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La Parcelle

This was a special champagne, given to me as a birthday present. It’s vintages at 2013. This particular champagne is a Blanc de noirs, meaning that the is 100% Pinot noir. It was perfect for the two desserts that I had selected, a lemon cake with white chocolate accents annd an early gray cake with rich ganache. I know it’s generally a faux paux to serve a less sweet wine with a sweeter dessert, but the champagne was served first, to show it off. Coincidentally, the acid and fruit cut through the richness of the desserts to make a pleasant pairing.

The champagne, I Florence La Parcelle from Cote de Bechalin 2013 is a stunningly complex wine, opening with lightly toasted pears, ground walnuts, and all the orange zest it can pack into your nose. It opens to more floral lilies, mandarin oranges, ripe golden delicious apple flesh as the skin is peeled. This is a superb bottle. Not,to say that  have a whole lot of experience with champagne, but out of my limited knowledge, and experience with crappy sparklers, I loved it.


3 Badge

I had the pleasure of experiencing a sampling of spirits represented by the 3 Badge Corporation out of California. The corporation is run by the Sebastiani family, starting in 2010 as an importer of wines, and has recently expanded to import a variety of fantastic spirits.

The two lines of spirits from 3 Badge that caught and held my attention, were the “Kirk and Sweeney” aged rums from the Dominican Republic and the varieties of Gins from Bend, Oregon.

“Kirk and Sweeney” is named for a well-known rum-smuggling schooner from the Caribbean during Prohibition. “Kirk and Sweeny” is a line of rums that are aged 12, 18 and 23 years.

These rums are not made with the solera method, as so many aged spirits are. This means that the original batch is not topped off with younger spirit to maintain a consistent blend when there is evaporation loss (the Angel’s Share) out of the barrels. This offers a more concentrated taste, 100% of the spirit coming from the stated year.

I enjoy pairing wines with dinner, but these rums are a dessert pairing that just cannot be beat. The 12-year aged rum is a delicious, mix of brown sugar, vanilla, dried apricots and peaches, with oaky overtones.  This is by far the lightest of the three, but would be an excellent accompaniment to a peach cobbler, or apple crisp.

The 18-year aged “Kirk and Sweeney”, holds a more nuanced and almost masculine body. The body of the 18-year aged rum is brimming with deep vanilla, tobacco, butterscotch, hints of maple and almost candied dried fruit.  This rum is by far my favorite of the three, being young enough to be light, but old enough to have character. This rum would pair beautifully with a caramel cheesecake or cinnamon spiced apple pie.

The 23-year aged rum is reminiscent of Armagnac, a grape spirit, with that old whisky edge that makes one think it’ll be a heavy body. However, this rum is lighter than that, with oodles of burnt cream, and vanilla. The 3 Badge company recommends that this be used in a dessert, specifically blended into a milkshake.


“Wine Whatevers” Debut

I’m not used to being in front of a camera, but for a first time, and not knowing what I was going to say, I’m quite pleased. More to come, with improvements, too!

The last few months have been super exciting for me, as a certified somm. I was asked to do a series of things in which I actually get to use this credential, rather than just have it chalked up to a business’s glory without actually getting to use it. First, my boss, and friend, Billie, who owns the PanHandler, asked me to write the wine notes for the wines we sell. I’ve done it before, but this is the first time I’m doing it on any real scale. I’m thoroughly happy about this, because it keeps me more in touch with the store on a regular basis. The second thing that happened was that the local television station, HCTV, asked me to doa regular wine segment at least once a month! I get to take about any wine or wine related topic I want. In order to keep things as un-politocal as I can, I’m only using the wines I write about or purchase myself. The third exciting piece of news is that I have been asked to help MC/host, as a Sommelier, the annual Myrna Loy fundraiser, “Uncorked.” This event is going to be a fancy dinner, catered by our local restaurant, with statewide sourced food, Benny’s Bistro. I’m picking the wines to pair with the courses, and will as asked to present the what and why about each!

Albert Bichot’s Vieilles Vignes de Pinot Noir, Bourgogne, from Beaune France. This wine is mis en bouteille, estate bottled. It is a delightfully dusty cherry red fruit pinot noir, with excellent expressions of raspberries, earth, with a bright acid finish. This wine is beautifully round, red cherries, with red clay notes, and spicy, unsweetened cinnamon.

This would be a delightful pairing with roasted chicken, beef bourgogne, or even beef stroganoff.

It’s rare that I drink shiraz of any kind, given Australia’s old reputation for jug wine-quality swill. I’m still not 100% sold on it, but this is a crowd pleaser, not a late night, love affair. The Third Generation Shiraz is dusty and super fruity on the nose, tasting of raspberries, red fruit leather, boysenberries, garnished with a few green notes of kale, parsley and easy peppers. This wine feels like it might have been chaptalized, but I could be wrong. The practice of adding sugar is taboo, and if I’m not mistaken, it is still taboo in Australia, and there is no labeling requirement, regrettably.

I really hate red fruit bombs for myself, but this is a fun little shiraz for those wine drinkers who are just past their love of soda that moved them to drink Corbet Canyon or Old Vines fizzy berry wines, and transitioning into more sophisticated palates.


Menade “M” Verdejo 2014

Menade “M” Verdejo 2014 is a deliciously herbacious organic white wine from Rueda Valladolid Spain. I’m not normally a fan of whites, but with all the heavy red meat dishes, and stews of fall, white wines can be very refreshing. Verdejo opens with super green grassy notes, fresh green herbs like basil and taragon, green apples, artichokes, lime zest and white volcanic stone. This wine finishes with a brilliant little acid kick that melts away in my mouth that would make a perfect chaser to any fall pork dis, or a roasted, bacon wrapped chicken breast.

This was a present from a friend of mine, Kevin Hamlin, another Sommelier.

This wine is one of those older bottles that just reminds you that all wine started out as a dream, in real hands, not just a tank, and machine press. This wine was made by the Rosenblum Family, back when the family still made the wine, not just paid others to do it for them. That’s why this wine is such a treat.

Rosenblum’s Rockpile Petite Sirah 2002 comes from the Northern Dry Creek Valley above Sonoma, CA, from 90 year old Petite Sirah Clones.

This wine appears ink black, rich and thick like great coffee with only the barest whispers of that almost milky aroma/flavor that some old red wines take on. I can smell the age, like a dusty library in the sun just as the thick burgundy velvet drapes are opened in an old ranch house with wooden floors. There are hints of blackberry jam, black plum flesh, oak, vanilla, coffee, and roasted nutty overtones.

Rockpile Petite Sirah goes beautifully with chocolate, and would also pair well with duck, lamb or venison. I had it with meatloaf tonight, and it was a perfect companion to the smokiness of the meat. What surprised me, was that it also was terrific with garlic bread. Since when do I EVER find something to go with garlic bread??? LOVE IT!


Veni Vidi Vici “V Vini”

This wine, this extraordinary cabernet sauvignon from the Thracian Valley in Bulgaria is astonishingly young, at a 2015 vintage. This wine started out tight, but much like a Picasso painting. It was cold raspberries, creamy vanilla, tart red apples, vanilla ice cream, and red tannins thrown in at the last moment. As pleasant as all of these aromas and flavors were, it was not connected. It was a Picasso painting, all the right elements are there, but disjointed, not unfinished, but re-imagined.

I left it alone, and poured a glass a few moments ago, hating to waste a wine from some far off land, and behold! A week later, this wine has evolved into roses, deep rich velvety tannins, a swirl of midnight purple fruit, and a mouthwatering finish as though the story of Lancelot and Guenevere were dancing on my tongue. I know, I know, it’s probably cheesy, but I suppose when we are pleasantly surprised by the poetry in a bottle, we all see or feel different things.

This wine would have benefited greatly from a cork closure rather than a screw cap. I love it just the same.

Given that I bought this at the Pan Handler’s annual wine sale, I probably won’t be able to find it again, but darn if I’m not going to try!


Aviary Cab Sauv 2014

Aviary Cab 2014 is a delicious red fruit, and almost under ripe blackberries. This Napa Cab is not as powerfully tannic as one might expect. It’s tart red fruit could stand another year or two, but it is a thin waif, a body that matches a central coast pinot noir than a cab.

This wine is very fruity, with a lazy finish. There is no oomph to this wine, but it’s not bad. It would be better with a slightly spicier food, in order to add body to it.