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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!

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:

What Vintage Are YOU Celebrating?

A fun way for a wine lover to celebrate an anniversary of any kind is to crack open a bottle from that specific year. My husband and I did just that to celebrate our wedding anniversary a few nights ago. We were married in 2001, so we selected a 2001 Napa Valley Silver Oak to toast 15 years of marriage!

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I feared an over-aged thin wine with no fruit. Thankfully my fears were not founded AT ALL. The 2001 Napa Silver Oak is singing right now.  On the nose are cassis, cherry and some tobacco. The palate reflects the fruit and has beautifully integrated tannins. We were thrilled! We may need to hunt down another bottle for our 16th anniversary!

Interestingly, Silver Oak uses American oak for both their Napa Valley and Alexander Valley bottlings. The reason? They feel that American oak imparts less wood tannin than French oak! In fact, as of last year they have acquired full ownership of A&K Cooperage in Missouri. They purchased 50% in 2000, but feel that a full ownership will help them to maintain the barrel making standards they desire.

I love that Silver Oak waits to release their wines. While a lot of Napa 2013 wines have already been on the shelves for months, Silver Oak is just now releasing their 2011s.

I also love that Silver Oak has been using sustainable methods for 40 years! From the usage of solar, Integrated Pest Management and water conservation to obtaining multiple “Green” certifications and more, Silver Oak is one of the “good guy” wineries in Northern California.

To find out more about their Sustainability practices, along with their wines and winery, click here:

Walk the County Line, And Taste Some Fine Wine!

Pride Mountain has been one of my favorite Napa wineries for years now. Well actually, they’re not JUST a Napa winery! The Napa/Sonoma county line is on their property, and most of their wines are made with fruit from both AVAs.

Tonight my husband and I cracked open a bottle of their 2010 Merlot, comprised o 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. After about an hour and a half of decanting, the aromatics are lovely! Dark fruits including black cherry, blueberry and ripe plum burst from the glass. Accompanying the fruit are some cedar, tobacco and chocolate.

The palate reflects the fruit on the nose, with chocolate covered cherry, velvety tannins and some nice acidity that balances the wine beautifully. This wine is great with the cheddar cheese on which we’re nibbling. It would also be delicious with a full meal, or simply sipping on at the end of a hectic workday!

Be sure to schedule an appointment to visit this special winery the next time you’re in Napa or Sonoma. You’ll have the opportunity to go deep into the caves and experience some fabulous barrel tastings. Visiting Pride Mountain isn’t the typical “tour”. This is an extraordinary tasting. On one of our visits we were shown the actual county line that separates Sonoma from Napa, right where the crush pad is located.

Pride Mountain Vineyards is located on Spring Mountain. Their eighty-three vineyard acres on the Mayacamas Mountains are about 2000 feet above the floor of Napa Valley, providing many of their vines with a desirable southern exposure. The location also provides spectacular views for your viewing (and sipping!) pleasure.

To learn more, check out their website here:



My Favorite Red of the Day!

I attended a blind tasting yesterday with Master Sommeliers Andrew McNamara and Matt Stamp. Not only is it always very educational to taste with such knowledgeable wine pros, but it’s also a great chance to taste some nice wines!

My favorite of yesterday’s red flight was the 2010 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Brunello di Montalcino.

Brunello is a clone of the well-known Sangiovese grape. Sangiovese is Italy’s most planted single grape variety. It comprises 67% of Tuscan vineyard acreage and is the main grape in 25 DOC(G)s of Tuscany. Sangiovese is an ancient grape and tends to be genetically unstable and very adaptable. Because of this, many clones exist.

Brunello is thought, by many, to be the ultimate Sangiovese clone! Grown in the beautiful region of Montalcino, the grape tends to have thicker skins and more anthocyanin (plant colorants) than other clones of Sangiovese.  Therefore, the wine tends to be richer in color and deeper in tannic structure than say, Chianti, another wine made with the Sangiovese grape. 

The 2010 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Brunello di Montalcino is a dark colored wine with bright red fruit, tobacco, a touch of mint and some vanilla on the nose. The palate is wonderfully silky with great expressions of the fruit, especially tart cherry and raspberry, some spice, mouth-watering acidity and velvety tannins. The long finish of this elegant wine completes the deliciousness.

The 2010 vintage for Brunello is considered by many to be outstanding. So … if you happen to run across any of the Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona, grab them and lay them down for a few years. You won’t be disappointed!

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