Archived entries for

A Quick Twitter Trip around Italy, France and Wines for the Holidays

Exhibit A of what not to drink after a Bordeaux tasting

November was the season of Twitter tastings and I was asked to be a part of three tastings – one from #planetbordeaux, the second from #Franciacorta, and a Whole Foods Top Holiday wines under $25.  Lesson learned #1 – if you really want to enjoy the next morning, don’t invite your girlfriends over, taste all the wines and then plan a crazy night out.  Lesson learned #2 – and I should know better – even if you are spitting the wines, tasting eight of them in one evening leads to palate fatigue.

You may remember that I was blown away by the sparkling wines from Franciacorta during the last Twitter tasting.  Let’s just say that “the blush is not off the rose.”  I continue to be blown away by the versatility, complexity and individuality of these sparkling wines.  We tried four during the tasting and they were delicious:

-          Antica Fratta Brut ($25 retail) – notes of green apple, flowers; citrus; bread and a nice minerality.

-          Bellavista Cuvee ($35 retail) – pear, apple, fresh baked biscuits and ginger made this blend in my top #2.

-          Ricci Curbastro Extra Brut ($40 retail) – it was complex with minerality and savoriness; notes of almond, fresh baked bread and pear.  I loved it.

-          Contadi Castaldi Rose ($25 retail) — notes of berry, spice, flowers and bread.

The other tasting scheduled the same night was the Whole Foods: Holiday Wines Under $25 Tasting.  We tried several wines with other bloggers around the country including the following:

-          2011 Grace Lane Yakima Valley Riesling – notes of peach and green apple with spiciness that would be perfect with a holiday dinner – especially turkey.  This was in my favorite two.

-          2012 Tablao Navarra – notes of stewed plum, tobacco and cherry. A nice tempranillo for under $10.

-          2008 H&G Priorat – nice balance with notes of black cherry, vanilla and black pepper.  This was my favorite of the tasting.

-          2011 Les Hauts de Bel Air Bordeaux Rouge – notes of raspberries, blackberries, violet and black pepper.

The final tasting was for “Planet Bordeaux for the Holidays.”  This is #Planet Bordeaux (shout out to Duran Duran’s Planet Earth).

There I said it as it goes through my mind every single time I see the hashtag. We had a line-up of six wines that were all priced under $15 and all were ready to drink today although some may benefit from decanting.

-          2011 Mouton Cadet Bordeaux – red fruit, herbs and oak.

-          2011 Chateau de Camarsac Bordeaux – spice, berry, cassis and plum.  This was one of my favs.

-          2011 Les Hauts de Lagarde Bordeaux – cranberry, herbs, spice and blackberry. Definitely one of the top ones from the tasting for me and many of the participating bloggers.

-          2011 Chateau du Bois Chantant Cuvee Laurence Bordeaux Superieur – plum, soft berry, cedar and mocha.

-          2010 Chateau des Arras Bordeaux Superieur – plum, vanilla, mocha and toast.  This is a fantastic wine for the price (under $14).

-          2010 Domaine de Courteillac Bordeaux Superieur – oak, berry, plum, chocolate and a touch of anise.

To read more about these Bordeaux wines, visit www.planet-bordeaux.com.

 


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.


A Few of My Favorite Things: Another Wine Review Column

I had a chance to taste wines from nine wineries from regions ranging from Italy, Spain and California. Of the wines sampled, I’m going to profile seven of them.

Italy

2011 Tenuta Costa Lahnhod Sauvignon Doos – This 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc wine from the Alto Adige DOC was my first Italian version of this varietal. It was full bodied with notes of herbs, white stone fruit and minerality. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I liked the balance of the fruit and steeliness.

NV Piccini Memoro Bianco – lots of green apple, apricot and floral notes to this wine along with honeysuckle and herbs. This is a blend of viognier, chardonnay, vermentino and marche. A bargain for $9.99.

Spain

2009 Rupestre de Alpera – This was the hands down favorite of the Spanish wines sampled. There was a complexity to the wine from the notes of balsamic, oak, smoked meat and dark berries. For $19, this is a great weekday option.

Argentina

2011 Kaiken Ultra Malbec – black cherry, dark berries, tobacco and vanilla notes round out this well-made Malbec. I loved the finish of this wine.

2012 Kaiken Terroir Series Torrontes – talk about flowers in a glass. Combine that with tropical fruit and orange blossoms and you have pegged this wine.

California

 

2012 Clos LaChance Dry Rose – this was another group favorite that took us all by surprise. Lots of raspberry, cherry and ruby red grapefruit with notes of flowers and a very dry finish.

2007 Mustache Mentors Naked Rebel – In all honesty, the Naked Rebel wine is a perfectly good pizza wine with an attitude that makes me chuckle. It was very jammy with notes of spice and tobacco. If you look closely at the back of the bottle you can find my favorite lines mentioning a Zombie apocalypse, a Prius and White Zinfandel.


A Round Up of Recommended Wines Under $15

It’s time for another wine round up and this time the focus was on Italy, Slovenia and California.  Overall this was a group of well-priced (all under $15), well rounded and very drinkable wines.  In fact, of the nine wines that I tried, I’m reviewing seven.

California

  • 2011 Backhouse Pinot Grigio — notes of apple, nectarine, lime and apple.
  • 2012 Pepi Pinot Grigio – Nice acidity, tropical fruits with guava and pineapple, notes of pear.  I’m not usually a fan of non-Italian pinot grigios, but I really enjoyed this wine.
  • 2012 Pepi Sauvignon Blanc – notes of grapefruit, lemon grass and citrus.  Very quaffable and a great summer wine.

Chile

  • Con Carne NV Sauvignon Blanc – grapefruit and green pepper with notes of citrus.

Italy

  •  2011 Banfi San Angelo Pinot Grigio – lots of minerality with notes of pear, banana and honey.
  • 2011 La Quercia Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, part of the Small Vineyards portfolio, was one of the favorites of the tasting.  Black cherries, plum, mocha and herbs.  Perfect for your Tuesday pizza line-up.

Slovenia

  •  2011 Giocato Pinot Grigio Goriška Brda – lots of apples, lemon, almonds and notes of floral with a nice balance of minerality.  This wine surprised me and I’m looking forward to trying more from the region.

I think you’d be satisfied for any of these wines by the pool or for Tuesday pizza wines.  Give them a try and let me know what you think.

 


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.


Wine Club Reunited: Spanish Heavy Hitters, White Flights, Napa Finds and Cajun Cuisine

Picture a group of very driven, professional folks that have a passion for wine, like to have fun, enjoy off the beaten path wines and make sure to not take ourselves too seriously.  The last part a total 180 from what you would expect a somewhat serious wine club to look like especially from a group representing a snapshot of corporate America.

We tried taking ourselves too seriously in the beginning where we voted members in, selected favorite wines and then tried to store them for the right period of time before opening and officially voting on our favorites. That all changed one fateful night of tasting Turley Zinfandels where we threw all decorum out the window and had an amazing time.  There may or may not be a YouTube video that you will never find capturing our version of MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This.”  Throughout the years, we changed the goal of the club to enjoying wines we haven’t had before while putting the emphasis on fun.  And, you know, I ended up learning and retaining a lot more knowledge.

As most groups go, life got in the way for awhile and we had not met in a few months.  When Peter and Jen revived the group, I was excited. I walked in with my Spiegelau glasses and no idea of what surprises were in store.

It turns out we were having a Mardi Gras theme with homemade Cajun food.  Our hosts wanted to do a Spanish red theme, but knew that it wouldn’t match the food, so another theme was added to go with the dinner.  We started with wines that would go well with spicy food.  Our first line-up included the following:

 

  • Chateau Bonnet Entre-Deux-Mers Blanc 2011 – a blend of sauvignon blanc, semillon and muscadelle with grapefruit, minerality and a little hint of sweetness.  Great wine under $10.
  • Chateau Guibon  2011 – lots of pear and melon with a nice balance from the blend of Semillon, sauvignon blanc and muscadelle.  This wine is led by the Semillon and is more muted than the first.  Another nice white under $10.
  • Leyda Sauvignon Blanc 09 – lots of citrus with lime, grapefruit and green apple.  Great minerality and nice finish. Also in the $10 range and a great bargain.
  • Villa Maria Reserve Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc 09 – lots of grapefruit, exotic fruit and grassy notes. 
  • Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc 07 – I am a big fan of Merry Edwards wines – especially the Sauvignon Blancs and Pinots – this had the same minerality and citrus notes, but unfortunately had lost some its essence with time.

 

Then it was truly showtime – a line-up of highly rated Spanish reds, all from the highly-rated 2004, of which I have not had the opportunity to try.  Our line-up was:

  • Bodegas y Vinedos Alion Ribera del Duero 04 – inky black with blackberry, chocolate, spice and some floral notes.  Incredibly rich and yummy.
  • Baron de Magana 04 – priced under $20, this wine had notes of oak, blackberry, current and graphite. Very earthy.
  • Bodegas El Nido Jumilla Clio 04 – it took some time in the glass for me to appreciate this big wine.  I tasted mocha, cardamom, cinnamon and something that was almost port-like.
  • Vall Llach Priorat 04 – lots of blackberry, herbal notes, chocolate, coffee, peanut brittle, vanilla, minerality and spice.  I really liked this wine and it changed in the glass through the course of the evening.
  • Numanthia ‘Termanthia’, Toro, Spain 04 – this was an incredible wine by one of the best Spanish wine makers out there.  It was complex with black and red fruits, eucalyptus and as smooth as silk.  My absolute favorite of the evening.
  • Dominio Pingus Ribera del Duero Flor de Pingus 04 – definitely needed more decanting time, but had notes of cherry, chocolate, oak, smoke, sage, licorice and coffee. 

 

And if we hadn’t tasted enough great wines, one of our participants had just returned from a trip to Napa, so out came the Guilliams Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 07 and Seavey Cabernet 09.  And that was a fabulous end to our evening and a foggy start to a Sunday morning.


The Summer of Italian Wine: A Conversation with Mauro Merz

I talked last week about the Italians converging on Dallas to make sure that we know just how great their wines are.  When I received an invitation from Banfi to meet Mauro Merz, the head winemaker from Fontana Candida, I was intrigued.  This was part of a bigger effort in Texas and Chicago, two top wine drinking markets.  Because Merz speaks no English, we had an awesome translator who somehow seamlessly pulled off near simultaneous translation.

If you remember the Riunite on Ice commercials of the 70’s and early 80’s and saw your parents proudly serve Riunite along with Cold Duck, you may also have tried the substandard Frascati that hit many American’s tables along that timeframe.  While neither wine is associated with Frascati, it was in the same category of a “wine that lost its soul.” 

Mauro Merz, the head winemaker from Fontana Candida

Frascati, once known for producing delightful crisp white wines, suffered the fate of Chablis and Merlot with an overabundance of over production resulting in a lot of bad wine that hit the market.  Fast forward several years later and Merz, the unofficial ambassador of Frascati as well as the largest producer, is a man that is committed to fixing the errors of the past and making Frascati great again within his region and in the eyes of the public.

To address the skepticism and initial quality issues, Merz was the first to work with farmers and growers in the region to ensure strict quality standards for the grapes.  The grapes are grown in volcanic soils located near Rome and have been a staple of Roman culture for almost 2,000 years.  Merz is the only producer that uses cold filtration and cold bottling.  This wine has a place in history – from popes to everyday folks – Frascati was a wine of occasion and celebration.

Believe it or not, we tried a vertical of Frascati with some vintages ranging from 1997 to 2011 (not consecutive years).  Here’s what I found:

  • 1997 vintage – I couldn’t believe that Frascati held up this long.  Was it my favorite wine, no, but that wasn’t the point of having us try it.  I appreciated that it evolved with almond, apple and pear notes and the fact that it had depth after almost 15 years in the bottle (these wines are for drinking young, not for aging).
  • 2010 Vigneto Santa Teresa Frascati Superiore Doc – this was very fruity, crisp with some minerality and great mouth feel.  A great apertiff wine for hot summer days and priced ridiculously well around $10.
  • 2001 Vigneto Santa Teresa Frascati DOC Superiore – this was a surprisingly complex wine that actually could age in a cellar with lots of white stone fruit and minerality.
  • 2011 Fontana Candida Terre dei Grifi – this was a bigger wine full of citrus, dried fruit and melon.  It is definitely a wine that needs food.  Merz deemed it the “Sophia Loren of wine because it only gets more beautiful with age.” – Nice!

Our next flight was of Luna Mater, which began production on the 50th anniversary of Fontana Candida.  The wine was bottled with a mind toward tradition, but using the right technology to make the right wine.  We tried the following:

  • 2007 Luna Mater Frascati Superiore DOC – this was had a big balsamic taste, honey, tropical fruits, pear and almonds.  It was the first vintage and is definitely going to age well.
  • 2008 Luna Mater Frascati Superiore DOC – same exotic fruits, but fresher with much more acidity.
  • 2009 Luna Mater Frascati Superiore DOC – this is owner’s favorite wine.  It was complex, yet intense with a concentration of tropical fruit and balsamic notes.
  • 2010 Luna Mater Frascati Superiore DOC – lots of apricot, but this wine needed some more time in the bottle to deliver.

Merz talked about what Frascati needs to do to get back to its rightful place in wine history, “we need to make sure we tell the story of the wine’s sense of place, its role in the history of wine dating back to the Romans and continue to encourage the Frascati winemaking revival.”  He believes, as the largest producer of Frascati, he has a responsibility to lead this effort.  Small producers are now following and he hopes other wineries and growers will follow suit.

He loved the reaction of our group who didn’t expect the wines to be good.  The faster people taste, the faster they will discover a little known crown jewel from Italy. 

 


Love Affairs, Piropos and Free Wine

In honor of Valentine’s Day and putting poetry into action, I have teamed up with Tapeña wines.  It’s time to be creative and talk about your love affair – this time with the grape. 

The most creative Piropo will win a four-pack of wines, a Spanish-themed cookbook and some other fun material.  What is a Piropo you may ask?  Translated literally it is a “flirtatious or poetic compliment to a woman.”  Things like, “If beauty were a sin, you’d never be forgiven” or “So many curves, and me without brakes” (shudder).  But, that’s been so done.  I want to see how clever and unique you can voice your appreciation for wine.

Tapeña—the wine with the little fork on the label—is a blend of tradition, camaraderie and gathering close friends.  I had the chance to partner with them a few years ago on an event so if you want to know more about the  wine.

For more info about Tapeña, check out their website, Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/tapenawines or Twitter @tapenawine.  They also have a reward program, for those of you who become fans, where you can get more free stuff.

 The fine print – you must be 21 years or older to enter, and that by entering you verify you are over 21.  The contest will close on January 31 and you can enter here.  Looking forward to seeing your poetry in motion.


Two Corks and a Bottle: A Do It Yourself Neighborhood Wine Bar

 Two Corks and a Bottle signage

Courtesy of John Buquoi

I’ve always fanaticized about being a wine maker and working on “making magic in a bottle”.  That is until I tried blending from the barrel with a wine maker or two and realized what skills are required to make that magic happen.

Two Corks and a Bottle Owners

John Ley (left) and Elwyn Hull (far right), Winemakers

I attended the grand opening of Two Corks And A Bottle, a new wine bar in uptown where you can choose from 30 varietals of grapes from around the world and make 30 bottles of a personal vintage by yourself or with a group of friends.  The friendly staff provides enough direction to make sure your prized grapes result in the wine you hoped with a custom label to prove it.  Hey, the holidays are around the corner…

If making two and a half cases of wine isn’t in your plan or budget, wines are available by the glass or 5 tastes for $5.  Of those that I tried, my favorite was the Italian Amaroso and the Sweet Harmony ice wine was a nice change of pace.  There were also Cosmo Wine Cocktails and Mojito Wine Cocktails in a bottle, but I decided to stick with the vino.  A wine club — one or two bottles monthly — with a six month membership is also available.

Two Corks and A Bottle Outdoor

Courtesy of John Buquoi

Two Corks and a Bottle is a nice little neighborhood wine bar filling a gap in the Quadrangle area.  It is open every day but Monday and has live music on Saturdays.


Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais and Burgers: Yin and Yang

The day after I got back from the Wine Blogger’s Conference I quickly prepared for the Burgers with a side of Beaujolais #GDandBurgers event.  As many of you know, I do not cook.  Ever.  So, when the itinerary called for burger preparation and my husband was out of town, I called in the big guns — my friend, Jennifer Schuder. 

George Deboeuf Spread

Jennifer prepared a fabulous turkey burger with a fried egg perched on top of the patty.  It was absolutely to die for.  I also learned that Beaujolais wines match pretty well with burgers.  Other participants followed along with burger recipes by Chef Bob Waggoner that matched each wine.   To follow some of the chat that evening, check out www.winetwits.com and clink on the link.

Georges Deboeuf Wines

We tried three Georges Duboeuf wines that night. 

  • Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 09 – this was the least complex of the wines offered and the least favorite of the group.  I tasted berry and currant and some spice on the end.  This wine went well with our cheese plate.  $9.99
  • Georges Duboeuf Brouilly 09 – lots of plum, currant and other stone fruit. The more this developed in my glass, the more I liked it.  This was the most divisive wine of the group.  $13.99
  • Georges Duboeuf Julienas Chateau des Capitans 09 – This was the favorite and the most complex wine tried.  Floral notes, mocha, vanilla, big berry and spiciness.  $17.99

This was a great event to really get a feel for the diversity of wines from Beaujolais.  And, I now know what wine will work splendidly the next time my husband fires up burgers on the grill.




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