Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Can Haz Job?

ZinfanGirl apologizes for being so MIA this week & last! A trip to Seattle last week & a trip to Cabo next week aren't leaving much time for wine *tear*

As you all probably already know, I want IN to the wine industry. I'll crush grapes, sell bottles, pick out stems, whatever, but I really would love to be a more active part of this whole process. I was stoked when I saw a job posting on WineJobs.com for a position in my area.

Pros: Flex/part-time hours, small company, proficiency in French preferred (!!!), participation in trade shows & tastings.

Cons: Across the Bay in Oakland--not too far from the ZinfanFamily actually, adamant that they want a 2-3 year commitment to being part-time, must know QuickBooks. And it's a desk job :P

So I applied. And I followed up. And I have been doing the back & forth thing ever since with the owner as far as setting up a time for an interview. He wanted to do it last Thursday; I was flying to Seattle. Called this evening and left a voicemail hoping for a 9AM interview tomorrow in Oakland; I have a 12PM appointment in San Francisco and fear that would cut it awful close. I'm free ALL the rest of the week; he won't be in the office on Thursday & Friday. And of course, I'll be busy doing tequila shots in Mexico all next week. Is this a sign that it's not meant to be?

Well, at least I can say I tried. Maybe he will call back tomorrow and say, "ZinfanGirl, we cannot survive without you, what can we do to make you love us and want to work with us?" But I fear I've already proven a tad difficult to get an interview set up and they will give up. And I'm not entirely sure I'm sold on the job anyway (just didn't get that great a vibe from the owner when we talked on the phone). And, if I may fess up here, it has been a damn long time since I've had an interview and the thought is freaking me out.

Does anyone out there want to give me a job? Please? :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Crushpad Crush Camp

Totally looking forward to my first crush! http://www.crushpadwine.com/events

Crushpad was awesome enough to offer a few freebies spots at their Crushcamps, so I snagged a couple for myself & ZinfanHubby. I'm stoked! Trying to figure out what to wear-- I've got the "don't wear nice clothes" bit down, but do I want shorts vs. long pants? Sandals vs. tennies? Help a girl out here, any crush pointers would be mucho appreciated!

I'll try to get some pictures but who knows how safe cameras are around grape juice splatters. Time to make a ZinfanMess of myself.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Paso Robles: Pics & Report

OK, technically our weekend shenanigans didn't take place in Paso Robles-- rather, Templeton is where the fun happened!

After a hot 3 hour drive from the Bay Area, ZinfanHubby & I checked in to our hotel in Paso Robles then set off for a day of wine.

Donati Family Vineyard (http://www.donatifamilyvineyard.com/)
Our first stop was Donati Family, who had warmly invited us via Twitter. They had one of the widest tasting selections ZinfanGirl has ever seen at a winery-- major kudos there! 8 tastes for ten bucks?! I knew even before tasting their wines that this would not be our last visit.
After choosing our 8 tastes (ZinfanHubby got the bulk of the tastes, as ZinfanGirl drew the short straw and was stuck behind the wheel), we embarked on a delightful tour of Donati's grape juice. Standouts included:
  • 2007 Pinot Grigio: absolutely delish! A much more golden hue than I usually see in PGs, and a lovely touch of honey that stops just short of sweet.
  • 2006 Claret: the gentleman providing us with the tastes referred to this one as, "having a Dr. Pepper flavor," and I couldn't have described it better myself. Luckily, Dr. Pepper happens to be my favorite soda. The 45% Cab Sauv was definitely noticeable but not overpowering.
  • 2007 Late Harvest Cabernet Franc: as you all should know by now, I'm not a fan of the sweet stuff. This one was ZinfanHubby's doing choosing, but even I must admit that for a sweeter wine this one was more than tolerable. It had a much lighter mouthfeel than a traditional Port (read: I didn't feel like I was drinking maple syrup). We snagged a bottle of this treat to take home.
I met Brandy, the Twine-O behind Donati's Twitter presence and the one who extended the invite to us. It's always good to put a face with the name, and I look forward to seeing her again soon.

OK, since I've made you people wait long enough, here's some pics:

ZinfanGirl & ZinfanHubby check out the vines. They look good.

Whoa! Wine-o's crossing!

Turley Wine Cellars (www.turleywinecellars.com)
Oh Turley, I'd like to hate you based on your pretentious reputation alone but your wine is just too frickin' yummy. And you love Zinfandel just as much as I do. And since we're members, we had to swing by.

Though not as friendly as Brandy & the crew at Donati, the tasting room staff consisted of a couple of pleasant ladies. ZinfanHubby & I sat quietly to the side while the women told the less knowledgeable people about why Turley is so great. They were pouring four wines that day, all Zinfandels. Yummm! We almost always have a bottle or two of Juvenile on hand, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I most enjoyed the 2006 Dusi vineyard, with its nearly-perfect blend of jam & spice. We were also treated to a couple of tastes not on the tasting menu, which both happened to be my favorites:

  • 2006 Ueberroth Vineyard Zinfandel: a little bit of everything! This wine, made with grapes from a 120 year old vineyard (that's old. Really old. Like, older than ZinfanHubby old.) contains notes of tobacco, spice, herbs and dark red fruit. The finish is like satin. What a treat.

  • White Coat: I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but Turley makes a white wine. It's called White Coat and it is only available for purchase at the winery. This blend of rousanne & granache blanc has a nice, clean finish and very low acid. We nabbed a few bottles of this.

However, the real deal of the day was the Pesenti red wine. I guess Turley had too many non-Turley-worthy grapes and created an inexpensive red blend named after their Pesenti vineyard. At $10 a bottle, we had to buy a case (again, available for sale only at the winery).

Intersection at Turley. Which way do I go?!

I don't think we'd have been able to taste if they weren't...

Four Vines Winery (www.fourvines.com)
Brandy at Donati Family recommended this one to us, and... well let's just say we walked away as their newest club members (called the Four Vines Incident-- how cool is that?!). If I had to recommend one winery in the area to visit, this is it. GO. Do not think twice about it. Their tasting room was under construction, and a good sized crowd was gathered in a dinky back room, but the fun energy was not at all compromised. First of all, they give you their customized wine glasses (collect all 6!) with their rockin' logos on them. ZinfanHubby got one with the anarchy symbol on it, and ZinfanGirl got... wait for it... zinbitch. I have arrived.

OK, cool glasses does not a great wine tasting make. The staff was part biker bar, part Coyote Ugly. With names like Naked, Heretic and Loco, we just knew these wines would be a force to be reckoned with. By this point ZinfanGirl had to slow her tastings down, but wow did we get a lot of tastes! I can't single out one or two or even four as being my favorites; Four Vines as a whole was the highlight of our entire weekend. Fortunately, we ended up joining the Four Vines Incident and walking away with almost a case of wine, a magnum of the Loco, a "zinbitch" shirt for yours truly, a handful of temporary tattoos and of course, our glasses. The one thing we did not leave Four Vines with was pictures-- next time, for sure.

Come evening, it was finally time for some dam fine wine (hey, that rhymes. HEY! That kinda rhymed too!). Castoro was nice responsible enough to send a shuttle to the hotels so us wine lovers didn't risk that horrible drinking & driving stuff. My inner child giggled when their shuttle turned out to be a big yellow schoolbus.

Brief history lesson here: the reason ZinfanHubby & I fell in love with Castoro is because of Horace the beaver. Horace has lived in ZinfanHubby's car since before we met. According to ZinfanLegend, Horace controls the weather by keeping the rain away (did you know beavers build dams because they are psychologically disturbed by running water?!). Yes, ZinfanHubby is a special guy, but that's why we I love him.

It wouldn't be a true Castoro party without our little castor, so Horace came with. The big yellow bus pulled up just as the sun was setting. Castoro-ites moved down the line offering andouille & musard apps, and glasses of their Viognier poured straight from a Rehoboam-- that's like six bottles in one! I knew those cave tours during my stint in Champagne taught me something. One helluva way to get the party started!

The evening progressed with more apps & a delicious BBQ dinner, which was the perfect belly buster for Castoro's selection of red wines (which were flowin' freely, natch). The fun continued with a raffle (we didn't win) and music trivia (we left before the winners were announced). The band was rockin' and everyone was having a good time. ZinfanHubby & I sat back and enjoyed watching the scene. We caught the big yellow bus back to our hotel and called it a (frickin' awesome) day!

ZinfanHubby meets the Rehoboam!

Horace enjoys the dam fine wine from his bretheren.

And the band kept the party going well into the night!

Wow! What a post! So there you have it kids: our weekend in Paso Robles! Can you believe we'll be back down again in November?

Keeping drinking the dam fine wine, from Castoro or wherever. Cheers!

P.S.- If you're a glutton for punishment and need more "ZinfanGirl Does Paso Robles" pictures, please go here: www.tinyurl.com/mbn2yo

Friday, September 18, 2009

Paso Robles, Here We Come!

Next up for ZinfanGirl & ZinfanHubby: Paso Robles! We are members of two Paso Robles wineries:

This weekend is Castoro's club member BBQ. It doesn't start until 6PM on Saturday, so we are heading down early in search of new wines to try (ZinfanGirl may take some time to lounge in the hotel's pool, as temps are expected to hit the 90s). We will stop by Turley either Saturday or Sunday as well, since we will be in the area. Their party isn't until November, which gives us plenty of time to discover the wineries of Paso Robles.

We love Castoro for their amazing quality at amazing prices. ZinfanGirl is looking forward to tasting their new goodies and bringing back a full report for you, my ZinfanReaders.

And by all means, if you have any recommendations of Paso Robles/Templeton area wineries, please send them my way!

Off to drink the Dam Fine Wine!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hunting the Black Chicken, Part II

Wow, I am ZinfanSlacking! But I am determined to punch out the rest of the Black Chicken adventure before ZinfanHubby & I head to Paso Robles this weekend.

So, where were we? Ah yes, leaving Regusci winery...

Next stop: Robert Biale vineyards! ZinfanHubby is responsible for introducing me to this treasure. They are appointment-only, and make extraordinary wines. It's worth a visit just to hear the Black Chicken story (which ZinfanGirl knows, but also knows she will never give it the story-telling justice it deserves).

The party was already underway when Noah & I arrived. The wine was flowin' freely and the food was nothing short of delightful!

After filling our bellies with some of the delicious grub, I showed Noah around Biale's grounds. First was the barrel room:

I suspect the barrels in the foreground were put up to keep Black Chicken Society members from wandering back there...

In addition to big steel tanks, Biale has several wooden barrels. French Oak (I'm assuming it's chêne-- oak) I'd heard of but Hungarian?? Need to look into that one!

Noah was especially striken by the barrels that were literally seeping with the goodness. We tried to guess what wine(s) were in which barrels, how long they had been in there, etc., but never confirmed our guesses. There's always next time!

Aldo & Clementina Biale are the reason the Black Chicken exists. Aldo is now in his 90s! They were graciously signing the souvenier glasses and were such delights to chat with. ZinfanGirl's autographed Biale glass is proudly displayed in her "really frickin' awesome, could never be replaced" collection of glasses (from Porto, Champagne, etc).

And of course, we had to get a picture of ZinfanGirl & Noah:

You can't really tell, but my shirt says, "Zinfandel" and has the Robert Biale logo on the bottom right side. Yes, I did decide to wear the shirt, and I rocked it proudly!!!
OK, enough with the pictures already. Let's talk some wine!!!
Biale was pouring all of their wines, and while Noah indulged himself, ZinfanGirl was on driving duty and hence had to keep her tastings under control (for wine anyway. The food is another story). The most memorable stand-outs:

  • Pollo Bianco: The Pollo Bianco (white chicken) is the only white wine produced by Biale. It is about as good as a Sauvignon Blanc can get. It is always released in limited quantities, so ZinfanHubby & I snag as many as we can. It tastes and looks like summer, and I definitely suggest grabbing some if the opportunity ever arises.

  • Black Chicken: The darling of Biale vineyards, this zinfandel has just enough jam to give it that yum-yum mouth & fruity flavor, yet can easily stand up to spice and BBQ. If I could only drink one wine for the rest of my life, it would probably be Black Chicken (or a Turley zin... nah, it would be Black Chicken).

  • Royal Punishers Petite Sirah: It seems unfair to ZinfanGirl that a winery as small as Biale can make a Petite Sirah just as well as they can make Zin. If you're in the mood for a dark, brooding wine, this is an excellent choice.

  • Stagecoach Zin: The Stagecoach grapes are grown at a higher elevation than Black Chicken. I suggest a side-by-side taste & compare to really note the subtle yet distinct differences in these two Zins.

  • Party Line Zinfandel: Not to be confused with the Party Line Petite Sirah reviewed here. When ZinfanHubby & I visited Biale last May, there was talk that the new Party Line Zin may possibily be more delicious than the Black Chicken. Naturally, this was unacceptable-- nothing could be better than the Black Chicken, they exclaimed! While this wine is a delight, I think their fears were unfounded. Nothing tops Black Chicken!
Noah & I walked away with almost 2 cases of goodness, full bellies, and souvenier glasses (one autographed). ZinfanGirl is proud to have initiated another ZinfanFriend into the world of wine, and is looking forward to returning to Biale very soon!
And if you absolutely must know how Black Chicken got its name, please see http://www.robertbialevineyards.com/blackchicken.html
Squawk squawk!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hunting the Black Chicken, Part I

Hello fellow wine lovers. I have eschewed the urge to go play outside in the sun so that I may give you my rundown of last weekend's trek to Napa. I have lots to tell you about, so please forgive me for cutting this entry into a couple of separate chunks. Part I here will tell you about our day leading up to the BBQ. Part II will conclude with the Biale party itself. Kapeesh? Good.

Friday night/early Saturday morning was something else for the Bay Area. Thunder & lightning shook our city by the bay with a storm far more powerful than any other in ZinfanGirl's memory (remember, she did grow up here). Alas, the rain did not last, and the Napa trip was still on.

ZinfanHubby was unable to accompany me due to a prior engagement, and it was no difficult task to find someone else to take his place. Our dear friend Noah had never been wine tasting before, and ZinfanGirl had every intention to make his intro to the wine world a memorable one. So Saturday morning, just before noon, we crossed two bridges and got on the yellow brick road of Napa wineries, Hwy 29.

The Biale members BBQ didn't start until 1, so we decided to check out a couple of other wineries. I resisted the urge to pop into Stag's Leap Cellars as ZinfanGirl makes it a point to try new things. However, while we were in the Stag's Leap district, we decided to find ourselves some yummy juice, and picked a winery at random...

I had definitely heard of Chimney Rock Winery but was not familiar with their wines. Noah & I sampled the New Release flight:
  • 2007 Elevage Blanc: meritage-style, quite Bordeaux-y, lots of Sauvignon Blanc.
  • 2008 Rosé of Cabernet Franc: a very nice rosé, and by nice, I mean dry. Noah nabbed a bottle of this. This is definitely a summer wine, and has a lovely watermelon hue.
  • 2006 Cab Sauvignon: It was nice, but nothing special (I'm spoiled when it comes to Cabs-- blame all those tastings at Stag's Leap). It didn't seem as rich & velvety as other Stag's Leap Cabs I've had.
  • 2006 Elevage: Another Bordeaux style blend, Chimney Rock's golden child. However, the fact that this was served after the Cab only reaffirmed in my mind that their Cab isn't really all that.
Overall, we enjoyed Chimney Rock but nothing really jumped out as being amazing. The staff was pleasant but not entirely personable; I will give them the benefit of the doubt (the tasting room was a bit crowded that day). The grounds are nice, but ZinfanGirl is partial to wineries with inviting grass/picnic areas. And... well how do I say this diplomatically? Don't go to Chimney Rock planning to buy wines unless you've got a few hundred bucks. This place ain't cheap.
Some pics from Chimney Rock's Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards:

Our next stop was a winery neither of us had heard of. "Hey, what about that one?" my co-pilot asked? So, after completing a U-turn of questionable legality, in we went. Welcome to  Regusci Winery

When we arrived, we were greeted by one of the Regusci residents:

Regusci was packed as well, and we were helped by a friendly Aussie gentleman. We relied heavily on the universal sign language of, "Give me a pour, please!" (a motion resembling tilting a wine glass towards one's mouth, only said wine glass is either imaginery or empty). And then came the wines:

  • Merlot Rosé: This was the first time ZinfanGirl had tried a Merlot rosé. There was quite a bit of talk about Merlot in this winery, I'm thinking it's the Regusci darling.

  • 2006 Merlot: I'm not the hugest Merlot fan, nor do I drink it often, but I must say this one was quite nice. But I remembered exactly why Merlot is considered the red-headed stepchild of the red varietals: there is nothing very special about it. It wants to be loved, and if there is a Merlot to be loved, this one would be up there.

  • 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon: "See?!?" I told Noah, "Cabs are almost always served last!" Again, I felt validated in my initial review of Chimney Rock's Cab. While definitely not a Cask 23, Regusci's Cabernet definitely had that heavy, tannic, velvet goodness that one can only get from a good, strong Cab. It sucked the moisture right off my tongue. It was delicious, but still not enough to sway ZinfanGirl from her wine of choice.

Regusci also sold olive oil, and Noah & I had spotted some olive trees on the grounds (at least, they looked like olive trees). The olive oil was yummy too, but I can't justify spending $20-something on a dinky bottle of olive oil!
OK, dear fans, I will continue with the Hunting of the Black Chicken another time. Cheers!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Review: 2007 Biale Party Line Petite Sirah

In case you couldn't tell, ZinfanGirl has quite a love for Robert Biale & his wines. Yesterday was the members BBQ/pick-up party, and I walked away with quite a take! I will tell my ZinfanReaders all about the party very soon (hopefully tomorrow); alas, for now, I will simply stick with a review to keep you going.

This wine is brand spankin' new. This Petite Sirah joins the Party Line Zinfandel & other amazing Biale wines. While known mainly for their Zins (fear not, ZinfanGirl will post a review of the new Black Chicken release soon!), Biale sure knows their Petite Sirahs & Syrahs. And the new Party Line is no exception.

Inky goodness is dripping down the sides of my glass. Just when I thought you couldn't get a wine with more POW than a Biale Zin, they have to one-up themselves with this pow-a-licious little number. The tannins are mellowed out by luscious black fruit-- any Biale fan will immediately taste and feel similarities (think: blackberry jam) between PLPS and PLZ. Heavier in the mouth than the PLZ, the PLPS is just begging to be invited to your next BBQ. But save the lighter fare for another time, as this wine is best served with real meat: we're talking lamb chops, thick steaks, and any red meat that is best served slightly charred. This wine would easily overpower something delicate like fish or chicken... unless we're talking Black Chicken, of course.

Read more about Biale's Party Line Petite Sirah here.

Open Letter to Hollywood

Dear Hollywood,

You blow my mind. You really do. You can create bomb explosions, alien invasions, and miniature to-scale model cities. So I must ask you this:

Why on earth can't you use/create a realistic fake wine???

I imagine that, after myriad takes, you simply cannot expect your actors to guzzle glass after glass of the delicious grape juice (unless your goal is to have them slurring their words, in which case: may I suggest tequila?). I understand that the only logical thing to do is use some food coloring & water. But you can spend millions of dollars on technical production, computer animation, etc., yet you cannot (or will not) invest enough time, money and/or talent to come up with a believable fake wine?

Case in point: In the last week alone, I have seen episodes of Desperate Housewives (season 3) and Californication (season 1), watched the movie Wall Street, and noticed this totally amateur discrepancy: a green wine bottle pouring out a liquid that could only be described as a rosé. Zinfangirl has had a lot of wine in her life, and has yet to ever see a rosé in dark glass bottles. Why would it be? Is darker glass not reserved specifically for wines that are meant to be stored at room temperature? And is rosé not supposed to be chilled, as in NOT stored at room temp? Surely if you can make audiences believe you just blew up downtown Manhattan, you can make them believe that the characters are drinking the real juice. The stuff you're pouring looks like Kool-Aid, and your target audience is well past that point in their lives (unless there's vodka added in).

Jeez, Hollywood, don't you PAY people to catch these things? And if you do, by all means... I'm available for the position. Clearly, I notice the little things better than your current staff. I'll even work for wine, provided it isn't a rosé from a green bottle.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Review: 2006 Wente Vineyards Counoise

First and foremost, ZinfanGirl asks herself this: has Livermore Valley always been so close by? And why haven't I been there sooner? ZinfanFact: the Girl actually grew up in the same county as Livermore. Granted she was outta there long before her 21st birthday, and as we all know, ZinfanGirl never touched booze before that day... except in Mexico, where the drinking age is 18... and that spring break to Europe when she was 20... OK, there is clearly a reason she isn't called ZinfanAngel. Moving on...

The last time I wrote about Livermore Valley, I expressed my joy at tasting previously unknown varietals (please see Review: Murrieta's Well). This time around, I am sipping another new discovery: Counoise. The gentleman at Wente's tasting room was impressed that I got the pronounciation down pat on the first try and, despite never having heard of it, immediately pegged it as a French grape (ZinfanGirl is happy that her French degree still proves useful from time to time).

Ah, mon petit Counoise! This lovely little grape is used in Rhône valley wines, although its pepper immediately reminded ZinfanGirl of a delightful wine she tasted & bought at a Salon du Vins (wine fair) in Le Mans (Loire Valley, which is known for its sweet Chenin Blancs & is about as far from Rhône as you can get while staying in France). The wine was purchased and given to ZinfanBro without first recording the name, vintner, and other pertinent information. ZinfanBro was given a ZinfanWhooping when he confessed he and a friend drank said wine after the beer had run out one night & they were too drunk to drive to get more. ZinfanFURY!!! But again, I disgress, and the morale of this story is that I was delighted to finally find once again what I thought I had lost forever: that unknown, peppery red wine.

So, back to Wente: the label claims, "aromas of cherry, red licorice and graham. Flavors of candied cherry, red berry, and hints of vanilla and toasted oak..." No pepper? Srsly? That's the first thing I taste (followed closely by the cherry). And how on earth can a French varietal have notes of graham? If you ever have the chance, ask a French person what a graham cracker is-- you will get the same puzzled expression, I imagine, that I am still wearing (seriously, no pepper!?).

Tannins and acidity are mild, and this wine tastes & feels much lighter than it looks. It isn't very "earthy" or, as ZinfanHubby says, "dirty," as I suspect the French Counoises are. This is a good alternative to white or rosé on a warm afternoon (or maybe I am just telling myself this to justify drinking at 1:30PM). I'm recalling a lovely duck confit & candied cherry salad I had not too long ago and think this wine would pair perfectly with such a dish-- something light and berry-centric without being too sweet.

Oh Livermore, thank you so very much for introducing me to these new treasures. I'm so happy we're neighbors :)

Review: Morro Bay Vineyards 2007 Chardonnay

Yet another bottle of BBQ leftover wine. We have the best guests ever, they know me & ZinfanHubby all too well!

This Chard has been sitting in our fridge getting nice & chilly while ZinfanHubby & I battled some kind of infection all week. Wines, unlike friends & family, don't suddenly disappear when we get contagious-- my own ZinfanMama won't even hug me when I'm sick! Rather, the bottles sit, waiting patiently, and are all too willing to embrace us the second we feel (or think we feel) better.

I've been to Morro Bay (the city, not the winery) once. Cute, kinda sleepy little beach town not too unlike Half Moon Bay. I wouldn't have guessed there are wineries there, but considering its position between Monterey (which has wineries cropping up like wildflowers) and Santa Barbara (hello, Sideways!) it isn't surprising. I guess grape vines, like ZinfanGirl herself, are partial to the lovely California coast. Alas, I digress!

Let's see how badly the bug affected my nose & palate... it has the nice, crisp smell of well, a Chardonnay. Slightly sweet, slightly acidic, just enough oak, slight hint of creamy... butter? sweet? I dunno, it's just... creamy (maybe my nose has been affected-- that, or my wine description vocab). It is very light for a Chard, just enough of that signature Chardonnay golden hue coming through, but on sight one could almost mistake it for a Sauvignon Blanc.

This wine is crisp all throughout, but a bit acidic for my taste. The creamy smell was indeed butter; its taste hits about halfway down the mouth and gives the wine a nice mouthfeel. I'm getting two distinct flavors here: the acidity of fruit-- light fruits, maybe apples & pears?-- and the creaminess. Both are balanced, neither one dominates the other, yet they just don't... mesh. It's like sipping 2 different wines altogether.

Verdict: I'd prefer if the butter were more forward and the finish more crisp, but meh. Like I said, I didn't buy this wine, and I probably wouldn't again having tasted it. It has its upsides, and if you're a Chard fan it might be worth giving it a go (although I couldn't find a website for Morro Bay vineyards, I'd bet my money-- no pun intended-- that this wine was purchased at a grocery store for under $15). ZinfanGirl is not the biggest Chard fan, and this certainly isn't the wine to change her mind.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Biale Pick-Up Party: Saturday, Sept. 12th

Hello wine lovers! Anyone heading to any pick-up parties this weekend? ZinfanGirl is off to Napa this Saturday to celebrate the new releases with Robert Biale Vineyards. ZinfanHubby is unable to attend so I will be attending with another partner in crime. However, he has asked me to bring back two cases of Black Chicken booty.

So, being the (semi)fashion-conscious girl that I am, I'm wondering: Would it be tacky for ZinfanGirl to sport her Biale "Zinfandel" shirt to the pick-up party? It's a cute shirt, and black too, which is a sure-fire way to avoid red wine stains! Obviously I wouldn't wear the shirt to another winery's event!

What do you think: fashion faux-pas, or fashionably fabulous? I only have 3 days left to decide!

Attention Twine-o's!

A friend posted some funny new Twitter vocab the other day. I am proud to say I have created a Tword too. Yes, all you Twine-o's, you heard it from ZinfanGirl first! Are you following @zinfangirl on Twitter yet?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Review: 2007 Murrieta's Well Zarzuela

A couple of weeks back, ZinfanHubby & I ventured to the Livermore wineries for the first time. Having grown up not far from the region, it still seemed odd to me that this neck of the Bay could behold anything more than farmland and windmills (Wiki entry: Altamont Pass). Alas, ZinfanGirl now stands corrected, and happily so.

We were besides ourselves with this whole new viti-world that was not any further away than the more popular Napa & Sonoma regions. And when I say besides ourselves, I mean that we walked away with a lot of booty. And I am happy to add yet another region to my ever-expanding list of "Where I've Tasted" wineries.

We hit up the trifecta of Wente, Murrieta's Well and Tamas Estate. According to some friends, we need to check out the "off the beaten path" wineries (which ZinfanHubby & ZinfanGirl much prefer) next time we go, and offered to show us their favorite hidden gems. Huzzah for ZinfanFriends!

Commercial or not, all three wineries scored some points in my book. While Livermore valley Zins are not as-- attention-grabbing, for lack of a better term-- as our beloved Napa juice, they offered plenty of interesting blends and varietals. I am already looking forward to going back!

ZinfanGirl's first Livermore Valley victim-- er, review-- comes from Murrieta's Well. Zarzuela, wha?? Meaning "operetta" in Spanish, this wine is a blend of Spanish & Portugeuse varietals: Touriga Nacional, Tempranillo, Souzao and Touriga Francesca. I'd only ever heard of Tempranillo-- ZinfanGirl clearly needs to get with the global wine program! But the instant I tasted it, I was reminded of my time in Porto, Portugal. Obviously this wine is not port (you will soon learn the ZinfanGirl is not a port fan, and you will rarely see it mentioned here), but the texture immediately revealed its heritage. Unlike many reds, this is a perfect wine for a sunny afternoon and would pair perfectly with light tapas and a siesta. Purple hues and a light mouth are the first noticeable qualities of this wine; a lovely mix of a delicate fruit forward and strong spice finish make it a wine worth remembering. It is, to say the least, a complex wine, one that is sure to delight even veteran wine drinkers who perhaps have given up on finding anything new. And at $30 a bottle, it is a hell of a lot cheaper than a trip to Europe!

Review: 2005 Estancia Shiraz

Slacker? Not me. Especially not when sunny 3-day weekends are involved. Rest assured that ZinfanGirl is never far from the festivies! Being quite the hosts, ZinfanGirl & ZinfanHubby were busy with BBQs, bocce tourneys and poker this weekend. The best thing about hosting parties? All the leftover wine is OURS! *triumphant ZinfanGiggle*

I have actually been keeping a log of recent wine reviews, and will eventually get them all up here. Please check back later this week as I plan on posting many reviews on the site.

Reviewing wine is something I'm still shaky on. Is it possible to be "wrong" about a review? What if I hate a wine everyone else loves, or vice versa? Wine reviewers, please, send your input on this subject my way. And everyone else, please critique my reviews and let me know what I should elaborate on more (or less). I am counting on YOU, my readers, to get better at this whole review thing. See, ZinfanGirl is a nice girl at heart, and fears the day she has to write, "This wine is crap."

So here is today's review: 2005 Estancia Shiraz. A deep, purple-maroon is exactly the color I would expect from this wine. The dark fruit flavors are accentuated with an earthy taste; the wine gets its POW! in its strong back and tingly, lasting finish. Although this Shiraz is from California, every time I sip I can see why it is the wine associated with Aussies: it just begs to be served with a bold, robust meat dish such as lamb or ribs. Overall, it is a great wine to bring to a BBQ, and won't break the bank (BevMo has it on sale for $7.99, $5 off the regular price). But definitely serve it with a well-seasoned, slightly charred chunk of red meat-- this wine would drown out delicate flavors of fish or chicken, and I definitely would not classify it as a wine suitable for serving with dessert (maybe with a dark chocolate-- 80% cacao).

ZinfanHubby has just informed me that Estancia is a member of Constellation, and that we are entitled to tastings & discounts there through our other wine club memberships. Definitely something to keep in mind, as I've been wanting to check out the Central Coast wineries for quite some time now.