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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:

I had a really fun wine the other night that probably isn’t well known to a lot of wine lovers.  The winery that produces it, however, probably is!

Carter Cellars’ first vintage was in 1998, but Mark Carter’s wine journey began much earlier than that.  Carter House, a small bed and breakfast when it was built in the mid 1980’s in Eureka, CA, became so popular that he and his wife needed to expand the lodging and open a restaurant.    Their now well-loved Restaurant 301 was created, and Mr. Carter began compiling a wine list that today is absolutely amazing and is consistently a Wine Spectator Grand Award winner.    Along the way he met many successful winemakers and became especially friendly with legendary winemaker Nils Venge.   Now known as the “King of Cab”, Venge was Groth’s winemaker whose 1985 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve was awarded the first perfect score of 100 points by Robert Parker for a California wine!

Together the two men formed a partnership, sourcing fruit from some of the best vineyards in Napa and beginning Carter Cellars.  It didn’t take long for Carter Cellars to get rave reviews of their own, including a 100 point score from Parker for their 2002 Beckstoffer To Kalon Cab! 

Knowing that not all wine lovers can afford some of their wines, Carter wanted to offer a wine that is sourced from outstanding fruit and great vineyards, but can also be affordable to more wine lovers.  Named after Carter’s “good luck table” at Restaurant 301, Table 5 was born!  Years earlier it was at Carter House’s table 5 that he met Fred Schrader (of Schrader Cellars), who agreed to source the aspiring winery owner grapes from Schrader’s premier vineyard in Napa, which enabled Carter Cellars to make their first wine.

The 2010 Table 5 Napa Red is a Right Bank Bordeaux blend of Merlot (Carter’s favorite varietal) and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Smooth and easy drinking, this wine has lush dark fruits including blackberry and black current.  It’s not the most complex wine in their portfolio, but it is well balanced with some vanilla, baking spices and very smooth tannins.  It is a food friendly wine and went very well with the pizza I had that night.

I also love the label.  Mark Carter’s son Joseph designed the playfully appealing front and back labels, which are very eye-catching and would be difficult to not grab off of the shelf at your local wine retailer!

In the $40 range, I would buy this wine again and I definitely want to check out some more of Carter Cellar’s offerings.



Macauley Vineyard Winery

Originally established by Ann Macauley Watson in the early 1980s, Macauley Vineyard Winery went through a short hiatus after her death in 1994.  Always knowing deep down that the winery business was for him, her son, Mac Watson, spent some time at Rudd Oakville Estate and decided to re-establish the Macauley label in 2000.  Along with his wife, Amy Baxter Watson, and his childhood friend Kirk Venge, son of legendary Napa Valley winemaker Nils Venge and now full owner of his family’s Venge Vineyards, Watson is producing some fabulous wines.

A couple of nights ago my husband and I cracked open a 2007 Macauley Cabernet Sauvignon.  We decanted it for about an hour before pouring our first glass.  Oh wow, what a lovely Napa Cab.

The ’07 is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and is sourced from three renowned Napa Valley vineyards, Star (in the Rutherford AVA), Stagecoach (from the Atlas Peak AVA), and Beckstoffer To Kalon.

On the nose are dark fruits and black licorice.  On the palate are dark cherry, cassis, and some chocolate.  This wine has very nice structure and is beautifully balanced, a sure sign of a winner.  Oh … have I mentioned the finish????  Oh my.  The finish is full of sweet, velvety tannins and goes on and on and on.

If you run across any Macauley wines on a restaurant wine list or in a wine store, don’t be afraid to buy!  I know that I’ll definitely be seeking out more Macauley wines.

Mac Watson, along with “a little help from his friends”, is honoring his mother’s memory in a very lovely way.

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