27 April, 2013

Hopland Spring Passport 2013 - The Tradition Continues

Stunning view from Nelson Family Vineyards

Oh, great joy and jubilation!  It is time for one of my favorite festivals of the year: the Hopland Passport!

Hopland is located on the 101 Corridor in Mendocino County known for its beautifully-crafted wines, breath-taking vistas and liberal values (the kind you can smoke for medicinal purposes.) The Passport takes place every spring and fall and this is the 22nd Annual Spring Passport. Thousands of wine-lovers attend this festival for the great wine, food and live entertainment that each winery showcases. There is bubbly and oysters at Rack and Riddle, Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon at McNab Ridge, beautiful white Rhones at Campovida, Italian varietals at Graziano, and the wide range of award-winning wines made by McFadden Family Farm including Mendocino County's top awarded Chardonnay (Double Gold) and the nation's best Late Harvest Riesling (Best Of Class) from the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. McFadden isn't just a winery or a vineyard, but a bio-diverse, certified organic, family farm, and will grill McFadden Farm grass fed beef to pair with amazing wines. Did somebody say "Tri-tip?" Also on the menu: McFadden Farm Wild Rice served in a wild rice and artichoke heart salad, and a green salad, all seasoned with McFadden Farm herbs and herb blends; again, all organically grown. Guinness McFadden will also be on hand, signing bottles of his wine on request. Personally I cannot wait to taste those winning wines nor can I wait to taste the grass-fed beef also raised by McFadden Farms. For a list of all 17 participating wineries go here: Hopland Passport

The Passport takes place May 4th and 5th and here is the link to buy your tickets but be sure to buy before noon, May 2nd afterwhich prices increase from $45 to $55. Tickets

For you more spontaneous types you can buy your tickets the day of the festival from any winery for $55.

Visit the Hopland Apothecary, if you need to.

Only in Mendocino. Brutocao even served tater tots with their Spamalicious Pizza and wide variety of wines.

One of my favorite pairings from years past: Marzipan tartlette with Nelson Family Viognier. What makes it even better is eating it in their Redwood Grove along with their wood-fired pizzas.

Award-winning winemaker and cattleman Guiness McFadden with a couple of groupies...

See you in Hopland!

16 April, 2013

Break Open in Case of Emergency - Review of Moscato Allegro and Moscato Allegro Rose

 These fun wines showed up on Valentine's Day.  I was in an airport.  Somewhere.  So they sat  on the sample table, where luckily they sprang into action on two separate occasions.  First, during my Oscar party the 2011 Moscato Allegro was called into service when the Cava sangria vanished in a twinkle and the reds were not a good match for the citrusy and spicy Shrimp Ceviche.  With a hint of lemon in flavor and finish, nice acidity to stand up to the lime-marinated, mango studded shrimp and 6.3% residual sugar to tame the heat (I was a little heavy handed with the Cholula), people loved it. Crisis averted! This wine is made using great quality California Muscat Canelli grapes by Martin & Weyrich   They navigate the winemaking process to maintain a nice acidity which gives the wine balance and helps make it more food friendly.  It's sweet without being cloying and has a refreshing finish.   Nice mouthfeel too.

Next emergency was on Easter.  I had a snazzy Vinho Verde sangria planned, but  I knew the sangria would be gone long before the judging of Easter Bonnets (and serving of my edible entry).  Then , I saw the Allegro Moscato Rose on my sample table.  The lovely salmon pink caught my eye.  Checking the notes, I expected lemon, peach and floral characters.  Perfect!  My daisies were lemon, my tulips, vanilla and the roses were flavored with rose water,  It sounded like a good match.  With 6.5 % residual sugar, I crossed my fingers the pairing would not be too sweet.  It ended up tasting great with the cookies.  Another crisis averted -- and with the inappropriate footwear I had selected, I couldn't have handled one more thing that rainy Easter.  I have since stocked up a couple of more bottles.  I have heard that this is great with chocolate.  I did not test that theory, so more experimentation awaits me. 

If you are looking for something inexpensive but tasty that will fit a number of foods, temperatures and drinkers, try these.  You can find them here

I received these wines as samples

07 April, 2013

Euclid Wines - Get on this allocation list now

Please join us in welcoming our newest Brix Chick Chef Michele! She is a professionally-trained chef who is a whiz at pairing wine and food. Michele also knows a thing or two about Chardonnay and Napa Cabernets so please read her posts to learn and laugh.

I recently spent a wild and wine soaked week for my birthday in Napa with sister BrixChick, Xandria. We made some amazing discoveries that I would love to share with our readers.

In a local restaurant, I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Farmer and his son Lucas of Euclid Wines  After over 30 years in the wine business making primarily high-end cabernet blends Mike and his son became partners and made their first wine, 2009 Euclid Cabernet Sauvignon (84% cabernet sauvignon, 1.5% petite verdot, 10% cab franc, 4.5%merlot). This is a gorgeous, luxurious wine with a smooth, luscious texture. The fruit aromas on the nose are of black currant, bing cherry and the barrels add milk chocolate, caramel and vanilla. It has brilliant, silky tannins and lovely, long complex finish. An alluring wine with well integrated tannins that has everything a Napa Cab drinker wants and more. Yes, I'm in love!!!! Next time you are in Napa Valley, stop at Brix restaurant it's on the wine list.

I recently enjoyed this wine with friends (birthday dinner number #10) on a warm Saturday evening with my last piece of fois gras pate that was layered with black truffles and grilled chateaubriand. The steak had been marinated in soy sauce, garlic, red wine and fresh herbs for 2 days and was cooked perfectly rare. There was a side of mini yukon gold potatoes that had been boiled in water that was permeated with bay leaves and then tossed with olive oil that had be infused with fresh herbs. The char on the steak and herbaceousness of the potatoes paired extremely well with the Euclid cabernet.

Because this was a birthday dinner for me born under the sign of Leo, you should know that luxury and extravagance will always be found. Those of you that have Leo's in your life are aware that there can never be too much opulence or indulgence when it comes to a celebration..... which brings to the second spectacular wine that we had with this meal 1998 Dalla Valle. www.dallavallevineyards.com This is a small family owned winery that was established in 1986 in the eastern hills of Oakville. The area has excellent sun exposure and cool marine breezes that is the perfect environment for growing some of best cabernet grapes in CA. The 1998 Dalla Valle is a mostly cabernet with a small amount of cabernet franc and aged in 50% to 60% new french oak barrels. This was a cool vintage which did not deliver the intensity of fruit as other vintages of the decade but I barely noticed it with this wine. There was an aroma of black currants on the nose and tobacco and cassis on the palate. It was the perfect wine to serve to my friends that only drink wines from Bordeaux. I loved it!

06 April, 2013

Cornology - new on Bay St

Ok so now Emeryville officially has everything you need for epic movie snack smuggling. We have long had Tea Cake for cupcakes, Sugar for candy (yes Target too if you are street like me) and Jodi Moroni for hot dogs.

Two weeks ago Cornology opened with their delightful popcorn cones. Using family recipes and techniques,  they are serving classics like Cheddar but also interesting savories like Truffle Parmesan. Maybe not as decadent as my recipe but neater and easier to carry. Their sweet corn is a riff on kettle corn using light sugar, while the Logemann's Caramel has the enticing lure of brown sugar.Two cones for $5.95? Perfect for sneaking into the movies! Now your dentist has likely warned you of the dangers of stray kernels. Whatever! Fling caution to the wind to try this tasty treat!  Of course it pairs perfectly with our favorite movie bootleg treat, Sofia Minis in a can And of course our Emeryville Bevmo has got you covered.  At $15.99 for four, less than popcorn at the theater!  Just kidding AMC Bay Street, we love you.
5645 Bay Street

05 April, 2013

Vinho Verde Sangria: A refreshing Spring treat #VinhoVerde

This Easter our friend Jaime threw down a fun challenge: Create your own Easter Bonnet. You can see below, though my handmade cookie flowered bonnet won in two categories ( tallest and best handmade) Ashley and Marina tied the popular vote. [note to self: give out cookie samples before the voting!]

Having spent a lot of time constructing, I didn't want to slack on the libations. But who had the time?

Vinho Verde to the rescue!

I had a sample of the lovely  Famega Vinho Verde and a Vinho Verde sangria recipe to riff on
I could have taken another prize for best punch!
You can too It's easy:

1 bottle Vinho Verde
1 can (2 cups) ginger ale
1/2 cup Gran Marnier
1 orange thinly sliced

Mix all together in pretty pitcher.

Caves de Cerca is the producer on this.  Made from Avesso, Azal and Pederna it will help you get to your Century Club, if you are tracking that.  [Just don't count Pederna twice as its "club" name is Arinto when it jumps down south to the Bucelas region - different kind of club of course]  Before making the sangria, the wine has a light, citrusy flavor and a hint of spritz.  At only 9.5% alcohol, it fosters relaxtion.

So, sit back and relax. Really relax. You can find this for $7.99 at Weimax Wines and Spirits in Burlingame Maybe stash a couple of bottles to enjoy this gingery, citrusy treat more often?

I received this as a sample



Chicken dinner!  But the handmade category prize was a lovely wine. Booya!