#WineWednesday Review; 2012 Faust Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

From time to time, I receive wines samples from wineries or their public relations agencies for review.  I’ve decided to feature such samples on #WineWednesday’s.

This is the second vintage of Faust I’ve tried (I also tried the 2011).

The Winery

Faust Winery is the creation of Augustin Huneeus and it continues to satisfy his long-held desire to produce a wine that embodies the most seductive characteristics of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Born in Santiago, Chile, Agustin is one of the few vintners who has dedicated his entire professional life to wine.  With a career spanning 50 years, he has produced wine in more than 15 countries.  Perhaps best known today for creating Quintessa, the stunning biodynamic vineyard and winery estate he and his wife Valeria own in Rutherford, Napa Valley, Agustin is recognized as a driving force in how fine wine is produced, recognized, sold and marketed in the United States.  The philosophy that great vineyards make great wine is his guiding principle.

The Faust vineyard is located in Coombsville, Napa Valley’s newest appellation located in the eastern foothills south of Atlas Peak.  It consists of 110 acres of mature Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines, with small plantings of Petit Verdot, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc.  The vineyard is farmed in ten distinct blocks, all of which have a unique character.  Yields on the property are especially low as extra care is put into practices such as winter pruning, green harvest and selective picking.

Faust also seeks small lots from family growers in other unique Napa Valley growing districts including Yountville, Atlas Peak, Mount Veeder, St. Helena and Rutherford.

Faust is certified under the Napa Green Certified Land Program.

The Wine

The 2012 vintage is a blend of 80% Cabernet, 16% Merlot, 2% Cab Franc and 2% Petite Verdot.  After extended maceration and malolactic fermentation in barrel, it was aged 19 months in 30% new French oak. Over fifty percent of the fruit for 2012 came from the 110-acre Faust Vineyard in the Coombsville district 14.5% alcohol.  Retail – $50

IMG_1736

My tasting notes follow:

Deep garnet color. It offers blackberry, plum, cassis and hints of cacao and violets aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with good acidity, soft well-integrated tannins and an appealing texture with blackberry, plum, cassis, and extra dark chocolate flavors.   >>Find this wine<<

Rating: A-: A delicious Bordeaux blend that’s approachable now, but would benefit from further aging.

Pair with: Lamb chops, Korean Sizzling Beef,  Slow cooked Beef Brisket or Meatloaf

Wine provided as a sample for review.  Many thanks to Fineman PR

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

2015 Dark & Delicious;Top 15 Favorite Petite Sirahs

Last week, I attended the 9th annual Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah wine and food event held at Rock Wall Wine Company in Alameda.  The event is put on each year by  P.S. I Love You, an association of Petite Sirah growers, producers and winemakers.

2015 Dark & Delicious

Clockwise from upper left – Inside Rock Wall Winery Hanger; 2012 David Fulton P.S.; Aged P.S. from Teldeschi features ’99, ’00 and ’02; ’11 and ’12 Overland P.S.; Grower Dick Keenan of Overland; ’12 Dashe Cellars P.S. Louvau Vyd; ’12 Ridge Vyds Lytton Springs P.S.

There were about 50 wineries pouring.  My guess would be there were over 100 wines available for tasting.

As always, at a large event such as this, I focus on tasting a combination of tasting the latest releases from some of my favorite producers and seeking out new to me producers.

I tasted 55 wines, including about half of the new to the event for 2015 wineries.

My top 15 favorite wines (in alphabetical order) were:

  • 2012 Carol Shelton Wines Petite Sirah Florence Vineyard
  • 2012 Dashe Cellars Petite Sirah Louvau Vineyard
  • 2012 David Fulton Petite Sirah
  • 2011 Denier-Handal Petite Sirah
  • 2010 Gustafson Family Vineyards Petite Sirah
  • 2012 Harney Lane Petite Sirah
  • 2012 Klinker Brick Petite Sirah
  • 2009 Mineral Wines Petite Sirah
  • 2009 Neal Family Vineyards Petite Sirah Rutherford Dust
  • 2010 Overland Wine Company Petite Sirah Kick Ranch
  • 2012 Overland Wine Company Petite Sirah Kick Ranch
  • 2012 Ridge Petite Sirah Lytton Estate
  • 2009 Ridge Petite Sirah Dynamite Hill York Creek Vineyards
  • 2012 Robert Biale Petite Sirah Thomann Station
  • 1999 Teldeschi Petite Sirah

I also keep an eye out for wines that over deliver in terms of quality for the price.  For value (under $20) check out:

  • 2012 Parducci Petite Sirah Small Lot – $14
  • 2012 Michael-David Vineyards Petite Petit – $18

Conclusion:

This was our fifth consecutive year attending Dark & Delicious.  It’s one of our favorites events because it offers a great combination of Petite Sirah, a wine we love, and food.

In terms of the wine, this was the best year ever in my book. There were a couple of new to me wineries that were among my favorites, including Mineral and Overland.  Add to the newbies perennial favorites like Carol Shelton and Dashe Cellars (which where new to Dark and Delicious for 2015) along with perennial favorites David Fulton, Robert Biale and Ridge Vineyards, and you got a winning combination!

Food-wise, the highlight of the event for me was Chef Tyler Stone’s Petite Sirah Ice Cream made from one of the Concannon Petite Sirah.  I must confess I was disappointed with the number of food partners.  There weren’t as many as there have been in prior years.

Nevertheless, we had a wonderful time tasting some of the best dark and delicious Petite Sirah California has to offer!

Related posts you might enjoy!

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

 

Wines At Our Table; Week of February 15, 2015

Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  Here are my Wine of the Week; and Food and Wine Pairing of the Week for February 15, 2015.

2012 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast - Retail $64
Ruby color with restrained black cherry, blueberry, dried rose and damp earth aromas. On the palate, its medium-bodied, concentrated, persistent and fresh with silken black cherry, red currant, plum and a hint of pomegranate flavors. Delicious wine! Medium-long finish. 14.5% alcohol Outstanding; 92-95 pts

2012 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Russian River Valley - Retail $64
Dark ruby color with dried herb, raspberry, cherry, and a bit of spice aromas. On the palate it approaches medium-bodied, with a harmonious, elegant character and silky texture with dark chocolate covered cherries, pomegranate, and a bit of cola flavors. Med long finish.  14.6% alcohol. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

2013 Carić Bogdanuša - Retail $16
First time trying this grape. It showed appealing white peach, light dried herb, wet stone and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate it’s light and fresh with white peach, apricot and lime flavors an appealing minerality with a lingering finish. The name Bogdanjusa is based on the name of the grape variety used for this wine (Bogdanusa), which means “a godsend”which is explained by its traditional use during church holidays and festivities. 13% alcohol. Very good; 86-88 pts

2009 Viña Eguía Rioja Reserva - Retail $8
Dark ruby color with appealing red fruit, tobacco, dried herb, vanilla and spice aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, and smooth with soft tannins, and good acidity. It shows fresh dark red cherry, vanilla,and spice flavors and a lingering finish. Very good, but not as good as the ’07 which burst on the scene a few years ago. Still – wonderful QPR at $8! Very good; 86-88 pts

N.V. Warre Porto Otima 10 Year Old Tawny - Retail $23
Pretty red orange color fading to a thin clear meniscus with toffee, baked red fruits, roast coffee and honey aromas. On the palate it medium-bodied and rich with baked cherry and raspberry, toffee and honey flavors. Medium long finish. Bottled in 2012. Wonderful pairing with a chocolate chip cookie Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

2012 Tablas Creek Picpoul Blanc - Retail $27
Pale yellow-green color with restrained pineapple, lemon, and a hint of white flower aromas. On palate, it’s medium-bodied with fantastic acidity and pronounced pineapple, lemon, sweet spice, and mineral flavors that belies the nose. Lingering finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

Wine of the WeekIMG_1608

We received the Croatian wine from friends who visited Croatia a few months ago (although the wine was purchased here) This was my 3rd or 4th time enjoying Croatian wine and this one was very enjoyable. Definitely a wine for seafood!  And speaking of seafood, we were in New Orleans for Mardi Gras! We knew we’d be having a bunch of seafood, so we did the B.Y.O.B thing and brought along a few bottles of wine. We very much enjoyed the Tablas Creek Picpoul Blanc with a diverse selection of seafood on our first night in New Orleans. Our dinner included raw oysters (yeah we pretty much ate oyster every day!), BBQ blue crab claws and catfish and shrimp creole!  My Wine of the Week is the Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. We waited about 5 years to get on their mailing list.  a lot has changed in that 5 years including new ownership and an evolution of my taste in Pinot Noir. I definitely appreciate the more nuanced feminine version of Pinot now.  But this was is flat-out delicious well-made wine! It expensive Pinot (at least by my standards) so the jury is still out for me.  I wonder if we couldn’t get something that we like just a much or more for less, so I’m not sure if we’ll buy more…

My Food and Wine pairing of the Week? The Otima Tawny Port with a Chocolate Chip cookie!

What was your Wine of the Week?  Any killer Food and Wine pairings?

Follow my reviews on Vivino 

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated
_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wine Pairing Recommendations for Heart Healthy #SundaySupper

In honor of February being National Heart Month the #SundaySupper family of food bloggers is bringing you some a great Hearth Healthy menu this week!

healthy-red-wine

Image courtesy of my10online.com

And speaking of hearth healthy, drinking wine is widely regarded as being heart healthy – especially red wine.

In fact, it was my desire to optimize my health that got me started drinking wine when I heard about the French Paradox many moons ago!  The list of potential benefits discovered since then is impressive:

  • A compound called piceatannol, found in red wine, may inhibit the development of fat cells.
  • Enjoying a small daily glass of wine (up to 5 ounces) is correlated with lower levels of depression.
  • Moderate wine consumption may lower your risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
  • Antioxidants found in wine increase good levels of cholesterol
  • A diet high in resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, can lead to improved cardiovascular function.
  • Flavonoids found in red wine have been shown to have heart-healthy benefits
  • Moderate alcohol drinkers, including wine drinkers, performed better on cognitive tests than nondrinkers.

Not sure about all the red wine claims (sometimes they seem to go too far don’t they)? Well in my book, you’d have a hard time coming up with a more pleasurable “hedge” for your health than enjoying a glass of wine!

Check out this these fantastic heart healthy recipes, and my wine pairing recommendations!

Enjoy these menu items with a glass of bubbly.  Sparkling wine is the only wine that’s socially acceptable to drink for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between.  I love that! One of my favorites is Domaine Chandon Brut Classic.  It has a wonderful brioche, nutty, apple, pear and citrus character with kiss of spice. 

Pair these delightful dishes with Sauvignon Blanc.  Look for the 2013 Ferrari-Carano Sonoma County Fumé Blanc. It’s exhibits pretty stone fruit, orange blossom, citrus and mango aromas with peach, grapefruit, and pear aromas.

Pair these dishes with Chardonnay.  I really like the 2012 Foxglove Central Coast Chardonnay.  Foxglove is a second label for premium Chardonnay producer Varner Wines.  It shows in the classy cuvee that shows white peach, apple, citrus and a hint of spice character.   

Pair these dishes with a Riesling, arguably the most food friendly wine.  Look for the 2012 Trimbach Riesling from Alsace.  It shows a white peach, nectarine, and orange blossom character with an appealing hint of salinity. 

Pair these dishes with a Rosé, which combines the best of white and red wines, while maintaining their own unique charm. They possess the crisp acidity, delicacy and freshness of white wines, and the body, and flavors of red wines.  Look for the 2013 Cave de Tavel “Lauzeraies” Rosé from France.  It’s a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault grapes that packed with deep red fruit flavor, crisp acidity ,and ample body.

Pair these dishes with a Pinot Noir from Oregon.  I like the 2012 Adelsheim Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. It has a silky, fresh cherry, cola, spice and earth character.  Delicious and food friendly!

 Look for a “Rioja” for these dishes. It’s made from the Tempranillo grape.  One of my favorites that delivers for the price is the 2011 Bodegas Bilbainas “Viña Zaco” .  It has a mixed red and black cherry, plum character with hint of smoke and spice. 

Pair these desserts & snacks with a Moscato d’Asti.  Look for the 2013 Saracco Moscato d’Asti ($10). It shows a sweet, fragrant, delicate, floral, tropical fruit, and a hint of honey character.  It’s “frizzante”, which means it’s not as effervescent as most sparkling wines. 

 Cheers!

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Champagne and Oysters for Valentines’ Day #winePW

Wine Pairing Weekend is a monthly collaborative event for wine/food bloggers started by David Crowley of Cooking Chat.  It’s a great way to find food and wine pairings that work; along with tips on how to create your own food and wine pairing magic. The theme for this month’s Valentine’s Day Wine Pairing Weekend is “It’s All About Romance“…though, I prefer to think of Valentine’s Day as a celebration of Love and Romance.

And I can’t think  of a better analogue for Love and Romance than Champagne and Oysters!

The thing about champagne,you say, unfoiling the cork, unwinding the wire restraint, is that is the ultimate associative object. Every time you open a bottle of champagne, it’s a celebration, so there’s no better way of starting a celebration than opening a bottle of champagne. Every time you sip it, you’re sipping from all those other celebrations. The joy accumulates over time.
― David LevithanThe Lover’s Dictionary

Champagne, of course, is a great way to celebrate anything, anytime. And while I also enjoy other sparkling wines they’re not Champagne, which is the ultimate beverage for celebrating your love!

Champagne represents the bubbly and overflowing love that I have for you!” – Unknown

I enjoy Valentine’s Day.  I look forward to it. Though admittedly, I enjoy it more now that I’m married than when I was single.

I only drink Champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not” – Coco Chanel

So whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or Singles Awareness Day, make it a celebration with Champagne!

On My Plate

As for the “romance”? It’s oysters for my wife and I !  We both love oysters!

Oysters and Champagne are staples on aphrodisiac inspired menus. That’s because oysters have enjoyed a reputation for being an aphrodisiac that dates back to at least ancient Greeks.

Giacomo Casanova, the 18th-century Venetian, reportedly ate dozens of oysters at a time to stir arousal before his legendary trysts. And some ancient cultures thought oysters resembled female genitalia, leading them to believe they imparted sexual prowess.

Consider the image of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, rising out of the sea from the half-shell.

Certainly, scientific proof directly linking consumption of oysters to sexual arousal remains suspect.

Perhaps the answer is psychological and is explained by the placebo effect (i.e. if one believes something is an aphrodisiac, they can get aroused thinking about it)

Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day…does it really matter? I say the ends justifies the means;-)

Oysters with Gigi's Mignonette
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
My wife's Champagne Mignonette
Ingredients
  • One dozen shucked oysters on the half shell
  • ¼ c Rice wine vinegar
  • 2 TBSP Champagne (or sparkling wine)
  • 1½ teaspoons finely chopped shallot
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped cilantro
  • Few splashes of Tabasco sauce
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, Champagne, shallot, pepper, Tabasco sauce and sugar and let stand 30 minutes. Arrange the oysters on a bed of ice and serve with the mignonette.
Notes
The longer you keep the Mignonette Sauce – up to about a month – the more the flavors develop and the better it tastes

We picked up a dozen Fanny Bay Oysters at our local fish market for our Valentine’s Day starter. They have a sweet and salty character with a slight metallic taste,  and a pronounced cucumber finish.

While I generally prefer a squeeze of lemon and sometime a drop or two of Tabasco on my raw oyster, this easy to make Champagne mignonette that my wife created helps to balance out the salty brininess of the oysters while giving them a kiss of classy!

DSCN0821

 In My Glass

The Franck Bonville Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Grand Cru is a grower Champagne that’s located in Avize. They farm about 50 acres of vines in the Grand Cru districts of Cramant, Avize, and Oger. It’s a Blanc de Blanc style made with 100% Chardonnay.  It has  very low dosage of only 2.5 g/L, and  is aged about 5 years on its lees.  My tasting notes follow:

Pale yellow-green color with abundant tiny bubbles and pretty white flower, green apple, brioche, citrus, chalk, and a hint of sweet spice aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied and very dry with a delicate mousse, and a soft, fresh lemony with a bit of lime acidity that’s intermingled with a bit a salinity and with golden apple, pear, and lemon rind flavors. Long finish. At retail of $40, it offers very good QPR for a Champagne with 5 years of aging on the lees! 

The Pairing

Champagne is the can’t-go-wrong choice with oysters. The bubbly effervescence scours the palate and prevents any fishy molecules from taking up permanent residence there, and their  prickly acidity makes you look forward to more food in general.  But not all Champagne (or other sparkling wines) are created equal .  I prefer a drier wine with oysters (think Muscadet, Chablis, or Pouilly Fuisse). The Champagne equivalent is a Brut Nature or Extra Brut which has very little added sugar and is very dry.  A drier wine shows purer flavors for me. Furthermore I prefer a Blanc de Blanc Champagne (100% Chardonnay)  because it tends to be light, and a tart with appley, citrusy character.  This was a fantastic pairing!

Be sure to check out what my fellow Wine Pairing Weekend # 9 bloggers have come up with for our “It’s All About Romance” theme! 

Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you’re reading this early enough, you can join us for a live Twitter chat on our theme “It’s All About Romance” on Saturday, February 14, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m Pacific Time.

You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later! Stay tuned for the March Wine Pairing Weekend, which will be on Saturday, March 14, 2015

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wines At Our Table – Week of February 8, 2015

Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  Here are my Wine of the Week; and Food and Wine Pairing of the Week for February 8, 2015.

2012 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Barbera - Retail $28
Opened with restrained baked raspberry, spice, cherry and earthy aromas and flavors. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied with mouth-watering acidity. It got better with some time in the glass. This is one my wife’s faves, but I don’t think it delivers on the value front. Very food friendly. It was a surprisingly good pairing with Beef Bulgogi.  Very good; 86-88 pts

2011 Onesta Cinsault Bechthold Vineyard - Retail $29
Consistent with prior tasting note. Dark red color with an appealing mixture of musk, black cherry, strawberry aromas with a hint of caramel. On the palate it light-bodied moderate to very good acidity and fresh raspberry, strawberry, spice and a bit of mineral flavors. Medium finish. Paired well with Asian Style BBQ Chicken! Sample received for review. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Martinelli Road Vineyard - Retail $38
This is a beautiful wine!  It’s aromatically complex with raspberry, cherry, tons of spice, and whiffs of candied citrus rind, and dust. Raspberry, cherry, and intense baking spice flavors aromas that explode on the palate are nicely balanced by very good acidity, and dusty soft tannins. Elegant character with a supple texture. Long finish. Last tasted 2 years ago. Just got better with time.  Outstanding; 92-95 pts

N.V. Franck Bonville Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Grand Cru - Retail $40
Pale yellow-green color with abundant tiny bubbles and pretty white flower, green apple, brioche, citrus, chalk, and a hint of sweet spice aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied and very dry with a delicate mousse, and a soft, fresh lemony with a bit of lime acidity that’s intermingled with a bit a salinity and with golden apple, pear and lemon rind flavors.  Long finish.  Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

Wine of the Week IMG_1600

It’s rare that my wife and I have wildly different opinions about wine, but that was the case with the Jacuzzi Barbera.  She loved the wine and I think it’s “Good” but overpriced. Having said that Barbera is a great food wine and it paired very well with left over Beef Bulgogi.  The Onesta Cinsault is produced from the 129 year-old Bechtold Vineyard. I first “accessed” the wine in September last year using my Coravin.  It  tasted just as fresh as that first sample I accessed. I’m a fan of Carlisle Winery & Vineyards.  They make some “big” wines, but they always seem enough acidity to keep the fruit on the rails. Such was the case with the Martinelli Road Zinfandel, the only wine I rated outstanding this week. My Wine of the Week though was the Franck Bonville Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Grand Cru. It’s a grower Champagne located in Avize. They farm about 50 acres of vines in the Grand Cru districts of Cramant, Avize, and Oger. It’s a Blanc de Blanc style made with 100% Chardonnay.  It was dosed at only 2.5 g/L, and aged about 5 years on its lees. Such a harmonious, and pure wine. It was a fantastic paired with our Sunday afternoon lunch - Oysters on the Half Shell. The two are my Food and Wine Pairing of the Week.  

In fact, the Champagne was too good! We polished off the bottle for lunch!  If that’s not a Wine of the Week, I don’t know what is!

What was your Wine of the Week?  Any killer Food and Wine pairings?

Follow my reviews on Vivino 

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated
_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

A Taste of the Tuscany Coast #ItalianFWT

One of the things I love most about food and wine is their ability to transport one to a different place.  And a  place’s people, culture, and customs are reflected in its food and wine.  In that sense, one can virtually travel the world through food and wine.  And that is exactly what we are doing through Italian Food Wine and Travel (#ItalianFWT).  We taking a virtual tour of Italy by exploring its food and wines.  This we’re exploring Tuscany!

Exploring Tuscany Through Food and Wine

Unlike last month’s “tour” of Emilia-Romagna, I’m pretty familiar with Tuscany.  It’s one the largest wine regions in Italy,and arguably its most well known.  Tuscany is situated in central Italy and stretches from the Apennines in the east to the emerald Tyrrhenian Sea in the west.  It famous for its endless rolling hills, artistic heritage, medieval villages and stand-out cities like Florence.  Tuscany’s reputation as of one of  Italy’s foremost wine regions is based on iconic wines such as ChiantiBrunello di Montalcino , Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Super Tuscans.

On My Plate

Being familiar with Tuscan red wines, I wanted to try something different and try a Tuscan white wine.  A search of my favorite wine shop came up with Vernaccia.  And when I looked for a dish to pair with Vernaccia, my attention was drawn to the less well-known Tuscan Coast.  There in the port city of Livorno, you will find Caccuicco alla Livorna, a popular traditional seafood dish with a history that stretches back at least five hundred years. Its name probably comes from the Turkish for ‘minute’ which is ‘kuciuk’. It reminds me of my beloved Cioppino, which is believed to have its origins in San Francisco. Game on!

DSCN0803

This “bottom of the boat” seafood stew delivered “top shelf” flavor (especially the octopus)! I think it has an earthier, more savory character than Cioppino, which I really enjoyed.  And the recipe is definitely a keeper!

Cacciucco (Tuscan Seafood Stew)
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6-8
 
This Tuscan soup traditionally uses fish considered "bottom of the boat"—those left behind after more valuable fish have sold.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. minced parsley
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh sage leaves
  • ½ tsp. red chile flakes
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 12 oz. calamari, cleaned and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 12 oz. baby octopus, cleaned and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (14-oz.) can chopped tomatoes with juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup fish stock
  • 1 (1-lb.) monkfish filet, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 (1-lb.) red snapper filet, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 12 oz. large shell-on shrimp
  • 12 oz. mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 8 (1″-thick) slices country-style white bread
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add parsley, sage, chile flakes, and 4 cloves garlic, minced, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add calamari and octopus, and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque, about 4 minutes. Add tomato paste, stir well, and cook until paste has darkened slightly, about 1 minute. Add wine, and cook, stirring often, until the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes along with their juice, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until seafood is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in stock, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add monkfish, and cook, covered, until just firm, about 5 minutes. Add snapper and shrimp to the pot and scatter mussels over top. Cook, covered, without stirring (so as not to break up the seafood), until the snapper is just cooked through and the mussels have just opened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Toast bread, and rub liberally with remaining garlic clove. Ladle stew between bowls, over bread or with bread on the side.
Notes
I made a few substitutions due to lack of availability of ingredients. I substituted sablefish, wild dover sole, and Alaskan spot prawns for monkfish, red snapper and shrimp.

In My Glass

I headed back inland to the small medieval village of San Gimignano for my wine.  San Gimignano, located north of Siena in the heart of Tuscany is home to Vernaccia di San Gimignano (Vehr-NAHCH-ya dee Sahn Jee-mee-NYAH-noe). The “city of the beautiful towers”, as it is often called, has been a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990. 

763-295-san_gimignano_tuscany_city

Vernaccia-based wine from San Gimignano has a long history, and since the Renaissance period has been considered one of Italy’s oldest and most noble wines.  (Source)

DSCN0801

The Vernaccia di San Gimignano was a milestone of Tuscan wine-making.  It was the first national wine (1966) to get the DOC classification, (Appellation of Controlled Origin). In  upgraded to DOCG status in 1993.  It’s the only white wine DOCG in Tuscany.

IMG_1521

My tasting notes follow:

Light yellow-green with lime, and tangerine, wet stone and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with an ample texture,  with lime, tangerine, and a bit of spice flavors with a surprising and pleasing touch of tannins. Long mineral driven finish. 13% alcohol. Great QPR at $16! Will buy more!

This was my first taste of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, a rare tannic white grape variety, but it won’t be my last.  The wine was outstanding and it was great pairing with the Caccuicco!

Our Tuscan journey doesn’t stop here.  Join all of our other bloggers as they share with you their experience through the region of Tuscany.

Join us next month on Saturday March 7th as we travel to the region of Trentino-Alto Adige in the northeastern part of Italy in the Dolomite mountains.  For additional Italian related blogs on the food, wine and travel of Italy stay tuned to #ItalianFWT on Twitter throughout the month.  Ciao Ciao!

_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.  

Dark and Delicious 2015 – A Petite Sirah and Food Extravaganza!

One of my favorite Bay Area food and wine events, the 9th annual Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah is coming to Alameda in two week on Friday, February 20th!  Dark & Delicious (“D&D”) is the preeminent annual Petite Sirah event in the world.  It’s put on each year by  P.S. I Love You, an association of Petite Sirah growers, producers and winemakers.

 

In a nutshell, it’s 50+ wineries pouring Petite Sirah (“P.S.”), collaborating with fabulous Napa and Bay Area restaurants and/or food caterers for a food and wine extravaganza.

For the uninitiated, here’s a quick 411 on P.S.

  • Created by François Durif, it is the love child of a noble grape, Syrah, and an obscure peasant grape Peloursin in 1880
  • 90% of the world’s P.S. vineyards are in California
  • Produces big, masculine, typically ink-colored wines that tend to be tannic with moderate to high-acidity
  • Sometimes (increasingly it seems) referred to as Durif

What makes this event special for me is…

  • It’s a”one-stop” tasting of P.S. from the finest producers throughout Cali.  It’s a great chance to experience the diversity of P.S. both geographically, and stylistically.
  • It’s a great opportunity to get to know P.S. as a food partner beyond the typical steak and BBQ because you get a chance to try all manner of gustatory delights from savory to sweet and everything in between.
  • It’s offers great value! For the price of a couple of Napa Valley wine tastings, you can eat and drink (responsibly of course;-) to your heart’s content.
  • It has the most evocatively appropriate name of all the wine events I attend…it put’s a smile on my face whenever I think “Dark & Delicious”!

I’ve been the last several years and it’s gotten better each year. I expect this year will be the best yet! 

Check out the list of wineries (*new for 2015) scheduled to pour this year! .

Artezin Wines
Ballentine Vineyards
Berryessa Gap Vineyards
Bogle Vineyards
Bianchi Winery *
Carol Shelton Wines *
Clayhouse Wines
Concannon Vineyard
Dashe Cellars
Diamond Ridge
David Fulton Winery
Delectus Winery
Denier~Handal Vineyards
F. Teldeschi Winery
Fenestra Winery
Field Stone Winery
Foppiano Vineyards
Fulcrum Wines *
Gustafson Family Vineyards
Harney Lane
Klinker Brick Winery *
Kokomo Winery *
Las Positas Vineyards
Lava Cap Winery
Marr Cellars
Mettler Family Vineyards
Michael David Winery
Mineral Wines *
Miro Cellars
Neal Family Vineyards
Overland Wine *
Page Mill Winery
Pendleton Estate Vineyards and Winery *
Parducci Wine Cellars
Ridge Winery
Robert Biale Vineyards
Rock Wall Wine Company
Sones Cellars
Stanton Vineyards
Sundstrom Hill Winery *
The Crusher
Theopolis Vineyards *
Trentadue Winery
Tres Sabores
Twisted Oak Winery
Ursa Vineyards
Vasco Urbano Wine Company *
Venteux Vineyards *
Vezer Family Vineyards
Volk Wines *
Wilson Vineyards
Wooden Valley Winery

Here are the details!

P.S. I Love You Dark and Delicious Tasting
February 20th, 2015

6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
The Rock Wall Wine Company
2301 Monarch Street
Alameda, CA 94501 (map)

Tickets are $65 per person (free parking).  There are also discount tickets available ($55) for group of 6+.  The more the merrier!

The event has sold out in the past so put some pep in your step!  For more details and tickets click here.

Remember, in order to maximize your enjoyment and learning at public tastings:

  • Wear dark, comfortable clothes
  • Hydrate
  • Spit
  • Skip the perfume and cologne

Hope to see you there!

Related posts you might enjoy!

_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wines At Our Table: Week of February 1, 2015

I’m starting a new weekly feature on the blog this week.  Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  I’ll still pick and Wine of the Week; plus a Food and Wine Pairing of the Week.

2007 Stage Left Cellars Petite Sirah - Retail $36
Opaque violet color with baked black and red fruits, black raspberry, red currant, black pepper, and baking spice aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, and very fresh with black raspberry, fig, blackberry, red currant, spice flavors and a wonderful complementary minerality. Long finish.  Petite Sirah my not be top of mind when it comes to a wine to pair with food (well other than steak), but this one could change your mind.  Outstanding; 92-95 pts

N.V. Schramsberg Vineyards Mirabelle Brut Rose - Retail $20
Pretty pink color with an orange hue, and a fine bead. Show aromas of strawberry cream, raspberry, and ginger. On the palate, it’s dry with a soft mousse and tart raspberry, strawberry, ginger and blood orange aromas. Very food friendly. A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir including at least 15% reserve lots. Good value!Very good; 86-88 pts

2009 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel - Retail $55
Dark ruby color with complex dark fruits, spice, licorice, bramble, wet stone and pepper aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and dry and round with a lush texture, dusty tannins and black cherry, plum, red currant flavors with a persistent minerality. Long finish. Blend of 40% Mourvèdre, 28% Syrah, 27% Grenache, 5% Counoise Wonderful food wine. Perfect with lamb shank! Outstanding; 92-95 pts

2012 Erik Banti Carato Toscana IGT - Retail $8
Ruby color with bright cherry, tobacco, a bit of red currant, vanilla and spice aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied, and fresh with surprisingly supple texture, and a lingering finish. Delicious blend of 75% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 10% Ciliegiolo. Aged for 10 months in French barriques.  A steal for $8!  This one goes in my “Everyday” wine rotation!  It’s hard to go wrong with an Italian wine at the table, and this one is no exception. Very good; 86-88 pts

N.V. Ariston Aspasie Champagne Brut – Carte Blanche - Retail $28
Pale yellow color with a fine bead and pretty white flower, yellow apple, toast,and subtle citrus aromas. On the palate it’s light-medium bodied, with a delicate mousse. It’s elegant and dry with yellow apple, peach, citrus, mineral and a bit of vanilla flavors. Lingering finish. Blend of 40% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Meunier 12.5% alcohol. Wonderful value in Champagne under $30. Will buy more! Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

N.V. Fleury Pere & Fils Champagne Blanc de Noirs Brut - Retail $40
Pale yellow color with a fine bead, and bread dough, hazelnut, cherry aromas. On the palate it’s shows a delicate creamy mousse, racy acidity and wonderful balance with cherry, strawberry, red apple, and vanilla flavors and a lingering mineral driven finish. 100% Pinot Noir sparkling wine from the Aube in the southernmost part of the Champagne region  Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

2010 Big Basin Vineyards Homestead - Retail $36
Dark ruby color with exuberant violet, roast meat, dark fruit, tar and a hint of menthol aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and well-balanced with plum, cherry, black raspberry, and baking spice flavors. Long finish. Blend of 37% Grenache, 36% Syrah, and 27% Mourvedre  Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

2004 Alvear Montilla-Moriles Pedro Ximénez de Añada (375ml)- Retail $20
Brownish red color with molasses, toffee, dark chocolate and subtle spice aromas. On the palate it’s full-bodied, viscous, and persistent with very good acidity that keeps it from being cloying and provides balance. It shows sweet flavors of molasses, honey-dipped figs, caramel, and cinnamon flavors. Long finish  Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

2013 Panizzi Vernaccia di San Gimignano - Retail $16
Light yellow-green with lime, and tangerine, and wet stone aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with an ample texture, and lime, tangerine, and a bit of spice flavors with a surprising and pleasing touch of tannins. Long mineral driven finish. 13% alcohol.This was fantastic with  Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

 Wine of the WeekIMG_1521

We entertained friends last weekend, which accounts for a couple of bottles of Champagne, and the 2004 Alvear PX Sherry.  I’m a big fan of the Blanc de Noir style of sparkling wines, and you don’t find many Champagne in that style. The Fleury Blanc de Noirs was a great pairing with our entree of 40 Cloves and a Chicken.  For dessert  we served the Alvear PX Sherry over ice-cream.  (a popular way to serve the very sweet and viscous PX).  I was happy to finally get around to drinking it. It’d been laying down for nearly 7 years!  The Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel was awesome after it opened after 90 or so minutes, and it’s wine that will continue to favorably evolve for many more years. But my Wine of the Week was the  Panizzi Vernaccia di San Gimignano.  It was my first time trying Vernaccia!  And what a fantastic introduction.  I don’t recall having a white wine with tannins in it before, but apparently some fine tannins is typical of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, a rare tannic white grape variety. And the wine paired perfectly with Cacciucco, a Tuscan Seafood Stew I prepared for an upcoming #ItalianFWT post. Together the two were my Food and Wine Pairing of the Week.

What was your Wine of the Week?  Any killer Food and Wine pairings?

Follow my reviews on Vivino 

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated
_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wine Tasting Club Blind Tastes 18 Merlots!

I can barely believe it, but the Pacific Pointe Wine Tasting Club (“PPWTC”) is 5 years old!  When my wife and I started the community-based wine-tasting club in 2010, there were only 3 folks who showed up for our first tasting – a neighborhood couple and a friend. The PPWTC has since blossomed into vibrant community of wine-loving friends with a strong core of 20, and probably another 20 folks who attend from time to time.

We celebrated our 5 year anniversary by choosing Merlot for the tasting, since that was the theme for our very first meeting!

Here’s how our tasting went down:

  • Merlot priced between $10-$35
  • All wines are tasted blind
  • Tasters are required to score all wines
  • The wines are scored based on 4 criteria (aromabody, taste, and finish) - each on a scale of 1-5 (1-low; 5-high). Therefore minimum score = 4 points and maximum = 20 points
  • Both average and median scores are calculated.  The winner determined by highest average score.  The median score used as tie breaker.

We tasted a total of 18 Merlots  Most (11) were from California, with France (4) and Washington State (3) rounding out the lineup.

This was our biggest tasting yet! There were 30 tasters.  Since a bottle of wine only holds 25 ounces, we split the tasters into two groups.  Each group tasted 9 bottles of wine.

Group 1 included 18 tasters with a diverse blend of “newbies”, sporadic tasters and “hardcore” tasters.

Group 2 included 12 tasters, and was heavily skewed toward more “hardcore” experienced tasters.

 The Group 1 winner was...

1. 2010 Guardian Cellars Confidential Source - $35

Guardian Cellars is a Washington State based winery owned by the husband and wife team of Jerry Riener and Jennifer Sullivan, a police-officer and reporter respectively.  The winery is based in Woodinville. Most of the wines have law enforcement inspired names like Confidential Source, Entrapment and Gun Metal. 

IMG_1462Here are the runner’s up….
2. 2011 Wente Vineyards Merlot Sandstone - $14
3. 2012 Markham Merlot>Napa Valley - $24
4. 2011 L’Ecole No. 41 Merlot Columbia Valley - $24
5. 2010 Hall Merlot - $20
6. 2009 Château Arnauton - $19
7. 2010 Mauvais Garçon (Bad Boy) - $14
8. 2010 Château Haut-Mazeris - $20
9. 2010 Jean-Louis Denois “Chloé” Limoux - $14

  The Group 2 winner was..

1. 2011 Cafaro Merlot - $35

Cafaro Cellars is located in St. Helena in the Napa Valley.  It was  founded in 1986 and is owned and run by Joe Cafaro. He has a long history in Napa Valley (since 1969) of making wine at select well-known wineries including Chappellet, Keenan & Dalla Valle, among others. Initially he made wine from purchased fruit but in the mid 90’s he acquired a 15-acre hillside vineyard right next to the southern boundary of the famous Stag’s Leap District. All fruit for Cafaro’s wines come from this vineyard. It is in a beautiful location slightly elevated over the valley floor set among rolling hills. He planted this with several varietals and manages all aspects of the growing and winemaking. His total production is about 3000 cases.(Source)

IMG_1471Here are the runner’s up….
2. 2012 Francis Ford Coppola Merlot Director’s Cut - $27
3. 2006 Turning Leaf Merlot Reserve - N/A
4. 2000 Markham Merlot Reserve - N/A
5. 2013 Hobo Wine Company Merlot Camp - $16
6. 2012 Charles Smith Merlot The Velvet Devil - $10
7. 2010 Curvare Merlot Carneros - $17
8. 2012 Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot - $15
9. 2012 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot Decoy Sonoma County - $35

The tasting was was a rare victory (well actually double victory) for the most expensive wine in each group.  That’s the exception rather than the rule for our blind-tastings.  The winner of Group 1 – Guardian Confidential Source edged the 2nd place wine, Wente Sandstone Merlot, which offers very good value at $14.  One the other hand, the Cafaro Merlot scored a solid victory in Group 2.  There were two surprises in Group 2 for me.  The first was that the  2006 Turning Leaf Merlot Reserve came in third. Turning Leaf is a value brand and I was surprised it did as well as it did with the more experienced tasters. The other is that that Decoy Merlot came in last.

After the scores were tabulated and winners revealed each group had a chance to taste most of the wines from the other group. The Cafaro and Guardian didn’t last long…

It was an exciting night full of fun, food, fellowship and a bit of wine education! And isn’t that what a wine tasting club should be about!

Cheers!

_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.