4 Friends 4 Wines (MEGA POST)

I realize I have been struggling to keep up with even my meager weekly blogging schedule.  I am sure that my more devout readers have been disappointed at the lack of new material to read, but that number is probably all of 3 people, one being my mother, so I am not too concerned with it.  I have been super busy and the Wine Bloggers Conference was also happening.  I didn’t attend or participate or anything, it just happened to be going on while I was also busy.  With my company working me like a rented mule, I haven’t had much time to really enjoy some fine booze as I usually do, but this weekend some good friends visited so it called for a weekend of debauchery.

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Because we happened to plow through a lot of wine over the weekend, I decided it would be best to give you a rapid fire blog of the highlights.  This post is going to cover 4 different bottles of wine.  That’s right, FOUR!  Strap in, folks.  And my apologies for only having photos of empty bottles.  We just moved too quick to be messing with the camera.

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First up was the 2013 Figge Cellars Rosé of Pinot Noir.  I was actually present the day this fruit was pressed and it was a great experience to see the incredibly simple process of making a rosé in this style.  The fruit came in, got squeezed, and was transferred to a tank to ferment.  Of course I am over simplifying it but it was about an hour to prepare and press the fruit.  Pretty quick.  The fruit comes from the Pelio vineyard that Figge also uses to produce and fantastic Pinot Noir that I have previously written about.  The wine isn’t the best rosé I have ever had but it is certainly a really good one.  Light, crisp, delicate, but doesn’t have an overwhelming fruit component.  It certainly is not lacking in the bright strawberry and summer fruit flavor, as any good rosé should have, but it just doesn’t beat you over the head with it.  It’s a great backyard, summer evening wine.  Perfect for late summer when your friends have been overdosed on Chardonnay since Memorial Day.

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The second bottle we opened was a gem that I happened to come across at a great wine bar up in Los Gatos, CA called Enoteca La Storia, a fantastic wine bar and shop with a really knowledgeable staff and a great selection.  I was making a lamb ragú rigatoni and I knew that this bottle of 2012 Runquist Barbera would be absolutely incredible with the rich sauce but wouldn’t overpower the tomato.  I had this bottle tucked away in my cellar (aka closet) and wanted to wait at least a year to open it but given that it was going to be perfect with the food and I knew my friends would really appreciate it, I said, “what the hell.”  I have had a lot of different bottles from Runquist and he makes just about every varietal you can think of and somehow they are all killer.  The Barbera happens to be one of my favorites.  It has that wonderful old-world flavor of leather and smoke and earth but has the California twist of rich, red fruit flavor right up front.  I can’t get enough of this stuff.  I certainly will be picking up more bottles of this stuff whenever I can find it and probably resorting to finding some online.

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After Dinner the third bottle we opened was a Port-style dessert wine produced right here in good ol’ Monterey County.  It’s Manzoni’s Bella Vino Dessert Wine.  This family winery goes to great lengths to obtain the correct kind of fruit in the correct amounts and fortify it with a neutral spirit to produce as close to a Port wine as you can get outside of Portugal.  It also happens to be something that, to my knowledge, no one around here is doing.  So that’s fun.  I really enjoy this wine.  It’s sweet but not in that, ‘I just ate a spoonful of brown sugar,’ way that some domestic dessert wines can be.  It’s got dark cherry pie flavors with some touches of caramel but it never has that syrupy back end that ruins so many dessert wines for me.  Another great thing is that despite the fortification, meaning they add alcohol to it, it isn’t hot or boozy at all.  A great way to end a great meal.

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We had to take a short break on Saturday due to some work getting in the way of drinking, but that night we were right back to it.  We opened this great bottle of Pinot that my friend brought in exchange for me putting clean sheets on the guest bed.  The 2010 Anacapa Vintners Santa Maria Pinot Noir is a great highlight of the Santa Maria Valley’s Pinot production.  It is produced and sold as part of a project to display the diversity and complexity of Santa Barbara area wine and what the various regions within the county can produce.  It was a great Pinot to sip on before we headed out for a nice meal.  Plenty of complexity and depth on the back end while maintaining a really light body and delicate fruit flavor.  It’s exactly what I want from a Pinot when I am A) drinking it without food and B) forced to share.  It’s great, but not so good that I want to horde it all to myself.  Wine that lives in that butter zone between daily drinkable and special occasion bottle but at a reasonable price, is generally what I gravitate too.  We have already touched on my need to feel like I am getting a good “value” in my wine.  All around though, I have nothing bad to say about this bottle.  It really didn’t let me down in anyway and was interesting in a new way the whole way through the drinking process.

It was a great weekend and we moved through a lot of good stuff but I am in need of a break from wine.  That is another reason I have been spotty in my posting.  I am hoping to get back into the swing of things but when push comes to shove and until someone starts paying me to do this stuff, my day job has to take priority.  I do have a couple ideas that should conquer my writers block and be back to my schedule with a vengeance.  In the meantime, I have given you a lot of bottles to go seek out and try for yourselves.  My suspicion is you will only be able to find one of them online and I am not going to tell you which one.  It’s summer!  Get out to some tasting rooms in the lovely California sun!  If any of you decide to go taste and are struggling for ideas or places to go here in CA, feel free to contact me.  Hell, if you are in the area I may even join you!

3 thoughts on “4 Friends 4 Wines (MEGA POST)

    • Too bad only 1 night in Buelleton! If you can do a tasting at the Margerum Winery I would definitely try to do that. It is in Buelleton. Their tasting rooms are in downtown Santa Barbara though so they may not be too excited to do a private tasting at the winery. In Napa area, Domaine Carneros makes some great sparkling and has a beautiful facility and is a great place to start. Hess collection is up in the hills and has some great wine at decent prices. Further north in Rutherford you can hit Alpha Omega which has killer wine but can be a bit pricey, either way it is a great experience in the tasting room. Hall is just a little up the road from there in St. Helena and they don’t produce a wine under 90 points! Great tasting facility and incredible wines. A definite must stop. Healdsburg side: Gary Farrell is a personal favorite but it seems as though what they offer in the tasting room isn’t anything you couldn’t find in a decent wine shop. Lambert Bridge produces incredible wine but is pricey. That should keep you busy for a while! Looking forward to reading your blogs of your travels! If you happen through monterey county on your way from Buelleton to Napa be sure to look me up!

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