Wednesday, April 18, 2018

H&M Hofer Bio Grüner Veltliner (2015) Wine Review



Is that a bottle opener on the end of your cork screw? Why would you need that? Some of your friends are beer drinkers – gasp! Perhaps that's why, or perhaps you need a bottle opener to open your wine. 

Seeing the closure on this week’s Wine Wednesday feature, the 2015 H&M Hofer Bio Grüner Veltliner, caused me to add it to my cart.  It’s the first time I’ve seen a wine that you needed a bottle opener to open. I found this at Whole Foods (It’s made with organic grapes) and I couldn’t resist.

To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes. It’s like the first time I saw a bottle of wine with a screw cap, could it be any good?

Well, yes it can be.  I loved it. It’s one of the best Grüner Veltliners I have ever had.  Notes of pear, honey, and orange blossom on the nose presented slightly sweet with big fruit and white pepper on the palate.  It was lively on the tongue, evidence of stainless steel fermentation, and it delighted with a long finish.  It was a perfectly balanced wine, which makes it extremely versatile.

So, do you have to finish it all in one setting? No, not unless you want to. Though you can’t put the bottle cap back on, one of my wine stoppers seals it nicely.  I wrote this blog post last night while sipping on a glass, and have plans to enjoy it with Parmesan Encrusted Tilapia for dinner tonight.  Next time, I’ll plan ahead, and serve it with Wiener Schnitzel Hamburg Style, Lyonnaise Potatoes and Lettuce Salad with Hot Bacon Vinaigrette, and relive some fond food memories of days spent in Austria. Click the links below to print or save the recipe pairing suggestions.















Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Ernie Els Big Easy Red (2014) Wine Review




On Saturday night, our neighborhood wine club held its monthly gathering where each couple brings a bottle of wine and an appetizer.  This month’s theme was South African wines. I went to AJ’s Fine Foods, the best hope for something other than the limited mass production options at the local big box stores. (This is where I’m tempted to go off on a rant about the lack of wine shops in areas, especially here in AZ, where wine can be purchased in grocery stores and then big box stores, eliminating boutique wine shops with interesting finds, but I digress.) 
I was fortunate to find a bottle of Protea Chenin Blanc which I’ve reviewed in the past, and also this week’s Wine Wednesday feature, the 2014 Ernie Els Big Easy Red.  I chose to take the Chenin Blanc to the event because I was familiar with it, but also because it paired well with the Cucumber Salmon Canapés I brought as an appetizer. 
I decided to open the Big Easy Red on Sunday and as I suspected, it paired perfectly with the Grilled Lamb Chops I had planned for dinner.
Big Easy as the label states, is “big in stature, gentle in character”.  A blend of 61% Shiraz, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Mourvedre, 5% Grenache, 4% Viognier, and 4% Cinsaut. On the nose, notes of black raspberry, ripe cherry, and baking spice. On the palate, slightly herbal, with ample fruit and noteworthy pepper on the finish. This dry wine features moderate to slightly assertive tannins.
As I mentioned, we enjoyed this with Grilled Lamb Chops, try also with Braised Beef Tips and Mushrooms. Click the links below to print or save the recipe pairing suggestions.





















Wednesday, February 7, 2018

2016 Granbazán Albarino Etiqueta Verde Wine Review


It’s white wine season! Well it is in Phoenix anyway.  Though the temperatures this time of year are the very reason I moved to the Valley of the Sun, this year has been exceptional with highs hovering around 80° F every day for the last week, and forecast for the coming week as well.   So, you aren’t reading this to get a weather report? Sorry, I can’t help myself.
This week’s Wine Wednesday feature the 2016 Granbazán Albarino Etiqueta Verde is the perfect wine for warm sunny days.  From the Rias Baixas region of Spain, this Albarino (pronounced Al-boh- REEN- Yoh) is a great representation of the indigenous varietal. Etiqueta Verde translates as “green label”, denoting the entry-level offering from Granbazán.
On the nose, honeydew, kiwi, and grassy notes. It’s wonderfully zippy and refreshing on the tongue with herbal and citrus notes on the palate. The finish is crisp and citrusy, with a bit of salinity lingering.  The Rias Baixas is a coastal sub-region of the Galicia region in Northwestern Spain, and the cool, damp sea air contributes to this delicious wine. If you like Vermentino; try this Albarino. We enjoyed this with Lobster Risotto (used it in the recipe too). Try also with Steamed Mussels. Click the links below to print or save the recipe pairing suggestions.














Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Yalumba Old Bush Vine Grenache (2014) Wine Review


When you find a wine that you like, do you tend to try other offerings by the same brand?  Well, I do, and in the case of Yalumba, the winery behind this week’s Wine Wednesday feature, the 2014 Old Bush Vine Grenache, I’m finding them to be a trusted name for quality wine at an affordable price. I’ve reviewed 3 other wines by Yalumba (reviews are archived under varietal categories on this blog) and each wine is distinctly different.

I’ll go one step further, when you find a brand that you like, do you ever plan to visit the winery?  Well, I do that too. Yalumba is a family-owned winery spanning 5 generations and over 167 years. They are one of four wineries around the world with their own cooperage -  making their own barrels. When I visit Australia, I want to make the Barossa region and a visit to Yalumba part of my trip.
The grapes for this wine are sourced from low-yielding vines planted between 1898 and 1973.This old bush vine Grenache is extremely versatile for food pairing, and in my opinion, a great choice if you’re having a party - a red wine that could please the masses. If you like Beaujolais, try this wine.

In the glass, it’s a lovely ruby color. The nose features raspberry, cassis and violet notes.  On the palate, raspberry and cherry with prominent spice and pepper on the finish. It’s a wonderful medium-bodied wine and the subtle use of French oak keeps this dry wine very food friendly. We enjoyed it with Bistro Burgers (put some in the burgers too).  Try also with Maple Chipotle Glazed Cedar Plank Salmon.  Click the links below to print or save the recipe pairing suggestions.











Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Santana Savor - Mumm Napa - Wine Review


Toast the New Year with Santana!

Recently, my husband Lee and I were able to steal away for a day trip to Napa. As they like to say in Napa, “Cab is king”. Though I’m not all that crazy about Cabernet Sauvignon, I keep trying, thinking eventually I’ll find the one that will change my mind.  Though Cab is king, there is still plenty in Napa for me to enjoy. We visited several wineries and tasted at three of them. We always plan where we’ll visit before we leave and route our tour accordingly.  This time, Lee chose the wineries, but as we drove past Mumm Napa, I asked that we include it and make it one of our tastings as I was familiar with Mumm Champagne and sparkling wine and I thought just maybe we might find our bubbly for this NYE. As it turned out, we did.

Mumm Napa came about when Guy Devaux was sent by G.H. Mumm, of the renowned Champagne house in Rheims, France, to discover the ideal area in the U.S for growing Champagne grapes. The first vintage was produced in Napa in 1983.

We tasted several delicious sparkling wines (Sparkling wines can only be labeled as Champagne if they are from the Champagne region in France and if certain traditional wine producing methods of the region are used.)

As we tasted, we learned about Mumm’s Santana series.  This is a collaboration with rock guitarist Carlos Santana.  A portion of the proceeds benefit the Milagro Foundation established by Carlos Santana and his family.  The foundation provides grants to tax-exempt community organizations that work with children in the areas of education, health and the arts.

There are currently three wines in the series.  We chose Santana Savor, a blend of 47 % Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir, 6% Pinot Meunier and 2% Pinot Gris. Oh, how I love blends! The wine presents notes of stone fruit; apricot and peach as well as apple and shortbread. It is very fruit forward and subtly sweet on the finish. Because it is slightly sweet, it will pair well with one of Lee’s favorite dishes, Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas. If you’re having hors d’ oeuvres this NYE, it would also pair well with Cucumber Salmon Canapés . Click the links below to print or save the recipes.


I wish you all the best life has to offer in 2018!
















Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Brancott Estate Flight Song (2016) Wine Review


How many calories are in a glass of wine? Well, that all depends.  It was when I came across this Wine Wednesday’s feature, the 2016 Brancott Estate Flight Song Sauvignon Blanc, that I considered this question more closely.  I noticed the label said it is “crafted to be 20% lighter in calories”.  This sort of surprised me.  Of course, I’m familiar with the Skinny Girl wines, though I’ve never tried them.  To be honest, though I enjoy wine, I don’t feel I consume enough that the 20% savings in calories is worth the compromise of the wine experience.  However, it did cause me to pause because I don’t remember seeing a well-known label such as Brancott touting a low-calorie wine.  So, I shelled out the $15.99 and gave it a try.

Before I get into my review of the wine, I think it pertinent to point out where the calories in wine come from.  Generally, it’s either sugar or alcohol. Low calorie wines also tend to be lower in alcohol.  In the case of this week’s wine, it is 9% ABV. A popular equation I came across to determine the calories in a glass of wine is to multiply the serving size x % alcohol by volume x 1.6.  This equation works best for dry wines. A serving of wine is generally considered to be 5 oz. with about 5 glasses in an average bottle.  So, in the case of Flight Song, using this equation, multiply 5 oz. x 9 ABV x 1.6, and you get 72 calories. Their website indicates that there are 88 calories.  As you can see the equation isn’t exact, but it can get you in the ballpark. Keep in mind also, that some sweeter wines like Moscato are lower in alcohol, but the additional sugar could make it higher in calories than a dry white with a higher alcohol content.

So, after all that, how was the wine?  Was it the best Sauvignon Blanc I’ve ever had? No. But, it was far from the worst. I thought it might seem watery or lackluster, but I found it to have the qualities I’ve come to love in a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  On the nose, tropical fruit, grapefruit and green vegetables. On the palate it exhibited nice body and was well balanced with the citrus notes stealing the show. I found it to have a short finish – not evolving the way other favorite Sauvignon Blancs do, but in the end, I wasn’t disappointed with the purchase. 

I noticed that the regular Brancott Sauvignon Blanc has about 119 calories per 5 oz. serving and 13.5% ABV. Over the course of the holiday party season, that 34 calories per glass could allow you a few extra hors d' oeuvres and the lower alcohol content isn't necessarily a bad thing either.  Speaking of hors d' oeuvres, Flight Song would pair well with Salmon Cucumber Canapés, Crab Rangoon and Boiled Shrimp Cocktail.  Click the links below to print or save the recipes.































Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving from Wine and Opine



Each year, I like to choose one wine that stands out from all of the wines that I have reviewed so far that year as my recommendation for Thanksgiving. This year, My winner is the Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate Rosé. Read below to learn more about my choice.

I recently visited Willamette Valley Vineyards while visiting family in Oregon. The location and facility are quite impressive and the view from the entrance, breathtaking. 
This is one of the wines we tasted and decided to bring home with us. I always like it when I taste a wine at the winery and then when I get home and try it again, it’s as good as I remembered it being.  Sometimes, especially in cases like this, where the setting and ambience contribute greatly to the experience, I worry whether the wine will hold up without it. FYI, it most certainly does.
A rosé made from Pinot Noir, it is left with skin contact for 48 hours resulting in the medium pink color.  On the nose, slightly floral, hints of citrus and a pleasant minerality. Having been fermented in stainless, it is lively on the tongue with strawberry and honey notes on the palate.

This is a great summer picnic wine, quite versatile for pairing with lighter fare. We enjoyed it with Oven-Roasted Cornish Game Hens and Sage and Garlic Infused Whipped Potatoes. It occurred to me that this could be my Thanksgiving 2017 wine. 

I also noticed on the label that if you bring the bottle back to the winery, they’ll give you a 10 cent refund.  Perfect, I was looking for an excuse to go back. Click the links below for recipe paring suggestions.