New Délice Release from Domaine Chandon: Perfect Pairing for the Holidays
Napa Valley’s Domaine Chandon has consistently been a go-to destination for wine tasting in Yountville, but particularly so for their illustrious sparkling wines. These delectable bubblies are all made from traditional Champagne grape varieties—Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier—grown in the Yountville, Carneros and Mount Veeder appellations. Prices for their collection range from $22-$50, so there is a sparkling wine at a comfortable price point for everyone. What’s more, is that the sugar levels of these sparkling wines are just as broad—offering dry to sweet bottling’s for every palate preference.
One of their new releases, Délice—which in French means delicious—is a semi-sweet sparkling wine that still maintains the crisp, refreshing characteristics we all know and love. Enticing aromatics of yellow peaches, mixed stone fruit, honey, fresh baked bread and crushed almonds hover above the glass in beautiful synchronicity. On the palate, similar fruit flavors of yellow peach, sweetened peaches, white nectarine, and a touch of lime zest are complemented by soft notes of honeysuckle. The bubbles are delicate but strong, and the body is quite round when enjoyed at not too cold of a serving temperature.
This semi-sweet bottling is both enjoyable on its own, as well as in accompaniment with a whole host of appetizers, main dishes and desserts that are perfect for the holiday season. One of our favorite holiday appetizer pairings for a semi-sweet sparkling wine, like Délice, is a classic soft French cheese plate. The natural pairing of French grape varieties and French cheeses just never seems to get old—and how can anyone resist enjoying a delicious cheese plate with some bubbly before dinner? Soft, creamy cheeses are well suited to sparkling wine, enhancing the mouthfeel to create wonderful textures on the palate.
For main dishes, sparkling wine pairs exceptionally well with Thanksgiving turkey and holiday ham. Both choices, depending on what kind of sauce is served, are gentle enough to not overpower the delicate texture and flavors of sparkling wine. The semi-sweetness of Délice would provide added flavor complexity to these main dish pairings, and of course, make any gathering more festive.
We also love pairing dessert with semi-sweet sparkling wines. The stone fruit and honeysuckle characteristics of the Délice beg for stone fruit tarts and pies. Not only will the fruit flavors complement each other, but the warm, flaky pastry will pick up on those fresh baked bread and crushed almond notes and synergize wonderfully on the palate.
*Originally published on Feast it Forward.
As many of you likely know, Miner Family Winery—situated in Napa Valley’s Oakville appellation—is Feast it Forward’s official wine sponsor. Working together and alongside our other sponsors such as Stolzle Glassware, we’ve helped raise funds for many charities, as is our mission here at Feast it Forward. When Miner Family Winery came to us with their newly released 2011 The Oracle—a stunning red Bordeaux varietal blend—we were ecstatic to help spread the word.
2011 was a tough vintage for many winemakers. Rains came late in the harvest season and forced many to pick their grapes early, for fear of grapes rotting on the vine; some chose to ride out the rains and let the grapes receive the hang-time they needed in order to ripen appropriately. Overall though, the late rain and cooler harvest temperatures yielded variability in the vintage. Now, this is but one way of looking at the 2011 vintage—and one that is far too often spoken about.
We’re here to tell you that depending on terroir of an individual vineyard, there were in fact winemakers who fared incredibly well with the 2011 vintage. Terroir is everything, and when rainfall hits and temperatures drop at harvest time, your aspect of slope and elevation matter greatly. Mountainous vineyards, which are inherently cooler with far more elevation than their valley floors counterparts, did very well in the 2011 vintage. This is incredibly evident with Miner Family Wines’ new 2011 release of The Oracle, which is their premier Bordeaux bottling made from grapes grown in the Stagecoach Vineyard.
The Stagecoach Vineyard is nestled up against the eastern hills of Napa Valley, situated at 1,500 foot elevation—well above the fog line. The soils in this vineyard are rocky and mixed with red, yellow and pink clay loam, as well as a wide variety of volcanic-based soils. The vineyard was first planted in 1995 and is current owned and farmed by Jan Krupp of the Krupp Family. Miner Family Wines is pleased to be working with this vineyard site and the quality of its fruit continues to shine, year after year, in their illustrious bottlings made from this vineyard. The excellent terroir of the Stagecoach Vineyard was not phased by the difficult weather in the 2011 vintage, and ultimately produced very focused grapes with serious flavor concentration and complexity.
The new 2011 release of Miner Family Winery “The Oracle” is a beautiful example of how well mountainous fruit did during this difficult vintage. Enticing aromas of dried red cherries, blueberry, dark chocolate, leather, fresh fennel and black pepper abound on the nose. As the wine remains in the glass a bit longer, the complex aromatics continue to evolve—showing more floral and spice-filled aromas of juniper, eucalyptus, violets and clove. The palate is equally as intricate and complex, with a myriad of fruit and savory flavors. Fruit notes of dried red cherry, strawberry, raspberry and blueberry mingle with more savory notes of cocoa, bittersweet chocolate, dried leather, cured meat and clay. Rounding out these flavors is a luscious body with medium level tannins that are pleasantly soft around the edges.
This new release is simply gorgeous in our Stolzle glass, and drinks incredibly well—having been aged for 20 months in new French oak and another two years in bottle before release. Simply stated, this wine is ready to drink now because Miner Family appropriately aged the wine for the perfect amount of time before releasing it.
Bottom line, this family not only makes incredible wines but has a sense of responsibility and cares about the greater good. So, grab a bottle and feel good about raising a glass, awareness and funds! To get your hands on a bottle of this phenomenal red Bordeaux varietal blend, visit www.minerwines.com.
#TheOracleHasSpoken – Cheers!
*Originally published on Feast it Forward.
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards: Quickly Becoming the New Favorite Winery Destination in Sonoma County
An Old Favorite Gets a New Look
Iconic views, comfortable seating, award-winning sparkling and still wines, and a host of experiences in which to enjoy—this is the newly renovated Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards. Having always been an enjoyable winery to visit, it was hard to imagine Gloria Ferrer getting much better—but the team aspired to more, and with the new renovations, Gloria Ferrer has quickly become the new favorite winery destination in Sonoma County.
Views for Days
Nestled on the top of a gorgeous hillside, overlooking both the Sonoma Valley and Carneros appellations of Sonoma County, Gloria Ferrer boasts some of the most classic, picturesque views of wine country. Sprawling vineyard land stretches for miles against the backdrop of the San Pablo Bay to the south, and iconic blue skies above on warm, summer afternoons. The more expansive Vista Terrace, equipped with ample comfortable chairs and bistro-style table sets, is the perfect setting for such a view. As the sun shines down, you can just imagine how similar the Spanish countryside from which the Ferrer family hails must be.
For those looking for a little respite from the summer heat, inside the tasting room features enormous glass windows which give way to bright, summer light in a cool, temperature controlled setting. The open floor design with tables and chairs makes for a comfortable and semi-formal tasting environment, and bright colors open up the space nicely. The hustle and bustle of the newly renovated tasting room is accompanied by laughter, chatter amongst friends and family, and that desirable pop of a cork being released from one of Gloria Ferrer’s award-winning sparkling wines.
Bubbles & Bites
Perhaps the most exciting addition to Gloria Ferrer is the Bubbles & Bites experience. Featuring some of the most exclusive, small production bottlings, Bubbles & Bites begins with an in-depth tour with one of the wine experts of the state-of-the-art facilities and underground wine cave, then ends with a seated, private pairing. Three spectacular sparkling wines and one incredible still wine are poured alongside a plate of four unique, seasonal bites.
• 2004 Carneros Cuvée with Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam Brie with Spanish Torta
The newly released, exclusive 2004 Carneros Cuvée opens up the Bubbles & Bites pairing alongside Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam triple cream brie, Spanish torta and fresh apricot. This stunning new Cuvée, which sees an astonishing nine years of total aging and has already won numerous awards, boasts a creamy, nutty nose full of lime zest; the palate offers citrus, white peach, creamy body, excellent effervescence and flavors of fresh-baked bread, all of which pair exceptionally well with the rich, creamy and flavorful brie.
• 2007 Royal Cuvée with Fig Almond Cake with Macerated Strawberries
You can’t go wrong with sparkling wine and almonds—the nuttiness of both complement each other beautifully. The 2007 Royal Cuvée expresses notes of white peach, green apple, lemon, brioche and a touch of salinity on the nose; the palate is bright with nice acidity, a creamy mouthfeel, and flavors of pear, citrus, toasted nuts, brioche and gentle minerality. The brightness of the macerated strawberries heightens the crisp acidity, while the fig almond cake provides richness to the texture of the Cuvée and adds complexity to the nutty flavor profile.
• 2011 Brut Rosé with Spanish Jamón with Cantaloupe
Lovely strawberry and citrus aromas grace the nose of the delicate, but rich 2011 Brut Rosé. Red fruit abounds on the palate with flavors of red cherry, strawberry and cranberry. When paired with the Spanish jamón with cantaloupe, this Brut Rosé embraces the sweet and salty combination. Zesty acidity mingles with the salty jamón, while the fruit flavors delicately complement the cantaloupe.
• 2012 Carneros Pinot Noir with Chicken Sausage with Caramelized Onions
The final pairing features one of Gloria Ferrer’s still wines—the 2012 Carneros Pinot Noir. With aromas of forest floor, cranberry, a touch of mushroom and subtle vanilla, the nose is just as complex as the palate of this incredible wine. Flavors of roasted coffee, cranberry, boysenberry and a touch of baking spice grace the medium bodied palate. These flavors bring out the peppery characteristics of the chicken sausage, while the caramelized onions give the wine more body, texture and smoky notes—a fun, intricate pairing with pleasurable flavors and complexity.
The Bubbles & Bites pairing experience at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards is hosted daily, and reservations for groups of six to twelve can be made for 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. For only $60 per person, you will learn about the inner workings of sparking wine production, and experience some of Gloria Ferrer’ most exclusive bottlings alongside a delightful plate of four unique, seasonal bites.
*Originally published on Wine Country This Week.
Sonoma Wine Country Weekend—the name says it all. Hosted over the final holiday of summer throughout Labor Day weekend, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is Northern California wine country’s most anticipated event of the year. Beginning with exquisite lunches and stunning winemaker dinners, then culminating in the grand tasting of all grand tastings—and an epic auction, to boot—this 3-day wine country extravaganza offers attendees one of the most incredible food and wine experiences you could ever imagine.
Taste of Sonoma
Saturday’s grand tasting, appropriately named Taste of Sonoma, brought together more than 200 of the county’s best wine producers, as well as more than 60 local chefs and artisan food producers, to offer guests an indulgent exploration of the art of winemaking and food production. With wine tasting tents organized by appellation and food stations scattered throughout each tent, the options for sipping, tasting and pairing were endless. This organization allowed guests to explore premier Sonoma County appellations and get to know characteristics varietals of each region, while simultaneously learning about the intricacies and varying styles of the individual wines.
Taste of Sonoma is just as much a wine lover’s heaven as it is a foodie mecca. With everything from delicious sliders to smoked ribs to macaroni balls to fresh oysters, as well as refreshing craft beer and iced coffee, there was a satisfying bite and sip for every tastebud, every palate. In addition to the abundance of wine and food, educational opportunities also abounded in just about every direction you could look. There were wine talks, tours, blind tasting challenges, exploration of sustainable wines and even a Sonoma County marketplace to buy delicious foodie goods to take home with you.
Featured Reserve Wines: Silver Oak Winery & Emeritus Vineyards
In the reserve wine tent, a number of premier producers from various Sonoma County appellations poured some of their most acclaimed wines, as well as some of their older vintages. Silver Oak Winery, situated in the northeastern appellation of Alexander Valley, poured their 2005 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose boasts vivacious aromas of herbes de Provence, leather and blueberry, while the palate follows suits with similar herbal flavors, mint, leather and dried fruit. The full mouthfeel possesses chalky, soft tannins that round out the body and provide complexity to the overall texture.
Emeritus Vineyards, located in Russian River Valley and producing wines from this appellation, the sub-appellation of Green Valley, as well as the Sonoma Coast, showcased their stunning 2012 William Wesley Pinot Noir. The William Wesley bottling hails from Sonoma Coast vineyards that are planted in Goldridge sandy loam soils with a sandstone sublayer. The nose of this incredible Pinot Noir expresses aromas of blackberry, raspberry and orange zest. The palate brings together flavors of orange zest, red raspberry, red cherry, dried fruit and mushrooms—enveloped in a light body with gentle tannins and acidity.
Dry Creek Valley: Collier Falls
Representing the illustrious Dry Creek Valley, Collier Falls’ wines showed incredibly well. Collier Falls uniquely offered the experience of tasting Primitivo, a classic Italian varietal; they are one of few local producers who make this grape in its Italian form. The American counterpart to Primitivo is Zinfandel, and most would agree when tasting both side by side, that each varietal has a distinct taste profile. The 2012 Primitivo expresses mixed berry aromas with some herbal characteristics and black pepper. The palate of this luscious Primitivo boasts soft, mellow tannins with excellent structure and body; flavors of mixed red and black dried fruit mingle with black pepper and a touch of leather.
Russian River Valley: Bacigalupi Vineyards
In the Russian River Valley tent, Bacigalupi Vineyards showcased their exquisite Pinot Noir. Their 2013 Russian River Valley bottling distinguishes itself right away as Burgundian in style, with its classic earthy aromatics. Aromas of raspberry, orange zest, wet earth and dried leather leap from the glass. On the palate, the wine continues to highlight a Burgundian style of winemaking, with its light body and flavors of earth, gravel, raspberry, orange zest and cherry cola. This wine is an excellent choice for those who favor French Burgundy, but still love a classic California style with nice fruit and a touch of well-integrated new oak—all perfectly balanced in beautiful synchronicity.
Sonoma Valley: Dane Cellars
Dane Cellars was perhaps one of the smaller, more exclusive wineries showcasing their wines at Taste of Sonoma. All of Dane Cellars’ red wines are made with grapes sourced from premier Sonoma Valley vineyards—a result of Winemaker Bart Hansen’s longstanding career in the Sonoma Valley wine industry and cultivated relationships with many of the well-known winemakers and wineries in the appellation. Hansen’s passion for winemaking inspired him to open his own winery, Dane Cellars, in 2007. Dane Cellars’ new 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon release is richly textured with great finesse; flavors of mint, blackberry, currant and cocoa abound with a touch of blueberry in the background. This Cabernet is quite complex with a lot of depth for such a young bottling—it will no doubt develop even more complexity as it ages.
Foodie Favorites: Seghesio Family Vineyards & Earth’s Bounty & Kitchen Wine Bar
Seghesio Family Vineyards’ Chef Peter Janiak dished up delicious pit-smoked ribs, smothered in sweet, sour and sticky Seghesio Zinfandel BBQ sauce. Tender, juicy, full of flavor and perfectly messy, these pit-smoked ribs were an absolutely favorite by all who indulged. Earth’s Bounty & Kitchen Wine Bar, located in Santa Rosa just off Highway 12, served up smokey pork sliders with fennel slaw and tomato bacon jam. These little sliders were delightfully fresh and packed with a lot of flavor; the depth of the tomato bacon jam and and zesty freshness of the slaw was definitely enough to keep attendees coming back for more.
The Proceeds Matter
It’s safe to say that all who attended Taste of Sonoma were able to experience the pure bounty of this abundant county. From wine to craft beer to decadent cuisine—and just about everything in between—Taste of Sonoma was a feast for all.
Certainly not to go without mention, is the wonderful cause for which the entire Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is hosted—the luncheons, dinners, grand tasting and culminating auction raise funds for local charities. Since its beginning, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend has raised more than $16 million dollars to directly assist charities that support students, children, farm workers and people in need in Sonoma County.
This year alone, the auction raised $4.5 million dollars; Fund the Future, an auction lot that supports children’s literacy, raised more than $1.9 million dollars—totaling an excess of $5.5 million dollars and setting an incredible record for funds raised. Certainly, this immense amount of fundraising shows that the abundance of support for the Sonoma County community is equally as abundant as the wine and food that its many talented winemakers and chefs produce.
*Originally published on Examiner.
When it comes to Barbera in the New World, no one does it better than California’s Sierra Foothills appellation. Nestled on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this winegrowing region boasts high elevation, a climate of hot days and cold nights, and varied soils that range from sandy clay loam to decomposed granite and volcanic soil. Naturally low in grape yield, the wines from this region are concentrated and complex—especially so with Barbera, which has found this region as a true home outside of its native region of Piedmont in Northern Italy.
Barbera, a wine that expresses naturally high acidity and gentle tannins, is crafted in a variety of ways—dependent, of course, on terroir, viticultural practices and winemaking techniques. Some are lighter in body and style, while other possess more oak influence and lean towards fuller, richer bodies. Below is an in depth look at the different styles of Barbera, as seen through four Amador County wine producers. Amador County, which possesses two sub-appellations of the Sierra Foothills—Shenandoah Valley and Fiddletown—is no stranger to Italian grape varieties. Zinfandel, Sangiovese and Barbera are the primary Italian red grape varieties grown in this region, and ever since the early 1970s, Barbera has consistently been a championed varietal of the region.
For the past two years, Amador County Barbera producers have teamed up to host the annual Barbera Festival every year in June—an event that showcases Barbera from all around California, many of which come from the local Sierra Foothills wineries. As the event has gained notoriety, wine enthusiasts and professionals have come to recognize that the terroir of the region is ideally suited to the grape variety—and it certainly shows in these recent bottles from Helwig Winery, Binz Wines, Fiddletown Cellars and Borjon Winery.
Fiddletown Cellars: 2012 Reserve Barbera
The vineyards of Fiddletown Cellars, located in the appellation from which the winery derives its name, sit at an elevation of 1,800 feet and possess the longest growing season in Amador County. This allows for exceptional hang time, steady ripening and developed complexity in the grapes. Only 50 cases of this 2012 Reserve Barbera were made. This particular bottling finds an excellent balance between a lighter-styled Barbera with high acid and a heavier-styled Barbera with full body and intense oak.
The 2012 Reserve Barbera boasts a nose full of red cherry liqueur, black cherry, ripe blueberry and vanilla. The palate is silky on entry with medium acid levels and noticeable oak influence of vanilla. The body is round and luscious with flavors of cherry, blueberry, baking spice and spiced plum on the finish. Tannins are gentle in this luscious wine, and it is an excellent choice for pairing with tomato-based dishes and sauces—though the wine can most certainly hold its own without food, as well.
Borjón Winery: 2013 Barbera Reposado
The seed for Borjón Winery was first planted in the early 1990s, when the Borjón family began working in the vineyards in the Sierra Foothills appellation. With their own labor contracting and vineyard management business, the family had always dreamed of opening their own winery. In 2009, this dream became a reality when Isy Borjón opened up a tasting room in the heart of Shenandoah Valley. Ever since, the extensive knowledge and experience of the Borjón family has translated into an incredible collection of wines for their namesake winery.
Borjón Winery’s 2013 Barbera Reposado is true to the style of Old World Italian Barbera in just about every way. The nose expresses aromas of cherry and smoke, while the palate is full of classic, juicy, tart fruit flavors that are so reminiscent of great Italian Barbera. Pleasurable acid is balanced by bright red fruit, such as raspberry, cherry and strawberry. The oak influence is subtle and tactful, letting the juicy, mouthwatering fruit shine on the palate. Because of its high acid, this wine is also an excellent choice for pairing with tomato-based dishes and sauces. By far, of these four wines, Borjón’s expression is the most suited for classic Italian cuisine.
Binz Wines: 2013 Barbera
Binz Wines focuses production on single vineyard bottlings from distinct Sierra Foothills vineyards. Their 2013 Barbera comes from the Crain/Sleeper Ranch Vineyard and is one of the Barberas in this tasting that boasts a richer, more full style. Mixed fruit aromas of blueberry, rhubarb, strawberry and black cherry mingle with aromas of vanilla; the palate is unabashedly silky and round, with gentle acid and complex layers of red fruit. Mildly tart flavors of cherry and raspberry balance out the spice notes. This wine is a great choice for drinking on its own, as the lower acid and stronger oak influence may overpower traditional dishes that go well with lighter-styled Barbera. As a richer, fuller-styled Barbera, this 2013 Binz bottling is an excellent choice.
Helwig Winery: 2013 Barbera
In Shenandoah Valley, Helwig Winery produces their collection of wines from vineyards locations in the various sub-appellations of the Sierra Foothills. Their 2013 Barbera expresses cherry and distinct aromas of mint on the nose, while the lighter-styled palate is round and smooth, with flavors of cherry, raspberry and intense vanilla. For lovers of oak, this Barbera is definitely a must-try, as it achieves nice fruit flavors in a richer, more oak-influenced style that makes it a good choice for drinking on its own.
*Originally published on Examiner.