suckling pig, a recipe I’m determined to learn and pass on to you.
Meanwhile, back in the Tudor winemaking facilities in California, one of the best crops of pinot noir grapes I’ve ever seen is now transforming itself into what we believe will be a stellar release in the Fall of 2009. As with all our vintages, it will be a pure expression of berries from the finest family-owned vineyards in the Santa Lucia Mountains, made in small fermentations and mixed by hand, aged in French oak barrels, beautifully balanced, ripe and lively on the tongue.
Whether you spend Christmas on Christmas Island, in the snowy high Sierras, or in your own cozy home, we want to send you our best wishes for happy and soulful holiday celebrations with lots of family and new friends and old. If you’d like to include Tudor wines in those warm occasions, or to send bottles as gifts to the wine lovers on your list, there’s still time right now to place your order directly from our web site, www.tudorwines.com. We’re extending a 10% discount on orders of a case or more.
If you find it more convenient to visit a store in your area, a quick look at the site will show you how dramatically our list of retailers has continued to grow. California currently holds the lead with almost 50 at this writing, but our highly-rated pinot noir is also found at outstanding wine shops throughout the United States.
A final thought: As your holiday present to yourself, why not join our new Premier Club? You get a guaranteed spot on our allocation list, with never any obligation to buy. Membership puts you first in line for either a 6-bottle or a 12-bottle purchase before any future Tudor wines are released to the trade. On top of that, you’ll have access to Member Only Events, future discounts, and an amazing discount – right now, today – of 20% on all current releases.
Next month: Dispatches from travels in Thailand, with notes on some scintillating Southeast Asian dishes that you can enjoy with Tudor Pinot Noir.
Good news! We were able to complete our harvest just before the rainstorms arrived. At this writing, we’ve got almost 63 tons of Pinot Noir pressed and barreled down. Our total harvest should result in close to 4,000 cases of both blended and single-vineyard Tudor Pinot Noirs.
As I’ve mentioned, this year’s berries were small but intense and the overall yield per acre was modest. These things promise a really excellent, exceptional vintage.
Now, while we monitor the barrels, our sights are set on February. That’s when we will begin to taste and blend, and really experience the developing promise of this great harvest. Release is scheduled for fall of 2009. One year prior to that, in the fall of 2008, our 2006 vintage will be released. That’s good, because supplies of our current release, the 2005 vintage, are growing smaller by the day. I really recommend checking out our newly started wine club, where you can guarantee yourself an allotment of Tudor Pinot without committing to buy. It’s a different way to run a wine club, but we can do it because we’re sure of selling all our wines, and we want to reward loyal customers.
I went back out into the vineyards after the rain and saw early evidence that there will be an abundant supply of porcini mushrooms this year. If you haven’t tried it yet, one of the best things to enjoy with a good Pinot Noir is a rich, homemade Porcini Risotto. I’ll give you a recipe that’s been popular in the Tudor family for a long time. If you use dried porcinis, they go into the dish early, as if they were meat. If you use fresh porcinis, treat them like vegetables and add them when the risotto is close to being ready. Fresh porcinis will be more subtle, dried ones will be more intense.
Dan’s Porcini Mushroom Risotto Recipe
1 large Yellow Onion, chopped course
3 oz Pancetta Diced
1 oz Dried Porcini Mushrooms, rehydrated and chopped, reserve water (add to broth and heat)
4 table spoons Extra Virgin Olive oil
1 tomato, chopped course
1 ½ cups uncooked Arborio Rice
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/3 fresh porcini slice ¼ inch thick
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Sauté Onion and Pancetta in olive oil for 3 minutes, add the rice and stir thoroughly (2 min.) to coat the rice with oil, add hot chicken broth one cup at a time while stirring. Continue stirring and adding broth as it is absorbed by rice. Add the fresh tomato, cheese and fresh porcini and stir for several minutes. Salt and pepper to taste!
I promised in the last newsletter that I would share stories with you about the Tudor family’s grape growing and wine making heritage, which traces back over six centuries and is rooted in Croatia. Croatian wines aren’t well known in the United States, but that’s because Croatia spent so many decades under Communist rule. Trade to the West was curtailed, and hundreds of acres of wine grapes got uprooted. All that has turned around in recent years. Many vineyards are being re-planted, and in time we’ll probably see the Old World wines of Croatia in our stores.
(Of course, Tudor Wines draw on those ancient traditions – so you don’t really have to wait!)
After I got started making notes on the family’s history, I realized that I need to schedule talks with several relatives to make the story as complete as possible. But here is a beginning…
My grandfather was quite a big guy, about six-foot-six. That’s still an exceptional height today, but nearly a century ago it was nearly gigantic. Dinko “Dan” Tudor disembarked from an Atlantic crossing at Ellis Island in 1917, then took the train across the country to join cousins who had already settled in Delano, California. With his size and strength he quickly found employment with PG&E, installing telephone poles around the San Joaquin Valley.
Delano is a short drive south of Fresno, and is known as the Table Grape Capitol of the World. My grandfather soon joined his cousins, doing what they had all learned in Croatia – cultivating grapes. Pretty soon after that, some family members helped him buy 40 acres of his own, an empire that he gradually expanded as years went by.
The long, hot summers of the San Joaquin are best for table grapes, not wine grapes, so the only Tudor wines during this era were the ones my grandfather made for his own family and friends. He would make at least one barrel every year, even through the years of Prohibition, when it was still legal to make wine for private consumption. There was also a barrel of home-made wine vinegar, for my grandmother’s kitchen, as well.
I first started thinking about making wine when I was a kid, in the early 70s. My father bought 49 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains, near Soquel, and was among the first people to plant wine grapes in the area. Unfortunately, at that time few Americans had sophisticated knowledge of wine. The market wasn’t steady enough, so he had to pull out the vines and become a cattle rancher.
My real introduction came in 1982, when I was a very young guy. Louis Lucas, a cousin from Delano, happens to be one of the great pioneers of Central Coast wine making. He got started there around 1970, and little by little adapted viticulture techniques that had been passed down in the family. His vineyards have supplied a long list of top wineries, including Korbel, Chateau Montelena, Ridge, Rusack, Daniel Gehrs, and Bonny Doon. And, of course, his own wineries, Lucas-Lewellyn Vineyards and Mandolina.
I lived for two years right in the middle of the 1,700 acre vineyard he and partners owned in Tepusquet Canyon, on the eastern side of the Santa Maria Valley. I did just about every job that leads to wine. At harvest time I was in charge of testing all the blocks, determining the perfect time to pick. That’s still one of my favorite parts of the whole process. In spring I drove an old water truck around the vineyards, keeping the spraying crews supplied. I have no idea what year that truck was made, but I remember it had old style fenders that kind of stuck out like batwings over the wheels, and that they creaked and flapped whenever I had drove over bumps. It had no doors, and no seat belts. It was not the kind of equipment you would show to an OSHA inspector today. Of course, times were lean for the pioneers of the industry, at least until 1991, when 60 Minutes made Americans aware of what was called “The French Paradox.” When people heard that drinking red wine was heart-healthy, demand shot up and production began to climb.
That’s my first installment about the Tudor family’s long history with grapes. We also grew lavender in Croatia, just as they do in the Santa Ynez Valley and the Rhone Valley of France. Next month I’ll take you deeper into the past, and back to Croatia, where numerous cousins still run vineyards and make wine. I promise you, you are going to meet some wild characters.
October 2007 Harvest Report and Newsletter -
We are pleased to announce the launch of our new wine club, the Tudor Premier Club. Being a member guarantees you early notification and an allocation every time a new vintage is ready to release, which occurs twice per year. You can choose either a six-bottle or 12-bottle allocation, and you’ll receive a discount, but there is never any obligation to purchase – just an opportunity to buy our wines as demand from other non-Club customers increases. You will also be notified of exclusive members-only events during the year designed for you to get to know Tudor Wines and our superb small-lot releases from a family winery based on 600 years of Old-World tradition. It’s as easy as that. Join today!
Our two newest releases are already proving to be exceptionally popular. The 2005 Tudor Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot is our three-vineyard blend, and it has received 94-point ratings from two highly respected sources. The 2005 Tudor Tondre’ Single Vineyard Pinot is made from the very best grapes of a single outstanding vineyard. We filled 40 barrels from this great vineyard, and ultimately chose 10 of them to make this perfectly balanced Pinot with spice and a slight earthy tone on the nose, followed by hints of dark cherry and black cherry.
I mentioned in last month’s newsletter that prospects looked great for the 2007 Pinot Noir crop. Well, those tiny and intense berries are now coming in. I can’t wait to start working with this year’s grapes! It has been a really cool growing season, with only a small jump in heat as August turned into September. The vines are beautifully balanced, with just slightly less fruit on the vines than leafy canopy. The berries I’ve inspected are so small that many have only a single seed, while many others have no seeds at all.
The Santa Lucia Highlands vineyards that supply us can produce three or four tons per acre and still bring forth great wines. This year – thanks to mild temperatures and sparse rainfall – yields will probably be down around two tons per acre, maybe even a bit less. Low yields evoke superb, well concentrated flavors. So you can anticipate that 2007 is going to be among the really great, high quality vintages. (And another good reason to take advantage of our Tudor Premier Club.)
Next month I’ll have some Tales From the Crush, and stories from the Tudor family’s 600-year heritage of making wine.
Bradley Gray Writes About Tudor Wines…..
Tudor wines – A continuation of a 2,200-year family tradition
Have you ever taken the time to read brochures from wineries? It seems to me that most of them use exactly the same text: “Family owned,” “handcrafted,” “traditional,” on and on and on. This is usually accompanied by a stock shot of a misty-eyed winemaker fondling grapes in the vineyard, and a Photoshopped image of the gardens and fountain outside the tasting room. “The so-and-so winery has been handcrafting wine in the traditional Burgundian (or Bordeaux or whatever) style for generations…” Sound familiar?
When we think of wineries with “generations” of family involvement here in the Sonoma Valley, the places that come to mind are the Bundschus, the Sebastianis, the Gallos.
Tudor Wines, based in the Santa Lucia Highlands, has all of that stuff on its Web page. They make pinot noir. “Handcrafted”? Check. “Traditional”? Check. “Family owned”? Sure enough. No tasting room, so no fountain. Sorry. But here’s the kicker! The Tudors have been making wines and growing grapes since 200 years – before Christ!
Tudor Wines is run by cousins Dan and Christian Tudor. Their family began growing grapes and making wine around 200 B.C. in a town called Velo Grablje. Velo Grablje is on the Island of Hvar off the Dalmatian coast of Croatia.
The Isle of Hvar is the second-largest Adriatic island. It has been considered the “Croatian Madeira,” and the temperate climate there is perfect for grape growing. It continues to be the primary industry there.
The Tudor family emigrated to the United States in the early 1900s, where they settled in Delano, just south of Fresno. There, they continued the family tradition of grape-growing, and to this day the two family branches (Dan Tudor & Sons and Vincent Zaninovich Farms) are among the largest suppliers of table grapes in the U.S.
In keeping with family tradition, Dan Tudor began making wine as a hobby in the early 1980s. He won several awards as an amateur winemaker while working under cousin Louie Lucas at Tepuesquet Vineyards in 1982. Dan and Christian formed Tudor Wines in 1999, specializing in Santa Lucia Highlands pinot noir. They produce less than 3,000 cases annually, and they have been gathering accolades from major wine publications. Dan handles the winemaking while Christian covers the business side.
Their wines are really impressive, if you can get a hold of them! Their 2003 pinot noir was one of the best California pinot noirs I’ve ever had (see review below).
Dan Tudor can be a tough guy to get in touch with. When not on the road promoting his brand, he’s usually surfing near his home on the Monterey Peninsula. When he’s not surfing, he’s usually in Pebble Beach collecting wild mushrooms. Most of Dan’s mushroom hunts end with photographs of the day’s score being e-mailed to friends and business associates. Dan and Christian have enlisted the help of Larry Brooks, who acts as consulting winemaker. Larry’s background includes stints at Acacia (founding winemaker), Echelon (founder, winemaker), and executive winemaker for the Chalone Group’s pinot noir houses.
The Tudors source their grapes from several family-owned vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands. They have a second label, a central coast pinot called Radog, which features a dog on a surfboard on the label. It retails for $23.
2003 Tudor pinot noir, Santa Lucia Highlands
This is a big, fleshy, amazing noir with enough fruit character for three wines! The amazing thing here is that there is enough structure and acidity to carry this wine a long way. Flavors of black cherry, rhubarb, cola dominate up front, and then give way to subtle brown spice, vanilla and tangy acid. Get your hands on some if you can! It goes fast. $36 to top
For Immediate Release
Contact: Bradley Gray/Gray Matters Communications
(707) 694-4542 Bradley@vom.com
Tudor Wines Gain Recognition with Style, Quality and Terroir
Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Producer Creates World Class Wines of Remarkable CharacterMonterey, CA Tudor Wines is emerging as one of the new “top echelon” American cult wineries. Founded in 1999 by cousins Dan and Christian Tudor, they specialize in small, handcrafted lots of Pinot Noir from family-owned vineyards in the celebrated Santa Lucia Highlands. Tudor Wines represents a continuation of a 2,600-year family history of winemaking and grape growing.
Tudor’s wines are characterized by delicate nuance brought by dedicated winemaking. They feature impeccable balance, handcrafted elegance and reasonable pricing. The winery’s first release, the 2000 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, is reflective of the spectacular family-owned vineyards where the grapes were grown. It showcases gorgeous cherry and berry nuance, silky texture and a long, vibrant finish. Only 1,400 cases were produced.
Dan and Christian’s family has been making wine on the island of Hvar on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia since 200 B.C. In the early 1900s, they came to America and began growing grapes in California, where they are still one of the state’s largest producers of table grapes. Tudor Wines is a proud continuation of this amazing viticultural family history.
With the current popularity of Pinot Noir, Tudor has widened their distribution to include most of the United States. They have been met with national critical acclaim, and their reputation has blossomed into a “cult-wine” status amongst knowledgeable consumers.
Christian Tudor acts as the winery’s General Manager, while cousin Dan Tudor and Consulting Winemaker Larry Brooks (co-founder of Acacia, founder of Echelon, and long-time manager of Chalone’s wineries) create world-class Pinot Noirs.
For more information about Tudor wines, call (831) 224-2116, or visit www.tudorwines.com.
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