Meiomi Belle Glos – 2012 Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is one of those grapes…one of those wines…that fills my head, and nose, and palate with certain stereotypes of what it should be.   I admit it – I’m guilty of judging a wine by what it “should” be.  I’m sure you know what I mean.  Anyone who’s ever seen a dog show knows – you judge it against the breed standard, not whether you happen to like it.  But this week I learned that…well…tasting wine isn’t a dog show.

This wine has been eating at my brain for several days now.  Would I consider it your quintessential Pinot Noir?  No.  Did I like it?  It was good…not great…but good.  I was a little surprised by just how jammy this wine was on the nose.  I mean…jammy.  Intensely, over-the-top, give-me-a-piece-of-toast, jammy.  Deep garnet in color, but not all that leggy.  The first taste covered my tastebuds with dark fruits that mingled with an interesting leatheriness.  There was a hint of coffee in there too.  Very full body.  The finish was particularly long, with only the slightest bit of heat.  It did pair well with chicken cacciatore and rustic bread.  I look forward to trying this wine again in a year or two.

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River Road Vineyards – 2005 William & Mary (Presidents Collection) Cabernet Sauvignon

I love finding a bottle in my collection that I forgot I had.  I love it even better when I open it up and find out that it’s pretty good after all these years.  When I found this one I rolled the bottle around, up to the light, to see if I could see any of that nasty sediment that happens in wines long forgotten.  I didn’t see anything, so that was a good omen.  The cork was in good shape, too – another good sign.  I pulled out that little cork and immediately poured a small tasting’s worth.  The color was a deep, velvety red.  Not particularly leggy, but that’s ok.  I let it sit for just a few minutes, and when I came back to it I gave it a swirl and a sniff to see what I might find.  Cherry.  Tons of deep, dark, fruity cherry.  The flavors were totally in sync with the cherry aroma – lots of rich fruit, with lots of leather, and definite spice and eucalyptus on the tip of my tongue – maybe even a hint of espresso that lingered into the finish.  The tannins were firm, and allowed just a bit of acid through.  The finish was nice – moderately long, and the flavors remained.  This wine paired wonderfully with a hearty Italian dinner of homemade stuffed shells in a chunky tomato sauce, and rustic Italian bread with spicy olive oil, of course.

Wine Wonderings – Ecclesiastes, in a bottle

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”   Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I look back over the years, and recall some of the best times I’ve known in my life, and relish each one of those moments.  Many of those memories were accompanied by wine, and just a handful had wine at the very center.

One of those times was nearly 20 years ago, when I took a trip to Southern California with my then boyfriend (who is now my husband), and after a few days with family, we opted for an afternoon exploring Southern California’s blossoming wine industry.  We made our way to one particular winery, and restaurant, where we enjoyed a fabulous tasting and delicious accompaniments.  Of course we came way with several bottles of our favorites from the afternoon, and after the journey back home put our cargo of vineyard gold into storage for a special occasion.  Days, months, and yes, years passed, and although we spoke fondly of that time on a regular basis, we couldn’t bring ourselves to actually open the bottles.  We thought that if the wine ended that somehow so would those memories.

I know, I know…how distorted can you get.

But I digress…

A week or so ago my husband was rummaging around in the basement, and when he came back upstairs he was holding an old, familiar bottle.  Yes, a bottle of memories from that long-ago trip.  He asked if we could open it, and with a slight hesitation, I agreed.  I held the bottle, with just a small lump in my throat, and held it up to the light.  I could see sediment floating around in the wine, and it was evident, even through the green glass, that dark, rich wine we tried all those years ago was now faded.  I set the bottle on the counter and put the corkscrew into the cork, but only half of the crumbly cork came out.  Even my ah-so was no match for it.  I pulled out a strainer, and then shoved the cork into the bottle with a butter knife – not exactly a professional thing to do, but oh well.  I poured the wine through the strainer and into a glass, but the liquid in the glass was faded, old and very tired looking.  A quick sniff of the glass yielded an aroma that was very off, and my head instinctively snapped back from the glass.

My heart sank a bit, but when I looked over at my husband, who was standing just a few feet away watching the whole scenario play out, he smiled at me and chuckled a little bit.  He told me that he was sure that “they make more” and that the wine they make now is probably even better than what we tried all those years ago.  He took my hand and we went downstairs and picked out another bottle for the evening, which was indeed a good choice.

After this experience I couldn’t help but think about the words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes…there is a time for everything…under heaven.  In the world of wine, there is indeed “a time to keep and a time to throw away”.  I thought about how much life is like that wine.  We need to drink in the joy of life when the time is right, and stop putting it off until things are “perfect”.  Celebrate life, enjoy the moments, and drink in the perfect fruit of joy.  Like wine, we can hold onto life so tightly that we never allow ourselves to enjoy it.  And when a bad bottle happens, throw it away, let it go, and move on to new wine, and new joy.  So pop that cork my dear friends, and celebrate the joy that today brings.  I promise you won’t regret it.

Francis Ford Coppola – 2004 Syrah-Shiraz Green Label

There are some great wines that mature gracefully with age.  Some do not.  I popped this bottle with hopes that time would have been kind to this syrah – after all, syrah frequently has the raw materials for great aging.  I immediately noticed that the color wasn’t quite what I was expecting – what it probably once was.  I did capture the aromas of a deep cherry, melded to oak.  It wasn’t bad.  I tasted and found very deep, jammy flavors of black fruit, and just a little bit of spice, but sadly, past its prime.  This bottle contained a lesson far more important than the wine.  Not every wine, or moment, should be saved for later.  Some wines should be drunk in the moment.

Terra Valentine – 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon (Spring Mountain District)

This tasting got off to a rocky start when the cork broke when I was opening the bottle.  I had half a notion to move on to another wine (as I’ll admit to not having an ah-so handy), but I decided that I really did want to give this a try.  I committed the sin of pushing the cork into the bottle, whipping out a fine tea strainer, and pouring away, figuring I’d catch any stray cork bits.  The rocky start turned into a wonderful wine experience.  The color was deeply rich, with long legs.  The aromas were amazing – full and lush, with deep, dark cherries and plums with a touch of currant, and lovely, mellow tobacco and leathery notes.  I couldn’t wait for that first sip, which was just amazing.  This 12 year old beauty was round and very well balanced.  The dark fruits were true to their aromas, and there was a hint of herb and licorice.    The tannins were perfectly melded in this amazing wine.  I am so glad that I didn’t give up on this one.  We enjoyed it with a rich and spicy Italian meal, and this cab sauv was the star of the show.

Michael David Winery – 2009 Seven Deadly Zins

I had mixed expectations with this old vine zinfandel.  A low price and high score from Robert Parker pulled me in to giving this red a try.  I opened the bottle to aromas of pepper, plum, dark berries and a little dark cherry.  My nose did get the slightest bite from the alcohol, which is a little on the high side at 15%.  The alcohol was noticeable at first sip, but resolved quickly.  The mouth feel was generally soft, full-bodied, but the fruits were evident.  I will admit that I think my palate is a little sensitive to sugars, but the taste was sweet to me, which perplexed me, particularly in light of the higher alcohol.  For what it’s worth, my husband loved the wine.  We had it with a seared petit filet, and it held up very nicely.