May your heart always be joyful

It’s been a little while since I talked about wine.  It just takes a little more time to talk about wine.  I have to refer back to scraps of paper, sticky notes on the iPhone and handouts from the winery.  All are barely legible so it’s always an adventure.  Not now though, I’ve got a new toy.  Corkbin.  This is an idiot proof (almost) application that allows me to take a picture of the wine label and then type in a few notes on the wine.  It’s darned near fool proof.  And I mean Fool proof.  The only real opportunity for screw up is if you can’t get a clear picture.  And sometimes you think you have a clear picture but really, you don’t.

I’ve only had two days off in the last month.  June 19th and July 5th.  Yep, the 5th not the 4th.  I held an open house on July 4th just like I did last year.  I get really good turn out on Fourth of July open houses.  21 parties through.  That’s a rockin’ turn out.  I took the next day off.  Didn’t even fire up the computer, that much off.  The day off before that was Keenan’s Annual Summer Picnic.  If you belong to their wine club or know someone who does, you get to go.  I love Keenan.  They’re still in a barn.  No high end la-di-da tasting room.  No bull shit.  Just great wine.  Sonofabun got a day pass and off we went.  Neither of us are oyster lovers, but they had an oyster bar for those of you who are.  And a taco station.  And grilled sausauges.  And grilled chicken strips.  And because it’s Keenan, they had some of the best wine you’ll get in the valley.  Michael was downstairs in the barrel room with his wine thief serving up barrel tastings of his futures.  I have two clone futures I bought a few years ago.  Retail on them is around $200 right now.  I got them for $65 each.  It’s going to be another good release year for Keenan.  They continue to do great things in wine.  They’re up Spring Mountain Road and then up a little tiny one lane road that veers to the right.  Like it used to be.  All I have to say to Michael is “stay independent”.

Sonofabun and me have a game we play.  Sometimes we will go to the old steady Eddies, but sometimes we play this game where we can’t go to a winery we’ve been to before.  We’ll drive down 29 or Silverado Trail saying “Have you been there?” Yep.  “How about there?” Nope.  And in we go.  That’s how we found Benesserre.  Their wine dog is a Newfie.  I love their Zinfandel.  But we’d been there so we couldn’t go there.  We drove past a number of wineries before we had a winner.  Wm. Harrison.   They have a small tasting room and then some tables out on the deck that you can taste at.  Out on the deck in 90 degree weather.  We stayed inside.  Their 2006 Cabernet Franc is a beautiful wine.  Roasted coffee and spice, dark cherries and a very nice finish.  It made me want to sit down to a nice roasted dinner.  Exceptional wine for the $45 price tag.  Although I think I’m on a bit of a Cab Franc jag these days.  Their 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon was a very nice offering as well.  I think that one’s their flagship.  Dark fruit, vanilla, leather and a nice finish.  My favorite was the 2008 Pinot Noir.  They source that fruit from the Sonoma Coast, always a good choice.  It’s a smoky Pinot.  I got plums, chocolate and some Dr. Pepper in it.  Nice mouthfeel, gentle finish.  They said it was a Pinot that could lay down for a while.  I could see that.

We proceeded down the Silverado Trail “Yep”, “Yep”, “Yep”.  And then there it was, rising out of the mountain.  Nope.  Nope.  We made a quick left and headed up the hill to Signorello.  When we arrived at the top of the hill we found an Estate.  My gut thought with all this structure, I’m worried about the quality of the wine.  No need to worry.  Their winemaker Pierre Birebent is an amazing talent.  He’s been there since 1998 which I think is important for knowing the terroir and then ultimately the wine.  Like William-Harrison they don’t make a lot of wine.  They just make a lot of really good wine.  We started with the 2008 Seta, a Semillon/Sauv blanc blend.  An unusual blend and an unusual wine.  I wanted seared scallops immediately.  There was an air of lemon curd in this wine but the finish was minerally…with a touch of honey.  It wasn’t like anything I’ve had before but it was something that I would love to have again.  The 2007 Chardonnay was a Chardonnay the way the French make them.  Funny enough, Pierre is French.  Not one of those big buttery oaky bombs.  Nope, this was an elegant Chardonnay, bright fruit, crisp on the tongue even a bit of light spice on it.  Then we moved on to the 2007 Pinot Noir, Las Amigas Vineyard.  This was more of a typical California Pinot when I was by now expecting French barnyard since that’s how they like their Pinots.  Bright fruit, strawberry, raspberry creme.  Vanilla finishs off a nice wine with beautiful mouthfeel.  The 2007 Zinfandel was a party in a glass.  There was vanilla, eucalyptus, earth, sweetness, chocolate you name it.  It had the potential for a lot of high heat but it didn’t do that.  Very nice finish.  They have their Kobe and Cab club and I wanted some Kobe beef to go with that Zin put on the grill for me RIGHT THEN.  The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate was quite an interesting wine.  I felt in needed to lay down for about five to ten years to realize what it’s really going to be.  I heard a winemaker say that “wine was a living organism” the other day.  It really is.  And like any living organism it changes over time.  I thought more time in the bottle was going to make this wine absolutely amazing.  It is currently a little young and feisty.  Dark raspberries, caramel, leather, a little tight on the end, but I really think time in the bottle will remedy that in this highly complex, well structured wine.  Signorello’s Frenchman is quite a talent.  I hope we don’t have too many more days where we can’t go to somewhere we’ve been before because I really want to go back to Signorello.  Actually I could live there.  Maybe be their Wine dog.  Me and Bubba and Rita and Ike.  We’d just wander the vineyards and the cellars and take care of stuff that needs taking care of.  Yeah, that’s it.

That’s the other thing.  These wine posts get really long.  Do y’all actually read through all of this?  I kind of feel like Ferris Bueller.

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