Enjoying Life One Glass at a Time

December 2016 Wine Club

Gala December!


The superlatives are getting old, but what can I say? The job you guys do to make this club special is amazing!

Another December and another special club feature. Our annual Champagne event has morphed into a mixed event with about half of you enjoying the traditional all-sparkling-wine and the others getting a mixed bag of Champagne, red wine and a desert wine. Both groups “shared the experience” of the first two Champagnes, then took separate paths from there. Below (in teeny tiny print) are the wines for both groups. I take zero responsibility for the fussy language—it came from various websites. I’d love to see and meet the folks that write these things just to see if they speak like that in real life (“blonde notes”? Really?)

The Wine Club at Merrill Ranch Presents...
Gala December!

Both the Champagne-Only group and the Mixed-Wine group share the following two wine selections.

1. Saint-Hilaire White Sparkling Wine 2014 $12

More than a century before champagne, the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire in the southern foothills of Limoux had created France's very first Sparkling Wine. Today, over four and a half centuries later, SAINT-HILAIRE Blanquette de Limoux is made in the very same foothills of Southern France. Saint-Hilaire Brut displays aromatic flavors of peach, pear and green apple skins with a wonderful, full, creamy mouthfeel. Think non-vintage Champagne for a fraction of the cost.


2. Mumm Cordon Rouge NV (Non Vintage) $39

This champagne is a brightly sparkling, light golden yellow liquid with an abundance of fine and elegant bubbles. The nose reveals initial aromas of ripe fresh fruit (white and yellow peaches, apricots), tropical notes (lychee and pineapple). It then opens up with the fragrance of vanilla before developing notes of milky caramel, breadcrumbs and yeast, culminating in aromas of dried fruit and honey. An explosion of freshness in the mouth, followed by strong persistence. The complex aromas of fresh fruit and caramel perpetuate the intensity.


The following 3 wines will be poured for the Champagne-Only Group.

3. Moët & Chandon NV $37

Created from more than 100 different wines, of which 20% to 30% are reserve wines specially selected to enhance its maturity, complexity and constancy, the assemblage reflects the diversity and complementarity of the three grape varietals: Pinot Noir, 30 to 40%; Pinot Meunier, 30 to 40%; Chardonnay, 20 to 30%. Golden straw yellow with green highlights, vibrant intensity of green apple and citrus fruit, mineral nuances and white flowers blond  notes (brioche, cereal, fresh nuts), white-fleshed fruits (pear, peach, apple), citrus fruit and nuances of gooseberry with the alluring caress of fine bubbles.

4. Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut Champagne NV $39

A perfect introduction to the floral, stylish and diamond-cut style of the House of Perrier-Jouët. A pale and sparkling yellow robe, elegant and balanced. The striking freshness and vivacity of the floral and fruity fragrances (yellow fruits and fresh fruits) take root, before giving way to subtle notes of vanilla and butter, lending the wine a fruity and consistent character. The notes of cherry plum, lemon and bergamot orange emerge first, then make way for the flowers of fruit trees, such as lime and honeysuckle. These are followed by notes of butter, madeleine cakes and vanilla sugar. Lingering notes of grapefruit, white peaches, green pears, apple trees and green hazelnuts round off the taste.

5. Champagne Barons De Rothschild Brut NV $63

The Barons de Rothschild Brut is aerial Champagne that is rich and complex. The blend uses three to four-year old Chardonnays and Pinots Noirs from the best land in Champagne. This subtle blend produces a wine with fabulously fine bubbles, elegant golden colour and fine, delicate nuances of white fruit. Low dosage and at least six months’ time after disgorging gives this Champagne beautifully balanced structure on the palate that is highly appreciated when served as the aperitif or throughout the meal



The Wine Club at Merrill Ranch Presents...
Gala December!

Both the Champagne-Only group and the Mixed-Wine group share the following two wine selections.

1. Saint-Hilaire White Sparkling Wine 2014 $12

More than a century before champagne, the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire in the southern foothills of Limoux had created France's very first Sparkling Wine. Today, over four and a half centuries later, SAINT-HILAIRE Blanquette de Limoux is made in the very same foothills of Southern France. Saint-Hilaire Brut displays aromatic flavors of peach, pear and green apple skins with a wonderful, full, creamy mouthfeel. Think non-vintage Champagne for a fraction of the cost.


2. Mumm Cordon Rouge NV (Non Vintage) $39

This champagne is a brightly sparkling, light golden yellow liquid with an abundance of fine and elegant bubbles. The nose reveals initial aromas of ripe fresh fruit (white and yellow peaches, apricots), tropical notes (lychee and pineapple). It then opens up with the fragrance of vanilla before developing notes of milky caramel, breadcrumbs and yeast, culminating in aromas of dried fruit and honey. An explosion of freshness in the mouth, followed by strong persistence. The complex aromas of fresh fruit and caramel perpetuate the intensity.


The following 3 wines will be poured for the Mixed Wine Group.


3. Chimney Rock Cabernet Stags Leap 2012 $59

Barely a mile wide and three miles long, the Stags Leap District comprises some of the most coveted vineyard land in the world for Cabernet Sauvignon. We have developed and managed the Chimney Rock Winery estate vineyards into a sustainable standard bearer for Cabernet Sauvignon. Chewy tannins surround an elegant, structured wine, classic in red cassis, licorice, blackberry, black cherry and woody herbs with hints of smoke. Powerful, it retains balance from start to finish, exuding the warmth of the vintage with the relative coolness of the appellation, marrying the two sides expertly together.

4. Thorn-Clarke Winery, Ron Thorn Shiraz 2010 $70

Deep red with a slight purple hue on release. The wine has a rich mix of dark chocolate infused with coffee bean and black liquorice, then scents of tar, aniseed, raw (pure) soy and black olive on the nose. The palate is expansive, and yet balanced and finessed. An amalgam of dark berried flavors and textural sensations. the 100% new oak is completely absorbed, meshed with ripe tannins, completing a palate of impressive length and youthfulness.
(95 points—Wine Spectator)

5. Lions de Suduiraut 2013 $11

An ideal introduction to Sauternes, this wine has been specifically designed to reveal the pleasures of taste provided by Sauternes wines.
With a blending style that is absolutely unique, this wine is more velvety, fresh and mineral than other wines in the range. With Lions we try to select light, bright and fruity lots with fresh citrusy elements for the blend with the aim of making a younger more approachable Sauternes.



The wines produced some really good comments, with the Barons de Rothschild on the Champagne side and the Chimney Rock Cabernet on the mixed side getting the most favorables. I didn’t talk to anyone that didn’t find something they really liked.

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And once again we had a spread of the most excellent appetizers! I have said this before and it looks like I’ll have to keep saying it, you guys produce some of the best food in Arizona! We are really lucky to be among folks that take a lot of pride in cooking these delights! There was a good bit of thought that went into the selection of the appetizers, as many were obviously chosen to go with the Champagne.

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On a personal note, Wayne, Kathy, Diane, Pat (our departing photographer) and I were surprised and humbled at your generosity in honoring us with the gift cards to Total Wine. It was a complete surprise. We have said that when our “jobs” stop being fun, it will be time to move on. You guys make it worthwhile. Again, thank you.
And while we are passing out thank-yous, a big one goes out to Bob Rea once again for doing a great job with the photography!


The Folks


And now on to what we are really all about—the people that make the club all worthwhile. Without further talk, here are lots of pics of some of our best moments…


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So, until next time…





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CHEERS!