Monday, April 2, 2012

Glen Manor Vineyards Barrel Tasting

Sunday morning April 1st came way too soon and not soon enough. Way too soon in the sense that I wanted to sleep a lot longer than I did after being crushed at work the week before. And not soon enough in the sense that I couldn't wait for the crush to be over and behind me.

What crushed Tony and me at work was two catering jobs on top of two different tastings, a workload from hell. I feel bad for Ann who had to deal with me all week, half zombie, something less than half human. She's a good woman for putting up with me and my job, my other wife. The thing that most crushed us: providing tasting pairings for 250 people at the Glen Manor Vineyards barrel tasting, plus a bunch of cheeses, salume, and terrines.

But how awesome was it Sunday morning trying to get going and smelling this fantastic loaf of roasted garlic bread that Ann was baking? What a beautiful loaf of bread!
Here is the lovely lady responsible for that tasty loaf. She's just learning how to make bread, but is doing quite the amazing job at it already. Here she is out back of the Glen Manor tasting room: when she smiles, she lights up the entire room!

After a couple of errands including dropping by the restaurant to pick up some things, we finally got on the road to Glen Manor. Our foray to the restaurant netted a couple of cheeses, some olives, a few grapes, a big hunk of veal terrine, and a chorizo.

As soon as we arrived at Glen Manor, we met up with friends Donald and Terry. I believe Donald is saluting the chef who is probably harassing him about being a pastry queen:


Donald needn't worry about a little friendly teasing when he puts out product like this! Tiny chocolate cupcakes filled with raspberry jelly, precious little jewels they were!
And soon after, we saw Cristophe and Michelle Perini relaxing in the sun out back while waiting for our turn for the cellar tour. We collected Cristophe and Michelle at Linden once upon a time and reconnected with them just recently. We have a habit of collecting interesting people who like to eat and drink, our favorite sport.

After an introductory sip of 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, already bottled some weeks ago and already selling in my restaurant at a brisk pace, we headed down into the cool, dark cellar to taste the new wines and a couple of 2010s for contrast. Unfortunately, there are no photos from the cellar: it was too dark and I didn't want to be that obnoxious guy blowing everybody's eyes out with the flash.

We tasted the 2011 Cabernet Franc with a piece of pork belly topped with a dried cherry and red grape olivada on a tortilla chip. The Franc has a nose that seems to be consistent from vintage to vintage, one that I would call beefy. The Franc is pleasant enough and the pairing was pleasant enough as well.

From there, on to the 2011 Vin Rouge, which is very soft and supple this year, but with more acid structure than the Franc, no doubt due to the Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. I paired rabbit and pork rillettes with the Vin Rouge. We used a lot of bacon fat in the rillettes, trying to amplify the smoky aspects of the wine's nose. I thought the pairing was pleasant enough as well. For contrast, we tasted the 2010 Vin Rouge, which had more of everything, just like the vintage. 2011 sucked; 2010 was really hot and produced huge wines.

Next up was the 2011 Petit Verdot, the grape that Jeff says did the best of all in 2011. This is a really big fruit bomb with not too much in the way of structure. It nees to be drunk sooner rather than later. I did a chocolate, ancho, blueberry, and pecan pain d'épices to pair with it. Our friend Jorge (Randall was at choir until just about the time we left) was pouring the Petit Verdot and he had already come up to me earlier saying how good he thought the pairing was. Jorge is a little prone to hyperbole so I reserved judgement, but I did know that the cake was pretty amazing. After tasting though, I gotta say that I hit this one out of the park. It is very difficult to imagine a better pairing with this wine.

Then on to the 2010 Petit Manseng, which is about as delicious a big dessert wine as I have had in years. Big alcohol, 15% plus, big dried and tropical fruit, and big acid, plus some herbaceous and petrol complexity thrown in. Next came the monster 2011 Petit Manseng made from juice that averaged 45 Brix. 45? You have got to be kidding! It is huge in every sense and not a wine that I can take more than a few sips of. And because it is so sweet, I wanted to pair it with something very savory and salty: gorgonzola cheese and apricot-mango-ginger-chipotle chutney on a thyme-pecan-pecorino romano shortbread.

The final tasting stop had moved out of the cellar and onto the crush pad, where we could see what a gorgeous day it had turned out to be, despite starting off threatening rain in the morning. We headed around back and comandeered six adirondack chairs and three small tables on which we spread our feast. There was so much food that we could have fed a small army. I am pretty sure that I only got photographs of part of it.

Donald and Terry brought this amazing fig jam to go on a creamy fig-flavored cheese and on a rum-raisin cheese. Wow, what fun!

Here are some of the things that we liberated from the restaurant: a 4-year old farmhouse Gouda (boerenkaas), a really stinky Valfino cheese from Wisconsin, a veal terrine, and a hard Spanish chorizo.
Dolmades and olives from Donald and Terry. I love dolmades!

And finally Terry shows off his tart skills once again with this sun-dried tomato and artichoke tart. Despite his so-called "difficulty" with the crust, it was an amazing creation!
As the sun was getting too hot (especially for my hair-challenged pate), we moved up under the awning off the tasting room where we were joined by good friend and wine sales rep Bill McKenney and Bill's big boss Peg Downey of Downey Selections, which distributes the Glen Manor wines. Stay tuned for our annual adventures with the Downeys at their portfolio tasting in a few weeks!


Finally, here's a picture of Kelly and her nieces, horsing around on the berm just outside the tasting room.

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