Monday, September 27, 2010

Falling For Wine

A hot weekend of 90+ temps, and a week in the 70s...I hope Fall is really here this time! I love fall, the leaves change colors, cute sweaters and cardigans, and Fall wine! Didn't know Fall had its own wine? Not technically, but in the Fall I tend to move away from the lighter, crisper, refreshing wines that I enjoyed during the hot Summer days to heavier more full-bodied wines to warm me up on those cold nights.

Today I tried out two wines to see how I feel about these going forward into the Fall season.

2008 Seghesio Dolcetto d'Alba
Piedmont, Italy
Grape: Dolcetto
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

The Last of the Summer Wine

Fall officially started this week according to the calendar...but someone forgot to tell Mother Nature. Temps during the day hit the 90's! So I figure I should definitely begin to drink up the rest of my 'summer' wine. Of course any wine can be drunk at any time during the year, there are some wines that are so crisp and refreshing that you automatically think, patio, picnic, beach favorite. Although I've been known to order a pitcher when eating tapas, Sangria is one of those drinks for me, especially white sangria. So I grabbed my Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc from my Octavin Home Wine Bar and made some White Sangria. Sauvignon Blanc already has such a crisp citrus flavor that is really highlighted when adding citrus fruits and fruit juice to the wine. It makes for a tart, tangy, mouth-watering delicious wine beverage that you can serve with ice.

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?!

White Sangria

1 kiwi
1 lemon
1 lime
1/2 orange
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

Loving the Loire

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
Sauvignon Blanc
Nice citrus and floral, smooth with a nice bite on the finish

Langloirs Chateau Brut Cremant de Loire
Sparkling Rose
Cabernet Franc, Grolleau
Tart strawberry with a juicy red fruit finish

Remy Pannier Vouvray, 2008
Chenin Blanc
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
Chenin Blanc
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
Cabernet Franc
Dark fruit and olives sitting in a cigar lounge.

Les Poyeaux Saumur Champigny, 2006
Cabernet Franc
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

Super Bowl Sunday

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.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Weekend In Wine

What a weekend to be a wino! So read this quick, pick an event, and have a great time! Be sure to report back about where you went.Wine & Arts Festival of Manassas
Saturday 9/18 - 11 am - 4pm
$10 to drink wine
Historic Manassas Inc., will feature the first annual Manassas Wine & Arts Festival at Old Town Manassas. Attendees can taste the fare from local Old Town Manassas restaurants, while local artists showcase their work! Live entertainment by local entertainer, Jason Paul Curtis will headline the event with The Fabulous Bob Meyers Trio
Old Town Manassas
Battle Street
Manassas, VA 20110


Saturday 9/18 & Sunday 9/19
$25 Admission
Carroll County Farm Museum
Westminster, Carroll County

2010 Virginia Wine Festival
Saturday 9/18 & Sunday 9/19
$30 admission
Bull Run Regional Park
7700 Bull Run Drive
Centreville, VA 20121

Vintage Crystal
Sunday 9/19 - 2:00pm - 6:00 pm
$20 admission
Come spend a Sunday afternoon in Crystal City tasting some of the world's finest wines. Sample pleasurable eats from noteworthy restaurants and gourmet eateries. The afternoon will feature talented jazz artists from the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival.
Crystal City
2200 Crystal Drive, Between 20th & 23rd Street

Arlington, VA 22216

State shows off its grapes at Maryland Wine Festival

I've been quoted! Can't wait for 'Super Bowl' Sunday...LOL!

State shows off its grapes at Maryland Wine Festival -

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tweet Tweet!

I love Twitter! Well, now that I know how to use it...I love it. Because at first I was not a big fan. Just sending out random thoughts and comments in hopes that maybe someone will hear you and possibly, maybe, hopefully respond back. It was really like having a conversation with yourself, always a good time. But now that I've met other wine professionals and wine bloggers, twitter is great! I participated in 2 Twitter tastings this week, one for the wines of NY, and one for the red wines of Argentina. Already being really familiar with Argentine wines, I was definitely excited going into this one. But I was very impressed with the wines of NY.

Under the hashtag #tasteny, we went through a tasting of a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, NV Red, and 2007 9 Barrels Reserve Merlot. The Sauvignon Blanc was very light and crisp with good acidity and citrus notes. I didn't get a lot of those grassy notes that are characteristic of SB, which is good since I don't like those flavors. This went well with the cheeses and crackers that were available during the tasting. The 9 Barrels Merlot had a nice cherry cola flavor with a bit of herbs and figs. Since I'm not as familiar with producers or the wines of Fingers Lake, NY, this tasting was especially helpful for me and of course it's always better to taste with and discuss wines among wine lovers. But the true highlight of the evening was opening of the Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape as a celebration for our host's new job. And celebrate we did! Made from all 13 of the accepted CdP grape varieties, this is a very earthy dark red wine. Red fruits and spice on the nose with leather, pepper and licorice on the palate.

Next day was the tasting of red wines from Argentina! It's so nice to know people that are in the biz because they know about these tastings...and have the wine. This tasting had 6 or 7 different wines, most of them malbec or malbec was a part of the blend. I was intrigued by the merlot from Luiga Bosca. But my favorite of the night was the Bodegas Norton Privada. It had a nice spicy, earthy thing going on with loads of dark cherries and plums. My host was nice enough to let me take this bottle home. She's alright with me! For other wines tasted and wine notes, see the hashtag #winesofargentina #ttl

Virtually tasting wine with other people all across the US is a different kind of idea but it's really catching on. Hearing in real-time what other people think of the wines, and also being exposed to a people that you wouldn't have met or have anything in common with otherwise... I mean seriously, the internet really brings people together!

I'm looking forward to the next tasting, maybe I'll even host one soon myself!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wines of Alentejo

There are times when I hate living in Washington, DC area.. morning rush hour, motorcade processions, etc. But then DC redeems itself with its magnificent events, like the Wines of Alentejo tasting at the Ambassador to Portugal's residence. Where else would I have this kind of access to an Ambassador, let alone be invited to his residence?! His Excellency Joao De Vallera welcomed us into his home and gave us a warm greeting at the start of the evening.

When most people think of wine and Portugal, they immediately think of Port. But the Alentejo region is quickly becoming recognizable in the international markets. Portugal already knew the value of these wines as 1 in every 2 bottles of wine sold in Portugal comes from Alentejo. The hot sun makes the grapes ripen much more easily, giving a much fruity smooth flavor. While Alentejo is mainly known throughout Portugal for inexpensive everyday wines, they also make some amazing, elegant, sophisticated high quality red wines...they come from the DOC of Alentejo. There are 8 DOC level Alentejo wines - Portalegre, Borba, Evora, Redondo, Reguengos, Granja-Amareleja, Moura, and Vidigueira. Most DOC wines are made from a blend of local grape varieties, Trincadeira, Aragonez (also known as Tempranillo), Castelao, and Alicante Bouschet.

But not only was this a wine tasting, but a gastronomic experience! They truly wanted us to know how well the wines of Alentejo paired with the foods of Alentejo. Young (and hot) chef Jose Avillez, whose restaurant Tavares in Lisbon has a Michelin star, prepared the food to pair with the wines. And he had quite a feat ahead of him! Most of his authentic Portuguese foods and spices were unable to make it past customs, so Chef Avillez had to create a Portuguese meal from foods he found at Whole Foods Market! Rui Falcao, Portuguese wine critic and Jay Youmans, MW of Washington, DC walked us through the region on Alentejo and its wines.2009 Paulo Laureano
Grape: Antao Vaz
Pairing: Sauteed scallops, mushrooms, pineapple and aromatic herbs
Very reminiscent of a viognier or tropical fruit chardonnay, this wine had bright, crisp flavors of pineapple and citrus fruit rind. A nice hint of spice was found on the finish.

2008 Pera Manca
Grapes: Antao Vaz, Arinto
Pairing: Bacalhau a Bras (Codfish in Bras's Way)
Full-bodied with an oaky texture, the acidity paired up nicely with the salty codfish. Green apple and citrus fruit aromas make this a wine I would love to have a bottle of to enjoy at home.

2008 Adega Cooperativa de Borba Reserva
Grapes: Trincadeira, Aragones, Castelao, Alicante Bouschet
Pairing: Stuffed Tomatoes with Alheira (Sausage) and Sprouts
Aromas of strawberry and dark cherry made provided a great backbone for this wine and the tobacco notes added a bit of complexity. Its strong acidity made this pairing melt in my mouth! And what a finish!

2006 Herdade Perdigao Reserva
Grapes: Trincadeira, Aragones, Cabernet Sauvignon
Pairing: Stuffed Tomatoes with Alheira (Sausage) and Sprouts
Deep color with a nice full body. Dark fruit flavors blend with spicy chocolate and tobacco to provide great structure and a long finish

2007 Herdade do Esporao
Grape: Alicante Bouschet
Pairing: Lamb with Chickpea Puree
Alicante Bouschet is such an aromatic grape. Aromas of dark berry, stone fruit, coffee, and vanilla hit my nose with just a quick sniff. On the palate was a rustic spicy flavor. And a hint of cherry licorice...who would've known that would pair so well with lamb!

2007 Herdade Sao Miguel Riserva
Grapes: Alicante Bouschet, Aragones, Cabernet Sauvignon
Pairing: Lamb with Chickpea Puree
Deep and dark colored in the glass, a bouquet of plum, vanilla, and coffee. An excellent match with the lamb as the spice and mocha flavors played very well together

2007 Marques de Borba Reserva
Grapes: Trincadeira, Aragones, Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Sauvignon
Pairing: Prime Rib with Quail Egg & Vegetables
Notes of jammy red fruit and spices. Very elegant, this wine will get even better if left to age for a few years

2008 Herdade dos Grous Riserva
Grapes: Alicante Bouschet, Tinta Miuda, Touriga Nacional
Pairing: Prime Rib with Quail Egg & Vegetables
Another deep dark colored wine, perfect for pairing with the proteins in the prime rib. Hints of toast and spices, possibly from wood aging, and rich flavors of plum.

2007 Marias da Malhadinha
Grapes: Aragones, Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Sauvignon
Pairing: White Bean Stew with Pork
Dark fruits and toasted aromas where present at first sniff, 2nd sniff revealed almonds and tobacco notes. The flavor was rich and elegant with strong minerality leading to a long finish.

2005 dona Maria Reserva
Grapes: Alicante Bouschet, Petit Verdot, Syrah
Pairing: White Bean Stew with Pork
Meaty, spicy aromas lead into flavors of cherry and raspberry. A very well balanced wine with silky tannins and a persistent finish. The fruit in the wine paired well with the salt from the pork.

2007 Herdade do Mouchao Tonel #3-4
Grapes: Trincadeira, Aragones, Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Sauvignon
Pairing: Stewed Beef with Marrow
This wine is almost purple in the glass! Little fruit on the nose, mostly eucalyptus and mint. But with heavy tannins on the palate tasted and flavors of dried red fruit, great match with beef. I asked for a little bit more in my pour since this wine retails for about $120.

2005 Quinta do Mouro Rotulo Dourado
Grapes: Alicante Bouschet, Aragones, Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon
Pairing: Stewed Beef with Marrow
Earthy with hints of mushroom and oak on the palate but very closed on the nose.

This was an amazing experience! We didn't just have the opportunity to taste some amazing wines from Alentejo, but they were expertly prepared and paired with authentic Portuguese cuisine! And if you didn't notice, my wine notes became shorter as my stomach got fuller! I thought they were going to have to roll me out of the Ambassador's house. The Alentejo region of Portugal is definitely up and coming in the US and one to look out for when looking for an easy drinking, affordable wine to pair well with your meal.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rain Rain Go AWAY!

It's a beautiful warm day, the sun is shining, I'm wearing a bright (cute) summer dress and I'm skipping up 18th St NW at the Adams Morgan Day festival heading towards the funnel cake stand....

In my head.

On planet Earth, it's cloudy, drizzling, gloomy, and I'm at home on the couch wearing jogging pants. Hopefully the rain will clear up so I can at least get my funnel cake, summer is fleeting quickly so there won't be too many more chances for that fried powdery goodness. No worries though, I'm just going to finish off this bottle of Hope Estate Wollemi Shiraz. It's dark color and spicy berry flavors are perfect for watching the raindrops fall.

UPDATE: The rain stopped! I'm out of the house and sitting at the bar at Slaviya Lounge in Adams Morgan, DC looking out at the festival. A crisp, strawberry colored glass of Bodegas Chivite Gran Fuedo Rosado is in my hand.

This rosado was made from the saignée method with red grapes: after a maceration of approximately 24 hours, the juice is separated by gravity with no mechanical pressing, thus being a free run juice wine. It's flavors make me reminiscent of summer but looking forward to fall. A great transition wine, the bright fruity strawberry and raspberry notes on the palate, but a nice acidity and minerality on the finish. Great complexity with many aromas and flavors from this rosado made from Garnacha Tinta, one of my fave varietals. And I did get my funnel cake!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The GrapeVine Digest

Give It A Swirl
Try a cool glass of wine for those hot summer days. Enjoy!

White – Las Colinas del Ebro Garnacha Blanca (Spain)
Made from 100-year-old vines and fermented and raised in stainless steel. Medium straw-colored, it displays a perfume of mineral, candle wax, baking spices, nutmeg, and pit fruits. On the palate it has plenty of spicy fruit, good depth and concentration, and medium length. Drink this very good value over the next 1-2 years.

Rose – Albermarle Rose 2009 (VA)
The round, crisp wine offers flavor reminiscent of sweet candy and cherries, delivering excitement more than just simple fruit. The nose is complex and floral with an essence of candied rose petal and fresh, peach hints.

Red – Hope Estate Shiraz 2007 (Australia)
A smooth, juicy palate with intense berry fruit. Rich mocha and spicy plums lead to an earthy finish. Soft, defined oak characters combined with silky tannins give the wine complexity and great length.

Wine Festivals
With the cooler weather, it’s time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors with some wine!

Saturday & Sunday September 11th & 12th – 12pm - 6pm
Great Grapes
With over 20 Virginia wineries participating, this is an inexpensive way to see Virginia Wine Country right in your own backyard. Take your sample glass and enjoy samples from all your favorite wineries. Tix only $25 onsite.
Great Grapes 11811 Freedom Drive Reston, VA

Saturday & Sunday September 11th & 12th – 11am - 6pm
Arts on Foot!
Sample wine from around the world including award-winning selections from New Zealand, Argentina, and Cellar No. 8 of California. Also enjoy numerous arts and fun activities at the festival. Fun and excitement for the whole family!

Arts on Foot 7th & F St NW Washington, DC

Wednesday September 15th – 6:30pm
Look, Swirl, Smell, Taste, Savor

We ask that each lady bring a bottle of wine for tasting or a snack. We will taste, experience, and learn about each wine while enjoying good company and snacks that pair perfectly.

Little Black Dress Club Annapolis, MD (443) 333-7689

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Go For The Gold - Update

The winners of the Maryland Governor's Cup have been announced. Congratulations to Fiore Winery's Sangiovese 2007 for winning the Best in Show! The rest of the award winners are listed here Go out and pick up a winner soon! Or, visit all the wineries in one place at the Maryland Wine Festival, September 18th and 19th. Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 3, 2010

#Cabernet Day

So, I'm a complete wine nerd. How else do you explain coming home, opening a bottle of wine, taking pics of the bottle and the glass, and posting my pics and thoughts on twitter? And PRESSED to see what other people were drinking and thinking... Clearly you agree with me! But so what, I love it! For one, I'm completely addicted to twitter, and second, the wine community out there is fantastic!

Cabernet Day ws a social media event organized by Rick Bakas of St Supery Vineyards where people got together and had parties to drink and tweet about various varietal Cabernets (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc) or blends (Bordeaux, Meritage, etc) and posted their reviews and pics on Twitter or their blogs. People as far away as Australia tweeted about their wines and some even held wine tasting parties. It was interesting to hear some of the comments and also see some of the people on UStream that did live video of their events. Search #cabernet on twitter for a recap of some of the conversations.

I kept it local and had the Albemarle Rose from Kluge Estate Winery in Charlottesville, VA. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Malbec (Bordeaux Varietals) this wine tasted like a Jolly Rancher candy. Sweet cherry flavored mixed with juicy peaches...this wine was perfect for the 90 degree day we had, and my long day at work. To pair with this wine and keep it local, I ate a Maryland crabcake. I had a few other wines that fit the bill for Cabernet Day, but didn't want to open too many bottles to drink alone. I'll definitely have to fix that for the next time, the #HolidayWine event won't catch me drinking by myself again!