To be honest, it was a little scary to get back from three days of tasting in Napa and Sonoma, the way we spent our first anniversary (and also our Honeymoon), to realize we had purchased nearly five cases of wine. We are relatively modest people, even when it comes to wine. We can’t really deal with Three-buck Chuck anymore, but we don’t drink forty dollar bottles when a fifteen dollar bottle will often fit the bill just fine. That, and we tasted for about seven hours a day on average. By the end of each of those, of course, we weren’t necessarily at the top of our game. I (Mark) began to look a little nervously at the mixed case of Merlot we bought with an air of certain incredulity.
Then we cracked one open. Last night, we opened a Ballentine Merlot, 2010. Ballentine is a quaint little tasting room with vineyards all around, and the tasting room was operated by a knowledgeable, kind woman who clearly enjoyed what she did. With that in mind, it was a relief to find out last night upon opening the bottle that we had not purchased the wine for the ambiance, nor out of pure exhaustion, nor on impulse. That wine is really good. I mean, really good. We like Cabs, full-bodied, in-your-face Cabs, most of the time. This Merlot totally fit the bill for us, with plenty of tannins — more than usual for a Merlot for sure, a full body, and a nice, long finish to rival most of the Cabernet I’ve had recently. It wasn’t a cheap bottle, maybe $25, but well worth it in the grand scheme of things. Sonja wants to join their wine club.
We could probably go through those five cases by my birthday in April, if we wanted to, but we’ll try to pace ourselves. I’m excited to try more of our “finds” from the trip. I’ve discovered I really enjoy Barberas. More than that, though, we enjoy the other things that wine offers to us. Time to spend together, usually over dinner, usually with a fire going during these winter months here in Nebraska, often with jazz music playing in the background. Wine becomes an ingredient in our evenings, the spice that makes the dish of life “pop.” It’s a dish best served hot, and always better shared with others.
Ballentine wines can be found at: http://www.ballentinevineyards.com/