Monday, October 19, 2009

Weekend Whirlwind Winery Tour

I have a group of friends who, for the last several years, have converged together for an annual weekend wine tasting trip.  This year, where else could we go but my new home region of Sonoma!  With three days to run wild and all of Sonoma Valley to play in, we visited Landmark, Chateau St. Jean, the Mayo Reserve Room, Arrowood, Imagery, Jacuzzi, Rochambo, Larson, Sebastiani, Bartholomew and Ravenswood.  Whew!  Here are some memorable moments!

Naturally I had to bring my friends to one of my favorites, the Mayo Reserve Room, where every wine was a hit, and we tasted some wines I hadn’t tried during my last visit.  This time, I particularly liked the 2007 Los Chamizal vineyard Zinfandel, which was jammy with hints of white pepper, candied blueberries, bittersweet chocolate.  Yum!  (And my thanks to Noah for outstanding service, even though they were super busy that day!

We had a lot of fun at CornerStone in Sonoma, with its shops focused on design, modern lines, whimsical art pieces and amazing gardens.

We were lured there, however, by the tasting rooms, and in particular, Roshambo Winery.

I enjoyed the 2006 Scissors Rhone varietal blend, with its fresh, light notes of white peaches, lime and a hint of anise in the finish.  I also really liked the 2006 Rock, a big, inky blend of petite sirah, syrah and zinfandel, with notes of black currant, ripe blueberries and white pepper.  An added bonus – the tasting room Rocks!

Finally, we visited the lovely tasting room at Ravenswood, where there are delicious wines available that can’t be found in grocery stores.  Although I usually think Zin when I think of Ravenswood, this visit I especially enjoyed the 2005 Pickberry, an earthy, herbaceous blend of merlot and cab, with spicy notes of tobacco, currant and eucalyptus.  Outstanding!

My Wine Girlz and I had a blast bombing all around the valley, sharing wine and wine notes, sharing great meals (a stunner at La Salette on the Plaza, a lovely lunch at the renowned Girl and the Fig, and of course, incredible breakfasts at Chez Moi – SonomaSipper’s own kitchen), and sharing friendship.  Does it get any better?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Weekly Winery Adventure

I set out for my winery adventure yesterday with a list of errands to run after my visit - errands which didn't get accomplished.  Who knew I would wind up spending a happy 1 1/2 hours relaxing, chatting with chefs and fellow tasters, and sipping great wine!  It seems that's what one does at the Mayo Family Winery Reserve Room in Kenwood.   Mayo also has a tasting room in Glen Ellen, I discovered, but the Reserve Room is the one I drive by frequently, so it's the tasting room I stumbled into, and boy am I glad!

The Reserve Room does Food & Wine Tastings, in which their chef and his crew prepare interesting small bite dishes to pair with each of their wines.  I only did a wine tasting there, but will certainly want to go back for the food and wine tasting in the near future, because all the dishes looked and smelled fabulous, with innovative flavors and interesting pairings.

I enjoyed every wine I tasted, but there were some standouts.  The 2007 Saralee's Vineyard Viognier was quite amazing - a delicious nose, a very smooth and full mouth feel, lots of butterscotch with hints of vanilla and tangerine.  I loved it; I bought one, and can't wait to serve it.  Chef Max even gave me his crab cake recipe to pair it with!

The crew also let me have a little vertical tasting, so I could compare the 2006 and 2007 Ricci Vineyard Zins.  Wow!  I loved them both.  They were each quite spicy, the '06 showing more black fruit (cassis, leather, hint of vanilla in the finish, very smooth), while the '07 had more red fruit notes (red currant, rasberry) and was perhaps a bit more complex.  I was particularly intrigued by the dish being paired with the '06 Ricci Zin - Shaved chicken breast with smoked heirloom tomato salsa cruda - I asked Max about this, and he explained it's the smoked tomatoes that pull it all together with the Zin.  An idea to experiment with!

Finally, I loved the 2005 Los Chamizal Cab Franc, soft and luxurious, with currant notes.  Max brought me a sample of his Niman ranch skewer with molĂ© spiced shell (yes folks, that's chocolate covered beef - how creative is that?), which was incredibly delicous, and a perfect match with the wine!

All in all, a very enjoyable winery visit, and my thanks to Noah, Max and Khambay at Mayo Family Winery Reserve Room.