February 27, 2009

Burgundy Week: 2005 Saint-Romain Blanc

Burgundy Week treks on with our second wine review from the wine-producing village of Saint-Romain in France. The Saint-Romain village is located on a rocky hillside perch in turn making the vineyards the highest in altitude in all of the Cote d'Or area.

Know I know I just got some of you in over your head. You're likely asking, "W-T-F is Cote d'Or?" And it's not a silly question at all. Let me break it down in simpliest terms possible:
  • Cot d'Or - literally means "golden slope" in French. It refers to the "sweet spot" in Burgundy with fertile land blending from the Cote de Buis in the north (where most of the pinot noir is grown) and the Cote de Bueune in the south (where most of the chardonnay is grown). Get it? Its sort of like the holy land for all things red and white.
Now back to the matters at hand... given the altitude in the Cote d'Or region, the white grapes (particularly Chardonnay grapes) tend to ripen better because of the stony soil and cool climate. This is turn gives the wines a lighter, refreshing and also crispy taste. This appellation produces about 18,000 case of both red and white wines per year.

The 2005 Maison Bertrand Ambroise Saint-Roman Blanc retails for about $28/bottle... and sadly, I'm going to say that it can stay $28. Again, I reiterate that wines are subjective. While I personally am not attracted to the strong smoked-bacon aroma or mineralistic taste of this particular wine, it doesn't mean that you may not find it delectable. Trying to thinking optimistically (after have just a few solid swigs of this Oscar Meyer-esque vino), I would suggest to pair it with a gruyere cheese to offset some of the acid flavorings. The taste, I admit, was crisp... just not my #1 pick... ever!

February 24, 2009

Hoppy Easter... well, almost!

So we may still be a month or so out, but to make sure my WinoBees are prepped for the holiday I’m giving away the most appropriate Easter Basket item I know… a pastel pink Rabbit!

The Metrokane Rabbit Corkscrew (value $60) has forever changed my life, and I’m pretty sure it’ll change yours too! This brand new set comes with the metal gear bottle opener mechanism, a foil cutter, extra spiral, and wine pourer with stopper. I promise you, if you haven't used one yet, it will allow for much smoother openings. 

And yes, I did say it was pink. Girls will think its dainty, and guys... let's be honest, real men wear pink, so why can't they drink it too? But if you're still apprehensive, gift it to your wife, girlfriend or sister in replacement of the typical chocolate bunny... trust me, this bunny will earn you more points (wink, wink). Oh, and did I mention that 5% of the proceeds from this Rabbit were donated to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center? Sold yet?

Hopefully so, and that's why I want to make sure you have it in time for Easter! So if you are looking to uncork your drinking festivities with ease, simply earn some points...

To obtain 1 entry point, do one of the following:

1)    Leave a comment within this “Hoppy Easter” post identifying what you’re planning to uncork for the holiday (for those of you who don't celebrate the holiday, just tell me your favorite vino). Anonymous comments will be deleted, so be sure to also leave your email address.

2)    Send me an email at oenobee@yahoo.com with the subject line “EASTER BUNNY.” Within the body, drop a line identifying what you’re planning to uncork for the holiday alongside your email address.

* Only one comment or one email please. 

Bonus: If you’re an overachiever (like me) you can obtain 5 entry points simply by pairing one of the above entries with one the below entries mentioned (so that’s a total of 2 entries peeps).

3)    For My Tweeps – log in to your Twitter account and mention the giveaway with a link to the WinoBee.com website. To make sure I see your entry, be sure to enter the following hashtag in your tweet: #HEG

4)    For My Bloggies -- if you have a blog yourself, simply post about WinoBee’s “Hoppy Easter” giveaway. Email me to let me know you've posted about it with a link to the post and your email.

All entries must be completed by 11:59pm EST on Sunday, March 22nd. The person with the most points will be our lucky winner. Assuming a tie, the winner will be chosen at random and announced on Tuesday, March 24th. The winner must claim their prize within 3 days, otherwise I will be forced to pick another lucky WinoBee. The losing entrants may be pretty jazzed about that, so I encourage everyone to pay attention to your emails that week! J

So what are you waiting for… HIP-HOP, HIPPITY-HOP TO IT!!!  GOOD LUCK!!

(Sidenote: Apologies to anyone who doesn’t celebrate the Easter holiday. The theme was chosen solely for two reasons: 1) we are compiling a story of the best wines to serve at Easter and 2) the Rabbit is simple a natural fit for anything “Easter-y”- wouldn’t you agree? Smooches!)

February 23, 2009

Burgundy Week: '06 Macon-Lugny "Les Charmes"

To kick off "Burgundy Week" we are going to start light and work our way to more complex, just like we would at a wine tasting. So, let's get this party buzzing...

What are we drinking? 2006 Macon-Lugny "Les Charmes"

Where is it from? Macconais

Grape use? Chardonnay

Cost? $10-$14

Where To Buy? Wine.com

Within the southern region of Burgundy, lies Maconnais, an area that harvests reds, whites and roses predominately made from Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Noir grape varietals. Maconnais is recognized for well-made wines at reasonable prices, so it was only appropriate we try just that... though I wouldn’t suggest it unless you are particularly partial to French Chardonnays. 

For more advanced Winobees, go ahead and call me a wine snob (or just plain American), but I’m partial to the stereotypical Cali Chards which boast a more tropical underpinning. If I’m going to drink a chardonnay (which I don't necessarily prefer if I'm picking a white), I expect it to be colorful in flavor, sweet on the tongue, and pleasing to my nose.

The’06 Macon-Lugny “Les Charmes” is a very bland, even sticky-like wine that exhibits a very earthy smell, and little to no fruit flavorings. All in all its a wine where the acidity clearly overpowers its fruitful roots. The only thing that helped make this wine a bit better was pairing it with a soft goat-cheese, which helped to eliminate some of the minerality from the taste.   

PS- Have you had this wine? If so, post a comment about your experience! We had a great convo going on Twitter yesterday about preference to Cali Chards vs. French Chards. What are your thoughts?

PPS - if you're not following us on Twitter yet... you should! Vino Extradonaire, Dale Cruse listed WinoBee as one of the best wine tweeps to follow. Check it at Drink Are on Me(post 2/23)... and become part of our swarm!  Twitter Handle = @WinoBee

It's Burgundy Week!

Burgundy is one of the most fascinating regions in France. While it breeds a culture of both art and living, its also best known for many of the world's most delectable wines. But for WinoBees, like myself, its often easy to become confused with the what-seems-like-millions-of-names of all the various regions, areas, chateus, et-cetera, et-cetera -- not just in France, but all over. So let's go ahead and break this down in the simplest terms possible...


When someone says they are "sipping a French Burgundy," what does that mean? Well, its simply a redundancy - Burgundy is a region in France, duh. As you travel further South, you'll pass through most of the wine growing areas including:

  •            Chablis
  •            Cote de Beaune
  •            Cote de Nuits
  •            Chalonais
  •            Maconais 
  •            Beaujolais (likely the most recognized)

What types of wine are predominant? Burgundy is most noted for its concentration of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (exactly what we'll be reviewing this week). However, red and white wines from this region are also made from Gamay and Aligote grape varietal, they just aren't as common.

How do I know which wines are best? To reiterate, a WinoBee's mantra is all about subjectivity. A wine is only good, bad or indifferent dependent upon the personal palate of the consumer. However, when you're gawking at labels look for "Grand Cru" - its normally implicit of a higher price tag. Check the ratings scale below:

  • Grand Cru - these are the wines made from some of the best vineyards in the region and and they account for only 2% of the production in the region
  • Premiere Cru - still great quality, but not quite Grand Cru; makes up for 12% of the production
  • Village - made from a blend of wines, typically from less popular vineyards

And that pretty much sums up the region in a nutshell -- now, on for bigger and better... Burgundy Wines! Check back throughout the week for review of a variety of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs of all price ranges!

February 22, 2009

Ballatore Sparkling White & Rose

Ever done a mystery wine tasting that’s left not only your palate satisfied, but also your wallet? Well even if you haven’t, I have… and I have to admit I was astonished to learn that my mystery bubbly came at a mere price of just $7.99 per bottle (and who said I wasn’t a cheap date?)

Balator Sparkling Wine comes in both a white and rose variety:

  • The white variety was refreshingly sweet, and will likely remind you of a German reisling with its overtly sugar complexity which will leave your teeth feeling like they have a bit of coating on them. Both the bouquet and the taste reflect spring time fruits, particularly a mix of apricot and peaches.
  • The rose variety was similar in overall characteristics, though the taste resembled that of a zinfandel with strawberry flavoring and floral undertones.

For sparkling wines, neither the white nor the rose were overly beady or dry… they are easily satisfying in terms of balancing the bubbly with a sweet taste... It’s like soda for adults!

Where To Buy: BevMax.com

Cost: $7.99

February 21, 2009

Happy Wine Expo Week!

If you aren't already in tune there are a few great expos happening through the end of the month that I wanted to share with you. If you are slim on plans this weekend and happen to either be in/around New York or Virginia, grab a ticket and check out...

New York Wine Expo
When: February 27 through March 1
Where: Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
Cost: $75-95 (depending on when you buy your ticket)
So What Do I Get? Your admission will get you into the Grand Tasting Tent where you'll have access to over 170 wine producers, plus complimentary food samples from several exhibitors. Visit NY Wine Expo for more information, costs and schedule.

Friday, February 27th
6:00pm - "One Hour Wine Expert" seminar with Kevin Zraly of Windows of the World
7:30pm - "Argentina's Unparralleled Malbecs"
9:00pm - "Discovering the Wines from Castilla - La Mancha, Spain"

Saturday, February 28th
1:30pm - "A Passion for Portugal" with Michael Weiss

Virginia Wine Expo (where I will be tilting my glass)
When: February 27th - March 1
Where: Greater Richmond Convention Center
Cost: $15 - $100 depending on activity
So What Do I Get? You'll get to experience over 300 of Virginia's finest wines while savoring gourmet foods, watching chef demos and relaxing in their Wine Garden. Visit Virginia Wine Expo  to get your tickets and see more! 

Friday, February 27th
4:00pm - Sit-Down Reserve Tasting w/ Bartholomew Broadbent (he's a big wig CEO for an import company based in Richmond)

Saturday, February 28th
12:00pm - Wine Seminar with Andrew Hodson 

Sunday, March 1
10:30am - Brunch at the Jefferson Hotel
12:00pm - Wine Seminar with Chad Zakaib

And coming soon to a barrel near you...
April 3-4, 2009
Rock Financial Showplace - Nove, MI

February 13, 2009

Pour Me Pink: The Ultimate V-Day Toast

It's that time of year when red rose petals are strewn about, champagne is uncorked and sales at Hallmark soar through the roof... perhaps the most marketed day of the entire year, it's Valentine's! 

Now, don't get me wrong... just because I don't have a "special someone" to wine me and dine me this year, doesn't mean I'll be holding back. In fact, it's times like these I relish in the wise words of  a one Miss Beyonce and page "All the Single Ladies" like myself in search of a little romance on this special day (and all year round). A let's face it, we all know there is no better way to celebrate than to press your lips against something sweet.

That's where Nuvo, a new sparkling liquer from Paris comes into play! When I say this beverage is the epitome of femininity, I dare not lie. Not only is Nuvo glowing pink in color, but its delicate passionfruit-like taste and enchanting bottle design (which looks like a perfume bottle) makes you feel just a wee-bit dainty.

This little pink drink combines only a small bit of French sparkling wine with chardonnay, pinot noir and distilled vodka - the end is a harmonious balance of ripe fruit which will leave your palate refreshed. It almost tastes like a Cosmopolitan and I'm sure the ladies from Sex and the City will be replacing their trademark beverage once they get a hold of this little cocktail.

And what better way to serve it than over ice in a champagne flute. I mean if you're going after elegance, you might as well go all out, right? 

Now, let's be real... Nuvo doesn't have to be solely for the ladies. Afterall, a real man not only wears pink, he drinks it to! So toss up a toast to you and your love one and get your pink on!

Nuvo retails for about $20 per 375mL bottle and can be found online at:
For more info, check out www.sparklingnuvo.com! 

February 11, 2009

Tea on the Rise...

While we are on the cocktail buzz, I figured I would drop a quick post from an interesting article I read today on the NY Times website that talks about a new beverage hit, Tea Infused Vodka.

The article specifically points out how South Carolina's
Firefly Distillery claims their Sweet Tea Vodka tastes almost exact to the beloved drink. Don't believe it? Well in just months, the distillery has expanded sales to 40 states. More recently they have extended their line with new peach, lemon and mint flavors. Yummo!

I mean if food conglomerates like McDonald’s offers sweet tea at 78% of its locations, there obviously has to be a demand for the South's trademark drink, but just a little liquored up, right?

Wanna Try? Mimicking the popular "Arnold Palmer," try whipping up a "John Daly"- aptly named for the bad-boy of golf himself by diluting 50% Sweet Tea Vodka with 50% lemondate. Mmm, mmm, mmm!

To view the article in full, check out the
New York Times.

February 10, 2009

Mo' Cocktails at MoMA... pahhh-lease!

If you're looking for a delicious, yet tart escape from the growing sophistication of being a WinoBee, check out these fun recipes I got tonight from an art exhibit at MoMA in New York. The event was sponsored by Sagatiba, which is a delightful Brazilian rum-like liquor (*insert Rumpelstiltsken joke from Big Daddy here*) known as cachacas. Its made from a unique multidistillation process which allows it to best mix with a varieties of cocktails.

You may be asking yourself, "W-T-F is a cachacas?" Well, you're not alone! Let's put it in perspective using SAT analogies, ok... France is to champagne as Mexico is to tequila, right? Well, cachacas is essentially just that to Brazil. Like rum (but different from rum) cachacas is distilled straight from sugarcane juice, which helps it maintain its fruity flavor and natural aroma. Did I mention its pretty much the essence of Brazil's most popular cocktail: the Caipirinha (don't ask me how to pronounce that)? So that's where I come into play now...

Although my palette is more intrigued by vino than any other beverage (which the exception of H2O) I actually enjoyed their Sagatiba Spring Caipirinha  -- though I would have liked it better if it came with a blue chair, white sand and ocean in front of my face. Want to make it? Grab the below ingredients and get to mixing:
  • 2 oz. Sagatiba Pura
  • 1/2 lime cut into wedges
  • 8-10 fresh blueberries (hey - we love our antioxidants!)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 oz. Creme de Mure
Place the lime, blueberries and sugar in an old-fashioned glass and mash gentle with a mudder. Add ice, and pour in the Sagatiba and Creme de Mure. Stir well and enjoy!

But I didn't stop there (did you have doubts?) I also scoped out the Sagatiba Classic Caipirinha. Both the taste and its lemon-lime color reminded me very much of a margarita on the rocks sans salt. Again it would have been more delectable if paired with a Caribbean vacation, but who am I to judge? Afterall, I was surrounded by paper bags that considered themselves "art." Check out the recipe below:
  • 2 oz. Sagatiba Pura
  • 1/2 lime cut into wedges
  • 2 tsp. sugar
Place the lime and sugar in an old fashioned glass and mash gently. Add ice and pour Sagatiba in. Stir well (again) and toss it back.

With eccentric cocktails like these, its no wonder that this post-modern, pseudo-couture Brazilian spirit coupled up with one of the leading art muesums 'round the world. Check out the brand's website at www.sagatiba.com where you can enjoy Mixology 101 and some sweet Latin tunes. 

February 5, 2009

Twitter Taste Live -- Online Wine Tasting

If you've ever needed motivation to uncork a bottle of your finest (or even your not-so-finest), now's your chance!

Twitter Taste Live is the premier forum for real-time wine tasting via the web, and in honor of the 10th anniversary of Open That Bottle Night, they've teamed up with wine importer Wilson Daniels Ltd. to host an interactive wine tasting on Saturday, February 28, 2009, at 8 p.m. EST.

So, how does it work? Well, chances are if you are reading this blog you have some sort of digi-savviness to you, and I'm going to assume that you either A) have an existing Twitter account or B) are capable of creating one. In a nutshell, a live video stream at Twitter Taste Live will allow you to follow bloggers and event hosts through wine tastings, while instantly being able to ask questions through the website's real-time feed.

Open That Bottle Night is a great way for WinoBees worldwide to open and share a special bottle of wine... and to learn lots!

Wanna Join? RSVP at http://www.twittertastelive.com/. Afterall, February is Heart Health Month... and there is no better way take hold of the celebration than indulging in a glass of grape antioxidants!