Monday, July 6, 2009

Wine Tasting...

This was vastly different from my other trips up to Napa/Sonoma Wine Country in that it wasn't a back to back race from winery to winery. Instead, E and I visited only 3 wineries: Peju, Frogs Leap, and Ravenswood.

I wanted to restock some wines from Peju so we headed down there and were lucky enough to see Alan, the rapping, yodeling, representative of Peju. Luckily, I had called them ahead to let them know I'd be showing up so they were expecting me. I don't know how we did it but we walked out of there with a CASE of various wines. Personally, I think it was the rapping that sold me.
E brought up Frogs Leap so I called to see if we could come in for a tasting. $15 got us a flight of 5 wines and a cheese plate. Frogs Leap is one of the original pioneers of organically grown grapes and ecologically sustainable farming techniques in Napa. Please note that there is a difference between organic wines (which do not have a long shelf life) and organically grown products used in wines - the wines can't call themselves "organic" probably have sulfites that have been added. The staff there were extremely friendly, knowledge and helpful - we had a great time learning about the valley, relaxing on the wrap around porch and enjoying the tasty nibbles!

One experience that I had planned in advance was a wine blending class at Ravenswood with Peter Griffith. Peter got back to my email right away and noted that I was a dying breed (an employed CMP). He normally only did the class for groups with a minimum of 6 but he kindly offered it out to me - I only hope that I can get a group back out there soon!! It was a fantastic experience!

Peter managed to dumb this down enough so that even I could understand it. The Zin provided the fruits, the Carignan provided the acid, and the Petite Syrah the body. Not so surprisingly, I really liked it heavy on the Petite Syrah. We started out to with the knowledge that whatever we "mixed" together, it needed to add up to 20ml. Problem number 1: i can't add. It took me a few tries but with the help of my fingers and toes, I somehow managed to get it done!

We used the pipettes to measure out each of the 3 types of wines to blend the perfect wine for each of our palates. It was a lot like perfume making in that the sense of taste (like the sense of smell) got tired after 3 - 4 tastings. Problem 2: After a while, I just got tired of trying to figure out which i liked so I went with my best last tasting.

One thing I was excited about was doing a barrel tasting - never got to do that until that day. We sampled a barrancia 2008 (YUM!). Problem 3: We were strongly encouraged to spit. I never spit because I just find it a waste of good wine. We did enough tasting where this was actually a good (and valid suggestions, after I was informed that if I were intoxicated while riding a bike, I would still get a DUI. *SIGH*) We also had the opportunity to taste other wines, including some of the wines from the library collection. It was a great experience, one I highly recommend to give you a broader understanding of wine structure!

Peju Province Winery
8466 St Helena Hwy
Rutherford, CA 94573

Frog's Leap
8815 Conn Creek Road
Rutherford, CA 4573

Ravenswood Wine
18701 Gehricke Road
Sonoma, California 95476
707-933-2332 (to sign up for the blending class!)

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