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Okay folks I know I promised you another installment of the highlights from the 2010 Family Winemakers of California Tasting and so here it is, this time I will be casting the spotlight on Mr. Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wineswho in my opinion produces some top [Rhone Varietals]quality red, white, andRoséwines from leading vineyards throughout Santa Barbara County. He's also the Enologist and assistant winemakerfor Fess Parker Winery, a well-respected winery in the Santa Ynez Valley. This was my first time actually to catch up with [the very busy] Larry Schaffer, as we've known each other through social media circles for sometime, but never met in person. He'sas gregarious in person, as the wines he makes. If you have not heard of this label before, let me tell you this, if you like Rhône wines and varietals you just can't go wrong with Tercero Wines. To be fair and objective [in other words not to sound like a cheerleader]with that previous statement I didn't like them all, that said the one's I really liked were not just good, they were very good! About Tercero: According to what I could glean from their website, Larry Schaffer had been in the educational and trade publishing industry for a number of years and had achieved all he had set out to do.Buthe thought itwas time for a change, sohewentback to school and achieved a second degree, this one in Viticulture and Enology with great sacrifice to him and his wifepersonally. Fast forward four years and Larry begins his new career in earnest as the Enologist for Fess Parker Winery. Fast forward another year, and Larry [with his wife]is ready to ‘take the plunge’ and start buying grapes to make their own wines! The rest as they say, "is history" and a new winery is born. Congratulations!About the vineyards:According to their website, "This vineyard, located in eastern Santa Ynez, was planted in the fall of 1999. It is comprised of approximately 250 acres of vines, with a plethora of varieties planted, including syrah, grenache, mourvedre, cinsault, counouise, carignan, grenache blanc, viognier, marsanne, rousanne, and more". They also have vineyards in Larner Vineyard – Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos, Tierra Alta Vineyard – Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos, Thompson Vineyard – Los Alamos and coming soon Watch Hill Vineyard – Los Alamos. For more details about theTerceroVineyardsplease click on the link.Okay is here are the wines I really liked that day and the score they achieved:This is the wine I really liked the most, it's the2006 Cuvee Christie and it falls to the lush side of taste equation. It is made up of 60% grenache, 30% syrah, and 10% mourvedre. Each component was fermented and aged separately, and the final blend was ‘combined’ about a month before bottling. The wine is named after his "partner in crime" [aka, his wife Christie]. This was my second timeto samplethis wine and was of one his first bottling under this new label. I ordered a couple of bottles, upon the initial offer acquire some of his wine. I scored this wine 94 points and it's a fantastic representation of a Châteauneuf-du-Pape style red wine, the classicGSM formula. It sells for a mere $28 and is under a Stelvin closure as all of his wines are and he assures me with a study that it is just as good or even better than a traditional cork closure.He already has the 2007 Cuvee Christie in the bottle and it's admittedly a departure from the 06, in that it's a little more reserved in style and fruit substance. Nevertheless, this wine has a interesting flavor range from blackberry, cherries clear through to milk chocolate, currants and bacon. Framed alongside some intense tannins that make it a bit austere. I scored this wine 90 points and believe it will get better with a little more bottle age. I believe it's being sold for the same price as the 2006.I really love a good Grenache and when I come across a good one I like to tell the whole world, so may I introduce to you the Tercero 2007 Watch Hill Grenache which is on the spot and sweet, with black cherry and roundness on the nose, followed by ripe plum and berry flavors on the palate. About as good as an inexpensive Grenache will get I scored this wine 91 points and a real crowd pleaser to be sure and selling for a mere $28, get it while they last.On the white side of the equation, the standouts for me were the 2008 The Outlier
, selling for $18. This is a 100% Gewürztraminer made from thirty-year-old head trained vines from Los Alamos. The very fragrant nose could easily fool you into thinking this wine a sweet; instead the firm acidity keeps that aspect under firm control. A great everyday drinking wine which I scored 91 points and I would think it will pair especially well with a majority of spicy dishes.Rounding out my favorites from the many we sampled, the 2008 Grenache Blanc stood out as wonderful statement of refined elegance,Isay that becauseGrenacheBlanccan be heavy and flabby when coaxed to high yields. However itappears Tercero's morecareful management style, was able toproduce asubtle, yet rich wine even though it wasstainless steel and neutral oak fermented. This wine exhibited honey, almonds and slate aromas on the noseandmy first sip revealedfull, round, but still fresh flavors, intertwined fruit and earthy flavors. Many great pairing possibilities with this wine, I'm thinking possibly a pumpkin risotto, roast chicken, or pork chops with applesauce.I scored this wine 90points and it represents agreat bargain at $18, please give it a swirl.There are more highlights to come, this was a huge event and I visited a little over 13 stations. So there is still much to talk about and bring to your attention, so please stay tuned. Until next time cheers everyone!
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Hey San Diego wine fans, this is the place to be on this wonderful sunny San Diego day. Where else could you possilbly hope to find this much wine to taste for such a low price. So if you don't have plans today, get yourself down to the [Del Mar] San Diego fair grounds and tastes some of the very best wine being made here in our great state of California. I hope I will see you there, until next time Cheers everyone!
When: Sunday, March 14, 2010
1:00-3:00pm Trade Only Tasting
3:00-6:00pm Public and Trade Tasting
Where: Del Mar Fairgrounds, Exhibit Hall (map)
Public Tickets: $45 in advance, $55 at door
Over 200 wineries, all members of Family Winemakers of California, will be at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on Sunday, March 14, for the Association's 2nd annual appearance in San Diego. The Association has held trade-only tastings in Southern California since 2001 and has chosen to return to San Diego for this "one-of-a-kind trade and consumer California wine tasting event." This large tasting will showcase small, family-owned wineries, many of which pour at very few events.
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This is my second road trip up to Paso Robles and this time I took advantage of the Far Out Wineries Passport weekend pass, which entitled me to have tasting fees waived at 17 different participating wineries, with the proceeds of the Passport Sales going directly to the Wellness Community.
This was my first visit to Opolo and frankly not sure if I will be back. My wife and tasted through several of their wines before we were introduced to this lovely Zinfandel. I was thinking wow, so many different wines and there's only one that we like. So many of the wines we tasted were right on the cusp of tasting good or very good, I believe there was just too much of agrip on reins keeping their wines from beingremarkable, instead they were just ordinary. Ibelieve it's hard toknow if it's the winemaking teams philosophy on restraint, the fruit, or a combination ofboth. We tasted much of the 2007 vintage and many of the wineries in the area indicated that 2007 was an opulent vintage.
Never the less some folks really likedtheir winesquite a bit, as they were carrying it out by the cases. Honestly with the prices they were paying the could have saved themselves some money just shopping at Costco or Trader Joes for similar quality wines. That's not to say that neither of those places have great juice at great prices they do, but they also have some rather ordinary wine [everyday quaffers]for ordinary prices.
The tasting room was large and airy. The tasting bar staff was professional and attentive, amidst a fairly large crowd of fellow wine tasting enthusiasts like me. This place was money in terms of the size and scope of its operation. Limos were coming and going and the parking lot was teaming with cars attempting to locate an opening on the some-what smallish parking lot. Most of wine there was fairly quaffable, but nothing really registered in the wow column of my palate, except for one and that is the Zinfandel pictured to your right.
About Opolo Vineyards: According to their website, As Nichols [one of the owners]remembers, “I knew Rick to say hello to, but that was about it. Then one day, he said to me, ‘Hey Dave, I just planted 10,000 grapevines!’ “And so began the evolution of Opolo, one of Paso Robles’ newest labels. Nichols bought vineyard property adjoining Quinn’s and they now together own about 280 acres of vineyards in Paso Robles. There is about 200 acres on the Eastside and 80 on the Westside. The Westside vineyards are in the Adelaide hills, producing wines such as Pinot Noir and Sangiovese, while the Eastside properties produce varietals such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The majority of vineyards have been producing fruit since 1998, and a small percentage of it has been finding its way into wine made by Quinn and Nichols ever since.
In the glass this wine displays as a crisp medium ruby-garnet color standing in the glass, (lacking some extraction ofdeep colorfound in many Zinfandels) but this is not a bad thing either. I believe in their effort to not make super-ripe and jammy wine was accomplished dispite the high ABV, that knocks you over the head, instead they produced a wine that's nothing short of really good.
After putting my fat half Irish nose into the glass, Ifound thiswine exudes an effortless plethora of ripe berry aromas, with a slight licorice aroma in the background. Even after the wine is gone from my glass, I wasstill nosing it to absorb ever last molecule of aromas that I can take in, this wine had me at first sniff.First Sip:
Blackberry, and whole plum flavors wash across the palate in a large wave of nuanced fruit and the carry through of a long, white pepper, and with lean blackberry on a crisp, but well focused finish.This is not the fruit-bombyou may imagine, insteadwhat I found was a"layer-cake" [not to be confused with the label of the same name] of rich, ripe nuanced fruit so telling of what a good Zinfandel should be.
ABV: This is the stunner, the alcohol weighed in at a massive 16.4% but it definitely did not taste hot, as it melded ever so nicely together with everything else going on in my glass. I know many folks are already rolling their eyes and shaking their heads saying, "oh boy just another fruit bomb" and dismiss this wine and my review out of hand.But to everyone else who actually likes their wine to somewhat resemble in someway the fruit it came from, then this wine is for you.
Where to find it and Price:
Now about price, I found this wine at BevMo!
here in San Diego selling for $19.99 and there was just a few left, but with that kind of case production I sure there is plenty more to be ordered. Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score:
Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored90
pointson theCuvee Corner 100 point tasting scale [not really my scale, but adapted from others already made].
Composition: 100% Zinfandel from their West-Side Summit Creek Vineyards in the Santa Lucia Mountains, which comprises about 11 acres.
Treatment: This was barrel aged in American Oak for 15 months, with a little over 10,000 cases made.
With/With-out Food: I had about a four ouce pour while making dinner and it would make a nice cocktail wine. With our dinner that night of some smoky BBQ Ribs and Baked Beans it was a marvelous accompaniment.
Bottom Line: A very focused, balanced and quaff-able wine sure to please any [well just about any]palate or guest who may drop by for dinner.Oh the other hand though because of the high ABV you may want to wait to imbibe this wine, when it's not a school night.What I would call a casual food friendly wine; best paired with just about any food group which may interest you. A good value $19.99 each retail,but at the winery it's selling for $19.00 each. What happened Bev-Mo you didn't get it at a discount? But that said, it's my opinion that this wine is worththe Andrew Jackson they are asking for it and represents a great value.Since there is quite a bit of this wonderful wine made, I would definitely get a case or two. Remember, "stay thirsty my friends" cheers!
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Today's review is focused on the value end of the Chardonnay spectrum and what I found out there’s a lot to like, which is why I chose this wine to bring to your attention today, aside from the very unusual closure and the great name. Do you get the name? Moo equals cows and buzz equals honey, thus you have a wine from the land of milk and honey. So for all you "value" oriented white wine drinkers the CCWB has another wonderful Chardonnay for today's review, brought to by the folks at the "Other Guys" whose edgy [love this word] wine portfolio has separated itself from its former association with Don Sebastiani & Sons [a whole story by itself, which I will not be delving into here]. But if you really are interested here's the link:
Don Sebastiani & Sons restructures, to spin off key wine units ...
Big Wine on Campus: This will come to many as a huge shock, especially red wine drinkers Chardonnay is America's most popular grape, despite the efforts of those in the ABC movement. I say this [pondering] and look at my own wine cellar and for me nothing could be further from the truth. So how can I say here what is contradictory for me, well it appears wine drinkers like myself are the exception [gulp].
So why is Chardonnay so popular? The answer may lie in the fact that it's made in many styles which tend to range from steely [read that NO OAK], mineral laced wines with crisp green apple fruit to wines that are buttery, rich, and laden with tropical fruits. It would appear there's a Chardonnay which can appeal to most every palate and as most everyone knows Chardonnay is most closely associated with France's Burgundy region and now has proven itself successful around the globe, but the variations of flavors, styles and types of Chardonnay run the gamut as mentioned earlier. Another factor may be the fact that the Chardonnay grape is one of the worlds most planted vine and most readily adaptable to a large variety growing regions.
Closures: The Zork as it called, is a new entry wading into the "closure" debate, which has found no closure [pun intended] in the continuing debate to cork or not to cork. So Zork is trying to make an inroads into the industry, with its custom caps, or "closures" which according to Zork, "seals like a screw cap and pops like a cork" and promotes this closure by eluding to its ability to age wines by saying and I paraphrase "The Zork closure allows the wine to age, like a traditional cork" and can be found on other readily recognized brands such as McLauren Vale, Australia-based Red Knot, imported by Seattle-based Precept Wine Brands.
Wine Reviewed: Moobuzz Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2006
Full Disclosure: This wine was NOT a sample, it was purchased by the CCWB for my own personal enjoyment from the Wine Bank here in San Diego, which unfortunately is out of this wine.
First Swirl: After I opened the unique "zork" closure and poured a few ounces into my glass, tilted it toward the light pouring through my patio window, I found a medium straw colored core, fleeing to a pale straw rim.
First Sniff: After I've given this wine a couple good swirls I put my nose into the glass and what hit my god-given sensory apparatus is this; this wine has aromas of freshly toasted bread, caramel crème, and tropical fruits like bananas and papayas.
First Sip: Okay now it's time to see if everything going on with the first sniff will translate in the mouth, what I find is that this wine exudes flavors of rich vanilla custard, lemon shavings, breadfruit, wild flower honey, and fresh oven-baked pears.
Treatment: This 2006 Chardonnay benefited from six-month sur lees aging in the barrel for 30% of the blend. In this statement about how this wine is treated or made prior to being bottled is where the secret lies. What secret you may ask? The secret of finding balance; between the big over-oaked [read that chateau two-by-four] buttery chards and those wines which follow the NO-OAK mantra.
Where to purchase: This wine can be purchased at the Holiday Wine Cellar which is located at 302 West Mission AvenueEscondido, CA 92025-1712(760) 745-1200 or give them a call and if they don't have it they would be glad to order it for you. I spoke with Kathleen from HWC and they are selling it for $14.99.
Price and ABV: This wine represents a real crowd pleaser by weighing in at a mere 13.5% alcohol and the price is equally enticing at the $12 - $16 price range.
Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: I scored this wine 92 on Cuvee Corner 100 point tasting scale. This score is higher than the WE score of 90 for one reason, PRICE. This wine represents tremendous value and is a QPR winner in all respects.
Pairing Suggestions: Do you ever run into this quandary? Oh what to pair, what to pair? I have and what I found is that this wine pairs well with oven broiled rack of pork [seasoned with a bevy of Italian spices and EVOO] and a creamy polenta along side or tuna [ahi] tartare with fresh California avocados or even a BBQ Rotisserie Free-Range Chicken, hungry yet?
My Recommendation: This is a great wine to purchase by the case. It's easy on the wallet and lush on the palate what else could you ask for in a wine? So scour your local wine shops or hop online and get yourself some of this wine today. The word on the street is that the 2007 is just as good as the 2006 so you won't be disappointed either way, but don't wait it will sell quickly at this price.
Other Voices: Okay if everything I said did not sway your opinion about getting some of this great value wine, then here's one from the folks at WE who had this to say about this very good Chardonnay, "Delivers lots of bang for the buck, shows real Chardonnay character, with rich vanilla cream-infused flavors of ripe pineapples, pears, and sautéed banana, buttered toast and honey and at this price, it's fantastic buy that can stand next to Chards costing far more." Best Buy 90 Points Wine Enthusiast
Until next time cheers everyone!
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I was introduced to Cleavage Creek through the social networking platform Twitter, of whom many of you are very familiar. Now the name of this winery does not make me immediately think about wine and may not illicit thoughts of wine for anyone else either. So yes this makes them quite unique and they also have a unique way to help in the fight against this awful disease one bottle at a time.
The owner of Cleavage Creek is Budge Brown who lost his wife of 48 years to breast cancer in 2005, who's is quoted as saying, “My wife died for no damn good reason, it’s time to do something about this,” stresses Brown who is donating 10 percent of the gross profits to help fund research to hopefully find an end to the disease. According to their website, "That’s gross, not net—a huge difference when determining the amount of money that will be contributed." To date, Cleavage Creek and Budge Brown have donated over $70,800 to breast cancer causes. That said this winery has become a revenue raising vehicle for the charity, their cause is the continuing fight against Breast Cancer.
Some Controversy: As with nearly everything in life, there seems to be a study here or there which will state this good for you, then later it's bad for you. So to here comes the rub on drinking wine and a winery that promotes wine consumption as a way to give a charitable donation in the fight against breast cancer. Drinking nightly glass of wine causes cancer
, goes the headline, but once you actually read the study, [I know god forbid] it does not specifically indicate "wine" as thee main culprit as it's touted; it actually says more generically "liquor". Now if that had been the headline, it would not have created the kind of buzz that sells ad-space [see the connection?]. That said, wine has far less abv then nearly all other liquors, thus wine is not as problematic as say vodka. Most wine drinkers are not consuming or imbibing to get a buzz, like their Martini sipping counter-parts. So before you run off ranting and raving, take the time to look up the "study" quoted as evidence of how contradictory Cleavage Creek is in regards to how they promote charitable contributions for Breast Cancer Research. I for one think this is a very worthwhile effort and I want to be on the record for commending their efforts, well done!
Get the Facts: Now it took me a just a few moments to find the study read and understand the context [again I know, god forbid] of the study, this is a great practice for anyone in this media saturated society where headline reading is the norm and the assumption of said facts is taken as gospel. Here's the link to the article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7906355.stm
What Science says: The UK Research scientists cited in the article says, "no amount of alcohol is fully safe", but recommends women should drink no more than two to three units [that's a 1/2 bottle of wine] per day on a regular basis to have a lower risk of any harm to health. For men the recommended limit is no more than three to four units per day.
What is a Unit: A unit = half a pint of beer, a small (125ml) glass of wine, a shot or a small (25ml) [which is half of airline mini bottle] measure of spirits. A small glass (125 ml) of 8% abv wine contains one unit of alcohol. As with everything in life moderation is the key to living a long healthy life, while knee-jerk reactions to headlines read on-line maybe helpful for the exercise of "jumping to conclusions" I don't recommend it!
The Line Up: The Cleavage Creek Cellars line-up consists of seventeen different wines: Here's a sampling of the types of wine you will encounter. Reserve Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, a Reserve Napa Petite Sirah, a Cabernet-Syrah, a Merlot, a Merlot-Syrah, a Reserve Chardonnay, the Secret Red and Secret White. Each bottle features a breast cancer survivor whose story is told on the bottle. The wines are in the $18 to $60 range.
Full Disclosure: The Cuvée Corner Wine Blog was sent samples for review.
Wine(s) Reviewed: 2006 Tracy Hills Secret RedFirst Swirl: Medium body and light colored garnet core with a watery cranberry colored rim.
First Sniff: Aromas of black fruit and cranberry swirl about nicely, but it's a short if not somewhat flat encounter.
First Sip: Complete but not overly exciting either and a little high in acidity department. Some red fruits present, but not overwhelming, with some excess tart on the short finish.
Treatment: This wine is predominately stainless steel fermented with an aged oak treatment for a subtle oak expression.
Abv and Price: It sells for a SRP of $18 with only 330 cases made and weighs in at 13.7% abv.
Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: I scored this wine 85 on Cuvee Corner 100 point tasting scale. A lower price could have earned it a full point higher.
My Recommendation: Since this is my first encounter with their wine I don't feel comfortable making an absolute recommendation one way or the other. That said, I am not a huge fan of wines which have an obvious absence of oak treatment, thus this palate could not endorse this particular bottle, but they do make so many different wines I'm sure they would have one I could give the thumbs up to, just not this bottle. After reading my notes you may just be estatic about buying some Cleavage Creek Wine and I would encourage you to do so. Until next time cheers everyone!
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Our New Year’s celebrations continued with family and friends over the weekend. But instead of an elaborate spread and fancy cocktails, we settled in with simple yet hearty fare and bottles of red. Being The Cheese Ambassador, our guests have come to expect the evening to include a sampling of gourmet cheese. We started the meal with a chunk of 4 year old Gouda and challenged the gang to a mission they were all too happy to accept - determine the best wine match. Aaah, Gouda. A traditional cheese that has been reinterpreted the world over. Gouda is traditionally a cows milk cheese from Holland, but you can now find it made from goat, sheep and cows from an international collection of dairymen.
The Dutch pronunciation of Gouda is “how-duh” with the “how” tickling the back of your throat. A special type of Gouda is called Boerenkaas. “Boeren” meaning “farm” and “kaas” meaning “cheese”. It’s a simple name for a complex cheese. This is not your ordinary grocery store Gouda enveloped in red wax. Boerenkaas is a farmstead cheese made with unpasteurized cow’s milk from a single farm. Deep burnt-gold in color Boerenkaas becomes rock hard and concentrates in flavor as it ages. Break off a chunk and notice the butterscotch aroma. The taste is intense and piquant. Its caramel and nutty flavors are accented by the salty, crunchy protein crystals (a hallmark of aged cheeses) that melt in your mouth.
Winter Wine & Cheese Pairing: This cheese packs a punch and can stand up to full-bodied red wines. We paired the Boerenkaas with two New World, high-alcohol wines – a Merlot from Sonoma and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina. The salty and nutty flavors of the cheese nicely contrasted with the jammy, berry flavors of the Merlot while the piquancy of the cheese matched the bittersweet chocolate notes of the Cabernet Sauvignon. The group was split on selecting the winning match. But that’s the beauty of cheese and wine pairings – there are no right or wrong answers. It’s all about personal taste. [yes indeed if not we would have run out our collective favorite long ago]
Recommended Wine: I would recommend the Hess Collection Cabernet, Allomi Vineyard 2007, as a great wine to that can stand up to a cheese of this type.
Price and ABV: The Alcohol on the bottle indicates 14.5% but could swing a full 1% more and still meet the labeling requirements. That said, this wine is refined elegance for a paupers price, considering the SRP is a mere $24.00. Check with your local place who may sell it for less.
Composition: Okay so you may be wondering what's in the blend, here you go 86% Cabernet Sauvignon 11% Petite Sirah 3% Petit Verdot
Treatment: 18 Months 30% New American Oak
Tasting notes: In the glass color showed dark cherry and crimson. On the palate the gentle spice in the nose and front palate followed by a long tri-berry cobbler mouth feel with good acidity and a nice structure. With persistent and enjoying finish. A very food friendly wine, which is immediately approachable after uncorking and there's no need to decant.
Pairing Suggestion: I'm thinking BBQ roasted chicken, grilled pork, caramelized onions, Baby Back Ribs, sautéed greens, roasted vegetables and aged Jack or a aged Gouda will enhance the fruit flavors in this wine.
Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: I scored this wine 89 Pt's on Cuvee Corner 100 pt tasting scale. Then taking into account this wines QPR score it boost this wines overall score to 92 points.
About Cuvée Corner Wine Blog guest-contributor Sara Kahn:
Even though her passion for gourmet cheese was undying, Sara Kahn found shopping for it to be overwhelming, time consuming and confusing. She established The Cheese Ambassador to offer a simple way to select and serve the world’s finest cheeses. By providing the perfect combination of exquisite cheese along with a comprehensive cheese course guide, enjoying gourmet cheese is now a deliciously enriching experience.
My Recommendation: Sara sent a sample of some of the cheese she has for sale at the Cheese Ambassador and wow let me tell you I was really impressed by the taste and quality of this cheese. It comes packaged very smartly so you don't have any spoilage issues or concerns. So get online and check out all the wonderful cheese products on her site and put in your order. The wine can be purchased at a number of places either online or at your favorite wine store as it's a widely distributed wine, but is an absolute must to have with this pairing or just anytime you want a very dependable great tasting Cabernet that won't break the bank. Until next time cheers everyone!
Written by: Guest Contributor Sara Kahn [thanks Sara]
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In some cultures even the mere mention of the word “drink” is taboo and has negative connotations. While that may be true, you may also be surprised to find that potentially intoxicating liquids like wines and spirits do have their benefits too and moderation is the operative word when it comes to consuming adult beverages. It’s not that imbibing is bad per se, but we can run afoul of any benefits when over indulgence is involved. The way some folks behave after drinking more than their fare share has undoubtedly contributed to some of the negative stereotypes which has been associated with consuming too much wine or spirits. On the flip side of the equation, studies have shown that moderate consumption of wines and spirits are good for our health when imbibed in small amounts, three or four times a week. Abstainers and imbibers alike please take note, below I've outlined some succinct points about the health benefits of drinking wine and if you're interested please read on:
· It’s good for your heart: Alcohol acts as a natural blood thinner and enables the free flow of blood through the arteries, thus reducing the work that your heart has to do in order to pump blood to all parts of your body. So when you have one glass of wine three or four times a week, your risk of heart disease is significantly lower and you are less susceptible to strokes which occur because of blood clots or blocked arteries. A study conducted at the Yale School of Medicine proved connection between drinking red wine (sorry white wine fans) and improvements in cardiovascular health, because of its polyphenol (high in antioxidants) content.
· It slows down the aging process: Grapes are rich in an anti-aging wonder chemical known as resveratrol prevents damage to and repairs cells and blood vessels. It also brings down the level of bad cholesterol and reduces the risk of blood clots. Red wine is a good source of resveratrol, so if you’re in the mood for a drink, make it a glass of red rather than anything else.
. Resveratrol Content: You may be wondering what wines have the highest resveratrol content? Again sorry white wine fans but between white wine and red wine, the red variety has more resveratrol than white because red wine is fermented longer. White wine has about a tenth of resveratrol content compared to red wine. Some even believe that the only reliable non-supplement source of resveratrol right now is red wine. Okay, okay so red wine is the largest source of Resveratrol, but which grape delivers the biggest bang for the buck? Well it just so happens to be the most delicate of red-wines which has the most potent resveratrol-laden and that wine is Pinot Noir. In fact it has been shown that Pinot Noir has more resveratrol than other red wine varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Cabernet Franc. Since Pinot Noir grapes are naturally more delicate and rot easier, and are more difficult in general to grow these grapes need to produce more resveratrol to protect themselves from pathogens. In addition to PN being a bigger source of resveratrol grapes grown in regions that are both cool and moist will produce an even higher resveratrol count than anywhere else. For more information on the Health benefits of wine º Antioxidants, resveratrol, and ... living healthier, please click on the link provided above.
. It is rich in antioxidants: If there’s one chemical that everyone is going gaga about, it’s antioxidants – they’re being praised to the skies for their ability to prevent cancer and boost your immune system. Red wine is rich in antioxidants and if you have one glass five times a week, you could significantly increase your life span and live a long and healthy life. Just look at the French who consume more wine per capita than Americans tend to live a little longer, what they call the The French Paradox (though the fact that they drink wine moderately and slowly with meals, instead of downing shots at the bar, could make a difference).
· It boosts lung function: White wine helps lung function, according to a study conducted by the University of Buffalo’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences which determined that people who enjoyed the occasional glass of wine were found to have better lung function than those who did not. Besides this, wine has also been known to be effective in destroying upper respiratory tract bacteria.
· It prevents tooth decay: Wine has antibacterial properties and has been used for a long time in treating infected wounds. Researchers have only just discovered that wine is capable of killing various strains of oral bacteria that are responsible for tooth decay and even a sore throat. But you want to be careful about (red) wines staining potential, you could earn a new nick name "purple-teeth" if your not careful to imbibe with moderation and stay hydrated.
· It prevents diabetes: Wine, in moderation, helps boost the function of the pancreas and reduces the level of glucose in your blood. This prevents you from being at risk for diabetes during any stage in your life.
While the benefits of wine and wine consumption are not meant to be an incentive for teetotalers to start drinking, it should be regarded by casual drinkers as a lesson in health - five glasses a week is the optimum level, and if you go beyond that, then the negatives tend to far outweigh the positives that wine offers. Here's a toast to your good health, cheers!
By-line: This article is written by guest contributor Shannon Wills, who writes on the topic of Physical Therapist Assistant Schools She welcomes your comments below or at her email id : firstname.lastname@example.org .
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Location, location, location this is mantra you've probably heard on more than one occasion and what is true in Real Estate is also true in vineyard selection. Quite a bit of time, effort and agonizing goes into the process of site selection. It's not just a matter of finding a plot of vacant land where everyone else has planted their vineyard and throwing down some rootstock and grafting some vine clone you learned about in winery management 101. So pain staking is site selection that theirs was the culmination of a twelve year search for a location, which they understood needed to combine the best criteria of top quality Oregon and French terroirs.
That said, the most fundamental and irreversible decision in the life of a vineyard is the choice of site and one now can only hope that after a twelve year odyssey they've chosen correctly, I for one believe they have. Vineyard Site Selection
is a huge topic and not one I wish to tackle in this review as it would really be impossible as well as impractical, but if you choose to understand more about it, feel free to click on this link I've included and have at it!
Focus on Pinot Noir:
Pinot Noir appears to be Carabella Vineyards
main emphasis, they have five different clonal blocks fermented separately, then blended prior to bottling to exhibit the complex potential of the vineyard. They make modest (this where you have balance) use of new French oak, their stated focus is on the, "purity of fruit and elegance of style" according to their winemaker Mike Hallock. Many folks now consider Pinot Noir
as the preeminent red grape, ala a post Sideways era. It has been eluded to in many circles (this time I'm included)
that Pinot Noir is able to covey a sense of place (terroir) better than many of its counter parts. According to Michael Franz
of (WRO), "when PN
is well crafted by a winemaker with a deft hand, Pinot Noir
is uniquely capable of transmitting intricate nuances regarding the climate and soils of the place in which it was grown." this is a statement of which I am in total agreement with and leads me into this thought, most Pinot Noir (any wine really) will fall into one camp or the other either it will be thin, rustic and aloof or it will be a over extracted fruit bomb, neither of which a true Pinot Noir is meant to be.
Where you may ask is this vineyard exactly, the vineyard is located in the newly designated Chehalem Mountains
AVA (American Viticultural Areas
) in Oregon’s Northern Willamette Valley. Their vineyard sits on a 58
acre site, on the southeast side of Parret Mountain, with a southeast slope which would seems to be an ideal. The altitude between 500 to 600 feet and the terrior is composed of gravely volcanic soils, Nekia, Saum and Jory (which is the name of my kids, Jk), which have proven perfect for dry farming according to their winemaker Mike Hallock.
This review will focus around two of the wines from Carabella Vineyards one the Plowbuster Pinot Noir described as a second label from Carabella Vineyard and the other was their 2007 Chardonnay featuring the Dijon 76 Clone and this is the Chardonnay I mentioned in my last post as a very good wine that balances the chasm between NO-oak and a gentle oaking.
Full Disclosure: Both these wines were sent as a sample to the Cuvée Corner Wine Blog for review.
The 2007 Carabella Chardonnay:
First Swirl: In the glass it has a crisply colored straw core and pale straw rim.
First Sniff: After pouring myself a glass, I put my nose into the glass to find aromas of crisp apple and creamy vanilla notes wafting effortlessly from the freshly swirled glass.
First Sip: Ripe and juicy yet restrained (weird I know), with lingering flavors of apple and a mouth coating crème brulée creaminess. Elegant and well balanced, with a subtle spiciness in the finish, akin to a white Burgundian style. In this case it should be call Oregundian, did I just make up a "new" word? Someone check it out for me please, if so I want the credit!
Price: This wine can be found between $23 and $27 in most retail stores and can also be purchased directly from the winery online.
Alcohol and Aging: Weighing in at a mere 13% and for the aging process it was left on yeast lees for 6 months; barrel aged in French oak for 10 months in 13% new oak and bottled last August with just a little over 400 cases produced.
The Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: This wine scored a solid 90 points. This wine would have had a higher score with a lower price point, but with only 400 cases it's hard to keep prices low, just to achieve higher scores.
First Swirl: Into the glass it goes and tilting my glass back to catch the sun beaming onto my patio I found a bright, light colored garnet core, leading to a cerise colored rim.
First Sniff: The swirling above released vibrant berry and brown spice aromas on the nose.
First Sip: Upon initial entry strawberry and a sprinkle of cinnamon, a tepid mid-palate, but classic fine tannins with a silky texture. It finishes nicely with a touch of red berry goodness. Paired nicely with food but it's not built as a stand alone sipper. Possibly this bottle needs another 6 months of bottle aging before it should be opened. I've personally not touched any of my other PN 2007s yet and don't plan to until well after the summer.
Price: This wine can be found online and in retail wine shops for about $17 - $19 depending on where you shop.
The Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: This wine has a score of 89 points.
My Recommendation: Okay here's what I would advise, the Chardonnay is really good and I would grab some if I were you. This wine can be said to "stradle the fence" between the big over oaked Chardonnay and those of the No-Oak ever Chardonnays. Perfectly balanced and a nice compliment to most meals. The Pinot while it is good, it's not a great value in my estimation in terms of QPR and I know this is a second label for them and is sold as value wine. If this wine sold for $15 or less it would be far more attractive.
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Pinot Noir Fans: If you're a huge fan of Pinot Noir (or if you love great blends) like I am, then I believe this one winery you'll want to have on your wine-radar. This is my second trip to the Tasting Room in the last couple of years and some things have changed since my first visit, one is that have a new tasting room down Foxen Canyon Road called simply Foxen 7600 and it's truly just down the road and very easy to find as the entrance is right off the road. This short video above was interview done with one wonderful young ladies from the tasting room staff, whose name is Mo (I hope I spelled it correctly) and make sure to ask for your temporary anchor tattoo. She was there the first time I took a good sized group with me to do the "Sideways" tour. As you will see from the video we went right before Christmas and it was pretty cold. The "Shack" as it has come to be known as does not have much in the way of modern conveniences, but where they are short this aspect, on the flip side the wine never disappoints. This is a great place to visit if one of your first stops is at Cambria, which compared to many other of the wineries in the area is what I would call, "far afield" meaning to me, that it's in BFE. So if that is your first stop of the day, you can easily hit a few great spots on your way to Foxen, makes for a wonderful day of wine tasting.
Foxens Signature Wines: While several varieties of wine are produced by Foxen, there are four vineyard-designate Pinot Noirs which come from the Bien Nacido Vineyard, Sea Smoke Vineyard (which Wathen helped develop), Sanford and Benedict Vineyard and Julia’s Vineyard (of which there are four different wineries with this vineyard designation). These wines tend to be richly concentrated in a "New World" style and offer considerable depth and interest to even the most casual observer. These wines are often dark in color, nicely textured, bursting with fruit on the finish and very nicely crafted, but a word of caution these wines need time to open and benefit from decanting.
Some Current Standouts: For fans of "Bone Dry" Chardonnay who love minerally, high acid wines, these are two to you should grab: The Foxen 2008 Bien Nacido Block UU for the suggested retail of $32 or the Foxen Bien Nacido Vineyard Steel Cut Chardonnay which also sells for the same suggested retail price of $32. This SRP normally means the tasting room price, but you can most likely find it retail wine shops for $5 to $10 less. These wine recieved some very nice scores of over 90 from Wine Entusiast current edition.
Honestly folks I know there is a "hewn-cry" in some (rather snobby) circles (which I'm not in) for these types of wine and yeah know that is great work if you can get it, but I really don't care for these types of wine all too much. To me these types of wine are just the product of a knee-jerk reaction to big, over-oaked, buttery wines, which I totally get but at the same time I don't agree the "no-oak" mantra is the answer either. Many of the folks in the cirlces I was talking about will say that this method lets the pure fruit shine through, to them I say "really"? There is a happy medium and I did receive a sample of one from a place in Oregon called Carabella, and it's wonderful. The full review to come later, stay tuned!
The Wines I took home:
So after tasting what was currently available in the tasting room we (that's my wife and I) walked away with the Foxen Range 30 West 2006
(65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon) selling for a SRP of $35. All the technical details about this wine can be found at the link above in a short and sweet style. This wine has Bordeaux styling written all over it. The aromas escaping from the glass was wonderful mixtures of berries and baking spice, enticing you to drink your whole pour and on the palate it has a silky smooth mouth feel and soft tannins, this wine has great dark fruit flavors that lead on it's sumptuous finish. While this wine is fantastic alone meaning a good cocktail type wine it also lends it self to pairing it with roasted or grilled meats for added enjoyment.
We also took home the 2007 Cuvee Jeanne Marie which sells for a SRP of $34. This wine is like the Range 30 West in like it's a blend. It is becoming real obvious to me that blends are so much better than single varietals in many cases (certainly not all). The blend is composed of 60% Grenache, 33% Syrah, and 7% Mourvedre. With the Mourvedre clones coming from Tablas Creek, no wonder it was so good. With this wine there is plenty of bright red fruit flavors that are immediately accessible right out of the gate. There is also some of that deeper, darker (Mourvedre) fruit bringing up the rear which anchors the complexity and suggests some cellar time might be in order. It’s big boned and explosive in the mouth right now, but with plenty of residual secondary flavors which hang in there, long after the finish. You just may have trouble keeping from opening this one right away, but if you do order online or even buy it from the tasting room, be sure to let it catch it breath first. I believe a certain RP gave this wine 91 points, of which I have to agree.
The last one we took home was the very young 2008 Foxen Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley with a SRP of $34 each. This wine features attractive classic Pinot aromatics of cherry, dried cranberry, and a floral component, with just a touch of alcoholic heat. But like I said this wine is young and should be laid down for at least a year for maximum enjoyment, also decanting on this wine is highly recommended. On the palate you'll find this wine to be light to medium bodied with flavors echoing the floral and fruit aromas, with just a hint of mildly detectable residual sweetness found in the enjoyable finish. A wine built to definitely please New World sensibilities, but might distract old-world fans that like their structured dry finishes.
My Recommedations: This is one of the great"Iconic" places to visit if you find yourself in the area. The tasting room staff is always professional and helpful, if you go in the summer months be prepared for large crowds as Foxen is a popular stop for many wine tourist. The wines I choose were taken from a list of 10 or more different wines we tasted that day between the two different locations and I would say they represent your best value for overall quality and price. You could just take my word for it and flip on that PC and order some or cruise to your favorite wine shop to pick up a few, either way I don't believe you could go wrong with these picks I've outlined above. Until next time cheers everyone!
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What is Pinot Days: The First Annual Pinot Days Southern California engages all the senses with its offering of gourmet food and 400 incredible Pinot Noirs. More than 75 pinot producers will pour their wines at Pinot Days, including the newly-released 2007 vintage, which critics are calling pinot's best vintage in decades, and maybe ever.
How long is the event: The three-day Los Angeles food and wine event includes two intimate winemaker dinners and the Grand Festival, a wine tasting event which gives wine lovers the opportunity to experience and enjoy some of the world's best pinot noir and interact directly with the gifted and passionate winemakers who produce them.
When does it begin:
Pinot Days Southern California begins January 15 and culminates on January 17 with the Grand Festival at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, CA. and event tickets can be purchased at www.pinotdays.com
and any reader of the Cuvée Corner Wine Blog can get a DISCOUNT
of 10% if they us this code: CuveeSC10
Who should go: All Pinotphiles should be in attendance and by definition a pinotphile is a lover or appreciator of Pinot Noir wine and just about anyone else who is new to wine or even the jaded amoung you, this is a great opportunity to try many styles of this one in one place. The price is right and this is there first time this far south so mark your calenders now. See ya there!
What's the Buzz: Pinot Days producer Lisa Rigisich said, "Los Angeles is a real food town and the innovative culinary scene in this city is the perfect complement to the depth, complexity and versatility of Pinot Noir. Like chefs, pinot producers are modern day artists with an intense passion for their craft. This dynamic lends itself well to Pinot Days because it allows food and wine lovers to learn about pinot by connecting to it with both their palate and through its producer."
Pinot Days is an event that connects wine enthusiasts from all walks of life directly with the winemakers, creating a unique opportunity for new and seasoned wine lover(s) to experience, enjoy and deepen their knowledge of Pinot Noir (pronounced Pee-noh-n'wahr). Many find the flavors are reminiscent of sweet red berries, plums, cherries and at times a notable earthy or wood-like flavor, depending on specific growing conditions and yes even a barnyard smell or two on occasion. This event will feature New World Pinot Noir, but its forerunner and modest inspiration hails from Burgundy, one of France’s most prized wine regions. This event will feature Pinot Noir planted, cultivated and produced in Oregon,
The Pinot Days Southern California event line-up:
Pinot Days Winemakers "Table Hop" Dinner at The Peninsula Beverly Hills on January 14, 2010 from 6:00pm - 11:00pm, in Beverly Hills, CA. and the cost is $120 per person.What to expect:
Executive Chef James Overbaugh, whose creative culinary style is hailed for its emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients and flavors from around the world, will present appetizers and a four course pinot-paired dinner with fourteen different pinots. The winemakers will move seats with every course so they can share their stories with attendees.
Day Two: Pinot Days Winemakers "Table Hop" Dinner at Sage on the Coast January 16, 2010 6:00pm - 11:00pm, in Newport Beach, CA. and is $100 per person.
What to expect: The winemakers will move seats with every course so they can share their stories with attendees. This event will featuring renowned chef Rich Mead, this event offers an exquisite four course, pinot-paired dinner with fourteen different pinots.
Day Three: The Grand Finale: The Pinot Days Grand Festival on January 17, 2010 1:00pm - 5:00pm, at the Barker Hangar, in Santa Monica, CA. and ridiculously low price of $50 per person.
What to expect: Sunday's Grand Tasting will showcase over 400 Pinot Noirs and the 75 wine makers who produce them. A culinary extravaganza, the Pinot Days Grand Festival features dozens of gourmet samplings from local food purveyors California Cheese and Butter Association, Corn Maiden Foods, Gourmet Grill Masters, Lourdes Gourmet Foods, Fishlips Sushi and more.
About your hosts:
Pinot Days was created by Steven and Lisa Rigisich out of their love for the "the noble grape." The Bay Area Wine Project holds annual events in San Francisco, Chicago and Southern California. Produced by the Bay Area Wine Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of Pinot Noir, www.pinotdays.com
provides information about and access to wine-related events, wine education opportunities and wine trivia -- including articles about outstanding wine personalities, winery profiles, reviews of wine events, restaurant wine lists, formal tastings and more.
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Today's review will revolve around the wonderful if somewhat eclectic Bonny Doon Vineyard found in the wonderfully beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains AVA in northern California, just a little south of Napa and Sonoma. While I had a chance to visit this area first hand in 2007, my opportunity to visit Bonny Doon slipped from our (that's my wife and I) itinerary and I missed seeing the vineyards for myself. That said, Mr. Randall Grahm was gracious enough to send me a couple samples to peruse at my leisure, with an invitation to visit next time I'm in the area.
Many folks have a quizzical look upon their face when I talk about the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, first they are thinking where the bleep is that and second what is a AVA? Now no one has ever had the courage to ask me, "what are you, some kind of cork-dork" ? I would answer with an enthusiastic nod of agreement and say, "well you could go even further and characterize me as a wine geek, guilty as charged." Purple teeth and purple fingers at times depending on the situation, but I'll save that conversation for another time. It was funny when I mentioned Bonny Doon to someone once, they thought I was speaking of a movie, entitled "Dune".
Ah yes the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is located just south of San Jose, California. This huge appellation holds over 350000 acres. According to "Vinogusto" it is astonishing, given the hardships (in particular the onset huge fires in 2009) of viticulture in the Santa Cruz Mountains, this appellation hosts some of North America's elite wineries with the likes of Ridge, David Bruce and Bonny Doon and I am a big fan of Byington and Testarossa as well.
So now that you have an idea of where I am talking about in regards to where this wine is from, now it's is time to bring into to focus the subject of this review the Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant 2005. Literally translated, "Le Cigare Volant" which is French for "The Flying Cigar" or euphemistically speaking, the flying saucer! Sci-Fi fans take note, this is a first-contact wine.
First Swirl: After letting this bottle settle into to its new surroundings (Chez Eyer Wine Vault) for a month or two, I finally cracked open the stelvin closure and poured myself a glass just hour before dinner for its first evaluation. In the glass a near opaque garnet colored core, giving way to cerise colored rim. Like ZZ Top has sung, she's got legs and she know how to use them, get the picture?
First Sniff: Into the glass goes my huge half Irish nose and exploding on my god-given sensory apparatus aromas of tasty brier, black cherry and undefinable gamy note.
First Sip: After giving the wine in my glass another good swirl, it's finally time to imbibe. On the palate, is an impressive concentration, with chewy plum, currant, nice minerality, licorice and tarry notes. Although listed as a California wine, it's is made in an terroir-driven old world style and does not require any long term cellaring, since it is drinking amazingly now. But it does have the stuffing to stand up to another five years in your own wine-vault!
Varietal Composition: The Bonny Doon Vineyard 2005 Le Cigare Volant is a blend, a Cuvée if you will, from fruit sourced at a variety of long-term growers in the Central Coast and Santa Cruz Mountains. This vintage is a blend of Grenache (50%), Mourvèdre (24%), Syrah (22%), Carignane (3%), and Cinsault (1%). This wine is bottled unfiltered and has a stelvin closure.
He also sent a copy of his "new" book,BEEN DOON SO LONG A RANDALL GRAHM VINTHOLOGY
which I am enjoying immensely and will have the review of the book separately from the wine. His style of prose is both humorous and captivating, a great read thus far, stay tuned for the book review.Alcohol and Ageing:
The wines alcohol percentage weighed in at a mere 13.5%
and the different wines which make up this delightful blend were aged separately no doubt and blended together before bottling. The aging process; 18 mos, 1/2 in puncheon, 1/2 in wooden upright, significant batonage.With/without Food:
(yes this is a new category) This wine was a great quaff just by itself, a sure crowd-pleaser
with an appropriate amount of decanting and just a wonderful wine for pairing with many different food combinations. Keep in mind this can't be said of all wines and is a high compliment to the wine maker and the growers of these grapes, well done!Full Disclosure:
Mr. Grahm (winemaker) sent a request to have this wine reviewed by the Cuvée Corner Wine Blog
and I was most flattered and delighted to have the opportunity.Where to Purchase and Price:
Wine can be purchased directly from the Bonny Doon Vineyard
website. This wine can also purchased online and or in their respective brick n mortar locations Woodland Hills Wine Co.
and Wine House
. The prices range from $26.99 to $29.99 depending on where you shop.My Recommendation:
Drink now and drink often, this is a great wine to stock up on, but as there was a little over 1100
cases produced it's going to go fast. So run don't walk, place your order today. The 2005 Le Cigare Volant is as smooth as Jeret "Speedy"
Peterson is on his skis as he catapults himself 60
feet in the air. Oh wait you don't know who that is? Well in the coming year you're going to find out as the Olympic Winter Games are about to get started and I want to wish team USA good luck! I like this quote from Steve Fisher who says's, "People are put on this earth to make mistakes and learn from them. Life is one big classroom."
Well said, it reminds me of challenges and triumphs of Randall Grahm, but with this wine he definitely has a triumph! Until next time cheers everyone!Other voices:
"The 2005 Cigare Volant (50% Grenache and the rest Mourvedre, Syrah, Carignan, and Cinsault) exhibits peppery, earthy, black currant and black cherry fruit, and medium body. This spicy, hedonistic vin de plaisir should be enjoyed over the next 2-3 years. Purchasers should treat it like a French Cotes du Rhone."Given 89
points by the Wine AdvocateGabe's View
had this to say, "If somehow you’ve never had this classic California offering from Randall Grahm, this vintage is a great place to start. If I could only use one word to describe this wine, that word would be character. Le Cigare Volant 2005
is loaded with it."
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This is the one meal that gets more wine recommendations than any other, and I guess that makes sense as many folks only have one chance a year to get it right. While many writers and experts will take the diplomatic high-road and tell you that there is no one perfect wine for Thanksgiving dinner. If you take a look around the web you're sure to find a plethora of suggestions from a cornucopia of wine writers, wine bloggers and maybe even your parents with picks ranging from Torrontes to Tannat, from Merlot to Muscat and even a Moet & Chandon (White Star). But I'm taking a different tact and I'm recommending "A Passion for Pinot" (not the book but the wine, Pinot Noir) is the ticket to having an outstanding Thanksgiving meal, with a wine that will meld effortlessly with your meal and will garner you high praise from either your guest or your host.
But there is a problem with my recommendations, what is that you may ask? I think the meal itself is the problem. It can be so varied and different in many homes that to name just one wine as "the one" is just a mistake. As we all know there is no one wine which is perfect with every food. Since we are all in agreement that this is the case I going to give a specific recommendation based solely on the traditionally observed Thanks Giving meal. So is you are planning on serving ToFu Turkey or some other substitute well you may want to check into a different wine for your meal and there is nothing wrong with that, this is America after all and variety is the name of the game.
That being said, I am going to suggest a patriotic choice this year and recommend getting yourself an American Pinot Noir and why because of these wines elegant earthiness and lovely berry overtones which makes this the perfect choice. Because in my opinion these are the characteristics which makes Pinot Noir a prime choice for Thanksgiving Dinner. But it's not just my opinion Jordan MacKay, Robert Holmes, Andrea Johnson in their book, "A Passion for Pinot" emphasize that "California and Oregon are home to Pinot's greatest expressions in the New World." With all due respect to our friends across the "pond" in Burgundy, who really make a different "expression" of Pinot, I believe based on tasting plenty of both that American Pinot's high expression style will win the day!
Further, another voice promoting my point of view is a Mr. Eric Asimov who has been quoted to say, "If any grape would be at home in the pose of the femme fatale—smoke curling from its lips, long, irresistible legs crossed as another winemaker is sent to his doom—it would be Pinot Noir."
This quote above should be the slam dunk you need to make up your mind which wine you are going to have with your Thanksgiving meal this year, hands down!
Finally who can deny this statement from the book A Passion For Pinot
where this quote is taken, "Silky, complex, and incredibly versatile, Pinot Noir is the perfect food wine; full of charm and intrigue, it drinks beautifully on its own."
That's well said and I could not agree more, thus I have compiled a list of wines from these regions which should grab your attention and take your Thanksgiving dinner to new and memorable heights.
I've come up with a list of American
(New World) Pinot Noirs that I have recommended over the years and why because these wines are not too hard to find and two, many of them are "reasonably" priced and finally, I've chosen these wines because they are consistent year after year. If you are unable to find a Pinot Noir from the list below and you come across one that has been gathering dust on some wine store shelf for years, that could mean trouble and you may want to avoid it altogether. For example, if the wine has not been properly stored. Meaning, standing upright, inconsistent temperature, in the sun or direct light or a unstable shelf , its palatableness could be suspect. Sorry if I did not name your favorite wine, please don't be offended, instead feel free to offer your choice in the comments sections as I am sure they would be welcomed! Don't be a lurker, feel free to make a suggestion, after all this suppose to be a conversation.Pricing:
The prices which are listed are broadly representative but can vary widely and while I am saying these are great choices they don't represent a best of the best list.Regarding Availability:
While I wouldn't expect many stores to have all of these recommendations, you should be able to find them via the links I have provided below and form an example of wines you may want to consider.
CAMBRIA 07 PN JULIA'S, 2007
(Santa Barbara County). $18.99
. Great acidity, some spice and with all kind of cranberry and strawberry fruit that, obviously, is perfect for the meal. Complex, interesting, affordable and easy to find in most stores.
Taz 2007 Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County Taz, 2007 $17.99
This wine had a very soft floral note, leaning toward the strawberry end of the flavor spectrum and the smell (rich and filled with berries). The taste is just classy, well-balanced and don't be afraid of some varietal funk. Nicely intense and won't compete for your palates attention amongst the plentiful bounty before you.
Erath Oregon Pinot Noir 2007 750ml, 2007 $18.99
Baker’s spice notes as well black cherry and blueberry are present in the nose of this Pinot. The palate presents a rich core of opulent fruit. Lots of cherry, blackberry and black plum are underscored by a persistent layer of racy acidity that keeps everything balanced. This wine can also be found at most San Diego Costco's.
2007 Chehalem Pinot Noir 3 Vineyard Willamette Valley, 2007 $19.99
This smooth wine is fruit forward featuring bright raspberry and strawberry nuances, lively acidity, medium-high tannins, medium-high oak, and complex flavors. It is balanced, and has a medium finish. Overall, its appeal is attractive and would compliment your Thanksgiving meal nicely.
Testarossa Sleepy Hollow Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, 2007 $39.99
An explosive burst of cherry and plum with underlying cedar and fruitcake spice notes make up the nose of this single vineyard Pinot Noir. Vibrant Pinot flavors in a very drinkable package featuring bright fruit yet light enough to complement everything on the table without adding yet another big taste.
I want to wish everyone a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, watch some football, eat too much, catch up with family you may only see once a year and by all means enjoy a great glass of wine or two. Until next time, stay thirsty my friends, Cheers!
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Whether you are hosting a soiree or a casual get-together this holiday, your mission is to provide your guests with warm hospitality, lively conversation and a delectable spread of food and drink. Whether the menu is complicated or simple it better be delicious. Serving a sumptuous gourmet cheese course is perfect as a starter or centerpiece of the meal. Not only is the preparation simple (no cooking!) but more importantly, your guests will enjoy discovering and savoring new favorites. As a wine lover and as a host you want to impress with the right pairings but the overwhelming selections of wine and cheese can make your head spin. Relax. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing the right combinations of cheese and wine. Just keep in mind a few simple considerations.
A cheese course is about observing and enjoying contrasting and complementary flavors. For a fool-proof gourmet cheese course, select 3 – 5 cheeses that vary in texture and flavor. Add some crusty bread, fresh or dried fruit, olives and nuts and voila!
Remember, wines are meant to cleanse the palate, wash away the tongue-coating richness of the cheese and prepare your mouth for the next delicious bite. It’s important that your selections don’t overwhelm the cheese and vice versa. Essentially, you’ll want to match wine and cheese of the same intensity level. Just remember “like for like”.
Take a look at the gourmet cheese categories and wine recommendations below for guidance. You’ll see how easy it is to serve an elegant wine and cheese course. For best results, just add friends and family.
Fresh – These cheeses are not aged and usually are white and light in flavor, smooth and sometimes tangy. Try chevre (goat cheese), feta and smoked mozzarella.
Beverage Pairings – Acidic white wines stand up to the tang and milky flavors of fresh cheese. Try a Viognier or a lightly oaked Chardonnay with French goat cheese, Boutari (a white Greek wine produced on the island of Santorini) with Greek Feta and Pinot Grigio with mozzarella.
Bloomy – Encased in a whitish, edible rind, bloomy gourmet cheeses are often velvety, gooey with a mild flavor. Add Brie, Camembert or Pierre-Robert to the cheese board for a decadent treat.
– Seek out a carbonated beverage to refresh the mouth from the rich and creamy flavors. Traditionally, bloomy cheeses are served with French Champagne but also try Cava from Spain and Prosecco from Italy. Another good suggestion would be for a oak-aged Chardonnay from California or Chile which have aromas of vanilla, smoke, toast that will complement the buttery notes in the cheese.Washed Rind
– During the aging process, washed-rind cheeses are usually bathed in a brine or washed with liquor such as wine, beer or a spirits. It’s this brining process that gives the cheese an aromatic quality. Almost all have orange or reddish hued rinds. Not mild and not sharp, washed rind cheeses are full-flavored. Give Taleggio, Drunken Goat, and Epoisses a taste.
Beverage Pairings – The fruity and tannic flavors of red wines work well with the stronger flavors of washed rind cheeses. Try Italian reds such as Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino with Taleggio, a Spanish Rioja with the Drunken Goat and a Cabernet Sauvignon with Epoisses.
Semisoft – These supple cheeses are rich, creamy with stronger flavors. Fontina is herbal and nutty while Morbier offers sweetness with greater pungency.
Beverage Pairings - Sample these with light and fruity reds such as a Pinot Noir or fruity whites such as Sancerre.
Firm – Typically, firm cheeses are still pliable and packed with flavor. The best are a bit crumbly and aged for robust, nutty goodness. Cheddar, Gouda and Gruyere are crowd pleasers.
Beverage Pairings - A pint of English ale is the traditional beverage of choice for Cheddar but a Sauvignon Blanc is complex enough to complement. Gouda is great with a Syrah/Shiraz and drink Beaujolais with Gruyere.
Hard – Hard cheeses are dry, crumbly and aged for intensity. Piave, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Aged Comte boast salty, caramelized, nutty flavors.
Beverage Pairings – You’ll find hearty wines can hold their own against these cheeses. Try a Barbera or Chianti with the Piave and Parmigiano and Merlot with the Comte.
Blue – The bluish-green veins give blue cheese its punch. Listed from strong to strongest in pungency are creamy Gorgonzola, nutty Stilton and salty Roquefort.
– Intense gourmet cheeses like blues can be tamed with sweet dessert wines, liqueurs and even a fruity beer. Port and sherry are traditional blue libations. For a unique treat, try a raspberry flavored beer like Belgian Lambic (look for Lindeman’s Framboise). All can be savored while lingering over dessert.About Sara Kahn:
Even though her passion for gourmet cheese was undying, Sara Kahn found shopping for it to be overwhelming, time consuming and confusing. She established The Cheese Ambassador
to offer a simple way to select and serve the world’s finest cheeses. By providing the perfect combination of exquisite cheese along with a comprehensive cheese course guide, enjoying gourmet cheese is now a deliciously enriching experience.
Wine Friendly Cheeses:
Brie, Cambozola, Camembert, Roquefort, Port-Salut, Fondue Cheese, Frulano and for more suggestion please stop by The Cheese Ambassador
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I had met Dennis and Julie Grimes of Eagles Nest winery in Ramona, San Diego via the Open Wine Consortium online wine community. Their winemaker Dennis invited me over to sample their wines and he wanted me to become familiar with how good wine is being made right here in San Diego.
Honestly, I was skeptical about whether good wine was being made from San Diego grown fruit and could be considered good wine. But I was pleasantly surprised to find they have made some wonderful wines, including these two wonderful Syrahs from their 2007 vintage. Later others would concur with my thoughts and awarded them a gold medal for each wine. These gold medals were earned at the 2009 Temecula Wine Competition. One was made from the their Estate fruit grown on their Ramona Estate and the other was grapes taken from the South Coast Appellation.
This is the story behind my prediction, I had the opportunity to taste these wines just after they were bottled. I was part of the all-volunteer bottling team and it great fun participating in the bottling process. These wines were bottled in May or June, not quite sure of the exact date. But as I recall it was right before the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference. Since Dennis had encouraged me to join them at the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference and asked if my wife and I would like to carpool with them, we had a great opportunity on the drive to discuss the wines he and his wife Julie had entered into the 2009 Temecula Wine Competition sponsored by Welcome to the Temecula Valley Wine Society. They were both wondering aloud in the car (Excursion) and contemplating how well their wines would do in this competition. That's when I spoke up, I ask Julie and Dennis about the event and found out that only wines produced from "local" fruit would be allowed in the competition. I had just returned from a two day tasting journey in Temecula. I went to what many considered the "better-wineries" in area and tasted through their wines and considering what I had tasted versus the wine I had tasted at Eagles Nest Winery, I proclaimed that their two Syrahs would win gold medals.
But again I believe in quotes like this one,"Wine has lit up for me the pages of literature, and revealed in life romance lurking in the commonplace. Wine has made me bold but not foolish; has induced me to say silly things but not do them. " Duff Cooper, Old Men Forget
My statement, my prognostication if you will was met with silence then a nervous laughter. I then asked if anyone would like to take my proclamation as a bet? Nobody, bothered to answer me. I was resolute in my statement and told both Julie, Dennis and my wife that of the wines they had entered the two Syrahs would win gold medals. So what did I base my conjecture on? I based it on the fact that not only have I recently tasted a majority wines from the Temecula (their competition)Valley, but I also have been tasting wines from some of the best producers in the States and abroad over the last seven years. So was this just a lucky guess? Perhaps, but maybe it was an educated guess based on years of tasting, evaluating and reviewing wine.
We had just gotten back from the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference
in Sonoma on Monday and on Tuesday the awards ceremony was held, where the announcements of the winners would be made and the medals awarded. Julie and Dennis were at the event and were nervous with excitement and perhaps in the back of their mind, wondering whether or not I may have been right. The announcement finally came and the results; their 07 Estate Syrah won a Gold Medal
in the 2009 Temecula Wine Competition
along with another Gold Medal
for our 07 South Coast AVA Syrah. Wow, my tweet-deck buzzed with the excitement that my prognostication had come true. I was very happy for them both and what this had meant for them and the winery, recognition that their investment of work, long hours (blood, sweat and tears
) and capital had actually meant something, validation. If you click on this link here you can see the results: San Diego Wineries show well at 2009 Temecula Wine Competition
. I wished them well deserved congratulations and never told them, "I told you so" even though I had considered it.
The Eagles Nest 2007 South Coast Syrah and the Eagles Nest Estate Syrah
First Swirl: If your a regular reader of my blog, you may be wondering why I consider the first swirl of the wine? This is my first impression of what's to come, I look for color (read that, extraction and structure). I also look for clarity and viscosity. Their wines had wonderful extraction, body and suppleness. The core was a dark ruby color and faded away to garnet colored rim.
First Sniff: As this wine finished swirling about in my glass, I put my nose in to find wonderful complex, but inviting aromas of earthy truffles, blackberry and a faint touch of vanilla, all mixed with beautiful and subtle scents of freshly baked dark fruit compote. Even when the glass was empty aromas lingered on and on.
First Sip: I can still remember the taste of this wine. I will admit that I have had the opportunity to sample it on more than one occasion. Each time I do it is a wonderful expression of what Syrah should be. Polished, lavish, elegant, fluent throughout the entire palate, bountiful enough without going over the top, chewable, inky, showing top quality fruit, red and dark berries, plum, spices, all underlined by beautiful tannins followed by a long lingering finish. They are both great wines for pairing, as they mingle nicely with many different types of food.
Varietal Composition: Both these wines are 100% Syrah.
Alcohol and Aging: The alcohol is a mere 12% which should surprise you, why you ask? Because a wine which delivers so much is normally associated with higher octane levels. Both wines were aged at least 20 months in oak barrels and were bottled earlier this summer.
Price and where to buy: These wines sell for $20 each and can be purchased directly by calling the winery at (760) 505-8229. I told them that they should sell the Estate for at least $5 more, but they decided to sell it for the same price as their South Coast Syrah.
My Recommendation: I would give them a call as soon as possible, as I believe they made less than 400 cases of both wines. At these prices you could easily buy a case or two. These wines represent what I call a "every day drinker" meaning this a great wine you afford to drink everyday if you wish and not break the bank. It also represents QPR and qualifies as a winner.
Other Voices: Grace Hoffman of Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk had this say, "I couldn't have asked for a nicer wine to start my "proper" Syrah education! It defied my belief that a wine has to have a higher alcohol level to be more flavorful! Definitely a food wine". The 2009 Temecula Wine Competition gave these wines a gold medal each, I think that speaks for itself.
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