Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wine Tasting with Brie & Paul

Another fun day of driving through the countryside, counting *trunnels (what's this? find out at the end of this post!) and drinking wine with our friend Brie and her pal Paul-Flemming from Denmark.

It was a perfectly hot Sunday afternoon, and we packed a light picnic lunch into the cooler.

Brie had selected several wineries on referral, and we started out at Halter Ranch.

Ron and I have visited this wine tasting room previously,
but not so with Brie and Paul.

I kept tasting notes for this post and to transfer into my wine journal.

The 2008 Viognier is delicious and I gave it two stars. However, at $24.00 retail per bottle, it's out of our budget-conscious range for now... especially for a white wine.

We're not Ranch Club or Owner's Club members yet, but when we sign up, we'll qualify for significant discounts on Halter Ranch wines.

I gave their 2005 Merlot 3 stars and the 2004 Ancestor two stars.

Ron and I settled on a bottle of not-too-pricey 2006 Ranch Red for $18.00.

We all really enjoyed the wines and of course the sprawling, rustic grounds, complete with old rusty trucks and big old buildings.

Here are Brie and Paul in front of a barn which has been converted into a picturesque and practical hall for gatherings.

Next, we zipped around the corner to Tablas Creek. Ron and I rediscovered this fabulous winery last August with our friend Elde (see previous post).

Here are the four of us with our wine pourer, Cindy, in the barrel room. I love being in winery barrel rooms!

Not only was she knowledgeable about the wines and Tablas Creek history, Cindy's sense of humor and willingness to play along with our goofiness made the visit special!

Our initial visit was with friends Kevin and Maryella, our winemaking partners, way back in 2004 when our palates were in the neophyte stage and we couldn't appreciate the wines.

But now, suffice it to say that I've found Tablas Creek wines to be excellent. All of them.

We purchased the 2007 Cotes de Tablas, a blend of Grenache Noir, Syrah and Counoise.

Ron was keeping a close watch on the time, and we had to move along.

But our next stop was very close: Le Cuvier.

This place, which was a new winery for all of us, really blew me away. For starters, it looked kind of like a junk yard as we entered the grounds: old equipment and stuff laying around, dilapidated buildings, and patchy, empty fields.

As we exited the car and walked toward the tasting room, we saw a hand-written sign announcing Food & Wine Pairings $5.00.

Inside was a small wooden bar and cabinet, stacks of cases of wine, and the barrels.

A swamp cooler whirred above as Jim handed us each a glass and began pontificating about the wines.

Here's Ron perusing the lengthy and rhapsodic tasting notes, wearing my new readers that I bought in New Orleans at the French Market, as I swirl my glass of wine.

Oh, and about the wine...

Tres fantastique! All of them. But we agreed that the 2005 Cabernet Franc (yes, 100%) was exceptional, and went home with a bottle of it.

We even did the food pairings. The duck pate was especially lovely, and I made a mental note to serve this delicacy at my next dinner party!

Jim introduced us to his new employee, Robin, and invited us to return during the week to thief from the barrels.

Then we decided to have our picnic at a shaded table just outside the tasting room. And that's where we should have stopped, but you know, a plan is a plan and if you can follow it through, you win, according to obsessive-compulsive people like me!

And beside, Four Vines (our last winery for the day) would remain open until six o'clock....

The tasting room was under serious construction, and our palates were seriously overloaded.

But Brie and I did the tasting anyway, such troopers.

We did, however, quit half way through the extensive tasting list!

And I don't remember anything about the wines except they weren't terrible!

And so four sets of purple teeth climbed into the car and headed for home after a lovely and exhaustive afternoon of sipping wine in Paso Robles, California!

*Trunnel n. 1. a tunnel made of trees. 2. trees with top branches linking along two sides of a road, forming a canopy that reminds one of a tunnel while driving through. (Like the Chunnel is the tunnel under the English Channel, a Trunnel is a tunnel made of trees!)

P.S. I coined this word, so you must provide citation when you use it!