Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tonight we're drinking...

Topel's 2008 White Table Wine, Birdsong. It's a blend, 50% Viognier (my fave!), 35% Sauvignon Blanc, and 15% Chardonnay. I tried this at the tasting room last month and had to buy some! I visited the tasting room with some friends after being "friended" on Face.book by Donnis Topel, one of the proprietors. Donnis was very welcoming to me and my group of friends. We took up the whole bar! Good wines and tasty snacks made for an excellent last stop of the day. I enjoyed ALL the wines at Topel. Really. Everything was good. I ended up getting the Birdsong because it's a good white blend for summertime. Also, I enjoyed the Cherokee princess story behind the name of the wine since I have a Cherokee grandmother (well, great-great-grandmother!) as well. Good stuff! I'm sad to see this bottle empty. I need more!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tonight we're drinking...

In May, we had the opportunity to meet Mike Kuimelis, winemaker/proprietor of Mantra Wines in Dry Creek Valley. He invited us to taste and tour where he makes his wine (the facilities at Mauritson winery) and then have lunch in his vineyards. Such a treat!

Here's Mike getting us a barrel taste of the 2007 Syrah:

We also got to barrel taste the 2008 vintage. It was interesting to smell and taste the smoky qualities of the 2008 vintage due to all the fires during that summer. I wondered if all the lingering smoke would have any effect on the grapes, and apparently in some cases it really did! It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, either. A lot of that smoke will be gone by the time it's bottled, but whatever lingers will probably make it an ideal wine for barbecue food!
Here is a view from where we had lunch:
Not too shabby, right? It was a nice afternoon of cheese, crackers, prosciutto, olives, chocolate, and of course, excellent wine!

We brought home a couple of bottles of the 2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon pictured above and decided to open one tonight to have with our barbecue steaks. It was a really good pairing. This wine has a rich, deep color to it. Good legs... clings to the glass. Lots of fruit on the nose... dark cherry, black currant (hey... I pick these things up now that P has stocked the house with all sorts of fruit jams to "develop our palates!"). It's a little tight on the tongue, but without big tannins. Bottle aging will soften that, so we're going to keep the other bottle laying down for at least several years. It was still really good, especially after decanting for awhile. It really opened up and was fruitier smelling and tasting. I can't wait to see how it will have changed when we finally open the next one.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tonight we're drinking...

Justin 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a bottle we bought when we lived in Santa Barbara. This was one of P's first true wine loves! He's been rummaging through our growing collection of wine and pulling out things that are aging and probably need to be opened soon. This is one he decided to drink. It has aged nicely! On the nose I sensed a lot of fruit and chocolate. P said he got more tobacco. We both tasted some tobacco, big tannins (after 10 years, which is AWESOME), and dark fruits. So much good fruit. It's soooo smooth! It tasted really good accompanying pasta in a sausage and tomato sauce. It would have been really good with steak, though! Maybe we'll have to plan to have steak with the 2003 vintage we still have in the cellar (a.k.a. the guest room closet). Ah, Justin... the Justers enjoy your wine!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

1st Annual Food and Wine Affaire

On Saturday June 20th, we were lucky enough to be invited to help out at the 1st Annual Food and Wine Affair at Blackhawk Country Club. Our friend Kathryn, who was pouring for Carneros della Notte, asked us to help her pour for awhile in exchange for P and I to be able to experience all the wines being offered. What a wonderful representation of wines! There was a 25-page list of the many distributors and wineries which were represented. I commend any person who made it through the whole list! We tried, but even after filling up on some wonderful food (Blackhawk Country Club has truly fabulous catering!) and bravely navigating the crowds, it became increasingly difficult to hit every vendor, let alone every bottle! Things we did try and enjoyed most included,

The Carneros della Notte choices:
Los Carneros D-III Vineyard, Pinot Noir 2006
Los Carneros Pinot Noir 2005
Los Carneros Eclipse, Late Harvest Pinot Noir 2006
Los Carneros Solstice, Late Harvest Reisling 2006

Los Carneros Cabernet, Oak Park 2005

Our favorite here was the Eclipse. You don't see too many late harvest Pinot Noirs, and this was a delightful change of pace with dessert wines. It has a nice rose color to it and is not overly sweet. It might serve as a nice aperitif rather than a dessert wine. There is a lot of honey and fruit on the nose. Also some hints of honeysuckle. On the palate, it's fruit-forward, a lot of plum and other dark fruits. It's very silky and leaves a warming finish.

Grgich Hills Cellar:
Grgich Hills Chardonnay, Napa 2006 - I really enjoyed this one. P skipped it because we tend not to be fans of Chardonnay, but Grgich's was nice. Not overly oaked or buttery. It was crisp and smooth, with many citrus notes, more like Sauvignon Blanc. We found out this is because it was not allowed malolactic fermentation (which causes the buttery, creamy qualities). This is exactly what I look for in a Chardonnay!

P tried the Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa 2005 and the Zinfandel, Napa 2005. He says that both are very good. He says pretty much everything Grgich does is good!

One that P was dying to try was Sanctuary Pinot Noir, Bien Nacido Vineyard, 2006. He said that anything from that region is awesome! This wine did not disappoint. It was deep, deep red in color. Hints of chocolate and lots of fruit, like raspberries and blueberries. It was smooth in the mouthfeel. Dry, but still really fruit-forward while also being a little spicy. This was a tasting we savored and did not toss excess in the dump bucket! Big thanks to Young's Estates Group for having that selection available that night!

Another Young's Market feature was Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006. This is a really good wine, especially for the price! Word has it, it can be found for $9.99 at Costco. ;o) I've seen it with ratings over 90 points. It's ruby in color, strong scents of dark cherry. Initially soft on the palate, but deepens. Very smooth.

Next to Kathryn's spot was Damian Rae Winery represented by John Tarabini. They had a 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, a 2007 Pinot Noir from the Santa Rita region, and a 2006 Syrah from Santa Barbara. Such wonderful boutique wines! They were all really fruit-forward. The Sauvignon Blanc was really crisp and refreshing. The Pinot was complex, hints of dark cherry and spice. This would hold up very nicely with meats of all kinds. The Syrah was very deep in color, aroma, and flavor... lots of plum, and black cherry. Made me remember why I like Syrah!

A favorite from the American Wine & Spirits offerings was Turnbull "Black Label" Red Meritage, 2005. This was a big, rich wine like P likes. Very deep & vibrant in its fruit flavors. Lot of black cherry and wild berry fruits. Tannic, but not too much. I think I saw P drool a little over this wine.

Speaking of drooling, we both drooled A LOT over all the fabulous wines and all of the food. This really was a classy event that we were delighted to be able to experience! It almost needed to be week-long event so one could actually get through everything! Thanks to Kathryn for needing our help that night, and thanks to Joie Spinelli of Blackhawk Country Club for allowing us to participate. This is sure to be a fabulous annual event!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fairfield Wineries

So... I've been neglecting this blog and decided to start writing here again. I have lots of fun trips and good wine to recount, so I need to get in the habit of updating more often!

We had a really nice trip to some Suisun Valley wineries last week. We didn't even know there were wineries in that area! We found out from a brochure we picked up at the Jelly Belly Factory a few weeks ago (Jelly Belly is another fun place to see - totally worth a visit!). We were excited to find another wine region so close to home, so P made some arrangements for us to go explore the area. We started the day at Vezer Family Vineyard, where we met with Frank Vezer and learned a lot about his wines as we tasted. His passion for what he does was quite evident as he spoke. I always love hearing about wine from winemakers and vineyard/winery owners.

I learned of a varietal I'd never heard of before - Verdelho. It's a white wine with Portuguese origins. It reminded me a lot of the Viognier I love so much, only a touch sweeter. It's very, very fruity and lightly oaked. There is a definite honeysuckle essence in this wine as well. Vezer's Verdelho will definitely be on my list of favorite whites! I'm always excited to find a white wine that I really enjoy.

I really liked everything we tried here, but another stand out wine for me was their La Salette - a blend of Petite Sirah and Zinfandel . Both the 2005 vintage and 2006 Estate vintage are delicious, elegant wines. Pricier than we normally buy, but definitely worth it. Either vintage would make an excellent choice for a special occasion - a very impressive wine that I think even people who shy away from red wines would enjoy.

The gardens around the tasting room are a lovely place to spend some time. During the summer they have a deli open next to the tasting room where you can grab something to eat and enjoy their outdoor space. We will visiting again over the next few months to spend more time here!

There is also a beautiful barrel room/cottage. The barrel room is on the first level, with guest accommodations on the second level. A very charming place!

Next we visited another Vezer property and tasting room just up the road - the Blue Victorian.

This is another charming tasting room with more tasty wines! Here we got to meet winemaker Gary Galleron. This guy really knows what he's doing! Not that I'm some super wine expert, but I didn't taste anything that I didn't really enjoy. In fact, I was getting a bit too tipsy because my breakfast had worn off, and I feel horrible pouring such good stuff into dump buckets! We were able to do some barrel tasting of blends they'd made for an event the weekend prior. It was fun to taste the difference between what was in the barrels and what we'd tasted from bottles in the tasting room. The evolution of wine is interesting and I always like to see how it changes from barrel to bottle.

Next we headed to Ledgewood Creek. They have a nice tasting room/gift shop here. I enjoyed wandering around admiring all the wine-themed goodies, along with other gourmet treats. We ended up leaving here with a bottle of Viognier (I'm a sucker for Viognier!) and a jar of cherry brandy sauce (devine on vanilla ice cream! Can't wait to have it on some cheesecake...).

Our last winery visit of the day was to Wooden Valley. They also had goodies for me to wander around and admire. One of my favorites here was the 2004 Zinfandel Port. I love me a good Zin Port! However, since warmer months are coming, we were on a mission for more white wines that we can enjoy over the summer. We purchased a bottle of 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, just released early February. We liked the tartness of this wine... crisp and refreshing - it will be fabulous on a hot summer day!

That concluded our wine tasting day in the Suisun Valley. I'll leave you with a picture of a vineyard view...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Finally getting a wine fridge!

Would you believe that even though we've become complete winos, we have yet to obtain a wine fridge? We've been seriously considering getting one because we have a lot of nice bottles that should be kept temperature controlled. The guest room closet just doesn't cut it, and especially won't cut it when the weather gets warmer. The problem has been that we just don't have the cash flow to get a really nice one, so we thought we'd get a smaller one to hold us over until we can upgrade. Unfortunately, even the small ones can be pretty pricey. We didn't want to spend $100+ for one that only holds a few bottles because we really need more than that. We felt like we could just put that money toward saving for one that we really want.

This afternoon I got a text message from P saying that one of his loyal Bordeaux customers visited him to let him know he's moving. Just to Sacramento, so not far, but he's getting rid of some stuff and offered P a wine fridge! I don't know too many details about it, but I don't complain about FREE wine stuff! Gosh... his job totally sucks, doesn't it?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bottle of Wine Glass

I saw an ad when I was reading FAIL Blog (totally worth checking out if you need a good laugh!) and I think I need to get this:

Then it would much easier to stick to "just one glass" of wine, don't you agree?

Here's the link:

Bottle of Wine Glass

So awesome. I totally need this, even as just a gag.