Michael and I do quite a bit of wine tasting on our vacations. As you know if you have read our blog before, we love to visit wineries taste and get the feel of a winery. Often you can get caught up in the moment (and the wine) and join a club or buy several bottles to take home. On other occasions if you have flown in and it’s the wrong time of year to have wine shipped, you go home empty handed. Today I want to explore the wines I remember and still want and maybe some of the why’s to that. Was it the location, the people, the wine itself or a combination.
I started this by just going through by memory of some of the wines that as we traveled and tasted stood out to me. Wines that I want to drink again.
Stoller Tempranillo, Lange Pinot Noir, Hart Family Vineyards Syrah and Chardonnay, Argyle Black Brut, Longoria Lovely Rita, Grgich Hills Fume Blanc, Carhartt Pinot Noir, Tablas Creek Vermentino, Terry Hogue Syrah, Vino Robles Petite Sirah, Lone Madrone The Will, Veritas Cabernet Franc, Wildhorse Unbridled Bien Nacido Pinot Noir and Trisaetum Riesling.
As you can see the list is long and this is just me quickly running through this in my brain, not going back (as the wine geek in me so desperately wants to) and scanning all the wineries that we have tasted at in all the different areas we have tasted. You will also note that I didn’t include years. I’m trying to keep my list short and I would have to research to remember the years and that would make my list grow! So we will try to keep this simple. I have a list of 15 wines that off the top of my head I loved and want to drink again. My list leans toward Syrahs and Pinots and then expands to many different varietals and includes a blend. So….with a list this long I will break it up into groups of 5 (cause I will want to wax poetic on each and you don’t want to be here reading all day!).
Stoller is located in the Dundee Hills in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Tempranillo is definitely not the first wine you would think of there. I was a bit taken about when I heard they grew it right there by the winery. The climate is much cooler than you would expect for a Tempranillo. It was enchanting. Dark and rich and a big contrast to the lighter more delicate Pinot Noirs we had been tasting. Also my friend Adam was with us and he knew the person doing our tasting. She was talking about her boyfriends new restaurant that he was opening and telling us about the bee hives they had in the blackberry patch in the middle of the vineyard and the blackberry honey they looked forward to getting. So….the atmosphere had me pretty enchanted also. Adam left with 3 bottles of the Tempranillo, so I will have to check with him to see if the wine lives up to the memory I have of it.
This particular Pinot that I remember was a blend of several vineyards and had a smokiness that I love. I had researched Langebefore going there and was exited to see Jack the cat. He actually greeted us at our car. There had been a blog post about Jack who they had adopted as a stray and named Jackie, only to find he was really a Jack. They had won Snooth’s winery of the year distinction earlier that year and I was excited to see the small family winery that I had heard so much about. They are again in the Dundee Hills.
In my research for our trip to Napa/Sonoma I had come across Hartford Family Vineyards who were doing a fund raiser while we were there for a local food bank. They were serving an appetizer to pair with their chardonnay and the proceeds from the appetizer would go to the food bank. Great food and wine pairings and for a charity? I was in. So we stopped by on a rainy December day to their beautiful Estate and had the crab cakes paired with their coastal Chardonnay. The pairing was perfect…the wine seemed to have a slight salinity that spoke to the crab cakes. I actually tried to order this wine once when I found it on a wine list to pair with seafood, only to have the waiter come back and tell me they were out! In addition we had a wonderful Syrah that smelled like bacon in the glass. I was enamored. One of the guys working in the tasting room was full of fantastic information and was so passionate speaking about the wine…I felt sure that we were looking at a future superstar winemaker. We did leave with a bottle of the Syrah and I long for more.
Michael does not like champagnes or sparkling wines usually. He says that the effervescence mutes the flavor for him and he has been known to allow a sparkling glass to sit and go flat before tasting it. Me…I like my bubbles. So Michael tasted Pinots and Chards and I tasted the bubbly when we got to Argyle. Argyle has great appeal because Rollin Souls is just so cool! He is microbiologist who was roomates with Lyle Lovett in college. The tasting room is lovely with a big wrap around porch and the tasting room staff were down to earth. When they poured the Black Brut for me I was in heaven. Think cherry cola elevated to an extreme. I still dream about this deep dark sparkler.
Santa Barbara and the Santa Rita Hills are known for great Pinot Noirs and Longoria makes some of the best. This tiny tasting room in Los Olivos is in a historic building. I had read about Richard Longoria in Steve Heimoff’s book, “New Classic Winemakers of California”, so my expectations were high. I was surprised when I enjoyed the Lovely Rita more than the vineyard designated Pinots. We left empty handed since we had flown in but this is one wine that is on my list to order and have shipped to me this fall!
Okay….that’s a start. If you enjoyed this and are interested in the other wines I can’t forget, stay tuned for the next couple of posts!