About Matt.mmwine

Sommelier, wine writer, and overall Motor Mouth, I appear on various TV shows, host local wine events, and write about wine, food, cocktails, family & more!
Website: http://agoodtimewithwine.com
Matt.mmwine has written 193 articles so far, you can find them below.

About Matt.mmwine

Sommelier, wine writer, and overall Motor Mouth, I appear on various TV shows, host local wine events, and write about wine, food, cocktails, family & more!

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Here are my most recent posts

Pairing Napa Cellars 2009 Chardonnay with Sauteed Shrimp

Napa Cellars 2009 Chardonnay

Napa Cellars 2009 Chardonnay

I’ve always been of the opinion that two things enhance the enjoyment of drinking wine, food and friends. The mission of my writing has always been to make wine more approachable, which includes helping my friends make well informed choices in their wine selections. When my twitter friend Richard Auffrey issued a call to action for wine writers to step up our game in 2011, my response was to post more relevant food and wine pairing to help you have a good time with wine.

A tweet from the folks at Food Network inspired a mid-week quick and easy meal of sauteed shrimp.  Their idea was to saute shrimp with garlic, and deglaze the pan with Champagne.  A simple enough idea, and one that included wine or Champagne, so I was quite excited.  I knew I had a host of wines to pair with such a dish, so I prepared the following recipe:

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 medium cloves of garlic, chopped
2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 to 1 cup of Sparkling wine (you can use a California Sparkling Wine or Italian Prosecco, Cava, or a Champagne)

In a large saute pan, I heated the olive oil on medium for about 4 minutes, then added the chopped garlic to saute for about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring the entire time.  I then added the cleaned shrimp, and sauteed them until pink, about 5 minutes. You want to ensure you don’t over cook the shrimp, or they’re rubbery. Cut one open and ensure the inside is pink and no longer the translucent white. Once they’re done, take them out of the pan and put them in a serving dish. Pour the sparkling wine into the pan, and deglaze, ensuring the crusty bits come off the bottom of the pan.  Stir for about three minutes, as the wine will reduce and thicken, mixing nicely with the flavors in the pan.  Pour over the shrimp, serve over pasta, rice or on it’s own, and pop a cork.

This dish could have gone with quite a few wine options, but I selected a bottle of Napa Cellars 2009 Chardonnay, which cost around $24. After giving the bottle a few minutes to open and breathe, the bouquet of ripe pears pops out of the glass, followed by a little creme brulee.  There are even scents of sweet white floral mixed in with those pears, and it’s a great nose. The palate is light to medium body, and is a good mix of buttery and crisp. Some of the wine goes through malolactic fermentation, which will produce the buttery, heavy mouth feel in a white wine like chardonnay. However since not all of the wine went through “malo”, it retains some of the crispness chardonnay can show. There is good fruit, apples and pears,  and spice right up front, with some nice toast, but not over done as you can find in “Over Oaked” chardonnay. There’s a lingering smokey spice flavor on the finish, but it’s warm and inviting, not overbearing.

There are some great examples of Napa chardonnay on the market, and I truly believe that this Napa Cellars 2009 Chardonny is one of them. Winemaker Joe Shirley, head winemaker since 2007, is a California native who’s doing some nice things at Napa Cellars. He worked at Sonoma Cutrer in the late 90′s, which almost typifies buttery California Chardonnay. At $24 for the Napa Cellars 2009 Chardonnay, it’s quite nice when compared to chardonnay in the same price range, such as Paraiso’s Chardonnay, which I also enjoy and have brought to various TV segments to recommend.

Don’t think that chardonnay only pairs with foods prepared with Shrimp. I love chardonnay with chicken, from baked to fried to roasted. As a matter of fact, this Napa Cellars Chardonnay sample came with a recipe for Chicken Saffron Brochettes with Spanish Chorizo. YUM, we’ll have to make that and discuss in the future! And of course, lobster, whether boiled and dipped in drawn butter, or in a lobster roll, is a natural pair for most California chardonnay. What is your favorite food and wine pairing with chardonnay? Leave a comment below, I’m dying to know.

A Look a Red Wine Blends from Chile

Tasting Wines of Chile

Tasting Wines of Chile

As a wine writer, it  is sometimes difficult to know exactly what your audience will want to read. Do they want to know about wines that are fruity,  jammy and just easy to drink? Do they want to know about complex wines that have multiple layers of flavors or perhaps need food to be enjoyed? One thing I know, almost everyone drinking wine is focused on its quality to price ratio or QPR. I recently participated in an event that allowed me to taste some wines from Chile, typically known for it’s QPR wines. These wines ranged from $15 to $50, which may push the envelope for QPR wines, but they definitely were worth trying.

In the fourth such event, the PR folks from Wines of Chile sent eight wines, this time blends of different red grapes, to sample and write about. Over 40 wine writers had the opportunity to join Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer as he moderated a video conference with the eight Chilean winemakers in  Santiago, Chile. We had an absolute blast not only talking, but also joking with the winemakers to learn about them and their masterfully made wines. We had a fun time sipping and tweeting, and now writing about wines I’m excited to share with you.

Valdivieso Eclat 2005

Valdivieso Eclat 2005

The first wine of the evening was the Valdivieso Vineyard 2005 Eclat, from the Maule Valley. A blend of 56% Carignan, 24% Mourvedre and 20% Syrah, this wine retails for about $27.  The winemaker, Brett Jackson, was one of the only non-Chilean wine makers at the video conference, as he hails from New Zealand. The wine’s bouquet was bursting with lush red berries, fresh, and was very inviting. The palate was full and silky, with more earthy and spicy notes than the nose eludes to. It was the lightest of the eight wines, though full bodied, and even though it was aged 12 months in French Oak Barrels, the oak flavors were well integrated in the wine. I loved that Carignan was the predominant grape in this blend, as it’s often a subordinate blending grape. Carignan lends this wine it’s deep ruby coloring, and is typically high in acidity, making it a great food wine. You can throw a steak at this wine, and enjoy, though the winemaker recommends soft meats such as lamb, turkey, fish, or lightly sauced pasta.

De Martino Las Cruces 2006

De Martino Las Cruces 2006

The next red blend wine comes from the De Martino winery, founded in 1934 in Isla de Maipo, Chile. The blend of 66% Malbec and 34% Carmenere comes from a single vineyard planted in 1957 in the Cachapoal valley. While Malbec is a grape most associated with Argentina, Chile’s neighbor on the other side of the mountains, I’ve seen some great offerings from Chile. Wine Maker Marcelo Retamal has been with De Martino since 1996, and is very focused on the Terrior, or the location to grow the right grapes. The wine’s nose has a fantastic mint component, while the palate was a silky smooth symphony of great, dark flavors, subtle fruit and sweet spices. No flavor competes with another, and they work beautifully together. I found this wine very easy to sip on, and it worked nicely with the steak I had that evening.  The winemaker suggests pairing this wine hearty dishes such as lamb or venison. The De Martino Single Vineyard Old Bush Vines “Las Cruces” 2006 retails for about $45, and while not an inexpensive wine, I thought it was a wine worth trying at the price.

Estampa Gold Assemblage Carmenere 2008

Estampa Gold Assemblage Carmenere 2008

Our third red blend of the evening was the Estampa Gold Assemblage Carmenere 2008, from Colchagua Valley, Chile. A blend of 57% Carmenere, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot, this dry red wine worked best with food. Winemaker Ricardo Baettig has been with Estampa since 2004, and his wines have earned quite a few awards. I noticed the nose, which was sweet red fruits reminding me of Hubba Bubba bubble gum with some woody brambles underneath, was nothing like the palate. The palate was very earthy, with tobacco and leather coming through. The wine was very typical Carmenere, which is a favorite varietal of mine, and was quite dry. The Estampa Gold Assemblage Carmenere retails for about $22.

Montes Liited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere 2008

Montes Liited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere 2008

While the Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere 2008 was the most inexpensive wine of the evening, it’s price was certainly not indicative of quality. Montes makes a number of different wines at different quality and price levels, and I’ve enjoyed many of them. Winemaker Aurelio Montes Del Campo joined the winery in 2007, and has a history of making premium wines in Chile. This 2008 Montes Limited Selection is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Camenere, and was aged in American oak for 6 months. The nose may be a bit awkward for some, and I can only describe it as a barnyard smell, but in a sexy way.  Think earthy, organic scents, almost primal in nature. Pair that with the palate of great earthiness, amazing spices, and subdued fruit, and you’ve got a very interesting wine at $15. One of the interesting notes of the tasting, Montes plays classical music in the barrel aging room 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and practices Feng Shui. Whatever they’re doing, I think it’s working!

I’ve got four more wines to discuss, but I’ll save them for tomorrows post.  I’m curious if you’ve had any of these Chilean wines before, and if so, your thoughts. If not these Chilean wines, how about sharing the last Chilean wine you had, even if it wasn’t a red blend! I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Sparkling Wine Selections for Your Holiday Party


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Conventional wine wisdom dictates you should always have a bottle of bubbly on hand, as you never know when cause for celebration will arise. That wine wisdom holds especially true at this time of the year, as we celebrate holidays, family gatherings, and of course, ringing in the New Year. Fortunately, there are a number of options available in every price range, so serving your family and friends a delicious sparkling wine is nearly foolproof. Whether a Champagne, a Cava, or a sparkling wine from Napa, pouring the perfect bubbly is simply a cork pop away.

Champagnes , and sparkling wines made in areas other than Champagne, France,  come in a number of sweetness levels. The most common levels are Brut, Extra Dry, and Sec, with Demi-Sec and Doux rounding out the five levels. Each denotes how much sugar is in the sparkling wine, with Brut being the most dry with less than 1.5% sugar and Doux being the most sweet with over 5% sugar. Today we’ll discuss Brut,  Extra Dry, and Sec options.

J Vineyards & Winery Cuvee 20 Sparkling Wine

J Vineyards & Winery Cuvee 20 Sparkling Wine

Our first selection comes from J Vineyards & Winery, the Cuvee 20 which is a Brut sparkling wine from the Russian River Valley appellation in Sonoma California. A blend of the three grapes Champagne can be made from, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, this dry sparkling wine has great flavors.  Dry on the palate, there are crisp lemon citrus flavors with a typical yeasty, doughy note. There’s a light floral and nut note as well, and the sparkling wine is fresh, crisp and clean. Perfect on it’s own, the J Cuvee 20 will pair nicely with appetizers or little bites, whether smoked salmon and caviar or popcorn and french fries. This wine can be found relatively easily, and retails for about $22.

Lamberti Prosecco Extra Dry Sparkling Wine

Lamberti Prosecco Extra Dry Sparkling Wine

Our next selection is the affordable Lamberti Prosecco from Vento, Italy. For about $14, the Lamberti Extra Dry Prosecco has a fabulous crisp palate, with flavors of lemon zest and amazing bubbles. Even though it’s an Extra Dry, there’s very little sweetness, and it must be on the cusp of Brut / Extra Dry. This is definitely a great option to offer as an aperitif, a little bubbly to serve to your guests as they arrive and get comfortable at your gathering. Perhaps a little less widely available, you should be able to go into any reputable wine store and ask them to order this, as the importers Frederick Wildman are fairly well known.

Mumm Napa Cuvee M Sparkling Wine

Mumm Napa Cuvee M Sparkling Wine

Rounding out our sparkling wine selections is the Mumm Napa Cuvee M. The sweetest option offered today, the sparkling wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Meunier. You’ll taste fresh peaches and tangerines on the palate. There are also secondary notes of vanilla and honey, yet for all of it’s sweet flavors, this wine is far from cloying.  Perfect for the holidays, your guests will want to toast you again and again with this sparkling wine in their glass. Also perfect as an aperitif, the Mumm Napa Cuvee M is flexible enough to pair with spicy foods as well as creamy desserts.  This wine can be found in a broad range of stores, and retails for approximately $20.

Looking for the best sparkling wines for the holidays, whether a Champagne such as Pol Roger, or a Cava such as Rondel? While these certainly will fit the bill,  I’ll have a few additional selections available on my website in the coming days.  Cheers.

My PinotMoment – Best Pinot Ever?

Domaine Pierre Damoy 2000 Chambertin Clos de Beze

Domaine Pierre Damoy 2000 Chambertin Clos de Beze

I could not tell you the first time I fell in love with Pinot Noir. I’ve written about various Pinot Noir wines on the blog, and I’ve loved most, if not all of them. I’ve also not written about hundreds of other Pinot Noir bottles that I’ve enjoyed with family, friends and .. well .. alone. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting J Christopher’s Appassionata Vineyard, a joint venture with Dr Loosen in Oregon, producing spectacular Pinot Noir. I’ve also had the pleasure visiting Hahn Family Wines, which not only makes great Pinot Noir, but in 2008 was the first live video streaming tasting I did as a blogger. Those two fabulous wineries were actually part of the catalyst for making me fall in love with Pinot Noir again.

J Christopher and Appassionata pinot noir

J Christopher and Appassionata pinot noir

I actually visited both Hahn and J Christopher in the same week, which was also the week of my 40th birthday. My much better half, Robin, planned a fantastic birthday dinner, and it was during this dinner that my love for Pinot Noir was rekindled, or perhaps set ablaze. The meal was at Casanova in Carmel by the Sea, an old house turned into a restaurant that serves European food, Italian, Spanish and French styles. The menu is full of amazing dishes, and Robin and I had the best meal of our lives that night. Additionally, the wine list is quite impressive, and they do have a sommelier on hand to help with selections. After we selected our main courses, Robin having cannelloni with meat sauce, and I ordered rack of lamb, I slowly poured over the wine list.  There were a few 1970′s, and I was tempted to order one. I resisted however, and settled on what would be one of the most amazing bottles of wine I ever had. I selected a Domaine Pierre Damoy 2000 Chambertin-Clos de Beze, a Burgundy red made from, of course, Pinot Noir.

I will be the first to tell you that it’s often the experiences around a wine that makes the wine so good. The company you enjoy it with, the festivities surrounding it’s pouring, that’s what makes the wine so good. Of course, the wine maker and the grapes play a role, an important one, but the situation can take a mediocre bottle of wine and make it good, and a good bottle of wine and make it fantastic. Damoy makes great wine, and has for years. If you’re a ratings follower, Spectator has rated the Chambertin-Clos de Beze 90+ every year since 1998. However, it wasn’t just the grapes in the glass that made this wine spectacular.  It was pouring the right wine, with the right people, at the right time, that made it sing that evening.

Hahn SLH Pinot Noir

Hahn SLH Pinot Noir

The wine was a perfect fit for both dishes. It harmonized delightfully with the pasta, as well as the lamb. It was of feminine character, reminding me rose petals laced with black pepper, and was soft and sensual and inviting. We could have sipped on a second, and probably a third bottle, and enjoyed it well into the night. It was positively perfect, and I would love to get my hands on some to savor at a later date. However, what made this my PinotMoment was the fact that I was with someone I love, doing something I love, celebrating life. And that’s what wine is for me, something I love, and a way to celebrate life. So, raise your glass and toast to life with me.

Why not leave a comment below. When was the last time you had a Pinot Noir? Or celebrated life with wine? What’s your PinotMoment?

Is this wine refrigerator for you

New Air 12 bottle wine fridge

New Air 12 bottle wine fridge

When the good folks at Air and Water Inc asked me to review a wine refrigerator, I was very hesitant. I wanted to be sure that if I was not crazy about the unit, I could pass on the review. Instead, they were so confident that I’d be satisfied with the 12 bottle wine refrigerator they sent me, they told me to simply write honestly, regardless of my opinion. I admired that, and agreed, especially since I have friends asking me to recommend wine storage units all the time. This compact unit fit on my kitchen counter, which is a huge feat in a tiny house from 1940. The video below gives you nearly everything you need to know about the wine refrigerator and if it’s the right unit for you.

This unit may not be not the cheapest 12 bottle wine cooler you’ll find online, though that should NOT be your main criteria for buying a unit like this. The wine refrigerator I reviewed costs $159.99 from Air and Water, with a $30 price break right now making it $129.99. Additionally, using the code GOODTIME will help you save 10% if you decide to purchase the unit. The $30 price break has been online for about three weeks now, and an email from their marketing department stated the price for the unit is $129.99. As always, buyer beware, so check the price before you order.  I also checked the Better Business Bureau, and they are a BBB A rated company, and have been in business since 2001.

I liked the look of the unit, black with a stainless steel front. The temperature controls are simple enough, with an up and down button and a digital readout. I can’t vouch for their construction, and whether or not they’ll be able to go the distance. However, I recommend setting the unit at 55 degrees and leaving the controls alone.  Using multiple thermometers, I concluded that the temperature outside read 55 degrees while inside it read 51 degrees. Being a few degrees off won’t be detrimental to your wine, as this cooler is really meant for storing wine for serving, not long term storage. There was little to no vibration, and the fan was relatively quiet. Perhaps a little louder than a computer fan.

If you’re looking for a wine refrigerator, this may work for you. Again, I wouldn’t recommend it for long term storage for a variety of reasons. First, there’s no way to control the humidity, which is important for long term wine storage. Additionally, for long term storage I would want to be sure the temperature was at a constant 55 degrees with little to no chance for fluctuation. As the video noted, there was a quite a variation in temperature during my demonstration.  However, if you are looking to keep wine on hand, whether to get and keep it it at serving temperature for a party, or to always have a bottle ready to go when company pops over, then a wine refrigerator like this is perfect.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to ask them below. I’m quick to reply to comments, and appreciate them greatly. I threw out a lot of concepts at the end of this post, including temperature, vibration, long term storage. I’ll have to follow up, soon, with why those matter to your wine.

Pass The Turkey – another Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon cocktail

Pass the Turkey by SkyySpirits

Pass the Turkey by SkyySpirits

Today, we’ll make a Thanksgiving holiday cocktail created by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer called Pass the Turkey. The recipe will be after the short video below, where I make it with you.  It contains Wild Turkey Bourbon 101, and some other Thanksgiving related ingredients.

Bourbon, which was declared as a “distinctive product of the United States” in 1964, has mysterious origins dating back to the late 18th century. Some attribute it to a Baptist Minister Elijah Craig, others to Bourbon County, KY distiller Jacob Spears. Regardless of it’s origins, bourbon is a spirit with very strict guidelines to make it that distinctive US product. It’s believed that some 90%+ of the world’s bourbon is indeed distilled and aged in Kentucky, though it can be made anywhere it’s legal to distill spirits.

Bourbon is made of at least 51% corn, though typically the mixture is 70% corn and the remainder being wheat and/or rye and malted barley. The distilled mixture is typically 80% alcohol, or 160 Proof, and it must be aged in new, charred oak barrels. What ends up in the bottle has been aged for various lengths of time in the oak, which gives it the color and flavor, and is always a minimum of 80 proof, or 40% alcohol.

Bourbon is of course, a whiskey, similar to Scotch, and is identified with the US as Scotch is identified with Scotland. Bourbon has a variety of taste characteristics ranging from apple and brown sugar to leather, smoke and even acetone. The length of aging and many other factors affect the taste of the bourbon, and the drinks they make.   Bourbon can be enjoyed alone (neat), on ice, or with a variety of different ingredients to form your favorite cocktail. I’ll try to create these and more in the coming months, and have you saying Pour Me Another!

Pass the Turkey

Pass the Turkey
Created by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer

1.5 oz Wild Turkey 101
2 oz apple cider
1 tbs cranberry jelly
1 sprig fresh sage
1 sprig fresh thyme

Muddle sage and thyme with apple cider. Add ice, top with Wild Turkey and cranberry jelly. Shake well, strain over ice in a glass rimmed with turkey jus and breadcrumbs.

Matt note: i took the leaves of the thyme and sage off the stems before muddling.

Thanksgiving Cocktail – Wild Turkey Bourbon Manhattan

Wild Turkey Bourbon Manhattan

Wild Turkey Bourbon Manhattan

All wine and no cocktail makes Matt a dull boy.  And variety is the spice of life. So, I’m interrupting our regularly scheduled wine post for one or two about cocktails for the holidays.

The good PR folks that represent Wild Turkey sent me a sample of their Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon. Not afraid to mix a cocktail, I pulled up a recipe for a Wild Turkey Bourbon Manhattan. I selected this cocktail based on the fact that I had all of the ingredients in the house, and I happen to enjoy Manhattans! I’ll list the recipe below the video, where I show you how easy it is to make. It’s a great Thanksgiving Cocktail, or a cocktail to pair with a cigar, or just drink on it’s own.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you like bourbon? Have you tried wild Turkey? Did you try the Manhattan? What cocktails would you like to see me post? Wishing you and your family Happy Holidays. Until next time, Pour Me Another!

Wild Turkey Bourbon Manhattan

Wild Turkey Bourbon Manhattan

2 parts Wild Turkey 101
1 1/2 parts sweet vermouth
1 dash bitters

Stir well with cracked ice and strain into a Manhattan or chilled martini glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Recipe and photo provided by Skyy Spirits (www.skyyspirits.com)

Forget Blondes-Bloggers have more fun

Wine Bloggers Ward Kadel, Matthew Horbund, and Thea Dwelle At Hahn Tasting Room

Wine Bloggers At Hahn Tasting Room

I don’t care what Rod Stewart says, it’s the bloggers that have more fun. Specifically the wine bloggers. We take our task of tasting, discussing, discovering and sharing wine seriously. However, we have a ton of fun doing it. We have fun when friends come over to taste wine with us. We have fun when we join others at wine events and dinners. However, perhaps the most fun the wine bloggers have is when they visit Hahn Family Wines in Santa Lucia Highlands, California. Don’t get me wrong, a visit to any winery elicits excitement and fun for a blogger (or any sane person), but Hahn has something that makes it very special, the Blogger’s Block.

During the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference, a number of awesome winebloggers, including friends Thea Dwelle and Ward Kadel, pictured to the left, had the opportunity to not only visit Hahn Family Wines, but each had the chance to plant their own grape vine. They planted a block of Grenache,which they will one day help harvest and make into wine. And while they wine may not make it to your glass, it will certainly grace the lips of a lucky wine lover.

Wine Bloggers with Hahn Family Wines Vineyard Manager Andy Mitchell

Wine Bloggers with Hahn Family Wines Vineyard Manager Andy Mitchell

This May, I visited Hahn to film a television segment for Daytime, a nationally syndicated morning show. It happened to coincide with the Santa Lucia Highlands 4th annual Gala event where 30 wine makers showcase their latest vintages to adoring wine lovers. The good folks at Hahn decided to make it a Trifecta of Wine Love, and invited the bloggers back to see their vines. The bloggers also had the chance to tour the property, with a guided tour by Vineyard Manager Andy Mitchell, who discussed the various soils, grapes, and even the avocado grove. The tour ended at the blogger block where Hahn Wine Maker Paul Clifton opened a few bottles of Hahn Grenache and treated the bloggers to a taste of what their vines will someday become, delicious wine.

Hahn Winemaker Paul Clifton

Hahn Winemaker Paul Clifton

The fun didn’t stop at the blogger block, however. Next, the entire group made their way back to the Hahn tasting room, and had the chance to join the Santa Lucia Highlands Gala, and enjoy the wines made from the various wineries of the appellation.  Below you can watch the segment from Daytime, to see the fun that the bloggers had.

I don’t want you to think that only the wine writers can have this much fun. You can too! The Santa Lucia Highlands have a number of fantastic wineries and vineyards to visit. I had the chance to visit Hahn, Paraiso and Pisoni and not only tour their wineries but also meet the fantastic people behind the wines. In the coming weeks I’ll write a little about those visits, and also share the television segments we made of their fantastic families, farms and wines. I’d love to help you plan your next visit to California wine country. Then you can have fun like the bloggers do! After all, it’s A Good Time With Wine!

The Bloggers of Blockers Block

The Bloggers of Blockers Block

There were a number of other wine writers there. I hope I don’t miss any, but they included

Tim Beauchamp

Russ Bebe

Larry Chandler

Brix Chicks Liza and Xandria

Some more photos of Hahn and the Santa Lucia Highlands Gala