In continuing with some great wine finds currently available at Whole Foods in SoCal, I want to highlight 2012 Domaine de Fontsainte Corbières Rouge. The winemaker, Yves Laboucarié, comes from a family that has been making wine since the 17th century. He is continually seeking innovation in the winemaking process (new cuvees, whole-cluster fermentation, temperature controlled steel vats, etc.) without stepping away from core values of sustainable farming and minimal treatments. I have enjoyed his Gris de Gris Rosé many times in the past, but this is the first chance I had to try the Rouge.
A blend of Carginan, Grenache, and Syrah from the Corbières region of Languedoc-Roussillon in France. 13.5% alcohol and a retail price at Whole Foods of $14.99.
2012 Domaine de Fontsainte Corbières Rouge begins with aromas of cherries, blackberries, blueberries, and spice. The palate is balanced with smooth, integrated tannins. There are tastes of blueberries and raspberries with hints of earth and licorice. Smooth, delicious, and super easy to drink! Pair with burgers, steak, or duck.
There is a good chance that most of us will be enjoying a hot dog or two at a BBQ this Memorial weekend as well as throughout the summer. While a lot of people tend to reach for a beer with their hot dog, Rosé is also a really great pairing! Look for a balanced Rosé that is dry with ample acidity so it will hold its own against the meat.
Tablas Creek 2013 Patelin de Tablas Rosé is an excellent choice to reach for whether you are grilling traditional hot dogs or sausages. This blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Counoise offers tastes of strawberry, watermelon, citrus, and minerals with healthy acidity and a refreshing finish. A perfect pairing with hot dogs! (14.1% alcohol, SRP $20)
Yesterday was National Chardonnay Day and I had the opportunity to take part in a Twitter tasting hosted by Wente Vineyards. We had a chance to taste through three of Wente’s Chardonnays and chat with Karl Wente, 5th generation winegrower and winemaker at Wente. The tasting was a lot of fun and each bottle was incredibly different. Here are my tasting notes from the event:
Wente 2012 Eric’s Small Lot Chardonnay
Eric’s Small Lot Chardonnay was my favorite Chardonnay of the tasting by far. The wine was fermented in stainless steel did not undergo malolactic fermentation, making the flavors clean and vibrant. The nose shows floral and apple aromas and the palate offers tastes of green apple, Bosc pear, and spice. A really nice wine! (13.7% alcohol, SRP $25)
Wente 2012 Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay
This bottle was fermented in 50% neutral oak and 50% stainless steel so there is definitely more of an oak influence. The texture is creamy and there are notes of apple and pear. Not a bad option for the price! (13.5% alcohol, SRP $15)
Wente 2012 Riva Ranch Chardonnay
This wine was aged for 8 months in French, American, Eastern European, and neutral oak so it was definitely the most “typical” California Chardonnay we tasted. Notes of butter, lemon, tropical fruit, and oak shine through in the palate. A little rich and buttery for my taste but a lot of other bloggers preferred it. (13.5% alcohol, SRP $22)
Just a heads up that the Garagiste Festival is coming to LA! I am excited about it but can’t be there because of the Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Barbara (bad timing!). Hope you guys have a chance to make it and discover some incredible small-lot winemakers! Here are the details:
The Garagiste Festival: Urban Exposure
The renowned Garagiste Festival comes to the heart of Los Angeles for the very first time. Dubbed “a wildly exuberant and fun wine event” by the LA Times, The Garagiste Festival is famous for shining a light on hard-to-find, high-quality, small-lot commercial winemakers. Urban Exposure 2014 brings over 40 of these artisan winemaker discoveries, from all over California, to the stunning and historic Union Station. Over 100 hand-crafted wines. Cheese & Charcuterie from Wood & Vine. Never before have so many ‘garagiste’ winemakers poured under one roof in the City of Angels. For tickets and info go to www.garagistefestival.com.
July 12th / 2-5pm
Historic Ticket Concourse
800 N. Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
While I normally like to buy wine directly from wineries or at local wine shops, lately I have been noticing that Whole Foods has been stocking their shelves with some really nice selections. The wines that have recently peaked my interest hail from California, France, and Italy. I am going to feature a few of my Whole Foods wine picks over the next couple of weeks and want to start off with a great value that is currently on sale in the LA area. Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rouge 2012 is on sale for $10.99 and is a great companion with grilled lamb or chicken.
A blend of 40% Syrah, 25% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, and 15% Carignan from the Languedoc region of Southern France. Organically farmed. 13% alcohol. Retails for $11.99 at Whole Foods in Southern California.
The nose of Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rouge has aromas of earth and red berries. The palate is light with tastes of red fruit, cedar, and spice. There are also some floral notes along with moderate acidity. Definitely straight-forward but, if you like delicate wines, this is one of the better finds at this price point from Whole Foods!
Want a rich and delicious Rhone blend to pair with your summer BBQ for under $12? If so, look no farther than Les Terrasses d’Eole 2012 Ventoux. Domaine Terrasses d’Eole is located in the heart of Provence, along the path of the Tour de France. The family run winery produces some excellent values, with Les Terrasses d’Eole Ventoux being one of them.
A blend of Grenache and Syrah from the Ventoux region on Rhone. 14.5% alcohol. Retails for around $11.
Pouring an inky, dark purple in the glass, Les Terrasses d’Eole 2012 Ventoux begins with aromas of dark fruit, violets, and minerals. The palate is rich with indulgent flavors of blackberries, violets, and anise. The palate also offers earthy undertones that balance the ripeness of the fruit. Smooth, fruit-forward, and full of flavor! Pair with roasted duck or grilled beef.
Even though I drink a lot of Mourvedre from France and California, I rarely pick up a bottle from Spain. In Spain, Mourvedre is known as Monastrell and is often grown in the heat prone region of Jumilla. While sometimes the wines produced in Jumilla are hot and overpowering, Bodegas Olivares 2011 “Altos de la Hoya” Jumilla is balanced and enjoyable. It is well-made and priced low enough to be a great, everyday value.
A blend of 90% Monastrell and 10% Garnacha from Jumilla. Native fermentation. 14% alcohol. Retail price of around $12/bottle.
Bodegas Olivares “Altos de la Hoya” Jumilla features aromas of cassis, blackberry, and dried flowers. The palate is bold and fruit-forward with tastes of black fruit, spice, minerals, and earth. With soft tannins and a long finish, this wine definitely over delivers for its price point! Pair with grilled meats.
Do you sip much wine from Alsace? If you don’t, you are really missing out on some fantastic values. The region, located in the northeastern corner of France, predominantly produces white wines that are balanced and acid-driven. Kuenzt-Bas, established in 1795, is located in the village of Husseren-les-Châteaux. The winery sits at one of the highest points in Alsace and the vineyards stretch out over an area of 24 acres. I just uncorked a bottle Kuentz-Bas 2011 Pinot Blanc and was impressed with the harmonious flavors of the wine!
A blend of 70% Pinot Blanc and 30% Auxerrois from Alsace. Biodynamic. 12.5% alcohol. Retails for around $17.
Kuentz-Bas 2011 Pinot Blanc opens with pleasing aromas of citrus and white flowers. The palate is dry and features lemon and spice with underlying minerality and balanced acidity. There is also a nice saline quality that makes the wine extremely easy to sip. Clean, crisp, and very food-friendly!
If you live by the beach in LA, chances are you often find yourself wanting a great meal but don’t want to change out of your shorts and flip-flops. The newly opened Hermosa Beach Fish Shop is the perfect option whether you are looking for a casual lunch or a relaxing seafood dinner.
Hermosa Beach Fish Shop (or simply “The Fish Shop”) is a super cool restaurant concept that first launched San Diego in 2010. The idea is simple…pick your fish, seasoning, and how you want it prepared (taco, plate, sandwich, or salad). Brandon and I had the chance to visit this past Saturday and had a great experience. The atmosphere is laid-back, with both indoor and outdoor dining options. There is plenty of parking as well, which is a major plus on Pier Avenue!
We started off our lunch with a Sculpin’ IPA and Ballast Point Pale Ale. They have a great selection of both bottled and draft beers along with several different wines by the glass and bottle. They also have a $5 corkage fee, which is definitely one of the most reasonable in South Bay.
For our appetizer, we shared an order of Shrimp and Mahi Mahi Ceviche served with tortilla chips. To be honest, I was really surprised at how good it was. I have been to “fancier”, more expensive spots that don’t serve as near of a well-made ceviche. This ceviche was delicious with the flavors of the fresh fish, citrus, and cilantro really shining through. A perfect way to start a meal…especially at $8 for a small and $12 for a large order.
For our entrees, we tried Hermosa Beach Fish House’s tacos and the Fish Shop Shrimp. The TKO Taco was delicious. A generous portion of Mahi Mahi grilled perfectly, served in a corn tortilla, and topped with cabbage, house sauce, and tropical salsa. The flavors were bright and fresh…I would order this again for sure!
The Fish Shop Shrimp is one of the house specialities. The shrimp are caramelized in the Fish Shop seasoning and served with a cooling aioli dipping sauce. We really enjoyed them but, beware, they definitely have a kick!
All in all, this is a great spot where you will find delicious, fresh seafood in a casual environment. So feel free to come in off the beach, with your entire family, or on a casual date…you will definitely enjoy your meal!
Elena Walch has built quite an impressive portfolio of wines for her Italian winery, Elena Walch Family Estates. Her story began when she married into a successful winemaking family and left her career as an architect to become a winemaker. Now, she is one of the most well-known winemakers in Alto Adige. One of her newest releases, Elena Walch 2013 Pinot Bianco, is a nicely priced wine perfect for enjoying on a warm afternoon!
100% Pinot Bianco from Alto Adige in Italy. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 13% alcohol. Retails for around $15.
Pouring a beautiful golden straw color in the glass, Elena Walch 2013 Pinot Bianco offers aromas of pineapple and white flowers. The palate has straight-forward flavors of citrus, apple, and tropical fruit. Clean, simple, and food-friendly! Great as an aperitif or with seafood!