Livermore Valley’s Taste Our Terroir Part 1

Appetizer Combo at First Street Alehouse
Appetizer Combo at First Street Alehouse

I recently participated in Livermore Valley’s Taste Our Terroir, courtesy of Visit Tri-Valley. I could not be more impressed by the quality of the sessions, the food, and the wines, as well as the hospitality provided to me by Visit Tri-Valley. I hope my schedule will allow me to visit the area again in the near future.

Vanilla Ice Cream at First Street Alehouse
Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae at First Street Alehouse

Lunch at First Street Alehouse

My host decided we should eat lunch here prior to the first event, which happened to be next door, so this could not have been planned more perfectly. First Street Alehouse is located in downtown Livermore, which with all of its restaurants, bars, and shops, merits future attention.

Altamont Beer Works Shelter IPA
Altamont Beer Works Shelter IPA

The alehouse was founded in 2000, is family owned and operated and “wants to be your home away from home.” It boasts 24 beers on tap and is “home to the largest publicly displayed beer can collection, housing over 6000 cans.” The food here is pub fare, so my host and I split an appetizer combo, shared a hamburger, and enjoyed a vanilla ice cream sundae for dessert. As a beverage, I always drink local wherever I am, so I chose Altamont Beer Works Shelter IPA (6.5% ABV, 60 IBU), described as,

A true “West Coast” IPA, which is hop flavor forward without the hop bitterness. Large amounts of hops are used at the whirlpool and dry hop additions, to bring you the unique flavors of the hop varietals…

It is named after the Rolling Stones’ song “Give Me Shelter.” The movie of the same name recounts the 1969 Altamont Speedway Free Festival.

Secrets of a Sommelier
Secrets of a Sommelier

Secrets of a Sommelier: The Art of Blind Tasting

After lunch, I headed next door to take part in my first event, Secrets of a Sommelier: The Art of Blind Tasting, at Double Barrel Wine Bar. The bar’s sommelier, Gerald Gilligan, lead the group in blind tasting six wines, two whites and four reds, using the Court of Master Sommelier’s Deductive Tasting Format and Tasting Grid. I am thrilled to share that I guessed all six wine varieties correctly as well as guessed both the wine and the producer for one of the samples we tasted. All of the wines sampled were from Livermore Valley producers. Below are my brief tasting notes.

Court of Master Sommeliers Deductive Tasting Format
Court of Master Sommeliers Deductive Tasting Format

2013 Page Mill Sauvignon Blanc: This wine was almost clear in color and dry. It was fermented in stainless steel. It had medium-plus acidity, alcohol, and finish, and aromas and flavors of green apple, lemon zest, melon, and pear.

2011 Retzlaff Chardonnay: This wine was pale gold and fermented in oak with some malolactic fermentation. Thus, it had a creamy mouthfeel and possessed aromas and flavors of melon, peach, pineapple, tropical fruits, and nuts.

2008 Wood Family Merlot: This was the most interesting wine of the tasting. After six years, this ageworthy wine still exhibited great structure and firm tannins. It was garnet in color with medium body. It displayed aromas and flavors of baking spices, cherry, plum, and vanilla.

Double Barrel Wine Bar
Double Barrel Wine Bar

2010 Nottingham Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine was purple-red in color with a full, viscous body, medium-plus tannins, and aromas and flavors of blackberry, blackcurrant, blueberry, spice, and vanilla.

2009 Concannon Petite Sirah: This is the wine whose grape and producer I guessed as soon as it was poured into my glass, my Bottle Shock bar moment, if you will. The wine was full bodied and robust, with fruity and funky aromas and flavors of black and bing cherry, blackberry, coffee, and plum. Concannon was the first United States winery to varietally label Petite Sirah with their 1961 vintage.

2012 3 Steves Zinfandel: This wine was purple-red in color, medium-to-full bodied, and revealed aromas and flavors of chocolate, dark and red berries, and a spicy finish.

Upon the conclusion of our tasting, we celebrated our blind tasting success and camaraderie with glasses of bubbly. Shortly thereafter, I was on my way to my next event.

To be continued…



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