Feeling guilty (but only slightly)–Part One

I was feeling a little guilty last (Monday) night.  Our son takes piano lessons and we have been trying to change his lesson time for a few weeks.  As a result, the little guy has gone a couple weeks without a lesson, calling him to question if he really is (half) Asian.  Finally, his teacher agreed that he could see him at 7:15 last night.  Being that the music school is about 15 minutes away, the teacher rarely starts or finishes on time, and we like to get our kids to bed by 8:00 (which never happens, but we still maintain the façade), it was going to be a challenging evening.  My wife had the idea that she would take him to piano and I would stay at home with the younger maniac, getting him ready for and into bed on time (for once).

The problem: I was exhausted.  And dealing with the younger by himself is much more tiring than dealing with the two of them together.  For one thing, the younger has me wrapped around his little finger.  It’s my fault, I know, but there is little I can do about it, so back the frig off.  Second, I just started a new job a couple weeks ago and I had had to be in rather early that morning.  Third, I was still tired from the previous weekend.

Friday, a good friend was having a marriage party.  I’m not really sure if that is what they called it, but I am confused by their whole ‘wedding/marriage/life together’ story anyway.  I think they were officially married over a year ago in Scotland.  (I think it was actually Wales. ‘The groom’ occasionally reads this ‘publication’ and I know saying it was in Scotland will tweak him, but I do not give a Honey Badger–besides, what the hell is the difference anyway?  Didn’t we fight the war of Independence just so we wouldn’t have to remember all those effing ‘countries’ over there?)  Then they also had a ‘wedding’ here in Philly a few months later during a hurricane.  Um, I chose not to attend that one (but should have).  And now this.  I mean, what the hell?  How many weddings (to the same person) do you get?

Well, that was Friday and seeing that the ‘groom’ is one of my better drinking buddies, I kind of had to go.  Not that I needed any prodding, but he texted me: “There will be Flowers“.  Well, he had me right there.  Before you all get your panties in a bunch, realize that he meant (and I knew what he meant) the wine not the decorations/greenery/frilly crap.  Flowers is one of the top producers of California pinot noir.  And you all know I love to get my pinot on.  Well, we could not find a sitter, so Tammy stayed home with the boys and I headed out to the party (I considered it making the sacrifice–that’s how I roll).

The house was amazing, way out of my income bracket but there were a few of my cycling teammates there, so at least I had someone with whom I could battle for the shrimp appetizers.  (Cyclists are generally skinny, wimpy guys and I normally dwarf these guys. Plus, I am currently a good 15 pounds over weight, so I had more than my fair share of the bottom dwellers)  I could go on about the cycling chit-chat with my shaved-legged friends,  but that would bore us all to tears, so I’ll talk about the wine (since you’re twisting my arm).  I do not have any pictures (that would have beenso bush league), but here is the list that the ‘groom’ sent me:

NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut Yellow Label–OK, Veuve is a tad bit cliché.  Just about everyone who thinks they are ‘cultured’ has the yellow label (of Veuve Clicquot) in their repertoire.  It has become a bit of a status symbol for the Beemer crowd.  Having said that (and I realize I might have pissed off a few of you out there), I like Veuve.  A lot.  It is a pinot dominated champagne (good thing) and I have been on their tour in Reims many, many times.  So I like it. A lot.  Even though my Beemer is a Prius.  Very good. 89 points. I would go higher, but I do not have a BMW.  Or a personal assistant.

2009 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris–I am also a big fan of Olivier Humbrecht and his wines.  I went on a tour there as well, which might be the best tour I’ve been on in France.  Great guy, great wines.  I also love the pinot.  In this case, the pinot gris.  But not this one.  Normally, PG from Alsace is rich, full-bodied, unctuous and sometimes a bit sweet.  But not this one.  Don’t get me wrong, it was OK, but had none of the characteristics that I just mentioned.  Drat.  Good, no more. 85 points.

2010 Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay Napa Valley–I do not have a lot of experience with Cakebread.  I have visited once, but was a bit non-plussed, particularly when given the cost of their wines.  When the server poured this for me, I was excited.  I really wanted to like it, really.  I sniffed, sipped, and swished.  I even swirled.  Thin, acidic, and a bit vapid.  Good.  Perhaps.  84 points.

2009 Jordan Winery Chardonnay Russian River Valley–Did not see this one, I think.  Maybe I saw it and passed.  I really don’t remember.  Either it sucked, and I poured it out, or I did not try it.  Ergo, no rating.

2010 Mer Soleil Unoaked Chardonnay Silver Santa Lucia Highlands–So this may have been the complete antithesis of the Cakebread.  I did not anticipate liking this one at all (but I did).  Big corporate style wine.  It comes in a hokey ceramic bottle.  I do not know if this bottle costs more than a normal bottle, but it looks like it costs more.  If it does cost more, it pisses me off (I do not want to pay for your gimmicky bullcrap).  If it doesn’t cost more, it pisses me off more because I feel manipulated into thinking it costs more and therefore should think the wine is better/cooler/hipper/gangsta than it really is.  As a wine, however, I was pleasantly surprised.  It may be because it directly followed the Cakebread (which did not quite suck), but this was richer and fuller without being over the top.  Very Good.  89 points.

2009 BeauxFreres Vineyard & Winery Pinot Noir Willamette Valley–Another wine that I was very excited to try.  I made a pilgrimage to the Willamette Valley a couple of years ago and although I did not make it to Beaux Frères (you basically have to know the pope to get in there), it is a well-known winery (mostly because it is associated with Robert Parker, über wine-critic guy, who generally annoys me, but…).  I liked it.  It was earthy and understated.  I think it would have been one of the best wines of the night with food.  But it was more of a cocktail party, so well, it was tough to get a feel for its relation to food.  Very good.  Could have been excellent with a nice grilled salmon.  89 points.

2008 Gary Farrell Wines Pinot Noir Russian River Valley–Yet another winery I have been able to visit.  Gary has long since sold the place to more of a corporate entity, but the winery is beautiful.  The wine was fantastic–lots of fruit and a bit of a backbone–I was really excited about this wine, I was a big fan.  Excellent.  91 points.

2007 Flowers Vineyard Pinot Noir Andreen-Gale Cuvee Sonoma Coast–I hate to sound repetitive, but yet another one of my favorite wineries, which I have also visited (you’d think it was my third wedding!).  For me, this was the wine of the night (WOTN).  Great fruit, fantastic finish.  It also reminded me of my visit there and their winemaker, Darrin Lee, whom I met at the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) and threw back a few.  Outstanding.  93 points.

2007 Calera Wine Company Pinot Noir Reed Vineyard Mt. Harlan–A bit of a legendary winery, Calera was one of the pioneers of pinot in California.  I had never had any, so I was stoked (CA slang, thank you very much) to try this.  It was not at the bar, but in the kitchen, so I sucked up to the servers (something I do often–from my days working in the boarding school–befriend the kitchen and the janitors ASAP), and got them to bring out a bottle for me to try.  It worked (shock).  And I really liked this wine.  A lot.  Had I had a pork chop or a mushroom risotto, this might have been the WOTN.  It was rustic but lacking a bit fruit when compared to the Flowers and the Farrell.  Nonetheless, it was fantastic.  Outstanding.  90 points.

2009 Domaine Comte Armand Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru–I tasted this very late in the evening, after the cigars made their appearance.  I love smoking cigars.  Until the next morning.  Then I think they are an absolutely effing moronic idea and I hat myself for days.  I would have cursed in that last sentence, but my now nine year old can read AND use the internet, so I am trying to tone it down a bit.  Anyway, I can’t really rate this wine because of the stupid fucking cigar.  I know it was good because it was a Burgundy, though.  Call me a French whore, I can take it (and you would not be the first, so take it down a notch).  Not rated.

2008 Etude Wines Pinot Noir Carneros–I sooooo wanted to taste this.  But I do not think I did.  The servers left while I was smoking my cigar.  Bitches/bastards.  Sorry son.

Part 2 coming soon….


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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2 Responses to Feeling guilty (but only slightly)–Part One

  1. LOL. Enjoyed for the romp through your evening. Much fun! What a great line up of wines. I agree with you that when I have had Cakebread Chard, I have not loved it (though I know many who do). And we, too, had a lackluster, overcrowded tasting experience there. But, have to say we are fans of the Jordan Chard. Adore Flowers and Farrell! And now I am putting Calera on our “to try” list. Thank you! And cheers!


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