24 December, 2012

Why I love Los Vascos or Pick me for the 2013 WBC Brand Ambassador

 I had known Los Vascos wine from their great QPR perspective.  It's a wine that goes well with many kinds of food at a surprisingly low price point.  I love wines like this that prove to my novice wine drinking friends that wines don't have to cost a lot to be delicious and food friendly.  But the wine I selected also has characteristics that pique the interest of experienced wine drinkers [Like @brixchik_Xan for example, who was delighted with the Old World sensibility of the '09 Cabernet Sauvignon]

 Especially at this time of year, I like to have a cache of these types of bottles handy.  I could go on about the lovely flavor of the wine; it does have nice if subtle red fruits and a balance of cooking and baking spice hints that made it yummy and versatile.  I brought it to a tamale party and found the structure up to the task of matching with chicken mole and red sauced pork tamales.  The 2010 had prettier aromas, but was a little food slutty.  The '09 was easy drinking and easy pairing.  Rich ruby colors.  Kicky aromas of red fruit, hint of berries, and spice.  Friendly structure with tannins that mix well with all your friends and neighbors.  A Latin inspired party sensibility you might expect from Chile with the grace and sophistication of the hand of Chateau Lafite.  Chateau Lafite purchased 50% of Los Vascos in 1988 and has been guiding quality ever since.

All this is true and I encourage you to race out the BevMo where they have '09 and '10 on sale for $8.70 a bottle.

But this is for a super cool prize, which is to attend the Wine Blogger Conference as a guest of Los Vascos.  So while enjoying my bottle of super priced yummy wine, I was casting about for a more creative theme to which to pin my post.  When all of a sudden, I started hearing about Cory Booker, the Mayor of Newark New Jersey and his Food Stamp Challenge.  Basically his premise was that he wanted to learn from first hand experience how it felt to try to live on the $1.40 per meal per day that many people in our country live on if they are living on what is provided from food stamps. You can see pictures of his groceries there. 
Since I got such a good deal on my Los Vascos wine, I was confident I could go one better, by reducing my grocery bill by $9 and living on $22.  I figured I would follow Cory's example and eschew meat for a week.  Additionally in this season of sharing, I planned to donate the difference between the $22 and my previous week's grocery tab.  With a kiss goodbye to Whole Foods, whose door I would definitely not be darkening for the duration, I hit the local Pack and Save.  Getting a box of Cream of Wheat, two bags of pinto beans, 2 apples, 1 onion,  two oranges, three cans of chopped tomatoes, a bag of iceberg lettuce, the biggest package of corn tortillas they sold and a large chunk of grocery store cheese, I was on my way.  It came to about $22. 

It seemed incredible to me that I would be able to make it a whole week on less than I sometimes spend for lunch.  I found out, where there is a will, there is a way.  Luckily, I bridged two business trips and did not have to entertain clients.  The one day I did have to have lunch outside of home, I hit the Taco Bell where there are 5 options under $1.40.  And the one work event I did attend, I rationalized, if someone else is paying it's okay...Well,  maybe it wasn't so okay to devour my weight in sushi.  Let me tell you it never tasted so good! 

Although I will say, that the beans that I cooked were delicious.  I used them in tostadas, burritos and even a taco salad.  And my system felt great skipping processed foods.  The trash was much lighter too with no prepackaged packaging or take out containers.  And with my affordable wine, I didn't feel at all deprived---for a week.  Realistically, I couldn't have done it for another week.  And I did cheat  like a televangelist with a sex addiction a little: For every item I pulled out of my pantry (Swiss Miss Cocoa, olive oil, bay leaves, coffee [Sorry, Cory, no way I could give that up!  I would have gone to the nearby Courtyard Marriott and shoplifted a cup every am before I could let go of the Java Monkey!]), I bought a package and took with my donation to Second Harvest Food Bank  of Alameda..

I had already known that Los Vascos is an affordable treat, but I learned a lot from my week on the #SNAPchallenge that made me appreciate all that I have and made me want to share more to make it easier on the people who don't have enough. Many thanks to my friends who participated along the way, Veronica who had great tips, Francine and Janesta who enabled my #SNAPchallenge dinner party by bringing dessert and avocados.

To the folks at Los Vascos, thanks so much for making a challenging week more fun with your delicious and affordable wine.  Pick me for your 2013 Blogger and I will bring a creative perspective to Penticton!

Here's my recipe:
Liza's #SNAPchallenge Beans:
Ingredients:
2 bags pinto beans
1 med onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic , chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 can chopped tomatoes
salt
12 cups water

Place beans in dutch oven.  Cover with water.  Add salt.  Soak overnight.
After soaking, drain and rinse beans carefully (leaving salted water will toughen beans).  Leave beans in colander while you prepare rest

In dutch oven, saute chopped onion over medium heat for 4 min.  Add chopped garlic and cook for 1 min more taking care not to let darken. Add chopped tomatoes and bay leaves.  Let amalgamate for one minute.

Add drained and rinsed beans

Cover with 12 cups water.

Simmer for 90 minutes. Season to taste.

Enjoy!





11 December, 2012

Yummiest "mistake" this season

Concannon Pinot Grigio. Too tall to fit in my eval of the SkyBar OneWine system, so we are drinking it. Pale citrine in color. Honeyed aromas of stone fruit with splashes if fresh, cool river rocks. Lively pleasant flavors. We snarfed it down with Brie in apple slices and it was tasty. Look for it in Safeway and other places you rush by in your holiday shopping to carve out a little you time in your Yule Tide!

10 December, 2012

Holiday Magic in Hopland - Do well, by doing good

If you have time Friday, here is someting not to be missed (not unlike the McFadden Pinot Noir!)


U.S. Marine Corps Reserve TOYS FOR TOTS toy drive and wine tasting at McFadden Farm Stand & Tasting Room in Hopland


After Work - 4-7 p.m. - Friday, December 14, 2012

13275 S Hwy 101 #5, Hopland, CA - 707 744-8463



Bring a new unwrapped toy to the McFadden tasting room for the Hopland Volunteer Fire Department to deliver to a child who needs your help. You will receive a raffle ticket for prize drawings including a $200+
assortment basket giveaway of McFadden Farm goodies.


Enjoy the first, new release, tastings of:

2011 Chardonnay

2011 Gewurztraminer

2011 Late Harvest Dessert Riesling

2009 Special Reserve Brut



The NV (2009) MCFadden Brut was a Double Gold Medal winner and Wine

Enthusiast Editors Pick for Best Year End sparkling wines. McFadden will

release the same wine...with an extra 18 months held on yeast. Their first

ever vintage reserve "super" bubbly, the 2009 Reserve Brut, and arguably,  their best

sparkling wine ever.



Famous for two dry Alsatian styled Rieslings each year (both the McFadden

and Chateau Montelena Riesling), the 2011 vintage McFadden Riesling grapes

were a surprise: late harvest and botrytis blessed. Taste the first ever

McFadden dessert wine, the 2011 McFadden L.H. Dessert Riesling.



The 2011 McFadden Chardonnay has vanilla, cream, and butterscotch caramel

notes, which is a bit of a holiday miracle for a stainless steel wines

that saw zero malolactic.



McFadden's 2011 Gewurztraminer is showing the spicy notes that would lead

a blind-taster to assume an Anderson Valley Gewurz, married to more

delicious stone fruit Apricot and Nectarine notes of McFadden Farm.

Easiest wine to predict future gold medals for.



McFadden will also pour their 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel one week after the

San Francisco Chronicle named the Dashe Zinfandel, McFadden Farm one of

the TOP 100 WINES of 2012!



20% off everything in the tasting room; wines, grass fed beef, culinary

holiday herb wreaths, garlic braids, oil, wild rice...everything. Three

hours only. 4-7 p.m., after work, Friday, December 14, 2012, during the


Toys For Tots toy drive and wine tasting at McFadden.

13 November, 2012

Lodi Live

Just finished super fun tasting of six Lodi wines and have to tell you discovered more to love about this wonderful growing region so close to home.

For Turkey Day be on the lookout for
Uvaggio Vermentino: at 12.4% alc, golden color and lush flavors it will take the edge of your family interactions in a constructive way

To pair with your turkey loving red wine guests try to get your hands on Fields Family 2010 Old Vine Zin. Only 175 cases produced, so hit those interwebs now www.fieldsfamilywines.com Delicious and complex

For your gift baskets D'art Zin Pretty label prettier wine---and how often does THAT happen? Add some chorizo, Membrillo and manchego cheese and let your snarky sister in law regift with aplomb!
Don't forget Lodi!

As Kidder Family Wines says "one sip is never enough"

And if you know M2, you know that's true !

Salud

11 November, 2012

Napa Gems: Spring Mountain Vineyard and Its Chardonnay and Cabernet


Drawn by a longtime, childhood dream to see the “Falcon Crest” house of 1980’s TV fame, and my ongoing search for lean, elegant, subtle, structured wines in Napa, I took my mom to taste at Spring Mountain Vineyard last weekend.  Although we could only see the famous house from a distance, the tasting and our short walk around the Miravalle property, the lowest part of the Spring Mountain Vineyard estate, were stunning and educational.


As our hosts Tony and Brynn showed us with a Google Earth tour of the estate, Spring Mountain Vineyard  rises over a thousand feet over several microclimates and four original, contiguous vineyard properties that date back to the 19th century. In general, the Spring Mountain AVA gets a lot of rain in the winter and cool afternoons and evenings in the summer, and the vineyards on the Miravalle part of the estate are surrounded by shadowy, lush, evergreen hills.  Almost all the vineyards are sloped so that well-drained, sedimentary soil stresses the vines to create more concentrated fruit and lower yields than in the vineyards on the valley floor.  As of this Veterans Day weekend, the Spring Mountain crew was still picking Cabernet from the estate’s highest vineyards at nearly 1450 feet.

Noontime sun and shadows at Miravalle, Spring Mountain Vineyard

Spring Mountain Vineyard tastings take place in an olive tree grove facing the winery and terraced vineyards.  The wines we tasted were all beautiful but two stood out.  Aged in neutral oak, the non-malolactic 2010 Chardonnay had a very pretty nose of lemon, orange blossom, and honey.  The wine is weighty but crisp in the mouth with citrus and apple flavors up front and minerality and caramel on the finish.  The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon had funky, earthy, leathery, and cherry aromas—almost too beautiful to stop smelling and start tasting.  It tasted just as beautifully with silky tannins and concentrated raspberries, cranberries, herbs and balanced acidity on the front and a long leathery, almost meaty finish.  It is easily my favorite Cabernet in several years for its elegance, restraint, and a sense of a place on a gorgeous autumn day.

10 November, 2012

Discoveries from Wine an Food Affair

I've heard that people buy cookbooks and never try the recipes. A benefit of the Wine and Food Affair is that you can see, taste, try the wine pair and then go home and try for yourself. Dutcher Crossing had a wonderful Tomato Bisque paired with their Cab. It was too hot too appreciate that day ---lucky for us. But the recipe called to me. so, with the waning delish tomatoes at the Farmer's Market, I whipped up an easy but sophisticated treat on this nippy evening.  The tomato bisque is  a warm, rich souvenir of Summer, especially with my addition of dill cream. I paired it with a 1221 Cab Cuvée from Chateau Diana. The winery has been there for 30 years but they just built a super cool tasting room last year. Of course the best surprise was seeing @Mykhael and as always his reco's were spot on. The wine has dark berries and menthol in the aromas.  Young cabs can be tempting when young...#jailbait  These Cab flavors will be better later, but drink great now.  Today, they complemented my soup and warmed my tummy. 
 I am looking forward to trying my other discoveries!

Tomato Bisque:
Ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1-1/2 tsp dill weed
5 cups tomatoes, chopped
4 teaspoons honey
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
salt and pepper

In a  large pot saute the onions and the dill weed in the olive oil about 5 minutes or until the onions are transparent.  Add the tomatoes.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add the honey and cream,  and remove the pot from the heat.  Using an immersion blender, carefully puree the bisque to a smooth consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot. 

This comes out super creamy.  When I make this again, I will use 6 cups tomatoes and reduce the cream to 3/4 cup.  We tried pairing it with a Tablas Creek Viognier and it was overpowered by the soup, so we recommend a white with a touch of RS like a Riesling or less delicate viognier for our white wine drinking occasions.

08 November, 2012

Happy #Tempranilloday -

Happy #tempranilloday!  Tempranillo is a wine that lends itself to everyday celebrations.  Casual or elegant, quick bites or long wine pairing dinners, it;s a fun thing to try.  An easy drinking selection for many occasions.  Most famous as a Spanish grape variety, it was interesting to find out that the grape is planted all over the world.  Naturally, it takes a different character based on the different terroir it finds itself in. 

2009 Vaza Crianza, ($15) -  From the Rioja Alavesa region, one of the three regions in La Rioja, this winery is located near a medieval village called Laguardia. The winemakers leverage modern techniques in an area where wine has been made since Roman times.  The result is a fresh approachable wine.  I found cherry and almost floral spice in the aromas, with a touch of chococolate and woodsy notes in the flavors with a nice cherry finish.

2010 Valdubon Cosecha ($15) - Moving to the Ribera Del Duero region, the freshness is still there, but added I found  more vibrant red fruit and spicy earthy notes.  Rich, welcoming aromas of berries and spice with a hit of bright red fruit in midpalate and an interesting hint of bitterness in the finish.



2011 Tempranilllo, Tapena ($11) - This wine from Tierra del Castilla part of Spain. There is a modern sensibility that retains a classic charm to this.  With plummy, red fruit aromas with earth , and smooth mouth feel.  It had cherry , spicy flavors and a savory character.  Short finish.  The winemakers did  a nice job with these food pairing hints:


I still remember the great Montecillo event from '09.  You can check it out here for more fun with #tempranillo

And as luck would have it, I attended an event about wines from the Valencia region of Spain.  More on that later. I I found a lot to love, and the best qpr was a yummy tempranillo. Valencia is a region with great wine values.  Catherine Fallis, who led the seminar was generous with " heavenly" insight on the region---of course!  She's the Grape Goddess (and CSW, to boot).  She described Valencia's winemaking style as wanting to make what they like to drink, with what they like to eat.  So, the wines were described as having "a fresh, clean but not sterile character", which sounded confusing, but when I tasted them it was something I could taste.  Bright.  Nice fruit.  Lovely spice. And a little something extra.  This lagniappe was earthy but not gamy and felt special---especially for the price points!

My fave QPR Pick was:

2009 Tempranillo, Marques de Caro - ($9.99) - Yummy flavors and aromas of red fruit.  An uncomplicated and unoaked offering.    Clean flavors focused on red fruit with a touch of spice.  Or just to pair with conversation. This was a delightful, surprisingly inexpensive wine that would go with many meals and occasions

Can't wait to read the other posts and tweets and again,
Happy #tempranillo day

I received these wines as samples

03 November, 2012

Wine and Food Affair 2012 - #wfa12

Looking for somethign fun to do Sunday?  Tickets for Sunday only are still available:
http://wineroadwineandfoodaffair2012.eventbrite.com/#

But Janesta, BrixChico Vince, and our videographer friend, Gary will be on the prowl trying hard to choose  places we have never been, which is so hard because, well just because there are just so many places we love so much!

So far among the place we are set to experiment are:
Fritz Underground Winery

Chateau Diana

Dutcher Crossing Winery

And as many old favorites as we can squeeze in!
A Wine & Food Affair is the premier event for Wine Road - Northern Sonoma County! 
Join us for a weekend of wine and food pairing in the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys. 
All of the wineries participating will have a favorite winery recipe in the cookbook, which they will prepare both days for you to sample, along with the perfect wine. Ticket holders will receive their cookbook, tasting glass and wristband upon check-in.  
Designated Drivers are given a different color wristband and they are not served wine. Designated Drivers do receive the cookbook!  Which is good news for Janesta!  Hiccup!  See you there!

02 November, 2012

Concannon Vineyard - A Place for All Seasons


In the bright heat of summer, I visited with Luscious Lush Thea the Concannon Vineyard where we met John Concannon, great grandson of the founder, toured the lovely grounds and tasted the wonderful wine they have there.  Hearing the history of the place firsthand, we thought they should do a documentary since the story is so fascinating,  rooted in family, California history and best of all: wine!

Now that the weather is turning cold and rainy, the temperate winter of Livermore makes it the best time to visit.  Especially since they have the best wine bar on site and a fabulous retail store to help you get fun holiday gifts for those on your list of legal drinking age.  While everyone else is scurrying around Broadway Plaza, take a detour to Livermore and the Underdog Wine Bar.  You can while away an aftenoon "shopping" for the perfect wine to gift.  The menu has suggestions to guide your choices and help you  learn more about the wines they sell. Plus the snacks are amazing.  Tuna tartare anyone? 3 oz tasting pours let you experiment and find your next new favorite.

100 degrees outside and still tanks are "chill"
traditional makes tasty
Concannon is best known for its wonderful Petit Sirahs.  Jim Concannon was the first to bottle it as a varietal.in 1961  Known as a great blending component, he recognized the caliber of the fruit to drive a luscious, inky delight all on its own.  Concannon wins awards for their wonderful offerings .
 Using techniques from the most modern to the most traditional they are able to maintain the timeline of excellence, winning medals, which you may or may not care about , and producing lovely wines, which I know you do.

And talk about commitment to the land.  John's stewardship of the Livermore vineyard inspired him to  convert the agricultural holdings into a conservation trust so the land is safe from condo-fication.  So we will always be able to go back and enjoy the taste of history in a glass in the Conservancy tier of the wine offerings.
No McMansions here!


Speaking of history, they found Captain Joe's original recipe that he used to make wine for General Pershing.   It has a hint of cigars,  dark fruit aromas and lovely flavors of more dark fruit.  Substantial mouth feel with a slight burn and lovely haunting smoulder to finish  Super food friendly and definitely matches the  personality of namesake character.

I do love some good Petit Sirah.  But we tasted through the whole line which includes so much more:
 2010 Conservancy Charddonay, Livermore valley
Bright low malo nice acidity for food hint of popcorn in finish, nice bitterness

2010 Reserve Chardonnay, Livermore valley
green fruit citrus more malo smoother lovely  citrusy finish

2011 Viognier amazing tropical notes John says banana but like those banana daiquiris you get in St. John when then pull sugar bananas off the tree nice silky mouthfeel yummy flavors

2008 Merlot bright med garnet lovely raspberry aromas and flavors , drinks like a much pricier bottle so would make a great gift.  The fruit comes from the coldest part of  ruby hills, which allows a long hang time 10 %cab it's a wine that is paying attention.  Firm backbone  looks like a $50 bottle with its embossing and fancy bottle, drinks like a $30 wine and retails for $15

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon,  Livermore lovely black cherry aromas hint of morning bun aroma slightly sweet food friendly smooth pleasant flavors

2008 Petit Sirah, Livermore vly dark luscious Gremlin wine taming the beast concannon 1st in Us now over 2000 producers "squid ink purple st Bernard sitting in your lap" pleasant grip smooth slightly brambliness

crimson and clover red blend landmark years 50%ps Cab and Zin 1.2 RS  double dipping  components aged separately then interesting oak regimen to enhance mocha character super food friendly delish with Ahi and smoked salmon

Sounds delish, right?
They have handy pariring recipes here: 
Over the summer I worked on a Petit Sirah Profiterole that involved my three stage 2 day ice cream prep and home made pasty.  But I will adapt the recipe for you here for your holiday entertaining timeline:
Step 1: Buy Petit Sirah Chocolate Sauce
Step 2: Buy frozen vanilla cream puffs, Whole foods has a great one
Step 3: Assemble, relax, devour!
Plan your visit soon!
Concannon Vineyard
4590 Tesla Road
Livermore, CA 94550
Phone: (800) 258-9866
(925) 456-2505
Fax: (925) 456-2511
Hours: Daily, 11AM - 4:30PM

Underdog Wine Bar at Concannon Vineyard
Phone: (925) 583-1581
Hours: 
Thursday-Saturday 11:30 to 10PM
Sunday-Wednesday 11:30 to 8PM
www.underdogwinebar.com

01 November, 2012

Quatre Femmes at Mumm, Napa - Photography Exhibit and Sparkling Wine

 As if the informative tour and delicious sparkling wine was not enough to make you want to visit Mumm Napa, on October 20th, they opened a photography exhibit that will clinch the deal for you. We aare huge fans of Mumm Napa and had an awesome time when we were last there.  If  you are curious, click here:
BrixChicks Visit Mumm

For this exhibit, Janesta and I found lots to enjoy from the magnums of lovely brut rose they poured to the wonderful photos.  Four women photogs with diverse style and subjects created a show with something for everyone.


Thea Schrack used an encaustic wax based process to bring us into the emotion of her nature scenes.  Making the landscapes seem like impressionist art; the texture was compelling.



 Sharon Beals took nature samples from as far back as the early 19th century and reanimated them.  Nests and feathers etc. caught in time took on a high fashion cast,  like accessories for the Paris collections.








Brigitte Carnochan hand paints her silver gelatin prints to create a timeless vision of a still life caught in time and space. With some things seeming too real and others, unreal. 

Susan Friedman’s  horse photographs are stunning.

 She captures  her beautiful equine subjects so they at once leap off the page and  blend into their environment.  We got to meet Sue, and I think our enthusiasm for Pegasus frightened her. We are kind of scary hopped up on yummy bubbles and potted pig from Farmstead our first, and strenuously recommended, stop.

We demonstrated our Recessionista prowess by splitting plates and finding a great free art show.

 There is no charge to view the ‘Quatre Femmes Photographes’ exhibit. Mumm Napa is located at 8445 Silverado Trail, Rutherford, CA 94573.

Mumm Napa is one of California’s top sparkling wine producers and one of the most popular destinations for wine country visitors. For more than 20 years, Mumm Napa sparkling wines have set the standard for California méthode traditionelle sparkling wine, emphasizing the exceptional qualities of Napa Valley fruit along with the unique casual elegance of the Napa Valley lifestyle. The winery and visitor center are located in Rutherford along the Silverado Trail in the Napa Valley and are open daily for tours, tastings and private events.

Visitor center and fine art photography gallery hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. Additional information is at www.mummnapa.com.
# # #




30 October, 2012

Better Late Than Never - #WBW79 Wrap Up


Whew!  What a summer it has been!  If you need a refresher on the assignment, here it is:
#wbw79 Summer Reading, Summer Wine  Here are the intrepid bloggers who answered the call!

http://talk-a-vino.com/tag/wbw79/
Our most obscure reference comes from @talkavino, Anatoli Levine, Wine geek, foodie, blogger, dad, husband, technologist, aspiring student of taekwondo - in a different order every day, who riffs on what to pair with his favorite SciFi, Monday Starts on Saturday, which he read in the original Russian - super cool!

http://winepredator.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/wbw-79-gets-literary-with-katniss-everdeen-professor-mcgonigle/
Gwendolyn Alley got literary, and enlisted her friend Henny Kim in an additional entry, for hers.  @ArtPredator shares my love of all things Harry Potter and introduces us to a a great Rhone blend from Eberle in Paso. Extra points for dressing up and pairing.  Henny picked a fun wine, Sofia sparkling wine (wins for prettiest bottle) and a great heroic character, Katniss Everdeen.  I know I would approach the snappy dressing sponsors to try to score Miss Everdeen some  bubbly.

http://drinkwhatyoulike.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/wine-blogging-wednesday-79-merlot-for-miles/  Frank from Drink What you Like turns "Sideways" from his beloved Virginia grape and takes on the character of Miles with some interesting information on "Sideways, the Play", which has been extended fro one last time!

http://wildwallawallawinewoman.blogspot.com/2012/07/wine-blogging-wednesday-79-summer.html
Catie, The Walla Walla Wild Wine Woman pairs a fabulous Washington red with some, for those of you that have read the book (or seen the movie) especially gamy BBQ.  A great review and some wonderful writing!

http://2001bottles.blogspot.com/2012/07/wine-blogging-wednesday-79-what-would.html
Bob from 2001 Bottles pairs a wine with a kd Lang song.  Very cool!

http://myculinaryadventures.blogspot.com/2012_07_01_archive.html
We learned  Erica, Bon Vivant's  favorite character is Auntie Mame along with a very fabulous recipe and interesting pair!

So sorry for the lateness of the roundup.  It reminds us how fast summer passes when you are in an airport, on a concall, learning IT acronyms...

Here is my entry:
John William Waterhouse, 1911 
Tristan and Isolde.  A twisty tragic tale of bravery, foolishness, deceit, adultery, a soupcon of Grail legend, the tragic Cornish coast, Wagnerian opera and an all encompassing passion ignited by a potion disguised as wine.

What would this philtre taste like? I imagine it would taste like 2000 Stags Leap Cask 23  Watered with the tears of late spring rains then heated by a constant warming summer, the fruit was picked carefully, then fermented in steel and kept for 21 mos in French Oak.  99% Cab Sauv from the wonderful Stags Leap district spiked with 1% petit verdot.  The result is a rich dark elixir with aromas of caramel, cedar and magic.  Flavors of European moonlight, dark fruit and sin.  A lush and lingering finish, . It pairs as well with tragedy as contentment, though the winery suggests lamb. Any day you open it will be a special day.

The Jury of the Brix Chicks spoke and awarded the win to Henny Kim!  Henny, contact me and I will get you your prize!

26 October, 2012

Loving Life on #champagneday -Review of Sea Salt and Krug

Everyday should be Champagne Day, but we did not pick an every day Champagne. We decided to pair with oysters, so where better than Sea Salt in Berkeley? They have delicious, fresh, $1 oysters on their Happy Hour menu weekdays from 3-6 (and Mondays 3 - closing). The chef's commitment to sustainable sea food adds to the pleasant satisfaction of the tasty fresh oysters ---and there are yummy selections on both the menus as well. 

If you don't order the lobster roll, you will miss the housemade potato chips, or maybe talk your server into an order of those (they were amazing with our champagne)

And what to pair? I looked into the wine closet and plucked out a divine wine: MV Krug Grande Cuvée Brut.  Available at K and L Wine for $139.  Rich and silky. Toasty aromas and flavors. A ghostly outline of fruit. Somewhat assertive acid.  Fab pair with horseradish kissed oysters and a great end to a hectic week

Sea Salt
2512 San Pablo Ave
Berkeley CA
Lunch and dinner 7 days Brunch on
Sunday's
See you there!

20 October, 2012

2011 Arca Nova Loureiro Vinho Verde

In this season before winter really hits we have some porch wine days and I recently received a sample of a yummy Loureiro Vinho Verde perfect for today. Translated Loureiro means "laurel" and that sensibility translates back into the wine. A slight hint of the palest green underpins the clear pale citrine. The aromas as well can best be described as green--- not unripe, but green. Floral, green fruit like apples kiwi and an undiscovered citrus. The mouthfeel is slightly spritzy. The flavors are fresh and grapefruity. Yummy easy drinking and a great refreshing offering for all seasons. Look for it at www.snooth.com
I received this wine as a sample

16 October, 2012

Hot wings cool wine

Can't take the heat of those spicy chicken wings? Pair them with a sweet, high acid Riesling. The residual sugar of the wine tames the savage heat.

We especially love the Prinz 2007 Kabinett Riesling from the Rheinghau. Nose of petrol and strong flavors of pineapple, apricot and tangerine.

You may think you don't like sweet, white wines but when they are paired with ethnic cuisines such as Thai, Indian or American soul food, you just might change your mind.

11 September, 2012

Visit to Mosel via Adam Richardson of Cupcake

I was lucky enough to be a guest of Lisa Klinck Shea of Folsom Associates, when the winemaker Adam Richardson was in San Francisco. So I got to hear the Cupcake Vineyard story up close and personal. Cupcake Vineyards wines are attractively priced and part of the brand philosophy is to provide an everyday treat for its customers. We tasted through the line with some things that I liked more than others, but all had a freshness and food friendly quality that has made me look for them on my CostPlus World Market wine safaris. For me the two standouts of the line up were the Shiraz and the Riesling.  The Rielsing comes from Mosel, where Adam journeys to make the wine. His notes on the wine making process:
The vines of the Mosel Valley were planted on nearly vertical fields that run down to the Mosel River itself. These vines were trained in heart shapes leaving the walls of the river valley covered with green hearts. Due to the steep inclines, all the grapes are hand- picked. When the grapes arrived at the crush pad, they were de-stemmed and gently pressed before undergoing a cool, slow fermentation with a Riesling specific yeast to accentuate the delicate flavors on this wine. The wine was then aged sur lie and stirred regularly for up to two months. This stirring process helped round out the body of the wine and creates the soft creamy notes that make this wine indisputably Cupcake
.
My friends love the blue bottle as well as the lemony notes and the food friendliness of this.  Adam, who is a native of Australia, regaled us stories of his travels in Australia and tried to give us Australian lessons. Along with that, he answered our questions on how all the wines were made. I can drive to the Underdog Wine Bar , access their complete line and see what the folks there pair with it. You can also order it online here:

Today I am super lucky to be going to Mosel to see, hear, taste and discover.  More on that later. 

Meanwhile
Cupcake Vineyards reminds us to " Live deliciously "Adam travels the world managing the wine making process so that it's easy and affordable for the rest of us. Cheers!

10 September, 2012

Bucket List visit to Dr. Loosen

I am likely atwitter with delight as today on my itinerary I get to visit a long admired producer and learn more about this ravishing delight in person. 
If you are in Sebastopol and have some extra time, go visit Micaela at the super fun Wine Emporium. Among the things she can pour is my favorite, the Dr. Loosen Riesling. Hailing from the Mosel region in Germany this smooth slightly sweet wine has aromas of white flowers and lychee. Flavors of citrus and lychee elderflower with white peach on the finish. Delish! When I was there, I was with BrixChick Michele and we were dreaming of spicy Asian food and postulating the many snacks this would pair well with when we realized we were late for our "Golden Girl" linner! Well,  it's amazing how flexible restaurants can be when your reservation is for 4:30!  We made it and had a marvelous time!  I highly recommend a visit here on your wine wanderings
125 N Main st
Sebastopol, Ca
877.349.2285

Or if you are close to a Fleming's and in a more pugilistic mood, make time on September 28th to visit them between 5:00 and 7:30 to try a Riesling Smackdown in the "Glass Warfare" program, where they will let you make the call between my favorite, Dr. Loosen and a Gunderloch Spaetlese Riesling also from Germany

 More info here:
http://www.flemingssteakhouse.com/e-newsletter/2012/september/bottle-wars-tasting-events
RIoelsling

09 September, 2012

 Don't look now, but as Indian Summer starts to wane and ghosts, goblins and ghouls plan to invade your neighborhood, the next step is even more ghastly: the holiday season officially begins.

I thought I would share two of my secret weapons for holiday entertaining: Riesling and take-out. Riesling comes in super sweet all the way along the spectrum to dry and so is a great way to accommodate the tastes of diverse guests and the holiday treats they bring with them. And what better solution, whether you are surprising your guests or being surprised by them, than Asian take-out? The folks at P.F. Chang's have put their offerings at your fingertips with their cool online ordering system. You can schedule your pickup in advance, the super easy interface makes it a breeze to select your favorites, and arriving with your order already paid for speeds your way through the process. Plus, they frequently offer 20% or 15% off your order when you place your requests online. So, who can resist an affordable way to put sparkle in your guests's eyes with ease? Not me. So I thought I would test it out at the same time as I road tested some charming Riesling samples. Worked like a dream. I set up my order in the a.m. for afternoon pickup. When it was time to leave, I timed myself curb to curb and was out the door and back with perfectly executed order in less than 17 minutes. Which was good because knowing the yummy Riesling was waiting at home made me impatient. So on to the wine:
'09 J&H Selbach Weinkellerei "Red Fish" Riesling, QbA, Mosel, Germany: With its fun label, convenient screw cap and pale citrine color, this wine felt easy, breezy. It has fresh, lively aromas of citrus with a hint of morning bun. It was delightful with the Sichuan Beef, as the heat in that dish picked up savory notes in wine. Also, lovely with the lime splashed Singapore Noodles. But got overpowered by the garlicky lobster sauce shrimp. Still, with its easy character, pleasant acidity and lovely flavors, I liked this very much. It was also super good four days later with butternut squash ravioli.
'04 Weingut Pfeffigen Ungsteiner Herrenberg Reisling, Beernauslese, Pfalz, Germany ($40): I love, love sweet Rieslings so seeing the "Beerenauslese" on the label denoting sweet wine made me happy. It had a lovely golden color and an unctuousness that I could detect when I poured it. A hint of petrolly-ness gave it a bit of savory in the sweetness. It was a rock star with the food. I doused the Sichuan Beef liberally with specially requested chili paste to achieve center of the sun heat to test the theory that sweet goes with heat, and it was good. It was also good with the Lobster Sauce shrimp and the citrusy Singapore Noodles. A delightful repast.
Many thanks to the team at Wines of Germany who sent these two bottles as samples. Contrasting dry and fruity was a super fun exercise!

And now many Rieslings carry the Riesling Taste Profile



Look for this to help you predict the level of sweetness to match your tastes when buying  to help avoid unnecessary experimentation (and consonants, umlauts and surprises) unless you are into that and you know all the BrixChicks are!

08 September, 2012

Off to the Land of Rieslings -

 Having recently changed assignments at the day job which converted my work travel from Northern CA 24x7 into "if it's Tuesday this must be Penn Station---or that's where Outlook says I am supposed to be" which to be fair , in this economic climate is more of a blessing than a curse.  And then the Wine Blogger Conferenfce, which inundated me with a host of wonderful material about the glory of all things Oregon.  Stay tuned for more later on the wonder of WBC.

But now I find myself off to Germany courtesy of the Wines of Germany folks to fulfill a bucket list dream of visiting the land where my favorite Rieslings come from.  So please bear with me as I reprint some of my favorite Riesling moments. Looking forward to catching up with you all later!


Credit for this find goes to BrixChico, Vince, who scours the offerings on KQED religiously. Red Sea, located on the corner of Telegraph and Claremont is a simple, unprepossessing location, but watch out: the food is off the hook. Whether you are a vegetarian or like meat with your meat, there is something on the menu to delight. For 16 years, the folks at Red Sea have been putting out authentic and tasty Ethiopian food. Our visit was no exception. Another nice feature for us wineaux, is the $5 corkage. Since BrixChicks/Chicos (emphasis on the CHICO) can be Wine Snarks, this was a nice feature as it freed us to bring some finds of our own, rather than settle for beer or cocktails. We congregated at this spot on cold, rainy evening, but our server/hostess had a smile that lit up the space and was cordial, helpful and fun. In fact, we all got a chuckle as we ordered, when I misspoke the combo I was ordering and she was concerned we would not have enough food. Clearly, she didn't know who she was dealing with! By the end of the order, I think her concerns had shifted to the kitchen---as in would they have enough food! Schedules being what they are, it had been a long time since Xandria and I had hung out, so I picked something I thought she liked and she also dusted off something she thought I would like. BrixChicks rule! So, I brought an '08 Ironstone Riesling I had acquired on a recent trip to Murphys. With a petrolly nose and floral spicy notes, it was the perfect counterpoint to the crispy, fried Vegetable sambusas. The heat of the jalapenos which infused this appetizer were zippy with the refreshing off dry Riesling. The four of us positively hoovered the Riesling and apps, in time to clear the table when our main entry arrived. An afordable edible mandala of deliciousness

A carefully chosen Riesling is your best friend when pairing especially when you know you will get center of the sun heat.  The refreshing sweetness of a sweeter Riesling will tame the heat and the spice will calm any syrupy tendencies.

This Riesling might be hard to find, but try one on for size at your local wine shop.  If you are lucky enough to be by Solano Cellars, they will hook you up!


06 July, 2012

#WBW79 Announcing Wine Blogging Wednesday: Summer Reading, Summer Wine

Whether you remember the summer reading list as a chore or, like the BrixChicks, love that Summer Slowdown finally means a chance to read (okay, watch TV) for pleasure, we wanted to host this Wine Blogging Wednesday around an imaginative (okay, imaginary) topic:

What wine would your favorite fictional character drink?

So whether you think Anastasia would serve Christian Fifty Shades of vin gris or you think Proust was really thinking Remembrances of Pinots Past we want to hear which character and what wine and why.  

Here’s an example:
Scarlett looked down at the small chip that marred the last of the remaining wine goblets. “Damn Yankees!” And without the money from Rhett she would never be able to pay the taxes on Tara. Alcohol always helped, but Rhett liked the finer things and she was dead broke. What would she pair with the grilled pork chops  possum leg  turnips in the picnic basket? 

Louis Jadot to the rescue! Their Beaujolais Villages 2010 had an elegant refined flavor and texture.  He would never guess that this 100% Gamay beauty only set her back $10.95!  The pigeage accomplished in open fermentation casks resulted in clean flavors of fresh red fruit with peppery spice notes.  That clean refreshing acidity would buoy his spirits and convince him to help.  Oh, yes.  This lovely wine would make him give a damn!

So it’s kind of like “Fight Club”: there are no rules (Hey! I wonder what Chuck Paluhniak would drink?)
But here are the guidelines:
  • Think of a favorite character. Any genre, any timeline, any story.  We’ll even take whatever Axl Rose would slurp as he welcomed you to the jungle.
  • What wine would he/she/it drink? Tell us about the wine. Work it into the story.
  • Extra credit for those who write a scene with the wine
  • Your deadline is Wednesday, July 25th
Operators are standing by waiting to be dazzled by your prose, so please let us know:
  • Leave a comment here:      Brixchicks #wbw79
  • Facebook BrixChick Liza
  • Tweet @brixchick_Liza
  • Email WBW79 at brixchicks dot com
  • If you are thinking of dressing up as your character, We LOVE that! Instagram us: brixchick_Liza
  • Be sure to use the #WBW79 hashtag.
Summer reading, summer wine. A chance to take a character you love serve them wine and share the story! So pass it along! Can’t wait to read your entries!

BONUS:  There will be a prize for the best entry.  More on that later, but if you like wine and stories, you will love this prize. 

Romancing the Rhones - A special San Francisco Event (with a special discount)


Brix Chicks Followers Reap Rewards

Join us at Romancing the Rhones

The Old Mint
88 5th Street (5th and Mission)
San Francisco, California 94103
Saturday, July 14, 2012, Bastille Day!
2pm til 4:30pm

 

Dear Brix Chicks Readers,

This is a wonderful event in which you will be able to taste some of the finest Viogniers, Syrahs, Grenaches, Petites Syrahs and other Rhone Varieties produced in the USA. I ought to know how great these wines are because i had the honor of being one of the judges in the preliminary tasting rounds. In fact, if you attend this event you will get to judge for yourself. Affairs of the Vine has offered us a great deal which will expire June 10th so please take advantage of us!

Fall in love all over again! Share in a deliciously seductive Rhone experience on Saturday, July 14th in San Francisco, at the historic Old Mint. Blind taste 40 top wines from the 2012 Rhone Shootout. Pit your palate against the experts and vote for your favorites!

Enjoy sassy Rhone-friendly foods from local artisans. Sample amazing Rhone wines from California, Oregon and beyond. Learn something new about Rhone varietals. Discover new favorites to take home!

You’re special!
Buy tickets by July 10th and Receive VIP Status with the Brix Chicks Followers Upgrade Code: VIP Brixchicks

Romancing the Rhones: Romancing Event

• Explore 100+ amazing Rhone wines from 40+ Rhone producers
• Indulge in the Rhone Romance Lunch with Winemakers @ Chez Papa in the Mint Plaza. Limited seating (Gold Bar Tickets, $85)
• VIP Barrel Tasting in the historic Vaults (Silver Dollar Tickets, $65)
• Blind Taste top-scoring wines from the Rhone Shootout
• Sample Rhone-friendly food
• Perfect Pairings – 8 succulent wines & 8 brilliant bites ($20)
• On-site Bottle Booth – take home your new favorites!
• Rhone Lovers Tickets, $45

Don’t Rhone Alone! Reserve your tickets by July 10th and Be Upgraded to VIP Status!!
Buy Tickets Online
Upgrade Code: Brixchicks
Purchase the Rhone Lover's ticket ($45) and be upgraded to Silver Dollar VIP status ($65). Includes Early Admission to the Blind Tasting, access to the Barrel Tasting at 12:30 PM, and extra time to enjoy this Rhone lover's event.

Sponsors: Bottlenotes, GSO, Rhone Rangers, Trois Petits Cochons, Sour Flour, We Olive, Dining Around/NewsTalk 910 and One Brick.

04 July, 2012

Updates from Petite Abeille - Delish Pinot Noir

'09 Petite Abeille, Petite Abeille Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, California USA ($35). This wine had a seductive color, clear garnet with coppery hints. It has that delicious, RRV Pinot perfumey cherry with spiced vanilla. Flavors to match with a nice acidity and a lovely cherry kissed lingering finish. We got to chat a little with Deb Mayo who grows the grapes and makes the wine. She uses four clones to grow the fruit that shapes her final product; Calera, Pommard, Swan 828 I found her fun and informative and will certainly be on the lookout for this wonderful wine.   If you are looking for wines from amazing female producers, or just looking for wonderful wines, this should go on your list, too

27 June, 2012

Super Napan! David Arthur's "Meritaggio"


"A bottled fusion of California and Tuscany"





Perhaps you are familiar with the term "Super Tuscan" which refers to Sangiovese-based wines blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals made by Tuscan wineries. Perhaps you are familiar with the names Gaja, Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Sondraia? They make premium, high-end Super Tuscans that are age-worthy, collectable and that will cost you a very pretty centavo. They are beautiful wines.

This type of blend is being done in Napa but, of course, they do things just the opposite by blending a small amount of Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon.





David Arthur 2008 Meritaggio Napa Valley
18% Sangiovese was blended with 75% Cabernet Sauvignon along with a bit of Petite Verdot and Cab Franc. The Sangiovese adds acidity to the fruit and tannic structure of the Cab making it a very food friendly Napa Cab. This wine has lots of red fruit and herbal notes with a silky, velvety texture. It is plain luscious.
Winemaker: Nile Zacherle $55






When you are ready to spend a pretty penny I recommend a visit to David Arthur and they are located on Pritchard Hill which neighbors Lake Hennesey and is very close to Chapellet. Talk about premium Napa Cabs...By appointment only. Go to www.davidarthur.com










20 June, 2012

One More #WBW78: Phoenix Ranch Viognier and Back Room Wines


Viognier is not normally a wine I seek out and I generally prefer it blended with other wonderful white Rhone varietals.  But this Wine Blogging Wednesday theme sent me to a local wine shop to find a good Viognier since I couldn't join the other Brix Chicks in their Viggy-fest.

And boy, did I luck out.  Dan Dawson, owner of Back Room Wines in downtown Napa, was pouring 2010 Phoenix Ranch Napa Valley Viognier as part of a “Wines Off The Grid” flight.  I loved it and took a bottle home.

Phoenix Ranch is a small production winery growing Viognier and Syrah in a single vineyard at the foot of Atlas Peak, one of the coolest parts of Napa Valley.  The Viognier is fermented in 100% stainless steel and aged sur lies for 10 months giving the wine some brightness and a little creamy finish without the oaky, sour, flatness other New World Viogniers can have sometimes.

The wine smelled of honey, green herbs (mint?), melon, the characteristic floral notes, and just a little funk.  In the mouth, it is very light bodied and lean with pretty stone and citrus fruit and honey undertones in the front and the characteristic floral notes in the mid palate.  As the wine warmed in the glass, peach flavors and smells became more prominent.  The wine is fresh, crisp, and bright without being acidic.  It played off beautifully with the sweetness and earthiness of the butternut squash-potato-leek soup I had for dinner.

Phoenix Ranch is the kind of winery that Back Room Wines specializes in—small, local producers, many of whom do not have their own tasting rooms.  The shop has been open for 10 years in downtown Napa and offers a quiet, individualized, educational tasting experience not normally experienced in the big Napa tasting rooms.  Neither tourists nor locals should pass it by and should instead duck in to explore and buy wines from off the beaten path.

#WBW78 Viognier, Viggy Or as we say vee-ohn-YAY!

Being generally amorous towards all things Rhone, this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday assignment gave us an opportunity to "Vig" out.  Apparently at the great wine blogger's conference of '11 the nickname "viggy" was foisted upon Viognier.  It is easier to say.  Although it doesn't as easily convey the exotic, floral, stone fruit redolent wine we love.  The BrixChicks, including a rare appearance by BrixChico, Vince, gathered various noshes, aromatic curry, chicken satay, prosciutto wrapped melon, cracked crab, spicy samosas and apricot tart, rolled up our sleeves and got our Viognier on.  The first wine I presented came from far off South Africa

2009 Spice Route Viognier, Swartland, South Africa  Hailing from the  Cape West Coast, Charles Back heads up the Spice Route team at the winery he founded in 1997.  They till the  Swartland soil without irrigation to get an expressive fruit.  This is left on the lees 11 months and aged in old french oak.  We found the wine to be a great pair for food.  It was a pretty light bronze color.  We got  muted aromas of nectarine and a hint of the orange peel much later.  The texture was medium full and very tart without the rampant aromas of flowers and stone fruit we expected.  We categorized it as food slutty because it worked so much better with food than without and proved itself a versatile pair to all the dishes on the table including plain cantaloupe. I found this at wine.com for $15.

Next up was one of my favorite producers in the world,

2010 Twisted Oak Viognier, Calaveras County,California,  USA : Jeff Stai and his Twisted team give the most fun parties and it is a super wine club to belong to.  This Viognier comes from the Dalton Vineyard.  Gold colored, the wine had balanced aromas of tropical notes with stone fruit.  I think my stone fruit exemplars might have been wafting over, because I got more nectarine and apricot as well as coconut.  The flavors were lovely and tart.  And while the wine was easy to sip alone, it was easy to pair with everything and was especially tasty with the peanut sauce dipped chicken satay.  Yummy!  This wine came in my club shipment and you can order it online for $15.  If you find yourself near Murphys, Twisted Oaks is a must visit for a wine sploshed fun filled good time.

And with all my posse gathered, I couldn't resist opening up

2009 Route 128 Viognier Opatz Family Vineyard, Yorkville Highlands, California USA    Route 128 is a true Mom and Pop place in the supercute town of Geyserville, where if you visit on an event day, Pete and Lorna will be working the counter and eager to share their wonderful wine.  Chances are a family member will be grilling house made sausages. Yum!  The real story is the wine.  The fruit for the limited production wine comes from the Yorkville Highlands, which are right between the Anderson and Alexander Valleys.  A pale gold color, the aromas were balanced between floral and stone fruit. A hint of yummy bitterness in the mid palate, along with that sprightly acidity made it pair well with all our east Indian and Asian snacks.  The website boasts that the wine will complement the creamiest of sauces.  So I am glad I have another bottle stashed away to pair with smoked salmon fettuccine Alfredo.  At $19 it is a great buy.  And another fun place to visit. Tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday 21079 Geyserville Avenue
Downtown Geyserville  707-696-0004

So another fun Wine Blogging Wednesday.  Our Viogniers ranged from restrained and make you strain to pick up the muted fruit all the way to blasting jasmine and peach.  But all the selections were tart, tasty and great to pair with food.  Call it Viggy.  Call it what you want, but don't call it late to dinner!