Last week, I joined in on a BrandLive and Twitter tasting of 4 different Lodi wines paired with 4 cheeses. I have mentioned before how cool the BrandLive tastings are because you have a chance to interact with winemakers (and also the cheesemonger in this instance) and ask them questions. I really don’t drink many wines from Lodi so it was a great opportunity to learn what is going on with wine in the region. Overall, I found that most of the wines we tasted were a little outside of what I tend to enjoy. However, the 2011 Fields Family Wines Estate Syrah was definitely an exception.
100% Syrah from Lodi. The Syrah is grown in the Fields Family Estate Vineyard, which is certified organic. Aged in French barrels (less than 25% new). Native yeasts, 14.2% alcohol, and a retail price of around $22/bottle.
Enticing aromas of violet surrounded with exotic spices. The bright palate has notes of earth, currants, anise, and black pepper. Smooth tannins and healthy acidity (yet a little hotter than I would prefer). Overall, this Syrah is well worth uncorking!
I am not ashamed to say that a lot of what is on my bucket list revolves around food, wine, and beer. This being said, one item on my list was to try the holy grail of beer, Pliny the Younger, from Russian River Brewing Company. Yesterday, I finally had my chance! Brandon and I made the short drive to Tustin Brewing Company and braved the crowds to get the coveted Pliny the Younger ticket. Truth be told, the line wasn’t as intimidating as we thought it might be. We got there around 10:30am and scored a wristband, which meant we were guaranteed a ticket. We waited in line and received our ticket right before noon, went and grabbed lunch, and returned for our glass at 3pm when the keg was officially tapped.
When our 8oz glasses of Pliny the Younger arrived we were super excited to take a sip. The nose is somewhat floral with nice notes of citrus. The beer itself definitely is more complex than any beer I have ever tasted. There is a salinity to the palate that I tend to only find in wines. There are also tastes of caramel, citrus, and hints of pine. Super balanced and smooth, especially given the 10.25% alcohol content.
On a side note, we had the chance to drink Pliny the Younger side-by-side with Pliny the Elder and PtY definitely won the taste test…much smoother with more layers of flavors.
So, was Pliny the Younger worth all the hype? I have to say I think so (especially if you only have to wait an hour or so for it). By no means do I think it was life changing (and it is definitely not as memorable as many of my favorite wines), but it is a really, really good beer. If Pliny the Younger comes to your area, you may want to join the rest of the beer geeks and get a glass!
If you pay attention to the new(ish) wave of California winemakers who are making honest, unmanipulated wines, then you have probably heard of Matthiasson. The small, family-run winery has been highlighted numerous times over past the few years and their wines seem to be showing up on tons of highly esteemed lists (their 2010 Red Hen Napa Valley Merlot made the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Wines of 2013). That being said, I had to uncork a bottle of their 2009 Napa Valley Red Wine to taste for myself what Matthiasson is producing.
A Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Aged in 50% new French oak and 50% neutral barrels. Unfined and unfiltered with 13.9% alcohol. Retails for around $75/bottle.
Aromas of dark cherries, blackberries, and green herbs. The lush palate showcases notes of cherries and dark cocoa with hints of earth, black tea, and cedar. Even with the rich flavors, the wine is still bright and balanced. A fantastic blend that is well worth the splurge!
Ready to indulge in some shellfish and need a nice wine to pair with it? Domaine Chiroulet Les Terres Blanches is a great choice if you are looking to stay under $15. The winery, situated on the slopes of Gascony, France, produces some really delicious wines out of their chalky-clay soils.
A blend of 50% Gros-Manseng, 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Ugni Blanc. Fermented in wooden and steel vats for 8 months with lees stirring. 12.5% alcohol and retails for around $12. Imported by Charles Neal Selections.
Opens with pretty citrus and floral aromas. The medium-bodied palate is dry and refreshing with flavors of citrus and melon. Nice texture, zippy acidity, and a clean finish. A seriously good wine for a really fair price!
Everyday Italian wines are pretty popular at my house. On a casual night in, we love to make pastas and pizzas from scratch. I am always on the lookout for nicely priced wines to pair with our Italian fare.
One of our go-to, everyday Italian wines is Vallevo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It is a meaty wine with tastes of dark fruit and black olives. Balanced and well-made for the price. It pairs well with simple pasta dishes and also holds it own against grilled meats. I am thinking pasta with a wild boar sauce would be a great combo! (13.5% alcohol, $9)
Looking for a $10 Pinot Noir that you won’t want to immediately pour down the drain? The Pinot Project 2012 Pinot Noir might be the answer. No, it’s not a beautiful, inspired Pinot that will have you thinking about it weeks later but it is definitely worth drinking on a Tuesday night.
100% Pinot Noir from California. Fermented in stainless steel and finished in oak. 13.5% alcohol.
Opening with aromas of cherries and allspice. The palate is medium-bodied with simple and straightforward tastes of cherries and hints of earth. Pairs well with salmon, roasted pork, or all on its own.
I was exploring a few wines from the Navarra region of Spain and stumbled across a unique blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha from Verasol. After a slew of generic wines, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of this bottle given its approachable price of $12.
A blend of 60% Tempranillo and 40% Garnacha from 20 to 30 year-old organically farmed vines. Fermented in concrete and bottled unfiltered. 13.5% alcohol.
Enticing aromas of dark fruit with hints of herbs and minerals. Full-bodied with ripe, dark fruit and balanced acidity. Not complex, but an honest, flavorful wine. Paired really well with BBQ wings.