A Wine for Tonight: 2012 Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc



By Kori ~ January 8th, 2014

Would you like a quick suggestion for a good wine to drink tonight (or this weekend) that won’t break your budget and is widely available? If so, you might want to check out the 2012 Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc from the famed Marlborough region of New Zealand.

Our selection criteria include:

  • A very good Quality rating of >=3.5 stars (out of 5)
  • A price tag of <=$20
  • Must be widely available

Regular readers know that we are big fans of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, the country’s flagship wine. Stoneleigh Vineyards is another producer worth checking out. Located on the northern side of Marlborough’s Wairau Valley, Stoneleigh came on the scene in the late 1980′s. The winery gets its name from the abundance of stones that cover the area. The stony soils and slightly warmer climate of the area produces fruit that ripens earlier than other regions of Marlborough. The Stoneleigh vineyard is home to some of the oldest grafted Sauvignon Blanc blocks in Marlborough.

“The 2012 vintage, a naturally low-yielding year, has delivered fruit full of flavour and the Stoneleigh tropical fruit ripeness that we have come to expect. Another classic Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc featuring fantastically ripe fruit displaying tropical notes with an underlying citrus edge. Crisp, vibrant and lively—this is a very pleasing wine.” –Jamie Marfell, Winemaker

2012 Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand): Very pale straw yellow in color. Aromatic with grapefruit, lime, and tropical fruit on both the nose and palate. Dry and light-bodied with racy acidity and a long, refreshing finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $15.99; Available elsewhere, $10 to $17



Filed under: A Wine for Tonight, New Zealand Wine, Sauvignon Blanc, White Wine, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25
 

Happy New Year!



By Kori ~ January 1st, 2014

Happy New Year! Best wishes for a happy, healthy, prosperous, and wine-filled 2014!



Filed under: Holiday
 

Merry Christmas from your Wine Peeps



By Kori ~ December 25th, 2013

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’” (Luke 2:10-12)

Merry Christmas!



Filed under: Holiday
 

Michelle Sparkling: New Look, Same Great Bubbly



By Kori ~ December 18th, 2013

Michelle sparkling wines from Washington State launched nationwide this fall. Previously known as Domaine Ste. Michelle, Michelle is a fresh take on their sparkling wines and feature new packaging. Located in Paterson, Washington, Michelle by Domaine Ste. Michelle is the largest producer of sparkling wines in Washington State and one of the largest sparkling wine houses in the United States, producing more than 300,000 cases each year. Michelle has been producing an excellent array of value sparkling wines for over 35 years. Rick Casqueiro has been head winemaker since 1994.

Michelle offers a Brut, Brut Rosé, and Extra Dry sparkling wine. Recently, we had the opportunity to try them in a blind samples tasting. All three sparkling wines offer very good overall quality and deliver the most bang for your buck. While the look is new, we found the same great bubbly we’ve come to know and love.

The new packaging definitely has a feminine flair. According to the winery, the majority of their sales are made to women, which is why they decided to go that direction with their refreshed image. While I understand their rationale, I hope that the new packaging doesn’t hurt their following among men. The Wine Peeps’ favorite continues to be the Brut Rosé. It is excellent and has become our “house” sparkling wine. While Dad (John) and Colby enjoy it as much as Mom (LaGayle) and I do, I think the guys are now less likely to buy it at the store since it has blush hues on a white label and comes in a clear bottle so the pink wine is clearly visible. The previous Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Rosé bottle was much more subtle.

Too often, people only think of sparkling wines to celebrate special occasions or to ring in the New Year. I absolutely love bubbly and think that it should be enjoyed on a regular basis. Sparkling wines are also very food-friendly. All of the wines from Michelle can regularly be found for under $15 at your local grocery store and are great options to become your “house” sparkling wine that you don’t hesitate to open on a random Tuesday night, just because.

NV Michelle Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 93% Pinot Noir and 7% Pinot Meunier. Small, fast bead of bubbles. Light, pinkish salmon in color. Very aromatic with fresh raspberry, watermelon, and floral notes on the nose. Raspberry, watermelon, and a touch of cranberry and cinnamon come through on the palate. Dry and medium-bodied with crisp acidity. Well-balanced with a very long, refreshing finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $14; Available elsewhere, $8 to $16

NV Michelle Brut Sparkling Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 63% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Noir, and 18% Pinot Gris. Small, fast bead of bubbles. Pale, greenish straw yellow. Aromatic with white peach, apple, and yeast on both the nose and palate. Dry and medium-bodied with lively acidity and a long, refreshing finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $14; Available elsewhere, $8 to $14

NV Michelle Extra Dry Sparkling Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 63% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Noir, and 18% Pinot Gris. Small, fast bead of bubbles. Aromatic with white peach, pear, and floral notes on both the nose and palate. Off-dry and medium-bodied with lively acidity and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $14; Available elsewhere, $9 to $16



Filed under: American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Sparkling Wine, Washington State Wine, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25
 

A Wine for Tonight: 2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Syrah



By Kori ~ December 11th, 2013

Would you like a quick suggestion for a good wine to drink tonight (or this weekend) that won’t break your budget and is widely available? If so, you might want to check out the 2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Syrah from the Columbia Valley of Washington State.

Our selection criteria include:

  • A very good Quality rating of >=3.5 stars (out of 5)
  • A price tag of <=$20
  • Must be widely available

Chateau Ste. Michelle is Washington State’s founding winery with its roots dating back to the repeal of Prohibition. In 1976, Ste. Michelle built a French-style chateau in Woodinville, just northeast of Seattle. While all of their white wines are made in Woodinville, all of their red wines are made at Canoe Ridge Estate in eastern Washington. The majority of fruit for this Syrah was sourced from vineyards on the Wahluke Slope.

“The Columbia Valley Syrah is a soft, jammy Syrah made in an approachable and fruit forward style. Syrah is blended with a touch of Viognier, Mourvedre, and Grenache for layers of flavors. This is an enjoyable, easy-to-enjoy red.” –Bob Bertheau, Head Winemaker

2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Syrah (Columbia Valley, Washington): 94% Syrah, 3% Viognier, 2% Mourvedre, and 1% Grenache. Deep purple in color. Nice nose with black fruit and spice aromas. Black cherry, blackberry, spice, and a hint of smoked meat come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, medium to high tannins, and a very long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $14; Available elsewhere, $15 to $19



Filed under: A Wine for Tonight, American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Washington State Wine, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25
 

Challenging Wine Pairing: Deep Fried Turkey



By LaGayle ~ December 4th, 2013

It’s that wonderful time of year! The holidays are upon us. The lights and decorations are up, the stores are bustling, and Christmas music fills the air in our cars, homes, and stores. And, soon, the relatives will be coming to town to celebrate.

So, for this challenging wine pairing, we decided to go beyond the traditional ham and try something a little different for a Christmas dinner meal. Deep fried turkey! While turkey is a popular holiday selection, and you still may be stuffed from Thanksgiving, in a few weeks when you sit down for Christmas dinner, this could be a fun splurge. It may not be the healthiest option; but it’s the holidays, so why not? We rounded out the deep fried turkey meal with a Christmas salad of mixed greens tossed with pecans, dried cherries, shaved Parmesan cheese, and Serrano honey balsamic vinegar; a broccoli, rice, and cheese casserole; and spice roasted butternut squash. For a lighter dessert after this heavy meal, we prepared a pumpkin fluff.

Now that our menu was set, our focus turned to the best wines to pair with the meal. We decided to go with a Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine and a Pinot Noir and selected the NV Gruet Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine and the 2009 Andrew Will Pinot Noir. Both wines were very good, but the unanimous choice as the best pairing with the deep fried turkey dinner was the Brut Rosé Sparkling. And, let’s face it; pink bubbly in a Champagne flute looks great on a holiday table as well.

What would you have paired with this meal?  And, as always, we welcome your suggestions for future challenging wine pairings.

Bon Appétit!

NV Gruet Brut Rosé Sparkling (America): Small, fairly fast bead of bubbles. Medium pink salmon in color. Very aromatic with strawberry, orange peel, and yeast on both the nose and palate. Dry and medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a long, refreshing finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle, Washington), $16.89; Available elsewhere, $12 to $17

2009 Andrew Will Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon): Medium-deep red. Nice nose with red cherry and earthy aromas. More red cherry and earth as well as raspberry and plum come through on the palate. Medium-bodied with crisp acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Full Pull Wines (Seattle, Washington), $45; Available elsewhere, $50



Filed under: American Wine, Challenging Wine Pairing, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Food & Wine, New Mexico Wine, Oregon Wine, Pinot Noir, Red Wine, Sparkling Wine, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25
 

Happy Thanksgiving!



By Kori ~ November 28th, 2013

Have a wonderful day with your family and friends as you enjoy good food and wine. And remember to give thanks for this great country, which stands for freedom, democracy, and opportunity for all. Happy Thanksgiving!

(Photo by Sharon Mollerus)



Filed under: Holiday
 

Digging into the Cellar for an Amazing Wine Pairing Dinner



By Kori ~ November 26th, 2013

There are as many different types of wine parties as there are wines. Through the years, we have hosted numerous wine parties. Regular readers are familiar with our regular Wine Tasting Dinners and have probably read about our Digging into the Cellar Parties, Tasting Groups, and Open That Bottle Nights.

Recently, we had the opportunity to host a wine party in a beautiful wine cave. Rather than having one of our normal tasting dinners in which we taste six wines of the same variety or type in a blind tasting, we decided to pull some wonderful bottles out of our cellar and pair them with a four course dinner.

Here’s a rundown of the food and wine pairings from the evening to give you some food ideas if you are inclined to host a similar dinner with friends:

Aperitif
As our guests arrived, we greeted them with a glass of bubbly.

2002 Argyle Extended Tirage Sparkling Wine (Willamette Valley, Oregon): 73% Chardonnay, 21% Pinot Noir, and 6% Pinot Meunier. Small, very fast bead of bubbles. Pale, straw yellow. Very aromatic with apple, minerality, and nutty notes on the nose. Apple, pear, and nuts come through on the palate. Dry and medium-bodied with crisp acidity. Well-balanced with a very long, refreshing finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Total Wine & More (Bellevue, Washington), $59; Available elsewhere, $63 to $75

Soup
For our first course, we served tomato basil soup paired with Gewurztraminer.

2011 Dowsett Family Winery Gewurztraminer (Celilo Vineyard, Columbia Gorge, Washington): Pale, greenish straw yellow. Nice nose with apple, pear, and lychee aromas. More lychee and pear as well as lemon notes come through on the palate. Dry and medium-bodied with lively acidity. Clean and fresh. Well-balanced with a very long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of five)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $20; Available elsewhere, $16 to $18

Salad
For the salad course, we served a mixed green salad with candied walnuts, dried cranberries, and Gorgonzola tossed with raspberry vinaigrette paired with Pinot Noir.

2009 Brittan Vineyards Basalt Block Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon): Deep red. Beautiful with red cherry and strawberry aromas. Strawberry, red cherry, and spice comes through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity and smooth tannins. Well-balanced with a long, lingering finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Full Pull Wines (Seattle, Washington), $40; Available elsewhere, $35 to $47

Entrée
For the main course, Mom (LaGayle) prepared prime rib, gratin potatoes with asiago cheese, and braised kale paired with two different wines, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

2005 Leonetti Cellar Merlot (Columbia Valley, Washington): 85% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Petit Verdot. Deep, dark red. Gorgeous nose with cinnamon and black plum aromas and flavors. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced with good complexity and a very long, smooth finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Compass Wines (Anacortes, Washington), $75; Available elsewhere, $80 to $90

2005 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Merlot. Dark, dense purple. Nice nose with aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry, earth, and caramel. More black fruit, earth, and licorice come through on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity and high, dry tannins. Well-balanced with a very long, silky finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $120; Available elsewhere, $190 to $380

Dessert
We topped off the dinner with creme brulee paired with Riesling Ice Wine.

2010 Milbrandt Vineyards The Estates Riesling Ice Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): Medium gold in color. Very aromatic with honey and apricot on the nose. Honey, apricot, and white peach come through on the palate. Sweet and medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity. Well-balanced with a very long, refreshing finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of five)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Full Pull Wines (Seattle, Washington), $25 [375ml]; Available elsewhere, $26 to $30

It was a fabulous evening of delicious food, amazing wines, and great friends. Cheers!



Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Dessert Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Food & Wine, Gewurztraminer, Merlot, Oregon Wine, Pinot Noir, Red Wine, Riesling, Sparkling Wine, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wine Tasting Dinners, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25
 

A Wine for Tonight: 2012 William Cole Vineyards Albamar Sauvignon Blanc



By Kori ~ November 20th, 2013

Would you like a quick suggestion for a good wine to drink tonight (or this weekend) that won’t break your budget and is widely available? If so, you might want to check out the 2012 William Cole Vineyards Albamar Sauvignon Blanc from the Casablanca Valley of Chile.

Our selection criteria include:

  • A very good Quality rating of >=3.5 stars (out of 5)
  • A price tag of <=$20
  • Must be widely available

William Cole Vineyards, founded in 1999, lay deep within Chile’s prestigious Casablanca Valley. Owned by Bill Cole and his Chilean family, the winery specializes in cool climate varieties. The winery makes two lines of wine: Albamar and Columbine Reserve. The Albamar wines invoke the influence of the Casablanca Valley’s foggy sunrise (alba) and the cooling breezes of the ocean (mar).

“Yellow color with green hints. This expressive Sauvignon Blanc provides notes of white flowers such as orange blossoms and jasmine and the citrus fruits grapefruit and lime. On the palate, it is fresh and easy to drink with a light yet vibrant acidity and a low to medium persistence. ” –William Cole Vineyards

2012 William Cole Vineyards Albamar Sauvignon Blanc (Casablanca Valley, Chile): 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Pale, greenish straw yellow in color. Aromatic with white peach and Granny Smith apple on both the nose and palate. Dry and light-bodied with crisp acidity and a long, refreshing finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $12; Available elsewhere, $10 to $12



Filed under: A Wine for Tonight, Chilean Wine, Sauvignon Blanc, White Wine, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25
 

Eroica: The “Gold” Standard for Washington Riesling



By Kori ~ November 13th, 2013

Riesling has become known as Washington State’s signature white variety. Washington is the largest Riesling producing state in the United States. And, Washington State’s own Chateau Ste. Michelle is the largest Riesling producer in the world. While Washington Riesling has been around for many years, the big leap forward came in the late 1990’s when Chateau Ste. Michelle and Dr. Ernst Loosen of Germany began collaborating on an effort to produce truly great Riesling in Washington’s Columbia Valley. Eroica is the result of that partnership, and it has raised the bar for the entire Riesling category in Washington.

Winemakers Bob Bertheau and Ernst Loosen work together every step of the way to produce world-class Riesling from Washington State grapes. The partnership launched in 1999, and the 2012 vintage, the current release, is Eroica’s 14th vintage. Eroica is named for Beethoven’s Third Symphony. We have found Eroica to be consistently excellent from vintage to vintage. With the 2012 vintage, the partnership also introduced a new wine to the Eroica line, Eroica Gold. Eroica Gold maintains the trademark acidity of Washington State found in the regular Eroica and combines it with German botrytis influence.

Recently, we had the opportunity to try both the 2012 Eroica and the 2012 Eroica Gold in a blind samples tasting. Both wines are excellent, but we were especially impressed with the Eroica Gold. The botrytis influence found in the Eroica Gold gives it ripe fruit flavors and sweetness. These wines are different so it may be a matter of personal preference for you, though. For us, we will gladly open either of these wines at our dinner table. Which one we choose on a given night will depend on what we are eating and whether we are in the mood for a drier or sweeter style of Riesling.

2012 Eroica Gold Riesling [Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen] (Columbia Valley, Washington): Medium golden yellow in color. Beautiful nose with apricot and orange aromas. Apricot, orange, and a touch of honey come through on the palate. Sweet and medium-bodied with crisp acidity. Well-balanced with a very long finish. Residual Sugar: 7.54%
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $28; Available elsewhere, $22 to $30

2012 Eroica Riesling [Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen] (Columbia Valley, Washington): Pale greenish straw yellow. Aromatic with white peach and floral notes on both the nose and palate. Dry and medium-bodied with very crisp acidity. Well-balanced with a very long, refreshing finish. Residual Sugar: 1.66%
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $20; Available elsewhere, $15 to $24



Filed under: American Wine, Riesling, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25