Ode to An Old Soul: Vintage Tastes in Vino

Chardonnay, a true golden oldie.

Virgin Chardonnay from Naked Winery: Because Winemakers Just Wanna Have Fun!

Just because something is old doesn’t necessarily make it a classic. Beringer White Zinfandel, one of the top-selling wines in the US, might be an old, familiar favorite, but in my personal opinion it’s not a classic, just a convenient go-to wine. While some styles of wine might not be trendy at the moment, it doesn’t mean they’re not good. Here at The Rambling Vine, I want to celebrate the grand flavors that have saturated my palate and broadened my perspective on a particular varietal. I also like to pay tribute to wines that sealed the deal for friends and family members.

My husband’s absolute favorite chardonnay happens to be made in a style that is currently not as popular as it might have been a couple decades ago: oaked. This is not surprising. He is an old soul, preferring classic rock bands like Jethro Tull, Rush, and Queen to more contemporary music (when we were dating, I had to educate him on the true bands of our youth, like Soundgarden, Weezer, Spice Girls, wait, nevermind). But he knows a good thing when he experiences it, and when he first sipped this wine, I could tell this was the best Chardonnay he’d ever had!

Today’s chardonnay drinkers generally favor the kind that has fermented in stainless steel casks, which give the wine a completely different, lighter character (some of which are good). So if you’re on the other end of the spectrum and prefer buttery, rich, hefty white wines, you’ll want to try this!

Naked Winery’s Library 2007 Virgin Chardonnay ($35 per bottle) is heavily oaked (it spends 17 months fermenting in new oak) and very tasty. The oak is rewarding to this wine. It is “a velvety and youthful wine” that possesses an “extremely tantalizing bouquet. Its soft tannins, creamy butterscotch and vanilla flavors will delight and excite you. It ends with a memorable sweetness. Enjoy strong flavors of pear, papaya and vanilla. Spicy Thai dishes will be just right with this wine.” Smooth, rich, thick, complex; a standout wine, it is not to be missed.

Another reason we really like this wine is the winery: Naked Winery. If you’re out and about gallivanting through Oregon, stop by Hood River and linger in the Naked Winery tasting room. Try everything they offer! But be warned, we tried close to 12 different wines, so don’t overdo it; use that spit bucket so you don’t do anything you would be ashamed of. This place makes awesome wines and they have FUN while doing it. Who else would paraphrase Madonna on the back of their bottle? “Enjoy this Virgin like it was the very first time.” The only thing they take absolutely seriously is their winemaking craft. After they create a great product, they are excited to share it with you and answer all your questions. Each wine name and description oozes sexual innuendo (they even have Orgasmic! Wine – to be reviewed later). They have been criticized for this by some in certain snooty wine circles, who obviously don’t have a sense of humor. Pshaw, let’s just support them all the more! Down with wine snobbery and puffery!

They also vehemently support the use of wine to aid in la romanza.

When the mood strikes and all the stars align to enjoy a particularly special bottle of wine, indulge in this exquisite, classic Chardonnay! Our life is made up of a series of delicious moments, might as well have a rich one.

© Brenna Arnesen and The Rambling Vine, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brenna Arnesen and The Rambling Vine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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A Matter of Trust

Leo, master of the phrase “Do you trust me?” (I think Kate is relaxed only because she’s monkeyed  up… and Celine Dion is cooing romantically in the background.)

Trust Cabernet Sauvignon

Trust me: one of those phrases that is easy to ask of another yet difficult to do when you yourself are asked. Trust is a word that carries with it a lot of weighted implications… who or what you put your trust in reveals who or what you deem worthy of trust. Trusting too easily can signify a naivete or intentionally turning a blind eye to foibles, while failing to trust reputable, good, honorable people and things will mean you’ll go through life without taking risks and developing little faith. Without getting into further philosophical babbling, let me be bold enough to ask you to trust me (no, no teetering on ship balconies involved, you can relax) on this wine recommendation: this wine is dynamite. It is pure, delicious indulgence, and people will grow to trust your wine recommendations when you tell them about Trust Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon.

This is a wine that begs to be decanted. Only when you let it breathe will you be completely overwhelmed by its sheer power and finesse. The first time I tried it my in-laws were gracious enough to bring some over to our house for dinner, and it instantly became one of my new favorite wines. Then, when my dear friend bought me a decanter, we had a bottle that we poured in, let it decant a couple hours, and wow! This wine unfolded like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. Let it stretch its gorgeous, stunning wings. It has all the right stuff of a top-notch Washington Cabernet Sauvignon. Perfection!

As the tasting notes gush, “We are greeted here with a nose full of cherry cordials: high-cacao chocolate, Kirsch, and a pie cherry in the middle. The fruit here (cassis, plum, and black cherry) has purity and focus, and it is framed by fresh notes of eucalyptus and green tea. This is balanced, elegant, food-friendly Cabernet: moderate in body, acid, tannin, and alcohol.” The 2007 blend is currently sold out, according to the website. Seattle Magazine has voted Trust Cellars “Best Washington Wine” for 2011.

Wine can bring us together around its delicious self, and, perhaps in a very small way, help us to understand each other better and work on our trust. I’m not advocating for drunken debauchery, of course, but strangers or friends enjoying a glass of fine wine together is a deliberate act of peacekeeping. Wine can’t save us from ourselves or save the world, but it can at least help smooth the way.

Puget Sounders, make it a point to visit their Woodinville, WA tasting room. When I went there I experienced fantastic wines, friendly service, and excellent education on their wines. Their Riesling is also lovely, pick that up, too!

May we all embrace the gift of trust.

© Brenna Arnesen and The Rambling Vine, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brenna Arnesen and The Rambling Vine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

That’s Amore: Good Things Come in Threes With Tre Amore

“When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine that’s amore” ~ Dean Martin

Spicy, Sexy, Sultry: Wow, All Three?

They say that bad things come in threes and that three is a crowd. But they also say that third time’s the charm. Regardless of your personal superstitions surrounding the number three, don’t let them get in the way of trying Chateau Faire Le Pont’s 2007 Tre Amore red blend, which consists of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Sangiovese, and 21% Merlot.

From the tasting notes: “Cabernet Sauvignon from Steve Elerding’s Desert Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills blended with Milbrandt Vineyard’s Sangiovese and Merlot from the Wahluke Slope. Marries intensity and elegance. Full-bodied, rich and layered. Delivering a combination of red and black fruit flavors, the blackberries, black currants, raspberries and chocolate covered cherries meld perfectly with the mocha hazelnut aromas and velvety tannins on the long, smooth finish.” $40 per bottle on the winery’s website.

(Ahem) Did you notice the names I underlined above? A little advice: those are all really good names to look for when you’re selecting a fine Washington wine, as they are all excellent vineyards and AVAs in Washington state (an AVA is an American Viticultural Area, or a designation regarding recognized winemaking regions of the United States).

Wahluke Slope is one of my favorite AVAs. We also vacation there each summer with our dear friends who love Budweiser, hate wine, but love soaking up the sun, and that’s all the grapes do there, too… soak up absurd amounts of sunshine until they are dark, juicy and sugary-plump on the vine like fat chocolate truffles. The reward is BOLD, rich, delicious wines.

When my husband and I tasted Tre Amore last summer in Wenatchee (the home of Chateau Faire Le Pont’s winery and tasting room), it blew our minds. Plain and simple. As if that weren’t enough, Tre Amore took home the gold at the Beverage Testing Institute for 2010. We have a winner, folks!

Make sure to drink it soon, or cellar it properly according to the winery’s instructions. Introduce this wine to a steak with sautéed Portobello mushrooms or some pasta with marinara sauce and fresh herbs. Does life get any better than fine meals like this?

I will have more reviews coming soon for other wines from Chateau Faire Le Pont. One of my personal favorite wineries! You truly can’t go wrong with anything there.

Now that’s amore!

© Brenna Arnesen and The Rambling Vine, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brenna Arnesen and The Rambling Vine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Tumult of Tannins: Darby Winery Harnesses Chaos in a Bottle

One of my least favorite womanly chores is untangling the jewelry in my jewelry box. It’s tedious, frustrating, and an inevitable reality. But hand me another female’s jewelry box, and I’m captivated. Digging through someone else’s jewelry box is like a grown-up treasure hunt: you carefully handle each piece, admiring it and imagining how you would wear it or repurpose it (or how much you could sell it for). It’s kind of like that when drinking Darby Winery’s 2008 Chaos Red Wine Blend from the Columbia Valley… you sip it, and try to sort out all the wonderful, mesmerizing flavors dancing around in your mouth.

I’m a little rusty, but I believe Chaos is somewhere in the $30-$40 range (don’t quote me) and you can purchase it at their Woodinville tasting room. Darby Winery in Woodinville is one I highly recommend. Darby has superbly crafted Washington red blends of which I am in awe, including one called Purple Haze (how awesome is that? It tastes awesome, too… to be reviewed later). Chaos’ Bordeaux-style lineup includes 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 17% Malbec. It is a clever, exquisite, intentional blend that delivers very well on the palate.

For some reason, I liked this wine better in the tasting room than when I opened it at home. Sometimes this happens, even when you take great pains to preserve a wine well and go through the trouble of decanting it. Decanting simply means pouring your bottle of wine into a glass or crystal decanter, and allowing oxygen to work its magic on the wine and expand and develop its flavors into a magnificent palate. You will taste a pronounced difference, especially with fine red wines.

Here is a quick, “CliffsNotes” primer on how you should store your wine, particularly a fine red such as Chaos (but don’t sue me if you buy an expensive bottle and it spoils… ask the winery how to store it properly and when to drink it):

1) Dark
2) Store bottle sideways
3) Cool temps, doesn’t rise above mid-sixties Fahrenheit
4) Dry, not too humid
5) No major fluctuations in the above listed

Serious wine collectors will opt for climate-controlled wine cellars to protect their investment. If you can get one, more power to you! But for everyday folks like you and me, for whom a $30-$40 bottle of wine is about as wild and crazy a splurge as we make these days, anywhere in your home that has these traits should suffice. Check out OUR makeshift wine cellar!

Arnesen Wine Cellars, Coat Closet, Washington. Various appellations.

Nevertheless, Darby’s Chaos is an exceptional and impressive wine that you red wine lovers will adore. It will earn a permanent spot in your wine cellar treasure chest.

*FYI, if you’re looking for a simple yet elegant way to store your wine, these wine cubes were designed by master designer Rich Jamieson of Jamieson Imports, Inc. He does custom furniture as well, so you can have a custom wine cellar made for you, as well as a fully custom furnished home!

© Brenna Arnesen and The Rambling Vine, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brenna Arnesen and The Rambling Vine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.