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  Wine Country day 3 . . .

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Author Topic:   Wine Country day 3 . . .
posted 11-17-2010 04:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Well Hawkeye, winter IS upon us and what else would you do with those short days and cold nights?
Besides, all those great hearty meals will need to be accompanied with appropriate beverage, right?
Those shipping fees will drain you in a hurry won't they? Yikes. We had started collecting as we went along and just sealed the box when it got full. Then we dropped them at Fed Ex in San Fran on the way to the airport. Even with buying the shipping boxes and the tape we saved nearly $100 over having the wineries ship our purchases individually.
Now Alaska Airlines has a direct flight to Santa Rosa from here, so we get to bring back "one box" of wine per ticket for no charge. THAT is a nice perk. Plus the fact that we can start our adventure over an hour sooner since we land right in the middle of Sonoma County. There aren't as many flights choices of course, but that suits us just fine.


posted 11-17-2010 01:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
We received 10 boxes from our recent trip. Is that overindulgence or what? I think 7 came FedEx, and 3 UPS. I much prefer FedEx over UPS here because they go out of their way to make you happy. UPS just brings the box, drops it, gets the sig, and moves on. I think FedEx has a better delivery time anyway. Before you start thinking ten 12 bottle cases, don't. Some only had 3 or 4 bottles.

It is a good thing that we are headed into winter, because all of it will not fit in my 300 bottle cooler. Woe is me!


posted 11-16-2010 06:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Uncorked, that is funny. We got a delivery today, one of several days, and he said- is this the last one?!


Junior Member
posted 11-16-2010 01:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Uncorked   Click Here to Email Uncorked     Edit/Delete Message
Cabgirl, loved your notes. Williamson will definitely be a stop for us next Oct.

Yesilovewine---I have to laugh about the UPS guy---we are in a couple of wine clubs and the same guy always delivers them. He always has to ask if I've been drinking. Which is amazing to me---so what if I have---I'm in my own home, not out on the streets and getting wine I've already bought.....oh well--he always laughs when he asks....


posted 11-07-2010 08:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Okay, boys and girls, I told you that Cabgirl was well versed in wine and now you know. Her notes on the Williamson visit were amazing. I don't know how she had time to get all that written down. I get too caught up in the tasting and forget to take notes. Cabgirl can tell you why she likes a wine and why she doesn't. Most of the time I can just tell that I like a wine.

Thanks, Cabgirl, we enjoyed your company, meeting your mother, and hope that we can do it again in the near future.

P.S. What has happened to Bigsemi?

[This message has been edited by Hawkeye (edited 11-07-2010).]


posted 11-05-2010 03:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Cabgirl, thanks so much for the great notes. The Malbec has rung my bell and now Williamson will be a must for the next trip.
I was intrigued by the idea of a peppery Merlot- that is usually a Zin note for me. We have a bottle of their Merlot on the rack ( how any Williamson stayed this long I don't have a clue!!)and I'll have to check that out.
Thanks again.

[This message has been edited by yesilovewine (edited 11-05-2010).]


posted 11-05-2010 03:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for damombo   Click Here to Email damombo     Edit/Delete Message
Cabgirl - that is a terrific set of notes! I'm going to try to be better organized and take detailed notes this trip. It will just be my husband and me this time, so hopefully we will be more focused.


posted 11-05-2010 01:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cabgirl     Edit/Delete Message
My Mom and I had a FABULOUS time tasting with Hawkeye and his crew. I had never gone tasting in Healdsburg, so it was quite the treat. Hawkeye's descriptions of the wineries and their wines is pretty spot on. When I go tasting again, I will definitely go to some of the wineries again as they are now "favorites" on my list. Thanks for the introduction! I took extremely detailed notes at Williamson Wines, so figured I'd share with everyone

Williamson Wines - LOVED, LOVED, LOVED
I still can't get over how the wine/food pairing is completely Free. But, our entire group ended up buying several bottles of wine. Be a great lesson for some other wineries in Napa Valley to learn! In any event, my notes on Williamson Wines are as follows:

Sauvignon Blanc - Joy - 08
Very citrus and acidic. The pairing of Irish cheddar topped with a sprinkling of cumin, caraway, corriander, sesame seed, almond, pistachio, walnut was the real standout here. Everyone in the group was quite intrigued. Paired with the wine, the taste smooths out just a little bit.

Amourette Chardonnay - 09
Wonderful nose, crisp, acidic and reminded me of a sweet flower bouquet on a spring day after a fresh rain. This wine was paired with apricot stilton cheese. Didn't do much for me paired with the wine. I liked it much more on it's own.

Amour Merlot - 05
Single vineyard; Bordeaux style. The bouquet was extremely peppery and spicy. The taste very fruity, a little dry in the finish. To me fell a little flat. Paired with milk chocolate brownie. You can taste the cocoa in your mouth after eating, and drinking the wine. Interesting.

Passion Pinot Noir - 08
This was listed as "sold out" on the tasting list. But they managed to find us some in the back. I am glad they did! I swirled the wine several times and smelled something different each time. On first swirl it was like a burnt caramel (I love caramel so this was perfectly fine with me) On second swirl, I smelled syrup and black peppers. Ahh...and finally to taste. Extremely good. Then they paired it with Irish Cheddar sprinkled with truffle salt - DELICIOUS.

Clarissa Vin Rouge - 06
1/2 Merlot, 1/2 Cab. Tasting was smooth. The wine coats your palatte. It was paired with an olive atop Irish cheddar. For some reason I don't have many notes on this, just that I really liked it alot. Guess I was busy enjoying the wine.

Seduce Cabernet Sauvignon - 06
100% Cab. Seemed like a "light cab" in my opinion. It was okay as a standalone, but extremely better with food. In this case that was blue cheese stilton topped with pecan and honey.

Entice Cuvee - 05
A blend of all the grapes used to make a Bordeaux wine. This wine had a heavy feel in the mouth. I like it, but then I didn't. It tasted different. So the jury is out on this one, at least for me. They paired this wine with an Italian cheese and saffron & pepper

Tango Malbec - 06
Ooohhh. Really liked this one. So many flavors I picked out - Pepper, salt, spicy, black licorice. It was smooth, bold, and heavy all at once when you first tasted. Though it had a short finish. Paired with smoked gouda & toasted cumin seeds.

Meritage Allure - 06
Soft blend. Sweet and very fruit forward. Paired with parmesan. Our host explained that the wine extracts the salt in front of the mouth and making it creamy in the back of the mouth. I can't remember if it did all that. I just remember liking the wine.

Heritage Shiraz 2007
Rhone Reds? Apparently pairs well with condiments, so we were told. Thus we were given a piece of cheddar topped with a drop of smoky onion mustard. I felt it paired well, but didn't list it as a favorite or one to buy.

Last but not least...They let us try something special. Their sparkling wine. It's 40% Pinot Noir, 60% Chardonnay. I'm not a huge sparkling wine fan, but wow...I fell in love with this one. It had the perfect balance of acidity, apple floral scents, and a nice compliment of sweet and dry. Quite nice.

Well that's it...hope folks enjoy the detailed notes!


posted 11-01-2010 09:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Damambo, the first week of October should be a "Must" for anyone who really wants to get a good "crack" at tasting Sonoma county wines.Make lodging reservations early if you can- the rates go up considerably once you get about 3 months out. *NOTE*!!!- IF the format is the same next year ( it has changed each year the last 2), I highly recommend that you make the effort to attend on Friday- all sessions if you can stand it. It makes for a long day, but the crowds are so much smaller and the pourers are much less frazzled. Not all the wineries follow the rules of supply, but most anything that wins a Best of class or Gold medal should be available. We usually run over upon arrival to town for session 1, go check in and grab lunch and a nap before heading back for session 2 and then hang out in the fairgrounds between sessions 2 and 3 ( 3 is really the art show and tasting). We tasted from 34 wineries this last time and never had to move the car !!
Hawkeye, I am so glad you know about the Visa Signature program- it is a great benefit. We saved nearly $200 in tasting fees and wine discounts in October. Are you familiar with the "Ticket to the Wine Road" program?? Because you do so many private tastings, you would really get a lot of bang for your buck, I think.
We have joined several wine clubs in the last couple of years just because we can't get the wines here, and now I am certain our UPS guy thinks we are lushes...we had 3 deliveries in one week and he was really looking concerned by the last one. Guess I shouldn't tell him we still have 2 more to come! :0


posted 11-01-2010 06:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for damombo   Click Here to Email damombo     Edit/Delete Message
Well I hope that those tasting rooms aren't so crowded that we can't taste - I was thinking that maybe mid-week they won't be, but then I realized that we would be there on a Saturday... oh well. But since it's the Saturday before the Thanksgiving vacations and so forth, maybe everyone will stay at home! I can always hope

Yes, adult signatures required - I learned my lesson with the FedEx delivery guy. He looked me dead in the eye and asked me if I was over 21, and smarty pants me said Of course NOT. (and batted my eyelashes I fear) He then said, Ma'am, I now have to see your driver's license to verify that you are indeed over 21. I kid you not - I had to get my license so that he could see that I was a loooong way from 21!! I was amused and annoyed all at the same time!

Yesilovewine - I'm laying the groundwork at home, gettin' the idea out there, that a trip the first week of October next year would be a great idea - never too early to plant the seed!


posted 11-01-2010 05:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
I should have added that many wineries in the Healdsburg/Sonoma area will waive the tasting fee if you carry the Visa Signature card. I got one just for this reason, don't use it for anything else. There is a fee, but over the years, you save a heck of a lot of money on tasting fees. Plus, some wineries give a discount on purchases. I do not have any Visa stock, nor did I receive any re numeration for this commercial.


posted 11-01-2010 05:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Damombo,

Funny you ask. Just had a call from UPS a little while ago that they will try to deliver a shipment tomorrow that needs an adult signature. I always ask them if I can pass for an adult but they don't think I am funny. UPS will only give you a delivery window from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Guess they don't think I have anything else to do but wait on them. I guess maybe they are right!!! Can't wait for the fun to begin. Then I get my Visa statement!!!


posted 11-01-2010 04:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks for the nice report, Hawkeye.
I'm so glad that you got to Passalaqua and were able to get some of the Maple Zin. They will not be getting any more of the Maple vineyards grapes, so once its gone, its gone.
Do plan to hit Dutcher Crossing next visit to get some of THEIR Maple Zin, its exceptional. Armida will also be getting the Maple grapes; they have been chosen to sell off the last of the wine that the Maples produced themselves so put them on the list to see how you like both those takes on those grapes.
Wilson is always a treat, I agree. But they are getting to be so busy that it about takes an act of Congress to get a spot at the bar. I hope they finish their renovating soon and will have a special room for club members.
Also agree about Mauritson- we had to skip them last visit because of how crowded they were. LOVE their zins, and the Rockpile appelation in particular ( but we like ANYTHING produced with Rockpile grapes, it seems).
We really need to go to the Williamson tasting room; we have had their wine at the Harvest Fair a couple times and really like it a lot. I understand that they do one of the best tastings around.
Thanks again for the great report.


posted 11-01-2010 04:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for damombo   Click Here to Email damombo     Edit/Delete Message
Well, thanks to everything all of y'all have been saying about Mauritson, Williamson, Passalaqua and Wilson, we will most definitely plan to go there.
I'm going to put pen to paper tomorrow to start plotting things out - and hit google maps as well to make a sensible route.
When do your shipments begin to arrive?

[This message has been edited by damombo (edited 11-01-2010).]


posted 11-01-2010 03:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Day 3, Saturday, October 23 - The day began on a very special high note! I had been corresponding with Cabgirl for a month or so about joining us for a tasting. She and her mother met us in Calistoga for our tasting in the Healdsburg area. I think Cabgirl probably knows more about wine that all of us together.

We had a nice visit as we headed over the two mountains to Healdsburg. On the way we ran into construction twice, both one way bridges, and both about a 15 minute wait.

We arrived at Duex Amis at our appointed time of 10:00 AM. There were now 10 of us in the group. The two owners, Phyllis Zouzounis and Jim Penpraze greeted us. This is one of those charming small wineries where we tasted in the winery barn. The tasting bar is a plank held up by two wine barrels. I had tasted there about a year ago and thought their Zin and Pino were pretty good. This time, I did not have the same experience. Their wines just did not have enough body for me.

Our next stop at 11:00 AM, was another jewel of a find, the Williamson Winery tasting room in downtown Healdsburg. We were escorted into a private tasting room where we were met by the tasting room manager, Christer Alli, a very charming 21 year old who was very knowledgeable about the wines and the wine making process. He alone made the trip worthwhile. But wait! We haven’t even gotten to the wines yet. What is surprising, there is no tasting fee at Williamson and they even throw in a food pairing with each wine. We started with their Sparkling Fizz Chardonnay which was just about to die for. I am not a sparkling wine fan, but this one was crisp with citrus and not to sweet, just right. At just about this point, Bill Williamson, the owner, joined our group. Bill was originally from Australia and we had fun with his accent. This made the visit that much more special. I thought their Amour Merlot lived up to its name and was quite alluring. I don’t know how many wines we tasted, but there were many and thought most of them worthwhile. But, in addition to the Sparkling Chardonnay, we shipped home the ‘05 Entice Cuvee, a blend of Cab Franc, Cab Savignon and a couple others. The third wine we shipped home was the ‘06 Malbec which I thought was tasting real well. I had a hard time not ordering the Seduce Cab which I thought exceptional, along with the ‘08 Passion Pinot which was outstanding. But, only so many spaces in the cellar. We all tried to get Bill to open a bottle of their ‘05 Soverign Cab, but at $495.00 per bottle, we did not succeed. Needless to say, in my opinion, Williamson Winery is a MUST visit.

We spent so much time at Williamson, we had to cancel our appointment at Rued. I was sorry to do this, because these are wines that I have not tasted before. There is always another time.

Our next stop was at Mauritson Winery on Dry Creek Road. Mauritson has been one of my favorites because of their Zins. This trip was no exception. Their ‘09 Dry Creek Valley Zin was very appealing with lots of fruit and a long finish. At $27.00 per bottle, I would consider it a best buy. I thought their ‘08 Charlie Clay Russian River Pinot was also very good. I was very disappointed that we did not get to taste most of the Rockpile Vineyard Zins, which I consider their best. The one we did taste, the ‘08 Rockpile Cemetary Zin was exceptional. Most wineries have a private room for their wine club members, but Mauritson seems to be the exception. Their tasting room is always so busy that it would be nice to have a separate place to taste.

Passalacqua Winery was the next on our list. I remember tasting here probably 5 or six year ago. I have misplaced my notes on this winery somewhere. One I do remember, however, was the Maple Vineyard Zin, which I thought tasted well. Although I did not purchase any, we were gifted a bottle. Thanks and you know who you are.

The last unofficial stop was at Wilson Winery. We have tasted here for several years and they always have some outstanding Zins. We let the group go in and we stayed in the car because of the size of the group. Wilson always has award winning Zins.

The group had reservations for dinner at borolo Grill and Bar in Calistoga. Their spaghetti and meat balls are excellent. Again, good food around the table but lousy service.


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