Archive | riesling RSS feed for this section

da perks da perks

12 Aug

I may not be making tons of dough at the new job but there are perks to working in the wine industry; at least in Napa Valley anyway.

The winery facility where I work is dedicated to custom crush, which is a program where the average bear – or Joe – can make wine and have their own label. Let me paint a picture with a terrible analogy.

A winery facility that offers custom crush services is to one of those do-it-yourself pottery stores.

You want to design and make a finished clay pot product (wine) but don’t have the clay (grapes) or don’t know what kind of clay to purchase. You don’t have the workspace (winery with fermentation tanks and such) to roll out your clay and build with it and you can fiercely benefit from the experienced voice of someone in-house who has experience making pots (i.e. a Winemaker).

If that wasn’t clear enough – custom crush enables you and me to make wine without having to own our own winery, without having to grow our own grapes and without having to know a whole lot about wine making other than be able to describe what the label will look like or what varietal we want to produce and it’s associated characteristics.

How I benefit from the custom crush operation where I work. When bottling is going on, and they’re pouring that liquid yumminess into sealed vessels, readying it for market – occasionally a label will be misprinted on the bottle.

When this happens, somebody deems it a total loss. Those defunct bottles are usually distributed amongst the staff or taken home by the person whose wine they are bottling. Occasionally a custom crush client will consciously (and might I add graciously) float one of his or her newly bottled wines to the office and tasting room staff – which is always a nice bonus.

On my wine shelf, I have an unmarked bottle of either 2009 Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon. The eastern Europe intern who works in the winery wasn’t sure what varietal it is, but promised me it was going to be good. I’ll take his word for it. Hell, it was free.

Just this afternoon one of our tasting room superstars called me at my desk up int he office where I work, and told me a woman from Indian Springs lodge and spa came by doing some outreach and offered free mud baths and pool passes to employees at the winery. Another score!

Aside from these random occurrences of generosity – as a wine industry employee equipped with my business card, I am entitled to free tastings at most winery locations, and 30% off wines being sold through most wineries. Not bad.


just ignore the linoleum floors

7 Aug

Acorn Zin, Cristolino sprakling, Lyeth Pinot, Plow & Stars Riesling, Jaffe Estate red medley, and Cuvaison Chardonnay

Okay so please try to ignore the linoleum floors and focus on the corks. Darn, now you’re probably staring at the linoleum. These corks have been taking up residence on our kitchen windowsill the past couple weeks. I thought – what the heck,  I may as well group them together and take a photo before bringing them into work to drop in our cork recycling bin. After all, it’s a direct representation of what we’ve been drinking lately and this is a noob wine blog.

As you might imagine – each cork has a story behind it.

The Lyeth Pinot Noir was a wine my boyfriend bought at Traverso’s; a gourmet deli/high end grocer here in Santa Rosa. He brought home one bottle and we liked it so much, he went back and bought a whole case of it. We now have lots ‘o Lyeth and it continues to please us. Recently, he also brought home a Lyeth Zinfandel or Cabernet that wasn’t bad but just not as preferable to me as the Pinot Noir.

The Plow & Star corks represents a Riesling I picked up at our neighborhood Whole Foods Marketplace. I bought it because I was craving a chilled white wine high in acidity and light and flowery. Whole Foods also marked it as one of their top ten budget wines. I’m a shelf-talking-whore I guess. The wine retailed at $7.99, I loved the label and so .. I bought it. Great buy! I loved every sip of it and if I weren’t saving up for a newer car I’d probably buy a case of it. Shoot, I might do that anyway – for $7.99 a bottle – especially if they offer a case discount.

The Cuvaison S Block Chardonnay was an absolute delight. This Chardonnay is estate grown (as all their wines are) at Cuvaison’s Carneros vineyard. Their winemaker feels that the chardonnay grapes from this specific vineyard block are so well balanced on their own, that he need not blend grapes from any other vineyard in – and they call it S Block because the vineyard is vaguely shaped like an S. Their Carneros Chardonnay for example – is a blend of grapes from a multitude of vineyards – although it’s very approachable and lovely as well.

Jaffe Estate. I don’t know much about this wine other than it is called Transformational, and is a blend of several different kinds of red grapes. I was pretty buzzed by the time we opened it so … my senses probably weren’t as acute. I remember it having characteristics of a Cabernet Sauvignon. Sweet, I just read their website description of the wine and it states that it’s a blend of Merlot and Cabernet with the Cabernet’s characteristics presiding over the Merlot’s.  (Maybe I’m getting better at this wine thing?!)

Acorn’s 2006 Heritage Zinfandel is an absolute keeper. It’s the kind of Zinfandel you want to get down on one knee for. If you have been at all following this blog, I wrote a post titled “baby’s first case of wine” where I described my first case buying experience.  I tried this Zinfandel twice; one time at an event in downtown Santa Rosa and once at Willi’s Wine Bar. When I learned the winery was selling it to industry partners at over 50% off – I had to get a case! I’ve since opened one of the bottles. The wine is as enjoyable as I remember at the tastings. Guess what you’re getting for Christmas – yeah if I can part with it!

Lastly, Cristolino Brut Rose Cava. Retails $7.99 – 90+ rated wines under $20. Shoot, try under $10!  It’s often on sale for under $6 too at Safeway and other retail locations. It’s more pleasant to drink than many other sparkling wines I’ve had and affordable for frequent consumption. My boyfriend does not drink sparkling wine, so it makes more sense for me to have an affordable bottle at home to drink than spending a bunch of money on a bottle I’m going to drink alone. Strangely, I don’t feel that way about all wines I consume.

The bubbles are very small. I’ve had some Prosecco wines where the bubbles are huge and flatulent and too tart. Again, I don’t know enough about standard Prosecco or Cava sparkling characteristics to even compare the two at this point in time. Some of the BEST sparkling wines I’ve enjoyed come from Iron Horse Vineyards in Sonoma County. I recently went to Mumm in Napa Valley and was displeased. Their wines tasted like they were lacking the complexity and snap that Iron Horse has to offer. Just my opinion. I understand that Mumm is very popular in the Napa Valley though – and their facility is beautiful.