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Just a quick little newsflash – I’m happy to announce that I’ve been asked to write for Corkd.com.  =)  Here is a link to my first in a series of articles on large format bottles of wine.

The 2nd annual Dierberg / Star Lane industry open house was fabulous!  There are many fun industry open house events during the course of the year, but Dierberg sets the bar high!   The food is always wonderful!  This year featured raw oysters paired with Sauvignon Blanc.   Also, Bello Forno was there with a wood fired oven turning out incredible pizzas.  The Ballard Inn‘s Chef Budi Kazali was there with amazingly tasty pork belly.  The guys from Petros restaurant  were there dishing up bite-sized Greek meatballs – these were perfect with Syrah.  There was also an entire table of handmade chocolates and desserts from Jessica Foster Confections and Pattibakes.   A big “thank you” to the folks at Dierberg / Star Lane for hosting such a great party!   I took a few snapshots.  =)

Dierberg / Star Lane

Dierberg / Star Lane 2nd Annual Industry Open House

Ashley, Janeen and Anne from Tre Anelli and Consilience

Ashley, Janeen and Anne from Tre Anelli & Consilience

Jason and Jim from Tre Anelli & Consilience

Jason (WineNationUnderdog) and Jim from Tre Anelli & Consilience

Janeen, Jim, Mike, Louise

Janeen & Jim (Tre Anelli), Mike (Carhartt), Louise (Brander)

Kevin, Angela, Anne & Peggy

Kevin, Angela, Anne & Peggy

Peter and Jason

Peter (Scott Cellars) and Jason (WineNationUnderdog)

Anne (WineNationUnderdog), Angela and Peggy (Tre Anelli & Consilience)

Anne (WineNationUnderdog), Angela and Peggy (Tre Anelli & Consilience)

Margerum Wine CompanyThere are only a handful of days that the Margerum Wine Company is open to the public – the rest of the time it is open by appointment only.   February 13th was one of those public days, so my husband and I headed on down to the winery to go taste some vino.  We bumped into our neighbors Pamela and Albert who asked us to join them for dinner at the Ballard Inn.   Jason and I are big fans of chef Budi Kazali’s creative and flavorful menus so this was a welcome opportunity to go there with fellow foodies.   More on this later!

Here is the list of wines from the “official” tasting list of the day (which didn’t include all the surprise bottles that winemaker Doug Margerum  opened) and some comments:

2008 Margerum Chenin Blanc – light yellow color, crisp on the palate, flavors of white grapefruit – perfect wine for scallops and other seafood.

2008 Pinot Gris – fermented in 75% stainless steel and 25% barrel, high acid, lean wine

2006 Grenache – my husband Jason (a dedicated Grenache fan) really liked this one.  It is expressive, but not dark or big or high in alcohol.  It is subtle and would complement many foods…salmon or pork loin came to mind while tasting this wine.

2007 M5 – Jason and I have been fans of Doug Margerum’s M5 blend for many years.  The 2007 offering had some interesting notes of sasparilla that I don’t recall from previous vintages.  I’d recommend cellaring the 2007 M5 one 3-5 more years to increase the flavor integration.   While we were tasting the 2007 Doug opened up a bottle of the 2008 M5 which is scheduled to be released in mid March.  The 2008 is fruitier and very approachable now.  You can drink the 2008 M5 this one while you are cellaring your 2007.

2006 Syrah “Alisos Vinyard” – This is an absolutely beautiful Syrah from its color all the way the finish.  The only bad part was that so few bottles were made…only 50 cases.

2006 Syrah “Alondra De Los Prados Vineyard” – This was my favorite wine of the day – which is a high compliment because I tasted some beautifully made wines.  The Alondra De Los Prados Syrah or ADP as it is called for short, is actually 5% Viognier.  The Syrah and the Viognier are co-planted and co-fermented.  The resulting wine has some floral notes which Viognier is known for the Syrah takes center stage with its intensity and power.  Margerum recommends that this one be cellared for a few more years, but I will have a hard time keeping the corkscrew away from the case I bought.  Only 125 cases were produced, so I highly recommend ordering a few while you still can.

2006 Syrah “Black Oak Vineyard” – This was another great example of the fabulous Syrahs that Doug makes – mmmmm…black cherry and hints of anise.

2006 Syrah “Colson Canyon Vineyard” – Aromas of florals, cassis and anise with flavors of cherry, black plum and white pepper.  I bought a few of these to cellar for about 5 years.   If you’re into wine scores, Stephen Tanzer rated this one a 90.

2006 Syrah “Great Oaks Ranch Vineyard” – Wines made of fruit from Great Oaks tend to have spice characteristics that I really enjoy.  This intense wine offers flavors of anise, cracked pepper, coffee and black cherry.

2006 Syrah “Purisima Mountain Vineyard” – Flavors of cassis, dried cherries, black plum, blackberries and some earthy notes.   The finish was long and lovely!   Wine Spectator gave this wine 90 points.

2006 ÜBER Syrah – This is an extremely well planned wine.  Margerum sourced Syrah fruit from seven different vineyards, and then picked and co-fermented them over 45 days.    Then he blends in carefully selected barrels of single-vineyard Syrah – resulting in a powerful, dense wine.  This is one of my favorite Syrahs because there is so much going on in the glass – rich, powerful and layered.  Drink ÜBER and treat your mouth to an adventure.  =)

1995 Antinori Solaia - one of the most famous Super Tuscan wines in the world

1995 Antinori Solaia

There were a few other wines that we were able to taste that weren’t on the official list.   The most exciting one for me was the 1995 Antinori Solaia.  This is one of the most famous “Super Tuscan” wines in the world, made by the Antinori family who have been making wine for six centuries.   Needless to say it was a real treat to taste this wine!   It is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese and 5% Cabernet Franc. The years in the bottle were well spent, leaving soft, well-integrated tannins.  On the palate, flavors of blackberry, currant, boysenberry lead to a long and fruity finish.

The lineup for the evening.

The evening's lineup of wines.

After the event at the winery was wrapping up we headed over to Doug Margerum’s house to continue our wine tasting adventure.  (Thanks again for your hospitality Doug!)   Doug opened a number of wines from his collection including a 2001 Vieux Telegraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  Châteauneuf-du-Pape happens to be one of my favorite wine-producing regions in the world.  Clearly this is my lucky day!

After enjoying Doug’s hospitality and  some really interesting conversations (“Hi” to Fisch and Blaine), Pamela, Albert, Jason and I headed over to Ballard Inn for dinner.   We ordered most of the appetizers – *all* were wonderful, but my favorites were the “winter turnip soup with duck confit and Fuji apple salad”, the “red roast Kurobata pork belly with Napa cabbage fondue” and the “panko crusted sweetbreads with Madeira sauce”.   It was hard to choose an entree because they all sounded so good.   The “pan seared duck breast with sweet potato puree and balsamic reduction” is what I usually order, but the “Australian rack of lamb with creamy farro, leeks, fennel and star anise glace” sounded amazing.  I eventually settled on the “crispy skin arctic char with roasted fingerling potatoes and horseradish nage”.   Everything was beautifully presented and incredibly flavorful!   Kazali’s food was the perfect ending to a decadent and fun-filled day!

Disco ball hung in the doorway to the Margerum Wine Company barrel room

Disco ball hung in the doorway to the Margerum Wine Company barrel room

Jason, Pamela and Tony in the barrel room at Margerum Wine Company

Jason, Pamela and Tony in the barrel room at Margerum Wine Company

The aftermath of some serious wine tasting at Margerum Wine Company

Who knew that pork cracklins pair so well with sparkling off-dry German Rieslings?

Pork cracklins + sparkling off-dry German Rieslings = Strangely wonderful wine/food pairing

Wine is good living.

The text on this painting from Doug Margerum's collection reads "wine is good living". I couldn't agree more.

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