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2009 Banshee Mordecai

We’re having a great bottle of wine tonight that doesn’t break the bank!  The 2009 Banshee Mordecai is a blend of Syrah, single-vineyard Turley Zinfandel, Napa Valley Mourvedre, Paso Robles Grenache, along with a splash of some other varietals.

This is a big California Red, with some nice earthiness to balance it out.  It has big blackberry fruit with some cherry cola on the nose.  As this wine opens up, it has some barnyard qualities to boot!

The palate screams the cherry cola, complimented by a little spice, vanilla, mocha and blackberry.  It also has some good earthiness to help make you forget that it’s California, and balances out the wine beautifully.  If you enjoy big New World wines with a touch of Old World earthiness, you’ll agree with me.  The ’09 Mordecai is a complex, delightfully fun wine for only $25.

 

Romorantin???

My husband and I opened a very interesting wine last night, a 2007 Domaine des Huards Cour-Cheverny.  We purchased this bottle at a Loire Valley wine tasting at Tim’s Wine Market in Orlando a couple of years ago.

I thought that this would be a fun wine to feature on my blog because it is made of the very rare Romorantin grape.  This white grape has grown in the Loire Valley since the 16th century.  It makes wine that is crisp and minerally, with good acidity.  DNA profiling has determined it to be the offspring of the varietals Pinot Meunier and Gouais Blanc.

The Cour-Cheverny appellation is situated within the larger Cheverny appellation, which is the most important zone in the middle Loire.  It was promoted to full Appellation Controlee status in 1993.  The wines made from Romorantin make up it’s own appellation (Cour-Cheverny) which is only about 48 hectare.

The 2007 Domaine des Huards Cour-Cheverny is deep golden in color.  On the nose we smelled pear, mango, citrus (including lemon and a hint of orange) and some almond.  The palate provided great acidity and minerality, along with the pear, lemon, green apple and a touch of mushroom.

The odds of you having a bottle of this in your cellar are slim, but if you do, drink it up!  It’s not going to last much longer.

 

 

The Science of Wine Event

My husband and I attended a fun event this past weekend.  The Orlando Science Center and their sponsors provided over one hundred different wines, one of the largest selections for any Orlando event, at The Science of Wine. The Orlando Science Center is an ideal setting for this unique event, where we sampled wines amongst skeletons of dinosaurs and prehistoric sea creatures.

A few of the many wineries represented were Justin, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Provenance, Penfold’s and De Lille.   My favorites of the night included the 2009 Stag’s Leap Winery Merlot, the 2007 Pio Cesare Barolo and the 2007 Chateau De Pez from St. Estephe.

Some wines were obviously more popular than others, as many ran out less than half way through the event.  I was glad that we arrived right on time.  As far as the people pouring the tastes go, some of them were very knowledgeable and obviously in the wine business, while others knew very little if anything about the wines that they were representing.  I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the brother or cousin of someone from the distributor, and they just needed bodies to pour.  All proceeds went to charity, though, so it was still a worthwhile event to attend.

Tasty food pairings were also available.  I especially enjoyed the SoNapa Grill Chalk Hill Flatbread (with baked Brie cheese, tomatoes, spinach and a balsamic glaze) and a truffle bruschetta from Timpano Italian Chophouse.  My husband loved the salmon with cous cous from Stonewood Grill & Tavern.

In addition to the food and wine, classes and seminars were offered to expand one’s wine knowledge.  There were demonstrations on how wine is made, how wine is affected by weather and the impact of oak and barrel aging on wine.

The $75 admission proceeds went to help the Orlando Science Center accomplish some of their important goals including securing new exhibits and providing scholarships to worthy candidates.

They also held a silent auction with some great items, including fun dinners at local restaurants, travel and golfing excursions and lots of fun wines.  My husband and I were happy to place the winning bid on a magnum of 2009 Caymus Special Selection.

This was only the second year this event was held.  Let’s all hope next year we are fortunate enough to attend the THIRD annual Science of Wine.   Cheers to the Orlando Science Center!

Caldwell Winery and Vineyard in Napa

I’ve visited a lot of wine tasting rooms in my days, but the most unique experience may very well have been at Caldwell Winery in Napa, owned by Joy and John Caldwell. The experience was unique not only because of the awesome cave in which Caldwell Winery’s production and tasting room is located, but also because of John Caldwell himself, a playful, fascinating and very intelligent character.

Caldwell Winery and Vineyard is located in the Coombsville AVA on the southeastern end of the Napa Valley’s grape growing region.  The Coombsville region finally became an approved American Viticultural Area in December of 2011, due much to the hard work and persistence of John Caldwell. 

We arrived for our scheduled tasting appointment and were greeted by Mr. Caldwell himself, along with Caldwell’s winemaker Marbue Marke.  We were led into their 20,000 square foot cave and walked along barrels of fermenting wine into the tasting area.  Awaiting us were local meats & cheeses, breadsticks, crackers and a wide variety of Caldwell wines.

The wines we tasted included:

2010 Syrah Rose – This wine had a dark pink hue, with some nice cherry and spice on the nose.  There was some strawberry and red currant on the palate.

2009 Chardonnay – This is a lovely Burgundian style Chardonnay with granny smith apple and great acidity!

2010 Sauvignon Blanc – The Sauv Blanc had a lot of tropical fruits on the nose and palate.

2009 Syrah Clone 470 – This is a big, inky Syrah with blackberry and black pepper.  This wine needs some time, so I bought a couple and tucked them safely away in my cellar to enjoy in a few years.

2008 Rocket Science – This is a blend of 47% Syrah, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 4% Tannat and 3% Petit Verdot.  It has lots of dark fruit on the nose with some cherry and dark chocolate on the palate.  This is a great wine and comes in a fun shaped bottle.

2008 Caldwell Gold – This is a beauty, with lots of blackberry, vanilla and chocolate on the nose and dark currant, cherry and chocolate on the palate.  This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.

2008 Syrah Port – We finished the tasting with the Syrah Port, which my husband especially loved.  It has a nose of vanilla and chocolate, with cherry and plum on the palate and a finish filled with vanilla.

Throughout the tasting John Caldwell talked with us about our lives, the wines and his fascinating history.

He was originally in the shoe business, and bought this land as a real estate investment, dividing the land into 10-acre lots and building a road.  When he was ready to start selling the lots, the Napa Planning Commission nixed these sorts of deals claiming that the growth was harmful to the area.  He felt stuck, and wasn’t sure where to go from there, but decided to plant grapes.

A trip to France where he visited the famous Chateau Haut Brion piqued his interest in clones.  He heard of a grower in Canada who imported French clones for his vineyard on the Niagara Peninsula and who also had a nursery for clone propagation.  Caldwell decided to buy!  This was extremely risky, as it is illegal to bring plants from other countries into the United States.  He successfully got 4300 grape vines over the border, but there were 1500 more waiting, and he wanted them all.  Caldwell went east for a New York shoe show and developed his scheme.  He needed a car with a large trunk and found on a Rent-a-Wreck in Buffalo.  After the show, he flew there and drove to pick up the grapes.  The pickup went smoothly, but crossing back into the states did not.  The border police checked his trunk and found the grapevines.  After being interrogated at length, swallowing the receipts for the vines to hide the evidence and catching a lucky break by knowing the right person, he was released from custody.

The smuggled vines he planted produced wines receiving high praise, and he began selling his fruit to many well-established wineries.

Today his list of clients includes Pahlmeyer, Viader and Joseph Phelps, to name just a few.  Thankfully he also uses some of his grapes to make Caldwell wines as well.

I barely touch on his amazing story here, so be sure to learn more about the interesting life and clone smuggling adventures of John Caldwell, and the amazing conclusion of this story, at:  http://www.caldwellvineyard.com/downloads/Caldwell-TheWorldofFineWine.pdf

My guess is that someday his story will be made into a movie!

Be sure to visit Caldwell Winery the next time you’re in Napa.  Remember, you’ll need an appointment!  www.caldwellvineyard.com

My May Wine of the Month

Bouchaine Vineyards & Winery
Pinot Meunier
2009

Bouchaine Vineyards & Winery is the oldest continually operated winery in the Carneros wine region.  The Carneros AVA is actually located in both Napa and Sonoma counties, and has a nice cool climate that suits Burgundian varietals very well.

Pinot Meunier is a varietal that is unknown to many people.  It is one of the three varieties used in Champagne, with the others being Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  The Pinot Meunier provides fruitiness and freshness to this world-famous sparkling wine, while the Chardonnay brings its grace and the Pinot Noir its power.  Pinot Meunier is very rarely used as a single varietal still wine, so I decided that this would be a fun bottle to include as a Wine of the Month.

The Wine – The nose of the 2009 Bouchaine Pinot Meunier is very aromatic, with violets, wintergreen, black currant, black raspberry and pomegranate.  The palate has some very nice acidity, with some good earthiness and full, lush black currant.   This is a very nice wine.  It’s a fun bottle to take for a blind tasting or to share with other wine lovers, as it’s not one people (even wine pros) taste every day!

Visiting the Winery – The winery itself is lovely, with a big barn-like structure housing the tasting room.  Tasting wine in this warm, cozy room with a beautiful fireplace only enhances their lovely Burgundian style wines.  The gals working in the tasting room were fabulous!  They were very fun and friendly, and also knew the wines well!  French doors off of the tasting room lead to a beautiful deck and picnic area, open to Wine Club members.  My husband and I so enjoyed opening a bottle of their Estate Chardonnay to enjoy with some cheeses and breads we had brought along.   Sitting on this deck and enjoying the stunning view of their Carneros vineyards was the perfect way to end a day of tasting.

The Journey – Bouchaine Vineyards is located in the Carneros wine region in the Napa Valley, not far from California State Route 121.  My first visit was years ago, before the days of GPS devices.  This past visit was a breeze to find thanks to good signage and our Tom Tom.  The drive is a lovely and delightful ride through pretty back roads full of beautiful vineyards.

http://www.bouchaine.com/

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