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Wine Hand-Me-Downs? They Can Be Great!

Wine Hand-Me-Downs? They Can Be Great!

My sister-in-law came over last night and brought me a partially consumed bottle of Chardonnay. “I didn’t like this, but I thought you might”, she told me. Hmmm. So tonight, I gave it a try.

I could see why she didn’t like it. She’s used to drinking big New World Chardonnays. Although this IS a New World wine, it has an almost Burgundian style to it. I’m a HUGE White Burgundy fan, so this makes me happy!

The grapes for the 2017 Vineyard Block Estate Chardonnay 807 Reserve are sourced from the Chalone AVA in California’s Monterey County. The soils here are rich in limestone, which brings that great minerality that helps make this New World wine seem a bit Old World in style!

The color is light straw. On the nose are Meyer lemon and apricot. The palate is well balanced with some green apple, tangerine, and a nice yeasty quality with results in a richness in the mouth, but not overwhelmingly so. There is no overpowering oak, and the finish has a nice light butteriness from the malolactic fermentation.

And the price??? Holy moly, what a great value! I found it online for anywhere between $17 and $27, which is great for a good Chardonnay

I love pairing Champagne and Chardonnay with popcorn, so I popped some up. Great choice. The corn brings out a nuttiness in the wine, and the butter on the popcorn pairs beautifully with the malo effect of the wine!

So, be on the lookout for this wine. I’m hoping my sister-in-law bring’s me some more “hand me down” wines she doesn’t love! If she does, I’ll let you know!


Pairing Your Childhood With A Wine? Heck ‘ya!

Pairing Your Childhood With a Wine? Heck ‘ya!

The other night I decided to pair one of my favorite wineries in Napa with a childhood favorite recipe.

I remember learning how to make a mini pizza with an english muffin in my junior high school home economics class. I took the recipe home, and my mom and I used to make them together.

I haven’t made them since. Fast forward 40 plus years. I was looking for some easy recipes to make on busy nights and could pair with a simple salad to make a meal. I remembered the English muffin “pizzas” I had made so long ago, and that they were pretty darned tasty and super easy to throw together. So, for a quick Sunday night supper I decided to give it another try.

I used whole grain english muffins for a healthy twist. I added some of my favorite marinara sauce, some onion, mozzarella and parmesan, and topped it off with some Italian seasonings and popped them in the oven. P.S. If you’ve never made these fun little tasty treats, be sure to toast the muffins first to keep them from getting soggy. Then add the sauce and whatever toppings you like, and put them in a 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes! As they say, easy as pie. Not that I think making a pie is necessarily easy!

Before beginning the “pizza” process, I had a bottle of 2015 Napanook decanting. Dominus is definitely one of my favorite Napa Valley wines. I’m a big fan of Bordeaux wines (who’s not???), so the Napa (New World) winery of Chateaux Petrus is definitely my style!

Napanook is Dominus’ second label. What is a second label wine? Well, 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.

The 2015 is a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. On the nose are plum, violet and notes of licorice. The medium plus body is silky and lovely to savor in the mouth. The plum is also on the palate, along with dark cherry, chocolate and a touch of spice. The tannins are super smooth and the wine is beautifully balanced. I could drink this wine every night!!!

Perhaps it wasn’t the perfect pairing with my childhood mini pizzas, but it worked. Plus, my husband and I had the rest of the bottle to enjoy as dessert.

There was only one thing better about the meal than this stunning wine; the memories I enjoyed of my mom and me making this cute little meal together. I only wish that she was still here so that she could have joined us!

To discover more about Dominus, Napanook and their wines, check out their website here:


A Great Day At Chappellet!

A Great Day at Chappellet!

Schewww! We just made it. In mid-February of 2020 we were fortunate enough to attend a fabulous long weekend of tasting in Napa with some friends. We tasted some of the best of the best that California has to offer. A few days after arriving home, the shit hit the fan. COVID 19. The world has changed. So many businesses have changed. The wine world has also changed greatly.

So, we feel blessed. We had one last great wine experience before the devastating pandemic that has killed so many people and changed so many lives!

One of the wonderful wineries we were fortunate enough to visit was the classic Chappellet! The gathering was delightful and memorable.

We’ve been opening a lot of gems during the pandemic, partly because we’re sad and also because we’re not going out and about to buy more wine. Tonight, we opened a 2010 Chappellet that we had in our cellar. What a lovely treat.

We decanted it for about 90 minutes. The blend is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 7% Malbec and 4% Petit Verdot.

This wine is drinking beautifully now. On the nose is earth, tobacco, and some stewed dark fruit. If I was tasting this wine blind, I might think it was an old world. There is dark chocolate, plum and licorice on the palate. The fruit is holding up nicely as well. If you have any bottles of this 2010, go ahead and enjoy them. It’s in a really nice place right now.

Napa is slowly opening up again, so don’t be afraid to head their way. Now that the vaccination is out, I’m hoping to travel again soon, and can’t wait for my next wine destination. Until then … I’m enjoying some gems from my cellar!

To learn more about Chappellet, here’s their website:




Which Wines To Pair With Decorating? You Choose!

Which Wines to Pair With Decorating? You Choose!

I’m a little crazy about Christmas. My husband and I absolutely love the holidays and we decorate our house from top to bottom. We love to relish in the festivities of December and the holiday season, and with everything going on this year we’re determined to make our house provide us with lots of joy!

After bringing up all of the boxes of decorations, we pick out a gem of a wine (or two!) to enjoy while beginning the long (but fun!) process of turning our Florida home into a winter wonderland.

This year we started with my favorite beverage in the world: Champagne!

I opened a bottle of the Baron-Fuenté Grande Réserve Brut. This non-vintage sparkler is light gold in color and has wonderful richness with some brioche yeastiness, meyer lemon, red apple, peach and a lovely nuttiness. I’m a lover of Pinot Meunier (one of the three Champagne varietals), which provides great fruit characters. I really dig this wine and at about $35 retail, this is a great bang for your buck! Great Champagne at this price point makes me very happy!!!

While we were sipping Champagne, I was decanting a bottle of 2013 Gramercy Cellars Syrah “Lagniappe” from the Columbia Valley region of Washington state. Gramercy Cellars produces some of my favorite wines of Washington. After decanting for about two hours, we were ready to pour. On the nose are dark fruit, violet and pepper. The palate??? OLIVES!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, how I love the olive flavors I get on good Syrah! Along with the olives are some smoked meat, black pepper, baking spices, black cherry and blackberry. There is definitely a lot going on in this wine. No wonder I love Gramercy so much!

The Baron-Fuenté Grande Réserve Brut and 2013 Gramercy Cellars Syrah “Lagniappe” were a great way to START our holidays! I’m looking forward to what the rest of the season has in store for us!





The Great (RV) Kentucky Race, To Reach Buffalo Trace!

The Great (RV) Kentucky Race, To Reach Buffalo Trace!

My husband and I are on an adventure. A few years ago, we bought an RV. We love to travel and have been to so many great places around the world but decided it might be fun to explore more of the U.S., with our dogs in tow!

Since then every summer we’ve taken 4 to 6 weeks to do some exploring, with wine, beer and spirits experiences along the way.

Due to the pandemic, we knew that our experiences may be limited this year but decided to give it a shot. Plus, the experts say that RV travel is one of the safest things to do right now. We are using our own bathroom, sinks, and kitchen in our RV for the whole trip, so we feel as if we’re doing this right.

This year our first destination was Lexington, KY. We stayed at the Kentucky Horse Park Campground and loved the experience. The grounds were well kept and the space between the RV campsites were generous. While walking our dogs we stumbled across the fact that we were parked right behind Rolex Stadium. What a treat to check that out.

Our main attraction for the area was to visit a distillery, OF COURSE!!!! We chose Buffalo Trace, not only because of its fine reputation, but also because it was one of the few open to the public.

Buffalo Trace did a great job using very thorough social distance procedures. We checked in for the tasting in a completely different building where we had our temperatures checked and were asked a bunch of questions. We were required to wear masks and waited in a secure area for the tasting to begin. Our appointment started right on time and we were escorted to a room where there were tables with one tasting flight per table and they were all safely apart.

The tasting itself was wonderful! Here’s what we tried:

Wheatly Vodka (Named after Buffalo Trace’s Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley, this vodka is made in small batches using Harlen’s one of a kind micro-still and a unique recipe of wheat and other grains. It is distilled 10 times, triple filtered and bottled at 82 proof.)

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon (This is their signature whiskey and has been made the same way for more than 200 years! It’s a smooth 45% ABV with a complex aroma and lovely on the palate. Think vanilla, brown sugar and baking spices. We bought a bottle of this and have been drinking it in our RV after stopping for the nights!)

Eagle Rare Bourbon Whiskey (This whiskey is aged for no less than ten years before bottled. Again complex, with vanilla and oranges, along with herbaceousness. The palate is glorious, and the finish has a touch of chocolate. We bought a bottle of this to save to share with special friends!)

Buffalo Trace Distillery Bourbon Cream (Okay, the game is changing here! I’m not normally a liqueur kind of gal, but this stuff is special. Who needs cake for dessert when a glass of this is available? During the tasting they had us drink half of our pour and save the rest to make a root beer float. More info below!)

Freddie’s Root Beer (This root beer is named in honor of longtime Buffalo Trace Distillery tour guide, Freddie Johnson. As a third-generation employee, Freddie’s is an old-fashioned soda made with natural herbs, real oil of birch and imported vanilla. During the tasting we added the Bourbon Cream. We of course had to buy these products as well, and my husband has had at least one “root beer float” a night since the tasting. He’s addicted to this concoction!)

Rebecca Ruth Bourbon Ball (We ended the tasting with a fun bon bon. Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory is a historic chocolatier in Kentucky. The story goes back to 1919 when two substitute schoolteachers ventured into the chocolate business. Being the inventor of the Bourbon Ball, Buffalo Trace was a natural partner to create these delightful treats!

The only bummer … no Pappy available for tasting!!!! LOL Believe me, we weren’t expecting it! I’m thrilled to say that it has been on my palate a time or two, and in my opinion it lives up to the hype!

Buffalo Trace is the oldest continuously operating distillery in America. They were even allowed to continue production during Prohibition to make whiskey for medicinal reasons. They are still family owned and located in Franklin County, Kentucky. Within the past decade, Buffalo Trace has won more awards than any other distillery in the world, including seven “Distillery of the Year” titles.

So, if you find yourself anywhere near Frankfort, KY be sure to schedule an appointment for Buffalo Trace. Even during these trying times, you can be sure that they are taking every precaution to keep people safe while enjoying some libation and fun!

P.S. If you’re in an RV, check out the Kentucky Horse Park Campground. It’s a gem, too!





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