Showing posts with label sonoma. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sonoma. Show all posts

Monday, September 13, 2021

Winery Adventure: Repris Wines

We were very blessed to be able to travel to California recently for a wine trip with great friends.  We had planned the trip in 2020, but we had to postpone for a year due to most of the world shutting down from the Covid pandemic.  We decided that we would take this trip in 2021, come hell or high water.

Our "Winos" group as we jokingly and affectionately call ourselves, spent a few evenings and many text messages back and forth to discuss the "must visit" wineries as well as those that had been on various wish lists throughout the years.  After much discussion and many emails back and forth to the wineries on our radar, we finally decided on nine wineries that would complete our adventure.  And, so we begun with Day #1...... Repris Wines.

We love Southwest Airlines
We love Southwest Airlines!  However, a non-stop flight from IND to OAK would be ideal.

There were three couples who took part in our journey and each one flew into a different airport.  Kris & Scott flew into Sacramento.  Richard and Sarah flew into San Francisco and we flew into Oakland.  Previously we had flown into San Francisco but next time would try Sacramento as we heard that the drive is very easy and the traffic isn't as heavy.

Tour Guide Skippy
Share a car - save some money!  And take a lunch break when YOU want!

Our tour guide/driver was Napa Scott.  Sorry, he's not for rent.  Well, I guess everyone has their price.  Contact us and I'll put you in touch with him!  One great benefit to having your own transportation is you can make changes on the fly, move at your own pace and grab a bite whenever you want to.

Repris Wines ATV Tour
Become a member at Repris Wines and ask for the ATV tour!

Both of the other couples in our group are members at Repris so they specifically asked for something special for our group.  We took an ATV tour of the property, a tour of the cave and......   well, I'm not going to spoil it yet.  We started to get excited when we saw the ATVs waiting for us. What a great way to start a few days in wine country!  Now if I could just get them to trade these units for John Deere Gators.....

Repris Wines Vineyards

Everywhere we went on the property was meticulously maintained.  The grapes were about 2-3 weeks away from harvest and the deep purple/blue-ish colors were so inviting.

Old Zinfandel vines at Repris Wines
These vineyards are 45 years old and producing delicious Zinfandel.

Drinking wines is always the highlight of visiting any winery, but learning about the property and the history is a close second.  These Zinfandel vines were planted by horse and plow and have been here for the better of 50 years.  The root stock is said to be as deep as 75 feet below ground.

View from the top of Moon Mountain Road
The view from the top of Moon Mountain Road?  Priceless.

Despite some smoky haze in the area from various California fires, we were completely in awe of the view from the top of Moon Mountain Road.  This is a view that we could get used to every day.  By the way, if you haven't been to Repris Wines in Sonoma, the drive up to the property isn't for the faint of heart.  You're completely safe, but the roads would not be forgiving if you don't pay attention.

Jeff and Melissa acting like tourists
Say "cheese" and act like a tourist...

No tour to the top of the mountain would be complete without a "touristy" picture.   I wish I had a dollar for everyone who has taken this exact same photo on their visit to Repris.


Repris Wine Cave Entrance

The entrance to the cave at Repris is breath taking.  Candles lined he main entrance that fed into one of the barrel storage rooms.  If you've never had a cave tasting experience, you need to add it to your list.  It's such an intimate surrounding and (in our opinion) the best way to taste wine.  For those of you who are cold blooded, there are very cozy and warm blankets at the table to keep you comfy.

Barrels, Barrels Everywhere
Do you think they would miss just ONE barrel?

Throughout our trip we had discussed (like literally EVERY OTHER visitor) the idea of "Oh, they surely won't miss just one barrel" and we thought we were clever.  Our winery host chuckled, although he was probably rolling his eyes when we weren't looking.  He finally told us that if we could lift the barrel, we could take it.   No dice.  

Let me first say that there was absolutely NOTHING disappointing about this winery visit.  We would definitely go back again.  One thing we personally would have love to experience was a barrel tasting (and we would have gladly paid for that).  Barrel tasting really gives you a finer appreciation of how different a wine tastes pre vs post bottling.

Intimate Wine Tasting Experience
Our wine tasting setting, complete with candles, charcuterie and blankets.

Incredible Wine & Charcuterie List

We loved how not only was the wine featured (duh!) but that Repris also went above and beyond to explain what was offered with the charcuterie.  The L'amuse 'Signature Gouda' was one of our favorite cheese of the entire trip and now we are on a hunt to find it.  Take a look at these amazing wines that we sampled at Repris:

  • 2019 Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2016 Texture Lancel Creek Chardonnay
  • 2018 Syrah
  • 2018 Left Bank
  • 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Moon Mountain Vineyard
Each wine was uniquely delicious.  The Sauvignon Blanc was offered when we first arrived while we were waiting to board our ATV for the property tour.  The remaining wines were tasted in the cave setting.

Repris Wines Charcuterie
Get in my belly!

We really appreciate a winery that serves food with their wines.  Whether it is charcuterie, a light meal or snacks, a little food is always welcome.  Yes, it is great to add a few solids to the belly, but more than that, we appreciate the confidence that a winery has in pairing their wines with food.  We typically are not "wine/food" people because it can actually distract from the beauty and wonderful flavors of the wine.  However, this charcuterie was expertly paired and made us think about trying the same going forward.

2018 Repris Syrah
Gorgeous colors and amazing aromas..

The staff at Repris were so much fun!
A fun winery host helps build lasting memories.

The staff members at Repris were not pretentious at all.  And believe me, they have every right to be.  Their wines are really top notch and we appreciated them more with every pour.  It's one thing to have a host who is knowledgeable about the winery and the wines.  But to have a host who is not only a great ambassador of the brand but ALSO funny, welcoming and makes you feel like a friend?  You just can't beat that type of experience.

Repris Wine Cave
"Forever"memories were made at Repris!

We don't rate wineries or our experiences.  Nearly every one that we visited during our trip was amazing in their own way.  The one that disappointed us won't be written about.  But Repris absolutely exceeded our expectations!   Admittedly, when our friends originally told us that we had to visit Repris, We thought they were a little crazy because they had all been there on prior trips.  "Why would someone want to go back to a winery they have visited before?"  Now we understand.  Repris is without a doubt on our "must see" list of wineries for our next trip.  It was incredible!

Check out our new friends at Repris Wines

Please visit Repris Wines for more information about their wines and membership opportunities.











Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Rodney Strong Wine Estates REJUVENATION Virtual Wine Tasting

 

Rodney Strong Wine Estates Wine Lineup

It was a great day for a wine tasting.  But then again, isn't any day perfect to gather for some vino?  

Rodney Strong Rejuvenation Power Point

Our group of six gathered at our home (aka DrinkTheBottles HQ) for a virtual wine tasting provided by our friends at Rodney Strong Wine Estates.  This tasting was promoted as a media tasting and we invited our friends to enjoy some new wines.  Whenever we have a virtual tasting we always try to include others.  It would be a shame to "waste" six bottles of wine on two people.

Rodney Strong Wine Estates Portfolio

The folks at Rodney Strong Wine Estates have been going through a makeover, or a REJUVENATION as they call it, for the last 3 years.  They have touched every part of the business from the estate, the vineyards, the tasting room, the personnel and, as you may notice, the logo/label!

Rodney Strong Wine Estates Wines

The lineup consisted of six unique and flavorful wines.  The winery proves that you don't have to be expensive to enjoy quality wines.   We tasted these wines in order:
  • 2020 Rodney Strong Rose of Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley:  $25.00
  • 2019 Rodney Strong California Chardonnay:  $17.00
  • 2017 Rodney Strong Sonoma County Merlot:  $20.00
  • 2018 Rodney Strong Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon:  $22.00
  • 2018 Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon:  $28.00
  • 2018 Rodney Strong Old Vine Zinfandel:  $25.00
Rodney Strong Wine Estates note taking

Everyone had the chance to taste all six wines and choose their favorites.  Jeff took notes.

Rodney Strong Vineyards Rose of Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

We started off with a bang!   Collectively and unanimously our group thought that this Rose of Pinot Noir got two thumbs up!  Strong strawberry finish with a medium acidic finish.  At only $25.00 suggested retail, this is an incredible deal.

Charcuterie Board

Melissa and Jeff tried their hands at their first charcuterie board.  You simply cannot have a proper wine tasting without charcuterie.  This is only a small sampling of all of the food that we had!

Rodney Strong Vineyards California Chardonnay

Great golden color and bright Chardonnay.  Some people tend to look down their noses at Chardonnay, like Merlot.  But this one full of flavor and you won't believe it is only $17.00 when you taste it!

Rodney Strong Vineyards wine close up

The nearly hour-long virtual wine tasting presented by Director of Communications Christopher O'Gorman and Director of Winemaking Justin Seidenfeld started out with a history lesson and background about the winery and vineyards.   Rodney Strong (or "Rod" as they referred to him) started off as a dancer and became a wine pioneer not just in Sonoma County, but throughout California.  The winery has been active for over 60 years and Justin is only the 4th director of winemaking in those 6 decades.  

RSV is a Certified Sustainable Winery that believes heavily in conservation, water management and solar energy.  The focus is now more on micro farming while they also plan extensive vineyard replanting over the next 7 years.  

The original tasting room at the winery was opened in 1970 under Rod's watchful eye and just went through a complete remodel.   The focus now is flighted wines by appointment, which will give wine lovers a better tasting experience.  

Rodney Strong Vineyards 2017 Sonoma County Merlot

I really have to applaud the entire Rodney Strong Vineyards (Rodney Strong Wine Estates) team for their vision.   While it may have been a bit overdue to some, they clearly have the right people making decisions both aesthetically and with their winemaking.  Change can be difficult.  But change is inevitable and often necessary to survive in business and to attract a new or emerging audience.  

If you haven't tasted any wines from the Rodney Strong portfolio recently, we would encourage you to do so.  You might find a new favorite.  While they do offer more expensive and exclusive wines like Alexander's Crown or Rockaway Cabernet, the bulk of their offerings are in the $20 - $30 range and affordable for most people.  FYI, our favorites of the day were the Rose of Pinot Noir and Old Vine Zinfandel.  Thank you for Alicia, Christopher and Justin for spending some time with us last week and sharing your labor of love.  Cheers!
















Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Navigating Wine Country During a Pandemic (aka let's help each other)



There is little doubt that the first half of 2020 has been anything less than unexpected from what most would consider a 'normal' daily life.  The global pandemic has affected every person in some way, and most people significantly enough to alter their lifestyle, even if temporarily.  Work, school, daycare and financial hardships have reached into most homes, creating a fear of uncertainty and anxiety for many.  But all is not lost.  Whether it is a false sense of security, the need to return to an accustomed lifestyle or a belief that the worst of this virus is over, people are starting to venture out of their homes and travel.  


There is no doubt that a large number of the world's population are still cautious and some, even frightened, about the health of the world and those around us.  It's difficult to control the actions of those around us, but by using common sense and social distancing, we can begin to appreciate the lives we are customary of enjoying.  I, for one, have chosen to travel.


It has been much too long since we visited California's amazing wine country.  My wife and I feel very blessed to be able to make this trek with friends later this summer and we are going to maximize the fun, the feels and the fellowship during this long weekend.  But wine country (at least online) looks much different than it did previously.  Nearly every web site lists COVID-19 precautions and health protocols.  Some wineries are asking guests to sign health release forms upon arriving on property.  Access to many areas that were once readily available is now off limits.  And that mask?  You better be wearing one.  So how do you drink wine through a mask?   Let's discuss that later.


Now that (like it or not) we understand that times look much different than they did just six months ago, how do we navigate California's wine country?  What is new and what is required and what is the best way to plan your trip?
  • If you're headed to Napa like we are, check out the new health guidelines before you go.
  • Bring a mask or several masks.  (Nobody wants to wear a wine-stained mask).  If you don't have one, stay home.  You'll be turned around at the cellar door without one.  
  • Make reservations because they are required now.  Long gone are the days of just "popping into" a winery for a quick tasting.
  • Keep your distance and be respectful.  Re-opening to the public after being closed for months can be scary and foreign to your hosts.  Tread lightly and follow their lead.
  • If you like the wine, consider making a purchase and/or joining a wine club.  Most wineries are family owned and have suffered greatly because of the pandemic.  Show some love and you'll be rewarded with your incredible wine purchases.

Now that we have a few pointers on how to navigate your upcoming wine trip, let's discuss about what you should expect from a winery before and during your visit.
  • Communication.  Seems easy enough, right?  You would be surprised.   I have reached out to about twenty California wineries during the planning of our upcoming trip.  I am amazed at how many of them never even bother responding to an email.  We get it; the wineries and tasting rooms are starting to get busy with re-opening in its infancy.  But if we have specific needs or your web site scheduling tool doesn't work, we have to email you in order to plan our tasting experience.  The lack of communication sends a message of apathy and we could have been your newest and biggest fans.  I call this a "don't be a dick rule".  
  • Create a memorable experience.   We understand that some areas and experiences may still be closed, but wineries still have an incredible opportunity to create lifelong memories for their guests.  In lieu of a cave tour or super secret hidden gem tasting room that is inaccessible, maybe a sit-down with the vintner or a special library bottle tasting could be an extra-special treat?   Or perhaps it is connecting us with the most special wine tasting room host who would blow our socks off with his/her knowledge, personality, humor and kindness?
  • Try not to make things too sterile or uncomfortable.  We're all scared.  And we, as guests, promise to follow all of the rules and breathe the hot summer California air through our uncomfortable masks.  We ask in return that the tasting room doesn't smell of hospital disinfectants and everyone doesn't spray us down with Lysol if we clear our throat.
We are all going to get through this together.  We are going to wear our masks and pull them down when permitted (and to drink wine!).  We are going to try to get back to a "normal" lifestyle and enjoy everything that wine regions all over the world have to offer.  But most of all, we are going to embrace the ability to move freely, travel the world and drink some superb fucking wines.  Go explore!


This article does not necessarily convey my personal feelings regarding the current global pandemic.  While I encourage my readers and oenophiles to travel and enjoy wine, I also advise everyone to use common sense, be safe and exceptionally courteous to those around you.   -Jeff










Monday, July 2, 2018

2016 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Sangiovese Sonoma Coast

2016 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Sangiovese Sonoma Coast

I am really digging this 2016 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Sangiovese and think it is drinking very well right now.  This is definitely a great Chicken Parmesan pairing now or you could hold it for 5 years to enjoy more depth and less brightness.  This wine is slightly peppery with berries and a bit of funky, wet earth on the nose.  In the mouth, this light-to-medium wine shows off some gorgeous dried cherry bits, hints of candied apples and vanilla.   There's a suggestion of cedar box towards the end and I think it would be great to taste this vintage again in 3 years to see where that goes.  This is a very flavorful wine and one that I think is best enjoyed with the aforementioned meal.  Great value!

2016 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Sangiovese Sonoma Coast label

ABV:  15.0%

Sonoma Coast, California

Suggested retail price:  $25.00

Drink The Bottles score:  89/100


Sunday, July 1, 2018

2016 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay

2016 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay

This post is a couple of weeks overdue, but the timing is right considering the scorching heat that most of the US is experiencing right now.  Many people feel that heavier red wines are cumbersome when the heat index is hovering around triple digits and while I am not one of those people, I think some white wines (slightly chilled) are better suited for the sweltering heat.  With that, I give you the 2016 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay.   This is Chardonnay exactly - e x a c t l y - how I like it to taste.  Whether or not oak is your thing, this 100% varietal has just enough that isn't overpowering, but it definitely helps bring the flavors together.  This wine has a really welcoming light gold color with lemon candy and warm buttered bread dominant on the nose.  Extremely creamy on the palate (again, just how I love it), lemon cake, baked cinnamon apple and baking spices combine beautifully and create a finish that clean and extremely satisfying.  This is definitely the best Chardonnay I have tasted in recent memory and it takes me back to our first California trip 9 years ago.  Frank Family Vineyards has really knocked this wine out of the park and as a side note, they have some of the most beautiful wine labels, which really adds to the conversation.  With 25,000 cases produced there is enough for everyone, so add this to your tasting line up.

2016 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay label

ABV:  14.4%

Carneros, Napa Valley, California

Suggested retail price:  $38.00

Drink The Bottles score:  95/100


Sunday, April 29, 2018

2015 Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2015 Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2015 Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine that can be enjoyed immediately and often with its incredibly soft tannins and welcoming mouth feel.  Smooth and supple, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (87%), Merlot (6%), Cabernet Franc (5%) and Petite Verdot (2%) offers a solid medium purple color and slender legs in the glass.  The aromas of rapsberry, cedar and licorice aren't necessarily the stars here, but rather the supporting cast to a wine that offers the same in the mouth and adds red licorice, roasted coffee beans and soft spices to the mix.  Even with the four blended grapes, I had anticipated a much younger feeling and more acidic wine that would be bright and benefit from a few more years in the bottle.  That was certainly not the case here!  This wine is completely approachable and one that I think you will enjoy with a pot roast dinner if you're looking for a food pairing.  But, it can certainly stand on it's own merit.

2015 Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Label

ABV:  14.3%

Knights Valley, Sonoma, California

Suggested retail price:  $36.00

Drink The Bottles score:  91/100

Saturday, March 10, 2018

2016 Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc

2016 Dry Creek Vineyard Fumè Blanc

Dry Creek Vineyard has been a favorite of mine for several years, as they have a great selection of red and white wines and this 2016 Fumé Blanc is one of their staples.  This varietal has become more popular over the years, but still pales in comparison to a Chardonnay or Riesling.  And if you're going to put yourself out there, you better make this wine stand out and make it memorable.   That's exactly what the good people at DCV give you with their latest Fumé Blanc.  Tons of lemon and lime fruits are front and center at swirling.  A little bit of honey and pineapple are faintly familiar.  Oh, I guess this would be a great time for me to tell you that I drink most of my white wines at room temperature or just slightly cooler than that.  I hate going to someone's house where they pull a white wine out of the refrigerator and start pouring.  Refreshing?  Sure.  Flavorful?  Not as much as if the wine is warmer.....at least, in my opinion.  In the mouth this wine is bright and airy and the lemon shines through with a flavor at the end reminiscent of cut grass, which is what you would expect from a wine made with 100% with Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  Dried herbs and light brown sugar make up a very flavorful finish.  Although I didn't drink this with any food, I think fried calamari (yes, it's 2018 and I still eat fried food) would be a favorable pairing.  

ABV:  13.5%

Sonoma County, California

Suggested retail price:  $15.00

Drink The Bottles score:  89/100


2014 Cline Cellars Sonoma Coast Estate Merlot

2014 Cline Cellars Sonoma Coast Estate Merlot

I wish I had a dollar for every time over the years someone has asked me, "What's a good wine"?  That's such an open-ended question, especially if you don't know someone's taste preference or budget.  I could spend hours recommending good wines, but you really need some trial-and-error in your life to see what you like.  Even if you like California wines, the flavor profiles vary greatly from appellation to appellation.  Remember, it starts with the soil!  Ok, I think I've rambled on enough here, right?  So, let's talk about this 2014 Cline Cellars Sonoma Coast Estate Merlot.  For those who think they don't like Merlot, it's typically because they haven't had any delicious, 100% Merlot like this one, or they have watched Sideways too many times.  This beautiful wine is a medium ruby red in color with aromas of dark cherry, chocolate and burnt cedar after intense swirling.  (And if you aren't swirling your wine, you're cheating yourself out of the full tasting experience!).  The oak aging adds some complexity to this wine which is evident by the very smooth finish with cherries, a kiss of plum and semi-sweet chocolate.  This Merlot will pair with a wide variety of pasta and roasted meat dishes.  Pick this wine up, drink it and then call Cline Cellars and thank them for making such a delicious and affordable 100% Merlot!

ABV:  14.0%

Sonoma Coast, California

Suggested retail price:  $22.00

Drink The Bottles score:  90/100

Winery Adventure: Porter Family Vineyards

  Nestled 600 feet about the valley floor in the Coombsville Region of Napa Valley, you will find a winery that is off the beaten path.  Thi...