Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Day 6 continued-Before the Merlot Tasting! Libourne's Weekly Market

Before the Sbragia Merlot tasting, we got up really early and headed out with our cruise director, Elia to Libourne's weekly market. This is your typical French market in these little villages. Everyone comes to shop for the week.

on our walk to the market

beautiful old buildings everywhere

Don found some coffee,

 starving for a pain au chocolate,

linens for sale,

luscious strawberries,

vine-ripened tomatoes and beans,

olives of any sort,

fresh yard eggs,

pastas galore,

gorgeous flowers,

fresh radishes and carrots,

some chocolat for us,

a bathroom and coffee for us too.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Elizabeth Spencer Wines-A Boutique Winery in Rutherford, CA #eswines

When my friend Linda Walbridge and I decided to meet in Napa Valley this August, I knew one of the boutique wineries I wanted to visit was Elizabeth Spencer Wines. I had seen the label and fell in love with it, which is pretty much enough to make you want to visit. My daughter and her husband had been to the tasting room. She had opened a bottle of ES rosé at their home in California for me to try. It was so delicious. But I wanted the experience for myself, so I wrote  them to arrange a tasting for my friends and I. We promised to blog about their wines when we returned to our home states of North Carolina and Texas. Guess what-we got an appointment right away!

Such a quaint little tasting room, with a garden full of tables, chairs and umbrellas. We sat outside in the perfect Napa Valley weather for our tastings.

We were greeted by Geremy, our wine educator, and escorted out to the gardens. Our first tasting was a !00% 2015 Block N Mendocino Sauvignon Blanc ($35) that was a medium to light-bodied Sauv Blanc, which I absolutely love. It had a bright pale color and a crispy finish. Perfect for a day in the warm sunny weather!

This 2015 Mendocino Chenin Blanc ($26) was so refreshing with Meyer lemon aromas, and fresh peach and clover honey flavors. Delicious!

Our next tasting was a 2014 Block Seven Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($63). This beautiful golden color Chardonnay is a medium-bodied wine with rich flavors. I loved it because it wasn't buttery and creamy, but crisp, bright and clean. 

Now for my favorite of all wines for the summer (or anytime) the 2015 Mendocino Rosé of Grenache ($19) was simply elegant. A gorgeous clear, bright apricot color, this wine is dry and zesty. We enjoyed its ripe flavors of strawberry with a twist of tangerine. It drinks well alone or with cheeses and a great wine for that brunch you've been longing to host at your home!

Moving onto reds, we tasted a 2013 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast ($48). This wine is a dark ruby red color. Black cherries and citrus fill your nose, cola and plum fill your mouth and finish with delicate tannins that I loved.

Our last tasting was a 2013 Elizabeth Spencer Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon ($105). This wine was a dark red brick color and delicious. It was wonderfully flavored with fruits and spices just like you would expect a Napa Cab to be only better.

We appreciate the time Geremy took to host us and showcase the Elizabeth Spencer Wines. We will be back soon. This boutique winery is not to be missed in Rutherford, California. You can find them at 1165 Rutherford Rd. or online at www.elizabethspencerwines.com

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Day 6 Bourg to Libourne and an Onboard Wine Lecture by Sbragia #sbragiafamily

At 10:15 that morning attended another onboard wine lecture/tasting presented by the Sbragias. "Back to the Future with Home Ranch Merlot!"

Merlots an easy to please varietal, practically jumping out of the glass with aromas and flavors we all love: berries, chocolate and vanilla. We saw a glimpse into the past and into the future with different library vintages and the yet-to-be released 2013 vintage of this Merlot from the same Sbragia family-owned Home Ranch vineyard. All beautiful, delicious Merlots!

2013 Home Ranch Merlot, $32

2012 Home Ranch Merlot, $32

2007 Home Ranch Merlot, $65

2004 Home Ranch Merlot, $50

This family knows how to make wine!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Day 5 @ Bourg Wine Festival at Bar À Vin

This is Bar À Vin in Bourg. If you are an AmaWaterway's guest, this festival is held just for you. Wines from the appellation of Cotes du Bourg, local snacks and a live-performance of typical French music made for a great atmosphere.

on the patio

some of the guests

our entertainment

some crackers, cheese, and foie gras


Colombelles de Coupon Sauvignon Gris, Cotês de Bourg

2012 Château Mayne de Bernard Cotês de Bourg, $7
Grand Vin de Bordeaux


2010 Château La Monge, Cotês de Bourg $7
Grand Vin de Bordeaux

2010 Château Croüte, Cotês de Bourg 

a little more French music

typical window in Bourg

time to walk back to the ship

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Blackbird Vineyards-A Boutique Winery in NapaValley! #Blackbird_Wines

My friend Linda Walbridge, her daughter Lauren, and I decided to do some investigative tasting in Napa Valley, California in August. Our goal was to find three or four boutique wineries, unknown and unvisited by us and check out their wines. We love to blog about food and wine, so Linda and I wrote emails to several wineries asking if we could arrange a tasting for the three of us. We heard back from so many wineries that we had to postpone some for another time in the future.

Blackbird Vineyards was one of the wineries that Lauren was already a member, so that was a no-brainer. Neither Linda nor I had been there or tasted their wines, but it came highly recommended. 
Approaching the tasting room we began to notice unusual art in the vineyard. Art such as a key and a hole, a ball and jacks, and other curiosities.

We were greeted by Matthew, a private client team leader, who would be our guide for the wine tastings. He led us to what appeared to be an old barn open at both ends and filled with contemporary art, furnishings, sculptures, and of course a huge farm table for us to taste the Blackbird wines.


We started our tasting with a 2014 Dissonance ($32), a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. This was a beautiful, crisp wine of 90% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Semillon. This is their newest member to the flock of wines. 

Then we began the reds!

Notice the bottle of wine on the left. The blackbirds are strategically placed in rhythm to the words of the Beatles song, Blackbird. Click on the link to hear Paul McCartney sing the song live! One thing I loved about this place was the awesome music playing in the barn while we tasted the wines.


2013 Arise ($54) is the hallmark of who they are-a right bank, Bordeaux inspired Merlot, blended with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Cabernet Franc. You've got cherry and blackberry jumping out of the glass with some licorice lingering at the end. This vintage with be great for a long time, 2015-2025. 

2013 Illustration Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine ($135) is a wine meant to challenge the idea that Cabernet Sauvignon is the only worthy red wine crafted in Napa Valley. It is blended 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  It is said to be the most decadent of the Blackbird wines and I truly believe it. Illustration is drinkable until 2029. That's a long time to wait for this delicious wine!

2013 Paramour Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine ($135) Another fine wine with a shelf life until 2029 is this classic-styled Cabernet Franc blend. 52% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot, and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon made this sensuous wine dance on my palate. One could tell the passion the grapes and the winegrower have for each other. 

2013 Contrarian Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine ($135) is the last of the three passion projects we tasted. This wine is said to be the most powerful of the three reds we tasted. It is blended perfectly with 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Cabernet Franc, and 32% Merlot. Age in your cellar until 2029 like the other reds above. I must say it was amazing!

All three of us were very pleased with our tastings at Blackbird Vineyards, and I couldn't get that song out of my head for days. I've been a Beatles fan almost all my life and now I am a Blackbird Vineyards fan! 

One other surprise was in store for us. Lauren asked if we could taste the 2013 Blackmail Cabernet Sauvignon ($100) and of course Matthew said yes! She was blackmailed sometime ago! 

Here's our empty bottle from dinner last night. Yummy!
I want to be blackmailed by Blackbird Vineyards! 

Looking out one end of the barn and remembering our experiences here at Blackbird Vineyards! 

To visit this vineyard and taste these limited-production wines, go to www.blackbirdvineyards.com to set up a tasting or call (707)252-4444.