Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What to drink in cowboy boots.....

Hi Y'all!

I just returned from a week in Jackson Hole Wyoming for my best gal's wedding, and BOY, can I tell you- these Westerners sure know their wines! Granted, the beer and whiskey is what keeps the cowboys running to the saloon after a hard day of riding on the ranch, but for me, it was some great wines while kicking back in the hot tub, or watching the sunset behind the Teton Mountain Range in the late evening.

Now, I presumed that 85 degree weather was going to call for ice- cold beer and the occasional Sauvignon Blanc, but when I found out that 90% of the local cuisine was big game, it was time to bring on some equally big reds. I knew from the moment I hopped in the taxi, and our driver boasted of his recent hunting bounty (bear), which he promptly made into jerky (he claimed it's too tough to chew otherwise)- who knew?, that I had to find a wine shop- and fast!!!

Thank goodness Jackson is a "gentleman's ranch town"- complete with $5 and $10million vacation homes, and therefore some REALLY great wine shops. The guys at Dornan's were more than happy to oblige my obscure requests for chillable but hearty reds. Here's what I ended up with:

Remember for reds that can take a little chill try Cabernet Franc, Gamay/ Beaujolais/ and some lighter/ less woody Pinot Noirs

Charles Joguet Chinon Cuvee Terroir ($23)
Domaine de Vissoux Moulin Au Vent- ($29)
Permutations Pinot Noir (yes I'm STILL TOTALLY HOOKED ON THIS AUSSIE PINOT- BACK OFF!!!- $15)
Matua Pinot Noir- ($12)
Roc du Chateauvieux Pinot Noir - ($13)
even this malbec- Calzo ($10) worked with some chill time!

And I have to say- the HIT of the week was this awesome wine that is impossible to find (Thank you Steven from Jess Jackson Wine Estates for tracking it down for me!)......If you find it, you have to BUY IT and send me some!!!!

Byron IO Ryan Road Syrah OR their Rhone Blend of Sryah and Grenache-@ $70- omg!- Really OVER the top. Before I headed to Jackson, my dear friend Danielle Botros of Majestic Wines brought a bottle to a "Rhone Ranger" Tasting I was hosting, and it BLEW my doors off. Inky-black in color, with Moroccan spices, cloves and blackberry jam. Just to die for. I had it in Jackson at my friend's reception, and I paired it with Elk Sausage in a black currant and pepper reduction. Nothing better- really. Buy it!

Monday, July 13, 2009

A case of the Mondays

Hi Everyone,

I truly hate the expression "Someone's got a case of the Mondays", but sadly, I'm there. So what's the wine for a melancholy day? For me it's gotta be something heartwarming, endearing even, that reminisces one of home-cooking, that favorite old boyfriend's sweatshirt from college, or the cozy shawl grandma knit for me. How does this at all relate to wine- BELIEVE me, it DOES! I need that wine that enraptures your senses, bringing on a sense of "Om" or serious calm that I only get in certain asanas in my Bikram yoga class. A wine that screams, "I'm giving you a TOTAL do-over for your day, and tomorrow will be the best day ever." Tall order, yes, but here's some wines up for the challenge.

Wines that give me the warm and fuzzies tend to be similarly textured, coating my palate in soft, chewy tannins. My go-to for this style is Amarone look- alikes, such as Valpolicella Ripasso (I'm digging Zenato these days), or Southern Rhones, ie Cotes du Rhone Villages or Cotes du Ventoux (try Pesquie Terrasses) and the occasional northern Rhone- Crozes Hermitage(Remizieres rocks). Sometimes- (don't laugh my wine geeky friends), I even like a plush, fruity, soft California Zinfandel that doesn't require a masters degree to figure out- just pure enjoyment without any headgames. I LOVE Green Meadow for $16; the big body and lush texture with a jammy fruitiness makes me wanna run for the couch.

So, tonight it's me, a bottle of Crozes, and some cookie dough- yes Haute Cuisine at it's finest.....But DAMN good and awfully comfy......

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Going SUPER Green....

Hello fellow “Greenies”-
Biodynamic is all the rage- and for GREAT reason. It’s good for us and good for the planet. Plus, it’s mighty tasty. The Europeans have been practicing Organic/ Sustainable farming for centuries. For them, it’s simply how you make wine. Know Domaine de la Romanee Conti? Zind Humbrecht? Pingus? Yup- they are ALL Biodynamic! Why? Biodynamic farming simply allows great terroirs (soil sites) to sing to the best of their abilities. Americans have caught the bug, due to a large European influence in California winemaking over the past 15-20 years. The thought of having no usable vineyards left in 20 years gave the winery owners pause. So that being said, some of the top growers, ESPECIALLY Cult Wineries like: Araujo, Quintessa, Joseph Phelps, Robert Sinskey, Grgich Hills, are spreading the word and producing earth- conscious wines.
Biodynamics is sometimes called the “Rolls Royce” of organic farming. It is VERY expensive to do, and extremely difficult to become certified. It is a holistic approach to farming, which looks at the entire property, including people and animals living and working there, as one ecosystem. By biodynamic regulations, 1/3 of the property must be dedicated to some other type of crop, be it wildflowers, cotton, avocados, raising sheep- anything but grapes. In this way, the land doesn’t get “used up”.
I traveled to Willamette Valley, Oregon last year and spent several days learning about this farming practice. I tasted wines blind, spent hours in the vineyards doing soil studies, and attended lectures conducted by Oregon and California's top growers- all advocates for sustainable farming. Tony Soter, of Etude and Soter vineyards, is leading the charge, urging enighboring wineries to follow suit. What I learned and saw was astonishing. Can you believe some of their tractors run on biodiesel, and if any fuel leaks into the soil they lose their certification? Talk about strict! Roses grew at the end of each row, used as a barometer for possible pest infestations (roses are SUPER-sensitive to the same pests as grapes, and therefore let vineyard managers know there's a problem before the vines get effected). It was bizarre to see a random tree or shrub stuck in the middle of a dizzying row of vines. Apparently, according to biodynamic laws, they are not allowed to disturb any living thing on the property from its habitat, and therefore have to work around these obstacles rather than remove them. Pretty cool, I think!

The people working there must have access to medical insurance, and this includes day laborers employed for harvest time. Natural pest control, including bat houses, owl houses, and the occasional Golden Retriever are all employed to avoid the use of pesticides. Soil mineral balance is carefully maintained by planting cover crops and plowing them under to control weeds. What does all this mean for you? Great wine that’s great for your cellar and the planet. Everyone wins!

AND, at this One-Week Only 25% Off Sale Price, you can KEEP some green!!!

At Stew's Wine Shop in Norwalk!!!

2005 Benziger Tribute
94 points Wine Enthusiast “Cellar Selection”
“Softly lush, complex in flavor, this Cabernet-based Bordeaux blend impresses with power and authority. Thoroughly dry and firm in tannins, it shows classic flavors of black currants and cedar, with intricate notes of cherries, violets, tobacco, mocha and beef jerky. Beautiful now, and should develop for a decade.”

Regular Price: $75

NOW: $56.25- Save 25%
2 and ½ cases available

2005 Quintessa
Amy’s Pick- “This is, for me, the most profound Quintessa I have tasted in my career. It has such opulence and elegance. Its seamless texture builds in intensity on the long finish, resulting in a lingering licorice and smoky blackberry palate that goes on and on. I truly love this wine, for both its approachability and tannic structure, ensuring it a decade of cellaring easily.”
“Top Cabernet” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Regular Price: $150

Now $112.50- Save 25%
2 cases available

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

4th of July "Go-to" wines

It's me, a cooler, some soppressata, manchego, St. Andre, chips and guacamole, and of course- WINE this weekend- all headed out for some fun in the sun; a little boating, a little beach, a little dinnertime on the patio with friends....What more can a girl ask for? Hmmmm.....Something affordable, refreshing, and great with burgers, dogs, steaks AND lobster. Wow- tough bill to fill! Well...NOT REALLY! Some wines are so gosh darn versatile that they'll travel as spontaneously as you do! Try these on for size, and they won't disappoint this weekend....

  • REDS:
  • Montepulciano: check out Quattro Mani- soft, easy to drink and not heavy
  • Pinot Noir: My all time favorite red- great with tuna steaks and lobster too- try Permutations Pinot Noir from Australia- it's juicy and delicious!
  • Beaujolais- Throw a little chill on Beaujolais, and you're in great company! it is the perfect burger wine on a hot day.Period! Check out George Duboeuf Regnie
  • Cabernet Franc- yes, that's NOT a typo- there's a fabulous grape grown in the region of Chinon, Loire, France, California, and Chile that is simply FAB! The depth of texture in Cabernet Sauvignon without the weight, with lots of chewy fruit, and a hint of Moroccon spices! Try Charles Joguet Chinon Cuvee Terroir
  • Grenache- comes in all shapes and sizes, but I'm a fan of two totally different styles- one being the Ogier from Cotes du Rhone (soft and silky) and the Evodia (big and bold)- it just depends upon my mood, the temperature, and my food!


  • Chenin Blanc- I LOVE this grape! It's fruitier than Sauvignon Blanc, but without being cloying- it generally has a crisp finish- especially styles from the United States and South Africa- check out the Cape of Good Hope from S. Africa, and the Pine Ridge Chenin/ viognier from California
  • Riesling- I can't get enough of the stuff- especially once summer hits. This grape really stands up to just about anything you throw at it- Seriously! Try Wurtz Riesling for a BONE dry style, or St. Urbans Hof for a medium-dry beauty.
  • Verdejo- Huh? What's that? It's a cool Spanish white from the high altitude region of Rueda, where nothing grows but this awesomely crisp white. A great Sauvignon Blanc alternative- Analivia is my favorite under $10
  • Sauvignon Blanc- My old standby- really hard to screw this grape up unless, of course you add too much wood, and THAT's just gross......However, the un-oaked styles with hints of fresh mown hay and pineapple entice me seductively- like the Chateau Magence- it's CRAZY inexpensive, and from Graves, Bordeaux!


  • Anything goes for me here (I'm so easy, and so is Rose'~ LOL!) Try Mesache, Muga, Coppola Sofia, La Scolca Chiara, and Domaine Tempier Bandol. These will ROCK your world!