B is for Bottle

In this case, a bottle of Broll Mountain Vineyards 2004 Syrah from Calaveras County.  I first discovered Broll Mountain through a chance meeting at a ZAP volunteer event, where @brixchick_liza and i met Roger & Ginger, who are retirees who work part time at Broll Mountain.  As chance would have it, the winery is in Murphys, which is one of my favorite wine getaways.  you might know about my addiction to all things twisted and rubber.  Rubber CHICKENS that is.

This wine is deep and dark, with an earthy blackberry nose, with a touch of cherry syrup.  It drinks quite dry, and evokes flavors of vermouth, with smoked meats.  After a few sips, I’m finding it has quite a floral note to it, and I am almost drinking liquid violets and rose petals, with some great dark fruit behind it.  It’s quite tannic but i think it would be awesome with food, and it has a lingering dark chocolate was only $19, so I definitely buy this again if i came across it.

“Nose is earthy, brambly attack with plums and black cherry.  A classic Syrah, meaty black fruit with olives and raspberries, cherries and rhubarb.  Tannins and dark chocolate finish.  Excellent paired with meats, cheeses and hearty food.”

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A smattering of tastings – WBC Day 1

Where does the time go?  The Second Annual Winebloggers Conference has already come and gone, and I am left wondering “what the heck was that bus that rolled over me  “.As one of the voices behind the curtain of the WBC Scholarship, and as a huge cheerleader, proponent and fan of the WBC, I am pleased, shocked, elated, bummed, and catching my breath after the weekend.

On our first day, the rag tag Twisted Crew (@sonadora, @thebeerwench, @winehiker, @eljefetwisted, @ryanopaz, @gabriellaopaz, @houstonwino, @winewonkette) and I pulled up to the Flamingo after fighting what seemed to be an eternity in Central Valley and Infinion drag racing traffic followed by the usual Friday flow in to Santa Rosa.  Arriving at 12:30 or so, I didn’t spend much time with the sponsors, something which I regret doing.  Partially because many of them were familiar to me, partially because I was just plain exhausted due to unfortunate events the day before, I found my fellow people and sat down to eat some lunch.

I was excited to see so many of my friends, both those that I know in person and those that I knew only online, as new recruits tot he WBC posse.  After catching up, albeit breifly, with some regulars, I was circulating the room trying to spy new faces while inspecting their name tags without looking like I was completely crazy.  Fortunately, I caught up with a few new regulars.

After lunch, we attempted to do the speed tasting sessions, but well for reasons so many have discussed, it failed.  Miserably.  Like died on the operating table failed.  In its stead, we heard about the Wine Blogger Awards.  Unfortunately, I had purposely planned to skip this male dominated prom king style popularity contest, and moving it up unfortunately resulting in people not being there to accept thier awards.  Eventually the wireless supposedly turned back on but as I tried to tweet my tasting notes, the wireless only stayed up for 10 seconds at a time, I gave up and just enjoyed the wines.  Sorry folks, no tasting notes from me.

After the speed tasting, we beat a hasty retreat to our short but sweet annual Anti-Conference BYOB session in the small space at the front of the hotel.  We did get to enjoy a large plethora of wines from attendees, and I really look forward to this time to meet new folks, try new wines, and just have a good time in an unstructured way.

Not wanting to miss a beat, we then made our way out to the pool for a very crowded very crazy Sonoma Grand Tasting.  Not wanting to get crushed in the milee I pretty much avoided this, and found a spot at a table with Wine Biz Radio’s Randy Hall, his wife Jen and her amazing goat cheese, as well as some fellow bloggers.  There, we shared some wine, I opened some wine,

Showing off my Zinpatico with Jen's goat cheese!

Chritophe (@cork_dork) from Titus opened some wine, and we made our own tasting.  PS for next year, PLEASE do no try to squeeze 250 people in to a space meant for 50, it just doesn’t’ work.  I am sorry I missed many great wines, but I count myself lucky that I have tasted many before so didn’t really feel like I was losing out.  It was just too much of a mosh pit to really enjoy your self and so instead, I opted to find an empty poolside table and sit with my buds catching up.  Jen, Randy Hall’s wife, had brought some of her homemade goat cheese to share and with some wine to sip on, we snacked and chatted the afternoon away.

Oh – I forgot to mention.  During all portions of the Speed Tasting and Sonoma Grand, I was readily accosted for my unusual jewelry of Wie BLogger Bling.  It looks like my ribbons and charms were a hit, yet again!  Yes, t

his was the idea, and I am pleased that so many of you enjoyed the camradierie of being a Naughty Wine Minx or saying tot he world Screw It!  More WIne!  That was the intention behind the blogger bling, as there were so many people I didn’t know and knew I wouldn’t get a chance to meet; I was pleased that it afforded me the opportunity to have random strangers become aquaintances via a common love of all thing wine and silly.

After the Grand Tasting, we made our way in to the dinner session, where I had a tizzy of a time finding not only a seat, but a seat at a table where I at least recognized one face.  I know i know, I was going to mingle,  but even this cowgirl gets the “I’m shy” blues and wanted a friendly face.  I sat down with my favorite Cellar Rat Alan Baker, and we had a great time trying our wines and catching up, while I went table hopping to poach different wines.  The table layout was that most tables were hosted by a winery, and we had a few of their wines plus others on our tables.  Since I wanted a variety, I found Brad Cooper’s table (@bradinator) and poured a nice big taste of his Black Cloud Pinot Noir.  WOW!  Who knew such beauty came out of of British Columbia in a bottle! (Hey, @winebard stop throwing things at me).

Even though I was operating at 45% sanity, both physically and mentally, after dinner I wandered in tot he after hours tasting hosted by Russian River Winegrowers.  I was please to see many wineries I knew here, and was able to taste some more treats, and chat with the locals on what was new.  In there, I met up with Julie from Windsor Oaks, whom I’ve written about before here.  Julie is a pioneer in the industry and is working hard to make sure that she is in tune with not only bloggers, but with what her customers want and need.  I was so pleased to get a gift of their Unoaked Chard, which is just a lovely treat.  Anyone in the area, MUST stop by and try their wines!  They will welcome you as one of their own, and the wine is pretty good too ;-).

I tried and tried to stay up for the after after after party but I just couldn’t do it.  My body and my brain gave out.  I’m sure I missed out on a lot and I’m bummed, but well, Saturday was another day!

(How long til WBC 10?)

Bacon is BACK! A day late, a strip short.

Yes I know, I started Bacon Fridays, and then promptly dropped it when my time was not my own.  I am BACK!  BACON is back!

One night this week, I got home and was mildly irritated at myself to discover that i really had no food in the house.  Fortunately for myself, I had a half open bottle of wine and the basic food groups –

  • pancake mix
  • butter
  • syrup
  • BACON!

Sometimes, you just need to have breakfast for dinner!  I also found blueberries and bananas in my bag of tricks, so I cooked up a stack of pancakes and some applewood smoked bacon.

After pouring myself a glass of Calaveras County Syrah, I added the requisite butter and pure maple syrup to my pancakes.  IN the process, the syrup sneaks up on the bacon.  The taste sensation that maple syrup drenched bacon provided is, in a word, orgasmic.

Add in a smokey, blueberry infused syrah, and I was in love.  Pure love.

Everyone should have blueberry pancakes, bacon, and syrah for dinner soon!  P.S.  i recommend the warm climate syrah over a cool climate syrah as it has the fruity smokiness that pairs well with pancakes and bacon.  Cool climate syrah is equally delicious for other reasons, and would go well with meaty dishes including bacon.

Happy short stack to you!

 

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Jumping frogs, Twisted wines, and Sneaky Syrah

Who needs romantic candlelit dinners?  Who needs chocolate and sweet nothings?  Not me.  I had a much better Valentine’s Day weekend, spend slurping the good stuff in one of the hottest new wine regions of California, Calaveras County.

My first visits to this area were whizzing by Douglas Flat on the way to go skiing at Bear Valley or Dodge Ridge.  Then, as I got older, we would take summer trips to Sonora and Jackson to learn about the Gold Rush history.   Last fall, however, my eyes were opened when I took my first trip to Murphys to go wine tasting.  I had my first taste of wine from this area, and fell in love.

First, a little history, just so I can shake off all of you lurkers and get the real readers in here.  OK just kidding!  The name Calaveras is Spanish for “skulls”, which is probably from the bones found by the Spanish Captain, Gabriel Moraga.  Calaveras County also gained notieraity when Mark Twain wrote the short storyThe Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County“.  The area was settled

The town of Murphys, with some 15 tasting rooms on Main Street, was settled during the Gold Rush by – spoiler alert – brothers Daniel and John Murphy.  They ran the local supply store, where they became rich off of the prospectors who needed supplies. Now, with it’s cluster of tasting rooms on a short meander, Murphys’ tasting rooms take you on a history walk through town, while enjoying some fabulous wine.

Wine has been made in these parts since the late 1800s, to supply the growing towns and miners with their elixirs.  Much like Amador County, immigrants brought the wine making techniques with them.  While certain other areas of the state are more well known, I think that Calaveras County will continue to grow (but not too much) and develop in to a wine power, while maintaining it’s small town charm.  This area is idea for growing Spanish and Rhone varietals, as it is very hot and dry in the summer, with snow and true winter in the later months.  As such, we tasted several Viogniers, Grenaches and Syrahs.  There is also a long history of Zinfandel being grown in these parts, and the oldest known zin planting is a 110 year old vineyard producing some potent juice!  Part of the allure of Murphys is that the tasting rooms are intimate, it’s rarely crowded (except for a bad experience with a bus of retirees from Modesto), the people are genuinely happy to see you, and there are great wines at amazing prices.  Have I mentioned that most wineries do not charge a tasting fee?  If they do, it’s rarely more than a few dollars and worth every cent.

Some fothe highlights of my weekend were:

  • Twisted Oak Presidents in Lust Dinner – This dinner, which humorously combines Presidents Day with Valentines Day, offered scrumptious treats by Sugar & Spice Catering in Jackson, paired with the best of Twisted Oak’s library wines.  My favorite pairing of the night was the Chipolte Tomato Bisque served with the 2004 Grenache.  It’s true, I have left my heart at Twisted Oak!
  • Tanner Vineyards – Tanner shares the supreme talents of Scott “Fermento the Magnificent” Klann, Twisted Oak’s winemaker and resident cool dude.  Tanner makes outstanding Syrah from thier own vineyard, as well as Petite Verdot and a Rhone blend called Mélange de Mère, a blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Petite Verdot.
  • Lavender Ridge – is located in a historical storefront on Main Street, and offers cheese pairings with their wine.  I really enjoyed their Viognier paired with a nice triple creme!
  • Broll Mountain – some new friends that Brix Chick Liza and I met at ZAP work part time at the Broll tasting room, and we popped in to see them. Why hadn’t I popped in before!  Another great example of Sierra Foothills syrah.
  • Chatom – is slightly outsideo f town, near the Twisted Oak winery in Vallecito.  I had to drag Liza in there, but it was well worth it for the live music and wines in they were pouring.  The She Wines Red, a nice red blend, was a great every day wine for less than $10.
  • Ironstone (reserve selections only) – this behemouth is a huge event center, but if you stick to the reserve table, I found some gems.  I really liked the Christine Andrew Chard, and with the sale price of a whopping $11.99, I should have taken home more.  The Reserve Old Vine Zin from Lodi was what our hostess Shoshona referred to as a “dirty wine”, which was deep, dark, rich and filled with chocolate covered cherries.  I would reccomend a trip to Ironstone for a taste of these wines.  Their regular line is average and affordable, but these reserve wines are speical and offer amazing QPR.
  • Renner – is the newest kid on the block.  We hit them on a whim on the way back down 4.  Renner is located in a faux old west style town, in Copperopolis.  As we pulled in, we had the tasting room to ourselves, and were happy to discover that they own the Canterbury Vineyard where the viognier we had with dinner the night before came from.  They also make 2 syrahs that were wonderful, and were offering one of the syrahs by the case for $9 a bottle.  If we’re looking at QPR here, this one is out of this world.  For a weeknight sipper, this is a steal so walk, don’t run.  The regular price is still affordable at $18, but this special sprice was stunning.

As we wrapped up our wine soaked weekend, I had amassed quite a collection of wine, but it was very easy on the wallet.  First off, you are not paying for Napa real estate so wineires are able to pass that savings on to the cosumer.  Additionally, in conjunction with the event weekend, we were able to get several “special sales” and allowed us to buy more wine!

Thank you Murphys for a fantastic sweekend, and can’t wait tos ee you next time.

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