Wine Social at Bar Divani - Featuring California

Now living in Michigan's Greater Grand Rapids, we needed to find a new hobby... and did we find one!  Bar Divani in Downtown Grand Rapids hosts a Wine Social every Wednesday night through May, and our first experience was amazing!  We can't wait to make it a weekly event.  This week, six California wines were featured by our host, Rimple, owner of Bar Divani.  A compilation of Central Coast, Sonoma, and Napa, the six wines were for the most part a great representation of California's juice.

More so than the wine, the company was phenomenal.  Everyone around the table had a unique background and a story to tell.  And the stories got better as the night went on... not that the wine had anything to do with it... :)
The first wine to bring our interests together was the 2008 Arrowood Chardonnay from Sonoma County.  The nose consisted of light butter, apple pie, and I could detect the scent of steel barrel fermenting entwined.  It's palate was acidic with green grape juice and a green apple mouth-feel.  The structure was sharp and the overall flavor a tad underwhelming.
Next on the menu was Laetitia Vineyards Pinot Noir from the Arroyo Grande Valley, vintage 2009.  I have had this phenomenal Pinot in the past, and am always impressed with its elegant structure for its reasonable price.  For this tasting, I noted a wonderful bright raspberry and cherry nose with mild herbs.  The palate was equally bright with gorgeous fruit, and an easy, almost effervescent feel.

Halfway through the glass of Laetitia, the small plates we ordered arrived.  A great cheese and charcuterie plate lined with prosciutto, figs, grapes, and an excellent selection of cheeses, and an order of fries fried in duck fat... mmmmmmm.

Moving on to the third wine in the tasting, the 2008 Girasole Zinfandel from the Redwood Valley in Mendacino, we found it with a very soft and mild scent, but almost the same in palate.  Unfortunately it was a touch bland, but would be an excellent transition for those inching into the red wine world.  Girasole is a 'vegan' wine, meaning animal products have not been used in the filtering process.

Fourth in the evening, Melville's Verna's Estate Syrah from Santa Barbara, vintage 2009.  It was fantastic!  And not just because I've been to Melville, but the 2009 Verna is truly a wine drinker's dream.  The nose is supple and fruity with amazing smoke and luscious berries.  The palate is equally sexy with blackberries, chocolate covered cherries and most of all, juicy tannins!  I loved it so much, I bought a bottle for home.

Next on the list was Terra Valentine's 2009 Cabernet from Napa.  Despite still being young with a potential 10 years left in the bottle, this cab was great!  The nose was very elegant with deep fruits and cedar and the palate was full with mocha, cola, and cocoa.  The mouthfeel was tight due to its young age, but it had a great presence and long finish.

Last was EOS Private Reserve Petite Sirah from Paso Robles, 2006 vintage.  This wine was big!  The biggest of the night.  Its strong aromas of deep plum and other dark fruit was a great introduction to the wine.  The palate was rich with juicy blueberries and currants.  It was still a tad tight, but an excellent experience from start to finish.

Before the festivities could end, one of the social patrons in the group, Stan, had arranged a seventh bottle for us to sample.  Not yet available in the market, Stan's friend who produces the wine allowed us to test the bottle and provide our thoughts.  Conclusion: we want more!  Zuma Vista Syrah from Paso Robles, vintage 2009, was phenomenal.  The nose was rich with luscious berries and sage with a complimentary palate following.  Flavors of mixed berries and dark fruit laced with hints of smoke could easily be enjoyed for the next ten years, increasing quality with age.  With proper decanting, it can most certainly be enjoyed now, and quite honestly, I would like to get my hands on more!  As it has not officially been released, there was no price tag attached to the bottle, but educated guesses around the table put it at a retail of $40-$60.  Great bottle Zuma Vista, and thank you Stan for sharing!

Overall, it was a fantastic night, and I highly recommend the experience for those in Metro Grand Rapids.  The night is very reasonable at $15 per person on an average night (special nights are $5-$10 more, but still worth every penny).  Next week (02/22) is a snapshot of France's wine growing regions (can't wait!), and the following week (2/29) is "Guess the Grape" for a night of blind fun.  We're very excited to make this a weekly event.  Cheers to Bar Divani, and thank you to our host, Rimple!


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