Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The vineyards of Oakville.

Harvest 2016 is well and truly over in Vinoland, but it has been over much longer at TWWIAGE.  It is warmer up north in Oakville and harvest happened sooner, and finished faster, than here in the Coombsville tundra.  Grape-picking may be at an end, and wine is, well, still making, but now, in what is now considered the off-season for all things grape and wine, is a great time to partake in a little continuing education.
This morning, the winemaker at TWWIAGE took me, and several of my co-workers, on a field trip to some neighbouring Oakville vineyards. TWWIAGE does buy a small amount of grapes from a handful of well established Oakville growers with whom the winemaker, and the owners of TWWIAGE, have forged strong and stable relationships.
Buying grapes from other growers means that a winery can produce more wine to sell.  But purchasing fruit grown on different soils, from distinct micro-climates and with alternative clone/rootstock/training combinations can lead to various nuances and complexities in the final blend.
Our little band of wily winery-workers trudged through five vineyards in all, committing to memory soil-types, trellising systems and crop yield: it was very educational.  And fun, for a geek like me.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Gratitude and gladness.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
Even though Thanksgiving is not an English holiday I think it is good to have a day when all of us count our blessings be they big, or small.  I am thankful for family, friends, good health, a roof over my head and a full tummy.  And, last but not least, Vinodog 2.  (I just love her to death).
Vinomaker is currently enjoying a chilled glass of 2014, Groth Chardonnay (Napa Valley AVA). Of course he is.  I haven't decided what I am going to quaff today, but I have a pretty good idea that it is going to be sparkling.
Let's get this holiday season started!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Colour palette.

This mess may look like a Rothko, Pollack, or some other impossible-to-interpret abstract foolishness, but in actual fact it is an emptied half ton Macro Bin which until just recently held fermenting Petite Sirah.  Just look at that colour extraction, it's stupendous!
All fermentation in Vinoland is now finished.  And every last drop of wine, late harvest wine and a couple of batches of 'port' are pressed off and barreled down.  Phew, it was a long harvest this year (and I was absent for two weeks of it even).  Good job, Vinomaker.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Poppy Day: 2016.

Vinodog 2 and I are wearing our poppies today in remembrance of all the men and women who fought fearlessly, and sacrificed much in countless wars and conflicts, to safeguard our freedom and liberty.  Brave beyond modern day comprehension, the veterans of both World Wars deserve to have their sacrifices commemorated.  But let us not forget those who are currently serving in the armed forces: cheers to them.
Remember, freedom isn't free.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Last night wine: 2016, part 2.

Goodbye Blighty.  It's time for my holiday to come to an end.  My last night wine this visit was a lovely Tempranillo that Thud had purchased in Marks & Spencer (once again).  The 2012 Bellota Tempranillo was a lovely wine; fruity, balanced, smooth and very, very moreish.  A delightful wine with which to toast the end of a wonderful visit.
Later, England!
California here I come.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Liverpool Gin.

I'm not a gin drinker, but all my family do like the odd gin and tonic.  I don't really like spirits at all, actually.  So I had to ask Thud what he thought of this gin: he said it's alright.  I just like the bottle.  It has a Liverbird on it, so why wouldn't I like it?  Liverpool Gin is indeed made in Liverpool.
I'm a sucker for good packaging and I don't care if that makes me seem shallow.  The makers of Liverpool Gin have ginned up the label with a bit of gold to appeal to people like me, except I'm never going to buy it, ever. It's still a very appealing bottle.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

The Un-Bonfire Night.

The Bonfire Night that wasn't, that was Bonfire Night, 2016.  Ho hum.  I think I mentioned in my previous post that the weather was forecast to turn gangster: it didn't disappoint.  Although it was dry, it was just far too windy to have a bonfire.  Not that there is the danger of a bonfire getting out of control in England (unlike perhaps it would in tinderbox-dry California), but it was just too unpleasant to be outside.  I did see lots of other fireworks, off in the distance, but they did not totally satisfy my inner pyromaniac.  Thud had made some delicious treacle toffee earlier in the day, so I did get to partake of something traditional this Bommy Night.
In lieu of a list of pyrotechnic-wonderment, I thought I'd mention a quick round up of some wines that I have had in the past week.  Paired with a nice Bolognese that Thud made, the 2014 Messapi, Aglianico (DOC Acerenza), purchased in Marks & Spencer, was quite nice (though a tad bit oaky).  And at a couple of lunches out with my Vinomum at The Red Fox pub in Thornton Hough, I took advantage of the establishment's 'By the Glass' wine list and had a glass each of; a 2015 Terre Di Passione Pinot Grigio (Veneto IGT); 2015 Crusan Colombard/Sauvignon Blanc (Cotes de Gascogne); and a 2015 Lanya Sauvignon Blanc (Chile).  All passable quaffing whites, with perhaps the Sauvignon Blanc edging out the other two by a nose. Literally, a very aromatic wine.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

I do like to be beside the seaside.

The weather has been unusually nice whilst I have been home.  Except for a drizzly few hours last Friday it has been dry, sunny and, surprisingly, warmer than average for the time of year.  This morning Thud and I drove over to New Brighton for a coffee.  It was a beautiful autumn morning.
The wind that comes across the Irish Sea into Liverpool Bay, and then up the River Mersey, is often stronger than anything I have ever experienced in the USA.  But with little in the way of wind this morning, just a bracing breeze, I was able to walk a little ways along the promenade and take this photograph.  Oh!  I really do like to be beside the seaside.
Of course, the weather is forecast to turn gangster on Friday, sigh.  But the good weather has meant that I have been able to spend sometime outside with Thud.  Whilst he has been busy building a sandstone wall and a fire pit, I have assisted with raking leaves, feeding chickens and, most importantly, building a bonfire.  Whoo hoo!

Sunday, October 30, 2016


A small, but significant, successful business development of Thud's meant that a glass, or two, of bubbly was the order of the evening.  The Heidsieck, 2007 Monopole Gold Top was a delightful choice with which to celebrate.  All toasty-rich, appley goodness, the Gold Top was a suitable tipple for the occasion.  And that of my 1200th post.
I have been busy since I got home: the Vino-nieces and Vino-nephew have been on half term from school and I have been kept on the go.  I have only had one other wine in the past week. It wasn't very good, which was disappointing as I hoped it would be great.  Made from the Marzemino grape, the wine definitely had plummy characteristics, but it also had a very bad case of volatile acidity. Hate when that happens.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Get back... where I once belonged, Part 9.
Yes, I'm on my way to Blighty once again.
Vinomaker and I toasted my upcoming holiday, at dinner last night, with a bottle of Bodkin, Cuvée Agincourt, Blanc de Sauvignon Blanc. Bodkin is a sparkling Sauvignon blanc; it's not the greatest of wines, it's not bad just vinous and not very complex.  It may have been a little better if it hadn't seemed slightly old and a little oxidised (perhaps it was just a bad bottle). However, I thought it a fitting wine for this particular trip, for when I wake up on my first morning at home, the 25th of October, it will be St.Crispin's Day.  And the 601st anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt.
Get back JoJo!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Bring the Brini.

Hee, hee!  I had forgotten all about this bottle of Lambrini that I had brought back from England with me last April.  Marketed almost exclusively to women, Lambrini is a cheap, sweet, low alcohol, sparkling perry that is produced in Liverpool.  A lot of good things have come out of Liverpool over the years.  However, Lambrini isn't one of them.
I had meant to do a blind tasting of the Lambrini with Vinomaker this summer whilst Thud was visiting, but I forgot.  I thought it would have been an entertaining tasting for me and Thud to share the Lambrini with someone who had never tasted it before.  Then I completely forgot all about the Lambrini again - until just yesterday when I spotted it in my wine-stash (whilst looking for a particular vintage of something altogether more serious).  Time for some Lambrini-larks.
Well, it wasn't much of a test for Vinomaker, as he immediately deduced that the tipple in his glass was not made from grapes.  He's good. Still, I wasn't altogether disappointed in my quest for cheap entertainment at Vinomaker's expense: his face upon first tasting the perry had to be seen to be believed.  He very quickly poured himself a glass of a 2015, Miner Family Viognier.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The grass is greener.

Deere, John:
The 1.75 inches of rain that fell on me last weekend (I always take it personally), when paired with five days of ample sunshine with temperatures in the mid to high 70°s, have produced a distinct green haze of sprouting grasses and weed-seedlings all over Vinoland. Like magic, opportunistic, r-selection plants have taken full advantage of the combination of rain and sun and have begun the process of turning California's rolling, golden hills, and the vineyard floors of the Napa Valley, into velvety-verdant vistas.  Then, a little time later, and after subsequent rain events, everywhere will have to be mowed.  Cycles.
Love, Vinogirl.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pressing business.

Vinomaker and I pressed off a lot of wine this afternoon.  A lot!  (Two batches of St. Helena Cabernet sauvignon and Vinoland's Syrah.)  As usual, Vinomaker had slightly underestimated how juicy the Syrah grapes were and so there was a bit of a scramble to find another container to transport the wine from the crush pad up to Vinoland's modest barrel chai.  It was a busy day.
But not before I had taken a quick jaunt up to Oakville to join my co-workers at TWWIAGE in celebrating the end of Harvest 2016.  The vineyard crew at TWWIAGE had harvested the last grapes back on October 8th.  (TWWIAGE's last tank of Cabernet Sauvignon was pressed off on October 17th and was commemorated with a sparkling wine toast.) Those vineyard lads definitely know how to throw a harvest party: it is by far my favourite celebration of the season. Actually, it will be my only harvest party this year, as I won't be able to make it to the other two that I have been invited to.  I have other pressing engagements.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Just juice.

Harvest 2016 is finished, yay!  Vinoland's Cabernet sauvignon grapes, the ones I lovingly tended all summer long, are now just juice (well, skins and seeds too).  The must is now awaiting inoculation with Vinomaker's yeast of choice. My job is done.
Special thanks go out to the St. Helena Sots (both sets), the Barrow Lane Boozer, the Atlas Peak Alky and the Coombsville Carouser, all of whom got just as drenched as me whilst harvesting the grapes.  Cheers, my dears!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cabernet revealed.

I spent most of today leaf pulling in the Cabernet sauvignon vines in preparation for harvest tomorrow.  I got a good look at the fruit as I stripped the leaves away and I'm estimating the crop is a little lighter than last year.  And the vines seem to be shutting down rather early.
The leaf pulling was a very dusty activity, I was filthy by the time I had finished.  The Napa Valley is expecting its first storm-series of the season tomorrow, perfectly timed to coincide with the Cabernet harvest.  It will be a rather soggy harvest event, but at least I, and the grapes, will be clean at the end of it.  Oh well, sigh.