Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Winey Tasting Notes: Arizona Wine Fit For a President, and A Winey Mom and Son

The Winey Family came through for Christmas this year, as far as their Winey Mom is concerned. There was an Elon University wine glass from The Winey Freshman (i.e.: Daughter), a wine fridge from The Winey Hubby (dual control for reds and whites!) and four bottles of Arizona wine from The Winey Son.

You did not read that wrong: I said Arizona wine, Arizona being the temporary home of The Winey Son. He lives south of Tucson, which puts him waaay down in southern Arizona, just a quick drive away from Callaghan Vineyards in Sonoita. There is such a growing wine culture in Southeastern Arizona that some have ventured to nickname it "Napa-zona". In fact, there are 16 wineries within a half hour drive of his little town. How perfect. For me, anyway.

Callaghan Vineyards Buena Suerte red wineThe Winey Son and his pals have taken advantage of this fact and have made some memorable visits to some of those wineries, and it was at Callaghan Vineyards that he tasted "one of my favorite wines of all time" (direct quote from him, by the way). Being the wonderful child that he is, he bought his Mom a bottle for Christmas. And so on Christmas night, just before dinner, we opened a bottle of Callaghan's Buena Suerte Proprietary Red Blend (2012, 14.2%, AZ).

A little research told me that this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and that this wine has been served twice at the White House (not just any white house, I'm talking about THE White House, the one at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave), the first time in 1996 for a White House dinner for the Democratic National Committee and again in 2000 at President Clinton's last state dinner. Let's put all politics aside here and acknowledge that Clinton's White House had excellent taste in wine! (Another wine from Callaghan, Claire’s 2004, a blend of Mourvedre, Syrah and Petite Sirah, was served at President George W. Bush’s dinner for retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, proving that wine is apolitical. Democratic or Republican, The White House knows how to pick their wines.)

The Winey Son was spot on on this one. This wine is terrific! It starts out with a nose of cranberry and tart cherry. You'll taste that cranberry with your first sip and then you'll get flavors of cherry, earthy herbs and a tiny bit of dark chocolate. It felt like a silky thin ribbon in my mouth and was a very well balanced red - no hint of tannic heat or puckering, despite the 14.2 alcohol content.

turducken
Behold the turducken!
I totally agree with The Winey Son - this was a wonderful, wonderful red wine! And it paired so very well with The Winey Household Christmas Feast featuring: turducken (deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, stuffed into a partially deboned turkey). The turducken has become legend in our Winey Extended Family over the years, and there was a big clamor to bring it back this year, so we did. And for the record, I bought a pre-assembled turducken because I know my limits in the kitchen. I'm good, but not that good. Or strong. But it was delicious, and we all loved it. Those of us that got to have some of this special wine thought it went very nicely with the dinner.

Now, if you want to buy a bottle of this particular wine, as far as The Winey Son and I can tell, you'll have to visit the winery. He thinks it might be in a few local stores out there as well...but he went straight to the source, so to speak, for his purchase. But fear not: Callaghan Vineyards has other wines you can buy on line and a pretty good wine club membership, which could get you wines that are special to club members (older vintages, new releases).

I am going to be buying some of this wine for myself...when I visit the Winey Son in Arizona in a few weeks. He has promised me a visit to Callaghan and some other wineries he's liked (oh and other places too...some big, or was it grand? canyon). So Merry Christmas to me and look for some more Callaghan reviews in the weeks to come.

Cheers and Happy New Year!


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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Winey Tasting Notes: The Sweeter Side of Ohio, or "Go Bucks!"

 Brutus Buckeye
The Winey Family's Official
Brutus Buckeye
Having now lived in Ohio for over 25 years, specifically Cleveland, I can honestly say that it's a wonderful place to live and work and raise your family. The only drawback that I can see (and no, in my Winey World, snow is NOT a drawback) is that sometimes, our sports teams are, well, um, let's go with heartbreaking. I can't say disappointing, because that wouldn't give you an accurate idea of the pain felt by thousands upon thousands of Northeast Ohioans at the end of _______ season. (fill in the blank with baseball, football or basketball...and remember, the current NBA season is not over with yet...so there is a little bit of hope shining there... #thereturn #hesback). So what are we to do except turn our eyes about 2 hours south to that scarlet and grey land of hard hitting, game winning football: THE Ohio State University Buckeyes.

This year, our Bucks will be meeting Alabama on New Year's Day in the first ever college football playoff semi-final round. (I do believe this game is why the Winey Son has delayed his departure until January 2nd.) And where are they meeting? Why, in the Sugar Bowl. Sweet, huh? (stay with me, the tie in is coming....)

Ohio Cellars LogoSo it was with much scarlet and grey happiness that I was sent some Ohio wines from Ohio Cellars, a cool Grove City business that "is about Drinking Local. We want to promote fermented products in our state and make them available online directly to consumers using a convenient commerce platform." Is that beautiful, or what????? Both of the wines I'm going to tell you about today are the products of urban boutique wineries in Columbus, Ohio (home of Ohio State and oh yeah, the governor of Ohio): Signature Wines and Camelot Cellars. And since both wines are on the sweeter side of the wine tasting spectrum, I thought they'd be perfect for our Ohio State Buckeyes Sugar Bowl win appearance.

bottle of Signature Wines unoaked, off-dry  ChardonnaySignature Wines was founded and is owned by Kelly Harvey in 2004. I got to taste her unoaked, off dry Chardonnay (NV, California grapes, wine made in Columbus, Ohio). (For those of you wondering, off dry will give you a sweeter wine - not dessert wine sweet, but a wine with some decided sweetness to it.) This is a bright golden colored wine with a very rich nose of honey. The first flavors to hit my mouth were honeysuckle and nutmeg followed by a tinge of sweet wood (not an oakey wood, more like a herb-y wood). It was almost like drinking a Chardonnay with a vein of Port running through it. It felt like thick satin and heavy velvet in my mouth. If you like your whites sweet and layered, this one is for you. Oh and check out Signature's custom labels - you could have a LOT of fun with them and there is no extra charge.

Camelot Cellars logoNext up was a Pomegranate Zinfandel (NV, 7%) from Camelot Cellars, which not only imports grapes from all over the world to make their wines, they'll help you craft your own too! I was intrigued by the idea of a pomegranate Zinfandel, so I was eager to sip this one. The wine pours out a little bit fizzy and the nose on this is all pomegranate (well, duh of course it is). And of course, the dominant flavor is the wonderfully tart pomegranate, but I also got some dark cherry juice in there (that would be the Zinfandel talking). This is a fruity wine and Camelot suggests pairing it with beef or sausage or BBQ, but I'm going to tell you that it pairs wonderfully with dark chocolate M&M's and a bazillion presents to wrap. If you visit the site check out their cute #winelover tee shirts too.

You can buy both these wines through Ohio Cellars, but alas, my Winey Friends, if you are not lucky enough to live in Ohio, California or New Mexico, you can't order it. So suck up to some friends from those states or come visit, right now. Their warehouse is in central Ohio, so any wine ordered to Ohio will get there in two days. Mine did!

I did receive another bottle of wine from Ohio Cellars, but it is being saved for some other Christmas feasting.. so stay tuned.

Cheers and Merry, Winey Christmas!!


I received this wine for review purposes. The opinions are all my own. Go Buckeyes!

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Winey Tasting Notes: The One I Forgot - White Knight Viognier

I hate to admit this, and it really goes against my grain to do so, but I had a great bottle of wine all ready to serve on Thanksgiving, and I forgot about it.

This is something that no self respecting Winey Mom should probably admit to, but it did happen. And in my own Winey defense, there was a good reason it did.

bottle of The White Knight ViognierYou see, I had found a wonderful new Pinot Noir (Winey Tasting Notes: Route 152 Pinot Noir - Get There First) that I was so excited to serve on Turkey Day. (We normally host the family for the day, which means that I am chief cook and menu guru.) And then a few days before Thanksgiving, I tasted this wonderful Viognier and decided that we needed at least one bottle of it to serve the non-red lovers in the bunch. I also had an off dry-Riesling for my sister in law, who just LOVES Riesling, and since I really like her, I cannot deny her her favorite sip. So I certainly had enough wine for all of the wine drinkers in the crowd that day.

As dinner time got closer and the house filled up with family, the Pinot Noirs stood ready and waiting. The Riesling and Viognier were in the fridge, chilling away. Oh, I also had a bottle of inexpensive Chardonnay out for cooking purposes (I use wine in the gravy, the veggies and to baste with). My sister in law arrived and pulled out the Riesling and the rest of the folks sipped on the Pinot Noir. And they totally agreed with me that this was one good Pinot Noir. I was busy watching the turkey and finishing the veggies and warming up everything else, and didn't really get to start sipping until a bit later.

That was when I discovered that the wonderful Pinot Noir was almost gone, so I had some Riesling. And some of the Chardonnay. And I have no idea why, but I totally forgot that I had a bottle of The White Knight Viognier (2013, 13.9%, Clarksburg, California) in the fridge. Me. I. Forgot. A. Bottle. Of. Wine.

table set for Thanksgiving
The Winey Family Thanksgiving table, circa 2014
A few days later, while once again re-arranging leftovers, there it was. Yikes! My first feeling of "Oh no!" was quickly replaced with, "Oh good - a bottle of unopened wine for me." So at the next available moment, I poured myself a glass.

The wine was as good as I remembered from the tasting. It was a pale yellow color with aromas of pear and starfruit, a touch of green pepper and some green apple. The taste was of mellow, ripe pear and sour orange peel with a finish of wet oak. It was full and round and mellow in my mouth and was so, so good!!

I'm not going to go into the underlying reasons that I "forgot" this bottle...let's just say that I am very remorseful that it spent the day in the fridge, unopened and unappreciated. But I am in no way remorseful that I got to drink it - all to myself - a few days later. I'm going to think that it was the salary I earned for cooking the meal. And we're going to leave it at that, OK???

Cheers!!



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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Winey Tasting Notes: Route 152 Pinot Noir - Get There First

bottle of Route 152 Pinot NoirI am of the firm mind that a good Pinot Noir is a wonderful thing to find...but that doesn't mean it is an easy search. So a few weeks ago, I was sitting at a wine tasting dinner, just minding my own taste buds, when a good...no, dare I say...great Pinot Noir just plopped right down in front of me.

To be honest, it didn't do this on its own. It had help. And it didn't quite "plop" down either. The server actually gently placed it in front of me, right next to that course's pairing of artichoke and chicken sauté. But there it was: one of those wines that made me exclaim, "Wow! Honey, we're buying some of this." (Honey is The Winey Hubby, by the way. Not the server.) It didn't hurt that we were one week away from Thanksgiving and I had yet to decide on a wine to go with my turkey.

The Pinot Noir in question is Route 152 (14.4%, 2012, Central Coast, CA), from Pietra Santa Winery. According to the label, Route 152 was once part of the Oxbow Trail, a California stagecoach route. Thankfully, no stagecoaches were on the menu for that evening's tasting (I don't think I'd do real well in a stagecoach). But I digress. Route 152 is a very pretty red color, with aromas of cherry blossoms and red berries. It had flavors of red cherry and strawberry and raspberry and a touch of vanilla oak. It was bright and full of flavors and feels like a thin silk ribbon in the mouth. I liked it at first sip, which was why I turned to The Winey Hubby with the bottle order. This Pinot had great possibilities!

Those possibilities were confirmed the next week when I brought out my bottles of Route 152 on Thanksgiving. And that was pretty much the last I saw of them. To say they were a huge hit was an understatement. I had sort of forgotten that we had added another red wine drinker to the mix (yes, The Winey Son has recently come over to the red side...quite happily too, I might add) and how much we really did like red wine and having fun and sipping and talking and all of a sudden there was none left for the very deserving (and rather thirsty) cook. Luckily, I had a stash of some very nice Chardonnay that I had opened to use as part of my culinary greatness that day. So I had to settle for that. And by settle I mean I didn't share it. So there.

But I am determined to get me some more Route 152. And since it's in the $10-$11 range, I can get a few bottles. And hide one. Or get to it first this time. After all, Christmas IS coming.

Cheers!!


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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Winey Tasting Notes: A Quick Visit, A New Wine: Grove Winery's Chardonnay

One afternoon a few weeks ago, I was texting with The Winey Daughter. We do it a lot - a little text to say hello or to ask a quick question. (I am convinced I hear more from my freshman because of text messaging than my parents ever did in the days of land lines in the dorms.) Somewhere in the middle of this conversation, I asked how her friends were. She replied that they were wonderful and she was so blessed to have such good friends...but.....she could use a mommy hug.

Oh just rip at my heartstrings, why don't you? A mommy hug. I'm her mommy, and I would give anything to be able to give her that hug. It was then that a little idea took hold in my mind and about 36 hours later, thanks to a quick flight to North Carolina, I was able to deliver that hug. Very last minute, very impromptu and very, very much needed on both our parts!!

bottle of Grove Winery unoaked Chardonnay with tasting glassesBecause it was a quiet mid-week visit, I was able to book myself into the very charming Acorn Inn, on the edge of Elon's campus. They provided lovely suite type rooms, a hot breakfast and.....wine tastings every evening. The first night I was there, The Winey Daughter had an event to attend, so after we'd spent the afternoon together, she went on her way and I headed back to the inn. It was a gorgeous, warm (70's) North Carolina evening and the sun was just beginning to set as I arrived there. The tasting had started, so I decided to head down to the lobby and sip away.

The Acorn Inn features the wines of Grove Winery, located only about 7 miles away in Gibsonville, North Carolina. They grow a wide variety of grapes and I had the chance to sample a few different wines, but in the end, I settled on a glass of their unoaked Chardonnay (13%, 2012, Haw River Valley, NC).  I am becoming a bigger fan of unoaked Chardonnays and this wine helped to seal my approval.

The nose starts out with ripe pear and a touch of honeysuckle. The first taste in my mouth was of round, mellow pear followed by sharp, spicy flavors of allspice and nutmeg. I totally didn't expect those spices to kick in after that first taste of mellow fruit. But there they were, in all their autumnal glory. It finished with juicy fruit and felt round and supple in my mouth. What a treat!

Winey Mom and Winey Daughter on campus of Elon University, NC
Mommy hug delivered!
Buy this wine if you like your Chardonnay light and full of flavor, but not necessarily big and oakey. I could see it pairing with a fruit and cheese tray, roasted chicken and light pasta dishes. It retails for about $16 and Grove has a web store that will ship to most states. If you happen to be in North Carolina, lots of stores carry their wines. Look for their unoaked Chardonnay - I sure will!

Did I mention that I was sipping this wine on the front porch of the inn? As I said, it was a gorgeous North Carolina evening. And perhaps the porch was that much more lovely because I knew that, back at home in Ohio, it was starting to snow. I don't usually take such an evil pleasure in the weather, but this night, with my book and glass of wine, I admit that I did.

Mommy hugs and cheers!


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