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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wine of the Week: 2010 Big Basin Vineyards, Alfaro Family Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains

“If we sip the wine, we find dreams coming upon us out of the imminent night”  D.H. Lawrence

Mr. Lawrence may say sip, but honestly I prefer to slurp. With that awful picture planted firmly in your mind, good [late] afternoon to you all, and welcome to my Wine of the Week. I discovered this gem last night during #WineChat, where there was a grape discussion about the fantastic 'juice' being poured in tasting rooms all over the Santa Cruz Mountains. If you've not been to the area before, may I highly suggest you do so soon. 

I swooned [no not kidding] with delight over the three different selections of Pinot Noir, being poured, tasted and discussed last night via #winechat. That's not something I usually do either, typically I'll find at least one wine in a tasting like that to make me wanna 'crinkle' my nose and sigh. But these wines wouldn't allow me to have any of that last night, instead my palate was doing the happy dance.

Sad to say and hard to admit, but this was my first experience with this amazing example of Santa Cruz Mountain AVA Pinot Noir, it was a sheer pleasure. The nose straight from the bottle was complex yet very inviting perfume, cranberry, brown sugar, wet-earth and loads of baking spices. After the first pour a bright colored core of strawberry and red raspberry invite the first sip. Diving into the glass, inviting aromas of baking spices, a slap of of new summer cherries, wild cranberries and sandalwood. 
"The steep hillsides, cooling ocean breezes and fog, and mountain soils promote the development of color and complex flavors." Bradley Brown
On the palate a truckload of finesse coupled together with opulent fruit, which hangs nicely on a canvas of firm acid and delicate tannins [texture baby]. This wine is sleek and elegant showcasing a mix of dried cherry, strawberry jam fused with a touch of spice and toasty oak nuances, leading to a sumptuous, long lasting finish. I cooked up a little wild-caught sockeye salmon action, with my special recipe and some other tasty fixin's [which you see below]. Then Mrs. Cuvee and I were off to the pool don't you know, we were "Swimming in Pinot Pairing Paradise" [the title for my new book].  
We believe in and employ sustainable and organic farming practices." Bradley Brown
This is the type of quality juice that has me wanting to oddly jump inside the bottle to slurp up the remainder and I do that via what I call bottle tipping. What is that you ask, oh that's simple that's just me laying the [nearly empty] bottle on its side which causes it to pool, so I may get those last few precious drops into my glass. Oh by the way, it paired oh-so marvelously with our Salmon-Bake. To say this wine was good would be a vast understatement, because it did in fact "wow" my socks off


They [the winemaking team] at Big Basin, go through a lot of effort to make their wines stand out and stand out they do, at least speaking for what must be one of their flagship and/or signatures Pinot Noir selections. It is an allocated wine [lucky wine club members only] and is very also a super-small production, just 22 cases or 6 barrels produced. I scored this wine 93 points and highly recommend you give it a swirl!

Hopefully there still a few spots open on their allocation list, if not there's always the waiting list, I wish you good luck. Personally, I think it's worth the effort. Okay folks that's all I've got for today, until next time remember to sip long and prosper cheers!

Full Disclosure: The wine in today's review was sent as a sample.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bordeaux Uncorked: An Evening with Chateau Thieuley

"Let’s just stipulate that in the hierarchy of pleasures, people come first. Now that we agree on that, good food and drink can help make any party better." -- Eric Asimov

Welcome to Monday, I trust everyone had a wine-tastic weekend. Because I know I did, in fact I had a relaxing evening hanging out with Mrs. Cuvee's [work] colleagues, residents new and former. I was tasked with bringing a couple bottles to share for the evenings festivities. Sadly even after the delightful sound of the cork being "popped" few had any interest in the vino, mostly due in part [I suspect] to their lack of familiarity with Bordeaux, someone even asked [surprisingly] "what is Bordeaux?".

But that question made for a unique springboard opportunity to dive into a conversation about what Bordeaux is and the many types and styles of wine it has to offer the average vino-sapien. Any chance for me to blather on and on endlessly [or so it seemed] about the virtues of wine exploration and the uniqueness of Bordeaux would be an opportunity I would relish. Mrs. Cuvee was even a bit surprised by my more than talkative nature that evening. But I told her, it was simply what happens when the right button is pushed. 

The appetizer of choice for me? No it was not the salsa and chips [as there wasn't a cerveza in sight] no instead a simple hummus and the rather delightful sea-salted pita-chips which they offer by the pallet. Some fresh fruit added a bit of a foil to the chick-pea delight, while the wine sang a capella in the background, a delightful summer evening pairing to say the least. Even after the smoked wild-caught salmon joined the dining festivities, the wine still held its ground nicely. 

A Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend often referred to as a White Bordeaux, was not a stunning wine. It was not one that would make anyone think "oh-wow what is this", but it is a wine I'd buy again and recommend. It's great to have wines like this in the cellar, ready to go at a moments notice. It really makes for an ideal way to dress up a lazy summer evening, with friends, family or even the occasional co-worker get togethers. This wine sells most places for about $15, I gave it a score of 87 points. 

It has real soul and substance to it; a nice blaze of acid pinning the [fruit driven] Semillon to the mat and vibrant minerality to keep things interesting. In my mind it was the perfect wine [apple/pear lemon butter] for the occasion, simple, light and most of all refreshing. Each, sip and slurp had me thinking about what it must be like to sit on a porch/veranda in Bordeaux, relaxing with friends and family, and perhaps watching the sunset over the vineyards. 

If you'd like to know more them and the other wines they offer, they have a fun and inviting website that you should check out. A winery which boasts of modern sophistication, but one that has not forgotten the path of tradition that has got them where they're today. Until next time folks remember life is short, so sip long and prosper cheers!  

[Full Disclosure: The wine appearing in this review was a sample]

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