Saturday, February 3, 2018

Le Jour de Quinze Cepages

Sonoma 2018
Day 2
Sunday, January 14, 2018

My room was cold when I woke up in the morning because the fire had gone out during the night.  So I didn't really want to get out of bed, but there was wine to drink, and food to eat!  So I got up and dressed and headed for breakfast provided by the hotel.  They had pretty standard, decent offerings of hot food and continental breakfast, as well as smoothies.  Weff met me as I was eating.  Wendy noticed that after JeffEvs drank his coffee, you could see a perfect letter "P" inside the cup.  We also decided that the horizontal lines were like a music staff with notes on the right side.  Yes, folks, we now read coffee drippings and have decided that we will be seeing Pella soon.  

Telling Fortunes

Then we went back to our rooms to finish getting ready for our day.

Mox and Linda arrived, and we piled into a couple of cars, headed for the Kenwood area.  I rode in Weff's car.  JeffEvs warned me that maybe I shouldn't turn off my Waze app just because we could see the winery, because he was notorious for getting lost when destinations were in plain sight.  We were OK, though.  We took a look around the grounds of St. Francis Winery before going inside.

Bridge to Entrance

St. Francis

Bell in Tower

Back courtyard


Double N, Mox, Linda and I decided to taste some wine.  The others roamed around and shopped.  Alan poured the wine for us and learned us some stuff about wine.  He also quizzed us.  I like Alan because he educated us and had no problem having Bananaman there, even though he thought it was Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants before I told him.  We were given a list from which we could select 7 wines, but Alan pretty much chose for us once he figured out our palates.  All the wines we tasted were only available through the winery, as they were part of the Artisan Collection.  Linda was excited about the breadsticks.  I was excited that Linda was actually tasting all of the wines, even if she didn't finish all of them.

Wine Tasting list (the ones I like marked with *):

1) 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Stack Vineyard, Bennett Valley *
2) 2016 White Wine, Estate Cuvee Blanc, Sonoma Valley
Bonus: 2014 Extended Age Chardonnay, Behler Vineyard, Sonoma Valley
3) 2015 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

Alan showed us that a good pinot should be light enough that you can read through it if it is rolled in a glass across paper.

Demonstrating the clarity of Pinot

4) 2014 Merlot, Behler Vineyard, Sonoma Valley*  -- good with Thanksgiving turkey
5) 2014 Zinfandel, Montecillo Vineyard, Sonoma Valley
Bonus tasting: 2014 Old Vines Zinfandel, Tres Viejos, Sonoma County
We were asked to compare the two zins.  I prefered the Montecillo.

6) 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Moon Mountain District Sonoma County

We were quizzed on the 5 grapes of the Bordeaux region:  they are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.  

7) 2014 Port, Sonoma County*

I bought a bottle each of the Sau Blanc and the Port.  Linda bought a bottle of the Port.  Linda bought wine!  And she was all fancy and talking to the wine guy!  I'm proud of her for trying something new with us.  I wanted to get a group picture of us with the beautiful landscape, and a gentleman from Australia was willing to help us out.  Linda didn't know where to sit, so she chose to pose on the table.  

Did I tell you that Linda had been drinking?

We were ready to get some lunch, so we made our way to Cafe Citti, which we had seen on the way to St. Francis, and is a place I love to go to when I'm in the area.  At Cafe Citti, you order your food at the counter, then go to your table.  I always order the Caesar salad because I love all of the garlic in it, and they use real anchovies in their dressing.  I ordered smoked chicken on top of mine this time, and it was quite delicious.

My favorite Caesar Salad. Ever.

Breadsticks abound in Sonoma Valley
 One of the other reasons I love this place is that they make their own biscotti, and it is nice and fresh and soft.  So I bought a box.  Cindy brought a bag just for biscotti, and it was covered with kitties, and Wendy named it a BisKitty bag.

Chocolate covered biscotti, almond biscotti &
hazelnut cookie

We were ready for more wine tasting, so I asked everyone to meet up at Chateau St. Jean Winery.  I've been to this place before, too, and it's pretty, so I thought my non-wine-tasting friends would enjoy walking around the grounds.  It took us a while to get there because we all thought we were supposed to go back toward Sonoma, but we were supposed to go up toward whence we came prior to lunch.  My Waze girl Kate kept telling us to turn, and we finally listened to her.  When we arrived, we saw hundreds of birds flying above us.  I wanted to get a picture of them because there were so many of them, so I walked toward them after we parked the car.  I tried to get a recording of the spectacle, but my videos don't do it justice.  It was actually a perfect sight to see after our discussion of coming back to the area someday to see Bodega Bay, where "The Birds" was filmed.

We walked around the grounds a little bit, and saw the damage from the fire.  Alan had told us that this was one of the wineries that got hit.  

The grounds inside the walls fared much better.  I didn't realize when I was here before that they had bocce ball available to play.

Double N taking a shot

Then it was time to taste some wine.  Mox, Double N and I chose the 4-wine tasting.

Linda sat out this one.

1) Brut Rose Sparkling Wine
We were celebrating my birthday, after all!  Might as well have something bubbly.

Cheers, Bananaman!

2) 2014 Lyon Vineyard Fume Blanc, Alexander Valley
3) 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
4) 2013 Eighty-five Fifty-five, Sonoma County*
This one is named after their address, and is a Red Bordeaux Blend.

Double N and I were curious about these bottles:

Turns out Cinq Cepages (which means "5 Varieties", even though we were told it meant "5 grapes") won international awards.  So Double N asked to buy a glass.  He let us taste some of it, and it was excellent.  Rhonda also poured a little bit in our glasses since the bottle was open, so I got to have more of the yumminess.  Thank you, Rhonda!  I did not buy this wine, but I wanted to.  I also wanted to have enough money to buy it.  Nope.  Instead, I bought a bottle of the Eighty-five Fifty-five.

We sat outside for a while so Double N could finish his Cinq Cepages.  I bought a hat because they had really cute hats.  Then we went back to our hotel.  I put my wine and Linda's wine in my hotel room, and on the way down, I saw a little boy wearing a Batman hoodie.  I said, "I like your sweatshirt, little dude!"  His mom said, "Look, she's wearing a Batgirl shirt!  He loves Batgirl."  That's my kind of a kid.  Mox, Linda and I hung out at Glenndy's place until Mox and Linda needed to leave to catch their flight.  We opened the free bottle of wine that Linda received at her hotel.  I miss you, Fairmont Sonoma!  I didn't drink very much of it because it was the 15th wine of the day for me.


I was ready for food.  We had reservations for the remaining five of us at OSO.  We had seen OSO on our way back from dinner the previous night, and I pointed it out to them because I had made our reservations already for all of our dinners.  I opted out of the alcohol as my stomach was a little queasy.  Or maybe my liver was attacking my insides due to overuse.  I ordered chamomile tea instead.  Because, you know, why not have a big old tea service on the table where barely anything fit?


Then came the food.  The very yummy food.  This place turned out to be the majority's favorite for the weekend.  I had miso-glazed salmon with kale and roasted yams.  It was delicious.  But Cindy's Dungeness crab-topped deviled eggs were even better.  So were her yummy tacos.  Hands down for me, though, was JeffEvs' pork ribs dish, which had a wonderful sauce that tasted like the Filipino soup Sinigang.  It made me want sinigang so much that I made some a week after I got home.  

My Salmon

I ordered the Butterscotch Pot de Creme for dessert.  It came with a whopping serving of whipped cream.  I like the jar they used, which I think was the same kind they used for the chocolate fudge sundae others ordered.

The shortbread cookies were a perfect touch

Cindy made it her own personal quest to try to open my tea server, because I had trouble opening it.  I don't think it was the alcohol.  It was just difficult to open. 

Mission Accomplished!
We really enjoyed this dinner.  I highly recommend it if you're in the area, and you're in the mood to share food.

And Then There Were Five
Happy and full, we walked back to our hotel to rest.  Cindy offered me the bottle of wine we hadn't finished from Linda's hotel, but I wondered if I was done for the weekend.  At least the tea helped.  I turned on the heater that I didn't know was there the night before.  Thanks, JeffEvs for letting me know!  I tried to stay up a little bit before falling asleep, but I don't think I was very successful, because I don't remember anything beyond lighting the fire and opening up my book to read. 

What a lovely day!  Thank you for being there, Mox and Linda!   I'm glad you could spend at least a little time with us.

Next up: MORE wine?!

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