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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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12 December, 2014

BrixChick Liza's Gift Guide: Artful Napa: Visit Hall Wines

Where's Bunny Foo Foo?
Caught up in a sharknado of year end work?  Did Stormageddon set your schedule back a week? Are you shopping for a regifter?

Try gifting an experience.

Whether you are biking distance or need to go transoceanic, Napa is a great spot to visit with a friend.  The act of setting aside time to make memories is something you will never sell at a garage sale. 

But what to do when there is just so much? Let me suggest three things I did this summer, that loosely fall into Artful Napa, Soulful Napa and Rockstar Napa.

First on my list is Artful Napa:

Hall Wines was started by two overachievers who worked toward a winery dream.  Craig and Kathryn,  serial entrepreneur and lawyer-ambassador and both art lovers, had a vision
for a State of the art winery. Their vision included excellence, sustainability and sharing beautiful art with their guests.  Hall Wines became one of the first wineries to achieve Gold LEEDS status,  literally the gold standard for sustainability and for doing well by doing good.  Part of that included saving the beautiful old stone 1881 winery.  Saving the old stones with their patina of longevity dresses the space with a unique elegance. Though, for full disclosure, the barn may be haunted.   

The Halls' love of art is something they share with all their visitors.  Even if modern art is not your thing, these pieces have been selected and placed in a way that enriches any visit.  Just remember look but don't touch, though the art will beguile and tempt you.  However, that art has nothing on the wine

A wonderful thing about Hall Wines is that they offer delicious wines at many price points.  Not just the  $200 perfect score 100 point Exzellenz, but affordable Napa Sauvignon Blanc. Crisply acidic, balanced and  a bargain at $24. 

My favorite was the 2011 HALL "Eighteen Seventy-Three" Cabernet Sauvignon ($80)  Our wonderful tour guide , Jeff described it as "a French school girl ditching school in her mom's perfume and her dad's old bomber jacket while learning to smoke."  Violets on finish with 3% Merlot blended in.

Click here to see the fun activities you can reserve at the St. Helena facility. Wine 101 is a great place to start as it  opens a little earlier than most winery experiences and also helps get your group on the same page. 
Sunset Cruise colors

The "Sunset Cruise" is  a great way to wind down your day in Napa.  Art gets woven into your experience in a really cool way here.  These colors on the bar wall were pulled from a summary color gamut of colors found in the estate vista.

But if you are looking for the perfect gift., the Rutherford location just released an amazing opportunity that will put Santa to shame.

HALL Rutherford’s Appellation Exploration is an exclusive tasting experience that includes a tour of the modern wine production facility, an overview of the art and best of all,  a tasting of three ultra premium wines from special appellations. 

It takes place in the Chandelier Cave, under a dazzling light fixture made from 1500 Swarovski crystals.  Think luxurious first class window seat to examine how place affects wine.  Only the appellation is different as the same team vinifies from select and sought after vineyards.  100 point winners can't be wrong

HALL Rutherford’s Appellation Exploration experience is $125pp / $100 for Club Members/GEMS.
To reserve this experience, please call (707) 967-2626. This is an extremely limited offering and available by appointment only. 

Photo credit Hall Wines

08 December, 2014

BrixChick Liza's Gift Guide: Armchair Trip to Spain or a Review of Heredad Collection's Wines

'Tis the season! If you are making a list and checking it twice, then scratching your head and trying to come up with something dazzling, let Santa Liza help out.

Last year at our fund raising gala, one of the most hotly bid items, was what we called an "Armchair trip to Spain".  We put together three bottles from three regions and packaged it as a way to get together with a few friends and learn about Spanish wine together.

Turns out, the Ferrer Family was a few steps ahead of us.  We leveraged a great palate, but they leveraged more than a century of wine making history to create a collection of lovely limited-release, ultra-premium wines that each showcase a Spanish region.  I was lucky enough to try them early in the Fall and made a note: What a perfect gift this would make!  Whether you are shopping for one oenophile who wants to peruse at her leisure or a book club full of gal pals that want to grab some tapas and run through the gamut, the wines of the Heredad Collection will surprise and delight.

Best of all, this handy Locator will light your way better than Rudolf to where you can quickly and easily find what you need for your gift basket.

The stated goal of the Heredad Collection is to present "wines of character with a distinct sense of place"  They carefully curate all the details of this program from an enological perspective to bring the taste of Spain's top regions to the international wine drinking community.  
Wines of
The Heredad Collection
                              Valdubón Cosecha and Reserva         D.O. Ribera del Duero
                              VAZA Cosecha and Crianza             D.O.C. Rioja
                              Vionta Albariño                            D.O. Rías Baixas
                              Morlanda Criança                         D.O.C. Priorat
                              Mas de Subirà                              D.O.C. Priorat
                              Garbó Red and Rosé                      D.O. Montsant
                              Paramus Verdejo                           D.O. Rueda.

All of the wines were delicious with a distinct taste of place, unique characters and star quality.  And speaking of stars, we were led through the tasting by Freixenet's International Wine Development Direct, WIll Willis, who himself bears a striking resemblance to Hugh Grant, though his real claim to fame is an impressive knowledge and enthusiasm for all things wine!

Vionta,  Albarino, Rias Baixas Think food..Think Spain.This fine wine is made to match salads and fishes.  Our hosts suggested using the Vionta Albariño as mignonette for oysters.  100% Albarino, it had a clear yellow color with a touch of green.  The flavors were tropical that broke to a pleasant peachiness.  Acidity made it crisp and delicious and a wonderful pair for our salad
Paramus, Verdejo White Wine , Rueda 85% Verdejo and 15% Viura, The road to Rueda is the route that brings fish through heart of region, so it's natural the region's wines are tasty with fish. Bright straw yellow, its nose was complex and interesting, shifting in the glass with aromas of white flowers, herbs and pear. It is an everyday food friendly wine great with salads 

Garbo, Rose, Montsant This beautiful rose has a gorgeous watermelon pink color coming from 6 hours of skin contact of the 70% Garnacha/30%Shiraz blend.  Floral aromas,red fruit and the refreshing splash of river rocks make  great wine.  At 14.2 % alcohol, but very balanced.  Garbo means "jig of delight"  

Vaza Cosecha, Rioja Vaza taken from the word "Bazas" which means "new beginnings". This wine hails from the medieval village of Laguardia in Rioja Alavesa and it is made in a modern yet traditional way.  100% Tempranillo it had a dark color and welcoming aromas of red fruit.  Modern techniques make it rich as well as accessible quickly

Mas de Subira, Priorat   50% Garnacha Tinta with 50% Carinena All hand harvested, these low yield ---1.25 tons per acre--produce high payload flavor. Cherry and smoke seasoned by 12 months in French oak.  Looking at the label, you will see 15.7 alcohol, but the wine is so well balanced, it does not taste or smell hot.

Morlanda, Priorat  
50% Garnacha Tinta with 50% Carinena Coming from soils that are are steep and terraced, this was my favorite with its dark pretty color.  The aromas were intense and complex, cherry with notes of dark fruit and luscious flavor.  

Valdubon, Crianza, Ribera Del Duero 100% Tempranillo with aromas of red fruit, anise, and exotic elements.  Lovely tannins.  Complex , elegant and that perfect guest at your dinner party that goes with everything. Made in a style that brings it to market quickly but allows ageing potential. I hope you have the patience, because I would find this wine difficult to resist

Valdubon, Reserva, Ribera Del Duero  100% Tempranillo Dark intriguing wine.  Balanced and beautifully made from carefully grown fruit bringing together spice, dark fruit and a nice structure

Spain has 69 denominaciones de origen  but these represent the best areas.  Trying these wines will give you a sense of what makes each region special and what makes Spain so special.  Sharing with friends and food will be a great gift for anyone on your list.  Wine always makes it better, doesn't it?

Many thanks to the wonderful folks at Ferrer who imbue each experience with hospitality and sabor.  Thanks so much for the invitation and opportunity to learn more about your wonderful wines!

30 October, 2014

What to Drink this Halloween? Think German Wine!

Buying Halloween candy early is not something I recommend.  I can't be trusted with candy, you see.  So I always rush out a the last minute to buy.  I usually pick up something fun to "pair". 

This year thanks to Wines of Germany,  I previewed some tasty samples with a small assortment of candy (not the pounds of Mars- made deliciousness I scored at Costco and left in the garage)

At their suggestion I tried Spaetburgunder with licorice.  I like how the candy bumped up the red fruit character of the wine, while the acid in the wine tamped down the rampant sweetness of the licorice.  I also tried it with the salted caramel truffle and was pleased with the peanut butter and jelly riff the two played together.

2010 Franz Anton Spaetburgunder, Baden ($25):
Light in color, this Pinot Noir based wine packs a restrained and elegant punch.  The consonant laden name belies a tart and interesting Pinot Noir with nice acidity and a character of red fruit with interesting herbal notes.  The suggested pairing is game bird, but I found it surprisingly tasty with Halloween Candy

Of course Riesling goes with everything and the all weather delight of the Selbach fish went as easily with Pez as with licorice as with the suggested nougatty candy.  It's not always easy to pair with chocolate but the creamy milk chocolate truffles, with their salted toffee chips was a good match

2013 Selbach "Fish" Riesling, Kabinett, Mosel ($14)
This cheerful wine is slightly sweet and silky.  It is a holiday standby for me as even non-wine drinkers enjoy it and it goes with everything.  Put it with spicy Asian food...yes the kind you can grab in  a pinch and it's a hit.  If you grab this to go with your second batch of Halloween candy, you will be delighted

But the most perfect match for the candy and your holiday festivities is the 2013 Moselland "Black Cat" Riesling ($14)

Fresh and fruity with hints of stone fruit and an easy going nature, what hostess wouldn't be delighted by the cat shaped bottle?  Orange and black cats contain the same wine

I had the chance to visit Moselland's facility and was awed by the size of it.  The wonderful folks who toured us around were friendly and showed us the large tanks farms and the ueber-modern bottling plants.  But the fibreglas tanks told the story of the longevity of the place.  While you can look out at some of Mosel's famous vineyards from its windows, Moselland strives to aggregate German fruit and put together more entry level offerings.  Clean Slate Riesling, a perennial BevMo favorite of mine, is also made there.

But for Halloween, head to CostPlus WorldMarket grab some décor and some Riesling Cats and make it a party!

Halloween. Or just make your favorite crazy cat lady happy!