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Valentine’s Day Wines Made Easy

Wine for a Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day

Everyone likes options. While I tossed out a few great picks in my latest CBS Segment on Valentine’s Day and Superbowl Wines, some friends asked for a few more selections. Of course, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of perfect wines for the day of love. However, these are a few wines that I’ve sipped in the past few months that will work well for most of your Valentine’s Day needs.

Whether starting your night with a sparkling wine or pairing a Champagne with your meal, I’ve got three selections that I absolutely love. The first two are under $20 and widely available, and hail from the Alsace. Domaine Lucien Albrecht is one of the oldest leading Alsace family owned estates, tracing its roots back to 1425. The Albrecht Brut and Albrecht Brut Rose are two lovely sparklers from France, the Brut crisp with tart apples, the Brut Rose has notes of plums and tart cherries. Both of these sparklers make a great aperitif, and pair nicely with a cheese plate perhaps with goat cheese or Brie.

Lucien Albrecht 2009 Sparkling Gift Box

Lucien Albrecht 2009 Sparkling Gift Box

If you’d like a sparkler from Champagne, the Pol Roger Non-Vintage Brut White Foil is a great option. It cost approximately $40, and is delicious. Though a brut, meaning dry Champagne, I found the palate a little softer and fruit forward. It wasn’t as dry as perhaps the Pol Roger Pure Non-Vintage, another $40 option that is delicious. Again, perfect as an aperitif, and a beautiful pairing with fruit, cheeses, or even popcorn. Yes, popcorn! Champagne loves salty foods, so popcorn, potato chips and oysters are a natural pair. For those who’s French is as poor as mine, the name is pronounced pawl roh-ZHAY.

Pol Roger Non Vintage Brut White Foil

Pol Roger Non Vintage Brut White Foil

If you’re looking for a big, bold red wine for your evening of love, look no further than Mount Veder 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon or Trefethen Family 2004 Oak Knoll Cabernet Sauvignon.

A $40 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon that definitely is worth it’s price, Mount Veder Cabernet Sauvignon has a nose of black cherry and a medium palate with medium tannin. There is great fruit burst up front with nice complexities, including a little vanilla, a little cocoa, a little pepper and spice. I think it’s well balanced, and good on it’s own or with food. If you are looking to pair a red wine with your Valentine’s Day dinner of grilled or roast meats, whether it’s beef, veal, even pork, this wine will do the trick.

Mount Veder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

Mount Veder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

I’ve been in the Trefethen Family wine club since 2008, and love the surprises they send me every few months. I enjoy their regular Cabernet Sauvignon quite a bit, which retails for about $50. For a special occasion I open the Trefethehn Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, which for $100 is a very special wine. Whether pairing with prime rib, rack of lamb or sipping alone, the big bold tannin grabs you, and the delicious black cherry and spice keeps hold of you.

Trefethen Cabernet Sauvignon

Trefethen Cabernet Sauvignon

Zinfandel is for lovers, or at least I think so. It’s a warm, cozy wine, and it pairs well with anything from pasta to ribs to steak. Titus Napa Zinfandel will run you about $25, but it’s well worth it. Big and bold, like your love for your Valentine, there are fantastic flavors of ripe red berries, offset by huge pepper and spice on the finish. This wine needs some air to open up, though the second you pop the cork you will will instinctivly pour a glass and enjoy the powerful flavors this wine offers.

Titus Napa Zinfandel

Titus Napa Zinfandel

Not quite the powerhouse that Titus is, the Paso Creek 2007 Zinfandel is very round and approachable. Jammy berries, chocolate notes and even some caramel, this wine is a perfect sipper for under $20. Perfect alone, or with food, this wine will make your Valentine feel the love.

Paso Creek Zinfandel

Paso Creek Zinfandel

If you have questions about other wine options for Valentine’s Day, food and wine pairings, or anything in general, feel free to leave a comment below! I’d love to play cupid, minus the diaper!

Wine for Super Days – Valentine’s and Super Bowl

Intense battles will be won, or lost, in both love and football. With The Super Bowl today, and Valentine’s Day next week, having the right wine will help you be on the winning side for both special days. I visited CBS 12 WPEC this week to offer a few wine options to make sure you’re scoring on the big day. In the following clip, we’ll first talk about two Valentine’s Day selections, and then, two Super Bowl Sunday selections.

Biltmore Estate Pas de Deux Sparkling Wine for Valentine's Day

Biltmore Estate Pas de Deux Sparkling Wine for Valentine’s Day

The first wine is a delicious sparkling wine from Biltmore Estate in NC. A sweeter option, in the Sec style, this wine has a fruity nose of pears and dried apricots, and a fruit forward palate of ripe and fresh fruit. Almost as sweet as your Valentine, this option will be perfect as an aperitif before dinner, or with desserts such as fresh fruit, strawberry cheesecake, or even chocolate truffles. I’ll have an easy recipe for Chocolate truffles at the bottom of this post.

The Biltmore pas de Deux is made with 100% Muscat Canelli grapes, which are sourced from Monterey CA, Arroyo Seco AVA. It retails for around $19, and can be purchased from Biltmore Estate directly, or at your local wine shop.

J Vineyards Nicole Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008

J Vineyards Nicole Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008

Looking for a wine for your Valentine’s Day dinner, whether out at a fancy restaurant, or with a delicious home cooked meal? Look no further than J Vineyards Nicole’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008. Available at “White Tablecloth” restaurants nation wide, or direct purchased from their website, this $50 option is spectacular. The wine has soft and silky palate, with complex layers of fruit, chocolate, and light smokey notes. The winemaker suggests pairing with venison, bison burgers, wild pig or salmon. I paired it with a horseradish crusted brisket and it was fantastic. I’ll have a separate post in the coming days on this wine and the brisket itself.

Valserrano Crianza 2006 Rioja

Valserrano Crianza 2006 Rioja

When it’s time to pair your big, bold flavors at your Super Bowl party, you may want to look for Valserrano Crianza 2006 Rioja. Made from the Tempranillo grape, this old world style wine has a little new world flair to it. Crianza means the wine was aged for at least two years, with at least six months in oak. It will appeal to fans of dry wines, with earthy flavors of tobacco and leather, and a bit of red berry fruit as well. Perfect for roast dishes, whether a roast pig or a roast beef, this wine is definitely food friendly. It should also do pretty well with your chili or even wings at your party.  It cost about $15 at your local wine store, and is an interesting wine to try. It will appeal to fans of dry, earthy wines, Super Bowl game or not.

Sobon Estate Rocky Top Zinfandel

Sobon Estate Rocky Top Zinfandel

The final selection can be enjoyed on either special day, or any day. It’s Sobon Estate Rocky Top Zinfandel, and for about $16 it’s awesome. Their grapes are farmed organically, and wine megastore Total Wine often features Sobon Estate wines in their “Green and Earth Friendly” category of wines. It’s bouquet is somewhat floral, and the palate is pleasant ripe, round berries, dark plums and raisins. I love the backbone of spice this Zinfandel has, and it makes this wine perfect for everything you serve at your Super Bowl party. We enjoyed it with just burgers and grilled Italian sausage, but it’ll go nicely with everything from wings to chili to steaks and cheeses. Sobon Estates Rocky Top Zinfandel is available nation wide, and is part of a family of red wines I’ve recommend in the past.

If you’re even remotely coordinated in the kitchen, these chocolate truffles are easy to make, and delicious. I added just a small amount of ground cinnamon and loved the flavors. It worked nicely with the Biltmore Pas de Deux, but also worked lovely with the Sobon Estate Zinfandel. I’d love to hear your thoughts

Decadent Biltmore Truffles

Winemakers Suggestion: Enjoy with Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs or Pas de Deux sparkling wines for a festive and decadent treat. 

Ingredients:

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
Cocoa powder or semi-sweet chocolate, as needed
Optional additions: 2-3 tablespoons liqueur, roasted chopped nuts, chopped dried fruit, toasted coconut, fruit jam, peanut butter, sweet potato, caramel topping, chopped toffee or cookie pieces, extracts or flavorings.

Method: To make the ganache, place chocolate into a bowl. Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Stir together until all is combined and chocolate is melted. Mix in any additions (see above for suggestions) to the ganache you desire. Let the ganache set and scoop into portions and place onto parchment or wax paper. Refrigerate for 10–15 minutes then take out and round into balls. Roll into cocoa powder or coat in semi-sweet chocolate and serve.

Makes about 20 truffles.

Quick Picks – Superbowl Wines

SuperbowlWith the Superbowl approaching, everyone’s planning their party snacks and drinks. There’ll be a lot of beer poured, and I’ll partake for sure. However, I’ll be visiting the good folks at CBS12 to talk about some nice wine selections for your Superbowl Party. I’ll post the entire segment as soon as possible, but here are the picks, plus a few more.

I’m a big fan of all of the foods that are served at Superbowl parties! From ribs and burgers, to hot wings and quesadillas. The foods are usually fleshy and flavorful, and need a big, bold wine to stand up to them. For me, zinfandel gets the call for the first string at these parties.

Sobon Estates Rocky Top Zinfandel Wine

Sobon Estates Rocky Top Zinfandel Wine

I’m a big fan of Sobon Wines, and have spoken about them before. The first-string call for Superbowl Sunday goes to Sobon Wines Rocky Top Zinfandel. At just $16, there’s no reason this wine shouldn’t show up at your party. Great fruit flavors, berries and nice spice, it works amazingly well with anything you toss on the grill. That means your beef sliders, your grilled chops, or your steaks will taste even better with this wine. It’s also big enough to stand up to grilled pork, like sausages. Toss some cheese and it catches it for a touchdown.  And those hot wings, they’ll just be hotter with this great wine. Give it a shot!

Titus Napa Zinfandel

Titus Napa Zinfandel

Other Zins in the first string line up include a favorite of mine, Titus Napa Zinfandel. Big and bold, this wine will fight for every yard at your game. It’ll work with the same foods, or on it’s own. It’s about $25, and worth every penny of that Superbowl salary. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the Titus brothers, and they are not only working the same farm their parents did, their kids are in the picture. It’s a family business, and one that tastes great!

Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel

Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel

Want another option for your Superbowl wine? Take a look at Ravenswood Zinfandel. There are a variety of levels, but the entry level Vintners Blend for $9 will kick your field goal. Fantastic for the price, I’ve served this with smoked ribs, steaks, and even prime rib. Yes, prime rib. You can find it at any grocery store or wine store, and you know you’ll get a great bottle of wine for the sub $10 price.

Not a fan of red wines. I’m a lover of Riesling for parties. I think it’s fruit forward flavors will go well with a bunch of things on the table. More importantly, I think it’s a great compliment to hot grilled chicken wings. There are some GREAT rieslings available, from New York, Washington, and of course Germany. If you cant find the Dr Loosen Dr L in the wings post, look for almost any other riesling, and let me know how it goes.

Short and sweet, I’d love to know what you’re drinking during Superbowl Sunday!

Wine Blogging Wednesday 57 California Dreaming

Robert Mondavi's Harvest of Joy biography

Robert Mondavi's Harvest of Joy biography

As most of the wine loving world knows, Robert Mondavi passed away one year ago May 16th. In an effort to recognize and pay homage to this progressive and influential force in the wine world, Jeff LeFavere from goodgrape.com has chosen a topic for this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday that invokes Mondavi’s passion for California wines. Jeff’s mission was simple, “revisit a California wine that they have enjoyed, or have a particular fond memory of, and tell a story.” Everyone that knows me knows I love to tell stories, and this topic allows me to do so. I’ll post the video wine review at the end of the post, so please take the time to read the story, and of course, view the video.

Before I get into the wine, and my story, I want to take the time to reprint some of Jeff’s original post and comment on that. I thought his post was quite well written, and captured some of my own thoughts and feelings.  Jeff writes that “Mondavi was such an inspiration physically, spiritually and philosophically to so many – both in the industry and to consumers, while acting as the forefather of the modern California wine movement” and later goes on to say “Mondavi was a people person, fostering a spirit of goodwill amongst friends new and old while promoting a life well lived that included wine and food as complementary companions on the table and in life.”  Quite frankly, that is what I love about wine, that it allows us to bring together friends, new and old, and enjoy time with each other, harmonizing the food and the people at once.

Robin & I creating memories in San Francisco

Robin & I creating memories in San Francisco

In March of this year, Robin and I took a long weekend and flew out to San Francisco, CA. Robin had never been to San Francisco, and since I was there for training the following week, we decided to tack on a few days and have some fun with it. Coincidentally, it was the 2009 “Wine Road Barrel Tasting” event, so we figured after a day in The Bay, we’d spend two days in Sonoma tasting wines and enjoying life. We have some friends from Twitter who live in the area, so we all planned on meeting Saturday morning for the adventure. Robin and I had a lovely romantic day in San Francisco on Friday, and Saturday morning started our wine journey.

Our first stop was the meet Thea (@winebratsf on twitter) and Robbin (@robbin_g) in San Francisco. After picking them up, we drove out to Dry Creek, stopping at Truett Hurst for our first of many tastings. There we hooked up with a bevy of people including Valerie (@winedog), Shana (@Sharayray), John (@DrncPno), Amy (@WineWonkette), Patrick (@Oenophilus), as well as Jim (@sonomawineguy) and probably more I’m forgetting about! We began tasting wines that were just put into the barrels (hence, “Barrel Tasting”), as well as wines that each vineyard had already bottled as current offerings.

Click for the view from atop Michel-Schlumberge vineyard

Click for the view from atop Michel-Schlumberge vineyard

The first day of tasting we ended up going
to 5 or more wineries including Michel-Schlumberger where we met up with MS President & General Manager  Judd Wallenbrock (@Humanitas and @M_Schlumberger),  where we had a lovely walk through the vineyards and some spectacular private tastings.  We capped off Saturday by going to a nice wine bar and doing a Pinot Noir Twitter Taste Live event, complete with live streaming video.

Sunday brought us more wine, and more friends.  We met up with  Liza (@Brixchick_Liza) and continued to tour much of Healdsburg ‘s wineries, tasting rooms, and coops. Robin and I purchased a case of wine from here, and a case of wine from there, selecting what we thought were the stand outs of the visits. The day wore on, and we began to wear out. Robin and I were freezing, as a cold and rainy Sonoma Day is not the same as a hot and humid Florida Day. Just as we were about to recommend we head on back to the hotel and call it a day, Thea mentioned that we were to meet Patrick, his wife Genevieve, and their family at Chateau Felice for one last, special tasting.  Patrick and Genevieve originally started Chateau Felice, and have since turned it over to their family. The couple have moved on to a new adventure, Iridesse Wines, and they’re going to do great things there.

View of Chateau Felice from Tasting Room

Click for a view of Chateau Felice from Tasting Room

Driving up to Chateau Felice, on Chalk Hill Road, took about 20 minutes from our last winery. However, as soon as we approached the gates to the Chateau, we were all glad we made the trip. A beautiful gate opened up to a sprawling estate with fantastic landscaping and property. We made our way around the water to a barn, which was the tasting room. There we were able to sample some of the future offerings from the barrels, as well as some finished product.

We met Barry & Phyllis Rodgers, vintners and proprietors of Chateau Felice. A lovely couple with outgoing personalities, they welcomed us to their home and their passion. We listened as they told us about the wine, the estate, and the future. Barry poured us wonderful barrel samples, and tempted us with futures.  Unfortunately, Robin and I had met our quota on wine purchases, and avoided those temptations.  We were not, however, as diligent with the current releases.

A gorgeous Sitting Area outside Cheateu Felice wine tasting room

A gorgeous Sitting Area outside Cheateu Felice wine tasting room

We next met Barry and Phyllis’ daughter Samantha Rodgers-Daniel, director of Sales & Marketing. She was pouring the current releases, and gave us a fabulous tour of all of the wines Chateau Felice had available for sale. We had the opportunity to taste 6 different wines, each more lovely than the last.  And here is where we go back to what Robert Mondavi and Jeff’s theme is all about. The people and the event made this wine moment memorable.

It was more than just Robin &  I in a wonderful place for the first time, enjoying each other and our passion for wine.  It was more than just friends enjoying a nice time.  It was the harmony made between the people, the location, and the wine that created “a time and a place” worth savoring.  We took our time, enjoying each others company. We took our time, enjoying each sip of wine. We took in the beautiful scenery, despite the cold and the rain. We savored our experience.  And Robin and I bought a mixed case of Chateau Felice wines to relive that experience again, and again.

Chateau Felice 2007 Black Label Zinfandel wine

Chateau Felice 2007 Black Label Zinfandel wine

The wine we selected to relive these fond memories was the Chateau Felice Black Label Zinfandel 2007. We selected this wine tonight because not only was it one of our favorite Zinfandel’s from the weekend’s tastings, but because we knew it would go nicely with our dinner of homemade lazagna.  I’ll let the video speak for itself in terms of what the wine has to offer, and leave this wine blog post with it’s mission in tact. I selected a wine that invoked fond memories. And now, I have the blog post, and video, to relive them again, and again.

Wine Blogging Wednesday 57 – California Dreaming from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

I will, as the video said I would, discuss how the wine paired with the meal. I’m going to be making a conscious effort to discuss food and wine pairings in each of my wine reviews and wine blog posts, as many of my friends have asked for this information.  Between the live tastings, twitter taste live events, and my own tastings, I’ve been able to taste a variety of wine with an array of foods, and I want to discuss and share this knowledge.

As the flavors from the lasagna, the sauce, cheeses and pasta, coated the palate the wine transformed.  The Chateau Felice Zinfandel morphed from the bright fruit discussed in the video to this dark and deep wine. There was certainly a coffee and cocoa component on the finish that was very enjoyable.  Much of the zip and pepper was smoothed out, and the mouth feel was much more elegant with food. It was a great pairing, and I’m sure you’d enjoy it as well.

AS always, thank you to Lenn Thompson for helping the wine blogging community stay strong and focused, at least once per month! We appreciate the effort you took, and take, to keep Wine Blogging Wednesday going.

Sobon Estate ReZerve Zinfandel 2006

Sobon Estate ReZerve Zin 2006

Sobon Estate ReZerve Zin 2006

Hopefully you read my blog often, or subscribe to it via RSS.  If that is the case, you probably saw that I’ve had a hankering for Zinfandel wines lately.  You’ll also know that while not bad wines, neither of the wines in that first review really knocked my socks off.  Therefore, it’s time to talk about the next Zin, and see how my socks end up after it’s reviewed.

Zin-Take 1-Pedroncelli and Ridge Lytton Springs 2005

Zinfandel Grapes

Zinfandel Grapes

Every now and then, I get the wild idea that I want to drink nothing except one varietal of wine. That’s semi crazy given the vast world of wines out there. However, I gave in this time when the call of Zinfandel was so loud, it nearly gave me a headache. Perhaps it was the fact that Zinfandel Advocates & Producers Festival had just finished. Perhaps it was that I was  in a wine store’s Zin section, looking at the Wine Road Barrel Tasting events I’ll be at March 14-15, and found 2 of the wineries Zin’s right in front of me. Either way, I was intent on trying a number of Zinfandels, all in the name of posting it on my wine blog for you!

Grocery Store Zins

Grocery Store Zinfandels

Grocery Store Zinfandels

If you tuned in live to the TTL 05 event, you know that after the Hahn Estates wine tasting, I went on to my own Grocery Store Zinfandel tasting. My idea was to find 4 zinfandels in the grocery store, all under $20, and taste them live with you.  A lot of people look for cheap, or at least inexpensive red wine, and I though Zinfandels would be fun for that.

The wines i selected were:

Zen of Zins 06 Old Vines Zinfandel (Ravenswood) $10.50

Cline Ancient VInes 07 Zinfandel $16.50

Estancia Paso Robles 05 Zinfandel $13.50

7 Deadly Zins 06 Old Vines Zinfandel (Lodi) $18.50

TTL 05

Some of the wines that we'll taste during TTL 05

Some of the wines that we

One of the most interesting uses of twitter I’ve been a part of is the Twitter Taste Live wine events. The last TTL event was the first I participated in. It was a Steele Wine tasting, where several of us ordered 6 different Steele Wines varietals from Bin Ends Wine, and tasted them “together”, using twitter to communicate our tasting notes. Some of us tasted the wines with friends having wine tasting parties and tweeted their notes, where as I used Ustream to do my tastings via video and tweeted my notes.  There were about 26 people in the ustream chat, and hundreds if not thousands participating via twitter. The event lasted several hours, and it was a lot of fun.