A Mumm Grande Année to Kickoff a Great Year

Hawaii 2017 photo collate

Top: hubby and me on the balcony of our room at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa on the Big Island before heading out to our 10-year anniversary dinner at the Kona Inn Restaurant; bottom left: reading in the pool and drinking a Maui Brewing Company Big Swell IPA at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa; bottom right: me at Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park.

I know I’m more than a month behind with this, but…HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2017 is a big year in the A Glass After Work household because not only did Hubby and I celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary in January, but also I will be celebrating my 40th birthday in May. And, we started the festivities right away with 12-day vacation in Hawaii for our anniversary followed by a half marathon and party weekend in New Orleans for Hubby’s birthday. In fact, since the start of the year, we’ve spent almost as much time at home as we have traveling, and I’m off again to Nashville for work next week. So, 2017 is off to a crazy start, which is why I’ve been slow about posting. However, there are a lot of fun things to share! With that, let’s talk wine…

Hubby and I stayed in for New Year’s Eve. With all the upcoming travel, we thought a quiet night in while drinking some good bubbly with a cheese and charcuterie board and tasty hors d’oeuvres was what we needed. In honor of our 10-year wedding anniversary and all the exciting things that 2017 has in store, the 2007 Mumm Napa Grande Année seemed like the right choice.

2007 Mumm Grande Année – At $64, it can be hard to justify the price, but this sparkling wine from California is a special one and worth the splurge. It’s the right balance of flirty and serious, of flavor and bubbles. This bubbly is a beautiful sipper that can be enjoyed on its own over intimate conversation or with a romantic, candlelit dinner. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2007 Mumm Grande Année

The 2007 Mumm Grande Année (winery) is a sparkling wine from Napa Valley, California and is made with 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay grapes. The bubbly had a light golden color with a lot of small, persistent bubbles. On the nose, there were limes, as well as a hint of baked pear and vanilla. In the mouth, there were limes and green apples mixed with hints of raspberries and cream. The sparkler had a light-to-medium body and nice acidity that kept the wine fresh without being overpowering.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $64, it can be hard to justify the price, but this bubbly is a special one and worth the splurge. That said, it’s actually only available to Club Vivant members through the winery, so that will make it harder to get. However, if you have a chance to grab a bottle, you should. It will bring a smile to your lips as you take your first sip, and whoever you’re sharing with will appreciate the flirtatiousness and drinkability of this sparkler.

As for our night with the Grande Année? It was the perfect sparkler for us. Hubby has started to drink a little, so he indulged in a couple of glasses, and what he found particularly pleasing was that this sparkling wine was flavorful without being overpowered by alcohol. We both thought the bubbly was a beautiful sipper on its own, while also being a nice pairing wine. The acidity and bubbles countered the fattiness from the homemade Mexican chicken and cheese dip, while complimenting the flavors of the Cherry Glen Silver goat and Truffle Gouda cow cheeses. Overall, we couldn’t have asked for a better start to 2017.

Here is hoping this is a “Grande Année” for you all…cheers!

Question of the Day: How is 2017 starting for you? Have you enjoyed any particularly delicious wines, beers, or cocktails?

Price: $64
Purchased at Mumm Napa website
Overall: 4.5 Corks

WBC16 Pre-Conference (Part 5): Last Day in Livermore Valley

Las Positas Vineyard

Las Positas Vineyard

The final vineyard stop on the Livermore Valley pre-wine bloggers’ conference excursion was to Las Positas Vineyard. The gracious hosts not only had space for us to taste their wine, but also the wines from several other wineries in the area. There were also several booths from local businesses. Our schedule up until this point had been crammed full and a little rushed (although I wouldn’t have wanted to cut anything off the schedule!), so it was nice to have a little bit of time to relax and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

2012 Las Positas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – At $68, this California red wine is very non-intrusive. It has medium body, a mix of fruit and spice characteristics, and is definitely meant for food. Rating: 3 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Las Positas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

2012 Las Positas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (winery)
Price $68
Dark ruby color
Plums, cherries, and a hint of spice on the nose
Plums, cherries, tobacco, and hints of clove in the mouth
Medium body and tannins, high acid
I know this wine won the Double Gold at the 2015 San Francisco International Wine Competition and the Silver at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, but I was really underwhelmed, particularly at such a high price point.
3 Corks

2013 Heine Petite Sirah by Vasco Urbano Wine Company – At $48, this California red wine is the epitome of big, bold, and beautiful. Just give it a little time to breath and the wine will be one to spend an entire evening getting to know. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Heine Petite Sirah by Vasco Urbano Wine Company

2013 Heine Petite Sirah by Vasco Urbano Wine Company (winery)
Price: $48
Grapes: 100% Petit Sirah
Cases produced: 100
Dark inky purple
Blueberry, blackberry, and boysenberry syrup on the nose
Add chocolate to that in the mouth
Big, grippy tannins, full body, and good acid
This wine is the epitome of big, bold, and beautiful once it has a little time to breath. There is a lot going on, but its so well balanced that it’s the type of wine I want to spend an entire evening getting to know.
4.5 Corks

2013 Dante Robere Estate Syrah – At $38, this California red wine is one that is a food-friendly wine that you should feel comfortable ordering at a restaurant or grabbing in the store. Nothing crazy different, but solidly enjoyable. Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Dante Robere Estate Syrah

2013 Dante Robere Estate Syrah (winery)
Price: $38
Grapes: 100% syrah
Cases produced: 115
Medium-to-dark ruby color
Blackberries, smoke, and cedar on the nose
Blackberries, dark plums, smoke, cedar and baking spices in the mouth.
Medium-to-full body, tannins, and acid.
3.5 Corks

And with that, my final thoughts on Livermore Valley…

Collin Cranor, the winemaker for Vasco Urbano Wine Comapny and Nottingham Cellars

Collin Cranor, the winemaker for Vasco Urbano Wine Comapny and Nottingham Cellars

WOW! There is no doubt, I’ve fallen in love with wine from the area. Admittedly, my favorites were Murrieta’s Well, which I reviewed here, and Vasco Urbano Wine Company, which we didn’t visit, although we tasted their wines at a variety of stops throughout the Livermore Valley trip (my thoughts on their wines are here). Vasco Urbano specializes in Rhone styles (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Petite Sirah, and the delicious blends that can be made from those grapes), so it’s not a surprise that I enjoyed their wines as those tend to be the grapes I gravitate towards. That said, their winemaker, Collin Cranor, does amazing things with grapes, as I also really enjoyed the wines we tasted from Nottingham Cellars—Vasco Urbano’s sister winery. Nottingham Cellars wines are all Bordeaux-style red blends made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot.

All that said, if you aren’t drinking wine from the Livermore Valley, you should be. Whether it’s the larger producers or the smaller producers, the wines are mostly reasonably priced and they are ridiculously good.

Question of the day: When you pick wine for yourself, would you go for the Rhone styles or the Bordeaux styles?

A Storybook Zin for a Not-So-Storybook Day

The first week back at work after vacation is always rough, but last week was particularly so for me. Not only had I spent 10 days out of the office hardly checking email, but also I had already spent more than half of August traveling (some work, some personal) because Congress was on recess for 7 weeks. The pace of work and life had been so much slower, and I was settling into it. But, the start of September also meant the restarting of a frenetic pace. I was averaging 8-10 meetings a day with congressional staff, not counting my internal work meetings and conference calls that started up again now that work is in full swing. Not that any of it’s bad. In fact, despite the chaos, things at work are going really well. However, by the time last Friday hit, I was a combination of wound up tight and exhausted. When I walked in the door, I went straight for a bottle I knew would make me smile and shrug off the stress of the week.

2012 Storybook Mountain Vineyards Zinfandel Estate Reserve – At $68, this wine is not an every day wine, but it is a nice splurge when looking for something a little special.  It’s luscious, inviting, and absolutely lovely…the type of wine you just want to sink into.  Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Storybook Mountain Vineyards Estate Reserve Zinfandel

The 2012 Storybook Mountain Vineyards Zinfandel Estate Reserve (winery) is from Napa Valley, California. The wine was a dark ruby with hints of purple. On the nose, there were blackberries, nutmeg, cinnamon, and hints of cedar. In the mouth, there were blackberries, blueberries, and baking spices mixed with something floral and cedar. The wine had a medium-to-full body, acid, and tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $68 (or $61.20 if you belong to the wine club like I do), this wine is not an every day wine, but it is a nice splurge when looking for something a little special. It’s luscious and inviting, the type of wine you just want to sink into and enjoy.

I sipped on my first glass while sitting in the living room talking with Hubby about our respective days. The second glass was an amazing accompaniment to Hubby’s burgers with applewood smoked cheddar and polenta fries. And, the third glass, well, that was for snuggling up on couch with an afghan and my book, and I couldn’t have had a better wine for that.

I didn’t end up finishing the bottle on Friday night, and I had two glasses left for Saturday night. The wine it didn’t pair well with dinner (my fault, not the wine’s), but on it’s own, it continued to be absolutely lovely…possibly better on night two than on night one. All in all, it was an outstanding choice to enjoy a Friday night while ushering in the next busy season at work.

Question of the Day: Do you do anything special or have any rituals to help get back into “work mode” after vacation?  

Price: $68 (or $61.20 for wine club members)
Purchased at Storybook Mountain Vineyards
Overall: 4.5 Corks

WBC16 Pre-Conference (Part 1): Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard

5 Livermore Valley Wines from the Ghielmetti Estate Vineyards – Ranging from $24-$165, these 5 dry wines from California are a nice introduction to the variety of styles in the region. There was one rosé wine, two white wines, and two red wines, and they were all small production wines that are worth checking out. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

5 Livermore Valley Wines from the Ghielmetti Estate
Vineyards – Ranging from $24-$165, these 5 dry wines from California are a nice introduction to the variety of styles in the region. There was one rosé wine, two white wines, and two red wines, and they were all small production wines that are worth checking out. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

5 Livermore Valley Wines from the Ghielmetti Estate Vineyards – Ranging from $24-$165, these 5 dry wines from California are a nice introduction to the variety of styles in the region. There was one rosé wine, two white wines, and two red wines, and they were all small production wines that are worth checking out. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

Ghielmetti Vineyards in the Livermore Valley Wine Country.

My first day at the 2016 Wine Bloggers’ Conference (WBC16) was on a pre-conference excursion through the Livermore Valley Wine Country. This trip was the first time that I could remember tasting wines from the Livermore Valley, and I learned a few important things that have made me a permanent fan of Livermore Valley wines:

  1. While I’m always a Petite Sirah fan, I’m absolutely in love with the Petite Sirah coming from Livermore;
  2. Grapes in Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard

    Grapes in Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard

    Semillon never really made a strong impression on me before, but the Semillon from Livermore, whether in a blend or on its own, are worth searching out;

  3. There are some really small producers in the area making limited quantities of the wines…and I loved most of them, which means I’m need to diligently get on their websites and place some online orders directly from the wineries; and
  4. For some unknown reason, I never paid much attention to the two largest producers in the area—Concannon Vineyards and Wente Vineyards—and that was a huge mistake on my part because they are making incredibly good wine at all price ranges.
Looking out at Grapes in Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard

Looking out at Grapes in Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard

And, with that overview in mind, let’s start at the beginning…

Our first stop was the Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard, which is a 64-acre site that provides grapes to wineries in the area, and we tasted wine from a number of them.

2015 Vasco Urbano Wine Company – At $24, this California rose from the Livermore Valley is light bodied and nicely balanced. It’s perfect for a cheese board or some porch sipping, and it will carry over nicely into the fall. You might even want to consider it for your Thanksgiving table. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2015 Vasco Urbano Wine Company Grenache Rose

Vasco Urbano Wine Company (winery)
2015 Grenache Rosé
SRP: $24
Grapes: 100% Grenache from the Ghielmetti Vineyards
Cases produced: 84
Light Salmon Pink
Strawberries and lime
Bright acid, light body, and very nicely balanced
4.5 corks

2015 “Lola” White Wine by The Steven Kent Winery – At $24, this California white wine from the Livermore Valley is a fantastic summer white. It’s light and refreshing. It would be perfect with oysters, crabs, or other seafood. Rating 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2015 “Lola” White Wine by The Steven Kent Winery

The Steven Kent Winery (winery)
2015 “Lola” White Wine
SRP $24
Grapes: 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Semillon, both from the Ghielmetti Vineyards
Cases produced: 396
Clear, light straw yellow
Peaches, limes, and oranges with a hint of lemon curd and pear
Bright acidity with a light body
Great summer wine. I wished I had some seafood or cheese to pair with this.
4 corks

2015 3 Steves Winery Sauvignon Blanc – At $25, this California white wine from the Livermore Valley is very interesting and would be best paired with food. If you like wines with a bit of funk (think melon rinds and oysters) mixed with luscious peaches and pineapple, then this is the wine for you. Rating 3 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2015 3 Steves Winery Sauvignon Blanc

3 Steves Winery (winery)
2015 Sauvignon Blanc
SRP $25
Medium yellow with a touch of effervescence in the glass
Something funky on the nose…maybe oysters and melon rinds? Mixed with citrus and pineapple.
The mouth was all peaches and tropical fruits
Very interesting, and probably goes really well with seafood. That said, the funkiness is not my style.
3 corks

2014 Woods Family Vineyards Grenache – At $30, this California red wine from the Livermore Valley is offers something a little different, but is very enjoyable. The aromas are powerful and the taste of strawberries, cherries, a touch of cinnamon and a hint of eucalyptus are delicious. Rating 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 Wood Family Vineyards Grenache

Wood Family Vineyards (winery)
2014 Grenache
SRP $30
Grapes: Grapes: 100% Grenache from the Ghielmetti Vineyards
Cases produced: 122
Medium ruby color
Wow…that nose! Strawberries and cherries with a touch of cinnamon
On the nose, there is also a hint of eucalyptus at the end
Slight creaminess in though
Medium tannins and body. Different, but enjoyable.
4 corks

2012 “Lineage” by The Steven Kent Winery – At $165, this California red wine from the Livermore Valley is Bordeaux blend that is smooth, elegant, and delightful. Sure…the price point is a little high, but if you’re looking for a food-friendly, yummy wine, you won’t go wrong with this choice. Rating 4.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 “Lineage” by The Steven Kent Winery

The Steven Kent Winery (winery)
2012 Lineage (Bordeaux blend)
SRP $165
Grapes: 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, and 4% Petit Verdot from the Ghielmetti Estate and Home Ranch Vineyards
Cases produced: 300
Medium-to-Dark Ruby
Blackberries, cherries, baking spices, and a hint of prune
Medium-to-Full body, tannins, and acid.
A bit high in price, but very yummy
4.5 corks

Selfie in Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard

Selfie in Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard

Question of the Day: Have you ever been to Livermore Valley, California? Have you ever had any wines from there? What were your thoughts? Do you have any favorites to share?

Bonus Question of the Day: If you went to WBC16, what were your thoughts on the Livermore Valley wines?

Snowzilla Day 1: A Few Inches and a Bouchaine Cabernet

Snowzilla 2016: Day 1 -- Our backyard as the snow started and then again around 7:30pm, along with our last measure of the night.

Snowzilla 2016: Day 1 — Our backyard as the snow started and then again around 7:30pm, along with our last measure of the night.

**Here is my blog post about Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 1), Snowzilla Day 2 (Part 2)Snowzilla Day 3and Snowzilla Day 4**

As Monday January 18 started, so did the rumblings that DC might get a really big snowstorm at the end of the week. In fact, everyone was so focused on Friday’s impending storm that very little attention was paid to the 1-3 inches that were predicted for mid-week. Thankfully, I walk to work, so I wasn’t one of the unfortunate Washingtonians who had more than a 7-hour drive home on icy, untreated roads, but I definitely heard the stories. The debacle of Wednesday started panic about what was in store for the more than 2 feet of snow that was expected later in the week. By the time Friday rolled around, my office decided we could all work from home in the morning and then we would close in the afternoon when the federal government closed.

The snow started around 1:30pm, and by the time we did our last shoveling of the night, there were still only a few inches on the ground. However, like most Washingtonians, we were prepared for Snowzilla. We made sure there was enough “snow day” type food, but also some well-planned out wine options. On that first night, Hubby made homemade tomato sauce with brown rice pasta, and I opened up a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from one of my wine clubs that I’d been saving.

2012 Bouchaine Landucci Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – At $70, this small production red wine from is a great option for special occasions. It’s easy to drink, very food friendly, and incredibly delicious. Cheers! Ratings 5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.comThe 2012 Bouchaine Landucci Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) is from the Combsville area of Napa, California. The wine was a deep purple color. On the nose, there were a lot of dark fruits–black plums, blackberries, and black cherries–mixed with a hint of baking spices. In the mouth, there were black plums and cherries mixed with cinnamon and hints of nutmeg and smoke. The wine was full bodied with good acid and tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $70, there is no doubt that this wine is expensive, but it’s also absolutely delicious. Only 505 cases were produced, so it’s small production, and it’s a wine that is very enjoyable now, but also has enough structure and flavor that it could be cellared for at least another 5 years. Unfortunately, when I went to go buy another couple of bottles to hold onto for a while, it looks like the winery is already sold out.

Spaghetti and sauce for Snowzilla night 1The wine was one I drank leisurely through the first night of the blizzard. It was a nice accompaniment to Hubby’s homemade sauce, and it was the perfect for cuddling up on the couch in front of a fire after our last round of shoveling for the night.

Overall, at this price range, this is a special occasion type of wine. And, if you’re looking for that special bottle, particularly one to go with a hearty meal or vibrant conversation, this is a wine you should consider.

Question of the Day:  Do you live in an area that gets a lot of snow?  Is alcohol something that you stock up on in your snowstorm preparations?  What’s your go-to snow day choice?

Price: $70
Purchased at Bouchaine Vineyards Wine Club
Overall: 5 Corks