skip to Main Content
Christmas Magic In Alsace!

Christmas Magic in Alsace!

My husband and I just returned home from a magical vacation in Alsace. Our goal was to drink some good wine (of course!) and to visit the world famous Marchés de Noël (Christmas Markets) in the region. This charming region in France certainly did not disappoint!

Located in the eastern part of the country, Alsace is very close to both Germany and Switzerland. In fact, the Rhine River runs along the region to the east, and the Vosges Mountains to the west, making it an ideal spot for growing wine grapes.

Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris rule here, but they also have a bit of Pinot Noir.

The wine I’m focusing on today, though, is the Vin Chaud! The many Christmas markets in the region all sell this hot mulled wine full of spice and much-needed warmth. You can get a cup of red or white. The wine is steeped in the spices to infuse the flavors without using heat because the heat used in that process can evaporate the alcohol (and what fun would THAT be?) and bring out unwanted flavors from the wine. One vendor even had some Vin Chaud spiked with Grand Marnier! That was my husband’s favorite!

The markets also have fun rides for children and loads of traditional French food like crepes, pastries, marzipan and tons and tons of chocolate! And of course, there are lots of trinkets, ornaments, and gifts to take home.

We stayed in the small storybook village of Riquewihr, where we strolled the market and shops every day and evening. This quaint village took us back in time, and we fell in love with the town and its people. The locals go all out during the holidays. Every timbered building is adorned with Christmas decorations galore, and we felt as if we were in the most Christmassy (is that a word? If not, it SHOULD be!) place in the world!

We also ventured out to the village of Colmar. Much larger than Riquewihr, Colmar has FIVE fabulous Christmas markets, as well as an indoor farmer’s market (Le Marche Couvert de Colmar) with a delightful coffee shop called Un Monde de Cafés, lots of fresh produce, pastries, and other delicacies.

Colmar is nestled among vineyards, with colorful buildings alongside the canals, Christmas decorations and fabulous cafés making this a magical place indeed.

Colmar is considered the “Capital of Alsatian Wine”, so you can count on plenty of cozy spots to duck in for a glass of Cremant d’Alsace or other types of Holiday cheer!

The region of Alsace certainly does the Yuletide right! If you’re a lover of all things Christmas and looking for a magical spot to relish in the season’s spirit, you can’t go wrong in Alsace.

You’re sure to find Christmas magic in this real-life fairy tale land!

 

 

http://www.noel-colmar.com/en/

https://noel.tourisme-alsace.com/en

 

Romancing With Romorantin!

Romancing with Romorantin!

Have you heard of the Romorantin grape? It’s a white grape that has been grown in the Loire Valley since the 16th century. It makes a crisp wine that has great minerality and acidity. DNA profiling has determined it to be the offspring of Pinot Meunier (of Champagne fame) and Gouais Blanc (an ancient white grape rarely grown today).

The Cour-Cheverny appellation is situated within the larger Cheverny appellation, which is the most important zone in the middle Loire.  It was promoted to full Appellation Controlee status in 1993.  The wines made from Romorantin make up its own appellation (Cour-Cheverny) which is only about 48 hectare.

I’ve had wine from the Romorantin grape a few times now. Back in June of 2012, I wrote a blog about the 2007 Domaine des Huards Cour-Cheverny. At the end of that blog entry, I told you that if you had any in your cellar you should drink it up. I was wrong!!!!

A gal that works for Domaine des Huards sent me an email back in June of ’12, telling me that in fact Romorantin can be aged for 10, 15 and even 20 years without a problem and that it, in fact, gets better with age. I had one more bottle, so I held on to it. Boy, I’m glad I did. I opened it a few nights ago with my husband, and it is drinking beautifully!

In my initial blog, my tasting notes were pear, mango citrus, and almond on the nose, with some green apple and a bit of mushroom on the palate.

Fast-forward five and a half years, I now get melon rind, fresh spring pea, almond, and saline, which tells me that this wine would be a killer pairing with seafood as well as many types of cheese, salads, pasta with cream sauce, vegetarian dishes, and much more. The color is a gorgeous deep golden!

I like this wine more now than I did five years ago, and I liked it then too! So what do I wish? I wish I had a few more bottles of this wine in my cellar so that I could try it again in another five years!

If you’d like to learn more about Domaine des Huards you can check them out here: http://www.domainedeshuards.com/en

Looking For A Great Napa Cab? Check Out Piña!

Looking for a Great Napa Cab? Check out Piña!

I have a new favorite winery in Napa. It’s not a fancy place, but that’s okay with me! The wine’s not cheap, but it’s definitely worth the price! They don’t make a gazillion different wines with a bunch of different varietals, but in my mind that makes sense!

Piña is located right on Silverado Trail, but if you’re not looking for it you’ll drive right by. The tasting room is the barrel room, which I love! To me there’s nothing more special than tasting wines amongst the barrels holding future vintages of the wine I’m drinking. Sure, the lavish tasting rooms are lovely too! There’s just something I adore, though, about the rustic authenticity of hanging out in the gut of the winery!

I’ve visited Piña a couple of times now and have had great tastings each time. Claire has helped us out both times, and although his initial impression is somewhat reserved, he opens up quickly and loves to tell us all about their wines. He even seems to enjoy our company and laughs at our jokes!

Tonight I’m drinking their 2012 Wolff Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. On the nose I smell roses: a dozen roses!!! This medium-bodied 100% Cabernet Sauvignon has smooth, silky tannins, with black cherry, black currant, some lovely earthiness and is not over the top with new world hugeness. The alcohol is 14.7% but you’d never know it. It’s not hot at all and is very well balanced. I look forward to trying more of this vintage after a few more years in the bottle!

This isn’t their only Cab Sauv! They have five different vineyard bottlings (all fabulous!), as well as a Reserve (which unfortunately I have yet to try) and a Second Wine called CAHOOTS. They also have a Chardonnay that my husband loves!

So the next time you’re in Napa and looking for a new (for you) winery to visit, be sure to stop at Piña. The experience is a fun one, and if you’re into Cabernet Sauvignon, their wines won’t disappoint!

To find them, check out their website here:

http://www.pinanapavalley.com

On The Road Again!

On The Road Again!

I love road trips! I especially enjoy road trips that include a fun new beverage experience. Now we all know that Florida isn’t known for its wine, but there are a lot of great craft breweries popping up in the Sunshine State! My husband and I hit a couple last weekend while on our latest road trip to the Jacksonville area. My favorite of the trip??? Aardwolf Brewing Company!

Housed in a really bitchin’ old building that used to be a railroad icehouse (located in the Jacksonville’s trendy San Marco neighborhood), the atmosphere is enough of a reason for a visit. The beer??? Oh yeah … more than an added bonus!

John started out with a glass of their White Russian Stout (which ended up being my favorite of the night) and I started in on some flights!

Okay, I need to admit right here and now that we tried a bunch of different beers that night. That’s the great thing about flights though, right??? You get to try a little of everything. Well, sadly not EVERYTHING, as they have a lot of choices.

The beers that I tried that I remember best include:

Hopped Be Thy Name – I’ve been really into IPAs lately, and this doesn’t disappoint. It’s a well-balanced Double IPA with lots of citrus along with a nice creamy mouth feel!

San Marco Sour – Along with the IPAs, I’ve also recently been getting a kick out of trying sour beers. It’s a new thing for me, but not for the world! Sour beer is actually the oldest type of beer in the history of beer! Before brewers completely understood the whole pasteurization and sterilization thing, pretty much all beer was somewhat sour. Add to that, nowadays most of the well-known beers are made with specific yeast strains, not the native yeasts of yesteryear! More and more people (both in the beer world and the wine world) are using native yeasts, which can make the beverages very interesting indeed. Aardwolf’s San Marco Sour is golden in color (in fact, it looks a lot like orange juice!) with a palate of tart unripe peach and pear. It’s sour, but not TOO sour. This beer is the perfect thirst quencher for a hot Florida day. To me, it’s the beer equivalent to a nice Sauvignon Blanc!

4 Year Anniversary Beer Rye Barley Wine – Okay, so I’m a wine pro not a beer pro, and this ISN’T wine, but it is really tasty! The color is dark amber and it tastes of caramel and toffee. I could definitely drink a lot of this, but at 9.7% ABV … I should probably be careful!

White Russian Stout – Oh wow, how I love this dang beer! I can’t get enough of it. We bought three Crowlers (32 oz. can, not to be confused with a Growler) to go, but I wish I could just install a tap in my house with a direct supply! It’s super creamy on the palate with roasted coffee, chocolate, and an almost sweet vanilla bean. It’s oh so rich, smooth & silky. I absolutely adore this beer, can you tell???

Although they have a fun outdoor patio at the entrance, we bellied up to the bar when we got there and the service was phenomenal.

The vibe is really cool here, they have really great beer, AND they’re dog friendly!!!!!! How great is that? They’re also kid friendly, so there are no excuses to not pay them a visit.

Check them out here: https://www.aardwolfbrewing.com

 

 

 

Wanna Join Me On The Albariño Train?

Wanna Join Me on the Albariño Train?

Are you looking to change up your wine world a little? Do you seem to be ordering the same glass or bottle of wine pretty much every night you go out? There are over 1300 varietals of grapes in the world used commercially for making wine, so why not take a risk and try something different?

If you’re searching for an alternative to Chardonnay, check out Albariño!

Rías Baixas, a region in the Galicia region of Spain, is located in the northwestern corner of this beautiful country between Portugal and France. This area has a cool & wet maritime climate, which isn’t the norm for Spain, but is exactly what Albariño likes!

At the moment I’m drinking a 2015 Vieira de Plata Albariño. I’m drinking it at an appropriate time, as Albariño is meant to drink young. This pale straw colored wine has lots of orange blossom on the nose. The juicy palate has yellow apple, tangerine, some saline and gobs of minerality. There’s also lots of lime and lemon! I kind of feel like I’m drinking “grown up” lime/lemonade! Yum!!!

Why do I think Albariño might be a fun alternative to Chardonnay? It’s full of aromatics, it has creaminess yet with mouthwatering acidity, and it pairs well with a wide range of foods! Add to that, it also works as a great aperitif at the beginning of the night!

Heck, I’m a lover of a good Chardonnay, as you’ve probably noticed in my previous blog entries. With a vast array of wine grapes in the world, however, I love to change things up and try fun and different things!!! Come along for the ride and check out some new wines! At only about $18 a bottle, you can’t lose with the Vieira de Plata Albariño! Cheers!

Back To Top