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!

Find more about me on:

Here are my most recent posts

Lost In The Cellar – Chateau Tanunda 2008 Shiraz

Chateau Tanunda - Barossa, Australia Wine

Chateau Tanunda – Barossa, Australia Wine

When someone says Australia, is the first thing you think of a boomerang? Or perhaps it’s Paul Hogan saying “That’s a knife.”  If you’re like me, you think of wine! There is great wine coming from Down Under, and most of it is very affordable and approachable. From the Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz I looked at last week, to today’s look at the 2008 Chateau Tanunda “Grand Barossa” Shiraz, Austrailia offers some great wines, and under $20!

I believe I received this bottle of Chateau Tanunda 2008 Shiraz as a media sample back in 2011. I recall a blogger event where we tasted and tweeted about three wines, and they rocked. However, I saw this at the back and bottom of my wine cellar last week, so maybe I bought it after the event. Either way, this was a good bottle of wine for $15, even if it’s two vintages old!

Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa 2008 Shiraz review tasting notes

Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa 2008 Shiraz

Tasting the Chateau Tanunda “Grand Barossa” 2008 Shiraz

Aged in mature French oak for 18 months, the Chateau Tanunda 2008 Grand Barossa Shiraz has a dark garnet/red color, and a medium viscosity in the glass. The aroma is vanilla, blueberries and sweet cinnamon. The palate is full bodied, with medium to low acidity, but is not flabby. Even with two years age, there is big, bold bursting red and black berry fruit. Though the wine can sit in the cellar for at least two years, perhaps up to five, it’s drinkable and approachable right now. It’s a simple, easy drinking wine, and for $15-18, it makes a perfect burger wine! This vintage of the Chateau Tanunda Shiraz was rated 92 points by Wine Spectator and #33 in Top 100 Wines of 2011.

Though I’ve never visited, a friend of mine here in Florida tells me the property is the most beautiful vineyard in Australia. She’s a transplanted Aussie, so I take her word for it. Chateau Tanunda is Australia’s oldest Chateau, and the site of the very first vines planted in the Barossa in 1845. The Chateau and vineyards are privately held by the Geber family.

Are you a fan of Australian Shiraz? Tell me about your favorite by leaving a comment below!

Thrilllist forces a Sommelier to try Two Buck Chuck

If you subscribe to the Thrilllist website, or Thrilllist on twitter, you no doubt saw the article about the recent Two Buck Chuck wine tasting. I tweeted the link, and had more than a few of my friends say they’d never drink it. Frankly, I wouldn’t either. I know that it’s supposed to be drinkable, and I have not tried it in years to say whether or not it’s currently any good. What I do know is that there is plenty of budget friendly wine to be had. I’ve recently looked at Bordeaux wines under $15, and they rocked. Here is a 2012 TV segment I did with Suzanne Boyd from CBS 12 WPEC here in West Palm Beach. It’s a focus on wine under $10.

If you want the list and tasting notes of the wines featured in this TV segment, you can read my original article on wines under $10. I have a few wines that I would recommend now to replace some of the original wines.I ‘ll have to refresh my budget picks, as I feel there are a number of much better wines between $8 and $15 on the market recently. 

What is your favorite budget friendly wine? 

Pairing Beef Jerky And Wine – It Works!

Beef Jerky from House of Jerky paired with red wine and white wine

Beef Jerky from House of Jerky

In this family, we all love beef jerky. Given that love for jerky, when asked if I wanted to pair some House of Jerky products with wine, I figured it would be a blast. I was sent a number of samples, 13 in total, of House of Jerky’s line of products. There is a variety of meats- boar, buffalo, venison, turkey, beef, as well as seasonings including black pepper, sweet & spicy and HOT. I’ve already reviewed the seven wines to pair with jerky or smoked meats. So, lets get to the jerky and wine pairings.

WHO IS HOUSE OF JERKY?

Ron and Janie opened their first jerky store in 1996. They had been making jerky for years, and basically selling it on the road side. They believed in their product, and had a vision to deliver the best jerky in the house to your house. Starting with one 100 square foot store, they expanded to an 800 square foot store within a year. House of Jerky now has over 20 retail locations across the US. I really like the quality of the products overall. I was a tad concerned about the price, as it’s higher than the mass produced “Jerky” you get at Walmart. However, some comparison shopping between premium jerky brands show they are competitive with other jerky makers. There is even a fairly popular grocery store brand that ounce for ounce is the same price.

A Recap of the Seven Wines

  1. Jip Jip Rocks Shriaz 2011
  2. Eberle Syrah 2011 Steinbeck Vineyard
  3. Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2011
  4. Domaine Mas du Bouquet 2010 Vacqueyras
  5. The Biltmore Riesling
  6. Tenimenti Ca’Bianca Moscato 2010
  7. Leitz Weingut 2009 Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Spätlese

WHAT JERKY DID WE TRY?

House of Jerky offers a wide variety of beef venison buffalo turkey jerky

House of Jerky offers a wide variety

  • Black Pepper Beef, Buffalo, and Wild Boar Jerky – All three meats have a big soy flavor, a little salt, and not a big pepper punch. I found the buffalo nicer than the beef for my tastes, with the wild boar right behind it. It has good chew, medium pull , and great flavor.The Black Pepper options sing with the Eberle Syrah 2011, as the salt and soy bring the fruit of the wine out very nicely. The Domaine Mas Du Bouquet is ok with the black pepper jerky,  though it’s a bit too soft and feminine to stand up to the salty soy flavors.  The Leitz Spatlese Riesling seems fresher and fruiter paired with this option, while the Bitmore Riesling takes on a interesting smokey flavor. The Ca’Bianca Moscato also works really nicely, perhaps best with the black peppery buffalo jerky.
  • Teriyaki Beef Jerky - The texture was a bit less dry than the Black Pepper options, which I liked. The palate has a sweetness, which was ok with the Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz. Paired with the Seghesio Zinfandel’s berries and spice flavors, this jerky seemed a nice pairing. However, it was the Eberle Syrah that took on 100% different characteristics.  After a bite of the jerky, the wine shows amazing coffee flavors, with tobacco and dark cherry, but no spice.
  • Teriyaki Turkey Jerky - Similar to the beef in flavor, with a little more pull/chew, this was a favorite of mine. The Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz worked best with this jerky. The approach was lackluster, but the spice on the finish really packs a whallop, and that black pepper balances the sweet marinade. The Eberle Syrah works ok, though the fruit is gone, perhaps some tart black cherry, and an earthy leathery tobacco.
  • Teriyaki Buffalo Jerky - This jerky had much less pull, and was a little less dry than the beef. The flavor was similar to the previous two, though not as sweet. The Eberle was really the only wine that paired with this option. The fruit is dry and dusty, and the spice is nice and warm on the palate. 
  • Sweet and Spicy Beef (and Turkey) Jerky – These options were similar, just with different chew to them. The Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz can’t tame the spice, it’s a blow your head back kind of power. The Seghesio Zinfandel was really nice, but not for the weak tongued. The spice and pepper is ripping when pairing the two. Eberle Syrah seems to like these jerky options, the fruit is present, it keeps the spice under control but doesn’t kill it. The Domaine Mas du Bouquet is dusty and dry, showing violets and almost no fruit, but it does integrate with the spices. 
  • HOT Beef (and Buffalo) Jerky - great pull and great chew, not super dry, and the heat is big – boom! The best pairing was the Ca’Bianca Moscato, as the white flowers and honeysuckle just pair perfectly with the heat of this House of Jerky option. Even a few minutes after the sip, the heat from the jerky shows, but the wine is still in harmony with it.
  • Natural Style Beef Jerky  - This sample was a little more dry than all the others. The flavor that came through most was soy (sauce).

I’ll say this – the HOT jerky, it’s hot. You need to be a fan of hot foods! Of the Black Pepper Jerky options, the buffalo and wild boar were better than the beef in my opinion. They had a nicer black pepper flavor, where as the beef had a big smoke/soy flavor that took center stage.  I really liked the pull and chew of the wild boar best of the three. And, I can say I was eating wild boar! WIN!

As for my favorite House of Jerky products, I really liked the Teriyaki Turkey and Buffalo jerkys. They weren’t salty or very soy based, and had a touch of sweetness. My next favorite was the Sweet and Spicy options, because the balance between the two flavors was fun.

How about you? Are you a jerky or smoked meat fan? Let me know what wine you prefer with your smoked meats by leaving a comment below!

Seven Wines To Sip While Gnawing On Jerky

What Wine Pairs With Venison Jerky?

What Wine Pairs With Venison Jerky?

I love pairing wine with food.  When Janie from House of Jerky asked if I would like to sample their jerky products to pair with wine, I jumped at the chance. Thirteen different types of jerky arrived! A variety of meats- boar, buffalo, venison, turkey, beef, as well as seasonings from black pepper to sweet & spicy to HOT. There is so much to cover, I’ll talk about the specific jerky and wine pairings in a separate post. Here, we will take a look at the seven wines I selected to sip while enjoying  jerky.

WHAT RED WINE DID WE PAIR WITH THE JERKY?

Four Red Wines To Pair With Beef Jerky

Four Red Wines To Pair With Beef Jerky

Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz 2011:

I was drinking the heck out of the 2005 vintage of this wine back in 2008. Dark garnet in the glass, the bouquet of the Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz 2011 is mixed black and red berries, with some spice scents. A jammy palate up front, with bold fruit flavors of blackberry and raspberry. The mid-palate turns to cooking spice and pepper, but they disappear on the finish rather quickly. Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz 2011 is big jammy fruit, though there is good spice to balance, followed by a little menthol on the finish. For $16.99, it was a decent wine.
review Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz 2011

Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz 2011

Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2011:

Zinfandel works nicely with smoked meats and Bar-b-Que. The Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2011 has a dark garnet to purple color, and a bouquet of  blackberry and licorice with subdued vanilla, raspberry, and strawberry scents. The palate is full, with the spices and red fruit come on fairly powerfully at the approach. There is a great spice and pepper on the mid palate to the finish, with a very long lasting christmas spice/baking spice component. There are great notes of vanilla from the oak aging, as well as cola flavors throughout the palate. For $20, a very nice wine.
review Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma 2011

Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma 2011

Eberle Syrah 2011:

Hailing from Paso Robles, California, but very French in style, the Eberle Syrah 2011 has a dark garnet color, with a very subdued nose; spice and tobacco along with raspberry blueberry on the bouquet. The palate has great depth, earthy tobacco and leather wrapped around dried spiced berries. There is a beautiful warming spice on the palate that offers a very lengthy finish. Another very nice wine at $20.

review Eberle Syrah 2011 Steinbeck Vineyard

Eberle Syrah 2011 Steinbeck Vineyard

I was fortunate to meet Gary Eberle when I visited Paso Robles in 2011. He is a bear of a man, in size and in presence. His stories captivated the group, from bringing French vines to California in the 1970s to flying his own plane. It was an honor to meet him, as well as Steve Lohr of J Lohr, Ken Volk of Kenneth Volk Vineyards, and Stephan Asseo of L’Aventure.

Chatting with Gary Eberle About Wine

Chatting with Gary Eberle About Wine

Domaine Mas Du Bouquet Vacqueyras 2010:

The fourth red is from Vacqueyras, an appellation in the southern Rhone Valley of France. Domaine Mas du Bouquet 2010 Vacqueyras is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre, or GSM.  A soft bouquet of dried red and black berries, the palate is very soft, dried blueberries, and violets. This $19 wine was given a  90 point rating by Wine Spectator, though I don’t find it as intense and racy as their notes suggest. I find it a bit more floral and feminine, and perhaps there is a bit of bottle variation to consider.

review Domaine Mas du Bouquet 2010 Vacqueyras

Domaine Mas du Bouquet 2010 Vacqueyras

 

After trying some of the spicier jerky from House of Jerky with the red wines, I decided we needed a bit of white wine in the mix. The red wines would often keep the heat going, which is great if you LIKE heat. I, however, like to balance the heat with the fresh fruit and florals of the white wines I selected. The white wines in this article were provided as samples. As always, my reviews of wines are not influenced by the fact they were provided to me.

WHAT WHITE WINE DID WE PAIR WITH THE JERKY?

 

White Wine To Pair With Beef Jerky

White Wine To Pair With Beef Jerky

Biltmore Riesling (NV) American

The Biltmore Riesling

The Biltmore Riesling

I’ve paired Riesling with spicy foods in the past, it works nicely. There is a host of delicious riesling available, from all over the world. For the HOT and Sweet & Spicy Jerky pairings I went with The Biltmore Riesling. This wine had a nose of peaches, with slight citrus aromas. The palate was thick, honeyed with gentle peach and nectarine flavors. There was a little acidity on the finish, but not sharp by any means. For $10 at Total wine, it was a pleasant wine. The semi-sweet palate would appeal to those who are not fans of dry white wines. While there was no vintage on this wine, it was harvest in 2010. Wines labels with an American appellation are not permitted by law to carry a vintage date on the label.

review Tenimenti Ca'Bianca Moscato D'Asti 2010

Tenimenti Ca’Bianca Moscato D’Asti 2010

Tenimenti Ca’Bianca 2010 Moscato

I was absolutely enthralled by this $16 bottle of Ca’Bianca 2010 Moscato. I was at first dismayed that the nose was rather non-expressive. However, this slightly frizzante wine has a crushing palate! Cascading flavors of white peach, white flowers, and sweet honey dance all over the tongue. There’s no noticeable acidity, and the frizz is fun. This light and crisp wine is perfect for those who like fresh fruit, or prefer sweet wines. The Ca’Bianca 2010 Moscato was perfect with the spicier jerkys.

Leitz 2009 Rudesheimer Berg Rottland Spatlese Riesling

review Leitz 2009 Rudesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling Spatlese

Leitz 2009 Rudesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling Spatlese

The last wine of the wine and jerky pairing is another Riesling, this one from Germany. The Leitz Weingut 2009 Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Spätlese is a brilliant hay yellow in the glass. A zippy nose of petrol and peach/stone fruit. The palate is medium bodied, with ripe peach and apricot, and a hint of acid that’s playing hide and seek with the super fresh fruits in the glass. The Leitz 2009 Riesling is heavier than the other whites, though less sweet, even though it’s a late harvest wine. This $33 wine was cellared for two years, and that likely toned down some of the acidity and freshness.

These wines all work well with a variety of foods, or on their own. Coming up, you’ll see which of the House of Jerky products the wines compliment best.

 

 

Malbec and Meatloaf – Pairing Trivento Malbec Reserve 2012

It seems as though everyone is drinking malbec these days. I’ve had dozens of friends ask for recommendations over the holidays. Heck, even my ex-wife said it’s her and her husband’s favorite wine, and I don’t think she drank more than three glasses of any wine in the 9 years we were married! Therefore, I’ve been trying to drink a little more of the red wine that most often comes from Argentina. A sample of Trivento Malbec Reserve 2012 came my way, and I was having meatloaf, so I figured why not take a quick look at the wine.

wine review trivento malbec reserve 2012

Trivento Malbec Reserve 2012

Tasting Notes For Trivento Malbec Reserve 2012

Hailing from Mendoza, Argentina, the Trivento Malbec Reserve 2012 is a fair example of the grape at a fair price. When you sip a $10 wine, you don’t expect angels to descend from the sky with trumpets, singing hymns as your tastebuds die and go to heaven. However,  you don’t want to feel as though drinking it would make Fred Sanford proud. The aroma of the Trivento Malbec Reserve 2012 is blackberry and briars, surrounded by a bit of meaty, cherry spice. The palate is an earthy, leather wrapped berry. There are medium tannins, and this is a dry wine that has a little spice and cedar mixed with some tobacco. A fair red wine for $10.

Pairing Trivento Malbec Reserve 2012 with Meatloaf

Pairing Trivento Malbec with Meatloaf

What Wine Goes With Meatloaf?

With the meatloaf, the Trivento Malbec takes on a smokey, coffee flavor. It’s a very dark wine, and there’s not a ton of fruit. This is a wine where the earthy notes come through, such as tobacco, leather, and cedar. The meatloaf recipe came from The Barefoot Contessa. We love Ina Garten, and her recipe for 1770 House Meatloaf rocked our socks off. It came from Ina’s book Foolproof, and perhaps I’ll share the recipe in the future. This was one of two wines we paired with meatloaf that night, so there’s still a look at the other red wine to come.

 

Malbec is a grape not only found in Argentina. It’s origins are believed to be French, often found in Bordeaux and Cahors, though thought to have originated in Northern Burgundy.  I’ve taken a look at Malbec from Chile in the past, and it was amazing. I’ve also recommended another malbec from Argentina on a CBS12 TV segment.

 

What is your favorite malbec? Leave a comment below, and let me know which producer of this red wine from Argentina is in your glass!

 

Dear Restaurants- Step Up Your Wine Game

Newly renovated Il Bellagio in West Palm Beach

Newly renovated Il Bellagio in West Palm Beach

Robin and I don’t go out to eat very often. Since we cook fairly well, and always have amazing wine on hand, why settle for something subpar? And, when we do go out to eat, it’s usually the same two or three places with unique menus, and a great wine list, or a corkage fee. However, after a fairly favorable meeting that will likely lead to a new job after my three month lay-off, we decided to go out. We stopped into the newly renovated Il Bellagio restaurant, which reopened a week ago in City Place here in West Palm Beach. The place was packed, so we decided to give it a shot.

The renovations were nicely done. Frankly, the place looked exponentially better than it had our last visit in November 2012. Oh, and thank you Foursquare, for keeping track of that information. The new bar looked great, a funky design and well lit, with two new wine coolers designed to keep the wine at (we hope) the proper temperature. However, that is where my excitement about wine stopped. Perusing the wine list, and specifically the by-the-glass list, I was so disheartened, I could have wept. In a restaurant that offers a price point of $30 per dish, you would think they could up their game just a little, and not offer low quality wines like Cavit by the glass.

Now, listen, there’s no doubt that Cavit has a market. There’s a big market for budget focused wines. And, some of them aren’t half bad. Robin drinks Barefoot Chardonnay as our “house wine”, and not just because I think winemaker Jennifer Wall is awesome. However, I find something insulting about restaurants pouring a $5.99 grocery store bottle for $7 or so a glass when their cuisine goes for $30 a plate.

I would think that any restaurant that wants to provide an exquisite dining experience would offer wines equal to the quality of food they serve. I know there are monetary factors involved, but I can’t believe it’s impossible to find a $7 or $8 by-the-glass wine that isn’t an insult to a customer’s sense of taste. As a restaurant, you are the sum of your parts. If your food and wait staff ROCK, but anything you try to drink with your food is terrible, you’re not doomed, but you’re in pretty poor shape. Try to offer your guests the best experience possible, and that includes what they drink with their meals.

Now, Il Bellagio has a half decent selection of by the bottle wines. There were at least two under $50 that were decent. However, we weren’t up for two glasses each, so that didn’t work for us.  Our meals themselves were fine. I just wish the poor wine selection didn’t leave such a bad taste in my mouth.

How about the wine list at your favorite restaurant? Are the by the glass options good? Or do you just love the food so much, you choke it down without wine?

 

I Vasari – An Italian Red Wine Worth 20 Bucks

Italy

Italy

One of my goals for 2014 is to focus on Italy. Not only wine from Italy, but food, architecture, travel, and culture. Some of those things I’ll write about, and others I’ll just enjoy quietly. Of course, I love food and wine from around the world. However, a new collaboration with Lora from Cake Duchess has me thinking about Italy more than anyplace else right now. I started this Italian goal on New Year’s Eve by sipping a very nice Italian red wine, the I Vasari Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2008 Old Vines from Fratelli Barba. Winner of Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri award in 2012, this Wine Spectator 90 point,  $20 wine has a lot to offer.

italian wine review I Vasari 2008 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Old Vines from BARBA

I Vasari 2008 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Old Vines from BARBA

What is Montepulciano d’Abruzzo?

Dissecting the label on this bottle of wine, the name of the wine is I VASARI, it was produced in the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC region of Italy. The Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo DOC region spans from the Central Apennines foothills down to the Adriatic coast. It’s one of Italy’s most mountainous regions. The grape Montepulciano is a red Italian wine grape variety that is widely planted in central and southern Italy. It’s rarely found in cooler northern Italy, as it typically ripens later, and needs the warmer weather to ripen sufficiently. To carry the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC designation, the wine must be at least 85% Montepulciano, the rest can be the same or Sangiovese. The I Vasari is 100% Montepuciano grapes. Finally, the producer is BARBA, which you find on the bottom of the label.

I Vasari 2008 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Tasting Notes

After decanting about 30 minutes, the I Vasari 2008 had a bright purple color in the center of the glass to a purple/garnet outer ring. The nose was not very expressive, dried cherries and tobacco. The palate was dry, a medium body with medium to firm tannins. There were flavors of leather, dried cherries, and a tiny hint of white pepper. The finish was a mix of dried cherries and pine needles.

I Vasari grapes are from a single vineyard called Colle delle Corte, which is at 230 feet above sea level. The vineyard overlooks the Adriatic sea in the Colline Teramane, some of the finest growing area for Montepulciano in the entire region. The vines in this vineyard are, on average, 30 years old. The wine is aged 14 months in French oak, 50% new and 50% used, though it’s well integrated in the flavors of the wine.

Wine Pairings for Surf and Turf I Vasari montepulciano d'abruzzo and pol roger champagne

Wine Pairings for Surf and Turf

We sipped this wine while enjoying our New Year’s Eve dinner of Surf & Turf. The meal was a slow one, and over the hour or more that we savored each bite and sip, the wine opened up rather nicely.  The dried cherry flavors became much more prominent, while tobacco and new found graphite or mineral notes seemed woven into the fruit. The last sips were indeed savored, and I would give this wine 1 to 1 1/2 hours in the decanter before serving. The I Vasari Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2008 is a nice, old world wine that for $20, works very nicely with a steak dinner.

What part of Italy would you like to visit? Leave me a comment, and perhaps we can explore it together! Cin Cin!

 

 

Setting Wine Related Goals in 2014

Ring in the New Year with Pol Roger Champagne

Ring in the New Year with Pol Roger Champagne

Cheers, and Happy New Year! I hope 2014 finds you and your family happy, healthy and prosperous!

For me, I’m not making resolutions this year. I’m only setting goals. Some easy, some lofty, but all targets I plan on hitting! The first is to pass the Certified Sommelier exam in April 2014. The second is to make my new business, Crushed Consulting LLC, very successful. I have other wine related goals, that I’ll share and explore with you as 2014 unfolds. What is your most important goal this year? Leave a comment below, and lets help each other stay on track!