A great review (on a GREAT blog), by Nelson Tucker, "The Wine Guy" 


Bourassa Vineyards
2010 Harmony ³ (Napa Valley)
An intriguing version of Napa Valley's answer to this Bordeaux blend. Right off the bat I was pleased with the dark purple color, floral and spice aromas, and rich, spicy, ripe dark cherry and berry flavors that followed.
This wine is expected to age nicely over the next ten to fifteen years. These grapes were picked at the right time to produce a well structured wine. It is a beautiful wine for sipping or with prime rib or rich and spicy pasta.
It's partner wine was one of the Top 100 Cabs of the Napa Valley. Once again, Vic Bourassa has hit a home run!
Winery price: $59.00

Click image to read Nelson Tucker's Blog. "The Wine Guy" 

Guy Downes
April 14, 2011 | Guy Downes

Wines for Easter

Easter is a wonderful time of the year as we celebrate Spring and a time for families and friends  to come together around the dinner table. The supermarkets are stocked with delicious whole legs of lamb and big fresh hams crying out to make an appearance on your table. Easter is a holiday similar to Thanksgiving and Christmas where so many of us gather to break bread, but let's not forget to consider what wines should be poured to please your guests!

So the best Easter wine tip we can offer is to make sure you don't pour anything too shy or subtle with those big roasts. Lamb needs a big red like our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and with a juicy fresh ham we suggest our wonderfully well received 2009 Rutherford Chardonnay.  

The reason we think our Cabernet Sauvignon goes so well with lamb is because of its vivid, mouth-filling fruit flavors. Our 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon has concentrated raspberry and vanilla flavor that linger on your palate as you sip the wine. It's certainly an equal to the bold, simple flavors of roast lamb and won't overpower the taste of the meat. 

In the same way our 2009 Rutherford Chardonnay is clean and crisp with tremendous balance. It has subtle flavors of white peach and green apple, which layer the palate while its finish is soft yet lengthy and offers hints of butterscotch. Just like the Cab' and the lamb pairing, this Chardonnay offers balance and harmony to your fresh ham and its seasonings. 

You can buy a bottle or case of our 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Rutherford Chardonnay in our wine store today by clicking here.

Whatever wine you choose for your Easter celebration we hope you enjoy this special time for friends and families to come together.  

Time Posted: Apr 14, 2011 at 10:05 AM
Guy Downes
March 28, 2011 | Guy Downes

Wine Tasting Etiquette

Whether you’re new to the world of wine or a seasoned sipper, wine tasting etiquette is something you need to know, but nothing to be worried about. If you follow a few simple rules even the newest of wine tasters among you can look like you know what you’re doing. Here at Bourassa we believe wine tasting should always be about enjoyment and everyone being as comfortable as possible. Whether you’re visiting our beautiful tasting room here in Napa or throwing your own party, by following these three tips you will relax and get the most out your wine tasting.

Tip 1 – Don’t hog the wine
If you are at a tasting where bottles are on the table for you and other tasters to enjoy remember not to hog the wine. If you’ve sipped something really delicious you might be tempted to go back for a second, or even third glass but you should always make sure everyone has had the opportunity to enjoy the wine. If you’re in a group tasting situation and someone doesn’t share, it gets noticed. The best tastings are when everyone shares the wines and all opinions are considered equal. 

Tip 2 – Appreciate the wine you taste
Whether you taste a bottle worth $10 or $100, always respect the wine and the care and attention that has gone into making it. Giving wines of all values and varieties respect honors either the winemaker at a tasting room or the guest that brought the wine at a wine tasting party. It’s also not the most attractive sight to see someone ‘chugging’ wine, so take your time giving yourself ample opportunity to appreciate the wine’s characteristics.

Tip 3 – Spit buckets
People attending their first wine tastings are often confused by spit buckets, asking themselves how such a refined and classy activity can involve spitting wine into a bucket. In actual fact spit buckets are a completely accepted part of wine tasting etiquette at tasting rooms and private parties all over the world. You may be surprised to know that in some cellars, winemakers often spit onto the floor when they taste wines from the barrel! Of course one of the reasons spit buckets are used so much is to prevent anyone from feeling the alcoholic effects from tasting and consuming too much wine. You want to keep your senses sharp if you taste several different wines at one tasting. Some people will swallow a sip or two of their wine and then dump the rest of the glass into a bucket. Whatever your reason for using a spit bucket at a tasting do so in the knowledge that it is perfectly acceptable, just be sure to be on target!

Time Posted: Mar 28, 2011 at 1:50 PM
Guy Downes
March 16, 2011 | Guy Downes

U.S. wine consumption passes France's

The Chronicle reported today that for the first time the United States has passed France as the largest wine-consuming nation in the world. Our larger population and growing interest in 'wine-and-cheese' culture are cited as reasons for this historic achievement.

America's oldest wine consulting firm, Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates, report that shipments of wine to the United States rose 2% in 2010 to 329.7 million cases compared with the French figure of 320.6 million.

So are we really drinking more wine than our friends across the pond? The short answer is no. The French are still ahead in per-capita consumption, but the domestic wine industry is growing in a large part due to younger generations being more exposed to wine via social media channels. There is also the fact that our population is 5 times that of France and wine is now becoming a part of everyday life for many more of us than in years past.

So what wines are behind this surge in American appreciation? According to the Neilsen Company Chardonnay was the best selling varietal in 2010, generating $2.3 billion in revenue. Cabernet Sauvignon came second in the consumption stakes bringing in $1.38 billion. The varietals that grew the fastest in popularity last year were 'Sideways' favorite Pinot Noir along with Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, all of which rose more than 9%. 

The days are long gone where the 'entry' to wine drinking was the consumption of white Zinfandel. Today the millennial generation are choosing more traditional varietals and going for pricier bottles. Wine is playing a part in many more occasions throughout peoples lives and these numbers clearly show it's gaining a historic prominence in American drinking habits.

(Source: SF Chronicle)

Time Posted: Mar 16, 2011 at 10:15 AM
Guy Downes
March 11, 2011 | Guy Downes

All about Corks

Corks have been an integral part of the wine business for decades, and while it's true that there is a real developing trend towards screw caps, I think we can all agree corks aren't going away just yet. 

OK so we admit it, we like corks! They are a part of the tradition, romance and ceremony around opening a much anticipated bottle of wine. When you take your time to get the corkscrew in the cork just right, and pull it out creating that popping noise known the world over, it's truly a moment of joy. 

Of course corks come with their own set of challenges (you may have heard the term 'corked' before!) when an unwanted musty smell can spoil a wine. Fortunately this is the exception rather than the rule as cork is composed of suberin, a hydrophobic substance, used because of its impermeability and elasticity. Since the mid 1990s some winemakers have switched to alternatives such as synthetic corks or screw caps but in the study "Analysis of the life cycle of Cork, Aluminum and Plastic Wine Closures," commissioned by cork manufacturer Amorim that was released in 2008, it was concluded that cork is the most environmentally responsible stopper, in a one-year life cycle analysis comparison with the plastic stoppers and aluminum screw caps.

Whether you're drinking a wine that has a natural or synthetic cork, a good quality corkscrew is absolutely essential. Maybe you've used a poor one in the past, seen how it can tear the middle out of the cork and hurt your hand. A good corkscrew will have a comfortable grip, use counter pressure against the rim of the bottle and the screw will have an open spiral with a clear line of sight up the middle, to grip as much cork as possible. No doubt you will have seen the most common of all corkscrews, the 'waiter's friend', which despite all the fancy expensive alternatives on the market is often the most reliable (hence it's name!).

A good tip when preparing to remove a wine cork is to remove the capsule.  When you have invested in a good quality bottle of wine and especially if you're pouring for friends, you don't want the sight of a ragged-edge capsule where the cork has been pulled through. The simple solution here is to use the small knife on your 'waiter's friend' and cut a circle just below the ridge on the neck of the bottle and remove.

(Sources: WSJWine & Flickr)

Time Posted: Mar 11, 2011 at 12:13 PM
Guy Downes
March 8, 2011 | Guy Downes

Weed Control is a Year Round Task in any Vineyard

For most vineyards here in Napa, California and certainly across the Western U.S., weeds are a reality that every winegrower must either control or manage. The largest group of weeds by species are winter annuals and like most weed species they have an extraordinary capability for growth, survival and competitiveness for space, light, water and nutrients.

In Napa vineyards these winter annual plants germinate in the fall, grow low to the ground through the winter, and then grow and bloom at a rapid pace in the spring. By early summer they are pretty much done growing, set seed and dry up.

Most of these weeds are manageable for vineyards and some growers manage them as a self-reseeding cover crop by mowing whatever happens to grow between their vines. The weeds will grow when vines are dormant and are often actually helpful in preventing soil erosion. Examples of weeds that are not difficult to manage in a vineyard setting would be mustard, filaree and annual broome grass.

But as you might imagine with weeds, problems are never too far away! When they grow at the same time as the crop, difficulties arise due to the weeds competitive nature. Of course vineyards will mow, spray and cultivate weeds to make sure they don’t grow at the same time as the vines and they have to be kept under control to reduce habitat, food and shelter for rodents. The other reason for keeping a clean and cultivated vineyard is because here in Napa we simply like how they look!

Like any other aspect of our lives, technology is having an impact on how winegrowers manage the weeds in their vineyards. There is a growing trend toward environmentally conscious weed and pest control through the use of propane generated heat, with applications of either flame or steam. These two methods are an alternative to chemical application and mechanical cultivation, and are both recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Program.

Time Posted: Mar 8, 2011 at 8:38 AM
Guy Downes
March 1, 2011 | Guy Downes

The Art of Pairing Wine and Food

Food and wine have gone together since the dawn of time and as wine lovers I'm sure you've often wondered what you'll be eating when you get your hands on a really exciting bottle of wine. Special occasions are made extra memorable when you get the pairing of the food that you prepared, with the wine poured, just right. 

The goal of food pairing is to have the food and wine complement each other but if you choose carefully you can sometimes even enhance the flavors of the dishes and wine you're offering guests. 

So let's run down a few guidelines recognizing that we are all different with unique tastes and preferences but if you follow these tips you'll give yourself the best possible chance of a successful food and wine pairing. 

You've probably heard of some classic matches such as goat cheese and Sauvignon Blanc but where you really start to enjoy yourself is when you experiment with different foods and wines. Keep in mind that flavors in wine originate from certain basic components: acid, sugar, tannin and alcohol. In a similar fashion the flavor components of food, fat, acid, salt, sugar and bitter shine the brightest when they complement the elements, textures and richness of the wine.

One way to experiment is to think of a wine that will be very similar to your food, so you might pour a big buttery Chardonnay with a pasta in a cream sauce. Conversely you can be just as successful taking the opposite path by pairing that rich cream sauce with a dry, unoaked white wine to cut through the creamy fat. 

Many of the foods we love have high levels of fat (it's why gyms were invented!) and of course wine doesn't contain fat. So when considering which wine to pour with a fatty food remember that acid and tannins in wine balance out that richness to create a great pairing. 

Have you ever noticed how a good cut of steak tastes so good when paired with a quality Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc? The protein and fat in the beef softens the wine's characteristic mouth drying tannins getting you ready to really appreciate the fruit that the winemaker has created for you to savor. 

Consider how acid in a wine adds a fresh kick in the same way a lemon might do when served with salmon or over steamed vegetables. If you know the food you're preparing is going to have acidic qualities make sure your wine can stand up to them other wise it will taste bland and lose its characteristics. The tangy dressings on salads offer a challenge to hosts wanting to offer a good matching wine so think about the herbal flavors so often found in Sauvignon Blanc or Semillons. 

Of course when you get to the final course of your meal you want a wine that will impress your guests as much as that amazing desert you have just served! The basic rule with desert pairing is to always serve wine that is sweeter than the desert otherwise you risk the dish tasting bitter or tart. 

Whatever your choice of food and wine pairing remember that a little preparation and research will go a long way to enhancing any meal and allow you to truly Celebrate Life!

(Source: Wine Enthusiast)

Time Posted: Mar 1, 2011 at 11:07 AM
Guy Downes
February 16, 2011 | Guy Downes

The Origins of Zinfandel

Of all the grape varietals, Zinfandel is the one with perhaps the most confusing history and lineage. For years experts have weighed in with their opinions on the origins Zinfandel with many believing it had to have originated in southern Italy's Apulia region, where you can find the genetically related Primitivo (di Goia) variety. Yet other research suggested that there was a possible parent/offspring relationship with the Plavic Mai grape from Croatia.

The current accepted theory is that the roots of Zinfandel are most likely in the Dalmatian province of Croatia where DNA matches have been made with a variety locally known as Crljenak Kasteljanski. Research work completed in both Croatia and UC Davis certainly supports this theory. California's Zinfandel and Italy's Primitivo certainly share a genetic link but their long geographic separation has meant they evolved with quite different vine and wine characteristics. 

When you consider the wine style of Zinfandel, or 'Zin' as it's so often known these days, the story is equally engrossing. Zinfandel can show so many different characteristics and can have an almost chameleon like quality. From up front, berry-fruity reds to spicy tannic blockbusters and even tart roses this variety is certainly versatile. The range of soft, simple blushes, unique sparkling wines, desert and fortified wines means you can never really categorize Zinfandel which is perhaps part of it's wide appeal to so many wine enthusiasts.

Here in California Zinfandel has always been a steady favorite even as consumer tastes move from one trend to the next. yes it's true that here in Napa we are well known as home to some majestic Cabernet Sauvignons (we produce one or two ourselves!) but Zinfandel comes pretty close in terms of total acreage and volume of grapes crushed. Today Zinfandel is recognized as one of the stars of Californian wine production planted all over the state in a wide variety of climactic zones. Outside our state you will be able to find Zinfandel planted in Oregon, Mexico and South America but I'm sure you'll forgive us if we still think Californian 'Zin' is the best of the bunch!

(Sources AppellationAmerica / Flickr)

Time Posted: Feb 16, 2011 at 12:26 PM
Guy Downes
February 11, 2011 | Guy Downes

Port & Chocolate - A Perfect Pairing

With Valentine's Day almost upon us our thoughts are turning to all things chocolate and the best wine to accompany our favorite sweet treat. 

Simply put chocolate is delicious accompanied by red wines with their often matching and complementing flavors but where it really shines is with a good quality Port. Port has the perfect balance of fruit, spice, acid, sugar and alcohol to be paired with a wide assortment of chocolates. 

Even in the glass Port is a pleasure to behold. A color that is deep and brilliant with aromas and flavors that typically show hints of spice-infused blackberry deserts, mixed nuts and of course chocolate! 

As part of the 10th year anniversary events taking place here at Bourassa Vineyards, on Saturday (tomorrow!) we invite you to a 'Smokin Good Time' where among the wines poured will be our very own Solera Port. It will be a perfect opportunity to pair our Port with the fine chocolates from Napa's Vintage Sweet Shop as well as enjoying a cigar from Baker Street Cigar.

There's still time to RSVP by calling (707) 254 4922!


Time Posted: Feb 11, 2011 at 9:33 AM
Guy Downes
February 7, 2011 | Guy Downes

The Five Bordeaux Varietals

Today, with a total production of 3,500 cases, Bourassa Vineyards devotes much of it's attention to the five Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. So let's take a moment to introduce you to these famous varietals in a little more detail and tell you about their delicious characteristics!

Cabernet Franc

Flavors - Violets, blueberry, earth, black olive, coffee

Cabernet franc is an essential component of the world famous Bordeaux blend. When enjoyed as a single varietal wine it displays a a more tannic and earthy character than it's cousin Cabernet Sauvignon. Here in Napa and other warmer lands outside of Europe it's best known for violets and blueberry notes and the ripe tannins that produce a wonderful fresh roasted coffee scent. 

Cabernet Sauvignon

Flavors - Bell pepper, green olive, herb, cassis, black cherry

It is the primary varietal of our Bordeaux blend here in Napa Valley and is famous the world over. The blending process softens it's sometimes intense tannins and contributes thick and ripe flavors and aromas. Often layered with expensive new oak scents it is the one varietal that almost single-handedly created the phenomenon of cult wineries.


Flavors - Cherry, spice

While it's certainly one of the lesser blending grapes of the Bordeaux blend it's a key element to our wine making as shown in the 2004 Harmony5 Bordeaux Blend. As a single varietal it has risen to prominence in Argentina where it makes spicy wines that age well in new oak barrels. 


Flavors - Watermelon, strawberry, plum, cherry

Versatile is the best word to describe Merlot. Easy to like, easy to pronounce and much like a chardonnay of the red wine world! In Bordeaux the shining example of the varietal is Chateau Pétrus where it comprises 95 percent of their blend. It also makes up 23 percent of our Flagship wine, as shown in the 2003 Harmony3 Bordeaux Blend

Petit Verdot

Flavors - Blackberry, molasses, herb

Wine makers tend to use the Petit Verdot grape in a Bordeaux blend as chefs would use seasoning. Its careful inclusion to a blend adds dense fruit, dark color, powerful flavors and heavy tannins. There are also rare examples of single varietal wines such as our own 2006 Petit Verdot which when handled by an expert wine maker like Gary Galleron can be outstanding wines.

(Sources Flickr / Wine Enthusiast / Wine Pros)

Time Posted: Feb 7, 2011 at 11:53 AM
Guy Downes
February 4, 2011 | Guy Downes

Zinfandel & BBQ Beef Ribs - A Perfect Match

With the big game coming up this weekend it's the perfect chance to pair some delicious BBQ Beef Ribs with a glass or two of Bourassa Vineyards Napa Valley Zinfandel. This wonderfully sticky ribs recipe is sure to satisfy the sports fans in your home and is a crowd pleaser every time.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 50 minutes

Serves: 4


4 to 5 pounds beef back ribs (about 10 ribs)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup honey
1 4 ounce can green chilies, diced
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard


Trim excess fat from beef ribs. Combine salt, pepper and cayenne. Rub over the ribs. Preheat grill and prepare for indirect grilling with a drip pan. Place ribs on grill over drip pan and close the lid. Cook for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours over a medium low, indirect heat (try to keep the temperature under 265 degrees F.).

To prepare sauce combine onion, honey, ketchup, chili peppers, garlic and mustard in a sauce pan. Heat over a low temperature, stirring until even and warm. When the ribs are nearly finished begin brushing the sauce on them until you get a thick coating.

When you're thinking about which Zinfandel to pour let us suggest our 2006 vintage. It delivers wonderful ripe fruit, beautifully balanced with layers of dark cherry, warm spice and hints of vanilla. The American oak we use brings out the subtle nuances that enhance the finish of this terrific wine. It's a perfect balance of fruit, acid and tannins and will pair perfectly with those sticky ribs!

Time Posted: Feb 4, 2011 at 4:57 PM

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