Yay!! Wine from Tuscany!!!! Learn a little… what to expect!

Originally posted on Bob Bolden:

2011-05-15_12-54-25_823Old World Tuscany!!  One of my favorite wine regions!!  A little bit of history before we dive in to the details of what to expect.  (The pic is our group…. about ready to enjoy a meal in Ricasoli Castle!)

  • On average Italy is the world’s largest producer of wine over the last decade.
  • Italy is easily the top exporter of wine in the world
  • Tuscan wine can be traced back to the 8th century BC!!!  Do you think they know how to make vino!!!
  • Two regions within Tuscany really roar!  Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico
  • Brunello is the name of the local Sangiovese grape varietal that is grown around the village of Montalcino.  Higher elevations, drier soil yield a wine that is rich and smooth… Tough to beat a Brunello!
  • Chianti Classico is the original Chianti region in central Tuscany.  Since 1996 by law, these wines must have at…

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Virtual Winemaker Tasting April 18th

Winemaker-tasting-event-Bonny-DoonSPECIAL EVENT

  Virtual wine tasting event with renown winemaker, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard
Saturday, April 18th at 6:30pm EST / 5:30pm CST

>> RSVP at your local WineStyles <<

Join us for a LIVE virtual wine tasting event with Bonny Doon Vineyard’s winemaker, Randall Grahm.  In real time, taste 5 wines along side Randall and ask him your questions online.  Seating is limited – call your local WineStyles to RSVP.

Bonny Doon Vineyard

BDV_logo_300dpi-900x900While Bonny Doon Vineyard began with the (in retrospect) foolish attempt to replicate Burgundy in California, Randall Grahm realized early on that he would have far more success creating more distinctive and original wines working with Rhône varieties in the Central Coast of California. Bonny-Doon-BlancThe key learning here (achieved somewhat accidentally but fortuitously) was that in a warm, Mediterranean climate, it is usually blended wines that are most successful. In 1986 Bonny Doon Vineyard released the inaugural vintage (1984) of Le Cigare Volant, an homage to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and this continues as the winery’s flagship/starship brand.  Since then, Bonny Doon Vineyard has enjoyed a long history Shelftalker-NV-CigareBlanc.qxdof innovation – the first to truly popularize Rhône grapes in California, to successfully work with cryo-extraction for sundry “Vins de Glacière, the first to utilize microbullage in California, the first to popularize screwcaps for premium wines, and, quite significantly, the first to embrace true transparency in labeling with its ingredient labeling initiative. The upside of all of this activity has brought an extraordinary amount of creativity and research to the California wine scene; the doon-side, as it were, was perhaps an ever so slight inability to focus, to settle doon, if you will, into a single, coherent direction.

Bonny Doon Vineyard grew and grew with some incredibly popular brands (Big House, Cardinal Zin and Pacific Rim) until it became the 28th largest winery in the United Stated.  Since early 2004, Bonny Doon adopted Biodynamic viticulture and biodynamic practices in as many of their vineyards as practicable.

Randall Grahm Biography

BonnyDoon-RandallGrahmRandall was born in Los Angeles in 1953 and attended Uncle Charlie’s Summer Camp, excuse me, the prestigious University of California at Santa Cruz where he was a permanent Liberal Arts major. Some time later he found himself working at the Wine Merchant in Beverly Hills sweeping floors. By dint of exceptionally good karma he was given the opportunity to taste an ungodly number of great French wines and this singular experience turned him into a complete and insufferable wine fanatic. He returned to the University of California at Davis to complete a degree in Plant Sciences in 1979, where owing to his single-minded obsession with Pinot Noir he was regarded as a bit of a holy terroir in the hallowed halls of the sober and sedate Department of Viticulture and Enology.

With his family’s assistance, Randall purchased property in the Santa Cruz Mountains in a magically quaint eponymous hamlet known as Bonny Doon, intent on producing the Great American Pinot Noir. The GAPN proved to be systematically elusive but he was greatly encouraged by experimental batches of Rhône varieties, and he has been a tireless champion of the grapes of the Rhône since the inaugural vintage of Le Cigare Volant. In 1989 Randall appeared on the cover of the Wine Spectator, clad in blue polyester, as “The Rhône Ranger,” a moniker that has mercilessly followed him ever since. (He has subsequently abandoned the habit of appearing en masque at public events.)

In 1991 Randall was indicted into the Who’s Who of Cooking in America by Cook’s and in the same year Ted Bowell of the Lowell Observatory in northern Arizona named the “Rhoneranger” asteroid in his honor. He was proclaimed Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year by the James Beard Foundation in 1994. Randall lectures frequently to wine societies and technical groups, and occasionally contributes quixotically sincere articles to wine journals. His idiosyncratic newsletters and articles were collected, carefully redacted, and with the inclusion of some very timely new material, published as the award-winning book, “Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology” in 2009. In 2010 the Culinary Institute of America inducted him into the Vintner’s Hall of Fame. He lives in Santa Cruz with his muse Chinshu, their daughter, Amélie and his thesaurus.   Follow Randall’s wine blog.

BonnyDoon-wines-TastedBONNY DOON WINES TASTED:

Imagine Vin Gris
Picpoul
Le Cigare Blanc
Le Cigare Volant
Le Cigare Volant Reserve

LIMITED SEATING
Contact your local WineStyles to RSVP!

Another Holiday…. and what do I do about wine????

Originally posted on Bob Bolden:

Ok, here we are, Valentines day is upon us!!!  Wine seems appropriate right?  But what do you do??

My fail safe recommendation is bubbly!!!!  What better way to really emphasize that this day is different than with a nice bottle of the bubbles!  And, if you pop a bottle at an unexpected time… all the better!  For example:

  • with Valentines day landing on a Saturday, if you and your significant other are lucky enough to not have to work…. open a bottle first thing in the morning :) that just screams “special”!!;
  • If you are heading to a restaurant for a meal, call ahead and either have a bottle ready or see if you can bring your own (save a little money) a drop it by in time for them to have it chilled for you!  And, as you are seated… bang here comes the surprise… how cool is that!!
  • Before…

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The Hess Collection

March Winery Spotlight
Tasting Event

>> RSVP at your local WineStyles <<

Please join us for a special Winery Spotlight event, featuring The Hess Collection winery from Napa Valley, California.

The HESS Collection
Vineyards & Winery

Hess_FamilyStarted in 1844, Hess Family Wine Estates is a family-owned, fourth-generation company with a deep commitment to responsible agricultural and business practices.  Founded in Bern, Switzerland, Hess Family Wine Estates seeks, develops and mentors businesses worldwide that reflect the company’s values of tradition, quality and sustainability.

In 1978, Donald Hess founded the Hess Collection Winery on Mount Veeder, 2,000 feet above the Napa Valley.  True to his vision of what a New World wine should be, Mr. Hess established his winery on the volcanic slopes of Mount Veeder in the Napa Valley and defined a whole new approach to winemaking.  Along with its mountain vineyards, the winery has won acclaim for its other estate vineyards in the northeast and southern ends of the Napa Valley and has been recognized for its successful relationships with family-owned growers who represent some of the finest appellations in California.

The Hess Collection Winery produces three tiers of wines and has distinguished itself as a premium producer of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

THE HESS COLLECTION WINE TASTING EVENT:

Hess_Wines

The Hess Collection Napa Valley Chardonnay
Hess Select Central Coast Pinot Noir
The Hess Collection 19 Block Mountain Cuvee
MacPhail Family Wines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
The Hess Collection Napa Valley Allomi Cabernet Sauvignon
The Hess Collection Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

LIMITED SEATING
Contact your local WineStyles to RSVP!

What To Drink On Valentine’s Day

Originally posted on Talk-A-Vino:

BollingerI generally avoid holiday-related wine posts, and I do it for a number of reasons. First of all, every information source on the planet considers it to be their duty to produce some piece of writing with wine recommendations. And then for someone who drinks wine all the time, the holidays are not so much of a special occasion to have a reason to open a bottle of wine. Oh well – somehow I felt compelled to share my thoughts on the wines for the Valentine’s Day, hence this post…

Pink. Red. Extreme. Commercialized beyond belief, still increasingly so year after year. Heart-shaped to the point of insanity. There are many things which turn people away from the Valentine’s Day, and I can understand that. However, I take this holiday as an extra opportunity to celebrate love and life. All you need to do is to find your way –…

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Coffee Rubbed Skirt Steak

Fire up the Grill!
Great recipe to pair with the Big Game and Chapter Three Shiraz!

Coffee-Skirt-SteakINGREDIENTS:
•  2 lbs. skirt steak
•  2 tablespoons ground coffee beans
•  2 tablespoons ground black pepper
•  1 ¼ tablespoon sea salt
•  1 tablespoon smoked paprika
•  ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Mixed all dry ingredients and rub Steak both sides.   Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Prepare grill (preferable charcoal) and grill steaks two-three minutes per side on high heat.

Let rest 5 minutes.  Cut across grain and serve with a glass of Chapter Three Shiraz.  Serves 4
Recipe compliments of Epic Wines.

Bold_stickerChapter-3-ShirazMcPherson
Chapter Three Shiraz
Central Victoria, Australia

This is the third range to be released into the McPherson portfolio and has been created with the finest attention paid to viticultural practices and winemaking techniques to achieve wines of perfect harmony, great style and superb quality.  Fruit was harvested from 15-year-old vines in exceptional vineyard sites on top of the Strathbogie Ranges.The vineyards are situated on granitic sand and rock, which give the wine notable terroir.  Smooth, complex and elegant, this medium bodied, cool climate red evolves with stunning aromas of ripe sweet berries coupled with a floral, violet – like perfume and smoky, chocolate suggestions. The perfect accompaniment to fillet steak or venison – or for something a little different try it with some chocolate cake.

Harmoniously balanced with brooding fruits and carefully integrated French oak, this wine offers intense blackberries and dark plums with a lingering spicy finish. Possessing an eternal palate of richness and spice, it is irresistible now, and will richly reward those who offer it time.”- Jo Nash, winemaker

Jo-Nash

Jo Nash, winemaker

Winemaker: Jo Nash
Appellation: Central Victoria, Australia
Varietal Blend:  95% Shiraz, 5% Viognier
Analysis: 14.0% alc/vol
Critical Acclaim:
5 Stars Central & Western Victoria Wine State National 2014; Gold Medal Decanter World Wine Awards UK 2013; Gold Medal Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit 2013

Chicken and Dumplings with Mushrooms

chicken-dumplings-chardonnayCHICKEN STEW INGREDIENTS:
•  6 oz slab bacon, cut into ½ pieces
•  ½ cup all-purpose flour
• 4 chicken legs (drumsticks with thighs; about 2 lbs.)
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
•  1 ¼ pound mixed mushrooms
•  1 medium onion, chopped
•  6 cloves garlic crushed
•  ½ cup dry white wine
•  6 sprigs thyme
•  2 bay leaves
•  8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

DIRECTIONS: Crisp bacon in large Dutch oven over medium heat; transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  Place flour in a shallow bowl.   Season chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in flour.  Working in batches, cook chicken, skin side down, in the same pot over medium heat until deep golden brown and crisp (do not turn), 12-15 minutes. Transfer to plate.

Working in two batches, cook mushrooms in the same pot, seasoning with salt and pepper and stirring occasionally, until brown, 5-8 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl. Add onion and garlic to pot: cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent, 5-8 minutes.

Add wine to pot; simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.  Add chicken, bacon, thyme, bay leaves and broth; season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and gently simmer, partially covered, skimming occasionally, until chicken falls off the bone, 2 -2 ¼ hours.  Add mushrooms and simmer until flavors meld, 10-15 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

DUMPLING INGREDIENTS:
•  ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
•  1 cup all-purpose flour
•  ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
•  1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•  2 large eggs
•  ½ cup whole milk

DUMPLING & ASSEMBLY:
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.  Whisk flour, baking powder, nutmeg, pepper, and ¾ tsp. salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk in eggs and milk (batter will be slightly lumpy). Reduce heat until water is a strong simmer. Drop teaspoonfuls of batter into water; cook until dumplings are cooked through and doubled in size, about 5 minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon; add to stew just before serving. Servings: 6

Stew (without dumplings) can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.  Recipe courtesy of Bon Appẻtit, February 2014 issue.

Basilisk-ChardonnaySilky_StickerMcPherson
Basilisk Chardonnay
Central Victoria, Australia

The fruit for the Basilisk Chardonnay was sourced from the Goulburn Valley on the vineyards neighboring the winery. This region has long, warm sunny days and mild evening temperatures which are perfect for the growing of good quality Chardonnay. The grapes were harvested during the cool of the night to maintain fruit freshness and gently pressed to minimise phenolic characters. A rich and textual wine displaying lovely aromas of tropical fruits with a hint of apple and spice. The palate is mouth-filling and generous with excellent length and harmony carrying the fruit to a full clean finish. A marvellous wine match with any meal and is best served slightly chilled to allow the full texture of the wine to flourish.

Jo-Nash

Jo Nash, winemaker

“A rich, full bodied Chardonnay that is best enjoyed with foods such as roast chicken, rich seafood or roasted duck. This wine is great all-round and will complement most styles of cuisine.” - Jo Nash, winemaker

Winemaker: Jo Nash
Appellation: Central Victoria, Australia
Varietal:  100% Chardonnay
Analysis: 13.0% alc/vol
Critical Acclaim: 89 pts James Halliday’s Wine Companion 2015

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Shank

Moroccan-spiced-lambINGREDIENTS:
•  3-4 lbs. lamb shanks
•  1 tsp salt
•  1 tsp black pepper
•  1 tsp cumin
•  1 tsp cinnamon
•  1 tsp paprika
•  1 pound carrots (chopped into pieces)
•  2 garlic cloves
•  bunch cilantro
•  ¼  cup dried cherries

DIRECTIONS:
Mix spices together and rub on shanks (salt, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, paprika).

Chop tomatoes, garlic and cilantro stems.  In a 2 quart Dutch Oven, add carrots, garlic, cilantro, dried cherries and shanks.  Add ½ cup water and bring to a boil.   Cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for 2 to 2 ½ hours.

Garnish with Cilantro leaves and serve with Cous Cous.  Recipe compliments of Epic Wines.

Basilisk-Shiraz-MourvedreBold_stickerMcPherson Basilisk
Shiraz Mourvedre
Central Victoria, Australia

An enchanting combination of serpent and rooster, the Basilisk is a creature of folklore whose name and legend have inspired the creation of our premium wine range.  This enigmatic blend of two creatures’ parallels McPherson’s concept of uniquely styled wines, each individually crafted by combining exceptional parcels of fruit with passionately applied winemaking techniques to create a wine true to its variety and regional origin.   Rich, with elegant and supple tannins, this Rhone inspired wine is an enigmatic blend of cool-climate spicy Shiraz combined with mild climate full-bodied Shiraz, finely tempered by the savory tannins of Mourvedre.  The Basilisk Shiraz Mourvedre is a wonderful partner to rich red meat dishes and pastas, and for those who are a little more daring why not try it with dark chocolate.

This delicious, exciting and harmonious wine exhibits aromas and flavors of blackberry, pepper and spice combined with the elegant integration of French oak.  Rich dark berry fruit flavors are abundant on the palate with underlying savory notes such as leather and spice.” – Jo Nash, winemaker

Jo-Nash

Jo Nash, winemaker

Winemaker: Jo Nash
Appellation: Central Victoria, Australia
Varietal Blend:  95% Shiraz, 5% Mourvedre
Analysis: 14.5% alc/vol
Critical Acclaim:
89 pts James Halliday’s Wine Companion 2015
Silver Medal Royal Sydney Wine Show 2014
Silver Medal Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit 2013
85 pts eRobertParker.com 2013

Indulgences with Heart

wine-sweet-heartsMany of us have vowed to eat healthier as we begin this New Year.

The good news is that you do not have to completely cut out some of your favorite foods to achieve your goal. Antioxidants are known to help the body protect against damage from free radicals, which contribute to aging and cardiovascular disease. Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant found in plant-based foods and beverage, including coffee, tea, red wine and chocolate.

In celebration of February’s National Heart Month we looked into some of the healthy benefits of some of our most beloved treats.

Wine Tasting KitCHOCOLATE: Studies show that chocolate consumption may lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. Dark chocolate is a potent antioxidant. The darker the chocolate,the more likely it is to contain high levels of flavonoids. Dark chocolate can also aid digestion after a meal.

iStock_000010717296XSmallCHEESE: Calcium is essential to maintaining strong and healthy bones and cheese is rich in the nutrient. Calcium is also necessary for keeping your teeth healthy and preventing cavities. In addition to calcium, cheese contains Vitamin D, which helps maintain strong bones and is linked to prevention of osteoporosis and hyper-tension. Opt for natural, gourmet-style cheeses, as highly processed cheeses may contain preservatives, trans fats and artificial coloring.

Wine-heartRED WINE: Studies have shown that wine contains antioxidants such as polyphenols, which can protect the lining of coronary blood vessels.  Moderate consumption of red wine is also suggested to lower the risk of coronary heart disease. Studies have also suggested that red wine can also reduce cholesterol, the formation of blood clots, and the risk of kidney stones.

COFFEE: Research indicates that coffee not only helps clear the mind but it also provides more healthful antioxidants than any other food or beverage in the American diet. Studies suggest that coffee can lower the risk for type 2 diabetes, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and prostate cancer.

teaTEA: Just like coffee, both green tea and black tea are known to improve alertness and reduce the risk of heart disease. They also help maintain blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity, which is vital in the treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes.

You can still indulge in some of your favorite foods and beverages — just enjoy in moderation for a great start to a happy and healthy new year.  – Chad Cohen

When Dogs Fly

Matt_Brophy_FlyingDogs

Interview with Matt Brophy, Brewmaster & COO of Flying Dog Brewery

Since opening as a brewpub in Aspen, Colorado in 1990, Flying Dog Brewery has taken the craft beer world by storm.  Today they ship more than 800,000 cases a year, across the world from their state-of-the-art facility in Frederick, Maryland.  Matt Brophy, Flying Dog’s Brewmaster and COO, shares with us what makes craft beer so unique.

What makes craft beer different from other beers?

Craft beers draw their inspiration not from the factory profit-driven-machine mentality but from the creative desire to produce a product that is unique to its creator, the brewer, and enjoyable to the customer.  Although beer is very simple in that is contains only four ingredients – water, malted barley, hops and yeast – it’s the nontraditional ingredients such as the use of spices, fruits, sugars and alternative cereal grains that has found its way to craft beers.

How does Flying Dog brew their beer?

Flying Dog brewers use traditional brewing techniques and all-natural ingredients.

FlyingDogs-PaleAleWhat are some of the different flavor profile you can find in a craft beer?

Generally speaking all beers are a balance of malt sweetness and hop bitterness.  A good brewer can manipulate ingredients to produce aromas and flavors ranging from crisp and quenching to much bolder sensory experiences.

With the Super Bowl coming up, can you recommend special beers that pair well with Super Bowl food/snacks?

Our hoppy Snake Dog IPA pairs with a spicy-hot pepper jack cheese but it will also do well with hot wings, spicy salsa or queso dip. Dog Schwarz is brewed using smoked malt and has a moderate amount of smoke in the aroma and flavor.  This beer pairs great with smoked or grilled meats.  A malty American amber lager like our Old Scratch goes great with some brats from the grill.

What tips do you have for pairing craft beer with food?

The simplest and best advise I have is to have fun and experiment.  There is no “right” or “wrong” pairing as long as it tastes good to you.