Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016

2013 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River
2013 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River

It seems appropriate to close out the writing year with an end-of-year post. At this moment, I don’t have a plan of how this is going to evolve, so please bear with me and stay along for the ride.

A Collage of My Experience at Hudson-Chatham Winery
A Collage of My Experience at Hudson-Chatham Winery

First and foremost, thank you to those of you who have been reading, especially those of you who may have been around the four and a half years this website has been in existence. Thank you to the various wineries and wine public relations businesses who have sent me samples for consideration. This endeavor is still purely a hobby and I do not earn any money to do this. However, I do believe that this website was one of a few catalysts that led to me living and working in Napa, so this is why I continue to write.

Exel Wines Top 100 Most Influential Wine Blog
Exel Wines Top 100 Most Influential Wine Blog

The readership of my website has increased exponentially in 2015. I believe there are a few reasons for this, such as being featured as a top 100 wine blog on a couple of websites such as Wine Turtle and Exel Wines. My writing has also been featured in wine writing challenges and on other websites such as American Winery Guide, Grape Collective, The Drunken Cyclist, Snooth, and Wine Turtle, which has brought new readers to this site. I also won the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #18 (#MWWC18) with this post. I am forever grateful for this fortuity.

My visit to Kemmeter Wines
My visit to Kemmeter Wines

I am especially thankful for the opportunity to write winery reviews for American Winery Guide. I have published seven reviews the past four months. While I love tasting and drinking wine, from the very start of this endeavor, I have been called Travel or Traveling Wine Chick, with travel coming first. Travel experiences are my niche. I love sharing my impressions of a winery and/or its winemaker(s), and if a wine tasting review fits, I add it. In 2016, you will see more travel, winery/wine experiences, and follow-your-passion stories in my writing.

#MWWC18 Winner!
#MWWC18 Winner!

The other day, WordPress sent me my end-of-year statistics for this blog and I was a bit surprised at the staying power of some of the posts. Three of the most viewed posts this year were written in 2012, 2013, and 2014. The top five viewed posts are:

  1. Biltmore Estate Winery (September 2013)
  2. Getting the skinny on Skinny Vine (November 2012)
  3. #MWWC18: Crisis (July 2015)
  4. Wine and a Movie: Under the Tuscan Sun Paired With Wines of Tuscany (December 2014)
  5. Choice: Va La Vineyards (September 2015)

Themes of travel, winery, and personal experiences dominate four of these posts. As to the Skinny Vine post, I am not sure why that’s still popular, as I was such a beginner three years ago. It is cool to see how far I’ve come, though.

Drinking Blissfully: Quinta do Cabeco, Arrojo 2013, Malvasia Fina/Rabigato/Viosinho
Drinking Blissfully: Quinta do Cabeco, Arrojo 2013, Malvasia Fina/Rabigato/Viosinho

The top referrals to my website came from Facebook, Twitter, Wine Turtle, The Drunken Cyclist, and The Fermented Fruit. The latter two websites are written by two of my dearest wine writing colleagues and these connections warm my heart. It would also seem that the next time that I see them, I owe them at least a drink.

A collage of visits: Galer Estate, Penns Woods, and Va La Vineyards
A collage of visits: Galer Estate, Penns Woods, and Va La Vineyards

These were difficult to choose, but below are my favorite experiences and/or writing of the year published on this website, American Winery Guide, and Snooth, in sort of alphabetical order. Most touched me on a very personal level. When I reread these, I feel as if I am reliving the joy and pleasure I felt during the visits and tastings. If you haven’t read them, please do. Better yet, please visit these producers and/or taste their wines.

  1. Choice: Va La Vineyards
  2. Drinking Blissfully
  3. Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery
  4. Holiday Wine Value Picks Under Fifteen Bucks
  5. Hudson-Chatham Winery
  6. Kemmeter Wines
  7. Penns Woods Winery
  8. Summer Fall Transition Wines Under $20
  9. The Magic of Jordan Winery
  10. The 2015 Vintage Prediction Round-Up

I hope that as we move into 2016, I can count on your support as I transition into a new phase of my writing and wine business career. I am excited about new, unannounced opportunities. Stay tuned.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!
Beth

Jordan Vineyards and Winery: A Must-Visit in Sonoma County

Part of the Jordan property
Part of the Jordan property

Jordan Vineyards and Winery has a forty-two year history in Alexander Valley of Sonoma County, California. Therefore, I was both honored and thrilled to be invited as a media guest to Jordan’s annual spring release party. It’s not often that I can say I felt sort of starstruck with a winery, but Jordan has a long and fascinating history, including their wines being served at notable White House events as well as the Academy Awards.

Before attending the party, I did a bit of research about Jordan. The first thing I stumbled upon was the Jordan Estate Rewards program, which is quite different from the traditional wine club approach to customer loyalty. I immediately enrolled so that I could see how it works. Members earn points with every purchase, and at varying levels starting at 4,500 points, can redeem their points for tours, tastings, events, luncheons, dinners, and overnight stays. I already felt like a part of the winery’s family.

The Château at Jordan
The Château at Jordan

Upon arrival to the property, my immediate response was gorgeous and impeccably maintained. I believe the main building is often referred to as the château, and with good reason, as it’s truly a gem of a building set on some of the most beautiful land I have ever seen. I almost felt like I had entered another era. There was even badminton on one of the front lawns.

Just a small section of the food spread at Jordan
Just a small section of the food spread at Jordan

With regard to the party itself, this year’s theme was Paris, so food choices included such delicacies as pâté, lamb chops, raw oysters, caviar, vichyssoise, duck sliders, smoked meats, rich French cheeses, and a variety of French breads. To say I was impressed would be an understatement.

The current releases, the 2010 Alexander Valley Cabernet and the 2012 Russian River Chardonnay, were served, along with a couple of library offerings, the 2006 Cabernet and 2007 Chardonnay. I tasted three of the four wines.

2012 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
2012 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River Valley

I had tasted a vintage of the Chardonnay previously, but this time, after more education and experience, felt like I was more equipped to offer an evaluation of the wine. I was impressed with the ageability of the 2007. It still possessed lively fruit after seven years. This is one of those wines I would say drink now, it’s at its moment to be enjoyed. The 2012 Chardonnay, which is aged in 100% French oak for 6.5 months (42% new oak) and sur-lie aged with some bâtonnage, is vibrant and fruit forward, with a creamy mouthfeel, ample acidity, and aromas and flavors of apples, pears, baking spices, and vanilla. The wine is both fined and filtered. I purchased a bottle of this wine to enjoy at a later date.

Vichyssoise with smoked salmon and caviar at Jordan
Vichyssoise with smoked salmon and caviar at Jordan

The 2010 Cabernet was equally impressive. It is aged 12 months in 74% French and 26% American oak barrels (39% new oak: 67% French, 33% American) and is aged in the bottle another 21 months. The wine composition is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, and 1% Malbec, which results in a very food-friendly wine that has aromas and flavors of dark berries and chocolate, with a nice balance of acidity and tannin. Decanting the wine prior to serving is recommended. Regretfully, I didn’t purchase this wine and now I am kicking myself. I will have to schedule a return visit soon and will take advantage of one of their varied tour options. To whet your visit appetite, please take a look at their most recent tour and tasting video:

Don’t forget to get fit for these most recent Chardonnay and Cabernet releases. Yes, the wonderful staff at Jordan have a wonderful sense of humor, too.

When you plan your trip to Sonoma County, please make sure Jordan is on your must-visit list and join their rewards program in advance so you can be part of the Jordan family upon arrival.

 

So you think you don’t like Chardonnay

Celebrating the 3rd Annual Chardonnay Day

So you think you don’t like Chardonnay?

Whenever someone says they don’t like Chardonnay, I chuckle to myself. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past few years of tasting, it’s that no two Chardonnays are ever the same.

Last week I had the opportunity to taste three Chardonnays as part of two online celebrations: Jordan Winery’s 40th Anniversary and the 3rd Annual Chardonnay Day.

2009 Jordan Winery Chardonnay

2009 Jordan Winery Chardonnay

I can describe this one in one word: APPLES. It’s like apple pie for grown-ups, with a nice balance of acidity, minerality, and oak.

SRP: $32.00 (jordanwinery.com, sample purchased for $27.99 at Stew Leonard’s Wines, Yonkers, NY)
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Blend: 100% Chardonnay
Alcohol: 13.5%
Aged in 100% French oak (56% new) for 5.5 months, 36% malolactic fermentation

2010 Hahn Family Wines Chardonnay

2010 Hahn Winery Chardonnay and Bojangles

On my way home from running errands on Chardonnay Day, I had a sudden, once-per-decade craving for Bojangles. I pulled over and picked up a two-piece, white meat dinner (wing and breast), with green beans, Cajun dirty rice, and a biscuit. I don’t know what came over me. However, I paired this unconventional dinner with the 2010 Hahn Chardonnay and it was amazing. The chicken fat and salt brought out the tropical fruit (mango, passionfruit, pineapple) and coconut flavors of the wine. What a fusion: Southern Cajun meets the Caribbean.

SRP: $14.00 (hahnfamilywines.com, media sample provided by Hahn)
Appellation: Santa Lucia Highlands
Blend: 100% Chardonnay
Alcohol: 14.0%
82% neutral oak, 18% new French oak

2008-2010 Anderson’s Conn Valley Chardonnay

2008-2010 Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards Chardonnay

One of the highlights of Chardonnay Day was tasting three vintages of Anderson’s Conn Valley Chardonnay. All three vintages are stellar examples of what makes this Chardonnay so special: a balanced and complex Chardonnay that is capable of aging very well. It is a near-perfect balance of acidity, fruit (mango, melon, peach, pear, pineapple), minerality, and oak, but with no malolactic fermentation. As Todd Anderson himself would do, I paired these wines with a basic steak. Yes, I said steak. Try it, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

SRP: $50.00 (connvalleyvineyards.com, 2009-2010 media samples provided by Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards, 2008 purchased from connvalleyvineyards.com)
Appellation: Napa Valley
Blend: 100% Chardonnay
Alcohol: 15.8% (2008), 15.4% (2009), 14.0% (2010)
Aged in French oak 11 months (2009), 10 months (2010) sur lees, stirred every week for a year

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