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 !


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:
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:

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
Thursday-Saturday 11:30 to 10PM
Sunday-Wednesday 11:30 to 8PM

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.
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