Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: A Special Occasion with Banfi Rosa Regale and Spencer Tracy

I was sent this wine for review purposes. The opinions are all my own.

We all fall into the winey trap at some point in our lives. You get sent a beautiful bottle of sparkling wine to review and you think, "Ooooh, I'm going to save this for a special occasion." And then life gets in the way and three months later, it's sitting in the back of the fridge and you are still running around to school meetings and basketball games and doing laundry and cooking and, OK, you get my drift here right?

And then it's a rainy spring Saturday night and lo and behold, the entire family is sitting in one room. At the same time. Even the doggies. Plus, you have a copy of the Academy Award nominated 1937 movie "Captains Courageous" starring Spencer Tracy and BAM! You've got a special occasion. (I would even go so far as to say a priceless occasion, since they Winey son is already off at college and the Winey daughter has only one year left before she leaves us as well. Family times like this are getting rarer and rarer around here!)

label of Banfi Rosa Regale wine So out came the bottle of Banfi's Rosa Regale (2011, 7%, Italy), which as I said, had been sent to me to review about three months previously. This is such a pretty wine, from color to taste. The pink color gives way to a nose of strawberries and roses. Not thick and overpowering, more like the scent of a summer garden. It pours out of the bottle full of teeny tiny bubbles and tastes of roses and sweet raspberries. The smallness of the bubbles give it a very elegant feel in your mouth, as opposed to the bolder bubbles of drier wine. This was such a wonderful wine to sip on while we watched the movie. I can't imagine anyone not liking it. Even if sweet wines aren't to your taste, this is such a subtle, flavorful sweeter wine that you really can't go wrong with.

Spencer Tracy and Freddie Bartholomew in Captains Courageous
Spencer Tracy as Manuel Fidello
 (with co-star Freddie Bartholomew)
 in Captains Courageous
And about that movie. If you've never seen it, I highly recommend that you do. It's based on a Rudyard Kipling novel of the same name. Spencer Tracy won an Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Manuel Fidello, a Portuguese-American fisherman on a schooner in the Grand Banks off Newfoundland. There is a scene where Manuel speaks of his dead father being welcomed into heaven by Jesus, the head fisherman. The Lord tells him that his work is done and it is time to lay his tired head down and rest and that He will take care of the rest of the work that. I don't think I'll ever forget the comforting images that Tracy brought to mind in this scene, or the joy on his face as he spoke the words. Amazing.

I guess I'm really trying to say here that there are a lot of "special" occasions in life...sometimes you just have to stop and realize that they are staring you in the face. So sit down with your loved ones, put the movie in and uncork that sparkly bottle of wine!


I was sent this wine for review purposes. The opinions are all my own.

Pin It

Monday, April 22, 2013

Winey Earth Day Tasting Notes: Lodi Rules with the Lodi Rules Program

Thank you to the folks at the Lodi Winegrape Commission for sending me some Lodi Rules certified wine samples and for educating me about the Lodi Rules certification program!

Isn't it nice when one of your favorite topics of conversation is also committed to sustainable growing and eco-friendly practices? OK, I guess if your favorite topic of conversation is the major league baseball, that might not especially ring true for you. But, since I am a Winey Mom, the idea of a responsible wine industry just warms my heart and makes me feel, oh just a little bit smarmy when I open a bottle of Lodi, California wine.

Lodi Rules logo
Lodi Rules logo
I knew that Lodi, California has been considered one of the best kept secrets in wine for some time now. They've been growing grapes up there for 150 years, but it's only in the past 15 or so that the area has blossomed into a treasure trove of wineries. Right now, there are about 80 wineries in Lodi, and 50 of them offer tastings. What I didn't know was that there is a program in place there called Lodi Rules, which sets down some pretty tough environmentally friendly standards for wineries to bear its logo. There are 7 areas of sustainable wine growing that the winery has to meet (some of which, like air quality management and water management get way too technical and science-y for me to try and discuss with any knowledge). In 2012, over 20,000 acres in Lodi were certified as such, as well as another 6,000 out side of the area. Committed to the environment? I'd say so.

But let's face it, when it comes right down to it, you can be a wonderful environmentalist but it doesn't help you much if the grapes you farm make icky wine. (Icky being a Winey Mom technical term.) The Lodi Winegrape Commission set out to prove that they are rocking the environment as well as the winemaking when they sent me some samples from four of their Lodi Rules Certified Wineries. They also hosted one of the most fun Internet chats I've participated in recently....doesn't hurt to "lol" while you are sipping at the computer. Or anywhere else for that matter, but let's get back on track here. Not only did I get to learn about Lodi and its wines, I got to try some brand spanking new to me varietals.

label of Bokish Winery Albarino wineThe first wine I want to tell you about is from Bokisch Vineyards. It's an Albarino (2012, 12.5%, Lodi, CA) which is a Spanish grape. And not just any Spanish grape - it's the most popular white wine in Spain. And after sipping some, I can say that all those wine drinking Spaniards know their stuff! It starts out with a nose that just full of flavors: some lemon, peach and a bit of strawberry as well as some minerals. The flavor follows right along with that - crisp and alive in your mouth. The minerals make it so vibrant and it finishes off with some of that lemon again. Loved this wine so much! Nothing heavy here - just lots of dancing flavors that reminded me somewhat of a Pinot Grigio, but with a bit more spice to it. Long live Spain! If you can get your hands on an Albarino, give it a sip. Or a hundred.

bottle of Michael David Winery's 2011 CinsaultThe next wine was an Ancient Vine Cinsault (2011, 13.5%, Lodi, CA) from Michael David Winery. And for my first sip of Cinsault, I learned I was sipping on Cinsault royalty. The vines of these grapes were planted in 1885 - one of the world's oldest Cinsault plantings (hence the "Ancient Vine" designation, huh? Michael David is also Lodi's oldest producing vineyard. Lotta big history going on here.). An original rootstock? OK, I was dutifully impressed. And then I tried the wine. And was spectacularly impressed. This is a very pretty garnet colored wine with a nose of cherry. My first reaction was "Yum!" (seriously, I wrote it right in my tasting notes: "Yum!".) I have heard wines described as having a taste of violets, but this was the first time that I've actually tasted it myself. Violet, with some herbs and tart cherries around it. It was silky smooth in the mouth and it had a nice zippy finish to it - full of white pepper and warm on the front of my tongue. It's definitely a lighter bodied red, but with such a vivid taste to it. A great red to bring out for for grilled vegetables.

I have more wines to tell you about that were grown under the Lodi Rules program, but I can only drink so much at one sitting before I, well, let's just say begin to lose my focus. So I will report back to you on them very soon. In the meantime, I was so excited to be introduced to two new varietals that are absolutely wonderful. Light white and light red drinkers take note: find these wines and swirl, sniff, sip as  soon as you can!

I was sent these wines as samples. The opinions expressed  here are all my own.

Pin It

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: Clos Du Bois Rouge Takes Away The Blues

The title of this post might be a little misleading. I'm not sad - not having a fit of the blues or anything. It's just that I really, really love the color blue. Ask the Winey Daughter, who reminds me constantly that the main color used to decorate our house is blue. (I counter with the fact that there are MANY shades of this color used around the house and that I haven't noticed it affecting her brain or her ability to shop or anything.) My eyes are blue. OK, I can't really do anything about that, but I do see the world through blue colored irises. A bright blue sky can make my mood soar. But I just had a wine that may make me change my mind about blue being my favorite color. It just might be changing to rouge.

red evening gown
Seriously, isn't this just
And by rouge, I do not mean red. No plain old paint the barn red here, folks. I mean ROUGE. The word that makes me think of France, red silk, lush red strawberries...and oh yeah, red wine. And by that I mean red wine as in Clos du Bois' latest red blend offering, Rouge (2010, 13.5%, CA).

I will admit that the first time I had a glimpse of this new wine was on.... Pinterest. Yup. I'm hooked. And I follow the Clos du Bois folks because they put up such darn pretty pictures! When they introduced Rouge, I could NOT get enough of the red dresses they pinned in celebration of the release. Shallow? Hah! I call it fashion forward. Or "fashion I wish I could afford". Either way....

picture of a bottle of Clos du Bois Rouge red blend wineAfter hearing about Rouge, it took me a bit to grab a bottle, but I'm so glad I did. As I have said many times, I am a big fan of red blends these days. But that also means that my red blend standards are pretty high, so you've got to bring an amazing blend to the table (or couch, depending on how the day as gone) to impress me. Well, this one did.

The nose was fragrant with strawberries, raspberries and touch of smokey oak. And the taste? WOW! Strawberry followed by a touch of oak and a teeny bit of cocoa. Just enough cocoa to make me very, very happy and conjure up images of chocolate dipped strawberries. It finishes with some soft, supple tannins. The whole feel of this wine is of deep red velvet. Such a smooth, easy to drink red. I'd recommend it for any occasion and am going to have to add it to my "favorite" list of red blends. I found this for $9.99 at a local store - so let's add it to the frugal sipping hall of fame, shall we?

Follow the Winey Mom on Pinterest...and take a peek at all those really gorgeous pins from Clos du Bois!


Pin It

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: Let's Put Some Spring In Our Wine

Now that the days are turning sunnier (if not warmer, at least in my part of the woods),  my winey thoughts are turning to wines of a lighter nature. A big old red next to the fire on a snowy night is perfect. But many of us change our wine selections with the season, so I thought it'd be a good idea to offer up some springy wines for our taste buds.

Both of these wines come courtesy of  Alexander Valley Vineyards and while they're very different wines, they both would be perfect spring sippers.

Alexander Valley Dry Rose of Sangiovese bottle and glass of wineFirst up, The Dry Rosé of Sangiovese (2012, 13.2%, CA). The first thing you notice is the gorgeous pink color. It's the same pink as the impatiens that I know will be growing in my garden someday. (Gardeners in NE Ohio must have faith.) The nose was lovely! Full of strawberry and raspberry and flowers. But...the taste was something quite different. Tart citrus with some melon around the edges and strawberry at the end. It was like sniffing a Moscato and sipping a Sauvignon Blanc. What a combo! The finish lingered tartly with some more strawberry slipping through. It's not as thin a wine as you'd think either - it held up nicely in my mouth with some roundness to it.

If you went for this wine expecting a fruity treat, you need to read the label once again: it does say DRY Rosé. My best advice is to expect the unexpected here - it's not what it smells or looks like, but it does have some wonderfully subtle flavors. I'm not sure it's a wine for the masses - like at a party - but it IS a wine for the dry wine lover at end of a long, hot day, paired with shellfish and sourdough bread on the patio.

label for Alexander Valley Vineyards Gewurz wine
The next spring offering I tried was the Gewürz (2012, 12.8%, CA). The grapes for this wine come from two CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) in Mendocino, so the wine started with organic Gewurztraminer grapes. It pours out of the bottle with a few bubbles and is a very pale, pale yellow color (kind of the same color I am at the end of a long winter). The nose gives you some faint flowers, some honeysuckle and bit of pear. The taste threw me for a loop at first. What was it? Finally (after sipping and sipping - I'm no quitter) I realized it was pear and minerals. What a combo! There was also a bit of warm spice to it - I'd say cinnamon. The finish was of lingering tart grapefruit and was a teeny bit bubbly in my mouth. I really loved this wine, but be warned - it is NOT your typical Gewurztraminer. It's definitely off-dry - just a light touch of sweetness to it. It is, however, a lovely, lively pairing of flavors. You could sip it with spicy food (spicy shrimp comes to mind - I'm on a shellfish kick these days) or on its own.

This wine really surprised me - in a good way! Such a new blend of flavors and aromas. Definitely worth a try (it retails for about $12) if you want to step away from the sweeter wines, but still want a little spring taste in your mouth.

So I started the spring sipping season here in the Winey household on a high note. It's always a good thing when you get some new flavors and tastes in your mouth. It keeps your Ohio mind off the fact that it's snowing. Again.


I was sent these wines for review purposes. The opinions are all my own.

Pin It

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: Spring Cleaning My Wine Journal

So it's March and the season known as spring is supposedly arrived somewhere around the 20th of last month. Please note that I live in Northeastern Ohio and the word is "supposedly". Because who here in this part of the world hasn't pulled out the down coat for the trip to Easter services?

Many people celebrate/mark the beginning of the season by doing a spring cleaning. Of their house. I have good information that this is true, although I cannot tell you so from firsthand experience. I totally and completely missed out on the house cleaning gene while I was being formed. Oh, I clean. And organize. My house is not dirty (no fair peeking during muddy season though - I DO have 2 doggies). But cleaning it just isn't my first priority. Unless company is coming. Even then it moves up only to second priority, behind the "food and wine" first priority.

My wine journal is another story altogether. I sip lot of wine in my quest to keep us all informed, and sometimes a bottle just doesn't get around to making into my brain's writing queue. So I like to page through the entries every once in a while and take stock of the wines I sipped, but didn't, for whatever reason, write about. The following is my Spring Cleaning 2013 Round Up of Wines:

bottle label, ministry of the vinterior chardonnay, 2009Ministry of the Vinterior edict number 21 Ministry of the Vinterior Chardonnay (2010, 14.2%, Russian River Valley, CA). I found this at a store wine tasting and really liked my teeny sip. Plus, the label is funny and the folks at the Ministry seem to have a great sense of humor, if not a bit of a big brother complex. (See quote in box at left.) The nose is flowery lavender with a hint of sweet pear. The flowery taste comes through when you sip, along with the pear and some peach. It finishes with a touch of oakey warmth and a hint of cinnamon. A good Chardonnay if you don't like yours big and buttery. It was quite lovely!

label from bottle of Mark West ChardonnayMark West Chardonnay (2010, 13.8%, Sonoma Valley, CA). Bet you thought I was going to say Pinot Noir, didn't you? That's cause Mark West Pinot Noir has an almost cult-like following. I have lots of winey friends who love it. But I happened upon some of their Chardonnay and thought I'd give it a try. The bouquet is butter, oak and pear - a classic big Chardonnay nose! The taste is of pear and cinnamon, courtesy of that oak. It finishes with some soft round tannins and has a full, lush feel in the mouth. If you like a big buttery Chardonnay, go for this one and not the above Ministry offering.

bottle of Big House Red wineBig House Red (2011, 13.5%, Monterey Co, CA). You gotta give credit to a winery that names itself after the nearby prison. And kind of celebrates the fact too, because all of the wines have a prison themed thing going for them. The nose is cherry and a bit of smoke. It tastes of dark cherries, black plums and some woody herbs. It had a bit of oakey warmth to it, which showed up in the lingering finish as well. A nice warm red for about $8.99. I'd buy it again. I'd do it legally too.
bottle of Kendall Jackson Summation red blend wine
Kendall Jackson Summation (2008, 13.5%, CA). I sipped this red blend at the Lake Erie Islands Wine Fest last fall. I was looking forward to trying it, as I'm a big fan of Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay. And while it was good, it was just that: good. Not amazing. The nose is dark cherry with a bit of earth. It tastes of earth and plum with a hint of chocolate around the edges of your tongue. There is definitely an oak taste to the finish, which is warm and tingly. But there was also a coffee tinge to the finish that sort of spoiled it all for me. Maybe I was building it up too much. But for about $15 a bottle, I'd try something else.

So now I am officially done with my version of Winey spring cleaning. Hope it helps you with your Winey spring wine buying!


Pin It