Yangarra Old Vine Grenache 2012, McLaren Vale, Australia ($35)
Loveblock Pinot Noir 2018, Central Otago, New Zealand ($30)

T he latest version of our neighbors driveway dinner party was a birthday party for next door neighbor Pierce, who turned 8.
The adults had a great time, and we had a few new faces show up to celebrate Pierce’s milestone. It looked like the kids were having fun, too, but they were moving so fast it was hard to tell. It looked like Pierce got some neat presents, but during the driveway dinner he was getting the most fun out of a can of silly string.
Pierce’s parents, Day and Ben, bought pizza, so I brought out a couple of bottles of wine from Australia and New Zealand. Both were very nice and mellow, and went well with the pizza.
We had the usual four couples and their children, plus a few other families who came for the birthday party. We were all doing our best to maintain safe distances.

The wines were 2012 Yangarra Old Vine Grenache ($35) from McLaren Vale in Australia and 2018 Loveblock Pinot Noir from Central Otago, New Zealand ($30).
The Grenache from Yangarra had spent a few years in the cellar, and I was anxious to see how it had aged. It really turned out well. This didn’t surprise me since Yangarra makes some of the best grenache in the world. The current vintage is 2018 and should be even better.
The wine had rich and complex flavors. I tasted cherry, plum and raspberry with hints of licorice and spice.
The grenache vines were planted in 1946 in sandy soil and get no irrigation. After the grapes are picked they are fermented in open tanks using wild yeast. They then spend 10 months in all older French oak.
Yangarra is a biodynamic winery in the northeast part of the McLaran Vale region of South Australia. They specialize in producing southern Rhone varietals that reflect their estate vineyard.
The Loveblock pinot noir was a bright crimson in the glass with some purple tints. Cherry aromas led to cherry, berry and plum flavors. It was a delightful wine, especially good with the pizza.
After harvest the grapes went through a sorting table and into a tank without crushing. After five days of a cold soak the grapes were warmed and fermentation began. It was hand plunged twice a day and then pressed off when it approached dryness. The wine then went through a full malolactic fermentation to make it smoother and more mellow.
It was then aged for eight months, about 50 percent in older oak.
The grapes come from a vineyard above the snow capped mountains of Central Otago. The vineyard, named “Someone’s Darling,” is in a perfect spot to create outstanding pinot noir.
The wines were terrific, but, really, the best part of the evening was getting a chance to talk to each other in a safe setting. Even as our economy starts to re-open, it is unlikely that Teri and I will be joining any large groups anytime soon. So these driveway parties are our best way to socialize.
The situation isn’t ideal, but we feel fortunate. We like hanging out together and have found lots of fun things to do while staying home. And it sure beats getting sick from the corona virus.

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