Speed Tasting #1 Gloria Ferrer

We’re getting a brand new wine, the 2010 Anniversary Cuvée. Grapes hung a bit longer in a cooler climate that year. Aged on lees for 5.5 years before release. Blanc de noir with a dose of 33% Chardonnay. Retails for $40.

Biscuit, yeasty, nice acidity. Baked apple. Cherry. Very interesting blend.

From the only Ferrer property in CA.

What a Difference a Decade Makes?

So, here we are. I’m about to head the 10th annual Wine Blogger Conference.  We are back in Sonoma County, where it all started. I find it a little hard to believe that we are still here 10 conferences later.  Certainly, a lot has changed: wine blogs have come and gone, technology has evolved, content creating comes in many additional forms.  Some things haven’t changed at all. I still have the same glasses. (You decide whether it’s because I’m frugal, lazy, or other.) I’m headed back to Sonoma to meet up with many people I’ve only known via the internet. I’m crashing at the house of a blogger I met over 10 years ago, just like in 2008 when I darkened El Jefe’s doorstep.


Me in Murphys a few days before WBC 08



Me a few days before WBC 17

When I first started blogging back in the dark ages of 2006, there were so few wine bloggers that it felt like everyone knew everyone. Like high school. And the idea for a large meet-up started percolating, spurred and curated by the ever-present Joel Vincent.  I doubt even he would think his creation would be around 10 conferences later. Attending that first conference felt like meeting people I’d known forever. I knew then that I’d found my tribe. Wine people. This will mark my 7th conference attended (the birth of two children (other major difference in my life!) prevented my attendance at the three conferences I missed!).

The first conference, held at the iconic Flamingo, helped coalesce a nascent community. From it was born the idea for the Wine Blogger Conference Scholarship to help an unemployed blogger friend attend the conference, which has grown to sponsor up to a dozen bloggers a year to attend. The conference has doubled in size, but the community it helps create has not changed at all. Immersing yourself in a wine region with 300 of your closest friends certainly lends itself to bonding experiences, renewed enthusiasm for your craft, and hopefully learning something new about wine or wine writing.  If you’ve been on the fence about attending, take a chance and join us. We don’t bite. Much.

Lunch with Royals

*Disclaimer: I attended this lunch as a guest of the firm representing the winery.tokaji

Royal Tokaji, that is. Prior to my lunch with Royal Tokaji, I had tasted several Tokaji wines, but had not had the pleasure of tasting with Royal Tokaji. The experience was fantastic. The Tokaji wines were utterly delicious and presented such a delicate balance of acidity and sweetness. A highlight of the lunch was experiencing the service out of a crystal spoon of the 2007 Royal Tokaji Esencia, which I can only describe as being what would come to mind when one thinks of the nectar of the gods. Adding to the fun was a tasty appetizer of a bacon “clothesline.”


Perhaps you wouldn’t think of pairing what’s generally considered a dessert wine with bacon, but it worked sort of like when the syrup from your pancakes seeps over a bit onto the bacon. A can’t miss for this spring was Royal Tokaji’s dry Furmint, The Oddity (with backwards capital Ds), which retails for around $12 and is a surprising, light wine full of almond, lemon, and lemongrass flavors. Lunch was at BLT Prime, where I also enjoyed the “Ostrich” Lobster Scramble.


My official tasting notes from the wine line up:

2013 The Oddity – almonds, lemon, smooth with nice acidity, a little smoky, lemongrass.

2015 Late Harvest – orange zest, lemon, honeyed apricot.

2009 5 Puttonyos Aszú – nutty, peaches, candied orange fruit, honey.

2008 Betsek – honey, nutty, orange, mouth-coatingly thick.

2009 Mézes Mály – very bright, lemon zest, honey, candied pineapple.


As I hope you can see in my photo of all the bottles, the color varied greatly between the wines. Ben Howkins, the representative from Royal Tokaji, indicated that the difference was in part due to the various vintages, but mainly due to the soil in which each vineyard is grown. I also learned that while Royal Tokaji makes their Oddity and Late Harvest wines every year, the vintage Tokajis are only produced in very good years, which does indeed mean that in some years the winery produces no vintage Tokajis.


Garnacha vs Garnacha vs Garnacha…

*Disclaimer: I received these wines as samples to participate in a live virtual tasting to celebrate Garnacha Day.

How do you celebrate Garnacha Day? With 5 bottles of Garnacha, of course. Better yet if you have a nice mix of red Garnacha and Garnacha Blanca. At least, that’s how I spent Garnacha Day, along with tasting online with some of my favorite winos.

Now, I’ve loved Grenache Blanc for quite some time, since the fabulous Jill of DomaineLA introduced me to the an absolutely lovely one from Curran Vineyards.  So when I opened the box of wine for Garnacha Day I was excited to see two bottles of Garnacha Blanca included. The two bottles were immediately distinguishable since one was oaked and one wasn’t. Our tasters for the evening preferred the unoaked version at first taste, but the oaked version had swayed half of us by the time we finished the tasting.

First up was the 2015 clos Dalian Garnacha Blanca, with a screw cap and sporting 12.5% alcohol by volume. On the nose I got lemon, white pepper, and slight stone fruit. Overall the nose was very delicate and light.  In the mouth I found citrus, lemon, lemon curd, white pepper, and mineral notes.  I thought it was fresh and zesty and very refreshing.

Our second wine was the 2013 La Miranda Secastilla Garnacha Blanca, an oaked version with a real cork and 13.5% alcohol by volume.  On the nose I got lemon custard, lemon pie, and vanilla.  The nose seemed heavier immediately.  In the mouth I found lemon custard, lemon zest, and pie crust.  Overall the feel on the palate was creamy.

Next up, we moved into the reds, starting with 2014 Castillo de Monseran Garnacha Carinena which had a screw cap and clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume. On the nose I got blueberry, pie, leather, and cranberry.  In the mouth I found blueberry, tea, dark strawberry and blackberry on the finish. Overall I found the wine to be quite dark.

Our second red was the 2015 Evodia Garnacha with a cork and 15% alcohol by volume. On the nose I got tart fruit, sour cherry, and blueberries. In the mouth the wine was dark and tight with blue fruit. I had trouble getting it to give up anything on the palate.

The final wine for the evening was the 2014 Garnacha Centenaria which had a real cork and clocked in at 14% alcohol by volume. It also sported the heaviest bottle of the bunch. You could definitely take someone out with it! On the nose I got black fruit, chocolate, berries and spice.  In the mouth I found primarily raspberry and blueberry with spice. This wine was lovely with plush fruit. Overall this bottle won the tasting for two of our four tasters.



Back With A New Grape

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

Still alive over here in Wannabe Wino land. Though clearly it’s been a while. Sleep deprivation and an infant really cuts into my blogging (and wine tasting time). So I’ll pop in today to introduce you to a new grape from a wine from a new to me wine region. I got the chance to taste the 2012 Vinkara Winery Narince Reserve. Narince is a native grape to Turkey where this wine is made. Grab this one to add a check mark to your Century Club application! (If you’re here in the DC area, there are several local wine stores where you find this, including MacArthur Beverages and in June, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits.) The wine has a real cork and clocks in at 13.5% alcohol by volume.

Four takeaways:

1.) It sort of smells like a chardonnay.

2.) Continuing to try to relate this to more familiar wines, it tastes and feels a little like a viognier on the palate, particularly on the finish where it is a bit viscous.

3.) The winery produces a regular and a reserve Narince. I tasted the regular at a lunch and it’s a great spring wine and an easy on the purse price at around $16.

4.) Grab the whole line of wines from Vinkara and add several native Turkey grapes to your list of wines tried.

On the nose I found lemon, apple, slight vanilla and a tropical note. In the mouth I got lemon, pear, and apricot. It had good acidity through the mid palate and was viscous on the finish.



The Joy of Franc

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

Whenever I pop the cork on a bottle of Cabernet Franc, my first thought is always “Why don’t I drink more Cabernet Franc?” Cabernet Franc can be such a delightful, aromatic wine with great structure and fruit on the palate and I should make a greater effort to include more of it in my wine diet. In particular, I (and you) should definitely make the effort to get a bottle of the 2012 Cornerstone Cabernet Franc into my wine diet, it’s a wonderful example of all that can be great about this wine. The Cornerstone Cab Franc comes in at 14.7% alcohol by volume, has a real cork closure, and retails for $50. (I seem to have misplaced my photos for this wine, my apologies.)

Takeaways from this wine:

1.) Pairs well with shattered nerves from your infant not sleeping.

2.) Also pairs well with BBQ ribs.

3.) Cornerstone Cellars offers one of the most consistently well-rounded and well-executed wine portfolios I’ve had the pleasure to taste.

4.) I always feel like Cabernet Franc offers a great bridge between lighter and heavier reds.

On the nose I found black cherry, raspberry, baking spice, clove, and herbs. In the mouth I got cherry, raspberry, strawberry, and black tea. Overall I found the wine to be bright and fresh with a long, smooth finish.


Budget Friendly Cava

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

Just in time for the holidays I’ve started to open up some bubbly. If you come around these parts with any regularity you know how much I love bubbles. Which is why the holiday season is particularly wonderful since people open more bubble, even though I firmly believe bubbles should be enjoyed frequently just because it’s Tuesday, for example.  Tonight we tried the Segura Viudas Brut Cava which retails for around $9.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Hosting a big holiday party this year? This budget Cava is wallet friendly and crowd-pleasing.

2.) If you want to step it up a bit, try the Segura Viudas Riserva, which has the added benefit of coming in an incredibly cool looking bottle. (I made one of mine into a lamp!)

3.) Cava in general, and the Segura Viudas Brut in particular, offers a lot of bang for your buck.

4.) I’d serve the Segura Viudas with my cheese plate this Thanksgiving.

On the nose I got a waxy note, pepper, flowers, and lemon. In the mouth I found peach, orange peel and melon. The wine had long-lasting bubbles and good acidity.


Wannabe Wino Turns 9!

Ye olde wine blog turns 9 today! Faithful readers have no doubt noticed I’ve been very quiet on here lately. I have a good excuse. I recently had another baby and have been off my wine for about a year. The wine blog has seen me through 9 years of marriage, 2 moves, buying 2 houses, selling one, and countless other adult-y type milestones. When I pushed “Publish” on the wine blog 9 years ago, I never imagined I’d still be here, even in a diminished capacity. Most of all, I value the relationships I’ve developed over the years, both in real life and virtually. Cheers to all my friends, the best benefit I never expected when I decided to launch a wine blog.

Bubbles Bubbles Everywhere

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from a PR firm.

In case it’s not abundantly clear from my many posts on sparkling wines, I love bubbles. I love them so much that several years ago I got together with other wine bloggers and we made our own sparkling wine. So I’m always delighted when either the UPS or Fed Ex truck pulls up and brings me bubbles. This particular box came with the Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaique inside. The Champagne had a traditional closure and retails in the low-mid $30 range. The bottle got recycled before I could note the alcohol level.

1.) Run, don’t walk, to pick this up for this price. It drinks like a much more expensive Champagne. It might be the bargain of the year.

2.) For that reason, stock up for the holidays. Everyone will love this wine. Give it as a gift. Put it out for your holiday meals. Drink a bottle on New Year’s Eve.

3.) Persistent small bubbles and great acidity really made this bubbly stand out for me.

4.)  Add this to my list of highly recommended wines for Thanksgiving.

On the nose I found the Champagne to be toasty, with brioche, lemon, apple and white flowers. In the mouth I got apple, citrus, apple flowers, and lemon. Overall I found it to be crisp with great acidity and bubbles.



Pretty in Pink

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

Although the calendar has turned to September, the weather in DC is no closer to fall than it was last week. Rather, it seems even hotter and more like the dog days of summer than any other time of the year. Which to me means it’s still a great time for a crisp rosé.  With that in mind, I ferreted out a bottle of the 2014 Cornerstone Cellars Corallina Rosé from the cellar to pair with the weather.  The Corallina retails for $25 and sports a screw cap closure.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) An excellent choice to pair with our rocking Adirondack chairs and the steamy DC day, cold from the fridge with great acid, tart flavors and refreshing citrus notes.

2.) The Syrah gives the Corallina a meaty note on the nose, but then gives way to more delicate red fruits, melon, and citrus on the palate.

3.) Although I just made a big deal about drinking the Corallina with the hot weather, I’m going to add it to my list of top choices for your Thanksgiving meal. The zesty acidity on the palate will cut right through the traditionally heavy Thanksgiving fare.

4.) Besides Thanksgiving, I’d serve the Corallina with your next cheese plate.

On the nose I found cherry, strawberry, a meaty note, pepper, flowers, and orange zest. Perhaps almost an orange blossom note as well. In the mouth I got strawberry, cherry, citrus, and melon. Tart red fruits and refreshing acidity carried the day on the rosé.