Thursday, July 27, 2023

The Best Wine Is Wine Shared With Friends

Tasting Features Sparkling Wine and California Reds

A Grand Tasting With Wines From France, California, and Italy

When friends gather, it’s time to break out the good stuff. Over the recent years, as we’ve encountered a few bumps on life’s highway, I’ve come to appreciate even more the pleasures of good wine shared in the company of first-class friends.

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And so when we traveled to Ohio for a family visit, it was time to connect with good friends Steve, Tracey, and Maria. Steve and Tracey (Cabernetor and Glorious T!) hosted a wine dinner that was perfect in all regards.

Our evening started as every evening should – with sparkling wine. The bottle of choice was the Gilles & Romain’s Collet Crémant from Burgundy. This is a brut sparkling wine made from 100% Chardonnay. Elegant, with an aroma of citrus and pepper, it was full of creaminess – a perfect fizz to start the evening.

French Crémant Gets The Crowd Bubbling

After a bit of hobnobbing, we were ready for dinner. The crowd enjoyed the bubbly so much that Green Dragon (my wife) demanded more. Steve’s cellar has depth, and he soon emerged with another Crémant, Faire La Fête. The wine is from Limoux, the birthplace of French sparkling wine. Faire La Fête means “to party” or live it up. Good selection! Faire La Fête is a blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir. It’s a beauty with pear and white blossom notes with the requisite creamy bubbles. This is one of the best sparkling wine values out there with a price of about $21.

Masterful Wines From Beringer Vineyards Plus Brunello

When the entrée arrived the reds rolled out. I had brought a 2014 Beringer Quantum, a rich dark Cabernet blend. The four of us (alas Maria wasn't along) had visited Beringer Vineyards years ago on a dark and stormy night during a trip to Napa and Sonoma. We enjoyed our meal and conversation while sipping the Quantum (dark fruit, plum, earthiness, and oak). I hoped the bottle would stir memories of that wine adventure.

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Steve pulled a surprise out of his hat, as he quickly grabbed a bottle of beautifully aged 2012 Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Both reds were aerated via the Wine Breather, which always provides a pleasing show.

I was frankly surprised by how well the 2012 Beringer was drinking more than 10 years on. It was soft and silky with raspberry, spice, and black cherry rocking the flavor. Founded in 1876, Beringer Vineyards is the oldest continuously operating winery in the Napa Valley. They also offer wines in a variety of quality levels with prices from $20 to $400.

Fortified by numerous glasses of wine, I decided it was time to unleash a furious ping-pong attack on Steve. This can only be done after he has several glasses of red wine. Since I had also consumed several glasses, I lost my advantage. It was good table tennis with no declared winner. We headed upstairs.

It was time to enjoy the starry Ohio night on the patio. The 2012 Rodolfo Cosimi “Terra Rossa” Brunello di Montalcino. In the late 1800s, it was determined that Brunello and Sangiovese were the same grape. Today it is one of Italy’s best-known and most expensive wines.

Sour cherry, baking spice, and blackberry jam highlighted this 100% Sangiovese beauty. We sipped away and slipped away into old memories and new tales as the night wound down.

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