We were celebrating the August and September birthdays at one of the sister’s homes, as they have an inground swimming pool and the weekend might be the last hurrah for the season. Since, my Bride is one of five daughters and each has a husband, plus children and now some grandchildren, you can see how if we celebrated each birthday individually, that is the entire social calendar for the year, so it is much easier and saner to bundle the honorees together; though the names on the cake can get pretty crowded at certain months.
With the party, being a pool party, the food selection was more casual, though the appetizers remained about the same. There were fruits and vegetables, dips, and assorted cheeses and crackers. There are times when I can literally make a meal just from the munchies and I am sure that holds true for some of the others at the party as well. To start off the revelry, we brought Gazela Vinho Verde Rosé NV which is made by Sogrape Vinhos of Portugal, and it appears as if in the future this wine will also be labeled as “Aire.” Vinho Verde has developed its own coterie of followers and I think the group gets larger every year, as it is just an easy wine that is perfect for hot weather and with water nearby, either a pool, lake or ocean. Portugal, it is often said, has had a rather foot-loose and fancy free about grape varieties in certain areas, as even the winemakers cannot state for sure what has been planted over the decades, if not centuries. In the Vinho Verde region there are over fifteen thousand hectares planted and seventy percent is white. Most of the Vinho Verde Tinto is for domestic consumption, but I guess they are exporting more, since the white has become so popular. To give you an idea about the grape varieties that may be encountered just for the Tinto, the ones recommended are: Azal-Tinto, Borracal, Brancelho, Espadeiro, Padeiro-de-Basto, Pedral, Rabo-de-Ovelha and Vinhao. Other permitted varieties are: Alicante-Bouschet, Docal, Espadeiro-Mole, Grand-Noir, Labrusco, Pical, Touriga-Nacional, Trincadeira-Preta and Verdelho-Tinto. The wines are made in Stainless Steel and the malolactic fermentation takes place in the bottle, which causes the natural petillance or effervescence of the wine. This wine was frothy and plenty of big bubbles appearing in the glass after pouring. The wine had a nose and a taste of watermelon and strawberries in a raspberry color. Very easy and definitely quaffable, in fact my Bride said that she likes this wine even more than the white.
The dinner segment was just a casual, as it was a barbecue of bratwursts and hamburgers, along with the classic sides that one would encounter at a cookout like this. Later on, there was the sweet table and the obligatory birthday cake. Since I was one of the honorees, I did bring a special bottle from our cellar, just to see how the wine was progressing as we have some more of the wine resting. We had a bottle of Duckhorn Vineyards Decoy Migration Napa Valley Red Table Wine 1996, which we bought at the winery. Years ago, we had the good fortune to have a private tour and tasting during harvest with one of the Duckhorn sons and at that time, the wine was a blending of different varieties and different contract and owner properties, back when Duckhorn Vineyards produced all of their wines in Napa Valley, now Duckhorn is one subsidiary and Migration is another subsidiary. The original concept for Migration is that the wine could change from year to year. This wine was produced from fruit harvested from seven different vineyards within the appellation. The wine was fifty-one percent Cabernet Franc, twenty-six percent Merlot, thirteen percent Cabernet Sauvignon and ten percent Petit Verdot. The wine was aged for eighteen months in a blend of sixty percent French Oak (ten percent new, sixty percent second and thirty neutral) and forty percent American Oak (all second use). Silly me, I forgot to pack my Durand and of course the cork broke and I had to use a coffee filter and a funnel to decant. This wine was just beginning to show its age, but the nose was vintage Right Bank, the nose and the tannins were soft, but it was still a chewy wine with a good long finish. For a twenty-five-year-old, it behaved very nicely and a pleasure to drink.