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Head To T-Vine For Some FUN Wine!

Head to T-Vine for Some FUN Wine!

When I first got into wine, I loved Zinfandel! I mean I loved loved loved Zinfandel.  Now, I’m not talking about the sweet pink stuff. I’m talking about the lovely red Zinfandel wines, the way the varietal was intended to be … in my opinion. I certainly don’t judge people who like it pink! (As long as you’re enjoying wine, you’re cool in my book!)

That being said, as time went by, my palate changed and most Zins (not just the pink ones) became too much for me. So many are too big, too jammy and too oaky for me.

On my last visit to Napa, I discovered a Zin that I like a lot! Now don’t get me wrong, this Zin is NOT small! It’s full of fruity wonderfulness, but it’s not TOO much! I really enjoyed it! Perhaps my palate has come full circle?

T-Vine Winery is located in Calistoga and has a very cool tasting room.  It’s super modern, has gorgeous vineyard views, and is a perfect size. My husband and I bellied up to the tasting bar and enjoyed all of their wines. Heck, we ended up buying a case!

My favorites included their Petite Sirah, Grenache and this Zin from the Black Sears Vineyard.

In the glass, the Zin is bright garnet in color, with aromas of blackberry, plum, and licorice. On the palate, there is lots of blackberry pie, raisin, and some spicy pepper.

The ’14 T-Vine Black Sears Vineyard Zinfandel is velvety smooth and not overbearing! The high elevation of Howell Mountain is a great spot to grow Zinfandel, and this wine is a testament to that!

The next time you’re in Napa, be sure to check out T-Vine Winery. If your travel plans aren’t heading that way anytime soon, check out their website. You can order all of their wines online, and they have some killer shipping deals!

Check it all out here: https://www.tvinewinery.com

 

The 2012 Socré Barbaresco: An Italian Queen!

The 2012 Socré Barbaresco: An Italian Queen!

I love the Piedmont region of Italy! The beautiful landscape and lovely people are added bonuses to the glorious wines found throughout the region.

My husband and I were there a few years ago, and we absolutely loved it. We tasted in many of its regions, but visiting Barolo and Barbaresco was a dream come true!

While Barolo is often considered the “King” of Piedmont’s wines, Barbaresco is its “Queen”. Both 100% Nebbiolo, Barbaresco tends to be a bit more graceful and feminine than it’s Barolo counterpart.

For dinner last night I made fresh spaghetti with marinara sauce and burrata cheese, and I was determined to open a nice Italian red with which to pair it! So I went to our cellar and found a 2012 Socré Barbaresco. I was happy with my decision.

The wine has cherry, violet and baking spices on the nose. On the palate are the cherry, cinnamon, licorice and smooth tannins. This Barbaresco is very approachable right now and is nicely balanced. It’s easy to drink and yet complex as well, and paired beautifully with the simple marinara sauce on the pasta.

My husband gave me thumbs up on dinner last night, and I give Socré a definite stamp of approval on their 2012 Barbaresco! This pairing was a match made in heaven!

To find out more about Socré, check out their website: https://www.socre.it/en/homepage/

My New Summer Wine? Pecorino!

My New Summer Wine? Pecorino!

The warm weather is already here in Florida. Yes … already! Along with warming weather comes the dwindling days and nights remaining to enjoy sitting on my deck at home with a glass of wine. Warm temperatures also mean starting the search for some fun and different white wines to enjoy along with the deck’s view! So I headed to my favorite wine store to see what they had.

I found a bunch and I cracked one open the other night for dinner. I couldn’t have been happier with my choice.

Pecorino is a white grape variety from Italy. Grown for hundreds of year in the Marche region, it was slowly replaced by more “productive” grapes, particularly Trebbiano. Rediscovered in the 1980s, Pecorino has made a comeback and is producing some lovely wines.

From Abruzzo’s subregion Colline Pescaresi, the 2015 La Valentina Pecorino is very aromatic with white flowers, pineapple and Meyer lemon on the nose. On the palate is exotic rich fruit, but with such great acidity, the richness is not at all overbearing. The palate also has some green apple, lemon, great minerality and an oily texture. Plus, the light golden color makes it look very pretty in the glass!

This wine sees no oak, and the richness is undoubtedly due in part to sur-lie aging, as well as some skin contact before fermentation. What’s not to like about a full-bodied complex white wine with great acidity that makes you keep wanting another glass?

For dinner, I had made a white pizza with roasted cauliflower and spinach. The acidity of the wine cut beautifully through the richness of the Béchamel sauce on the pizza. The fruitiness of the wine complimented the mozzarella and the vegetables. The pairing was a success!

If you want to change up your white wine world, and perhaps are looking for something other than a Sauvignon Blanc, check out Pecorino. In fact, why not try the La Valentina Pecorino. I can attest to it being a really nice wine, and at below $20, it’s also a great bang for the buck.

You can find out more here: http://www.lavalentina.it/en/

The Rhone Ranger & His Wine!

The Rhone Ranger & His Wine!

Why do I love wine? There are actually a lot of reasons. I love the taste, for one thing. Well, of a lot of wines anyway! The whole process of winemaking fascinates me, and I find the history and geography involved absolutely intriguing. I also don’t hate the fact that it’s an intoxicant! And the people???? Oh how I love learning about and meeting some of the fabulous characters that have made wine their artistic and scientific goals of life.

I recently had the chance to taste with one of the true characters of California wine, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard. A self-professed wine geek, he is a lover of wines with a sense of place. Grahm started out as a huge fan of Burgundy, hoping to create the Great American Pinot Noir. After realizing that Rhone varietals were better suited to the terroir of his Central Coast area, he became a pioneer of making California wine from Rhone grapes, even earning the honor of being considered the original “Rhone Ranger”!

Grahm is also credited with being the first California winemaker to use screw caps on premium wines! His belief is that wines with screw caps live longer than wines with cork, which can result in more complex wines down the road. This makes a lot of sense to me. He does admit, however, that premium wine under screw caps will not be ready to consume as early as those with corks, so for the majority of Americans who consume the bottle they purchase that very night, cork may still be the answer.

Our tasting included eleven wines from his Bonny Doon label, ranging from the 2017 Picpoul with a nose reminding me of a bouquet of flowers to his 2011 Cigare Volant Reserve which is aged in glass! I enjoyed pretty much all of them, but some of my favorites included:

2016 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare Rosé – A pretty pink in color (perfect for Valentine’s Day!), this wine tastes of strawberry, cranberry and a touch of grapefruit. This is a beautifully balanced wine, with a bit of creaminess on the finish without losing the acidity. Comprised of 49% Grenache, 19% Grenache Blanc, 13% Mourvèdre, 12% Carignane, 4% Cinsaut and 3% Roussanne, it’s darned difficult to stop drinking this. I’m planning on stocking up for the summer months ahead.

2014 Bonny Doon Proper Claret – This is an easy drinking wine at a great price point of about $16. With lots of bright cherry, some plum, and mellow tannins, this is a great wine to crack open on a Tuesday night. 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Petit Verdot, 22% Tannat, 9% Syrah, 7% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petite Sirah

2013 Bonny Doon Syrah Pousseur – This is the wine I’m sipping on as I write this. Made of 100% Syrah from 4 different vineyards, I love the trueness to the varietal this wine is. Olive and bacon fat on the nose takes me back to the Rhone Valley. There is a touch of violet too. On the palate is the bacon, along with spicy pepper, dark fruit, and a fabulous earthy garrigue element. This is a really nice wine, perhaps my favorite of the night!

And what a fun night it was! The wines were great and Randall Grahm’s presentation was fabulous! His intelligence shined through while discussing his past, present, and future in the wine biz. One of my favorite stories was his explanation of how he named the “Le Cigar Valant”, which goes back to a wacky 1954 law in Châteauneuf du Pape banning flying saucers and flying cigars! Yup … true story. Google it!

Another thing I took away from the evening was his sincere belief that his wine career has only just begun. At 64 years of age, he’s just getting started. I love that! His latest endeavor? Popelouchum, which he literally saw in a dream. Popelouchum is a 400-acre property in San Juan Bautista where he plans to breed 10,0000 new grape varieties in which he hopes to create a New World “vin de terroir”. My money is on him succeeding and I can’t wait to taste it!

As you’ve probably noticed, his wine labels sure aren’t boring either! Randall Grahm is definitely a fun figure in the sometimes-stuffy world of wine

To learn more about Randall Grahm and his wines, here’s a link: https://www.bonnydoonvineyard.com

 

Why Not Switchback To Merlot???

Why Not Switchback to Merlot???

I’m a merlot lover. I always have been. But man oh man can a movie turn things around. This classic varietal sure took a nose-dive in sales after the release of the movie “Sideways”, a 2004 hit set in Santa Barbara wine country. One little line uttered by Paul Giamatti, who played Miles (a wine lover celebrating his best friend’s bachelor party by touring the Santa Ynez area of California) changed everything! “If anybody orders merlot, I’m leaving,” he ranted. “I am not drinking any f***ing merlot.” Sales of merlot plummeted, but sales of pinot noir (Miles’ favorite varietal) skyrocketed!

Thankfully, things are changing. Merlot sales are steadily making a comeback, but to this day I meet people who won’t try a merlot I’m pouring. WHAT???? Yet many of these same people come back for a second pour of the Right Bank Bordeaux. Hmmmm …  I guess they don’t understand what “Right Bank” means!!!! Right Bank Bordeaux wines are dominated by Merlot (and Cabernet Franc), while Cabernet Sauvignon dominates their Left Bank counterparts. This tells me that people DO love merlot, they just don’t realize it!

So … I’m on a search for some fabulous Merlots to pour for my clients. I’ve found some gems, most recently the Switchback Ridge 2012!

This is a great Napa merlot! Dark purple in color, the nose has dark cherry and blueberry. The lush palate has the cherry, some plum and smooth, silky tannins. There is a lovely touch of mocha on the finish. This wine is simply irresistible and I can’t get enough of it! Bob Foley (of Robert Foley Vineyards) is the winemaker. HELLO!!!! Great winemaking. Great fruit. Great wine!!!

Okay, so I love the novel Sideways AND the movie!!! Please do me (and yourself) a favor, though. Don’t believe the crap about merlot! Don’t be afraid. Drink merlot! And why not start with Switchback Ridge?

You can check them out here: https://switchbackridge.com/

 

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