Thursday, February 23, 2012

Foppiano Lot 96 Petite Sirah SonomaCounty

One reason my husband and I made the move from sunny Florida to NE Georgia Mountains was to experience all four of Mother Nature’s seasons. Seems like right after Labor Day, the temps dropped fast, almost too cool and too fast for me but temps have been above average this winter and seems my request for snow won’t be met this year. I’m not asking for a crippling shut down snow like the region experienced last year, just a nice little dusting, is that too much to ask? We’ve had a few minutes of flurries where I felt like a school kid letting them fall on my face but other than that, I’m still waiting for the white stuff to fall from the sky. It really would have been great to have a White Christmas, sigh, well that didn’t happen. But speaking of Christmas, I’ve had Foppiano Lot 96 Petit Sirah in my little black wine book since that time as we sampled it on Christmas Eve while waited for St. Nick to arrive.

Aromas full of oak, plum and cherry. Full bodied and rich with ripe blueberry, blackberry and a hint of peppery spice. At just $12.50, it can be Christmas every day!

Foppiano is one of the oldest family-owned wineries in Sonoma County with roots dating back to 1896 when Giovanni Foppiano bought 80 acres of Russian River Valley land. Enduring Prohibition by selling home winemaking kits, they have continued to operate for over a century. A founding member of the Russian River Valley AVA, Foppiano continues to improve upon Giovanni’s vision of creating world class wine by keeping up with new and innovative winemaking processes and equipment.  

Over the years I’ve become envious of those who grew up with soil and vines running through their veins. For someone like me who didn’t grow up with home vegetable gardens or long evenings spent conversing over wine I feel I’ve been given a second chance at that sort of lifestyle. While I won’t be surrounded by gnarled old vines I will have ample amounts of vegetable, flower gardens and chickens. I look forward to seeing the changes to our property and an ever changing lifestyle over the next several years.

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

2012© Kellie Stargaard.  All Rights Reserved.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Conundrum White Wine Blend 2010

My birthday falls just 7 days after Valentine’s Day so I never ask for two gifts; just dinner for Valentine’s Day and a gift & dinner for my birthday. This year I’m still asking for the dinner’s (I’m no dummy!) but instead of a gift, I’m asking my husband to begin bringing our bathroom up to date. The major renovation of turning our cramped and unappealing shower into a much needed linen closet and removing the unused garden tub and designing a shower retreat will have to wait just a little longer. But in the meantime we can get rid of the wallpaper, replace mirrors, lighting, vanity, sink and faucet. I’m so lucky I have such a handy husband and who with some help from his assistant (me) can do all of these changes on our own. Last night I feel like I received an early birthday present when I sampled a bottle of Conundrum White Wine Blend 2010.

Perfumed aromas of honeysuckle and rose. Round and creamy Chardonnay appears first on the palate, followed by fresh and lively Sauvignon Blanc and spicy Viognier. Finish is made up of semi sweet honey from the Muscat grape. This is by far the finest white wine I’ve had in some time.

Produced by Wagner Family of Wines, I feel like this is one of those must have white wines. Before leaving Tampa, we dined at the well known Bern’s Steakhouse and several times throughout the evening I heard diners ask for a bottle of Conundrum. It’s a delicate and very pretty wine and at just $22, it doesn’t have to be saved for special occasions. 

Made up of five California white grape varietals: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Canelli, Viognier and Semillon- sourced from Napa, Monterey, Santa Barbara and Tulare counties. The name Conundrum refers to the puzzling array of flavors and aromas bursting through. Each vintage contains a varied percentage of each grape, allowing Mother Nature to determine which grape will steal the show in that particular vintage.

Wagner Family of Wines sound familiar? It should, also the makers of Caymus, Mer Soleil, Meiomi and others, they’re a wine powerhouse.  A true family affair, Caymus head winemaker and patriarch Chuck Wagner, has roots in Napa dating back to the 1800’s. Son Charlie heads up Mer Soleil and Silver. Another son Joseph heads up Belle Glos and Meiomi Pinot Noirs; and Jon Bolta, in all likelihood considered a member of the Wagner family, created the Conundrum blend.

Think I’ll get myself an early present and purchase my own bottle of Conundrum. I think you should pick up a bottle for yourself too!

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

2012© Kellie Stargaard.  All Rights Reserved.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Valentine’s Day Wines - Caymus, Meiomi and Biltmore, Be Mine!

Typically recognized as the coldest winter month, this February is bringing what the locals call spring like temps. In Florida, these temps would be closer to winter so I feel right at home. It’s also the month for Cupid to go around shooting his arrow, over priced chocolates, flowers and an array of other things that are supposed to warm your beloved’s heart. Whether you believe Valentine’s Day is a holiday made up by the greeting card and chocolate companies, a ploy by the jewelry stores or if you truly enjoy heart shaped boxes and sappy cards, you can celebrate the day in style. Who cares if it’s with a romantic love interest or a group of friends staging an all out Cupid boycott. I’ve got a few wines to help you either forget there even is an opposite sex or toast your love.

Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Napa Valley  - $68
For those of you with deep pockets, Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 will have you drooling in your glass. Classic cassis, vanilla, leather and oak aromas. Loads of fruit flavors hit the front of the palate, hints of leather wash over mid palate and the finish is pure, sensual vanilla. Some wines are all hype and the price tag can leave you in a little sticker shock. I can tell you; this wine is worth the $68 price tag. Obviously not an everyday wine but if you want toe curling wine, this is the one.  

Bella Glos Pinot Noir 2009, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County - $44
Aromas of spicy black cherry and ripe black fruits. Flavors consist of berries, plums and more spice. Finish is long and supple. We paired with an array of charcuterie with local hard cheeses and meats.
Meiomi Pinot Noir 2010 Sonoma, Monterey, Santa Barbara - $22
Aside from the Caymus this was my favorite of the three and is listed at a good price. Ripe strawberry and oak aromas. Spicy earth, leather and red fruit flavors. The soft tannins are velvet on the palate. I just want to wrap myself up in this wine and at $22 a bottle, I just may.

Looking to sample all three of the above wines and three delectable white wines (more on those in another blog). The Wagner Family of Wine Tasting Flight is a great way to experience the wines for around $40.

This is by far the best Rosé I’ve had in some time. I used to shy away from Rosé, thinking of those sickly sweet pink wines I tasted in my youth. This 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon has aromas of fresh picked strawberries and flavors of white peach and a hit of citrus. We paired with spicy Korean Short Ribs.

Biltmore Estate Méthode Champenoise Pas de Deux–Sec - $19
I’m a bit of a sparkling wine junky. I pop open a bottle several times during the week. So when I received this sample, I didn’t wait long to dive right in. Aromas of white fruits consisting of ripe pear and crisp apple. Flavors are soft and full of floral and honey. A slight hint of yeast in the finish but not un-pleasing.

I love pink sparklers, they’re just fun and scream, drink me! A blend of Semillon, Traminer, Shiraz and Frontignac, aromas are full of strawberry and spice. Nose carries a hint of aromatic rose.Ripe cherry flavors mixed with a little hint of mango make this inexpensive sparkler, a good deal.

So if you find yourself dodging Cupid’s arrow this year or all out flinging yourself onto it, remember to raise a glass to good wine!

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

2012© Kellie Stargaard.  All Rights Reserved.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Super Bowl Sangria

Sangria, it’s not just for summer, it’s for Super Bowl sipping too! With the big game quickly approaching, you need something that will keep you going so you don’t get too tipsy from high alcohol drinks or too full from all those party foods and filling beer. Back in Tampa, when we hosted a cook out or a party that was going to last awhile, I would make up a big batch of Sangria. I find cutting the alcohol with fruit or club soda, you can stay in the game for the long haul. I recently received a sample of Eppa Super Fruit Sangria. Antioxidants, real fruit juices, just 8.5% alcohol and only 120 calories, you really can have you wine and drink it too!

Pomegranate and blueberry are the dominant flavors up front with blood orange bringing up the rear. I found it a little sweet so I added some cinnamon which really cut the sugar down.

The Sangria is a blend of Mendocino Cabernet and Syrah. The Cabernet provides the structure and depth while the Syrah brings fruit flavors to the party. The grapes are then combined with antioxidant-rich juices from pomegranate, blueberry, Mediterranean blood orange and Acai. Red wine is naturally rich in antioxidants but the addition of these super fruits raises the glass so to speak to nearly twice the amount of just straight red wine.

At this time, Eppa Super Fruit Sangria is only available in Florida found in local retailers. For the rest of you, why not make your own Sangria. You can even play around with some super fruit juices for the antioxidant benefits.

Sangria is a popular Spanish wine “punch” typically served in casual social gatherings during the hot summer months. Traditional Sangria is made with wine, chopped fruit, a sweetener, and brandy.

2 bottles of red or white wine
1 apple sliced
1 orange sectioned
Half a lemon
Half a lime
Cinnamon (to taste)
Seltzer or club soda (optional)
1-2 cups Pomegranate juice (optional)
Combine in a pitcher, pour over ice, enjoy

For a southern twist, add a little Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon Cranberry Moonshine. That will put a little giddy up in your glass, however does defeat the purpose of enjoying a lower alcoholic beverage.

For more traditional Sangria, try the following:
1/2 cup brandy
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup orange juice
1 bottle dry red wine
1/2 cup triple sec
1 lemon, sliced
1 orange, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1/4 cup white sugar (optional)
maraschino cherries
2 cups carbonated water (optional)

Before leaving Tampa, one of my favorite things to do with friends was meet them at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. The food was ok, but what I went for was the ambiance and Sangria! Amongst the colorful tiles, the fountain (if you were lucky enough to get in the main dining room), the Spanish accented wait staff, and a lovely pitcher of Sangria on your table, you’re taken away to another place. Until you step outside and just about get run over by one of the fuel tankers coming from the Port! Cheers!

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

2012© Kellie Stargaard.  All Rights Reserved.

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