Tagged: wine

Returning to the Origins of California Wine: Marietta Cellars

“In short, our wines sell because of what’s in the bottle” – from the back of the bottle on any Old Vine Red from  Marietta.

The wine world can be a very overwhelming place. Between keeping up with point scores from a variety of magazines and which years yielded the best grapes from each region, one can easily become lost in a whole load of crap that has no bearing on the most important aspect of enjoying wine; whether or not one likes to drink it.

I was introduced to this family owned operation at a dinner a few years back, trying their Old Vine Red, Lot Number 47. I was surprised to find that there were no specific percentages of which grape varietals were used (the bottles states that the blend is “predominantly comprised of Zinfandel,” a very traditional California grape that produces bold and exciting wine) and no vintage. I then recieved the spiel on this rather inexpensive ($11-$14) and unassuming bottle, learning that Marietta Cellars will just blend their harvest of grapes together, under the care of the father who started the winery and his 4 sons,and out comes a fantastic wine for the price.

I have been drinking Old Vine Red since Lot Number 47 (they just released Lot 54 in February 2011) and you can always find a bottle in my collection. Each release is a bit different in terms of specific flavors, for example, I found 51 and 52 a lot spicier and less full bodied than the 53 sitting next to me. That being said, every release that I have tried has been very smooth and has gone well with almost any meal that one can imagine, specifically pasta dishes with tomato based sauces and flavorful meats. Old Vine Red has never disappointed me and my guests are always suprised that it is so great and inexpensive but they haven’t heard of it.

Cheers to you, Chris Bilbro. Not only do you have bro in your name, but you consistently produce a fantastic and affordable wine. You can read more about the beliefs and principles that govern the operation of Marietta Cellars here.

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Vino Volo: An Airport Bar Remix

Before departing on my current trip to LA, I found myself in Dulles International Airport with an hour and a half to kill before my flight. As I stepped off the escalator and and began my quest for a drank establishment in Terminal B, I found everything I ever wanted in an airport bar.

 

An oasis of wine and sophistication

The Vino Volo wine room was an oasis of sophisticated beauty, the perfect escape if you felt a little violated during new airport security procedures (I found the whole process rather unexciting, but I digress). The bar area was clean and the staff was friendly, helpful, and informed; all of which make a huge difference in any wine tasting experience. I decided to take one of the wine “flights,” a tasting experience with three different wines centered around a similar theme. Based on my destination, I chose the California Reds ($10 for three tasting sized portions) and enjoyed each of them thoroughly.

Vino Volo Wine Flight

There was also a “tapas” style menu with a variety of gourmet style foods to pair with your wine selections. Being on my current Mediterranean kick inspired by my parent’s recent trip to Spain, I went for the Olives ($4) and Artisan cured meats ($7 small plate) and I was pleasantly surprised by both.

Vino Volo in Dulles was quite the wine experience and I would highly recommend everyone to stop by on their next journey, provided the D.C. traffic leaves you with any time for some light fare before your journey. For novice and experienced wine drinkers, this is a great place to get your buzz on before takeoff.

A Local Maryland Winery

This weekend, I visited Linganore Winecellars for their 2010 Reggae Festival beautiful Mt. Airy, MD. It was only $15 admission for an over-21 wine drinker like myself (Whereas I would never recommend the use of a fake ID or trying to slip one past any establishment that sells alcoholic drank, this festival would definitely not be the place to test due to the presence of a deputy sheriff. Apparently there is room for more than just one sheriff in this town.)

First off, driving from D.C. to the vineyard was remarkably easy; it was only 45 minutes from the Capitol Beltway (from the 270 spur) and highway driving almost the whole way. The leaves are just past their peak and the weather was perfect for an outdoor excursion. It’s hard to believe that one could find a real vineyard or winery so close to the D.C. Metropolitan area, but here I was in the rolling hills of western Maryland watching the sunset over a tree line of orange and gold sipping on an $11 bottle of Linganore’s Fox Hunt Blush while sitting on a deck listening to live music. I have found paradise.

The wine tasting experience at Linganore was very welcoming and open, there was no pretense of knowledge or snobbism. In fact, the winemaker said something during the free tour that struck a particular chord with me that I hope everyone who is scared of “getting into wine” takes to heart. “A good wine is one that you like to drink, a bad wine is one that you don’t.” It really is that simple. While ratings like those of Wine Spectator that assign a point system can be useful in finding new things to try, you still shouldn’t drink wines you don’t enjoy because they are “supposed to be good.”

And now to the wine. While Linganore has many wines that are serviceable in their own right that could stand up for themselves as a local competitor to those large production California wines, they also had several unique wines with flavor profiles that were new to me. My winners for the day were the Fox Hunt Blush and Spiced Apple. The Fox Hunt was very drinkable, and at $11 a bottle, a perfect table wine for drinking outside while it’s still warm enough. This is a blush, which means that it is a blend of red and white wines, as opposed to a rose, which is one wine that naturally finds that blended pink color. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a wine fact.

The Spiced Apple is a dessert wine, one of the first that I have tried and enjoyed. It tastes just like it sounds, sort of an apple cider wine flavored with cinnamon and cloves that I tried at several temperatures and found it to be the best warm. This may be the perfect November/December tailgate wine. This is a 100% pure fruit wine, meaning that the wine is made purely from the fruit in question, in this case, apples from western Maryland.

All in all, it was a great day and I highly recommend the experience to anyone. Any of my friends who read this, feel free to hit me up  to go on another trip to Linganore for a tour and complimentary tasting. All of their wines are listed on the website with flavor profiles and their events page lists themed tastings offered each month.

www.wine.woot.com

An online wine resource that every value seeking drinker of “the other purple drank” is Wine.Woot.com. If you are already familiar with the woot.com concept, this is a site by the same fellows that features products centered around wine. According to their section entitled What is Wine.Woot?, “every weekday, wine.woot.com will uncork a sweet new wine deal. (Or a wine-related one, be it wine accessories or fine finger-food fixins.)” Usually, these deals include 2 or 3 bottles of vey highly rated wine at a large discount.

If you so desire, check it every week day for a new deal. The major conflict comes from certain state governments not allowing wine to be shipped directly to customers from an out of state winery. Not that there aren’t good wineries in the amazing state of Maryland.

Here is the section of their site describing the shipping policy and in which states you can have wine shipped directly to your doorstep…

“Thanks to stick-in-the-mud buzzkilling state legislators, wine may only be delivered to the following states:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Each winery is different, so each Wine.Woot sale is posted with its own list of approved states. Be sure to check that list for details. If your state’s not on the list, no wine for you! Take it up with your state assemblyperson. We comply with all federal, state, and local laws in providing this wine.”- (Wine.Woot.com)

Czech it out, let me know if you’ve had good/bad/ugly experiences buying from them. I haven’t bought anything myself yet due to the restriction on shipping wine into Maryland and my lack of interest in accessories.

[yellow tail] Flavor Map

This was very valuable to me when I was a fresh wine drinker, the flavor map from [yellow tail]. It not only allowed me to expand my palate to new wines, but allowed me to find those points of comparison between the wines, which is crucial in being able to describe flavors and make recommendations to friends based on their preferences.

The flavor map plots all the [yellow tail] wines against two criterion, light vs heavy and sweet vs. dry. I’ve found the map to be accurate in flavor profiles and useful for explaining the differences in flavors, specifically between different red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.