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A Breakfast Beer??? Yes!!!

I may be a wine educator, but I’m also a lover of good beer. I was born and raised in Wisconsin, so it’s pretty much a given that beer runs through my blood. While growing up there was always a plethora of beer flowing at most social functions to quench the thirst of me and my fellow Wisconsinites!

I have some favorite craft breweries from my homeland, but there are so many great beers being brewed in all parts of the USA. Colorado is one of the hot spots and is ranked third in the nation for number of craft breweries located there. My husband was raised in Denver, so we visit quite a bit and are always sure to try some of their fine brews while there.

One of my favorites in Colorado (Denver, in fact) is Great Divide Brewing Company. While watching NFL football today I cracked open a bottle of their Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout. Wow. Pouring it into the glass it looks black in color with a dark brown foamy head. On the nose is lots of strong coffee, some dark chocolate and cocoa, vanilla and roasted barley. The palate has burnt coffee, chocolate, oaky vanilla and some caramel notes. The alcohol is 9.5%, but it’s nice and smooth and I certainly couldn’t tell! This is one darned good beer! In fact, I’d call it excellent!

The brewery suggests pairing this ale with cinnamon donuts with crème anglaise. OH MY!!!!!! That sounds truly heavenly! Another pairing they suggest is Chorizo breakfast burrito! I agree with them when they say “you can now have Yeti with breakfast”!

So … if you need to cleanse your wine palate with a beer break, or if you just love great beer, try Great Divide Brewing Company. You can check out this stout and all of their beers here:  http://greatdivide.com

Pair a Pinot With a Fall Salad!

One of my favorite things about wine is pairing it with the right dish. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m definitely not one of those “Pairing Police” who freaks out when someone wants to drink their favorite Merlot and they’ve ordered fish! I am a true believer in drinking and eating what one wants, whether it’s an “acceptable pairing” or not.

I do, however, appreciate that some wines taste better with certain dishes and vice versa! Plus, it’s really fun to try different wines with different foods.

Last night for dinner I made a wonderful vegetarian Cobb salad with Gala apple, crispy mushrooms, pecans, avocado and a creamy chive dressing. I paired it with the 2012 Weatherborne Pinot Noir from the Santa Rita Hills AVA, and it was a great match!

This Pinot is bright and fruity with snappy Bing cherry, fresh raspberry and plum, and pairs well with the wine-friendly Gala apple. Along with the fruitiness of the wine is also some great Old World-like earthiness, a perfect match with the oyster mushrooms. Roasted with smoked paprika and smoked Maldon sea salt, the mushrooms also compliment a smoky quality in the wine.

The wine itself is lovely and certainly doesn’t NEED food! I can definitely see myself sipping a glass of this on an upcoming fall evening while hanging out with friends by a fire. It would also be the perfect wine with Thanksgiving dinner!

Weatherborne Wine Corp is the child of Cris Carter who originally followed in his father, uncle and grandfather’s footsteps and planned to be a pilot. While studying at UC Davis his love of chemistry and his interest in wine ultimately prepared him for a life in wine! His 2012 Pinot Noir is his winery’s inaugural release, and the ’13 and ’14 are now available on his website!

Be sure to check out this winery, and stock up for Thanksgiving!

http://www.weatherborne.com

Who’s Looking for a GREAT Value Chardonnay???

Good wine isn’t always expensive. The chatter of fine wine needing to cost a lot of money often frustrates me. Do I love some pricey wines? Sure I do. But there is nothing better than finding a well-made wine for a great price!

My latest “find” is from Bouchaine Vineyards & Winery in the Carneros region of Napa Valley. The Carneros AVA is actually located in both Napa and Sonoma counties and has a nice cool climate that suits Burgundian varietals very well. I’ve visited their winery a few times and have tried a lot of their wines, so when I found their 2012 Estate Vineyard Chardonnay for under fifteen bucks, I thought that there must have been something wrong. Thankfully the wine wasn’t wrong … I was! 

This Chardonnay has bright acidity with lots of lime and green apple, a touch of oak and a finish that goes on and on. This is a great example of a Chardonnay that shows it’s true fruit and character at a very affordable price. I’m truly blown away with the value of this elegant wine.

Not only does Bouchaine produce great wines, they also have a very respectable history. Bouchaine Vineyards & Winery is the oldest continually operated winery in the Carneros wine region. The winery itself is lovely, with a big barn-like structure housing the tasting room (a warm, cozy area with a beautiful fireplace). French doors off of the tasting room lead to a beautiful deck and picnic area. Sitting on their deck and enjoying the stunning view of their Carneros vineyards is was the perfect way to end (or begin!) a day of tasting, so be sure to pay them a visit the next time you’re in the Napa area!

Find out more about Bouchaine here:  http://www.bouchaine.com

 

Looking for a Top Notch Wine Without Spending a Fortune?

Sometimes you just want to open up a really nice wine, but you don’t want to spend a fortune. Am I right??? That’s the perfect time to crack open a 2nd label!!!

Top wineries and chateaux blend together their best grapes’ juice to produce their best possible wine for the Grand Cru or “first wines”.  What do they do with the remaining juice???  Many of them make a second wine. Usually made by the same winemaker in pretty much the same way as the winery’s famous wine, the big difference is that the juice for the second wine is often from younger vines or the second press. Although these wines may not be as complex, balanced and sublime, they ARE a lot less expensive!  It’s a great way to try big name Bordeaux or other famous wines without the big time price tag.

One of my favorite wines out of Napa is Dominus. Yes, they have a second wine! It is called Napanook and is an estate-bottled wine from the iconic Napanook Vineyard in Yountville. And it is wonderful!

Christian Moueix (of Château Pétrus fame) and his Dominus team have been making this second label since 1996. Although it is made to drink young, it is a complex and age worthy wine that can be cellared for years.

The other night I cracked open a bottle of the 2012 Napanook. This purple colored wine has blackberry, black cherry and leather on the nose. The palate bursts with the dark fruit and has some licorice and baking spices. The blend is 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot, and the results are lovely! Although this wine is drinking very well now, I’m thankful to have a couple more bottles of the ’12 to see how it evolves.

So … if you’re looking for a fabulous wine from a top-notch producer but don’t want to go crazy with the price, remember to look into a second wine. Dominus’ “Napanook” is a great place to start!

This Maroon is 5 … Stars!

My husband and I cracked open a bottle of Napa Cabernet the other night and after the first sniff and taste we both exclaimed “WOW!!!!”

Having never tasted a Maroon wine before, we were certainly impressed from the start. After reading that Paul Maroon’s neighbor and mentor is Robert Craig (who produces one of my favorite Cabernet Sauvignons in California) I wasn’t surprised that I was so impressed by this 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Maroon Wines.

100% Cab Sauv from the Maroon Vineyard in the Coombsville AVA, the nose explodes with coffee, toffee, black cherry and ripe plum. On the palate is this fabulous chocolate covered toffee! Yum. The black cherry is there as well, with some ripe plum and just a tad of spiciness. This wine is very well balanced and is drinking beautifully now, but still has time for the cellar.

Although I obviously believe that what is INSIDE the bottle is what matters, I love the simple, elegant label that is … maroon in color, of course!

Paul Maroon purchased his 35-acre vineyard located in what is now the Coombsville AVA in 1990, with the 2000 vintage being his first release.  The Coombsville AVA was officially designated in 2011 and is one of the rising Napa sub-appellation stars for Cabernet Sauvignon. Wines like this 2009 is a great example of why this area is definitely going to go places!

For more information on Maroon Wines, here’s their link: https://www.maroonwines.com

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