Archive for the ‘Food and Wine’ Category

Stay Rad Wine Blog TV Episode 140: Chianti Rufina and a Burger

August 16, 2014

In this episode, Jeff pairs this Chianti Rufina sample with his guacamole burger…

Wine Tasted:

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Nipozzano 2010 Chianti Rufina Riserva

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What’s your favorite Chianti Rufina? How did it compare to other Chianti and Chianti Classicos you’ve tried? Leave a comment and let us know.

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#FLXWine to the fullest! or… Is it too soon to hashtag #WBC15? or… Sometimes Wine + Blogging Does = Wine Blogging

July 17, 2014

One week ago, I sat down to review one of several wines samples sent to me from Villa Bellangelo Winery.  In particular, I sat down to review this wine…

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Bellangelo 2012 Gewürztraminer

Now…

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that it really doesn’t take that long for me to assess and come to a conclusion about wine.  In my video reviews, you’ll see me talk about a particular wine from anywhere from five to twenty minutes… But really… It only takes me a minute or two of that tasting to form my opinion.

“So, Jeff…” you may be wondering, “Why have you been struggling with putting together this wine review?  I mean… Seriously?  You’ve been working on this post for over a week?  You’re only 147 words into this thing… And that includes this made-up dialogue.  What gives?”

Well…

There’s a couple of different things going on here.

1. I don’t do nearly as many written reviews on this blog as I used to. Go ahead and take a peek at the last ten posts.  I’ll wait…  Do you see that?  Nine of the last ten reviews I did on this site were of the video variety!

The reality is, aside from the technical aspects, video wine reviews are easier… for me anyway.  That’s one of the major reasons why I do them.

2. When I do a written piece on this site, I want there to be a theme that ties everything together.  The problem that I’ve been having with this review is that there are too many themes that I wish to include. Every time I started to write about this wine from one particular angle, a new theme would surface, and stuff would start to get all confusing.

So…

Maybe I should just lay out some important things to consider about this wine, and see if I can piece this together somehow…

A. Chris Missick of Villa Bellangelo approached me about reviewing some of his wines near the end of June.

B. Six samples from Villa Bellangelo arrived at my doorstep at the beginning of July.

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C. Hella Villa Bellangelo Samples now inhabit my refrigerator.

D. As you can see from the photo above, Villa Bellangelo specializes in cool-climate Riesling and Gewürztraminer from the Finger Lakes AVA of upstate New York.

E. While I’ve been very much aware of the style of the Finger Lakes region, I’ve never had any wines from this area.  My experience as a Californian has been that one must really search to find these wines around here.

F. Days after the samples arrived, Kara and I drove down to Santa Barbara County to attend the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference.  We had a blast!

G. I learned at the Wine Bloggers Conference that the expression “We had a blast!” is mad cliché, and should never be used.

H. On the final night of the Wine Bloggers Conference, the announcement was made that next year’s conference will be held in the Finger Lakes.

I. Since returning to from #WBC14, I’ve been attempting write a post which makes a connection between my experiences at the conference with the wines of Villa Bellangelo (and all the other #FLXWine).

So…

Let’s give this a go.

On the opening day of the Wine Bloggers Conference, the keynote speech was delivered by Corbett Barr of Fizzle.  While not an expert at wine blogging, specifically, Corbett has made a very good living for himself as a blogger and podcaster.  I truly appreciated his take on the state of wine blogging.

Corbett is a fantastic storyteller.  One of the most memorable bits that I took away from his speech was when he talked about doing research on wine blogging.  Corbett talked the time he took a bottle of wine down to a park, drank it, and tried to blog.  He summed up his experience with the following equation.

Wine + Blogging ≠ Wine Blogging

Now…

I totally get what Corbett was saying here.  There is a whole lot more to this art form (That’s right!  I went there!).  You can’t just throw some booze in your glass and fake it… though some may try.

But…

Sometimes you get stuck.  Seriously… It’s been 720 words in this post so far, and I still haven’t gotten to reviewing this Gewürztraminer.

So…

To aid in reviewing the Bellangelo 2012 Gewürztraminer, I’ve opened up this sample…

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Bellangelo 2012 Semi-Dry Riesling + Blogging

In some ways, I feel like the 2012 Semi-Dry Riesling is a better wine to start with, if wanted to explore the wines of the Finger Lakes.

As wine drinkers, we should all be familiar with Riesling.  Now… whereas many wine lovers will geek out over all things Riesling, the typical wine drinker may stay away from it.  Many complain that Riesling is too sweet.  This may be due to the typical, almost dessert-like, domestic Riesling.  In such cases, these Rieslings are too sweet because they are grown in the wrong place, or just made poorly.

When one explores the killer, cool-climate Rieslings of Alsace, France or Germany, one can really get a firm grasp of all that Riesling really has to offer.  High acid.  A touch of residual sugar.  Balance.  They’re hecka tasty.

My hope is that the Finger Lakes show more like European Riesling versus their domestic contemporaries.

So…

Let’s try the 2012 Semi-Dry Riesling!

Color: Light golden-yellow.  One swirl of the wine in the glass not only highlights the typical color, but also fades to this beautiful slow sloshing of the juice, highlighting its viscosity.

Nose: I love the typical oily notes that can be found in good Riesling. This wine is no exception.  I am also noticing a touch of lemon and savory herbs.

Palate: Nice tart lemon on the front of the palate are rounded out by those oily notes.  There is a touch of residual sugar (1.8%), but the 7.95 g/L of titratable acidity provides the balance that Riesling needs. You would never characterize this wine as being too sweet.

Score: The 2012 Semi-Dry Riesling is from the Morris and Gibson vineyards in the Finger Lakes.  I’m excited to see how this wine stacks up against some of the single-vineyard offerings from Villa Bellangelo.  This is a fresh and balanced number.  The perfect wine for a summer day when you’re in a blogging rut.  90 points!

Okay…

Now let’s get back to the Bellangelo 2012 Gewürztraminer that I tasted last week!

Color: Pale golden-yellow.  Very similar to the Riesling (minus the sloshiness of the swirl, of course).

Nose: Honey and lemon zest dominate this nose, but there is an oiliness here (reminiscent of the Riesling).

Palate: This wine has weight.  There is a very viscous, oily palate. Good notes of honeysuckle.  There is a hint of sweetness (1% residual sugar) here.  This Gewürztraminer is Riesling-like, but with much less of an acidic backbone (5.4 g/L TA).

Score: This wine is pretty.  While easy-drinking, there is a nice floral complexity to this.  This wine was also grown from the Morris and Gibson vineyards in the same year as the Riesling.  It’s nice to see how similar these two varieties can be when one strips away virtually all the other variables that could exist from one bottle to the next. This is a tasty 89er.

Food Pairing:

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The Gewürztraminer was paired with Kara’s Pasta Salad of Fusilli with Arugula, Goat Cheese, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes.

I’m a big fan of both of these wines from Villa Bellangelo.  The acid (more so from the Riesling) provides a versatility in food pairings. The sugar gives them both a pleasant sweetness, without making them overly goopy.  Try them with any food you like… I really don’t think you could go wrong with anything here.

This is #FLXWine to the fullest!

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What’s your favorite wine from the Finger Lakes?  Leave a comment, and let us know what you think.

Remember Los Alamos

July 14, 2014

Kara and I spent this past weekend in Buellton, California for the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference.

Needless to say, after three days of tasting all of the wine that Santa Barbara County has to offer, wine has been the last thing on my mind…

Then, I started making dinner…

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It all started when I marinated some salmon filets and broccolini with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

While preheating the grill, I looked in the fridge for something to drink.

I really wasn’t in the mood for beer.  I’m not a soda kind of guy. Water wasn’t gonna do the trick.

Almond milk?  Nah!

There was really only one thing in the fridge that was going to work…

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Bianchi 2012 Los Alamos Vineyard Pinot Grigio

At the end of the first Live Wine Blogging session at the Wine Bloggers Conference (which I’ll get into in more detail another day), there were a bunch of leftover bottles that were given to the participants.  Lucky for me, I got sent home with the Bianchi 2012 Los Alamos Vineyard Pinot Grigio…

Los Alamos…

I remember Los Alamos…

Santa Barbara County is broken up into two major AVA’s.  The Santa Ynez Valley to the south, and the Santa Maria Valley to the north.

On Friday night, as part of the Wine Bloggers Conference, participants got to explore different areas of Santa Barbara County. Of course, I’ll get a little deeper into this excursion on another day, but the short story is that my group got to visit Bien Nacido Vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley.

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The setting sun over Bien Nacido Vineyards.

Now…

While riding the bus north on the 101 from Buellton in the Santa Ynez Valley to Bien Nacido Vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley, we drove through Los Alamos… an up-and-coming wine-growing region within Santa Barbara County.  Much like Santa Maria, and the western end of Santa Ynez, there is a strong coastal influence to Los Alamos, making this a perfect place for beautiful cool-climate wines of distinction.

Now, let’s get into this wine in particular…

Color: Typical of most Pinot Grigios you’re bound to encounter, the Bianchi is rocking the straw yellow.

Nose: Pretty notes of honeysuckle with lime accents, all rounded out with a variety of river rocks.

Taste: Fresh.  This wine is fresh.  There’s a real good freshness to this.  There is a good petrol characteristic up front, surrounded by a saline solution of lemons, limes, and grapefruit pith.  Did I mention that this was fresh?

Score: Pinot Grigio typically gets a bad rap.  Most of the mass-produced grocery store swill comes across as watered-down Gatorade to me… which makes it great for a hot day, but doesn’t really bring anything else to the table.  The Bianchi, on the other hand, has a great balance of freshness (yeah, I said it) and complexity that promotes the true versatility of this wine.  Hot day? Light food?  Good friends and conversation?  This is the wine for you. 89+

Oh yeah…

Back to the salmon!

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The salmon, while a bit overcooked, brought the richness that you would expect from a fatty fish. The broccolini, while slightly scorched at the tips, was hecka tasty.

So…

The next time you’re in the mood for fresh and lively wine on a hot day, which is heads-and-shoulders above the typical housewife swill…

Remember Los Alamos.

Take it away, Pee-Wee…

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What’s your favorite domestic Pinot Grigio?  Leave a comment, and let us know.

Stay Rad Wine Blog TV Episode 135: A Blind Wine and Food Pairing

June 13, 2014

In this episode, Jeff pairs a blind wine with his lunch and dinner.

Food and Wine Pairing:

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The wine had some really nice acidity, accompanied by red and dark fruit notes. I paired it with a Grass-Fed Beef Sirloin topped with Onions, Mushrooms, and Garlic Sauteed in Stagecoach Vineyard Olive Oil and a bit of Danish Blue Cheese. The Salad is Romaine Hearts with a Simple Vinaigrette and Parmesan Cheese. The food and wine together provided an overall richness that would be lacking if they were consumed separately.

Wine Tasted:

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What I originally picked to be an 8 – 10 dollar Chilean Carmenere, turned out to be the 2012 Chateau Ste Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon from the Columbia Valley of Washington State.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What flavor profiles do you look for when pairing food and wine?  Leave a comment, and let us know.

Stay Rad Wine Blog TV Episode 131: Blanc to the Future

April 13, 2014

In this episode, Jeff tries a three vintage vertical of Sauvignon Blanc samples from Cornerstone Cellars

Wine Tasted:

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Cornerstone Cellars 2011, 2010, and 2009 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Food Pairing:

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King Crab Mac and Cheese. The acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc cut through the fattiness of the crab and the cheese. The salinity of the wine also highlighted the seafood. This food pairing does a great job of showcasing the richness of the Cornerstone Sauvignon Blanc.

Next Day Bonus Food Pairings:

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Shrimp Ceviche. This spicy and rich ceviche brought out some of the ripe fruit flavors in the wine.

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Super Burrito Al Pastor. The savory burrito highlighted the herbaceous notes in the Sauvignon Blanc. I would show you a picture of the burrito unwrapped, but that would make for a messy meal.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What’s the oldest Sauvignon Blanc you’ve had?  What are your thoughts on aging your white wines?  Leave us a comment, and let us know what you think.

Stay Rad Wine Blog TV Episode 129: The Boy who Cried Wolff

March 5, 2014

In this episode, Jeff tries a Zinfandel/Merlot blend made by his sister’s friend and her dad.

Spoiler Alert: It rules hard!

 

Wine Tasted:

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Wolff & Father 2010 Loup de Rouge

After the Facts:

To learn more about Wolff & Father Wines and All Spice Restaurant, click here.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What’s your favorite Zinfandel/Merlot blend?  Leave a comment, and let us know.

Stay Rad Wine Blog TV Episode 125: Taking My Time with Food and Wine

December 22, 2013

In this episode, Jeff takes his time in analyzing these two fine samples from Cornerstone Cellars. Get yourself a nice bottle of wine, and a big plate of food, before you watch this one… This one may take a while.

Wine Tasted:

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Cornerstone Cellars 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

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Cornerstone Cellars 2010 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

Food Pairing:

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The Big Roy featuring Roasted Garlic, Bacon, Pepper Jack, and Garlic Aioli with a side of Fries, House Ketchup, and Chipotle Ketchup from Cafe 152 Burger in Gilroy

Wine Samples provided by Cornerstone Cellars.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What’s your take on the Cabs of Napa Valley, Howell Mountain, and Cornerstone Cellars? Leave a comment, and let us know.

White Zinfandel. There’s a time and a place.

November 6, 2013

Sometimes…

I drink White Zinfandel.

Yeah…

I said it.

Considering that 10% of all wine sold in the United States is White Zinfandel, it’s hard for me to imagine that anybody reading this post right now has never had a taste of that sweet, pink, fermented grape juice.

Considering that you are the type of wine drinker that reads blogs, it would be hard for me to imagine that your personal wine cellar has anywhere close to a 10% composition of White Zinfandel.  In fact, I doubt that your collection has any White Zin at all.

Why would you?

It’s pink.  It’s sweet.  It’s one-dimensional.

Dare I say…

In my neck of the woods, you’d get your ass kicked for drinking that stuff.

So…

What the hell was I thinking when I brought home this?

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Sutter Home 2012 California White Zinfandel: The Original

Now…

I know that most of us say that we would not be caught dead with this sweet stuff in our houses, but you’ve gotta know that there is a time and a place for White Zin.

A while back, I went to a wedding in Phoenix, Arizona (and wrote about it here).  It was 95 degrees out, and I was wearing a warm-ass suit.

They were serving some White Zin at the bar, and I decided to go for it.

And…

It was exactly what I needed.

Cool.

Slightly sweet.

Versatile.

It was exactly what I needed at the time.

From that moment forward, I swore that I would never overlook any type of wine just because it’s not en vogue.

There is a time and a place for everything.

Now…

It’s been quite some time since my last White Zin experience, so I thought I’d try my hand at a food pairing with the original pink stuff… Sutter Home 2012 California White Zinfandel.

First, let’s give it a taste, and see what we’re working with…

Color: Pink.  I mean… seriously.  This is what you would expect White Zin to be.

Nose: The fruit is definitely present on the nose.  Big, juicy strawberries, with a bit of lemon/lime soda poured over the top.  There’s a surprisingly nice minerality here.

Taste: More of the same.  Sweet strawberry juice with lime citrus and some nice mineral notes.

Score: There’s nothing that exciting about a wine like this.  It’s neither an in-your-face mind-blower, nor is it a nuanced thought-provoker.  It just is what it is… A delicious, and refreshing, adult beverage.  Crack one open right after finishing some yard work, and you’ll be stoked.  It’s an easy 82 for me.  That’s right.  I said it.

Now…

On to the food!

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Cabbage and Carrot Slaw with a Spicy Peanut Dressing. The acid of the wine, elevates the peppery notes from the slaw.

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Hot and Sour Soba Noodle Soup with Peas and Gyoza. The wine provides a refreshingly fruity note to the sour and earthy edges of the soup.

Seriously, guys…

If it’s been a long time since your last White Zinfandel, you may want to give it another shot.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Stay Rad,

Jeff

Okay, guys… Here’s your homework assignment. Head on down to the grocery store with five bucks, pick up a White Zinfandel, and leave your tasting notes below.  We want to know your take on the pink stuff.

Stay Rad Wine Blog TV Episode 119: This wine is soooooo good..

September 15, 2013

Jeff takes a break from packing boxes for the big move to review this French sparkling wine…

Wine Tasted:

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Jaillance Cuvee de l’Abbaye Cremant de Bordeaux Brut

Stay Rad,

Jeff

What’s the last wine that moved you?  Leave a comment, and tell us about it.

Lovin’ That Sake

August 31, 2013

Yesterday was a great day.

Yesterday was pay day.

Yesterday, Kara and I got our Sushi on at CreAsian in Morgan Hill.

Normally, when we go out to sushi, I just get myself some beer or some hot sake.  You’ve seen me bring my own wine out to sushi here and here.

But…

Yesterday I was feeling luxurious!

At least… a little more luxurious than normal.

Peep this cold sake I ordered up…

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Yaegaki Filtered Sake

Like most sakes that you order up in the U.S., this rice wine was made in America.  Now, while some of us may be bummed to find that our sake isn’t Japanese, you should be happy to know that this particular sake was made by Kushibiki Reiko… The first female sake master in these United States.  This split of sake cost me eight bucks.

Color: Not much color at all.  Pretty clear.

Nose: The nose on this sake is more floral than anything else.  There’s tons of lavender here, but it is quite fruity.  Think dried apricot and a bit of plums.

Taste: This wine is very viscous and oily on the palate.  Again… it’s very fruity.  More of those plums, along with a bit of juicy fruit gum.  At its core, the sake is earthy and hearty, with just a touch of white flowers.

This is some good, crisp, lively, and exciting sake.

Now, let’s get to the food…

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Sashimi Salad

I’ve always been a fan of sashimi.  Just give me some raw slices of fish, and I’m good to go.

But…

Sometimes, I want to eat a little bit more than what is offered up on a traditional sashimi plate.

This is where the sashimi salad comes in!

This thing has just as much, if not more, tuna than the normal sashimi plate, plus a ton of lettuce, seaweed, and rice.  Add the fact that they give you a huge squeeze bottle of sriracha to go with it, and you’ve got a fantastic bowl of Japanese comfort food.

Man!

I was lovin’ that sashimi salad…

Almost as much as I was lovin’ that sake.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

When was the last time you had some sake?  Leave us a comment, and tell us about it.


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