It’s that time again! 2016, also known as “The Year Of No Chill,” is over which means it is time for a recap of how it all went down. Looking back on this year it was a long list of casual gatherings rather than the fine dining and organized get-togethers that have made up past lists. A sign of the times perhaps? Who knows? One thing I do know is that there was a lot to cover after the craziness last year had to offer.
With that let’s dig in:
2015 Robert Sinskey Vin Gris of Pinot Noir con tortilla chips
Sometimes it is the simplest thing that can finish out a day. In this case it was a round of junk food and some rosé. Frankly I love it when a simple pairing comes together that takes little to no effort. In this case it was the end of a long day with little to no snacks available, zero motivation to go buy said snacks but there happened to be a cold bottle of of Vin Gris in the fridge and chips in the cupboard. Done and done.
Midleton Barry Crockett Whiskey
As is tradition I am going to mention some spirits to shake the list up a bit. I knew nothing about this whiskey before I had a chance to try it out. It happened to be pulled out after a family dinner as a “liquid dessert” to finish out the night. Smooth and super delightful. I didn’t have a spirit all year that turned my head like this guy. Similar to the rosé and tortilla chips it was a simple moment that was capped with a fantastic beverage to sip on.
A Visit to Anderson Valley
No family relation to the name but there are definitely some serious wines to be had. I hadn’t been to Anderson Valley for more than a decade and I never had the opportunity to do any wine tasting up there. I have enjoyed a few wines from the area before but it was pure awesome to finally get up there and explore. Between some new discoveries like Philips Hill or some old staples like Navarro, it was a great reminder to keep trying new producers and new appellations. You never know when you might find a hot new favorite.
1976 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon & 1986 Chianti Classico San Giusto A Rentennano
Every year a group of friends get together to celebrate the 30 year olds in the crowd (yes there are still a couple of us that are getting there). The theme, as you might have figured out, is a to enjoy some wines that are as old or older than us youngins. Each year we get about half way through the wines before their effect starts to kick into gear. By the end of it we have thoroughly geeked out on all the wines and probably dug into some younger vintages as well. It is one of my favorite gatherings each year not just for the wines but because it gives an amazing group of friends an excuse to all get together and unwind.
This year’s gathering didn’t have many slouches and the two listed above were my two favorites. Ridge has been a kick ass producer for decades and I’ve been able to try some of their older vintage wines but nothing in the 40 year range. It was stellar and wasn’t showing any signs of slowing down. The Chianti was an unknown producer to me but I am also not that familiar with Italian wines. I did see it on some sites for as little as $25-$90 range a while back.
Hitting the Road!
This fall marked the first road trip for MTGA which cruised through Missouri, Texas and Illinois. I already covered quite a bit of this trip in my previous post but I could not help but bring it up once more. To be a part of some amazing events and see friends new and old was awe-inspiring. Outside of winemaking, bringing people together for the sheer enjoyment of wine and good company is what keeps me in this business.
Release of the 2013 Single Barrel
It goes without saying that introducing the “reserve” bottling this fall was a big step for MTGA. While the production was just that – one barrel – it was extremely fun to put this wine together over the last two and a half years and now see it take off. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off the Single Barrel program, and with this first release almost gone I cannot wait to continue this new side of MTGA and bring some new fun things into the fold!
1986 Freemark Abbey Edelwein Gold with a snickerdoodle
Call me crazy but this was by far the best wine and food pairing that I had all year. As usual it started out with a casual gathering of friends for some poke bowls after work. It just so happened that the dessert course was that 1986 Edelwein Gold from Freemark Abbey and snickerdoodle cookies. I love my friends but man this combination gave them a run for their money. As far as moments go this one nearly stole the show and continued the trend of this year’s simple enjoyment of wine and good times.
1990 Henri Jayer Vosne Romanee Cros-Parantoux
This moment is a tough one to write about because it wasn’t a best moment, much less a good or ok moment. In fact it was the exact opposite of any of that.
On October 31st my grandpa Gus passed away. My grandfather was the Francophile of the family. His first introduction to wine was when he was in the Navy. He was quickly hooked and while living in the midwest (not really known for its wine) he would fly back east to pick up allocations of European wines from brokers and shops. Needless to say his wine journey didn’t stop there. With my mom and dad, great grandparents and friends that were somehow suckered into helping him helped establish Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards, he was really the driving force behind getting the family into the wine business. Without that drive and focus I am not sure where the family would be today. Probably in the fields they found themselves in prior to wine.
I had seen this bottle in his cellar a few years back and knew of the legend that was Henri Jayer in Burgundy. It went missing after a while though. I assumed it ended at my grandparents house in Michigan and would probably be enjoyed there, or maybe it already was. My grandfather and Henri and become acquaintances after years of my grandfather tracking him down to try and eventually purchase his wines. With Conn Valley producing Pinot Noir as well my grandfather used Henri as a sounding board and benchmark of where he wanted that part of the production to go. Many of Henri’s stylistic influences in Burgundy guided how the wines at Conn Valley were made, though my dad and grandfather always made sure that they had their own influences in the mix as well.
My grandfather was notorious for aging wines until they were ready to drink or maybe resell if there were interested buyers of a particular producer or vintage (looking at you 1990 Margaux). At the same time he always tried to keep something interesting on the table because you never wanted risk missing the potential greatness of a wine either. It is a damn shame that he didn’t have the chance to enjoy this one with the amount of history behind it. I think I can say that he would of appreciated us raiding the cellar that night to ensure this wine was enjoyed rather than lost to the time of waiting for that special moment or occasion. It was a stark lesson of why to open that kick ass bottle you have saved sooner rather than later because you might not be alive tomorrow to enjoy it. I am convinced that there were plenty of great wines he enjoyed in lieu of saving that bottle. I miss him dearly and hope that the celebration of his life continues through those who knew him.