Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Turley 2007 Vintage Fall Release

Not too long ago at District Wine Bar I was accused by an employee of having "excellent taste, ma'am" (OK, maybe the "ma'am" part wasn't exactly a compliment) when I witnessed him pulling a delightfully familiar bottle, adorned with a maroon label, out from the reserve cellar. What, did you really think ZinfanGirl couldn't ID a Turley on sight?! I love me some zinfandel, and I highly regard wineries which dedicate themselves to producing a continuous supply of this marvelous juice. Turley holds one of the top places on my list of, "Oh my golly, this is what God must drink!" zin-producing wineries.

We are now in the heart of harvest season, which means more yummy wine will soon be on its way. And of course, order forms precede the wines themselves, and their papery presence is nearly as exciting as the bottles themselves.

My heart always flutters whenever we get something from our beloved Turley. We were recently asked to do a recognizance mission to Turley by another winery (who shall remain unnamed); apparently, word on the wine streets is that their last release was not quite up to usual Turley standards. We have not yet done this mission, but I suspect a stop at Turley will be on the itinerary next month when we head down south for Castoro Cellar's members BBQ.

So what does Turley have to say? Sounds like high hopes for the '07 vintage. Two new vineyards, Fredericks Vineyard and Zampatti Vineyard, are located in Sonoma. It sounds like these newbies will be producing my poison of choice: zinfandel. It also appears as though ZinfanHubby & I were not deemed worthy enough to purchase either one. Maybe next year *sigh*

2008 no doubt was a rough year for many wineries, with all the wildfires & ensuing damage. Fortunately Turley was spared from physical harm, but yields were down *gasp* 50%! I hope 2009 proves to be more fruitful (pun intended?) for them.

ZinfanHubby & I always try to order as many bottles from Turley as possible, as the allotments are based on prior orders. I suspect we will be ordering all 10 of our options this year. In addition to being excluded from the newbie vineyards, we were also denied the Pesenti Petite Syrah and the Library Petite Syrah. Well, it's a damn good thing I am ZinfanGirl and not PetiteSyrahGirl! :P

The Turley member pick-up party is in Templeton on November 7th, and ZinfanGirl will most definitely be attending! The pick-up party back in 2007 was a blast. We ended up finding the last few bottles of their rosé in a corner of the tasting room, and snagged a hell of a deal at $16 a bottle! I think we started a mini-riot once our fellow club members caught on to what we were doing. I suspect ZinfanHubby and I will be drawing straws to determine who is on driving duty.

To check out Turley Wine Cellars, or to sign up to get on the waiting list to get on the mailing list (I still razz my husband for saving the postcard informing him he was now *on* the waiting list to get on the members' list), please visit Turley's website.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

For the love of Wine (Away)

In the world of passions, mentors can come in handy. The best mentors are the ones who may not even be aware of their influence. I have had many sources of inspiration during my wine journeys, everyone from the man at Château Montcontour who let us in for a tasting (off-season) & talked wine with 3 Americans for hours, to the staff at Coit Liquors who were always willing to give out samples of already opened bottles on my way home from school, to the staff members of tasting rooms all over California. But this individual won my heart in a most wine-sical way...

"And what is a Wiii-mooo?"
"A Wimo is wine tasting in a limo. My friend organizes it. Should be a lot of fun."
"Wine? Limo? Yeah of course I'll be your date! Umm.. platonic, right?"

Jess is-- how do I say this unpretentiously?-- smarter than you. He's smarter than me. He is smart about everything worth being smart about. And it was under the most unusual of circumstances that we crossed paths (and that is one story that, being un-wine-related, will not be published here).

Our friendship grew over shared loves for fun, dancing and wouldn't you know it, wine. Jess is not one to be outdone, whether he tries or not. So it did not strike me as odd when he insisted on dressing up for this Wimo trip. How on earth, after agonizing for hours, did I end up choosing a white dress for wine tasting is beyond me, but I did. And I looked damn good.

I think it was somewhere between Domaine Chandone and Biale that The Incident happened. Imagine 30-something people on a limo-bus stocked with a full bar. Most people were drunk before we even left San Francisco. So it was inevitable that red wine would eventually make contact with my ill-chosen white dress. The culprit was my dear friend Vinay, combined with a too-sharp turn or maybe a speed bump. The victim was my white dress; the poor thing looked like it was fashionably bleeding. Before the thoughts, "Oh f-- my dress! I am gonna walk around with a wine stain all day long!" could process, the never-outdone Jess produced a magic potion from his bag...

Wine Away, how had I never heard of you?!?! A couple of sprays later, and my dress was once again immaculate. And I was head over heels in love.

Not too long ago, at a winery (I believe Martinelli?), I found a 3 pack of travel-size Wine Away spritzers. I keep one in my purse at all times, and lemme tell ya: I have un-ruined more garments, removed more carpet stains, and warranted more "Oh my God THANK YOU!!!!" hugs than I ever imagined possible. All for $10? What a bargain!

Wine lovers everywhere, experienced or not, or even for you clutzy folks (because I can attest that this stuff removes fruit juice, ketchup, and more!): you NEED Wine Away. Get it now. Most wine shops, BevMo, and specialty food stores carry it. If not, order it right here, right now!

And as you may have guessed, the Wine Away wasn't the only one to steal my heart that day.


I've never been one for introductions. Can't we just all act like we're already BFF? Because I'm sure we will be by the time the bottle's done.

Joking aside... welcome to the most recent of my blogging attempts. I've blogged many times before but this is the first time I've done it under a certain theme-- that theme being wine, of course! They say to write about what you love, so I'm gonna give it a go.

My shaky introductory skills have caused my About Me section to be a bit lacking. But I want to make sure this blog stays focused on the vino and not on me. But why read this blog if you & I are strangers? There's no fun in that! So, here is my About Me:

Hi! I'm Nikki. Enchanté. I should warn you now that my posts will be dotted with (and occassionally, entirely written in) French. I cannot tell you exactly how long I have been drinking wine for, partly because A) I don't remember exactly, and B) I'm sure it was well before I was of legal (U.S.) drinking age. But my fascination with wine has been long in the making: the history, the science, the production, the culture, even the pleasing shapes of bottles & stemware. I used to beg my mom to let me trace my dampened finger along the rim of her crystal wine glass, revelling in that deep, hollow tone, a sound not unlike the one created by wind blowing over the mouth of the wine bottle.

Fast forward to adult life: fine wine has yet to find its place in college culture, and the endearing complexity of wine was lost to my tequila-shooting self for quite awhile. But one day in November 2002, on the beaches of Kaua'i, a magical, 21-year-old clock chimed. My very first legal (American) alcohol purchase was a bottle of red wine. Shortly thereafter, I realized that wine was much more enjoyable than alcohol consumed in Jell-O form, and a bonafide wine-o was born.

In the following years, I returned to my hometown in northern California. My passion for wine complimented my other passion: travel. I was blessed with the opportunity to spend a semester in France. The Loire Valley, and its incredible wines, will always hold a most special place in my heart, for it was during this period that I really started to develop a sense, knowledge and taste of the regional wines. Entire days were devoted to sipping Touraines on a clear spring day, finding just the right-- not too sweet!-- Anjou rosé, and of course, indulging in my Loire Valley darling (sparkling Vouvray). Man, this is the life for me! My passport may say American, but j'suis française à ma cœur! My return to la France became not a question of "if," but "when?"

Back in San Francisco, I nursed my epic case of reverse culture shock with wine: learning it, tasting it, loving it. That September, I met the one person who has had the greatest impact on my wine passion to date, and alongside him we have embarked on an increasingly exciting path with even greater potential for learning (please see For the Love of Wine (Away)). But, it wasn't enough to keep my curiousity satisfied...

One year later I set out for my next wine adventure, to the land where a certain monk once beckoned, "Come quickly, I am drinking stars!" Have I mentioned that stars have always been my thing? It seemed fitting that I would embark on my next adventure in the land of bubbles, of drinkable stars: Champagne. So there I was, 7+ months in the fields of France. It was during this time that I discovered the novelty of a red Champagne (guess what? no bubbles!), the joy of exclaiming, "Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!" (and sampling the new harvest with my colleagues in the teachers lounge), the simple pleasures of wandering into the local wine shops, greeting the owner, and walking away with a €4 bottle specifically chosen to complement my meager meal of baguette & toppings. Wine tasting in France was a completely different adventure, with completely new knowledge to bestow upon me.

Napa, Epernay, Porto, Paso Robles... these are all locales famous for their wines. They are also just a scratch on the surface of my ever-growing list of must-visit places pertaining to wine. Someday I will sample Shiraz in Australia, and Pinot Grigio in Venice, and... well I won't get ahead of myself. I will simply say in closing that the world is my vineyard...