Some of you may have seen my photos on social media containing a completely insane lineup of bucket list wines (Think 02 Insignia in magnum, 04 Colgin, 05 Abreu, 10 Quilceda Creek, etc). Well, that was from last years’ inaugural WineFest and we decided to make it a tradition so I can now call it the Annual Cousins’ WineFest….The Greatest Night of the Year!
I have to start by introducing the team that makes this night all possible. Mark and Karen. These two generously allow a few of us lucky souls to invade their home for a night. They put on an amazing spread of charcuterie, cheese, bread, etc to get us started and then always have something fantastic hiding for dinner such as chicken tacos or a great white chili. Of course, I do realize you aren’t here to read about food so let’s get to the cellar.
Words really cannot do this cellar justice, but I will give it a shot. It is filled with labels from around the world including multiple vintages of wines from such incredible producers as Donum, Quilceda Creek, Joseph Phelps, Etc. It is my personal candyland and I never ever want to leave. But on to the wine!
First off, a 2010 Shafer Hillside Select was poured into the decanter to just sit while we cracked open a magnum of 2007 Pride Reserve Claret. The Pride was incredible right out of the gates. Smooth with soft tannins and a ton of that quintessential Pride mountain fruit.
To follow the Pride, we opened up a 2013 Donum West Slope Pinot. This wine is true to Donum. Just absolutely beautiful. Lots of tight fruit and easy to drink but could sit a few years and be even better.
Once the Donum was gone(I think Karen stole it all), we cracked a 1995 Joseph Phelps Insignia. This was, hands down, the winner of the night for me. Tons of fruit left on a wine nearly 22 years old. Soft and full bodied, this wine is what dreams are made of. I may have tried to bathe in it, but I can’t recall for certain. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we are now onto our third bottle of wine. Oh and we sipped on the Shafer a bit….still not ready.
After the Insignia we jumped over to Italy and broke out a 2010 Fattoria Del Pino Brunello Di Montalcino. This wine surprised me as it was completely approachable right out of the bottle. Nice earthy fruit and slightly tannic. It was a lot of fun to compare against some of the big CA wines.
Sticking with the foreign theme we then opened a Malbec that is produced by Wagner Family Wines called Red Schooner. This particular bottle was Voyage One. This is such a great, fruit forward Malbec and a really fun story. The grapes are grown in Argentina and then chilled down so they can be shipped to America. The wine is then produced in CA. Best of both worlds…fruit grown in the greatest Malbec region in the world and produced by one of the best winemakers in the world. Win Win! We tried the Shafer again….still not ready.
To be completely honest, there were a few more wines sprinkled in there that I am not getting to on this post. And, there is one drink I am glad we did not decide to try – Paul Bunyan Jim Beam Whiskey!
The next morning we woke up to breakfast burritos using the best pork from our other cousin’s family, the Tollefson’s. Find this pork and buy it! After breakfast we headed back down to the cellar for a quick check on the Shafer. If you think we’re insane, I don’t blame you. My head was a little cloudy, yes, but my pallet was (read:is always) ready. The Shafer tasted better that morning than it had the previous night. I actually think it would stand another day or two in the decanter. Incredibly balanced, earthy yet fruity. Just a huge, extremely well-made wine. Breakfast wine, even!
I cannot thank Mark and Karen enough for hosting these nights. It is truly something I look forward to all year long and it allows me to geek out over special wines that I never thought I would be able to try. I hope everyone gets to enjoy these types of evenings with their friends and family. That’s what wine is all about. Please share any of your traditions in the comment section!