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?

Sunday Baking: A Pomerol & Double Chocolate Cookies

2006 Close de la Vieille Eglise CorkWhile the new house has been renovated inside, many of the walls and open spaces are awkwardly sized.  Since we’re having trouble finding shelving and furniture to fit the space, Hubby and I have decided to do a number of small do-it-yourself projects like building shelves, an deck box for outside, etc.  As you can imagine, though, these projects require spending an inordinate amount of time at Home Depot.  There is at least one trip a weekend, and often there are more.  The first weekend in February was one of those two-trips kind of weekend, not to mention a trip Bed, Bath, & Beyond, World Market, and Michael’s Arts & Crafts.  We spent the whole day running errands.  Hubby and  I are not big football people, so we skipped the Superbowl in favor of before coming home to an evening of sorting through everything and baking cookies.   And, of course, there was a good bottle of wine to go along with the activities.

2006 Close de la Vieille Eglise

2006 Close de la Vieille Eglise

The 2006 Close de la Vieille Eglise (winery, snooth) is from Pomerol, which is on the Right Bank in Bordeaux, France.  The wine is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes, and had a dark ruby color with a garnet rim.  On the nose, there were blackcurrants, roses, and hints of cedar and meat.  In the mouth, there were dark berries, meats, and cedar mixed with hints of licorice and chocolate.  The wine was medium-to-full bodied with medium tannins and acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At an SRP of $60, this bottle of wine was fantastic.  Admittedly, though, this is when my impatience gets the better of me.  The winery recommends that it continue to be cellared for several more years, and after having tasted the wine, I can only imagine how beautiful it would have been if I had let it continue to age.

2006 Close de la Vieille Eglise and Double Chocolate OriolosHowever, I didn’t let it age.  This wine was actually given to Hubby and me as a present from our loan officer at the closing of our new house, so opening it after a successful day of doing house stuff seemed appropriate.  Once the wine had a little bit of a chance to breathe, it was incredibly food-friendly.  I paired it with Hubby’s homemade meatloaf and roasted potatoes, which was a great pairing as the wine was flavorful and savory enough to stand up to the big flavors of the dinner.  After dinner, I baked the Double Chocolate Oriolos, which made for a very different, but equally delicious pairing.  I actually enjoyed the wine enough that I will

Overall, the cookies weren’t anything particularly different, but they were easy to make and were a big hit in the office.  The wine, on the other hand, offered something a little more special than usual, which was a nice treat on a Sunday night.  I actually enjoyed it so much that I’m planning to go to Schneider’s of Capitol Hill and buy several bottles, both to drink now and to cellar for later.  Together, the pairing of the wine and the cookies was a huge success.

Question of the Day: Did you watch the Superbowl?  Is it the type of event where you think about opening wine or is it strictly a beer drinking night?

 

Double Chocolate OriolosDouble Chocolate Oriolos
(*adapted from Rose Levy Beranabum’s recipe in The Baking Bible)
Yields: about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1/2  cup walnut halves
  • 10 tablespoons butter (1 1/4 sticks)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup powered sugar (lightly spooned and leveled off)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup bleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (for coating)

Walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 325F.
  • Spread walnuts evenly on baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times to toast evenly.
  • Once done toast, put on clean dish towel and rub to loosen skins.
  • Break nuts into bowl, discarding the skins.
  • Let cool.

Dough

  • In food processor, mix walnuts, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, powdered sugar, salt, and cocoa powder until walnuts are finely ground.
  • Add butter.
  • Pulse until butter has absorbed the cocoa mixture.
  • Add flour.
  • Pulse until there are a lot of moist, crumbly pieces and no dry flour.
  • Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats and place in refrigerator to chill.
  • In small bowl, place granulated sugar for coating.
  • Remove 1 of the dough halves to begin shaping cookies.
  • Take a rounded tablespoon of chilled dough and roll between the palms of your hands to create 1-inch balls.
  • Roll balls in sugar mixture until coated.
  • Place cookies on lined, chilled cookie sheets.  Keep cookies about 2 inches apart and press them down so that each is about 1/2 inch high.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes.
  • Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack

 

Price: $60
Overall: 4.5 Corks

A Food-Focused Kosher Bordeaux

Last week was a bit of a stressful week.  It was the first week back from vacation, which always results in the vacation blues, particularly as I went from tropical Jamaican weather to wintery DC weather.  On top of that, last week was also the State of the Union address, which as I mentioned is always a big deal for me and definitely means more work.  And, if all of that wasn’t enough, my new Boss, Bigger Boss, and Big Boss officially started on Thursday.

2008 Barons Edmond et Benjamin de Rothschild Haut-Medoc

2008 Barons Edmond et Benjamin de Rothschild Haut-Medoc

This is my first time working in an office where new management has taken over. I can’t begin to explain how happy I was to come home from vacation to find out I was going to keep my job, since that was an unknown when Hubby and I left for Jamaica.  But, to be honest, it wasn’t until this week that I realized the transition to new bosses is all of the excitement and anxiety of starting a new job, just without the added difficulty of having to meet new coworkers. So, by the time Friday rolled around, I was exhausted and ready for some wine and relaxation.

While Hubby and I tried to figure out what was for dinner, it occurred to me that January was almost over and I was at risk of missing one of my wine goals for 2012…and on the first month of the New Year!  Thankfully, I had a bottle of kosher red wine on my rack to help save the day, but it meant that dinner was decided based on my need to taste a kosher wine.

The 2008 Barons Edmond et Benjamin de Rothschild Haut-Médoc was a deep purple with hints of ruby.  On the nose, there were blackberries, cherries, cloves, and a hint of vanilla.  In the mouth, there were blackberries and cloves mixed with a hint of cedar and vanilla.  The wine was very dry with medium-to-high tannins and medium acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $32, this wine was definitely a good food wine, but on its own it was just a mediocre Bordeaux that clung to my teeth in an almost annoying way.  I ended up pairing it with chicken that was marinated in a garlic, herb, and wine mixture, steamed broccoli, and brown rice.  The food pairing toned down the wine’s clinginess and helped give it character that it was missing on its own.

Question of the Day: Have you ever had a kosher wine?  What were you thoughts on it?

Price: $32
Purchased at Wine Chateau
Overall: 3 Corks

WBC11: White & Rosé Wine Speed Dating…I Mean Speed Tasting

The big joke at the Wine Bloggers’ Conferences is to describe the live blogging wine tasting event as “speed dating” with wine.  Each conference attendee sits at a table, and everyone at each table will taste 20 wines over an hour period.  During that hour, a wine representative (usually the winemaker) has 5 minutes to talk about their wine, while conference attendees ask questions, taste the wine, and take notes before the representative moves on to the next table and a new representative comes arrives to start the process all over again.

White Wine Speed Tasting Kick-off.

White Wine Speed Tasting Kick-off.

The comparison to speed dating is perfect because 5 minutes is just enough time for a quick introduction and a little flirting before being able to make a decision as to whether or not there was enough interest for a follow-up.  At the same time, just like in speed dating, that 5 minutes isn’t enough time to learn everything or to really get a detailed impression.  That all said, I do hope that there is at least one major difference between speed dating and speed tasting—that most people aren’t tweeting during their speed dates!

I really enjoyed the speed tasting.   Unlike the WBC09, this year, the tastings were split into a white speed tasting and a red speed tasting, which meant that there weren’t any reds following whites.  This was definitely a welcome change.  I have to admit, though, that I was overall unimpressed with the white wine speed tasting.  There weren’t any major duds, but none of the white wines blew me away either.  I felt like I spent the hour tasting a lot of average or slightly above average wines, all of which I might have picked up from the store and experimented with myself.  It was a little disappointing.

2009 Decibel Sauvignon Blanc

2009 Decibel Sauvignon Blanc

2009 Decibel Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $16, winery)
Wine from New Zealand
Tart, flavorful, and creamy…not what I’ve come to expect from a NZ Sauv Blanc, but absolutely gorgeous.  For the price, this is definitely a wine to be on the lookout for.
4 corks

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs (SRP $20, winery, @GloriaFerrer)
Wine from California
Nice light salmon color and good bubbles.  Berries and limes with hint of white pepper and bright acidity.
4 corks

Shindig White

Shindig White

Shindig White (SRP $16, winery, @Vino50Wines)
Wine from New York
This Vidal Blanc-Riesling blend is “The ultimate sushi wine.”  It has a lime-like acid and stone fruits…really nice.
4 corks

2010 Veritas Sauvignon Blanc Reserve

2010 Veritas Sauvignon Blanc Reserve

2010 Veritas Sauvignon Blanc Reserve (SRP $25, winery, @VeritasWinery)
Hints of cucumbers and green peppers give crisp, clean feel. Citrusy…mostly grapefruits and limes.
4 corks

2008 Rodney Strong Reserve Chardonnay

2008 Rodney Strong Reserve Chardonnay

2008 Rodney Strong Reserve Chardonnay (SRP $40, winery, @RSVineyards)
Wine from California
Peaches, hazelnut, and cream on the nose. Peaches & cream mixed with wet stone and apricots in the mouth.  Smooth, but a little hot.  Nice, but I wouldn’t pay $40 for it.
4 corks

2009 King Estate Domain Pinot Gris

2009 King Estate Domain Pinot Gris

2009 King Estate Domain Pinot Gris (SRP $25, winery, @KingEstate)
Wine from Oregon
Certified organic
Subtle, good acid, nice balance.  Granny smith apples & Asian pears with a touch of peaches and cream.
3.5 corks

2010 Barren Ridge Vidal Blanc

2010 Barren Ridge Vidal Blanc

2010 Barren Ridge Vidal Blanc (SRP $15, winery, @BarrenRidge)
Wine from Virginia
Almost clear in color.  Super ripe yellow peaches on the nose, but nice peach and pear balance in the mouth.
3.5 corks

2010 Rappahannock Cellars Vigonier

2010 Rappahannock Cellars Vigonier

2010 Rappahannock Cellars Vigonier (SRP $23, winery, @RCellars)
Wine from Virginia
Ginger, stone fruits, pineapple…YUM!  Surprisingly high alcohol content (14.5%, but good balance)
3.5 corks

2010 Artesa Chardonnay

2010 Artesa Chardonnay

2010 Artesa Chardonnay (SRP$15, winery, @Clubartesa)
Wine from California
Spicy.  Baked pears and coconut.  This wine is very velvety and has a medium body.
3 corks

2008 Afton Mountain Vineyards Tête de Cuvée

2008 Afton Mountain Vineyards Tête de Cuvée

2008 Afton Mountain Vineyards Tête de Cuvée (SRP $30, winery, @AftonMountain)
Wine from Virginia
Carmel, crème brûlée, vanilla, citrus, and a little burbony thing going on.  Enjoyable, but a little pricey.
3 corks

2009 Viviana Superiore Cuvée

2009 Viviana Superiore Cuvée

2009 Viviana Superiore Cuvée (SRP $22, winery, @LlanoWine)
Wine from Texas
My first wine from Texas…ever!  The wine is sweeter on the nose than in the mouth.  Nose smells like sugar, ripe stone, and tropical fruits.  Mouth is a little more tart and balanced…pineapple and peaches.
3 corks

2009 Festival Rose Bordeaux blend

2009 Festival Rose Bordeaux blend

2009 Festival Rose Bordeaux blend (SRP $13, winery)
Wine from France
Smells funky…like wet forest and mushrooms.  Tastes bit bitter, like under ripe strawberries, oranges, mushrooms, and a bit of creaminess. Just eh.
2.5 Corks

Question of the Day: What’s the most unusual regional wine you’ve tasted?

Nostalgia, Lady Marmalade, and Moulin Rouge


In 2001, my group of girlfriends and I were in our 20s, single, and inseparable.  We lived in a city and subscribed to the philosophy of working hard and playing hard.  In retrospect, since we were all mindful of our careers in politics, background checks, and security clearances, our version of “playing hard” was probably pretty tame—working every day, happy hour almost every night, not leaving until last call, grabbing a few hours of sleep, and starting the cycle all 

over again the next day.  It was definitely a fun period in our lives.  At the time, “our” song was “Lady Marmalade,” and the movie, Moulin Rouge, was always on when we were together.  This group of girlfriends and I still keep in touch and we all still live in the DC area, but our 30s are definitely different from our 20s–still fun, but different.  Now, instead of closing down the bars, we’ll literally grab a glass of wine or two, or maybe even meet for brunch.  However, we still dance together to “our” song at weddings and when someone hears it on the radio, she sends an e-mail to the group saying thought of us. 

Because of my nostalgia for “Lady Marmalade” and Moulin Rouge, it’s not surprising that when I saw the bottle of 2004 Chateau du Moulin Rouge (snooth), I had to buy it.  Being from the HautMédoc, the wine is Merlot dominated, although it’s blended with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  The Chateau du Moulin Rouge had a medium ruby color, but was starting to show its age with a garnet rim.  On the nose, there was the smell of ripe, juicy strawberries and a hint of leather.  In the mouth, there were tart redcurrants that didn’t match the juiciness on the nose, followed by strawberries.  The finish was medium length, hinting at sour cherries and leather. 

Is this worth a glass after work? Eh…if you have a bottle on hand, drink it, but I wouldn’t go searching it out either.  At almost $20, this wine didn’t have a lot to offer.  It had an ok flavor, a thin body, and was fairly acidic.  Aging isn’t going to help, so if you have a bottle, I would drink it now.  In terms of food, I paired the Chateau du Moulin Rouge with cheeseburgers and corn on the cob, which was a good pairing and was better than drinking the wine on its own.  I probably had the wine built up in my head a little, since I was trying to take a walk down memory lane, but this wine just didn’t excite me in the way I had hoped.



Overall: 2 corks