I don't know where in my life I heard empty beer and wine bottles referred to as dead soldiers but that's what we call them. And many a brave "soldier" gave its life for us at Paso, 24 on Friday night and plenty more than that on Saturday night (we lost count because we kept discovering them around the house, all day Sunday). But at this point, I'd like to note, the "soldiers" that came home with us.
We started our tastings at Castoro Cellars on Saturday and I don't know if it was working out at the gym, or not eating enough breakfast, but halfway through that first round of tasting, I needed a break and my notes lost, remember very little. Yet, a package showed up yesterday, containing six bottles of Castoro wines, three Due Mila Sei 2004 and three Venti Quattro Anni. I'll trust to Chris's taste whether these were good or not because, unfortunately, I do not remember and can't find my notes.
Now something to note, here before I go further, Castoro packed those wines for us (very nice, they gave us a 12-pack shipper for the six bottles so if we bought more at other wineries, we could just add them to our box), but they wouldn't ship to us. New Jersey has laws against the shipping of wines to your home from out of state wineries but I thought a federal law allowed us to ship wines to our home if we were actually in a winery's tasting room. This article from the San Francisco Chronicle seems to support that, Shipping Wine, Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Yet, none of the wineries we visited were aware of this fact. What many wineries do to get around the anti-shipping legislation is to ship to a distributor within the state who then turns around and ships it to our home but Castoro didn't have a distributor. So we left there with aforementioned box, half-filled, and headed to our next destination, Tablas Creek.
At Tablas Creek we were treated to another private tasting, this time in a cool room with the large barrels and a really nice presentation on the history of Tablas. Chris and I have been gravitating to the Rhone varietals lately, so we were looking forward to this. We ended up with two bottles of each the Esprit de Beaucastel and Mourvèdre but the wine that still stays in my memory is there Roussanne which to me felt more like a red in depth and feel; I like to describe it as the white wine for red wine drinkers. Yet, we didn't buy any because I have a silly mental block about spending more than $20 for a white wine. Don't ask me why but I wish I did (and thanks to whoever brought it to the Paso House because I did enjoy a glass during the Super Bowl).
Now Tablas does sell to stores in New Jersey, so we will look for their wines here, but they will not use the work-around of shipping to a store or distributor in order to ship to us. So we took our wine with us (to add to the Castoro cellar box). But I should note, that while they would not ship to us, nor would they allow us to join their wine club (because they could not ship to us), they felt bad and did sell us their wine at the wine club discounted prices - so props to them for that.
On Sunday afternoon we headed over to Justin for one more tasting. They did a nice presentation there, putting out plates of cheese, sausage, crackers and bread to go along with our wine. They treated us well, allowing us to taste about six different wines and then, brought out some specials, their Isosceles, their dessert wine, Deborah's Delight and their port, Obtuse, all were delicious. We ended up shipping home (and yes they would ship to us through their distributor; it cost more but considering no tax, it wasn't really that bad), two of each, the Isosceles, the Reserve Cabernet (good enough and not outrageously expensive, to get me drinking Cabernet again - well at least on special occasions), and the Syrah. We also bought two bottles of their easy drinking Sauvignon Blanc that filled out the box we got from Castoro, one we'll keep, one will go to Chris's dad. Justin also let us join their Wine Society since they will ship to Jersey, so each May and November we'll receive a half-case of wine from them, looking forward to that.
Shipping home provided a slight challenge, as we showed up with our pre-packed box of "olive oil" at UPS store and though the attendant there said, "I believe you're shipping olive oil," she warned us that if we insured the box and something broke, and it wasn't "olive oil," it wouldn't be covered. No worries that shipment and the one from Justin, both arrived yesterday and although cold (it was 15 degrees outside) seemed fine. The proof will be in the tasting, so we'll know better this weekend after one of those soldiers gives it up for us.