Think Cabernet, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Cava, or your favorite C-named winery (Chateau Ste. Michelle?) or just what the letter "C" means to you. That was our theme for the June Cork Poppers gathering.
For those of you not familiar with our Cork Poppers, we are a wine tasting group of friends. Only one of us, Dick -- founder of the group, has done any real study of this. Most of us use the bi-monthly gatherings as a good excuse to try a lot of wines we wouldn't otherwise try and enjoy terrific pot lucks! This time, we were the hosts and the location was Rick's patio!
Grab a class and come along for the ride!
Our first wine came from me -- Les Charmes Chardonnay 2014 by Macon Lugny.
Now, I'll be the first to tell you I'm not a fan of chardonnay or heavily oaked white wines. I contributed it to the cause because a) it was a "C" wine (chardonnay) and I didn't want to get more creative than that and b) because I couldn't find the Chianti I had bought for the event (we probably drank it) so I went with something left behind by a book club member when I hosted. Whomever you are, thank you!
Because this was the first, it was well chilled. Whites should be chilled but on a warm day, with sipping outside, some of the later whites suffered a bit from warming up a bit. The big surprise for me was that I actually liked it and others thought it "pretty good." "I'd buy this," Clayton said and others agreed.
Next, Dick offered up Wolftrap White Chenin Blanc 2013 from South Africa. It was a lovely white -- a bit more tart than the Les Charmes Chardonnay, and I enjoyed it, despite the components being partially aged in oak before blending and bottling.
The information Dick shared included that it had an "intriguing and harmonious quaffing experience." "Quaffing, we like," Clayton said, as we briefly pondered "who writes that gibberish?" But we did like the wine. (Anne liked the label.) Dick had grabbed this one off the shelf at home and had no idea of the price.
We had another Chardonnay next -- Butter Chardonnay, a California wine chosen by Roger. This was oakey and buttery or more creamy and because of that, not my favorite, but Clayton noticed it had a little bit of effervescence. Roger said he found it at Costco for $11.99 but normally it runs $15-$18.
Bob was up next with Scaramanga, a 2014 South African blend by Nabygelegen.
This one was a double Key of C. It had Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay grapes (as well as Verdelmo varietal) and if you stretched it, it was Coastal, too! It had a slow fermentation of six months and felt "thicker" and less crisp to my palette. (This may have been due to starting to warm up, too, as Barb mentioned "This needs to be colder."
The winery was established in 1712 and the price of this at a local market was $20. Kate called it her favorite so far (Kate is not a big fan of whites) and Barb noted "This smells funny but it doesn't taste bad. It smells like chemicals or acetone."
Then it was on to reds. Kate brought Sledgehammer 2016, a California Cabernet Sauvignon. Someone commenting on the name said, "This looks like something you drink to get drunk" and the notes implied it was a manly wine. There was much discussion on it being a macho, tone deaf write up on the label "King of the People -- of substance but none of the pomp and circumstance. For the man who values substance over flash. Sledgehammer is for men, not for boys."
"I bought it so I could sneer," Kate said. Her husband Mike S. noted it paired well with cinnamon rolls. (This was Kate and Mike's first Poppers. They fit right in.) Kate noted her key of C was "C stands for average -- average label, below average verbiage.)
Someone described it as an all purpose wine. "If you don't like it you can use it for antifreeze. Or paint stripper." Dick disagreed. "No, I don't think it's a paint stripper." And Barb agreed with that. As for me, I liked it and would buy it. Especially since it was $8.99 at Meijer.
Clayton was up next with Newman's Own Common Good Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 by Paul Newman (California).
After determining that Paul Newman was dead (I didn't know; sort of puts a pall on the day, so we toasted to Paul, and then to Pat, our missing member who recently moved.)
I thought this was quite good. I definitely tasted the cherry flavor (this brought discussion on the difference between dried or ripe cherries in wine and we decided dried was more flavorful. But what do we know?)
I'd definitely get this one again. It was spicy and tasty. Here's an interesting point. Cost on this ranged from $9 on sale at Meijer to $10 at a local market to $16 online. Shop around.
Dick was up again with a red this time -- The Rock 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016. This is from the California Landscape series which also includes "The Bridge" and "The Pier."
Dick said he liked this so much, he bought a case of it (to which Rick noted, "You drink a lot, don't you?" and Dick replied, "We got a new computer system at work. What do you think?") But at $8.99, I think we'd all agree, he did the right thing. It was highly recommended by all our group, with a peppery-spice taste.
Mike and Barb then offered Clos de los Siete 2014, a red blend that was largely Malbec and Merlot. The vineyard, in the Mendoza area of Argentina was an old one and was wiped out in the 1860 earthquake, and they had to rebuild. (Her key of C was "Clos")
This one got comments like, "I just took a sip of this and it was delicious" and "Definitely a tasty wine." It should be -- it was about $20.
Anne liked it so much, she posed with the bottle!
Jan was last. It's really hard to be last in our group. She brought a 2016 Carmenere from Chile's Concha Toro vineyard called Casillero del Diablo Reserva.
Carmenere varieties originally came from the vineyards of Bordeaux but the climate in Chile -- sunshine and warm summer -- is perfect for the late-ripening grapes. "Oh, this smells so good!" Barb said, taking a sniff. Anne noted it was peppery. She had a triple key of C here -- the name, Casillero del Diablo, Carmenere and Concha y Toro vineyard. She could add a fourth -- Chile!
This is said to be good with red meat like burgers (how convenient, our menu that day!) and I think it would be wonderful any day at $8.99.
Interestingly enough, several of us noted that this time around, everyone liked all the wines. Usually there is an outlier or two. But it was on to dinner. We'd had a bit of a dilemma -- weather. The prediction wasn't good. But as you can see, things shaped up so we could sip on the patio.
That said, we set up tables in Rick's carport, just to be on the safe side!
The theme for Dinner was the Rick's Rocking Burger Bar!
We had all sorts of toppings available.
Everyone else rose to the occasion with wonderful accompaniments like Rick's homemade burger buns...
...Asparagus potato salad...
...Fabulous Fruit Plate...
...Heathy, glorious Caesar...
...and decadent summer berry dessert.
And a bit of wine to wash it all down with. (This makes us sound WAY more decadent that we are. I promise you, we are not lushes or alcoholics and our sips are small!)
No one left hungry!
Our party favors and place cards were one and the same -- bookmarks. They were fun to paint!
Thus ends another day of sipping. Please note that the wines we had may not be available in all areas. The same goes for previous Popper posts, which you can see listed by category on the menu at the top of the page under Cork Poppers. (Reds, whites, French, Italian, etc.)
Farewell from the Ladies of the Vine and the Guys of the Grape!
As always, be reponsible!
And happy Popping!
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