Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Wine Country Travels - Dry Creek Valley

Wine Country Travels - Dry Creek Valley 

Wednesday, December 27th
We had basically a repeat of the same amazing breakfast at Caffe Sunflower - it was just SO good.  this time I didn't get the green dream, but I did get the Monster Mimosa.  It just so happened that there was an older lady sitting nearby our table with a 4 month old French Bulldog named Chloe.  And then a few moments later, another woman with a 4 month old French Bulldog of the same coloring, named Baron sat down.  Of course the two doggies HAD to meet.  It was just too much adorable in one place. awww!

Then it was back in the car to drive to Dry Creek Valley.

Our first winery visit of the day, was to Michel-Schlumberger.  We had friends who were previous wine club members here, and thus we had tasted some of their wines before.  However, we hadn't tried their current production and we were interested in seeing their beautiful property.  I decided this was my favorite tasting of the trip with regards to the quality of wine, and the lovely setting.  We sat outside at a table with a lovely view of the gardens and vineyard.  There was only one tasting person there, so he would come and go, but we had the chance to sit quietly and enjoy our wine tasting privately.  I really prefer this to the stand & sales pitch method.
Every wine was absolutely delicious. Not a "meh" one in the bunch.  If we hadn't already made a pact to NOT join any wine clubs this trip, I might have been tempted to join this one.
We tasted the first line up, and then they escorted us to the barrel room to taste 3 barrel wines.  Before we left w purchased 1 bottle 2014 Michel-Schlumberger Cabernet Franc  - $45, and 2 bottles 2014 Michel-Schlumberger 'Deux Terres' Cabernet Sauvignon - $75 each.

Next stop was Kokomo Winery.  I had met the winemaker twice in Atlanta before, but he wasn't in the tasting room this trip.  We love their wines, and once again they showed beautifully.  We left with a bottle of Chardonnay and a bottle of Claret.  Their wine club is more affordable than some, and I also considered joining this one.

Right next door was the Family Wineries building, so we did a small tasting of Dashe Cellars wine.  We'd met Anne Dashe before, and her wines are superb as well.  My hubby was getting hungry so we "dashed" off (ha ha pun intended) to Dry Creek General Store for one of their famed sandwiches.  I had the Dry Creek Stacker - Cremenelli toscano salami, imported mortadella, turkey, provolone cheese, pepperoncini, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, oregano, mustard, olive oil, golden balsamic vinegar and roasted garlic mayo on a sourdough roll.  It was to DIE for.  I only ate half of it, but my goodness, we saved the other half for later!  He had the Reuben - pastrami, gruyere cheese and Sonoma Brinery sauerkraut on toasted rye bread with your choice of mustard, Thousand Island dressing or both.

Last winery of the day was Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs.  We had a special memory with Ridge Vineyards wine in our past.  We once celebrated Thanksgiving in Manhattan at Bar Boulud, and they were serving a magnum of 2005 Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel.  It was so good, it left a lasting impression.  So here we are, 12 years later at Ridge!  The grounds and view were quite pretty.  We did the tasting, and bought the holiday gift pack which had a bottle of the 2015 - 50th anniversary - Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel, and a bottle of the 2015 Pagani Ranch Zinfandel.  Both were just exquisite.  We enjoyed those 2 bottles on New Years Day.

We drove back to our BnB for a well-deserved nap, and then we went out to dinner in Sonoma square at at Oso.  We had the Caesar Salad, Deviled Eggs with Dungeness crab, Moroccan Squash, and Salmon with Kale and Sweet Potatoes.  Delightful per usual.

Thoughts about this trip:
I prefer to sit down with a bottle of wine, and relax while tasting it.  Having a wine tasting, while standing up is not the same experience. Neither is going quickly through many different wines while someone is pouring them as fast as you can drink them AND giving you the sales pitch about their wine club at the same time.  Even when we had time to stand and reflect on the wine, it was difficult as the sales person was always nearby, and you couldn't chat with your spouse about the experience privately while there.  This was probably why I enjoyed Stag's Leap Wine Cellars and Michel-Schlumberger experiences the best - we had a moment to sit DOWN and really enjoy the wines.

Apart from those, I really loved Imagery winery.  The whole concept is so interesting, and I love that there is an art gallery there.  Their wines are truly lovely.  You cannot buy them in stores.

If you do this trip, you will need to go to the restroom a LOT!  Every stop, I had to go when we arrived, and before we left.  Think about it, you're drinking wine, and then water, and then coffee, and then more water, and more wine, in a cycle.  It's a lot of liquid to process.  And then the food.  You don't realize it, but you end up eating quite a bit of food.  Don't forget your greens! Trust me.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Wine Country Travels - Calistoga & Napa

Wine Country Travels - Calistoga & Napa

Tuesday, December 26th
Up early for some delicious breakfast at Sunflower Caffe.  This time I ate The California Sandwich (folded eggs, arugula, avocado crush, bacon, chevre goat cheese sauce, organic brioche bun, dressed organic greens).  I can't explain what they do to their bacon, but it has essence of rosemary and is just divine!  and coffee of course.  Matt got the Breakfast Pot Pie (rosemary sausage "red eye gravy", roasted mushrooms, flaky pie crust, soft poached egg) and a cappuccino.  Matt says this was one of the best breakfast meals he has ever had. I took my Green Dream smoothie to go.

Then we were off and vrooming through the Petrified Forest, and up to Calistoga to see the infamous Chateau Montelena.  Their 1973 Chardonnay won the 1976 Judgement of Paris. Watch that movie Bottle Shock for reference. Delicious wines, and prices not too shabby.  We bought 2 bottles of 2014 Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Zinfandel - $39 each, and 1 bottle of 2016 Chateau Montelena Potter Valley Riesling - $27.
The grounds are definitely interesting. The Chateau looks like a castle, but the Jade Lake to the front right of the castle is more of a Chinese Garden vibe.  We asked about the history, and so the story goes:

"Chateau Montelena's rich history began on a chilly fall morning when Alfred L. Tubbs spaded over and inspected the soil where he thought of planting estate vineyards. He had heard the Napa Valley was the best place to grow grapes in California. A deal was struck, and in January of 1882 the San Francisco entrepreneur owned 254 acres of rugged land just two miles north of Calistoga at the base of Mount Saint Helena. The soils are well drained, stony and loose - perfect for the vines he would plant.

It took less than a decade to turn his dream into reality. First Tubbs planted his vineyards, then he built his Chateau, and in 1886 he imported a French-born winemaker. By 1896 his winery, then called A.L. Tubbs Winery, was the seventh largest in the Napa Valley. Like many other wineries in the area, winemaking at the Chateau came to an end with Prohibition. After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, Tubbs' grandson, Chapin Tubbs, continued the family's venture harvesting the vineyard, making some wines and selling grapes to other wineries and home winemakers. In 1940, Chapin rechristened the winery as Chateau Montelena Winery, a contraction of Mount St. Helena.

Two years after Chapin Tubbs' death in 1947, winemaking was discontinued, and Chateau Montelena would not function as a winery for nearly two decades. The Tubbs family sold the Chateau in 1958, at which time the stone building and its overgrown grounds passed into the hands of Yort and Jeanie Frank who were looking for a peaceful spot to retire. The Franks emigrated from Hong Kong prior to World War II and had been living in Southern California where Frank was an electrical engineer. The Chateau inspired Frank to excavate a lake and landscape the grounds to reflect the Chinese gardens of his homeland. Today, Jade Lake is considered one of Napa Valley's most beautiful sanctuaries, home to a variety of fish and wildlife, and surrounded by weeping willows and native fauna."

Did a modest tasting in one of the most beautiful settings at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars (not to be confused w the other Stags’ Leap - read about that here.). The Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 1973 Cabernet won for red wines in the 1976 Judgement of Paris. I would LOVE to taste it someday but, ha, that’s a pipe dream I’m sure. Anyhoo, the winery and property are just gorgeous.  They sat us outside on the patio, in the sunshine.  We had an unobstructed view of the vineyards and mountains.  Simply a FANTASTIC view!  Of all the tasting experiences we had thus far, I would say this was one of my favorites for the ambiance alone!  Their Cabernets were a bit out of our price range, but we will definitely keep our eyes open for any deals if they go on sale, they were very good.

We ate lunch at C Casa in the Oxbow Market.  I had a skirt steak salad, and he had the tacos.  All the food was absolutely delicious, It was rather a busy mad house getting in and out of the place though.  Sort of like Atlanta's Krog Street Market on crack!  Difficult to find parking, and once inside there were lines for every vendor or restaurant.  It has a lovely variety of choices for dining.

A must see on my list was Darioush - a Persian owned winery - something a little different for Napa. We had tasted their wines with a friend years ago, but I had not yet been to their property.  They have absolutely fantastic wines, that remind me a lot of the Lebanese wines I have tasted.  I was most impressed with their Merlot. Completely different expression of the terroir than one would expect. Lots of spice on the finish. Yum!  We purchased 3 bottles of the Merlot.  They provided pistachios in the tasting room, which I felt was a nice touch.

Next, we jetted off to Concord to visit a friend for his Boxing Day party, before heading back to our Sonoma BnB to sleep.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Wine Country Travels - Sonoma

Wine Country Travels - Sonoma

Sunday, December 24th, 2017 - Christmas Eve
If a winery was open on this day, they were closing early at 1:30pm, so we had to hustle if we were going to taste anything.  We checked out of our AirBNB (Lemon Moon Cottage) as quickly as possible and vroomed over to Imagery Estate Winery. Passing some of the wildfire damage along the way was heartbreaking.  Imagery was singed but thankfully not badly, and was still open.  Imagery is the sister winery to Benziger.  Benziger makes more traditional wines, whereas Imagery makes more creative wines with uncommon varietals and blends.

We met my FAVORITE tasting lady Kay.  Kay was just a joy to chat with, and she was definitely passionate about Imagery wines.  Imagery is not just a winery, it is an art gallery!  I had not remembered, until this point, realized that their labels were done by artists, and different for each wine.
"Imagery Winery prides itself on quality and taste. So much so that it has informed one of our most important pairings yet, wine and art. Imagery Winery infuses art throughout your experience, from unique artwork replicated on every label, to the tasting room, and the dedicated on-site art gallery, featuring label artwork commissioned from some of the world’s most notable contemporary artists. The entire collection has over 500 artworks by over 300 artists. Currently, around 60 pieces are on view in the gallery.
At any given time, as many as 35 artists are working – without a deadline – on pieces that will appear on future Imagery wine labels. The artists are not limited by size, medium or content – the only exception is: The work must include a likeness of the Parthenon (or section there of) replica on the Benziger Estate, which serves as the winery’s signature."

It was a little bit like a wino's "Where's Waldo" trying to find the Parthenon hidden in the artist's work.  I was so inspired, I bought their book, which features many of the labels and has information about each artist.

Kay, our tasting lady, had also lived in San Francisco (which we were going to be visiting for a later portion of our trip), and she had lots of wonderful tips on where to go for views and delicious food.

Next, it was off to Benziger Family Winery, a Demeter certified biodynamic winery.  Biodynamic wine uses organic farming methods and aims at the ecological self-sufficiency of farming as a cohesive, interconnected living system. Benziger has 2 Highland Coos on the property (great mowers, and they provide manure for compost), and sheep which graze, fertilize, and till the land (three times faster than the tractor method).  They also planted plants to attract "good bugs" which eat the "bad bugs" or pests, keeping the vines healthy, etc.  I absolutely love the sustainability of their vineyards, and the wines are delicious too!

We skipped over to downtown Sonoma to get a quick bite.  We had some coffee at Caffe Sunflower, and then wandered over to Oso for some snacks and a drink.  I tried the Champagne Cocktail (Raspberry Framboise, Cane Sugar, Cava, Lemon Peel), he had a Negroni.  We tasted a dozen oysters on the half-shell and the Mole Braised Pork Shoulder Tacos.  Fabulous!

We checked into our next AirBnB, The Loft at Palmer.  At $99/night we thought that was a pretty sweet deal.  After a refreshing nap, we popped on over to The Girl and The Fig for dinner.   We had lovely green olives as an appetizer, then the Bistro Plats du Jour (3 plate special with wine pairings) Grilled Mano Formate mortadella, camembert, chicories, pickled shallots, mustard vinaigrette, paired with the Qupe, 2013 Marsanne.  Then the smoked trout with sunchoke puree, cauliflower, and salsa verde, paired with Passaggio, 2016 Rousanne. and finally the baked alaska, fig and port ice cream, almond brown butter cake, port reduction, fig kiss, paired with Loxton Cellars, 2013 Syrah Port (that last course was much too sweet for me).  Beet Soup and Cider-braised pork shoulder with stone ground polenta, charred cabbage, and pickled mustard seed.  Everything overall was amazing.

Monday, December 25th, 2017 - Christmas Day
All nearby wineries are closed on Christmas Day, so we drove up the Coastal Highway, via Bodega Bay, through Jenner, over the Russian River, and up to Sea Ranch.  We dined for lunch at the Sea Ranch Lodge.  Christmas Lunch was: Cajun fried oysters, smoked salmon chowder, Dungeness crab Mac n cheese (because I had to!), roasted NY sirloin, Kokomo Sauvignon Blanc, Husch Sauvignon Blanc, Husch Cabernet Sauvignon, maybe it’s just my palate but I was not impressed w the Husch wines, we took dessert to go but never ate it (too full). Lovely place, you must visit sometime!

After dinner we walked past the lodge out to the ocean cliffs to see the views.  The wild waves were crashing forcefully on the jagged shores, such a beautiful bit of nature.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Wine Country Travels - Sebastopol - Russian River Valley

Wine Country Travels - Sebastopol & Sonoma

Friday, December 22nd 2017 - We flew direct to San Francisco.  Our flight landed rather late (10:30pm their time, which would translate to 1:30am our time).  We stayed in the Hilton San Francisco Airport Bayfront hotel just to rest up, before planning to retrieve our rental car from the Airport in the morning.  The room service was tasty, and quick (30 mins or less for food delivery) I highly recommend this hotel!

Saturday, December 23rd 2017 - The SFO Rental Car facility is a nightmare.  I am SO glad we left the hotel with a good 45 mins extra time padded on our trip.  If we hadn't we would have been late to our first tasting.  There isn't good signage directing you where to enter the facility.  Our Lyft Driver was just as lost as we were and he WORKS in the area!  And once we found the right building, we still couldn't figure out where to go, there were all these down escalators, but none going up, etc.  We finally got to the 4th floor via an elevator by the bathrooms, and found the Alamo desk.  We were prepaid, so I had hoped we could just walk out to the car, but NO.  So we went to the automated kiosk to register, the machine took me all the way through the registration, and then just before it printed my paperwork, it froze up and got an error message.  Considering that process had already taken us 10-15 minutes, we sucked it up and stood in the ridiculously long line to talk to a real live person.   Thankfully, they were quicker than expected, and soon we were in a White Ford Mustang Convertible, and vrooming up to San Francisco.  We opted to cross the Bay Bridge, since this was our first time ever crossing it, and then up through Sebastopol we went!

First stop was our 11am appointment at Iron Horse Vineyards.  They serve their tastings in a rustic, outdoor setting, with overhead heaters to keep you warm.  You have a lovely view of the vineyard hills below, and the palm tree-lined drive to the side.  Iron Horse is known for their sparkling wines, so we started with those straight away.  For now I recommend the Sparkling (Winter Cuvée is my fave - We took a bottle with us to enjoy on Christmas Day), and the Native Yeast Chardonnay. Wait a bit on those Pinot Noirs.

Considering it was so close to lunch time, we stopped at the Underwood Bar & Bistro for a light lunch.  Maybe I'm a bit of a Southern Girl, but all the ladies working there were NOT wearing any make-up at all. Not that there is anything wrong with that, we started to realize this is a trend in California I guess.  However, I never leave the house without my makeup on, unless I have my huge "Edna Mode" Sunglasses on.  I guess it's just me.  LOL  Anyhoo, they were very cheerful and friendly.  The service was impeccable and the food was delicious. Lovely lunch of Lentil soup, French onion soup, the Marin gems (oysters) on the half shell, and tuna tartare.

Second stop was a 1:30pm appointment at Lynmar Estate.  We were lucky to have friends who were members of their club, so they had setup an appointment for us.  It's rather fancy.  You drive up to a gate, and you must have a 4 digit code to get inside the property for the tasting.  The grounds were just beautiful, and there was a distinct aroma of scrub brush and herbs.  It smelled divine!  Their bathroom even had a lovely rose scented hand lotion.  Lynmar makes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines.  They were truly delicious.  For some reason I was very much in love with their Chardonnay, so I bought a bottle to take with me.  We also snacked on a light cheese platter.  Everything was just spectacularly delicious.

Our last visit was a 3:30pm appointment at Dutton-Goldfield Winery.  This location was seemingly casual, as it was in a cluster of buildings housing other tasting rooms, and there was a convenience store across the street.  However, once we entered their garden grounds we were pleasantly surprised to see an enchanting scene of potted succulents and beautiful plants.  Their tasting room was lush with leather couches, and warm lighting.  They had a sign welcoming us to their tasting room.  The wines were good, but I was not ready to buy anything here.

We stayed in a lovely Air BNB called Lemon Moon Cottage.  It was only $119 per night, which is much more affordable than any decent hotel in the area. I loved the view of the lemon tree and the nearby horse farm from our cottage.  It was a lovely retreat.

We were told in advance, that driving in wine country can be a bit challenging.  It really is farm country, only the crops are mostly grape vines.  The roads are winding, narrow, and sometimes there is only room for 1 car at a time.  However, given that we were visiting during a slower season, it was nice and quiet.  We felt like nearly the only people there.

For dinner that evening, we went to Zazu Kitchen and Farm in The Barlow.  It was absolutely yummy!  We had Creme of Chanterelle Mushroom Soup, Lacinato Kale & Romaine Caesar Salad, Porcini Noodles, Beet & Buratta salad.  Then back to the Lemon Moon Cottage for some R&R before we headed off to Sonoma.  We ate the lemon bars for breakfast. YUMMY!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Outlander Wines - Dec 10th, 2017

Outlander Wines - Dec 10th, 2017

As any good Obsession-nach Wino would do, I had to try the Outlander Wines.

There are six wines total in the set, with three devoted to Claire's monikers (Sassenach, Mo Nighean Donn, and La Dame Blach) and three to Jamie's (Red Jamie, Mac Dubh, and A. Malcolm).

I'm picky when it comes to my wine, and I have thus far avoided trying "themed" wines for TV shows.  However, these wines were mostly French (with the exception of the California Pinot Noir), which gave me better confidence that they would be tasty.

We opted to share the La Dame Blanch Pays d'Oc Viognier and the Sassenach Languedoc-la-clape Rose with my husband's family for Thanksgiving.  These were both delicious and showed well.  Later one night, we opened up the Mo Nighean Donn California Pinot Noir, and this was also quite tasty. 

We saved the Jamie-named wines for the Outlander Season 3 Finale episode viewing.  I would say of these three wines, only 1 was decent, and I was verra disappointed in the quality.  I buy Red French wines regularly, and these could have been SO delicious, given the regions the grapes were grown in.  However, they tasted more like a Trader Joes Charles Shaw wine.  We still drank them, but I wasn't moved.  I feel they "done Jamie wrong" with these wines.

La Dame Blanche Pays d’Oc Viognier
Description: “She is given the name La Dame Blanche by her husband as a clever ruse, but in truth Claire does possess some of the cunning powers of this mythological figure, using them to turn fortunes her way. This French Viognier is similarly persuasive in its nature, with a heady floral aroma that leads to peach and apricot flavors on the palate, all lifted by a vein of acidity. Upon first sip, you’ll find yourself hopelessly enchanted.”

Sassenach Languedoc-la-clape Rosé
Description: “As a visitor of a time and place that’s not her own, Claire is a true outsider until Jamie Fraser draws her into his world and bestows upon her the playful nickname Sassenach. This rosé is Provençal in style, but, like Claire, it comes from an unexpected place — Languedoc-la-clape, where the limestone-rich soil lends the wine its flavors of strawberry, white peach, and grapefruit, racy minerality, and clean finish. Sometimes a fresh new perspective is exactly what’s needed.”

Mo Nighean Donn California Pinot Noir
Description: “‘My brown-haired lass’ is what Jamie affectionately calls his charming new bride in Gaelic, and there’s no better wine to embody that side of Claire than this earthy, seductive Pinot Noir. Exhibiting flavors of black raspberry, forest floor, and tea, this complex and balanced wine will make anyone fall in love with its alluring qualities immediately. Don’t bother attempting to resist its delightful and immensely appealing ways.”

Mac Dubh Pays d’Oc Syrah
Description: “Even as a prisoner at Ardsmuir, Jamie retains a commanding presence, rallying the other prisoners and earning their respect as a leader. They give him the nickname Mac Dubh, or ‘son of the black’ — and it’s this earthy, brooding French Syrah that embodies this dark version of Jamie. With plenty of concentration and blueberry flavor, this is an intense wine that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.”

A. Malcolm Languedoc-la-clape Rouge
Description: “A fugitive after the Jacobite rising, Jamie Fraser must become Alex Malcolm and begin anew as a printer in Edinburgh… yet under this simple facade lies the same complex and passionate man who captured Claire’s heart. Equally unassuming, at first, is this red wine from a small appellation in southern France. It becomes clear after experiencing the pure, black-red fruit nuances, however, that this is a charming, formidable wine — one you won’t easily forget.”

Red Jamie Côtes du Rhône Rouge
Description: “Whether he’s fiercely defending the love of his life or charging off to war alongside his clansmen, the notorious Jacobite Red Jamie is a force to be reckoned with — as is this dynamic Côtes du Rhône named in his honor. With a vibrant acidity and tannic structure keeping the flavors of red plum and blueberry in check, this red blend of 70% Syrah, 15% Carignan, and 15% Grenache will have you surrendering after just a taste.”

Another review, if you are interested:

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

December - Benefit for Vineyards Damaged by California Wildfires - hosted by Matt & Abbie

December - Benefit for Vineyards Damaged by California Wildfires  - hosted by Matt & Abbie

When:  Wednesday, December 6th, 2017 7:00pm ET

Theme: Benefit for Vineyards Damaged by California Wildfires

Bring:  TWITs should bring 2 items:
1) A wine from a vineyard damaged by the 2017 California Wildfires - within our usual price range (Up to $20/bottle for Single Attendee, between $20 - $40/bottle for Couples, couples only expected to bring 1 bottle per couple)
2) AND wrapped gift for our Annual Blanc Elephant Exchange ($15 suggested price range).

We will take up a collection if anyone wishes to help.  Tax Deductible Donations will go to Habitat For Humanity of Sonoma County (501c3), project "Rebuilding Sonoma County from Wildfire Disaster" - Abbie's employer will match up to $1000 of our donations.

Here is the list of vineyards damaged in the fires: 
Napa County wineries:
Signorello Vineyard
Stags’ Leap Winery
White Rock Vineyards
William Hill Estate Winery
Hagafen Cellars
Helena View Johnston Vineyards
Segassia Vineyard

Sonoma County wineries:
Paradise Ridge Winery
Ancient Oak Cellars
Sky Vineyards
Nicholson Ranch
Chateau St. Jean
Mayo Family Wineries
Gundlach Bundschu Winery

Mendocino County wineries:
Frey Vineyards Winery
Oster Wine Cellars
Golden Vineyards

Tasting Notes:
Welcome Wine:  2015 Frey Chardonnay ~ $13.99 @ Total Wine
13.5% alcohol

1) 2015 Darioush Napa Valley Chardonnay ~ $52.00 @  Total Wine

2) 2016 Dirty & Rowdy Mourvedre ~ $29.00
13.3% alcohol

3) 2016 Frey Pinot Noir ~ $17.00
13.7% alcohol

4) 2013 William Hill Estate Winery Central Coast Merlot ~ $13.00

5) 2013 Gundlach Bundschu Sonoma Valley Merlot ~ $29.99

6) 2014 Stags Leap Napa Valley Merlot ~ $30
14.1% alcohol

7) 2015 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ~ $60
14.5% alcohol

8) 2013 William Hill Estate Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ~ $34.99

9) 2013 Gundlach Bundschu Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ~ $40.00

10) 2013 William Hill Estate Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ~ $34.99

11) Spann Vineyards Lot 12 Betsy's Backacher ~ $24.00
48% Merlot, 39% Syrah, 6% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Sangiovese
13.4% alcohol

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

November TWITs - Tempranillo & Tapas - hosted by Rachel & Chris

November TWITs - Tempranillo & Tapas - hosted by Rachel & Chris

Date:  Saturday, November 4th, 2017 - 7pm ET

Theme:  Tempranillo & Tapas
"Wine is sunlight held together by water" - Galileo Galilei
Pronunciation: “Temp-rah-NEE-yo” - Tempranillo is derived from the word temprano, which in Spanish means “early.” Among red varieties in Spain, it’s considered an early ripener. Tempranillo is an easy to find and wildly diverse food-pairing wine that also happens to have great a great flavor profile for its value.

Tempranillo Characteristics: 
  • Fruit: Cherry, plum, tomato, and dried fig 
  • Other: Cedar, leather, tobacco, vanilla, dill, and clove 
  • Oak: Yes; typically aged 6-18 months in American or French Oak 
  • Tannin: Medium-plus tannin 
  • Acidity: Medium-minus acidity 
  • ABV: 13-14.5%

A Brief History of Tempranillo
  • Proof of wine in ancient Spain was discovered in 1972, when archaeologists unearthed a mosaic of the wine god Bacchus at Baños de Valdearados in north-central Spain. Tempranillo may well have been the wine shown in the mosaic because it has been in Spain since 800 BC. 
  • The Phoenicians brought wine to Southern Spain. Tempranillo originated from this area, so it’s quite possible that Tempranillo is related to the ancient Phoenician species in Lebanon.

"Beer is made by men, wine by God" - Martin Luther

Tempranillo Wine Profile: 
Major Regions: Spain (over 80% of vineyards worldwide), Portugal, Argentina, Australia, USA 575,000 acres / 232,700 hectares (2010) 
Common Synonyms:  Tinto del Toro, Tinta Fina, and Tinto del Pais (Spain); Tinta Roriz and Aragonez (Portugal) Other Names Rioja, Valdepeñas, Ribera del Duero

"Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages" - Louis Pasteur

Tempranillo is known by other names in certain regions:  Albillo Negro, Aldepenas, Aragon, Aragones, Aragonez, Aragonez 51, Aragonez da Ferra, Aragonez de Elvas, Arganda, Arinto Tinto, Cencibel, Cencibera, Chinchillana, Chinchillano, Chinchilyano, Cupani, De Por Aca, Escobera, Garnacho Fono, Grenache de Logrono, Jacibera, Jacibiera, Jacivera, Juan Garcia, Negra de Mesa, Negretto, Ojo de Liebre, Olho de Lebre, Pinuela, Sensibel, Tempranilla, Tempranillo de la Rioja, Tempranillo de Perralta, Tempranillo de Rioja, Tempranillo de Rioza, Tempranillo Rioja, Tinta Aragones, Tinta Corriente, Tinta de Madrid, Tinta de Santiago, Tinta de Toro, Tinta do Inacio, Tinta do Pais, Tinta Fina, Tinta Madrid, Tinta Monteira, Tinta Monteiro, Tinta Roris, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Santiago, Tinto Aragon, Tinto Aragonez, Tinto de la Ribera, Tinto de Madrid, Tinto de Rioja, Tinto de Toro, Tinto del Pais, Tinto del Toro, Tinto Fino, Tinto Madrid, Tinto Pais, Tinto Ribiera, Tinto Riojano, Ull de Liebre, Ull de Llebre, Valdepenas, Verdiell, Vid de Aranda.

"I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food" - W.C. Fields

What does Tempranillo taste like?  Spanish Tempranillo delivers contrasting flavors of leather and cherries. The finer the wine, the more balance there is between earth and fruit. The finish is typically smooth and lingers with the taste of tannin on both sides of your mouth. Tempranillo wines from New World regions, including Argentina, Mexico, and the United States, generally offer more fruit flavors like cherry and tomato-sauce, followed by chunky tannins and less earthy notes. Tempranillo can be characterized as either a medium- to full-bodied, with red fruit characteristics. If you’ve never tried Tempranillo before, you may find it has a similar taste profile to both Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tempranillo Food Pairing:  Tempranillo pairs well with all types of food because of its savory qualities. Regional Spanish cuisine, which includes roasted vegetables and cured meats, like the lusty Jamón Iberico de Bellota creates an exceptional pairing. However, the wine is diverse and not only pairs with local Spanish food, but it also works well foods from all over the globe. 
▸ Lasagna, pizza and dishes with tomato-based sauces 
▸ Barbecue grilled-meats, smoky dishes 
▸ Grits, polenta, and dishes with corn as a major ingredient 
▸ Mexican food such as tacos, nachos, burritos, and chile rellenos

"Wine is bottled poetry" - Robert Louis Stevenson

▸ Tasting Notes: Sour Cherry, Plum, Spicy Black Pepper and Bay Leaf 
▸ Average cost: $10–20 USD 
▸ Regions: Rioja Crianza, Ribera del Duero Roble and Crianza, Valdepeñas, Tinto de Toro, La Mancha, CastillaLeón, Extremadura 
▸ A juicy and spicy style of Tempranillo that typically receives less than a year of aging. Because wines are not aged long, they are spicy, fleshy and tart. Most value-driven Tempranillo tastes this way and the most well-known example of it is Rioja Crianza. In Central Spain, there are sub-$10 wines which are ideal for traditional Spanish Sangria

"Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile." - Homer

Reserva & Gran Reserva:  
▸ Tasting Notes: Cherry, Dried Fig, Vanilla and Cedar 
▸ Average cost: $25–35 USD 
▸ Regions: Rioja Reserva, Ribera del Duero Reserva, Toro Reserva, Aged Castilla-León 
▸ Bold high tannin wines that embellish Tempranillo’s best qualities that are aged for several years in oak and bottle. The aging of Tempranillo softens the variety’s spiciness and flavors become almost sweet and dried. The extended cost of aging explains why this style typically costs more. Keep your eyes peeled for wines labeled with Reserva and Gran Reserva.

*** This year International Tempranillo Day is November 9th, 2017!!! ***

Tasting Notes:
Welcome Wine:  2015 Estylo Puro Albarino ~ $18-19 @ Brookhaven Wines
12% alcohol, 100% Albarino
refreshing, tasted light, great beach wine.

1) 2015 Storyteller Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon  - $ purchased @ the winery
13.5% alcohol, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
OOPS this isn't a Tempranillo, but we didn't know that when we tasted it blind.
tomato, dry, cedar note, mineral, chalkiness, "let's just move on"

2) 2008 Dehasa la Granja - $18.99 @ Brookhaven Wines
14% alcohol, 100% Tempranillo
chocolate, perfumey nose, oaky, lighter, leather, velvet pepper finish, cherry, a lot more fruit, graphite,

3) 2012 Gomez Cruzado Haro Rioja Crianza - $20 @ H&F Bottleshop
14% alcohol, 100% Tempranillo
sweeter nose, a lot of pepper, younger than the last one, lighter, clay, high tannin

4) 2010 Vina Alberdi Reserva ~ $20 @ Brookhaven Wines
13.5% alcohol, 100% Tempranillo
leather, tobacco, cherry, pepper, I need this in a perfume, a study filled with books, acidic yet smooth, it has a really good feel in the mouth, velvety,

5) 2015 Campo Viejo Rioja - $12.99 @ Publix
15.5% alcohol, 100% Tempranillo
different nose, smells of cassis, lots of pepper, star anise, licorice, the nose keeps disappearing, tobacco-y, no flavor, it's flat, non-descript, nothing about it finishes, it's a wedding wine - approachable, a stereotypical tempranillo, not amazing.

6) 2010 Gran Reserve Cune ~ $35 @ Total Wine
13.5% alcohol, 100% Tempranillo
black cherry, smooth, mmm, bright red fruit, not as much tannin, apricot, spice @ finish, smooth, fuller taste, rounded, (if you said this was Sangiovese), pairs well with nachos, vanilla on the end, love it on the front but not on the finish, flat on the finish, one of my faves, orange rinds, a bit bitter.

7) 2006 Gran Reserva El Puntido - $40 @ CostCo Brookhaven
14% alcohol, 100% Tempranillo
got grip, tomatoey, peppery, dark, old musty leaves under a rotting log, tomato sauce and plum, got some age, wise old grandmother

8) 2011 Muga Rioja - $35 @ Savvy Provisions
14% alcohol, 100% Tempranillo
peppery, hot nose, very dry, sweet?, cherry bomb, luxardo, got grip, chewy, musty cherry vanilla,

9) 2014 Tinto Pesquera Crianza  - $36.99 @ Brookhaven Wines
14.5% alcohol, 100% Tempranillo
a smack in the face, serious pepper, urine odor, dry, tannic, grass, makes you pucker, I like the taste better than the smell, tart, dip-sticks candy, raisiny, port-thing going on, an olympic swimming pool of tannins, pairs with pepperoncini, green pepper, a pairing wine, needs food.

10) 2012 Ercavio Tempranillo Roble - $12.99 @ Jackie's Bottle Shop
14% alcohol, 100% Tempranillo
orange rind on the nose, vanilla, chocolate, spicy, cinnamon chocolae, cocoa, cherry.

11) 2014 Tridente Tempranillo ~ $15.99
15.5% alcohol, 100% Tempranillo
wow, holy crap, dark mellow fruit, noms, interesting, chewy, got grip, raisins, fruit salad, sangria

Food Pairings:
Patatas Bravas, romesco sauce, jamon, quesos, olives, jamon stuffed rolls, banderillas veggie skewers


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Lesser Known Italian Wines at Brookhaven Wines

Lesser Known Italian Wines 
at Brookhaven Wines

When:  Thursday, September 21st, 2017 - 7:00pm

Bring:  TWITs paid $20/person and everyone brought a potluck side dish to go with the wine

Theme:  Lesser Known Italian Wines - Eddie from Brookhaven Wines curated the wines for us

Lamb Bolognese
Gluten-Free Baguette
Bruschetta Spread
Italian Cheese
Heirloom tomato salad with basil, onion, and balsamic vinegar dressing
Italian Olives
Arancini with spicy tomato sauce

Tasting Notes:
1) NV Cinzia Sommariva Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore
100% Prosecco (Glera), 11.5% alcohol

2) 2014 Benanti Etna Biano
100% Carricante, 12% alcohol
Carricante, grown as alberello (free standing bush). This indigenous vine is cultivated only on Etna. Its name seems to be attributed by the vine-growers of Viagrande because of its characteristics of allowing a good, constant production over the years. The bunches, at ripeness are of average length, usually scattered; the grape is medium-sized with very pruinose skin and a green-yellowish color. 
The pulp is juicy and the taste is simple and sweet.

3) 2015 La Miraja Grignolino D'Asti
100% Grignolino, 13% alcohol
Grignolino is a red-wine grape from the Monferrato hills of Piedmont. The pale red wine that Grignolino grapes produce is a local curiosity (particularly in eastern Piedmont), and its lack of depth and charm means it has very few fans outside the region. The name Grignolino derives from the Piedmontese dialectal term grignolo, which means "pip". It serves as a warning that the variety produces grapes abundant in pips, and therefore tannins. The name does not, however, give any hint as to the grapes' searing acidity. Naturally high levels of tannin and acidity might suggest that Grignolino could rank alongside Piedmont's two most successful red varieties, Nebbiolo and Barbera, whose tannin and acid structure is a key element in their success. But this has not proven to be the case. The absence of warmth and intrigue in Grignolino wines has left the variety as a kind of back-up; it performs a similar role to Dolcetto (a fill-in wine to provide something to drink while the "proper" wines develop in barrel and bottle). If Grignolino had Dolcetto's depth, or if Dolcetto had Grignolino's acidity, things might be quite different, but fate has consigned these two grape varieties to the lower echelons of Piedmont's red wine grapes.  Despite the current lack of demand for Grignolino wines in general, there are two DOC titles devoted to the grape: Grignolino d'Asti and Grignolino del Monferrato Casalese.

4) 2013 Lechthaler Teroldego Rotaliano
100% Teroldego 13% alcohol
Intense ruby red. Bright nose of ripe black cherry, distinct sweet earth and tobacco. Smooth texture with notes of cherries, black raspberry, earth, and a touch of spice with ample acidity and medium tannins. Pairs well with vegetarian dishes, fish, poultry, pork and beef

5) 2008 Isole e Olena Syrah Collezione Privata, IGT
100% Syrah, 13.5% alcohol
"The 2008 Syrah Collezione Privata jumps from the glass with expressive, pungent aromatics and waves of super-expressive dark red/black stone fruits. Mint, sage, tobacco, rosemary and plums all develop in the glass, adding further dimensions of complexity. An intensely floral, savory finish laced with lavender, violets, rose petals and spices rounds things out. At six years of age, the 2008 Syrah remains fresh, vibrant and impeccable in its purity. In particular, the interplay of dense fruit and cooler, varietal Syrah notes is compelling. 94 points"
–Sept 2014, Antonio Galloni - Vinous Media

6) 2010 Tenuta Castelbuono 'Carapace', Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG, Italy
100% Sagrantino, 15% alcohol
"Intense, slightly mature garnet. Pleasurable nose of black berry fruits, orange peel and fine spices. Robust, full palate that is still fairly reticent and supported by a robust structure. Vegetal presence marks the finish. Promising. " Gilbert & Gaillard

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Arizona Wines & Blood Into Wine Documentary Viewing - Thursday August 17th, 2017

Arizona Wines & Blood Into Wine Documentary Viewing

When:  Thursday August 17th, 2017  @ 7:00 pm ET

Theme:  Arizona Wine Tasting & Blood Into Wine Documentary Viewing - Take a look inside the life of one of Rock music's most mysterious and interesting figures. With winemaking in his blood, multi-platinum recording artist Maynard James Keenan (Puscifer, A Perfect Circle, & TOOL) sets out to bring notoriety to Arizona's burgeoning wine regions.  Amidst industry prejudice and the harsh desert terrain, the transition from Rock Star to farmer is an amazing journey.

BRING: Due to the difficulty in procuring these wines, please bring $30/person (cash, check, PayPal or Venmo) for the wine tasting.

Welcome Wine:  Gruet Brut New Mexico

1) 2014 Merkin Vineyards Chupacabra Blanca, 
Chupacabra Blanca is our white Shape Shifter Kitchen sink blend
Varietals: 55% Riesling, 45% Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard: Buhl Memorial Vineyard in the Kansas Settlement of Cochise County, AZ
Elevation: 4200 feet
Handling: Whole cluster pressed; barrel fermented @ 52 degrees
Aged: Stainless steel
Winemaker: M.J. Keenan      
Alcohol: 13.5%
Impressions: A good showing of Arizona Riesling. Floral and lime zest nose. Tart like kiwi fruit or a key lime merangue pie, minus the cloying sweetness. A seeming natural effervescence. Would pair well with a butter leaf lettuce salad or mildly spicy cuisine.

2) 2014 Merkin Vineyards The Diddler, 
White Blend, Rich seductive palate suitable for hanky panky. Enjoy with a friend.
Varietals: 55% Viognier, 45% Pinot Grigio
Vineyard: Buhl Memorial Vineyard in the Kansas Settlement of Cochise County, AZ
Elevation: 4200 feet
Handling: Whole cluster pressed; stainless fermented @ 52 degrees. Aged in stainless.
Alcohol: 12.6%
Winemaker: M.J. Keenan
Impressions: The Pinot Grigio here is well balanced with the Viognier. Meyer lemon and orange zest, with mango, mineral and spice. Creamy/velvety with a long finish, Clouds parading across a blue autumn sky. Another day to cherish - snapshot this moment.

3) 2015 Merkin Vineyards Chupacabra Rosa,
Chupacabra Rosa is our pink Shape Shifter Kitchen sink blend
Varietals: 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 30% Mourvèdre
Vineyard: Buhl Memorial Vineyard, Cochise County, AZ
Soil: Sandy loam, gravely and sandy clay & silt loam Elevation: 4200ft
Process: Whole cluster pressed, barrel fermented, aged in stainless & new and neutral French oak.
Alcohol: 13.7%
Winemaker: MJ Keenan
Impressions: The bottle to open when you're not sure what will pair best with lunch or dinner. Great freshness, with tangerine and apricot notes that almost tingle your tongue, and rich, almost like a creamy flan. A stony, crystalline-crisp finish. There are no rules here…enjoy gulping this down to your heart's delight!

4) 2015 Merkin Vineyards Chupacabra,
Chupacabra is our Shape Shifter Kitchen sink blend. This red blend changes from year to year depending on where our Alchemistic inclinations lead us but is usually rooted in French/Alsatian varietals.
Varietals: 45% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre
Vineyard: Buhl Memorial Vineyard in the Kansas Settlement of Cochise County, AZ
Elevation: 4200ft
Process: Hand picked and sorted; open top and submerged cap fermentation; barrique aged 11 months, new and neutral French oak.
Winemaker: MJ Keenan
Alcohol: 13.5%
Impressions: Immediately enticing with scents of desert campfire smoke, leather & spice. Hints of plums and figs, dried apricots, tobacco, creasote and iron. Like a rich visceral and meaty tomato sauce followed later by cherry fruit rollups. Did I mention that it's fun to drink?

5) 2013 Merkin Vineyards Shinola,
Our ITALIAN Red Blend, Currently this bright acid-driven Red is made from Italian clones, including but not limited to Sangiovese, Refosco, Aglianico, Montepulciano, Dolcetto, Barbera depending on the vintage. Recognize the difference.
Varietals: 44% Sangiovese, 26% Montepulciano, 16% Dolcetto, 7% Refosco, 7% Primitivo
Vineyard: Luna Rosa Vineyard, Luna County, NM
Elevation: 4300ft
Process: Hand picked and sorted; barrique aged 12 months, new and neutral French oak.
Alcohol: 13.9%
Winemaker: MJ Keenan & J Bechard
Impressions: Medium bodied, easy drinking aromatic blend of Italian varietals. Recalls many aromatic memories: pine and cedar forest floor, vanilla, cinnamon, licorice, cherries off the tree, a raspberry thicket, slate chalkboard, fresh bread in the oven. Pair with a chair and that personal journal you always wanted to keep.

6) 2014 Merkin Vineyards Tarzan Red
This is a big hairy old world Iberian beast of a blend. Mostly Tempranillo with a dash of something Iberian depending on the year.
Varietals: 85% Tempranillo, 15% Graciano
Vineyard: Buhl Memorial Vineyard in the Kansas Settlement of Cochise County, AZ
Elevation: 4200ft
Process: Hand picked and sorted; open top & submerged cap fermentation, barrique aged 11 months, new and neutral French oak.
Winemaker: MJ Keenan
Alcohol: 13.5%
Impressions: Violets spring from fallen tree trunks holding leather saddles deep in a shady forest. Campfire smoke; meat on a charcoal grill; savory spices and black olives…comfort. Watching grazing horses in the distance, the first sip brings your palate back to the fore. Mexican chocolate, and cherry pie with a hint of vanilla add to a lingering finish.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

TWITs takeover Southbound - June 22nd, 2017 7pm ET

TWITs takeover Southbound - June  22nd, 2017 7pm ET

When:  Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 -  7:00pm ET

Theme:  Southbound's Big Mike and Olivier Savoye will be curating the wines for us.  Olivier chose the Beaujolais region of France, this is where he grew up.  Who better to curate the wines for us? Beaujolais is the land of Gamay, a red grape.  Gamay is a cross between Pinot Noir and the ancient white variety Gouais.  Most bottles can be purchased between $19 - $29.99 each.
It is an easy, joyful, unpretentious wine.  It is good to share with friends, for eating and drinking a lot.  It would pair well with blood sausage, boeuf bourguignon, mushrooms, charcuterie, etc.
In the early 1980s, Beaujolais began pumping out one-dimensional, over-commercialized bottlings made by large cooperative wineries using carbonic maceration. On top of that, Beaujolais Nouveau began its widespread marketing campaign across the globe. The result was a market that was flooded with these soulless, mass-produced wines.
      But then there was a resistance!  
Jules Chauvet, a man whom for many was the leader of the resistance in Beaujolais. Chauvet was a winemaker, a researcher, a chemist, and a viticultural prophet. It was he who, upon the advent of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the 1950s, first spoke out for “natural wine,” harkening back to the traditional methods of the Beaujolais.  Chauvet advocated traditional methods such as employing old vines, not using synthetic herbicides or pesticides, harvesting late, keeping only the healthiest grapes, adding minimal or no sulfur dioxide, and refusing to chaptalize and filter. This approach allows the wine to fully express the Morgon terroir and the result is fruit-driven wines with floral and mineral notes backed by solid structure.
  Joined by local vignerons Guy Breton, Jean-Paul Thévenet, and Jean Foillard, Marcel Lapierre spearheaded a group that soon took up the torch of this movement. Kermit Lynch dubbed this clan the Gang of Four, and the name has stuck ever since. These rebels called for a return to the old practices of viticulture and vinification: starting with old vines, never using synthetic herbicides or pesticides, harvesting late, rigorously sorting to remove all but the healthiest grapes, adding minimal doses of sulfur dioxide or none at all, and disdaining chaptalization.

(Upstairs in "The Peabody")
5394 Peachtree Rd.
Chamblee, GA 30341

BRING: $20/pp for the wine tasting

Tasting Notes:
1) 2015 Domaine Jean-Paul Dubost Tracot, White Beaujolais
95% Chardonnay, 5% Viognier
12.5% alcohol

2) 2014 Domaine Robert-Denogent, Cuvee Jules Chauvet
Beaujolais Villages
12.5% alcohol

3) 2014 Regnie - Guy Breton
12% alcohol
soil is pink granite soil of Cru Beaujolais, old vine, semi-carbonic maceration, no filtration, natural yeast, certified organic, some biodynamic practices.  dark chocolate, cherry, raspberry

4) 2015 Jean-Paul Dubost Cru Morgon "La Balls Fiere"
12.5% alcohol
cardamom, nutmeg, later with age the gamay is more meaty

5) 2015 Domaine de la Voute des Crozes, Cote de Brouilly
(Scea Chanrion viteculteurs, woman winemaker)
13.5% alcohol
violet, spice, earthy, darker hue, full carbonic maceration, not certified but organic practices, very little sulfur, natural, black cherry

6) 2016 Domaine Diochon Cuvee Vielles Vignes Moulin-a-Vent (Windmill)
13% alcohol
can age for decades, sustainable farming, 50-60 yr old vines, 1 yr in Burgundy barrels.

---- EXTRA wines we tasted

7) 2016 M & C Lapierre a Villie Morgan
13% alcohol
Sarl Mercel Lapierre

8) 2014 Domaine Diochon Cuvee Vielles Vignes Moulin-a-Vent (Windmill)

9) ???? Cremant de Bourgogne Rose Brut










Thursday, May 25, 2017

Alvaro de la Vina Wine Tasting @ Le Caveau - Thursday May 25th, 2017

Alvaro de la Vina Wine Tasting @ Le Caveau - Thursday May 25th, 2017

Alvaro de la Viña, owner of the amazing Selections de la Viña import company, selected some of the most exciting Natural Wines coming out of Spain.  Here are the wines we tasted from his portfolio:

NV Via De La Plata Brut Nature Rosé Extremadura
2015 Cerro la Barca 'Vegas Altas' Blanco Extremadura
2015 Finca Parera 'Clar' Blanco Penedès
2014 Partida Creus 'SM' Sumoll Catalunya
2015 Albamar 'Fusco' Mencia Ribeira Sacra
2015 Còsmic Vinyaters 'Llibertat' Tinto Empordà

Extra wines we tasted, not on the original list:
2016 Bodega Cauzon Cabronicus
2015 Finca Parera FOSC Sant Llorenc d'Hortons

With a name like Álvaro de la Viña (Álvaro from the vines), one would assume Álvaro’s family history has always involved wine. Instead, Álvaro grew up the son of a citrus fruit importer. Originally from Seville, Álvaro’s family moved to Madrid, then Equatorial Guinea before moving to Philadelphia in 1989, where his uncle was living. At this time, it was the golden age of Spanish clementines, and Philadelphia was, and still is, the main port of entry for fresh produce. Álvaro’s father found a job importing citrus fruit from Valencia. After about three years, the family moved to Rye, NY but stayed in the citrus importing industry. Álvaro and his family moved back to Spain when Álvaro was a junior in high school.

The passion for wine came during Álvaro’s college years in Madrid. After college, Álvaro moved back to the states to follow his father’s footsteps and import citrus fruit from Spain. Agriculture was his career, but wine was his obsession. A cult follower of Jose Pastor Selections, Álvaro could taste the authenticity of the wines and appreciate the natural practice behind them: nothing added, nothing taken away. Alvaro saw the connection between citrus fruit picked right off of the tree and wines made from nothing but fermented grape juice. He began to think of wine as a product of agriculture “made by real farmers.” Everything started to make sense: Álvaro would stop importing clementines and start importing natural wines. Álvaro has chosen to focus on Spain, so he can keep blending his Spanish heritage with American culture.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017 - Wine from Women Wine Producers - hosted by Abbie & Matt

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017 - 7pm - Wine from Women Wine Producers - hosted by Abbie & Matt

Theme:  Wine from Women Wine Producers
The Wine industry has often been dominated by male producers, but the times are changing, and we are starting to see more and more female wine producers putting their names on the map, even in old world areas!  Although we aren't meeting exactly on National Wine Day (May 25th), let's honor our Women Wine Producers this month at TWITs.  You might be surprised what you learn.  I learned about Arianna Occhipinti (pictured above) for example.  We've had her wine many times but who knew the story behind it?  This may mean you have to ask your local wine shop owner for some help in picking out the wine, but that's okay, that's what they are there for!
(and for the record my husband came up with this theme, not me - isn't he great?)

13 Badass Female Winemakers

12 Outstanding Wines from Women Winemakers

What we bring:  TWITs brought a bottle of a wine made from a woman wine producer - within our usual price range (Up to $20/bottle for Single Attendee, between $20 - $40/bottle for Couples, couples only expected to bring 1 bottle per couple)



Tasting Notes:

Welcome Wine:  2014 Domaine Galevan "Libre Expression" Cotes du Rhone - $19.99 @ Le Caveau Fine Wines
80% Clairette, 10% Rousanne, 10% Marsanne - 13.5% alcohol
Coralie Goumarre is the winemaker.  Libre Expression means “Free Expression”
A wine that claims its originality between freshness and roundness.  Its pale young and shimmering color, its nose of white fruits and scrubland, slightly mineral, and its generous, lively and powerful mouth, underline all the vigneron's know-how and the expression so peculiar to the terroir.  AOP Côtes du Rhône  -- Free Expression Grape varieties: Clairette, Roussanne, Marsanne
Coralie Goumarre is the first woman to take the reigns of the family domain for 9 generations.
Coralie Goumarre is also a member of Femmes Vignes Rhone –
Created in April 2004, the Vignes Rhône women's association was created at the initiative of Anne Hugues, vine grower in the Luberon at the Domaine de La Royère, and INTER-RHÔNE, interprofession of the Rhone Valley who assures us of its support From the beginning.
The members are all wine professionals from the Rhone Valley and perform various functions in the sector, such as: winegrowers, oenologists, sommeliers, merchants, sales and marketing managers, communication officers, specialized journalists.
Les Vignes Rhône Women are committed to promoting the profession of winegrower in a traditionally masculine environment.
Present at many events, professional or general public, in France and abroad, they intend to develop communication and dissemination of the appellations of the Rhone Valley by cultivating a simple and friendly approach to wine.
With about 30 members, the association represents the Côtes du Rhône appellations, Côtes du Rhône Villages, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Visan, Vacqueyras, Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Cornas, Coteaux du Tricastin Ventoux, Côtes du Lubéron and Costières de Nîmes ....

1) NV Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs, Russian River Valley Carneros - $18 @ Citi Wine & Spirits
100% Pinot Noir, 12.5% alcohol
light pink color, tasty, green apple and pear, herbacious, reminds me of gin, vinho verde
Gloria Ferrer built the first sparkling wine house in Carneros, the first to plant champagne clones, and the first to plant in Carneros.  Her family is also connected to Freixenet Cava.

2) 2015 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley - $40 @ Total Wine
100% Sauvignon Blanc, 14.1% alcohol
peach, pineapple, olive note, peaches, calvedos, pithy, pear, nectarine, tropical fruit, citrus, smooth & creamy, loreal shampoo,
Merry Edwards was the first female winemaker in California.  Starting in the 1970s, she fought gender discrimination and persevered in her career.  She helped change the wine industry by doing a large scale study on lead in wine, ultimately causing the industry to stop producing and using lead capsules.  She was a pioneer in recognizing clonal variations of Pinot Noir long before anyone in CA was paying attention.  She has her own clone of Pinot Noir called Merry's Clone UCD 37, and is building her vineyard from the ground up.  They are nearly 100% estate-based now. In 2013, Merry’s 40th year as a winemaker, she was not only inducted into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame, she also won the coveted James Beard Award for Best Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional in the United States, just the fourth woman to be so honored.

3) 2016 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough New Zealand - $19.99 @ The Juice Box
100% Sauvignon Blanc, 13% alcohol
kiwi nose, fresh cut grass, passion fruit, citrus, stone fruits, st germain, champers, elderflower,
Erica Crawford and her husband Kim are the winemakers and founders of Kim Crawford Wines.  They did sell the company, but are still involved with some of the winemaking there.  Read about their fascinating history here.

4) 2015 Jean Medeville et Fils, Bordeaux Blanc - $19.99 @ PH Wine Merchant
40% Sémillon, 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Muscadelle, 13% Alcohol
gravel, stone, fruit is green flesh, french, reminds me of a muscadet, jasmine, white flowers, unoaked Chardonnay, just a little green, oyster bed, grass
Jean Medeville is owned by 2 sisters now.

5) 2015 Mirassou Pinot Noir - $7.99 @ Minx
buttery nose, popcorn, old socks, caramel, butterscotch, raspberry, flimsy finish, flaccid, too sweet, too tart, not balanced, creamy texture, vanilla undertones.
The Mirassou's were the first to introduce Pinot Noir to California, and the first to realize the potential of the Central Coast.  The Mirassou family also led the way on several important innovations such as permanent vineyard irrigation and field pressing. Their contributions to the California wine industry are as much of a legacy as their wines! Henrietta Mirassou was left to run the company when her husband died at a young age.  She was imperative to keeping the company going and passing along to her sons.  Today Victoria Ferguson
is the head winemaker and continues their legacy.

6) 2013 HandCraft by Cheryl Indelicato - $13 @ Decatur Package Store
Pinot Noir with a touch of Sangiovese, 13.5% alcohol
more mature nose, black cherries, leather finish, it flogs the senses, mature pinot noir, bitter note on the finish, fruity start then evens out, a bit acidic, would pair well with pork chop, whipped neoprene, wet neoprene on a hot Caribbean dock,
Cheryl Indelicato is the Proprieter of Handcraft Artisan Collection Wines.  She is a health professional and vintner, so she makes wellness a top priority.  As part of her passion to make a positive difference, she created the program "HandCraft Cares" to support important causes with financial and in-kind donations.  Since 2012, HandCraft has contributed $220,000 to support breast cancer research, prevention, and awareness.

7) 2015 Cakebread Cellars, Anderson Valley, Napa California $60 @ The Juice Box
Pinot Noir, 14.7% alcohol
intense nose, vanilla currants, spice-pepper, black cherries, peppery finish, fresh cracked pepper, chocolatey,
Dolores Cakebread co-founded the winery in 1973 with Jack Cakebread.  Among her many accomplishments at the winery, including gardening flowers and veggies, she created The Cakebread Cellears Napa Valley Cookbook: Wine and Recipes to Celebrate Every Season's Harvest.  Each recipe is paired with a Cakebread Cellars wine making it possible to recreate the delicious and idyllic Napa Valley lifestyle at home.

8) 2013 Cambria Estate Benchbreak Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley - "minus $5" @ City Wine & Spirits (because he bought the T-shirt)
Pinot Noir, 13.5% alcohol
plum mouth, prune nose, the de-aging wine, the Benjamin Button wine, thin, flimsy finish,
Barbara Banke & Jess Jackson's Daughters: Julie & Katie grew up among these vines.  These women have shaped Cambria into who they are today. Cambria Winery stands not only for quality, but community. As a female-owned and operated winery, they know that when strong women work together, they can change the world!  Seeds of Empowerment Program is a $100,000 annual grantmaking program that celebrates remarkable women leaders and charitable organizations. From supporting the winery’s Santa Maria Valley community, to honoring women making a difference on the other side of the world, Cambria created Seeds of Empowerment to recognize and inspire leadership in women across the USA and around the globe

9) 2014 Domaine Galevan "Paroles de Femme" Cotes du Rhone - $17.99 @ Le Caveau Fine Wines
60% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Cinsault, 10% Carignan - 14% alcohol
Paroles de Femme means "Words of woman"
chalky, bubble gum, cinnamon, big red on the palate, flower, lilacs on the nose, goldschlagger, black licorice, tobacco, fireball, cough drops, halls, leathers, ash, a Monday wine, hyacinth, cloves
Coralie Goumarre is the winemaker - we wrote about her for the welcome wine, see above.

10) 2013 Susana Balbo Malbec, Valle de Uco, Argentina - $25 @ Hintons Wine
94% Malbec, 6% Petit Verdot - 14.5% alcohol
chocolate, red fruits, earthy, artichokes on the palate, inky, dense, smooth, its good, I'd bring this on a date, tobacco leaf, certainly quaffable, intense, better than the wine I brought, ageable, fresh cut grass, "a big boy"
Known as the "Queen of Torrontes", Susana Balbo was the first female in Argentina to get her degree in enology.  She was in charge of developing and stylizing the Torrontes varietal. In 2012 she was recognized as one of the "Most Influential women Wine-makers" by the Drink Business Magazine, and in 2015 she was awarded by the same magazine as "Woman of the year".  She is the first Argentinean woman hired as a consultant to wineries worldwide. She now has her own winery and is creating her own wines.

11) 2011 Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal Bordeaux Pauillac, France - $42 @ Total Wine
Bordeaux Blend, 13% alcohol
perfume nose, sexy nose, raspberry, flavored cigarillos, rose, tobacco, cherry cavendish, wonderful nose, cloves,
One of the 18 5th growth (crus) vineyards of 1855 in Bordeaux.
Claire Villars Lurton (winemaker) was born into a family of winemakers.  She was a doctorate student in Physics and chemistry applied to archeology in Paris. When her parents died in an accident, she returned to Bordeaux to help manage the family estates.  While juggling this, she studied viticulture and oenology at the Faculty of Oenology in Bordeaux, and was trained by her grandfather Jacques Merlaut.  At the young age of 25 she took over management of Chateaux Ferriere, Haut-Bages Liberal, and La Gurgue.  Read more about this amazing woman here:

12) 2015 Katherine Goldschmidt, Crazy Creek, Alexander Valley - $20 @ The Juice Box
100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5% alcohol
sexy wine, smooth, higher alcohol content, Syrah perhaps, its a big bold red, how about that? nose black tea, cherry, mocha, dark spices.
Katherine Goldschmidt is the daughter of Nick Goldschmidt, owner/vintner and winemaker.  His expertise is being passed down to his 5 children as evidenced by the wines released under their names (Chelsea, Hilary, and Katherine).
*We also tasted a 2014 of this same wine.  Delicious!

13) 2014 Cambria Tepusquet Vineyard Syrah - $30 for Club Members
100% Syrah, 14.5% alcohol
chocolate, cranberry, black currants, earthiness if you stick your nose in it really far, burnt tar, pavement, toasted toffee, smores, caramel taste, grip!
This wine was made by Denise Shurtleff, who joined Cambria Winery in 1999.  Read more about Cambria above.

14) Gallo Pinot Noir Magnum - $7.99 @ Minx
Pinot Noir, 12.5% alcohol
Early pine sol vintage, we're not snobs it's just awful, toothpaste & grape jelly, glue paste, juicy juice, juicy juice is better than this wine, all the grapes in welches together, Methodist communion wine.
Gina Gallo is heiress to the Gallo estate.

15) Myx Fusions Moscato - 6-pack is $
Moscato wine & Peach flavoring, 5.5% alcohol
Um no!
Nicki Minaj's product.

Overall we learned that Women Winemakers appear to care more about sustainability in winemaking, and about helping other women in the wine industry.




Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day Wine Tasting - April 22, 2017 - hosted by Ms. Vicki & Ms.Lane

Earth Day Wine Tasting - April 22, 2017 - hosted by Ms. Vicki & Ms.Lane

Theme:  Biodynamic or Organic, Sustainable Wines
Biodynamic wine - The concept of Biodynamics started in the 1920s with an Austrian Philosopher named Rudolph Steiner.  It is a holistic, homeopathic manner of farming that, of course, also includes viticulture.  It is the oldest, anti-chemical agrigultural movement that predates the creation of organic farming by about 20 years. - Wine Folly
A wine made from biodynamic grapes means that a vintner uses biodynamically grown grapes, but followed a less strict list of rules in winemaking. sustainability refers to a range of practices that are not only ecologically sound, but also economically viable and socially responsible. 

Organic wine is wine made from grapes grown in accordance with principles of organic farming, which typically excludes the use of artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. There are an estimated 1500–2000 organic wine producers globally,including negociant labels, with more than 885 of these organic domaines in France alone. The legal definition of organic wine varies from country to country. The primary difference in the way that organic wine is defined relates to the use (or non use) of preservatives during the wine-making process.
In the USA, strict rules govern the organic winemaking process at all stages of production including harvesting, the types of yeast that can be used during fermentation as well as storage conditions. These rules are applied for all imported and domestic wines that acquire USDA certification. In the USA, the total sulfite level must be less than 20 parts per million in order to receive organic certification. Organic certification in the UK is more simple as based on the fact that the grapes are grown organically.

Bring:  TWITs should bring a bottle of an Organic or Biodynamic Sustainable Wine - within our usual price range (Up to $20/bottle for Single Attendee, between $20 - $40/bottle for Couples, couples only expected to bring 1 bottle per couple)
Be prepared to tell us why you selected that bottle to bring.  We want to hear your story.

Lane & Vicki served organic food for the tasting. it was DELICIOUS!



Tasting Notes:
1) 2010 IGT Saladini Pilastri (Vendemmia) Pregio del Conte Rosso - $16.49 @ Total Wine
blend of 50% Montepulciano and 50% Aglianico
13.5% alcohol
unfiltered, dark tart fruits, tastes French, dark garnet, dry, lovely nose, strawberry, cranberry, spicy, lively, drinkable

2) 2015 Nicolas Carmarans "Maximus" Aveyron, Languedoc-Rousillon - $29.99 @ Le Caveau
100% Fer Servadou
11.5% alcohol 
smells of Jura, funky, day drinking, effervescent, floral, fizz from tip of your tongue down, refreshing, fun in your mouth, needs more chill, there's a creaminess to it.

3) 2014 Elizabeth Rose Pinot Noir, Yountville, CA - $21.99 @ Total Wine
100% Pinot Noir
13.9% alcohol
funky, death in the fridge, French, I know this wine, this is different, peppery, celery, the Bloody Mary, well-balanced, peppery finish, soooo peppery, "tastes like it was made from grape", cherry nose, maraschino cherry, 

4) 2011 Les Champs de l'Abbaye Monthelie Les Sous Roches, Cote de Beaune, France - $50 @ Le Caveau  100% Pinot Noir
12% alcohol
funky nose, dry, bold, least favorite, simple wine for simple drinking, flat, I would drink this, a house wine, Irish Springs Soap, acidic, terrible finish, flaccid, pair carefully, unattractive sweet tart, the nose is promising but the palate doesn't deliver, a bad date, it doesn't have a flavor, where's the dumping thing? it feels like it will never open up, it's not going places, you're fired.

5) 2013 Domaine Olivier Pithon "Cuvee Lais" Languedoc-Rousillon - $26 @ Le Caveau (with case discount).  Blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan
13.6% alcohol
funk-bomb, barnyard, cow pasture in outer space, the mouth is nice, tastes better than it smells, like cheese, serious tannins going on, grippy-ness on your molars, mohair socks on your molars.