Saturday, February 5, 2011

Drinking Wine on Vacation Part II: Vino Volo Three courses/flights $69.00

I always add an hour or so to all of my afternoon/evening departing JFK flights. Not because I particularly like being overly early for flights or even hanging out in in American's Admirals Club, but because I like the wine bar Vino Volo. I discovered it a couple of years ago when I was flying to LA.  And now it is simply my "go to" airport restaurant.

I was en-route to London, my night flight had been canceled; there was a snowstorm raging outside and my fingers were crossed that I would be on the 6:45 pm flight.  I settled in for a 90 minute meal that included three flights of wine.

The menu is small and pairing specific. For my first course, I had the "Sparkling" flight and a small Brie & Prosciutto sandwich on cibatta with fig spread. With the wine comes a tasting sheet. The wines are available for purchase in the retail shop next door. (prices are Vino Volo Retail bottle/internet average)
"Celebration Sparklers" Flight $12.00

Juvé y Camps Reserva de la Familio Brut `05 (Not TJs) $25.99/$14.99 ***
Spanish Cava from Penedes:  Their tasting mat said white fruits and toasted bread.  hmm, I thought, fruity, dry and my notes said "tight".  It was very dry, and the finish was bright. It was my favorite of the three. (center in photo)

Loius Roederer Premire Brut NV  (Not TJ's) $53.00/$35.00**
Their tasting notes said Citrus and Ginger.  My thoughts: I liked the after burn of the ginger, the whole thought of a spicy champagne was new to me. It was the crispness that was good and I did taste a slight hint of butter in the finish.  But really, you are paying for the name Roederer, it is a designer old-school Champagne, and honestly, I just don't understand drinking these wines for anything other than the taste. (left in photo)

J Vineyards Cuvee 20 Brut NV (Not TJ's) $33.00/$29.99 *
Their tasting notes: Fiji Apple and Toast.  This was my least favorite.  It was very dry and slightly sour. There was a predominant taste of Fiji apple and grapefruit. But I got the toast note, and that was cool. his was also the richest tasting wine of the three.  I am thinking that it is the California Chardonnay that adds a butteriness, and the toast just is enhanced by the buttery note. It was the sour that put me off.  (right in photo)

Next, I had the "World Noirs" Flight, that I paired with half servings of Chickpea and Chorizo Chili and Pork Tacos.  I love their chickpea and chorizo chili; it is delicious. The Pork Tacos were moist and had a bit of spice  Both dishes were perfectly paired for these wines.  The menu may be small, but it works.

 "World of Noirs" Flight $16.00

Cristom Pinot Noir Mt. Jefferson Cuvee `08 (Not TJ's) $39.00/$30.00 ***
This was my favorite, because it was interesting.  The Vino Volo Mat says "Red Cherry and Tea".  Well, blow my socks off, it does have a subtle taste of tea.  And it smells of it too.  And it is a bright wine, almost effervescent. I am a total sucker for an interesting wine. (center in photo)

ZD Wines Cameros `07 (Not TJ's) $45.00/$33.00 ***
This is a beautiful, full smooth wine.  The tasting notes say "Raspberry and Cedar" and they are spot on. It really is gorgeous and priced as such.  This is a fantastic wine to bring as a hostess gift for a meal, or to pull out when you are cooking to impress.  It doesn't have the haughtiness of a Cabernet, but it does have a flavorful, fruity and juicy taste, with a nice grounding of cedar on the finish. I'm not giving it four stars, simply because I consider it a special purchase wine.  At that price point, there are a lot of gorgeous wines out there. (right in photo)

Gerhard Pittnauer Pinot Noir Fuchsenfeld `06 (Not TJ's) $33.00/ $29.00 ***
The Mat said "Cranberry & Earth" hmmm.  I got the cranberry notes.  Kind of tart.  Ok, really tart, and peppery.  I think that it was a disservice that I tried this wine with two that I loved.  I feel like the comparison was so diverse, that I simply had to sit back, enjoy the wine and just experience it.  Not judge it.  This wine makes me think about my whole ratings system even more.  I may just switch to "Loved it, Liked it, Hated it".  I liked this wine, it was ok.  I think that is is a wine to have with a meal, I wouldn't open a bottle to just sip. I am glad that I got to taste this Old World Pinot Noir.(left in photo)

Well, you would think that after all that wine and food, I would have had enough.  BUT, I was on vacation and I decided that I was going for the full tasting.  I ordered a flight of dessert wine and dessert.  Why not?  I was on my way to London, and it was going to be a 6 hour overnight flight to sober up on!  I would be guaranteed to sleep well.  Dessert was a portion of Cheesecake and a portion of flour-less chocolate cake.  Both were delicious, and the wines, well....  one wine blew my mind. (I'll leave that one for last)

"Just Dessert"  Flight

Casa de Santa Eufemia 10 year old Tawny Port NV (Not TJ's) $56.00/$37.00 ****
I love Tawny Port, and this one is a great one. (left in photo)  It has a distinct coffee undertone, and a date-like sweetness.  It boarders on cloying, but in moderation, this is a lovely end to a meal.  Made by Quinta de Santa Eufêmia this port is a rich, long finish library drink. I am always amazed that the same grape varietal made the Pinot Noir flight in my pairing above, also made this port.  I love versatility.

Viñedo de los Vientos Tannat Alcyone NV (Not TJ's) $39.00/$33.00 ****
This was the mind blowing, amazing experience that makes me love Vino Volo.  I tried my first wine from Uruguay.  I tried my first varietal Tannat and I had my first dessert wine that tasted like toasted marshmallows. I am a pyromaniac that will sit and burn marshmallows and eat them until I am in a diabetic coma. And since I am NOT a diabetic, just imagine me sitting with a stick, in front of a fire with glassy eyes and a perm-a-grin on my face.... To me, this wine was that campfire/marshmallow happiness in a glass (with notes of cherry and vanilla as well.). This wine was the most amazing of the meal, and I will be picking up a bottle to do a full review when I get back from London.

After my meal, I walked to my gate, boarded my plane an hour later than scheduled and then sat on the plane on the runway for three hours due to the snowstorm.  I slept on the plane and when I woke up, 
I was at Heathrow, then I took the train to Central London.  
Here it is, my beloved Paddington Station.

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