Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Wines Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling and Candor Lot 3 Merlot

On your mark, get set go! It’s here folks, I saw it slowing sneaking up since mid-September and now it’s finally arrived; the kick off to the holiday season. After having Christmas shoved down our throats since before Halloween, I’m finally beginning to get into the Christmas spirit. Hold on, I’m doing just what retailers do, I’m skipping forward and forgetting there is a holiday before Christmas that is the perfect time to slow down and enjoy family, friends and life. That holiday of course is Thanksgiving, a day of over eating, over imbibing in drink and for some over shopping. For me, it’s a three days of sharing my love of wine. This year I’ll be serving Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling and Candor Lot 3 Merlot.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling 2009
Citrus and tropical aromas, honey and pineapple flavors wash over the palate. Hints of green apple and peach provide for a lingering finish. The hint of citrus pairs well with turkey, the clean feel of the wine helps to cut through some of the heavy flavors of the dressing and other fixings. For more on Chateau Ste. Michelle, click here.

Candor Lot 3 Merlot
A blend of three vintages, 2008, 2009 & 2010 this Merlot can sit at my table any day. Bordeaux like aromas full of black cherry and currant. Sensual black fruits, plums and cherry mingle with a vanilla and woodsy finish. Full bodied, this wine is the perfect finish to a perfect meal and truly feels like Thanksgiving in a glass. Even my husband who is not a huge Merlot fan thought this one was great. I know this is a short one and promise will write more on Candor wines soon.

What are you thankful for this year? I’m thankful for my husband, my family and my friends. I’m thankful my husband and I not only made the decision to move to the Georgia Mountains but that we had the ability to do so as well. I’m thankful our house in Florida sold within 6 weeks of going on the market and thankful we were able to find 3 acres of wooded land in a quiet and somewhat secluded area. I’m thankful my parents are able to spend Thanksgiving with us this year, I’m thankful my 19 year old cat, Katundra, is still with us to enjoy some left over turkey pieces (although she prefers cheese and her treats).

Most of all, I’m just thankful to be in this place in my life. I don’t want to be 23 again, although I wouldn’t mind the thinner body and the younger looking face, but I’m happy I’m at a place in my life where money is not as important as it once was and climbing the corporate ladder is no longer a priority. It’s this time when you can slow down and begin to evaluate the truly important things in life. Those to me are family and friends to share great moments with and in those moments, share great wines.

If you would like to send samples for my review, please contact me at

2011© Kellie Stargaard.  All Rights Reserved.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Simi Landslind Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

I’ll admit it; I’m a sucker for packaging. Not so much how it’s displayed on a shelf in the store, really more how I carry my goodies out the door. Some tissue paper and ribbon really goes a long way with me. I know some will say I’m paying for that little happiness with higher store prices, well so be it! It’s a small price to pay when you think about it. Why should our bundles be shoved into a plastic bag, don’t we deserve to feel a little special every now and then?

Several weeks ago I received a wine sample that was packaged not in the usual Styrofoam or cardboard form but in heavy card stock box, cushioned in shredded paper and wrapped in a mock newspaper detailing SimiWinery’s 135 years in the wine industry. I have to tell you, I don’t know if it was the packaging but Simi Landslind Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 was one of the finest wines I have tasted in some time.

As the aromas waft out of the glass I think, “oh, this is going to be something special.” Aromas full of black fruits and oak. First sip is pure ecstasy with black cherry and delicious oak flavors. Tannins are bold yet smooth and elegant. Finish goes on and on, I never want this wine to end. We paired the wine with a cut of meat from our 1/8 of a cow purchase. A wonderful grass fed filet made this pairing a match made in heaven. 

Appellations: Alexander Valley
Varietal composition: 80% Cabernet Sauvginon, 9% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Tannat
Fermentation: 34 days on skins
Aging: 26 months in 78% new oak
Total acidity: 5.8 g/L
pH: 3.61
Alcohol: 14.5%

Simi is Sonoma County’s longest continually operating winery. Founded by Italian immigrant brothers, Giuseppe and Pietro Simi in 1881. The brothers left their home in Tuscany following their quest for fortune in the California Gold Rush. After making a few bucks selling wine on the streets of San Francisco, the brothers purchased the winery in Healdsburg and planted their first vineyards in Alexander Valley.

The first harvest was in 1890 but their run was short lived. Both brothers died in 1904 from the Spanish flu, leaving Giuseppe’s daughter, Isabelle, at the reigns. During Prohibition, Isabelle sold the vineyards but held onto the winery by making sacramental wine. This decision among others allowed the winery to continue making wine and once Prohibition ended, the winery had an abundance of wine to sell to the thirsty public.

Fast forward to 1970 when Isabelle retires after selling the winery to Russell Green. Green, a leader in obtaining AVA status for Alexander Valley expands by purchasing  vineyards in the Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley. This is in keeping with the wineries tradition of obtaining quality grapes from top growing regions. Simi now owns 600 acres of vineyards in Alexander Valley and 100 acres in Russian River Valley.

Cheers to one of California’s oldest running wineries!

If you would like to send samples for my review, please contact me at

2011© Kellie Stargaard.  All Rights Reserved.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Roots Run Deep Winery’s Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

I’m slowly realizing the additional expenses that come with living in a colder climate. Had our chimney cleaned yesterday at a cost of $150 and was told our rain pan was rusted and the seals were broken. I thought, how much can this be, $125? Oh I was way off, $550 to replace. Have to wonder if I can live with the possibility of rain, snow, bats and squirrels making their way down the chimney. It’s an insert with a door, what’s the harm All this was enough to make me grab for the bottle right then and there. However, I was able to hold off until dinner. Then I reached for Roots Run Deep Winery’s Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.

Blackberry and juicy plum aromas. Cherry, vanilla and chocolate flavors remind me of chocolate covered cherries in a glass without all the sweetness. Hint of mint in the finish provides a nice lingering finish.  We paired with homemade Pad Thai and the combo was wonderful.

Region - 100% Napa Valley
Appellations - 89% Rutherford and St. Helena, 11% Yountville, Oak Knoll and Calistoga
Varietal - 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot
12 Months French and American Oak
SRP - $20

Founded in 2005 Roots Run Deep set off to produce great tasting wines at affordable prices. Educated Guess Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is the winery’s first release and their flagship wine. The name came about after discussing winemaking processes and the art versus science argument. Proprietor, 15-year veteran, Mark Albrecht and winemaker, 30-year veteran, Barry Gnekow, use knowledge and experience when creating wines for their portfolio, but like all farming, it’s an educated guess as to when the grapes are at their peak and ready to be picked.

For those of you chemistry challenged wine drinkers, the label represents the science used in winemaking. It shows you actual winemaking formulas that are either induced or naturally occur during a specific winemaking process. If you want to learn more about the 5 formula strings on the label click here.

Me, I’m just going to reach for another glass of Educated Guess. I’ll need it after the mess I’m creating; sanding down joint compound to cover up the grooves in the very dated paneling. My house is now a whirl of dust. Hope I can find my wine glass in all this haze.

If you would like to send samples for my review, please contact me at

2011© Kellie Stargaard.  All Rights Reserved.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Darcie Kent Vineyards Grüner Veltliner Black Jack Vineyard

While my body is struggling to adjust to the recent cold temps, I find I’m not quite ready to pack up the white wines for the season. Maybe I’m just trying to hold on to some remembrance of summer and warmth. But as October comes to a close, I realize, I never made it to the big Oktoberfest in Helen. So my husband, the cook in the family, whipped up a platter of Wiener Schnitzel and potato pancakes. While choosing the perfect wine for the occasion, I found one I received as a sample quite some time ago, 2009 Darcie Kent Vineyards Grüner Veltliner Black Jack Vineyard.

Aromas are a little closed at first; but maybe my nostrils are just frozen. After some swirling, I pick up a faint hint of honeysuckle. Delicate peach, floral and lime flavors wash over the palate. The wine is slightly dry; with a well balanced acidic finish. Easy drinking and delightful.

Appellation – Montery, CA
Varietal – 100% Grüner Veltliner
TA - .64
pH – 3.32
RS - .75g/100ml
Alcohol – 13%
SRP - $18

For too many years, German wines lived under a stigma, one of a cheap and overly sweet variety. Luckily many German wine drinkers now seek out complex and flavorful wines and winemakers are responding. Now German wine drinkers can find a wide selection of wines that can be consumed young or those that can be aged for years.  Grüner Veltliner is currently Austria’s favorite white33+3 wine. The citrus and acidic flavors lend themselves to a variety of food pairings. The varietal can also be found in array of styles from light-bodied and easy drinking to full-bodied and complex, as well as sparkling. This means there’s also a price range for everyone.

While Grüner Veltliner may be Austria’s most popular white wine, Darcie Kent Vineyards Grüner Veltliner Black Jack Vineyard is made right here in the good old U.S. of A.; Montery, California to be exact. Established in 1996 in Livermore's Crane Ridge foothills, Darcie and her husband David focus on single vineyard wines. Grapes are sourced from one of the Kent’s vineyards or from local family vineyards. Darcie, an artist, designs the labels for each of the vintages.   

My husband keeps telling me I’ll get used to the cold. I’m not so sure it’s going to be that easy. After spending the first well, just say the first half of my life in a sub-tropical climate where it’s not unheard of to take a dip in the family pool on Christmas Day, I think I’m in for a long bone chilling winter. Feel free to share any tips on making through the winter in a cold climate, I’m pretty sure I can use them. Until then, maybe I’ll break out the Port.

If you would like to send samples for my review, please contact me at

2011© Kellie Stargaard.  All Rights Reserved.

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