It Doesn't Get Any Better

Trip Start Jun 22, 2010
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fog is prevalent in the summer in Monterey; however, I have been so amazed that our weather has been warmer in late January than it was in June, July or even August. The temperatures were hovering around 70° as my husband, Mike, our friends, Rachel and Mike, and our two dogs drove the hour to Léal Vineyards.  Ever since we moved to Monterey, Mike and I have been talking about venturing out to this winery. The store I worked for in Coronado sold several of their wines and their 2006 Threesome was one of Mike and my favorites.  The day before Mike had ridden his motorcycle out to Léal and liked it so much that he volunteered to drive the rest of us out there the next day. 

A few miles outside San Juan Batista we found a beautiful venue nestled between smalls hills of vines.  I know a lot of people prefer not to visit vineyards in January as the vines are sans grapes and being pruned. I personally find it an awesome time to visit as the crowds are usually less. And even with the bare vines, Léal was beautiful. We walked through an enclosed brick patio directly into the tasting room.  Huge doors essentially make up the entrance wall. On this gorgeous day, the doors stood open almost creating the illusion that we were outside.  Angela, the tasting room manager, warmly welcomed us before doing a double take at seeing my husband back again.  "He was really impressed," I explained with a smile. I handed her my industry card and she excitedly grabbed us glasses while chatting with me about the winery at which I work.

The tasting consisted of all 2007 vintages, and we started with their Chardonnay, simultaneously crisp and creamy. It was very nice, but all four of us were excited that the rest of the wines were red. The Pinot and the newer Threesome were both tasty. My level of impression only grew as we tasted the Franc Five and the Carnavál Meritage. The 2006 Carnavál was another wine I had previously enjoyed; however the 2007 was amazing. Berry notes give way to chocolate and coffee all balanced with a round mouthfeel. This was my kind of wine, and I figured my favorite of the day. Then the 2007 Cabernet was poured. Rachel immediately began to sing its praises. Mike and I had ventured to Napa the weekend before and drank some good Cabs. However, we both agreed that this $32 bottle was better than any Napa Cabernet under $50. Mike even commented that he was not sure we had one better, though I think Rubicon may have it beat. Regardless it was delicious. We purchased several bottles of various wines (at a substantial Industry discount), and Angela opened a bottle of the Cab for us.

Mike had enthusiastically explained that the beautiful grounds which included lots of tables, two bocce ball courts and grand outdoor fireplaces.  Mike and Mike checked out a set of bocce balls from Angela, while Rachel and I set up a picnic of cheese, salami, crackers, fruit, and olives. The dogs' mouths watered at our snacks, while our mouths watered as Mike poured us generous glasses of the wine. We dug into the food all the while discussing this fabulous winery. When the two Mikes began their bocce ball game, Rachel and I basked in the afternoon sun, relaxing and laughing.  I love days when my biggest worry is that our puppy, Ries, chewed through his leash wrapped around my chair. And even that was pretty funny.
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