Wine Discoveries

Wine Discoveries: White & Rosé Speed Tasting at Wine Bloggers Conference 2012

In addition to visiting three fabulous wineries at the 5th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, we had the opportunity to travel Oregon and around the world via wine glass.

One lively tasting opportunity was the Live Wine Blogging, think speed dating for discovering new favorite wines. This fast paced hour has wineries visiting tables and giving several minute presentations on the one wine they are pouring. Our table for the Whites & Rosés session had 9 wineries pour for us of the 29 pouring. Here were my favorites and where you can find them…

Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards Va de Vi

  • Variety: 89% Pinot Noir, 8% Chardonnay, 3% Muscat from Sonoma, California
  • Aroma: Apple and pear notes
  • Taste: Vanilla peach with hints of citrus
  • Price: $22
  • My thoughts: In Barcelona they say, “Va de Vi!”, “it’s about the wine!” This new sparkling wine from Gloria Ferrer, the first sparkling wine house in California’s Carneros region, celebrates their Spanish heritage. I really liked the mouth feel of this wine…small bubbles and velvety with a touch of sweetness. You can order it here.

Recuerdo Wines 2010 Torrontés 

  • Variety: 100% Torrontés from Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina
  • Aroma: Floral and citrus
  • Taste: Crisp honeysuckle and peach
  • Price: $15
  • My thoughts: New white grape discovery for me. As the team sampling said, “It’s the new Sauvignon Blanc.” Perfect as I’m a Sauvignon Blanc fan. This wine “captures the best of Argentina’s unique terroir.” Recuerdo Wines, which means ‘memory’ or ‘momento’ in Spanish, is an interesting partnership between Blackbird Vineyards in Napa Valley and The Vines of Mendoza in Argentina. You can order this wine and their Malbec here.

Benton-Lane 2011 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris

  • Variety: 100% Pinot Gris from Monroe, Oregon
  • Aroma: Honeysuckle and grapefruit
  • Taste: Crisp refreshing honeydew melon, peach and hints of lime
  • Price: $17
  • My thoughts: 2011 was one of the coolest growing seasons on record for Oregon but it produced perfect fruit for Benton-Lane’s Pinot Gris. They predominately make Pinot Noir, which is very nice, but I loved this Pinot Gris. Benton-Lane is family-owned, and since their first vintage in 1992, have produced estate grown fruit using sustainable farming practices. They have received more Top 100 Wines of the World than any other Oregon winery. You can order their wines here.

Next Live Wine Blogging, Reds!

Island Holiday in a Bottle: More Greek Wine Discoveries

Greek wine transports me back to my trips to Greece’s many beautiful spots from Athens to the Islands. I think that’s why I love them! So it’s very exciting to see Greek wine showing up in wine stores and restaurants more and more.

Planet Wine, my local wine shop in Alexandria, is putting a full Greek section together as Tim, the manager, is a big Greek wine fan. This Wine Wednesday tasting he shared seven wines…

  • Tselepos Amalia Brut
  • Tselepos Moschofilero 2011, $11: Dry white wine made from the Moschofilero grape, it has a white floral aroma and crisp taste.
  • Gavalas Santorini 2011
  • Tetramythos Roditis 2011, $11: This Roditis grape variety produces a full body white wine with green apple notes.
  • Tselepos Agiorgitiko 2011, $11: This is a nice simple red wine made from the Agiorgitiko grape.
  • Foundi Naoussaia, $15: Xinomavro is the grape variety making a wine similar to Pinot Noir. From Northwest Greece.
  • Aivalis Family Vineyards Nemea, $19: Also made with 100% Agiorgitiko, this wine was more complex with smokey,  herbal and strawberry notes.

It’s crazy the number of unique grape varieties found in Greece. It was neat to taste whites and reds together…all acidic in different levels and different bodies. I liked all the wines but here were the two standouts…

  • Variety: 95% Assyrtiko, 5% Aidani
  • Aroma: Citrus and pear
  • Taste: Crisp pear and lemon
  • Price: $16
  • My thoughts: I loved discovering Santorini wines when we visited the island. The grapes are grown in the unique cylindrical bushes close to the ground. The grapes for this wine come from a vineyard considered to be the oldest in Greece, it has never been affected by the Phylloxera disease, and the grapes are grown on original stock. Most Santorini Assyrtiko wines I’ve had are very minerally from the volcanic soil but this had more crisp acidity.

Tselepos Amalia Brut

  • Variety: 100% Moschofilero
  • Aroma: Honey and brioche
  • Taste: Crisp citrus and honey
  • Price: $24
  • My thoughts: This was my first time having a Greek sparkling wine. Very nice! It’s made in the traditional Champagne method.

I’ve made great Greek wine discoveries in the last month with more coming at the Wine Bloggers Conference in August brought by New Wines of Greece. They are a great resource for more information.

Order a glass or pick up a bottle and let me know what you think.


Wine Discoveries: Oregon at DC’s Annual Chef’s Best

At this year’s 22nd Annual Chef’s Best Dinner & Auction, always a fabulous event benefitting the wonderful Food & Friends organization, I was delighted to find a wine tasting table among the 55 DC area best chefs’ tables!

B&L Brands was on hand to sample 13 of their wines. Unfortunately I discovered them when they were down to only two, but both were very nice wines from Oregon.

Del Rio Vineyards 2011 Rose Jolee

  • Variety: Early Muscat & Riesling blend, with a splash of red blend for color
  • Aroma: Tropical fruit and rose
  • Taste: Sparkling strawberry and grapefruit
  • My thoughts: This wine comes from one of the largest vineyards in Southern Oregon. Along the Rouge River, this family run business first planted in 1997 and now has over 200,000 vines. The wine was a lovely strawberry dance on the palate.

Mile Marker Mile 71 Pinot Gris

  • Variety: Pinot Gris
  • Aroma: Citrus, pear and honey
  • Taste: Honey, citrus and almond
  • My thoughts: This wine tasted like an Italian pignole cookie! Yum! This is B&L Brands wine launched last year with Mile Marker Wine Co. Named after the mile markers you find along your journeys, this is about their wine journey. For this wine, they followed US 99 and at Mile Marker 71 is McMinnville, Oregon, a fantastic place for Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.

Cheers to Oregon wine discoveries benefitting a great cause!


About the 22nd Annual Chef’s Best Dinner & Auction

On Tuesday, June 26, 55 of the DC area’s best chefs dished up special tastings of their culinary creations at the Washington Hilton for the 22nd Annual Chef’s Best Dinner & Auction presented by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Foundation. The event raised $850,000 for Food & Friends, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. Proceeds from Chef’s Best will ensure the delivery of 1.2 million nutritious, home-delivered meals to Food & Friends’ more than 2,800 clients living with cancer, HIV/AIDS and other live challenging illnesses.

Fancy Food Show Wine Discoveries: Italy

The last wine discovery from this year’s Fancy Food Show in DC was an Italian gem in Puglia, Tenute Girolamo. They were the perfect find as I was hosting #Winechat the following evening on Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot and one of my favorite wine regions.

Tenute Girolamo is located in the Valle d’Itria between the villages of Martina Franca, Locorotondo, Cisternino and near Alberobello. The Girolamo family has 50 acres cultivated at high density (12.300 vines per acre) which give more than 600,000 bottles of wine per year. They make four IGT (typical geographic indication Italian wine classification) wines…Pétroma, Pétrakos, Iérai Pétrai and Capo di Gallo.

I met Inge Host with AZAA representing them at the show and tasted 3 lovely wines from the Capo di Gallo label. Unfortunately they are not yet distributed in the U.S. but can be found in Europe.

Their website describes Capo di Gallo as “a precious wine which has the excellent qualities of the Puglia wines you can purchase for a good price. Capo di Gallo is done with a selection of Primitivo’s grapes together with other vines of our vine land, but the peculiar taste is given by the 6 months spent in barrels. This wine is deep red colored and the flavor is sweet and complex which perfectly matches the fruit aftertaste.”

The wines we tasted…

  • Tenute Girolamo Capo di Gallo Fiano: Fiano is a classic white found in the region. The wine is straw yellow in color with an herbal & floral nose plus honey on the palate.
  • Tenute Girolamo Capo di Gallo Negroamaro: Negroamaro is one of the two classic red grapes from the region. This wine is full of cherry, leather and pepper.

and my favorite…

Tenute Girolamo Capo di Gallo Primitivo

  • Grape Variety: Primitivo
  • Aroma: Sweet berry and tobacco
  • Taste: Medium bodied soft fruity berry jam flavors with nice spice and tobacco notes
  • Thoughts: Primitivo is the native king of Puglia grapes. This wine, like most, is an intense violet color. It’s a great example of a Primitivo wine!

For more on Puglia wines, visit my #Winechat recap. And here’s a photo from Tenute Girolamo’s website that truly captures the beautiful Valle d’Itria wine country.

Saluté to Italian wine discoveries thanks to the Fancy Food Show!


Fancy Food Show Wine Discoveries: Italy

I made some great wine discoveries from Greece and Italy at the DC Fancy Food Show. The first Italian discovery was Tenuta i Fauri from the Abruzzo region.

This winery is in the Chieti province in Abruzzo’s center. Their thirty-five hectares of vineyards sit among hills that drop to the sea. Photos on their site are gorgeous and their wines were very tasty!

Valentina Di Camillo, her family’s winery started by her father Domenico Di Camillo, was tasting in the Italia section of the show. They have 12 wines in their portfolio, available in Europe and in the U.S. (CA, MA and new to NY).

Our tasting included the following 4 wines, all made with the region’s signature grape…

  • Alba Rosa, Rosato IGT Colline Teatine: This rosé is a blend of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes creating a lovely wine with black currant and strawberry.
  • Ottobre Rosso, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC: The lightest body of the reds had nice caramel and cherry notes. After 8-10 days maceration, the wine then spends 12 months in stainless steel tanks.
  • Santa Cecilia 2009, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC: This wine is 85% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and 15% Sangiovese creating a more elegant wine with cherry, vanilla and cocoa hints.

and my favorite was their…

Rosso dei Fauri 2007, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC

    • Grape Variety: 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
    • Aroma: Violet and cherry
    • Taste: BIG cherry, violet, licorice & dark chocolate notes
    • Thoughts: This is a lovely BIG wine! 2007 was a very bright and sunny season. You can taste it in the bold cherry notes. It was also very interesting the way the body of each red wine and the intensity of flavor increased from the Ottobre Ross (12 months in stainless) to the Rosso die Fauri (aged 36 months before bottling).

Saluté to new Italian wine discoveries!