Chardonnay and BEEF!

Butter Chardonnay

Butter Chardonnay

Sanglier Chardonnay

Sanglier Chardonnay

Beef, Potatoes, w/Avocados & Tomatoes

Beef, Potatoes, w/Avocados & Tomatoes

I had posted a few years ago about how I was trying to find a different wine other than Cabernet to pair with a beef filet. 

I settled on a Pinot Noir that created a rant about how I wish more restaurants were BYOB….Anyhoo…I digress….

I got to thinking about this because I have a friend that loves Chardonnay and that evening I said that an oaky, full-bodied Chardonnay would be perfect.

So to prove I was right, I tried 2 Chardonnay wines with a bacon wrapped beef filet, rosemary – garlic potatoes and a salad of avocados and tomatoes drizzled in lime and olive oil.

The 2 Chardonnays were:

2010 Sanglier Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. alc. 13.9% and 2012 JAM Cellars Chardonnay Butter. alc. 14.8%

Sanglier smell was: Ripe apple, cream, a bit of white flowers and creme brulee

The taste was: Granny Smith apple, assorted melons and lemon. The acidity was long but finished slightly creamy.

It was great with the beef. It sort of cleansed the palate, but the beef did not over-whelm the wine. It was perfect with the 2 side dishes.

 Butter smell was: Apple pie – bread, butter and cinnamon

The taste was: Light Red Delicious apple, peaches, smoke, with a soft vanilla, butter finish. The finish was short but creamy.

This Chardonnay was good with the beef. It even added a sweetness to the bacon, which is always awesome!

It paired very well with both side dishes.

Both of these Chardonnays were very good with beef because of how they were processed and the high alcohol level.

Sanglier was done “Sur Lie” in oak barrels, which adds more body, aromas, and complexity to the wine.

Butter went through 2 fermentations, the last one being malolactic, which softens the tartness of the wine making it creamy with more body.

I think I will take my own advice, and just order a Chardonnay. It will simplify my choices and the side dishes won’t feel neglected.

I want to Thank Whole Foods for this Whole meal; including the wine.

I have been shopping there for years and this is the ONLY place where I get bacon wrapped filets. I’m a West Texas girl and my Daddy was a judge on the Texas A&M Beef Team…I better know beef!

Also, the wine department, at least at my Whole Foods in Plano, is so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about what they do…I feel like a kid in a candy store every time I go in to shop for wine.  Thank you Carol & your team!

I also want to Thank fellow Twisted Peep, Lisa S. for turning me onto Sanglier.

Cheers Y’all!

Lori – Your Twisted Sommelier

Advertisements

Cabernet Franc with Friends

I was lucky enough to try 8 different bottles of Cabernet Franc at my friend’s Chris and Amy’s house in Albuquerque, New Mexico over Thanksgiving.

We had a great wine tasting crew : 3 very knowledgeable wine aficionados; Amy, Eryka and David M. and 2 winemakers: Chris and  David H.

Since this was a blind tasting, Sully presided over the event while enjoying a Rahr Winter Warmer beer. Just as a side note…Sully doesn’t travel anywhere without his Rahr Beers from Ft. Worth. However, he did agree that Albuquerque has some fantastic breweries and we both recommend checking them out.

A clever and festive idea to hide the wine bottles, is to put them in socks. Amy is a sock designer so we had plenty to choose from. Her company is Sweet Marcel.

Cabernet Franc Info: It is part of the parent grape to Cabernet Sauvignon, but it is less tannic and it has more vegetable and spicy elements. It is one of my faves because it is so food friendly. I love its spicy elegance”.

Here was the line up:

2010 Wolffer Estate, Long Island, NY (The Hampton’s)

2009 Bedell Cellars, Long Island, NY

2009 Palmer Vineyards, Long Island, NY

2009 Milagro Vineyards, New Mexico (David H. is the Assistant Winemaker)

2009 Casa Rondena, New Mexico

2007 Times Ten Cellars. The grapes are from Lake County, CA but processed in Texas

2007 Helios, Corison Winery, Napa, CA

2007 Spring Mountain Vineyards, Napa, CA

Here are some of the impressions/comments about what the group thought of each wine:

Wolffer: Nose & Taste were about equal: bright cherry & cranberry, a little green bell pepper. Light bodied because it is young. I think overall the group thought it needed aging and or lacked depth.

Bedell: Nose: earthy, forest floor, mushroom. Taste: raspberry, figs,strawberry and smooth earthy tannins and a light finish. Overall, the group enjoyed this one.

Palmer: Nose: “big, round & black” Taste: “pop rock in your mouth”. I love comments like this! The nose was bell pepper, truffle, pencil lead. The taste had an acidic fruit bite like strawberries. Overall the group thought it needed aging or decanting. It intrigued me because the nose & taste were total opposite…I liked it.

Milagro: Nose: cherry, mushroom, smoke, dirt. Taste: green tobacco, gravel, earth and white pepper. When I smelled it, I knew immediately that it was from New Mexico. I think it reflected Terrior really well, but it was a bit tannic to me. Overall the group liked it.

Casa Rondena: I’m sorry to say, but the group thought the bottle was corked. “Tannic” and “rough” were the words used.

Times Ten: Nose: green bell pepper, graphite, mushroom. Taste: black cherry, cranberry, light spicy finish but faded fast. Overall, I think we were divided. Some really liked it and others thought it ok. I wished that it had stayed on the palate a little longer.

Corison: Nose: mushroom, sage, strawberry, black cherry, raisins. Taste: Light dark fruit, leather,medium tannins with a soft spicy finish. The words “smooth”, “balanced”, “easy” were used. Overall, this was a favorite.

Spring Mountain: Nose: smoke, chocolate, wet clay, strawberry. Taste: smokey cranberry, rich dark fruit, dry tannins. I thought this was the most fruit forward of all the wines. Overall, the group enjoyed it.

After the tasting, we had the wines (except Casa R.) with our Thanksgiving Feast and I honestly think everyone thought all the wines paired well with everything. At least nobody complained…or maybe we were feeling so festive enjoying the great food, wine/beer and company that nobody care.

Your Twisted & Thankful Sommelier,

Lori

P.S. I know I have not posted in a while, but sometimes life gets in the way of Passion….Cheers Y’all for staying with me.

The Thanksgiving Throwdown

I get this question a lot: “What wine to serve for Thanksgiving?”

The Thanksgiving meal is full of tart, savory, sweet and meaty flavors. It is hard to figure out a wine with all of these flavor elements going on.

So I decided to round up some Twisted Peeps and see if we could answer this question….

Our meal was: Cranberry Pork Loin, Cornbread Dressing, Sweet Potatoes with Butter, Brown Sugar & Almonds. (I didn’t do turkey because everything makes turkey better).

The wines: Zardetto Prosecco, Umberto Cavicchioli & Figli “Robanera” Lambrusco, 2010 La Font du Vent Notre Passion Cotes Du Rhone Villages Signargues, 2010 Calera Pinot Noir Central Coast 35th Anniversary.

1st pairing: Prosecco – This is a lovely sparkling wine with tart apple, orange, apricot and a smooth clean finish.

Cornbread Dressing: The Prosecco brought out the sweetness of the corn and enhanced the savory flavors of the herbs. Very Good.

Cranberry Pork: The tartness of the dish was tempered by the Prosecco. The dish was still lively and the Prosecco cleansed the palate. Very Good.

Sweet Potatoes: The sweetness of the dish made the Prosecco “fruit cocktail” like. Not Good.

2nd pairing: Lambrusco – This particular sparkling wine is made with the Graparossa grape which is tannic and dark. This wine is aromatic with dark fruit. The taste is dark fruit and dark spices with a soft, dry finish.

Cornbread Dressing: The herbal elements in the dish enhanced the dryness of the Lambrusco and the wine enhanced the savory flavors of the dressing. Very Good.

Cranberry Pork: Nothing really changed at least for me. I thought both complimented each other. Everyone was surprised what a good pairing it was. Very Good.

Sweet Potatoes: The sweetness of the dish remained and the wine stayed fresh and lively. Very Good.

3rd pairing: Cotes du Rhone – This wine is 50% Granache and 50% Syrah. It had an herbal spiciness to it with a little cherry, plum, and raspberry.

Cornbread Dressing: The wine made the herbal flavors a little bitter. Not Good.

Cranberry Pork: The wine made the dish tangy and enhanced the tartness of the cranberries. Not Good.

Sweet Potatoes: The sweetness of the dish worked well with the spicy, tartness of the wine. Good.

4th pairing: Pinot Noir – This Pinot is from one of my favorite producers. It is layered with truffles, red fruit, cedar, smoke and a light earthy, herbal, spicy finish.

I honestly can’t tell you about each dish with this wine because there were pauses of silence with the occasional “Yum”, “Oooh, I like this”, “This is one of the best”.

So overall, the group liked the Lambrusco and the Pinot Noir with all of the dishes. In fact we had Pecan and Pumpkin pies for dessert and the Lambrusco got finished off with those. Also the Lambrusco was the surprise in the bunch. Quite a few said they would serve it and said they loved how dry and bubbly it was.The price was around $16.

The Pinot Noir was around $30 and everyone one thought it was worth it. I would recommend decanting for an hour.

The Prosecco ($15) would be a good choice if you wanted a “start the party” wine. This particular Prosecco has become one of my new found faves.

As for the Cotes du Rhone ($12), I think if it was at least 80% Grenache it might have done better. I drank the wine later in the evening without food and it had been open for over an hour the tart spiciness smoothed out and its more earthy qualities came forward. I thought it was a nice drinking wine.

As a side note: I want to thank the whole Wine Team (Darrell, Chris & Vince) at Sigel’s (store #5) in Addison for putting up with me and getting the wine for this post. As well as Teri for hosting & cooking and Janalee for the pies.

I hope Everyone’s Thanksgiving is full of good food, wine and people!

Cheers Y’all!

The Chardonnay Experiment

A couple of weeks ago I decided to do a class on Chardonnay to teach people that it has a very versatile flavor profile depending on how it is treated, and if you are a man, you don’t have to “turn in your man card” if you drink it.

So some of the “Twisted Peeps” and I gathered for class. This actually happened on 2 separate occasions and not every class had the same wines. But I’m condensing it to one so this post won’t be so long…

The 1st Chardonnay was a 2010 Domaine L. Chatelain from Chablis. The alc level is 13%. I do not believe it was aged in oak barrels. Chablis is a small area in the Northern part of Burgundy in France. It is a very light wine with citrus and mineral elements. I found it to be very delightful for Summer and a couple of people thought it would be a good all around wine to serve at a party with light cheeses and seafood. A few Peeps thought it was sort of steely, or almost metallic, and some thought it so boring it needed food.

The 2nd was a 2010 Four Vines, Santa Barbara County called Naked. It is done in stainless steel tanks. You can find it in most restaurants. It is fruit forward with pineapple, pear, and cantaloupe elements. The alc level is 13.9%, which gives it body to handle different foods. The class really liked it and some said it had a “bubbly” feel. Even though it was popular with a lot of folks, some said it sort of became harsh as it warmed up.

The 3rd was a gamble. I took a store employee’s suggestion when I told him I needed a buttery Chardonnay. So I tried a 2010 River Road from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma. The alc level is 13.7%.  At first I really liked it even though it was not as buttery as I wanted. Some people liked it immediately and said it was fruity and spicy. As it warmed up, I thought it was becoming forgettable because it was losing the butter aspect. When I looked it up, it said it was done 40% in barrel and 60% in stainless..that’s maybe why it was only faintly buttery to me.

The 4th was a 2008 Ukiah Cellars from Mendocino County. The alc level is 13.8%. It was done in stainless using the Sur Lies method. Which is where the juice is in contact with the grape particles and yeast for a period of time. It gives the wine a creaminess and brings out a more bread flavor. To me this wine had apple and melon elements. Only a few folks liked it, and one person actually had a mild allergic reaction to it. Her sinus’ started to bother her. She really liked the wine, but it didn’t like her.

The final wine was a 2010 Rodney Strong Chardonnay from Chalk Hill, which is a small American Viticulture Area in Sonoma. The alc level is 14.5%. It was a favorite with a lot of people. It is very toasty vanilla, apple, pear and butter with a high alcohol level that could handle a ribeye. It was also done “Sur Lie” and aged in oak barrels, which made this wine robust.

I hope after I did my “experiment”…I didn’t confuse you Twisted Peeps too much. I just know that there are a lot of choices when it comes to styles of Chardonnay and people who belong to the “ABC Club” (Anything But Chardonnay) are missing out on some good wine. Remember…”life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death”.

Drink up y’all!

Man! Oh, Man! Roussanne!

This grape is not one of the more well-known or “popular” varietals in the average wine consumer world, but it makes for a good blending grape in the Rhone region in France. It adds body and acidity and is one of the grapes that is allowed in making white Chateauneuf du Pape…one of my favorite wines.

I first discovered it in California at Stolpman’s (www.stolpmanvineyards.com). I loved the creamy texture and full body mouth feel it had. I was surprised that it was not a heavy fruit wine, but more herbal and floral.

Texas has also been planting this grape and I think doing a very fine job of making fantastic wines with it.

The two Texas wineries I have tried have been Calais (www.calaiswinery.com) & McPherson (www.mcphersoncellars.com). The grapes for both wineries were grown in the same area of the High Plains around Lubbock.

I thought it would be an interesting experiment to compare these 3 wines (1 Calif and 2 Texas) and then pair them with buttered popcorn (www.orville.com).

The Stolpman Roussanne called L’Avion was done the “sur lie” method which means the juice from the grapes are left in contact with the dead yeast and grape particles for several months in the barrel. In this case 15 months. The end result will give the wine a creamy mouth feel. It also will extract some of the toast or vanilla characteristics from the barrel.

The smell of the Stolpman was vanilla creme, a little bit of banana, truffle oil, and olive.

The taste was honey, green tea, jasmine, vanilla creme with a little citrus bite. It had a round mouth feel and was very creamy but the citrus bite helped keep it from becoming cloy.

When paired with the buttered popcorn, it was really good. All that buttery goodness with a rich, creamy wine was a perfect choice…I mean who doesn’t like butter & creme?

My next choice was Calais Winery. It was also done sur lie, but the grapes came from the High Plains in Texas and the wine aged for 12 months.

The smell was honeysuckle, iris (a vanilla-citrus type of smell that is hard to describe), truffle oil.

The taste was honey, vanilla creme, and pear with a black tea finish. This wine was richer in honey flavor but it was not cloying because of the black tea bite. It was well-balanced.

This was another good choice with the buttered popcorn because of the honey aspect of the wine. It sweetened the popcorn…awesome!

The last wine was from McPherson, another Texas winery whose grapes are also from the High Plains. This wine was aged in stainless steel so the result was totally different.

The smell was grass, herbal tea, lemon.

The taste was light banana, lemon, grapefruit, cilantro. It was more light citrus all over the palate and did not linger very long. Very refreshing.

However, the buttered popcorn overpowered the wine.

I would say overall the Stolpman & Calais were more in keeping with what a Roussanne should be. The McPherson became forgettable after it warmed up.

The Calais Roussanne is the best I have ever had because it kept its honey and black tea flavors. The Stolpman started getting oily and forest floor.

Some bad news though with the Calais wine is that Benjamin only has about 3 cases left and we will have to wait several months for the next vintage to be ready…but it will be worth the wait, Twisted Peeps.

1 Corison 2 Years 3 Geeks

People tell me that they think it would be so fun to go wine tasting with me. Well, I agree that I’m fun to hang out with and I’ll talk to anybody, but when it comes to serious wine tasting….I’m really boring and I get into a zone where I don’t like a lot of distraction. It takes a lot to get the old gerbils in my head to spin the “concentration wheel”. This is also one of the many reasons why I call my husband Sully, “The Long-Suffering Hubby”, because half the time, I don’t know he has left me at the tasting counter by myself and he has been gone for an hour!

So when Sully had to go out-of-town (unfortunately for his Uncle Ray’s funeral), our good friends and fellow wine geeks, Amy & Chris called to see if I wanted to come over for dinner and we do a wine comparison. Oh Goodness, Yes! So we decided on Cabernet Sauvignon from Corison (www.corison.com) in Napa Valley. I had a 2006 and they had a 2005.

Corison is one of my faves in Napa Valley and Amy & Chris are responsible for that.

Cathy Corison has been making wine since the 1970’s and I think her Cabernet has a lot of finesse and depth. It is not your typical over-blown Napa Cabernet with alcohol levels that are sky-high. Cathy’s are below 14% and are very food friendly.

We opened the bottles and immediately could tell we would not be disappointed. The smells from both vintages were delightful and different from one another.

The 2005 to me, had a soft mixed berry smell. Amy picked up a bell pepper smell and Chris thought fennel and maybe chipotle peppers and even got a jar of them to sniff so we could compare. Amy & I didn’t think so but maybe we could all agree on poblano?

The taste of the 2005 was a soft raspberry, plum, and anise. Amy thought even a bit of Cola. Chris and I thought Dr Pepper…but if we all agreed on that…then we never could agree on “plain ‘ol” Dr Pepper or was it Dr Pepper from Dublin, Texas that is made from cane sugar. We were all surprised that the 2005 started out soft but ended with a little citrus bite.

The 2006 smelled brighter and riper than the 2005. Chris was trying to figure out if he was smelling graphite or pencil shavings, so we all started sniffing pencils to see what was the best match and even scribbled on a piece of paper to see if we could pick up what we were smelling…I know…silly…but when you’re a wine geek, you will do anything to get the right description.

Tasting the 2006 was a bit of  a surprise. It started out a little tannic with a bit of lemon peel, but as it went over the tongue we could taste leather, dark fruits, and chocolate that ended velvet smooth.

Overall, both wines were wonderful and we had a blast talking about our visits to the Corison Winery and really didn’t totally resolve our differences. But it didn’t matter, we were just a trio of friends hanging out and discussing something that is near and dear to our hearts. I guess…can you call that a passion?

Passed Level 2

Well kids the results are in……

and I PASSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I actually remembered the difference & similarities between Champagne & Cava. That was one of the 4 essay questions.
I will be very honest and say this was a beating but I survived. I enjoyed exercising the gerbils in my brain and finding out that there is more to wine than just the taste.
I still have a lot to learn and this will be something of a life-long pursuit; much like my love of ikebana (Japanese flower arranging). If you ask me “what is a white Burgundy”? I will hesitate (as the gerbils kick into gear) and say….aaaahhhh……Chardonnay!
I promise not be snob and will still laugh when given Mogan David as a gift and I will not judge my “White Zinfandel” friends. After all, White Zin. is one of the biggest money makers for a vineyard.
Please everyone; send me questions! it will help me learn more or if you find something interesting; let me know. Or if you can’t decide what wine will go with that perfect Spam sandwich…

Your support has been fabulous.

As for the Spam sandwich…you might try a Pinot Noir!