Herzog Cellars Winery Tasting Room and Dinner at Tierra Sur Restaurant
This past week my wife and I went to dinner at the famous Tierra Sur Restaurant, which is located inside the Herzog Cellars Winery. The restaurant is run by the head chef Todd Aarons and is always a culinary treat. We have enjoyed his handiwork before when a few times at the Herzog International Food & Wine Festival held every year at the winery, around February. This year the event will be held in the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, in Los Angeles, CA. Tickets for the upcoming event on February 15th, at 6 PM, can be purchased at the Herzog Wine Cellars web page here.
As we entered the winery we were greeted by the nice lady at the front desk, as we made our way to the restaurant we passed the Herzog Tasting Bar.
Traffic getting to the winery was so crazy busy that we barely made our appointed time. We entered the lovely restaurant and were seated immediately, and were given the current menu. The menu changes often, as the restaurant is proud of its local sourcing and its rich and bountiful flavors. According to the website: Tierra Sur continually strives to bring the best produce and ingredients to its customers by buying from local, small family farms. We are proud to participate in the Growers Collaborative Program under Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF). CAFF is a statewide non-profit organization that works to build a movement of rural and urban people to foster family-scale agriculture that cares for the land, sustains local economies and promotes social justice.
Given the complexity of building a menu around what is available locally, even in California, Tomatoes are pretty much over now, as are zucchini, and fresh bell peppers. So the menu is filled with fresh winter salads, chard, and beets, all lovely tasting winter California bounty, with tomatoes and other Summer Solstice vegetables used as adornments. For starters we chose the Chorizo lamb sausage and black olive piadina flat bread with watercress, cherry tomato salad and zahtar dressing. The small pie was lovingly adorned by rich and spicy lamb sausage, along with black olives and a couple of tomatoes on top. For entrees, my wife chose the braised brisket and I chose the duck. After makes our choices, we made our way to the tasting bar and we sampled four of the red wines that were available.
I started with the 2008 Baron Herzog Zinfandel, which is a fine enough wine, but one that does not stand me up on my ear and make me take notice. For 10 bucks or so a bottle, at most local shops, it is the best of the baseline Baron Herzog wines. We than had a taste of the 2009 Herzog GPS (Grenache Petite Sirah) blend. According to the back label Joe Hurliman, the head winemaker at Herzog, has been wanting to make a wine from the Grenache grape and personally, he has made a wonderful wine that emotes whimsical and light white chocolate, flowers, and rich fruit. We followed that with a testing of the 2010 Weinstock Alicante Bouschet. Do not worry, I never heard of this one either before my friend told me about it when he received it in his Herzog Wine Club delivery. For some quick history and viticulture the Alicante Bouschet, it is an intensely red grape with a somewhat dark and infamous past. It was the number one grape used during the prohibition, and widely planted in California during the prohibition, because its color and thick skin allowed for the long trip to the east coast and to be diluted without discoloring the wine too greatly! The grape makes for intensely dark wines, with somewhat high alcohol, and average quality wine.
When standing around and tasting the Alicante Bouschet, I asked the folks around what they thought about it. They answered (though some pleaded the 5th), to a man/lady, that the Alicante Bouschet was OK, but had no finish, and that it was far to young. When I smelled it the first thing that hit me was the intense floral, cherry, raspberry, and chocolate. The mouth was OK, and in my opinion the finish was fine, but the wine overall did not have enough to grab me, but it is truly unique.
Finally, we tasted the Herzog Petite Sirah, Second Edition, which we greatly enjoyed the last time we tasted it. The notes were almost exactly the same – excepting for the fact that the wine opens much faster, with rich tar, chocolate, oak, and nice rich black fruit.
Here are the notes for the wines that we tasted:
2008 Baron Herzog Zinfandel – Score: B to B+
The nose on this black colored wine is rich with chocolate, dark cherry, ripe mixed forest berry, blackcurrant, bramble, and boysenberry. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich with forest berry, boysenberry, black cherry, blackcurrant, and oak. The mid palate is chocolaty with rich acid, oak, and berry. The finish is long and spicy with berry, acid, oak, chocolate, searing tannin, and bramble.
2009 Herzog GPS (Grenache Petite Sirah) – Score: B++ to A-
The nose on this vibrant purple colored wine is super rich and redolent with light fluffy white chocolate, blueberry, ripe raspberry, blackberry, black cherry, and rich oak. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is fun and ethereal is dominated with lovely white chocolate, black cherry, blackcurrant, oak, and blueberry. The mid palate is balanced with acid, more oak, white chocolate, lovely soft tannin that contributes to a fun rich mouth. The finish is long with more white chocolate, oak, blackcurrant, raspberry, black cherry, blueberry, and vanilla. This is a lovely wine that has about two years left in its sea legs.
2010 Weinstock Alicante Bouschet – Score: B+
The nose on this purple to black colored wine is heady and addictive nose of dark cherry, floral notes, raspberry, spice, blackcurrant, and lovely minted chocolate. The mouth on this medium bodied wine, disappointments in comparison to the nose, with a rich mouth of dark cherry, raspberry, floral notes, blackcurrant. The mid palate is spicy with balancing acid, rich spice, tar, and chocolate. The finish is long and super spicy with chocolate, tar, raspberry, black cherry, bramble, floral notes, and heady spice. Like I stated before, this is a truly unique wine and one that you should try and decide for yourself if this is a wine that grabs you.
Herzog Petite Sirah, Second Edition – Score: A-
The nose on this tar infused purple to black colored wine screams tar, blackberry, blackcurrant, black cherry, chocolate, oak, spice, rich black pepper, bramble, and loamy dirt. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich with tar, oak, blackcurrant, blackberry, raspberry, and freshly ground spice. The mid palate is rich and layered with nice acidity, and more fresh spice, tar, and chocolate. The finish is long and super spicy with rich chocolate, tar, raspberry, blackcurrant, bramble, black pepper, and spice. This is truly a powerhouse PS and one that has 4 or 5 years left in its legs.
We finished the tasting in perfect timing, as our waiter summoned us back to our table. We paid for the tasting and two bottles of GPS and we made our way to the restaurant. The chorizo was rich and spicy and a food that would go well with either the PS2 or a rich sweet Zinfandel late harvest. We noshed on some of lovely bread and garlic infused oil until our main courses arrived. I finished my duck that was laid on top of beets and pillows stuffed with duck pate. My wife’s course was massive with two large hunks of brisket on top of a bed of torn pasta adorned with a rich and savory sauce. We could not finish all the brisket or the chorizo, so we took that home to go. We had a rich chocolate hat with creamy rich chocolate mousse inside. I had a French press of fantastic coffee and we were all set.
The entire experience is not cheap, but one that you can savor and remember as an evening well spent with your loved ones and with people who care deeply about their craft and product. My many thanks to the entire Herzog staff for such a lovely and wonderful evening.
Posted on January 2, 2012, in Food and drink, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting, Winery Visit and tagged Alicante Bouschet, GPS, Grenache - Petite Sirah, Herzog Cellars Winery, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.