Archived entries for Syrah/Shiraz

Malai Kitchen: Off the Beaten Path Wines and Rockin’ Asian Food

I was an invited guest of Malai Kitchen, the Southeastern Asian cuisine restaurant owned by Yasmin and Braden Wages, for a food/wine pairing showcasing their off the beaten path wine list.  I visited the Thursday evening prior to “Icemaggeden.” 

The restaurant is located in Uptown and the concept was inspired by the Wages’ travels to Thailand and Vietnam and their love for the cuisine.  Braden serves as the executive chef and Yasmin manages the front of the house as well as the wine and beverage program. 

In the spirit of full disclosure, I love this style of food and while the cocktail and beer lists look great, I encourage you to try their wine list.   The Wages have put so much time into putting together a well thought through, approachable and unique wine list.  Many of the wines that I tried were ones not familiar to me and the ones that I have tried before were on my favorite list.  Malai offers 20 wines by the glass and they are great values. 

We tried two dishes and started with two wines per dish, but quickly Braden and Yasmin began pulling out others that I just had to try.  Their enthusiasm and passion for food and wine was contagious and I loved spending time with this delightful couple.  

We paired the ahi tuna spring rolls with the Rodez “Cuvee des Crayeres” Ambonnay Grand Cru champagne from France.  At $45 for the bottle (yes, at a restaurant – grand cru champagne at $45 a bottle)…, I got fresh baked bread, floral notes, minerality, pear and apple.  It went really well with the spring rolls, which were fantastic.  Our next wine was the 2012 Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal at $7 for the glass or $26 for the bottle.  With a slight effervescence to it, I tasted notes of lemon and apple.  Another great match. 

The next course of Thai coconut soup was paired with a 2008 Domaine Laru Murgers des Dents de Chien, Saint-Aubin Premier Cru at $11 a glass or $42 for the bottle. The acidity and depth of this wine worked perfectly with the soup.  The second wine was the 2007 Pinot Noir Domaine Jean-Michel Guillon Les Crais (Gevrey-Chambertin, France), which was priced at $12 for the glass, $46 for the bottle.  This was a pairing that I never would have considered but it rocked.  Big notes of cherry, earth and spice worked perfectly. 

Yasmin and Braden wanted to share the 2010 Domaine de Nalys Chateaneuf-du-Pape at $38 for a half bottle.  I got lavender, pepper, rose, cherry and spice.  I wish more Dallas restaurants offered half bottles so you can better pair the dishes with the wine.  Malai has this as well as a 2003 Sawyer Merlot half bottle at $25. 

Our final course was an Australian lamb shank with Massaman curry which was a great match with the lamb. We then moved to one of my favorite Syrah’s from the New World, the 2005 Longoria Clover Creek Vineyard Syrah, at $10 a glass and $38 a bottle.  Lots of wild cherry, berry, plum and oak in this wine and it rocked the lamb.  You can’t find this wine easily in Dallas – come and drink it before I do.  Our final wine was the 2006 Chateau Compassant Bordeaux at $10 a glass or $38 for the bottle. I definitely preferred the Syrah with the lamb, but they both worked. 

Thankfully, Dallasites are moving beyond the safe choices and trying the adventurous wines with happy outcomes.  And with a 4-7 happy hour with $6 wines, cocktails and a happy hour appetizer menu from Monday to Friday and all day on Sunday, you have every reason in the world to try Malai Kitchen.  I have already returned with my husband and kiddo and all signs point to us becoming one of the many regulars who rely upon the Wages’ hospitality.


Hardy Wines and Accolade Wine Group: A Match Made in Heaven

Australian wines hit America right around the time I started to drink wine with a cork and figured out that I could afford to buy a case of Lindeman’s.  About 1.6 million cases were imported in 1995.  Today the Australian wine industry is the world’s fourth largest exporter of wine with 750 million liters a year.

I credit Australian wine with beginning my long love affair with the grape.  However, along the way what was shipped in by the large wine makers began to lose its luster.  Smaller production companies were acquired and some of the brands languished.  Luckily, that course is starting to correct.

With the acquisition of Hardy Wines by Accolade Wine Group about 15 months ago, there is a renewed focus on bringing the Nottage Hill and William Hill brands back to the US market.   Paul Lapsley, group chief winemaker for the Hardy portfolio wines, came through Dallas to talk and taste about the wines in his portfolio.  Lapsley’s been making wines for more than 30 years and has worked at some of the top wineries in Australia after doing several months in Burgundy.  Hardy Wines have been made since the late 1870s and are one of the long-time family wine making legacies.

We tried the following wines and they were some of the best value wines I’ve tried in a long time:

  • Nottage Hill Chardonnay 2012 – had lots of tropical fruit, peach, nectarine and oak.
  • William Hardy Chardonnay 2012 – loved the minerality and acidity of this wine.  It was made in a very Old World style with tropical fruit, lemon, vanilla and oak.
  • Nottage Hill Pinot Noir 2012 – black cherry, mushroom funkiness, vanilla and herbs.  Quite the bargain at under $10.

  • Nottage Hill Shiraz 2011 – dark berry, spice, chocolate, licorice and herbs.
  • William Hardy Shiraz 2011 – blueberry, plum, blackberry, chocolate and earthiness.

We then moved to the Tintara wines from McLaren Value, which was established in 1861.  These wines were from 2010, what has been referred to by many as a stellar year for Australian wine.  After trying the 2010 Tintara Cabernet Sauvignon and the Shiraz, seductive and lush are the words that came to mind – especially for the $20 price tag.

The grand finale was the Winemakers Rare Release Shiraz 2008, which was made from the best grapes of three wineries.  This was incredible with notes of chocolate, spice, pepper, thin mint Girl Scout cookies (trust me), blackberry, mocha and vanilla.  It had miles of depth, power and complexity.


Wine Review Round-up: French, Spanish, Italian and California

With the new gig, a little behind on wine reviews… 

It’s been a while since I’ve done a wine round up and lately I’ve been fortunate enough to try some really great wines at all price points.  Since I started my new job in Dallas, I have been instituted “Thirsty Thursday’s,” where I gather my co-workers and we have team building with wine involved.

I’ve listed my favorites in several different categories based on trying more than 40 wines.  These were often tried by region, varietal or price point.

Value Wines ($15 and Under)

2011 Domaine Maby La Forcadière – a dry rose with a nice minerality and notes of raspberry and flowers.  I really enjoyed this rose and I don’t give compliments on roses lightly.

2011 Bolla Soave Classico – a well-priced summer wine with citrus, apricot, peach and a nice crispness.

2012 Bodegas Ostatu Rioja Blanco – tropical notes, crisp and refreshing.  Another great summer refresher.

2012 Vina Ventisquero Sauvignon Blanc – citrus, tropical fruit, minerality with a nice balance of herbs and a creamy texture.

2012 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc – apple, grapefruit and pear.

2011 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserva Carmenere – a nice expression of Carmenere with blackberry, forest floor, mocha and spiciness.

2010 Matchbox Dunnigan Hills Syrah – at $10, this wine with notes of raspberry, currant, black fruit, cocoa, spice and jam, was the best red wine that I’ve tried at this price point.  It had depth and complexity that I have never found in a $10 bottle.

2009 Ruiz de Viñaspre – I tasted lots of red fruit and floral notes in this 100 percent tempranillo.  It was a well-balanced wine and very drinkable with or without food.

2010 Vina Zaco Rioja Tempranillo – lots of vanilla and spice with blackberry and mocha.

2009 Bodegas Bilbainas Vina Pomal Crianza – blackberry, licorice, cedar, mocha and spice make this a well-balanced wine.

$15 to $40

2001 Ramirez de La Piscina Gran Reserva – all spice, flowers, cherries, currant and lots of depth.  This is an elegant wine that is drinking very well today.

2005 Finca Allende Rioja Allende – notes of blackberry, cherry, earthiness with layers of depth.

2005 Deobriga Rioja – smokiness combined with lots of red fruit, flowers, vanilla, spice and tobacco.

2006 Grupo Olarra Bodegas Ondarre Reserva – a very smooth wine with lots of rich red fruit, dates and spice.

2009 Domaine Bressy-Masson Cotes du Rhone-Villages Rasteau Cuvee Paul Emile – this was a rich and smooth wine with notes of blackberry, fig, tobacco, black tea, spice and chocolate.

2009 Domaine du Pesquier Gigondas – this was a big wine with lots of terrior, berry, black cherry and herbs.  This was a very well balanced wine.

2010 De Martino Legado Reserva Carmenere – another good expression of Carmenere with notes of tobacco, flowers, vanilla and cassis.

Over $40

2007 Finca Monteviejo – a powerful wine with blackberry, plum, mushroom, currant, dried fruits, spice and earth.  Exactly what a great Rioja should taste like.


Elyse Winery: Sincerity and Sustainability

Even before I was lucky enough to get on the blogger sample list for Elyse Winery, I’ve been a long-time fan.  I like Elyse’s approach to sustainable wines, their no fuss approach at the winery and the people have always been knowledgeable, passionate and downright nice.  Rick Saunders was our host and we had a ball with him on the tour and trying the Elyse wine line up.

Rick and Molly

In 2012, Elyse celebrated its 25th harvest from its very first crush of 4.5 tons of Zinfandel when Ray and Nancy Coursen made 286 cases of their first wine.   In 1997, the current winery and vineyard was purchased on Hoffman Lane.

Their focus hasn’t changed – great wines prepared with artisan grown ingredients that pair well with food. Today the production is 10,000 cases with international distribution.  The two brands – Elyse and Jacob Franklin are named after their daughter and son.

We tried the following line-up:

  • Elyse Chardonnay 2010 – made in a classic Old World style with citrus, pear and vanilla.  A chardonnay for folks who don’t drink Chardonnay or who love old world style Chardonnays.
  • Jacob Franklin Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – only six barrels are made of this wine and it isn’t distributed outside of the winery.  Classic grapefruit, citrus and minerality.
  • Elyse Le Corbeau 2008 – a 90 percent Grenache and 10 percent Syrah blend.  It had floral notes of jasmine with raspberry and cassis.
  • Elyse Syrah 2008 – notes of Asian spice, mushrooms and berry with a spiciness that would make it a great Fall day wine.
  • Elyse Morisoli Vineyard Zinfandel 2008 – here’s the terrior wine that originally launched the entire Elyse portfolio.  Love this wine.
  • Elyse Black Sears Zinfandel 2008 – this was a big, big Zinfandel with nice berry fruit, but not a fruit bomb.  Lots of balance, pepper, spicy and juiciness.
  • Jacob Franklin Mon Chou (my sweetheart) 2007 – a nice blend in a Bordeaux style with notes of green pepper, cassis, berry and tobacco.
  • Elyse Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 – soft fruits, notes of perfume, floral and hints of oak and vanilla.
  • Jacob Franklin Chavez-Leeds Petite Syrah 2009 – blackberry, chocolate, mocha, spice and pepper.  This was one of my favorites.
  •  Elyse 2006 Port Cabernet Sauvignon – this port combined Viognier brandy with great cabernet.  It was another favorite and a perfect cheese/fruit/dessert match.

It was a fabulous end to a behind the scenes trip of good wine, great food and great people.

 


California and Rioja Wines: A Mix of Cellar Worthy & Tuesday Night Wine

The sample wines were multiplying again, so I invited over some friends and opened a variety of bottles from California and Spain.  I’ve found as the blog gets older, the wines are definitely getting better.  Today was no exception.

California

Cornerstone Cellars never disappoints.  We started with the Cornerstone Cellars 09 Cabernet Sauvignon from Howell Mountain.  I was lucky enough to have tried this before at A Taste of Howell Mountain in Dallas.  This was a gorgeous wine with lots of black cherry, currant, licorice, mocha, cinnamon and lots of depth and complexity.  These wines are consistently good – the grape and the region don’t seem to matter.  It is priced at $80, but it is cellar and special occasion worthy.  

Our next journey through California was the 2010 Matchbook Syrah from Dunnigan Hills, a winery that I was not familiar with before the tasting.  It was jammy and spicy with notes of raspberries, blackberry pie, plum and currants.  We were eating olive hummus and it was a fabulous match with the food.  At a suggested retail price of $16, this was a great wine for the price.

Spain

I continued my love affair with the Rioja region with wines from Basque Country. 

We started with the 2007 Bodegas Ruiz de Viñaspre, which is 100 percent tempranillo, with lots of berry, licorice, violets and mocha with candied fruits.  This was another very drinkable value wine for about $15. 

The second bottle was the 2007 Finca Monteviejo, which is from Viñedos y Bodegas de la Marquesa – Valserrano, a decades-old, family run winery.  The wine is 95 percent tempranillo and a 5 percent mix of graciano and garnacha. This was an earthy and intense wine with dried fruit, blackberry, currant, jam and chocolate.  Very well balanced and $42.


The Label Project: A Gentle Reminder to Look on the Inside

It had a curious beginning.  It came as an anonymous email from the Brand Action asking a select group of global bloggers to participate in The Label Project.  This was shortly followed by the arrival of a lone book, The Catcher in the Rye, with a tongue in cheek note that we were about to embark upon a journey where we needed to focus beyond the label and uncover the true character of what was in the bottle.

Then the wine showed up – three individual boxes in total – a series of region and varietal clues for each wine along with aromatizers of scents that would help us navigate.  I took out The World Atlas of Wine (the wine bible) and went to town.  The wine clues were as follows:

Wine One:

This wine came with the following clues about its origins.

Region clues:

  • It lies between two other major and much older wine regions
  • Its macroclimate is cool but within the region there are many varied topographies, soils and mesoclimates
  • It is famous for its fruit produce including cherries, pears and apples

Varietal Clues:

  • Hints of honeydew melon aromas
  • A palate of lemon pith
  • Underlying creamy texture

This one threw me off a bit.  I got the honeydew and melon and was a little overwhelmed by the lemon scent (it reminded me of lemon pledge on the nose). 

Wine Two:

Regional clues:

  • Altitude of the region ranges from around 250-400 metres (approx 800-1,300 feet) above sea level
  • In general, winters are cool and wet but summer days are warm, dry and sunny here
  • It is very popular with wine tourists

Varietal clues:

  • Spicy aroma of rich fruit cake
  • Rich berry flavours with a hint of dark chocolate
  • Velvety texture

I liked this wine.  It was spicy and I got the rich fruit cake hint.  I was torn on the varietal – I tasted elements of a Shiraz but wondered if it was a blend. 

Wine Three:

Region Clues:

  • The terrain is completely flat
  • Its subsoil is an ancient marine bed
  • It has a maritime influenced climate

Varietal tasting notes:

  • Leafy aromas with a hint of mint
  • Ripe cassis flavours
  • A firm structure with good persistence on the palate

So then the unveiling which proved that my wine bible came in handy for region guessing but my palate was off on the varietals and a gentle reminder to trust my initial judgments.  Again, showing that blind tasting is a humbling experience. 

My guesses were a Verdelho from Hunter Valley OR a Semillon/Chardonnay blend.  Both were totally wrong as it was an Adelaide Hills Chardonnay.

The second wine I guessed correctly – a shiraz from Barossa.

With the final wine I was correct with the region – Coonawarra – but the varietal was wrong.  It was a cabernet sauvignon, which was my first guess, but I talked myself into thinking it was a zinger and guessed shiraz.

And, finally, who hosted this brilliant and well-funded promotion.  The Label Project wines were revealed to come from Jacobs Creek Reserve.  If you want to know more, click here to watch the finale video to find out more about these wine regions.


California Wine Club: A Wine Review

I recently received a shipment from the California Wine Club, a club specializing in hand-selected artisan wines from family-owned producers, which contained the 09 Trenza Winery Santa Barbara County Mourvedre-Syrah-Grenache and the 10 Tangent Winery San Luis Obispo Viognier.

We started with the Viognier, which had notes of melon, citrus, apricot and a bit of Fig Newton.  This was a well balanced wine with good acidity and priced at $17.  The red blend was full of berries, chocolate, mocha, oak and vanilla.  It went very well with our dinner and was food friendly.

The $50 per month price tag includes shipping, accompanying information about the wines and winery and recipes to complete your tasting experience.

If you want to give it a try, the California Wine Club is offering Dallas Wine Chick readers four bottles for the price of 2 when you sign up. Use the code vine12 at checkout.

Click Here to visit the California Wine Club’s website. Click here to check out @cawineclub and @boringwineguy on Twitter.

Disclosure: This review was made possible by Mom Spark Media and was valued at $50 for the shipment.


#WBC 12: Evening Festivities, Speed Tasting, Peruvian Food & Cuffed in Carlton

After the fun pre-trip to Salem, our bus pulled up for the long awaited start of the Wine Bloggers Conference, but not without a lung stopping beginning.  All the rooms at the Doubletree were deemed non-smoking except for the non-compliant guest that stayed our room prior to our arrival.  I went up to the room first and Liza, my roommate, generously offered to get the wine we had stored with the bellhop.  I walked into the room and the wall of smoke hit me.  I called down to the front desk, but when Liza walked in and saw me standing by the open window with the patio window open thought she had busted a closet smoker.  The Doubletree quickly moved us to another room and generously hauled our stash of wine to the next place.

We started our day prior to the conference with a long-awaited tasting of Two Shepherds Wine, which is owned by my friend, William Allen (a.k.a Wine MacGyver for his endless supply of wine glasses and accessories at previous conferences).  Many of us who write about wine dream, “If Iever make the jump into the wine making world, would I have what it takes?” – and knowing that William has a job as encompassing as mine as a software sales executive – I am incredibly impressed.  His premise is to make Rhone varieties that reflect their sense of place and shine when blended. 

We started with the Two Shepherds 11 Grenache Blanc, which tasted of melon, citrus and lemon with some minerality on the end.  Then we tasted the 11 Viognier with a floral nose, but with nice acidity.  Our next stop was the 11 Pastoral Blanc, which was a blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc, with notes of citrus and pear.  This wine begged for some king crab.  We tasted the 10 Syrah/Mourvedre blend with lots of berry and pepper and then a barrel sample of the Grenache.  One word – wow.  Based on what I tasted, I can say with certainty that you will be reading about Two Shepherds very soon – get on the list now because this is truly a small production winery destined for very good things.

We stopped by the welcome session, which was hosted by the Oregon Wine Board, and were given a snapshot of what we had to look forward to during the week and served as a long-awaited reunion of bloggers. 

That night, we were invited to an intimate event to get a glimpse of Oregon’s wine history featuring 02-08 vintages from past years of the Portland Indie Wine Festival with some wines from some of Oregon’s top winemakers. The 5-year-old festival, which is on hold this year, but is sure to be back in 2013, is a project that brings together up and coming independent wine producers with music and food.  We were picked up by the good people of Watershed and brought to a “speakeasy” bar at Portland Wine Storage.  The vibe was cool, the wines were great, the change during the different harvests (lots of rain in 2004 for example vs. the coolest season on record in 2008) and it was fun to sit one-on-one and talk to winemakers from Harry Peterson-Nedry from Chehalem, Lynn Penner-Ash from Penner-Ash and Ben Thomas from Montinore.  And then it was 2 a.m. – welcome to the reality of the Wine Blogger’s Conference….

I’m not going to give a moment by moment recap about the event because there are some really good ones already out there such as Randall Grahm’s speech by Ben Simons or the great write-up of the “Ready, Fire, Aim” live wine blogging by Winemundo.  

But, I will mention the wheels off lunch that I had with David Honig and Liza at Andina, the best Peruvian restaurant that I have ever tried. 

In the afternoon, we were marched out to buses where we randomly selected our wine region tour for the duration of the evening.  We totally scored getting one of the best tours with a group of people whom I absolutely adore.  Zephyr won’t tell you where you are going until the bus is moving so we were very excited to hear that we were going to Carlton, “the wine Capital of Oregon.”  Thanks to Mary Cressler and Thea Dwelle’s invitation in 2010, I had the chance to get to know Amy Wilder and Lynette Shaw during my last trip to Oregon when Amy introduced me to Voodoo Donuts and Lynette introduced me to Willamette Valley.  A friendship was quickly born. 

About 40 minutes into our journey I spotted a police car on the side of the road with a male and female officer in the car.  I made a comment to my seatmate right as the lights were turned on in the police car.  An officer boarded the bus and told us we needed to disembark due to a “situation,” which turned out to be a brilliantly executed PR ploy. 

And, so we began our #cuffedincarlton journey.  What the officer, who turned out to be the chief of police, did not bank on, were the comments about his attractiveness.  Female bloggers, thinking that perhaps he might be an actor or had a side job in Magic Mike, had fun writing about him.  Sorry Chief Kevin.

We stopped at the lovely Carlo & Julian winery where we were served 09 Albarino that was flinty and perfect for the hot weather – especially with the tuna and three pepper sauce that was served with it.  We walked to the vineyards where we had a beautiful cheese and bread plate served with the 09 Tempranillo.  I was surprised to see these two wines in Oregon, but they were tasty and made Joe ponder.

 

We then met Ken Wright, one of the father’s of Oregon wine, who talked about the geography of Carlton and Yamhill.  I’ll talk a little more in detail in a later post, since we were lucky enough to spend the morning with Ken on a post conference visit. 

Our dinner stop was at Cielo Blu and once again we had no idea what was waiting for us.  Imagine a room packed with “evidence” against us with the top chefs in Carlton and the top wineries ready to match a nine course meal with 26 of the region’s best wines.  Mary Cressler and I decided that we had to try everything and gamely set out to keep our palates sharp and our sobriety up. 

Our first course “or Evidence No. 1” was Chinook salmon from Pacific City cooked on a traditional Salish bake, which was an alder wood frame over an open fire by Chef Jeff Lorton from Valley Emporium.  We got to sample the 2011 Youngberg Hill Aspen Pinot Gris, the 2009 Noble Pig Pinot Noir, the 2010 Omero Iliad Pinot Noir, the 2010 Alexana Revana Vineyard Pinot Noir and the 2010 Ghost Hill Pinot Noir Blanc.  It was hard to choose a favorite, but I really liked the 2011 Youngberg Hill Pinot Gris as the match.

Our second course “or Evidence No. 2” was a duck confit salad with apple, fennel, candied nuts and an orange balsamic dressing from Chef Chloe Couchee from the Horse Radish.  We tried the 2011 Omero Pinot Gris, the 2011 MonksGate Rose of Pinot Noir, the 2008 Mouvance Pinot Noir Julon Vineyard and the 2008 EIEIO Pinot Noir. 

I liked all of these wines, but have to give a shout out to MonksGate for making the first and only rose that I have ever, ever, ever liked.  For those of you who know me, this is an accomplishment equal to pigs flying.

I abstained from the third course “or Evidence No. 3,” which was a Carlton Farms pork loin stuffed with herbs, garlic and onions served with Northwest Succotash from Chef Gilbert Henri of Cuvee, because I am allergic.  I have to say the people in Carlton love their pork, but see more about that later.  Our wine choices were the 2011 Troon Vineyard Vermentino, the 07 MonksGate Pinot Noir, the 2010 Alexana Revana Vineyard Riesling and the 2008 Youngberg Hill Jordan Pinot Noir.  The favorite pairing was the 2010 Alexana Revana Riesling, which surprised me as I thought it was destined to be a Pinot Noir.

Our fourth course “or Evidence No. 4” was braised short ribs in a red wine, rosemary tomato sauce with creamy rosemary polenta from Chef Bonifacio Solorzano from Cielo Blu.  We tried the 2005 Spofford Station Estate Syrah, the 07 Cliff Creek Cellars Cabernet Franc, the 2009 WildAire Cellars Reserve Pinot Noir and the 2009 Terra Vina Bella Vista Red Vinters Blend.  My favorite with the course was the 2009 WildAire Cellars Reserve Pinot Noir.

Our fifth course “or Evidence No. 5” was a grilled flank steak with blue cheese butter and peppered D’affinois mashed potatoes from Chef Sean David from The Horse Radish.  This was served with the 2010 Seven of Hearts Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre Cuvee, the WildAire Cellars Tempranillo (no year given) and the 2009 K&M Alchemy Cuvee Pinot Noir.  My favorite was a tie between the 2010 Seven of Hearts and the 2008 K&M Alchemy.

As if we hadn’t had enough, it was time for a cheese plate served with the 2010 Mouvance Pinot Gris and dark chocolate currant-cabernet ganache made by Dana Dooley with Honest Chocolates served with the 2005 Spofford Station Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Troon Vineyard Meritage.  Yum!

Then, the desserts from Chef Amy Wilder, Republic of Jam, a cardamom cake with port preserved plums and dulce de leche cream with the 2010 Seven of Hearts Pinot Noir Coupe’s Cuvee.  Andone of the best desserts that I have ever had, the chocolate blue cheese cheesecake with cherries preserved in balsamic syrup served the same wines matched with the chocolate.  After we experienced every single bit of hometown hospitality in Carlton, we rolled (pun intended) on home. 

Perhaps my plan of moderation didn’t work (ya think…?) My apologies for starting the return sing-a-long on the bus home, but at least I kept it to show tunes and bad songs from the 70’s and 80’s.  Most of the people on the bus still talk to me, so that’s a good thing.

The reality at this point is that you should be done, you should go home, you should get some rest.  But, the post parties were just beginning.  We had the night of Many Bottles, where bloggers brought some of their favorites to share and there were hopes of a dance party (my contribution: 2 drained, one corked); a special tasting of Randall Grahm wines; the bubble and champagne lounge by Pernod Ricard and a few other late night happenings in which bloggers shared some of their favorite wines with a smaller group of people.  After making the rounds, I showed some restraint about 1 a.m. and retired fat and happy knowing I’d be running in the morning, which was not a a fun reality, but necessary with the food/wine consumed.

 


California Wine Club Brings the Valley to You

I was recently asked to take part in Mom Spark Media’s blog review campaign for the California Wine Club.  I felt I was very qualified due to the creative budgeting I used to do with my husband when I went to wine country.  I thought that wine club sign ups “didn’t count towards my wine budget” until one fateful day when my Visa card was hit with eleven charges and my finance guy husband was not amused.

The California Wine Club has been around for over 20 years and specializes in hand-selected artisan wines from family-owned producers.  I was given a three-month Premium Club membership, which features wines from smaller producers and is valued at $150 ($50 per shipment).  I had a slight mix up with my first month, so month one and two arrived within one week.  Each shipment includes two boots of wine and a newsletter outlining the winery, food pairing suggestions and the club’s tasting notes, recipes and other reading material.

 

 

  • 10 Tobin James “Radiance” Monterey County Chardonnay – We were with a group of friends and one eloquently pointed out that “the label matched the taste.”  It was a bright wine with lots of apple, pear, pineapple and citrus with just a touch of oak.  It was creamy and had a good balance.  Definitely was a crowd pleaser.  $18.00 retail, $10.99 club price.
  • 08 Tobin James Titan Hills Vineyards “Fiasco” – This wine from Paso Robles tasted of licorice, Asian spices, spice and pepper.  It was juicy, but smooth and easily drinkable.  $11.99 club price, $20.99 retail.
  • 2010 Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Riesling – this semi-sweet wine has lots of lychee, mango, lemon and other bright summer fruits.  It was off-dry, but still a vibrant wine with acidity.  $26.00 retail, $12.99 club price.
  • 2010 Parker Station Pinot Noir tastes of black cherries, vanilla, cranberry and terrior.  This is a very food friendly and approachable wine.

Interesting factoid:  Fess Parker Winery was established in 1989 by the late actor Fess Parker, who was known for his roles as Walt Disney’s Davey Crockett and Daniel Boone in the 1950′s and 60′s, and the winery remains a family business.

If you like trying “off the beaten path wines” that you probably can’t easily track down in Texas, this could be a great fit for you.  The $50 per month price tag includes shipping and is a fair price for the club, especially if you like the wines and plan to reorder them.  The accompanying information not only told you more about the wines and winery, but gave you recipes to pair to fully complement your tasting experience.

If you want to give it a try, the California Wine Club is offering Dallas Wine Chick readers four bottles for the price of 2 when you sign up. Use the code vine12 at checkout.

Click Here to visit the California Wine Club’s website.  Click here to check out @cawineclub and @boringwineguy on Twitter.

Disclosure: This review was made possible by Mom Spark Media.


A Night of Tapas and Spanish Wine

I recently attended the Lakewood Country Club wine dinner, which was Spanish themed and for the first time in a long time did not feature a particular wine maker.  It was styled as a “Spanish wine and tapas” event and focused on particular geographies – Monstant, Priorat, Rioja, Valencia, Ribera del Duero and finished with an aged sherry.

William Koval, the executive, and incredibly talented, chef who put the French Room on the map continued to wow patrons with six courses of food showcasing Spain at its finest.  And, Tony Zaranti, the club house manager who has brought Lakewood’s wine list to award-winning status, did not disappoint.

DSC00245

The reception began with a Gran Sarao Brut Rose Cava, which was 65 percent granacha and 35 percent mouvedre.  Basic, simple, crisp and non-fussy, it went well with Spanish themed tapas that you might be served at any bar in Spain.  In the spirit of full disclosure, during a past trip to Spain, I had so many of those that my poor husband had to honestly answer the “do I look fat in these jeans question.”  I guess after being married for almost 18 years, honesty is the best policy.

DSC00246

The first course served was Gambas al Ajillo with Jamon Pata Negra (garlic shrimp with Iberico ham).  Mine was slightly altered due to my pork allergy, but the 2010 Acustic Blanc from Monstant was full of passion fruit with a minerality that went perfectly with the spiciness of the shrimp.  This was a really nice, crisp, “off the beaten path” wine that is now on my buy list. 

DSC00248

The second course was a Cucido de Cordero (lamb shank with white bean stew) served with a 09 Galena “Formiga de Galena” Priorat.  Very rich and earthy with notes of berry, chocolate and spiciness. 

The third course was Abondigas (meatballs of Spanish pork, veal and beef – or just veal and beef for me) served with the 07 Marques de Vargars Rioja.  I find this to be a fine utility player wine, but it’s never knocked my socks off.  It was a nice match with some of the best meatballs I have ever eaten.

DSC00250

The fourth course was a Mejillones con Hinojo (mussels and fennel) with a 08 Bodegas Hispano Suizas Pinot Noir from Valencia.  It was deep, intense, floral, earthy and fabulous.  Who knew that Spain made such a nice Pinot Noir?

The fifth course was a mix of Spanish cheeses — Iberica Curado from La Mancha, Montenebro from Avila and Idiazabel from Navarra paired with the 07 Comde de San Cristobal, Ribera del Duero.  This was my favorite wine of the night.  Very complex and deep with big notes of fruit, earth and mocha.  Just fabulous stuff.

DSC00252

The dessert course was vanilla bean ice cream paired with an 85 Albala “Don PX” Gran Reserva sherry that highlighted everything good about older sherry.  I described it as “raisin in a glass,” but I avoided the vanilla ice cream and let the sherry stand on its own.




twitter dallaswinechick
facebook Dallas Wine Chick
Email
RSS Feed
© 2010 www.DallasWineChick.com