March 30, 2011

Allegrini 2006 AmarONE

I once again lose my heart (and my tastebuds) to Amarone and naturally the Valpolicella region of Italy. In turn, I also tip my cap to another fabulous woman in wine, Miss Marilisa Allegrini, owner of Allegrini Wines, who's brings all of these entities together with her 2006 AmarONE.

Now, we've learned from past that Amarone is a special wine with a special production method. In turn, its a wine that you often get some pretty distinct attributes when sipping on. Amarone tends to be well-structured while offering complexity and elegance, and Allegrini AmarONE is nothing short of those characteristics.

Celebrating its 60th anniversary vintage this year, this particular wine is special in more ways than one. Its deep purple in both color and flavor and offers a rich bouquet of dried fruit and spice. For an old world style wine, I loved this wine's modernity - it was very polished but blended interesting aromas of dark chocolate and jammed wild berries. It greeted me on the palate in the same fashion, but adding a hint of cinnamon, nutmeg and raisin, and finished with a warm, velvety finish that left me craving more.

And while I didn't wait to uncork this special bottle, in some ways I wish I had because I know its only going to become more special with age. Perhaps that means I have an excuse to go buy some more? Not to say I wouldn't be tempted to uncork it right away again...

Cost: $79/bottle
Where to Buy:
Pairing Party: Marilisa has taken her love for food and wine to print by introducing a commemorative cookbook and pairing guide, featuring ten recipes from famed chefs around the world. Tastemakers from Brazil, India, Sweden, Austrailia, Russia, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Italy and the United States each created a special dish to pair with AmarONE. Each chef offered a creative and stylish recipe including Heart of Palm Fettucine Carbonara, Porcini Mushroom Soup and Grilled Veal Chops with Sweetbreads. I'm definitely trying out a plethora of these recipes!

March 29, 2011

2008 Kim Crawford Marlborough Pinot Noir

Last month I had the opportunity to be graced with the presence of Kim Crawford Wines during a lavish stint at New York City's Spring Fashion Week. It was then I learned that KC Wines capture the true spirit and flavor of New Zealand in each of their bottles... or in this particular case, their 2008 Marloborough Pinot Noir.

Known for their excellence in winemaking, I found this wine to be of simple style and elegance. The flavors were natural and the end result captivated my senses. At first, I was greeted with a bright red glass that appeared to have both purple and crimson hues within. The aroma provided enticing notes of dark cherries and ripe strawberries integrated with toasted oak. The flavor was vibrant and included rich fruit flavors underscored with nuances of sweet, yet smokey oak. Tannins were firm, which gave this wine excellent length.

Cost: $18/bottle
Where to Buy:
Pairing Party: A great option for light meats, like pork chops.

March 25, 2011

Paris: '08 Jacques d'Orville Bourgogne Passetoutgrains

The one thing I envy about European culture is the way they take time for themselves . They are never rushed, they rarely come across stressed, and they love to embrace themselves in each and every moment. This is the complete opposite of my lifestyle. I tend to thrive off impulse and choose to live in hustle n' bustle. But its not to say there are times I don't regret not taking a breather.

Vacations, like this one, quickly put life into perspective for me. And as I continue to immerse in the culture, I find myself relaxed, at peace and more appreciative of my surroundings. Part of that laid back-ness is taking the time to enjoy a meal, and in doing so enjoying a glass (or bottle) of wine at lunch. And so we did...

During a day tour into Montmarte (home of the infamous Moulin Rouge) my friends and I decided to take in a sit-down lunch and encapsulate in our surroundings. All three of us ordered the lunch special - steak frites, a Parisian must - and of course enraptured in a bottle of wine.

Now, while this 2008 Jacques d'Orville Bourgogne Passetoutgrains wasn't for my palate, it would be a great selection for fans of the new world (ironic considering French wines tend to be old world). It offered a very light ruby color, almost transparent, which captured great reflections within the glass. On the nose, light summer fruits and floral undertones - a strong essence of rose - and very identical attributes on the palate.

March 23, 2011

Paris: Champagne Rose by Nicolas

As evening #2 rolled around in Paris, the girls and I wanted to make sure it would be a night that would go down in history. As we got all dolled up in our wannabe Euro fashion and prepared for a trendy dinner at Hotel Costes, we decided that we needed to do a bit of pre-gaming for all of the festivities-to-come. And there's no better way to do so than with a classic French brut rose.

Before I left to study abroad back in 2005, my brother-in-law advised that when I got to France, I ensure that I try two things - 1664 Beer and Champagne Rose. Being the college beer drinker I was at the time, the first option sounded better than the latter. But I gave him my word, and perhaps this is when I started to truly appreciate what wines had to offer.

At a whopping 14 euro a glass, my newfound passion for wine stemmed from Champagne Rose, so naturally an affinity for it was birthed. It was only inevitable I repeat my experiences during this trip in Paris, and so I did, with a brut rose by Nicolas (and another glass I stupidly paid 21 euro for at Hotel Costes).

Nicolas did me right. His effervescence was greeted by my palate and the undying bubbles, which were present several minutes beyond the initial pour spoke to me. This wine had a beautiful apricot and salmon hue, with light spring fruits like light raspberry and apricot that blended nicely with floral notes of rose. It's a refreshing wine that has become a tradition in my heart, and I urge each of you to make an experience of your own with it. Roses are back, baby!!

March 22, 2011

Paris: 2009 Ortas Cotes du Rhone by Rasteau

Arriving in Paris following a 5pm overnight flight makes the first day of any journey one run on fumes. Thinking that I'm the seasoned pro from all my 2K5 study abroad experience, I trekked through the exhaustion and began frolicking the city of lights (though clearly not lit up) at 7am with only one hour of sleep in my energy tank.

The day was filled with much immersion in the French culture and even a bit of site seeing, and I must admit that despite my tired eyes, seeing the Eiffel Tower among a minimal audience that early in the morning was something serene.

But the true fun kicked off as we embarked on our first night out beginning with dinner at a quaint little family-run restaurant with amazing dishes and even better hospitality (whoever said the French hate us must be fibbing). You know you've uncovered something special when nearly ever local in the town is dining amongst you, or waiting just to get in (props to Miss @GlutenGossip for this recco!)

At dinner, we uncorked our first bottle of French wine, a 2009 Ortas Cotes du Rhone by Rasteau - a red wine blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah. It was impeccably well-balanced and complex, offering a very dark plum color with light ruby reflection atop. Very light viscosity as the legs quickly moved down the perimeter of the glass, and the aromas filled with plum and undertones of black licorice.

This wine, while bold in its own way, also offered very light tannins that paired nicely with all of our dishes - one lamb, one steak and one scallop. You get a combination of dark fruits, primarily plum, and some leather elements on the palate. And when held on the tongue for a prolonged period you could tell this wine had a stronger alcohol content than most. A very nice kick-off to what soon would become a trip filled with bevying!, if only they could make a wine that tastes like these profiteroles, I'd be in complete heaven. Yummers!

March 21, 2011

Meet me in Paris!

There are many exciting things about a trip to France - the tourism, the shopping, the dining, but most important, the wining. Having just returned from a 5-day stint in Paris, it's needless to say I may have overindulged in typical Parisian delicacies, and wine was just one of the bunch.

The visits to the frommageries were in bulk, the nutella and banana crepes were in plethora, the espresso breaks were in full, and the wine consumption was, well, self-explanatory.

It's a blessing to walk into nearly any store on the "Rue" and be greeted by an exuberant amount of wine options at your fingertips, all of which range in costs - the cheapest baffling me at a measly two euros (Two Buck Check meet your Western European match).

From decadent Champagne Rose to refreshing Cotes du Rhones, I used my trip as an excuse to expand my palate in the old world, and along the way, discovered some delicious wines worth sharing with you.

Check back all week for some of my favorite finds, but until then, live vicariously in my adventures! Winky, winky!

March 16, 2011

BeeHind the Vine: Sandra Alves of Heredade do Esporao

Women are becoming a defining force in the wine scene as a result of their passion, drive and diverse approaches - not just in winemaking, but in marketing, viticulture, sales and hospitality. And being a woman who adores wine, I love to see these responsibilities evolving in the hands of smart, talented and passionate women, like Sandra Alves of Heredade do Esporao.

Sandra is responsible for the vintifications, stablization, blending and quality control of delicious Esporao white wines, and she was kind enough to take some time with Lil' Miss WinoBee to provide great insight and perspective on all things wine and woman!

What has your experience been like as a woman in wine and what do you see the role evolving to?
As a woman in wine, I hope that it will soon be seen as normal to find women in all aspects of the wine business, from winemakers, through marketing to managing wine companies. I believe it is most important to have a professional approach, to study, be aware of new trends, taste wine at every opportunity, always with passion and determination, and this will lead to success.

Tell us a little bit about Esporao wine and why its so special to you.
Esporao is one of the most famous and successful wineries in Portugal. When I was an enology student, I studied the Esporao winery and its wines as a case study because it was a relatively new wine producer that had achieved success in a short period of time. Soon after I was a trainee winemaker with Esporao which was like a dream for me, and then I became a full time winemaker and was able to learn a lot not just about winemaking but about wine culture which is very strong at Esporao. I continue to learn every day and that is why Esporao is so special to me.

If you were stranded on a dessert island and only had one bottle of Esporao, which one would it be?
I would be most unhappy to be stranded on a desert island mostly if I could only have one bottle of wine! But with some nice warm weather and a sandy beach, I would be happy with a cool, fresh bottle our single varietal Verdelho 2010.

What is your favorite Esporao and food pairing?
Indeed I have more than one favourite Esporao and food pairing, but at the moment, I would go for Bacalhau and Esporao Res White 2009.

What is your advice to individuals looking to learn more about wine?
Taste as often as you can, trying to understand and appreciate the wine, its flavours, texture, balance and structure, always thinking about the wine's gastronomic potential in terms of an ideal food pairing.

March 9, 2011

Drinking in Paris

Lil' Miss WinoBee is away drinking all the wine in Paris...

... be back soon for more adventures!

March 2, 2011

Rocca Sveva Amarone

Amarone is a special wine - a rich Italian red typically made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes thats both full bodied and dry. Its the fourth best selling wine in Italy and this Rocca Sveva Amarone showcases why.

Offering a deep ruby, almost inky color, this wine is full of ripe red fruits on the nose and a blend of light balsamic, cherries and hazelnuts on the palate. Its a dry, but well-structured wine and full of tannins that would be great to to pair with red meats or strong cheeses.

Cost: $50/bottle
Where to Buy:

March 1, 2011

Cafe Culture Pinotage

I'm an advocate for trying new things, so when I was introduced to Pinotage, I said why not? A South African blend of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut grapes, these styles of wine typically evoke smokey, earth-like flavors.

Enter Cafe Culture Pinotage, a wine that exhibited these traits on the nose but offered something a bit more surprising on the palate - decadence! I've in turned deemed this "the coffee drinker's wine." It's Starbucks meets the vine. And while its not so traditional, its trendy and has a social spirit that is perfect for your next housewarming party. It has a style all its own which offers a mouthful of flavor with every sip - vibrant espresso and mocha undertones. The wine itself undergoes wood maturation which helps bring these attributes to life. The result, a medium bodied, balanced wine thats easy to drink.

Cost: $10/bottle
Pairing: Because of its decadence, pair with berry desserts of dark chocolate truffles.