Friday, April 30, 2010

The GrapeVine Digest

Give It A Swirl

The weatherman calls for a warm sunny weekend, pull out the grill and enjoy a glass (or two) of wine!

WhiteFair Valley (South Africa) Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Pale straw color with a greenish tinge. Fresh lime and mineral aromas with a zesty mouthfeel. Hints of capsicum on the nose with pear fruit flavors and good acidity.

Rose – Red Bicyclette French Rose (France) 2009
Light-bodied, with a clean, crisp finish and the delicious scents of fresh raspberry, strawberry and plum.

RedCasillero del Diablo (Chile) Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Bright, dark plum in color. Appealing ripe cherries, black currant and dark plums with a touch of vanilla and toasted oak. Medium bodied with smooth and friendly tannins. Hints of plums and cherries and a generous touch of toasted American oak.

Wine Tastings

Venturing out to taste a few wines at these tastings is a great way to find out way you like (and don't like!)

Friday April 30th 3pm – 7pm; Saturday, May 1st – 1pm – 6pm
We're tasting wine from 2 of the West Coast's Big Hitters. From Clos Pegase Winery in Napa we'll be sampling their Chardonnay and Merlot and from Lemelson Vineyards in Oregon, you'll enjoy their Pinot and Dry Riesling. It's a combination that can't be beaten and it's free!

Howard County's finest store for wine, beer or spirits - we cater to the seasoned collector as well as the value seeker, located less than 30 minutes from downtown DC.

i.mWine 8180 Maple Lawn Blvd. Fulton, MD 20759

Sunday May 2nd – 12:30pm - 4 pm
The Washington, DC Street Performance Festival returns to La Maison Française at the Embassy of France! See more than 40 shows throughout the day, with performance acts by jugglers, stilt walkers, clowns, acrobats, aerialists, comedians, magicians, puppets and much, much more.

In addition, amateur regional performers, live music, dancing, and workshops with the visiting "street performance" artists will add to the ambiance!

Relax at the Embassy's terrace-style café, savor specialties from the grill, and enjoy pastries, crêpes, quiches, croissants, cheese, coffee, bloody marys, beer, wine, and mimosas! (food and beverages sold separately)

Tickets / More Information:

La Maison Française at the Embassy of France 4101 Reservoir Rd, NW Washington, DC

Thursday May 6th – 7:30 PM
A Chocolate Feast in Spain: 12 exquisite Chocolates and Truffles masterfully pared with Cava, Red, and White Wines from Spain. Start your evening with a refreshing glass of Cava Rosé, and then enjoy a flight of cava, white and red wines from Spain, while learning about how to choose your next bottle of Spanish wine. The evening would not be complete without the usual pairing of Biagio's masterful selection of 9 premium fine chocolates for tasting, as well as 3 world class filled chocolates made by local artisan chocolatiers.

Tickets / More Information:

Biagio's Fine Chocolate Studio B 1904 18th Street NW Washington DC 2009

Save the Date

An upcoming exciting wine event of note
May 14th & 15th – Drink Well Do Good Tour DC

Drink Well DC is an evening reception, featuring wines produced by indigenous African vintners, courtesy of official tour sponsor Heritage Link Brands. Wines will be paired with delicious Afro-centric cuisine prepared by nationally renowned chefs. Drink Well DC will also feature Afrobeat music by local sensation DJ Underdog, along with an art exhibition and silent auction. Guests will have the opportunity to bid on artwork, wine tastings, and other unique items.

May 15th – 16th – Wine in the Woods
Sample Maryland's finest wines from a souvenir glass; make food purchases from an abundance of high quality, distinctive restaurants and caterers; sharpen your palate by attending wine education seminars; enjoy exceptional works offered by invited artists and crafts persons; and revel in continuous live entertainment on the Main and Vignette stages.

Wine News
Is Drinking Wine the Key to Anti Aging?

The latest antiaging weapon is not an injection or a wonder cream, and it doesn't involve any nipping or tucking either.

It's a glass of red wine a day for women and two for men, according to Richard A. Baxter, MD, a plastic surgeon in Seattle and the author of Age Gets Better with Wine. Baxter gave a talk on wine and beauty at the annual meeting of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in Washington, D.C.

Click here to read more.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Still In The Spirit

I'm still reeling from the amazing time I had at the Drink Local Wine Conference this past weekend! Still excited about all the things I learned, all the people I met...and most importantly...all the PHENOMENAL Virginia wines I had the pleasure of drinking. Trying to recapture some of the joy from the weekend, I figured I'd go out for dinner and have some wine.

I ended up at Kitchen in DC where they have 'Half off Bottle' night. Great! I get the wine list and what do you know, Horton Vineyards Cabernet Franc AND Norton was on the list!! VA wines made this DC wine list! Clearly I'm going to drink local, so I went with the 2005 Norton. We were not disappointed. Tart cherries and dark fruits were on the palate from the native Virginia grape. Also tasted a bit of oak and spice on the finish. The official Horton tasting notes state that the Norton is aged in oak for over 14 months. Recommended pairings are grilled sausages, game and spicy ethnic foods. I had grilled catfish which may have been an ideal pairing for a lighter white wine...I wanted the Norton and enjoyed it just fine!

Virginia wines making the DC wine list...I'm telling you, VA wines are not to be missed! Drink Local!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's Getting Hot In Here! AKA The Twitter Taste-Off

After a full morning of seminars and exciting discussions at the 2010 Drink Local Wine Conference, it was time for the moment we'd all been waiting for.....The Twitter Taste-Off!!! People were standing around outside the room, a few had glasses in hand waiting to rush the tasting room like it was Wal-Mart on Black Friday! We got the hand signal that the tasting was open, and we were off. Over 20 wineries from Virginia and Maryland were on hand to pour a white and a red for us to tweet about to our hearts content. Our mission, if we chose to accept it, was taste, tweet and vote. The voting categories were Best Red, Best White, Media Favorite, and Overall Best Wine.

Some were old favorites that were tasted again and some were brand new wines or vintages we'd heard about but have never tasted. I was most excited to taste Chrysalis Vineyard's Albarino. I didn't even know they were growing that grape in VA until Jenny McCloud mentioned it in the 'Thomas Jefferson' seminar. It was everything that people said it was and more, very creamy in my glass with notes of citrus and peach. I was also very fond of the Lovingston Petit Manseng having not been too familiar with Petit Manseng. I now have added 3 to my list as I enjoyed the 2 from Horton Vineyards and Pearmund Cellars that were served at the dinner on Saturday night. A notable red was the Kluge Estate New World Red, it had that dark fruit and toasty oak flavor that I like. I also enjoyed the 2006 Barboursville Vineyards Octagon, 2007 Corocran Vineyards Meritage, and 2007 Williamsburg Winery Adagio. I wish I had more notes to add on them but at this point, I was burning up!! My poor sweaty fingers were not doing too well with the keyboard on my Droid at this point. Wondered if it was the red wine or the room...but upon hearing everyone else commenting and sweating, it was the room. Apparently the air conditioner had checked out of the resort. I stepped outside to taste the wines of my current home state of MD.

Definitely the surprise of the afternoon was the wines of Maryland. A surprise to everyone else though. Living in MD and having attended and volunteered at many MD wine festivals, I already knew the state was working with some decent vineyards. The 2007 Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards Comus and the Serpent Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc generated a great deal of chatter on Twitter. But none could compare to the talk surrounding Black Ankle Vineyards Leaf Stone Syrah! It blew people's minds! It blew my mind too when I first had it. Had they brought the Rolling Hills or the multi-award winning Crumbling Rock, I think people might have passed out!!

A couple of the comments on twitter under the MD wine hashtag #dlw10md were:
Nice Elk Run Vineyards Chardonnay w/ a soft footprint of toastiness. Glad to get a chance to try so many #mdwine

Cygnus Wine Cellars Blanc de Blanc NV is from MD - color is pale yellow, light and crisp sparkling

Serpent Ridge Vintner's Cabernet 2007 - blend of Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc , beautiful deep red/purple color, dark fruit

2007 Comus Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard ruby plum, blackberries aroma and taste mild tannins fruity finish

@blackanklevine Bedlam White Blend floral, fruity, moderate acidity ~ my type of summer time sipping sensation

The winners of the day were the 2008 Chrysalis Albariño for the Best White Wine, the 2002 Breaux Vineyards Reserve Merlot for the Best Red Wine and Media Favorite, and the Michael Shaps Viognier for Crowd Favorite. A fantastic event in which Virginia wines were shown the respect that tthey rightly deserve.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The GrapeVine Digest

A little wine information just in time for the weekend!

Give It A Swirl
In recognition of the Drink Local Wine Conference this weekend, here are 2 local wine picks. Enjoy a new wine from your state!

White – Breaux Vineyards (VA) Viognier 2008
Beautiful tropical aromas and flavors. Orange blossom, honey and freshly sliced pineapple dominate the palate. Crisp acidic finish.

Red – Black Ankle Vineyards (MD) Rolling Hills 2007
A dense ruby/plum color with a nose of black fruits, dark chocolate, and hints of tobacco and licorice. In the mouth the Rolling Hills reveals an abundance of cassis, blackberry jam, and sweet, velvety tannins leading to an extraordinarily smooth finish.

Weekend Wine Tastings
Venturing out to taste a few wines at these mostly free wine tasting is a great way to find out way you like (and don’t like!)

Friday April 23rd – 5pm – 8pm
Winemakers from Elite Wines portfolio will pour current releases from:
Alphonse Mellot Jr. of Alphonse Mellot Domaine La Moussiere (Sancerre)
Jerome Mader of Jean Luc Mader (Alsace)
Christian Berthet-Rayne of Domaine Berthet-Rayne (Chateaneuf du Pape)
Bell Wine & Spirits 1821 M Street NW Washington, DC 20036

Saturday April 24th – 1pm – 4pm
Four textbook examples of 100% Cabernet Franc-based wines from the Loire Valley. And our four featured wines will be on sale through Saturday at 20% off the normal retail price.
Weygandt Wines 3519 Connecticut Avenue NW Suite 10 Washington DC 20008

Sunday April 25th – 1pm - 4 pm
A walk around style tasting featuring the wines of Italy. Ten wines are scheduled to be poured. A few are even under $10 a bottle!
Rick's Wine and Gourmet 3117 Duke Street Alexandria, VA 22314

The GrapeVine Around Town
Where am I (and most importantly) what am I drinking

What a busy weekend I will have! I’m providing wine pairings for a cooking class at Classic Caterers in Springfield, VA then I’m off to Lansdowne Resort for the Drink Local Wine conference. The goal of DLW is to spotlight wine made in the 47 states and Canada that aren't California, Washington, and Oregon. It's the brainchild of Washington Post wine columnist Dave McIntyre and wine blogger Jeff Siegel, the Wine Curmudgeon. There will be a twitter taste-off on Sunday featuring Virginia and Maryland wineries from 2:15pm – 4:15pm. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me @grapevine4wine and you can follow all the taste-off tweets by searching #DLW10. Also, stay tuned to my blog for additional information and wine event recaps.


If there is anything you'd like to see appear in The GrapeVine Digest or you have any questions, please email me at

Monday, April 19, 2010

You Make Me Blush

It's the 3rd Sunday of the month, so you know what that means...The GrapeVine Tasting Club! This month we tasted rose wines. We did things a little different this time and tasted them all blind so that people would be able to give an honest assessment of the wines and not be turned off just by knowing the name of it. I also threw a little something into the mix that I didn't want people to know about until the end ;-)

Domaine de la Bergerie's Cremant de Loire was served as the guests arrived. A sparkling rose from France, this was the crowd's absolute favorite. Very light and fruity with bubbles, this is perfect for sipping this spring on the patio, and your picnic, or just because you feel like it.

Tegernseerhof Zweigelt (Austria)
I think all the flavors of the zweigelt are in the skins because very few were left over in this wine. Very light, like pastel pink in color, you had to really concentrate to discern flavors in this one. I was able to pull strawberry and lemon zest, but the crowd didn't know what was in the glass.

Jean Curial et Fils Macon Rose (France)
Made solely from the Pinot Noir grape, refreshing red fruit flavors of of cherries and raspberries were present on the palate.

J Mourat Fiefs Vendeens (France)
A blend of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Negrette came together like a fruit cup in my glass. Guests got flavors of strawberry, melon, grape, cherry. I hid a bottle of this take home.

Sutter Home White Zinfandel (CA)
I don't really think I need to say anything else about this :-)

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon (South Africa)
Pretty full-bodied for a rose. The color was even a dark, magenta like pink. A bit of tannins on the palate but still a pleasant flavor of strawberries, red cherries and raspberries. Most weren't expecting a flavor this heavy from a rose.

Carafe WineMakers Ocean Breezin' (VA)
People actually thought I had thrown in a Boones Farm or Arbor Mist with this one! Very fruity on the palate, this wine is described as a raspberry white zinfandel.

We tasted 7 wines total, 6 having their identities hidden. And what did we find out?? That some people really do like White Zinfandel, they just won't drink it because of the stigma attached to it! I held up the 4th bottle and asked who liked it, a fair amount of hands went up. But when I pulled off the paper to reveal it's identity, hysterical! Someone gasped, people lady said, 'I don't care what it is, I liked it' Well said! That is what it is really all about, drinking what you like. Who cares what the critics say or what your friends say, if you are spending your money, buy the wine you like to drink. I probably won't want a glass of that but hey, I know how to BYOB :-)

Friday, April 16, 2010

New Memories

You know how there are certain places you go with that 'certain' person... What happens when that certain person is no longer around? Yep, I'm talking a break-up. Not mine, a friend of mine. No really...a friend of mine. So she wanted to go out and enjoy some girlfriend time and have some wine. Was supposed to visit Bistrot Lepic with that certain person, but instead, she invited me to meet her there.

From Wednesday to Monday they have Happy Hour from 5:30pm - 7pm and all wines by the glass are half price. I arrived a little after 6pm and she had already gulped down one glass of rose and was ordering a second. I asked her how it tasted...Cold was the response. Maybe I could get more info from her second glass. I went for a fruity 2006 Beaujolais from Brouilly. Very bright fruit flavors of raspberry and cherries in the glass with a hint of dust on the finish. Would have been nice to have a slight chill on this one, but that may just be a personal preference for me. Not white wine cold, but just a little bit of a chill. It wasn't too big of a problem though, I ordered another glass. Also got to sample my friend's 2007 Domaine de la Courtade from Provence. Beautiful nose of strawberries and peaches, and tasted like a light strawberry jam. Notes of minerality were on the palate as well and they lingered into a long finish.

There was an amuse bouche for $5 so we ordered warm brie, bread, and charcuterie to pair with all the wines. As we sat back and enjoyed the cozy upstairs Wine Bar at Bistrot Lepic, we caught up with work, Hollywood gossip, and Operation 'New Boyfriend'. We had a fantastic time truly enjoyed making new memories at a new place that we can now go to for a glass of wine.