More from our vacation...
Some quick tasting notes:
1. Decant complex reds. Seriously, I didn't think decanters were anything more than lovely glass pitchers for wine. Until our laid back, but keenly knowledgeable pourer at Ridge taught us the difference. He poured us a tasting of wine that had been open for a day and decanted, or aerated; and wine that had just been opened. Turns out, there is a huge difference in taste. So much so that I now think seriously about drinking a red that has just been opened (for me that is serious thought). Complex reds: Zinfandels, Cabernets, Petite Sirahs, Syrahs, and any other reds that are heavier blends.
2. The glass does make a difference. Again, I doubted this to be true, figuring it was just some marketing ploy by Reidel. Our pourer gave us a red in two different glasses and asked us to smell, then taste. The difference in smell was so pronounced between the two glasses, I didn't even have to taste the wine to know that it would be better in the proper glass (in this case, it was a Cabernet in a glass with a larger bowl vs a glass with a smaller, narrower bowl).
And Ridge wines? All fantastic, and you can get most of them anywhere in the country. The tasting room is located in Dry Creek Valley, a gorgeous drive from the crowds of St Helena. Highly recommended.
The aroma of fresh coffee woke me sometime around 8:30 on Sunday morning. It had been placed outside our door on a tray, fully serviced with the proper accoutrements. The temptation to sleep in was strong, but I'd read so much about the fantastic breakfasts prepared by Phillip that we forced ourselves awake, and joined the other guests in the dining room. Cranberry corn muffins and eggs benedict with an orange hollandaise sauce were on the menu that morning.
There were eight of us at the table. A mother and daughter from the South, and two couples. I was eager to ask everyone for wine tasting recommendations, but no one wanted to get a conversation going. A B&B risk I'd forgotten about - awkward silence at the communal table.
Peter, who'd served breakfast that morning, had suggested several places; and so we began in Sonoma at Ledson. It is family -run winery housed in a 16,000 square foot faux-French Normandy "castle" with a gorgeous view, although compared to rustic Charbay, it felt like a wedding hall. Nonetheless, it was lovely and the wines were outstanding. Of note, the 2004 Reserve Redwood Valley Old Vine Zinfandel and an exquisite Reserve Pinot Noir that I couldn't buy, because it was a Future release. I seriously thought about joining their wine club so I could purchase it, and am still thinking about it. Ledson wines are only available for purchase at the winery, a very select group of wine shops and restaurants, or via the online store.
From there we stopped in at Kunde, which was forgettable; then Mayo Family Winery in Glen Ellen. We had to try the "Adventure Tasting", of course, which featured 12 wines. I have since decided that 12 wines in one tasting is too many to process. Thankfully I had my notebook, and jotted down things like " '05 Page/Nord Syrah, lucious plum, delectable, tastes like dessert", and "the Sangiovese... walking through the vineyard on a late summer afternoon"... my notes became more colorful with each glass.
The 2002 Syrah we tasted at Merryvale was glass number 25. I love Merryvale reds, particularly the Cabs, so it's always a stop for me when I am in Napa. It was the end of the day, and our server had lost track of which tasting we had ordered (we'd kind of lost track as well), so we ended up tasting 6 wines in total, including the pricey "Profile" flight and a fantastic Cabernet 2004 Reserve.
The only wine we purchased that day, oddly enough, was the Libertine from Mayo. My notes about LIbertine read: "Libertine, an easy evening wine". Not so much, it turns out. The wine is indeed true to it's name - and probably the reason we ended up outside in the hot tub, in the middle of the vineyards, at midnight.
I realize that this blog is supposed to be about travel and lately I've done nothing but post photos of my move and the new apartment. Or done nothing at all. My excuse is that since leaving Princeton I have started a new day job that is way more demanding than expected and is really starting to interfere with the rest of my life... but that's what you get when you're involved in coordinating elements of one of the biggest events in the world, I guess. I have tried to spend any downtime unpacking and making the new place very glamorous - but clearly, the day job has won out, as the only thing I've been able to do is buy a bed and two barstools, hang some drapes, rather badly I might add - and put a few of my many, many (too many) books on a shelf. I have managed to buy a decent amount of wine (thank god for the internet) and despite the fact that I am not traveling at the moment, have two great recommendations for you, dear readers...
Although the weather has been nothing but a gloomy misery this month, it's still Spring and I am celebrating by drinking lots of Sauvignon Blanc. I recently tried these two gems - a 2006 Preston, a vineyard I am loving more and more (their Viognier is beautiful and sadly, sold out) and a 2004 Laughing Raven from Alexander Valley, which I purchased from a great online store called My Wines Direct. Cheers.