Rodney and I spent last weekend, both Saturday and Sunday in beautiful Monterey pouring at the Monterey Wine Festival.
The weather cooperated nicely with cool breezes and delightfully bright sunshine. We had a great time with the visitors as this was a knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowd.
Attending wineries from Lodi were all under the same tent and as a region we were very well received. Many folks commented that the Lodi wines were their favorites of the festival and that they would be planning a Lodi wine tour soon. It’s always gratifying to introduce enthusiasts to the Lodi wine region, our wines and the welcoming, knowledgeable people staffing the tasting rooms.
We enjoyed a lovely dinner at Montrio Bistro in downtown Montery and enjoyed a very interesting appetizer of popcorn and duck confit.
Service and vibe at this restaurant is excellent and if you’re ever in the area we recommend it. I recommend the popcorn appetizer with Roussane, Viognier or Belle Blanc for sure.
On Sunday morning we awoke to a really nice surprise in my inbox with a message from Sunset Magazine International wine competition letting me know my 2015 Grenache Blanc achieved the Best of Class Gold status! Needless to say I was energized for the day ahead.
More good news arrived yesterday - the California Commercial Wine Competition awarded us The Best Viognier in California - 98 pts Double Gold for our 2015 Viognier! Wow!
So the spring has been exciting and enjoyable highlighted by the time we got to spend with our club member family over the 3 weekend pickup open houses we started this year. We were definitely able to spend more quality time with folks which for us, is what the event is all about.
All new plantings are off to a really good start and I’m looking forward to seeing them through this summer and into next year when we will make some more interesting wines.
On a closing note, I want to share a great recipe from Serious Eats, (one of Rodney’s favorite food sites)
Frozen White Wine Yogurt
2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt, cold
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dry white wine, cold
Lemon juice, to taste
Salt, to taste
In a large bowl, whisk yogurt and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Stir in wine with lemon juice and salt to taste (start with 1/4 teaspoon of each).
Transfer to an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve immediately for soft serve, or freeze 2 to 3 hours for a firmer consistency.
We used our 2015 Viognier and if you choose one of the others, please share with us here.
Thanks for reading and happy wine tasting !
Yes! After planning, plotting, waiting and ripping up our Zinfandel, we have just planted the last of our new whites. We've been waiting for these little Bourboulenc beauties for a few years, but they are now in the ground at Acquiesce. So our newly planted 6.5 acres includes the following varieties:
- Picpoul Blanc
- Clairette Blanche
- Grenache Noir
- Grenache Blanc
I am so looking forward to the Chateauneuf du Pape style blends that are in my future with these fun additions!
Doug, our English speaking tour guide picked us up from our hotel in CDP. We outlined the mission for him — we’d like to tour wineries in the area that craft beautiful white wines. This proved to be a challenge for Doug, since only 20% of the wines in CDP are white . . . but he came through for us!
My husband Rodney with our tour guide Doug
Doug, a retired Boeing engineer left Seattle 8 years ago for a vineyard and winery in CDP. Newly retired, Doug felt the lows of the recession of the past few years and had to sell his vineyard. He’s now a necogiant, a wine merchant who buys wine from winemakers and sells it under his label. And, he gives tours to the English and Americans looking for a true CDP experience.
Walter McKinlay and I at Domaine de Mourchon
Our first stop was Domaine de Mourchon and Walter McKinlay. Walter is from Scotland and is doing wonderful things with the grapes of the region. Every wine was delightful, white, rose and red . . .great Chateauneuf du Pape style. His expertly designed winery is based on the gravity fed system, with grapes going in at the top and bottles shipped out from the bottom floor.
After a tour with Walter, we visited several co-operative wineries, where growers and winemakers get together to create a branded wine. It was here that we saw locals filling up old milk jugs with wine . . .for only a couple euros per container and it was good wine!
Filler up at the Co-op
Lunch in a small cafe in the wine town of Gigondas was just amazing. The day would have been complete, but there were more wineries to see . . .
The day I tasted my first white Châteauneuf du Pape wine, my life changed. It was the best wine I had ever had. So I quickly drove back to the store for a couple more cases of this wonderful nectar, only to be told I was holding the last bottle in California! Okay, what’s the deal? After research, I realized that the CDP area of France is mostly known for their lovely Grenache, Syrah & Mouvedre blends and don’t produce many whites. The whites consist of blends with Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier, Clairette and a few other varietals. I decided to give the Grenache Blanc a try and was pleased with the results in our vineyard . . .so I planted Roussanne, Viognier and Picpoul Blanc. These cuttings came by way of Tablas Creek Winery in Paso Robles, California. Tablas is partners with Chateau Beaucastel in Châteauneuf du Pape, where these varietals origninated.
Now I was in Châteauneuf du Pape and I wanted to return to the source, the Mothership, so to speak. I had an appointment with English speaking Richard Haug-Adrion who gave us a tour of the famous Chateau Beaucastel. As one of the most famous wineries in the world, I was surprised at the lack of cars in the drive, tasting room sign or even a welcome sign. I went up to the door and pushed a button. Richard was waiting for us and buzzed us in. I felt like I was entering someone’s elegant home . . .
We were warmly greeted and taken to the cellar filled with large, beautiful wooden fermentation vats where the process of winemaking begins. After fermentation, the wines are moved to large wooden barrels to age until the blending and bottling process begins.
After leaving the barrel room, we entered a cavern of bottles, rows and rows of unlabelled bottles. Since Beaucastel sells to so many different countries, they don’t label their wine until they have a firm order and then apply the correct label applicable to the country. The bottles are piled 10 plus deep and rest on a bed of sand to prevent breakage . . . do you think they’d miss one unlabelled bottle?
I learned that records show a Pierre de Beaucastel buying this property in 1549, but the first mention of vines on the property date to 1792. The Perrin family acquired the property in the early 1900′s and its been in their family since.
After the bottle room, on to some tasting . . . yes! We tried 2 beautiful whites, the first was the 2011 Coudoulet de Beaucastel, a lovely Famille Perrin wine that must be labeled Cotes-du-Rhone, since a new road cut their vineyard into two pieces and these grapes were no longer in CDP. The Coudoulet is a blend of Marsanne, Viognier, Bourboulenc and Clairette. The second white was the CDP Vielles Vignes which is 100% Roussanne from 75 year old vines and had lovely acacia flower and honey aromas with a very rich finish. We actually tried a 2009 Vielles Vignes with dinner the night before with an amazing foie gras and the finish just wouldn’t stop.
The red wines were just as amazing, showcasing their Mourvedre and Grenache, with additions of Syrah, Counoise and Cinsault. There were definite notes of berry, leather with spice and pepper on the palate.
Of course, even though it required the purchase of a suitcase, we had to bring some of these precious beauties home!
Overall, it was a dream come true and I’m still smiling! Thank you Chateau Beaucastel for the tour, the tasting, but most of all for making great wines.
Next, I’ll share our tours of other wineries in the CDP community and talk about the winemakers and our tour guide. . .
We arrived on Thursday afternoon after years of dreaming about this vacation. When I set about planting Rhone white grape varietals in the 4 acre vineyard behind our century old barn, I found the most exotic expressions of fruit came from the Châteauneuf du Pape region of France. Visiting this historic place was a dream come true . . .
We were warmly greeted by Andre at La Mere Germaine, which first opened in 1922 by Madame Germaine Vion, the chef at the Élysée Palace at the beginning of the 20th century. The hotel has lovely views, front and back, and our balcony overlooked the small downtown area. Andre was wonderful and the food at La Mere Germaine was the best we had while in France. The rooms were typical of a century old building, but we didn’t spend much time in the room. http://www.lameregermaine.fr/index.html
We walked to the top of the town which was built in 1094, to the New Pope’s Chateau, a former summer home of the Pope who resided in Avignon, France. The Chateau is now a ruin today. But the sights of the vineyards, the Rhone River and the town, made the walk up the steep hill worthwhile. The Pope lived here during the Avignon Papacy from the period 1309 to 1376. During these years, seven successive popes resided in Avignon, in modern-day France, rather than in Rome.
But the reason we were there was for the grapes and the wine . . .
In the meantime, read about why you should visit us at Acquiesce.
We love what we do and we think you will, too! Come taste our wines and visit the Acquiesce surrounded by 18 acres of wine grapes. Our century old barn houses our tasting room. Let us slide open the barn doors for you and pour you some of our white wines. As you sip a glass of our white outside surrounded by vines with a hundred acre view, consider taking a walk out to the vineyard and try the Grenache Blanc right on the vine.