Monday, October 3, 2011
Just got back last week from a 7-day jaunt up to join my two older bros for a visit with my parents up in Ottawa, Canada. A long trip, but it was nice to see the fam together again after all these years.
I got back last Tuesday night, and by Saturday Kathy and I were ready to hit the road to Livermore, just south of us in Oakley. Kath had availed herself of an online Groupon deal, paying $15 for $30 worth of food and drink at the well-appointed little café at Garré Vineyard and Winery. We’d had lunch there previously, but this was an added treat: al fresco dining under the sun on the first day of October. The Groupon promotion virtually paid for the bottle of their crisp, chilled house Sauvignon Blanc to accompany our pasta and sandwich dishes. And the deal came with two complimentary wine tastings in the main facility.
The last time we’d visited Garré, there was a hardcore bocce party filling up both of the pitches; today the courts were deserted (see photo above). All the better to get a table outside at the café, I guess.
In Livermore, we’d long been intrigued by the Steven Kent winery. I admit that our nose got a bit out of joint the very first time we visited Livermore as new Oakley transplants during the December open house celebration event in 2009. While every other winery in the area seemed to be pouring the juice freely, Steven Kent was charging a double-digit tasting fee; it just seemed wrong to us, especially so near to Christmas, on a celebratory event weekend, no less.
So, Kathy and I let our nose jut out at a weird angle for a year-and-a-half, until last week, when Kath printed out an online twofer tasting coupon for Stevie. The wonderful tasting experience quickly realigned our nasal passages, all the better to experience the wines of Steven Kent and its ultrapremium offshoot, La Rochelle.
The tasting experience is one of those cool “please wait to be escorted to your tasting station” deals, obviating the hassle of trying to educate a bachelorette party, or a pair of tasters for that matter, who will not relinquish any part of the tasting bar real estate after they’ve been served. At Steven Kent’s barrel room tasting facility, half of the $10 fee is refundable with purchase, and it was worth the fiver to chill in a civilized environment, swirling the Riedel on granite ovals set atop oak barrels.
We had the additional good fortune to have, as our pourers, two of the staffers responsible for the winning red blend making up the 2009 “Sorellanza” cuvee. Translating to “Sisterhood," this blend of 50% Barbera, 30 Sangio and 20 Malbec represents a line, some proceeds of which go to research organizations, most notably those fighting breast cancer. We had all three members of the blending team, victors in a blind tasting, sign our bottle.
Now, if you will excuse me from this post, Fritter the kitty is on my lap trying to chew the tasting notes.
Talk at you soon. Cheers.