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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chandon Brings You 365 Reasons to Celebrate: Sparkling Winery Pops the Cork on “Life Needs Bubbles”

Bookmark and Share   Everyone knows that February 14th is St. Valentine’s Day. But did you know that February 17th is “Random Acts of Kindness Day”? Or that May 12th is “Limerick Day”?

These are a few of the fun, surprising and little known holidays that Chandon has discovered, giving people reasons to celebrate life every day of the year. It’s all part of Chandon’s “Life Needs Bubbles” philosophy that embraces finding a reason to celebrate every day rather than waiting for the traditional holidays to hoist a glass.

To help spread the word, Chandon has created the “365 Reasons to Celebrate” calendar that features a whimsical mix of traditional holidays (February 14th Valentine’s Day), little-known holidays (July 5th Introduction of the Bikini in France Day, June 22nd National Chocolate Éclair Day) and “this-day-in-history” milestones (July 20th First Man on the Moon, August 25th Mickey Mantle’s Birthday, November 23rd The Day The First Jukebox was Invented). If you'd like to download all 365 reasons to celebrate to your desktop calendar, please visit http://www.chandon.com/365/chandon-365.ics to plan your social calendar with panache.

Life Needs Bubbles and an open bottle of Chandon has the power to transform an everyday moment into a special occasion. And whether it’s in honor of The Birthday of Happy Hour on November 12th or National Sangria Day on December 20th, you’ll find every day of the year offers a reason to celebrate.

Founded in 1973, Domaine Chandon was the first American sparkling wine venture established by a French Champagne house (Moët & Chandon). Chandon crafts a range of sparkling wines that reflect California’s vibrant regional character yet remain true to the practices of méthode traditionnelle. A leader in viticulture as well as winemaking, Domaine Chandon is at the forefront of sustainable farming practices and continues to replenish, control, and in many cases restore the natural habitat. Domaine Chandon’s acclaimed fine dining restaurant étoile received a star rating in the 2010 Michelin Guide.
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Sine Qua Non 2007 Labels Syrah and 2007 Pictures Grenache

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SQN 2007 Labels Syrah
Bookmark and Share Having dinner at Todd English's Blue Zoo restaurant in Orlando is a special event in itself. The architecture is dazzling with sculpted glasswork and shimmering chandeliers to capture the light and your imagination. Add three elusive never to be forgotten wines and you truly have an evening to etch into your memory.

The occasion was a dinner for our organization's executive board and I had selected a couple of nice wines to accompany the four-course meal. The white, to go with the ahi tuna or mahi mahi entrees, was Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, a nice Marlborough with some zip. The red was the 2007 Blue Rock Baby Blue from the Alexander Valley AVA in Sonoma. This red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Merlot and Malbec is made in an approachable style that is simply delicious.

On any other night, the Baby Blue would have been the star of the evening. Not this time.

One of our board members asked if he could bring some special bottles of wine. "Of course,'" I replied. At $25 corkage per bottle, this is much less expensive than even mundane wine on the wine list. These wines were certainly not mundane -- actually in a universe apart from mundane wine.

Swirling in decanters in all their glory were the Sine Qua Non 2007 Labels Syrah, 2007 Pictures Grenache and Bevan Cellars 2008 David's Cuvee.

Sine Qua Non is Latin for, “without which, it could not be.” In 1994, Elaine and Manfred Krank established Sine Qua Non in Ventura. The winery sources many of its grapes from Santa Barbara County, including the famous Bien Nacido Vineyard. The focus is on Rhone varietals.

SQN is a "cult wine." Not much is produced. Our friend on the board is on a mailing list and is given an opportunity to buy this scarce wine.  SQN wines, each which have unique label art, a name and unusual bottle, are snapped up quickly and the values skyrocket each year. To get a bottle, you may have to do so through an auction and be prepared to pay more than $200 each for the '07 Grenache and Syrah.

Our friend was leaving a consulting company and preparing for a new position at Google. He wanted a chance to savor the wine with friends who could appreciate it and in so doing, "make a memory."
 
There's much to be said about the SQN Syrah, but I can sum it up by saying I've never tasted a finer wine and it made all other Syrahs seem clumsy by comparison. It's a blend of blend of 89% Syrah, 7% Grenache, and 4% Viognier from four separate vineyards. This is no California fruit bomb. It is lithe and agile with silky tannins and fabulous blueberry and blackberry flavor notes. It was a spectacular accompanyment to the beef tenderloin entree. 
 
The Pictures Grenache was also a revelation to me. I enjoy Grenache, especially the Spanish wines (Garnacha). It's fruity and light bodied. The SQN Grenache, in the hands of a master winemaker, is another creature entirely. This is a fuller bodied wine, but pure and precise with flavor notes of raspberry. Its freshness and richness make it remarkable.

The wine is 89% Grenache with 9.5% Syrah and a dash of Viognier.

Sine Qua Non? Sine Qua Cool!



Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sequoia Grove 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

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This Napa Valley gem was enjoyed while on a recent trip to the Dolphin resort in Orlando, Florida. Sequoia Grove is one of the top rated Napa wineries and their Cab is their flagship wine.

This is a full bodied wine rich with black cherry and currant flavor notes. It also has a touch of toastiness with smooth tannins. This Cab is blended with 12% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc. The wine spends 20 months aging in oak.

Sequoia Grove Winery sits on 22 acres right in the heart of the valley floor in an important region referred to as the Rutherford Bench. Their tasting room is housed in a 150-year-old barn, nestled among the majestic Sequoia trees.

Like its namesake, this is a majestic wine with loads of character. It retails for $38.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wine Tastings & Events: January 19-22, 2011

Marquis Philips
Image of Marquis Philips via Snooth
Wednesday, January 19 
The Andersons, Sylvania, Wine Tasting. 6-8 PM. Blind Tasting: We will be sampling four outstanding wines, and asking your opinions.
Don’t miss the fun. Flight $6.00.
 
Beer and Wine Cave, 4400 Heatherdowns, (419) 382-6221. 6-9 PM. Zinfandel Wines. $15.

Thursday, January 20 059216-yellow-road-sign-icon-food-beverage-food-grapes
The Andersons, Maumee, Wine Tasting. 5-7 PM. Closeouts, continued: 1. Marquis Philips Grenache, 2. Cameron Hughes Tannat, 3. Lot 205 Zinfandel, 4. Sterling Diamond Mountain Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. $4.00  per flight or nominal fee per sample.    

The Andersons, Talmadge Road. Wine Tasting. 6-8 PM. The Heart of Darkness: Big, full, dark reds wines. 1. Pietra Santa Cabernet, California, 2. Girard Petite Sirah, California, 3. Erales Malbec, Argentina, 4. Buoncristiani Napa Red, 5. Elderton Command Shiraz 2002, Australia, 6. Noval Black Port Dessert Wine, 7. Les Terrasses Priorat Red, Spain, 8. Zenato Vlapolcella, Italy. Nominal fee per sample.

Beer and Wine Cave, 4400 Heatherdowns, (419) 382-6221. 6-9 PM. Zinfandel Wines. $15.

Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-9 PM. What About Merlot? This edition of our Greatest Grapes series features that red-headed stepchild of the wine world: Merlot. Often overlooked and consistently underrated, Merlot is most certainly a world class varietal that merits further examination. Join us as we conduct shady experiments on merlots from all around the world.  Nominal fee per sample.

Friday, January 21
Aficionado Wine and Cigars, The Shoppes at RiverPlace, 26567 N. Dixie Highway, Suite 135, Perrysburg, (419-873-4444). 5:00 – 8:30 p.m. Burgundy Wines from Albert Bichot: 1. Chablis Domaine Long-Depaquit, 2. Macon-Villages, 3. Gevrey-Chambertin, 4. Pommard. $20 tasting.

Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-9 PM. What About Merlot? This edition of our Greatest Grapes series features that red-headed stepchild of the wine world: Merlot. Often overlooked and consistently underrated, Merlot is most certainly a world class varietal that merits further examination. Join us as we conduct shady experiments on merlots from all around the world.  Nominal fee per sample.

* Special Event * Wine by the Glass Pavilion, Toledo Museum of Art. 7:00 – 9:30 PM. Drop-in wine tasting: Deepest Purple. Enjoy four wines, light snacks and a view of the Glass Pavilion Hot Shop. $15 members, $20 non-members.

Saturday, January 22  
Aficionado Wine and Cigars, The Shoppes at RiverPlace, 26567 N. Dixie Highway, Suite 135, Perrysburg, (419-873-4444). 5:00 – 8:30 p.m. Burgundy Wines from Albert Bichot: 1. Chablis Domaine Long-Depaquit, 2. Macon-Villages, 3. Gevrey-Chambertin, 4. Pommard. $20 tasting.

The Andersons, Woodville Mall. 1-3 PM. Closeout wines. 1. Astica Torrantes Argentina, 2. Sonoma Vineyards Syrah Ca, 3. Henkell Rose Brut Germany, 4. Waterbrook Reserve Merlot. $1.25 per flight or nominal fee per sample.

Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. Noon to 5:00 PM. Regional Differences in Australian Wines. Nominal fee per sample or by the flight. Normal tastings $10 to $20.
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[Information on tastings can be sent to TWAV@ATT.NET.]

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Estate Winery: What Does The Term Mean?

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The Bergström Winery in Oregon's Willamette Va...Image via Wikipedia
 Bookmark and Share   As you scan the labels of bottles in your favorite wine shop, you probably see a lot of  
information you've seen but never thought about before. Some of the label is just marketing hype, but if you are looking at a bottle of American wine, the words "Estate Wine" or "Estate Bottled" do have an important meaning controlled by law.

While terms like "Reserve" or "Old Vines" have no rules behind them, the use of "Estate" on wine is regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

There are three requirements to fit the definition of an estate wine.

1. Wines with an "estate bottled" designation must also designate an appellation of origin or an AVA (American Viticultural Area) and both the winery and vineyards must be located there. Appellation and AVA are terms for an established wine growing region. You can't be a Napa winery and source grapes from Lodi and call it an estate wine.

2. The grapes must come from vineyards owned or controlled by the winery. If you own a winery and purchase fruit from another vineyard owner, you must have control over the vineyard. This would include decisions on what grapes to plant, irrigation, cultivation and other important decisions. If you don't control the vineyard, you can't put "estate" on the bottle.

3. The wine must have been produced, from the initial crush to bottling, in a continuous process without leaving the winery's premises.

Usually estate wines cost more because of the extra care and effort that goes into production of the wine. This doesn't mean that non-estate wines are bad. Some wines are labelled "California" for example, with grapes from several different wine growing areas -- but they can still produce exceptional wines.

By the way, although the term "Reserve" isn't regulated if you are buying from a respected winery, you should feel pretty confident that there is something special about the wine. "Reserve wines" are typically considered the winery's best or upper echelon wines and good wineries try to live up to that standard. With struggling or unknown wine producers: buyer beware.
 
 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bodega Tikalo 2007 Alba Liza Tempranillo Garnacha

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This Spanish red is an amazing value at about $11.This palate pleaser is a blend of 65% Tempranillo and 35% Garnacha (Grenache). The wine is aged in stainless steel which lends it a nice round taste. The vines average 30 years old. The Alba region is located 40 miles south of Madrid.

The Alba Liza accompanied a meal of potato soup, bread and salad. This medium bodied red hit just the right note. We aerated it with our Vinturi and the light fruits flavors of black cherry and a touch of tartness shone through

This wine is recommended. It is a great value and the flavor compares very favorably with much more expensive wines.
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