Wine and Cheese

What could be better when your favorite food is cheese and your favorite drink is wine? Not much in my humble opinion. Especially when those cheese are local artisan cheeses and the wines are delicious and pair very well with the cheeses.

Prior to heading to CA, I found a link to Michel-Schlumberger on Fork and Bottle and decided to check it out. On poking around the website, I found that they offer tasting by appointment only and also have a special wine and cheese pairing by appointment. I was sold.

We were a few minutes earlier so we had a chance to wander around the beautiful courtyard of the winery and sit by the fountain as we waited for the other people to arrive. Our tasting mates turned out to be a very nice couple from North Carolina whom we ran into latter at Passalacqua.

Eventually we were moved to a large kitchen where our cheese plates and wine glasses were set at individual tasting stations around the kitchen island. The pairing event is $26 per person.

First up was the 2005 La Brume Chardonnay for $20 with an Aged Acapella cheese. The wine showed pear and lemon flavors with a slight hint of oak. It seemed slightly crisp, but drinking it with the cheese turned it into a nice light, creamy wine. Yum, this cheese was AMAZING!

Next was a 2002 Merlot, which cost $30 and our attendant said should age for 8-10 years. The wine was paired with Carmody Farmstead Cheese. The wine showed alochol, raspberries, spice and cherries. I could see that it needed time to age. Once I took a bite of the cheese however, the fruit came jumping out of the glass with gobs of black cherries and raspberries. Delicious wine with the cheese!

Third was a 2003 Pinot Noir for $32. It was paired with blue cheese. I described the wine before cheese as clean, with strawberries and quite earthy. After the cheese, I found mushrooms along with the other flavors. I loved this match.

Fourth was a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon for $38 that our attendant said to age for 10 or more years. It was paired with St. George cheese. The wine showed black currants and was very reserved, but after the cheese the wine opened up in the mouth.

Next we had a Late Harvest Semillon Dessert wine called “Silk Purse.” It was floral with apple, pear and honey notes. We tried it with the leftover blue cheese and the flavors jumped out of the glass. This was Matt’s favorite pairing.

Finally we tried a 2006 Pinot Blanc for $21. It is aged for 6 months in stainless steel. No cheese match for this one, but the attendant suggested buttery cheeses. The wine had a sweet aromatic nose, with lemon and pineapple. It was very light and would make a great summer sipper. We took a bottle home.

Overall, a great experience and it was really fun to taste in such a small group over an extended hour. I would certainly recommend this to anyone heading out that way.

A shipping issue

Thanks to Dr. Debs for posting this timely (for me anyway) post on Wine Life Today that she found on Good Grape. The post is regarding the shipping of wine to consumers and how it’s a big issue facing the industry today.

And I must agree. Especially given that I just got royally screwed by UPS. A shipment of 6 bottles was scheduled (per the phone call of UPS) to arrive at my home on Friday. I went home early to wait for it. And I waited. And waited. And it did not come. So I think maybe it got shipped to our old apartment. I went over there. And nothing. I harass the front desk people into showing me the package log for Friday to make sure it didn’t get sent there. Nothing.

I call today to track it. Supposedly UPS came and left a notice on our door at 6:47PM on Friday. Well, apparently this was a ghost UPS truck and a ghost notice, because let me tell you, it wasn’t there. I may be oblivious at times, but I certainly don’t miss it when people ring the doorbell or when missed package notices are taked to my front door.

So now, my beautiful wine that cost $170 has been sitting in a hot warehouse the entire LONG weekend. That’s 3 full days, plus 2 full dasy today being driven around in our achingly hot weather. I fear the worst dear wine lovers: my wine will be cooked. I am doubly irritated and pissed off due to the fact that I was sitting in my living room when this was supposedly delivered.

PS: Even more irritated now that I just found out they will attempt to deliver at 4 today. No one will be there and every other time UPS has come, they arrive around 7. When we are home. Of course, not today though.

Wine with a Smile

Pulling up to Yoakim Bridge reminded me of pulling up to a cabin to go camping at. The winery was rustic and looked very inviting. And, as many people say, first impressions are often right; everything about Yoakim Bridge was inviting. The winery is only open to the public Friday-Sunday, unless you call for an appointment. Tasting fee is supposedly $10, though we were not asked for it and it was never mentioned.

Walking into the tasting room, we were immediately greeted very exhuberantly by Virginia, one of the two owners of Yoakim Bridge. We were then offered meatballs, which she had simmering in a crock pot behind the tasting bar. And they were delicious, made in their own special wine sauce. Virginia made sure we were red wine drinkers, as, in her words: “We don’t do white wines here, we’re red only!” Much to the disappointment of the people who walked in behind us, as they were looking for white wines and walked away with out even tasting, despite our encouragement to try something new….red is divine!

Yoakim Bridge is a very small operation. They’ve been around for just over 10 years and don’t have any tasting room help, just the two owners, both of whom were pouring wine that Friday. Along with the very friendly and adorable winery dogs. I would highly recommend a visit to Yoakim Bridge. The wines were delicious, the people fantastic and the atmosphere great, even after we got home, we got a personal email from Virginia thanking us for visiting and for purchasing wine. Little things like that go a long way with me.

2001 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel: $32. Raspberry and chocolate on the nose. Oak and raspberries in the mouth with a long finish. Could age longer in my opinion. We took home 2 bottles.

2004 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel: $32. Pepper, blackberry and oak. Overall, quite spicy!

2004 Dry Creek Valley Merlot: $34. Toasty, with the distinct scent of sausage. Strawberries and spice in the mouth, I relaly liked the flavors in this one.

Three Valley Cuvee NV: $34. Violets and other flowers on the nose. Mint, and dried raspberries, the tannins were heavy on this wine. The grapes come from 13 differents vineyards.

2002 Dry Creek Valley Syrah: $34. Dark fruit, blackberries and blueberries. Vanilla notes and spice. Definitely age this one longer.

Weekend Wine Events (and more!)

First of note, is a wine dinner coming up on June 4th being hosted by Church Street Cellars in Vienna. The dinner will take place at Bazin’s on Church and feature a Robert Mondavi Reserve Wine Dinner. The festivities begin at 6:30 with appetizers and the cost is $100 per person. Entrees include Pekin Duck, Double Thick Lamb-Chops…..reservations will be taken by the restaurant at 703-255-7212.

Church Street will be tasting on Saturday from 12-3 with Grappoli Imports. Wines include: Barbi Orvietto, Graofoli Sparkling, James Judd Cabernet Sauvingon and James Judd Petite Verdot.

On Sunday from 12-5 and Monday from 12-3 Church Street will feature 16 wines from an Enomatic Wine Dispenser! It looks like they may be getting ready to introduce this feature in shop in the future!

Today from 6-8 at the Curious Grape in Shirlington you will find Artisanal American Wines and Chocolates on the tasting bars. Wines will be featured from California, Oregon and Washington.

On Saturday the Curious Grape has All New-Zealand Favorites looks like a great line-up, including one of my favorite summer styles, a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

If you are in town on Monday, head to the Curious Grape from 10-2 and receive a 20% case discount mix or match. Nothing is excluded, so take this opportunity to pick up some of those wine’s you’ve been eyeing or perhaps to do your own at home mixed case learning as Eric Asimov of The Pour has been encouraging us to do!

Arrowine in Arlington offers wines from Dionysos on the tasting bar tonight from 5:30-7:30, indcluding a French Rose and a red Portugese wien they claim is perfect for grilling.

On Saturday from 1-4 Arrowine will be featuring a dozen wines in a SuperTasting of Tuscan Burgundy and Other Wines of Terrior from Rosenthal Wine Merchant.

Out of Site Wines in Vienna is also featuring a Memorial Day Weekend special, though be careful as you will have to carry your wines due to the street being closed for the ViVa Vienna Festival. On Saturday and Sunday they are offering $20 off any purchase of $250 or more if you mention the ViVa Vino Vienna Email Special. Try saying that 5 times fast.

Tonight Out of Site Wines will be tasting the 2005 Obvio Torrentes (a wine I have previously reviewed) and a 2001 Bodegas Valsacro “Valsacro Red.”

Saturday from 12-2:30 Out of Site will feature Portugal, France and Spain with a Verdelho, a Sancerre and a Grenache/Tempranillo blend. From 2:30-5 they will feature a selection from Grappoli Imports including a Prosecco, a Verdicchio and a Sangiovese.

On Sunday at Out of Site you will find, from 12-2:30 Sauvignon Blacn from Chile, Chardonnay from France, and Malbec from Argentina. From 2:30-5 look from a Veltliner, a Garnacha and aPaso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon.

Not to mention, if you are feeling adventureous and want to leave the hectic tourism of DC behind you, the West Virginia Wine and Arts Festival is going on from Saturday-Sunday. It’s located at 601 South Queen Street in Martinsburg, WV. The cost is $15 per person and looks like a great way to spend a Memorial Day weekend.

Be safe this weekend and I hope that everyone has a festive and relaxing Memorial Day Weekend!

My Problem

We don’t have internet access at home right now.

Which means I can’t type up my tasting notes or upload my pictures. And that leaves me with several posts that I have written but have not attached the pictures to yet.

So while I’ve been drinking wines as usual, I don’t know that I can make any real wine related posts until the Internet people show up on Saturday to hook up our cable. I had high hopes for drinking some wine out tonight, but I checked out the wine list of the place we are headed to and woefully discovered that there are only 3 reds and 3 whites on it. That’s it. And one of the reds is The Little Penguin Pinot Noir if that provides you an indication of the type of wine list.

I was interested to note that the Washington Post Wine Writers noted the Nora Albarino as one of their favorite white wines under $20. I had recommended that to Dr.Debs a while ago and she reviewed it a few weeks ago. I’m hoping the mention in thePost won’t drive up the demand and the price of it around here as it is one of my favorite “go-to” white wines.

Other wine events of note:

We have moved our wine into our basement at the new house. What looked HUGE in our apartment as it basically took up what space remained on either side of our bed looks itty bitty in our basement. And, as I’ve been monitoring it, our basement seems to have been steady for 2 weeks at a 62 degree temperature. While I realize that 55 is more ideal, I wonder if it will be okay down there? Keep in mind most of wine doesn’t hang around for more than a year or so as I make no pretense about attempting to store and age wine. Thoughts?

My second WineQ shipment has arrived with a Sauvignon Blanc, a Zinfandel and a Red Table Wine. I’m much looking forward to my next shipment which has some Twisted Oak Petite Sirah in it, something I’ve been dying to taste! My only concern is that I’ve now purchased all the wines under $20 that are available through WineQ to ship to VA. I’m all for trying new things, but I hesistate to spend more than $20ish on a wine I haven’t tasted yet…Hopefully some of the other wines will be able to ship to VA soon or more new arrivals will pop up!

Finally, I can’t figure out where to put the wine fridge in the new house. Keeping it in the basement with the wine seems to defeat the purpose of its convenience. And the way the new kitchen is designed it doesn’t seem like there is a logical place to keep it. Hmm, perhaps my next kitchen will be designed around a built in wine-fridge…. 🙂

Hope to be back in gear soon!

A Random Stop

One afternoon on our trip we were bored and had managed to hit all the places I had planned on us seeing. As we were driving around we decided to stop at a winery on the road called Mazzocco. The tasting room set up on slight hill among the vineyards was very pretty, especially later in the afternoon with the sun glowing behind it. I gather they were purchased by Wilson Winery several years ago, but prior to that had been owned by a Dr.Mazzocco.

Inside, the tasting room was enormous and very open. The tasting bar was huge, easily 30 people could have stood around it without feeling crowded. Our tasting room attendant was friendly, though a little busy with several groups showing up all at once.

2004 Russian River Sauvignon Blanc: $14. Some oak and lemon, very reserved.

2004 Sonoma County Chardonnay: $18. Oak and spice. Peah, smooth and very flavorful.

2004 Sonoma County Reserve Chardonnay: $28. Buttery nose, oak. More “reserved fruit” than the non-reserve, lemon, drier in flavor.

2003 Alexander Valley Carignane: $18. Chocolate and cracked pepper. Pepper and scpicy red fruit in the mouth.

2002 Sonoma County Merlot: $25. Milk chocolate on nose, berries. Smooth and tart with some drying tannins on the end. Bought one bottle.

1999 Matrix Estate Bordeaux Blend: $40. Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Black currants, bell pepper. Bell pepper in the mouth too, very spicy.

2004 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel: $24. From the Cuneo and Saini Vineyards. Oak, dark flavors, currants. Currants, spice, and earthy in the mouth.

2004 Alexander Valley Stone Ranch Zinfandel: $24. Spicy blackberries, leather. Chocolate, blackberry jam and spice in mouth. Bought one bottle.

2004 Dry Creek Valley Home Ranch Estate Zinfandel: $27. Currants, raisins, peppery, a little blackberry. Strong tannins, more juicy than jammy.

2002 Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve: $50. Dark cherries, leather on the nose, fresh raspberries in the mouth. I liked this the best, but not enough to spend $50. Served with brownie covered in chocolate wine sauce.

WBW #34 Announced

Our lovely host this month will be Catie of Through the Walla Walla Grape Vine fame.

And it should come as no suprise to anyone who reads Catie’s blog that the theme is Washington State-centric. Sadly, not Walla-Walla-centric though, but I understand that it can be a bit tough to find Walla Walla wines, I personally don’t recall seeing any in my wine shops!

This month we are tasked with finding a Washington Cabernet to consume and blog about. Our entries are due to Catie by June 13, so get on the hunt for your Cabernet! You can find all the details in Catie’s post here.

Barring any other major events happening in the Wannabe Wino world, I really hope to get back on track with WBW Wednesday this month. I have so much fun participating but due to circumstances mostly beyond my control I’ve been unable to play for the last two months. My goal then for June is get back in gear!

Digging Into the New Stash Already!

I just couldn’t wait to start drinking some of the wines we brought home from Sonoma and to cure my cellar fatigue. So we hoped right in with this bottle of 2005 Passalacqua Sonoma County Zinfandel. As I’ve mentioned before, Matt and I are big Zinfandel fans and I am always on the look-out for new ones to love, and this bottle was no dissappointment.

We picked this bottle up at the winery for $25, it had a real cork closure and clocks in at 14.8% alcohol.

On the nose I found black pepper, vanilla, raspberries and strawberries. Overall, the nose had a toasty oak charcteristic. In the mouth I found blackberries, raspberries, cherries and strawberries.

Overall I would describe this wine as juicy. It is currently very smooth in the mouth and drinking really well. I wouldn’t hold this one for more than another year if you have any bottles hanging around.

I served this with pasta and tomato sauce and fresh parmesean. It was an okay match, but Zins are not my first choice for tomato based pasta sauce. I prefer a Sangiovese with my tomato sauce! I picture steaks on the grill being a future match with the other bottle I have! (We just got a grill for the new house and the weather seems perfect!)

Osteria 177

I met a friend whom I hadn’t seen in many months in Annapolis, MD recently. Neither she nor I had ever been there before, but I would definitely love to return. Many cute shops and restaurants to explore, plus a beautiful setting. We initially drove into town and saw a wine bar and were going to get lunch there, but it turned out to literally be just a wine bar. So instead we meandered back to this Italian restaurant called Osteria 177. An excellent find overall.

The atmosphere was very laid back, with high ceilings and deep colors on the walls. We got a cozy corner booth where we chatted the afternoon away over some delicious food and wine. My friend Kim ordered the whole Dover sole with white wine and caper sauce and fresh asparagus. The server highly recommended it, but it wasn’t listed on the menu. The presentation was fabulous, they actually cooked the fish whole and brought it to your table and dressed it tableside. Very cool. However, not so cool when the bill arrived and her meal was $45….everything on the menu was less than $20, so it was a huge shock. I had a delicious fresh mozzerella and prosciutto pannini ($9) and a lobster/crab bisque ($3). Both were fantastic, as was the fish. The soup was just the kind of bisque I like, very light with lots of chunks of crab and lobster. The sandwich was grilled perfectly and the prisciutto was the best I’ve had in the US.

Onto the wine. We wanted a bottle as we knew we would spend at least 3 hours or so catching up over lunch and could take our time with a bottle even though it was lunch. Kim prefers red wine, even though she was having fish so I looked for a good red. I couldn’t find anything that I thought she would like, so I asked our server for a recommendation in a price range. He said he had a Barbaresco that was not on the menu and recommended that. As I tasted it, I knew Kim would love it and took the bottle.

It was a 2003 Poderi Colla Barbaresco Roncaglia. I see you can find it here for $45.99, so the restaurant price of $60 was really not bad at all. The wine was 14% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure.

On the nose the wine showed violets, leather, dried cherries and roses. It was very aromatic and I kept going back to stick my nose in the glass. I love wines where I just can’t get enough of the aroma. In the mouth, the flavor was full, but it wasn’t a heavy wine. I thought it was very well rounded and drinking very well now. The flavors were leather, deep red fruits and cherries. Oddly enough, the wine left an impression of rose water with me. I really enjoyed this wine, though a lot can be said for the fact that I was very much enjoying the company with whom I was drinking the wine, which always adds to the experience!

Overall, the service was fantastic, the food expertly prepared and the atmosphere great. The wine list was interesting, though very pricey in comparison to the food. However, I would definitely go back and would recommend it for lunch. Just don’t be shocked if you order the Dover Sole! And, it can sometimes pay to ask for a recommendation because you can end up with something totally different!

Quivira 2004 Zinfandel

This bottle arrived in the mail in our latest Quivira club shipment (by the way, how did I not learn about wine by mail before last summer??). The wine was a 2004 Dry Creek Valley Wine Creek Ranch Quivira Zinfandel. It cost $25.50 after a discount, had a real cork closure and clocked in at 14.4% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I found blackberries, raspberries, dark cherries and undercurrents of currants (yeah, I know, poor choice of words, give me a break, it’s been a long week already and it’s only Tuesday). In the mouth I found raspberries, red fruit and cracked pepper.

In the mouth the wine had quite a bit of juicy fruit mid-palate and was a bit tannic towards the finish. I think that overall the wine was fairly young and could easily sit on my shelf for at least another year, probably a bit longer than that as well. I served the wine with my steak and risotto dish, with the sauce made from raspberry jam instead of red currant jam as I was out of red currant jam and didn’t realize it until the steaks were already cooking. The risotto only had two cheeses, the extra sharp Cabot I had in the fridge and some fresh grated parmesean. Good match for our dinner, I do like using the wine we are drinking in the sauce for the steak!