November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Wines: St. Supery Barrel Fermented Chardonnay

In reading back through prior "Thanksgiving Wines" posts, I noticed that I've moderatley favored red wines. And to be honest, its likely because I'm more of a red wine drinker as the weather shifts from warm to cool. Afterall, nothing compliments the Fall and Winter months quite like a fuller bodied wine with hints of spice. But that doesn't mean we can't discover white wines with the same attributes. In fact, there are many white wines out their with the same complexity, that are comparably approachable. So, let's pay some omage to our dear white wines this Turkey Day, too!

Nothing brings in Autumn quite like St. Supery's Barrel Fermented Chardonnay. Normally I'm not a Chardonnay drinker, I'll admit, but having the opportunity to visit St. Supery back in September, I exposed my pallette to varietals I might not otherwise purchase on my own and was surprisingly pleased with the outcome, particularly on this Chardonnay.

Sustainably farmed (we love anything that helps the enviornment!), this wine bodes aromas of toast and cantaloupe on the nose, with flavors that are reminiscent of baked apple pie (a Turkey Day must), ripe pears and some hints of Earth. It offers a light texture that is balanced with spice. It's like Autumn in a glass! Oh, if you don't like oak hints, they also have Oak-Free Chardonnay!

Cost: $30/bottle
Where to Buy:

November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Wines: 2006 Auroch Toro

Thanksgiving is to turkey as _____ is to Spain. The answer? Tempranillo! Ok, so its probably not the most logical anaology but it works for me! And though you may have never heard of the Tempranillo grape, there is no better time to try it than at Thanksgiving when you're likely expanding your palette anyhow. It may surprise you!

Tempranillo is a black grape variety grown in the Rioja region of Spain, which often yields fuller body wines. This varietal tend to be ruby in color and exude berry, plum, vanilla, and sometimes even tobacco flavors.

The Toro is a great budget-friendly wine to add to your dinner, or even pick up and take to the host of your Thanksgiving Day party. Made from young grapes, the Toro is an up-and-coming regional wine which combines a variety of flavors – from herbs and spices to cherry, vanilla and tobacco. It’s juicy, yet very soft on the palette.

Cost: $14/bottle
Where To Buy:

November 23, 2009

Thankgiving Wines: Sebastiani Russian River Pinot Noir

It was surely a pristine Autumn weekend, and with the slight chill in the air my thoughts immediatley drifted to Thanksgiving. Afterall, no holiday pays tribute to wine and food quite like Turkey Day, and over the weekend I had the opportunity to spend some additional time with family and friends to help weigh out the next selection for our Thanksgiving Wines round-up.

After hosting a progressive tasting, which included a Pinot Grigio, a red blend, Pinot Noir and a Cabernet (items to be reviewed and named later) the unanimous vote went with the Sebastiani Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.

This Pinot is beautifully crimson and structured offering hints of both cinnamon and spice atop boasting Marachino cherry and red plum aromas which jump out of the glass. The texture is silky and elegant with dark berry flavors and soft tannins.

I can't say there was any real surprise from my end. I personally gravitate toward Pinot since its a fantastic partner with pretty much anything, and even delectable flying solo. Its a natural tie-in with both turkey and all its accompaniments so it was only appropriate I share this find with each of you.

Cost: $28/bottle
Where to Buy:

November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Wines: Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Brut Cava

Sparkling wine is becoming an increasingly popular pairing partner because it brings elegance to the table and versatility to most meals. Why not unravel some bubbles on Thanksgiving Day. Try Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Brut Cava and you'll be sure to impress on the palette and on the table.

Its thick hand blown Absinthe-green glass alone is enough to catch the eye, but the bottle is also emblazoned with a solid pewter crest with an inscription of grapes. The blend of native grapes inside (including Macabeo, Parellada and Zarello) offer a mellow, yet satisfying experience with great fruit intensity and a perfumed bouquet. The taste and appearance alone will leave all your guests thinking you spent more than you actually did!
Cost: $22/bottle
Where To Buy:

November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving Wines: 2009 Beaujolais Nouveau

The tasting of each year's Beaujolais Nouveau is a Thanksgiving tradition to be had by all. Beaujolais, a region of Burgundy, France where nearly 3,600 growers produce the ever-loved varietal, is released the third Thursday of every November just one week before we carve our turkeys.

Made of 100% Gamay grapes, which have thinner skins than others grapes causing lower tannin levels, Beaujolais Nouveau by law must be hand-grown on individual free-standing vines. It is young, vivacious and ultimately fruit-forward. Its versatility complements many dishes and can a great accompaniment to your holiday entertaining. And rumor has it, this year's vintage is going to be better than those of the past 50 years.

Try George Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau ($9.99) and serve cool!

November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving Wines: 2008 Tormaresca Neprica

So we've already got some great tips from our friend Eryn at The Traveling Vineyard, now there is no better time to start planning our dinner menu and selecting great wines to complement the feast.
Over the course of the next few days, we're going to help you with some of the must-haves for the season. Get ready to pair up with turkey, potatoes, stuffing and amenities that Fall holiday dining has to offer with reds, whites, rose, maybe even some bubbly!

To kick it off, we're heading to the "Boot of Italy," Puglia, where we've snagged a delicious red blend known as NePricCa by Tormaresca. Named for the three grapes that its composed of, 40% Negroamaro, 30% Primitivo and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, this well-structure and pleasingly soft wine is full of flavored layers. It has an intense ruby red color with a touch of dark vItaliciolet on the edges. On the nose you'll smell dark fruits which transcend onto the palette with additional accents of chocolate and licorice. This wine is incredibly food-friendly and can easily be paired with grilled veggies or meaty fishes.

Cost: $12/bottle
Where To Buy:

November 17, 2009

The ABC's of Thanksgiving Wines

With just 9 days to go, it's officially time to talk turkey! Afterall, Thanksgiving is the #1 wine-drinking day in the United States, so we need to show some appreciation for our fellow pilgrims and Indians by raising a glass (or a bottle) and giving thanks.

But, in true WinoBee fashion, we need not make our Turkey Day selections complex. In fact, when it comes to Fall holiday dining, its really as easy as ABC, according to Independent Wine Consultant, Eryn Cadoff with The Traveling Vineyard.

We had some time to chat with Eryn about all things Thanksgiving and here are some fun, friendly tips to keep in mind as you carve your turkey next week:

A = Alsace. The white wines of Alsace are fantastic choices for the flavors of Thanksgiving. Look for Alsatian Riesling, Pinot Blanc, and Cremant d'Alsace for bubbly!

"Even though we're talking about an American holiday here, savvy wine drinkers around the world know the secret the French know - the best white wine bargains in the world are the white wines of Alsace," commented Cadoff. "In fact, 2/3 of the white wine consumed in France comes from Alsace."

Check out some fantastic selections The Traveling Vineyard has to offer:

B = Beaujolais. This French wine region is technically a part of Burgundy, but has a character all its own. Beaujolais wines are made from 100% Gamay grapes - a fun, fresh, fruity red that is wonderful with any Thanksgiving meal, and fruit-forward enough even for white wine drinkers.

C = California. Its an American holiday, so how could we leave out American wine?! Clearly California leads the pack, accounting for a whopping 94% of US wine production. Great varietals for Thanksgiving? Try a Zinfandel on the red side, and a Chardonnay on the white.

  • 2005 Blair Family Estate Zinfandel with some of the heartier sides on the Thanksgiving table - like the roasted garlic mashed potatoes or the stuffing (or is it dressing?) Depends who you ask, but the debate rages on at our family gathering every year.
  • 2005 Blair Family Estate Chardonnay is always a hit - not too oaky, not overly toasty, but just right - and really great with the green bean casserole Aunt Betty brings every single year!

Want More Information? Eryn Cadoff, an Independent Wine Consultant with The Traveling Vineyard conducts in-home wine tastings in Northern Virginia and DC. When not at tastings, she's a stay-at-home-mom/taxi to her 3 and 5 year old daughters

November 16, 2009

Tailgating Date with Sofia

Now, normally I'd be a simple wings and beers girl for any sporting event, and as much as that's still a fun occasion, I'm
finding that my affinity for wine is growing more and more intense. So even though wine isn't the most common tailgating addition, I allowed it to make a home with me.

Fast forward to Saturday at the Virginia Tech vs. University of Maryland football game (go Hokies!) where the munchies and booze were aflow. Mixed drinks, bottled beers, bottled wines, canned beers, canned wines. Wait... canned wine you say? Yes, wine in a can!

I admit, I was just as apprehensive as most of you probably are right
now. Afterall, boxed wines (until recently) ruined many of our relationships with wine (c'mon, who didn't have a bad Franzia experience in college once or twice? My old roommates are not allowed to comment on that!)

So, my friends over at Talbert/Coppola knew I was planning a huge tailgate for the big game and were kind enough to send me a set of Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs to try out, and I quickly learned how fantastic of an addition they were to the smorgasbord of cheese wieners, burgers and layered dips we had on hand.

Aesthetically, this is a woman's drink (although, do look at the pic on the left where my cousin is rocking his own can proving that real men drink pink). The petite sized hot pink cans have an elaborate feminine design on them and are sold in a unique hot pink octagon-like packaging which adds to its over flare (would be a great bachelorette party addition or
even birthday present!)

Once you get over the fact that you're sipping your favorite libation from a can, you'll be able to become enraptured in the fresh, aromotic tastes of the Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat varietals. Its perfectly effervescent - the bubbles lightly tingly your tongue and the bold summer fruit flavors shine through.

Where are we netting out? Sofia Minis are my new status symbol... so long Starbucks!

Cost: $12.99/4-pack
Where To Buy:

November 8, 2009

Lil' Miss WinoBee Does Disney

I love it when pleasure collides with passion. That's pretty much the purpose of my recent trip down to sunny Orlando, where I got to:

1) Meet up with my best friend who just moved to Florida
2) Run in a 5K through the backlots of Hollywood Studios
3) Frolic the Magic Kingdom (sans Teacups since the stupid things were broken. Let's be honest, if they were Wine Flutes, we know they would have been rockin n' rollin)
4) Hit up Epcot's WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL!!

Ok, so clearly participation in #2 might have evolved from a desire to attend #4, I won't fib. Afterall, there is no better way to celebrate burning off calories than putting them right back in your body with great wine and delicious food.

Cue, Sunday at Disney's Epcot where we traveled 'round their [fake] world stopping to delve face first into each culture one drink and bite at a time. From France and Morrocco, to New Zealand and Germany, we attempted to expand our palettes through immersing in each of the country's specialties.

DISCLAIMER: Now, I must forwarn this is one of my longer posts, so if you prefer, scroll to the bottom and check out our interactive video that highlights our favorite stops! If you want the specifics, keep on reading below!

The first stop along the way was none other than right where I had just traveled from, New York! To my delight, New York was sampling a delicious ice wine, Casa Larga Fiordi Vidal. You know I can't turn down ice wine even if its the first drink of the day, so naturally thats the one I opted for at a wopping $8 for 2 oz. worth of tasting. To my enjoyment, it was worth it. Very sweet, as ice wines always are. Great summer fruit flavors, particularly apricot and peach, with a note of honeysuckle on the finish.

Stop #2 was New Zealand and I was conned (ok, so
no one literally twisted my arm, but whatever) into pairing succulent Seared Scallops with Villa Marie Sauvignon Blanc. Now, normally I love the light, crisp, citrusy taste of Sauvignon Blanc, but this glass didn't offer any of those attributes. Bummer.

Stop #3 was Paris (but for us, it was more like Pair-Eee). This might have been my favorite stop not just because of the wine, but also because of the braised short ribs I paired my Bordeaux with.
Now, poor Bordeaux has received a pretentious stigma over the years, but there in the midst of a big comeback because more and more WinoBees like ourselves are discovering their Old World flare without the snobbery of the people pushing them on us. To my surprise, my Bordeaux (and shame on me for forgetting the vintage) was very smooth and light on the tannins. As a stand-alone, it didn't have alot of flavor, but when you combined it with the short ribs, the earthy/minerally tastes were really brought to life.
Where did we go next? Umm, where didn't we go next? Somewhere in the middle of everything, we stopped along at a few other countries and even picked up a beer-stein in Germany, until we got to the MotherLand... ITALIA!!!

Mmm... Castello Banfi, a favorite. Deviating from my normal Brunello di Moltacino, I picked up a glass of a relatively new vintage called, BelnerO. BelnerO is made of 100% Italian Sangiovese grapes. The glass boasts purple and dark fruits on both the nose and the palettes, with a smooth finish that leaves notes of French Oak (after all, it was barreled in it for 19 months). It was nearly perfection, a must try for all, and a great way to finish out our Disney Wine & Food Tour!

November 4, 2009

Event Buzz: The 13th Annual Great Wine Escape Weekend

Monterey’s exceptional wineries, accompanied by local and nationally recognized chefs, will come together to commemorate The 13th Annual Great Wine Escape Weekend, November 13th-15th, 2009. The festivities beckon wine and food lovers from around the country.

Friday, November 13

  • Coastal Kitchen—Food and wine seminars throughout the day
  • Winemaker Dinners

Saturday, November 14

  • Self-Guided or Luxury Coach Tours of Monterey Wine Country
  • From Terroir to Table—Educational vineyard and winery tours
  • Winemaker For A Day—A chance to fulfill the dream
  • Winemaker Dinners—Featuring Monterey’s hottest chefs and vintners

Sunday, November 15

  • The Grand Finale Tasting—Thirty-five Monterey County wineries and a dozen restaurants

The Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association web site provides package pricing, individual event prices and hotel recommendations. Additional information can be found by visiting

Participating wineries include: Bernardus Vineyards and Winery, Boekenoogen Vineyards & Winery, Carmel Road Winery, Chalone Vineyard, Chateau Julien Wine Estate, Estancia, Galante Vineyards & Winery, Graff Family Vineyards, Hahn Estates/Smith & Hook Winery, Heller Estate Organic Vineyards, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Line Shack Winery, Joyce Vineyard Winery, Lockwood Vineyard & Winery, Manzoni Estate Vineyard, Mariposa Wine Company, Marin’s Vineyard, McIntyre Vineyards, Mission Trail Vineyards, Monterey Wine Company, Morgan Winery, Otter Cove Wines, Paraiso Vineyards, Pierce Ranch Vineyards, Puma Road, San Bernabe Vineyards, Scheid Vineyards, Thomas Fogarty and Ventana Vineyards

November 3, 2009

Halloween's Over?

Besides all the delicious libations I stirred up during "Cocktail Week" (including Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake shots, which earned me bragging rights at work during our annual interoffice cocktail competition), you knew it was inevitable that I would spend my "All Hallow's Eve" uncorking my festivities. So, what was worthy of this Queen of Hearts?

Cinnabar's 2006 Mercury Rising! The fine folks at Cinnabar out in Saratoga, CA sent me some bottles to try out and review, and up until this point I've only had the opportunity to indulge in their Cabernet (which was also pretty fantastic!) Although I admit I should have prepared for such a full-bodied wine by accompanying it with a big juicy steak, or even some intensly flavored cheeses, I decided to decant and dive right in.

This Bordeaux-style blend is made from a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petite Verdot grapes. It's very plush and offers an intense complexity. It opens with a nose of dark fruits and toasted oak (aged in French, American & Hungarian oak barrels for 19 months), but also blends with some earthy attributes, like herbs. The tannins were smooth for being such a full wine, and they helped support the dense fruit, tobacco and spice flavors that came through on the palate. I must say, this $20 wine tastes like its worth hundreds - invest now!

Where to Buy:
Cost: $20

TNT Goes Real Cheap... as in "Box Wine"

Recently Wine Spectator did a special on "box wines" last month. Intrigued by their spread, I decided I'd do a little taste test of my own. And with the holidays almost upon us, who doesn't love to entertain? Could these box wines hold up to bottled wines? Are the stereotypes of box wines a thing of the past? Will you be pouring box wines the next time you host?

Ironically enough, the box wines I tried weren't too bad. Having said that, I paid $20 for each box (each box is equivalent to 4 bottles). If you're paying over $25 for the box, you can find better bottled wine for around $6-$7 per bottle (Columbia Crest Two Vines is impossible to beat, in my mind). But if you can find these for under $25, then you can't really go wrong.

I went to several wine stores in NJ to see what was commonly available. I decided to stay clear of the real cheap stuff (if they don't produce good bottled wine, the boxes won't be any good). That means I didn't try Franzia, Carlo Rossi, Almaden, etc. I picked up "Black Box Cabernet" from California and "Hardy's Cabernet" from Australia. I was also looking for "Killer Juice Cabernet", but couldn't find it at any of the stores I visited. There are a few other brands (Fish Eye and Bota Box, to name a few), but I didn't need the equivalent of 2 cases of wine in my fridge. So I decided to limit my taste test to these two readily available wines.

The nice thing about the box wines is their shelf life. With the "spigot" dispensing the wine, no air is allowed into the bag holding the wine. This means, the wine has a life of several months once opened. Plus they take up almost no room... especially compared to the 4 bottles that are included in each box. But, the most important... how do they taste???

2007 Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon, California
Purchased for $20 (3L box). Nose of clove, strawberry and oak. On the palate, more of the same... candied cherry, strawberry, butterscotch and a hint of spice. Simple, easy. Short finish.

My take: Average+

2007 Hardy's Cabernet Sauvignon, South Eastern Australia
Purchased for $17 (3L box). On the nose, oak is the most dominant scent followed by bubble gum and strawberry notes. There may be a hint of mint as well. But don't let all these scents trick you into thinking this is a complex wine. On the palate, the oak and strawberry really come through.

My take: Average-

So for about $5 per bottle, these wines aren't too shabby. Easy to drink, simple, non-thinking wines. Definitely great if you're entertaining for a large number of people. But if you're paying more than $25 for the box, you can do better with actual bottled wine. Having said that, if you want something to keep in the back of the fridge for a quick glass when you're not looking to open an entire bottle, you can't go wrong. With a shelf-life of several months and minimal cost, these two box wines can't be beat.