I Can Read

Coming off the heels of my most recent California trip, I want to talk about a thing or two I find extremely annoying in tasting rooms.  And this happens when I wander in just as a regular old visitor and when I come in for a pre-arranged tour/visit as a wine blog writer.  I think it irritates me more because I’m not there to get drunk and not buy any of your wine. In fact, quite the opposite.  I spit everything I taste and I take copious notes about what I’m tasting.

I always have a note book open and I begin actively taking notes the second I walk into a tasting rooms.  This is even more true when I’ve pre-arranged a visit or you’ve invited me to come visit because of this wine blog.  As I taste, I take lots of notes and I ask lots of questions.  Please, please, please…stop telling me what I should taste or smell in your wine.  I understand the point of this, but know your audience.  Especially when your PR folks have set up a visit or you’ve invited me to come in for a visit…don’t tell me what to taste.  It just irritates me and puts me in a bad mood.  If I really want to regurgitate your tasting notes, I can read them on the tasting sheet.

Which brings me to my next point.  And again, this particularly irks me when I am there because you invited me due to this wine blog.  I don’t care what Parker, the Spectator, or any other critic rated your wine.  I’d like to taste it and come to my own conclusions thank you very much.  Also, this information is usually splashed all over your tasting notes…so if I want it, I have it at my fingertips.  And I can read.

Ultimately, I think the goal is to know your audience.  Someone taking notes probably doesn’t want you to spout off a string of aromas and flavors that your tasting sheet says are in the wine.  Someone who is coming to your winery on a personal invitation because they review wine probably doesn’t really care what other critics rated your wine.  In my case, I’m infinitely more interested in the history of the winery, the range of wines produced, where your vineyards are, etc.  Tell me a story and I’m a hooked.

WBW 57- California Inspiration

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Yes folks, it is once again that time of month–Wine Blogging Wednesday!  Our host this month is Jeff of Good Grape.  In honor of the first anniversary of the passing of Robert Mondavi, a legend in his own right and certainly a “California wine inspiration,” Jeff tasked us with picking our own California Inspiration.  A California wine that made us sit up and take notice, that inspired us. You can read all the details here.

When I first read the assignment, I jumped for joy.  This would be easy.  California was my wine inspiration.  It moved me away from straight Riesling and mostly white wines and into the deep dark world of red wines.  Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Syrah enticed me…and from there…Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mourvedre….just a long downward spiral that resulted in…at last count about 300ish bottles of red wine in my basement.

Then I actually sat down to try to figure out what wine to try and write about.  I thought about the wine that made my head turn.  But I couldn’t pinpoint it to a specific wine.  As I’ve written before, my first red wine love, which came from California, is Zinfandel.  I couldn’t and can’t get enough of it.  There’s more Zin in my basement than any other variety.  It’s too obvious though. I’ve written that story before. So I decided to tell a different story. Of how love and wine are so intermingled in my mind that I often have trouble separating the two.  My husband and I fell in love sharing bottles of wine over movies together in college, over dinners where we splurged and went to the fancy steakhouse and ordered a bottle of wine, and over weekends spent together where the usual long distance (close to 1200 miles) didn’t seem too far as long as we had some laughs and some wine, particularly one where a hurricane and no power for 5 days wasn’t so bad since we had plenty of wine, candles, and Scrabble.

On our honeymoon.

On our honeymoon.

We eventually headed to Sonoma for our honeymoon. It was there we first discovered the real joy of visiting vineyards (though we’d been to many through the years in other states) and red wine.  It is that trip that inspired my choice for this WBW.  When we got married, I was just over 2 weeks out from taking the bar exam, I’d moved my stuff 3 hours north to what would be our new apartment, and I was burnt out in every possible sense of the expression.  For once in my life, I didn’t micro-manage, and I didn’t really plan. I figured, we were headed to Sonoma, there simply was no way the trip could go wrong.  And I was right.  We knew pretty much nothing other than the fact that we really liked wine and we had a cute B&B to stay at.  And that was fine with me.  I chose this particular wine, not because of the actual wine, but because of the producer. It is one we’ve returned time and again to visit, always enjoying the wines, joining the club, and consistently buying futures. Our first visit in 2006 probably could be credited with our love of red wine as it was the first place we bought red on the trip (granted, it was only our second stop of the very first day…!).

I’m speaking of David Coffaro, a winery you’ve seen frequently on these pages.  While we didn’t have any of the 2003 Terre Melange or the 2005 My Zin left that we purchased on our honeymoon trip, we did just receive our case of 2007 futures this fall.  So I chose a bottle from that collection.  It didn’t really matter which bottle I chose. For me, this WBW isn’t really about that one singular wine–it can’t be. Wine, and particularly California wine, is the story of my adult years, and an integral part of the 8 years Matt and I have been together.  From the nearly 500 bottles of wine in our basement (about 80% California!) to the cork board made of corks in our kitchen to this wine blog that was entirely inspired by small California wineries, it’s difficult to extract wine from the whole.

I eventually decided on the 2007 David Coffaro Estate Cuvée.  You can read my quick initial assessment of this wine here.  It had a screw cap closure, cost us $17 at the future price, and clocked in at 15.3% alcohol by volume.  The wine is a blend of 33% Zinfandel, 33% Spicy Cabernet, 25% Carignan, and 9% Peloursin.

On the nose I found smoky aromas, followed by chocolate, anise, blackberries, black cherry, campfire, brown sugar, cranberry, and pencil shavings.  On the initial attack, the wine showed all fresh rip sun kissed blackberries as I poured it into my glass.  In the mouth I got black fruit, black cherries, blackberries, spice, pepper, star anise, cranberry, red raspberries, and chocolate on the finish.  I kept remarking all night about how fresh and juicy the fruit on this wine showed.  I loved it.  We have two more bottles in our basement, and while they might have some room left to mellow a bit more, I’m loving the way it was drinking now.  Matt and I were each eying the bottle, not wanting to miss out on our share!

In the end, California wine inspired me.  While I always enjoyed experimenting with new wines, before our California trip I remained solidly in the “I prefer white wines” camp.  It turns out, I just wasn’t drinking the right red wines.  In California, I found a world of possibilities…producers who made tiny lots of parcel specific Zinfandels, blends with everything and the kitchen sink, and new grapes I hadn’t yet fallen in love with, but can’t imagine not having access to now.

Many thanks to Jeff of Good Grape for the theme, and I hope you don’t mind the liberties I’ve taken with it! And as always, a virtual tip of the hat to our founder Lenn over at Lenndevours.  Looking forward to seeing the round up on this theme and I will notify you when it’s up!