Sunday, November 26, 2006

Day 2 - Napa Valley

After waking up and heading for a run in the Sonoma Valley State
park, just down the road from our lodging in Glen Ellen, we headed to the Glen
Ellen Grocery for a small to-go breakfast and a few bottles of water for the
day ahead.

Day 2 was our day to explore the Napa valley. Primarily we stayed
in northern Napa, above Yountville, around the St. Helena/Oakville area. We
took the Oakville Grade road over from Sonoma to Napa which is a fun very windy
road over the mountain that seperates the two valleys. The road just begs to
be driven in a Ferrari, not in our Mazda rental car. haha After you cross the
mountain you are graced with beautiful views of the Napa vineyards. Check out
the picture below.

Stop 1 - Grgich Hills

Grgich has a lot of history behind it, as their winemaker Miljenko
“Mike” Grgich was responsible for make the winning white at the
famous 1976 Paris Wine Tasting. He worked for Chateau Montelena at the time,
but he as definitely brought his experience and expertise with him to his own
winery at Grgich. Grgich believes in Biodynamic farming, and working in a way
that sustains an environmentally friendly vineyard environment, which he believes
is the only true way to sustain long term growth. He actually paid a visit to
the tasting room to say hello, what an experience.

Their were fives wines up for the tasting but we got a couple of extras thrown
in. First up was the 2005 Fume Blanc, a great classic style showing honeydew
melon, pineapple, mineral and not too acidic; very yummy. Second was their 2004
Chardonnay which was medium bodied with subtle oak, lemon and apple. Third,
was the 2003 Zin (100% Estate Grown), fairly light bodied with raisiny fruit
flavors, and a slight peppery finish. A great "beginner" Zin. Fourth
up was a wine not on the tasting sheet was the 2003 Miljenko Old Vine Zin made
from 115 year old vines. This had a great full bodied mouthfeel with rich blackberry
fruit flavor, extremely smooth and a nice chocolate finish on the back palate.
Very Yummy! Next was the 2002 Merlot, classic cherry aroma and flavor, dried
cocoa and a smooth long finish. A great Merlot. Sixth was the 2002 Cabernet
which had just been released, very peppery for a Cab Sauv, lots of great raspberry
and was still a little tight on the finish. It was just release about 1 month
ago. Although it was slightly out of order she did let us taste the 2003 Chardonnay
Paris Tasting Commemorative Napa Valley-Carneros. Wow this was a great Chardonnay
- beautifully complex with tons of subtle oak and nutty flavors, pear, apple
and little bit of honey. Very good, but we couldn't fork over the $110 price
tag. Yikes!

For the day, we took home only a bottle of the 2002 Merlot which is only available
from the tasting room. We actually have a couple bottles of Grgich Cabernet
here at home, and both that and the Chardonnays are fairly easy to find as well
as the Fume Blanc.

Stop 2 - Sullivan Vineyards

Sullivan wine tastings are by appointment only but don't let
that scare you away, they have great wines and a beautiful facility and welcome
anyone wanting to taste their wines. Sullivan is fairly small by Napa standards
only making around 8000 cases (maybe 6000 my note scribble was a little fuzzy).
They gained major notice in the mid 80's for their Cabernet Sauvignon and have
continued to make outstanding wines. First up for tasting was the 2005 Chardonnay,
great apple and pear aromas, flavors of toasted nut and good acidity. Pink Ink
was the second wine of the day, which was a dry Rose that was a free run juice
of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It was very nice. Next up was there Red Ink,
a blend of Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. A delightful easy drinking
red, again very nice for the price. The 2003 Merlot came next, Cherry and canned
pineapple on the nose, earthiness and great long finish. To compare we also
got to taste the 2003 Merlot Reserve which they only make 200 cases of. Great
Cherry aromas with blackberry on the palate, and a touch of cinammon on the
finish- it definitely was a better Merlot than the non reserve, but it came
with a hefty price tag. We had the same horizontal tasting with the Cab. Sauv.'s
tasting both the 2003 regular and reserve editions, both were excellent, the
non reserve had light fruit flavors of red raspberry and a bit of asparagus
on the tounge, but was extremely smooth and yummy. The reserve had darker fruit
notes of Blackberry and cinammon, with a finish of dusty tannins, that was too
overpowering but could use some more age. We also tasted the Coeur de Vigne,
which was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot primarily with a splash of
Cab Franc and Petit Verdot thrown in. It was really good with tons of layered
fruit, nice tannic structure and smooth slightly spicy finish. MMM Our tasting
associate let us try blending options to see if we could make a better blend
with the Cab Sauv. and Merlot, Megan and I decided on a 70/30 mixture....ours
wasn't as good but definitely a good effort. haha We also had a special taste
right out of the barrel of the 2006 vintage of Chardonnay, it was good, still
all bubbly and yeasty from fermentation. Sullivan was really fun, and it is
another definite recommendation for a trip to Napa.

Lunch - St. Helena

For lunch we ate in St. Helena at Pizzeria Tra Vigne. Ohhh,
it was good I highly recommend it. Cheap good pizza with interesting topping
combinations, and a good ambience for catching your breath and refreshing the
palate for more wine tasting.

Stop 3 - Caymus

Most people have heard of Caymus, they are very famous for their
Cabernet Sauvignon. We are huge fans of their wine, although we can't afford
very much of it, this is our second trip to the Caymus Winery. Their tastings
are free and by appointment only, they have 2 per day and both times we have
been scheduled for the 1:00pm tasting. You are seated with a group in a beautiful
room around a dining table, where the glasses for the 3 wines you will be tasting
are displayed in front of you. We had 6 other people tasting with us, which
is fun, because it is always fun to discuss the wine with more people around.
Our tasting guide was Laura, and in addition to the tasting gives a good history
of how the Wagner family came to create the Caymus winery and be as well known
was they are in the Napa Valley. First up for our tasting was the 2001 Sauvignon
Blanc (only available from the tasting room), which is made slightly different
than most Sauv. Blancs. First, it is aged (notice the 2001 vintage) and second,
it is oaked. It is a very good, wine but this vintage almost tasted more like
a Viognier to Megan and I. A nose of honeysuckle and apricot, apricot, lemon
and a slight toastiness on the palate, and a great rich mouthfeel with nice
acidity. Second, was the 2004 Zin (only available from the tasting room also),
and is done in "Charley style" after Charles Wagner which equates
to a rich and supple wine. The nose was full of black fruit, spices and nuts,
on the palate we were treated with raisiny dark cherry and plum, and a slightly
hot, full bodied mouthfeel and a long finish. We asked if there was anything
blended in and they said a very small amount of petite syrah. WOW!! Third is
a wine that is not normally on the tasting sheet at Caymus, and that is the
Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, normally it is the current release of
Cabernet Sauvignon which is also fabulous! But today the 8 of us were lucky
because we were poured the 2003 Special Selection, and holy cow was it amazing.
The nose was fantastic with Raspberry, pomegranite and cinammon; tobacco, black
raspberry and earth on the palate, and the mouthfeel was just weighty in the
mouth, smooth and long on the finish. It is just a great experience at Caymus
everything is top notch, and the tasting experience is cozy, informative and can't beat that!!

Vines at Caymus

Stop 4 - Pride Mountain

Pride Mountain is located just outside of St. Helena on the
top of Spring Mountain and their winery is a Napa address but since their property
stretches over the mountain they have vineyards both in Napa and some in Sonoma.
Hearing a podcast of Bob Foley is what first drew me to the name of Pride and
their wines. Listening to him talk about his philosophy of winemaking, taking
a very wholistic approach from the vineyard to the cellar, I became interested
in tasting his wines. Well the tasting did not dissappoint. First was the 2005
Napa Chardonnay, nice honey apple and slight oak, very well balanced and great
Chardonnay. 2005 Cabernet Franc was next, it was 75% Cab Franc and 25% Cab Sauv.
Excellent cherry, earth and rose on the nose, cedar "warm" fruit and
silky mouthfeel. Third was the 2004 Merlot 100%, with dark cherry fruit, slight
toasted notes and a smooth finish. 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon (100%) was next with
black raspberry, tobacco, and cinammon notes with very long finish. Really outstanding.
We got a sneak peak at the 2004 Cab Sauv that had only been released to wine
club members, and it was still a little young, but had a nice spicy fruit character
to it. Another special addition was the Mistelle de Viognier, an apertif that
was fortified with Graten. Pretty high residual sugar but it was a fun sipper,
with lots of floral notes and the sweetness wasn't overpowering or cloying.
For the day we took home the Cabernety Sauvignon and the Cabernet Franc. The views from Pride are great, the tasting room staff was fun and jovial, and the wines were fantastic, truly a don't miss on your Napa trip. They do require an appointment also, but again don't let that scare you off.

Vines at Pride

Last Stop of the Day - Hess Collection

We primarily went to Hess for their great art collection, although
we have had their wines and have liked them, we heard that they had a great
contemporary art collection. So we headed back down the valley towards downtown
Napa to get to Hess. We decided to check out the gallery first as it was closing
in 30 minutes. The art was amazing, lots of big name contemporary artists, Megan
was in heaven....great art and wine in the same place!!! After browsing the
wonderful we headed down to the tasting room, for a few sips although our palates
were fried. We tasted 7 wines - 2005 Chardonnay (oak, pear, light bodied), 2004
Chardonnay (honeysuckle, pineapple, well balanced, yummy), 2004 Artesian Zin
(fruity, light body, cinammon, cocoa) 2004 Small block Cab Franc (rapsberry,
cherry, dusty tannins), special treat - 2002 Lion Reserve with 98% Cab Sauv,
1% Malbec, 1% Petite Verdot (lots of fruit flavor, excellent full body, and
very smooth) We probably would have taken this home, but it was over $100 and
we had already purchased one that pricey from Caymus. We also tasted the 2004
Petit Verdot and the 2003 Cuvee which was also very good, the black fruits,
spices, good structure and nice complexity. Our choice of the day was the 2004
Chardonnay, a really fun well balanced Chardonnay that we can't wait to drink.
I highly recommend Hess, the wines are good and if you are into art, the collection
is awesome, and the grounds at Hess are really worth seeing as well.

Entrance to Hess

After Hess we headed back down the road to Sonoma, back to the
Glen Ellen Inn to rest before dinner. We didn't have far to go as we had decided
to eat at the Glen Ellen Inn restaurant. Dinner was excellent and the restaurant
was quiet and cozy, just what we needed after a long day of tasting.

Stay tuned for Day 3

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Napa Trip - Day 1

Megan and I just got back from Napa/Sonoma valleys, where we had an awesome trip exploring tons of wineries and loving every minute of it. The next few blog posts will outline our 3 days there and will have lots of pictures and information about all the wine tasting that we did, as well as about our cottage we stayed in and the restaurants were we dined. ENJOY!

Going over the Golden Gate Bridge

which way to Ferrari - Carano?

Day 1 - We left San Francisco, minus our luggage that did not arrive with us the night before, enjoying the beautiful views of the San Francisco bay...eagerly awaiting our first tastes back in the California Wine Country. On our way up to the Russian River Valley, we stopped in Healdsburg to get some lunch goodies from the Oakville Grocery. It is a great market with tons of cheeses and fresh made to order sandwiches, that are great for picnic supplies
Oakville Grocery Store - Healdsburg

Stop 1 - Our first stop of the day was Ferrari - Carano (you might have heard of it). As you can tell from the pictures below, their winery is palatial. Upon entering the tasting room we discover that they have two tastings, one for $5 dollars that tasted most of the wine they regularly distribute and then a $15 dollar tasting of wines down in the barrel room that includes reserve wines and wines that only go to wine club members and or tasting room patrons. We opted for two of the $15 tastings and split the list of 8 wines. The room that the tasting was conducted in was beautiful and adjacent to one of their barrel rooms, with lovely wood furniture and ornate iron chandeliers. Here is a list of what we had for tasting 2005 Sauvignon Blanc, 2004 Forella Chardonnay, 2004 Tre Terre Chardonnay, 2004 Reserve Chardonnay, 2003 Zin, 2002 Syrah, 2003 Sangiovese, 2002 Tresor. All of these wines were fantastic but I will comment on the 3 we purchased all of which are not distributed to the east cost for wholesale. The 2005 Sauvignon Blanc was great and is different from their Fume Blanc you may have seen on the shelves, and includes in addition to the Sauv. Blanc a bit of a Muscat Clone. It offeres great apricot and floral notes with peach and honeydew following in the mouth, with a very smooth mouthfeel and not as tart as some Sauv. Blancs. Our 2nd favorite/purchase was the 2003 Sangiovese which is completely dry farmed for that extra umph. It was delicious with blueberry, blackberry toast with a nice slightly spicy finish. 3rd favorite/purchase and these are not in any order of preference (just of how I wrote them down) is the 2002 Tresor which is a blend of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot with Cab Franc and Petit Verdot in the mix as well. The 2002 Tresor had 20 months in oak and aged 24 months in the bottle. Cocoa and Eucalyptus on the nose with a yummy taste of blackberry and raspberry layered nicely with a mild earthiness and a smooth tannic finish. It was an awesome wine!! Megan and I both definitely recommend the extra money for the reserve wines, they are all amazing and most are hard to find on the East coast.

Above are all from Ferrari- Carano
Stop 2 - Yoakim Bridge Winery
Yoakim Bridge is a small 2000 case winery (so everything is sold from the tasting room or wine club) in the Dry Creek Valley, just a ways down the road from Ferrari-Carrano. They have estate grown Zin and purchase all of the other grapes from local Dry Creek growers. The winemaker and owner is David Cooper who does everything in the winery by himself which is truly amazing. Check out the picture below of Megan and David in the winery, where he is displaying his beautiful Cabernet that is needing another punch down. David only has red wine and they are all fantastic. For tasting were the 2002 Zin, 2004 Merlot, 2003 Cuvee (Cab. Franc, Merlot, and Cab Sauv.) 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2002 Syrah. Our favorite and purchase from Yoakim was the Zinfandel. Beautiful with spicy raspberry that wasn't too jammy, great chocolate and long finish. The Zin was estate grown, and blended with 6% Cabernet Sauvignon from Wallace Creek Vinyeard.

Megan with Yoakim Bridge winemaker - David Cooper
Stop 3 - Seghesio
Seghesio is another winery that most of you have probably heard, and there Sonoma Valley Zin is usually a staple on a lot of wine lists. Well Seghesio was tasting 5 wines that day, but we got to taste a few extra due to our enthusiasm and great discussion we were having with the tasting room associate who was a Seghesio herself (daughter of the current winemaker). Again, all of the wines we tasted were fantastic and here is a list of what we tasted. 2005 Pinot Grigio (light fruity and crisp), 2004 Costiera Pinot Noir (blackberry, cherry, not too earthy), 2004 Sangiovese (spicy, tobacco and earth), 2004 Cortina Zin (jammy dark fruit, spicy followed up with cocoa) and the 2004 Old Vine (black raspberry, not as spicy, smooth). Those were the 5 wines that everybody got, the next 3 are ones that we got to taste special - 2004 Saini Zin (similar to the Cortina, with lots of rich chocolate and raspberry), 2004 Home Ranch Zin (1896 Vines, smoother than the other zins, still spicy, with jammy dark fruit flavors), and 2004 San Lorenzo which wasn't even for sale (a great wine probably the "lightest" zin of the bunch, a great Zin for beginners. Seghesio was great and all of there wines were fantastic, we signed up for their wine club so we will be getting 2 bottles qtrly. 2 of which are already on the way. Yummy. We also ate our lunch at Seghesio with a nice bottle of water due to all the wine we had been having (I needed to drive some more haha). They have a beautiful picnic area and it was a beautiful sunny California day.

Megan at Seghesio
Stop 4 - Landmark Winery
We hit Landmark was me made our way South through Sonoma county towards the Glen Ellen Inn. Landmark is most famous for the Overlook Chardonnay that you might have seen at Costco. Our favorite and the bottle we purchased was the 2004 Damaris Reserve Chardonnay. It was lovely with nice light fruit aromas accented by apple and pear with a great taste of hazlenut and caramel, a truly yummy chardonnay. Our other favorite was the 2004 Syrah that was completely organic. It seemed lighter than most Syrah's (which we like) and was filled with aromas of black raspberry, a smooth mouthfeel and a spicy finish. Landmark is farely small by California standards producing around 15,000 cases. They have beautiful surroundings and are a great place to have a picnic. (although we didn't).

Tasting bar at Landmark, with a beautiful mural

We headed on down the road to Glen Ellen which is about 12 miles North of downtown Sonoma. We had eatin at the Glen Ellen Inn last year when we were in wine country and remebered that they had six cottages out back along the creek for guests to stay. You check in at the bar in the restaurant and get your key. We were in Cottage number 2. Check out the pictures below, isn' t it awesome.

Top picture of our cottage, bottom is of the courtyard out of room

That night for dinner we dined in the downtown Sonoma at the Girl and Fig, a great cozy restaurant that focuses on fresh local ingredients which is always great, especially when you are a vegetarian. I definitely recommend them, and they are a well known fixture in the Sonoma Valley.

All of the wines that we purchased on the trip were wines that you are not able to purchase back in Richmond. So even if we went to larger wineries we purchased the small lot stuff, that we knew would be a special addition to our "wine cellar". All in all we came home with 2 cases of wine, stay tuned for Days 2 and 3 to come in the next week.

Swirl, Sniff, Sip.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Cooper Vineyards 2005 Viognier

Nose: Peach, Honeysuckle, floral notes

Taste: Beautiful apricot jamminess, honey and a touch of earth

Mouthfeel: rich and luxurious, medium bodied with not overly crisp acidity

Finish: medium in length, not bad but short than anticipated.

This wine was fantastic. Cooper provides us with another wonderful example of how Virginia does Viognier right!! Beautifully balanced between fruit and minerality with a good richness in mouth, but enough acidity so it doesn't seem flabby. We enjoyed this wine with some Indian food and it paired great with the spiciness of the dish.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hey Anything Wine Blog fans...sorry there has been a slight delay in the posts. I have been out of town for work lately and have fallen behind a bit.

Coming soon:

  • several wine reviews
  • Woodland Vineyard Harvest Notes
  • Harvest News from around the US
Thanks for your support.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Linden Vineyards 2001 Glen Manor Red

Decanted for 30 minutes - served ~ 62 degrees

Nose: Blueberry, Slight Anise, Raspberry and Cedar

Taste: Blackberry, Chocolate, Cinnamon

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with an intial smoothness that gives way to a great tannins all the way to the finish

Finish: Long and slightly spicy.

This wine was fantastic....what a great Virginia Red. We picked this wine up in the beginning of spring after tasting it in the Cellar Tasting at Linden, in addition to a Cab Franc and thier Avenius Sauv. Blanc. The wine is very balanced as all of Jim Law's (owner/winemaker) wines are with lots of fruit layering from start to finish with the added complexity of cedar, chocolate and cinnamon with a delightfully long finish. I apologize that I don't have the blend posted but I believe it was Cab Sauv, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot. I know they are probably sold out of this by now but if you get a chance to buy it, please do. Also, as many of the VA wine bloggers have mentioned it is a great place to visit with an attentive/knowledgable staff, great wines and great views.

Swirl, Sniff, Sip

Saturday, October 07, 2006

2001 Arbios Cabernet Sauvignon

Origin: Alexander Valley

We decanted the wine for about 30 minutes and served at around 62 degrees.

Nose: Black Cherry, Green Olive and Coffee

Taste: Raspberry, Strawberry

Mouthfeel: medium to full body with just the right amount of tannins providing a pleasent velvetiness on the tounge

Finish: Long and lucious

This wine was one we tasted at a benefit wine reception and just absolutely loved, so the next week we picked it up at our wine shop. At $35 it isn't an every day drinker (at least not for me) but it is worth every penny. As I mentioned above we did decant it for about 30 minutes, not that we had to but that is what the tasting notes are based on. A very fruity Cab with lots of complexity, that I feel is very approachable and doesn't need to be paired with food, although it did compliment our pasta that evening very nicely.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Weekend of wine tasting

Last Saturday we decided to meet our friends Stephanie and Russell out in the Afton mountain region for a fun day of wine tasting.

First on the day was Afton Mountain Vineyards which Megan and I had not been to. Driving up they have a beautiful setting, with great views of both the mountains and the vineyard. They have 12 acres of vines and grow everything they produce except for the Riesling. On the white side our favorites were the unwooded Chardonnay showing flavors of tropical fruit and coconut and was nicely crisp and tart, also the Gewurztraminer was very impressive with a rose and apricot aroma with a rich, smooth and barely sweet finish. On the red side our favorites were the '05 Sangiovese with chocolate, raspberry, nice tannic structure and a great finish, as well as the 04 Cabernet Sauvignon displaying raspberry, cherry, slightly vegetal on the taste and a nice smooth finish. Afton was great, beautiful setting, nice wines and a informative staff. If you haven't been I definitely recommend it.

Second on the day was Cardinal Point, always a favorite of ours. In the past our favorite has been the Barrel Select Chardonnay and the Cab Franc this time we found a new favorite, the A6. A6 is a perfect blend of Viognier and Chardonnay combining the floral fruity nice with tart crisp fruit of chardonnay, with hints of toasted oak on the finish. The tasting room was bustling with activity and we discussed the harvest which was weighing heavy on their minds with recent rains that have struck the area, ending an almost perfect season of weather. Cardinal Point always has good wines and we always recommend this one as well.

Third, and last on the day was King Family Vineyards who was also a bustle of activity setting up for a polo match later that day. All of us we very excited to tasting the new vintages since it had been a year since we last visited King Family. The 2005 Viognier was great, slightly effervescent with floral notes on the nose and apricot and honeysuckle on the taste. The 2004 Meritage was also great with raspberry, chocolate, cinammon and earth on the nose with raspberry and bell pepper preceeding the long finish. The 2004 was definitely different from the 2003 but still delicious. Something else that we found great was the Late Harvest Cab Franc with 3% residual sugar and 17% alcohol. The Late Harvest is not fortified, and the high alcohol is acheived from hand selecting and raisining the grapes. Very yummy!! For lunch we decided to have Cab Franc to start and finished up with the Viognier. The Cab Franc went great with our rosemary manchego, pita, hummus and mixed nuts along with a nicely toasted baguettes.

Check out the pictures below of the wonderful day of wine tasting with our friends Stephanie and Russell.

John at Afton with Chardonnay in the background

Megan at Afton with a beautiful of the Mountains and of the Vineyard

Tasting the reds at Afton Mountain

Tasting at Cardinal Point

Stephanie and Russell discussing the wine

Getting an explanation of this years harvest and how it was going.

MMM, that is some fine Viognier

Enjoying some fine cheese, hummus and pita

James River Harvest Moon Festival

Saturday September 9th we attended the James River Harvest Moon festival. This time our attendance was a little different, we did not only attend as patrons but we attending as "pourers" with Woodland Vineyard. We (Woodland Vineyard) particpated along with James River Winery, Cooper Vineyards and Belle Mount. It was a blast, Megan and I along with a volunteer (John Paul) worked the booth the 1st half of he day. It was great exposure for Woodland being primarily a Richmond crowd, most of which had no idea there was a winery in Midlothian Virginia.

After we worked the tasting table for a few hours Megan and explored the festival for ourselves. It was great fun, we tasted from all the other wineries even sampling some of Coopers famous Sangria that they were giving tastes of, very yummy on the warm Saturday. We also picked up a bottle of their Viognier which was also really good. (Look back at my reveiw from Cooper a few weeks ago) We also really liked James Rivers Vidal Blanc which we picked up a bottle of to take home. Jackie from Cooper gave us a couple of complimentary glass of Sangria that we sipped on and explored some of the jewerly vendors and listened to the band Summerhaven.

Megan pouring at the Woodland Vineyard booth
Eric, Melissa and Megan working the Woodland tasting booth

The Cooper tent, pouring good wines and lots of Sangria

Belle Mount Vineyards

Megan explaining Woodland Vineyad wines to some thirsty patrons

We all had a great time enjoying the wine and the other vendors, it was a great fun small festival I recommend you all trying next year.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

On a recent business trip to New Brunswick, New Jersey, I had the opportunity to dine out 2 of the nights I was there. Since my colleague and I enjoyed wine with both dinners I figured I would write about the 2 restaurants as well as the wines we enjoyed.

First up was Makedas, an Ethiopian restaurant in the heart of downtown New Brunswick. The restaurant was very nice with an art gallery adjacent that you had clear view of through the glass wall that enclosed one side of the restaurant. After my 1st two choice for wine this evening were out of stock I settled on Glen Carlou Grand Classique 2001.

Nose: Black Raspberry, blueberry, slight Coffee
Taste: Blackberry, Raspberry, Cinnamon
Mouthfeel: medium to full body with silky smooth tannins
Finish: Really long

This was a great wine, really impressive. Classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. I am not sure if it was the best wine to go with our selection of Ethiopian cuisine but was good none the less, as was the food at Makedas. If you are ever in New Brunswick looking for a great atmosphere with fun exotic food, give it a try.

The second restaurant that we we to (not in the same night of course) was The Frog and The Peach. The restaurant had an amazing wine list that being on the company tab I had to be careful. We went with a Benziger Cabernet Sauvignon 2002.

Origin: Sonoma, CA

Nose: Black Currant, Plum, blueberry

Taste: Rich Dark Fruit, Leather, Coffee

Mouthfeel: Rich and full bodied; chewy

Finish: Long and Lucious with slight pepperiness

This Cab was great showing excellent fruit up front with layered complexity of coffee and minerality on the finish. It was paired beautifully with our dinner. For our appetizer we had a black truffle gnocchi with a Local Spinach Chiffonade,Tomato Concassé, and Toasted Pine Nuts. The entree was magnificent as well with both of us choosing the Summer Mushroom and Goat Cheese Agnolotti with Local Greens, Sweet Corn Fondue, and Toasted Breadcrumbs. A side of sauteed asparagus accompanied the meal nicely as did the wine washing down every bited beautifully. The entire dinner was great, our server Amy, the meal, our Riedel stemware and of course the fabulous wine. The only thing missing was my wife.
Again a great restaurant if you are ever in the New Brunswick/Rutgers area.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Delfosse Meritage 2004

Origin: Albermarle County, VA

Nose: Earth, Cherry, Mocha, Crushed Blackberry

Taste: Plum, Cherry, Clove, Green Olive

Body: Medium body, very smooth mouthfeel

Finish: medium in length with a spicy/peppery smooth finish

We purchased this back on memorial day weekend on a trip around Monticello. Delfosse has a beautiful setting that Megan and I enjoyed lunch and a glass of Cab Franc and Meritage. This Meritage was great, we enjoyed with Veggie Pizza which complimented the wine greatly. The earth and cherry came through very nicely on the nose and cherry came through again on the taste with a nice touch of green olive. I definitely recommend this as a fine example of a great RED done right in Virginia.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Gary Farrell 2003 Chardonnay- Star Ridge Vineyards

Origin: Russian River Valley

Nose: Granny Smith Apple, pear and Oak

Taste: Apple, Toast, Oak, Nuttyness

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied

Finish: Medium in length and buttery

Megan and I picked this up last year in Sonoma in the Russian River Valley. Gary Farrell winery sits up on a hill and offers great view of the valley if it isn't foggy like it was the day we were there. Stil, it isl a very nice winery and if I recall the winery staff were very pleasant. This wine itself was very one dimensional, apple, apple, apple! I probably wouldn't have been disappointed if wasn't a $40.00 wine, but the flavors weren't layered very well and the nose was pure Granny Smith. I didn't remember much about the wine prior to opening it last night, but I am sure our tasting was better since we chalked up the $40.00. I have heard great things about Gary Farrell so I won't not try his other wines, but I probably won't drink this one again. (Which I probably couldn't anyway because I think they are sold out, haha)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

McManis 2005 Viognier

Origin: River Junction Appellation, South of Lodi California

Nose: Apricot, Peach, Floral Notes

Taste: Honeysuckle, Apricot, Mineral

Mouthfeel: Rich, Smooth, Slightly Effervescent

Finish: Medium

Another great Viognier recommended by Jeff at the Wine Cellar showing excellent layering of fruit, floral and mineral notes. A great Viognier that had a little bit of efferevesence on the tounge at the finish which was a nice surprise. I highly recommend this for all of you Viognier fans and at $11.00 it is a great value.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Old House Vineyards Merlot - 2002

Origin: Central Virginia, Culpeper

Nose: Black Cherry, Licorice, Cinnamon, Chocolate

Taste: Cherry, Earth, Clove

Mouthfeel: Medium body with nice silky smooth tannin structure

Finish: medium to long, very nice with slight pepperyness

We picked this up at Old House a few months ago, stopping by the winery on a whim. The merlot was the favorite of the day so we picked up a bottle. Honestly this bottle we opened was better than I remembered, not saying that what we tasted was bad, just that is was a decent merlot. This bottle was definitely better than average, yielding excellent fruit up front and a great mouthfeel with an excellent peppery finish. We enjoyed this with our friends Craig and Carrie who were up from Raleigh for the weekend. $20.00

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Elyse Zinfandel -2003 (15.2% alcohol)

Origin: Napa -Rutherford

Nose: cinnamon, dark fruit, amaretto

Taste: Black rapsberry, dark chocolate, earthiness

Mouthfeel: slightly "hot", smooth texture with peppery finish

Finish: medium to long in length

This was a really good Zin recommended to us by our friend Hunter at the Wine Cellar. Although it was slightly "hot" due to the 15.2% alcohol it was quite good but did need a little food to tone it down. We ate it with homemade veggie pizza and it was a great pairing. Although the pricepoint is slightly high @ $30.00 I would probably go with a Ridge Zin (my favorite) but would definitely recommend this as one to try.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Domaine La Bastide 2004 Syrah

Origin: Corbieres in southwest France

Nose: Blackberry, plum, leather

Taste: Raspberry, Dark Chocolate

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, slightly tannic

Finish: medium in length

This wine was another wine we picked up a few months ago at a Friday night tasting at the Wine Cellar here in Midlothian. Not being Syrah fans usually, we really enjoyed this one so we brought it home. In drinking it again, it was very fruity and rich and what I would consider an easy drinker, which is not what I would characterize most Syrahs. (maybe I am wrong and I am probably merging the typical Shiraz vs. the typical Syrah). Great wine at a great price, $11.25.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Wines & Times

All you winery visitors out there need to check out this great site that helps keep you informed on wineries in almost all 50 states. Just click on the state and it will show you how many wineries there are in that state, then click on a winery, and depending on what information the winery has provided it will show you hours of operation, upcoming events and more. It is a great site, and it's free.

Check it out - Wines & Times

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Alderbrook Chardonnay - 2003

Origin: Russian River Valley

Color: hay yellow

Nose: lightly toasted bread with apple butter spread (seriously)

Taste: Apple, melon, slight butter and nuttyness

Mouthfeel: smooth, medium body with nice acidic structure, "rich"

Finish: Good, I wouldn't say long but medium to long

We picked this up last December while we were in Napa/Sonoma and it was actually the first winery we visited. We have enjoyed several of their other wines and have not been dissappointed yet. This Chardonnay was excellent, displayed everything with balance and precision, definitely the best Chardonnay I have had in a while. (A+) $18.00

Monday, August 14, 2006

Cardinal Point Cabernet Franc - 2004

Origin: Afton Virginia

Nose: blackberry, blueberry, and pine

Taste: licorice, cherry, tobacco, green pepper

Mouthfeel: light-medium bodied

Finish: short to medium

We love Cardinal Point wines, and their Cabernet Franc is another fine example. As one of the top Cab Francs in the state (as rated by me), it is always a winner. (A-) can't remember the price...I think $17.95

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Wineries of Louisa County
Saturday Megan and I decided to take a quick trip to Louisa county for some wine tasting. We packed up some cheese and fresh baguette and headed off. First stop of the day was Cooper Vineyards. We have been to Cooper before, back in March we went and were able to witness their mobile bottling truck in action.

Tasting is done in the Barrel Room at Cooper

John Tasting at Cooper

While at Cooper we tasted 8 wines, 2005 100% Estate Grown Chardonnay, Coopertage Blanc (20% Viognier and 80% Chardonnay), 2005 Viognier, 2003 Cabernet Franc, 2004 Merlot, 2004 Norton and then 2 sweet wines - Rhapsody (Chardonel and Viognier blend; 3% residual sugar and Sweet Louisa (Munsen, Norton, Concord and Roussane; 6% residual sugar). Of the whites our favorite was the 100% Viognier showing beautiful peach, apricot and honeysuckle; interestingly it was aged in French Oak for 8 months which gave the wine a little more roundness on the tounge, simply delightful. On the red side, our favorite was the 2004 Merlot, a new release at Cooper. We were lucky enough to do a small vertical with the 2003 Merlot which was only available for tasting. The 2004 had excellent fruit character of cherry with a smooth medium bodied texture.

Bird Netting on the vines at Cooper Vineyards

Next we headed a few miles up the road to Green Spring Winery. This was our first trip to Green Spring, and they are relatively new to the VA Wine Trail, opening their winery doors last October although the vineyard has been operating for 8 years. Green Springs winemaker is Gabriele Rausse who has a great following here in virginia, and the owner is Lewis Gioiosa who has run Gioiosa Vineyards for about 8 years. The winery is beautifully constructed with a great wide open tasting room, and a beautiful wrap around deck.

Megan at tasting bar with Lewis Gioiosa (owner)
We tasted 4 wines while at Green Spring, a Chardonnay, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Cabernet Franc and a Rose with 6% residual sugar. All the wines were very good, even the Rose as we are not sweet fans. Our favorites were definitely the reds. The Cab Franc is from grapes grown at Redlands Vineyards in Albermarle county and provides excellent fruit character of raspberry and cherry with a smooth medium bodied finish, very good cabernet franc. The Cab. Sauv. was another good wine and is made from grapes grown in Lynchburg. The wines shows off Black Raspberry and chocolate flavors with a smooth spicy finish, again very good. We got a glass of the Cab Franc and a glass of the Cab Sauv to enjoy with our cheese and bread and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the awesome weather. We took home a bottle of the Cab Franc, to enjoy later, and would've have taken home the Cab Sauv as well, but couldn't justify the $28 price tag, although it was a very good wine.
Megan enjoying some wine with the beautiful Green Spring property as her backdrop.

Shot of the winery and part of the vineyard