Friday, September 23, 2016

Celebrate the Mediterranean Lifestyle with Garnacha Wines



One of the world’s oldest and most widely planted wine grapes, Garnacha is grown in its birthplace of eastern Spain, southern France (where it is known as “Grenache”), the United States, Italy, and more. Garnacha is the only mainstream grape with red and white varieties, which are made into red, white, and rosé wines. This year, the Wines of Garnacha are promoting and highlighting the five Protected Designations of Origin located in the area where Garnacha originated: Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Somontano and Terra Alta. Garnacha thrived in the hot, dry Mediterranean climate, and soon spread to the south and east, first to Catalonia and then to other places where the Crown of Aragón expanded throughout the 12th-17th centuries.

Celebrate the Mediterranean Lifestyle with Garnacha Wines

Over its history, Garnacha has gone from being blended with other varieties to standing on its own. In this day and age, winemakers are pushing Garnacha to new heights - it's possible to pair a whole meal with different Garnacha wines: a rosé as an aperitif, a white with the starter, a red with the main course, a red or fortified red to accompany cheese, then wind things up with a fortified white for dessert. Try that with another varietal!

Celebrate the Mediterranean Lifestyle with Garnacha Wines

I received 5 bottles of wines from the 5 birthplace appellations of Garnacha - these innovative affordable wines are made with 50+-80+ year old vines, so it's like drinking history. We tasted the wines over the last week, enjoying them with a variety of foods. The first one opened was on Friday, September 16, Garnacha Day, an event held around the world to celebrate this grape. After that, we decided to try and taste in as many different situations as we could, always keeping in mind that Garnacha is a food-friendly grape and seems to travel well.

Celebrate the Mediterranean Lifestyle with Garnacha Wines

Our white wine tended toward the mineral, with petrol notes, definitely unusual and maybe not for every palate. Paired with well-spiced roasted chicken, we drank the bottle dry. Garnatxa Blanca wines vary across a wide spectrum, from that as we tasted to sweet and fruity. It tends to have a fuller and rounder mouthfeel than other whites as well. Check the Wines of Garnacha website for more information on these special wines.

Celebrate the Mediterranean Lifestyle with Garnacha Wines

The reds were all over the place, so it was impossible to choose a favorite, though the bottle we drank while camping may have been the best simply due to the unique circumstance. Floral, red berry, spice, coffee, grass aromas and more were found in the bottles. Cherry, spice, dark fruit, vanilla and more flavors teased our palates. Paired with everything from hamburgers to pizza and beyond, the wines both complemented and stood up to everything we paired them with.

Celebrate the Mediterranean Lifestyle with Garnacha Wines

This is not our first time tasting Garnacha vinified on its own, and we hope it's not the last - I've worked with the Wines of Garnacha group before, and am always impressed with their dedication, professionalism, and passion regarding these wines. The best thing about these wines is their high quality to price ratio and wide ranging flavors - very affordable to drink and taste across the regions to find wines everyone can enjoy.

Celebrate the Mediterranean Lifestyle with Garnacha Wines

These wines are available world-wide. Find a Garnacha tasting near you to try these wines and buy a bottle (or 2 or 12). Hopefully you won't wait for next year's Garnacha Day to grab a bottle and delve into this unique combination of history and modern winemaking!

Wines provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Snooth Virtual Tasting: Murrieta's Well

Back on on July 19th, an opportunity was had to taste and talk wine from Murrieta's Well (its name pays homage to Joaquin Murrieta who discovered the Livermore Valley estate in the 1800s). They specialize in terroir-driven, limited production wine blends. Snooth co-founder Mark Angelillo led us in the tasting while talking to winemaker Robbie Meyer.

Snooth Virtual Tasting: Murrieta's Well

We tasted the following wines, with select participant notes included:

The Whip White Wine Blend Livermore Valley 2014 (SRP $24):
  • Cliff Brown: The Whip - The fresh and inviting nose has apples, white peach, orange blossoms, melon with a hint of baking spices.
  • frankmorgan: The Whip White Blend: Peach, white peach, peach skin, peach cocktail. Peachy acidity.
  • Sonadora: I get a lot of orange citrus fruits on The Whip
  • Cathrine Todd: White Whip: Only $24 pretty nose, rich body, fresh acidity and long flavorful finish. I want a boat load of this! 
  • Nancy Brazil: Love the aromatics on The Whip White Blend! So floral.
  • MartinDRedmond: Love the bright character of the @MurriettasWell Whip White Blend. Very fresh!
  • Bob Fyke: @Muriettaswell "The Whip" white blend. Wonderfully aromatic blend with fresh flowers and white peach, clean citrus. Energetic with a subtle rich core. Deep and complex. Great value! 
Chardonnay Small Lot Livermore Valley 2014 (SRP $44):
  • frankmorgan: tasting Small Lot Chard: Love the aromatics, texture and balance. Well done Robbie!
  • advicesisterA: very buttery but "sunny"
  • Gabe Sasso: Chardonnay has so much fruit but it's remarkably proportionate
  • BrixChick Liza: love the intergration of the oak and pineapple note in finish
  • Sonadora: Digging the stone and tropical fruits on the palate of the chard
  • MartinDRedmond: The '13 Small Lot Chardonnay shows a harmonious peach,tropical, spice character. Delightful! #SnoothVT
  • Bob Fyke: Plenty of texture in the Small Lot Chard. Plenty of backbone. Nice detail.
  • Cliff Brown: Small Lot Chardonnay - The appealing nose has ripe apples, orange blossoms, vanilla bean, white pepper, white peach, lemon drop candy and a hint of spicy oak
  • BrixChick Liza: love the savory notes from sitting on the lees
  • Michelle Williams: Small Lot Chard creamy texture well balanced with racy acidity; very pleasing
  • Sonadora: Much more tropical on the palate for me. Oak blends nicely in the mouth.
  • michaelchelus: The balance on this wine is lovely. Just enough oak to support the bright fruit.
  • vinotravels: Silky, tropical fruit with a nice touch of oak on the @murrietaswell Small Lot Chardonnay
The Spur Red Wine Blend Livermore Valley 2013(SRP $30):
  • KovasP:  The Spur Red Blend: 40% Petite Sirah/26% Cab Sauv/10% Petit Verdot/8% Merlot/8% Cab Franc/8% Malbec
  • Cliff Brown: The Spur - The intoxicating nose has blackberries, dusty minerals, dry underbrush, warm baking spices, black cherries, blueberries, violets and black peppercorns.
  • Bob Fyke: @Muriettaswell The Spur Red blend. Firm dark plum, blackberry, underbrush, meaty. Palate is textured, firm, complex, juicy palate #snoothvt
  • Cathrine Todd: The Spur Red #Wine is #PetiteSirah dominate giving chocolate, spice & sweet black
  • BrixChick Liza: #snoothVT Nose od Spur is dusty cocoa, black friut and th epossibilities that only exist midsummer
  • WineWonkette: OMG Bucheron with The Spur! The funk loves the dark chocolately goodness! 
  • Cathrine Todd: The Spur Red #Wine is #PetiteSirah dominate giving chocolate, spice & sweet black
Cabernet Sauvignon Small Lot Livermore Valley 2013 (SRP $58):
  • Sonadora: The Cab has a beautiful inky silky nose
  • Michelle Williams: What a brooding Cab! Look at that inky, opaque purple! Wowza!
  • Cathrine Todd: Small Lot Cab S has great balance with sweet & savory notes
  • Cliff Brown: Small Lot Cabernet - The expressive nose has cassis, baking spices, dusty minerals, black cherries, dark bittersweet chocolate and dry earth.
  • Sonadora: I get chocolate and pencil lead on the nose of the cab
  • Sonadora: Lovely acidity on the palate of the Cabernet
  • Lucha Vino: Loads of barrel notes and spices on the nose of the cab. Very dark, spicy and mysterious...
  • BrixChick Liza: It's a fruit expression all right, a tender lovely dark expression #yummy
  • Michelle Williams: Small Lot Cab from @murrietaswell is like a box of dark chocolate covered cherries! 
  • frankmorgan: Really appreciate this Small Lot Cab Sauv, much to unpack here: cassis, black cherry, dark chocolate, dust, herbs...
Read more at Snooth.com

*Wines provided for discussion purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Stoller Family Estate Chardonnays

Stoller Family Estate Chardonnays

The Stoller Family Estate  property spans 373 acres with approximately 190 under vine on elevations ranging from 220 to 640 feet. The vineyard is divided into 101 sections of seven varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Tempranillo, Syrah and Pinot Blanc. Stoller wines are made exclusively from their estate vineyard. This former family-owned farm began its road to becoming a winery in 1993, when purchased, and continued in 1995, when 10 acres each of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were planted. Today, in addition to these signature varieties, the vineyard also grows Pinot Gris, Riesling, Tempranillo, Syrah, and Pinot Blanc. It features North America’s first LEED® Gold certified winery and is a solar-generating, gravity-flow winery. The winery is both LIVE (Low Impact Viticulture and Enology) and Salmon Safe certified. When planning a visit, immerse yourself completely by staying in one of three guest homes located on the property. All have amazing views of the vineyard.

Tasting Notes:
This is a study in contrasts. The 2015 Dundee Hills Chardonnay (SRP $25) is all about ripe tree fruit, floral and melon flavors, tart citrus notes and crisp acidity, perhaps due to it being unoaked and spending its time in stainless steel. On the other hand, the 2014 Reserve Chardonnay (SRP $35),  exclusively sourced from the oldest Dijon clone plantings, is barrel fermented and aged in French oak for 11 months, resulting in similar aromas and notes to the above, yet in a much deeper and nuanced way, adding spice and a more opulent mouthfeel. Both are great examples of how differently this varietal responds depending on the winemaking techniques.
*Wines provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

The Troll Cookbook

It's been a while since I reviewed a cookbook, mostly because I haven't been going out of my way to find new ones and, unfortunately, many seem somewhat cookie cutter. Too many rely on beautiful images and unusual ingredients, making them visually stunning but not particularly motivating. The Troll Cookbook has a simple charm that belies the depth of information in this book.

The Troll Cookbook

While I'm not a huge fan of the troll theme (it can become cloying, much like any fantastical theme), I like how the authors use the trolls as examples of a simpler time of cooking. With a focus on self-reliance, creativity, and sharing with friends and family, this is as much a book about cooking as it is with a reconnection with things we've lost as a society.

Besides cooking and baking recipes, the book looks at foraging, preserving, pickling, and the benefits of the use of open flame. There are stories, "history," and more content that elevates this beyond an everyday resource. Divided into seasonal chapters, this is a book you'll put down but return to over time, discovering new ideas each time.

*This book was provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.

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