River Road Stephanie’s Cuvée Pinot Noir 2017, Russian River Valley
W e had another driveway pizza party this week with four families. It was a great way to actually see and talk to other people while keeping our distance.
The format is simple: We sit in our driveway to eat, our next door neighbors sit in their driveway and eat. Two families across the street stay on their side and eat. We are far enough away from each other to be safe, but close enough to talk to each other.
This time the sun got to the folks on the other side of the street and they moved into our shady driveways, while still keeping a safe distance apart.

And this time none of us had pizza. Teri and I had ham, cheese and grapes for hors d’oeuvres; Ben, Day and their children had Chick Fil-A, as did Walt and Mary Kate and their children; Phillip and Laurie and their family had food from the Village Deli.
Teri and I shared a nice pinot noir, Stephanie’s Cuvée 2017 ($30) from the Russian River Valley made by River Road. It was perfect for the afternoon party.

The wine is smooth, rounded and elegant. Everything is in balance. It is a beautiful transparent red in the glass with blueberry and raspberry aromas. On the palate I picked up notes of raspberry and cherry with hints of vanilla.
The grapes come from the Green Valley of the Russian River Valley in Sonoma. They went into a cold soak for five days and fermented in open top stainless steel containers. Then the wine was aged in 20 percent new French oak barrels. The bottle has a Stelvin twist-off top, which made it perfect for outdoor dining,
This balanced and food-friendly wine will pair well with many foods, including braised lamb shanks, grilled shrimp, salmon and many beef and pork dishes.
River Road Wines is part of Ron Rubin Wines, which also owns The Republic of Tea bottled teas. They produce a wide variety of wines.
During our neighborhood gathering Lillian and Pierce were practicing on their new skateboards, brought to them by the Easter Bunny. They surprised me with how good they both were getting by the end of the evening.
We lingered and talked until the sun started dropping behind the trees and we all reluctantly packed up and headed inside. The evening reminded me of how much people need to be around other people. We are social animals, and all this social distancing reminds us how nice it is to be around friends and family.
Next Monday we’re extending the fun a little. I’m going to pull my large trailer grill out to the end of the driveway where we can all cook on it. We can take turns putting our meat on the grill and tending to it without violating the six-foot rule.
I’m going to make ribs and a pork shoulder, so I’ll probably start cooking around noon to hit our 5:30 dinner hour. I’ll keep the temperature low, around 250 degree and let everything cook low and slow. I’m getting hungry thinking about it.

If you have questions about wine you can email Dennis at dennis@abottlereport.com

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