Christmas is fast approaching, time to shop for those wine related gifts.
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Christmas is fast approaching, time to shop for those wine related gifts.
Wine makes the perfect gift at Christmas and during the holiday season for any wine lover. Wine related gifts and gadgets are everywhere today. Yet there is something about handing that special person in your life his or her favorite bottle of red, white or sparkling wine that makes gift giving fun.
Check out the link below and find that special gift with free shipping!
Looking for something to go along with your gift of wine?
Check out the large selection of Amazon gift cards at the link below:
September 8th & 9th, 2012 – Dutchess County Fairgrounds – Rhinebeck, NY
The Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest 2012 celebrates 11 years, featuring hundreds of wines from all over New York and around the world. Over 100 vendors will serve gourmet and specialty foods, display fine arts and more, food sampling from some of the New York regions top restaurants will be available along with live entertainment. Visitors will enjoy cooking demonstrations, Food and Wine seminars and a chance to talk with winemakers from some of New York’s best wineries .
This is a must visit event if you love wine and food!
Location: Dutchess County Fairgrounds in historic Rhinebeck, New York.
located near Rhinecliff train station and offering free parking.
Date: September 8th – 9th 2012
For more information and tickets visit: http://www.hudsonvalleywinefest.com/
Balloon Festival Launch Party & Wine Tasting
Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest
DATE: Friday July 6, 2012
LOCATION: Grieg Farm, Red Hook, NY
MORE: Join the Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest as we celebrate the launch of our sponsored balloon during the Dutchess County Regional Balloon Festival weekend. We will have wine tasting from Hudson-Chatham, Millbrook & Happy Bitch wineries as well as some hors d’eourves.
Admission is Free. Enjoy a beautiful summer evening and watch the balloons!
Bring your camera and take pictures for a chance to win Wine & Food Fest Tickets
For more information visit: http://www.hudsonvalleywinefest.com/
The next day we decided to visit some of the local tasting rooms located on Santa Barbara’s urban wine trail and headed over to Anacapa Street where there are several tasting rooms, all within walking distance. Our first stop was Oreana Winery, which is probably one of the most unique tasting rooms we visited with on our trip.
Originally founded as Cellar 205 by winemaker Christian Garver, Oreana specializes in Pinot Noir, Syrah and small micro batches of sparkling wine. The winery is located in an old tire shop and it has become synonymous with great wine and even better parties. The tasting room exudes fun and good times and provides a great start or end to tasting in downtown Santa Barbara. A tasting at Oreana will cost you $10, below you will find a partial list of the wine we tasted:
2009 Oreana Chardonnay-Santa Barbara
“Very ripe, rich and smooth, velvety as can be.
Tastes like a terrific grand cru white Burgundy, showing supple character,
with toasted hazelnut, spicy, smokey, grilled meat and pear-tart notes.
A great, full-bodied wine with rich intense flavors of pear, peach, and violets”.
2008 Oreana Pinot Noir- Central Coast
“A stunning array of blue and black fruit–blackberry, boysenberry,
blueberry and currant–that is pure, driven and refined, with licorice,
sweet spice, vanilla, mineral and sanguine notes flittering throughout.
Despite its concentration, it`s remarkably elegant, with superb length
and a seamless finish.”
We purchased this Pinot Noir, it was one of our favorites.
2008 Oreana Syrah- Central Coast
“The Bacon Reserve is from Oreana’s northern vineyards,
which produce a rich, robust, velvety wine with a slight hint of bacon.
We swear, no swine was harmed in the making of this wine,
but there is an unmistakeable hint of bacon, followed by a
solid backbone of black cherry and anise.
While it’s not necessary to serve at the breakfast table,
there’s no denying that this wine will get your day started right…”
If you’d like to visit Oreana Winery, it is located at 205 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101; you can also visit their website at http://oreanawinery.com/index.html
Our next stop was Corks n’Crowns which specializes in wine and beer tasting. Although we are all about wine on this site, I do manage to find time for indulging in other libations, so I was excited to taste both fine wine and beer. For those interested solely in wine, Corks n’ Crowns offers a wide variety of small production wines from all over the world. The wines change on a monthly basis and the options are endless. For those who like beer, they offer small batch micro brews from independent brewers. The beer is also changed on a monthly basis. Cork n’ Crowns is also where I picked up our Wine Check, which you can read about in the previous post “To Ship or Check…Wine Check!” The cost for a tasting varies from $5-$15 depending on which flight you choose and a beer tasting is $6.
If you’d like to visit Corks n’ Crowns, they are located at 32 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101; you can also visit their website at http://corksandcrowns.com/
Our final tasting was the Deep Sea tasting room located on Stearns Wharf. This tasting room provides the most breath taking views of downtown Santa Barbara, the Channel Islands and the Pacific Ocean. It’s a great place to end the day with a glass of wine while enjoying the view. The tasting room is owned by Conway Family Wines, which also produces Racho Arroyo Wines. A tasting a Deep Sea is $10, below you will find a partial list of the wines we tasted:
2008 Deep Sea Pinot Noir- Sta. Rita Hills
“The wine is delicate and expressive with fine, soft tannins, and explosive red fruit flavors, including strawberries and blackberries. Delicate aromas of dark berries and smoked cedar wood fill the glass.”
2008 Deep Sea Chardonnay-Santa Barbra County
“The 2008 Deep Sea Chardonnay from Santa Barbara County opens with intense aromas of apricot, honey, toffee, and a brush of vanilla. Crisp and fresh notes of citrus and white flowers are followed with hints of flint stone. Complex flavors linger on a polished and creamy finish.”
If you’d like to visit the Deep Sea tasting room, it is located on Stearns Wharf in Downtown Santa Barbara. You can also visit their website at http://www.deepseawines.com/
After our visit to Deep Sea, we walked across the Wharf to the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company for Rock Crab and Clam Chowder.
If you’d like to find out more about the other tasting rooms on the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail visit http://www.urbanwinetrailsb.com/
Check back soon as we head back to Santa Ynez.
Until next time Salude!!
Getting ready to select a couple of bottles of wine to celebrate our New York Giants during the Super Bowl tomorrow. You better believe that we will be opening a few cellar aged beauties to celebrate this landmark season. Going in as underdogs and taking the Wild Card into the playoffs all the way to the big game. I think more bottles of wine were consumed this season than any other, both in celebration and in misery as it wasn’t always pretty! Definitely excited to watch the Giants fend off the Patriots once again while enjoying some of my favorite wines!!!! Sure hope we can open a real special celebratory bottle if they win….maybe a Schramsberg Reserve would suit the occasion! GO GIANTS!
Another Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and what better way to surprise that special person than with a good wine. A special day to treat the love of your life to red roses, chocolates, and a great wine. Sit down next to a cozy fire with that significant someone and crack a bottle of Merlot, talk about all your memorable years past. Or watch the sun set with a elegant bottle of Cabernet. How about a quiet evening of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. Whatever your taste this Valentines season make sure you spend it with that special someone and a special bottle of vino! Check out our special offers below.
Any trip to California wine country will often result in the same question popping up; should I check my wine as an extra bag or ship it home? This was the quandary I found myself in on a recent trip to the Golden State. On a previous trip, I had checked one case of wine as an extra bag, had no issues and was happy to find my case on the baggage carousel at my home airport. I was even more delighted when I opened the case to find that all the wine had made it through unscathed. On that particular trip, I had a direct flight and was only checking one case of wine. So, the chances of a catastrophe occurring were minimal and because of the high cost of shipping, it made sense to check rather than ship. However, on our most recent trip I had a layover and was planning on bringing home 2 cases of wine. Double the flights, double the wine, double the chances that something would go wrong.
As my first case of wine was filled, I began to weigh the options. Should I ship the wine which would result in expensive shipping, having to arrange for delivery so someone could sign for the box and be forced to wait a week to get the wine? Or should I ship as an extra bag, pay a lower amount to send it home and have the wine as soon as I get home? It was a difficult question; I really wasn’t sure what made the best sense. I knew that with a layover, the chances of cardboard wine cases being damaged or “lost” were high. But the benefits of bringing the wine home with me and saving on shipping seemed to outweigh the negatives.
My real concern was the integrity of the cardboard wine box. I already knew that the Styrofoam inserts would protect the wine, but I didn’t think the cardboard box would make it through multiple flights and handling by airline personnel. I had 6 days remaining on the trip, which provided more than enough time to try and locate a better shipping container before the return trip. After a quick search on the internet, I realized there were plenty of options for those serious about traveling with wine. But you also had to make a serious financial commitment, which I was unwilling to do.
I was beginning to give up hope that I would find an affordable shipping container and then I happened across http://thewinecheck.com/. As the site states; they offer a safe, convenient and economical way to ship wine. The price for the bag was $54.00 or $59.00 for a bag and cardboard shipper insert. I was sold on the idea until I got to the shipping page. If I had been in Napa or Sonoma (Proper), I could have arranged for a free same day delivery. However, since I was in Santa Barbara I would have to ship them and expedite it to get the bags in time. Unfortunately, the cost to buy 2 bags and ship them to Santa Barbara in less than 5 days was going to cost me $279.18. At that price I would end up saving money shipping the wine. Still convinced that the wine check was a great affordable idea, but not willing to spend that much to ship them, I passed on the bags. Instead, I would take my chances with the regular cardboard boxes and I resolved to order the bags when I got back home so I would be prepared for my next trip.
The following day, we decided to take in the sights of downtown Santa Barbara and visit some of the local wine tasting rooms. We stopped at Corks n’ Crowns in downtown Santa Barbara and while enjoying a tasting when I noticed a bright red bag that looked very familiar. I realized that it was one of the wine check bags I had been looking at the day before. I purchased two wine checks and was now prepared to fill the remainder of my wine cases.
The following morning, we were back on our way back to the Santa Ynez Valley with our wine checks in tow. We had planned on a full day of wine tasting in the Valley, an overnight at a local hotel and another full day of tasting the next day before returning to Santa Barbara. The wine check provided a convenient place to store the wine bottles so they weren’t floating all over the car and it made it easy to transport the cases to and from the hotel. We managed to fill both cases in no time and even had a few bottles extra to go in our suitcases.
As the end of the trip neared, I started to have some concerns. Would the whole thing really be less than 50 lbs? Would the bags stand up to the abuse of the airlines? Would my wine be safe from theft? Would the wine bottles make it without breaking?
As we arrived at the airport, I grabbed the wine check bags and we headed off to the check-in counter. As I placed the first bag on the scale, the weight registered as 43.5 lbs, well under the 50lbs limit. The bag was tagged and thrown onto the belt behind the counter. The next bag came in at 44.5 lbs, also well beneath the limit. Again the bag was thrown onto the belt behind the counter. I had answered my first question, but had also witnessed the beginning of the abuse the bags would face.
Following a completely “random” check with the TSA, we finally arrived at our gate. We set up by the window so I could track the progress of the bags as they were loaded onto the aircraft. This would be the last time I saw the bags until we reached New Jersey. We boarded the aircraft and were soon on our way to Phoenix and following a brief layover, were on our way back to New Jersey.
Arriving at Newark Airport, I immediately set out for the baggage claim and after a brief wait the first wine check slid onto the belt followed immediately by the second. A cursory inspection revealed no stains or damage to the outside of the bags, so it was off to the car and home for a better inspection. When we arrived at home I opened the wine checks and was greeted by TSA tape on the boxes and an insert that explained TSA inspection criteria. When I opened the box, I found all wine bottles accounted for and unbroken. The same was true for the second wine check bag and the four bottles we had placed in our luggage.
I was very happy with how the wine check performed on the trip. It provided a convenient place to put all the wine we had purchased while traveling from the hotels to wineries. It held up to abuse by the airlines and came away with no damage to the wine. Most of all, it provided an affordable option to shipping and something that I can use over and over again. The wine check really does live up to all its claims and should definitely be considered by anyone who wants to bring their wine home with them.
If you are interested in purchasing your own wine check bag, you can visit their website at http://thewinecheck.com/
You can also find wine check bags at any one of the several retail locations listed here http://thewinecheck.com/wheretofindthewinecheck.html
The wine check is also a great and affordable holiday gift idea for anyone who enjoys traveling to California and bringing back wine.
Unfortunately, a 3:30am wakeup call has become synonymous with my travel experiences. When travelling from the most consistently delayed airport in the United States, you tend to adjust your departure time to get out as early as possible to avoid the ever present delays. However, when returning from the West Coast you have no ability to avoid Newark Liberty International Airport’s delays, as you are already 3 hours behind the East Coast. Being that I had control over my “delay destiny” on the departure end of the trip; a 6:30 am flight would ensure no delay in our escape.
So, by 4:00 am we were off to Newark Airport for a week of wine tasting in California. The previous year, we had flown direct from Newark, NJ to Los Angeles and then drove to Santa Barbara. This time, we decided to avoid LAX and try to fly into the Santa Barbara airport. While normally a Continental Airlines aka “The new United Airlines,” traveler, on this trip we would be flying US Airways to Santa Barbara via Phoenix. There are currently no direct flights from Newark Airport to Santa Barbara, so a stop over in Phoenix was the next best option. Arriving at the airport early made check in and security easy and by 6:45 we were airborne and on our way to Phoenix. Following a short layover and a quick 1 hour flight, we were touching down in Santa Barbara. We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting with family, unpacking and then finished a busy travel day watching the sun set from the Beachside Bar Café on the Goleta Beach while enjoying margaritas.
The next morning, we left Santa Barbara around 9:15 to head up to the Santa Ynez Valley. We again travelled the North San Marcus Pass road, which has some of the most amazing views of the Santa Barbara Coast. You can see more about accessing the Santa Ynez Valley in my previous post “Early to Rise…Santa Barbara Part 1.” We had 3 separate visits to the valley spread out in our week long trip. Our plan of attack for the first day was to visit wineries we had never been to before and then mix old and new over the next few visits.
Our first stop of day was Rusack Vineyards, which is located in the Ballard Canyon. As discussed on the Rusack website, it is a small boutique winery that was founded in 1995 by Geoff Rusack and Alison Wrigley. In 2001, John and Helen Falcone joined Rusack and are one of the few husband and wife winemaking teams in California. The winery is also about to launch the first ever wines grown on Santa Catalina Island. You can read more about their Santa Catalina Island venture here: http://www.rusackvineyards.com/about/catalina.html
The tasting room and Vineyard is located on the Ballard Canyon Road almost halfway between Solvang and Los Olivos. The Tasting room also offers one of the most beautiful picnic areas you will find anywhere in the valley. It is a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch while out tasting. A tasting at Rusack is $10, you can split it if you choose and you are allowed to keep your glass.
Below is a partial list of wines we tasted while visiting Rusack:
Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, 2009
“The truly distinctive flavors from the cool Northern and Western
extremes of Santa Barbara County come together in this bottle.
Here, our love of blending has resulted in a marriage of exceptional
fruit aromas with carefully balanced acidity, capturing the
best qualities of the area. Honeydew melon, Asian pear, orange
blossom, as well as citrus notes are highlighted in this appealingly
crisp white wine.”
Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, 2009
“From one of Santa Barbara County’s great growing regions. The Rusack Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir captures some of this region’s classic characters of strawberry and cherry, with a hint of mesquite, which are followed by flavors of rhubarb and cranberry. The soft, silky tannins make for an approachable young wine that is also age worthy.”
We purchased this Pinot Noir, it was excellent.
Syrah, Ballard Canyon Estate, 2009
“The grapes for our Ballard Canyon Estate Syrah release are from the estate vineyards around the winery, located in the beautiful Ballard Canyon. Located in the larger Santa Ynez Valley appellation, Ballard Canyon has its own nuances and micro-climates that make it a near-perfect place for grape varietals such as Syrah. This very small bottling contains classic Ballard Canyon Syrah aromas of cassis and blackberry, with hints of licorice. Concentrated flavors of dried cherries, blackberries and cocoa mix with velvety tannins that linger on the palate.”
Of all the new wineries that we visited on our trip, this was one of our favorites. The scenery is amazing and it will definitely become a regular stop on our future visits. If you’d like to visit the Rusack Winery, it is located at 1819 Ballard Canyon Rd, Solvang, CA 93463; you can also visit their website at http://www.rusackvineyards.com/
Our next stop was Mosby Winery, which is located off the Santa Rosa Road in Buellton. Specializing in Italian Varietals, Mosby provides a unique break from the selections you will find at other wineries in the Valley. Aside from Italian wines, Mosby also specializes in Plum Brandy and Grappa. You will also find some of the most amazing wine labels on the Mosby bottles.
Wine maker Bill Mosby and his wife Jill purchased their de la Vega property in the early 1970’s. Shortly thereafter, they started a commercial wine making business bottling under the Vega label, which was named after their land. In 1986, the Vega label was changed to Mosby to better reflect the family name and philosophy of wine making.
A tasting at Mosby is $10; you can split it if you like and are allowed to keep your glass.
Below is a partial list of the wines we tasted while visiting Mosby:
“Light and refreshing, the Mosby Pinot Grigio delights with aromas of ripe pear, apple, and vanilla bean. The crisp, citrusy taste is followed by a dry, clean finish with an element of wet stone. Historically, Pinot Grigio originates from the Fruili-Venezia Guilia of Italy. Said to be a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape, the Pinot Grigio seems unsure whether it is a red or white wine grape. Hence, grigio, meaning gray.”
“The Mosby Sagrantino is the first domestically-produced Sagrantino available for sale. Sagrantino is an Italian grape varietal that grows around the hilltop town of Montefalco in Umbria. Bill imported the cuttings and tended them in his estate vineyard for four years before his first Californian Sagrantino harvest in 2006. The wine is true to its Italian heritage; dark garnet-red in the glass, this wine offers up exotic fragrances including rose petal and horehound. The flavor combines brooding elements of tobacco, “sotto di bosco” (fruit of the forest floor) abd sassafras bark intertwined with bold dark fruit and a chewy, mouth-filling texture. The firm tannins complement these rich flavors and create a pleasantly-defined finish. This release is still a youngster so we recommend opening the wine to breathe for about a half hour, then serving it with full-flavored foods. We enjoy our Sagrantino with cheeses such as Manchego, Cabrales or Parmesan; red meats including bison, lamb, game or pepper steak; poultry such as squab or duck and any dish flavored with truffles, mint or rosemary. This wine will cellar well for 5 to 7 years.”
“A dessert wine made from raspberries. Jammy, raspberry fruit with a bright finish. Dessert in a glass!”
We purchased this dessert wine; it was one of our favorite dessert wines of the trip.
If you’d like to visit the Mosby Winery, it is located at 9496 Santa Rosa Rd, Buellton, CA 93427; you can also visit their website at http://mosbywines.com/index.html
Following Mosby, we were off to Alma Rosa Winery which is also located on the Santa Rosa Rd. Founders Richard and Thekla Sanford, have founded multiple successful winegrowing enterprises over the last 40 years, most recently Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards. Alma Rosa operates two vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA and both have been organically certified. They have a beautifully rustic tasting room and many may recognize the Tasting room manager, Chris Burroughs from the movie Sideways. A tasting at Alma Rosa is $10, and you can split it if you like.
Below is a partial list of the wines we tasted while visiting Alma Rosa:
2008 Pinot Noir- Sta. Rita Hills
“Text book old-world varietal character, showing the brilliant, fresh, flashy side of Pinot Noir. Bright raspberry and bing cherry notes are enhanced by a sassy, spicy element and refreshing acidity.”
2007 Pinot Noir- Sta. Rita Hills
“Positively brimming with fruity aromatics and flavors (made with grapes from our certified organic estate vineyards) dominated by a mix of fresh crushed berries and dark cherries, shot through with a floral-spice element and a beet-root-meets-cola essence. The wine showcases the dark rich side of Pinot Noir and already has a supple smooth texture with clean acidity.”
2009 Chardonnay- El Jabali Vineyard- Sta. Rita Hills
“As vibrant and luminous as watching the sun rise over the Sea of Cortez, sitting on a pristine beach among seashells and sand-dollars, tropical clouds above radiating their skyblue pinkness, the air still cool from the night and the water surface mirror-smooth. Apple-y, citrus-y, minerally pure classic Chardonnay, a little bit bread-y, like a fresh bolillo from the panaderia… this is another offering out of the heritage vines here at Rancho El Jabalí.”
If you’d like to visit the Alma Rosa Winery, it is located at 7250 Santa Rosa Road, Buellton CA 93427; you can also visit their website at http://www.almarosawinery.com/index.html
Our final stop of the day was Kalyra Winery located in Santa Ynez. The land that Kalyra is currently located on has a long history in the Santa Ynez valley. Originally planted in 1968, as part of the Vina de Santa Ynez, it is considered one of the inaugural vineyards in the region. The current owner Mike Brown grew up in Australia and relocated the valley in the late 1980’s. Kalyra offers two tasting rooms, the Kalyra Winery in Santa Ynzez and Kalyra by the Sea in downtown Santa Barbara.
As is true with many of the wineries in the Santa Ynez, fans of Sidways will recognize the tasting room. This is the winery that Sandra Oh aka “Stephanie” worked at. The view from the Kaylra Winery tasting room in Santa Ynez is amazing and they offer a large covered porch to enjoy lunch or a glass on wine. A tasting at Alma Rosa is $10, and you can split it if you like.
Below is a partial list of the wines we tasted while visiting Kalyra:
“This California Gewurztraminer from Santa Ynez Valley’s Kalyra is a great choice for anyone looking for a dry white wine. Kalyra is one of the best Santa Ynez wineries with a popularity and reputation that goes back to the younger years of the grand Santa Ynez Valley wine region. Winemaker Mike Brown has over twenty years of experience in winemaking, spanning two continents. He is well versed in the wines of Australia and California and this white wine made from the Gewurztraminer grape is not outside his comfort zone. This wine is possibly the most fragrant white wine you may ever find. With its distinctively floral nose and spicy finish, this refreshing off-dry favorite from just across the street is like a cool breeze on a hot summer’s day. Buy a bottle and you might just be naming it the ‘best white wine’ you have ever tasted.”
We purchased two bottles of the Gewurztraminer; it had a very nice taste and was very reasonably priced.
2010 Sauvignon Blanc
“The fruit for this California Sauvignon Blanc was sourced from Vina De Santa Inez – in Santa Ynez Valley, one of the great appellations of California, let alone all of the world. This California white wine is created in the New World style of stainless steel fermentation with no oak barrel aging, made in a style that truly reflects the bright nature of the varietal. This light wine is crisp and has a classic floral flavor with gooseberry and grapefruit overtones. Another good white wine from Kalyra Winery, the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc pairs nicely with many summer dishes like seafood and salads.”
2008 MC² Blend
“Showing off rich, dark berry flavors and a smoky, chocolaty finish, the wine is superbly structured. This California red wine is a delicious food and wine pairing, especially with rugged Italian dishes and rich meats. MC² is just one more reason why Kalyra is one of the good red wine brands from California – with some of the best red wines.”
If you’d like to visit the Kalyra Winery, it is located at 343 N.Refugio Rd., Santa Ynez CA 93460; you can also visit their website at http://www.kalyrawinery.com/index.php
Following Kalyra it was back to Santa Barbara after a quick stop at Cold Springs Tavern for tri-tip sandwiches. Check back next month as we continue our week long visit to Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley.
Until next time Salude!!
With the 2011 Napa Valley harvest season winding down, one has to really wonder how this vintage will turn out. Napa Valley experienced a cold and wet spring with late flowering and flowers dropping off of the grape clusters which is known as grape shatter. The cool wet conditions had many vineyards on the lookout for botrytis rot and mildew. Cooler summer temperatures have many vineyards delaying harvest by weeks. And no doubt grape crop yields will be down also. In fact weather throughout North America for 2011 was rather extreme with unseasonably cool temperatures in Oregon, heavy early frost in central California, heat waves and drought in Texas, unusual amounts of rain, Hurricane Irene and the recent Noreaster that hit much of New Jersey, New York and New England on the east coast. That makes me wonder how the 2011 vintages hroughout the entire US will turnout. On a positive note many grape growers employ proactive and innovative techniques to combat extreme weather conditions. While yields may be lower they could also be higher in quality and late season warm temperatures have helped many vineyards extending hang time. Only time will tell how we will judge the 2011 wines, and as I do with every new vintage I will patiently wait to taste them and search out those special gems that always tend to come out of a tough year.