CA Wine That’s Worth the Flight – Ferrari Carano

‘Dead Palate’ is a real issue many wine drinkers face after simply tasting too many different wines in a short amount of time. After spending a week in wine country, I hate to admit this, but many of the wines were starting to taste the same and lacked personality. It was a delightful surprise to discover that the wines at Ferrari Carano truly stood apart from the rest I had tried in CA thus far.

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This Italian inspired mansion in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma is quite the sight to behold on your way down their Tuscan driveway. The entrance to the wine shop and tasting rooms is actually on the left side of the mansion. Here, witness a view of the grape vines that will have you scrambling for the perfect selfie.

Unlike many vineyards in Sonoma, Ferrari-Carano has many affordable tasting options. The upstairs tasting bar (Villa Fiore Bar) is only $10 for a flight of 5 wines that you can choose from a lengthy menu.

The outdoor patio tasting is where you can relax and drink your favorite bottle or sample a seasonal wine flight which can be on the more expensive side.

Finally, in the wine cellar there’s a private wine bar and a public bar which hosts the higher end wines. Enjoy a flight of four wines for $25 dollars or book a private tasting in the Enotrica wine room.

Ferrari-Carano produces a wide variety of grapes which makes it great for a crowd. My brother and I did the Villa Fiore Bar, each of us chose different wines. Of the ten we tried, the Pinot Noir made a major impression. The 2015 Anderson Valley ‘Lazy Day’ Pinot was an amazing quality for an affordable price. This borderline medium bodied wine was smooth, bright with a cranberry and raspberry bite that slowly evolved into rich blackberry and oaked cherry finish. It was unlike any pinot that I had tasted before and it was only $24 a bottle!

Your trip to Sonoma would not be complete without relaxing in the warm breeze with a glass of Ferrari-Carano. I promise you will find your new favorite CA wine after one visit. Wine Up Wineos!

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Game of Wines?

I’m sure some of our readers out there happen to be fans of the show Game of Thrones, or a least know someone who watches it faithfully each week. So to celebrate the return of America’s most watched TV phenomenon, we’re pouring HBO licensed wine each Sunday after discovering the Westeros themed bottles at Total Wine.

 

 

The show has it’s own wine brand that can be found here for purchase online. As much as I love this show, I wasn’t about the spend $49.99 on their high-end Cabernet. I purchased the GOT Red Blend and the GOT Chardonnay, which I have seen at multiple retailers. If any of our readers happen to go the extra mile and purchase the Cabernet from Napa (aka Dorne) PLEASE let us know your review!

The dragons of khaleesi must have had a hand in the smoked and hickory nose and subtle notes in the wine. It’s a light red but borders on medium body that’s bright with red delicious apple flavor with a cranberry tannin bite. It even have tones of raspberry and plum as the wine breathes.

I highly recommend either an aerator or opening this wine on Saturday night and leaving it corked on the counter for the Sunday showtime. It may need a bit of air to fully develop but easy drinking!

The GOT Chardonnay was a bit more mellow than I was expecting. It wasn’t a toasted buttery bomb that many expect from wines out of CA. It was fresh with a medium body and very light oak. It screams of pear flavor with a green apple finish that keeps it from feeling too heavy. Both wines claim to be from Dorne, but I could swear it hails from a more northern kingdom considering the acidity allowed me to turn it into a bright risotto dish for that Sunday’s episode.  The cork brandished a Lannister lion as if to rebel against the bottle’s Dornish label.

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Each bottle is decorated with the famous family emblems as seen in the opening credits of every show. I highly recommend keeping the bottles as a nerd trophy. The artwork of the show is always great. These wines will please any guest and I recommend pairing with food!

“I drink and I know things.” – Tyrion Lannister

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shake Before Serving: Mollydooker “The Boxer” Shiraz

If you’re a Shiraz fan, it’s likely you’ve heard someone rave about Mollydooker at some point. At the wine shop where Half-Past’s Kristen works, customers rush in whenever they hear a new case has shipped, anxiously stocking up on the Australian Shiraz. Even when we went to a local wine outlet and snagged a bottle of “The Boxer” ourselves, the cashier got wide-eyes and remarked, “You know your wine.”

So, what’s the hype? And what is Mollydooker, anyway?

We had quite the adventure getting to know this wine. Read closely: the way you drink this wine heavily affects its taste and texture. 

Not yet knowing any better, we poured our glasses through an aerator, like we would any other full-bodied red. The wine had a strong alcohol smell, and a bit of a burn on the palate in the aftertaste. We noticed a peppery aroma and loved its dark garnet color.

With our aerated glass, we noted a smooth start and a stinging finish. The wine had light spices and even slight notes of mocha among the prominent dark berry flavors.

But this is where things get interesting: the bottle is actually supposed to be shaken, not aerated, before serving. 

While drinking, we noticed a note on the side of the bottle leading us to the winemaker’s YouTube channel. Here, there was a video tutorial on how to properly serve the wine. We’ve shared the video below.

 

The ‘Mollydooker shake’ will create a foam layer of nitrogen in the bottle. After shaking, the nitrogen releases flavor back up to through the wine that it had been preserving previously. This process is also part of the winemaker’s efforts to reduce sulfides, which naturally occur in wines but can cause adverse side affects to some drinkers.

With this method instead of aeration, many of the spicy and mocha flavors we’d noted before were no longer present. It was smoother on the palate and easier drinking in general.

We hope that when you try out Mollydooker Shiraz, you’ll get it right the first time, unlike us!

Happy drinking!

Color Me Purple: Petite Petit

Elephant brothers, Petite Sirah (a red grape) and Petit Verdot (normally a French blending red grape), completely steal the show in this circus themed wine from Michael David Winery.

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As you may remember, we at Half-Past already fell in love with this winery’s Seven Deadly Zins – and their Petite Petit red blend was one for the record books. Get ready to be entertained by this dark purple wine.

This bottle is the definition of jammy. It’s silky smooth with almost creamy tannins and a  slightly gamey finish (no doubt thanks to the 16 months it spends in French Oak barrels). The wine is juicy in the front, smokey in the back, boasting straight up plum flavor with currant ripeness. Petite Petit has a bold and luscious full body with a hint of spice.

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Dear Red lovers, If you have never tried Petite Sirah or Petit Verdot we highly recommend you taste this wine; however, make sure you are not in public! The wine won’t be the only elephant in the room: after one glass of this wine, your friends will wonder how to politely ask you to brush your teeth. The pictures don’t do it justice.

 

Enjoy the circus! Let us know what you thought!

Feature image from lodiwine.com

Rare find! – Ancient Peaks Winery

Picture owning a large cattle ranch in central California…and one day some big wine conglomerate comes by and wants to buy patches of your land to grow grapes. Three years later, the grapes are finally ready to be turned into wine, but the conglomerate wants to leave – What luck! Buy the land back, and now you have perfectly managed wine fields that are yours for production. This is the lucky story of Ancient Peaks Winery at the Santa Margarita Ranch.

Don’t worry: they are still a cattle ranch too,but now produce a line up of over 8 different wines each growing in 5 different kinds of soils. Each bottle specifies which soil the grapes were grown in the back label. Did I mention that one of their soil types in an ancient sea bed? Picture massive fossilized oyster shells popping up among the grape vines!

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Why is this winery a rare find? The inside scoop is that only 6 different wine shops in the whole state of MA have been presented with the Ancient Peaks wines. We don’t have any information about other states, but so far the number of places to possibly purchase this wine is limited.

So stay on the lookout! If the search doesn’t prove fruitful, check out their online store to see if they ship to your state. Kristen was lucky enough to try their Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Zinfandel.

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Cabernet Sauvignon  

It’s a rare day where I enjoy all of the wines that I try in one sitting. This cabernet was a perfect balance of everything we love about the grape. It wasn’t overly fruity or tart, it was smooth with softer tannins with medium body weight. Showing flavors of dark berries and even very subtle hints of cocoa on the mid palate. Perfect for dinner or just stand alone drinking.

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Merlot 

Now, Merlot I am very skeptical off because normally it is not my favorite grape. But this bottle was wonderfully produced.  It was velvety, rich, with black cherry and plummy notes and it included that signature mocha smell that you can expect from the grape. This bottle advertises that it was grown in the ancient sea bed, which might have something to do with its subdued quality. It’s a must for red meats or even game meats if you want to take the flavor up a notch.

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Zinfandel 

This has to be one of my favorite zinfandels yet. It was juicy, refreshing, quenching, and yet the fruit flavor was controlled in a way that made it enjoyable sip after sip. With bright berry notes in the front and a slight tart and pepper zing at the finish, this wine is a fun ride for your palate and I hope you get the chance to nab this bottle.

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Just in case giant sea shells wasn’t enough of a draw, the next time you are in CA I would recommend stopping by their site. Not only are there cows, a cafe, tasting room, and tours but they now host a 2.5 hour long zip line experience across their property!

Happy Wine Hunting!

Vineyard Header Photo from ancientpeaks.com

Tilia: A Malbec for any occassion

We’ve all been there: craving a glass or two of red wine after work, but not wanting to crack open that delicious bottle we’ve been saving because we know it’ll go sour after a few days exposed to air. You don’t want to settle for a bad brand just because you won’t feel bad when it turns, but you don’t want to risk spoiling your favorite, either.

Thankfully, Tilia Malbec has us covered.

 

Tilia has all the basics for a perfect Malbec, and with an affordable price to-boot (ranging from $7.99-9.99). The grapes grown in the world’s Malbec capital (Mendoza, Argentina), and like many Argentinian wines, the bottle comes with a screw cap.

The bonus from that? The wine lasts significantly longer than other red wines, because the re-usable cap prevents air from reaching the wine. This makes Tilia the perfect wine for a casual night during the week; you can have a glass or two by yourself without fearing it’ll spoil by the weekend.

With an aroma bursting with plum, the wine delivers both plum and black cherry flavors. It’s smooth, easy-drinking but holds its own, carrying bold and juicy flavors through to the last sip. It’s great with dinner, or as a solo glass in the evening.

But what’s with the tree, you’re wondering?

The gorgeous design on the bottle is meant to represent a native tree in Mendoza whose leaves make a relaxing herbal tea. The wine makers hope this will relay the Argentinian spirit for hard work and close families.

And the wine is quite relaxing – perfect for a glass or two to take the edge off of a weekday.

Cheers!

Have You Seen the Black Sheep?

You may have heard of Mouton Noir from this little commercial right here…..

 

 

Mouton Noir, a garage wine company, was created in 2007 by famous sommelier André Hueston Mack. After working for some of the best restaurants in America like The French Laundry and Per Se, Mack left the food scene to create a ‘black sheep’ wine company that sets itself apart by combining the finer arts of the wine world with the hip hop, skateboard, and punk culture of the 1990s. Garage wine is the industry term for wineries that outsource their grapes for other places (do not grow their own grapes).

Okay, so now you know the company but have you TRIED any of their wine before? We know the bottles may seem like a designer t-shirt but Mack’s years in the wine industry show up in every grape combination. Don’t let the fun labels fool you: Mouton Noir produces very elegant wines.

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Kristen came across one of their bottles at work and gives it a bright green light to any deep red wine lovers: Horseshoes and Handgrenades.

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Aside from the adorable cork, the reviews online will tell you that the wine is big, cherry-like, leathery, with tar notes. We found this Syrah, Cabernet, and Merlot blend to be fruity, chocolate notes on the nose and finish, and easy to drink yet it still had that signature spice or bite from the Syrah. It’s an exciting wine to try for those of you getting into the big bad red wine scene.

We promise its unlike other red blend you have tried in the past. We recommend drinking it alone to start and then have fun with pairings afterwards so you get the full affect. Remember with bold reds that a little time to breath goes a long way so let the bottle air out for a while before drinking. Mack says “Think cherry pits and leather whips!”

For more information about this amazing wine company check out their website! You might even want to buy one of their killer wine nerd t-shirts while you’re there.

 

No One is Smoother than Michael David

Sometimes, nothing says it better than a cliche – and with Michael David Winery’s Ancient Vine Cinsault, there’s no better description than “smooth as silk.” This red wine is lighter bodied than most and is easy drinking – almost too easy drinking. We drank half the bottle just taking tasting notes alone, with absolutely no difficulty (or food needed!)

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The wine boasts plum flavors, but not the plummy jam tastes you get from a Syrah. Michael David’s Cinsault offers flavors of freshly picked plums and finishes on a slightly acidic note, causing a vague tingle on the tongue towards the end of a sip.

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It’s also interesting to note the smell of toast that lingers strongly on the cork and vaguely in the glass after the wine has breathed.

The 2014 vintage was part of a small production that we hear is not normally offered in the Michael David tasting room. The new vintage became available this fall and we highly recommend you track down a bottle for your thanksgiving table. Maybe two if you drink like we do! Use the Michael David ‘Find Our Wines‘ page to help track down their wines using your zip code!

Drink up Wineos!

Wine Pairing for Debate #3: Great American Zinfandel

After months of political  insanity, it’s not easy to feel patriotic. Thankfully, a bottle of The Great American Wine: Zinfandel has all the patriotism you’ll need to get through Presidential Debate #3.

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There are a slew of drinking games surrounding the debates, as well as Tweets calling for a a glass of wine to survive the 90 minutes. With a title boasting to be “The Great American Wine” and a star-spangled bottle design, this wine just might do the trick!
While the debate itself can be zingy and spicy  – perhaps even difficult to swallow – this Zinfandel is smooth and jammy with ripe flavors of plum. This 2013 red has another bonus: with each bottle sold, the winery donates to veteran’s organizations!

Ranging between $6.99-12.99, you should be able to snag a bottle at your local liquor store!
We at half past love you all and humbly remind you to vote on November 8th.

United We Stand.

Cheers!

 

Featured image: Los Angeles Times