For Malbec Day: 7 Reasons Why I Love Malbec

Have you discovered Malbec yet?

Chances are you’ve had it in a Bordeaux blend, but you may not have had it by itself because Continue reading

#MulledWine: you know you want it

Back in the early 80s, when I was barely legal and going to Foothill community college, I worked at Ridge Winery in the tasting room up on Montebello Road.

For those of you who remember, you are probably laughing because there was no “tasting room” at Ridge –there was only a tasting table outside, a simple picnic table where we had five wines, usually four zins and a claret, lined up along with a basket of fresh bread (from “City of Paris” as I recall); you went inside the cellar where Kathy poured other offerings and helped you make your purchases.

We were having a Christmas party or some sort of potluck as I recall and it was quite cold. I was a newlywed with a Crockpot and as I was going to7chaisspices be at the tasting room all day, I suggested I make mulled wine. After all, there was always plenty of leftover wine lying around that I never got around to drinking during the week so why not pour all those together and mull them?

You can only imagine the look of horror at my suggestion–mull a Ridge wine? Continue reading

Discover Loire Valley’s Touraine Sauvignon Blancs 9/17/13

BUZVm8uCUAA0AzLSauvignon Blanc is one of my favorite wines–it’s flexible, affordable, and a great wine with some of my favorite foods like oysters, chevre goat cheese and french bread, ceasar salad, and pesto with pasta. It’s my go to wine, my always in the fridge or on the shelf wine.

When in doubt, I get the sauvignon blanc out!

After participating in a number of industry tastings, I’m a huge fan of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand-even the ones that feature a fair amount of gooseberry or cat pee.

Living in California, it’s easy to find locally grown Sauvignon Blanc; a favorite of mine is by Adam Tolmach for his winery, Ojai Vineyards. Continue reading

Sparkling Roses for Mother’s Day: Lucien Albrecht

MomDayLAlbrechtA toast to Mother’s! Cheers!

Pictured right to left, is my mom Suzanne Lawrence, my son, and my self from 2004. This was a publicity photo for a Living History Performance we did.

Pictured right to left, is my mom Suzanne Lawrence, my son, and my self from 2004. This was a publicity photo for a Living History Performance we did.

On Saturday, the last tuna boat of the year came in to the Ventura Harbor. We bought a whole tuna and celebrated Mother’s Day eve with fresh seared sesame oil ahi tuna on a bed of field greens with flower petals, blueberries, white Stilton with dried apricots, walnuts, plus a raw oyster! I love this meal with a silky Washington Merlot, but it also pairs well with a Pinot noir.

However since it was a festive occasion, we popped the cork on this beautiful Lucien Albrecht Cremant  D’Alsace Brut Rose, made from Pinot noir grapes.

Lucien Albrecht Cremant  D’Alsace Brut Rose is a perfect wine for Mother’s Day! Continue reading

Invite Paco & Lola to play on Albarino Day, Thurs. May 9, 2013

albarinoday2013

Like the minerality and acidity of Riesling, the body and white stone fruits of Viognier, and the floral notes of Pinot Gris?

Then you should check out Albarino–and there’s no better day than today, the Second Annual Albariño Day,  Thursday, May 9th, 2013!

The second annual Albarino Day caught me by surprise but fortunately, I have a few bottles of Albarino from Paco & Lola around. I saw it on sale and I went for it because  it is such a wonderful wine with lots of bright acidity with tangerine and lime and  that’s seafood friendly–especially with my beloved fresh raw oysters from Jolly Oyster at the Ventura State Beach!

Plus just a few days ago I picked up two bottles of Old Creek Ranch Winery’s Albarino de Moto (regularly $22) at my son’s school fundraising silent auction! (Old Creek Ranch Winery is a my local pick for Wine Tourism Day; read more about it here).

Unfamiliar with Albarino? Probably because most of this dark green, thick-skinned grape is grown in Spain, with very little of it found in the US. Albariño accounts for 90% of plantings in the Rías Baixas region of Spain. But as it grows in popularity, expect to find more of it here!

Want to join in celebrating Alabarino? Continue reading

Malbec Madness!

Malbec Madness!

Join the Celebration Weds April 17

In anticipation of Malbec Day Weds. April 17, Annie AnyDay, Ima Zinner, ChamPan, and I gathered on my sunny deck to taste four 2011 Malbecs: 2011 Trivento Reserve, 2011 Ruta 22, 2011 Conquista, all from Argentina, and from Chile, Concha y Toro’s 2011 Casillero del Diablo. (Reviews below).MalbecMadness

As Malbec and Malbec blends now account for almost half of the entire Argentinean wine category in the U.S., you’d think my first Malbec crush would be one from South America.

But the first Malbec that made a memorable impression and wowed my palate was actually a barrel sample from Basel Cellars that I tasted while on a visit there during the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla Washington.  

I remember clearly the lush blueberry that flooded my palate, and even now, I desire to repeat that experience. The following year when I re-visited Walla Walla, I found myself driving by the impressive gates of the even more impressive Basel Cellars estate, but unfortunately the tasting room was closed…and we were on our way to Oregon so I have yet to taste this Malbec in the bottle (and, btw,  Steven Tanzer awarded 89 Points to the 2008 Chelle Den Millie Malbec which retails for $32).

Malbec grapes on the vine in the Cafayate wine...

Malbec grapes on the vine in the Cafayate wine region of Argentina. This pic also demonstrates the trellising vine training used with drip irrigation system running along the bottom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the folks at Creative Palate, in the 1860s, Malbec was brought from France to the foothills of the Andes Mountains in Mendoza, Argentina where the constant sun and heat helps the grape to achieve optimal ripeness; Malbec thrives in the hot, dry weather and high elevations of Mendoza creating a typically ripe and lush wine with smooth tannins.

Malbec has also found suitable terroir on the other side of the Andes in the consistently hot and dry Rapel Valley of Chile.

Please join me in raising a collective glass to toast this newly “discovered,” newly beloved versatile and delightful varietal–regardless of where it comes from North or South America! Follow along with the fun on twitter by searching and tweeting using #MalbecMadness! Continue reading

WordFest Writing Workshop: Haiku & Sushi with a Ojai Vineyards Chaser!

Bowl of Sushi (Painting by Hiroshige)

Bowl of Sushi (Painting by Hiroshige) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s National Poetry Month! Celebrate with me this Friday, April 12, 2013, when I will be leading a haiku writing workshop at a sushi bar in Ojai–which means I’ll be stopping by Ojai Vineyards while I’m in town!

That’s right, you can get your haiku and eat it too!

Well, maybe not, but that sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Either way, it will be a fun time for 12 on 4/12 at 12 when we gather in Ojai during WordFest’s “Foodie Friday” for a sushi lunch with a side of haiku. Or maybe that’s haiku with a side of sushi?

So if you don’t mind the soy sauce on your writing notebook, Continue reading

Celebrate NZ Harvest & CA spring! Villa Maria Thirsty Girl Tasting Weds!

It’s Harvest Time in New Zealand and Spring Time in California! Celebrate both with the first Thirsty Girl #TGTaste Twitter Tasting of 2013 set for Wednesday March 27 at 5 pm PST  (8 pm EST). You’re invited! Continue reading

Happy Lunar New Year! Wines to Celebrate & Pair with Asian Cuisine

chinese new year prayerMay you be happy.

May all your thoughts be positive
and your experiences be good.

May you be free of problems, sickness, and sadness.

May your life be long and peaceful
and may you quickly reach enlightenment.

–Metta prayer

The year of the Black Snake begins on Sunday February 10, 2013  with the new moon rising in Aquarius–and I’m celebrating with an Italian wine!

BuddhaTet2013smAccording to Geomancer and Philosopher Paul Ng, the year 2013 is “Mountain-Thunder Rhythm”– a year of conservation, a year of rebuilding, and a year of changes.

Han-Ban.com says that “the year of Snake is meant for steady progress and attention to detail. Focus and discipline will be necessary for you to achieve what you set out to create.”

The Snake is “enigmatic, intuitive, introspective, refined.” Hmmn, I wonder which wines are SNAKE wines??

If you will be celebrating with Chinese or another Asian cuisine, you might be wondering what wine to pair with the complex, often spicy dishes. Continue reading

Don & Sons Uses TastingRoom.Com’s Cute Tiny Bottles for Twitter Tasting

This afternoon, Friday November 30, 2012 from 4:00 - 5:30 (Pacific Standard Time or from 7:00 – 8:30 Eastern Standard Time), you’re invited to join me and 20 other wine bloggers for a Don Sebastiani & Sons Appellation Brands Virtual (Twitter) Tasting hosted by winemaker Greg Kitchens and Donny Sebastiani. Continue reading

What wine pairs with Thanksgiving?

This is the time of year where everyone wants to know which wine they should have with Thanksgiving dinner. Since most people don’t want to break the bank, what follows are a numbe rof recommendations that land squarely on the less expensive side of a $20 bill.

Personally, my go to wine for turkey OR ham is zinfandel. There is alchemical magic in that combination!

How do I know? Many years ago, I worked the tasting room at Ridge and so of course I brought a bottle of zin to that Thanksgiving table.

Last year, during the weekend before Thanksgiving, I convinced my husband to make a turkey AND then a ham so I could try a bunch of wines with these classic holiday meals.  I came up with these three blog posts:

white and rose wines with Turkey

red wines with Turkey

wines for Ham

Since holiday meals usually gather many people, it’s a great excuse to splurge and have different wines to enjoy with each course. In general, I would recommend Continue reading