Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Reclaiming Galilee

I recently attended an Israeli wine tasting and it’s the first time I’ve tasted wines from Israel. I went in with an open mind and wasn’t sure what to expect. In my mind I was thinking Israel = Kosher = Manischewitz = Mevushal Wine (Wine that has been flash pasteurized to allow non-Jews to handle it)

Well, what an eye opener. There are an increasingly large number of kosher wines that are non-mevushal. No flash pasteurization. How is the process different and it still Kosher? Yes. All the workers involved in producing non-mevushal wines need to be orthodox Jews. They do process a little different, like use Sturgeon proteins to fine the wine and no use of flour products that can sometimes be used in the making of the barrels.

At the tasting I had the privilege to interview Micha Vaadia, the winemaker of Galil Mountain Winery located in the Northwest corner of Israel on the border of Lebannon in the Upper Galilee mountain range. History has it that over 2,000 years ago, the mountain rant was a prime location for grape growing. Today Micha and his team are trying to reclaim it to the region it once was. Established in 2000 they have replanted 70% of the vineyards with vinifera. He wants to bring the terroir into the glass and reclaim the Galilee region as the winemaking region it once was.

Galil is a 87,000 case production where 40% of the grapes come from vineyards that are managed by them. The remaining 60% come from vineyards they have long term contracts with. In these contracts they pay based on the quality of the grapes. It make the vineyard owner take pride in what they are doing and producing.

Here are some of the wines that stood out from Galil Mountain Winery. I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up a bottle for the upcoming holidays.

2015 Galil Sauvignon Blanc Very nice flavors of fresh citrus, white grapefruit and pineapple.
2014 Galil Ela A blend of Syrah, Barbera and Petit Verdot. Dark and inky. You can smell a bit of the spice aroma coming from the glass. Lots of black fruit and a soft spice finish.
2014 Galil Yiron A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot. Lots of black fruit, nice finish with the Petit Verdot being dominant.

Grab a glass, sit back and listen to my interview with Micha Vaadia the head winemaker at Galil Mountain Winery.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Pairing Steak with Tempranillo

Many times when you grill your steak you think of opening up a Cabernet Sauvignon or similar wine but there are many other red wines that go quite well with steak, especially grilled steak in the summer. Tempranillo from Spain is one of them.

Recently we grilled a Delmonico steak and paired it with Abadia Retuerta Selección Especial 2013 from the Ribera del Duero region of Spain. This is the first time I’ve tasted wine from this producer. A little back story on Abadia Retuerta.

Abadia Retuerta first began producing wine in 1996. The location winery is on the former site of the 12th century Santa Maria de Retuerta Monastery in Sardón de Duero. In 2012 the Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine Hotel opened in the Monastery surrounded by the vineyards, so if you visit, you must stay there and experience the hospitality yourself.

The vines are grown in river basin that has accumulated thousands of years of wrosion, alluviums, sedimentation in the soil composition. This gives their terroir great diversity and texture. The soil of each of the 54 plots of vines each has a different composition with clay along the river, pebbles and sand on the slope, gravel in the lower part and limestone in the heights. Each variety planted extracts the best of the terroir it’s planted on giving it it’s unique qualities.

Located on a privileged strip of land called the Golden Mile of Castilla y Leon, Abadia Retuerta is a bit of a rebel when it comes to their designation. Instead of being grouped under the designation D.O. Ribera del Duero they decided to be classified under the VdlT Castilla y Leon-Sardon de Duero. (Vino de la Tierra de Castilla Leon) This allows them more freedom when it comes to choosing, varieties, blends and percentages.

That freedom is shown in the Abadia Retuerta Selección Especial 2013, a blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon,and 10% Syrah, Merlot and Petit Verdot. My first impression of the wine was it was tight and it needed to open up. Probably should have decanted it, but I guess I wasn’t thinking ahead at the time. I let it sit for a bit and open up. After it opened up boy was it good! Aromas of mocha, chocolate covered cherry and vanilla escaped from the glass. On the palate it was smooth and silky with some acidity. Elegant with flavors of sour cherry and blackberries. The soft tannins really complimented the steak! 

SRP $30 and a great value.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Looking Through Rosé Colored Glasses

In 2016 Bonterra won Wine Enthusiast’s American Winery of the Year so imagine how excited I was when the 2016 Bonterra Rosé showed up at my doorstep to taste for the June #winestudio program. Ya I was excited and honored. The folks at Bonterra wanted to make sure we looked hip and looked at everything through Rosé colored glasses they included a pair. I thought, this is going to be a fun tasting!

Let me tell you a little about Bonterra. They planted their first organic vineyard in 1987 and in 1993 they released their first vintage of organically farmed wine. This year, 2017 they are celebrating 30 years of organic farming. Congratulations to them! Their three vineyards (ranches) are certified Biodynamic by Demeter. What does that mean? It’s something that takes years to achieve. They must adhere to Demeter’s farm standard applying Biodynamic preparations and composts and increasing biodiversity. They have to be re-certified every year. To learn more about the Demeter certification visit http://www.demeter-usa.org/.

Their 2016 Mendocino County Rosé is a blend of 74% Grenache with some Sangiovese and Nebbiolo added. It’s a beautiful shade of pink. The wine has aromas of pineapple, rose, strawberry leading to a beautiful complex palate of orange, watermelon, peach, strawberries and a hint of lime. As the wine warms up some pomegranate flavor chimes in. This wine is dry, smooth and nicely balanced. It was a limited release and unfortunately is now sold out at the winery. However, if you see a bottle of this Rosé in the wine store, grab it. You’ll be glad you did!

I did pair the Rosé with homemade pesto. As you can see, I forgot to take a picture of the full plate and I guess I was hungry.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Winephabet Street B is for Beaujolais

Join Lori and me Monday evening at 8pm for the July edition of Winephabet Street.  This month we explore Beaujolais. What is Beaujolais?  We will explore
  • The general characteristics of Beaujolais
  • The history of the grape variety
  • Food and wine pairings
  • 5 quick facts about the variety
  • What Beaujolais we are drinking.
Grab a glass of wine, even better if it's a Beaujolais and join us. You can register here for the webinar.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Rose All Day with Domaines Paul Mas

The Languedoc region is home to a variety of soil types and variety of grapes which makes it a great region to produce Rose wine both still and sparkling. It is also home to Limoux which is known as the birthplace for sparkling wine in France dating back to 1554. Who to make better wines from this region but Jean-Claude Mas who created Domaine Paul Mas in 2000 after being left 35 hectares of vineyards from his father Paul Mas.

Jean-Claud is a forth generation grape grower and first generation winemaker. He believes luxury doesn’t alway equate to quality. He says “We are all about quality, which is, by its nature luxurious.” His wines are the result of his mission to inspire real emotions.

Cote Mas Rose Aurore 2016 is a Rose blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 20% Syrah. The wine had a very right floral aromas coming from the glass along with honeysuckle and liliac. In the glass were flavors of red raspberry, apricot, peach, pomello. This was a really nice wine and my 22 year old daughter really like it as well. Always nice when I can share the wine with her and get her opinion. I love the label on this wine and the Arrogant Frog! This wine comes in liter bottle so you are getting more and the price SRP is $10.99. A definite wine to bring to the summer BBQ.

Arrogant Frog Rose 2016. I love the name of this wine, the label and what’s in the bottle. This is 100% Syrah. Jean Claude Mas says “Arrogant Frog is a play on words, but still seriously good wine for a not-serious price.” Floral notes with strawberry lead the way to cherry, strawberry some minerality where the wine dances on the palate and a bit of spice that pops up on the finish and then disappears. Kind of what an arrogant frog would do. The SRP is $9.99. I paired this with a spicy hot dog.  What you have to do when your home alone and need to go grocery shopping.

Cote Mas Cremant de Limoux Rose NV this is a great value sparkling wine made with 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc and 10% Pinot Noir. Nice soft mouth feel leads to strawberries, raspberries hint of citrus and stone fruit. I took this to the beach and had a picnic with shrimp burrito. Nice pairing! SRP $15.99

I wouldn’t hesitate picking up any of these wines. They are affordable, delicious and food friendly.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Late Afternoon Boat Ride with Arinzano

It’s been quite a crazy spring and beginning of summer for us. We put our boat in the water back in April where it’s been sitting pretty, and just that, we’ve been so busy, in and out of town that we haven’t taken it out. The first weekend back we took the boat out for a late afternoon boat ride to end the weekend and since I missed a week of #winestudio where they featured Arinzano Chardonnay and Rosé I grabbed a bottle of the Chardonnay to take with us. Confession, this is the first time we took a bottle of wine out on the boat with us. Maybe it’s because we usually go out and fish, but this Sunday, we went out to burn some gas, anchor and just enjoy the late afternoon on the bay.

The 2014 Hacienda de Arinzano White is 100% Chardonnay and perfect pairing for the late afternoon boat ride. We tooled around and anchored in the Delaware Bay off Sunset Beach. Good thing for the Yeti cooler because it kept the wine nice and chilled. We opened the bottle and just sat there and relaxed. Flavors of melon, apple and a mix of citrus, lemon and pineapple with a touch of oak filled the glass. I think it’s the first time I’ve just relaxed in a long time, marveling at the water line and horizon with the glass of Chardonnay in hand...Thinking damn, I’m lucky.

Earlier on in the week I had the 2016 Hacienda de Arinzano Rosé sitting on my back deck. I know Rosé wines come in all shades of pink, but this Rosé is really dark. One might at first think it’s a sweet Rosé but it is a dry wine. Made with 100% Tempranillo the wine had skin contact for 6 to 8 hours and was harvested at full ripeness which contributes to its dark pink color. The wine had nice acidity with flavors of strawberry shortcake, sweet cherry and watermelon. This wine paired very well with my BLT with onion. Or has my friend Sharon informed me it’s a BOLT.

Both these wines are reasonably priced at $19.99. I wouldn’t hesitate to serve them this summer or anytime during the year.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Give Me Life Liberty Friendship and Bubbles

Life, liberty, friendship and bubbles are how we kicked off the 4th of July weekend. Regardless of your political thoughts we live in a great country and I hope you surround yourself with great friends like I do. Life is to short so we need to take any excuse and turn it into a celebration and include a good bottle of bubbles.

Charles Heidsieck born in 1822 grew up in the vineyards and surrounded by the love of his family. Taking control of his destiny, at the age of 29 he founded his Champagne house, Champagne
Charles Heidsieck. Not purchasing land for the vineyards he became a negotiant and purchased the grapes from the farmers that grew them best. Charles concentrated on doing what he does best, producing and aging wine. He purchased forty-seven Chalk cellars dating back to the 11th century. It is here to this day that the wine is aged from 3 to 15 years. On the bottles you can find the dates of both the cellaring and disgorgement.

The year was 1852 that Charles to introduce Champagne to America. This past weekend we celebrated with the Brut Reserve which comes in a uniquely shaped bottle. It has a large base and a narrow neck. This unique shape increases the volume of wine that has contact with the lees during aging. Therefore it enhances the aromatic range and complexity of the Brut Reserve.

The Brut Reserve is a blend of Chardonnay from Cote des Blancs, Pinot Noir from Montagne de Reims and Pinot Meunier from the Marne Valley all in equal measure. Forty percent of the reserve wines used in this blend are on the average age of 10 years old.

The Champagne Brut Reserve had beautiful fine of bubbles that created a nice elegant froth in the glass. Aromas of baked bread, green apple and hint of almond escaped from the glass. The effervescence dances on your palate as we toasted to friendship. Flavors of green apple, pear, a hint lemon with a delicate velvet texture embrace your mouth. A very romantic sexy bottle of bubbles worth sharing and celebrating with friends or a loved one. Paired great with the crab cakes! SRP $69