Thursday, June 28, 2012

Toad Hollow Sonoma County Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir 2011

Hot, humid and miserable has given way to breezy, cool and wonderful, at least for this morning anyway. Hey, I’ll take whatever comfortable weather I can get. Forecast temps of 104 degrees by the end of this week has me questioning, “What happened to our beautiful, cool mountain air?” The heat and humidity in the afternoon are like Florida temps. Can’t complain too much, we deal with it for about two and a half months while they deal with it for nine months.

I will tell you this; the heat has me opening more crisp and refreshing wines than I can shake a corkscrew at. My latest, Toad Hollow’s 2011 Sonoma County Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir “Eye of the Toad” provided much needed relief from the heat but has the ability to warm my heart as well.

Floral, strawberry and peach aromas. Flavors of acidic unripe white peach and strawberry with a long and pleasing finish.

Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Alcohol: 11%
TA: 0.74 g/100ml
pH: 3.61
RS: .117%
SRP  - $11.99

The Pinot Noir grapes for Eye of the Toad are sourced from Sonoma County where cool evenings and mornings give way to warm sun filled days. The grapes are able to ripen slowly allowing for the full flavors to develop.

I’ve written a lot about Toad Hollow (click here) and the passion and drive two friends shared. Dr. Toad aka Robert Todd Williams and The Dancing Badger aka Rodney Strong started the winery in 1993 after retiring. The premise was to make fine wines at affordable prices.

It’s said Dr. Toad’s larger than life personality over shadowed his famous brother Robin Williams. Maybe that’s why Robin is so zany, just trying to get his share of the attention. 

Dr. Toad aka Robert Todd Williams passed away in 2007. According to his obit, his goal was to discount wine snobbery and make wine interesting. Hmm, I hope that’s what I accomplish with my posts to all of you each week too.

The Dancing Badger aka Rodney Strong, was an early pioneer of Sonoma County’s wine industry.  Strong was a successful dancer before retiring and taking on the title, winemaker. In 1959 he established Sonoma County’s 13th bonded winery in 1959.

Toad Hollow not only speaks to the kid in me with their wonderful illustrations and story but also speaks to me as a wine lover. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, wine is for sharing. Whether it’s a glass celebrating friendship, a wine to share over a meal with family or just a way to end your day; wine makes everything special.

Speaking of special, I’m so excited about my upcoming trip to the Wine Blogger’s Conference in Portland, OR, I can hardly contain myself. I’ve booked my hotel for an extended stay at McMenamins Crystal Hotel and will be staying at The Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, another McMenamins hotel.

Not a plug for McMenamins, just love staying at off the wall, boutiques versus the corporate mainstream names and these both look like places I’ll have a really good time at. After those two, I will be heading to a corporate national chain generic hotel for the conference but at least there will be wine!

As always, cheers to Toad and Badger!

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

González Byass Family of Wine Altozano Verdejo Sauvignon Blanc 2009 and Altozano Tempranillo 2009

As I sit on my porch on this early foggy morning, I can see the first rays of sunlight filtering through the trees. After two days of rain, I’ll take whatever sunshine I can get. Temps have been wonderful with highs in just the low 70’s. Unfortunately our spring like temps in June can’t last forever, highs for today and tomorrow are soaring to the upper 80’s. Could be worse, we could be sweatin’ in steamy Tampa instead of cool and breezy NE Georgia.

I recently sampled a few wines that will help you get through these warm summer evenings, González Byass Family of Wine Altozano Verdejo Sauvignon Blanc 2009 and  Altozano Tempranillo 2009.

Altozano Verdejo Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Tropical mango aromas with a hint of melon. Flavors of white peach, refreshing acidity and chalky mineral finish. Light and refreshing summer wine. We paired with breakfast for dinner, complete with eggs, home fries and home cured bacon.
Varietal – 70% - Verdejo, 30% Sauvignon Blanc
pH – 3.38
TA – 5g/l
TS – 2.3 gr/l
Alcohol – 13%

Altozano Tempranillo 2009
Spicy black pepper aroma. Flavors full of cherry, plum, licorice and cherry cola. Smooth and easy drinking wine. We paired with a Spanish chorizo tortilla.
Varietal – 100% - Tempranillo
pH – 3.73
TA – 5.2g/l
RS – 1.8 gr/l
Alcohol – 13.5%

The González Byass Company began as collaboration between Manual María González Ángel and Robert Blake Byass. Lured to the Jerez region by the thriving Sherry industry, Manual purchased a small winery in 1835. By 1885 Manual joined with Byass, his agent from England thus giving birth to the González Byass Company. Manual was also the first in Jerez to have electricity, running water and worked on the first railway project in Spain.

This forward thinking continues with the family today. The family is committed to protecting the environment and the restoration of the historical town of Jerez. Many family members sit on local boards and many have held consul positions in European countries. This along with keeping up with innovative winemaking technology will ensure the The González Byass Company will continue to stand the test of time. 

As the countdown to the official start of summer ramps up, I look forward to seeking out new ways to stay cool. It may come in the form of a swimmin’ hole, afternoons at Lake Lanier, sipping iced tea (unsweet, please) on the porch or an old summer favorite, the Popsicle. For evenings filled with fireflies and buzzing skeeters you can bet I’ll have some tasty wines by my side.

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Casa Vinicola Zonin Fiano, Prosecco and Vermentino

Morning temps in North Georgia are so cool some days it’s hard to believe it really is June. But as afternoon temps rise, humidity sets in and I’m dripping sweat into my sweet tea, it’s clearly summer. Since our sloping wooded land doesn’t allow for a pool I’m left to seek out swimming holes that don’t require rock climbing skills or leave me feeling like I’m in a scene from Deliverance. The warm temps also have me searching for great summer wines. Not just for front porch or air-conditioned living room sipping but wines that go great with summer foods.

Last weekend we put a few white wines to the test and paired with some of our favorite grilled and smoked meats as well as some indoor prepared meals. Masseria Altemura Fiano Salento 2011, Rocca Di Montemassi Vermentino and Zonin Prosecco, all samples from Casa Vinicola, Zonin USA.

Masseria Altemura Fiano Salento Dry White Wine 2011
A white wine full of tropical aromas of mango, pineapple and peach. Flavors bursting with creamy peach and bright green apple. Lemon finish provides for a striking and well balanced acidity. The wine is light, crisp and refreshing. We paired this wine with Stromboli filled with hard salami, Lebanese bologna, Swiss and provolone cheeses. I know many wouldn’t think to pair a white wine with an Italian food but the refreshing acidity helped to lighten up the dish for summer dining.
Varietal – 100% Fiano
Region – Puglia, Italy
Alcohol – 12.5%
SRP - $18

Rocca Di Montemassi Calasole Vermentino 2010
Floral and green apple aromas. Flavors of unripened white peach, melon, and lime. The Vermentino, a late ripening grape varietal, provides both a crisp and creamy mouthfeel, the best of both white wine worlds. We paired with smoked pork shoulder. The pairing was perfection.
Varietal - 100% Vermentino
Region – Maremma Area, Tuscany Region
Alcohol – 12.5%
SRP - $12.99

Zonin Prosecco
Crisp pear and almond flavors. Dry with just a hint of sugar flavors would provide for an excellent aperitif but the flavors lend themselves to many dishes with finesse.
Varietal – 100% Prosecco
Region - Veneto region
Alcohol – 11%
SRP - $8.99-$14.99
We paired with smoked beef ribs served with a small amount of spicy BBQ sauce. My big revelation and new guilty pleasure, Prosecco paired with salty potato chips. The combo is simply scrumptious.
Watching the fire flies light up the night while swatting at skeeters I welcome summer with open arms. However, I really do wish I could figure out how to put an in-ground pool on the property. May have to just settle for a plastic kiddie pool, maybe one in the shape of a turtle.

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