Napa Cellars

Was working another wine tasting recently and was introduced to a new wine(ry) in CA —  Napa Cellars.  That’s the great thing about doing the tastings — finding all sorts of new wines (and getting paid to do it)!  The name sort of explains it all, location-wise.  The varietals were their Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.  Both were great wines.

The Sauv had a crisp fruit taste – lemon, grapefruit.  The vintner describes it as “aromas of vibrant gooseberry, pineapple and fresh pink grapefruit followed by flavors of pear, guava, passion fruit, lime, sweet clover and melon.”  The price was $18 (on sale from low $20s)

The Pinot was amazing (I love Pinot!) and had some subtle leather and cherries, and unique spices.  It had a good, medium body to it.  When you read their comments you get “aromas of ripe cherry, sweet tobacco, raspberry, cedar and subtle spice followed by deep red cherry flavors and fantastic acidity.”  The price was $16 (also on sale from low $20).  These prices are in DC, so love to find out how much they vary from state-to-state, sale-to-sale.

Check them out if you’re looking for something new.

IMG_2943

Predator

Came across a new (Old Vine) Zinfandel last week that is wonderful.  It’s Predator in Lodi, CA.  It has some nice fruit, I tasted mostly cherries, then the other taste(s) I found was leather.  There was something else that I just couldn’t place.  Was also thick/chewy, but not overwhelming.  Great wine, and I found it in the DC-area for about $12 (at Total Wine).  Totally recommend checking it out if you’re looking for something new.

IMG_2661[1]

Oh, Chateau

A couple years ago I visited Sonoma and one of the wineries my friend and I checked out was Chateau St. Jean.  After the initial tasting, they of course give you the rundown of their Wine Club.  My friend told me to treat myself and sign up.  Their wine is amazing and I deserved it.

So last weekend there was just bad weather going on and I decided to open up a nice bottle of wine, just because.  There was nothing happening, there was really nowhere to go/there was no way I was going to go do anything.  I pulled a bottle of Chateau St. Jean (2009) Syrah out of my wine rack.  I opened it.  It had a nose of berries and bark — yes, bark, ok, maybe some would say wood, but I got bark.  The taste just made me stand still.  I can barely explain how good it was.  Raspberries, blackberries, that bark, and tiny bit chocolate.  Some darn, darn good wine.  The best part is that I know exactly why I have the bottle and enjoyed it all the more because of it.  Cheers!

Do you have a favorite bottle for some reason?  Do you remember a bottle you bought for a specific reason?

IMG_2252[1]

Multiple Continents of Tastings

I figure since you can’t easily travel the world (time, money, etc), why not just grab a bottle of wine to check it out.  So, the past few weeks I’ve explored most of the world.  Between the Georgian wine I posted about recently (have some new bottles to be opened soon…) I have also checked out the following great vinos…

1) Chateau St. Jean, Pinot Noir, CA — (though this is Sonoma, think of Napa and support the locals by buying a bottle of Napa wine.  They’ve had aftershocks after the big quake on Sunday.) Amazing, amazing CA Pinot — cherry and some leather.  Was enjoyed with salmon.

IMG_0384

IMG_0385

2)  Phebus, Malbec (Reserve), Mendoza, Argentina.  Very nice.  Berries, some chocolate.  Can find it for about $10.

photo 5

photo 4

3) Klein Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa.  Light, pineapple, peach and grass notes.  Great for enjoying on a sunny afternoon or with fish or salad.  And, screwtop for easy access.  About $12.

IMG_0382

IMG_0383

4) Pfeffingen Weilberg Riesling, Germany. (Note: that site doesn’t stay in English the whole time)  Nice and dry!  Some stone fruit, various other amazing mineral flavors.  Paired it with a pea and garlic gazpacho with grilled chicken.  Perfect!  It’s been in my wine rack for awhile so not sure the cost, but online I’m finding about $30.

IMG_0455

IMG_0457

Wild Horses

Over the past several months I have started a part-time job as a wine taster/pourer.  So, 1-2 times a week I get to go to a variety of locations and be that person who pours different wines for the customers to sample, while of course sampling them myself to be educated about them to properly inform the shoppers.  It’s a win-win situation — learn more about the wine and talk to people about it!  It occurred to me the other day — why don’t I write a blog about all my tastings?  It has to start sometime, right?

Ok, so Friday night I was doing a tasting for Wild Horse Winery, which is located in the Central Coast of CA.  Very nice, affordable wines.  I had 3 varietals.

1) Wild Horse Chardonnay.  Oaked, but not overkill on it.  Very smooth, green apple, pear and vanilla notes.  Perfect with fish.  Price is around $15-$18.

horse1

2) Wild Horse Pinot Noir.  Light Pinot, smooth, had both fruit and earth notes, with some mushroom in there.  Pretty nice.  Would pair well with salmon, grilled vegetables, chicken.  Price is around $16-$20.  (for some reason they don’t have this one on their site).

horse2

3) Wild Horse Chardonnay.  Hello happiness, where have you been?  The body, the flavor…cherry, berry, cocao.  WOW!  Wow.  Go find one, buy it, open it, drink it.  Would be great served with a pizza made on the grill or some steak.

horse3

If you go pick any of these up or have had them in the past, let me know what you think.  Cheers!

 

 

What (wine) do you have on tap?

There is a great pizza place in DC that has expanded and now has several locations — Matchbox.  I’ve been to the one in Merrifield/Mosaic District recently.

match2

Before enjoying their delicious pizza, I had to try their wine on tap.  It’s not available at a lot of restaurant so I couldn’t turn it down.  I scanned the menu and it was a tough decision.  Hot as heck outside, freezing cold AC inside.

match6

I opted for the Gotham Project Zin.  Nice nose all around.  Fruity, very fun for a wine on tap.

match5

match4

My friend arrived later and we were ordering some nice pizza and we opted for a white to accompany a prosciutto and fig pizza.  We opted for a white on tap.  We went with the Tangent Sauvignon Blanc.  Very fruity and fresh, perfect for the meal.

match3

match1

Such a fun new way to enjoy wine.  Can’t say that it was than much different than a normal glass, but simple changes and simple pleasures!

Italian Find

I will admit, I lean hard towards new world wines.  I have no problem with others but don’t seek them out.  Had some friends over recently who brought a nice Italian vino and wow, that is what reminded me I need to remember where wine started.  We enjoyed Savuto Odoardi, which is a blend of Gaglioppo, Greco Nero, Nerello Cappuccio, Magliocco Canino and Sangiovese.  Just great tastes all around, and it didn’t even breathe much.  Looking online, retails for $13-$18, depending on where you live.

 

IMG_2682

IMG_2684

New California Pinot

Was checking out some wine tastings yesterday and had a (red) wine recommended to me that was not on the tasting menu.  As we got to talking about great grapes and new world wine (my favorite), the pourer/sampler/whatever you’d like to call them, recommended Meiomi Pinot Noir from California.  The grapes are from 3 regions in the state — Monterey, Santa Barbara and Sonoma.  Quite unique — definitely a light color (very Pinot), but was tough to nail down the flavors at first.  Got a bit a spice, then some light vanilla/candy, and a bit of fruit.  Also, a vintner who’s using screwtops, if that’s something that catches your attention.  Worth trying.  At the great store of Rodman’s in DC (a wine lover’s pitfall, among two others in the area) it was $16.

IMG_2673

IMG_2676

Wine Class #2

Had my second wine class the other day and learned more about that great beverage.  There was interesting info about labeling and the differences between Old and New World wines.  Think about when you buy a bottle of French vs. a bottle of California wine.  Which label is easier to read — ignoring any potential language barriers?

For Old World, they must (still and will likely always) include:

-Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)
-Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)
-Color (red, rose, white)
-Sweetness (dry, medium-dry, medium-sweet, sweet)

For New World, simple:

-brand name
-grape varietal(s)
-geographical areas (Sonoma, Western Cape South Africa)

After that we discussed the background and intricacies of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and of course had to sample some.  This week we tasted 8 wines (2 were not of the aforementioned varietals):

Chardonnay

#1 2012 Sylvaine & Alain Norman La Roche Vineuse
Macon – Burgundy, France

IMG_1618

#2  2011 Butternut Chardonnay
California

IMG_1619

#3 2012 Hendry Unoaked
Napa Valley, California

IMG_1622

Pinot Noir

#4 2011 Domaine Bernard Moreau et Fils Bourgogne Rouge
Burgundy, France

IMG_1621

#5 2011 Baileyana Firepeak
Edna Valley, California

IMG_1620

#6 2009 Maude
Central Otago, New Zealand (this is the most southern wine area in the world)

IMG_1623

Gamay

#7 2011 Chateau du Basty Regnie
Beaujolais, France

IMG_1624

Pinotage

#8 2012 Ken Forrester Petit Pinotage
Stellenbosch, South Africa

IMG_1626