Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Learning the Language of Wine

          It only took us a year but we’re finally learning wine-speak.  The break through came over a Bernardus rosé. We each gave it a whiff and then simultaneously described the nose as “strawberry.”  Woo-hoo!  We don’t know if we were “right,” but we were in agreement. 
This peak experience came in the midst of yet another Carmel Valley 90 degree October afternoon. We knew we wanted to revisit Bernardus wines, and we knew we had a few ways of doing that.  We could either go to the tasting room at 5 West Carmel Valley Road, a good choice since the tasting room was air conditioned, or to Wickets at Bernardus Lodge to sample their Bernardus wine flight.  We opted for the latter and it was the perfect choice.
We loved our drive through the autumn colored vineyard and walking through the elegant lobby with its stunning arrangements of flowers.  We stepped onto the outdoor patio and chose a table in the shade.  Behind us was the sound of a lion’s head fountain, next to us was the lawn bowling lawn complete with people playing, a ball in one hand, a wine glass in the other, and all around us was the beauty of terracotta buildings set against the trees and mountains of the valley.  It doesn’t get much prettier.
Our flight of wines—three for $18—provided a lovely color spectrum to add to the day’s beauty.  There was the clear 2010 Griva Sauvignon Blanc, the cream colored 2009 Chardonnay and the deep berry color of the 2005 Marinus.  When the Wickets bar tender brought a rosé, a 2010 Saignee of Pinot Noir, to add to the line-up, the wine spectrum was complete.
We liked all of the wines, but our two favorite of the day were the Griva and the Marinus.  The Griva Sauvignon Blanc was subtle, dry, smooth, and delicate, with touches of pear and citrus. A real winner in our estimation and one we both would buy.
The 2005 Marinus was a wow.  (Santé magazine gave it a gold medal in 2009.) A smooth blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, it was very full and complex, with tastes of blackberry and for Mk, at least, hints of tobacco. 
For fuller descriptions of the wines from people who really know wine language, see
We loved our afternoon at Bernardus. Great wine, great beauty, great companionship and the perfect opportunity to grow our wine language skills.  A votre santé!

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