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American Canyon: Cartlidge and Browne Winery – A Robert Parker fav … Feb chocolate and sweets event

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OVERVIEW

Whatever you might or might not think of Robert Parker, IMO, he nailed it on this winery …

"This winery, known for its excellent bargains, has again turned out a knock-out Chardonnay."

"The question that begs to be answered is why so many producers ignore what Cartlidge and Browne does better than just about anybody else in the state - produce fruit forward , pure, varietally correct, delicious wines."

I’ve visited about a half-dozen wineries this year, and in the many years that I’ve visited wineries, so few match this winery for welcoming, helpful staff, delicious wine and great prices.

It is in an industrial park with zilch visual appeal, yet was one of the most charming tasting rooms I’ve ever visited.

SUMMARY:

HOURS: Open Daily Monday - Thursday 10:00 am - 4:00 pm Friday - Sunday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Complimentary Tastings, Tours

DETAILS

TASTING FEE: Five complimentary tastes. Special wines (in the $20 - $30 range) are available for $2 a taste. A printed list of wines is available for notes. There is room for about 4 - 6 people to stand at the wine bar.

TOUR: On request according to the SF Chronicle. I visited late in the day, didn’t have my notes and never would have thought to ask because of the industrial park ambiance.

PICNIC FACILITIES: None

FOOD AVAILABLE: Only for special events

NOTES: Look for the bargain wines under $5 (sometimes under $2)

There are special FREE events. Here’s the 2008 schedule
Feb 09 – Chocolate and sweets
Apr 12 – Live jazz and cheese
Jun 14 – Carne aside BBQ
Aug 09 – Art Gala
Oct 11 – Harvest Festival
Dec 14 – Holiday art show

As of this post they don’t appear to have updated the website since 2007.

HANDICAPPED ACCESS: Great for both wheelchairs and people with limited mobility. Parking lot is a few steps from the tasting room. IIRC, there were even a few stools in the corner if there is a problem with standing any amount of time.

GETTING THERE: Super easy … about a 1/2 mile off highway 29. It just doesn’t look like a tasting room would be there because of the industrial park. Keep going until you see a few grape vines. It is a little up the road from the Sutter Home Distribution Center

VISITED: January 2008

MORE INFO:
http://www.cartlidgeandbrowne.com
http://www.sfgate.com/listings/venue....

Other notes about my visit in the next link

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Cartlidge & Browne Winery
205 Jim Oswalt Way, American Canyon, CA

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  1. While most of the wines are in the $11 - $15 dollar range … and each worth doubled those prices IMO … they are also known for their rock-bottom priced wine that actually tastes good.

    $1.99 MANZANITA CANYON SAUVIGNON BLANC
    $1.99 MANZANITA CANYON SHIRAZ
    $3.00 STRATFORD SHIRAZ 2000

    I am SO a wine neophyte and in winery reports don’t plan on doing descriptions of the wine because … really, what do I know. However, I’m making an exception in this case because there was just so much flavor and the wines ACTUALLY matched the descriptions

    Here’s a little from people more knowledgable than I am.

    From Wine Advocate … Dec 2007

    2006 Cartlidge and Browne Sauvignon Blanc Brilliant... true Sauvignon character
    Excellent Value! $14.00
    2006 Cartlidge and Browne Pinot Noir ...better than many that sell for five times the price. $15.00
    2006 Cartlidge and Browne Chardonnay ...fine purity as well as freshness... lovely Chardonnay Excellent Value $12.00

    There are also links on the website to reviews by the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and a dozen other reviews.

    On this blog by Carolyn Tillie there is an on-spot description with a few pictures … the tasting room does have windows now and is on a corner, so I guess it moved.
    http://carolyntillie_ultimate_california_wine_blog.typepad.com/california_wine_blog/2005/08/cartlidge_brown.html

    From another blog
    http://chcunningham.blogspot.com/2005...

    They seem to be distancing themselves from the Greenfield Winery name. The signs on Hwy 29 point to Cartlidge and Browne.

    Here’s what I tried in order of preferance They gave me a free 6th taste of the “Ehler’s Grove “hard labor” Syrah which costs $2 for a taste.

    2001 EHLERS GROVE SYRAH "HARD LABOR" $20

    One of the more pricy wines. The description said “Juicy plum and boysenberry fruit is enhanced by tones of licorice, oriental spices and meaty oak. Lush on the palate, but with a firm cor of dense fruit, it offers lavish black cherry and fig flavors’

    I thought .. sure .. .fig?

    My eyes opened wide … all those flavors were there … especially the fig. Who knew?

    2006 SINGLE VINYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC, CARTLIDGE & BROWNE $14

    I agree with Wine Spectator that this wine is brilliant with a lovely tropical fruit flavor.

    I really liked all of the following equally so no particular order. The descriptions on the tasting list are spot on. They are all very drinkable, smooth and flavorful.

    2006 CHARDONNAY, CARTLIDGE & BROWNE $11
    2006 PINOT NOIR, CARTLIDGE & BROWNE $15
    2006 MERLOT CARTLIDGE & BROWNE $15
    2005 SINGLE VINYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON, CARTLIDGE & BROWNE $20

    It was the end of the day. I had just blown a wad of dollars in Napa. I was just going to see where it was located but it was open … so why not. It looked SO unimpressive.

    I’ve decided on my winery visits to resist buying a bottle at a tasting because
    1. I get too enthusiastic at most places while I’m there so I need a cooling off time. Once I think about it, if it is really good wine, I’ll be back.
    2. In this case, really, I spent too much in Napa that day

    They were as nice to me as if I bought cases and cases. In the future I actually WILL buy cases and cases … well, at least a few bottles every time I’m in the area.

    The bottles are amazing bargains … really flavorful and delicious.

    Last winery report:
    Sonoma - Viansa Winery
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/474134

    1. I tasted the wines recently at a tasting of 30 or so wineries, and couldn't find the spit bucket fast enough. I found the fruit flavors quite off and manipulated, and the wines harsh and overoaked for what fruit there was. I don't know which specific C&B wines Parker tried or reviewed (probably not the releases the public is tasting) but Caitlidge and Brown's wines were the worst of the day at this particular tasting.

      Sorry my experience differed so widely from yours, Krys. Glad you're out there tasting around and learning, however.

      4 Replies
      1. re: maria lorraine

        That's too bad. The reviews on the site say which he tried along with the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. I don't get too enthused about wines in the $10 - $20 range because to me they pretty much all taste the same so I might as well drink lesser priced wines and save my wine dollars for occasional pricy bottles. Will have to see if my opinion remains after drinking a few bottles rather than sips.

        Anyway, the tasting is free.

        1. re: rworange

          Good luck on your tastings. I admire the level of energy you bring to learning. You seem like a very good candidate, given your level of curiosity and desire to learn, for a wine class or two. The classes offered by the community colleges are usually great -- they're 6 to 8 weeks long, and either offer a world overview, or concentrate on New or Old World wines. BTW, some of the recs on this board for Napa wineries lately have been outstanding, if you're interested in visiting those. I'd love for you to taste some great wines, even if you're not able to afford them, just to educate your palate. BTW, the best buys in wine right now (I think) are the inexpensive Rhone and Italian wines. There's a good thread on the wine board right now about the best wines under $15 :
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/408474

          1. re: maria lorraine

            Thanks for the class idea. I've been taking note of the wineries mentioned recently on the board. I've been up in Sonoma / Napa lately and has been a matter of opportunity rather than plan ... driving by at the riight time when I'm free. I have been reading up on lots of these places though so I don't walk in blind and miss something. The American Canyon thing just amused me ... who would think there was something there. Since it was on my way home and open ... well ... why not.

        2. re: maria lorraine

          I have to agree. I bought a half case of the 2005 Cartlidge and Brown Pinot on K&L Wines' and Parker's recommendations and it is by far the worst Pinot in my collection. Oxidized fig paste, bitter cherries and some licorice. And it gets worse with breathing time--I had to toss it on the second day, and I can put up with most anything. On the more positive side, it would probably be okay with a hardy, tomato-based beef stew if served fresh from the bottle.