Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Leftovers and Wine

Last year, I wrote three posts about using leftover turkey to make recipes that would go well with wines. The posts were very popular, so I present the links again, for your continued enjoyment.

2012 Meiomi Pinot Noir

Follow the link to find the recipe for Sweet and Savory Holiday Pizza, along with suggested wine pairings. The potatoes and cranberries are unusual pizza toppings that add depth of flavor along with some interesting contrasts to wines you might pair.

Turkey Leftover Wine Pairings: Po' Boys and Conundrum Wines White

This recipe is for Holiday Turkey Po' Boys, paired with a variety of wines. The buns are somewhat key, but it's the slaw that makes these sandwiches - our family still makes the slaw as a side for many meals.

Turkey Leftover Wine Pairings: Turkey Panini with Conundrum Wines Red

This recipe for Holiday Turkey Panini, is a great update on you favorite grilled cheese. The celery adds a welcome crunch, while the bacon makes this much more savory than a typical cheese sandwich. Yum!

While these sandwiches make sense in the days following the holiday, we've made them at other times as well, 3 really great recipes that make most people very, very happy. These recipes were originally provided by the Wagner Family of Wine.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Non-Traditional Holiday Sparklers

It used to be automatic that for the holidays (and pretty much all celebrations), we all turned to the sparkling wines of Champagne. Then Cava came on the scene, California started making more (and stopped calling it "Champagne"), and Prosecco slaked the celebratory thirst of those with a more Italian bent. Pretty soon it wasn't that much about Champagne, and more about the bubbly. There are still those that say a true celebration involves Champagne, but I'm not one of them (though some vintage Champagnes have no comparison that I'm aware of, maybe some California sparklers I've not been privy to). If you are one of those who believe a celebration means Champagne, here are a few non-traditional sparklers to explore.

Non-Traditional Holiday Sparklers

Cava

Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad is a Spanish Cava made in the traditional méthode champenoise. The pewter-embellished bottle bears the crest of the Segura Viudas family, and houses the estate’s top cuvée. Yeasty, with a touch of honey and stone fruit.

The “Black Bottle Bubbly,” Cordon Negro Brut, is the classic Freixenet Cava, sure to please everyone's palate. For something a little different, mix their Sweet Cuvée (lower acidity) with orange juice for a mighty tasty Mimosa.

Prosecco

New Year's Resolutions? VOVETI Prosecco, whose name has origins in the Latin word “voveo” (to vow), is the perfect choice to toast to new resolutions, and the year to come. Honey and floral aromas lead into green apple, melon and stone fruit flavors, with small, long-lasting bubbles.

Astoria “Lounge”Prosecco – Prosecco D.O.C. Extra Dry: floral and orchard fruit aromas with more of the same flavors, with refreshing and never-ending bubbles to lift the palate.

La Gioiosa Prosecco DOC Treviso Spumante – Prosecco D.O.C.: made with 100% Glera grapes, this sparkler has pear, melon, and floral aromas and flavors. Serve as an aperitif and with light foods.

Much like Cava, Prosecco plays well with others - here are a few recipes for mixed Prosecco cocktails:
Aperol Spritz:
  • 3 oz. Prosecco DOC
  • 2 oz. Aperol
  • 1 splash of club soda
  • Orange slice, for garnish
Fill a large glass with ice. Fill the glass halfway with Prosecco. Then, add the two shots of Aperol. Top off with a splash of club soda and garnish with an orange slice.
Sgroppino:
  • 1/3 cup lemon sorbet
  • 3 oz. Prosecco DOC
  • 1 oz. vodka
Fill each glass with 3 oz. Prosecco and 1 oz. vodka. Scoop the lemon sorbet into the glass and serve immediately.
Sparkling Moscato

Mia Moscato is available in mini single-serve bottles and this slightly sweet wine is fun to drink on its own or pairs well with pretty much every food. Pack a six pack of these, along with a lunch, and enjoy an al fresco winter picnic.

There you have it, sparklers to meet every occasion and every palate - go out and explore!

(Wines provided for review purposes, all opinions are my own.)

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

WineStudio: Willamette Valley Chardonnays (Week III)

The Importance of Being a Willamette Valley Chardonnay
#WineStudio Tuesdays 6:00pm – 7:00pm PDT

When you think of the Willamette Valley (it's Willamette, dammit!), you probably think of world-class Pinot Noir, and you wouldn't be wrong. With 11,053 acres planted, fabulous Pinots come out every vintage, year after year. But the Valley has a lighter side as well, with over 3,400 acres of white grape varietals planted, 684 of which are Chardonnay. Yes, Chardonnay. The November WineStudio gets into the Chardonnay renaissance in Oregon, specifically the Willamette Valley, citing terroir, sustainability, biodynamics, philosophy, adventure and the future of Oregon Chardonnay.

Omero Cellars Chardonnay

The week's wines were from Omero Cellars. Established in 2009, a small family owned vineyard and winery, Omero Cellars' estate vineyard is comprised of 26 acres located in the heart of the Ribbon Ridge AVA - the smallest American Viticultural Area in Oregon at only 3.5 miles long and 1.75 miles wide.
"The goal with every vintage has been and will be to understand the textures, flavors, scents and behaviors of the fruit that we farm and through minimal intervention, allow the wines to express their sense of place while maintaining elegance and balance."
Tasting Notes:
2012 Willamette Valley - Aged 10 months in French oak; white flower, apricot, and spice aromas; flavor profile follows along with aromas with an added minerality; 13.1% ABV; cork closure; 275 cases produced; SRP $38.
2012 Extended Elevage - Aged 16 months; green apple, stone fruit, and cedar (?) aromas; apple, citrus, spice, and subtle yeast flavors; rich mouthfeel; 12.5% ABV; cork closure; 75 cases produced; SRP $58. Wineries suggested pairing is dark chocolate goat cheese truffles and rosemary sea salt.
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.

Wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

WineStudio: Willamette Valley Chardonnays (Week II)

The Importance of Being a Willamette Valley Chardonnay
#WineStudio Tuesdays 6:00pm – 7:00pm PDT

When you think of the Willamette Valley (it's Willamette, dammit!), you probably think of world-class Pinot Noir, and you wouldn't be wrong. With 11,053 acres planted, fabulous Pinots come out every vintage, year after year. But the Valley has a lighter side as well, with over 3,400 acres of white grape varietals planted, 684 of which are Chardonnay. Yes, Chardonnay. The November WineStudio gets into the Chardonnay renaissance in Oregon, specifically the Willamette Valley, citing terroir, sustainability, biodynamics, philosophy, adventure and the future of Oregon Chardonnay.

#WineStudio Oregon Chardonnays

Week 2 brought J.K. Carriere, as well as Matello Wines and Goodfellow Family Cellars, both helmed by proprietor and winemaker Marcus Goodfellow (clearly a man with a sense of humor: Matello (rhymes with cello) is an Italian word meaning "little fool").

Tasting Notes:
J.K. Carriere 2012 Lucidité Willamette Valley Chardonnay:  100% whole cluster pressed; barrel aged on its lees for 18 months in older French oak barrels; pale gold color; apple, citrus, and mineral aromas; green apple, pear, spice, citrus and stone flavors; 13.5% ABV; cork closure; 220 cases produced; SRP $32. I agree with Jim Prosser's quote on this wine: “A surfboard of ripe getting rolled by a wave of acid!”
Goodfellow Family 2012 Whistling Ridge Vineyards Chardonnay: Aged for 20 months in 100% French oak, 50% new; apple, pear, and spice aromas; apple, pear, stone fruit, citrus and spice flavors;    14.1% ABV; 80 cases produced; SRP $36.
Matello Wines 2012 Durant Vineyards Chardonnay: Sourced from non-irrigated vineyards; aged 15 months in French oak, 30% new; pale gold color; stone fruit, citrus, mineral, and sweet honey aromas; stone fruit, green apple, spice and stone flavors; 13.5% ABV; 150 cases produced; SRP $29.
Another week of highly tasty Chardonnays from Oregon. Pinot Noir, watch out.

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.

Wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What Do You Know About English Wine?

If you're like me, absolutely nothing. I think of England as cold, damp, and more fit for sheep than grapevines. With climate change, education, and improvements in winegrowing, however, things have changed in a big way. There are now over 400 vineyards in England and Wales covering some 3,500 acres and producing sparkling and still wines. The English Wine Producers website lists 21 white varietals and 7 reds, mostly hybrids, but also including the ubiquitous Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Beginners Guide to UK Wine

This infographic, created by Warner Leisure Hotels, contains a map of the UK’s most notable vineyards, as well as some fun and exciting facts about the English Wine Industry. It's a nice basic intro and should certainly whet every one's appetite to taste English wine.

Now I just need someone to send me some samples to taste... :)

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tempranillo Day with Lodi Wine

Tempranillo Day: A celebration of the Tempranillo grape
with all its regional synonyms. Open a bottle of Tempranillo, 
enjoy the fun, and share your experience online with the hashtags
#TempranilloDay or #Tempranillo.

Tempranillo Day with Lodi Wine

We got a headstart last week on today's Tempranillo Day by conducting a tasting of Tempranillo wines from Lodi. In 2013, there were 900 tons of Tempranillo harvested in Lodi. Lodi continues to amaze me with their never-ending supply of unique and fabulous wines - literally, is there a grape they can't vinify well? Another great virtual tasting sipping and chatting with other aficionados through the Charles Communications Brandlive channel and Twitter.

Tasting Notes:

2012 Riaza Wines Hunter's Oak Vineyard Tempranillo:
12 year old vines; aged 19 months in American and French oak; light ruby color; pomegranate, smoke, and spice aromas; boysenberry, raspberry, dried cherry and tobacco flavors; medium bodied; slight tannins; 14.6% ABV; cork closure; 97 cases produced; SRP $26.
2012 Bokisch Vineyards Tempranillo:
90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano grapes from 12 year old vines from 2 vineyards, Liberty Oaks and Las Cerezas, certified Green for Sustainable Winegrowing Practices; boysenberry, raspberry, cassis and floral aromas; plum, dark berry, earth/forest, baking spice, and pomegranate flavors, truly a savory wine; light bodied but luscious and balanced; 13.5% ABV; cork closure; 685 cases produced; SRP $23.
2010 Harney Lane Winery Tempranillo:
Hand picked; aged over 18 months in mixed origin oak barrels; nice ruby color; dried herb, earth, wood, and dark fruit aromas; plum, leather, tobacco, and mineral flavors, another very savory wine; 15% ABV; cork closure; 719 cases produced; SRP $25.
2012 McCay Cellars "Lot 13 Vineyard" Tempranillo:
Grapes from the 25 year old Kirschenman Vineyard; violet, tart cherry, nut, and spice aromas; native yeast fermentation; plum, strawberry, herb and spice flavors; 14.3% ABV; cork closure; 179 cases produced; SRP $28.
2012 m2 Wines Tormenta Tempranillo:
Grapes sourced from Kirschenman Vineyard; tank fermented; aged 14 months in 15% new french oak with medium toast; dark cherry, earth, spice and subtle floral aromas; dark plum, raspberry, and vanilla flavors into a cocoa finish; a savory and luscious wine that tastes more expensive than it is, great QPR; 15% ABV; cork closure; 295 cases produced; SRP $22.
While Tempranillo might be better known as a grape in other areas of the world, you cannot go wrong with any of these offerings from Lodi winemakers. Any of these would make you happy today or any other day you choose Tempranillo.

Charles Communications Associates is an independent creative marketing firm that employs traditional public relations and new media strategies to assist companies, organizations and non-profits in the creation, development and marketing of interesting and compelling brands. Recognized as one of the most effective PR firms in the wine industry, we have an exceptional track record of promoting products in the gourmet, natural and organic food and beverage categories, from wine and tea to top shelf spirits and luxury goods. We consider ourselves fortunate to work with clients who share our philosophy of social responsibility in work and everyday life.

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

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WineStudio: Willamette Valley Chardonnays (Week I)

The Importance of Being a Willamette Valley Chardonnay
#WineStudio Tuesdays 6:00pm – 7:00pm PDT

When you think of the Willamette Valley (it's Willamette, dammit!), you probably think of world-class Pinot Noir, and you wouldn't be wrong. With 11,053 acres planted, fabulous Pinots come out every vintage, year after year. But the Valley has a lighter side as well, with over 3,400 acres of white grape varietals planted, 684 of which are Chardonnay. Yes, Chardonnay. The November WineStudio gets into the Chardonnay renaissance in Oregon, specifically the Willamette Valley, citing terroir, sustainability, biodynamics, philosophy, adventure and the future of Oregon Chardonnay. Week 1 presented us with two very different wines, one from Eyrie Vineyards, the other from Cooper Mountain.

Eyrie Vineyards 2012 Reserve Chardonnay

Eyrie Vineyards 2012 Reserve Chardonnay Dundee Hills: founded by David and Diana Lett in 1966, now helmed by Jason Lett, located in the Red Hills of Dundee; grapes dry-farmed on their own roots (planted 1965) without the use of insecticides, herbicides or systemic fungicides; aged in OR oak; beautiful golden yellow color; aromas of white flowers and tangerine pith; tart guava, apple, pear, nutty notes into a bright citrus finish; slightly acidic, but balanced overall; opened up as it warmed up, smoothing out the mouthfeel; 12% ABV; cork closure; 400 cases produced; SRP $50.

Cooper Mountain Vineyards 2012 Old Vines Chardonnay

Cooper Mountain Vineyards 2012 Old Vines Chardonnay: proximate to the Columbia Gorge and the Chehalem Mountains, originally planted in 1978; committed to sustainability: organic and biodynamic farming and winemaking and dry farming; native yeasts, aged sur lie for 7 months in 38% new French oak; no fining; apple and spice aromas; green apple, spice, and vanilla flavors; 13% ABV; cork closure; 200 cases produced; SRP $30.

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.

Wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

VAwinechat: Colonial Virginia Wine Trail

Colonial Virginia Wine Trail

The Colonial Virginia Wine Trail features four of Virginia's best wineries (Williamsburg Winery, Saudé Creek Vineyards, New Kent Winery and James River Cellars) all within a one hour drive. Stretching from North to Southeast of Richmond, it appears that the wineries are easily accessed from the freeway, making this wine trail doable in a day, though you might stretch it out once you see some of the accommodations they offer. Since the wineries are in such close proximity to each other, I was interested to see the interaction between the players. My initial impression is that, while they all know what the others are doing and support each other, they are also marching to their own drummers, nothing lock-step here.

Wine Tasting Notes:

James River Cellars 2013 Gewürtztraminer:
Estate-grown grapes; golden honey color; honeysuckle, stone fruit, and subtle almond aromas; subtle honey and citrus, almond, and spice flavors; medium body, subtle sweetness (.5% RS) balanced by acidity; twist-off closure; 83 cases made; SRP $20. Nice on its own, great food wine.
Williamsburg Winery 2012 Trianon Cabernet Franc Reserve
75% Cabernet Franc, 13% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot grapes; 67% neutral oak, 33% new oak; bright red berries, cherries and some pepper aromas; cherry, pomegranate, and herb flavors; tart and slight peppery finish; 12% ABV; cork closure; 7500 bottles produced; SRP $32.
New Kent Winery 2012 Reserve Chardonnay
Grapes estate grown in New Kent County; barrel fermented and aged sur lies; apple, pear and subtle tropical fruit aromas; pear, vanilla, caramel, and a touch of baking spice flavors; creamy texture;  13%ABV; cork closure; SRP $25.
Saudé Creek Vineyards 2013 Reserve Traminette
Apple, apricot, pear, honey, and floral aromas; pear,   stone fruit flavors; dessert-wine-like bottle indicates sweetness by association, but wine is actually drier than expected, well-balanced with a light acidity on the finish; 12.5% ABV; cork closure.
Part of out discussion was about whether or not Virginia wines have improved, or whether they are just getting their due. Based on the few wines I tasted while living their six years ago and a few more over the years, I would say the quality has improved, dramatically. The truth is, whether it's an improvement in quality or just better press, Virginia wines are impressive -- you should feel comfortable searching Virginia wines out and buying them for your personal drinking or to share with guests.

These wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

LodiLive: Tempranillo

LodiLive: Tempranillo

To prepare for International Tempranillo Day on November 13th, we'll be tasting five unique Tempranillo wines from the Lodi Appellation: the 2012 Riaza Wines Hunter's Oak Vineyard, 2012 Bokisch Vineyards, 2010 Harney Lane Winery, 2012 McCay Cellars "Lot 13 Vineyard," and the 2012 m2 Wines Tormenta. The tasting will be hosted by Stuart Spencer (Program Manager at the Lodi Winegrape Commission, Owner and Winemaker of St.​ ​Amant Winery, and President of the Board of Directors for TAPAS (Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society)) with Rick Taylor (owner and Winemaker of Riaza Wines and Director on the Board of Directors for TAPAS).

This tasting will be tonight, Wednesday, ​November 5th, at 5pm PST (8 pm EST)! ​​Join in by pulling up the livestream a little before 5pm PST (http://cca.yourbrandlive.com/c/tempranilloday/) or following along on Twitter using the hash tag #LodiLive and Twitter handle @Lodi_Wine during the tasting.

See you tonight!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Chicago’s Top Restaurant Food Critics and Bloggers

Chicago's Favorite Food Critics and Bloggers

Chicago's Top Food Critics and Bloggers

It's nice to be recognized for what sometimes feels like writing for myself. While I'm definitely an amateur when it comes to writing about food, this is a group I'm proud to be part of - follow the link and find some good reading on this extensive list.

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