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It's House Time! We need Champagne!

April 30, 2007
In 2 hours we close on our house and sign our lives away to our mortgage. Regardless of that fact, we are very excited! We had the final walk-through yesterday and everything was as it should be. The keys will be ours at 3pm!

I know the first part of this has nothing to do with wine, but I wanted to share. The second part is asking you to recommend a Champagne for us to buy to celebrate! I don't know much about Champagne, having stuck to mostly California Sparkling wine, but we really want to get a nice bottle of actual Champagne to celebrate becoming homeowners. I'm willing to spend up to about $100 to get a really tasty bottle, so what would you suggest? Any and all recommendations are welcome!

I apologize for my slow posting and slow response to comments, but I did think, and was correct in that thought, that things would slow down a bit here as we got to closing and moving. We take the first of many loads of our stuff over after the closing this afternoon!

A Lovely Personal Touch

April 29, 2007
On this visit to the Vintage Towers, waiting for us in our room was this bottle of wine with a nice note welcoming us back to the Inn. I appreciate small things like this immensely and thought it was a great touch, and not something that was offered on our last visit. The wine was a 2004 Sonoma County Chardonnay, bottled by Windsor Vineyards of Geyserville and Kenwood. It also had a label depicting the outside of the Vintage Towers.

14.2% alcohol, with a real cork closure, the wine was closer to the buttery oaky Chardonnay style than I would normally like at first, but on letting it sit a bit, most of that disappeared, though it is barrel fermented.

On the nose it was oaky, with vanilla and slight citrus. In the mouth I found lemons and oak, with good acidity that cut through the bit of buttery flavor, allowing the fruit to show through. I would describe it overall as creamy with a big mouthfeel. Perfectly quaffable as a nice touch to put in a room and I appreciated the gesture.

Cat House Cabernet

April 28, 2007
As I mentioned before, we happened to be sitting at the wine blending table with two men who own a vineyard. They are the only custom crush client of Nelson Family Vineyards at the moment and they are currently awaiting the bottling of their second custom crush, a 2006. They were kind enough to break out a bottle of their 2005 Trixie's Cat House Cabernet, and while I'm not usually one for cutesy labels, I must admit, the play on words in this one makes me chuckle. The grapes are sourced from their vineyards, the vineyards at Miralago and are completely Cabernet Sauvignon.

In the glass the wine was a dark garnet color. Now, I know I don't normally note color, but I do when it stands out, and this one struck me as a really pretty color. On the nose there were raisins with a little toasty oak and dark dried chaerries. Later, as the glass sat out, I could get hints of strawberries and bitter chocolate.

In the mouth it was fruity and smooth with raisins and red currents. The wine had an excellent balance to it, with tannins that seemed to suggest to me it could age for a while. I certainly enjoyed my glass (or two) as it aired over the course of an hour. This was the first custom crush wine I have had and I wish I could get a bottle or two, as I really liked it!

A Rose by Any Other Name

April 26, 2007
I almost missed the boat on this wine event, the Catavino Virtual Rose tasting, which Dr.Debs told me to write up the Preston Vin Gris I was twittering about the other night for. However, I had already reviewed that one and didn't take any notes. But the weather is inspiring me to dig into my lighter wines, so another rose tonight. This one just arrived in a club shipment last week and only managed to make it into my Cellartracker on Sunday.

The wine is a 2006 Quivira Grenache Rose. It had a real cork closure and clocks in at 14.1% alcohol by volume, a lot stronger than I am used to in a Rose. Unfortunately, I can't find a price for it anywhere and my packing slip is gone, but judging by the amount billed to my credit card and the cost of the other wines in the shipment, my educated guess is that it is no more than $16.

I served this with a beef stroganoff over wheat egg noodles. I think it would have paired better with the pasta and fresh tomato sauce I served the other night and the Syrah I drank with that would have been even better with this meal (that review will be up soon!).

The first notable thing about this Rose is the color. It's very unusual, though I'm not sure my photo does it much justice. It's almost an orangey-salmon color, and very lightly colored, you can see right through it when it's in the glass.

On the nose there are crisp strawberries and the slightest hint of watermelon. Also, a spicy note that I can't quite place. The alcohol is there a bit too, it's not offensive and blows off quickly, but to me it was odd for that to be there on a Rose. In the mouth, this a tart and incredibly dry wine. Quite possibly the driest Rose I have ever had. The mouth is full of strawberries, but the strawberries are heavy. If the makes any sense at all. Overall, I liked this Rose, though I've had others made from different grapes that I've enjoyed more, most notably a Merlot based Rose from Wilson Winery.

Now, I probably have 3 or 4 other roses hanging around in my collection at the moment, all of which I've reviewed already. I don't have any from locations other than California, so I hope to get to the wine shop before April 30 so I can do a full comparison. Thanks for hosting this Catavino!

A Gift from Farley

April 25, 2007
You know that we met Farley of Wine Outlook on trip to California. What you might not know is that she was absolutely darling and brought Matt and I wine as a house-warming present on account of our new home. In addition to the two bottles she brought that we took home with us, she also had this bottle of Thomas Fogarty 2002 Lexington Meritage that she had opened in the tasting room earlier that day. Hardy any was gone from the bottle and she brought the rest of it for Matt and I to enjoy that evening. And, we even got our very own Thomas Fogarty glasses to drink it out of. I don't think I can thank Farley enough for her very thoughful and delicious gifts!

You should go get some. This was an absolutely delicious blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, clocking in at 14.5% alcohol by volume with a real cork closure. The nose on the wine was incredibly complex. Layers of currants, blackberries, plums, a toasty note with cedar, spices also coming though. In the mouth this wine was tart and juicy, with raspberries, currants and blackberries.

Overall this wine was smooth and drinking incredibly well right now. Though, admittedly, that could have been due to the fact that it was open for at least 4 hours before we drank it since it had to travel an hour or more with Farley to the restaurant, then it sat for over two hours while we ate and chatted and then had to travel an hour back to our inn! I pictured serving it with the bacon-wrapped cornish hens I made earlier this year.

Thanks again Farley for sharing this incredibly tasty wine with us!

Meet Up Virginia: Piola Again

The Virginia Wine Club Meet-Up is having a gathering again at Piola in Rosslyn. April 30, from 5:30 pm on. Last time we all stayed for dinner and made a night out of it.

Matt and I are closing on our house that day, or else we'd be there for sure. I loved the last happy hour we had and it was great to see many new wine club members. Happy Hour runs from 4 pm through 7 pm and includes a variety of great (free!) appetizers. Last time we got pasta salad, pizza, various bruschettas, cheeses, crackers....lots of stuff and it was all tasty. You could pretty much make a meal on all the appetizers the restaurant provides. Also, their house red is pretty tasty and is half price by the glass during Happy Hour.

If you haven't gone to a VA Wine Club event, I urge you to check it out. For the events I have attended, there's been a great turn-out and each time it seems that more people come!

We'll attempt to make it, but I can't make any promises. I have no idea how long a house closing takes to be honest and I fear I am going to be running around like a chicken with its head cut off that day. (Who knew that you don't find out the exact amount of your closing costs until the morning of your closing?? What a pain, it means I have to dash to the bank to get a certified check right before the closing.)

Revisiting Trentadue

April 24, 2007
We first happened upon Trentadue last summer. And I quite literally mean happened upon. Besides the idea that we wanted to go to the Bodega Bay Wine and Seafood Festival at least one day, we had no plans on our first trip to Sonoma. That would mainly be a result of the fact that in a few short months (May 2006-August 2006) I graduated from law school, studied for and took the bar, moved to the DC area and got married. All I wanted to do on our honeymoon was relax and have as little in the way of structure as possible. When we arrived in CA, we basically grabbed a map of the Russian River/Dry Creek/Alexander Valley area, listened to our innkeeper and headed out on our merry way. And one of those tops was Trentadue, where Matt fell in love with the Chocolate Amore Port. While eating a delicious breakfast of Dutch pancakes and fresh berries on this trip, our innkeeper was chatting with us and asking where we planned to go. I had a list this time, and one appointment to make, but all the places I wanted to get to didn't open until 11. The innkeeper suggested Trentadue, and got Matt thinking that he wanted more Chocolate Port. So off we went.

Trentadue's tasting room reminds of a Spanish villa from the outside, with the yellow stucco walls and the burnt red roof. The gardens were looking gorgeous with plenty of new flowers blooming and if it were a little later in the day I would have wanted to stop there and picnic at some of the tables. Inside is a decent sized tasting bar with a very friendly tasting room attendant who was modeling the newest in Trentadue merchandise. Upstairs is an art gallery and in the tasting room are many different special bottlings, Magnums, wine gifts sets, posters, etc.

Our server chatted away with us about houses and trying to buy a house and moving and all such things as she poured 6 regular offerings and 3 Port offerings off a special menu. Additionally, they offer a reserve menu, but the above was quite enough for us. The 6 regular offerings were all great values, with only one bottle breaching the $20 mark, and several under the $15 mark. Following is a run-down of what we tasted:

2005 Sauvignon Blanc- $14. Pear aromas with pear and citrus in the mouth. Light and crisp, perfect for summer and for the beautiful weather that day. We bought 2 bottles.

NV Grand Cuvee California Champagne- $12. A very light sparkler with the scent and flavor of green apples, good structure and lots of tiny bubbles. We brought home 3 bottles.

2004 Petite Sirah-$18. Blueberry cobbler and blackberries on the nose, and intense aroma. In the mouth it was lighter than I expected and I thought it needed to age.

2004 Sangiovese-$18. Raspberries and spice on the nose, currants and cherries in the mouth. Drinking well now, but could age longer.

2004 Old Patch Red-$14. Spicy, oaky and dark berries on the nose. Raspberries, dark fruit and spicy inthe mouth, I liked this blend a lot. We took home 1 bottle.

2004 Cabernet Sauvignon-$22. Vanilla and blackberries on the nose, blackberries and currants in the mouth. I liked this one too.

Special port tasting:
2005 Viognier Port- 375mL $25. Peach, pear and spice on the nose, citrus and orange in the mouth. A little sweet for me, but Matt liked it.

2004 Petite Sirah Port-500mL $25. Blackberries, dark spicy and smooth in the mouth. I loved this one and picked up a bottle for my dad as he loves port. A small thank you for the help he's giving us fixing up our house.

NV Chocolate Amore-375mL $25. A perennial favorite in our house. Chocolate and raspberries on the nose, more of the same in the mouth. This wine is infused with chocolate. A lot of fun and great for something different. We bought 2 bottles.

What's in a Name?

I haven't seen a lot of writing about this particular win some free wine contest, so I thought I'd bring it to the attention of anyone who might be interested.

Wine Weekly posted an article last week about a winery in Washington State that is running a contest to name their winery. The Winery is slated to open in 2008 and will be a part of the Woodinville Wine Village. According to a Seattle Times article, the wine village will be home to four wineries, shops, restaurants, hotels, condos, etc.

The idea behind the contest is that you submit your entry through the website of the Washington Wine Company, and if your name is chosen you win 2 cases of their wine every year for a decade. From what Wine Weekly says, you have until May 30 to submit your ideas for a name.

Other details seem to be scant, though it appears they make 3 red wines and currently have a few (virtual?) pictures of what the tasting room will look like when completed. Free wine seems like a good idea to me, and I always think it's interesting to see how wineries create buzz about themselves among consumers, so I pass this along to all you creative geniuses out there in case you have a brilliant idea!

Winemaker, Winemaker Make Me a Wine!

April 23, 2007

While out in the Sonoma area we had the chance to play winemaker for a day at Nelson Family Vineyards. We are members of the Nelson Wine Club and several months ago, winemaker Chris Nelson had told me that this event was coming up. I knew we were planning to head to CA to visit my in-laws this spring, but wasn't sure of the dates yet, so I tucked the information into the back of my head. Fast forward, and we start thinking more about going to visit the in-laws. I mention the event to Matt, as we had now received the official date and information and after a little haggling, convinced him we could combine the in-law visit with a trip up to Northern CA. And thus we arrived on Saturday at Nelson to make our own wine blend and enter in their Barn Blend competition, the idea being that they will then bottle the blend and sell it.

We were the first to arrive as I am not all that familiar with the area and wasn't sure how long it would take us to get to Nelson, which is in Ukiah. Shortly after getting there, a dog bounded up to greet us and soon some of the Nelson family appeared, bearing wine and appetizers. While waiting for the event to begin, we were able to sample many of the current Nelson releases and chat with other club members. We discovered that we came from the furthest distance of anyone to be there this year. Standing outside the barn I tasted the 2006 Viognier, which in my quick notes is described as having pear, lemon and orange zest flavors, light and would make a nice apertif wine. I also tried the 2006 Orange Muscat, the 2005 was one of my favorites from Nelson last year, and as always, I found it to be very aromatic with honey and orange blossoms, but good structure to hold the sweet flavors in check.

On moving into the barn, we had lunch, which consisted of 6 or 7 different kinds of sausage, salad, curried rice...lots of good food. Mr. Nelson, father of Chris the winemaker, joined us at our table and I pestered him with a few questions about the vineyard. He told me that his father had moved the family to the farm in 1951. They have been growing grapes for 56 years, but only started selling their own wine in 2003.
After lunch, we got to play winemaker! The Nelsons had set out 4 small barrels of wine for us to draw from, a Zinfandel, a Merlot and 2 Cabernets. You were paired with your table to create a blend, the rules being that it had to have at least 3 of the varietals in it. My favorites from the barrels were the Zinfandel and the Merlot. I didn't much take to the Cabernet 2, it had a sour barnyard note that just didn't appeal to me. Our group made 5 or 6 different blends before settling on what we thought was a sure winner: 60% Zinfandel, 20% Cabernet and 20% Merlot. My notes on our blend say that I really liked the nose, it was fruit forward with berries and violets.

Sadly, we did not win. The blends that were the final contenders were very Cabernet heavy, and looking back, I guess the fact that there were 2 barrels of Cabernet out should have clued me into the fact that they were looking for a Cabernet heavy blend. Oh well, we had a lot of fun trying and talking with our tablemates. One of the sets of people we were sitting with turned out to be the only custom crush client of the winery and they opened a bottle of their wine, Trixie's Cat House Cabernet, for us to try. Look for a post on that soon! Not to mention the man on the left was an alum of the college both Matt and I attended!

We were also given vanilla ice cream for dessert with their Ice Wine-style dessert wine poured all over it. I was full and only had a few bites, but Matt gladly ate my portion! We spent a few more minutes walking around the vineyards attempting to get a close-up of the interesting Guinea Fowl that inhabit the winery, but alas, they were camera-shy (or maybe it was the fact that Matt kept chasing them....). All in all a really fun event and I'm glad we attended.

Drinking the Four Vines Maverick Zinfandel

April 22, 2007
I picked this bottle up from Goudas and Vines in Montrose, California. I recognized it from the series that Dr. Debs over at Good Wine Under $20 has going on, her profiles of wineries from the Family Winemakers tasting she attended.

The bottle is 2004 Four Vines Maverick Zinfandel from Amador County. It cost $19.95, had a real cork closure and was 14.9% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I found cloves, black pepper, dark fruit and blackberries. In the mouth there were currants, black berries, black cherries and a black pepper kick. Overall, I would describe the flavor as juicy blackberries with a black pepper bite.

I served this with steaks topped with currant jelly zinfandel sauce over a bed of 3 cheese risotto. I offered to cook one of the evening we were out visiting the in-laws and Matt seems to think the steak/risotto dish is my specialty, if I don't have a pizza stone to make pizza with. It was a nice match to the steaks, which I had rubbed with black pepper and salt before grilling them, so that probably contributed to bringing out the pepper note in the wine. As always, I like making the sauce out of whatever wine we will be drinking as the flavors complement each other nicely. Definitely a steak or bbq wine in my opinion!

More Wine Shopping in the Pasadena Area

April 21, 2007
Maybe you thought those three bottles I bought at Chronicle would be enough for our 5 days in the Pasadena area? Clearly you don't read this blog enough! :)

Plus, my mother in-law had gone to this new wine shop in Montrose that she thought I would enjoy and we were headed to Rocky Cola Cafe in Montrose anyway....with Goudas and Vines just down the street I couldn't resist. Sorry, no websites for either place...for some odd reason they don't appear to have web presence, Goudas and Vines is not even listed in the Yahoo Yellow Pages.

Take what I told you about Chronicle Wine Cellar, do a 180 and you'll find what Goudas and Vines is. Polar opposites in the world of wine shops, yet I enjoyed my trips to both of them. Goudas, as the name implies, sells more than just wine. This is a full service shop, with wine, cheeses, food, olive oils, glassware, etc.

The shop is incredibly spacious and quite modern looking inside, including a tasting bar where you can buy pours of different sizes of various wines. The bar runs almost the entire length of the back of the store. Wines line both of the sides of the store, as well as several racks in the middle. You can eat the food you buy, plus drink your wine at small tables either inside or on the sidewalk. The wines are each laid out on their own bit of the rack and on the sides go from floor to ceiling.

I found the selection to be excellent, though it lacked the fun of moving one bottle out of the way to discover something else hiding behind it. And there would be no endless exploring in this kind of a store. Everything was well lit and labeled and easy to find. I recognized many of the wines (though I never see them in my stores), including a bottle of Verdehlo from Twisted Oak (mine was on its way from WineQ already though, and at a better price!). I also recognized the CT wine, Ballet of Angels from Sharpe Hill that Dr. Debs reviewed recently(Matt promptly declared the label "creepy"). Again I limited myself and only took home two bottles: a $21.95 2004 Four Vines Zinfandel from Amador County, another one I recognized from Dr.Debs (are you getting the feeling I read her blog a lot?) and a $9.95 2005 Rabbit Run Sauvignon Blanc from the Central Coast.

Overall, I was very pleased with my wine shopping experiences in the Pasadena area. I'll be certain to stop by both places again, as both offered a unique shopping experience. And better values than I can find here in VA shops (seriously folks, beef up those under $15 offerings!).

Wine in Water Glasses

April 20, 2007
My inlaws just moved back into their home after completely demolishing their old house nearly two years ago and as a result have yet to find many of their possessions, including wine glasses. They don't really drink, so my mother in-law was unsure if she even had wine glasses, but I know Matt and I have had a bottle of wine or two while visiting over the years and actually used wine glasses, so I'm sure they'll turn up eventually.

One of the consequences of them tearing their house down was that all of Matt's stuff (and his brother's for that matter, some of which was mixed in with Matt's, and I was delighted to discover at least a box or two that got to be put in his room instead of being destined to come home with us) was boxed up two years ago and put in storage. Our task while visiting was to go through 25 boxes, 1 wardrobe, 2 giant metal trunks and a suitcase worth of stuff. It was dusty and dirty and exhausting to convince Matt that we do not need all of his "treasures" from childhood. Comic book cards, really? That hobby was certainly not disclosed to me before we got married! In any event, all that unpacking left me looking for a refreshing bottle of wine, and I found it in one of the selections from Chronicle Wine Cellar.

The bottle was a 2006 Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. For only $7.95 I could not believe the wine that came out of this bottle. It clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume and was absolutely perfect and refreshing after a day of moving and sorting boxes.

I could smell the citrus jumping out of this bottle before I even poured it, and it made me want to get it in the glass as fast as possible. The nose was highly aromatic with lemons, tropical fruit and a steely note. In the mouth, pears, lemons and melons all competed for attention. Racing acidity and crisp fruit would be the best ways to describe the wine. It was light and great and I would buy it again in an instant. This is the best deal I've found in a while in terms of quality/price ratio and the style of the sauvignon blanc was right up my alley.

Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Yum yum yum.

Wine Shopping in the Pasadena Area

April 19, 2007
Prior to heading to Sonoma, Matt and I spent 5 days in the Pasadena area where my in-laws live. We were there for Easter, to visit generally, and to sort through 20-plus years of Matt's accumulated possessions. His parents tore down his childhood home and built a new home on the footprint and in the process packed up his things and put them in storage for nearly 2 years. Now that we are going to be the owners of our own home in less than 2 weeks, we have a place for his stuff and thus the task of deciding what was worth shipping all the way to VA. Pounds of dust, carrying heavy boxes and making repeated trips to the dumpster (seriously Matt, you still had notebooks and exams from high school in there!) left us thirsty and in serious need of some wine refreshment. With that in mind, we struck out to find Chronicle Wine Cellar on the recommendation of Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20.

Getting there was half the adventure. The sign in the alley hangs from a metal railing and is about the size of a piece of computer paper. It sits down in the back of the alley which appears to simply be a parking lot, making the street numbers seem to completely skip the one you are looking for. But if you find it, you are in for a treat. The tiny shop is packed chock-full of wine, from floor to ceiling and everywhere in-between that a wine bottle can be wedged. My toughest job was to limit myself to only a few choices (why VA, why, can you not have a shop with dozens of choices under the $15 mark that are actually worth drinking, lip service with only 10 bottles in that range does not count!).

In any event, I managed to come out alive with only 3 bottles in hand. Be forewarned, this is a cash or check only kind of place. My purchases were a $7.95 2006 Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, a $19.95 1998 Kunde Shaw Vineyards Zinfandel and a $6.95 2004 Barricas Tempranillo from Argentine. Overall, the shop reminded me of my favorite kind of bookstore, one that has little rhyme or reason as to why something is placed where it is, where a glance to a shelf in the top corner reveals yet another treasure and where you feel like you could just wander around for hours looking at things and still not see a quarter of what is there, no matter how small the shop. When we find ourselves in the area again, I will most certainly return and I recommend that you too follow Dr.Deb's advice and check it out if you get the opportunity!

Tasting with Ken of Ala Wine

April 18, 2007
As I've mentioned at least a few times now, Matt and I did some excellent wine tasting with Ken of Ala Wine and his wife while we were in the Sonoma area (which I probably should have been more clear about as I think many people, including Ken, thought we were actually in Sonoma, rather we were staying just outside of Healdsburg). While visiting the in-laws I received an email from Ken inquiring about our schedule and asking if we would like to do some tasting with him and his wife Cori (sorry if I didn't get the spelling on that right!). I quickly said we would be delighted and thus we headed to their home on Thursday. Sadly, I underestimated the traffic and we were a touch late, but we eventually made it! You can head on over to Ken's blog to read full details of all the wines we tasted, I'll just give you some brief tasting notes here.

But first, Ken and Cori are wonderful people and we had the best time with them (and their really active cat, seriously, I don't think I've ever seen a cat move that fast!). Their home is lovely and it was so incredibly kind of them to have us over. This was Matt's first experience in actually talking about wines and writing notes while he tasted, he usually leaves it up to me and will occassionally offer an opinion if I prod him enough, but he enjoyed it and is already talking about getting tasting sheets and hosting a tasting at our house. After we finished tasting Cori suggested we all go grab dinner and we went to a great Italian place where I just had to get fettucini alfredo as we had been talking about how a cream based sauce would be great with one of the wines we tasted and the craving stuck in my head. We got to taste some great wines and meet some interesting new people, all in all a fantastic evening in my book! Thanks again for having us!

Onto the notes:

First up, a 2005 Unionville Vineyards Chardonnay, from New Jersey. Now, I know you must be thinking, Huh? New Jersey? But actually this isn't the first wine I've had from New Jersey as I had a friend in law school in that area and she would frequently bring back wines from various vineyards. The Unionville Chardonnay could best be described as having a damp nose with a slight hint of oak and undertones of lemons. In the mouth there were lemons and pears. It had a short finish, but was smooth with a good mouthfeel. The wine was slightly tart and left a clean feeling in the mouth. We discussed having this wine with an herbed chicken or a pasta with cream sauce and decided it would be really food friendly. It doesn't appear on their website, but the last 2 vintages were $19.99 a bottle.

Second on the list was a 2004 Cliff Creek Syrah. The nose of this wine was full of dark fruits, specifically black cherries and blueberries with a touch of maple syrup, as odd as that sounds, but it worked and was a very pleasing nose. The wine clocks in at 14.6% alcohol by volume and I can see from their website runs for $35. In the mouth there were black cherries and the wine was fairly smooth but appeared to have tannins that would allow it to age, and hopefully bring out more of the flavors we found in the nose.

Next up was a 2002 Meola Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. On those nose of this one we found oak, black currants and peppers. In the mouth there was a distinct taste of dried fruits, mostly currants and raisins. We all liked this wine, but thought that it would be even better if we decanted, so Ken did so and we went back to it later. After an hour or so decanting, this wine was much better. It had opened up and the powerful impression of dried fruit was gone, as were the peppers, showing a sweet nose with strawberries and more strawberries in the mouth. I would venture to guess you should age this one and it will be an excellent wine in a few years. Looks like the winery is sold out, but it goes for $50 and has 14% alcohol by volume.

Fourth bottle of the evening found us drinking a 2004 EOS Reserve Petite Sirah from Paso Robles. I love Petite Sirah, so I may be biased, but this was my favorite wine of the evening. The wine does not appear on the website, but the 2003 vintage does, which was also a big award winner and goes for $25 a bottle. If that's the price of the 2004, I say run and get some. On the nose was an enticing aroma of raspberries, plums and pipe tobacco. In the mouth, gobs of raspberries, strawberry jam and a bit of blackberry, plus a note of the tobacco from the nose. The finish was long and very pleasant, overall this was just a lovely wine.

Finally we tried what would be my first ice wine and my first Fingerlakes wine, a 2005 Casa Larga Fiori Delle Stelle Vidal Ice Wine. It appears to cost $25/375 ml and was 11.5% alcohol by volume with 17% residual sugar. I can't find a website for the winery. On the nose there was peach, honey, apricots, with honey, mandarin oranges (yes, like the ones in the can), pear and green apple to be found in the mouth. The wine was tart, not cloying or palate coating at all. It was well balanced with excellent structure. It really was a dessert in and of itself. I may now be spoiled to all other dessert wines but ice wine.

WBW #33 Languedoc-Roussillon Value Wines

Wine Blogging Wednesday #33 had been announced by our host for this month, Marucs over at Doktor Weingolb. All the details can be found in his post here.

Our task is to pick a value wine, in the $15-$30 range only, from the Southern France region of Languedoc-Roussillon.

Our entries are due on May 16 and Marcus has requested that we simply post in the comment section of his announcement where our reviews are located. Easy enough. He is specifically looking for us to evaluate the cost-to-quality ratio of the wine we drink as the premise of this WBW is that the mid-range bottles are are the best values.

So I guess I will break out of my California zone and head on over to France for this WBW! I've already promised Marcus that I WILL play this time, as I had to sit the last WBW out. We'll have closed on the house by the time this month's rolls around, so while things will be crazy I am sure we will be drinking plenty of wine to celebrate! Off to the wine store I go!

Tag! I'm It!

April 17, 2007
I was tagged by Farley of Wine Outlook the other day to participate in my first meme. Farley in turn was tagged by Winehiker, which leads back to this tree showing who tagged whom and where the meme has been. The question at hand is: Why do I blog? From checking around, it appears the popular format is to answer in a list of 5 reasons. Why 5? Color me clueless, but I'll play along!

Why do I blog?

1.) A long time wino: I spent the first part of my 21st birthday celebration(or maybe the second, give me a break, it was my 21st birthday and the night is a bit foggy) with my best college girlfriends, Lindsay, Mer, Sarah(who shares my exact birthday and thus was my only 21-year-old buddy at the time as we were quite a bit older than our classmates) and Sonja, drinking flights of wine at Zins, a wine bar in our sleeply little college town. It was more an indication of our habits at the time than a harbringer of things to come, but it became the official place for our little group to begin our 21st birthday celebrations and served at the time as a great place to try lots of different wines and my first experiences in an "official" tasting setting. From my college beginnings I've only grown to love wine more and the blog is an extension of that love.

2.) A trip to Sonoma: By a set of circumstances mostly beyond my control, Matt and I had to rearrange honeymoon plans that were initially set to take us to Ireland and Scotland. For practical travel reasons we ended up looking to North America for our honeymoon and set our sites on the Northern West Coast: Vancouver, Seattle and Sonoma. I had always wanted to visit wine country and our honeymoon suddenly presented the perfect opportunity. I already loved wine and had by that time instilled a taste for wine in Matt, so off we went. We visited 26 wineries. We talked to many winemakers. We toured barrel rooms and vineyard facilities. I was more and more intrigued by wine, the process of making it and the people behind it. I use the blog to learn more about all those aspects of wine and others.

3.) Abject boredom (we're being honest here, right?): During long periods of crushing boredom at my new job when they first hired me and then cut my entire department within days of me arriving, yet kept me on and simply shuffled me into a corner for a few months, I had very little (read:absolutely nothing) to do. And I discovered wine blogs, Wine Blog Watch and a wealth of wine information on the internet. As I explored these blogs, I realized that I drank just as much, if not more, wine than some of the authors, and I was drinking a lot of wines that I didn't see reviewed anywhere. I may not be terribly computer savvy, but I figured I had something to add to the wine conversation, and thus Wannabe Wino was born.

4.) Continuing education: I keep blogging for several reasons, one of which is that I truly believe wine to be a subject I will never stop learning about. The next new wine region is always popping up, there are new values to be found and varietals to explore. The blog helps me keep track of where I've been with wine and where I'm going. Even in the short 6ish months that I've been keeping Wannabe Wino as a record, I can already see how far I've come in developing a palate and in my general knowledge about wine.

5.) Wine bloggers and wine blog readers rock: I still marvel at the fact that anyone reads what I write. Really, I do. And that so many people leave comments on things and indulge my seemingly never-ending stream of questions about how you drink wine, what I should drink with a certain dinner, where I should go in Sonoma, etc. Plus, everyone I've interacted with is so willing to share their knowledge or their time (we so wished we could have connected with Russ for a hike!) or even their wine. Just on this recent Sonoma trip, I had dinner with Farley who was so friendly and even brought us wine and Ken and his wife opened their home to Matt and I and had us over for a delightful evening of wine tasting. Not to mention the many recommendations I've gotten for wines that turn out to be great, recipes that are fabulous (have you checked David or Leah's blogs for recipes lately??) fun contests to enter, such as El Jefe's, vineyards to visit (thanks Tim, John and others!) or even wine shops to visit when I leave my own area (thanks Dr.Debs!). So I keep writing because people read, I've met some great folks, hope to meet many more in the future and I simply enjoy the culture that exists among this population.

Okay, that turned out longer than I anticipated. But now I get to tag people to tell us why they blog.

David of Cooking Chat
Sarah of August and Everything After (Best wishes to her too, as my newest engaged friend!)
Rob of 365 Corks
Huevos Con Vino
Joe of Joe's Wine

Tag! You're it!

Meeting Farley

April 16, 2007
Now, I know all of you who haven't yet had the absolute pleasure of meeting Farley of Wine Outlook will be jealous, but Matt and I got to have dinner with her during our Sonoma area trip. At first it was a little hard to pin down a place...Farley's not too familiar with the area that was half-way between our Inn and her winery and clearly I was lost as anything trying to find something. I finally settled on Novato, a little over an hour for each of us and a brewery called Moylans.

I think it turned out to be a decent choice, Matt and I arrived a bit early as the night before we had hit some brutal traffic driving in the same direction, but that gave me some time to flesh out the meager notes I had made during our whirlwind tastings during the day.

We were seated relatively quickly at a nice big table and soon had, gasp!, beers in front of us. Though we did talk blogs and wine quite a bit!

In any case, Farley was just as cute as could be and has the most darling Southern accent. She was also incredibly sweet and easy to talk to. We chatted all evening about wine, her moving to CA, how I manage to read and post on so many blogs every day, how awful Uhaul can be, etc. She even brought Matt and I some housewarming wine, including the famous Fogarty Gewurztraminer she is always raving about! I can't wait to try it in our very own Thomas Fogarty wine glasses! We had a lovely dinner and I was sad when I realized it was after 9 and we should probably wrap it up as we had fairly long drives ahead of us. It was just great to meet one of the people behind a blog I read all the time and I look forward to meeting more of you in the future.

Stay tuned for a post about the lovely evening we spent with Ken of Ala Wine and his wife.

We Didn't Win...

April 15, 2007

but we sure had fun trying! Just one quick picture of me playing mad scientist at the Nelson blending party yesterday. We are on our way back to DC and don't expect to arrive (barring delays, though I hear tales of a Nor 'easter running amok out there....) until after midnight East Coast time. Look for regular updates beginning tomorrow as I gloomily return to work after a lovely time in sunny beautiful California.

Just a quick update!

April 13, 2007
It's been a busy few days here what with traveling and all, but fear not, I have been drinking lots of wine and enjoying the break from work.

I have many great things to tell you about, including a wonderful visit for tasting with Ken of Ala Wine and his lovely wife.

Tonight we are heading to meet Farley of Wine Outlook for dinner. It's been great to actually meet the people behind the blogs!

We've already been to Seghesio and will be heading to several other vineyards today.

Not to mention a stellar $6.95 Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand that I found at Chronicle Wine Cellar in Pasadena, on the recommendation of Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20.

So stay tuned for some great reviews and hopefully beautiful pictures from the vineyards. It's a gorgeous day in the Sonoma area and we are certainly ready to taste after the delicious breakfast here at the Vintage Towers.

Dinner and Good Friends

April 11, 2007
We had some friends over for a dinner at our house recently and of course served my now famous homemade pizzas, bruschetta and chocolate mousse. Not to mention a good bit of wine. I love having people over because it gives me a chance to play hostess and I also get to serve a bottle of dessert wine, not something Matt and I would really drink on our own. A little too sweet for me to enjoy more than a cordial glass or two. And yes, I have little fancy crystal cordial glasses that I only drag out when we have company. Since Matt is our dishwasher for all things hand-wash needed, he prefers if I stick to dishwasher safe items! Such a deal though, I do all the cooking and his job is to wash the few things that can't go in the dishwasher!

We consumed 3 bottles over the course of the evening, beginning with a 2005 Mauritson Sauvignon Blanc. I've reviewed that one before and liked it every bit as much this time as I did the last. I'm much looking forward to the new bottling, which I understand from a club email has just been released.

With the pizzas I served a 2004 Marimar Earthquake Vineyard Pinot Noir. I believe it cost us around $37, is unfiltered, has a real cork closure and is 14.5% alcohol by volume. A few weeks ago I reviewed the 2004 Marimar Stony Block Vineyard Pinot Noir and wasn't terribly impressed. As I told you then, we had tried the Earthquake Pinot Noir in mid-October and I had remembered really enjoying it (though I could have just been delerious with excitement over passing the bar....) but I thought I'd try it again now so I could compare the two bottles.

The Earthquake was significantly better in my opinion. It had none of the thin or astringent flavors that characterized the Stony Block, though the price tag was still a little steep for what I found in the bottle. My first impression of the nose of this wine was that it had a distinctly toasty aroma, followed by raspberries and wood. The nose was pleasant, and perhaps I was too busy chatting with our company to notice more aromas, but I recalled it having an earthy and leathery quality the last time we drank this bottle. In the mouth, the taste was almost all black cherries, with hints of spices showing through as the wine aired. While tasty now, I believe this bottle could benefit from a bit more aging.

Drinking on JetBlue

April 10, 2007
As usual, we flew JetBlue out to Long Beach as it allows us a direct flight here from the DC area. Plus, there's tons (relatively speaking in terms of planes) of leg room which is always great when you have a 6'5" husband who gets cranky all cramped into an airplane seat. Though this time we were oh so fortunate to be on the same flight at a group of approximately 60 giggling, screeching 7th and 8th graders. Boy was that ever fun. Needless to say, I was quite pleased to see that JetBlue is now serving wine on it's flights!

JetBlue has teamed with Best Cellars (who, if you look back a few posts, hosted a very nice tasting we attended recently) to offer a white and a red wine on flights. The wines chosen are both from Three Blind Moose, which, despite it's critter label, actually got a chuckle from me based on the play off the old nursery rhyme. They offer a Chardonnay and a Merlot in 187 mL bottles with screwcaps for only $5. I was very pleased with the value.

I chose the Merlot, which came in at 13.5 % alcohol by volume. The nose was huge and fruity. I almost thought it could have been regular old juice from the aroma. But really, it just smelled like absolutely fresh fruit. Blackberries, blueberries and plums, with hints of chocolate. In the mouth there were raspberries, plums and just a bit of an earthy taste. Overall it was very light-bodied and easy to drink. This was a simple wine, but for $5 on a long plane ride, I was completely surprised to find anything quaffable at all. Go JetBlue!

Hop Kiln 2004 Generations Pinot Noir

April 9, 2007
I am blogging from the in-laws house for a few days, so my posts will be minus pictures as they are all loaded into my laptop and while I have it with me, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to make it work on a non-wireless network, having initially used a wizard to set it up that way. (Remember how long it took me to get features added in the side-bar here? Yeah, so computers are not really my thing!) Anyway, we will be heading to Sonoma soon and I am sure I will have plenty of material to write about from there!

Before we left I created a dinner out of all the things in our fridge that were not going to keep until we got back. That consisted of cherry tomatoes, gorganzola, fresh mozzarella and milk. So I decided to make a sauce with the gorganzola and the milk, cook up some pasta and throw in chopped tomatoes and mozzarella at the end. Worked fairly well. And with it I paired a Hop Kiln 2004 Generations Pinot Noir.

The bottle cost us $36, came in a club shipment and had a real cork closure. Actually, it probably cost less than $36, since that is what it is going for without a club discount, but who knows. Again, Matt tossed the bottle before I wrote down the alcohol content.

On the nose of this wine I found mint, eucalyptus, leather, raspberry and, if this makes any sense, morning forest. It had a very pleasant and aromatic nose and really only needed a minute or so for the alcohol to blow off. In the mouth there were cloves, raspberries, cherries, and almost a medicinal cherry taste. The wine was tannic, but smoothed out well over the course of the evening, however, I think it could definitely benefit from being cellared for a bit longer.

PS-Please excuse my typos for the next few days, I can't find the feature on my mother in-law's computer for spell-check on the internet.

2005 Mauritson Chardonnay

April 8, 2007
You don't have to tell me that this was a terrible match with my dinner of homemade Hawaiian pizza. I knew that before I even served it. But the weather has me craving white wines and roses and my collection of roses is embarrasingly tiny at the moment, so I chose this instead, food and wine pairing be damned.

The wine was a Mauritson 2005 Chardonnay. It is 14.1% alcohol by volume, cost us $18.20 and had a read cork closure. It did not go well with pizza, but both were good in and of themselves (if I can compliment my own pizza skills!).

On the nose I found pears, green apples, and oak (but not overally so, just enough!). In the mouth, there were lots of green apples and eventually a reserved lemon flavor. Overall I would describe the wine as creamy and full-bodied
with a medium-long finish, good structure and acidity. But NOT good with pizza :)

Another Old Friend

April 7, 2007
Apparently this is the week where I revisit wines I tasted in November. Tonight it was a 2005 Felta Creek Summer White (De la Montanya). I first tasted the Summer White over Thanksgiving, but we had company and I didn't exactly write the best notes, really just a general overview with perhaps one specific reference to the flavors. For some reason at the time I felt awkard sitting there writing detailed notes in front of company. Have since gotten over that though and now I explain what I'm doing since many of our friends don't know I write a wine blog and I've certainly gotten confused looks when I whip out a note pad and bury my nose in the wine!

And again, since I tasted this wine quite a while ago I find myself wondering if I'm getting better at picking out flavors and aromas or if it was simply the lack of notes I took last time?

Anywho, the wine had a real cork closure and cost us $15.20 in a wine club shipment. I can't find anything about the alcohol level and the bottle is long gone. I served it with ravioli topped with fresh parmesan and butter. And actually, I think my belief back in November that this would be a good Thanksgiving wine was spot on, as the buttery cheesy flavors in the ravioli were easily cut through by the crisp and acidic structure of this wine.

On the nose I found pineapple, papaya, citrus and an overall sense of tropical fruit. In the mouth I found citrs, green apple, pear and just the slightest tinge of honey. The wine was crisp and light and the tropical fruits made me want to be sitting in a hammock on a beach somwhere with crystal clear water. And sun, lots of sun. Perhaps I'm projecting my desire for better weather as it has once again turned cold and I think I heard a report of a "wintery mix" on the radio. Thankfully we are off to sunny shiny CA for a week and a bit, so I will miss some of the delightful ups and downs of Spring on the East Coast.

Meetup VA at Piola

April 6, 2007
Both of our fearless leaders, Allan of Cellarblog and Leah of DcGastronome, were in attendance at the wine club happy hour! It was great to see Leah again and to meet Allan for the first. And I must say, Leah picked a fabulous place for the event.

Piola is in Rosslyn and specializes in thin crust pizzas of every possible variety. They also have an awesome happy hour where wines by the glass are half price and appetizers are free and plentiful.

I arrived just after 5:30 and already there were at least 6 wine club members in attendance. Over the course of the evening we had about 20 members attend, including several new people. It's always great to et the chance to meet more wine lovers! I started out with a glass of the house white, which is literally, the house's. Piola offers both a white and a red house wine, produced and blended in Italy with their name. The white Blanco Piola was light and fruity with notes of lemon and spice. On first taste I thought it had Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc in it. It had those and Garganego and Seprino. It came in at $3.50 a glass with the special, which I thought was a decent value for an easy to drink white.

I moved on from there to the Rosso Piola, also $3.50 with the discount. The wine was 12.5% alcohol by volume and more complex than the white. It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. This one had all spice and cherry on the nose. In the mouth there were cherries, raspberries and raisins, plus a bit of an earthy quality. I liked this one better than the white, and over the course of the evening our group consummed several bottles.

The free appetizers at happy hour were great! When I came in there were cheese trays out on the bar and the wine club had taken over the couch area for the evening. Soon, trays of hot appetizers came around and the servers were incredibly attentive to us, bringing us full trays of everything! My favorite was the gorgonzola and prosciutto bruschetta, followed by a a prosciutto sandwhich on nice salty flat bread. Then they came around with full plates of pasta salad that was done with fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and olive oil. It was great. I also saw pizza and they put an entire appetizer of toasted pita triangles and eggplant dip on our table. You could really have made a meal on all the free appetizers, and I was really impressed with the service and variety.

Ten wine club members decided to stay for dinner after happy hour and we were seated very quickly at a big table that was easily able to accomodate our party. Many different pizzas were ordered and enjoyed by the group. Matt had the Pizza Carbonara, which literally had bacon, eggs, cheese, etc. on it. It looked great. I believe Leah and Jeff also had one of these. It looked like Allan enjoyed his prosciutto pizza and I had a pizza with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and brie which was delicious. I just finished eating some of the leftovers for lunch.

I think everyone had a great time and I am looking forward to our next event. Piola was a great choice and I would definitely return. The appetizers alone made it fantastic, but that combined with low prices on the pizza, good service and good food pushed it over the top. The wine list does need help, but everything else was up to snuff.

Weekend Round-Up 4/6/2007

The Curious Grape in Shirlington will be hosting an Easter Wine Pairing on Saturday from 1-4. At least 4 wines will be poured.

On Monday at the Curious Grape the winemaker from Langmeil in Australia will be pouring 3 of his Shiraz offerings and the Curious Grape will also have 2 Australian whites available from 6-8pm.

At Out of Site Wines in Vienna tonight you will find Springtime selections on the tasting bar from 5-8pm.

On Saturday from 1-4pm Out of Site Wines will be having a double sized tasting bar with one featuring appetizer and ham wines for Easter and the second table featuring lamb and dessert wines.

Tonight at Arrowine in Arlington you will find wines from around the world being poured from the Country Vintner from 5:30-7:30pm.

On Saturday from 1-4pm at Arrowine you will find a Taste of Oregon on the tasting bar.

Developing a Palate and 2004 Roshambo Zinfandel

April 5, 2007
The wine was a 2004 Roshambo Taylor Vineyard Zinfandel. It cost $28 in a club shipment, was 15.4% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure. I served it with cheeseburgers and corn on the cob in a celebration of grilling weather returning (though we will have to wait until we move to the house to actually grill, you can't have grills on balconies in the county we live in). Normally I would pick a Cabernet Sauvignon with my burger, but we don't have any that I feel are ready to drink right now.

On the nose of the wine I found blackberry jam, hints of vanilla, tart cherries and spices. In the mouth the tart cherries on the nose followed through and raspberries showed up in the glass over the course of the evening, along with nice spices that went well with the tart cherries. The finish was long and smooth.

I drank this one in my first blog tasting back in November and said I should cellar it longer. I think it's drinking really well right now, the flavors are great; it's easily my favorite Roshambo offering so far. It's also interesting to see just what drinking wine nearly every night for 6 months has done to my palate. Picking out flavors seems much easier and it's difficult for me to decide if that's because I have more confidence now or if perhaps I was right and this wine did need to sit for a bit longer (can 6 months make that much of a difference?). Back in my first post on this wine, I said it tasted fruited and that I thought perhaps it was cherries. I also picked up on the spice, but thought it was pepper at the time. I was cautious in my review and was questioning myself. I still have ocassions where I question if I am actually tasting something that I think I am or times where I know there is a flavor in the wine but I simply can't place it. However, I don't find those times frustrating, I see them as a chance to figure out what it is and I often post them here to see if anyone else has had the wine and can help me put a finger on what I am tasting. Let's see what the next 6 months of tasting does for me. If for nothing else, I hope my confidence in my palate continues to grow and that I get to taste many more great wines.

April is Awesome

April 4, 2007
Wine and non-wine related, in no particular order:

1.) Spring is here and flowers are blooming.

2.) I no longer have to go to work and come home in the dark.

3.) Wine Club meets tonight at Piola in Rosslyn, 5:30, join us (Black skirt suit, blue blouse, bad roots is me).

4.) Pimp Daddy of Twisted Oak is bringing Twisted Oak to DC!

5.) Matt and I leave for vacation on Friday!

6.) I get to play winemaker next Saturday.

7.) We close on our house in 3 weeks!!!

8.) My first WineQ order shipped yesterday and I can't wait for it to get here.

9.) I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for the current phase of my Fellowship. (Sorry, no link for that).

On the Town Again

April 3, 2007
With Matt's Uncle Bruce in town, we found ourselves out and about again this week. The museum he is involved with here was having an opening event and Bruce invited us along. At the event, which was very well done, a Renwood Sauvignon Blanc was served, a nice surprise and departure from the flabby Pinot Grigio or oaky Chardonnay you usually find.

After the event, we headed out to one of our favorite local Italian places, the Odeon Cafe in Dupont. To our surprise, we had to wait for a table, I guess it's getting more popular as we used to just waltz in and sit right down. We waited at the bar and ordered a bottle of 2004 E All Omo Il Vino Toscano Sangiovese.

The wine had a real cork closure, was 12.5% alcohol by volume and cost $54 for the bottle. I also wrote down that it had a pretty label and drew a picture of it. Which, given my very limited artistic skills, is quite amusing, but from what I can interpret it is two fairies (or angels) holding up a shield. Right. Another beef with restaurants and wine. The glasses were warm. I mean, I'm happy you clean your glasses, but I do not want them directly from the dishwasher. And the wine itself was warm, so I took Joel's (of Wine Life Today and Vivi's Wine Journal fame) advice from my post about warm wine in restaurants and requested an ice bucket to stick the bottle in. Our server brought one with no problem and our wine was saved! (Though he did try to take my wine out of the bucket after only about 2 minutes, but I put it right back in again.)

As for the wine, on the nose I found oak, black cherries, dark fruit, spice, earthiness and leather. In the mouth I would describe the wine as dense and dark, with spice and dark fruits, blackberries, cherries and currants. The tannins were big and I think the wine could definitely age for quite a while.

Everyone had something different for dinner, but I do sometimes like to pair an Italian wine with Italian food. Matt had lobster ravioli with a tomato cream sauce, Bruce had gnocchi with cream sauce and bacon and I had the 4 cheese fettucini. The wine was actually a nice complement to the cream sauce and I thought the pair was pretty good. We'll be back to the Odeon Cafe again as the food is always reliably good and the prices are decent. The wine list needs some help though. It's not very long or diverse and the prices are mostly in the upper $40s and above!

Happy Hour at Piola!

April 2, 2007
On Wednesday, April 4th, starting at 5:30, the Virginia Meetup Wine Club is meeting at Piola in Rosslyn for Happy Hour.

Piola is located at 1550 Wilson Boulevard, a mere 3 blocks from the Rosslyn Metro, so very easy to get to for those without cars or who prefer the Metro. Barring snow (please no, it's supposed to be 80 out today, I don't think I can take any more changes back to winter weather!), Matt and I will actually be there this time and I am much looking forward to attending as I enjoyed the first event we attended several months ago.

Happy Hour runs from 4pm-7pm (I always wondered why it was called Happy Hour if it ran for several hours....) and includes some great specials. Wine is half-price during Happy Hour and free snacks are provided, yum. The menu looks great, I am all about wood-fired pizza and inexpensive. I think the most expensive entree is $16.95, with most much less than that. The wine list is a little short, at least what is listed online, only about 10 wines total, so we shall see.

Please join me and our lovely leader Leah of DcGastronome at Happy Hour! Hope to see you there! I don't know which suit yet, but I'll be the blonde with bad roots (yes, still, havea n appointment next week) in a suit.

2003 Hanna Two Ranch Red

First off, this wine is not ready to drink without some serious time sitting out or in a decanter. It was hot and full of alcohol on the nose and I couldn't get past that through our whole dinner.

After the alcohol dissipated, I could find the scent of raisins and spice. In the mouth there were plums, black pepper and black currants.

The bottle cost around $20, had a real cork closure and came in a club shipment. Matt tossed the bottle before I could write down what the alcohol content was.

This wine is made from grapes that are deemed not good enough to be made into Hanna's Bismark Red. So I guess it's reject grapes? Kind of interesting that they actually tell you on the website that the grapes didn't make the cut for the better wine. I'm not so sure how I feel about that!

Overall, my assessment of this bottle is that it's a simple, drinkable bottle of red table wine. There's nothing remarkable about it, nor anything bad. But definitely let this one air out before trying to drink it!

Que Syrah, Syrah

April 1, 2007
With our bbq pulled pork, purple mashed potatoes and broccoli, I decided that a big Syrah would be an excellent match to the spicy bbq sauce. I usually prefer a Zinfandel with my bbq, but I don't have any left in my collection that I haven't reviewed yet so Syrah it was.

The bottle was a 2003 Alderbrook Syrah that came in a club shipment. Again, I have no idea how much it cost. It was 14.5% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure. The bottle was really heavy and had the largest punt that I've ever seen.

On the nose I found blackberries, bramble fruit and a hint of leather. In the mouth there were dark fruits, it was earthy and the blackberries really stood out. The color in the glass was a deep, dark red that barely let any light through.

I would definitely suggest decanting this bottle if you are going to drink it now. The flavors were wound quite tight to begin with and I think my evaluation of it with dinner suffered. About an hour after dinner though, this was a smooth wine with a long finish. If I had let it sit before dinner I think the flavors would have complimented the bbq well, but as it was, the flavors were just not showing well when we drank it with dinner. I would also suggest hanging onto this one for another 2+ years, I think it will be great in a couple years.