A Great Wine For a Summer BBQ- Big Pink 2009 Rosé of Zinfandel

I am always looking for the perfect wine to bring to a summer BBQ…something that will be a crowd pleaser and go well with warm weather and summer foods.  After a visit to Annadel Estate Winery last fall, I was introduced Big Pink Rosé.  Annadel, owned by Dean Bordigioni, is one of the most beautiful properties in Sonoma County and hosts some of the most picturesque weddings I have ever seen (their weddings have been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, Real Simple magazine, and C Magazine).  It was easy to be romanced by the property but what I really liked was Big Pink.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Big Pink 2009 Rosé comes from the Alexander Valley and is a Rosé of Zinfandel.  It has 14.5% alcohol and retails for $20.  (Big Pink is named after the Harley on the bottle below…Bordigioni once owned a Harley dealership, this particular model started off red, but due to a faulty paint job, faded to pink…not such a tough motorcycle now, huh?) For more information see www.AnnadelEstateWinery.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Big Pink 2009 Rosé pours a light red.  The nose is full of sweet berries including strawberries and raspberries.   The wine has a “big” berry taste and ends with a smooth, dry finish.  While Big Pink is not a refined Rosé, it is a fun wine and very easy to drink…especially when the weather is warm.  This is a great summer wine so you may want to hop on their website and grab a bottle..or you can do I as did and order a case! 

My Wine Rating- B+

*Wine Pairing Note- I have been asked a lot lately about wine pairing for hot dogs since summer is coming quickly.  Big Pink Rosé is among one of my favorites to sip with hot dogs on a warm summer day!

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Lava Cap 2007 Reserve Petite Sirah El Dorado

My husband and I are a good combination. He loves grilling and I love finding the wines that will compliment the food he is preparing. Tonight he is grilling a beautiful grass-fed filet so I decided to decant a bottle of Lava Cap 2007 Reserve Petite Sirah. Lava Cap is a family run winery in Placerville, CA and I am looking forward to trying their latest Petite Sirah release.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Lava Cap 2007 Reserve Petite Sirah El Dorado comes from Lava Cap’s Granite Hill vineyard.  400 cases were produced and it has 15.1% alcohol.  The wine retails for $30 and more information can be found at www.LavaCap.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

The Lava Cap pours a dark and inky purple.  It opens up with a sweet nose of dark berries and cherries with a hint of cocoa.  The wine has a big, dark fruit taste with notes of blackberries and dark chocolate.  It has a smooth tannins and a spicy finish with lingering notes of sweet vanilla.  This is a really nice Petite Sirah that really went well with the filet.  It is a great wine for grilling and I am looking forward to enjoying the rest of the bottle…cheers!

My Wine Rating- B

*I received this from the winery as a sample for review

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Tasting a Small Part of Budge Brown’s Legacy- Cleavage Creek 2007 Napa Valley Reserve Petite Sirah

Last week I received a very different bottle of Petite Sirah in the mail.  The bottle arrived with a picture of a woman on the front and the wine was called Cleavage Creek.  I figured there had to be an interesting story behind the wine so I went to Google to see what I could find.  It turns out that Cleavage Creek was founded by a philanthropist named Budge Brown who lost his wife of 48 years to breast cancer in 2005.  Instead of just letting cancer continue to destroy lives, Budge decided to do something about it and that is when he founded Cleavage Creek wines.  Each bottle features the picture of a breast cancer survivor and a portion of the profits goes to fight breast cancer.  After a little more research it was easy to see that Budge Brown was making a difference and Cleavage Creek wines were just a part of his generous legacy.

The next day I was tweeting away (a place where I spend way too much time) when I saw a tweet that made my heart sink.  Budge Brown’s single-engine plane had gone down Amador County and he had not made it.  What a terrible thing to happen to a man who was changing lives.  Even though I never met him I felt connected through the bottle of wine he had sent to me and the stories I had just read about him.  The wine world was shocked and devastated to hear the news.

What I learned next made me smile. Budge Brown and Cleavage Creek wines make a nice Petite Sirah.  The 2007 Napa Valley Reserve Petite Sirah is a blend of 90% Petite Sirah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine pours a dark, inky purple with a nose of dark berries and a hint of dark chocolate.  This Petite Sirah tastes of ripe blackberries, plum, and clove with smooth tannins and a dry, oaky finish.  For $45, you can not only enjoy a bottle but also know you are helping with the fight against breast cancer…which is what Budge strived to do every day.  Please visit www.CleavageCreek.com for more information on their wines and Budge Brown’s legacy.

*this wine was sent to me as a sample for review purposes

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A Wine for Summer- Kim Crawford 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough

The weather is getting warmer and it is time to find a few good bottles of wine that match the hot, summer days that are ahead.  I was relaxing on the rooftop of a beautiful bar in Laguna Beach today and I decided to order a bottle of Kim Crawford 2008 Sauvignon Blanc.  Kim Crawford Wines was founded in 1996 in New Zealand.  Their inexpensive vintages have received many accolades and I was looking forward to tasting the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. 

About the Wine- From the Winery

Kim Crawford 2008 Sauvignon Blanc is from the Marlborough Region in New Zealand.  This vintage is 100% Sauvignon Blanc and has 13% alcohol content.  It retails for $13.99-19.99.  For more information see www.kimcrawfordwines.co.nz

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Kim Crawford 2008 Sauvignon Blanc pours a pale yellow and opens up with aromas of citrus and grass.  On the palate, the wine is well-balanced with nice acidity.  There are flavors of lime, grapefruit, and a hint of herb with a crisp, lively finish.  This may be one of the best Sauvignon Blancs I have tasted from New Zealand and it’s hard to believe it is readily available for under $20.  This is a great wine and would pair well with your summer salads and seafood dishes.  Grab a bottle and enjoy it with a sunny afternoon…cheers!

My Wine Rating- A-

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Deep Sea 2008 Viognier

Yesterday, I was enjoying a beautifully made D’affinois cheese, Marcona almond, and honey sandwich (simple yet amazing) at The Cellar in San Clemente when the server suggested I try the Deep Sea 2008 Viognier.  I am always excited to try a new wine from a winery I am not familiar with, especially when it’s a small, California, family-run winery. 

About the Wine- From the Winery

Deep Sea 2008 Viognier comes from the Central Coast appellation in California.  It has 15.9% alcohol content and retails for $26.  For more information see www.DeepSeaWines.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

This Viognier pours a white gold color.  It has a crisp, floral nose with hints of pear and grapefruit.  It tastes of citrus and pear and ends with a long, creamy finish.  This is rich, thick Viognier but there is enough acidity to provide a balance.  Deep Sea’s 2008 Vigonier was a great choice with my meal…it really complimented the D’affinois and I think it would pair well with many cheeses.  If you have tried any of Deep Sea’s wines, I would love to know what you think…I am glad I took my server’s advice!

My Wine Rating- B+

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A Taste of Napa in OC- The Cellar San Clemente

Orange County…home to perfect weather, beautiful beaches, an overabundance of plastic surgery, and a lack of good wine bars. This is why I was so excited to find The Cellar in San Clemente. I have been going there for several months now and each time I find something unique or delicious to indulge in.

 

The Cellar has a wonderful cheese shop as soon as you walk in.  They have a broad selection of cheeses from all over the world (including cheese from Cowgirl Creamery…my favorite) along with honey, charcuterie, and jams.  Heaven if you are a cheese lover and hard to find anywhere else if you are in South OC.  There is also a small selection of wines for sale at competitive prices.

The wine bar itself is rustic and sophisticated yet laid back.  I usually stop over in the evenings when there is often live music but today I came in for a relaxing, Sunday lunch. The Cellar has a nice selection of wines by the glass (54 options today), with many coming from California.  They also offer wine flights and a large craft beer list.  It is hard to find a place nearby with this diverse of a selection. 

Today I ordered their cheese, honey, and almond sandwich.  The sandwich was served on a fresh, toasted baguette with D’affinois cheese from France, Marcona almonds, and raw, organic honey.  The waiter suggested a glass of Deep Sea 2008 Viognier and it paired nicely with the sandwich. (review to follow)  It was a wonderful lunch enjoyed on their patio in downtown San Clemente. 

I feel like I get a small piece of Napa when I come to The Cellar.  Unpretentious (none of that wine snobbery nonsense), fresh, comforting foods (you should try their lobster mac and cheese), and an abundance of CA wines…if you are anywhere close to San Clemente you should stop in.  I assure you that you will thank me later.

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Bodegas Luzon “Luzon” Jumilla 2008

I have heard good things about the 2007 vintage of this wine.  It was named Wine Enthusiast’s #1 Top Value Wine of 2008 and many rave reviews have been written about it.  I was wandering around Whole Foods today (I could spend hours exploring my favorite grocery store and often do) and the 2008 vintage caught my eye so I grabbed a bottle. 

About the Wine- From the Winery

The Luzon Jumilla 2008 is 70% Monastrell and 30% Syrah with 14.5% alcohol.  The wine comes from the Jumilla appellation in Spain and retails for around $8.  For more information see www.bodegasluzon.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

The wine pours an intense purple.  It has a sweet and spicy nose of ripe blackberries and pepper with floral undertones.  I immediately think this wine is going to make a statement…indeed it does.  It is a powerful, spicy wine with big fruit tastes of blackberry and blueberry surrounded by silky tannins.  It explodes with a long peppery finish and a hint of licorice as it lingers.   This is a nice, flavor-packed wine and is definitely worth buying, especially for $8. 

 My Wine Rating- B

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Parducci 2007 Petite Sirah

I am always looking for a good “green” wine. I am a huge proponent of organic and natural foods but it is sometimes hard to find an enjoyable environmentally friendly wine. Parducci is a family owned winery in Ukiah, CA that is committed to sustainable winegrowing practices. They use 100% green power, use earth friendly packaging, and are the 1st US carbon neutral winery. I am excited to try their 2007 Petite Sirah and am hoping it is a green wine that delivers both taste and value.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Parducci’s 2007 Petite Sirah is from Mendicino County. It was bottled in November of 2009 and has 13.5% alcohol content. The wine retails for $10.99 and you can find more information about the wine at www.Parducci.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

The Parducci pours a dark plum. It has a nose of dark berries and cherries with hints of spice and dark chocolate. This Petite Sirah opens up big and bold tastes of cherries, plum, and blackberries. The wine has supple tannins and a spicy, dry finish.  This green winery has made a pretty good first impression….and yet another nice Petite Sirah that won’t break the bank.

My Wine Rating- B 

*this wine was sent to me as a sample for review

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A Few Notes from My Petite Sirah Tasting Journey

I have been able to taste 15 bottles of Petite Sirah in the last few weeks and have learned a lot about the wine from Durif.  I want to summarize some of my thoughts and tasting experiences thus far (even though there will definitely be more PS reviews to come since I have several more bottles awaiting me).

First of all, I love Petite Sirah.  While not all bottles are equal, the good ones are really amazing.  I love pairing the perfect bottle with lamb, roasted duck, or even with a simple, juicy burger. 

Secondly, you can find a wonderful bottle of Petite Sirah whether you want to spend $40 or $10.  Coming into this tasting, I thought you had to spend at least $20 to find a drinkable Petite Sirah but I was really wrong.  I have had a few standouts that are easily in a mid-week wine price range.  This being said, here are some of the bottles I have enjoyed the most (at different price points) and that you may want to grab for yourself:

Field Stone 2007 Staten Family Reserve Petite Sirah- My first bottle was a winner.  Elegant and refined with sweet, ripe fruit.  A wonderful wine for $35.  http://wp.me/p1vdhr-1h

Bogle 2008 Petite Sirah– It can be a challenge to find what this wine delivers for $11(and often only $8-10 at some retailers).  You can afford to drink it on a Wednesday but don’t have to worry about what your guests will think if you serve it on a Saturday. Balanced fruit and smooth tannins.   http://wp.me/p1vdhr-1O

Michael David Winery 2008 Earthquake Petite Sirah– This was my favorite wine of the 15 bottles and was $24.  Big, complex, and unforgettable. http://wp.me/p1vdhr-3M

More reviews coming soon…in the line-up are Lava Cap, Cleavage Creek, and Parducci.  Cheers!

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Wednesday Night Wine- Smoking Loon 2008 Petite Sirah

I am always in search of enjoyable wines for under $15 for your average weeknight drinking pleasure.  Smoking Loon has a variety of wines that you can find at almost any major grocery store for under $10.  They graciously sent me a bottle of their 2008 Petite Sirah as a sample for review.  I am interested to see what it offers for the price of $8. 

About the Wine- From the Winery

Smoking Loon Petite Sirah is a California wine that is a blend of Petite Sirah and Syrah (percentages are not given).  The wine has an alcohol content of 13.5% and retails for around $8.  For more information see www.DonandSons.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

The Smoking Loon pours a deep purple.  The nose is subtle for a Petite Sirah but there are a lot of different aromas.  There are notes of blackberries, dark cherries, vanilla, spices, and a hint of oak.  The wine tastes of raspberries and boysenberries with a little hint of dark chocolate.  The earthy tannins are followed by a long, peppery finish.   With most wines, you get what you pay for…but with Smoking Loon, you will generally get a little more bang for your buck.  While it’s not complex or refined, it’s a respectable wine for $8 and it can often be found for $6-7.  If you try a bottle, let me know what you think!

My Wine Rating- B-

*this wine was sent to me as a media sample for review

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