Too Much Wine Too Little Time

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Winding Down Summer

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With another summer sliding to a close I sit here thinking about the coming months. I have much to be excited about. Labor Day weekend is just around the corner and we always have a big picnic for family and friends, this year’s event will be extra special with my niece from Wisconsin visiting. Labor Day weekend here in North America also ushers in the start of September and the beginning of autumn; our Fall Season, which starts on September 21st. If you keep up with our writings, you know that next to summer, fall is my favorite time of year.  I love the weather, cool crisp air, the smells, colors and just being able to sit outside by my fireplace and enjoy it without all the heat and humidity. This is a time when as the chores of summer end, I can relax and reflect back over the past year thinking about all that has transpired. And this year has been a good one starting with a visit to Napa Valley back in March along with some great friends. We then travelled out to Wisconsin in May for the graduation of my nephew from high school, and my niece from college, along with my oldest son and his wife. What a great time both trips were! Then there was the time I spent with my granddaughter who was just a year old in June, watching her grow and change with each passing week. Yes, I would say it has been a great year, and it is not yet over. The excitement is building for another visit we have planned to Napa Valley in October. Our first visit to the valley in the fall, with the 2010 harvest winding down along with the crowds, and I can’t wait.  Yes, I am looking forward to the fall as I always do. This season should leave me with some great memories to carry through those long winter months until spring begins anew.     Fall 01

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ZD Wines to Host Wine-Pairing Cooking Series

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Watch a demonstration of seasonal dishes being prepared in the demonstration kitchen and sample them paired with ZD wines every Sunday beginning September 12, and running through October 31, 2010.  The event is hosted from 9:30am – 11:00am and incorporates eggs gathered from the chickens that roam the vineyard and produce grown from their winery gardens.  Enjoy food, wine; meet the chef, take a tour of the facility, and surrounding vineyards all for $60 per person.  Call 800-487-7757 for more information.

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Robert Mondavi 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Release Party

Book your reservation now for the Robert Mondavi 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Release Party!  Join the winery on Saturday, September  18, 2010 at the Robert Mondavi Winery Vineyard Room, West Patio from 3-5 pm.  Enjoy winery exclusive as well as older vintage Cabenert Reserve paired with the current release.  Food will be prepared by winery chef, Jeff Mosher.  The event also offers live music and fantastic discounts!  Call 1-888- RMONDAVI (888-766-6328); opt 2 for reservations or visit robertmondavi.com

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V. Sattui iphone App First in Napa Valley

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V. Sattui winery recently announced the launch of a free dedicated mobile phone application (app) compatible with Apple’s iPhone. The app has push technology, and once loaded the user can opt-in to receive notifications from the winery. Users can watch videos, get great offers and be the first to know about the wineries upcoming events. A future app will allow users to purchase wine and event tickets. For a limited time to promote the introduction V.Sattui Winery will be offering a complimentary tasting to customers who can prove they have downloaded the app.

For more information visit their website at: www.vsattui.com

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Grand Harvest International Wine and Food Festival

Come join New Jersey’s Alba Vineyards, PNC Bank, Safeco Insurance and Gary’s Wine and Marketplace as they sponsor the third annual benefit for Norewescap and the ARC. Guests will be served wine samples from the very best vineyards and wineries around the world. Along with activities for the whole family including the wine tastings, great food, vendors, tethered hot air balloon rides, horse drawn carriage rides through the vineyards and children’s activities. Live music will be ongoing all day. Tickets are $25 at the gate which includes an etched wine glass and $20 in advance.

Dates: Saturday September 25th and Sunday the 26th 2010

Time: Noon to 5pm

For tickets and sponsor information, please call NORWESCAP at 908-454-7000 X 110 or The ARC at 908-689-7525 X212.  (Tickets are not yet available at Alba Vineyard.)

For more information and directions visit: http://www.albavineyard.com/calendar.php

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Envy 2007 Calistoga Estate Merlot

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As club members of Envy wines, we took a bottle of the 2007 Envy Napa Valley Merlot to dinner this evening at a local Italian restaurant.  This was our first sample of the 07 Merlot which we found to be full of fruit on the first sip, but quickly followed by chocolate notes with barely noticeable tannins.  The wine was smooth, yet still able to stand up and not become lost among the bold flavors of the pancetta and tomato in the homemade pasta dishes we dined on.  Envy wines have produced nothing but quality since I have first tasted them at the recommendation of a dear friend in the valley, Lin, from Venge Wines.  Kirk Venge produces Venge Vineyard wines where we first met Lin, but Envy is another one of his father, Nils Venge’s many wine projects.   Envy is the mastermind project of Mark Carter and Nils Venge.  As a side note, Nils also owns and produces Saddleback Cellars wines…another nice place to visit with very good wines.  Envy produces some white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, but as a red wine fan, I am most interested in their reds.  They produce a wonderful blend called Beebee’s blend, described as sexy, full bodied, and elegant meant to be enjoyed for 15+ years as reviewed by Robert Parker who considered it a top value in 2009.  A 2007 Cabernet currently being offered that Envy touts to be one of their best to date… another must try.  In addition to the Merlot we enjoyed this evening there is also a Petite Sirah that is as big and bold as the mountain the fruit was grown on, almost ink like in color with flavor to match.  As for Envy tasting room, it offers a very home like appeal that allows you to enjoy all of the wines in a relaxed environment where you can truly appreciate the wines for what they are.

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The Wine Festival at the Plains

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Enjoy World-Class Polo and 275 award winning wines for tasting in one spectacular weekend September 11th-12th 2010, at the Great Meadow Event Center as Virginia hosts The Wine Festival at the Plains. With fancy food, fine arts and culinary seminars, along with many of Virginia’s best award winning wines. This two day event with two Polo matches each day is one you will not want to miss. Polo matches will be held from 1:00pm to 600:pm each day. For ticket information, a list of wineries attending and event schedules be sure to visit http://www.winefestivalattheplains.com/harvest.html

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Date: September 11th-12th

Time: 11:00am-6:00pm each day

Price: $35 online $40 at the gate for a tasting ticket, $20 online $25 at the gate non-taster.

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Rosenblum 2006 Contra Costa County Carla’s Reserve Zinfandel

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Tonight we are enjoying a Rosenblum Cellars, Contra Costa County, Carla’s Reserve Zinfandel.  The wine we are drinking is the 2006 vintage; however, the 2007 is the most current release being offered.  As a side note, the 2007 wines; Zinfandel in particular are drinking very well.  As a Zinfandel fan, I am not sure why I normally shy away from their wines when Rosenblum self describes as a winery dedicated to the production of Zinfandel and Rhone varietals.  I also have never disliked any Rosenblum wine; I just think there are too many choices that I become a bit overwhelmed when trying to select.  According to their website Rosenblum produces over 50 wines annually to select from so you can see where one may not know where to start.  With the kudos being given to the latest vintage of Zinfandels, I felt now was the time to begin exploring some of Rosenblums extensive offerings.  I must say Carla’s Reserve is a nice place to start, I know you are probably thinking sure, start with a reserve, but heck, you have to start somewhere.  The vines used to produce this intense wine are over 100 years old and consistently produce fruit of exceptional quality, which is then blended with only a small amount of fruit sourced from other vineyards. At first look there is deep, dark, intense color, so rich that you have to look hard to find hints of ruby when holding the wine to the light.   A first swirl of the wine gives off ripe black cherry notes, followed by olive and spice notes.  With lots of spicy pepper on the taste the wine will stand up to any of your boldest dishes and will pair nicely right alongside of your favorite pizza as well.  Rosenblum describes this wine as one of their most exotic Zinfandel offerings, although I have not tried too many yet, I have to agree this wine is extremely tasty.  Under $25, this Zin is a must try if you are looking for a big, bold, spicy, Zinfandel.  Be sure to check back for additional Rosenblum wine reviews.

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Columbia Crest Grand Estates 2007 Cabernet

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As a self professed wine snob that really likes a good red wine, I have to step back once in a while, especially in these economic times and remind myself that all expensive wine is not necessarily good.  Nor are the inexpensive wines necessarily bad.  Yes, there are levels of complexity, smoother finishes and so on.  Thus, the reason for the rating system that some rely so heavily on, but we all know special wines should be reserved for special occasions and drinking 90 point wines every night just doesn’t make sense.  Therefore, back to my roots and my never ending quest to find the best value for your dollar wines.  It seems as though the 2007 wines are coming out with a bang and one in particular recently caught my eye…The Columbia Crest Grand Estates 2007 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This Washington grown wine received 89 points and was noted in the Savvy Shopper-Spectator Selections Best Value wines.  Blended from 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the remaining 5% comprised of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah and total alcohol at 13.6%, this vintage is described as supple and surprisingly complex. Notes of cherry, cassis and chocolate along with some spice round out this medium bodied, yet complex wine, all for under $15…yes, that is certainly a best value for your dollar price.  Try it for yourself today and be sure to check out all of Columbia Crest wine offerings at columbiacrest.com.

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Elyse 2007 Zinfandel A.K.A Napa Valley

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As I sit here on an early Sunday evening the rain is stopping and I have finished making my famous red sauce or gravy as some call it, with meatballs and braciola. Of course the famous part is all in my own mind. I decided we would need a good red wine to drink, one that can stand up to the heavy richness of the sauce. Normally I would pick out a bold Cabernet, tonight however, I chose a Zinfandel. Zinfandel is quite strong and usually carries a nice peppery finish that stands up to most foods; including my red sauce.  At the recommendation of a friend I recently tried Elyse Zinfandel A.K.A Napa Valley.  Wow…did I tell you I love my friend?  This wine is awesome!!  I think of earthy berry notes along with layers of spice and pepper that all meld perfectly together in this 2007 Zinfandel. The wine is graceful while packing its punch of flavor, a blend of 86% Zinfandel and 14% Petite Sirah.  It is also offers an aging life of 5-8 years in the cellar and as the Elyse Winery website tasting notes say, it is meant to be paired with rich, hearty dishes; like my sauce!   Pick up a bottle today, just under the $30 price point; it is well worth every dollar.  Also, check out the rest of the Elyse wine offerings at elysewinery.com.  I can’t wait to sample some of Elyse wines and definitely plan to visit the winery on my next trip to the valley in October.