Value Pick – Tilia 2011 Malbec

I am going to start the week off with a great value I picked up at a local wine store.  Tilia 2011 Malbec is sustainably farmed in the Mendoza region of Argentina.  It is relatively easy to find and retails for around $7. 

Malbec

Pouring an intense violet in the glass, Tilia Malbec has pleasant aromas of dark cherry, plum, and herbs.  The palate is smooth and super easy to sip.  There are tastes of cherry, raspberry and pepper with soft tannins and a hint of vanilla.  Nothing complex about the palate but, if you are looking for a good everyday value, pick up a bottle!  It definitely beats out most of the competition at this price point.  ($7, 13.5% alcohol)

Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair this Malbec with simple fare like sirloin, pizza or bison burgers.

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Trader Joe’s Wine Pick for August 2012- Alamos 2011 Malbec

This month’s Trader Joe’s wine pick is a Malbec from Alamos.  Alamos has consistently been producing good Malbec for very reasonable prices.  Their 2011 is no exception.  It is a rich, flavorful wine perfect for summer BBQs!

About the Wine- From the Winery

Alamos 2011 Malbec is from the Mendoza region of Argentina.  It has 13.5% alcohol and retails for $8.99 at Trader Joe’s.  For more information visit www.alamoswines.com.

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Alamos Malbec pours a deep purple color with hues of garnet.  A medley of aromas that include cedar, plums, cherries, and vanilla fill the nose of the wine.  The palate is rich and juicy with tastes of black fruit, cedar, and pepper.  While this Malbec isn’t complex or elegant, if offers vibrant flavors that are sure to please a crowd.  A great find for under $10!

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pairs well with burgers, barbecue ribs, or vegetarian chili.

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Monday Mini-Review- Vistalba Corte C 2010

If you are looking for an excellent red blend that drinks we beyond its price point, then you should probably keep reading.  Vistalba Corte C 2010 is a blend of 80% Malbec and 20% Cabernet from Mendoza that is smooth, rich, and balanced. 

Dark inky-purple with smokey aromas of cherries and oak.  This full-bodied red has delicious tastes of dark fruit, black pepper, tobacco and smoke.  Juicy, complex flavors for around $12…definitely a mid-week winner in our house! (B+, 14.5%)

*Pair with grilled meats, carne asada tacos, or grilled veggie skewers with mushrooms and eggplant

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Super Bowl Party Wine Picks!

Only a few days left before the Super Bowl and, whether you love football or not, there is no better excuse enjoy good food and great wine!  This year I am making German Soft Pretzel Sticks for the big game.  (I adapted my recipe from Food and Wine Magazine and they are super good.  Here is the link: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/german-soft-pretzel-sticks

Here are a couple of wine picks for under $20 that will pair perfectly with your pretzels and football!

2009 Two Birds and a Sheep Pinot Gris

Oregon makes outstanding Pinot Gris and this bottle is no exception.  Notes of pear and peach are infused with tropical fruit.  The finish is clean and refreshing!  A lot of value for your money and a great wine to sip on Superbowl Sunday! (B+, 13% alcohol, $18, media sample)

Santa Julia NV Brut Rosé

This is one of my go to, easy to find Rosés I love to have on hand for guests.  This Rosé of Pinot Noir is light bodied and has lively notes of strawberries and cherries.  Crisp and refreshing, it is extremely food friendly and pairs really well with the pretzels and just about anything else! (B+, 12.5% alcohol, $11)

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Organic Sophistication- 2010 Caligiore Organic Reserve Bonarda

Bonarda…it’s definitely not the first wine most people think of when they think Argentina.  Although it is the second most planted red grape in Argentina, in America, we tend to only think about Malbec.  I have had a few different bottles of Bonarda over the last couple of months and I have found great value in each glass.  The latest Bonarda I uncorked, Caligiore Organic Reserve Bonarda, definitely delivered in taste and in value.

About the Wine- From the Winery

2010 Caligiore Organic Reserve Bonarda is 100% Old Vine Bonarda from the Mendoza region of Argentina.  It has 13.9% alcohol and retails for $14.99.  For more information visit www.marquee.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Caligiore Organic Reserve Bonarda pours a deep plum color in the glass.  The nose immediately got my attention with smokey notes of blackberries, cherries, and cinnamon.  The palate is earthy and rich with tastes of blackberries, blueberries, and sweet fig.  The wine has light tannins and a spicy finish.  Balanced and sophisticated, this wine really won me over.  If you have any negative impressions of organic wines, they will be washed away with your first sip.  Grab a bottle of this incredibly priced Bonarda and enjoy!

My Wine Rating- A-

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pair this Bonarda with osso bucco, rack of lamb, or a grilled steak.

*This wine was sent to me as a media sample

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Light and Refreshing- 2011 Grazioso Organic Torrontes

Every time I sip a Torrontes, I wonder why I don’t have a case of it around at all times.  Generally a melody of wonderful, refreshing flavors, I can see why it is gaining popularity in the US.  The Torrontes grape is the most widely planted white grape in Argentina and it thrives in Mendoza’s warm days and cool nights.  Last weekend, I uncorked a bottle of 2011 Grazioso Organic Torrontes and it was the perfect wine for the warm afternoon I was enjoying.

About the Wine- From the Winery

2011 Grazioso Organic Torrontes is 100% Torrontes from the Mendoza region of Argentina.  It has 13.5% alcohol and retails for $9.99.  For more information visit www.marquee.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Grazioso’s Torrontes pours a pale straw color in the glass.  I was intrigued by its tropical nose full of aromas of sweet melon, lychee, and citrus fruits.  The palate was light and fruity with bright flavors of pineapple, tangy lemon, and peach.  An overall enjoyable wine and great value that will take your palate to a warm paradise with its tropical fruit melody. 

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pairs nicely with goat’s milk brie, a seafood salad, or mahi mahi with mango salsa

*This wine was sent to me as a media sample

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An Incredible Wine Value To Kick Off The Christmas Season!

This week I want to feature wines that are incredible values for the Christmas season.  They are wines you can find for around $10 a bottle that drink like they are twice the price.  These wines are perfect to serve at your holiday parties….your guests should be impressed and your wallet shouldn’t be drained.

The first wine I want to feature is a wine I just found over the weekend at one of my local wine shops.  Alberto Furque 2006 Syrah is a crowd pleasing red that is readily available for under $10.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Alberto Furque 2006 Syrah is 100% Syrah from the Mendoza region of Argentina.  It has 13.8% alcohol and retails for around $7.

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Alberto Furque Syrah pours a dark plum color in the glass.  The nose is loaded with ripe, dark fruit, red berries, and hint of oak. The wine tastes of blackberry jam, raspberry, and prune.  The finish has a mild kick of black pepper with lingering coffee notes.  A great holiday wine value for under $10.

My Wine Rating- B+

Food Pairing Suggestions- This syrah pairs well with a Christmas prime rib roast or lamb pizzettes (a great holiday appetizer- my favorite recipe courtesy of Food and Wine http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/lamb-pizzettes )

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Starting Off My Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations with a Dry Rosé

Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the year.  There are so many incredible dishes and wonderful flavors but it makes it hard to serve just one wine.  I try to serve a few different wines to bring out the flavors in each dish.  One of my favorite wines to serve with turkey is a dry rosé.  The rosé (ideally with notes of cranberries or cherries) will complement the turkey as well as the dishes that accompany it.  Frederick Wildman was kind enough to send me a bottle of Michel Torino Malbec Rosé and it is definitely a nice pairing with turkey.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Michel Torino Malbec Rosé 2011 is 100% Malbec from the Mendoza region of Argentina.  It retails for $13 and for more information see www.FrederickWildman.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Michel Torino Malbec Rosé pours a bright strawberry color in the glass.  The nose is very fragrant with aromas of melon, cherries, and a hint of rosemary.  The palate is packed with fruit flavors including notes of cherry and strawberry.  The finish is dry and spicy with lingering white pepper.  Light, refreshing, and food-friendly…a really nice match for your turkey and cranberries!

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions- This dry rosé pairs well with turkey, cranberries, or a salad with pomegranates, candied nuts, and goat cheese (one of my favorite Thanksgiving salads)

*This wine was sent to me as a sample for the purpose of review

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A Perfectly Paired Wine Lunch Hosted by Santa Julia Winery

This week I had the incredible opportunity to enjoy a wonderful lunch put on by Santa Julia Winery.  If you read my blog, you probably have noticed a few entries featuring Santa Julia’s wines.  They are one of my absolute favorite lines of wine priced under $20.

The lunch was held at the beautiful Rivera restaurant in downtown Los Angeles.  When we arrived (I was joined by my husband Brandon), we were greeted by Julia Zuccardi, the namesake of Santa Julia, who flew in from Argentina along with the chef from the winery’s restaurant, Ana Rodriguez Armisen.  We were taken on a journey through Santa Julia’s wines and each was perfectly paired with a delicious Argentinean dish prepared by Chef Ana and the staff of Rivera.

During the appetizer reception, Chef Ana gave us a demonstration of how to make her signature Chimichurri sauce.  We were also served a tasting of their estate grown olive oils and meat empanadas.

One of the stand out wines served with the appetizers was the Santa Julia Brut Rosé NV.  It is light with notes of strawberries and cherries and is super food-friendly.  For only $13, it is a perfect apéritif.  We were also served Organica Chardonnay (review here http://wp.me/p1vdhr-g8) and the [+] Malbec…all of which I enjoyed.

We were then seated and served a first course featuring a shrimp and watermelon mojito salad paired with Santa Julia [+] Torrontes.  You can find this review on my blog at http://wp.me/p1vdhr-ej.  Torrontes is fast becoming a staple in my home and Santa Julia’s is one the best you will find for the price.

Our main course was a grilled lamb with crispy smashed potatoes, a malbec reduction, and a warming salsa criolla. 

The course was delicious and it was also paired with my favorite wine from the Santa Julia line; Santa Julia Malbec Reserva 2010.  The wine is rich with layers of ripe, dark fruit, tobacco, and vanilla.  It paired nicely with the lamb and is an incredible value for $12.

The final course of the day was a rich chocolate torte with drunken pineapple.  The torte was paired with Santa Julia Tardio 2009 (a late harvest Torrontes) which honestly exceeded my expectations.  The perfectly balanced dessert wine has an aromatic nose with notes of citrus and peach and tastes of pear, honey, and pineapple.  A nice dose of acidity elevates the wine in the finish.

Everything about our lunch was lovely.  I had great conversation with both Julia and Ana and learned a lot about the family values and sustainable farming practices that have come to make Santa Julia so successful.  I also was reminded with each course how wonderful and well-priced each of Santa Julia’s wines are.  I definitely recommend that you give at least one or two of their wines a try.  They can be found at Whole Foods and you can also get more information at www.santajulia.com.ar.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

*This experience was provided by Santa Julia Winery, Winesellers Ltd, and Folsom and Associates.  The opinions contained are my own.

 

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Another Amazing Wine Find From Valentin Bianchi- Elsa Bianchi 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

I am having a lot of fun trying out inexpensive wines in hopes of finding a few that are great values.  This wine from Valentin Bianchi came highly recommended from an incredibly helpful employee at one of my favorite wine shops.  It is by far one of the better Cabernets I have had at this price.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Elsa Bianchi 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% Cabernet from the Mendoza region of Argentina.  It has 13.9% alcohol and retails for around $10.  For more information see www.quintessentialwines.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Elsa Bianchi Cabernet pours a deep, blackish plum color in the glass.  The fragrant nose draws you in with aromas of plum, blueberry, dark cherry, and cedar.  The palate is rich and velvety with tastes of dark berries and hints of nutmeg.  The finish lingers with notes of pepper and vanilla.  This is an incredible wine that truly drinks as if were at least twice the price.  Grab a bottle and enjoy!

My Wine Rating- B+

Food Pairing Suggestions- This Cabernet pairs well with grilled steak, a cheese plate with Gouda and Le Moulis, or dark chocolate truffles.

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