Summer Surprises, Ladera Sauvignon Blanc and A Delightful Wine Tasting

What a wonderful week we’ve had here at The Kitten. Full of good surprises. The weather finally settled into the brilliant summer days we look forward to all winter here in Minnesota— not too hot and not too cold, with blue skies, pleasant breezes and beautiful sunshine. Added to that, my Charming Spouse invited me out for a spontaneous, mid-week Date Night and, on top of all that, we received a lovely and unexpected invitation to a phenomenal wine tasting, as well, making for two Date Nights in the same week. Score!

For the report on our spontaneous Date Night, I turn you over to my Charming Spouse, the instigator of the evening:

Ok…time to set the stage. A Wednesday night, my Lovely Bride, and me— both too tired to cook dinner— and two Teenagers who’d prefer to have the house to themselves anyhow. What better excuse could you have for a spontaneous Date Night? So off we headed to one of our favorite local establishments, Spasso.  In addition to being close to home and having good food, Spasso has a wine pricing policy that makes us wine lovers giddy with excitement— no mark-ups on their wine list. That’s right, wine list prices are the same as retail, not the double or (gasp) triple retail pricing that is more typical of wine lists. It just so happens that Spasso is partnered with The Wine Shop next door, filling it’s wine list from The Wine Shop’s inventory, selling bottles in the restaurant for the same price as in the store, and charging no corkage fee on bottles bought at The Wine Shop, in case you prefer to pick out something not offered on the wine list. How great is that?!

We settled into our seats at a high top table in the bar and chose the 2011 Ladera Sauvignon Blanc from Howell Mountain. We both love Sauvignon Blanc as it is a wonderful summertime wine and pairs well with many foods, most especially seafood. The first thing that hit both of us about the wine was the aroma of citrus— grapefruit specifically. The wine was bright and lively on the palate, with a pleasant crispness, and as in the aroma, a pronounced grapefruit flavor which we loved. It paired wonderfully with the seared scallops and the citrus halibut that we ordered.

Ladera, which is located north of Napa Valley on Howell Mountain, actually has a Minnesota connection. Proprietor Pat Stotesbery, who owns the winery with his wife Anne, is a Minnesota native. I don’t want to gloat, but it seems everywhere we turn these days we find wonderful wineries with a link to Minnesota.

Speaking of wineries with a Minnesota connection, our post last week about the Minnesota-based Meschini Family, owners of an Argentinian winery, led us to be included in a fabulous wine tasting of Meschini wines this week. An unexpected, but lovely invitation, we enjoyed meeting Teresa and Eugenio Meschini, who were sampling more wines than we could count on our two hands, both from their own winery and from their cousin Giovanni Meschini’s winery in Italy, Fattoria Colomone della Marca. Down-to-earth and fun, the Meschinis were as gracious as hosts as they are industrious and creative as winemakers. Worthy of another post, to be sure, so stay tuned!

And in keeping with the theme of delightful surprises, we sampled two wines by Giovanni Meschini that we didn’t know even existed— White Sangiovese and White Merlot. Both wines were so light in color that you might mistake them for water if you didn’t look carefully. But the aromas and flavors of both were abundant. And both were as exceptional tasting as they were unique. We were mesmerized as Giovanni described the delicate process of pressing the grapes so gently that the color of the skin does not transfer to the wine. If you are lucky enough to find Bianco di Moro or Merlo Albino, buy them! (You can read more about the Bianco di Moro in Star Tribune writer Bill Ward’s column, where he selected it as Wine of the Week.)

After such a lengthy series of wonderful surprises, “grateful” is the word of the day here at The Kitten. We toast to glorious summer days, spontaneous nights out, and unexpected invitations that result in new friends, new discoveries and good times. What more could we ask for? Cheers!

14 replies »

  1. Hi Kelly! Yes, it was so fun and so serendipitous to meet them. We exchanged tweets after our post last weekend and – voila!- we ended up at their wine tasting within a few days. Met many interesting folks, including some other wine bloggers we tweet with but had not met personally. Teresa spoke really highly of you and Eric and said Eric had been one of the first to carry Meschini when they started out. So cool!

  2. Thirsty Kitten. So enjoyed meeting you at our party and thanks for taking us up on our last minute invitation. Kelly, you and Eric were missed greatly but what Lucy says is true. Eric was one of my first retailers and has been so supportive. I will never, ever forget that. Cheers!

  3. Thanks so much, Teresa! Kip and I are still talking about your wines and the wonderful food with which they were paired that evening. And the company was lovely, as well. Our mutual connection to Kelly and Eric just seems one more proof of the “small world” theory. Love it! We look forward to staying in touch.

  4. Thanks, Keith. Of course, after dinner we wandered over to the shop to re-stock our everyday wine. Oh, the delightful convenience! Got some great suggestions from the woman working that evening, whose name I unfortunately fail to remember now. Cheers to all you guys at The Wine Shop!

  5. My first visit and I too agree with Nick from Wine USA, who recommended your blog, that it is very interesting.
    I like Ladera reds, but didn’t know they did Sauv-Blanc, and since I’m “boiling” after a long day at work, I’d sure could use a glass of a good SB.

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