What a challenge! We had a sunny Saturday in front of us, and we wanted to visit the Darcie Kent wine club release party, take advantage of a great-sounding port sale, and check in on some of the wineries we’ve missed in recent months. So much to do and so little time. Our only hope for success is focused determination. Here’s how we did!
At the top of our To-Do list was the Darcie Kent release party. Our travel schedule forced us to miss the previous party, so we were more than ready for this one! The event featured a variety of chili bowls served by Cabana Dave’s, each crafted to highlight one or more of the wines. The large covered patio was our venue, made even more festive a live DJ.
We started with the 2012 Old Gum Tree Sauvignon Blanc. Wow, was this a party starter! Lots of fruit bursting from the top of the glass, hinting at the variety of melon and sweet/tart fruits about to hit the palate. Although young, this crisp and buttery wine paired well with the white bean chili that greeted us at the banquet table.
We followed up the Sauv Blanc with the new 2012 Central Coast and Livermore Valley Merlot. Darcie Kent’s Merlots have been amazing for years. Our favorite is their 2010 vintage, which sadly has never made a showing on the case sale table. The 2011 (which is a great price in case quantities) is wonderful, yes, but it can’t match the rich, balanced fruit and subtle tannins of the ’10. The 2012 follows in this great tradition, with nice plum and cherry notes, and a surprise of clove toward the end. This took on the beef chili admirably, and we think that it will become amazing in a year or two.
Next up was the 2011 Infinite Stone Cabernet Franc, poured by Darcie herself. Cab Franc is rapidly becoming a favorite varietal in our family, and this one helped advance that cause. A surprising amount of pepper at the end put an exclamation point on a whole lot of fruit. This was a perfect counterpoint for Cabana Dave’s jalapeno poppers that the more adventurous among us enjoyed.
We next tasted the 2012 Field Blend Zinfandel. Zin is a personal favorite, especially when paired with a nice tritip. That raises the profound question: what does NOT pair well with a nice tritip? Anyway, this Zinfandel continued the string of fine Zins from Darcie Kent. Well-balanced fruit with an aroma of tobacco and leather. Although this was probably not Darcie’s plan, we paired this with their port brownies. Port brownies, you ask? Why would Darcie serve port brownies. There wasn’t an official announcement, but we did notice this label on some barrels in the barrel room:
Be still my heart! A Darcie Kent port? Almost too good to be true.
We wrapped up our party experience with some barrel tastings, which is how we noticed the port barrels. Barrel tasting is always interesting and humbling. The wine is at the “almost ready for prime time” stage, or the winemaker would never let us near it. Nonetheless, in nearly every case the wine is not particularly amazing. A few months later, the wine is finished by the winemaker in a mystical process, bottled and BOOM! it is amazing. I am constantly reminded that I need to stick with my strength (consuming wine) and let others deal with the art of creating wine.
Once we had tasted our way around the barrel room, we said our goodbye’s and headed off for the rest of our Saturday of wine tasting. Given the length of this post, the rest of the day will just have to wait to be described later.
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?