Thursday, March 12, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: No Coincidence Here! Red Diamond Chardonnay

Red Diamond ChardonnayIn wine, there are no coincidences. If someone mentions a wine to you, and you are destined to sip it, the universe will conspire to get you that wine.

That's what happened to me with recently with Red Diamond Chardonnay! It all started when The Winey Family was in Arizona. We met up with a friend of mine from college, who had moved to Phoenix about a year ago. We had a wonderful dinner with her and her husband, sharing college memories (she knew The Winey Hubby from college, too), talking about Arizona, kids and of course at some point, the talk turned to wine. It helped that our waitress had some great suggestions for us, and when we were unsure about a few of the ones she mentioned, she brought over samples for us. So of course we were going to talk about wine!

My friend happened to mention a wine that she had recently tried by the name of Red Diamond. I recorded her recommendation on the notes in my phone and then pretty much proceeded to forget about it. I had canyons to hike after we left Phoenix.

Iphone note - Red Diamond ChardonnayFlash forward to a few weeks later. I'm in Trader Joe's looking for a white wine and I notice a wine from Washington State with a red diamond shape on its label. Hmm....hadn't I heard about a red diamond something or other recently? But where...... for some inspired reason I took out my phone to check any notes I may have written (I do keep a running "wines to try" list on my phone) and there it was!! From January 26th....Red diamond wine. Bingo!! I took it as a sign and grabbed a bottle.

Red Diamond Chardonnay (2013, 13.5%, Washington state) starts out with a nose of pineapple. At first taste, you'll get flavors of red apple and pineapple. Following those comes some creamy vanilla and oak. This wine had a wonderful "mouth feel" to it - round and creamy and full. If you like your Chardonnay classic and creamy and rich, buy this wine! And to make it even more enticing: you can find it for under $10 a bottle. (I found it at a number of other wine sellers in my area, not just TJ's.)

So, can you see how one little mention during a dinner dozens of states away from me resulted in finding a yummy new wine? No coincidence here, I was meant to try it. Good wine karma, huh?

Cheers!

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: The Empty Nest Series: Chloe Chardonnay

Chloe Collection Chardonnay Since the Winey Nest has become a Winey Empty Nest, I have dedicated a new series of wine reviews to the children who will never leave for college and career: The Winey Doggies. They are a pair of little characters: Chloe, an 11 year old Maltese and Rory, a 2 year old mostly Maltese (she has 1/4 Shih Tzu in her, hence her black and white coloring). These two girls are my constant companions in the Winey house (I mean that literally sometimes...Rory has come to see me as her own private couch whenever I sit down) and are without a doubt the best little doggies in the world. (Please note that I am NOT dismissing your own Winey doggies and their shot at being best in the world. But if you are a dog person, you know where I'm coming from. As the folks at The Westminster Dog Show say, "Best in show is the dog sitting next to you on the couch." And they are right!)

I was thrilled to find out that The Chloe Wine Collection decided to name themselves after our older dog. Ahem. I first tried their Chloe Pinot Grigio and loved it. So I was anxious to sip on the Chardonnay. While the Pinot Grigio is from Italy, the Chardonnay is from California's Sonoma County. And it does my Chloe and Sonoma County proud.

Chloe Chardonnay (2012, 13.5%, Sonoma Co.) is a pretty translucent gold color with aromas of white grapes, pears and cinnamon. The taste is classic Chardonnay: pear and vanilla and cinnamon with a touch of mellow oak to finish it all off. The finish was smooth and lingering and it felt creamy and full in my mouth. Another winner for Chloe.  A little refresher course here: according to the Chloe Collection website, the word "chloe" is an ancient word that means "blooming". That's just what this wine did - it started off with the pear flavor and then bloomed into the vanilla and cinnamon spices and opened up fully at the end, adding in the oakiness.  Another great one from the Chloe folks. And at $12.99, it's very affordable. Buy this if you like your Chardonnay lightly oaked and full of flavor as opposed to big and oakey and buttery.

dog on pillows
Chloe on her pillows.
dogs on pillows
Rory watching Chloe on
her pillows!
My Chloe (the one not in the bottle) was happy to hear that I liked another of her namesake wines. She showed her happiness by.....taking a nap. You see, at 11 years old, Chloe is starting to slow down a bit, and she has recently come through a health scare that had us all very worried. She has seen so many vets and specialist vets that The Winey Hubby and I have decided one of our Winey Children should go into that field simply to make house calls for us. OK, so neither of them is even close to showing any inclination to be a veterinarian, but that is beside the point. Now, she was never a spitfire type of dog. No squirrels were chased, no holes dug. Her greatest pleasure as a puppy and young dog was to roll on her back and have her tummy rubbed. And to sit on your lap or, if that wasn't possible, so push her little doggie butt up against a human butt and burrow in. She still loves tummy rubs, but with her new frailty, one of her favorite spots is now atop two big throw pillows in the corner of the couch. She is and always will be a total and complete love of a dog,  and to see her so frail these days touches my heart with a sadness that only another dog lover can understand.

So cheers to Chloe - the wine and the wonderful, wonderful dog.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: A Wine After My Own Heart: Ann's White Wine

Judging by the gifts that The Winey Children bought for The Winey Hubby and I this past Christmas, we can honestly say that we have taught them well when it comes to choosing presents. The Winey Hubby has very good taste when it comes to shopping. He has his artist mother's eye for decorating and choosing things like artwork, china, table linens and furniture. And I am a big advocate of the "buy fewer but buy quality - especially if you can get it on sale" shopping school (I love me a good sale hunt). The Winey Kids have taken the best of these lessons and become very good and thoughtful shoppers.

Elon University Wine Glass, Callaghan Vineyards Ann's White Blend
My presents!
For instance, The Winey Daughter was able to find me a gold and maroon Elon University wine glass for Christmas. It is oversized and long-stemmed and I just love it! The Winey Son is old enough to buy wine as presents now, and in exploring his temporary digs in Arizona, found Callaghan Vineyards and another amazing Christmas gift: Ann's Selection White Wine (2010, 13.5%, Elgin, Arizona). Yes, a wine named after ME!! OK, maybe not me in particular, but hey, it says Ann's right there on the label and that is all that matters to me! How great is that?

Ann's is a white blend, and Callaghan says it is made up of "equal parts Grenache Blanc, Verdelho, Symphony (Muscat x Grenache Blanc), Marsanne and Roussanne." It's also an unfiltered wine (meaning that it doesn't go through the process to make it see-through wine. So while it has a sunny golden-yellow color, it isn't "crystal clear". It's also totally barrel fermented in French Oak, which gives it a creamy feel and taste.

Ann's starts out with faint aromas of ripe pears. The flavors of yellow apples, golden pears, starfruit and cinnamon are dominant and it finishes up with a sour, tart taste. To expound on that "creamy" feel, I'd describe this wine as "round". It's not as satiny full as a Chardonnay. It has a lighter feel to it even though it has many of the same flavors you'd expect in a Chardonnay. (It paired nicely with the Elon glass, by the way.)

Ann's is currently available to buy from Callaghan's on-line store (check to make sure they can ship to your state AND note that they will only ship wine from November-March, thanks to the hot Arizona weather). You will love it as much as I did if you like your a smooth, creamy white with lots of mellow fruit flavors. It would pair wonderfully with roast chicken or a pasta dish with a creamy (not tomato) sauce.

I wonder what other amazing gifts The Winey Kiddos will find for me in the future? I think I cannot wait for Mother's Day!

Cheers! Pin It

Monday, February 9, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Wyandotte Winery's Vin de Cacao for Valentine's Day 2015

Vin de Cacao Chocolate Red WineAhh....Valentine's Day. One of my favorite times of the year.  And when I refer to favorite, I am NOT talking about roses or fluffy heart pillows or little cupids flying around shooting at us. When I say favorite I am referring to  chocolate and wine. Together. Because there's no other time of the year when you are practically obligated to nibble on chocolate and sip wine. Know what's even better? When they come in the same bottle, as they do when Ohio's Wyandotte Winery makes their Vin De Cacao. My friends at Ohio Cellars (a Grove City, OH business that champions Ohio wine and beer and makes them available online to us all, bless their heart) sent me a bottle for my sipping pleasure.

But first a little quiz: what words do you think of when I mention "chocolate wine"? I'll bet "sweet" and "thick" come to mind. But go ahead and banish those words right now. Are they gone? Good, we will continue with my review then.

Vin de Cacao (NV, 12%, Columbus, OH) is a very pretty garnet red color and gives off a nose of milk chocolate and cherries. It's not an overwhelming nose, either. It's just a light whiff of those yummy aromas. The first sip brings you flavors of cherries with a line of mocha running through them. The cherries aren't the sweet ones - they are the tart cherry flavor of riper, darker cherries instead of the smaller, bright red cherries. The mocha is smooth and velvety and it plays very nicely with the cherry. There's a crisp little bite of light tannin at the end of it all too.

Vin de Cacao Chocolate Red Wine labelNot too much red, not too much chocolate....this is a great blend of the two.  Can you see why I wanted you to get away from thick and syrupy when I said chocolate wine? Nothing like that here - the wine feels like a smooth ribbon of silk. Wyandotte classifies this wine as a semi-sweet red infused with chocolate, and they are spot on with the blending of the two. The red wine is bright and the chocolate is rich, making them the perfect Valentine's Day couple.

Buy this wine if you want a different sipping treat. Whether you fall on the sweet or dry side of the red spectrum, I can almost guarantee you'll enjoy it.

A bottle of Vin de Cacao will run you less than $20, which will leave you with plenty of cash left over to buy your sweetie something else. May I suggest a second bottle?

Happy Valentine's Day! Cheers!


Want to try more chocolate wines? Check out my review of Chocolate Shop Chocolate Red Wine


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


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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Another Pair of Wente Wines to Review Our New Wine Words

A few weeks ago, I reviewed a pair of Wente Vineyards reds and, the best of my winey ability, talked about the difference between a single vineyard wine and an estate grown wine. (Winey Tasting Notes: A Pair of Wente Reds, A Few New Wine Words) And I'm going to do it again this week, because I happen to have another pair of Wente wines waiting in the wings (how's that for alliteration?).  This time they are a red and a white as well as one of them being single vineyard and the other being estate grown.

Wente Southern Hills Estate Grown Cabernet SauvignonWe'll start with the estate grown wine, Wente's Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (2013, 13.5%, CA), and as you may have deduced already, it comes from vineyards that are located along the southern hills of the Livermore Valley. Were you paying attention two weeks ago? Ok, then, what does "estate grown" mean in wine speak? If you said that it means the grapes were all grown on land owned by the winery and then made into wine by the same winery, you are right. If not, go back and read it again. There's another quiz coming.

The wine opens with a nose of black cherry and black plum. It tastes of dark, rich stone fruit in the middle and is surrounded by a touch of oak and a hint of dark green spice. It finishes up long and smooth and rich. This is a classic Cabernet Sauvignon with all the good things about that varietal and none of the bad. For the record, it is blended with other wines, so it's 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 9% Petite Sirah, 3% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Merlot. The Merlot adds to the richness of the fruit tastes and the Malbec gives it some nice heft. A great wine, estate grown or wherever.

Wente Riva Ranch Single Vineyard ChardonnayNow on to the single vineyard wine, Wente's Riva Ranch Chardonnay (2013, 13.5%, CA). Here's your quiz: under U.S. law, how much of a wine has to be from the same vineyard in order to call it a single vineyard? Did you say 95%? Good. If not, see my above comment on re-reading. Let me start out by saying that I am placing Riva Ranch on my go-to Chardonnay list. I absolutely loved this wine! It's a light golden yellow color that smells like pear and apple and brown spices. It tasted of crisp oak, pear, apple, vanilla and cinnamon. The finish is crisp and lively. This wine feels so smooth, and if you read up on it, as I did, you'll discover that Wente performs battonage (stirring the wine in its barrels) every three weeks. Wente says this adds to the creaminess of the wine. I agree. That smooth, creamy mouth feel is fantastic! There's a high note of acidity above it all (10% is aged in stainless steel) that keeps it from being cloying and makes it so full of layered flavors that you just can't resist it. I am thrilled to have found this one!

So now we've had two lessons on estate grown and single vineyard. And have found four great wines. A little education is a very good thing, is it not? Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go find some more Riva Ranch Chardonnay.

Cheers!

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


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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Sunny San Angelo Pinot Grigio

It was the perfect reminder of our summer trip to Italy, and it landed on my doorstep on a chilly December day, thanks to my buddies at Banfi Wines. "It" was a bottle of Castello 
Casatello Banfi San Angelo Pinot GrigioBanfi's San Angelo Pinot Grigio  (2013, 13%, Tuscany, Italy) and just looking at its pretty lightly golden color made me want to dive right in and get all summery again. Sadly, the bottle wasn't deep enough to dive into, but it was absolutely the right size to share with the Winey Son at some time.

That time came one night over the recent holidays. I was making dinner and watching The Ryder Cup in between preparations. You did not read that wrong. We were watching The Ryder Cup. In December. And it was about time too, because the DVR was at 98% capacity. This is all because The Winey Son refuses to miss a moment of any major sporting event, despite the fact that his duties and travels often make him unable to watch them live. So I get a text to "please record _______(fill in various epic sporting events that he deems recordable). Thanks!" (At least he says thanks.) And that event will live on our DVR until he can  make it home to Ohio and watch it. I usually pepper the viewing with comments like, "Gee, I wonder who wins? Oh wait, YOU KNOW ALREADY" and "Make sure you delete this as soon as you watch it, there is a new NCIS/Grey's Anatomy/Downton Abbey on soon and we need the room on the DVR". He just looks at me and then turns back to the screen. And on this occasion, accepted a glass of the Pinot Grigio.  He's no dummy, after all.

We took our first sips, and I asked him how he liked it. He said that he liked it, but that he really didn't know wine like I did. Hmm...what does that have to with liking a wine, I asked back. After all, you don't have to know the backstory of a wine to know that you like it. Or don't like it. "OK, then I like it." And that was all that mattered. He and I both liked it!

This liking began with aromas of starfruit, kiwi and pear. The wine was full of flavors of tart citrus and minerals and had such a lively, bright, open feel in the mouth. So very full of flavors and memories of summer and sunny golf courses (for The Winey Son, at least).

Buy this wine if you like your whites tart and zesty and sunny and bright. It runs around $14-16 and is one of the tastiest Italian Pinot Grigios I've had in a while!


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


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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: A Pair of Wente Reds, A Few New Wine Words

Wine words. If you spend any time around wine (ahem), you'll get your fill of them. Tannic. Varietal. Dry. Off-dry. Sweet. Vineyard. Estate. You get the idea, right? Sometimes, it's good to know them. For instance, you don't want to buy a wine that's described as "off-dry" if you don't like sweet wines. But what about some of those other words and phrases that get bandied about, mostly on wine labels? I recently got the chance to study up on estate grown and single vineyard wines, courtesy of my very good friend (and fellow West Point mom) at Wente Vineyards.

Wente Wine Charles Wetmore Estate Grown Cabernet SauvignonWente is currently celebrating their 130th harvest. Think about that one. 130 years of picking grapes. And making wine. Let's just ponder that wonderful job.... Back to reality now. My latest Wente sipping came from the estate grown and single vineyard offerings of the winery. And I got to try them with The Winey Son, who was home for the Christmas holiday and has developed into quite the red wine lover. Win-win!

The first wine we tried was Wente's Charles Wetmore Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon (2012, 13.5%, CA). The nose on this Cabernet Sauvignon pops out with cherry and new oak. The flavors are some of my all time favorites when it comes to Cabernet: chocolate cherry and mocha that finished long oakey. The tannins were well behaved and full of flavor and it felt supple in my mouth. Here comes the educational part: “Estate grown” on the label means that the winery and the vineyard where all the grapes are grown are located in the same viticultural area. The winery owns or controls the vineyards, and the wine was made by the winery at its facility on the estate. 1 Wente owns and cultivates over 3,000 acres of "sustainably farmed" estate vineyards. This one came from the...Charles Wetmore vineyard (well, duh). Wetmore was California’s first agricultural commissioner and a Livermore Valley pioneer. Buy this wine if you like smooth reds that have a ton of flavor but not so much oak.

Wente Wine Single Vineyard Riva Ranch Pinot NoirNext, we tried the Riva Ranch Single Vineyard Pinot Noir (2012, 14.5%, CA). This is an estate grown, single vineyard offering, meaning that in addition to being grown on the Wente estate, 95% of the grapes come from the single property listed (the 95% thing...it's US law if you want to call it single vineyard). In this case, it's the Arroyo Seco vineyard in Monterey. Unfortunately, The Winey Son was unable to sip this one with me, due to a horrendous stomach flu that hit him and The Winey Daughter. I was the one who sipped this after tending to them and let me tell you, sitting down with a glass of wine after caring for your sick kids (I don't care how old they are) all day is a treat. If you've been there, you are nodding right about now. Anyway, the nose on this Pinot is spicy smoke, boysenberry and cranberry. The taste was round, with flavors of smoke, dark green herbs and spices and cherries. It finished on a toasty oak. I think I can best describe this Pinot Noir as an herb garden in Autumn. Think of fire pits with woodsmoke, the last of the herbs in your garden and how good they smell when you brush by them, dark ripe fruits and that lively Autumn feeling you get on a crisp fall day.  This wine is for you if you like your red wine tart and full and less fruit forward.

Two more wonderful reds to get me through the winter. And we all got to learn some new wine words, too.

Cheers!

I was given this wine for review purposes. The opinions and the friendship are all my own!


1"The Wine Institute." Lifestyle Release: Fascinating Facts About California Wine -. Wine Institute, n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2014.
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