Saturday we stopped at Safeway and picked up sunscreen and some other items, put the top down, and went on our way. This was supposed to be the day we spent in the other end of the Sonoma Valley, by the actual town of Sonoma, but it really didn’t work out that way. (I’m glad we got to those wineries last year.)
We stopped at Ledson again, and joined their wine club. We’re scheduled to receive two cases a year. We can slow that down, and I imagine we’ll slow it back to 1 case a year, of mixed whites and reds. Now that we’ve joined Ledson, we’ll have to discontinue Gundlach-Bundschu. Gun-Bun, while awesome, is also monthly, which makes it expensive (esp when you add in shipping) and we tend to get behind. On the up side, we have a lot of wine that I’ve tagged and we are now "cellaring."
We really need to acquire one of those wine refrigerators that cools
the reds at the right temperature. At least Ledson ships by the case,
which saves a lot of money on shipping. We should receive our first
case, put together by us while at the winery, within a week. While
there, we picked up a tile coaster and some caramel brandy sauce, as
well as some chocolate zinfandel sauce. Yum! I’m collecting the
coasters for when I paint the basement in a wine theme. I picked them
up at a lot of wineries on Friday as well.
Part of our case is 4
bottles of Merlot. Normally I don’t like Merlot (although my hatred is
not as passionate as Miles’ in Sideways). This was a really good
merlot, though, proving that a good portion of the merlot you pick up
in grocery stores is just awful. There’s good stuff out there though –
you just have to find it. This merlot was so popular, they are down to
around 50 cases of a limited production. They anticipate the worth of
the bottle to jump from $40 to around $300 in 5-7 years. So we bought 4
– 2 to age gracefully and 2 to drink now.
Whenever we visit wine
country, I learn a lot about wine. This trip I began to learn how to
taste when something tastes good right now, or if it would benefit from
maturing a few more years. I also learned that red grapevines can be
over 100 years old, but white grapes must be yanked up an re-planted
every 20 years. Imagine the logistics of that if you owned a vineyard.
spending too much money at Ledson, we went to Benziger (not Beringer –
that’s in Napa. It’s a common mistake, apparently.) Benziger was
fascinating. First, they offer a tram tour through the inner workings
of the vineyard and caves. Second, Benziger is a biodynamic vineyard,
which is similar to organic – I haven’t yet figured out the difference.
I was interested to find out that in their piece of the valley, they
are a controlled, self-supporting ecosystem unto themselves. It was
really neat to learn how it was all done, from growing to compost to
harvest to crushing/destemming, fermentation, and aging.
wines, much to our surprise, were really good. Of course, we got
ourselves to the Reserve tasting room instead of the main room. We
picked up 2 bottles of limited production Estate Sauv Blanc and
Once we finally left Benziger, time was running
short on us. We headed on up past Cline and Gun-Bun to Domaine
Carneros/Taittinger, between Napa and Sonoma. This is a gorgeous
chateau on the side of a mountain that I stared longingly at last
year. It proved worth our time. We had a cheese plate and a sparkling
wine sampler, and enjoyed the gorgeous view of mountains and vineyard.
there we headed to the Oakville Grocery for fancy sandwiches and snacks
and then across the street to Mondavi for the Preservation Jazz Hall
concert. We made friends with the folks in front of us and shared wines
and cheese throughout the concert. I picked up a "concert sale" set of
wines at Mondavi, including 2 bottles of a fantastic Cab – one of which
I’ll "lay down" and the other to drink now. We also saw Robert Mondavi
and his wife, and they were so cute – they even swing danced a little!
We took a mountain road home between Calistoga and Santa Rosa that night.
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