09 May, 2018

May 16th Is Albariño Day At Snooth

I hope you will join us for our next virtual tasting with Rías Baixas in celebration of the Albariño grape. We will taste eleven Albariño wines from eleven different producers! (Yes, that's a total of 11 wines.) 

Date: Wednesday, 5/16/18
Time: 8:30pm ET/5:30pm PT

Hope you will tune in for wine, food and fun!

Meanwhile here's a reminder of an impressive pair: Albariño and the food of Southern India:


Eponymous "dosa" at Dosa SF
Dosa in San Francisco's Fillmore District is an airy, elegant restaurant that focuses on Indian cuisine.  The balance of Indian dishes with heat and sour and tang and sweet compels me to eat, but not so much to pair with wine.  Finding wines to handle that challenge is usually to drink beer---not that there's anything wrong with that.  Indian cuisine has a history going back seven thousand years and spanning a huge country, whose culture has not always been wine friendly.  And given the climate, my first rule of wine pairing "Grows with ...goes with" doesn't apply either.  I was most excited to attend the Rias Baixas lunch to see what would happen.

Turns out, an amazingly tasty ringer was waiting to be discovered: Albariño from Spain's Rias Baixas region.  Typically this wine is low in alcohol, redolent with minerality, and fruity.

Master Somm, Yoon Ha of Benu teamed with Dosa Wine Director Todd Smith to fine tune the pairings and showcase the possibilities.  Todd has a love of Indian cuisine and skill with wine.  He gave us a master class on Southern Indian food styles the best way possible, by serving it.  We could tell the pair enjoyed the exercise of bringing the wines into focus with the specific food of Southern India.

The first item brought out was called "bread and water" in which a crispy husk of dumpling was filled with tamarind-cilantro chili water.  For once I paid attention and devoured the flavorful concoction in one bite.  A flavor explosion ensued with the tangy sweet, brightly herbal, spicy water matched with the texture of the dumpling.

Dish after dish of texturally interesting, exotically spiced delights came out in waves.  Initially I was skeptical during Yoon Ha's presentation, but when I tried the wines, good, great and synergistic matches happened.
The Eponymous Dosa

Savory Shrimp

Classic Wada
Spicy Scallops



Some of these contain more than forty ingredients, so these wines got put through their paces.  Many are easy to find and will be on my summer rotation

First a little about the region.  Rais Baixas located in Galicia it has a maritime climate with lots of rainfall and lots of sun, each in balance at the right season for grapes.  The soils are great with lots of granite.  99% of the wines from the Denominacion de Origen (DO) are white.  And the thick skinned, scrappy, and we found delicious, Albariño, is key variety.  The Tastemakers brought some great Albariños:

Martin Codax 2015 ($15): Aromas of apricot, subtle yeasty notes, freshness and apple.  Full bodied but still bright and refreshing with a kick of honey in the midpalate and a long apricot finish.  2g/l of residual sugar made this wine sing with the spicier dishes.

Pazo de Señorans - 2015 ($21) Aromas of apple, papaya with lime, honeysuckle and yellow grapefruit.  Freshness was the topnote in aromas and flavors.  It managed to be rich and crisp at the same time.A pleasant floral herbal note in the finish and no leesiness.  Medium plus body with an apricot laden finish.

Mar de Frades, Ramon Bilbao - 2015 ($14) This wine had a brightness with vinous aromas along with jasmine, apricot and coconut.  Nice complexity marked by a touch of sourness that really helped cement the pairings. Round texture with a hint of salinity in finish, I found it to be a wine I kept going back to try more.

Bodegas Vionta, You and Me - 2015 ($18) Aromas of white flowers, honey and stonefruit.  Bright with acidity and rich in texture but lithe, this wine has a pleasant bitterness in the finish, which makes diners go back for another bite, says Todd.

Valmiñor - 2015 ($14) This wine was more of a medium yellow, which was darker than the paler colors of the previous wines.  Aromas were pear and bay leaves.  Flavors were apricot, yellow grapefruit, an touch of beer-iness and a flash of green.  A full bodies wine with an unctuous texture, it held apricot and a surprise: Maldon salt in the finish.

Pazo San Mauro - 2015 ($18)  Medium yellow color.  Vinous aromas.  Full texture but shot through with the most pronounced acidity of the batch

Pairing these wonderful wines with such exotic tastes was a great experience.  Look for Albariños from Rias Baixas next time you order in.  Or better yet, make time to visit Dosa and taste their expertly prepared food stylings.

Many thanks to Gregory White PR for hosting the lunch.


11 April, 2018

April Showers? No Problem. Cheer up at Wente's Winemaker Studio

Wente Vineyards is a family-owned winery in Livermore, CA known for their Chardonnay. They are also one of the oldest continuously-run wineries in the state of CA. and this year they are celebrating their 130th vintage. Wente is kind of like a Disneyland for wine-loving adults with a world-class restaurant, golf course and summer concert series. And in May they opened a new educational center called the Winemakers Studio where they are offering classes and interactive experiences to educate the consumer palate. The Brix Chicks got a sneak preview and here is what we found:

A Feast for the Senses
When you walk into the studio you notice flasks and perfume bottles where you can spritz various aromas to help you learn to identify some common ones such as melon, raspberry, butter, and chocolate. There are swatches of fabrics to exemplify different textures you will find in the palate of the wine (ie; silk for Pinot Noir, velvet for Cabernet Sauvignon) all perfect for us kinesthetic learners!  Wine videos are being played throughout the studio and you can also use the iPads which have apps especially created to help you learn about wine.


The Tap Room
Here is where you taste and buy their artisan wine line on tap which includes the Artisan white blend 2013, the Artisan Red 2012, Pinot Noir Clones 2012, and the outstanding Azul-Verde 2012 which is a blend of Cab Franc and Malbec. After you taste you can buy a growler and pick a wine to take home. You can reuse the growler every time you return. They also have a cheese-pairing course for each wine which I highly recommend. They show you how the flavors of the wine and the cheeses really work together.


Wine Aroma Seminar
This class really tests your olfactory abilities. You are presented with 10 glasses filled with water and an oil carrying a concentrated aroma such as grass, melon, toast, cherry, etc. You swirl and sniff and try to figure out what exactly you are smelling. As a wine-tasting veteran this was much harder than I thought it would be and I was stumped by a few of these concentrated aromas. Wente also makes a kit in which you can buy the aromas and have your own class. This was a good learning-experience for me.




Wine-blending Experience
Here you can be a winemaker for an hour and make your own blend of Bourdeaux varieties from the Wente Estate. There were barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon from 4 different vineyards, one Malbec, one Merlot, one Cab Franc and one Petit Verdot. The wine-ambassador guides you through the process as you taste each wine and experiment by blending wines from your favorite lots and finding the right aromas and flavors for your palate. You then bottle it, cork it, seal it with foil and label it.





The Xandria 2012 Cuvee. Well, it is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon from the Silva Vineyard and the Smith Vineyard blended with Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. I would love to age my wine but don't think I can wait that long to drink it!


Overall I found this to be a highly educational yet hedonistic experience. The wines were delicious and the wine-educators were knowledgeable and fun. Thank you to Wente Vineyards for creating a unique wine country experience perfect for the wine veteran and for the wine newbie.



Located at the Estate Winery at Wente Vineyards, The Winemakers Studio is a fine wine studio that features unique educational experiences. Open Wednesday through Sunday 11-5PM. For more availability and same-day reservations call (925) 456-2385.Wente Vineyards, 5565 Tesla Road, Livermore. Experiences range from wine tasting to blending seminars, sensory evaluation and  food and wine pairings. $10-$125. For more information, visit www.wentewinemakers.com.

07 March, 2018

Dreaming of a sunny porch - Reflections on Booker 2010 Pink

Booker Rose
Sunny one day.  Rainy and cold the next.  I find myself dreaming of summer and something yummy to drink while idling away a warm afternoon.  But who has time to wait?

2010 Booker Vineyards Pink, Paso Robles, California, USA ($28)  Lovely pink color.  Dry and super food friendly.  This is a little ray of sunshine to cloak the winter gray.  50% Grenache and 50% Syrah meld into a synergy that is 120% delicious.  Xandria brought this back from her foray into Paso Robles and it makes me want to journey out there as well.  Owner Eric Jensen makes this wine to enjoy simply.  It sounds like the have a lot more out there to enjoy.  This is on the list of things they pour daily. So while it is raining here, they will be pouring there; on March 9th  at the tasting room, they will pour the 2010 releases.  More information you need to visit is listed here

Paso Robles is on my list to visit.  Hope to see you there!