Archived entries for Dessert Wine

All for the Love of the Goose and Gourmet: A Prelude to Joining the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotissuers

Clay Cockrell, Bailli Dallas; Tom Dees, Chevalier; and Oscar Winston Durham, Chevalier

It all began in 1248 with a decree from King Louis IX and a passion for roasted goose.  When you are a king and you want your fowl roasted in a certain way, the smart move is to order the establishment of several professional guilds including the “Ayeurs” or goose roasters.  During the reign of Louis XII, the guild’s domain expanded to the preparation of other meats and the name was changed to “Rotissuers.”  In 1789, the organization went into dormancy when the guild system was dissolved during the French Revolution.  The charter was then re-established in 1950 and changed from goose roasting to  encouraging gastronomy and wines.

Fast forward to today and Chaine des Rotisseurs is the oldest and largest food society in the world with 23,000 members in 70 countries.  It has been active in the US for 54 years and has more than 6,000 gourmands in its membership.  After my Coquerel Wine dinner several weeks ago, Clay and Brenda Cockrell were gracious enough to ask me to attend a Chaine des Rotisseurs induction ceremony at the Mansion on Turtle Creek.

Self admittedly, I was a little nervous.  If you’ve been following me, you know that I have no official wine designation or certification.  It’s just a passion and my experience has been sip by sip, region by region. And, these two really know their wine.  When you get an invitation to drink great wine, eat amazing food, dress in black tie and you are designated to “wear your ribbons”, that is intimidating.

That is until I got there.  What a fun group of interesting food and wine loving people of all ages.  Clay is one of the organization’s leaders or Dallas’ Bailli and the new Bailli Provincial Bill Salomon of San Antonio led the ceremony.  The toast of the night was “Viva la Chaine” and the mood was celebratory. 

And the dinner … and the wine.  Definitely some favorite wines and an amazing dinner to go with it.  Here’s what they served:

Our first course was hot smoked salmon belly, horseradish, green apple and salmon roe with a 2011 Domaine Patrick Javillier Mersault Clos du Cromin.  This was my favorite pairing of the evening.  

We moved to a braised sweetbread ravioli with chestnut puree and warm shallot vinaigrette with a 2010 Chateau Paveil de Luze Margaux.

Our third course was a bison tenderloin with confit baby carrot, bacon jam and a bordelaise sauce served with my favorite red of the night – the 2010 La Cour Des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape.

Next up was the artisanal cheeses with a dark cherry compote and country bread served with a 2009 Fratelli Zeni Amarone.

Our grand finale was a 2006 Chateau Suau Sauternes with a hibiscus poached apple, honey granola and green apple sorbet. 

The conversation was fun … and engaging.  The topics surprised me.  I did find out that come next year’s induction, if the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotissuers will have me, they will have a new and enthusiastic member.


Refugio Ranch: A Haven of Calm After the #WBC14 Storm

When Jeff Butler, the director of sales for Refugio Ranch Vineyards in Los Olivos, reached out with a wonderful invitation to experience his special vineyard, he didn’t flinch when the invitation for one grew to an invitation for ten.  If you’ve been following the adventures of the QBP during #wbc14, you’ve realized that we are loud and proud, love wine and long for the ‘off the beaten path’ experiences that are not replicated with larger conferences.

“The more the merrier,” he said – probably not quite realizing what was in store.  We met at the tasting room and tried the 2013 Aqua Dolce de Refugio on the patio.  The wine, which was made of Malvasia Bianca, was very refreshing with notes of honey, orange blossoms, white flowers and nectarines. 

We loaded up the cars and coolers and headed to the winery, where we promptly lost Thea Dwelle, who joined us with her carload of folks a few minutes later.  The winery, which is on private property and not open to the public, is a sanctuary. Imagine flowers everywhere you look, beautiful vineyards, an inviting front porch, a fantastic host and the wines, oh the wines.

Refugio Ranch was originally part of one of the original Spanish land grants.  The Gleason family discovered the property, which was a cattle ranch for several hundred years, in 2005.  They brought in Daniel Roberts from Napa who analyzed the soils and microclimate to discover the winery was ideal to grow Rhone and Sauvignon Blanc wines.

 We tried the following line-up:

  •  2011 Sauvignon Blanc – a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon with notes of peach, apple pie, citrus, minerality and almonds.  This was a great wine.
  • 2011 Tiradora – a very different version of the same grape with lots of lime, stone, pear, citrus and herbs.  Loved this one too.
  • 2010/2011 Ineseno – a Rhone blend of Rousanne and Viognier with lots of depth.  This was made in a white Bordeaux style – I tasted brown butter caramel, tropical fruits, orange and dried fruits.  I liked them both, but ordered several bottles of the 2011.
  • 2012 Viognier – white jasmine, peach, nectarine, honeysuckle and dried fruit were the primary flavors that I tasted.  Another delicious, complex wine.
  • 2011 Escondrijo – this was a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Petite Syrah with notes of raspberry, cherry, licorice, black tea and spice. Yum.
  • 2010 Barbareno – a blend of Syrah and petite sirah with floral, cherry, mocha and spice.  Great depth and layers in this wine. 
  • 2010 Nectar de Refugio – a honeyed, complex dessert wine that was a wonderful end to a wonderful day.

 

Interesting fact – in spite of a drought over the last three years, the region and vineyard is on target for another great harvest year and no one can explain why.  The climate is unique – Jeff talked about letting the wine “hang out.”  It takes patience, perseverance and confidence, he said, to let the wines do what they do.  And as the former winemaker for Star Ranch, he has quite the resume to understand the entire sales/marketing function and how to uniquely position the value proposition of Refugio Ranch.  As a marketing person, I have to say the tasting notes just rocked as he described the wines in detail as well as the perfect dish to go with every wine.

 

He talked a lot about terroir or a sense of place, which connects wine to the land.  We had a soulful experience with good friends, great wine, tasty food, a few chickens and a very special vineyard.


Winebow and Wilson Daniels Wine Portfolio Tours: A Taste of Heaven

Recently I had the opportunity to attend two portfolio tastings that swung through Dallas.  For those of you who haven’t had the chance to attend a portfolio tasting; it’s designed to showcase the wines imported and distributed by the company sponsoring the event.  It is a bit of a “kid in a candy store” experience, with wine buyers, restaurants, sommeliers and other industry wine people together in one place at the same time. 

Winebow was the first to come through town with the Vini d’Italia Tour 2014.  With this tour there was an opportunity to spend a brief period of time with one of my favorite wine people and friends, Melissa Sutherland Amado.  The tour focused on the Northern, Central and Southern regions of Italy and with 35 wineries they brought an array of wines.   

Melissa brought me through a variety of Italian wines.  I enjoyed them all – it was a diverse and interesting snapshot into “off the beaten path” Italian wines.  My favorites included:

  • Valdipiatta (Toscana) Vino Nobile Di Montulciano DOCG – this was 95 percent Sangiovese and 5 percent Canaiolo Nero.  It was elegant and delicious.
  • Giuseppe Cortese (Piemonte) Barbaresco Rabaja Riserva DOCG – this was earthy, rich and fabulous.  I really enjoyed this wine and would love to see what develops in the bottle over time.
  • Tenuta di Fessina (Sicilia) Erse Etna Rossa DOC – grown in volcanic rock, this was a mix of herbs, flowers, oak and black fruit.  I loved it – so different.
  • Altesino (Toscana) Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG – made from 100 percent estate grown grapes, this wine was truly the crème de la crème of the region.  It was stunning.

The next portfolio tasting came from the Wilson Daniels, a company known for its collection of luxury wines and spirits.  When I say luxury, I mean luxury.  Approximately 32 wineries and spirit companies attended and attendees were given several tickets that I soon realized the value of as I walked the floor.  The first ticket entitled us to a generous taste of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Echezeaux, one of the Grand Cru burgundies.  

I quickly learned to hold my other tickets close to the vest as the second one brought me to Domaine Leflaive where I tried the 2009 Puligny-Montrachet.  Whoa.   There I had a great conversation with the rep at the table who guided me toward a small winery purchased by Anne-Claude Leflaive and Christian Jacques in 2008.  Clau de Nell made some great estate wines that are biodynamic.  I had never tried Grolleau, a native Loire Valley wine that I loved.  Seek it out if you can find it.

My final ticket gave me access to the Royal Tokaji portfolio where I was lucky enough to sit down with Ben Howkins, author of Tokaji, “A Classic – Lost & Found” and the co-founder of Royal Tokaji and the Tokaji Renaissance.  He personally tasted me through 10 wines in the portfolio including still and dessert wines that ended up with a spoonful (yes, usually a mother of pearl spoon, but not at a portfolio tasting) of the 1991 Tokaj Betsek, proof that God loves wine.

This was a great week to be a wine blogger – I must say.  The good news is that these importers understand that Dallas wine drinkers expect to have access to great wines – and they are answering the call.

 


A Conversation with Adrian Bridge: Climbing Mountains, the Art of PINK and Why Americans Should Drink Port Differently

Adrian Bridge Enjoying A Glass of Croft PINK After His Mountain Summit, Photo Credit to Taylor Fladgate

Adrian Bridge, the CEO of The Fladgate Partnership, the portfolio company of Taylor Fladgate, Fonseca and Croft Ports as well as the Yeatman Hotel, a luxury wine lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal, came through Dallas last week to evangelize why a port-only company is taking the international wine community by storm. 

You can say that Adrian married into the port industry.  He met his now-wife Natasha, daughter of Taylor Fladgate Chairman Alistair Robertson, and became involved in the business in 1994 when he and Natasha moved to Portugal and he took over the company’s Port brands in the United Kingdom and United States.  In 2001, he purchased Croft Port and Delaforce Port from Diageo.

But while this is a multi-generation family business spanning more than 300 years, Bridge has found a way to be innovative in a very traditional industry.  In February of 2008, he decided to make Croft PINK, a rosé port, when he challenged his wine making team to try different colors to make an easy drinking port that could be used in cocktails, for aperitifs or even with dinner.  But, there was a problem – port legally had to be red or white. When he applied to get the port designation, he was told that he literally needed an act of Parliament to change the rules since port couldn’t be pink.  The astute marketer and businessman decided that he’d launch under the brand name of Croft with PINK as the designation.  He launched the port in July of 2009 with a different approach to the market – targeting mixologists to attract new consumers drinking port in different ways.  He believes that discovering Portugal requires a historical review of the food, wine and architecture, which Fladgate brings together through its luxury property, architecture, food and wine. 

Interestingly enough, port has continued to grow since the 90’s when the cigar boom increased American’s interest in drinking port.  While people are smoking less today, ports have experienced steady growth since then and Adrian believes, “the pendulum is back to port, especially with the highly regarded 2011 vintage which received kudos from wine critics everywhere.”

The Renaissance man is also an avid athlete and mountain climber who is known to celebrate a grueling mountain climb with a glass of port at the summit.

We started with a meat lover’s paradise at Texas de Brazil and Adrian opened the Croft PINK, a very easy drinking aperitif with a port spin on the raspberry and strawberry notes of traditional rose.  We moved to the 2005 Taylor Fladgate Classic Vintage Porto that had notes of fig, chocolate and dried fruit. 

The highlight of the evening was opening the 20 year Taylor Fladgate Tawny Port, which blew me away with its notes of dates, dried fig, honey, hazelnut and apricot.   


Angove Family Winemakers: 127 Years of Family, Legacy and Australian Heritage

I heard from my PR contacts at Trinchero Family Estates, who have been working in partnership with Angove Family Winemakers, that Tim Boydell, their senior vice president, was making a visit to Dallas and had a great story to tell me about their history and their wines.

Tim Boydell was brought on several years ago to help the winery manage change.  That’s tough at a winery that has been part of the family business for 127 years and is currently on its fifth generation, but with Australia’s renewed focus on quality wines, biodynamic processes and expanding its reputation for world-class wine, the family knew it needed to invest to grow.  Tim chuckles at the time he provided John Angove, the Chairman, with his strategic plan for the winery which involved writing a check “with many zeros.”

First, a bit of history about the Winery’s Founder William T. Angove, MD, who came from Cornwall, England to Adelaide in 1886.  Like most doctors of his time, wine was used for medicinal purposes and he developed a vineyard.  Like many, his hobby became his passion and he started making wine full time after he closed his practice a year later.

Today Angove is a major player in Australia.  It provides about 1 million cases of wines per year, which includes 14 different labels.  It is the eighth largest Australian winery and exports half of its production to more than 40 countries.  The Angove shield depicts the family interests of mining and winemaking.

 

We tried a number of wines that showcased why Australian wines have been scored so highly over the last year or two.  Here was the line-up:

  • 2010 Angove Warboys Vineyard Range – an elegant mix of licorice, berry and spice with lots of fruit and finesse
  • 2010 The Medhyk – this is the Angove’s approach to a flagship wine.  Lots of chocolate, spice, black fruit and terrior.  I loved this wine.
  • 2008 Coonawara Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyard Selection — all fruit up front.  Meat in a glass, screams for food, blackberry, cassis, mocha and oak.
  • 2012 Dr Angove “The Recipe” – red blend that was made specifically for the US market that was based on the wines he used to make in England.  Very juicy with mocha and cedar.
  • 2012 Nine Vines Moscato – oldest grapes in Australia which result in a wonderful dessert wine with hints of orange blossom, honeysuckle and apricot.

Unfortunately because the Four Seasons appeared to have no understanding of Friday Dallas traffic from Las Colinas to the West Village, we had to cut our visit short.  But, based on the Australian hospitality and the quality of the wines that I tried that day, I was glad to find out Texas is the number one US market for Angove Wines.  I look forward to watching what comes from Angove Family Winemakers.

 


Scotto Wines: Fifty Years of Family and New Eye Toward Legacy Wines

When I was contacted by the “biggest winery that I’ve never heard of” last month, it peaked my interest.  I missed Anthony Scotto III, the CEO of Scotto wines, when he was in Dallas last month, so when the winery offered to have Bill Chenault, the national sales manager for Scotto pour the wines for me, I accepted.

Totally unrelated, but interesting. Bill spent some time in Atlanta, where I grew up, and sent his two daughters to Auburn University, where I received my undergraduate degree.  It was an unexpected bonus.

As someone with an Italian heritage, I loved hearing about another successful Italian American dream story. Salvatore Dominic Scotto started a winery in Ischia, Italy, in 1883.  In 1903, the family emigrated from Italy and settled in Brooklyn, NY.

They opened Scotto Liquors, one of the oldest liquor stores in the state of New York, which has since been sold, but is still in business.  The Scotto’s made wine in their home from whatever fruit they could source in Brooklyn and similar to the Gallo family, sold it door to door out of crocks from a horse drawn wagon.  In 1961, they bought a facility in Pleasanton, California, that they named Villa Armando, where they began making their own wine. They created Villa Armando Rustico, one of the oldest US wine brands.  I tried it and appreciated that this was the type of mass production wine that allowed them to build a family business with overall capacity of more than 300,000 cases annually.

They sold this facility in the 1980s and expanded the Scotto portfolio into Lodi and Napa.  Five generations later, they have expanded the scope of their wines to include more than 40 brands sold to customers around the world.  I was honored to try an unlabeled limited-edition, higher-end Napa wine from the Van Der Hayden Vineyard in honor of the Scotto’s family’s 50th California harvest that I thought was fantastic.  The 50 Harvests Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Napa Valley is a small production wine that will change your image from a mass producer of wine to a winery that takes winemaking to another level.  It’s a blend of 94 percent cabernet sauvignon and 6 percent petite verdot.  The Scotto children rightfully knew that while the value labels are important, this unlabeled bottle would be the one to put them on the map in the wine world.

I tried a few other wines that were made to be fruit forward, drinkable and enjoyed every day.  The first was Scotto Family Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel made with Lodi fruit.  This had a nice spice, lots of red and black fruit and notes of cedar.

The next was the NAPA by N.A.P.A Michael’s Red, the first Napa release from the Scotto family.  The name represents the five siblings: Natalie, Anthony, Paul, Anne (NAPA) and Michael who recently joined the winery. This is a very drinkable every day wine with dark fruit, oak and notes of chocolate and mocha.  Look for it at Cost Plus World Market stores, who pretty much took most of the inventory produced.

We ended with a Moscato wine that was semi-dry, honey-touched and the perfect aperitif to a great meal and conversation at Max’s Wine Dive.


Sonoma in the City Storms Through Dallas: A Glimpse at a Special Region (Part One)

Right on the heels of my Napa trip, the Sonoma in the City gang came to town with a week chockful of events that put a spotlight on the region.  These guys rolled out the carpet with a series of lunches, happy hours, tastings and dinners that demonstrated the diversity of the region by showcasing the grape growers, wine makers and tourism executives that believe Sonoma is the “real” wine country in California.

Melissa and Kathryn

My experience started with a meeting with two powerhouse women from J Vineyards & Winery, Kathryn Lindstrom, chief operating officer, and Melissa Stackhouse, vice president of winemaking, at Abacus Restaurant.  Since I had just stayed at Jordan Winery the week prior, I knew that Judy Jordan founded J Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg in 1986 with a concentration on J sparkling wines as well as J varietal wines including Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.  The grapes are grown using sustainable farming techniques and J is considered a “green winery” by the San Francisco Bay Area Green Business Program as well as a “sustainable winery” through the California Winegrowers Alliance.

Kathryn talked about her transition from the finance industry to luxury wine and how she made the decision at 45 to make a big change into an industry that she loved.  Melissa talked about the collaboration that happens in her wine making team of three with a focus on the integrity of the grapes and bringing the fruit into the glass.  She views her team’s role to “allow the wines to find their own happy place” and interfering minimally.

We tried several wines in our tasting line up:

-          2011 Pinot Gris – this was a refreshing and tropical wine that will be available in May of 2012.  It will be joining my collection.

-          2011 Pinot Noir – lots of black cherry, elegance, herb and black pepper.  Delicious.

-          2010 Nicole’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – this wine is named for Judy Jordan’s daughter and had notes of plum, licorice, cherry and vanilla.

-          2011 Pinot Meunier – notes of cassis, cherry, mocha and floral.  I love off the beaten path wines and this one did not disappoint.  This is made with the remainder of the Pinot Meunier that is not used in the sparkling wines.

-           NV Cuvee 20 Brut – hints of toast, yeastiness, apricot, citrus and nuttiness.  This was a great sparkling wine.

As a female executive in another industry, I love to meet women that have risen to the top and defied the odds in a male dominated space.  My hat is off to the ladies at J Vineyards who are doing the right thing by the grapes, the vineyard and the environment.

I left the J Vineyards event and heading to Charlie Palmer Restaurant for a dinner sponsored by Dry Creek Valley, which featured Tim Bell, winemaker for Dry Creek Vineyard, and Mauritson Wines owner/winemaker Clay Mauritson, and his brother, Cameron, who grows the grapes.

  Bill Smart, director of marketing for Dry Creek Vineyards, and Clay from Mauritson

Dry Creek is known for its Zinfandel, Bordeaux and Rhone-style wines and is located right outside of Healdsburg.  What was evident is that this is a place of family, with some vineyards dating back more than 100 years.

The Mauritson family has the longest history of any current grape growers in Rockpile, a cornerstone appellation of Sonoma County.  Clay Mauritson’s great-great-great-grandfather S.P. Hall, planted grapes in the Rockpile region in 1884, shipping his wine back to Sweden where his family lived.  Much of this original estate was taken by the Army Corps of Engineers in the early 1960s and is now Lake Sonoma.

Clay, a sixth-generation member of the family, is making wines again from Rockpile grapes, which are grown by his brother.  Rockpile is a very unique appellation located at the Northwest edge of Dry Creek Valley where two appellations overlap and the Healdsburg-Rogers Creek Fault, a dominant earthquake fault, runs through the middle of the horseshoe shaped base.  Picture steep slopes and rocky terrain above Lake Sonoma that are elevated between 800-2000 feet.

I also had the chance to talk to Tim Bell, the winemaker for Dry Creek Vineyards, which is a 40 year old grape grower and winemaking business.  Founder David Stare started the business with the goal of creating great wines at a reasonable price.  That vision hasn’t changed.   Tim, also worked at Freemark Abbey Winery, Bosché and Kunde Family Estate, where he became an expert in using different grape varieties and working in various climates.  When he was called to interview at Dry Creek, he had never traveled that far north.  But when he talked to Kim and Don Wallace, president and partner respectively, he realized he wanted to realize their vision for what the winery could be and knew he’d be entering a new level of collaboration he had never experienced.  Today, he continues in his quest to showcase the grapes and terrior in Dry Creek Vineyards wine.

Barely Cooked Scottish Salmon, Grilled Octopus, Lobster Corn Dog & Striped Bass Crudo

Roasted Duck Breast with Chipolte Glaze, Creamed Nettles, Compressed Persimmon

We had an amazing array of great food pairings created by Chef Michael Sindoni who matched with wines from Dry Creek and Mauritson as well as some other Sonoma producers.

Some of my personal favorites were:

-          2012 Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc – bursting with melon, tropical fruit and citrus with a minerality that made this a great food pairing wine.

-          2011 Mauritson Sauvignon Blanc – full of grapefruit and peach with a balanced minerality that was more austere in nature.  Another great food wine.

-          2009 Dry Creek Vineyard “The Mariner” – a meritage blend that had lots of black cherry fruit, herbs, blackberry, vanilla and mocha.

-          2010 Rockpile Winery Cabernet Sauvignon – Rockpile grows more cabernet sauvignon than any other regions and is full of concentrated fruit with notes of tobacco, blackberry, cassis and cedar.

-          2008 Forchini Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon –notes of chocolate, cherry, Asian spice and mocha.  This made the dry aged NY strip with bone marrow breadcrumbs sing!

-          2010 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel – this was one of my favorites with lots of black pepper, cherry, blackberry, herbs and floral notes.

-          2011 Mauritson Zinfandel – juicy raspberry, vanilla and notes of spice made this a very well balanced, almost feminine wine.

-          2007 Dry Creek Vineyard Soleil – apricot, honey, citrus and vanilla.  This was the quintessential dessert wine.  Delightful!

-          2010 Rockpile Winery Independence Red – a port like wine with big fruit, nutmeg and notes of tobacco.  Perfect match with the cheese plate served for dessert.

I asked about why Dry Creek Valley was doing this tour and it’s all about awareness.  Clay said, “when you are off the beaten path, you have to convince consumers that this is a destination point that is a little less Disneyland and a little more about the wine experience.  Even within Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley has 70 family owned and operated wineries.”

Tim added, “It’s all about a small production, hand crafted agricultural community with lots of pride, blood, sweat and tears to bring these great wines to the consumer.”


Super Bowl: Santorini Style

 

It was time for the Super Bowl game and we were invited to a friend’s house for an impromptu get together.  It was a sunny day with weather in the 60’s, I knew we’d have some rich snacks, and since I am never one to follow the beaten path, I grabbed some sample wines from Santorini.  These wines impressed me when I tried them at the Wine Bloggers Conference (#wbc12) in Portland and I was ready to give them the focus that they deserved.

It’s funny how things come full circle. I’m asked often about my favorite wine experience ever.  Mine happened to come while I was in Greece before I knew anything about wine.  My husband had just received his MBA and we hadn’t seen much of each other while he was in school.  We decided that we would take a vacation that we couldn’t afford and visited Turkey and then some of the Greek Islands.  One day we were on Santorini with our trusted Foder’s book in tow.  Most of the restaurants that had four stars had price tags that matched the number of stars given, except for one which had the single “$” sign next to it.  We soon found ourselves in a courtyard with a Greek family who served us fresh fish, Greek salad, hummus and the most wonderful crisp and dry wine that I’ve ever had.  It was amazing and still tops my list of wine/food experiences.

Santorini, while also an island, is a Greek wine region located in the southern Cyclades Islands of the Aegean Sea.  The wines became famous because of the Assyrtiko wines, the island’s flagship grape, commonly referred to as a “white grape in red’s clothing” because of the full-bodied and age-worthy wines produced.

We tried several wines including:

  • Domaine Sigalas, Assyrtiko White 2011 – a delightful white with minerality and notes of citrus.  This was definitely a crowd favorite and one that I will seek out in the future. As it opened, I liked it more and more.
  • Santorini Nykteri 2010 – Nykteri means “working the night away” in Greek as it was traditionally harvested at night due to the hot temperatures.  I tasted citrus, nuttiness, pear and notes of flowers.  This wine begged for food that would stand up to its finish.  Our salty snacks didn’t do it justice.
  • Vin Santo Boutari 06 – this is a sweet wine produced from sun-dried grapes. I tasted maple, dried raisins, caramel and honey.  I immediately craved Baklava.

These wines not only were drinkable today, but have the ability to age.  Based on this experience, I’m going to invest in a few bottles and see what happens in the next decade.  Or on second thought, maybe I’ll drink them today.

 


Home for the Holidays: Food, Wine, Family & Memories

Food, wine and fellowship have always been a mainstay of our holiday celebrations.  With the recent passing of my great aunt Stella, who died right before Christmas, it was a poignant reminder to appreciate those that we love.

Stella Urusky, on the bottom row on the lefthand side in the black.  Don’t be a hater about the hair or dress.  It was 1994.

Stella actually inspired the entire premise of Dallas Wine Chick.  Stella’s favorite wine was pink, fizzy, made up of chemicals and usually under $5.  I got on a self absorbed mission to “teach her” about “good wine.”  So, for a year I opened the best white wines that I had in my collection – white burgundies, chardonnays, sauvignon blancs, pinot blancs, alsaces and albarinos with the conviction that I could change her mind.  A big life lesson for me is that I couldn’t.  She hated them all and just wanted what she wanted.  So, the concept that wine snobbery shouldn’t be forced on anyone and people should drink what they like was solidified in my mind.

She also taught me about compassion, the value of family, taking care of unwanted animals and speaking my mind.

So we gathered at my parent’s house as the snow fell and ate more food than we should, had more wine than we should and told the same family stories that I’ve grown up hearing.  It was especially poignant that my cousin, Patrick, a F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot, was finally back home after his year-long tour on the USS Enterprise.

The USS Enterprise was on its final voyage after 50 years of service and it is the longest serving aircraft carrier in the US fleet.  It was the world’s first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, Top Gun was filmed on this ship, it acted as a spotter ship for John Glenn’s historic orbit of Earth, played an important role in the Cuban missile crisis and in Somali pirate engagement.  As the oldest ship in the Navy, the motto is: “There is pain and there is Enterprise pain”…

We also got to hang out with my other cousin, Jeff, and his fiancé AJ, who we are eagerly ready to welcome to the family when they marry in California in the future.

With all of that as our backdrop, we tried several wines from Yarden in the Golan Heights; Elyse Winery in Napa and a Terrazas from Argentina.

We started with the wines from Yarden Wines of Israel.  You may remember that I was impressed last November when I had the opportunity to experience my first wines from the region.  I can speak for the rest of my family in saying that these wines exceeded everyone’s expectations.

The Golan Heights Winery was founded in 1983 and is based in Katzrin.  The winery is known for its use of technology and the advances it has made for wines produced in this region.  The region has extreme temperatures and elevation changes combined with volcanic soils.

Yarden Mount Herman White 2011

This was the favorite white of the group.  Big notes of citrus, peach, floral and minerality made this a great match with the food.

Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Lots of cherry, blackberry and stone fruit with notes of earthiness, tobacco and oak made this a very memorable wine and one that I will seek out in the future.

Yarden T2

This dessert wine which was made of two Portuguese grapes and fortified with brandy was a very nice dessert wine, but the $50 price tag made it a bit bittersweet.

We then switched over to Elyse.  I’ve long been a fan of Elyse Winery wines and these did not disappoint.

Elyse 2010 Petite Sirah

Lots of dark berry fruit, floral and spice.  I loved the finish with its notes of chocolate, mocha and oaky flavor.  This was a rich and yummy wine.

Elyse 2007 Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Also inky black with lots of stone fruit and blackberry flavors with nice spice and cedar.   This was a very well balanced and elegant wine.

Elyse 2008 Morisoli Vineyard Zinfandel

This is the vineyard where it all began and the wine that launched Elyse into 25 years of success.  Lots of juicy fruit, earthiness and spiciness make this Zinfandel memorable.

We also tried a Terrazas 2011 Reserva Torrontes, which tasted of green apple, flowers and orange blossom.  A nice, dependable, food-friendly wine that matched holiday food very well.

I hope your holiday season was filled with memories of family and friends that will last long beyond the chaos and will create smiles for years to come.


Home for the Holidays: Food, Wine, Family & Memories

Food, wine and fellowship have always been a mainstay of our holiday celebrations.  With the recent passing of my great aunt Stella, who died right before Christmas, it was a poignant reminder to appreciate those that we love.

Stella Urusky, on the bottom row on the lefthand side in the black.  Don’t be a hater about the hair or dress.  It was 1994.

Stella actually inspired the entire premise of Dallas Wine Chick.  Stella’s favorite wine was pink, fizzy, made up of chemicals and usually under $5.  I got on a self absorbed mission to “teach her” about “good wine.”  So, for a year I opened the best white wines that I had in my collection – white burgundies, chardonnays, sauvignon blancs, pinot blancs, alsaces and albarinos with the conviction that I could change her mind.  A big life lesson for me is that I couldn’t.  She hated them all and just wanted what she wanted.  So, the concept that wine snobbery shouldn’t be forced on anyone and people should drink what they like was solidified in my mind.

She also taught me about compassion, the value of family, taking care of unwanted animals and speaking my mind.  

So we gathered at my parent’s house as the snow fell and ate more food than we should, had more wine than we should and told the same family stories that I’ve grown up hearing.  It was especially poignant that my cousin, Patrick, a F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot, was finally back home after his year-long tour on the USS Enterprise.   

The USS Enterprise was on its final voyage after 50 years of service and it is the longest serving aircraft carrier in the US fleet.  It was the world’s first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, Top Gun was filmed on this ship, it acted as a spotter ship for John Glenn’s historic orbit of Earth, played an important role in the Cuban missile crisis and in Somali pirate engagement.  As the oldest ship in the Navy, the motto is: “There is pain and there is Enterprise pain”…

We also got to hang out with my other cousin, Jeff, and his fiancé AJ, who we are eagerly ready to welcome to the family when they marry in California in the future. 

With all of that as our backdrop, we tried several wines from Yarden in the Golan Heights; Elyse Winery in Napa and a Terrazas from Argentina. 

We started with the wines from Yarden Wines of Israel.  You may remember that I was impressed last November when I had the opportunity to experience my first wines from the region.  I can speak for the rest of my family in saying that these wines exceeded everyone’s expectations.

The Golan Heights Winery was founded in 1983 and is based in Katzrin.  The winery is known for its use of technology and the advances it has made for wines produced in this region.  The region has extreme temperatures and elevation changes combined with volcanic soils.

Yarden Mount Herman White 2011

This was the favorite white of the group.  Big notes of citrus, peach, floral and minerality made this a great match with the food.

Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Lots of cherry, blackberry and stone fruit with notes of earthiness, tobacco and oak made this a very memorable wine and one that I will seek out in the future.

Yarden T2

This dessert wine which was made of two Portuguese grapes and fortified with brandy was a very nice dessert wine, but the $50 price tag made it a bit bittersweet.

We then switched over to Elyse.  I’ve long been a fan of Elyse Winery wines and these did not disappoint.  

Elyse 2010 Petite Sirah

Lots of dark berry fruit, floral and spice.  I loved the finish with its notes of chocolate, mocha and oaky flavor.  This was a rich and yummy wine.

Elyse 2007 Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Also inky black with lots of stone fruit and blackberry flavors with nice spice and cedar.   This was a very well balanced and elegant wine.

Elyse 2008 Morisoli Vineyard Zinfandel

This is the vineyard where it all began and the wine that launched Elyse into 25 years of success.  Lots of juicy fruit, earthiness and spiciness make this Zinfandel memorable.

We also tried a Terrazas 2011 Reserva Torrontes, which tasted of green apple, flowers and orange blossom.  A nice, dependable, food-friendly wine that matched holiday food very well.

I hope your holiday season was filled with memories of family and friends that will last long beyond the chaos and will create smiles for years to come.  




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