“I Want the Pink One!” A frequent cry from my sister Angie whenever there was a voice to be made….Sadly Angie rarely got the pink one as I am the ...
Latest Stops on the Journey
I admit it: I’m officially violating my rule of not reviewing and/or criticizing something that I haven’t tried or experienced.
But I must. I’m getting most (all) of my news these days from Captivate, the Gannett-owned, elevator video service that I view multiple times a day, going up and down the Aon Building, while I work insane hours that appear to not have an end.
I sashayed on to the elevator today and here’s what I saw: “Fans of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” take note. Beginning Monday, you’ll be able to sip wines inspired by the series’ three novels while you flip through the pages. Yes, author E. L. James is selling wines dubbed “Red Satin” and “White Silk,” which she helped California winemakers produce.”
WHAT??? E.L. James helped California wine makers produce a wine??
I hope she did a better job of making wine than she did of writing a book I could read beyond page 16.
It’s become a tradition…a “patio wine” tasting in the Western suburbs with @EnjoyJourney, @DougMessner, @ScottNations and, yours truly, @WendionWine.
Yesterday, our merry band of wine lovers savored Prosecco as our patio wine pick for the 2013 season.
Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine made from Glera grapes. It’s produced in the regions of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia in Italy, and traditionally mainly in the areas near Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, in the hills north of Treviso.
Although it’s considered by aficionados to be a worthy alternative to the better known and more expensive French champagnes and California sparkling wines, Prosecco is still not widely considered by the mass market purchaser. In fact, the good folks at Binny’s always look puzzled and slightly amused when we ask for a Prosecco by name.
The good, the really good, and the really not good
Rustica Nino Franco. This Prosecco is a solid hot weather choice. I don’t think it would pair well with dinner, but it’s a wonderful pairing with a fruit salad or cheese and fruit appetizers. It’s not as sweet as some other Proseccos, but it IS light and refreshing. At approximately $17, this one is a crowd pleaser. – First Base
Bisol Crede Valdobbiadene. The BEST. Straw colored, light, refreshing, not too sweet, with a slightly creamy finish. Has a little bit of citrus intensity which makes it more complex and interesting than the Rustica Nino Franco. Two bottles were not enough! About $24 at Binny’s. – More, Please
Santa Margherita Valdobbiadene. I wanted to like this Prosecco. It gets good online reviews on amazon.com and wine.com. But none of us were feeling the love. It has slightly more taste and fizz than Perrier. That’s really all I can say in review except that in a group that ALWAYS finishes the bottle, this one went down the sink. About $20. – Take A Pass
On our recent Mediterranean Island journey, my husband and I spent a day visiting the Cinque Terre, on the Ligurian Coast of Italy. Cinque Terre refers to 5 lands and is made up of 5 seaside villages just north of the Gulf of Spezia. We visited 4 of the 5 villages during our day long trip (which was not near enough time) – not making it to Corniglia as it is the most difficult to reach – and apparently perched above a beach that is primarily visited by nudists….
Upon our arrival, I was completely mesmerized by the beauty of the cliffs and the sea. One immediately becomes aware of the unique lifestyle of those who live in this hard to reach little piece of heaven. The villages are perched on sheer cliffs primarily accessible via boat or train, although you can certainly walk between them. Residents typically get around on foot and car owners park their cars in community car parks – only retrieving them when leaving the area.
The views and vibe of the villages is complemented by the food and local wine. Dining is casual and dominated by seafood prepared in every way from crudo to fried. Acciughe (anchovies) is the local specialty – sold fried on the street in paper cones with tiny little forks. Handmade pasta featured pesto made from Ligurian olive oil and is to die for…
Cinque Terre is a DOC white wine region. The DOC was granted in 1973 and production is limited to the specific region. Traveling within and between villages, we were surrounded by vineyards and the scent of the sea. Vines are planted on steep terraces carved into the hillsides and are lightly sprayed by the mist of the sea below. Most vineyard work is done manually. At harvest time, recently installed monorails are used to bring down baskets of grapes.
The vineyards of Cinque Terre produce two types of wine…and that is basically what is available (other than grappa) to drink in the local establishments. I love it – this is what we produce here so this is what we drink. They produce a white ‘table wine’ that is simply called Cinque Terre. It is a dry wine that smells a bit salty and pairs well with the local foods. The wine is produced primarily from Bosco (minimum of 40% according to DOC standards), Albarola and Vermentino.
Sciacchetra is a dessert wine (similar to Vinsanto) that is made from the same grapes. Winemakers select the best grapes from the harvest and put them out to dry on mats. The result is a unique, amber colored, viscous, high alcohol (typically 18%) wine that is only available in the region. As a result, prices are high and it is considered a treat – even for the locals.
Should you search out the wine? No – you must visit and experience it.
Have you visited Cinque Terre? If so, please share your thoughts and recommendations.
The Thanksgiving holiday week in Napa Valley is not a tough tour of duty. Not tough at all especially when you can get a personal wine tasting from Christophe Smith, Director of Sales and Marketing, at Titus Vineyards.
The sales and marketing bit is the formal stuff. @EnjoyJourney and I know Christophe (@cork_dork) as our stand up paddleboarding pal from Hood River and #WBC12. And that tenuous connection, as well as a Facebook-friending, was really the only invitation we needed to climb aboard the rented truckster with our long-suffering mates, and barrel up the Silverado Trail to give some good Cab and Zin a swirl.
Despite Christophe’s precise directions, we sped right past Titus. Oh, well. We were early and it’s Napa, there’s always another good wine to taste around the bend, so we kept going to Duckhorn Vineyards. My standout favorite from that tasting is Duckhorn’s 2008 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Those Howell Mountain grapes really deliver rich, red flavors of blackberry, black cherry, and currant with some salty, earthy hints of leather and rich, dark chocolate. Here’s my high-brow, sophisticated review: it’s yummy!
Enjoy the Journey Wine Rating: More, Please
But Christophe was waiting, so we hustled next door to Titus, once again missing the turn-in, this time because the sign is visible only when you’re traveling north on Silverado Trail. I don’t know…seems like something a sales and marketing type might want to fix??
For those who believe that impressive/majestic/expensive property = great wine (think Opus One), Titus is NOT for you. It’s a charming, quirky property with a winding, gravel drive, there’s a sign about “children playing”, and the cottage Dr. Titus purchased in 1969 is an untouched, country farmhouse. Christophe greeted us from the porch with his puppy, Twenty-nine.
We (Karen and I) squealed. We hugged. And we got down to tasting business. On the picnic tables, with the long-suffering spouses, Doug and Scott, by our sides, we sat under the “Frankenstein” walnut tree, overlooking the Titus vineyards, and started slurping some damn fine wine.
As a HUMONGOUS Zin fan, that’s how I came to know Titus…through a Binny’s tasting long ago. However, Christophe re-educated me that, while the Zin is in broad distribution, at least in big markets like Chicago, their Cab is the Titus flagship wine.
Here’s my October (ok, October-ish) surprise: the star of my Titus show wasn’t Cab or Zin…it is the 2007 Petite Sirah! I think this is the first vintage from their own vines, so really good freshman effort. It’s fruit forward, but has some notes of spice that really enrich it. I don’t often call wine “versatile”, but I think this one is.
Enjoy the Journey Wine Rating: More, Please
Christophe, get my case to UPS quickly, please!!
Check out our total cuteness on those boards! Can’t do that on Lake Michigan or the Chicago River! Thanks to Hood River Waterplay (http://www.hoodriverwaterplay.com), after a couple of falls on our asses, we were up and paddling like pros.
Even so, I’m sure we caused more than one heart attack amongst the nice folks, Emily and Nancy, from the Hood River Chamber of Commerce (http://hoodriver.org) who joined us for the fun, probably to make sure none of us wine blogging nerds died on their watch. Bad for tourism, especially amongst the “old chicks from the Midwest” demographic. : )
A funny thing happened to Amy Wessleman on her way to completing an advanced degree in philosophy. She and her partner (and husband), David Autry, became apprentice winemakers to the likes of David Adelsheim and found themselves developing a vineyard in Burgundy, France at Adelsheim’s invitation. When they returned from their “tour” abroad, friends encouraged them to start their own winery. In 1993, they did. And they did it their way in the Dundee Hills AVA.
Forget the faux chateaux, marble topped tasting counters and newly-gunnited wine caves. The two winemakers are making big, lush burgundies out of a fluorescent lit warehouse on a street in McMinnville that someone with a sense of humor named “Alpine.” Amy jokes that the neighborhood is the wine ghetto of the Willamette Valley wine region. But it’s not about the trappings. As Amy says, “You can make really nice wine in a facility like this.”
Sipping Pinot Gris, Amy noted, “If you want to create something that will be crisp on a hot day, full of apple and pear, you have to cut the crop to 2 or 2 1/2 tons of fruit per acre. I don’t want acid without fruit.”
That attention to every aspect of winemaking – from grafting through aging – is a recurrent theme.
Westrey’s ’09 Pinot Noir has “really opened up,” Amy said as she swirled the deeply colored red. Made mostly from younger vines and blended with a few barrels from other vineyards, the grapes are sorted in the field so that anything with spores is quickly removed. Some of the fruit is kept on the stem to enable whole cluster fermentation. A short-to-medium length fermentation makes for a wine that’s fairly fruity. “If it’s not balanced when it goes into the bottle,” Amy notes, “it’s not going to get better.”
At their Oracle Vineyard, Pinot Noir vines are grafted on to more delicate root stock than is typically used in the region. It’s dry farmed, and tilled once every two years. The resulting fruit approaches the quality of their Abbey Ridge vineyard, which Amy says makes the best of their wines, year after year.
Although Westrey is growing, this winery is still a family operation. Both David and Amy are winemakers, making for wine that is “fussed over.” Until recently, they wouldn’t even delegate tractor-driving, but they’ve found someone who calls at the first hint of something going wrong. They carefully manage their vineyards in compliance with their certified organic spray program.
It may grow into even more of a family affair and David and Amy’s twin boys are given an opportunity. Right now, however, Amy isn’t ready to turn over the razor sharp pruning shears. You know: kids running with scissors, just one of many things this Mom worries about.
By now, harvest is probably underway in McMinnville. Amy says 2012 looks really good for yield and quantity.
I’m not sure what Amy’s thesis on Aristotle might have contributed to the academic community before she abandoned it in favor of wine making. But chances are that Aristotle – who held that the truth of a statement is determined according to how it corresponds with the reality of the world — would have appreciated the integrity of Westrey’s wines. Truth in winemaking indeed.
Read more about Westrey and how Amy endeavors “to craft wines of forward fruit balanced by ageworthy structure.”
Guest posted by: Betsy Stone, a.k.a. philanthrophile
“I Want the Pink One!”
A frequent cry from my sister Angie whenever there was a voice to be made….Sadly Angie rarely got the pink one as I am the oldest and always got to pick first. Since it is still summer, the three Caruso girls are all about the pink wines!
Rose of Pinot Noir is a favorite and the Belle Glos rose is an amazing find. Belle Glos is one of the Wagner family wineries. The Belle Glos label honors winemaker Joseph J. Wagner’s grandmother, Lorna Belle Glos Wagner, one of the co-founders of Caymus. The wine has a fancy name and a beautiful feminine label. The french term Oeil de Perdrix translates to ‘eye of the partridge’ and refers to the color of the wine.
This elegant wine is produced from fruit grown in the Brugioni Vineyards in Sonoma County. A portion of the proceeds from this wine go to breast cancer research.
12.6% Alcohol by Volume
Enjoy the Journey Wine Rating: More, Please
Oeil de Perdrix has a glowing raspberry color in the glass. Sticking my sizable nose in the glass sI discovered the berry and earthy aroma of Pinot Noir. The wine seduces you with round flavors of cherry and strawberry and a clean, citris-y finish.
My sisters, Angie and Jackie, and I enjoyed this wine on the patio – unsure of dinner plans. In the end, we paired it with an assortment of Maki rolls…and that was a success.
Limited production so may be hard to secure. I was able to source it at my local Binnys.
Given – Wine and food must be paired.
I was surprised to learn that Chardonnay was the appropriate wine to pair with Lulu Lemon and the maxi dress. I am going to have to test that recommendation this week.
I am compelled to share this wine fun that I found on Dark Rye, an online magazine from Whole Foods.
Please share your pairings…wine and food, wine and music, wine and fashion…..
I don’t know about you but generally, I hate early mornings.
However, when I am away from my normal routine (i.e., on vacation) I tend to wake early. The only way to explain this phenomenon is to say that I feel like I am missing something. I must get up to make the most of my day….whether it be on the beach, on a cruise ship, or in a new city. I believe that I am open to new experiences in the morning….and that my senses are awake and alive.
I have always enjoyed tasting wine in the morning – late morning. I like to sign up for the 10 or 11 am tasting. I had never really thought much about it until I read Restaurant Man by Joe Bastianich. Let’s get this straight…Joe is a Wine Genius/God but I connected with what he said about being able to taste wine in the morning…..it is about the sense of smell…..
Ever leave a glass of wine on the nightstand?
…Yea I’ll pay your cab fare home
You can even use my best colonge
Just don’t be here in the morning when I wake up….
….from Stay with Me by Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood (1971)…..see the video of the two old boys performing the song on MTV Unplugged.
The small amount of research that I found on the web regarding the sense of smell post sleep would indicate that people are generally more sensitive to smells in the morning but that our sense of smell becomes increasing sharp as the day goes on. My sense of smell is definitely more sensitive in the morning. The wine that was immensely enjoyed in the evening, so much so that I took one last pour to bed only to not finish it, is shockingly revolting when I first wake. I trust that I am not alone.
Given the linkage between our senses of smell and taste, I sought information from the almighty Google on the best time to taste wine. The results offered very little. I failed to uncover any research on the topic but did find a blog post written by Steve Heimoff “Why I taste wine at 5 pm, not 8 am”. Steve prefers to taste and drink wine in early evening, but many of those who commented indicated a preference to taste in the morning.
Wine with Breakfast?
Not for me. By the way, Mimosas do not count as they are technically a cocktail. I like to taste wine in the morning because it allows me to remember my experience with the wine. When I am awake and open to the world I connect with my experiences in memorable ways. As I wrote in very first blog post on Enjoy the Journey, Wine Apprentice, the connection is the basis for my passion about wine.
What do you think?
How do you connect wine to your experiences?
Another preview tasting to our Oregon #WBC12 wine adventure, Today’s Selection is an Oregon Pinot Noir: http://www.brookswine.com.
Intent on taking a fresh look at Oregon Pinot Noir, I went to our local Binny’s yesterday and asked for help in making a selection in the $20 to $30 range. The wine guy went straight to Brooks. He said it’s far and above any other Oregon PN at that price. The winery also has quite a story. The founder, Jimi Brooks, died young and suddenly in 2004 leaving his sister, who knew nothing about wine and the wine business, to manage the winery and work to make Jimi’s wine dream a reality. It appears that she has well-exceeded that goal….President Obama served a Brooks wine at his first state dinner in 2009. Hopefully, the wine didn’t get overshadowed by those white trash White House dinner crashers everybody got so excited about!
13.7% alcohol by volume
1,250 cases produced
Enjoy the Journey Wine Rating: First Base
This is a really good Pinot Noir, not just a really good Oregon Pinot Noir. Lots of dark fruit…strawberry and cherry especially. Well balanced, earthy, and has a strong finish.
We drank it with a farmers’ market Wisconsin cheese we purchased earlier in the day, a blend of cream, goat, and bleu cheeses wrapped with plenty of crunchy macadamia nuts. The salty crunchiness was a particularly tasty accompaniment to the velvet acidity of the Brooks Pinot Noir.
The Brooks 2010 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is out-of-stock on the Brook’s web site, but you CAN still get it at Binny’s for around $23.