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Brix = the amount of sweetness in a given solution measured in degrees expressing the porportion of sugar to each 100 gr. of total fluid; Used in winemaking by growers to measure the amount of sugar in the grapes.

Chicks = We're girls of a certain age with a sense of adventure, a passion for wine, a vibrant curiousity to learn more and a drive to exchange ideas, share tips and find out what you have to say about how wine flavors your experience.

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21 May, 2015

Happy #ChardonnayDay

#WenteChard and Mac-and-Cheese from Home Room, Oakland
May 21st is Chardonnay day.  A day to celebrate one of the world's most popular grapes.  Grown all over the world, Chardonnay makes its mark very comfortably close to home in the Livermore Valley.

As early as 1889, wine from the Livermore Valley,won the Grand Prix at the International Paris  Exposition.  In 1936, Wente bottled the first varietally labelled Chardonnay in Livermore.  So there is a lot of precedence to delicious Chardonnay here, especially from Wente.

Chardonnay
 For people visiting San Francisco, there is a tendency to go right to more famous appellations, as there are many nearby.  However don't  skip Livermore.  It's close and convenient and best of all the wine is yummy.

Set your GPS for Wente Vineyards.  The Wine Maker's Studio is a lovely destination where you can advance your knowledge of wine in a fun, tasty way. More information on classes here

Cure for Homesickness in Paris
Announcing this Chardonnay Day is a white wine blending session as well as an Umami class.  As people drink and celebrate #Chardonnayday, a lucky few are enjoying the festivities where it all started:  Wente Vineyards. But even if you can't get to the winery, Wente's Chardonnays are easy to find.  I was lucky enough to get samples and can vouch for their excellent value and good taste.

First 2013 Morning Fog Chardonnay ($15) This is a wine that is made with care to express the Livermore fruit well, even adding in 2% of Gewurztraminer for a dash of spice.  A combination of barrel and stainless fermenting as well as seven months on the lees and monthly battonage, produces a soft mouthfeel with a snap of acidity.  I got a nice vinous edge to the aromas as well as citrus notes and apple.  It is carried all over the world as I snapped a photo of it at the Nicholas Wine shop on the Rue Cler in Paris.  Way to represent the USA Wente!

2013 Riva Ranch Chardonnay ($22) This is made from Monterey County fruit. It had a warmer gold color and was very food friendly. 3% Gewurtz here. More oak gave this a broader touch of vanilla, which was nice with pineapple and mango in the flavors  It was delicious with the Mac and Cheese.  Without descending into "Cougar Juice", the more persistent creamy notes of this wine stood up to and complemented the insanely delicious Home Room macaroni and cheese. Home Room is an Oakland purveyor of over the top rich, buttery, cheesy goodness #Cardiologists avert your eyes.

2014 Eric's Chardonnay Small Lots ( $25) I am a sucker for Unoaked Chardonnay.  I thought this wine made a great aperitif.  It had a crisp, refreshing texture that was perfect for peeling off the stress of that last concall.  Flavors and aromas were subtle but shifting clouds of peach, lemon, bay leaf, pineapple and savory vinous notes.  Stainless steel is the perfect backdrop to make the most of hand harvested premium fruit.  This is a great introduction and representation of the Livermore Valley and how tasty this place can be

Whereever you choose to spend #Chardonnayday, I hope you lift a glass of Wente to taste California history in a glass. When I finish my work, my final and my commute, I plan to toast Livermore!

These wines were provided as samples

12 May, 2015

Clif Family Bruschetteria - Wine, Snacks and Respite in St Helena

You've probably had Clif Bars on your hiking, biking or outdoor adventures.  You're good like that.  I recently discovered a  Clif Family offering that  lets even slothful  couchpotato indoor cats like me enjoy the genius of Gary and Kit and the amazing Clif Family team.

LusciousLushes Thea and I sampled the Bruschetta Trio and their wine pairings and came away thoroughly addicted.

Exec Chef John McConnell
Addiction is how the idea started when on a cycling trip, Gary and Kit (Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford, founders of the Clif Bar Company) ate bruschetta at Rifugio Samsara in Bassano del Grappa, Italy.  When they returned home, a craving for those flavors sparked the idea to bring that deliciousness back to California.  Enlisting the aid of Executive Chef John McConnell and a food truck tricked out in that epicenter of cuisine on wheels, PDX, they are now rocking it all over the Napa Valley.  Since you can also try their delicious wines at their location in St. Helena, Velo Vino, I suggest that as your best bet.

For the winning hand, choose three pairs or the Bruschetta trio and the matching paired wine selections:

First, Clif Family Chardonnay, Oak Knoll, Napa 2012 was paired with a Porchetta Bruschetta.  Porchetta, for the uninitiated, is a juicy (read: glistening with fat) stuffed and roasted pork dish.  Here, the roast meat is pulled and then enhanced with chopped herbs, fresh from their garden, and a shimmering aioli.  The Chardonnay has just the right amount (50%  French) of oak for smoothness and a backbone of acid. Combine a perfectly balanced Chardonnay with porchetta and you have a delightful introduction.  Citrusy notes in the wine made a perfect match for the herby richness of the pork dish, which was my favorite.

Next,  Clif Family Kit's Killer Cab,  2011, Napa was paired with a Pomodoro Brucshetta.  Kit's Killer Cab is made from two parcels of  Howell Mountain fruit grown on their estate.  The first, Cold Springs Vineyard, produces fruit that is  masculine but gentlemanly.  Also used is Croquet Vineyard, which is described as feminine and elegant. Combined, it shows juicy, but structured, red and black fruit and was easy to drink.  This elegant wine is also completely at home at a casual lunch.  The Pomodoro Bruschetta had melted tomatoes mixed with tangy goat cheese and garlicky elements.  The sweetness of the tomatoes went perfectly with the structure of the wine.

Batting cleanup was the Clif Family Gary's Improv Zin, 2011, Napa Also made with estate fruit in this case zinfandel, the wine was bold with spices, dark fruit and a lovely finish.  Paired with Funghi Bruschetta it was the best pair.  The bold spice of the wine meshed perfectly with the savory mushroom and fontina cheese of the dish.

Yum!  Such a fun experience More info on how you can make plans to visit here



When Executive Chef John McConnell came by, I quizzed him and learned a lot about the philosophy and ingredients.  First since cycling was the inspiration and many cyclists come by, he strives to make things delicious, but also nutritious. Two accompaniments to our bruschetti, were salads.  One, Fagioli e Grano ws an Italian inspired side dish made with farro, Fregola Sarda, broccoli rabe, ricotta and heritage beans.  Fregola Sarda is a pasta shaped like a grain that was as toothsome as it was delicious.  Both Lina Sisco Bird's Eye and Eye of the Goat beans were incorporated into the dish.  All together it formed a harmonious taste and delivered enriching satisfaction.  The Tre Colori salad, whose three colors come from arugula, romaine hearts and radicchio was similarly satisfying.  What lifted the salad's  flavor was a combination of lemon scented bread crumbs and pecorino.  Chef John gave us a tip for home cooks.
The leftover ends of your baguettes can be roughly cut, then left to dry for a few days.  After that, grate in a food processor .  Quickly saute those crumbs in a pan with garlic and a little olive oil.  Perfect to jazz up your salads. More great tips here:


Many thanks to the Clif Family team who hosted us for lunch.  Everyone there took such good care of us,  answered all our questions and delighted us with dessert: Tiramisu, Chocolate Budino and a perfect espresso. Expect a wonderful experience when you visit as the staff all rock collectively and individually!  You cannot ask for a better place to while away some hours of glorious Napa sunshine with comfortable, nourishing al fresco wining and dining.  


Make plans to visit:
Where: 709 Main Street, St. Helena, CA
Drop ins welcome, but for elevated pairing, make a reservation here:

I was hosted by the Clif Family for this lunch

09 May, 2015

Bodegas Estefania: The Wine or #olewinos Find Magic In Mencia

Can you tell we loved the wine at Bodegas Estefania?  The Tilenus brand surprised and delighted me with a new-to-me variety:Mencia. After seeing the terrain it prefers and understanding its inherent challenges, I appreciated more the efforts of the winery along with management advice from the MGW Group

Press with feet explains Pablo Frias
Bodegas Estefania's brand is Tilenus which produces five red wines from Mencia grapes.  They are able to grow 80% of their fruit, but source  20% from traditional growers who  maintain their terrenos  or small farms.  Bodegas Estefania started with zero land and are acquiring small parcels as they become available.

They strive to vinify gently.  Native yeasts have been effective.  They even accomplish manual piegage.  Their barrel program includes thoughtful use of used French Oak.  It must be gentle,  so it doesn't overpower the Mencia.  The desire is to enhance not to strip the tannins or acids.  Using Bordelais sized barrels completes the spice rack.  Raul Perez is winemaker who manages the selections to get what he wants

.Careful treatment of the wine includes "nap time".  After bottles are filled, they go to a sleeping room to age after a time, which lets the corks expand.  This room is light, sound and temperature
controlled.

When they are ready, they are released to surprise and delight the rest of you.

Tilenus Godello.  Yes, one white wine is made from a regional variety: Godello.  Aromas of stone fruit with mineral notes in nose. An interesting  floral note like violet gum. Nuttiness in flavors with medium acidity









Tilenus Vendimia
100% Mencia, this wine shows a vinous nose with a touch of violets, blue and red fruit,  bay leaf, and cinnamon aromas.  The texture was pleasant with graceful tannins.  Vinous led flavors with a finish of violets and bay leaf





Tilenus Roble 2011
The hotter year of 2011 produced  a wine with aromas of black raspberries, touch of violets,  cinnamon and thyme.  Well integrated flavors of  black and red fruits. More elegant tannins with a mouthfeel like vintage linen napkins

Tilenus Roble 2010 Expressed a darker garnet color.  Raspberry and carnation aromas.  Well integrated flavors

Tilenus Roble 2008
Yummy aromas of blackberry pie and molasses taffy.  Extra time smooths out tannins, which developed a silky texture.  Baking spice in flavors and finish.  Lovely acidity lent freshness to finish that persisted with a vinous edge touched by cinnamon



Tilenus La Florida 2008

Red fruit and touch of aged meat in aromas.  Lovely rich flaovors of dark fruit.  Persistent tannins.  Long finish kissed with baking spice and gingerbread .








Tilenus Pago de Posada 2006
Aromas of blackberry, cigar box, and plum.  Flavors of same with coffee and Santa Rosa plums Smooth but grippy tannins.  Nice acidity  in finish. Small berries influence concentration








Tilenus Pieros, 2007
This flagship wine from the oldest parcel leaped out of the glass. An inky, rich color it had aromas of  dried figs,  honey, and a touch of menthol .  The tannins were smooth and well integrated but clings to your teeth.  Flavors to match .Long finish of more dark fruit, menthol, coffee and vinosity.  Smooth with moderate plus acidity










Tilenus, 2002 Pieros
Known as the "Phantom" vintage because nature refused to cooperate in 2002. The weather was bad and so the harvest was miniscule.  Wouldn't you know from these difficult conditions, a wine of finesse and ageability ensued?  As honored guests, the #OleWinos were treated to a bottle of this.  Fresh,  Expressive.  We left with no doubt that Mencia can age

A fitting end to our overview of the MGW Group and the delicious wines they are producing in Alicante, Bullas and Bierzo.


Eduardo Ruiz/photocredit DallasWineChick
I can't thank the team enough for introducing me to such wonderful wines and the dedicated people who produce them.  MGW Group Director, Sergio Sachnovsky-Raevskey joined us and regaled us with his wit and expertise.  And Eduardo Ruiz , took time away from the Four P's of Marketing and dedicated several days to the Five #OleWinos.  Many thanks for answering all our questions, enduring our twittering like chipmunks everytime we got in WiFi range, and for driving us all around. I am so glad they enjoy their work; their hospitality only added to the deliciousness of the experience.

If you can find these delightful wines, buy them!