I felt a little guilty when the winemaker at Calcareous Vineyards, Jason Joyce, missed our interview at his Paso Robles winery when his new baby was sick – as he mailed me six bottles of his latest wine to make up for it. I did remember to write back, asking about the cherub, and heartily assuring him, as a parent myself, that these things happen.
But I never once, for a nanosecond, thought about turning down his offer:
Thank you for being so understanding. I’ve sent down a six pack of various Calcareous Wines for you to enjoy. Three current releases, our 2007 Tres Violet Rhone Blend, our 2007 Meritage and our 2008 Viognier-Marsanne. I also included three wines that you will be the first person outside of the cellar to taste, as I just bottled them last Friday. Two of them are from our Twisted Sisters label that retails for $20, the other is a special estate blend of Syrah with a touch of Petit Verdot called the Moose. Let me know what you think. Again, I am sorry I missed your visit.
Then, when I received the bottles, and realized, gee, how to taste so many and get back to Jason on a timely basis…! I thought TOGA party!
No, not quite, I just thought I’d invite at least 4 more people. Then that number doubled, and almost doubled again; I think we ended up with a baker’s, or half-baked, dozen.
Thinking back, going with my fellow WSET wine students might have been a better plan, as, being the hostess, and drinking along with my guests, writing down my tasting notes didn’t, exactly, work.
I spent a lot of time beforehand planning the lineup and pairing. Instead of lining them up from light to heavy – I did choose to begin with the Viognier Marsanne blend and filled in with a Pulchella Chardonnay when that ran out – I put the reds in ascending order based on alcohol percentage.
08 Viognier (75%) Marsanne (25%) – 14.5% alcohol
Paired with: Eddie’s Crab Wontons (filled with warm cream cheese and pickle relish, served with a dipping sauce of Catalina dressing, crushed pineapple and Worcestershire sauce.)
08 Cabernet Twisted Sister – 14.2% alcohol
Paired with: Roast beef and mild cheddar sliders.
08 Matriarch Cab/Cab Franc/Petit Verdot – 14.4% alcohol
Paired with: Strong cheeses – including a Whiskey Cheddar from Sprouts that was awesome!
08 Tres Violet Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre – 14.8% alcohol
Paired with: Teriyaki (homemade) Chicken Wings (See recipe on this site 4/27.)
08 Moose Syrah – 15.2% alcohol
Paired with: 4 different kinds of chicken grilled sausage and mustards, the horseradish mustard, again from Sprouts, being the favorite.
08 Zinfandel – 16.4% alcohol
Paired with: Chef Chelsea’s Quattro Fromage and Pine Nut pizza, olives, milk and dark chocolate.
From pals Ron and Kym: “The things that stood out about the wines we tasted was that the Cab was good – and we really could not tell it was not from Napa. It had a deep rich Cab taste with a nice finish. The Zin had a typical Zin smell, but more fruity and less peppery than I would have expected, with a long finish. (Thanks for the tip on counting, if I remember right I got to 6 or 7) The Rhone wines did not really stand out if I remember right. The Viognier was memorable in that it was blended with a grape I was not familiar with and had some apple-citrus type flavor going for it.”
Me: Too busy to write anything down! I loved the Viognier Marsanne blend! Couldn’t find fault with any of the others but, again, as the white is what stands out in my mind, I was obviously a hit! Suffice it to say I look forward to trying these wines again, alone!
(Disclosure: Really? It isn’t clear? I didn’t PAY. And, a note on the counting that Ron and Kym mentioned: In my WSET training I learned that if you just counted after tasting you could easily determine the length of the finish. For instance if the flavor held on your tongue until a count of 3 it was short and if it held on for a count of 6 or more it could be considered long.)