I was excited to be invited to a “Christmas In July” virtual wine tasting featuring Mollie Battenhouse, MW, National Director of Wine Education at Jackson Family Wines (a legendary name in wines). Battenhouse walked us through the highly anticipated Spire Collection for holiday gift giving. As it says on www.spirecollection.com’s home page, “The Spire Collection is the pinnacle of the Jackson Family Wines portfolio, representing four decades of investment in the vineyards, people, and places that craft these unforgettable wines.”
I say not to wait until Christmas to try the four wines that I sampled during the virtual tasting—although they are indeed all spectacular picks for holiday gift giving or pouring at your holiday tables. If you buy some bottles now as “gifts,” I guarantee you will be drinking them before the holidays come so maybe it’s best that you order off their site and have them mailed directly to your giftees at a later date. To be specific, the four Spire Collection wines that the other food influencers and I tried were Gran Moraine, Stonestreet, Cardinale and Maggy Hawk, all examples of the great diversity and high quality wines available from Northern California and Oregon. I am a wine novice so it was great to have Ms. Battenhouse to ask questions to. One thing I learned from her is that even the winds in a vineyard can affect the final flavor of the grapes and eventually the wine! (Who knew?)
Gran Moraine Brut Rose is from the Yamhill-Carlton AVA in Oregon’s Williamette Valley. It is light, fruity and a little oaky all at once. I think that this is the ultimate brunch wine and also great for an outdoor picnic on a grassy hill with a lovely picnic basket full of charcuterie and French bread. Although subtle, there are hints of tangerine, kumquat and nectarine in the mix. Gran Moraine is very vibrant, well balanced and is clean all the way to the finish. You can purchase it for $50 at www.granmoraine.com or www.spirecollection.com.
Stonestreet 2017 Estate Chardonnay from Stonestreet Estate Vineyards in the Alexander Valley of Sonoma County was up next in our virtual tasting. This vineyard produces high altitude wine. Stonestreet 2017 Estate Chardonnay is a truly unique product as you can literally taste hints of toffee, cashew brittle and salt grilled peaches when you sip it! Let’s not forget that you can taste a bit of Bosc pear and caramel in the mix! You can purchase this unique wine for $40 at www.stonestreetwines.com or www.spirecollection.com.
Next up was Maggy Hawk 2018 Unforgettable Pinot Noir created at the Maggy Hawk Estate Vineyard in the Anderson Valley (Mendocino County). The grapes used for this unique Pinot Noir are fermented in three ton fermenters with pump overs twice a day. The final result is a Pinot mixing the flavors of jammy blackberry, boysenberry and blueberry. The scent is clearly flowery—you will be whiffing violets, lilac and pennyroyal. Maggy Hawk 2018 Unforgettable Pinot Noir is aged for 15 months in 43 per cent new French oak barrels and production is limited to only 571 cases per year. You can purchase it for $65 at www.MaggyHawk.com or www.spirecollection.com.
Cardinale Cabernet Sauvignon (2018) is a luxury cab created at the Cardinale Winery in Oakville, CA (Napa Valley). This is a very special Bordeaux style wine with a roundness that offsets the crisp acidity of the noble grape. You can taste starfruit, lemongrass and citrus followed by a noticeable creamy texture. This is a very complex Cabernet that is actually 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. If you are a very adventurous wine lover, you might want to take the virtual tour and tasting that is available on the Cardinale site (they do offer in person tastings if you ever come out their way). Price of this wine is $335 and it’s available at both www.cardinale.com and www.spirecollection.com.
A special shout out to the Cowgirl Creamery for the Just Add Wine gift boxes full of cheese, crackers and more that accompanied our wine! This fabulous assortment that includes the triple cream legendary cow’s milk cheese known as Mt Tam can be ordered on their site, www.cowgirlcreamery.com.