Wrapping Up 2011 and Ready to Embrace 2012!

2011 has been quite an exciting first year for Wine and Good Food.  When I started writing about wine in the early parts of 2011, I had no idea that so many people would actually want to read what I have to say.  I have had so much fun sharing my wine drinking adventures with you guys and have made a lot of new friends along the way. 

I have definitely had some wonderful wine experiences this year that went beyond just opening a new bottle (although that never gets old).  Two stand outs over the past year include a wonderful trip to Napa and Sonoma where I had the chance to meet some of my Twitter “wine friends” live and in person and a wine lunch in Los Angeles hosted by Santa Julia Winery at the acclaimed Rivera restaurant.  These two experiences would have never happened had I not decided to launch my blog. 

Family Wine Tasting Trip in Napa Valley

I have also shared countless bottles of wine with family and friends.  One of my favorite wines I sipped in 2011 was a bottle of 2000 Jordan Chardonnay that I had been cellaring for years (somewhat accidentally).  It turned out to have aged beautifully and was even more special since we uncorked it on Thanksgiving.  Another favorite wine I sipped was a bottle of 1995 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet.  This bottle was special because the same vintage was originally given to my husband and I as an engagement gift but we broke it in a move across the country.  A friend of ours invited us into his cellar and shared his bottle of ’95 Silver Oak so we could savor the gift we never got to enjoy.

Petite Sirah also stole my heart and taste buds in 2011.  It was a wine I never paid much attention to in my pre-blogging days but had an opportunity to taste my way through around 20 bottles earlier this year.  I was blown away by some of the PS’s I sipped…Rock Wall, Field Stone, and Michael David’s Earthquake were among some of my favorites.  I really think America needs to start opening up their palate to Petite Sirah because it is a wonderful varietal that should be easier to find on restaurant wine lists and wine store shelves. 

As exciting as this year in wine has been for me, I can’t wait to see what 2012 has to offer.  I wish all of you guys a wonderful 2012 and hope it is a healthy, prosperous year for all!

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A Rich and Delicious Spanish Wine- Evodia Old Vines Garnacha 2010

One of my ongoing “wine crushes” is with Garnacha.  This past week, while I was perusing the wine selection at World Market, I grabbed a bottle of Evodia Old Vines Garnacha.  Garnacha (or Grenache) is a late ripening grape so it does well in warm, dry regions, such as the Calatayud region of Spain, where Evodia’s Garnacha hails from.  At first sip I realized that this wine is a steal for under $10.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Evodia Old Vines Garnacha is 100% Garnacha from Spain.  It has 15% alcohol and retails for $8-10.  For more information visit the importer’s website at www.europeancellars.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Evodia pours a deep ruby in the glass.  The nose is intriguing with aromas of blackberries, dark cherries, and coffee with mineral undertones. The wine is incredibly smooth and rich. The palate is bursting with dark berries and finishes with a hint of spice.  An incredible find for the price.  Grab a case and drink regularly!

My Wine Rating- A-

Food Pairing Suggestions- This wines pairs amazingly with dark chocolate.  It also is a nice match with duck or a meat stew.

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Two Sparkling Wines To Help Ring in the New Year!

I really can’t think of a better time of year then New Year’s Eve to celebrate with a nice bottle of sparkling wine.  Here is one of my favorite bargain picks and a “splurge” pick that are sure to help usher in a wonderful 2012:

Bargain Pick- Cavit Prosecco Lunetta (NV)

This Prosecco is my pick for a great value sparkling wine.  I love Prosecco and appreciate when I can find a good bottle under $20.  This bottle can be picked up for around $12-14 and really gives you a wonderful bottle of wine for the price.  Refreshing flavors of green apple, peach, and pear are followed by a clean finish.  It’s easy to drink and sure to be a crowd pleaser. (B+)

Splurge Pick- Bollinger NV Brut Cuvee

I have shared this Champagne on my blog before but I wanted to mention it again because it is one of my favorites for the price.  The nose has smokey notes of apple and citrus. The palate has tastes of toasted nuts, ginger, and apple with hints of spice. A beautiful Champagne with fresh acidity and layers of intense flavor.  It’s one of the better Champagnes that I have found for around $50.  A great way to celebrate new beginnings! (A-/A)

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A Great Last Minute Holiday Sparkler!

We all seem to be rushing around these last few days before Christmas and sometimes it’s hard to come up with an easy to find, inexpensive sparkling wine that will please your holiday crowd.  Cupcake Vineyards NV Prosecco is a great solve for your holiday sparkler dilemma.  It is very easy to find (World Market and Whole Foods quickly come to mind), priced right (I have found it for around $8), and is incredibly tasty.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Cupcake Vineyards NV Prosecco is made from 100% Glera grapes from Prosecco, Italy.  It has 11.2% alcohol and retails for $13.99 although it can easily be found for around $8-10.  For more information see www.cupcakevineyard.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Cupcake Vineyards NV Prosecco pours a pale, bubbly gold in the glass.  The nose has aromas of pear, peach, and sweet melon.  The palate tastes of lemon and lime with hints of peach and apple and there are lingering floral notes in the finish.  This sparkler is slightly sweet but not overpowering.  It is a light and fun sparkling wine perfect for your holiday festivities.

My Wine Rating- B/B+

Food Pairing Suggestions- This Prosecco pairs well with deviled eggs, melon wrapped in prosciutto, and candy canes.

*This wine was sent to me as a media sample

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A California Wine Made With An Italian State of Mind

I am a huge fan of California wines.  They are the first wines I fell in love with and I find new bottles I continue to enjoy on a monthly, if not weekly, basis.  One thing I do appreciate about many Mediterranean wines is that they tend to have a little less alcohol than California wines and this shows off the elegance and true flavors of the wine (not that I don’t appreciate a big CA Cabernet, but it’s not the bottle I always want to drink).  The principle of balanced, elegant wines is what Uvaggio, a winery with vineyards in Lodi, tries to adhere to.  I had to a chance to try their Primitivo and was excited to taste a California wine made with an Italian state of mind.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Uvaggio 2009 Primitivo is 97.5% Primitivo and 2.5% Barbera from Lodi.  It has 13% alcohol and retails for $16.  For more information see www.Uvaggio.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Uvaggio Primitivo has a bright nose with aromas of raspberry, cherry, and vanilla.  The wine is smooth with tastes of cherry, pomegranate, vanilla, and toffee surrounded by hints of oak.  The wine finishes with a little spice and a nice dose of acidity to lift the finish followed by lingering notes of vanilla and toffee.  I think this wine has tons of potential but the vanilla and toffee flavors overpowered the palate for me.  I would love to try some of their other varietals because I feel like there is a lot that Uvaggio has to offer.  If you have tried any wines from Uvaggio I would love to hear your thoughts.

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions- this wine pairs well with a grilled cheese pizza, juicy burger, or a baked penne pasta with sausage and ricotta

*This wine was sent to me as a media sample

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A Holiday Pinot Noir Bargain- Pennywise 2010 Pinot Noir

When I found this Pinot Noir, I was super excited to feature it on my blog.  I have pretty much found it impossible to find a sippable Pinot for under $15-20.  I grabbed this bottle on a whim at World Market and was so impressed.  A perfect Pinot for Christmas dinner that won’t break the bank. (or for any other time of the year!)

About the Wine- From the Winery

Pennywise 2010 Pinot Noir is from California.  It has 13.6% alcohol and retails for around $10.99.  For more information see www.togwines.com.

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Pennywise Pinot Noir pours a light ruby in the glass.  The nose is bright with aromas of cherries, strawberries, and cola.  The palate is light and full of fruit.  Sweet tastes of plum, cherry, and vanilla are followed with lingering notes of strawberry.  The wine is balanced, smooth, and one of the best Pinots I have had at this price point.  Stock up for the holidays and you will be sure to bring Christmas cheer to all of those around.  Cheers!

My Wine Rating- B+ for taste and A- for value

Food Pairing Suggestions- Perfect with a Christmas turkey, truffled mashed potatoes, or roasted duck.

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A Sparkling Wine Fit For the Holidays

Some of my fondest memories of North Carolina (I grew up a Carolina girl) are visiting the Biltmore Estate during the Christmas holidays.  The 8000 acre estate is simply magical this time of year…elegantly decorated with attention paid to every detail.  I can’t think of too many places that are more enchanted during the holidays.  When I received a bottle of Biltmore Estate 2008 Chateau Reserve Blanc de Blancs Methode Champenoise, I hoped uncorking it would give me a little piece of the Biltmore’s holiday wonder.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Biltmore Estate Chateau Reserve Blanc de Blancs 2008 Methode Champenoise is 100% Chardonnay.  88% of the grapes come from North Carolina and 12% from California.  It has 12.4% alcohol and retails for $35.  For more information see www.biltmore.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

This sparkling wine pours a pale gold in the glass.  The nose has soft notes of citrus and a hint of baked bread.  The palate is a myriad of citrus flavors with lots of lemon, lime, and pineapple.  Notes of toasted almonds linger in the slightly bitter finish.  The small bubbles makes this brut easy to sip and I enjoyed the semi-dry finish.  This is definitely a great sparkling wine for the holidays and I would encourage you guys to grab a bottle if you are lucky enough to visit the Biltmore (or you can purchase a bottle off of their website).

My Wine Rating- B/B+

Food Pairing Suggestions- This brut pairs perfectly with oysters, baked brie, or truffled popcorn.

*This wine was sent to me as a media sample

 

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5 Thoughtful Gifts For The Wine Lover on Your Christmas List

It’s getting close to crunch time and the idea of finding the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list seems to be a little more stressful with each passing day.  I may not be able to help with every friend and family member on your list, but if you have any wine lovers, this may make shopping just a little bit easier.  Here are some of my top gift suggestions for wine connoisseurs.

Wine

So you might say “no kidding” but there is a lot more to buying a bottle of wine than just running into Whole Foods and frantically grabbing a bottle in your price range.  First and foremost, if you have the time, seek out a smaller, family run winery from your wine lover’s favorite wine region whose wines aren’t available in stores.  If you order a special bottle that is limited in production and hard to find, I promise that whomever gets the bottle will appreciate that you put some thought into their gift.  Plus, a lot of wineries are running specials this time of year so look for discounts on bottles and shipping.  If you are cutting it too close, try a smaller local wine shop and ask their suggestions.  A little work will go a long way.

Wine Club Membership

If you want to spend a little more money, a wine club membership from your loved one’s favorite winery is a sure way to brighten their Christmas morning.  Most wineries have different levels of memberships and most of them have added bonuses like invitations to harvest parties and discounts on cases of wine.

Wine Books

If your budget is a little tighter, books about wine are a great, thoughtful gift.  Natalie Maclean’s latest book, “Unquenchable“, is a wonderful read.  “The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine” by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg is also another favorite pick of mine.  Books about wine will be appreciated by both those newer to wine and those who have been drinking bottles of Bordeaux for 30 years.

Olive Oil, Charcuterie, and Cheese

For those of you who are intimidated by the thought of having to pick out the perfect wine, the foods that complement wine may be your best bet.  In my opinion, wine is best sipped with great food, so this is something almost every wine lover will appreciate.  Olive oils, artisan cheeses, and fine charcuterie are excellent choices.  Try Cowgirl Creamery for cheeses (www.cowgrilcreamery.com), Formaggio Kitchen for charcuterie (www.formaggiokitchen.com), and olive oils from Pasolivo (www.pasolivo.com).

Membership to WineSpectator.com

If all else fails and you are in a total crunch, visit www.WineSpectator.com and grab an annual membership.  It’s quick, easy, and will cost you $75 for an annual membership.  It’s a fantastic resource and will be a gift that gives all year long.

I hope these gift ideas just made your Christmas shopping just a little bit easier.  I promise that you can’t go wrong with these ideas.  Cheers and happy holidays!

 

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A Single Vineyard Beauty From Ravenswood- 2008 Dickerson Vineyard Zinfandel

Most wine drinkers have heard of Ravenswood but unfortunately most of us have only had the chance to try their Vintner’s Blend Zinfandel (which happens to be on the shelves at most grocery stores).  Dig a little bit deeper into the Ravenswood brand and you will find an array of Zins (and a few other varietals) that move past the mass marketed, inexpensive, entry-level wines  into smaller production, single vineyard beauties.  This past weekend I uncorked their 2008 Dickerson Vineyard Zinfandel and was truly impressed by its elegant layers of flavor.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Ravenswood 2008 Dickerson Vineyard Zinfandel is part of the Single Vineyard Designate series.  It is 100% Zinfandel grown in the Dickerson Vineyard on the west side of Napa Valley.  It has 14.8% alcohol and retails for $35.  755 cases were produced.  For more information see www.Ravenswoodwinery.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Ravenswood Dickerson Vineyard Zinfandel pours a bright ruby in the glass.  The wine has an inviting nose with aromas of raspberry, black cherry, vanilla, and a hint of chocolate.  The palate is rich and balanced with red and dark fruit surrounded by dark chocolate and structured tannins.  The long, tangy finish lingers with tastes of mint and dark chocolate.

This is a really intense and complex Zinfandel worth every bit of $35.  And since we are in the midst of the holiday season, this wine is a perfect gift for the red wine lover on your Christmas list!

My Wine Rating- A-

Food Pairing Suggestions- This wine pairs well with a juicy filet, a grilled rack of lamb, or dark chocolate.

*This wine was sent to me as sample

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A Season of Giving and the Community That Gives Year Round

Since we are entering a season of giving, my next series is going to feature some gifts that are perfect for the wine lover on your Christmas list.  But first, I want to take a moment and highlight a community that practices this principle year round.  The wine community is one the most generous communities I have ever had the pleasure of being involved with.  I want to take this time to share a couple of the remarkable experiences I have had this year.

This past November, I was involved with an event for a charity very close to my heart, the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, because my mother-in-law passed away from lung cancer in 2007.  I was very hands on in this event and decided to send out a tweet in hopes of possibly getting a small wine donation.  Within an hour, I had a donation to cover the entire event (over 300 attendees) from OM Winery.  The charity was incredibly blessed by their donation (and OM Winery’s wonderful wine!).

Less than a month later, I was involved with an event for Face Forward, a charity that devotes its time to providing reconstructive surgery for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.  One post on my Facebook page later, and OneHope Wine offered to donate the wine for this event.  The event takes place tonight, and, once again, a California wine company has stepped up to the plate.  These events have and will raise significant amounts of money for the charities and OM Winery and OneHope Wine will play a part in each of the lives touched.

So let’s all take a moment during this holiday season to realize we are lucky enough to be a small part of a community that cares about the people in California and beyond.  Thank you OM Winery and OneHope Wine.  You are part of what makes the wine community so special!  I would love to hear any other stories of generosity from the wine community that you guys would like to share.  Let’s keep the spirit of giving alive all year!

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