Category Archives: Sparkling Wine

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words 

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Carolyn Wente visits

 

What a year! As 2014 blended into 2015 and now 2016, the wine retail dust is settling. Tastings, winemaker visits, holiday programs, classes, marketing events and more encompass my blur of a year as a Wine Buyer for Whole Foods Market. Luckily for me, lots of wine and little whine.

In no particular order some highlights of my wine filled year in photos. ¡SALUD!
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
    PIATTELLI MALBEC 201319 CRIMES WINE

Whole Foods Market NMIA

Whole Foods Market NMIA

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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 be said 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.”

Life Through Rosé Colored Glasses – Vinho Verde Rosé? Rioja Rosé?

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Looking at the world through Rosé colored glasses helped ease the stress of a joint Fathers Day and Birthday dinner party for seven this last Sunday.  The pressure was on.  What to cook was on my mind all week up to the last-minute.

My much appreciated epiphany arrived by way of sampling stations at Whole Foods Market North Miami.  Our cold Sunday supper summer menu was quite the hit. So much so that I really got to enjoy it myself. Even after realizing I had not cooked any of the items myself as I had originally planned.  Their may be something to be said about catering or buying prepared foods for dinner parties 🙂

Our menu started with cheeses from: buffalo milk, a goat blue, goat and cow’s milk combined soft cheese from Vermont Creamery and a Gouda from Holland with cumin seeds. Although all cheeses were a hit the Vermont Creamery Cremont blew everyone away. I recently sampled the Cremont to customers in our Whole Foods Specialty department and we sold out in what felt like minutes!

Our feast continued with: Bison roast beef , key lime and cilantro shrimp, loaded potato salad and a kale salad with almonds, dried apples and cran-raisins. Luckily room was left for dessert. Chocolate layer cake with butter cream strawberry icing. The one item actually cooked in our house. Baked by my better half who has become quite the dessert maker!

Thinking summer and a cold surf and turf supper lead me to rosé wines I had eyed with interest.  A Rosé green wine? Vinho Verde by Casal Garcia and a Rosé Rioja [?] by El Coto. Two varieties of Rosé I had never come across before.

Casal Garcia comes from winemakers Quinta de Aveleda.  A family tradition: making wine since 1671. In my research I found that Portugal has exported its wine since the 14th century and is Europe’s fourth-largest wine-producing region.  A statistic that quite honestly surprised me.

I could swear the screw top popped like a cork as I was opening it! Beautiful intense rose color reminding me of watermelon candy pink on this 85 point Wine Spectator rated wine.  Dry with a rich fruit mid palate. Lingering finish. A very passable summer sipper at a great price of under $10.00 U.S.

3,000 cases made.

Spains Rioja region does not usually cry out ¡Rosé! to me but this could just be ignorance on my part.  Made from equal parts Tempranillo and Garnacha [Grenache] this wine comes to us from the area of Rioja Alavesa and its lime and clay soils. As per the  El Coto winemaker it is made with short cold maceration in contact with the skins to extract the colour, and fermentation. From grapes grown on their 500 hectare vineyard.

I found the Coto Rioja rosé to be herbal,  earthy and spicy on the nose with notes of raspberry and strawberry.  Dry on the nose.
Again a beautiful bright and rich rosé color. Caramelly on the palate making me think if wine spent any time in wood, with also sour tart berries a bit green not in a bad way,  and a lingering finish.  Minerality and fruit enhanced as it opened or warmed in the glass. Price $12.99 at Whole Foods Market.
So there we have it. Both wines were very well received. The Vinho Verde a bit lighter and the Rioja with more body and fruit flavor. Both refreshing and perfectly priced for the summer.  I think both these rosé wines gained fans over our Fathers Day Birthday weekend.  ¡SALUD!

St. Patrick’s Day Wine

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Grenache Rosé wine.

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching I find myself feeling more PINK than GREEN. My manhood intact, sparkling and non-sparkling Rosés are calling to me big time.  March 17th falls this year on a Sunday, and I love my #SundaySupper,  so we have begun to plan our annual get together for friends and family. What could we do to stir things up: Corned Beef Empanadas?

As I review our options I recalled last years post; Corned Beef wine or better yet what to serve with…. and our very First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting! A lot of things have changed since then, my new career for one, but interestingly the Rosé wine came close to taking last years 2012 prize.  One year later Pink is on my mind once again…..

Below is last years Corned Beef wine pairing including the winner which won by just one vote.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day &  Sláinte!

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 locally, either as 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.”

Olympics Closing Ceremony with Piper Sonoma Brut Sparkling Wine

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Piper Sonoma Brut Sparkling Wine

It is hard to believe that two weeks have gone by since I wrote about the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony and our wine filled weekend.  Suffice it to say my DVR and wine cellar [yes, still the guest room] have seen a lot of action since then.  The events in London have kept the world enthralled so what better way to celebrate than with a sparkling wine.

This is my first time drinking this sparkler from Piper’s main house: Piper Heidsieck Produced in California’s Sonoma County; it cannot be called Champagne.  Usually priced at under $20.00 and sometimes even under $15.00 this bubbly would compare in price to California’s Chandon and Washington State’s Domaine Ste. MichelleI paid $13.99 reduced from $19.00 at a Winn-Dixie grocery store.

The Brut blend is; 60% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier.  The aging is done on lees for a minimum of 18 months.  As per Wine SpectatorThis sparkling wine is made from hand-picked Champagne grapes grown in the Northern reaches of Sonoma County and the wine is aged on the yeast for a minimum 2½ year period of time. This gives the wine a complex bread-yeast aroma and lightly yeasty flavor. The wine is aged in large, French oak barrels (1625 gallon barrel foudres), before bottling and secondary fermentation. By aging this wine in oak, there is imparted to the wine a toasty/vanilla character in addition to the light apple and lemon flavors that the wine ordinarily possesses.

I found it interesting that this NV (Non-Vintage) Cuvée is produced by blending reserve wines from various years to produce a wine that has consistent flavor.  Pale gold straw in color, its yeasty aroma on the nose was most noticeable at first.  As the wine expanded and warmed scents such as green apple, vanilla and peach and even plum were also detected. The same was noted on the palate.  The plum [dark fruit] flavor I at least attribute to the Pinot’s in the blend.

I enjoyed Piper’s NV Cuvée would buy it again and would whole heartedly recommend it to others.  I would be interested in trying it along side the other sparkling wines I mentioned such as Chandon and Domaine Ste. Michelle. Even more so with a true French version. There are a lot of sparklers and even Champagne’s out there in the under $20.00 range to taste and I would be glad to volunteer my services 🙂  In fact I think I may have just thought of our next post 2012 Olympics “theme” for a night in with friends…..  ¡SALUD!

Winemaker information:

Winemaker full text

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

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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.”