Wine Tasting Club Blind Tastes 12 Cabs!

Last week, the most recent tasting of the Pacific Point Wine Tasting Club(“PPWTC”) featured a blind-tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon.  Our wine-tasting club has done tastings of Cabs before, but this tasting was a bit different because we increased the purchase price limit to $40 (It’s usually $25).

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We had a very good turn out for the tasting.  After our “Happy Hour”, where we socialize, eat and drink, we got to tastin’!

PPWTC Cab Night 2015-001

The photo depicts the tasting order of the wines. Top Row (left to right)1-4 Middle Row (left to right) 5-8, and Bottom Row (left to right) 9-12

Here’s how our tasting went down:

  • Club members asked to bring a wine of their choice priced up to $40
  • 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, if necessary

We tasted 12 Cabs.  Napa Valley dominated the field (7), with one each from Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma Valley, Paso Robles, Washington State (Columbia Valley), and Bordeaux (St. Julien)

We had 18 tasters including two “newbies” who enjoy wine, but are just getting started on their wine journey.  The vast majority of tasters were experienced wine lovers who have been enjoying wine for many years.

And the winner with an average score of 16.6 was… 

  • 2010 Bedrock Wine Co. Cabernet Sauvignon Bedrock Vineyard 

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 The runners-up in the order of finish (including average score) were: 

  • 2010 Moonstone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Westside (13.6)
  • 2007 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford (13.2 )
  • 2012 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon (13.1)
  • 2012 Girard Cabernet Sauvignon (12.7)
  • 2012 Frank Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (12.3)
  • 2012 Stags’ Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon (11.6)
  • 1997 Counterpoint Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mountain (11.6)
  • 2012 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Artemis (11.5)
  • 2010 Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (11.1)
  • 2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley (10.6)
  • 2009 Duluc de Branaire-Ducru (10.2)

I enjoy blind tastings.  It removes preconceptions about  wines while presenting the opportunity to rate wines in a peer group setting.

Ah, but where there is a blind tasting, there is virtually always a surprise. That is the nature of blind tasting, a capricious endeavor if there ever was one

What was most surprising about this tasting was the dominance of the Bedrock over the other wines.  Not only did it receive the highest average score in the 5 year history of our wine tasting club, the margin of victory over the #2 wine was the largest we’ve had.  Finally, it was the favorite of 2 out of every 3 tasters! And that never happens!

Further, if you consider the fact that over half the wines were from Napa Valley (and some well-regarded names too – B.V., Frank Family, and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars come immediately to mind), and the fact the first and second place wines were from Sonoma Valley, and Paso Robles respectively…Well that was unexpected!

To use an analogy from Cabernet’s heartland on the Left Bank of Bordeaux—if Napa Valley is Pauillac, St. Julien, Margaux, and even St. Estephe, then Sonoma Valley is Pessac-Leognan. There are few excellent spots for Cabernet varietals to thrive, but when they are right, the can climb to their own unique organoleptic heights. – Bedrock Wine Co.

On this Cab Night, Bedrock ascended the mountain, vaulted the competition, and planted the Sonoma Valley flag at the top!

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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.

Friends, Food and Wine; An #OTBN To Remember #winePW

Open That Bottle Night (“OTBN”), created by former Wall Street Journal wine columnists Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, is the one night a year that we are all encouraged to get out that bottle of wine that is so special that no occasion seems special enough to actually open it.

While it’s great to open that special bottle of wine and share a meal, what makes OTBN so special for me is making memories with friends!

My wife and I have been celebrating (and hosting) Open That Bottle Night (“OTBN”) since 2010.  After a magnificent OTBN dinner last year, one of the wine-loving friends offered to host OTBN this year.

My wife and were looking forward to this particular couple hosting OTBN because they are the consummate host and hostess.  He usually does the heavy lifting in the kitchen, while she create beautiful tablescapes, makes to die for desserts (especially chocolate, but you name it, she nails it when it comes to sweet treats!), and does the little things that make guests welcome and set the stage for a memorable evening (like the sign below).

Friends, Food and Wine; An #OTBN To Remember #winePW

When they host you know you’re going to get a restaurant quality meal complete with appetizers…and they’ve got a wonderful wine cellar!

I must tell you, it was very gratifying to have no OTBN angst this year!  Once I found out what was on the menu I immediately knew which bottle I’d bring

Aside from my wife and I, there were two other couples.  Each couple brought a special bottle for the evening.

In true high-style fashion, we started the night with a mouth-watering collection of appetizers that included cheeses and…Champagne!

Two actually…

The Delamotte was the crowd favorite (I discovered that Delamotte is the sister house to one of the world’s best luxury Champagnes - Champagne Salon).  It’s a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  The Chardonnay for cuvee is sourced from Salon’s grand cru vineyards, and drinks above its $35 price point.  The Rose de Riceys a rare treat from the Aube region of Champagne was also very good.  It brought to mind a sparking Burgundy.

Note: You can check out my detailed tasting notes on the OTBN wines we shared by clicking here, or on the hyperlinked name of the wines

Friends, Food and Wine; An #OTBN To Remember #winePW

After polishing off a couple of bottles of Champagne, and plenty of appetizers, it was time for dinner.  On the menu:

  • Grilled beef with Sicilian herb sauce over
  • Wild mushroom risotto and peas
  • Aged Gouda Chive Popovers

The meal was fabulous!  My personal favorite part of the meal was the Wild Mushroom Risotto!  I had… (well just you never mind how many helpings I had;-)

The wines served with the entrée were as follows:

Of the initial wines served (there was a bonus bottle later…I’ll get to that), I thought the Pio Cesare Barolo was the wine that paired best with our meal.  And it was phenomenal with the risotto!

Friends, Food and Wine; An #OTBN To Remember #winePW

Of course, all the wines were wonderful.  And there were a couple of notable stories behind the wines.  The Mollydooker Carnival of Love was the Wine Spectator #2 Wine for 2014. And the 2003 Guardian Cellars (the bottle with no label) was the first ever wine produced by Guardian Cellars. It was brought by the owner/winemaker’s brother who helped bottle it. And it was his last bottle!

As the evening advanced, and the warm glow love, laughter, and not necessarily cultured badinage about love, life and children flowed like so much wine…our host decided it was time for some more wine!

Off to his cellar he went and came back with a fabulous bonus bottle!

After we’d pretty much polished off the wine, and each of us was in that sweet spot between being happily sated and falling into a food coma…

This happened!

Friends, Food and Wine; An #OTBN To Remember #winePW

Triple Chocolate Mousse Torte

The Triple Chocolate Mousse Torte which was paired with a 2008 Tenuta Col d’Orcia Moscadello di Montalcino Pascena.  

It was my first time trying this amazing dessert wine from Tuscan wine village of Montalcino,a region renown for Brunello. Its historic roots date back to the Renaissance when it was considered a “divine” wine. A nectar of the Gods!

It’s a late harvest style dessert wine made from local grape Moscadello, (a local form of white muscat) grape.  It’s an opulent, yet vibrant wine with intoxicating, perfumed aromas, and it was excellent paired with the dessert!

Friends, Food and Wine; An #OTBN To Remember #winePW

This is what happens when you’ve maybe had a wee bit too much wine, and there’s a selfie stick!  Happy OTBN my friends!

As Saturday turned in the Sunday, me being the wino I am, I wondered which wine(s) were the favorite(s).

I noticed there were three empty vessels of wine.  It’s been my experience that the empty bottles(or decanters) will tell you which wines were folk’s favorites.  Based on the “empty bottle” hypothesis, the evening’s favorite wines(in order served) were the Pio Cesare Barolo, Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz , and the Mark Ryan Long Haul.

It was an awesome evening of empty bottles, filled hearts, and cherished memories. And isn’t that what Open That Bottle Night is really about!

Be sure to check out these special pairings and cherished memories  from my fellow #winePW bloggers!

If you are catching this post early enough, you can join our live Twitter Chat on Saturday, March 14, at 11 a.m. ET, via the Twitter hashtag #winePW. If you’ve come to us after March 14, consider joining us for #winePW 11 focused on wine pairings for early spring vegetables hosted by A Day in the Life on the Farm on Saturday, April 11.

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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 March 1, 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.  Includes my picks for  Wine of the Week; and Food and Wine Pairing of the Week for the week ended March 1, 2015.

This week’s wines include wines we enjoyed at a phenomenal Open That Bottle Night (“OTBN” – which is celebrated the last Saturday in February every year) dinner hosted by friends. There were 8 of us and we (mostly) consumed 8 bottles of wine.

A bottle of wine each…Sounds about right! Right?!

2011 JC Cellars Marsanne Stagecoach Vineyard - Retail $38
Pale gold color with tropical fruits, melon, stone fruit, butterscotch and jasmine aromas. On the palate, it’s fat with a plush texture and melon, nectarine, peach, pineapple and brown spice flavors. This is a cocktail wine. Not necessarily a “bad” thing, but not the style I prefer. We paired it with Pansit one night and roasted Asian style Perch. It was OK with each 15% alcohol. $38 retail. Very good; 86-88 pts

2008 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Vineyard - Retail
Medium ruby color with muted damp earth, cherry, and spice aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied and fruit forward with a silky texture, soft well-integrated tannins and intense ripe baked cherry, cranberry and hint of cola and spice flavors accented with some Green Valley minerality. Medium finish  Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

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Delamotte Champagne Brut - Retail $35
Light lemon color with a persistent bead. Opened with aromas of toast, yellow apple, stone fruit, chalk, and hazelnut. On the palate it’s shows a delicate mousse, nice focus and apple, a flash of peach, citrus, chalk and a hint of ginger flavors. Lingering finish. Blend of 55% chardonnay, 35% pinot noir and% 10 pinot meunier. Aged 3 years and included 25% reserve wines. Very good QPR for $35!  Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

Guy de Forez Champagne Rosé Les Riceys - Retail; Unknown
Very pretty deep pink color with plentiful tiny bubbles and fresh cherry, raspberry, and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, with great energy, and easy cherry, raspberry and mineral flavors. 100% Pinot Noir from 2010 vintage. 70% of 2 day semi-carbonic maceration, and 30% direct to press Pinot Noir Very good; 86-88 pts

2004 Pio Cesare Barolo - Retail $55
Dark red brick color with complex, and expressive blackberry, dried rose, tar, mushroom aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, well-balanced and focused with a silken texture and chewy tannins with red fruit, sweet spice, and leather flavors and a bit of minerality. Long finish. The wine was aged in French oak casks (70%) and smaller French oak barrels (30%) 14% alcohol Outstanding; 92-95 pts

2003 Guardian Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Stillwater Creek Vineyard - Retail; Unknown
Medium garnet color with restrained cherry liqueur, red currant, and cedarwood aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with solid acidity cherry, subtle red currant, vanilla and spice flavors and a lingering finish.  This bottle didn’t have a label because it was the first vintage ever produced by Guardian Cellars.  The owner’s brother is a friend of ours and helped with the first bottling.  Very good; 86-88 pts

2006 Mann Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Mannstand Vineyard - Retail $21 
Garnet color with appealing black cherry, blackberry and a hint of earth aromas. On the palate it’s medium bodied with blackberry, cherry, and bit blueberry and spice flavors. Medium finish. Very good; 86-88 pts

2012 Mollydooker Shiraz Carnival of Love - Retail $97(Avg. on Winesearcher.com)
Violet color with exuberant dark fruit, white pepper, roasted meat, and hints of olive tapenade and eucalyptus aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied and ripe, yet elegant with very good acidity, soft well-integrated tannins, and luscious blackberry, black cherry, plum, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla and spice flavors. Long finish. 16% alcohol Aged in 100% new American oak. Approachable now, but will benefit from further aging. Outstanding; 92-95 pts

2008 Mark Ryan Long Haul - Retail; Unknown
Garnet color with black and red fruit, dried rose, cacao and spice aromas. On the palate, it medium bodied, and fresh with well-integrated tannins and blackberry,red berry, vanilla and spice flavors with a complementary minerality. Blend of 63% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 11% Petit Verdot, and 4% Malbec from Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, Kiona, and Hedges vineyards. Aged 20 months in French oak (81% new). Outstanding; 92-95 pts

2008 Tenuta Col d’Orcia Moscadello di Montalcino Pascena - Retail; Unknown
This late harvest wine of White Muscat was a real treat from a land known for their reds (Brunellos and Rossos) It poured a beautiful gold color with an intoxicating perfume of peach, apricot, dried orange peel, orange blossom, aromatic spice, and honey aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, yet very fresh with luscious and utterly delicious, peach, apricot, honey and spice flavors. Long finish. Outstanding; 92-95 pts

Wine of the WeekIMG_1747

Since this week’s wines included the eight wines we enjoyed for Open That Bottle Night, there is a plethora of Wine of the Week candidates! The Delamotte Brut, which is a sister Champagne house to iconic Salon was outstanding.  And it’s all Grand Cru fruit. I highly recommend it!  In terms of the still wines, they were served in the order of my tasting notes above. The Pio Cesare Barolo was amazing with our meal of Grilled beef with Sicilian herb sauce over wild mushroom risotto (especially the risotto!) which made it my Food and Wine Pairing of the Week.  Although the dessert wine with our dessert of Tripe Chocolate Mousse Torte was also a fantastic pairing.  I highly recommend the Tenuta Col d’Orcia Moscadello di Montalcino Pascena. It was my first Moscadello de Montalcino, and it’s an outstanding dessert wine.

In terms of the other wines, it’s been my experience that the empty bottles(or decanters) will tell you which wines were folk’s favorites.  And there were three empty vessels at the end of the night – the Pio Cesare Barolo, the ‘08 Mark Ryan Long Haul, and the Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz (It was the Wine Spectator #2 Wine for 2014).

My Wine of the Week was 2012 Mollydooker Shiraz Carnival of Love.  It’s a big, bold yet elegant, and complex wine that is flat-out delicious!

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
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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
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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.

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!

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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. 

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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)

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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.

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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!

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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 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
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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 Zinfandel Experience Media Tasting – Top 20 Favorites

I attended the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (“ZAP”) 2015 Zinfandel Experience Trade and Media Tasting held at Rock Wall Wine Company on Wednesday, January 28th

The Trade and Media tasting featured 90 or so wineries, and I’d guesstimate at least 200 wines available for tasting.

2015 Zinfandel Experience Media Tasting – Top 20 Favorites

The Media tasting was held for 3 hours from 2-5p.

So many Zins, so little time!

My plan?  Taste some familiar producers for sure.  But I also like to seek out new to me producers to see if I can discover a gem or two.  I also keep an eye out for wines offer great value.

Pictures

L-R from upper left – Acorn Owners Betsy & Bill Nachbaur, Beekeeper Zins were killer!; Alise of Chase Cellars with Hayne Vyd Reserve, Joel Peterson of Ravensood was pouring 1993 Belloni Zinfandel from magnum; Bedrock Wine Co’s stellar line-up of Zins!

I tasted 95 wines from 40 (including 10 new to me producers) of 90 or so wineries that were pouring.  

My Top 20 favorites were (in alphabetical order):

  • 2012 Acorn Zinfandel Heritage Vines Alegría Vineyards – $45
  • 2013 Bedrock Wine Co. Heritage Wine Evangelho Vineyard – $35
  • 2013 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Old Vine – $25
  • 2013 Bedrock Wine Co. Bedrock Heritage Wine – $45
  • 2012 Beekeeper Cellars Zinfandel Black Sears – $75
  • 2012 Beekeeper Cellars Zinfandel Madrone Spring – $65
  • 2013 Robert Biale Zinfandel R.W. Moore Vineyard – $50
  • 2012 Charter Oak Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard – $50
  • 2011 Chase Zinfandel Reserve Hayne Vineyard – $75
  • 2012 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel Florence Vineyard – $35
  • 2012 Klinker Brick Zinfandel Old Vine Marisa Vineyard – N/A
  • 2012 Kokomo Zinfandel Rockpile – $42
  • 2012 Limerick Lane 1023 – $56
  • 2012 Limerick Lane Zinfandel Block 1910 – $48
  • 2012 Ravenswood Zinfandel Old Hill – $60
  • 1993 Ravenswood Zinfandel Belloni – N/A
  • 2012 Ridge Lytton Springs – $38
  • 2013 Ridge Geyserville – $38
  • 2012 Carol Shelton Wines Zinfandel Rocky Reserve Florence Vineyard – $35
  • 2012 Turley Zinfandel Mead Ranch -$N/A

Conclusion:

Is it just me or is the price of Zinfandel creeping up? I experienced a bit of sticker shock on more than a few of my favorites. Only one of the my favorites was under $30, and more than a third were over $50.  Yikes!

The bombastic, frat-party-gone-wild image might have been useful for establishing an identity for Zinfandel, but now winemakers … prefer to talk about balance, elegance, restraint and food compatibility – Steve Heimoff (Source)

I must say I’m not totally surprised. As the conversation around Zinfandel shifts more toward a more “serious” tone. Why shouldn’t a well-made Zinfandel command the same prices as other more “serious” grape varieties?

Hey…if you make it, and price it over $50, and they will come…More power to you I say!

I did find a few wines that were $20 or less that I’d recommend:

  • 2013 Cline Lodi – $12
  • 2013 Cline Ancient Vines, Contra Costa County – $18
  • 2012 Cline Sonoma County – $20
  • 2012 Pedroncelli Mother Clone, Dry Creek Valley – $17
  • 2012 Pedroncelli Bushnell vineyar, Dry Creek Valley – 20
  • 2012 Carol Shelton Wild Thing Old Vine, Mendocino County – $19
2015 Zinfandel Experience Media Tasting – Top 20 Favorites

Caught this view of the San Francisco skyline as I left Rock Wall Wines…a fitting punctuation point on a day well spent with beautiful wines!

My take on the state of Zinfandel?  The quality of wines made from America’s heritage grape variety has never been better.

As I write this there’s still time to get your Zin on at The Tasting, and Sommelier & Winemaker Terroir Workshops on January 31st!

Get some!

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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.

 

 

Wine of the Week; 2012 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  This week’s wine is the 2012 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Casillero del Diablo Legendary Collection.

The Winery

Casillero del Diablo is one of the many brands of Concha Y Toro, the largest producer of wines from Latin America and is one of the global leaders in wine production. Legend has it that Don Melchor de Santiago Concha y Toro, who founded Concha Y Toro in 1883, created the wine legend of  ”Casillero del Diablo” (which translates to the “Devil’s cellar”) when he spread rumors that the devil lived in the cellar to keep strangers away from his private reserve.

Casillero del Diablo is one of the most popular brands in its native Chile, and the most renown Chilean wine brand in the world. It is sold in 135 countries and they sell around three million cases a year.

Since 2010 has partnered with English Football Club Manchester United. This wine is

The Wine

Fruit for this wine was sourced from the one of Chile’s most promising regions, the Colchagua Valley in central Chile.  The area is known for producing some of Chile’s finest wine, primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere , and Syrah.

This wine is blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Carmenere. It was aged for 14 months in a combination of medium-toasted French and American oak barrels.

14.5% alcohol; Retail – $18

IMG_1409

My tasting notes follow:

Dark garnet color with plum, violet, blackberry, eucalyptus, oak. and dried herb aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied with a supple texture and cassis, blackberry, and a bit of dark chocolate flavors. Medium-long finish.

Rating: B+; I really enjoyed this wine!  While this is a one-time commemorative bottling, this is a Cab I recommend seeking out, especially if you like a bit of “greeness” in your Cab.   It offers very good value!  >>Find this wine<<

Pair with: Grilled meats, stews and hard cheeses

Sample provided for review. Many thanks to Creative Palate Communications!

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.

Wine of the Week; 2012 Sandlands Chenin Blanc

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  This week’s wine the 2012 Sandlands Chenin Blanc is all of the above.

From The Winery

Sandlands is the personal project of Tegan and Olivia Passalacqua. The line-up encompasses the forgotten classic California varieties, primarily grown in decomposed granite (sand), from regions and vineyards that have been farmed for many generations but have remained the outliers of California viticulture. 

Primarily head-trained, dry-farmed and own rooted, the vineyards we work with harken back to California’s roots of exploration, wonder, and hard work.

“…Sandlands, which debuted to the sort of demand about which Napa viscounts only dream. For that, he focused on wines that offer other prisms into California: Carignane from Contra Costa County, Grenache from Placer County and his personal cause celebre, Chenin Blanc”. – Jon Bonne

Passalacqua’s “day job” is winemaker and viticulturist  for Turley Wine Cellars. He, along with Morgan Twain-Peterson of Bedrock Wine Co., were just honored as Winemakers of the Year by San Francisco Chronicle Wine Editor, Jon Bonné.  He was also featured prominently in Bonné’sThe New California Wine – A Guide to the Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste. 

Sandlands wines are available via a mailing list

The Wine

Planted in 1979 and grown at 1500 feet in a mixture of iron rich volcanic, quartz and decomposed granite soils, this vineyard is head-trained, dry-farmed and own rooted. The wine is barrel fermented with native yeasts in 3-5 year old Burgundy barrels and aged on its lees for 15 months with no stirring or racking prior to being bottled unfined and unfiltered.

12.8% alcohol; Retail – $24.00

IMG_1425

My tasting notes follow:
Pale yellow color. Initially opens with wet wool aromas that give way to white peach, apple, Meyer lemon and a bit of wet stone aromas. On the palate its medium-bodied, and dry with wonderful acidity and texture with green apple, white peach, baked apricot, citrus, and a hint of spice flavors. Lingering satisfying finish with a bit of minerality. 12.8% alcohol. Wonderful at the table!
Rating: A-This is a wonderful wine that’s food friendly.  
Pair with: Grilled or pan-fried Paiche, Lemony Quinoa Salad with Pine Nuts, or Sweet and Sour Chicken or Shrimp!

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.  

Wine of the Week; 2012 Castello di Amorosa Pinot Bianco

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  My Wine Of The Week is the 2012 Castello di Amorosa Pinot Bianco

The Winery

Castello di Amorosa is Napa Valley’s own slice of Tuscany.  It’s a winery with its own authentic Tuscan castle (Approximately 121,000 sq. ft., including 107 rooms on 8 levels above and below ground), and one of Napa’s premier “destination” wineries.  While I’m not a huge fan of destination wineries because the wines often take a back seat to whatever the attraction is (they don’t call Napa Valley “adult Disneyland for nothing;-), Castello di Amorosa is an exception.  In addition to a great experience touring an authentic Tuscan castle (complete with a torture chamber), you’ll find plenty of  ”better” and “best” wines rather than simply ” good” wine.

The story is how the castle came to be is fascinating (click here for history of the project). When Dario Sattui who also owns and operates the V. Sattui Winery, conceived the idea his thought was…

 I would specialize in making small lots of primarily Italian-style wines, showcase them in an authentic, medieval castle setting and sell them directly to the public, not in stores or restaurants.

Castello di Amorosa offers a wide array of wines.  In addition to the wines one would expect to find at a Napa Valley winery, (Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel) they also offer three Gewüztraminers (dry, slightly sweet, and late harvest), various Red, Rosé, and White Italian varietals, Muscato Canelli port, and a slightly sweet, sparkling Rosé!

Castello di Amorosa produces about 8,000 cases a year.  The wines are only available at the winery, through its wine club, or online (www.castellodiamorosa.com).

The Wine

Pinot Bianco (Pinot Blanc) is a member of the Pinot family that includes Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Meunier.  It is a crisp, dry white wine originally from France’s Burgundy region. Today, it has found an important place in Alsace, Northeastern Italy as well as California.

Wine of the Week; 2012 Castello Pinot Bianco
My tasting notes follow:
Pale yellow green color with melon, subtle pineapple, apricot, and citrus aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, dry and clean with vibrant acidity, and melon, pineapple, lemon, orange rind, apricot and bit of spice baking spice flavors Lingering finish. 13.9% alcohol

Rating: A-; This is a wonderful wine that’s food friendly.  

Pair with: Seafood gumboCreole Grilled Shrimp RollsThai-Style Chicken Legs , or your favorite hors d’oeuvres.

Wines provided as a samples for review.  Many thanks to Castello di Amorosa and Julie Ann Kodmur
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.