Dreaming of Seafood

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR firm for the brand.

I ate a lot of seafood this summer. Between Portugal and Maine my late July and early August were all about seafood. So I had seafood on the brain when I plucked the 2012 The Clambake Chardonnay from my sample roulette. Perhaps it was the lobster on the label that drew me to the bottle. I don’t know what it retails for, as I can’t find anywhere to buy it online…but I’m guessing maybe $14 or so?

Four takeaways from this wine:

 

1.) I often tend to reach for a slightly oaky Chardonnay to go with my shellfish and lobstah. This wine showed none of that, but was a great foil for the rich lobster meat and butter.

2.) Since I think it retails at a fairly reasonable price, this would actually be a great clambake wine for a crowd.

3.) Here in the DC area, we actually tend to do crabfests around this time of year and it would work really well for that as well.

4.) Fresh and fruity, this is a fun summer wine.

On the nose I got melon, lime, apple, and lemon. Overall it displayed a bright fruit nose. On the palate I found apple, yellow apple, lemon rind, and tropical notes. The wine had good acidity and bit into butter quite well.

 

 

Spring into Spring

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks associated with Rueda.

Even though our weather has continued to be fairly terrible, I’m pretending it’s spring and being drawn heavily to the white wines. I went digging in the basement and came back out with the 2012 Yllera Verdejo.  I’m a Verdejo fan as an alternate white wine. I generally find it refreshing and tasty. The Yllera retails for around $14 and has a real cork closure. The bottle got recycled before I could write down the alcohol content.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) I was almost expecting this wine to be on the sweeter side based on the nose.

2.) Pass me a glass to enjoy in the sun on the porch please.

3.) I’d serve this with grilled trout.

4.) The Yllera would be an easy summer crowd pleaser at the price point of $14.

On the nose I got lemon grass, tangerine, melon, flowers, and an overall sweet aroma. In the mouth I found oranges, lime, and melon.  The wine was surprisingly tart to me based on the sweet nose. Overall I found it quite citrusy and refreshing.

 

 

 

A Vinho Verde day

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR firm for the Vinho Verde trade group.

I’m feeling fall. However, the weather is not agreeing with me and on an 85 + degree day, I find myself lingering in the white wine sections of my wine racks.  So tonight I plucked a 2011 Aphros Daphne Vinho Verde from the shelves. It has a real cork closure, clocks in at 12% alcohol by volume, and retails for about $24.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) I found this to be pricey.

2.) Maybe I had an off bottle, but I barely got anything on the nose and didn’t find the palate to be expressive either.

3.) The wine had lots of acidity…but that didn’t make up for it being fairly uninteresting.

4.) I usually like Vinho Verde.

On the nose I got slight citrus peel and a hint of something tropical. In the mouth I found a little citrus and some spice. Overall the wine was pretty one dimensional and oddly heavy on the palate. This one was not for me.

 

Part I of a Summer Pair

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample for review.

Many times I head down to my basement and stare at the wines.  Then I reach my hand into a rack and play what I like to call “wine roulette.” Sometimes you wine, sometimes you lose. Tonight, I won the lottery twice with this wine and it’s partner. My winner for the evening is the 2010 Domaine du Tariquet Classic which has a screw cap, clocks in at 11% alcohol by volume, and retails for about $10-$11. The wine is a 70/30 blend of Ugni Blanc and Colombard.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Generally, Ugni Blanc (aka Trebbiano) and Colombard aren’t the most, shall we say, distinctive wines on their own.

2.) Apparently, if you grow them well and blend them together, you actually get a light, fresh wine with great acidity.

3.) I shared this with our neighbors over some deep friend shrimp and they loved it.

4.) $10 is cheap and cheerful for an easy-drinking summer sipper.

On the nose I got floral notes, lemon, spice, and lime zest. The wine smells fresh and I can almost taste the acid.  In the mouth I found lime, tart apple, lots of citrus, and tropical notes on the finish.  Overall, the wine is bright and crisp with good acidity and paired well with an end of the summer BBQ.

 

 

Rock This Way

Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Cornerstone Winery.

While our weather has turned unseasonably cool in DC for August, I’m still digging white wines. The summer screams white wine and bubbles to me and we’ve been drinking plenty of both lately. I played roulette in the basement and hit upon the 2012 Stepping Stone White Rocks from Cornerstone Cellars to taste.  The wine has a screw cap closure, clocks in at 14.1% alcohol by volume, and retails for $18 a bottle.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Drink with heat. Which we generally have plenty of in the DC area.

2.) I love the Stepping Stone line from Cornerstone for the price points and the experimentation.

3.) My favorite is the Cabernet Franc.

4.) If I weren’t sipping the White Rocks on my front porch, I’d pair it with my cheese course or a light grilled white fish.

2012 Stepping Stone White Rocks from Cornerstone

On the nose I found floral and lime notes, other citrus, wet stones, orange blossoms, and white pepper.  In the mouth I got citrus, lemon, lime, more citrus, and lots of citrus.  Overall I’d call the wine zippy, bright, fruity and fun.  (Somewhere I have misplaced my camera card and the photos of this bottle with it…)

 

 

Chill in NZ?

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR rep for this wine.

Yes, please.  Brancott Estate out of New Zealand is currently running a contest to enter to win a trip for two to New Zealand. Head on over to Facebook to enter for your chance to win.  The contest runs through August 31.  I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand, ever since I did my very first term paper on New Zealand culture in my 7th grade language arts class. Attempting to promote the contest and, of course, the wine, a bottle of the 2012 Brancott Sauvignon Blanc arrived on my porch recently. The wine retails for about $9-$10 depending on your market, sports a screw cap closure, and Mr. Wannabe Wino recycled the bottle before I could record the alcohol content.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) A bottle of the Brancott Sauvignon Blanc usually makes it into my 12 under $12 cases at the Total Wine.

2.) I often serve the Brancott (though not this vintage) at parties and our guests guzzle it.

3.) This particular vintage wasn’t my favorite of the ones I’ve had from Brancott, it had too much green pepper and even jalapeño on the nose.

4.) The pepper followed through to the palate for me and I just couldn’t get past it.

On the nose I found lime, grass, lots of green pepper, melon, tropical notes, and jalapeño. On the palate I got more peppers, lime, lemon, pink grapefruit, and slight tropical notes. While the palate showed tons of citrus, the pepper just threw me for a loop and I couldn’t get into this wine.

 

 

Impressions from the 2013 Wine Blogger Conference

Back from my 5th Wine Blogger Conference, held this year in Pentiction, BC, I find myself again inclined to ruminate on what I learned, saw, drank, ate, etc., while spending 4 days in a new-to-me wine region.  Simply because I am tired of repeating myself, please see, in particular, #s 4, 8, and 10 from last’s year’s retrospective on the conference.  Those items still stand for me as takeaways from this conference. And every other WBC I’ve attended.  Despite some of those complaints (and positives), I will be back to attend the 7th annual WBC in Santa Barbara next July.

1.) I no longer look like my picture. After 6 years, this is the first time not a soul made that comment to me. So either I’ve changed quite a bit (possible since I have brown curly hair now…) and I need to update my photo or I’m simply not as present on social media as I used to be. My best guess is a combination of the two. I vow to be better about both things, updating the photo and being more active on Twitter.

View from Summerhill Winery

2.) We could not have asked for a more picturesque place to hold the conference. The Okanagan Valley is simply stunning. Not to mention, the weather cooperated beautifully and the days were sunny, breezy and delightful. I stayed in two locations while in the area, Kelowna and Pentiction. While I can’t choose a favorite, each had its strengths. I’d highly recommend the Manteo Resort in Kelowna for families. I stayed in  a “villa” on the property (basically a townhouse) that had a full living area, separate full kitchen, laundry facilities, 2.5 baths, and 2 bedrooms. The resort offered water sports, pools, playgrounds, a fantastic restaurant, and proximity to many vineyards. At Penticton Lake Resort, I’d think singles or couples would find it more appealing. While still offering water sports, a pool, and proximity to vineyards, it had multiple restaurants, bars, a club, a casino, and more typical hotel style rooms. Both beautiful properties, I’d happily return to either.

3.) That said, a major bummer of the conference turned out to be the inability to bring wine home and being unable to get the wines in the States. You pretty much have to go to BC to taste and drink BC wines. I took home the legal number of bottles (without having to pay extra duty, that’s 2) so I’m pleased to have two (plus 2 others I paid duty on) of my favorites to taste with Mr. Wannabe Wino, I’m disappointed to not be able to get anything else I tasted.

Bee-keeping at Tantalus Vineyards

4.) If you make it to the area, check out Tantalus Vineyards. Hands down my favorite stop of the trip, both for the food, the wine, and the experience. I have a nifty video of the bee keeping demonstration we were treated to ready to post when I figure out how to do so. Two of the wines I brought home, I purchased at Tantalus, including an interesting sparkling brut riesling.

5.) The smaller nature of this year’s conference truly appealed to me. It reminded me more of the first 2 years of the conference. I had time to talk to people. We had many events together. It was more intimate. I made new friends this year. I fully understand the conference is a business, however, at the end of the day, it needs to remain appealing and useful to those who attend. When attendance is almost double what it was this year, that gets lost.

6.) Wines of Uruguay! Wines of Uruguay! Wines of Uruguay! Get them any way you can. Even if you have to mud wrestle an Uruguayan for them since they drink most of the wine they produce. Especially the Albariño from Bouza. Stunning wine.

7.) The conference was over-scheduled. Again, I understand that this is a money-making venture. I also understand that I am in no way obligated to attend every event. However, having scheduled events running until 11 pm every night is just too much. Some people actually want to go to bed earlier than that and may miss out on something they’d really like to attend simply by virtue of the fact that they don’t want to be exhausted for the next day of the conference. This particularly struck me on Friday, when we went on our excursion and then were bused immediately to an event over an hour from the hotel with no option to return to the hotel without attending, then had to await buses to take us back. I was wet (more on this later), exhausted, and wanted to leave, but didn’t end up being able to get on a bus home until 10:30 and didn’t arrive back to the hotel until almost midnight. The event the next morning started at 7:15. That’s not enough sleep.

8.) Since I’m recommending wines, here’s one from another region that caught my attention: the 2010 Kacaba Reserve Cabernet Franc.  If you ever get to the Niagra wine region, you should most definitely look Kacaba up. Worth it alone for the Cabernet Franc.

Brodo Kitchen’s chef makes us eggs in the park

9.) A small list of places to eat for sure if you make it to either Kelowna or Penticton: Waterfront Wines (holy cow can that man make a gourmet waffle and poach an egg), Smack Dab (the focus on local beers, with at least 15 on tap, totally won me over), Brodo Kitchen (in Penticton, no website, but they had fresh strawberry juice that rocked my socks), The Cupcake Lady Cafe (don’t be fooled by the name, the breakfast crepes were drool-worthy), The White Apron (fresh made ham and cheese croissants, think pain au chocolat but with ham and cheese), and Hooded Merganser (duck breast poutine, need I say more?).

10.) Go visit Craig Camp at Cornerstone Cellars. I know I’ve said it before, but he’s sincerely one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever had the pleasure of associating with, and his wines are damn good.

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