I was recently invited to participate in a live, virtual wine tasting with Carolyn Wente, CEO of Wente Family Estates. Wente, founded by Carl H. Wente in 1883, is located in the Livermore Valley [CA] and is the oldest continuously running family-owned and operated winery in the US. Nowadays, Wente is run by fourth and fifth generation family members. I’ve participated in a number of enjoyable tastings with fifth generation winemaker Karl D. Wente. And in just about every tasting that I can think of, Karl has mentioned his aunt Carolyn when talking about matching the right food with whichever wine we were tasting at the time.
#WenteHoliday Tasting Line-up
Carolyn, as my friends at @CharlesComm put it, “is the driving force behind local wine country cuisine dines and drinks during the holidays.” And based on some of the appetizing dishes that Karl has described during previous tastings, I can certainly believe it. Carolyn co-authored Sharing the Vineyard Table [A Celebration of Wine and Food from the Wente Vineyards Restaurant], as well as The Casual Vineyard Table. In 1986, she opened The Wente Restaurant, which I had a chance to visit during a trip to Livermore, CA, this past summer. Our tasting, called #WenteHoliday in Twitter speak, was Carolyn’s first virtual wine tasting and she handled it like a pro. For the tasting, four Wente wines were selected for us to taste which, to no one’s surprise, were all food friendly. See my tasting notes on the wines below and click here to see the short video series from our #WenteHoliday tasting with Carolyn – you just may find a new wine pairing idea for the holidays. Cheers!
2011 Murrieta's Well The Whip
1) 2011 Murrieta's Well The Whip (SRP $21): White-wine blend from Murrieta’s Well consisting of 39% Chardonnay, 26% Semillon, 13% Gewurztraminer, 9% Orange Muscat, 7% Viognier, and 6% Sauvignon Blanc. Murrieta’s Well is a historic (circa 1883) wine property in Livermore, California that the Wente Vineyards family revived in 1990 that specializes in estate-grown blended wines. The 2011 The Whip is fruit forward and bright wine with stone fruit, floral blossom and citrus aromas/flavors with light tropical overtones and a touch of almond that extends through to the (med length) finish. The Gewurztraminer and Orange Muscat really come through in my opinion considering their percentages. While a percentage of the wine was aged in neutral barrels, it only comes through in the texture. It’s light, bright and capable of partnering up with a wide variety of foods. Click here to find this wine.
2011 Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay
2) 2011 Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay (SRP $12.99): Wente Vineyards was the first California winery to produce a wine labeled as Chardonnay in 1936. They also have their own [Wente] clone (circa 1950’s I think) of Chardonnay that’s planted throughout California. The 2011 Morning Fog, a new release, is one of several different styles of Chardonnay wines Wente produces. The 2011 offers vibrant tree fruit, melon, pie crust, a touch of baking spice and lightly toasted almonds with a smooth texture and good balancing acidity. This wine shouldn’t be too hard to find and makes for a nice every day Chardonnay whose acidity keeps it refreshing and food-friendly. Click here to find this wine.
2010 Double Decker Red Blend
3) 2010 Double Decker Red Blend (SRP $9.99): Double Decker is the replacement for Wente's Tamas Estates label; which in the past, has offered fun, affordable and approachable [dry] table wines. The Double Decker 2010 Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Barbera that’s fresh and fruity with [front-loaded] mixed berry and sweet plum aromas/flavors that's easy-drinking and smooth throughout. Overall, an uncomplicated, affordable, every day wine to enjoy with burgers, pizza, red sauce dishes, a big bowl of chili, or just on its own. Click here to find this wine.
2009 Wente Vineyards The Nth Degree Merlot
4) 2009 Wente Vineyards The Nth Degree Merlot (SRP $55): The Nth Degree is Wente Vineyards’ label for its limited production, handcrafted wines. They describe these wines as “ultra-farmed” (aka meticulous vineyard practices). The 09 Merlot is composed of 75% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Barbera. A mélange of black and purple fruits fill the nose with cedar accents, coffee beans, and toasty notes. The Cabernet provides some plumpness in the mouth and oomph. Not a fruit bomb, but one that flirts with elegance, yet has noticeable barrel character throughout and good balancing acidity -- ending with a touch of dark bitter cocoa in the lengthy finish. I enjoyed this wine with rosemary-crusted pork tenderloin which melted the wine’s ripe up-front tannins and paired nicely. Considering the influence Cabernet and oak maturation (to a lesser degree) have on this wine, even a hardliner like Miles may find some enjoyment in a glass. Click here to find this wine.
Click here to learn more about Wente Family Estates.
Wente Family Estates Corks (aka Memories)
Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned ...more to come. Disclosure: This wine was received as a media sample. Thoughts are my own. Happy Sipping, my friends!
Holiday Poinsettia Plants! #IGotMine
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