Coolest Tasting Room Ever

At the very end of the second day of the Wine Blogger Conference, my bus loaded up with the rowdy crowd and we made our way to Conn Creek for dinner.  I’d never heard of Conn Creek before, but honest to Bacchus they have the coolest tasting room ever.  The entire room is lined with wine barrel.  Most have Cabernet Sauvignon from the various appellations in Napa, but others have blending elements such as Petite Verdot.  Each barrel has a tap and is outfitted with an interior balloon system that inflates as wine is removed.  You get to play with all the wines and make your own blends!  I understand you have to call ahead to go to this special tasting room, and there is a fee, but it’s so much fun and so different that it would be a great experience that differs entirely from the normal tasting room visit.

We had dinner at Conn Creek (my favorite was the dessert) and enjoyed wines from Conn Creek, Napa Valley Farms, and Cornerstone Cellars.  Wow did I get a lot of Cornerstone Cellars on this trip, lucky me! I still have a tasting at Cornerstone Cellars new tasting room that we went to after WBC to tell you about!

2008 Conn Creek Sauvignon Blanc: Melon, grapefruit, lemon, white pepper, tart, acidic, tropical notes, orange zest, stone fruits, crisp, easy drinking, white flowers.

2006 Napa Valley Farms Viognier: Floral, aromatic, white flowers, stone fruit, soapy, tropical notes, orange blossoms.

2005 Napa Valley Farms Syrah: Smoky, licorice, vanilla cream, plums, some herbal qualities, violets, red fruit, tannins, smooth fruit.

2006 Conn Creek Cabernet Franc: Strawberry, bright red fruit, raspberry, spice, tannins.

2001 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Napa Cabernet Sauvignon: Vanilla cream, blackberry, spice, herbs, soft fruit, smooth , integrated, pepper, some red fruit showing on the edges.

2005 Napa Valley Farms Cabernet Sauvignon: A little funk, leather, earth, dirt, mint, eucalyptus, strawberry.


In Defense of a Fence

The Offensive Fence

The Offensive Fence

This post has absolutely nothing to do with wine. At all. Other than the fact that it has me completely preoccupied and as a result I’ve been shirking my wine related duties. Sorry to all who need stuff from me right now, hopefully after this morning I will be able to focus on all the wine blog happenings I need to tend to but until then….As many of you have seen over the last 6 months, I’ve been Tweeting and Facebooking about my fence.  My county wants me to remove a fence that’s been on the property for 20+ years before I bought the place.  I don’t want to.  Today is my hearing to save my fence!

So wish me luck, and if all goes well, my attention will refocus on wine.

Don’t Cry for me Argentina

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Bin Ends Wine in order to participate in Twitter Taste Live.

You knew I’d have to go for the cheesy title at some point, right? I can’t resist! Especially since this is the fifth Argentinian wine I’ve written up…I’m surprised I held off this long. I don’t usually have that much restraint when it comes to the cheese factor.  I believe this was the last wine of the evening…it was the darkest, though one of the lightest in terms of alcohol content.  The 2006 Michel Torino Don David Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon clocked in at 13.9% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure.

On the nose I got spice, pepper, black fruit, pepper, black plum, black currants, black cherry, earth, raisins, peppers, and chocolate.  I thought the nose was fruity and very very peppery. As it sat in my glass, more layers appeared.  In the mouth I found tart sour cherries, blackberry, cherry, spice, tart fruit, and earth.  I had hope this would be a bit more complex in the mouth given the depth of the nose, but I think it might just be young as it had tons of tannins and dried my tongue out.

More Torrontes!

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Bin Ends Wine in order to participate in Twitter Taste Live.

The Argentinian wines are invading my wine blog! This is the 4th in a series of wines from Argentina that I tasted during Twitter Taste Lives sponsored by the trade group Wines of Argentina.  Next month is Wines of Germany, which promises to be much fun too!  One of the Torrontes on the first night was the 2008 Michel Torino Torrontes Reserve Don David.  It had a real cork closure and clocked in at 13.9% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I got pineapple, white flowers, apricots, tropical notes, honey, pear, lemon, spice, and white pepper.  The nose on Torrontes wines is almost immediately recognizable…the florals and honey notes just float out of the glass without you having to get close to it.  In the mouth I found lemon, orange zest, lemon zest, pineapple, and lime. This wine had great acidity and I found it to be a really good effort.

Pie Pie Pie

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Bin Ends Wine in order to participate in the Twitter Taste Live.

Oh yes folks, I promised lots of Argentina and here’s some more! Hope you aren’t tired yet cause I found some real winners among the Argentinian wines, and this is one of them! I have no idea why I never really explored Argentina before for good bargain wines…between Chile and Argentina, it appears South America is primed to take over the bargain $10-$20 sweet spot for wines.  We had another Malbec for the first Twitter Taste Live, the 2007 Bodega Colomé Malbec Estate.  It had a real cork closure and weighed in at 15% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I got blueberry, blueberry crumble, cream, white pepper, crushed violets, black cherry, and boysenberry.  I want my next pie to smell like the nose of this wine.  In the mouth, I found it to be almost Syrah like.  I found black plum, black cherry, more blueberry crumble, pepper, blueberry, boysenberry, earth, and a little anise.  It had a long finish with some tannins hanging out on the end.  YUM!

Lemon Pledge in my Glass

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Bin Ends Wine in order to participate in Twitter Taste Live.

As I mentioned yesterday, you’ll be seeing lots of Argentinian wines around yee old wine blog for the next few weeks. I think I have around 20 to write up at this point after participating in 4 Argentina Twitter Taste Lives. I love Twitter Taste Live, it’s so much fun to taste along with many of my favorite wine bloggers and compare notes instantly! One of the first Torrontes we tasted was the 2008 Bodega Colomé Torrontes.  It weighed in at 13% alcohol by volume and had a plastic cork closure.

On the nose I got pineapple, white flowers, honeysuckle, orange zest, fresh pear, and white pepper. In the mouth I found jasmine, lemon, tropical fruit, honeysuckle, and grapefruit.  Oh yes, and the lemon Pledge…or what I would imagine lemon Pledge would taste like if I were so inclined to drink it.  The wine seemed very perfumey in the mouth and while it had tart aspects, I mostly found it oily.

Diving into Argentina

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample form Bin Ends Wine in order to participate in the Twitter Taste Live.

For the last month, I’ve spent my Wednesday evenings having an affair with Argentinian wines. The theme for Twitter Taste Live all this month has been wines from Argentina.  In the past I haven’t had many wines from Argentina, so I was excited to spend this month getting to know them a little better.  You’ll be seeing a ton of Argentinian wines around the wine blog in the next few weeks as I finally get around to writing my reviews.  The first wine I want to tell you about is the 2008 Bodegas Etchart Reserve Malbec. It had a real cork closure and weighed in at 14% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I got espresso, bittersweet chocolate, herbs, spice, pepper, dark black fruit, plums, apple cider (yea, I realize that’s odd and out of place), earth, cloves, wood. I said in my notes “this smells like Christmas!”  In the mouth I found black cherry, black plum, tart fruit, almost some red fruit on the edges, pepper, spice, earth, and tobacco. The palate on this wine was TOTALLY different from the nose! I enjoyed it though.

Another Grand Tasting

On the second day of the Wine Blogger Conference, we attended a few sessions at various wineries including the one I told you about at Cuvaison. Mid-afternoon we headed to Quintessa for the Napa Grand Tasting. This event happened in the tank room at Quintessa, with wineries lining up between each row of tanks. I barely made it through the first row…I like to actually talk to people about the wines rather than a quick sip and spit and moved on.  I heard I missed lots of other good wines, but that’s ok, I enjoyed the ones I did taste and I liked talking to the people from the various wineries. I also didn’t really get any pictures….it was crowded and I already had a notebook, pen, informational materials, and my glass in my hands. I only have 4 hands at times it seems!

2007 Quintessa Illumination:nutty, lemon, melon, citrus, tart, herbs, grass, little green pepper, white pepper.

2006 Elizabeth Spencer Napa Cabernet Sauvignon: Black cherry, black plum, black berries, pepper, flowers, spice, tannins, vanilla, licorice.

2006 Ehlers Estate 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon: Black cherry tart, spice, leather, pepper, meaty, vanilla cream, black plums, blackberry, spice.

2006 Duckhorn Napa Merlot: Spicy, black pepper, black plums, tart cherry fruit, acidity, nice fruit.

2006 Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignon: Black fruit, earth, tight, leather, vanilla, spice, tart fruit.

1996 Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignon: Brick red. Dirt, earth, spicy, anise, pepper, peppers, red fruit, raspberries, still nice structure with some tannins left.

2005 Conn Creek Anthology: Cabernet Sauvignon heavy blend with Merlot, Malbec, Petite Verdot, and Cabernet Franc rounding it out. Spicy black fruit, peppery, lots of pepper, peppers, chocolate, nice smooth integrated fruit, blackberry, black plum.

2005 Clark Claudon Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: Nice creamy black nose, black cherries, blackberries, spice, roses, flowers, licorice, really nice fruit.

2006 Charnu Cabernet Sauvignon: Spicy, coffee, blackberry, fruit, anise, dusty milk chocolate, herbs, really smooth and well integrated, chewy tannins on the finish with a hint of red berries.

2006 Diamond Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon: Lots of milk chocolate, black cherry, blackberries, espresso, black licorice, black currants, pepper, nice fruit.

2006 Gargiulo Cabernet Sauvignon: Pepper, dark chocolate, black fruit, violets, spice, tart, long finish, tight, brigh blackberry, red fruit on the finish, anise, herbs.

2006 Grigich Hills Chardonnay: Pear peach, stone fruit, spice, vanilla, spice, peach, tart fruit, nice finish.

2006 Quintessa Cabernet Blend Napa Valley Red Wine: spicy, red fruit, plum, red berries, tannins, smooth finish.

All in all, a nice tasting….I just needed another hour or two to even make a dent in the wines available. Ah well, just an excuse for me to go back to Napa and taste around a bit more. I only managed to get two tables into the second row of wineries, though I did get through the whole first row. Some folks seemed to jump around the room but it seemed less efficient to me to do that than to just move up and down the rows. Thanks to the Napa Valley Vintners for hosting us! It looked like there were some nice food displats too, but who has time to eat when there’s wine to be tasted? 🙂

High Rollers

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Sort This Out Cellars

On my weekend of wine disasters, I had two successes…the J. Keverson Zinfandel and the 2007 Sort This Out Cellars Zin City Old Vine Zinfandel Rollers Reserve.  Apparently I should have just stuck with Zinfandel all weekend and I wouldn’t have had to dump anything! The Rollers Reserve Zin clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and retails for around $34. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed the wines from Sort This Out Cellars so far…I have a couple more hanging around the basement yet to try too!

On the nose I got cedar, pepper, smoke, spice, black cherry, cranberry, and brown sugar.  In the mouth I found black cherry, spice, pepper, tart fruit, cranberry, pomegranate, and milk chocolate. Overall, the wine had nice structure and acidity, with some tannins on the back palate holding it altogether.  This is the second Zin in a row I’ve had that’s shown more red fruit and is more restrained than jammy or in your face. I’m digging it!

Goldilocks Finds Her Wine

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from J. Keverson Wines.

This one is too small, this one is too big, this one is just right! After opening 5 bottles of wine and finding none to my liking, I gave up on whites and Rosés and decided a Zinfandel would do the trick. Zin almost always puts me in a better mood since it’s one of my favorite grapes…so I pulled a bottle from the sample pack that J. Keverson sent and I wasn’t disappointed!  The wine was the 2006 J. Keverson Hales Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Old Vine Zinfandel.  It clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and retails for $30.

On the nose I found cedar cranberry, pepper, smoke, boysenberry, pomegranate, chocolate, red fruit, and cherry. Loved the nose!  The wine followed through in the mouth showing tons of red fruit.  I got cherry, cranberry, red raspberry, pomegranate, cedar, and juicy red fruit.  Overall, the wine was smooth with nice acidity. It’s a light bodied Zin, so if you are looking for a restrained Zin with lots of red fruit that would be great with your pizza, this one is for you!