My Love Affair With Wine

A lot of my friends have been asking me why I decided to start a wine blog?   Let’s start at the beginning.  I fell in love with wine around the age of 21 when I was waiting tables at a fine dining restaurant in South Carolina.  We got to taste the new wines so we could give recommendations to the customers because weren’t quite sophisticated enough to have a sommelier.   At the same time, I had wonderful friends that already had an appreciation for wine and didn’t think twice about buying a bottle of Opus One and enjoying it with me.  My curiosity to learn more about wine was aroused and a whole magical world filled with Cabernets and Pinot Noirs filled my day dreams.  As I always say, this started my ongoing love affair with the grape. 

One of the things I love most about wine are the stories that go along with so many bottles.  I can tell you about the night I celebrated my 30th birthday with Dom Perignon at the beautiful Avia Napa Hotel and the bubbly seemed to usher in a refreshing new era in my life.  When I think about graduating law school, I also recall the bottle of 2002 J Vineyards Pinot Noir that I split with my husband feeling so accomplished and relieved to be done with 3 tremulutous years.  Ask any other wine lover and I am sure they have stories surrounding their favorite bottles.

Another fascinating thing I love about wine is how I can go to one winery in Sonoma and then visit the winery next door and each produces different wines.  The grapes literally grow next to each other and the wines, even if they are the same varietal, taste completely different.  I know there are many reasons why, including the nuances of the land and what goes on after the grapes are picked, but it is still wonderfully exciting to me.

I also love how wine relaxes me after a stressful day, romances me on a date with my handsome husband, and celebrates me when I achieve something great.  I love how I can drink it for all of these reasons or for no reason at all.

I feel like I could write a novel about all of the reasons I love wine and I guess that pretty much sums up why I write this blog.  I simply enjoy sharing my love of wine with you. 

What are some of the reasons you love wine or some of your favorite wine stories?  I would love to hear them!

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A Wine That Makes Me Proud I’m Italian- Massolino Dolcetto d’Alba 2008

I was cruising around one of my favorite wine shops in OC and a bottle of Dolcetto caught my eye.  It’s not a wine I drink often, but after talking with the wine shop’s owner, I was convinced I was long overdue for a glass or two. 

About the Wine- From the Winery

Massolino Dolcetto d’Alba 2008 is a Dolcetto from Serrlunga D’Alba in Italy.  The wine has 13.5% alcohol and retails for around $20.  For more information see www.Massolino.it

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

The Dolectto pours a brilliant ruby color in the glass.  It has an intoxicating, fruit forward nose filled with dark fruit and floral notes.  At first sip, my mouth is in heaven.  Tastes of black cherry, dark chocolate, blueberry, and violet awaken my taste buds.  The wine is silky, smooth, and balanced.  A beautifully made wine that I will savor until the last sip. 

My Wine Rating- A-

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Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel 2009

I enjoy many of Bogle’s wines.  They almost always deliver an incredible amount of value and taste for around $10.  I often recommend Bogle wines to friends as a great everyday wine that they can find in almost any grocery store.  Their current releases of Petite Sirah and Chardonnay are among my favorites.  I have never tried the Old Vine Zinfandel but the bottle caught my eye while I was in Trader Joe’s this past weekend.   

About the Wine- From the Winery

Bogle 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel is from Lodi and Amador Counties in CA.  The wine has 14.5% alcohol and retails for around $10.  For more information see www.BogleWinery.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

The Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel has an intense, fruit forward nose filled with jammy blackberry and dark cherry.  The wine has sweet flavors of blackberry, raspberry, and cherries with hints of tobacco and spice in the finish.  I miss the big spicy finish that I always look for in Zinfandel but it is still a decent wine for $9.99.  If you try a bottle, let me know what you think!

My Wine Rating- B-

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Columbia Crest 2008 Horse Heaven Hills Merlot

I have a friend who religiously drinks Horse Heaven Hills Merlot from Columbia Crest as her mid-week wine so I thought I would take her advice and have a glass or two.  Columbia Crest is one of Washington’s most popular wineries and they have a reputation for making great wines at affordable prices. 

About the Wine- From the Winery

Columbia Crest 2008 Horse Heaven Hills Merlot is a blend of 96% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Malbec.   The wine comes from Washington and has 14.5% alcohol.  It retails for around $14 and for more information see www.ColumbiaCrest.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

The Columbia Crest pours a deep reddish-purple in the glass.  It has a nose filled with ripe blueberries, black cherry, cocoa, and a hint of tobacco.   The fruit forward Merlot is bursting with flavors of blackberry, black cherry, and spices.   A silky and incredibly easy to drink Merlot for under $15.  This is an impressive casual wine that is perfect for a summer BBQ.  Grab a bottle and enjoy…cheers!

My Wine Rating- B+

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Angeline 2009 Reserve Pinot Noir

Last night I went to an art auction benefiting a missions trip my sister is taking to Uganda and the wine of the night was Angeline 2009 Reserve Pinot Noir from Martin Ray Winery.  As we all know, wine selections for events can be rather disappointing but it turns out that this was a nice wine for the evening.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Angeline 2009 Reserve Pinot Noir is 100% Pinot Noir from California.  It has 13.9% alcohol and retails for $14.  For more information see www.martinraywinery.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

The Angeline Pinot Noir has a jammy blackberry nose with notes of spice and oak.  The wine is smooth and silky with tastes of ripe blackberry, plum, and vanilla.  It has mild tannins with a hint of spice in the finish.  It could use a little lift at the end but all in all it is a nice wine for the price.  A simple wine that was incredibly easy to drink on its own throughout the night.  It would also pair nicely with mushroom risotto or roasted duck.  

My Wine Rating- B-

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Wednesday Wine Pick- Smoking Loon 2009 Syrah

I love the Wednesday Wine challenge I have set for my blog.  It’s fun to seek out inexpensive wines that are worthy of drinking (even if I have to go through a couple of bad bottles to get there).   This week I decided to seek out an inexpensive Syrah.  I just enjoyed a wonderful bottle of Whetstone Napa Valley Syrah, which retails for a hefty $50, so I thought it would be fun to find a Syrah for under $15 that would still put that same smile (or at least similar smile) on my face. 

About the Wine- From the Winery

Smoking Loon 2009 Syrah

Smoking Loon’s 2009 Syrah is from California and has 13.9% alcohol.  It retails for $1o (although Trader Joe’s has it for $6.99) and you can find more information at www.SmokingLoon.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Smoking Loon Syrah pours a deep plum in the glass.  It has a nose of packed full of sweet, ripe strawberries, cocoa, and herbs.  Tastes of strawberries, cranberries, and oak are followed with a peppery finish.  A really nice wine you can find for under $10…I almost can’t believe how enjoyable it is considering I just drank the Whetstone last night.  A great pick for your Wednesday Wine!

My Wine Rating- B

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Martin Fierro 2008 Malbec

Yesterday I was shopping around the San Clemente Farmer’s Market and somehow managed to wander into a local wine shop (imagine that 🙂 ).   I was looking for Malbec for our Sunday night BBQ so I grabbed a few of bottles at different price points for some wine tasting fun.  One of the bottles was a 2008 Malbec from Martin Fierro.  I was hoping that this bottle would provide some sipping pleasure since it was the lowest priced of the wines I took home.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Martin Fierro 2008 Malbec

Martin Fierro 2008 Malbec Valle De Tulum San Juan is from Argentina.  It has 13.5% alcohol and retails for around $9.  For more information see www.bodegasborbore.com.ar

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

I tasted the Martin Fierro right after uncorking and decided to decant it for an hour.  After an hour, the young Malbec improved.  The wine has aromas of dark berries and cherry with notes of cedar.  On the palate are tastes of juicy blackberry and plum with a spicy finish.  The tannins are smooth and the wine is easy to drink.  For the price, I was happy with what the Malbec delivered.  A casual wine to pair with a juicy burger or some wonderful cheeses (including Manchego or Teleggio…some of my faves with Malbec).

My Wine Rating- B-

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An Impressive Pinot for Under $25- 2009 La Crema Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

I love a good Pinot Noir.  Easy to drink and complementary with a diverse variety of foods.  I have enjoyed La Crema Pinot Noirs for the last several years but, unfortunately, I wasn’t a huge fan of the 2008 vintage from Sonoma Coast.  As I took my first sip, I was hoping 2009 would be a better year…

About the Wine- From the Winery

2009 La Crema Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

La Crema’s 2009 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast is 100% Pinot Noir from Sonoma County.  The wine has 13.8% alcohol and retails for around $24.  For more information see www.LaCrema.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

The La Crema pours a ruby color in the glass.  The wine opens up with aromas of cherry, raspberry, and a touch of oak.  This Pinot Noir has a juicy palate of cherry, plum, oak, and dark cocoa.  The smooth tannins are followed by a dry finish that leaves you wanting another sip.   This is such a smooth and balanced wine…it may be the best Pinot Noir I have ever had from La Crema.  2009 definitely erased my memories of 2008.  I can’t wait to grab another bottle!

My Wine Rating- A-

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A Few More Napa Adventures

I always have a great time in Wine Country and this past time was no exception.  Here are a few highlights from the trip…

Vineyards in Calistoga

Visiting Quent and Linda Cordair at Quent Cordair Art Gallery in downtown Napa made for a great afternoon.  They had a special event with a couple of featured winemakers amidst all of their beautiful art.  I really enjoyed meeting Bridget Raymond of Courtesan Wines while I was there…her wines are wonderful and so is she. 

Quent Cordair Fine Art in Downtown Napa
Winemaker Bridget Raymond and I

Barrel tasting at Vincent Arroyo Winery was a great experience.  Be on the lookout for their 2008 Winemaker’s Reserve Petite Sirah…it was amazing out of the barrel and will be even better when it is available in the fall.

Barrel Tasting at Vincent Arroyo

I also got to eat at some of my favorite spots including the Oxbow Market, Bouchon, and even tried some Dim Sum from a Dim Sum Charlie’s food truck in Downtown Napa. 

Bouchon in Yountville
Oxbow Market
Dim Sum from Dim Sum Charlie's food truck

 

Hog Island Oyster Co.- some of the best oysters I have had!

The best news is I think I get to go back for a few days next week for “work”….that means there should be more Napa winery reviews to come soon 🙂

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Wednesday Wine Pick- Cline 2009 Zinfandel

I always get excited when I am looking for a Wednesday Wine Pick and find a wine that delivers what you would expect from a wine twice the price.  Cline Cellars 2009 Zinfandel is this week’s pick because it does just that.  You can find it at a lot of local grocery stores and wine shops for around $10 but I always get my bottles at Trader Joe’s for a steal at $7.99. 

About the Wine- From the Winery

The Cline 2009 Zinfandel comes from a variety of regions in California including Lodi and Sonoma.  It has 14% alcohol and for more information see www.ClineCellars.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Cline 2009 Zinfandel

The Cline 2009 Zinfandel has a sweet nose filled with strawberries and blackberries.  Tastes of strawberries, raspberries, and dark cherries finish with notes of pepper and vanilla.  This is a Zinfandel that is smooth and easy to drink.  It’s pairs perfectly with burgers and steaks off the grill so it is a great wine to bring to your next summer BBQ.  Hope you enjoy the pick and have a happy Wine Wednesday!

My Wine Rating- B

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