Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Outset Sparkling Wine & Blueberry Tea!

13 Feb


Outset Sparkling Wine, Genesis Wine Group, Between the Lines Winery, Niagara-On-the-Lake, ON

Vidal grapes, sparkling wine 10% ABV, 250ml, $5/CAN.

 

Why did I think this one would be better? It tastes like someone spilled a splash of ginger ale in your sauvignon blanc.
OK, that’s harsh, but I actually liked it. The entire time I was drinking this wine in a can, I enjoyed it.

It’s way better than a warm beer. There’s a hint of citrus. A tiny note of spice. (Ginger. She was spicy, right? She just wasn’t a Spice Girl…. let’s see:  Sporty Spice, Scary Spice, Kinky Spice, & Trashy Spice? I’m missing someone.)

Maybe it’s that real wine makes me feel like an adult with a palate, and this goes down like a wasted twenty-year-old who doesn’t know what they are doing. But you remember that person, and you adored them for trying so hard. And you brought them to a party the next weekend and let them try again afterwards.

This is a guilty pleasure wine. I could drink four of these while playing a game of golf, or lounging by the pool. Or while fishing off the coast of Miami, the beer was NOT helpful then, I can sadly confirm. This Outset would have been great.

This is another wine in the can that I can stand behind. At the right time, in the right place, this is awesome. 
There’s a time and place for everything. This was one of those things that happened in Canada.

 

Speaking of things that happened in Canada, have you ever heard of Blueberry Tea?

I had not, until I went with friends for a Sunday Brunch in Canada and saw on the menu, ‘blueberry tea’. This should be Ceylon orange pekoe (but mine was English Breakfast, who knew?) in a tea pot. And served alongside that teapot is a snifter with half Amaretto and half Grand Marnier (three quarters or an ounce of each)to be  blended with the tea, and garnished with an orange peel. Mix to your own delight. When you drink it, it tastes reminiscent of blueberries and is highly warm and inviting. With a little help from the interwebs, a slew of variant recipes pops up but the key points are the same. Orange pekoe tea with Amaretto and Orange liqueur. BOOM. Delicious, and made me want more, more more, as the Billy Idol song went.  More of the booze, more tea, more everything. Please, sir… I want some MORE!

(Above) The “before” picture. 

(Below) The “after” picture. 

It’s too good, if you’ve not had it before.

 

What’s in YOUR glass? Are you taking risks, and getting out of your comfort zone? I certainly hope so, for life is too short to the same wine (even the best wine) every day. 

à votre santé!

Hidden Bench Fumé Blanc 2016 (organic, Canada!)

4 Feb

Hidden Bench Fumé Blanc 2016, Rosomel Vineyard, Beamsville Bench VQA, Ontario, Canada.   13% ABV, SRP $29.95/bottle.

 

Medium straw in color with a nose of lemon rind and a hint of chalk. On the palate, granny apple is the dominant fruit with a citrus-driven acidity crossing the top and back palate, followed by notes of toasted vanilla and flint. Bright, fresh, crisp, and delightful.

 

I normally prefer chablis, champagne, or muscadet with my oysters. But I asked the server what had a strong, linear acidity and was sold by the glass. He poured me a taste, and then told me, “this one’s local”. That hit me. A local Canadian wine that tasted like this? I was in! Maybe a standard sauvignon blanc would not have has the same impact, but this, my friends, is fumé blanc: a dry, oak-aged sauvignon blanc, a style made famous by Robert Mondavi in the late 1960’s. In that very same style: old world grape, new world approach in their winemaking.

Ready to take it to the next level? This is a certified organic sauvignon blanc that is hand-harvested and sorted, aged first for ten months in stainless steel, and then another eight months in oak.

This fumé blanc was a really nice match for a dozen raw.

 

Rodney’s has product of such high quality that there is no need to load up your oyster with hot sauce or mignonette. You can choose your crab or lobsters in the tanks in the lobby! Plus, Rodney flies in the freshest oysters from their own farms here in Canada and from across North America. Not to be ignored, the shuckers working behind the bar are tremendous! They pick great quality product, shuck with care, and arrange beautifully with fresh horseradish. I suggest a tiny squeeze of lemon, and the brine of the oyster itself. The insider’s tip is to ask for “shucker’s choice” for your oysters, and as the plate arrives, they’ll tell you what each group is and where they hail from. If you choose the right wine, you’ll be in heaven, every time.

Oh, did I mention they have a really nice wine list, including some lovely champagne? Well, they do.
And that’s why it’s my favorite place to visit in Toronto, hands down.

 

à votre santé! 

Wine Gifts for the Holidays 2018

16 Dec

Last year’s End of Year Gift Guide got a ton of responses. Maybe it was because I made video reviews of several products, or maybe it was because people liked what I suggested for 2017. Well, 2018 had me on the road for so many days that I turned down several products when asked to review them,  but never fear! I still have a bunch of great, NEW wine gifts for you. (although you could also choose suggestions from last year)!
These are products that I either use daily, or have used, and stand behind- but have NO association with any the companies. I simply suggest what works for me, and products that I think other wine lovers will like.
(Image Links below will take you to an Amazon product page for your ease of ordering!)

 

Champagne Stoppers!

Because we all should drink more sparkling, but shouldn’t have to finish the bottle. The more sparkling I drink, the more I need these. I started purchasing the inexpensive plastic ones that had a winery’s name on them, and realized that I NEED more of these in my life, so why wouldn’t you?

My two favorites that are easy to find (hello, Amazon!) are:
Madeline Puckette’s Wine Folly Champagne Closure, ($12.99), a classic, professional looking-closure designed for traditional champagne bottles, and will keep them fizzy for days after opening!


The Sapore Champagne Stopper ($6.52). A plastic cap with legs that fold under the rim of the bottle. So simple, why didn’t we have these before now?

 

 

Because a) they are so inexpensive AND b) champagne/sparkling wine bottles do vary in size, I went ahead and bought both of these for my parents, so they have options!

 

GLASSWARE!

The Govino Dishwasher safe stemless wine/cocktail glass ($14.36, set of Four 12 oz glasses). Let me be direct: this became my daily drinkware several years ago. I love stemless glasses but my crystal ones are massive, hard to clean, and delicate, so I don’t want to take them outside. But I like being able to take a wine glass in and out- who doesn’t like to drink outside? In my neighborhood, we grill, catch up with neighbors, have a glass of wine, listen to nearby concerts from Forest Hills Stadium that drift over, and watch the sunset in the backyard. And we love to hang out at the end of the business day on the front stoop, and welcome home late-arriving neighbors who would like to taste a glass of whatever we’re tasting. These are, quite simply, ideal for every day use.

Govino:  It’s easy, it’s inexpensive, and safe. I’ve dropped many of them, and broken zero. I’ve only mis-shapen some of the earlier designs that weren’t dishwasher safe with water that was too hot. So now we have an improved version!
If you like a bigger glass, there’s also a 16 oz version. I prefer the 12 oz because it’s perfect whether I’m drinking seltzer, tasting wine, or having a splash of spirits. (The success of Govino has introduced similar champagne flutes, pint glasses, and whisky glasses!) I should also admit, it’s hands down the best portable wine glass to carry with you. I have a group of friends who have a weekly game night, and whenever I join them, there’s a Govino glass in my bag! When I visit my friend’s beach house in the summer, I bring a mixed case of wine, my openers, a Govino decanter, and Govino set of glasses.

 

 

WINE PRESERVERS!

Repour Wine Saver: (4 for $9, 19 for $18) Designed & fabricated by a chemist, these are single-use cork replacements that stopper the neck of the bottle and absorb the oxygen inside the bottle, allowing it to last longer! What a cool idea, and they REALLY WORK! Repour started via Kickstarter and then had a ground-up movement from within the wine industry, which has brought the cost down for general consumers, to a point where they are quite inexpensive. If you try one, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to find these and start using them. It doesn’t get much simpler than this.

 

 

Coravin, Model 2.  ($300 and up.) The best tool in a sommelier’s “by the glass” sales program. Expensive, yes. But this is THE way to drink and preserve older wine you want to drink in small amounts, and Model 2 features significant improvements over the original model. The Coravin pressurizes the bottle with argon as it removes wine from the bottle by inserting a syringe through the cork, which re-heals after the syringe is removed. It allows your wine to continue to age without exposure to oxygen, so you could pour yourself an ounce of that Latour or Petrus every night for a month, or once a month for several years, if you prefer.

 

 

 

If you really, ABSOLUTELY are looking for a specific bottle of wine as a gift and MUST have my opinion, email me directly with as much information about your recipient as you have and your ideal wine budget, and I’ll do my best to give you a great suggestion! 

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS !

à votre santé!

Journey to the Jura with Puffeney 2.0

14 Mar

Frédéric Puffeney 2015 Arbois Trousseau. 13.5% ABV,  between $25-28/bottle, street price.

 

Trousseau. Most Americans don’t know what it is. It’s a grape, one also called by many names in Europe over the last several hundred years, sometimes names like Bastardo, Gros Cabernet, Semillon Rouge, or other nicknames.  What you should know is that it accounts for about 5% of the wines grown in the Jura AVA of France, and it can provide some delicious wines.

Color is translucent maroon. The nose offers a sweet red plum, sour cherry, and green herbs with a secondary note of black soil and wet moss. On the palate, subtle fruit pair with a strong acid/tannin combination make this a powerful food wine. Bright and brisk cherry and raspberry dominate the fruit profile with sage and mixed peppercorn with hints of  limestone, granite,  tree bark and forest floor. Beautifully dark and brooding, this Trousseau is pinot noir’s cousin: instead of a mature  and brilliant youth, trousseau presents like an angry young man at first, then shocks you with tremendous pairing power and a likeability that warms you up slowly but steadily. While the traditionalists will tel you to pair this with morbier or comet cheese, I will tell you that roast chicken, delicate grilled meats, or ratatouille are perfect matches for this wine.

Lastly, the pedigree. Jaques Puffeney stopped making wine years ago, but his nephew Frédéric has taken the helm in supporting the wines and terroir of the Jura. Well, fear not- he’s doing something right. His wines are fascinating, compelling, and delightful. You may have to look for them, but when you find them, his wines will win you over.

 

à votre santé

 

Markus Wine Co. “Blue”, 2015 Lodi Red Wine

20 Feb

Markus Wine Company “Blue” 2015 Vintage Red Wine Blend, Lodi, California, USA. 90% Zin, 5% Petite Verdot, and 5% Petite Syrah. 16.5%ABV, $39/bottle SRP.

 

Color is deep maroon. Nose is a complex mixture of plum, cassis, and notes of dried herbs, iris and lavander.

In the mouth,  strong black cherry and deep red raspberry zing across the palate with an underlying bolt of heat from the alcohol. Secondary notes are of allspice, cumin, cut leafy greens, and clay. On the long and zesty finish: blueberry, black plum, vanilla, and silica. Not a fruit bomb, this is an Iron Man/SEAL team wine: seriously agile, ropy & muscular. This wine can do any task you ask of it, but it will go in with guns blazing and leave you wondering what just happened.

I first opened this wine a month ago, and came back to it again and again (thank you, ArT Wine Preserver!)  Each time, my mouth told me to stop thinking about the wine and just enjoy it. Down went the wine, and up went my smile.

 

 

When I initially opened this bottle, my reaction was that the wine was just a touch hot, perhaps a bit of a mouthful. But as soon as I paired it with food? Oh yes! My initial choices included chicken fajitas, baked cheese, and grilled steak, and each time Markus’ “Blue” sang, complementing gorgeously. Pro tip: save yourself a sip to pair with a piece of chocolate after dinner, and you will know the meaning of heaven.

While I’m not normally a fan of high ABV wines, after my first couple of tastings, I began to want the wine’s flavor profile all by itself, in the same way I sometimes just want to hit the bike and feel the wind against my face, my heart pound in my chest, the music loud in my head. This wine is as well made as a custom motorcycle: every part is there for a reason, and the sum of the parts is stunning and impressive.

I’m not one to stand back lightly, so here goes: this is a $39 kick-ass red wine that will beat Dave Phinney’s The Prisoner in a blind taste test. For steak houses, they should get orders in early, and for steak or Zinfandel lovers, you heard it from me first: Buy it while you can get it! I’m a huge fan of Phinney, but Markus is the up-and-coming winemaker who is looking to stand with the giants of the game. And his product is limited, for now. I can’t wait to see what Markus Niggli does next-  he has extreme talent and seems to want to make the best wines that California can offer in a myriad of styles!

 

Look out, and stand back… and please let me be there when it happens.

 

 

 

Am I BLUE? Only that the wine bottle is empty. 

 

 

à votre santé!

End of Year Gift Guide: Vacanti’s Spirale, ArT Wine Preserver, Wine Nots & Capabungas!

25 Dec

Hello my wine-loving friends!

As the USA’s antiquated wine laws and three-tiered sales system have shaken up wine shipping in the USA, I’m suggesting wine-related PRODUCTS instead of actual bottles for your friends & loved ones! So, here are your stocking stuffers, end of year & start of year wine-related gifts for your family, friends, or yourselves- anyone who loves wine. Legal Disclaimer: Some of these were free samples provided for review, others I paid cash for. Each of these does what it is advertised to do! The opinions expressed about them are purely my own, and you should be glad I’m not posting my “didn’t make the cut” items.

Spirale Wine Glasses by Vacanti, $50/pair

These 24-oz Bordeaux-style glasses are dishwasher-safe, large and in charge. More importantly, they have a corkscrew design in the bottom of the glass that catches sediment so it doesn’t reach your mouth and you don’t have to strain or decant unfiltered wines, older wines, or wines that are heavy in sediment- you know what I’m talking about! What wine lover hasn’t had a mouthful of “yech” when trying to get the last dribs of a beloved bottle? Check out the (thankfully short) video I made about these:

 

 

Here’s a comparison shot of a 12Oz. Burgundy glass on the left, with the 24Oz Spirale design on the right, which reaches up to the top of the photo.

 

A close-up of the corkscrew design in the bottom of the glass.

 

Wine Nots, $10/box of 12 online

A Wine Not is an effervescing tablet that removes red wine stains from your tongue and teeth. I first saw them at the Wine Bloggers Conference, where I jumped at the opportunity to try one after a day of tasting red wines -my mouth was a deep purple and my teeth looked frightening! One lemon-lime tablet on my tongue and you can feel it working, like an alka-seltzer for wine stains. And yes, it DOES remove the wine stains! Here, check out my video:

 

I don’t suggest trying to talk with a Wine Not in your mouth. As you see, talking  doesn’t work well, but the Wine Not will!

 

ArT Wine Preserver, $15/bottle (approx 130 uses)

Developed by an engineer whose research led him to determine that in the USA alone, $1.5 BILLION dollars of wine is wasted annually. This product is actually argon, which, being heaver then air, allows you to easily replace the air in your opened wine bottle with a layer of protective argon against the wine in the bottle, which helps it to remain fresh longer! I’ve been using this for over a month with stellar results; it works beautifully!  Again, I have a silly short video below:

 

And last but not least,

Capabunga Wine Sealers, $10-13/package online

Capabunga Wine Sealers are wine bottle sealers made specifically for both still and sparkling wines , with the latter being called the CapaBubbles! Instead of re-corking your bottle, after opening this is a great little sealer that allows you to put the wine bottle in the rack upright OR back on its side after being opened. Broken cork? No worries! I love these little re-closure devices- and they work well in conjunction with the ArT wine preserver, above (wink, wink!) I first saw these at #WBC17 thanks to the Luscious Lush Thea Dwelle and I have adored the ones I purchased. And yes, as I stated above, when you turn the bottle on its side, the seal stays firm and wine doesn’t leak out! The cap is easy to remove and doesn’t break off in your hand, and they are reusable. What’s not to love?

 

 

Sure I’m suggesting these during the Holiday Season, but they’re excellent gifts any time of year, with many of them available direct and/or via Amazon.

If you try these products out, please let us know how you liked them by commenting below!

 

à votre santé!

Holiday Gift Guide: PLONK Wine Club

16 Dec

Plonk Wine Club

The nitty-gritty: World wines, from 2-12 bottles per shipment, available monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually. Wine prices average in the mid $20-range, 2 bottle shipments start around $50 and have discounts with higher bottle counts. Recommendation: BUY for yourself, or GIFT to your wine loving friends & family!

Etty Lewensztain is a Wine Enthusiast “Top 40 Under 40 Tastemaker”, with PLONK, a wine club that is proudly hailed by Food & Wine, Forbes, Wine Enthusiasts, and Wine & Spirits just to name a few. Etty is also a sommelier with a WSET Level 2 Certification who sources delicious world wines at under $30/bottle. She curates artisanal, small-batch, sustainably grown,  organic and biodynamic boutique wines from around the globe for PLONK. Etty’s club is designed for both the new wine lover who wants to learn about wine, as well as those like myself- jaded oenophiles who know what they like but like trying new and exciting things, and LOVE finding new, small-batch producers who are making their way in the world offering tremendous values. I like Etty because her approach (much like my own, I’d like to think) is almost anti-wine club, and more along the lines of “best friend with killer wine sense”.

Ok- as a jaded New Yorker and admitted former Francophile, you’re thinking, How can you be so positive on this?  Yeah, I know. It’s not the kind of thing I’d usually support, because I get offers to join EVERY wine club in the industry… and almost every one I say NO to, because I tried many of them in my youth and found them lacking. Lacking style, lacking value,  lacking responsibility. Well, this is the first in a long time that I had ANY interest in a wine club that is not from a specific winery, because it comes down to a person with responsibility, taste, liability, and something to lose in the deal. Etty is fun, personable, and responsible. Her club is all about the customer’s comfort- and it shows if you read some testimonials. But let it be enough to say that this is the first wine club with wines in an every day price range where there is an individual’s name and face on the club, with both responsibility for your drinking pleasure and something to lose.  Why do I like her approach? Well first, I liked her wine choices. They’re great! Let me be specific: no where else have I seen this breadth of great independent winemakers: she vends Leah Jorgensen, MeinKlang, Chateau Saint-Amour, Tavel Rosé, classic Chablis…I could go on! But second, she’s an entrepreneur, a freelancer, and obviously it’s the same way I function, just like independent wine producers with limited production. For people like us, EVERY BOTTLE COUNTS!

 

OK, enough of that- let’s hit the wines!

 

Santomas Refosk 2015 by L.N. Glavina, Slovenia. 13.5% ABV, $22/bottle.

Color is deep garnet, with an opaque center. The nose offers dark red fruit, heat, eucalyptus, and forest floor. On the palate, I received full-bodied sour cherry, red plum, with strong tannins and mouthwatering acidity. Final notes of small stones, sodium and red currants.  This is a fascinating wine; I immediately wanted another sip. For a second time, getting that memory of the fruit and a hint of bitterness on the moderate finish, I wanted this with pizza or adjaruli khachapuri (Georgian cheese bread) but it would work with a myriad of flavors. It actually complemented both a wurst and dark chocolate so beautifully, but any flavorful or savory dish would complement nicely. At $22/bottle I’d like to open this with friends and some snacks just to discuss. This is a wine-lover’s delight, for sure- but a foodie wine as well. I’m going to need to find more Slovenian wines!

 

 

Vino de Terruños “Siete” 2015 Rioja, Spain, 13.5% ABV; SRP:Sold Out

Color is ruby with a translucent, magenta center. The nose offers raspberry, blueberry, green cuttings, forest floor, and clay. On the palate, the fruit becomes a reserved berry compote: luscious but restrained, with excellent structure and balance in fruit, acidity, and tannin. The gentle finish has a touch of bitter herb with more clay. This is a tapas-style wine that is easy to start the evening with, pairing nicely with a cheese and dried fruit platter, then olives, and cured meats. A delicate wine that is fun to drink and easy to go down, it is capable of sticking around with gentler main courses and can handle fish, fowl, and pork easily.

 

 

Lusenti “Il Nostro Gutturno” Vino Frizzante 2016, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. 12.5% ABV, $22/bottle.

Color is deep purple (near-opaque) in color. The nose proffers black fruit, wildflowers and effervescence. On the palate, this sparkling red is so much fun! Incredibly dry with black cherry, lilac and violet blossoms, sodium, limestone and pebbly granite, this is  the red you want to drink cold, ice cold- and it delivers back in spades! Perfect for red sauces, red meats from cured to grilled, spicy Thai, Indian, Mexican or Mediterranean dishes, and an ideal wine for vegan/vegetarians to pair with a veggie entree like eggplant, portobello mushroom, lentils, veggie meatloaf, broccoli and spinach. Did I mention it is simply fun to drink on its own?

 

Altos de San Esteban “La Perra Gorda” 2015, Bierzo, Spain. 13.5%ABV, $22/bottle.

Color is deep ruby, with a purple center. The spicy nose offers cassis and black plum, with hints of lilac, lavender, black pepper and clove. On the palate, condensed and reserved black fruit with searing acidity and powerful tannins; the wine is classical in style with elegance that is the polar opposite of the fun label and cork. A long, dry and tightly-wound finish with notes of sandy black earth, and wet leaves.  This is a wine that screams for food, and will complement salty seafood, delicate fish, fowl or vegetables, and can pair will pork chops or wild boar nicely, in addition to dark chocolate and cake for dessert.

 

 

Let’s Get Back to Brass Tacks:

As I said in my introduction to Plonk Wine Club, I like Etty’s approach because not only does she choose good-to-great wines from across the globe, but she is also offering an unusual breadth and history, with a solid value. But don’t forget: unlike corporate-style wine clubs, she has a personal stake in her business: Every bottle counts! As a potential customer, this is where you benefit. You vote with your wallet and your patronage, and this is one where you can cancel at any time, or buy more of any wine you like. It’s a win/win situation, or a wine/win situation if you’ve had enough wine to taste.

And here’s a special opportunity for JvBUnCorked readers: use promo code UNCORKED to get $10 off your first purchase.

 

Etty Lewensztain, PLONK Wine Club: Your Best Friend With the Killer Wine Sense!

 

 

 

à votre santé!

 

Samples were provided for my personal & accurate review in this article;
no promise of positive review given, and no payments offered or received.  
All opinions shared are solely those of the author.

Thanksgiving 2017 Postmortem

25 Nov

Plan: To pair Thanksgiving Dinner with 1) an all-American group of wines, 2) from the wines currently in my cellar.

Challenge Accepted! Since I am an admitted former old world/French wine snob, my cellar does not lean towards a lot of American wines, but I was certain I could do this. I did not give myself time to worry, think, or shop, as I mix the live PA portion of NBC’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and spendthrift  96 hours prior to the meal totally obsessed with the broadcast, not the meal or wines.

READY?

 

GO!

 

Pre-game: something light with a hint of sweetness. Searched my cellar for a bottle of Nimmo or Nuvola from Markus Niggli, but resorted to a great standby from NY State: Dr. Konstantin Frank.

KICKOFF! To begin the meal I wanted a sparkling rosé for a toast, and my guests who would rather drink sparkling the entire meal. I recently touted and planned to serve a great sparkling wine from Sonoma County. I searched my cellar and was lacking American sparkling (I failed twice in a row? Am I getting old?) But a beautiful charm-method Prosecco, a spumante rosé blend of pinot noir and raboso by Carpene Malvolti came to the rescue, and served some of our guests throughout the entire meal! 

2nd Quarter: After the toast, we began a vegetable/beef soup course which features very fresh, sweet vegetables. For this, I wanted a white wine with high acidity that could pair with the savory beef. In replacing my historic Bordeaux blanc blend, I considered viognier & chardonnay, but finally settled on a Rhône clone of Grenache Blanc from Acquiesce featuring a full-bodied mouthfeel and great acidic backbone.

 

 

HALFTIME! As the main meal was being served, I poured first rosé of pinot Vicarious Rosé from Modus Operandi Cellars, and then moved on to the more full-bodied Grenache Rosé from Acquiesce. Both of these are small allocation wines that sell out immediately: Jason Moore of Modus only makes one barrel (25 cases) of his rosé at the demand of his longtime fans; Sue Tipton, owner/winemaker of Acquiesce, sells out her rosé as soon as her club allocation is fulfilled. These wines are quite different but share some similar qualities:  both have the perfect balance of  red fruit and soaring acidity, beautiful freshness and tremendous  vivaciousness. Each represents the grape from which it is made, and the rosé of pinot is delicate, creamy and floral in flavor and palate, while the Grenache rosé has bold fruit, more acids and tannins, and a fuller mouthfeel. Both wines are tremendous at pairing a meal comprised of savory meat, a cornbread stuffing with cranberry and brussel sprouts, green beans and slivered almonds, a rich and savory sweet potato casserole, and fresh cranberry sauce.

 

 

3rd Quarter! As the meal progressed, some wine drinkers automatically start looking for red grapes. So the next set of wines are obvious: pinot noir! I have been thinking about this meal all year long, and changed up my game. On the lighter side, the perfumed nose and delicate mouthfeel of Harmonique’s 2009 vintage The Noble One Pinot from Alexander Valley, while compared to a just-released, full-bodied, more heavily structured Sonoma Coast 2015 pinot noir from Rivers-Marie, hailing from Calisotga, Ca. Simply delicious, each one hit a slightly different series of notes with food to serve the palate wonderfully. While I poured small tastes and then full glasses for some guests, others like myself wanted short pours to be able to change up sips of heaven between bites of dinner.

 

 

On The Bench/Special Teams:  Bold red wine! I had a big, bold red wine from a Napa producer on reserve at the serving table, but ended up not opening it. Even my big, bold red wine lovers were satisfied with the two pinot noir offered. But for special teams, with dessert we enjoyed a stunning mulled wine (Cabernet Sauvignon mulled with brandy, spices and fruit) made by a wine & spirits specialist who graced our dinner and brought this our delight. YUM! Extra Points!

 

Postgame: my plan had some flaws.  Not having a brut rosé from California was a major sticking point, I had to dock myself 12.5%.  But the food & wine pairings and guests drinking pleasure were both great successes, which received full marks! I give myself a B+  on this challenge. 

 

What did YOU drink this year for Thanksgiving?

 

à votre santé!

Prepping for Thanksgiving 2017

22 Nov

Thanksgiving. It’s that time of year. When my in-box fills up with questions about what wines people should serve with dinner. But I’ve spent the last several weeks in a whirlwind of one-off specialty shows for work, road trips, and trade shows. I’ve been lax  in both my tasting and writing, so apologies while I catch up.

Perhaps you’re expecting me to roll out a re-hash of some fan favorites for Thanksgiving, like

“Prepare with Pinot!” , or

“Thanksgiving Wine Street Exchange with a Beer Drinker”

I have posts dating back seven years. It’s fun to see posts from 2010, talking about how well the ’05 and ’06 wines were drinking, and what I was buying for $10/bottle. For me, it’s even more fun to see how much I’ve learned about world wines, and the US-based wines and winemakers I have come to adore and respect as much as the old-world I’ve honored for decades.

So let’s talk about Thanksgiving. I’ve said this before: The meal is decidedly American. So I urge you to serve American wines! For years I simply served what I liked (French wines) before having the (obvious-to-all-but-me) realization that the uniquely American holiday really deserved local wines. So I hit the cellar (or the wine store) and pull bottle after bottle of tremendous American wines, as I hope you will do. And here’s what you want to look for:

Rosé, Pinot Noir, & Sparkling.  

Drink pink. Why not? The meal is full of savory dishes that need a wine with acidity but not an overpowering fruit profile. This has both the delicacy of white wine with the muscle and linearity of a good red. Pairing? Turkey or ham, yam or Idaho potato, stuffing, gravy, you name it- you want a wine with high acidity that can stand up to the cranberry sauce! The world finally fell back in love with rosé- and again, why not? It’s great juice to enjoy, it’s relatively easy (or fast) for winemakers to create compared to some other wines, and you can get great rosé wines for lower prices. Most importantly, it pairs beautifully with the meal.  

Three of my personal favorites are from California: Jason Moore’s Modus Operandi Rosé of Pinot, Sue Tipton’s Acquiesce Grenache of Rosé (now sold out thanks to a great Wine Enthusiast Rating)  and Iconic Wine’s Secret Identity.

Look, a bunch of people make really good rosé, but the three I’m listing are simply great. They are stunning wines, and a tremendous value if you’re willing to spend the time to source them. I certainly do, and plunk down my credit card whenever I can to get more. If you taste them, you will likely do the same; as they are amazing rosés that just one taste will make you a believer.

 

Pinot Noir. Tiny grapes that are hard to grow and don’t produce much juice. Oh, but the juice they produce! Light to medium in body, beautiful aromatic nose, gentle flavors, regal in their acidity and tannin. The grape that is probably the most flexible in food pairings. I’m madly in love with this as a wine to pair with food of all types that have delicate flavor profiles as opposed to massive ones, like a rib eye steak or smoked brisket. So I look at pinot from all over California,  Oregon and Washington State. Some of my personal favorites include Sanford Winery,  Gary Farrell, Balletto Vineyards, Domaine Serene, Evening Land, Anne Amie, and Panther Creek Cellars.

Sparkling. It goes with everything. Great acidity, delicate flavors, perfect palate cleansing, and fun. What’s not to like?
All year long I spout about Cava, Prosecco and Champagne, but here in the USA we also make stellar sparkling. Gloria Ferrer, Schramsberg, Argyle, and Roederer Estate are just a few fabulous makers of sparkling here in the USA worth your hard-earned dollars.

And if I could only serve ONE bottle of wine for Thanksgiving? It’s extremely difficult. Normally I serve around six wines, for a table of 15-20 who have varying tastes. But I tried VERY hard this year, and finally picked three bottles out, that would serve the meal, and the wine lovers, to perfection:

Acquiesce 2016 Grenache Rosé  
Balletto 2016 Sexton Hill Pinot Noir, 
Gloria Ferrer 2014 Brut Rosé. 

And if there can be only one, the winner is:

Gloria Ferrer 2014 Brut Rosé

 

But I’d be damned if I couldn’t figure out a way to sneak the other two bottles in with me. Trust me… where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Stay tuned for my annual Thanksgiving postmortem,  where I discuss what wines I served, how the guests responded, and how well the food & wine pairings worked!

 

à votre santé!

 

 

 

 

Ehlers Estate Sylviane Rosé 2016

3 Aug

Ehlers Estate Sylviane Rosé 2016, St. Helena, Napa Valley, CA. ABV 12.8%, MSRP $36/bottle.

 

The color of this rosé of Cabernet franc is fuschia. Yes, I said fuchsia. That’s a first for me.

 

Imagine taking the innards of a sweet watermelon and mashing the dripping fruit thru a fine strainer into a sautée pan to make a reduction, cooking it down over low heat for an hour. You add a dozen plump strawberries, the juice of one lime, and one-half of a pint of raspberries. Reduce again for 30 minutes, then strain again, transfer and chill. It’s THAT color, ok? Fuschia! Getting back to the wine:

 

Color is fuchsia. The nose offers greenery of plants: raspberry bush and strawberry leaves, with watermelon vine and rind. There is a definite hint of fruit masked by lush greens; you can sense the fruit, but the plant is hiding them. On the palate, beautifully tart red berries and melon, then lemon-lime citrus. The acid appears as gorgeous lime zest, with sandy chalk on the finish. But you probably won’t spend any time thinking about the flavors, the essence, the notes on the medium-long finish. You’re going to drink this and go, “Oh, yes! Let me have some more of that, please?”

 

Trust me. Even the most verbose of astute critics can be silenced by a wine. I’ve seen it happen.

 

 

 

This rosé of cabernet franc is just delightful. Once you get some, you might turn the bottle around in your hand, pick up the phone and call the number on the back, asking to join their wine club so that you can get some of this juice delivered direct to your door. You would not be the first, nor the last, to do so.

 

When I saw the playful, unusual, and delightful color of this wine, I put it away in the cellar and put a note on it: OTBN (Open That Bottle Night). Months later, I spent days choosing a lengthy wine evening (nine+ bottles) and as I secured treasures from my cellar, I pulled this bottle out, wiped her clean, and put her squarely in the middle of the tasting: bottle #5. Part of me wanted to make this bottle #1, as with the recent steamy weather, it would be easy to start, continue, and end the evening on one wine -if only I had a case or more to play with. But with ten guests and one bottle,  everyone could get a fair pour, and that would be that. But it would be absolutely delicious!

 

 

‘Celebration’ Dinner wines. Not including the aperitif  Vinho Verde or additional after-dinner drinks, such as a 1962 Bas-Armagnac. 

 

Kevin Morrisey as a winemaker is quite similar to me as an audio engineer or production manager. In my world, the star gets what they need, everything in the production is highest quality,  done right, and the audience gets a PERFECT performance -the way show business is supposed to be. It doesn’t matter what happened on the way to the venue, during the load-in, or what technical issues might arise- anything could be in the way.  We overcome, and the audience gets the best show possible, period.
Similar to producing an event from a single idea, Kevin raises his “stars” from seedlings, grooms and cares for them with love on the vine, trimming the canopy for both protection and optimal sun exposure. He harvests them at the perfect time, uses the least intrusive measures (100% organic) to get the maximum result. He presses them with a champagne press. The wines see fermentation only in stainless steel, before bottling. No matter what happens during the growing season or after crush, he overcomes: his eye on the prize. Kevin treats this wine with both passion and scientific expertise, with love and the utmost of care- as he only wants to make sure the person who gets to drink his rosé will love the results and the message in the bottle. The best wine possible, period

There is a reason why this rosé is both priced comparatively with the finest rosé wines from Provence, France, and why it may be difficult to find months after release: This wine is just that damn good! Production size is low, and demand is high. And that’s why you should seek it and drink it. This is NOT the “drink me every day” rosé. To me, this is the engagement, anniversary, amazing dinner, or special event rosé. I call it like I see it, but you have to do the same.  Of course, if  YOU can secure a few cases, it could be the “drink me any day that ends in Y” rosé. If that’s the case… invite me over for a bottle!

à votre santé!

%d bloggers like this: