A Syrah A Day

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

Keeps the doctor away. That’s how that expression goes, right? Well, that’s how it should read, particularly if the Syrah in question is the 2012 Cornerstone Cellars Stepping Stone Syrah. The weather here in DC turned (for a moment anyway) to chilly and the reds in the cellar started to call my name.  The Cornerstone Syrah has a real cork closure and retails for $35.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) The nose. Oh, my, the nose. This Syrah has that meaty note I love in Syrahs.

2.) We had this with beef stew. Perfect for a cold evening.

3.) I could also see this in the summer with my BBQ ribs.

4.) Cornerstone Cellars really delivers across their portfolio.

On the nose I got spice, cinnamon, baking spice, berries, black cherry, meat, and the scent of bbq. In the mouth I found black cherry, spice, black fruit, berries, and anise.  I loved the tart black fruit with the spice lurking around.

 

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR company for the brand.

Eenie meanie miny mo, which Pinot should go?  Tonight it was the 2011 Star Angel Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir. The Star Angel has a real cork closure and retails for about $27. It hails from the Santa Rita Hills in California, though the Star Angel brand is the invention of the winemaker for the Montes brand from Chile.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Serve this at cellar temperature or slightly below.

2.) As it warmed I found the wine a bit soft.

3.) I served this with salmon, one of my go-tos for Pinot. I think I’d serve it with a vinegar based BBQ sauce given a 2nd chance.

4.) Overall, the wine is ripe and plush and would be a crowd pleaser for those “I don’t like red wine” folks.

On the nose I got spice, pepper, strawberry, and smoke. In the mouth I found strawberry jam, raspberry, and other plush red fruits. There was some acidity on the finish.

 

Poser? No, Pousseur.

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

Theoretically it is spring here in the DC area. Given today’s weather with a high of 61 and cold rain, I remain unconvinced. However, I am taking the opportunity to work my way through some of the red wines still lurking in the basement. Tonight I chose the 2010 Bonny Doon Le Pousseur Syrah which has a screw cap closure, clocks in at 12.8% alcohol by volume, and the current 2012 vintage retails for $26. I can’t find the photo I took of this wine.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Pass the lamb please.

2.) We had this with sausages, which also worked, but I really wanted some grilled lamb.

3.) Lots of complexity in the wine at this price point.

4.) The wine had an incredibly long and lingering finish.

 

On the nose I got plums, pencil lead, spice, and meat. In the mouth I found cocoa, plum, berries, blue fruit, spice and a finish full of lingering dusty cocoa covered blueberries. I kept imagining myself sipping this on an early September night around a campfire.

 

Two Nights Two Pinots

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, I managed to pluck the same wine from two different vintages two nights in a row from my basement. Let’s just say the Pinot Noir called my name this winter and the two Rodney Strong ones that were lurking (that sounds ominous, I promise it’s not) in my cellar got caught up in a few day Pinot fury. Had I actually realized I had both of them down there, I would have done a side-by-side comparison. On night one we tried the 2010 Rodney Strong Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. More on night two’s wine, the 2012, another day. The 2010 had a real cork closure and likely retailed for about $25 originally.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Overflowing on the nose with red, red fruit.

2.) Pair with a roaring fire and a cozy couch.

3.) Or with an herbed, roast chicken. That would work as well.

4.) Once again, Rodney Strong comes through with a solid offering for a great price point.

On the nose I found raspberries, red cherries, spice, mint, herbs, and sage. (Yes, I’m well aware that sage and mint are herbs, but there were more than just those there, more of an overall herbal note.) In the mouth I got pomegranate, raspberries, spice, and other red fruit. Overall the wine has acidity to spare and a long finish.

 

 

Let’s Get Blended

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

Winter persists. Spirits falter. Red wine is a necessity to strengthen the soul. Why not a red wine from a warmer climate to ease the pain of the never-ending winter? In Argentina it’s been in the 80s during the day. Tonight I think it is going to be 9 at my house. With needing a warming red in mind, I plucked the 2012 Graffigna Reserve Elevation Red Blend from its comfy resting spot in my basement. The wine has a Diam closure and retails for around $10-$12. It’s a blend of 20% Bonarda, 20% Cabernet Saugivnon, 20% Malbec, 20% Syrah, and 20% Tannat.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) While it warmed us on a winter night, I really wanted it with some grilled meat.

2.) The Syrah really dominated the nose of the wine for me.

3.) The palate was more mixed, with the Merlot and Syrah both really shining for me.

4.) At $10-$12, this is a crowd pleaser for a bargain price.

On the nose I got smoke, meat, pepper, black cherry, and blueberry.  In the mouth I found black cherry, dark fruit, herbs, blueberries, and plums. Overall the wine showed good tannins and left me smacking  my lips a bit.

 

 

Always a Good Day

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

My day definitely looks up when my wine glass contains a treat from Jordan Winery.  Particularly when that wine happens to be their signature Cabernet Sauvignon. Our weather has been, shall we say, chilly, and a big red wine warms the soul when the thermometer can’t seem to get up over 9 degrees.  On this evening, we had the fortune to try the 2009 Jordan Cab Sauvignon. The wine has a real cork closure, clocks in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for $53.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) We drank this with grilled lamb done with rosemary and garlic. Absolutely fabulous match.

2.) I really appreciate that Jordan keeps their alcohol levels pretty darn reasonable for a CA cab. I enjoy not feeling like my nose is on fire when I smell a wine.

3.) I’m not sure I ever got around to posting about our visit to Jordan, but if you get the chance, you should definitely try to go on your next trip to Sonoma.

4.) Jordan only does two things: Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. And it does them really well.

Jordan in the spring.

On the nose I got pepper, black fruit, bramble, slight green notes, black cherry, and baking spice. In the mouth I found blackberry, black cherry, a mineral streak, and herbal notes. Overall the Jordan had great structure and acidity to carry it through.

 

 

Cold Winter’s Night

Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Rodney Strong.

Cold has settled into the DC area. Most days it’s been 13 degrees or under when I leave for work and the same when I return. Standing on an outside platform to catch the Metro is extremely unpleasant, and I come home chilled to the bone. On one of those nights, I bundled up for a trip to the basement and returned with the 2010 Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. It seemed like an excellent choice to counteract the weather. The wine has a real cork closure, clocks in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for $28.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) On the cold cold night, this wine warmed my soul.

2.) Rodney Strong is an incredibly consistent producer.

3.) This Cab offered lip-smacking black and blue fruit.

4.) I will get to Rodney Strong on my next Northern CA trip. Now to work on having that trip!

On the nose, I found the Alexander Cab to be quite spicy, with pepper, herbs, a slight green note, black berries, and other blue fruit.  In the mouth I got blueberry, brambly fruit, black fruit, spice, and pepper. The wine had nice tannins and mouth-filling fruit.

 

To a Treat

 

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Rodney Strong Vineyards

As I am well into my second week of the furlough, I figured it was time for a treat in my wine-drinking queue.  I can’t always look for the cheap and cheerful wines, it kills your will to taste lots of not so great wines in search of a single gem all the time.  Instead, I bustled around in the basement looking for something opulent and sure to please and came back up with the  2007 Rodney Strong Symmetry.  The Symmetry is a Meritage blend with a real cork closure, 15.1% alcohol by volume, and a retail price of about $50.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Opulent is really the proper word for this wine: it’s luxurious and rich in all aspects.

2.) $50 may seem a little pricey, especially these days, but I think you get quite a bit for that money in this bottle of wine, it’s enticing and layered and tastes much more expensive.

3.) Rodney Strong is generally so consistent to me as a producer that I never hesitate to recommend their wines.

4.) I’m still not sure how I’ve never actually made it to the actual Rodney Strong facility in all these years.

Right from the off you just look at this wine and observe how incredibly dark the juice appears.  In fact, my notes say “dark dark dark.” In the mouth I found dark chocolate, dried cherries, mulberry, spice, black cherry, and currants.  On the palate got herbs, spice, pepper, anise, coffee, blackberry, and black currants.  The wine had a long finish with good tannins and needed some time in the glass to really open up. Do yourself a favor and run it through the decanter (or your Wine Soiree!) if you pop open this bottle soon.

 

 

Cigar? No, Cigare.

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample for review from the winery.

Fall! And red wines! Who knew how quickly the weather would turn in DC? I got scolded by my kid’s preschool teachers for not sending her in warm enough clothes today. I guess that means it’s 1.) time to move her to New England so she toughens up 2.) bust out the long pants 3.) eat lots of apples and 4.) switch (gradually) back to the red section of my basement again. Tonight we broke out the 2008 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant En demi-muid. The Volant sports a screw cap closure, clocks in at 14.2% alcohol by volume, and retails for $45 a bottle. It’s a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Carignane.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Fall in a glass! Spice, tea, lighter red fruits, this wine screams fall.

2.) En demi-muid means the wine is aged in 500 and 600 liter barrels instead of typical barrels which hold about half that amount of liquid.

3.) The price is a little lofty.

4.) While I enjoyed just sipping the wine watching trashy tv, I would pair it with marinated pork chops.

 

On the nose I found spice, tea, cherry, current, raspberry, earth, a little meat, and some darker fruit notes. In the mouth I got black cherry. So much black cherry that it took me some time to move on and find anything else. eventually some raspberry, tea, and another berry I couldn’t quite identify emerged. Overall the fruit on the palate showed as tart and fresh.

 

Impressions from the 2013 Wine Blogger Conference

Back from my 5th Wine Blogger Conference, held this year in Pentiction, BC, I find myself again inclined to ruminate on what I learned, saw, drank, ate, etc., while spending 4 days in a new-to-me wine region.  Simply because I am tired of repeating myself, please see, in particular, #s 4, 8, and 10 from last’s year’s retrospective on the conference.  Those items still stand for me as takeaways from this conference. And every other WBC I’ve attended.  Despite some of those complaints (and positives), I will be back to attend the 7th annual WBC in Santa Barbara next July.

1.) I no longer look like my picture. After 6 years, this is the first time not a soul made that comment to me. So either I’ve changed quite a bit (possible since I have brown curly hair now…) and I need to update my photo or I’m simply not as present on social media as I used to be. My best guess is a combination of the two. I vow to be better about both things, updating the photo and being more active on Twitter.

View from Summerhill Winery

2.) We could not have asked for a more picturesque place to hold the conference. The Okanagan Valley is simply stunning. Not to mention, the weather cooperated beautifully and the days were sunny, breezy and delightful. I stayed in two locations while in the area, Kelowna and Pentiction. While I can’t choose a favorite, each had its strengths. I’d highly recommend the Manteo Resort in Kelowna for families. I stayed in  a “villa” on the property (basically a townhouse) that had a full living area, separate full kitchen, laundry facilities, 2.5 baths, and 2 bedrooms. The resort offered water sports, pools, playgrounds, a fantastic restaurant, and proximity to many vineyards. At Penticton Lake Resort, I’d think singles or couples would find it more appealing. While still offering water sports, a pool, and proximity to vineyards, it had multiple restaurants, bars, a club, a casino, and more typical hotel style rooms. Both beautiful properties, I’d happily return to either.

3.) That said, a major bummer of the conference turned out to be the inability to bring wine home and being unable to get the wines in the States. You pretty much have to go to BC to taste and drink BC wines. I took home the legal number of bottles (without having to pay extra duty, that’s 2) so I’m pleased to have two (plus 2 others I paid duty on) of my favorites to taste with Mr. Wannabe Wino, I’m disappointed to not be able to get anything else I tasted.

Bee-keeping at Tantalus Vineyards

4.) If you make it to the area, check out Tantalus Vineyards. Hands down my favorite stop of the trip, both for the food, the wine, and the experience. I have a nifty video of the bee keeping demonstration we were treated to ready to post when I figure out how to do so. Two of the wines I brought home, I purchased at Tantalus, including an interesting sparkling brut riesling.

5.) The smaller nature of this year’s conference truly appealed to me. It reminded me more of the first 2 years of the conference. I had time to talk to people. We had many events together. It was more intimate. I made new friends this year. I fully understand the conference is a business, however, at the end of the day, it needs to remain appealing and useful to those who attend. When attendance is almost double what it was this year, that gets lost.

6.) Wines of Uruguay! Wines of Uruguay! Wines of Uruguay! Get them any way you can. Even if you have to mud wrestle an Uruguayan for them since they drink most of the wine they produce. Especially the Albariño from Bouza. Stunning wine.

7.) The conference was over-scheduled. Again, I understand that this is a money-making venture. I also understand that I am in no way obligated to attend every event. However, having scheduled events running until 11 pm every night is just too much. Some people actually want to go to bed earlier than that and may miss out on something they’d really like to attend simply by virtue of the fact that they don’t want to be exhausted for the next day of the conference. This particularly struck me on Friday, when we went on our excursion and then were bused immediately to an event over an hour from the hotel with no option to return to the hotel without attending, then had to await buses to take us back. I was wet (more on this later), exhausted, and wanted to leave, but didn’t end up being able to get on a bus home until 10:30 and didn’t arrive back to the hotel until almost midnight. The event the next morning started at 7:15. That’s not enough sleep.

8.) Since I’m recommending wines, here’s one from another region that caught my attention: the 2010 Kacaba Reserve Cabernet Franc.  If you ever get to the Niagra wine region, you should most definitely look Kacaba up. Worth it alone for the Cabernet Franc.

Brodo Kitchen’s chef makes us eggs in the park

9.) A small list of places to eat for sure if you make it to either Kelowna or Penticton: Waterfront Wines (holy cow can that man make a gourmet waffle and poach an egg), Smack Dab (the focus on local beers, with at least 15 on tap, totally won me over), Brodo Kitchen (in Penticton, no website, but they had fresh strawberry juice that rocked my socks), The Cupcake Lady Cafe (don’t be fooled by the name, the breakfast crepes were drool-worthy), The White Apron (fresh made ham and cheese croissants, think pain au chocolat but with ham and cheese), and Hooded Merganser (duck breast poutine, need I say more?).

10.) Go visit Craig Camp at Cornerstone Cellars. I know I’ve said it before, but he’s sincerely one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever had the pleasure of associating with, and his wines are damn good.