20 January, 2017

Antigal One Malbec and the Domestic Arts - Wine and Book review

Antigal Uno Malbec from Uco Valley Argentina
January and February are months that challenge my domestic artistry.  On the one hand, I miss all the festive events of the holiday season, but on the other, I simply can't do one more thing.  The rain does not help.

Luckily, I found two pick me ups that bring the sparkle back.

First, Antigal  "Uno" Malbec, Mendoza Argentina ($15.99).  This wine has great typicity of Malbec - dark fruit, generous texture, lush flavors, enticing aromas.  This example also has an elegance that toppled my expectations for a brawny wine.  Maybe it's the eight to ten months in French oak?  Or maybe it is the deft hand of a female winemaker: Miriam Gomez leads the program at the Uco Valley label.  The fruit is grown at higher elevation. It is vinified gently and with care.  This creates a wine with lovely natural acidity, which I crave.  The flavors are easy to pair with food.  They encompass red fruit, tobacco and cocoa powder.  At $15.99, the price is easy to balance with the credit card bills coming in from my holiday finery.  All in all, Antigal Uno is comfort in a glass.

And of course, my natural hostessing instincts kick back in and make me want to share.  A handy tip for instant, easy entertaining I discovered was to pair this tasty affordable Malbec with  Steak Bites from my new life guide.  I love this book,  The Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits, which fulfills its promise of being an etiquette handbook with recipes.  Along with great advice on life, love and entertaining, the easy to follow recipes, tap  into your inner domestic goddess, while taming the overachieving event dominatrix we all have (not you?  okay, just me) inside.

Spring will be here before we know it.  Many thanks to Antigal for the wine and Suzanne and Lee for the advice on how to get there with tasty style and comforting flair.

Many thanks, as well, to Patricia Schneider, of Elemental Meme PR, who provided a sample of wine.  The first one was free but I just keep buying more at Cost Plus World Market

16 December, 2016

If you're smart, Join the Dean's List at Materra|Cunat Family Vineyards in Napa


Photo Credit: Materra/Cunat Family wines
This time of year, a lot of people ask me where to take their out of town relatives in Napa. With so many delicious, luxe fun places, I wanted to highlight a "smart" choice, where you can "drink for the kids"** during this holiday season.  I was hosted here during the summer.

Materra| Cunat Family Vineyards in the Oak Knoll District is a relatively new tasting room open by appointment where you can taste wines of quality.  Here, artistry in oenology is served in art filled setting.  

Brian Cunat and his wife Miki and their extended family invested in fifty acres in the Oak Knoll AVA in 2007. Today, they leverage relationships with mountain fruit growers as well as their own estate fruit to create lovely Napa wines.  
We get excited about Fancy sorter destemmers

Calling their wine club the "Dean's" list is a nod to Dean Cunat,  a Midwestern farmer who inspired a love of the land and farming in his son, Brian.  When Miki and Brian saw the lovely parcel in Oak Knoll with its distinctive soil, then experienced the flavor profile of local finished wines, they knew they had found their spot.  Partnering with Brian's brother, John to purchase the estate, today many members of the family participate.  We met Neena, the oldest daughter who leads the winery's efforts.  Neena walked us through the impressive production facility and did not laugh when we gushed over their pristine operation, which includes a very cool mechanical sorter destemmer.  We also quizzed her about a cool experimental cone shaped stainless vat.  Walking around it was easy to see the family's investment in action.  But what was more fun was to taste through those successful efforts:

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon,  Rutherford($65) Wine from this tough year is frequently sparse but delicious,  Materra is no exception.  Difficult harvest produced a wonderful wine with a long elegant vinous driven finish.  Flavors are a balance of vinous and fruit with a top note of black raspberry and gorgeous dusty notes, the hallmark of Rutherford dust.  They marked the bottles with silver foil to mark the achievement.

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain (wine Club only) Blending in a little Petit Verdot, Merlot  and Malbec creates a Bordeaux inspired wine. They only produce fifty cases of this Wine-Club-Only  wine.  A luscious perfectly integrated blend with lively aromas of anise and blueberry and a beautifully vinous finish will tempt  you to join.  

They also make white wines,  Both a lovely Viognier, which is a balanced wine with nice structure and hints of stone fruit as well as a rich, but elegant Chardonnay with "Golidlocks" oak #Just_Right. 


Tactile art in one shelf-drinkable art in the other
Their Merlot varietal is lush and balanced lots of dark fruits and touch of bittersweet chocolate in the aromas and flavors with dark, forest-y berry in the finish.  Until December 31 2016, Materra has a cool holiday special of  a three bottle Merlot vertical that includes one bottle each of 2009, 2010 and 2011 Right Bank Reserve which is a bargain at $100.  Merry Christmas to whomever receives that!

It's a great place to visit.  Care is taken to telegraph the family's artistic focus by their beautiful facility.  Artful touches like the beautiful, tactile art enhance your visit.

**For Christmas they are doing something awesome.  If  you bring a new and unwrapped toy with a value of at least $25, Materra will waive your tasting fee as well as organize toy delivery to Toys 4 Tots.  So you are as smart as a Dean's list member, drinking great wine to benefit the kids.
Even if you miss the holiday festivities, it's a great place to visit to experience artful wines in a friendly place.


For more information about tastings and tours, click here:
Visit Materra



01 December, 2016

Green Valley Wines


What a fitting start to Advent:  heavenly wines from the Green Valley appellation. Snuggled near the Russian River Valley, Green Valley has a special taste of place.  These three innovative wineries showcased exmples of how they bring delicious wines to market the best way possible: tasting!

Here are three great examples 
1) 2013 Chenoweth Vineyards Pinot Noir Sedition Wines - Interesting spicy wine made from Pommard clone and worth every dollar of the $75 price. Josh cut his teeth at our fave, Kokomo and now works delish Pinot stylings at Sedition Join the rebellion !
2) 2013 Magnum Porcum Pinot Noir, Cam Low Cellars ($45) a sassy fun wine whose label seduced me to use the wine in my meat glaze Think delicious; think @CamLowCellars 
3) 2012 Calypso Vineyard, Syrah Scherrer Vineyards ($45)  -Love Fred Scherrer's philosophy in life and winemaking ( Syrah is the answer to the questions not resolved by Pinot) Smooth blackberry herb kissed wine
Bottom line: look to Green Valley for your holiday picks.
Many thanks to Robert Larsen and the Green Valley team for sharing the amazing samples with me