Archived entries for Wine Blogging Wednesday

Andegavia: Smart Package, Tasty Product

The folks at Andegavia Cask Wines reached out to me in the Spring with a green proposition – help reduce the amount of discarded wine bottles and still drink good wine daily.  A chat with our recycling guys would result in an admission that I drink a lot of wine and therefore generate a lot of empty bottles.  Or, perhaps they’d advise an intervention.

Andegavia Cask Wines was named after the region, Andegavia, where the wine trade began and where wines were once shipped in casks or barrels.  It’s meant to be an intersection between Old World and New World, but with a twist.  Andegavia is working with Patrick Saboe, the head wine maker at The Wine Foundry in Sonoma.  Patrick’s been known for overseeing production for Verismo, Keller Estate, Petroni and Pezzi King and has produced wines that the critics love.

I received a .375 bottle of Ruthven Napa Valley Red Blend.  If you look on its website, you see that the packaging is sustainable and eco-friendly.  I tasted big berry, black pepper and herbal notes with a bit of mocha.  It was a very nice wine and placed well in the #thirstythursday tasting with my colleagues.  Then you get to the price – one cask, which is four bottles, for $78, $199 for three casks making this a very affordable option that has some care and tending to the wine.  There are several red blends, one pinot noir and a chardonnay.


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.

 


Best Wine Bars to Sip and Stay Awhile: My Culturemap Dallas Perspective

CultureMap Dallas asked me to put together a list of my “best of” wine bars within the Metroplex.  Here’s my list.  What are your favorites and why?  And here are some of my shots that didn’t make the site.

Ascension

Mercy

Veritas

 

Cork: Courtesy of Cork

Max’s Wine Dive

Max’s Wine Dive

 


Celebrity Wines: The Good, the Bad and the Funny

Christy Lemire at the Oscars

Check out my column today in Culture Map Dallas where I interviewed Associated Press Movie Critic Christy Lemire to find out what she thought the persona of the wines would be based on the celebrity.  Then Jasper Russo, who runs the fine wine program for Sigel’s, and I tried the wines.


A Night with Morlanda and Judith Llop in Dallas

Judith Llop, the winemaker for Morlanda, one of Spain’s shining stars from Priorat, came to town last week and I had the chance to sit down with her at an intimate wine dinner.  Morlanda is part of the Heredad Collection, a small collection of limited-release premium wines from the top estates in Spain.  It is owned by the Ferrer family, who you may know for the widely distributed Freixenet, who uses its wide distribution network to bring great wines out of Spain that would never otherwise reach the United States.

We were invited to the home of Janet Kafka, who runs the Freixenet family’s PR efforts, which is worth a mention as one of the best entertaining houses in Dallas.  The artwork alone is worth its own column.  We started with the Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad, which was a source of much discussion about how much of a value and crowd pleaser this sparkling is.  I personally have served it for many brunches and have always received great comments.

Judith talked about the wines that we would taste and how they truly are “her babies.”  Her goal is to make wines that are drinkable today, which is often not a characteristic of wine from Priorat.  She is the daughter of vineyard owners in Terra Alta in Spain.  After getting her Oenology degree from Tarragona University, she worked for Miguel Torres, Vina Errazariz, among others, before joining the Freixenet group in late 2003.

We tried three wines from her collection along with some belt loosening, but very good food.  We started with a Wild Mushroom Souffle with rosemary black pepper demi with the 2011 Garbo from Montsant.   This was young, drinkable wine.  It was very fruity with notes of blueberry.

Our next course was Smoked Beef Short Rib with Manchego Whipped Parsnip Cauliflower Puree, Sweet Snap Peas and Peppers paired with the 2009 Mas de Subira and 2007 Morlanda from Priorat.  The Mas de Subira had tons of structure with slate, cocoa, plum and cherry.  The 2007 Morlanda, which I absolutely loved, was full of plum, chocolate, balsamic and mocha.

The more wines I try from Spain – especially from Priorat – the more I realize I how much I am a huge fan of just about every wine I have tried from this region.


WinePoynt Review on CultureMap Dallas Today

Photo Courtesy of WinePoynt

Click here to see my review of WinePoynt in Culture Map Dallas.  All in all, a cool application today to find the best wine selection in the bigger box retailers and chains.  I’m looking forward to when wine bars, specialty retailers and smaller restaurants are added.  Then this will truly be a powerful handheld sommelier.


Newton: Natural Wine Meets Eco-Chic

Recently I sat down with Chris Millard, Newton Vineyard winemaker, along with Bruce and Stephanie Tharp of MATERIOUS to talk wine, art and the environment.  Newton is a pretty cutting-edge vineyard that is serious about sustainability, organic farming, a commitment to nature and green design.  They were there to talk about the winery’s fourth annual Eco-Chic collaboration, a project dedicated to blending the art of natural winemaking with eco-conscious design.  The collaboration is a way for Newton to reach consumers beyond the bottle.

Each year, the winery seeks out the best creative designers and artists around the world and challenges them to capture the essence of Newton – from the beauty of its vineyards with an East/West influence to the artistry of the blending of the wine.  The Tharp’s, who are renowned artists with international exhibitions, were chosen for this year’s collaboration.

They traveled to the vineyards to experience Newton, meet Chris and determine their vision for the piece.  The Vineyard Block “Puzzle,” which is also named after Newton’s icon wine made from the winery’s 112 vineyard blocks, is in the shape of a golden rectangle, a traditional Western concept of harmony and proportion.  Intersecting lines reflect the division of Newton’s properties into vineyard blocks.  A corkscrew stored in the leg of the tray showcases a “hidden cave,” evoking the Chardonnay cellar built into Spring Mountain to conserve energy.  The tray’s removable puzzle pieces can be used for cheese trays, coasters, etc.  Only 112 trays will be made from Forest Stewardship Council certified wood and each one costs $499.

I asked Chris the similarities between wine and art because that appears to be a common theme based on several recent events in Dallas.  Chris talked about the similarities of craftsmen, winemakers and artists who design products blending art, science and technology.  The means are different, but the end goal is the same.  He also said that each year when he meets with these designers, it would be really easy to switch seats.  The subject would be different, but the conversation would remain the same.




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