Wine and Olive Oil

I’ve been on a bit of a writing ‘vacation’ since the fourth of July weekend, trying to sort out what I can continue to do in my increasingly limited spare time. I’ve enrolled in a wine marketing course this fall and I am being considered for a print writing opportunity, so I am at a point in my career where I need to make some decisions regarding my writing. I began an editorial calendar to figure out what I can do when so that I am able to enjoy free time as well. However, these past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to taste some interesting wines and an olive oil that I wanted to share with you. Therefore, voilà, an unexpected break from my self-imposed hiatus. These wines and olive oil are worth tasting. From my palate to yours, enjoy!

2013 Antigal Uno Malbec, Mendoza
2013 Antigal Uno Malbec, Mendoza

2013 Antigal Winery & Estates Uno Malbec, Mendoza, $18 (media sample)
What I most love about wine is that one sip can evoke time, place, people, and emotions. The 2015 Antigal Winery & Estates UNO Malbec takes me back three years to Mendoza, Argentina, the trip of a lifetime with a wonderful group of travel and writing professionals like me. Fermented and aged 12 months in French and American oak and sourced from higher-elevation, estate vineyards in Uco Valley, Tupungato, this malbec is not at all shy, with aromas of violets, cedar, blackberries, and spice. This dark ruby red, medium-bodied delight – with its interplay of vanilla, pepper, and dark fruits – is calling for grilled meat, roasted vegetables, and hearty potatoes. In this moment, my mind recalls an Argentine asado, whose intoxicating flavors of wine and food awaken memories of horseback riding in the Andes and late-night laughter in the streets of downtown Mendoza.

2014 Pike Road Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
2014 Pike Road Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley

2014 Pike Road Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $19 (media sample)
This wine from Pike Road, the sister winery of Elk Cove, defies its $19 price tag by offering a fantastic example of Oregon pinot noir. Sourced from both estate and partner vineyards in the Williamette Valley, the grapes are hand harvested and sorted, then the juice is fermented in open stainless steel tanks and barrel aged 10 months in French oak. The resulting wine is brambly, dusty, earthy, and herbal. The night I tasted it, I took the winery’s advice on the label and paired it with salmon for a lovely dinner at home.

2013 DaVero Sangiovese, Hawk Mountain Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County
2013 DaVero Sangiovese, Hawk Mountain Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County

2013 DaVero Estate Sangiovese, Hawk Mountain Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, $75
One of my favorite wines of a recent visit to DaVero, the estate sangiovese is biodynamically farmed at their three-acre Hawk Mountain Vineyard, wild yeast fermented, then aged in all neutral oak. This wine possesses contrasting floral and leathery aromatics. On the palate, black cherry, blackcurrant, and acid abound. The same sangiovese is used in their 2013 Estate Altobasso blend of sangiovese (60%) and barbera (40%), which was the first DaVero wine to captive my palate and my heart a year ago during a Twitter tasting of Dry Creek Valley wines.

2015 DaVero Vermentino, Schatz Family Vineyard in the Cosumnes River AVA, San Joaquin County
2015 DaVero Vermentino, Schatz Family Vineyard in the Cosumnes River AVA, San Joaquin County

2015 DaVero Vermentino, Schatz Family Vineyard, Cosumnes River AVA, San Joaquin County, $30
This vermentino is produced in Sonoma County by DaVero, but sourced from the Schatz Family Vineyard in the Cosumnes River AVA of San Joaquin County, which is in the northwestern part of Lodi. DaVero takes a biodynamic, non-interventionist approach to winemaking to handcraft this wine, including foot stomping the grapes, two days of skin contact for added complexity, and native yeast fermentation. This wine is everything you want in a summer white: lemony, crisp, mouthwatering, and delectable.

2015 Fields Family Vermentino, Delu Vineyard, Lodi Appellation
2015 Fields Family Vermentino, Delu Vineyard, Lodi Appellation

2015 Fields Family Vermentino, Delu Vineyard, Lodi Appellation, $19
Now in perpetual pursuit of an alternative to sauvignon blanc, and smitten with vermentino thanks to DaVero above, I enjoyed this small lot, Fields Family offering prior to the start of the Wine Bloggers Conference, sitting by the pool at Bare Ranch talking to winemaker Ryan Sherman. I’ve always preferred to taste with the winemaker because usually I connect better with the wine through the person making it. After whole-cluster pressing, the wine is fermented in stainless steel, dry racked semi dirty, then spends about seven months aging sur lie in five- or six-year-old neutral barrels. Sherman’s love of vermentino, with Ryme’s “Hers” version as his inspiration, really shines. Bright, floral, textured, and tart – as well as exceptionally delicious – the Fields Family vermentino was the perfect accompaniment to that summer night in Lodi.

2015 Mainelli Family Reserve 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil, California
2015 Mainelli Family Reserve 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil, California

2015 Mainelli Family Reserve 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil, California, $25 (sample)
I don’t typically review olive oil, although I have, nor do I always eat parmesan herb ciabatta, but when I do, I dip it in Mainelli Olive Oil Family Reserve 100% Extra Virgin California Olive Oil. Each year, Tom Mainelli and his team carefully taste, select, and bottle some of Northern California’s best olive oils. This oil is one you want to taste, with its exquisite flavors, purity, and warm bite, indicative of great quality. Drizzle on almost everything. Delightful. Yes, please.

Beth’s Smart Sip: 2013 Flora Springs Poggio del Papa

2013 Flora Springs Poggio del Papa
2013 Flora Springs Poggio del Papa

Many of you know that I am a big fan of Flora Springs. While Flora Springs is one of Napa Valley’s largest family owned and operated wineries, the staff there always make me feel welcomed, whether I visit the tasting room or the estate. In the wholesale market, you might know Flora Springs because of their iconic Trilogy red blend, as well as their readily-available Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot, and sauvignon blanc.

However, there is more to Flora Springs than meets the store shelf eye. If you delve into their winery-only wines, you will discover some hidden treasures. One of these surprises is the 2013 Poggio del Papa. The other night, I was in the mood for pizza and wine and decided to open this, purchased at the tasting room for $40. The Poggio del Papa is a crazy-cool, Napa Valley version of a super Tuscan-style red blend consisting of 76% sangiovese from Cypress Ranch Vineyard in Pope Valley, along with small percentages of other varieties like 10% malbec, 10% syrah, and 4% petit verdot from vineyards in Oakville and Rutherford. The resulting wine is red fruit dominant, yet with underlying layers of black fruit, cocoa, mint, and spice. Dusty, soft tannins coupled with juicy acidity seal the deal. Only 667 cases were produced, so this wine won’t last long. I recommend buying a few bottles to taste across the next decade.

Can you keep a secret? In my opinion, the 2013 Poggio del Papa is the one of the best, lesser-known wines that Flora Springs crafts. Therefore, because of its uniqueness, food friendliness, and age worthiness – all at an affordable price point – I’ve selected the 2013 Flora Springs Poggio del Papa as a Beth’s Smart Sip.

Happy Sipping!
Beth

A Trio of January Wines

2013 Hope Family Wines Treana Red, Paso Robles
2013 Hope Family Wines Treana Red, Paso Robles

It seems like yesterday that it was 2015 and now it is mid-January already. Where have these few weeks gone? Only two weeks until February (and my birthday, yay)!

NV Faire La Fête Crémant de Limoux
NV Faire La Fête Crémant de Limoux (source: snooth.com)

Earlier this month, I published a review of four wines from Trump Winery, a review of Domaine Carneros for American Winery Guide, and a review of the NV Faire La Fête Crémant de Limoux for Snooth, so I am still actively writing. I hope that you will read these reviews if you have not already! However, the beginning-of-the year craziness and workplace intensity have not allowed me to focus as much on other wine samples I received late last year and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. That being said, here are three that I have tasted and recommend for your enjoyment.

2013 Hope Family Wines Treana Red, Paso Robles
2013 Hope Family Wines Treana Red, Paso Robles

2013 Hope Family Wines Treana Red, Paso Robles (sample, $45 SRP)
The Treana Red is comprised of 75% cabernet sauvignon and 25% syrah aged 15 months in 65% new and 35% once-used French oak. It is young and voluptuous, with an apparent clinginess and deep purple color in the glass that is unrivaled. On the palate, the mouthfeel is sumptuous and the tannins firm, with aromas and flavors of blackberries, blackcurrant, vanilla, and spices. I sipped this wine over the course of three days with and without food and it was still quite powerful on day three. My favorite food pairing with the Treana was a hearty steak. Decant this and drink now or hold this one for 10-20 years. 15% ABV, 7000 cases produced.

2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosé, Toscana IGT
2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosé, Toscana IGT

2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosé, Toscana IGT (sample, $11 SRP)
This wine finishes the trifecta of Banfi Wines that I received as samples and it might very well be I saved the best for last. The 2013 Centine Rosé (or Rosato, as I suggested it be called), produced in stainless steel,  is simply lovely for a wine that comes in at around $11. It’s a blend of sangiovese, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, so it’s more of a medium-bodied rose, with nice aromatics and flavors of strawberries and wild raspberries. The finish is longer than I would expect from a wine at this price point and the acid shines. I paired this pretty, salmon-pink wine with tail-off, pink shrimp prepared with butter and a touch of this rosé. For those inquiring minds, yes, I cooked. Enjoy this rosé, er, rosato, with a variety of foods.  ABV 12.5%.

2011 Bodega Garnacha Alto Alberche 7 Navas Roble, Castilla y León
2011 Bodega Garnacha Alto Alberche 7 Navas Roble, Castilla y León

2011 Bodega Garnacha Alto Alberche 7 Navas Roble, Castilla y León (sample, $18 SRP)
This is the third sample of garnacha sent to me by Magnum Wines International, LLC and New Spain Wines. Similarly to the other samples, the grapes for the 7 Navas Roble come from the Alto Alberche Valley in Castilla y León, where the vines are 60-70 years old, resulting in lower yields, but very intense, high-quality berries. Unlike the previous two, the 2012 Bodega Don Juan del Águila Gaznata Joven and 2013 Bodega Garnacha Alto Alberche 7 Navas Garnacha Joven, this wine sees four months of aging in twice-used French oak barrels and was not bottled until March 2014. It still retains the characteristics of old-vine, high-altitude garnacha, such as floral aromatics, bright cherry fruit, and spice. However, it has more noticeable tannin structure and body from the oak aging. This is a great value at under $20. 14.5% ABV, 3200 bottles (266.67 cases) produced.

2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosé, Toscana IGT
2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosé, Toscana IGT

At this moment in time, I have one more post planned for January. In the works are more reviews for American Winery Guide and Snooth in the coming months. I hope that I can count on you for your continued support and readership.

Cheers!
Beth

What’s in my glass and around the top of my wine bottles!

In my glass
In my glass

Want to know what’s been in my glass and around the top of my wine bottles the last few weeks? Then look no further than here! Below is a roundup of a few my favorites sips, as well as this cool wine accessory that a company sent to me to try. (Disclaimer: I am a wine club member at both Passaggio Wines and Domaine Carneros.)

MacLaren Wine Company Atoosa's Vineyard Syrah 2011
MacLaren Wine Company Atoosa’s Vineyard Syrah 2011

MacLaren Wine Company Atoosa’s Vineyard Syrah 2011, $40 from MacLaren
This wine is one that’s deserving of its Wine and Spirits‘ 95 score and 2014 top 100 wine ranking. It’s simply gorgeous, with complex layers of black fruit and peppery spice. The tannins are integrated and the alcohol is lower, which makes for an elegantly-balanced Syrah. This was a gift from friends. (my vivino review)

Passaggio Unmarked Mendocino County Repeat Offender Sangiovese 2012
Passaggio Unmarked Mendocino County Repeat Offender Sangiovese 2012

Passaggio Unmarked Mendocino County Repeat Offender Sangiovese 2012, $35 at Passaggio
2012 Unmarked Repeat Offender Sangiovese is a delightful play of cherry, cranberry, and raspberry laced with caramel, spice, and strawberry acidity. This wine is easy to sip and will pair with most foods. (my social media review)

Orogeny Redding Ranch Marin County Pinot Noir 2012
Orogeny Redding Ranch Marin County Pinot Noir 2012

Orogeny Redding Ranch Marin County Pinot Noir 2008, price unknown
What a beautiful Pinot Noir: juicy red berry, ample spice, medium tannin, and nice acidity, even after almost seven years. This was a birthday present from friends. (my vivino review)

Hardball Cellars Chardonnay 2013
Hardball Cellars Chardonnay 2013

Hardball Cellars Chardonnay 2013, $28 from Hardball Cellars
This Chardonnay was a gift from Hardball Cellars. It’s fermented and aged in neutral oak, so the oak imparts mouthfeel and texture more than flavor. It’s very fruit forward, with aromas and flavors of tart apple, lemon, and a kiss of vanilla, and finishes with bright acidity. I enjoyed this wine with seasoned scallops and stir fried Brussels sprouts. (my social media review)

Unmarked Code Seven Warnecke Ranch Sonoma County Pinot Noir 2013
Unmarked Code Seven Warnecke Ranch Sonoma County Pinot Noir 2013

Passaggio Unmarked Warnecke Ranch Sonoma County Code Seven Pinot Noir 2013, $46 from Passaggio
This is a light-bodied, pale ruby Pinot Noir. It sees 11 months in neutral oak, so the result is fruit-forward, terroir-driven Pinot. The wine begs for food, with dominant notes of cranberry, spice, and nice acidity. Drink now or hold it for a year or two. (my vivino review)

Domaine Carneros Blanc de Noir NV
Domaine Carneros Blanc de Noir NV

Domaine Carneros Blanc de Noir NV, $35 from Domaine Carneros
Come to mama! Domaine Carneros Winery Blanc de Noir NV is palate cleansing and refreshing, with aromas and flavors of toast and lime. Key lime pie in a glass, except very dry, with good acidity. Pair with salty and savory foods. 100% Pinot Noir. (my vivino review)

Passaggio Unmarked Most Wanted Merlot 2012
Passaggio Unmarked Most Wanted Merlot 2012

Passaggio Unmarked Coplan Vineyards Sonoma County Most Wanted Merlot 2012, $46 from Passaggio
This single-vineyard, Sonoma County Merlot made by Passaggio Wines is exactly what Merlot should be: fruit-forward with a textured mouthfeel thanks to all neutral oak. It’s juicy and luscious, with ripe red and dark berries, spice, integrated tannins, and nice acidity on the finish. Limited availability. Get it while you can. (my vivino review)

Old York Cellars Oaked Chardonnay 2012 and Merlot 2013
Old York Cellars Oaked Chardonnay 2012 and Merlot 2013

Old York Cellars Oaked Chardonnay 2012, $18 from Old York Cellars
This oaked Chardonnay is very much New World in style. The grapes are estate grown in New Jersey and sourced from other vineyards. The wine spends six months in American oak, medium toast. It’s both rich in color and style, gold, with sweet tropical and cooked fruit flavors, like golden delicious apple and pineapple, as well as vanilla and creamy, butter-like flavors from full malolactic fermentation. I paired this wine with grits, breakfast for dinner. Sample provided by Old York Cellars.

Old York Cellars Merlot 2013, $18 from Old York Cellars
This Merlot is what I would call a substantial, Cabernet lover’s Merlot. It has both red and dark berry flavors, distinct tannins, a smoky quality, and a bit of spice on the finish. Because it’s very young and has 15.5% alcohol, it would benefit from decanting or some bottle age. I paired this wine with pork chops. Sample provided by Old York Cellars.

DripTeez Drip Stoppers
DripTeez Drip Stoppers

DripTeez Drip Stoppers, $6.99-$8.99 from DripTeez
The social media representative for DripTeez reached out to me and asked if I would like to try some samples and I said yes. The premise is to stop wine from dripping and running down the bottle, which I know happens to all of us from time to time. I was pleased to discover that not only do they work, they are also handmade in the United States. They can be custom made with your favorite bling or logos. Wine is meant to be fun and DripTeez is a practical, playful way to stop drips and dress up your wine bottle.

Cheers!
Beth

Wine and a Movie: Under the Tuscan Sun Paired With Wines of Tuscany

Under The Tuscan Sun
Under The Tuscan Sun. Source: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/16395986118151053/

You know when you come across one of those empty shell people, and you think “What the hell happened to you?” Well, there came a time in each one of those lives where they are standing at a crossroads…someplace where they had to decide whether to turn left or right. This is no time to be a chicken-shit, Frances. ~ Patti, Under the Tuscan Sun

How I missed watching Under the Tuscan Sun, I’ll never know. Well, I do know. I’ve never been much of a movie person. Combine that with an all-consuming relationship that I thought would last forever, there just wasn’t time. In retrospect, this movie would not have meant to me then what it means to me now.

If you’ve seen the movie and you know me, you will understand the uncanny parallels of a female professor and writer unexpectedly betrayed by her life partner. After living for a while as a shell of the person she once was, she takes a leap of faith and does something crazy, she travels to Tuscany and buys a villa, Bramasole, in Cortona. Or in my case, she takes a leap of faith and does something crazy, she moves across the country to Napa, California to start a new career in the wine business. Once there, she throws herself into restoring her life, but it is slow going at first. She does not immediately find a romantic relationship, but she does have a cat and begins to connect with the people around her. Unbeknownst to her, everything she wishes for comes true, just not exactly how she planned.

Of course, there are differences. One finds the relationship she desires, the other still awaits that moment. One of us is an amazing cook; the other is a budding oenophile.

2011 Tuscan Sun Wines Tondo Tondo
2011 Frances Mayes’s Tuscan Sun Wines Tondo Tondo, Toscana IGT

The recurrent themes of the movie – rebirth, renewal, growth, love, family, friends, food, and wine – are essential to living a fulfilled life. It’s in that spirit that Frances Mayes developed her Tuscan Sun brand to include these elements, most recently, Tuscan Sun Wines.  The movie and wine were not my first exposure to the Tuscan Sun line of products. Fewer than two years ago, I reviewed the olive oil.

One of the two wines provided to me by Banner Media Group was the 2011 Frances Mayes’s Tuscan Sun Wines Tondo Tondo, Toscana IGT, which means Just perfect. This Sangiovese is delightful, especially at the price point of around $14. It’s feminine, floral, and fruity, with loads of bright cherry, raspberry, and strawberry flavors. It finishes with soft tannins, spice, and a bit of acidity. It’s aged in stainless steel, so the berry flavors have a starring role.

One of the Tuscan Sun Wines is still available at wine.com. The others can be found through retail locations or by contacting Tuscan Sun Wines.

2008 Baracchi Smeriglio Merlot Cortona
2008 Baracchi Smeriglio Merlot, Cortona DOC

The other wine that paired well with the movie was produced by Baracchi Winery, located just east of Cortona overlooking Valdichiana Valley. The estate villa once belonged to 17th century poet Antonio Guadagnoli. The Baracchi family restored the property and today 22 hectares of the 60-hectare property are vineyards. Also located on the estate is Relais Il Falconiere, a luxury hotel, spa, and restaurant.

The 2008 Baracchi Smeriglio Merlot, Cortona DOC ($35.99) is aged 12 months in small French oak barrels. It’s deep garnet-red in color, with a medium body and mouthfeel. The dominant aromas and flavors are cedar and cherry and still has high tannins and a peppery, minty finish. I suggest decanting this and drinking it now.

After watching the movie and tasting the wines, my next step is to finally read the book that brought life in Tuscany to the forefront (I just purchased it!) and to always remember this,

Unthinkably good things can happen even late in the game. It’s such a surprise. ~ Frances, Under the Tuscan Sun

Cortona is now on my bucket list. And maybe, just maybe, I will learn to cook, too.

Chianti

Disclosure: Earlier this year I was contacted by Binario Immagine e Comunicazione, a public and media relations agency working on behalf of Toscana Promozione, to assist in an international marketing campaign in support of Tuscan wine consortia, companies, and wine brands. The member consortia include Chianti, Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Nobile di Montepulciano and Vernaccia di San Gimignano, and together they created a brand called Tuscany Taste. In exchange for three blog posts and social media posts on Facebook and Twitter, I received five wine samples from these five consortia members. I published two posts earlier this year, Will you be a Best Tuscan Wine Lover Awards 2013 winner? and Tuscany Taste: A Unified Brand and Vision, in support of this initiative. My wine samples arrived this week, so below is my third post about one of the wine consortia members, Chianti.

2010 Podere Dell'anselmo di Forconi Fabrizio Terre di Bracciatica Chianti DOCG
2010 Podere Dell’anselmo di Forconi Fabrizio Terre di Bracciatica Chianti DOCG

Chianti is perhaps one of the most well known wine-producing areas in Tuscany/Italy. When people think of Chianti, they often think of the rounded wine bottle in the basket. However, most Chianti is now sold in traditional Bordeaux-style bottles.

The primary black grapes grown in Chianti are Sangiovese, Canaiolo, and Colorino. Red wines from Chianti must be at least 70% Sangiovese (those from Chianti Classico DOCG must be at least 80% Sangiovese and no white grapes allowed). Chianti may contain up to 10% white grapes and up to 15% international grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. (Source: Chianti: Vast Region Makes Vast Improvements). However, the Chianti percentage requirements seem to be constantly changing.

This week I opened of my samples, the 2010 Podere Dell’anselmo di Forconi Fabrizio Terre di Bracciatica Chianti DOCG, for a dinner with friends. It was more robust at first sip than I expected, as it is a Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon blend. My friends and I decided to let it sit for a while. A couple of hours later it was much more approachable, with both black and red berry aromas and flavors, a toasted oak quality, and a nice balance of acidity and tannins. We also tried it with a Metrokane Rabbit Wine Aerating Pourer, which softened the tannins and brought out more of the bright fruit flavors and acidity.

Recommended pairings include cheeses, braised or grilled red meat, vegetable soup, and fish/fish pasta dishes. Due to the robustness, I would recommend hearty cheeses and red meats rather than a delicate pasta dish. My friends and I paired this wine with spaghetti and meatballs in a red sauce. I think it would have paired better with a steak or burger.