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Champagne and Sparkling Wine Ideas for New Years Eve

Champagne and Sparkling Wine For New Years Eve

Champagne and Sparkling Wine For New Years Eve

There will be no shortage of recommendations for Champagne for New Year’s Eve celebrations. I visited CBS12 and chatted with Suzanne Boyd about four options, three sparkling wines and one Champagne, that I’ll be serving at my own party. You can serve them with confidence at yours. The video talks about the four sparkling wines for New Years, plus some other tips to make your party awesome.

I mention it in the video, but the difference between Sparkling Wine and Champagne is the area in which it’s grapes are grown. The region of Champagne, France, fights hard to protect the name “Champagne”. In fact, with few exceptions, most sparkling wines no longer will call themselves Champagne if they aren’t from one of the five wine producing districts within the Champagne administrative province: Aube, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, Montagne de Reims, and Vallée de la Marne. The towns of Reims and Épernay are the commercial centers of the area. Enough education, check out the video!

Now that you’ve watched the short video of the TV segment, and know what sparkling wine or Champagne you want for your New Year’s Eve Party, what about food that pairs with it? Appetizers is the quick and easy answer, and almost all of them you serve will pair. Specific favorites are lightly salted mixed nuts, shrimp cocktail or fried shrimp, potato chips and popcorn, hard and salty cheeses, french fries or tater tots. However, if you are going outside of finger foods, I love Champagne with white fish prepared almost any way, crab anyway, especially crab cakes, ham and many pork preparations, and chicken almost any way you can make it. A quick recap of the wines follows, and you’re ready for New Years Eve!

Barefoot Bubbly Rose Cuvee

Barefoot Bubbly Rose Cuvee

The first selection was the Barefoot Bubbly Rose Cuvee. Coming in at $8 in most of the US, this inexpensive sparkling wine will appeal to those who prefer sweeter wines. Sweet ripe cherry and strawberry dominate the palate, and the bubbles were persistent and lively. This budget bubbly surprised me, as it was sweet without being syrupy and is a fun, inexpensive sparkling wine. While they use the word Champagne on the label, I assure you this comes from California!

Lamberti Prosecco Extra Dry

Lamberti Prosecco Extra Dry

The second selection was Lamberti Prosecco Extra Dry. While Extra Dry is more sweet than a Brut, our next two selections, the Lamberti is not a syrupy sweet sparkling wine. Instead, it has notes of honeydew and lemon, with fantastic bubbles that make it a great option at $15. The price on this prosecco makes it inexpensive enough for any time, not just New Year’s Eve. It’s a fun wine to pour at the start of an evening, while guests are arriving at your party, or as the main wine for your party.

Lucien Albrecht Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine

Lucien Albrecht Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine

The third sparkling wine option hails from the Alsace region of France. While you may see the label as Jean Albrecht in stores such as Total Wine and More, but it’s the same great bottle of wine for $20. I love the notes of nuts, warm baked bread and green apple in this wine. It is dry yet has great fruit and other flavors that makes it a perfect Sparkling Wine for New Years. Lucien Albrecht Blanc de Blanc is not 100% Chardonnay, but rather a blend of  80% Pinot Auxerrois, 10% Pinot Blanc and 10% Chardonnay, and is made in the traditional Champagne method. Blanc de Blancs means White of Whites, and while many cases it’s 100% chardonnay, it means that red skin grapes, such as Pinot Noir or Pinot  Munier aren’t used.

Pol Roger Non-Vintange Brut Reserve White Foil Champagne

Pol Roger Non-Vintange Brut Reserve White Foil Champagne

The final option for Champagne on New Year’s Eve is Pol Roger Non-Vintage Brut Reserve White Foil. I’ve enjoyed and written about this Champagne previously, and believe it’s excellent at the price.  This is a classic Champagne, with a long history, including being the Champagne of choice for Sir Winston Churchill. It’s a blend of the three grapes typically found in Champagne, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Munier, and they offer vintage Champagne in excellent years, which is a treat to have. The palate of the Pol Roger Non-Vintage Brut has amazing notes of brioche, yellow and green apple and the most delicate, tiny bubbles, which makes it an excellent choice to serve as you ring in the New Year.

Regardless of what you select, I hope you have a very happy, safe, and prosperous New Year. I hope 2012 brings you everything you need, and a lot of what you want.

Cheers!

Wine Gift Ideas For The Holidays Part 1

Great Wine Gift Ideas

Great Wine Gift Ideas

I’m sure you’re making your last minute rush to get gifts for everyone on your list as I write this.  I’m sorry this didn’t get to you sooner, but I’m here to offer three great ideas for wine gifts for everyone on your list.  I’ll post the video, which has all of the information you’ll need. However, I’ll also put some quick highlights below the video for you to cut and paste into your wish list.

Seven Peaks 2009 Pinot Noir

Seven Peaks 2009 Pinot Noir

First up was a $9.99 option from California. The Seven Peaks Pinot Noir was one of my Thanksgiving recommendations, and it carried over to the Holidays. I feel for $10, it offers a nice, fruit driven pinot noir that most wine drinkers and non wine drinkers alike will enjoy. I mentioned previously that this wine was made by Deloach Vineyards. The Seven Peaks label is owned Jean-Charles Boisset, also the owner of Deloach vineyards. The winemakers are Bill Arbios (Lyeth – Sonoma County) and Dan Cederquist, and are not tied to Deloach that I can see.

Pascal Jolivet 2010 Sancerre

Pascal Jolivet 2010 Sancerre

The next option for $20-25 was Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2010. This wine can be found in most retail shops, and like the other two options here today, can be found at most Total Wine stores. A great white wine for any time of the year, this crisp, lean expression of Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley, France is fantastic. It has excellent citrus notes and good acidity  with nice minerality. It’s perfect with seafood, salads, appetizers or just sipping alone.

Chateau La Nerthe 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape

Chateau La Nerthe 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape

Finally, an incredible wine for $50-55, the Chateau La Nerthe 2007 Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This wine is a gift for anyone who likes wine, loves wine, or wants to love wine. From one of the oldest Chateau’s on record in the area, with evidence dating back to 12th century, this historic winery produces amazing options. This wine shows beautiful dried fruits with amazing earthy and leathery mid palate notes. The wine is perfectly balanced, with nice acidity, restrained fruit, and perfect earthiness that typifies the region. While this will harmonize perfectly with your beef, lamb or any roast meat dish for the holidays, it’s perfect to sip on alone. It’s a definite great gift for the holidays.

Whether you need a gift for Christmas, a gift of Hanukkah/Chanukah , or just a gift for someone who deserves something special this holiday season, these three wines will make perfect options.  I’ll be back shortly with a few more options at various prices making your holiday wine gift ideas simple!

Some of the wines presented here were offered as media samples. That, however, does not influence my decision to include them in posts, television segments, or recommendations. I only recommend wines I believe offer great quality for the price, and stand behind each offering as something I would, and usually do, spend my own money on.

Talking Turkey – and Wine

Wine Ideas For Thanksgiving

Wine Ideas For Thanksgiving

With the cornucopia of food on your Thanksgiving table, finding one wine that works with everything being served is impossible. As I mentioned in my previous Thanksgiving wine article, drink what you like is a popular response to “what’s the best wine for Thanksgiving”. However, I have some additional recommendations that will work not only with a typical holiday meal, but any food or occasion. In the video that follows, I chat with CBS12 anchors Suzanne Boyd and Eric Roby about three wines, with more detail on each below the video.

Gewurzstraminer Hugel 2009

Gewurzstraminer Hugel 2009

Gewürztraminer is a grape often recommended on Thanksgiving. The palate is typically light to medium bodied, and the flavors work well with not only Turkey, but much of the side dishes you’ll find at a holiday feast. While grown around the world, I prefer gewurztraminer from the Alsace, such as the Hugel 2009 Gewürztraminer. For about $15, this white wine offers fantastic value. What I love about this wine is its light palate, dominated by white floral notes such as jasmine and honeysuckle. The finish brings a nice spice flavor, and leaves soft peach and apricot notes that linger. However, the acidity is firm, lending a tiny citrus note to the palate, and that works perfect with turkey, yams, and even fresh fruit. It is important to note that this wine will change as it warms and gets air while in your glass. You’ll notice the flavors more prominent and it becomes a little less crisp and a little fuller bodied. I recommend popping the cork 5 or 10 minutes before you’re ready to eat, and letting it breathe just a little bit.

Rodney Strong 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Rodney Strong 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Pinot noir makes an appearance twice in my holiday recommendations, as I feel it’s a versatile, food friendly wine. Rodney Strong 2009 Russian River Pinot Noir delivers a stunning red wine for only $20. A beautiful, light garnet color in the glass, this is a wine that wasn’t over extracted or over concentrated. With fruit from estate vineyards, meaning the fruit is from Rodney Strong Vineyards or from vineyards they control, manage the growing practices, and have long term contracts with, this Pinot is every bit old world in style as it is new. There is big flavor in the bottle, with tons of raspberry and dried strawberry. However, the palate is a mix of California and Burgundy, as it delivers the right amount of new world fruit perfectly balanced with old world earth and tobacco. This pinot noir will benefit from some breathing time, so pull the cork and let the bottle sit for about 20 minutes before serving, or decant and let aerate for 10 minutes. This will allow the wine to open a little, allow you to more fully enjoy the wine. While I was quite happy sipping this on it’s own, look for this wine to pair with almost any meat you put on your thanksgiving table. From turkey to pork to beef, this Pinot rocks them all.

Potel Aviron 2009 Julienas Cru Beaujolais

Potel Aviron 2009 Julienas Cru Beaujolais

Finally, though I have absolutely no love for Beaujolais Nouveau, I’m a fan of wines from many of the 10 Cru Beaujolais areas. These areas are designated due to their superior conditions for growing grapes in comparison to other areas within Beaujolais. While both are made from the gamay grape, Cru Beaujolais wines are more structured, typically aged before release, and are nothing like their bubblegum Nouveau wine cousins. Each of the 10 Crus brings something different to the wines, and this wine from Julienas is no exception. The wines of this area tend to have a rich, spicy character coupled with fruity qualities of gamay. The palate of the  Potel Aviron 2009 Julienas had notes of dried dark cherry, with an old world, earthy component as well. This wine definitely needed to decant for about an hour before serving, and could age for a year or two and still show nicely. For fans of old world wines, created to pair with a meal, this $25 wine will be a treat.

Dr  Loosen 2006 BA

Dr Loosen 2006 BA

At the end of the TV segment, Eric and Suzanne ask about dessert wines. I’m a big fan of port, but believe beerenauslese riesling is a better pick for Thanksgiving. This riesling is a little lighter than a port, and after a big meal, is the right wine for that touch of sweetness you may crave. A lover of Dr Loosen wines, their 2006 Beerenauslese will offer the rich, sweet honeyed apricots and nectarine flavors that end the evening perfectly. It will pair with many of the fruit pie desserts served during Thanksgiving, or be perfect on it’s own. This high quality, low quantity wine will fetch about $25 for a 187ml bottle or $50 for a 375ml bottle, which is half the size of a “normal” wine bottle. There are many late harvest riesling option available at a lower price, but they won’t necessarily be the same the quality of Dr Loosen’s BA.

I look forward to hearing what wines you pick for your Thanksgiving day meal. And no matter what you drink, I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!

 

-These wines were provided as media samples for review. However, my opinions are my own, and not influenced by samples or the people who provide them -

Alternative Summer White Wines

Alternative White Wines For Summer

Alternative White Wines For Summer

Have you fallen into a summer wine rut?  Are you drinking the same summer white wine all the time? Maybe you have found a wine you love so much, you can’t consider drinking anything else! Or, you may not have found any other wines that tickle your tastebuds.  This weekend I visited Eric Roby and Tara Cardoso at the WPEC CBS12 studios to talk about some alternative white wines under $20 for you to consider this summer.

You can view the short segment first, then continue on for some more information on each of the wines we discussed.

Matt Horbund’s CBS12 Summer White Wine segment on YouTube

One wine to think about this summer is Grooner 2009 Gruner Veltliner. Often called just Gruner, this wine is crisp and dry, with great acidity to pair with foods. It’s not sweet or fruity, and you’ll notice a lot of green flavors, from green apple to green grass to even green onion. For just $11, this wine is perfect for summer days. The tart green apple and other green flavors will be tamed a little with food, so be sure to try it on it’s own as well as with food. It works well with chicken, fish, and assorted cheeses.

 

Grooner 2009 Gruner Veltliner

Grooner 2009 Gruner Veltliner

Another great grape for summer is Gewurztraminer. It’s so often overlooked, yet it’s so delicious. Pronounced Geh-vurs-trah-mean-er, you’ll find delightful floral and lychee fruit flavors up front on this wine. However, there’s a perfect balance of baking spice that keeps the Hugel & Fils 2008 Gewurztraminer from going over the edge. I love it with only a slight chill, as opposed to ice cold. White wines should normally be served in the 50-55 degree range, though I prefer this one more towards “room temperature” or about 60 degrees. I feel the flavors open up as it warms up. Again, think chicken, fish, cheese, and pork when you think of food pairings with Gewurztraminer wines. I feel for $16, the Hugel Gewurztraminer is a great value. I think Gewurz will satisfy the palate of people who prefer sweeter or fruiter wines, while still being enjoyed by those who love dry, crisp wines.

Hugel2008 Gewurztraminer

Hugel2008 Gewurztraminer

Finally, there is the Fairvalley 2010 Chenin Blanc, from South Africa. You’ll find this wine straddling the flavor profile of two previous wines, with great acidity similar to the gruner, with lighter floral and fruit notes similar to the gewurztraminer. Fairvalley has a very neat story, where in the late 1990s they formed a co-op of sorts, with proceeds from their work goings towards housing and community development. I’ve enjoyed other chenin blanc from South Africa before, as well from France. In France, you’ll find chenin blanc coming from Vouvray, and I’ve discussed one of these Loire Valley Wines previously on CBS12 when looking at white wines from France.

Fairvalley 2010 Chenin Blanc

Fairvalley 2010 Chenin Blanc

There are plenty of options for delicious white wines this summer. Don’t get stuck in a wine rut, try one of these three recommendations, and then let me know your thoughts!

Cheers!

Wines for your July 4th Party

July 4th Wine Ideas - July 4th Wine Ideas
July 4th Wine Ideas

There will be no shortage of July 4th parties this coming week. With all the great food, and great friends, you’ll want to pair great wines. This morning I visited CBS12 WPEC in West Palm Beach to offer three suggestions for wines to pair with fun or food this Independence Day!


View Matthew Horbund’s July 4th Wine selections on YouTube directly.

Our first option is a Rose D’Anjou from the Sauvion house, and brothers Yves and Jean-Ernest. The chateau has been in the Savion family since 1935. Made of 70% groslot, pronounced grow-loh, and 30% gamay this is an inexpensive, fun, easy drinking wine. It has a palate of strawberry and red raspberry fruit which is very ripe and even shows a hint of sweetness. It should be served with a good chill, and will pair with a wide range of foods. It can be sipped alone, or with a nice salad with grilled chicken. It’ll go nicely with a fresh fruit and cheese plate as well. For just $9.99 in many stores, it’s worth trying.

Sauvion Rose D'Anjou - a great July 4th and summer wine
Sauvion Rose D’Anjou

If you’re looking for a crisp white wine for your July 4th party, look no further than Duckhorn’s Decoy Sauvignon Blanc. Duckhorn Vineyards has a variety of lines, each with a distinct winemaker and pedigree. The Decoy line draws from the talents of the various winemakers, depending on the grape, and offers good value. The Decoy Sauvignon Blanc 2009 was a delicious blend of tropical fruits, think pineapple and kiwi, balanced with delightful citrus of lime, lemon and pink grapefruit. It’s dry, crisp, and has great acidity, making it very food friendly. From seafood to chicken, this wine will be a hit at your Independence Day party. For $17.99, it’s a great Napa white wine.

Duckhorn's Decoy Sauvignon Blanc
Duckhorn’s Decoy Sauvignon Blanc

From burgers to ribs to pasta, this Zinfandel wine from Ridge Lytton Springs vineyard pairs perfectly. A blend of 71% Zinfandel, 22% Petit Sirah, 7% carignon, this is a rich, complex red wine bursting with multiple layers on the palate. First notes are dark red berries, black cherry, and strawberries. However, they’re quickly followed by notes of chocolate and mocha, and subtle balance of spice. There is a little acidity that’s noticeable when sipped alone, but that makes the Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel very food friendly. We paired this red wine with chicken Parmesan and it was amazing, but look for a delightful food and wine experience when paired with burgers, bbq, steaks, and ribs. It cost about $27.99 at most wine stores, but is a nice wine for the money.

Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel
Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel

I look forward to hearing about your food and wine choices for July 4th. What’s your go to Independence wine pairing?

Pairing wine with Easter and Passover meals

wine to pair with easter or passover dinner

Happy Holiday

Easter and Passover are on their way, and that means family will be getting together to celebrate the holidays. Whether your family has a tried and true menu, or likes to change it up year after year, having the right wine on the table makes everything better. Recently, I brought four wines to the CBS12 WPEC station as recommendations for your holiday celebrations.

The segment starts with two kosher for Passover wines. There is not a tremendous difference between kosher wine and non kosher wine. In general, because kosher wine is used in the Sabbath blessing, as well as holidays, it can only be handled by Sabbath observant Jews. Additionally, no animal products can be used in the winemaking process, such as gelatin or egg whites to fine the wine (remove particulates). The difference in Kosher for Passover versus Kosher wine is that they make sure no grain yeasts are used, since during Passover Jews do not eat any grains (no bread, for example). That’s it, otherwise, it’s fermented grape juice, just like any other wine. I’ve discussed kosher Chardonnay previously, and compared to a non-kosher chardonnay.


Click above to watch Matthew Horbund talk Kosher for Passover and Easter wines on CBS12 WPEC

The first wine in the TV segment above was Hagafen 2008 Chardonnay from the Oak Knoll District of Napa, California. This wine retails for $20, and is a nice Napa Valley chardonnay at this price. Irit and Ernie Weir founded the winery in 1979 with their inaugural vintage in 1980. With a total production of only 8,000 cases annually, they produce small batches of various wines including merlot, cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, chardonnay, and riesling. Their wines are well made, and for this segment I tasted the merlot, cabernet and chardonnay. I selected the chardonnay as I thought it offered a nice rich and full mouth feel, having good pear fruit with the toasty spice from the oak aging. This wine sees malolactic fermentation, which gives it that rich mouth feel, often associated with a buttery quality, and a little oak which gives it the buttery taste, as well as a little spice. This wine will pair well with the appetizers, as well as any lighter fare served at the Seder such as chicken. For the record, the name is pronounced Ha-Ga-Fen, not Hag-a-fen as I said in the above TV spot. Clearly, my Hebrew needs as much work as my French and Italian. In the Hebrew prayer over grape juice or grape wine, the ending words “p’ri hagafen” translates to Fruit of the Vine.

Hagafen 2008 Chardonnay perfect for Passover Seder

Hagafen 2008 Chardonnay

For a red wine option, I selected the Baron Herzog 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from Central Coast, California. The Herzog family has a long history of wine making, dating back to Philip Herzog making wine for the Austro-Hungary court more than 100 years ago. Emperor Franz Josef enjoyed the wines so much, he made Philip a Baron! During World War II, Philips grandson Eugene hid the family from the Nazis by moving them around the Slovenian countryside, and at the end of the war came out from a false wall in a friends shed to reclaim his family’s winery. Three years later they were driven from their home, and in 1948 arrived in New York. Eugene toiled in a small store front making kosher wine from Concord grapes, and instead of being paid for some of his work, was given shares in the company. All of the other owners eventually gave up their shares, and  in 1958 he became the sole shareholder. They renamed the company Royal Wines in deference to grandfather Philip, and turned the company into a success. They moved out to California, expanding in 1985, with a focus on making high end quality wine under two labels, Baron Herzog and Herzog Wine cellars.

baron herzog cabernet sauvignon for passover seder

Baron Herzog cabernet sauvignon

The Baron Herzog 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is made mostly from grapes sourced from the Paso Robles wine region. It’s aged 18 months in stainless steel, which helps retain the fruit notes. The nose of the wine has bright raspberry and red fruits, which soften as it opens up. This is a very California wine, showing more fruit than earthy or leathery notes. While a tad dry and mild tannins, the round fresh fruit translates from the nose to the palate. It will pair nicely with your Passover Seder meal, whether that includes brisket, lamb shank, or some other roasted dish. For $13, it’s a nice California Cabernet, Kosher for Passover or not.

There were plenty of other Kosher for Passover wines I could have selected. I tasted the Ben Ami Chardonnay and Merlot, and while both were a bit on the lighter and easy drinking side, they’d make a fine showing at your Passover dinner. I also tried the Hagafen Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, which showed a bit more earthy and leather notes on the palate than the Baron Herzog. Any would make a fine showing at your meal. While selecting a Kosher for Passover wine requires a little work, visiting Total Wine will help make that work a bit easier. They’ve got a tremendous selection of Kosher wines, including other US made wines as well as Israel made wines. They’ve also plenty of wines to select for Easter. Selecting a wine for Easter isn’t as restrictive as Passover, so the field is wide open. For Easter, I selected two Argentinian wines for the TV segment, and think for the price, they offer great quality, though they aren’t Kosher for Passover.

Don David Torrontes a great white wine for Easter

Don David Torrontes

With about 1,500 acres of vineyards  5,500 feet above sea level, the Michel Torino Estate is a key player in the Cafayate Valley of Argentina. The winery was founded in 1892 by brothers Salvador and David Michel, and they produce a wide variety of wines from a malbec rose to cabernet sauvignion to pinot noir and more. In the TV segment, select the Don David Torrontes Reserve 2009 as a great white wine for Easter, and for $16, it’s great any time. The nose of this wine is absolutely beautiful, with soft white flowers and a slight melon note.  The palate shows some citrus and melon, and is light and quite delicious. It will pair well with chicken, sea food and shellfish, and as I mention in the segment, Thai food.

Don David Malbec perfect for your easter meal

Don David Malbec

As a red wine for Easter, I believe the Don David Mabec Reseve 2008 will be a fantastic wine selection. Malbec is a versatile wine, and it pairs well with beef or lamb prepared almost any way, as well as ham, which covers most of the meats at traditional Easter meals. Without any decanting this wine has a palate of simple red fruit, with restrained earthy notes. As it opens, the palate is powerful fruit of red cherries and a little chocolate, and shows definitely a bit more new world with it’s round flavor profile. The more this wine opens, the more dark the fruit gets, and the more complexities come out. With a price of about $15, it’s not only worth making an appearance on your Easter table, it may be the best value wine you can get for the holiday!

Of course, everyone is looking for the best wine for Easter, and Passover, and I’ve given just a few selections here. I’ll come back in a few days to offer some more Easter wine pairings, but I’d love to hear what you plan on serving this holiday season. Easter or Passover, what’s in your glass?

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

What wines will you serve for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Is Upon Us

Thanksgiving Is Upon Us

Wine Experts are bombarding you with the perfect Thanksgiving wine ideas right now. You’ll see them on TV, you’ll read about them in the newspapers, and probably get an email or tweet about them. While I did indeed visit Kara Kostanich and the folks at CBS12 here in West Palm Beach to talk about wines that you can serve with your Thanksgiving Cornucopia, I rather point out a few wines that go well with the various dishes you may find on your table this holiday season, and let you pick which one you believe is perfect.

Thanksgiving is about, well, giving thanks, whether it’s for family, freedom, or the bounty we call our daily lives. It’s one time a  year that everyone stops and takes stock of what they have, and celebrate with friends or family or strangers in doing so. That celebration often takes the form of a large meal, and undoubtedly some libations. For us, that libation is wine, and pairing wine with food is one of my favorite parts of the feast.  Food and wine pairing is intimidating for some, and fascinating for others. While some may break out into a sweat trying to pick a wine that will go with your steak, I always love pairing food and wine and coming upon one that reminds me of a waltz, two parties dancing gracefully together in close proximity. This short video will talk about three of the wines, and I’ll have more information below about them, as well as three other options for you to choose from in another post.

Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45 Rose

Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45 Rose

The first wine in the segment was Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45 Rose, from the Rhone in France. This $15 wine is made from three different grapes, Grenach, Cinsault, and Syrah. It’s light enough to have as an aperitif, but weighty enough to stand up to your cheeses, appetizers and even your main course, should you prefer rose wines. The nose is great strawberry with a light floral aroma. There is good acidity on this wine, which as I mentioned in the clip, lends itself to pairing well with food. There is a nice fresh fruit forward palate, strawberry and raspberry, with an almost citrus feel from the acidity. The finish is great white pepper and spices, and it balances the fresh fruitiness of the wine wonderfully.  As an aside, you pronounce Cinsault as San-Soh , not sin-salt as I mentioned in the video. Pair this wine with turkey or ham if that’s what’s on your table, as well as the various cheeses and appetizers you may have. Or, just sip on it and enjoy!

Oliver Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Setilles

Oliver Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Setilles

Next our holiday wine selection takes us to Burgundy, France, where we meet up with an Oliver Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Setilles 2007, $20-25. Made from Chardonnay grapes, this Bourgogne Blanc is fermented in a mixture of 60% oak,10% of which is new, and 40% stainless steel.  What does that mean for you and your taste buds? You’ll experience some of the vanilla and spice from the oak, but the pear and apple characteristics of Chardonnay will still shine. There is a harmony of crisp meets creamy in the mouth, and this becomes an exciting and versatile wine. Of course, this would go with your Turkey, but also your fish, fried shrimp or gator tail (hey, we’re in Florida).  We did our tasting with roasted chicken and potatoes with rosemary and garlic, and it was fantastic.

Coto de Imaz Rioja

Coto de Imaz Rioja

Finally we have Coto de Imaz Rioja 2004 Reserva. This red wine, made from 100% Tempranillo and aged 18 months in oak and another 24 months in bottle comes from Spain, and will certainly grace our holiday table this year. On it’s own, it has flavors of dark fruit and leather, and is quite dry. However, when paired with beef, the palate was a silky indulgence of chocolate and coffee mixed with earthy flavors that just were amazing. For a $20 wine, there was great complexity that beckoned you to take another sip, and another bite, to discover what flavors would show next.  If your family has a beef dish, such as prime rib or perfectly grilled steaks, or perhaps serves roasted lamb, this is your go-to wine.

The three wines I discuss were all provided by the folks at Frederick Wildman, importers of fine wines. While they were indeed provided as samples, this in no way influenced what I spoke about on TV, or what I post here. I freely selected the wines, based on what I like and what I support, and there was no influence or pressure to do discuss them.

I leave you this something Richard Auffrey said quite well - dont be merely a glutton. Find ways to not only be thankful for what you have, but also to give freely to others. Regardless of how hard your year has been, or how difficult things may be for you, there is someone, somewhere, who could greatly benefit from whatever charitable act you can muster. Whether it’s a monetary donation, articles of clothing, or your time at a local shelter or soup kitchen, someone needs what you have to offer. Please, offer it this holiday season.