Tag Archives: Wine tasting

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.”

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 – #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.

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.”

Guest Post: Señorita Vino for a Day

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Me? Señorita Vino for a day? Muy FUN and not just for Latinas! So much so that I have to share it here with you. If you haven’t already discovered this site be sure and look around. It is always informative, entertaining and educational. Enjoy!

Where does the time go? Holidays, work, wine certification exams and simply thinking about new ways to sharpen my scintillating wit and verve can tap the ol’ brain cells. Which is why I am making one of my readers do all the work this week.

Chicas y chicos, allow me to introduce you to my esteemed fellow wine blogger, Ernesto, author of the wine-tastic blog, Whine and Cheers for Wine. Ernesto has been a vino aficionado for nearly 30 years. He began taking wine classes three years ago and subsequently landed the prestigious position of wine steward for a national grocery store chain. All that and he’s a Cubano, too!  Ernesto, take it away!

Ernesto

I have to admit I like the title.  I think it makes me sound younger. Señor Vino? Nah, maybe in a few years…. As a big fan of Señorita Vino and her very…

View original post 504 more words

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.”

Aside

Devils Ridge Lane

Pleasures of Devils Ridge

Does wine taste better on vacation?

Ghost Pines 2008  – Cabernet Sauvignon / Santa Rita Reserva 2008 – Cabernet Sauvignon /  Chateau Ste. Michelle 2010 – Riesling

I think the fast and easy answer to this quandary would be an easy yes. But the more I analyze and ponder about it,  the answer is still yes! Although I should clarify because I honestly think the same feeling and or joy can be attained even when not on vacation.

Think of it, appreciating wine can take you away from your current worries. It can be a form of escaping just as a vacation is. We’re not talking about guzzling here but actual wine appreciation; setting the atmosphere, picking your stemware, presentation, pairing wine with accoutrements, taking notes, sharing the experience, etc.  I truly think this pleasure can be attained or cloned whether at home, vacationing half way around the world or as I am, sitting before a roaring fire in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I am lucky to say; wine is one of my pleasures in life, no matter where I am, just NO plastic cups please!!  Salud.

Santa Rita Reserva 2008 – Cabernet Sauvignon: $10-12.00 notes of [on the nose] dark/black fruit [plum, fig], leather, wood [cedar/oak], minerality [earth].  Flavors detected; grape, leather, earthy barnyard minerality, pepper, dark chocolate, cherry on the finish.

Ghost Pines 2008  – Cabernet Sauvignon: $17-20.00 An elegantly tasting wine that tastes as if at a higher price point. A winemakers blend using grapes from two different California areas [Napa/Sonoma]. Scents/tastes detected; dark fruit [cherry, blackberry], vanilla, smokey wood [cedar/oak], moist underbrush and believe it or not I get the taste of cotton candy at the finish.

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2010 – Riesling: $8-10.00 This value wine comes in between being medium dry and medium sweet. A perfect choice for those of us who avoid “sweet wines”. Nicely fresh and crisp with flowery flavors of; peach, apple, pineapple and lychee.

Does wine taste better on vacation? My vacation with: Ghost Pines / Santa Rita Reserva / Chateau Ste. Michelle

Ended 2011 with a BANG: 2007 Stags Leap Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon

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07 Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon

Image by iamvhl via Flickr

Ended 2011  with a BANG: 2007 Stags Leap Artemis Cabernet  Sauvignon

As our year-long wine diary came to an end this New Years Eve we decided to splurge and pull out this 2010 Christmas gift  from our fellow wine aficionado and classmate.  We were actually able to sit on it for a year. Not bad coming from members of the instant gratification generation.  That said, we are pretty good about saving our better wines for future appreciation but I at least am not so good about deciding when the future is now,  why wait?  But that sounds like the instant gratification within talking again.  The proverbial fork in the road….

All the reviews I have found are favorable and almost all refer to the pedigree of this wine maker; the judgment in Paris Tasting of May 1976, where Stags Leap beat out the best classified Bordeaux. Most reviewers described it as “rich”, “bold”, “massive” and “sensational”. After all the 2007 vintage was considered to have been an outstanding one.  I agree with these statements and other references to holding and drinking after 2012 [lets not go there]. After decanting for an hour, and to be honest in hindsight it should have been more like 2 hours, I found this wine to be explosive on the tongue, flavorful with dark fruits detected [blackberries, currant], peppery [black], strong oak flavor and nose, yet still holding back somewhat.

By some standards a year or two would have most likely improved this already good tasting wine but as we end 2011 and begin 2012 I say:

Why wait? The future is now.

Quest for the best. One year over 130 wines.

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Wine

Wine (Photo credit: Uncalno)

2011, one year; over 130 wines.

At the time of course we never knew how many wines we would get to taste. Attending monthly wine classes, being a member of The Wall Street Journal Wine Club, researching independently, shopping sales and receiving as well as sharing wine tips from friends made it fun, informative and challenging. We only had one rule: the Wine Diary would be for wines imbibed at home only.

For the most part we followed this rule only bending it slightly when we discovered a wine out at dinner or attending a social event. For these occasions when we discovered what we thought may be a “keeper” we would search high and low for the same wine, stock it in our cellar [the guest bedroom] and have it once again at home not only obeying our one rule but at the same time confirming we liked it the second time around as much as the first.  Interestingly enough there were a few wines we LOVED the first time and not the second with the same occurring in reverse: disliked at first taste and thinking the second time around “what were we thinking?”.  Hard to explain why but I guess multiple reasons are possible; not in the mood, bad batch, not paired well, temperature etc.

Over 130 wines in one year. Not as difficult as one would think. But now the challenging part; narrowing down the favorite lists.