Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Autumnal Favorites

"There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne

As the weather becomes crisper and the leaves begin to fall I thought it the opportune time to reflect upon some of our new and unique wines perfect for Autumn!

All of these wines are available to you now...and better yet...all are under $20 at The WineSellar & Brasserie!

NV Capdevila Pujol, Cava, SpainTry Cava! It's a delicious alternative to Champagne. This limited production bubbly with notes of pears, baked apples and lingering minerality is truly a showstopper! Try with apple pie or an apple tart tatin!

2009 Crnko, Jarenincan, SloveniaA delightful blend of 40% Riesling, 30% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Chardonnay from an area of Slovenia just south of the Austrian border that is thirst quenching and light with amazing aromatics. Serve this with a mustard seed encrusted pork loin!

2009 Mas Grand Plagniol, Rose, Costieres De Nimes, FranceA beautiful rose produced from Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault full of luscious red fruits and citrus. This rose with butternut squash or pumpkin soup would be an ideal Autumnal treat!

2009 Berger, Zweigelt, Austria Fun and funky, this wine comes in a 1L bottle with a crown cap just as it is served in Austrian cafes and bars! Zweigelt can best be described as having the body of a pinot noir with the spice of a zinfandel and it's 100% delicious! Put a twist on your turkey dinner with this one!

2005 Avante, Mencia, SpainNever heard of the grape varietal Mencia? Not many have, be one of the first stateside to try this phenomonal wine...notes of roasted coffee, chocolate, raspberries and dark cherries. Cutting edge and delicious with a cocoa rubbed flank steak!

R.L. Buller & Son, Muscat, Rutherglen, AustraliaFor starters this muscat just scored 96 pts from Robert Parker! It's similar to a tawny port...flavors of toffee, melted caramel, hazelnuts and maple syrup...perfectly pairs with coffee cake or gingerbread!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tis The Season....

Anyone that knows me knows that I adore anything pumpkin. I think it comes from growing up in New England. Fall has always been my favorite season; the weather starts getting crisp, the leaves begin to change color and pumpkin delights start appearing everywhere. Now that I am older my love for pumpkin has met my appreciation for beer and it has become my quest to find well made and delicious pumpkin beers. SO, I thought I would break down some of my recent favorites I have tried:

My absolute favorite...and of course the one I can't seem to get a hold of on the West Coast is Southern Tier's Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale. Pumking has the ability to embody all that is warm and comforting and displays flavors of a spicy pumpkin pie; cloves, allspice, cinnamon and fresh pumpkin, and a kick of hops all without being too sweet. It is extremely well balanced. Another charming fact about Pumking is it comes in 22oz bottles (and is 8.8%abv) so there is more to love if you are lucky enough to get your hands on some!

Coming in second for me is Dogfishhead's Punkin Ale (7%abv) I discovered Punkin on a recent trip to Bev-Mo as I was on the hunt to find as many pumpkin beers as I could. I did find a few others, but honestly they aren't worth mentioning as they were either too sweet, or oddly enough...just plain clumsy in their execution. Punkin however is a beautifully full bodied ale with hints of roasted pumpkin and brown sugar and almost a kiss of orange on the finish. Yes, Punkin is available on the West Coast but I still have come across difficulty acquiring it due to it's cult following. So I would advise to get at least 2-4 packs if you do find it, as it will only be available until around Thanksgiving.

My third and final pick was an absolute surprise to me as I walked past a cooler at Target just today and noticed a Samuel Adams Harvest Beer 12-pack (of course only available for a limited time!) that contained Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale (5.7%abv)! This is extremely exciting to this former Bostonian girl who loves Samuel Adams! What a wonderful treat! For Sam's Harvest Pumpkin it is brewed with over 11 pounds of pumpkin per barrel and has a roasted, and almost smokey quality to it due to the smoked malts and finishes with a subtle ginger note.

If you have found any of these fantastic brews and are wondering about some food pairings I'd suggest any of these for your Thanksgiving meal of roast turkey. How about Dogfishhead's Punkin with Duck a'la Orange!? Or...of course on their own to enjoy as a seasonal treat!


Friday, July 9, 2010

Franciacorta, Italy's Answer to Champagne

I'm a girl who loves Champagne and all that sparkles and on a recent trip to Italy I discovered a new favorite, Franciacorta. Franciacorta is a sparkling wine with DOCG status (since 1995) from the territory of Franciacorta in the Lombardy region of north central Italy.

What sets this sparkling apart from other Italian sparklers is that it is made in the traditional Champagne method, or as known in Italian as metodo classico. Most other Italian sparklers; Prosecco, Spumante, etc. are made using the Charmat method, where secondary fermentation occurs in a tank, rather than the individual bottles like with the Champagne method. Permitted grape varieties are Chardonnay, Pinot Nero (Noir), and Pinot Bianco (Blanc). I was so impressed with the complex, but subtle and elegant taste...and for the price, a vintage Franciacorta is a great alternative to a vintage Champagne.

My recent favorite Franciacorta finds are:

NV Ca' Del Bosco Cuvee Prestige (around $45): Yeasty, bready style, with a hint of nuttiness, minerality and great acidity

Bersi Serlini Brut Cuvee 4 Millesimo 2004 ($30) 100% Chardonnay, ripe fruit, sage, vanilla, toasted nuts and crisp acidity

Explore and enjoy!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Floral, Fruity, and Fabulous....

...are all reasons why Viognier is my go to white wine of choice. Viognier's exact origin is unknown but it reigns in the Northern Rhone appellations of Condrieu and Chateau-Grillet and is also used to soften and perfume Syrah in Cote Rotie.

Viognier has also gained popularity in the US with most production occurring in California, Oregon, Washington and New York, although many other states are producing.

I adore Viognier because as it approaches your nose it offers these beautiful floral characteristics of honeysuckle, orange blossom, acacia, gardenia and jasmine. On the palate Viognier flavors are often of dried apricots, pineapple, tangerine, peach and lemon zest. Viognier's texture is also quite seductive, silky with a succulent mouthfeel.

And as far as for food pairings it's extremely versatile and works delightfully well with spicy foods like Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian cuisine, try with Sushi, shellfish, and especially scallops or lobster. For cheeses Viognier is quite pretty with a triple-creme, or try drizzling some wildflower honey over a semi-soft sheep's milk cheese! Although my all time favorite pairing is 2007 Yves Cuilleron, Condrieau Les Chaillets with black truffles and cream pasta. Decadent indeed but the pairing absolutely sang!

So, next time you are planning on ordering a glass of Chardonnay, give this ethereal wine a try!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Tis The Saison

Recently while I was home for the Holidays I visited one of my Boston favorites; Boston Beer Works. I go to Beer Works for one of my favorite beers, their Blueberry Beer that is packed with fresh blueberries that dance in the glass. However, this trip I also tried something new, a seasonal beer they call Saison Nouveau. Saison Nouveau is an unfiltered Saison-style ale slightly orange in color with a mild spice. It was deliciously crisp with a light sweet citrus kick, spice and floral (chamomile) on the nose. Now, you may be asking what is a Saison-style ale?

"Saison" is the French word for season and these low alcohol ales were traditionally brewed in the Fall or Winter seasons and meant to refresh farmworkers. They were brewed in farmhouses in Wallonia, the French speaking region of Belgium. Saisons have been described as an endangered style, though there has been a rise in interest of this style over the past few years which I hope continues.

Cheers to Beer Works for this ale and do yourself a favor if you're in the area and grab yourself a pint of Saison Nouveau!