Mr Versatile: Ojai Vineyards 2007 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir

The right Pinot Noir can indeed pair with dishes as diverse as pork, fish, and fowl. Continue reading

Part 2: Rafters, Mammoth CA & 2 LaRochelle Pinot Noirs

LaRochelleKissIn part one in this series of posts, I review two white wines from Steven Kent Wines, the luscious LaRochelle Chardonnay (pictured) and the lively Lola, a Bordeaux blend, and I wax enthusiastic about Rafters Restaurant, which is one of three restaurants and four bars at the Sierra Nevada Resort in Mammoth Lakes CA.

We were up in Mammoth for a holiday weekend ski trip where I also had a twitter tasting with Steven Kent Wines and Jim Demetriades, owner of Rafters hosted me! And what a gracious host! I was able to use a beautiful side room for the tasting, sommelier Chip Irmish set me up with the correct glasses I’d need as well as a dump bucket, and an ice bucket. Staff brought water, and either Chef Kerry Mechler or various staff brought out the six dishes that chef had chosen to pair with the six wines.

Here in Part 2, I’ll move from the whites on to the Pinot Noirs, one from Carneros and one from Santa Lucia Highlands, near Monterey. (Want to read about the Lola and the Dutton Chard?)

Continue reading

Rafters, Mammoth CA: Steven Kent Tasting–Lola & Dutton Chardonnay

Last month, after a bluebird afternoon on the slopes at Mammoth Mountain, I participated in a fantastic Twitter Wine tasting featuring Steven Kent Wines hosted by The Rafters Restaurant at the Sierra Nevada Resort 202 Old Mammoth Road, Mammoth Lakes, CA. Established in 1967; Rafters was recently reborn as a world class restaurant with a 7000 bottle wine list!

Sommelier Chip Irmish had glasses ready and the wines chilled perfectly for me when I dashed back after a few quick turns on the slopes. 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

Foods From Chile Goodie Bag + Wines to taste too!

chilegoodiesWhile I am not packing my bags and brushing up my Spanish for my trip to Chile (at least not this time!), I was excited to open my box of goodies from the Foods from Chile folks.

Enclosed, packed in a Foods From Chile muslin bag, I found these products made from Chilean foods: a bottle of 100% pure blueberry juice, a jar of onion jam in merlot wine, a bottle of extra virgin olive oil, and a can of mussels in oil.

That same day I also received three bottles of Malbec for Malbec Madness April 17–two from Argentina, and this 2011 Casillero del Diablo from Concha y Toro in Chile!

In addition, I’m looking forward to tasting two more wines from Chile that are on their way: new releases from  Viña Ventisquero, a leading producer of estate and single vineyard wines–Queulat Sauvignon Blanc and Queulat Pinot Noir.

Queulat Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Varietal:                 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Appellation:          Leyda Valley

SRP:                        $17.99

Queulat Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010

Varietal:                 100% Pinot Noir

Appellation:          Casablanca Valley

SRP:                        $17.99

And I still have a bottle of Lapostolle Cabernet that I bought last month to use to make the video I submitted as a finalist in the Foods from Chile contest…

So if you, like me, can’t go to Chile, we can at least enjoy Foods (and wines!) from Chile like these!

Wine Predator to Do Steven Kent Tasting at The Rafters, Mammoth!

Not your average pony: 6 Don & Sons Appellation Driven Wines

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BEFORE

Yesterday, 20 other wine bloggers and I cracked open six tiny bottles of Don Sebastiani & Sons Appellation Brands wines during a Virtual (Twitter) Tasting hosted by winemaker Greg Kitchens and Donny Sebastiani on a live video and audio stream from Sonoma, California.

I know Appellation isn’t a type of HORSE or pony, not even a Shetland Pony like these cute little 50ml bottles Don and Sons sent us.

Appellation is the terroir–where the grapes were grown. In this case, for this tasting, we traveled all over California: from Sonoma to Napa to Paso to Clarksburg.

So we could really get a sense of the various appellations, Don and Sons sent 20 of us bloggers a collection six 50ml bottles from TastingRoom.Com instead of only 3 or 4 full-sized ones. 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

#PinotSmackdown: How To Taste Pinot Noir according to Robin Pfeiffer

What follows last week’s #CabernetDay? #PinotSmackdown Thursday Sept. 6, 2012! According to organizer Ed Thralls,

#PinotSmackdown is an all-day global celebration of the world’s most expressive wine grape combined with a knock-down, drag-out cage fight between YOUR FAVORITE Pinot-producing regions! All you need to participate is wine and Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagr.am or your favorite social channel.  Just be sure to use the #PinotSmackdown hashtag!Who makes the best Pinot you’ve ever tasted?  To vote via your tweets, posts, pins, or instagr.am snapshots simply add another 2-character hashtag after #PinotSmackdown and we’ll count the votes so that region gets bragging rights for the year! Voting region hashtags:

  • #OR – Oregon
  • #CA – California
  • #WA – Washington
  • #NY – New York
  • #46 – U.S. The “Other 46″
  • #FR – France
  • #IT – Italy
  • #DE – Germany (Deutschland)
  • #EU – Europe, beyond France, Germany, Italy
  • #CN – Canada
  • #NZ – New Zealand
  • #CH – Chile
  • #AR – Argentina
  • #AU – Australia
  • #SA – South Africa
  • #WD – World, as in none previously listed

For example, if you are drinking a Pinot from a region in California, simply tag the end of your tweets/posts with:      #PinotSmackdown #CA

FOR MORE DETAILS CLICK HERE

This year for the Pinot Noir Smackdown, I’m betting many post-WBC bloggers are rooting for and writing about Oregon Pinot Noir aka #PinotSmackdown #OR. I know that the most memorable pinot noirs for me right now are from my trip last August.

Like many of the 450 attendees to the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, I joined a pre-excursion trip which included a late afternoon drive to the massive and beautiful King Estates for a scrumptious dinner (deserving of its own blog post) followed by an early morning jaunt from our hotel in Eugene to the Pfeiffer Winery in the southern Willamette Valley and in the northwestern part of Lane County.

It took us about 30 minutes to drive the scenic country roads, passing by alpaca farms, hay farms, forest and finally grape vines to arrive at Pfeiffer where we were greeted by Robin and Danuta Pfeiffer, an enthusiastic, energetic, boisterous and attractive couple.

At one time, Danuta was the co-host of the 700 Club. When Pat Robertson ran for President, she started over and came to Oregon to write a book and be on Air America.  Eighteen years ago, she placed an ad describing herself– and looking for a man who could spell. Robin responded with an invitation to go sailing.

On that first date, Robin Pfieffer brought an unlabeled red wine saying, “It’s a little something we make–pinot noir.”

“What’s so hot about pinot noir?” Danuta asked. Continue reading

Holiday Wine Challenge Part 3: Ham & Zin!

I realize now that fixing a two traditional holiday Thanksgiving or Christmas meals –first a ham dinner then a turkey dinner– and tasting a bunch of wines with the food really was quite a challenge. If I was a stay at home wine blogger (and not teaching 75% time, working on a PhD, and being a mom!), I am sure I could have accomplished it before Thanksgiving! As it is, I made due with a steady stream of tweets and facebook posts to share what I was tasting and learning. And I know thanks to search engines, people will be finding these posts for years to come!

So wthis zin is great with ham or turkey for holiday meals like Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easterhat did I learn about ham and wine?

The big surprise was how well the ham dinner went with the 2007 Sonoma County St Francis Old Vines Zinfandel (under $20). I knew I would like this wine with turkey but on a whim I decided to open it. As I tasted through the line-up, I didn’t expect much of the zin. However, the chemical reaction between the ham and the zin was wonderfully tasty!

So much so that if I was to recommend one wine to bring, especially f you didn’t know what was going to be served, I’d go with a zinfandel because it works with ham, turkey, appetizers including blue cheese and crackers, as well as red meats like prime rib.

Zinfandel is a wonderful food wine and accessible to many people even if they are not regular wine drinkers. Read my discussion of the St Francis Zin with turkey here.

My second favorite for the ham from this line-up is the 2010 M. Chapoutier Bellaruche Cotes-du-Rhone. Personally, I really enjoy dry roses with ham (here’s a discussion of a dry rose from Bordeaux with ham).  There is something about the combo of the spice and sweetness and salitiness that makes this work so well. I also tried this the next morning with ham and eggs and a cranberry pecan scone and I would definitely recommend this wine for brunch or one of those breakfast for dinner kind of nights.

I also tried the 2010 Oak Mountain Winery Muscat from Temecula Valley CA $18 (winery price) because I had an open bottle. I liked this well enough with the ham. Here’s more about it in my post about the International Food Bloggers Conference dinner which is where I got it. I should have included a Riesling or Gewürztraminer in the tasting as these are typically great wines with ham. But there was already a lot of wine open!

The other two wines I tried were also good wines but not that exciting with ham:

2009 Louis Jadot  Beaujolais-Villages considered one of the best wines under $25!

While this wine wasn’t my favorite with the ham, it’s a great choice for appetizers. I love it with pate, cheese and crackers.

2009 Craggy Ridge Pinot Noir ($35-45) As I wrote when I reviewed it with turkey, this is a lovely, delightful complex pinot noir, full of earth and moss and violets and chocolate and tarragon, truly a wonderful Pinot Noir from New Zealand, lush, sensual. I wouldn’t bring this wine to a big holiday meal with tons of people– save it for when you can focus on it and savor it! I bet it would be better with a pork loin or chop than with salty ham.

What wine do you like to drink with ham?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

Pretty in Pink–Salmon & Pinot Noir: Father’s Day for Our Super Heroes

Since the Alaskan Copper River Salmon we found for Father’s Day was out of our budget at $33 pound, we made do with some fresh King salmon, simply prepared and lightly grilled with lemon, olive oil, pepper, and kosher salt.

And it was lovely, served with asparagus and basmati rice, for my husband, son and 90 year old father-in-law. The wine I chose was a 2006 Michel-Schlumberger pinot noir “Le Fou” and for dessert, I made a fresh strawberry and blueberry gallette with vanilla quark and vanilla ice cream which we enjoyed with a Penfold’s port. Yummy!

A little more about the wine: at the end of the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference, I went with a group to Michel-Schlumberger for a vineyard walk and wine tasting.  M-S is located in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma, a region most famous for its zinfandels, but M-S specializes in Bordeaux blends as well as a rhone blend and a small amount of pinot noir–a grape that very few people grow in Dry Creek, hence the name of the wine “Le Fou” or “The Fool.” Very generously, M-S gave us a 50% discount on any wine we chose to purchase that day. I invested in a case, most of which is gone, save a bottle or two of The Fool –since I bought 6 that day! (I think it retails around $30 so we got it for $15).

“Le Fou” grows on a steep slope in the most western portion of Dry Creek Valley,  on an eastern facing slope, a spot where the coastal fog creeps in and cools the vines making it possible to grow this “prickly” grape. The alcohol levels are still a bit high for a pinot (14.6% it says on the bottle) but the wine is nicely balanced–it doesn’t come across as too hot.

Be sure to serve this red wine (like all reds)  at cellar temp, not room temp. (That means in the low 60s not the 80s!)

What I like most is how complex it is: this pinot noir is not one of those simple one note strawberry pinots; it has a lot of bramble berries–raspberry, certainly, and blackberry, even a hit of blueberry (ok, not a bramble but a bush…) and some solid fresh cherry. There’s a bit of earth but it’s not very “truffley” –it’s actually more minerally.  The finish is long and rich.  It has nice body but it’s still a pinot, not a pinot passing as a full bodied wine.

What I also like about the Michel-Schlumberger is the care they take of the land: they have sheep, a pond, nesting birds, a “kitchen” garden, bees, and more. While they are not certified anything, they are sustainable by practice and by heart. I am looking forward to visiting the vineyard again this July with my 7 year old son!

I last tasted the 2006 M-S pinot noir in December during the pinot noir tweet up. I brought a bottle to a fundrasier for WEV (Women’s Economic Ventures), a holiday fair where I helped pour wine. This wine was clearly a favorite and I actually had to set the bottle aside to make sure I got some! I also brought this wine to a tasting at Burning Man; there were some amazing wines there and this one held its own. People were pleasantly surprised to discover it was a pinot noir from Dry Creek!

Not surprisingly, the color isn’t as pretty as it was years ago–it’s going a bit coral around the edges–but it is still pretty in pink.

Read on for our 2009 Father’s Day salmon dinner and wine!

Pretty in Pink Father's Day Celebration for Our Super Hero In the Pink Drink for Pre-Dad’s Day Celebration: Here’s MY SuperHero, sneaking in a nap between chapters of Melvin Beederman, Super Hero, one of their favorite chapter books to read and reread. And reread again. We couldn’t recommend Melvin more. The Dad comes highly recommended too. For the Big Monkey, aka Dad to the Small Boy, catching some extra shut-eye is a favorite weekend pastime. So is putting some sockeye salmon on the grill! Thank goodne … Read More

via Wine Predator

Pretty in Pink Father’s Day Celebration for Our Super Hero

In the Pink Drink for Pre-Dad’s Day Celebration

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Here’s MY SuperHero, sneaking in a nap between chapters of Melvin Beederman, Super Hero, one of their favorite chapter books to read and reread. And reread again. We couldn’t recommend Melvin more. The Dad comes highly recommended too.

For the Big Monkey, aka Dad to the Small Boy, catching some extra shut-eye is a favorite weekend pastime.

So is putting some sockeye salmon on the grill! dadsday09PINKsmThank goodness for us! That’s another reason why he’s my Superhero–the man knows how to grill and grill it good!

Saturday night we went pink: pink salmon, pink sparking Codiniu pinot noir cava, pink beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts on greens from our garden, even a pink lobster! Plus some homemade basil-arugala pesto for some colorful contrast. The dry, pink sparkler made for a beautiful table as well as a festive occasion; bonus was it went well with the meal. What a treat! Yummy!

Now you can see why we’re celebrating Father’s Day all weekend! Happy Father’s Day to all the dads! Today and every day! Cheers!