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My First Barrel Tasting!

March 31, 2008
So does that belong in a scrapbook next to "My first steps" and "My first birthday cake?" As a wine enthusiast, I certainly think it might take a place among those milestones ;)

While in Sonoma, Matt and I were lucky enough to be shown all over town by Patrick (more about Patrick, his wife Genevieve and their wines later) of Iridesse Wines. We were also joined by Russ, the Winehiker himself, for all of one day and part of another. It was so much fun to meet more wine folks, and especially to finally put faces and voices with people's internet personas. We couldn't have asked for a better host, and I find it to always be great to go out and about with someone who lives in the area you are visiting...not only did we have great wines, we also went to fabulous restaurants! We met up with Patrick and Russ at the Flying Goat in downtown Healdsburg, and Patrick quickly whisked us away to Chateau Felice, where we were fortunate enough to be offered the chance to taste everything (and I mean everything) that was in the barrels.

Aside from the sheer joy and fun of being up close and personal with wine barrels and getting to taste the wines in their various states of development, the wines were really good. I also got to spit on the ground for the first pants may have come out a little bit worse for wear from that experience! As you can see, the grounds at Chateau Felice were absolutely picturesque. I can see why it's a popular place to have a wedding. Before we tasted, Patrick showed us all around the vineyards.

All of these were barrel samples:

2007 Chardonnay: (Clone 76) Apple, tropical fruit, crisp, not oaky at all, pineapple, great acidity, yum.

2007 Chardonnay: (Clone 96) Pineapple, little creamier than the 76, a touch of toast and butter, peach, the wine was definitely still in the maloactic stage.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon: Dusty blackberry, cherry, strawberry, white pepper, baking spices, very nice, layered, cherry, layered, definitely needs some more time.

2006 Cabernet Franc: Herbal, berries on nose, boysenberries, nice strawberry in the mouth with licorice and milk chocolate. Very well done.

2007 Merlot: Chocolate berries, plums, nice fruit, very good structure, kick on the end.

2006 Syrah: (out of tank) Peppery, vanilla, black fruit.

2006 Zinfandel: (out of tank) Peppery, light color for a Zin, vanilla, spice, red fruit, a touch of blackberry.

2007 Zinfandel: Chocolate malt, herbs, boysenberry, sweeter than 2006, still prickly from being in the barrel.

2007 Zinfandel Port: Very much like a late harvest Zinfandel, syrupy, boysenberry, blackberry, high residual sugar.

Filling the Basement

March 30, 2008
This is what our basement looked like before our 2008 Sonoma trip and before the great Reorg of 2008.

During our reorg. We pulled out all the wine that was there, and opened all the boxes that arrived yesterday.
We organized everything into varietals so that we would find things easier...well, that's the idea.

And after! We completely filled up the 9 racks we had, plus a styrofoam case we had been previously using, and had to add 6 more styrofoam shipper halves to contain it all!!
Hours later, we are done, and exhausted!

Gnarly Friends

March 29, 2008

I am fascinated by grapevines. These gnarly old Zinfandel creatures were living on the side of the driveway up to Christopher Creek Winery, though they apparently belong to the lady next door!

Bud Break!!!

March 28, 2008

So I guess this confirms my status as a total wine geek (as Lenn just asked about), but I have never seen bud break before so I was super excited to be in Sonoma for it this year! We didn't see any on our first two days, but finally, on the 3rd day (March 18) we witnessed it! These shots were taken at Acorn Winery where Patrick told us we should definitely not miss a tasting (and I agree, highly recommend the place.) These are, if I remember correctly, the Sangiovese vines.

Literally In the Saddle

March 27, 2008
*Disclaimer-I received this bottle of wine as a sample from WineQ because I am a member of their Beta Club.

The wine for the evening was a 2003 Sky Saddle Zinfandel from Twin Oaks Vineyard in Sonoma County. It clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and can be purchased from WineQ for $25.99.

I would suggest opening this bottle a half hour or so before you want to drink it, it needed to open up just a touch before I really got the full aroma and flavor from it.

On the nose the wine showed perfumed spices, lavender, rosemary, other spice, earth, dark cherries, and blackberries. The nose had a floral characteristic and lots of fruit came shining through. I thought the aroma was really complex and layered for a Zinfandel, in addition to being quite enticing; it made me want to jump right in. The mouth followed through on the nose, complex and layered, the flavors kept coming. I found black cherry, blackberries, chocolate, spice, earth, leather, rosemary, and yummy chocolate covered fruit. The mouth also had a similar floral characteristic to the nose.

I served the wine with pizza, and while it was fine with my homemade pizza, I must say, I truly enjoyed the glass I savored after dinner. This wine had so many flavors and layers that I really didn't want any food aromas interfering with my enjoyment of the wine! As I finished my 2nd glass, the wine continued to smooth out of the next hour or so, leading me to believe this wine could hang out in the cellar for a couple more years, though is drinking great if you give it a half hour now!

I know Farley of Behind the Vines reviewed the same bottle about a month or so back, you can read her take on the wine here! And in fact, I liked the wine so much that I added a bottle to my Q over at WineQ and a bottle of the Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. If they are half as good as this I think I'm in for a treat.

Drinking Local

March 26, 2008
The wine for the evening was the 2006 Rappahannock Noblesse Blanc Table White from a winery we visited in Virginia recently. The bottle ran us $16.50 minus a 5% discount, had a real cork closure and oddly didn't list the alcohol content on the label.

The wine smelled sweet, with aromas of apricots, tropical fruit, and pineapple dominating. In the mouth, I found mandarin oranges, pineapples, and other tropical fruit. The wine had a tangy element to it, a bit prickly, almost like the sensation slightly overripe pineapple leaves in your mouth.
It had good structure and acidity and would be really nice chilled for a summer quaffer.

Saddles Up

March 25, 2008
Sorry for the silence around here! I had no way to hook my computer up to the internet since Wednesday and am just getting back online today! We should be back to your regularly scheduled wine programming from here on out, no vacations for the Wannabe Winos for quite some time! I have lots to report on from our Sonoma trip, great new wineries, restaurants, more wine....! All in all, an excellent time was had by all and I really enjoyed getting to meet some of the wine bloggers I've been chatting with for a couple of years now! More on that later.

As for the wine of the night, it was a 2006 Twisted Oak Verdelho from Alta Mesa Silvaspoons Vineyards. The wine arrived in my very first Twisted Oak club shipment, along with Bob my chicken :) It can be purchased from Twisted Oak from $16, clocked in at 13.4% alcohol by volume, and had a screw cap closure.

On the nose I found cream, white pepper, tropical fruit, cantaloupe, peach, and flowers. The wine was very aromatic. I also loved the pale straw color of the wine. In the mouth the wine showed pineapple, peach, citrus, and melons. The wine was surprisingly crisp and very refreshing. We quaffed it on an unusually warm winter evening in the DC area, on its own, and it was perfect.

I've previously reviewed the 2005 version of this wine, which you can read here.

Grower's Reserve

March 19, 2008
Giving away a little bit of how behind I am on posts, we drank this 2004 Mauritson Grower's Reserve Zinfandel from the Dry Creek Valley on Super Bowl Sunday. This will also show that while in theory I like the concept of pairing food and wine, really I just like the drink what I like with what I like to eat, though I will occasionally comment on whether or not a pairing worked for a wine.

Point in case: I served this Zin with a mish mosh of Super Bowl type appetizers- cheeses and crackers, various chips and dips, bourbon chicken, etc. It didn't work, but no one much cared as the wine was good and the appetizers yummy!

The wine clocked in at 15.5% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, cost us $26.40 in a club shipment, and only 275 cases of it were made in a mix of grapes from 3 vineyards.

My first note on the wine was that the juice was not as dark as I thought it would be, based on it being a Zin and all the other Zins I have consumed. On the nose I found pepper, jammy blackberries, vanilla, and other dark fruit. It had a very nice and aromatic nose that didn't seem to succumb to the alcohol content at all. In the mouth, the fruit was incredibly juicy with blackberries and blackberry pie being dominant. It also showed all spice and had a peppery kick on the back palate.

Overall, a very tasty Zin, and a good value for the money.

It's Magic!

March 17, 2008
The bottle for the night was the 2006 Hocus Pocus Syrah. I picked this bottle up from Domaine547 for $17.99. I know it had a real cork closure, and I didn't write down the alcohol content, but I believe it was somewhere in the low-14% range. The wine hails from the Central Coast of California.

On the nose I found cobbler, both blueberry and blackberry,
with cedar spice (and by that I do mean spiced Cedar wood, neither one nor the other), vanilla and pepper. In the mouth there were dark berries, especially blackberries, and it was a woody wine, in the sense of a dark forest. The wine was dark, silky, and well balanced.

I thought this wine was an excellent value for the price tag, and I loved the cobbler on the nose!

Blogging From the Road

March 16, 2008
AKA-Live in Sonoma County! Our bed and breakfast (at least the one we are in tonight) has free wireless so I am able to keep blogging for you while we are away!

The wine for the evening was the 2003 Lava Cap 2003 Reserve Merlot from El Dorado. It clocked in at 15.1% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and cost us $19.99 from WineQ (free shipping!).

On the nose I found berries, plums, spices, dark fruit, currants, and chocolate. In the mouth, more berries, currants, and plums. The wine was fruity with a bit of a darker earthy undertone, and still had a bit of a tannic edge.

I thought this was a really fun, fruity Merlot, and another great effort from Lava Cap. For this price, I would definitely get this again and consider it as a staple for serving with pizza or tomato based pasta dishes.

Wine from Connecticut

March 14, 2008
Despite having lived in Connecticut for the vast majority of my life, I had never had a chance to taste wine from the state before this Christmas. While spending a lengthy holiday visiting my family, Matt and I decided to hit up a vineyard in the town next to my parents' house to see what CT wine is all about. Now, I've heard of others reporting back on CT wine, even Dr. Debs on the west coast has had some! So it was high time I got my act together.

We went early one morning to visit Chamard Vineyards in Clinton, Connecticut. Chamard is one of the oldest vineyards in CT, and benefits from the cooling effects of Long Island Sound in growing their grapes. They also source some of their fruit from Long Island.

One of the bottles we brought home was a Chamard 2003 Chardonnay American Table Wine. It clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and cost us

On the nose of the wine I found pineapple, toast, cedar, and lemon. The wine was oaked, but that was not the primary aroma at all, which is a very good thing in my opinion. I prefer "naked" chardonnay, but I do believe that oak can be done very well if the winemaker is not heavy handed with it. In the mouth I found apple, pear, and pineapple. Again, the wine had a toasty sense from the oak, but it was just that, toast, with none of the butter slathered on a wood plank feeling that oaked Chardonnay sometimes leans to. The wine was very smooth in the mouth and drinking very well.

We picked up several bottles of this, some Pinot Blanc, and some Rose. Charmard had really pretty grounds, and I would love to return when everything is in bloom!

WBW #43-Round up posted and a Contest!

March 13, 2008
Joel, of Wine Life Today has posted the round-up from what may shake out as one of my favorite WBW themes in the past year or so since I've been participating in WBW. Now, of course, I loved my own theme of Petite Sirah, but I really enjoyed the challenge of thinking about what a wine means to me and why for this WBW. You can read all the details of the round up here, and be sure to click through and read the personal stories that came along with this month's WBW.

I also wanted to point your attention to El Bloggo Torcido, where once again the Twisted Folks at Twisted Oak are hosting a contest. You may recall this one from last year, the premise is that the readers get the opportunity to write the back label for one of Twisted Oak's wine bottles! This year it's for Ruben's Blend, the details of which you can find here. The deadline is soon, March 18, so pull out those pens and get cracking. Now, I played in this contest last year, and submitted a lovely ditty about a drunkard Miss Muffet and an abused spider....I'm wracking my brain to come up with something even Twisteder, since I wasn't quite there last year ;)

Wannabe Winos on the Road!

March 12, 2008
Well, we are headed off to our annual trip to California. I had hoped we were going to be able to visit another part of CA wine country this time, but we've decided on one more trip to the Dry Creek/Russian River/Alexander/Anderson Valley area, due to time constraints and a few other factors. Plus, we do really love the area, and it brings back nice memories of our honeymoon.

We will be in the area this Saturday evening through Wednesday morning, so really 3 full days. I'm trying not to plan too much this time, and I'm avoiding making appointments on this trip. Any you would absolutely say are MUST SEEs that don't require appointments? And if you have any restaurant recommendations in the area, I'd love to hear them! I'm fairly set on stopping in again at Roederer, so we will be up in the Anderson Valley, and I would like to try to run by Bella and David Coffaro again to taste their newer line ups and restock my cellar with some of their offerings. With that said, here's a list of the places we've previously visited:

Alexander Valley Vineyards
David Coffaro
Davis Bynum
De La Montanya
de Lorimier
Dutcher Crossing
Ferrari Carano
Hop Kiln
Michel Schlumberger
Mounts Family
Nelson Family
Robert Young
Yoakim Bridge



March 11, 2008
It's not often anyone describes a wine as tasting like grapes. In fact, I've heard and read that it's considered poor form for a wine to taste like grapes. But since it's made of grapes, it just doesn't seem wrong to me for wine to actually taste like grapes on occasion, rather than the myriad of other fruits, vegetables, meats, leather, earth, spices, etc., that can be found in wine.

The wine was a 2006 Rapphannock Cellars Norton. We picked this bottle up at Rappahannock Cellars early this winter for about $17.50, it clocked in at 13.3% alcohol by volume, and had a real cork closure.

It literally smells like Welch's Grape juice. I know grape juice is made of Concord grapes, but if I didn't know this was wine, I would have thought it was Welch's. In case you don't know, Norton is a grape that is actually native to North America, and is grown primarily here in Virginia and Missouri, I believe. I've seen it at a few vineyards here and I haven't been such a fan, but I really thought this was a fun version of it. In addition to the grape juice on the nose, I found grape Pixie Stix, so grape juice with a tart, sour note. It tasted exactly the same as it smelled.

Overall I'd describe the wine as adult Welch's, grape juice with a kick. I really liked the slightly sour note. A fun take on the Norton grape.

My Kind of Blend

March 10, 2008
The wine was a 2005 Alderbrook Confluence from Dry Creek Valley. It takes two grapes I really like and combines them in one blend, so what's not to love? The wine is a blend of 60% Zinfandel and 40% Syrah, it has a real cork closure, weighs in at 14.8% alcohol by volume, and cost us $24 in a club shipment.

On the nose I got blackberry, currants, spice, pepper,vanilla, and blueberry. I could almost smell the tannins on this one. In the mouth the wine showed blueberry tart, blackberry, and earth. The fruit was really dark on this one, and very tart.

A very tasty blend.

Polls Closed...

March 9, 2008
a while ago. But like some states, it takes me a while to count votes, even if they are staring me in the face whenever I pull up my blog!

I realized after I posted the poll that I forgot to include Germany as an option, something several people pointed out to me. This was not meant as a slight at all, it was simply a by-product of me not being thorough enough when I created the poll.

Not surprisingly to me, given my personal leaning to the US for most of my wine, 38% of voters (17 votes) chose the US as the country from which most of their wine hails. Coming in second was France with 7 votes and 15% of the vote. Italy and Australia followed closely with 5 votes each. In all 44 voters participated in the poll this go around.

If I do a completely unscientific survey of the wines I've blogged about (meaning I quickly added up in my head the ones from the US and the ones from outside the US) about 60% of my wine is from the US with about 25% being from VA, roughly 70% from CA, and 5% from other US states. Roughly 12% of the wine I drink comes from France and 12% more from Italy. After that, the percents are fairly insignificant, with a few bottles from South Africa, Australia, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, Chile, Germany, Argentina, Lebanon, Switzerland, and Austria rounding out the remaining 16% of wine I drink.

As always, thanks for participating!

WBC #1 Round up posted and WBC #2 Announced!

March 8, 2008
Our host for the first edition of the WBC was David of McDuff's Food and Wine Trail. He chose the book Vino Italiano as a massive tome for our first rendition of the book club, and the turn out was fantastic! 25 people participated and wrote reviews of the book. You can head on over to his blog to read the round up from all of the participants.

Next, the announcement for WBC #2 is up! Our host for the second WBC is Tim of Winecast. Time has chosen a much less daunting task in the form of the book Noble Rot: A Bordeaux Wine Revolution by William Echikson. You can read all the details over here on Winecast, but the long and short of it is: read the book, write a review, and post it on your blog or send it to Tim at by April 29 in time for our next book club meeting.

Now, Noble Rot is less than a third of the size of Vino Italiano, so no excuses about the length this time! Let's keep the momentum from the first WBC going and get an even bigger turnout next month. Looking forward to reading everyone's reviews in April! I've got a ton of work travel coming up, so this time I shouldn't be struggling to finish. Many thanks to Dr. Debs for the great idea of a wine book club.

Hiding in the Basement

March 7, 2008

Sometimes wine just gets lost in my basement. I don't know how it happens, because I'm fairly vigilant about entering my shipments into CellarTracker as they arrive, but, as you know, the best laid plans....

So that is how it came to be that this bottle of 2004 Alderbrook Chardonnay somehow escaped me. It's possible it's been hiding down there for almost 2 years now. I found it the other night when looking for a Zinfandel that I SWORE was down there, but alas, I could not find. Perhaps I have wine elves that move things around just to drive me nuts. Whatever the case may be, this wine had a real cork, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and cost us $14.80 either in a club shipment or at the winery.

On the nose I found apple, pineapple, slight cream, and oak spice. In the mouth, the wine was crisp with a bit of oak. I got flavors of lemon and apple. This was a simple Chardonnay, not too oaky at all, which is good, I don't much care for the oaky ones, and was an easy wine to drink on a weeknight.

Jessie's Grove

March 6, 2008
Note: This will be the first in a series of posts on the wineries I discovered at the D.C. International Wine and Food Festival.

On my second day at the festival, I stopped by the booth for Jessie's Grove Winery, a family owned winery located in Lodi, CA. I had 3 hours of trade tasting ahead of me, and this was my second stop for the day. Since I was at the festival the moment the doors opened, I felt like I had more leeway on the second day to stop and chat and learn more about the vineyards.

The owner was at the festival by himself pouring the wines and was kind enough to spend quite a while talking with me about his winery, though he told me that his mother is the family historian and has actually written a book about the family and the winery. The family has owned the property since 1858 and has some of the oldest vineyards in the US, with the oldest vines sill producing having been planted in 1889. Talk about a winery that might actually make a claim on "Old Vine" for their labels! They have been farming their land continuously for 5 generations, though they did not begin making their own wine for commercial sale until 1997. In total, Jessie's Grove boasts 250 acres of grapes and produces 12,000 cases of wine per year. I was able to taste 4 wines at the festival:

2006 Earth Zin and Fire: Retails for $12.99. I got vanilla, cream, berries, blackberries and an aftertaste of maple syrup, the kind you get from Vermont.

2005 Westwind Old Vine Zinfandel: Retails for $24.50 and is made from grapes from 65 year old vines. I found the wine to be spicy, with cherry and raspberry.

2005 Ancient Vine Carignane: Retails for $18.00. The label for this wine was designed by the owner's mother, and was the original label for all the winery's products. The wine is made from the vineyards planted in 1889! I found the wine to be smoky, with vanilla toast, currants, and dark red fruit.

2004 Petite Sirah: Retails for $24.50. Creamy, dark fruit, blueberry, smooth and ready to drink.

Two other points of interest: Jessie's Grove practices sustainable farming and their tasting room is housed in a building constructed in 1890! A very nice family operation, and some of my favorite wines tasted at the festival.

WBW #43-Comfort Wines

March 5, 2008
First off, a hearty congratulations to our host for this month, Joel, of Wine Life Today. He and his wife welcomed a brand new baby girl to their family last Thursday, so I can only imagine how hectic things are in their house at the moment! But wine life lover that he is, Joel is pushing forward as our host for this month!

WBW was created well over three years ago now, by Lenn of Lenndevours. The idea is that once a month, bloggers and often non bloggers will come together around a wine theme and all drink a bottle that matches the theme criteria and post about it. Every month is hosted by a different blog, whose owner picks the theme and will do a round up of the posts after the event is over.

This month, Joel set us to an interesting and thought provoking theme for me. He asked us to pick a wine that is a comfort wine for us. Something that we love to drink, that lets us relax, and perhaps invokes something in us that makes the wine and experience special.

The theme required a bit of thought on my part. I love wine. All of it, even the bottles that aren't particularly memorable, or are even bad. I love the ritual of wine, of slicing off the foil, pulling the cork, sniffing the bottle, and pouring the first glass. Having a glass of wine with my dinner is part of of my life, and I often think my meal is not complete without that glass of wine to complement it, and more importantly, to take that glass and finish it as I settle in for the evening before heading to bed. See, we don't spend much time at home in the evening. Our day begins well before we leave the house at 5 til 7 and we don't often return until 7pm or later. By the time I get dinner on the table and we sit down, it's often 8pm or later.

Wine is an almost daily part of our lives, so picking just one that is a comfort wine, that lets us relax, is hard to do. It could literally be any wine in my cellar.

I finally thought, well, what wine evokes good memories for me, puts a smile on my face, and almost always puts me in a good mood? And when I asked myself that, it wasn't a single wine, but a kind of wine.

Zinfandel. Zinfandel was the first red wine I fell head over heels for. It never fails to entice me with its berries and cream, spice, vanilla, jam, or juice. And it holds a special place in my heart, as the first time I ever had Zinfandel was on our honeymoon in Sonoma. The first Zinfandel I ever had was was from David Coffaro, a winery I hope to return to this spring. That one is long gone, so I thought about another winery from our honeymoon, and from a more recent trip, that also brings an instant smile to my mind.

And that wine comes from Nelson Family Vineyards and is their 2005 Estate Zinfandel. Nelson Vineyards is a great little family run winery where you are more than likely to run into a family member pouring wines in the tasting room. On our honeymoon, we were driving back from Mendocino and Matt said I could pick one winery to stop at that day (it was supposed to be a non-wine day, which it was until that point!). I don't know what drew me to Nelson, but I quickly put on my blinker and turned down the road leading up to the tasting room. We walked up to the tasting room to find a very enthusiastic winery dog, and the winemaker, Chris Nelson, pouring the wine. I instantly loved the Orange Muscat, and signed us up for the wine club. We have subsequently returned to Nelson Family Vineyards to participate in their Barn Blending Party, where we had an excellent time playing winemaker for the day!

So the wine cost us $18.40 in a club shipment, had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 15.7% alcohol by volume. I don't so much think the point of this WBW is the tasting notes on the wine, but more the way the wine makes you feel, and why it helps you unwind. But I won't pass up the opportunity to give you tasting notes! The nose showed fresh berries, spice, and vanilla. It was really juicy. In the mouth dark juicy berries dominated, with more notes of vanilla and allspice. The wine is very approachable now, smooth, juicy, and drinking wonderfully.

And there goes my last bottle of Zinfandel from Nelson Family Vineyards. We are getting a new club shipment in April, so I will look forward to more wines from one of my favorite small family producers. I only wish the barn party this year coincided with Easter again!

Many thanks to Joel for hosting, and I look forward to what everyone decided to open for the WBW. As always, I will post a link to the round up when it's posted!

The Rain In Spain Falls Gently On The Plains

March 4, 2008
The wine for the evening was a 2006 Gazur Tempranillo Ribera del Duero from the Compania de vinos Telmo Rodriguez. I purchased this bottle from Domaine547 for $14.99, it had a real cork closure, comes from Spain, and clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume. I got the recommendation for this wine from Jill, the owner of Domaine547. She has yet to steer me wrong with a bottle, and I was again pleased with this wine.

On the nose I found blackberry, raspberry, other red fruits that I couldn't place, spice, and leather. I almost swear I can smell the tannins on the nose of the wine! I also thought the nose had a very juicy aroma. In the mouth, the blackberries were the dominate fruit, big and juicy blackberries, as if I had picked them fresh from the farm. I almost thought I tasted a bit of blueberry after the wine had been in my glass for a while.

The wine had lots of fruit flavors, but also showed enough tannin that I think you could keep it around if you didn't want to drink it right away, thought it is drinking very well now. The flavor profile seemed like a classic Tempranillo. I was impressed with the value of this wine, a very good buy for $14.99.

A VA Cab Franc I Like

March 3, 2008
I do not care for Cab Franc much, at least the ones I've had produced here in the states. They are often thin, acidic, vegetal, and just not good. So it took me by great surprise that I liked this wine, and liked it enough to take a bottle home!

The wine was a 2006 Rappahannock Cellars Cabernet Franc. It clocked in at 13.4% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and cost us $22 at the winery minus a 10% discount.

On the nose the wine was peppery, with vanilla, currants, and spice. It was just a little bit vegetal, but not in a bad way at all. In the mouth I found spice, earth, and currants. The wine was tannic, but as it opened up, I got flavors of tart blackberries in the wine.

A VA Cab Franc I wouldn't hesitate to recommend!

DC Wine and Food Festival

March 2, 2008
I am back from 2 days spent at the DC International Wine and Food Festival! My lips are stained purple, my feet are killing me, and my hand is cramped from taking so many notes.

I went on day one from 1 until about 5. One to two were the trade hours, and I would say I got the most done that day during that time. Once it opened up to the public it was much harder to get around, the aisles filled up and it was sometimes 4 to 5 people deep to get near the tables. I spent day one with John from Anything Wine which was great, it was fun to have someone to go around with and talk to as we were waiting or tasting! I was also psyched to meet John, I've been a long time reader of his blog and he is a frequent commentor here!

Today I went by myself and pretty much only stayed for the trade hours from 11-2. Let me tell you, that was quite enough! I was going to stick around since it was open until 6, but I had visited a ton of booths, tasted many wines, and it got crowded the second they opened the doors.

Some initial thoughts: Seating somewhere would have been nice. Especially today. After a full day yesterday my feet were killing me today, and after about an hour I really would have appreciated a bench. People are not very careful (or polite) when tasting in such a mass setting. On day one, a woman decided that the floor was her dump bucket, and without even a glance down she turned her glass over, and tipped it out. On my foot. Today I got spit on. Apparently someone was practicing their spitting technique? Or else was new to the concept of spitting....the same fellow also had a penchant to tip his glass in the direction of the dump bucket and just fling the wine....uh, yeah, that doesn't work so well.

Now, I'm all about getting out of the way as soon as I am done tasting, and once the public came in, I tasted quickly and moved out of the way. Sadly, that apparently wasn't fast enough for some people who liked to shove and push their way to the front. I loved the trade hours since often I got to be the only person at a booth and could really talk to the person running it (some winemakers, some owners, some family members) and ask questions.

I tasted through a ton of wines. I tried to focus on importers and vineyards that I hadn't been to before, though I must admit, I dragged John to Rodney Strong yesterday, and I'm glad I did, since they weren't there today! I skipped the VA Vineyards since I was familiar with many of them, and have visited a ton of them.

Oddly enough, some of the places, both wineries and importers/distributors, just didn't show up. There were tables for them, and signs up, and they were on the list, but they weren't there. Notable on the first day to me was that Four Vines and Trentadue didn't show. I didn't have time to check if they were there today, but I did not notice them. Also, several of the wineries didn't come back for the second day.

I'm still figuring out how I want to break down the tastings I did for posts here, but I hope to start putting them up this week.

Good Value Zin

March 1, 2008
The wine was a 2005 Alderbrook Old Vine Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley. It weighed in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and cost $15.50!

On the nose of the wine I found jammy dark fruit, blackberries, raspberries, vanilla, and smoke. In the mouth (either I was a little tipsy or I really thought the wine was fruity, because I wrote fruity 3 times in a row in my notes...) the wine was very fruity. Flavors of blackberries, raspberries, and currants dominated in the mouth.

Overall, a fruity zinfandel with a bit of vanilla. Yum! Up there on the list of good Zins at this price point.