Zin Time!

I wrote last week about how all my thoughts turn to white wines during the DC spummall. That’s not totally true. My thoughts also encompass grilling out and bbq and all those good things. Usually to go with that kind of food, you’ll still find me reaching (as fast as I can!) for a nice spicy Zinfandel. We pulled the 2006 Nelson Family Vineyards Zinfandel from our basement tonight to go with the ribs I made. Mmmm. Ribs. I think it cost me around $19 in a club shipment, had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 15.7% alcohol by volume.

My first thought on sniffing this Zin was that it seemed pretty port-like with deep dark blackberry aromas and the stronger alcohol. It definitely needed some serious time to air. I also got cream, pepper, spice, and more brambly black fruit. In the mouth I found blueberries, blackberries, spice, pepper, and earth. Overall I found this to be a big, tight wine that really needed to be decanted for a couple hours.

Sweetening the Pot

In general, sweet wines are not my thing. Matt loves them, but I can take them or leave them. I make at least one exception to that general rule every year with the Nelson Family Orange Muscat. All too often, Muscat can be an overly sweet mess, but not this one. I fell in love with this wine nearly 4 years ago and have enjoyed it ever since.  Even though it is sweet, it has great acidity to back that up and the tropical flavors make me swoon.  We pulled the 2007 Nelson Family Orange Muscat out of the basement to enjoy by the fire the other night.  It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and cost me $16.80 in a club shipment.

On the nose I found pineapple, apricot, tropical fruit, jasmine, flowers, and exotic spice. In the mouth I got pineapple candy, apricot, honey, and honeysuckle. This wine has acidity to spare and the flavors are enough to make a Muscat believer out of me. It sells out very quickly every year, and I believe the 2007 is already gone…but the 2008 should be right around the corner.  You know I like something when my notes are peppered with the word “lovely” no less than 5 times!

Give Me More!

This wine is SO GOOD that I don’t want to stop and take notes. I’m too busy smelling it and drinking it and reveling in all that is excellent about Viognier.  I wrote about the same bottle last year and had I realized that, I wouldn’t have bothered to stop to take notes but since it arrived in my most recent club shipment, I ASSumed that it would be a more recent vintage. But that’s okay, because this one is so excellent, it actually deserves a second review, if for nothing else but to convince you to go buy your own bottle or 12.  Especially if you enjoy Viognier.  You can read my first review here. I will tell you that it’s not common for me to not want to take notes! I’m speaking of the 2007 Nelson Family Vienyards Viognier.  It had a cork closure, cost me $16.80 in a club shipment, and clocked in at 14.8% alcohol by volume.

I found the nose to be flowery with peaches, apricots, honey, spice, pears, orange blossoms, and lemons on the edges.  A scrumptious nose that you just want to dive into and swim around in…so enticing that you can’t wait to take a sip.  In the mouth I got peaches, pears, honey, lemons, spice, and soft orange flavors.  This wine had great citrus, excellent acidity, and nice clean fruit.  It’s an incredibly well done wine with fabulous aromatics and a delightful taste.  Enjoy a bunch this summer!

Discovering More Wine Club Benefits

One major benefit of wine clubs that I rarely think about is that you often get new vintages of the same wine, and can compare them! I currently have a vertical of Michael Schlumberger Cabernet Sauvignon from 1998 through 2004…wondering how long I’ll save them until I hold a big party to taste through.  But in any case, the wine this evening also benefits from my club subscription as I’ve already written about the 2005, just drank the 2006, and the 2007 just arrived the other day.  Today we’re talking about the Nelson Family Vineyards 2006 Orange Muscat.  It had a plastic cork closure, clocked in at 14.8% alcohol by volume, and cost me $16.80 in a club shipment.

I’ve loved this wine from my first taste of it in the Nelson Family Vineyards tasting room in 2006.  Then, it was the 2005 and it convinced me to join the Nelson Wine Club.  On the nose of the 2006 I found pineapple, honey, spice, lychee, orange, lemon zest, and ginger.  I loved the spicy quality that this wine has.  In the mouth I got citrus, tropical fruit, pineapple candy, ginger, and mandarin orange.  The wine is on the sweet side, but it has nice acidty to carry it through.

Beautiful Viognier

I picked the 2007 Nelson Family Vineyards Viognier for the wine of the evening. It had a real cork closure, cost me $16.80 in a club shipment, and Matt tossed the bottle before I could write down the alcohol content.

I have to say, this was one of the best Viogniers I have ever had and a terrific value at that. I wish I had more, I would definitely serve this bottle at Thanksgiving this year.


On the nose I found peach, flowers, prickly pear, honey, and apricots. The nose made you want to dive into the glass and take a swim. The aromatics wafted out of the glass and across the room and you couldn’t wait to drink the wine inside. An absolutely beautiful nose. In the mouth I got flavors of peach, pears, honey, a touch of spice, apricot, and orange zest.

The flavors showed as clean and crisp fruits, but the fruits were well developed and gave a full mouthfeel. A well done finish, clean and tasty. The wine just blew me away at this price point. I wanted more to drink. I can easily recommend this bottle.

A Rose I Could Drink All Day


Rise and shine and a Rose and an omelet for breakfast. Perhaps a Rose and a turkey club for lunch, followed by Rose on the porch, ending with my bbq ribs and a Rose for dinner. Really, this Rose was so good that I would honestly want to drink it all day long.

The wine was the 2007 Nelson Family Vineyards Zinfandel Rose. It came in a club shipment, cost me $12.80 with a club discount, had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 13.8% alcohol by volume. I’m not sure if the condensation in the picture is because I chilled it too much or we’re cheap and keep our house a touch warm…probably a combo of both, but it tasted perfect, especially that day as the weather hit the high 90s with oppressive humidity! Ah, the joys of living in a (former) swamp.

On the nose I found watermelon, cream, berries, spice, and flowers. It smelled delicious and I wanted to jump in an take a swim in my glass. In the mouth, dry fruit dominated, lots of berries, but especially raspberries, cherries, and a hint of the watermelon from the nose. The wine really had just an absolutely beautiful structure and flavor and the color was fabulous. The tart fruit, combined with the dry acidity in the mouth make the wine a perfect sipper for before dinner, after dinner, with dinner, any old time. At this price, well worth it.

Barn Blending Results!

We drank this bottle of the 2006 Nelson Family Vineyards Barn Blend the other night in honor of the fact that we could not attend the blending party this year, sadly. Last year we did go, as I’ve talked about before, and this bottle was the product of that party, though sadly we were not the creators of it!

The Barn Blend is a mix that’s Cabernet heavy with a bit of Merlot and Zinfandel making up the rest. I believe it costs around $18, clocked in at 14.8% alcohol by volume, and had a real cork closure.

On the nose I found strawberry, leather, raspberry, currants, earth, and spice. In the mouth, again, the flavors were dominated by the strawberries, with raspberry hiding underneath, some spice and a bit of the earthy note.

The wine needs some time to breathe before drinking, I definitely think this one has some time to age left in it! I served it with homemade pepperoni pizza, and it was an okay match, but being so Cab heavy I probably should have served it with the grilled steak we had the next night!

WBW #43-Comfort Wines

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!

Sweet Nectar of Bacchus

I love this wine. And I am not one for sweet wines. But I absolutely adored this bottle of wine when we bought it (the last bottle available at the winery!) and can’t wait to drink more of the 2006 either. The wine in question is a 2005 Nelson Family Vineyards Orange Muscat.

We picked this bottle up at the vinyard, where it cost us $16.18 (that’s with a club discount), clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and had a real cork closure.

The aroma of the wine is very perfumed. I found scents of flowers, honey, orange blossom, and lemon zest. I could smell this bottle of wine for hours. In the mouth the wine is sweet, but has the acidity to hold the sweetness in check. I found orange, mandarins, lemons, and honeysuckle. The citrus really gives the wine body and makes it a great after dinner sipping wine. A great value.

Fire Roaring

I don’t normally associate Riesling with a wine I would drink while sitting in front of the fireplace, but that is exactly what we did. At least I get a little credit for serving a hearty cheese fondue in front of said fire, which is why we needed a white wine!

Riesling is what started my love affair with wine, but I haven’t seen a lot of it coming out of California. I gather the growing conditions aren’t exactly ideal and it works better in colder climates. But there are some wineries who dabble with it in CA, and Nelson Family Vineyards is one.

We purchased this bottle of 2005 Nelson Family Vineyards Riesling for around $17 when we were visiting Sonoma in 2006. It started to occur to me the other night that I probably want to clear out the remaining few older white wines that are hanging around in my cellar. It had a real cork closure and clocked in at 12.1% alcohol, with only 184 cases made.

On the nose the wine displayed honey, lemon, and orange blossoms. It smelled sweet. In the mouth I found honey with a bit of a citrus twinge, lemon, and orange blossoms. The wine was quite smooth and I’m glad we decided to haul it out of the basement, I’m not sure how much longer it would have been okay down there. This was a very different Riesling, probably, in my opinion, due to the fact that it was grown in CA. It did have the floral and citrus that I expect from a Riesling, but it wasn’t the dry wine that I’ve come to expect from this grape.

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