On a mid-March evening, we gathered at Randy’s place in Hemet, about 10 of us, to taste wine and share food and conversation. I never dreamed I’d have a hummingbird land on my head! I’ll get to that in a bit. Randy had pizza waiting for us, others brought chicken and various munchies. It was time to dive in.

We started off with Dry Creek Vineyards 2019 Sauvignon Blanc.  With splashes of Sauvignon Musque and Sauvignon Gris, 80% fermented in stainless steel with the remainder in oak, acacia, and chestnut barrels, it’s a lovely wine. Lisa found it crisp and liked the apple on the nose. Michael enjoyed the “tang” as well as the mild lingering finish. David picked up a hint of stone fruit on the nose and called it a good example for “someone who hasn’t tried this grape.” It scored better than four out of a possible five stars and it sells for $20.

Our second wine was Fetzer’s 2019 Sundial Chardonnay. When I was a very young boy, my grandparents had a ranch in Hopland, CA called the Sundial Ranch. You guessed it. Later the property was sold to the Fetzer label and they have been producing Sundial Chardonnay for decades. 100% stainless steel fermented, Randy thought the nose was excellent and called it a great Chardonnay without the theater butter flavor. I loved the big nose with notes of butterscotch, pear, and apple. David enjoyed its smooth finish. It’s a great value at $9 and it scored just under four stars.

As we had a very small group, I presented only five wines. The first of three reds was Beronia’s 2017 Crianza from Rioja. Rand said he typically finds Riojas to be harsh, but he enjoyed this wine and called it smooth.  Ken said it was delightful and it could go with anything. I enjoyed its subtle nose and fruit-forward taste. David said it was “easy on the palate” with dark cherries. With the wine, I received a Kooty Key. I scratched my head wondering what it was until it arrived. It has a pointer with which you can operate a touchscreen or press buttons, and a hook to pull doors open without touching them.  Life in the age of COVID-19. They also offer these bottles in both 750 and 375ml, know many are playing it safe and may drink a bottle alone. The 750ml  sells for $15, and the 375 goes for $8. Our group rated it just over three stars.

Our first big red of the night was Dry Creek Vineyards’ 2017 The Mariner.  This Bordeaux blend is Cabernet Sauvignon dominant with Merlot, Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot blended in. It spends 18 months in French and Hungarian oak. Lisa was a fan of the nose and its notes of cherry and plum. Randy called this wine ‘representative.’ David called it smooth all the way and easy drinking. Michael said it was simply amazing. It scored a strong four and a half stars and it sells for $50.

Last but not least was the 2018 Mourvedre from Brecon Estate in Paso Robles. This single-vineyard wine has just a splash of Syrah added. Michael loved everything about this wine from the nose to the finish and awarded it five + stars. David said it had a big spicy nose and that it ‘activates the mind and palate.’ Randy called it very complex with an excellent finish. With three perfect five-star scores, it received four and three-quarter stars. It sells for $64.

Hummingbird After the tasting, we stepped outside to smoke cigars. A curious hummingbird decided to check out what we were up to and perched on four of our heads, myself included. It was a lovely way to end a magical evening.