Sunday, August 8, 2010

No bugs or grapes were poisoned in the making of this wine....

ZD Wines

8383 Silverado Trail
Napa, CA 94558
"Zero Defects"   
 I would have to agree, ZD wines have been California Certified Organic since 1999.
The chickens are "Pest Control" and "Fertilizer's"

ZD started out making Pinot Noir, and still does since 1969. The 2008 is exceptional with its medium ruby color and flavors of black cherry. Pinot Noir is my favorite summertime red wine. With a slight chill, it can be very refreshing, and is a great first step into red wine if  you happen to be a beginner to drinking wine.

You probably know about the ZD Chardonnay. Using 0% Malolactic doesn't take away any of the creamy full bodied flavor. It is barrel aged in American oak for 10 months and cold barrel fermented extending the yeast contact. In my opinion yeast contact makes for extra full flavor. Personally I am a fan of  Malolactic which is what give certain Chardonnays that popcorn butter flavor, yum. So I was pleasantly surprised by the 2008 40th Anniversary  Chardonnay having so much flavor and body.

Being a huge fan of red wine, I was most excited about the Cabernet. 2007 Cabernet, Napa Valley to be exact. I had tried this wine at an event and fell in love! I had no idea at the time that ZD made anything other than Chardonnay...silly me. This Cabernet has everything I love in a red wine. It is powerful, dark, dense and not in the same way your significant other might be a considered dense.  This wine is very complex and beautiful!  Sounds like an Internet dating profile...And yes I would date this wine!

Of course if you are looking for a date, I mean wine that is both mature complex and still full of the energy of a fruit forward young wine, try Abacus. Named after the ancient counting device. The final blend of the first bottling in 1999 includes vintages from 1992 -1998 of the reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. 15% of this wine was bottled and the other 85% was returned to a barrel where it waited to be blended again with the next round of young grapes. So the Abacus is always evolving  with added vintages and ever growning complexity. Today this wine is tended to by CEO Robert deLeuze and Winemaker Chris Pisani.

If you happen to be in the Napa Valley and are planning your wine adventures make sure to give Curtis Hecker, the tasting room manager at ZD a call to schedule a Cellar tour. Curtis loves his job and you can tell by the way he talks about the wine and the process  it goes through before becoming available for you to buy. Of course I am not sure how anyone could NOT enjoy a job with such a great view and where drinking wine is required...

I have to say drinking out of the barrel is the only way to go! Of course this will require a much larger wine fridge...or maybe I just need a cave.

Thank you Curtis for all your help!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Wine Tour 2010....just the beginning!

My Trip in pictures.
First Stop, Robert Hall in Paso Robles-
A new discovery was made here. A vintage Port, very tasty! Also a 2007 Rhone de Robles awesome! Thanks!
My friends at J Lohr! Thank you Diane for the glasses and you were right we did break one....And Jeannette was a wonderful hostess, thanks for the great pours.
The POM and the PAU Cuvee Awesome! This winery could become a habit.
You know the story here. Thanks again Jane!

Steven Kent Winery in Livermore Valley

Great Chardonnay, if you like the old school kind. 50% Malolactic Fermentation and oak aging gives it the creamy buttery flavors I have learned to love! And don't forget the 100% Petite Verdot big flavorful red. Then there was the Cheese....Beecher's Flagship- Washington- Cows milk. A semi hard cheese with a robust nutty flavor and a slight crumble. SO GOOD!
Thank you Patti for all your help!

If you happen to stop by and visit any of my friends tell them The Wino Sent you, Cheers!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bitter Sweet...The discovery and the mission.

It is that time of year again, wine road trip! I have learned a lot since last years trip to the California wine country and this trip is shaping up to be the best to date. There is just one problem so far....
Last year I discovered a white wine that made me say "OH MY GOD!" yes, a WHITE wine... It was Concannon's Viognier, (Vee-Own-Yay) it was full bodied high in alcohol, it had honey suckle and peaches on the nose and totally made me think of drinking the juice from a can of peaches except without the sugar shock...SO good! My guy and I bought a bottle last trip... That was our mistake, ONE bottle! Ever since that one bottle I have been on a mission to find another Viognier that stands up to Concannon. No such luck.

Regions for Viognier: France- Northern Rhone- Condrieu
Southern Rhone- Cotes Du Rone, Costieres de Nimes
Washington State -Yakima and Columbia Valley
California- Santa Barbara and Monterey

This year our wine road trip has started up in the Paso Robles area and the Livermore Valley (home to Concannon). I have cash and I am ready to buy a case of that heavenly white wine! I know I can't believe I am going crazy for white....

Yesterday was the day and I was so excited when Jane in the Concannon tasting room poured me a taste of the Viognier....WHAT THE *&%$!*#! HAPPENED!? This was not the wine I remember! It was good....but tasted more like a Chardonnay/ Sauvignon Blanc was light and refreshing with a "hint" of honey suckle and peach....more like you took a white table wine and put a frozen peach slice in it...BOOOOO! 

I still love Concannon and highly recommend  the Cabernet and the Captain Joe's 2006 Petite Sirah, Awesome reds! Also Concannon has updated their tasting room and has a beautiful building. Ask for Jane, She has worked there for 15 years and is knowledgeable, helpful and very nice. There was no Viognier purchase this year...

The mission continues for a Viognier that will make me want to pray...

The Elephant....

OK there is no Elephant. I know I have been missing in blogging action....some of you may have noticed and perhaps given up on me. Please give me another chance! I am not sure why I disappeared...I have been trying to get a baking business going, and that has been interesting and time consuming. Also I have been focusing on working out...that could change when it is too hot to move around. Also I have a new baby! Well she isn't so new any more and not such a baby at 18 months. This is Brandy.
So stinkin cute right!?

Enough of that, I will try to be here more often in the future...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chanpagne its not just for breakfast!

There are two important things to know about Champagne.

One, Champagne is wine with bubbles. So it should be drank with lunch and dinner as equally as breakfast! Champagne and Sparkling wine is a great match for fried salty foods. French Fries any one?

Two is that to be called Champagne it must be made in France from french grapes grown in the Champagne region.The main grapes used in Champagne are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, only one of which is a white grape. All other wine with bubbles is Sparking wine. I find it a bit annoying that there are some American wine makers that are calling their sparkling wine, Champagne. Kinda rude?

If you are in Spain Sparkling wine is called Cava mostly from Penedes, near Barcelona. The main Spanish grapes used are Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada. All white grapes. The spanish are not afraid to experiment and are sometimes using Chardonay grapes in the blend.

In California it is Sparkling wine or "Methode Champenoise".

Some helpful information if you are shopping for a sparkling wine is to know how to tell what is sweet and what is dry.

Extra Brut is the driest with only 1% residual sugar
Brut has up up 2% residual sugar and is the most popular style in the world.
Extra Dry (Extra Sec) is the most popular in the US at 1.5% -2.5% residual sugar
Sec 2-4% residual sugar
Demi Sec 4-6% residual sugar
Doux 6 plus %residual sugar

Now for some Champagne trivia for you next party!

There are approximately 1150 grapes used per bottle

The wire cage holding the cork in the bottle is turned 6 1/2 times

And the reason for not pointing the bottle at the people you like while opening is....the cork is expelled out of the bottle at 40 MPH! Duck and cover!

What is your favorite bubbly?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Random Wine Wisdom

I have learned some things lately that might be common knowledge to Wine Geeks and experts, but to those just starting out on the wine journey I will share my new knowledge. Wine Geeks, let me know if I get any of this wrong.

First of all French wine labels are SO confusing! I suppose if I actually went there and drank lots of wine, learned the language, ate lots of cheese and pastries....and then had to go on a diet to lose the 300 pounds I gained in the process the labels would make more sense. Instead, I am just going to have to study harder and drink more wine....darn!

It is two weeks later and I have decided it isn't just French wine labels that are confusing. It is pretty much all the wine labels that are in a foreign language. Oh and if you really want to decider the code that is all the wine labeling laws...drink more wine, maybe eventually it will all make sense or you just won't care!

The most important thing to do if you decide to get into wine, is plan ahead and pay attention in Geography class! If you know where every village in France and Italy are, you will learn this stuff way faster.

Here is one for you new wine people, Bordeaux, is not a wine grape. You know how us Americans say I would like a glass of Cabernet or maybe Merlot...(I will NOT drink any Fucking Merlot! ). Yes I will...I digress. Those would be red wine grapes, well Bordeaux is a region in France where they grow Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec for reds and the whites are Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. So when you order a "Bordeaux" it is really just a blend of two or more of those grapes.

Say you are a serving someone a red wine and it says it is a Meritage. First off it is pronounced to rhyme with Heritage, this word is a combination of the two words Merit and Heritage. Also meaning it is a blend of two or more wine grapes. So as you are serving this Meritage and think you have this wine thing under control now, some wine snob says " well what is the blend?" You tell them...Cabernet, Merlot and a touch of Cabernet Franc. Now you are very proud that you remembered to read the smaller label on the bottle ( that is actually the front label...whole other issue) , when the wine snob kinda snorts (at least it seems that way) and says "OH! Its a Bordeaux style blend." DUH! Yeah, true story....

Now I get it, any blend of any of the grapes grown in the Bordeaux region is a Bordeaux style blend. Now you can be the wine snob at your next dinner party, and say " We will be serving a Bordeaux Style wine to go with our Mac and Cheese..." HE HE HE!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"There is truth in wine, though it may take a little time"

Vinification by definition: Attaining quality and style in the fermentation of the grapes and aging of the wine.

Viticulture by definition: Attaining fruit quality through agricultural decisions.

You guessed it there are more decisions to be made once the grapes are grown and the vermin have been avoided!

It is Harvest time! Yay, you say!


When do you harvest? Summer of course...but do you pick in the morning, afternoon or at night? And you thought this was going to be an easy question! The easy, short answer is when ever it is the coolest out side, so that the grapes are still firm and less fragile.

Next how do you harvest? By hand or machine? both have their benefits, it usually comes down to a matter of money.

Once the grapes are harvested and safely in the winery it is time for the crushing. More decisions, do you de-stem or leave the stems in tact? Do you crush the grapes by machine or by foot, of course assuming your feet are clean. while machines normally promise they have clean feet, they also may end up crushing the seeds, adding a hint of bitter to the wine. Foot treading grapes is still practiced mainly in Portugal and mainly for high dollar ports. Apparently it is expensive to get people to stomp your grapes.

If a white wine is whole cluster pressed, this is where they press it stems and all. Somehow this causes the wine to be less bitter. Now a little known fact for those who are not wine geeks, all grape juice starts out clear. The color of a wine comes from the skins. If it is a white wine you are making the skins are removed before fermentation. For red the skins are left on, the longer the skins are left on the darker the color, higher the tannins and the more intense the flavors become.

Adjusting the must, is a must, or at least check the must. The Must is the unfermented juice of grapes extracted by pressing before it is fermented. Checking the must is to find out if the sugar levels are where they should be. There are a lot of complicated steps from here having to do with fermentation, first getting the yeast and sugar together so they can become alcohol. Off to the presses! There is a coating of yeast on the skins of the grapes and when they are crushed or split this causes the sugar from the juice to blend with the yeast and so begins fermentation. Now if we are making white wine, the skins are removed before fermentation begins. If it is to be red wine we leave the skins in during fermentation. The longer the skins are left in the mix the darker the color.

At this point we almost have wine! Just a few months to a few years away....lets take a break and grab a glass of wine. With all this wine talk I am feeling parched.

The wino's question to you is, was your wine of choice fermented with the skins on? or Off?

In wine there is truth

Viticulture is the process of obtaining fruit quality through agricultural decisions. The main goal of viticulture is to produce grapes with characteristics deemed desirable to produce a wine at a price which the wine can be sold for a profit. This is no simple task, there are so many decisions that go into growing producing and bottling wine...that it seems almost overwhelming. Every decision from choosing a site for growing grapes, the soil they grow in all the way to the process of aging will effect the quality, style and price of the wine.

Once all these decisions are made the entire process could take up to five years before the wine makers know for sure if all the decisions were good ones. This is not like cooking where you can taste the product along the way. Tasting the dirt probably won't tell you much.

Without overwhelming you with all the gorey detains of Viticulture, there was a detail that I learned about that I found very interesting. Almost all of the worlds grapes grapes are grafted and planted on American Rootstock. A rootstock is a just the stump, which already has an established, healthy root system. Due to a little bug called Phylloxera, that loves grape vine roots. This bug originally is from the eastern United States, and our grape roots are immune to this bug, making it the perfect root stock.

Of course the bad news is we wouldn't need to do this if the Americans had not shared our little Phylloxera bug with the Europeans in the late 1800's....thereby destroying the wine industry around the world. Them little bugs travel fast and were really hungry. All is good now, but maybe don't mention it when visiting France...this could explain why they are not that fond of us.

"Life is like wine, the longer you take to enjoy it the more chance you've got of tasting vinegar.”