Thursday, November 26, 2009

I am thankful for....

My Vinedresser,

having AMAZING parents,

an inspirational brother,

my Chi-town girls,

the 2006 J. Lohr Arroyo Seco Chardonnay that went perfectly with the fried turkey, dressing, AND the mac & cheese,

the elastic waistband I had the foresight to wear to dinner ;-),

being able to share my love of wine with everyone that reads this blog.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Anthony Hamilton Loves Pinot Noir!

Anthony Hamilton said he would take a bath in Pinot...a very interesting article ;-)

R&B Singer Anthony Hamilton

A Grammy-winning musician with a taste for Pinot Noir and more

Monday, November 23, 2009

Drink Outside the Box - Tasting Club Edition, Pt 2

At the first meeting of the GrapeVine Tasting Club, one guest mentioned that she didn't know there was a zinfandel grape and that it was red. This got me to thinking about how many different wines we really try. With more than 1000 different wine grape varieties, most of us only drink or even know about 12-20 of them. We are really missing out! So I came up with the idea to have a meeting where we taste grapes that are a little outside the box.

We started with
Mont Marcal Brut Reserve Cava that was served as the guests arrived. Cava is essentially sparkling wine from Spain made using the traditional champagne method. Only sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France can be called champagne. Estate bottled and made from the native xarel-lo, macabeo, and parellada grapes this is a soft, sweet wine with dried apricot and apple on the nose. Flavors of yeast and grapefruit appear on the palate to offer a solid complexity from start to finish.

Nieto Senetiner Torrontes, one of my favorite whites, was next. With flavors similar to sauvignon blanc, torrontes is perfect for the summer to serve with lighter fare and white fish. But I do enjoy its fragrant floral aroma and the tastes of apple, peach and lime anytime. The torrontes went perfect with the goat cheese and fruit we served.

Keeping with aromatic whites,
2005 Domaine du Viking Vouvray was our final white. Vouvray is made from the chenin blanc grape in the Loire Valley of France. An extremely aromatic white with a classic slate minerality on the finish.

On to the reds.
2006 Windmill Old Vine Zinfandel had sweet aromas of black cherries and a hint of licorice. Interesting though that the flavors were of chocolate and coffee, much different from the fruitiness in the aroma.

2006 Nicolis Seccal "Ripasso" Valpolicella is an Italian blend of the corvina, rondinella, and molinara grapes. Valpolicella Ripasso is made by re-fermenting the above juice with the skins of the grapes used for Amarone wines. The process lends to a bright ruby red color and a rich fruit and spice scents.

A sweet ending,
2008 Fracchia Voulet de Casorso. One guest mentioned that this is her favorite red of all time and she drives about 40 mins one way to the wine shop that carries this brand. She was so excited when I told her that I got all the wines in DC! Made frizzante, which is fizzy in Italian but not a sparkling wine, the voulet was very sweet. It tasted almost like liquid raspberry jam in my mouth. A great wine to serve last and went perfect with the chocolate brownies.

Unfortunately I didn't cross-reference the football schedule with the tasting club schedule and committed a serious faux pas. Drink Outside the Box was scheduled for the same date and basically same time as the Redskins vs Cowboys game. My bad! No worries though, my faithful and adventurous wine lovers showed up...and there was more wine for everyone :-)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Flair for the Fabulous

Have you ever been to a bar and saw the bartender flip the shakers, toss the bottles behind his back, juggle with glasses? It is a pretty cool sight. To do something exciting and different, I went to Great Gatherings in Annapolis and watched Chris Cardone bartend 'with flair' as he flipped cocktail shakers and balanced bottles on the back of his hand...and then make us a cocktail!

He made 2 standard cocktails, The Manhattan, and a Mojito. Then as a twist on the Pisco Sour, Chris gave us the Passion Pisco Sour. We of course got to sample all of them and get his tips on how to make a great cocktail at home. He was also very knowledgeable about current cocktail books and which ones would be most helpful. I have the internet, so no books necessary for me ;-) But I did go out and buy pisco later that evening, that drink was my fave!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wine Wednesday - Holiday Tasting Edition

So, I'm back in town, back in the swing of thing, back to tasting wine! For tonight's Wine Wednesday, I went to Bell Wine & Spirits in DC. It's time to start thinking about wine for the holidays so Bell had a Holiday Wine Tasting with over 30 wines available to pair with your Thanksgiving or other holiday meals. After so much time off, was I up for the challenge of tasting so many wines...well let's see.

When reading wine articles, posts, wine blogs, etc for Thanksgiving wine ideas, most offer up the Pinot Noir suggestion. So I expected quite a bit of that at this tasting because that is what people are used to buying, drinking, pairing, which is great for me because I'm quite fond of Pinot Noir. This tasting didn't disappoint with 14 different Pinots. Among my favorites were of course the
Rene Bovier Fixin and Nicolas Rossignol Volnay 1er Chevret from Burgundy. My trip to Burgundy this summer has me still in love with everything Burgundy! Also loved the Redtree Pinot Noir from CA with its strawberry and red cherry flavors and the Forefront Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley for its smoky complexity and red fruit flavors.

Zinfandel is another popular choice and I think is a great match for the smoked Thanksgiving turkey. My favorite Zinfandel of the night was the
2007 Edmeades Zinfandel, it gave such a fruity raspberry bouquet with a touch of oak and hint of earthiness.

But my absolute hands down favorite wine of the evening was the
2006 Crivelli Ruche. OMG!! I've never smelled anything like this before. In the glass was lavender and herbs, and then the fruit explosion of black cherry, blueberry, clove, sweet spice....this list could go on and on. And funny that the gentleman pouring the wine said that this is a great alternative to Pinot Noir. Guess I have my red wine bases covered for the holidays. Maybe I should taste some whites later this week...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wack Wine Wednesday

I so love Wine Wednesday! It's a time where I either go out and try a wine that I've never had before, or dig down deep in my cellar and pull out something that I haven't had in awhile. Well, this wine Wednesday was WACK!! I guess the wine I selected was a little too deep down in my cellar and did not age well at all. The selection of the evening, a 2007 California Syrah. I'm expecting spicy, red fruit aromas...but instead got a little pepper on the palate with a strong finish of rubber band! I drank a couple of glasses of water to get that taste out of my mouth. Oh well, we'll try again next Wednesday. There is a holiday wine tasting at Bell's Wine & Spirits so I think I have a much better shot of better wine and a better post :-)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Down Home Cookin' (& Drinkin)

I love the Food Network! I love the Neelys on the Food Network! So imagine how excited I was to have tickets to see the Neelys live this past weekend. They were doing an hour long live segment at the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show in DC. I barely made it out the bed and to the convention center in time, but I got there! They were fantastic! I love to see husband and wife teams and the Neelys are no exception. Gina Neely got on one of the guests because she had a little too much 'lust' in her voice when she was asking her husband Pat a question. The audience erupted in laughter. But the most important thing, the food looked delicious!! And they actually cooked it, most of the other celebrity chefs had other people in the background making their dishes while they talked. Not the Neelys, they were hands in mixing and grilling themselves. On the menu, grilled stuffed pork chops, cheesy rice fritters, and apple crisp. The pork chops were stuffed with breading and bacon....anything with bacon is getting my vote everytime. I just need an indoor gril or grill pan because I think the flavor of the chops comes from the grill lines.

No food show would be complete without wines, so after the Neelys, I headed over to the Beer, Wine & Spirits section. I had quite a Saturday night, so I couldn't do the type of tasting that I usually do in these situations, but I did conquer 4 wines.

Bodegas Breton Criadanes Lorinon 2007 Navarette (Rioja) Spain
Made from 100% viura grapes, this wine was fermented in American oak and had slight contact with lees for aging purposes providing a creamy mouthfeel and hints of vanilla. Citrus flavors are also present on the finish along with a slight oakiness.

Monte Toro Rosado Garnacha 2006
I don't like to bash wines ever, I just mention that it wasn't perhaps to my liking. This one wasn't to my liking. I hadn't had a 'light' garnacha before and was excited to try this one because I'm a huge garnacha (grenache) fan. The strawberry aromas had my mouth watering but after the swirl and sip, it was all downhill. The flavors were very tart and astringent and fell quite flat. The color was also off, for a rosado. I'm expecting a light pinkish maybe salmon color...but this was quite dark for a 'rosado'. Perhaps a bit more skin contact would result in a stronger more garnacha-like flavor.

Ironberry Cabernet-Merlot-Shiraz 2008 Australia
Great nose, rich with berry aromas. Smooth and well rounded mouth with a soft oaky finish. Loved the toasted oak flavors on the finish. Would love to have a glass of this while I watch Grey's Anatomy.

Pirovano Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2008 Italy
Young, full red fruit smells and flavors. Soft tannins, great acidity and moderately intense cherry and herb flavors make this sangiovese a very easy drinking wine.

Wind In My Sails

Since Saturday was my birthday, I clearly needed to start off the day with a bit of wine. I headed over to Rick's Wine and Gourmet for their weekly Saturday tasting. Tradewinds Specialty Imports was on hand to pour 5 Spanish wines. I'm still on my Spanish wine kick since I'm now an official Spanish Wine Educator ;-) And since I just wanted to kick off my birthday right, I rushed out of the house without my wine notebook so the comments below are from Tradewinds and Rick's. And the Cava was a great way to start the tasting!

NV Rossynol Brut - a crisp and acidic Cava, great way to start a tasting.
2008 Mania Verdejo - a bright and grassy Verdejo from Rueda.
2007 Eder Joven - a Tempranillo blend from Rioja, vinified in stainless steel to keep it fresh and fruity.
2004 Valsotillo Crianza - aged in American oak for 14 months, this Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero is complex and concentrated with a long finish.
2005 Eder Crianza - a well balanced Tempranillo blend that is aged in French and American oak for 12 months

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wine Wednesday

It's been quite awhile since my last post. Haven't been to many wine events lately...or perhaps the wine world just stopped inviting me. Go figure! But anyway, I heard about a book called 'The Bubbly Bar' and the author was going to be in DC to do a book signing at Masa 14. I'm thinking, what a perfect way to spend Wine Wednesday! There would be champagne and sparkling wine cocktails from the book paired with tapas from the restaurant. Too bad the event was canceled :-( Who knows why, but I figure that I would still head out to the restaurant since it's only a few months old and I hadn't been yet.

Masa 14 is a restaurant recently opened in the burgeoning area of Logan Circle in DC. Chefs Chef Richard Sandoval (Zengo), Kaz Ochochi (Kaz Sushi Bistro) and Antonio Burell have brought this concept together for Latin and Asian small plates. Since I arrived shortly after opening for the evening, I was one of the 1st people in the restaurant. I got to pick my seat at the 75-seat bar and decided the best place is right in front of the bartender. Happy hour was on, a selection of small plates, cocktails and house wine were $4 each. I of course went with the house red, a merlot blend from Vina Calina in Chile. Smells of plum and berries hit my nose as the bartender poured my glass. After a swirl, I still got the rich fruit aromas of plum but also a bit of black cherry and hints of oak. On the palate was a toasty cherry-vanilla flavor. Perfect for a cold night.

I ordered a spicy tuna hand roll so I could have something to snack on. Clearly not a pairing for the wine, but I couldn't sit there and drink with no food. Interesting presentation, the hand roll was served in a silver stand and by the looks, resembled a sandwich wrap. Pretty tasty, but I was still a bit hungry. I then ordered the wok fried okra...figured I'd get a vegetable in the mix. Delicious! Served with a slightly sweet soy sauce on the side with fresh herbs, it complemented the lightly fried okra very well and I cleaned my plate. By now the bar and restaurant had filled up and a woman that had sat down next to me earlier began to chat with me. She was hilarious! Then her friend joined us and I stayed another hour and ordered a mojito (before happy hour was over of course). By the time we left, the restaurant was full, the bar was standing room only, and there were people crowded by the door waiting for a seat. This is definitely a hot spot with great drinks and good service. Just don't come with too much of an appetite.