Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Winephabet Street Episode 18 - R is for Roussanne

Welcome to Winephabet Street Season 1 Episode 18 R is for Roussanne. 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.

In December we got to know the Roussanne grape. A grape normally used for blending and is also good on its own. The term Roussanne stems from the French word for reddish brown which is Roux as when Roussanne goes through verasion the grape turns a reddish brown color.

My husband actually picked out the wine for me for this episode because I couldn’t find a Roussanne in South Jersey where we now reside. Since he was up in the Hudson Valley I asked him to go into the liquor store there and find me one. The wine, Cuvee Laure by Domaine Rabasse Charavin is a blend of 40% Roussanne and 60% Clairette Blanc.This is one of the important states of the southern Rhone run by Corinne Couturier and her daughter Laure.

Sit back with a glass of wine (perhaps a Roussane) and join us as we explore the Roussane. We’ll cover the history, the wine and the food that pairs well with it. Watch the webinar or listen to the podcast.

You can also sign up for January's webinar here or by visiting   https://events.genndi.com/channel/Sangiovese Please note due to my traveling the webinar will take place Monday, January 28th at 8pm.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Elevate Your Game Day Experience with the New York Jets

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a nice holiday.

I’m still catching up on last year and need to tell you about my New York Jets experience. Football? You may not know this but I am a huge football fan. I grew up at Army football games, and thanks to some nice gentleman sitting next to me who explained the entire game to me, I never looked back. I have to come clean before we talk about the New York Jets. I’m a Buffalo Bills fan (happened after spending 4 years of college in Buffalo.) So when I got invited to experience an NFL football game with the Jets and they were playing the Bills, well, I jumped on it. I am honored that the New York Jets invited me and shared their Green Room experience. Going to a football game will never be the same.

It all began with the invitation and a bottle of Jets Uncorked wine, two tickets to the game and a parking pass. I was so excited first for being invited and that they were playing the Bills and I didn’t have to go to Buffalo and freeze my you know what off. We couldn’t of asked for a better game day in November.

The Game Day Experience

Our day began on the field watching both teams practice. This was a first for me to experience this. What I loved best was watching the players take a moment from their warm-up and interact, take pictures and give autographs with the kids that were watching. There were some old-timers (for lack of a better word) like Nick Mangold that were wandering around the field and taking photo ops with everyone, us included. After the field we walked back to the locker room and got to watch as the players left the locker room and ran onto the field. What excitement!

The Green Room

That was just the beginning. Now we went to the Green Room an experience that has spoiled me. I don’t know if I can ever go back and sit in the nose bleed section again. The Green Room is a large lounge complete with full bar and of course the Jets Uncorked Championship Reserve and it opens out to a section of the stadium that has tables you can sit at outside and seats as well on the 30 yard line. The food and the beverages are all included in the cost of you ticket. Does an every day person like myself purchase a ticket to the Green Room. Not really, many of the tickets here are corporate or group event related (like 50th birthday etc.) There is a nice spread of food in the back of the room. Nice touches and thought go into it, like including Beef on Weck which is a Buffalo sandwich and a nice assortment of desserts.

The Jets wanted to make sure we experienced the new food that is available to everyone. I was so impressed as it’s not your typical ball game food I remember. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a professional ball game of any kind. We had Street Tacos, Korean BBQ Beef Sandwich, a sandwich called The Fat Rooster and dessert which was Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Yeah, that’s a lot of food and it was good! Most impressing was the Fat Rooster,  breaded chicken, pickles, coleslaw and a special sauce on a roll. It was delicious!

The Wine

I can’t forget about the wine. The Jets Uncorked Championship Reserve wine isn’t just a bottle of red wine. It was created by Joe Wagner (Caymus family and founder of Copper Cane Wine & Provisions) to honor the 50th Anniversary of the Jets 16-7 victory in Super Bowl III. The wine is a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Syrah with aromas of cherry, red fruit, tobacco, and baking spices. Soft but firm tannins, the wine drinks nicely.

Thank You

Attending a football game will never be the same for me. Thank you to the Jets organization and Carlo Devito for making this day possible. I know I am the only one who went home happy as the Bills won, but the experience totally change my thoughts of game day. I hope I have the opportunity to experience an NFL game like that again, and do hope you do too.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Winephabet Street Episode 17 Q is for Quarts de Chaume

Welcome to Winephabet Street Season 1 Episode 17 Q is for Quarts de Chaume. 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.

In October we explored the Quarts de Chaume region of the Loire Valley. This is a special region that produces sweet wines made from Chenin Blanc. Quarts de Chaume was awarded the first Grand Cru title in the Loire Valley.

The wine I chose for this episode was Barton & Guestier 2016 Vouvray (Chenin Blanc). I tried to stick with the grape knowing that I wouldn’t be able to find a true wine from the Quarts de Chaume region. They are very hard to find - this sweet Chenin Blanc.

Sit back with a glass of wine and join us as we explore the Quarts de Chaume region of the Loire Valley. We’ll cover the history, the wine and the food that pairs well with it. Watch the webinar or listen to the podcast.

Watch the Webinar

Listen to the Podcast

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Celebrating Sisters with Sisters Wine

Tis the season for celebration and being with friends and family. To celebrate each other, our relationships and look to a new year.

Sisters come in all forms. You have your biological sister (yes I have one, Donna) and you have your sisters from a different mother. They are your girlfriends that are there for you, that you share your intimate thoughts, ones that empower and support you. Sisters are there for you even if you don’t speak often because of our busy lives, but you pick up just like it was yesterday when you have the time to catch up.

The Sisters wine is a wine you should share with your sisters. It’s about celebrating all what you achieve and the girlfriends that support you and are there for you. The Sisters wine is for women like me and you that do extraordinary things every day. You might not think you are doing anything extraordinary, but you are trust me! I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of my sisters, my friends who have been by my side, encouraging me, supporting me and being there for me.

Sisters Wine is a great wine to celebrate the sisters in your life this holiday season. Based in New Zealand all of the grapes for the wine are sourced from the Marlborough region.

The Sisters 2017 Sauvignon Blanc SRP $15.99 - This is a great Sauvignon Blanc to take on a picnic to the beach. Just like I did with my “sister” Jen. We both work hard all day and there is nothing like a walk down the street to the bay for a picnic and watch the sunset. The wine had beautiful notes of passion fruit, lemon grass and displayed flavors of lemongrass, citrus, orange rind with a hint of sweetness. The wine went fabulous with our shrimp and orzo salad and the sunset.

The Sisters Pinot Rose 2017 SRP $15.99 - $18.99 - This Rose I shared with my sister Donna. Small price to pay for a bed for a few nights. Spending quality time with her over a bottle of wine is precious sister time. Red raspberry and strawberry, soft on the palate with a slight hint of sweetness.

Side note: I really love the labels of this wine! It really expresses everything that us “sisters” go through. Work hard and play hard and celebrate with Sisters.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Why You Need to Drink Garnacha from Cariñena

Garnacha also called Grenacha is the oldest and most widely planted red grape variety in the world. We know it as a wine from Spain, but it’s also grown in France, California and Australia. Garnacha is one of the world’s most planted grape and very undervalued. Garnacha is also drought-resistant so in the heat of the summer the roots dig deep through the layers of rock, mineral and earth that is expressed in the wine.

Understanding Garnacha from Cariñena
The birthplace of Garnacha is the Cariñena region of Spain. Cariñena DOC is located halfway between Barcelona and Madrid in the Ebro Valley. The area varies in elevation from 1,300 feet in the lower vineyards up to high altitude vineyards at 2,600 feet. You will find four main soil types in this region:

  • Cascajo - brownish red limestone soil, most common in the region
  • Royale - reddish brown, iron rich, quartzite and slate based soil, second common in the region
  • Tierra Fuerte Arcillosa - brown soil that is a mixture of stone, clay and limestone, found on the terrace floor
  • Calar - made up of marl and sandstone

The climate in the area has fluctuations in temperature called a diurnal shift which allows for slow ripening of the grapes, maintaining their acidity and softens the tannins. They have cold winters and hot summers with the Cierzo wind that sweeps in from the north keeping the vines cool and dry and fungal diseases at bay reducing the need for treatments.
There are approximately 1,540 growers that banded together to form 3 high-quality cooperatives. Garnacha grapes are large fruit with thin skins, high sugars, low acidity, soft tannins with red fruit that dominates and develops leathery notes with age. The older vines tend to produce smaller fruit and the juice tends to be a bit darker.

Cariñena Factoid
Not only is Cariñena the birthplace of Garnacha it is the source of more than a fourth of the world’s black truffles.

Why Drink Garnacha from Cariñena
There are many reasons why to drink Garnacha from Cariñena but here are my top 3:

  1. Affordability - Many wines from this region are prices from $9.99 - $25
  2. Versatile - Pairs with many foods. The wine is approachable young and ages well too.
  3. Taste - Low acidity and soft tannins, just great for everyday.

Tasting Experience
Though the educational program #Winestudio I participate in I was able to taste 6 Garnacha wines from Cariñena. Young vines, old vines and representation from all the growing areas in Cariñena.

2017 El Circo Acrobata SRP $9.99 - This particular brand names each wine for a performer. Acrobata is 100% Garnacha with aromas of raspberry, strawberry and some baking spices. The palate is medium bodied with flavors of black raspberry, ripe red berry, clove and white pepper. I paired this with 3 year old Manchego and the acid in the wine made the cheese a creamy.

2016 Monasterio de las Vinas Old Vine Garnacha SRP $17.99 - Chilean born winemaker Marcelo Morales selects small parcels of 40+ year old vines from the many diverse terriors in Grand Vinos vineyards for this wine. Escaping from the glass are aromas of blackberry and earth notes leading to a balanced palate with dark berry, cocoa and black pepper. This was paired with 6 month old Manchego cheese and it softened out the acidity in the wine.

2017 Particular Garnacha SRP $8.99 - 100% Garnacha with lots of red berry aromas which lead to a red fruit (cherry, raspberry) palate and a hint of white pepper. This is a young Garnacha that did not see any oak aging hence the fruit forwardness of the wine.

2015 Particular Garnacha Old Vines SRP $15 - Aged in oak for 14 months, there is a little bit of maturity in this wine. Lots of red berry notes and a hit of licorice as the wine opens.

2012 Vinas Viejas de Paniza SRP $20 - Grapes for this wine came from old vines up to 100 years old in slate soil 2,700 feet above sea level. The wine was aged in 6 months in French and American oak barrels. What a nice mature Garnacha. Aromas of cedar, vanillan, toffee, red fruit lead to a complex palate of red and black fruit. As the wine opens red raspberry becomes dominate with hints of chocolate. Paired very well with sausage and peppers.
2014 Artigazo Edicion Limitada SRP $25 - This is a blend of 40% Garnacha 30% Syrah and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from 40 year old vines. Complex aromas of red fruit, black berry, oak and eucalyptus lead to a complex palate of mixed red and black fruit, soft and enjoyable. This also paired very well with the sausage and peppers.

In conclusion, Garnacha from Cariñena is a wine that can be your go to wine for any event or meal. Enjoy it young or aged, either way you can’t go wrong.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

2018 Holiday Gift Suggestions

It’s that time of year when we are all looking for the perfect or different gift for a friend, love one, Elfster or Secret Santa. While I don’t have all the answers as I struggle too, here are some suggestions to help you along.

For the Cocktail Lover: We all love fancy cocktails with sugar or salt around the rim. When you order that cocktail at the bar and it’s put in front of you, you have that big smile on your face and comment on the sugar or salt around the rim. Well Little Waisted has an entire line of glitzy and salt rims for your glass to make them real pretty and tasty too. I used the Pink Lady which has the flavors of luscious pink grapefruit and tangerine. I lined the rim in lime before I dipped the glass. It really made the presentation of the cocktail pop.

For the Cheesecake Lover: I love a good cheesecake and The Cheesecake Bible by George Geary (second edition) gives you sweet and savory recipes from breakfast to appetizers to desserts. George goes into details on how to make the perfect cheesecakes (you have to plan ahead for the ingredients to sit on the counter to reach room temperature) and even the cracker crumb crusts from scratch. He gives you good tips on cooking, storage and where to find ingredients. His recipes are easy to follow with great instructions to create a fail-safe cheesecake. I made a Herbed Gorgonzola Cheesecake for a recent Golden Bordeaux tasting. It was easy and delish.

Wine Clubs: There are two wine club suggestions this year depending on the person you are buying for. Gifting a wine club is a gift that keeps on giving. Remember “ “membership has its privileges.”

  • Acker Wines - Acker Merrall & Condit have been in business since 1820 on the Upper West Side of New York City. There have four different wine clubs to choose from depending on the person’s interest in wine and your budget. You can do monthly and quarterly shipments. Acker Wines prides themselves on their knowledge and they will receive not only information on the wine, but about the wine club curator and a recipe to pair with the wine.
  • Woman Owned Wineries - Woman Owned Wineries wine club celebrates the female wine entrepreneurs. Many people don’t realize who is behind the juice in the bottle. There are many women working in the wine vineyard, cellar and tasting rooms. Wine club shipments are from female wine entrepreneurs sharing their story with you. A gift of WOW Wine Club supports promoting female wine entrepreneurs.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Introduction to Golden Bordeaux Wines

My first taste of Golden Bordeaux was with Sauternes two years ago when I walked into a Bordeaux tasting in New York City. Everyone was gathered at the many Bordeaux tables and in the back of the room was an area with 5 different Sauternes for tasting and nobody in sight. All I knew was that Sauternes was sweet, there was no crowd at the table and I needed to go check it out before the crowds gathered there. I was very surprised to find a nice, yes sweet, balanced, but not syrupy wine. In fact the few I tasted were so balanced with the sweetness and acidity I later purchased 3 bottles.

Last month I was thrilled that I got asked to participate in a Snooth tasting all about Golden Bordeaux which gave me a better understanding of the region and the sweet white wines that are produced there. Normally you would think to pair these wines with creme brulee or apple pie, but they wanted us to pair them with savory foods and sent us some ingredients to work with. Below you will find what I made along with the wines we tasted.

A few things to note, if you thought Sauternes is out of your price range, it’s not. The proper glass to serve the wine in is a regular white wine glass.

What is Golden Bordeaux
Golden Bordeaux wines are a sweet wine produced in the Bordeaux region of France. There are three main grapes used in the production of this wine: Sémillon which has a thin skin so it’s accessible to noble rot and is also an grape that ages well; Sauvignon Blanc give the wine the crisp acidity; and Muscadelle that adds body to the wine. The grapes are harvested late when when botrytis sets in also known as noble rot. This increases the concentration of sugars in the grape thus creating a sweet wine. Golden Bordeaux is produced in eight appellations located close to the Garonne and Ciron rivers which creates a nice mist in the mornings followed by sunny afternoons allowing the botrytis to form. Along with concentrating the sweetness of the grapes, noble rot increases the complexity, flavor and aroma in the wine.


Barsac - Located twenty-five miles south of Bordeaux this appellation can use their unique name Barsac or Sauternes for their sweet wine. Grapes can only be picked when their must weight reaches 2221 grams per liter. The three grape varieties Muscadelle, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon grow in limestone soil and produce a wine with 3 - 15 years aging potential. Wines produced can exhibit notes of honeysuckle, orange blossom, white peach, almond, mango and pineapple

Cadilac- Just north of Loupiac across the Garonne river from Cérons you will find the grapes growin in gravelly and chalky soil. The wines produced here are medium-sweet to sweet and the grapes can only be picked when their mus reaches 255 g/L which gives you high levels of residual sugars and at least an alcohol content of 12%. You will find notes of candied and roasted stone fruit and wine will taste elegant and smooth.

Cérons - The name comes from the river Ciron whcih is a tributary of the Garonne. The grapes grown in this appellation is Sémillon in grainy sand on compact limestone. The sweet wines produced here ferment a year to a year and a half in barrels or vats. The wines are full bodied, with notes of citrus and tropical fruit.

Côtes de Bordeaux - Located on the Right Bank it is a union of four regions: Côtes de Blaye, Côtes de Castillon, Côotes de Francs and Côtes de Cadillac. You’ll find an elegant wine with citrus notes.

Graves Supérieures - Produced from a combination of the standard three Bordeaux white grapes grown in soil composition of gravel and sand with clay and limestone. The must weight requirement is 221 grams per liter. The wine is soft and elegant with notes of citrus and stone fruit. It has the aging potential of 2 to 5 years.

Loupiac - Located across the Garonne river from Sauternes and Barsac, the laws in this appellation are strict and planting density must be at least 2024 plants per acre. The grapes can be picked when their mus weight is 245 grams per liter for Semillon and 229 grams per liter for Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle.

Sauternes - The famous name that you think of when you think of Golden Bordeaux. All three grape varieties grow here in soil that is composed of gravel and pebbles on limestone. The wines have serious aging potential from 5 to 50 years. It’s full bodied with notes of tropical fruit, beeswax, stone fruit and as it ages you will find hints of almond and hazelnut.

Sainte-Croix-du-Mont - Sémillon is the main grape grown here in clay and limestone soil. Aging potential for these wines range from 3 to 10 years. You will find notes of fig, honeysuckle, apricot and peach with a nice long finish.

The Wines

2016 Chateau Manos SRP $12.99 - This wine is produced in the Cadillac appellation. The blend is 98% Sémillon, 1% Sauvignon Blanc and 1% Muscadelle. Fresh with notes of tropical fruit, orange marmalade,pineapple and a hint of honey. Can be aged for 10 years.
2016 Chateau Loupiac-Gaudiet $17 - This wine is from the Loupiac AOC and is a bled of 90% Sémillon and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. Very balanced with notes of tropical fruit, apricot, nectarine and passion fruit. This wine can age 2 to 30 years and get richer as it ages.
2015 Chateau La Rame SRP $22 - Produced from the Sainte Croix-du-Mont appellation this is 100% Sémillon. The wine is aged in stainless steel and 30% of it is in oak barrels. Notes of honey, peach and ripe apricot, hint of minerality and fresh.
2014 Chateau du Cros SRP $12 - Produced in the Loupiac AOC this is a blend of 90% Sémillon, 5% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Muscadelle. Slightly darker, like golden butterscotch due to aging. There was some savory notes of dried mushrooms, nice acidity, floral notes with hint of almond and citrus fruits.
2011 Chateau Dauphine-Rondillon SRP $28 - Produced in the Loupiac AOC this is a blend of 70% Sémillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc. Hints of mushrooms and citrus notes on the nose, nice balance with stone fruit, apricot and butterscotch on the finish.
2016 Chateau Lapinesse SRP $19.99 - Produced in Sauternes this is 100% Sémillon. This wine had a nice richness to it. Notes of lemon zest, peach, pear, it’s well balanced with some mineral notes.
2015 Chateau Filhot SRP $30 - Produced in Sauternes this is a blend of 60% Sémillon, 36% Sauvignon Blanc and 4% Muscadelle. Very nice fruity aromas with mandarin orange, citrus and a hint of spice the finish.
2006 Casatelnau de Suduiraut $90 - Produced in Sauternes this wine is 9% Sémillon. This wine is deep golden in color from aging. Notes of peach and apricots and hints of vanilla and spice.

The Pairings
For the pairings we were sent a package containing some interesting ingredients.
  • Sweet Potato Crackers
  • Beet Crackers
  • Sriracha Cashews
  • Jalapeno Chicken Chips
  • gusto by Olli Calabrese Spicy Salami
  • Jack Link Sweet & Hot Jerky

I felt like I was on a cooking show and had to produce a meal in 30 minutes with these ingredients. I put some thought into it and what I could do with these ingredients and make a nice savory meal to go with the tasting.

I had just received the Second Edition of The Cheese Cake Bible by George Geary and there was a savory cheesecake section in the back of the book. I decided to try the Herbed Gorgonzola Cheesecake using the Beet Crackers as the crust. Worked great!

Next was the Calabrese Spicy Salami and I rolled that with goat cheese and asparagus and baked it. I made a chicken salad to go with the Jalapeno Chicken Chips and I crushed up the Sweet Potato Crackers and cashews and used it as a crust for the pan seared salmon.

The only item I had a hard time with was the beef jerky. I’m not a jerky kind of girl but found a recipe for beef jerky fried rice.

Here are highlights from the pairings.

2006 Casatelnau de Suduiraut paired well with the salami but not the salmon.
2015 Chateau Filhot paired well with both the Herbed Gorgonzola Cheesecake and chicken salad with the Chicken Jalapeno Chips.
2016 Chateau Manos did not pair well with the salami but went well with the chicken salad.
2016 Chateau Loupiac-Gaudiet there was an OMG factor with this wine and the cheesecake.
2016 Chateau Lapinesse this complimented the spinach and salmon dish.
2015 Chateau La Rame paired well with the chickenand brought out hte spice in the chicken jalapeno chip and had a long finish.

Don’t think of Sweet Bordeaux Wines as something to pair with dessert, think of it as a pairing for entire dinner. This tasting also opened my eyes to the sweet wines from this region and how enjoyable they are.