Recently I enjoyed another wonderful evening with my dear friends. As busy women we need the occasional “Ladies Night Out” to bond and connect. We meet for lunch frequently but sometimes friendship and laughter needs a little wine. A member of our HCV group and her husband bought and moved into a new house in late August. Before we have a couple’s night of fun at their new house we had to christen the house with a LNO! Late on the afternoon of our gathering a thunderstorm moved through the Dallas Metroplex with the fury of the end of days. (If you have never been in a Texas thunderstorm you have NEVER been in a thunderstorm!) What would normally be a 60 min drive in rush hour traffic from my house to their house ended up taking me 2 hours! Tree branches were in roads and highways, traffic lights and power were out all over the city, it was madness. Not only was the drive horrific, but my friends who lived closer and arrived sooner than were in distress because I had the wine! After 90 minutes of bumper to bumper traffic I was seriously contemplating digging out the corkscrew I keep in my purse and opening up a bottle while on the road. Yes friends, it was that bad! Upon all of our safe arrival we began our evening Skyping one of members in from Houston while we toured and blessed the new house. After that it was on to dinner and wine!
An area fine wine and liquor chain recently opened in my neighborhood. This retailer was established at the turn of the 20th century and has 11 stores in the Dallas Metroplex. It is not a retailer I frequent by any means but since it opened a small store in a shopping center right by my house I had to go in and take a look. Though I did find the three exceptional wines I share below, overall it was quite a disappointing experience. The store was easily 75% liquor, had un-tinted windows covering the front and side of the store as well as un-competitive prices on their wine. Additionally, a very nice clerk asked me several times if I needed any help but when I finally asked him what he knew about the Australian wine I bought he said he did not know much about wine. This is the problem with many wine retailers in the US and it drives me CRAZY! The clerk may not have known what he was doing but I sure knew what I was doing… SO, back to the friendship, dinner and wine!
Loring Wine Company 2011 Rosella’s Vineyard Pinot Noir: This wine was crafted from 100% Pinot Noir grapes grown in Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County. It poured a vibrant ruby into the glass. On the nose it offered bright aromas of cherries, red raspberries, dark chocolate, toasted hazelnuts and spice. These aromas followed through on the palate adding pomegranate, plum, crushed stone, a hint of smoky tobacco with a hint of cayenne pepper and lime zest on the back of the tongue. This was a complex pinot noir with layers of flavors that continued to evolve over the course of the evening. The tannins were full yet tame and well balanced with an acidity that lingered in the mouth. This full body pinot noir contained 14.9% alcohol and was aged for 10 months in French oak with 33% being new oak. I must say it was quite unusual but definitely a hit with all of us. I highly recommend this wine! SRP $40. Click here to find it or order direct from Loring Wine Company.
Margerum M5 2012 Santa Barbara County: This was a Rhône style blend crafted from 5 grapes in 9 vineyards to produce 1 wine. The grapes in this wine were: 43% Grenache, 41% Syrah, 9% Mouvedre, 4% Counoise, 3% Cinsault. This wine was a deep ruby/light garnet color with purple highlights that met the nose with an array of aromas including red fruits, candied violets, spice and pepper. On the palate this wine also offered a complexity of layers from ripe red cherries, plums, blackberry jam, licorice, balsamic glaze, pepper and toasted oak. It offered a well balanced full body lingering finish that contained rustic acidity and round tannins. It contained 14.1% alcohol. From the rear label, “M5 is a wine that is from a thought, a blend that is an amalgamation of memories, both distant and recent, from the numerous wines I’ve tasted and loved.” We all loved it too. I recommend this wine! SRP $20. Click here to find this wine.
Groom 2011 Barossa Valley Bush Bloc Zinfadel: This was the wine I asked the store clerk about. I know the Barossa Valley is a great wine growing region in Australia and I will often buy a wine I am unfamiliar with from a region I know to be high quality. I was not familiar with Groom and certainly never had a zin from Australia. This wine poured an inky dark reddish purple into the glass. It met the nose with vibrant aromas of dark red fruit, spice and pepper. On the palate this zinfandel wonderfully delivered full flavors of ripe black cherries, roasted cranberries, pomegranate wrapped around spice, pepper and a lovely minerality. It offered a full mouth feel of vibrant flavors wrapped in refined tannins and lingering acidity. One of my friends said to me this wine is really good, what type of wine is it. I replied it’s a Zinfandel from Australia. She said zinfandel? I don’t like zinfandel. Then she poured another glass. We did not finish this bottle so I left it with my friend. She loved it. In fact we all loved it! This wine contained 13.9% alcohol. Please Google to find this wine. It is still available at many small retailers throughout the US. SRP $20. I recommend this wine.
Our meal was delicious and paired well with each of these three wines! We enjoyed grilled steak, amazing au gratin potatoes, and salad that included butter lettuce, roasted black mission figs, candied walnuts, crumbled gorgonzola and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. For dessert we enjoyed an amazing dark chocolate, flourless molten lava cake! I am sorry to say I got so caught up in the delicious wine and dessert pairing that I forgot to take a picture!
My Song Selection: The song I have chosen to pair with this wonderful evening of friendship, food and wine is Days Like This by Van Morrison. I believe this evening was one of the days he speaks about in the song. No one is in a hurry or frustrated or unhappy, we were just all very happy to be together. Regardless of what it took to get there, it was all worth it!
Get your own bottles of Loring Wine Company 2011 Rosella’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, Margerum M5 2012, and Groom 2011 Barossa Valley Bush Bloc Zinfandel, share them with your friends, and let me know what song you would pair with them. Cheers!