Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - Tasting at Rivers Marie

My cousin-in-law on his never-ending quest to convert me into a pinot drinker invited me to come taste through the lineup of pinots at Rivers Marie.  While there's no actual tasting room open to the public, if you can get your hands on a bottle of these wines I promise you won't be disappointed.

We started with their two 2012 chardonnays.  Light, balanced, easy to drink, and very enjoyable!

Next up, their 4 different 2012 pinots.  Ranging in AVA as well as blended vs. single vineyard production.  My favorite was the 2012 Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast.  A little bit fuller bodied than the others with bright acidity and red juicy fruit.  

We ended with their 2012 cabernet sauvignon.  Much fuller bodied, more complex tannins, definitely something that can lay down for a few years.  

A fun afternoon exploring the world of Rivers Marie, Thanks B.J. for having me!  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - Tasting at Vine Cliff Winery

While at home I got to stop by and check out the new tasting room for Vine Cliff Winery.  While the winery estate is located in Oakville off of Silverado Trail, this new tasting room just outside of St. Helena is a great place to stop off and taste while cruising up highway 29.  And with Dean & Deluca right next door, it's a great picnic spot as well.  The winery offers cheese and charcuterie pairings but welcomes outside food as well if you want to BYO.  

The wines were delicious as well!  My favorite was the 2012 Los Carneros Chardonnay.  Bright, crisp and clean, it was an easy wine that would pair well with any meal, or just as easily enjoyed on it's own :-) 

I really enjoyed all of the wines and the casual vibe of the tasting room as well.  I will definitely be on the lookout for more Vine Cliff wines and can't wait to visit the winery estate for a tasting or cave tour when I'm home next!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - Wine Tasting at Aubert

I'm home for the week, celebrating multiple occasions including my 10-year high school reunion (!!!) and a dear friend's wedding.  From the moment I landed I've been drinking some amazing wine!  

Last Friday we were treated to a special private tasting at Aubert in Calistoga.  Known for both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, we tasted through some of their best including the 2012 Larry Hyde & Sons Chardonnay, 2012 CIX Estate Chardonnay, 2009 Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay, and the 2012 UV-SL Vineyard Pinot Noir.   

Special shout out on the personalized tasting menu!

All of the wines were delicious and incredibly balanced.  

The Larry Hyde Chardonnay was light and acidic, we referred to it as a "lunch wine" that we could drink all day long.  It had quite a spicy, mineral nose with hints of gun flint and citrus.  

The CIX Estate Chardonnay had a more intense mineral nose, with a touch of petrol that is more typical of Riesling.  This wine was definitely fuller bodied and would pair perfectly with any meal; our "dinner wine".  

The 2009 Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay had the most depth of the 3.  The nose was full of honeyed lemon and butterscotch.  The palette was extremely luscious and buttery; it paired perfectly with our salty/sweet bites of prosciutto and melon.  

We finished off with one Pinot Noir, the 2012 UV-SL Vineyard from the Sonoma coast.  The nose was bursting with rich, ripe, red fruits, strawberries in particular.  The palette had the structure of a cab, bold and bright but balanced with the varietal characteristics of a Pinot.   

The lineup
Insider's secret - off-duty people in the wine business drink beer…
A good way to avoid jet-lag….just keep drinking!
Due to the limited production, wines are sold through allocations to wine club members.  If you are planning a visit to the Napa Valley and looking for a special tasting experience off the beaten path with some fabulous wines, I would highly suggest making an appointment at Aubert.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - Kendeis 2012 Roussanne

I enjoyed this wine on the 4th of July with grilled lobster, zucchini with mint, parsley, and Parmesan, and grilled romaine.  The juicy, creamy wine was the perfect compliment to the rich, buttery lobster!  

Having little experience with Roussanne, I was pleasantly surprised by this wine; heavier bodied, with a golden straw-yellow color.  The nose was a burst of butterscotch and browned butter.  The palette was a great balance of bright apple/pear and vanilla with a touch of oak coming through.  What at first felt a bit heavy mellowed out when paired with food and only continued to get better.   

I received this bottle through my shipment last summer but sadly it looks to be sold out.  Knowing how much I enjoyed this varietal I'll be sure to lookout for more Roussannes in the future; a great alternative to a bold chardonnay and a perfect summer food wine!

Wine:  2012 Kendeis Roussane 
Price: $11.99 but no longer available
Would buy again: Yes

Friday, July 4, 2014

Gluten Free Lemon Bars for 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!!  I hope everyone is enjoying the 3-day weekend.  I'm out at the beach celebrating with lots and lots of rose :-)

Highlights from last year at home
For anyone that has a bbq, picnic, or party to attend this weekend I would highly recommend making these lemon bars.  They feel a little more wholesome with a gluten-free almond meal crust, minimal sugar, and taste amazing, not overly sweet!  The homemade lemon curd really takes them over the top.  

Lemon Bars with Almond Crust 
Adapted from Big Girls Small Kitchen 
Makes 16 small squares

For the almond crust:
Scant less than 1 cup almond meal
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

For the lemon curd filling:
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (plan on about 2-3 lemons)
Zest from one lemon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Confectioners’ sugar, for serving
6 egg yolks

Make the crust: Mix the almond meal, melted butter, and sugar together in a small bowl. Pour into an 8-by-8-inch square pan lined with parchment paper. Use your fingers to press the mixture together to cover the bottom of the pan. Bake at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes, until just beginning to look golden and dry. Let cool. Turn oven down to 300°F.

Make the filling: In a large heatproof metal or glass bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest together. Place on top of a pot of simmering water and add the butter a few pieces at a time until melted and combined, stirring frequently. Continue to cook over the simmering water for an additional 10 to 12 minutes, stirring frequently, until thick and coating the back of the spoon. Remove from heat and strain into a shallow bowl to remove any curdled egg bits and keep the filling smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature. Spread the lemon curd filling over the crust and bake at 300°F for 18 to 20 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

*Word of warning - these start to fall apart as they come to room temp so make sure to serve them out of the fridge!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wine Wednesdays - Breezette 2013 Rose

How is it possible it's July already??  'Tis the season for rose!  I enjoyed a Cotes de Provence rose by Breezette while out at the beach this weekend.  Simple, not something that needs to be over thought, the most important part of picking a rose for me is making sure that it is completely dry.  I tend to hedge my bets by picking bottles lighter in color.  A fun name like "Breezette" doesn't hurt either!

This rose was a blend of 80% Cinsault and 20% Mourvedre grapes, very light in style, the nose was full of fresh stone fruit.  Peaches and apricot, carried through in the palette, balanced by crisp acidity and a slight minerality, which made it perfect for enjoying seaside!

Wine:  2013 Breezette Rose
Purchased:  Navy Beach - Montauk, NY
Price: $14.95 at retail
Would buy again: Yes!


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