Unleashed Chardonnay

  • Producer: Mutt Lynch Winery
  • Location: Sonoma, California
  • Year: 2016
  • Price estimate: $15
  • Tasting notes: Medium yellow in color with a bit of straw tending to clear at the edges. Thicker body and slow legs for a white wine. On the nose, lemon pie, tiny bit of lemon zest, vanilla custard (homemade, not the box stuff – yes, there is a smell difference) and a slight note of slate. Round mouthfeel – borders on buttery, but keeps a step back from that line. Stone fruit is the predominant flavor up front – apricot, nectarine – with a bit of refreshing citrus. Mid-palate has a subtle granite thread that leads to an herbal finish. Not a harsh herb finish, but the kinds of herbs you cook with to add something to the final dish even if you can’t decipher the specific herbs.
  • Conclusions: In general, I shy away from Chardonnay, especially ones that have a rounder mouthfeel. This one has a hint of the California style – big and buttery – but it is restrained and really enjoyable to drink and with food (corn soup and a pasta salad in this case) it shines.
  • Notes: I’m going to have to peruse the spreadsheet and find other wines to drink since the last few have been from the same winery, but we did get our case from them very quickly after we got home, so we’ve been balancing the “save and savor” with the “drink now” feelings. The texture of this wine is the most interesting to me – it is un-oaked but it feels (not tastes) oak aged. To get the texture just right might be super simple, but I’m guessing it is actually really difficult to do and this one nails it. Super smooth with a hint of buttery texture, definite malolactic fermentation. It feels like it could go over the edge with less care and attention, but it doesn’t.

Misunderstood Pinot Noir

  • Producer: Mutt Lynch Winery
  • Location: Sonoma County, California
  • Year: 2017
  • Price estimate: $20
  • Tasting notes: Beautiful nose of cherry, strawberry and a little moss. Garnett in color with a little bit of orange-brown at the edges. Flavors of ripe cherry, stone, a touch of fresh tobacco. Long finish with lots of cherry notes.
  • Conclusions: Delicious. This was a great pinot to open one evening and Bob and I savored each sip. It has that quality where you can sip and enjoy and not think about it, or pay attention to what you are drinking, savor it, and discover a few hidden layers. We did a little of both with this bottle and I’m just sad that I only have one more bottle left the in “cellar.”
  • Notes: Pinot Noirs are one of my favorite varietals, right up there with Zinfandel and Pinotage. There are a lot of pinots out there that are “meh” or “fine” and plenty that are bad. To find a really great pinot for $20 – I really wish I had gotten more, but in all honesty, I tend to under buy when we go to a winery because I’m always afraid it’s the atmosphere or experience that is making the wine taste so good. This isn’t one of those cases and I may have to get more of this once our weather breaks and I can get wine shipped to Florida again – somewhere around November.

Pinot Blanc Reserve

  • Producer: Gustave Lorentz
  • Location: Alsace, France
  • Year: 2015
  • Price estimate: $15 retail, ($11 on sale from Weekly Tasting)
  • Tasting notes: Light to medium yellow in color. Nose is very light – difficult to find many aromas, but as the wine warms a little some floral notes and lemon curd begin to come through with a tiny bit of fresh apple. The wine is clean and round on the palate with notes of melon, apple, nectarine and white grape. Acidity is nice – not strong, but present. Finish is clean with a decent length. The apple and a little pear come through on the finish.
  • Conclusions: I wasn’t sure what to expect with this wine as I’m not terribly familiar with Pinot Blanc, but it’s good. Refreshing in the “good summer sipper” category of wines, this isn’t something I’m going to hold for a super special occasion, but I’m happy drinking it. This paired well with an Asian dish, and with quinoa tacos and was also pretty good alone. 12.5% ABV
  • imageNotes: When Bob and I went to Sonoma we wanted to focus on Zinfandels, but also look for good whites. We succeeded in finding zin’s that we really loved (you should be seeing some of those posts in the coming months) but we didn’t focus on whites, so when I saw Weekly Tasting was doing an inventory clearance sale, I decided to get a case of whites – things I could drink all summer and not feel the need to ration. I didn’t intend to get the Pinot Blanc, but they sent it instead of a Riesling, which I was totally okay with (seriously, for $11 I’m honestly not going to quibble). I did want to let them know so it wouldn’t impact their inventory or potentially another customer, but they offered to send the Riesling anyway and asked me to keep the Pinot Blanc. This was absolutely unnecessary, but I mention it because this isn’t the first time they have gone out of their way to make something right (the first time it was totally a FedEx issue, but they fixed it for me after I could not get anywhere with FedEx). Good wine, decent prices and fantastic customer service.

The Y Series Chardonnay

  • Producer: Yalumba Family Winemakers
  • Location: South Australia
  • Year: 2018
  • Price estimate: $12
  • Tasting notes: Pale to medium yellow in color. Tropical fruits – pineapple and papaya on the nose. Relatively round mouthfeel but enough acidity to prevent the oily consistency chardonnay can sometimes have. Subtle flavors of peach, apricot, pineapple and lemon are present, but the flavors do not linger.
  • Conclusions: Not bad at all. Chardonnay is not my go-to white wine, but I was intrigued by the bottle at Whole Foods (don’t judge, they had an actual good sale on a few things I use frequently and picking up wine there saved me a trip elsewhere) and decided to try it. It is actually a pretty good wine and one I’m not minding indulging in on a Tuesday evening. 13% ABV
  • Notes: I picked this up as we waited for some of our wine from Sonoma to arrive. Most of what we bought won’t be here until the fall because the temperature are just too high to safely ship, but we did one mixed case with temperature control, so we should have that by the time this posts. I also decided to go for a few whites from Whole Foods because, while I had every intention of trying to focus more on white wine out in California, we ended up loving more reds and picking up many more reds than whites. Next time we go out I’m going to try to seek out producers who specialize in whites if I can.

Sonoma Day 5 – Gone to the Dogs

Part of me wanted to title this “The Dog Days of Sonoma” but I decided to keep the same title format for the trip series. Like almost every time we travel (when it’s not the dead of winter) the Florida heat follows us. This trip was no different as the temperatures soared near 100. Even as a “dry heat” this was too much for us to spend too much time outside, so we decided to fill our day with indoor activities.

Up first was one of the only non-wine things I *really* wanted to do on this trip, the Charles Shultz Museum – aka Snoopy! I swear I partly learned to read because of the Peanuts cartoons, and I loved the Peanuts specials that would air every holiday. We got to immerse ourselves in all thing Peanuts for a few hours, and enjoyed the air conditioning while we were at it.

Not dog related, but put on the agenda for the day for the cellar tour, we visited Korbel for lunch then took the tour after. I’m not sure if I enjoyed the tour so much because it was historically interesting or if it was the coolness of the old caves. Either way, it was a nice way to spend a hot afternoon.

Bob gets all the credit for our last stop of the day. He found Mutt Lynch Winery when we were looking for ideas for the trip. We wanted good zinfandel and a fun experience so we added the tasting room in Windsor to our list. I am so glad we did. Brenda Lynch, the owner/winemaker made us feel right at home as she sat and talked with us while she poured from the tasting selection (and off the list too …. She was just incredible). Her zinfandel and primitivo were amazing, and her rose was truly out of this world. We spent far longer there than intended, but had a great time talking wine and dogs. We are super excited about the case of wine that is coming from here as soon as the weather breaks (say, around October). This is a definite go back to spot for us when we make it out to Sonoma again.

Despite the triple digit temperatures (the car registered 103) it was a great day.

Sonoma Day 4 – My Perfect Day

It is rare that a day work out so well, lives up to the anticipation, and is truly as amazing as it is in one’s mind. But this day, this day was pretty much my day on this trip and it was about as perfect as I could have hoped.

I love gardens: botanical gardens, rose gardens, meditation gardens, etc. You name a garden and I’m going to try to visit when I get there. This day we, on one of the hottest days they have here (our car read 99, the bank sign read 109, either way it was hot) went to Quarryhill – a botanical garden that specializes in rare Asian species of plants. Every plant here is propagated by seed and the gardens are allowed to grow fairly wild. No topiary here. There was lots of shade and a few good breezes to keep the walk mostly comfortable despite the heat.

After the gardens, we headed to Sonoma Square. I was pretty excited (read school girl giddy) to be going to the tasting room for Bedrock Wine Company. This is my go-to winery for a few reasons – Old Vine Zinfandel, consistently good wine, and a mission to save historic vineyards and vines. The history teacher in me wants to preserve these treasures, but if the wine wasn’t good, I wouldn’t drink it no matter the mission. However, the wine is great. It’s amazing and it always makes me happy to pour a glass. Take this level of excitement about the wine, and add going to the historic General Hooker House to taste these wines. Yes, I was super excited and didn’t try to hide it. Kristen, our host, was amazing and seemed to love the wines, the wine maker, and the mission as much as anyone. The whole experience was incredible and I feel so lucky to have been able to do it.

We ended the day with dinner at a restaurant on the Pacific at sunset. The food was fine, but the view was amazing and it was a great way to end such an incredible day. .

Sonoma Day 2 – Wine Tour

I have very mixed feelingss about group tours. I dislike crowds and like to wander, which you can’t generally do on a group tour. I like to find places that aren’t super crowded with tourists (I am perfectly good with most tourist areas and am not saying I need places no tourists go – I am a tourist so that would be ridiculous- but I like places that are not on the first page of the guide books) but with over 400 wineries in Sonoma, we thought starting out with a wine tour might be s good way to go.

We didn’t know what kind of wineries to expect – big names, large fancy facilities, small family wineries or a mix – but we went with an open attitude and lots of water to drink in between.

Talk about impressed and right up our ally! The tour had nine of us total on it (I can deal with nine) and we went to super small, family owned and run wineries. All four had something unique about them, but two stood out to us. MoniClaire and Viszlay are really tiny places that are producing amazing wine. The families who operate the wineries led us through their wines and showed us their vines. I loved it when someone would ask where a wine was grown and the answer was pointing to an area or a few rows with a “right there” as the answer. You really don’t get much more personal than that.

Day two is another how late can I stay up day. I’ got better but was definitely waking up on east coast time.