8195 Crane Ridge Road, Livermore, CA 94550 (map link)
I had a sense even before we began rolling down the driveway to Charles R that we were going to like the place. Why?
Awww, yeah. Not only is it a wrought-iron arch with the name of the winery, but the R is a knockout, showing blue sky. Clearly, I thought, someone involved with this winery has excellent taste.
We walked in the door, and I got more confirmation that I was going to like the place.
Yup, that’s my purse, on a purse hook, right next to Mike’s adorable butt. If you’ve read a couple of posts on this blog, you know that purse hooks are a thing for me. I always take note as to whether they’re there, and it’s always a big selling point when they are. We later learned that Charles R. and his son had built the structure themselves, so kudos to them for including this critical detail.
Item number three in their favor: the staff. The young lady who was our tasting room associate (and, darn it, I did not write down her name!) was lovely. Plus, there was a handsome older gentleman at the end of the bar who had tons of interesting things to say. Later I learned that the gentleman was Dick, otherwise known as the Charles R that the winery is named after!
The bachelorette party we’d run into earlier was having a lovely meal out on the terrace, with another tasting room associate lending her assistance. Another group was enjoying a picnic meal on the front porch. After our experience earlier that day, we would have expected to be neglected. Instead, the staff at Charles R made us feel warmly welcomed, and like they cared what we thought about their wines.
As seems to be common among Livermore Valley wineries, all of these wines were in the Livermore Valley AVA.
2009 Chardonnay: This was very tart, with a little bit of oak on the nose. Mike noted creme brulee in the aroma and flavor. He found the acidity to be just right, and liked the rich finish.
2009 Pinot Noir: The scent was spicy, sultry and reminded me a little of an after-shave my dad used to wear (in a good way). This tasted like a high-alcohol wine; I also tasted strong wood overtones. Mike detected a hint of toasted marshmallow and found that the tannins imparted a velvety feel.
2007 Syrah: This Syrah was savory and tannic, the sort of thing that would be perfect with a steak or even some ribs. There was a hint of bell pepper here.
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon: The scent was fruity, with a hint of raisin. Mike also found some cherry and pepper in here and felt the flavor had some warmth. The flavor was surprisingly sour, with a sharper edge than I’m used to in a cabernet sauvignon.
2007 Zinfandel: This had a soft raisin scent and tasted of frosted raisins with a tannic edge to balance it out. Mike described it as warm toasted sugar and felt it had a slightly austere quality which he liked. These red wines were all the sort of thing that would go well with red meat, and made me wish there were a vegetarian version of red meat.
2008 Petite Sirah: This wine had a meaty quality with plenty of fruit – blackberry mostly – plus toast. The fruit took center stage, but tannins gave it the right amount of structure and kept it from being jammy.
2006 Vino di Amor: Lives up to its name – I love it! It was sweet, like milk chocolate with a hint of cinnamon. This would make the perfect end to the night. Mike noticed the tanginess of tamarind followed by marshmallow in the aroma. He described the flavor as “sweet fruit, then toasty tannins.” Mike was also a big fan of the homemade brownies they served as an accompaniment to the vino and felt their chocolate flavor worked better than the dark chocolate many places serve with their red dessert wines.
In summary, item number four in their favor was the wines!