Petillant Naturel – Salinia “Twenty Five Reasons”

I don’t think I have ever started off a post with this way, but there is a first time for everything – Wow.  I drank my last sip of Salinia “Twenty Five Reasons” almost a week ago and I am still thinking about it!

Kevin Kelley is the winemaker behind Salinia’s “Twenty Five Reasons”.  It is a skin-fermented (14 days) Sauvignon Blanc from organically farmed vines in Mendocino County.  All parts of the grape, including stems, were used.  As with all Pet Nats, the secondary fermentation occurred naturally in the bottle.  The wine is both unfined and unfiltered.

Salinia "Twenty Five Reasons"

Salinia “Twenty Five Reasons”

In the glass, Twenty Five Reasons is golden and very cloudy.  The aromas of the wine are intriguing and unravel with time.  The coolest part about this wine is how it constantly evolves in your mouth and with air. Before too much air, the wine features tastes of minerals, apples, and white peaches.  With a little time, the palate delivers an invigorating, grapefruit filled punch.  As the fruit notes begin to fade, the flavors transcend once again, leaving you with a dry, yeasty finish.

This is undoubtedly one of the most interesting wines I have had in a while.  If I were you, I would find a bottle so you can experience the dynamic potential of California wines.  (12% alcohol, $22.99)

Old is New Again – Petillant Naturel

Petillant Naturel…have you heard of it or tasted it?  Petillant Naturel (or Pét-Nat, as it is often casually referred to), is a sparkling wine made in a completely different style than that of Champagne and other common sparkling wines.  The wines are bottled during primary fermentation, capturing the naturally released carbon dioxide.  The process produces bubbles organically, without the addition of outside sugars.  This age-old winemaking style has been making a comeback over the last several years.

More notes on these Pét-Nats this week!

Tasting notes on these Pét-Nats this week!

This week I am going to highlight a couple of excellent Pét-Nats that I have fallen in love with.  The wines, which vary in taste profile, are quirky, unusual, and hard to stop thinking about long after the bottles are gone.  Stayed tuned for tasting notes and tips on where to find these delicious wines!

Exploring the Wines of Fattoria Casabianca

Fattoria Casabianca is an estate winery located in Tuscany that spans over 1500 acres.  The property hosts beautiful vineyards along with well-appointed farmhouses that are available as vacation rentals.  Fattoria Casabianca focuses on popular Italian varieties as well as lesser-known grapes from the region.  The grapes are farmed organically and the wines are well-made and approachable.

I recently had the chance to taste through some of Fattoria Casabianca’s recent releases and really enjoyed the diversity of the wines.  I don’t know how readily available they are in the US but I definitely recommend exploring the wines if you come across them.  The wines seem to be available in Europe for under the equivalent of $20 (other than the 2008 Belsedere), so they definitely offer a great value!

The wines of Fattoria Casabianca

The wines of Fattoria Casabianca

2013 Fattoria Casabianca Roscato 

A lovely Rosé of Sangiovese that features soft, refreshing notes of strawberries and red currants.  Balanced acidity with a great mouthfeel.  One of my favorite wines of the tasting! (13% alcohol)

2013 Fattoria Casabianca Cleo Toscana 

This blend of 75% Vermentino and 25% Viognier offers bright citrus flavors along with notes of pear and jasmine.  Crisp, vibrant, and really enjoyable!  Paired incredibly well with a shrimp scampi recipe that we served alongside the wine. (13.5% alcohol)

2011 Fattoria Casabianca Loccareto Canaiolo

This was my first experience with 100% Colorino, a grape that is primarily used in blends.  Tastes of raspberry and cassis are surrounded by nuances of oak and spice.  Easy to drink and food-friendly. (14% alcohol)

2013 Fattoria Casabianca Colli Senesi Chianti

The 2013 vintage is made with 80% Sangiovese and a blend of 20% Cabernet, Canaiolo, and Colorino.  The wine offers tastes of red cherry and cranberry along with notes of red currants and spice.  Soft tannins and balanced acidity.  A great wine to pair with hearty Italian pasta dishes! (14% alcohol)

2011 Fattoria Casabianca Colli Senesi Chianti Riserva

Colli Senesi Chianti Riserva is a harmonious blend 85% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot, 5% Canaiolo, and 5% Colorino.  Cherry, blackberry, cranberry, and dark currants mingle with hints of vanilla and leather.  Well-integrated tannins and a lengthy finish.  This wine will likely improve with a bit more time in the bottle.  (14.5% alcohol)

2008 Fattoria Casabianca Colli Senesi Chianti Riserva Belsedere 

This 100% Sangiovese is the most well-structured wine of the lineup.  Flavors of cherry, licorice, and leather are met with prominent tastes of oak and vanilla.  A little too oaked for my palate but still a nicely made wine.  Pair with meaty dishes.  (14% alcohol)

 *Media samples

2013 Fattoria San Lorenzo Il Casolare Rosso

If you are looking for a great value to kick of the New Year, look no farther than Fattoria San Lorenzo Il Casolare Rosso.  This blend of 50% Montepulciano and 50% Sangiovese is a declassified Rosso Piceno, which helps keep the price point low.  The vineyards, located in the Marche region of Italy, are farmed biodynamically and organically and there is minimal intervention in Fattoria San Lorenzo’s winemaking process.

Il Casolare Rosso

Fattoria San Lorenzo Il Casolare Rosso

Il Casolare Rosso offers fruity notes that are juicy and not jammy.  There are also notes of herbs and spice along with a pure finish.  Balanced and food-friendly.  I have tasted a lot of values over the years and I think this wine earns a spot in my top 10!  Such a fantastic wine for the price! (12.5% alcohol, $12)

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Picks for New Year’s Eve

Sparkling wine is an essential part of any New Year’s Eve Celebration.  We always enjoy bottles with oysters to begin the night as well as with our midnight toast to welcome in the new year!  Here are 3 picks at different price points that are sure to start 2015 off right!

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year!!!

NV Domaine Brazilier Méthode Trad Brut

One choice that is a favorite at Wine and Good Food for under $20 is NV Domaine Brazilier Méthode Trad Brut.  This blend of Chenin Blanc and Pineau d’Aunis from the Loire will draw you in with aromas of fresh-baked bread and baked apples.  The palate is equally delicious with tastes of apples and nutmeg along with vibrant acidity.  A definite crowd pleaser! ($15)

Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Brut

Franciacorta is a region in Italy producing excellent sparkling wine at price points that are usually far below the price points of Champagne.  Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Brut is a blend of 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Blanc, and 10% Pinot Noir.  The palate offers soft, creamy notes of citrus and fresh-baked bread with floral undertones.  A great value, especially for those who don’t want an exceptionally dry sparkling wine.  ($35; sample)

NV Charles Dufour Champagne Extra Brut Bulles de Comptoir #2

Rounding out the New Year’s Eve picks is one of my favorite Champagnes for under $100 (and it’s way below $100); NV Charles Dufour Champagne Extra Brut Bulles de Comptoir #2.  This blend of 55% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, and 10% Pinot Blanc is sans soufre and absolutely delicious.  The Champagne has clean flavors of apple and pear with hints of yeast and minerals.  Bright acidity and fine bubbles make it an excellent match for oysters.  ($45; if you are local to Los Angeles, Domaine LA may still have a few bottles on the shelf)

Last Minute Christmas Gifts for Wine Lovers

Looking for a last-minute gift to give the wine lovers in your life?  Finding something for the wine geek who has everything can be a bit stressful so we compiled a list of a few items that you should be able to get in time for Christmas!

For The Intellectual

The Essence of Wine by Alder Yarrow

The Essence of Wine by Alder Yarrow

Most wine lovers enjoy reading a great book about wine.  A couple of months ago, well-known wine blogger Alder Yarrow released a book called “The Essence of Wine“, which has received great reviews from the likes of Food & Wine Magazine and The New York Times.  The book can be hard to get your hands on (it is on backorder on Alder’s site), but you can be sure that the wine lover in your life will appreciate it (and probably doesn’t already have it).  It is an excellent coffee table book!

For The Connoisseur

Kermit Lynch

Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant

Grabbing a bottle or two of wine a wine geek will truly appreciate can be intimidating.  One place you can go to grab unique wines that almost any wine enthusiast will dig is Kermit Lynch.  Kermit imports some of the most authentic and beautiful wines from France and Italy.  This month, he is even featuring holiday sampler packages where the wine has already been picked out for you (too easy, right?). You can be sure the wine will be both distinct and delicious.

For The Foodie

Il Fiorello is a great spot for domestic olive oil

Il Fiorello is a great spot for artisan olive oil

As a foodie and wine lover myself, there is one thing I can’t get enough of…artisan olive oil.  I love having it on hand to pair with great bread or to cook with and it’s excellent to serve when friends are over.  One great spot to order a gift from is Il Fiorello.  Il Fiorello is a family-owned, small production olive oil company based in Napa County.  I just enjoyed olive oil samples from the company and was super impressed.  They have single bottles in addition to gift sets.  This is also a great host or hostess gift to bring to a New Year’s Eve party!

Holiday Food Pairing: Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay and Baked Eggs Florentine

The holidays are upon us and many of us are tasked with putting together menus that will impress our family and friends.  Brunch with friends is a must in our household during the Christmas season so I was really excited to see that Wente Vineyards partnered with America’s Test Kitchen to put together a fantastic brunch pairing; matching their 2013 Morning Fog Chardonnay with a delicious Baked Eggs Florentine recipe.

2013 Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay opens with aromas of green apples and citrus.  The palate is lively with fresh tastes of lemons, green apples, and hints of oak.  Balanced and perfect for brunch.  Pairing this with Baked Eggs Florentine is sure to make a great holiday brunch!

Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay

Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay

For more great holiday wine pairings, visit Wente Vineyards.

Eggs Florentine Recipe from Wente and America’s Test Kitchen:

In order for the eggs to cook properly, it is critical to add them to the hot filling–lined ramekins quickly. Use 6-ounce ramekins with 3¼-inch diameters, measured from the inner lip. It is imperative to remove the eggs from the oven just after the whites have turned opaque but are still jiggly—carryover cooking will finish the job. We developed this recipe using a glass baking dish; if using a metal baking pan, reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees. This recipe can be doubled. If doubling, bake the ramekins in two 13 by 9-inch dishes and increase the baking times in steps 3 and 4 by 1 minute.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¾ cup half-and-half
10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and
squeezed dry
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
Salt and pepper
⅛ teaspoon dry mustard
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil spray
6 large eggs

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to
500 degrees.
2. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add
shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3
minutes. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
Gradually whisk in half-and-half; bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly.
Simmer, whisking frequently, until thickened, 2 to
3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in spinach, Parmesan,
¾ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, mustard, nutmeg,
and cayenne.
3. Lightly spray six 6-ounce ramekins with oil spray. Evenly
divide spinach filling among ramekins. Using back of spoon,
push filling 1 inch up sides of ramekins to create 1/8-inch-thick
layer. Shape remaining filling in bottom of ramekin into 1½-inch
diameter mound, making shallow indentation in center of mound
large enough to hold yolk. Place filled ramekins in 13 by 9-inch
glass baking dish. Bake until filling just starts to brown, about 7
minutes, rotating dish halfway through baking.
4. While filling is heating, crack eggs (taking care not to break
yolks) into individual cups or bowls. Remove dish with ramekins
from oven and place on wire rack. Gently pour eggs from cups
into hot ramekins, centering yolk in filling. Lightly spray surface
of each egg with oil spray and sprinkle each evenly with pinch salt.
Return dish to oven and bake until whites are just opaque but still
tremble (carryover heat will cook whites through), 6 to 8 minutes,
rotating dish halfway through baking.
5. Remove dish from oven and, using tongs, transfer ramekins to wire rack. Let stand until whites are firm and set (yolks should still be runny), about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Follow recipe through step 3, skipping baking of lined ramekins.
Wrap ramekins with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
To serve, remove plastic and heat lined ramekins, directly from
refrigerator, for additional 3 to 4 minutes (10 to 11 minutes total)
before proceeding with recipe.

*Media Sample

Cabernet Values for the Holidays!

A lot of people struggle to find a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon to bring to a holiday gathering that is well-priced and actually tastes good!  Here are two different styles of Cabernet, 2012 Rickshaw Wines Cabernet Sauvignon and 2012 Parducci True Grit Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, that are both great values!

2012 Rickshaw Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

Rickshaw Wines Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec, and 4% Cabernet Franc from California.  Smooth tastes of raspberries and cassis mingle with notes of plum and coffee.  Minimal intervention in the winemaking process allow the pure tastes of the grapes to shine through.  An excellent Cabernet for the price! (13.8% alcohol, $15)

2012 Parducci True Grit Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Parducci True Grit Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Parducci True Grit Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Parducci’s Mendocino County True Grit Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and 5% Syrah that opens with aromas of dark berries, dark cherries, tobacco.  The palate is medium-bodied with tastes of cassis, dark chocolate, and smokey tobacco along with hints of vanilla.  Balanced in alcohol and not over-oaked, this Cabernet is very food friendly! (13.5% alcohol, $30)

*Media Sample

Three Great Thanksgiving Wines For Under $20

Thanksgiving is next week and it can be tough to find enjoyable wines that won’t drain your bank account.  Good news – we did the work for you and found delicious, affordable wines that will pair really well with your Thanksgiving meal!  Here are three wine picks that we feel deliver a lot of bang for your holiday buck!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

NV Domaine Brazilier Méthode Trad Brut

No Thanksgiving meal is complete without a great bottle of sparkling wine.  One excellent choice for under $20 is NV Domaine Brazilier Méthode Trad Brut.  This blend of Chenin Blanc and Pineau d’Aunis from the Loire will draw you in with aromas of fresh baked bread and baked apples.  The palate is equally delicious with tastes of apples and nutmeg along with vibrant acidity.  Easy to sip throughout the meal! ($15)

2013 The Pinot Project Pinot Noir

Need a solid Pinot Noir to pair with your turkey for under $15?  Look no further than The Pinot Project.  It’s not complex but the medium-bodied wine offers enjoyable tastes of cherries with hints of earth and spice.  A definite crowd pleaser! ($12)

Marcel Lapierre 2013 Raisins Gaulois

Marcel Lapierre 2013 Raisins Gaulois is 100% Gamay and a perfect Thanksigiving wine. Your palate is met with a medley of raspberries, cherries, and cranberries along with hints of pepper and lively acidity.  Light-bodied and pairs wonderfully with turkey and stuffing! ($13)

West of West Wine Festival – Orange County

Last weekend, Brandon and I attended the inaugural West of West Wine Festival in Orange County.  The event, held at the Honda Center in Anaheim, was put on by the West Sonoma Coast Vintners in partnership with Orange Coast Magazine, Celebrity Cruises, and Hartford Family Wines.  West of West exclusively featured wineries from the West Sonoma Coast, a region known for producing cool climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah.

West of West Wine Festival

West of West Wine Festival

West of West afforded attendees the chance to not only taste delicious, well-made wines, but to also have one-on-one conversations with winemakers from many of the wineries pouring at the festival.  Here are a few of my favorite wines along with tasting notes from the event:

Pinot Noir standouts at the West of West Wine Fesitval

Pinot Noir standouts at the West of West Wine Festival

2012 Small Vines “MK” Vineyard Pinot Noir

Elegant flavors of dark berries and black cherries are coupled with floral undertones and hints of spice. A beautiful wine that will age with grace! (13.5% alcohol, $70)

2012 Red Car Hagan Vineyard Pinot Noir

Layers of cranberries, pomegranate, black tea, and spice.  Complex and balanced flavors that are enjoyable now but will benefit from more time in the bottle.  One of the best wines I have tasted from Red Car! (13.7% alcohol, $68)

2012 LaRue Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Bright tastes of cranberries, raspberries, and cherries are met with notes of black tea and rose petals.  Structured and well-balanced.  Such an impressive effort from this young winery! (13% alcohol, $60)

2012 Gros Ventre Campbell Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir

Harmonious layers of flavors that include black cherries, dark berries, licorice and earth.  Vibrant acidity and a complexity that unravels with each sip.  So glad I had the chance to try the Pinot Noir from Gros Ventre…some of the best at West of West! (13.8% alcohol, Continue reading