Aquinas Philosopher’s Blend 2009 Reserve Red Wine

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to do a Twitter tasting with Don Sebastiani & Sons.  Unfortunately, the wine samples that came in were super tiny bottles so I didn’t get a really good grasp of the wines.  That is why I was super happy when a full-size bottle of Aquinas Philosopher’s Blend arrived at my door.  This Napa Valley red blend is 79% Cabernet, 15% Merlot, and 6% Petite Sirah. 

Aquinas

Aquinas Philosopher’s Blend pours a deep ruby in the glass…the Petite definitely enriches the intensity of the color.   Aromas of plum, dark cherry, spice and nuances of oak combine to make an enticing nose.  The palate has tastes of ripe dark berries and cherry along with pepper, cedar, and soft tannins.  Elegant, balanced and undoubtedly delicious. ($40, 13.5% alcohol)

Food Suggestions – Pair this blend with grilled red meat, pasta with red sauce, or dark chocolate.

*Media Sample

 

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Back to Reality…

Sorry for the lapse in posts but I just spent that last 5 days in Napa and Sonoma!  I had a wonderful time and found some amazing new wines, new restaurants, and also revisited some old favorites.  Stay tuned for some new posts this week and enjoy some pics from our trip!

Beautiful vineyards in Sonoma!

 

My favorite new wine find…Two Shepherds!

 

Delicious seafood stew at Hog Island Oyster Co.

 

A Thanksgiving picnic at one of the only wineries open on Thanksgiving Day…V. Sattui
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Not Just Another Celebrity Wine – Jeff Gordon 2008 Joie de Vivre

Last week, I participated in a live tasting on Twitter with Jeff Gordon Cellars.  The winery sent me a bottle of Jeff Gordon 2008 Joie de Vivre and, to be honest, I really didn’t expect much.  I pretty much brushed it off as a “celebrity wine” and assumed it would just be a so-so bottle from Napa.  To my surprise, the wine was outstanding.  Joie de Vivre is the flagship of Jeff Gordon Cellars and it definitely earns the title.  It is a blend of Cabernet from vineyards in Spring Mountain, Merlot from Calistoga, and Syrah from Yountville.  The blend makes for a beautifully structured, delicious wine.

Tasting Notes

In the glass, Joie de Vivre pours a rich, garnet color and has earthy aromas of dark fruit, spices, and smoke.  The palate has layers of rich flavors.  There are tastes of blackberries, black cherries, currants, and espresso.  There are also notes of plum and vanilla with a lingering, smoky finish.  Allow Joie de Vivre to decant for a couple of hours and enjoy…it isn’t hard to do! (SRP $61)

My Wine Rating – A-

Food Pairing Samples – Pair with filet mignon, rack of lamb, or roasted duck. 

*Media Sample

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Mini-Review- Napa Cellars 2010 Pinot Noir

I am wrapping up a tasting of Napa Cellars’ latest releases with my favorite of the line up; their 2010 Pinot Noir.  A great wine from a vineyard close to the San Pablo Bay, which is known for its fog and cool breezes.

The nose has earthy aromas with notes of cherries and hints of oak and spice.  At first sip, flavors of pepper, tobacco, and strawberries come alive.  Tastes of cherries and fig develop as the finish lingers.  A very impressive Pinot Noir from Napa Cellars! (A-, $18)

*Media Sample

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Napa Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Grill, grill, grill…that is all we do during the summer and I am quite happy about it!  I received a bottle of Cabernet from Napa Cellars and was pretty excited since it seems lately that white wine and rose have been abundant (not that I am complaining because I do enjoy both!).  This wine is a perfect complement for grilled meats and priced well for a California Cabernet!

About the Wine- From the Winery

Napa Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% Cabernet from Napa Valley.  It has 14.1% alcohol and retails for $22.  For more information visit www.NapaCellars.com.

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

This Cabernet has aromas of cedar, blackberries, and cassis.  At first sip, your palate is hit with intense spices.  Tastes of anise, pepper, and nutmeg come alive on your tongue.  The spices are followed with rich, dark berries and lingering cocoa.  A really enjoyable Napa Cabernet that won’t break the bank!

My Wine Rating- B+

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pair with grilled steaks, bison burgers, or dark chocolate. 

*Media Sample

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Monday’s Pick- Napa Cellars 2010 Merlot

This week I am going to be exploring a few wines from Napa Cellars.  I wanted to start the week off with their 2010 Merlot.  Honestly, I don’t drink Merlot much (if ever) but I was pleasantly surprised with this bottle. 

About the Wine- From the Winery

Napa Cellars 2010 Merlot is 100% Merlot from Napa Valley.  It has 14.5% alcohol and retails for $18.  For more information visit www.NapaCellars.com.

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Napa Cellars 2010 Merlot pours a blackish-purple in the glass with aromas of smoke, cedar, and plums.  This Merlot features spice on the palate more than fruit.  There are spicy flavors of cinnamon, coffee. and plums with hints of oak and dark berries.  Rich, full of flavor, and worth uncorking!

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions-Pair Napa Cellars Merlot with sirloin kebabs, lamb shanks, or grilled vegetable pasta with cumin.

*Media Sample

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A Refreshing Pinot Grigio From Luna Vineyards

One of the last times I was in Napa, my husband and I stopped into Luna Vineyards for a tasting.  They have a beautiful tasting room located on the Silverado trail in Napa (a little touristy but still a nice winery).  We tried many of their wines and brought a couple of bottles home with us, including their 2008 Napa Valley Pinot Grigio.  Today I opened up the bottle and enjoyed a glass on a beautiful, sunny California afternoon. 

About the Wine- From the Winery

Luna's Tasting Room in Napa

Luna 2008 Napa Valley Pinot Grigio is aged in stainless steel tanks (96% of the juice) and French oak barrels (6% of the juice).  It is 95% Pinot Grigio and 5% Chardonnay.  The Luna has 14.1% alcohol and retails for $18 (but can easily be found for $10-14) .  For more information see www.LunaVineyards.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Luna 2008 Pinot Grigio pours a white gold in the glass.  The nose is crisp with notes of citrus and pear.  Refreshing tastes of grapefruit, green apple, and guava fill the palate.  The Luna is a smooth and balanced Pinot Grigio.  Overall, it is easy drinking and perfect for this summer afternoon.  It would pair nicely with grilled scallops or a pizza topped with shrimp.  Cheers!

My Wine Rating- B+

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Wednesday Wine Pick from Trader Joe’s- Lost Sonnet 2007 Meritage

I did have to work during my trip to Northern California and I found myself in a Trader Joe’s in Fairfield, CA looking for an inexpensive bottle of wine to keep me company in my hotel room.  After perusing the wine selection, I grabbed a bottle of Lost Sonnet Meritage.  For $9.99 I was hoping it would be a great find for my midweek wine pick.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Lost Sonnet 2007 Meritage is a blend of 58% Cabernet, 22% Merlot, and 20% Cabernet Franc from Napa Valley.  It has 14.5% alcohol and retails for $9.99. 

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Lost Sonnet has a nose of dark berries, vanilla, and warm spices.  It immediately makes me want to sit next to a crackling fire (it’s summer I know).  This Meritage tastes of cranberries, dark cherries, dark chocolate and spices.  It’s a really nice wine for the price with an interesting flavor profile.  I definitely recommend trying a bottle and I may even cellar one or two for the winter when it’s actually cold enough to enjoy next to the fireplace.

Posts from Napa/Sonoma trip in the next 24 hours!

My Wine Rating- B

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Wine Country Interlude

Wrapping up my week in Northern Cal and I was able to spend 2 days in Napa and Sonoma.  I found some amazing new wineries and met some incredible wine makers.  Aonair Wines, Bridget Raymond Wines, and Cornerstone Cellars are among my new favorites!

I also had a chance to meet a few friends from Twitter.  Linda and Quent Cordair have a beautiful gallery in downtown Napa and are so amazing and friendly.  I also had the pleasure of meeting Chef Robin White, Ken from Alawine.com, and Cynthia Cosco (winemaker for Passaggio Wines).

Mix all of this with great wine country cuisine and a relaxing stay at Avia Napa and you have wine country success.  I am looking forward to sharing all of my finds over the next few days.  Now it’s time to enjoy my last afternoon here and head back to SoCal tomorrow.  Cheers!

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Tasting a Small Part of Budge Brown’s Legacy- Cleavage Creek 2007 Napa Valley Reserve Petite Sirah

Last week I received a very different bottle of Petite Sirah in the mail.  The bottle arrived with a picture of a woman on the front and the wine was called Cleavage Creek.  I figured there had to be an interesting story behind the wine so I went to Google to see what I could find.  It turns out that Cleavage Creek was founded by a philanthropist named Budge Brown who lost his wife of 48 years to breast cancer in 2005.  Instead of just letting cancer continue to destroy lives, Budge decided to do something about it and that is when he founded Cleavage Creek wines.  Each bottle features the picture of a breast cancer survivor and a portion of the profits goes to fight breast cancer.  After a little more research it was easy to see that Budge Brown was making a difference and Cleavage Creek wines were just a part of his generous legacy.

The next day I was tweeting away (a place where I spend way too much time) when I saw a tweet that made my heart sink.  Budge Brown’s single-engine plane had gone down Amador County and he had not made it.  What a terrible thing to happen to a man who was changing lives.  Even though I never met him I felt connected through the bottle of wine he had sent to me and the stories I had just read about him.  The wine world was shocked and devastated to hear the news.

What I learned next made me smile. Budge Brown and Cleavage Creek wines make a nice Petite Sirah.  The 2007 Napa Valley Reserve Petite Sirah is a blend of 90% Petite Sirah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine pours a dark, inky purple with a nose of dark berries and a hint of dark chocolate.  This Petite Sirah tastes of ripe blackberries, plum, and clove with smooth tannins and a dry, oaky finish.  For $45, you can not only enjoy a bottle but also know you are helping with the fight against breast cancer…which is what Budge strived to do every day.  Please visit www.CleavageCreek.com for more information on their wines and Budge Brown’s legacy.

*this wine was sent to me as a sample for review purposes

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