Wonderful Warm-Weather Whites

With the warm spring days easing into summer heat, an array of white wines have caught our fancy lately. These are all super summer sippers to pair with your patio or deck — or perhaps when serving fish, crab, scallops, oysters, shrimp, prawns, sushi or a tasty summer salad.

Our palates prefer Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris/Grigio, but there are many other choices are out there to try. We recently tasted the refreshing citrusy Albariño and the dry floral Viura, and were wowed!

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More Thanksgiving Wines

ThanksgivingThanksgiving is behind us, but we bet we’re not the only ones still eating leftovers! So here are some more wines to pair with turkey, in addition to the ones we told you about before the holiday.

Again, these are wines that were sent to us to sample over the holidays. Thank you to the wineries who shared their bounty!

screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-5-23-05-pmJoseph Phelps Vineyard 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($55)
This is the 10th vintage of Pinot Noir sourced from two of the winery’s estate vineyards in Freestone, CA — 51% from the Quarter Moon Vineyard and 49% from the Pastorale Vineyard.

The 2014 Pinot Noir is a powerful combination of fruity and savory, with earthy notes and flavors of black fruit and spices. Enjoy it now (with decanting) or over the next five years. From the winemaker:

“The 2014 Pinot Noir showcases aromatic red fruit, fragrant violet and savory spices. Fresh and focused on the palate with concentrated red raspberry and cherry, currant, baking spices and a hint of smoked meat. Nicely textured with firm acidity and a lingering finish.”

screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-6-11-45-pmCraggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 ($45)
We loved (and wrote about) the 2009 vintage of this beautiful New Zealand Pinot Noir, so we knew we wanted to open the 2013 vintage with our Thanksgiving feast. It received a unanimous thumbs up from everyone at the table — an elegant, silky, smooth and complex wine from the Martinborough wine region of New Zealand. This Pinot is stellar, featuring smoky, earthy and savory aromas and flavors. From the winemaker:

“Deep brick red colour. Vibrant aromatics of red and black cherries, rose petal, sandalwood and wet earth. On the palate, fresh red fruits and fine dry tannins provide a soft yet complex finish.”

We were fortunate to visit Craggy Range during a trip to New Zealand in 2014, and the people in the tasting room were as lovely as the wines.

screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-5-51-12-pmSequoia Grove Chardonnay 2015 ($30)
We enjoyed the 2013 vintage of Sequoia Grove Chardonnay with cilantro-lime prawns on the deck on a warm summer evening. But we recently discovered that this food-friendly Chardonnay also pairs well with many Thanksgiving side dishes.

Somehow, it’s rich and creamy, with light custard flavors — yet also refreshing with citrus zest, which will complement the heaviness of a holiday meal. We found it a little to oaky for our palates, but we know people who will absolutely love it.

And if you’re finished with turkey leftovers, pair this Chardonnay with seafood or cheeses.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Villa Maria Pinot Noir for Thanksgiving

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 5.12.52 PMRaise your hand if you knew that New Zealand’s Pinot Noir is right up there with its Sauvignon Blanc in terms of taste and value.

Good for you, because we didn’t!

Located at the northeast corner of New Zealand’s South Island, Marlborough is known internationally for its Sauv Blancs. But the region is also becoming popular for Pinot Noir.

We recently discovered this when we participated in a Nov. 4 Twitter tasting of two Villa Maria Pinot Noirs from Marlborough. Our main takeaway: Either one of these wines would pair very well with turkey and an assortment of sides during a Thanksgiving feast.

Villa Maria 2014 Private Bin Pinot Noir ($17)
This good-value Pinot Noir is very approachable and food-friendly, displaying the hallmarks of the region — the aromas of sweet red cherry and berries. This medium-bodied wine is ruby red, with a juicy palate of red berries, cinnamon and herbs. In addition to pairing well with turkey, this Pinot will complement red meats, smoked salmon or aged cheddar throughout the year.

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 5.12.26 PMVilla Maria 2013 Cellar Selection Pinot Noir ($25.00)
Also from Marlborough vineyards, this Cellar Selection has subtle smoky aromas along with red cherries on the nose, and red berry, black cherry and plum flavors on the palate. We preferred this Pinot for its silky mouthfeel, spice and earthiness, and plan to enjoy it during our family’s Thanksgiving extravaganza. Of note, it will also pair well with many traditional sides, including beet salad. Other fall and winter meals, such as lamb or wild game, will go nicely with this wine too.

Villa Maria has been a family-owned winery since 1961. In the 1990s, Villa Maria pioneered sustainable viticulture and winemaking in New Zealand, and became the country’s first wine company to declare the winery “a cork-free zone.” Villa Maria has used screw caps from the 2001 vintage onward.

There is a Washington state connection — Villa Maria wines are imported by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

Thank you to Villa Maria and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates for inviting us to the Twitter chat and providing samples to taste.

Enjoy these wines at your Thanksgiving table!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Vars & Sundry

“Vars & Sundry” is an old wire service term that refers to various and sundry news stories that don’t necessarily fit in with other stories. So it seemed a fitting title for this blog post, which is about a number of wine samples that were sent to us from different wineries. They come from Washington state, of course, British Columbia, California and New Zealand.

L’Ecole No. 41 2008 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Regular readers know that L’Ecole 41 is one of our favorite wineries in Washington state, and this rich, layered Cab Sauv exemplifies why. This is a classic  — 100% Cabernet Sauvignon blended from several premium vineyards into one fine juice, sip after sip.

This robust red is showcased beautifully by the new elegant label unveiled by L’Ecole 41 earlier this year. If you missed the story about the new label, be sure to read it – and you’ll understand how this wonderful Walla Walla winery has grown from a small family-run favorite to one known as an enduring, sophisticated creator of quality wine. ($29)

Gnekow Family Winery 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel Reserve, Lodi:  Located about an hour from Napa Valley, Gnekow prides itself on producing wines that showcase the grapes from the region. This 05 Zin is drinking nicely, a mellow but jammy wine with structure and the complexity that comes from old vines. ($25)

Mission Hill Five Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Merlot Bin 88: This beautiful winery in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia is a pioneer in Canada’s wine industry. This is a medium-bodied, everyday wine that could be paired nicely with any red meat dish. ($17)

Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010: We loved this refreshing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with prawns on the deck during the warm weather. Bursting with grapefruit and citrus flavors, we were not surprised to discover it won gold at the International Wine Show in 2010. ($14)

Thanks for the samples! Cheers!