Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Woodchuck's Michigan Local Nectar Cider

Over the years, I've spent a lot of time in the state of Michigan, going to summer camp as a youth and exploring the mitten as an adult. If I could move and had to choose to stay in the Midwest, I'd look for a home in Michigan. Great nature, agriculture, and a burgeoning food and drink scene that is well-supported by locals and visitors alike. I jumped at the chance to try Local Nectar, a cider made from only Michigan State apples by Vermont's Woodchuck Hard Cider. The only negative is that you'll need to head to Michigan to taste this.

Woodchuck's Michigan Local Nectar Cider

This version of Local Nectar is the second, after the initial Vermont apple version, with red and golden delicious apples from Northern Michigan. It has a nice aroma of fresh apples, is crisp, not too sweet, light and refreshing on the palate. Nice simple cider and the only way to improve it, IMO, is to source organic apples.

This cider was provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

WineStudio: Bodegas Paniza

WineStudio: Bodegas Paniza

Last up for the April WineStudio, Online Session XXIII, The Next Great Grape – The Cariñena Garnacha, with a virtual visit to and tasting of Bodegas Paniza. From the Protocol Wine Studio website: 
“Founded in 1953, Bodegas Paniza is named for the village where the winery is located, and where growers have cared for their vineyards for generations. The winery is situated in the highest elevation area of D.O.P. Cariñena to the south, at the rise of the Sistema Ibérico Mountain range, which brings cooling influences even in the peak of summer. Paniza benefits from a wide variety of microclimates spanning limestone, sand and clay stone soils which allow the team to choose between a variety of vineyards to find the balance they need.”
Tasting Notes:

WineStudio: Bodegas Paniza
(Inexplicably forgot to take photo of this bottle, borrowed this one from Dezel at MyVinespot.com)
2012 Viñas Viejas de Paniza Garnacha: 100% Garnacha; lots of manipulation on this wine (macerates 15 days, fermentation in stainless steel tanks with several rackings per day,wine is then decanted and aged in American and French oak barrels for 6 months, then filtered before bottling); dark purplish color; berry, spice, and toast aromas; plenty of cherry, red berry, and spice flavors moving into a mineral finish; cork closure; SRP $18.
WineStudio: Bodegas Paniza

2008 Paniza Artigazo: 40% Garnacha, 30% Syrah and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from ~40 year old vines; hand harvested then fermented in stainless steel tanks, with the free-run wine aged sur lie in new French oak barrels for up to 18 months; dark berry, spice, and earth aromas; more dark berry, earth, herb, wood, and toasty bread flavors, with a subtle balsamic undercurrent; cork closure; SRP $27.
These wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

PROTOCOL #WineStudio presents an online twitter-based educational program where we engage our brains and palates! It’s part instruction and tasting, with discussions on producers, varieties, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food matching and what all this means to us as imbibers.

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Moretti's Ristorante and Pizzeria, Hoffman Estates

Moretti's Ristorante and Pizzeria, Hoffman Estates

Moretti's Ristorante and Pizzeria in Hoffman Estates is not a small establishment, at 10,000 square feet it accommodates up to 350 people in the three separate dining rooms, a high energy bar area, with room for another 300 people outdoors. It doesn't feel cavernous though, but rather comfortable, with room between tables if you want privacy. The decorations lack cohesiveness, in my opinion, with old signs, restaurant flyers, sports memorabilia and more throughout the restaurant, giving the eyes no time to rest. There are also a few too many televisions, but I understand that a lot of people like to have them around. The outdoors area was not quite ready yet, but will be a fantastic place to sit when it is finished, with plenty of room and a view of the pond behind the restaurant.

Moretti's Ristorante and Pizzeria, Hoffman Estates

If you're eating at Moretti's, you should drink a Moretti, no? Some big name beers on the menu, along with some closer to home, and the wine list is adequate for a restaurant not focused on that. Coconut onion rings are an absolute must to start with (and they were good the next day reheated), especially if the bread that comes to the table is not fully cooked, like ours was. A minor issue. The Little Worker made his own pizza (a great kids/ menu item), while Laima and I enjoyed the rings and a salad. The pizza came back absolutely perfectly cooked and tasty to boot. My Jack Daniel's Burger (BBQ sauce, bacon, cheddar cheese and onion strings) was cooked just right, though the accompanying fries were not crisp enough for my taste. Laima ordered the Homemade Short Rib Ravioli, with a surprisingly good sauce (though too much of it) and a welcome contrast in the lemon arugula that they use as a topping. Everything tasted freshly made and done to order.

Moretti's Ristorante and Pizzeria, Hoffman Estates

If you have room for it, the desserts are beyond decadent - the three of us couldn't even finish one of the options (glad we didn't order more than one!).

This is a great new option for this area, as it really caters to a wide range of restaurant-goers, from casual family lunches to dedicated sports fans who want to watch the game. Moretti's has a kids' menu, a gluten-free section (including pizza), and plenty of options for the pickiest of eaters. Plenty of seating means you probably won't have to wait to be seated, while the carry-out option makes quick work of bringing this home.

Moretti's Ristorante on Urbanspoon

This meal was provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

WineStudio: Bodegas San Valero

Our second week of this month's WineStudio (theme: D.O.P. Cariñena), focused on two wines from Bodegas San Valero. Founded in 1944 by 60 winegrowers from Cariñena region, this coop now has more than 700 members. Besides investing in cutting edge manufacturing facilities, Bodegas San Valero has recently introduced selected grape harvesting, seeking even more the excellence in its wines by the selection of vineyards older than 30 years.

Tasting Notes:

WineStudio: Bodegas San Valero

Castillo Ducay Tinto Joven 2014: incredibly cool label with a cairn of rocks pictured; Garnacha, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grown at 2,100 feet from 15 to 20 year-old vines sourced from the Monte Ducay vineyard; nice garnet color with ruby edges; cherry, blackberry, and young fruit aromas and flavors in a simple, easy-to-drink wine; agglomerated cork; 13% ABV; SRP $9.
WineStudio: Bodegas San Valero

Particular Cariñena 2013: another great label, designed by a local artist; 100% Cariñena; dark fruit, spice, and herb aromas; forest, dark fruit, wood and spice flavors; luscious mouthful with well-integrated tannins; cork closure; SRP $15.
These wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

PROTOCOL #WineStudio presents an online twitter-based educational program where we engage our brains and palates! It’s part instruction and tasting, with discussions on producers, varieties, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food matching and what all this means to us as imbibers.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel
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