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Stagecoach Vineyard Sold to Gallo

Normally a headline like this would not grab my attention. However, I have two vintages of wine in my wine room that Kathy and I made with grapes sourced from Stagecoach Vineyard in the Atlas Peak and Pitchard Hill sub-AVAs of Napa Valley. My attention was on a Wines & Vines article about the sale of the vineyard to E & J Gallo Winery. In this article it was noted that Gallo intends to honor contracts to more than 90 wineries. Some of the famous wineries that use Stagecoach Vineyard fruit include Chateau Montelena and Darioush Winery. Lesser known on this list would be California Wineworks in New Jersey. We received our Stagecoach Vineyard fruit from them via Tin Lizzie Wineworks in Clarksville. Maryland, where we made the wine.

On our drive to the tasting pavilion we passed a stagecoach.

In 2014, since we were making a 2014 blend using Stagecoach Fruit, we visited the vineyard while touring vineyards in Napa Valley. At the time, the vineyard was owned by Dr Jan Krupp. The sustainably farmed Stagecoach Vineyard is the largest vineyard in Napa Valley. It is on a south facing mountain. There are 16 varietal wine grapes planted in 175 blocks. Of the varieties planted, over half of the vineyard is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon. Together with the Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot account for 85% of the varietal grapes planted.

Terry & Kathy at Stagecoach Vineyard weeks before the Cab was to be harvested.

We toured the vineyards. Near a summit, there was a pavilion built out of rocks. We enjoyed a wine tasting of some of the portfolio of Krupp wines. It was a lovely spot for an outdoor wine tasting with panoramic views.

Views from the wine tasting pavilion.

Cheers,
Terry

Ancient Peaks Sauvignon Blanc

Ancient Peaks Sauvignon Blanc

With both of our daughters pregnant, we recall our time in the country Georgia where the people  make wine using an ancient method often accompanied with ancient wisdom. We were told, “It is not natural to rip a child away from it mother at birth. Why do modern white winemakers rip the juice from the skins and seeds after harvest?”  The alternative is the ancient method of keeping the white grape skins with the juice during fermentation and aging. In the Paso Robles AVA of California, Ancient Peaks winery produces a Sauvignon Blanc using some ancient winemaking tradition.

The winery admits that this wine is an outlier by design that defied conventional wisdom. That is unless you are in the country Georgia. The Sauvignon grapes were fermented on their skins during the entire fermentation. Then unlike ancient winemaking in Georgian qvevri, the wines were racked to neutral French oak barrels where it aged for more than two years. This method is totally different than the usual winemaking protocol for white wines in the United States. The result was a dark gold colored wine with a dried tropical fruit aroma. The taste also emphasized dried fruits. The wine was full-bodied with medium tannins.

The Atlas Peaks Sauvignon Blanc has a wonderful color. The dark gold is a bit lighter than the amber colored qvevri wines we had in Georgia. However, it is much darker than the first two vintages of qvevri wines I made in Maryland. I do enjoy the fermentation on the skins, a red wine protocol, for white wines. It gives the wine different layers of flavors and makes the wine more complex with a fuller body and tannins. This is a wine to savor and enjoy with food.

Are Americans ready for white wines that were fermented and perhaps aged on the skins? That depends on likes and education. I discovered that with education, most people will sample white wines fermented on their skins. They may or may not like them. I also discovered that wine drinkers that like tannins in a wine will enjoy a tannin white wine. For me it is like a Christmas Present.

Read the Wine Trail Traveler article about Ancient Peaks Winery.

Cheers,
Terry

Syrah: An Intriguing Red Wine

Syrah

France and Australia are well known for growing Syrah/Shiraz grapes. However, Syrah can also be found growing in other warm climate areas. The grape variety dates back to the 1100s in France. Legends abound in the wine world with Syrah. One legend notes that the grape variety may have come from Sicily, and another legend suggests Iran. 

Syrah is bottled as a straight varietal and also used in blends, especially with Grenache. Syrah can also be used in producing sparkling wine. 

Ancestors of Syrah include Dureza, a lesser known red grape variety, and Mondeuse Blanche, a white insignificant grape. Petite Sirah, another popular variety, is the offspring of Syrah. 

Depending on where Syrah is grown and on winemaking techniques, a large number of wine notes will be discovered as one tastes a number of Syrah wines.” Excerpt from A Wine Tourist’s Guide: Visiting Tasting Rooms

Aroma and Taste of Syrah

Syrah wines offer a wonderful range of aroma and taste notes. Anyone who is enjoying a glass of Syrah can look for notes of blackberry, black currant, plum, grass, dark chocolate, spice, licorice, cloves, vanilla, leather, cherry, earth, pepper, smoke, or toast.

Food Matching for Syrah

Syrahs pair wonderfully with a variety of entrées including: grilled meat, pork, fish and poultry. Since it is terrific with grilled meat, remember to have Syrah in your wine cellar for the upcoming warmer days of spring and summer.

Is there a Connection between Syrah and Shiraz?

In Iran there is a centuries-old city named Shiraz. Until the Revolution in 1979, it was a large wine area for centuries. Is there a  relationship between Syrah and the Shiraz wines from that area? According to a BBC article, The Secret Behind Iran’s Fabled Wine, by Anahita Shams, DNA testing of Syrah in France showed there is no connection to the centuries old Shiraz wines in Iran. The article is interesting and also discusses the Australian produced Shiraz. If  you enjoy wine and a bit of history, you will enjoy the article.

Fortunately, for wine enthusiasts Syrah wines are easily available in the United States.

Cheers!
Kathy

Save the Date: Wine + Food Festival

 

September 22 and 23, 2017 are the dates for the Wine + Food Festival in Greenwich, Connecticut. This special festival is presented by Serendipity.

While planning and events are still in the planning stage, below are a list of chefs, entertainment and music that are already a sure item for the 2017 event.

Music

  • Big Head Todd & the Monsters

Chefs

Ambassador Chefs

  • Bill Taibe
  • Brian Lewis
  • Christian Petroni
  • Constantine Kalandranis
  • David Snyder
  • Debra Ponzek
  • Forrest Pasternack
  • Matt Storch
  • Mike Kaphan
  • Mogan Anthony
  • Nadia Ramsey
  • Rafael Palomino
  • Robin Selden
  • Rui Correia
  • Stephen Lewandowski

Charities supported by the Wine + Food Festival

According to the festival website, a contribution benefits the Greenwich Parks & Recreation foundation in several ways: park development, improving the landscape, community events, protecting natural habitats and wildlife that is endangered. and upgrading deteriorating picnic and playground areas, and offering education and recreation opportunities for families.

Currently not all tickets are available, but the Friday Night Dinner tickets can be purchased online now.

The 2017 schedule for the Wine + Food Festival is expected to be released soon. So set aside September 22 and 23 on your calendar now for the festival.

Cheers,
Kathy

Welcome Spring with Asparagus/Artichoke Combo

Spring is just around the corner! Officially spring starts Monday, March 20. Check out the recipe below that calls for fresh asparagus and artichokes, springtime favorites. For this recipe you need either a little dry (white) vermouth or dry white wine.

Cheers!

Broiled Asparagus & Artichokes with Vermouth Brown Butter

Ingredients

12 fresh baby artichokes: quartered, cleaned & prepped and steamed al dente.
1 lb. asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 black pepper
3 T salted butter
2 T dry (white) vermouth or dry white wine
1 t fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Position a rack 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler on high.
  2. Pat dry cooked artichoke quarters. Trim asparagus and cut into 2 inch pieces.
  3. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the artichokes and asparagus with 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper.
  4. Broil until browned and tender, about 6 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, melt 3 Tbsp. salted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 1-½ minutes. Carefully whisk in 2 Tbsp. dry (white) vermouth or dry white wine (it will splatter).
  6. Toss the asparagus and artichokes with the brown butter and 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper, serve.

Recipe provided by Ocean Mist Farms

 

Albariño Tasting at Succotash Restaurant with Southern Food Bites

Succotash Restaurant in Oxen Hill

At the beginning of March we were invited to a wine tasting in the Washington DC suburb of Oxon Hill. The location of the event was the Succotash restaurant in a vibrant area of Oxon Hill and not far from Maryland’s newest casino MGM Grand. To read a full review of the delicious, mouth quenching  Rias Baixas Albariño wines, read Terry’s March 9th blog, Rias Baixas Albariño: the Next Exotic White Wine.

At Succotash, the presenter of the Albariño wine taste was Mark Oldman, a wine writer who has published several wine books with his most recent being, How to Drink Like a Billionaire. The tasting involved several Albariño wines from the Spanish region of Rias Baixas. Several food bites prepared by the Succotash chef were paired with Albariño wines.

The Succotash restaurant offers a southern style menu including the renowned succotash. Check out these Succotash food photos from the wine tasting.

Succotash

Baby grand piano, a unique decor item created by a local Maryland resident

 

Perhaps one of the most striking pieces of decor at the restaurant is a baby grand piano that was taken apart and a large portion was repurposed  as a decoration.

If you have not been to the Succotash restaurant, view the photos below. Notice that outdoor seating is also available. Check out the additional photos for an idea of what the Succotash experience is like.

Succotash Restaurant in Oxon Hill, Maryland

Cheers!
Kathy

A Special Irish Coffee

Happy St. Patrick’s Day  sign at a Virginia winery

Black Walnut Crème Irish Coffee

Ingredients

2 oz Black Walnut Crème
6 oz hot coffee
1 oz Baroda Bourbon
whipped cream

Directions

  1. Add Black Walnut Crème, coffee, and bourbon to a tall “Irish coffee” glass.
  2. Top with whipped cream.

Recipe provided by Round Barn Winery, Brewery and Distillery  in Michigan.

Black Walnut Crème is available on Round Barn’s website. The description of Black Walnut Crème is “A velvety texture and notes of mocha, toffee, and espresso, with a black walnut twist. Enjoy in your favorite cocktail, coffee, baked goods, or simply on its own.”

Round Barn Winery, Brewery and Distillery, MI

This is an Irish Coffee that you will want to enjoy especially on cold, wintery nights as well as for St. Patrick’s Day. The Black Walnut Crème recipe is one you’ll want to keep in your files.

We visited Round Barn Winery, Brewery and Distillery a few years ago. Check out the online article we wrote for Wine Trail Traveler.

Cheers!
Kathy

Rías Baixas Albariño: the Next Exotic White Wine

Rías Baixas Albariño

On Tuesday, we were invited to an Albariño wine tasting at Succotash, a restaurant at National Harbor in Maryland. The Albariño wines were from the Rías Baixas region of Galicia, Spain. The restaurant was an interesting choice. Rather than Spanish tapas, Succotash specializes in a Southern menu. This did not seem to phase the Albariño. Although in Spain, the Albariño grape cries out for all different types of seafood, I enjoyed the Albariño with the small plates of food prepared by the chefs at Succotash. My favorite was fried chicken on a biscuit with okra garnishing the top. The Albariño and the food matched well.

The wine tasting was a sit-down teach and taste led by wine author Mark Oldman. Mark’s newest title is How to Drink Like a Billionaire: Mastering Wine with Joie de Vivre published autumn 2016. Mark knew his audience of wine writers, restaurant staff and wine retailers. He used humor and the knowledge he had of the Rías Baixas area and Albariño to entertain the group while tasting the first six wines. Also attending were Javier Izurieta Romero from the producer Pazo de Señorans and Mariola Varona Bayolo from the producer Martín Códax.

Javier Izurieta Romero from the producer Pazo de Señorans and Mariola Varona Bayolo from the producer Martín Códax

We learned, through tasting, that not all Albariño wines are the same. Their tasting profiles were varied. We tasted six Albariño wines during the sit down presentation.  The first Albariño was a 2015 from Pazo de Señorans. The yellow colored wine offered yellow stone fruit and citrus on the aroma and taste. Also on the taste there was a hint of mineral with a very slight trace of salt. The medium-bodied wine also had an oily mouthfeel. The mineral finish was fruity. The suggested retail price is $21.

The second wine was a 2015 Ramón Bilbao Albariño by producer Mar de Frades. This wine had a bright yellow color and offered lemongrass and citrus aromas. The taste also had lemon, lemongrass and mineral. The wine was very crisp. The suggested retail price is $14. The third wine was a Martín Códax 2015 Albariño. It had a bright yellow color with a gold hue. The aroma and taste exhibited melon, citrus, mineral and a slight hint of sea salt. The wine had a medium-full body with a mineral and fruity finish. Mariola Varona Bayolo mentioned that this wine was begging for sea food. The suggested retail price is $15.

The fourth wine in the flight was a 2015 Valmiñor Albariño. The yellow colored wine had notes of citrus, melon and mineral. It had a full-body and the finish yielded from fruity to mineral. The suggested retail price is $14. The producer Bodegas as Laxas produced the fifth wine tasted, a Laxas 2016.  The yellow colored wine had a tropical fruit aroma. The wine tickled the tongue. The taste had tropical fruits in the foreground with a mineral background. The wine had a medium-full body and was very crisp. The suggested retail price is $20. Our last Albariño in the flight was a 2015 Santiago Ruiz. This Albariño was a blend of 69% Albariño, 13% Loureiro, 9% Treixandura, 5% Godello and 4% Ciaño Blanco. The wine had an aroma of tropical fruits and fruit tree blossoms. The taste reminded me of peaches, fruit tree blossoms and a hint of pineapple. It was medium-bodied with a very crisp and citrus finish. The suggested retail price is $20.

Of the six wines, my favorite was the first one by Pazo de Señorans. As I looked around the room, several people had wine left in all their glasses except the first glass. Perhaps we were just thirsty or several people liked this Albariño.

After the presentation, a small plate of food was delivered. The small tastes included fried green tomatoes, a short rib croquette and shrimp. All items paired well with the Albariño. The acidity of the wine helped cleanse the palate. The second part of our Albariño event had an additional six Albariño wines and small plates of food from the restaurant. This was a time for socializing and sampling how well the food paired with Albariño. Southern cooking does match very well with Albariño wines.

Cheers,
Terry

Do Sparkling Wine Glasses Make a Difference?

Gloria’s Flute

During the last couple years I have judged several sparkling wine competitions. For those judging sessions, the judges used white wine glasses. At home I never use a white wine glass with a sparkling wine, preferring a flute glass instead. The white wine glass does allow you to notice the aroma better than the flute. The flute emphasizes the bubbles better than a white wine glass. Some people prefer the nostalgia of coupes.

Gloria Ferrer, co-founder of Gloria Ferrer Winery in Sonoma, California, has been collecting wine glasses for years. Her collection of stemware in Spain numbers 2,000 pieces. In 2016, to help celebrate the winery’s 30th anniversary, Mrs. Gloria Ferrer worked with Sonoma artist, Alex Leader, to design a sparkling wine glass that combined the best features of previous stemware styles. The resulting Gloria’s Flute is available for purchase at the winery and online. The retail price for the flute is $40.00. We received a flute and a bottle of sparkling wine from Gloria Ferrer winery and I was anxious to see how Gloria’s Flute does compared to a traditional coupe, flute and white wine glass.

On the first observation, the stem of Gloria’s Flute is much wider than the other stemware. The flute and white wine glasses measured 5-6 mm for the stem thickness. The coupe measured 8 mm while Gloria’s Flute measured 17 mm. Gloria’s Flute becomes increasingly wider on the stem. This section is hollow to allow the sparkling wine to pour into part of the stem resembling a flute. The second observation was that the Gloria’s Flute was lighter than the other stemware. However, weighing them did not support this perceived observation. All the stemware were near 100 grams in weight. When you are holding the Gloria’s Flute it seems lighter. The thicker stem does not seem to deter from holding the glass. The balance of the Gloria’s Flute seems better than the other glasses. It does not seem unbalanced as if it might easily tip over.

Coupe, flute, Gloria’s Flute and white wine glass

The coupe showcased the bubbles poorly. There were a few streams of bubbles, after a few minutes there was only one stream of bubbles. The mousse on the surface of the coupe was very small. The flute showed several streams of bubbles. The mousse disappeared after a few minutes, even though there were streams of bubbles. The white wine glass showed fewer streams of bubbles than the flute or Gloria’s Flute. There was only a hint of a mousse above each stream. As far as bubbles go, the Gloria’s Flute had the best showing. Several minutes after the sparkling wine was poured, several streams of bubbles were still active. The bubbles formed a mousse in two sections on the surface; after several minutes there was one mousse in the center of the glass.

The aroma was consistent with all glasses; however, it was more intense in the white wine glass. In the coupe, the taste of the wine seemed muted, while in the flute the wine was crisper and more alive. In the white wine glass and Gloria’s Flute the mouthfeel was softer than in the flute.

The salmon colored sparkling wine was made with Pinot Noir grapes. Some skin contact allowed for the festive color. Red berry fruit was noted on the taste. There was a hint of vanilla on the finish.

Do sparkling wine glasses make a difference? In a situation where I was judging the wines, I would prefer the flute.  At dinner or just enjoying a sparkling wine, it is a toss between a flute and a Gloria’s Flute. Gloria’s Flute did the best at showcasing bubble streams and a mouse. It also had the best showing of bubbles for a longer time. A flute showcases the acidity of the wine and its crispness; whereas, the Gloria’s Flute showed the sparkling wine as softer and less acidic. All glasses did a nice job showing the color of the wine. At a cocktail party I would prefer Gloria’s Flute. It is easier to hold and did not seem as though it would fall over when set down. In summary, I plan to get a few more of the Gloria’s Flute glasses. Kathy and I enjoy sparkling wines especially the bubbles.

Cheers,
Terry

Adler Fels’ Delicious Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

Kathy and I received two wines to sample from Adler Fels winery in the Mayacamas Mountains in Sonoma County. Both wines were tasted in varietal specific Riedel stemware.

Occasionally I’ll taste a wine that immediately evokes a memory. That experience occurred with a first taste of the 2014 Adler Fels Pinot Noir. I recognized the taste and was immediately transported back a few years to a wine judging of Santa Barbara wines headed by Steven Spurrier. During that judging we tasted several Pinot Noirs from Santa Barbara County. They were quite good and I enjoyed them. Just a few points separated the Pinots. This Adler Fels Pinot was very reminiscent to the Pinots that I helped judge.

The 2014 Pinot Noir retails for $27.99. Seventy-six percent of the grapes were sourced from Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County while 24% of the grapes were sourced from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County. The wine had a translucent dark ruby color and emphasized fruit on the aroma and taste. The most notable fruit was raspberry. Also on the taste were hints of vanilla, baking spices and blackberries. The medium-bodied wine also had medium tannins. It had a fruity finish. The wine had 14.4% alcohol. This is a very  quaffable Pinot Noir that was delicious with a ham dinner.

One other memory associated with this Pinot was cool temperatures. Pinot likes cool nights. While in Lompoc at the beginning of July, I noticed that by 5:00 in the afternoon, the pools were empty. It had cooled off by late afternoon, a weather condition that favors Pinot Noir.

The second wine sampled from Adler Fels was a 2015 Chardonnay that retails for $19.99. The intense aroma meets the senses before the face encounters the glass. The light gold colored wine was crafted with grapes sourced equally from Russian River Valley and Monterey County. Apple, pear and peach were noted on the aroma. The taste was predominantly apple. The silky mouthfeel was accompanied by a full-body. The finish was multi-layered. First the finish had apple notes followed by a hint of peach and ending with chalk. The wine was a 14.4% alcohol. The Chardonnay was delicious and paired well with perch and rice. I used a bit of the wine with the rice mixture I composed.

Both of these wines give consumers a taste of California with reasonable prices. Winemaker Aaron Bader crafted the Pinot Noir, and winemaker Linda Trotta fashioned the Chardonnay.

Cheers,
Terry


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