Just the Bottle

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

Visiting Tarara Winery

I recently accompanied Alison who writes and owns her own wine consulting company, Bon Vivant, to Tarara Winery.  Along the way, we stopped in Leesburg, Virginia for a bite to eat.  Unfortunately, Wine Kitchen was closed.  We ate in the secret garden at Shoe's.  It was a family friendly environment with bocce and cold beer.

After our brief meal we headed to Tarara Winery.  The facility is astounding.  We arrived and quickly were lost.  Note, do not follow another car assuming they know where they are going.  We turned around and found parking.  As we entered the tasting room, we were immediately greeted by friendly staff.  Our group was also provided with sparkling wine to start and taken to our guided tasting area.


The story of Tarara begins 25 years ago when Whitie and Margaret Hubert launched their dream - a winery showcasing the best of Virginia wine.  The estate consists of 475 acres.  Their main vineyards are Nevaeh, Tranquility (located in Purcellville), and Honah Lee (located in Orange).  Side note, we all know Nevaeh is heaven backwards, right?  Apparently, it's now one of the most popular baby names. 

Tarara under Jordan Harris' direction follows the belief that the land and wine should speak for itself.  They do not use fining agents and many of the wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts. 

We enjoyed five flights of twenty-one wines that included wine from Boneyard and Killer Cluster.  This is a pro-tip from me to you, a guided tasting of this size requires spitting and avoiding palate fatigue.  It's not an easy job, but someone has to do it.

Photo courtesy of Alison Marriott, Owner and Founder, Bon Vivant DC.

Photo courtesy of Alison Marriott, Owner and Founder, Bon Vivant DC.

The first flight focused on wine from Nevaeh that featured Chardonnay.  All of the wines used oak not to cover or mask the wine, but to add value.  Oak when used judiciously adds depth and personality to Chardonnay.  My favorite was the 1997 Chardonnay.  I love to see how a Chardonnay evolves and develops a more funky flavor.

The second flight focused on Cabernet Franc.  Cabernet Franc is very common in Virginia wineries, but finding it well is a different story.  Every vintage told a different story.  The 2012 had mint and floral notes.  The 2010 experienced a very hot and dry season.  The 2010 is HUGE, big, and wanting to be drank with a steak.  It had an amazing velvety texture.  The 2007 had more restrained wine making practices and led to a balanced wine.  The 1997 was incredibly delicate and showed some blackberry.

Photo courtesy of Alison Marriott, Owner and Founder, Bon Vivant DC.

Photo courtesy of Alison Marriott, Owner and Founder, Bon Vivant DC.

The third flight contained one of my favorite wines the Nevaeh Red 2010 . It was spicy with some dark berry notes.  The Tranquility Red 2010 showed great complexity with a lengthy finish.  The CasaNoVA 2010 can easily change people's minds who still believe Merlot is bad.  This is an example, of Merlot done well with the silky palate that you want.  The Meritage 2007 had a long finish with dark fruit and smoky elements.  We finished with a Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 that again was interesting to see how the wine evolved. 

The fourth flight contained wines from Boneyard.  Boneyard offers grapes sourced from Monticello AVA.  Jordan is experimenting with orange or amber wines by using Rkatsiteli, a varietal usually found in Georgia, and leaving the wine for an extended maceration with skin contact.  I'm excited to see how he continues to play with this wine and make it uniquely Virginian.

The final flight contained wine from Killer Cluster that is sourced from Columbia Valley AVA.  Two of my favorite Rhone varietals were included - Marsanne and Roussanne.  The Marsanne was my favorite.  It is incredibly aromatic with nutty elements and a fuller body. 

After we finished the guided tasting, we proceeded to the private tasting area for dinner and more wine.  This was the time to begin to actually consume the wine. 

After we finished eating, the group went to the outdoor concert.  It was a laser light show!  The show was fantastic with an amazing turn out.  I have already made plans to go back.

Orange you glad I didn't say banana

My birthday was January 13th and I decided to celebrate all month long.  On New Year’s Eve Man Friend and I went to Professionals in the City New Year’s Party.  I didn’t want to go, but one can’t really say, “Oh, you want to see someone that you were stationed in Texas with and served in Iraq with?  No. I don’t want to even though s/he lives in a different state.” Before the party we went to Red Hen and it was spectacular.  The service was amazing and the dishes were well executed. They also featured orange wine by the glass.

I arranged for Man Friend to take me to Komi for dinner another night and then a play at Studio Theatre.  Komi paced the meal perfectly.  It didn’t feel like two hours and we made the play in plenty of time.  Every dish offered a new set of flavor and texture.  I went with the pairing, which might not have been appreciated by others. However, I do what I want.  Anyways, one pairing was this really interesting Italian beer that had a nice funk.  I mentioned my interest in orange wine and they offered it along with a red so that I could compare.

Two other birthday celebrations included renting the private room at Black Squirrel and a Sunday Funday that involved bottomless brunch at Masa 14.  There was no fee to rent the room at Black Squirrel even though it was a Saturday night in Adams Morgan.  Masa 14 was a solid brunch that should be on one’s DC bucket list.

Back to the orange wine!  I have talked to some who believe that orange wine is a trend that has come and gone.  Others think it’s a current trend.  I am not sure what the average wine drinker will think, but I have found the few I have tried thus far to be very interesting and food friendly.

Orange wine is made up of white wine varietals that have extended skin contact during fermentation.  The color can be incredibly light to a more tawny like color.

Here’s the interesting part that I wonder if it will appear to beer followers…orange wines can be VERY sour and funky.  I tried another that came off as oxidized I expected sherry like flavors that did not appear.

Orange wine more commonly appears in Italy and Eastern Europe like Georgia and Slovenia.

I look forward to experimenting with them more.  Perhaps doing a tasting with some other wine friends?

Champagne Tasting

Bell Wine & Spirits’ annual Grand Champagne tasting is Wednesday, December 11th 5:00pm - 8:00pm. They will be pouring 30+ Champagnes and sparkling wines, with highly rated Krug, Ruinart, Dom Perignon and more!

Tickets are available here for $25.  Is that too much?  Want a discount?  Well, maybe I can help you out.  Use the promo code justthebottle and get your ticket for $10.

If you end up buying any of the wines tasted - not only will they be on sale, but you’ll get your money back from your ticket.

Bottlenotes, Rum, More Rum, Fun and Rooftop!



Last week I joined my fellow #tasteagents and other guests at the Bottlenotes Taste Around Town launch party at Veritas. It was a great time with new friends like Vine Me Up and old friends who always get me into trouble (or I get them into trouble…whatever). We sampled wines from Chateau Montelena, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, and the Rhône Valley region of France. I apparently got in trouble as I thought there would be a white Rhône available as I was really feeling a Marsanne. The staff at Veritas always maintain that great balance of high quality, but friendly nature. I spoke with Jamie (GM/Sommelier) and he let me taste this amazing Washington State Marsanne. I need to go back to finish that bottle. After I drank that and was asked by the Bottlenotes staff “why are you here if you don’t like the wines” I began my tasting journey. (Side note - yes that is how she welcomed me to the event).

The wines were average. I was hoping considering the many affordable and well done Rhône Valley wines that are available there would be more options. Alas, there was only one, which I think was the best out of both Chateau Montelena and Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Chateau Montelena wines were their more mid level wines such as a classic California chardonnay with more oak integration and balance.

Rum, More Rum

Friday I decided to paint the town red with a couple friends including the Amazing @BEXwithanX. We started off at Hogo for our own tiki party. We each had an amazing rum based cocktail and then moved onto the rum punch. THERE WAS A FIRE ELEMENT. We spoke with the manager there who then offered us shots of barrel aged Atlantico rum. We sipped on it and loved the the vanilla notes and spice added by the barrel aging. The fun continued at Busboys and Poets (always go for the nachos there especially while tipsy/drunk), Irish Channel (where I may have told off guests who were rude to staff) and finally Del Campo. Del Campo has a wonderfully put together drink menu that was designed by the amazing JP Caceres. I loved both pisco drinks. I ran into Taha (all around rockstar) and Chef Isabella. In my infinite wisdom at the time Idecided to buy us all a round of Willet potstill (which really is quite tasty). Chef Isabella turned his down so I did it and then I said things in Miami Spanglish that made me realize that I should probably go home.

Rooftop Pool

Twilight Tuesday hosted by Timur and John Michael held a special Tuesday edition at Penthouse Pool Club for Pride. Normally, Penthouse Pool has a wait list and is more than I can afford unless I sold some valuable organs. But as part of Twilight Tuesday all were welcomed to come and lounge by the pool. We decided to be super fancy and rent a cabana. The only requirement to rent a cabana was spend $100 minimum on food or beverage (with approximately 6-8 people fitting in a cabana). Umm…done and DONE. We popped open a few bottles of sparkling including Gruet Rose.

At some point a few of us were in the pool and decided to play chicken.

Tonight I am super excited for my glorious return to Gin Joint!  Not only will there be amazing gin, food, service BUT Caledonia Spirits will be there offering samples and discussing their spirits.

Tasty Tastings

It’s that time of year where there are more tastings than hours in the day. Last week, I visited Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits for a media preview beer tasting.

The staff at Cordial are very knowledgeable and have put together an amazing selection of affordable (mostly under $20) wine and beer. We sampled-

21st Amendment brews:
    Brew Free or Die IPA 6 pack cans ABV 7.0%
    Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer 6 packs cans ABV 4.9%

Elysian brews:
    Avatar Jasmine IPA 22oz ABV 6.3%
    Superfuzz Blood Orange Pale Ale 6 pack ABV 5.4%

No-Li Brewhouse brews:
    Crystal Bitter ESB 22oz ABV 5.75%
    Wrecking Ball Imperial Stout 22oz ABV 9.5%

My favorite beer was the Crystal Bitter. I am a malty mama. It was slightly toasty, biscuit notes and caramel.

I missed the Washington State tasting on Monday, but I hope to attend another one of their DC events. Washington State produces many great wines including Syrah. Syrah continues to grow in popularity from the Washington region.

On an aside, I had a multimedia training with one of our self advocates who is Co-President of Project Action! They advocate for themselves and others with disabilities to live their fullest life possible.


That’s Thelma recording her Public Service Announcement spot.

My nonprofit also won the Non-Profit of the Year at the DC Chamber of Commerce Small Business Awards & Expo! I stopped by to see an amazing mixologist his last day at BLT Steak. I informed him that the award was thirsty and wanted something fancy.

Back to our regularly scheduled tasting summary, there was an amazing gin tasting last week at Birch & Barley. We sampled and learned more about Sacred Gin. The team (which is a husband and wife dynamic duo) produces these artisanal, small batch spirits in their home. What’s that? Yes, they have pictures of it and yes it looks like Breaking Bad. He even uses liquid nitrogen in his kitchen. I mean…his wife must really love him.


My favorite gin was the Orris Gin. It was very aromatic with lilac notes. I could drink it straight.

I decided to have way too much fun that night after the tasting and work where we started at BLT Steak, moved on to Mari Vanna and finished at GBD (I love GBD way too much). I am really digging Mari Vanna, but I think it helps I tend to hit the spot when it’s not busy. When we visited the staff was knowledgeable and polite as always. We tried the horseradish infused vodka martinis and sipped on Basil Hayden’s. There was a gentleman playing the accordion!


I attended with some other awesome people like Organic Mixologist, Girl Meets Glass, French Twist D.C. and representatives from Adventure Wine and Washington Wine Academy the New Wines of Greece tasting at Zaytinya. Zaytinya never fails to deliver delicious food and top notch service. I have organized private events with the amazing staff and could not be more impressed with their professionalism.

I attended the lunch portion only and missed the Greek sparkling wine - I did hear it was delicious. The wine and food were paired perfectly. The first flight contained new varietals I had not seen. We also learned more about the history of Greek wine, flavor profile, winemaker techniques and more.

Unlike the Romans, the Greek wines were not spread around the world. A surprising amount of wine is produced by pre-phylloxera vines.

We tried three wines with the Assyrtiko varietal that each tasted very different. My favorite was the Pavlidis Emphasis 2011 - citrus, floral (but not smacking me in the face like way too many a Torrontes), with a lingering finish.


Look at that nomtastic cheese - none of which was feta. Greece has way too many delicious cheese to try.

The reds included Xinomavro and Agiorgitiko were all interesting examples of their terroir.

We finished with a Muscat and Sigalas Vinsanto 2004 made from Assyrtiko and Aidani. The Sigalas Vinsanto was spectacular. The grapes are sun dried on mats. It was a somewhat rusty, golden color. It had this great acidity with these caramelized fruit notes. I really wish they would have served it with a strong cheese instead of dessert though.

Other than that, I opened the latest vintage of Domaine de La Mordoree Rose, which was a full rose with a round finish. I also drank my Gundlach Bundschu Gewürztraminer 2011 that is incredibly dry and aromatic with lychee notes. Besides the great wine, I have had sooooo many cocktails from the amazing mixologists at Range (Go to Range. Trust me.) including cocktails made with Cynar. There’s been a good amount of beer especially from Granville Moore’s.

I would say I need to take a week or two off, but I don’t see that happening. So…maybe I just need to hydrate, drink less and work out more?

In the immortal words of Pinky and the Brain -


Can't Stop, Won't Stop

After much fun, I have had to reel myself in again. I am trying to find a balance because my wallet and waistline really can’t handle all the insanity. Well that and my migraines. I want to stay away from that kind of pain.

A friend recently joined Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society. He’s already a lawyer, but wanted to be a part of the group. It’s…an interesting thing. Before going to see him in his performance of Trial by Jury I decided that alcohol would be a good idea. I stopped by one of my favorite spots Big Hunt.

The staff at Big Hunt rock my face off. They know their beer, they are funny and interesting people. The bartender who runs the twitter account always suggests the best beers. I enjoyed a summer solstice by Anderson Valley, Peppercorn Saison by 3 Stars Brewery and Nugget Nectar by Troegs. All refreshing beers. Peppercorn was my favorite as I liked the spice. Summer solstice impressed me as I find people usually want to make summer beers either way too light, hoppy or in the hefeweizen tradition for summer beers.

I have started joining #winechat on Twitter. It takes place on Wednesdays from 9:00pm until 10:00pm (ET). This past Wednesday, @girlmeetsglass led the tasting. She came over to my apartment clubroom along with @lisacomento. We tried three great Brazilian wines and learned a great deal about Brazilian winemaking.

We started off the with the sparkling wine. It was very crisp, great apertif. I would recommend it to those looking for something besides Prosecco, but wanting something similar in taste and value.

The Flowers was a great patio or porch wine. It had powerful floral notes, but not as strong as torrontes. I think I detected some pineapple on the nose.

The tannat was one of my favorites. It wasn’t as big and chewy as you sometimes find. However, it was powerful with dark fruit and tobacco along with well integrated tannins. It definitely proves to be a great blending grape as I have seen Virginia wineries blending it as of late.

 Another night last week included adventures on H Street. I had a friend visiting DC and we began with happy hour at Biergarten haus. I stuck with Spaten Oktoberfest as it was on happy hour and Spaten is one of my favorite German brewers. The beer is a nice example of German Oktoberfest style. It had some floral notes, malty with hops more present along with a great body.

Saturday I stopped by Bell to pour their signature Saturday free wine tasting from 12-3. We had a great line up including a Chardonnay, three rosé wines (one of which being the mystery wine), Pinot Noir, Tinta de Toro (Termes) and a Jurançon wine.

The 2011 vintage of the Chardonnay was more balanced and less oaky than the previous vintage. The rosés were enjoyable especially for the price point, but weren’t mind blowing. The Pinot Noir was a great example of an affordable, Oregon pinot with some Earthy notes. The Termes and Jurançon wine were my two favorite wines on the table. The Termes received 91 points from Wine Spectator and the Jurançon wine received 94 points from Wine Spectator.

The wines will be available at Bell through this week at a discounted price. My colleague should be publishing the tasting notes soon on the website and via their e-newsletter.

Oh and this happened. I ran into Luigi and his princess on the S4 Bus as I was headed to Bell. They were going to Awesome Con and I imagine they were a hit.

I ended Saturday night at Quarry House and Piratz Tavern. My co-worker’s band was performing at Quarry House. These guys have been friends and playing together for many years. They occasionally play at Quarry House and other venues without practicing. They were so on point and I am not sure how they did it. My co-worker said that one of the songs he didn’t even know and that he just followed everyone else’s lead. 

Quarry House has a great beer selection at decent prices for the DC area. I mostly stayed with my favorites including Moo Thunder Stout and Spaten Optimator.

As the evening wore on, I went around making friends at Quarry House and then wandered over to Piratz. Somehow I came across a going away party and joined them. 

I am really looking forward to this week as I will be volunteering at Heart’s Delight, stopping by a Wine of Alto Adige tasting, joining #dctweetup and attending House of Walker. I guess at some point I need to sleep and get caught up at work. 

Dining at Table

I convinced man friend that we are in a culinary rut. After which, he proceeded to mock me mercilessly for days about the phrase “culinary rut”. I picked the restaurant Table to get us out of the rut as I have heard great things. 

Saturday came around and I was able to lure him from the apartment. We wandered around Dupont, Logan Circle and U street with stops at Batch 13, Cork Market and Standard. Standard had the donut machine working and I am a little obsessed with their donuts. Batch 13 had a FEW tasting. I was surprised at how much I liked the barrel aged gin. Cork Market had a wine tasting with the winemaker providing an explanation of his wine. 

We eventually made our way over to the restaurant. It’s an amazing space with minimalist design. We were somewhat greeted by the hostess who was very unsure about what to do with us as we were early. They eventually seated us and that’s where things went downhill.

No one came over to offer menus, water or anything for quite some time.  We were finally presented with menus and water and told they had been re-writing the menus as they are hand written.

Eventually, someone who I thought was our server came over. He asked what we wanted to drink. When I stated I would like a first course, he replied, “What else do you want?”. I was kind of taken aback that he decided that we should just order then. 

I ordered the Burgundy snails as my first course. It was good, but not amazing. The server never checked in to make sure the dish was enjoyable or to provide more water.

We waited quite a bit of time for my first course and for our main dishes.

I ordered the veal sweetbreads.

My man friend ordered the chicken. 

The dishes again were good, but not amazing. We were disappointed at that price point and the hype this restaurant had received. However, the service is what really soured our experience.

At one point as we sat with empty water glasses and our empty plates in front of us, one of the hostesses walks over and pours more wine for the couple next to us. She chats them up and then walked away. There was a young man walking around collecting unused small plates for the first course and I asked him to FINALLY take our empty plates. 

The server came over to offer us menus and have us order dessert, but we promptly asked for the bill. 

We walked back to Church Key after the meal where I ordered their amazing ricotta fritters. My dining companion ordered tater tots (he was still hungry) and the banana pudding. I also had some really tasty beers. One of my favorite servers was working and I briefly caught up with him.

I really, really wanted to enjoy Table. I am hoping they work on a few factors, especially their staff. 

Bell Wine & Spirits Grand Tasting Tonight

I’ll be pouring at one of the tables at Bell’s Grand Tasting tonight. It’s a great time and you get to sample A LOT of wines for only $10. Some of the wines at tonight’s tasting will be -

Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes

Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec

Crios de Susana Balbo Rose

Falernia Syrah Riserva

Falernia Carmenere/Syrah

Falernia Pedro Ximenez

Vina Cobos Felino Chardonnay

Vina Cobos Felino Malbec

Zuccardi Q Cabernet Sauvignon

Zuccardi Malbec

Zuccardi Torrontes

Catena Malbec (SOOOOOO GOOD)

Catena Chardonnay

Don Manuel Villafane Malbec

Trumpeter Malbec-Syrah

Nemesio Proprietor’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Nemesio Proprietor’s Reserve Malbec

Arenal Sauvignon Blanc

Colores del Sol Rich Red Blend

Achaval Ferrer Malbec (ONE OF MY FAVORITES)

Santa Ema Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Bodegas Tamari Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon

Just remember, don’t get wasted. Seriously people, it’s a tasting. Also, try NOT to fall down the stairs as that’s just poor form.

Miner Family Winery Dinner

Last night, I was lucky enough to attend the Miner Family Winery Dinner at 2100 Prime at the Fairfax Hotel as part of the Capital Wine Festival.

Because one can never have enough wine, I had a glass of Chandon in the Lounge before the event. There was an interesting assortment of characters in the lounge including a gentleman who used to frequent the restaurant when it was The Jockey Club and two conservative women arguing about Obama. My bartender had lived in DC since the 1980s and used to live on 17th street.

After I finished my glass, I checked in to the wine dinner. I found out I was seated at table 40 - with the winemaker. That’s how important I am (or that I like to think that). The restaurant has been renovated, but still maintains the old school/old DC decor. There was a lovely display set near a bar area of the wines featured for the evening.


2011 Miner Simpson Vineyard Viognier

For the reception the viognier was poured. It really is the perfect aperitif. It was incredibly aromatic with the honey suckle notes strongest on the finish.

The general manager spoke briefly, thanked everyone for attending and introduced Gary Brookman, Winemaker, Miner Family Winery.

Gary spoke briefly about the 2011 Miner Simpson Vineyard Viognier and presented the 2010 Miner, Napa Valley Chardonnay and 2008 Miner Wild Yeast, Napa Valley Chardonnay. 

He provided background and history as to the winery, the use of solar panels at Miner and the incredible amount of varietals planted.  

I was surprised at how Gary was down to Earth and incredibly pleasant. Besides speaking to the group at large, he frequently walked around to speak individually to the attendees. 

First Course

Lobster Carpaccio

Mango and Avocado Salad, Coriander Cilantro Oil

The first course was paired with 2010 Chardonnay and 2008 Wild Yeast Chardonnay. The plating on this and all dishes was spectacular. The buttery notes in both wines went incredibly well with the lobster and avocado notes. There was a creaminess that as a person who normally hates avocado (yes I hate it and no, don’t try to change my mind)  was incredibly harmonious. 

I was excited to speak with Gary about these wines especially the wild yeast. Apparently, he likes using wild yeast and giving up that control. 

He was quite entertaining explaining how wild yeast can start the fermentation and give up or burn out quickly. I imagined little yeasts partying too hard and then dying off as they made this amazing chardonnay.

The 2010 chardonnay did not spend any time in oak, but did go through some malolactic fermentation. The wild yeast had spicer notes on the finish and was more viscous

Second Course

Red Wine Lacquered Quail

Arugula, Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette, Toasted Pinenuts

2010 Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands

Garys’ Vineyard is a 50 acre vineyard that was planted in 1995 by friends and growers Gary Franscioni and Gary Pisoni.  

I love anything that incorporates an egg especially quail egg. The quail was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The pinot noir and quail worked well together bringing out additional flavors. 

Gary and I discussed the concept of masculine and feminine pinot noirs. I used to have a boss who hated that description. Gary felt that this pinot was more masculine due to the body. 

It was somewhat bright with big cherry notes on the nose with some plum on the finish.

Third Course

Pepper Crusted Virginia Bison

Wine Sauce, Horseradish Cauliflower Puree, French Beans

2009 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

As you can see, I really wanted to try this amazing dish and forgot to take a photo before diving in (d’oh). 

The 2009 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is almost entirely made of cabernet sauvignon with about 5% cabernet franc and 5% merlot blended in. It was aged for 21 months in 60% new French oak. Definitely exhibits some of that almost toasty, vanilla notes on the nose.

The wine was silky with a lushness that went well with the pepper crusted Virginia bison. This was my favorite wine of the evening.

Fourth Course

Buttermilk Panna Cotta

Fresh Berries, Blood Orange Sabayon

2008 “the Oracle” Meritage Blend

The Oracle is a Meritage Blend utilizing Bordeaux style grapes (cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, malbec,merlot and petit verdot). It spends 21 months in 55% French oak. It was incredibly balanced and full bodied. There were hints of cassis and blackberries. 

I was surprised (like others) that this wine was paired with the dessert. But, it totally worked! I think worked best with the top layer of the dessert - blood orange sabayon.

The Chef, Chef Ferrier, and some of his staff thanked us at the end of the night. They also answered questions regarding Virginia bison. I think some people were becoming more difficult and drunk as the night wore on.

In the end, this was an amazing experience with spectacular food, wine and service. I would highly recommend attending a future wine dinner at the Capital Wine Festival.

South African Wine Tasting

Last night I joined the Young Winos of DC including the amazing Girl Meets Glass for a South African wine tasting at Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits in Union Market.

We paid a small fee of $10 and sampled -

Buitenverwachting Sauvignon Blanc Constantia WO 2011 ($15.29 special bottle price)

De Morgenzon Chardonnay DMZ Stellenbosch WO 2012 ($16.19 special bottle price)

A.A. Badenhorst Secateurs Red Blend Swartland Coastal Region 2011
($14.39 special bottle price)

Kanonkop Kadette Red Blend Stellenbosch WO South Africa 2010
($14.39 special bottle price)

The wines we tasted were offered for 10% off. My favorite was the
Buitenverwachting Sauvignon Blanc Constantia WO 2011. It had wonderful acidity, light citrus notes and spice on the finish. The De Morgenzon Chardonnay DMZ Stellenbosch WO 2012 was also incredibly well done. It had creamy notes without being overly buttery or vanilla. There was some nice fruit midpalate.

Girl Meets Glass really enjoyed the reds especially the A.A. Badenhorst Secateurs Red Blend Swartland Coastal Region 2011. It was reminiscent of a GSM blend. The Kanonkop Kadette Red Blend Stellenbosch WO South Africa 2010 is one of the most well known and extremely well done wines from South Africa. It’s a bigger red with tobacco notes with a smooth finish.

We were lucky enough to have Eric Rohleder, Founder and Owner, Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits, leading our tasting. He is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful, but extremely down to Earth. I can’t wait to go back to the shop as the selection is well-curated and still affordable. They also had Hop Slam!!

After the wine, I continued the fun to Penn Social for my game show league. We played Pyramid and I was robbed. I did very well at Groundhog Day category. I ended up giving clues to my teammate for synonyms for friends and we didn’t get one. Sigh. Therefore, I stole a competitor’s beer. Next week, he’s going down.

Sometimes it's cool to pretend you are 22 again

Last week I was lucky enough to attend two different events that were part of the 14th Annual International Food and Wine Festival. I had two more events that I could have attended, but my liver asked me to take a break.

On Tuesday, I volunteered with Washington Wine Academy to pour at the Regional Food and Wine Celebration. After our check-in and briefing, I immediately ran to the Etude table. I poured the 2009 Estate Chardonnay Carneros and 2009 Pinot Noir. I love the Pinot Noir. The nose was quite Earthy as if it were a baby Burgundy. It was so smooth with a lingering finish. Many people refused to try the Chardonnay, but I think that’s more people’s own hangs ups on Chardonnay. It was very balanced with vanilla, toast and some citrus mid-palate.


Around 9:00pm, most of the volunteers, distributors who poured, staff and some attendees wandered down to the VIP after party. That’s where I decided to open a Stag’s Leap Chardonnay…or two among other bottles. I was so excited to finally try it. Another great Chardonnay with a creamy mouth feel and green apple flavors throughout.

I ended up taking the last train home and arriving about 1:00am.

The next day at work was somewhat rough. I almost didn’t make it to my second event - Sommelier Showdown. I won tickets by answering a trivia question on Facebook. Yes, it can be that easy.

I was lucky enough to bring a friend and ran into another friend at the event who writes her own blog. This event like the night before took place in the lovely atrium area of the Ronald Reagan Trade Building. After checking out some of the wines being poured and food, we decided to start with scotch. SCOTCH! There was a representative pouring Glenmorangie 12 year, 12 year Sauternes, 12 year Sherry Cask and 12 year Port Cask. I only tried the Sauternes and Sherry as I thought I would finish with the Port cask. I was surprised at how I preferred the Sherry Cask. The spice and sweetness was much more balanced and smooth throughout.

There were a few tables I was in love with at the Sommelier Showdown. The Achaval Ferrer table was pouring the Quimera 2010 and Finca Bella Vista 2010. Their wines are consistently highly rated. The 2010 Finca Bella Vista is a top ten wine of 2012 according to Wine Spectator and received a 95 point rating. It’s everything that I want out of a red wine - powerful, intense with silky tannins.

Leah Cheston, Wine Director, Ris, won the Sommelier Showdown! It was definitely a challenge. We were able to taste the wines after the competition was over.

Again, second day in a row, I go to the after party event. It was an amazing time, however, I forced myself to get home by 11:30pm.

Friday and Saturday simply fell apart. I had tickets to attend the Last Sipper and International Tasting, but could not muster the energy. I even ended up canceling my Restaurant Week Reservations.

Even though I needed a good part of the weekend to sleep, last week was a great time with wine, food and friends.