Twitter Taste Live + Open That Bottle Night=

Major fun!  Tonight is Open That Bottle Night, a tradition started 10 years ago by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher of the Wall Street Journal.  This year, Twitter Taste Live, in partnership with importer Wilson Daniels, present a twist on Open That Bottle Night.  Wine Bloggers around the country will be opening 4 bottles of wine from small, hard to find European vineyards and tasting them live and tweeting about them on Twitter.  You can join in the fun by following the hash tag #ttl or watching the live feed on the Twitter Taste Live Website.  This all begins at 8:00 est tonight.  Follow me, and then at 9:30, open your own special bottle and tweet with us about what your bottle is and why it’s special!

This is the line up for the evening:

2005 Kritt Pinot Blanc

2006 Morey Meursault Bourgogne Aligote

2005 Marc Kreydenweiss Perrieres

2006 Insoglio del cinghiale

Looks to be some great wines and it’s always fun to see what everyone thinks of the same wine! See you tonight with your own special bottle!

This & That, Here & There, Wine Blog News

Lots of news in the wine blog world this week.

First, Wine Blogging Wednesday news.  David over at McDuff’s Food and Wine Trail posted his round up as the host of WBW 54: A Passion for Piedmont. David inspired at least 52 wine blog folks to break out Italiawbw-new2n wines for the edition of WBW and has an excellent round up of all the entries.  You can read it here.

Second, more WBW news! Our host for March, the 55th WBW, is Remy of Wine Case and his theme is North vs. South.  By that, he’s asking us to compare a Northen wine with a Southern Counterpart of the same grape.  So technically, you could do a Pinot Noir from Washington and a Pinot Noir from California, or a Malbec from France and a Malbec from Argentina.  Get creative!  Your entry is due March 18, and all the details are here.

Next, the American Wine Blog Awards.  The Finalists were announced the other day, and now the public voting is open until March 4.  As always, some excellent blogs are nominated (though this year, some very odd choices among them, in my opinion, but what do I know….) and many of my wine blog friends are up for awards.  So check out the nominees and then vote.

I think that’s just about all the news that’s fit to (wine) blog at the moment, though again, if you have a wine blog and you haven’t registered for this year’s Wine Blogger Conference, what are you waiting for?  Go, do it, and join us at a really excellent event.

Wines of South Africa

At the DC Food and Wine Festival, I tried to quickly hit tables with wines I don’t get a lot of exposure to normally.  I’ve had a few wines from South Africa, but not very many, so I made a beeline for the Wines of South Africa table. I felt bad for the woman pouring the wines. She didn’t speak much English, and the person really running the table had left her there without even opening the bottles for her…she didn’t seem to know how to work a corkscrew, so I offered my considerable skills (hehehe) and popped the corks for her.  Sadly, she didn’t really know anything about the wines, so I just tasted through and left quickly.

2008 Cederberg Bukettraube-This was a new grape for me…normally I’d add it to my Century Club application, but Matt and I are trying to finish our applications together, so we’re only counting grapes we both tried. Lemon, citrus, grapefruit, light, crisp, tastes like Sauvignon Blanc.

2008 Springfield Estate Sauvignon Blanc-Peppers, grapefruit, lemon, crisp, good acidity.

2003 Springfield Estate Wild West Chardonnay-Pear, apple, tropical, pineapple, crisp.

2008 Indaba Shiraz-Strawberry, plum, dry, not very fruity, reserved.

2007 Graham Beck Pinotage-Earthy, animal, strawberry, cherry.

2007 Koopmanskloof Pinotage-Dark chocolate, pepper, rose, meat, cedar, smoke. Really liked this one.

2007 Koopmanskloof Shiraz- Very woody, fruity, raisins, port like, finish falls off.

An interesting selection. I would have liked to see more Sauvignon Blancs as I have tried some really nicely done ones from South Africa in the past.

A First Kiss to Remember

Do you remember your first kiss? Well, you’ll remember this one. I chose the 2007 Camellia Cellars First Kiss Proprietor’s Blend to drink with our chicken soup.  I picked this bottle up when I visited the tasting room in September with my favorite Lush and WineQT.  I think it cost me $13 in the tasting room, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and had a screw cap closure.

We drank the wine on its own, after a very long, cold day skiing last week. It finished off our day perfectly, but would have also gone nicely with some light white fish or the crab legs we had 2 weeks ago.  On the nose I found honey, pineapple, apricot, and other tropical notes.  In the mouth I found the wine to be tingly and refreshing, I imagine it would be perfect for drinking on the porch on a hot Virginia summer day. I got flavors of tropical fruits, citrus, oranges, and pineapple. Overall, I liked the crispness and acidity of the wine, and I’d guess some Sauvignon Blanc went into the blend….

Spending Time with Germans

Wines that is! 😉 I rarely drink wine from Germany and it’s often a treat when I do to be exposed to some excellent Rieslings, (the wine that started my love affair with wine), and other fabulous white wines.  This time I even got to try some German Pinot Noirs!

Last weekend I attended the DC International Wine and Food Festival on a press pass.  This year, I only went for one day and I only stayed for the trade hours. I learned my lesson last year, it gets crowded as soon as the public comes in! However, this year, the place seemed incredibly crowded with just the trade and I only made it to 6 tables in 2 hours.  Probably because I’d go to an empty table and then the same group of about 8 folks from a store would show up behind me and push me out of the way. No matter where I went, even when I went to an entirely different room, this same group kept tailing me!!

I started at the table for Frances Rose Imports, an importer based in Germany.  They actually had two tables with a total of around 10 wines, and were looking for a distributor in the DC area. So, if you area  distributor, check out their selections, the wines were really tasty and well priced!

2007 Rotschiefer Baron Heyl Zu Hernsheim Riesling: Retails for between $25-$28. Lemon, honey, minerals, nice acidity.

2007 Baron Heyl Riesling: Retails in mid-$20s. Apricot, orange, very light nose, slight honey, slighly sweet, very nice minerality.

2007 Baron Heyl Riesling Spatlese: Lemon, minerals, honey, mandarin orange, nice acidity, on the sweeter side.

1999 Schwibinger Pinot Gris: Specializes in aged white wines. Retails for about $29. Pear, apple, very aromatic, honey, lots of tropical fruit.

2007 Thörie Pinot Noir: Cherry, floral, tart cherries, roses, red berries, earth, very clean flavors, austere.  Retails for $20, great QPR.

2007 August Ziegler Spatburgunder aka Pinot Noir: Oaky, butterscotch, raspberry, cherry, tannic.

All the following except the Auslese retail for under $20.

2006 Schwibinger Pinot Blanc: Perfumey, floral, lemon, clean, light, crisp, very nicely done.

2007 Schwibinger Riesling: floral, apricot, lemon, clean flavors, crisp.

2007 Thörie Riesling: Sweeter, honey, prickly on the tongue, citrus, lemon.

2005 Maikammerer Madelhöhe Gewurztraminer Spatlese: Lychee, almond, pineapple, mandarin, very nice.

2005 August Ziegler Riesling Auslese: Pear, apricot, nice acidity, orange, honeysuckle.  A dessert wine you could drink many glasses of.

Tasting all these lovely wines, many of which retail for fantastic prices, reminded me that I need to step outside of my CA comfort zone more often.  Bone dry Rieslings can be a thing of beauty and I should really drink more of them!

Sauvignon Blanc and Fondue

Red wine is multiplying and having babies in my basement. We used to have just slightly more red wine than white wine down there….the red lived in 9 wine racks and the white lived in one old wine rack and 7 styrafoam shipper halves.  Now, the red wine takes up the original 9 racks, plus the old rack, and more than 4 of the styrafoam shippers.  I’m not really sure how that happened, but I think I need to start collecting some more white wine. My selection is dismal at the moment.  So that would explain why I’m quickly drinking the few whites I got in my Domaine547 shipment last week!

On our ski trip, we decided that fondue would make a great meal after a day on the mountain.  However, when I packed to go, I realized I had absolutely no bone dry Riesling in the basement to take with us. (My usual choice with fondue.)  So instead I grabbed the 2007 Clos Roche Blanche Sauvignon Blanc that I bought from Domaine547 for $13.  It clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, had a plastic cork, and hails from France.

On the nose I found grassy aromas, citrus, hay, lemon, herbs, tropical notes, and star fruit.  I also thought I detected a hint of wet stone.  In the mouth I got flavors of lemon, fresh cut grass, herbs, pineapple, stones, minerals, and other tropical fruit.  Overall, I found the wine to be light and refreshing, and it went fabulously well both in the fondue and with it.  At $13, this is a great bargain…Matt is still talking about it days later!

Drinking the Lot 72

I’m slowly making my way through the half case of Cameron Hughes wine that I won at last year’s Wine Blogger Conference…hopefully I’ll be through it all by the time this year’s WBC rolls around. Speaking of, do you write a wine blog? Have you registered for the WBC yet? WHY NOT? Last I heard, nearly half the slots were gone and registration only opened a month ago. So go. Register.  As a wine blogger, it’s a screaming deal at only $85 (if you’re an Open Wine Consortium) for 3 days of wine, food, and great company. Last year, I tasted amazing wines, met some really great wine bloggers and industry folks, and had an overall fabulous time.

Tonight I chose the Cameron Hughes 2005 Napa Valley Meritage Lot 72.  It had a Diam closure, clocked in at 14.1% alcohol by volume, and retails at Costco for $9.99.  It’s currently sold out online, but you might be lucky enough to find a few bottles in your local Costco. If so, scoop them up, at $9.99 this is a huge bargain and is perfect as an everyday wine or for a party.  Plus, it goes really well with homemade pizza (what I served it with) and that’s always a good feature for me.

On the nose I found black cherry, plum, dark fruit, blackberry, chocolate, and a little spice.  The nose seemed really Merlot-like to me.  In the mouth I got flavors of raspberries, black cherries, blackberries, very dark fruit, coffee, and something herbal on the back palate.  The fruit showed as really tart, but overall the wine was smooth, and drinking really well.  A great wine for a weeknight and would work well with tomato sauce based dishes as well as stews.  Even though I’m pretending it’s spring, I’m being realistic here and still cooking heavier winter dishes!

Refined and Delicious

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for Wines of Chile.

Clearly I can’t get enough of the Chilean red wines 😉 I feel like I’ve consumed gallons of red Chilean wines recently, but apparently it just seems that way since I still have 5 more bottles left out of the case in my basement! I think we can consider my wine goal of getting to know Chilean wines in 2009 a complete and total success!  I even went to see the wines from the Embassy of Chile at the DC International Wine and Food festival last weekend.  I chose the 2006 Santa Carolina VSC for the evening.  The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.  It clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and hails from the Colchagua Valley.

On the nose I found currants, bittersweet chocolate, milk chocolate, plums, and blackberries.  The nose smelled fresh and juicy, and even though Syrah was no where near the wine, it almost smelled like Syrah to me.  The followed through on the nose showing blackberry juice, plum, spice, chocolate, currants, and pepper. I found the mouth to be really juicy, and my impression of the nose smelling like Syrah followed though to the mouth: it tasted kind of like old world Syrah.  Refined and juicy and not at all overpowering, the wine displayed nice acidity with slight tannins on the back palate.  A very nice wine.

Drinking Wines From Calaveras

As the weather warms (hush, 40 degrees is warm in February!) my thoughts have been turning to whites and rosés as I try to hurry in the spring.  It’s coming, I swear, my daffodils and irises are poking through the ground and I think I saw my hyacinths coming up as well!  So now is the perfect time to dive into some of the wines I picked up in Murphys when I visited last fall.  I chose the 2007 Hatcher Grenache Rosé tonight.  It cost me around $11 at the winery, had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 12.6% alcohol by volume.  I’ll be heading back up to Calaveras before the Wine Blogger Conference this year, “dragging” Thea with me, so maybe we’ll have time to stop in again.

I first noticed how incredibly dark the color on this Rosé was.  It almost looked like a very light red wine rather than a Rosé.  On the nose I found banana, like the Laffy Taffy banana flavor, strawberry, cherry candy, lime, white pepper, and red licorice.  In the mouth I found the wine to be nice and smooth with a peppery kick.  I got flavors of raspberry, strawberry, cherry, a banana aftertaste, lime, and some other underlying citrus.  I liked how juicy the wine was and at $11 this was a fantastic deal.

Tiaras, not just for Princesses

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for Wines of Chile

And it’s more Carmenere! I think more than 50% of the case of wines from Chile consisted of Carmenere.  I chose the 2006 Tiara Carmenere from the Rapel Valley of Chile.  It had a real cork closure, clocked in 14% alcohol by volume, and retails for…well, I can’t find any retail information.

On the nose I found dusty chocolate, berries, green peppers, black fruit, spice, pepper, and earth.  Oddly enough, I thought I smelled pineapple, but that can’t be right, right? In the mouth I got flavors of raspberries, pomegrante, black currants, peppers, pepper, and that really interesting bitter note I’ve now found on so many Carmeneres.

I took a page from Dhonig’s book on this one, and keep the bottle for a second night.  I only wanted a glass and Matt didn’t want any wine the night I opened it, so I stuck the Vacu-Vin in the bottle and left it on the counter overnight.  On the second night, the greenness had disappeared, and I found the nose to be plummy, full of black fruit, and displaying milk chocolate.  I found the wine to be spicier, but still displaying some herbs, which really added to the nose.  The mouth on the second night displayed berries, plums, tart fruit, and a kick of pepper.