The Drink of Success

The Holidays can be a little disruptive to our regular routine. With the New Year, we settle down and get back in the swing of things. And for those of us that frequent the Front Porch… that means wine tasting on Wednesdays. If you think Wednesday is not an appropriate day for wine tasting, then you’re an amateur and we can’t be friends. Just kidding. Pick a night, I’ll drink with you.

Often the New Year is seen as a new beginning or a fresh start. We make New Year’s Resolutions to change ourselves for the better (I haven’t had much success with that). Instead, I like to make a list. I love making lists. I love everything about making lists. Cute little notebooks or nice paper and a smooth pen (hopefully with colored ink) to write with. Seeing my thoughts/tasks on paper makes them seem easier to get done. When you have things written down, they can be physically crossed off the list and that brings a great feeling of accomplishment. Sometimes, if I do something that is not on the list, I write it on the list just so I can cross it off. Okay, not sometimes. I do that every day. My list for the coming year, among other things, includes travelling with my husband and restoring the 1961 Baja Bug that was abandoned at my house. More (fingers crossed) on that later.

It’s gonna be a great year, worthy of many bottles of wine! It is the drink of celebration, of success and the best way to drown sorrows. We wish you much celebration and success and no sorrow in the coming year.

The four bottles we tried are from all over the world! Napa, Idaho, New Zealand and France.

four wines

Ste. Chapelle Soft White ~ Tablelands Sauv Blanc ~ Château Naudin Bordeaux ~ Pra Vinera Cab

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soft white

2011 Ste. Chapelle Soft White $2.99 elsewhere price $9.99

from the Snake River Valley in Idaho

We had not seen a wine that was referred to as a ‘Soft White’ before, so the sweetness took us all a little by surprise. It reminded me of a Moscato. Steve tasted pear & melon and Caroline tasted apple as well, pink lady she said. Terry liked it with the Boursin Cranberry cheese and said it grows on you, the sweetness dissipates as it breaths.

Wine.com user review: ‘This wine is great. It is light and sweet it tastes like it is made from pears instead of grapes. I would definitely buy again especially at this price.’ ($7.99)

The label reads: ‘Since 1978, Ste. Chapelle has been crafting award-winning wines from grapes grown in high-altitude vineyards overlooking the famed Snake River in southern Idaho. Our region’s long daylight hours, warm summer days, crisp evenings and well-drained, volcanic ash soils are ideal for producing distinctive wines like this Soft White. Enjoy its delicate pear and melon aromas and richly textured, luscious flavors on their own or with fruit, cheese and light desserts.’

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tablelands sauv blanc

2011 Tablelands Sauvignon Blanc $5.99 elsewhere price $12.99

from Martinborough, New Zealand

I am sad to say that the Front Porch Wine Tasters did not care for this wine. However, my favorite Wine Snob/blogger did.

Click this link to read his full review, here is part of it: ‘On the first night, the wine had a pleasant nose of ripe yellow melon with a little green fruit.  Palate of yellow melon, ripe gooseberry, yellow grapefruit / golden kiwi, a little minerality.  Fruit is perhaps slightly weak, as if the wine were already getting old, but the taste finishes well with acid of medium ripe pineapple.’

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Pra Vinera Cab

2012 Pra Vinera Cabernet Sauvignon $5.99 elsewhere price $17.99

from the North Coast, Napa, California

This Cab was extremely smooth, the aroma made me feel immediately happy. Terry said it just flows right down. She tasted berries and Caroline tasted blackberry. Steve commented that allowing it to breath a good 30 minutes improves the plum taste.

The label reads: ‘Many thoughts arise when a winemaker gazes at a Field of Vines (“Pra Vinera”). They remember past struggles and past triumphs. They remember techniques that brought flavors to their peak. Their gaze takes in the vineyard’s potential, and ponders how best to capture the vines’ offering. In many ways, to a winemaker a vineyard is field of dreams; dreams rich with the taste of the past and hope for the future.’ (That’s fitting for the New Year!)

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Bordeaux

2012 Château Naudin Bordeaux $5.99 elsewhere price $18.99

Grand Vin De Bordeaux, France

This French Bordeaux is a perfect example of wine that is meant to go with food. At first taste, Terry said it was really dry, we all agreed. Then when we paired it with Little Smokies from the Deli, Caroline thought the wine was much juicier and we all agreed the food made the wine taste better. Weird.

 I read the label out loud: ‘Our winemaker has selected for you this Château wine from the world famous Bordeaux vineyards for its highest qualities. Perfect to be enjoyed with grilled meats, barbecues, salads and cheeses.’ Steve agreed, he thought it would go great with a grilled cheese. -_- At least he heard two of the words I said, lol.

What does it mean when a French wine is labeled with “Grand Vin De Bordeaux”?

Here’s an explanation from Dr. Vinny at Wine Spector Magazine: ‘“Grand Vin,” or “great wine,” is an impressive-sounding but unregulated term. I’ve most often seen it used with red Bordeaux as a way for a château to indicate its best wine, a step up from the second bottling. Since it denotes what they believe is their best showing, it’ll typically carry a higher price tag. It may be a terrific wine, or not. You might prefer the second bottling more. All you know with the term “Grand Vin” is that they’re marketing it as their best.

We had a ‘Remarkable’ time!

Every time I hear the word Remarkable, I think of the Little Rascals. Do you remember them? When I was a kid, I watched them (re-runs of course!) every Saturday morning. One episode, Spanky was babysitting a bunch of babies. Now, Spanky looks like a baby himself in this episode, but he has exceptional story telling skills! He is telling the babies a bed time story so they will take a nap and one of the babies keeps commenting, ‘Remarkable’ all through the story. Babies watching babies, remarkable. I don’t know who in their right mind would allow their baby to be supervised by The Little Rascals, that is really remarkable. As I remember, one of the babies ended up inside a big bird cage to contain him – he was a wanderer. Sure, inappropriate today – but back then – it was effective. If you have 4 minutes, watch a clip from the original Remarkable episode here.

That totally had nothing to do with wine, but may provide some insight as to how my mind wanders like an unsupervised toddler.

We tasted four wines this week on the Front Porch. (which had a tiny make-over to accommodate more people)

5 wine pic  6 wine pic

2008 Hangtime Chardonnay from the Central Coast, 2009 Fernz Chardonnay from New Zealand, 2008 Remarkable Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County and 2008 Monkey Business from the North Coast. (from right to left) Check our Facebook page for the ‘Giveaway’ tab to Enter to Win one bottle of each of these wines! Also, you can try the Bandana White blend and the Totally Random Sweet Red wines from previous posts this weekend at the Manteca Pumpkin Fair (Oct 5 & 6, 2013).

8 wine pic

Hangtime Chardonnay $3.99 (elsewhere price $11.99)

3 wine pic First up, Hangtime Chardonnay had a buttery color and was slightly oaky. Terry thought that it started strong but after a few sips it goes down easy. Larry said it was not as lightly colored as some we have tried lately and Joe said it was smooth…like Larry. Lisa said let it breath for a few minutes, it was misleading at first. The Red Hat Ladies liked it but were really looking forward to the red wines (guests of Kitty, who thought the coffee was perfectly strong – just the way she likes it). Cellar Tracker gave it 86 points. (the wine, not the coffee)

The label reads: ‘At Hangtime Cellars, we source Chardonnay from the cool, windswept California Coast AVA where grapes spend a long time hanging on the vine – you’ll find the exact number of days printed on our label. These lengthy “hangtimes” allow grapes to ripen slowly, developing exquisite fruit character perfectly balanced by crisp acidity. Sit back with your friends, open up a bottle, and enjoy a little well-deserved hangtime of your own!’

Fernz Chardonnay $3.99 (elsewhere price $11.99)

4 wine pic I immediately liked the fruity smell of the Fernz Chardonnay. It was lighter in color and both Larry and I thought it had a distinct citrus taste. Joe said it was a little too tart for him (which is funny because he won a free bottle the next day, lol) The Red Hat Ladies wanted to remember this one so they could come into the store to get it – even though it wasn’t red. Tasting.com gave this wine 84 points and it won the Bronze Medal in the World Wine Championship! I like to search out info about all the wines we taste, and I came across a video of the winemakers tasting this wine on YouTube – check out their reaction to livestock crashing the party!

The label reads: ‘The Silver Fern is a national emblem of New Zealand which conveys a sense of inspiration, purity and pride. We strive to provide these same characteristics in our wine by using only sustainable winemaking practices, thus protecting the natural environment. It is our priority to provide you with the taste of pure New Zealand in every drop. Please enjoy with family & friends and take pleasure in the flavor of New Zealand!’

Remarkable Pinot Noir $5.99 (elsewhere price $19.99)

2 wine pic As we passed this Remarkable Pinot Noir around the Front Porch, Lisa noticed the bottom of the bottle and said she loved the ‘belly button’ on the bottle. She thought the wine was ‘Yummy!’ It coated her mouth and felt creamy and had a nice round flavor. She planned on getting a case the next day (her husband did come in and get it for her :-)). Terry said it was refreshing and it would be a crowd pleaser, especially for the holidays. Misty thought it was a remarkable price and would make a great holiday gift.

The label reads: ‘Aromas of maraschino cherry, rhubarb and cream yield into complex smoky notes, and layers of soft tannins.’

Monkey Business Merlot $7.99 (elsewhere price $12.99)

1 wine pic Perfect for the coming Fall months! Monkey Business Merlot brings a lot of fruit and a rich flavor. It is deep red and smells slightly floral. I thought it was smooth and dry. Larry said it started sweet, then becomes dry. It made Terry feel very warm (but, it was the fourth wine she tasted and she was sitting pretty close to Larry, so it could’ve been either of those things).

The label reads: Monkey business is located in the heart of Wine Country in Healdsburg. We bottle and blend small lots of the finest hand-crafted wine form California. Enjoy this wine by itself or with your favorite cuisine.’

ale tasting I’m sure you noticed that I didn’t get any of Steve’s wisdom on any of these wines. He was present on the Front Porch… however, he was a rebel this week – he was having A Little Sumpin’ Ale. He said it might be considered bitter if you compare it to beers like Coors Light or Bud. He thought it tasted kind of like evergreen – like if you were on Naked and Afraid and you made a tea out of pine needles to stay alive – but with a kick. You are a kick, Steve!