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 198 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

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!

Extra Dry versus Brut Champagne – Which Is Drier?

Mumm Champagne in the Desert - Photo: Nick Smith http://nicksmithphoto.wordpress.com/tag/mumm-champagne/

Mumm Champagne in the Desert – Photo: Nick Smith

You don’t like Champagne, I know. You’ve told me before that you don’t enjoy drinking a glass of liquid as dry as a desert. However, it could be that you don’t like dry Champagne, and there are other types of sparkling wines to be had. Don’t let the fact that brut Champagne isn’t your palate stop you from toasting with bubbles on New Year’s Eve.

The question I’m asked most often about Champagne for New Year’s Eve isn’t which to serve. I am always asked “Is extra dry Champagne more dry than Brut Champagne?” It’s confusing, because it’s EXTRA dry, isn’t it? No, unfortunately, it’s not. Another myth about wine dispelled. Extra dry is actually more sweet than Brut Champagne.  HUH?

What Does Dry Wine Mean?

When people talk about a dry wine, they’re talking about how much residual sugar (RS) is in the wine. Therefore, knowing the classifications of sweetness when it comes to Champagne will help you pick the right sparkling wine for your palate. People sometimes confuse the fruit flavors in a wine with sweetness. However, a riesling could be considered “bone dry” because it has no residual sugar, while still possessing flavors of super ripe peaches and nectarines. It can be confusing.

What Are The Sweetness Levels Of Champagne?

From most dry to sweetest the following terms express the sweetness of Champagne

Extra Brut > Brut > Extra Dry > Sec > Demi-Sec > Doux

In terms of Sugar content, Extra Brut has less than 3 grams of sugar per liter of wine, while the more common Brut Champagne has between 3 and 12 grams of sugar/liter. Extra Dry, a bit sweeter than Brut is between 12 and 17 grams of sugar/liter. Sec contains 17 and 32 grams, Demi-Sec between 32 and 50 grams, and Doux has more than 50 grams of sugar per liter. I’ve not found a lot of Doux dessert Champagnes in stores, though the sweet Demi-Sec Champagne can certainly be found.

Can You Recommend A Sweeter Sparkling Wine?

Mumm Napa Cuvee M sweeter sparkling wine

Mumm Napa Cuvee M

There are a host of Champagnes and sparkling wines that will tickle your sweet loving tastebuds! Most recently I enjoyed the Mumm Napa Cuvee M sparkling wine. For about $18, and very widely available, this 90 point Wine Enthusiast rated sparkling wine offered great fruit flavors, and a hint of sweetness.  A slight pink hue, the palate has flavors of baked apple with a little Granny Smith tartness, mixed with a touch of sweet baking spice that makes a brief appearance. The Granny Smith sweetness finishes clean and crisp, and there are excellent, persistent bubbles. While there is a warm toasty finish, this really all about fresh, ripe apples. You could pair this sparkling wine with the Harry & David inspired pear tart I created, or see what blogger Wine Harlots pairs with her Cuvee M.

Additionally, I’ve previously written about The Biltmore Pas De Deux sparkling wine. This is another sweeter sparkling wine for those who prefer a sweeter sip of bubbles. 

Now that you’re armed with an understanding of which Champagne is sweet enough for you, don’t be afraid to pop a cork or two this New Year’s Eve. Let me know what bubbles will tickle your nose as you count down to 2014 by leaving a comment below!

 

Mumm Champagne in the desert photo ‘borrowed’ from Photojournalist Nick Smith

Dessert wine paired with Harry & David’s Organic Pears + Giveaway

French Style Pear Tart using harry and david's organic pears

French Style Pear Tart

While any day is a good day for dessert, a holiday is the best excuse to enjoy it with a dessert wine. When Harry & David asked if I’d like to host a giveaway (end of this post) of one box of their organic Royal Riviera pears during the holidays, I knew it would be a great excuse to make an easy but delicious dessert, and pair it with some sweet wines. I asked friends for a pear tart recipe, something to remind me of the one I had when in Paris. My friend Linda gave me this easy, 5 ingredient recipe that came out perfectly. I then paired three different dessert wines, and euphoria ensued.

Harry and David's Organic Royal Riviera Pears are non-gmo fruit

Harry and David’s Organic Royal Riviera Pears

The most important ingredient for the tart, of course, is the pears. They need to be perfectly ripe, sweet, juicy, and healthy. Harry & David’s organic Royal Riviera pears were just the ticket. These pears are included in just about every Harry and David gift basket, and like most tree fruit, they’re not genetically modified (non-GMO). Harry & David’s 80th anniversary is next year, and they still use all natural grafting methods, instead of genetically modifying the seeds. Though Harry & David did provide the pears for this post and the below giveaway, I have been a loyal customer personally as well on a corporate level for years.

To make the pear tart, you just need five ingredients:

2 Harry & David’s Organic Royal Riviera Pears (substitute different quality pears if you MUST…)
1 sheet Frozen Puff Pastry Dough (a rectangle that is about 12 x 8 is ideal)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (I improvised and did 3/4 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp all spice)

Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pasty was perfect

Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pasty was perfect

For the tart “crust”, I went with a frozen puff pastry dough from Pepperidge Farm. It was not the size and shape I wanted, but it worked just fine.

Before you start cutting and layering, mix up the sugar and spice ingredients in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Slice the stem and very top off of the pears and then slice the pears in half lengthwise. Then, use a paring knife and cut out the core. Next, place the pear flesh side down, and slice lengthwise about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.

Slice then core the Harry & David Organic pears

Slice then core the Harry & David Organic pears

 

Slice the harry & david organic pears in 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide pieces

Slice the pears in 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide pieces

Once the pears are cut, unfold the dough, placing it on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

The Pepperidge Farm dough was about 9″ square, and I traced a border of about 1″ around it with a butter knife. Be sure not to go all the way through the dough. This 1″ border will cause the ends to puff up around the filling when cooking, and create edges around the pears. I would have preferred the dough’s width be about 8″, and then the 1″ border would have made for a much more narrow tart.

I was a little skeptical at first that tracing a thin border would create the puffed edges, but it really worked. WHO KNEW?!

cooking with harry and david non-gmo organic pears Trace a 1 inch border around the dough

Trace a 1 inch border around the dough

Next, begin layering your pear inside the center of the dough. Be sure the larger end of the pear is closer to the traced line, and have the pears overlap. Try to use the smaller outside pieces of pear first, as a bit of a base. That way, the longer pieces will line up nice and upright. Be sure you don’t leave too much space between the pieces.

Layer your Harry and David pears inside the center of the dough

Layer your pears inside the center of the dough

Once your pears are layered nicely, being sure not to leave too much open space in the middle, while not going over the border, sprinkle the sugar mixture on the top. Place the tart in the refrigerator while you preheat the oven to 400. It should stay refrigerated about 20 minutes.

Sprinkle your Harry and David pears with the sugar mixture

Sprinkle your Harry and David pears with the sugar mixture

After the 20 minute refrigeration, place your pear tart in the oven. Set the timer for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, reduce the oven temperature to 350, and set another timer for 10 minutes.

When the timer goes off, if the crust isn’t golden brown and crisp, give it a few more minutes. Once finished, remove from oven and let cool. Now, on to the dessert wine!

Dessert Wine Perfect for a Pear Tart!

Dessert Wine Perfect for a Pear Tart!

Pairing wine with sweets has one general rule: your wine must be as sweet or sweeter than your food. If not, the wine may taste muted or bland after tasting the dessert. That said, I’ve selected a trio of dessert wines to pair with the tart. They each come from a different region, and are made with different grapes. I will say that the Sauternes from the amazing Chateau Coutet pictured above was not opened for this tasting. It was a full sized bottle, as opposed to the typical 375ml half bottle you’ll find for white dessert wines. I therefore chose to open another, quite delicious bottle of Sauternes to avoid any waste of the Chateau Coutet, since I was the only taster.

Pairing Harry and David Pear Tart with Anakena Late Harvest 2008 dessert wine

Anakena Late Harvest 2008 dessert wine

Hailing from Chile, the Anakena Late Harvest 2008 ($20) was the least sweet of the three wines. However, it was still a perfect pair with the pear tart. Made with 85% Viognier and 15% Muscat of Alexandria, the Anakena Late Harvest 2008 was not heavy on the palate, and still a bit crisp. The nose and palate were delicate white floral and dried apricot, with decent acidity. It’s not as  heavy or viscus as a Sauternes, and there are no honey notes that are found in the other two options. However, this is definitely the best dessert wine pairing if you are not typically a sweet wine drinker.

pairing harry and david pear dessert with Les Petits Grains 2011 Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois

Les Petits Grains 2011 Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois

From the South of France, I paired Les Petits Grains 2011 Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois ($15) with the pear tart. Made with muscat grapes, the Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois uses the noble Muscat a Petits Grains variety of grape, different than the Muscat of Alexandria in the Anakena Late Harvest wine, though from the same family. The commune of Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois was named after it’s famous muscat wines in 1936, and was originally Saint-Jean-de-Pardailhan.  The bouquet of the Les Petit Grains 2011 was unimpressive, and perhaps a little plastic. However, the palate is much different. A very viscous wine, there are delicious floral and honey flavors mixed with spiced orange rind, and laced with dried apricots that dance on the palate. This was an excellent option to pair with the Harry & David Royal Riviera Pear inspired dessert.

Chateau de Cosse 2008 Sauternes with pear tart dessert

Chateau de Cosse 2008 Sauternes

The coup de grâce of this delicious project was pairing of Sauternes with the tart. I selected the Chateau de Cosse 2008 Sauternes ($20), which is part of the Domaines Barons de Rothschild family. The bouquet is amazing floral, sweet honey and ripe apricot. This wine is much more viscous than the previous two, providing a very rich experience. The palate is a sweet savory experience, and each sip makes your mouth water. There are amazing flavors of honey and dried apricot, mixed with hints of flowers. This was the best pairing in my opinion.

Now the exciting part. I’m happy to be giving away some of Harry & David’s Organic The Favorite® Royal Riviera® Pears. One lucky person will win 1 box of beautiful organic pears ($34.95 value)!  H&D invented the fruit of the month club. At least one shipment of these pears is sent to every member. You can savor these delectables yourself, simply enter the giveaway below. There are multiple ways to enter, so be sure to catch them all!
_
This contest is open to US residents only. The winner will be chosen Sunday 12/15/2013. I will need to forward a mailing address for the winner by Monday 12/16/2013 to Harry & David!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

_

Exciting Delivery From Harry & David organic non-gmo pears

Exciting Delivery From Harry & David

Remember that Sharing is Caring. You should not only share this post with your friends, but share some wine and pears with them!

 

The Chateau de Cosse 2008 Sauternes and the Les Petits Grains Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois 2011 were both media samples from Pasternak Wine Imports. The pears used to make this dessert, as well as for the giveaway, were provided by Harry & David. However, per my sample policy, I offer no assurances that I will use products that are samples, and that my opinion will always be honest about the products I use. I have nothing but my word and reputation, and no free wine or food will make me compromise that. 

Six Bordeaux Wines Made For The Holidays!

Regardless of which holiday you celebrate, there is usually the need to have a party, or go to a party. And that means either serving adult beverages to your guests, or bringing a hostess gift to a party. If you’re hosting the party, you want to be sure that every detail is perfect, especially the wine you serve. And if you’re bringing a host gift, you want to ensure it won’t be re-gifted, along with the President Obama Chia Pet that someone else brought. A delicious French red is the perfect holiday wine idea! Here, we round up six Bordeaux red wines under $15, four of which are tremendous Quality to Price Ratio bargain wines! And make sure you check out the entire post, as I’m going to announce a giveaway this week, and you won’t want to miss it.

Planet Bordeaux for the Holidays wine tasting

Six Bordeaux Red Wines for the Holidays

As part of a media campaign, Planet Bordeaux engaged several wine writers to taste a selection of six red wines from Bordeaux. Dubbed “Planet Bordeaux for the Holidays”, we were asked to taste and tweet about the wines. The wines were all merlot dominant blends, and selected for their food friendly nature, as well as their very budget friendly price.

wine review Moutdon Cadet Bordeaux 2011

Mouton Cadet Bordeaux 2011

The most budget friendly wine of the tasting was the Mouton Cadet 2011. A scant $10, the Mouton Cadet Bordeaux 2011 is a blend of 65% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon and 15% cabernet franc. A dark inky purple and garnet in the glass, the bouquet is black and blue fruit, cranberry sauce and spice. Not elegant or sophisticated, the Mouton Cadet Bordeaux 2011 palate is medium to full body, and is dusty dry with flavors of black tea and black pepper dominating. There are very subtle hints of black cherry on the palate, but the fruit is barely a supporting character in this play. During the tasting, my friend Melanie of Dallas Wine Chick agreed this is really more a food wine than sipping wine, as this Bordeaux red wine was very cheese friendly, and worked fine with Cabot Cheddar cheese.

wine review Chateaux de Camarsac Bordeaux 2011

Chateaux de Camarsac Bordeaux 2011

Maroon and ruby colors in the glass, the Chateau de Camarsac 2011 is a $12 blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. There were some funky barnyard scents on the nose, something I personally am not a fan of, even if they’re not terribly strong. Nothing like the bouquet, the palate was is earthy leather, with dried blueberries from the merlot integrated with earthy mushrooms. There was mild but noticeable acidity and firm tannin, which will almost disappear when paired with beef, lamb, or even cheese.

wine review Les Hauts de Lagarde Bordeaux 2011

Les Hauts de Lagarde Bordeaux 2011

The third wine of the tasting really knocked my socks off. At $12, this wine is made with organically grown grapes, and can be found in most whole foods. The Les Hauts De Lagarde 2011 Bordeaux is 65% merlot, 25% cabernet sauvignon and 10% cabernet franc, with it’s organically grown grapes hailing from vineyards in Saint Laurent du Bois, Bordeaux. The bouquet reminded me of an old, leather bound book, with organic scents mixed with cranberry and currants. The palate was medium bodied, leaning towards full, and was not dusty at all. Fine, well integrated tannin, a little blueberry mixed with black currant, there’s great oak integration on this wine. The wine is almost soft and feminine, with a lingering finish that has hints of spice. This wine will work with almost any holiday fare, and I even recommend this delicious Bordeaux red wine for Thanksgiving. Drink now through 2014.

Speaking of Organic, later this week, Wednesday or Thursday, I’ll be posting about Harry & David‘s organically grown pears. I’ll feature them, as well as a recipe and wine pairing for you enjoy this holiday season. However, the best part is that you’ll be able to enter a giveaway to win a box of the pears! So, make sure you check back later this week to have your chance at a delicious holiday gift from Harry & David. To be sure and not miss the post, subscribe to my blog via email via the form on the top left of this article!

wine review Chateau du Bois Chantant Cuvee Laurence Bordeaux Superieur 2011

Chateau du Bois Chantant Cuvee Laurence Bordeaux Superieur 2011

The Helfrich family is the proprietor of the next wine, the Chateau du Bois Chantant Bordeaux Superieur 2011.  A blend of 90% merlot and 10% cabernet sauvignon,  the Chateau du Bois Chantant is a full bodied, well balanced Bordeaux wine, and quite a bargain at $13. Similar to the Les Hauts de Lagarde, this budget friendly Bordeaux red wine was quite elegant.  The nose is much more floral than the previous three wines, with violets swirling around the glass, along with notes of cherry cola and soft cinnamon. A deep, dark purple in the glass, the full mouth feel showed elegant plum and cherry with soft, well integrated tannin all around. There was a little black tea on the finish, which leads into a nice, toasty spice which was warming like a holiday fire. While it will work with almost any holiday dish you serve, I felt the Chateau du Bois Chantant would work well with poultry, perfect for your Christmas goose. Drink now through 2014. As an aside, I had the pleasure of meeting Anne Laure Helfrich earlier this year, and have some of their fantastic Alsatian pinot blanc and riesling to talk about in upcoming articles.

wine review Chateau des Arras Bordeaux Superieur 2010

Chateau des Arras Bordeaux Superieur 2010

The next wine from Bordeaux in this tasting was the Chateau des Arras Bordeaux Superieur 2010. A blend of 70% merlot, 15% cabernet sauvignon, and 15% cabernet franc, this $14 budget wine from France really was excellent for the price. The color was more garnet than purple, with a meaty, gamey nose that showed some fruit. It wasnt a terribly expressive bouquet, but deep sniffs bring blueberries and spice. The palate, however was elegant and refined, with fine integrated tannins. This is the wine to pair with your holiday roast, so bring on the prime rib, as the Chateau des Arras can handle it nicely. Flavors of blueberry and cranberry layered with a dusty earth component, and flavors of cherry intermingled in. This wine absolutely sung with cheddar cheese, as the tannins eased, the dried cherry and blueberry fruit came froward and there was a long, delightful finish. My final tasting note on the Chateau des Arras Bordeaux Superieur 2010 was “loved the last sip, the fruit was swirling around my mouth, the spices were soft and so back stage, there was an earthiness to this that sung, there was nice structure $14 worth of yum.” Drink now through 2016.

wine review Domaine de Courteillac bordeaux Superieur 2010

Domaine de Courteillac bordeaux Superieur 2010

As you end your year on a good note, we end this post (and tasting) on a good note. The last Bordeaux red wine of the tasting was the Domaine de Courteillac Bordeaux Superieur 2010. The bouquet is teeming with earthy spice, and doesn’t show much fruit. Inky black in the glass, the palate is very elegant and complex. Layers of flavor start with coffee and mocha, with dark cherry and cola flavors as well. Merlot dominant, but blended with cabernet sauvignon, this $15 wine is harmonious and balanced, bringing power, length and flavor. Another very food friendly wine, it loved the cheese course, but will pair perfectly with beef, lamb, and venison as well.  My last tasting note of the evening was “This wine is REALLY so good with the cheese !!! wow!!!” Drink now through 2016.

I hope you were nice this year, and Santa, or Harry Hanukkah, brings you presents as good as these wines. I highly recommend the last four, as they offer the most quality for the price. The Les Hauts de Lagarde Bordeaux 2011 at $12 is a steal, as is the Chateau du Bois Chantant Cuvee Laurence Bordeaux Superieur 2011 at the same price. The Chateau des Arras Bordeaux Superieur 2010 is still a budget friendly wine at $14, and a great example of what Bordeaux wines can be at reasonable prices. Finally, at $15, the Domaine de Courteillac Bordeaux Superieur 2010 may be the perfect wine for your holiday party this year!

I’d love to hear from you! Have you had any value driven wines from Bordeaux lately? Let me know below!