Super Bowl XLVI – Great wine for a Great Game!

SuperBowl XLVI is this weekend and I am here again to help with winning wines for the Big Game. If you are in the mood for full bodied red wine you should check out last years picks.

Many football friendly recipes (chicken wings, chili, etc) are spicy and high in acid. This year I am suggesting Riesling wines- they are lower in alcohol and will cut right through the spice, cleansing your palate and getting you ready for the next course.

Riesling grapes are best grown in cooler climates. Some of the best Riesling wines come from Germany and Alsace, France. There are also really good Rieslings produced in the Pacific Northwest, the Finger Lakes of New York as well as New Zealand.

High in acidity, Riesling wines are very food friendly. Most people think that Rieslings are sweet but many of my favorites, including the ones recommend here, are not.

The first wine, Donhoff is from Nahe, Germany. The best German Rieslings are very expensive  ($50 to several hundred dollars). This one is from a premier producer yet can be found on sale for under $20. Look for “trocken” (German for dry) if you don’t care for wines that have some sweetness.

Classic flavors of lime, slate and sweet petrol. Drink this one with your main course or with your heaviest appetizer.

http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/donhoff+trocken/1/usa

The next wine, Pacific Rim hails from Columbia Valley, Washington State. Not as complex as the Donhoff, this wine has lots of fresh fruit flavors like apricot and peach. A real bargain- under $10 and easy to  find in most wine stores. This wine goes well with Super Sunday brunch, Huevos Rancheros, fruit and BACON!

http://www.rieslingrules.com/

The third value Riesling, Kung Fu Girl, is also from Wahington State. Charles Smith is making some really great wines, with some funky labels that everyone is sure to remember.

Great fruit flavors, with some minerality, this is another all purpose wine that will pretty much go with whatever you decide to cook, or buy, for Super Bowl snacking. Try it with Seven Layer dip or Chicken Chili.

http://charlessmithwines.com/wines.php

Enjoy the game.

Please let me know if you enjoy these wines or have your own game day favorites.

“Top 100” Wine Values 2011

Every year at this time the wine world waits for the Wine Spectator to release their opinion of the top 100 Wines of the Year. Just because a publication rates and ranks them for you doesn’t guarantee you will like them.

However I think this list is a great place to search out value (under $20) wines/producers that you may not have tried.

Here is the short list of value wines from their list. There is something here for every wine type-why not try a few over the holidays?

#21 (94 Rating) 2009 Georges Duboeuf- Morgon Jean Descombes- $15. (Pictured here) If you like Beaujolais Nouveau you will love this wine! It is 100% Gamay grapes but has a little more body since it is a “higher” level wine. Tolerant Taster approved for the holidays.

Find it …

#23 (93 Rating) 2004 Bodegas Resalte de Peñafiel Ribera del Duero de Restia Crianza Selected Harvest- $15. I haven’t had this wine but I like the producer. If you like Spanish wine, this is a 2004 so it is probably drinking really well right now.  Why not give it a try?

#33 (92 Rating) 2008 Château Tanunda Shiraz Barossa Grand Barossa 2008- $18– Australian wine is still a great value. If you like Syrah it’s the same grape. This is on my list to try.

Find it …

#42 (90 Rating) 2008 Quinta de Cabriz Dão- $9. A full bodied Spicy red for under $10. Zinfandel or Cabernet alternative.

Find it …

#43 (90 Rating) Gruet Blanc de Noirs New Mexico NV (Non vintage)- $14. One of my favorite inexpensive USA sparkling wine producers. Made in New Mexico? Yes! And it is excellent, for the price. Tolerant Taster approved for the holidays.

Find it …

#59 (90 Rating) 2008 Bodegas Dinastía Vivanco Rioja Selección de Familia Crianza- $18. Spanish white that is an alternative to the common white wines.

Find it …

#60  (90 Rating) 2008 Allegrini Veronese Palazzo della Torre- $20. I know I said “under $20” but Allegrini makes great value Italian wines. Amarone lovers will enjoy this easy drinking red. Tolerant Taster approved for the holidays.

Find it …

#68 (90 Rating) 2009 Buehler Zinfandel Napa Valley- $18. Any wine with Napa Valley appellation listed on the label costs more (it’s true). Great value for Zin lovers.

Find it …

#70 (90 Rating) 2009 Morgan Chardonnay Monterey Metallico Un-Oaked-$20. The only Chardonnay on this short list. If you like a cleaner style chardonnay (crisp, fruity) this could be a great find.

Find it …

#71 (90 Rating) 2010 Bodegas Godeval Valdeorras Vina Godeval 2010-$18. I had to google this one… 100% Godello (native Spanish grape varietal). Sauvignon Blanc lovers should try this as it has similar flavor descriptions (grapefruit, minerality).

Find it …

#72 (90 Rating) 2009 Ravines Riesling Finger Lakes Dry-$16. Domestic, dry Riesling should go well with almost all foods including Chinese/thai takeout.

Find it …

#73 (90 Rating) 2007 Fratelli Oddero Barbera d’Alba-$20. Barbera is one of my favorite everyday red wines-due to it’s high acidity it goes really well with pizza, pasta. Chianti alternative. This is on my list to purchase.

Find it …

 As always, please let me know if you like these wines…

 

 

 

American Thanksgiving wines- “Red”, White, and Orange?

Everbody has their opinions about which are the “best” wines for the Thanksgiving table. I love Old World wines (Spain, Italy, Germany, France) but this is an American Holiday, so my choices for Thanksgiving are usually all-American.

All of this years interesting selections came from a recent visit to the North Fork of Long Island, New York.

THE “RED”
2010 Shinn Vineyards- Anomaly. White Pinot Noir? Yes, you can make a white wine from a red grape. Just like champagne the reason this wine is not red is because the juice is not fermented with the skins (which would give the wine a pink/red color).
http://www.lenndevours.com/2009/05/anthony-nappa-wines-2008-anomaly-.html

THE WHITE
2007 Lenz Winery- Gewürtztraminer- often referred to as Gewürz which means “spice”. It is a pink-red grape which produces a white wine that goes great with white meats, like turkey, as well as Asian food!
http://www.lenzwine.com/Home.htm

THE ORANGE
2010 Channing Daughters, Ramato- “Orange Wine”-made from Pinot Grigio or “Gray Pinot”- wines produced from this grape vary in color from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink. All grape juice is clear, but this particular wine is called “orange” due to the color it picks up from from being kept in contact with the skins.
https://www.channingdaughters.com/wine_order/index.php#2010%20Ramato

By the way, the “best” Thanksgiving wine is whatever is on the table with family, friends and food.

Happy Thanksgiving.

What adult loves a big pile of leaves…Cabernet Franc anyone?

This weekend I traveled to the North Fork Wine Trail but when I returned home I needed to clean up  the many scattered leaves that are a constant reminder that winter is soon approaching.

The smell of the leaves swirling in the fall wind took me back to the vineyards and tasting Cabernet Franc.

Cabernet Franc is native to Bordeaux, France. Generally it is used as a blending grape along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  But in some areas of the Right Bank of France (Pomeral and St. Emilion) along with the Loire Valley, they use Cabernet Franc to make a single varietal wine.

These wines have aromas of fall leaves, potting soil, wet bark as well as tea, and some other spices. If you have ever stuck your head into a damp pile of raked leaves you will recognize the scent.

Cabernet Franc is called by many names: Bouchy (in the Southwest of France), Bretton, in the Loire Valley, and Bouchet on the Right Bank of Bordeaux.

The grape has more recently found a home on Long Island where the conditions are well suited for growing single varietals that share the same woodsy components of the French wines.

Cabernet Franc actually crossed with Sauvignon Blanc, to create Cabernet Sauvignon, but it is lighter in tannin and color (pigment) than Cabernet Sauvignon. The lower tannin makes it is easier to drink on it’s own, yet it is also very food-friendly, easily pairing with a number of fall dishes like roasted butternut squash or pumpkin soup.

 

Some of my favorites producers of Cabernet Franc in New York :

Castello di Borghese

Shinn Vineyards

Paumanok

If you would like to try an example of a French Cab Franc, Bourgueil Nuits d`Ivresse Breton is an easy drinking excellent value from the Loire Valley. The name of the wine translates into “Drunken Nights”.

 

 

“Bottle Shock”- Drinking Wine with Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena and Heidi Barrett of La Sirena.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to take advantage of an opportunity to taste wine with 2 legends of Napa Valley, Bo and Heidi Barrett.

A little about them…

In 1976, Bo Barrett, working at Chateau Montelena with his father, submitted Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay to the “Judgment of Paris” competition. The Napa Valley wine was up against several top white French Burgundies – and Montelena won. The American victory stunned the wine world and put Napa on the wine map overnight. What’s even more impressive is that the wines were rated by French wine experts.

Click to read more about the Judgement of Paris, and what happened at the “rematch”.

Heidi Barrett, Bo’s wife, was THE wine maker responsible for Screaming Eagle, a California cult Cab, when the wines achieved 99 and 100 point ratings from Robert Parker and  started commanding in excess of $1,000 PER BOTTLE.

Click here to see current prices for Screaming Eagle.

At the event, Bo gave his take on biodynamics: “It’s bullshit.” He talked about how difficult it is Continue reading

Top Thanksgiving Wines from the USA

Because Thanksgiving is an American holiday I only included wines from the good ol’ USA. I have had all of these wines and I recommend them all. Click on the links to find them near you.

Here are my top 4, in order…

#4. Zinfandel

Zinfandel can be high in alcohol (a moderate amount is under 13%. Zin can be 15%+). No wonder many refer to it as “whiskey in a wine”. It can also be “jammy” and spicy, like fruit concentrate mixed with pepper. Any wine that is too high in alcohol will NOT go well with turkey. However, when Zinfandel is done well it is a cornucopia of flavors, many of which match the fruits and spice on the table. Although the grape is originally believed to be from Croatia it is considered by many in the wine world to be uniquely American– from the soil to the American oak barrels!

Tolerant Taster approved:
1. Dashe Cellars Dry Creek -A solid Zin that is widely available
2. Cline Cellars -for a real bargain.

<!–more–>

#3. Sparkling Wine

Hey it’s the holidays, let’s have some fun. Besides, sparkling wines are very food friendly and don’t have to be expensive. Most sparkling wines are made with Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir so they are grapes you already know and love. To add some additional color to your table try a Rose!

Tolerant Taster approved:
1. Gruet -produced in New Mexico born in France
2. Chandon -Brut (from Moet & Chandon) grown and produced in Yountville, California.

#2. Pinot Noir

Pinot is so appealing because it has finesse. It is low in tannin, so it is not bitter or drying and it contains a good amount of red fruits (strawberry, raspberry, cherry), spice or even cola flavors. With a good amount of acidity it is a very food friendly wine. It is probably the best choice if you are only serving one red wine on Thanksgiving.

Tolerant Taster approved:

1. A to Z Wineworks -a family winery in Dundee Oregon.
2. Adelsheim -another great pinot from Oregon,  (try to get past the dated looking label-they are changing it.) Had it last weekend with crabcakes!


#1. Riesling

One of the most food friendly wines (and still not given proper respect) Riesling should be the wine you introduce to your friends. Many still think of it as a sweet wine, which can be true, but it can also be bone dry. Though it contains more residual sugar than some wines it has acid to give it balance. You might not drink sugar water but I bet you love lemonade! Lower in alcohol because it grows best in cool climates, so drink up.

Tolerant Taster approved:
1. Chateau St. Michelle Eroica -A collaboration between the famous Dr. Loosen (of Germany) and Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington state.
2. Dr. Konstantin -from one the New York Finger Lakes pioneers,

Let me know what you are having on your table…

*all photos are from the producers websites.