Saturday, June 12, 2021

Post Vaccination Blends

I was fully vaccinated and we were going to celebrate with a once in a lifetime tasting, again.

I decided on the following Cabernet Blends

  • Opus One
  • Dominus
  • Insignia
  • Sassicaia
  • Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
Most of them were younger than I would have liked, but I would try to give them time to open up, planning to decant them for 6 hours. I was still worried, but what could I do?

The day of the tasting, it warmed up. I was worried about the wine during the decanting and turned on the AC.

We started with a variety of Chardonnay. The heat was giving me problems and I struggled to serve the blends at the preferred temperature (61 - 64). Ling and Lili gathered their fill of loquats.

We had a great time tasting with everyone.


D - 2017 San Guido "Sassicaia" Bolgheri, Italy came in first place with an average of 3.87. It cost $220 from K&L.

B - 2017 Opus One, Napa Valley came in second place with an average of 3.49. It cost $325 from K&L. When I tried this I figured it was the 2009, because it was so smooth. One of my tasting notes was, Wow!

C - 2016 Dominus, Napa Valley came in third place with an average of 3.46. It cost $290 from K&L.

E - 2017 Joseph Phelps "Insignia", Napa Valley came in fourth place with an average of 3.40. It cost $250 from K&L.

A - 2009 Pontet-Canet, Pauillac, France came in last place with an average of 2.89. It cost $300 from K&L. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate gave it 100 points.

After we had revealed the winners, I brought out a one of a kind, 5L Santa Cruz Mountains Cuvee, won at the 2014 Premier Cruz silent auction. Dave, from Burrel School, had suggested we wait 5 to 10 years before opening. We had troubles with the cork and had duck taped it closed.

It's fun to wield large bottles!

We thought it was going to be horrible because we had tried the cuvee twice before and had given the wine to the tree out back after one sip. We opened it because I didn't want to move wine that we would never enjoy to our new place in Santa Rosa. From the big bottle it actually tasted pretty good.

Who knows how many more of these occasions we'll have in the future, given our move. It's not like we're never going to see anyone ever again, but it does seem unlikely we'll have as many of these kinds of gatherings in the future. We're blessed to have such incredible friends.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Post Vaccination Champagne

Sue texted me the good news.

April 1st I would qualify for a vaccination. I got excited and started planning our first post vaccination gathering. I would spare no expense to celebrate. I would start with a Champagne tasting, followed by blend tasting. WINEKING inspired some of the wines, while best of lists and K&L recommendations filled in the rest.

People convinced me to split the event into two tastings. They thought it was too much wine for one tasting. They were probably right.

For the champagne tasting, I started with the following
  • Cristal
  • Bollinger La Grande Annee
  • Krug "Grande Cuvée"
The Fosters had generously gifted us a couple bottles of Cristal and I wanted to share the experience with our friends.

After receiving the Bollinger La Grande Annee I realized that this was the same champagne we had on new years eve of 2020. When I had purchased it, I thought I was buying Wine Enthusiast's #1 wine, when in fact, it was their #10 wine.

Champagne Review: Armand de Brignac "Ace of Spades" Gold Brut educated me that Cristal is not the champagne of choice for rappers anymore. Initially I was able to resist my urge to find one to add to the tasting, but as I hemmed and hawed about if and how to have the tasting. I figured we needed at least 4 champagnes and ordered it. You can alternatively read about it via a Decanter article Carlos found: Rapper Jay-Z boycotts ‘racist’ Cristal.

An Instagram ad for the 2012 Veuve Clicquot Le Grande Dame convinced me to pick up this beautiful box and bottle to make a total of 5 champagnes.

I was worried we wouldn't have enough champagne after the tasting, so we picked up a 3L bottle of Tsarine. Yeah, we're nuts.

We had an incredible haul of champagne lined up for the tasting.

Sue did a great job setting up everything outdoors.

We started with some 2018 Tondre, Tondre Grapefield Chardonnay. It was very nice. Adam, Alex's long time boyfriend, who doesn't typically like wine, helped himself to another pour. I took it as a good sign.

Jennifer entertained us with her rendition of tiny bubbles on her ukulele. Sue helped out with the singing. Some joined in on the chorus. We should have printed out the lyrics. Sue had said this, but I never followed through.

We had a great time tasting with everyone. It had far been too long since we had seen everyone in person. It was a great feeling hugging friends again.


A - Krug, Grand Cuvee, 168 edition came in first place with an average of 4.15. It cost $170 from the K&L. Unbelievably, Mac thought A was a Krug and indicated it in his notes. He said it had a distinct taste. I was very impressed.

E - 2012 Bollinger La Grande Annee came in second place with an average of 3.53. It cost $330 from Artisan Wine Depot as a magnum.

B - Armand de Brignac "Ace of Spades" Gold Brut came in third place with an average of 3.43. It cost $260 from Wine Chateau.

D - 2012 Veuve Clicquot Le Grande Dame came in fourth place with an average of 3.32. It cost $200 from Wine Express.

C - 2012 Louis Roederer "Cristal" Brut Champagne came in last place with an average of 3.10. It cost close to $300 from K&L or TotalWine.

It was great to see everyone again, in person, and cheers surviving the pandemic with a once in a lifetime champagne tasting.