While I publicize my great fondness for froufou cocktails and microbrews, I also enjoy wine a great deal, even if lately it’s only been to have a glass while soaking in a bubble bath. Fuzzy doesn’t touch alcohol, but when I was offered the chance to review a couple of different wines offered by the Gold Medal Wines wine of the month club, I jumped at the chance.
My pair of wines, a bottle of Belvedere Russian River Valley Chardonnay (Sonoma County 2005) and bottle of Bradford Mountain Grist Vineyard Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley 2004) arrived packed in a tight-fitting styrofoam bottle case fit snugly in a sturdy brown box. I’ve received wine before that wasn’t packed anywhere near as securely, and while we don’t really need boxes, I insisted we save this packing material. Inside the foam, each bottle was wrapped in tissue and tied with a colorful bow. The box was marked “gift card inside,” and I had been told to expect one, as well as a newsletter, but both items were accidentally omitted from my box. No matter , pictures of both are available at the Gold Medal Wine website (the gift cards are a rich wine-y purple), and I enjoyed reading the pdf version of the newsletter, so I could read the tasting notes, which were informative and interesting, as well as being neither pandering nor pompous in tone.
The wine itself, of course, is of real interest here. I tried the Zinfandel first, because I generally like Zin, and this one, rather typically of California wines, was oaky, but while the oak was present it wasn’t overpowering at all. In the bottle, this was a smokey Zin, in the glass it opened up a bit, and the spicier textures were evident, and on the tongue a little more oak than I’d originally expected but not bad, though I thought it tasted a little young.
The Chardonnay, on first taste, was sweeter than I’m used to chard being, and sweeter than I’d expected, since Gold Medal Wine’s website stresses that they feature very dry selections, but not a bad sweet, and after the first taste, the sweetness dissipated a bit, and more flavor came through – almond, especially – and the overall impression was exactly what chardonnay should be.
Both these selections come from the Gold Series of the wine of the month program, which costs about $32 / month (for two bottles). This series is an excellent first step for wine aficionados who want to educate their palates with some lovely wines from small-production California vineyards, or those who don’t have huge amounts of money to spend on their passion. As a former Californian who used to have a winery on her street, and made frequent forays to Bonny Doon (their framboise and cassis were favorites of mine for a long time), the Gold Medal Wine club also gives me a taste of home.
I’m buying a subscription on the strength of these sample bottles.