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Are You Waiting to Arise??? Meet Blackbird Vineyard’s Arise!

I’ve always been a Right Bank kind of girl. Now don’t get me wrong, I love wines from the Left Bank as well. How the heck could anyone not????  But for me there is just something about the smooth, easy to drink wines from Pomerol, St. Emilion, etc.

Blackbird Vineyards has a great example of a Right Bank Bordeaux blend from Napa. Made of mostly Merlot (which means blackbird in French patois), founder Michael Polenske named this particular blend Arise, taken from the Beatles’ song Blackbird. In fact, the label is fabulous! It features nine blackbirds (as the notes) sitting on a telephone wire (as the music staff) representing the beginning notes of the Beatles’ song. Check it out! It’s true!

Please excuse the sloppy wine stain dribbled down the label. That was a bad pouring job on my behalf and was not intended on the label. I’ve therefore included an example of the label from their website as well. I wanted to be sure to include my tarnished example too, however, because I absolutely love the feathers on the bottle above the label. I’m not sure what they represent, but I like to think that it’s a symbol of the flock of people it takes to make a great wine.  And this is a great wine!

The 2012 Blackbird Arise is a blend of 58% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The garnet colored wine has licorice, blueberry, blackberry and black cherry on the nose. The well-balanced palate has lush black cherry, blueberry, cocoa powder, tobacco and a long smooth finish.

It’s hard not to sing the Beatle’s song while drinking this lovely wine. “All your life … you were only waiting for this moment to be free”! It’s like a bottle of wine, isn’t it? Opening the bottle on a specific day determines the experience the wine will become. The wine is waiting for the moment to become free from the bottle and to arise. The 2012 Blackbird Arise is drinkable now, but it will truly “Arise” with some time in the bottle. I’m going to stock my cellar with a few more and try one again in a year or two, and then another a year later. I have a feeling that I’ll then be singing “All your life … you were only waiting for this moment to arise”!

If you’d like to learn more about Arise and Blackbird Vineyards other wines, check them out here: https://www.blackbirdvineyards.com

My Husband’s Favorite Kind of Chardonnay, And I Like it Too!

I’m usually afraid of Napa Chardonnay. I know I know … that sounds snobbish. It’s just that many Napa Chardonnays are way overdone! Too much oak masking the fruit makes me very uninterested.

The other night, however, I opened a gem. My husband was off playing poker with his buddies and I had big plans on the sofa with my dogs, a chick flick, some popcorn and a wine to compliment it all.

I cracked open the 2013 Lewis Chardonnay. This wine is not for the faint of heart, but with the right pairing it can be stellar. This is rich stuff, and along with my super duper buttered popcorn and some truffle cheese, I was in pure heaven.

This golden colored wine has ripe pear, ripe golden delicious apple, pineapple, and toasty brioche on the nose. The medium plus bodied palate confirms the fruit, with some lemon curd, vanilla, baking spices and medium acidity. This is a complex wine and the perfect pairing for my buttery popcorn. It would also pair beautifully with lobster dipped in butter and a lot of other things!

This IS my hubby’s favorite style of Chard, so I saved him some. We enjoyed a glass last night, and it was delish. In fact, I liked it even more LAST night. So I saved one more small pour for tonight (the third night). Wow, it keeps getting better!!!! It is very well balanced and I’m definitely going to buy some more of this and lay it down. This Chardonnay has some time!

My husband is off playing in a poker tournament tonight! This smidgen I saved and am enjoying on the deck while the sun sets is tasting so darned good that it makes me want to open another Chardonnay, but I fear that it won’t compare. Hmmmm. What’s a girl to do???!!!!

To learn more about this Chardonnay, and the other wonderful wines made by Lewis Cellars, check them out here:  http://www.lewiscellars.com

My New Favorite Party Wine!

I recently strolled into my favorite local wine store asking for some “every day” wines! I needed some decent bottles that come in at (or under) the $20 price range. I grabbed two bottles each of the six suggested to me.

My husband and I looked at the group and decided to crack open a California Cab for tonight. We chose the 2012 Matthew Joseph Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa. Comprised of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot and 2% Malbec, this wine is dark garnet in color, the nose has delightful currant, ripe cherry, baking spices, and coffee, perhaps even mocha. The well-balanced palate confirms the fruit and spices, along with some wonderful flavors of chocolate shavings. The substantial finish brings lovely cassis flavors.

This “MJ” really fit the bill for a tasty wine that I won’t feel guilty about opening on a random Tuesday night. I’m going to be sure to stock up on some more for those nights when I’m home alone and don’t want my hubby feeling jealous, although he still may!!! It’s also going to be a great Cab to pour for an upcoming party we’re having.

This is definitely a fruit driven wine, with soft tannins and sweet vanilla. Now don’t go expecting a Bordeaux style wine. For a nice sipper and a great wine for entertaining, however, this 2012 Matthew Joseph Napa Cab can’t be beat. And it comes in at under twenty bucks! What’s not to like?

Music and Wine … Sounds So Fine!

Ah … music and wine. They go together almost as well as food and wine. There’s nothing more relaxing after a tough day than to pour a nice glass of wine, sit back and put on some of your favorite music.

There are many parallels between music and wine. A song, like a glass of wine, will have a different effect on you depending on when you’re experiencing it. A bottle of wine will, of course, taste differently from one day of opening it to the next, but it’s more than just that. With whom are you enjoying this specific bottle or song? Are you picking the music and/or wine due to a special occasion? Are you stressed out and needing to relax, or are you happy and just want to have some fun???

Last week my husband and I were invited by some friends to join them in their Loge seats at the Amway Arena in Orlando for the performance of Fleetwood Mac’s “On With The Show” tour.

To repay them we wanted to treat them to some nice wines, so we had them stop over before leaving for the concert where we had a decanting 2007 Quintessa waiting. After having a quick glass of sparkling wine (it’s very difficult for me to start a fun evening without some bubbly!) we poured the fabulous Napa Left Bank Bordeaux blend from Rutherford.  Silky and elegant, the ’07 Quintessa has lots of mocha and black cherry on the nose, with cola, baking spices and dark fruit on the palate.  It’s drinking beautifully right now after being decanted, and I expect that it will last another 10 or more years.

After enjoying the wine, we headed to the arena. We are used to seeing concerts from the floor, while juggling our plastic glass of often less than adequate wine while jumping up and down and swooning to the music. Heck, I saw Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk Tour back on May 11th of 1980 (yes I know, I’m aging myself) undoubtedly drinking a Miller Light. Hmm. Come to think of it, I wasn’t of age yet, so I probably was drinking a Diet Coke! The beauty of the Loge seats is that we had a server who brought us a menu and a wine list. Yes … an actual wine list!

We picked the 2012 Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.  Okay, we were definitely paying restaurant prices, but what fun it was to have a nice glass of wine (in an actual wine glass), along with some food, AND to have a table in front of us on which to set it! Although not in the same league as the Quintessa, The Franciscan was really nice. Made of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 3% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc, they used all of the Bordeaux varietals in this one. Big dark fruit, violets and vanilla greet you on the nose.  It has a big mouth feel with baking spices, black cherry, cassis and plum! This is definitely a nice wine for the price.

Back in 2007, when the Quintessa was being harvested, “The Essential Fleetwood Mac” (a comprehensive compilation for Fleetwood Mac’s blues recordings) was released. That year also brought Stevie Nicks giving a great interview describing her survival of the craziness of the preceding couple of decades filled with way too much fun. In another interview she stated that she didn’t want to carry on with the band if Christine wasn’t onboard.

They did, however. In 2012, when the Franciscan grapes began their fermentation, it was announced that Fleetwood Mac (sans Christine McVie) would begin a world tour in April of the next year.

I, for one, am thankful that a few years have passed and that they are once again back together. Like a great wine, Fleetwood Mac has gotten better with time! Their voices and musical skills remind me of a beautiful bottle of Bordeaux with some age on it. The varietals are not only blended together to create a well-balanced product, but time has set in and done its magic so that the wine has reached maximum enjoyment. Stevie Nicks’ voice is still amazing, Lindsey Buckingham can still play the crap out of the guitar, Mick Fleetwood is one of the best drummers ever (as well as a hoot and a half on stage!) and John McVie is the same backbone of the band after beating cancer.  Their beautiful “Songbird” Christine McVie is finally back with them, adding magic to that final blend.

We couldn’t stop there, of course. Upon returning to our house we had one more wine waiting, a 2007 Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon. Time has also been kind to this wine. After decanting, the wine doesn’t scream all of the vanilla oak that is present in its youth. It still has some vanilla, but is now lush with lots of well-integrated black cherry, currant, plum, licorice and tobacco.  This is another example of time doing wonderful things, and this ’07 still has lots of time left!

What a memorable night it was. We appreciated the time spent with great friends. We loved the chance to see (and hear!) an iconic band playing music from our youth. Adding the exclamation point onto the whole evening was the chance to include some fabulous wines to enjoy with it all! The wine took the night to another level, and we can’t wait to share another bottle or two with some more music and some more friends.

Looking for a Great Merlot???

I love finding wines that taste like they’re SUPPOSED to taste!  So many Merlots from California just don’t taste like Merlot.  The 2011 Neyers Conn Valley Merlot, however, does!

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a tasting at Tim’s Wine Market in Orlando where Barbara and Bruce Neyers, the owners of Neyers Vineyards in Napa, presented some of their wines.

They do a great Chardonnay, some great Cabs and one of the best Zinfandels I’ve had in a very long time.  My favorite of the night, however, was probably the Merlot.

Made with Merlot grapes from their own certified organic vineyards surrounding their home, the Neyers and their talented winemaker Tadeo Borchardt have produced a wonderful Merlot.

The ruby colored wine has aromas of cherry, black raspberry and some chocolate shavings.  The palate is beautifully balanced with layers of the raspberry, cherry, along with some plum and licorice.  Blended with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine has a lovely velvety finish and is more reminiscent of a Pomerol than a California Merlot. 

At 13.8% alcohol, this isn’t one of those huge Napa Merlots that have forgotten what they are meant to be.  It’s a lovely wine that I could drink every night of the week.  Coming in at about $30, this wine is definitely worth its price.

To learn more about Neyers Vineyards, or to purchase some of their wines, go to there website here:  http://www.neyersvineyards.com

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