All posts tagged: Wine

Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay 2017

Growing up, I would hear stories from my parents about when they were dating. They reminisced about glorious sun-filled days drinking wine at the Robert Mondavi Winery while eating a picnic of crusty bread, fresh cracked crab, and crumbly aged cheese. It always sounded so romantic, so idyllic, so mouthwatering! When I was finally of age, I convinced my boyfriend at the time that we needed to go to Napa. It was as wonderful as it sounded, and the Robert Mondavi Winery stood as a glorious backdrop to this region with its California Mission style architecture, complete with bell tower. I think of Robert Mondavi Chardonnay as the classic California Chard. With a blend of 80% of the juice aged and fermented in New French Oak for 11 months, while 20% of it was in stainless steel. This is definitely an “oaky Chardonnay,” but it is also refined. Golden in tone, it had aromas of ripe pears and juicy pineapple. It tasted of lemon zest, with clean tropical fruit flavors, and a creamy texture. Paired …

Alto Vineyards Vidal Blanc

In what seems like a lifetime ago, I lived briefly in Central Illinois. Having come from Los Angeles, CA, I was a a bit out of my comfort zone. Then I found out there was a tasting room for Alto Vineyards, an Illinois winery, two miles from my home. Of course, I went as soon as I could.⁣⁣It may have only been two miles, but it seemed worlds away from the town I lived in (video below). When I arrived, there was one other customer, who didn’t stay long. ⁣⁣Left alone with the tasting room manager, she and I spent the better part of two hours chatting about wine and tasting! I was impressed…well, mostly. I’ll admit, the Concord Grape wine (that I refer to as alcoholic grape juice) was not for me, but the other white wines were delicious! Refreshing and beautifully voluptuous, they easily went down with or without food. ⁣⁣Last night I opened the Vidal Blanc and devoured it with a lemon spatchcock chicken. It was perfect with round, tropical fruit notes …

Aja Vineyards Malibu Coast Syrah

Malibu is the epitome of California living. It’s known for gorgeous beaches and coastline stretching as far as the eye can see. It is synonymous with wealth and celebrity-lifestyles. However, only a couple of miles away from the coast, there is a completely different environment. The surf gives way to jagged cut canyons, filled with native flora and fauna. The curvy roads lumber past hiking trails and rustic mom and pop establishments. There are breathtaking views and a beautiful silence. This part of Malibu seems worlds away from the clogged freeways of Los Angeles in spite of its proximity. This part of Malibu is something special. This is where the Malibu AVA (American Viticulture Area) is located with 38 wineries registered under it. This area has hot days and cold nights, usually cooled off by the coastal fog – the perfect recipe for growing grapes. Aja Vineyards is among these wineries. First planted in 2007 with Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, the vineyard has grown to include Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and most recently, …

Featured Wine of the Week – Mumm Rosé Brut

Mumm Rosé Brut – what a delightful way to celebrate! ⁣⁣It has cheerful golden pink bubbles with rich, creamy red berry flavors created in the Méthode Traditionnelle process. I drank this over the weekend to celebrate my anniversary, but there were other reasons to celebrate: a socially distant visit from dear friends and the beginning of life slowly returning to normal as stores and restaurants open once again. ⁣⁣Mumm has been a long-time favorite of mine since visiting their stunning winery in Napa years ago. While their sparkling wines are the main attraction, the fine art gallery at the estate with historical photos of old Hollywood stole my heart. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

Ice Wine

Let’s talk ice wine. Ice wine is a style of dessert wine where the grapes are harvested when they become frozen on the vine. Since only the water in the grape freezes, the sugars and other components of the fruit become concentrated. This produces a wine with exceptional sweetness and flavor. I’ve heard that winemakers are one part artist, one part mad scientist, and one part gambler. I think this could be even more true for the producers of ice wine. They allow the grapes to hang on the vine longer than typical, usually well after other grapes have been picked. Then, when the grapes freeze, they need to be harvested within a few hours. It’s an extremely risky operation, and whole crops can be lost. That said, the result is lovely when all goes well. The wine is high in acidity and has bright, complex flavors. It’s the perfect digestive and pairs well with an assortment of desserts from cheese to ice cream. This week, I did a side by side tasting of two …

Cline Cellars – 2011 Live Oak Zinfandel

I’m finding this time in quarantine to be a wonderful time to drink those wines I’ve been holding on to. This week I finally opened up a 2011 Cline Cellars Live Oak Zinfandel from Contra Costa County. I love Cline wines and I love what they do. They practice their own sustainable farming they have named “The Green String Method.” With minimal human intervention, they use sheep and goats to clear the weeds from the vineyard and cover crops to feed the soil. They reuse all organic waste and compost it, then introduce it into the vineyard through the drip irrigation system. Volcanic rock is crushed to add minerals to the earth and owls are used for pest control. Furthermore, 100% of the energy used on the farm is solar. These sustainable practices are not only good for the environment, but the wines are also absolutely fantastic! I used to belong to the wine club because I love every one of their wines and their winemaking style. Big, bold, delicious! The 2011 Live Oak Zinfandel …

Featured Wine – 2018 Ampelos Viognier “Phi”

Yesterday was such a bummer. I moved my wine collection and found a couple of mystery bottles that I thought would be fun to blind taste.  However, I quickly found out they had gone bad. So, I decided I needed to open up a bottle of wine I’ve been saving: Ampelos 2018 Viognier “Phi”. First, let me start by saying, I have a very high affection for Ampelos. They really take the environment seriously and have certifications in organic, biodynamic, and sustainable farming. Their website states, “In growing grapes, we believe in taking care of and respecting the environment and that our vineyard needs to be in balance with nature…” From that, they have produced some extraordinary wines, and this Viognier is no exception. Fresh and aromatic, the 2018 Ampelos Viognier has intoxicating aromas of honeysuckle and jasmine with orange marmalade, melon, and papaya. The first sip is greeted with bright acidity and notes of stone fruit and white flowers. It’s a luscious wine that immediately makes me feel like I’m running through a field …

Featured Wine of the Week – Solminer 2018 “Rubellite”

Happy New Year and welcome to our first Featured Wine of the Week for 2020! Today we’re drinking a wine from Sominer called “Rubellite.” This wine is 72% Syrah, 27% Grenache, and 1% Riesling. It’s from Santa Ynez Valley in California. If you’ve been following me, you know this is my type of wine. I love wines from this region, and especially Syrahs. So, let’s dive in! Solminer is a labor of love between a husband and wife team. They were Certified Organic in 2014 and Demeter Certified Biodynamic in 2018. Their focus is on natural wines. They use chickens, donkeys, sheep, bees, fruit trees, native plants, compost, and herb teas(!) to encourage the health of the vineyard. The most notable varietals they planted were the Austrian Grüner Veltliner and Blaufränkisch, which have flourished. Solminer even makes a skin contact “orange” Grüner! The Rubellite Syrah/Grenache blend we’re drinking today is described as “an experiment gone incredibly well.” It was fermented with natural yeast and spent seven months in neutral French oak. It is unfined and …

Elegance in a Glass – Left Coast Estate 2016 Latitude 45 Estate Pinot Noir

By now it’s no secret how much I love Left Coast Estate. Family owned and operated, the wines are lovely.  They are well crafted, delicious, and often surprising!  Left Coast Estate is certified sustainable through LIVE, and has even partnered with the US Department of Fish & Wildlife to restore the oak forests in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  A majority of the Estate is solar powered. They walk the walk. A few weeks ago, they sent me a bottle of 2016 Latitude 45 Estate Pinot Noir – just in time for the holidays! Sure enough, this is the perfect wine to sip during this season. The deeply hued garnet color of this wine is unexpected since Pinot Noir is usually a lighter color. The nose is intoxicating, with a bright, aromatic bouquet of flowers: roses, candied violets, and lilacs. Luscious, earthy flavors tickle the tongue: mushrooms, freshly plucked thyme, red bursting berries, and forest floor. The mouthfeel is finessed with a silky/satiny beginning and a velvety finish.  It is elegance in a glass. This …

Thanksgiving Wines

It’s that time of year again – the holidays! It’s time to make merry, to celebrate, to wine and dine! Having trouble selecting a wine for the Thanksgiving table? Here’s a quick guide: Sparkling Wine: Sparkling wine is always a good choice for the holidays. The wine itself is celebratory from the pop of the cork to the cheerful string of persistent bubbles. It can be used to greet guests, as an aperitive with cheese, as a delightful pairing for all Thanksgiving and holiday foods, and even as a beautiful way to end the meal. I sampled a 2013 Left Coast Cellars Blanc de Noir. It was light and refreshing with notes of stonefruit, brioche, lemon zest, and some lovely minerality. It would pair nicely with anything, but specifically, cheese, turkey, mashed potatoes, and chocolate. White Wine: White wine always goes well with turkey, and Chardonnay is a classic. A nice, lightly oaked Chardonnay with subtle notes of fruit can elevate the turkey and complement buttery side dishes. I picked up a 2017 Coastal Estates …