Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I'm back with a vengeance!!

I received some really good news today. I have been slacking on updating this journal, and I'm sorry for that. I have a new phone, and it should make it more convenient to update my blog.

Today I was able to share the 2007 JAX cab and Y3 Syrah... Yum yum.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thursday night wine

I am drinking two fine wines tonight that pair excellently with my wild Scottish salmon. YUM YUM 

Sequana is part of the Hess Collection of wine. The pinot noir is produced from grapes in the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County and the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey, CA. This is a more full bodied pinot and paired perfectly with my salmon.
Secondly, I opened the Chafen Family Vineyards Rose. This wine is made by Dutch Henry in Calistoga, CA. This rose is usually a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Only 69 cases of the 2010 vintage were produced. Great rose! 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Silverado Vineyards

 I recently returned from spending time in California this summer. I visited 63 wineries total and have some of my favorites that I'm going to share with you. I visited Silverado Vineyards on my first full day in wine country. The winery is located up a small hill off the Silverado Trail. The driveway up the hill leads to the view of the building in the picture above. The tasting room is located inside.

“The beginning of vine planting is like the beginning of mining for precious metals: the winegrower also ‘prospects’.” 

- Robert Louis Stevenson, 

The Silverado Squatters, 1880

This quote is found on Silverado's website, and I think it's a great winemaking quote. It's from Stevenson's travel memoir that he wrote while on his honeymoon trip to Napa Valley. I am going to have to read this book. Most people don't realize that people were making wine in wine country way before prohibition. I'm currently reading Last Call: The Rise and Fall of prohibition by Daniel Okrent. I will write a few posts on the crazy history behind that movement. Silverado Vineyards was founded a century after Robert Louis Stevenson's visit. 

Behind the tasting bar

Other side of tasting room
 The tasting room is very open with the tasting bar facing a wall of wine and the views on the other side. You can step outside the tasting room for a gorgeous view of the surrounding valley. There are outside tables for visitors to sit and sip their favorite vintage.
My mom and I shared the premier tasting for $25. This was a nice tasting. I really enjoyed the Square One Claret as it had a nice blend. The grapes for this wine are mostly from Mt. George Vineyard. Mt. George was Napa Valley's first area for grape plantings in the 19th century.

2003 SOLO Cabernet
 We didn't have any of the SOLO on this trip as it wasn't on the tasting menu. I did get to try the SOLO at Bern's Winefest in Tampa last spring.

I would highly recommend stopping by this winery for a tasting. Make sure to take your tastings outside and enjoy them with the gorgeous view. It's silly to stand inside facing a wall.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Castoro Cellars (Dam Fine Wine)

I have been to Paso Robles for the past 2 years and will be going there again this year. Castoro Cellars has been on my list of "must visit" wineries, and we have not made it there yet. It is on the list for the trip this year. I recently had the chance to try their Fume Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. I enjoyed all these wines for the price/taste ratio. 

The tasting room is located off Highway 46 and is on the way to Cambria. The wine tasting room also has a local artisan products to buy. The winery has concerts in the summer with a wide variety of music. 

Castoro Cellars also promotes sustainability in the everyday operation of the winery. In 2006, Castoro Cellars installed solar panels in the Cobble Creek vineyard and on top of the events room located near the tasting room. The summer concerts series is run completely on solar power provided through a solar generator. The winery also stopped selling plastic bottles in the winery and opted to place free purified water dispensers. I think all these changes are great and make Castoro Cellars an industry trendsetter. 

Castoro Cellars has 300 acres of "Certified Organic" vineyards. To be "Certified Organic" these vineyards must be in compliance with USDA standards.  

 This is a light summer wine that goes well with seafood. There is a bit of Gewürztraminer in the wine. There are also Sauvignon Blanc grapes from the Dos Vinas Vineyards. This sells for approximately $14. 

 This 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is $15. 
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mollydooker Wines

Last fall I had the opportunity to attend a dinner with Sparky Marquis, the winemaker for Mollydooker wines, at the JW Marriott in Orlando, FL. I haven't posted the pictures from this event and wanted to share them with you. Sparky and his wife, Sarah, have been making wine in Australia for many years now. In 1999 they were Australia's winemakers of the year. Mollydooker wines have received numerous accolades and high ratings over the years.  Mollydooker is Aussie for left-handed, because both Sparky and Sarah are left-handed. The winery is located in McLaren Vale area of Australia. 

Before we entered the main dining room, we had the 2010 Violinist ($25). This wine is made from the Verdehlo grape. This grape is normally used in Portugal and associated with the island of Madeira. The grape also grows well in Australia. This vintage was given 90 points by Wine Advocate. This is Mollydooker's only white wine and it was amazing. I just thought it was refreshing, light, and lovely. 

Next, we entered the main room for dinner and a wine blending seminar. The event started with a talk by Sparky Marquis and his mother. They discussed the history of Mollydooker wines and how to do the Mollydooker shake. This shake is for people to use so that Mollydooker wines can drink well when opened at a young age. This shake is not meant for the The Violinist, The Sparkling Shiraz, or for wines older than 2 years old. The shake releases nitrogen gas which is stored in the wine to protect it from oxygen so the amount of sulphites in the wine is reduced. The nitrogen tends to flatten the fruit flavor of young wines. Shaking the wine releases the nitrogen. You can watch the video HERE to see how to properly execute the Mollydooker shake. 

We had a blending seminar before dinner. We blended the Boxer (Shiraz), Maitre D (Cabernet), and the Scooter(Merlot). Sparky explained that this is how he creates the Two Left Feet wine. This wine is a blend of the Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot. He tweaks the blend of this wine each year. This was a fun experience where we had a beaker and tried to create the best "Two Left Feet" wine at the table. 

Sparky Marquis

Wines that we tried to blend
 Finally, we were given a tasting of all the BIG Mollydooker wines. We had the Gigglepot, Blue Eyed Boy, Enchanted Path, Carnival of Love, and Velvet Glove. These wines were paired with an amazing filet mignon. All of these wines are very big and need to be paired with a big and bold piece of meat. 

Filet that paired with Mollydooker wines
Sparky holding the Velvet Glove

creme brûlée dessert 
Today, Mollydooker wines consist of: 

  • 2010 The Maitre D $25 -- Cabernet Sauvignon (90 points by Wine Advocate, WA)
  • 2010 The Two Left Feet $25 -- Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Blend (90 points by WA and Wine Spectator, WS)
  • 2010 The Scooter $25 -- Merlot (90 points by WA)
  • 2010 The Boxer $25 -- Shiraz (91 points by WA) 
  • 2010 Miss Molly $25 -- Sparkling Shiraz. This wine is the girlfriend of The Boxer. 
  • 2010 Gigglepot $49-- Cabernet Sauvignon. (92 points WA, 91 points WS)
  • 2010 Blue Eyed Boy $49 -- Shiraz. (93 p0ints WA, 91 points WS)
  • 2010 Enchanted Path $90 -- Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon. (94 points WA, 93 points WS)
  • 2010 Carnival of Love $90 -- Shiraz. (95 points WA, 94 points WS)
  • 2010 Velvet Glove $185 -- Shiraz. ( 97 points WA, 96 points WS)
The evening was really fun and very memorable. It isn't every day that Sparky Marquis is in Orlando to share all his amazing wines. 

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Maryhill Winery

Maryhill Winery has found a distributor in the sunshine state! They will be distributed by the Opici Wine Company of Fl. Our friend Mary, who works for Opici,  had a Maryhill representative in town and we were able to taste the incoming wines. 

Maryhill Winery was the 2009 Washington State Winery of the Year. The winery was established in 1999 by Craig and Vicki Leuthold on land that was originally used as a farming community along the Columbia River in the early 1900's. In 2001, Maryhill Winery opened its doors as one of only 100 wineries in the state. Today, Washington has more than 600 wineries. That is one crazy influx of wineries in only 11 years. The winery now has a very nice tasting room and large amphitheater for summer concerts. The winemaker at Maryhill used to be the winemaker at Paraduxx. 

Some of the wines that will be available for purchase in Florida are below: 

1) 2010 Maryhill Riesling  ($14) This wine had flavors of citrus and fruit. The winery suggests pairing this wine with shortbread cookies. 

2) 2010 Maryhill Winemaker's White ($12) This wine had flavors of pineapple and pear. The blend is 42% Viognier, 25% Semillion, 18% Sauvignon Blanc, and 15% Chardonnay. 

3) 2010 Maryhill Winemaker's Red ($15) The blend is 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Syrah, and 10% Cabernet Franc. 

4) 2007 Maryhill Merlot (approx. $18) 

5) 2010 Maryhill Viognier ($16)  The viognier was a fan favorite. I really enjoyed this wine and the price is great. I can't believe the prices are so low for these wines. I'm not complaining though! haha 

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

La Luce By Donna Scala at Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort in Orlando

I surprised my mom for mother's day by taking her to stay at the Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando. We went to La Luce for Mother's Day dinner. Chef Donna Scala created the menu and dishes at La Luce. Donna visits the restaurant three or four times a year to revamp the menu and make necessary changes. 

The restaurant looks and feels very modern with an open pizza kitchen and huge chalk art installations. The restaurant brings different artists into La Luce to create pieces of art on these boards. The art changes within the restaurant throughout the year. This is a new and innovative way to showcase different artists. 

We brought our own bottle of wine to pair with the dinner. The restaurant charges a $20 corkage fee. We brought a 2010 Turley Juvenile Zinfandel. This wine accompanied our meal perfectly. Our waiter's name was Michael S. and he was excellent. This was our first visit and he answered all our questions regarding the menu. 

We started by sharing the tricolor salad with Arugula, Endive, and Radicchio. This salad was super light and refreshing. 

Next, we shared the margherita pizza and fettuccini con bolognese. Michael told me the restaurant imports its pizza dough from Italy. This is why the pizza made me feel like I was sitting in Piazza Navona. My mom really enjoyed the fettuccini con bolognese with meat and duck ragu. This dish is amazing and we both liked it with fettuccini pasta. 

Finally, we shared the butterscotch pudding dessert with toffee. This dessert is made in-house and it was SOOOO GOOD! I don't even like toffee that much, and I loved this dessert. 

I would come back to La Luce in a heartbeat. I would also like to visit Donna's restaurant in Napa Valley, Bistro Don Giovanni.