These days, for better or worse, a lot of my social wine drinking involves multiple bottles of wine. Everyone gets a taste (or two or three) and moves on to try something different. Sometimes wines are revisited. It’s exciting to compare notes on what you’re tasting in between other kinds of chatter and gossip.
But on Memorial Day, I did something I haven’t in a very long time – and it was absolutely wonderful! I shared a single bottle of Red Car rosé with a dear friend over some cheese and an amazing strawberry cake she baked.
We caught up with each others lives, enjoyed the warm air and had a few hours to relax, breathe and just be in the moment. At times, I could even still geek out and talk about the wine. It was the perfect way to spend Memorial Day! Looking forward to more occasions where just a single bottle will do. Cheers!
One more post about Virginia wine, and then maybe I’ll diversify this blog again. But after a Spring release party, it’s worth jotting down a couple of paragraphs about Early Mountain wines.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned the winery in my roundup of Virginia wines to know – mostly because visiting their winery is a wonderful chance to not only try their wines, but taste about a dozen others from Virginia wineries. But since it’s been at least two summers since I visited Early Mountain or tasted their wines, I wasn’t able to say too much about their specific offerings.
Now I can. The winery hosted a tasting at Iron Gate restaurant, in Washington, D.C. The restaurant has a beautiful outdoor patio and is a perfect location for a Spring or Summer evening. Unless it rains. Which it did. But the damp and gloomy weather was hardly noticeable when you combined a large white tent with Early Mountain’s fresh whites and rosé. The wines all had a beautiful acidity running through them with very little or no oak. Perfect garden party vino.
The event was also a great opportunity to meet Ben Jordan, Early Mountain’s winemaker and Maya Hood White, their vineyard manager. Both are relatively new to Early Mountain (in the past few years) and their youthful spirit comes through in the wines.
While I try not to formally review wine, I did make some notes in my Delectable account (feel free to follow me there), so here are those thoughts with some slight edits for accuracy, spelling, style and grammar (note: all wines, including the Chardonnay are from the 2015 vintage):
Early Mountain Rosé: The pretty salmon-colored wine gets most of its color from Syrah, but the wine is mostly Merlot, with a bit of Cab Franc as well. For a wine that was so light on its feet, there was a nice bit of depth and structure.
Early Mountain Pinot Gris: I braced myself for something on the sweeter side, but instead got a really nice crisp, dry wine. I enjoyed the acidity and noted it will be great on a hot, summer day.
Early Mountain Chardonnay: There’s only a touch of natural oak on this wine. Combined with a well-rounded finish, it’s an easy-drinking white that can please many palates. A great table wine, if you will.
Early Mountain Five Forks White Blend: The most structured and aromatic wine of the bunch, this white combines Viognier, Pinot Gris, Petit Menseng, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat. Lots of aromatics wafting from the glass, with a pinch of sweetness. But the palate is completely dry and the Petit Menseng lends a nice spice to the finish.
Sometimes you just have to brag a little. And this past week, I had an evening worth bragging about. Some friends gathered after a holiday party for a feast at one of D.C.’s top restaurants. It’s taken me far too long to try this place and as Julia Roberts might tell a Rodeo Drive boutique salesgirl: Big Mistake. Big. Huge.
Here are four first-time experiences thanks to this special night out with friends:
1. Mintwood Place is everything you want it to be. A cozy but lively bistro with staff that smile and treat you like you’ve been coming in for years. And then the food arrives. And it’s perfect. While the main ingredient on each dish is elevated beyond what you would ever expect, it’s the small touches of flavor – from a dab of dressing on a creamy burrata nestled on crispy kale or a side dish of smashed fingerling potatoes that only appear ordinary – which steal your attention.
And while this should be enough for a wonderful evening, it was really just the backdrop for a table laced with legendary wines.
2. The stars were four bottles of Domaine Romanee Conti Echezeaux from 1989, 1993, 1994 and 2002 (to be exact, the ‘89 was a Grandes). A 1997 Louis Jadot Grands Echezeaux joined in as well. These were my first experiences with DRC, and while the mythical, magical, Angel-singing moment I’ve heard so much about may have been slightly exaggerated, a quiet calmness enveloped me as I sipped each one savoring the wines finesse and complexities. (For real tasting notes, look here.)
3. A 2004 Dom Perignon Rosé was poured soon after we were seated. There were other bottles of bubbles, all of which I hadn’t experienced before, but the Dom Rosé was different. With more body, fruit and refined explosiveness than other sparklers I’ve tried, it’s very tiny bubbles were hardly visible in my non-fluted wine glass.
4. The final splurge-worthy decadence I’ll write about here (but certainly not the last of the evening) was poured toward the end of the night, just prior to the popping of the dessert wines (which I politely passed on in favor of sipping another glass of the Dom). Given what was already served, I’m afraid this particular wine didn’t receive the attention it deserved. The waiter poured my glass out of the decanter and I took a few sips, but then let it sit. The dark brooding Syrah seemed like it had a lot to say, but it wasn’t talking yet. Or maybe my palate was too severely compromised. I put the glass down and walked away, only to come back to it a little while later in a quiet moment, while the others were swirling around the dining room and enjoying the effects of the evening. This time a glorious sense of earth emerged from “Stock,” a 2012 Sine Qua Non from California’s Central Coast. It’s the type of wine that deserves an evening unto itself.
Last year, the majority of the rosé I ingested came from Red Car. The Sonoma Coast winery best known for their Pinot Noir makes an elegant and crisp quaffer that goes down incredibly easy on a hot summer day (or at an IPOB tasting). I finished every last bottle I had, so in time for a recent BBQ I scoured the Internet in search of some more. I purchased a few 2014s from a New York store and was very happy. A few days after the event, a friend found some 2013s at a local D.C. wine shop. And this past Saturday, we put them together for a side-by-side comparison.
Conclusions were pretty simple: 2013 was refreshing and light and included some yeasty notes (a flaw? part of the aging?) but had lost some of it’s fruit (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). 2014 was also refreshing, and had some good tart notes with a bit more body.
So my amateur assessment is there’s no reason to keep these bottles around past their seasons. That’s a good thing – because at least in my house – those bottles won’t stay very long. But if one happens to get lost in the fridge and reappears the following year – enjoy the surprise!
Editing to add:a nice little response from Red Car! Thanks for taking a look and weighing in!
Definitely not a wine designed to cellar. Drink up before the release of the next vintage. Glad that the '13 is still palatable @itswinebyme