Ultimate Pinot Party

I’m part of a Meetup group that is in love with wine and hosted an event last night with the theme — Ultimate Pinot Party.  Guests had to bring a wine related to Pinot — Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinotage, Pinot Gris/Grigio/Blanc, etc.

Quite the selection came to the table.  I think the breakdown was roughly

3 Pinotage (my favorite, love South Africa)
Many Pinot Noir (Mendocino, Napa, Willamette Valley, other)
Pinot d’Alsace a blend of 3 Pinots: Blanc, Gris, Noir and Auxerrois
Pinot Meunier
Pinot Grigio
Pinot Blanc

There were likely a few others.  Some of them were empty come the end of the night!  Amazing to smell and taste the differences in vintages and regions, and of course varietals.  Cheers!






Breathe, Decant, Aerate

I received a free copy of Cook’s Illustrated in the mail recently (can’t complain about that) and there was a funny/interesting piece about letting wine meet oxygen.  There are so many thoughts about how long you should let a wine breathe, if it should be decanted, if you can use a simple aerator.  It also depends on what varietal, the age of the wine and more.  So these guys have some fun tips on doing this quickly.  What do you think…and how do you normally aerate your vino?


New Pinotage

Pinotage is one of my favorite wines with that smokey nose and taste.  Then, the subtle leather notes, as well.  And, whenever I can find it in the States, it is always a bonus.  Sometimes it can be hard to get, or you always find the same ones.  So, when in CO the past week or so, I got totally different distributors than what I am used to in DC, MD and VA.  I came across a Pinotage I had never seen before — Barista (2012) Pinotage.  The name itself does it justice — Barista — coffee.  It also has the traditional notes of Pinotage with the smoke, subtle leather and some fruit.  It was in the mid-teens, price-wise.  If you’re looking for a looking for a new wine and/or are a fan of this varietal, totally try it (assuming you can easily find it).IMG_1781[1]IMG_1780[1]

Woop Woop

Sounds like I’m cheering, right?  Well, I guess I sort of am.  Found a great new (to me) wine last night.  Was having leftover ‘roo burgers so decided to pick up an Australian wine to pair with them (had beer the first time around).  Wanted to get something I hadn’t tried before.  Found the Woop Woop Shiraz at the store.

Totally not what I was expecting for a(n Australian) Shiraz.  I would say its color was very dark for the varietal and it was also thick/syrupy (best description I can give).  The first thing I got on the nose was pepper, then a light bit of fennel, finally various berries.  Same with the taste.  But, again, the pepper was the most prominent.  What was very interesting is that the wine changed throughout the evening.  Always had a bit of a different character.  Definitely worth checking out, and well priced — low-mid teens.  Also, quick note, it was a screw top, which is becoming much more common.  I call the things easy access.


“Weight” of Wines

Going through long-lost wine class notes, there was a great chart of the “Weight” of wine.  They go from light to full bodied.  Good to have on hand when deciding what buy, serve or just open.  Cheers to the weekend!

Soave, Orvieto, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc
Sparkling Wines (including Champagne)
Chenin Blanc
Cremant (sparkling) or some aged, vintage Champagne
Chablis (from France), unoaked Chardonnays
Sauvignon Blanc
White Bordeaux
White Burgundy
Oaked Chardonnay


Valpolicella, Bardolino
Barbera (old style, emphasizing fruit)
Rioja (and other wines made from tempranillo)
New World Pinot Noir (California, Australia)
Zinfandel, Rhone
California Merlot
Chianti Classico
Cabernet Sauvignon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Petit Sirah
Syrah, Shiraz
Barbaresco, Amarone della Valpolicella
Brunello di Montalino

Pinotage…from CA not SA?

When at the store the other day something came up about South Africa, the word Pinotage came about and then next thing I knew we were being led to the California section?!  Yes, oh yes.  Apparently some vintners are trying to get that amazing grape over here.  So we of course had to buy a bottle, from McNab Ridge Winery.  It was quite unique.  Not as smoky as South Africa, but still darn good.  And when it finished, it was creamy, super creamy on the back on the mouth.  Definitely worth trying!  It was mid-high teens, dollar wise.


Wine Class #4

I posted about my first couple wine classes and got lost in a shuffle and wasn’t able to share the next couple.  I am indeed posting about #4 here (will backtrack to 3 eventually).  In class 4, we learned about ‘other’ varietals, spending a lot of time in Italy.  Some good, fun stuff to take home:

-DOC — great wine, DOCG — AWESOME wine, in layman’s terms

-Trebbiano is almost all bulk and per our instructor is boring2

-Barbera is just a fun wine

-Zinfandel producers are renagades

Our tastings for the night:

1) 2012 Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio, Dolomiti, Italy, about $20


2) 2008 Serra “Paitin” Barbaresco, Piemonte, Italy, about $40


3) 2010 Vietti Barbera D’Asti, Piemonto, Italy, about $22


4) 2008 Carpineto Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscant, Italy, about $27


5) 2012 Verdicchio di Castelli di Jesi, Marches, Italy, about $13


6) 2010 Masciarelli Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, Abruzzo, Italy, about $14 (this was one of my favorites of the night)


7) 2010 Terredora Dipaolo Aglianico, Campania, Italy, about $18


8) 2005 Lan Rioja Gran Reserva, Rioja Spain, about $25


Great Wine Find

Was looking for a bottle to open last night and checked out a couple labels in my wine rack and finally decided on one that I’d seen a few times and had no idea about it.  WOW!  I don’t have a clue where or when I bought this.  It’s the Tarima Hill 2010 Red (from Spain).   On the label it said it received 93 points and I am in complete agreement with that!  Amazing.  Dark fruit, spicy, a bit of smoke and leather, a bit chewy.

One quick review:

“The opaque purple-colored 2010 Tarima Hill exhibits notes of chocolate fudge, pen ink, graphite, blueberries and blackberries. This full-bodied, 100% Monastrell should drink well for a decade or more.” 93 Points – The Wine Advocate

I have no idea what I paid for this (though I’m guessing mid teens).  Many of the reviews say this should NOT cost this little, but more like $30-$50.  I can’t agree more!  Need something to do this weekend?  Go on a wine hunt…




Oregon Winery Tour

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted because I was in a wine lover’s paradise — Willamette Valley (OR) — for a couple days.  I visited some wineries, met some great people and enjoyed some phenomenal varietals.

To start off my trip, I booked a tour at penner-Ash.  Notice the typing on that.  The owners wanted something basic for the appearance of the name/logo, as in lower case, but Ash wanted his name capitalized.  But, when you read the logo it’s not the easiest to catch.


While on my trip, it was high harvest season.  Grapes were being picked, processed, etc.  So, I got to see lots of good stuff!  Grapes fresh off the vines:


One of the next processing steps — they start at the top, get pressed and move their way down:


Grapes in the process of eventually making their way to us:


Tasted five great wines while there.  All were amazing and it was tough to narrow down which ones to buy.


The tasting room at penner-Ash is so nice — it overlooks fields and hills.  It was a beautiful day when I visited so I could see  so much landscape.  I recommend checking this place out next time you’re in the area.

Whole Food(s) & Wine

Had to get that great Before & After thought in there again as much as possible.  So a couple weeks ago, I saw this amazing sign outside of the Whole Foods in Glover Park/Georgetown (DC) for their Wednesday night $5 for 5 wines and 5 food bites.  What, what, did I read that wrong?  Really, I know I just walked out of the gym, I’m tired, dehydrated, want some food (and likely wine) but what did that say?  But I did read it right!  Every Wednesday from 5:30-7pm they feature 5 wines (in two ounce pours) accompanied with a nice snack for five bucks!  Whoa!  Bring…it…on!  I am proud, yet almost ashamed, that I finally (only finally) made it down there this week.

And the night began.  So as the first timer, I walk in, see wine in the non-wine section (aka produce) and see people with glasses and paper.  Of course I have to ask who/what/when/why/where??  Deer in headlights.  Simple…go to the express lane, pay five bucks and get the (take home!) wine glass (that you can bring back, or any wine glass, for a dollar off…four dollars!) and summary/rundown sheet for the five tasting stations.  Money paid, game plan set.


Station #1:  Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier.  Ok, every nose and palette is different.  It smelled like swiss cheese to me…yes, you read that right, but oh, oh, oh, down so smooth, with some berries then smoke, in a nice, clean sense.  The even better thing?  It was on sale from it’s normal X price (don’t what that is) to $10, then we got an extra buck off!  I CAN NOT wait to go to South Africa next year to taste this stuff on site!  This was served with breaded eggplant (couldn’t have it because of cheese…heard it was good).


Station #2:  Another visit to Sugarloaf with the Sugarloaf Mountain Pinot Grigio.  They are just north of DC and offer a great escape for a day.  Crisp, citrus-y with a hint of peach.  A great summer white, cool and refreshing!  Retail price around $17 or so.  This was served with shrimp prepared in coconut oil.


Station #3:  Take me to Italy for some Cesanese Lazio Volepetti.  Nice medium bodied-red.  I kept trying and trying, and trying and trying to nail down a nose or flavor and couldn’t do it.  It was a nice wine.  I drank it, I would drink it again, but I’m only writing home about it for my blog.  Apparently they couldn’t keep it in stock after the tasting.  I bought the bottles of #1, not for the price (score!) but for the wine/taste proper.  Each one to their own…more for me!  Side note, retail price for this one is around $12 or so.  This was served with salami, (hard parmesan), and french bread.


Station #4:  Parlez vous francais?  Avez-vous un peu de vin?  Merci beacoup.  Yes, I speak French and I had French wine.  Rose, to be exact.  We tasted Aime Roquesante Rose.  If you want the site in French, check it out.  Pink is about the most I could say about it.  It was a dry vs. a sweet rose which was nice but I couldn’t equate it to anything, really, flavor-wise.  Would be good to have handy as a light wine for summer.  It did have a cool bottle, as in the non-uniform shape.  Overall, it was nothing to write home about again just good info to write (on) a blog about.  Retail price around $13 or so.  And as I note this, I must say again everybody has totally totally different wine taste, go please go try it!  We had roasted chicken and rice with this one.


Station #5:  Pop! Cote Mas Cremant de Limoux.  Bubbly.  Great way for the tour end.  Nice fizz, nice light taste.  Retail price around $14 or so.  This was served with a little protein smoothie with huge chunks of delicious peaches.


This was yet another great was to just learn about new wines and expand the palette.  And for five bucks?  Can’t go wrong.  Happy happy hour!  And again, I am giving my tasting notes.  Everybody has different tastes and can like different wines.  Go out to your local store(s) for tastings or buy a bottle to share with friends.  Have a tasting party.  You will only learn more by exploring and socializing.  Sip on, sip on.