2011 The Count, Founder’s Red Wine, Buena Vista; 2013 Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc

A rare two-for, a his and hers special to accompany a delicious birthday meal at Fleming’s steak house in Charlotte, NC. His is the domestic Cabernet blend; hers is the imported white.

2011/2012 The Count, Founder's Red Wine, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2011/2012 The Count, Founder’s Red Wine, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

His accompanied a Caeser salad and a medium filet mignon, served on a plate that was even hotter than the steak. The Caesar, amply showered with fresh pepper, had a cool crisp of breadstuff served with it, a buttery treat that was pretty excellent. The dressing was a bit heavy but the steak just buttery smooth. The filet was cooked just about perfect and matched up well with the well-balanced red–an easy selection to make from a favorite Sonoma vineyard. You taste smooth blackberries here, some subtle mild accents too. They are nearly hidden from the palate but come alive as you taste the 2011/2012 The Count.

Her Marlborough-originated Sauvignon Blanc accompanied a Caesar as well. A gossamer of gold in a big fishbowl of a glass, the Loveblock shimmered in the intimate restaurant light and matched the twinkle in my wife’s eyes. It complemented a Chilean sea bass and spicy risotto that seemed just fantastic. The Loveblock, an organic white from New Zealand, is a fresh, fragrant-smelling offering from winemakers Kim and Erica Crawford and is really expressive on the nose. Your author is more of a red fan but appreciated the excellent work here in the 2013 vintage.

We enjoyed these wines–plus a chocolate truffle (with wisps of a great raspberry swirl) dessert and a cheesecake with blueberry sauce–not only to celebrate the occasion but also as a part of Restaurant Week in the Queen City. We’ve had a great time in town over the past week and look forward to next year’s event (and more good wines!) already.

2012 Karoly’s Selection Zinfandel North Coast, Buena Vista

I’m continuing the trend of drinking good wine when I get it rather than holding it in hopes of a bigger celebration. The November 2014 shipment of Count’s Club selections from Buena Vista has not been here long and I’m just pulling corks as the mood and opportunity presents. These wines ARE the occasion–know what I mean?

2012 Karoly's Selection Zinfandel North Coast, Buena Vista, California, USA.

2012 Karoly’s Selection Zinfandel North Coast, Buena Vista, California, USA.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so the meal tonight is not the main event. Know that we’re not starving, to be sure, but rather looking forward to a food experiment with a turducken and some of our favorite holiday food traditions. Not all of ’em, but enough to keep the day fresh for us. Speaking of fresh, let’s talk about the 2012 Karoly’s Selection Zinfandel. It’s a power-packed Zin that brings its A game right from the start. You don’t need to decant this bad boy; we poured in nice glasswear and just sipped contentedly. The best wines are either eagerly or contentedly consumsed, right? This one is a mix of both and infuses some interesting berry tastes and smells folded into this Zinfandel wrapper.

So how does Buena Vista describe Karoly? “The 2012 Karoly’s Zinfandel is a stunning ruby color in the glass with an aromatic bouquet of dark chocolate that evolves into notes of brambleberry and vanilla. Ripe dark cherries abound on the palate, where the rich flavor is rounded with hints of anise and cola and culminates in a lengthy finish that begs for another sip.

Well said. A great wine, and an even better description from Buena Vista.

2012 Elenora’s Selection Chardonnay, Buena Vista

Sometimes when a Count’s Club shipment arrives from Buena Vista I go into a Charlie Bucket mentality. Do you remember how Charlie receives a Wonka chocolate bar for his birthday and savors tiny little bites, just barely addressing his fix while keeping more for the future? That’s how I often feel about a new bottle of wine from our favorite Sonona winery.  I want a sip right away but also to preserve as much as possible for the future; they only arrive a handful of times each year, y’know?

2012 Elenora's Selection Chardonnay Buena Vista Sonoma County California USA

2012 Elenora’s Selection Chardonnay, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

On this one, I held out for nearly a week before opening–and it’s a golden ticket unto itself. My wife and I split the 2012 Elenora’s Selection Chardonnay on a Sunday evening, and this flavorful white wine accompanied an expertly cooked shrimp/scallop entre. The seafood was accented a great orange sauce and fresh herbs that are growing indoors, protected against the changing seasons and their widely ranging temperatures. Be sure to check out the photo too–it shows the inviting Elenora and the “golden jewel blend” cous cous, combining elements for taste and the killer presentation visual.

This richly complex Chardonnay has flavors of lemon cream pie, vanilla, and just a touch of coriander. With a medium plus body, balanced acidity, and great length to the finish, this wine is the perfect pairing for grilled lobster with garlic butter sauce or toasted polenta and sauteed mushrooms.” Well phrased, winemaker, well phrased indeed.

Wistfully I report that we polished off this 2012 Elenora’s Selection in one seating, and we’ll have to wait several more weeks for another possible Chardonnay courtesy of the good folks at Buena Vista.

2011 Zinfandel, Private Reserve, Sonoma County, Buena Vista

The 2011 Zinfandel, Private Reserve Sonoma County (Buena Vista) stayed over with us for a couple of nights.  On the first, this spicy Zin complemented a delicious meal of pork chops, deftly ployed with a savory mustard sauce, and some leftover mashed potatoes that were just as creamy as last Saturday night when we first enjoyed them.  I had passed on opening this bottle several times since receiving but finally broke down and gave it a go this week.

Many of you know of my unrefined palate, know that Notes is just a passing fancy, something to reference and steer me right when I’m next ordering from a wine list or in the store buying.  To you, I’ll say the 2011 Zinfandel Private Reserve had some immediately noticeable spices in it.  I thought the fruit flavor might be cranberry…some red berry that was a little heavier than the raspberry or strawberry of a Pinot Noir, a bit more peppery than a Bordeaux…but really good nevertheless…both with the pork chops and pepperoni pizza the following night.

If you’re a more serious visitor, I sort of wonder how you found this blog (or why you’re still reading!) but still share here the winemaker’s original intentions for the 2011 Zinfandel, Private Reserve: “A beautifully rich, ruby colored wine, the nose opens with expressive aromas of black plum, blueberry, and notes of freshly cracked pepper. Fine tannins, incredible structure, and stunning balance lead to a velvety mouthfeel and a long, satisfying finish.

If you go with a Buena Vista, you’re bound to be on the right track…this one is no exception and you’ll enjoy.

2009 Elenora’s Selection Chardonnay, Buena Vista

Any week that has Buena Vista in it is better than one without.  I’m much less a fan of white wines than I am reds, but when you’re going with a Chardonnay produced by one of the country’s most storied vineyards you’re in good hands throughout your tasting experience.  Our bottle was #1259, and she was drawn from one of 348 cases produced.  Here’s the playbook from the folks at Buena Vista:

2009 Elenora's Selection Chardonnay, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2009 Elenora’s Selection Chardonnay, Buena Vista, Sonoma County, California, USA.

The 2009 Elenora’s Selection Chardonnay displays a spicy bouquet of citrus and ripe pear while bright fruit flavors and great acidity give the wine depth and balance.  A creamy texture and rich flavors of Golden Delicious apples and peaches are brilliantly showcased in this distinctive wine.

Elenora was with us for meals both divine (i.e., salmon with a dijon mustard and oregano sauce) and homespun (i.e., PB&J with chicken noodle soup), and acquitted herself with grace and dignity in each.  The 2009 Elenora’s Selection Chardonnay from Buena Vista is rich in color, more like apple juice than the glassy spring color of a Pinot Gris, and definitely packs in the pear/citrus combination in equal measures.  It’s easy to drink and easier to appreciate.

2011 Carignane, The Count’s Selection, Mendocino County, Buena Vista

Until this evening, we had never heard of a Carignane.  Given its Buena Vista pedigree, though, it felt like an easy selection as my wife and I enjoyed our first weekend together in our new home in the South.  Plus, some of our other options are still packed so the choice is as much about accessibility as it is our favorite Sonoma winery.

2011 Carignane, The Count's Selection, Mendocino County, Buena Vista, California, USA.

2011 Carignane, The Count’s Selection, Mendocino County, Buena Vista, California, USA.

Right away you get a whiff full of red berries (cherry? strawberry? raspberry?), very Pinot Noir-like in its nose.  The 2011 Carignane had that medium-red color of a Pinot as well.  We paired this red with steaks (skillet-style but expertly seasoned), potatoes, and broccoli.  This Buena Vista was very smooth yet had a very subtle tannin feel to it, perhaps a bit more pronounced than with a Pinot Noir but perhaps because of its age at the time of consumption too.

Here’s what the folks at Buena Vista offer: “This medium-bodied wine opens with a nose of wild strawberries and red raspberries, a touch of anise and a very distinct minerality that rounds out the bright fruit and allows for a long finish.  With lighter tannins and nice acidity, hints of dried orange peel and herbs bring a delightful depth to the full-fruit contents.

I didn’t catch any of the orange hints, and I’m not sure what anise brings to the table here, but the fruity underpinnings do ring through loud and clear.  We’re talking limited production run, as Buena Vista only output 250 cases of the Carignane but I’d be a willing consumer of another such bottle.