Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: Done and dusted.

This is the bubbly line up for Vinoland's New Year festivities.  Can't wait.
2016 was a funny old year, neither good nor bad - which is a good thing I suppose.  But time marches on and here we all are on the eve of a new year.  I, for one, am ready to embrace the next 365 days.
I hope 2017 is prosperous, safe, healthy and blessed for all those that I hold near and dear. And for some other, random folks as well. Cheers!
Have a very Happy New Year, everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Port out, starboard home.

Two, sort of, related things happened yesterday; my kind neighbour popped over and gifted Vinomaker and I a bottle of Heitz Cellars, Ink Grade Port (Napa Valley AVA), and I read a story about Porto, Portugal, in the Napa Valley Register.  (Oh, and a third unrelated thing, it was also my Vinomum's birthday.)
I have never tried this particular 'port' before, but my neighbour assures me it is delightful.  I can't wait to try it - tomorrow night, perhaps. The wine is a blend of eight, classic Portuguese grape varieties; Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Souzão, Tinta Bairrada, Tinta Madeira, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Cão and Bastardo.  (I think I am going to be particularly enamored by that last grape.  Titter, titter.)
The article in my local newspaper wasn't a typical fluff-piece written with the purpose of luring tourists to Porto.  No, instead the front page story was a report about a junket that three Napa County Supervisors recently took to the aforementioned city.  At a cost of $17,500 to the taxpayers of Napa County, the three supervisors, whilst in Porto, attended a conference called 'Great Wine Capitals' with the intention that they'd experience "a wonderful learning see what the rivals are doing". One Supervisor, Keith Caldwell, seems to not really have enjoyed the trip at all, or at least what he learned there.
In the article, Supervisor Caldwell bemoans the fact that he did not see more of the problems that Porto faces.  "They really went out of their way for us not to see some of the negatives," Caldwell complained.  What? The audacity!  God forbid the officials of that particular municipality, some 5,500 miles away from the Napa Valley, wanting to make a good impression on their visitors.
Caldwell continued, "What I think we could do is have an international dialogue about, 'What are you doing, Porto, to address homelessness?'" Hang on a minute, I have a suggestion.  Er, maybe the Napa County Supervisors could start by donating that $17,500 to a local homeless charity.  But no, it's other people's money.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Christmas: 2016.

I woke up to another frosty morning in Vinoland, it meant everywhere was white and very Christmassy.  Not as white and Christmassy as the morning my sister, La Serenissima, woke up to in Utah though: my brother-in-law is now busy shoveling out from behind 18 inches of 'White Christmas' personified.
Enjoy food, family, friends and the spirit of the season.  Oh, and wine.
Happy Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve, 2016.

I have been baking all day.  It's been lots of fun, very Christmassy.  And the house smells great. What would Christmas be without mince pies? I don't know, because I have never had a Christmas without them - thanks to my grandmother, my mother, my sister, my brother and, now, me.  Life is good.
I'm sitting here right now, with a glass of Mumm Napa Brut Rosé, watching Father Christmas (yes, my colonial cousins, Santa) wing his way around the globe on the Norad Santa Tracker. Der Weihnactsmann, (my thoughts are with the people of Berlin), is currently on his way to Ikeq Island, Greenland: free to spread his particular variety of Christmas joyfulness. Life's really good.
Happy Christmas Eve, folks!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Solstice, 2016.

A quick peek into my rear view mirror on the drive home form work tonight had me pulling off the road to take a quick photograph.  Whilst not quite as spectacular as the sunset this past Monday, which was simply stunning, the winter solstice sunset was not too shabby.  Looking west-southwest, through a vineyard of leafless vines, I stood for a little while and just enjoyed the view.  Aah.
Happy winter solstice, enjoy, be happy...for tomorrow it starts to stay lighter, later.
Sing it, Ian!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Baby, it's cold outside.

And I'm loving it.  The past five mornings have been white and bright.
After so much rain last Thursday, 3.5 inches fell in just under 5 hours, the sunny, dry, crisp weather has been a more than welcome respite. Of course, all that rain meant there was plenty of moisture about to actually freeze and the resulting 1/8 inch of hoarfrost over every surface, including Vinoland's grapevines, made for some spectacular sugar-sprinkled vistas on my early morning walks with Vinodog 2.  And it made everything seem just that little bit more Christmassy.  Love it.

Friday, December 16, 2016


I'm stuffed!
Whilst the Far Niente vineyard crew were pre-pruning their neighbourhood, Coombsville vineyard this morning (a little later than is usual for them, but then we have been having a lot of rain lately), I was getting ready to go to a luncheon with all my female co-workers...and TWWIAGE's controller who absolutely insists on treating all the girls to a nice lunch every Christmas.  It is difficult for me to eat, and drink, so much at lunch, but it is hard not to when one dines at Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena.  I now feel like a sloth, but a bit of work outside this afternoon will hopefully prepare me for my second round of festiveness this evening (also TWWIAGE related).  It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The winner by a nose.

Continuing with the continuing education theme, when the TWWIAGE production team are not actively making wine, the winemaker (or the oenologist) organises 'blind' tastings for the entire staff.  There is always a theme; usually a comparison of a particular vintage, AVA or price point. Or sometimes a vertical tasting of his own wines.  It is a serious, but fun exercise.
In a recent comparative-tasting, TWWIAGE's flagship Cabernet Sauvignon was pitted against five other 2013 Cabs from throughout the Napa Valley, all of them more expensive than TWWIAGE's offering.
Unfortunately, one wine was corked so it was, for all the tasters, relegated to last place.  Hate when that happens.
To cut a long tasting-story short, the winner, by one point only, was Far Niente's Cabernet Sauvignon.  The very close second went to the TWWIAGE wine (incidentally, my second place wine also).  My favourite wine in the tasting was the offering from Chateau Montelena - quite a light and elegant wine, but, I thought, a wine that would be very food friendly: (it came in third overall.)
And that was that, I feel much more clever now.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Gaudete, 2016.

It's Gaudete Sunday, 2016.  My rosé of choice this evening, for this the third Sunday in Advent, is a saignée of Cabernet Sauvignon produced by TWWIAGE.
Now, TWWIAGE do not make a rosé.  No, the Cabernet Sauvignon TWWIAGE actually retails is very, very red.  But the production crew did have a little bit of fun during harvest 2015 and produced enough of this very tasty wine for every staff member to get a whole case of it.  Yay, love when that happens!
This wine has a wonderful nose of strawberries, raspberries and cherries. The strawberry thing continues on the palate, but is joined by a hint of dried cherries this time, with a slightly sour, white peach vibe on the finish.  Beautifully, deeply hued, this wine has lots of layers and is, for the most part, balanced - though I suspect the alcohol is a bit high.  Although, I wouldn't really know what the declared alcohol is in this rosé as it didn't come with a front label, only a back label.  Just have to have that government health warning.  Titter, titter.
Sing it Maddy!