Thursday, February 24, 2011

2007 Renwood Winery Red Label Viogner

I’m not trying to rub it in to those of you still in the grips of winter but yesterday I had to turn the AC on here in Florida and I’m fighting the urge today. I say I’m not trying to rub it in because living in Florida we spend so much time with the AC running it’s been nice to avoid that bill. I know, you can throw in my face, those of you in colder climates get hit with heating bills. I’ll give you that. In light of these warm temps, I broke out another white wine, 2007 Renwood Winery Red Label Viogner.

Faint aromas of green apple and kiwi. First sip and I was a little overwhelmed by the sweetness but my palate quickly adjusted. Sweet tropical fruits, banana and apricot wash over the palate. The finish is tart and is a nice balance with the high residual sugars. It really is a nice wine that could be enjoyed by any level of wine drinker.

Located in Shenandoah Valley of northern California, Renwood’s devotion to making well crafted wines began in 1993. The grapes are primarily from the Lodi Appellation and the Mohr-Fry Ranch, a small amount of Sierra Foothill Semillon wine was included in the final blend of the Red Label Viogner. The Semillon helps round out the wine and give some body in the mid palate.

Known mostly for their Zinfandels, Barberas and Syrahs the winery has gone from a production of just 2,500 cases to 100,000 cases annually. The wines consistently receive high ratings by wine critics throughout the world. The 2007 growing season was challenging and most likely 2010 will fall under that category as well. The 2007 season brought half the normal rainfall, the snow pack was low and the temperatures were all over the charts. The high heat delayed harvesting as the vines were no longer ripening in an effort to conserve energy. Longer time on the vines was needed to help even out the grape sugars.

The 2007 growing season seems a lot like the weather map today. Temps all over the place, potential snow in San Francisco, tornadoes from Texas to Tennessee. It’s a mess out there. So grab a bottle of wine and just hunker down for the evening.

2011© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2009 Tempra Tantrum Tempranillo Cabernet Tierra de Castilla, Spain

I know I’ve done a lot of red wines lately but the colder weather makes me want to wrap myself in those big bold reds. I promise, I’ll lighten the wines up very soon. My latest red wine sample was a bottle of 2009 Tempra Tantrum Tempranillo Cabernet. I find Tempranillo wines to be hit or miss for me but this one was pretty much on target.

Nose is filled with spicy black pepper and blackberry. Flavors are filled with juicy red fruits and plum with a slightly dry finish. Well balanced tannins and complexity make this a very easy drinking wine. Fast forward in your mind to when the snow has melted and you’re able to sit outside sipping wine.

Composition - 60% Tempranillo, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon
pH - 3.68
TA - .55g/100ml
Alcohol - 13.5%
SRP - $10.00

Sixth generation winemaker, Rocío Osborne, had a goal to push the traditional bounds of Spanish winemaking and create stylish and modern Tempranillo wines. The winery takes an approach referred to as “Nuevo Vino” to promote soft and fruity wines while maintaining the proper amount of structure and complexity that is unique and characteristic of the Tierra de Casitlla appellation.

The grapes are harvested just before dawn, in the coolest part of the day. They are then fermented at cool temperatures to highlight the fruity quality and soft tannins. After fermentation the wine is aged using micro-oxygenation techniques which softens the wine and opens up the fruit flavors. As the wines are made to be soft and gentle, they require minimal bottle-aging making them ready to drink immediately.

Just keep thinking, February is almost over and soon we’ll all be complaining about the heat. In the meantime, don’t pout or throw a fit, just pick up a bottle of Tempra Tantrum.

2011© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

2008 Domaine La Hitaire Les Tours

It finally seems like much of the country is starting to break out this winter’s brutal deep freeze! Think it’s time to break out those lighter white wines which brings me to my latest white wine tasting, 2008 Domaine La Hitaire Les Tours.

The aromas were a little nondescript but I did detect a hint of floral. The wine is slightly sweet with abundant citrus, floral and exotic fruit flavors. Finish is short and a little tart. Think the wine would taste better if accompanied with food. Nice creamy brie and salty crackers would pair well.

Located in the "Côtes de Gascogne", Gers, France the winery is run by brothers Armin and Remy Grassa. The two purchased Domain La Hitarie in 1999 and transformed and restructured the 110 hectares wine estate. The wine is a blend of 65% Ugni Blanc, 30% Colombard and 5% Gros Manseng. Grapes are picked in the early morning hours and the bins are lined with dry ice to protect against oxidation. The grapes are then macerated cold between 6-10 hours to extract the flavors. The brothers practice modern wine making methods and all the wines are made in stainless steel tanks.

The wine is crisp and easy drinking and will be a great wine to enjoy in the warm sunshine. Stay positive folks, we’ve passed Valentine’s Day and we’re on the upward slope now. The cold days of winter will soon be behind us and we’ll be fanning ourselves and rushing indoors to the nice cold AC.

2011© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2007 St. Francis Winery RED

Didn’t get what you wanted or expected this Valentine’s Day leaving you seeing red? Or maybe you didn’t have a Valentine this year and all those sappy card and candy ads have you wanting to drown in a sea of candy hearts. Don’t despair, drown those sorrows in a bottle of St. Francis Red .

Aromas are full of vanilla, oak and plum. Flavors of Cassis, more oak and red berries make this a very easy drinking wine. At $10.99, it’s priced right, especially if you just out to forget the day.

Blend make up – 48% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, 3% Zinfandel and 6% Mixed Blacks.

I’ve covered St. Francis Winery in the past so I won’t go through the same info. For previous reviews, click here.

Here’s some news that will touch your heart. Each year St. Francis Winery & Vineyards honors their namesake, St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis was known for his love for all creatures. Each year for the past 10 years, the winery honors his feast day, October 4, with an event called the Blessing of the Animals. This past year the Blessing of the Animals event raised over $2,000 for the Sonoma Humane Society. On this day the winery awards a dog with the title of Winery Dog of the Year. The title went to a 1.5 year old Great Dane named Jackamoe or "Jack" as he likes to be called by his close friends.

If you find you and your furry four legged companion in Sonoma next October, check the In the News page on St. Francis Winery website. Admission is free to all, including the two legged creatures. Wine and goodies are available as well as pet friendly vendors. All proceeds go to the Sonoma Humane Society.

2011© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Biltmore Estate Méthode Champenoise Pas de Deux–Sec

Ah, your relationship with your partner has withstood the test of time. You’ve made it through thick and thin, children, dogs, goldfish, ambitious careers or lack there of, intrusive in-laws, etc, you get the picture. Even if you’re no where close to your Golden Wedding Anniversary, is no reason not to celebrate the two of you this Valentine’s Day. The final installment on my Valentine’s Day wines is Biltmore Estate’s Méthode Champenoise Pas de Deux–Sec.

The nose is full of pear and crisp apple aromas. Notes of floral and honey in the flavors reminding me of delicate flowers. The wine is semi-sweet and carries a slight yeastiness but very pleasing. With all those fine bubbles wafting to the top, I’m a happy girl. SRP is $18.99 and can be found at Total Wine and most major supermarkets. For those in the Tampa area, the bigger Publix’s carry a lot of the Biltmore wines.

Varietal – 100% Muscat Canelli
Region – California – Montery, Arroyo Seco
pH – 3.00
TA – 0.65
RS 2.2%
Alcohol – 12.5%

I’ve covered a few other Biltmore wines so I won’t repeat myself on their story but you can find info if you missed it by clicking here.

I know a lot of people feel Valentine’s Day is a contrived holiday sponsored by the candy manufacturers, greeting card industry and florists. But maybe we need to take a day out to show the ones we love, just what they mean to us. In ballet, a pas de deux (in French = steps of two) is a duet in which ballet dancers perform the dance together. As with the Tango, ballet is a carefully coordinated dance, just like relationships. You can’t be in a relationship without coordinating your movements, being in sync with the other person, otherwise you’re both just floating off in space in your own orbits and that can hardly spell togetherness.

Speaking of togetherness, here’s something decadent and fun to do this Valentine’s Day and pairs superbly with the Pas de Deux.

Decadent Biltmore Truffles
Winemakers Suggestion: Enjoy with Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs or Pas de Deux sparkling wines for a festive and decadent treat.
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
cocoa powder or semi-sweet chocolate, as needed
Optional additions: 2-3 tablespoons liqueur, roasted chopped nuts, chopped dried fruit, toasted coconut, fruit jam, peanut butter, sweet potato, caramel topping, extracts or flavorings, etc.

Method: To make the ganache, place chocolate into a bowl. Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Stir together until all is combined and chocolate is melted. Mix in any additions to the ganache you desire. Let the ganache set and scoop into portions and place onto parchment or wax paper. Refrigerate for 10–15 minutes then take out and round into balls. Roll into cocoa powder or coat in semi-sweet chocolate and serve. Makes about 20 truffles.

Truffle Filling Add-Ins
• Instant Coffee Crystals (add to cream, then boil)
• Roasted Chopped Nuts
• Any flavor Liqueur, (Chambord, Bailey’s, Kahlua, Kirsch, etc…)
• Chopped Dried Fruit
• Toasted Coconut and Rum extract
• Extracts or Flavorings (Peppermint/White Chocolate, Almond, etc…)
• Eggnog White Chocolate (replace half the amount of cream with eggnog)
• Finely chopped toffee pieces or cookie pieces

Wow, I think I’m drooling just reading the recipe. Pair with a bottle of Pas de Deux–Sec and celebrate this Valentine’s Day.

2011© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

2008 Pacific Edge Zinfandel Hell N’ Back

Last week I spoke about Concinnity and how marriage or partnership is a give and take coupled with a healthy dose of understanding. But sometimes you find yourself in a relationship where it seems you do all the giving while your partner does all the taking, leaving you with no understanding of what the hell is going on. We’ve all had them, those relationships that drag you through the mud and to hell n’ back! Pacific Edge’s Zinfandel Hell N’ Back was certainly not a drag through the mud wine but turned out to be something I didn’t hate. It was actually tasty for the rock bottom price of $6.99 at Total Wine.

The nose is filled with cherry and pepper aromas. Bold flavors of cherry, vanilla, blackberries and a touch of spice. Finish is long and reminds me of cherry cola. The wine is medium to full bodied with firm tannins.

Why do we all find ourselves in those relationships that are terrible for us but we can’t seem to break out of. I’m just thankful; those times are behind me, since I have a wonderful husband. But I know there are thousands out there dealing with over jealous girlfriends/boyfriends (had one), those who have no communication skills what-so-ever (had one of those), the drama queens/kings (had a drama king before too).

Here’s a list of things I’d rather do then be stuck in one of those relationships again:
• 12 root canals without Novocain
• Stuck in an elevator with Paris Hilton and her stupid yip yap dog
• Listen to Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas sing Sweet Child O’ Mine for 12 hour (this one is a real stretch).

When I purchased the wine, I almost wanted it to be awful so it would fit in with my hell n’ back theme. I can tell you I do feel like I went to hell n’ back just trying to find info on the winery online. I did find a Pacific Edge Wine and Spirits but no mention of this wine. Same thing for Facebook and there were zero posts to their wall. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of marketing behind this wine. If anyone has info on this winery, please let me know.

2011© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

2005 Toad Hollow Cabernet Sauvignon – Concinnity

Part 5 of my Valentine’s series brings us to what most couples or any relationship for that matter strive to reach,  concinnity. The Merriam-Webster dictionary lists the meaning as “harmony or elegance of design especially of literary style in adaptation of parts to a whole or to each other”. Toad Hollow’s Cabernet Sauvignon uses the term concinnity to mean a “perfect blend – a beautiful marriage”. I think that fits perfect with my Valentine’s Day theme.

Aromas are filled with earth and leather. The earthiness carries over to the flavors along with an abundance of oak. High tannins and rich bold flavors provide for a well balanced finish. Every time I sample this wine, I just can’t get enough of it. It’s a limited production so scour your retailers now. I have a feeling it will be in even more demand as the Concinnity wine just won a gold medal at the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Varietal blend – Cabernet Sauvignon: 75%, Petit Sirah: 10%, Cabernet Franc: 7%, Petit Verdot: 4%, Field Blend: 4%
Alcohol: 14.7%
TA: .645
pH: 3.54
SRP - $15

So what does Concinnity mean to me you ask? My husband and I have been married for just under two years. He knows when not to push my buttons and just to let me be cranky and I’m learning to be a little less cranky when he does something not to my liking. Lucky for me (and him) he doesn’t often do things that set me off. I really did get lucky!

Give and take along with understanding is the basis of a marriage but concinnity represents more; togetherness, blending of families, or a coming together. A marriage isn’t just about two people. It starts with the couple and branches off to include friends and family. Who says Valentine’s Day is strictly for a romantically involved couple? Not me, I think it can be expanded and doesn’t have to be all about mushy gushy stuff but more about showing your love and appreciation for good friends and close family members.

I think that’s how I feel about this wine and some others. You say you can’t feel that much attachment to a wine. And I say, sure I can, it’s my blog.

Tune in next Tuesday for Part 6 of my V-day installment.

2011© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

2009 Caminada Malbec Uco Valley Mendoza

Part four of my Valentine’s series brings us to the delicate movement that is part of every relationship. Love and a meaningful relationship is a fined tuned dance. You and your partner trying to be respectful of the other’s space while moving together in very coordinated steps. Caminada Malbec represents this stage well since Caminda is a term which refers to the slow, seductive walk-step in the tango.

Aromas were a little closed at first but a few good swirls opened up to black berries and plum. Plum carried over to the flavor along with cherry and vanilla. Medium bodied but a little high in alcohol. It’s not overpowering and still easy drinking and pleasurable.

Varietal – Malbec
Region – Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina
RS – 2.37g/100ml
pH – 3.8
Alcohol – 13.8%
SRP - $11.99

The Argentina based winery sources their grapes from the foothills of the Andes Mountains. The grapes used in their Malbec grow at an altitude of 3,200 feet above sea level. Mendoza, known for their wine and specifically Malbec, can be divided into five main growing regions, Northeastern, Central, Southern & Uco Valley.

The Uco Valley covers the highest vineyards reaching up to 5,500 feet above sea level. The desert soils while organically poor in nutrients provide drainage due to the rocky make up. The region typically produces quality white and red wines that are suitable for prolonged cellaring. Typical varietals are of course Malbec but include Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Pinot Grigio as well as sparkling wines.

I wasn’t able to find any info on the winery or winemaker but while looking I see where the wine is carried in Winn Dixie at $11.99. So if you find yourself in the vicinity of a WD, check out the wine.

2011© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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