WBW #43-Comfort Wines

First off, a hearty congratulations to our host for this month, Joel, of Wine Life Today. He and his wife welcomed a brand new baby girl to their family last Thursday, so I can only imagine how hectic things are in their house at the moment! But wine life lover that he is, Joel is pushing forward as our host for this month!

WBW was created well over three years ago now, by Lenn of Lenndevours. The idea is that once a month, bloggers and often non bloggers will come together around a wine theme and all drink a bottle that matches the theme criteria and post about it. Every month is hosted by a different blog, whose owner picks the theme and will do a round up of the posts after the event is over.

This month, Joel set us to an interesting and thought provoking theme for me. He asked us to pick a wine that is a comfort wine for us. Something that we love to drink, that lets us relax, and perhaps invokes something in us that makes the wine and experience special.

The theme required a bit of thought on my part. I love wine. All of it, even the bottles that aren’t particularly memorable, or are even bad. I love the ritual of wine, of slicing off the foil, pulling the cork, sniffing the bottle, and pouring the first glass. Having a glass of wine with my dinner is part of of my life, and I often think my meal is not complete without that glass of wine to complement it, and more importantly, to take that glass and finish it as I settle in for the evening before heading to bed. See, we don’t spend much time at home in the evening. Our day begins well before we leave the house at 5 til 7 and we don’t often return until 7pm or later. By the time I get dinner on the table and we sit down, it’s often 8pm or later.

Wine is an almost daily part of our lives, so picking just one that is a comfort wine, that lets us relax, is hard to do. It could literally be any wine in my cellar.

I finally thought, well, what wine evokes good memories for me, puts a smile on my face, and almost always puts me in a good mood? And when I asked myself that, it wasn’t a single wine, but a kind of wine.

Zinfandel. Zinfandel was the first red wine I fell head over heels for. It never fails to entice me with its berries and cream, spice, vanilla, jam, or juice. And it holds a special place in my heart, as the first time I ever had Zinfandel was on our honeymoon in Sonoma. The first Zinfandel I ever had was was from David Coffaro, a winery I hope to return to this spring. That one is long gone, so I thought about another winery from our honeymoon, and from a more recent trip, that also brings an instant smile to my mind.

And that wine comes from Nelson Family Vineyards and is their 2005 Estate Zinfandel. Nelson Vineyards is a great little family run winery where you are more than likely to run into a family member pouring wines in the tasting room. On our honeymoon, we were driving back from Mendocino and Matt said I could pick one winery to stop at that day (it was supposed to be a non-wine day, which it was until that point!). I don’t know what drew me to Nelson, but I quickly put on my blinker and turned down the road leading up to the tasting room. We walked up to the tasting room to find a very enthusiastic winery dog, and the winemaker, Chris Nelson, pouring the wine. I instantly loved the Orange Muscat, and signed us up for the wine club. We have subsequently returned to Nelson Family Vineyards to participate in their Barn Blending Party, where we had an excellent time playing winemaker for the day!

So the wine cost us $18.40 in a club shipment, had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 15.7% alcohol by volume. I don’t so much think the point of this WBW is the tasting notes on the wine, but more the way the wine makes you feel, and why it helps you unwind. But I won’t pass up the opportunity to give you tasting notes! The nose showed fresh berries, spice, and vanilla. It was really juicy. In the mouth dark juicy berries dominated, with more notes of vanilla and allspice. The wine is very approachable now, smooth, juicy, and drinking wonderfully.

And there goes my last bottle of Zinfandel from Nelson Family Vineyards. We are getting a new club shipment in April, so I will look forward to more wines from one of my favorite small family producers. I only wish the barn party this year coincided with Easter again!

Many thanks to Joel for hosting, and I look forward to what everyone decided to open for the WBW. As always, I will post a link to the round up when it’s posted!

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Sweet Nectar of Bacchus

I love this wine. And I am not one for sweet wines. But I absolutely adored this bottle of wine when we bought it (the last bottle available at the winery!) and can’t wait to drink more of the 2006 either. The wine in question is a 2005 Nelson Family Vineyards Orange Muscat.

We picked this bottle up at the vinyard, where it cost us $16.18 (that’s with a club discount), clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and had a real cork closure.

The aroma of the wine is very perfumed. I found scents of flowers, honey, orange blossom, and lemon zest. I could smell this bottle of wine for hours. In the mouth the wine is sweet, but has the acidity to hold the sweetness in check. I found orange, mandarins, lemons, and honeysuckle. The citrus really gives the wine body and makes it a great after dinner sipping wine. A great value.

Fire Roaring

I don’t normally associate Riesling with a wine I would drink while sitting in front of the fireplace, but that is exactly what we did. At least I get a little credit for serving a hearty cheese fondue in front of said fire, which is why we needed a white wine!

Riesling is what started my love affair with wine, but I haven’t seen a lot of it coming out of California. I gather the growing conditions aren’t exactly ideal and it works better in colder climates. But there are some wineries who dabble with it in CA, and Nelson Family Vineyards is one.

We purchased this bottle of 2005 Nelson Family Vineyards Riesling for around $17 when we were visiting Sonoma in 2006. It started to occur to me the other night that I probably want to clear out the remaining few older white wines that are hanging around in my cellar. It had a real cork closure and clocked in at 12.1% alcohol, with only 184 cases made.

On the nose the wine displayed honey, lemon, and orange blossoms. It smelled sweet. In the mouth I found honey with a bit of a citrus twinge, lemon, and orange blossoms. The wine was quite smooth and I’m glad we decided to haul it out of the basement, I’m not sure how much longer it would have been okay down there. This was a very different Riesling, probably, in my opinion, due to the fact that it was grown in CA. It did have the floral and citrus that I expect from a Riesling, but it wasn’t the dry wine that I’ve come to expect from this grape.

Fire Roaring

I don’t normally associate Riesling with a wine I would drink while sitting in front of the fireplace, but that is exactly what we did. At least I get a little credit for serving a hearty cheese fondue in front of said fire, which is why we needed a white wine!

Riesling is what started my love affair with wine, but I haven’t seen a lot of it coming out of California. I gather the growing conditions aren’t exactly ideal and it works better in colder climates. But there are some wineries who dabble with it in CA, and Nelson Family Vineyards is one.

We purchased this bottle of 2005 Nelson Family Vineyards Riesling for around $17 when we were visiting Sonoma in 2006. It started to occur to me the other night that I probably want to clear out the remaining few older white wines that are hanging around in my cellar. It had a real cork closure and clocked in at 12.1% alcohol, with only 184 cases made.

On the nose the wine displayed honey, lemon, and orange blossoms. It smelled sweet. In the mouth I found honey with a bit of a citrus twinge, lemon, and orange blossoms. The wine was quite smooth and I’m glad we decided to haul it out of the basement, I’m not sure how much longer it would have been okay down there. This was a very different Riesling, probably, in my opinion, due to the fact that it was grown in CA. It did have the floral and citrus that I expect from a Riesling, but it wasn’t the dry wine that I’ve come to expect from this grape.

Barn Blend

We finally drank our bottle of the 2006 Nelson Family Vineyards Barn Blend! This came in a club shipment in April, but I somehow neglected it. Matt and I were lucky enough to attend the barn blending party this year, you can see me playing mad winemaker in the picture below, but we unfortunately did not win. My love of Zinfandel led me to encourage my table to concoct a Zin heavy blend, while the two finalists were Cabernet Sauvignon heavy. As was the previous year’s winner.

The 2006 was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel, in order from greatest to least, though I either didn’t record the exact percentages or they weren’t available. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.8% alcohol by volume and cost us $18.40.

On the nose I found currants, earth, leather, saddle room, spice, and cloves. And interesting mix and a complex nose that kept showing more as it aired. In the mouth the wine has mellowed from our tasting at the Barn Blend Party, but it still has it tannins. I found leather, berries, currants, cloves, and a hint of red raspberries. Overall the wine was very dark and I enjoyed it a lot now, it seems to have settled a bit and is coming into its own. A good value for a red blend!

Tasting and Reporting Again!

The wine of the evening, after we came home from dinner was a 2006 Nelson Pinot Grigio. A great bottle of wine for a hot summer evening’s sipping. I can’t find a picture that I took of this one, but that might be because I cleaned my camera out in order to take many photos of a wedding we attended last weekend.

On the nose of this bottle I found lemon, honeysuckle, figs, and wet stones. In the mouth I would describe the wine as minerally, with figs and some citrus. Overall the wine was smooth and had excellent structure. As they sometimes do, my notes say “yum.”

The wine came in a club shipment and cost us $12. At regular cost you can buy it for $15 from the vineyards. I thought this was an excellent value for the money. I am not normally a Pinot Grigio fan, but this one surprised me and I really enjoyed it.

Cat House Cabernet

As I mentioned before, we happened to be sitting at the wine blending table with two men who own a vineyard. They are the only custom crush client of Nelson Family Vineyards at the moment and they are currently awaiting the bottling of their second custom crush, a 2006. They were kind enough to break out a bottle of their 2005 Trixie’s Cat House Cabernet, and while I’m not usually one for cutesy labels, I must admit, the play on words in this one makes me chuckle. The grapes are sourced from their vineyards, the vineyards at Miralago and are completely Cabernet Sauvignon.

In the glass the wine was a dark garnet color. Now, I know I don’t normally note color, but I do when it stands out, and this one struck me as a really pretty color. On the nose there were raisins with a little toasty oak and dark dried chaerries. Later, as the glass sat out, I could get hints of strawberries and bitter chocolate.

In the mouth it was fruity and smooth with raisins and red currents. The wine had an excellent balance to it, with tannins that seemed to suggest to me it could age for a while. I certainly enjoyed my glass (or two) as it aired over the course of an hour. This was the first custom crush wine I have had and I wish I could get a bottle or two, as I really liked it!