What We Have Been Drinking, Taking Our Son to College—8/23/2021

Over the course of a week, I taste a bunch of wine, usually with friends, and almost always with my wife.  Here are some of the wines we tasted over the past few weeks. These are wines that were not sent as samples—in most cases, I actually paid for these wines (although a few have been given as gifts).

After being out in Oregon for nearly two weeks, I returned home for one day only to head out the following morning with my two sons to drive the 1500+ miles to Cleveland, Ohio to drop him off for his first year of college. I still found a a way to tear into a few bottles of wine, however, and here are a few of those bottles that I managed to find along the journey.

2017 Vite Colte La Casa in Collina Barbaresco, Piemonte, Italy: Retail $65. $60 at Etna Restaurant, Little Italy, Cleveland. 100% Nebbiolo. We were in Cleveland dropping our freshman off at school and we decided to head over to Little Italy for the Feast of the Assumption (or something like that, I have no idea). As soon as we crossed the barriers, we were instantly uncomfortable; there were so many people it was nearly impossible to move. There was no way we would be able to make it to the restaurant we had in mind, so we doubled back to Etna and miraculously were seated right away. While I likely should have ordered a Sicilian wine given the name of the restaurant, this Barbaresco spoke to me. Light in the glass, essentially translucent crimson with a nose of black cherry, dark earth, and ground black pepper. Fruity, but in an old world way, but the focus is certainly on the acidity and the earthiness. I do not have a ton of experience with Barbaresco, but this is fairly baller. Sure, it’s a bit young and therefore a bit disjointed, but this is fantastic and has a long life ahead of it (as does my son, hopefully). Excellent. 91 Points.

2018 Failla Chardonnay Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $40. Under cork. We saw this little gem on the shelf of the one wine shop we were able to locate relatively close to campus so we brought it back to the room. My fondness for Ehren Jordan’s wines predate my blog and while his Pinots get perhaps more attention, it’s his Chardonnays that capture my interest (don’t get me wrong, his Pinots are top notch but I think his Chardonnays are even a notch above and I saw the Chard first in the store). We opened this while watching perhaps the worst movie of all time the day before my son moved into his dorm for his freshman year at college. I didn’t realize it now, but it is one of our last moments as a unit, at least for a while. Slightly golden in the glass with a lovely nose of lemon curd, vanilla, and just a hint of oak. On the palate this exhibits Ehren’s greatest strength, sure there is fruit, yes the acidity is on point, and the oak is subtle but noticeable. But. The balance. They all meld together in one cohesive effort with none of the components demanding any more attention that the others. Lovely. Outstanding. 93 Points. 

2015 Shea Wine Cellars Shea Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $45. Humble Wine Bar $60.  Under cork. A solid value on a list that includes a ton of gems, we really liked the Humble Wine Bar not just for the wine, but the pizza was excellent. I have not had much Shea since it is largely out of my price range, but this slotted in nicely after the Grgich Hills (see last week). Yowza. While I have been to the Willamette a number of times, I have curiously never visited Shea, one of the more storied vineyards in the valley. Dark in the glass with black cherry, plum, and considerable spice. Yes, this Pinot comes off as a more thick-skinned and brooding version than many of its brethren in the valley, and the palate is expectedly big (but far from huge) with plenty of fruit still, five years out. But this wine is balanced, juicy, tart, and fantastic. It faded a bit after opening, but still stellar. Outstanding. 93 Points.

2020 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Malborough, New Zealand: Retail $18. Under screw cap. After dropping off Nathan in Cleveland, my other son, Sebastian, and I were making the long trek back to Houston, close to 1,500 miles. On the way up, we had stayed the night in Little Rock, Arkansas, but finding the city, well, considerably less than enthralling, we decided to push a little further south to Arkadelphia, Arkansas (figuring, stupidly, that it would be similar to our “home” of Philadelphia–wrong). While the hotel was newly built and therefore fine, the dining choices were sparse. Since Slim & Shorty’s was closed and the Waffle House does not serve booze, we settled on the Hamburger Barn. While my “medium rare” Mushroom Onion Burger was decidedly well-done, it was still quite good, I have to say (although I thought my side of onion rings was a bit paltry–there were four tiny rings). As for the wine, here was the list:

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

Meiomi Pinot Noir

End of list

So I opted for the former, which showed up warm (“we don’t have a lot of people ordering this”), but it was what I expected: tart, fruity, cold. Wait. Just two of those. Very Good. 88 Points.

The interior of the Hamburger Barn, complete with Christmas wreath. In August.

WINE OF THE WEEK: This week, while very tempted to select the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (there really was no other place in town to order wine, at all), I decided to opt for the 2015 Shea Wine Cellars Shea Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir as this Week’s Wine of the Week since it was yes, a stellar wine, but also the last dinner the four of us had together, at least for a while.

What was/were your Wine(s) of the Week?



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.
This entry was posted in Chardonnay, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Willamette Valley, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What We Have Been Drinking, Taking Our Son to College—8/23/2021

  1. frankstero says:

    I find that Kim Crawford SB OK, but the Limited Parcels Spitfire SB is much better.


    • That is the thing about the KC SB, it is “OK” so usually the best choice when it is offered (since the other options are usually regrettable at best), but I agree, there are a plethora of better options.


  2. lulu says:

    You probably needed a bottle of wine after leaving your oldest at college.


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