Miner? I hardly know her.

Not to harp on (or dream about) it too much, but damn my FedEx delivery guy is hot. When I answered the door a few days ago he was standing there in his little shorts, blue eyes glinting, a cute smirk on his face. “You’re going to like this,” he says to me. Oh yes…I do already. “Looks great,” I said. I may have even giggled as I signed. And oh my, what a nice package…he delivered to my door. A box of wine from Miner Family Vineyards.

I was excited and He was too (but not so much about the hunky delivery guy). It had been a long time since I’ve tasted Miner wines and He never had but had heard me raving about the wines and their national sales guy, Jack, for a while.

I met Jack in Los Angeles in the late 90′s. He is an all around great guy, wine expert, and one of my favorite people. I’m not alone in this evaluation: everybody loves Jack. The bonus is that he works for an outstanding winery. Miner Family is a top notch producer in Oakville run by Dave and Emily Miner.

Before I lived in Napa Valley I would stay at Jack’s place in Yountville when I traveled up there for trade tastings. He actually played a huge part in my eventual moving to sweet Y-town. I was relocating up to the Bay Area and couldn’t decide where to live…and the temporary housing time was running out. I was sitting at the bar at Bouchon, sipping wine and munching on salmon rilettes, feeling happy but overwhelmed. A decision needed to be made. Suddenly, Jack appeared. He was eating in the dinning room. Great. A few moments later James Hall and Anne Moses of Patz and Hall came over to say hi. I love this place, I love these people. Yes, I decided right then: I’m moving to Yountville. (Bouchon became my neighborhood corner bar and over the subsequent eight plus years many, many glasses of wine and bloody mary’s were happily shared there with Jack and the other locals–I miss this place.)

The delivery day was a hot one (like the FedEx…well, you get the idea). I put the two Miner whites in the frig and We impatiently waited for them to chill. We ended up spending the gorgeous day toiling in the garden. By the end of the afternoon We were pleasantly exhausted, dirty and super thirsty. Hello Miner Family whites.

We opened a Viognier and Chardonnay. Delicious, just as I remembered. I took my glass of chard (and what was left of the bottle) to the bathroom and drew a hot bath. The perfect end to a lovely (and stimulating) day.

Viognier, Simpson Vineyard, Miner 2008 (sample, retails $20)

She said: Bright, shiny golden yellow. In the nose the wine is distinctly viognier. There is lots of lush tropical fruit and peach blossoms. The palate is rich and full with a kind of saltiness in the finish. Plush, perfumey, soapy, and floral. The wine is very ripe, but the acid and minerality keeps it all in balance. Truly lovely.

He said: Bright yellow. Tropical fruits and flowery on the nose. I think viognier is one of the wines that I can, with some certainty, identify by the nose. There is also a little sting in the nose that I associate with viognier. I should note: I almost always dislike this varietal. In the mouth there is orange, and pineapple, which were also on the nose. There is also a definite mouthfeel that I associate with both of these fruits. I have to admit that I read “honeysuckle” on the label (which in our tasting ritual is kind of cheating) but, yes, there is definitely honeysuckle all over this wine. This is the best viognier I have had yet.

Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Miner 2008 (sample, retails $30)

She said: Okay, my notes got wet in the tub. It was splashy. But my palate remembers a fresh acidity, to compliment the ripe melon, apple, and toasty oak. Some almonds and peach flavors, a hint of spice (from the oak?). A silky mouthfeel that lingers and lingers. Rich, complex, and wonderful. The perfect “relaxing” in the bath-tub wine.

He said: So just maybe We were in the tub together. I actually don’t remember anything except for “whoa, this is good” which describes both the wine and a bubble-bath with the person you love. I think Steve McQueen enjoyed it too. Go somewhere else for specific tasting notes, but I will say simply, this was good.

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Field Trip Fridays: Culver City Crawl

We typically enjoy wine at our homes, at friends’, or at a handful of our favorite dining spots. It’s a routine we love, but we decided we should branch out–there’s a whole lot of wine to drink out there and a whole bunch of places to slurp it. And it’s a perfect excuse for Field Trip Fridays.

Last Friday we did a Culver City crawl, starting at Bottle Rock. It was about 2p when we got there and the place only had two other tables occupied. The interior is a bit stark and reminded Her of a chain restaurant, like Chili’s or Red Lobster or something like that (not that she has ever been to those places); a bit too clean and generic. But the server was all smiles and sunshine and immediately made us feel welcome and let us know how the place works. It’s really a great idea: Bottle Rock will open any bottle they sell and serve it by the glass, you just have to order two glasses. Cameo (our sunny server) also offered to discount wines which had been opened the night before. We enjoyed two different whites (reviews below), a delicious butter lettuce salad with candied kumquats (misspelled on their menu), a good truffle grilled cheese sandwich (more truffles, please), and a Reuben (Her first ever).

We moved down the street to Ford’s Filling Station. It was the first time either of us had been there. She knows Ben Ford from way back when he was a newbie at Campanile and sees him at the Farmer’s Market. The place is very comfortable, like the hotel lobby of western hotel, complete with upright piano. Were we on the set of Deadwood? The menu looked really delightful, be we were still stuffed from Bottle Rock sandwiches. We decided bubbly would be perfect and enjoyed a glass of Schramsberg. Refreshing. We didn’t take notes, we just sipped and smiled.

Next door is Fraiche, but unfortunately (and why, why?) they close in between lunch and dinner service. So we stopped in at Kay ‘n Dave’s, a Mexican joint down the street. Time to regroup…with a margarita. It was happy hour, after all. And how good did those free, warm chips and a delicious fresh salsa taste. The bartenders were incredibly nice and eager to keep the tequila coming. We indulged in a few and then decided a walk around the neighborhood would do us some good.

On the drive back to the Eastside She said, “Wouldn’t caviar be nice? Let’s go to the Hungry Cat.” So we did. It was early still (how could this be? felt like mindnight) so there were stools available at the bar. Danielle is one of our favorite bartenders in L.A. and lucky for us–she was there. Oh, the greyhounds are gorgeous. We started with this refreshing cocktail and moved on to a carafe of Muscadet to compliment the caviar. We were feeling good. This is a nice ritual we’re starting, Field Trip Fridays.

Saturday morning came too soon. Advil was consumed. Here’s what we tasted:

Maipe Torrontés, Salt, Argentina 2007 $27/9 (Bottle Rock)

She said: The  color is a pale yellow with a hint of green. Very tropical in the nose. If the tasting was blind I would have guessed a viognier, marsanne, roussanne blend. No significant hints of oak, but the fullness and richness of nose and mouthfeel may indicate it. Lovely tropical flavors of mango, guava, and pineapple, some peach. Ultimately light and refreshing on the palate although I initially thought it would be too cloying. Nice long finish–really a lovely wine.

He said: Very apparent pineapple on the nose, but I think I “forgot” to look at the color.  I wonder why?  Light tropical flavors and full-bodied in the mouth. I’m also getting some vanilla and something flowery. To my knowledge, this is my first taste of this grape. Getting a long finish in my mouth (that’s what she said).  I have “nice” written twice in my notes.  You would think I never studied architecture; if you ever said “nice”, “good”, or “I like it” in a presentation it was suicide.  “Nice” means absolutely nothing when you review your notes, I need to know why I thought it was “nice”.  Anyhow, I liked it, it was nice and good. 

Sans Liege, “Cotes du Coast,” 2006 $34/11 (Bottle Rock)

She said: Very golden and rich in color. Tons of peach and heft in front palate. Finish not as long as I would think for such umpf up front. Oak on nose and everywhere. Not very well balanced–a bit too rich in the mouth with a lack of acid, but this is characteristic of the blend. When comparing to the Maipe Torrontés, prefer the Argentinian wine.

He said: I have an inexplicable aversion to Viognier. I don’t mind the taste so much, there is just something about the feeling that reminds me of drinking Boone’s Farm in the late 1980′s. Like maybe I’m going to have a fucking piercing migraine very soon.  But I refuse to give up on it, because I hear people rave about it. I got a lot of peach on the nose.  In the mouth I can definitely make out the Viognier, plus peach and pear.  The other grapes balance it, but still very sweet, bring on the headache.

Muscadet, Domaine de la Pépiére, 2007 $31/16/8 (The Hungry Cat)

She said: Took no notes but ordered it purposefully to go with shrimps and caviar. Which I think I remember it did. Of course it did–it’s a crisp, dry, stony white. That goes down really easy.

He said: Did we go to The Hungry Cat?  This was after many bottles of wine, some bubbly, a margarita or few… I may have to review this wine later because I have no notes or taste recollection.  The trials and tribulations of having a wine blog; sometimes you get really drunk.

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