December 30, 2009

What's Poppin' for 2010?

What's poppin' for 2010? Well, bubbly of course! I love that tingly taste on my tongue throughout the year, but most appreciate it while bringing in another new year. So since 2009 has treated me quite well, I'm guarunteeing my champagne will help do the same. Here's what I'll progressivley be consuming over the night and into the wee-hours of the morning:

1) Pommery POP Minis - a personal fav that I drink at picnics, at tailgates, at birthday parties, etc. So why would I discriminate at New Years? These mini bottles are the perfect addition (and easiest to transport) to the festivities whether your clanking bottles at a friends apartment, or "cheersing" to yourself in a cab on the way to the club (I'll be doing both). The best part is you can drink straight out of the bottle with a straw like the sassy and classy wino you are. ($15/bottle)

2) Vueve Clicquot Brut Yellow (1/2 Bottle) - a must have for celebrations in my apartment! Nicknamed "The Vueve" this bottle is made primarly of Pinot Noir and sings almond and honey on the tongue. Like the boy/girl you're smooching at midnight, its sure to be inviting. ($20)

3) Moet & Chandon "White Star"- similar to this "White Star" champagne, I'm sure to end my evening in a plummet to the deep blue, just like Titanic. But, hey, at least its in good fashion! Perhaps my favorite tasting bubbly, I rarely dive into my pockets to pick up a bottle. Its the perfect option for ringing in 2010, as it evokes the spirit of a coming year worthy of a celebration -one thats crisp, fresh and always exciting! ($89/bottle)

December 29, 2009

Look, Santa is a WinoBee too!

Holiday hiatus bit me in the toosh like a bottle of skunked Merlot... but I'm back! And as I recoup from the madness (while also attempting to burn off the calories I consumed) I find myself fiddling around with all the fun gifts that the spirit of Christmas graced me with.

Shockingly, it only included two bottles of wine this year (I guess Santa is trying to tell me something -or- he knows that my wine fridge is currently on overflow mode). But beyond liquid presents, I also received a few fun gifts worthy of Lil' Miss WinoBee sharing with each of you.

1) Wine Wars - a fun little trivia game that tests your knowledge of wine, from selecting and tasting varietals to production and wine people. Its perfect for winos of all levels, and especially perfect for beginners learning to beef up their wine mind.

Cost: $18
Where to Buy: Uncommon Goods
2) Vinturi Wine Aerator - the perfect tool for mixing in the right amount of air to your wine (seriously, its done in the amount of time it takes to pour it into the Vinturi and trickly into the glass, wah-la!). Why is this important you ask? Like decanting and allowing the wine to breathe, this device brings out the wine's most aromatic and flavorful attributes... just in less time! And when you're thirsty, that's a plus.

Cost: $40
Where to Buy: Amazon

3) Diva Wine Glass - if you're going to drink, you might as well drink in style. And what better way to bring to life your own personality than through the wine you're sipping on. And according to my lil' cousins... I'm a wine diva!

Cost: $25

December 16, 2009

NICE LIST: 2005 Dominique Laurent Marsannay

Item: 2005 Marsannay
Category: Wines for Dining
Cost: $17 (as a "futures")
Where To Buy:

It's time for another "Naughty or Nice" pick TNT style, and what better place to snag from than, Burgundy!

Burgundy is one of the most difficult wine regions in the world to understand. First, it has more 'appellations' than any region in the world. You've probably heard of Chablis, Beaujolais; and maybe you've seen Gevrey-Chambertain or Montrachet on a bottle or restaurant wine list. Well there are 677 of them!!! Then, there is the 'ranking' system... from Grand Cru to Premier Cru to Village to finally "regional" wines. Now figure in all the producers and it's no wonder Burgundy can be a very scary place. But if you can take the time to explore it and learn a little about it, you will find that is produces much of the worlds greatest wines.

As a start, basically only two types of grapes are grown here... Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. There are some other smaller varieties (Gamay, for instance, is grown in Beaujolais), but their use is extremely minimal. So we're basically dealing with Pinot and Chardonnay.

Next, we can learn a lot from the label... so let's look closer. Since Burgundy is all about the appellations, it's the name of the appellation that is the largest thing on the label (not the producer). So this wine comes from the Marsannay appellation.

Now, notice the label... it doesn't read Grand Cru, Premier Cru or 1er Cru... but it does say 'Vielles Vignes". Therefore, this wine is from the "village" class (not a grand or premier cru). Finally, the vintage is 2005. The vintage on this bottle is shown on a label at the top of the bottle... which is not shown in the picture. So, after glancing at the label, we know we are drinking a 2005 "village level" pinot noir from the Marsannay region of Burgundy. The producer is Dominique Laurent.

2005 Dominique Laurent Marsannay Clos du Roy Vieilles Vignes - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Marsannay

Purchased as "futures" for $17 (this is where you buy wine before it's released. I purchased this in 2007 and it was delivered in 2008). Dark ruby in color with a hint of violet on the edges. Overwhelming nose of barnyard and earth. There is definitely terrior here. Behind the earthy notes lies subtle aromas of blackberry, boysenberry and ripe cherry. The crisp acidity (it's borderline effervescent) make this an excellent food wine, and the tannins can stand up to a steak. (I served porterhouses for dinner). This could use a little time for the tannins and acidity to settle down, but this is a very enjoyable wine. The fruit with the barnyard notes really make this a complex wine. And I like the fact that there is very little oak here.

My Take: Outstanding

December 14, 2009

Nice List: Clos de los Siete 2007

Item: Clos de los Siete 2007
Category: Wines for Dining
Cost: $19/bottle
Where to Buy:
We're making a list, and checking it twice and this super red blend easily makes the cut. The '07 Clos de los Siete is an Argentine masterpiece that offers poetic aromas, flavors and length that pair well with hearty holiday cuisine, or even on it's own. Aged for 11 months in French oak barrels and made from Malbec (48%), Merlot (28%), Cabernet (12%) and Syrah (12%), this wine smells and tastes purple. Its fragrant combination of plum, blueberry and cherry are expressed not only on the nose, but offer perfect balance on the pallette too.

December 11, 2009

Nice List: Orogeny '06 Pinot Noir

Item: Orogeny '06 Pinot Noir
Category: Wines for Dining
Cost: $35/bottle
Where to Buy:

In getting ready to close out the 2009 year, Orogeny made its way into my life during one of my various after-work trips to "The Palm." And man, am I glad it did!

Stemming from the Greek variation of "Oro," meaning mountain and "Geny," meaning birth, Sonoma's Orogeny very literally brings to life collisions and separations of the Earth's crust which form mountains. The last orogenic episode in Sonoma County formed Green Valley, where the grapes from this wine come from.

Cool story, right? Even better taste! This Pinot is super smooth and has lively cranberry and cherry flavors on the palette, balances with hints of nutmeg and cinnamon. Pinot might very well be the best medium-bodied red you can get, and this particular bottle is on the top of our list for the holidays (and all year round!)

December 6, 2009

Nice List: Firestone Vineyard '07 Merlot

Item: '07 Firestone Discoveries Merlot
Category: Wines for Holiday Dining
Cost: $10/bottle
Where to Buy:

It's time to spin the 2009 "Naughty or Nice" List Tasting Note Tuesday style. If the name "Firestone" sounds familiar to you, you're not alone. Not only do wine lovers know the name, but so do car enthusiasts (and ex-bachelorettes!).

That's right, the Firestone Winery was started by the son of the founder of Firestone Tires! Leonard Firestone started the Santa Ynez Valley winery in 1972... a time when no one was planting vines in this coastal area of California. The family ran the winery for 35 years before legendary wine owner Bill Foley purchased the winery in 2007. For those of you who have never heard of Bill Foley, he is the owner of some of California best and most sought-after wines including Sebastiani, Kuleto and Merus.

2007 Firestone Vineyard Merlot Discoveries - USA, California

A little on the 'thin' side for a merlot. In the glass, the wine has a translucent ruby red color. Upon opening, scents of oak, vanilla and cherry are most dominant. On the palate, cherry takes center stage and the oak plays a supporting role. There is also a slight hint of cranberry... but mostly cherry and oak. The finish is a little short, but for $9 per bottle, it's not too bad.

My Take: Good

December 5, 2009

The Nice List: WineHug

Item: WineHug
Category: Stocking Stuffers
Cost: $20
Where to Buy:

You've probably seen me write (or talk) about giving my wines big hugs - and I mean that literally and figurativley - at various times across our journey of wine exploration. So, as a personal favorite product I thought those of you treking to dinner or wine-n-cheese parties, like me (long-live "Wine Down Wednedays"), might find use in this fun little product called, WineHug.

WineHug is a self-inflating protective pouch that is lightweight, compact and adapts to hold a 750mL bottle of wine. It has a simple velcro seam that helps keep the bottle snug so you bypass any breakage (which we all know can ruin delicate white blouses when packed in a suitcase). And the best part... its re-usable! Simply collapse the WineHug when its not in use and re-inflate it for your next trip.
If you're looking for something even less costly ($10), you can get a similar item that actually keeps your wine chilled at Crate & Barrel.

December 4, 2009

The Nice List: Wine Gift Cards

Item: Wine Gift Cards
Category: Stocking Stuffer (or Gift)
Price: Whatever you'd like!
Where to Buy:

Some of you are probably thinking we're crazy for wanting to put an ENTIRE bottle of wine into a holiday stocking. Won't it weight it down? What if it breaks? Ok, if you're conscious about it, we have the perfect solution for you... wine in the form a gift card!
If you can swipe a Visa, you might as well be able to swipe a gift card that can do the same specifically for a bottle of good wine. And the folks at have done just that for us! You get to choose the dollar amount for your gift and the recipient can choose any item they want from the website. I've got my eye on a nice Brunello (seasons greetings to me!) E-giftcards are also available.

December 3, 2009

Nice List: Pommery POP Earth

Item: Pommery POP Earth Champagne
Category: Stocking Stuffers
Cost: $49.99
Where to Buy:

Everyone already knows that I'm a sucker for a little champagne, and I'm sure a good chunk of the drinking population would side along with me. That's why it's only appropriate we add some bubbly to our "nice" Stocking Stuffer picks.

Now, it's also pretty known that I'm a big fan of Pommery and their mini POP Champagne bottles (which I've given props to more than once on this blog). But, now I adore them even more because they launched POP Earth, a champagne produced from sustainably farmed grapes packaged in a 100% recycled bottle (which is lighter in turn yielding less freight and pollution) and made with a recycled paper label printed with water-based inks. It's a drink you can feel good about throwing back, so stuff it in the stocking and uncork it for New Years!

December 2, 2009

Nice List: Lola Custom Wine Glasses

Item: Lulu Custom Painted Wine Glasses
Category: Stocking Stuffers
Cost: $6.99/each
Where to Buy: HomeGoods

Take a look at this picture and tell me how you could ever pass up this festive drinkware? These Lulu hand painted wine glasses by 2 Saints Inc. are flirty, fun and fabulous, and not only are they great "drinking glasses," they are sure to be conversation starters too.

The company produces a wide range of whimsically themed martini and wine glasses, perfect for whatever personality you are looking for - the Shopaholic, the Diva, or even a Bachelorette. But my eyes were immediately drawn to this "Chubby Santa" (as I like to call him) as I was combing through my neighborhood HomeGoods store the other day. I bought two - one for myself to showboat at my Wine Down Holiday Party this weekend, and one for a good friend who I'm secretly hoping doesn't see this post. "We wasted the good surprise on you!"

December 1, 2009

Nice List: ONEHOPE Merlot

Item: ONEHOPE Merlot
Category: Stocking Stuffers
Cost: $18.99
Where to Buy:
We're big ambassadors for anything tied to a cause, so it's no wonder that ONEHOPE wine makes the top of our "nice" list for the Stocking Stuffer category. And clearly there was no better day to share this find with you than today, World AIDS Day.

We discovered ONEHOPE Chardonnay a few months back as a tie into our Breast Cancer PINKTOBER round-up only to uncover that the company works with several other initiatives, particularly this California-grown Merlot with 50% of proceeds benefiting charities that fund AIDS research. Just as Merlot is one of the most popular varietals in the world, AIDS is arguably the biggest world epidemic claiming over 25 million lives in the past 25 years - see the connection?

Knowing how much I enjoyed their Chardonnay, the kind folks with ONEHOPE offered to send me a sample bottle of this Merlot to try out, and being a sucker for philanthropy and an avid fan of the brand already, I easily said yes. Afterall, it's more fun to drink with purpose!

On the nose, this wine doesn't exude any distinct character. The smell of alcohol overpowers any other aromas, however the minute you allow it to breathe in your mouth (swirl, swirl) you'll see all its flavorful attributes come alive, particularly dark fruits like black cherry, plums and figs. What I like about this Merlot is that its not overtly "New World." It still has some earthy flare that balances out to a smooth finish. Even my roommate who is an avid white wine drinker enjoyed this wine - I think that says enough! My only suggestion, don't decant it and drink it right away. The more it sits and breathes, the faster its taste attributes change. I left mine sit for about 5 minutes and noticed the fruit was less powerful, and more mineralistic characteristics came about.

On a sidenote, between and December 31st, ONEHOPE will donate $1 to charity for every new fan on their Facebook fan page.

2009 "Naughty or Nice" List

Today kicks off the month of December, which means that Santa Clause and the Hanukkah Armadillo are on their way to pay each of us a little visit... well, at least all of us who made the "nice" list. And just as we "play nice in the sandbox," it's only be appropriate that we hold our vino to the same expectations.

Behold, WinoBee's 2009 "Naughty or Nice" list. Over the course of the month, we're going to do all the checking, re-checking and X-ing off of the best and worst stocking stuffers, wines for the party table, and gifts for the avid wino. Hopefully we'll help you uncover a few items to package up for friends and family along the way. After all, the experience of a great wine is even better when surrounded by great people.

Check back soon as we kick off the 2009 "Naughty or Nice" list!