It’s that season again when I look forward to getting those super fresh strawberries from my local strawberry farm just up the road. The sweet smell and fresh taste from these sweet strawberries is to die for. This jam is made by boiling up the strawberry and rosé mixture, then putting into the fridge until…
I had an opportunity to do a Sonoma tasting at The Wine Bank in San Diego. This wine shop has an extensive collection of wines and spirits on two floors. It was hard for me to walk out of there with just one bottle.
This Sonoma tasting offered 5 wines, and we also got a bonus taste of the 2017 Dashe Rosé.
We started with the 2014 Cherry Tart Chardonnay. This was a very drinkable Chardonnay that had a nice vanilla hit on the palate from the oak, with some minerality and a lasting finish. If you prefer an oaky Chardonnay, I would recommend this wine. I would pair this wine with a brie, perhaps a brie with mushrooms. Jayson Woodbridge is the owner and winemaker of Hundred Acres, Layer Cake, and Cherry Pie Wines. The Cherry Pie wine brands were inspired by Jayson’s grandmother’s baking, and he chose the design of the label from seeing a painting in New York of a fresh, hot out the oven cherry pie!
Our second taste was the 2012 Kesner Gate Pinot Noir. This winery is known for making small production wines and the first vintage of their Chardonnay was chosen to be served at The French Laundry. Jason Kesner (yes, another Jason) has also spent a lot of time in the vineyard, which has influenced his craft.
The 2015 Dashe Dry Creek Zinfandel has 8% Petite Sirah. I found this wine to be earthy, full-bodied and juicy. This wine was rated 91 by Wine Enthusiast. Mike and Anne Dashe combined their love of each other and their love of wine and created their first Zinfandel together in 1996. They are known for traditional and ‘natural’ approach to winemaking.
The 2016 Gundlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvee was my favourite, and what I brought
home with me. I often enjoy red blends, and this one did not disappoint. This wine was a 73% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc. I could taste black currant and some cherry. Nice smooth finish.
The 2015 Routestock Cabernet Sauvignon was a nice fruity wine with some acidity and oak tannin – nice long finish.
Our bonus pour was the 2017 Dashe Rosé – this was a lovely wine, and I will be buying some of this soon. As I’m a big fan of Rosé I loved the fruity intensity, and I could see this as a summer sipper.
Looking for a wine bar with Tunisian flair in Manhattan Beach? Head to Barsha Wines and Spirits. Barsha in Tunisian means “a lot or very much”. You’ll see what I mean when you get there. You’ll not be disappointed as there is something here for everyone. It’s a small production wine and unique spirits shop, featuring a hip and comfortable tasting room where you can also grab a beer, enjoy tasty gourmet bites, and shop to take home food and gifts!
Adned Marouani and his wife Lenora met in Las Vegas as chefs, and their love of food, turned into a romance that has taken them around the globe. Adned originates from Tunisia where there are French, Arabic, and Meditteranean influences. Lenora loves this culture so much that she also operates a home decor store nearby called The Souk featuring artisan products created by women from Tunisia.
The wine and food selections change monthly. As it was January, I decided to sample the “New Year, New Me” flight that offered a taste of two whites and two reds. Also ordered a delicious charcuterie meat and cheese board to pair with these wines. Both the wines and the charcuterie offered unique global flavours!
The 2017 Menton-Salon Jean Tellier Sauvignon Blanc from Loire, paired really well with the Italian Brie – Brinata. The wine had a hint of floral on the nose with a nice crispness and lasting finish. The 2015 Monte Carbonare Soave from Italy was a creamy, smooth white that paired well with the Tunisian almonds and the truffle ham. The Spanish Gil Berzal Crianze Temperanillo was plummy with some minerality that paired great with the duck truffle pate and English smoked cheddar cheese. The 2014 Château Trou Peyronneau Saint-Emilion Grand Cru blend was delicious with the Italian Barricato Al Pepe.
If you are in the Manhattan Beach or near LA, it’s worth the trip to Barsha. Let me know what you enjoy when you are there!
As it’s coming up for Valentine’s day you might be thinking of which sparkling wine to choose to celebrate with your sweetie.
Some of the differences between the two wines are about how they taste, how they are made, the cost, and your own personal preference.
Both wines go through two fermentations. One fermentation is to make the wine, the second fermentation is to make the bubbles!
Champagne can only be called Champagne when it comes from Champagne!! All other wines are some other form of sparkling wine.
Champagne can be made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier grapes. These grapes come from a cool climate in Champagne, France. The grapes are harvested gently by hand so that they do not pick up any tannin from the skins, that would alter the taste.
With Champagne, the fermentation takes place in the bottles. This becomes a very labour intensive process as someone needs to turn the wine (riddling) to bring the sediment into the neck of the bottle.
Prosecco comes from Italy and yes there is a town called Prosecco where this wine was born.
The production has expanded beyond the town of Prosecco.
The secondary fermentation for Prosecco takes place in a large steel pressurized tanks.
Where it’s from
Grape (s) used
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier
Most commonly made from Glera – also can be made from Perera, Bianchetta, Verdiso, and even Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.
I was in Whole Foods in the sparkling wine section grabbing something for my own New Year’s Eve celebration. The woman besides me says “Can you drink Champagne without getting a heachache?” I said “I love anything sparkling and I’m lucky to not have that happen to me!”
The bubbles in any sparkling wine contain carbon dioxide that helps your stomach digest it faster and get quickly into your bloodstream. It’s also a diurectic, making your blood sugar drop, and potentially cause challenges with sleep. There are also differing levels of sugar with the type of champagne.
I then asked this woman if she wanted help to select her New Year’s Eve beverage.
First of all – I helped her to choose a bottle that was lower in sugar. If you choose Champagne (the real deal), there is residual sugar added to the bottles. This is called dosage, and the sugar is added to balance out the acidity of the wine.
Next – look for levels of sweetness on the label. Bottles can be labelled from levels of sweetness from no added sweetness to very sweet – from Brut Nature, Brut, Extra Sec, Sec, Demi-Sec, and Doux
Brut Nature – As the name implies, this has no sugar added.
Extra Brut – Less than 6 grams of sugar per litre
Brut – Less than 12 grams of sugar per litre. This is a very popular type of champagne as there is just enough sugar to balance out the acidity.
Extra Sec – (Sec means dry) 12-17 grams of sugar per litre
Sec – (Dry) 17-32 grams of sugar per litre – about a teaspoon per litre.
Demi-Sec – 32-50 grams of sugar per litre
Doux – 50 grams of sugar per litre – about 2 teaspoons
Another tip – Often Champagne is served on an empty stomach. If you can eat something while sipping your bubbly, you’ll feel better, and the bubbles will not rush to your head as much!
Finally – Drink one glass of water for each glass of Champagne that you’ll drink. This will keep you hydrated and help avoid a headache.
Well, after helping this woman, she decided to purchase a giant bottle of Prosecco. Hopefully, she will enjoy it, and be headache free.
Here’s to a Happy and Headache free 2019! Cheers!!
When I decided to take the Rías Baixas workshop at the 2018 Wine Bloggers Conference, I thought I better figure out how to pronounce it! Rías Baixas is located in the Galicia region of Spain, and it is known for the Albariño grape. Over 99% of wine produced in Rías Baixas is white, and accounts for 96% of all plantings. This area is coastal with mineral rich soil and a cooler climate. This area is often referred to as “Green Spain”.
Rias Baixas Pronunciation Guide - Vimeo
There are 9,000 acres of vineyards in the Rías Baixas region with over 6,500 growers and approximately 20,000 single vineyards. There is a high concentration of old vines here with thicker grape skins which helps in the prevention of rot, resulting in lots of flavours within the skin.
There are 5 sub-regions here and they all have their own micro-climate. I was intrigued by the differences in how these wines tasted, even though I was drinking all Albariño.
We started with the Sensum Laxas a delicious sparkling Albariño. This was a Bronze medal winner in Decanter 2016, and a Gold Acio in Galicias best Sparking wine. Nice citrus, honey aroma with a crisp taste and lingering finish. This wine is from the Condado do Tea subregion. It’s more inland, warmer and drier. Wines from this region are known for being more earthier. I also received a bottle of this for a sponsored tasting, and I paired this with bacon wrapped dates stuffed with chorizo. It was a great pairing, this bubbly provided a nice contrast to the bacon. It was a hit!
Another wine we tasted, was the 2105 Nora Da Neva, another wine from the Condada do Tea subregion. This Albariño had that nice crisp acidity that you find in these wines, and also had a creamy finish. This is because they employ the process of battonage which is where they stir the dead yeast cells (lees) into the wine. This helps to build body, texture, and flavour. The result is a creamier, softer texture to this wine. They also use this process with other white wines like Chardonnay.
The Martín Códax 2016 Albariño is from the Val du Salnés subregion of Rías Baixas. This area is known as the birthplace of Albariño, with the highest concentration of wineries. Martín Códax is located on the Atlantic coast where the soil is granite and rocky, with a cool and wet climate. This wine had a citrus and floral aroma with a crisp citrus taste and acidity. The name Martín Codax is a tribute to a medevial Galician troubadour!
Another interesting wine the Santiago Ruiz 2017 is from the O Rosal subregion of Rías Baixas. This area borders Portugal.
This wine is a blend of 76% Albariño, 11% Loureiro, 5% Treixadura, 4% Godello, and 4% Caíno Blanco. Wines from this region are known for having a peachy and softer character.This was a unique and appealing wine with the balance of the grapes, with aromas of apple, pear, and apricot and some citrus. I could taste the minerality on the finish.
The map on the bottle was designed by Isabel Ruiz, the winemaker’s daughter to help guests find their way to the winery!.
I also recieved a bottle of this wine for a sponsored tasting.
What I found interesting in tasting these Albariños from the different sub regions of Rías Baixas is how you can find such variations within one type of grape. There was a range of crisp wines, to earthy wines, and softer peachy wines.
This clearly demonstrates to me how much influence the climate and terroir has on the final product. Let me know what you enjoy tasting!!
By far, the most fun, out-of-the-box experience at the Wine Bloggers Conference 2018 in Walla Walla was the Surprise Wine Country Dinner Excursion, where we were separated into different groups and whisked away for a magical mystery wine tour!
Our group was told to the side entrance to the beautiful Marcus Whitman Hotel, where to our surprise, at least a dozen beautiful classic cars from Walla Walla Cruisers Car Club were waiting to load us up and take us away. We chose this fabulous 1974 Pontiac Firebird owned and lovingly restored by Maggie Yount. Both car and driver were a total blast!
Maggie took us on a leisurely ride down the charming Main Street of Walla Walla, round the block, and stopped just across the street from where we had started! What next, we wondered? Our fearless group leader hustled us down the street and into Baron’s Winery, our first of three stops for the evening. Here, we were treated to delicious Chardonnay Chicken Bites on Polenta Squares paired with a glass of fabulous 2016 Baron’s Chardonnay. This Chardonnay was brilliant gold, crisp, floral and fruity. This varietal received a well-deserved rating of 90 points in April of 2018 from Wine Enthusiast!
Next, we proceeded down the street to Otis Kenyon Wines, where we sampled a very tasty salmon appetizer paired with a glass of their absolutely amazing Otis Kenyon 2017 Roussane. Though this local winery is mainly focussed on robust reds, this Roussane was a stunner, heavy and rich, with flavours of apricot and pear.
Last but not least, we ambled down the road to the lovely tasting room at Dama Wines. Dama is one of Washington State’s few women-owned wineries, and they make a mean Cowboy Cabernet Sauvignon! We enjoyed this hearty, juicy Cab along with a delicious steak dinner.
An evening of mystery, surprises, amazing food, wine and company – does life get any better?
Up until about a month ago, I thought that Yakima was simply a brand of sporty car rooftop carriers. It turns out that Yakima is also a charming town in eastern Washington state, and the Yakima Valley is not only stunningly beautiful, but creates some amazing red wines!
I was fortunate enough to attend a pre-conference excursion in this lovely area for the Wine Bloggers conference 2018. Our group headed up to the very scenic Elephant Mountain Vineyards, where owner Joe Hattrup has grown an impressive number and variety of grapes. As you can see from the vineyard map, there is everything from Merlot to Sangiovese to Petit Verdot, with some Riesling thrown in for good measure. It is situated high on the southern slopes of the Rattlesnake Ridge at the base of Elephant Mountain, south-facing, with beautiful vistas of the valley below. The latitude here is similar to that of the Bordeaux region in France.
Here is my lovely sister Jen enjoying the view!
On this excursion, we were offered a variety of very high-quality wines from Washington state. One of my favourites was the 2013 Mourvèdre “Eleven” with grapes sourced from Elephant Mountain vineyards. In the glass, it was a deep red, earthy and robust, bursting with flavours of deep, dark berries.
I sampled most, if not all of the wines shown in this photo, and they were all excellent! The Co Dinn red blend shown, also from the Elephant Mountain region, was another standout.
If you are considering a road trip through Washington state, I highly recommend a visit to this stunning region. You will be blown away by the beauty of the valley, and the amazing quality of the wines!
The day before the workshop, my sister and I got our photo taken at the Cheeses of Europe booth. We were both anticipating the event. My sister even changed her flight to make sure she didn’t miss the cheese!! Check out these happy sisters! Say Cheese!
IMG 2542 - YouTube
The Cheese Twins are accomplished international cheese experts that were our speakers for this session. You may have seen them on tv as a winner of Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race (Series 7) and a Chopped finalist (Episode: Twins for the Win) We delighted in their passion and knowledge of cheese.
I was in heaven when I saw our table laden with these cheeses. Such a generous offering of lovely cheese! We tasted Comte, Brie, Camembert, Mimolette, and Bleu d’Auvergne. We learned that a perfect cheese board should contain a mix of soft and hard cheeses and a range of mild, medium to strong cheese.
The cheese was artfully displayed – visually appealing and easy to eat.
Create a Winter Cheese Board - YouTube
We had the delicious mild soft cheeses – Brie and Camembert. We paired these cheese with the Meiomi Chardonnay. I liked how they had precut the brie into wedges with a cracker inserted between each wedge for easy serving.
There are 83 descriptors of Comté and I won’t list them all here! Roasted cauliflower, browned butter, dry hazlenuts and brioche are some examples. This is one delicious cheese that I’ve had before in Europe. The texture is quite firm. We paired this cheese with Meiomi Chardonnay.
One of our favourite cheese was the Mimolette. The bright orange colour is made from a natural seed and the flavour is like butterscotch. Although I’ve had this before, it’s not a cheese I see much around here. This would be a fabulous addition to a cheese board. We paired the Meiomi Pinot Noir with this cheese.
The Blue D’Auvergne is a category of blue cheese. It can be creamy, brittle, sweet or savoury. It pairs well with peppery salads and dark fruit. The jammy notes of Pinot Noir is a nice balance to a salad with arugula and Blue D’Auvergne. This cheese was a great pairing with the Meomi Pinot Noir.
We truly enjoyed our cheese, meeting the Cheese Twins, and pairing it with the Meiomi wine. Thanks to the generousity of everyone involved to make this happen!