2014 Merlot, Wente Vineyards

It is just a short flight from JFK to the ROC tonight and I wasn’t originally going to have a cocktail on the trip. We were delayed while the ground crew flipped the late-inbound flight, however, and by the time we got this silver bird rolling I had already power napped for a few moments on the tarmac and was excited to get to Rochester. So, okay, an excuse for a glass of vino…

…I also chose this drink because I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Wente in the past, a worthwhile field trip with my good bud and his wife out in the Livermore Valley. This is an airplane red, and those of you in the know are already picturing it being served just a bit too cold from the galley to really enjoy. That’s sort of the case here, but you make up for lost time by eagerly splashing your plastic cup–easily warmed stemware at its American Airlines finest.

2014 Merlot, Wente Vineyards, Lissimore Valley, California, USA.

2014 Merlot, Wente Vineyards, Livermore Valley, California, USA.

It’s a young grape, one without the deeper flavors (you can tell even before checking the year) or nuances yet juicy and fruity nevertheless. Enjoyable. The 2014 Merlot from Wente and its Selected Estates isn’t going to medal in any competition this weekend, but the family does good work, and you know some effort went into this red. It’s comforting. I sipped contentedly and wished away the miles and the encumbrances of a long work week–thoughts on the horizon and the fun weekend in store.

2005 Concannon Limited Release Petite Sirah

The first thing you realize about the 2005 Concannon Limited Release Petite Sirah is its weight. I’m not talking figuratively but rather literally. The bottle itself is a heavy, crafted piece of art and holds so much promise in its customized glasswork. Without my muse here to document the Concannon, however, you’ll have to suffer with my crude photo instead.

2005 Concannon Limited Release Petite Sirah

2005 Concannon Limited Release Petite Sirah, Livermore Valley, California, USA.

I’m still thinking about how to best describe this 2005 Concannon Petite Sirah–which I actually picked from my mother’s wine cellar because it is from the Livermore Valley region of California. I did not have my favorite Sirah glass to further delve into the nuances of this grape, so it stands largely on its own merits. It pours rich and red, full-bodied and more tannic than the Pinot Noir we enjoyed last night. When you first sip it, the Concannon is more neutral and light…and then it warms in your mouth and has a much more substantive finish. Interesting complexity in that way for sure.

Helping to tame all the tannins here was our roasted pork loin, itself slathered in a purple fruity marmalade and expertly seasoned to taste. One of my favorites sides we had too–Wegman’s Golden Jewel Blend–and piled forkfuls of this on my plate. Alternating between bites of the couscous and pork, all the while sipping on the Concannon and listening to my family trading stories, made for an enjoyable and memorable dining experience.

Writes Jim Concannon on behalf of his vineyard, “This limited-release Petite Sirah is the essence of Concannon, displaying fantastic depth and character. It is full-bodied, rich with cherry flavors and has a hint of tasty oak for a smooth, silky finish.

The oak eluded me but the cherry I definitely glimpsed here. Yet it presents itself to the consumer in a way very different from the Pinot Noir did just beforehand. I liked this Central Coast wine but it was not a world changer.

Wente Vineyards Morning Fog 2011 Chardonnay

If you remember our last post about Wente, you know we’re fans and were looking to echo the success of our last bottle with another of the finest from this Livermore Valley vineyard.  We anticipated sharing this one with good friends–originally from Park Slope in Brooklyn and now in Yonkers–for the Easter weekend.  My wife’s dear friend is a professional chef, and this light, nearly sweet Chardonnay was intended to accompany a mushroom lasagna and other festive plans we had in mind.

Wente Vineyards 2011 Morning Fog Chardonnay, Livermore, California, USA.

Wente Vineyards 2011 Morning Fog Chardonnay, Livermore, California, USA.

Unfortunately, our plans fell through and Becca and I were left with nearly two dozen eggs to color ourselves, a pile of delicious snacks, and a Paas kit ready to go.  Thankfully, we’re creative folks, and we do love our eats.  Makes for a powerful combination!

Anyway, we set up the kitchen table–cups for dunking, pens, crayons, and rubber bands, and this delicious white.  Perfect way to celebrate Easter!  You can see in the accompanying photo both our empty bottle as well as the colored treasures we created ourselves.  The wine was great, the occasion sound, and the company best of all.