Discovery 2012, A Good Year for Sipping Wine

Tis the season for fine wine at


I know I am a little late in getting this post out, but I took a couple of weeks off for the holidays. We have kids scattered from North Carolina to Georgia to South Carolina and decided to visit all then left out of Charleston December 30 to celebrate New Year’s Eve on a cruise ship – more about that in an upcoming post. But for now, I want to recap a few wine discoveries I had in 2012. It was a good year for sipping wine!

Chardonnay has long been a favorite of most wine drinkers and possibly a typical house wine for a lot of you.  For me, I was well into this “wine lifestyle” before I became a fan.  But today I truly enjoy a chilled white wine – it has to be on the cool side for me to drink it, a little cooler than even the recommended temperature but not so cold that you lose the flavors and aromas.  With that said, my new favorite Chardonnay discovery this year is Morning Fog from Wente Vineyards.  A crisp chardonnay with just a hint of cinnamon, Morning Fog has become one of my house wines.  I keep it on hand mostly for myself but love sharing it with friends.  If you haven’t tried this wine, I highly recommend it!

Moving through my 2012 lineup of favorites, I have to recommend “Rosé of Cabernet Franc” from Raylen Vineyards located in Mocksville, North Carolina.  Raylen Vineyards is part of the Yadkin Valley AVA, the largest AVA in North Carolina with more than 30 wineries, each serving up their own unique spin on your favorite wines.  I know some people refer to ice wines as “romantic” wines, but I think that is what Rosé is, a wine that can be enjoyed by everyone for every occasion.  It adds a touch of romance to life and we all need (and deserve) a touch of romance.  A lot of people think that Rosé is going to have a flavor profile similar to a white zinfandel, but that is not the case.  Today’s Rosé is dry but soft and full of flavor.  This particular Rosé has a tart strawberry and citrus finish that lingers slightly on the palate.  It is an excellent wine to drink by itself but also pairs well with spicy foods and chicken or turkey.  I recommend buying it by the case and even then, it won’t last long.

Last, but not least, on my list of new discoveries is Castillo Catadau Gran Reserva 2005 Tempranillo from Naked Wines (another new discovery/favorite).  Tempranillo was new to me.  I had received this wine in a shipment from Naked Wines and had saved it for Tempranillo Day – a day dedicated to the wine where wine enthusiasts all over the world are encouraged to drink Tempranillo and post your thoughts and comments through your preferred means of social media.  I was completely blown away by this wine!  It is mellow and smooth with hints of both caramel and vanilla.  You will notice that it is a 2005 which means that it was aged in the barrel for a good long while before it was released so there is no need for you to age it at home – just pop the cork and enjoy!  You can read reviews and comments about the Tempranillo on Naked Wines website.  It gets rave reviews and you won’t be disappointed.  Again, I recommend ordering it by the case.

And if you are not familiar with Naked Wines, check them out.  Become an “Angel,” find your new favorite wine and help support the winemaker’s in living the dream of making great wine.  Naked Wines has a bargain price on all their wines, but the Angel price is a real bargain.  So my final recommendation for the New Year, is Naked Wines.

Each of these wines is very affordable making them perfect for your house wine and for your everyday wine but they are also elegant enough to be the wine you share with friends and serve at special occasions.

I predict that 2013 is going to be another Great year for sipping wine so explore something new and enjoy!

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All About Greek Wine – GAI’A

This was a media sample from New Wines of Greece

Nostalgia -  [no-stal-juh] noun: a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.

I’ve been trying to come up with the right way to describe the taste of this Rosé, but I just couldn’t put my finger on what it brought to mind until I was at a fund-raiser last night.  When it was time for dessert, we had two choices banana pudding or strawberry cobbler.  Immediately nostalgic thoughts of my Grandmother making homemade cobbler in her quaint little kitchen came to mind.  I loved her cobblers – strawberry, blackberry and peach – so naturally I chose the cobbler.  The first bite brought back the flavors of this 14-18h Rosé in full force.  That’s what the wine reminded me of, Grandma’s cobbler.  With a hint of tart strawberries, this wine has a crisp finish, not too long on the finish and very refreshing.

Varietal: Rosé, GAI’A Wines of Koutsi, Nemea       Alcohol: 13.1%       Price: $15

I know Rosé wines have been around forever, but I just developed an affinity for them last summer.  There is nothing better than a good dry Rosé well chilled to take the edge off a hot, humid, summer day.  When the wines of Greece arrived at my office, I was thrilled to see a Rosé included in the samples.  As I knew I was traveling out of town the next day, the evening of the webinar, I chose to only open three of the six wines and save the other three for tasting and reviewing at a later date.  I am really glad this is one I held back.

There is a revolution in the Greek Wine Industry and their wines are garnering attention all over the world.  Bloggers and columnists alike are writing about the breath-taking scenery of Greece as well as these wonderful wines.  We can’t all travel to Greece to taste wine, but you can go to your local wine store and check out what is on the shelf.  The price is reasonable and the quality is top-notch.

(Special note: I apologize for the picture.  I recently upgraded to a new cell phone and they were not able to transfer my pictures from the old phone. :-( so all I was able to get was a picture of the label off the info sheet that came with the shipment.)

NC Holiday Wine Project – #8

This wine was a media sample provided by Biltmore Estate & Winery

Here’s to the corkscrew – a useful key to unlock the storehouse of wit, the treasury of laughter, the front door of fellowship, and the gate of pleasant folly.

W.E.P. French  (From the wine list of Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, LA courtesy of John McDonald, Dallas, TX)

The holidays are all about a “treasury of laughter”, fellowship and folly and what better way to share these than with friends and a favorite wine.  And what better wine to share (or pair) than a dry rose’.

This gorgeous pale (but still deep) red wine is the perfect wine for the holidays.   We are all concerned about our wines overpowering our holiday turkey.  This Biltmore Estate Century Rose’ is rich and full of flavor but still light enough to let the turkey take center stage.  Other pairing suggestions would be using the left overs to make turkey pot pie, pizza and Ginger Sugar Cookies.  This wine is so versatile!  At first I couldn’t figure out why I was so infatuated with this wine, then I realized it was the blackberry flavors and aromas that had taken me by surprise.  One would typically expect strawberry, but this was such a pleasant burst of flavor.  My only regret is that the bottle now lays empty and I have not seen this in local stores!

Varietal:  Blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Cabernet Sauvignon

Alcohol:  12.5%

Price:  $14.99

Wine Temperature Serving Guide

It is amazing how different wine tastes when it is served at the right temperature. The following is a good guide to use. Do your own test and compare the same wine at various temperatures.  The right temperature brings out the true flavors and aromas of wine and makes your wine experience much more pleasurable.  Remember though that this is just a guide.  Enjoy your wine at the temperature that is right for you.

Champagne & Sparkling Wine: 46-50 degrees

Dry White Wines: 50-55 degrees

Rose’: 52 degrees

Red Wines: 54-64 degrees

We have always been told that Red Wines are to be served at room temperature. But we have to remember that room temperature used to be less than 65 degrees, not 70-75 like we have today. If you have had your Red Wine just sitting out on the cabinet, place it in the refridgerator for about 15 minutes to bring it down to the right temperature. If you don’t have a wine cooler, you can recork a partial bottle and store it in the refridgerator. This time, take the wine out and pour it into your glass and let it sit for about 15 minutes to come up to temperature before drinking.

Rosé Makes a Comeback!

I’ve been researching rosé for a few days now. It has been difficult to find much about the early days of this delicate pink wine that is now so trendy and has taken on such a Fab status with the wine connoisseur. America has always had a romance with French wines; however, Rosé started out in the South of France as a bone dry wine but it was not widely accepted in the US. In the 50′s the typical wine drinker in the US didn’t appreciate a dry wine. The preference was for a sweeter, higher alcohol wine. Then in the 60′s the US palate changed again with everyone becoming a wine snob and only drinking pure varietals and even though Rosé existed, it was relegated to the bottom shelf as a less than desirable wine.

So for decades, Rosé took a back seat to the more famous reds – Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot, etc. During this time, the American palate was changing once again - we now want robust, full-bodied wines with fresh fruit flavors. We want our wines to be (dare I say) orgasmic. So Rosé has been re-introduced to the American wine consumer. Today’s Rosé is modern, versatile, and elegant. It pairs with any setting or any lifestyle and is made in the dry European tradition.

I started drinking Rosé this summer (reluctantly). I was visiting Junius Lindsay Vineyards in Lexington, NC. They offered me a taste of their new Rosé and could immediately see the hesitation on my face. Smiling, they poured a sample tasting into my glass and waited for my reaction. What I was expecting was the sweet taste of a blush wine or a white zinfandel; but I was so pleasantly surprised!  On the nose I found strawberry with a hint of lime.  These aromas followed through on the palate making this a delightful wine.

This was the most refreshing wine I have had in quite some time.  It has quickly become one of my favorites.  I had thought it would only be a summer wine, but I am rethinking that.  I may have to keep it in the wine cooler all through the fall as I can see drinking this on a crisp fall evening out by the fire pit.

Junius Lindsay Vineyard

Rosé 2009 – Special Delivery

Alcohol – 11.5%

Suggested Pairing – pork (especially ham) and BBQ

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