As much as the Original intent of this cruise was just a simple, short, get-away-from-it-all, it seems to have manifested itself into more of a wine excursion. Certainly onboard it has gone that way and I now look at it as being a pre-cursor of what is yet to come.
When we (finally) dock in L.A. on Tuesday we find our rental car and leave immediately for the northern California wine country of Sonoma (where we will be staying) with a side trip to Napa Valley and, if I’m real lucky, Lodi.
More on that later (which only makes sense as we haven’t got there yet). For now the juice of the grape can be found in numerous places throughout this ship. My dear wife decided to wander, explore and relax in other areas so it was left to me to make a judgement call as to what to do with MY time. Vines, the splendid wine bar in all the Royal class Princess ships, always beckons and I rarely turn down the invitation. Today was no exception.
My personal favorite tasting at Vines has always been their 3 wine flight. Essentially a selection of three 2 ounce pours of wine all with something in common. Having a weakness for Italian wines made it all but mandatory that I choose the Italian Treat. At this point some of you may find the next few paragraphs a bit boring and perhaps a little self-serving. Others may find it (hopefully) a little insightful and perhaps somewhat informative. I hope for the latter but will certainly understand the former. Also bear in mind these notes are of my own personal observations…your own may be quite different. Like art, that’s the beauty of wine; it’s all so very personal.
Wine number 1 … Bianco Blend, Planeta La Sagreta
Served nicely chilled, as it should be. Light golden color, very well-defined meniscus. Lots of citrus on the nose. Almost zero acidity on the tongue and the citrus remains throughout the taste. The finish is relatively short but still enjoyable. Should go very well with salads, pasta and fish, but is quite capable of standing on its own.
Wine number 2 … Nero d’Avola, Donnafugata Sherazade
Served room temperature which works out just perfect for this particular wine. Medium to dark red in color with minimal meniscus. Cherries all over the place on the nose. Semi-dry, some acidity but very well balanced. Good tannins. The taste retains the cherries but also adds a bit of smokiness. The finish lasts a reasonable time and that same smokiness remains throughout. Could go well with smoked salmon or a rich-sauced spaghetti.
Wine number 3 … Brunello, Prunotto
Again, served room temperature. Miniscus well defined going from crystal clear to a wonderful medium red. I want to choose my words carefully here. The initial nose presented something almost, dare I say, medicinal which I found to be very surprising for a Barollo. Now I have to inquire as to when it was opened. The bartender in Vines (Gideon) tells me “yesterday”. That may explain my initial reaction because as I sit, writing this, the nose evolves back to closer resemble what I thought it should have been. A pleasant oakiness has returned! Slightly more dry than the Donnafugata (above), very well balanced acidity and tannins. The finish lasts without being cloying. This is a wine for that perfectly done Rib Eye or Filet Mignon.
Having catered to the needs of John Q Public for some 20 years before entering the tech field, I am all too familiar with complaints that can be raised. Sometimes those would be justified, many times not so much. For those justifiable complaints, how they are presented can have a huge impact on how they are resolved. I mentioned the problem I had with the Barolo to Gideon (who had been watching me take notes all through my tasting), and we both agreed that the wine had suffered. I also told him of the improvement over the relatively short time that it was in my glass and assured him that my notes would not be a bad reflection on him or the wine. As I was leaving, he called me back and said that, should I come back later, he would open a new bottle and pour me another glass…on his dime. Most interesting about this offer was that, first of all, I had asked for nothing and had no problem signing for the tasting charge (in this case, $10). Secondly, when I did return (cuz momma didn’t raise a dummy!) I was presented with a full pour of that freshly opened bottle. The big deal? A full pour is 6 ounces not 2 and costs $15 all by itself.
Although fresh out of the bottle with no real time to breathe and open up, it was significantly better. Both the nose and the palate were much happier and welcomed noticeably improved results. The “medicinal” bouquet was gone replaced with increased plum, hint of spice and very faint leather. The tongue relished the heavier tannins, refined acidity and the balance reflective of a good Barolo. The finish was lingering and enjoyable to its end. Many thanks to Gideon at Vines!
There is one more tale of an observation that had unexpected results, but it is late and shall be further explained tomorrow.