Saturday, June 28th, John and I headed over to Wente ‘s 130th Vintage Celebration. There have been many changes since we last visited Wente Family Estates on Tesla Road. A bocce ball court is ready for play and beyond is a lawn with adirondack chairs and picnic tables. It was delightful to see the older generation relaxing in chairs watching the youngest generation romping and hula hooping on the grass.
Live music by Gary Arnenson greeted us–Gary’s rich, mellow voice and deft and easy guitar picking had us fully relaxed into his country blues and Wente’s celebration. I must mention here that John does not much care for country music and he picked up Gary’s CD for his car. Tuscan Sun Pizza and Wente Catering offered sustenance and frappes were being blended in the courtyard.
Wine Tours left from the tasting room patio on the half hour. We signed up for a tour and then bellied up to the tasting room bar. I chose the Legacy Flight ($5), which starts with the Wente 2010 Brut, a light and refreshing, just dry enough sparkling wine. Wente’s 2013 Pinot Noir Rose has a floral nose with cherries and citrus on the palate. It calls for a chair by the pool and a luncheon quiche. For those who are looking for the pink glow, this pinot noir rose is the answer. Wente’s 2012 Riva Ranch Chardonnay, a single vineyard Chard from Arroyo Seco in Monterey, is creamy orange blossom and apricot, not too buttery, nice and soft. The herbal aroma, easy drinking 2010 Reliz Creek Pinot Noir (from Arroyo Seco, Monterey) precedes the estate grown 2012 Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon, a burst of berry and cherry with very light tannins. Both red wines in the Legacy Flight are lighter reds with low tannins.
John sipped from the Wine Makers Flight. Nice berries, soft tannins, and a leather & fruit nose make up the superb 2012 Nth Degree Pinot Noir. The next three offerings are wine club exclusive. The 2012 GSM (for its grenach, Syrah, mouvedre grapes) smells like bacon (mmm, smoky goodness) and has a tannic and acid finish. Our feeling is to cellar this wine for 2-3 years, and it will be great. Super smooth and seemingly perfect for a companion cheese tray is the cherry redolent 2011 Sonata. The 2011 Duetto is leather and dirt and allspice, dusty and tannic and aggressive. Bring on the spicy ribs. Very nice now but also tasting like cellaring would bring out even more wow. And, of course, the 2011 Nth Degree Cabernet Sauvignon is delicious.
The Winery Tour took us through Wente’s production and barrel storage areas. It is phenomenal to see. For this event, Wente offered 4 tastings throughout the tour — Riva Ranch Chardonnay, Morning Fog Chardonnay (estate grown, green apple & island fruits with a hint of vanilla), Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon, and Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (full body, black cherry & plum with some coffee & spice). The barrel room surprised us with fantastic chocolate cupcakes and a chance to pick the brains of our tour guide just a bit.
We are very appreciative that Wente celebrated their 130th vintage in such an open and friendly fashion. If you have a chance to take a tour of their winery, definitely do it. And definitely stop by their tasting room on any erranding Saturday or wine tasting Sunday. 🙂
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Winery address: 5565 Tesla Rd, Livermore, CA 94550