Six months later, I finally found myself in the tasting lounge with winemaker and Scotsman, Steve Law. He said to me, “Did you know you have an accent?” My reply, “No, you have an accent.” The ice was broken and from that point on, I was enamored with the wines and story of MacLaren.
The choice for my latest Snooth contribution was automatic and without hesitation: the 2012 MacLaren Atoosa’s Vineyard Syrah, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. I fell in love with this syrah a couple of years ago. After publishing this, winemaker Steve Law confessed that he made this syrah for himself and it’s his “wine geek” syrah. That’s why it’s right up my alley. Enjoy reading about this syrah and the rest of list of suggestions from my wine writing peers. Oh, and stay tuned for an upcoming review of MacLaren Tasting Lounge on AmericanWineryGuide.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Want to know what’s been in my glass and around the top of my wine bottles the last few weeks? Then look no further than here! Below is a roundup of a few my favorites sips, as well as this cool wine accessory that a company sent to me to try. (Disclaimer: I am a wine club member at both Passaggio Wines and Domaine Carneros.)
MacLaren Wine Company Atoosa’s Vineyard Syrah 2011, $40 from MacLaren
This wine is one that’s deserving of its Wine and Spirits‘ 95 score and 2014 top 100 wine ranking. It’s simply gorgeous, with complex layers of black fruit and peppery spice. The tannins are integrated and the alcohol is lower, which makes for an elegantly-balanced Syrah. This was a gift from friends. (my vivino review)
Passaggio Unmarked Mendocino County Repeat Offender Sangiovese 2012, $35 at Passaggio 2012 Unmarked Repeat Offender Sangiovese is a delightful play of cherry, cranberry, and raspberry laced with caramel, spice, and strawberry acidity. This wine is easy to sip and will pair with most foods. (my social media review)
Orogeny Redding Ranch Marin County Pinot Noir 2008, price unknown
What a beautiful Pinot Noir: juicy red berry, ample spice, medium tannin, and nice acidity, even after almost seven years. This was a birthday present from friends. (my vivino review)
Hardball Cellars Chardonnay 2013, $28 from Hardball Cellars
This Chardonnay was a gift from Hardball Cellars. It’s fermented and aged in neutral oak, so the oak imparts mouthfeel and texture more than flavor. It’s very fruit forward, with aromas and flavors of tart apple, lemon, and a kiss of vanilla, and finishes with bright acidity. I enjoyed this wine with seasoned scallops and stir fried Brussels sprouts. (my social media review)
Passaggio Unmarked Warnecke Ranch Sonoma County Code Seven Pinot Noir 2013, $46 from Passaggio
This is a light-bodied, pale ruby Pinot Noir. It sees 11 months in neutral oak, so the result is fruit-forward, terroir-driven Pinot. The wine begs for food, with dominant notes of cranberry, spice, and nice acidity. Drink now or hold it for a year or two. (my vivino review)
Domaine Carneros Blanc de Noir NV, $35 from Domaine Carneros
Come to mama! Domaine Carneros Winery Blanc de Noir NV is palate cleansing and refreshing, with aromas and flavors of toast and lime. Key lime pie in a glass, except very dry, with good acidity. Pair with salty and savory foods. 100% Pinot Noir. (my vivino review)
Passaggio Unmarked Coplan Vineyards Sonoma County Most Wanted Merlot 2012, $46 from Passaggio
This single-vineyard, Sonoma County Merlot made by Passaggio Wines is exactly what Merlot should be: fruit-forward with a textured mouthfeel thanks to all neutral oak. It’s juicy and luscious, with ripe red and dark berries, spice, integrated tannins, and nice acidity on the finish. Limited availability. Get it while you can. (my vivino review)
Old York Cellars Oaked Chardonnay 2012, $18 from Old York Cellars
This oaked Chardonnay is very much New World in style. The grapes are estate grown in New Jersey and sourced from other vineyards. The wine spends six months in American oak, medium toast. It’s both rich in color and style, gold, with sweet tropical and cooked fruit flavors, like golden delicious apple and pineapple, as well as vanilla and creamy, butter-like flavors from full malolactic fermentation. I paired this wine with grits, breakfast for dinner. Sample provided by Old York Cellars.
Old York Cellars Merlot 2013, $18 from Old York Cellars This Merlot is what I would call a substantial, Cabernet lover’s Merlot. It has both red and dark berry flavors, distinct tannins, a smoky quality, and a bit of spice on the finish. Because it’s very young and has 15.5% alcohol, it would benefit from decanting or some bottle age. I paired this wine with pork chops. Sample provided by Old York Cellars.
DripTeez Drip Stoppers, $6.99-$8.99 from DripTeez
The social media representative for DripTeez reached out to me and asked if I would like to try some samples and I said yes. The premise is to stop wine from dripping and running down the bottle, which I know happens to all of us from time to time. I was pleased to discover that not only do they work, they are also handmade in the United States. They can be custom made with your favorite bling or logos. Wine is meant to be fun and DripTeez is a practical, playful way to stop drips and dress up your wine bottle.