Impromptu Tasting

quarry2

I just love becoming a part of things that I had no idea minutes or even seconds before, that I would be participating in.   With our busy and overloaded schedules, even our social events all seem too well coordinated and planned.  And not that there’s anything right or wrong with that.  But the charm of events coming together or coming to you instantaneously is what makes this life so magical.   I or you should intend it, without having to forcefully wish for it.  Because then, all the goodness finds you.

quarry1

It did for me this past Saturday.at Quarry Wine & Spirits right outside the city limits of Baltimore, in Pikesville, with a count ’em, 18 wine tasting.

quarry3

It brings me such joy just to write that.  Yes I said 18.  Aside from even the most comprehensive of tastings at a wine festival, I don’t think I’ve ever done double digits for a wine tasting.  That might show my naivete but it sounds like a grand number to me.  And what a treat this was.

No I will not go over every wine that was listed.   I took notes and did lots of scribbling which makes no sense to me as I look over it now.  But there will be pictures of that tasting sheet.  This is one I’m going to hold on to and store in a safe place.

How I ended up here is just one of those laws of the universe.  Quarry Lake is not a shopping district I find myself in often.  But I was here on this day for a reason.  As I’ve stated in certain instances before, I almost didn’t walk in.

I had been invited to a barbecue later in the day, and I would be bringing wine, but from most likely one of my usual wine shoppes downtown, without even thinking about this serendipitous experience that was about to take place.

quarry2

I will shortly go over the wines.  These are the three that I bought.  These are also the three that me and a new friend I made seemed to concur were the best.  Well at least on two of them we were in agreement on the same power and flavors these two in particular brought.

wines5

What’s also fun about this is you do make friends at these things.  Sometimes it was just for that 20-30 minutes plus over the wine, or sometimes a deeper connection begins and you not only talk about the wine, but you start  talking about other things.  It’s as if you’ve known each other for years.  And maybe in certain situations that might be the case. Maybe it’s a past life sort of thing, or maybe it’s just the moment to take in and appreciate for now.  I think it’s a bit of everything and more.

This was also not one I planned on taking pictures of and blogging about. This was even more organic than I would realize.

Our party host was quite charismatic as well. And I wish I remembered his name.  This is not the professional journalism I’ve come to expect from myself.  But his voice and his selling almost made me by more.  But I’m not one to overpay and get carried away when it comes to buying one.  There’s a discipline.  These wines have to be bought with the intent of being either drank soon, or saved for a special occasion.   Buying wines and just letting them sit there till they go bad is something I’ve done far too often.  There’s probably wines in my cellar that needs to be disposed of for this reason alone.  Gross.

The 2015 Alto Vinho Verde Rose was only $6, from the retail price of $11.    And this is the one that set the tone for the rest of the tasting.  Yes this was the first one on this incredible list as we were going to were lightest to fullest, and sweetest to the boldest, as the list implies.  That’s Tasting 101.   I imagine for the price, and because it was the first impression, that many bought this one, if they didn’t purchase any other or had to buy just one.    This is going to wonders when the weather gets nicer.   It was nicer on this day but I’m gonna save this one and maybe expound on it another time.  But the strawberry flavors are going to get a lot of people excited when Spring finally comes.  It’s officially March so I say enjoy!

The 2013 Pinot Noir from Chamisal Vineyards is the first of two that got me to overreact and genuinely think this wine is one that could be a favorite.    The label mentions how the grapes weren’t aged in Oak but in Stainless Steel to show how great the Pinot can taste on its own.  Interesting stuff. It did seem to enhance the Pinot Noit by its self as well as the fruit flavors of cranberry, black cherry, and plum.  I definitely got a mix of all three, or is it because I read the label and was told that this is what I would taste? Hmm.. But the fruitiness was easy to get, and this made for a closer to medium-bodied wine (but still light) then what I usually get from my Pinot’s.  And this was a nice treat.   This was also #9 on this list and I had a few samples leading up to it that were less than great, that may have made this wine even that much better.  That’s for me to think about later when I open this up for guests or for myself.  But my hunch is I will love it the same.

However, at $30.00 retail, that may be a bit too much for me.  I like my bottles $20 and under and perferably $10-$15 whenever possible.  At the sale price of $17, I wish I had purchased two.  This was more than worth that amount.  I’ve seen it listed in the $21-$25 range on many sites, so there’s a frame of reference for you.

Again I can’t wait to break this out when the weather gets closer to awesome.  And it’s coming.   This is what I was going to bring to the barbecue.  Maybe it was going to be…

fincawine2

The 2010 Finca Sobreno Toro Tempranillo was the big winner.  And as you can see, it’s the one I circled which makes me laugh in hindsight.  This is the expert analysis I’m here to bring.

It’s funny because at just about any other tasting that previous Pinot would have won in a landslide. I love how it’s 2010.  That means it’s already got more longevity than I know how to handle.  Actually yes I do.  I can drink it and share with fellow wine lovers.

fincawine1

This medium-bodied wine is loaded with all sort of flavors, I don’t know where to begin.  It’s as if this wine was meant for me.  It’s a mix of all the seasons.  There’s scents of vanilla, chocolate, and clove.  I only got those based on power of perception, maybe.  And plenty more berries and chocolate after tasting.   This was wine  #14 on the list, so who know if there were so many ho hum wines (and lots of sips of water and small bites of crackers to reset the palate) in between the aforementioned Pinot and this. But the regular price of $32 is not for me.  However, at $20 this is just on the cusp of my threshold.  So why not.

fincawine4

Tastings to tend to make many a wine larger than life than they really are.  It’s about the experience. It’s about the wines, potential pairings, and situations where these wines can truly shine.  And this discussion was done in the most genuine and without the slightest hint of pretension and arrogance.  Unless my rose (not Rose) colored glasses were a little tighter than usual, this was one of friendship, comradery, and just an awesome Saturday to celebrate the joy of wine drinking and get introduced to some new wines that will become staples of our lives.

Not to get too dopey but the weather turned to rain later on this day so the new memories will have to be put on hold.   If the universe allows I will revisit these wines when paired with food and see how my pairing pals enjoy it versus how much I did.

wines2

I hope these wines create many new memories to cherish.  But for now, I do cherish this once in a while experience.  And can only hope the next time can be just as tremendous.

Cheers,

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dance Party!

cotilliondisplay2

No, not really.  Well, unless you incorporate laying around as much as possible as some form of interpretive dance.

traderjoesfront

I’ll cut right to the dance and step in where I can, this dance party was brought to us by our friends from Trader Joe’s.  The 2014 Cotillion Pinot Noir is an exclusive to TJ’s and I wouldn’t expect it any other way.

cotillionwines

I can’t fully explain into words but there’s certain stores you walk into, and you can just tell the food, the drink, or what have you is synonymous with that store.  If I saw this bottle somewhere at a friends house,  I would sense this can only come from one place. That’s a testament to the bottle and the energy of this store.

The fact that I’m expounding on this so long on this may come off as an indictment of the wine itself than a love for the label.  Well there is a love for the label.  How do you not like animals dancing the Cotillion.

My one issue is the price.  I think in general they’ve steadily raised their prices $1-$2 (and sometimes more) for most of their exclusive wines.  The same wines I used to see for $3-4, yes you read that right, are now in the $5-7+ range.

cotillionback

This wine goes for $10 and it’s ok for that price.  The tasting notes have been provided for you, and Trader Joe’s is so good with making that accessible and easy for anyone to understand.  The berries are easy to detect as with many California wines, but the vanilla spice is the stand out here. Maybe in colder temperatures I’ll appreciate this even more.

It screams fall and it screams a cozy situation where doing nothing as much as possible is ideal. That’s more projecting and a personal observation than anything else.

Since it’s a Pinot Noir, it can be paired with anything and nothing all at the same time. After a few minutes of letting it breathe, it improved in taste.  Initially I was weary.  But that’s why you know never judge a wine on first sip, immediately upon opening.  And you never judge a wine by its label, unless it’s as charming as this one.  In that case, judge away, as long as it’s positive. Animal friends always deserve to be happy.

And we should be happy with whatever wine we’re drinking.

I would be happier if this was a few dollars less.  And I may have been spoiled since I’ve had many great wines at $7.00 or less from Trader Joe’s.

cotilliondisplay

As seasons change so does our eating habits.   Some dear friends supplied a wonderful spread of cheese, crackers, and finger foods to complement the vino.  It’s a team effort! For even more on this group collective, go here.

And the team at the Trader Joe’s in Alexandria, VA has always been accessible.    Since my first time visiting I’ve always had a good feeling about this store.  It’s been one of my go-to wine shoppes for the past few years.  And when I make my way to the vicinity I make it a priority to stop by.

Even though prices for certain vintages have gone up, there’s still bargains that are second-to-none, that you can’t find everywhere.  Being a national chain is part of why they can lower their prices.

traderjoeswines

Lower prices doesn’t always mean lower quality.  Just as a cheap bottle can lead to cheap wine. So have fun and do some research.   Before you know it the holidays will be here and if you live near a TJ’s that sells wine consider yourself fortunate and find some great deals.

Here’s a sampling of my Trader Joe’s posts from the past.

traderjoeswines2

We’re just getting started and more sweet deals are hopefully to come.

Cheers,

Ideen

 

Rolling in the Deep

deepcreekwines

I thought long and hard about what to write this week. I’m serious.   The Maryland Wine Festival gave me enough options to fill out the rest of the year.  But like I said last week, this will likely not be done with a consecutive weeks stream of posts and then I move onto the next thing.   It will be spaced out.  That could happen starting next week for a few weeks from now.  Only time will tell.

The fun of festivals is sampling so many wines from local vineyards, without having to make the drive to the winery itself.  Does this sound like cheating?  No, I wouldn’t say so. This might be like the Cliffs Notes version of things.  But it’s the perfect introduction to wines we otherwise may have never heard of. They come to us, like so many good things do.  We pay a small cover charge ($25-$30) to enter and the world is our oyster (or our vineyard).

deepcreeksign

One such vineyard is Deep Creek Cellars.  You know in all my time on this Earth, I’ve never been to Deep Creek itself.  Maybe I drove past it once or twice, but never have actually hung out or spent a weekend there.  Dating back to high school up to the present, different groups of friends go all the time.  I’ve never had the opportunity.  More on that later.

deepcreekboard

It wasn’t until reading about the winery itself, that they are not your traditional wine provider.  They’re a purveyor of ‘natural wine’, and are environmentally conscious without it impeding on the tradition of enjoying wine with a delicious meal.

So it makes it harder to find the negatives on the wine, but our tastes are all different.

Like many other wineries at the festival, they brought a condensed version of the winery on the road.   Which likely meant sweet and approachable wines that most attendees would be likely to buy.

deepcreeksheet

Of the four, I only had two, the 2014 Great Crossings and the 2013 Watershed. The 2014 Watershed and 2014 Pinot Noir were an extra $1 and with me usually not carrying cash, I chose to pass.  In hindsight, I wish I brought singles or stopped at an ATM.   That just means a visit is on the horizon, to try the rest.  A visit is meant to happen anyways.

The ’14 Great Crossings was the one I preferred over the two. The blend of Vidal Blanc and Pinot Gris was light and easy to drink.  I didn’t taste any almond.  I wasn’t trying too hard to find it but it never came to me.  Well maybe I did.  I don’t know.  And citrus flavors are usually a standard in these blends.  This wasn’t a wine I would actively seek, but it’s a perfect everyday wine.  I sense they left the best stuff at the vineyard.

deepcreekred

The ’13 Watershed with its Black Cherry and Cab Blend doesn’t work for me.  However, I noticed this was a big seller.  As most folks attending this event love their sweet wine, this fits many of those boxes you’re looking to check.  This was just a bit too sweet for my palate.

deepcreekred2

As was the case throughout the day, the gentleman volunteering was easy to talk to and had plenty of knowledge of what he was pouring.  It’s not required but always a bonus.

Big picture wise, I must visit Deep Creek Cellars and Deep Creek itself.  There’s a lot of wines on their list I want to try, including many more of the grapes I prefer.

Contacting them is easy.  I’m liking these guys more and more.  They keep their social media presence limited, which is part of the mentality.  I appreciate that.

I see a road trip this fall or winter.  Who’s in?

Hey look, they got honey too!

Yay!

Ideen