Thursday, June 5, 2014

Winey Tasting Notes: William Hill Chardonnay for Our New Second Lieutenant

It was quite a day. We woke up at 5 am and were out the door of our hotel by 5:30. It was a damp, chilly fog shrouded Hudson Valley morning. We pulled up to the gates and were waved on through. And then again. Then it was onto the shuttle bus, into the football stadium and settling in for our 3 hour wait for the ceremony to start.

So, what kind of a ceremony would you wait three hours for? How about your son's graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point? Why three hours? Well, we had to pass through security on our way in because his big boss was the commencement speaker. And when your "big" boss also goes by the titles of "Commander in Chief" and "President of the United States" and the Secret Service says you must be in your seats 90 minutes before the ceremony or you will be locked out, well, you tend to listen. (We actually breezed through security, hence the extra long wait.  But as our son said, "Better safe than sorry for this one." I had actually never heard such words come out of his mouth before, so we took it very seriously.)

excited West Point moms on graduation day
I told you we were excited.
Two and a half hours later, having received his diploma, shaken the President's hand and thrown his cap into the air, we arrived at a stately old hotel at West Point for the new Second Lieutenant's commissioning ceremony. (Actually, they had all commissioned during the grad ceremony. This ceremony was a more personal commissioning for families and the new grads.) Our son was commissioning with four of his best buddies from West Point, and over the four years, we had gotten to know them and their families very well. So it was 5 families together. And what I mean is, it was five brand new Army moms together as their sons started the  next chapter in their lives.

What did we moms do? Yup.  We got to our luncheon room, dropped our coats and headed to the hotel bar. This is really not as disrespectful as it seems, since this was a day for total and complete celebration. We had all been working together via email to plan the luncheon and the ceremony and coordinate with family and friends and our sons (want to guess which ones were the hardest to get answers out of?).  And before that? We had lived and laughed and cried with our children for the entire four years of West Point. Through the highs of their academic and military success to the lows of massive workloads and brutal training assignments and the dreaded room inspections (The Winey Son, if you ask him, will tell you that he never once slept UNDER the covers of his bed. It was much easier to sleep with a blanket on an already made bed than to try and get it ready for inspections - scheduled or not.) We had worried about injuries and illness. And every time the caller id came up that it was them, woe to the person who got in our way as we lunged and grabbed for that telephone.
bottle of William Hill Coastal Collection Chardonnay
So yes, we trotted together down to the bar in order to start the celebrating and toasting. And it didn't make sense to just get one glass of wine, now did it? We had a few hours left as we watched our boys commission together. So we agreed that some bottles were in order.

I decided that a Chardonnay would be a lovely way to go on this day, and I selected a bottle of William Hill Coastal Collection Chardonnay (2012, 13.5%, California). I had tried some of their reds a while back and when I saw the Chardonnay on the list, I decided this was a good time to try that. It turned out to be a very, very good idea.

The best way to describe this wine is to say it's "oakey and sweet". That may sound like an odd combination (I usually don't take my oak with sugar), but that is what leapt to my mind. (For the record, I bought another bottle of this when we arrived home to make sure I had the correct info - I did NOT trust my note taking that day.) At first sniff, you get wet oak - think a forest after a rainstorm. The first note in my mouth was that sweet oak. There was the oakey Chardonnay flavor of course, but it had a sweet overtone to it. Sweet oak. It's the first time I remember tasting this combination. It was followed by pear and green apple and ended with a bit of kiwi. The kiwi gave the finish a tartness to it that was amazing after the sweetness of the first sip. It felt nice and round in my mouth and that was just right. If it had been a velvety, rich feel, the oak might have taken over the taste. In any case, this was such an interesting, sweet note to a classic oakey pear Chardonnay. I just loved it.

Buy this wine if you can't decide if you like ultra oaky Chardonnay or super sweet Riesling. It's got enough of both tastes and will seriously give you the best of both worlds here.

It was the perfect wine to sip on and toast with through many happy, relieved, proud and overwhelmingly joyful tears. Not to mention with my fellow Moms, who are without a doubt, some of the best buddies I have had through these years and will have for years to come.

Go Army! Go Moms! Cheers!

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