St Patrick’s Day Pairings

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As March 17th 2015 approaches I am excited once again about the pairing challenge for cabbage, corned beef and the usual Saint Patrick’s day fare with wine. As you can see below Cóte du Rhône and Rose’ paired beautifully at our First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting a few years back.  There is something to say about good note taking because the years since are a blur. What did we drink?

This year, although beer will of course also be served, I already have wine on my mind. I’m also thinking of a dinner twist; serving corned beef stuffed cabbage. Hopefully this will become a reality and not just a pending future idea like my corned beef empanadas. But you never know, if the luck of the Irish be with me and leftovers are plentiful I foresee both in my near future. Ah, I can dream…

Whole Foods Market NMIAWith the main dish checked off my list I can now concentrate on the important stuff, wine! As it slowly comes together my wine list, go figure, will start with cider. I have a delicious French, organic hard apple cider  that I think will be a welcome addition to the mix, specially in Miami’s already 85+ degree weather.  Next up a Rose’ Vihno Verde by Orlana from our Whole Foods Portugal Point of Origin  program running now. This light and fruity wine with notes of strawberries and raspberries will be the perfect transition from the drier cider.  Finally instead of a Grenache driven Cóte du Rhóne I am going to go with a 100% old vine Garnacha from the Calatayud region within Aragón, Spain. Evodia comes to mind. The low tannins yet spicy and fruity mix will add excitement to the celebration.

St. Patrick’s Day meal and drinks are planned.  What’s missing?  I should probably start inviting guests! Part of me wishes it were being held today with all the talk of wonderful foods and beverages. But at least we have something to look forward to. I better get shopping!  ¡SALUD!

Corned Beef wine or better yet what to serve with…./ Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais

Food pairing can always be exciting, traumatizing or best a learning experience. I chalked this one up to an exciting learning experience. Thank the powers that be for the internet and well-informed wine rep’s or salespeople.

My research prior to our recent 2012 St. Patrick’s Day supper led me to three varietals for our corned beef, cabbage and potatoes au gratin casserole: Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais.  Our choices were:

Domaine Fontanyl Rose de Provence, Les Halos de Jupiter (Cambie) Côtes-du-Rhône 2009 [Grenache], Debeaune Morgon Belles Grives, 2009 [Beaujolais].

All three wines were easily attained through local retailers and were either a “featured wine” or an “employee recommendation”.  More importantly all  were less than $15.00 each.  Unplanned was the fact that all 3 turned out to be French wines.

Our original plan was to pick one varietal and go with it. But once in the store and intrigued by how each would taste with our main entrée it was decided we would pick one of each and have our very own First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting! I’m not sure our recently visited family members in Ireland would approve but they seemed to be pretty understanding when it came to drinking any type of beverage.

Luckily for me and our party of 7 none of the wines was a bust. We had 2 standouts and one probably described as not robust enough to meld with all the different meal flavors involved.  Not being a big  “Rose” fan I was pleasantly surprised to see how well this dry Rose in particular paired with our meal. This easily could have been the winner of the evening with 6 out of 7 of the group favoring it but then came the mostly Grenache blend. This turned out to be the true hit of the night; robust, peppery with very nice fruit aromas on the nose such as strawberry. It was close but the 2009 Les Halos de Jupiter gets our Shamrock Trophy for 2012.

I am looking forward to the next challenge, SALUD!

Wine notes:

LES HALOS DE JUPITER 2009;

90 points Wine Spectator: “[$23 list] Sleek but concentrated, with delicious dark cherry confiture, Linzer torte and blackberry notes backed by a graphite- and black tea-filled finish. Sneakily long. Drink now through 2012. 2,000 cases made. (6/15/11)”

88-90 points Robert Parker: “An outrageous wine sourced from Visan, Cairanne and Rasteau is the 2009 Cotes du Rhone. Dominated by Grenache, it comes across like a mini-Chateauneuf du Pape. Its dark ruby/purple color is followed by boisterous kirsch, sandy, loamy soil, tobacco leaf, pepper and spice notes. Generously endowed, round, silky textured and explosively fruity, it is an enormously satisfying wine to drink over the next 3-4 years. (Oct 2010)”.

Domaine Fontanyl Rose de Provence   

Crisp, Berry, Strawberry, Cherry, Light-bodied

France- Lively and fragrant, this beautiful Rose from Provence shows alluring aromas of ripe berries and dark flowers. The flavors of ripe strawberry and wild cherry are presented in a sophisticated manner that preserves the character of the fruit, but in a dry, straightforward style.

Debeaune Morgon Belles Grives, 2009   

90 Wine Advocate:

Wine Advocate – Beaujolais, France – “On the nose aromas of strawberry and cherry preserve, Infectiously juicy and bright, it finishes invigoratingly and mouth watering with tart berry and salt, yet an undertone of meatiness also persists that is apt to become more prominent as the wine evolves.”

Viva España! Marques De Griñon – 2009 CALIZA Red Blend

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CalizaThis Spanish beauty comes to us from Dominio de Valdepusa.  Located in central Spain in the Provence of Toledo. It was the first estate to receive the DO de Pago the highest Spanish classification for wine of which there are now fifteen.   Along with stringent quality requirements these classified wines must be produced, processed and aged on the estate. Dominio de Valdepusa has been in the family of Carlos Falcó Fernandez de Córdova, the Marquis of Griñón, since 1292.

From their web-site:

Caliza” means limestone in Spanish, used in naming this wine so as to pay homage to the unique soil profile at this Dominio de Valdepusa estate. The moderate layer of clay topsoil over rocky limestone leads to elegantly structured wines. Caliza is a blend of Syrah and Petit Verdot which are fermented in stainless steel followed by one year in new and second passage French oak.

Along with Syrah and Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon is also planted among their 125 acres. A variety of grapes that seems to be working quite well for winemaker Julio Mourelle and estate owner Carlos Falcó who have repeatedly received 90-91 point scores for past vintages from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast.

My notes:

On the nose; spice [vanilla], wood [oak], dark fruit [blueberry, blackberry] with some red fruit [raspberry] as it opened. On the palate; at first the fruit was a bit closed off and the wine quite tannic as I noted cocoa and the effects of this blend coating my mouth with a purple hue. As the wine was decanted and opened for over an hour it was interesting to notice it transform into a luscious fruit bomb with notes of; tobacco, earthiness [wet soil/mushrooms], smokiness, chocolate, raisin and what I noted to be a fig/guava finish.

Since discovering this vino I recommend it regularly to customers who are looking to try something new, enjoy red blends or are looking for a fruit forward yet well-balanced medium bodied wine. Usually priced in the $18-$25.00 range the popularity of this 14.5% ALC Spanish wine continues to grow. I am personally impressed by the history and pedigree of the property [1292!]. More so, I was very surprised by the change brought about by decanting. A fact I will be suggesting to our customers moving forward. “Age and or decant!”  The results will make it very worth your while.  ¡SALUD!

 

Winemaker’s Notes

Deep purple in color with ruby reflections, this wine shows alluring notes of blackberries and cassis with undertones of cinnamon and minerality. On the palate,it is beautifully full-bodied and silky with refreshing acidity and flavors that unfold into the long-lasting finish.

Meeting Girard Winery’s Marco DiGiulio

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In-store tasting WFMNMIA

 

They had me at “Girard”.  Recently I was asked by a wine distributor if I’d have an interest in hosting a Meet the Winemaker event for our store, Whole Foods Market North Miami.  Said winemaker would be in town for other events and was interested in doing a tasting/bottle signing event. Since we’d done well with other similar events the offer was put on the table. It was true, we’d had great success in the recent past with winemakers in our store.  Our customers and team members truly enjoyed the one on one interaction and learning experience of these “Rock Star” wine moments.

 

Bottle Signing

 

So far so good, but the question was being put to me during the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve trifecta of shopping and retail event madness.  My head was spinning. I recall I mustered the strength to ask “can you tell me who it is?” and the distributor replied Marco Digiulio of Girard Winery. I am sure the distributor went on with a short history of the winery and their wines. All I heard was “Girard“……

 

 

Artistry poured WhineCheersWine

Girard just happens to be the producer of one of my favorite wines: Artistry. A consistently excellent fruit rich yet earthy Napa red blend that I consider to be one of my special occasion go-to wines.  In fact when I was hired by Whole Foods as a Specialty Beverage Buyer and asked to list my top wines for the department you can bet Girard was on there. At the time I was able to bring in their Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and Artistry. Presently, we also stock their Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. On my in-store wish list is the Petite Sirah, presently out of stock and the Old Vine Zinfandel which knocked my socks off.

 

Girard Tasting 2015

 

Whole Foods NMIA CalendarMeeting Marco, yes we are now on a first name basis although some refer to him as Girard’s “Chief Wine Overlord”, was a wonderful opportunity for me to taste and compare earlier, current and new vintages. It was also my first time trying the white wines of Girard. Wines I can now recommend to our customers as I tell them what style of wine-making went into these productions. Stories I picked up from Girard’s Chief Wine Overlord himself.  ¡SALUD!

Wine Spectator Top 100 – #45 tikal Patriota 2012 Malbec Bonarda Blend

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TIKALtikal Patriota 2012 Malbec Bonarda

Once again I was excited to discover a recent 2014 WINE SPECTATOR Top 100 selection among our shelves at Whole Foods Market North Miami. This Ernesto Catena (the eldest son of Nicolás Catena of Catena Zapata) wine had been selling briskly ever since I brought it in a few months ago but now that the word is out I am constantly refilling our shelves. Here’s hoping it continues to be available and does not sell out quickly as vinos tend to do once praised with this kind of attention. Luckily for us earlier vintages have also been rated in the 90+ range and deservedly so.

Ernesto Catena Vineyards info: Tikal is owned by Ernesto Catena and is named after his son. Ernesto spent his childhood in the vineyards of Mendoza among wine-growers and local pundits. Since then, he has experienced a kaleidoscope of cultures, living in New York, Buenos Aires, Berkeley, Cambridge (MA), Milan and London. But his heart remains in his homeland of Argentina (where he now lives), with its natural beauty of mountains, streams and vineyards, its wines, and its people who hold a special passion for living.

Luis Reginato is the winemaker at Tikal behind the 2012 vintage. He has been with TIKAL and the Catena family since 2002 overseeing various wine lines.  In the 10 plus years he has developed a reputation of having a Midas-touch producing wines consistently rated in the 90+ range.  Usually coming in under $25.00, I like the fact that these wines are not exaggeratedly priced. The Tikal Patriota can currently be found for $18-$23.00.

I have long been a fan of the Malbec and Bonarda varietals and am excited to see such blends increasing in the marketplace. Some even including Syrah. This one in particular comes in at 60% Malbec and 40% Bonarda from Vista Flores and La Vendimia Mendoza. Aged 12 months in 70% French and 30% American oak.

My notes included red fruit [strawberry, raspberry] on the nose along with vanilla spiciness. On the palate the fruit flavors turned darker [plum, blackberry], chocolate, with the oak spiciness and earthiness at mid-palate and beyond. For me I think this wine needed to age a bit in the bottle or decant for longer. Although I started to imbibe as soon as the cork was popped, I did not note a varied difference at the 1 hour mark. Unfortunately I was not able to give the wine more time to develop which I feel it would have. Did I enjoy it? Wholeheartedly yes.  Will I continue to recommend this wine and praise its accolades? Yes again. But, the next time I serve this wine you can bet it will be decanted for over an hour or if patience allows I’ll be drinking it 1-2 years from now when I believe it will be at its true peak. ¡SALUD!

 

Winemaker’s Notes

Deep reddish purple with aromas of bright berry/cherry fruit. Like swallowing a whole bowl of mixed ripe berries at once. Big body yet very balanced, with luscious layers of raspberry, cherry, and cocoa flavors. Just a hint of baking spice at the end brings it all together. Pairs well with grilled meats such as beef and pork, smoked ham, and even pizza with meat toppings. Incredibly fun to drink!

WS Tasting Note

Tikal Patriota 2012 is a blend of 60% Bonarda and 40% Malbec hand harvested with no fining and no filtering and aged 70% in French oak (40% new) and 30% in 2nd use American oak. This Argentine red offers intense layered flavors of raspberry, cherry, cocoa, with a hint of spice, full body and excellent balance with a long finish. “A rich red, packed with concentrated flavors of blackberry, dark plum and mocha, featuring plenty of dark chocolate notes. Offers a ripe texture, with creamy accents and hints of savory herb on the long finish.” -Wine Spectator (91 Points)

Wine Spectator Top 100 – #8 Brewer Clifton Pinot Noir

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Brewer Clifton PNBrewer Clifton – 2012 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

 

It seems I picked the perfect winter night, for Miami that is, to pop open the cork on this beautiful wine. Picture it; a day off, a clear night, temperature in the upper 50’s maybe breaking 60, windows open, outdoor fire pit roaring and the smell of roasting chicken flowing through the house.

I had been biting at the bit to try this wine ever since the Wine Spectator Top 10 wine list was released and I discovered we had this particular vintage on the shelves at Whole Foods. Let’s just say we didn’t have it for long.  Before I knew it our stock was depleted but luckily not before I had set aside a bottle or two for myself.

The one drawback to this perfect setting was the fact that I was drinking alone. I do not recall the exact circumstances but my better half would be arriving later and our beloved Miss Jane the American Bulldog didn’t count. Upon serving my first pour, taking in the multitude of aromas and taking my first sip I got the urge to start inviting others over! This had to be shared, I couldn’t be selfish. My mad texting was to no avail, my nearby wine loving crew were all unfortunately predisposed. Go figure, dinner time on a weeknight.  We’ve always joked about “drinking and dialing” but in this case the drinking hadn’t really started!

My wine tasting brought about another interesting reaction. As I reviewed my notes, at the top of the list: “wanted to drink immediately!”. Now I can’t say I haven’t felt that way before but it doesn’t happen all that often and I can’t believe I actually wrote it down.

My [other] notes;

Nose: Fragrant!, leggy on the glass [Alc. 14.5%], rich red fruit, leather, strawberry, blue/blackberry, dark fruit as it opens, earthiness under the fruit,

Palate: Fruit forward perfection, with spice at the back end,  smooth up front with alcohol kick at the end [needs to open or age to soften], perfumy; lavender, licorice.

I can see why this wine is receiving the accolades that it has. As per the tasting notes provided by Brewer – Clifton the grapes for this wine are 100% Pinot Noir and come from two of their estate vineyards: 3-D and Machado.  For more information on the winery or winemakers check out Prince of Pinot Pinofile or the Brewer Clifton website.

I say, if you can find this wine BUY IT. It is an incredible value at under $40.00 and should age beautifully should you have the patience for that kind of thing. Me and my second bottle? I will be popping that cork as soon as my wine loving friends can fit me into their busy schedules. I guess more importantly when I can fit them into mine because I will be bringing the wine!  ¡SALUD!

 

Wine Spectator:

94 Points. Pure, rich and vivid, with snappy wild berry, pomegranate, lavender, black tea and mint notes, ending with firm tannins and a stemmy edge, lending traction to the palate. Drink now through 2023. 1,226 cases made.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

92 Points. The 2012 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills is a beautiful effort that has a tinge of Burgundian flair in its forest floor, licorice and black cherry driven personality. Medium-bodied, rounded, supple and with serious focus and cut, it’s a great value to enjoy over the coming 5-7 years.

Top 10 Wines – 2014

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TOP 10 Wines Picked by You

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As 2014 comes to a speedy end it is time to let the Whine and Cheers readers decide what the TOP wines of the year were for them. With close to 40,000 hits it’s interesting to see which wines are being researched the most.

Even more compelling to me is where these searches are coming from. Listed below at the end of this post you’ll find the TOP 15 countries [out of 96!] where searches were initiated leading them to Whine and Cheers for Wine.  For those wonderingRepublic of Tanzania came in at number 16!

As the drum-roll begins I have to admit that one post in particular wins the gold star for most hits all year-long. No matter the day, the week or the month, wine drinkers are intrigued and their attention peaked. The honor belongs to Australia’s 19 CRIMES Red Blend. Wonderfully marketed, its fan base continues to grow.

BEERCAMP@WCW2014For this TOP 10 wine list it will be exactly that, wines not themes. But it is intriguing to note that Beer with;  My 12 Days of Beer Camp, along with Winemaker Visits  B.R. Cohn Visits Whole Foods and Wine Clubs;  Hit or Miss the Wall Street Journal Wine Club would have made the TOP 10 otherwise.   So here we go….

 The Whine and Cheers For Wine Top 10 of 2014 picked by the general wine researching public!

 

Guilty! 19 Crimes

The Luck of the Blends – The Dreaming Tree Crush by Steve Reeder & Dave Matthews

HANDS Cabernet Sauvignon – Robertson, South Africa 

THE SHOW Pinot Noir on the road – from Chile to California

Joel Gott Zinfandel – 2011 vs. 2009

APOTHIC RED – 2010 Winemakers Blend

Wine Discovery of the Week – DiamAndes 2012 Perlita Malbec-Syrah

SALDO –The Prisoner Wine Company

Chateau de Macard Bordeaux Superieur 2009

Tablao Red Wine Navarra 2012

with 2 others close behind:

Honig Napa 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon – My First Wine of 2014

Revisiting Trivento’s Amado Sur Red Blend

 

Just as with the different countries visiting our site I am glad to see a nice variety of wines and varietals represented on this TOP list: Argentina, Napa, California, Spain, Bordeaux, Chile, South Africa and Australia.

No real common denominator other than the fact they were all found here by you along with others from around the globe.  Our world being brought together one wine at a time….. ¡SALUD! 

THE SHOW 2012  Diamandes Perlita @WCW2014EWM_SaldoZinfChateau de Macard Bordeaux Superieur 2009

 

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SALDO – The Prisoner Wine Company

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whineandcheersforwine.com

This wine has been a house favorite for quite a few years. I do not remember exactly how I came to discover it but most likely the introduction was made by a certain Zinfandel loving pair we call neighbors and great friends. Gotta love it when friends and wine come together.

Originally from Dave Phinney the winemaker/founder for The Prisoner / Orin Swift wines. SALDO is now produced by The Prisoner Wine Company since the sale of the company in 2009. From TPWC:

When we took ownership of The Prisoner and Saldo in 2009 from Orin Swift, we knew assembling the right team would be essential. With more than a decade of winemaking experience at Ravenswood crafting Zinfandel, Jen Beloz was the ideal person to take the lead. In order to remain true to the wine’s original style and vision, Jen worked alongside Dave Phinney, founder of The Prisoner, for the first two vintages.

Interestingly many wine lovers and fans of these wines think that Orin Swift is a real person. In fact the name was created by Dave Phinney himself. Orin is his father’s middle name and Swift his mother’s maiden name.

saldoBefore SALDO the wine gets you hooked, the bottle label or lack thereof grabs your attention. I love the minimalism of the old-fashioned, retro for most, hand embossed label. Customers enjoy not only looking at it but touching and reliving their memories of making their own labels.

From TPWC: The word “saldo” has various meanings throughout the romance languages of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. In Spanish, it mainly refers to “balance on hand,” and sometimes it can also be interpreted “from here and there.”

Most recently vino and friendship crossed paths again and I got to enjoy the 2011 vintage SALDO at a local Miami Beach restaurant with an out-of-town friend. Once I saw it on the wine menu, and well priced at that, the decision was made. This rich, velvety, medium bodied, fruit forward blend of 83% Zinfandel, 11% Petite Sirah, 6% Syrah paired beautifully with dishes such as; Ropa Vieja [Cuban shredded beef], Oxtail, Beef Tenderloin, grilled brussels sprouts, cheese grits, macaroni and cheese and even tostones [fried plantains]. Heck, it drank deliciously by itself.

whineandcheersforwine.com

Winemaker Notes:

The 2011 Saldo has an intense ruby color and bold aromas of dark berry fruit, blueberry pie, cardamom and baking spice. The entry is rich and full, and leads into a broad mid palate with concentration and density, backed by lively acidity. The texture is soft and velvety, with polished tannins. The finish is long with persistent notes of chocolate, roasted coffee bean and vanilla spice.

I like the consistency SALDO has shown along the way since first produced in 2007. I recommend it regularly at our store and it has become a customer favorite.  This wine is perfect for not only the Zin lovers and grill-masters out there but also for fans of big bold medium bodied, full flavored red blends. ¡SALUD!