by Sandra Crittenden

by Sandra Crittenden

Saturday, August 10, 2019

A Tropical Staycation with Spy Valley E Block

After a fair amount of traveling this summer with more still to come, I was looking forward to spending time at home with my family this week. Both of my millennial children have recently moved back to Houston but the home-cooked meals have been few and far between. I had recently received a sample of the Spy Valley E Block Sauvignon Blanc 2017 along with an invitation to participate in an on-line tasting with the Wine Pairing Weekend group (find them online under the hashtag #Winepw), this became the inspiration for this family gathering.

I gleefully sent out a group text, "I'm grilling poolside tonight, be home by 7:30 p.m. to eat, come earlier if you want to swim." I am surrounded by funny people as the responses reflect, "Who is this?", "What have you done with my mom?", "Not a good night, Bachelor in Paradise is on."

I was undeterred, I knew that they would come. I pulled the bottle out of the wine fridge to investigate what I was serving. The label had a wealth of information on it including, of course, the origin of the grapes, Waihopai Valley. While I certainly know a fair amount about Marlborough, it is New Zealand's largest wine producing region, Waihopai Valley was not a subregion with which I was familiar. A quick google search got me up to speed.

Per Wikipedia, "Waihopai Valley is an area near Blenheim in the Marlborough region of the South Island of New Zealand. The Waihopai River drains the area. The Government Communications Security Bureau operates what it describes as a satellite communications monitoring facility in the Waihopai Valley, which it GCSB Waihopai. It has been identified as being part of ECHELON, the worldwide network of signals interception facilities run by UKUSA consortium of intelligence agencies." 

How interesting, plus, it explained the winery's name. I decided to make a low prep dinner because I was working on a magazine deadline in conjunction with being an exemplary wife and mother. I also really wanted to make sure that I had time to enjoy a glass of wine in the pool before my guests arrived.

As soon as my article was submitted, I went grocery shopping without too much of a plan besides light and summery. As soon as I had everything prepped and ready at home, I opened the bottle and gave myself a generous pour before heading outside. The first sniff made me wish that I had bought the Texas Peach salsa instead of the one I had chosen. 

The Spy Valley E Block Sauvignon Blanc 2017 is loaded with aromas and flavors of fresh ripe peach. It also has notes of melon and tropical fruit with a distinct mineral edge from start to finish. Fresh and beautifully balanced with moderate alcohol and bright acidity, this wine had a pleasing texture and was a delight to drink. The light tropical note dances with the minerality through the lingering finish.

The dinner that I prepared was simple to make yet still a big hit with the family. Aside from the wine, everything came from Whole Foods - sustainably sourced food to go with my sustainably produced wine. We started with Hatchamole served with tortilla chips, heads up, that guacamole was spicier than I expected. Second course, I bought their in-store prepared jumbo lump crab cakes and cut them in half to make  normal sized cakes and gave each a little sprinkle of Mexican seasoning. I sautéed them in butter and topped them with warm pineapple-mango salsa. My husband and I each had one before the kids arrived because we were hungry and they were a little late. For our main course, I grilled jumbo shrimp skewers with peppers, onion, and tomatoes with more of the salsa on the side. I also grilled some fresh corn just because it is summer.
The wine was excellent with everything. It helped cool down the heat of the guacamole and was a great complement for both the crab cakes and the grilled shrimp. After dinner, we did turn on Bachelor in Paradise. It fit my tropical theme and added some drama and entertainment to an otherwise quiet evening, the wine definitely made the show more palatable as well.

I highly recommend the wine and this easy dinner for your next tropical staycation at home.

Join the discussion about New Zealand Wine on Twitter on Saturday morning by following at #WinePW. You can participate in this live chat at 11:00 ET, 10:00 CT, or 8:00 PT. 

You can also check out the other participating writers below and get their thoughts and menu ideas for pairing with an array of New Zealand wines. 

Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be making Hāngī in a Dutch Oven + Gimblett Gravels Malbec 2017
Linda of My Full Wine Glass will be posting New NZ wine, old Sicilian dish
Jane of Always Ravenous will be pairing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Paired with Fresh Flavors of Late Summer
Cindy of Grape Experiences will show how to Beat the Heat with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Chilled Cucumber Soup with Mint
Gwen at Wine Predator will be pairing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with Zesty Arugula Kale Pesto Pizza and Salad 
Jennifer of Vino Travels Italy demonstrates Seeing the Potential of North Canterbury, NZ at Mt. Beautiful Winery
David of Cooking Chat  will be pairing Tomato Caprese Salad with Pesto and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Pinny of Chinese Food and Wine Pairings will be serving New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Pan-fried Chinese Potstickers
Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm will be Discovering New Zealand Wines
Cynthia and Pierre of Traveling Wine Profs will be sipping New Zealand Chardonnay with a view of… The Pyrenees
Rupal the Syrah Queen will be drinking New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with Grilled Mediterranean Swordfish
Lori of Exploring the Wine Glass, is thankful that Humans May Only Be 5%, But They Make Great Wine

Tuesday, August 6, 2019


As seen in the August issue of Galveston Monthly magazine

Mourvèdre is becoming more well-known in Texas as more and more grape growers and wineries focus on this grape. This month, we take a look at where else it is grown in the world and give recommendations for top picks.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Going Organic at Château Peyruche

On one of Bordeaux's hottest days this summer, I rode with Chateau Peyruche's owner, Bertrand Weisgerber up into the vineyard to meet winemaker and vineyard manager, David Sarry, to learn more about their conversion to organic farming. Along the way, Weisgerber shared that locals refer to this area as "little Tuscany" because of the rolling hills and bucolic landscape.

Château Peyruche sits on the small hillsides of Langoiran which overlooks the Garonne River in the Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux region. The name comes from old French words meaning "rough stone." The estate is built on these calcareous rocks. The house was built in at least the 15th century, if not earlier, and was renovated in the 17th century. Weisgerber is now in the midst of renovating it again.

Weisgerber purchased the estate in early 2017. He had always wanted his own winery and upon seeing the historic property, he immediately fell in love with it. He quickly hired David Sarry to begin the three year long process of converting the estate to certified organic.

The vineyards are primarily planted with Merlot vines with some Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Sémillon, and Sauvignon Blanc. Sarry explained that as hot and dry weather becomes more typical, they are planning on planting more Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot which are later ripening varieties to help manage alcohol levels.

Weisgerber shared that the property had enjoyed greater biodiversity in the 19th century and they were hoping to regain some of that with their care of the estate now. He pointed out some nearby walnut trees and he also added that the surrounding woods has led to some animal traffic coming through the vineyard. We headed back to the Château for a tour of the renovation, a tasting, and some lunch.

The wines:

Château Peyruche Bordeaux Blanc 2018 - After an erratic spring that brought lots of rain and hail threats, the year evolved into a beautiful summer and fall with a smooth harvest. The wine is a blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Sémillon grown on gravel, red clay and and limestone soils. The wine was fresh and bright with white nectarine and pear with hints of spice and floral notes. The wine has a rich, rounded feel from lees aging that was done partially in barrel. It was an elegant pairing with the local oysters.

Château Peyruche Bordeaux Rosé 2018 - Fruity and fresh with aromas and flavors of mixed red berries and a lingering finish, this Merlot rosé is ideal in the summer but can be enjoyed with simple seafood dishes all year.

Château Peyruche Côtes de Bordeaux 'Fûts de Chêne 2015 - This blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon came from a year that many have described as ideal. The wine is aged partially in new oak and partially in used oak for 12-14 months. Aromatic and fresh with cherry, berries, and plum, the wine is well-structured with a tannic backbone and a persistent spicy finish.

Château Peyruche Côtes de Bordeaux 'Fûts de Chêne 2017 - This was a low yielding year due to spring frosts. It is also a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged in both new and used barrels for 12-14 months. The wine displays rich cherry and cassis aromas and flavors with a good tannic structure and a lengthy, slightly spicy finish.
Château Peyruche Cadillac 2017 - Spring frosts also made this a very limited production wine. Loaded with honeysuckle aromas and tropical flavors, this sweet wine is fresh and rich with a creamy feel all the way through the lingering finish.

All of these wines are highly recommended.