Blog Archive

Auberge on the Vineyard

Auberge on the Vineyard

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Who doesn’t love a great escape? These Northern California wine country escapes offer a little bit of something for everyone. From a working ranch, a culinary school, a B&B Zen landscape,  to incredible views of vineyards as you

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Hundreds of Zinfandel aficionados descended on ZAP’s Zinfandel Tasting Experience  at the end of January  to swirl, sip, taste, and celebrate Zinfandel’s bold and unpretentious spirit.  The Zinfandel Experience is the largest single varietal tasting of its kind.  The event was hosted by ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) who is dedicated to preserving the heritage of Zinfandel.   ZAP produces many events, tours, cruises and partners with many of the wine industry’s leading organizations. This year marked the 24th Annual Zinfandel Tasting Experience, which took place

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Apricot Clafoutis

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My mom is the best chef I know. When I asked her for her clafoutis dessert recipe,  she sent me her delicious apricot version that she makes for our family and close friends along with some great chef’s tips and wine suggestions that I”m sharing here for my readers.  Clafoutis is a dessert that comes from the Limousin region of France. It’s similar to an oven baked puff pancake and is very easy to make. Traditionally, clafoutis is made with

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It’s that time of year where most of us wander about the wine aisle trying to find the right selection to pair with a meal we are hosting, to select as a gift for a friend or family member, or just serve as a simple cocktail to start off the holiday season. This list contains some classic wines and some unique selections, including

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Photo by Joe Ercoli @ anvilimage.com

 

Robert Frost once wrote, Two roads diverged in a wood/and I—
I took the one less traveled by/And that has made all the difference.

In this case, the wine road less traveled led me to Treasure Island where besides an old naval base and the location of the World’s Fair in the 1930’s there is not much afoot except fantastic views of San Francisco that await a snapshot from its next tourist. This island can be an oasis or wasteland whichever way you choose to see it, but several unique wineries have sprouted up making it their home here, including

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Arizona Desert

Arizona Desert

 

As I prepare for my trip to Arizona, I ask myself two very critical questions? What should I pack and where can I locate great wine in the desert? Not water, but wine.  So, I look in my handy Frommers guide and  three towns are listed: Cottonwood, Jerome, and Sedona. These three magical, ghostly, and mystical places weren’t on my radar as prime wine tasting regions and I feel instantly aware of my lack of wine travels outside of California. I know where every Vortex site is in Sedona, even a Psychic center for New Age, but apparently I need a Frommers guide to tell me where wine grows in Arizona.  Although, the vortex visits and red rock hikes yield some good feeling energy, my real enlightenment comes while passing through Jerome on our way back from Sedona.

Cody Burkett, Passion Cellars

Cody Burkett, Passion Cellars

At Passion Cellars, a small boutique winery at the start of town, Cody Burkett, Gentleman Adventurer (listed on his business card and very apropos), shares his extensive knowledge with us about Arizona wines.  The first critical information that Cody points out to us is that people tend to think of Arizona as all flat desert when in fact most of the varietals being produced are in regions with elevations of more than 4000-5000 feet. The very hot days and cooler temps at night mimic regions such as Mendoza, Argentina or even places in Italy where wine has been produced for centuries with success in these extreme temperatures. With low water crops like grapes, a little more struggle yields a happy, plump grape. Makes sense.

From the wine tasting list we choose 5 different wines to sample. My favorites include the Syrah 417 which Cody describes as a “1950’s pinup model – rich, voluptuous and vivacious.” I’ll have to agree there. Most notably the rich flavors of blueberry and chocolate that are present are remarkable. Another favorite and unusual wine is a greek white varietal, 2011 Freitas Vineyard’s Malvasia Bianca which has a syrupy, silky texture and notes of melon, pear, and opens with a bouquet of florals. If your’e not an intense red drinker, then the Jerome Red is a wonderful Syrah blend that’s smooth and light. This is great with food or just sipping alone. And lastly, a spicy 2012 Black Hills Zinfandel that’s aromatic and filled with ripe flavors of plum and raspberry is memorable on the palette.   The overall wine list is well balanced and each wine on the list has it’s own unique character, which I look for when reviewing wineries.

Lundon Crow, Passion Cellars/Echo Canyon

Lundon Crow, Passion Cellars/Echo Canyon

 

Next door, and part of the same tasting room,is Echo Canyon Wines. Tasting room attendant, Lundon Crow, introduces us to an eclectic collection of wines that are mostly 2003 vintages or older.  The wine list here is a hit or miss depending on each pour, but my favorite is a 2003 Crop Circle Merlot (call for info) with great rich flavors of blueberry, coffee, spice, and a smooth finish. Being on this side of the tasting room is like going on a wine treasure hunt and pulling out some of the last great bottles from unknown places.  And for this reason, I highly recommend a stop to both tasting rooms at Passion Cellars if you are driving through.

So finally, I can say I’ve tried Arizona wines and in fact, I even managed to smuggle two bottles home in my suitcase free and clear of any unfortunate breakage.

 

Happy Wine Adventures!

 

Where to Taste

Passion Cellars
417 Hull Ave.
Jerome, AZ 86331
928-649-9800

 

 

 

V Wine Bar

V Wine Bar

Approaching V wine bar, I wonder what the V stands for, maybe “very” secret location? Located on Westbourne, the cypress-lined street is a refreshing and peaceful change from a very bustling West Hollywood area.  On the shaded path, the V door is like a golden knob in a sea full of one-size fits all bars and sexy nightclubs.  And although this wine bar is off the beaten path from LA’s notable nightclubs and restaurants that line Santa Monica Boulevard, it’s charm and ambiance make it a must stop.

Walking into V Wine Room you feel like you’ve been transported into

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Vineyards at sunset by Joe @anvilimage.com

 

One of my favorite varietals,  Pinot Noir’s flavor profile can range anywhere from soft and smoky to full and lush fruity wines. I like to call the many selections anywhere from the French barnyard Pinot to the California fruity Pinot. In tasting rooms across the country, people love drinking and saying the word “Pinot” because it exudes a sophistication more than other wines. In the movie,

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Supermarket wine aisles can be pretty daunting. With rows and rows of wine bottles stuck together like little glass soldiers, picking out a wine for the right price and quality can be tricky.  Plus, most of us are generally in a hurry and don’t want to deal with calling the grocery wine expert to help.

I have several ways of dealing with my selection. One that I often tell people is there are certain varietals you can pick by region that usually do not disappoint. For example, a Pinot Noir from Russian River, a Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley, or Chateauneuf-du-Pape from just about any vineyard in France! Second is I analyze labels, but again this is time consuming. The best way is

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WildWineWoman Loxton Strawberries Chocolate Pairing

Wine and Chocolate Pairing

After a weekend in Napa and a stop at the Vintage Sweet Shoppe on Main Street, I wanted to recreate the experience at home of pairing wonderfully delicious chocolate with different wines. What makes chocolate and wine the quintessential pairing?  Wine and chocolate both have notes. Chocolate can be bitter, rich, nutty, fruity- just to name a few. Contrary to popular belief, wine and chocolate are not

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