Thursday, May 16, 2019

Winephabet Street V is for Valdiguié

Welcome to Winephabet Street Season 1 Episode 22 V is for Valdiguié.

Winephabet Street is a monthly series where Lori Budd of Draceana Wines and I work our way through the alphabet exploring wine and wine regions on letter at a time. The show is live on the third Monday at 8pm and is free, but you must register to attend. Put it on your calendar, pour yourself a glass of wine and hang out with us.
Before this I wasn’t really familiar with the Valdiguié grape. In fact I can say I really hadn’t heard of it, so researching it was fun for me. I found out it originated in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. For many years it was known as Napa Gamay. But in 1999 after genetic analysis the name was banned from being used on US wine labels.
The grape also is known as Gros Auxerrois. It’s a high yielding grape and the wine can be drunk young but it can also be made to age.

J. Lohr 2017 Wildflower Valdiguié

The wine pick for this episode was J. Lohr 2017 Wildflower Valdiguié from Monterey California.
I visited J. Lohr in Paso back in 2006 and had a wonderful experience. Jerry Lohr started J. Lohr in the 1970’s and was an early pioneer of the Monterey and Paso Robles region. He began with 280 acres planted in 1972 and today has more than 1400 acres of estate vineyards in the Arroyo Seco, Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey county where the emphasis is on Chardonnay, Riesling, Valdiguié and Pinot Noir. They have a total of 39 acres of Valdiguié. In Paso Robles they farm over 2700 acres dedicated to red varietals.
The J. Lohr 2017 Wildflower Valdiguié is dark in color but light and fruity on the palate. Flavors is full of field ripen raspberry with hint of blueberry and very fresh. Although I did not chill the wine, it would do well with a slight chill and be very nice during the hot summer months.

The Podcast & Webinar

Listen or watch the webinar and let me know your thoughts on Valdiguié.

The Webinar

The Podcast

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Summer Read: Wine For Dummies 7th Edition

When you see a book titled Wine for Dummies it might make you think, “should I pick this up?” “What will people think?” BUT, if you want an intro to wine book..yes this is one for you and nobody is a dummy when it comes to wine, there is so much to learn.

The 7th edition of Wine for Dummies by Ed McCarthy, Certified Wine Educator and Mary Ewing-Mulligan, Master of Wine. I actually had the pleasure of judging a wine competition with Mary. Mary Ewing-Mulligan is the first women in America to become a Masters of Wine and one of only 50 MW’s in the US. She operates the International Wine Center in New York City. Ed McCarthy is a wine writer and a Certified Wine Educator and a leading Champagne authority in the United States.

This the perfect book to get you started on your wine knowledge. It’s well laid out and thought out. There are icons in the margins to note tips, warnings, technical stuff, things to remember. It is jammed packed with information and covers everything in the wine world.

Anything technical is explained with-out fancy words so it’s easy to understand. They give you everyday tips and warnings you might not have thought about like don’t swirl the wine in your glass if your glass is more than half full.

If you think some wine labels are confusing, there is a chapter devoted to decoding the label. They also cover purchasing wine either via an online merchant, your local wine shop and in a restaurant. Following all this is the wine pairing section. A natural progression from reading the label, purchasing the wine to pairing it.

The book goes into great detail on all the different wine regions, new and old world and emerging. Really explains the different regions and some of the notable producers, you will feel like you were touring with the two of them. While traveling through the various wine regions of the world take note of the “real deal” icons. This is where they point out pricing and some of the producers to look for.

After you read this book and want to continue on with your wine reading there is a section on recommended books to seek out. As you’re reading and thinking of starting that wine cellar, well, there is an entire section devoted to buying and collecting wine.

You can never stop learning about wine. Even I learned quite a few things from reading this edition. While I am not an expert, I am not a dummy, Wine for Dummies has a lot of valuable information, easily explained so you can begin your wine journey, or learn more about wine.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Making Bordeaux Affordable - Légende Wines

When you hear the term Bordeaux you immediately think of expensive out of reach wine. At least I do. However, there are many wines from Bordeaux that are not out of reach and are from those famous producers that you hear about at those cocktail parties.

Right Bank - Left Bank

First let me explain Bordeaux. There is the right bank and the left bank and the difference..The right bank is going to have a Merlot based wine blend and the left bank will be Cabernet Sauvignon based. To the base there will be up to 5 varietals blended. The left bank is home to the five First Growth wines from the 1855 Bordeaux Classification. While these wines are way out of my price range, some may produce a reasonably priced Bordeaux wine under another label, a hidden gem.

Légende Collection

Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) is one of the producers producing reasonably priced Bordeaux under another label called Légende Collection. The Collection’s objective is to offer classic Bordeaux wines with immediate charm and to offer people a selection of wines from prestigious origins. Legende produces wines from five of the major Bordeaux appellations: Bordeaux, Bordeaux Blanc, Medoc, Saint-Emilion and Pauillac under the direction of Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) winemaker Diane Flamand. The grapes these wines are made of grew along side the grapes in the very expensive bottles. These grapes just didn’t make the first cut for the First Growth.

You too can drink a Lafite! Although Chateau Lafite Rothschild is out of your price range, the Légende Collection will be affordable, priced between $17.99 and $49.99. I received two samples of the Légende Collection for review and was quite impressed how easy drinking they were. I didn’t feel the need to decant and feel they will go with many seasonal dishes.

The Wines

2016 Légende Médoc is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon based with 40% Merlot and 50% of the final blend was aged in barrels. Layers of blackberries, plum and dark red fruit are soft and silky. Finishing notes of pepper and spice. SRP $24.99

2016 Légende Saint-Emilion is 85% Merlot with 15% Cabernet Franc. Sweet spice and vanilla notes escape the glass leading to a palate with nice blue and red fruit, with a hint of plum. Soft tannins with a nice soft spice that lingers on the finish. This wine was really easy drinking. SRP $36.99

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Wine - Lordship - Rolls Royce: What They Have In Common

What I find most interesting about wines is the back story. Having a friend who is deep into history and genealogy I love listening to her go on her long discussions on different families and where they originated and why they moved from place to place and what they were involved in that shaped our history. The history of Montagu Wines and Silver Ghost Cellars is fascinating especially if you like history and cars!

Montagu Wines & Silver Ghost Cellars History

Montagu Wines and Silver Ghost Cellars was created by Weston Eidson in 2012 as a tribute to his great-grandfather John. John was the second Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. John held a seat in Parliament from 1896 to 1905 when he succeeded his father and entered the House of Lords. He was the first person to drive an automobile to Parliament and gave the future Edward VII his first ride in a car. His great-uncle Edward the third Lord of Montagu was the founder of the National Motor Museum. Now you can see how Montagu Wines is a tribute to Weston’s heritage.
John was good friends with Charles Rolls and Henry Royce. Such good friends that John’s secretary and mistress Eleanor Thornton was the model for the Spirit of Ecstasy, the ornamental figurine that is on the hood of every Rolls-Royce. It’s a symbol of dreams, energy, grace and beauty. The figurine remains a tribute to a group of friends for their vision and what their timeless legacy stands for.
John’s favorite car - the 1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost.

The Brand and the Differences

Weston produces two brands and they are slightly different as I learned during our twitter chat. 
The Montagu wines are more about the vineyard and the terroir of each vineyard. They have focused on small production anywhere from 100 to 150 cases of single vineyard wines.
Silver Ghost is a multi-vineyard wine. Their focus is on great tasting Napa Cabernet that is more approachable.

The Wines

2017 Montagu Chardonnay, Ritchie Vineyard, Russian River Valley - Slightly buttery with lemon curd, pineapple, hints of wet rock minerality and toast.
2017 Montagu Pinot Noir, Bacigalupi Vineyard, Russian River Valley - Soft on the palate with red raspberry, plum, red cherry and a hint of cola.
2016 Montagu Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Napa Valley - Rich and bold with layers of red and black currant, plum, mulberries, boysenberry, mocha and well integrated tannins
2016 Silver Ghost, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Strong notes of cassis, hints of cigar and vanilla, red and black fruit and licorice spice on the finish.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

A Glimpse of Lodi

A few weeks ago I Snooth invited me to join a group of wine writers in Lodi California. I really didn’t know much about Lodi except some really good Zinfandels come from that region. We had a Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi but I was unable to attend a few years back. So being unfamiliar with the region I actually looked on a map to see exactly where it was located and found it is about 90 miles East of San Francisco and 40 miles South of Sacramento. So close to two major cities, yet overlooked. Here is a glimpse of what I learned in 4 short days that was packed with vineyard and winery visits.

About the Lodi AVA

Lodi AVA was created in 1986. However in 2006 they created 7 AVA’s for the wineries to be able to differentiate their wines based on the different terroir and climate. They are Cosumnes River, Alta Mesa, Sloughhouse, Borden Ranch, Jahant, Mokelumne River and Clements Hills. Many still use the broader Lodi AVA on their labels.
The region has over 110,000 acres of grape vines. A Mediterranean climate with warm days and cool evenings on the edge of the San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta allows for the cool delta breezes for a great climate for a diverse set of grapes to be grown.
There are 85 boutique wineries in the region and most of them are family owned. Production in the region is estimated at 743,000 tons of winegrapes comprising 18% of California’s total yield.

The Soil

The Lodi region has diverse soil, as I learned, east side versus west side. (another article to be written soon). This gives way to different tasting profiles depending on which side they are grown. Wines produced from the east side will have more acidity, be fresher and have a hint of tea. Wines produced from the west side will be fuller, rounder and lush with hints of earth.

The Grapes of Lodi

The first grape that comes to mind when you hear Lodi is Zinfandel, especially Old Vine Zin. That is just the tip of what is produced in this region. Yes you have your Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot, but you also have many German varieties, Portuguese, Italian and Southern Rhone varieties as well. In fact one of the wines - LangeTwins Nero d’Avola I fell in love with. We will explore more about this in the upcoming weeks.

Lodi Rules

Sounds like something you would hear at a pep-rally, but Lodi Rules was launched in 2005 as California’s first 3rd party-certified sustainable winegrowing certification program. It is one of the most rigorous and comprehensive programs in the country. There are about 25 wineries with the Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing seal on their bottle. The program protects the land, the workers, the community and produces higher quality wine that is reflective of the place and the people involved with it. This program is now world wide.

In the upcoming weeks we will explore the people and practices behind the wines of Lodi.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Celebrate Spring & Friendship with Volage Crémant de Loire Rosé

Spring is a time of re-birth and rejuvenation. A time to celebrate longer days and nicer weather, family and friendship. Although we should celebrate everyday, we to often think of sparkling wine for a special occasion. We should never hold back. That special occasion might never come. We need to celebrate the every day, the nice weather, the fresh air that when inhaled puts a smile on your face, the friendships both new and old.

About Volage
Volage is a very special sparkling wine. It’s a Crémant de Loire Rosé, a sparkling wine made with 100% old vine Cabernet Franc using the methode traditionelle. It is the creation of Francois-Xavier Chaillou who himself was an executive at high-end wine producers like Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Veuve Clicquot to name a few. His passion was for rare and prized Rosé Champagnes. His dream which he is successful at was to create a great quality affordable Sparkling Rosé wine outside the famous region of Champagne. He chose the Loire Valley for his project and produced it at Domaine du Landreau in Val du Layon.

Celebrating Friendship
On the label of Volage is a quote “quotidie celebrare” in Latin, meaning “celebrate daily,” and we must celebrate daily because we never know when life can change. I brought Volage with me to visit a special friend from childhood. We grew up in the same neighborhood and now live on different “Capes,” she, Cape Cod, me Cape May. We hadn’t seen each other in a few years and I knew I wanted to visit before I got tied up in the restaurant. One phone call and that is all it took for that life change and for me and Volage to make the road trip. She had no idea I was bringing bubbles and I had no idea she was craving pink bubbles and they are her favorite.

The Cabernet Franc for this Crémant was hand harvested and aged for 3 years on the lees. The aging is totally reflected in the wonderful taste and aromas of the wine. Beautiful light salmon in color the hint of breadiness on the nose follows through on the palate. Strawberry fields dance throught-out this wine with a hint of citrus and fresh minerality.

I served the Crémant with brunch of Créme Brulée French Toast. Yes, we Frenched out! The pairing was wonderful as is our friendship.

As my girlfriend said” All too often Sparkling Rosés don’t have a good flavor profile. This one is wonderful and a keeper.” The only thing wrong about this weekend was we didn’t have a second bottle to open!

Volage Crémant de Loire Rosé retails from $29.99. It’s fun, bright and refreshing. Don’t wait to begin to celebrate. Celebrate every day!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Winephabet Street U is for United Kingdom Sparkling Wine

Welcome to Winephabet Street Season 1 Episode 21 U is for United Kingdom Sparkling Wine. Winephabet Street is a monthly series where Lori Budd of Draceana Wines and I work our way through the alphabet exploring wine and wine regions one letter at a time. The show is live on the third Monday at 8pm and is free, but you must register to attend. Put it on your calendar, pour yourself a glass of wine and hang out with us.

This is my first taste of any kind of wine from the United Kingdom. History dates back that the British have been making sparkling wine for over 350 years, but the grapes weren’t always grown in the UK. In 1740 the Honourable Charles Hamilton planted a vineyard and many vineyards have been planted ever since.

Today the famous Champagne house of Taittinger planted vines in the UK at Domaine Eyremond in Chilham, Kent. They anticipate their first vintage of English sparkling wine to be released in 2023. We’ll have to keep an eye on the region.

The wine for this episode I receive as a gift from a friend who was living in England at the time. She brought it over a sparkling wine from Denbies in her suitcase. Denbies is a pretty big winery over there in the UK. They have 627 acres, 200 are woodlands and includes 10 estate houses and 265 acres are planted with grapes. The vineyards are situated in the Surrey area, North Downs in the town of Dorking with famous chalky soil.

Unfortunately, I had cellared it for a bit too long. Note to self: drink now don’t worry about the future.

Listen or watch the webinar and let me know if you spy any UK Sparkling Wine.

The Webinar

The Podcast