Nine Points Chardonnay 2015

For my return to the trenches, I decided to start with a celebratory Chardonnay.  Honestly, any glass of wine would have been a joyous experience.  Of course, after over half a year as a teetotaler, I knew I wasn’t ready for a big chewy red.

Oenophilogical_NinePointsChardonnay2015Winemaker: Nine Points
Varietal: Chardonnay
Vintage: 2015
Appellation: Napa Valley
Price: $15.99

Notes: This Napa Chardonnay was a pretty light yellow in the glass with scents of citrus, grass and warm spices.  It was medium bodied with a decent amount of viscosity to it.  Acidity was quite high and alcohol was at 14.2%.  As for flavors, I found apple, citrus, grass, hot pepper, hints of warm spices and lanolin.  Not a bad pick at all for my first glass back.

A Rosé By Any Other Vintner ….

I believe I’ve mentioned this before.  I love a good mystery.  And that is exactly what I found in this bottle of Trader Joe’s rosé.  Actually, the mystery isn’t so much what’s in the bottle – although I don’t know that precisely either.  What intrigues me most is the question of who made this bottle of dry blush wine for the folks at Trader Joe’s to sell.  And the folks at TJ ain’t talkin’!

OK.  What do we know?  First, the label says it was vinted and bottled by JBA Cellars of Rutherford, CA.  Next, according to a report in the TJ rag Fearless Flyer, this wine “comes to us from a very famous Napa Valley winery – they make super wines that tend to be quite expensive.”  Following that clue, I was reminded that there are a number of well-known wineries headquartered in Rutherford – BV, Rutherford Hill, Frog’s Leap, Caymus, Inglenook, and Cakebread, among others.  That narrows the field, but not nearly enough.   Then I noted that Rutherford Hill Winery is one of a few that makes a rosé.  In addition, the owners are the Terlato family – father Anthony with sons Bill and John.  Hmmm.  Anthony, Bill and John.  John, Bill and Anthony.  JBA!  JBA Cellars?  We might have a winner here.  I don’t know, of course.  It’s only a guess at best.

Winemaker:  JBA Cellars for Trader Joe’s
Wine:  Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Rosé
Varietal:  Not Available
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Napa Valley, CA
Price:  $6.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  The color of this Napa Valley blush teeters right on the edge of dark pink and light red.  On the nose I found mostly strawberry and a touch of loam with sweet floral hints.  Acidity was bright and the body was light.  At 13.7% alcohol, I’d call this a dry rosé.  Tannins were gently present.  On the palate I tasted a core of red berries (primarily strawberry) with tea leaf, a dash of pepper, some bitter herbs, and a zingy medicinal note on the finish.

By the way, I saw an online review of a prior vintage of the Rutherford Hill rosé.  Evidently, their 2009 was blended from Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Zinfandel grapes.  Is that true of this bottle as well?  I have no idea whatsoever.  If you know, do tell!

Nights of Wine and Chocolate

We’ve all heard about “the days of wine and roses.”  Well how about “the nights of wine and chocolate?”

It’s a blessing to have friends and family who understand and encourage you in both your vocation and avocation – especially when your job or your hobby (as in my case) entails wine appreciation and exploration.  Right?  Some time ago I related the story of Xmas Eve Dinner at Mary Ann’s house and the Parducci Petite Sirah we enjoyed.  Well, she is one of those supportive family members!  An enabler in the best sense of the word.

A few weeks back she and her daughter, Ashley, traveled to our area for a volleyball tournament.  Ashley was playing, not Mary Ann.  Although I would pay big bucks to see Mary Ann out on that court.  No doubt she would be a fierce competitor.  lol   We went to see Ashley play, of course, and Mary Ann very generously showered us with gifts for being loyal fans.  Those gifts included a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley and a box of chocolate wafers that the wine store clerk recommended as an accompaniment.  Formidable!  What a sweetheart, this Mary Ann.  I did my best to exercise self control and didn’t open them right away.  But I could only resist temptation for so long.

Winemaker: Eddy Family Wines
Wine: Elodian
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage:  2006
Appellation: Napa Valley, California
Price: $35.00

Notes:  Let me say right at the outset that I tasted the wine first without any chocolate.  It was a pretty deep ruby in the glass.  It’s bouquet was a pungent mix of earth, forest floor (sous bois), spice, a touch of wood and ripe blueberry.  It was medium-bodied with fairly high acidity and medium tannins that were somewhat aggressive in their onset.  Alcohol was at 14.5%.  Flavors included considerable woodiness – much of that attributable to the grip of the tannins – as well as plenty of pepper, some leather, a bit of dark cherry with an underlying blanket of ripe blueberry.  The finish was what I consider of medium length with menthol and tart cranberry as it left the palate.  I think this Napa Cab was downright good.  It was complex and interesting.  It could also cellar another few years with the amount of structure it has.  Could be fascinating to see how it settles.

What about the chocolate?  First, let me name it properly.

Chocolatier:  Eclat Chocolate by Christopher Curtin
Name:  Aleppo Pink Peppercorn Mendiant
Price:  $14.50

I really enjoyed these little wafers!  I do like spicy, peppery things.  And it’s true that the peppercorns and the chili pepper in the chocolates were complementary to the flavors of the wine, creating almost a MAD effect on the taste buds.  You remember that from the old Cold War days, don’t you?  MAD was mutually assured destruction.  [a horrible thought]  With all the capsaicin hitting the taste buds from both sides, the effect was to lessen the perceived heat from each source and smooth out the experience of both wine and chocolate.  Most interesting was the aromatic effect of biting into one of the pink peppercorns.  It brought almost a floral scent to the nostrils.  Good stuff.

Yep, I’d say this was a very nice night of wine and chocolate, indeed.  Thanks, Mary Ann!