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. 

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

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:

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!