San Francisco, Sonoma & Napa Valley

     When my wife and I were contemplating a vacation destination earlier this year we examined all the usual suspects and each was met with an overwhelming lack of enthusiasm.  As we pondered the question my wife suggested a totally different type of vacation than we normally take and immediately we were intrigued by the idea of trying something new.  That is how our Tauck tour of San Francisco, Sonoma and the Napa Valley came to be and how sometimes when fate deals you a hand it turns out to be all aces!  I am not going to do what your crazy Uncle Fred did when he used his Kodak Carousel slide projector to show two hours of photos documenting his trip through the Mid-West culminating with the money shot of Aunt Mable posing with the “World’s Biggest Ball of String” in De Kalb, Iowa.  No, there will be none of that because we were lucky enough to have Julie, one of Tauck’s very best directors, who made our time together more like traveling with a good friend that knew the area very well and wanted to make sure that you were enjoying yourself while getting to experience everything the area had to offer.  Our driver Mark handled the coach with a calm ease that came from his understated confidence in his superb driving skills which provided a relaxing environment for his guests.  The one other unknown in the equation is who will be your traveling companions and on this trip we were blessed to be accompanied by twenty of the most warm and friendly people we could have imagined and for this we are extremely grateful.

In the following posts I will try to share some of the highlights of our trip but it will be impossible to relate the true experience of the journey because as they say ” You would’ve

The Garden Court Restaurant, The Palace Hotel San Francisco, CA
The Garden Court Restaurant, The Palace Hotel San Francisco, CA

 had to been there”.  I hope that this series of posts will prove to my friend and fellow blogger Jeff a.k.a. “the drunken cyclist” that wine bloggers are capable of addressing the broad subject of wine and life:-). 

     We arrived at San Francisco International Airport and were greeted by our limo driver (Yes I did say limo) who took us to the Palace Hotel on New Montgomery St. in the heart of the Union Square District.  A Welcome Reception and Dinner was held that evening where we all enjoyed plenty of wine and a good meal while getting acquainted with our newest friends.   To be continued!!!!

Altus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2005 $35.99?

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Photo taken at Skil...
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     If you are looking for a wine that can be described as Bold, Plush, Opulent, Intense and Concentrated then you should look no further than Altus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2005.  This Cab has potent dark fruit flavors like currant, blackberry and black cherry along with wild berry flavors.  The tannins are velvety but the finish is firm with a creamy minerality.  This wine is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 3% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot.  Wine Spectator bestowed a 92 point rating upon it in 2008 and because of the structure of this blend, time has been kind to it.  You can purchase this Altus wine in Pennsylvania only online from the PLCB website where it is listed on the Wine Sale page.  The regular price is shown at $74.99 but the sale price is $35.99 and I believe that is a fair price for this bottle.  PLCB Product Code 11238.  http://www.finewineandgoodspirits.com

Frankly Scarlet !

moscato party !
moscato party ! (Photo credit: portobeseno)

     I will use the next few posts to look at light bodied wines that I believe would be good choices for your summer outings.  I like the lighter wines for warm weather entertaining because they are easy to drink and allow you to enjoy the company of friends and family without having to worry about what wines to serve.  Beringer Red Moscato 2011 fits nicely into this category by being light with fresh fruit flavors and a floral aroma.  It is a little sweet but often described as “not too sweet or not too dry with a smooth refreshing finish”.  This deep scarlet colored Moscato is produced in Argentina from a blend of Moscato, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah grapes and bottled in the Napa Valley of California.  I don’t think you will be disappointed if you take this one with you to the park for an evening concert under the stars.

Gold Rush

Barrels of 2007 Zinfandel wine fermenting in a...
Barrels of 2007 Zinfandel wine fermenting in a wine cave in Amador County, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perry Creek Zinman Zinfandel El Dorado 2007 is grown and produced in the El Dorado AVA within the Sierra Foothills region of California.  Best described as a luscious cherry and raspberry beginning with a peppery finish.  This wine is very easy to drink and is very versatile with a wide range of food from pizza and burgers to grilled steak.  Wine Enthusiast rated at 88 points makes this one you should consider for a summer gathering that includes grilling and friends.  PA L.C.B. product code 20908.

Fogged In

Goat's milk cheese
Goat’s milk cheese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wine and cheese go together like no other food combination on Earth.  My absolute favorite wine and artisan cheese pairing is Cypress Grove Chevre Humboldt Fog and Sauvignon Blanc.  Cypress Grove Chevre makes Humboldt Fog from premium pasteurized goats milk in Humboldt County, California.  This goat cheese can be enjoyed even by people who do not like goat cheese because it doesn’t have a strong goat milk flavor due to the quality of the milk used.  I like to pair it with a Sauvignon Blanc.  An interesting choice would be Dourthe La Grande Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc 2010 with its 88 point rating from The Wine Advocate.  It can be found at the Pa. L.C.B. store for $12.99 with the product code 29706.