Thursday, February 20, 2014

Winey Tasting Notes: Canvassing the Campuses With Campus Oaks

I don't know about all of you, but recently, the word "campus" evokes a certain anxious excitement around the Winey Household. This is because we are smack dab in the middle of the Winey Daughter's senior year in high school. And that means she will be heading off to college in the fall. But not if she doesn't pick a college to attend.

I had it coming to me: I thought that all the pain, torture and eye-rolling joy and wonder of choosing which colleges to apply to and then filling out those applications would be tough. All those options to take into consideration: location? "NOT anywhere in this state." All righty then, let's just talk about the in-state tuition break? "NO." Size of school? "I don't know." Majors available? "I don't know." City or campus? "I don't know." How about the school Winey Mom and Winey Dad met at? "NO."

To give her credit, after some initial trips, we did narrow a few things down. NOTHING in state. (Really? Two very fine universities have accepted her. But it seems that residing inside the same state lines as her parents is NOT an option.) South is good. (I believe this is a direct correlation to the number of -0 days we've had this winter.) Very, very small colleges are out. (OK sure, I'll give on this one. Going to a college smaller than your high school might be tough.) A few got tossed out just because she didn't get a good feeling on the visits. (I do not knock this way of deciding - you can get a real feel for a school just by strolling on campus.)

So here we are, still in decision mode. Weighing the options. Filling out the FAFSA. Where does a Winey Mom turn? One guess.

bottle of Campus Oaks Chardonnay 2011Yup, there's a wine for all of this.  And it came to me as a Christmas present.   Two bottles of Campus Oaks wine, proving once again that Santa knows each and every one of us and is well aware of the things we need to make it through the next year of our lives. And no, I really didn't care if there were any oak trees on the campuses in question. There was wine in the bottles and that was good enough for me.

The first bottle I tasted was the Chardonnay (2011, 13.3%, CA). I uncorked it shortly after New Year's. It's a very pretty light gold color with a nose of fresh sea air mixed with fresh cut oak and minerals. It tasted of cinnamon and pear and vanilla and finished up with tart spices - you could especially taste the cinnamon here. A very smooth, round wine. You can tell it spent some time in the barrel, but it wasn't one of those wood filled, buttery Chardonnays. I'd describe it as mellow and flavorful. A great Chardonnay for white wine lovers - not so dry that you need to pick the wood out of your teeth after you finish it, but not so fruity and tart that you think you are drinking a Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc. It paired well with LOTS of food, since we were on a mission to finish up the holiday leftovers. So go ahead and serve it with baked brie, shrimp, buffalo chicken dip, and pizza.  (I never said there was a theme to those leftovers.)

bottle of Campus Oaks Old Vine Merlot 2009
A few weeks later I opened the Old Vine Merlot (2009, 14.5%, CA). I have come to learn that if you put the words "old vine" on a bottle, the chances that I will like it are very, very good. And this wine did not disappoint. It's medium bodied and a dark red in color. The nose is cherry and raspberry and again, some newly cut oak. The taste was out of this world! Blueberries and raspberries and oaky vanilla. There was definitely some lip smacking going on here, especially at the finish, which was full of velvet and tart cherry. Yummy!! I really loved this wine. It's  perfect if you are trying to convince someone that red wine is not the devil and is actually very good. It's very balanced, fruit forward and has that little tannic kick at the end.  Sip it or pair it, either way. Another winner for the Winey Mom winey win list.
And as for those colleges. The three of us, in some combination or another, will be spending the rest of February visiting and re-visiting some of the top runners. As much as I tease about it, we are very proud of her for working so hard and ensuring that come next August, the Winey Household will be a Winey Empty Nester Household. Gulp.

There's gonna have to be a wine for that too. 


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