Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving with Wines of Alsace

Are you looking for a sparkling wine, white wine or dessert wine for your holiday meal? Wines of Alsace created a Thanksgiving wine pairing plan to make your day both easier and more delicious. 

Check out their chart and my suggested wines before you head out to do your holiday wine shopping. 

  • Lucien Albrecht Cremant D'Alsace Brut NV - The grapes for this dry, sparkling wine were hand picked and the wine was produced in the traditional method with a minimum of 18 months aging on the lees. Crisp and refreshing with light notes of green apple and citrus; perfect for appetizers, the cheese course and beyond. I have enjoyed both this style and the rosé version many times. This wine was a media sample. Suggested Retail Price: $21.99
  • 2013 Frey Sohler Reserve Pinot Blanc Vin D' Alsace- This dry white wine has light aromas of honeysuckle with fruity flavors of pear and melon. It is light, fresh and easy-drinking. Versatile with the varied vegetable side dishes and delicious with the turkey, too. This wine was a media sample. Suggested Retail Price: $11.99 
  • 2010 Trimbach Alsace Pinot Blanc- I recently enjoyed the last of 6 bottles that I had purchased of this wine. If you can find this vintage, buy it and enjoy it now. This dry white wine has aromas of melon and green apple with a light hint of honeysuckle. It has light honeyed flavors with a subtle tropical note and a bit of spice in the lingering finish. Elegant and delicious. Suggested Retail Price: $18.99 
  • 2013 Jean-Baptiste Adam Alsace Reserve Riesling- I purchased this wine at a Spec's in Houston at the suggestion of one of their wine guys. This dry white wine has light fruity aromas and flavors of lemon, green apple and apricot with fresh acidity and a clean finish. Food friendly and a great value. Suggested Retail Price $10.99.
All are highly recommended wines.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Desiderio Jeio Prosecco Brut

Sparkling Wine of the Week: 
Desiderio Jeio Brut Prosecco* 
This non-vintage sparkling wine is produced by the Bisol family in northeastern Italy from 100% Glera grapes. The family has been producing wine in the Valdobbiadene region for over 400 years. 
This DOC Prosecco wine is dry and refreshing with fruity aromas of peach and sweet citrus with a light floral note. It has flavors of green apple and melon with a soft lingering finish. Perfect with weekend brunch at home, approximately $15. 
*Media Sample

Friday, November 13, 2015

"My Spain" A Seminar and Tasting with Karen MacNeil

Author of The Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil, was in Houston this week to share some of her thoughts on the wines of Spain with local wine trade and media at a seminar and tasting held before the Spain's Great Match event. On the panel with Karen were Camarata at Paulie's wine bar owner, David Keck, and wine educator, Mark Rashap of The Iluminated Bottle.

The Tasting:
  1. 2014 Bengoetxe Txakolina, Txakoli de Getaria (SRP $19)- Txakoli, pronounced sha-KO-lee, is from the Basque region in northern Spain and is made from an indigenous grape called Hondarribi Zuri. The wines of the region are typically bone dry and are defined by citrus, a briny minerality and what Karen describes as "a buzz of acidity". This dry white wine made from organically grown grapes had a smoky/savory character that Karen said was more unique to the producer, Bengoetxe, than the region. Fresh and food friendly-perfect with sheep cheeses and Serrano ham, versatile enough for poultry and seafood.
  2. 2014 Fillaboa Albarino, Rias Baixas (SRP $20)- Karen called this one "a complete sensory wine", one that provides pleasure from beginning to end. Aromatic, but not perfumed, with fruity aromas of fresh peach and melon with pineapple flavors, refreshing acidity and a bit of salinity in the lingering finish. This dry, white wine is produced in what is known as Green Spain along the northwestern coastline. David referred to it as "a wine with a Viognier nose and a Riesling palate".  Crisp, pleasant and easy-drinking, it makes a great pairing for coastal cuisine.
  3. 2014 Bodegas Abad Dom Bueno Godello Joven, Bierzo (SRP $15)- Bierzo is located west of Rias Baixas in the rocky mountains of northwestern Spain. This dry white wine is produced from the indigenous thicker-skinned Godello grape variety from a more inland vineyard with heavier clay-based soils giving the wine a rich texture and what Karen calls "the good bitterness" or a slight bitter phenolic character in the finish. Delicate peach and grapefruit aromas and flavors with a stony minerality, a slight autolytic character and a light peppery finish, an excellent wine for heavier vegetarian or poultry dishes 
  4. 2014 Pago de Valdoneje Vinas Viejas, Bierzo (SRP $15)- This dry red wine was made from Mencia grapes from old vines planted in the 1920's. Mencia tends to produce more savory rather than fruity wines. Mark introduced this as "a really groovy wine" which showcases the terroir of the region. Rich and deep with leather and black cherry with grippy tannins and good acidity and a gaminess in the finish. David described it as burly, smoky and oaky with chunky tannins while Karen called it a "mountain structured red". It is big and bold and beckons you back for more.
  5. 2007 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Rioja Riserva (SRP $33)- Karen described this dry, red wine as having "a sweet, langorous, addictively complete beat." A high quality, traditional Rioja with coconut, leather, cherry, earth and spice with a light lingering dill note in the long finish.
  6. 2014 Alvaro Palacios "Camins" Priorat (SRP $22)- The rocky, black granite soils of Priorat support a variety of red grapes such as those used in this blend- Garnacha, Carinena, Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot. David said he likes Priorat wines because they have a sense of place  and you truly taste the soil. He called this wine "aggressive, yet balanced with power and structure." Intense with dark fruit, black pepper and an earthy note, Karen said this wine's allure comes from a "sense of corruption" or "an unspeakable darkness underneath the fruit."
  7. 2010 Numanthia, Toro (SRP $45)- Powerful, structured, intense, tannic and raw; Karen called this "the wine equivalent of Burning Man". The terroir of Toro delivers the more powerful structure to this Tempranillo wine which was then aged almost two years in new French oak. The panel felt this wine had a long life ahead of it and would continue to improve as it became further integrated. 
  8. Gonzalez Byass Apostoles Palo Cortado Sherry (SRP $55 for half-bottle)- A blend of Palomino and Pedro Ximenez, this rare style of Sherry has pronounced caramel and dried fruit aromas with a rich texture and a never-ending finish. Aged for thirty years, Karen said the addition of Pedro Ximenez is what changes the dynamic of this sherry and adds the textural richness. 
As the room grew quiet as many in the room pondered this type of wine for their first time, Karen said, "It's drinking us" and it seemed to be true.

All of the wines are highly recommended and worth seeking out.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

2012 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs

Sparkling Wine of the Week:

2012 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs- This north coast California sparkling wine is made in the traditional method from Chardonnay grapes sourced from cool climate vineyards. It is partially fermented in barrel for added complexity and small lots undergo malolactic fermentation before blending for a creamier texture. This wine spends approximately two years aging on its lees before it is disgorged which helps the wine to maintain its fresh taste. 

Crisp, dry, refreshing with classic aromas of green apple and lemon with honeysuckle hints and a clean, mineral-laced finish.

Perfect with hot buttered popcorn on movie night at home, approximately $40.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Rodney Strong Vineyards

In the November issue of Galveston Monthly magazine:
"Rodney Strong Vineyards has been making wine ever since it became Sonoma County's 13th bonded winery in 1959. Rodney Strong was a professional dancer trained at the American School of Ballet. He returned to California from Paris in the early 1950's and realized that his experience with French wine and food had created a new American dream in him..."
Read the full story complete with wine picks and a seasonal recipe in the November edition of Galveston Monthly magazine on pages 49-51.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tasting at Fall Creek Vineyards in Driftwood

Open less than a year, the second location of Fall Creek Vineyards now sits on the Driftwood Wine Trail. While in the area for a Texas Wine Month celebration dinner, my husband and I stopped in to check it out and enjoy a tasting. 

The new facility is a renovated former private home surrounded by butterfly gardens and native Texas plants. The tasting room opens out onto a relaxing tasting patio complete with a water feature. Some food is available in the form of a small bites menu with options such as cheese trays, pâté and bread or a grilled cheese sandwich.

Fall Creek Vineyards is one of the oldest and most respected wine producers in the state. This second location has allowed them to expand. The property sits on 17 acres by the Salt Lick Vineyards, the source of some of their single vineyard wines. They are planting vines across the front with more planned.

We sat out under the covered portion of the patio and I tasted the premium series for $15 which is a choice of six wines from either the Vintner's Selection and/or Terroir Reflections Series.

My Tasting:
  • 2015 Sauvignon Blanc-  Honeydew melon with a lime pith finish. SRP $21.99
  • 2014 Chardonnay-  Apple with citrus, clean finish SRP $21.99
  • 2015 Grenache Rosé- Refreshing, strawberry and grapefruit with a floral note. SRP $21.99
  • 2013 GSM Blend Salt Lick Vineyards- Chewy, plum and coffee with a slight earthiness, long finish. SRP $45.99
  • 2012 Tempranillo Salt Lick Vineyards- Dark ripe berries with leather and baking spice. SRP $29.99
  • 2012 Dotson Cervantes "Gotas de Oro"- A dessert wine made from a 50/50 blend of Muscat Canelli and Chardonnay. Sweet and citrusy. SRP $27.99
Fall Creek Vineyards in Driftwood offers quality 100% Texas wines to taste while enjoying the beautiful surroundings. I particularly enjoyed the Chardonnay, the Rosé and the GSM.