Monday, October 25, 2010

2009 Frenzy Sauvignon Blanc

     I have served the 2009 Frenzy Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, a few times and it has always been well-received. It is a clear, very pale wine that is freshly aromatic with grapefruit, lime and bell pepper with a bit of grassiness. It has flavors of pineapple, grapefruit, bell pepper and dried basil with a zesty acidity and a bit of saltiness in its long tart finish.
     I have served it alone as a patio sipper, with grilled vegetables and tilapia, as well as with cold boiled shrimp for an appetizer. It has worked well each time. Very good, very affordable wine!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Houston Cellar Classic-The Grand Tasting Experience

     The Grand Tasting Experience held yesterday at The Tasting Room at Uptown Park was the finale of the three day Houston Cellar Classic-A Celebration of Wine & Food. Houston-area winelovers came in droves to taste over ninety wines and sample menu items from local restaurants. 
     The parking lot was partitioned off to provide tent space for food booths. This allowed wine tasters to have small snacks between tastings with diverse offerings such as cheese plates from the Houston Dairy Maids, lettuce wraps from Pei Wei, fried chicken from Max's Wine Dive, shrimp ceviche from Frank's Chop House and risotto from Ristorante Cavour, just to name a few.
     On the patio and inside, there were about fifteen tasting stations to accommodate the large crowd who sipped and swirled through. I only tasted nineteen of the offerings, I intentionally skipped several good ones that I am already too familiar with in an effort to find some new treasures.
     The 1999 Pommery Cuvee Louise-Champagne was subtle perfection. Other favorites were Nickel & Nickel Ponzo Zinfandel, Numanthia Termes-Tempranillo, Two Hands Bellas Garden Shiraz, Benziger Tribute and "M" Cabernet Sauvignon by Michael Mondavi.
     The crowd was a friendly group of enthusiastic wine lovers all ready to share their thoughts on the many different wines. A good time was had by all and money was raised to support JDRF-Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International. The Houston Cellar Classic is an annual event that should not be missed if you are a lover of food and wine.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lust Zinfandel 2007

     My husband loves this wine so he purchased quite a few bottles at a recent Michael~David dinner that we had attended. Last night, I decided to open a bottle to serve with dinner. I was making a roasted southwestern pork tenderloin, sweet potato fries (w/ chipolte ketchup) and a salad consisting of baby lettuce (fresh from my garden) with strawberries, red bell peppers, red onions and walnuts tossed with a white balsamic-raspberry vinaigrette.
     This turned out to be a great pairing. It is a bold wine that really stood up to the strong chipolte seasoning while complementing the fruit flavors. I opened the bottle a 1/2 hour before I served it as I have found this wine to be more enjoyable when I do so.
     The Lust Zinfandel by Michael~David 2007 was a dark purple color with a ruby rim. It has intense aromas of very ripe mixed berries and baking spices-both allspice and ginger with hints of cedar. It has flavors of creme de cassis, milk chocolate and also more of the baking spices. It is very structured with firm tannins and a long creamy, heavy fruit finish.

Related post: Michael-David Wine Dinner at Max"s Wine Dive

Monday, October 18, 2010

2006 Fontanella Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

     I hate to say that I am not sure who gave me this bottle, but what a nice gift! I had slow-simmered a beef stew all evening. I keep waiting for the cool weather to hit us here in Houston, TX, (it was 82 for most of the day but I am ready for a season change) and randomly, through the grace of Bacchus, made this wine selection. Turned out, I chose a really easy-drinking, light to medium bodied cab which was perfect with my stew.
     I found the 2006 Fontanella Cabernet Sauvignon to have a medium ruby-colored core with a rosy rim. It was lightly scented with blackberry, dried sage and violets. It was well-balanced and well-structured with refined tannins, flavors of blackberry, dried cherry and a hint of nutmeg. It had a pleasant, medium-length earthy finish.
It was delightful as an accompaniment to the light beef stew but will probably be even better with some age. I definitely want to check out this winery on my next trip to Napa!

 

2006 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon

     Last night, we enjoyed one of my favorite wines from Napa Valley, a bottle of 2006 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon. I almost always have a bottle of this in the house and it is one that my husband and I frequently order at restaurants when we are having any type of steak. We have introduced numerous friends to this wine and they always love it.
     On the nose, there is intense black cherry with vanilla and smoky aromas; on the palate, there is more rich black cherry flavor with dark chocolate and a bit of chili pepper. It is always perfectly balanced. A medium+ body with mild tannins ending with a lightly spicy, fruit-filled lingering silky finish. Always absolutely perfect!

Friday, October 15, 2010

2008 Selbach Riesling

     I purchased this bottle of 2008 Selbach Riesling from Spec's Wine & Spirits for about $14. It was produced in the Mosel region of Germany. In the glass, it is a clear, pale straw color with a watery rim. It has clean, crisp aromas of lemon pith, peach and a bit of slate. On the palate, it has flavors of lemon verbena, granny smith apple, a touch of honey with a mineral edge. It is a well-balanced off-dry wine (just the barest hint of sweetness) with low alcohol (10%), high acidity and a lingering light citrus finish. Very refreshing, a nice wine at a nice price!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Steve Burgess of Burgess Cellars at The Tasting Room at Uptown Park

     The Tasting Room has added the 2006 Burgess Cellars Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon to its wine list. To promote their latest addition, Steve Burgess came to Houston to meet and greet with local wine lovers at the Uptown Park location. Although Steve grew up on the Burgess property, he did not join the family business until 2005. He helps out with all aspects of the business but primarily focuses on sales and marketing.
     Their Cabernet is blended with some Cab Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petite Verdot. It starts with spicy aromas with ripe berries. It has rich flavors of blackberry, cherry and cocoa with just a bit of oak. It is full-bodied with smooth tannins and a long creamy, hint of vanilla finish. 
     I was lucky enough to get to taste their Merlot and Syrah as well. The Merlot is a 100% varietal and to quote Steve, "a real crowd pleaser"; it is one of those Cab-lover Merlots. Full-bodied, with rich aromas of black cherries and plums, same flavor profile with a hint of mint or eucalyptus and a touch of smoke, ending with a silky finish. Their Syrah is blended with Grenache, it has aromas of blueberries and raspberries with a bit of licorice, fruity flavors of mixed berries and cherries with some chocolate to balance the slightly oaky, more firmly tannic finish. Both promise to be very food-friendly.
     Burgess Cellars has an outstanding reputation for making wines that are all perfectly balanced due to a true understanding of how best to utilize their terroir. All of their wines are crafted from estate grapes sourced from their three vineyards. The 2006 Burgess Cellars Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a must-try on your next visit to TTR.  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Houston enjoys a Taste of Napa Valley

     The Napa Valley Vintners Association was in Houston this week. Almost 70 wineries were represented with about 200 wines at Minute Maid Park yesterday afternoon. Locals in the media and wine trade flocked to the event to taste the latest offerings from Napa Valley. Although I did my best, I was unable to make it through the entire line-up. I am just going to comment on some of my favorites although there were many more noteworthy wines.
     My top pick amongst the Sauvignon Blancs was 2009 Conspire from Rutherford. It was a beautifully balanced wine with honeysuckle floral aromas with hints of minerality and citrus notes. It had flavors of pineapple and kiwi, bright acidity and a creamy tropical finish. Other Sauv Blanc favorites were from John Anthony Vineyards, Peju and Heitz Wine Cellars. St Supery's Virtu, a white Bordeaux-styled blend, had both cantaloupe and peach aromas and flavors with a refreshing acidity and was absolutely fantastic as well. Both the 2008 Monticello and Pahlmeyer Chardonnays were very good but the 2008 Signorello Vielles Vignes Chardonnay had multiple layers of flavors and was so well-balanced that I felt it was the most outstanding. 
     There was an overwhelming number of Napa Valley reds to try and so many deserve mention but I will keep it as short as possible. My Pinot Noir top picks were 2008 Trinitas Cellars and the 2008 40th Anniversary from ZD Wines. The Blackbird Vineyards entire line is noteworthy but the 2007 Illustration, a Merlot dominated blend, deserves special mention with its intense aromas of plum, black cherry, smoke and mint with flavors of ripe plums, berries, dark chocolate and licorice with smooth tannins and a long succulent finish. Left bank Bordeaux-styled favorites included 2005 St Supery Elu, the 2005 Sodaro Estate Blend and 2007 Facets of Gemstone. Cabernet top choices were 2006 Gemstone "Ten", 2005 Schweiger Vineyards Spring Mountain2004 Peju HB and the 2005 Meander. Both the Zinfandel and the interesting "Porque no" blend by Tres Sabores were also very enjoyable.
     Schramsberg Vineyards was offering tastes of four styles of sparkling wine: 2006 Blanc de Noirs, 2006 Brut Rose, 2007 Blanc de Blanc and 2001 J Schram Signature. Each of these was an exceptional example of each style all made in the traditional method; crisply acidic and food friendly.
     As I stated, this is the short list from a long list of truly outstanding wines. After my taste of Napa, I just find myself wanting more, so get ready to drink up, Houston, some great wines are coming our way.

Monday, October 11, 2010

2007 Luna Vineyards Napa Valley Red Wine

     After a hearty late lunch yesterday afternoon, we kept dinner simple. By that, I mean we opened a bottle of the newly released 2007 Luna Vineyards Napa Valley Red Wine and I made an assorted cheese plate with crackers and almonds. This wine is a Bordeaux-styled blend made from 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot primarily sourced from Howell Mountain.  
     In the glass, it was a dark garnet red with aromas of blackberries and cedar. It had rich flavors of sweet cherries and berries and cocoa with smooth tannins and a medium length peppery finish.
     It was a delicious easy-drinking wine that should be even more interesting after some time in the cellar.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

California vs Bordeaux Wine Tasting

     I attended a California vs Bordeaux wine tasting last night. The wines we tasted from Bordeaux were 1994 Chateau Mouton Rothschild Premier Cru Classe-Pauillac, 1999 Chateau Rochebelle Grand Cru-St Emilion and 2004 Chateau Pontet-Canet Cru Classe-Pauillac. The California Cabernet Sauvignons were 2005 Clos Pegase Napa Valley, 2005 Silver Oak Winery-Alexander Valley and 2006 Flora Springs Winery-Napa Valley. 
     My favorite Bordeaux of the three was the Chateau Pontet-Canet. It was a deep ruby with mild aromas of red cherry, smoky tobacco and licorice and had flavors of juicy blackberry, vanilla and hints of oak. It was well-balanced with smooth tannins and a dry, slightly oaky finish.
My favorite from California was the Clos Pegase. It was garnet colored with aromas of creme de cassis, cherry, leather and cedar and had flavors of black cherry, ripe plum and cocoa. It was also well-balanced with smooth tannins and had a toasty, ripe berry finish.
While all of the wines were good, we did order a bottle of the Clos Pegase to have with dinner.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Napa Grille-Urban Wine Bar

     Today, I met a friend for lunch at the Napa Grille Urban Wine Bar in Sugar Land. I had not been there in a couple of months so I was surprised to see that they had expanded and were now twice the size from my last visit and had also gone to a full bar. It was a beautiful day and they had it all opened up to enjoy it.
     We sat on the edge of outside and checked out the new menu. I ordered the bleu cheese angus burger and a glass of 2007 Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet. The burger was huge, coated with bleu cheese and topped with a hunk of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and red onion strings and came with a big side of fries. The wine was very good though not a complex, serious drinker; it was perfect with my lunch. It was just an easy-drinking cab, bright ruby colored, fresh aromas of ripe cherries, light in style, very fruity flavors of blackberry and plum with hints of vanilla and cedar with light tannins and a light lingering finish.
     I am now looking forward to my next evening trip to the Napa Grille to try out some of the new menu items while listening to some live music. The re-do looks terrific and there are some great specials as well.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hope at the Vineyard on the Square

     Tonight, we went to The Vineyard wine bar in Town Square in Sugar Land where they were having a complimentary wine tasting of Hope Estate wines. The tasting was to kick-off a month long promotion where The Vineyard will be donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Hope Estate wines (by the glass or bottle) to the Breast Cancer Network of Strength.
     Winemaker, Ryan McCann, was there to talk about Hope Estate wines and the Hope Estate vineyards in Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Australia. The owner, Michael Hope, has transformed an historic estate into a dynamic new venue with a new dining establishment called Harvest Restaurant and an amphitheatre. Hope Estate now provides a fantastic location for premium wine, fine dining, private functions and spectacular outdoor concerts and events. They have had Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, The Who, Chris Issak and Whitney Houston all perform.
     It was obvious that Ryan McCann loves his life. He lives on-site at the vineyard, sees the concerts from his front yard, does private tastings with some of the performers and makes fantastic wine. I tasted his 2007 Chardonnay and Shiraz. I particularly liked the Shiraz. It was a dark ruby color with aromas of blackberry, plums and brown spices. It was well-balanced with smooth tannins and flavors of juicy blackberries, a bit of chocolate with a spicy, peppery finish.
     The wines will be at The Vineyard all month so go and enjoy a good wine and support a great cause, as Hope Estate says, "Where there's wine...there's Hope."

Friday, October 1, 2010

October is Texas Wine Month

     The history of wine in Texas starts much the same as everywhere else in the Americas. It began in the 1600’s when Spanish missionaries started cultivating grapes at the Ysleta Mission which was located in the present day El Paso area. Out of these humble beginnings grew an industry that today produces 2.4 million gallons of wine and over $1 billion dollars in revenue annually from its more than 160 wineries.

     This industry has also increased tourism with nearly a million visitors each year taking the opportunity to visit Texas Wine Country. "Texas is one of the fastest-growing wine destinations in the country," says Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. Charming winery bed and breakfasts, boutique cellars and large wineries on huge vineyards provide a diverse experience.

     The Texas Department of Agriculture has created a “Texas Winery Passport” to help you get started on your wine country adventure. This can be picked up at any Texas winery or tasting room. Track your visits by entering each one’s code on the passport and start redeeming for wine traveler’s rewards after just four stops. More information on this can be found at http://www.gotexanwine.org/.

     They also have suggestions on how to plan your trip starting with selecting one of the four regions. There are many miles involved in a complete tour of Texas’ wine country so they have broken it down into eight Texas Wine Trails. Each trail offers a unique taste of each of the different regions. Texas Wine Month is a great time to start as it has developed into a state-wide wine promotion. Sales incentives, winery tours, wine festivals, in-store tastings, restaurant pairings and many other activities will increase the fun. Be sure to consult the calendar of events to get the most from your trip.

     Texas Wine Month is celebrated each October as the harvest winds down at most Texas vineyards. Come now and see why Texas is the 5th largest producer of wine in the U.S. 
    
     No matter where you are this month, be sure to pick up a bottle of Texas’ finest and give a toast to the Lone Star State. As Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said, “The Texas Wine industry has come of age” and that is a very good reason to share a bottle of Texas wine.