Sunday, June 30, 2013

My salad days.

My go to salad dressing is Newman's Own (NO) Lite Balsamic, I rarely use anything other than this particular dressing on my rabbit-food.  Love it.  I even have my sister-in-law OTW, and her sister Tenbellies, hooked on the stuff.  I have never, however, purchased any other NO products; no popcorn, no pizza, no pasta sauce.  I certainly have not ever bought NO wine.  In all honesty, I didn't even know the company made wine until I saw a coupon for it in the Sunday newspaper.  Perhaps I should clip this coupon and procure for myself a bottle of NO Chardonnay (just kidding!) and see what passes for a wine that raises money for charity.  I may.  I may not.
No doubt this fermented grape juice is made by some Goliath of a bulk wine producer like Bronco Wine Company.  And it's probably not a flawed tipple, just something that you wouldn't bother writing home about.  But here I am blogging about it.  The irony.  The coupon just amused me.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

An Alsatian Pinot Blanc.

It's been pretty toasty in Vinoland the past few days (103° F today), so white wine has been the accompaniment to all of our evening meals.  This Calvet, 2011 Pinot Blanc is one of the bottles of wine I brought back with me from my recent trip home.  I always try to find something different for Vinomaker to try, as I'd never find an Alsatian Pinot blanc for sale anywhere in Napa.
The thing I like most about the wines of Alsace is the labelling, it's very straightforward - in some ways even simpler than California wine labels - maker's name and grape variety, that's it!  And this was a very simple wine due to it's lack of complexity.  I do usually like Pinot blanc, in all of it's mutationally-weird-wonderfulness, but the Calvet Pinot blanc was unfortunately a tad flabby for me.  I did enjoy the extreme white-peachiness of the nose and palate, but without that extra zing of acid that I was expecting the wine just fell short of being appetising.  Bottle got emptied though.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

New tractie.

Not content with the three John Deere tractors we already owned, Vinomaker recently decided we needed something more powerful.  So Big Deer (BD) was sold; Medium Deer (MD) was traded in; which left us with only Little Deer (LD)...until today when BD II arrived.  New, shiny tractors are so pretty, aren't they?  Just as pretty as, erm, a new Paul Smith handbag (hint).
BD II is a welcome addition to Vinoland's accumulation of rolling stock which, amongst other things, includes a backhoe, a log-splitter and a wood-chipper.  Don't worry, our neighbours love us...they even like the sound of the duelling banjos that waft uphill from Vinoland.  Yee haw!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tendrils gone wild.

If any further evidence was needed to prove that a grape cluster is a modified tendril, here it is - one of several hundred morphing-into-mini-cluster-tendrils that were hanging about in the Cabernet Sauvignon canopy...y'know, flowering and stuff.  Well, they were until I cut them off in their prime. 
I spent the entire past weekend stuffing shoots under trellis wires and removing the aforementioned modified tendrils, along with any other opportunistic secondary fruit clusters (on lateral shoots).  I needed to get the vineyard whipped into shape before the rain, which was forecast for the next two days, appeared.  And rain it did, much more than I expected.  Rain this time of year is not at all detrimental to the grapevines, it really is just more of a nuisance.  And now, with all the shoots stuffed, Vinomaker can easily navigate the newly tamed rows to re-sulphur the vines and protect them from powdery mildew.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A rosy day.

Happy summer solstice!
I love this time of year.  I love the longer daylight hours.  I love photosynthesis, (so do the vines).  I just love light.  Although I miss the longer summer days of my youth in Liverpool, (so much further north than Napa) I'll take any daylight I can get, (so will the vines).  The longer days also allow me to walk the Vinodogs later, in the cool of the evening, which suits the aging V1 much better.
Blooming, on my daily Vinodog-walks, amongst the roadside-thicket that is composed mainly of poison oak and Himalaya blackberry, is the appropriately named Rosa canina, or Dog rose.  A wild rose - which in it's cute pinkness looks pretty enough to be tamed and cultivated in a garden - the dog rose asserts itself and thrives along roadsides, irrigation ditches and creeks.  A cheery little flower, the dog rose could only look happier if it sported a wagging tail. 
June 21st, a happy summer day, a rosy kind of day.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

True Wine Lover 14.

Whilst sitting in Heathrow, waiting for my flight back to San Francisco, and feeling a little sorry for my already-homesick-self, it was nice to see a familiar face smiling at me from a page in The Daily Mail. 
It escapes me right now how I first came across the 'Knackered Mothers' Wine Club' blog: writer Helen McGinn may have commented on Vinsanity first and I simply, and nosily, followed the link to her blog.  I'm glad I did, I really like how she writes, both style and content.  Apparently, lots of other people do too.  Ms. McGinn has been receiving a ton of well deserved recognition and critical acclaim of late, the accolades have been coming fast and furious.  Helen is a Brit who worked for a long time as a wine buyer for a supermarket chain.  She is a busy mother of three who finds time to be a columnist in a daily newspaper (see photograph above), regularly updates her blog, and has just recently released her first book, The Knackered Mothers' Wine Club.  With all this activity going on, she still finds time to answer comments on her blog, which most bloggers who achieve some measure of success fail to do.  No wonder she's so knackered!
I have never met Ms. McGinn (then again, I have never met any of my TWLs), but this particular knackered-mother is one of my True Wine Lovers because I am convinced she is the genuine article, i.e., truly a wine lover.  And our paths may never cross, but I wanted to acknowledge that Ms. McGinn unwittingly did me a favour when she smiled up at me from the page of a tabloid.  I smiled back.  Thank you Helen.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Corks gone wild.

No, there aren't any angry corks marauding around Vinoland - just an over zealous human-corker perhaps.  Accidents happen.  Besides, this particular bottle might simply have had a weak spot on it's neck or shoulder.  Such a flaw in the glass would cause the bottle to break when pressure was applied from the hand-corker.  But rest assured, no wine-drinkers, or Vinodogs, were hurt during the bottling of the 2011, St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon (clone 7).
A leisurely lunch followed; corks were pulled from miscellaneous bottles and after a while the broken bottle was forgotten. 
Job's a good 'un.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Vigna Le Tese.

I do not know much about this wine, except that it was good.  Very good.  So good in fact that Thud, Monkey and I finished the bottle pretty quickly and were left wanting more...if only we'd brought two bottles back from Lucca.  Sigh.
Produced by Azienda Agricola Valgiano, an agriturismo in the Pizzorne hills north-east of Lucca, the 2008 "Le Tese" (DOC Colline Lucchesi) appears to be a blend of approximately 85% Sangiovese and 15% Canaiola.  Or Ciliegiolo.  Or Merlot.  Or Cabernet Sauvignon.  I don't know...when it comes to Italian websites online-translators can only help so much.  Where is Do Bianchi when I need him?  No matter.  One of the more expensive local wines to be had on the shelves of Enoteca Masser Ugo, on Via S. Andrea (just loved the ever so dapper proprietor), it was a bargain at €12.50 (about $17.00).  I'd have to say that this vineyard designated wine is one of the most pleasantly delicious Sangiovese blends that I have ever had.  I can almost imagine Pucchini, a native son of Lucca, quaffing a glass of this wine and perhaps being inspired by it whilst composing one of his La Rondine.  Well, at least something similar, as I don't think Valgiano produced this wine back then.  Great wine!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Balloon over Napa.

I've been back in Vinoland a week already.  The time has flown by.  My first morning back I was interrupted, whilst unpacking, by a hot air balloon that floated over the southern end of're not on Merseyside anymore Vinogirl.  Sigh!
All my spare time has been spent in the vineyard catching up on a fortnight's worth of shoot-stuffing and trunk-suckering.  Fruit set looks good so far, especially in the Pinot grigio.  The Cabernet Sauvignon is perhaps only 70% through flowering, but everything looks like it's going according to plan.  2013 is looking like it maybe another excellent vintage.