What do you know about Calistoga’s Switchback Ridge Winery? How about the new Mastercard, the “Grand Reserves Reward” card, that’s just for wine enthusiasts? Have you handled any Grassl glassware? Visited Liquid Assets Cellars? Let me give you a taste of each, with a special focus on the wine of course!
It started like this: Grand Reserve members were “invited by our partner winery Switchback Ridge to a special private tasting event. They will be pouring their 2015/2016 Merlot, 2015/2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 Petite Sirah…and one new, not yet released wine for something extra fun! The event will take place at Liquid Assets Cellars in North Hollywood…Pierson Ryan from Switchback Ridge” will lead the tasting.
Learning About Switchback Ridge
Ryan explained that the winery is run by a mother/daughter team Kelly and Ashley Peterson. Ryan said, “This is fantastic wine but the people are better.” The family has owned the land for 106 years, 1999 was their first vintage, they only make about 3 thousand cases per year, they hold all reds four years in bottle after barrel aging and have 21 acres under vine. Winemaker Bob Foley is known as the “Mount Rushmore winemaker’, aka Mr. Merlot, and a very iconic winemaker (not related to Bill Foley).
About 80 percent of their wine is allocated to club members and the remaining 20 percent to wine bars and restaurants. Liquid Assets owner Kevin Jones chimed in, basically saying this is a perfect time to get in on winery allocation lists as due to Covid some members have had to drop off.
Tasting (my notes are in italics)
2015 SWITCHBACK RIDGE MERLOT 92% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon
This is what Merlot should be! Ripe aromas and flavors of red cherry and cassis coat the palate with a rich, round middle. A framework of soft tannin delivers a beautiful finish with hints of mocha. 1008 CASES | $58/750ML (This was the first wine I tasted and stayed my favorite throughout. I found more dark cherry over red, the cassis and a finish that just wouldn’t quit! The 16 months it spent in French oak was perfect for my palate.)
2016 SWITCHBACK RIDGE MERLOT 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Enticing red fruit bowl aromas of raspberry, red cherry and cassis are graced with just a hint of savory spice. These flavors flood the palate with a rich mouthful of deliciousness that brings on espresso-like nuances. The structure and balance resolve in a mouth-coating finish that seems to go on forever. 1144 CASES | $60/750ML (Had to agree with the “flood the palate” and the length of the finish noted by the winery above. Jeb Dunnuck gave this one 94 points. This one was a bit tighter than the 2015 for me, I would decant or lay it down for a bit.)
2015 SWITCHBACK RIDGE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Intoxicating aromas of Bing Cherry and black currant. Delicious mid-palate sweetness, gently gripping tannin, finishing with hints of espresso and vanilla bean. A thoroughly ripe vintage with great aging potential. 829 CASES | $95/750ML (Purely Domestic Wine Report awarded this wine 95 points. Ryan said they had a very low yield. I thought it fine to drink now, with dark black cherry, balsamic as well as the espresso and vanilla noted above. My second favorite wine in the tasting.)
2016 SWITCHBACK RIDGE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Intense dark fruit aromas of black cherry and black currant indicate the ripeness and purity of this beautiful Cabernet. The structural framework is sturdy, while tannin grips very gently, carrying the fruit flavors with a trace of vanilla into a long, graceful finish. 1071 CASES | $96/750ML (Jeb Dunnuck really liked this one, giving it a whopping 96+. Beautiful fruit and tannin structure.)
2014 SWITCHBACK RIDGE PETITE SIRAH 100% Petite Sirah (33% Old Vine Block)
You might have to tap on the bottom of the bottle a few times to get this wine out! Incredibly dark and impenetrable with wild berry and boysenberry fruit. The wine coats your palate from beginning to end. Chewy tannins are well integrated and nicely balanced by ripe, jammy fruit and lifted by ample natural juicy acidity. 717 CASES | $62/750ML (I had to use one of my favorite lines, “There’s a lot going on in this glass” to describe this Petite Sirah. Lots of thick jam and strong tannins; Ryan mentioned a great age ability and that it only needed a ribeye steak!)
A note on the not yet released wine – stay tuned to Switchback Ridge as though we were one of the few that have sampled it, we can’t share anything about it publicly until it’s released, possibly by November!
Grassl Glass (Excerpted From Brochure)
Every Grassl Glass is handmade by artisans with over 30 years of glass blowing experience. The result of their skill is a glass with remarkable precision, highest quality materials and unbelievable thinness that feels weightless in your hand. All shapes were developed with the feedback of world renowned winemakers to establish a clear benchmark for how their wines should unfold and be enjoyed by everyone.
So, become a card holder, earn some bonus points and you will be invited to tastings with wineries like Switchback Ridge, and other “experiences”. Visit Liquid Assets Cellars, in nearby North Hollywood about 20 minutes from Santa Clarita, for your chance to handle the delicately made GrassL glassware – I swear the decanter weighed a mere ounce – and see the custom cellars where you can also store your wine! Make friends with the owner Kevin Jones and he’ll walk you over to his sister shop, Epicurus Gourmet (I felt like we were in a French grocery!) and maybe also sample his new Kindred Rose wine.
Watch 20 seconds or so of how the glassware is made here:
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.