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?

5 American Red Wines for July 4

If you’re in the DC area, the cold, rainy weather probably has you in the mood for red wine, but otherwise, it’s sometimes hard to find a red wine that goes well with the warm summer weather. However, red wine is made for BBQ. Here are a few great red wine ideas that are under $25 and worth about opening today for your cookout. Happy Fourth of July!

One Hope Pinot Noir – At $19 a bottle, this red wine from California not only tastes great, but also helps fund rescue animal adoptions, as half the proceeds go to charity. The wine is juicy with a touch of sweetness and begs to be paired with grilled Portobello mushrooms, goat cheese, and girlfriends. Rating: 3.5 out of 5. | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 One Hope Pinot Noir

The 2013 One Hope Pinot Noir (website, amazon) is a California wine made by Rob Mondavi, Jr. and half the proceeds of the wine are donated to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help fund pet adoptions. This wine tastes of sweet, juicy strawberries and Bing cherries mixed with hints of cinnamon. It would be a great wine to pair with grilled stuffed Portobello mushrooms, especially if you’re stuffing them with goat cheese. I gave this wine 3.5 corks and purchased it for $19.

Mark West Black Pinot Noir – At $14, this surprisingly full-bodied red wine from California is not what a typical Pinot Noir. It’s a bit darker and more brooding, without being as in-your-face as a Cabernet. Definitely a wine to think about when looking for an in-between. Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 Mark West Black Pinot Noir

The 2014 Mark West Black Pinot Noir (winery) is a red wine from California. It’s a surprisingly full-bodied Pinot, with black cherry, tobacco, and mocha characteristics. It’s a nice cookout option because it’s smooth and easy to drink while you’re standing around the grill, but it will also pair particularly well with pulled pork, grilled chops, or burgers. I gave this wine 3.5 corks and received it as a sample, but the suggested retail price is $15.

Barefoot Merlot – At $8 a bottle, this red wine from California has a fantastic quality price ratio. If you are looking for a red wine and know you’ll be drinking more than one glass, this approachable red is a perfect everyday option. Rating: 3.5 out of 5. | AGlassAfterWork.com

Barefoot Merlot

The Barefoot Merlot (website) is a California red wine that is perfect for a party. While not very complicated, this Barefoot wine was surprisingly easy to drink and enjoyable. The wine is medium-bodied and has dark fruit flavors—black plums, blueberries, and blackberries—with just a hint of baking spice. I preferred the wine with just a touch of chill (not actually cold), which also makes it the perfect way to keep cooler while still drinking a red wine during the summer. I gave this wine 4 stars and received it as a sample, but the suggested retail price is $8.

Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon – At $13 a bottle, this red wine from Lodi California is full-bodied with firm tannins and just plain beautiful. It’s a plush wine that is perfect to enjoy with BBQ ribs or on its own while sitting on the patio with friends. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon

The Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) is a red wine from Lodi, California. It’s a full bodied wine with firm tannins, and lots of black cherry and blackberry flavors that are mixed with hints of cedar and black pepper.  This plush red wine is perfect to enjoy with BBQ ribs or on its own while sitting on the patio with friends. I gave this wine 4 corks and received it as a sample, but the suggested retail price is $13.

2013 Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon – At $24, this red wine from California lingers in the mouth and leaves you wanting more. It has nice fruit flavors mixed with some savory notes that are perfect for enjoying on its own or pairing with beef, lamb, or pasta. Cheers! Ratings 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Francis Ford Coppola Winery Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon

The Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon (winerysnooth) is from California and, as long as you give it a little time to breath before drinking it, the wine is fruity upfront, has some savory notes in the middle, and a finish that lingers, begging for another sip to follow. If you’re breaking out the smoker, this is a wine you should open with it. The full-to-medium body will be able to stand up to the flavor of the food, while also enhancing it. I gave this wine 4.5 corks and received it as a sample, but the suggested retail price is $25.

Question of the Day: At a BBQ or cookout, are you more likely to drink beer, wine, or liquor?

 

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

Celebrating 7 Years of Blogging with a Coppola Cab

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

2013 Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon – At $24, this red wine from California lingers in the mouth and leaves you wanting more. It has nice fruit flavors mixed with some savory notes that are perfect for enjoying on its own or pairing with beef, lamb, or pasta. Cheers! Ratings 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon – At $24, this red wine from California lingers in the mouth and leaves you wanting more. It has nice fruit flavors mixed with some savory notes that are perfect for enjoying on its own or pairing with beef, lamb, or pasta. Cheers! Ratings 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Francis Ford Coppola Winery cork 2013It’s hard to believe, but 7 years ago yesterday I posted my first wine review, which was of Francis Ford Coppola Winery’s 2006 Diamond Collection Cabernet Sauvignon.  Since then, I’ve tried to celebrate my blogiversary with a Coppola wine, and this year is no different.  I spent Saturday morning running errands before heading to an early afternoon knitting class to work on my lace knitting technique. After knitting, Hubby and I did our taxes, and then settled into a relaxing evening.  I opened a Coppola wine, grabbed the shawl I was working on in my knitting class, and watched a good Saturday night movie.

2013 Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon – At $24, this red wine from California lingers in the mouth and leaves you wanting more. It has nice fruit flavors mixed with some savory notes that are perfect for enjoying on its own or pairing with beef, lamb, or pasta. Cheers! Ratings 4.5 out 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2013 Francis Ford Coppola Winery Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2013 Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon (winery, snooth) was from the Alexander Valley in California and was made with 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec, and 5% Cabernet Franc grapes.  The wine was a deep, blood-like red.  On the nose, there were strawberries, blackberries, and black cherries followed by hints of vanilla, lavender, smoke, and cocoa.  In the mouth, there were Bing and black cherries and blackberries mixed with vanilla, licorice, hints of something floral.  The wine had a medium-to-full body with medium acid and nice tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for?  At an SRP of $24, this wine is very approachable whether it’s on its own or with food. It just needs a little time to breath before drinking. Admittedly, the smoke on the nose had me expecting a deeper, more brooding wine but it’s not.  Instead this is a serious wine that is fun with fruit upfront, some savory notes in the middle, and a finish that lingered and left me wanting more.

I paired the Director’s Cut Cab with breakfast-for-dinner, which included eggs made with an extra sharp cheddar, bacon, and toast.  This wine was surprisingly good with both the very cheesy eggs and the bacon.  That said, there was nothing quite like drinking it while watching the 2007 Best Picture winner, Atonement, which I never saw, and knitting with plush, velvety yarn. The combination of the movie, the wine, and the yarn was a perfect way to spend Saturday after a really busy week.

Question of the Day: If you’re a blogger, do you celebrate your blogiversary? How?

Special thanks to all of you wonderful readers
for sharing some great (and not so great) wines and beer with me
over the last 7 years!

Suggested Retail Price: $24
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Bartinney’s Cab is a Captivating Dark Angel

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

Halfway through 2015, work changed our vacation policies, leaving me with vacation days left that I needed to use by the end of the year or I would lose them. But, with the fall being as busy as it was at work, I didn’t have time to take advantage of the vacation days. Instead, I waited until December. After the legislation I had been working on since 2007 was signed into law on December 10, I began closing things out for the year, and my last day of work in 2015 was December 17. Unfortunately, since Hubby has been at his job for less than 3 years, he still doesn’t have much vacation time. So, instead of escaping DC at the end of the month, I had a 16-day staycation. On December 30, towards the end of my staycation, I scheduled a spa day for myself. After a day of much needed pampering to close out the year, I came home to open up a big red wine with the idea of just sinking into it for the evening.

2011 Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon - This $20 red wine from South Africa is food-friendly, captivating, and the perfect glass of wine to end a work day.  Rating = 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2011 Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2011 Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) is made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The vineyards are located on the slopes of the Helshoogte (“Hell’s Heights”) Pass, overlooking the Banghoek Valley. The wine was a deep purplish ruby color. On the nose, there were plums and blackberries mixed with a hint of tea leaves, mint, chocolate, and cedar. In the mouth, there were dark plums and blackberries with hints of spice, black tea, and cedar. The wine was full-bodied with strong 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 an SRP of $20, this wine delivers everything I look for in an everyday Cabernet…and I was surprised. While I love South African wines, I tend to gravitate towards the wines that are more unique to the country like Pinotage and Chenin Blanc, and this Cabernet is proof as to why I shouldn’t do that. It’s an affordable wine that was the perfect way of ending a day of spoiling myself, but without breaking the bank to do so.

Question of the Day: Do you drink wine from South Africa?  If so, are their certain types of South African wine that you gravitate towards?

Suggested Retail Price: $20
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks