My good friend Kat was kind enough to invite me to her girl’s wine night a few weeks ago. Since I’d just started this feature here at the blog, I commandeered the night and suggested we each bring a bottle of red wine, under $10 of course. (The next day, I apologized – but the die had been cast and all was set.)
These gals are old friends, and have been gathering on a semi-regular basis for a few years to drink wine and eat nibbles and talk about everything under the sun. I was the beginner infiltrating their ranks. While I had some surprises in store, I think it went very well in the end.
I arrived at 4:30 sharp with my bottle to find Patti there before me and Kat dealing with a passel of kids (Patti and Kat’s daughters are in dance class together). Soon Kelly arrived (who was Kat’s daughter’s kindergarten teacher, if I’ve got this straight…) and all the wine was there. Four bottles. Four women. Lots and lots of yummy finger foods spread out on the table in front of us. I suggested to Kat that we open all the bottles and allow the oxygen to at least start the airing process. I glanced at the clock – almost five.
At any rate – let’s get to the wine, shall we? We went from the lightest to the heaviest.
Wine #1: Estancia Pinot Noir, 2009 Monterey County, Pinnacles Ranches Normally $14.99, on sale at Vons for $9.99
On the Label: “Displays luscious berry flavors, spice and a rich, supple finish.” The winery’s website here.
This wine gave me a handle on the women I sipped with. One loved it – it was light in flavor and easy for her to drink. Another one was so so about it – neither loving nor hating it. The third found it unremarkable, and easy to forget. Me? It made a nice sipping wine. It didn’t need food. All in all, a nice, undemanding wine to start the evening.
My Rating: ~Drinkable~
Wine #2: Clos du Bois, 2007 Shiraz, North Coast Regularly $14.99, on sale for $7.49 at Vons.
On the Label: “This spicy, peppery Shiraz tastes of wild raspberries and blackberries with expressive layers of ground pepper and licorice. An approachable wine that pairs well with grilled pork or roast duck.”
The pepper was there, the color was gorgeous – a nice, deep ruby. We didn’t taste the berries in the wine, but it went great with cheese and crackers. A good food wine.
The consensus: Three of us really liked it, especially at almost half price. The fourth found it too big and bold a wine.
My Rating: ~Very Drinkable~
Wine #3: Santa Rita Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Do. Valle Del Maipo – Chile, 2008 I don’t have a cost on this, but I know it was under the $10 limit.
On the Label: “Superb quality and craftsmanship are the hallmarks of Santa Rita, one of Chile’s most admired and innovative wine estates. Ripe black fruit, plums and herbs.”
By this time we’d gotten comfy. Shoes were kicked off, hair let down, and we were chatting nine to the dozen. The wine got a critical reception and I’m not sure if it was because I kept dragging the conversation back to it, or because of the topic I’d interrupted (something about men, of course). At any rate, it wasn’t as well received as the Shiraz. It needed more airing, said one person. It had a funny aftertaste, said another. It’s better with food – especially meat, I said after stuffing a slice of salami in my mouth.
The consensus? Perhaps it needed a couple more years, or an aerator, or a big meal of steaks and potatoes and candlelight. But I got the feeling that none of us would necessarily rush out and buy a bottle.
My rating: ~Drinkable~
It wasn’t until after that third wine that I looked around. Six p.m. Kat’s hubby had come and gone, wrangling their sons. Patti’s hubby came to take the girls to dance, and vowed to be back to pick her up so she didn’t have to drive. We were even more comfy, dug deep into cushiony couches or chairs, sipping and nibbling for all we were worth. I sent out a tentative feeler. “So how late does this go? I’ll need to make dinner for my family tonight.”
Three people sent me shocked looks. “Dinner?” “No way.” “They can fend for themselves for one night.” “We’re here until about nine.”
Gulp. Nine? As in p.m.? I’d told my family I’d be home around 6:30p. Seriously? These were hard core wine night gals, for sure! I knew then I couldn’t begin to keep up. I also felt like I’d stepped in it, but as I poured the last wine I was totally forgiven as the conversations started up again.
The fourth wine we tasted was from Kat’s special stock and I believe was the reason they got together to drink wines to begin with, to share the wine. She belongs to a couple of wine clubs, and a good bottle of wine is a terrific reason to have a wine night. Can’t say I disagree with her! So, for the first time I will profile a wine that is over – WAY over – $10 a bottle.
Wine #4 Bridlewood Zinfandel 2005 Santa Ynez Valley – approx $40
On the Label: “Located in the emerging Santa Ynez Valley, Bridlewood Estate Winery is an artisan winemaking facility focused on making award-winning, Rhone-style wines.”
My first taste of the wine was heaven. I stopped writing words down. Everyone, even the gal who prefers lighter wines, liked this wine. Maybe it was the years on it – a 2005 bottle is hard to find in the grocery store. Maybe it was the Rhone-style production. Maybe it was because by this point, I’d had a full glass of wine? I’m not sure. But we all loved it. LOVED it. The expensive wine got the Wine of the Night designation.
It was a wowser and unfortunately, since I didn’t write down any distinguishing characteristics of it, I can’t pass those on to you. I don’t think you can even find Bridlewood at the local wine shop. I believe it’s one of those boutique wineries, the wines available at the winery or through their wine club exclusively.
While this was a very very good wine, it was not yet in the “slut” category for me (as in, “This is MY wine you slut, get your own!), but I’ve got a post coming up on wines that do hit that category so be on the lookout!
My Rating: ~Very, very drinkable!~ I guess I now have a new category, lol!
Recap: It was wonderful if a bit overwhelming to share four totally different bottles of wine with four totally different personalities. I think, if I’m ever lucky enough to be allowed back, that I won’t schedule anything silly like dinner for the family. And I’ll never again suggest we each bring a bottle of wine – my mouth went on overload.
As usual, this is my opinion and my taste buds. Your taste buds may vary. If you do choose to pick up a bottle on my recommendation, please remember to drink responsibly!
~ Christine ~
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Have you read DEMON SOUL yet? You can find it at Crescent Moon Press orAmazon.com. Happy Reading!
Great list! Can’t wait to check some of them out.
Thanks! Let me know if anything stands out to you.
Eeeks I didn’t realize it was a $40 bottle. I think you’re right. Who wouldn’t come to a wine and cheese night if I’m serving up those kinds of goods?! Only someone who didn’t like wine… I’m guessing. Yes, of course you are invited back. It gets tougher in July since the nights are hotter. May have to inch the air condo up to full. I would agree that we shouldn’t have 4 bottles. 3 will do. Err… or just 2 if we want to behave.
*fyi-behaving is highly overrated*
I thought that’s what you told me?!! I’ll check it out and do a change on the blog…lol!!!
Oh, definitely want to read about the “slut” wines. You make me laugh! Have club membership at Opolo — fantastic!
I’ve heard fantastic things about Opolo and will definitely check them out!
Great post, Christine. The Clos du Bois is on the list for my next trip to the wine shop. I’m fond of their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. I’d love to try the Bridlewood, but that price is over the top for me. Unless, maybe, for a very, very special occasion.
Thanks for sharing!
Dawn, I’m not totally sure about that price – and I don’t think you can get it anywhere except the winery itself. But you won’t regret the Clos du Bois!