Friday, December 31, 2010

Keeping Mumm.

It's not a secret that I love bubbles, I think they should be consumed most every day. So, it was to my surprise that I noticed, just recently, that Mumm Napa Valley had a sparkling wine that I had not yet tried - Cuvee Renouveau. What? I needed to remedy that instantly. And there perhaps would be, I thought, no better time than New Year's Eve to imbibe in a bottle of the aforementioned Renouveau and then compare it with it's soeur Française, Cordon Rouge. So, I procured myself a couple of bottles of the American red-striped bubbly (not the Jamaican beer) and a couple of bottles of the French variant.
If Mumm Napa were trying to duplicate Cordon Rouge they got pretty darned close. The grapes are sourced from the Anderson Valley, slightly cooler than Napa, and perhaps more suited to bubbly production. The Cordon Rouge's mouth feel is irresistibly and undeniably French, redolent with yeast and toast, whilst the Renouveau has an alluring nose heady with sour-apple skin and ripe pear, still they are incredibly very similar.
However, I'm not going to over analyse that which is sparkling in the glass before me, it's New Year's Eve...I'm just going to enjoy two rather decent wines.
Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The frosty light.

At last, a welcome frost in Vinoland. I am so tired of rain, one could be forgiven for thinking California was actually England of late!
Everywhere looked so pretty when I woke up this morning that I almost didn't want the sun to rise, above the eastern hills of Vinoland, and banish Mr. Frost from my deck. Each breath I took was crisp and fresh and everywhere glistened in the frosty, thin air. I wish it had been like this on Christmas day, but the festivities went on in spite of the downpour. I'm hoping it stays like this for the New Year.
A glass of something hearty with dinner tonight is in order methinks. We are expecting low temperatures tomorrow morning also, hopefully the plummeting mercury will finally finish off the 3 million pesky fruit flies that are living in my compost bin. See ya, Drosophila melanogaster. It's not been nice knowing you!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Every family has one.

A black sheep that is, except mine. My relatives are all pretty straight-laced, verging on boring if truth be told. So I had to take a quick road-trip-in-a-bottle to Amador County to find one.
The Black Sheep 2002 Zinfandel had definitely seen better days. The wine was still recognisable as a Zinfandel, but a lot of the wonderful aromas of raspberries and pepper, that you expect in a young and robust Zinfandel, were all but a distant memory.
The Black Sheep was accompanied, to the mini Vinoland party, by a 2007 Rapscallion (now we're talking, we have several of these in my family)...the Prodigal Son couldn't make it this time - he is holidaying down in Paso Robles.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Oo, er, missus!

I have to tell you, I love Christmas (I think I've mentioned that before.) To me it is without doubt, the happiest time of the year. But, something rather small brought the biggest smile to my face this Christmastime. Guess what it was? It was a chocolate, or should I say a whole box of them: Happy Balls made with Knob Creek bourbon! I'm not kidding, I have polished off one entire box, it's a good job I received two for Christmas. (Thank you Vinomaker and the Detroit Dipsomaniacs.)
I have never really liked foods made with any type of liquor. Sherry in a trifle, no! Cognac in the Christmas pud, nope! Marsala in a zabaglione, pass! Unlike a dear, departed auntie of mine, who was the undisputed Babycham and Cherry B queen of the family, I have never liked liqueur filled sweets either - horrible, nasty things! That was until I was introduced to Aunt Happy's Happy Balls, as a wedding present from the aforementioned Michiganians, four years ago. Now I think Aunt Happy (although she's not an attractive woman) is my new favourite auntie.
Happy Boxing Day...hic!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas: 2010.

It is a tad early, but it seems somebody is already imbibing in a snifter of port (which happens to be a blend of Touriga nacional, Charbono and Tempranillo). It's allowed because he did have rather a long night after all! Enjoy it Santa!
Yuletide greetings from the Napa Valley.
Vinomaker, the Vinodogs and I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sugar and spice.

I made a bit of a mess, but the mulled wine is a-warming. Let's get this party started!
A festive Christmas Eve to you all.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winery Christmas Lights 9.

This winery, Peju Province, is in my mind notable not for the wines they produce, but for the strangely pruned sycamore trees that line the winery's driveway. These poor, pathetic trees lean northwards in unison all year long as if besieged by a constant, raging wind from the south. It doesn't seem right somehow that each Platanus occidentalis is pruned to within an inch of it's life. Where are the outraged tree-huggers? However, come Christmas-time it's a different story. Bedecked in glowing, red fairy lights these trees suddenly become a wonderful sight to behold and one tends to forget that the wines within are not so spectacular.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ring Solstice Bells.

I'm sitting here looking for a decent mulled wine recipe online and I'm discovering that there are lots and lots of recipes to choose from, all variations on a theme. Mulled wine is a traditional winter drink and is essentially a combination of wine (usually red), citrus, spices and sugar which is then gently heated.
Whilst mulling over the final selection of what seems the most pleasing concoction to me, I thought a little Jethro Tull was in order. Happy winter solstice.
For Thud...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winery Christmas Lights 8.

Not all wineries have a tasting room in situ so to speak. Hill Family Estate is one such winery. Located on Yountville's restaurant row, just a stone's throw away from Bouchon, Bistro Jeanty, and the famed French Laundry, Hill Family's tasting room looked very inviting on a recent, rainy December night. It's a pity I was too busy to stop, it looked so cosy. The date palm, in the background, looks like it was added for an extra Californian effect!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tonnellerie greetings.

What do you get when you buy several barrels from a local cooperage at $900 plus each? A complimentary Christmas card.
Merry Christmas right back at 'ya Demptos!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Winery Christmas Lights 7.

This 30' plus tall pine tree stands tall, and proud, all year long at Cliff Lede Vineyards located on the Yountville Crossroad, but here it is resplendent in it's Christmas finery. Okay, so the lights are placed in a rather slapdash fashion but readers, really, have any one of you ever decorated so tall a tree? As I head south towards home on the Silverado Trail this cheery, welcome sight reminds me every year...that someone owns an awfully tall cherry picker.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What's on your Christmas list?

It's been quite a few years since I have actually wanted anything specific, in the way of a present, for Christmas. Honestly, the last time I remember believing that I needed a particular gift was probably when I was a teenager. And even then I most likely had to rack my brain for ideas. Nowadays, when posed with the question "what would you like for Christmas?" my response is invariably, "...nothing." I know this nettles my nearest and dearest, but really my needs are few, my tastes are simple, and my imagination is often lacking. What is a Vinogirl to do?
I am the happiest in the company of good friends, at play with the Vinodogs, and in the sharing of comforting and relaxing familial repasts (accompanied by a good glass of wine of course). The gift of good times, that foster fond memories, are my favourite pressies now.
I really would not want, or have the need for, the Vino-handbag (in the above picture) as a gift . Who would?
What's on your Christmas list?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hello little sunshiny flower.

It's been a rather damp, not too cold, autumn so far here in Vinoland. Winter, still officially more than a week away, is as yet forecast to be not much different. Ho hum! I would like a little frosty weather to make things around here seem a little more Christmassy.
Although I may long for white, frosty beginnings to my December mornings, the appearance of a little ray of floral sunshine is not lost on the cold-hearted Vinogirl. Here is Vinoland's first narcissus of this 2010 season. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gaudete.

Seeing as it is Gaudete Sunday I thought it appropriate that I indulge in something pink (think rose-coloured candle) with dinner. A Mi Sueno 2009 Rosé seemed just the thing.
An unusual blend of Syrah, Pinot noir and Malbec, this deep, salmon hued wine is quite a little fruit bomb with very, very nice acid. Mi Sueno produces some incredible wines and it seemed fitting that I chose a wine with a Mexican connection as today is also the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe...not that I can remember celebrating that particular feast day much growing up in Liverpool.
Sing it Maddy!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Virgin on the ridiculous.

This just agitates me, I don't know why exactly, it just does. There I was quietly reading an article on the U.S. Supreme Court when I turned over the page and saw this advertisement. For starters, like oil and water, Newsweek and Virgin just don't seem to go together, and then they go and throw in some sort of wine-club-thingy for good measure! The lengths that some people will go to just to be in the wine industry. I find it all very disturbing.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Like clockwork...

...the vineyard crew were out pre-pruning the Far Niente Chardonnay vineyard near Vinoland today. Although a week earlier than last year, I have to take my hat off to their head viticulturist for maintaining a very tight vineyard operations schedule...if only I were so organised!