One of my favorite moments in O Brother, Where Art Thou? is when Tim Blake Nelson says to John Turturro, "We thought you was a toad!" Ah, my dear little toads...
Small grey toads with brown freckles (Bufo americanus) are pretty common around here, and pop up in flower beds and backyards often. Dogs I have known and loved over the years have occasionally picked up toads and spat them out, and I appreciate the fact that my amphibian friends eat annoying insects. Thus I was delighted to try a quartet of samples from Toad Hollow Vineyards, though it was not my first exposure to the winery and its amusingly named wines. Take the sparkling Amplexus, named after a very specific move that mommy and daddy toads do when they love each other very much. (I served it at my 33rd birthday and loved explaining the name.)
2011 Toad Hollow Unoaked Chardonnay
Mendocino County, California
$14, 13.9% abv.
First tried this back when I made salade niçoise in a hotel room. Hints of apricot and peach are present on the nose, with a nice bit of acidity followed by a pleasant, round finish. A very fun and tasty example of an unoaked California Chardonnay.
2012 Toad Hollow "Eye of the Toad" Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir
Sonoma County, California
100% Pinot Noir
$12, 11.5% abv.
Bright wild strawberries with a tart lemon finish yet low acidity. Nice and round body with dry and fruity flavors. Serve this one with tapas or an evening gathering when you're just laying out a lot of appetizers. It will perform admirably with cheeses, cured meats, olives, and more.
2011 Toad Hollow Erik's The Red
Proprietary blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Malbec, and Dolcetto
$13, 14.4% abv.
I haven't tried this wine since year one of this humble blog... Still a crazy blend of red grapes, but also a good blast of ripe red fruit. Aromas of cherry and red plum, low tannins, and particularly enjoyable when served a little on the cold side. A great bargain, and highly recommended for the mid-week pizza or burger wine.
2011 Toad Hollow Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley, California
100% Pinot Noir
$20, 14.5% abv.
Light strawberry and raspberry aromas, with a dash of ash on the nose. The body is mild and round with a quick, clean finish. Delightful berry aftertaste. Not quite light enough for salmon, but one that would be perfect with all sorts of pork dishes.
Note: These wines were provided as samples.