2017 was a pretty great year. From a family and friends perspective, we have been blessed with wonderful people in our lives and the best kids we could ever ask for. Titus is picking up words faster than I ever imagined, and Zooey babbles constantly, smiles beautifully, and is juuuuuuust about ready to start crawling any day. Right now, she’s sitting next to me, gently fussing while I type as together we watch Michigan play South Carolina with only a modest facsimile of genuine interest.
Last night, we welcomed 2018 with some dear friends at a lodge up in the mountains. Tim and I were fraternity brothers, and his wife Becky and their children have been part of our lives for many years. Mark and I worked together at the gym in college, and similarly, his wife Mashala and their children are very important to us, though we do not see them nearly often enough. We spent the last several days in a mountain lodge, eating, playing games, and relaxing, and last night, after witnessing an amazing sunset on the mountains, the adults stayed up past our bed times in order to witness the advent of yet another year.
The important part was the time we spent together, the conversations, and the bonding over yet another rousing round of Cards Against Humanity. But, of course, we also shared some wine. Honestly, some of it was great, some of it less so, but all of it contributed to the experience, so for the first post of 2018, I’ll reflect briefly on those wines below.
This was the first one, a budget-friendly dry Riesling from a reputable producer. I sipped at it while I cooked dinner, and found it to be pleasantly simple. In the $10 range, this is everything from a spicy food pairing to a patio pounder and everything in between.
This Illahe Gruner 2015 was terrific and a rare domestic take on the classic Austrian varietal. Paired with Mike Farmer-inspired tacos, it boasted subtle lime and mineral notes that started popping in the presence of salty food. Light lemon hue that pales emerald in the light, it’s aromatic and a slightly grassy on the nose, crisp and refreshing upon the palate.
This is a really interesting wine to me. I opened it after the Gruner Veltliner ran out, as much as an experiment in contrast as anything else. Over the top butter and oak flavors, its not nearly as abrasive as many Napa Chardonnays that are made to teem with the aforementioned flavors. Subtle caramel apple and additional sweetness lingers towards the finish. It’s really a cool wine, but certainly not for everybody.
After that, we briefly switched to reds, largely because I wanted to drink this wine. A combination of affordability and quality that makes me always mark it as a high QPR, the 2016 Intrinsic Cab Sauv is pleasantly well balanced and very drinkable in its youth. I didn’t have access to a decanter last night, but I’d recommend decanting it I think. We enjoyed it a great deal.
Then things got a little weird. I should have known better than opening a wine called “Stella Berry” but it was chilled and the low ABV, 5%, was appealing in the moment. I’m sure there are people who would enjoy this wine, but I sure didn’t.
So after that, a magnum of PG seemed to be in order. (When is a magnum of PG not in order?) I haven’t tried any of Barefoot’s reds in years, though I did read a glowing review of their Zin the other day. Their whites, however, are really impressing me. Amazing wine? Nope. But as simple easy-drinkers go, I’ve enjoyed both their Sauv Blanc and Pinot Grigio recently, and the price is hard to beat. In addition, the history of the wine, having been originally started by the legendary Pinot Noir producer Davis Bynum, makes it fun for me. Last year Sonja and I met his daughter, whose footprint still graces the label. I can recommend this bottom shelf grocery store wine with a clear conscious, as a crowd pleaser with a solid QPR.
Last but not least, we rang in the new year with some Champagne, of course. From the first commercial winery in California, Buena Vista, which is now owned by the Boisett Collection, this wine is made in Champagne and sold by the Sonoma producer. Bready, bubbly, and beautiful, I reviewed this one last year, and was excited to share this with our friends last night.
Almost immediately after midnight, I turned into a pumpkin. To start 2018, I slept later than I ever do, not getting out of bed until around 8:30 this morning. We all shared breakfast and took a photograph of our children before Mark and Mashala hit the road for home. The rest of us are staying a few more days, mostly to watch football and, if I have my way, sit in the hot tub. I hope that you, dear reader, had a similarly wonderful, ideally wine-fueled start to the new year. Let’s make it a great one!
Cheers to 2018, and the wonderful people we’ll spend it with!