Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cracking Open the Good Stuff -- Volume 1 -- Göpfrich

After our 100th review, I figure this is a good a time to make a slight change around here. Now don't go worrying, I'm still keeping my focus on inexpensive, quality wines. You'll still be able to get your Vine fix and that will remain the primary focus of the site. As I've tried more and more wine, my palate has broadened -- as does anyone's who keeps one hand on a tasting glass for any length of time. Many of these wines are simply too good not to share my thoughts about with all of you out there.

So, from time to time, I'm going to start jotting down a few notes on wines that are slightly higher priced -- because everyone needs a good special occasion wine from time to time. (Or, to paraphrase Virginia Madsen from Sideways -- anytime you open a good bottle of wine is a special occasion.) I'm going to start with a bottle that helped me first understand what a good bottle of wine can be.

The Sweet Partner in Crime came home with a delicious looking porterhouse steak that simply begged to be grilled up. We put together a couple of foil packs for vegetables -- new potatoes with some rosemary and basil from our garden and Brussels sprouts with some garlic, olive oil, and feta cheese. It was a Friday night after a particularly grueling couple of weeks at work, so we decided to pull something out of the "special occasion" rack.

I dug around and came out with the Göpfrich 2003 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Göpfrich is a Sonoma Country winery that we visited on our first trip to wine country. It's a small operation in Dry Creek Valley run by Ray and Bonnie Goepfrich. We stumbled upon the place while we were out tasting and Ray was good enough to let us try some of his bounty even though we didn't have an appointment when we popped in.

At the time, I thought his wines were some of the best I'd ever tasted, especially the Cabernet Sauvignon. Many bottles of wine have passed under the bridge and through the liver since then, and I still stand by my estimation. Especially at the price point (the current reserve cab is $38 a bottle), these wines are astoundingly good. Theirs was the first wine club that we joined, and we've been loyal customers every since that day.

Most Göpfrich wines are high in alcohol, so they're a little "hot" when first poured. So, after letting the wine breathe for a little while, we got to work on dinner and eventually poured a little -- just to get a sense. Even after half an hour, the wine still hadn't quite opened up -- but once it did (took about another 20 minutes -- just in time to eat), the wine was nothing short of spectacular.

The nose was rich and layered with blackberries, coffee, and chocolate. There was a quick burst of fruit when first sipped, but that fruit quickly mellowed into a long, rich, chocolate-and-berry filled midpalate. The wine's richness continued into an exceptionally well-balanced finish that lingered strongly for well over a minute. This was a "take a sip, close your eyes, and dream" sort of wine, one that continued to open up over the course of the evening -- flavors of blueberry peeked out around the edges, and the finish became smokier.

With the food? Well...nothing short of divine. There's really not much I can add. A great cut of meat, grilled properly and a top line cabernet -- there's simply no way to go wrong. We saved a splash for chocolate later in the evening. Again, impeccable.

Göpfrich is always my first recommendation when I get asked about Sonoma wine country. They ship nationwide.

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