Since Rusty, the stalwart leader of Grape of the Night (GOTN), has been pinned down in his day job as a rocket scientist (no jest) I will be giving you the line up of what great wines, received as gifts, were shared this past Monday, December 6, at Valencia Wine Company (VWC):
09 Cline Viognier, 13.5% alcohol. My palate over-anxious and my pad pen ready, this wine benefited from my most sober notes. Color: straw. Nose: Honey, lemon or lime, cantaloupe (Or what fellow wine blogger and WSET graduate Claudia Sheridan called it, Fruit Salad.) Acidity: low. Finish: long. Conclusion: Yes, I would buy it and drink it! Purchased at VWC ($22.99) by the owners of The Poached Pair (Megan and Marcy Gonzalez) because they love Viognier and prefer the varietal as a gift over most others.
08 Morello Chardonnay Leona Valley, 14.7% alcohol. Nose: Buttery, little oak – in a good way. Acidity: high. Very drinkable now. I brought this one and a Morello Pinot Noir (see below) as Nick Morello gifted them to me the day before. Nick was the first manager at Valencia Wine Company 7 years ago. He was making wine then and still does to this day. He has since been the winemaker for Leona Valley Wines and managed Terravant in Santa Ynez. He makes his home in Santa Barbara but I still consider him a Santa Clarita native – one that I support heartily in his winemaking efforts. Hope to see much more of Nick’s wines around town soon – starting with The Cellar.
08 Morello Pinot Noir, Paso Robles, 14.4% alcohol. Nose: mushroom, cherries. Tracy Sly, Rusty’s wife and driver, thought there was some tobacco on the finish. Acid: high. Pairing: It worked with my cheese Panini. I dug it, Rusty liked it and another fellow WSET graduate and fellow wine blogger, Denise Lowe, liked this one too. Way to go Nick! Find for yourself at Morello Wines.
Chateau La Garelle Puits Rasat Saint Emilion Grand Cru 06. What I called a sweaty sock nose Denise and Rusty agreed was Barnyard, a more typical term. But, they agreed with me five minutes later when I noticed that it had blown off. Low tannins, clear color, perfection a glass. All agreed, it was a great example of Bordeaux.
This Bordeaux, a favorite of Rusty’s and purchased at VWC for $46.99, and was originally gifted to him by local sommelier George Skorka. (You may know George. He married Jennifer, who also once worked at VWC.)
BOB Wine, Whalebone Winery, 13.7% alcohol. With a blend of Estate Cab, Petite Verdot, Zin and Syrah this became a favorited wine for me, after the Morello’s of course. Nose: Shoe blew right off to mature fruit. Taste: Oak, dry, complex. Finish: Long. Very drinkable. This was a gift of Claudia Sheridan’s and she had a couple of great stories about the winery: One about them finding a whalebone on the property as they were planting and, that they keep beer in the winery for those that grow tired of wine tasting at the end of the day.
Shai (pronounced “Shy”) Cellars Adome, Santa Ynez. 65% Syrah, 35% Cabernet. Great cherry-filled nose. I thought it like a Beaujolais – not a Nouveau – very well done. Made by Denise Lowe’s friend Shawn Shai Halahmy, who did come to at least one GOTN. The best news on this one: It received 91 points from Tasting Panel magazine too! Denise sure know how to pick friends!
Next GOTN: The second Monday in January, 1/10/11, 7 p.m. at Valencia Wine Company. Rusty wants to do Rhone varietals – with a twist – all of the Rhones shared have to be blends. So, think Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre for domestic and anything from the Rhone Valley. If you bring a wine you have to buy one – that’s our deal to use the bar for our meetings. More details? E-mail me at email@example.com
(This column in rife with wines as gifts so consider this a full disclosure.)