Two Nights Two Pinots

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, I managed to pluck the same wine from two different vintages two nights in a row from my basement. Let’s just say the Pinot Noir called my name this winter and the two Rodney Strong ones that were lurking (that sounds ominous, I promise it’s not) in my cellar got caught up in a few day Pinot fury. Had I actually realized I had both of them down there, I would have done a side-by-side comparison. On night one we tried the 2010 Rodney Strong Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. More on night two’s wine, the 2012, another day. The 2010 had a real cork closure and likely retailed for about $25 originally.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Overflowing on the nose with red, red fruit.

2.) Pair with a roaring fire and a cozy couch.

3.) Or with an herbed, roast chicken. That would work as well.

4.) Once again, Rodney Strong comes through with a solid offering for a great price point.

On the nose I found raspberries, red cherries, spice, mint, herbs, and sage. (Yes, I’m well aware that sage and mint are herbs, but there were more than just those there, more of an overall herbal note.) In the mouth I got pomegranate, raspberries, spice, and other red fruit. Overall the wine has acidity to spare and a long finish.

 

 

Always a Good Day

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

My day definitely looks up when my wine glass contains a treat from Jordan Winery.  Particularly when that wine happens to be their signature Cabernet Sauvignon. Our weather has been, shall we say, chilly, and a big red wine warms the soul when the thermometer can’t seem to get up over 9 degrees.  On this evening, we had the fortune to try the 2009 Jordan Cab Sauvignon. The wine has a real cork closure, clocks in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for $53.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) We drank this with grilled lamb done with rosemary and garlic. Absolutely fabulous match.

2.) I really appreciate that Jordan keeps their alcohol levels pretty darn reasonable for a CA cab. I enjoy not feeling like my nose is on fire when I smell a wine.

3.) I’m not sure I ever got around to posting about our visit to Jordan, but if you get the chance, you should definitely try to go on your next trip to Sonoma.

4.) Jordan only does two things: Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. And it does them really well.

Jordan in the spring.

On the nose I got pepper, black fruit, bramble, slight green notes, black cherry, and baking spice. In the mouth I found blackberry, black cherry, a mineral streak, and herbal notes. Overall the Jordan had great structure and acidity to carry it through.

 

 

Cold Winter’s Night

Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Rodney Strong.

Cold has settled into the DC area. Most days it’s been 13 degrees or under when I leave for work and the same when I return. Standing on an outside platform to catch the Metro is extremely unpleasant, and I come home chilled to the bone. On one of those nights, I bundled up for a trip to the basement and returned with the 2010 Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. It seemed like an excellent choice to counteract the weather. The wine has a real cork closure, clocks in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for $28.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) On the cold cold night, this wine warmed my soul.

2.) Rodney Strong is an incredibly consistent producer.

3.) This Cab offered lip-smacking black and blue fruit.

4.) I will get to Rodney Strong on my next Northern CA trip. Now to work on having that trip!

On the nose, I found the Alexander Cab to be quite spicy, with pepper, herbs, a slight green note, black berries, and other blue fruit.  In the mouth I got blueberry, brambly fruit, black fruit, spice, and pepper. The wine had nice tannins and mouth-filling fruit.

 

One Bubble

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR firm for the brand.

The day before New Year’s Eve. You haven’t bought the bubbly for midnight yet. What shall you get? Thankfully, I’ve got several to recommend in just a few short hours here at different price points. For a budget friendly, domestic sparkler, we tried the Mumm Napa Prestige Brut. From as low as $15, this bubbly will not bust the bank and is sure to please on New Year’s Eve (or whenever toasting with some sparkling catches your fancy.)

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) It’s not the most complex bubbly, but delivers well for the price point, and offers nice, small bubbles to tickle your tongue.

2.) I enjoyed the tropical notes that reined in the lemon the dominated both the nose and the palate.

3.) Especially good for the price point if you are having a crowd and don’t want to break the bank on multiple bottles.

4.) The leftovers made excellent mimosas.

On the nose I got lemon, lots of lemon, apple, tropical notes, and slight toast. Did I mention the lemon? In the mouth I found pineapple, other tropical fruits, lemon, apple, and just the slightest hint of sweet pear.

To a Treat

 

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Rodney Strong Vineyards

As I am well into my second week of the furlough, I figured it was time for a treat in my wine-drinking queue.  I can’t always look for the cheap and cheerful wines, it kills your will to taste lots of not so great wines in search of a single gem all the time.  Instead, I bustled around in the basement looking for something opulent and sure to please and came back up with the  2007 Rodney Strong Symmetry.  The Symmetry is a Meritage blend with a real cork closure, 15.1% alcohol by volume, and a retail price of about $50.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Opulent is really the proper word for this wine: it’s luxurious and rich in all aspects.

2.) $50 may seem a little pricey, especially these days, but I think you get quite a bit for that money in this bottle of wine, it’s enticing and layered and tastes much more expensive.

3.) Rodney Strong is generally so consistent to me as a producer that I never hesitate to recommend their wines.

4.) I’m still not sure how I’ve never actually made it to the actual Rodney Strong facility in all these years.

Right from the off you just look at this wine and observe how incredibly dark the juice appears.  In fact, my notes say “dark dark dark.” In the mouth I found dark chocolate, dried cherries, mulberry, spice, black cherry, and currants.  On the palate got herbs, spice, pepper, anise, coffee, blackberry, and black currants.  The wine had a long finish with good tannins and needed some time in the glass to really open up. Do yourself a favor and run it through the decanter (or your Wine Soiree!) if you pop open this bottle soon.

 

 

Cigar? No, Cigare.

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample for review from the winery.

Fall! And red wines! Who knew how quickly the weather would turn in DC? I got scolded by my kid’s preschool teachers for not sending her in warm enough clothes today. I guess that means it’s 1.) time to move her to New England so she toughens up 2.) bust out the long pants 3.) eat lots of apples and 4.) switch (gradually) back to the red section of my basement again. Tonight we broke out the 2008 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant En demi-muid. The Volant sports a screw cap closure, clocks in at 14.2% alcohol by volume, and retails for $45 a bottle. It’s a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Carignane.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Fall in a glass! Spice, tea, lighter red fruits, this wine screams fall.

2.) En demi-muid means the wine is aged in 500 and 600 liter barrels instead of typical barrels which hold about half that amount of liquid.

3.) The price is a little lofty.

4.) While I enjoyed just sipping the wine watching trashy tv, I would pair it with marinated pork chops.

 

On the nose I found spice, tea, cherry, current, raspberry, earth, a little meat, and some darker fruit notes. In the mouth I got black cherry. So much black cherry that it took me some time to move on and find anything else. eventually some raspberry, tea, and another berry I couldn’t quite identify emerged. Overall the fruit on the palate showed as tart and fresh.

 

Rock This Way

Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Cornerstone Winery.

While our weather has turned unseasonably cool in DC for August, I’m still digging white wines. The summer screams white wine and bubbles to me and we’ve been drinking plenty of both lately. I played roulette in the basement and hit upon the 2012 Stepping Stone White Rocks from Cornerstone Cellars to taste.  The wine has a screw cap closure, clocks in at 14.1% alcohol by volume, and retails for $18 a bottle.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Drink with heat. Which we generally have plenty of in the DC area.

2.) I love the Stepping Stone line from Cornerstone for the price points and the experimentation.

3.) My favorite is the Cabernet Franc.

4.) If I weren’t sipping the White Rocks on my front porch, I’d pair it with my cheese course or a light grilled white fish.

2012 Stepping Stone White Rocks from Cornerstone

On the nose I found floral and lime notes, other citrus, wet stones, orange blossoms, and white pepper.  In the mouth I got citrus, lemon, lime, more citrus, and lots of citrus.  Overall I’d call the wine zippy, bright, fruity and fun.  (Somewhere I have misplaced my camera card and the photos of this bottle with it…)

 

 

I spy with my little eye

*Disclaimer: I took this wine home from a luncheon thrown by the PR firm for the winery.

A perfect wine for the summer. I recently attended a lunch for the wine brand Heritance, with owner/creator/winemaker Bernard Portet.  At the end of the lunch a lone unopened bottle of 2011 Heritance Sauvignon Blanc begged for a home so that it wouldn’t have to be checked in baggage on the flight Bernard needed to hop right back to CA. Of course, I obliged and carted it home with me.  The Heritance Sauvignon Blanc retails for $24, has a screw cap closure, and clocks in at 13.5% alcohol by volume.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Bernard Portet might be the most charming man I’ve met in quite some time. I truly enjoyed the experience of lunch with him, and our very small group of 5 total folks.

2.) I am particularly taken with this Sauvignon Blanc. It is blended with 12% Roussanne which lends an interesting heft to the palate while not overpowering the fruit apparent in the Sauvignon Blanc.

3.) At lunch I had the wine paired with a mesclan greens, applewood smoked bacon, poached egg with a citrus vinagrette dressing salad. Amazing salad and a solid pairing with the Sauvignon Blanc. At home, we had it with Quiche Lorraine, which confirmed my initial reaction that it pairs quite well with eggs.

4.) I was jonesing for some grilled scallops while I drank this wine.

On the nose I got lemongrass, citrus, tropical notes, peach, passion fruit and a hint of the acidity to come. In the mouth I found melon, lemon, grass, tropical notes, lemongrass, and grapefruit.  The Roussanne definitely became apparent on the palate and while the wine certainly had nice acidity, the Roussane lent some weight to the wine and gave it some interesting character.

2011 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Bonny Doon Winery.

With the weather finally turning to spring here (perhaps?) my thoughts have turned to white wines and (even more) bubbly. Keeping that in mind when I dove into the cellar for something to drink the other night, I popped up with the 2011 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc. I previously reviewed the 2010 vintage here. The current vintage is a bit more Grenache Blanc heavy, at 62% with the remainder being Roussanne. Last vintage was only 55% Grenache Blanc. The wine has a screw cap closure, clocks in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for $28.

Four takeaways from this mine:

1.) While the Roussanne still made its presence known with the mouthfeel and the viscosity, it felt less dominant to me in this vintage.

2.) I imagined myself eating crab with this wine, which we often indulge in during the spring and summer months.

3.) Or simply sipping it on one of those delightful spring nights where it is still cool enough to rock on the front porch.

4.) Overall, I’ve been mightily impressed with the quality of the wine coming out of Bonny Doon.

On the nose I got yellow apple, melon, pear, lemon, orange zest, flowers, mineral notes, and slight honey.  In the mouth I found green apple, lemon, pear, and grapefruit.  The wine had a lovely mouthfeel with a slight viscosity and a long finish.

 

 

Sometimes Size Matters

When we are talking about wine, that is. Large format bottles are fun to open when you have a big group over for tasting and they impact the way that wine ages in a bottle. I particularly enjoy large format bottles for sparkling wines, though I buy them with all sorts of wine inside. I think I currently have about a dozen Magnum format bottles in the basement, mostly of Petite Sirah (which often has great aging potential) and of sparkling wine. We busted one open when an old friend came to town recently.  After perusing the options, we settled on the 2000 Roederer Estates L’Ermitage Brut.  I purchased this wine directly from the winery a few years ago and it’s been resting alongside its siblings in our basement every since. I think it retails for around $100 for the bottle, but I can’t recall what I paid for it.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Having a Magnum of sparkling wine makes you feel like you actually got enough glasses as you can never have too much sparkling wine.

2.) I’ve had this wine in a regular sized bottle before. You can read my notes from that and compare here.

3.) Nearly 3 years later and the large format bottle (not sure which or if both of those factors contributed) gave this bottle a heft on the palate that I didn’t find before along with a creaminess.

4.) I need to drink more bubbles.

On the nose I got toast, bread, lemon, pear, and apple. In the mouth I found apple, toast, pear, yeast, and bread. Overall the wine had a heft and creaminess on the palate I really enjoyed, especially on the finish.

 

 

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