Broc Cellars is a really cool winery out of Berkeley producing some tasty, naturally made wines. While I regularly enjoy their Carignan, last week I had my first opportunity to try their 2011 Valdiguié . It was the first American Valdiguié I have ever tried and I actually haven’t even enjoyed too many glasses from its native Southern France. Broc produces this wine with full carbonic maceration in order to give it low alcohol (12.5%) and low tannin. In my opinion, they did a pretty nice job making a uniquely delicious wine!
This wine starts with aromas of ripe strawberry and red raspberry. The palate is light and very fruit driven with tastes of juicy red berries and cherry. Fresh acidity and really easy to drink. I think California should be growing a lot more of this stuff!
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with pizza, soft cheeses, or turkey with cranberry sauce (yes, it’s great for Thanksgiving). Serve slightly chilled.
I have been sipping wines from Lioco for the past couple of years and have become a pretty big fan of the wines they produce. Over the weekend, I imbibed in a couple of glasses of their 2012 Indica Rosé. It is 100% Carignan and retails for around $17 a bottle.
This naturally made Rosé opens with attractive aromas of red berries, rose petals, and citrus. On the palate, there are clean flavors of strawberry, raspberry, and licorice with healthy acidity. Really enjoyable and refreshing. Don’t pass this by just because the weather has cooled down…it is excellent any time of year!
If you are searching for a great mid-week wine bargain, look no further than Domaine L’Hortus “Le Loup Dans La Bergerie” Vin de Pays. For around $9 a bottle, this blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Merlot, and 30% Grenache is quite a steal. The grapes are grown organically and the wine is aged in stainless steel tanks. It is definitely a mid-week winner in our household!
This blend opens with rich aromas of red fruit and anise. The palate is smooth and flavorful with soft tastes of black cherry, raspberry, black tea, and spice. Fresh, balanced, and very easy to sip! (13% alcohol)
My Wine Rating – B+
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with rack of lamb, pulled pork sandwiches, or pizza topped with mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes.
On Friday afternoon, I joined in with other wine bloggers to try 3 wines in a tasting hosted by Planet Bordeaux and Balzac Communications. The wines featured were winners from a contest organized by the Bordeaux & Bordeaux Supérieur Winemakers Association (also known as Planet Bordeaux). It was an online video festival titled “My Bordeaux Wine Is…”, where wine producers had both an entertaining and personal dialogue with others by sharing their wines and lives. Each wine was under $20 and 2 of the 3 were pretty awesome in my opinion! Below are my tasting notes for my two favorites!
2012 Chateau de Bonhoste Bordeaux Blanc
A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle. Delicious notes of grapefruit, white peach, and pineapple with floral nuances. Great texture and a clean, lingering finish. Would pair wonderfully with crab or oysters! ($12)
2012 Chateau Bonnet Rosé
My favorite wine of the evening. A Rosé of Cabernet and Merlot with bright tastes of cranberry and grapefruit. Beautiful acidity makes this extremely food friendly! I think this Rosé would be a great addition to the Thanksgiving table. ($15)
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to taste 6 different sparkling wines from Franciacorta. Franciacorta, a wine region in Northern Italy, is a relatively new region for sparkling wine by European standards as it has only been producing them for the last 50 years. This being said, the wine being made is very exciting. I think the region has been able to produce wines that rival what comes out of Champagne for a portion of the price.
Overall, I really enjoyed the tasting. There was only one of the six bottles that I wouldn’t sip again. Below are my tasting notes from a couple of my favorites in the lineup. I really hope you get the chance to check this region out soon!
Villa Franciacorta 2007 Brut
The Villa Franciacorta Brut was the shining star of the night for me. It is a blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir. Smooth texture and balanced acidity with flavors of apple, toast, ginger, and lemon. Elegant, complex, and drinking way beyond the $35 price point!
Fratelli Berlucchi 2008 Rosé
This bottle of Rosé is blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Blanc. There are soft tastes of strawberry, raspberry, and citrus with hints of toast. Very food friendly and well-priced at $27.
Since we are heading into prime shellfish season, I want to share one of my favorite pairings with oysters, Muscadet. In my opinion, Muscadet is highly underrated. Hailing from the Loire Valley, this wine is generally lively and refreshing with citrus and mineral notes. It also is usually under $20 a bottle. When paired with oysters, the flavors in both the oysters and the wine are elevated.
One bottle of Muscadet I regularly sip is Eric Chevalier’s 2011 Muscadet Cotes De Grand Lieu Sur Lie. Its racing acidity and fresh minerality are coupled with tastes of sweet melon and citrus. This pairing is so good that I am actually going to enjoy it tonight. I hope you will make time to try it too!
As I am always on the hunt for a new Grenache, I excitedly picked up a bottle of 2011 Les Vigneaux Grenache while I was perusing the aisles of a local wine shop. Les Vigneaux is an organically farmed winery in the French village of Ardèche. Their minimalist wine making philosophies have produced a unique wine that has a really nice sense of place. The 2011 Grenache is made with native yeasts, unfined, unfiltered, and has 13.5% alcohol.
Musty aromas of earth and anise come from the glass. The palate is surprisingly complex for the price. There are notes of licorice, forest floor, red fruit, and plenty of acidity. A really enjoyable Grenache that drinks like it costs far more than $15 a bottle!
My Wine Rating – A-
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with braised lamb, chicken with roasted carrots and potatoes, or grilled duck breast.
If you read my blog regularly, you will notice I am a fan of Two Shepherds wines. Winemaker William Allen has a way of producing pure, delicious wines that captivate my palate. His newly released 2012 Grenache Blanc is no exception. It is 100% Grenache Blanc from Saarloos Vineyard in Santa Ynez. It has 13.5% alcohol and sells for around $24 a bottle.
This wine opens with aromas of green apples and orange blossom. The palate is smooth and has incredible texture. There are notes of lime, green apples, and honeydew with racing acidity and hints of minerality. This wine is bright, refreshing, and delicious. I would grab a few bottles before it sells out (and trust me, it will).
My Wine Rating – A-
Food Pairing Suggestions – Very food friendly. Pair with shellfish, ceviche, or grilled chicken.
Do you dig barbecue? If so, you have to head to Pork Belly’s in the heart of Venice on Abbot Kinney. This isn’t some fancy, white table-cloth, wannabe BBQ joint. As a matter of fact, it’s take out only sans the couple of chairless tables that line the sidewalk. We were invited to eat there last week and were won over by their delicious sandwiches and indulgent side dishes.
Pork Belly’s clearly features pork (many of you guys might know Brandon and I skip meat) and everyone around me raved of the “The Belly Up” sandwich, which has generous slices of smoked, BBQ pork belly topped with coleslaw. We opted for the “Kinney Joe”, which is a vegetarian version of a sloppy joe, and it was amazing! It was oozing with flavor and didn’t leave us a chance to even miss the meat.
For our sides we chose fried pickles and sweet potato tots. The pickles were salty and fried well. The salt may overwhelm some customers but suit other customers’ taste buds perfectly. The tots were also fried nicely and pretty darn tasty. You can also opt for a version of chili cheese fries, which feature potato tots covered in cheese and your choice of brisket or sloppy joes.
So next time you are in Venice, swing on into Pork Belly’s for lunch or dinner. They are also open late (till 2 am on Friday and Saturday), and this would be the perfect food after a few alcoholic beverages. No matter what time of day, it’s worth every messy bite!