Primitivo…it may sound a bit exotic to some but it is actually the same grape as Zinfandel. Li Veli Orion Primitivo hails from Salento, which is part of the Apulia region of Italy. 100% Primitivo and a textbook example of how enjoyable Primitivo can be without being a burden to your budget.
This Primitivo has an intense nose that features aromas of dark berries, cherries, vanilla, and spice. The wine has bright flavors of anise and cherries with a noticeable amount of lifting acidity. Full-bodied, smooth, and pleasing to the palate! (14% alcohol, $12)
My Wine Rating – B+
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with a pizza topped with sausage, burgers, or eggplant parmesan.
If you are a wine lover who fancies earthy, Rhone blends (that would be me!), you may want to read on! I just uncorked a bottle of Kermit Lynch 2011 Cotes du Rhone Cypress Cuvee and am very impressed with what I am sipping for a mere $13. I can’t find the exact blend on the 2011 vintage, but the 2010 was a combination of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre. The wine is unfiltered and definitely packs some bold flavors!
Pouring a dark reddish, purple in the glass, Cypress Cuvee opens with earthy aromas that feature an abundance of ripe, dark fruit. The palate is meaty with flavors of dark berries, black cherries, forest floor, and spice. Full-bodied with structured tannins, this wine will definitely improve with a couple of years!
My Wine Rating – A-
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with steaks, lamb or game meats…a great wine for BBQs!
Since Easter is upon us, I thought I would share one of my favorite Easter traditions. Every Easter morning, my family makes a terrific meal of Baked French Toast with a variety of side dishes including smoked salmon, bacon and veggie sausage for the non-meat eaters. The Baked French Toast is definitely the star of the brunch. We bake bread the day before and then soak it in an egg batter overnight (a few secret ingredients included). In the morning, we throw it in the oven and it produces an amazing version of French Toast!
There is no better pairing for this feast than a bottle of sparkling wine. You can definitely go with a nice bottle of Champagne, but if you are entertaining a large you group and don’t want to spend a fortune, you might want to grab a bottle of Willm Crémant d’Alsace Blanc de Blancs. I have picked this French sparkler before because it offers a great Champagne-style wine for a mere $13. The palate of delicate bubbles, apple, pear and lemon pair perfectly with the French toast as well as most other brunch fare. Just do me a favor and serve the OJ on the side. This wine is too tasty to be mixed with anything else but a great meal!
My favorite wine shop is featuring Champagne this month (lucky me :)). Among the bottles they are highlighting is NV Bereche et Fils Brut Reserve. Bereche et Fils makes all of their wines as naturally as possible – no chemical pesticides and minimal intervention in the wine making process (native yeasts and no maloactic fermentation). The result, at least as reflected in the Brut Reserve NV Champagne, is a beautiful, vibrant wine!
This Champange pours a golden-yellow in the glass and begins with aromas of citrus, minerals, fresh-baked bread and a hint of spice. The palate is quite complex for the price point. There are tastes of lemon, green apple, talc, yeast, and spice surrounded with vibrant acidity. Extremely dry, sophisticated and delicious! (12% alcohol, $40)
My Wine Rating – A-
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with oysters, a wide variety of cheeses or salmon topped with caviar and creme fraiche.
I am wrapping up the week with another pick from Paul Mas. Their 2011 GSM is a blend of 35% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 30% Mourvedre. It hails from Herault Valley in the Languedoc region of southern France and is definitely a nice pick for a BBQ!
Rich aromas of dark fruit and spice make up the majority of the nose of this GSM. The fruity palate is medium-bodied with sweet tastes of strawberry, plum, boysenberry and a hint of earth and spice. There is noticable acidity but the finish is a bit short. For the price, this bottle is definitely worth pouring. (14% alcohol, $10)
My Wine Rating – B
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with grilled beef, pork chops or a pizza topped with mushrooms and peppers.
Last night, we grilled a couple of Mahi Mahi filets and uncorked a bottle of Paul Mas Estate Picpoul de Pinet. The wine comes from Languedoc, which is a wine region in the south of France. Languedoc is known for producing some great values and Paul Mas Estate 2011 Picpoul de Pinet definitely delivers a great QPR!
This Picpoul de Pinet opens up with a melody of tropical and citrus aromas. On the palate, the wine is refreshing and vibrant. There are tastes of lemon, lime, grapefruit and slate with a creamy mid-palate and zingy acidity. Simple drinking and easy to enjoy with a variety of foods! (13% alcohol, $10)
My Wine Rating – B+
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with oysters, Mahi Mahi or a salad topped with strawberries and goat cheese.
I am wrapping up a tasting through Cimarone’s new releases with 2009 Gran Premio Sangiovese and 2010 Le Clos Secret Bordeaux style blend. I have enjoyed every sip of this tasting journey and definitely recommend you seek out some of Cimarone’s wines. I have said it before and really believe that Happy Canyon produces some great wines that are truly underrated!
2009 Gran Premio Sangiovese
Gran Premio Sangiovese opens with aromas of ripe strawberry, plum, clove and a hint of earthiness. The palate is bold and full of juicy, cherry flavors. There are also tastes of clove and pepper with a nice dose of acidity. Simple sipping and perfect with a homemade pizza! (14.5% alcohol, $29.99, Rating – B)
2010 Le Clos Secret
Le Clos Secret has a nose of ripe cherries and spice with musty undertones. At first sip, you are treated to rich flavors of caramel, dark chocolate, pepper and anise. Influences of cherries and a smooth, lengthy finish make this wine hard to put down. Indulgent and delicious! Let this bottle mature and you will reap the benefits. (14.5%, $39.99, Rating – A-)
When I received a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Cimarone, I was definitely excited to pour myself a glass. Cimarone has never produced Cabernet before so I would be among some of the first to try it. I am not a fan of traditional, big, oaky California Cabs so I am happy to say Cimarone’s version doesn’t fit this stereotype. It is 100% Cabernet with 14.5% alcohol and it retails for right under $40.
Cimarone’s Cabernet pours a dark garnet color in the glass. It opens up with earthy aromas of cherries and clove. The palate has an earthiness to it as well. There are tastes of leather, clove, and cherries with nuances of oak and a long, spicy finish. This wine is a bit unruly but will definitely age well. Grab a bottle, hold on for a year or two and you will reap the benefits!
My Wine Rating – B+
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair this Cabernet with short ribs, pan roasted veal chops or pizza topped with mushrooms.
Over the next few days, I am going to be sharing some of the newest releases from Cimarone Estate Wines and their 3CV label. If you read my blog, you have probably seen a few of their wines from Santa Barbara before. Time and time again, Cimarone delivers delicious wines for under $40.
I am starting off with a pick from their 3CV line. 2010 Cilla’s Blend is an estate grown blend of 56% Syrah, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot and 6% Malbec from the Happy Canyon AVA of Santa Barbara. It has 14.5% alcohol and is a great find for $18 (and sometimes as low as $14).
Cilla’s Blend opens up with lovely aromas of raspberries, leather and spice. Very little oak influence allows for expressive, elegant flavors on the palate. There are tastes of rich, red berries interwoven with notes of leather, clove and anise. California wines in this price range with the ability to rival Cilla’s Blend are few and far between!
My Wine Rating – A-
Food Pairing Suggestions – Perfect for steaks, lamb chops or juicy burgers!
Last weekend, I returned home from LA with some fantastic chocolate chip cookies in hand. I went to my cellar and looked for something to enjoy with the cookies as I relaxed from a long day of eating and trying new wines (rough life I know!). I grabbed a bottle of Churchill’s 10 Years Old Tawny Port and it was a great match!
The flavors in this Tawny Port are delicious. The velvety notes of caramel, toffee, toasted nuts and figs are not overly sweet and harmonize perfectly with a chocolate chip cookie. So, if you like chocolate chip cookies as much as I do, try them with a nice Tawny Port…I can’t think of a better combination! ($30)