Friday, December 31, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
What a year it's been! I hope this holiday season finds everyone thankful for what they have and hopeful for the future. Here's to an AMAZING Christmas spent with family and friends.....and the best wines you have!!
I'm not sure what will be in my glass today/tonight, but it is sure to be fantastic :-)
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Lumos Pinot Gris (Oregon)
Tegernseerhof Zweigelt (Austria)
King Estate Pinot Noir (Oregon)
Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea Cocktails
And yes they were all delicious! Everyone has something to be thankful for, think upon those things today. Happy Thanksgiving!!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
People just love new stuff. That new car smell, a new car, new clothes...and of course new wine! So people just line up, place orders, and can't wait to get their hands on the 2010 Beaujolais Nouveau that is released the 3rd Thursday of November, which happens to be this Thursday November 18th.
Beaujolais Nouveau is sometimes considered young and immature to many a 'seasoned' wine drinker, but it's fruity, jammy flavors make it approachable to many and also a possible gateway into some of the wines of France. It's also the perfect wine for Thanksgiving which is next week.
According to Wikipedia, Beaujolais Nouveau, made from the Gamay grape, always had a huge event to celebrate its end of harvest but not until the end of WWII were the wines available to the public. Negociant Georges Dubouef saw the marketing potential of this wine and worked with the UIVB to promoting this 'new Beaujolais'. Not only was it a way to clear lots of wine for a great profit, but selling wine within weeks of the harvest was great for cash flow. Hence the idea was born of a race to Paris carrying the first bottles of the new vintage. This attracted a lot of media coverage, and by the 1970s had become a national event. The races spread to neighbouring countries in Europe in the 1980s, followed by North America, and in the 1990s to Asia. In 1985, the date was changed to the third Thursday in November to take best advantage of marketing in the following weekend.
This "Beaujolais Day" is accompanied by publicity events and heavy advertising. The traditional slogan, even in English-speaking countries, was “Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!” (literally, "The new Beaujolais has arrived!"), but in 2005 this was changed to "It's Beaujolais Nouveau Time!".
So this Thursday, visit the French Embassy, or your local wine shop for fun, friends, and free wine because 'It's Beaujolais Nouveau Time!'
Sunday, November 7, 2010
It's my birthday! So I decided to celebrate with a trip on the much talked about Frederick Wine Trail. I had a driver ;-) of course and we stopped at Black Ankle Vineyards and Elk Run Vineyards both in Mt Airy, MD.
Black Ankle has gotten much press and much buzz as one of the greatest wineries in Maryland. The buzz is well worth it, the tasting room is beautiful and the wines are fantastic! I had a coupon for a complimentary tasting for two, and we were lead through a tasting of Bedlam, Viognier, and Gruner Veltliner for whites; and Syrah, Rolling Hills and Crumbling Rock reds. I think I got the birthday tasting special with a few gems thrown in. I absolutely loved the crisp, tart flavors of the Gruner and I was already a fan of the Crumbling Rock. I ordered a glass of the Viognier to sit back and enjoy.
At Elk Run Vineyards, they let you select 6 items off their tasting menu for a small fee or for a smaller fee, you can taste 6 wines that they select. Since there were 2 of us, we picked out 12 wines which gave us a great tasting of almost all of their tasting menu. Some of the standouts were the Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot. A birthday gift of the Maryland Merlot (also known as Marilyn Monroe) was given to me.
I had a fantastic birthday meeting new wine friends and tasting new wines. Cheers to another great year!
Sunday, October 31, 2010
I visited New Kent last year during a trip to Williamsburg, VA. The winery has just opened in May of 2008 and boy was it beautiful! The entire building and it's contents are made from recycled materials. The tasting room staff were so knowledgeable about the winery, the wines, even the are itself. It did help that there weren't too many people in that day since there was a huge storm coming. (We happened to get caught in that storm after the winery visit)
I purchased a few wines during my visit and decided to try the Chardonnay tonight. The Chardonnay Reserve, that I aged a little in the bottle myself, was fermented in the barrel and aged sur-lie (on dead yeast cells). Mostly yeast and bread in the nose but loads of creamy-ness and acidity on the palate, with a bit of apple and pear notes as well. The finish reminded me of buttered toast.
Here's to you Virgina Wine Month!
Monday, October 25, 2010
1st stop, Port of Leonardtown. This winery is interesting because it's actually a cooperative. They don't grow any grapes on site, instead their 15 members have vineyards that grow multiple grape varieties that they bottle and sell under the Port of Leonardtown Winery label. They do ferment and age a few of the wines on premises however. Of course, they had all of them available for tasting in their tasting room. Starting with their 1634 Chardonnay, which I'd had at the Maryland Wine Festival last month, I still think this wine is amazing. Fermented in French oak, but the toasty oak flavors were smooth and soft not overpowering. The regular Chardonnay (winner of the 2010 MWA Bronze medal) was fermented in stainless steel it has such a crisp apple and pear flavor. There were even hints of lemon on the finish. The grapes from the Vidal Blanc are grow solely in St Mary's County, which works because Vidal Blanc seems to do well in Maryland. Very floral in aroma with red apple and honey on the palate. McIntosh Run is an apple wine, no grapes allowed! It won a Gold Medal this year from MWA and was voted Best Fruit Wine. Light acidity, with flavors of spice and apple (duh!). Very easy drinking, and although still has alcohol it can be enjoyed by those who really may not be fans of wine. The last white, Breton Bay Breeze, was very aromatic. Rose petals, citrus zest, perfume, and in all actuality I smelled grapes. Go figure!
I tasted 2 reds the Captains Table and Breton Bay Shoals. My fav of the whole tasting was probably the Captains Table. A Chambourcin and Merlot blend, it was very earthy on the nose with mushrooms and dark berry/cherry notes. I was told that this would benefit from a bit of decanting and is also aging well in the bottle. Aging a Maryland red, alright! Now back in the car for the next stop.
I read that Solomons Island Winery is best known for its fruit infused varietals wines so I passed on visiting that vineyard and headed to Cove Point Winery in Lusby, MD. Unlimited tasting for $4. I tasted 6 whites, including a cherry wine and vidal blanc blend, 7 reds including an ice-style pinot noir, and 3 of the 15 mist wines. I definitely had to spit at this winery. Of note was their Symphony, a floral white wine with spicy aromas and a sweet citrus finish; Chambourcin, slightly tart with notes of black cherries and plums, I got a little popcorn on the finish; Cab/Syrah (2007), great acidity and tannins with ripe red fruit flavors. I'm starting to get a little hungry, thank goodness I only have one more stop to make. Let me take a quick moment to say that since there was a big promotion of the Patuxent Wine Trail, I did expect a few more people out on the trail along with a few activities. So far, I've been the only one in the tasting rooms and it seemed like any other day at the winery....
Perigeaux Vineyards and Winery in St Leonard, MD was the last winery stop of the day. A sample of every wine they offered was only $3. I handed the gentleman my money and we got started. 5 whites, 10 reds including 2 semi-organic reds with reduced sulfites. They even had a Pinot Gris Blush that was semi-sweet with a crisp berry finish. Since I was the only one tasting I got the story behind the vineyard owners, wine names, and some of the winemaking techniques. That alone was worth the $3 for the samples! Perigeaux sits on a 27 acre estate with 8 acres planted and they produced their first vintage in 2006, wine sales in 2008. Wines of notes here were the 2007 Merlot, flavors of dark berries and oak and the 2007 Chardonnay, ripe apple and pear flavors moved into a creamy finish. Perigeaux did have an artist on site as well as someone from Knit Works and their whole tasting was done outside which was great because the weather Sunday was wonderful!
The sun is starting to go down and my stomach is growling so I headed to Jake & Al's for dinner. Why there? I had a $50 gift card :-) A lot of good it did once they told me it expired in March 2009 and did I have another form of payment. WHAT?! Nothing on the gift card said anything about an expiration date! Of course I ordered like I had $50 to spend... Thank goodness for credit cards.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Brindisi Do Rosso Riserva 2004
Grapes: Negroamaro, Montepulciano, Malvasia Nera
Medium-bodied with flavors of red cherry, tobacco and herbs. Also got a little meaty-ness on the palate. A little lighter bodied than I was expecting but found a nice roundness to it that will compliment loads of foods.
McLaren Vale 2008
Grapes: Shiraz, Grenache
Listed as #22 for Wine Enthusiast Mag's Top 100 Best Buys for 2010. This wine has rich flavors or dark fruit and plum, probably coming from the Shiraz, with minerality and hints of spice on the finish from the Grenache in the blend. The 2 grapes come together to form a very well balanced wine with ripe cherry, good tannins and acidity. Luckily for me I have never had bad luck with these 2 grapes in a blend.
Monday, October 18, 2010
I tried something a little different this month for The GrapeVine Tasting Club. Instead of just going through wines and sniffing and tasting and doing the whole, regular wine tasting thing...we mixed it up a bit, literally. Cocktails are so popular now from new inventive one, to re-creating old classics with a new spin. So since I'm a wine girl, I figured my cocktail spin would be making them with wine and sharing that recipe with the Tasting Club. We made like 9 different drinks, trying a couple of different wines with the same recipe and changing the alcohol. The crowd had a few favs, and there was only 1 real miss...Wine Spritzer. But they still had fun tasting everything. A few had a little too much fun if you know what I mean, LOL!
Here are a couple of the main drinks. They're all super easy and hopefully you'll enjoy some of these at home or your next party.
Kir & Kir Royale
Creme de Cassis, White Wine (Sparkling Wine for Kir Royale)
Pinot Grigio, Sour Mix (we tried this with Sauvignon Blanc as well)
White Wine, Club Soda
Rioja, Cola, Shot of Rum
Ice Wine, Vodka (we used a white wine & a red wine)
Hypnotiq, Ginger Ale, White Wine
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
When thinking of wines of Portugal, Port is the first thing that comes to the mind of most. Not because it's a part of the name but more because it's the wine that put Portugal on the map. Times have changed. Portugal now has several amazing wine regions that produce whites and reds.
I got a taste of the Alentejo wine region here, but tonight was an all over Portugal tasting at Best Cellars in Clarendon with Matthew McGuigan of wine distributor, Suprex. He gave a great history of wines in Portugal, how they started, how they've developed, and where they are headed. With all that talk...I was ready for the wines!
Caves Vidigal Vinho Verde 2009
Grapes: Loureiro, Trajadura, Arinto
So refreshing with its zesty lime notes and a hint of effervescence. Perfect for the summer or to tone down the spice on Indian dishes.
Caves Vidigal Dao 2005
Young black fruit aromas and nicely balanced with tobacco and herbal notes. Very earthy and rich, this wine is perfect for pairing with food.
Casa Santos Lima Bons Ventos Tinto 2008
Bright ruby color and super aromatic. Notes of ripe berry fruit fills the nose while the palate provides red fruit flavors and a soft hint of oak. Great acidity with a little licorice and spice on the finish. Nice! This was my fav of the evening, I went home with a bottle.
Quinta Seara d'Ordens Colheita Seleccionada Tinto 2005
Aged for 10 mos in French oak and then 8 more mos in the bottle, then it was released. It was def worth the wait. An exotic spicy nose, dark fruit on the palate and firm gripping tannins. This wine and grilled meats will make for a nice date.
Quinta Seara d'Ordens LBV Port 2003
Of course there had to be Port at a Portuguese wine tasting! A long sniff of the glass made me feel like I was transported to a forest. I smelled oak, fig, dark fruit. And the taste was so luscious... A great evening sipper for the holidays or a special night by the fireplace.
5 wines plus an in depth and entertaining look into the region and the wines of Portugal...who says that wine isn't fun?!
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Pillar Box Red - Australia
Domaine Faiveley Mercurey - France
Bugey-Cerdon - France
Laurenz V Gruner Veltliner - Austria
Oh yeah, and working on a 4-pack of Delirium Tremens
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
As usual, just when you think you get a handle on something, new information presents itself and blows your mind. So it goes with wine knowledge. Regions gaining AOC status, new grapes being discovered, new wines being available in America...there is always something. My new 'discovery', Bugey-Cerdon.
Renardat-Fache NV Bugey-Cerdon Méthode Ancestrale Rosé
Pronounced Boo ghee Seir dohn, this wine region located in East France sits between Burgundy and Rhone and off to the right. Bugey has produced wines under the Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS, which is typically just a holding place before a wine region is granted AOC status) since 1958. On May 28, 2009, INAO (the organization that regulates French agricultural products) gave its final approval for the elevation of Bugey to Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) status. Now the producers from the new Bugey AOC appellation are thus seeing their efforts to build an identity for the wines in their region rewarded.
In order to legally have the name Cerdon from the Bugey region, the rose sparkling wine must be made either from 100% Gamay or a blend of Gamay and Poulsard. Being close in proximity to Beaujolais which is home to the Gamay grape, it makes sense that the Bugey region would have luck with the Gamay grape as well. Grapes are picked by hand and fermented in chilled vats. The young and light wine is then bottled, along with its active yeast and considerable unfermented sugars. Under pressure of the cork, the wine continues to ferment, gaining a higher percentage of alcohol but retaining a nice amount of sweetness. This method of making sparkling wine is called the ‘methode ancestrale’, which skips the method champenoise process of disgorgement in order to produce wines with slight sweetness that still contain particles of dead yeast matter in the form of lees in the bottle.
In a couple of online searches the term ‘Adult KoolAid’ was used. Let’s open up this bottle and take a sip!
Typical sparkling wine has 6 atmospheres of pressure in the bottle, I think this one had like 12! As I was untwisting the cage, the cork shot up in the air! Good thing I was outdoors! Dark pink in color with bubbles for days, this sparkler has a delicate, floral nose, reminiscent of an Italian Lambrusco. Slightly ripe cherry, strawberry flavors balanced with medium acidity provide a nice complexity to this rose sparkler. A Jolly Rancher candy comes to mind on the finish, but still retains a crisp dryness. It is not too sweet for the dry wine lover, yet has enough sweetness and flavor for those that like a sweeter sparkler to sip. It’s perfect as an outdoor patio sipper or a sparkler to start off parties during the upcoming holiday season. For after dinner, with its strawberry flavors, I can see this paired with strawberry shortcake or strawberries and cream. The Cerdon is an extremely versatile sparkling wine that you can’t help but love. Drink Up!
Saturday, October 2, 2010
The rain has gone, the sun is out, and nice breeze is blowing, so I opened up some whites. OK, a lot of whites!
Jezebel White Blend 2009
Blend of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Riesling. Crisp, aromatic and fruity
J Fritsch Pinot Blanc
Semi-sweet with notes of apricots and peaches. A great aperitif to start off an evening.
Vision Cellars Riesling 2008
Fresh apricot flavors blend into crisp peaches and nectarines. Floral notes of honeysuckle are found on the finish.
J Fritsch Gewurztraminer
Yellow-gold in color, floral with exotic fruit notes. Pineapple and mango on the palate and a little spice on the finish. This would be perfect with some Chinese food.
Now that I have 4 open bottles of whites, I have to go call some friends to help me drink it all! Any takers?
Monday, September 27, 2010
Today I tried out two wines to see how I feel about these going forward into the Fall season.
2008 Seghesio Dolcetto d'Alba
Very fruity and floral, with violet and berry undertones. Full-bodied, with lots of fruit and a balance of acidity and tannins. Need a heavy food for pairing with this as the tannins are quite high. Steak, stew maybe. This is nice, but maybe closer to winter.
2009 JP Azeitao
Peninsula de Setubal, Portugal
Grapes: Castelao, Aragonez, Syrah
Ripe fruity red wine with decent tannins and acidity. Very food friendly (I drank this with pizza) and easy on the wallet retailing at around $8.
Guess I'm going to have to go with the 2nd one as the best wine for me, right now. But a wine that goes with pizza is pretty much going to be an easy sell for me.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
My recipe is below. Please note: I rarely use any kind of accurate measurements when I make my sangria so please be sure to just add the fruit and liquor to your desired taste. Isn't mixing drinks more fun that way?!
handful of pineapple chunks
a few shots of whiskey
1 bottle of IZZE Clementine sparkling fruit juice
Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc (Octavin Home Wine Bar)
Slice the kiwi, and quarter the lemon and lime to place in the pitcher. Squeeze a couple of the lime and lemon quarter in the pitcher before you throw them in the pitcher. Squeeze the 1/2 orange in the pitcher, then quarter it and throw it in too. Toss in the handful of pineapple chunks. Using the Octavin spout, fill the pitcher about 3/4 full. Stir the wine and fruit so the flavors will blend. Pour in the whiskey. Place the pitcher in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Just before serving, pour in the bottle of IZZE and stir. Pour in glasses, let some fruit fall in the glass! Enjoy!
**I received the wine as a sample**
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
So many people tell me that they don't drink French wines because they have no idea of what's in the bottle. While actually exciting to me to buy and try 'mystery wine', I can understand the frustration of some people that make their wine buying decisions by actually knowing what they're buying. I thought about this as I attended a trade tasting for Loire Valley today. The Loire region definitely falls into the category of 'Consumer Confusion'. You kinda have to just know what grapes are grown in what region if you really want to consider Loire. Like if I asked you what melts in your mouth and not in your hand? You know what I'm talking about...right?! I even tried to think up a pneumonic device to make it easier...but what device can you come up with for 5 styles, 7 grapes and 11 sub-regions? If you know, please let me in on the secret!
The Loire Valley is said to be the heart of France and its wine region runs along a 300 mile stretch of the Loire river. It includes 65 appellations, several of which are AOC, and their styles run the whole gamut...still, sparkling, dry, sweet, white, rose, and red. See how this could be confusing? But Loire Valley wines are the most popular wines ordered in France due to their diversity or grapes, flavor profiles and price points.
The main white grapes of Loire are: Melon de Bourgogne (Muscadet), Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. Main red grapes are: Cabernet Franc, Grolleau, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, and Pinot Noir. I tasted all of these today and then some!
Some faves of the day are as follows:
Chateau de Sancerre, 2008
Nice citrus and floral, smooth with a nice bite on the finish
Langloirs Chateau Brut Cremant de Loire
Cabernet Franc, Grolleau
Tart strawberry with a juicy red fruit finish
Remy Pannier Vouvray, 2008
Fresh flavors of white grapes with a hint of sweetness. Very pleasing to the palate and the acidity would be perfect with spicy or fried foods.
Cave de Saumur Saumur Lieu-Dit Les Pouches, 2009
Fermented in stainless steel and aged on the lees, this creamy wine tasted of a freshly picked pear. The distributor mentioned that this would be great with goat cheese and salmon. I made a beeline for the food table.
Domain De Bel Air La Croix Boissee Chinon, 2008
Dark fruit and olives sitting in a cigar lounge.
Les Poyeaux Saumur Champigny, 2006
No oak, fermented and aged in stainless steel. This wine was very earthy with flavors of dark berries and an interesting spicy finish.
I will say that this tasting would have made it easy for the wine consumer as most of the wines here were Vouvray (Chenin Blanc) Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc) and Chinon (Cabernet Franc). You can definitely remember 3 grapes and 3 regions long enough to get to your wine shop!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
I'm dressed, had a hearty breakfast, and the car is gassed up...I'm all set to head to Westminster, MD for the 2010 Maryland Wine Festival!! I am a total supporter of drinking local wines, especially ones from Maryland. I've visited several MD vineyards, written blog posts, and regularly purchase and request their wines at my local wine shops. So to have all the MD wineries in one place to taste all their wines, YAY!
The weather was perfect! I have a bit of a plan, I wanted to be sure to taste all of the MD Governors Cup Medal winners. A lofty plan I know! So of course as soon as I get past the gate I am sidetracked. I see the sign for Elk Run Vineyards and I want their Merlot. Deep ruby color, tastes of cherry jam, so delicious. Now on to the Premier Tent for the 'special' Maryland wines, but I see tent for Running Hare Vineyards so I have to stop and say Hi to my friend and owner, Barb Scarborough and taste their award winning Malbec and Sangiovese. OK, now I'm really headed to the Premier Tent...if I can find it.
After walking the entire festival, past the funnel cakes, grilled cheese tent, crab cakes, kettle corn, wine glass holders, I find it! There is food, Riedel glasses and the finest Maryland wines, all under one tent. And it's actually under a tent which means shade and a nice breeze! First wine in the tent is the Royele Blanc de Blanc from Cygnus Wine Cellars. 100% Vidal Blanc grapes made in the authentic Champagne style...crisp flavors of apple and pear with a few yeasty notes and hints of sweetness. This is on par with some of the sparklers I've tasted from CA. Another white of note was the Port of Leonardtown Winery's 1634 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay. Only the slightest hint of oak but delightful toasty and red apple notes.
Cygnus also had a vertical tasting of their Julian wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc blend from 2002, 1997 and 1995. The hysterical, and extremely knowledgeable, Carole from SE lead us through the tasting...and we agreed with many others that had tasted before us, Maryland wines can definitely age and the 1997 was amazing. Deep, dark fruit flavors and berry notes throughout. We did a Rose battle between Knob Hall Winery's Reserve Rose and Rose (Semi-Dry). Both made from the Chambourcin grape, I liked the dry style of the Reserve the best. Serpent Ridge Basilisk and Vintner's Cabernet, Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard's Circe, EVOE, and Comus Reserve are all wines to look out for at your wine shops and restaurants. I finished the tasting off on the sweeter side of things with Harford Vineyard's Peach Kissed. Delicate, well-balanced floral and peach aromas with a soft mouthfeel. The name is so appropo, I felt like I was kissed by a peach!I had an amazing time at the festival and tasted some old favorites and found some new ones. My only wish is that when tasting wines, I was able to speak with more people that were knowledgeable about the wines...I always happened to get into the line of the festival volunteer. But everyone did have loads of literature out so I was able to find out a lot of information from there. I definitely hope they have the premier tent again next year, it added another level to the festival and provided an opportunity to taste some of the more 'exclusive' Maryland wines.