Getting on with the Bubbly

As I told you earlier this month, I’m setting “Drink more bubbly” as one of my 2010 wine goals. Why not make a random Tuesday night special by uncorking some bubbles?  In an effort to meet that goal, and to drink up some of the bubbly that’s been collecting dust in my basement, I’ve already had 4-5 bottles this month! Starting with an old friend, the NV Roederer Estate Extra Dry. I purchased this bottle at the winery almost 2 years ago, it cost me $23, clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume and had a traditional Champagne closure.

On the nose I found candle wax, apple, pear, and almost a hint of pepper. I know the Extra Dry is supposed to be on the sweeter side, but I didn’t find it overwhelmingly sweet at all in the mouth. I got pear, honey, and peach in the mouth. The wine had a long finish which ended just a little bit sweeter than I may have preferred, but nothing to turn me off. I need to make another trip to Roederer sometime very soon as this was my very last bottle of bubbly from them. (I think. Unless tomorrow I turn up something else that got hidden in a corner…)


Enchanted I say

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Milliarium Cellars.

Back in November I wrote about one of the two Pinot Noirs that Milliarium Cellars produces, the Split Rock Vineyard Pinot. In the same shipment I also received a bottle of their other Pinot Noir, the 2007 Milliarium Cellars La Encantada Pinot Noir.  These were both good bottles of Pinot Noir, but I thought this one, the La Encantada from the Santa Rita Hills just shined in my glass.  It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.3% alcohol by volume, and retails from the winery for $49.

On the nose I found cherries, strawberries, raspberries, mint, roses, flowers, spice, and cedar chest.  The red fruits showed as more prominent with the other aromas lurking in the background (that sounds a little ominous…) providing a good reason to keep my nose stuck in my glass. As if I needed more reasons to do that! In the mouth I got tart red fruit….wild fruit, like eating warm strawberries growing in your yard and raspberries straight off the bush that used to grow by my parents’ house.  I also found black cherry, spice, pepper, and violets all coming with a long finish.

Another Grape for the List

Although I checked Arneis off my list of grapes to try quite some time ago (about the same time I bought this bottle of wine) I don’t believe I ever wrote up this bottle.  Not sure why, we purchased several bottles of it, and this is the last one. I guess my thought process was “Oh, I have other bottles of this so I’ll take notes on it later.” Sometimes that works out for me…at other times I end up not writing about a wine because I drank all the bottles in the basement without taking notes, thinking there was another one down there! We purchased the 2008 Seghesio Arneis at the the winery for about $18 (I think, I didn’t save my receipt), it clocked in at 13.2% alcohol by volume, and had a screw cap closure.

On the nose I found pineapple, tropical notes, coconut, white pepper, and fresh lemon. Overall it struck me as quite tropical.  In the mouth I got tropical fruit, star fruit, pineapple, lemon and lime edges, and other citrus. We really enjoyed this as an alternative dry white wine that would be great for a hot summer’s night and some grilled fish.  As a matter of fact, that’s how all the rest of the bottle were consumed!

Step on this Stone

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Cornerstone Cellars.

I am digging the new line of wines from Cornerstone Cellars. They are reasonably priced and the varieties are interesting and fresh.  Not to mention, the wines are really good.  I’ve always enjoyed the flagstone (Cornerstone..teehee) Cabernet Sauvignons from the winery, so I’m pleased to report that the new introductory line is certainly living up to the reputation established by the winery.  This week we tried the 2007 Stepping Stone Grenache.  It retails for $20, had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 15.5% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I got bittersweet chocolate, pepper, spice, black cherry, crushed violets, flowers, anise, and strawberry. This wine had one hello of a nose…that perfumey dark fruity chocolately goodness that I like to get lost in while Matt finishes a glass before I’ve even started. In the mouth I found black cherry, raspberry, strawberry, spice, earth, and pepper. The tart fruits just popped in the mouth and slid into a juicy goodness on the back of the palate.

Last of the Lamberts

We visited Lambert Bridge Winery in Dry Creek Valley several trips ago. I think perhaps it was in 2007? Maybe even the trip before that. Anyway, because wine seems to have a habit of getting lost in our cellar, this Zinfandel escaped my notice hiding in the corner until this past week.  We opened up the 2005 Lambert Bridge Winery Ranch Block Zinfandel to go with our eye of the round roast. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.2% alcohol by volume, and cost us $30 at the winery. I’m afraid that I almost held this bottle of wine too long. If you have it, drink it up now!

On the nose I found blackberries, black currants, brown sugar, black cherry, spice, pepper, and blueberry. After almost all dark black fruits, the hint of blueberry took me by surprise! In the mouth, in contrast to the nose, I got red berries.  I also found black cherries and blueberries, with just a touch of pepper.  It was smooth and juicy and I think you should consider drinking it asap if you have any kicking around.

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!

Another One Bites the Dust

I may have mentioned (or I may have not, given that sometimes I think I’ve told people things through the wine blog and then discover I have not….senility I tell you) that when we concluded our hunt to join the Century Club (man, I really need to submit that paperwork) I wanted to start to work on my second 100 grapes. Jill over at Domaine547 was eager to help me with my new goal, and when we were out in Los Angeles in September we stopped in to her new digs (I owe you a post on that one, her new store is fabulous). Of course, a wino can’t leave a wine store without wine (sacrelig it would be) so I picked up a few bottles, including this 2007 Roussette Du Bugey Montagnieu Altesse. It had a real cork, clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, and cost me $22.

On the nose I found honeyed pear, stones, lemon, golden apple, pineapple, and tropical notes. In the mouth I got lemon, fresh pear, pineapple, golden apple, and stones. I wrote in my notes that the mineral quality in the wine reminded me of swimming in a stone quarry and getting just a spray of the water in your mouth with that chalky just slightly salty taste.  The fresh pear and lemon really dominated the palate though, giving this wine lots of life. Another great grape found on my quest to try new grapes!

$10 Riesling

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for Helfrich.

Continuing on with my Riesling tastings…mmmm, Riesling…I pulled a bottle of the 2007 Helfrich Riesling from the basement a couple weeks ago. (I’m REALLY behind on posts after my time in Portugal since I wasn’t posting anything but Portugal updates during that time! And there’s lots more Portugal to come, I just don’t have the time to write those up this very second.) The wine clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, had a screw cap closure, and I see it available online for about $10. $10 is a good value for this Riesling.

On the nose I fond lemon, flowers, gravel, prickly pear, and spice. The nose was a bit reserved.  In the mouth I got lemon, tropical notes, stones, pear, and crisp apple.  I found it to be tart with good acidity. It had just a hint of sweetness, so if you are looking for a bone dry Riesling, this is not for you. However, for $10, if you are looking for a good, everyday value wine, this would be a really good bet for you.

A Few of My Favorite Portugal Shots

Just some of my favorite shots from the trip! I’ll have some more comprehensive posts soon, but I’m still recovering from the trip and starting to prep for my new job that starts tomorrow.

Can't you just picture Druid-type priests here?

Not Druids.

Split cork tree.

The cow took off running shortly after I took this picture.

Our only sunny day, the sky was gorgeous.


Crab I would NOT want to meet in the ocean.

Moor Castle, my favorite!

Top 10 Things I Learned in Portugal

1.) Food is an event, not a means to an end.

2.) Cured meats before every meal is a tradition I can totally get behind.

3.) Wine at lunch. Need I say more?

4.) Vinho Verde is not effervescent in Portugal, at least not the 10 or so we had.

5.) If you are trying to join the Century Club, Portugal has many native grapes to help you on your way.

6.) A visit to a cork montado is a must.

7.) Even one café after dinner will keep me up all night.

8.) Eating Pasteis de Nata at Casa Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon is essential. (SO GOOD!)

9.) Multi-use agriculture is the norm.

10.) I need to return when it is sunny and soak up all the gorgeous architecture and culture.

I’ll be expanding on some of these in upcoming posts in the next weeks. Suffice it to say for the moment that I had a wonderful trip, learned a lot about Portugal, and very much enjoyed our hosts at Enoforum Wines.