Living Up to its Name: Murphy Goode Pinot Noir

With the holidays fast approaching, we’re sure you’re in a hurry to snag an impressive wine for the many parties you’re headed to. But the holidays often drain our pockets, too. Thankfully, this Pinot Noir will pair perfectly with holiday festivities without adding burden to your holiday costs.

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Typically sold between $9.99-$15.00 (we snagged it at the low end), Murphy Goode’s 2014 Pinot Noir is perfect when you’re rushing your way to a dinner party…or need a glass to recover from a holiday party with your relatives.

 

Aged in both French and American barrels, the wine boasts smooth and vanilla flavors with just enough acidity to stop it from bordering on sweet. Dark cherry notes balance this complexity with hints of fruitiness, making for smooth and easy drinking. Perhaps too easy.

Featured Image and image 1:  http://www.swigstudio.com/Murphy-Goode-Wines

Image 2: http://tipplesbrews.com/2017/06/28/californian-pinot-italian-rose-jack-weekly-wine-picks-628-75/

 

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Scribe Winery – Sonoma Superhero

Just in case you didn’t read our post on how to help with the CA Fire Relief, click here for why we added Scribe Winery in Sonoma to the list of local heroes. Their special release of Nouveau Pinot Noir was designed to benefit local charities that are helping with the fire aid.

We at Half-Past ordered a bottle in support of the charity. It was our first time trying wine from this vineyard, and you can find our take of the drink below.

 

Wine Review Summary: Worth every penny!

Nouveau Pinot Noir cost us $32 a bottle plus shipping to MA which ended up at around $50. Normally, we never buy blind but since this winery was producing for relief purposes, we couldn’t resist.

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First, let us just say that the sheer color of this wine is STUNNING. It’s a vibrant and practically neon-magenta shade of pink. We stared at the bottle for a good 10 minutes before opening. It drinks like a deep rose but looks like a sangria.

Styled after the famous french Nouveau Beaujolais, the nose of the wine was bright with fresh summer berry perfume. The body was light yet coated the palate with grapefruit citrus and strawberry leaves. Though the fruit is subtle at first, it ripens throughout and leaves a clean almost lime finish. It was dangerously smooth which allows for easy drinking and infinite food pairing opportunities.

 

Now we will warn you that this bottle is unfilteredIf you want every last drop, you will have to strain it for debris and sediment. We used two coffee filters….. Why? Drinking the sediment will result in a glass that is filled with tannins, grape skins, and dead yeast from fermentation.  That combination is great for wine color, but not so great for tasting in concentrated doses. It will be strong and bitter with a mineral and sandy mouthfeel.

 

This Pinot Noir was so beautifully light yet complex that we are excited to see what comes next for this Sonoma winery. Have you tried Scribe? We want to know!

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Stay thirsty wineos!

Feature image Credit – Scribe Winery Facebook 

Vineyard ending photo credit – Scribe Winery Facebook

 

Celebrating Local Varietals

New England is known for its foliage and fall character. Fall in the northeast provokes thoughts of colorful leaves, fresh apples, and hayrides. We think it should also include thoughts of our regional varietals and wine flavors. Some of our favorite local wineries (including ones we’ve reviewed in the past, like White Mountain Winery or Moonlight Meadery) are known for their lush, fruit-based flavors: perfect for fall!

But there are still plenty of festive, fall and winter varietals for wine lovers who aren’t fans of sweet or fruity wines. We recently tasted two local bottles from Massachusetts wineries: a Frontenac from Mill River Winery and a Pinot Menier from Westport Wineries.

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The Pinot Menier surprised us with cherry and vanilla notes – almost like a cola but with a more complex body and taste. This varietal is rarely bottled on its own, and was a treat to enjoy!

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The Frontenac – harvested in 2014 and sold in a half-bottle – offered soft tannins and a soft finish. We noted flavors of oak and dark fruit, such as plums. It had a silky finish, but with just a bit of a bite.

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For other wineries to watch, check out Sweet Baby Vineyard, Sakkonet Vineyards, Greenvale Vineyards, Alfalfa Farm Winery, and pretty much the entire finger lakes region in NY State. Drink up your favorite local ‘foliage’ and let us know what your favorite is!

Cheers!

 

CA Fire Relief- How you can help!

 

Hey Wineos,

Our renowned wine capitals Napa and Sonoma have been hit with terrible wild fires that have displaced families and damaged many of the wineries we all love. For detailed information about which wineries were affected and which counties have been burned please read here.

In latest news, the majority of the fires have been contained for the time being. Many organizations in the area are looking for donations to help rebuild wine country and support the families.

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So how can you help?

The Winemakers and Sommeliers For California Wildfire Relief group is hosting fundraising events, taking donations, and taking donated quality vintage wine bottles to use as auction items for funds.

The American Red Cross is taking applications for volunteers to help bring aid to the area as well as donations on their website. Donations can be directed to all general disaster relief which covers the CA fires, Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Maria. You can choose which disaster you want to donate to.

The Redwood Empire Food Bank is also taking monetary donations and food donations if you live locally. The money goes to help feeding the displaced families.

Gloria Ferrer winery in Sonoma is doing a special where $1 from every purchase goes towards the fire relief. Check out their website for fundraising events or shop online to make a difference. Every bottle counts!

Scribe Winery in Sonoma County has opened a pre-sale for their special edition Pinot Noir where the proceeds from the sales will go to local aid forces. The wine will ship on November 1st and this limited edition bottle costs $32 dollars. We here at half-past just purchased a bottle and will be reviewing it soon for you!

2017 Nouveau of Pinot Noir Presale // Ships Nov 1st

For even more ways to help like donating to the local firefighters in the area or clothing donations check out PBS.org

Please do your part to help support the vineyards and the people that work hard to provide you with USA made wine every day. #CAwinestrong

Stay Wine Strong and Cheers

Feature Image Credit – Santa Cruise Mountains Winegrowers Association

Love in the Air Image Credit – Two-Way Breaking News NPR

Pinor Noir Wine Bottle Image Credit – Scribe Winery 

 

 

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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Plan Your Visit to Matanza Creek Winery

Kristen here! I’m not overly proud of the fact that I tried to fit all on Sonoma County into a single day, but I feel that it is my duty to tell you about one of the wineries in this region that really blew my mind.

Matanza Creek Winery

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Start the morning with one of the most visually stunning vineyards in Sonoma. When I heard that Matanza Creek was not only a thriving vineyard but also a fresh lavender producer, I just HAD to see how the two industries commingled in a single estate. The love child I saw did not disappoint.

The Estate is massive with rolling hills of beautiful purple lavender plants (if you visit in the spring/early summer). The aromas were far from overpowering and instead attributed the ‘freshest’ air I had breathed all trip. As you wander past the gardens, the next stop is a high end promenade area filled with lanterns, corn hole, bocce ball courts, wine bottle ring toss, wooden tables, and manicured lawn area for an old fashioned picnic.

Impressed? That’s only the beginning. Travel up the stairs to the luxurious patio for a cheese and local wine tasting that will change the way you view the words ‘Food Pairing.’

Kristen’s wine tasting speed notes: (first the wine then what it was paired with)

Glass one: 2014 Helena Bench Sav Blanc – ‘Foggy morning’  3-4 week old soft cheese with Yuzu fruit jelly

The Sav Blanc was mineral, rocky, almost volcanic with white peach notes. Acidity that cut through the creamy and rich cheese and balanced the sweet ‘pop’ of the yuzu jelly. 

Glass two: 2013 Journey Chardonnay – ‘Mt tam’ triple cream brie with orange glazed Marcona almond

The Chard was surprisingly crisp with green apple subtleties but still full thanks to the malolatic fermentation and french oak aging process.  Hints of pineapple mix with the orange almond and brie mimic a deconstructed tropical mixed. 

Glass three: 2013 Malbec, Cabernet Savignon, Cabernet Franc Blend – ‘Midnight Moon’ Sheep milk gouda with dried cherry jam

This blend was medium to heavy in body, bright in cranberry and pomegranate flavor that stood up equally to the dense gouda cheese. Cherry jam on top gives wine a whole new layer of depth, that caramelized the cheese. 

Glass four: 2012  Estate Merlot Bennett Valley, Jackson Park – aged dried Jack with cocoa rind with fig and onion marmalade

Rich merlot reconstitues dried cheese yet cocoa enhances the mocha from the merlot. Red onions and figs from the jam give pairing a holiday feel of brandied chocolate fruits for xmas. 

Surprize glass five: Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon Dessert wine – White chocolate and Estate Lavender truffle

Exclusive wine not for purchase on company website and not normally poured with this tasting. Sweet enough to warrant ‘dessert wine’ classification but no where near intensity of Port or Sauternes. Closer to sweet moscato but kept refreshing tang of sav blanc, gave balance to waxy white chocolate and was perfumed by the floral lavender. 

 

Finally after a relaxing patio tasting, the tasting bar inside the large main building is available along with the wine shop, lavender products room, clothing swag table, rentable conference room, and walk down the hill to the lavender barn to witness how the plant is processed into products.

*Fun Fact* there are two types of lavender, one is edible (Grosso) and one is only used for its smell in bath products (Provence)

Please if you are ever in Sonoma, you must visit this vineyard not only for grounds but the wine and food pairing truly is something out of a dream. Don’t forget the chamomile lavender hand cream on the way out!

Cheers!

Feature Image from www.matanzascreek.com

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Summer’s Top Five Rosés

It’s summer, which means we have to drink as much rosé as we can before the local wine stores focus their stocking on reds and fall whites.

While summer is coming to a close, our love of rosé continues to go strong. We’ve tried over a dozen fantastic rosés this summer, but have selected our top five in case you don’t have the time (or funds!) to sample our full list.

In order from enjoyed-a-try to bought-three-bottles, here are our top rosés of summer 2017!

 

5. Dune Gris de Gris (2016)

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A delightful light wine for the hottest summer days, Gris de Gris holds subtle flavors of grapefruit. Sweet with a citrus edge, this rosé is a crisp, cool, light-bodied pink wine that pairs perfectly with a sweltering day and light meal.

4. Domanie de Pellehaut Harmonie de Gascogne Blanc (2016)

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Can you tell we like grapefruit rosés? This wine holds similar grapefruit and citrus flavors to the previous wine, but with more of a fruity flavor. With light strawberry flavor, the wine has a gentle edge of sweetness on Gris de Gris. The wine also has a unique grassy nose; if you close your eyes, you can imagine yourself in the winery’s field, sipping the light wine on a warm summer day.

 

3. Phebus

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Want a little more flavor and depth to your rosé? Or are you a fan of Malbec? We have the rosé for you! This wine packs a little more body and flavor, with ripe berry flavors. And to make things better, it’s less than $10 at Total Wines!

2. Brin de Rosé 

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Simple in name and taste, this is a perfect crowd-pleaser for a sunny patio day. It’s light and gentle on the tongue in the way only a French wine can be, but with enough character to make you pour another glass (and another…and another). Not to mention, we love the bottle – it’s original shape sets it apart from traditional rosés and gives it a modern and fun non-traditional flair.

1.  La Garoche (2016)

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This is the rosé we keep coming back for again…and again…and again. The one we check is still in stock, like, weekly. Because how is no one else on to this yet? With sweet berry flavors cut by the minerally aftermath of natural tanins, this dry rosé  is perfect with anything. Especially an empty wine glass! Perfect for wine-lovers and newcomers alike, we recommend snagging a bottle before the season is up!

Photo cred:

Gris de Gris, Pellehaut, PhebusBrin de Rose, La Galoche

Love at first Sip-CA Wine Country

California Wine Country is famous for proving that America could make great wine back in the 1976 Paris tasting. California shocked the world when judges decided in a blind taste test that American wine tasted better than the French contestants. Though the entire state of CA produces wine, there are two valleys that are known the world over for their wine: Napa and Sonoma.

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I (Kristen) got to visit the American wine mecca for the first time a few weeks ago and I’ve got some tips to help you with your next wine vacation.

  1. It’s not all beautiful hotels and glittering patio set ups. First the foremost, Napa and Sonoma are farm lands. If you’re providing your own transportation, it’s a lot of driving though endless fields with more cow sightings than people. Be prepared for winding roads, little to no street signs, and lots of food stalls selling fresh produce on the side of the road.My Tip: GPS is your best friend so bring a car charger and make sure you have a good phone provider if you are using your phone.

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  2. Contrary to popular belief, don’t go hard or you will go home. Most tasting flights are at least 4 wines and drinking them quickly on top of the hot weather will get you tipsy fast. So bring water and try to pick wineries that serve food that way you can get to more than one winery a day.Pro Tip: you don’t have to finish all of the wine samples. Bring friends to help you finish. Though its frowned upon, some places will let you share a tasting if you ask.

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  3. Okay so its a HUGE place, with lots to see in both valleys. Where do you start? Do some research! Look into the most popular wineries in the area and don’t forget to leave room in your schedule for when a local gives you a good recommendation. We started at 9am and finished most days at 6 – 8pm.Hotel tip: Get a hotel in the middle of one of the valleys. We got one slightly south in Sonoma valley. It takes about an hour to two hours to get to the top of the valley for exploring.

So where did I go?

Napa:

We started in Yountville for a walking tour of the town. It’s an adorable town toward the bottom of the valley. The little town looks modern with new architecture, unique shopping plazas, and outdoor art displays.

What’s the best part? It’s a culinary paradise with gourmet shops and restaurants everywhere. My favorite was the fabulous desserts from Kollar chocolates with their chocolate sushi and the rose wine macaroons from Bouchon Bakery.  Yountville also happens to be the home of Bell Wine Cellars. Click here for my article about Bell Wine Cellars.

Next we moved on to Domaine Chandon which was literally 2 driveways away for a flight of California made bubbles. The property is beautiful and great views from their picnic area that is perched on top of a hill. The valley below is breathtaking, and here you have two options: purchase a flight to taste or purchase a bottle and drink it on the hill with family and friends. Both options are fabulous and don’t forget the glittering gift shop on the way out.

Haven you ever had an Italian California BBQ? The V.Sattui winery is an Italian winery with a rather large property covering in flowers, fountains, and the smell of brick oven pizza. Wait, why pizza? Because on Saturdays they do an outdoor BBQ that would put your fourth of July party to shame. It’s got pizzas, salmon fillets, fresh mozzarella salads made to order, ribs, short ribs, steak tips, and so many varieties of vegetables to put on the side. Beware because the place will be packed with peoplem, but the food is great and worth the wait. Don’t want to wait? Check out their authentic deli, pastry shop, gift shop, and oh yea the massive wine bar.

Last but not least, if you really want to be dazzled visit the Tuscan inspired castle in Calistoga. Click here to read my review of the castle.  It’s worth the entrance fee I promise.

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Stay tuned for my review on sonoma!