Just the Bottle

One woman's adventure in beer, food, wine and spirits

Filtering by Tag: wine tasting

Live a little more!

During the Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa last year, there were two post conference excursions to choose from - Napa and Livermore. Both seemed like great options, but Livermore intrigued me. I didn't know much about the area, the wine, or the history. I went with Livermore and returned to DC with love for a new part of California.

As we departed Santa Rosa on a gloomy day after our conference concluded, we were greeted by an amazing team from Livermore Valley who along with serving us sparkling wine promised us sunshine, wine and a non pretentious, but informative wine trip. As we drove past Oakland and San Francisco, the clouds gradually melted away.

We entered a world that is growing in reputation as a place to visit for so many things like wine, food and even ice cream.  Every winery we visited had great value wines along with a unique story or passion that drove the owners or winemakers. One winemaker I met, shared how he was previously in construction and kept getting laid off from jobs or the pay would be sporadic. This spurred him to pursue a degree in oenology, and follow his dream. Another winery owner shared how she had been a pilot with an airline that went under. She decided she would rather be closer to her family and be in control of her own destiny.

These stories of work and determination led to a very genuine and thoughtful experience. Even though this was my first trip to California, I felt as if I were visiting home. Every person greeted me or treated me as more of a family guest as opposed to a tourist. 

If you are planning a California adventure especially one with wine, I would strongly urge you to visit Livermore Valley area. The wines and people have a story to share and it's one worth getting to know.

Flying Fox Vineyard

My special fella and I decided to take a short trip over Labor Day Weekend. Usually I avoid travel on holiday weekends as it's expensive and stressful. However, we were lucky with a pretty pleasant drive to and from the Staunton, Virginia area. We also lucked out as I found a Howard Johnson Express for about $60 a night. It was cheap enough and was walking distance of restaurants in the downtown area. The dream would be to stay in a quaint bed and breakfast or a 5 star hotel, but you know....that costs money. Hojo Express didn't let us down except for some really weak wifi.

One of our first stops on our winery day of fun was Flying Fox Vineyard. I briefly stopped by the winery years ago and am glad I finally made it back. They are located in Afton close to some other cool wineries such as Veritas as well as distilleries and breweries. Their grapes are grown at Flying Fox Vineyard (mostly their reds such as Cab Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot) in Monticello AVA and Ridge Run Vineyard (mostly their whites such as Viognier and Pinot Gris) in Shenandoah AVA. 

Their tasting room is really welcoming albeit very small. We arrived early and were able to hang out some after our tasting. There was seating outside that would have been amazing if the weather was cooperating. I definitely want to return on a snowy day to sit by that fire place.

We bought several bottles of their wine and enjoyed a 2014 Merlot to start off our wine tasting filled day. It can be enjoyed now or allowed to age. It had some dark cocoa characteristics and raisin or plum. 

What was pretty exciting was their launch of the vermouth! We found out that day was the first day people could sample or buy the vermouth (well fancy wine club members had access earlier, but I'm not a VIP I just play one on tv). The vermouth is basically all Virginia made except for the wormwood. The vermouth was really intriguing with the spring being incredibly fruity with strawberry notes. We both enjoyed the summer edition and discussed cocktail pairings. I can't wait to see what they do with the winter vermouth.

Interestingly enough during our visit we heard that they may also be experimenting with orange or amber wines. Chances are it will be made with the Pinot Gris.

Flying Fox Vineyard states on their website that they are Nelson County's Best Kept Secret. I truly don't know how this can still be the case, but I imagine with their vermouth and tasty wines, they won't be for long.

Natural Wine Tasting

I recently learned of a group in the DC area, Pineapple DC, designed to connect industry and lovers of food in a fun and frank environment around wine, food and spirits. After learning more about the group, I signed up for one of their upcoming events, #Pineforwine.

At this second version of #Pineforwine, the conversation was focused on natural wines. Remy Samuels who is a manager at Cordial Wine & Spirits located in Union Market led the discussion. Remy studied French and Italian in undergrad and traveled abroad. She began to wonder what career would truly make sense for her. After visiting a winery, she knew what she wanted to do. She's insanely knowledgeable about natural wine. Natural wine has been a supposed trend for wine geeks for quite, but it's not quite entirely clear what it means. There are no legal definitions of what makes a natural wine.

As Remy explained and from what I have read and heard from others, true natural wine is allowing the wine to really tell the story where it comes from. Wine should be part history and culture and exhibit a time and place. After a brief introduction, we sampled three of the several natural wines that Cordial carries.

Kloof Street Chenin Blanc (retails at Cordial $19.99) - This wine is created by a husband and wife team. The wife is originally from California and the couple met in France. Their wines are sustainable and biodynamic. The wine was really accessible and lighter in body than I anticipated. I found it a fun sipping wine with tropical fruit notes.

Red Tail Ridge Miscreant Finger Lakes 2015 (retails at Cordial $27.99) - We have another rockstar husband and wife duo running the show here. Nancy serves as winemaker and Mike as winegrower. The wine is 50% Chardonnay and 50% Gewurztraminer. The wine is considered orange or amber as it is fermented on the skins giving it a more golden hue. The wine is unfiltered meaning no animal products were used. This wine grew on me considerably as I enjoyed it. I do love my orange wines, but fragrant varietals can over power me. As I sipped the wine evolved and the rose petal and floral elements became less pronounced and I was able to detect more nutty and savory elements. I think I would have enjoyed it further with the right food pairing.

Domaine De Clovallon Pinot Noir Pays d'Oc 2015 (retails at Cordial $22.99) - This is our first mother and daughter team in the mix! They were founded in 1989 in the south of France. They are in it to win it with their natural wines and only farm biodynamically. The wine has what you would expect from a tasty natural wine. It was funky to nose with some slight effervescence. It was juicy with some dark fruit notes that came through. 

I am still learning more about natural wine and enjoying the many opportunities to taste wine and meet others. It's a journey, but it's definitely a tasty journey.

Any recommendations on natural wines or female winemakers or winery owners? List your comments below!