Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pinot Gris

I plucked a bottle of the 2006 Navarro Pinot Gris out of the basement for the evening. We drank this on its own after dinner, as is our modus operandi these days given the nature of our schedules, no time to chill a white wine before we eat, so we end up drinking it mostly after dinner or at the very tail end of our meal. I picked this bottle up when we visited Navarro this spring, it cost me $18, clocked in at 13.4% alcohol by volume, and had a real cork closure.

The first thing I noticed about the wine happened to be the very pale straw color. I really liked the way this wine looked in the glass. On the nose I found aromas of melon, lemon (ooooh, anagrams), lime, honeydew, orange blossom, and citrus. I wanted to jump in and swim in the glass based on the aroma alone. In the mouth I got flavors of grapefruit, lemon, citrus, green apple, and wet stone.

Overall, I thought the wine had a great mineral characteristic. In the mouth, I found it to be tart, dry, and refreshing, with good acidity. I’d serve this with a light white fish in place of my normal choice of Sauvignon Blanc.

PS-How are you finding my attempt at two pictures of each bottle? I’ve been trying it out for a couple of weeks now.


Bob Gets Twisted

When Bob saw we were drinking wine from Twisted Oak, he had to jump into the picture! We drank the 2004 Twisted Oak Calaveras County Syrah on it’s own the other night, but I’d certainly suggest pairing it with some nice bratwurst or bbq ribs! It clocked in at 14.2% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and cost me $24 in a club shipment.

On the nose I found lots of berries! Blackberries, spice, vanilla, cream, plums, and other dark fruits dominated the nose. I could smell my glass before I even raised it to my nose, very aromatic. In the mouth I got flavors of blackberries, raspberries, spice, vanilla, and undertones of other red fruits. The fruit showed quite tart and fresh, I found it very tart for a red wine.

Overall, the wine is nice and smooth at this point and is drinking very well. I’m sure you could keep it around for a bit longer, but if you plan to have any end of the season bbqs, I’m sure your guests would love for you to open up any you have hanging around!

Tasty, but pricey.

The wine for the evening came from a club shipment, the 2004 Marimar Estate Christina Pinot Noir, Don Miguel Vineyard. It cost me $39, clocked in at 14% alcohol, and had a real cork closure. The wine is unfiltered, which translated to lots of sediment. If you are going to drink it, I would definitely recommend decanting it to get rid of the sediment.

On the nose, the flavors appeared very tight at first, not giving up a hint of the wine within. We intended to drink this with dinner, but it took a good hour or so in the glass to open up. After it did, I got aromas of strawberries, oak, spice, leather, raspberries, cherry coke, vanilla, and baking spice. In the mouth I found red berries, cherries, raspberries, sour cherries, and coke.

The wine showed darked in the mouth than I expected, the flavors were deep, but ultimately I would describe the fruit as quite tart. The finish disappointed a bit, it feel off quickly. The wine also had some tannins, so perhaps it wasn’t quite ready to drink. Cellartracker said starting in 2007, but take that for what it’s worth. A bit out of my everyday price range as well, which is one of the reasons we are no longer members of this club!

…And the Kitchen Sink

We’re all in the mood for a me…wait, that’s melody, not the 2005 Acorn Vineyards Medley, our wine for the night. The wine hails from the Alegria Vineyards and literally contains every grape and the kitchen sink. For starters, it cost us $28 at the winery, clocks in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and is closed with a a real cork. Now the grapes…no percentages, but at a minimum, it’s got a bit of: Zinfandel, Syrah, Cinsaut, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Mourvedre, Viognier, and 6 Muscat varieties. Is that ever a blend or what? In the glass, the showed black as ink, with just a little tinge of redness around the edges.

On the nose I found sweet dark fruit, blackberries, vanilla, spice, cream, cedar, oak, cherry, and plum. I loved the nose and had to drag myself away from it lest Matt finish the wine before I even got a chance to taste it. In the mouth I got most red fruit. The wine showed cherries, very tart cherries, perhaps bing cherries?, baking spice, raisins, and dried orange peel.

Overall, the wine seemed well intergrated, though the tannins indicated that it has some time left to age on it. For Matt, the Medley represented the wine of the trip. Acorn limits you to buying 3 bottles at a time, and we bought all 3 that they let us. We’ll let the other 2 mature a but more in the basement before we crack open another one!

Thanksgiving Wines, Already

The wine for the evening arrived on my doorstep via a WineQ shipment, coming from a vineyard I’ve now tried a few times with great results, the 2004 Hannah Nicole Fume Blanc. I purchased the bottle for $14.99 (free shipping!) from WineQ, it clocked in at 14.65% alcohol by volume (can’t say I ever remember an alcohol content being brought out to the 2nd decimal place before), and had a real cork closure. The wine hails from Contra Costa County, CA.

On the nose I found cream, peach, apple, pineapple, vanilla, orange blossom, spice, and a touch of oak. In the mouth I got flavors of orange, pineapple, grapefruit, other citrus, and cream. I’m not usually a Fume Blanc fan, to be honest. I tend to find them overoaked, but this version may make me a convert! The fruits showed through as clean and crisp, and overall the wine was dry. It had great balance and acidity, I’d actually consider this as a Thanksgiving wine. (Wow, it’s that time of year already, isn’t it? I’ve already got people arriving to the blog via Thanksgiving search terms….scary.)

Tongue Twister(ed)

*Disclaimer: I received this bottle as a sample from Twisted Oak Winery

Arr me mateys! A little late, but in honor of National Talk Like a Pirate Day (this past Friday) we drank this terrifying looking bottle of wine. The wine is the 2006 Twisted Oak River of Skulls. It’s a special allocation only wine available only from Twisted Oak, made of 90% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.9% alcohol by volume, and is running about $29 in the allocation notice I got for being a Twisted Few member, but I’m not sure what it will cost if any is made available to non-Twisted Few members…..

My first thought on sniffing the wine, after sorting through individual aromas, popped into my head as: this smells like blackberries wrapped in leather grilled with baking spice then dusted with star anise. Individually I found blackberries, spice, black cherry, vanilla, earth, baking spice, fresh herbs, plums, tobacco, and something slightly meaty.

In the mouth, I got blackberry, black cherry, black currants, spice, plums, and star anise. The mouth came through as fruitier than the nose (or literally in the nose, as I accidentally put my nose a little too far into the glass and got a snootful!). The fruit showed as tart, like a blackberry plum crumble (I’m sure there isn’t such a thing, I’m clearly just making stuff up at this point) with just the slightest hint of sweetness.

Overall, I thought the wine had the tannins to show it through years to come and I will definitely be sitting (figuratively folks!) on my second bottle for a few years to see how this develops. Skulls is dark and brooding and would love to be paired with your next pig roast.

Are You Hungry?

Well, if you aren’t now, you will be after you read this book! My inlaws sent the book Passion on the Vine by Sergio Esposito to me as a birthday gift this year. I read it, as has been my m.o. lately, on a business trip, one of many I’ve taken this year.

I love Italian food, and I think Italian wine is pretty damn good too. I grew up with a tiny little Italian grandma who made her own pasta, served us plates of sauce drenched meat with every meal, and made the best baked ziti I’ve ever had.

Passion on the Vine details the life and times of the author and his family, following them from their home in Italy to a new, unfamiliar life in Albany where they did not know the language and the food was dull and processed in comparison to what the family meals in Italy. Sergio truly grew up with wine as a part of daily life, and it followed him into his adult profession, first opening a liquor store with his father and brother, then as a sales man for wine distributor, and eventually to opening his own specialty wine shop.

My favorite part of the book (and really the vast majority of it) accompanies Sergio and his family, including his wife, children, and parents, on a trip across Italy, as Sergio discovers new wines, eats delicious meals, and ultimately comes across a bottle of wine like he has never had before.

I drooled over the descriptions of the multi-course meals prepared with care, over the wine consumed with them, and was jealous over his adventures at various Italian wineries. The book made me want to go scoop up as many native Italian varieties as possible and cook up delicious cuisine to go with them. A great easy to read book for my many (sadly domestic) business travels!

Can You Pronounce This?

The wine for the evening happened to have a very strange name, the 2006 Navarro Edelzwicker. We picked this bottle up at the winery on our March Sonoma trip, it cost $12, had a real cork closure and clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume. Navarro bills the wine as “Mendocino Table Wine,” and it’s a blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris.

In the glass, the wine displayed a pale yellow color, which unfortunately, you can’t see from my photo. Even though I got a new camera, I’m still working on the settings and actually taking good photos. Perhaps I should just give up and accept the fact that as a photographer, I suck.

On the nose I found perfume, spice, flowers, some underlying citrus, and 7-Up. Really, I said to Matt, “This wine smells like grapes.” No, I don’t mean to suggest it smells like the folks over at Smells Like Grape, though it could, I’ll let you know after the Wine Blogger Conference as I’m sharing a room with Taster B. In the mouth I got flavors of lemon, lime, (so really, if I knew what 7-Up tasted like, this might be it in wine form), flowers, honey, and a touch of spice. The flavors and body of the wine were quite light, though it did have just a hint of a creamy texture. Overall, an excellent bargain for the price.

Living Part of My Dream

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher as a sample.

I make no bones about the fact that I want to buy a vineyard and make wine. I know I’ve never done anything of the sort, but hey, it’s just a pipe dream, so I can wistfully think about it. Plus, I’ve recently discovered that I actually have a green thumb. But that’s it, I dream of giving up my life in the city and moving to the country to start a new vineyard or buy one that’s already there. Probably not likely to ever happen, so now I just drink the fruits of other peoples’ labors.

The book is Seasons Among the Vines: Life Lessons from the California Wine Country by Paula Moulton. Paula and her family picked up and moved from San Francisco to Sonoma County to start new lives as grape growers. They purchased a property that already had acres of land, and her husband kept his job in the city, leaving the grape growing and tending of the family and home mostly to Paula.

Seasons Among the Vines literally had me laughing out loud. The story is peppered with vignettes of the trials and successes of starting life as a farmer. I laughed as a cow came to call the vines home for a period, and was sad as the family fought in the first years over the inevitable troubles of owning a vineyard.

The book is interspersed with short sections on the technicalities of vine-growing, choosing your root stock, methods of training vines, etc. However, if you aren’t interested in learning about how to prep your vineyard for the winter, it’s easy to skip over these sections and get back to the story.

As with some other wine books I’ve read recently, I found myself rooting for the success of this family, against the improbable odds: coming from the city, knowing nothing about growing grapes of farming in general, and adjusting to life in a very new and different place. Ultimately, an easy read and a touching, personal story.

Tasting Live on Twitter!

In just 2 short days, I will be co-hosting the 3rd edition of the Bin Ends Wine Twitter Tasting Live. This month, we are tasting wines from one of my favorite wineries, Michel Schlumberger. I just had the chance to stop by Michel Schlumberger on Thursday (more about that later) to pick up the wines for the tasting, and to taste through them, of course, and everything is drinking wonderfully. I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks of the wines!

Bin Ends has set up a host site to archive all the tasting notes and questions that we ask of Michel Schlumberger. You can join here, at Twitter Taste Live. If you type “#ttl” without the quotes, your tweets will show up on the live feed! You can also see all the profiles of everyone participating and click on our Twitter IDs to follow us live on Thursday, 7pm est.

I hope to see you all on Twitter this Thursday! There’s still time to pick up the wines at one of your local wine shops, we’d love to have you join even if you can only find one of the bottles!