The Cache, Ft Collins, CO

With the recent opening of Ginger & Baker in Fort Collins, CO that also meant a couple new restaurants. Had to check out The Cache.

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Made a reservation a couple weeks ahead and the only times left on a Saturday were early evening or very late night. Went with the early choice. Of course the thing to start with was wine and opted for an Erath – Resplendent. It was a Pinot Noir. Had never seen that one from them and just a nice one, not too light or heavy. Also looked for it at stores the next week and didn’t see it anywhere.

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For dinner, we opted to split anappetizer – Cache House Salad, mixed greens, crispy onion, grape tomato, sourdough croutons, lemon-olive oil $8

The dressing, so amazingly emulsified, so awesome! Perfect size to split

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For the dinner, I opted for the Seared Sea Scallops, green apple-parsnip puree, quinoa, brocollini $36. Some darn big scallops. Bring it on! And I’ll say, I don’t go shopping for parsnips, but they made they taste pretty darn good!

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The other one at the table went with the Colorado lamb shank, whipped potato, haricots verts, lamb demi-glace $34. Apparently the lamb shank just sort of melted off the bone, into the potatoes, that melted in the mouth. They were devoured.

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Overall:

One thumbs down, we wanted to nibble on something before all the food came out and bread was not free but rather $11. No, that’s not a typo…eleven dollars. Really, it’s bad enough when a place charges you 5 bucks, rather than bringing it for free. But double digits? Nix that. And prices overall were a bit high for this area.

But on the thumbs up, the food was all very good, and nice presentation. The service was also excellent. A manager came out to check on us see how things were. We couldn’t have asked for more. We had one mishap with my lactose intolerance (which I told the waitress of when ordering) and it was beyond taken care of in ways I have never seen before.

So, while I will say for Fort Collins the prices are a bit high, at least everything else was great. Worth going to for a nice dinner if you’re going to splurge.

 

Cafe Vino, Ft Collins

Need wine? The name Café Vino seems like a good place to go.

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Decided to check it out for Happy Hour one evening. The Happy Hour menu title alone it great – Adult Swim.

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They have wine, beer and food specials. Now the wine is only down to $6 – would hope for something a bit better in Ft. Collins, but I’ll live. After a quick taste of both the red and white from the great bartender I actually opted for the blanco. And, it was a (semi) chard! The wine was Feudo Zirtari, 55% Inzolia/45% Chard. It wasn’t too heavy, no oak on it, and despite the fact that it wasn’t hot out, it was very nice and refreshing and I would have loved to be sitting outside on the deck with it.

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This is another one that I can’t find anywhere in the stores (did much research afterwards). Just not right that I can enjoy it in the restaurant but no further.

So, will have to return here for the wine, if nothing else. Will also have to check out their food menu at some point.

 

Stonecross Pinotage

When wine shopping, anytime I come across a Pinotage, which is very difficult in Colorado, I have to jump on it. The newest one I have come across is Stonecross at Square Beverage in Ft. Collins. Well priced at about $13. It has some nice fruit it in and I found some of the nice smokey body of Pinotage. Pick it up if you can find a bottle at your local store.

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Post Winery, Arkansas

When driving across the country you learn and see a lot of things. For me, one of those was that it is really true that all states have wineries. Found this out even more with research while writing this — check it out. One of the wineries that I visited was Post Winery in Arkansas. Oh yes, Arkansas. Post Winery has been making that grape juice since 1880.

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Per the site, they are ‘the largest winery in Arkansas and the first commercial vineyard to produce here, and the first to bring you 100% Muscadine Juice and that famous Muscadine Wine. Post Familie Vineyards is our sustainably managed farm in the foothills of the Arkansas Ozarks, altitude 780 feet, straddling the first plateau above the Arkansas River valley.’

They have a decent selection of wines. For the (free) tasting, you can pick what you’d like to sample. I will say, they weren’t from Napa or Bordeaux. Most had a taste close to Welch’s. There wasn’t anything there that I needed to leave with, but it was nice to check a winery state off the list.

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Lost Creek, Leesburg, VA

A friend and I explored some local wine country on a beautiful DC day in August. What is upper 70s in this month?

We went to The Vineyards & Winery at Lost Creek in Leesburg, VA.

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This winery has been in the works since 1998 and has 16 acres of land. My friend and I split a tasting which included the following, for $15.

2016 Vidal Blanc. 100% Estate Grown. Tropical Fruit. Stainless Steel Aged. $22. Unique, had a bit of oak on it.

2014 Chardonnay. 100% Estate Grown. Bright & Crisp. Stainless Steel Aged. $24. I tasted beef jerky and tire?! Then some lemon meringue. Ok, odd.

2015 Reserve Chardonnay. 100% Estate-Grown Whole Cluster Pressed. Ten months French Oak. Best of Class SF Chronicle Harvest Club Wine Only. $29. Not too yellow for an oaked Chard.

2016 Rose. 11% Zinfandel Dry Rose Blend. Barrel Aged 6 months. Food friendly. $24. Watermelon nose. Definitely dry. Very nice. Ended up getting a glass to enjoy later.

The following 3 are their Bordeaux Blends.

2015 Trinity. 43% Cabernet Sauvignon/36% Cabernet Franc/8% Merlot/13% Petit Verdot. 16 months French Oak. $36. This is the 3rd blend they’ve made. Peppery.

2015 Genesis. 62% Merlot/16% Cabernet Sauvignon/16% Cabernet Franc/6% Petit Verdot. 16 months French Oak. $40.  1st blend for them. They gave it that name because genesis means ‘new beginnings.’ Very smooth. My favorite.

2015 Provenance. 45% Cabernet Sauvignon/30% Merlot/20% Cabernet Franc/5% Petit Verdot. 16 months French Oak. Premium Selection. $42. Heaviest of the three. Nice nose.

As mentioned, I decided to enjoy a glass of the Rose. My friend and I sat outside in their very nice garden/pavilion area. Tables, chairs, where you can sit back and relax. We didn’t need anything to eat, but they have quite the menu. This is a place where you cannot bring your own food.

The staff was quite knowledgeable about the wine and they were all quite good for VA wines. It’s so nice to see how VA wines are getting better and better each time a winery is visited, and the difference between various VA wine regions.

Pollak Vineyards, Greenwood, VA

Another winery visited in the Monticello Region was Pollak Vineyards.

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This one opened in 2008 and all grapes are estate grown. But a bit more history on them can be found here, about how they started growing their grapes in 2003. They had a beautiful tasting room and quite the staff to give us information on the wine.

2014 Chardonnay. Characteristically golden straw in color, with an assortment of aromatics ranging from ripe apricots to tropical fruit. Flavors include quince, pineapple and citrus fruit which are all interlaced with notes of fresh white flowers. The wine is crafted to be fruit-forward, medium weight, with a crisp clementine like finish. $24. 80% unoaked/20% oaked. Like the unoaked percentage!

 2016 Viognier. Gold, Finger Lakes International. Bright, tropical and intense apricot and peach aromas that mingle with a beautiful spiciness. Displaying youthful acidity and a clean crisp but creamy finish. $26. Tropical fruit nose. Crisp and clean. Very good wine.

2016 Pinot Gris. Nose of stone fruit, orange blossom and fresh tropical fruit flavors. Rough and creamy with bright minerality and a fruit forward finish. $25. No nose at first, eventually got one after a few swirls.

2016 Rose. The bouquet of aromas range from ripe red raspberry to strawberry and spice. On the palate flavor of fresh red fruit race alongside a great acidity leaving a desire for another taste. $24. All stainless. Sweet smell, ok, not my favorite rose.

2015 Cabernet Franc. Bright ruby in color, with fragrances of pomegranate, cherry jam and fresh cracked black pepper. On the palate: soft impressions of ripe blackberry, cassis, and dark cocoa mingle into a velvety finish. $28. Nice nose, pepper. Really like this one.

2014 Merlot. Gold, Finger Lakes International. Aromas of fresh, ripened cherries and blueberries burst from this perfectly balance Merlot. The wine retains freshness and vibrancy through to the finish, yet has soft, silky but firm tannins. $30. Thick and chocolatey. Very nice.

2013 Meritage. Best in Category Gold, Atlantic Seaboard Gold, Monticello Cup. Complex nose, smooth, rich and silky, this handcraft wine finds its center around a core of blackcurrant, black cherry and sweet raspberry fruit. Spice, cedar and earth notes add complexity, but the generous fruit and supple texture that anchor the mid-palate. $35. Smooth…

2015 Petit Verdot. A very deep and complex vintage of this robust varietal. Full-bodied and rich, this wine is drinking nicely now but also has great potential to improve in the cellar. $30. Nice nose, bad taste.

2012 Mille Fleurs. Port of Viognier. Voted Best Dessert Wine in Virginia, Virginia Wine Lover Magazine. $30. Too sweet.

During the whole time and discussion the folks at the winery also suggested watching Blood Into Wine. Have to check this out because most movies about wine can’t be bad, right?

Much enjoyed this winery and look forward to going again. Cheers!

Cardinal Point Vineyard, Afton, VA

Another winery visited in the Monticello region was Cardinal Point Vineyard. It’s family owned and operated and started ‘years ago, while stationed in the small city of Bad Kreuznach, Germany on the banks of the Nahe River, Paul and Ruth Gorman discovered a passion for the Riesling wines that were crafted with care in the little vineyards surrounding the town. It was then and there that they decided to add their own vineyard to their retirement plans.’

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The tasting at this winery was $10 for five wines. Between the two of us we covered the menu. That cost seems a bit high for a VA winery. And come the end of the tasting, far too high for the quality of the wine.

2015 Green. 50% Petit Manseng/50% Chardonnay. This is no blend; these grapes were co-fermented. Aromatic, approachable and addictive. $20. No bubbles, like vino verde.

2015 Hopped Chardonnay. Totally original. Totally unique. Totally familiar. Herbal/tropical nose, fresh fruit with citrus near the finish. $20. The hops added herbs to the nose but there was just some citrus to the taste.

2016 A6. 58% barrel fermented Viognier blended with 42% steel fermented and aged Chardonnay. Peach flavors and aroma, subtle oak, creamy mouth-feel lifting to light minerality on the finish. $25. This wine was named for a highway in France. The peach notes were present.

2016 Quattro. Riesling/Gewurztraminer/Viognier/Traminette. Latest version of a CPV favorite. Apple/pear aromas with sublime sweetness. Best yet? $18. 10.4%. Mildly sweet.

2015 Frai Rose. The fermentation on this Rosé was stopped just short of dry, and the results are stunning! Fruit forward and not too sweet. $20. Tastes like a slushy.

2015 Rose. Cabernet Franc rose featuring the potential for warm sunsets, fun with friends, and an ever-ready companion to grilled chicken and veggies. $18. Nice nose. Taste of strawberries.

2015 Rockfish Red. Short-vat C. Franc and P. Verdot. Youthful and round easy drinker with pedigree. It pairs well with many foods. Great utility player for your summer. $20. Fruit forward. Way too light.

2014 Clay Hill Cabernet Franc. This fruit comes from our friends, the Peltons, at nearby Clay Hill Vineyard. Boasting flavors of cherry and black pepper, this is a great wine from a great place. 2016 Virginia Governor’s Cup Gold and Governor’s Case Selection. $35. Peppery.

2014 Union. 63% Petit Verdot/19% Cabernet Franc/18% Tannat. Concentrated flavors of wild cherry syrup and pomegranates, dense mouthfeel, and spicy vanilla tannin. Winner of 2017 Monticello Cup and 2017 Virginia Governor’s Cup Gold. $35. Syrupy nose, not a great taste.

Definitely not my favorite winery, but fun to check out the local ones.

Flying Fox Vineyard, Afton, VA

Visited the Monticello wine region in Virginia and got to find some new adult grape juice. Started with Flying Fox Vineyard.

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They started growing their grapes in 1999. Lynn & Rich, who opened the vineyard, bought the grapes with Veritas, which are located in the Shenandoahs.

2015 Pinot Gris. Dry and crisp with key lime and citrus notes.  A perfect summer wine.  Produced from Ridge Run Vineyard grapes planted just for us in the Shenandoah Valley. $18. Was a bit sour for a Pinot Gris.

2015 Viognier. Our Viognieris produced from Ridge Run Vineyard grapes. With aromas of honeysuckle, apricot and pear this wine is a lovely Virginia classic. $19. Tasted sweet/sour.

White Table Wine. A lightly sweet blend of Pinot Gris, Traminette, and Viognier  – great with spicy food, an after dinner cheese platter or just sitting on the front porch. 6% Traminette, 64% Pinot Gris, 30% Viognier. $17. Blend of the first two wines and sweeter than the first two wines. Not my favorite.

2015 Rose. Dry, crisp and refreshing- an elegant Rosé. This lovely wine smells and tastes of fresh strawberries, nutmeg, and marzipan. And will be a perfect complement to all of your summer picnics! Cabernet Franc 50% – Merlot 50%. $17. Ok.

2014 Cabernet Franc. A classic Virginia Cabernet Franc: Light oak flavors compliment but not overwhelm the taste of red fruit and cherries along with a bit of black pepper spice. Aromas of baking spices, cardamom and cherry pie make this our favorite summer red.  80% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot. $24. Pepper notes, nice wine.

2014 Merlot. An elegant Bordeaux-style Merlot.  Plum, cherries and a hint of mocha on the palate.  Enjoy now or cellar to drink later. $22. Not good.

2014 Trio. Trio – our harmonious blend of three wines, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot is our vineyard in a bottle.  An elegant wine with lovely color and balance.  50% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot. $27. Nothing stands out.

2014 Petit Verdot. Dark and intense, this wine shows flavors of black cherry and blackberry fruit.  Our favorite with game. This wine shows firm tannins and good acidity.  It will age nicely. 80% Petit Verdot, 20% Merlot. $28. Heavy but not weight bearing. Definitely had the cherry and blackberry.

Red Table Wine. This wine is an off-dry blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  Soft and smooth, this wine appeals to both red and white wine drinkers.  Chilled in the summer, warm and spiced in the winter, always appropriate. $17. Sweet for a red.

Nice range of wine to sample in a different region than the (relative) northern Virginia ones I normally locally get closer to home.

Red Tail Ridge Winery, Finger Lakes, NY

While in the Finger Lakes, another winery visited was Red Tail Ridge.

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This one is a decade old and they have about 50 acres of land on which they grow their grapes. They produce smaller amounts of wines so they can focus on quality vs. quantity. Their tasting is $5 for 6 wines (then you tend to get a bit more).

I checked out these guys:

2016 Dry Rose. Tart cherries, cranberries and fresh mint with the minerality of seashells on the nose. Softer notes of apricot and fresh strawberries follow. The palate brings out red raspberries, fennel and mandarin oranges. e heavy mid-palate is cut with a phenolic bitter note and a slightly tacky sensation to finish, $20.95 – I got a sweet chalk on the nose and strawberries when I sipped it.

2016 Sans (without) Oak Chardonnay. The wine opens up with Bosc pears, tart apples, undertones of stoniness and hints of citrus. The palate begins with white cherry, golden delicious apples, and bouncy citrus notes all highlighted with a slight spritz mouthfeel to keep the wine lively. Minerality and lemon oil notes linger, $13.95 – No nose, though after awhile it finally opened up bit. Tasted oaky to me, but maybe it was the Finger Lake grapes?

2015 Dry Riesling. Crisp pears, starfruit and limestone on the nose, followed by lemongrass and soft floral accents. The palate adds peaches, creamy lemon curd, and bright yellow apples. Minerality comes mid-palate with a puckering acidity to cut the fattier mouthfeel and leave fresh notes of lemon and lime zest, $18.95 – Genuinely dry.

2016 Good Karma. Light notes of candied ginger, white peaches and lemon oil on the nose. Stoniness and orange blossom add to the aroma with honeysuckle. On the palate, more peaches with slight spice and pears along with sweet lime. Nice acidity rounding out the mouth to finish with lingering notes of citrus oil. (2.3% rs) *Good Karma is Riesling sourced from Seneca Lake, $13.95 – Sweet and thick on the nose, syrupy. Almost like drinking peach schnapps. The person pouring it was not happy with the comment at all.

2015 Pinot Noir. On the nose: coco dusted cherries, sweet tobacco, forest moss, and chocolate mint leaves. The palate begins bright with rhubarb notes that lead into deeper earthy mushrooms, black cherries and savory fennel. Mid-palate the deeper notes give way to the tingly acidity with fresh raspberries and wild strawberries. The acidity elongates this wine leaving your palate watering for more, $24.95 – Light body, got some chocolate and earth notes.

2015 Dornfelder. Earthy mushrooms fill the glass with a slight meatiness followed by dark fruit: currants and plums. On the palate, more dark earth notes emerge but give way to juicy fruit as the wine opens up in the glass. Boysenberries burst with dried stems of blackberries and soft vanilla. The wine has an umami note mid-palate with brininess and tart cherries to finish, $24.95 – Dark, NICE nose and taste. Definitely got the mushrooms. Had a good body, too.

2014 Blaufränkisch. Piercing blackberry, and black cherry fill the nose, followed by oregano, white pepper, allspice and worn leather. On the palate: ripe wild blackberries, warming vanilla and boysenberry. Rounded mid-palate but chalky, grippy sensations on the edges of the tongue. Darker earth notes with solid acidity and youthful tannins linger in the finish, $22.95 – Very light nose and body. Didn’t get anything from it. Wouldn’t buy it, especially for the price.

Serenity Vineyards, Finger Lakes, NY

Another stop on the Finger Lakes wine tour (Day 2) was Serenity Vineyards.

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The grapes were planted in 1977 and the tasting room opened in 2011. This is another vineyard where we split a couple tastings, one white, one red. The tastings here were $3 for 5 wines and you received $1 off if you made a purchase.

The winemaker, Bernard Cannac, provided an amazing amount of information. He’s originally from France and brought his knowledge to the Finger Lakes to make wine. One of the things he mentioned was that the betterness/growth of Finger Lakes wine truly depends on information and weather.

The wines we enjoyed included:

2013 Chardonnay. Toasted walnuts, pear, butter and lemon zest with a long finish, $14.99 – Just couldn’t place the taste.

2016 Seyval Blanc. Ripe white and green apple on the nose. Refreshing acidity in the palate. Common on East coast of South England, $13.99 – Totally got the peach.

2014 Dry Riesling. Gooseberry, flint stone honeydew melon and lime with a lively acidity, $14.99 – VERY dry, not bad at all.

2015 Dry Riesling. Caramel and apricot followed by white flower notes. Soft and complex mouthfeel, $16.99 – These grapes were on the vine for 2 weeks longer. Noble Rot, nose is sweeter than the prior Riesling.

2011 Pinot Noir. A light Pinot, highlighted red cherry, clove, caramel, smoke and oak, $21.99 – Made with French oak. Cool vintage, ages faster. Made with French oak. Like port on nose, overall it’s like a ‘light’ port.

2012 Pinot Noir. Ripe red cherry and cedar aromas with flavors of oak and red currant, $26.99 – Made with French oak. Hot and dry year. Darker color, earthier on nose. NICE. I preferred this one to the prior Pinot.

Note from Bernard – Hot & dry temps are best for Pinot Noir.

2013 Cabernet Franc. Eucalyptus and red berries aromas. Peppercorn leading to plum, leather and tobacco with smooth tannins, $19.99 – Port nose. Unique spices in it, definitely got the peppercorn. good body and nice nose.

2013 Mirth. Blend of Cabernet Franc (50%) and Merlot (50%). Blueberry, coffee beans and earthy notes with young tannins, $23.99 – The earthiness was very subtle. Good body and nice nose. Ended up leaving with a bottle of this.

2012 Merlot. Rich, earthy aromas with dark fruit flavors and vanilla. Soft tannins, $29.99 – WOW! Very unusual for the Finger Lakes.

This was definitely my favorite winery, and we randomly chose it. Thanks for the vino, Serenity Vineyards.