2009 Climber Red

I saved my 2009 Clif Climber Red and Climber Sauvignon Blanc for Thanksgiving to go with my quasi-sustainable meal. I won’t repeat all my reasons for why the Climbers were a great fit for the meal, all the reasons like how the winery sources its grapes from local, organic growers, and how the winery is activly reducing its carbon footprint. You can read all about that on the Clif website, but now let’s get to the to fun part — tasting the wine!

I know that white wines go best with turkey, but I’m such a sucker for reds. So I gave hearty thanks for the folks at Clif Winery, and I twisted open the Climber Red. The aroma is fruity and slightly peppery. The blend is primarily zinfandel, then cabernet, rounded out with syrah, merlot and petite sirah. The flavor is a nice, round berry — not jammy or sweet, but perfectly tart, fresh and mild — with a smoky finish. The smoke isn’t quite as prominent as in the 2008 blend; rather than making a strong statement, it is now a barely-there nuance in a very complex wine.

Clif hasn’t let me down yet, so I will surely continue to seek their every release with excitement. At $14.99, it’s a wine I’ll proudly serve to guests — guests who know their wine and guests who just want something that tastes good. It’s a sure-bet wine, and this busy mom can’t afford to waste time on anything less.

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Clif Climber Red … we meet at last!

Have you ever had one of those awkward near-meetings that never seems to actually happen? A friend tells you about the most wonderful man you just have to meet — you have so much in common! — and you chat or e-mail about getting together for coffee. The big day comes and you look forward to meeting the mystery man who is apparently your perfect match. You even shave your legs.

Then he calls, desperately apologizing that he has to fly off to Chicago for a meeting, and please don’t hate him, but he has to reschedule. You’re disappointed but understanding that these things happen. The date is reset for next week, and that morning you wake up with a fever, hacking cough and bloodshot eyes. Noooo!!! You can’t possibly dazzle him with your wit and beauty from your deathbed! Reschedule again. He’s understanding too, but now it’s starting to get awkward.

You plan to meet this weekend. You both know you can’t cancel, and you’re hyper-sensitive to anything that could get in your way. Is that a tickle in your throat? Don’t order anything for lunch that might upset your stomach later! If your mom calls begging you to dog-sit again, you will absolutely go through the roof! Miraculously though, no obstacles leap into your path, and the big date approaches.

The moment of truth is here. He will walk through the door, and you’ll find out if all this build-up was worth it. Was your friend right? Are you perfect together, or will you end up wishing you’d spent the evening with your mom’s dog after all?

That’s been my relationship with Clif lately. The winery owners sent me copious information on their wines and farm, and I have decided that this is, indeed, the perfect match for me. They sent me two bottles of wine — the Climber white and red — and the white was a wonderful introduction to the family, like meeting the younger brother of your long-awaited date. But I still haven’t met my match. After several broken dates, it seems that every force of nature (and believe me, sick kids ARE a force to be feared!) is working against us.

But tonight’s our night, dear Clif. The laundry is folded and put away. The dishes are washed. The kids are in bed and the husband isn’t watching. Shhhh, it’s just you and me tonight. The awkward moment has arrived when we find out if our expectations were too great. Will this bold red rock my world, or will it fall flat? The time has come to find out.

Mr. Good Lookin’ makes a nice first impression. That red label, simple yet distinctive logo, you dressed up for me didn’t you? Let’s pop that cork and see what you’re all about.

Clif smells like a mix of coffee and cigars. Hmmm, a professor, perhaps? Berries make a strong appearance in the supporting role and keep it fresh and lively. I do believe this is wine is more complex than meets the eye… or nose.

The first taste is true to the smell — coffee, cigars and dark berries. But what’s that? Licorice? And did you bring me chocolate too? This first-meeting is off to a great start! We watch a little TV together, get to know each other, and it turns out Clif is just my cup of tea, so to speak. It was worth the wait.

Clif may be a little out of my league — professors usually are — but that doesn’t have stop us. At $17 a bottle, it’s more than my budget for an everyday wine, but this was a special occasion. This was no $10 date. I brought out the nice wine glasses, I dimmed the lights. I even shaved my legs.